Archive for the 'Beach Reading' Category

A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

A Girl Named Zippy, Growing Up Small in Moorland, Indiana

When I was a young reader, I preferred the chapter books with a few sketched graphics at the beginning of each chapter.  It somehow made the story appear to move faster.  Old habits die hard as I took great pleasure in the photos of Zippy’s childhood that accompany the chapter titles throughout this book.  Haven Kimmel, born in 1965, shares her life experience growing up in a rural Indianan town in the 1960’s.  The author’s memories of Moorland closely resemble my own memories of a rural New Jersey town, West Deptford, New Jersey.

A Girl Named Zippy, Growing up Small in Moorland, Indiana will have a familiar ring for anyone who grew up or raised children in the 1960s.  The unique aspect of the work is the narrative voice of a youngster, mastered by the author.  The narrative style transports the reader to the time and places of childhood experience.  Many entertaining moments evolve from humorous observations on the appearance and actions of grownups as well as detailed descriptions of pet adoptions, church attendance and personal injury.  Social conflict and isolation is unveiled against the backdrop of small town U.S.A. 

My favorite descriptive passage begins on page 167 with Zippy’s memories of a grand oak tree.  “There are a finite number of times one can safely climb the same tree in a single day; after that point the whole venture becomes meaningless, and potentially dangerous.?  The unique thing about reading memoirs is that the process of reading about the lives of others can trigger personal memories of the reader.  The author’s thoughts on the oak tree and its relation to gravity brought back my own memories of the tall willow tree in the backyard of my childhood home.  I still can feel the bark under my fingers as I climbed to the highest point where, in those days, I could view the whole world.  Ok, it was just my neighborhood, however during those childhood days; my neighborhood was my whole world. 

This book provides a path back to rural life in the 1960’s through the eyes of a child.  Reading the book may stir memories of your own to share with family and friends.

Galileo’s Daughter by Dava Sobel

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007

Reviewed by Rose

This story is a historical memoir of science, faith and love. Galileo upholds each and everyone. Sobel is a brilliant story teller. She credits Galileo with astronomy, history, navigation, and more which of course is factual.

In this story, Galileo believes the sun is the center of the Universe which is depicted and defined as “heresy.? Find out who it is that opposes this reasoning. The story deals with the “Bubonic Plague.? There is quite a lot of discussion on his book, “Dialogue? published in 1633. His children play a very important role; he has two daughters and one son. His most affectionate and caring daughter is S. Marie Celeste who is in the convent and writes to her father just about daily.

There is much I have not revealed. Keep in mind this story takes place from late 1500 to about 1645. The book is an education. It’s a real gem and I disliked it coming to an end.

The Saving Graces by Patricia Gaffney

Friday, August 10th, 2007

The Saving Graces is a name chosen for a foursome of women friends who share dinners and secrets and help guide one another through very different lives. They always made clam chowder at the beach. The beach plays an important part of their lives, get-togethers and their final farewell to one of their members.

The four gals ( Emma, Lee, Rudy and Isabel ) have distinct, and very different personalities. Each chapter is one of them speaking and representing her personal viewpoint of current circumstances. Somehow they support each other and that bond moves them all to a better life and circumstances as they go through some very hard times.
Reviewed by Joan Badie

For vacation reading at the beach, the book is just great.

The Sea Lady by Margaret Drabble

Friday, August 10th, 2007

 Reviewed by Carolyn Wood

The first half of this book might deter book lovers from continuing to the depths of this work where the waves of childhood memories reel in readers and ignite adult emotions in the main characters.  Readers can identify with personal growth in Ailsa Kelman and Humphrey Clark once they adjust to reading the name “Humphrey? in print.  It is not a name heard often in the U.S., though in this work it fits the protagonist like a hermit crab and the perfect shell. 

Character development builds on clues from the past that have bearing on adulthood experiences.  The author shares a lifetime of wonderment from the edge of the shoreline through narration by the “Public Orator.?  The Orator’s description of character relationships mirrors the scholarly description of sea creature behaviors.  Sea commentary alludes to human frailties and triumphs.   The author paints an engaging portrait of earth and sea representing two parts of the larger system of life.  The vivid descriptions of sea life may appear “over the top? or tedious, however as the story unfolds readers will be swept away by the rhythmic comfort of the dialogue.  Readers can feel the ocean’s presence through many descriptive passages. 

The Sea Lady is a fun read for the summer months when busy schedules impede visits to the water’s edge.

Plenty: one man, one women, and a raucous year of eating locally by alias Smith and J.B. MacKinnon

Thursday, August 9th, 2007

 Reviewed by Cheryl Rheiner
This is a month-by-month account of the 100-mile diet and its progression during the course of a year. The story is told in alternating voices by the authors and details their attempt to eat food that is grown and produced within 100 miles of
Vancouver, B.C. The year begins when they forage for a meal to feed a guest to their cabin in
British Columbia and decide to try to eat locally for a year. One of their first attempts to feed guests relying on 100-mile foods results in a meal that costs $128.87 and they realize how difficult and expensive the experiment might be. As the year passes they become creative, frustrated, bored but determined to see it through. They discuss reports, studies and research on the topic of eating locally and provide a list of readings and websites at the end. Each month’s chapter ends with a recipe. I think the idea of eating locally is a sound one but I wondered if I would be able to persevere with the foods that are available in our own 100-miles when the bounty of JerseyFresh is not available. If you are interested in the slow food movement this book is ‘food for thought.’ There is a website with additional information and a link to the 100-mile map at: