Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Guernsey Literary And Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows


Slipping in right under the dead line – I pinky swore with Alita from Alita.Reads that we would both read this book in September.  She totally smoked me…. but I am done with the book and here is my review.  Thanks Alita – what a blast!  :D


The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet’s name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book’s epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation.   Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life.

An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic “documents” such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use. The word epistolary comes from the Latin word epistola, meaning a letter.


Click to see Alita's review

I know I know… I could have written my own synopsis… but honestly… I am tired and my brain is fuzzy and words to describe this delightful book are totally escaping me so if I would have written the synopsis it would have been one word:

Delightful.

Uniquely written, this book is made up entirely of letters.  Yes!  Letters!  Correspondence back and forth, fun and witty and informative – letter by letter we piece this story together… the remarkable start of The Potato Peel Pie Society and the books they enjoyed!  I love books – about books!

Pride and Prejudice

Wuthering Heights

Past and Present

The Cantebury Tales

The Pickwick Papers

Selected Essays Of Elia

The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen

Letters of Seneca

Selections from Shakespeare


I have enjoyed a few books centered around war this past year and have to say this is the best one I have read.  As I mentioned earlier, books about books is really a soft sell for me…. I just love to rad about other book lovers.  They fascinate me!  I loved reading about other people in the “Society” and how the book club developed.  I group that started out as a “cover story” that became rea… did I mention that I love that?

I know I am gushing and repeating myself and doing all sorts of things that when I read this review tomorrow I will roll my eyes – but honestly I have to get this out there – read this book!  Warm and welcoming characters that will invite themselves into your heart.

This would make a wonderful book club read!


I wanted to include a recipe for Potato Peel Pie… I did not have the time to make this as I had hoped to… however if I ever get my book club to read this I think I will have to put in the effort:

  • 2 cups raw, grated potato skins (I added some of the white part to keep the texture somewhat tender), use mashed potatoes for filling
  • 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • beetroot
  • sour cream (optional)
  • chives (optional)
  • butter (optional)
  • garlic (optional)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a small pie plate. Mix grated potato peels with egg, onion and flour. Press the mixture into the pie plate and up the sides to form a crust. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes. While the crust is baking, cook potatoes, drain and mash. You can add your favorite mashed potato flavorings here i.e. garlic, onion, milk, butter, salt, etc. Fill crust with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with beetroot. Bake in oven at lower temperature of 375 for 10 minutes or until browned.
  • I received this book for review

    Morning Meanderings… “Banned Aid”

    LOL…. oh come on, I have been saving that post name all week….

    *giggles to myself*

    I had to use it.


    Ok, Coffee Cup and I seem to be running late today so I will move on (although it still makes me smile…).  I have been having a fun week of reading books that I have selected not only because it is banned books week, but also because many of the titles are books that I have always wanted to read.  I have a few that are too big for me to get reviewed during this week, but I still plan to read them.  One of those books would be Pillars of The Earth, another would be A Prayer For Owen Meany.  Both books I currently have checked out from the library.

    Last evening I put up my review of SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson.  I did not plan on posting it that late, but I had an insane day and after work was home all of 15 minutes before I ran out to a much-needed dinner with friends.  Sometimes just hanging out with people and having time to laugh and enjoy what happening in their lives can be like medicine for the soul.  When I got home after 8 pm, I still had a couple of touches to put on the review so I finished it up and it went live last night.  I hope you can take a minute to read it if you have not already.  This is the book that I had just started hearing about a couple of weeks ago and the controversy surrounding a particular part of the book.  When I heard the opposite side of this argument, how many people the book was reaching… I dived in cautiously waiting for the part in the book that was causing the uproar.  Seriously, it was so tastefully handled.  I even called one of my friends and read the part to her over the phone looking for a second opinion.  She too thought it was handled quite appropriately.  Of course I get that the battle is not necessarily about the wording but about the subject matter.  Anyway – enough of that…..

    Today I work.  Then I mow.  (All that rain last week put me on the mower again!)  On the bright side, I hope to finish the audio of Fahrenheit 451 as I mow.  This is so the right book to read/listen to during banned books week as it is about book burning.  AND yes, I am enjoying it and yes I had given up on it recently due to the narrator, however I found it on audible.com with a different narrator and that made all the difference.  More on that in my review.  ;)

    Finally – the best part of my day today is that tonight Navy Son (who surprise returned home last week) and I are hanging out tonight.  I am thinking I will make turkey burgers and maybe we will go to a movie or a bike ride.  What a great way to complete my day!  :D


    Why was A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving banned?

