A Week of Memes- Catching Up

Mailbox Monday- 

What arrived in YOUR mailbox this week? Visit Marcia at The Printed Page to leave a link to your post and see what other readers acquired! Here is what arrived at my house:

us-cover-compressedIn the last week I’ve received 4 books:  

Sonata for Miriam by Linda Olsson from Penguin

The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady from the author, for a TLC Book Tour stop

Who by Fire by Diana Spechler from the author

The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer from Penguin

 

 

Teaser Tuesdays~

tuesday-tMiz B and Teaser Tuesdays asks you to: Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

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imagedb-2cgiMine comes from page 140 of Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge, a memoir about the author’s years in foster care as a child.  

“And that day by the pool with Jason and me, if the camera had turned itself on our foster mother instead of us, the picture would have revealed a frightened girl who had eaten herself into omnipotent obesity.  Her form sloped with fat, as if the hungry belly she felt as a child had refused to be satisfied.”

 

Wordless Wednesday~

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Booking Through Thursday~

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Tami inspired this week’s question:

What book do you think should be made into a movie? And do you have any suggestions for the producers?

Or, What book do you think should NEVER be made into a movie?

Don’t forget to leave a link to your actual response (so people don’t have to go searching for it) in the comments—or if you prefer, leave your answers in the comments themselves!

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I’d love to see The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister on the big screen!   If I had the chance to cast the movie I could see Julia Roberts in the role of Lillian, the restaurant owner, and others I’d love to see in the ensemble cast would include Salma Hayak, Andrew McCarthy, and Betty White.  Hollywood, are you listening?

One book I NEVER want to see in the theater is The Road by Cormac McCarthy!  BLECH!  Bleak, ashen, awful wasteland with no explanation and no dialogue.  NO thanks.

 

Friday Fill-ins~

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And…here we go!    

1. When I look to the left, I see curtains

2. The upstairs bedroom is the room that has the best view in my home.

3. Let it work if it’s not broken.

4. Dirty Deeds done dirt cheap!

5. Voting is a responsibility that all qualified citizens must share.

6. If you have any chocolate or wine feel free to share it with me.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to PJs and popcorn with youngest daughter’s girl scout troop, tomorrow my plans include cleaning and Witch Mountain with my kids, Sheri and the twins, and Sunday, I want to relax and read!

Have a nice weekend, everybody!

The Sunday Salon

cookies_groupHappy Sunday!  I hope everyone had a great week and will have time for reading-n-relaxation today.  I’m not sure if reading is part of the plan for me today but I’m going to try.  My oldest starts confirmation classes at church this morning, which means I’ll drag my lazy butt to church as well.  Then later I have to load up my van with dozens of cases of Girl Scout cookies from a warehouse, bring them home, sort them out by ‘who sold what’, and distribute them to the girls in my troop.  OH, and I have to catch a mouse (or at least figure out how to do that).

Once, years ago, when I lived in a rural area in Michigan, we had a mouse in our house.  I remember my mother putting out traps, then being horrified to hear one go off in the middle of the night, but in the morning-no mouse.  This went on for days until finally we actually caught the helpless creature rotten rodent in the pantry.  I remember my sister and I finding the little thing stuck in the trap the next morning and feeling so sad.  It was also fascinating to look at, in a horrifying way- so much so that we talked our mother into letting us put the mouse in a Mason jar and taking it to school for Show and Tell.  I was maybe 8 years old.

cordless-mouse1But now there is definitely a mouse in my kitchen (hopefully it’s a mouse, and not mice).  I have seen the, ahem, ‘evidence’.  I have heard scampering at night.  And I’m not 8 years old anymore.  I have no loving feelings toward vermin.  If anyone else has ever dealt with this, please tell me what to do- do I buy traps?  Poison?  Get a cat (our dopey golden retriever is no mouser)?  Or call an exterminator?  I’m freaked out by it and want the dirty thing gone NOW.

