Happy Birthday, Betty MacDonald!

image-of-egg-and-i-book-cover-courtesy-of-pat-sum.jpgEvery so often history offers us a chance to revisit a good book. This March is the centennial of the birth of Betty MacDonald, author of The Egg and I (1945) which is a memoir of life on a “chicken ranch” on the Olympic peninsula near Chimacum from 1927-1931. Betty observed the very rural and undeveloped farmland and forest and commented on the facts about farm living. Her large cast iron cookstove which she nicknamed “Stove” was a constant source of frustration for her; baby chicks seemed to be self-destructive; her neighbors throw-backs from evolutionary development of the species. She wrote the book after her divorce and she had remarried and moved to Vashon Island. Here’s a sample:

“By one o’clock on winter Sundays the house was shining clean, my hair was washed, Bob had on clean clothes and dinner was ready. Usually, just as we sat down to the table, as if by prearranged signal, the sun came out. True it shone with about as much warmth and lust as a Victorian spinster and kept darting behind clouds as if it were looking for its knitting and sticking hits head out again with an apologetic smile, but it was sun and not rain. The mountains, either in recognition of the sun or Sunday, would have their great white busts exposed and I expected momentarily to have them clear their throats and start singing Rock of Ages in throaty contraltos.”

                                                                   ~ The Egg and I. p. 77 Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Betty MacDonald!”

The New Gothics: less romance, more horror

the-keep-by-jennifer-egan.jpgPopular in the 1970s, gothic romance was defined by Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca: dark and stormy night, castle or manor house with frightened fleeing maiden in a nightgown on the book cover. Other popular authors in this genre included Anya Seton, Phyllis Whitney, Dorothy Eden and Victoria Holt. For the past two decades, fewer gothics have been written —until now. The new gothics are similar to the old ones — with less romance and more horror.

The River Wife by Jonis Agee
In 1930, when she arrives in the remote Missouri boot heel, the newest DuCharme wife, young Hedi, discovers a legacy of piracy, illicit love, murder and deceit and faces her own trials when it seems her new husband is carrying on the family tradition. Continue reading “The New Gothics: less romance, more horror”

Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Children’s Book Blogs

Planet Esme BlogHave you ever wondered how to keep up with the thousands of children’s books that are published in a year? Have you always wanted to be able to know more about a book than what you can look through at a bookstore or read the reviews about on amazon.com? Well, here are a few blogs about children’s books that can start you on your way. Check them out, find the ones you like best and if you look back at them every now and then you’ll be able to keep up with and enjoy the wonderful world of children’s books. Here are my five favorites. ~ Mary

Planet Esme
Esme Codell is a children’s book author who describes herself as a “professional readiologist.” Her blog is at the very top of my list of sites to check daily.

Bees Knees Reads
Written by sisters Kim Baise and Nancy Arruda (publisher of Bees Knees Books), who are also mothers of young children and children’s book authors.

Black Threads in Kid’s Lit: Exploring African American Picture Books and other Fanciful Topics
Written by author and quilter Kira E. Hicks.

Book Buds
Written by Anne Boles Levy, author and mother of a young child. She just wants to share what’s new in children’s literature.

Just One More Book
Just One More Book is a thrice-weekly podcast which promotes and celebrates literacy and great children’s books.

Book Review: Moonshine by Rob Thurman

moonshine-by-rob-thurman.jpgWhen good girl psychic Georgina King goes missing in Moonshine by Rob Thurman, it’s up to Cal and Niko Leandros to bring her home. Using wits, wiles and blunt force trauma, the guys manage to infiltrate the werewolf mafia and locate the one treasure that can save the girl. If you like gallows humor, don’t mind a little gore, and hate clowns, this is the book for you. Don’t miss the first in the series, Nightlife, a story about brotherly love, otherworldly monsters and the occasional knife to the guts.      

Happy Birthday, Doris!

Century GirlA friend told me about the book Century Girl: 100 years in the life of Doris Eaton Travis, last living star of the Ziegfeld Follies, by Lauren Redniss, a mind-blowingly original and unique illustrated biography of Doris Eaton.  I love this book so much for all its cultural cross referencing and magnificent handwritten text, memorabilia and photo montages.  It discusses the social and cultural movements that shaped her career from the age of fourteen when she became the youngest chorus girl to ever join the Follies.  She interacted with so many stars and famous people, you’ll hardly believe it’s possible!  It would take 10 lifetimes for most people to accomplish what she was able to do in just one: “from receiving her honorary doctorate at age 101, she starred in silent and talking pictures, performing for presidents and princesses, bantered with Babe Ruth, offended Henry Ford, outlived six siblings, wrote a newspaper column, hosted a tv show, earned a Phi Beta Kappa degree in history (at 88), raised turkeys, and raced horses. And that’s just for starters.”– from the title page.  I can’t say enough wonderful things about this one-of-a-kind book–by far the best I’ve read in a long time.   March 14th is her 104th birthday—Happy Birthday Doris!

~ Amy