Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
The Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson
1984 - George Orwell
Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle - Kurt Vonnegut
A Separate Peace - John Knowles
The Catcher in the Rye - J. D. Salinger
A few of those books I actually foisted on my kids because the poor things have always read so fast that I often had to hand them classics to keep both from going stir crazy. Imagine that.
Not good, I'm afraid. I finished three books. Of those three books, I thought one was . . . well, worth banning. Hahaha. Okay, seriously, it had a lot of really graphic sex and it was just gross. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I'm passing it on to a blogger friend for review, since the author sent it to me and I thought she at least deserved her money's worth.
Completed book #2 was An Inconvenient Truth for a New Generation by Al Gore -- the kids' version, in other words. I thought it would be a little more palatable than the real book and I enjoyed it immensely.
Book #3 . . . sigh. It's not bad and I suppose I'll review it, eventually, but it was much like Chameleon Butterfly Dragonfly in a sort of "flaky, New Age" way. Lots of good advice, plenty of chatter that I thought was just a bit too far out there, for me. In this case, the inner critters morph into the "inner Genie" in Awakening the Genie Within by Bettye Johnson. Her religious beliefs clashed rather violently with mine and I kept thinking something was fishy about the spiritual teacher she kept referring to. When I finished reading, I flipped back to log the book's copyright date. Her inspirational teacher's name, it turns out, is a "registered trademark". That's a new one. And, I guess my Fishy Radar is calibrated just fine.
Which brings me to my thought of the day . . . I've obviously been jumping a little too far from my comfort zone, so I'm going to focus on cleansing my mental palate. In order to do so, I'm going to read more books that I know will not offend me or irritate me in a "yuck" or "too flaky" way. Which means more by Bethany House, my new favorite publisher. Fortunately, I have several titles on hand (in fact, I'm reading one -- Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser). Wahoo for that!
I fell behind on other reading because of the three quick reads I shoved to the head of the queue, this weekend, but I'm also still enjoying Bedlam South. I'm hung up in the middle of Occasional Therapy, though. There's a point I can't get past . . . the reflection on past accomplishments. Uh, what have I accomplished besides child rearing? I can't think of a thing. Not one. It's hard to move on when you're being instructed to reflect on what you've accomplished and you come up totally blank.
And, I'm thinking (again) about returning to numerical ratings because I'm not sure the way I'm currently doing things gives blog readers all of the information they desire. Does it? What do you think? You're my blog readers, after all.
Totally off-the-wall: Bob and Fred and other critters -- We had a big, hairy banana spider living on our porch, for a while. Kiddo named him Bob. After about two weeks, Bob moved away from the porch. "Where's Bob?" we all wondered . . . and then we saw him near the garden hose and decided that was a good thing; Bob would undoubtedly be happier in the jungle. After all, we kept hacking down his anchor lines in order to step off the porch without running into his web.
Bob has moved around quite a bit, but he sticks fairly close to the house, beneath our oak trees. Two days ago, we walked out and another big spider (not quite as large or hairy, but definitely big enough) has moved onto the porch. Kiddo named him Fred. If you hate spiders, you don't want to visit our house, right now. We check to see where they've set up their webs before stepping off the porch, then everyone says, "Morning, Bob. Hey, Fred."
I didn't say we're normal.
But, wait! This is even better. Some of you know I occasionally have dreams that show up in the headlines, the next day, right? Okay, so last night I dreamed about a gigantic alligator that had to be wrestled, twice, although I can't remember exactly what kind of problem he was causing (probably eating the hurricane food . . . who knows) and the "twice" bit seemed doubly bizarre. I woke up, this morning thinking, "What the heck was that about?" Usually, dreams are a reflection of the subconscious and I can figure out the source, but an alligator? Nope, not something I've seen or thought about even briefly in recent days.
Tonight's paper revealed the truth behind Bookfool's latest psychic dream. The headline: "Gargantuan gators get grabbed up," with a photo of two large alligators and the four hunters who snuffed out their toothful lives. Friday, it says, marked the opening of "the season". I guess that's 'gator hunting season they're referring to. Or, maybe it's hunting season in general? I don't know; I'd rather hunt with my camera.
Speaking of which . . . The kiddo had to take photos with a pinhole camera (made from a can), this weekend, as an assignment for his photography class. My friend Mike, who owns a camera shop, suggested a few good places to shoot black & white photos on Highway 61 South. So, we headed out that way. Kiddo ignored Mike's advice on length of exposure and his didn't turn out well, but I got this really fun self-portrait:
Do you see me?
