Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Time For Pie

On Thursday, all across this land, there is one question that will be asked countless times.  "Is it time for pie yet?"  At our house on Thanksgiving Day, that answer is "Of course!".  It doesn't matter what the clock says, it's always time for pie!

Pie-Baking is one of my favorite things and each year I try to make something just a little bit different, along with the traditional pumpkin pie's and such.  This year, the latest offering came from the pages of the November Better Homes and Garden's Magazine.  I gave it a test run a couple of weeks ago and it passed with flying colors, so another scrumptious pie has been produced for tomorrow's eating pleasure.

(as I'm trying to load pictures just now, I got a message that I was out of storage space through Google and needed to purchase some.  WTF???  Really?  How have I not heard of this before?  Do any of you have any insight on this you can share with me?  When I clicked on the "purchase space" link, it told me the information I was looking for wasn't available.  Crazy!)

So here is a wonderful recipe for a delicious pie -- without pictures---

Caramel Apple-Cherry Pie
Prep Time:  2 hours    Chill Time:  40 minutes
Bake Time:  1 hour 15 minutes  Oven Temp:  375/350

Cranberry Compote
1 12-oz bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 tsp finely shredded orange peel
1 cup frozen unsweetened dark sweet cherries, pitted

Caramel Apple Filling
8 tart baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 egg
2 to 3 Tbsp. coarse sugar

1 pie crust recipe

1.  Prepare your favorite pie crust.

2.  For Cranberry Compote:  In a small saucepan combine cranberries, sugar, orange juice, orange peel and a pinch of salt.  Cook over medium heat until the cranberries begin to burst and mixture starts to thicken, stirring occasionally.  Carefully stir in cherries.  Remove from heat.  Cool.

3.  For Caramel Apple Filling:  In a large bowl gently toss together apples, lemon juice and peel.  In a small bowl stir together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp salt.  Sprinkle over apples, stir to coat.

4.  In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat.  Add apple mixture.  Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add whipping cream and vanilla.  Continue cooking, stirring often, until juices thicken and apples are tender, about 5 more minutes.  Remove from heat.  Cool.

5.  Preheat oven to 375 degree's.  Roll out your pie crust and transfer bottom crust to a 9 inch pie pan.  Line dough with parchment, fill with dried beans or pie weights and bake for 20 minutes.  Reduce oven heat to 350.

6.  Roll out the rest of the pie crust and with a cookie cutter, make fun shapes for the top of your pie.  I did one in a maple leaf pattern and another using a turkey shaped cookie cutter.

7.  Using a slotted spoon, spoon 1/3 of the cranberry mixture into the bottom of the pre-baked pie shell.  Layer 1/2 the apple mixture on top of the cranberries.  Spoon another 1/3 of the cranberries on this layer.  Layer the rest of the apples.  Spoon the remaining cranberries on top in random dollops.  

8.  Whisk together the egg and 2 Tbsp. water;  gently brush on edge of crust. Place your pie-dough cut-outs on the edge of the pie and all around the middle as you see fit.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.

9.  Place a foil lined baking sheet on the rack below pie to catch dripping - (and this pie will drip!)  Bake for 40 minutes.  Cover edges with foil and bake another 10 to 15 minutes until crust is deep golden brown and filling is bubbly.  Cool before serving with homemade whipped cream.

Happy Pie Day!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Christmas Monkey's

I know it's not even Thanksgiving quite yet, but us crafters need to think about our Christmas gifts long before December 1st (and long before now!)  When I was contemplating this year's Christmas gifts, monkeys came to mind.
"Christmas monkey, Christmas monkey
No one's sung about Christmas monkey.
Christmas monkey's got no song
It's been that way for much too long"

Okay, so it really wasn't Monkey George that I was thinking about, but a little boy we know and love has always loved his Monkey George, so when I found this picture and silly song, I just had to share. (That's what we call him around here, and when Noah comes to visit Bana better have some Monkey George fruit snacks on hand too or she gets in trouble!)

