Saturday, April 30, 2011

Library Loot: April 30th

Library Loot Event is a weekly event hosted by Marg at The Adventures of a Intrepid Reader and Claire from The Captive Reader. This weekly event encourages bloggers to share the books they have checked out from the library. I always find many new books to add to my reserve list!

If you’d like to participate, just write up your post and link up.  And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!


This last week I finished the following books:

Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom (Review)
The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman (finished because I decided I didn’t want to finish it)
Lake of Dreams – Kim Edwards
My Library Loot for this week:
Memory-of-love2 purge the-legacy
I was unable to go to the library this week, but hubby went for me.  I am out of town for work.  But being out of town means I have free time to get caught up on book reviews, reading and blogging in general.  I hate to even spend any of my free time sleeping!  I only get to have Mama’s little retreat once a year and always look forward to the extended free time with my books and laptop!

What did you find at the library this week????  Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!!

Happy Reading!

Book Review: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand–Helen Simonson

Title: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Author: Helen Simonson

Publisher: Random House


Date of Publication: March 2010


Pages: 400 Pages

Format: Audio Book from Library

About the Book: (from

The Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother's death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their respective spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

Related Media/ Interview with the Author:

About the Author: (from:

I have lived in America for over twenty years. I have been a long-time and proud resident of Brooklyn and have recently moved with my family to the Washington D.C. area. However, I was born in England, and when I was a teenager, my family achieved the English dream - to move to a house in the country.

East Sussex, with its sleepy villages, medieval smuggling towns, and unique pebble-bank shores is my vision of 'home.' My family lives near Rye, a 14th Century smuggling port on a cobbled hill, from which the sea receded long ago. It is marooned in the eerie landscape once home to smugglers, yet clings to its designation as a member of the Cinque Ports. Close by are the seaside towns of Hastings and Eastbourne and to the west, the Downs swell up into a ridge of grassy hills topped by the hundred mile trail known as the South Downs Way. It is literary country - Henry James at Lamb House, Rye; Kipling at Batemans, Burwash; Virginia Woolf at Monk's House, near Lewes - and this heritage was always a great inspiration to me.

As a young woman, I could not wait to go to college in London, or to move three thousand miles away from home to America. Yet I have always carried with me a longing for England that will not fade. I think this dichotomy - between the desire for home and the urge to leave - is of central interest to my life and my writing.

My Review:
I don’t recall where I first read about Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simon. I had read enough book blogger’s reviews to know I had to read this book. I listened to the audio of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and I am glad I did. I am infatuated with English accents so this is a delight to listen to. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is set in a small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in Sussex. I loved this setting and could envision this little village that did seem to be very old fashioned.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is a quaint little love story between two older, unlikely people, Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali. The Major has a wonderful sense of sarcasm that was even drier than my hubby’s! The Major is an older widow with one adult child, Roger. Roger was an annoying character who was always trying to improve his standings in life by meeting affluent people. He drove me nuts with his name dropping. Mrs. Ali is the local shop owner, originally from Pakistan. She is a lovely character. She is intelligent and full of life and while cognizant of the values of her heritage, she was willing to go against convention to ensure her own happiness. Both the Major’s and Mrs. Ali’s families, like all families can be messy, complicated and unkind.

My favorite character had to be Abdul Wahid. Abdul was set in the old ways of his heritage, but yet conflicted about it. Abdul ended up being a very complicated person with many layers to him. He was misunderstood at times or maybe even conflicted about his own feelings.  This was a fairly quick listen that was very enjoyable to listen to.

My Rating: 4/5 – a light enjoyable listen. The accents on the audio were wonderful. I love my English accents!!

Other Bloggers Reviews:

Book Smugglers

The Captive Reader

Mostly Fiction Book Reviews

Dirty SexyBooks


Happy Reading!

Review: The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Title: Kitchen House
Author: Kathleen Grissom
Publisher: Touchstone
Date of Publication: February, 2010
ISBN-10: 1439153663
Pages: 384 pages
Format: Kindle Edition
Synopsis from When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family.
Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin.
Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.
The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.
Related Media:
Interview with the Author:
You can learn more about Kathleen Grissom on her official website.

My Review:

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom was selected by my book group, Books & Babble for our April discussion. We met last week to discuss the book. The Kitchen House is the story of life on a southern Plantation in the 1780’s. The story is told by alternating narrators, Ladvinia and Belle. Belle is a slave on the plantation who is also the daughter of the Captain. Ladvinia is a young Irish girl who comes to the plantation at the age of 7 when the Captain purchases her as on indentured servant. Having two narrators worked with this story as Ladvinia’s observations of events were usually immature and na├»ve. Belle, was wise and understood life on the Plantation in a way that Ladvinia did not grasp.

