Monday, April 11, 2011

We've Moved

Hands and Home has MOVED! Thats right please update your links and follow me over to my new home at

I'm going to be quiet for the next few days while Hands and Home gets a major face lift! New theme colours, new web address and I am moving to Wordpress (beebee buttercup and Bumps to Babies are also getting a new website... Its just crazy around here)!

Please be patient with me while I get it all worked out. Once everything is complete and moved over to the new platform I will resume with regular posting, and once I'm all settled I guess we are just going to have to have a giveaway wont we?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Follow Friday

 Q. Do you judge a book by it's cover?

In a word... Absa-freaking-loutely. I should amend this answer by saying that I always read the summary and then make a judgement call. But if a book has an absolutely stunning cover chances are I will read it, and if a book has an awful cover than its going to take a little more convincing me to move it up on my TBR pile!

Also, make sure to jump over to Parajunkee (click the image above) to see this weeks featured blogger!

The Storyteller by Sharon Tillotson

The StorytellerFrom Goodreads: Sarah is a Soul who is trying to guide Suzy along her path of rediscovering herself... Or is it redefining? Reinventing? Sarah thinks it might be better defined as remembering, but it’s only Suzy who is concerned about the semantics. Sarah just wishes Suz would get on with it. A rather spirited Spirit, Sarah often finds herself rolling her eyes at Suzy’s antics and the walls she has built up following the death of her husband. Sarah knows the body/mind/spirit energy who is currently housed in the human called Suzy has faced far more difficult challenges than the one she chose for this reincarnation.

Storyteller is the most common role this body/mind/spirit has chosen for its human lives and Sarah chooses to tell the story of Suzy’s spiritual awakening as it unfolds, interweaving compelling stories of past lives and how these individual energies accomplished their shifts in awareness.

Suzy’s journey takes the reader from the lush shores of Seattle to the deepest heart of Africa where humanity is said to have made its first appearance.

My Thoughts: The story begins after Suzy’s husband dies and she finds herself on the verge of losing everything including the business she and her late husband built together, as well as a sense of who she is. The reader is taken on Suzy’s journey to rediscover herself and this includes flashbacks of her soul’s past experiences and lessons learned.

The Storyteller was a bit of a difficult read for me, at times I loved it (usually when I was reading about the flashbacks of Suzy’s soul) and at other times I felt as though I really had to work to get through each page.

The transitions between the present the Suzy’s “souls” past were awkward at best. The narration of her soul seemed so out of place and read rather amateurish. Had a little more time been spent making more of a connection between Suzy’s present and the lessons learned in her past I’m sure this voice could have been eliminated all together (at least I would have preferred to read it this way).

I just could not get pulled into this story. I found the flashbacks to be quite interesting and well written. Tillotson painted a vivid picture of these ancient times and the lessons Suzy’s soul learned but they came at what felt time random times in the story. While I enjoyed reading about the flackbacks the way they were interspersed into the story of Suzy’ present made the whole story feel disjointed. I could absolutely see where the author was going with this but it didn’t work for me.

I really wanted to love this book, the concept grabbed me instantly but the rest of the book didn’t hold my attention the same way. That being said it was still an interesting and thought provoking read and I would recommend this book to someone looking for a slower paced novel about self discovery and reinvention.

I received this book free from the author in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review and all thoughts are my own.

Release Date: July 30, 2010
Publisher: Two Moons
Source: Free Review Copy From Author
Find the Author:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

2 Years and Counting

Two years ago today, at exactly this moment, our little Ladybug entered the world quickly and with lots of excitement. We woke up to an unexpected blizzard and a few feet of snow on the driveway... and the beginning signs of labour.

Ladybug at 1
Ladybug has been making life exciting ever since and I am blessed to have witnessed her journey over the last two years and look forward to watching her grow more and more every day!