So anyway, I was thinking about Christmas and reindeer and snowmen and santa and....monkeys...'cause who doesn't like monkey's?
And then I saw this picture and it reminded me of those old calendars that my Grandpa Simmons had every year with the pictures of monkeys dressed up and doing very human things.  Monkey's in business suits, and monkey's in mechanic overall's, that sort of thing.  When I looked around,  'Lo and Behold, all my pet monkey's had runaway so I guess I wouldn't be dressing them up and making any fun calendar's for anyone this year...

HOWEVER, as my daughter Brittany and I were strolling through Michael's a couple of weeks ago, in the $1.50 bin, (what the heck happened to the $1 bin??), we found the best striped socks.  I snatched them up, ran home, locked myself in my crap, I mean craft, room and turned that pair of socks into a Candy Cane Christmas Monkey!  
This little guy chatters ALOT and he's making my work space a very cheerful place this holiday season.  Glad he came to visit, but I knew he wouldn't be staying long so back to Michael's we went and some more of those striped socks are now in my possession.  Hehhehheeee.  Christmas Joy!

(If you've never made a sock monkey and want to give it a try, pop over to the Web Goddess for a great tutorial.  That's where I first learned and it's easy as Thanksgiving Pie!)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Turn the Page...Tuesday

Time for Turn the Page...Tuesday hosted by Adrienne over at Some of a Kind!

In October, I decided to dig into some spookier reads I'd had on my shelf for quite awhile~
The first one was on old paperback gothic, which is always kind of fun this time of year.
Castlecliffe by Sandra Shulman was written in 1967.  I found it at one of our thrift stores awhile back.
Sophy Marlowe is a young woman who has just lost her father. His final letter to her asks her to go to Castlecliffe to stay with his dear friend, Sir Pelham Eastlake, until the time of her majority (21st birthday) when she would receive her inheritance. Not long before she reaches Castlecliffe, the coach that Sophy is riding in is stopped by a rogue highwayman known as Jack Midnight. The only thing this thief takes is Sophy's letter from her father to her guardian. When the other coach riders find that Sophy is to live at the feared Castlecliffe, their friendliness towards her instantly changes. It seems the residents of this castle are feared, as is the castle itself and the marsh surrounding it. What fate is Sophy riding into? 

This is a story where strange creatures roam the grounds at night, howling in less than human tones; where Sophy's guardian turns out to be a sick man who has no interest in her and rarely leaves his room; where the strange and exotic Dr. Rashid acts as the host to Castlecliffe and the science club that seems to ooze evil. Will Sophy make it through the night of October 31st to actually see her 21st birthday? You'll have to read to find out~

Next, I pulled Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger off the shelf~

Her Fearful Symmetry was quite an interesting read full of some even more interesting characters. Haunting and creepy, this is the story of two different sets of twins who are incredibly close, to the point of not being individuals. First there was Elspeth and Edie, twins who broke their relationship years ago with a secret that tore them apart. Now Elspeth has passed away and has left her flat in England to her two American nieces, Julia and Valentina. The catch is that the girls, twins themselves, have to live in the flat together for one full year before they can sell it and their parents are not allowed to enter it. Once the girls arrive, they find that their new home overlooks the historic Highgate Cemetery where not only are many famous Londonites buried, but so are the girls ancestors, including Aunt Elspeth. Having never met their aunt, the girls can sense her presence in the flat and are curious about her. They try to find answers from their eccentric neighbors - Martin writes crossword puzzles for the local paper and his wife has recently left him due to his severe OCD which leaves him stranded in his apartment. Robert lives downstairs and was Elspeth's lover as well as the executor of her will and a guide in Highgate Cemetery. He see's the girls as they arrive and is shocked at how much they resemble Elspeth. He struggles with nerves at approaching them and it's weeks before he finally introduces himself. 

