Sunday, September 27, 2015

Accidents of Marriage

If you are looking for a love story, this is not it.  This is gritty.  This is real.  This is tough.  This is a flawed marriage.  There are 'accidents' on all parts, but how they over come these 'accident's will determine their future.

Maddy and Ben have been married for a long time.  They have three children, demanding careers and a secret.  Ben has a temper.  A bad one.  Oh, he's never hit any of them but they've all clenched, braced themselves for that moment.  He's certainly thrown a lot of objects.

Then one day there's an accident.  Maddy's hurt.  It's mostly Ben's fault.  Nothing goes well.  How can they get back what they both remember from the beginning of their relationship? Can they? Is it worth fixing? Are they bad for each other?

They both are not perfect.  They both have flaws.  They both are not connecting in a healthy way.  There was a lot of selfish behavior on both accounts.  There isn't a one person take all the blame situation.

I liked the book in the sense that it didn't romanticize the hard parts.  Marriage is hard work.  You have to be all in, all the time.  It's not happy.  It's very sad.  Very thought provoking.

Description: Accidents of Marriage explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the destruction left in the wake of spouse’s verbal fury. Ben never meant to hurt Maddy. He never imagined his recklessness would lead to tragedy.

Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids – which works to keep a fragile peace – until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

Accidents of Marriage explores a topic rarely shown in fiction: the damaging effects of

a spouse’s emotional abuse.

Have you read any other books by Randy Susan Meyers? In your opinion, re there things too big to forgive in a marriage? How easy is it for you to forgive?

I received this book for review. All comments and thoughts are my own!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Big Stone Gap

“People have often told me that one of their strongest childhood memories is the scent of their grandmother's house. I never knew my grandmothers, but I could always count of the Bookmobile.”  

For the second time this month, I'm posting about a book where I looooved a book by the author so I sought out another.  Also, two days in a row where I post where I was disappointed by the second book after I loved the first.

I read Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani while we were on a camping trip and I devoured it.  I loved it and I was so glad that I had picked up another one of her books at a used book sale.  I tried starting Big Stone Gap the next day but it was a tad slow so I moved on to something else.  Well, I really wanted to finish it to move it out of the house and so I trudged through it.

“Or maybe when she realized that he was never going to come and rescue her, she did what all strong women do. She found a way to save herself.”  

I've heard many positive this about this author but I just don't know.  It was slow.  It didn't always hold my interest.  It just seemed blah.  It had the ingredients to be a loved book of mine.  Characters that the author invested in.  Small town atmosphere with a family story.  However, it never grabbed me and that made sad, especially since it is the start of a series and we all know I love a good series!

Description: Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town's self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a "mountain girl's body and a flat behind." She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she's not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave's fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime-a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever.

Brimming with humor and wise notions of small-town life, Big Stone Gap is a gem of a book with a giant heart. . .

“The terrible things that happen to us in life never make any sense when we're in the middle of them, floundering, no end in sight. There is no rope to hang on to, it seems. Mothers can soothe children during those times, through their reassurance. No one worries about you like your mother, and when she is gone, the world seems unsafe, things that happen unwieldy. You cannot turn to her anymore, and it changes your life forever. There is no one on earth who knew you from the day you were born; who knew why you cried, or when you'd had enough food; who knew exactly what to say when you were hurting; and who encouraged you to grow a good heart. When that layer goes, whatever is left of your childgood goes with her. Memories are very different and cannot soothe you the same way her touch did.”  

I think part of my problem with the book was that there are good legit problems Ave Maria faces but I don't think they were handled properly or details were left out that would have helped.  They just appeared and it just didn't sit right with me.

I loved her friend Iva and maybe if the book had been based on HER, I'd have been hooked.

I will say the writing in the book is good.  She has a way with words and quite a few spots were beautfully written. 

“a dozen...chocolate chip cookies...a pot of coffee, and a good book are all I will need for the rainy weekend rolling in.”  

