Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Book Review

Night RoadNight Road by Kristin Hannah

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had a lot of trouble starting this book as the character of Jude was really annoying. A helicopter mom of the highest order, I just didn't like her. I am so glad I stuck it out because I literally couldn't put the book down last nighth and stayed up way past my bedtime to read it. This book explores what can happen to a family after a major tragedy and how each individual comes to terms with the changes in their life. There are some tough scenes to take in this book- several chapters had me sobbing so have your tissues handy. At parts I began to wonder if the author was going to start a Jodi Picoult-ish plot line but I was relieved that she did not. The ending was a little weak as it seemed to try to wrap things up with a neat little bow but it didn't detract from the story and I found myself wishing that the book had not ended. Good writing, good story and I highly recommend it.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Common Decency

Is it just me or does it seem like common decency and manners are disappearing? The latest issue causing this particular bee to fly into my bonnet is a lack of thank you notes. I can count of at least 5 occasions recently where I purchased a gift for a new baby, wedding or birthday party and did not receive any acknowledgement of the gift. Oh sure, the check was cashed ASAP but to me, that simply isn't good enough. Look, I am not a complete freak about this, if you open the gift in front of me and say thanks then we are good. I just hate thinking that my gift didn't reach the recipient or that frankly the person didn't care. I think the time this bothers me the most is when it is a wedding gift. If I go through the trouble of dressing up, finding a babysitter or driving hundreds of miles and then having to pay for a hotel room, the least you can do is drop me a couple of lines thanking me for the dishes I bought you off your wedding registry.

Maybe I am old fashioned but if this is a sign of the times then I don't like it. I was taught as a kid that it was a sign of just basic common decency to thank someone for their kindness. I couldn't even cash my checks or play with my toys if I didn't write a thank you note first. Honestly, I don't need a 40 page treatise written on Crane stationary about your life and how my gift fits into it, you can just drop me a line on FB or email. But to completely ignore when someone is kind to you really bothers me and it makes me not want to offer than kindness again. Who knows, maybe this is the first in a long line of "In my day..." crotchety old bastard rants. Now if you'll excuse me I need to ask some kids to get off my lawn.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Book Review

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest BestiarySquirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a hilarious change of pace from the usual Sedaris books, in the fact that the humor comes from animals being put into human situations. I loved Sedaris' take on hipsters, uber-parents, crazy pet owners and dogs in loveless marriages. At first you are kind of thinking that this book might be a bit too much but you quickly realize that Sedaris' humor translates to any species.

BossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Let me preface this review by saying I am a HUGE Tina Fey fan and wish she was my best friend. After reading this book, you will feel the same way. Tina comes off as approachable, down to earth, touching, cynical and just plain funny. Her tales of growing up as a theater geek, ambivalent fashion plate and woman living her professional dream will have you laughing out loud and then saying "Aww, man!" She doesn't hold anything back but at the same time she is very respectful and appreciate of those she has worked with (with the exception of a few unamed people she calls D-Bags.) Her beauty tips, fashion and parenting advice were in a word- awesome. If you are a fan of SNL or a trivia/behind the scenes geek, you will LOVE this book. Oh, and Tina, if you are reading this, call me!

Monday, April 11, 2011

A break

I was going to try to do the whole NoBloMo thing- write a blog post a day for an entire month, thinking that it would spur creativity. Well, that was true for a little while and then I started to sit at the computer and wonder what I was going to talk about that day. I realized two important things about myself: I hate to be forced into things and I am not a very prolific writer. I tried to keep up but in the end I walked away from the computer. I decided that I wanted to take a break from technology and I didn't touch my computer or iPhone for an entire weekend. The world didn't explode and I didn't really feel like I missed anything. That weekend felt so good that I kept it up for another week and then another until I felt ready to come back. In that time I had a great Spring break with my kids. We went to a game ranch and fed many, many animals. We went to the Atlanta Zoo with what seemed to be the entire population of the Metro Atlanta area. We watched the movie Tangled over and over and over again. I yelled at the tv while watching TLC's show "Extreme Couponers"  because those people made me nuts and don't represent normal people. I went to the wedding of a young woman I have known since she was 5 and was so proud of her. My parents watched the boys so my husband and I could go to said wedding together and then have some time to ourselves. I ate a particularly tasty Greek Chicken Wrap from Twisted Taco. I relaxed and got ready for spring and summer. In a word, my break was AWESOME.

