My Book Club Reads Other Stuff Too! (2)

I am still tuckered out from all of the excitement from Book Expo America and the Book Blogger Convention that I am not ready to talk about all the books I saw and the bloggers I met, so until that time, I will leave you a second installment of some of the books that my reading club friends are reading.

My friend R.T. is reading two books.  One, A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens,  is a classic that I haven’t read since the fifth grade and the other a book that I have heard so much about, that it is a wonder that I haven’t read it already.  R.T. says that she like Loved Walked In so much, that she just might make it a book club selection.

Once again I am reading two books. One is Love Walked In, by Marisa de los Santos. I am really enjoying this book. It’s the story of 2 girls, Clare and Cornelia. Clare is 11 years old and is abandoned by her mentally ill mother. She tries to fend for herself but eventually ends up having to rely on her somewhat unreliable father. Cornelia is a young woman who hasn’t found her calling yet and is hoping for love while working in a coffee shop. Turns out Cornelia is dating Martin, Clare’s father, and the two girls come together unexpectedly and develop a bond.

The book alternates chapters between Cornelia’s story and Clare’s. I like it because they are both interesting characters that you can really identify with and root for. When the two come together and you see each one come to trust and care for the other it’s touching and funny and heart-breaking all at the same time. Unlike other books, you aren’t quite sure how it’s going to end and you aren’t sure who will end up with whom. I am reading it with my girlfriend and we each have our own theories which is fun.

The other book I am reading is a classic – A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. I never read this classic book and wasn’t sure what to expect. Some classics are heavier and more cumbersome than others. Thankfully I am really enjoying this as well. The language is a bit tough so I have to read some sentences twice to make sure I get it. But, it’s actually kind of fun deciphering things and once you get into the flow of the language then the story comes alive. Sometimes stories set back so far in history are hard for me to get into. Not true here. The plot is already engaging and I felt invested in Lucie from the start.

Another friend of mine, J.P., usually likes to read non-fiction, but right now she just finished  delving into some historical fiction, which as you know is a favorite around here.  J.P. makes Sex Wars sound like a book that I would love to check out.  The title is very misleading to me.  I think that I was expecting a non-fiction sociological study on the difference between the sexes.  Here is what she had to say about that book and also the new one that she is reading.

Sex Wars, by Marge Piercy, which was an amazing historical fiction piece about NYC after the Civil War. One of the things I most love about the book is that it focuses on the strengths of women during this time and how they effected change. Most notably women such as susan b anthony, elizabeth stanton and Victoria woodhull. Throw in the mix Cornelious Vanderbuilt and anthony comstock, two unsavory men wielding their power and you’ve got plenty of struggle and drama. These women are up of the challenge. I found the stories inspirational and engrossing and highly recommend this book.

Just started Noelle Oxenhandler’s The Wishing Year: A House, A Man, My Soul. I’m only on page 65 now, but already enjoy her conversational writing style. It’s as if shes sitting next to me in the room telling me her story.

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What are your bookish pals reading?

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Do People Actually Eat At Book Expo America? Or My Favorite Places To Eat In New York City! Pt.2

Are you running out of places to eat yet?  Here are a few more of my favorites that are scattered around the city!

A Cafe And Wine Room –  Before I looked it up, I always knew this place as A.  Self-described as organic French Caribbean cuisine, it is probably one of the best restaurants that I have been to and it is a lot of fun.  It’s BYOB (with no corkage fee) and a really small and intimate space.  You get such personal attention that it is usually the chef that comes over and discusses the menu with you, and he will recommend dishes if you need a little help deciding between all of the goodness.  Up in the Columbia area, it’s out of the way of the Javits and mid-town, but worth a visit if you have the time.

Agave – I was just here on Monday night with Candace, Swapna and Dawn.  You can ask them if I steered them wrong.  I sometimes forget how much I love corn until I have it a Mexican restaurant.  Their corn is delicious! Their margaritas are tasty and the staff was friendly.  The menu has lots of innovative and more traditional Mexican fare.  I am partial to their lemon ricotta pancakes at brunch – they are some of the best I have had – and if you refer back to the first post you will know that I am really picky about pancakes.