There are many themes within The Kitchen House such as the theme of history repeating itself and effects of isolation on the people of the plantation. The other theme all too common in this dark time of history is the disregard of the person of color as anything more than an object, owned by their masters. I am always bothered by how any human being can treat other human being so brutally. I am truly appalled by this time in our nation’s history.

One member of my book group shared that her relative was an indenture servant as a small child, coming to the Midwest on the Orphan train from New York. It was very interesting to hear about this and luckily the small child was treated very well and loved. I hope our nation takes the time to learn from it’s history and not repeat it. But then again don’t get me started on how our nation treats the less fortunate. I am a social worker so I do have a bit of an opinion on the subject. I won’t use this platform for a political rant.

The flow of The Kitchen House is very smooth, even with the transition between the two narrators. The book was very engaging and kept my attention. It had me gasping out loud at points and as well as cheering for a revolution. I found myself sneaking off to read a few more pages whenever I could.

The characters are well developed. You hate the bad characters and love the good ones. It seems like in The Kitchen House you were either good or bad, there was little in between. I loved Belle, her strength and wisdom are evident throughout the book. I also loved the fact that she loved her son with all her heart despite the events that lead to his conception. Mama and Papa were wise and honest slaves that loved Ladvinia as their own. They protected her, the best they could even when her own actions put them in harm’s way. I loved Will and his treatment of the workers and the way he ran the plantation with compassion and efficiently.

I was sad for the Kitchen House to end; I wanted to know what happened next to the characters I started to care so much about.

My Rating: 4/5 – very good book – highly recommend.

Other Bloggers Reviews:

BookNAround - my friend Kristen

Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews

The Sweet Escape

Confessions of a Bibliophile

The Literate Housewife


Happy Reading!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Review: Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch

men and dogsTitle:  Men and Dogs

Author:  Katie Crouch

Publisher: Back Bay Books

Date of Publication:  (April 7, 2011)

ISBN 10: 9780316002141

Pages: 304 pages

Synopsis:  It was the spring of 1985.  Dr. Buzz Legare went on a fishing trip in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor, taking the family dog with him. They found the dog later, floating alone in the small aluminum boat, but Buzz was never seen again.

Fast forward two decades: his daughter Hannah is thirty-five with a successful business and a dedicated husband, Jon, in San Francisco.  She’s left Charleston far behind, but not the conviction that her father is alive somewhere⎯not dead, just missing.  Her obsession begins to play out in self-sabotage, culminating one night when, having royally screwed things up with Jon, she finds herself drunkenly climbing up her own fire escape—with disastrous results.

Head bandaged and heart bruised, Hannah is ordered home by her strong-willed mother, Daisy, and reluctantly welcomed by Palmer, her much more responsible brother who stayed behind.  There, she encounters rivals and ghosts from her past, including Warren, the childhood love she could never quite forget.  Enlisting his help, Hannah sets out on a quest to find out what really happened to her father so long ago.  Palmer and Daisy worry about the manic lengths she’ll go to dredge up the past.  Some family secrets, they reason, are best left buried for good. (

About the Author:  Katie Crouch is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Girls in Trucks and the upcoming novel Men and Dogs. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Observer, Tin House, Glamour, and McSweeney's. She received her M.F.A. at Columbia University, and was awarded a Sewanee Walter Dakin Fellowship and a MacDowell Fellowship. She currently lives in San Francisco.

My Review:  Men and Dogs is the story of how a family copes after the father of the family disappears during a fishing trip. Hannah, the daughter, 20 years after her father’s disappearance is determined to find out the truth. She is certain he is still alive. Her brother, Palmer, believe their dad died and that his actions lead his father to his death. The mother seems to have adjusted the best to the death of her husband and moved on the best she could.

Hannah and Palmer were unlikable as characters. Hannah was very self centered and immature. Her actions were unpredictable. I did find Hannah’s attempts to reunite with her husband sad, desperate and humorous at times.  I think actually I had the most respect for Hannah’s husband and his tolerance. Palmer seemed cold and detached overall.

Men and Dogs is a quick read that keeps you engaged in the story. There are some quirky characters when Hannah returns to Charleston.

My Rating: 3.5/5 – a quick enjoyable read that kept me interested throughout the book. But not one that I would be raving to my friends to get them to read it.

Other Bloggers Reviews:

Book Worm with a View

Simply Stacie

Book Journey

Luxury Reading

Happy Reading!