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B&b ex libris has commented on (15) products.

Follow Me by Joanna Scott
Follow Me

B&b ex libris, April 27, 2009


When a young girl longs to learn of her family, of her heritage she is in for an exciting narration from her grandmother (AKA Sally Werner). She makes the young girl promise to never tell another soul what she is going to tell her, as she has never told anyone herself. In her grandmother's words she pieces together the mystery of her father's choices, and mostly the choice he made to leave her, a choice she lives with daily. Her family secrets are what make up a history of hardship and difficulty, however at the same time she realizes that within her family's history fanciful legends and tales hold the same value as the truth. However when she is confronted with her father, a man she had never known because of his choice to (after a failed suicide attempt) leave both she and her mother for a better life, she learns that he has another story all together about her grandmother. But could the elaborate story that her grandmother entrusted to her may only be fiction after all?

Follow Me is an interesting portrayal of family difficulties, discrepancies in family history and more than anything the lives that become that history. Since lives are lived only by one person, and seen by others in a much different light than one intends, history of the living is difficult to nail down. Follow Me is a novel of mysteries, family secrets and after a full dose of half-truths and some lies, there is a family history that evolves.

My thoughts are scattered on this read. I did enjoy the writing, it was as fluid and practical as it was elegant. Joanna Scott is an amazing storyteller and an extremely gifted writer, the tale flows from her words with ease. The only problem was that sometimes it seemed like it was too at ease, too leisurely, and I wished to learn faster. I found it interesting, but felt myself lagging behind in the thrill of it. I didn't completely fall head-over-heels with Sally Werner either, who this story is really about. For me it was mostly that somehow I felt I needed to be guarded against her because her choices made me nervous, and when I was allowed to know her thoughts about herself they were so harsh- that it just made me distrust her. By far the biggest fault of the book, which may be my own, is that I just lacked that personal bond with the characters. I did enjoy this read though, just not as much as I had hoped when it started out.
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Peter Pan (Aladdin Classics) by Barrie
Peter Pan (Aladdin Classics)

B&b ex libris, April 24, 2009

Peter Pan is the tale of a boy who finds the fountain of youth located on the 'second star to the right and straight off 'till morning'. That place is Neverland. In Neverland there are adventures to be had, and it is the dreamiest world to be for any young boy, because it contains all the fantasies with none of the responsibilities of getting older. Peter and the lost boys fight pirates, they can fly, they magically have food to eat and they get to run around with real swords and weapons! There is never a bedtime to be kept, no rules, no nagging or chores to do, there is time for everything in a life free of cares and hardships.

When Peter brings in Wendy and her siblings though, things start to get funky. The lost boys begin to dream of the mother they have never had, of a mother who loves them. For a while Wendy fills this role, but then she too misses her own mother.

Peter Pan is certainly a classic worthy of all the hype as it has graced the stages from Broadway to Disney, to Hollywood, to so many different book publishers who hope to carry on this glorious favourite. I think somewhere in marketing however has made a mistake. I believe the story should not be marketed towards children, as they have yet to know what the abandoning of youth really means, but that it should be read more often by adults. Kids grasp the fun that this Neverland world would be, but neglect to see the implications of living there forever.

I don't cry when I read books, so I was astonished when I cried in the final lines of Peter Pan. It is that forgetting of childhood, of moving to a new season, of letting go of things that were once all that you dreamed of and thought about. I have never understood it more clearly than with the finishing of this text, the sadness that it would be to live as a child for the rest of your life and watch everything else grow and change except you.