Gray’s Papaya – I find that I eat them less and less, but I still love a good hot dog, and at Gray’s they grill them!  I haven’t had a boiled hot dog since I was a child.  Molly asked people attending BEA to have a hotdog for her since she can’t be with us this time, but I told her mine had to be grilled. This would be the hot dog that I had on her behalf.   They have a few locations through the city, and if you see a Nathan’s around, I think their hot dogs are just as tasty.

Turkish Kitchen – Despite the fact that it is on the East Side, Turkish Kitchen is my go-to place when I am in the mood for Turkish food.  I like the atmosphere, they have great drinks, Turkish wine and I love their phyllo rolls, dumplings in yogurt and garlic sauce, and their doner kebab.  They have really great lunch specials and a killer baklava.  I wasn’t even a fan of that dessert until I had it here.  Now I sample it all over the place, and I always get it for dessert when I go here.

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Hey Nicole, no pictures?  Dude…I am so tired.  It has been a whirlwind here.  So fun, but a whirlwind!

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She’s So Dead To Us, by Kieran Scott – Book Review

Ally Ryan’s life was turned upside down when her family had to flee Orchard Hill in disgrace after her father, a wealthy and successful hedge fund manager, lost most of the money of the town’s richest families in a financial scheme gone awry.  Her father  further devastates the family by abandoning them shortly after they leave Orchard Hill.

Two years later, Allie’s  mother has worked her way back to the town and is happy to be back even though their circumstances and means are drastically reduced.  She gets a position as a teacher in the high school, starts dating and reaches out to old friends, but the same cannot be said for Ally. Her path isn’t easy – old friends seem to hold her personally responsible for the privations that they have suffered.  The only bright spot in her life is Jake Graydon, the new guy who now lives in her old house and has become a part of her former inner circle.  The two have chemistry, but it remains to be seen whether her old friends or even Jake will allow their relationship to develop into something more.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kieran Scott’s She’s So Dead To Us.  Ally has been dealt some rough circumstances, but is a plucky character and she knows that her mother is doing the best that she can to hold it together – therefore she has to do the same thing.  I felt for her that she had to step in and pretend she is having  an easy time of it in order to support her mom.  Ally makes the best of her situation in order to find a new place for herself in the school and face up to just how much she and her friends were snobs and held themselves apart from the rest of the students.  In her reduced circumstances, she has to fight with her former friends to win back a semblance of a social life and meets wonderful new friends along the way.  It’s not  a simple thing to face down the people whose livelihood your father has destroyed and Ally does this with as much grace and wit as she can muster.

I really liked the way that parents were present and included in the story.  Ally’s mom checked in with her daughter and each was aware when the other was in a sticky situation.  At the times when it was appropriate, other parents were present in the story as well.  Ally is a great character and I loved how she struggled with the realizations of the way that she lived her former life and the coming to grips with the full effects of what her father’s mistakes had  done to the lives of her family and families of her friends.

Scott has written a thoroughly engaging novel exploring the ins and out of the in crowd and what happens when you and your family no longer belong.  I was anxious to see what would happen at the end, and boy was I surprised to find out that this is the first of three – so as you can imagine some thing were resolved but others exploded into the open.  Can’t wait for the next one!

Highly Recommended

As an Amazon Associate, I’ll make a tiny profit if you click on the book cover or link, and buy this book or another through one of my links.

Book Information: She’s So Dead To Us, Kieran Scott
Publisher, Publication Date & Other Info: Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing – May 25, 2010 – Hardcover – 256 pages
Author Website/Other Links and Resources: Kieran Scott
Source: Review Copy Sent By The Publisher

Read More Reviews At: Bookfoolery and BabbleJust Your Typical Book Blog –  The Book Nest –  Peaceful Reader – I Just Wanna Sit Here And Read!

