Once Upon a Flock: Life With My Soulful Chickens

 

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Once Upon a Flock

by Lauren Scheuer

January 2016

Oh, my! This was the cutest, sweetest little book! I picked it up because I’m considering getting chickens. I’m reading a lot (and pinning a lot on Pinterest-one of my favorite things of all time). This book looked so happy on the shelf that I had to bring it home. I loved it. I read it in a matter of hours. Once Upon a Flock reads like a novel with a ton of photos/illustrations throughout (the author is also an artist). It is her story of getting three chicks and raising them, along with all the joys and difficulties that ensue. Her story was very helpful to me as a hopeful chicken owner because she talks about the day in and day out of keeping chickens, and all that entails. I think this is a great book for chicken owning hopefuls, as well as an enjoyable little story for anyone. And here are some pictures because they were so wonderful!!

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Summing it up: This book was very sweet, funny, helpful, and enjoyableI highly recommend it!

All the best, Abbey

the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

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the curious incident of the dog in the night-time

by Mark Haddon

January 2016

So, I joined another book club with other moms in my town. I’m very excited! The book this month is not one I’d ever heard of before (surprise, surprise), but I got it from the library with no trouble and dove right in (since I only had one week to read it). Well, let’s just say that I did not love this book. I did find aspects of it interesting, but that’s about it. It’s written from the perspective of an autistic boy (that’s the part I found fascinating). I learned a lot and it was very interesting to see how Christopher’s mind worked; from certain colors being “good” and “bad,” to him not understanding figures of speech (because he thinks literally), to needing order in everything. What I did not enjoy was the plot line; from lying, to adultery, to the murder of a dog, to abandonment, to running away, etc, etc. Ugh. And that is my review.

Summing it up: if you find autism interesting and you don’t mind a sad plot, dive right in, otherwise, I’d say give it a pass.

All the best, Abbey

Water for Elephants

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Water for Elephants

by Sara Gruen

January 2016

This book was suggested for my book club, but ultimately passed over for another book. I decided to read it anyway. 😉 The only thing I knew about Water for Elephants was that it was about a circus and then made into a movie. I purposely didn’t read the cover (sometimes I get really unmotivated when I read a spoiler), and simply dove right in. Water for Elephants is a whirlwind of a story and swept me away. I had a low key day when I began reading and I ended up reading the entire book in one day.

Jacob is the main character and the story is told from his perspective. The chapters oscillate between Jacob as an elderly man in an assisted living facility and Jacob as a young man just getting out into the world. Right before Jacob is to graduate from college as a veterinarian, his parents die in a car accident. This sends him home only to learn that his parents are penniless (it is 1920’s depression era America, and his parents mortgaged the house to send him to school). His bereavement sends him into a spiral-he is unable to finish his exams and wanders into the night toward train tracks, where he hops aboard a circus train. Thus beginning a few months journey working as a veterinarian for the circus. Jacob grows up fast, witnessing unusual things, cruelty to animals, and unfair treatment of the circus workers and performers. He grows attached to the animals, especially Rosie the elephant and Bobo the chimpanzee, and falls in love with the liberty horse performer, Marlena. He grows as a person throughout the book. Starting with running away from his life; to facing it head on, protecting those whom he loves, and fighting for what is right. He is far from perfect, but he grows and he tries.

While I enjoyed reading about a new subject (the circus), what stayed with me was reading from an elderly perspective. I liked how it ran throughout the entire book and how you can see the stark contrast between being in your prime and being old. It was sad to me to see how as Jacob got old, he lost his autonomy . . . it seemed to be a cruel joke for him to lose his say in basic day to day events after so many years of being his own person. While you can understand that getting older requires care, it’s sad to see so much personality taken away (granted, in this particular story, Jacob did not have any other ailment/illness other than old age). It made me pause and think about the reality of getting older, both on the side of what you can do for parents/grandparents, and for when your own time comes.

SPOILER: the ending I found both happy and sad. The end of young Jacob results in marrying the love of his life, saving their beloved animals, and finishing his degree. Happy! The end of old Jacob results in his family forgetting about him and as a result, he runs away to the circus to live out his life (that’s a super, super condensed version). So, rather happy and sad.

