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Month: September 2016

A Book a Day, Day 18, I Am Not a Serial Killer

A Book a Day, Day 18, I Am Not a Serial Killer

“I just liked to kill, I wanted to kill.” – Ted Bundy

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I like books and movies about serial killers, but even I was creeped out by 15 year old John Wayne Cleaver in I am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells.  The story took a major turn about 100 pages in, not one I liked and it sort of tainted the rest of the book for me, BUT John was compelling and I kept reading.  This one was recommended by a few book blogger buddies and is the first of a trilogy.  I’m pretty sure I won’t read them, there’s no cliff-hanger that’s making me, but who knows.  John may stay stuck in my head like a bad dream and convince me.

What’s it about – John is a teen who is obsessed with serial killers.  He feels that at his core, he is one.  He keeps himself in check by lots of rules so that he is never put in the position of killing someone because he wants to. This plan worked fine until his small town is home to its first serial killer.

What did I learn – Way, way more than I wanted to about what happens at the mortuary.  Let’s just say that you should not read this while you’re eating.  Or thinking about eating.  Or getting ready to go to a funeral.  Go ahead, read the first chapter.  If you are okay with that then this book may be for you.

Who would like it – Since John is 15 this is considered a YA, but John was way older than his years, so only mature teens should read this.  And if you like books like Silence of the Lambs or shows like Dexter this one is for you.

Ohio State rocked Oklahoma last night – Woo hoo!  Did you see this catch?

 

A Book a Day, Day 17, Best Staged Plans

A Book a Day, Day 17, Best Staged Plans

“Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love.” -Nate Berkus

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It’s raining, it’s pouring, this old mom is inside writing.  I’m sitting at a folding plastic table that we’ve been using for a kitchen table for over two months. Why?  I had the great idea that if we sold our table at our July garage sale it would force us to buy one quickly.  Haha.  We only just agreed on one this week and it won’t be delivered until October 6.  I doubt that Sandy Sullivan, the home stager in Best Staged Plans by Claire Cook, would be impressed.  But that’s okay because she wasn’t my cup of tea either.

What’s it about – Sandy has a husband and two grown children and is living in an old house in the Boston suburbs that she wants to sell.  Her daughter lives in Atlanta and miraculously her best friend’s boyfriend just bought a hotel there that could use a home stager?  Yeah.  She heads off in a huff, telling her husband not to call until their house was ready to sell, and maintains the attitude for much of  the book.

What did I learn – She did talk a lot about staging, not anything you didn’t know if you’ve watched any HGTV, but it’s always good to be reminded. She even listed her top tips at the end: de-clutter, scrub, move things from the wall, rotate accessories, lights, mirrors, warm and neutral paint, decorate in groups of three, drop the frames.  All good reminders if you want to freshen up your house.

Who would like it – Well, maybe it lost something in the narration because I did listen to the first half in the car, because I have Goodreads friends who really liked it.  The intended audience would be midlife women who like to see their stories told with humor.  For me, and next month I’ll be 45 so I fit the right age group, I just could not get myself to like Sandy and her perceived troubles.

Tonight is going to be a great college football night in our house. Ohio State at Oklahoma and Michigan State at Notre Dame.  Here’s hoping that Brutus and Sparty represent!

 

A Book a Day, Day 16, The Watermark

A Book a Day, Day 16, The Watermark

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”   -Albert Einstein

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When I finished this book yesterday I officially reached the halfway point in the number of books I’m to read this month. It felt good. I was also lucky that I got into the story and read it over a couple of hours in the morning.  I picked it up at a library sale a few years ago because I thought it was pretty and that I recognized the author’s name (I didn’t).  Somehow I missed the big pink sticker on the spine proclaiming this book to be Inspirational, but wasn’t hard to miss once I started reading.  I tend to avoid the inspirational fiction. Most of them feel very vanilla to me when I like a little chocolate, but this one was sweet just the way it was and I liked it quite a bit.  The Watermark:A Tender Story of Forgiveness and Hope by Travis Thrasher.  Yeah, the subtitle should have tipped me off too.

What’s it about – Sheridan returns to college after a seven year hiatus. He still feels shame and guilt about the incident that got him kicked out of college the first time but he is trying to put his life back together. He brings in a roommate and meets a girl and things are looking good.  If only he can find forgiveness.

What did I learn – It’s always easier to tell others they need to forgive themselves than it is to forgive yourself.  Or to accept that forgiveness from God.  And I miss college. I’m binge watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix and Rory’s at Yale and then I read this.  Is it too late to go back?

Who would like it – Anyone who like inspirational stories. I also think this would make a nice gift for anyone going to or in college.  It doesn’t turn a blind eye from the reality of college life and the trouble that kids get in to when on their own for the first time.