    Banned and censored around the United States for its stance on religion and criticism of the US government regarding  the Vietnam War and Iran-Contra.

    Morning Meanderings… Do I own my dogs or do they own me?


    Good Morning.  Picture this.  I am up but I am not.  It is early and I am here with Coffee Cup trying to relax a bit and scrape in some caffeine before I go to the gym.  My hair is everywhere…..  My eyes I think are still slits….

    The dogs get out of bed.  I hear the “thwump” as their little shih-tzu  feet hit the floor.  They wander out of the bedroom and I open the door to the deck so they can go out for their morning jaunt.

    I go back to the lap top…. where was I?  Oh yeah…. working on my post for later today….  great read…. what should I say ne….

    “Woof Woof!”

    Seriously.  They have been out all of a minute…. maybe a few seconds more …. I look over my shoulder at Elmo and Bailey wagging their tail waiting to be let in.   I ignore them.  It’s not cold out… in fact its lovely… must be almost 60 degrees already, I will just…

    “Woof Woof.!!!!!”  “Woof Woof!!!”

    GAH.

    I let them in and they parade past me like I am scum.  I am so beneath them.  They do not even throw me a kind glance.

    I shuffle to the kitchen rubbing my eyes and refilling my cup.  Elmo comes up and looks at me.

    “What?”  (That’s me saying that.. not the dog…. although I am not sure if it would surprise me.)

    He does his excited “follow me” dance where he looks at me and runs to the entryway and then comes back to get me and runs again and makes sure I am following.

    I look at the kitchen clock.  I have to get moving.  Elmo is still doing his Lassie and Timmy is in the well impression.  He should have been an actor.  Seriously he is wasting good talent here in central Minnesota.

    I go to the entryway… yup.  The water dish is empty.  I fill it.

    I go back to the lap top…. look at my post.  I will have to finish it later.


    That’s my morning…. anyone else have pets that own them?  :razz:

    Why was The Color Purple by Alice Walker banned?

    2010

    Challenged and or banned for offensive language, being sexually explicit and unsuited to age group.

    2009

    Challenged in Burke County schools in Morgantown (NC) by parents concerned about the homosexuality, rape, and incest portrayed in the book.

    2008

    Banned for sexually explicit and offensive language and homosexuality.

    2003

    Challenged in Fairfax (VA) school libraries by a group called Parents Against Bad Books in Schools for “profanity and descriptions of drug abuse, sexually explicit conduct and torture”.

    Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix by JK Rowling (Banned Books Week)

    He who shall not be named has once again… oops…. scratch that….. I guess I am a little deep into the story line yet….

    *shakes head*  Starts again….

    Voldemort is once again causing a bit of destruction and mayhem in the wizarding world.  It is the fifth year at Hogwarts and Harry has emerged into full-blown adolescence, including a crush, rage, and questions about his future.  Dumbledore has taken to avoiding him at all costs and it seems to Harry that everyone has forgotten that he almost had died last year and had saved the school from yet another horrifying evil.

    Then there is the new addition to the school compliments of the Ministry of Magic, Dolores Umbridge.  A short toad like of a woman who is scrutinizing everything going on in Hogwarts much like a child would do to an ant with a magnifying glass.  In no time at all she has Harry off the Quidich team … banned for life (there’s that dirty word banned again!) and in desperation the Griffindor Team puts Ron in as Keeper.

    “Hem Hem”


    Things are not so wonderful at the school as they had been in the past and Harry is really wondering what sort of future he is going to have if this keeps up….


    I listened to this one on audio, which  haveI  been doing all year, and highly recommend the audio versions if you have not yet experienced Harry Potter that way.  Narrator Jim Dale is an experience in itself and you will not believe the many voices he uses for the different characters.  I swear Hagrid is the real Hagrid and when Dale does Delores my skin crawls just like it did when I read the books!

    While listening to this audio what I really noticed that I had not before (during my many readings of this book) is that this really is the book where Harry comes to the realization that his father was not the hero that he had built him up to be in his mind.  Harry is introduced to some hard truths about his dad and has to learn that everyone has faults.

