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Giveaway: Pioneer Girl

January 16, 2015

Pioneer Girl

One of my favorite books of 2014, Pioneer Girl by Bich Minh Nguyen (@bichminhnguyen), will be released in paperback on January 27 and, to celebrate, Penguin is allowing me to give a copy away to one lucky reader.

About the book:

Bich Minh Nguyen’s previous books—the acclaimed memoir Stealing Buddha’s Dinner and the American Book Award–winning novel Short Girls—established her talents as a writer of keen cultural observation. In Pioneer Girl, Nguyen entwines the Asian American experience with the escapist pleasures of literature, in a dazzling mystery about the origins of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic Little House on the Prairie.

Lee Lien has long dodged her Vietnamese family’s rigid expectations by immersing herself in books. But now, jobless with a PhD in literature, she is back at home, working in her family’s restaurant under her mother’s hypercritical gaze—until an heirloom from their past sends Lee on a search for clues that may lead back to Wilder herself, transforming strangers’ lives as well as her own.

In my review, I said,

I thought Pioneer Girl had it all – great characterization, a wonderful story, and fabulous writing.  It’s a smart, clever book that had me googling the Wilders and Little House on the Prairie.

To enter to win a copy of PIONEER GIRL, simply fill out the entry form.  Contest is open to those with a US address only – one entry per person, please.  I will use to determine the winner.  Contest ends at midnight EDT Friday, January 23, 2015.    Comments are welcome (and appreciated) but will not get you an entry in the contest.


Review: A Bowl of Olives

January 15, 2015

A Bowl of Olives

A Bowl of Olives: On Food and Memory by Sara Midda is a gorgeous little book that was a pleasure to read.  It combines Midda’s beautiful watercolor paintings with food related quotes and reflections as well as a recipe or two.  The book is printed on high quality paper and includes an attached ribbon bookmark.

While I liked this book a great deal, I didn’t love it the way most readers have.  It’s hand lettered and some of the print is very small and difficult to read.  I thought some of the quotes and reflections were wonderful and others not so much.  Still, I’d love to frame just about any page from the book and hang it in my kitchen.  If you enjoy food related books, you’ll want to give A Bowl of Olives a try.

weekend cookingI will be linking this up to Weekend Cooking which is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

Review copy provided by Workman Publishing.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

January 14, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I did get some reading done last week but didn’t come across any new words so, once again, I relied on my Word-a-Day calendar.

1. bandersnatch – “‘I’ve been portrayed in the media as some kind of bandersnatch,’ said the colorful celebrity in a recent interview, ‘but I’m really just an ordinary guy.'”

A bandersnatch is a term that was coined by Lewis Carroll; it means a wildly grotesque or bizarre individual.


2. borborygmus – “Denny’s stomach echoed mine, rumbling with a series of great borborygmi.” — Diana Gabaldon, An Echo in the Bone

Borborygmus is a noun that means intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas.


3. guttersnipe – “She slapped him right back, the gutternsipe, the little hoodlum, and who did he think he was?” — T. C. Boyle, Wild Child

In this case, a guttersnipe is a person of the lowest moral or economic station.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

At the movies: St. Vincent

January 13, 2015

St. Vincent

When newly divorced single mom Maggie moves next door to crotchety Vincent she turns to him in desperation for after school care for her son, Oliver.  Vincent only agrees to do it because he needs the money.   Vincent sees that Oliver needs some street smarts and Oliver learns that Vincent has a softer side causing the two to form an unlikely bond.  When tragedy strikes Vincent, they all discover that you don’t have to be related to be family.

I went to see St. Vincent expecting a somewhat bawdy comedy and I got that to some degree.  I also got a heartwarming story of love and sacrifice, which I didn’t expect at all.  This movie made me laugh and cry and I thought it was terrific!  The casting was spot on – Bill Murray was born to play the role of Vincent.  The movie isn’t for the whole family, though – there’s plenty of language and sexual situations – but it’s well worth watching once the kids have gone to bed.

Mailbox Monday

January 12, 2015

Mailbox Monday January 12

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   Boy, has it been cold here!  It’s been the perfect weather to curl up with a book and a blanket but I haven’t had much time for that.  Still, I managed to finish two books last week!  I found these books in my mailbox:



What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book

January 9, 2015

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas

Diane Muldrow has worked her magic once again, this time taking pages from Little Golden Books to remind readers what Christmas is all about.  Sure, there’s lots of work to be done and lots of germs circulating but does all that really matter at the most magical time of the year?  As much fun as all of the holiday preparations and traditions are, Muldrow reminds us we need to remember the real reason for the celebration.

I thought Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book was just charming.  Muldrow takes pages from classic Little Golden Books to guide readers through the frantic holiday season.  It’s a time to go all out but it’s also a time to keep things simple.  However you celebrate Christmas, you need to remember the real reason for the holiday.

This is a quick, fun, and meaningful book that’s just what I needed before the crush of the holidays.

I won this book from Anita Loves Books.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

Review: A Man Called Ove

January 8, 2015

A Man Called Ove

Ove is a grumpy old man who wants things done a certain way.  He’s organized and precise and has little patience for those who don’t follow the rules.  He sees no point in living now that his wife has passed away and meticulously plans his end.  A loud, boisterous family moves next door and unwittingly foils his plans.

I don’t want to say too much about A Man Called Ove because it’s best not to know too much going into the book.  I thought the book was superb – in fact, it was one of my favorite reads of 2014.  Ove is a crotchety old man – we’ve all known someone like him so he’s very easy to imagine – who’s bitter, intolerant, and just an all around grump.  His new neighbors move in and can’t seem to do anything right – they try his patience to no end –  but something funny happens along the way; they work their way into Ove’s heart.

I laughed out loud and shed a few tears as I read A Man Called Ove.  I also thought about the kind of impact we can make in other’s lives and just what constitutes a family.  The book has lingered in my mind so I’ve recommended it to everyone I know.

Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

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