Monday, May 28, 2018

Green Dolphin Street (Book Review) #1944Club

The 1944 Club is a theme in which two prolific bloggers, Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggsy's Bookish Ramblings, promote a specific year of published books. Anyone can join in by reading and reviewing a book published in 1944 and adding a link to that book's review in the comments on Simon's blog. 1968 1951 and 1977 have also been promoted recently.   
Title: Green Dolphin Street
Author: Elizabeth Goudge (pronounced Goozh, per the dust jacket)
Publication: Hardcover, 1944
Genre: Historical Fiction

Plot: Set on the remote English Channel Isle of Guernsey, in the town of St. Pierre, in the mid-19th century, Green Dolphin Street is the story of two unusual sisters, Marianne and Marguerite, and William Ozanne, the neighbor both love.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Monday, May 21, 2018

Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don't Do Bedtime (Book Review)

Title: Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime
Author: Cate Berry
Illustrator: Charles Santoso
Publication: Hardcover, Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins, May 2018
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Plot: Penguin and Tiny Shrimp DO NOT have a bedtime story to share with you.

There are no soft beds or cozy covers here. There are fireworks! And shark-infested waters!!

This book will never make you sleepy. Not at all. Not even a little. . .

Enjoy their adventures while they avoid bedtime!

Audience: Toddlers – and their bedtime story readers! Fans of my favorite, Bedtime for Frances.

My Impressions: As the aunt of eight children who never want to go to bed, I found this book very charming. It begins with Penguin in PJs and Tiny Shrimp sporting a night cap but they make it clear they are not interested in bedtime. And yet, when they say there is nothing in this book about big soft beds or super-squishy pillows . . . then they test out the bed and exclaim, “Ohhhhhh, squishy pillows.” I must say, this was my favorite line in the book – every night I procrastinate about going to bed (sometimes doing quite valid things like cleaning bathrooms) but when I slide into bed it is so delicious that I wonder why I waited until 1 am to do so!

This is a debut picture book, full of humor that will appeal to the reader and the child, from the talented duo of Berry and Santoso. The quirky illustrations perfectly complement the text. I don’t understand how the Penguin and Tiny Shrimp became friends so would have liked a little more story but maybe we’ll find out in the future - I hope this will be a series and they will have more adventures in the future. In the meantime, the book would be a great gift for a baby shower or a preschooler in your life.

Purchase LinksHarperCollins * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound * Amazon

Author: Watch author Cate Berry read this book aloud. Visit her at to learn more about her. You can follow her on Twitter, @cberrywriter. You can also follow illustrator Charles Santoso: @minitreehouse and the publisher, @balzer+bray and @harperchildrens.
Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes. You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews by clicking below:

Tour Stops

Tuesday, May 8th: Instagram: @jackiereadsbooks
Tuesday, May 15th: Wining Wife
Thursday, May 17th: Time 2 Read
Friday, May 18th: Instagram: @thepagesinbetween
Tuesday, May 22nd: Instagram: @_literary_dreamer_
Wednesday, May 23rd: Instagram: @theliteraryllama
* Image above copyright to HarperCollins

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

England 2018, Day 12

There was about half a day left – just enough time for one last excursion!  First, we had tea and chocolate chip muffins for breakfast in our room, and checked our luggage with the extremely attentive staff. Then we strolled to the Gloucester Road tube and zipped down to Westminster. Ironically enough, it was a beautiful sunny day just as we were about to leave London.
This time we were armed with tickets as we approached the Churchill War Rooms. Two queues were already in place: one for people just hoping to get in and one for people with tickets. I guided Mother into the former and I moved into the ticket line, asking the friendly guard if I could be at the front so we could enter promptly at 11, our appointed time, or if he thought Mother might get there first. She was afraid I was going to make a fuss but I was just getting the lay of the land. He asked if I was in a hurry and I told him we were flying home that afternoon and, to my surprise, he said we could go right in. Hooray!
The civilian secretarial staff also signed the Official Secrets Act
The Churchill War Rooms were an underground bunker near Parliament where Churchill and his war cabinet were able to work during WWII without the distraction of bombing. The war rooms were opened to the public in 1984, almost exactly as they had been left at the end of WWII (one officer had left his sugar ration behind in his desk, not expected he wouldn’t return). In 2005, other nearby rooms were expensively turned into a museum honoring Churchill’s entire life. Two of the best anecdotes: that Churchill accidentally had his private secretary invite Irving Berlin to lunch at Chartwell, his country home in Kent, having confused him with a philosopher named Isaiah Berlin; and that he invited Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier to Chartwell on another occasion and was so taken with Vivien that he gave her one of his paintings, an unusual circumstance.
Perhaps my favorite part of the War Rooms were interactive displays featuring commentary from the young women who did the secretarial work for the officers. As you may recall, I have always been fascinated by women and war work (although it is annoying to think how much more they could have done if given the chance!). It was amazing to see the rooms in which everyone worked and basically lived, sneaking in and out so the Germans couldn’t target it for air raids (although wouldn’t they have been aiming for Parliament and Westminster anyway?), and smoking all the time with no ventilation.  Two of the rooms were of great significance: the Cabinet Room which in May 1940 Churchill decided he would use to direct the war, and the Map Room where every move of the British Army, Navy, Air Force was tracked and reports were prepared for the King, the Prime Minister, and Chiefs of Staff. We learned that although many spent the nights underground, Churchill only did so a very few times because he liked to take two baths a day and preferred his own bathtub!
Churchill's office/bedroom with chamber pot!

