Friday, July 7, 2017

Paying it forward

At the library where I work, the Summer Reading theme is Build a Better World.  Our adult programs are build around Pay It Forward, the book and movie.  We are having  a Pay It Forward Raffle for prizes where patrons have to fill out a card saying they performed 5 various Pay It Forward activities.

Today, I was in the drive thru at Dunkin Donuts getting a coffee and the young lady in the car in front of me paid for my coffee.  I'm still moved by her kindness.

In the spirit of her generosity, I have running an Amazon Giveaway for the ebook Pay It Forward.  All you have to do is follow me on Twitter.  Here is the link:

Good luck and thanks for reading.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Before We Visit the Goddess (or how to win at book club)

Back in May 2017 I was asked to take over the book discussion group at the Punta Gorda Library.  The pressure was on to pick the first book for the group to read after I took over.  I quickly popped onto the Reading Group Guides website to see what was “hot” with book clubs right now.  The first book that popped up was Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Divakaruni.  The cover of the book is what drew me in.  It is a beautiful cover. 

Perhaps one of the truest-to-life mother-daughter stories, Before We Visit the Goddess tells the story of Sabitri, Bela, and Tara.  Three generations of an Indian-American family trying to make their way in this world.  Sabitri yearns to get an education, but as the daughter of a poor rural baker, the profits from their sweet shop are not enough to do so.  When a well-to-do local woman takes Sabitri under her wing, it looks like her fortunes will change. Until Sabitri falls in love with the woman’s son. 

Years later, forced to deal with her mother’s mistake, Bela decides to flee to America with her student leader boyfriend. Moving to the U.S. ends up not being the positive move Bela thought it would be.  As her marriage falls apart and her daughter Tara, grows even more distant, Bela tries to keep Tara from throwing away her education by reaching out to Sabitri.

A beautifully written story filled with descriptions of many Indian delicacies.   If you are like me, you start wanting to try all of them.  One day, I hope to be brave enough to try making them.

While putting together information about the author, I found that she will do a video chat with book clubs.  I sent an email asking about the video chat and Ms. Divakaruni responded that she would love to "meet" with us.  The day of the chat, technical difficulties prevented us from video chatting but the author was kind enough to answer our questions via text message.  She was lovely and our book group thoroughly enjoyed asking questions which helped us understand the book even better.  I can't thank the author enough for making my first month of running the book club such a success! 

Here is a transcript of our texting session

________________________BEGINNING OF CHAT ___________________________________

Chitra:  Hi, this is Chitra. I’m here if you want to ask me some questions via text.

Book Group:  Thank you.  We have a question about the back and forth time line.  Was there a reason you wrote it that way?

Chitra:  Yes, I didn’t want this to be a traditional family saga with hundreds of pages. I wanted to make this book work like memory does – moving back and forth between the most resonant parts of our lives.  I put the dates so that the reader wouldn’t be too confused.  I hope it worked.

Book Group:  Yes it did!

Chitra:  Great!

Book Group:  Are any characters based on people in your life?

Chitra:  The characters are all fictional, although some parts of Sabitri’s life are close to my mother’s – she is of the same era, and she worked very hard to go to college but could never complete her degree but the other details are all fictional.

Book Group:  Question about the magician – Was he real or a figment of Bela’s imagination?

Chitra: That is really up to the reader to interpret.  In Bela’s mind, he is real and therefore he has an effect on her life.  The truth also could be somewhere in between – that he doesn’t appear the first time, but then she imagines him the rest of the times.  I mean that he does appear the first time for a few minute, but them she imagines him the rest of the times.

Book Group:  I love Bipin.  He was my favorite.  Was he in love with Sabitri?

Chitra:  I love his character also. We should all be lucky to have a friend like him! Yes, he is in love with her all his life and remains faithful to her even when she explicitly doesn’t return that love.  There are several characters like him in the book.  Through them I wanted to express that sometimes the people we most depend on are not our families but friends or maybe even strangers.

Book Group:  Beautiful.  Can you explain the meaning behind the title of the book?

Chitra:  The title relates to the visit Tara makes to the temple. But a more symbolic meaning is that we are all on a spiritual journey – to visit the goddess inside of us.  But before we can be in touch with our sacred selves at the deep level, we need to undergo some things and learn some lessons – compassion, forgiveness, etc.