Valentina has some health problems, would like to college and have parts of her life that she does not have to share with her twin sister. She is the one who can feel Elspeth in the flat. Julia has no health problems, does not care to go to college, is the more dominant and bossy twin who will not allow anything that may lead to the twins possibly leading separate lives. 

The story takes a very strange turn as the author reveals more about the secret the broke up Elspeth and Edie and as Valentina tries to separate herself from Julia. A frightful turn that makes you wonder.... 

Last but not least was The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe~

Fantastic! Historical fiction is my favorite genre and there is nothing like a good witch book this time of year. Author Katherine Howe did an incredible job of mixing historical fact in this fictional story. 

Connie Goodwin is a graduate student working on her Ph.D. in colonial history when she receives a message from her mother, Grace, that she needs to go to her late Granna's house in Marblehead. The house has been empty for many years and is about to be sold for back taxes. Grace wants Connie to clean it up and get it ready to sell. Once there, Connie finds an antique Bible of her grandmothers and inside the Bible is a key with a tiny piece of parchment paper tucked inside with the name Deliverance Dane written on it. While researching the name, Connie finds that in 1692, Deliverance Dane was ex-communicated from the church. 1692 was the year of the Salem Witch frenzy. Had Connie stumbled on to an unknown Salem Witch? The thought is intriguing and when she mentions it to her adviser, Professor Manning Chilton, he encourages her to hurry her research along and write her dissertation on Deliverance. As Connie digs deeper into her Grandmother's home and into the mystery of Deliverance Dane, strange things begin to happen, making her question history and her own beliefs. What if there was some truth to the witchcraft these women were accused of? 

Incredible novel. I am so looking forward to reading more from Katherine Howe.

So that's it- my October reading list.  Pop over to Some of a Kind to tell us what you have been reading and to see where others reading has taken them this month!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October in Pictures - Days 10 & 11

October 10th - Light in the Dark
October 11th - Laughter

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

October in Pictures - Days 7, 8 and 9

October 7th - Water
October 8th - Peek-a-Boo
(Shilo wrapped my birthday present in this magazine ad!)
October 9th - Purple

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Saturday, October 06, 2012

October in Pictures - Day 4 and 5

October 4th - Stairs
October 5th - A Mirror

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

October in Pictures - Day 1, 2 and 3

October 1st -  Fall
October 2nd - Leaves
October 3rd - Bubbles

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Turn the Page...Tuesday

Oh holy cow!  I didn't realize I hadn't blogged since last month at this time until I just pulled my blog up...  Sheesh!  Here's hoping for a better posting month----And here's what I've been reading:

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club by Gil McNeil

Sweet and fun, this book kept me laughing the whole time. Set in England, I really enjoyed the British terms throughout the book like people always "tutting" and exclaiming "bugger". So fun! The story starts off with Jo packing up herself and two boys for a move from London to a small seaside town where she will be taking over her Gran's wool shop. Her back-story is that her husband, Nick, had come home from assignment to tell her that he has just landed a new position and has been having an affair. He tells Jo he will be leaving her and the boys, then slams out of the house in a temper and has a fatal car accident. Jo finds herself a new widow who can't grieve properly for a husband who was just about to leave her, so maybe taking over Gran's wool shop is the new beginning she needs. She soon finds wonderful new friends and a place to belong. Written delightfully and with so much humour, I really enjoyed this one!
One of my favorite passages (for the humor!)was when Jo's best friend, Ellen, is trying to get her to tell her what her Christmas present is. Jo finally states, "Something to keep you warm and snuggly". Ellen replies something like,"Johnny Depp in his pirate costume? Perfect. Bike him over right away!"

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O'Connor McNees

Delightful! Author Kelly O'Connor McNees takes facts from Louisa May Alcott's life and spins an imaginary summer around those facts. How could Miss Alcott have written such wonderful novels full of romance yet never have been in love herself as all the historians claim? The author imagines a time when all of that changed and takes us along for the journey. I don't know much about Louisa May's life so it was fun and intriguing to learn how her family lived and what an absolute bum her father was. Louisa was a fiery young girl who knew she was born to be a writer. She believed that when a woman married, she lost herself so when love presented itself, Louisa struggled with the idea that she could be a writer and have someone to love and cherish. Would it be worth giving up her independence? A wonderful novel about a great author and a theme that many women still struggle with today.

