Archive for the ‘It’s storytime!’ Category
No, no, I’m not referring to the premise of this book. I’m referring to the nightmare of losing yourself in a book like this, finding yourself swallowed up by the intrigue and heartbreak to the point where you can hardly put the book down and as a result end up staying up late into the night to finish…and then have to be on your “A” game as mom the next day.
But this book truly is about every parent’s worst nightmare…or at least one of them. Beth Cappadora, a thirty-something mother of three, solidly – if not happily – married, takes her children with her for the weekend of her 15th high school reunion…and her three-year-0ld son vanishes. Kidnapped. Gone without a trace, save for the one red shoe that fell off his small foot in the parking lot.
For nearly ten years the search goes on. Leads grow cold. Public interest, which was once sky-high, wanes. Beth finds herself trapped between the mother she needs to be and the mother she can’t be. We see her relationships fray as friends, family, and even the police detective assigned to her case can’t help her re-engage in life. Beth simply exists.
All of a sudden, one day, a miracle. A miracle that would appear to bring a happy ending. A miracle that would – in theory – make Beth and her family whole once again, emotionally, physically, relationally.
And it is this journey – the journey after the miracle – that makes this book worth reading. Real life is not often simple. Relationships are complex and complicated. Families are never perfect and rarely even functional. Happy endings, while satisfying in the movies, are far from realistic.
Jacquelyn Mitchard tackles these difficult issues with keen insight. We ache with Beth over the loss of her son…both the one kidnapped and the one she abandoned. We champion her marriage and our desire to see it survive, knowing it’s an against-all-odds proposition. We find ourselves lost with her, vacillating between wanting to slap her across the face and shout “snap out of it!” to wrapping her in a blanket and gently suggesting “take it easy…you’ve been through so much.”
The language is rough, but then so is the subject matter. There is no solid bedrock of faith, only the hint of anger at a God that would allow such tragedy to occur. But we are carried through the story as if we are a part of it, and we can understand, even empathize with such reactions. And in the end, there is no Cinderella story. Just like life, there is no easy solution, no quick fix, no cure-all. We’re left – much like the Cappadora family – to find our own solution, to come to our own conclusions, and to find an uneasy peace in the waning storm.
No more homework,
No more books,
No more teacher’s dirty looks!
Sometimes I read a book because it looks interesting.
Sometimes I read a book because it’s by a favorite author.
Sometimes I read a book because the title intrigues me.
And sometimes I read a book because I want to seem fancy and intellectual.
That’s why I read this book. The cover is based of a Vincent van Gogh painting. That’s pretty fancy and intellectual, I thought.
The author is from Sicily and resides in both London and Sicily. That’s pretty fancy and intellectual, I thought.
The story is about a simple almond-picker-turned housemaid who has some mysterious connection to the Sicilian mafia, which is only discovered after her death. That’s pretty fancy and intellectual, I thought.
So I checked it out, so I could be all fancy and intellectual, too. And I carried it around with me for a few weeks: to doctor’s visits, to coffee shops and friendly lunches, to the pool and the gym, so I, too, could look fancy and intellectual, all the while secretly hoping someone would ask about my book so I could talk about it and sound fancy and intellectual.
But for all that fancy-ness and intellectual-ness, I was disappointed. There were too many characters, which I guess is understandable if you’re all fancy with the Sicilian mafia. The plot line was at points too complicated and too simplistic, which I guess happens when you’re all intellectual with the Sicilian upper crust. The moment of truth when the mystery is uncovered was nearly anti-climactic, which is completely unexpected in a book that appears to be fancy and intellectual.
Ah, well, at least I can tell people I’ve read the book, making me appear to be the fancy intellectual I long to be. And no one has to know the difference.
The boys are gone.Â For the next 7 days, the Speer household is devoid of any hint of testosterone.Â No stinky boys making dirty laundry.Â No sweaty, muddy shoes lining the stairway or littering the living room.Â No need to tolerate endless discussions of Poke’mon strategy, Bionicle creations, or Star Wars: The Clone Wars developments.Â No need to negotiate time between endless reruns of Poke’mon: Black and White or Ben 10: Alien Force or Johnny Test in the mornings.
