Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book #17 of 2010

"At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream: Misadventures in Search of the Simple Life" by Wade Rouse

As he turns 40, Rouse (Confessions of a Prep School Mommy Handler, 2007) admits to becoming “the ultimate cliché”: he’s mentally and physically exhausted, hates his job, and realizes there is a void in his life that the city is no longer filling. He and his partner, Gary, take a vacation in Saugatuck, Michigan, “a Midwestern Martha’s Vineyard,” and on the spot decide to sell their home in St. Louis and move to the woods. Rouse vows to become a “modern-day Thoreau” and sets out to follow 10 life goals, roughly along the tenets espoused by Thoreau in Walden, Rouse’s favorite book. Rouse chronicles the hilarious escapades of these “two neurotic urbanites” as they ensconce themselves in the woods without magazine subscriptions, malls, Trader Joe’s, HGTV, or lattes. Rouse feels like a Martian confronting the locals at the general store, and suffers extreme anxiety when attempting ice fishing and karaoke.

A funny memoir about a male (and gay) Carrie Bradshaw wanna-be trying to make it in the woods of Michigan. His descriptions of coastal Michigan and woods surrounding his home were great. Made me want to move to Michigan -- and I already live there. Rouse is at his best when he is being humorous. His description of he and his partner's first foray into Wal-mart is hilarious. However, his attempts at being a deep thinker along the lines of Thoreau miss the mark. He just comes off as disingenuous in his motivations and musings.

Next up: "Catching Fire" by Suzanne Collins. This is the second book in "The Hunger Games" series.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Book #16 of 2010

"The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss' young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives.

Wow, this is really a good book. It is listed as a Young Adult novel but I think adults will enjoy it just as equally. I had heard from a few friends that they couldn't put it down once they started reading it -- and it was the same for me. Once I got invested in the story, I couldn't put it down until I finished. Some of it is a bit graphic (the wolves near the end especially) and had me cringing. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I didn't find the romance to be overdone (unlike another popular teen series *cough* Twilight *cough*). I am looking forward to reading the next in the series - which I already borrowed from the library. I'm waiting a few days to start it though.

Next up for me: "At Least in the City Someone Would Hear Me Scream" by Wade Rouse.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Book #15 of 2010

"All We Ever Wanted Was Everything" by Janelle Brown

In Brown's withering Silicon Valley satire, a family wakes up on a June day to realize that patriarch Paul's company has hit the big time with a phenomenal IPO. But instead of rejoicing about being newly rich, the family's three women each find themselves in the throes of a major crisis. Paul has fled with his new amour, who happens to be wife Janice's tennis partner. Desperate housewife Janice discovers the soothing power of the pool boy's drug stash and sinks into addiction and denial. Meanwhile, 20-something daughter Margaret learns the price of living a Hollywood lifestyle on an artsy hipster's budget—gargantuan credit card debt. Finally, 14-year-old Lizzie wades deeper and deeper into a sea of adolescent trouble without an adult to confide in. From the ashes of their California dreams, the three must learn to talk to each other instead of past each other, and build a new, slightly more realistic existence—but not without doses of revenge and hilarity

I admit to being attracted to this book initially based totally on the cover art. I even found the first few chapters to be intriguing but then it all seemed to fall apart midway.

Brown initially sets up what could be a good character study as well as a commentary on greed/materialism. However, as the plot moves on beyond the initial setup, she seems to become bored with it all. She starts to use her book as a platform to poke fun at all the things she disdains - which can be good when done well. Unfortunately, her manner ends up being childish and overdone.

By the end, the characters seemed like pathetic and grossly exaggerated versions of their original selves. Don't waste your time reading this book liked I did.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A chip off the ol' block!

Jacob: "I want McDonalds for dinner."
Me: "If you eat lots of McDs you will get overweight and have bad cholestorol."
Jacob: "Right, I want to be just like you."
Me: "For the record, I don't have bad cholesterol."
Jacob: "Okay, I want to be just like Dad."

