MY FAVORITE READS — SEPT. 23

Every Thursday, host Alyce from At Home With Books, challenges us to search our shelves (and our memory banks) for those special books that touched our hearts and minds.  Favorite reads.

Today I found this book on a shelf and immediately traipsed back in time to when I read it.

Blackbird, by Jennifer Lauck, is a memoir.

On Amazon, this review tells a bit about this story:

Prefaced by a medical report summarizing her mother’s various hospitalizations, this heartbreaking memoir reconstructs the sad and turbulent events of Lauck’s childhood, which was overshadowed by the illness and early death of her mother. In 1969, five-year-old Lauck stayed with her mother at their home in Carson City, Nev., preparing her mother’s breakfast, helping her get dressed on good days and basking in the warmth of her mother’s undivided attention while her older brother was at school and her father at work. When her mother’s health continued to decline (among other things, she suffered from a duodenal ulcer and tumors), Lauck’s father was advised to seek better care in California. The move was traumatic, for it separated Lauck from the only home she knew and from her caring, extended family. At her mother’s urging, Lauck told no one at her school of her mother’s illness, fearing the interference of social welfare authorities. After her mother died in 1971, when Lauck was seven, her father quickly remarried, bestowing on his children a classically evil stepmother, and leaving Lauck feeling powerless to complain about her new misery to her often absent father. Lauck’s writing is utterly convincing, although the child narrator’s innocent voice sometimes leaves the reader wondering how her father could have been so blind to his children’s welfare or why their extended family did not step in sooner to help these unhappy children. Throughout, Lauck, who is now in her 30s, remains true to her child’s eye and keeps the reader sympathetic and engaged. Fans of emotionally powerful booksAor anyone who has lost a parentAwill find this memoir very satisfying. Agent, Rita Rosenkranz. Author tour. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Why I Chose This Book:

As many of you know, I spent many years working with dysfunctional families, many of whom had horrendous stories to tell.  Most of my colleagues would not fill their personal time with books and movies that feature these same events.  But for whatever reason, I did…and do.

Maybe it’s that I can feel a connection to the characters, and perhaps even identify just a bit with their plight.  My own family story (which I have fictionalized in some of my books) certainly echoes some of these same issues.

Each time I read such a story, I am hoping to see the characters emerge victorious, having survived the horrendous moments of their childhood lives.  Those times when we all feel powerless.  And in this story, the author does indeed arise from the terrible times and has written about it.

And to add to the drama of this first memoir, there’s another. Still Waters is the compelling sequel.

What book is your favorite this week?  I hope you’ll stop by and share.

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MONDAY MEMES: MAILBOX AND WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Good morning!  It’s Monday and time to celebrate those great beginning-of-the-week memes.

Mailbox Monday is hosted through August by Chick Loves Lit.

It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading? is hosted by Book Journey.

Both are celebrations of reading, and opportunities for bloggers to click around the blogosphere, networking and adding new books to their lists.

Monday Mailbox: This week’s mailbox brought two great books:

Irish Twins, by Michelle Cozzens (received from the author)

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

Anne Shields died at the age of 80. It happened while she was water-skiing. Her husband of fifty-four years, Michael, tried to revive her; however, it was no use. There was no return from a massive stroke to the brain stem. She passed in peace, and entered a new existence in a place called Ohr where her sister, Molly, greeted her with a cup of hot tea. Molly was her Irish Twin. “Irish Twin” is a slang term for two children born to the same mother within a twelve-month period. Its origin is uncertain, but it’s a decidedly derogatory term, which mocks the Irish Catholic culture’s rejection of birth control methods. This is the story of not one, but two sets of Irish Twins-Anne and Molly- as well as Anne’s daughters, the Irish Twins Jennifer and Catherine. Also known as Jenny and Caylie, they are approaching middle age when their mother dies, and are left to face the world with many unanswered questions about a mother who left them far too quickly. Anne and Molly reunite in Ohr and Molly, the elder Irish Twin, guides Anne through her judgment. She witnesses her life and the lives of her surviving husband and five children through endless cups of tea, served to her by her sister. Anne is the heart and soul of this tale. Although she has passed away, she is very much present in the lives of her daughters. She keeps watch over Jenny and Caylie as well as her three additional children, and through her we learn a lot about being a sister, a wife, a parent, a friend. We learn not only about life . . . . . . but also about death.

