Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Books o' the Month: When Mystical Creatures Attack! and Big Little Lies

I read two books in one month!  Probably because both of them were so good, they were hard to put down.  First, When Mystical Creatures Attack! by Kathleen Founds.  Don't let the cover (art created by Ms. Founds) fool you.  This is not a light-hearted story.  What it is...is hard to describe.  Quirky?  Dark?  Different?  Yes, yes, and yes.  I can't wait to see what she writes next.

I think I am late to the party with this author.  Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies was so good--I knew when Adrienne told me to basically drop everything and read it, it had to be! I'm so glad I listened to her.  You should, too!  Head over to Some of a Kind for Turn the Page ... Tuesday right away!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Watch This! : Tess x3

After reading the Thomas Hardy classic, I watched three film versions.  It is always so interesting to see what writers and directors pick and choose when adapting a novel--especially a classic.

First was Tess of the d'Urbervilles from 1998, which had the most handsome Angel Clare played by Oliver Milburn.
(above image from barnesandnoble.com)

Second, I watched Tess from 1979, which despite it's age, did not look dated to me at all.  This version had the slickest Alec d'Urberville played by Leigh Lawson.

Third came Tess of the d'Urbervilles from 2008 with the best portrayal of Tess played by Gemma Arterton.

So, that's what I've been up to, besides taxi-ing my kids around, training for a 10K, running endless errands, and WORKING.  I'm now officially a substitute teacher and have one day under my belt.

Which classic should I read/watch next?  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Book o' the Month: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

When my friend Kim said I should read this book, I did not hesitate.  After all, she is the one who recommended Outlander to me.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a novel told in letters and telegrams back and forth between characters (it took me back to my high school reading of The Spoon River Anthology).  This is a delightful read, though it does contain some intense WWII details.  It is a perfect book for back-to-school busyness when you are lucky to find a few minutes to read here and there.

I'd highly recommend it.  In fact, I think Adrienne would really like this book.  Stop by her page next, to get more great recommendations!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Book o' the Month: Tess of the D'Urbervilles

Oh, poor Tess!

I knew beforehand that this classic novel was a tragedy, and reading it was akin to watching a train wreck, but...I still held out hope until the second to last page!

Thomas Hardy wrote this novel in 1892 but, unfortunately, the themes are easily contemporary--particularly, the shame of the violated woman.  Just see this article from Scary Mommy/Club Mid, which I just read this morning.

There is a ton of literary criticism out there about this book.  Whatever Hardy's true feelings and intentions in and apart from the time in which he wrote, I came away from this piece of fiction with a hollow in the pit of my stomach.  I felt the loss of Tess, on many levels.  

The writing is wonderful, the story is intriguing and heart-wrenching.  No wonder it's a classic.

Now I've got two film versions of the book on DVD from the library...

Monday, July 13, 2015

Book o' the Month: The Sea

The Sea, the sea.

For the past few summers, I have read a book with the word "sea" in the title while vacationing by the sea.  Seemed like a fun idea.  But...it has turned out that the three books I have read, have basically been the same story:  middle aged man returns to a place by the sea and contemplates his past.  Two of the books were written by prominent women writers and two won the Booker Prize.  Each has it's merits, wonderful writing, themes and allusions worthy of academic literary review (IMHO).  See my previous posts here and here.

I enjoyed the narrative style of John Banville's novel, my most recent read.  He is a brilliant writer.  And it was a good book to read with the sound of gently crashing waves in the background.

So, nothing personal, Mr. Banville.  But, next summer, I want a change of subject matter!

Dear readers, any suggestions??

Now...take a gander at what Adrienne has to suggest this month on Turn the Page ... Tuesday over at Some of a Kind!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Book o' the Month: Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez is the kind of book you might find on the syllabus for a literature class and end up binge-reading because you just can't put it down.

Florentino Ariza has been in love with Fermina Daza for fifty-one years, nine months, and fours days, when he finally has the opportunity he has waited so long for--to tell her he still loves her.  This novel chronicles the course of both their lives up to that point and beyond.  It is a meditation on heartbreak, marriage, and ageing, among many other themes.  I found myself marking at least six pages where there was a line or passage that seemed to be written about my own life.

Don't expect yourself to love or even particularly like all the characters.  They all have their flaws, but that is where we might find ourselves in the pages of this book.

I very much enjoyed the way the narrative meanders throughout the novel (if not the way Ariza meanders).  It is the second book I have read recently, translated from Spanish, my second language.  There is such an interesting sensibility in the style of storytelling.  I am not sure whether or not it is a feature of the original language or of Latin American authors in general.  I will have to do some more research to find out.  Or go back to college!

Head on over to Turn the Page ... Tuesday at Some of a Kind to add more great books to your summer reading list.

Friday, May 22, 2015

I'm Gonna Miss You

This morning as I watched my son run ahead of me to his first grade classroom, "I'm gonna miss you," popped into my head and tears filled my eyes.  He was smiling and bounding down to hang up his backpack so he could run and get a ball for us to play with.  He likes to get to school early so he and I can kick a bouncy ball back and forth to each other on the field before the bell rings. I never know where that ball is going to go when he kicks it, and I'm not much more accurate.

I feel bad that I'm not very enthusiastic about this morning ritual, and I won't say I'm disappointed when the bell rings and he has to put the ball away and go to class.  But he is.  He would kick that ball back and forth with me all day if he could, and I'm not even kidding.  So I do enjoy it, if a little begrudgingly.

After he has reluctantly put the ball on the rack he gives me big hugs and kisses and I tell him I love him and will see him after school, and he trots off to his classroom door.  Then he turns and waves, and I wave and blow him kisses, and he blows me kisses right back and waves some more and smiles at me with such exuberance.  Then he runs back to me for one more hug even though the late bell just rang, and I burst with joy.

When he finally goes inside, I turn and head back to the car.  The P.E. teacher, who is setting up for her first group says, "That's OK, take it while you can get it," instead of passing judgement on me for not getting him into class right away.

And that's the thing.  He is just going to keep on growing up.  I try to think about all the wonderful things to come, but the fact is, I'm going to miss him the way he is now.

I approach the wing of fifth grade classrooms hoping for a glimpse of my daughter, who pulled away as I tried to kiss her goodbye this morning.  She will be finished with elementary school two weeks from today.  I already miss her.  She is a smart and beautiful girl, and I love her, but I do sometimes (OK, often) wish for the days when she was little and I got a lot less sleep, but also a lot less drama.

Someone told me or I read somewhere (I can't remember stuff anymore--I blame mommy brain), that these are the best days of my life, these days while my kids are young.  And as the years fly by, I think I agree.  Not that I am pessimistic about the future, but I feel my children separating from me, and it hurts.  And entering the middle school years is just plain scary.

So, my work now is to keep up the connection I have with my kids, even when they don't act very affectionate--or are behaving downright rude.  My job is to keep on loving them and to meet them where they are now, even if I miss them the way they were.