Okay, enough malarkey for one day. Next up will be my review of The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman.
Wait, one more thing for people in the U.S.! Think about the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy . . . Don't Panic. Seriously. I learned this in business school . . . Buy low, sell high. Don't pull out your life savings. Put money into the bank, if you can. Ride it out and we'll all be okay. It's panic that caused The Depression. Surely we're too wise for a repeat. I hope so.
I really have to go, now. My cat needs me. You may now return to your regularly scheduled reading. And, have fun, while you're at it!
Bookfool in Still Life with Volkswagen
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Copyright 2008 (Released Sept. 18)
5-word review: Decorator dad becomes psychic healer
This book is going to be a difficult one to review because it is so far off-the-wall. I was hoping Walking Through Walls would be similar to an Allison DuBois book, although the book is a memoir about growing up with a psychic healer, not life as a psychic. Instead of the sweet book about psychic life that I'd hoped for, the book begins with a young Philip Smith drinking an alcoholic beverage in a sleazy Florida bar -- at the age of 6. To be honest, my initial impression was that Smith was the victim of child abuse. His parents ignored him and allowed him to drink alcohol in a bar with a large picture window into a pool where things you really wouldn't even want your teenager to watch occurred? That's just not right. His family and their lifestyle were so far from normality that I had a great deal of difficulty reading the book.
I set the book aside in disgust and then eventually managed to shift gears and read the whole thing. Smith tells about how his father, a well-known decorator living in Miami, suddenly decided to take up a macrobiotic diet and study spiritualism and psychic healing. Gradually, he began to perform healings (free of charge) and eventually he was able to heal by phone, using a pendulum, maps and the essence of homeopathic medicines, which he projected to the person in need.
"Before I start any work, I say a quick prayer to raise my vibrations so I'll be able to tune in to the proper frequency. I simply say, 'I raise my vibrations to the divine and healing level.' "
p. 217 of Advanced Reader Copy, Walking Through Walls (changes may have been made)
Sound like a stretch? It was a bit too much for me.
Now and then, though, I really enjoyed the sense of time and place:
The big pink Philco regrigerator was humming noisily as she squished meat, eggs and crumbled Saltine crackers in a large Pyrex bowl. Just as I was about to announce my presence, the sirens wailed again. They seemed to be either louder or coming closer. I was now officially scared. Having spent several years in school perfecting my "duck-and-cover" routine that would protect me in the even of nuclear war, I quickly climbed into the cabinet under the sink, huddled next to the Ajax, and waited for the war to start while Mom chopped onions.
One day Mom was wearing some vividly colored Mardi Gras pop beads (so unlike her) that her sister had given to her. They caught my father's eye. Suddenly he had a decorating epiphany that these beads could become a new way to make modern draperies.
So, Philip Smith's father, Les Smith, was not only a psychic healer, but the man who invented those funky bead curtains that went so well with shag rugs and psychedelic posters in the 1960s. Interesting.
The book is very readable, but contains some adult material -- too much for my taste. While Smith seems to defend his parents lifestyle and blames the way they let him run loose to indulge in drugs and sex on the time and place, I found young Philip's exploits sordid, more than enough to earn a Family Unfriendly Warning. I also found that it became more difficult to believe the stories of healing instead of easier, as the book progressed.
Some people may enjoy this memoir, but it was definitely not my cuppa.
Update on The Misery:
Still feeling awful; have called to give the doctor's office a nudge. If someone wants to attempt to heal me psychically or pray me well, feel free. Just let me know, so I can give you proper credit, after I begin bouncing around like a Tigger. At the moment, I'm relying on sleep, fluids and aspirin. But, that doesn't really seem to be doing the trick. Hopefully, I'll be able to stop whining at you, within a few days. Cross your fingers and toes.
Lucky, lucky me:
Yesterday, as I was preparing to back out of my driveway, a FedEx truck drove up and parked right behind me -- which, for one thing, convinced me I should leave a few minutes earlier for the school pick-up. Apart from that minor regret, there was also an "Oh, boy! Oh, boy!" moment, when I saw the return-address label, because I've been anxiously awaiting this particular book, an ARC of Bedlam South by David Donaldson & Mark Grisham. Those who visit regularly undoubtedly know I've recently become a Civil War enthusiast. Bedlam South takes place during the Civil War. Wahoo! I started reading the book practically the moment I opened the parcel (in the doctor's office -- he can just forget borrowing this one, although he did ask me about it and . . . well, I gushed about how much I was already enjoying it). So far, I am absolutely loving this book. I hope to finish it, this weekend. Assuming I'm alive. I figure if I'm still able to sit at the computer, it's a good sign.
