Chew & Digest Books and an annex of Chew & Digest Books

Mortal Coils

Mortal Coils - Aldous Huxley I missed Chrome.

The Portable Dorothy Parker

The Portable Dorothy Parker - Dorothy Parker, Marion Meade The Audio version of "The Telephone Call" just had me in tears. It was the last story and after hours of snappish and witty fun, BAM, there is this story that I can so relate to told in a voice that sounds so much like mine, lost, in pain, desperate. My God, the best short ever least for any woman that has experienced a break-up or an uncertain relationship. I would love to say that I haven't felt that desperate for a phone call, that I hadn't started making deals with a God that I no longer believe in, or I haven't made deals with myself to wait X number of minutes, but I can't.

The Lodger

The Lodger - Marie Belloc Lowndes I remember the old film, The Lodger, as being more intense and suspenseful than this.

SheBooks ~ Out of Dublin by Ethel Rohan

Out of Dublin - Ethel Rohan

I tend not to like short pieces because they leave me feeling unfulfilled and wanting more. However, when I learned about SheBooks this was the first title that caught my eye. My Great-Great Grandparents came out of Ireland in the late 1800’s and settled in New York. Here was a contemporary emigration and not to the east coast, but to San Francisco, a city I have loved and lived in. I wondered why the author left and how she felt about NorCal. I worried that the short format wouldn’t allow me to grasp either answer.


Let me tell you, I cried. That’s right, Ethel Rohan was able to pluck my heart strings by bringing me back in my own time machine in less than 38 pages. It’s embarrassing; very few books make me cry, but this one had me balling and I’ll tell why.


This isn’t so much a story of going away as it is a story of coming home and taking care of those that took such wonderful care of you as a wee bairn. Rohan made every word count in recounting her childhood and the lengths she took to make her mother feel useful and uses just 4 teeny paragraphs to explain the burden that no child should have, little own, to themselves.


Fast forward to years later when first she loses her mother than perhaps the most heart wrenching of all, her father while back in Ireland. If was the most heartfelt, vulnerable, and touching few paragraphs of goodbye that I have ever read. Grab Out of Dublin if you love your family, if you have lost members of your family, or just because you could use a good cry. I did.


Out of Dublin by Ethel Rohan

Print Length: 38 pages
Publisher: Shebooks (May 12, 2014)
Use Promo Code BESTRATE to get 50% off your first individual Shebook purchase!


Unraveling Anne

Unraveling Anne - Laurel Saville Wow.

The Good Luck of Right Now

The Good Luck of Right Now - Matthew Quick Richard Gere? Really?

Let’s Sew Together by Rubyellen Bratcher

Let's Sew Together: Simple Projects the Whole Family Can Make - Rubyellen Bratcher

This summer has been all about sewing for me between opening an Etsy shop, The Bookish Owl, and making a ton of colorful aprons for a new business in town. Books are a great source for my ideas even if what I sew ends up looking nothing like what was on the page.


My roommate’s 12 year old son has been here a lot as well since school got out and we are always looking for things for him to do besides play video games. Seriously, you would think there is NOTHING except those damn games and reading, of course.

Now you may think that a boy wants nothing to do with sewing, but that is so not the case with him. He is a bit embarrassed, but realizes that it is not only a skill but a creative outlet that we can all do together. He has made plush animals and small quilts for gifts with a bit of help and I am always impressed and inspired by his choices.


Let’s Sew Together is the perfect book for the three of us.


The projects are cute and yet not babyish, they are good for both sexes, appeal to teens and tweens, and introduce some techniques that I never would have tried or thought of! He loves to draw, so we now all have slippers with his drawings on the area over the toes, done over with embroidery. A bracelet was also made for a certain girl that I can’t mention. (boy crushes are so cute)


The book also includes a few pages with something else we all need to work on, eating healthier. I didn’t think that anyone could get me to eat Brussels Sprouts, even on penalty of death, but the recipe included was edible, even good and didn’t make me think of teeny, tiny, brains, like the Sprouts usually do.


My only issue with Let’s Sew Together is that there weren’t full-sized patterns included. In fact, it was a royal pain to scan the pages and then enlarge them by the necessary percentages, anywhere from 330% to 770%! Others may be better at the process than my roommate and I, but we struggled and yet didn’t want to spend the money taking it to the pros at a place like Kinko’s.


It isn’t often that I can find a craft book, little own a sewing book, that appeals to both the tween and I, but the projects that Rubyellen Bratcher included were perfect and inspiring for both of us. It will have an important place in are arsenal of what to do INSTEAD of video games. And nothing can replace the joy of crafting and sewing together. The three of us feed off of each other creatively all the time. One has a problem, with a possible solution…then another has a better solution, then the third has just the right color to pull it off. The book complemented our synergy.


The 12 year-old will probably smack me if I don’t mention that his sewing doesn’t make him girly, it makes him a better catch.

Fetch the Devil: The Sierra Diablo Murders and Nazi Espionage in America

Fetch the Devil: The Sierra Diablo Murders and Nazi Espionage in America - Clint Richmond In short: It reminds me of my favorite non-fiction author, Erik Larson and that is mighty high praise coming from me.

Fever of the Bone

Fever of the Bone - Val McDermid While I think that the "twist" or MO of the killer has been done before in books and film, Fever of the Bone really nails the suspense and does it well.

Help for the Haunted

Help for the Haunted - John Searles left me haunted for little isolated Slyvie.

American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution

American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution - Harlow Giles Unger Quick and easy to follow.