And just for that I will post this embarrassing picture of him taken when he was around three years old. Take THAT, you little wise butt.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Zombie Love or Book #14 of 2010

"The Forest of Hands and Teeth" by Carrie Ryan

Mary knows little about the past and why the world now contains two types of people: those in her village and the undead outside the fence, who prey upon the flesh of the living. The Sisters protect their village and provide for the continuance of the human race. After her mother is bitten and joins the Unconsecrated, Mary is sent to the Sisters to be prepared for marriage to her friend Harry. But then the fences are breached and the life she has known is gone forever. Mary; Harry; Travis, whom Mary loves but who is betrothed to her best friend; her brother and his wife; and an orphaned boy set out into the unknown to search for safety, answers to their questions, and a reason to go on living.

My first foray into zombie literature -- I wasn't sure what to expect especially from a YA novel. Mary is not a very likeable main character because she can't seem to put aside her own desires but perhaps that is her immaturity. She is, after all, just a child. I am hoping she develops and grows in the next book.

P.S. Zombies are way scarier than vampires. And no where near as cute ... unless you are into fetid flesh and missing body parts.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Book #13 of 2010

"Real Life & Liars" by Kristina Riggle

The Zielinskis, the dysfunctional family of Riggle's delightful debut, have some problems, even if things at Mirabelle and Max's 35th anniversary party—thrown by their three adult children—at first seem peachy. Soon, though, the cracks appear: daughter Katya's stuck in a loveless marriage and saddled with three bratty kids. Son Ivan's a struggling songwriter who falls for all the wrong girls, and the youngest daughter, Irina, is a free-spirited 21-year-old, knocked up by a man twice her age. There's just no more room in their lives for another problem, but Mirabelle has a secret—she's dying of breast cancer.
I came at this book with a bias -- I went to college with the author and we worked at the school paper together. That is part of the reason I held off on reading it for so long -- what if I hated it? Fortunately, I didn't hate the book. At the start, I felt like the characters were too stereotypical -- the hippie professor, the distracted writer, the Type A first born, the unloved middle child (imagine "Jan" from The Brady Bunch) and the free-spirited youngest. It bothered me until I realized that by presenting these stereotypical characters, Riggle made it easier for all of us to relate to them. I particularly liked her dual use of the first person and third person narratives - something that took me a bit to get used to but worked really well. Like other reviewers, it was nice to see the book not end neatly tied up. Lately it seems like most new novels want to end with a neatly tied bow. And as Riggle points out that is not "real life" and those who pretend it is are just "liars".

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Migraine and Book #12 of 2010

I have had migraines since high school. Sometimes I will get several in a short amount of time, sometimes I go years in between. This month, I have gotten two -- both appearing out of nowhere and knocking me out. The latest one was yesterday. I took a two hour nap mid-afternoon (meaning my medicine knocked me out) so of course I had trouble sleeping last night. Since the headache had mostly subsided, I was able to get some reading done.

"Who Do I Lean On?" by Neta Jackson
Gabby Fairbanks's husband locks her out and disappears with her sons, leaving her homeless and stunned. With her frail mother and a mutt named Dandy, Gabby must take refuge at the women's shelter where she works, trying to salvage the shattered pieces of her life. There, her new friends-including Lucy the bag lady and sisters from the Yada Yada Prayer Group-prop her up.

But a midnight intruder brings unwanted media attention to the shelter and threatens to undermine Gabby's chances of getting her sons back. Still hoping to put her family together again, Gabby puzzles over what to do with the warm attentions of a sympathetic lawyer who rebuilds her confidence and soothes her wounded spirit.

Having ended the first book in this new series with a cliffhanger, Jackson assured that I would have to read this follow-up book.