Update: Got antibiotics. Took one. Waiting for the miracle of modern medicine to take hold.
Next up: Reviews of Farworld: Water Keep and The Darcys and The Bingleys. You will be happy to hear that I enjoyed both of them. Negative reviews are such a bummer.
Wishing everyone a pleasant, book-filled weekend!
Bookfool, who hopes to quit whining and feel better, soon
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
by Chris Warner and Don Schmincke
Release date: October 2008
What led you to pick up this book? Both my husband and I were interested in reading High Altitude Leadership. He reads business books for work; I read them for fun and in order to stay current.
Summarize the book without giving anything away. The authors have created their own approach to leadership development by combining lessons learned from mountain climbing with basic business principles that have proven successful. In each chapter, the authors describe different dangers: fear, selfishness, tool seduction, arrogance, lone heroism, cowardice, comfort and gravity. The concepts are introduced via quotes and and then illustrated using stories of disaster and success in both mountaineering and business.
What did you like most about the book? Both my husband and I found that we could hardly bear the wait between mountaineering stories. My copy is an advanced reader, so please be advised that the text may have changed between galley and final published work, but I think the climbing stories are best illustrated with an excerpt.
Time: July 20 (Summit Day)
Location: K2 - Pakistan
4:45 a.m.: Vapor from my breath immediately freezes on my beard. At 25 below zero and 26,500 feet above sea level, I'm lucky to be breathing at all. We're not using bottled oxygen, and at this altitude, there is barely one-third the oxygen than at sea level. With so little oxygen reaching our brains and finger tips, we struggle to stay warm, think straight and climb higher. The list of reasons to turn back keeps growing. Hanging above us we can see the final summit climb: 2000 feet of twisting snow gullies, a nearly vertical traverse below a hanging glacier, and a knife-edged ridge line.
--Excerpt from the ARC, Chapter 1 - Danger #1: Fear
What do you think of the concept? Was it explained well? This was one of the topics my husband and I really enjoyed talking about. We agreed that the stories of mountaineering and its dangers weren't necessarily tied into their coordinating principles well, but the basic concepts made sense and some of the connecting business principles were more obvious than others.
Fear, for example, was straightforward. If you give in to fear -- whether you do so while climbing a mountain or leading an organization -- you will often make poor decisions that end up hurting individuals or your company, in the long run. Tool seduction, on the other hand, is a little tricky to connect to business. It makes sense that you can easily be seduced into relying upon a tool to save your life when you're on a cliff face or a sheet of ice, and when the tool falls off the cliff you're in deep doo-doo. How one applies that to a business setting, though, depends upon the "tools" involved. That was one chapter I had a bit of difficulty grasping.
Husband's absolute favorite part: The bit advising managers to "tell a compelling saga". He also thought it was fascinating that most deaths on mountain-climbing expeditions occur upon descent -- point being that a team needs to maintain focus to survive. That concept applies nicely to business, he said, as it's when a team loses focus that things fall apart.
What did you think of the characters? Those guys are crazy. But, aside from climbing mountains, a lot of what they said made sense -- it's a little harsh, but it's realistic.
Recommended? Yes, by both Bookfool and husband. Hubby is planning to buy several copies to pass around the office.
Cover thoughts: The cover suits the book and is extremely appealing to me. Hubby said he doesn't pay any attention to covers (True; he's not a visual person).
In other news: I'm still hovering at Death's Door, but I'm sick of being all Victorian, taking to my sick bed. Stupid doctor didn't call my medicine in. If it's not ready by noon, tomorrow, and I'm still alive, someone is going to get chewed out. The cat and I have, however, enjoyed some quality time together, sleeping and reading. There you go: I found the positive side of The Misery. Here's my napping companion (that's The Darcys and the Bingleys in the upper corner, along with a tube of lotion -- it's been dry, you see):
Coming up, next, assuming I'm not dead: Reviews of Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith, Farworld: Water Keep by J. Scott Savage and The Darcys and the Bingleys by Marsha Altman.
More good news: My sidebar problem has been (at least temporarily) resolved! Squeee! I updated as fast as my little mouse could run across the mouse pad.
