Thursday, September 1, 2016

It's Thursday-Fire Up The Grill

and while waiting for your dinner to cook browse these new titles and read what some book reviewers have to say about them. I baked Monster Cookies today
and  set aside a plate just for you. I don't suppose having just one won't spoil your dinner. Link to a previously posted recipe 
The incredible story of Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow's Mary's Meals charity cannot fail to inspire.
The title says it all - a charity literally founded in a shed in a remote but beautiful part of the west of Scotland now feeds more than a million children in the developing world.
This remarkable story was born in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s when the writer - driven by his strong religious conscience - joined his brother for what was supposed to be a one-off aid mission.
It was a trip with obvious dangers, as the duo travelled to a region where once peaceful communities were being torn apart by ethnic hatred.
But the brothers saw what a difference they could make and, inspired by the courageous people they met, both knew they wanted to do so much more.
Magnus took the brave step of giving up his job and, supported by friends, family and church, explored fundraising initiatives to continue his chosen mission.
In 2002, he visited Malawi - a country with many links to Scotland - and met a mother dying from Aids whose son said his dream was to have enough food to eat and to go to school.
The rest, as they say, is history and Mary's Meals was born.

This is a gem of a feel-good debut novel about A MAN CALLED OVE by Swedish author and blogger Fredrik Backman. It will make you laugh and make you cry and you will remember Ove for a long time.

Some would call Ove a curmudgeon, a lovely word meaning a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person. His wife called him the most inflexible man in the world - he borders on being obsessive compulsive but is generally a grumpy man who doesn't tolerate fools and likes things to be done that way he wants them. While many think that he is just a rude and grumpy man, at heart you will find out that he is one of the kindest persons you will ever know.

Ove is a 59 years old widower who has just been arbitrarily retired after 30 years in the same job. His world now revolves around his home and neighborhood housing complex where he rules the roost making sure that all local rules and regulations are followed. He is very lonely since his wife died, he quarreled with his best friend and neighbor years ago and rarely has contact with his neighbors.

Ove's world is one of anger and sadness. One day a new neighbor accidentally flattens Ove's mailbox driving in an area where vehicles are prohibited. This starts a very amusing, heartwarming and frequently very sad story as Ove's rigidly structured world is disrupted by unexpected friendship from Parvaneh, a vivacious small and very pregnant Iranian woman who has moved in next door with her Swedish husband Patrick and two girls. Parvaneh is perhaps the only person who can take on Ove directly and win, and starts to change his life for the better.

The bonds of sisterhood and the struggles of depression and suicide are fully explored in this brilliant story. Yolanda and Elfrida are sisters, originally living in a Mennonite community in the east end. Depression runs in their family, something both Elf and her father suffer from.

It is a novel about love, loss, and living told with wry and ironic humor. Yolanda is a wonderfully flawed and self-deprecating character, trying to keep her sister alive, while managing or not managing her own life. She has amazing and amusing insights and opinions on many things. Their mother is another amazing character and it is easy to see where Yolanda got her sense of humor. Elfrida is a concert pianist, but we hear very little directly from her, most of what we know we get from Yolanda or other characters. She has struggled long and hard.

So if someone says, "Isn't this book just sad?" I would have to say no, it is so much more. It is funny, celebrates books and poetry, Coleridge's poem is where the title come froms. Celebrates love and how much we will do for love. It is survival, and how we keep on living, finding tiny moments of joy, in which to hold. I never thought I would be reading a book that had me sniffling one second and in the next laughing. A book that holds the joy of living, right next to the face of mental illness.



J. Ryan Stradal’s debut novel, “Kitchens of the Great Midwest ” is a culinary journey through his homeland. Stradal captures the region’s patois and traditions, such as cutthroat Lutheran church bake-offs and teenage boys forced to make pungent Scandinavian lutefisk, but he also chronicles the rise of the heartland’s foodie culture. Ultimately, "Kitchens" reveals the strong interplay among food, family and our most cherished memories.

The novel’s heart is Eva Thorvald, a plucky, food-loving girl who grows up to become America’s most sought-after chef. Through the perspective of different characters over eight linked stories, "Kitchens" describes Eva’s unlikely trajectory to culinary stardom.

Eva’s role shifts depending on which character steers a particular tale. In one, she is the object of affection; in others, she bears contempt, envy or admiration. Stradal suggests that love — or the absence of love — is the most powerful condition of all.

This stunning debut novel about grief and wonder was an instant New York Times bestseller and captured widespread critical acclaim, including selection as a 2015 National Book Award finalist!
The Thing About Jellyfish is a beautifully written middle grade novel about the evolving nature of friendship, the labyrinth of discovering one's true identity, and the search for explanations to the mysteries of life. Being a science nerd wannabe, I relished all of the scientific facts in this book and how the book's parts were divided into the parts of the scientific method. I also enjoyed the author's anecdote in the acknowledgment section about how this book was born from the failure to get her essay about jellyfish accepted for submission.

Suzy and Franny had been the best of friends since they met in swim class at the age of five. However, during the process of adjusting to the land mine known as middle school, a rift forms between the two girls. Then the summer before the seventh grade, Franny drowns while swimming in the ocean. Suzy refuses to accept that it was a mere accident and becomes obsessed with finding out the truth about her friend's death.


1 comment:

  1. You have brought us so much goodness today in this post. Good food. Good words. I'll take a cookie, please.

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