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Review: The Miracles of Prato

March 24, 2015

The Miracles of Prato

After the death of their father and the loss of their family’s wealth, sisters Lucrezia and Spinetti Buti are forced to turn to the Convent of Santa Margherita.  Spinetti is more spiritual and easily adapts to life in the convent while Lucrezia is more restless.  Her beauty catches the eye of the convent’s chaplain, Father Filippo Lippi.  Father Lippi is an artist and he asks Lucrezia to model for him.  Her beauty inspires him but they begin a relationship that could ruin both of them.

Historical fiction isn’t my favorite genre so I was less than thrilled when my book club chose The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz.  In the interest of being a good member and to prepare for a Skype chat with Albanese, I tried my best to go into the book with a good attitude.  I’m happy to report that I enjoyed the book very much and learned a lot along the way.  I found myself stopping to read about items and events mentioned in the book.  I was surprised at how different the church was in the 15th century and found the attitudes of the people fascinating.  This book is a gem – it made me rethink my attitude toward historical fiction.

My book club loved The Miracles of Prato – one member said she thinks it’s the best book we’ve read.  We had a wonderful chat with Laurie Albanese – we had a lot of questions for her and learned about her research process and what it was like to write a book with a close friend.  We discussed history and art with her and had a wonderful time.  This is a terrific book for discussion so I highly recommend it for book clubs.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins and Book Club Girl Book Club.   I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

March 23, 2015

Mailbox Monday March 23

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   I’m at my mom’s this week so I won’t be around much.  I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Monday

Thursday

Saturday

What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Gone Reading: Literary Love Notecards

March 20, 2015

Gone Reading

A little over a year ago, I wrote about Gone Reading, a web site that is near and dear to my heart.  This site sells fantastic bookish products and donates all of the profits to reading related charities.  That’s right, 100% of their after tax profits go to organizations like READ Global and Ethiopia Reads.

Literary-Love-Notecards-300x300

Gone Reading is constantly adding new products to their site and they recently invited me to review one of their recent additions and I chose the Literary Love Notecards and I couldn’t be more pleased with them.  The notecards are made by Galison and the box contains 2 cards each of 4 different designs plus red envelopes that are lined with red hearts.  The cards measure 5¼” by 4″ and are printed on heavy card stock and every card has some foil embossing on it.  Each card features a beautiful, full color illustration plus a literary quote about love from William Shakespeare, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Oscar Wilde, or Robert Louis Stevenson.  I think they’re perfect because they can be used for anything from thank you notes to thinking of you cards.  I can’t wait to use mine.

If you’re looking for notecards or a great gift for yourself or someone else, be sure to check out Gone Reading!

At the movies: The Imitation Game

March 19, 2015

THE IMITATION GAME, US advance poster art, Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, 2014. © Weinstein

Somehow, I missed the buzz and trailers for The Imitation Game and I didn’t even think too much about it when it was nominated for an Academy Award because I had no idea what it was about.  When a few people I know started talking about it, I perked up and got a friend to see it with me.

The Imitation Game is based on the true story of Alan Turing, a British mathematician who built an early computer to crack the Enigma code the Nazis were using to transmit data.  The Enigma code was ever evolving so most people thought it was unbreakable but Turing was confident it could be done.    He and his team worked non-stop to achieve their goal.  His life came to a tragic end years later.

I really enjoyed The Imitation Game and wondered why I’d never heard of Turing and his team.   They were brilliant and determined and their hard work still impacts our daily lives.  I thought the movie had a few slow moments but I still enjoyed this “behind the scenes” peek of World War II.  The casting is perfect – the actors had great chemistry and I thought everyone was well suited for their roles.   This movie is well worth seeing – be sure to check it out.  It will be released on DVD on March 31.

Wondrous Words Wednesday

March 18, 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 found quite a few words in my uncorrected proof of Hold Still by Sally Mann.

1. loess – “The road out of Greenwood, Mississippi, slices through loess hills soft as spoon bread, dropping down precipitously into the black ferment of the Delta.”

Loess is an unstratified, usually buff to yellowish brown, loamy deposit found in North America, Eurpe, and Asia and believed to be chiefly deposited by the wind.

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2. sacerdotal – “I am sure Jeff Campbell knew, as his long-nailed fingers, the forefinger yellowed from pipe-tamping, placed Absalom, Absalom like a sacerdotal biscuit in my palm, that this would be my moment of awakening, the one described by Graham Greene as the door to the future, after which the world is never again seen in quite the same way.”

Sacerdotal is an adjective that means of or relating to priests or a priesthood: priestly.

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3. cumulate – “When the press box was packed full, the strong-thighed press men jumped in and began wadding and stomping down the buoyant cotton with their bare feet, sinking deep into the cumulate mound, often lost from view until, by dint of their furiously pumping legs, they gradually rose up through the suffocating mass into the turbid air that at last afforded their lungs some relief.”

Cumulate means to gather or in a heap.  I think I can remember this because it reminds me of accumulate.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag

March 17, 2015

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag

Jennifer Gilbert was brutally attacked when she went to visit friends in New York in 1991.  Her attacker meant to kill her but Jennifer fought back and managed to survive.  As she recovered, she found people’s reactions odd – not only did they not want to talk about what she’d been through, they tried to put a positive spin on it by saying things like, “At least he didn’t get your face,” or “God only gives you what you can handle.”

Determined not to let the attack define her, Jennifer decided the best way to get past it was to stay busy and stay busy she did.  She got a job as an events coordinator and started a very successful company of her own.  Dealing with other people’s crises helped her put her own out of her mind.  In the end, though, it wasn’t enough and Jennifer learned she had to face it head on, once again proving just how strong she is.

My friend Julie read I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert almost three years ago.  She loved it and recommended it to me – even sending me her copy.  (You can read Julie’s review here.)  I have to admit something about the title made the book sound frivolous to me so, even with Julie’s recommendation, I wasn’t anxious to pick it up.  I should have known better.

I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag is a wonderful memoir by a very strong woman.  Gilbert’s story had the potential of being a horrible tragedy but she’s a spitfire and wasn’t about to let that happen.  Mind you, it wasn’t easy but she spent very little time dwelling on the negative and decided to go after what she wanted.  Rather than being sorrowful, I found the book uplifting and I greatly admire Gilbert after reading her story.  I do want to note, though, that the details of the attack were very difficult to read.  If you enjoy memoirs, you won’t want to miss I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag.

My friend Julie sent me this book.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

 

Mailbox Monday

March 16, 2015

Mailbox Monday March 16

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.   Carl’s visiting his dad so I’ve been working at the store a lot which means I haven’t had much time to read.  I need to get with it, though, because I have book club tomorrow night!  These are the books that arrived last week:

Monday

Wednesday

What did you find in your mailbox?

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