On this day in Bookfool's Reading History: In 1998, I was reading The Story of My Disappearance by Paul Watkins.
Oh, heck, I missed this one: On September 20 of last year (2007), I finished Lottery by Patricia Wood. It was one of my favorites, so I had to mention it, even if I'm a few days late doing so. If you haven't read Lottery, you really should. It's available in paperback, in case you're interested. Perry is one of the coolest characters, ever.
That's all I can handle. I'm going back to bed. Sorry I'm falling behind on visiting my blogger buddies. Sitting up in front of the computer is amazingly tiring when you have the Creeping Crud. Hope to catch up with you during the weekend! Thanks for all the good wishes!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
First things first. Before I babble, I must share a lizard pic because it's been too long since you've gotten any lizard love from my blog and that's just wrong:
Since I think everyone who visits my blog is cool, I'm going to be lame (again) and not pass this on to any specific people. You're all automatically inducted. There. Isn't that cool? Or, rather, kool. No, let's go with "cool".
Bookish quote moment:
I just finished reading "Inside Information" from The Three Button Trick and Other Stories by Nicola Barker. Oh, Lordy, that was a weird little story. Here's a quote:
Martha's embryo was unhappy about its assignment to Martha. Early on, just after conception, it appealed to the higher body responsible for its selection and placement. This caused something of a scandal in the After-Life. The World-Soul was consulted -- a democratic body of pin-pricks of light, an enormous institution -- which came, unusually enough, to a rapid decision.
"Tell the embryo," they said, "hard cheese."
In case you're interested, that is one smart little embryo and he eventually comes up with a clever solution to that troublesome poorly-assigned mother issue.
Because I am one scattered chicky:
Apparently three books at a time is not enough. Is not enough? Are not enough? Oh, help. I'm losing my grasp of grammar. Point being, I happened to be sitting on the futon and therefore away from my little stack of current reads. And, I didn't feel like getting up. So, I began reading a fourth book, which just happened to be nearby: Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser. Earlier in the month, I attempted to read Mozart's Sister and it just didn't "click" for me. But, this time the book glared at me and then unaccountably and suddenly screamed "Pick me up!!!" And, in a softer voice,"Go ahead, you know you want to . . . " In this manner, the book ended up getting 50 pages of itself read. Amazing how insistent a little book can be. And, this time I'm enjoying it thoroughly. Mozart's Sister is just what it sounds like -- historical fiction about Wolfgang Mozart's equally talented big sis, Nannerl, told in first person.
Dangerous Capitalization Fever:
That High Altitude Leadership review I keep talking about is halfway finished . . . and on hold because the husband is not being cooperative. He claims he's stuck on Hawaii time and (whine, fuss, wail) has The Misery. It should be done by tomorrow, though, or someone's going to get a swift kick back into Central Standard Time. However, it's a little hard not to forgive a man who brought home chocolate-covered macadamia nuts. They are a serious Negotiation For Forgiveness tool.
But, watch out -- chocolate-covered macadamia nuts can be a deadly choking hazard:
I popped one into my mouth, last night, and sucked it right into my windpipe. Fortunately, I just leaned forward and it popped back out or you'd all be putting up memorials to a dearly-departed Bookfool (or maybe not, but you get the point). At the moment that piece of candy lodged in the wrong place, I had this little flash of intuition during which I realized choking would be a very sucky way to die.
Favorite place name to say out loud, repeatedly:
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Seriously, isn't that just loads of fun to say aloud? I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing it correctly, but I could repeat that name all day. I'm not bored, just goofy.
I have no right to covet books because so many have walked into my house, lately. But, still. My son wanted to go to the bookstore while we were out and about; and, how do you tell a kid, "No, you can't go to the bookstore! No, no!" Well, you don't, especially if you really want to keep the joy of books alive in him. So, I wandered around and found a couple of novels to covet:
Searching for Eternity by Elizabeth Musser and
The Legend of the Firefish by George Bryan Polivka
Has anyone read either of those titles? They both looked interesting for entirely different reasons. Whilst doing a quick search to make sure I wrote down the latter author's name correctly, I happened across this review of The Legend of the Firefish. The words "ripping yarn, full of grace in style and content" just served to reinforce my covetous inner book ninny.
