Monday, July 30, 2012

August's Group Read...

For August, we will be reading, "Looking for Alaska, " by John Green! Discussions will be on August 17th and 31st.  I do not have the book yet (waiting on the library), so I can't tell you exact chapter breakdown.  But, just assume to break it into half.

Description: Miles Halter is fascinated by famous last words and tired of his safe life at home. He leaves for boarding school to seek what the dying poet Francois Rabelais called the "Great Perhaps." Much awaits Miles at Culver Creek, including Alaska Young. Clever, funny, screwed-up, and dead sexy, Alaska will pull Miles into her labyrinth and catapult him into the Great Perhaps.

Looking for Alaska brilliantly chronicles the indelible impact one life can have on another. A stunning debut, it marks John Green's arrival as an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

Can't wait! Who is planning on joining us?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cutting for Stone - Final Discussion

Welp, that was a loooooooong book! ;) I'm glad I read it though.  It had it's slow moments but it definitely picked up.  I loved the story.  I could totally picture Marion in the U.S. doing his residency.  And man, was Genet bad news bears or what? Very nice story.

There was a bit of description that I skimped over.  I'm not big on descriptions and some of the med stuff bored me, but the overall story intrigued me.

1.Did you like the book? Why or why not?

2. Abraham Verghese has said that his ambition in writing Cutting for Stone was to “tell a great story, an old-fashioned, truth-telling story.” In what ways is Cutting for Stone an old-fashioned story-and what does it share with the great novels of the nineteenth century? What essential human truths does it convey?

3. Marion observes that in Ethiopia, patients assume that all illnesses are fatal and that death is expected, but in America, news of having a fatal illness “always seemed to come as a surprise, as if we took it for granted that we were immortal” (p. 396). What other important differences does Cutting for Stone reveal about the way illness is viewed and treated in Ethiopia and in the United States? To what extent are these differences reflected in the split between poor hospitals, like the one in the Bronx where Marion works, and rich hospitals like the one in Boston where his father works?

4. In the novel, Thomas Stone asks, “What treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?” The correct answer is “Words of comfort.” How does this moment encapsulate the book's surprising take on medicine? Have your experiences with doctors and hospitals held this to be true? Why or why not? What does Cutting for Stone tell us about the roles of compassion, faith, and hope in medicine?

5. To what extent does the story of Thomas Stone's childhood soften Marion's judgment of him? How does Thomas's suffering as a child, the illness of his parents, and his own illness help to explain why he abandons Shiva and Marion at their birth? How should Thomas finally be judged?

6. If you were Marion at the end of book, would you stay in Ethiopia or go back to the US? Or somewhere else?  Why?

Any other thoughts on the book?

Thanks for participating! Hope to see you back in August!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Worst Thing About Getting a 'smart'phone

My lack of photos of my kid on my computer to share.  Ha ha.  I NEVER take pictures with my camera anymore.  1) My camera takes better pictures than my Kodak 2) hauling out the DSLR is a pain in my arse since I never got around to learning how to use it.  That's my husband's territory.

I need to remember to move the photos/videos onto my computer because I know I will be KILLING myself someday if I don't have it.  She was 14 months old yesterday!  How the heck???

She is so stinkin' happy, except for when you tell her she can't go outside.  Then she gets pissed.  I'm kind of anxious for today because it rained last night and it looks like a crappy/rain day today so far and she doesn't always understand we can't play outside.  Thankfully, she will settle for a stroller ride if I can sneak one in!

She has at least 8 teeth and has been working on some molars for awhile, but I can't really get my fingers in there and you can only see so much when you are hanging her upside down. ;)

She loves eating food.  Her favorites include, bread, peas, corn, sweet potatoes, chicken stir fry, couscous, rice, bananas, eggs, waffles,blueberries, enchiladas, tacos, pulled pork, watermelon, strawberries.. etc.. Honestly? There isn't much she doesn't like ha.  She actually even ate green beans in our stir fry the other night and hadn't really done that before, so I was impressed.

She eats a LOT at breakfast.  Like, way more than me.  A typical breakfast lately has been an egg, piece of toast, blueberries, cheese, milk and usually some strawberries or a graham cracker at the end if she looks like she is still starving or I'm still cleaning up!

She loves books, listening to music and head bopping, playing with her hippo or dino ball bouncer, climbing ON EVERYTHING, falling down on her butt, looking out the window, being outside, swimming! (she loooves the water, but not so much being contained in a float, she wants to swim!) and she loves being the center of attention.

