Orphan Train; Christina Baker Kline

A teenaged foster child meets a 90 year old woman while doing community service and hears her story of being an orphan and being shipped across the country on the “orphan train”. Chic lit – but interesting story.

PJH rating: ***1/2

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I’m retiring this blog

I am retiring this blog.  I have copied all my past posts to EatOnEdgecliff.com and will be posting everything on there going forward.  Cheers.

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The Invention of Wings; Sue Monk Kidd

Historical fiction novel about two sisters who grew up in a slave owning Charleston family in the early 1800’s and eventually became abolitionists in the North.  The novel goes back and forth between the point of view of the older sister, Sarah Grimke, and the slave, Hetty, that was given to Sarah as her personal slave on her 11th birthday.  Enjoyable book to read that I would recommend, yet another awful example of the history of our country.

PJH rating: ****

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Silent Wife; A.S.A. Harrison

A seemingly oblivious wife sits in her Chicago penthouse as her as* ho$# husband sleeps around and gets another woman pregnant. Murder ensues.  I’m not sure why or how I finished this as it was trash.  Supposedly this year’s Gone Girl but it was just awful.

PJH rating: **

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette; Maria Semple

Bernadette is a reclusive ex very famous architect who lives in Seattle as part of an uber couple with her high powered Microsoft husband and their teen aged daughter.  Bernadette goes missing after a great series of events involving her past history and her present craziness.  I have avoided this book as I thought it was trashy chick lit… but I loved it and read it straight through all last Sunday.  It would be a great beach book. Chick lit I suppose… but a great, fun, satirical story told in an original way.  Highly recommend.

PJH Rating: ****1/2

 

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We Are Water; Wally Lamb

A woman is getting remarried to another woman sets the present time for the story of a family told from the viewpoints of the different family members.  The mom, who grew up an orphan after a flood killed her mother and sister and turned her father into a drunk; her ex-husband who is a psychologist but recently retired early; their three children etc etc.  Lots of different stories.  I have enjoyed all of Wally Lamb’s books, I thought this novel was OK, but found it a bit forced at times.

PJH Rating: ***1/2

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The Interestings; Meg Wolitzer

Six teenagers make a pack at their performing arts summer camp in the early ’80s to always be friends.  The novel centers around Jules, one of the six who isn’t quite as “interesting” as the others and follows her and the other six throughout the following decades.  I enjoyed it but felt it was a bit long and boring in parts – especially the end.  It would have been better if edited down a bit.

PJH Rating: ****

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Pittsburgh – 3/1-3/2/2014

Courtney and I were watching a show on Showtime on Thursday night called “Another Day Another Time – Celebrating the Music of ‘Inside Llewyn Davis'” that was a concert with all different groups playing music from the film and other music of that genre. We saw the film in December and I would give the film a B-, just OK.  The Showtime special however, was REALLY good with many of our favorite artists and some new ones that I have already been checking out on Spotify (love our premium Spotify subscription).  We really were digging the Avett Brothers on the show – real standouts – so while we sitting watching we were checking them out on our tablets and found out that they were playing in Pittsburgh that coming Saturday along with Old Crowe Medicine Show who we saw in Troy this summer and really liked.  So…. then and there we decided to road trip to Pittsburgh – bought our tickets and booked a hotel while sitting on the couch.  A+ for spontaneity Patrick and Courtney.  Saturday was also my Birthday so we were looking for something to do I must say.

We left Euclid around 8:00 AM on Saturday entrusting the girls to Claire for the evening and made our way to Steeler country. The drive to Pittsburgh was nice and easy, only a bit more than two hours.  Our first stop was to the Frick Museum which has been on our list for a long long time since going to the Frick in Manhattan which is one of our favorites. The museum is the preserved estate of Henry Clay Frick, a 19th century Industrialist and one of the founders of US Steel – a real bastard after reading about him, but he did have good taste in houses and art.  We bought tickets for a tour of the house and while waiting for 30 minutes for it to start we checked out the car and carriage museum that is part of the complex.  While I’m not one for car museums, they did have some beautiful old cars and carriages that have been beautifully maintained.  The tour of the house, Clayton, was really amazing though.  We happened to be on a special tour that focused on Frick’s art in the house and his early collecting.  Everything in the house is original and is beautifully maintained.  Beautiful wood, furniture, plaster… everything.  Our tour guide was really knowledgeable and we learned a lot about 19th century American art.  We would like to go again and go on the “regular” tour to hear more of the history of the house and the architecture.  After our hour and a half tour we checked out the greenhouse and the separate art museum that Helen Frick – Henry Clay’s daughter and fellow art collector – built on the property when she moved back to the estate in her later years.