I have forged a path into our spare room, which, upon the husband's irrational decision to completely empty a room and recarpet it while I was away (and then finding out that Home Depot's independently hired room-measuring chick either can't measure or is into fraudulently adding nonexistent square footage, deciding to put down hardwood flooring instead, then discovering the flooring is uneven), became rather a glorified closet. For 10 months we have been unable to set foot inside that room. Even the cat lost interest in exploring after a few perilously perched books came crashing down one day.
In celebration of the newly forged path, I filled two boxes full of VHS tapes and (it's okay; I'll never read them) books to donate to the library's perpetual sale corner. Plus, I can now actually reach some of those books you guys keep recommending. How many times have you heard me say, "I have a copy of that, but it's buried," in recent months? Well, I'm proud to say I don't have to repeat that same stupid comment about every single book in that room, now. Just . . . maybe 25% of them. There's still a part of the room that I can't get to. I suppose that's what I'll work on, this week. It's like hacking your way through a jungle.
And, now, I'm off to bed. Forging a path is hard work. I hope to catch up on blog reading and commenting (at Google Reader!!!), along with the completion of those two reviews that have been languishing in the draft box, this week.
Happy Sunday! Or, Monday. You know, whatever works for you.
Bookfool, Proud Cleaner of Spare Rooms, Forger of Paths, Reader of Fine Books and Discoverer of a New Century
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Two reviews forthcoming. I've been waiting for the hubby to return from Hawaii so that I can ask him to repeat some thoughts on High Altitude Leadership because I'm, unfortunately, rather forgetful. I've also finished Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith and will try to get around to writing up that review, this weekend.
Currently reading (and enjoying all):
Occasional Therapy for Your Midlife Years
Far World: Water Keep
The Darcys and the Bingleys
None are handy, or I'd tell you the names of the authors -- of course, we all know J. Scott Savage wrote Far World, after reading about a million blog reviews, right? The others . . . sorry. Brain drain. I'll tell you later.
Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, bookish weekend!
Either Blogger is performing some strange magic act or eating messages; I'm not sure which. So, if you have left me a message and it isn't showing up -- that doesn't mean I blocked your message. It means Blogger went *POOF* or MUNCH, MUNCH. Maybe I should get my own magic wand.
Note from Bookfool: The happy flower above lived in the Vicksburg National Military Park and bloomed on a lovely little hill. It was not the slightest bit fazed by the proliferation of tourists and joggers going past. The ant tickling its favorite petal has been obliterated by the wonder of modern technology.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Please forgive me for not joining in . . . I haven't participated in Blogger Appreciation Week because:
a. I'm more than a little bit scattered and found the quantity of posts overwhelming, and
b. The thought of potentially leaving someone out or offending them made me cringe. I just love all my blog buddies so much that I can't bear the thought that I might nominate or vote for someone at the expense of someone else.
There's got to be a "c", but I can't think of one. 2 items -- looks really weird, doesn't it?
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I think of my blog buddies as just one big, extended, happy family. I do appreciate you all and hope I haven't horrified anyone by not participating!!
Monday, September 15, 2008
In Chameleon Butterfly Dragonfly, Cindy Silbert guides you beyond your ego and intermittent happiness to your true self and lasting fulfillment. Based on her own encounter with the Divine Feminine, she reveals untouched wisdom and three Divine Archetypes that hold the key to balance, expression, power and your destiny. Chameleon Butterfly Dragonfly is more than just another "self-help" book, it takes you on a mystical journey to manifest your greatest desires. Through a self-quiz, readers discover their eminent archetype further revealing their unique characteristics, lifestyle tendencies and life purpose. Ultimately readers receive inspiration and practical guidance to create their destinies and make their mark in the world.
Author Cindy Silbert finds that she is compelled to write a spiritual book that will help women overcome their tendency to let ego rule, in order to find the True Self buried beneath ego. The message, as it were, is fed to the author by the Hawaiian goddess Hina. Cindy's Hawaiian home (at the time of writing) sits on top of the "eye of Hina", so it's only natural that the channeling occurs at her island home.
Why I read this book:
The cover blurb sounded a little New Age but I love reading books about finding fulfillment and balance -- positive-thinking, go get 'em books -- and Chameleon Butterfly Dragonfly sounded right up my alley.
Minor oops . . .
Google is just too handy. I was looking for a cover blurb and, instead, happened across this review at Breeni Books. Usually, it's my policy not to read other reviews when I'm preparing my own; one tends to absorb another person's choice of wording and it's preferable to be totally objective and original, right?
