First of all, let me just say that mystery is not my favorite genre, especially murder mysteries: I tend to find them dark, depressing, or gory. The B...moreFirst of all, let me just say that mystery is not my favorite genre, especially murder mysteries: I tend to find them dark, depressing, or gory. The Black Garden, however, is none of these things. Author, Joe Bright, has done an expert job of weaving a realistic story with heavy themes and rife with tragedy, yet which still leaves you with a light feeling, and the hope that there is true goodness in mankind.
In The Black Garden university student and aspiring writer, Mitchell Sanders, accepts a job in a small Vermont town. His plan is to spend his days doing the work he was hired for—cleaning years of junk from an old Victorian house—and use his free time to finish his masterpiece of a novel. Leaving behind an ex-fiancé, and the drama he left to escape, he looks forward to the peace and uncomplicated friendliness of small town life.
However, this dream doesn’t last long. As he gets to know his employer, the ornery George O’Brien, and George’s granddaughter, the beautiful but reclusive, Candice; he finds himself pulled into the mystery which surrounds their lives. Why does the whole town seem to despise them? Why do they never leave the house or have any interaction with other people?
Mitch’s lifelong resolve to stay uninvolved and avoid conflict is compromised as he learns more about the O’Brien’s, and is able to see beyond George’s crusty exterior, and Candice’s aloof façade. As he begins to let them into his heart, he finds himself desiring to change their lives for the better. Yet this is harder than he had anticipated, since George has done such a good job of alienating everyone, so: “I did what any unethical, good-intentioned man would have done: I lied.” His efforts begin to pay off, but as his work on the house continues, events from the past are stirred up, and Mitchell finds the indirect effects of his actions threatening the happiness of the very people he is trying to help.
Joe Bright has managed to perfectly blend a large variety of elements to produce a very satisfying read: The dialog is witty and crisp, flowing effortlessly. The prose is beautiful and descriptive, and yet non-effusive; each word obviously carefully chosen. The characters are well developed, and lovable, even with their glaring faults. Humor is a major player in the novel: from joking between characters, to laugh-out-loud hilarious events. Read the rest of my review at: http://bookthoughtsbylisa.blogspot.co...(less)
Dr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook contains on overview of his diet, and general, useful information on healthy eating. The rest of the book us fu...moreDr. Gott's No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook contains on overview of his diet, and general, useful information on healthy eating. The rest of the book us full of recipes of all sorts without any flours or sugars. For a sugar substitute in this book he regularly uses Splenda (which I prefer not to use, but know many people swear by). Some tasty sounding alternatives of favorites that usually use flour include the Chicken Pot Pie with hash browns as a crust. With these recipes I can see how you would not even miss the flour or sugar(less)
There are so many diets out there. Some are so detailed and restrictive that they are almost impossible to follow because it takes so much time and pl...moreThere are so many diets out there. Some are so detailed and restrictive that they are almost impossible to follow because it takes so much time and planning just to figure out what you are able to eat. Some diets entirely cut out whole categories of food, leaving you with an unhealthy, unbalanced eating plan. Dr. Gott's diet does neither of these things. It is very simple, all you have to remember is four words, "No, flour, No, sugar". The only things that are cut out are flour and sugar, both of which only provide you with empty calories, no nutritional benefits.
Dr. Gott claims that just by cutting out flours and sugars you will be able to loose the recommended 1 to 2 pounds a week. True, on some fad or crash diets, you may loose more quickly that this, but most of the time this is done by a method that cannot be sustained, and then the pounds are gained back when you eventually cave. While meat and dairy products are allowed, Dr. Gott suggests, for optimal health, staying with low-fat varieties.
I found a good deal of useful information in the book on diet and health in general, such as: the correct balance of protein, carbs, and fats, and a simple way of counter-secting your dinner plate to make sure you have the correct balance; weight loss methods which should be avoided; how the use of the diet may affect you if you suffer from specific medical conditions; how to calculate your BMI, and estimate a good goal weight; and how to read food labels.
The last half of the book is full of recipes, and a meal plan to help you get started on this diet. The recipes look tasty and fairly simple. Dr. Gott is obviously a very knowledgeable and experienced man, and I felt he was able to impart this knowledge in an accessible way. The one thing I don't agree with him on is the use of artificial sweeteners, but I know that there are millions of people who regularly use these, and have no problem with it. Overall I think that this would be a simple and fairly healthy diet to follow. I personally cut out sugar in November, and with regular exercise, and a healthier diet, have managed to lose 35 lbs, so I know this can work. (less)
I read and loved Rebecca as a teenager, and am unsure why I never sought out any of the other novels by the author, but after reading this book I wil...more I read and loved Rebecca as a teenager, and am unsure why I never sought out any of the other novels by the author, but after reading this book I will be sure to do so. I am so glad that Sourcebooks is reprinting this, and hope that it can find its way to many other people who have missed it, as I have.
