Review: Two Years, No Rain by Shawn Klomparens

coverTwo Years, No Rain by Shawn Klomparens is a fitting book for me to review right now, as the first rainstorm of the year blew through today.  After digging out the umbrellas and dusting off the boots it occurred to me that the kids probably wouldn’t fit into any of their rain gear.  Yes, it has been that long since we’ve had rain.  I can’t remember the last time we had measurable rainfall in Southern California, but it was probably back in March or April.

The weather is used as a metaphor in Two Years, No Rain.  Andy Dunne is a weatherman on the radio but his job is a bit dull and predictable, what with the ever-present sunshine and mild temps in San Diego County.  Not only has the climate been dry; Andy’s career and personal life have gone through a long drought as well.  But the storm clouds of change are looming on the horizon…

Andy’s marriage has failed after his wife cheated on him repeatedly.   Even so, he feels responsible because he hasn’t been an attentive husband.  For the last two years he’s been pining away for a married colleague, Hillary.  Late night phone calls with wine glasses in hand (drunk dialing?) and frequent texting (“What are you wearing?”) are as far as the relationship has gone, but there’s an emotional investment here that he can’t deny.

Hillary sets him up on an interview for a new children’s TV show similar to Blues Clues and he lands the job.  He starts a workout regime in order to prepare for his on-air gig and within weeks he looks and feels better than ever and is being recognized whenever he goes out, and not just by kids.  Hot young moms all over town want to buy him a drink or get his autograph.  He likes the attention to a point but is mostly uninterested and wants to be with Hillary.  He’s waited for her (and the rain) for a very long time.

Hillary’s husband has taken notice of all the messages between them and tells Andy to back off.  The indignant Hillary tells her husband she can be friends with whoever she wants, and soon Andy and Hillary have regular lunch dates and are getting cozier and cozier.  However Hillary is inconsistent (come here.. go away.. come here.. go away) and Andy is confused.  Hillary’s husband is neglectful and often absent, making her open to Andy’s attentions at times but also leaving her with guilt over their relationship.

Andy drinks too much, makes some poor choices, gets really angry,  holds a grudge,   passes out, falls down, ignores health warnings, finds success, carries on with a married woman, and buries his true feelings.  He’s also sweet, wounded, vulnerable, a good uncle, and a nice guy.  In other words, he’s a very realistic and relatable character.

I liked Andy and hoped he would figure everything out, but he also frustrated me.  He wasn’t exactly a man of action.  He was rather passive and just let things happen to him,.  I wanted him to be more of a take charge guy; more John Wayne, less.. I don’t know.  I’m trying to think of an actor that’s kind of bland.   He had a certain charm, especially in the scenes with his niece, and I did like him, but I was really waiting for him to be a more manly man.  But that was not to be.

I enjoyed Two Years, No Rain.  It was unusual reading a chick-lit style book with a guy as the main character.  That was a first for me and it was a refreshing change of pace. There were funny moments, good dialogue, and unusual situations.  If you like chick lit, but are looking for something a little different,  give this one a try!

A bunch of us discussed this book over the summer.  Check out this post to see the comments.  You can visit the author’s website and learn more about his work HERE.

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Sunday Salon

It’s finally SUNDAY!  I think a lot of us bloggers have a BBAW hangover this weekend.  So many posts to read, so many giveaways, so many awards and so much excitement!  It was a great week, put on by the tireless My Friend Amy, who did a phenomenal job putting it all together and keeping track of everything.  A round of applause for AMY!  (clap, clap, clap)

My BBAW giveaways will be ending this week too;  this one on Monday, and this one on Tuesday.  Hurry and enter if you haven’t already!

Fall has arrived here in Southern California. I used to love this time of year growing up in Michigan- back to school, sweater weather, fall colors, apple picking.  The change of seasons is more subtle in So. Cal. but when you’ve lived her awhile you start to notice small things.  We go from hot to warm, green to brown, and dry to not quite as dry, over the course of several months.  It’s still blazing hot right now, but it cools off in the evenings, and it’s chilly in the early morning.  The kids are back in school (and already have tons of homework), and by next weekend we’ll start to see pumpkins and scarecrows on porches to remind us that it’s fall, since the weather doesn’t offer much of a clue.

I’ve got so much reading lined up but it’s a challenge to find time.  My husband is in China on business, so I’ve been a “single mom” for the past week.  Things I’ve had to do without him include:

* going to Back to School night alone

* taking the girls on an overnight campout at their school (I  made the kids put the tent up, so it wasn’t that bad- it was just the carting things back and forth and the sleeping on the ground that sucked!)

