It’s Arrived ~ Time to Change Your Links and Feeds

January 24, 2009 at 6:13 pm | Posted in Books | 6 Comments

Be the first to see The Literate Housewife Review at its new home: http://literatehousewife.com/.  I just activated the site and I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks.

This will be my last post here on WordPress.com.  Please update your links and your feeds.

I am jumping, jumping for joy.  I still have a lot of customizing I have to do and things I want to explore, but I couldn’t wait any longer.

I’ll be seeing you over at my new domain!

Under Construction

January 24, 2009 at 9:51 am | Posted in Books | 5 Comments

This really has been an exciting week for me. In addition to my book club was awarded the Book Club of the Month, the final details for my new blog design and move to literatehousewife.com are under way! I can’t tell you how happy I was to see the design that Kathy from Simply Amusing Designs developed for me. I wish I had made this change a long time ago. Right now I’m adding the finishing touches to all of my posts and my sidebars. I hope to have everything up before by Monday. Still, I can’t wait to give you a sneak peak:

sneakpreview
I’ll let you know here as soon as my new domain is live. See you then.

Exciting News about Historical Fiction Lovers Book Club!

January 21, 2009 at 5:50 pm | Posted in Books, Historical Fiction | 8 Comments
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As I mentioned before, I joined the Book Clubs application on Facebook and started my own online book club ~ Historical Fiction Lovers.  We started the club reading Loving Frank and seven of us completed the Reader’s Guide and Review form.  There was some really good discussion, especially about Mamah and her choices.  I found out that HFL was awarded the first Book Club of the Month award and I am SUPER ecstatic about it.  Here is what was posted on the site about our book club:

A passion for novels blending history, literature and romance is what drives January’s Book Club of the Month: Historical Fiction Lovers. The group, created by Jennifer, is a good case study of how to run a successful online book club.

Jennifer, who juggles a career and a family, somehow finds time to blog (http://literatehousewife.wordpress.com), participate in reading challenges and run her group, Historical Fiction Lovers.

The group’s January selection is Loving Frank, a novel by Nancy Horan about a scandalous romance between the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and Mamah Cheney, a well-educated, independent and married Chicago woman. It’s not escapist fare.

As a leader, Jennifer sets a tone for the group by suggesting appropriate novels, and then discussing which novels will be read and when. She also organizes discussions in an easy-to-follow manner.
As a thank you, we will be sending Jennifer five books to distribute as she sees fit. Please let us know if you feel your group is ready for the spotlight in February!

Historical Fiction Lovers is one of more than 100 public Book Clubs and 20 private ones created by our members. There are clubs built around specific authors or book series, some are regional, but most concern categories of books such as mysteries, romance or classics.

We are especially grateful to Book Club leaders such as Jennifer who help drive discussions, select good books and invite their friends to take part. We encourage every member to contribute new topics or respond to comments or questions by other club members. Book Clubs is a community-based application and member participation is vital to a successful experience.

cover-of-soul-catcherOn top of the honor of winning, my group receives five copies of our chosen book for February, Soul Catcher by Michael White.  I’m awarding a copy of this book to the five members other than Rusty Weston, the soul behind Book Clubs, and myself a copy of Soul Catcher.

Here’s a brief description of the novel from the HarperCollins website:

Augustus Cain is a damaged man haunted by a terrible skill: the ability to track people who don’t want to be found. Rosetta is a runaway slave who bears the scars, inside and out, of a life of servitude to a cruel and unforgiving master. Her flight is fueled by a passion and determination only a mother could feel, and she would rather die than let anyone drag her back to hell. In a dark, volatile time prior to the Civil War, fate has bound the hunted and hunter on a remarkable odyssey from Virginia to Boston and back again—an extraordinary test of character and will, mercy and compassion, that will change them both forever.

Interested?  Why don’t you join us?  Click here to buy the book and here for a look inside the novel.  Book Clubs is a Facebook application.  It doesn’t take long to join and it’s free.

I Have a Winner!

January 21, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Books | 3 Comments
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Obama Inauguration
Thanks to everyone who shared their hopes and opinions about yesterday’s inauguration.

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As promised, I added everyone’s name to the List Randomizer to determine who would win a free copy of What Would Martin Say? by Clarence B. Jones.  The winner is:

Stacybuckeye!

Congratulations, Stacy!  Please send me an email with your mailing address and I’ll send that book to you as soon as possible.

