Friday, June 28, 2013

Discussion --- Beach Music by Pat Conroy

Confession...  When Lisa suggested this I didn't look into it but assumed it would be chick lit because of the title and was like WTF, why would SHE suggest chick lit, but whatever it's summer, I'm game.  Then I glanced at the description after it was picked and I was like oooh, interesting, chick lit is about WWII and Vietnam, interesting.  Then I got to the library and was like, HOLY CRAP, it's HUGE, it's probably a horrible book.  Then I started reading and I LOVED IT! So, thank you Lisa and thank you to your friend because I really enjoyed this and may look into more books by him to see if they interest me.  Just another edition of, I like to judge books by their cover and their titles. ;P

Beach Music tells of Jack McCall, an American who moves to Rome to escape the trauma and painful memory of his young wife's suicide leap off a bridge in South Carolina. The story takes place in South Carolina and Rome, then reaches back in time to the Vietnam War era and the horrors of the Holocaust.

It is a novel that concerns itself with the loss of innocence. It is about the acquisition of self-knowledge and about learning to accept where we come from. It is about the eternal quest for forgiveness—seeking it in others, finding it in ourselves—so that we can begin to live again. Ultimately, it is about reclaiming the past in order to prepare a background on the canvas of the future from which hope can finally flourish.

Remembrance. Reconciliation. Redemption.

With resonant prose and unmatched insight, Conroy throws open all of the doors and windows on the human condition, revealing to us with crystal clarity the perils of the war without as well as the war within.

1.  Did you like the parts set in Rome or the parts set in South Carolina better? Have you been to either place? How do they compare?

2. Jack finds the South both alluring and repellent–to him it is simultaneously a place of great beauty and great danger. After hearing his story and those of his friends and relatives, do you agree with him? And do you think that Jack’s view of the South is informed by Pat Conroy’s own views?

3. For Jack, food is a comfort–almost a religion. What do the other characters hold dear, and what does it say about them?

4. If you’re familiar with Pat Conroy’s other novels, what parallels can you draw between the father-son relationships in his previous stories and Jack’s and Jordan’s relationships with their fathers?

5. Jack has so many brothers that, with the exception of John Hardin, they tend to blend together. Why do you think he has so many brothers? What’s their role in the novel?

6. When Capers tries to catch the gigantic manta ray on his fishing trip with Jack, Jordan, and Mike, he almost kills all of them. What’s the significance of his failure? Does it make him a tragic figure?

7. Betsy hates Jack. She says, “I’m trying to think where I met a bigger asshole.” What’s unlikable about Jack, and where do we see it besides in his treatment of Betsy? Do you think Jack’s flaws make him an unreliable narrator?

8. The two holiest men in the novel—Father Jude and Jordan–have both killed people. What does this say about the author’s vision of right and wrong? Can murder be justified? Can it be atoned for outside of a prison cell?

9. At the end of the novel, we find out that the Vietnam War was the event that ended up splicing Jack’s group of friends. Were the characters responsible for their actions, or were events beyond their control?

10. Did Jack make the right choice by forgiving Capers?

11.  What are your thoughts on the book?

Whew! That's a lot of questions, but it was a looooong book.  Please feel free to add any others you may have! Thanks for reading and discussing.  Next month we will be reading Where Did You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Last Week's Moving it Results

I was going to call it last week's workouts but umm that would be too generous of a title for what I did. ;)

Monday - 3.1 mile walk, 20 sit ups

Tuesday - 1.7 mile walk, 25 sit ups, a butt toner workout from Self Magazine

Wednesday - 1.7 mile walk, 30 sit ups, 1.5 mile bike ride (I just got the bike out very dusty and cobwebby after 3 years of non-use!)

Thursday - 1 mile walk

Friday - 1.4 mile walk

Saturday - nothing, but we had a wedding so there was dancing and no A/C so yuck, and we went into the pool when we got home but I don't know if I can claim that as a workout!

Sunday - nothing

On the very big positive side I did something every weekday last week! Woohoo! Now to keep it up! My main problem is that my walking buddy only likes about 2 miles in the stroller at a time and by the time my husband gets home at night it's hot and I don't want to walk far.  So I'm hoping to go on some bike rides at night and play time in the pool.

Do you listen to music when you walk or do you prefer to walk without music?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Folly Beach

Oh my goodness, this was a perfect summer/vacation book.  It is set on Folly Beach and man oh man did I want to start planning a trip there.  I just read Beach Music which was also set in South Carolina and man, I think I need to go soon.  Perhaps spring break.

