Monday, October 06, 2014

The truth's always been found in your life story.

I recently joined the website, Netgalley, which gives you a chance to read advanced copies of books, in return for offering unbiased reviews of those books.

I lucked out and was approved to read novels by two authors that I very much enjoy - Amanda Eyre Ward and Monica McInerney.

McInerney's new novel, Hello from the Gillespies, takes place in Australia, and focuses on Angela Gillespie, a displaced Londoner, living with her husband on a station in the Australian outback. Every year, Angela sends out a sunny Christmas card (now email) with the title "Hello from the Gillespies" chronicling life with her husband Nick, their three daughters, and young son. This year, though, her life has gone a bit awry and the typical happy words don't flow. She ends up writing a bitter (but true) diatribe (think way personal journal entry) and not sending it. When she's called away to tend to her injured son, she doesn't close down the computer. Her husband finds it later that evening--and knowing how much the Christmas letter means to his wife--sends her innermost personal thoughts out to a 100 of their closest family and friends without even reading it.

From there, the story unfolds in somewhat predictable ways - I mean, you sort of know how the tale will end. There's a little bit of an outlandish twist, as well. However, having read previous McInerney books, I think that's a bit of what you come for. Some comforting, family tales that are believable despite their craziness. The novel is completely engrossing. Personally, I was fascinated by the relationship of her older twin daughters (having two year-old twin daughters myself and wondering what they'll be like as adults - hopefully not as confused and wayward as Angela's girls, although they had good hearts!). McInerney is wonderful at creating completely different and believable characters that you can completely picture - each of the daughters and the son, "Ig" were perfectly drawn. Overall, I think McInerney captures the ups and downs of marriage and family life quite accurately and poignantly and reminds us never to take things (or our loved ones) for granted -- even if our day-to-day lives aren't quite as fantastical as the Gillespies. I'd rate this 3.5 stars on 5 star scale.

Amanda Eyre Ward's latest novel, however: is just a beautiful book. Ward's writing is simply lovely and magical. When I finished the book, I was left feeling a bit disappointed - not by the plot or the writing, but that it was over. It's one of those novels that I'll be recommending to everyone.

The Same Sky tells the story of two unique individuals. The first is Alice, a forty-year-old living in Texas, with her husband. Together, they run a successful BBQ restaurant and appear incredibly happy. But they've been through a long and sad string of infertility, and Alice is left empty by the latest episode - a birth-mother taking back a baby promised to her, after Alice spent the night with the baby she thought was going to be hers.

Alice's chapters alternate with those of Carla, a young girl in Honduras. Carla's mother leaves for America early in the story, leaving Carla with her grandmother and one of her younger twin brothers. Carla's voice is just amazing. Ward captures this young teenager perfectly. I'm not sure how you can read this book and not fall completely for Carla. There are times when I didn't completely love Alice, or when I wanted to shake her, but Carla - I just wanted to hug her and take her home.

As you read the novel, Alice and Carla's stories are completely separate, which is fascinating. They provide an intriguing commentary on our society and the American Dream -- Alice seems to have it all in America, but she feels empty due to her childless state. And Carla wants nothing more than to come to America with her mother.

I simply loved the book - I won't give away any more of the plot, but it was well-written and beautiful. This story also hit home to me -- reading about Alice's infertility struggles. And Carla and her little brothers reminded me of so many of the little ones my Mom had taught over the years.
I don't think you could be disappointed in reading The Same Sky - I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Multiply life by the power of two.

I haven't written in here in ages, but I wanted to update and pass along a link to a new blog, dedicated to my new baby twin daughters, who were born on July 16th. I'm truly hoping to do a better job of keeping that blog updated and maybe writing in this one from time to time here. You can find the new blog at: The Twins' Blog

Sunday, July 10, 2011

You got a good style.

It's been a while since I had a chance to brag about my boy, so here are a few pictures of my beloved Guster... who is nine now!

Guster highly recommends taking your vitamins.

Guster loves control of the remote.

Guster loves the t-shirt quilt (but not sharing it with his sister).

Guster on his 9th birthday

Guster loves watching the Mavericks beat the Heat.

Guster clearly loves looking cute!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

And she don't always say what she really means.

Already up to #5 on my "song a day" quest. I'm amazed I've made it this far; what does that say about my ability to stick with things?

Today's prompt: day 05 - a song that reminds you of someone

Many songs remind me of many people, but I chose Gordon Lightfoot's "Sundown" because it is the one song that, no matter when I hear it, I'm instantly reminded of my dad. I can picture myself, around 5 or 6-years-old, in the tiny backseat of his Porsche, as this song played on the radio while he drove. It wasn't until years later that I heard it somewhere that I even knew who sang it, nor did I quite grasp the song's true meaning as a child. Probably for the best.

Per the rules, a video. This one is from 1974! Impressive.

I am not feeling well today, so not much else to share. I started reading the book Swamplandia! in earnest today -- mostly because all I've been doing today is sitting on the couch, with one of the four cats in constant rotation on my legs, watching the NBA Playoffs and reading. The book was quite publicized for a while, so even though it didn't seem like my usual fare, I grabbed a library copy for my Nook -- I'm about halfway through, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. It's a little odd.Very mystical and frankly, a bit sad. I'll see it through to the end, though.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

And I know I'll never be the same.