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My Name Is Mary Sutter, by Robin Oliveira – Book Review

In My My Name Is Mary Sutter, Robin Oliveira’s debut historical novel unfolding against the backdrop of the American Civil War, the titular character is the headstrong twin daughter of the foremost midwife in Albany, New York.  With single-mindedness of purpose, Mary has contacted just about every doctor and medical school within her reach in a desperate attempt to further her dream of being a surgeon. When the man she is in love with marries someone else, Mary decides to escape Albany and all the personal and professional rejection she has experienced, and steals away to Washington, DC.  There she answers the call of Dorothea Dix, a Lincoln adviser who is looking for nurses to help staff the Army doctors, whom she knows to be woefully unprepared for the ensuing carnage.  Turned away because of her age, Mary proceeds with grim determination to find a place for herself in the war at a price that is almost impossible for her to pay.

My Name is Mary Sutter is an engrossing read.  I was captured immediately by this forceful young woman.  I was taken by her mastery of midwifery and the fact that she sought to challenge herself that much more after she found that she had an unwavering thirst for knowledge about the mysteries of the human body.  Even as a wealthy and well-educated white woman, the opportunities for her to satisfy her curiosity and her calling were slim.  I watched her struggle with the constraints that her position in society placed on her,  the need that she had to learn, and was impressed by her tenacity and boldness.  Mary isn’t the best looking, nor does she have the necessary social graces that would ease her way in the world.  Mary is acutely aware that these “shortcomings” might have cost her love, but she can’t be anything other than she is and she does have her intelligence and undeniable skill as a midwife, as her twin sister is quick to point out in justification of her own questionable actions.

Oliveira’s novel is richly detailed and you can see all of the research that she put into this work – it’s just dripping from its pages.  She fully captures both the naivete and the horrors that surround this war in particular, but  it was also apparent to me that though our methods have become more sophisticated, a lot of the situations that she explores in relation to war are still relevant and unchanged. Amidst all of the stunning detail she brings to life a few different love triangles, so that balanced against all the unnatural and surreal events of war taking place around them, there are the underlying trappings of life – mixed emotions, jealousy, heartbreak and betrayal, familial obligation and love.  Though Mary has the attention of two surgeons whom she holds in high esteem, the past that she tries to escape still has a hold on her. Mary must decide whether family loyalty will win out over her needs as an individual.

As wonderful as I found the personal tribulations of Mary and the vividly portrayed times, I was a little surprised that almost no mention was made of how Mary and her family felt about the reasons two of their family members were fighting in the war, nor was there much mention of the reasons that the the American Civil War was being fought.  Especially with the novel detouring into the heads of historical figures like Abraham Lincoln, John Hay and Dorothea Dix, I found it odd that there was no mention of the issues, nor was there any African-American presence in the novel.  This might have made more sense to me if the novel had left them (Lincoln, et al) out , and concentrated only on Mary’s quest for self -realization, but politicians are clearly, and I thought unnecessarily, introduced into the novel.  Mary’s story was so compelling that I only noticed, as I closed the last page, just how little slavery or how Mary and her family felt about the issues that had drawn the country into war were mentioned.  Oliveira might have been focusing solely on the medical aspect and Mary’s personal story, but a few more references in a novel based in this time period would have gone a long way.

Even though such omissions gave me food for thought, I enjoyed Oliveira’s descriptive writing and observations, and thought she did a great job in telling Mary’s story.  If you are at all interested in the Civil War, strong female characters, and women’s quest to gain a hold in the medical world, this novel is sure to be of great interest.

Recommended.

As an Amazon Associate, I’ll make a tiny profit if you click on the book cover or link, and buy this book or another through one of my links.

