Friday, February 24, 2012


   This is one of those cases where I will say that I read the book so you don't have to.... really, don't read it.  Ashes, by Ilse J. Bick, was dismal, but I doggedly worked my way through its tangles and nonsensical turns just so you don't have to face it. In yet another end-of-the-world scenario, Ashes walks the familiar path of zombie-land, sinking its teeth in a little too graphically, in my opinion, but that isn't my main gripe with the book.
   The story actually had potential at the beginning, with three separate characters being thrown together because of unexpected circumstances. Then, halfway through the story, just when I was beginning to be curious about how their relationships would be resolved, two of the characters disappeared. Fine, that's not unusual, as it is a good way for tension to be raised, but one usually expects some resolution at the end of the story. In this case, though, the story completely shifted gears, and headed deep into Biblical lands, which is also not unusual for end-of-the-world books, but some handle the theme better than others. This one was simply disturbing, and poorly constructed, not to mention hard to follow.
   The end of the book took another twist, again, unrelated to the two previous paths, and finally stumbled to a finish that actually hurt to read... so don't. Just don't.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Review--Every Day in Tuscany

   Books by Frances Mayes do not fall into the young adult category, of course, but anyone who likes to daydream and imagine, can see the appeal of her rich use of words, and her skill at painting landscapes with carefully paired words. Best known for her book, Under the Tuscan Sun, Mayes continues her love affair with the Tuscan countryside, food, and people, in the delightful Every Day in Tuscany. Slowly paced, like tomatoes ripening in the Mediterranean sun, this little book reminds one of the delights of keeping a daily journal, where recipes are jotted in the margins, and lengthy descriptions of the angle of the light are common-place. Frances Mayes has a gift for observation, and a savvy ability to see the beauty in the every-day.
   If you have not read her prior books, give them a read first, and like me, you will find yourself longing to follow her lead, as realization sets in that an old restored villa in the Italian countryside is not necessary to live life fully, and Carpe Diem... no matter where you are.