Sunday, August 31, 2014

Discussion: The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

Description: Afghan-American Nadia Hashimi's literary debut novel, The Pearl that Broke Its Shell is a searing tale of powerlessness, fate, and the freedom to control one's own fate that combines the cultural flavor and emotional resonance of the works of Khaled Hosseini, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Lisa See.

In Kabul, 2007, with a drug-addicted father and no brothers, Rahima and her sisters can only sporadically attend school, and can rarely leave the house. Their only hope lies in the ancient custom of bacha posh, which allows young Rahima to dress and be treated as a boy until she is of marriageable age. As a son, she can attend school, go to the market, and chaperone her older sisters.

But Rahima is not the first in her family to adopt this unusual custom. A century earlier, her great-aunt, Shekiba, left orphaned by an epidemic, saved herself and built a new life the same way.

Crisscrossing in time, The Pearl the Broke Its Shell interweaves the tales of these two women separated by a century who share similar destinies. But what will happen once Rahima is of marriageable age? Will Shekiba always live as a man? And if Rahima cannot adapt to life as a bride, how will she survive?

1. Rahima says that Khala Shaima’s story about Bibi Shekiba transformed her, and indeed, this is a novel about transformation. In what ways, besides dressing as males, do Rahima and Shekiba transform themselves?

2. When we first meet Khala Shaima, we see that men frequently mock or insult her because of her crooked spine, but her nieces and sister don’t seem to pity her. Does Khala Shaima’s disability work to her advantage?

3. “It is up to you to find a way to make things easier for yourself,” Shekiba’s aunt tells her. How do the different women characters in this novel find ways to make things easier for themselves? What about Rahima’s mother? Bobo Shagul? Abdul Khaliq’s wives? The women of the king’s harem?

4. The word naseeb, or destiny, comes up often in THE PEARL THAT BROKE ITS SHELL, as each woman is repeatedly told that she must accept her fate. When Rahima asks Khala Shaima “Wouldn’t people say that is blasphemous? To change the naseeb that Allah has for us?” her aunt responds “…you tell me which of those people who say such a thing have spoken with Allah to know what the true naseeb is.” When do Shekiba and Rahima accept their naseeb and when do they rebel against it? Do you believe in the concept of naseeb in your life?

5. Do you believe that Rahima and Shekiba’s stories end happily? What do you think became of them in the years after this book ends?

Thanks for participating! I am taking the month of September off for the group read so I hope you will join us again in October! Thanks for understanding.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Things That Have Given Me Anxiety Today...

- The book I'm reading and how I can guess how it is going to play out and that just makes me anxious

- That I forgot to get the scissors out for my kid to play with this summer...

- That I do not have an associate teacher  yet....

- That I still don't know if I am 100 percent for sure 2 part day sections or just a full day...

- How I am going to do 32 home visits, get a classroom ready and lesson plan and train a new associate in two weeks time...

- How to successfully make an activity calendar for my classroom...

- If I should make more literacy bags now or if I should even continue doing them...

- What all I need to buy for my kid still for preschool....

- What I should do in regards to my Stitch Fix that I got in the mail...

- How I am going to read my two book club books before next week...

- That I should stop procrastinating all of life and do something...

- How messy my room will be after I got new flooring...

- How lunch time/breakfast time in my classroom is going to look...


Too much stress.

I need more ice cream.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

This Past Week...

I have been so busy this last week that I'm sadly STILL reading the book I was reading last weekend and haven't made much progress.  Too much other stuff that I've wanted to do.  And my TBR pile is growing as I've recieved books for fall reviews.  EEEK!

Things I Read That You Should Too....

It's Okay to Just Be Sad -  The lovely Law Momma shared this beautifully written post about depression and why it's okay to just be sad, it's not necessary to always be smiling.  If you're sad, you're sad.

Be The Light - Miranda shared this and I couldn't help sharing it also on facebook because there are a lot of people who need to read it.  I have so many loved ones who live with depression and just as many love ones who say stupid shit in the name of being helpful.  A must read if you read nothing else I link.

If you are NOT reading Law Momma's blog, you really should.  I've said it here before and I will continue saying it, she's an awesome writer.  Also, if you haven't heard about Ferguson, Missouri than you REALLY need to get start google searching because it is completely unacceptable and ridiculous!

