Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Vienna Nocturne

















Vienna Nocturne

Vivien Shotwell


I've never understood nor been a fan of opera. Never really had any exposure, and used to wonder how one could "get it" when all the words were Italian, or German (as I've recently been made aware).

Then a few years back I read Ann Patchett's Bel Canto, and loved it. And, I read that Ann Patchett had learned a ton by reading Opera 101, so I downloaded the audiobook. Never listened beyond a few dozen pages, but always had inrentions.

Vienna Nocturne is another random library selection that I've loved. So much that I plan to listen to Opera 101 during my drive to Cincinnati on Wednesday. And, I want to experience opera live. Especially, The Marriage of Figaro.


UPDATE: Who knew? Lots of operas on YouTube and, Chicago Lyric Opera is doing a Mozart Opera September-October--Don Giovanni.

Isn't this a prettier book cover?!


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ruth, Mother of Kings

Love Ruth's pledge to her mother-in-law, Naomi, as written in Ruth 1:16-17.
"Do not entreat me to leave you, or to turn back from following you; for wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people are my people, and your God, my God." She took Naomi's hand. "Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Jehovah do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me."
pg. 140
Diana Wallis Taylor
Another randomly selected library book, in a chain of them, that has proven to be a good read. And, I'm encouraged to recommend to others, as well as to seek out or buy Diana Wallis Taylor's other books.


I'm also intriqued by the Mourner's Kaddish--never remember having heard it before.

"Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon, and say, Amen.

pg. 79


That Part was True




Hands down. A great book and a fun read. Ordered it for RvH's birthday. Wrote a fan letter to Deborah McKinlay, and ordered The View from Here (2011) from Amazon. And, posted a 5-starred review at Amazon.


I emailed Deborah McKinlay to request more recipes as referenced in her novel. There were just two in the back of the book. Got an immediate lovely response, but only one more recipe. Ah-h-h. Life is like that sometimes. Ms. McKinlay says she's not much of a cook. Guessing she's being modest, as she writes about food and recipes with the passion of a true foodie.


One of my favorite things was adding this cookbook (years ago) to my collection, after having read the Kay Scarpetta series by Patricia Cornwell. I quoted from Food to Die For in one of the early posts on this blog.



Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Wind is Not a River

August 10, '42
My Dearest Love,
You have found me gone and our things hid safe.
They came to the village June 7 and we fear they will take us away.
I will wait for you. Think of your promise to me and remember, the wind is not a river.
pg. 133
Brian Payton

Some men have the great misfortune to stand at life's continental divide and see that the land beyond is barren. There is no hope of turning back. What does one do with this view?

It takes the rest of the day, but then the answer descends on him like a revelation. Easley's eyes open wide, he stands to greet its arrival. It is the phrase, the riddle he has been repeating like a prayer. It is, of course Tatiana.

The wind is not a river.

Her chain of islands that dares to separate the North Pacific from the Bering Sea. A chain through which the wind whips into some of the world's most fearsome storms. One minute it's a hurricane, the next a breeze. But rivers! Rivers flow throughout the seasons--under bright summer sun, plates of winter ice--morning, noon, and night. Wind rises up and fades away, but a river flows endlessly.

And our suffering? This too shall pass. The wind is not a river.
pg. 186
And... Some wise words similar to ones I remind myself.
If John were with her now, he would hold her hand and tell her not to fill the void with fear. Be realistic, he'd say, but do not jump straight to catastrophic conclusions... There are enough hard facts to confront each day without letting our imaginations get the better of us--without letting worry drain our real lives away
pg. 264
A stunning novel set during WWII in the Aleutian Islands and Seattle. I couldn't put it down, and i find myself ruminating over the characters and storyline. Not completely sure I'm happy with the ending, but not devastated either.
The two main characters are fully developed with thoughts and feelings, and attention to details of daily life that so many authors of fast moving (a misnomer for this story of suffering and perseverance, except it all takes place in a tight time frame of about 8 weeks.) adventure or psychological thriller novels skip over. Often the hero(es) or protagonists flit around the world daily never getting hungry or requiring sleep. Payton captures the humanity and frailties of the characters, making me feel their hopes, pains, struggles.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

While Beauty Slept


She has already become a legend. The beautiful headstrong girl I knew is gone forever, her life transformed into myth. The princess who pricked her finger on a spinning wheel and fell asleep for a hundred years, only to be awakened by true love's kiss.