Have you read Big Stone Gap? Any other books by Trigani that you'd recommend? I'm not ready to totally write her off since I loved Lucia, Lucia!

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Hummingbird

Wow.  This book brought a lot of feelings out in thinking of passed loved ones as they went through the process of dying.  The Hummingbird follows a hospice worker on her case and both patient and hospice worker teach each other important lessons.

It made me think of the night I stayed with my grandma as she passed away.  It made me wish that we would have said more to her, held her hand and acknowledged her more as we sat with her.  Though that was a family full of hurts and not a lot of loving touches, but I do feel like no one should be alone when they pass.  Which is why I stayed that night, even though it was hard for me.  It really wasn't about me.  It was about her and helping her. 

About The Hummingbird

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 8, 2015)

Deborah Birch is a seasoned hospice nurse who never gives up—not with her patients, not in her life. But her skills and experience are fully tested by the condition her husband, Michael, is in when he returns from his third deployment to Iraq. Tormented by nightmares, anxiety, and rage, Michael has become cold and withdrawn. Still grateful that he is home at last, Deborah is determined to heal him and restore their loving, passionate marriage.

But Michael is not her only challenge. Deborah's primary patient is Barclay Reed, a retired history professor and fierce curmudgeon. An expert on the Pacific Theater of World War II, Barclay is suffering from terminal kidney cancer and haunted by ghosts from his past, including the academic scandal that ended his career.

Barclay's last wish is for Deborah to read to him from his final and unfinished book—a little-known story from World War II that may hold the key to helping Michael conquer his demons. Together, nurse, patient, and soldier embark on an unforgettable emotional journey that transforms them all, offering astonishing insights into life and death, suffering and finding peace.
Told with piercing empathy and heartbreaking realism, The Hummingbird is a masterful story of marital commitment, service to country, the battles we fight for those we love, learning to let go, and finding absolution through wisdom and acceptance

Deborah has got to be the most patient woman on earth.  I want to her when I grow up.  I have no idea how she was able to calmly stay silent when her husband did some of the things he did or when her patient said some of the things he did.  Maybe I am just a reactor but I really cannot keep my mouth shut.  Which is probably a character flaw, but I think standing my ground is good. But it probably gets me in trouble.  I digress.

I liked how the author went back on her other patients and told little stories and the lessons they had taught her when she was with them.

This is a book that gets you thinking and handles tough subjects.  War, PTSD, marriage, hospice, family... it's good!


What do you know about things that happened in the United States during WWII?  Has anyone you know used hospice care? Do you have someone in your family that you have written out of your life?

I received this book for review but all thoughts and opinions are my own!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Dark Places

“The truly frightening flaw in humanity is our capacity for cruelty - we all have it.”

I loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and have heard so much praise on her other books but it still took me a few years to finally read another one of her books.  So many books to read, so many other things occupying my time!  I really have to admit though I have put a huge focus on trying to read books that I have sitting around my house before getting newer books unless I'm doing them for review because I need to make more room in my house!

Description: Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice" of Kinnakee, Kansas.” She survived—and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, the Kill Club—a secret secret society obsessed with notorious crimes—locates Libby and pumps her for details. They hope to discover proof that may free Ben. Libby hopes to turn a profit off her tragic history: She’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club—for a fee. As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started—on the run from a killer.

“I am, I guess, depressed. I guess I've been depressed for about twenty-four years. I can feel a better version of me somewhere in there - hidden behind a liver or attached to a bit of spleen within my stunted, childish body - a Libby that's telling me to get up, do something, grow up, move on. But the meanness usually wins out."

My overall opinion is this was a disappointment.  We read this for our Books & Bars August pick and no one said they liked it better than Gone Girl, but those who hadn't read Gone Girl liked it more than those of us who have read both. 

We discussed that perhaps it is because this was written before Gone Girl and she had time to perfect her writing, which is somewhat true for many authors I think.  There were times when I had to skim read because I was ladeda a little too much detail or something I didn't really care about.