Summing it up: This book was very sweet, though it had sad moments. It read like a whirlwind and I think if you’re looking for a quick, interesting, enjoyable read, that you would like Water for Elephants.

All the best, Abbey

An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

 

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An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

by Tamar Adler

January 2016

“As long as you taste curiously, and watch and feel and listen, and prick your way toward food you like, you will find that you become someone about whom people will say that cooking seems to come naturally, like walking. They will say it and it will be true. That is my advise then, on experience and equipment. Consider not minding whether you know the answer, and not filling your kitchen with tools, but becoming, rather, the kind of cook who doesn’t need them.” -Tamar Adler

In my opinion, this quote sums up the whole book quite nicely. An Everlasting Meal was a delight to read and opened my eyes to an entirely different way of cooking and looking at food. The book reads like a cookbook/novel. There are some stories and directions on how to cook just about everything, along with a multitude of recipes. Tamar begins with water and moves through meat, eggs, cheese, vegetables, and how to make a flop into a success! I was particularly inspired by her abundance of examples on how to use everything. For instance, boiling a chicken with vegetables to make a soup and then saving the bones to make stock later. Or cooking beans, broccoli, etc and then saving the water for a soup starter. It’s incredible what can be used instead of wasted. I believe I’m already cooking better because of having read this book! 🙂

 

Summing it up: I absolutely recommend this book if you’re at all interested in cooking or becoming a better cook!

All the best, Abbey

The Care and Management of Lies

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 The Care and Management of Lies: A Novel of the Great War

by Jacqueline Winspear

January 2016

This. Book. Captivated. Me. I read it in one day (it was due in a few days, so I had no choice but to set aside the day and read for most of it). 😉 Winspear wrote Maisie Dobbs, which I also really enjoyed, and which is what prompted me to read this one. The writing was enjoyable and drew me in from the first page. I fell in love with the characters and felt invested in them and their lives (which proved to be a problem . . .more on that later). I also really enjoyed reading about WWI from a different perspective.

The story takes place in WWI Britain. Two girls, Thea and Kezia, meet in school and bond immediately, in part because they are both there on scholarship. When they grow up, Kezia and Thea’s brother, Tom, fall in love and get married. Tom is a farmer, so Kezia begins learning how to be a farmer’s wife (she’s never cooked before!), when WWI begins. Slowly, the war comes to the countryside and Tom’s friends join up one by one. Before long, Tom joins up as well and leaves Kezia to run the farm in his place. Kezia slowly, but surely takes ownership of her role to run the farm and soon becomes adept at her tasks, cooking in particular. She keeps the farm running smoothly, even as things get progressively more difficult as the war drags on. Tom, meanwhile enters the army and unfortunately gets picked out as the scapegoat of his unit (a method utilized by his commanding officer, Knowles, to keep his men in order). Even though he gets singled out and mistreated, he stays true to himself and continues to be a respectful, honorable man. While all this time is passing, Kezia and Tom write back and forth, lying about their circumstances, so not to discourage each other. Kezia “cooks” elaborate meals for Tom to eat in her letters. She describes them in every detail, but in truth, she isn’t eating/cooking well at all. The “meals” keep Tom going as he’s relentlessly picked on (which he keeps out of his letters). Meanwhile, Thea is drifting, trying to find her place. She shifts from a suffragette to a pacifist, and when she is about to be discovered (and therefore, arrested), she takes an opportunity to enlist as a war ambulance driver, where she finds her place.

About to spoil the ending (since I want to remember!) . . .as I was reading, I really felt like Tom was not going to come home, but the writing gave me hope that he would. At the very end (literally, the last 6 pages-yes I just counted), Kezia learns through two letters that Tom died in combat and Thea died in an explosion. She pulls herself together by cooking, the rhythm of ceremony (she had started from the beginning of her marriage cooking and setting the table just so, etc.), and bringing in one of her workers to eat with her. And that’s how the book ends!!!!!! I literally cried and I’m still upset because it’s such a let down. Hence, the problem with getting so invested-haha!

Summing it up: I really liked The Care and Management of Lies. While parts of it broke my heart, I would definitely recommend it! It was a beautiful book-well written and captivating.

All the best, Abbey