Ok, on to reading.  This week I finished Sag Harbor for Barnes and Noble’s First Look online book club .  I haven’t written my review yet, but the writing was superb- although nothing much happens.  It will be a tricky review to write.  Sag Harbor’s author, Colson Whitehead, is active on the book club message boards at B&N, and I love having access to the author in that way.  I was able to ask him questions while reading the book, and he answered them immediately- so cool!  

I finished Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay this week too.  I’m still reeling from the story- it was powerful.  My book club will discuss it next Sunday night.  We had hoped to speak with the author by speaker phone, but she lives in Paris and because of the time difference, it isn’t going to work out.  She is, however, going to answer our questions via email, so I’ll post the questions and answers here with my review sometime after the 8th.  She’s also my newest Facebook friend!  

51svuaqeq5l_sl500_aa240_Today I hope to start One True Theory of Love by Laura Fitzgerald, one of my favorite authors.  It looks good and I can’t wait to start it.  My book club spoke to her when we discussed Veil of Roses a couple years back, and she was so warm and funny.  For anyone who enjoyed Veil of Roses, I have exciting news.. Laura is in the process of writing the sequel!  Yes!  We’ll find out what happens to Tami and Ike!  Laura will be guest posting here soon to share what it was like having her own neighborhood book club discuss her new book.  

Well I hope everyone has a great week!  I’m off on a mouse hunt..  all suggestions, advice, sympathy, comments, questions about the cleanliness of my house (it’s clean, I swear!), etc. are welcome and appreciated.

Guest Post and Giveaway: Sheri from A Novel Menagerie says, “Yeah, I’d Praise Book Clubs!”

My book club met on Sunday and we had the great pleasure to welcome a new member, Sheri from A Novel Menagerie!  She and I met through our children last summer, who by sheer coincidence were not only in the same unit at Girl Scout camp, but in the same cabin 2 years in a row.  The chances of that are so slim- one year they went in August, the next year June, one year they were in a sampler unit, the next year a horse unit- all with hundreds of other kids.  It almost seemed that fate was pushing us together.

At first Sheri was kind of stunned that we hit it off, because she says she “never gets along with other women”.   We bonded over our children (we each have two wild preteen girls- hers are twins, mine are “Irish twins”), we both have one brother named Bill (who, by yet another coincidence, attends our church), complicated relationships with our sisters, experience with insomnia (hers, and my husbands), our OCD tendencies, and of course, BOOKS!   I showed her my blog and told her about the book blogging community.  Sheri asked a million questions.  I sent her on her way with a few extra books I had hanging around.  She went home and started her amazing new blog, A Novel Menagerie, that very day.  If you haven’t seen it, you must go check it out.  She hosts memes, challenges, contests, and reads about 5 books a week (and I’m not even exaggerating!)  She also started an online business called BookCharming.com and makes these adorable floss book marks.  She has so much drive and energy and honestly, I don’t know how she does it all!

So when she asked me about my book club, I sadly told her that it was “full”.  We had what seemed the right amount of people (12) and the club had agreed that we wouldn’t be inviting any more.  But then, in January, someone dropped out.  I mentioned it to Sheri and before the words were out of my mouth, she was saying YES!  So here she is, with impressions of her first book club meeting.  Welcome, Sheri!

Yeah, I’d Praise Book Clubs!

My constant whining about not being in a book club was more than Lisa could bear.  Month after month, the nagging became like nails scratching on a chalkboard.  She had no choice.  Find a spot for me or listen to 11 more months of “poor me.”  I think she chose wisely…yes, she is indeed a smart girl!

So, after finagling me into the book club, I immediately purchased every book on our reading list.  I was bound and determined to know each book inside and out, be ready for any question, and be worthy of the book club.  The books arrived:

The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Sarah’s Key

The Invisible Wall

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Our first meeting:  Oscar Wao.  Now, this book is a Pulitzer Prize winner.  Of course, then it must be good.  And, it was.  But, the book was somewhat of a grueling read.  It was not an easy book to get through.  As I spewed out of my mouth in the book club meeting:  

It’s like childbirth; you are not really enjoying it when you’re going through it.  But, once it’s over with you’re glad you did it.  