Gabrielle, her mother and her mother's dog have "evicted" by her pathetic and narcissistic husband because Gabrielle is not proving to be the supportive (read:doormat trophy wife) he desires. Even worse, he has sent their two boys back to Virginia without her knowledge. So where do they end up? The very homeless shelter where she works -- and that seemed to ignite the already smoldering issues in her marriage. A significant moment in the book had me crying (don't want to give it away) and that doesn't happen often. I think because so many readers were upset by the first book's cliffhanger, Jackson made an effort to tie up most of the lose ends. And because you can't please everyone I will say I thought she worked a little too hard at it.

Overall, it was a good read and I look forward to the next one.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Book #11 of 2010

What can I say, I am a machine.

"In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream"
by Eric Dregni

Eric Dregni’s great-grandfather Ellef fled Norway in 1893 when it was the poorest country in Europe. More than one hundred years later, his great-grandson traveled back to find that—mostly due to oil and natural gas discoveries—it is now the richest. The circumstances of his return were serendipitous, as the notice that Dregni won a Fulbright Fellowship to go there arrived the same week as the knowledge that his wife Katy was pregnant. Braving a birth abroad and benefiting from a remarkably generous health care system, the Dregnis’ family came full circle when their son Eilif was born in Norway.

In this cross-cultural memoir, Dregni tells the hair-raising, hilarious, and sometimes poignant stories of his family’s yearlong Norwegian experiment. Among the exploits he details are staying warm in a remote grass-roofed hytte (hut), surviving a dinner of rakfisk (fermented fish) thanks to 80-proof aquavit, and identifying his great-grandfather’s house in the Lusterfjord only to find out it had been crushed by a boulder and then swept away by a river. To subsist on a student stipend, he rides the meat bus to Sweden for cheap salami with a busload of knitting pensioners. A week later, he and his wife travel to the Lofoten Islands and gnaw on klippefisk (dried cod) while cats follow them through the streets.

Dregni’s Scandinavian roots do little to prepare him and his family for the year in Trondheim eating herring cakes, obeying the conformist Janteloven (Jante’s law), and enduring the mørketid (dark time). In Cod We Trust is one Minnesota family’s spirited excursion into Scandinavian life. The land of the midnight sun is far stranger than they previously thought, and their encounters show that there is much we can learn from its unique and surprising culture.

I enjoyed this book by Dregni as much as his memoir of his year in Italy ("Never Trust a Thin Cook"). This time he and his wife (pregnant with their first child) travel to Norway courtesy of his Fulbright Fellowship. He wants to discover his ancestral roots as his great grandfather came to America from Norway in the 1800s. As with his other book, there are the usual cultural and language barriers. His writing isn't award-winning but it is consistently good and humorous.

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I like to move it, move it!

If you know me, you know I like to move. Okay, maybe like is not the right word. Dave's job has given us (forced us) the opportunity to live in several different states in just nine short years. People ask if he is in the military and give me a quizzical stare when I say he is a metallurgist. (Frankly, I don't have a real clue as to what he does but metallurgist just sounds cool to say.)

After graduating from Michigan State in 1997 (wow, that was a long time ago), we headed out to Northwest Indiana near the border with Illinois. Our first apartment was in Merrillville, IN and then we had two houses in Highland, IN (one rented, one owned). While Indiana isn't a hotbed of excitement, we were young, child-free and within a 20 minute drive of Chicago.

In 2000, his employer at the time -- the now defunct Bethlehem Steel or "Ma Beth" as he liked to call it -- promoted him to a new job which required a move to Nashville, TN. Our house was in Murfreesboro - known only to civil war buffs - which is about 20 minutes south of Nashville proper. It was a small town close enough to a big town kind of like our set up in Indiana.

About two years into our Nashville stint, things started to go south for "Ma Beth" and Dave was lured away by another company. This company was headquartered in Michigan - specifically Grand Rapids. So in 2003, we headed back up north, now with baby Jacob in tow. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of exciting things to say about Grand Rapids Township. I made some friends but our neighborhood sucked.