Is it really Big Ben under there?
For those interested in the period, I recommend Citizens of London: The Americans Who Stood with Britain in Its Darkest, Finest Hour by Lynne Olson, my favorite nonfiction in years.   About 12:30 I tore myself away (allowing myself to buy a mug on my way out at the appealing gift shop).  The weather was by now warm and sparkling and Green Park was full of happy Londoners. We walked around the block and saw Big Ben covered with scaffolding, completely unrecognizable. I didn’t want to go but we returned to Hotel Xenia for our luggage, headed down Hogarth Road to the Earls Court tube station, then to Heathrow for our 5 pm flight home.

Goodbye, London, we’ll be back!
Re the Abdication - "Why shouldn't the King be allowed to marry his cutie?"

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Same Beach, Next Year (Book Review)

Title: Same Beach, Next Year
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank
Publication: William Morrow, Trade Paperback, April 2018 (originally published 2017)
Genre: Fiction
Plot: New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank returns to the Lowcountry of South Carolina in a warm story of marriage, love, family, and friendship that is infused with humor.

One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.  A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.

Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl look forward to their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.

Full of the richness of Dorothea Benton Frank’s appealing Lowcountry—the sunshine, cool ocean breezes, icy cocktails, and velvet skies—Same Beach, Next Year is a celebration of the infrangible power of friendship, the enduring promise of summer, and the indelible bonds of love.

Purchase Links: HarperCollins * Amazon * Barnes & Noble * IndieBound

Audience: Readers who enjoy Luanne Rice, Nancy Thayer, Mary Kay Andrews, and Barbara Delinsky will like this book, made for summer or beach reading.
Interior of Saint Spyridon, Corfu
My Impressions: Dorothea Benton Frank is a New York Times bestselling author and has a big following but I had not read her myself until her recent All Summer Long.  I liked this book much more.  The author’s descriptions of food were especially enticing!  It has the appealing Lowcountry setting (how did I spend two years at Duke without exploring this part of the world?) and a character-driven feel-good story that makes you want to know what happens next.  The pace was perhaps a little too relaxing and lulled the reader into thinking little was happening, which is not the case, but I think the author was trying to show the passage of time as she follows two couples and their families for 20 years.

The most moving moment of the story occurs when Eliza visits Corfu, a place I have always found fascinating (maybe it's time to plan my next trip - no, I need to unpack from England first).  After her mother died when Eliza was 11, she lost touch with that side of her family and I found myself almost tearful when she is reunited with her mother’s sister. Eliza also visits the shrine of Saint Spyridon in a 16th century church in Corfu which reminded me of one of my favorite Mary Stewarts, This Rough Magic.   Her heroine, Lucy Waring, is staying with her sister on Corfu and also is affected by Saint Spyridon.  Stewart wrote:

The Holy Reliquary of Saint Spyridon, Corfu
"Palm Sunday . . . is one of the four occasions in the year when the island Saint, Spiridion, is brought out of the church where he lies the year round in a dim shrine all smoky with taperlight, and is carried through the streets in his golden palanquin.  It is not an image of the Saint, but his actual mummified body, which is carried in the procession, and this, somehow, makes him a very personal and homely kind of patron saint to have: the islanders believe he has Corfu and all its people in his personal and benevolent care, and has nothing to do but concern himself deeply in all their affairs, however trivial…”

When Eliza touches the Saint’s foot, she feels a sense of benediction (well, she is not religious so compares it to LSD), showing Saint Spyridon is still a powerful presence both in Corfu and closer to home.  Interestingly, there are two Greek Orthodox churches named for St. Spyridon near me, a cathedral in Worcester, MA and one in Newport, RI.  
Source: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher and TLC Book Tours for review purposes. You can visit other stops on the tour and read the reviews by clicking below:

Review Stops
Tuesday, April 24th: A Soccer Mom’s Book Blog
Wednesday, April 25th: The Book Date
Thursday, April 26th: The Geeky Bibliophile
Friday, April 27th: Books and Bindings
Monday, April 30th: Instagram: @prose_and_palate
Tuesday, May 1st: Instagram: @booeneticsThursday, May 3rd: Time 2 Read
Monday, May 7th: Wining Wife
Tuesday, May 8: Jessicamap Reviews
Wednesday, May 9th: Bibliotica
Thursday, May 10th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, May 14th: bookchickdi
Tuesday, May 15th: Instagram: @Novelmombooks
Wednesday, May 16th: Broken Teepee
Thursday, May 17th: Always With a Book