Best Parts....

Monday - The weather was yucky but we still went to my parents and I ended up wading in the lake as Isla got to enjoy an impromptu swim in her underwear.  She thought THAT was pretty awesome.

Tuesday - A fun library trip together during the morning and then I had a lovely solo trip to our local mall and was pleasantly surprised to find two work shirts, a pair of jeans and a potential dress for some upcoming weddings!

Wednesday - We went to the local farmers market and walked around downtown.  Then we went to our local gardens for the luch time concert and ended to the childrens garden for some fun time playing with bubbles and water and craft time.

Thursday - I spent 4 hours shopping with my best-friend and ended up with new shoes, skirt, jacket and a suit jacket.  I also picked up an outfit for my child. 

Friday - A lovely out doors lunch with my mom and then a fun time at the county fair as a family.  And a chocolate malt was enjoyed and a Lemon Berry Shandy.  Was kind of disappointed overall by the fair food (typical) but my treats at home made up for it. ;)

The Not So Good...

At the park yesterday, my kid was thrown off the play structure by a child who was clearly special needs right in front of me.  It was the most terrifying moment of my life and I have so much anger about it that I won't say anything more but THANK GOODNESS she is okay and doesn't seem to be as scarred by it as I was.  And right after she had finally gotten the courage to try something new and be brave (she's super cautious).  Ugh. 

Hope you all had a great week! Were you busy? Did you read a lot? Any new book recommendations? What is your favorite fair food?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Library Haul

I'm very proud of us.  We've made it to the library almost every single week this summer minus the beginning of summer when we were a tad busy.  Each week we've colored, played trains and played with the other toys our library has out.  And each time, my little sweetheart gets to pick out books. 

Now as a big believer in let the children read what they want to read because it encourages them to like reading, it has pained me a few times with the god awful commercialized crap that gets picked out.  But, I can't really complain because most of my picks for the child have been based on covers this summer as I run by the stacks as she's grabbing books left and right.  Sometimes we learn of new favorites.  Sometimes I grin and bear it and sometimes we surprise each other.  Books and reading are two things I couldn't wait to share with a child and this summer has been so much fun.

My mother never told me I couldn't read something and I have the same attitude towards my three year old.  Read and learn.  Read and discuss.  Don't hide things and don't discriminate even when you think things are god awful.  I'm looking at my husband on the subject of vegetables! ;) I want to foster a love of reading and a thirst for knowledge and an acceptance of all people regardless of their life choices.  I think we're doing a good job so far.

And listening to my child "read" to me? PRICELESS.  Listening to my child 'retell' a story? PRICELESS.   Listening to my child name off almost every single letter of the alphabet capital and lowercase? PRICELESS.  Listening to my child recognize almost every single color? PRICELESS.  Listening to my child SPELL her name? PRICELESS.

That paragraph is me just basically boasting about my child because I'm just in such awe at what she picks up and what she knows.  Thank you books.  Thank you reading.  Thank you library.  I never say no to books. ;)

Thoughts so far -
Dora, still cringe worthy but has taught some new vocab words in two different languages and the child loves it
The Beach book looks cool, it's written in postcard form but may be too old for most 3 year olds attention span
Doggie in the Window - ADORABLE.  Lisa, must get this book.  It has a monsieur and a mademoiselle.  A cute story.
Elephant & Piggie - We've basically checked out all the library has to offer on this subject!
Lionel book - Pretty cute.  We read it before nap time.
Not so bad of picks this time!

I finally got this book that I had on hold which happens to be our group read of the month!

What have you recently picked up from the library? Are you reading with us in August? Who have you shared a book recommendation with lately? What is a passion you hope to pass on to others?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


It was suggested to me to check out Anne Rivers Siddons because of my infatuation with the south, Dorothea Benton Frank and Pat Conroy.  I think Lisa suggested her, and if so, thank you! If not, whomever it was, thank you! I finally got around to checking out her book Downtown, one of two I checked out from the library in July.  Totally reminded me of Pat Conroy for sure.  There were bits of of pages where it got a tad wordy and a tad flowery about the south/Atlanta but the meat of the book was good!

Description:  The year is 1966, a time of innocence, possibility,and freedom. And for Atlanta, the country, and one woman making her way in a changing world, nothing will be the same . . .