#136 ~ The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

January 19, 2009 at 12:53 pm | Posted in Books, Reading | 5 Comments
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The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Before the movie hype, I’d never heard of this short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I’m not necessarily sure that I knew that he wrote short stories.  With the exception of The Great Gatsby, which is one of my all-time favorite novels, I never studied Fitzgerald in college or grad school.  I’m not sure if this was because of the courses I chose or if his writing wasn’t in favor at the time.  Either way, I’m planning on reading all of his short stories this year.

For those of you who do not know, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” tells the story of life of Benjamin Button.  Unlike all other humans, he was born as an elderly man, not as an infant.  The doctors, nurses, and his father are all shocked and quite disgusted by this.  Benjamin being only himself, found nothing out of the ordinary in his condition.  The unlikely circumstances of his birth continued on throughout his life.  He continued to grow more youthful as his life progressed.  He did not age.  He did just the opposite, though only those who knew otherwise seemed to be aware of his condition at all.

What stood out the most for me was that his mother was no where to be seen.  We witnessed his father’s reactions throughout his “growing up” years, but we hear nothing from the woman who gave birth to him.  She survived the birth, but how was that accomplished without killing her?  Did she love him despite his oddity?  Are we to assume by the fact that she was removed from the text that she abandoned him emotionally?  If so, how does Benjamin feel about this?  Did it not concern him because one’s mother is typically deceased when one is an elderly man or is that why Benjamin hides the truth from his wife?

Being only 30 pages, this short story was a quick read, although I’m not sure whether I can say I liked it or not.   I would be interested in reading papers published on this short story.  I believe it did highlight the responsibilities that surround raising children and caring for the elderly in a different way.  When you are a new parent, you can ask for other people’s advice, but you still are in many ways on your own.  No one else has ever raised your child.  On the other side of the coin, elderly care is also a question.  While many people do what is right by there parents, aren’t those who don’t just as irresponsible as those who might abandon a newborn?  It’s all the same for Benjamin.

*****

To buy this short story, click here.

What Would Martin Say? ~ Highlight and Giveaway

January 19, 2009 at 11:26 am | Posted in Books, LIfe | 10 Comments
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If ever there was a cause to celebrate Martin Luther King, it is today.  As we are about to embark upon the first African America presidency, it is apparant just how far we’ve come as a nation.

“I Have a Dream” is one of my favorite American speeches.  It never fails to give me chill bumps.

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We know what MLK said, but wouldn’t it be interesting to know what he might say himself today?  Clarence Jones, a close friend, asked himself that same question and has written a book entitled, What Would Martin Say? To give you a little more information about his book, here is some information I found on the HarperCollins website:

On April 4, 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, depriving the world of one of the greatest moral authorities of the twentieth century. He was thirty-nine. King had achieved so much at such a young age that it is hard to believe that he has been gone longer than the brief time he spent on this earth. He spoke out not only on segregation and racism against African Americans, but about many other issues of the day, from police brutality and labor strikes to the Vietnam War. Given the current state of the world, we would all benefit from hearing Martin’s voice, if only he were alive today. . . .

If anyone would have insight into what Martin would say, it would be Clarence B. Jones, King’s personal lawyer and one of his closest principal advisers and confidants. Jones—now seventy-seven, has chosen the occasion of this somber anniversary to break his silence—removing the mythic distance of forty years’ time to reveal the flesh-and-blood man he knew as his friend, Martin. Jones ponders what the outspoken rights leader would say about the serious issues that bedevil contemporary America: Islamic terrorism and the war in Iraq, reparations for slavery, anti-Semitism, affirmative action, illegal immigration, and the vacuum of African American leadership. Delving deep into his memories of the man he worked closely beside, and with help from the King Institute at Stanford University and reams of formerly top-secret and now declassified FBI files, Jones offers the guidance and insight his friend and mentor would have provided for us in these troubled times.

Many Americans today know of Martin Luther King only from video clips and history books. As Jones so aptly reminds us, this legendary figure was also a warm human being full of life—and more relevant now than ever.

You can take a look inside this book by clicking here.  You can buy this book here.

What Would Martin Say? Giveaway

In celebration of current events, The Literate Housewife Review is offering a copy of this book to one reader.  Since tomorrow will probably be the first inauguration that my daughter Emma remembers, I’m going to write a post about my memories about my first inauguration – Jimmy Carter’s, which was also historic in its own way.

