Sunday Matters: Losing My Dad

Sunday Matters

Right Now:

Taking a break from my normal Sunday Matters template to talk about my dad a little. For years, he’s been plagued by diabetes related conditions (blindness, kidney failure, kidney transplants x 2,  staph infections, etc.) and this past week, he gave in to them and passed away.

We’ve not had a typical father/daughter relationship but there were moments, very specific moments where I felt a connection and those moments are what I am trying to focus on now. One memory I have is the two of us spending the entire day at the Central Library in Los Angeles. My love of reading definitely started from those visits. I was only 4 years old and he’d sit me at a table with a stack of books and we’d sit there all day reading. Moments like that were rare but they are what I remember.

I feel oddly disconnected but at the same time very much in the center of it. I just feel so strange. I have never lost someone so close to me.

There are things that need to be addressed as far as my mom and sister are concerned. Of which, I have very little control over. The situation is very dire and although I have no trouble making decisions on most days, the decisions needed to made here leave me completely overwhelmed. Dysfunctional families are fun to read about, but not much fun to be a part of. To complicate matters, they don’t seem to want my help.

I just need a moment to think about it all.

This Week:

This week will be spent trying to figure stuff out. In the mean time, I am still on social media as a form of distraction. I am still reading because if I stop I feel as if I won’t be able to function. I’ll still be blog hopping and chatting away with all of you because that’s how I deal with things.

Grateful for:

Supportive friends and family.

Review: Her

HerHer
By Harriet Lane
(Little, Brown and Company, Hardcover, 9780316369879, January 5, 2015, 272pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

Two women at different stages in their lives, form an unlikely friendship that eventually leads to something darker.

The Rest of It:

Emma and Nina are close to one-another in age, but that is where the similarity stops. Nina is an accomplished artist with a teen-aged daughter while Emma is the mother of a toddler and a young baby. Nina is polished & sophisticated. Emma on the other hand, is riddled by the daily reminders of motherhood, the cluttered house, the unkempt hair, the dishes in the sink, and the boredom that fills her hours while other women are out having lunch with friends. The two women could not be more different, but when Nina recognizes Emma one day, she sets out to insert herself into Emma’s world and the two form an unlikely friendship with one another.

The story alternates between Emma and Nina and from the very first pages, I just knew that Nina was up to no good. That is actually made very clear from the start and that fact keeps the tension running high as you read about these women. And Emma, who is in awe of Nina and the sophistication she embodies is constantly trying to remember who she was before the kids. When Nina provides her with a much-needed break, Emma has this to say about herself:

I used to know this person, I used to understand her; maybe I’ll get to know her again.

Emma’s need to know Nina is tangible. She’s happily married, but trapped by the day-to-day routine and Nina’s friendship reminds her that there is a life outside of child rearing. But Nina’s motives aren’t entirely clear and so the reader is led along, knowing that something horrible is about to happen…or not.

Lane nails motherhood and that feeling you have when the baby spits up on your clean shirt and you decide to go to Target anyway. Some moms handle motherhood well and others do not. Emma falls between the two. She’s a good mom but tired and has let herself go. She misses her other self, the one that worked 9-5, had interesting conversations and could “do” lunch at a moment’s notice.

The last few pages of this book will make you angry. VERY angry. I won’t give it away but when I first read the ending, I wanted to hurl the book across the room. Now, after sitting on it for a day or two, I appreciate the ending a little more but I suspect that many of you will be angry with the book just because of the ending. Don’t ignore this book just because of the ending because it’s actually quite good and even, dare I say it, brilliant.

I don’t know what else Lane has written but I’d read her again.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Net Galley
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Rosie Effect

The Rosie EffrectThe Rosie Effect
By Graeme Simsion
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781476767314, December 30, 2014, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

A turbulent ride of ups and downs.

The Rest of It:

The Rosie Project was an adorable read. It really was.  It was smart and fun and I loved the characters and the unconventional romance aspect. That book was all about the pursuit of love and what it means to be the “other half” and it was delightfully awkward.

In The Rosie Effect, Don and Rosie are now married and their world is about to change in a huge way when Rosie announces that she is pregnant. This book has little to do with Rosie. It focuses on Don and the fact that he is just not prepared for fatherhood.