Once I finished The Lost Summer, I just had to pull one of my vintage copies of an Alcott book off my shelves and dive in.  I choose Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott~
This was another fun, light read.  I actually enjoyed it more than Little Women.  Here is the book description from Amazon:
At the age of 13, Rose finds herself orphaned and living with two elderly aunts on "Aunt Hill" where she is treated as delicately as the flower for which she is named. But Rose soon finds her quiet world turned upside down with the arrival of her seven boisterous boy cousins followed by her Uncle Alec, a doctor and a world traveler. Upon meeting Rose, Uncle Alec quickly prescribes fresh air and much activity to help with the girl's poor constitution. Uncle Alec's diagnosis turns out to be an accurate one and Rose, with the help of her cousins, finds herself in the middle of much hijinx and merriment. 

August was a good reading month!  Looking forward to my September reads!
Pop over to visit with Adrienne as Some of a Kind and find out what others are reading as well~

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Turn the Page...Tuesday

When the Emperor was Divine
by Julie Otsuka

Written beautifully, almost in prose, this small novel is set in a terrible time and deed in our country's history. A time when all Japanese Americans were rounded up and taken to interment camps to be held "for their own security". Author Julie Otsuka takes us along as one family experiences this horrific time and how it changed them. Told in three different voices, the story opens with the mother seeing a notice in downtown Berkley, California to all Japanese residents, telling them what to pack, what to leave, and what day to leave for camp. We follow the mother's steps through the time of packing. Once the family has boarded the train, we follow along with the sister and her thoughts through the long train journey to the desert camp in Utah where they will be detained. At camp, the story is told through the eyes of the little brother, who desperately misses his father, a man who was taken from the family the night of the Pearl Harbor bombing. There are so many unknowns for the family. How long will they be here? Will they ever see Papa again? What is happening to their house and belongings? 

This book is powerful, written almost without emotion, but so beautiful that I found myself reading out loud to an empty room just because I liked the way it sounded. A book that speaks to you and will be with you for a very long time to come.   
The Buddha in the Attic
by Julie Otsuka

Another incredible book by author Julie Otsuka! The Buddha in the Attic begins on the boat from Japan that is carrying young mail picture brides across the ocean to their husbands in San Francisco. This novel is done in sections, from the women's journey across the water, to the first meetings with their new husbands, to the fields and farms and cities they will call home, and throughout their lives until they are taken away from their homes and placed in relocation camps. These were very strong women who gave up everything to come to America, and once here, gave up more to be what their husbands needed and wanted. Then, when there was no more to give, gave up their homes, and sometimes their families to be tragically herded into these camps "for their own security". Written in the first person, this incredible book is done in not one voice but a chorus of nameless voices that somehow feels very intimate. It is a quite small novel, but very very powerful in it's prose.