To enter this contest, leave a comment to that post by 11:59pm tomorrow.  In your comments, please give your thoughts about Barak Obama’s inauguration.  I will draw the winner from those comments at noon on January 21st. “Please enter me” comments will not be considered.

Good luck and Happy MLK and Inaugeration day, everyone!

Booking Through Thursday ~ Show Me Your Lyrics

January 15, 2009 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Books | 7 Comments

bttBut, enough about books … Other things have words, too, right? Like … songs!If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.

So, today’s question?

  • What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
  • Why?
  • And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?

You don’t have to restrict yourself to modern songsters, either … anyone who wants to pick Gilbert & Sullivan, for example, is just fine with me. Lerner & Loewe? Steven Sondheim? Barenaked Ladies? Fountains of Wayne? The Beatles? Anyone at all…

What a wonderful topic! I can’t remember the last time I participated in BTT, but it’s been too long. I’m going to answer this as an evolution of sorts.

Chevy Van

The first lyrics that was ever attributed to me was through a story I overheard my mother telling someone over the phone. Apparently while I was over at her mother’s house, I started signing:

We made love in my Chevy van
and that’s alright with me

My grandmother was sufficiently less than amused.

Afternoon Delight

I have very fond memories of camping growing up. One particularly vivid memory is of my dad setting up the camper and we’re singing along with the radio:

Skyrockets in flight
Afternoon delight

After hearing this song again as an adult, I told my dad that I couldn’t believe that he sang that song with me. His response was great advice for me as a parent, “Jennifer, you didn’t know what it meant and we were having fun.” Yep, you can get too bent out of shape about things that don’t mean a darn thing.

Fire

There is one word that, when sung in an interesting, usually drawn out way, will virtually guarantee that I’ll love the song. That word, is:

Fire

When I think of that lyric (if you can actually call it that), the songs come to mind, and they are always on my iPod or MP3 player:

“Fire” by The Pointer Sisters

“The One I Love” by R.E.M.

“Firewoman” by The Cult

Running to Stand Still

The Joshua Tree is the definitive album of my youth. It came out during my junior year of high school and it was the first CD I ever bought. In fact, I have very strongly been considering getting a tattoo of the Joshua tree from the album art for almost two years now. It means that much to me. Over the past 20 years (yikes!), different songs have meant different things. In college, these lyrics stood out to me and they have ever since:

You’ve got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice

I think those lyrics sum me up in a lot of ways – some good, some not so good. I’ve always seen the main character in my novel living through those lyrics in some way.

Precious Things

Tori Amos came into my life along with my own sexual awakening. The first time I heard the song “Precious Things,” I knew that I would never forget it:

I want to smash the faces of those beautiful boys, those Christian boys
So you can make me come, that doesn’t make you Jesus

Find the River

“Find the River” is my favorite R.E.M. song. Although it’s about how life leads to death, it calms and centers me. I want it played at my funeral and I would like the following lyric to be my epitaph:

I’ve got to leave to find my way

I love this song so much that I’ll leave you with a wonderful live version of the song followed by the complete lyrics.

Hey now, little speedyhead,
The read on the speedmeter says
You have to go to task in the city
Where people drown and people serve.
Dont be shy. your just deserve
Is only just light years to go.

Me, my thoughts are flower strewn
Ocean storm, bayberry moon.
I have got to leave to find my way.
Watch the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way.

The ocean is the rivers goal,
A need to leave the water knows
Were closer now than light years to go.

I have got to find the river,
Bergamot and vetiver
Run through my head and fall away.
Leave the road and memorize
This life that pass before my eyes.
Nothing is going my way.

Theres no one left to take the lead,
But I tell you and you can see
Were closer now than light years to go.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
Fall into the ocean.

