Somebody to Love

What happens when a wealthy heiress suddenly learns her inheritance has been lost? Parker Welles, a popular children’s book author has never had to worry about money. In fact, she donates the profits from her super successful children’s books to a children’s charity. Parker, a single mother, is shocked when she learns she is left with nothing but a meager savings account and a house she inherited from her aunt. With no means to support herself Parker is hoping to flip the house for profit and use the money to start a new life for herself and her son. But when Parker sees the house she had inherited her hopes are dashed. It turns out her aunt was a hoarder, and the scenic beach home she thought she was inheriting turns out to be a rundown beach shack filled with years of junk. Just when Parker thinks things can’t get any worse, her father’s lawyer James arrives to offer his assistance. Parker and James have a past history and a strong chemistry that Parker is looking to forget, but she isn’t in a position where she can turn down free help.
Funny, smart and not at all the diva heiress Parker is a likeable protagonist. While reading this book you will want to root for Parker and cross your fingers she will find “Somebody to Love”. This book contains a charming mix of humor and romance and I recommend it to fans of contemporary romance.  Can home renovation be romantic? You’ll have to read and find out.


And Now for Something Completely Different...

“Books and movies are like apples and oranges. They both are fruit, but taste completely different.” -- Stephen King

Yes, for some reason there seems to be a universal law that says:  “the movie is never as good as the book.”  However, there are quite a few movies based on books that are good in their own rights.  They might not be exactly the same, but they still manage to entertain and to make you think.  And even though, due to time constraints, a movie may not keep to the precise chronology and plot of the book, it can keep the spirit of the book alive and well.  Here are a few movies (all available through OC Public Libraries!) that do exactly this:

·         3:10 to Yuma
·         About a Boy
·         The Age of Innocence
·         Babe
·         Bridget Jones’s Diary
·         Brokeback Mountain
·         Chocolat
·         Clueless
·         The Color Purple
·         The Commitments
·         Dead Man Walking
·         Emma  (I like the Paltrow version, but this BBC version is very good, too.)
·         Fight Club
·         Gangs of New York
·         Hamlet (the Kenneth Branagh version)
·         The Hours
·         In the Name of the Father
·         Last King of Scotland
·        The Last of the Mohicans
·         O Brother, Where Art Thou?
·         The Pianist
·         Possession
·         Pride and Prejudice  (In my opinion, this is the best version EVER.)
·         The Princess Bride
·         The Quiet American
·         The Remains of the Day
·         Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
·         Shawshank Redemption
·         Slumdog Millionaire
·         There Will Be Blood
·         The Thin Red Line
·         Trainspotting
·         True Grit

What would you add?


Favorite Cookbooks

Whether cooking a holiday feast or just making dinner, cookbooks are a great way to come up with new and exciting recipes. Some cookbooks can be so expensive, before you buy consider visiting the library where you can checkout great cookbooks for free! Here are some of my favorite cookbooks.

By: Irma Rombauer

This book has been revised many times, but I’ve enjoyed each revision. The newer editions contain more healthy and low-fat recipes while the older editions have more traditional recipes as well as some recipes that may have gone out of style (turtle soup anyone?) This book is great because it not only gives recipes but also gives information about ingredients, food service and menu ideas. In print since 1936, this cookbook is one of the most used and well known cookbooks around. 
The Moosewood Cookbook: Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, Ithaca, New York
By: Mollie Katzen

This vegetarian cookbook is a great source of healthy recipes. Vegetarians will appreciate the main course ideas, while non-vegetarians might appreciate some of the vegetable side dish ideas. This cookbook is extremely popular and I would definitely recommend this to anyone with an interest in vegetarian cooking.
The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
By: Ina Garten

Ina Garten’s eye for beautiful entertaining is showcased in this book. The book contains beautiful pictures and recipes that can be served on platters for entertaining or in smaller portions. I love Ina Garten because her cookbooks move beyond just the recipes and give ideas for how to entertain friends and family.
Simple Vegetarian Pleasures
By: Jeanne Lemlin

This is one of those cookbooks where every recipe turns out just right. The downside is there aren’t any pictures, but after sampling one of the delicious recipes contained in this book you won’t miss the pictures one bit. This book provides an array of recipes, anything from dessert to main courses and gives ideas for everything from a simple family dinner to a special holiday side or main course.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl
By: Ree Drummond

Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, popular for her lifestyle blog has compiled some of her recipes here. This book is a great resource for fun yummy recipes everyone will love.

The Taste of the Season: Inspired Recipes for Fall and Winter
By: Diane Worthington

This is a fun cookbook to inspire you during the fall and winter seasons. This cookbook is geared towards seasonal and holiday cooking.
These are some of my favorite cookbooks. What are yours?


