I went to BAM yesterday, searching for something; I didn't know what. I was craving something but had no idea what...moreSearching, searching, searching....
I went to BAM yesterday, searching for something; I didn't know what. I was craving something but had no idea what would fill my need. A different author? A different genre? Something.... After walking around and about the store for a bit, I honed in on this. Alice Hoffman! Wait.... Alice Hoffman had cancer? What was I holding in my hands? Words of pain and survival. Advice about friendship and heroes and eating chocolate and making plans to do something special, like going to the shore. There I stood, in the middle of BAM and in front of several shoppers, with tears in my eyes. I'd found something.
Hoffman's insights are raw, pluming the depths, but also filled with strength and perseverance. One doesn't need to have experienced cancer to find meaning here. My one disappointment? The chapters were too short. Just as I began to fall into the message, she'd stop. Why...? I actually felt my fingers clenching a few times, wanting to hold onto the bit of wisdom she was beginning to unravel. Oh, how, ... frustrating. Of course, perhaps she made the choice to start but leave certain things unfinished. The moral ...? It's for us to grab on and finish for ourselves.(less)
Abe Teal, who is being raised by his mother in Alabama, learns many of the lessons learned by 5th graders. Life is challenging and lonely for single p...moreAbe Teal, who is being raised by his mother in Alabama, learns many of the lessons learned by 5th graders. Life is challenging and lonely for single parents. Teenaged sisters, who pine for Rick Springfield and sass their mamas, can get themselves in a world of trouble, especially if they sneak out of the house in the middle of the night to go parking with 19-year old boys. Of course, given the fact that Abe's mother is Alvin's only police detective, Abe takes in more than the average pre-teen. Teenaged girls start to go missing, again, and Leah Teal almost loses her sanity and her job tracking the rapist turned murderer.
It's not often that I give a book two stars. I debated my rating but couldn't give this a three, though it's closer to a 2.8. Why am I not as enamored with this debut novel as The New York Times and others? On this point, I can give this book a three. Three reasons for my disappointment. First, there is no way, no possible way, frankly, that Alvin's police force could be so stupid. Sure, Alvin is a small town. And, .... There are only three people on the force. However, .... I grew up around police officers, men who worked in a small state. Not one bit of the storyline or the dialogue is true to form. In addition to missing the tone and voice of police officers, the idea that an 11-year old would need to explain evidence, a time-line, and motive to a police chief and detective would require me to suspend disbelief. I won't even go down the avenue of taking said child to a crime scene and allowing him to walk up to and view a raped and mutilated body. In addition to that, many reviewers have claimed this book and To Kill a Mockingbird are two butter beans in a butter bean pod. Sadly, that's just not so. Yes, there are certain similarities. A Southern town, a family's loves and struggles, and a sleepy sort of pace. However, it's lacking a very key point. That point is my third reason for sighing, pitifully. It's missing the wisdom of Atticus. More specifically, Hiebert's exploration of racism is the poor man's Lee. For Leah Teal to tell Abe he's making racist comments and, when he asks for her to explain, to tell him to figure it out, ... well, that's far from what Lee accomplished with Atticus and Scout. Further, given how many times she voiced that and how many times Abe wondered why and how he was being racist.... Honestly, for me, a woman with some American Indian ancestry, granted and admitted, it became akin to an obnoxious punchline. A quasi-joke, even ending with lines about an Asian American wanting, or not, to eat a goldfish and Abe's confusion as to why his mother sometimes laughs at his comments and is sometimes offended. Abe guesses he'll not know what's racist and what isn't until he opens his mouth and says what he's thinking. Seriously? And that's the final insight offered on racism. No, this isn't Lee's classic.
Clearly, I've been quite critical of this novel. (Will my review disappear? I've heard rumors, GR.) I don't do so without thought or with joy. I'm sure some, I know some, found this to be a lovely read. Given my experience, upbringing, and knowledge of TKAM and the reviews linking the two, I did not find this book to live up to the hype, which poses a cautionary tale. A book that might have been a three became a two, in part, due to the fact that it was not what it was billed to be. (less)
Oh, my! What a hoot! I never knew a book about cleaning could be so funny. So, .... It's fall, it's getting colder, and I know a long and hard winter...moreOh, my! What a hoot! I never knew a book about cleaning could be so funny. So, .... It's fall, it's getting colder, and I know a long and hard winter is coming. I, ...? I'm nesting. In addition to making homemade chicken soup and applesauce, I'm reading about cleaning and organization. Instead of simply being a book that includes tips regarding the best way to fold one's sheets, Cilley gives tips on how to set up a system for cleaning and organization ... in a very quirky way. She definitely made me laugh and boosted my spirits! I fear the system might be a bit much for me, but I intend to take parts and pieces of it!(less)
So, .... I've read a book on Feng Shui before. Here's another.... It's a quick and easy read. As before, I'm not entirely sure I believe in the premis...moreSo, .... I've read a book on Feng Shui before. Here's another.... It's a quick and easy read. As before, I'm not entirely sure I believe in the premise. Having said that, many in Asia have used these principals for thousands of years, and I feel they have certain knowledge regarding health and balance that is lacking elsewhere. If nothing else, for example, having a clutter free home is bound to make people feel better and less stressed. Yes? (less)
Something drew me to this book over the weekend. While in a little shop looking at cards for my grandmother, I spotted this book in the corner. A chil...moreSomething drew me to this book over the weekend. While in a little shop looking at cards for my grandmother, I spotted this book in the corner. A children's book...? Please. Picture book, at that! Yet, the longer I stayed and the more cards I found, this book seemed to call, "Hello, there.... Come look! Enter my pages. Join my world." In the end and on the whim of the century, I picked it up and left with it and my cards.