An almost 2 year old Ladybug doing what she does best... being a goof!
Happy birthday sweet baby girl. You are loved... oh how you are loved!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Gift of Grace by Amy Clipston

From Goodreads: Rebecca Kauffman’s tranquil Old Order Amish life is transformed when she suddenly has custody of her two teenage nieces after her "English" sister and brother-in-law are killed in an automobile accident. Instant motherhood, after years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive a child of her own, is both a joy and a heartache. Rebecca struggles to give the teenage girls the guidance they need as well as fulfill her duties to Daniel as an Amish wife.

Rebellious Jessica is resistant to Amish ways and constantly in trouble with the community. Younger sister Lindsay is caught in the middle, and the strain between Rebecca and Daniel mounts as Jessica’s rebellion escalates. Instead of the beautiful family life she dreamed of creating for her nieces, Rebecca feels as if her world is being torn apart by two different cultures, leaving her to question her place in the Amish community, her marriage, and her faith in God.

My Thoughts: A Gift of Grace was an interesting read. At the beginning of the book Clipston prefaces her story with the warning that just as Amish culture varies from community to community some of the language and behaviors in the book might surprise readers who are used to a specific picture of Amish life. There were a few places in this book where I had to re-read and thought to myself "did that really just happen". This wasn’t necessarily bad but it did challenge the view that I had in my head of the ‘typical’ Amish man or woman.

Above all A Gift of Grace was a sweet story about two teenage girls struggling to find their place in the world. There was definitely an underlying theme of truly listening to God and following His plan instead of one’s own. This is something that most every character struggled with at some point and it was interesting to see how each character reacted to the obstacles placed in their path.

Clipston did a great job of portraying her characters for who they were. I got a sense of actually knowing them, and I found myself really becoming invested in them especially with Rebecca. Her struggles really pulled at my heart.

This is the first in the Kauffman Amish Bakery Series and I am looking forward to reading the next book. I am very interested to see what happens next as A Gift of Grace closed with a bit of a cliff hanger and certainly didn’t end the way I expected it to.

Release Date: April 20, 2009
Publisher: Zondervan
Series: Kauffman Amish Bakery Series Book #1
Source: Library
Find the Author:

Monday, April 4, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

The Storyteller
The Storytelle - Sharon Tillotson Hmm... this one is hard. I am reading it for a rewview and found the first 150 pages really hard to get into. Its getting a bit better but its still a little slow going. I really hope to finish it soon.

Bearing Witness: Childbirth Stories Told by Doulas (Fox Women's Books)
Bearing Witness: Chilbirth Stories Told by Doulas - Lisa Doran and Lisa Caron I have been looking forward to this book for a while but have been on a waiting list from my library.

The Union Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts Novel
The Union Quilters - Jennifer Chiaverini I hope to start this book this week, I haven't read Jennifer Chiaverini for a while but always enjoy her books. Quilting and Historical Fiction together - how could I go wrong!

Reviews finished this week

Left Neglected

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Friday and the Blog Hops

Book Blogger Hop

Crazy For Books Hop Question:

"Since today is April Fool's Day in the USA, what is the best prank you have ever played on someone OR that someone has played on you?"
Um... I honestly can't remember playing an April Fool's Day prank... there was something in grade 1 involving something from the medicine cabinet on my class room door, but I think that is about it. Lame. I know!

And of course  Follow My Blog Friday hosted by Parajunkee's View

Hmm... Do I have another 5 random book facts about myself:

1. I am addicted to adding items to my library hold list and then get stressed when they all become available at once.
2. I read everywhere, when I'm eating, waiting in line for 2 minutes, I listen to audio books when I'm driving, cooking, cleaning etc. etc. etc.
3. I buy far more books than I have time to read
4. My kids are turning into book-a-holics and I couldn't be happier!
5. I get really excited when I find out my friends also love my favourite authors!

And please don't forget to leave your link and please let me know in the comments if you are a new follower!

Why I Love Reading....

I recently saw this question posted on Book Blogs and thought it was such a great question that it deserved its own post.