    As I thought about Harry’s feelings about his dad I had to think that this was another great move on J K Rowling’s part.  I swear, the more I listen and or read the books, I find more things that impress me.  I thought about how easy it is to put someone on a pedestal when they have passed away…. how we forget the annoyances, and focus on the wonderfulness and what we miss.  J K shows Harry a side of James that not only gives us a glimpse at why Snape loathes Harry so….. but also a look at his true father….  a fifteen year old hot-shot kid who thought he was super cool and loved to show off for his friends.  This book really shows us a good  message about relationships and Harry comes to realize that while his dad was not the perfect man he had imagined, he was still a very good man.

    If you have not taken the time to experience Harry Potter on Audio I highly (HIGHLY) recommend it.   This rich installment won Jim Dale a Guinness World Record for the most character voices in an audio book. The series has won the Audies Hall of Fame Award. Fifth in the series. “Dale’s exciting, nuanced performance wholly captures the story’s irrepressible humor and magic.”—Booklist

    Why was Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix by J K Rowling banned?

    Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, along with the rest of the Harry Potter series, has been attacked by several religious groups and banned in some countries because of accusations that the novels promote witchcraft. However, some Christian commentators have written that the book exemplifies important Christian viewpoints, including the power of self-sacrifice and the ways in which people’s decisions shape their personalities. Educators regard Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and its sequels as an important aid in improving literacy because of the books’ popularity.

    In July 2002, the parents of a student in Cedarville, Arkansas, filed suit against the School Board’s decision to restrict access to the Harry Potter series.  The Board’s decision limiting the availability of the book only to students who received parental clearance came in response to a parent’s complaint that Rowling’s books promoted witchcraft and defiance of authority.

    If only we could wave a magic wand and educate parents and school boards about the First Amendment.

    I borrowed this audio from my wonderful local library


    Morning Meanderings… Reality sometimes hits you right in the face

    Good morning!  Coffee Cup and I are off to a good start today.  After a really good weekend and a pretty decent Monday here we are back again.

    So…. fact about me… I really like about three tv shows.  Survivor, Biggest Loser and Amazing Race.  I love the challenges, I love to see them succeed…. I love to cheer for my teams.  SO… on Sunday evening Al and I sat down to watch the season premiere of Amazing Race.  They had one challenge where the teams had to use a big sling shot with watermelons to knock over life-size suits of armor that were lined up in a field.  It was a pretty cool challenge and this one team of two girls was really struggling.  And well….. look for yourself:




    Can you even believe how that happened?  I was amazed that she didn’t break her nose or knock out some teeth.  How she was able to go on from that was like….. “Whoa!”  Unbelievable!   Poor girl!


    Anyway – had to share that with you.

    In other news…. I hope you had a chance to check out my new sticky post.  We are currently looking for Mini Challenge Hosts for the Dewey read A Thon and we would love to get some new people involved who haven’t hosted a mini challenge before.  Check out the Read-A-Thon site for more information.  Basically all you do is plan a giveaway around a little challenge.  It can be to answer a question, do a little task….. whatever, then you offer a prize to your winner.  It is a two-hour commitment and will drive traffic to your blogs.  If you need any help thinking of a challenge let me know and I can try to assist you.  Please consider being a mini-challenge host for the October 9th event.

    Oh – I was also featured on Reading Minnesota yesterday promoting the Twin Cities Book Festival and Book Blogger meet up.  If you have a second stop by and check that out.


    And finally yes…. the “Banned Wagon” is still moving full steam ahead.


    I am off to work and tonight I have kick ball (feel free to insert giggles here).  Hope you have a fantastic day and moments of good reads!  :D

    Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume (Banned Books Week)

    Twelve year old Margaret has a lot of worries for her young age.  She wonders if she will ever need anything beyond her training bra.   When the time comes to kiss a boy, how will she even know how?  And she is desperately afraid that she will be the last girl in her club to get her period.  As if this wasn’t enough, she also has a new home and a new school.  And where does God fit into all of this…


    Ok.  I think I became a reader through Judy Blume’s books.  Ok…. maybe I started with my collection of Nancy Drews and then on to the Hardy Boys, but in those early years of double digits, Judy Blume was my author of choice.   I fondly remember reading this book and it was a pleasure to pull it out again for this re-read.

    Judy writes well with her sixth grade voice of Margaret, page by page going through Margaret’s fears and hopes for her new school and for herself.  When Margaret’s teacher asks the students to share what religion they are, Margaret starts to wonder about that too.

    What I love about this book is how Margaret takes her questions to God.  Throughout the whole book God is her companion and much like a voiced diary, Margaret shares it all.  The book is funny and sweet and a wonderful book for young girls as the are starting to ask their own questions.  I think this book would be a wonderful discussion book that could be shared between mother and daughter.

