Friday, May 31, 2013

We Have a Winner!

Congratulations to Emma from Words and Peace! You won the giveaway of The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout. Please send me your address and I'll mail the book to you on Monday.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

#Estellagram May - The End

I've really fallen away from #Estellagram over the past week - heat, snow(!), power outages, a long holiday weekend... you get the picture. Here are the three photos I managed to submit. It's been fun, but I'm calling it quits a few days early.

Day 22 | notes

Day 24 | cook... Not tonight!

Day 26 | tree... so windy and cool today

I'm not sure whether there is an #Estellagram June or not.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tuesday Intro: Tess of the D'Urbervilles

On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore or Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off. Presently he was met by an elderly person astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune.

Tess of the D'Urbervilles
by Thomas Hardy

Tess of the D'Urbervilles is my book for the latest classics spin and it's time to get started. I read the first two chapters and have decided to download the audiobook read by Simon Vance. Read/listen combinations seem to work well for me when it comes to classics these days. What do you think of the intro?

 Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Sentence: And the Mountains Echoed

Sunday Sentence, inspired by author David Abrams at The Quivering Pen, is "simply put, the best sentence(s) I've read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary."

Father never felt more present to Abdullah, more vibrant, revealed, more truthful, than when he told his stories, as though they were pinholes into his opaque, inscrutable world.   (page 31)

And the Mountains Echoed
by Khaled Hosseini

Saturday, May 25, 2013

GIVEAWAY: The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

Yesterday I posted my review. Today, it's time for a giveaway.

If you would like the new hardcover copy of The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout I received from Random House, please let me know in the comments.
  • drawing at 12 PM (EDT) Friday May 31
  • US and Canada only
  • include your email address
  • winner to be contacted 5/31
  • if a mailing address is not provided by 6/4, an alternate winner will be selelcted
Good luck!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout

The Burgess Boys
by Elizabeth Strout
Random House, 2013
336 pages

Summary from Goodreads:

Haunted by the freak accident that killed their father when they were children, Jim and Bob Burgess escaped from their Maine hometown of Shirley Falls for New York City as soon as they possibly could. Jim, a sleek, successful corporate lawyer, has belittled his bighearted brother their whole lives, and Bob, a Legal Aid attorney who idolizes Jim, has always taken it in stride. But their long-standing dynamic is upended when their sister, Susan—the Burgess sibling who stayed behind—urgently calls them home. Her lonely teenage son, Zach, has gotten himself into a world of trouble, and Susan desperately needs their help. And so the Burgess brothers return to the landscape of their childhood, where the long-buried tensions that have shaped and shadowed their relationship begin to surface in unexpected ways that will change them forever.

My thoughts:

Family roles, assigned early and sometimes arbitrarily, often continue to define us well into adulthood. I grew up as "the musician" and "bookworm" in a family of athletes (not entirely unwarranted labels) and am still never the first choice in a family pick-up game of basketball or softball. For the record though, I love sports and relish the role of fan/spectator.

In the Burgess family, the roles were dictated by tragedy. A freak accident involving three young children in a parked car caused the death of their father. The lives of all three children, now well into middle age, have been defined by the official family account of the accident. As a new family crisis calls the brother back to Maine, difficult truths emerge, forcing a reevaluation of old assumptions and challenging the Burgess boys  to move forward.

I've been reading Elizabeth Strout since Amy and Isabelle  was published in the late 1990's and have been in awe of her writing and characters ever since. Strout's perception into the human psyche is amazingly keen. She understands what makes people who they are and how it colors their relationships with others. In The Burgess Boys, the sibling relationship takes center stage.

Jim and Bob Burgess, unlikable as they may be, are presented with the utmost compassion and honesty.  Other characters, like Bob's twin Susan and her son Zach, Jim's wife, Bob's ex, and Somali immigrant Abdikarim Ahmed, receive similar treatment. By the end of the novel, it was hard to say good-bye to these people. In fact, I'd still like to check in and see how they're doing. Elizabeth Strout has taught me that a truly great writer can make you care about characters, even when you don't particularly like them.