The Green Mile
by Stephen King

Never having read Stephen King, I wasn't sure what to expect with The Green Mile but I am here to say that this is one incredible story, written so well and so engaging right from the first page that I couldn't put it down. 
Set at Cold Mountain Penitentiary in Georgia, this is the story of just a few months of time during 1932 and really focuses on John Coffey, a man who has been convicted of the rape and murder of two little girls. Two other prisoners, convicted murderers as well, are also a big focus of the story; Eduard Delacroix, a small french man who befriends a mouse named Mr. Jingles, and William Wharton, a psychopath known as "Billy the Kid". Paul Edgecombe is the "bull-goose screw" of the E block known as The Green Mile. Here we meet the other very likable guards, Brutal, Harry and Dean as well as one guard, Percy, who has his job because of his family connection to the governor and is just as sadistic and mean as the worst prisoner to live on this death row. 
John Coffey is a huge black man, simple-minded, afraid of the dark, and whose face shows great sorrow with his never-ending tears. He seems to be just a gentle giant of a man and after miraculously curing Paul's terrible urinary tract infection with a touch of his hand, Paul starts to wonder if it is really possible that John committed the terrible crime that he's been convicted of. John  Coffey seems to have a gift - but is it more of a curse than a gift?
I can't tell you much more in order to not spoil some things for you if you haven't read this book. What I can tell you is that it is one of the best books I've ever read. You will connect emotionally with each character, whether or not you like them, love them or hate them. Each character could be your neighbor in your small town. There is no horror in this book like Stephen King is known for, only friends, enemies and magic. I finished the book in tears, then turned around and watched the movie, (which was done really well, by the way!), in tears also. A story that will haunt me for awhile.
And then, I had to make my very own Mr. Jingles.   

What have you been reading this month?
Pop on over to Adrienne's place - Some of a Kind - to join in and see where reading has taken others lately.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

British Slang

(This picture has absolutely nothing to do with British Slang!)

Today I learned two new words, both of them slang used in Britain.  I will try to remember to use both of them myself because they are just too cute!

1).  Chuffed - A state of delighted satisfaction
example:  After opening the gift, I was chuffed and excited!

2).  Faff - To spend time on a non-productive activity. "Waste time".
example:  "I spent ages faffing about with my hair this morning."

I so prefer faffing to, well you know, that naughty "f" word that everyone throws around so much.  I rather prefer to faff about, don't you?  Now I must get that British accent just right...

Do you know any fun slang words you can share with me?  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Summer Loving

Mid July and the berries are getting ripe ~ Perfect for some wonderful baking full of the flavors of summer.  In the July issue of Sunset magazine was a recipe for a raspberry lemon cake that looked and sounded delicious so I had to whip one up and was not disappointed.  Yum!
Buttery Raspberry Lemon Cake

1 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/4 cup lemon curd
2-1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups raspberries
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325.  Butter a 9x13 baking pan.  In a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy.  Beat in eggs, salt, vanilla, yogurt, milk and lemon curd until mostly blended.

Add flour, baking soda, and baking powder to bowl and beat until smooth.  Spread half of batter in pan and scatter half of the raspberries on top.  Gently spread remaining batter over berries, then scatter remaining berries on top.
Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean;  about 1 hour.  If cake begins to brown too quickly, tent with foil.  

Let cool about 1 hour, then dust lightly with powdered sugar~
Serve~  preferably on the deck with some good company and laughter ~

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

In the Valley of the Giants

Way out on the Western edge of the United States of America, a great many miles from the hustle and bustle of city life,  is a valley full of giants.  These giants are not the scary type;  they will not chase you or grind your bones to make their bread.  Instead, the giants of the Pacific Northwest Rain Forest stand tall and proud, their very tip tops reaching through the fog and mist that provides the moisture which allows these giants to grow so big and strong. 

(The picture above is the largest Douglas Fir in the World, standing 302 feet tall and stretching 40 feet around!  Below is the Worlds Largest Sitka Spruce, measuring almost 59 feet in circumference, standing 191 feet tall and estimated to be over 1000 years old!)
In this same foggy world happily lived a man and his wife.  The man was brave, adventurous and strong and his wife was gentle, sweet and the fairest in the land. (HEY!  This is my story.  I can tell it how I want!)  To celebrate the anniversary of the day the couple had joined their lives in marriage, the man and his wife traveled, in their horseless carriage,  a few hours north to the land of the giants.  
The couple was much beloved (YES they were!- stop interrupting!) to all who knew them.  Even the smallest squirrel and the lowliest slug came out to greet them and bid them a good day as they strolled through the deep woods inhabited by the giants.

