Sunday, April 19, 2015
This Week I'm:
Listening To: The Reader by Bernard Schink after finally finishing The Ten-Year Nap. Truth be told, I finally started skipping whole tracks because I was hell bent to finish it but what a yawner.
On Pandora, I've been listening to the Cat Steven's station. Lots of James Taylor, Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and Elton John - the music of my early teens.
Watching: Movies - Miss H and I had movie night Friday night and watched Trouble With The Curve and 10 Things I Hate About You; last night was a Sandra Bullock double header with Two Weeks Notice and The Proposal. Sundays are all about PBS right now with Selfridge and Wolf Hall. Have you caught Wolf Hall? I have yet to read the book but this adaptation is really quite good and Mark Rylant, who plays Thomas Cromwell, is superb.
Making: Chicken nachos, bacon avocado burgers, chicken tex-mex salad, fried potatoes - the Big Guy was out of town for a couple of nights so Miss H and Mini-him came over to keep me company for a couple of dinners and we had fun with food!
Planning: With just BG and I in the house now, my focus for the coming couple of weeks will be in making the best use of the space upstairs. We're going to be working to turn Mini-him's room into a second guest room after we finally get all of the things he's left behind sorted and hidden away. I can't tell you how happy I am to have the "kids" bathroom stay clean after all of these years! Definitely looking forward to a mini-remodel in there soon.
Grateful for: Rain! We've been living the "April showers..." part of the saying the last couple of weeks. Trees are budding and blooming, the lawn has had to be mowed twice already, and my perennials are well on their way.
Feeling: Happy about the longer hours of sunshine and warmer temps. Dinners on the patio have started and s'mores can't be far behind.
Looking forward to: Book club on Tuesday and Wednesday I'm thrilled to be going to hear Mini-me read several of his poems at Omaha's biggest indie bookstore. It's being done through the university; he'll be reading his poetry and another student will be reading his non-fiction narrative.
What are you looking forward to this week?
Friday, April 17, 2015
You may have noticed that the post title is simply "Fairy Tale Friday" rather than "Fairy Tale Fridays." You may also have noticed that there haven't been very many fairy tales on Fridays again this year. Hence, I hesitate to insinuate in the title that there may be more coming. Although I hope there will be. If I can only make myself reach the point where I am making fewer commitments and freeing up more time to free range read.
What's that you say? You don't remember Disney having previously tried and failed with this one? Then you were lucky enough to have missed the 2000 made-for-tv adaptation starring Drew Carrey and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Geppetto. A musical. Stephen Schwartz actually wrote the music but wrote it with a rematching of Mary Poppins stars Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke in mind. Andrews was having throat surgery at the time and was unable to do it but how you went from that cast to were they ended up I can't imagine.
|Yeah, that's not at all scary|
On a much more serious note, Kristin of Tales of Faerie, has a thought-provoking post, Mother's Who Kill Their Children, about a book by the same title by Cheryl L. Meyer and Michelle Oberman. She uses the book as a basis to explore abuse in fairy tales and those ties to real life, as well as the subject of feminism in fairy tales. She discusses the ways in which we have, throughout history, been quick to blame the victim as well as the abuser (a subject which has been a hot button lately with the release of the new Cinderella movie which has people again saying that Cinderella, as a character, was too passive). Very powerful stuff which I highly recommend reading.
Thursday, April 16, 2015
One Plus One just came out in paperback the end of last month and Penguin Books is offering one of my readers the opportunity to read this wonderful book. To enter, just leave a comment with your email address. For an extra entry, leave me the name of your favorite book from 2014. I'll draw the winner on Sunday.
Suppose your life sucks—a lot. Your husband has done a vanishing act, your teenage stepson is being bullied, and your math whiz daughter has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that you can’t afford to pay for. If you’re Jess Thomas, you do what you always do—make it work.