A few favorite quotes:
"How could he describe what he felt? The unfurling of an ache so poignant it was almost erotic, this longing, the inner silent gasp as though in the face of something unutterably beautiful, the desire to put his head down on the big loose lap of this town, Shirley Falls." p. 53 
"While the Burgesses seemed to have no knowledge of, or interest in, food (there were meals of scrambled hamburger covered with an unmelted sheet of orange cheese, or a tuna casserole made with canned soup, or a chicken roasted without any spices, not even salt), Pam discovered that they loved baked goods, and so she made banana bread and sugar cookies, and sometimes Susan stood in the small kitchen and helped her, and whatever was baked was eaten hungrily, and this touched Pam as well - as though these kids had been starved all their lives for sweetness." p.107 
"He carried also a disquieting idea, which was that he was a stranger now to the place that had been for so long his home. He was not a visitor; neither did he feel himself to be a New Yorker. New York, he thought, had been for him, like an amiable and complex hotel that housed him with benign indifference, and his gratitude was immeasurable. New York had also shown him things; one of the biggest was how much people talked. People talked about anything. The Burgesses did not." p.233 
"He understood they would probably never again discuss the death of their father. The facts didn't matter. Their stories mattered, and each of their stories belonged to each of them alone." p. 318
My rating:

Bottom line:
While not quite Olive Kitteridge (a Pulitzer Prize winner and personal all-time favorite), The Burgess Boys  still deserves a solid four star rating and my recommendation.

FTC disclosure:  James, who knows I'm a big Elizabeth Strout fan, sent me his ARC - thank you! A couple of weeks later, I received a hardcover copy from Random House. Watch for a giveaway post coming tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

#Estellagram Update: Days 15 - 21

The May #Estellagram photo-a-day challenge is coming into the home stretch.  Here are my photos for week 3:

Day 15 | night ... a high school favorite to reread for The Classics Club

Day 16 | looking down... It was too cold for sandals this morning, but now I wish I wore them anyway.

Day 17 | comfort, greyhound style

Day 18 | grow... a flower, at last! 

Day 19 | book ... only 20 pages left

Day 20 | soft... yarn for a new knitting project

Day 21 | hard? .... My #ccspin book -hope I'm up to the task

One more week to go...
Find me on instagram - lakesidemusing

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tuesday Intro: Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage

At the Cherbourg Quay
Wednesday, April 10, 1912, 3:40 P.M. 
The Titanic  was going to be late. 
To the first-class travelers aboard the Train Transatlantique, now chugging to a stop at Cherbourg's quayside terminus, this would be dismaying news. The six-hour journey from Paris had been quite long enough. How many hours, they wondered, would now have to be spent in this small, smoke-grimed station before White Star's new steamer could arrive to take them to New York?
Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World
by Hugh Brewster
Broadway Paperbacks, 2013

Even though fiction is my normal reading fare, I also enjoy well-written nonfiction on a variety of subjects. The story of the Titanic is endlessly fascinating, so when a new book focusing on the lives of the first class passengers became available for review, I couldn't resist. Three words from the title/description clinched my decision: Edwardian, Titanic, first-class.
The Titanic has often been called "an exquisite microcosm of the Edwardian era,” but until now, her story has not been presented as such. In Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage, historian Hugh Brewster seamlessly interweaves personal narratives of the lost liner’s most fascinating people with a haunting account of the fateful maiden crossing. Employing scrupulous research and featuring 100 rarely seen photographs, he accurately depicts the ship’s brief life and tragic denouement and presents compelling, memorable portraits of her most notable passengers: millionaires John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim; President Taft's closest aide, Major Archibald Butt; writer Helen Churchill Candee; the artist Frank Millet; movie actress Dorothy Gibson; the celebrated couturiere Lady Duff Gordon; aristocrat Noelle, the Countess of Rothes; and a host of other travelers. Through them, we gain insight into the arts, politics, culture, and sexual mores of a world both distant and near to our own. And with them, we gather on the Titanic’s sloping deck on that cold, starlit night and observe their all-too-human reactions as the disaster unfolds. More than ever, we ask ourselves, “What would we have done?”
After a couple of chapters, I'm enjoying this quite a bit. Are you interested in the Titanic?  What do you think of the opening?

 Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Monday, May 20, 2013

And the number is...

That means I'll be reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy for the Classics Club spin. It's not exactly a title I'm dying to read but, on the plus side, I will have company. Brona of Brona's Books also had it listed at number six.

Here's the book description from amazon:
Hardy’s penultimate work, Tess of the D'Urbervilles  is arguably the greatest tragedy of all Victorian literature. It tells the story of Tess, an impoverished woman whose past relations and miscarriage cause her to be rejected by her husband on their wedding night. Touching upon the themes of class, religion, gender, and sexuality, the novel was highly controversial for its time and is held in high esteem by literary scholars to this day.

Anyone else want to read along? Our goal is to finish by July 1.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Sunday Salon: Right Now

Good morning and Happy Sunday. We're enjoying a relatively quiet weekend on the lake... how often does that happen? My husband is out of town for a family memorial service/reunion and will be home early this evening. Twin A is putting in long hours at work, while Twin B and I take care of the yard work, run errands, and (hopefully) accomplish a few domestic chores.  

Inspired by Lisa, I'm experimenting with a new Sunday Salon post format.

Right Now

Time:  9:30 Sunday morning
Place:  my favorite chair
Out my window:  56 degrees, overcast with a few showers... very quiet on the lake

Reading :
The last twenty pages of Some Tame Gazelle  by Barbara Pym and sipping black coffee... although tea might be the more appropriate drink.

Listening to:
 And the Mountains Echoed  by Khaled Hosseini
I literally had goosebumps at the end of the first chapter, and the word 'mesmerizing' came to mind after the second. I plan to purchase a hardcover copy when the book is released on Tuesday because I can't listen fast enough.  My mother and sister will love it, too.

So many beautiful knitted projects have been popping up on blogs and Pinterest lately, but my needles have been idle for the last decade. I'm off to the yarn shop this afternoon and will attempt to get back into things with this simple scarf... if I can only remember how to cast on! (photo from Pinterest)

No film or television viewing last week, but the twins and I enjoyed a few old family movies, especially our 2001 'Christmas of the American Girl Doll' when Samantha, Kit, and Kirsten joined our household.

Sunday home delivery of the New York Times

Tomorrow's Classics Spin number... it will determine my next read.

Hoping for: 
A quick trip to NYC to see Daughter #1... maybe next week?

How was your week?  Any big plans for today?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Another Classics Spin

The recent Classics Club spin game was a huge success and now it's time for round two. The rules are the same, only the dates have been changed.

Here's how it works:
- Go to your blog.
- Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club list.
- Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog by next Monday. (5/20)
- Monday morning, we’ll announce a number from 1-20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted, and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce.
- The challenge is to read that book by July 1.

I've decided to use a slightly modified version of my first spin list:

Pick Me, Pick Me (books I want to read now)
1. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
2. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
3. Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
4. My Cousin Rachel by Daphne DuMaurier
5. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

6. Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
7. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
8. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (reread)
9. Them by Joyce Carol Oates
10. An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

11. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
12. Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote
13. A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
14. Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner
15. Gigi by Colette

Favorite Authors
16. The Bunner Sisters by Edith Wharton
17. Cranford by Eizabeth Gaskell
18. They Were Sisters by Dorothy Whipple
19. The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck (reread)
20. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner (reread)

Let's spin...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

#Estellagram Update: Days 8 - 14

Our May photo-a-day challenge has reached the midpoint and I'm still on track. Here's my quick recap of #Estellagram Week 2:

Day 8 | A page from my 1998 reading journal

Day 9 | edition... I have many copies of Pride and Prejudice, but this is my favorite.