Do I love to read? That question is simple for me, of course I love to read! As far back as I can remember I have always read (and before I could read or write I made picture books, ‘hand’ books, ‘foot’ books – you name it, I made it!). I vividly remember having a ‘reading time’ attached to my bedtime otherwise I would have stayed up all night reading. The library has always been a safe space for me, and I love that my children get just as excited as I used to (and still do) when we make at trip to the library.

Why do I read? Well that depends on what I am reading and what is going on in my life. The most basic reason that I read is for information. As a Childbirth Educator and Doula I read a lot of books about childbirth, breastfeeding, newborn care, baby sleep habits, postpartum depression etc. so that I can stay up to date with research in the field. One of the reasons that I like historical fiction so much is because as a history major in university I love to know about where we came from as well as the histories of other cultures. Social history is very exciting for me so reading historical fiction is another way for me to inform myself and satisfy my curious nature.

A small collection of my childbirth books
I am also a big time collector of craft and sewing books. I am a sucker for anything quilting related (especially if it showcases quilts made with bright, flashy fabrics and fun, vibrant patterns) and my “to-sew” list is growing at about the same speed of my “to-read” list (which is exponential!). I also love books about being creative with the family – I have a hard time passing up kids craft books. Sweetpea is getting to the age where she loves to create, and Ladybug is getting there… her attention span still limits her to about 5 minutes of colouring, stamping or painting at a time, but she has a great time for that 5 minutes!

A few craft/sewing books and quilting magazines
I love to read to my children because it gives them a chance to really use their imaginations. When we read we make up our own endings (ie. what did she do next, what happened when she got to the castle, why was he in the forest) and it is to thrilling for me to watch them engage and get so excited about our books. Reading is also a great chance for us to learn through play. Sweetpea learned her colours, shapes and counting from reading stories and she was never aware that she was “learning” anything (not in a formal sense at least).

The girl's downstairs reading nook. The 'big' bookshelf is in my room and I rotate these books out every few months.
Of course I also read for fun. Reading for me is an escape – a way to let go of the stresses of the day and really unwind. When I read I become completely wrapped up in the story and if it’s a really good book, or one that I really enjoy, I can actually “see” the characters and surroundings and “feel” what is happening in the story. I think this is my favourite part of reading, when you find a book that is so good you experience it on such a sensory level.

I could go on and on about why I love to read but I would love to hear from you. Do you love to read? Why do you read? What is your favourite genre?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

From Goodreads: Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children—Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month-old Linus.

Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son’s teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it’s a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller. Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long. In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah
relinquishes control to those around her, including her formerly absent mother. Without the ability to even floss her own teeth, she struggles to find answers about her past and her uncertain future.

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny—her new, true life—may in fact lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets. And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach, if only she slows down long enough to notice.

My Thoughts: I loved this book within the first 8 pages. The main character Sarah is so raw, so real. I loved the honesty Genova used to craft this character. At the beginning of this novel Sarah is the kind of character that most people hate, and I think that is how Genova wanted it. Personally I didn’t hate Sarah because she knew what she wanted and shamelessly went for it. I know that Type-A, 80 hour work week, career woman personality wouldn’t be a fit for me and my family, nor would I strive to be more like her, but I appreciated her honesty in trying to do it all. Nothing is sugar coated with Sarah and I loved that about her. Now in real life she probably wouldn’t be someone that I would have tea with on a regular basis (she would have been too busy for that anyway) but for a character in a book I really liked her.

I have read a lot of reviews from people who said they hated this book, or didn’t finish it because Sarah was selfish enough to talk on her cell phone and therefore they could not feel any sympathy for her. This book is not about feeling sorry for Sarah. Left Neglected is about Sarah’s struggle to reconcile her new reality. There is a constant battle going on inside of her – is accepting her Left Neglect a sign of giving up, can she beat it, does she have to beat it, is accommodating her Left Neglect good enough? Can she lead a full life without returning to the way of life she previously knew? A perfect example of her internal struggles can be found ¾ of the way through the book when Sarah (a previously avid skier) begins snowboarding on a modified snowboard with a trainer.