Good thing we were there for only about two years before his company sent us (now with baby Molly AND toddler Jacob) to Louisville, Kentucky. This required a six month apartment stay before our house was ready (so glad Dave convinced me a third floor apartment was a good idea ... not). This time our house was in Fisherville, KY -- again about 20 minutes from the city.

We lived in our house for ... oh about two years ... before the company decided we should come back to Michigan. While all the other moves had seemed exciting and adventurous, this one was dreaded. I liked our house, we had good friends, a good church and an overall good life in Kentucky. But being the supportive wife I am (stop laughing), I took it in stride. Besides the schools are a lot better up here (really the only selling point -- it certainly isn't the alluring weather).

So now we are in Grandville, Michigan living in house #5 (but residence #8). Supposedly, this is it until he retires from the company. I am not holding my breath because I am pretty sure I have heard that statement before. Several times. Plus, I have developed a bit of wanderlust after all of the moves. Just about the time I start to notice how dingy the baseboards are and how the dining room could use a new coat of paint -- we move! I still find myself looking a and searching for houses in places we could possibly move (or not so possibly but it is fun to dream).

(Plus, of all the places we have lived, I don't think Grandville (Blandville) will ever rank as a favorite.)

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Hippos like to read ... Book #10 of 2010

What a horrible weekend of eating. I mean, the food was really good but for someone doing Weight Watchers it was horrid. It negated any weight loss I might have had if I didn't spend the weekend eating like a starving hippopotamus.

Not much I can do but get back on the wagon and eat better this week. I also gained a new book for the book count of 2010. If only reading burned calories, I'd be svelte!

"Family Affair" by Caprice Crane

In Crane's hilarious third relationship soap (after Forget About It), a divorcing couple fights for custody, not of a child or a pet but of an entire family. Layla and Brett Foster became high school sweethearts after her mother died and her musician father abandoned her in the care of Brett's parents. Their subsequent marriage appeared rock solid, but now, on the verge of 30, still immature Brett is a college football coach who begins thinking the thrill is gone. Somewhat clueless Layla is a pet photographer and co-owner of TLC Paw Prints with sister-in-law Trish, and just when Layla brings up the possibility of having kids, Brett blurts out his desire to divorce. In the ensuing domestic battle royale, Brett's family become Layla's fierce allies, and Brett turns jealous and furious when Layla files a countersuit for joint custody of Brett's family.

Oh my goodness, I wanted to like this book. I really, really did. In fact, I might have liked it but one of the main characters was such a tool it made me want to scream. I have no idea what Layla saw in Brett. He is a narcissistic twit to the very bitter end. So any enjoyment I might have had was negated by him. Sorry.

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

A busy weekend and Book #9 of 2010

The kids and I drove to Detroit to pick up my Mom for the weekend (she won't drive on the freeway ... or interstate as some of y'all call it). 300+ miles round-trip. Jake started swimming lessons again at the Y-M-C-A (I can't ever say that without singing). There was a trip to Target. And tomorrow our church is having a chili cook-off.

All in all its a busy weekend. So that's my excuse for my lackluster book review.

"The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl" by Shauna Reid

At just twenty-three years old, Shauna Reid weighed 351 pounds. Spurred into action by the sight of her enormous white knickers billowing on the clothesline, she created the hugely successful blog "The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl." Hiding behind her Lycra-clad, roly-poly alter-ego, her transformation from couch potato to svelte goddess began.

Today, eight thousand miles, seven years, and 175 pounds later, the gloriously gorgeous Shauna is literally half the woman she used to be. Hysterically funny and heart-wrenchingly honest, The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl includes travel tales from Australia to Paris to Red Square, plus romance when she meets the man of her dreams in a Scottish pub. This is the uplifting true story of a young woman who defeated her demons and conquered her cravings to become a real-life superhero to inspire us all.

A very funny memoir about a woman's struggle not only with her weight but her own sense of self worth. Anyone who has ever struggled to lose a significant amount of weight can relate to her story -- as long as you have an ounce of sense of humor. I will say that it was some what detrimental to my own weight loss struggle because she made me want to fly to Australia and eat all their treats. Fortunately, I don't have the money for a plane ticket. Or a Xanax to take to actually get myself on the flight.

