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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Summertime Garden Projects

            Now is the time to spruce up the yard and create an outdoor oasis for your enjoyment. Here are some books to help you reach that goal.

            The Gardener’s Guide to Weather and Climate, written by Michael Allaby, will help you understand how the weather (daily changing set of conditions) and climate (long-term weather averages) affect your garden and the successes and failures of its plants. Methods of protecting against harsh conditions also are given. Color photos and a glossary are provided.

            Gardening for Birds, Butterflies, and Bees: Everything You Need to Know to Create a Wildlife Habitat is presented by the editors of Birds & Blooms magazine and published by Reader’s Digest. Information is given on what annuals, perennials, grasses and vines, and trees and shrubs will attract wildlife to your yard. This is followed by information on the 70 bird species and 35 butterfly species you might see in your garden. Color photos and an index are provided.

            How to Mulch: Save Water, Feed the Soil, and Suppress Weeds is written by Stu Campbell. He explains how mulching, done correctly, can be beneficial for your vegetables, fruits, and flowers, and what types of mulch (wood chip, plastic sheets, living mulches, etc.) are best for each.  

            Therapeutic Gardens: Design for Healing Spaces is written by Daniel Winterbottom, a landscape architect, and Amy Wagenfeld, an occupational therapist. They provide ideas and designs for gardens promoting movement and physical rehabilitation, those for solace and comfort, those for promoting learning and sensory activities, and more. References, color photos, and an index support the information within the book.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Authors Born in June

           Which current authors were born in June? Perhaps some that you are familiar with, or those whose books you have never read.

            Patricia Cornwell, born on June 9, 1956, is a writer of mystery/thriller novels. Her most famous series of books features medical examiner and forensic anthropologist Dr. Kay Scarpetta; the series originated in 1990 and continues today. Cornwell also has a series of three books featuring Trooper Andy Brazil and Superintendent Judy Hammer.

            Joyce Carol Oates was born on June 16, 1938. Considered a literary writer, her novels contain elements of psychological suspense and horror. Recent fiction includes The Doll-Master and other Tales of Terror, and The Man without a Shadow. Recent non-fiction includes The Lost Landscape: a Writer’s Coming of Age (2015), an account of Oates’ childhood, and A Widow’s Story (2011), describing her life after her husband passes away.

            Gail Godwin, born on June 18, 1937, is a novelist and short story writer. She started her career as a journalist before changing over. Her subject matter focused on women and their roles in society and relationships between women and men. Her books were written during the seventies, eighties and nineties. Most recently she has written Unfinished Desires (2009), a novel and Publishing: A Writer’s Memoir (2015).

            Salman Rushdie was born on June 19, 1947, in Bombay (then British India). He is a novelist, writer of short stories, and essayist who has won several literary awards. Most Americans are familiar with him because of his book The Satanic Verses, published in 1988. The book was banned in several Islamic countries because it contained a disrespectful portrayal of Mohammed, and a fatwa (order of execution) was proclaimed against him by the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.  

            Ian McEwan was born on June 21, 1948, in England. He is a novelist, most recent books being The Children Act (2014) and Sweet Tooth (2012). He also is a screenwriter for such movies as Atonement, The Good Son, Enduring Love, and more. He has won the Man Booker Award, and other prizes.


Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Eligible: A Novel

            Billed as “a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice”, this contemporary version of Austen’s classic novel is written by Curtis Sittenfeld. As the original book is considered a satirical study of that era’s social customs, so is Eligible one of our time.
            Here we meet a 38-year-old Liz Bennett, an unmarried career woman living in New York City, where her sister Jane also lives.  They left their parents and three younger sisters back in their hometown of Cincinnati, but return to help out when their father undergoes heart bypass surgery. They find that the family’s lives are chaotic: the three younger sisters don’t work, Mrs. Bennett has an online shopping addiction, the family house is falling apart, and Mr. Bennett doesn’t have health insurance for himself and the family. The two eldest daughters try to help out as best they can. On the social front, Jane meets Chip Bingley, a physician at the local hospital and former contestant on the reality show Eligible, a take-off of the show Bachelor. Liz, in turn, meets neurosurgeon Fitzwilliam Darcy and takes an instant dislike to him. Eventually they become running partners and engage in “hate sex”.

            Many of the original characters are here with some updating and/or alteration. We become caught up with modern-day issues such as single parenting, eating disorders, transgender relationships, racism, and more. Although Eligible doesn’t completely follow the plot and the storyline isn’t as tender as that in Pride and Prejudice, its satirical bent makes it a hysterical read.