Nope, this week belongs to the girls.Â This week will be filled with estrogen-laden fun and, by default, lots of chocolate, ice cream, or cookie dough.Â Maybe even all three. Read the rest of this entry »
And now for something completely different…
We’ve gone from the sublime to the ridiculous…or from flowery prose to gritty suspense…from artistic beauty to a psychological thriller.Â Or something like that.Â But, seriously, it’s about an architect for crying out loud.Â How could I not read it??
To be completely honest, I checked this book out last summer.Â And probably renewed it at least once.Â Ieven started reading it.Â But, unfortunately, I never finished it.Â Or at least I don’t think I did.Â Took me close to 200 of the 289 pages (not counting the blank ones in between chapters) to come to a part I didn’t remember reading before.Â So either I finished the book in my sleep, or I got 2/3 of the way through a book and gave up.Â Trust me, I realize neither possibility makes me look good.
I’ve never read any of Keith Ablow’s books before and I may never read another one, but this was certainly brain candy at its finest.Â Full of cliche’ and straight-out-of-Hollywood dialogue, this book was neither challenging nor enlightening.Â But it was fun.Â And sometimes, that’s exactly the point.
While most of the “good guys” in the story were fairly predictable and pedantic, I found the characterization of the “bad guy” – the architect, of course – fascinating.Â Not merely in the description of his professional abilities – the descriptions of the incredible structures he designed, the ability to create such beauty out of raw material,Â the artistic eye that saw beyond the picture and into his clients’ souls – but also in the mind of the sociopath he was.Â And though the ending was trite, it was satisfying.
So now, I think, it’s time for me to get into something meatier, something more meaningful.Â No more wading in the shallow end.Â It’s time to dive in and go deep.Â I’ve got a whole stack of books waiting to be read and the promise of a whole week with no husband to keep me company.Â Bring it on!
Ahh…the good old summertime.Â I look forward to summer for so many reasons, but one of them is that I get the excuse of carving out time to actually *read*.Â Like, as in GROWN-UP books.Â Books with chapters and multi-syllabic words.Â Books with hundreds of pages and small type.Â Books with at least 3 letters on the spine, not justÂ a big “E”.Â Books with NO PICTURES.
So, I’m going to return to the tradition I started two summers ago (and quickly abandoned last summer) and provide a book review of the books I read this summer.Â Feel free to comment or provide suggestions of great books you’ve read!
My mother is convinced I’m drawn to books with long titles.Â Whether or not that is true, I saw this book on the “new books” shelf at the library and thought the premise was interesting.Â It’s a book about writers – poets, specifically – at a writing school.Â Seemed a bit ironic, and since irony can be fascinating I decided to give it a try.
I was a little disappointed.Â About halfway through the book, I just stopped caring: about the characters, their issues, their angst, their effort at their craft.Â I found the main character, Roman, especially wearying: continually unable to be honest with himself and others; unable to loose himself of the perceived “burdens” of his past; unable to forgive his own weaknesses and celebrate his strengths.Â I finished the book, but felt no sympathy toward Roman, no sense of loss for what he suffered, no sadness at the turn of events that concluded the story.
All in all, I’d say I enjoyed the book, though it certainly didn’t live up to the hype on the back cover or the summary on the jacket.Â It was well-written with rich and beautiful phrases, even if the characters seemed shallow and 2-dimensional.Â But for the ease of reading, and the deft storytelling, I’d say it was a good way to kick off the summer reading club!
I was excited to read this book.Â The jacket flap kind of scared me a bit, thinking it might be harsh and gritty, but I found the opposite to be true.Â The story is set in 1938, during World War II, during the Japanese occupation of China.Â Our protagonists are a Japanese officer sent to man a lonely, inconsequential garrison outside a remote Chinese village and a Chinese woman he rescues from the lusts of his own men.
The story is told in two-parts, with each chapter alternating between his and her points of view.Â Through their dialog, we see two people desperate to connect but held back by layer upon layer of social constraint: male-female, officer-servant, Japanese-Chinese, captor-captive, and on and on.Â They find a way to coexist with an uneasy peace between them, and an even uneasier peace between the officer and his men, who are visibly disgusted with the presence of this woman in their camp.
Told in sparse, beautiful prose, this book provided an unusual perspective on relationships born of tragedy and desperation.Â Thought-provoking and sincere, this book was a nice change of pace from the easy brain candy I’d been enjoying recently.Â Difficult, but definitely worth the read.