A Book a Day, Day 15, Reading Lolita in Tehran

A Book a Day, Day 15, Reading Lolita in Tehran

“Do not, under any circumstances, belittle a work of fiction by trying to turn it into a carbon copy of real life; what we search for in fiction is not so much reality but the epiphany of truth.” – Azar Nafisi

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The book group selection for this month was Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. It was definitely a challenge and I had a marathon reading day yesterday just to barely finish in time.  I needn’t have worried since three of the seven didn’t finish it and two others also finished it yesterday.  It’s hard to know exactly what the problem was.  Some didn’t like the author, some thought she was talking down to them about the books, others were bothered by the jumping around from the past to the present.  I think all of us agreed that we wanted to feel more of a connection with the girls in the book club.  I liked the book overall, but only because  I found the good parts worth the not-so-great ones.  And I did a lot of skimming 🙂

What’s it about – Azar, a college literature professor in Tehran, Iran at the time of the revolution, chronicles her years living in Iran and how the Islamic takeover of the government changed the lives of the women living there.  Eventually she started a secret book group in her home where the women talked about banned Western classics and it’s through these books that she framed the story.

What did I learn – Oh, everything. Okay, not so much about the literature, I’d read most of them and my time at Ohio State as an English Ed major let me sit through many lectures similar to what I read in the book, but everything else was pretty new to me and what I enjoyed the most.  Learning about what was happening in Iran in the 1980’s, told from the perspective of an educated woman, was eye opening for me.

Who would love it – Hm. Well, as I noted the book club members were not huge fans, but there were a few of us who did appreciate the historical aspects.

I’m hoping to get a more complete review on my book blog soon.  I haven’t done a good job of keeping up with both this month.

So, I’ve made officially made it halfway through this first 30 day challenge and I’m feeling good.  The website needs a lot of work, but reading a book a day has put my free time at a premium so some of the improvements will take some time.  I hope I’m showing you that it can be done!

 

 

A Book a Day, Day 14, Dear Almost

A Book a Day, Day 14, Dear Almost

“Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.”  – Plato

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Thank goodness that Dear Almost by Matthew Thorburn arrived in the mail on Monday because I really needed something short yesterday.  After volunteering, I bought a new kitchen table, had lunch with Jason, blogged while Gage played with a therapist who has known him since he was two, made dinner and then headed to my first PTA meeting (where I volunteered to help with the yearbook :)). By the time I got home I was able to see the last hour of the America’s Got Talent finale and STILL finish a book. Woo hoo!  I’ve already met with a painter this morning, but after I post this it’s straight to reading since I have 300 pages to finish before book group tonight.  This challenge is keeping my days full, for sure.

I accepted this book as part of a book tour and will be doing a more formal review on my book blog next month. When I do I will link to it on this post.

What’s it about – I am not a poetry reader but when Serena contacted me and told me that it was a father’s poem to the child his wife miscarried I knew I had  to read it.  Jason and I suffered through a miscarriage when I was 36 and at the time it felt like something that no one talked about. Or maybe it’s just that you feel so isolated and alone and unsure about what you are supposed to feel.  I felt all of those things when I read this beautiful poem.

What did I learn – No two people grieve the same way.

Who would love it – Poetry lovers, of course, and those struggling to cope with the loss of a child.

 

 

A Book a Day, Day 13, The Lovers

A Book a Day, Day 13, The Lovers

“A capacity and taste for reading gives access to whatever has already been discovered by others.”  Abraham Lincoln

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Late post today. After taking Gage to school I drove over to the Military Entrance Processing Command where brave men and women spend the day waiting to be shipped off to boot camp.  Jason is a member of the USO board and was going to volunteer so I went over too so I could see how it all worked. I admit that once the families were allowed to come in (4.5 hours after they arrived) and hang out until the buses came I got a little emotional.  I was so proud of all of them for their sacrifice and thankful that we have men and women willing to defend us and others in harms way.

Last night, I did go to the first of five library workshops on introduction to writing romance and women’s fiction.  I think it’ll be fun and will inspire to me join National Novel Writing Month for my November 30 day challenge.

Okay, I finished The Lovers by Vendela Vida yesterday. I listened to the majority of this in the car but followed along in the book.  I admit I didn’t felt a twinge of interest until page 68.  There were many discussion worthy storylines, but overall it just didn’t speak to me.

What’s it about – Yvonne is a recent widow who decides to go back to the place of her honeymoon, Datca, Turkey.  She rents a house and meets a few people who help her heal in different ways. As the days unfold we get the whole story on her marriage and children.

What did I learn – I learned a little about the culture and geography of Turkey.

Who would love it – People who like books written about older women and their journeys. And people who like to explore other countries and cultures through books.

I’m 12/12 so far!!

 

 

A Book a Day, Day 12, Bleachers

A Book a Day, Day 12, Bleachers

“The same boys who get detention in elementary school for beating the crap out of people are now rewarded for it.  They call in football.” -Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak

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It’s college football season so that makes me happy.  We gave up cable for about six months and I was fine with it, adjusted to not having 24 hour news or Project Runway, but Jason couldn’t face football season without cable.  How would we see the games?  How would we listen to incessant chatter about said games without 800 ESPN channels?  How could we be happy without Saturday football?  So, we’ve got cable again. I’m not complaining but we did fail our no cable experiment. I guess I can take comfort in the fact that it wasn’t me with the problem 🙂

Ohio State looks pretty good. How about your teams?