p. 261 "What is Bob going to think when he sees me on a handicapped snowboard? Will he think I’ve given in to my Neglect and given up? Have I given up? Is this accommodating or failing? Should I have waited until I’m recovered enough to ski like I used to? What is that never happens? Are my only two acceptable choices sitting tin the booth in the lodge or skiing like I used to before the accident, with nothing in between?"I loved the fact that Sarah did learn from her condition and it actually enabled her to identify ways to help her son who was struggling in school with ADHD. She was able to connect with Charlie in a way that she hadn't been able to previously, be it for lack of time or lack of understanding what he was going through. While she was working to recover she was also able to mend broken relationships and strengthen those that were not yet broken.

There were times when I found Left Neglected to be laugh out loud funny. Sarah has such a dry (and at times dark) humor when talking about life after her accident. The struggles that she faces are heart wrenching, unimaginable and sometimes funny. Sarah does not pity herself; not does she look for pity. She wasn’t willing to give up, or admit that she could no longer do the things she loved to do. She was going to read the Sunday Times even if it took her a week (or find an equally appealing alternative) but the point is she didn’t give up. I actually found her story to be quite uplifting.

I don’t want to give anything away by telling you how she reacted to her injury nor am I going to tell you how the book ended but I will tell you that the ending surprised me. That’s all. It was too good of a book to ruin it by giving you my opinion of the ending, or even the middle, so if you have read it and want to discuss it please send me an email – otherwise you are just going to have to read it for yourself! I really enjoyed reading this book, and Genova’s first book "Still Alice" has just jumped to the very top of my TBR pile!

 I received a free copy of Left Neglected from the publisher Simon and Schuster Canada as part of the book club. I was not required to write a review, and my opinions are my own.

Have you read Left Neglected? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Introducing Emmeline

Emmeline is not a person, she is this super sweet apron designed by the wonderful Meg of SewLiberated. I purchased the Emmeline Apron pattern about a year ago fully intending on making one for myself but of course some things got in the way and I didn't have much personal sewing time last year.

My friend Stephanie has been hinting for as long as I have had this pattern that she certainly wouldn't mind being a product tester if I wanted to make this apron for her and she just had a birthday this past week so what better motivation than to make it for a gift! I finished this apron up with literally no time to spare. I was clipping off loose threads when getting dressed for dinner, but the important thing is that I finished it and she loves it!

This pattern was so great to work from. It was clear, with no errors and everything worked out brilliantly. It took me a little longer to finish it than I thought (ahem... see clipping threads off while getting dressed) but it was still a great sew. I am sure that I will be making one for myself soon (most likely reversable with these fabrics!)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Its Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list. 

The Storyteller - Sharon Tillotson A review book that I have just started

A Gift of Grace - Amy Clipston Good old Amish fiction by an author whom I haven't yet had the pleasure of reading

Left Neglected - Lisa Genovia I can finish this week, I've been trying to read slow as per my book club's reading list and its been killing me!

Even Now - Karen Kingsbury? Still on my ipod and getting close to the end. A few surprises that I didn't expect in terms of characters.

What are you reading this week? Don't forget to leave a link to your own "Its Monday" post so I can see what you are reading too!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Her Mother's Hope by Francine Rivers

From Goodreads: The first in an epic two-book saga by beloved author Francine Rivers, this sweeping story explores the complicated relationships between mothers and daughters over several generations. Near the turn of the 20th century, fiery Marta leaves Switzerland determined to find life on her own terms. Her journey takes her through Europe and finally lands her with children and husband in tow in the central valley of California. Marta’s experiences convince her that only the strong survive. Hildie, Marta’s oldest daughter, has a heart to serve others, and her calling as a nurse gives her independence, if not the respect of her mother. Amid the drama of WWII, Hildie marries and begins a family of her own. She wants her daughter never to doubt her love—but the challenges of life conspire against her vow. Each woman is forced to confront her faulty but well-meaning desire to help her daughter find her God-given place in the world.

