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The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine – by Alexander McCall Smith

FROM AMAZON’S BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“Precious Ramotswe, the esteemed proprietor of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, now faces her greatest challenge yet: a vacation!

Business is slow at the agency—so slow in fact that, for the first time in her distinguished career, Mma Ramotswe has reluctantly agreed to take a holiday. The week of uninterrupted peace is cut short, however, when she meets Samuel, a wayward young boy with a troubled past. Moreover, Mma Ramotswe can’t help but wonder how the agency is faring in her absence. Her worries grow when she discovers that Mma Makutsi is handling a rather delicate case.

Ultimately, the situation will require Mma Ramotswe to draw upon her kindness, generosity, and good sense, and will serve to remind them all that ordinary human failings should be treated with a large helping of charity and compassion.”

FIRST SENTENCE:

“Mma Ramotswe remembered exactly how it was that the subject of taking a holiday arose.”

MEMORABLE MOMENT:

(Page 109)  “She had always preferred to remember the positive points in a person’s life, but she knew that there were those who thought less of her for that.  To dwell on such things was said by some to be a sign that you were not aware of how things really were; but she was, she was.  She knew as well as anyone that the world could be a place of trial and sorrow, that there was injustice and suffering and heartlessness – there was enough of all that to fill the great Kalahari twice over, but what good did it do to ponder that and that alone?  None, she thought.”

MY THOUGHTS:

I’m afraid I’m beginning to sound like a broken record when reviewing the books in this series, but what I always have to say is positive, so I guess that makes it okay.  Here we are at book 16 and despite the ordinary-ness of the characters’ lives, I’m always pleased to lose myself in their world and feel totally satisfied at the conclusion.  Even the fact they’re a bit formulaic is soothing.  It never comes across as stale.

I felt this volume had a little more humor than usual and I noted the author touched, however so lightly, on some more serious issues of our times.

Bottom line – it continues to be a wonderful series that never fails to capture my heart and imagination.  Enough said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Kelly | July 20, 2016

One-sentence Movies Reviews #20

1.     The Revenant –   I can certainly understand now why DiCaprio received an Oscar for his performance in this – and man, oh man… that bear attack scene!

2.    World’s Greatest Dad – Definitely not one of Robin Williams’ better movies, we found it quite slow and rather boring.

3.    In the Heart of the Sea – It seemed to be a fairly good film, but I really didn’t pay attention to it that closely since I was trying to familiarize myself with a new laptop at the time – plus the subject matter wasn’t a favorite of mine.

4.    Our Brand is Crisis –  Sandra Bullock stars in this adaptation of a 2005 documentary of the same name… and given all the political mess currently in progress, I’m not sure if I was more entertained or disgusted by this film – but it’s interesting, to say the least.

5.    Extraction – I like Bruce Willis, but this is a mediocre film at best and the limited amount of time he appears on screen hardly qualifies the top billing status he receives.

6.    Learning to Drive –  I won’t say this was a bad film, but it sure could have been a lot better for a variety of reasons.

7.    Diablo – I enjoy westerns and I had hopes, despite some pretty “iffy” reviews, that this one starring Clint Eastwood’s son (Scott) would be good – but it just didn’t live up to his father’s legacy at all.

8.    The Visit – M. Night Shyamalan films tend to be hit or miss and while I won’t say this one was exactly a miss since it kept me totally entertained, I can’t put it anywhere near the level of Signs or The Sixth Sense.

9.    Concussion – Excellent movie and whether you like American football or not, I highly recommend seeing this!

10.  The Runner – Normally anything dealing with Louisiana politics is pretty entertaining, but perhaps the glut of current real life politics made this movie less appealing – that and Nicholas Cage’s attempts at a southern accent.

Posted by: Kelly | July 18, 2016

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

 

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Gone With the Wind – by Margaret Mitchell

FROM AMAZON’S BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“Since its original publication in 1936, Gone With the Wind—winner of the Pulitzer Prize and one of the bestselling novels of all time—has been heralded by readers everywhere as The Great American Novel.

Widely considered The Great American Novel, and often remembered for its epic film version, Gone With the Wind explores the depth of human passions with an intensity as bold as its setting in the red hills of Georgia. A superb piece of storytelling, it vividly depicts the drama of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

This is the tale of Scarlett O’Hara, the spoiled, manipulative daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, who arrives at young womanhood just in time to see the Civil War forever change her way of life. A sweeping story of tangled passion and courage, in the pages of Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell brings to life the unforgettable characters that have captured readers for over seventy years.”

FIRST SENTENCE:

“Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.”

MEMORABLE MOMENTS:

(19% into the Kindle)  “What most people don’t seem to realize is that there is just as much money to be made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one.”

(63% into the Kindle)  “It’s a poor person and a poor nation that sits down and cries because life isn’t precisely what they expected it to be.”

MY THOUGHTS:

With my Kindle version  (75th anniversary edition featuring a preface by Pat Conroy, whose commentary I found to be fascinating) weighing in at 1057 pages, this more than qualifies as my fourth book completed for my personal “tome” challenge.