But, I really enjoyed what Breeni had to say -- in part because my viewpoint is so different from hers. The sections of the book I really enjoyed the most were the introduction and the epilogue, in which Silbert natters on about how the idea for the book came to her, the influence of the Hawaiian goddess, her own personal challenges at the time, the chaos of her early notes and the literary agent who said, "Oh, you're a woo-woo, too?" then later told Silbert, "If you don't write that sucker I will." She has a pleasant, chatty style.
Unfortunately, I found the meat of the book extremely disappointing. The concept of the three Divine Archetypes is certainly unique and, if I were to believe the quiz, I'm a combination of chameleon and dragonfly with hardly any butterfly at all. Not surprising, since the butterfly is all about beauty and being in the spotlight. I hate being in the spotlight and never thought of myself as pretty. But, while reading about the archetypes, my feeling was roughly the same as what I feel while reading a horoscope in a major publication-- there's too much cross-over, too much generic content that could easily apply to anyone. Here's a perfect example:
You don't like clutter but can also become overwhelmed by it so your home is immaculate, messy, or inconsistently somewhere in between the two.
Doesn't that pretty much cover every base? You have an immaculate home, a messy home or something in-between. Duh. We all have one of those, don't we? And, I'd say most people -- even those who are cluttery -- tend not to actually like clutter (hence the proliferation of books about ridding clutter from your life) so the clutter comment strikes both sides of the coin, as well.
However, the author had some good advice and some of what she described made total sense to me. I've copied all quotes directly from the book, so please don't blame me for the horrendous punctuation:
In an effort to become the best you can be, your ego begins to compare you to your ideal ego self and of course you always come up short. You end up spending your life trying to measure up to the standards of your ego; which isn't even real. On top of this, add traumatic experiences, emotional abuse, or just plain old disappointments. Then sprinkle on more and more responsibilities and different roles pulling you every which way. Finish it off with the imbalance of Yin causing you to deny your femininity inadvertently causing a break at your very core. The result is layer upon layer of distortion and more and more separation from your True Self and natural integrity; not to mention reality.
Eventually, I found myself taking notes saying that my chameleon is injured (and thinking, "Not possible, since I don't have a freaking chameleon!") then occasionally laughing out loud. That was the point at which I realized that what the book sounded like, to me, was the author's life coaching job combined with a little hippie philosophy and . . . maybe I'd be better off if I rolled it up and smoked it. Kidding, I don't smoke and I didn't give up on it, ever. I kept going because there were some occasional gems of wisdom. But, man . . . the number of capitalized words, alone, honestly did make me roll my eyes:
The stronger the balance among your Chameleon, Butterfly, and Dragonfly, the more powerfully your Eminient Archetype will emerge and the more fulfilling it will be to express your True Self and experience your True Feminine Power.
Eye roll. But, I love this:
Live Courageously as your True Self and you'll encourage other women to live courageously as well. As the women you've encouraged step forth, they in turn will encourage more women to do the same. Soon, an exponential explosion of Yin will occur bringing our Universe back into balance and the Divine Feminine will have fulfilled her mission. Beyond this, where will bold and courageous expression lead you? The answer is your Destiny.
But . . . I'm not going to say it. I'm not going to say it. Yes, I am. The word "destiny" with a capital D? That reminds me of Back to the Future and a young man whispering, "You are my density. I mean . . . my destiny." This, however, is another passage that has merit (except for all those capital letters):
Begin to Tell the Truth by making a list of all the things you've always wanted to say. Then, look at your life and Tell the Truth by writing down what's currently working and not working. Continue to Tell the Truth by writing down what's been stopping you from pursuing what you know would be True Self expression or a source of joy in your life. Reformat your responses into an action list. Work your way through the list until you've eliminated each item one-by-one. This can be extremely liberating. Once you get going you may not be able to stop, and that's a good thing.
That is a good thing. We all build our own imaginary road blocks. It's that kind of suggestion that makes Silbert successful as a life coach, I'm sure.
In general: A little weird, with occasional smatterings of excellent advice. I would not recommend against reading the book, simply because I think most people can squeeze a little juice from this lemon. But, it's not a book I would ever shove into a friend's hands, proclaiming it a "Must Read" (rampant capitalization: it's infectious). Like Breeni, I was a little dismayed that the book only contains 150 pages of content and a raft of blank journal pages.
Also: Not really a guy book.
Other thoughts: I think the author's chatty style would lend itself well to a memoir; and it would be awfully interesting to read about how she became a successful life coach with two homes (in very expensive locations) and a nanny.