That’s it.  They’re giving me das boot.  No.  Wait.  Ellen agreed.  Whew!  Let me go back in time to explain.  

So, like a little Nervous Nelly, I walked down the street with Lisa to the book club meeting.  They aren’t going to like me.  I won’t fit in.  I didn’t read the Reader’s Guide questions thoroughly enough.  I wasn’t even sure how I completely felt about the book.  I walk into Ellen’s home.  Immaculate.  Oh, I am such a sub-standard mother.  Ellen would never even sit on my couches.  I’m going to have to host my meeting at Lisa’s house.  There were a few people to meet and… (can you hear the angels singing?) WINE!  I thank God Jesus was into wine!  It’s a goodie that God makes sure is around for me!  Everything looked great.  There was food, wine, the immaculate house.  I was making conversation with whoever would talk with me.  Let’s see if I can remember all of their names (whoever I forget, please forgive me):

bc-bluebirdEllen

Diane

Elaine

Sara

Lisa

Sheri (that’s me)

Orchid

Maggie

Valerie

Tammy

So, Lisa thankfully sat by me during dinner and helped me to remember who’s who, names, etc.  The meeting soon started and Orchid (and her amazingly cool hair) led the meeting.  She read aloud.  But, she read a passage that was written in partial Spanish.  When she said the passage aloud, she said it entirely in English.  <Enter my big mouth> 

bc-sunset“Do you speak Spanish?  I mean, I can read it, but not speak it.  And, well…” (God, Sheri shut up!)

Yes, she did.  And, my inappropriate outburst led into a discussion about the foreign language in the book.  (Thank God!)  The conversation continued and it seemed like we all had something to say. 

My SELF observations:

1. I am the only dumbass who didn’t know that the splotch on the cover was the face of Oscar with a wing coming out of the back of his head.

2. I am the only idiot who thought that Oscar shouldn’t have quit on Yunior when Yunior was trying to help him lose weight.  

3. I’m the only deranged person who didn’t feel sorry for Oscar.  

4. I talk too much.

5. I don’t know enough.

6. Maybe I’m the only one who thinks my thoughts are “spot-on.”  No, that’s not a maybe.  It’s a for sure!

9780312370848My GROUP observations:

1. They were lovely women who really enjoyed this opportunity to get together and discuss their love for books. 

2. These were some INTELLIGENT chicks!

3. There is a common, invisible thread that ties them together.  They appreciate this book club and each other.

4. If I bribe them with my AWESOME Key Lime Martinis, they may let me come back again.  I hope so because I’m almost done with Sarah’s Key.

5. Lisa is my friend!

If I could only talk to intelligent women about the books I read ALL DAY LONG.  It would be like Heaven.  I wonder if I should try to find a job in the book industry.  I’m turning into a one-dimensional person… BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS.  Maybe I need to be in 4 book clubs… one for every Sunday.  Yes, that might cure my itch!

Thank you to Lisa for letting me smuggle my way into the group and share my neurosis with her readers.  

Sheri is donating 2 beautiful BookCharming.com Book Marks to my 100K celebration.  The first one is the Bluebird design, and the 2nd one is Sunset.  Gorgeous, right?  She’s so flippin’ talented!  This chick has skills!!  I’m going to throw in our book club’s next selection, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay to go along with the beautiful book marks.  Leave a comment by Friday, February 20th for a chance to win.

To read Sheri’s review of Sarah’s Key, click HERE.  I had to skim it because I haven’t read the book yet.  Hope I finish it before next month’s meeting!!