The river to the ocean goes,
A fortune for the undertow.
None of this is going my way.
There is nothing left to throw
Of ginger, lemon, indigo,
Coriander stem and rose of hay.
Strength and courage overrides
The privileged and weary eyes
Of river poet search naivete.
Pick up here and chase the ride.
The river empties to the tide.
All of this is coming your way

#135 ~ My Lady of Cleves

January 14, 2009 at 11:41 pm | Posted in Books, Henry VIII, Historical Fiction, Reading | 9 Comments
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My Lady of Cleves: A Novel of Henry VIII and Anne of Cleves by Margaret Campbell Barnes

Anne of Cleves was the most unlikely of all of Henry VIII’s wives. She did not especially want to be queen, she was not physically beautiful, and she was rather forced upon him in order to produce an heir. Yet, along with Katherine of Aragon, she is a wife to which Henry should have cleaved to permanently. She is also my favorite. The first time I learned of her and found out that she was from a territory that is now the Netherlands, she had a special place in this Dutch heart of mine. Therefore, when I first heard of this novel on Reading Adventures, I new that I had to read it. I couldn’t have been more pleased when a wonderful co-worker of mine gave it to me for my birthday. Thank you, Poorna!

From the beginning, Barnes covers the known facts about the search for Henry’s fourth wife, Anne’s betrothal, her first regrettable moments with Henry, their short marriage, and swift divorce deftly. As much as I loved The Boleyn Inheritance, it is the author’s interpretation of those events that make this novel such a delight to read. For example, Barnes’ Anne did not want to leave her country, her family, or her people. This is just as well because her sister Amelia was prettier and was excited by the prospect of becoming queen. To her surprise, Hans Holbien, the artist sent to paint the portraits of the royal daughters of Cleves saw a beauty in her that most missed. The way this quality was painted is exactly what captured Henry’s eye. Unfortunately, Henry couldn’t see that when they met in person. The way in which the events surrounding their divorce played out in this novel was interesting and this view of Anne was endearing. I like to think of her in this way.

There was one lost opportunity in this novel. After Henry chooses Anne, we next find her on her journey to England. We do not experience how the news of Henry’s choice impacts Anne, her family, or the people she serves. We do not see her leave her home for the last time. We do not see how being overlooked by a king affected Amelia. As Anne’s life in England as it pertains to the throne are well known, it is precisely those missing details that would really grab and inspire my imagination. Certainly I can make up my own scenes, but I read historical fiction to have those undocumented moments come alive on the page. This was a minor drawback. It did not keep me from enjoying this novel at all. Still, the mild disappointment over what could have been, especially with an author so skilled, remains with me.

My Lady of Cleves is a novel I will always cherish. She was a strong woman who had to work hard to overcome her looks, which always felt like a shortcoming to her. I can’t quite place my finger on a specific passage, but Chapters 17 and 18 were beautiful in the way in which they depict the turning point in Anne’s life. What was accomplished there made the novel and solidified Anne’s place in my heart among Henry’s wives. She deserved the freedom and solitude that she found at Richmond. I’d wager that she was the only woman deeply involved with Henry who died happy and content with her life. I am glad that the author chose to bring Anne to the forefront. Historical figures do not have to be tyrants or tarts to be compelling. Sometimes a heroine with just a dash of fire when scorned is exactly what is needed to satisfy. This novel is a must for Tudor fans, but would be a delight for any reader.

*********

To buy this book, click here.

#134 ~ Loving Frank

January 13, 2009 at 11:28 pm | Posted in Books, Historical Fiction, Reading | 10 Comments
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Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

In search of a home of his own, Mr. Edwin Cheney of Chicago convinced his wife Mamah to agree to commissioning a local American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, to design and build their family home. Mr. Cheney gained his house, but he couldn’t have known that he would ultimately lose his wife to the architect. Loving Frank tells the story of the love affair of Mamah and Frank from Mamah’s perspective. Mamah’s decision to leave the husband for which she never had any passion cost her as well. In her time, adulterous women lost custody of their children and their reputations to boot. Her story is one of heartache, sensuality, and the discovery of who she is and who she wants to be.

Loving Frank reads like a story out of 19th feminist literature like The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Awakening by Kate Chopin. In so many ways, unfortunately, Mamah is the embodiment of Edna Pontellier. She finds her self dissatisfied with domestic life and agonizes over the realization that she really knew beforehand that she shouldn’t have married Edwin. Although he respects her father and cares for her family, he is not a creative soul. Frank Lloyd Wright is. As he, too, has grown unhappy in his own marriage, it’s only a matter of time before the two begin an affair. After leaving her family to run away with her lover, she comes face to face with the reality of living with Frank. Frank may be a man of vision, but he is all too human. He has deep character flaws that cause her distress and embarrassment. The guilt of leaving her children and the ill effects of being under the harsh spotlight of a the scandal loving media start to take their tole. It is only after attending a speech by Ellen Key, a feminist writer famous in Europe, that she starts to understand that the secret to her own happiness and fulfillment can come from no place but within herself.