Book Group:  So, do you have a sweet tooth and which is your favorite?

Chitra:  LOL.  Yes, I do have a sweet tooth!. Sweets are a traditional favorite in my part of India, Bengal.  Chocolate Sandesh is my favorite, just like Bela.  I have a really good recipe for it on my website, on my blog. In fact I have several recipes from the book on my blog.

Kathy:  I’ve been on the blog.  I need to find Paneer.

Chitra:  Life hack:  If you can’t find paneer, you can use ricotta cheese.  Strain it in a soft cloth so that some of the liquid comes out of it.

Kathy:  Thank you.  I’ll try that.

Book Group:  Any new books in the works?

Chitra:  I’m working on a novel which is a retelling of a famous Indian epic.  I’m retelling it from the point of view of one of the major female characters.

Book Group:  Very nice.  Thank you so much for chatting with us. We all enjoyed the book and the chat.

Chitra: Thank you for reading my book.  I hope you’re going to try some of the other ones. You can always keep in touch with me on my Facebook page or on Twitter as @cdivakaruni.  By for now.

___________________________END OF CHAT_____________________________________

You can order Before We Visit the Goddess at Amazon or check with your local independent bookstore or library.

Learn more about Chitra Divakaruni by visiting

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Getting Off On Frank Sinatra by Megan Edwards

When Copper Black finds out that her boyfriend's ex-wife is expecting his child, she really needs a  distraction.  Enter a house sitting opportunity at a notorious party house. She moves from her temporary housing in an apartment over her pastor brother's garage into the party house where a murder had supposedly taken place (the body was never found).  While house sitting, Copper must take care of the owner's tortoise, Oscar.

While working on a story about a performing arts school, Copper Black discovers the body of a much loved, charitable woman.  She must deal with a detective who seems to suspect her of the murder, the unraveling of her love life, the unwanted advances of a creepy guy, her estranged parents visiting, and help her brother with a scandal he is sort of involved in.

This was a well written book that really pulled me in and kept me wanting more. I was surprised to hear that this was Megan Edwards debut.  I am looking forward to her future writings.

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Thanks for reading.

The book is set to be released on March 14, 2017. Here is a link to the book on Amazon.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dorothy Must Die - Danielle Paige

Several friends have been telling me that I need to read Dorothy Must Die.  I knew it was based on the Frank L. Baum Wizard of Oz books and I just couldn’t see myself liking it.  I did, however, add it to my “to read” list.  Last week, I didn’t have anything that I really wanted to read, so….

Oh MY!!!!  What a crazy read!  If you are wondering what happened in Oz after “The Wizard of Oz” ended, here is the story.  After Dorothy went back to Kansas, she decided that she’d rather be in Oz. Somehow, she went back to Oz and took over the throne from Ozma and let power, and magic, go to her head.  All of Dorothy’s friends from the Wizard of Oz are still with her.  The Tinman is busy turning people into a tin army.  The Lion goes around sucking the fear out of Dorothy’s “enemies”.  The Scarecrow has basically become a mad scientist and is doing experiments on Dorothy’s subjects. Dorothy and Glinda the Good Witch are going around stealing all of the magic in Oz, because the only thing better than having magic is having ALL the magic.

Enter Amy Gumm, the grumpy teenager living in Kansas with her pill popping, drunk mother. A tornado, of course, brings Amy to Oz, where she is rescued by a boy named Pete.  Amy is caught by Dorothy and is about to meet a “fate worse than death”, when she is rescued by Mombi, a member of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. The group, which includes Gert, Mombi, Glamora – Ginda’s twin sister, and the warlock Nox, want to recruit Amy to assassinate Dorothy. Amy, eventually agrees, and is bound to Mombi by her promise to kill Dorothy.