I love watching her watch people talk.  She doesn't like to really say much besides daddy, hi, mama and a lot of babbling but she has great comprehension of what you are saying/telling her to do.  It's amazing to watch.  She also apparently thinks waving her arms means, bed time, go out side, food time, let's move, etc...

She also much prefers crawling than walking.  She will actually start walking, get a look on her face like wtf, and immediately drop down and speed crawl.  She's a stinker.  An adorable stinker!

She is also in that awkward in between 1 or 2 naps a day stage.  But she's been sleeping AMAZING at night.  She will either take two naps, with one being 1-2 hours and another being the same or a bit longer or one name that lasts about 2 or 3 hours.  Pretty nice.

Anywhoo.. I really need to work on uploading photos from my phone. ;P

Happy 14 months baby girl!

Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm not Scared

We read this for our third Books & Bars meeting where we met, not at a bar, but on a pontoon. ;) Perfection. 

Michele is a 9 year old Italian boy who is very innocent in a sweet like way who comes across another young boy being held prisoner.  By his father and the other adults in their tiny community.  WTF is right. 

His little friend turns on him, his dad finds out he knows and he gets a new bike.  The ending is abrupt and leaves you wondering, which is kind of nice in a world of neatly tidied up endings, but still it's just bizarre.

It wasn't the worst book I've read, but it wasn't that great. It was short (just around 200 pages) and was written in the POV of a young boy, which was interesting and maddening at times when you'd forget and be like DUDE TELL THE POLICE.  WTF ARE YOU DOING???? ;)

When talking about it, nobody was IN love with it.  And I hadn't noticed how bad the translation was until we started talking about it and realized that little washbears = raccoons among other interesting tidbits.  Like, they kidnapped a freaking prince!

It was a great discussion and a good time by all, next month we are reading The Drowning Tree.

Also, don't forget to vote in the poll in the side bar for the August Group Read!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If My Summer Had a Playlist...

Anyone latch on to music in the summer? I love it.  Maybe it's from all the local live music going on or that we are outside listening to records/music in the pool or by the fire, but summer screams fun music. 

So if my summer were to have a playlist, these songs would be on it...

1. Springsteen - Eric Church ("melody sounds like a memory..." need I say more??)
2. Drunk on You - Luke Bryan ("drunk on youuuu.. high on summertime.." ahh, yes)
3. Even if it Breaks Your Heart - Eli Young Band ("keep on dreaming even if it breaks your heart.." brings me back to soo many young summertime memories!
4. Come Over - Kenny Chesney ("I told you I wouldn't call,  I told you I wouldn't care.." and even more bad decision making of summer's past!
5. Pontoon - Little Big Town  ("party in slow motion out here in the open mmmmmmm motorboatin'" just about the ONLY thing to do in Summer!)
6. Fire and Rain - James Taylor

I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again

There is just SOMETHING about belting out those lyrics that I enjoy.  Love me some James Taylor. 
7.  Somethin' Bout a Truck - Kip Moore

Something about beer sitting on ice
After a long hard day makes it taste just right
On that dropped tailgate on a summer night
Something about beer sitting on ice

Something about a girl in a red sundress
With an ice cold beer pressed against her lips
In that farmer's field, will make a boy a mess
Something about a girl in a red sundress

YES PLEASE!! Ahh, how I love this song! I just want to grab a beer, make a bonfire and drink with my friends!
8. Don't Stop Believin - Journey  ("Just a small town girl living in a looonnnneeeeely worldddd!")  I think this song is on like every list I ever make, because Journey is amaaazing. 
9.  Bama Breeze - Jimmy Buffett

At the Bama Breeze
You can shoot some pool down there
You can act a fool down there
You can play it cool down there

At the Bama Breeze
You can drink some beer down there
Argue laugh and cheer down there
Pass another year down there

This is my favooorite Buffett song.  I hope he sings it for me in a couple weeks when I see him at Comerica Park.  And I can I just brag that our seats are on THE MOTHER EFFIN FIELD?? AHHHHHHHHH!!!!
10. Any song by Three Dog Night - We have a few records of theirs and I cannot come up with my favorite.  I looooove listening to them when we are hanging out in the backyard!
11.  Feel Like a Rockstar - Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw

Do you smoke, do you drink
Do you yell out, "Hank"
Do you fold it in your pocket
Do you lock it in the bank

Do you jack it up, or drop it down to the ground
Put the juice in the goose
Or the Coke in the Crown

Whatever makes you feel like a rock star
Yeah, you can kick it back chillin'
Or you can rock hard
You busted your ass all week
And now, it's your time to be
Whatever you wanna be
You can dress to kill, you can shoot to thrill
Try to seal the deal
Whatever makes you feel like a rock star

I generally feel like a rockstar all summer long. ;)

I love 70s/80s and Country and in the summer that is basically alll I listen to! Yay Music! 