The Sunday Salon

This week I read The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister. Usually when I finish a book, I really enjoy the sense of completion from striking another title off my TBR list and moving on to the next. But turning the last page on this one was similar to having dinner at a beautiful restaurant with your closest friends and being forced to leave the warm happy atmosphere too soon.  I wasn’t ready.  I wanted to linger. 

Then, starting the next book- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao– was like walking away from that beautiful restaurant in a contented little fog and distractedly stepping off the curb to cross the street, only to be hit by a car careening wildly- wait! make that a van, one that’s full of Spanish speaking illegals.  Where am I?  Who are these strangers and what are they talking about?  “Jarring” is the best way to describe it.  

Some English words on the first three pages of Oscar Wao that I probably should look up to be certain of the meaning: 

Colloquially

Syphilitic

Dique

Provenance

Hypeman

Veneration

 And some Spanish words on those same pages that I don’t know or can’t guess the meaning of from the context: 

Caudillo

Anciano sanmacorisano

Carajito

Jojote

Conazo

I’ve never read a book with a dictionary on my lap, much less an English-Spanish dictionary, but maybe I should use one this time.  Although now that I’m three or four chapters into it, the unfamiliar words are bothering me less and less.  I’m growing accustomed to the rhythm of the book.

What about you?  Do you look up words as you read, or do you skip over them?  Do a multitude of foreign words and place names bother you or do you get used to it?

Happy Sunday!  Enjoy the long weekend!  

Friday Fill-ins 1-9-09

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1. It’s January; hot chocolate time!

2. A night out is what I crave most right now.

3. Cork and wine go together like feet and fuzzy socks.

4. Time with friends is so nourishing.

5. Let us dare to be more spontaneous.

6. All are welcome in my home.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to an evening with my sister and nephew, tomorrow my plans include cleaning the house and Sunday, I want to host my book club meeting- without any drama, hopefully!

Sunday Salon

imagesIt has finally happened.  Months have gone by since I was utterly consumed with a book, so much so that I read it at every opportunity and devoured it in a day.  But that was my day yesterday.

I was looking for fuel for the raging reading inferno that is my 11 year old daughter when I came across Suey’s 2008 Top 10 list.  In the number one slot for YA and JF (Junior Fiction) was Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.  I’ve seen that title around so I thought I’d investigate.  After reading the description on amazon and seeing that the appropriate age was 6th-8th grade, I decided to get it.  My local library didn’t have it, but I had a $5 Borders reward to spend, so I placed it on  hold through their website and we drove over to get it.  

I’d told my kids before we went into the store that we were just going in to pick up the book and that if they wanted anything else, they’d have to use their own money (they are loaded with birthday and Christmas money but have deposited most of it in the bank).  I’m not playing the “I’ll pay you back” game anymore. In line at Borders, there were tons of gift books and Christmas clearance items stacked up, 30% off.  Things like “Animal Art” complete with colored pencils, and “How to Draw Faces”, and a “Rock Art” set with paints- just the kind of things my kids love.  And then, *cue the angels* my daughter saw a calligraphy set with markers of varying width- $7.99 marked down from $12.99.  She is fascinated by this style of writing, but I stuck to my guns and said, “You can come back with your own money.”  Having left her purse in the car, she looked at me with horror, but I said, “We talked about this before we came in, remember?”  I’m doing my best to teach them the value of a buck.  

Back in the car, she frantically went through her little purse to see if she had enough.  I reminded her about tax, which sent her into a frenzy of counting pennies.  I had to chip in 64 cents (I’m not made of stone!) but she was able to pull it all together, mostly in quarters, and she ran back in to buy her book.  The line was long so it took another 15 minutes, during which time I decided to open up Life As We Knew It.

I was immediately drawn in, but very early on I decided this wasn’t going to be a book for my daughter.  On page 5 a joke is made about a high school girl named Samantha.  Rather than call her boy crazy or promiscuous, they say, “Well, there’s always a man in SaMANtha” and then there’s a short discourse about sex before marriage.  So, no.  I don’t want my girl thinking high schoolers are running around having sex right and left, even if they are.  I couldn’t let my 11 year old read the book until I discovered just how raunchy it would get.  I’m happy to report that the incident on page 5 was the only objectionable sexual reference in the book (makes me wonder why they even put that in).