Amy, disguised as Astrid, learns Dorothy and her minions’ routine and bides her time until she is able to attack.  During Dorothy’s, “just because she wants a party”, gala, Amy/Astrid has her chance when a smitten Tinman accidentally rips Dorothy’s dress.  Amy “poofs” Dorothy and herself out of the party to change her dress.  When Amy gets her alone, she tries to kill Dorothy and all H-E- double-hockey-stick, breaks loose.  Amy gets away – barely, and does manage to defeat ONE of Dorothy’s side-kicks.  I don’t want to spoil the book by giving away the ending.  Needless to say, the ending left me wanting more…and so, I downloaded the next book in the series, The Wicked Will Rise.

This series is considered Young Adult.  It is a little graphic and violent, so you won’t want to read it to the little ones.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Retired Witches series by Joyce and Jim Lavene

I first discovered Joyce and Jim Lavene’s books when I read A Touch of Gold from their Missing Pieces mysteries.  I hadn’t read any of their other series until after their untimely deaths.  When the Save Our Cozies Facebook group posted the idea for an online “book tour” to celebrate their posthumously published upcoming release, Putting on the Witch, I knew I had to be involved.
To prepare for the new book, I had to get my hands on the first two books in the series, Spell Booked and Looking for Mr. Good Witch. So, off to the Kindle store I went to download the books.

From the first sentence of Spell Booked, Candle flame burning bright, With your flame on this night, Trap the evil, seal it well, in this stone, make it remain. Never to be free again, I was hooked.

Olivia, Molly, and Elise realize that they are aging and their powers are waning. They are working to recruit younger witches to strengthen their coven so they may retire “to Boca”, when Olivia is murdered and their spell book goes missing.  It is up to Molly and Elise to figure out the culprit and get their spell book back. They need more than their waning magic powers to do so.  I really enjoyed this look into the everyday life of “normal” witches.

In Looking for Mr. Good Witch, Molly, Elise and Olivia’s ghost are up against a sea witch who is going up and down the coast of the Carolina’s in search of the perfect mate, leaving young male witches who don’t measure up, dead in her wake. With the help of a selkie (a mythical creature that resembles a seal while in the water and a human while on land) and a mermaid that loves crème puffs, they are determined to keep their friend Brian out of the sea witch’s clutches. The more I read this series the more I like the main characters. Molly and Elise are so interesting and the fact that Olivia’s ghost is involved is wonderful.

I saved the best for last…

Putting on the Witch was released on October 4, 2016.  I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy from NetGalley and the publisher, in return for my honest review.

The coven’s spell book is still missing. Molly, Elise, Olivia’s ghost and Dorothy are excited to be invited to the exclusive Witches Ball.  When a member of the Grand Council of Witches is murdered at the ball, the castle is on lock down.  The ladies, and Dorothy’s boyfriend Brian, are determined to figure out who did it, all while trying to hide Oliva’s ghost from the Grand Council of Witches.  Was it Dorothy under her father, Drago's influence?  Was it Drago? Was it another Council member?

I absolutely loved this series and I can’t believe that, along with Joyce and Jim, they are gone.  One can only imagine what other creative characters and worlds they would have come up with together.

If you want to learn more about Joyce and Jim Lavene and their writing, please visit their website.

For a list of their cozy mysteries, please go to Joyce and Jim Lavene's Cozy Mysteries.

Thanks for reading

This blog post is part of the Putting on the Witch Great Escapes Book Tour.  You can see more about the book tour HERE.  To participate in the rafflecopter giveaway go HERE.

Friday, October 7, 2016

2016 Goodreads Reading Challenge

Each year, I join in on the Goodreads Reading Challenge.  

I recently hit my goal of reading 80 books during 2016.  I have read 86 books from 1/1/16 to 10/7/16. And I’m wondering why I’m so tired!!!  I must say that I’ve even impressed myself.  I had actually started out trying to read a book each month by an author I’ve avoided.  I made it through several months before I gave up.  Some of those books are on this list.  Here is the list of the varied and interesting books that I have read, so far, during 2016.

