our book club reads happy books!

Not Quite Fifty Shades…

So I work in a library, and a couple of weeks ago I put up a book display titled “Not Quite Fifty Shades…”. Needless to say, it is the most successful display I’ve ever done – the books are flying off the shelf!


Give the people what they want, I say. The problem is, I’m running out of books for the display. And I must admit, I haven’t read “Fifty Shades of Grey”. I know, there are only a couple of us who haven’t! So I know some of you must have. Do you have other favorite “romantic” authors?  Do you have any suggestions for read-alike authors? I’m looking for books with “hot”, “steamy” or “erotic” in the description.   Any suggestions??  Thanks in advance!


Shiver Me Timbers!!!

Even though our book club discussion of this book won’t be until next month, I couldn’t resist writing about “Treasure Island!!!” by Sara Levine. I enjoyed it so much, I would give it !!!!! instead of !!!

I confess, I did read Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic before reading Levine’s novel. Like our heroine, I had never read it, considering it a “boy book”. While I don’t think it’s necessary to have read the original, I do think it added to my enjoyment of reading “Treasure Island!!!” I understood more of the references and I had already looked up “coracle” so I knew what the heck that was!

This is what a coracle looks like

Reading reviews of this book, I got the impression it is one people love or loathe. I wonder what it says about me that I loved it so much. I read it in just two days and it made me laugh out loud several times. It is original and unexpected. The heroine (or would you call her an anti-heroine?) is mean, mean, mean. I confess, in much the same way as reading a sad book leaves me feeling sad, this book left me feeling a little mean, with a tendency to say mean but amusing (at least to me) things to people I love.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the other members of our book club thought of it. I think it will make for an interesting discussion. I plan to read it again before the meeting to see if my feelings change on a second reading, and also because I just liked it that much. It’s been a very long time since that happened.

Sara Levine  has written  a brilliant, funny novel. And I’m not saying that just to be nice. Because apparently I’m not!


“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

As promised in my last post, I’m updating you on my top secret project. No, I wasn’t engaged n international espionage, I was decorating a cake, something I had vowed never to do again. But if you’re lucky, you get one 80th birthday. And if you’re really lucky, you’re husband of 59 years throws you a surprise birthday party, complete with live music. It seemed like an occassion to come out of retirement for.

My Dad asked me to bake it because years ago when my children were younger, I always decorated special cakes for their birhtdays. I retired from decorating cakes several years ago. It’s a messy business! I found other activites that I enjoyed more. So when my Dad asked me to do it, a small part of me wanted to say no. But I knew right away I would say yes. If anyone would appreciate a home made and decorated cake it would be my Mom.

The new technique I tried was fondant. What inspired me to try this? I guess the design I wanted to make. Really, how hard could it be – just go to A.C. Moore, buy the fondant, color it, roll it, and throw it on the cake, right? Well, I made the mistake of going on the internet and researching fondant and found out a lot ofpeople thought store bought fondant tasted like chemicals. Not good! I’m a person that prefers cake that you can actually eat!

Thus began my weel long adventure in fondant. What did I learn? You can make fondant a week in advance, but shouldn’t put it on the cake until a day before you’re going to serve it. That fondant is sticky, sticky, sticky! And thank goodness my husband still likes to get involved in my projects! I couldn’t have done this one without him. I won’t get in to all the gory details, but every step along the way was challenging, even the ones i thought would be easy.

But all’s well that ends fairly well:


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“The Stone Diaries”

Over the weekend I started working on a top-secret project that is really stressing me out!

There are several reasons for the stress: I am trying a technique I’ve never done before, I have a limited amount of time to do it, and I want it to turn out great. But the biggest reason it is stressing me out is because, while I have done some initial prep work, it really can’t be done very far in advance. So it’s sink or swim – if it doesn’t turn out, I’m screwed. My Plan B? Make it work!! (Do I have you curious? I promise to post the results – the good, the bad, or the ugly!)

So anyway, I can’t really do anything on my project until the end of the week. Except obsess and worry about it, something I could definitely earn a blue ribbon for! In an effort to get my mind off it, I thought I’d write about a great book I read recently.

The book is “The Stone Diaries” by Carol Shields. This is a book that’s been on my “to be read” list for years. I have also been avoiding it for years. I’m not sure why I was avoiding it. I think it might have something to do with the fact that it won a Pulitzer. Somehow I got the idea that reading a Pulitzer Prize winning novel was like eating green beans – it may be good for me, but I won’t enjoy it! (I had the same experience with “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides. It won a Pulitzer, I heard great things about it, but I had a hard time convincing myself to read it. It is a beautiful novel.)

“The Stone Diaries” is the story of one woman’s life from birth to death. What makes the novel unique is the way in which the author plays with points of view. Given the wide scope of the novel (an entire lifetime!) the novel is relatively short (269 pages). I think the opening chapter is a masterpiece. It is an example of one of the reasons I loved the book – I really cared about the characters, even those who only appear briefly in the book.

But what amazed me about the book, was, somehow, it felt like Carol Shields was writing about my life. Despite the fact that the central character, Daisy’s life is nothing at all like mine! I came away from the novel not only feeling as if I knew the characters, I also felt like the author knew me. I guess you could consider Daisy an “everywoman”.

What a took away from the novel was nothing new: even the longest life is short. Make the most of it. It reminded me that “this too will pass” – the good and the bad. Enjoy and celebrate the good, persevere and endure the bad.

I’ve read some reviews of this book that called it depressing and I understand how some people would feel that way. I found it thought-provoking and moving. I stayed up late to finish reading it, which I haven’t done it a while with a book.

Now, back to worrying…no wait, I’ll enjoy the anticipation! Someone recently said to me “I’ll see you tomorrow, unless something happens”. I replied, “something always happens…that’s what makes life exciting!” Here’s hoping the excitement is happy!