Day 9 | number... Not exactly bookish, but appropriate for laundry day

Day 11 | poetry...happy to see a Robert Lowell poem at the beginning of Snow Angels  by Stewart O'Nan

Day 12 | 9 o'clock .. Perusing book sale finds and enjoying my 2nd cup of coffee

Day 13 | green 

 Day 14 | mail ... A belated Mother's Day gift arrived today!

On to week 3... find me on Instagram: lakesidemusing

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Intro: Some Tame Gazelle by Barbara Pym

The new curate seemed quite a nice young man, but what a pity it was that his combinations showed, tucked carelessly into his socks, when he sat down. Belinda had noticed it when they had met him for the first time at the vicarage last week and had felt quite embarrassed. Perhaps Harriet could say something to him about it. Her blunt jolly manner could carry off these little awkwardnesses much better than Belinda's timidity. Of course he might think it none of their business, as indeed it was not, but Belinda rather doubted whether he thought at all, if one were to judge by the quality of his first sermon.
Some Tame Gazelle
by Barbara Pym

Some Tame Gazelle, published in 1950, is Barbara Pym's first novel and I think the opening paragraph is very representative of her style. It says pure comfort reading to me. Would you continue?

Have you read Barbara Pym?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Sale Bounty

Book sale season has arrived! On Saturday afternoon, I made an impromptu trip to the Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library book sale. This is easily the largest sale around. Boasting a warehouse  filled with over 250,000 titles, I could happily browse for hours. We had all sorts of activities planned for Mother's Day weekend and a trip to Ithaca wasn't on our agenda, but around mid-afternoon it was beginning to look like a possibility and we were on our way shortly after three.

The crowd had thinned and browsing was easy by the time we arrived around 4:30. I was hoping to find something by Angela Thirkell or Barbara Pym (for Pym Reading Week), but it was not to be. There was nothing at all by Thirkell, and a single well-worn trade paperback of Excellent Women was the only Pym available.

My first thought was that Thomas had scooped up the Thirkells earlier in the day, but he struck out, too. Either nobody in upstate New York is reading Angela Thirkell, or they all sold the first weekend of the sale. As for the Pyms, Thomas left a couple of hard covers and several trade paperbacks, so there are obviously more fans in the area... and they all arrived ahead of me!

There were still thousands of books to peruse and I left with a very nice stack (from the bottom):

Abide with Me by Elizabeth Strout
Strout is always a favorite. I recently finished The Burgess Boys (fingers crossed for a review this week), loved OliveKitteridge, and enjoyed Amy and Isabelle  years ago, too. This is a pristine hardcover edition of her second novel.

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
Book blogger favorites are irresistible.

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle
Prize winners always catch my attention, too, and this won the Booker Prize in 1993.

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
I enjoyed The Forgotten Garden  and thought this might be a good summer read.

Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres
Corelli's Mandolin  is a favorite. I've wanted to read this for years.

Old Filth by Jane Gardam
I've been meaning to read Gardam for some time and snapped this up in light of a recent New York Times book review.

God on the Rocks by Jane Gardam
A beautiful Europa Edition of Gardam's 1978 first novel

Cheerful Weather for the Wedding by Julia Strachey
I can never pass up a Persephone Classic.

Snow Angels by Stewart O'Nan
After reading four of O'Nan's novels, I want to read them all.

Loitering with Intent by Muriel Spark
I seem to be reading a lot of British novelists lately...

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
It seems everyone in the world has read these books, but I'm afraid they may be too gruesome and have continued to avoid them. Yet another friend raved about the series during a recent dinner party and convinced me to give it a try. We'll see...

Any thoughts on these books?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Sunday Sentence: The Thirteenth Tale

Sunday Sentence, inspired by author David Abrams at The Quivering Pen, is "simply put, the best sentence(s) I've read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary."

There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.
The Thirteenth Tale
by Diane Setterfield

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Two Spring Salads and a New Salmon Recipe

With the twins home from college and interested in choosing a few new seasonal recipes, our spring Pin It and Do It Challenge moved into high gear this week. I even created a new Pinterest board, Super Salads and Sandwiches, to aid in planning lighter summer meals.