I told my daughter I wanted to look the book over a little more before she read it.  I’m not sure she even heard me as she was in rapture over her calligraphy kit and had already pulled out the pens to admire them.  “Look how cool the pens are!  Aren’t they great, Mom?”  I know she’ll value this little kit more because she bought it with her own money than if I had just put it on the counter and handed over my credit card.

Our next stop was the mall.  My girls received Claire’s gift cards in their stockings and were itching to spend them.  While they browsed and weighed the value of hair accessories vs. toe socks, I sat on a bench and read Life As We Knew It.  40 minutes later, when they emerged with their purchases, apologetic for taking so long and excitedly chatty about how they spent their $10 gift cards, it was all I could do to tear myself away.

I read in the food court while the girls stood in line at Chic-Fil-A and Sbarro.  I read while they ate and people watched.  I read while they applied makeup (“Is it ok, Mom?”  “What?  Huh? Oh, sure, go ahead.”)  I read in the car at red lights.  I got home and read while the kids ran down the street to rake leaves at a neighbors’ house ($1 a bag).  I read while my husband took the outdoor  Christmas lights down and asked, “Weren’t you planning to take down the tree?”.  I read as I answered, “Tomorrow”.    I read as I made dinner and while everyone ate.  I read while the kids did calligraphy and watched a movie and put themselves to bed.  I read as my husband made mad, passionate love to me.  Ha Ha.  Ok that didn’t actually happen, but I definitely was that distracted by this book!  I read straight through the news and Saturday Night Live, but started slowing down as I neared the last few pages, not wanting it to end.  At 12:05 I closed the book, teary eyed but happy.  

Life As We Knew It.  Great book.  Just make sure to clear your schedule if you decide to pick it up.

Enjoy your Sunday!

The Removal of Christmas

Would someone out there like to come over and get rid of Christmas for me?  The tree and all the decorations need to be taken down and put away, and the cookies need to be tossed.  It seems my husband and I have grown increasingly lazy over the last two weeks and lack all motivation (the cookies may have something to do with that).

And while you’re at it, could I get you to take the lights off the house too?  I warned my husband that “what goes up, must come down” (and be stored somewhere) but he didn’t heed the warning.  He put SOOOOO many lights and inflatables in the yard and on the house.  Our street looked like the Vegas strip, as there was an unspoken competition between my husband and two of the other ‘manly men’ on the street over which house had the biggest and best decorations.  Men.

 The neighbors took down their decorations yesterday but our house is still quite festive looking-even though we are painfully aware that IT’S OVER.  

When do you get rid of Christmas and all the trimmings?

Friday Fill-ins

fridayfillin1. The world is changing.

2. “See you next summer” was the last thing I said.

3. I wonder how I will get through the next two weeks.

4. Clarity is at the end of all things.

5. There’s something to be said for a good night’s sleep.

6. Home is where I want to be.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to all my guests being gone, tomorrow my plans include a day trip to the local mountains and Sunday, I want to read!

Ho Ho HO

I swore I’d never be one of those bloggers who apologizes for their laziness and lack of blog posts- I’m not delusional enough (yet) to believe anybody truly cares that a week has gone by since my last post- but rather than apologize I’ll attempt to explain.  

Coupled with the usual holiday crazies and being a HO I’ve felt much more foggy than bloggy lately.  The time I normally spend reading or blogging (late night and early morning) I’ve spent sleeping, planning, worrying, or eating (oink).  We’re dealing with some big issues at my house and I’ve been turning to food as a crutch and a comfort from the stress, which doesn’t really matter if I stay in my bathrobe for the rest of my life but is a bit of a problem if I want to fit into my actual clothes.  I was talking to a friend about this last night at a neighborhood party- maybe friend is too strong a word- anyway, as she nibbled on a baby carrot she said, “When life gets difficult, I turn to exercise.  I always feel better after a run.”  I wanted to slap her, but instead I smiled, nodded, and excused myself to make a second trip to the chocolate fountain. 