The man and his lovely wife so enjoyed these deep woods, contented with the drip of fog and the fresh breeze blowing through the forest.  The pleasant couple tried to stay on the trails so as not to hurt the fragile plant growth under their shoes, but alas, from time to time the trails through the wood were very overgrown with salmonberry plants and the trail became more of a creek than an actual trail.
Sometimes they would pause and look up in wonder.   "What a pretty tree this one is!"  "Look at how big this guy is.  He must be 300 years old if he's a day!"  Even as they spoke, the tree's were busy growing another ring taller and wider.  The moss was busy covering the tree's and the ferns were busy stretching their fiddleheads to the sky.  The man and his wife were delighted at all the wonder around them.

(This tree is a Western Red Cedar - the trunk measures 63 feet around and this hollow tree stands 174 feet tall!  Still living, but hollow, you can stand inside the trunk!)

Now that the wonderful couple had met three of the six giants that lived in the valley, giants who were as old as the earth itself, and had found that the giants were not fierce and savage, but gentle and kind, it was time to get out of the woods and rest a bit.  So the two set of for the castle....
and there they spent a pleasant evening, breaking bread and warming themselves with a magic brown potion known as Starbucks, surrounded on all sides by the gentle giants of the wood.   
And then, this most beloved couple lived happily ever after....

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Turn the Page...Tuesday

Holy Cow!  Has it really been a month since my last post!  I kept meaning to get to it, but you can see it never happened.  BUT - I did get some reading done AND it is time for Turn the Page Tuesday once again so --- here is where I've been ~
I was in the deep south, Shoutin' with Rick Bragg~

All Over But the Shoutin' is a memoir by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Rick Bragg, in which he recalls his childhood in rural Alabama. 

I began reading this book thinking that it was all about a man trying to come to terms with the abusive, alcoholic father that left the family when Rick was just a boy; left them poverty-stricken and afraid that he just might return. Instead what I found turned out to be a wonderful story about a boy turned man who loved his Mama. Ricks mom was a hard-working woman who took the abuse of her husband for a few years so that her boys would have food on the table; who worked in the cotton-fields with a baby strapped to her back to get by; and who went without food many times so her boys wouldn't have to. 

The author takes us on a completely honest tour of his childhood in the south; from the young boy hiding from his father under the bed, to the comfort of his Grandmothers house, to his time at church and to his accomplishments in the high school journalism room. He then carries us along on his journey as an up and coming reporter before heading back down south to once again spend time with family. 

This book was sad at times, funny at times and written beautifully. 

I can't pinpoint my favorite quote from this book, but the following ranks high on my list:
"As long as we have faith, we are as strong as our faith. Because no matter how dark it is, if I have faith, I have a song in the night"
Then, when I was done with Shoutin', I went right back to the south to meet Rick Bragg's grandfather in Ava's Man.

I loved this book!! Rick Bragg tells a beautiful story of the grandfather he never knew in Ava's Man, bringing both tears and out loud laughter while I was reading. Not only that, but I think my family got a little irritated and me constantly saying, "Listen! I need to read you this passage..."

The author brings his grandparents, Charlie and Ava Bundrum to life for all his readers. Ava was the young daughter of a prominent farmer who choose, against her families wishes, to marry Charlie; an uneducated, handsome young man with a sparkle in his eye. Charlie was a very tall, thin man with huge hands who could brawl with the best of them but also had endless patience for his babies. He was a carpenter and a moonshiner who, during the depression years, moved his family 21 times chasing work and being chased by the law. 

This is an incredible story of an every day man living and raising a family in the poverty ridden deep south. There are so many passages I would like to quote for you here, but one, from the very beginning of the book that just touched my heart and sums up the story of Charlie Bundrum. Rick grew up surrounded by a family who never talked about Charlie, so when Rick started asking questions, he found out why he had never heard very much about his grandfather. Here is why-

'I remember the night, an icy night in December, I asked three of Charlie Bundrum's daughters to tell me about his funeral. I sat in embarrassment as my aunts, all in their sixties, just stared hard at the floor. Juanita, tough as whalebone and hell, began to softly cry, and Jo, who has survived Uncle John and ulcers, wiped at her eyes. My mother, Margaret, got up and left the room. For coffee, she said. 
What kind of man was this, I wondered, who is so beloved, so missed, that the mere mention of his death would make them cry forty-two years after he was preached into the sky?'