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book #8 of 2010

"The English American" by Alison Larkin

Despite loving her English mum and dad dearly, Pippa Dunn — adopted as an infant from America — never feels she fits into her family. Her fear of abandonment has her looking for the wrong men, in order to leave them before they leave her. At the age of 28, Pippa goes to America seeking her birth parents: beautiful, artistic Billie and her married lover, Walt, who gave up their daughter for the sake of their relationship. The first blush of parental love is intoxicating, with Pippa seeing her traits in others and feeling truly free to express herself. Then reality (Billie’s possessiveness, Walt’s evasiveness) sets in, and Pippa faces the issue of nature versus nurture. Pippa’s long-distance correspondent through all this is fellow adoptee Nick Devang, but her true source of support is right in front of her.

Is this a great book? No. It is a good book though. I enjoyed the insight into British culture and laughed at some of the author's perceptions of America (and, consequently, Americans). I found myself increasingly annoyed by Pippa's birth parents -- especially Billie -- and wondered when she would see them for their true selves. A bit of a too tidy ending, but overall not a bad read. If I were giving out stars, I'd say three out of five stars.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Our prayers are with the people of Haiti in wake of the devastating hurricane. And while the power of prayer is a mighty force, donations are also needed. You can text "HAITI" to 90999 and $10 will be donated to the Red Cross' disaster relief efforts in Haiti. Or you can go to the Red Cross website and donate directly.

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" Matthew 25:40

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More adventure is awesome parenting moments ...

Molly (upon seeing her new ABC placemat): "What the hell is this!?" More proof that I am an awesome parent, in case you didn't already know it.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Hate is such a strong emotion, isn't it?

I know of at least one person who I would venture to guess hates me. (There might be a few more but for this post lets just talk about this one, ok?) Perhaps justifiably. I once had diarrhea of the mouth (stop laughing, maybe more than once) and pissed someone off. It was a flip and very ill timed comment. That person unleashed upon me a fury that was so strong, so deep and went so far back that I was roadkill by the time they were done.

Pick me up and throw me off to the side.

It was obvious this person had been internalizing some pretty ugly stuff for a long time. And not just against me -- though I sure did open myself up as a target.

Now your first response might be to tell me to apologize. I may even have done it at the time. But it was obvious that this person had issues that went beyond ... well me. So apologizing for the original act would most likely fall on deaf ears and re-release a tsunami of hate.

The sad part is that this hate has spread itself beyond me. This person lumped in some innocent people with me. Now there are divisions between people that never existed before.

Such a strong emotion behind such a tiny word.

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Book #7 of 2010

"In the Sanctuary of Outcasts" by Neil White

Before he was imprisoned for fraud in 1993, editor Neil White's life had been defined by dreams of wealth and status. Even in prison, he saved the scented strips from magazines to substitute for the cologne he loved. But his was hardly the standard minimum-security facility: Carville, in rural Louisiana, also served as the country's last leper colony. Once inside, White is pleasant and collegial with his fellow inmates. He applies his creativity and desire for approval to his prison jobs, which at first include chalking the dining room menu board (he adds puns and sketches) and creating ambitious garnishes for food. He finds comradeship not only with white-collar criminals -- a mafia lawyer, a crooked doctor -- but also with loud, brash-talking Link, who mocks him as boring, "the whitest man I ever met." His most important mentors, however, are the men and women confined because of leprosy, particularly wheelchair-bound Ella Bounds, who was forced to leave her family as a child, and whose good humor and gnomic wisdom astonish him.

The Hansen's Disease (formerly leprosy) patients at Carville are the true stars of this memoir. Separated and often cut off from their families, they spend their lives in isolation at the leprosarium in Louisiana. That prisoners -- even low risk ones -- are sent to live with them shows how little respect and concern they are given.