Talking to the Dead


Reading about communication from the beyond may seem more like October fare, but returning spirits aren’t always spooky and scary. Communing with the dead, either by the presence of spirits or through amazingly life-like computer generations can be funny or moving, too.

In Goodbye for Now, Laurie Frankel’s novel of love and algorithms, Sam Elling is a software engineer whose system for finding your soul mate is so effective that it cost him his job when the online dating site that employed him decided that they make more money off NOT making matches. When his true love’s grandmother dies and he is looking for a way to help her, Sam tweaks his algorithm to create a digital projection that can email and video chat a reasonable facsimile of the dead, provided they were active enough online in life. Populating her Seattle with memorable characters (both living and dead), Frankel touches on the ethics of reanimating the dead and the process of grieving while unwinding the sweet romance of Sam and Meredith. (Also available as an audiobook)

On a more supernatural and silly note, Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl is the spirit of Sadie, recently deceased, but currently appearing to her previously uninterested great-niece Lara in her most glorious flapper incarnation. Visible and audible only to Lara, Sadie is insistent that Lara help her recover the dragonfly necklace that had been her prize possession for more than 75 years. Sadie’s presence is less a haunting than a hostile take-over, and with Sadie as her very opinionated and focused guide, Lara takes big chances at work and in love while learning more about her family and the surprising history of the amazing girl who grew up to be Great-Aunt Sadie in the nursing home. (Also available in Large Print, as an audiobook, and as an eBook)
An obvious predecessor to Twenties Girl is the 1926 classic ghost story Topper by Thorne Smith. When Cosmo Topper buys a used car, he gets its previous owners, too:  The mischievous young couple who met their deaths in that very car. The late George and Marion Kerby make it their mission to save Comso from his boring life, leading him down a gin-soaked path of hijinks. (Topper was also made into a film and a television series)

[Cover]If shenanigans from beyond the grave are too far out there for you, Extra Large Medium by Helen Slavin offers spirits with more mundane concerns. While the dead appear to Annie Colville on a regular basis (wearing the tell-tale chocolate brown), her husband, missing almost seven years, has never once sought her out. While she waits for him to turn up (either way), she decides to help those souls who seek her out, and is surprised at their small and often trivial concerns.


Computer Programming Book Reviews

Title: Programming Android
Author: Mednieks, Zigurd, Laird Dornin et al.
Publisher: O'Reilly
Publication Year: 2011
Pages: 482
Call Number: 005.276 Android

Android is one of the major operating systems currently available on the market for mobile devices and the book Programming Android, published by O'Reilly, provides a thorough introduction on what you need to know in order to start creating applications for tablets and phones that run this os.  

The book contains eighteen chapters divided into four sections that introduce the reader to the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), the Eclipse integrated development environment (IDE), the Java programming language, objects, the Android program development model, and the Android Framework.  The last section of the book is devoted to advanced topics like multimedia, location and mapping, communication and social media.  Most importantly, the book also provides information on how to download, install and run the Eclipse IDE and the Android Development Kit.



Want To Get Away?

Are you tired of an overly materialistic lifestyle? Do you ever dream about escaping the Orange County rat race by moving to a tropical island?  I’m not courageous enough to make such a move myself, but I just read a book by someone who is.  Sonia Marsh, along with her husband and three sons, packed up their belongings and relocated to a rustic beach house in Belize in search of a more satisfying life.  

Sonia Marsh recounts their adventures (and misadventures) in her new book Freeways to Flip-Flops: A Family’s Year of Gutsy Living on a Tropical Island.  Having never lived abroad, I enjoyed reading about Sonia’s struggles to adjust to a new culture and a new life.   She candidly describes a family in turmoil, made worse at times by the dramatic decision to relocate.  Despite their trials and tribulations, Sonia and her family find themselves reconnecting in unexpected ways. 

Sonia Marsh will speak about her book and her experiences at the El Toro Branch Library on Friday December 7th, at 1pm. This program is free and open to the general public. For more information please call 949-855-8173.  


Sharing Diamonds: A Unique Social Experience

The Necklace : Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Transformed Their Lives by Cheryl Jarvis was an intriguing title that I learned of from my sister's book club news and was a book that I knew I must read.

When Jonell McLain of Ventura, California sees a $37,000 dollar diamond necklace in a store window, its rare beauty says that she must have it.  But she also realizes that the only path to this goal is in community ownership and she sets about gathering a group of friends or friends of friends who might invest in the purchase as a group.  So an unlikely group of thirteen women gather to arrange the joint ownership of the necklace and thirteen women must decide how it is to be shared.