Book Information: My Name Is Mary Sutter, by Robin Oliveira
Publisher, Publication Date & Other Info: Viking Adult – May 13, 2010 – Hardcover – 384 pages
Author Website/Other Links and Resources: Robin Oliveira
Source: Review Copy Sent By The Publisher

Read More Reviews At: Caribou’s Mom Booking Mama

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Do People Actually Eat At Book Expo America? Or My Favorite Places To Eat In New York City! Pt.1

I was at Book Expo America last year, and as I look back on it the only time I remember eating anything was when I went out and had dinner at Dos Caminos with Jen and Trish. Other than that I vaguely remember bottled water, fruit, and granola bars.  I think I mostly popped home to have  a quick bite and then went out later and had drinks at the meet-ups, tweet-ups and everything in between.

Now that just doesn’t seem right, does it? If you have been reading this blog for even a little while, you will know that food is very important to me. And I will be taking steps to make sure that what happened last year, never happens again.  I know that you will be distracted by all the books and bloggers and just general excitement over being at BEA, and if you are looking for what events and panels that book bloggers are looking forward to at BEA, then my friend Jen over at Devourer of Books has you covered.  But if you’re looking to have a good meal…well then, allow me!

There are so many places to eat on the city that it is ridiculous.  You can literally eat at a different place every day for dinner and not repeat yourself.  In the midst of so many options, I am going to share with you the places that I have returned to again and again.  I’ll even tell you my signature dish at each place because yes, I am the girl that goes to a restaurant because I am hankering after something in particular.  If I have something at a restaurant and love it, that becomes my meal there. Period.

Andrew’s Coffee Shop – is a chain that I discovered back when I worked in Midtown Manhattan.  I used to meet one of my co-workers there every Friday before work for breakfast – so yes, fond memories.  It’s regular diner fare, but the food hits the spot and luckily for us there is one a few avenues over from the Javits center.  So whether you need a quick bite to get you started for the day or a burger and fries at lunchtime to keep you strong for carrying books, this place will fill the bill. Now, I am virtually incapable of going to a diner and having anything other than breakfast.  I just can’t do it, so I am usually an eggs and toast girl here.  I am picky about pancakes like you wouldn’t believe, but I have it on good authority that they make a mean burger.

Europa Cafe – Another favorite from my corporate days.  They do a good breakfast, and I love to pop in for their soups, salads and sandwiches.  It’s one of my favorites for this kind of sandwich place, the other being Cosí (and there- it’s all about their bread).  I like the plainest sandwiches in the world, so mine is usually special order turkey with lettuce, tomato and mayo on whole wheat bread.  Every now and again I will have a sandwich they make.  Usually something that includes green apples and brie cheese.  This one is near Penn Station and a little further away, but you should be able to pop over and back from Javits in about an hour or less, or pick up lunch in the morning and have it with you on the go.

Fat Annie’s Truck Stop – A favorite of mine when I want a drink and snack before an event at Madison Square Garden,FATS is THE place to go for heart attack snacks.  I always get their biscuits and gravy but have also had their tater tots and Frito Lay pie.  Their menu is all kinds of crazy deep fried cheese and nachos with pulled pork on top, but I have a feeling that you can’t go wrong here as long as you don’t become a regular.

Clinton St. Baking Company & Restaurant – This place is tucked away in the East Village, but if you have a chance to pop over there I HIGHLY recommend it.  I am a very picky pancake eater and they have  some of the best that I have tasted!  They also do a mean biscuits and gravy!  People have waited well over an hour to eat here.  I have waited well over an hour to eat here.  I was cold and annoyed, as it was in the middle of the winter, but it was WELL worth it.  And I’m not one for waiting in lines, just saying.

Community Food and Juice is the health food version and sister restaurant to Clinton Street Baking Co.  I love their brunch.  The blueberry pancakes with maple butter are so good, and I have eaten dinner here as well.  The salmon bowl with greens and brown rice is lovely.  And they have equally lovely cocktails, outdoor seating, and are near about three different independent book stores. Really? Do you need more excuses to eat here?