When Neil White is imprisoned there because of his white collar crimes (check kitting to hide his growing debt) instead of being repentant for the lives he has ruined -- including his, his wife's, his children, his parents and his employees -- he sees the opportunity to make more money in writing about the Hansen's patients. I spent the first half of the book being really pissed at White because while he seemed genuinely interested in the patients, he also still craved the fame and fortune that landed him in prison. There is no doubt he is a good writer - his descriptions of his fellow patients are humorous and pitying at times. However, White, like most prisoners, doesn't seem to think what he did was wrong.

Fortunately he has an epiphany about half way into his one-year sentence (perhaps it is his wife divorcing him) and finally seems to realize the mess he has made of his life and a lot of other lives. He also sees the leprosy patients not as fodder for his journalistic study - but people with their own lives, joys and pains.

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Book #6 of 2010 (or 5.5 depending on on how you count)

"Mennonite in a Little Black Dress" by Rhoda Janzen

At first, the worst week of Janzen's life—she gets into a debilitating car wreck right after her husband leaves her for a guy he met on the Internet and saddles her with a mortgage she can't afford—seems to come out of nowhere, but the disaster's long buildup becomes clearer as she opens herself up. Her 15-year relationship with Nick had always been punctuated by manic outbursts and verbally abusive behavior, so recognizing her co-dependent role in their marriage becomes an important part of Janzen's recovery (even as she tweaks the 12 steps just a bit). The healing is further assisted by her decision to move back in with her Mennonite parents, prompting her to look at her childhood religion with fresh, twinkling eyes.

Rhoda Janzen is a well-liked English professor at a local Michigan college. Knowing this fact, I had higher hopes for her memoir. It is the story of the end of her 15-year marriage and her return to the Mennonite community she grew up in. The events detailed are not necessary humorous -- her verbally abusive (and bipolar, to boot) husband leaves her for a man he meets on, she is seriously injured in a car accident and she can't pay the mortgage on her house. But she is quick with the self-deprecating humor to stop any feelings of pity. I especially enjoyed her stories of her mother and all her quirky habits (chugging tuna fish water, for instance). However, I found the flow of the book to be extremely disjointed at times. Events and stories were recalled at times that seemed to have little to do with the surrounding story.

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Saturday, January 09, 2010

Let's call this a half book and a fail.

I've been listening to the Little House series on my iPod at night. I loved the books as a child, so I wanted to re-listen to them as an adult. Did you know Laura was only one when they left for Kansas? And Carrie wasn't born until they got to the prairie? It doesn't take away from the stories to know that Laura used some creative license when writing them. I just like to know the whole story when I read a book - especially one based in fact.

When I went to order the next one from the library, I discovered there is a whole series of offshoots about Laura's Mom, Grandma and Great-Grandma. There are listed as historical fiction because very little is known about. I started with Little House by Boston Bay by Melissa Wiley. This is the story of Laura's grandmother Charlotte who grew up in Boston, Massachusetts in the early 1800s. The first book lays out the characters in her family including Laura's great grandma Martha who was born in Scotland. Because this is a series aimed at kids, its a short, easy read.

The fail part is the book I was trying to read "Asta in the Wings" by Jan E. Watson. It has great reviews so I really want to finish it but I just can't get into it. So I am putting it aside for now and moving on to another book.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

And the award goes to ...

I AM the worst mother ever. At least that's what my darling son told me.

Is there a ribbon or some sort of statuette that comes with this honor? Perhaps I should just make my self a t-shirt bearing the title.

"I'd like to thank the little people who made this possible ..."

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Book #4 of 2010

I am cranking 'em out like an assembly line ...

"Where Do I Go?" by Neta Jackson

Gabrielle Fairbanks has nearly lost touch with the carefree, spirited young woman she was shen she married her husband sixteen years ago. But when the couple moves to Chicago to accommodate Philip's ambition, Gabby longs for the chance to find real purpose in her own life.