Still reading: Far World: Water Keep and Walking Through Walls
Added to current reads: Occasional Therapy for your Midlife Years by Dr. Ellyn Gamberg
Weekly Geeks quote of the day:
Me: First of all, I must know why you chose to read Eleanor Rigby. It's relevant.
Myself: It's not quite that dreary, though. The story is about a woman named Liz Dunn. Liz is overweight, plain, and leads a dull life working a dull job and then going home to her lonely, sterile condo. She's friendless and loveless, although her family (brother, sister, parent) adds some color to the story. Then, one day she gets a call from the hospital. A young man is unconscious in the ER and her name and number are on his emergency bracelet. Since Liz has no friends, she thinks a mistake has been made. But, then she realizes who that young man is . . . and her life changes.
Me: Would you call the book "quirky" or "off-beat"?
Myself: I would, if it didn't sound like I removed those two words from a can.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Guest blog at Booking Mama's site by the author, a must read
What led you to pick up this book? Did I Expect Angels? was already on my wish list, thanks to some very positive blog reviews, when I was contacted about reading it for a book tour. Well, of course I jumped all over that offer.
Summarize the plot without giving away the ending. Jennifer Huffaker, a suicidally depressed widow and mother of one, is on the verge of ending her life when a friend shares his own story of grief and becomes, in the process, her angel.
What did you like most about the book? Kathryn Maughan really understands grief and depression. While it was hard reading because it's so emotional, the pages absolutely flew. I could easily imagine a real-life Jennifer and I was rooting for her.
What did you think of the characters? They're a nice, believable mixed bag. Jennifer was actually my least favorite character because, even at her best, she was a little bit odd and not very likable. And, yet, I cared about her in spite of her flaws, probably because the challenges she wrestles with are similar to many of my own or those of people I've been close to. Henry, the friend who shares his story with Jennifer, is both compelling and easy to love. Jennifer's mother-in-law is a woman of amazing strength and compassion.
Recommended? Definitely. I would particularly recommend this book to people who have experienced loss or grief and want to read a book about finding hope. But, it's just an all-around good read. Not for when you're in a fluff mood; it's quite emotional.
Cover thoughts: I'm not sure I quite understand the purpose of a scratched-out cherub statue, but at the same time I love this cover. From the first time I saw it I thought it might, in some way, represent frustration, depression or grief. It's an unusual, eye-catching image and I think it's representative of the emotions in this book. Definitely a winner.
Weekly Geeks #17
Thursday, September 11, 2008
U.S. Release: August, 2008
197 pages, incl. epilogue
Sam at the corner shop tells me that in Pakistan, a household that has a disabled child is thought to be blessed.
He says it when I'm buying milk over the counter, Joe in a pale blue papoose on my chest.
He looks straight into my eyes and says: "You've been so lucky, there isn't the medicine in Pakistan to save kids like him -- you'd have lost him."
Sam might have saved my life today.
I guess it's like when you're dying;
you see a light
unless you don't.
As I walk back home, Sam's words pierce the cloud between my heart and the sun.
I hardly know Sam.
He barely knows me.
--pp. 24-25 of Advance Uncorrected Proofs (changes may have been made)
As we pass the running children who hold up their heads so easily, I realize miracles are so commonplace we barely recognize them anymore, and near the circles of mothers anxiously comparing milestones at the school gates, I see how we live in a time where
normal is never enough,
and we are never full.
Joe gives me insights I could never have understood without him
and he gives me heartbreak.
To separate these two responses would be impossible. He is equally
beautiful and terrifying.
p 42. of Advanced Uncorrected Proof
I just whipped through this book and felt compelled to immediately sit down to review it, Blue Sky July is so moving. I'm going to skip the usual format. Blue Sky July is a memoir told by the mother of a child diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy. At birth, Joe appeared healthy and normal. But, then something went wrong and Nia Wyn knew, despite doctors' reassurances. After a brain scan, Nia and her husband Alex were told that Joe's brain damage was so severe that he would never walk, talk, hear, see or even know they were there.
Instead of just giving in to the diagnosis, Nia and Alex searched for answers and immediately began exhausting rounds of therapy and exercises in which they stimulated Joe by tapping on him, moving his arms and legs, flashing lights on and off, singing and talking to him, taking him to oxygen treatments and healers. Eventually, the fact that their entire life revolved around treatment of Joe became too much for Alex and he moved out. But, Nia refused to give up hope. And, then, the tiniest ray of light appeared when Joe reached out and touched her.