What would be on your summer playlist?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Suggestions for August's Group Read!

Ahhh, I feel like I say this every month, but AUGUST? ALREADY? Summer is almost over. Waaaaaah.  Well, I'm looking forward to one more month of more free time to read!

Here is what we've already read/discussed..

Cutting for Stone
One Summer
The Year of Fog
Winter Garden
The Violets of March
State of Wonder
The Invisible Bridge
The Postmistress
The Scent of Rain and Lightning
Still Missing
The Sandalwood Tree
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Something Borrowed
The Blue Orchard
Sammy's Hill
In the Woods
Shanghai Girls
The Weight of Water
Water for Elephants
The Color Purple
The One That I Want
The Secret Garden
House Rules
American Wife
Firefly Lane
The Reader
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Awakening
Pride & Prejudice
I See You Everywhere

What do you want to read in August? Suggestions will be open through the 19th and then I will add a poll to the sidebar! Hope you will join!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Meadowbrook Park

After our relatively short stop at Castle Park, we stopped by 7-11 for a quick Slurpee stop (free Slurpee day!!) and then set out to find our original destination, Meadowbrook Park.

Like I said, it's named after a street here and is most definitely NOT on that street.  I went one way, my friend went another and after multiple wrong turns by both of us, she located it.  We had to park on a side street, cross a busy road and then walk down the sidewalk to the other sidewalk to lead us to this park.

The reason we wanted to find this particular park is it boasts a babbling brook.  I was thinking a small little thing we could splash around in.

I thought wrong.  While there IS a babbling brook and it IS a quiet relaxing park and nice to look at, it's really nothing to write home about.  It is just over 3 acres and most of it is trees/overgrown stuff.  There is an open field that we sat on and played with bubbles for awhile but that was about it. 

The bridge it talks about over the babbling brook was kinda scary, but Isla enjoyed looking down at the water.  Cuz, yeah, there was no getting in that brook.  Very nice to look at, not little kid friendly.

It did make me jealous of the people that lived on the other side of the park.  I would LOVE a little brook (accessible!) in my backyard!

What's something you wish you had in your backyard?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cutting for Stone - Discussion 1

Wow.  This book had me worried for a bit, then it sucked me right in! Hope you are all doing well with this mighty loooong book! ;)

"God will judge us, Mr. Harris, by "- her voice broke as she thought of Sister Mary Joseph Praise- "by what we did to relieve the suffering of our fellow human beings.  I don't think God cares what doctrine we embrace." (pg. 188)

Matron is my kind of chick! ;)

"The sight of that plain, weathered face pressed against the glass, the wet cheeks, the interlocking fingers... it was for Harris more powerful than anything she had said.  Here was a woman who could give up the restrictions of her order when it stood in the way.  From her lips had come the kind of fundamental truth which, because of its simplicity, was unspoken in a church like Harris's where internecine squabbling seemed to be the purpose for the committee's existence, as well as a manifestation of faith.  It was a small blessing that an ocean separated the doers like Matron from their patrons, because if they rubbed shoulders they'd make each other very uncomfortable. (pg. 188)

I enjoyed this passage thoroughly.  Matron is my kind of people.

1. What are your opinions on the various doctors so far? Favorite? Least favorite? Thoughts on them?

2. There are a number of dramatic scenes on operating tables in Cutting for Stone: the twins' births, Thomas Stone amputating his own finger, and Ghosh untwisting Colonel Mebratu's volvulus,, etc. How does Verghese use medical detail to create tension and surprise? What do his depictions of dramatic surgeries share with film and television hospital dramas—and yet how are they different?

3. Almost all of the characters in Cutting for Stone are living in some sort of exile, self-imposed or forced, from their home country. Verghese is of Indian descent but was born and raised in Ethiopia, went to medical school in India, and has lived and worked in the United States for many years. What do you think this novel says about exile and the immigrant experience? How does exile change these characters, and what do they find themselves missing the most about home?

4. What does Cutting for Stone reveal about the emotional lives of doctors?

5. What passages strike you as insightful, even profound? Perhaps a bit of dialog that's funny or poignant...or encapsulates a character? Maybe comments that state the book's thematic concerns?

How is everyone doing with it? Hopefully, enjoying it! I will be putting the suggestion post up next week for August's read, so start thinking of ideas!  Thanks for participating and the last discussion will be on the 27th!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Castle Park

We hadn't intended to go to Castle Park, we were actually looking for another on the spur of the moment, lets go to the park trip, but since we stumbled upon it, we made it work.