Folly Beach by Dorothea Benton Frank is about Cate Cooper who is having a string of horrible events happen to her when she arrives back 'home' to Folly Beach.  Her Aunt Daisy owns many properties and has Cate move into the Porgy House, famous for being the house of the Heywards.

By Heywards I mean DuBoise and Dorothy Heyward.  Famous for Porgy and Bess and other literary works.  They wrote at their home on Folly Beach and hosted Gershwin in the summer of 1934. 

Within days of moving 'home' Cate's luck changes and good things begin to happen along with weird coincidences between her life and that of Dorothy Heyward, the houses previous owner.

I flew through the book and loved the humor, the writing, the plot, everything.  It was just a perfect book for me right now.  So I'd definitely recommend it if you need a vacation read this summer!

Have you read Folly Beach? Have you been to Folly Beach? Have you read any other books by Dorothea Benton Frank?

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Girl in the Green Raincoat

Once upon a time three/two years ago, I won a book called The Girl in the Green Raincoat.  At the time, I didn't realize it was the 11th book in a series and my OCD of reading series in order would not allow for me to read it though I was assured it could be a stand alone book.  And, after reading it, it COULD be, but after putting in the effort to read the 10 other books IN order, I would have been pissed to read this one first.  Also, why did it take me this long to finally this one when I've had it for three/two years and I read book 10 in this series in 2011? Um cuz, I was hoping Laura Lippman would have come out with another book and so when I finished it I wouldn't be done and totally caught up.  Crazy? I am.


Description: In the third trimester of her pregnancy, Baltimore private investigator Tess Monaghan is under doctor's orders to remain immobile. Bored and restless, reduced to watching the world go by outside her window, she takes small comfort in the mundane events she observes . . . like the young woman in a green raincoat who walks her dog at the same time every day. Then one day the dog is running free and its owner is nowhere to be seen. Certain that something is terribly wrong, and incapable of leaving well enough alone, Tess is determined to get to the bottom of the dog walker's abrupt disappearance, even if she must do so from her own bedroom. But her inquisitiveness is about to fling open a dangerous Pandora's box of past crimes and troubling deaths . . . and she's not only putting her own life in jeopardy but also her unborn child's.

Previously serialized in the New York Times, and now published in book form for the very first time, The Girl in the Green Raincoat is a masterful Hitchcockian thriller from one of the very best in the business: multiple award-winner Laura Lippman

It was worth the wait. ;) I love this series and I would continue reading it forever and ever and ever if there were more books.  Basically in the end, Tess is left wondering how she can be a good PI and a good mom and I WANT TO KNOW TOO. Because you can't just end like that... Please????? ;)

It's very short and I read it all during my daughter's nap the other day.  I found a couple spelling/grammar errors that irked me but hey, whateves.  Tess mentions a few times how her situation (bed rest, watching out her window with binoculars) is a lot like Rear Window, and I confess I have no idea what that is.  Horrible,, I know, but maybe it helped that I had no idea it resembled something else? Regardless, it was a quick read that had mystery and all my favorite characters in it.

I highly recommend the Tess Monaghan series by Laura Lippman if you ever want a little mystery, laughter and excitement in your reading!

Is there a series that you like? Have you read any of Lippman's standalone novels?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Midwife's Confession

This is the book that we picked for our Books & Bars for June and for as long as we discussed and looked things up on our phones trying to come up with a perfect book I think I had higher expectations for this.  I mean, it wasn't bad and if the ending would have been a bit different I may have just been able to say, yeah great book.  But the ending happened and I can't say that.  I CAN say that I read this in 2 days and it was a very fast read that sucked me in with the different viewpoints.

Dear Anna,
What I have to tell you is difficult to write, but I know it will be far more difficult for you to hear, and I'm so sorry-

The unfinished letter is the only clue Tara and Emerson have to the reason behind their close friend Noelle's suicide. Everything they knew about Noelle - her calling as a midwife, her passion for causes, her love for her friends and family - described a woman who embraced life.
Yet there was so much they didn't know.
With the discovery of the letter and its heartbreaking secret, Noelle's friends begin to uncover the truth about this complex woman who touched each of their lives - and the life of a desperate stranger - with love and betrayal, compassion and deceit.

After Noelle dies, Emerson and Tara learn many things about their 'best' friend that baffles them.  Which the first thing they learn that shocks them was a little hard for me to believe.  For 10-12 years, your 'best' friend was able to keep something THAT big a secret.  Heck, the other big thing they learned she was able to keep a secret for TWO DECADES?

I guess a central theme and one I struggled with is how do you not know some of these SUPER BIG things about one of your closest friends and is it possible to keep so many thing secret? And when it's all just a little too much then she kills herself with no real note of explanation.  I guess while writing all this out I have a few issues, but maybe my issue is just with the character and not really the book. 