After an airless childhood in Savannah, Smoky O'Donnell arrives in Atlanta, dazzled and chastened by this hectic young city on the rise. Her new job as a writer with the city's Downtown magazine introduces her to many unforgettable people and propels her into the center of momentous events that will irrevocably alter her heart, her career, and her world.

This book captured Irish Catholic Smoky O' Donnell's entrance into "liberal' Atlanta in 1966.  She comes from a small town with a drunk for a dad and a very religious mother and basically there is something wrong with her because she wants to move to Atlanta and not pop out babies.  I mean she is after all 26. 

I loved that Smoky was incredibly small town and had been raised extremely Catholic and how that shaped her actions in the beginning of her time in Atlanta.  Birth control? The HORROR.  And how awkward she was as a minority white face in a crowd full of black people whom she didn't want to think she was racist.  That scene was cracking me up with the awkward!

“I think that sometimes the great changes in our lives, the ones that divide time, happen so deep down and silently that we don't even know when they occur......It frequently happens that the seasons of the greatest change are the times that feel the most tranquil, the most suspended, the most...timeless.”  

This is a really interesting look at Atlanta in the late 1960s when civil rights and the Vietnam War are very controversial popular topics and the black panthers make an appearance and the old rich south intermingling with their more free thinking children.  Oh goodness.  It's a good one!  It also is loosely based upon her time as an editor for the Atlanta magazine. 

If you've enjoyed Pat Conroy, you will enjoy this. 

Have you read any books about the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s? Do you like books that read like realistic historical fiction? Have you experienced culture shock during a move/job change?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

July Highlights

I feel like July lasted forever and I enjoyed every last drop!!! I'm sad that it is done because as a e-card I saw today said, "August is one long Sunday night for teachers."  So freaking true.  I feel like I can't really enjoy this month because I'M ALMOST back to work and there is just so much to do and honestly with all the changes coming and no real answers until MAYBE August 22nd, all I am is an anxiety mess every time I think about it, so I just don't.  Cuz, ALLL THE ANXIETY. 

So... July, things I did a lot of...


8 books!

  1. Say Goodbye – Lisa Gardner (July 6th) - Pretty gruesome
  2.  Takedown Twenty – Janet Evanovich (July 8th) - Funny
  3. Top Secret Twenty-One – Janet Evanovich (July 10th) - Best Stephanie Plum in awhile..
  4. Postmortem – Patricia Cornwall (July 13th) - Hooked me into a new series...
  5. Endangered – Jean Cush Love (July 15th) - Thought provoking..
  6. Double Whammy – Gretchen Archer (July 21st) - Hilarious.  Great beach read.
  7. Double Dip – Gretchen Archer (July 24th) - Also hilarious.
  8. The Virgin of Small Plains – Nancy Pickard (July 27th) - Fell kinda flat.
Witnessed a lot of sunsets... A lot happened while watching from our front porch and aren't spectacular, but we've spent a lot of time out there this past month.  Be it late night drinks with my husband and I, breakfast with the three year old, block playing, music listening, or just hanging out, we've used it a lot!  Anyway, back to sunsets.  I got to see a ton of great ones when we were in Caseville camping.  We really enjoyed our time at Sleeper State Park, even if our bathroom accommodations weren't as up to par as we are used too! But they have nicer bathrooms on the other side.  Beautiful beach!


We also went to the library once a week.  Isla completed her third year in the reading program.  Woohoo. ;)  We hit the park at least once a week if not more.  We went swimming.  We went boating.  We went camping. The adults saw James Taylor.  It was fabulous!!

Our garden also started producing and we have zucchini coming out of our ears! We've made zucchini tots, zucchini pizzas, zucchini boats, grilled zucchini... Just call us the Forrest Gump of zucchini! My favorite has been the zucchini tots.

Zucchini pizza

This is a yummy sweet potato hash with an egg on top with one of the zucchini boats!
The only thing I would have changed is to make sure I walked, ran or rode my bike more.  I think I only really did it once or twice a week if that.  I mean I was moving, but not working out.  I spent more time reading and getting stuff organized to sell and clean up the spare room.    Blech.   Here's to a better moving August!