My Thoughts: I don’t know what I was expecting when I opened up Her Mother’s Hope but I can tell you that I was surprised and hooked after just the first 2 pages. The characters and relationships were so complex, and so real. Marta was one of those characters that I had respect for, loved, hated, pitied and wanted to scream at all at once. I FELT so much in reading this book, to the point where at times I forgot that I was reading fiction – it just felt so much like I was reading a real family history.

There was an underlying theme of having faith in God no matter what the circumstance and it was interesting to see how different characters interpreted and practiced their faith. Listening to various characters talking to God and understanding how much their faith meant to them, and their day to day interactions, really made me think of them as alive.

Love was also present in nearly every page of this book. Marta’s love for her mother, her desire to be loved by her father, the relationships she formed with those she served for, her love for her childhood best friend. I was constantly troubled by the way that she showed love to her daughter Hildie. Knowing Marta’s past and knowing how she feared nothing more than Hildie following in Elise’s footsteps I suppose a part of me can understand why she felt the need to act the way she did, but I still couldn’t help but get so angry with her for it. I felt like screaming “do you not see what you are doing!?” but of course this is fiction and usually people don’t see what they are doing until the end of the book.

As someone who really likes to focus on a character or event and read all of the small details that make it feel real, I think that I would have like it if Her Mother’s Hope was separated into two volumes instead of just one. I felt the quick progression of time to be dizzying. Sometimes an entire chapter would be devoted to a few months, other times 4 or 5 years would pass within a few pages. I still enjoyed it tremendously but wished that certain parts of Marta or Hildie’s lives would have been given more attention.

I found Her Mother’s Hope to be a compelling read and once I got into it could not put it down. I am looking forward to reading the sequel Her Daughter’s Dream. There is so much more that I could stay about this book, I think it was a great choice for my first Francine River’s novel!

Follow Friday/Book Blogger Hop

Question of the Week: Inspired by the inane twitter trend of #100factsaboutme, give us five BOOK RELATED silly facts about you.

  1. I am a book nerd in a big way. I always have a book in my purse/diaper bag (I am so thankfull for my KOBO!) and usually a few for the kids as well.
  2. I always keep  an audio book on my ipod so when I am driving/walking/eating lunch at work I can be reading too.
  3. When I was a kid I would read so much that at bedtime I had to have a 'reading time' built in so I didn't stay up too late.
  4. The first book I read on my own (and read for show and tell at school) was "Donald's Day in the Kitchen" - it was a Disney Rhyming Reader and I still have a special place in my heart for it.
  5. I have 175 books on my to read list
Happy reading! Be sure to leave your link so I can visit you too!

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question comes from Mina who blogs at Mina Burrows:
 "If you could physically put yourself into a book or series…which one would it be and why?"
This might make me a nerd but I have always loved the Little House series and I'm pretty sure that is the series I would most like to "be in".
AND Remember! Leave your link so I can visit you too!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spring Runner Sew Along

I have been doing great with my book challenges as of late but I haven't had much to show in the sewing department for the last month. I have completed a few projects (some stock for beebee buttercup and a gift for a friend that I forgot to photograph before I gave it away - I should be posting about it next week) but can't share just yet. I am also working with some very talented individuals on a brand new website for beebee buttercup and Bumps to Babies that I hope to share with you some time in April.

So to get me motivated I'm joining in on the Spring Runner Sew-Along. This is the perfect opportunity to make a new table runner for myself as the last two that I have made have ended up in my mom's house (where she suggested that they just might look better than in my home!). I do need something to cover up all the scratches on my kitchen table... it is ahem... well loved.

I'm not quite sure where I am going to go with this one - I probably won't be using too many light, springy, colours but I like the tri-colour theme and the zig zag quilting is great. I have until April 20 so that should be lots of time. I'll let you know when I finish up!

