Friday, March 28, 2014

The Rent Collector - Discussion

HAPPY SPRING BREAK FRIDAY!!!!!! So EXCITED to start our family road trip down south and spend a week with my best-friend and her man on the Gulf!!

1. In the opening pages of The Rent Collector, Sang Ly’s grandfather promises that it will be a very
lucky day. What role do you think luck plays in our lives? How does the idea of luck reconcile with the novel’s epigraph, the quote from Buddha on the opening page?
After reading Sarann (the Cambodian Cinderella), Sopeap and Sang Ly discuss how story plot
repeat, reinforcing the same lessons. Sopeap calls resurfacing plots “perplexing” and then asks, “Is
our DNA to blame for this inherent desire to hope? Is it simply another survival mechanism? Is that
why we love Sarann or Cinderella? Or is there more to it?” How would you answer? What are possible explanations for the phenomenon?
3.Sang Ly says that living at the dump is a life where “the hope of tomorrow is traded to satisfy the
hunger of today.” How might this statement also apply to those with modern homes, late-model cars,
plentiful food, and general material abundance?
4. Sopeap tells Sang Ly: “To understand literature, you read it with your head, but you interpret it with your heart. The two are forced to work together—and, quite frankly, they often don’t get along.”
Do you agree? Can you think of examples?
5. In a moment of reflection, Sang Ly admits that she doesn’t mean to be a skeptic, to lack hope, or
to harbor fear. However, she notes that experience has been her diligent teacher. She asks,
“Grandfather, where is the balance between humbly accepting our life’s trials and pleading toward
heaven for help, begging for a better tomorrow?” How would you answer her question?
6. The story ends with Sang Ly retelling the myth of Vadavamukha and the coming of Sopeap to
Stung Meanchey. By the time you reached the final version in the book’s closing pages, had you
remembered the original version in the book’s opening pages? How had the myth changed? How had
Sopeap changed? How had Sang Ly changed?
Have a good weekend!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Pilot's Wife

This one has been on my radar for awhile.  I've picked it up at the library and set it back down but I picked it up at our recent library book sale and read it.  Wow.  I was hooked. 

Description: Who can guess what a woman will do when the unthinkable becomes her reality?

Until now, Kathryn Lyons's life has been peaceful if unextraordinary: a satisfying job teaching high school in the New England mill town of her childhood; a picture-perfect home by the ocean; a precocious, independent-minded fifteen-year-old daughter; and a happy marriage whose occasional dull passages she attributes to the unavoidable deadening effect of time. As a pilot's wife, Kathryn has learned to expect both intense exhilaration and long periods alone—but nothing has prepared her for the late-night knock that lets her know her husband has died in a crash.

As Kathryn struggles with her grief, she descends into a maelstrom of publicity stirred up by the modern hunger for the details of tragedy. Even before the plane is located in waters off the Irish coast, the relentless focus on her husband's life begins to bring a bizarre personal mystery into focus. Could there be any truth to the increasingly disturbing rumors that he had a secret? Fighting the impulse to protect herself and her daughter from the details of the crash and the mystery surrounding it, Kathryn sets out to learn who her husband really was—whatever that knowledge may cost. The search will lead her to shocking revelations, testing both the truth of her marriage and the limits of her ability to face it.

From the bestselling author of The Weight of Water, this taut, impassioned novel asks fundamental questions we all have about how well we can really know anyone—even those (or especially those) we love the most. Written with grace and controlled beauty, The Pilot's Wife definitively places Anita Shreve among the ranks of the best novelists writing today.

The emotions that Anita Shreve captured with her writing was amazing.  I mean the character of Kathryn wasn't my favorite character nor was her daughter but man.  The emotions.  It was a heavy book and it touched on one of the worst moment's in a person's life, the death of a spouse/parent.

Jack, the pilot, seems like such a great guy.  A family guy.  But then snippets of the past seep in.  A nugget here and there.  And then you wonder, how can his wife say all the good things she is saying.  And how could have had such a 'good' marriage when all of these secrets come tumbling out after his death?

It was a very quick read and I liked it.  I felt very dark afterwards and I didn't want to write about it right away but days later the book is still with me.  Definitely, one to check out, but not if you are looking for a light read.

Have you read any books by Anita Shreve? How well do you think you know the people in your life? Has a significant other ever kept something from you that shocked you when you found out?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

April's Group Read is...

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte!

This has been on my shelf for over a year now? I bought it when it was cheap when I was purchasing another book.  It is one of those books I've always meant to read and feel I should read, but just never did it.  Fingers crossed it is good.