Noelle and Sam's relationship makes me really wonder how 1) Noelle was able to be such good friends with Tara.  2) Sam could continue being a close friend to Noelle and being married to Tara and Tara not know all the history of Noelle and Sam.  I just don't know how you can do that to one of your 'best' friends. 

The ending issues I discussed were with how people reacted at the end when secrets were exposed (without giving away the ending, which I had already figured out, early on).  I just don't see mothers reacting quite that way in that situation.  But, it isn't me and everyone reacts differently, but I just don't see that scene going the way it did. 

I do really applaud the writing of the teen girl characters Jenny and Grace.  So spot on for teen drama.  They reacted to news in a typical teen way.  Without too much thought put into it.  They go with their gut and their immature brain and emotions are full display.  The way Grace tries to get her boyfriend Cleve back is such a low self-esteem teen girl thing to do.  Her reaction to Jenny telling her information that Jenny shouldn't share was so typical.  Teens thinking adults aren't going to tell them something so they take it into their own hands with not all the info and it can be a deadly mistake.  So in that aspect, I really applaud the writing.  Even though  it did make me want slap them, it was all very realistic.

I would recommend this book, especially if you do like quick easy reads and don't mind multiple perspectives.

Have you read this? What did you think? What would you have done if you were Noelle? If you haven't read this book, have you read any other books by Diane Chamberlain? Would you recommend it?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The No Good Horrible Complaint List

I need to get this out in my space so as to not totally go postal on the next person who crosses me.  It's one of those days.

- The United States is not China.  Excuse me while I laugh at you while you try to prove your political statement with comparing them. Also? Just because someone doesn't agree with a political party does not mean they are apathetic and know nothing.  I assure you random facebook commenter that there are even people YOUR OWN age that disagree with your political stance and my age has nothing to do with what I think/believe.

- If I try to be helpful and explain how you can get better customer service after you complain about crappy service and I have had experience with the company, do NOT just ignore me and go on your hormonal tirade.  I get it, you are pregnant and uncomfortable but listen to reason, I and the rest of the world beg of you.  It's an easy fix if you calm the eff down.

- Sticks need to be removed from all butts.  No one put you in charge.

- If I cannot fall asleep until 1:30 in the morning it is cruel that my 2 year old for the second night in a row wakes hourly from 3-7.  I like my hangover feeling earned.

- Allergies suck.

- I should not have frozen toes and fingers in the middle of June.

- I'd like to take a nanny on vacation so I can enjoy it too.

- Bloat can suck it.

- Weekend not week-end.

- And such.

- Complaining about something and then doing it to someone else.  Umm?  I just can't help you there.

- Lack of dental insurance.

Phew... I feel much better now.  What's annoying you right now? Basically, I need to stay off the Internet, hide in my room and just eat tons of carbs.  Instead, I am going to the park and buying a large ass cup of coffee on my way and eat a lunch of hummus and vegetables.  Here's to Hump Day! It is Hump Day, right? Ahhh...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

July's Group Pick...

By the magical picking powers of we shall be reading Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple.  On the very big plus side is that it's only 330 pages compared to our 800 in June's pick! ;)

Description: Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world

Sounds interesting.  Have you read it? Are you joining us? Hope you will! I will post a discussion on Beach Music on June 28th! ;)

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Currently: June

Stolen and adapted from Kyria. ;)

Current Book - Beach Music by Pat Conroy
 Current Walking Path - Anywhere near a local park.  I plot out a sidewalk path and then we go play!
Current Drink - Water

Current Excitement - Checking out various parks in our area

 Current Favorite Blog/Website -  facebook ha.

Current Garden Item - Our garden is a said state but we are getting some asparagus but nothing else for awhile.  Oh and we should be getting blueberries and raspberries this year!

Current Love - Summer vacaaaaaaaaaaation

Current Food - salami and cheese

Current Indulgence - Margarita flavored crystal light.. yummm 

Current Outfit - Comfy, comfy, comfy.  So yoga pants and a tshirt.
Current Song -  Boys 'Round Here by Blake Shelton

Current TV Show - I'm so excited that Rookie Blue is back!

Current Wish-List - pool weather and it is coming!!!
What's your favorite song and/or meal currently?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

July Group Read Suggestions

That time of month again!

What we've read...