Jess and her family (including their giant, smelly dog Norman) begin their doomed-from-the-start adventure stranded on the side of the road next to a dilapidated Rolls Royce—sans license, sans insurance—having just been pulled over by the police for a missing headlight. And the unexpected knight in shining armor who rescues them? Geeky Ed, the obnoxious tech millionaire whose vacation home Jess happens to clean. With big problems of his own, Ed, in perhaps his first ever unselfish act, offers to drive Jess and her dysfunctional brood to the Maths Olympiad and a prize that could turn everything around for Jess’s family.
This unlikely cast of characters is easy to fall for: Nicky, Jess’s stepson, wears mascara, doesn’t fit in at school, but is fiercely protective of Tanzie, Jess’s precocious math prodigy daughter; Jess and Ed are the kind of opposites you love to watch attract; and pungent Norman, the immovable mascot of the back seat, is the best guard dog you’ll ever find drooling on your shoulder.
“Bridget Jones meets Little Miss Sunshine in this witty British romp from bestseller Moyes… Wryly romantic and surprisingly suspenseful.” —People
“ONE PLUS ONE adds up to a delightful summer read… Moyes is masterful at creating characters … You don’t need to be a math whiz to figure out this book is one worth adding to your summer reading list.” —USA Today
“A funny and engaging road-trip…ONE PLUS ONE shimmers with both unyielding warmth and canny incisiveness.”—The Boston Globe
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Published July 2014 by HarperCollins; paperback release April 2015 by William Morrow Paperbacks
Source: I bought my copy at the Omaha Lit Fest and had it autographed!
It is the early 1960s, and Chicago is teeming with the tensions of the day—segregation, sexual experimentation, the Cold War, and Vietnam—but it is also home to some of the country's most influential jazz. Naomi Hill, a singer at the Blue Angel club, has been poised on the brink of stardom for nearly ten years. But when her big break, the cover of Look magazine, finally arrives, it carries with it an enormous personal cost. Sensual and magnetic, Naomi is a fiercely ambitious yet self-destructive woman whose charms tend to hurt those around her, and no one knows this better than her daughter, Sophia.
As the only child of a single mother growing up in an adult world, Sophia is wise beyond her years, a casualty of her mother's desperate struggle for fame and adoration. Her only constant is the colorful and unconventional family that surrounds them, particularly the photographer Jim who is Sophia's best friend, surrogate father, and protector—but Jim is also deeply in love with Naomi.
"Mother is a singer. I live in her dark margins."Do you remember the scene from the movie "Jerry Maguire" when Renee Zellweger's character says to Tom Cruise's character "You had me at hello?" That's the way I felt when I read those first two sentences of Chapter 1. Rotert's debut is beautifully written, filled with characters who will stay with me for a long time.
Told through a dual narrative, Rotert uses Sophia's voice to tell the story of their life in early 1960's Chicago while Naomi's past is seen through her own eyes. It goes a long way to helping readers understand Naomi, not to look at her as an abusive parent, a woman who raises her daughter in a run-down apartment building, keeps her up late into the night, brings strangers home to spend the night and who is utterly absorbed in herself and her career. Instead we come to understand her need to desire to rise above the poverty of her youth, her need for love and her inability to accept it.
"I love David or perhaps I just found a way to matter to him, to be noticed. He has made me feel small and I hate him for that but I also long for him. I'm embarrassed."
check out the full tour.
In speaking about music in this book, last fall at the Omaha Lit Fest, Rotert said that she was raised on the American songbook so had Naomi raised this way as well so that she could use the music to show generational tensions. She said that authors have to choose what not to give there characters as well as what to give them. She chose not to give Naomi the choice to have her own voice, the ability to express herself only in song. Naomi was then left to express herself only through others which made her a less healthy person intentionally. Robert said that in using music in her book, it was about trusting the reader to understand that the references advance the story even if they don't know the music. Despite all of the music in the book, Rotert said she writes in quiet.