Bleachers by John Grisham was a good choice for the challenge and season.  It’s on the shorter side and about high school football. The audio was read by Grisham himself and I always like to try those. I’d say about half of authors make good narrators.  Grisham was fine but I was bored even with all the football talk.  The story did a lot of meandering but didn’t feel much like we got anywhere by the end.

What’s it about – An all-star quarterback returns to his Texas hometown when he hears that his old football coach is dying.  He meets up with other players doing the same and is drawn back into a town that sees him as a legend.  Can he make peach with his past?

What did I learn – Football is king?

Who would like it – I’m not sure.  There’s a lot of football talk and a real sense of brotherhood among the players, so it maybe football fans or players looking to relive the glory days of high school.

 

A Book a Day, Day 11, D is for Deadbeat

A Book a Day, Day 11, D is for Deadbeat

“Even the smallest act of service, the simplest act of kindness, is a way to honor those we lost, a way to reclaim that spirit of unity that followed 9/11.”  President Barack Obama

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September 11 is a day that sneaks up on me every year, but one that always brings tears. I read the stories, watch the videos, see the pictures and I weep for the senselessness of it.  As I was eating breakfast getting ready to write this post I watched this video that a friend shared on Facebook.

It is a day to remember and honor and consider what we can do to stop tragedies like this from happening.  But most importantly, it’s a day to love, laugh, and appreciate life.  It also happens to be Grandparent’s Day so we’ll be having dinner with my parents.

I did read a book yesterday and I really liked it. D is for Deadbeat by Sue Grafton has been my favorite of the four I’ve read so far. It’s longer and the list of suspects was so long that I really had no idea who the culprit was until she revealed it in the end.

What’s it about – Private detective Kinsey Millhone take a shady case and ends up with a $25,000 check and a dead client.

What did I learn – My life is pretty boring. No shootings, no ex-cons, no affairs.  What am I doing wrong?

Who would love it – Detective mysteries lovers and those who like strong female protagonists.

A Book a Day, Day 10, Talking About Detective Fiction

A Book a Day, Day 10, Talking About Detective Fiction

“Books about quotations…afford me one of the most undemanding but satisfying forms of reading pleasure. ” -P.D. James

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I listened to the audio for the first half of PD James’s Talking About Detective Fiction and was a little bored so I switched to the paper version.  And had the same problem.  It did make me want to read a mystery so I picked up Sue Grafton’s series for today. Although I didn’t love this one, its shortness made it a good choice for this challenge and for my reading list since I will be adding many of the books she mentioned!  It also got me in the right mindset for Monday, when I start a 6 week series at a local library on Writing Romance 🙂

What’s it about – Beloved mystery writer writes a book on the history of detective fiction, mostly British. She names the best of the best and goes into the model of what makes a mystery great.

What did I learn – I don’t read enough of the classic mystery writers. Sure, I’m a somewhat recent fan of Agatha Christie, but many of the others I’m not familiar with at all.  She gave a shortlist for the four most important women in the genre’s golden age and I’ll be trying the others soon.  She chose Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh.

Who would like it – Probably readers more well versed in detective fiction than I am.  Also, I think it would be a great place to start for  anyone interested in writing a detective novel since it gives you a the basics and a great reading list.

I’m 9 for 9 and going strong 🙂

 

 

 

A Book a Day, Day 9, Living Buddha, Living Christ

A Book a Day, Day 9, Living Buddha, Living Christ

“When you touch someone who authentically represents a tradition, you not only touch his or her tradition, you also touch your own.  This quality is essential for dialogue.  When participants are willing to learn from each other, dialogue takes place just by their being together.  When those who represent a spiritual tradition embody the essence of their tradition, just the way they walk, sit, and smile speaks volumes about the tradition.”   Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh, page 7

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Okay, I love Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m a Christian and not interested in becoming a Buddhist (although he claims that if you are an enlightened Christian you are also and Enlightened Buddhist and vice versa) but I feel his views on the world and the practical ways that we can become more in tune with the universe and God are worth practicing.  I completely marked up my book with notes. I might have even been drinking a glass of wine when I read how disrespectful that was to pretty much everyone now and in the future.  Oops.

What’s it about – Hanh, a well respected monk who has been involved in promoted peace around the world, talks about his Buddhist faith and its similarities to Christianity.

What did I learn – Oh, I don’t even have enough time to type it all or even for that much introspection.  I will say that this one was the most difficult of his books I’ve read.  I learned much more about the specifics of Buddhism in this one and I’m confused on some points.  Hanh studied Christianity and Jesus’s life and he equates much in the two religions.  Some of these points I saw to be true and some I thought were a stretch, but I find it rare that people experience Jesus in the same way even as Christians so I can’t fault him in his thoughtful insights.

Who would love it – If you are familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh then I think you will like it.  His chapter on the peaceful heart made my own jump around in happiness!  If you would like a beginner’s course on Buddhism then I think you will learn something here.  I also think Christians will recognize the truth in much of what he says although I might start with one of his other books on mindfulness first.

I’ll have to write a more complete review on my book blog in a few days. Still trying to take it all in.