It’s  a tad tedious in the telling and to be honest, it took me a really long time to read it. Marriage problems abound and Don’s mannerisms are not nearly as charming as they were in the first book. In fact, he annoyed the hell out of me.

I have little patience for sequels that are just so-so and this one falls into that category.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Sunday Matters: Making a List and Checking It Twice

Sunday Matters

This past week was a good one. The 39 Steps wrapped last night and let me tell you, it was the most hysterical show. I laughed until I cried and then I laughed some more. I believe this was The Teen’s first non-musical performance and it was a lot of fun. He played a bunch of roles but his main role was Mr. Memory.

Mr. Memory

The 39 Steps

 

It rained in California! Yes, it did and there was even a tornado, flooding and mud slides but it moved through quickly and the air is so nice and clean. Another storm is expected for Monday. Bring it on.

I’ve gotten to the point where I need to do my shopping and it needs to be done today. I can’t put it off anymore. We are heading into the last week of school for the kids and my last week at work. Joy! But, that pesky shopping. Tsk. I am sitting down right now looking over my list to make sure I know what the plan is.

Right Now:

Trying to decide if we will attend church or not. Today is a special  service where they turn it over to the kids. It could be fun but The Girl is not in that age range and The Hub, not sure he has the patience for it. I may watch it online. Hmmm. Still thinking about it.

This Week:

Nothing much going on. The Teen has his choir Christmas party, finals and I think he has a choir performance too but that is for a private party and doesn’t involve us. The Girl has a class bunco party and me? Nothing. Well, except for work.

Reading:

Hoping to finish The Rosie Effect. I got sidetracked by King’s short story, A Good Marriage. I had the library book for no less than four renewals and finally sat down to read it. It was a good story. Haven’t seen the movie but I honestly don’t feel I need to. I got what I needed from the story.

Next up, Murakami’s The Strange Library and I am ending the year with it.

Watching:

Chritmas movies. I gotta start watching them now. I am really in the mood for The Family Stone.

Making:

Nothing, right now. I haven’t a lick of food in the house. I really need to hit the market but Chinese take-out sounds good too.

Grateful for:

Today, I am grateful for my little Otter Pup. She has been with us for nearly five years now and is the most delightful little pup. She’s sweet, a bad ass when she needs to be, hopelessly devoted, and funny as hell with all of her antics. People always ask what she is, but I have no idea. We rescued her from the shelter when she was about five months old. She’s some sort of terrier mix but the rest, who knows? She’s only 7 lbs but she secretly thinks she is a much larger dog.

The Otter Pup

Happy Thought For the Week:

One. More. Week.

What are your plans for today? Any special holiday events?

Review: We Are Called To Rise (audio)


We Are Called to Rise
We Are Called To Rise (audio)
By Laura McBride
(Simon & Schuster Audio, ISBN 9781442370791, June 2014.)

The Short of It:

Four, seemingly independent stories collide and the results are devastating for one immigrant family.

The Rest of It:

Vegas is a town that reeks of desperation. Spend a few days there and you’ll know what I mean. In We Are Called to Rise, the Vegas we see is not what you’d expect, but rather bleak and depressing all the same. This is the suburban side, where immigrant families struggle to make ends meet, where people go to basically start a new life. The story is told in four voices:

  • Bashkim – a second grader, living with his Albanian parents and his baby sister. Bashkim’s parents own an ice cream truck and want to live the American dream, but they struggle as there is never enough money to put anything aside, and when Bashkim’s sister falls ill, a trip to the doctor pushes the father over the edge.
  • Avis – a married woman in her 50’s who has just found out about her husband’s infidelity. In addition to her marital problems, she’s struggling to understand her son Nate, a war veteran, who hasn’t been right since returning from his third tour of duty.
  • Specialist Luis Rodriguez-Reyes – he wakes up in a hospital after losing his best friend in Afghanistan. He begins a pen pal relationship with Bashkim as a class project, not realizing how entwined their lives will become.
  • Roberta –  a social worker who becomes involved with Bashkim’s family.