Next, I received The Quick and the Thread, by Amanda Lee, a contest win from Pudgy Penguin Perusals.

Here’s a tidbit from Amazon:

When Marcy Singer opens an embroidery specialty shop in quaint Tallulah Falls, Oregon, she throws a soiree and a Stitch-In. Soon, Marcy’s sign- up sheet for embroidery classes fills up and everyone in town seems willing to raise a glass-or a needle-to support the newly-opened Seven Year Stitch.

Then Marcy finds the shop’s previous tenant dead in the store-room, a message scratched with a tapestry needle on the wall beside him. Now Marcy’s shop has become a crime scene, and she’s the prime suspect. She’ll have to find the killer before someone puts a final stitch in her.

**********

What Are You Reading?

Last week, I finished these books:   (Click the titles for the reviews)

1)  Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner

2)  As Husbands Go, by Susan Isaacs

3)  Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, by Josie Brown

What’s Up This Week?

1)  Irish Twins, by Michelle Cozzens

A story, described above, about the mysterious guidance of some unique twins.

2)  Let’s Take the Long Way Home, by Gail Caldwell (a memoir)

A tale of friendship between two writers—a memorializing of the deceased friend.

Ongoing:

Give Me Your Heart, by Joyce Carol Oates (Tales of mystery and suspense)

So these are my reading adventures for the week.  What have you all been up to?  I hope you’ll stop by and share.

IT’S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Good morning, it’s time for one of our favorite Monday memes, hosted by Sheila, at Book Journey.

Here’s our chance to get together, from all over the blogosphere, to celebrate the past week’s reading, to talk about what’s up this week, and to network with other bloggers.

My past week was not exactly stellar, in terms of reading accomplishments, but I did enjoy what I read.

I did a little bloggy stuff, like combining my now defunct Snow Impressions with Connections to make Snow Connections and Impressions.

 

As for the reading, here’s what I accomplished:

Reviewed Last Week:

1)  Guest House, by Barbara K. Richardson (Click title for Review)

2)  The Position, by Meg Wolitzer

Ongoing:

1)  Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner

2)  Give Me Your Heart, by Joyce Carol Oates

What’s Planned for This Week:

1)  Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, by Josie Brown (an Amazon Vine read).

Here’s a tidbit from Amazon:

Just in time for summer, Brown’s novel offers an enjoyable, if predictable, take on suburban California family life, complete with mommy cliques, rebel teenagers, and, of course, lots of adultery. Lyssa is a pushover mom striving for approval from her judgmental peers as well as her three active kids and overworked husband. She befriends Harry, a recently divorced half of the untouchable “perfect couple” of Paradise Heights, and in the process makes trouble for her family, but also finds some freedom from the pressures of wealthy suburbia. This is a town where kids have names like Tanner, McGuyver, and Temple; women meet daily at Starbucks to measure themselves against each other; and facials and pedicures are scheduled around school pickups. It’s unfortunate that the narrator, Lyssa, is no more accessible or intelligent than any of her peers, and it’s sometimes hard to root for her. However, these women inside their fishbowl are fun to peer in on despite being caricaturish, and the momentum of Brown’s writing and plot keeps the pages turning. –Annie Tully

2)  As Husbands Go, by Susan Isaacs.

On Amazon, this blurb enticed me:

She may not be as brainy as her famous Manhattan plastic-surgeon husband, Jonah, nor as proper as his snooty rich parents. And she may be clueless about mothering, thanks to her wildly deficient Brooklynite parents (picture schlumpy, depressed Roz Chast characters), but nonetheless Susie loves her triplets, three rambunctious four-year-old boys. She also takes unabashed pleasure in her happy marriage, her floral design company, her humongous Long Island home, and her designer wardrobe. She may be shallow, as she’s the first to admit, but she does have heart. And ethics, even though she’s not sure what that means. And so when her husband is found stabbed to death in a prostitute’s apartment, Susie is devastated, skeptical about the open-and-shut case touted by the district attorney and her impossible in-laws, and determined to unearth the truth about Jonah’s killer. Her best ally turns out to be her glamorous renegade grandmother Ethel, a woman so cold she abandoned her daughter. But maybe Ethel is due for a thaw as these two queens of chutzpah and couture conduct a brazen investigation. Isaacs’ latest Jewish-gal-in-distress adventure purrs along perfectly––sharply funny, all-knowing, and marvelously diverting. –Donna Seaman

When I combine these new reads with those ongoing, I should be very busy this week.  What do you have planned?  And what did you finish?  I hope you’ll come on over and share.