Description: Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity.

She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman's passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.

With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte's innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.

Have you read Jane Eyre? Do you plan on joining us? I will post a discussion on Friday, April 25th!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Summer Rental

THIS book is what I needed to get out of my slump.  It was one where I did not want it to end.  If you are looking for a mindless, quick fun read.  Aka a beach read? Pick it up.

I had been meaning to try a Mary Kay Andrews book for awhile and I was able to pick one up at our used book sale and I'm glad I did.  Now, I could get nit picky about the fact that the Maryn/Madison plotline was not perfect and that at the beginning I was wondering if she was writing middle aged characters or younger characters.  When all their parents were dying and they were only 34-36 I was a bit confused.  I mean, I hope my parents aren't going to start croaking in the near future.

However, if you want a story about three life long friends who rent a beach house in Nags Head and have a little drama, a  little mystery, and a summer fling? Pick it up.  I didn't want these characters to end!

Description: Sometimes, when you need a change in your life, the tide just happens to pull you in the right direction…

Ellis, Julia, and Dorie. Best friends since Catholic grade school, they now find themselves, in their mid-thirties, at the crossroads of life and love. Ellis, recently fired from a job she gave everything to, is rudderless and now beginning to question the choices she's made over the past decade of her life. Julia--whose caustic wit covers up her wounds--has a man who loves her and is offering her the world, but she can't hide from how deeply insecure she feels about her looks, her brains, her life. And Dorie has just been shockingly betrayed by the man she loved and trusted the most in the world…though this is just the tip of the iceberg of her problems and secrets. A month in North Carolina's Outer Banks is just what they each of them needs.

Ty Bazemore is their landlord, though he's hanging on to the rambling old beach house by a thin thread. After an inauspicious first meeting with Ellis, the two find themselves disturbingly attracted to one another, even as Ty is about to lose everything he's ever cared about.

Maryn Shackleford is a stranger, and a woman on the run. Maryn needs just a few things in life: no questions, a good hiding place, and a new identity. Ellis, Julia, and Dorie can provide what Maryn wants; can they also provide what she needs?

Mary Kay Andrews' novel is the story of five people questioning everything they ever thought they knew about life. Five people on a journey that will uncover their secrets and point them on the path to forgiveness. Five people who each need a sea change, and one month in a summer rental that might just give it to them.

What book has gotten you out of a recent slump?

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Day in the Life Fail...

I've been meaning to do one of things again for awhile and then I'd be midway through the day and remember or just forget completely.  So, one day last week I was GOING to do it.  I even got myself to work early and caught up and then my day of work started and then I never got back to it.. So, instead of a DAY in my life, I present to you an early morning before work in my life.. ;)
5:59 - Wake myself up from snoring.  Whoops.

6:15 - Alarm goes off.  Lay there a minute and wish there was a snow day.  I'm tired.

6:17 - Bathroom, teeth brushing, get dressed.  Return to bathroom to see what can be done with my hair and do makeup.

6:32 - Start the coffee and make my lunch.  Yesterday I made a delicious salad so I am thinking it sounds good again today.  Spinach, green beans, pea pods, strawberries, sunflower nuts, red pepper and balsamic vinaigrette.  An orange on the side.

6:40  Get my stuff around and ready to walk out the door.  Tel my husband I don't want to be an adult today, I just want to sleep in my bed.  He reminds me that our daughter probably has to pee and to go wake her up.  I whine about not wanting to be an adult.

6:45  Get daughter out of bed.  She hides under blankets.  Claims no pee, no pee, no pee.  Yep, she totally peed in the pull-up last night.  Oh well, I don't expect her to be dry over night yet, but the night before she did and she's stubborn enough to keep the trend up!  Get her dressed, pick the underwear out she will take to daycare, pick her barrette and then she puts her guys (cookie and big bird) in her bag and her underwear so she can meet me in the bathroom and do her hair and teeth.

6:55 -I pour my coffee, hand the child her hat, grab my stuff and get my car out of the garage.  My husband gets her coat and boots on (that she can do herself but in the morning her daddy HAS to do it) and then they meet me in the car.

7:01 - Pull out of driveway.  On the drive to daycare have a very interesting conversation about who she will play with and what she will do.  She tells me she is hiding from  'gaga's work' (we pass my mom's office on the way) and then she answers my question.  "What is my name? 'emwee' What is daddy's name? Annthee.  What is your name? I-ya.  What is your last name? She answered correctly.  What is your middle name? She answers correctly.  And she then answered the name of the road daycare is on.  Smart girl.  When she wants to cooperate.