What about you - did you join the challenge? If so please leave a link to your blog post!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Our Favourite Children's Books

I'm sure its pretty obvious that I love to read, but what makes me so very happy is that my girls also love to read (or be read to). Their ideal trip out of the house is to go to our local library - they just love it! We often pick a favourite book and read it a million times until Sweetpea can basically 'read' the entire story to Ladybug.

Over the last 3 years these are a few of the books that have stood out as favourites around our house. This list is in no way complete, and is growing daily. I am sure that I have missed more than a few!
A Ride on Mother's Back by Emery Bernhard and Durga Bernhard

Love You Forever by Robert N. Munsch and Sheila McGraw

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

I Love You All Year Long  by Steve Metzger
Complete Adventures Of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
Any story to do with princesses or fairies. I am currently attempting to grow my collection of these Flower Fairies stories.

What are your favourite children's books? We are always looking for new ones so I would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Reading Challenge

I decided to join the Spring Reading Challenge hosted by Callapidder Days. It will be a good motivation for me to move some of those 'to read' books onto the 'read' shelf! The challenge goes until June 20 so we will see how many of these I read in 3 months!

So far my list looks a little like this.

1. A Gift of Grace - Amy Clipson (Finished Mar 29, 2011)
2. A Promise of Hope - Amy Clipson
3. A Place of Peace - Amy Clipson
4. Her Mother's Hope - Francine Rivers (Finished March 25, 2011)
5. The Storyteller - Sharon Tillotson (Finished April 7, 2011)
6. The Midwife of Venice - Roberta Rich
7. The Union Quilters - Jennifer Chiaverini

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week. It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

I am so excited to get started on the Midwife of Venice. What do I love more so far, the story or the cover? Its a toss up!

I am reading Her Mother's Hope for the Domestic Diva Book Club

Still loving Left Neglected which I am reading for the book club

And I'm still enjoying the audio of Even Now on my Ipod while I sew!

What about you? What are you reading today? If you have participated in this meme please feel free to leave a link to your own It's Monday! What are you reading post.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Commenting System

Edited to add: After only 24 hours I have decided to remove Disqus. I liked the fact that I could finally leave nested comments and love the moderation/reply by email option however I was not willing to loose the ability to hyperlink to one's blog via their comment. Isn't the point of blogging to engage in a conversation? How is that possible when no one can find you (or your blog) through your comments to continue on that discussion. Back to searching for a better option!

Please be patient with me as I am trying out a new commenting system (Disqus) so that I will be able to leave replies directly under comments. I quite enjoy using blogger as a blogging system however I have been searching for the best way to reply to comments - email addresses are not always visible and if I reply to comments my reply goes directly to the bottom of the post. What I really wanted were the embedded comments that are possible with Wordpress and Typepad blogs - I hope that Disquis is the answer!

After adding Disquis I noticed comments left on the blogger commenting platform are no longer visible (I can still see them but you cannot). Please don't think that I removed your comments! I read each and every comment and it makes my day when you have something to say about my posts! I'm going to try this out for about a week or so to see how it works out.

Please, please, please feel free to leave me feedback on the Disquis commenting system. I want to know how easy it is to use and if it makes commenting and finding replies to your comments easier. I am hoping that this will help to facilitate more discussion on the Hands and Home blog!

Do you have a blogger account? If so what do you use for your comments?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

From Goodreads: Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed. In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

My Thoughts:

I love that there was a character that was willing to challenge the status quo and essentially sabotage the life she knew for an issue she felt so strongly about. I was happy that at the end of the novel she wasn’t entirely alone in her thinking (granted she wasn’t openly embraced for it either). I loved how fully developed each of the characters were. I could see the homes of Aibileen and Minny, I could feel the tension in Miss. Lefold’s home and more than a few times felt like shaking Miss. Hilly. Granted I missed the 60’s and certainly didn’t grow up in the South so I do not profess to be an expert on the authenticity or accuracy of the voices in this book, but I can say that it certainly felt authentic to me. Stockett gave her characters voices, some used them for education and enlightenment, some for change, and some to spread hate and lies.