IT’S MONDAY! WHAT ARE YOU READING?

Good morning and welcome to this wonderful meme hosted by Sheila, of Book Journey.

I’m very excited about this past week, as well as the upcoming one.

In the blogging world, I posted an interview on Wednesday with a fascinating paranormal author, Denise Verrico.

Then, today I’ve reviewed a wonderful mystery and posted an interview with the author, Lauren Carr.

Books Read This Week (Click Title for Review):

1)  Beachcombers, by Nancy Thayer

2)  It’s Murder, My Son, by Lauren Carr

3)  Guest House, by Barbara K. Richardson (Review will be up later today)

Books On the List for This Week:

1)  The Position, by Meg Wolitzer

Here’s a titillating tidbit from Amazon:

Wolitzer’s novel of sexual politics and family farce continues in the dark comic vein that she mined in “The Wife.” In the nineteenseventies, at the height of the sexual revolution, a married couple, aptly named Mellow, publish a liberated sex manual that features pictures of themselves and includes a sexual position—”Electric Forgiveness”—that they claim to have invented. The manual becomes an epochal best-seller. The publication, decades later, of a new edition of the notorious classic is a catalyst for a plot that examines the effects of this legacy on the adult children of the Mellows, who are now divorced. These effects are variously hilarious, disabling, painful, embarrassing, and, ultimately, empowering. Wolitzer’s comic timing never wavers, and she has an astute grasp of the way one generation’s liberation inspires the next generation’s pity.

2)  Give Me Your Heart, by Joyce Carol Oates (Short Story Collection)

A blurb from Amazon:

The need for love—obsessive, self-destructive, unpredictable—takes us to forbidden places, as in the chilling world of Give Me Your Heart, a new collection of stories by the inimitable Joyce Carol Oates.

3)  Fly Away Home, by Jennifer Weiner

A snippet:

“Unflappably fun… Hilarious… In Jennifer Weiner’s luscious new novel, Fly Away Home, a political wife’s predicament is the catalyst for a highly entertaining story… The message is choosing to live an authentic life. As always, Weiner gives us a woman who stands taller, curvier, and happier when she does just that.” —USA Today

“This is summer reading at its best: entertaining and full of insight into relationships and how they change” — People (3.5 out of 4 stars)

“Fresh, nuanced… Weiner wryly and sensitively shows the trade-offs we all make to maintain our relationships.” —Parade

I’m very excited about the upcoming week, with these delightful books awaiting me.  And I’ve really enjoyed this past week, too.

Hope you’ll stop by and share your own plans for the week.

THE FRIDAY 56

Hosted by Storytime with Tonya, this meme helps us feature a book close by.

Here’s how it works:

Rules:
* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of this blog.
*Post a link along with your post back to this blog.
* Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

HAPPY FRIDAY!

The book I discovered, right there next to my elbow (almost!), was this one that had recently graduated from the primary TBR shelves to the ones that will be up soon!

I’ve had The Tall Pine Polka, by Lorna Landvik, for more than three years.  I know that I had it at my former home…and I moved three years ago!

She dipped a corner of tissue into her coffee and with it rubbed the jelly off what was to become a sweater cuff.  “Now, do you mind telling me what’s going on?” p. 56.

This one was practically growing wings, hoping to fly out here, and now that it has my attention, who knows?

On the back flap:  In the small town of Tall Pine, Minnesota, at the Cup O’Delight Care, the townsfolk gather for what they call the Tall Pine Polka, an event in which heavenly coffee, good food, and that feeling of being alive among friends inspires  both body and soul to dance...

Later on, we read that when Hollywood rolls into town, friendships are put to the test.

Stop on by, curl up, and share some tidbits of your own!