Beach Music
The Dinner
The End of Your Life Book Club
Still Alice 
The Song Remains the Same
Those Who Save Us
We Are All Welcome Here
Gone Girl
Prisoner of Tehran
The Wednesday Sisters
Looking for Alaska
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/discuss in July? I will take suggestions through Sunday when I will use to pick!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

I've heard great things about John Green for the last few years and it took me until last summer to read one of his books.  He is awesome.  I've had Will Grayson, Will Grayson for quite some time and haven't gotten around to reading it, but this weekend I wanted a quick read before I start my next one and decided the time was right.

“When things break, it's not the actual breaking that prevents them from getting back together again. It's because a little piece gets lost - the two remaining ends couldn't fit together even if they wanted to. The whole shape has changed.”  

It started off a little shaky and I was worried that it just wasn't as magical as the other books and then will grayson was introduced.  See, in the first chapter you meet Will Grayson but in the second you meet will grayson.  Confused? Yeah, so were they when they met. :P

“I feel like my life is so scattered right now. Like it's all the small pieces of paper and someone's turned on the fan. But, talking to you makes me feel like the fan's been turned off for a little bit. Like things could actually make sense. You completely unscatter me, and I appreciate that so much.”  

The good and bad thing about discussing books with other people is that they open your mind to other viewpoints.  If, by chance I hadn't talked to my book club about how teenagers do NOT talk like this nor act like this and all of John Green's characters talk / act the same I would have been able to fully enjoy the whole thing, but those thoughts creep in.  However, I shoved them to the side and was like, "WHY WEREN'T THEY MY FRIENDS IN HIGH SCHOOL??????"

“maybe tonight you're scared of falling, and maybe there's somebody here or somewhere else you're thinking about, worrying over, fretting over, trying to figure out if you want to fall, or how and when you're gonna land, and i gotta tell you, friends, to stop thinking about the landing, because it's all about falling.”  

So, while yes, the same type of characters show up in John Green novels, and no, they aren't your typical teenager.  I do love them.  It's a weakness.  And I related to Will Grayson and will grayson, which is funny since they were alike yet very different. There were parts of each W(w)ill that I saw parts of my teenage self.  And that is how you connect.  That is why people will read the same characters with magnificent vocabularies. 

“You like someone who can't like you back because unrequited love can be survived in a way that once-requited love cannot. ”  

And I cannot do it justice with my horrific attempt at an explanation but I will say I'd highly recommend it if you liked Looking for Alaska or The Fault in Our Stars. 

“Also, I feel that crying is almost--like, aside from deaths of relatives or whatever-- totally avoidable if you follow two very simple rules: 1.Don't care too much. 2. Shut up. Everything unfortunate that has ever happened to me has stemmed from failure to follow one of the rules.”  

Goodreads Description: One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both of them legions of faithful fans.

Have you read Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan?

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Book of Ruth

So, two people whose reading tastes I sometimes agree with and sometimes really don't agree with, both gushed about this book.  Like a good friend, I borrowed it from one of them and then sat on it for a few months.  Then I realized it was June and I should get on that.

Yeah, it was a bust for me.  I've enjoyed books where I can't stand the characters (The Dinner, Gone Girl) but I did not like the characters and the plot did not save it.

Goodreads Description: Winner of the 1989 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award  for best first novel, this exquisite book  confronts real-life issues of alienation and violence  from which the author creates a stunning testament  to the human capacity for mercy, compassion and  love.

Basically, they suck you into reading the book by not really telling you anything about it. ;P

The writing isn't bad, but the book is just a sad tale of a poor girl whose life sucks and it keeps on sucking and there is no way out of the suck.  So it's a lot of sucking and when there is a lot of sucking you have to have SOMETHING that doesn't suck and well the book just didn't. 

A LOT of people really liked this book, so please don't just listen to me, but it was just a book and nothing I was super impressed with.  I did finish it because, I can't leave things unfinished usually, but it was just eh.

Have you read The Book of Ruth?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Day in the Life: First Day of Summer Break

I haven't done one of these in a loooooong time and thought I'd share how our first day of summer break went!

8:15 – I wake up freezing.  I check fb and email on my phone then roll out of bed to start some coffee.

8:25 Coffee is ready and the very loud garbage truck drives by. 

 8:36 I hear Isla and go get her.  Make her breakfast and then eat with her.  Peach Greek yogurt, strawberries and toast w/ water for her and wheat bread with peanut butter and my coffee for me

8:45 I tackle the dishes and kitchen clean up.

9:00 Isla is done eating so we move to the living room for her morning Elmo time aka mommy’s drink coffee in peace and catch up on the Internet time.

9:04 I have to read, “Elmo’s ABCs. Book

9:08 Back to her own chair with Elmo book while watching Elmo.  She may have a problem.