Did you see a lot of sunsets in July? Take any vacations? Have any new recipes from the garden? What topped your list in July?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Backseat Saints

I won't lie, I honestly thought about throwing the towel in on this one because it started out a bit slow, but I LOVED gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson and wanted to know more behind the character of Rose Mae Lolley so I kept plugging.  What happened? I finished the book the same day.  I would definitely recommend this book if you liked Black & Blue by Anna Quindlin but also suggest that you don't read it if domestic abuse is a trigger.

Description:  Rose Mae Lolley's mother disappeared when she was eight, leaving Rose with a heap of old novels and a taste for dangerous men. Now, as demure Mrs. Ro Grandee, she's living the very life her mother abandoned. She's all but forgotten the girl she used to be-teenaged spitfire, Alabama heartbreaker, and a crack shot with a pistol-until an airport gypsy warns Rose it's time to find her way back to that brave, tough girl . . . or else. Armed with only her wit, her pawpy's ancient .45, and her dog Fat Gretel, Rose Mae hightails it out of Texas, running from a man who will never let her go, on a mission to find the mother who did.

Starring a minor character from Jackson's bestselling gods in Alabama, BACKSEAT SAINTS will dazzle readers with its stunning portrayal of the measures a mother will take to right the wrongs she's created, and how far a daughter will travel to satisfy the demands of forgiveness.

Rose Mae does appear in gods in Alabama, but you wouldn't necessarily need to read that first.  It would be helpful and explain her search for Jim Beverly a bit, but it happens a little before and a little after the time frame of gods in Alabama.  But, I do suggest you check out gods in Alabama. ;)

Ro Grandee used to be Rose Mae.  Rose Mae is deep in Ro and she comes out every so often and she infuriates Ro's husband Thom, who then beats her.  This story has so much sadness to it.  Generations of people hurting each other.  Rose's daddy used to hit her mom until her mom left and then he hit her.  Then she married Thom who hurt her, who if he wasn't physically abused by his dad as a child he is being emotionally and verbally abused by him as an adult.  And so is his Thom's mother.

But a chance meeting with a gypsy in an airport has Rose Mae pushing through and ready to ditch Ro for life.  The fight for her life and her strength is what made this book so captivating.

Have you read a book by an author who expands on another character from another one of their books?  Do you get on author kicks and read a bunch by the the same author right in a row?

Sunday, August 3, 2014

On the Island - Discussion

I am so sorry that this is so late! I had meant to have it up early Friday because I was going to be out of town all day and then that didn't happen and then the weekend did and it got crazy!

1. The first sentence of the book tells you there is going to be a plane crash, and yet the author builds tension even before the crash. Anna buys two bottles of water and tells T.J. to put one in his backpack, and as readers, we are probably aware that Mick will have a heart attack even before Anna does. Why do you think the author structured it this way? How did it enhance the read?

2. What were your first impressions of Anna and T.J.? And how did they change? At what point do you think Anna started seeing T.J. as an adult? When did you see him as an adult?

3. Anna wishes desperately that the bag containing all the summer reading she packed for her trip would wash ashore. Of all the trappings of civilization she yearns for, it’s reading and books that she seems to miss the most. What five books would you pack if you knew you were facing years alone on a desert island?

This is so tough.  I think I would want to pick light and funny reads if I was stuck on an island because I think the thriller/murder books I enjoy would push me into crazy land!

1. A Stephanie Plum novel to make me laugh
2. The Great Gatsby because I love it and could read it again
3. The Help
4 & 5 two picks I'd never read before ha..

4. Anna and T.J. face a number of hardships on the island and talk about their greatest fears. Which would you fear the most? Losing the one person you are stranded with? Dying of rabies or dehydration or an allergic reaction? Running out of water?

5. Do you think it was realistic that Anna and T.J. waited so long to be together? Would you have waited that long?

6. After three and a half years of only talking to one other person, imagine how overwhelming it would be to try and fit back into society. What do you think would be the most difficult thing to get used to?

7. The age difference between T.J. and Anna is 14 years. How would you feel about dating someone 14 years older or younger than you? How do you think your friends and family and the general public would react to that situation?
Do you think Anna made the right decision in breaking things off with T.J.? Do you think she made the right decision to follow her heart and marry him?

8.  What major emotion or emotions did the story evoke in you as a reader?

Thanks for participating! August's selection is The Pearl Who Broke it's Shell!