As you can probably guess, something terrible happens to Bashkim and his family. This is a very sad story but it’s also one of hope and renewal. The audio production was very powerful to listen to. There were times where I just had to pause and think about what just happened. The title makes you think this is a book about religion, and maybe there is a little bit of that in there, but it’s not really centered around religion at all.

Overall, it’s a book about second chances. How one small act of kindness can mean so much to an individual and how it’s possible to pick up the pieces when all is lost. I enjoyed listening to it very much and had no problem following the different story lines.

As for discussion, this would make a great book club book. There’s so much to think about and yet it’s a very accessible read. I highly recommend it.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Vacationers


The Vacationers
The Vacationers
By Emma Straub
(Riverhead Hardcover, 9781594631573, May 2014,  304pp.)

The Short of It:

Vacations have the ability to restore within you, what’s been missing all along.

The Rest of It:

The Post family heads to the island of Mallorca for two weeks of much-needed bliss. Franny and Jim have been married for 35 years but after his recent indiscretion with a young woman in his office, Franny is convinced that the marriage is over but goes along with the vacation for the sake of her daughter Sylvia, who is heading to college in the fall and her son Bobby, who is meeting them there and bringing along his much older girlfriend whom no one likes. Along for the ride is Franny’s good friend Charles and his husband Lawrence, both of which are waiting anxiously for word on the adoption they applied for before arriving at the house. Toss in a sexy tutor for Sylvia and this rag-tag group of vacationers is complete.

I can’t say that I really enjoyed any of the characters in this novel, but the interactions between them felt very real to me. Tension runs high as Franny and Jim’s secret comes out. But what impressed me the most is how accurately this family is portrayed. It’s a vacation, on a beautiful island but all is not pretty and that’s typically how it is when you gather a bunch of strong personalities and put them under one roof. There’s bickering and a lot of politics when it comes to sharing meals and beds. Set against the backdrop of a beautiful island it all seems gritty and unpleasant but at the same time, impossible to ignore.

It’s not a page turner, in that you’ll find yourself anxiously flipping pages to see how it all turns out, but it’s an interesting read nonetheless. Given the setting and title, I can see a lot of beach goers adding this one to their summer bag but it’s definitely for readers who enjoy a little dysfunction in their summer reading. I could smell the tanning oil while reading it but I also kind of needed a drink right after. It’s that kind of book.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Landline


Landline
Landline
By Rainbow Rowell
(St. Martin’s Press, Hardcover, 9781250049377, July 8, 2014, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Fun and witty with just a little bit of silly.

The Rest of It:

Georgie McCool (seriously, that is her name!) decides to stay home and work through Christmas because the TV deal she is working on is just too good to pass up. Her husband Neal is flying back to Omaha to see his folks and he’s not happy with her decision. As he heads out-of-town with their two daughters in tow, Georgie is well aware of the decision she is making and yet, she can’t bring herself to do anything about it. Her marriage to Neal has been in trouble for a long time and she has no idea how to fix it.

The one thing you will read over and over again about this book is that it’s a fun, light read. It can be read in one sitting and it contains just enough humor to keep it interesting but I tell ya, as much as I loved Georgie’s neurotic tendencies and her poor clothing choices, I had such a hard time with the main part of the story which involves going back to the past via a landline telephone.

She doesn’t technically go back in time, but she gets to know her husband, before he’s her husband and attempts to make things right again. If you embrace the ridiculousness of it all, the book is quite enjoyable. Rowell is known for her ability to work teen angst into a thing of beauty but she is quite adept at handling her adult characters as well.

Besides the magical phone, the only other issue I had with the book was Georgie’s husband, Neal. He’s a real drip in the present AND even in the past. It’s hard to understand why she misses him so much when she has a much better, more interesting guy who happens to be working right next to her. But sure, for the sake of marriage and family you end up rooting for them even though Neal is such a bore.

Overall, I liked this one better than Fangirl but not as much as Eleanor & Park. It has its moments but like I said, it’s a quick, fun read and a perfect way to spend a pleasant afternoon. If you are anxious to get your hands on it, you’ll have to wait a little longer as it doesn’t come out until early July.

Source: Sent to me by a blogger friend.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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