Early in the week, with warm weather and an especially hectic day, we opted for a quick, cold supper. Apple Pecan Chicken Salad from Smells Like Home appealed to all of us. Picking up a rotisserie chicken and fresh croissants on the way home made things even easier. The sandwiches were delicious - a definite "keeper" recipe that would be perfect for a summer luncheon, too. The above photo is from Pinterest; my original pin is here.

Encouraged by success, we tried the Southwest Black Bean Salad from - another winner! It is excellent as a side salad, but could also be used as an appetizer or salad topping. We needed to plan ahead and allow the avocado time to ripen to perfection, but I'm sure that won't be an issue as the season progresses. Here is my original pin.

Next up was Baked Dijon Salmon, adapted from and found on What's Cookin' Chicago? blog. This is my new favorite salmon dish and it has definitely earned a spot in the regular dinner rotation. In addition to trying the recipe, we also ran a taste test between fresh and frozen salmon. For months I have been maintaining that Wegmans club pack frozen salmon fillets are just as good as fresh, but this side-by-side testing proved me wrong. I baked one frozen fillet along with the fresh and, of course, we could all tell the difference. Frozen salmon is still a freezer staple, but now I'll use it only when I can't get to the store for fresh. The photo of the cooked salmon is from Pinterest (I forgot to take one), but below is the salmon brushed with honey-dijon glaze and then sprinkled with the panko-pecan topping before baking. My original pin is here.

Weekend Cooking, hosted at Beth Fish Reads, is open to anyone who has a 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 over the weekend.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Calling Me Home: A Novel
by Julie Kibler
Narrated by Bahni Turpin and Lorna Raver
Blackstone Audio, 2013
13 hours and 36 minutes
source: purchased

Publisher's Summary:

Eighty-nine-year-old Isabelle McAllister has a big favor to ask her hairdresser, Dorrie. She wants the black single mother to drop everything and drive her from Texas to a funeral in Ohio - tomorrow. Dorrie, fleeing problems of her own and curious about Isabelle’s past, agrees, not knowing it will be a journey that changes both their lives.

Isabelle confesses that, as a teen in 1930s Kentucky, she fell in love with Robert Prewitt, a would-be doctor and the black son of her family’s housekeeper - in a town where blacks weren’t allowed after dark. The tale of their forbidden relationship and its tragic consequences just might help Dorrie find her own way.

My thoughts:
There are really just two things I want you to know about this novel:

  1. I loved it! My second 5-star book of the year, it will surely appear on my list of favorites in December.
  2.  Be prepared to shed a tear or two and plan accordingly... especially as you approach the end. After receiving questioning looks upon arriving moist-eyed at the hair salon, I decided to finish listening at home rather than on the way to the dentist's office as planned. A good decision.

A note on the audio production:
Multiple reader productions are usually a hit with me. In Calling Me Home, two stellar narrators team up to deliver an audio performance that is sheer perfection. I enjoyed Bahni Turpin in both The Help and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, but Lorna Raver, a popular reader whose name I instantly recognized, was a new narrator for me. I have since added several of her other credits to my audio wish list.

Read or listen?
If you're an audiobook fan, and especially if you enjoy dual narrators, by all means listen. However, my mother prefers reading, so I borrowed a library copy and insisted she read it. She devoured the book (as did my sister) and assures me it's just as wonderful in print.

Bottom line:
Calling Me Home  is a must read!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

May #EstellaGram: Days 1 - 7

The first week of #EstellaGram for May is history. Despite going the 2-for-1 route on Days 3 and 4, I have kept up with this month's bookish photo-a-day challenge.

Day 1| close up... Penguin's Clothbound Classics are gorgeous

Day 2| currently reading 

Day 3| good & Day 4| evil... Two days, one photo!

Day 5| So #happy to find this in my mailbox! 

Day 6| sad ...I'd really rather sit by the lake and read, but there is work to be done.

Day 7| a couple #ethnic cookbooks

We'll see if I can keep up for another week.
Find me on Instagram: lakesidemusing


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