    Reading this book again made me laugh out loud (all I am saying is six cotton balls…. ) and reminded me of the wonderful stories and characters I had found with Judy Blume.  It brought me back to a time when I worried about such things and it was good to read a book about a girl who had concerns like me.  :D

    Check out all the covers for this book… how fun are they!


    Did you ever read this book?  What cover was your copy?

    Why was Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret banned?

    Due to its relatively frank treatment of adolescent sexuality and religion, this book is one of the top 100 most frequently challenged books at libraries (i.e., books that have been requested to be banned), according to the American Library Association.

    A fun FYI: This book was seen being read by Sawyer from the hit TV show LOST, on the beach, demonstrating his indiscriminate desire for reading material. He disliked the book, calling it “predictable”, with “not nearly enough sex”.

    Wanted: Mini Challenge Hosts for Read-A-Thon Oct 9, 2010


    We are currently looking for book bloggers who have not hosted a mini challenge before to consider doing a challenge for this falls read-a-thon.  It’s super easy, a lot of fun, and will bring people to come and visit your blog!  Click here for details.

    It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

    It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

    I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme.  I offer a weekly contest for those who visit 10 or more of the Monday Meme participants and leave a comment.  You receive one entry for every 10 comments, just come back here and tell me how many in the comment area.

    Last weeks winner (using Random.Org) was:

    Heather  She Is Reading


    Congratulations!  Please choose an item out of the PRIZE BOX and email me your choice with your mailing address as well!   journeythroughbooks@gmail.com


    Wow!  What an amazing week.  We are currently right in the beginning of Banned Books Week and I am having a lot of fun chatting it up with others about Banned Books….  here are the posts that landed here last week:


    Book Bloggers Unite – a list of the top 100 banned books for the last two decades

    The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (my review and the Bookies – My Book Clubs review)

    Seriously?  How do you lose the book you are currently reading?

    Oh!  Oh!  Guess what I found?

    Banned Books Eve and a little crazy poem

    Review of ROOM by Emma Donoghue (I can not believe this book has sat in a box since May and I had not read it yet!)

    Author Chat with Emma Donoghue (Author of ROOM)  (and she even answered a question for the spoiler page!)


    Review of The Face On The Milk Carton for banned Books Week (uhhhh….. WHA?  I totally couldnt figure out what made this banned!)

    I went to a Minnesota Author event on Saturday and uhhh…. errr…. came back with a few books.  :razz:

    Review of Freedom Writer’s Diary for Banned Books Week (If you have not seen the movie I encourage you to do so!  Then read the book of the diary’s of these students….. powerful, powerful. stuff!

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (complete – need to post review this week!)

    I Would Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman – audio review completed, still need to post

    So how is that for a smoking awesome week?  I had a lot of fun catching up with books lying around everywhere partially read thanks to Michelle’s Fall Catch Up Read-A-Thon. Granted, I could use more than one week to catch up… but I did make a dent.


    This week I will continue reviewing Banned Books but I will also be reading a few other reads if all goes well.  Here are a couple I hope to get to this week:

    I just purchased this book this weekend but listen to this synopsis:

    Meet Laura Van Ryn and Whitney Cerak: one buried under the wrong name, one in a coma and being cared for by the wrong family.

    This shocking case of mistaken identity stunned the country and made national news. Would it destroy a family? Shatter their faith? Push two families into bitterness, resentment, and guilt?

    Read this unprecedented story of two traumatized families who describe their ordeal and explore the bond sustaining and uniting them as they deal with their bizarre reversal of life lost and life found.

    And join Whitney Cerak, the sole surviving student, as she comes to terms with her new identity, forever altered, yet on the brink of new beginnings.

    Mistaken Identity weaves a complex tale of honesty, vulnerability, loss, hope, faith, and love in the face of one of the strangest twists of circumstance imaginable.

    I have to read this!

    Doesn’t this look good?  I am in the mood for a little historical fiction!

    I picked this one up from the library after reading about it on another blog.  I am really looking forward to this story!