This book brought to life so much emotion for me. I felt the fear and anticipation that the women described as they were writing their book. I felt Minny’s anger, and also Skeeter’s. I felt sorrow when I read the stories of not only how the maids were treated but also how Mae Mobely was treated. But I also felt the love and concern that some of the maids held towards their "white women" and their children. These were such complex relationships and I think that Stockett portrayed them beautifully.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Help and think it is an important reminder that a single voice does have the power to change – however small that change is perceived to be. The Help was one of those rare books that I could have devoured in a sitting but instead forced myself to read it slowly over a week so that I could savor it. The way the Stockett wrote I could actually hear the voices of each character and this captured and held my attention throughout the entire book. There was so much that I loved about this book I don’t even know where to begin.

I borrowed this book from the library

Hoppin' Away/Follow Friday

Book Blogger Hop

This weeks question:
"Do you read only one book at a time, or do you have several going at once?"

I usually have about 3 books on the go but they have to be very different. I can't read a bunch of books from the same genre, or similar story lines at the same time or I'll start transposing plots and characters (ie. 2 Amish fiction or 2 historical fictions from the same time/place). I usually have a hard time deciding what to read so I'll have one book on my bedside table, something downstairs and something on my KOBO for easy travelling!

This weeks question:
How did you come up with your blog name?

When I first started Hands and Home it was primarily a craft/family living blog with a bit of book content in there so Hands (crafting) and Home (family) worked. As this blog evolved the title stuck and here we are.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

From Goodreads: A novel about women and men reconnecting with one another—and themselves—at their fortieth high school reunion. To each of the men and women in The Last Time I Saw You, this reunion means something different—a last opportunity to say something long left unsaid, an escape from the bleaker realities of everyday life, a means to save a marriage on the rocks, or an opportunity to bond with a slightly estranged daughter, if only over what her mother should wear.

As the onetime classmates meet up over the course of a weekend, they discover things that will irrevocably affect the rest of their lives. For newly divorced Dorothy Shauman, the reunion brings with it the possibility of finally attracting the attention of the class heartthrob, Pete Decker. For the ever self-reliant, ever left-out Mary Alice Mayhew, it’s a chance to reexamine a painful past. For Lester Heseenpfeffer, a veterinarian and widower, it is the hope of talking shop with a fellow vet—or at least that’s what he tells himself. For Candy Armstrong, the class beauty, it’s the hope of finding friendship before it is too late.

As Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy, and the other classmates converge for the reunion dinner, four decades melt away: Desires and personalities from their youth reemerge, and new discoveries are made. For so much has happened to them all. And so much can still happen.

My Thoughts: This is not a book that I normally would have chosen for myself. The story line just didn’t grab me at first and I couldn’t imagine staying interested (this was a book club pick). Then I started to read the first chapter about Dorothy and I almost turned right around and returned this book to the library. I couldn’t stand it. I really could have done without this character with her shallow and immature dialogue. I found her to be pathetic to be quite honest, 40 years later and you are still trying to attract your high school ‘heart throb’? I know that everyone loves to have a character to hate in a novel but Dorothy was too much. I did push through that first chapter and I’m pretty glad that I did.

What did I enjoy about this book? I really enjoyed the development of characters like Lester, Candy and Mary Alice. I really liked the theme that people can and do change, that who you were in high school does not define who you will be as an adult (or if it does, it is still not too late to change). I was glad to see that not everyone was portrayed as being shallow, inconsiderate, and selfish. As much as I didn't care for some of the characters at least Berg chose to portry them authentically. I could see them being people in real life, some that I may have even known in my past!

For the most part I enjoyed this book but I had a difficult time identifying with the characters so I didn’t really become invested in the story line or their lives like I usually do. Maybe it is because these characters are my parent’s age, or maybe it is because I wasn’t a fan of the popular crowd in high school but also didn’t fall into the ‘picked on’ category so their high school experiences didn’t resonate with me either. I think that I would have enjoyed this book more if I picked it up in 15-20 years.