This was a story I never wanted to end, and now that it has, I almost believe that I miss Charlie as much as his family does. Hand me a kleenex please...

I read some other books this past month, but I honestly cannot review them here.  Not in the same space with the two above- they just don't deserve it.  I have another Rick Bragg on my to be read shelf - The Prince of Frogtown -  but I'm a little scared to read it.  What if it doesn't hold up to Ava's Man and All Over but the Shoutin'?  I just don't know how it could...

Pop over to Adrienne's Turn the Page Tuesday to let us know what you've been reading and see what others have on their shelves. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Turn the Page...Tuesday

What have you been reading this month?  It's time once again for Turn the Page...Tuesday hosted by the wonderful Adrienne of Some of a Kind!  The perfect time to share your reading adventures with others!

This past month I traveled through the Sahara desert, fought for my life in the 2nd and 3rd Hunger Game books, and went back to WWII for a moment in on~
Sarah Challis - Footprints in the Sand
What happens when you finish someone else's journey?
Emily and Clemmie Kingsley are two cousins who grew up in England. The story opens at their Great Aunt Mary's funeral with Emily crying not only over the death of Aunt Mary but also over the demise of her relationship with her boyfriend. When the service is over the girls find the in her will, Aunt Mary has left instruction that the two of them are to take her ashes and scatter them in a remote area of the Sahara desert. The journey will take a long ride into the desert by camel and Emily does not want to go while Clemmie cannot wait to get started. No one in the family can fathom why Aunt Mary would possibly want to be scattered in the desert, but a visit to Mary's lifelong friend, Miss Timmis, reveals that yes, Mary had spent some time in Africa when she was a young woman. She tells the girls that she doesn't know anything more but it seems that maybe she does. Why and what isn't she telling? Their journey begins as the girls meet up with a small, and eccentric, tour group for the first leg of the trip. Once into the desert, the group breaks up, everyone going their own ways and the girls meet up with the incredible men of the desert who will take them to Aunt Mary's final resting place. Is this trip just a wild goose chase or will the reasons the girls aunt wanted to rest here reveal themselves along the way?
I really enjoyed this book and liked the characters and missed them when they were gone!

Karen Fisher-Alaniz - Breaking the Code
A Father's Secret, a Daughter's Journey,
and the Question that
Changed Everything

Breaking the Code is a heart wrenching story of a daughter trying to understand her father who had been in WWII. The author, Karen, grew up hearing the same few stories of her dad's time in the service, and paying little attention to those stories. Now he is 81 years old and has placed in her care four notebooks filled with the letters that he sent home to his parents during those years. Karen knows what a treasure this is and sets out to simply transcribe her fathers tiny and sometimes hard to read handwriting so that her kids can one day have a copy of these letters. Having always been told that her dad had just a simple office job during the war, Karen is shocked to find out that his stating that he wasn't really in the war is not the case at all. In a time of high censorship of all military mail, Karen must read between the lines and ask her dad just the right questions to find out the real story. In doing so, she and her mom both become worried about her dad. Seems that he is having nightmares and seems to be in a state of grief after some of their sessions. Murray, Karens dad, simply will not answer some of the questions and others seems to just not remember the answers. Some sixty years after the war has ended, Murray is dealing with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and memories that have been long buried are coming to the surface. 

This is an incredible true story that brought me to tears more than once. It is told with complete love and compassion for a father the daughter barely knew. Highy recommended!

These were both really good books - I then picked up Catching Fire and Mockinjay, the 2nd and 3rd books in the Hunger Games series and devoured them.  Both very good as well.

Now tell me, where has your reading taken you?  And don't forget to pop over to Some of a Kind for more good reads!