Gyu-Kaku – A friend and I decided to try this out on a whim one day and I have been going back ever since.  I even dragged Lenore and her husband there last year after we spent the morning touring Hachette Book Group.  I like to pretend that I am eating very healthy because they give you these tiny cuts of meat and vegetables to grill right on the table in front of you, but really that means I just eat many times as much food.  Oh, well.  I always get miso soup, salad, rice and dessert to go along with it.  For dessert, I usually have these tiny grillable pancakes with bean paste and green tea ice cream.  SO good!

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I had too many to share in one post, so I will be back for a part 2.  Is anyone looking for recommendations in a particular neighborhood? A certain cuisine?

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Life After Yes, by Aidan Donnelley Rowley – Book Review

Life After Yes, Aidan Donnelley Rowley, Girl in Dress with Red Sash

Life After Yes, Aidan Donnelley Rowley, Girl in Dress with Red SashQuinn O’Malley is supposed to be happy.  She has just said yes to a marriage proposal from a wonderful man, is a successful New York attorney on the fast track with an entire career and lush life ahead of her, but despite all of these things she is still plagued by nightmares which seem to suggest that she might be in the process of making a terrible mistake.

Last year I had the opportunity to read a copy of Life After Yes when it was still in its manuscript form.  I received a bound set of printed pages – the ARCs of this book didn’t even exist yet!  While it was a lot of fun to experience the book in that form and to see a different part of the publishing process, I was concerned when I started to read this novel because I really disliked Quinn and, basically, all of her friends and co-workers.  She has grown up in a privileged existence and it shows in all of the worst ways.  Her entitled and ridiculous behavior reached out and grated on me from the page, and I wondered just what I had gotten myself into. At that point in time, I had been invited to participate in an in-house book club for Life After Yes over at the Harper Collins offices, where the author would be present!  I really thought that I wouldn’t like her book at all and imagined being reduced to inane comments like, “What I really enjoyed was the way you used words to make sentences.”  Thankfully, I needn’t have worried!

Empathizing with and even starting to like Quinn the tiniest bit are a testament to the skill of this talented author, and I am amazed she is a new kid on the block and that this is her first novel.  As I continued reading Life After Yes, I was amazed by Donnelley Rowley’s unflinching yet layered exposition of Quinn as she navigates New York post-9/11 in an attempt to figure out whether the choices that she is making will lead to a fulfilling life, live with leftover remnants of her fear in the wake of tragedy, make peace in her relationship with her mother, and come to grips with the death of her father in the Twin Towers- arguably the most important person in her life.

In portraying Quinn’s growth and yet highlighting the incompleteness of that growth, Donnelley Rowley invites the reader to connect with the character through our understanding of our own complexities, human frailty, and the convoluted reasons we give for our actions when we are just trying so hard to make life work.  Life After Yes deftly straddles the line between offering a few of the lighter elements of contemporary women’s fiction, while still addressing serious issues of loss, finding the right partner, and finding the balance in family and career goals.  Donnelley Rowley also examines alcohol and overwork as common ways that we anesthesize ourselves, and the inherent dangers that come with not facing your life.  The character of Quinn O’Malley is spectacularly imperfect, but she was never boring and I always wanted to know what her next step would be and quickly became invested in my role as reader and cheerleader for her growth.  And for me, that makes for a great read!

Highly Recommended.

As an Amazon Associate, I’ll make a tiny profit if you click on the book cover or link, and buy this book or another through one of my links.

Book Information: Life After Yes, by Aidan Donnelley Rowley
Publisher, Publication Date & Other Info: Avon A – May 18, 2010 – Trade Paperback– 368 pages
Author Website/Other Links and Resources: Ivy League InsecuritiesCheck out what Aidan had to say about how she felt on the release date of Life After Yes
Source: Review Copy Sent By The Publisher

Read More Reviews At: Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker

Want More Like This?  Try: This One Is Mine, by Maria Semple

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If you live in NYC, Aidan Donnelley Rowley will be doing a reading at the Borders on 57th Street and Park Avenue.  It’s on Thursday, May 20 at 7pm.  I plan to go!