On the rare occasion I have the experience where book and mood meet perfectly. This happened with Frenchman's Creek, a book I am sure that I would have very much enjoyed no matter my mood, but which was exactly the book I was seeking at the time I read it. The wild, windy March days--with looming storm, and gathering clouds, the brief hours of sunshine tempered by drops of ice cold rain, and mud-causing snow--have left me restless and wild myself, longing for escape. And so enter Dona St. Columb, the beautiful but restless Lady, tired of London high society, longing for escape from the falsity and uselessness of her life. After a foolish escapade, and stupid flirtation, she sets off, with her two young children and their nurse, to her husband's country estate surrounded by forest river and ocean. All she wants is to find some solitude and peace--far away from the stench of the stifling London summer, and a husband who can not understand her.
"Forget the children's tears, forget Prue's grievance, forget the pursed up mouth of the coachman, forget Harry and his troubled distressed blue eyes when she announced her decision. "But damn, Dona, what have I done, what have I said, don't you know that I adore you?" Forget all these things, because this was freedom, to stand here for one minute with her face to the sun and the wind, this was living, to smile and to be alone."
The descriptions of the nature and life teeming around the estate--the birds and butterflies, wildflowers and trees, creeks and ocean--bringing joy and peace to Dona and her children, are so well done that I feel as if I were there, in the Cornish countryside. I am transported away from the cold wind, the six inches of March snow I shoveled off of the walks this morning, the snow which keeps coming and will necessitate another shoveling in a few short hours. Instead I drowse lazily, being baked by the sun; I tramp through the thick woods; I stand above the ocean, the salty breeze enlivening me.
"The birds were astir again, after their noonday silence, and the silent butterflies danced and fluttered, while drowsy bumblebees hummed in the warm air, winging their way to the topmost branches of the trees... and there, suddenly before her for the first time was the creek, still and soundless, shrouded by the trees, hidden from the eyes of men. She stared at it in wonder, for she had had no knowledge of its existence, this stealthy branch of the parent river creeping into her own property, so sheltered, so concealed by the woods themselves. The tide was ebbing, the water was oozing away from the mudflats, and here, where she stood, was the head of the creek itself, for the stream ended in a trickle, and the trickle in a spring. The creek twisted around a belt of trees, and she began to walk along the bank, happy, fascinated, forgetting her mission, for this discovery was a pleasure quite unexpected, this creek was a source of enchantment, a new escape, better than Navron itself, a place to drowse and sleep, a lotus-land."
Her stodgy neighbor had warned her about pirates, who have been robbing from the estates up and down the coast, and reportedly having their way with the womenfolk. Their leader a dangerous frenchman, so stealthy and with a ship so fast that he has not been aprehended. Dona had listened to the reports with some amusement, but really paid them no mind until she caught sight of the ship in the creek on her land, and at the same time found herself covered with a coat, and forced onto the pirate ship.What she finds there astounds her, there is no sign of the steriotypical pirate, but an educated, tidy, considerate artist. And beyond the peace which she had sought and found, Dona finds the adventure and passion her spirit had been seeking, and someone who understands.
"...she had known then that this was to happen, nothing could prevent it; she was part of his body, and part of his mind, they belonged to eachother, both wanderers, both fugitives, cast in the same mould."
Danger, excitement, love, a meeting of souls, Lady St. Columb has found it all. Unfortunately she can not keep it all, something must be given up: her children and husband and very way of life, or the new love and adventure which she so craved. Yet events transpire that make it not even such a cut and dried choice as this.
Anyone who has ever felt the need to escape from the cage of daily life will identify with and love this book. It has found its way into my heart, and will be added to the stack of favorites I pull out when I feel in the right restless mood, and need a satisfying read.
Castle in the Mist is the second installment of the Planet of the Dogs Series. While it is enjoyable to read it after having read Planet of the Dogs,...moreCastle in the Mist is the second installment of the Planet of the Dogs Series. While it is enjoyable to read it after having read Planet of the Dogs, the first book in the series, it can also stand on its own. In Planet of the Dogs the dogs come to the earth for the first time, in order to save the people of Green Valley from invaders from Stone City. The dogs were successful, and the Stone City Warriors have been living peacefully for over a year, with dogs of their own, when Castle in the Mist begins.
The dogs are once more alerted to trouble on earth. Nik and Nikki, the children of the Stone City Warrior leader, Bif, have been kidnapped. Prince Ukko, leader of the Black Hawk Tribe, who has invaded and taken residence in the Castle of the forest people, is unhappy that the Stone City Warriors have turned to peace. He is afraid that the peace will spread, and the lifestyle of himself and his army will be in danger. When Bif refuses his request for one hundred horses and two dogs, he has Bifs children kidnapped and held for ransom.
Having so recently brought peace to the earth, the dogs are afraid that it will now be taken away. Bifs anger and desire for revenge is great, and he will stop at nothing to recover his children. Can the dogs resolve the situation before war brakes out? Can Prince Ukko's hard, black heart be softened?
Castle in the Mist is full of the same elements I enjoyed in Planet of the Dogs and Snow Valley Heroes: beautiful, detailed, soft, mood setting drawings; the fun and antics of the dogs, and the people who are discovering them for the first time; encroaching danger and suspense; the lovely fantasy of a planet of dogs who are so concerned with the people of earth; and the forgiveness, unconditional love and loyalty that the dogs are able to subtly impart.