I'm a little giddy about the kind of writing talent Omaha is turning out these days: Timothy Shaffert, Rainbow Rowell, and now Rebecca Rotert are all writers I'm delighted to share this city with. Maybe there's something in the water. Perhaps it's time to consider writing that novel?!
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Published 2012 by G. P. Putnam's Sons
Source: bought this at my local library sale
When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.
In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.
Having just read back-to-back Faulkners and being in the middle of I Know This Much Is True for book club, I knew I needed something light to break things up. Oh my lordy, was this book ever the "right book at the right time!"
Let's Pretend This Never Happened is, literally, laugh out loud funny. And read whole passages to your spouse funny. Luckily for my spouse, it was humor that was right up his alley and he (mostly) always at least chuckled when I read passages to him. He did point out, Mom, that this is not a book for you. Too much talking about vaginas, he said. I agree but I think my mom would mostly not enjoy it because there is a generous use of the "F" word. So, if you have a problem with either of those things in a book, you've been warned. Also, if you're not a fan of taxidermy. There's a lot of that, too.
To say that Lawson's childhood was unconventional would be a massive understatement. Thanks largely to her father, though, her childhood was hysterical to read about. Because her father was prone to bring home inappropriate animals (both living and dead), Lawson and her sister invented "The Dangerous Thesaurus of My Father."
"It's not going to hurt you." = "I hope you like Bactine."
"It's very excited." = "It has rabies."
"Now, don't get too attached." = "I got this monkey for free because it has a virus."
"It likes you!" = "This wild boar is now your responsibility."
"Now, this is really interesting." = "You'll still have nightmares about this when you're thirty."
"Don't scream or you'll scare it." = "You should really be running now."
"It just wants to give you a kiss." = "It's probably going to eat your face off."
This is man who thought using a dead squirrel as a hand puppet and waking his daughters up in the middle of the night to surprise them with it was a good idea. Between their father, a mother who was the school lunch lady, and being poor, growing up was tough and most people would have probably written this as a tragedy or a "how I overcame great obstacles and succeeded in life" memoir. Lawson grew up to find the humor in it all, but also to appreciate the fact that she didn't have a cookie cutter upbringing.
As funny as I found this book (the conversations between Lawson and her husband, Victor, are a riot), what made it such a good book was the honest way Lawson talked about more serious subjects. She doesn't shy away from talking about the sorrow of multiple miscarriages, the difficulty of dealing with a chronic medical issue, or her ongoing battle with mental illness (she suffers from OCD and crippling anxiety disorder). Beneath that wild woman who grew up thinking that there was such a thing as water squirrels (until she was told later in life that those squirrels she had once upon a time been swimming with were actually squirrels that had drowned in a flash flood), there is a woman who appreciates all that life has thrown at her.
"Because you are defined not by life's imperfect moments, but by your reaction to them. And because there is joy in embracing - rather than running screaming from them - the utter absurdity of life. I thank my family for teaching me that lesson. In spades."I thank Lawson for reminding me of that. And for reminding me that there's nothing wrong with a marriage where people bicker as long as they love and understand each other. And for making me laugh. I needed that!
*Bloggers, there is an entire chapter about a trip Lawson went on with a group of bloggers that cracked me up but also reminded me why I love my blogging friends so much!
"Women scare me enough, but bloggers can be even more frightening to deal with. Most bloggers are emotionally unstable and are often awkward in social situations, which is why so many of us turned to blogging in the first place. Also, they are always looking for something to write about, so you f*&% something up it will be blogged, Facebooked, and retweeted until your death."**Why doesn't Blogger's dictionary recognize the word "blogger??"
***This is what Neil Gaiman had to say about the book:
"The Bloggess writes stuff that actually is laugh-out-loud, but you know that really you shouldn't be laughing and probably you'll got to hell for laughing, so maybe you should read it. That would be safer and wiser."At least that's what they say on the book that Gaiman said. But there is also a quote for Jesus (who appears numerous times in the book) which I'm pretty sure is not a real quote, so who knows.