A chance encounter with a homeless woman suddenly opens a dooor she never expected. The women of Manna House Women's Shelter need a Program Director--and she has the right credentials. Gabby's in her element, feeling God's call on her life at last, even though Philip doesn't like the changes he sees in her. But she never anticipated his ultimatum: quit your job at the shelter or risk divorce and losing custody of our sons.

Let me start out by saying that the character of Phillip is totally over the top. I can't imagine anyone that egomaniacal who isn't a Hollywood star or GQ model. His treatment of Gabrielle had me seething and I am anxious to see how Jackson rights this situation in the next book.

Overall, its not a bad book. Its a new offshoot of the Yada Yada series called "House of Hope". It has that typical Christian literature feel to it -- not really ground-breaking or particularly earth shattering. Just comfortable and easy. That's not a criticism because sometimes that is all I am looking for in a book. I think if you like this genre, you will be pleased with the book. And if you don't ... well go read "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies".

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Two Truths Thursday

I totally made that up. There is no such thing as "Two Truths Thursday" exceptin' I needed a catchy title.

First, I now understand how people can fall asleep sitting up. I may even fall asleep sitting up while typing this postttttttttttttttttttt .... zzz ... What? Huh? As I was saying between the cough syrup, Nyquil and cold, I feel whipped.

Second, I am feeling all Southern today when looking at the snow. What do I mean by that? Well when we lived in Tennessee and Kentucky, the mention of snow caused the entire state to go into a tizzy. People stocked up on basic goods and hunkered down for the "blizzard". (Which usually amounted to about an inch but as one fine Southern gentleman told me "we got hills make drivin' hard" because everything north of the Mason-Dixon line is flat, of course.) So today we are getting a decent snowfall and I don't want to go out. Which may or may not be a direct result of #1 on this list.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Book #3 of 2010 ... or How I Almost Lost My Mind.

My third book of the new year is ...

"Hillbilly Gothic" by Adrienne Martini

Let me preface my review of Martini's memoir of her battle with postpartum depression with my own tale. In February 2002, I was nine months pregnant and anxiously awaiting the arrival of my first child (now known as Jacob). I had many delusions about parenting that are common to those who actually have no idea what it means to be a parent. I had dreams about blissful days filled with leisurely walks and a cooing, content little baby.

What I got was a screaming, red-faced (albeit adorable) little guy and my own personal descent into Hell. If Jacob was awake, he was crying or otherwise making his miserableness known to anyone within a one mile radius. (Seriously ... my neighbors later told me they considered not having kids after hearing the sounds coming from our house.) I was a sleepless wreck. Add to it a decent case of postpartum depression where thankfully instead of turning on my son I decided two things were wrong in my life: breastfeeding and the help from my husband (or lack thereof). I stopped nursing and for all intensive purposes my husband "checked out".

I imagine living with a wife who could turn from placid (not happy, just there) to raging maniac was not an ideal situation for him. I also know he was overwhelmed by the fact that our life was upended. (Truth be told, my husband enjoys being the center of my attention -- a place that for good or bad was replaced by a needy, crying newborn.) It took a good year for my family to get itself righted again (it certainly helped that around ten months Jacob decided to sleep for more than two hour stretches AND we figured out he had reflux.)

So all this background is to say I could understand Martini's experience one hundred percent. Even down to coming from a family where both mental illness and the associated evils run rampant. (My father is a bipolar alcoholic with a penchant for gambling away ... oh mortgage and federal tax payments. He comes from a long line of alcoholics with mental illness. Lucky me, I won the genetic lottery!)

Martini's account of her Appalachian background and family's mental illness is not pretty. Her own descent into "madness" actually made me physically hurt for her. That's not to say she sets herself up to be pitied. Far from it. She recognizes that her story is a common one and because there is still a stigma associated with all mental illness, especially postpartum depression and its darker sister postpartum psychosis, it is a necessary story.

I can't say that I recommend this book to everyone - its a tough story to read. But if you do choose to read it I don't think you will be disappointed (and you might even be a little more understanding for having read it).