As a good southern girl, I can’t think of anyone I know personally who hasn’t seen the film version of Gone With the Wind at least once in their life.  The 1939 classic won numerous awards and is often shown on TV.  My first memory of seeing it was at the movie theater when I was a pre-teen and I remember my mother “preparing me” for the single profanity uttered at the end of the movie:  “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

It was’t until a few years ago that I decided I really should read the book.  Rarely do movies measure up – even those as critically acclaimed as this one.  I felt sure there would be many things cut from the film, despite its four-hour run time.

I’m so glad I took the time and effort to read it, but I’m also glad I waited so many years.  I’m not sure I could have appreciated it to its fullest in my younger days.  Much like the differences between the book and film versions of The Help by Kathryn Stockett, the book is darker, addressing the issues of the time (good and bad) in a more serious manner.  And keep in mind – the film was made only three years after the book’s publication and Hollywood was not as risqué or controversial at that point.  Hence, only one cuss word in the movie and no mention of prostitutes, the Klan, etc.  … much more sanitized.

It’s been some years since I’ve watched the film, but that didn’t stop many scenes (and the music) from playing through my head while reading.  What surprised me was the difference I felt in how I related to many of the characters, Scarlett and Melanie in particular.  I’ve also found the older I get that I have an entirely different mindset when it comes to the American Civil War.

If you think Gone With the Wind is just a love story or a romantic glorification of the American South and slavery, then you’re wrong.  It’s a far deeper look at a time and place in history and human nature in particular.  I highly recommend it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Kelly | July 15, 2016

Avocado Pasta

I’m happy that my kids (well, two out of three) enjoy cooking.  I’m also happy that they pass along interesting recipes they find.  It’s funny how many of them seem to be avocado related.

The recipe below is one my daughter ran across on Facebook.  Normally I’m not much of a pasta person.  I can take it or leave it.  But when I saw what all went into this sauce, I couldn’t resist trying it.  Considering it’s not really about the pasta for me, (I’d much rather have it over-sauced than under-sauced) I decided to double the recipe.  Turns out I had far too much sauce and have since learned the recipe as shown is just right for a 7oz. package of spaghetti.  For those worried about the lack of meat – I usually broil a chicken breast with some lemon-pepper seasoning to serve with my husband’s portion.

 

Avocado Pasta

 

Avocado Pasta

 

The readers of broken wheel recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – by Katarina Bivald

FROM AMAZON’S BOOK DESCRIPTION:

“Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds Amy’s funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor-there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair.

You certainly wouldn’t open a bookstore. And definitely not with the tourist in charge. You’d need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy’s house is full of them), and…customers.

The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel’s own story might be more eccentric and surprising than she thought.

A heartwarming reminder of why we are booklovers, this is a sweet, smart story about how books find us, change us, and connect us.”

FIRST SENTENCE:

(from opening letter)  “Dear Sara, I hope you enjoy Louisa May Alcott’s An Old-Fashioned Girl.”

(from chapter one) “The strange woman standing on Hope’s main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous.”

MEMORABLE MOMENT:

(Page 11)  “Sara had never believed that you had to meet someone in person to be friends – many of her most rewarding relationships had been with people who didn’t even exist – but suddenly it all felt so false, disrespectful even, to cling to the idea that she and Amy had, in some way, meant something to each other.”

MY THOUGHTS:

I had such high hopes for this book.  Just look at the last paragraph in the description above.  Doesn’t that sound like a perfect book for a book lover, for a book club?  Unfortunately, it fell a bit short for me.  Don’t get me wrong… it’s a pleasant story to read and I found many things to like about it, but I kept finding myself thinking of ways I would have done it differently.  The premise is unusual, quirky, and entertaining, but something about it seemed a little flat.  I was well into the story when I realized the book was originally written in Swedish and translated to English.  I’m convinced that might be part of the problem.  Maybe some thoughts and ideas just didn’t translate well.

Despite my general (if unspecified) disappointment, I enjoyed the plot and many of the characters.  There’s a handy little section at the back of the novel listing all the book titles, authors, and shelf categories referenced throughout the story along with a set of discussion questions and a Q&A with the author.  I believe we’ll get some good discussion out of it at our meeting.

 

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Tracy was not able to track down this book or our next two, so she won’t be joining in again until our October meeting.

Since July is the perfect month for a picnic spread, that’s exactly what our hostess provided – except in the luxury of her air-conditioned home rather than outside.  Lots of fresh fruits and veggies, cheese and crackers, and a strawberry pie!

In general, everyone really enjoyed the book.  One other member felt much as I did … that there were some things she would have done differently.  I think, perhaps, the change that would have most enhanced the book for me would have been for Sara to open a library rather than a bookstore.  That venue would have made more sense to me as a way to connect the townsfolk to various books.  And speaking of that – I would love to have had more connections between the characters and books.  It took too long in the story for that to start happening.

Still, in the grand scheme of things it was an enjoyable book and one I felt was good for a book club to read.

 

 

 

 

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