Well, I finally made it out of the church library!Â No, seriously, I have enjoyed the last two books I’ve read from there, but now I’ve got a whole huge stack of books from the public library sitting by my bed.Â And somehow I’ve got to read at least a few of those as well.
So I started easy.Â And different.Â I don’t usually choose westerns.Â I kind of grew away from them after overdosing on Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly series in college.Â I figured after 20 years, it might be time to give them another chance.Â And the fact that this book was published by the University of North Texas Press (my master’s alma mater), didn’t hurt either.Â *grin*
This is the first book in a trilogy about Lucinda Roberts, an 18-year-old young woman from the East coast who travels to West Texas to take a teaching position.Â The school is the only school in town, and her students range from young children to teenagers.Â The story is told through a series of letters that she writes to various people: her superintendent, her family, her friends, and also through her diary entries.
The story weaves tragedy and joy, heartbreak and happiness, danger and silliness throughout.Â It is touching, but simple, and I found myself carried away to old-time Texas.Â It wasn’t a difficult read, and certainly didn’t challenge the mind, but served the purpose of being entertaining and enjoyable.Â At some point, I’m sure I will read the other two books in the series.Â A thumbs up, if you don’t set your expectations too high.
We had the most interesting experience last Saturday. The Allen Public Library was having a storytime. So whatâ€™s so interesting about that, you ask? Well, it has to do with who was doing the readingâ€¦and who was being read to.
Or rather, what was being read to.
Our kids were doing the reading. Thatâ€™s not so interesting, unless you happen to be the proud parent of one of the readers.
But they were reading their stories toâ€¦dogs. Yes, thatâ€™s right. Our kids read to Texas Therapy Dogs.
Each owner brought their dog (and there were 6 total) and a blanket for the children to sit on. Most of the owners also brought a collection of books of varying levels for the readers to choose from, but some chose to read their own. Trey settled down on his blanket and got started right away.
Crisanaâ€™s dog was a different story, no pun intended. She was one of the last to enter the room and as a result was not able to choose her dog. Her dog ended up being a rather young (2-year-old) standard poodleâ€¦just one big bundle of curls and excitement. For a girl thatâ€™s a little nervous around dogs to begin with â€“ even her own â€“ this was shaping up to be an interesting experience.
She began bravely enough, using her book as a kind of buffer between her and the dog.
After about 10 minutes of reading, our time was up. We said good bye to our dogs, collected various souvenirs and mementos from the owners, packed up our books and headed home. It was a unique experience that our kids will remember forever!
I’m on a roll.Â This was the second book I checked out from the church library.Â And – while it wasn’t as good as Sisterchicks I did enjoy it.
The storyline centers on a young man – Jay Jarvis – who has just moved cross-country from Texas to South Carolina for his job.Â Being a young man in a new location, his goal is simple…and the same as every other young single man in America: to meet eligible women.Â So, where does our hero go to meet said women?
To the bars?Â No.
To the uptown, trendy clubs? No.
Apparently, in South Carolina, the best place to meet nice, young, eligible single Southern women is…of all places…at church.Â In fact, according to the story, there’s a list. A list of which denominations have the best pickin’s.Â So our friend Jay ends up at the Presbyterian church and hooks up with the quirky-but-active singles’ group.Â Instantly he is – dare I say – flabbergasted to meet Allie, an outside-the-box young woman who piques his curiosity and stirs his affections.
The story is more of Jay’s journey to spiritual awareness than it is about the church itself, though there are some moments that gave me pause as I considered how we “church folk” appear to the outside world.Â Reading this story of single, unmarried young adults as a now-40-year-old-married-woman-with-two-kids gave me a different perspective…and I had to stop a few times to remember, “Yeah, I did act like that” or “yeah, I remember feeling like that, too.”Â But there were a few moments of hilarity – one in particular where I laughed out loud until I cried.Â And that’s something I rarely do when I read a book.
I also found the author’s perspective interesting as a man writing a “romantic” fiction.Â I’ve become so accustomed to reading romance stories from a woman’s point of view…where the man is what women WANT him to be, rather than the men they are.Â It was refreshing to catch a glimpse of just how men think about women and the wiles we use to try to trap gain their affections.
All in all, the storyline was uneven, but the ending was satisfying if abrupt.Â A good, light read, with moments of humor and introspection.Â Enjoyable…but certainly nothing to get flabbergasted about.