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Touching Home – Movie Review

Touching Home Move Poster

Touching Home Move PosterLast Friday night I took my mom to a screening  of the independent film Touching Home.  It’s a special movie and I wanted to share the experience with her because I had gushed to her so much about the book about the making of this movie, Either You’re In or You’re In The Way, by Logan and Noah Miller.

Touching Home, which is largely inspired by the lives of the filmmakers,  tells the story of twin brothers Clint and Lane Winston.  All their lives the boys have wanted to play baseball, be with each other and have a relationship with their father, who has been an alcoholic for most of their lives.  Though it is not explicitly stated, you get the feeling that these boys have spent most of their lives hoping to make their father proud of them.

The movie begins as Clint and Lane are returning home after Clint (I think – remember they are twins) has failed out of community college.  The boys’ plan is to save up money to go to try outs for the Colorado Rockies baseball team, however distractions at home quickly derail their agenda.  Differing opinions on how to handle the difficult relationship with their father and his drinking, their chances for success in their field (pun intended), and fatigue from the backbreaking manual labor at the quarry keep them at odds with each other and their goals.  The movie explores how they come to terms with their situation and gives a glimpse of the paths they utimately choose to take.

Touching Home is a marvel of a movie.  Though the framework of pursuing dreams in the face of adversity is a familiar one, this story escapes being contrived and stays fresh because of the bittersweet reality depicted in the humble surroundings in the scenes and the heartiness and depth of the performances.  I felt like  was watching real people and lives on the screen and I had several moments where my reaction to the events unfolding was very emotional.  You know how you see something coming and you want to stop it from happening, but you can’t because it’s a movie? Well, those were the types of moments I was having.

I love watching movies and reading  books that offer me the opportunity to reflect on life and that highlight issues that I encounter and am grappling with.  I was really taken by the accuracy of the portrayal of small town life, and thought about how many people of different cultural backgrounds live such similar existences – this could have been my grandfather’s life and town in Alabama – yet are odds with each other  because each deems the other alien in some way.  The opportunities to see films which explore and celebrate these lives can be few and far between so I am always grateful for the opportunity to experience that perspective.

Touching Home has been getting wonderful press reviews, and if you have the opportunity I would really recommend that you take the opportunity to experience this film.  As with many independent films, it is in very limited release so check the schedule to see when and where it will be playing at a theater near you.

At my screening, Logan and Noah (the twin brothers who acted in, directed, produced, and wrote the Touching Home screenplay, as well as the book Either You’re In or You’re In The Way) were available to do a Q&A, which was fun to watch – like watching the dynamics of a married couple.  I didn’t really have that many questions since I had already read the book about the making of the  film, which again, I highly recommend, but I did buy my mom a copy and she chatted with them while they signed it for her. They were fun to meet – very personable and down to earth.  It was a great way to spend a Friday night!

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A Hodge Podge of Links (2)

Natalie over at Book, Line and Sinker has me reminiscing about the days when I would pore over catalogs and imagine what I would buy or what I would do if I could buy something.  It’s one of those things that I got out of as I got caught up in life, but I think I need to find some catalogs and do a little daydreaming.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot is one hot tamale of a book that everyone is buzzing about.  I guess it should come as no surprise that Oprah, after reportedly reading it in one sitting, has decided to partner with Alan Ball to make it into a movie.  I think she must have gotten that from me since  that’s what happens when I read books in one sitting too!

Why Amazon ever included free books in a best-seller list is a mystery for me, but apparently will now be a moot point since they will be publishing a separate list for free and paid bestsellers in the future.

Over at Devourer of Books, Jen is pondering character descriptions in books. I like characters to be described in books.  I think I take the basic description and build my own image which might deviate from the author’s version, but I am very aware that recent books are very light on the details.  Trend?

It really saddens me that they are cutting the budget for adult literacy programs in NYC.

If you are looking for an excuse to get your read on, look no further than the 5th Annual 48-Hour Book Challenge hosted by MotherReader.  It’s going down June 4-6.  Sound a little daunting?  You get to pick the schedule your reading schedule and take breaks when you need to, so don’t worry about it.