Our local town has a guide to the 100s (YES 100s) of city parks and gives a bit description about them and the crossroads to use to get them.  The small problem with having SO many parks, is that some of them are basically just a big backyard.  Some are so old that there isn't much left to play with or what is there is SUPER old.  Also, our town is apparently not replacing stuff at smaller parks anymore, so that kinda stinks when you have a small child that gets trampled at the bigger well loved parks!

Anyhow, we were cruising a neighborhood in search of a park, and found the sidewalk wedged between two houses that had a city park sign, so we pulled in and walked down the path into a very large open area.  According to the website, it is only a 0.3 acre park, but it seemed rather large to me.  Maybe, because it was soooo wide open and maybe cuz part of it was actual backyards, but it seemed rather large.

The play equipment consisted of a nice looking basketball hoop, a set of low swings for older kids, a set of low swings for babies, an old backstop to a baseball field (maybe!) and a very old rickety slide.

Yeah, my friend may have down some editing to make it more creepy, but seriously!!! It was creepy! Isla enjoyed the swings while we used her trusty iPhone (gotta love technology) to try to locate the park we had been in search of.  Which, ironically, is named after a street (that we had been on searching for it!) but is not located on that street.  Nor, right next to it.  That just doesn't seem right ha.  More on that, park at a later date!

Overall, this would be a nice park to have in your own backyard, but not worthy of a repeat visit for us!

Have you ever visited a park and had immediate visions of a creepy 70s horror film?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What a week of horrid humidity taught me...

- The next child (if there is a next child) will have complete room darkening shades from day 1.  We put our daughter downstairs to sleep last week because we do NOT have central air and our upstairs was just too much.  The first night sleeping in the walkway between all of our downstairs rooms with all of the doors shut? She slept from 8:40 pm until 10:21 the next day.  The next day? 9:40 pm until 10:35 am.  That days nap? Over 2 hours.  Yes, please.

Now she normally is an excellent sleeper at night and naps well, and we also DO have room darkening shades but they are window by window and so there is still some light in the room.  But dang...

- Make friends with people who DO have central air.  Tuesday we spent all day at my moms, came home to a crockpot dinner and then headed out to a nice and sweaty beer ball field.  Wednesday we hit the lake for the 4th, Thursday we went family grocery shopping and Friday I spent half the day at a friends and half the day at my moms.

- Use my crockpot and grill.  We used the crockpot for  Monday/Tuesday and Friday's dinners.  We enjoyed Rotel Chicken and BBQ chicken sandwiches and my house did not get warmer.  Thursday we grilled burgers. Over the weekend? Grilled chicken/jalapeno/bacon/cheese sandwiches and burgers.

- Eat downstairs.  No need to sweat while we eat.

- My pool is the best thing ever, except for when you leave the solar cover on and it is warmer than my bath tub and cooler to just get out.  True story that happened on Thursday.

- Drink lots of beer, Jack Daniels and lemonade and forgetttttt about it!

Also? Best seat in the house is right in front of the window air conditioner.

I love summer but last week about killlllled me.  I want central air for Christmas! ;)

Don't forget to enter to win a free e-book copy of Section 132!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Section 132

I've teamed up with Partners In Crime Tours again and received Section 132 by Helga Zeiner to review.

    Lillian is only 13 when her parents marry her to a middle-aged Bishop of a fundamentalist sect who practices polygamy. She is forced to live with her new husband’s many wives and children on his compound tucked away in the Canadian wilderness.
    The hardships of poverty and isolation have crushed the will of just about everybody in his flock. They suffer in silent submissiveness, trying to please their despotic leader. He justifies the humiliating treatment of his dependents by citing ‘Section 132 of the Doctrine & Covenants’ of his fundamentalist religion.
    Until, one day, Lillian had enough. But it is dangerous to try and escape the Bishop’s iron rule. He practices blood-atonement, which is quietly sanctioned by the ‘Gatekeepers’, an American secret society within the Fundamentalist Mormon Church.
    Lillian must find out-side help if she ever wants to leave the Bishop’s compound – but how can she do this if she is locked up without any means of communication?
    Lillian doesn’t know how life outside a compound functions. She only knows that she can not live like this much longer. Many questions plaque her troubled mind.
    Why do her sister-wives put up with this hardship, knowing only a bleak future lies ahead of them? Where do the child-brides come from, the Bishop keeps adding to his family? Where do some of his daughters disappear to, once they come of age? Lillian’s defiance grows with every injustice she witnesses – until she can’t hide her rebellion any longer.
    Her desperate struggle to escape draws the reader into a very dark, very dangerous place. But not all is hopeless. When land developer Richard Bergman buys the neighboring property, Lillian’s luck seems to be changing … 