* dealing with the emotions (“I miss daddy” sniff sniff)

* hauling the garbage cans to the curb and back (his job)

* feeding the dog and picking up poop (also his job)

* taking my youngest to her golf lesson (always a daddy/daughter thing)  

On the plus side, I’ve only cooked dinner once all week.  A couple nights we had leftovers, a couple nights we went out, and one night we had “breakfast for dinner”.  Oh, and I haven’t shaved my legs.  Ha!

Right now I’m reading Peony in Love by Lisa See.  I’ve wanted to read this since it came out, but was waiting for my book club to vote it in.  So far I LOVE it.  I was already a big fan after reading Snow Flower, now I’m a bigger fan.  Her writing is so lush and evocative- you get such a sense of the surroundings, you can almost smell the jasmine on the breeze.  Lisa is going to join our book club meeting in October by speaker phone and we could not be more excited!  

Next on the TBR pile is Immortal by Traci Slatton for Jennifer’s online book club at Literate Housewives (not to be confused with her regular blog, Literate Housewife). This one is somehow a cross between historical fiction and time travel.  It’s set in Florence in the 14th century, and the back cover says something about a golden boy having to make a choice between immortality and his only chance to find his true love (I’m paraphrasing wildly).  

After that, it’s on to The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff for a TLC Book Tour stop here on October 30th.  It’s about Ann Eliza Young, 19th wife of Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon church.  There’s also a parallel story about a present day murder in a polygamist family.  I can’t wait to start it.  

And last, but hopefully not least, I’ll be reading Run by Ann Patchett.  The only Patchett I’ve read is Bel Canto, which I intensely disliked, but because my friend Jill at Fizzy Thoughts liked Run so much, and then offered to send me her copy, I’m going to give it a try.  I’m also interested in Patchett’s Truth and Beauty, about her friendship with Lucy Grealy (Autobiography of a Face), so I’m going to give her a second chance, and then possibly a third.  

I’m curious- If you’ve read a book that you didn’t like at all, do you give an author another chance and read more of their work?  Or do you “fire them” forever?  

Happy Sunday!

The Sunday Salon

Wow, it’s been hot here in Southern California.  Our normal June Gloom is nowhere to be found.  

My daughter is going to summer camp tomorrow for 9 days.  Her bags are packed and she’s ready to go. It’s a Girl Scout camp 100 miles away from home, and she will be in the horse unit this year; grooming, feeding, and riding horses, and mucking out stalls (blech!), but she loves it all.  She’s most excited about trail riding, which she hasn’t done too much of in the past.  The camp had an Open House yesterday, so we all went up there to see it, even though the girls went to camp last year.  They wanted to show us what cabins they were in and tell us different things they did.  Plus this is my daughter’s first year in the horse area, so we wanted to see that.  I stuck this book into her duffle bag just in case she has any time to read.  It’s about a brave 10 year old girl, and I want her to be brave at camp!  I think she’ll like it.

I had lots of reading time on the way to the Open House and back.  I just finished Karen Harrington’s Janeology Friday (the review will be written soon!), and literally minutes after turning the last page, a package from Hyperion arrived on my doorstep with two new ARCs, House and Home by Kathleen McCleary and Sweetsmoke by David Fuller.  Even though I have a huge TBR pile, on our way out the door to the camp I grabbed House and Home.  There was some grumbling from The Red Tent and A Thousand Splendid Suns, who have been in the TBR stack for months, but House and Home had an appealing cover (the ARC has a completely different cover than the one shown here-blue with a box of wooden matches- and a picture of a house on the box) and the blurb on the back sounded really interesting.  And it was!  I read it straight through in one day.  It was terrific.  The author is a reporter and writer for HGTV, Good Housekeeping, and The New York Times. This is her first novel, and I was floored not only by the excellent writing, but how many parallels there were to my own life.  House and Home is set to be released July 1st, and I’ll write that review soon, too.  This is one I’ll be telling my friends about.

I started another book today while my kids swam in my mom’s pool.  For once it’s not an ARC or a book for review, but one that I’ve had sitting around awhile (since Christmas, actually).  Has anyone read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott?  It is subtitled “Some instructions on writing and life”.  Well, who doesn’t need that??  I’ve only made it through the introduction and the first two chapters, but I’m hooked.  Funny, smart, and unpredictable is the way I’d describe it so far.  It’s one I don’t want to fly through, but rather savor and think about.  The TBR stack (“pick me!  pick me!”) will just have to hush for awhile.

With one daughter at camp and the other one a little lonely and clingy, it will be an interesting week.  My younger one will miss her sister, even though she insists that she won’t, so I plan to keep her busy.  She’ll be attending Vacation Bible School in the mornings and swim lessons at the high school with her “friend who’s a boy” in the afternoons.  The less time she has to complain about boredom, the better!

Oh, just a reminder about my June giveaway:  Leave a comment HERE by June 30th to win a copy of Mrs. Lieutenant.

What are you reading this week?