For me this book is a coming of age tale, a choice we all have to make of weather to stay in our own fantasies, of having everything taken care of for us or actually having the bravery to face our fears and then enjoy along with the responsibilities, these are the benefits of aging. More than a dream, to live forever in an mortal world would be a curse, it makes me sad thinking about it, Peter is not a hero but a victim of a place and an imagination that he cannot will himself to escape for fear. We are meant to embrace each new stage, each step and grow and learn with them. I loved the impact that Peter Pan had on me as an adult. When I was younger I really didn't get the point, and it seemed so anti-climactic in the end, I didn't get it at all. I am in love with this classic now for sure. I can relate in so many ways to the war of embracing the future- while still longing for the past, the fear things will change and not knowing how that will feel.
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The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
The Cellist of Sarajevo

B&b ex libris, April 17, 2009

Living is very different when your life is under constant threat, when each time you leave the house you run, knowing you are observed and are very much a walking target. In these situations life takes on a whole value. What is important enough to actually put your life in their hands for? Then you wonder when it became an act of bravery to cross the threshold of your door. This is the everyday life, the new normal for those in Sarajevo during the siege. The Cellist of Sarajevo is a novel based on a non-fictional siege, and a non-fictional well known local cellist, Vase Smailovic a who played Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor for twenty-two days as a tribute to those who had been killed while standing in line waiting to buy bread. During this twenty-two day period not only is Sarajevo the cellist's audience, but the audience extends far beyond the well guarded borders of even Sarajevo itself, the world is his audience.

In a nation that is being torn apart, what will make those in the city stop and see that there still is anything worth living for? Society is not buildings, it is not libraries, or community halls-those are the shells that societies leave behind, the remnants and evidence that the people were there working together. Society is a community, the relationships held between people, and an understanding of an acceptable way to treat one another. When that society is under attack, a new normal emerges for its civilians, a new acceptable way to interact with others which is more an instinct than an interaction. When society as we know it falls apart and there are no longer any rules to how we should act, it is from within us that our actions arise. Those actions will prove a person to be a man or woman of courage and heart, or a human who only lives to protect itself.

The Cellist plays, and it is not he that is the focus in this novel, but those he impacts, his audience. There are three main characters which the narrator follows on their daily routine and of which the reader learns their thoughts and fears. Music, as all forms of art, inspires people to continue on, to hope for a future in a better world, and even to remember the past. Every day during the twenty-two day tribute, the Cellist was giving an outdoor concert- the notes rising amongst the broken buildings, the burnt down libraries, and mending the dreams and hearts of the broken people. And yet, that is just the starting point of this novel- it is what those three characters do with the hope that has been given them that caries the musical notes beyond just the listeners who were inspired.

For me personally The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway was one of those books, the books that you think about, dream about and live in while you are reading them, and those that you can't seem to let go of thinking about even when you have finished the last page. The writing of Steven Galloway is astonishing, it is human and beautiful. Even though he is writing about a very devastating time in history, his characters still find joy in the simple things of life. It may sound strange but Steven Galloway does an excellent job filtering in humor and lightness into this book. This allowed me to see that no matter how difficult of a place a person is in, there is still humor, because when the lightness and humor die that means all hope is lost. Both my husband and I read this and both loved it, if we both loved it that says a lot for the book, as we generally like very different books.

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Linen, Wool, Cotton: 25 Simple Projects to Sew with Natural Fabrics (Make Good: Crafts + Life) by Akiko Mano
Linen, Wool, Cotton: 25 Simple Projects to Sew with Natural Fabrics (Make Good: Crafts + Life)

B&b ex libris, April 14, 2009

Akiko Mano's soft and subdued style is simple yet outstanding in quality, approach and design. Linen, Wool, Cotton is a dream for the practical person who enjoys crafts that people will actually use. The simplicity of her patterns is so pretty and speaks though its calmness. Akiko Mano's designs will allow even the insure crafter to create things that many will enjoy. The projects range from wool slippers, aprons, a muffler, lightweight fruit bags, a lingerie case, hot water bottle cover, duvet cover and beyond. Linen, Wool, Cotton is sectioned off into chapters by material choice, beginning with Linen, followed by Wool and finally Cotton. Akiko's patterns are easy to follow and minimalist in their approach, and that is a bonus, since that makes them quick to complete as well, having only an average of 4 steps per pattern.

