Friday, October 2, 2015

Weekend Cooking

"He inhaled the aroma of a dish of frumenty, made with almond milk, sweetened with honey and spiced with cinnamon, and a beaker of apple juice. John began to believe in life again."

"a dish of hulled wheat boiled in milk and seasoned with sugar, cinnamon, and raisins."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Only with Blood by Therese Down

Caitlin Spillane is a young woman with a dream. She lives with her family in Ireland in the 1940's. Her sister, Maureen, also has a plan for her future. She wants to become a nun.  In Only with Blood by Therese Down, if a young woman dreams the right dream, things will go well for her. For Maureen who chooses to become a nun, there is joy all around in the family. Caitlin's dream is very different. She wants to go to the university, Trinity university in Dublin. She loves learning and looks forward to discovering new ideas. Her dream seems like "codology" stuff and nonsense.

The novel is very painful to read and is a reminder of a time when girl-women were treated like chattel. It helped me to remember how far women have come in the Twenty - first century. What I found as insane was the fact that Caitlin's father does not tell Caitlin his plans for her marriage. He is going to sell Caitlin, his daughter, to Jack Flynn for a measly five hundred pounds. Flynn is very happy to pay the money and gain a bride. Poor Caitlin, secret bargains for her future made behind her back. It made me sick to think about the type of man her father had chosen for her: Jack is old enough to be Caitlin's father. He's forty-three with a dreadful illness.

While all of this is happening in the Flynn and Spillane household, there is a political situation going on involving the IRA. This will involve the Kellys. While reading this part of the novel, I slowed down. Keeping names of those on the Republican side and those not on that side became a bit difficult. Most of these men fighting and plotting against a common enemy, Britain, are not men of brawn with little sense. These men are strategically thinking all the time.Civil wars or revolutions are not just about guns and explosives. These bloody times shape the way a man thinks and  can change him in a big way.

There are a few twists and turns throughout Only with Blood involving romance, civil war and family. For this novel, it pays to remember the beginning. You could very well read a hook up at the end of the story. I could go on sharing about what I liked in the novel. There are so many interesting facts about Irish farming during that period and the health of farmers. Father Kennally does visit and gives last rites to Jack Flynn. I always like to read about Catholic priests visiting families and having mass and other rituals. There is an  underpinning of the Irish Catholic faith throughout the novel.

I did want to read more about Maureen, Caitlin's sister. I wondered what happened to her at the convent. Did the nuns become involved in the IRA movement? For what was written about her, I felt Maureen and the other two sisters could have been left out of the novel. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Wondrous Words

yarmulke - a skullcap worn in public by Orthodox Jewish men or during prayer by other Jewish men.https://www.googleyarmulke

gers - A traditional yurt (from the Turkic) or ger (Mongolian) is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. https://en.wikipediawiki/Yurt

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Bible Stories GONE CRAZY! Blog Tour Sept. 14-18, 2015

There is nothing like an easily written and colorfully illustrated book for children about the Bible. "Bible Stories GONE CRAZY! by Josh Edwards is illustrated by Emiliano Migliardo. There are 8 Bible stories in the book. The child is asked to find the teddies in the paintings and to explore the pictures to find mistakes.

It is fun to look for the mistakes in the illustrations. For example, in the Bible story about Daniel in the lions den there is a lion carrying a bundle of balloons. There is also a chalked game of Hop Scotch in the lair. One angel carries dentures in her hand. I could imagine children laughing at these paintings. For a synopsis, you can read about two to three sentences at the top of the page.

Near the bottom of the pages are the scriptures that will fit the drawings.The scriptures are rather lengthy. It is helpful to think of the child's age. Probably, an adult will read the stories to the child. The question is whether your child would begin to wiggle and lose interest  during the story telling.

At the bottom of the pages, there are a series of questions. To answer the questions, the child must look at the pictures on the pages again. Reading the book and looking at the art helps the child develop proficiency with concentration and  observation skills. Counting skills can become developed as the child counts the teddy bears in the illustrated pictures. To help along the way, the exact number of teddy bears are found on the last page of the book, the answer page.

The book begins and ends with a funny picture from a Bible story. All the way through the book, there is this feeling of playful fun. The back and front covers give an idea of the fun to be found inside the book. The illustrations definitely fit the description "comically illustrated." Kregel Publications

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Evergreen Falls by Kimberley Freeman

Like time, we fall forward and then backward in Evergreen Falls by Kimberley Freeman. The time periods are 2014 and 1926. The place is the Blue Mountains of Australia. Most of the action takes place at the Evergreen Falls spa. Lauren is the Historian. She finds a pile of love letters written in 1926 by a Samuel Honeychurch-Black. To find out about the circumstances and the people involved is why the reader is taken back to the Twentieth century. The tale is magnificent. It is about family, love, disaster, wealth, poverty and all of what embodies life.

I became very caught up in the workings of the class system during those early years. Rich people treated the poor and working class differently than they would treat someone from the upper class. It is Samuel Honeychurch-Black who falls in love with a young woman who is working at the spa. Her mother works at home as a laundress and seamstress. Violet and her mother have very little money.

However, Samuel treats Violet, his lover, with tender loving care. However on one night, Violet spots Samuel treating another spa worker with disdain. This part is really upsetting. That he could pretend kindness toward Violet one minute and  treat another person so differently is very hypocritical.

It is these extreme personality changes within the characters that I found intriguing and perplexing. One moment I could feel sympathy for a man like Samuel Honeychurch-Black and another moment simply despise him. It was hard to figure out whether he truly loved the girl named Violet or was he just using her for his own pleasure.

There is also the odd way the parents treat Samuel's sister, Flora Honeychurch-Black. I felt the family put her in a difficult situation. She is packed off by the family to stay with Samuel and protect him from a very strong weakness that had him by the tail.It seemed like the male in the family was more important than the female.

I have learned from Evergreen Falls that all of us whether rich or poor are really just human. We hurt and love in the same way. I think this is why Lauren's found letters and the time spent with her in 2014 glides so smoothly in to 1926. I did not feel uncomfortable with the change from one century to the other one. I only wanted to know what in the world will or can happen next in this novel."

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph (Lion Fiction)

Brother Thomas sat impassively in his stall in the choir: he felt irritated nonetheless. The air was astir from Father Chad's bustling as the prior made his way with exaggerated purpose to the abbatial seat. The energy of his going generated a crack and flap of robes that grated on Brother Thomas's nerves.


It is always dusk.
I see floating light
dancing around and through
I hear a lake move gently
north, south, east, west.
I move forward slowly
close my eyes
innocent of how to meet you
for the first time.