My thoughts:
I think this is the third book I've read about polygamous sects because I find them so fascinating.  I like reading about things that are different from what I know.  This book was horrifying, interesting and kept me engaged.  It was slow getting in to it, but around Chapter 44? I think it really picked up and I was really interested for a few chapters and then it kind of went blah again.  It swapped perspectives from Lillian/Martha (young girl forced into polygamous marriage) and Richard Bergman the developer.  I much preferred reading the sections in Martha's viewpoint.

Richard's character was just ehh.  It was hard to like him, hard to read his parts and I did a lot of skipping through.  Martha's chapters were far more interesting but I found myself skipping over stuff there too.  I think it was because I felt there were parts that got a little wordy.  When action was happening it was great, though some of the conversations between Daisy (Richard's assistant) and Richard were like riiiight, people don't talk like this.

I really enjoyed the story.  I liked that it focused on a young girl forced into the marriage (I don't like that she was forced into marriage but I appreciated the viewpoint and story) and told her evolving views.  I also like that it showed how hard it is to get away from that lifestyle especially when it is all you know.  Based on my other reads about polygamous marriage, it seemed accurate and equally as horrifying to me.  I also liked how the author had Richard feel like it was no big deal and that the women OBVIOUSLY chose to do it , so it can't be all that bad.  Um, right.. 

Overall, it was eh.  Good storyline, but the writing was not my fave. 

I do have a one e-book copy to giveaway.  If you would like the chance to win, just leave a comment and a way for me to contact you.  Giveaway is open through, Friday, July 13th. 

Have you read any books about polygamous sects? Do you think people should just leave them alone or should they try to give them information on leaving?

I received this book from Partners In Crime Tours but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Darkly Dreaming Dexter

I have heard A LOT about the televison series, Dexter.  I want to watch it, but the oppurtunity has not come about yet.  So as any good book nerd would do, I sought out the books.

I read the first Darkly Dreaming Dexter in about two days.  Dexter is a blood splatter technician with the Miami police and also a serial killer.  His foster sister is a police officer desperately wanting to make detective, but she has no clue how to work the politics of the police department.  Dexter tries to help her since he somehow has an uncanny ability to figure out how killers think.

The current case his sister wants to solve hits a little tooo close to home for Dexter.  The killer is leaving victims with no blood.  Something that Dexter himself does.  He feels this other killer communicating with his Dark Passenger and he WANTS/NEEDS to find out who it is so he can 'talk' to him.

I was pretty disappointed.  The writing was ehh, the story was ehh , everything was just ehh.. I think i had higher expectations.  I will at least read the second book cuz that's how I roll and god knows I may keep reading, but I wasn't blown away.

Have you read any in this series? Do you watch Dexter?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Still Alice

Wow.  I've put off reading Still Alice by Lisa Genova for a few years.  I was concerned that it would be too emotional for me, especially when my grandpa's dementia was having him plummet further and further away from us.  I was probably wise to stay away.

Wow.  We read it for our third meeting of our Books & Bars Book Club.  I even pushed it off until the weekend before our meeting.  Then I flew through it. 

Alice Howland is a Harvard psychology professor when she finds out she has early onset Alzheimer's Disease.  The book is written in Alice's prospective and readers get an insight to the things she forgets, (without noticing) repeats, or messes up.  It's just soo sad how fast Alzheimer's can strip a person of everything.  Their memory, speech, actions.  EVERYTHING.

I read in the back of the book that while doing research, Genova found out that over 90 percent of those diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's Disease considered suicide (which Alice does in the book).  She remarked that the normal 50 year old rarely considers it but 100 percent of those diagnosed have.  I can't even imagine knowing what is going to happen and then knowing you are losing it as the world continues 'non crazy' around you.

During our conversation we spent a lot of time talking about personal experience with dementia in our grandparents/parents.  It's so scary to think of it happening to you or someone you love.  Watching it happen is horrible.  It's something I've talked about with loved ones and it's not something I want to take over me.  After watching multiple family members suffer through, I know I don't want that to happen.  There is a point when I'd rather be dead.  It's been discussed.   I completely understood where Alice was coming from when she planned to take matters in her own hands and was heartbroken with her as she kept forgetting more and more.  Losing your memory is tough.

Does dementia/Alzheimer's run in your family? What would you do if you were diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers? Would you change anything?