Each chapter of this story introduces or further narrates the story of one of the women, her background and her relationship to the group.  So varying are the women and their backgrounds that just meeting them make this a fascinating read from the start.  But as this is an uncharted social experiment, it soon takes on its own life far beyond Jonell's intentions and often beyond her control.

Whether or not the readers can relate to the excitement here about wearing diamonds for a month, a day, or for an hour, all can enjoy this story about strong varying opinions and about compromise.  Beyond the idea of sharing the necklace, the narration includes a wonderful theme about the message of belonging to a group and enjoying the power of a group of women who can rally support to those in need. Reading about the challenges to those who thought theirs were the best ideas and even the only ideas, and reading about the power of a group of just thirteen is thought provoking and inspiring.

And the message about not always getting one's way no matter how entitled one feels, of anger, compassion and compromise is especially pertinent as we reflect upon our latest election.  The Necklace and other works by Cheryl Jarvis can be found in the OCPL catalog and although there does not appear to be a website for this author, there are many interesting internet discussions such as here; but perhaps it is best to read the book first so as not to spoil the story.  A fast and light read, this is a good choice for reluctant or time-challenged readers.


Good Book Alert

Joshilyn Jackson’s book A Grown Up Kind of Pretty is all at once a coming of age story, a mystery, a love story, and a family drama. We meet Ginny, Liza and Mosey Slocumb, three generations of women who have come to expect disaster every fifteen years. Ginny gave birth to her daughter Liza when she was fifteen and found herself estranged from her parents, friends and entire town. She fled to Mississippi and struggled to make a stable life for herself and her daughter. She thought she had succeeded until her daughter, the beautiful and wild Liza, becomes pregnant at fifteen. Now, fifteen years later, all eyes are on Liza’s daughter, Mosey. In small town Mississippi everyone knows everyone’s business and everyone wants to know if Mosey will follow in her mothers and grandmother’s footsteps. Mosey is in many ways like Ginny and Liza, but she is also very different.  Mosey is a young woman just finding out who she is when old secrets are unearthed and threaten to change everything.

To find out more about Joshilyn Jackson and her books click here to visit her website.


Something Lost, Something Found

“That was the summer when everything we would become was hovering just over our heads.” – Junot Díaz

This Is How You Lose Her is the latest offering by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Junot Díaz.  It is a collection of short stories that weave together the childhood, adolescence and finally adulthood of Yunior (a character also found in his previous books, Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao).  The stories are told through the lens of the various women in his life—fiancée, mother, friends, lovers (many, many lovers).  He learns something from each of the women, though most often he chooses to ignore their lessons.

The book also explores the complex relationship between Yunior and his older brother, Rafa, who was once the toughest guy in the neighborhood, but becomes a shadow of his former self when he is stricken by cancer.  Through trial and error (that’s what life is most of the time, isn’t it?), Yunior figures out what kind of person he wants to be—and maybe more importantly, the kind of person he does not want to be anymore.

The writing itself is a pleasure to read.  Just when I was about to put the book down, the words kept pulling me forward:  one more page, one more chapter.  Using a mixture of hard street talk and erudite literary wordplay, Díaz puts on display the beauty of language in all its forms.

I have to admit, Díaz has drawn me in—even though I’ve just barely closed this one, I’ve already put his other books on hold.


The Name of the Wind

There is something about fall every year that puts me in the mood for a great big fantasy novel. I’m not a devout fantasy reader, so I usually just ask around until something sounds interesting. The latest such recommendation to me was The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. This book already has a huge following, but for someone who doesn’t read a lot in this genre--I am so happy I picked it up.
The book opens with a chance meeting between a man named Kvothe and a scribe called the Chronicler. Because Kvothe is somewhat of a legend, the scribe jumps at the chance to record his life’s story which they set up to be told over the course of three days. Each day of the story will comprise one of the books in the Kingkiller Chronicles. The Name of the Wind is the first in the trilogy.
His story begins with childhood and the events set in motion after his family is brutally murdered. Although he is very young, Kvothe learns to survive on his own for years. Eventually he gets accepted at The University where he hopes, among other things, to learn more about the Chandrian who are responsible for killing his parents. His time at The University, however, proves to be much more than an avenue for researching the Chandrian. He makes friends and enemies, learns magic, falls in love, makes a living--basically he starts growing up. But just when it seems that he might get some of the answers he seeks, the story ends.

Rothfuss’s writing style is excellent. This is definitely a fantasy novel, but it’s so grounded that it often doesn’t seem that way. There is adventure and magic, but the sophisticated plot and character development make it one of the best fantasy novels I’ve ever read. You will definitely want to pick up the second book in the series, The Wise Man’s Fear