7:18  Pull into daycare.  We are way ahead today but that is good.  Drop her off, share her toilet successes with daycare and pull out.

7:29  Get to work.

7:33 Get into my classroom.  Take down chairs, get books ready, get the kids literacy bag, and take picture of coffee.  NEEED.  Put lunch away.  Grab my Kashi Chocolate Almond Sea Salt bar and sit down to write this up.
The day totally went to hell because my husband called me at 9:00 am because his truck stopped working on the way to work and that day ended up in a lot of phone tag trying to figure out how we were going to get him home since he works 40 minutes from our house and I work 50 minutes from his work in the other direction.  And I had a parent conference and a staff meeting/training that lasted until 9:30 that night.  It was a loooong day.

Do you do things in the same order every morning?

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

April Group Read Suggestions

The thing I enjoy the most about discussing the same book with a group of people are the varying opinions.  I also enjoy new suggestions that I would have never picked up otherwise.  Simply because it didn't appeal to me or I'd never heard of it.  Some of my favorites that I don't think I'd have checked out otherwise have been.. Beach Music, Those Who Save Us, The Scent of Rain and Lightning, and The Sandalwood Tree..  

That being said, here is what we've already read..

What We've Read...

The Rent Collectors
Labor Day
Orphan Train
The Death of Bees
Liberating Paris
Life Sentences
Looking for Me
Ladder of Years
Where'd You Go Bernadette?
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 in April? Something springy? Something warm? An author who is an old favorite? Suggestions are open until March 18th when I will use to pick a book for April.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

February At a Glance

February was fucking cold.  It was miserable and I am not sad to see it gone.  Here is to hoping for more sun than negative temperatures in March!

Books Read - 3

The Intercept – Dick Wolf (Feb 2nd)
The Execution – Dick Wolf (Feb 13th)
Labor Day – Joyce Maynard (Feb. 18th)
I'd say The Intercept was my favorite and Labor Day was my least favorite.  I am struggling through The Idea of Him which I got for a review copy and I should have known better because it is super chick litty and I'm not digging it but I said I would read it so I'm trying to knock it out.
Favorite Photos - Sadly, I took like TWO photos in February.  Whoops.  Well of my own kid and my own stuff.  I took a ton for work, but I can't share those here.
Woke up way early from a nap so I got snuggles!

This is what you get when the 2 year old refuses to take a picture for grandma and insists on wearing a ridiculous headband.


I really put some time into coming up with varying workouts incorporating the treadmill, my 1990s or is it 1980s step and strengthening workouts.  I only totaled 8.5 miles via the treadmill but I definitely worked out a lot more minutes in February than I did in January.  I've woke up at 5:30 three times now to workout and while I am dying by the end of the day it hasn't been too bad.  I only have about 20ish minutes then and my body takes a good 10ish minutes to want to move and sometimes my legs are just tireeeed.  But I'm trying.  My goal is to be down a few more pounds by the end of the month and work some more on crunches and my thighs.  Oh and running more and more.
Here's hoping to a better, warmer month in March! What was your best parts of February? Links to workouts that can be done with minimal equipment and for uncoordinated folks?

Monday, March 3, 2014

March's Menu

I am slacking.  This month's menu didn't even happen until Saturday, March 1st.  February's menu didn't get followed much in the last two weeks but that was kind of good because I subbed out other healthy meal options with stuff we had.  But it didn't mean we ate out, we still ate at home so that was a plus.  I am going to try some new things in March and revisit some old favorites.  I am in search of new recipes so if you have had any great meals lately please share!

3rd - Ravioli
4th - Fish and Baked Potatoes
5th - Scrambled Eggs and Bacon
6th - Spaghetti & Meatballs
7th - Pizza
9th - Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers
10th - Tuscan Chicken
11th - Scalloped Potatoes and Ham
12th - Easy Macaroni Casserole
13th - Leftovers
14th - Pizza
15- Smoked BBQ Pork
16th - Italian Chicken
17th - Tacos
18th - Spaghetti & Meatballs
20th - Cheesy Chicken & Rice
24th - Rotel Chicken
25th - leftovers
26th - out for my birthday
27th - whatever we can find left in the house

I am excited for this month.  I am hopeful we will see spring like weather at some point.  I'm excited for my birthday.  I turn 30 this year! I am excited for our trip to Panama City Beach! Just so much excitement! Here's to a magnificent March for all!

What are you looking forward to in March?