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Sunday, January 03, 2010

I married Grizzly Adams!

Dave and a co-worker decided to grow beards over the holidays. The fur growing on Dave's face started back around Thanksgiving. I don't mind though Jake thinks it is too scratchy. Dave and aforementioned co-worker intend to shave off their beards (at some point) and go with a mustache for a week. That I won't like.

So for now, I sleep* with Grizzly Adams.

* Not entirely true since usually I sleep with the kids and he sleeps on the couch bed but that's a dysfunction for another day.

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This was not my intent ... Book #2 of 2010

I didn't mean to have back-to-back posts about books I have read. And since I am battling the after effects of a migraine my thoughts on the book aren't running beyond "it was good". Sorry.

"There's No Place Like Here" by Cecelia Ahren

Since Sandy Shortt's childhood classmate disappeared twenty years ago, Sandy has been obsessed with missing things. Finding what is lost becomes her single-minded goal--from the lone sock that vanishes in the washing machine to the car keys she misplaced. It's no surprise, then, that Sandy's life's work becomes finding people who have vanished from their loved ones. Sandy's family is baffled and concerned by her increasing preoccupation. Her parents can't understand her compulsion, and she pushes them away further by losing herself in the work of tracking down these missing people. She gives up her life in order to offer a flicker of hope to devastated families ... and escape the disappointments of her own.

Jack Ruttle is one of those devastated people. It's been a year since his brother Donal vanished into thin air, and he has enlisted Sandy Shortt to find him. But before she is able to offer Jack the information he so desperately needs, Sandy goes missing too...and Jack now finds himself searching for his brother and the one woman who understood his pain.

One minute Sandy is jogging through the park, the next, she can't figure out where she is. The path is obscured. Nothing is familiar. A clearing up ahead reveals a camp site, and it's there that Sandy discovers the impossible: she has inadvertently stumbled upon the place-- and people--she's been looking for all her life, a land where all the missing people go. A world away from her loved ones and the home she ran from for so long, Sandy soon resorts to her old habit again, searching. Though this time, she is desperately trying to find her way home...

I love the concept that the things we lose in life -- pens, socks and even people -- have all found their way to a place of lost things. That the people who find themselves there set up their own society with established rules makes it even more fascinating.

Now if I could just visit temporarily to get that darn gift certificate I lost back in December 1998, I could get Dave off my back.

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Happy Reading in 2010

I am going to try and keep track of the books I read throughout 2010. Hopefully will it not only fulfill my OCD need to keep lists of things - but perhaps you will discover a book you might want to read. Or not read depending on the review.

So my first book of 2010 (finished just short of midnight on January 1) is ...

"The Heroines" by Eileen Favorite

I loved this book! While the ending leaves you wondering "how would that happen" the whole book is based on a fantastical premise anyway - so why not!

Penny lives with her mother in their bed and breakfast in rural Illinois. She has never known her father but is told he was a high school football star who died at 17 never knowing he had a daughter. Hard enough for a young girl but her life is further complicated by the unusual guests of their bed and breakfast -- heroines from various novels throughout history.

While the mental hospital scenes are disturbing, it was necessary to provide some fragility to Penny's character. Penny is - in effect - one of the heroines who visit the house. And aren't all heroines at some point driven to brink of sanity? She stands in strong contrast to her mother who seems to be a passive bystander of all the events. (Except, of course, until the end when the reasoning for her passivity is explained.)

A lot of reviews I read complained that the heroines weren't utilized enough. I say hogwash. Their presence was there to merely further Penny's story. She is the heroine of this novel, not them. I say if you want to know more about them, read the original books in which they appear.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Is this where I ...

... bore you to tears with my resolutions, goals and visions for 2010?

Let's see I would like to swear less, like people more, be more patient with my kids (or find an Rx that gives me medicated patience), the typical lose some poundage and if I have some extra time possibly discover the solution to world peace.

Sounds about right.

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