Opening gifts OMG!  THAT"S SO CUTE!

Opening gifts OMG! THAT"S SO CUTE!

The last week has been a whirlwind of doctor appointments (4) and party preparations.  My youngest turned 10 Saturday and we had a slumber party with 7 giggly wiggly girls.  They screamed, played games, laughed, screamed, sang karaoke, went on a scavenger hunt, screamed, and ate tons of junk food.  Why do 10 year olds respond to everything with a scream?  It started the minute the girls began to arrive.  “I GOT A GUINEA PIG FOR MY BIRTHDAY.”  “NO WAY!!!”  “OMG THAT IS SUCH A CUTE SKIRT!”  “I LOVE YOUR MONKEY SLIPPERS!!!!”  “WHO WANTS TO PLAY A GAME?”  ME ME ME!!  SCREAM SCREAM SCREAM  The one thing I forgot to buy for the party was a set of earplugs for my husband and me! 

img_1626The picture is from a game my daughter invented-Pin the Lips on the Jonas Bros.  This game elicited more screams and peals of laughter than anything else they did all night.  I have to agree that the Joe Bros are pretty cute, even if Joe’s eyebrows look like they were drawn on with a black Sharpie.  The gaggle of girlies finally collapsed into sleep around 2 am.  

The next morning we took my daughter and two friends out for a round of golf.  It was a Southern California postcard kind of day- imagine palm trees against a brilliant sun, blue skies, puffy white clouds- we were very lucky as it was the only sunny day in an otherwise cold and rainy week. 

As for this week’s reading- I finished Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe (review tomorrow) and was able to read about half of Swim to Me by Betsy Carter.  Next up- The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and Other Small Acts of Liberation by Elizabeth Berg.  It just seems appropriate. 

What are you reading this week?

Sunday Salon- at night

Rockin' around the Christmas tree

Rockin' around the Christmas tree

Ok, I do realize that one should never drink and blog, but here I am, post-book club meeting, a tiny tad buzzed with no one in the house.  It seems like a good time to type up a Sunday Salon post.

Tonight our club discussed Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishi-something-or-other (my review can be found here).  The reviews were mixed but the discussion was terrific.  One thing I so enjoy about being in a book club (aside from the tremendous food!) is hearing other points of view about a book you thought you knew and were smart enough to understand- HA!  One club member brought something up that I never thought of and I’m so glad she made the point because I totally missed it.  The book is essentially about cloning and about a ‘school’ that treated one group of clones humanely- something like students but still less than human.  The point that I missed was how throughout history, groups of people were dehumanized as an attempt to justify the poor treatment they received- she cited slavery, the Holocaust, etc.  Seems obvious but I didn’t see it.  I viewed the book as a much more straightforward commentary on modern medical practices and politics and missed the bigger picture.  I have such a better appreciation of the book now.

I haven’t done much reading this week.  I’ve been dealing with some weighty family issues and that’s taken up a lot of my energy.  Plus the holidays are looming, and in my family I am the Christmas Holiday Organizer (aka the Christmas HO), which includes everything from decorating, planning, shopping, cleaning, baking, tree trimming, sending cards, etc. etc.  Ah, the responsibilities of a HO in December are endless.  I’m sure all you other HOs understand.

I did read about half of Chez Moi by Agnes Desarthe and am enjoying it.  It’s a short book and I’d love to sit and just polish it off, but I haven’t been able to devote a good chunk of time to it.  Maybe this coming week.  I’m not sure what I’ll read after that, but don’t worry about me- I have a huge stack of books to choose from.

What are you reading this week?