Carrie over at Books and Movies recently finished The Passage, by Justin Cronin.  I have heard of this book from many different corners, but she blew through 800 pages in a week and only stopped to take care of the family, so I am much more intrigued by this than I had been before.

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Literary Feasts: The Post-Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver

Literary Feast Banquet Image @ Linus's Blanket

Literary Feast Banquet Image @ Linus's BlanketI have never been a huge fan of either chocolate or coffee, but there are some things that I hear about that fall under the category of exception.  Molten chocolate cakes fall into this category – I never met one that I didn’t like and devour after telling myself that I would only eat half.  So imagine my surprise while reading The Post-Birthday World, by Lionel Shriver that I came upon a chocolate cappuccino cake mention and discovering that I had to find a picture!

At around 10p.m., famished and pleasantly tired, she’d been downing a large, gooey slice of Tesco chocolate-cappuccino cake, whose very purchase was out of character; now on the eighth day of Lawrence’s Bosnian departure, she was on her third box.

Well she certainly isn’t messing around since her husband is away.  The third box!

Neither of these is really gooey, and if it’s chocolate cake, I want gooey.  They are, however, very pretty.

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For other yummy food related posts, check out  Weekend Cooking hosted each week by Beth Fish Reads.

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Neverland, by Douglas Clegg – Book Review

In Neverland, by Douglas Clegg, ten-year-old Beau Jackson returns to Gull Island, South Carolina every summer with his bickering parents and twin sisters for a two week long visit with equally cantankerous relatives.  He has an elderly wheelchair-bound grandmother, his aunt and uncle and their troubled son Sumter with which to contend. The house is creepy and amidst the constant fighting amongst the family, the children are left under the care of a teenage babysitter, who seems to understand more about the children and the island than she lets on.  Sumter introduces Beau to an enigmatic presence called Lucy that seems to dwell in  a covered box in a shed in the woods, called Neverland, surrounding their home.  One by one all of the kids fall under the influence of Lucy and Neverland, and it seems as if Beau might be the only one with enough knowledge of the situation to prevent a tragedy.

My first foray into the writing of Douglas Clegg was with Isis, his intriguing Gothic novella, which left me struck by the beauty of the writing but scratching my head at the end.  While I wasn’t sure what to think about the story of Isis, the quality writing on the part of the author had me looking forward to reading one of his novel length works.  Once again, the writing didn’t fail and I was taken by Clegg’s command of the language which he used to foreshadow, imbue character, build suspense, and add to a creepy atmosphere where you expect that just about anything can happen.  One of the strengths of this novel is the slow building tension and the hints that something is just not right with this family and with the enchanted and possibly slave haunted island. I loved the way that piece of the story unfolded.

In Neverland, Clegg combines family and supernatural horror with mixed results.  Careful attention is paid to character building and planting clues with the reader – leaving us in a tortured tangle of half-baked suspicions and theories.  I loved the relationship that Beau had with his father, and the children gathering to discuss their family and just what might happen to all of them.  I was disappointed in how long it took for something to happen.  The heavy atmosphere might have contributed to te way time seems to move in the book.  It felt like the family had been there much longer than a few weeks.

The suspense was nice, but it lingered a moment too long and I didn’t feel my patience was rewarded by the end.  The resolution left me with mixed feeling about what kind of story was being told, and elements that might have worked for one of those choices seemed preposterous for the other.  If you are looking for literary horror, Clegg definitely fits the bill, unfortunately I haven’t found the story of his that clicks fully with me.  Neverland’s promising start couldn’t rescue the ending for me, which was a bit muddled and disappointing.

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Book Information: Neverland, by Douglas Clegg
Publisher, Publication Date & Other Info: Vanguard Press – Reissue April 13, 2010 – Trade Paperback– 304 pages
Author Website & Other Resources & Links: Douglas Clegg
Source: Review Copy Sent By The Publicist

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