1.           365 Days of Clean Eating Recipes - Emma Katie
2.           A Shadow from Within – C.A. Eroh
3.           A Tine to Live, A Tine – Edith Maxwell
4.           Apocolypsis – Elle Casey
5.           Becoming Human -  Eliza Green
6.           Best Boy – Eli Gottleib
7.           Bitter is the New Black – Jen Lancaster
8.           Britt-Marie Was Here – Frederick Blackman
9.           Brooklyn – Colm Toibin
10.       Buffalo Jump Blues – Keith McCafferty
11.       Butterfly Boy – Mary Hiker
12.       Cappucinos, Cupcakes, and a Corpse – Harper Lin
13.       Cavendon Hall – Barbara Taylor Bradford
14.       Cavendon Luck – Barbara Taylor Bradford
15.       Cavendon Women – Barbara Taylor Bradford
16.       Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Gailbraith
17.       Curious Minds – Janet Evanovich and Phoef Sutton
18.       Dad is Fat – Jim Gaffigan
19.       Don’t You Cry – Mary Kubica
20.       Echo – Pam Munoz Ryan
21.       Eight Hundred Grapes – Laura Dave
22.       EMP – Orion Enzo Gaudio
23.       Farmhouse Rules – Nancy Fuller
24.       Feather Brained – Bob Tarte
25.       Feta Attraction – Suzannah Hardy
26.       Food, Gift, Love – Maggie Battista
27.       Ghost in the Polka Dot Bikini – Sue Ann Jaffarian
28.       Going Home – A. American
29.       Granny Dan – Danielle Steele
30.       Hidden Bodies – Caroline Kepnes
31.       Hood – Evan Pickering
32.       Into the Mist – Lee Murray
33.       Kinesiology Taping: Your Guide to the Best Methods and Techniques – Alex Karr
34.       Looking for Mr. Good Witch – Joyce and Jim Lavene
35.       Misty Manor – Linda Rawlins
36.       Murder by the Pint – Belle Knudson
37.       Murder to Go - Chloe Kendrick
38.       Nightfall – Roger Hardin
39.       Ordinary Grace – William Kent Krueger
40.       Oryx and the Crake – Margaret Atwood
41.       Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads
42.       Pinterest for Dummies – Kelby Carr
43.       Private – James Patterson
44.       Putting on the Witch – Joyce and Jim Lavene
45.       Reinventing Mona – Jennifer Coburn
46.       Rhythm & Clues – Sue Ann Jaffarian
47.       Spell Booked - Joyce and Jim Lavene
48.       Superfood Salads – Alissa noel Grey
49.       Thank you for Not Smoking – Christopher Buckley
50.       That Night – Chevy Stevens
51.       The Age of Daredevils – Michael Clarkson
52.       The Age of Reinvention – Karine Tuil
53.       The All Together Unexpected Disappearance of Atticus Craftsman – Mamen Sanchez
54.       The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
55.       The Beach House – Mary Alice Monroe
56.       The Bette Davis Club – Jane Lotter
57.       The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper - Phaedra Patrick
58.       The Girl From the Sea – Shalini Boland
59.       The Girl You Lost – Kathryn Croft
60.       The Goldfinch – Donna Tarte
61.       The Guest Room – Chris Bohjalian
62.       The Jane Austin Book Club – Karen Joy Fowler
63.       The Korean Word for Butterfly – James Zerndt
64.       The Last Girl – Joe Hart
65.       The Last Librarian – Brandt Legg
66.       The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah
67.       The Passenger – Lisa Lutz
68.       The Plan Cookbook – Lyn-Genet Recitas
69.       The Prince of Tides – Pat Conroy
70.       The Question of the Felonious Friend - E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
71.       The Question of the Missing Head - E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
72.       The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband - E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
73.       The Rejected Writers Book Club – Suzanne Kelman
74.       The Secret History – Donna Tarte
75.       The Sisters of St. Croix – Diney Casteloe
76.       The Water Knife – Paulo Bacigalupi
77.       The Witch of Painted Sorrows – M.J. Rose
78.       The Woman With a Secret – Sophie Hannah
79.       Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher
80.       Truly Madly Guilty – Liane Moriarty
81.       Tucker – Louis L’Amour
82.       Vinegar Girl – Anne Tyler
83.       Watching Edie – Camilla Way
84.       What to Eat – Marion Nestle
85.       Woof – Spencer Quinn
86.       Zoo – James Patterson

I think I just might make 100 books for 2016.  Do you have any recommendations?

Thanks for reading...

Paying it forward

At the library where I work, the Summer Reading theme is Build a Better World.  Our adult programs are build around Pay It Forward, the book...