Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review: The Help

A delightful read. Kathryn Stocket, in her debut novel, The Help, captured the voice of three completely different women living in Mississipi in the early 60's almost to the point of artistry. I was immediately drawn into their story; mesmerized by the author's ability to take me back to a time and place where segregation was a way of life, painting a picture of how both sides saw the issue of color in the deep south at the dawn of the equal rights movement.
Skeeter had just returned home to Jackson after graduating from college. Her mom wants her to get married, but Skeeter knews she was no beauty queen. She turned to her writing for solace. She comes up with an idea for a book. A New York editor is interested, but it will entail involving several black maids to "tell all" about the white people they work for. And that could be dangerous for everyone, Skeeter included.
Though the ending was not as satisfying as I would have liked, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and found it hard to put down, at least the first 7/8 of the story. It will have you furious, laughing, holding your breath, or wagging your head in disbelief that such prejudice really existed, but I think you'll love it. (Perhaps the ending will even have enough closure for you).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Homemade Salsa from Homegrown Tomatoes

For September' Mid-Month Make-something I would like to share with my readers my homemade salsa recipe. It's really easy to make  and so tasty (at least my family tells me this) that you can sit down and eat an entire batch in one sitting (if you're hungry). As with everything, this recipe is definitely best when made with fresh tomatoes, peppers and onions from your garden--hence the reason for sharing it at this time of year.


5 medium to large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium to large onion, finely chopped
1 medium to large sweet green pepper, finely chopped
1/4 to a whole Anaheim pepper, finely chopped or grated
1 teaspoon garlic, minced or pressed (about 3 to 4 cloves)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Mix together and serve.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Book Review and Launch: The Clockwork Three

If you've got a middle-grade reader, or you just like a light-hearted fun read for yourself, you'll want to get this book. In fact, a good time and place to pick up a copy would be at Matt Kirby's book launch for his debut novel, entitled: The Clockwork Three. It will be held at the Kings English independent book store, Thursday, September 30 from 6:00pm until closing. I tell you these things, not just because Matt is a good friend of mine, but because he is an awesome writer and it will really be worth your while to meet him and get hold of a copy of his first book.
I wrote a review for this book last February when I first read it. Matt noticed it on his blog feed and told me that I needed to remove it from my blog, as Scholastic was not allowing any publicity for the book yet. I have saved that review and will pass it on to you now:

Oh, my gosh! I just finished the most awesome book. If you like Y.A/middle grade fiction, this is a must-read. In The Clockwork Three, the author Matthew Kirby masterfully weaves metaphor, simile and poetic-like imagery into a fast paced multifaceted plot to create a story that is hard to set down. It almost felt like I was reading literary fiction with the wonderful images Kirby painted in my mind. But the fun, loveable characters, with their creative dilemmas and naturally occurring tension, made the book read like commercial fiction.

The story takes place in pre-electricity early America. Guiseppe, a young boy living in an Oliver Twist scenario, finds a magical green violin. Hannah is a young girl having to work in a fancy motel as a maid to help pay the bills for his invalid father and gets caught up searching for a hidden treasure. Frederic is an apprentice clockmaker who has a painful past as an orphan and buries his pain by creating a clockwork man (something like a robot). Their stories start out separate at first, but cleverly intertwine as each of their stories unfold. Each finds they need the help of the others to overcome their problems, making you love each of the characters even more.

Though this is a story written for children, it is a story that will entertain all ages. As a writer of children's stories, I found it not only delightful, but inspirational in its writing style, a style that beckons me to mimic it--if only I could.

Unfortunately, you can't run out to your local bookstore and buy The Clockwork Three--at least not right now. Its release date is not until 10/01/10. The author, Matthew Kirby is a member of my awesome critique group. Last Tuesday he brought an ARC to show us--his editor had over-nighted him a few copies to distribute. I was lucky enough to have first shot at the copy he had to share with our critique group, (he only had one for the five of use, so we'll have to take turns). But mark your calendar and put it on your list to read the first of October. You won't be sorry.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Class Reunion and Counting Blessings

Last night I attended the 35 year high school reunion for Payson High School. As always, I had a delightful evening reminissing with old friends and having them share with me events of their present life. I was saddened by the mention of dear friends who have passed away, and another friend who has terminal cancer. Life is fragile. All the more reason to cherish every minute of it and count your blessings--which I did last night as I drove home from southern Utah county back to Kaysville. Amid intonations of loss of health, loss of spouse, and loss of jobs, my appreciation for my own life intensified. But what also intensified was  my love and concern for this group of people who have always held a special place in my heart. I loved my years at Payson High, the warmth and welcome I felt there and the myriad of friends I made. What makes those experiences even more dear is the welcome that I still feel 35 years later. Everyone there seemed genuinely glad to see me, giving me hugs and sincere smiles. As we were encouraged to sit down to eat, I glanced around at the various tables filling fast with people, I realized that I wanted to sit at every table. There was not a table there that I would not have delighted with its company and felt at ease and welcomed. It was hard to choose, so I sat at the one closest to me at the moment. Thank you, Karen, Kari, Rod and Gary for letting me sit with you. And thank you, Payson High School class of 1975 for being another bright spot in my life. Give yourself a hug for me. Life is good!