The premise...? A very old house, from the 1600's and a plague year, is left empty. Then, in 1900, the house is rediscovered. A new roof is added and a new family moves in. As time passes, a young woman "takes her future in her hands" and marries a young man, and the house is filled with dreams again. Yes, they have a baby. Hope enters. The man dies in WWI; sorrow fills the house. On and on, throughout the years. The family lives. Yet, it's through the house that we feel a connection and emotion. The artwork is lovely, many details catch the eye. We watch the changing landscape. Just grass, tree and stone, at first. Grapes, wheat and electric lines later. Until, .... In the end, the widow dies, the house is bulldozed, and a newer and chicer house is built by a family for whom more is less. Abrupt, yes?
Sigh.... While this book called to me and prompted me to pay a little over $20 for it, I didn't love it. Oh, I wanted to love it. For the whim and the price, I needed to love it! Sadly, I only liked it. Unfortunately, I got hung up on some of the details. The baby born and, two years later, the father dying. Followed by the widow sending the children, four or five children who looked to be around five or six, off to school; life goes on. What? In my brain, I did swift calculations. The baby should be just toddling. And, ...! Where did the rest of the children come from? Dates accompany the pages, you see. Later, the boy leaves his mother. Mother and house grieve.... Yet, by the date, he'd have been in his 40's. Yes, I suppose that is possible. He might have lived with his mother until he was something like 46, but..... Ehhh.... Of all people to get hung up on math, who knew it would have been me?! Though, in truth, I do find it rather difficult to suspend disbelief. Further, I found myself wanting more. How did she deal with widowhood? I wanted more from the "moral" at the end; the moral dejure ... foolish people for whom more is less. Anyone could have written in that lesson. I wanted....
I found myself ... like the house, interestingly, ... wanting more.(less)
"For a while I could not remember some word I was in need of, and I was bereaved and said: where are you, beloved friend?" One of the smallest poems I...more"For a while I could not remember some word I was in need of, and I was bereaved and said: where are you, beloved friend?" One of the smallest poems I've ever read, titled "After I Fall Down the Stairs at the Golden Temple" and in Oliver's offerings from this tiny volume. Given that we're currently dealing with my grandmother's dementia and the fact that she continually forgets that my grandfather died in March, along with words and what was for lunch, this poem touched me in a very elemental way. Consisting of only a few lines, it cuts to the heart of the matter, for words and all else. Where are you, beloved friend? That totally and completely captures the look in her eyes when she's telling a story or asks a question, pauses, looks shocked, blank and horrified and says, "Oh! What is that word?!" She knows it to be a simple world, knows it to have been a beloved friend, yet ....