Mamah and Frank are both self-centric people and are often unlikable. They both want the fairytale life, but tend to whine when it isn’t handed to them on a silver platter. Although he thought of Mamah as his intellectual equal, Frank was dismayed repetitively when she wanted to leave his side to pursue her own goals. Mamah continually found it difficult to love Frank through his human weaknesses. They both wanted nothing more than to express their creativity. Neither really cared to get their hands messy with the work of keeping relationships together. Had fate not intervened in the end, it seems doubtful that their relationship could have survived after the drama created by their scandalous relationship died down.

This review was difficult to write. I enjoyed Loving Frank , despite the fact that portions of the novel seemed long and dry. Given their personalities, it was often difficult to sympathize with Mamah and Frank. That being said, to enjoy a novel, it is not necessary to like the main characters. Lolita is one of my favorite novels, but I do not like nor agree with Humbert Humbert. The exploration of feminism in the early 2oth century through Mamah’s growth as a woman was very interesting. In that day and time, a woman lost her place as mother when she willingly gave up her place as wife. For women with children, personal freedom came at a huge cost. As the narrative tended to wander off course in some areas and then the author included too many unnecessary details in other, there were loose ends that were not tied up in the end. What could have been a brilliant, emotional and powerful conclusion to Mamah and Frank’s story fizzled. I would still recommend this novel, most especially for a class about early feminist literature. Although this is a work of historical fiction, it would provide the perspective of a woman living in America at the time.

*******

To buy this novel, click here.

The Sunday Salon ~ I’m Back!

January 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Posted in Books, LIfe, Reading | 17 Comments
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The Sunday Salon.comAfter a week of computer frustration, I am back! This afternoon I actually felt like picking my laptop back up and getting back to work again. I’ve missed you guys!

While I’ve been away, I have been getting some things accomplished. I got rid of all my half.com books. I sold them all for $10 and then promptly bought The Reader. Yes, it’s true that the last thing that I need is a book. Still, what a nice trade against boxes filling the back of my Grand Caravan? With the room I’ve made, I’ve been able to able to box up my sprint and summer clothes and put them on the top shelf of my walk-in closet. My clothes will no longer be wrinkled the moment they’re hung up. This also is making more room for my my stamping supplies. I’m not finished organizing the space, but I’ve made some great progress.

I’ve also been reading. Since the New Year, I’ve read My Lady of Cleves, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Etta, and Tomato Girl. My Lady of Cleves and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button are both books off of my Just for the Love of It Reading Challenge. Because I’ve also joined the January is ARC Reading Month, I will be reading ARCs the rest of the month. It felt good to be reading non-ARCs. It’s re-energized me for the rest of the month. Etta and Tomato Girl are books off of my 2009 ARC Reading Challenge. I’m well under way. I’m currently reading Mermaids in the Basement for an upcoming book tour and author interview. This is another one for the ARC Reading Challenge. But that’s not all! I forgot about my first read for the War through the Generations Reading Challenge ~ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. I’m listening to it on my Zen Creative (which I LOVE) and enjoying it.

I’ve got a lot of reviews to catch up on now that I no longer get hives touching a computer after work. First up will be my last book of 2008 ~ Loving Frank. Loving Frank is the first book we read in my Facebook Historical Fiction Lovers Book Club. 64 people have signed up and I’m really happy about that. The book for February is Soul Catcher by Michael White. If you want to join in on the fun, there is plenty of time. Most of all, we’d be happy to have you.

The New Year is a time to make resolutions. As someone who is overweight, my resolution is either to lose weight or, when I’m feeling more confident, to learn to love myself. This year I wasn’t sure what I wanted. Over the past 11 days, I decided that I wanted to live healthy – and doesn’t that accomplish both? I joined SparkPeople (Lithousewife is my username). It’s a really cool free site where you can set your goals and meet others getting healthier. Best of all, there is a Bookworm community for those who want to devour more books while easting less. :) You know that’s right up my alley. I’m watching the first episode of this season’s The Biggest Loser and it is very, very motivating.  I look forward to giving you updates on my healthy me challenge as the year progresses.

I hope that all of you are doing well. I will be back on the blogs tonight – right after I do a Wii Fit workout.

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