While Beauty Slept

Elizabeth Blackwell


I must start my tale with her, for all the events that followed, all the wonders and horrors I have witnessed in my many years upon this earth, it all began with a seed she planted in my soul almost from birth: a deep-rooted, unshakable certainty that I was meant to be far more than a peasant's wife. Every time Mother corrected my grammar or admonished me to stand up straight, it was with an eye to my future, a reminder that despite my ragtag clothes I must comport myself with the manners of my betters. For she herself was proof that great changes in fortune were possible: Born into a poor servant family and orphaned at a young age, she had risen to a position as seamstress at the castle of St. Elsip, seat of the king who ruled our lands.

Pg. 7


"While Beauty Slept" retells the "Sleeping Beauty" legend from the perspective of Elise, who rises from humble beginnings to the enviable position of confidante of Queen Lenore, mother of the fabled sleeping princess. In Elise's account, the princess's life was no fairy tale.

The inspiration struck Blackwell after she watched Disney's animated version of "Sleeping Beauty" with her daughter, she said. Blackwell learned from the "making of" feature on the DVD that the artists took their stylistic cue from medieval tapestries. If something had been woven into a tapestry, Blackwell pondered, perhaps it was based on a real event. She posed herself the challenge: How could she make the "Sleeping Beauty" story real?

"What really drew me to the novel was the opening line of the first chapter, 'I am not the sort of person about whom stories are told,'" said Amy Einhorn, publisher of Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam and the book's editor, via email. "It's such a great line, and it's so true — we've all heard the story of Sleeping Beauty, but we've never heard it from the help's perspective."

Did Blackwell conceive of Elise as a role model for her own daughter ? "Anyone raising a daughter wants her to think independently and not feel she has to wait for the prince to save her," Blackwell said.

But writing the book was, for her, more a creative outlet "not tied in to being a mother," she said. "In the course of writing this book I had twin boys and all the sleepless nights, diapers and formula that entails. The world of 'When Beauty Slept' was a complete mental escape from the everyday. I would come back from driving my minivan to Target, sit at my computer and go off to the castle."

Chicago Tribune

Printer's Row


Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Paris Architect



The room started spinning around, and Lucien became so disoriented that he couldn't keep his balance. He sat on the floor and thought he was going to vomit.

"Christ, what a day!" He muttered.

Normally , Lucien would do anything to get a job, no matter how despicable...

This, however, was a different matter altogether. Sure, he was broke, but were twelve thousand francs and a guaranteed commission worth the risk of dying? The money wouldn't help him if he was dead. Actually, it wasn't the dying part that troubled him it was the torture by the Gestapo that would precede the dying. Lucien had heard on good authority what the Germans did to those who wouldn't cooperate--days of barbaric treatment before death, or if the Gestapo was feeling merciful, which was a rarity, internment in a camp.

The Paris Architect

Charles Belfoure

Chaper 3, pg. 19


Both CA and I have almost overdone on WWII, Holocaust, French Resistance... reading in the past few years. This is such a fresh and unique perspective. I liked it better the further I got into it--possibly as Lucien develops more humanity.


Monday, March 3, 2014

The Sea of Tranquility


Dying really isn't so bad after you've done it once. And I have. I'm not afraid of death anymore. I'm afraid of everything else.

The Sea of Tranquility

Katja Millay


Ah-h-h... Finally! A really, really good book. It sometimes takes dozens of reads, weeks and months of mediocrity, and then the breathless excitement and anticipation of a fresh, compeling story. And then, almost immediately I worry that it'll end too soon. I want the mysteries unfolded, the conflicts resolved, but I want to spend a lot of time with these characters. I really like them, with all there imperfections and misjudments; their brokenness and despair.


This time, at least twice I thought I'd read the last chapter, the end. Then, there was more. Enough more to bring not only resolution, but redemption and hope.


I want to spread the word, this is a well-conceived, well-written novel. Don't be deceived if you note a Young Adult classification to this title. It is a very mature story.

Another great paragraph...


Cookies, I need to bake cookies. It's the next best thing to running. Not really, but I do love cookies and I don't like the shit they sell in packages, which is what Margot buys. Oreos are acceptable. Because they're Oreos and no mattrr what you do, you can't replicate them. Trust me on this one. I've spent more than a few days in my kitchen trying to do just that. It's never going to happen. So Oreos get a pass, but factory-sealed chocolate chip cookies that are shelf-stable for up to six months are another story. Life is too short for that. Believe me, I know.

pg. 34