Today's song meme subject: day 04 - a song that makes you sad

There are actually a lot more songs, I think, that made me sad versus happy. Catchy and upbeat songs, I guess, make me happy, but sad lyrics always seem to stick with me more. Call me Miss Melancholy.

I discovered (or perhaps re-discovered) Gary Allan's "I Just Got Back From Hell" after losing my very dear cousin to suicide. Gary Allan lost his wife to suicide, and his song details his life and emotions after her death. It was (and still is) a very powerful song for me after losing Treen. I relate to it very much. I used to drive around in my car, listen to this song on repeat, and sob. It made me sad, but it also provided an odd sort of "been there" comfort -- someone else detailing the guilt, the sadness I felt -- and, after a while, the same "I can keep going" emotion. I still can't hear it without feeling sad, though.

Per the rules, a video:

I'm also including the lyrics, because I can:

I just got back from Hell
and I'm standing here alive
I know it's really hard to tell
Don't know how I survived
But I can't say that I'm doin' great
But I think I'm doin' well
That Devil's gonna have to wait
'Cause I just got back from Hell

Well, I just got back from Hell
And I guess to tell the truth
Well, I've been mad at everyone, including God and you
When you can't find no one to blame you just blame yourself
And I know I'll never be the same
I just got back from Hell

Forgive me if I had any part
If ever broke your heart in two
Forgive me for what I didn't know
For what I didn't say or do
And, God, forgive me as well
'Cause I just got back from Hell

Well, I just got back from Hell
And I need to make some plans
It's the last thing that I wanna do
But I'll do the best I can
I'm gonna learn to live again
But I think I'll sit a spell
Tell the world that I'm alive
and I just got back from Hell

I can't say that I'm doin' great
But I think I'm gettin' well
Gonna let the world know I'm alive
And I just got back from Hell
And I just got back from Hell
I just got back from Hell
Got back from Hell

I actually thought of Treen today. Kate and I were supposed to walk in the Charlottesville MS Walk, but it was rained out. We had already picked up my friend's dog for the walk, so we felt bad just turning around and coming home. Instead, we picked up sandwiches and took Athena for a small walk, to a pavilion/small historic site near my office. We were in the middle of a crazy rainstorm, with tons of wind, but we ate our favorite sandwiches with Athena at the ruins of a historic site as the wind swirled around us. It was the sort of "let's make something fun and memorable out of a bad day" thing my Mom always did when I was a kid. My cousins were always in awe of the crazy things my Mom did with us. Trina would have enjoyed today. Sometimes you make your best memories out of the unexpected. Miss you, cuz.

Friday, April 15, 2011

I was a train wreck waiting to happen.

As I continue on the music meme quest, today's request is: day 03 - a song that makes you happy

I love Chantal Kreviazuk's "Before You." It's catchy and the chorus is infectious, which always makes me happy, plus it reminds me of meeting Kate.

Per the rules, a video:

My other story for today: Today was the best food day of my life, I swear. I consumed far too much of said food, but yum. And everything I ate was from Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. First was the Downtown Hot Dog Company, where I consumed a delicious hot dog and tater tots. So good. Then we moved on to Cappellino's Crazy Cakes, which makes my most favorite cupcakes. Here, my friend and I did a "shot" -- of butter cream frosting. Oh lord - heaven. An oreo cupcake followed once I got back to the office.

Sadly, I'm not done. After the roller derby tonight, we ate pizza at Christian's, which has delicious pizza. This was followed by Sweetfrog, which lets you make your own frozen yogurt creation.

I'm pretty sure I've consumed nearly all my favorite foods today -- all I needed was some chicken fingers. Or a Krispy Kreme. Or... perhaps I should stop.

It's been a good day.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

But I won’t follow you into the rabbit hole.

Day 2 of the Music Quiz: your least favorite song

I don't really care for this one; if I don't like a song, I don't listen to it. So no "least favorite song" pops out at me. So, instead, you get my least favorite song from today. I am completely in love with a website called Rdio, which lets you stream what seems like a gazillion songs for only about $5 a month. I love it, and I've found so much new music via this site. I'm constantly adding new songs to my queue.

Anyway, I know it's sacrilege, because it seems like EVERYONE likes them, but I just can't get into The National. I tried again today, after seeing a friend's Facebook link. I just can't. It's not the sound for me.

So when I listened to "Terrible Love" today, I cringed a bit. I feel guilty even just saying it. But the quiz made me.

So there.

Here's the video, per quiz regulations:

In other news, I was at the doctor's this morning, and an older (very old) man was waiting for his wife. She came out with the doctor, who told him that they were going to have to take her to the hospital (not sure what was wrong -- seemed like an infection). This old man was so upset, and also so confused. It was heart-breaking to watch. He'd have to ask the doctor questions multiple times, because it seemed he'd forget the answer immediately. He clearly cared so much for his wife, though. It was so awful to think of them being apart as she entered the hospital. Made me think of my grandparents; my grandmother would always stay with my Grampa as long as she could when he was in the hospital. They were so rarely apart in their 60+ years of marriage. It was sad, but touching, moment today. I hope she recovers well.