Linen, Wool, Cotton by Akiko Mano is part of the Japanese Crafts Style books also known as Make Good: Crafts + Life, a group of books believing in the goal to simplify life. This approach makes it its goal to take pleasure in the beautiful things that are so perfect in their minimalistic appeal.

So how did I like this book? I loved it. I enjoy being crafty, but I want the things I make to be used and not just dusted. This is a book for a person like me, and I am thrilled that there are so many patterns in Linen, Wool, Cotton that are calling my name (quite loudly I might add). I have already dived in, and created the lunch bags, they were just too cool to not make. I was worried at first because usually patterns seem to have way too many impractical steps and I have a hard time wanting to follow along. I had no problem with listening to Akiko at all. The lunch bag pattern (p. 96) was just perfect and simple and had fluff, just the real stuff. I know for sure that I am going to make several other patterns, the Sweets Mat (p. 90) looks like the next one I'll try. And the Fruit Bags (p. 37) made out of cheesecloth would be perfect for veggies at the Saturday Farmer's Market as they don't way anything and are completely reusable! Yeah, so anyway I am hooked. I recommend Linen, Wool, Cotton by Akiko Mano with no reservations at all.

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How to Mess Up Your Child's Life: Proven Strategies & Practical Tips by Olivia Bruner
How to Mess Up Your Child's Life: Proven Strategies & Practical Tips

B&b ex libris, April 1, 2009

Written to equip every parent to be a master at creating the perfect messed up kid, granting each parent the ability to destroy their child mind, body and soul. Olivia and Kurt Bruner's book How To Mess Up Your Child's Life is an intensely humours book on how to create and perfect the kid who we've all seen, the one we've wished was our own: the one who constantly feels entitled to all his birthday gifts and does not know the words 'thank you', the little girl who throws a fit to get her way and her parents happily give in, the grown man who pushes an elderly woman out of his way because he needs to get there first. Yes, we have all seen and admired these people, and wished for them in our own lives and now with the genius help of Oliver and Kurt Bruner you too can have children who are the envy of messed up!

Not really, no. Well you could...but I am guessing you got the sarcasm in those above lines (you did right??) So, this book is genius, but because it is funny, filled with truth and very insightful, on what NOT to do just as much as on what TO do. I have read Doctor Dobson, and other such gurus before, but this book is by far my favourite parenting book to date. It really is displayed and explained in a way that makes sense! Olivia and Kurt break down the chapters into "the seven deadly sins" of which they explain all other sins stem out of. At the end of each chapter there is are activities to reinforce the attitudes in your children, movies to watch to help them understand, and goofy games and things to do as a family to help you all grasp the darkness of each sin.

Just so you get a taste, I'll list the chapters:

Chapter One: Nurturing an Enormous Ego
(Deadly Sin: Pride)
Chapter Two: Inspiring Lasting Discontent
(Deadly Sin: Envy)
Chapter Three: Encouraging an Expressive Temper
(Deadly Sin: Anger)
Chapter Four: Feeding a Voracious Appetite
(Deadly Sin: Gluttony)
Chapter Five: Discouraging Frivolous Generosity
(Deadly Sin: Greed)
Chapter Six: Fostering Total Dependence
(Deadly Sin: Sloth)
Chapter Seven: Condoning Sensual Gratification
(Deadly Sin: Lust)
Chapter Eight: Instilling Faith
(Whatever You Do, Don't!)

Personally I got more out of this book in understanding kids, and myself than any other book. I loved the style and thought it was really funny. How To Mess Up Your Child's Life is written in a way that really made sense to me and to which I could relate to. It wasn't all about creating the perfect child, making him perfect in all aspects. It is more a molding and modeling and allowing the growth to be the fruit rather than what was demanded. I feel it attacks the key issues and leaves the rest. As a parent I am constantly working on choosing the battles that are actually important (versus the fact that a child is just really getting on my nerves) and Olivia and Kent really hit it home in this one. Highly recommended.
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