Blue Sky July describes the first seven years of Joe's life, from Nia's blissful pregnancy to the miraculous changes in a child who didn't move or respond to light, sound or touch. I can't seem to come up with the right words to describe this book; it's just amazing. I highly, highly recommend it, particularly to anyone who is grasping for hope.
Now reading . . .
Just one book?! Yes, but that won't last long. I'm going to dig back into Chameleon, Butterfly, Dragonfly, this afternoon. It was set aside so I could finish The Last Queen, yesterday, and then I picked up Blue Sky July and couldn't put it down. I'm sure I'll add in a novel, today.
Stupid sidebar . . .
Still can't alter it. This is a come-and-go problem. Sometimes a change of browser works. Sometimes switching to another computer does the trick. Sometimes nothing helps at all and I'm just stuck. This sometime I'm in stuck mode; it's been going on for weeks. I'll just have to keep my reading updates limited to the text of my posts, for now.
Husband's favorite photo from last week's swim meet:
Still need to review two books: High Altitude Leadership by Chris Warner & Don Schmincke and Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland.
Got tagged for a couple of blog awards and, once again, I've broken the pattern. I can't even seem to locate the posts, now, so I must apologize and say "Thanks", at once, to those who have kindly tagged me. I'll try very hard to keep up with passing on blog awards, in the future. I've really dropped the ball, in the past year.
With apologies to Texas: Thank you to those who chanted with me, causing Ike to jog west. And, to those in Texas, I am wishing a soft landing, a fizzled hurricane, and that Ike will move as quickly as possible in order to reduce the chances of flooding. Best to those in Lousiana, and anywhere else effected by the hurricane, as well.
Gotta go. Things to do and all that lot. Have a peachy day!
Bookfool, who has simply got to quit putting off the housework, period.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
The Last Queen by C. W. Gortner
Ballantine Books/Historical Fiction
365 pages, including afterword
The scent of jasmine washed over me. Above, a sickle moon hung suspended in a dazzling spangled night. I heard water spill from the stone lions ringing the fountain; my feet soaked in the waterways as I slowly turned about to stare at the Alhambra's curving arches, the intricate pediments and sculpted marble.
The silence was a presence. Everything had changed. This world I loved so much, it would not mourn me. It would not even feel my absence. It would continue on, agelessly indifferent in its beauty, its walls absorbing the echoes of its departed.
I felt Soraya at my side. As her hand enfolded mine, I let my tears fall in furious silence.
What led you to pick up this book? I love historical fiction and jumped at the chance to review the book for a book tour.
Summarize the plot without giving anything away. The Last Queen is the story of Juana of Castile, also known as "Juana the Mad" and the last queen of Spanish blood to inherit the throne of Spain. It tells of her life from adolescence to the time of her death.
What did you like most about the book? The sense of time and place. I thought the author did a beautiful job of describing Spain and other places Juana lived and traveled. One gets not only a sense of what it must have been like living during this time period, but also of the pressures of royalty, the intrigue and danger. It reminded me of one of my favorite memoirs, Autobiography by Benvenuto Cellini. One minute the heroine is living the high life in velvet, eating off a gold plate, and the next minute she's imprisoned in a dark room with guards at the door, without even the option to bathe.
What did you think of the characters? The Last Queen is packed with perfectly crafted characters, believable and often frightening in their vagaries and sinister ways. Juana, her mother Isabel and the women close to Juana were my favorites. I loved the author's descriptions of their strength and resilience. I thought it was perfectly conceivable that Juana's "madness" was simply a ploy to remove her from power.
Describe your favorite scene: I loved the scene in which a pregnant Juana escapes from one of her many imprisonments on horseback.
Recommended? Yes, absolutely. Whether or not you know the time period, the book is accessible and an engrossing, often adventurous read. I enjoyed the emotional tug, as Juana often loved deeply without being truly loved in return. One could not easily leave this book without feeling sympathy for Juana.In general: I often mention that I'm not knowledgable about history and this is yet another case in which I went into another historical time period with little knowledge or understanding of historical facts. The Last Queen has an ease and flow that made even the political maneuvering readily understandable. There are some graphic sex scenes, so I don't consider the book family friendly, but I thought they all fit within the framework of the novel. The author mentions that some of the most exciting scenes did, in fact, take place.