There were a few twists.  Nothing as dramatic as Gone Girl, in my opinion but there were some.  The clues are there if you are paying close attention. 

It is dark.  It is haunting.  It's a tad disgusting.  But if you like suspense and you like darker books, you should check it out.

“There are few phrases that annoy me more than I won't bite. The only line that pisses me off faster is when some drunk, ham-faced dude in a bar sees me trying to get past him and barks: Smile,it can't be that bad! Yeah, actually, it can, jackwad.”  

Have you read any books by Gillian Flynn? What dark books have you read recently?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Goals and Accountability

Goals have been brought up a lot in the recent trainings I've attended for my new job (which I love, by the way) and it has gotten me thinking.  I know I've briefly shared that I  love making lists.  A lot of those lists are goals.  A lot never gets crossed off.  I'm not very good at keeping myself accountable for my goals  I'm not a good goal achiever.  I'm great at making them.  I'm great at planning.  But the follow through needs some help. 

When I got my fitbit for Christmas it really helped push and motivate me earlier in the year.  I was racking up steps and busting my butt to beat people in competitions.  I was working out a lot and even though I never lost weight (which is my ultimate goal) I know I lost inches.  I never measured but my clothes felt a hell of a lot better and I was able to fit in smaller sizes without the scale budging.  I mean I even used other peoples scales because I was convinced that mine at home had to be wrong since I was having progress.

Well, then the summer happened.  I fell off the wagon hardcore.  May was pretty much the beginning of my downfall.  It coincided with a lot of work stress and then I started a new job and I indulged a lot.  I've been in about a month straight of trainings with not always great eating options and I've slacked on the walking and the step counting and had my fitbit lost/stolen in there. 

When I got back from a week long trip to Chicago, I knew I did not want to step on the scale because it would not be pretty.  Well, I did yesterday and it was worse than I had thought.  So I've formulated yet another plan and I'm going to hold myself accountable because I am not happy with my current situation.  It's harder than hard for me to budge my scale, make time for working out, clean my house, make time for my family and make time for other activities I like.  I've been all off balanced lately with the energy I've put towards the different areas of my life. 

I'm hopeful with my new fall/winter hours at work I can become a morning workout person because it does not require me to wake up too much earlier.  As in, it's not a time I think of as 'in the middle of the night' hahaha.    I'm much more of a middle of the day workout person and have tried throwing in 30 minutes walk at lunch time a couple times of week weather permitting.  I'm hopeful I can keep that up this fall and add more times in a week.

This is a long way to say that I have a two week plan and I'm sharing it in hopes it keeps me accountable.  We will forget alllll the other times and focus on this new time.

Week Goals
10,000 steps every day
60 ounces of water at work

M 9/7- 30 minute walk
T 9/8- 5 min walk, 1 min run = 30 min
W 9/9- 30 min walk - Abs
TH 9/10-  2 min walk, 2 min run = 30 min
F 9/11 - 20 minute fitness workout
Sat 9/12 - dumbbell arms Abs, 30 minute walk
Sun 9/13- 40 min walk

Week Goals
11,000 steps every day
70 ounces of water at work

M 9/14- 35 minute walk
T 9/15- 5 min walk 2 min run = 30 min
W 9/16- 35 min walk - Abs
TH 9/17 - 3 min walk, 3 min run = 30 min
F9/18 -  20 minute fitness workout
Sat 9/19 - dumbbell arms Abs, 30 min walk
Sun9 20 - 45 min walk

I'm hopeful that starting with 2 goals for the week and a plan for every day will help jump start my healthy living plan.  I know I need to really re-manage my food life but I want to take a bit more time tracking calories of what I am doing to help make switches in the coming weeks.  So, if you see me on social media, please ask if I've worked out today!

Please share your workout routine for the week or your healthy plans for eating for the next week!