9:30 – Isla wants to go outside but we need to do laundry and get dressed first.  So we go downstairs, throw a load in, color an Elmo coloring page, then head upstairs to get dressed.  After she’s dressed I send her out to finish the Elmo episode so I can get dressed.

10:00 About to head out the door for Target when my friend calls and wants us to meet up at the park.  So I throw snacks in the diaper bag, dinner in the crock pot and we go play outside with her Little Tykes grill for a bit while I try to get her trike in the car --- FAIL.

10: 25 We leave and got gas and met up at the park where a TON of kids are riding trikes and having a blast in the water area.

11:45 Isla is HANGRYYYYYY.  We eat almost all the snacks I brought and manage to convince her to head home for lunch.

12:10 She eats leftover pasta, broccoli, corn and an orange for lunch..  I also ate leftovers.

Only photo of the day.  Tried at the park but she kept running away and/or showing me her belly and she hates her photo taken anyway so I sneak them in!

12:31 I read Elmo’s ABC book, again.  Then, Itsy Bitsy Spider (Elmo version), and a book about colors.  Then we put together Miss Potato Head whom I swear looks like a potato head drag queen.  Then she looks sleepy so at 12:50 I put her down for a nap.

1:00 I grab a diet coke and sit down to catch up on my shows.  First up, Rookie Blue.  Then I couldn’t figure out our DVR so I put an episode of Blue Bloods on in the background and read some of my book, The Book of Ruth until she woke up at 4:30!!!!

4:30 Snuggles and goldfish snacks. 

4:50 I set her up with a laminated letter ‘I’ sheet and play dough while I took the chicken out of the crock pot, shredded it and prepared enchiladas and made guacamole.

5:40 Dinner is served.  And my husband walked in the door 5 minutes later.

6:15 We all head outside for a walk that ended up being only two houses down because we took her trike and passed the cows and we then had to go back on the farm and look at the cows and donkey.  Came back and planted some pansies I got as a gift and played with the toy grill again.

7:00 Bath time!

7:25 We put on Gilmore Girls and play with blocks and daddy now reads Elmo’s ABC book.

8:00 I jump in the shower and 2 minutes into my shower Isla is put down to bed by her daddy.

8:15 We start watching The Voice results show.

9:00 I catch up on two episodes of Armywives.
10:35 Read more of my book.
11:00 To bed I said!
A very busy, yet fun and somewhat relaxing first day of break.  Today? Has been a bit more whiney but I'm trying to push off outside time because we have an outdoor lunch date and I don't want her too tired for the fun!
What shows do you catch up with on DVR? Do you have a million like I seem to have? ha..

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Call The Nurse: Tales of a Country Nurse on a Scottish Isle

I received this book from Skyhorse Publishing all thoughts and opinions are my own. ;)

Description: Tired of the pace and noise of life near London and longing for a better place to raise their young children, Mary J. MacLeod and her husband encountered their dream while vacationing on a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides. Enthralled by its windswept beauty, they soon were the proud owners of a near-derelict croft house--a farmer's stone cottage--on "a small acre" of land. Mary assumed duties as the island's district nurse. Call the Nurse is her account of the enchanted years she and her family spent there, coming to know its folk as both patients and friends.

In anecdotes that are by turns funny, sad, moving, and tragic, she recalls them all, the crofters and their laird, the boatmen and tradesmen, young lovers and forbidding churchmen. Against the old-fashioned island culture and the grandeur of mountain and sea unfold indelible stories: a young woman carried through snow for airlift to the hospital; a rescue by boat; the marriage of a gentle giant and the island beauty; a ghostly encounter; the shocking discovery of a woman in chains; the flames of a heather fire at night; an unexploded bomb from World War II; and the joyful, tipsy celebration of a ceilidh. Gaelic fortitude meets a nurse's compassion in these wonderful true stories from rural Scotland.

When I got the email describing the book I thought," hmm, that sounds like an adventure I'd like to read about," and I was not disappointed.  Mary sweetly describes her early years on the island of Papavray (name changed).  It's fascinating to hear about the very primitive conditions and camaraderie that the islanders have with one another.  Her writing made me want to sit down and have a 'cuppie' with her and talk about more of her adventures.

It's a definite cozy memoir that is told like you are sitting down with your grandma and she is telling you about her life.  It describes island life more so than in depth nursing adventures but Mary seemed to do a lot of non-typical nursing duties in her time on the island.  She briefly mentions fixing up their dump of a house (which had no bathroom when they got it!), but I'd have loved to hear more about how it ended up being in the end. 

A very sweet read and I'd love to hear more of her stories!

Have you read any memoirs recently?