Clearly, this is Oliver's strength, finding wisdom, beauty, and meaning in the simplest things and in the simplest ways. Many of these poems, as do most of her poems, center around nature in New England, which holds meaning for me. I know I'll use some of these poems in the classroom, as they're metaphors and perfect for that. However, while I was touched by a few poems, I expected to connect with the majority of her poems; I didn't. (less)
Loved this! Truly loved it! Great ideas for using pictures. Crafty but classy. A decorative box. A lovely serving tray. A clipboard. Love the clipboar...moreLoved this! Truly loved it! Great ideas for using pictures. Crafty but classy. A decorative box. A lovely serving tray. A clipboard. Love the clipboard idea! The projects look clean and smart. Supply lists, step-by-step instructions with pictures. I see some hours being devoted to this in my future. Just in time for summer photos!(less)
Oh, wow! Looking for a little book filled with amazing ideas for creating an array of amazing journals and notebooks? If so, stop looking. Beautiful p...moreOh, wow! Looking for a little book filled with amazing ideas for creating an array of amazing journals and notebooks? If so, stop looking. Beautiful pictures, detailed supply lists, easy to follow step-by-step instructions! Some of the journals look somewhat involved. However, many are so simple ... yet beautiful ... that I can't believe I didn't come up with the ideas myself. Great ideas for gift giving. I've already started my own, the "inspired house" journal! So fun!(less)
Liked this book. Crammed full of so many ideas. Amazing gardens, that one can dream of having one day. Ideas for garden layouts. Information for plant...moreLiked this book. Crammed full of so many ideas. Amazing gardens, that one can dream of having one day. Ideas for garden layouts. Information for planting and maintaining; information on various flowers and trees. So much to help one with gardening. Some beautiful pictures of lovely gardens also allow for daydreaming....(less)
If one can't afford a vacation or the purchase of a second home in Tuscany, one can immerse herself in the sunshine, Cyprus trees, and recipes of this...moreIf one can't afford a vacation or the purchase of a second home in Tuscany, one can immerse herself in the sunshine, Cyprus trees, and recipes of this book. A good combination of story with fabulous pictures of Tuscany, including architecture, interior design, gardens and more. Quite certain I'm going to be thinking of sunshine and the Italian countryside and tables filled with Italian food and wine bottles illuminated by the glow of candlelight for quite some time!(less)
Comets and top secret satellites. Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. Historians and spies. Gray and Monk, top spies for Sigma Force, and their fellow sp...moreComets and top secret satellites. Attila the Hun and Genghis Khan. Historians and spies. Gray and Monk, top spies for Sigma Force, and their fellow spies, scientists, and friends take us on a wild romp around Europe, Korea, Mongolia and other Asian locales. Why? To save the world, of course. A satellite attempting to gather information on a oncoming comet crashes to Earth after its twin shows a picture of destroyed US cities, as if foretelling the future. Gray and his team attempt to locate the downed wreckage and supposedly piece together the mysteries of dark energy and multi-universes.
On the one hand, it reads as a good suspense. In addition, characters are fleshed out a bit more, including Seichan's childhood, relationship with her mother, and willingness to move forward with her life. Further, there are intriguing bits of information scattered throughout; I never knew people were implanting magnetic devices in fingertips. (!) And, in the end, there's a twist that is meant to tug at our heartstrings.
Having said all this, I only liked it. A fun summer read, which didn't go far enough into explanations of dark energy and how satellites could possibly foretell the future, dark energy or no.(less)
John Donne, English poet from yesteryear, once said, "More than kisses, letters mingle souls." Elspeth Dunn and David Graham experience this firsthand...moreJohn Donne, English poet from yesteryear, once said, "More than kisses, letters mingle souls." Elspeth Dunn and David Graham experience this firsthand while corresponding with one another, across the divide of an ocean, about poetry, aspirations, fears, and life. Frankly, Elspeth, nicknamed Sue, and David, affectionately, if creepily, called "my dear boy" or Davey, aren't the only ones to mingle souls while partaking in these letters. This book, filled solely with letters, past and present, invite the reader to become intimately at one with the tale. Oh, and, what a tale. Friends become lovers. Mothers reunite with lost sons. Sisters with brothers. Fathers with daughters. All taking place just prior to WWI, throughout WWI, and into WWII. Further, in the end, as if it could be the end, the lovers are reunited.
Oh, my dear....
Why, given all that, do I feel somewhat sick?
Could it be due to the fact that Elspeth has, or rather had, or has ... a husband? A nasty shock, that. In the beginning, when she joked with Davey and asked how he knew she wasn't married and said she was Mrs. Dunn, well, I convinced myself it was, truly, said in jest. She couldn't really and truly be married ... and ... be so open with her mind and her heart and her soul with a college student she'd never met. Not with a husband, no. But, oh, yes. A torrid love affair, years later, with the student who is now a man, when said husband is in the trenches. A brother who can't get over the betrayal. The sad, sad truth about the husband. A quiet fisherman who didn't seem to love, at least not with the flourish of words and poems, but who loved, perhaps, more deeply. That tin. That saltwater stained tin! The words, "We can't choose who we love," echoing but the inner knowing that we most certainly can, can choose to love those we vowed to and can choose, at the very outset, to have faith in those we love, in our choices and promises, and in ourselves. There didn't need to be another letter, after all....
A great love affair? Yes, ... but .... While I was drawn to the saga of their trouble-twisted lives, I couldn't help but also feel bereft. Bereft in a sea of certain selfishness, selfishness and, frankly, an amount of immaturity or a lack of courage that found its way into almost every character and so many of their choices. That's not the whole of it, I know, but that ended up tinging the whole of it. Life and love can be hard. True. Further, all of the characters, each and every one, loved. And, yet, did they love enough? After all, true mingling deals with more than words.(less)