So, no more forcing myself to write every single day. I now know that I'll have days when I feel really inspired to write three or four entries a day but they don't all need to be posted at once. I also realized that I hadn't really been expressing my true self because I didn't want to run into any Internet bullies or cause any controversy but I really shouldn't worry about that because no one reads this! Huzzah for being anonymous! I know that I'll still post my shopping trips and my Friday book reviews but I am also going to start writing about deeper things going on in my life. I look on this blog as a glimpse into what my life was like when I was this age and my kids were this small. If others find it, great but they'll play by my rules and respect what I wrote. Life is too short to censor yourself. And, so we move on...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Book Reviews

Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary MarriageFranklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage by Hazel Rowley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There has always been talk of FDR's affairs and Eleanor's possible lesbianism so I expected this book to be salacious and catty. Instead, I was pleased to find that this was a great read about a very interesting and unorthodox couple. FDR may have been president but Eleanor was instrumental in getting him elected and helping him help others while president through the New Deal and WWII. The author made a strong case that Franklin and Eleanor deeply cared for one another, even as they expanded their relationship to include many others. I think they might have been the first polyamorous President and First Lady! FDR's struggle and concealment of his polio is inspirational and Eleanor's deep concern and caring for African-Americans is stunning. Frankly, this book is a must read for anyone interested in History as it really brings the couple to life. I've always admired FDR and Eleanor but after getting a glimpse into their personal life, I feel like I am admiring real humans and not just the image we see in the historical footage.

Undress Me in the Temple of HeavenUndress Me in the Temple of Heaven by Susan Jane Gilman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If there was ever a book that would grab you while at the same time making you never want to travel to a foreign country, it is this one. In this book, Gilman tells of the post-graduation around the world trip she is making with a friend from college. The book starts out as a typical two girls on the road and then startles you as you realize, at the same time as Gilman, that her friend is not really who she (and we) thought she was. While at times you want to throttle the two girls for their naivete (roughing it is fine but not if it puts your health, safety and sanity in danger) you are also privvy to Gilman's realization that all of her fierce beliefs of herself, others and the world around her may not be as realistic as she thought. Very interesting coming of age story!

Sing You HomeSing You Home by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I know that some people think of Picoult's book as the literally equivalent of McDonald's, but I have always found her books to be absorbing, her characters realistic and the stories quite timely. The last few books of Picoult's seemed to be following a pattern and I could almost predict where the story was going to go, but this book took me by surprise several time. I could not put this book down- finishing it in a day and a half. The story is so current- gay rights, fundamentalism, IVF, what happens when best laid plans go awry that you really get attached to the story. This book comes with a bonus cd that is supposed to act as Zoe's voice but since I got my copy from the library I didn't listen to the CD but I didn't feel like I was missing anything by not hearing the songs. While the ending seemed a bit too neat and tidy to me it didn't detract from the overall story.

Blood for Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. ArmyBlood for Dignity: The Story of the First Integrated Combat Unit in the U.S. Army by David P. Colley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a huge WWII History buff but one thing I haven't read much about is the role of African-American soldiers, mainly because they were relegated to the service units rather than combat. Thanks to that horrible idea- segregation- able bodied and patriotic men were forced to stand by despite a strong desire to fight. This book tells the story of the first combat unit in the Army and how these brave, strong men proved all the naysayers wrong. I found the story gripping, infuriating, heartbreaking and fascinating. There were times while reading this book and seeing how yet again racism reared its ugly head when I wondered why these soldiers would fight for a country that often treated German POWs better. This book is not for the squeamish as it doesn't hide the hard part of war but I couldn't put it down.