    So that’s the week!  I am so looking forward to stopping by and seeing what you are reading!  This is actually one of my favorite things to do each week.  Add your What Are You Reading post to the linky where it says CLICK HERE and we all can visit the posts!  :razz:

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    Click here to enter your link and view the entire list of entered links…

    **Update:  Linky server seems to be down so leave a comment below and I can connect to you that way.  Once up I will update the links for you.  :)

    Freedom Writers Diary by Zlata Filipovic w/ Erin Gruwell (Banned Books Week)

    Twenty three year old Erin Gruwell was a new teacher in Long Beach, California.  Erin was filled with energy and ideas and was not deterred when she was given the students referred to as the “unteachables”.  Going optimistically head long into the class it did not take Erin long to see the invisible lines drawn between race, color, and social status.

    When a picture is passed through the room making fun of a student, Erin brings up how hateful things like this start wars.  Mentioning the Holocaust she is shocked to find that most of the students in her room had never heard of this.  Using her own money, as the school would not provide books for such social outcasts, Erin teaches the students through reads like Anne Frank, and slowly builds the trust not only in her, but in each other.


    I always try to read a book before I watch a movie although, such as in this case, it does not happen that way.  When I seen this movie years ago I did not even know it was a book.  The movie was phenomenal and even as I write this review and I think of this powerful story it brings tears to my eyes.

    I had purchased the books years back after realizing it was a book and as many of my books do… it sat on the shelf until recently.  Reading this book, was  just as wonderful as the movie.

    I can not stand hate.  It is a dirty four letter word.  I can not handle families torn apart and people judging each other for anything.  Having lost all of my immediate family members to tragedies, it breaks my heart to see families choose not to speak to one another over whatever differences they feel they have.

    What I wouldn’t give to have one more conversation with my mom.  My dad.  My sister.

    I am getting off course, but this book brings out a lot of emotion as I felt again within the pages, the hate, the labels, the teachers who looked at these students as a waste of their time and the schools money.  What Erin does costs her much, but the outcome…. is priceless.  Within this true story you will find the power and passion of one person, who erased the invisible hate lines by daring to cross them and showing love to students that were starving for it.

    An amazing and powerful read that if you have not read – I highly recommend you do.  And this week, if you can make the time, I challenge you to rent this movie.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Amazon Rating


    Why was The Freedom’ Writers Diary Banned?

    On March 11, 2008, an English teacher at Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, Connie Heerman, was suspended for a year and a half without pay for using the Freedom Writers Diary in her classroom against the wishes of the school board.[ Administrators objected to racial slurs and sexual content in portions of the book. Heerman had received permission the previous year to attend a workshop based on the books and obtained permission slips from the parents involved. The school board contends that Heermen did not properly follow the rules to receive permission to use the book. Erin Gruwell commented on the controversy, saying, “The best way to get a teenager to read a book is to ban it. When someone who is a daunting authority figure says, ‘Give us your book’, I think these students [thought], ‘There must be something powerful in these words’.

    *FYI.  The Diary of Anne Frank is also a banned book.

    (1982) Challenged in Wise County, Virginia due to protests of several parents who complained the book contains sexually offensive passages. (1983) Four members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of this title because it is a “real downer.” (1998) Removed for two months from the Baker Middle School in Corpus Christi, Texas after two parents charged that the book was pornographic. The book was returned after students waged a letter-writing campaign to keep it, and the review committee recommended the book’s retention.


    Morning Meandering… Reading To Beat The Banned


    Ok Ok… that was a little cheesy but I am trying to have a little fun with the word banned this week.  :razz:  I noticed that Natalie over at Mindful Musings has a wonderful post for banned and challenged books as well as links to other posts and giveaways around this topic.

    Yesterdays trip to Barnes and Noble in St. Cloud was a lot of fun and I chatted with quite a few Minnesota authors.   Many of them will be at the Twin Cities Book Festival in October that we are doing the book blogger meet up at, so if you are in the area and able to join us, let me know.  I have information I can send you.

    Of course… book stores and me mix together well and I did leave with several…. err…… ok, more than several books.

    All but the bottom one are Minnesota Authors

    Today Navy Son will be hanging out for the football game and for the entire day!    That will be a lot of fun!  He has been so busy since he got home and trying to get around to see everyone that this will be our first full day to hang out and catch up.  Of course during the game, while making shrimp chowder, I fully plan to read. :D

    Have an awesome Sunday everyone!

    Why was J K Rowlings Harry Potter Series, banned?

    JK Rowling, author of the wildly popular Harry Potter series, is sometimes referred to as the writer Americans would most like to see banned. According to librarian scientists, there were more than 3,000 attempts to have her books removed from U.S. libraries between 2000 and 2005 alone. Fanatics across the nation still claim that Rowling’s books promote the occult and Satanism.

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