A few pix from the internet:

Clayton

The Dining room – amazing.

Courtney in the greenhouse. Beautiful swiss chard.

We then made our way to Downtown Pittsburgh, just 10 minutes away, to explore and find somewhere to eat.  After creatively finding somewhere to park downtown we ended up at a nice Italian place on Market Square called Il Pizzaiola that was really great.  We had “Its Vacation So Lets Have Beer For Lunch”, an order of super fresh calamari, and then we split a pizza Margherita and a big salad.  perfecto.  I had some sort of Italian draft porter that was brewed in oyster shells or something like that that was superb.  I asked our waiter to write the name of it down as it was so good but of course I lost the piece of paper.  After lunch we walked around a bit, checking out the old buildings, walk down to the river where an old Fort was and you could see the stadiums across the river and then walked back up.  I don’t think I have ever been in downtown Pittsburgh before.  Reminds me of both Cleveland and Cincinnati… maybe not quite as downtrodden?

We found our car and made our way to our hotel, Hilton Garden Inn Pittsburgh University Place on the University of Pittsburgh campus as that is where the concert was going on.  Nice recently re-done hotel, hopping place full of concert goers.  We relaxed for awhile, walked across the street to the IGA to get some pre-concert beers and snacks, and then walked to the concert around 7:00PM.  The arena was up a long steep hill and then once we got there, will call was up about 4 levels of steps.  We eventually made it in, found our seats and enjoyed the show.  Both groups were great.  It looked to be pretty much sold out.  We had bizarre seats that were one row of seats in some sort of club section.  There was nobody behind use so we were able to stand up, use the tables there and watch the show. It was nice.  The concert lasted until about 11:00 and we walked back, stopped at McDonalds on the way for a quick cheeseburger and made it back to the hotel.  Tired but happy.

View of stage

The next days a blizzard was on it’s way to Pittsburg so we decided to hit the road right away at 7:30AM and not risk it.  It was already snowing a bit but not too bad.  As we made our way north the snow got heavier but was never too bad.  We were going to stop at the IKEA outside of Pittsburgh but we decided not to risk it.  We did stop at the Original Pancake House on Chagrin though on the way home and had a nice breakfast, stopped at the Whole Foods for some stuff and made it home before 11:00.

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The Goldfinch; Donna Tart

A teenage boy’s mother dies when they are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a terrorist bomb goes off.  The boy ends up taking “The Goldfinch” – a priceless 17th century painting-  in his dream like escape from the museum.  The novel follows Theo for the next few decades and his adventures that are always haunted by his possession and obsession with the Goldfinch.
A top novel on most fiction lists for 2013.  It is quite a hefty one, 900 pgs + on Overdrive, but I enjoyed it and have been pretty wrapped up in it all week long with my week long cold.  It is completely amazing to me the talent someone has to come up with a story like this out of thin air and to write it in such an eloquent way.

I love the last paragraph:

“That life – whatever else it is – is short. That fate is cruel but maybe not random. That Nature (meaning Death) always wins but that doesn’t mean we have to bow and grovel to it. That maybe even if we’re not always so glad to be here, it’s our task to immerse ourselves anyway: wade straight through it, right through the cesspool, while keeping eyes and hearts open. And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.”

PJH rating: ***1/2

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Me Before You; Jojo Moyes

Set in small country village outside of London, Louisa becomes the caregiver for Will who is a quadriplegic after being a successful businessman and athlete.  Louisa learns that Will wants to end his life via assisted suicide and tries to make him less depressed so he will change his mind.  Chic lit but not terrible.

PJH Rating: ***1/2

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