The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

by Elizabeth George Speare

Spring 2015

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, one of the main reasons for this blog is for me to remember what I’ve read, and more importantly, what I liked/disliked about each book. I apparently have a terrible memory when it comes to remembering the content of a book, though I seem to remember my general impression of it. It’s actually pretty funny (I’m laughing as I write this!) and also terribly annoying (seriously, it’s driving me to blog – ha!). So, before I forget the books I read earlier in the year, I’m going back and writing about them. The Witch of Blackbird Pond is one such book. I read it ravenously this spring. It started with me reading The Sign of the Beaver by the same author. Side note, why do I always blog backwards?! The Sign of the Beaver is on my list to blog and I read that one first. Oh, well, another quirk! 😉 I loved it, so I decided to read more of Speare’s work. I had a vague recollection of reading at least part of The Witch of Blackbird Pond in school, but not loving it. However, as soon as I begin this time, I could. not. stop. Speare creates characters that draw you into their lives and you hunger to learn what happens to them. Even though the main characters are teenagers, and I’m an adult and a mom, I found myself propelled back in time and relating with the characters. I was moved by Kit’s growth from a self-centered girl, to a mature, selfless woman. I appreciated how she tried to help others and think less of herself, even though it didn’t always go well. I really liked the concept of not judging others by outward appearances (what a great lesson). The story takes place in 1687 Connecticut, during the midst of witch hunting. Kit befriends a “witch” and almost comes to her end because of it. I like the tidy, happy ending and reading history through this creative lens. I love Speare and I can’t wait for my boys to read her books! Anyone else a fan?

Summing it up: Loved it! I’d recommend it to kids and adults in a heartbeat.

All the best, Abbey

Comfort Me with Apples

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Comfort Me with Apples

by Ruth Reichl

November 2015

I couldn’t wait any longer. Seriously. We moved and about a week later, my husband treated me to a night alone at the library (yes, this was a treat and a stress reliever and a breath of fresh air)! I came away with a handful of books and Reichl’s second memoir was at the top of the stack. I loved it just as much as the two other books I’ve read of hers (Tender at the Bone, which I reviewed previously, and Delicious). She writes her story like a novel and you just can’t put it down. I came away once again with a deeper desire to cook and try new foods. Reichl quotes Wolfgang: “With good ingredients you can cook it more simply.” This is lovely! I really enjoy cooking and baking and honestly, I don’t like it when recipes are crazy complicated. I keep hearing that when you cook with “clean, whole” foods that aren’t processed the results are delightful, and I am finding that out. It’s incredibly enjoyable to cook simply and to know that you’re cooking with food that will not only be delicious, but it will be good for you and an enjoyable experience to eat. Reichl talks about her idol, M. F. K. Fisher, saying, “She can make you taste things just by writing about them, but that’s not the point. She actually makes you pay attention to your next meal, feel more alive because you’re doing that. When you read her you understand that you need to respect yourself enough to focus on the little things of life.” This is Reichl to me and how I feel reading her books. Afterwards, I really think about what I cook and how I’m cooking and it’s exhilarating! It becomes more of an experience instead of a chore . . . and I just love that. I was also touched by Reichl’s honesty in this book as she talks about the difficult things she’s been through – affairs, divorce, and an unfulfilled adoption. It was moving, heartbreaking, and also inspiring. One quote at the end of the book has stayed with me: “I didn’t really know why I was coming [to Barcelona]. But I do now. I needed to find out that sometimes even your best is not good enough. And that in those times you have to give it everything you’ve got. And then move on.” Sometimes I think that you really do try your best, but it doesn’t work out and that fact is extremely difficult to deal with. It was helpful and encouraging to read Reichl’s story and how she learned to cope with her loss. I know I’ll remember this and come back to it. I actually think that I will come back to Reichl’s books again and again . . . I will likely add them to my library. And I’ve decided that I’m going to work through the rest of her books and then reread “Delicious,” and then blog about it. So, you’ll have to wait for my thoughts and in the meantime read her novel for yourself! 😉 Anyone else feel this way about Ruth Reichl’s books? I’d love to hear about it!

Summing it up: Hands down, any of Reichl’s books are well worth the read!

All the best, Abbey