Books that Are Actually Better on Film

The Bourne Retribution - Eric Van Lustbader


I just finished Eric Van Lustbader’s The Bourne Retribution (in audio format) and have his latest in the Bourne series ready to read on my Kindle.  (P.S. Isn’t that just one of the coolest names ever? Van Lustbader…it rolls off your lounge, oh never mind, you are no fun,)However, there have been a few books that I have either read of listened to lately that break the usual rule of “All books are better than movies”.  For 95% of books that is a tired and true  motto, but when it comes to high action fiction, in place that you have never been (and let’s face it, will probably never be) the movies can do it much more justice to the setting and the action.

Do not get me wrong, I love a few action series out there even though I consider myself far from a hardcore action fan in both books and movies. Let’s see, anything with Bourne in the title, I will read and/or see. No matter how embarrassing it is, I can’t pass on any of the screen versions of Dan Brown’s work….ah the locations are so beautiful.  There is also another series that I am starting feel fits in this category too and that is the Cotton Malone one by Steve Berry.  There are 14 books in that series and after a total overfill of reading and listening to them lately, they are all starting to blend together because I don’t get to see the great action or especially the exotic locations.

Let’s take The Bourne Retribution as an example.  Here’s the blurb. (okay wait, the blurb is long so I am going to truncate it a bit)

Bourne’s increasingly desperate search for Ouyang takes him from Tel Aviv to Shanghai, Mexico City, and, ultimately, a village on China’s coast where a clever trap has been laid for him. Bourne finds himself pursued on all sides and unsure whom he can trust. As he moves closer to Ouyang, closer to avenging the woman he loved, he also moves ever closer to his own death . . .

I have never been to most of these places so when an action sequence “shows” Bourne sliding down Shanghai tile roof tiles from building to building that are  so built so close together that he can practically step from one to another…I have no  frame of reference. Here on the central coast of California, in some areas it can be miles before you have another house and even in my slightly more populated area, there is still a pretty good distance between them and the difference in architectural styles, ages  and sizes make the whole roof to roof thing pretty much impossible.

I really didn’t enjoy this book as much because I just couldn’t picture it and it isn’t like I have a lack of imagination, it’s just when the main focus of a book is action and I can’t see it in my mind, I tend to nod off or skip pages.

Now I know that publishers and authors alike will hate me for it, but if ya’ll keep writing books like these, I am going to take a pass and wait for the movie.  Don’t hate the player, hate the game.  However, I do have one more Bourne book that I committed to read/mention and I will do so now.

Van Lustbader came out with #12 in the Bourne series called the Bourne Ascendency last month.


This time Bourne’s X-Treadstone boss is being held captive and it sounds great, but I may wait for the movie. It just does the work better justice. Or maybe it’s just that I like to see Matt Damon in action even though he is a bit short for me, not to mention married.

As for Steve Berry’s Cotton Malone series, I don’t think that they have been made into movies yet, but they should.

It might be a good time to mention to any movie makers out there that if a title has Die Hard in the title or Bruce Willis in the billing, I am all over that like white on rice as well and buying it when it comes out. Serious Willis Weakness Syndrome going one here, need a 12 step group.

Since I mentioned a few books here, I will break from tradition and just leave you a link for the Eric Van Lustbader Author Page

Sort of Like Gwen's Signature

Both of these books in the Bourne Series were provided by the publisher for honest reviews. I think we can all agree that I did that. 


The Winter People

The Winter People - Jennifer McMahon scary good

The Other Child: A Novel

The Other Child: A Novel - Charlotte Link This is a great old-style mystery where you have a new thought for who-dun-it with every twist and turn mixed with the modern-day ideas of divorce, loneliness, psychology, etc.

The only fault that I had, and I know it is really petty, is the main character and I share the same name and so far the same spinsterhood. (there is also something else, but no spoilers here)

Stone's Fall: A Novel

Stone's Fall: A Novel - Iain Pears This is a tough one to review (even in brief) and choose how many stars. The beginning was great and I was very quickly pulled into the characters and the mystery. Then the style changed and it turned almost into an epistolary form with the murdered victim from the beginning mystery going on and on and on and on about his life. I hung in until the beginning though and it was jaw dropping.

Not worth the what felt like millions of hours of over-detailed boredom that was the middle.

Andrew's Brain

Andrew's Brain - E.L. Doctorow One of my most painful to listen to audiobooks ever and it wasn't the narrator. The blurb says "we are led to question what we know about truth and memory, brain and mind, personality and fate, about one another and ourselves." and the book did none of this for me. It left me wanting to smack Andrew and his therapist. His story wasn't was quite ordinary; people have ups and downs all throughout life, not one person over the age of say, 30, hasn't suffered some sort of loss. What made Andrew different was his obsession with himself completely overshadowed any sign of compassion, if, he had any at all. It was all about him.

I grabbed this first because it was Doctorow and second because I have brain issues (AKA mental illnesses) of my own and thought that I would be able to relate or see my illnesses in a new way.
There was nothing, so much nothing that I NEVER write an actual review like this in any form on Goodreads. This is indeed a first.

I love Doctorow, but it was as if someone else was writing this or he was trying to be his own version of the hip navel gazing debut memoirs/novels that are trendy right now.

Someone very wise said "Stick with what you know." No idea whom, but Doctorow should have listened.

Currently reading

City of Endless Night (Agent Pendergast series) by Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child
Ballad of the Anarchist Bandits: The Crime Spree that Gripped Belle Epoque Paris by John Merriman
The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd, Julia Sarda
Seven Dead by J. Jefferson Farjeon
4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
Manhattan Beach: A Novel by Jennifer Egan
The Second Sister by Claire Kendal
Artful by Peter David
Hiphop Is the Future by Matt Dojny
Double Barrelled Detective Story, A by Mark Twain