Author: Peter Devine
My first Peter Devine book was True to the Code, a series of short stories that were as much historically educational as philosophically motivating. As much as I enjoyed my first taste of Devine’s prose, Havana Treatment was infinitely more riveting.
Peter Devine has an uncanny ability to put you in the middle of a character’s big moment only to take you right back out again. Each short story in Havana Treatment introduces you to a whole person in a just a few moments or hours, leaving you with a solid understanding of who they are, but wanting more of the story. Described as an exploration of the shelf life of a romance, Havana Treatment doesn’t disappoint, and each story is as compelling and oxymoronically uniquely typical as the next.
The human race is completely infatuated with the idea of love, and after spending time with Devine’s characters, it is easy to see why. A moment with someone can become a lifetime of dedication. A person’s soul can be boiled down to one momentous story that could have seemed so unimportant at the time, but because the encounter was so genuine it shapes someone forever.
Devine has such a strong grasp on these realities. His experience and all the people he has met in his life shape the wisdom in his tales; but in all his travels and worldliness, Devine still captures Americana and our ideas of romance like no other.
It may sound ridiculous, but one of my favorite love stories of film is in The Fast and the Furious franchise. And it’s not pretty boy Paul Walker’s character Brian O’Connor and his little family-style romance with Mia. They actually annoy me a little. It’s Dom and Letty (Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez) that make me swoon.
And that’s the hottest thing, isn’t it? Being known and still being loved so completely.
Want a panty dropper, date scene at the movies? Leap out of a speeding car on a bridge into the abyss of open air to catch your love as she hurdles to her death – not knowing that either of you will be saved – just knowing you have to catch her. Oh yeah, and she doesn’t remember you, and she shot you in the shoulder earlier, but… you know her, and you love her, and you have a history…
Screw flowers and diamonds, Dom has grand romantic gestures on lock down.
Noooo, I’m not an adrenaline junkie. Not. At. All.
“How did you know that there would be a car there to break our fall?”
“I didn’t. Some things you just have to take on faith.”
Maybe that’s my problem. I swoon over movies like Fast 6. Literally, I swoon. Cars, racing, fight sequences, love that survives gun shot wounds and absences. Sheer will power and stubbornness. This is what romances me. These are the things that speak to my heart.
And yes, I’d let go and fall to my death just to take a shot at the douche bag trying to sneak up on my lover. And for that, I find Han and Gisele utterly romantic as well. What can I say? I’m a sucker.
Other favorites in movie history:
UP: The old man and Ellie. The first 15 minutes of that movie make me bawl like a baby. I love it. I’m living it. A romance born of childhood dreams and companionship.
Persuasion: Based on Jane Austen’s book. Another story of will power and waiting. Add to that Emma and you have the friendship and affection I sought out when I started dating my husband.
Tonight You’re Mine: This is probably one of the rare love stories I am into where the characters have not known each other half their lives. It’s epically reminiscent of my college years, minus being handcuffed to a super star, mind you. But the movie feels as much like home as 1327 does when I see it on screen.
I’m not a speed demon criminal by a long shot, but Dom and I have very similar values. The ultimate romance is always one with your best friend and playmate. Just like Dom and Letty, who met at 15. Things like Titanic – that whole whirlwind of meeting that day and then feigning passionate love forever – never quite do it for it. It rings false every time. I remember seeing Titanic for the first time in the theatres and thinking, “She went on and had babies with someone else, why is she pretending he was the love of her life? He’s just someone she screwed on a boat. What a slut.”
Tonight You’re Mine is the only whirlwind I can get behind… mostly because it was very Pride & Prejudice in nature, there was bickering before companionship, there was an established bond before love. That and there’s the mad rush of music.
My husband thinks I’m a little ridiculous. But if I had amnesia, I’d want there to be someone to fight for me. Someone to tell me where my scars came from. Someone to let me know it’s ok to be me, and that the me I was before was someone worth loving. And if there’s fast cars, a nostalgic house, stubborn wills, and music… all the better.
“I think this is where I belong – among all your other lost things.” – Lang Leav
The tree branches are even still. No rustling.
The kind of night that leaves you staring at the sky, eyes peering through the cool fog in a way a camera lens can never quite capture.
So I retired indoors to read Lang Leav poems, proud of being mature enough for her to not be spoiled by the memory of the one who introduced us. Happy that no one can take the written word from me, no matter how awful they are.
Because I truly adore Lang Leav. She is my favorite currently writing poet, along with her partner Michael Faudet.
Then came Lullabies and Michael Faudet’s Dirty Pretty Things.
My other favorites, if you follow my blog, you know: A.E. Housman, Edna St. Vincent Millay…
Clearly, I enjoy the hint of melancholy mixed with nostalgia.
I like the presence of mind to live in the past, the present, and the future all in one moment. To acknowledge that your experiences have made you and your hopes are what you live for… and right now, this breath, simultaneously deserves all your attention. It’s a beautiful conundrum, balancing it all.
Author: Lindy Zart
Genre: Contemporary Romance (Clean)
Format: Kindle Ebook
I downloaded this ebook because I, too, have a story I’ve written about roommates. Mine is incomplete, along a similar vein, but very different. I was curious. Also, there was a reviewer (Angela) who hadn’t participated in a blog tour (I think) the way they were supposed to and remembered at the last minute. This blogger begged the internet to go apologize on Lindy Zart’s facebook page, I found that endearing and hilarious. I know what it’s like to fill your plate with piles of review copies and promises and then find yourself in a serious time crunch. And we do all this because we love you guys, indie authors and publishers, and I am one of you guys, and the goal is to offer as much support as possible, but sometimes we get a little overzealous in our passions. Then all the passions throw a temper tantrum, stomp their feet, and throw a calender at your head. Figuratively, of course. Really we just sit their dumbfounded and think, “Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap. Crap.”
Rather than wait to see if I won a giveaway, I took a $3 chance on an ebook of an unknown author. I highly recommend taking those chances as often as it moves you.
Zart’s romance is written much like the style of John Green’s A Fault in Our Stars, but reminded me more of Caprice Crane. Honestly, it’s got that snarky sarcasm. It’s also sweet and sappy in all the right places, along with a little real world mixed in with the overly sentimental. It’s funny. It would make a blockbuster hit, if it were filmed just right – I’d hold back a little on some of the soliloquies, but who am I to talk – I love a good soliloquy.
I read half the book, took a nap and walked the dogs, then read the other half. It was nice. It’s an easy breezy comedy and I found myself chuckling often at the narrator. All the characters are appropriately dense about their feelings and that of others, while sharply noticing things about the people just outside their inner circle… isn’t that how it always is in real life?
If you’re a parent that doesn’t mind innuendos and cursing, I’d recommend it to older teenagers. The story itself is cleanly written and everything remains in innuendo and summary – no quivering members or moist anythings – thank goodness.
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Genre: Non-fiction of some kind. In a bookstore it would go in the memoir section, I’m sure – but it’s so much more than that.
I’m aware that when one decides to follow a book reviewing blog, they don’t expect the posts to start turning into self-aware sob stories. However, I cannot fully digest a book without it becoming part of me and my psyche and putting a little bit of pressure on my world view and myself.
When I read Eat, Pray, Love a few years ago, you may or may not remember my indignation. I was so irritated. This woman was so flippant! How dare she walk out on her marriage and go gallivanting and call that spiritual growth! I loved Gilbert’s writing style, I loved her way with words, but all I could think was, “What a selfish whore.”
That was unfair. I see that.
I’m reading Committed now. A friend had told me Gilbert would redeem herself in my eyes in this book. I was skeptical. How could I ever see eye to eye with this woman?
But that’s the thing. I don’t see eye to eye with her. But now, I’m ok with that. Not because of this book, though, I’m sure that helps; but because of me. I’ve come to realize some things about myself in the very short time that it has been 2014.
I have a very intense moral code. So intense, it is probably filled with much higher expectations for life than is humanly obtainable. Stepping outside of this moral code in the past has left me trembling. It terrifies me, because, simply:
I fall short. It is impossible to live up to it.
I expect others to live up to it. If we all strive to live up to it then maybe we can have a chance in hell of making it.
I see this now.
Yes, that makes me a hypocrite, I suppose. Often.
Yes, that means that deep down I hate myself for not being able to live up to my beliefs. Even saying this is in contradiction with my beliefs… I believe the whole bible to be true and even the bible says that we all fall short of the glory of God. I believe in being a strong, independent, secure human. Both of those things are in contradiction with me hating myself for falling short.
You see, it’s not just me being unforgiving of others. I am completely unforgiving with myself too. Especially when what I perceive as truth, and what I believe is right, is the polar opposite of what I want.
I was taught that my wants were frivolous nuisances to be disregarded. Bury them. Pretend they’re not there. Doing what you *should* do is far more important than doing what you want. Wants are things that destroy people, families, cities, empires. Look at history – use your brain. Don’t feel, use logic.
Somewhere in that teaching, there’s a logical fallacy. Like Gilbert’s ice cream purchases correlating with drownings example – which made me laugh out loud. (Statistically where there are higher ice cream purchases, there are more drownings. Obviously, this does not mean that buying ice cream will increase your chance of drowning yourself, that would be a logical fallacy – yet, that’s exactly the kind of logic that has been ingrained in me.)
Now, 10 days away from 30, I feel a strong urge to fix this problem.
This is not something that can be fixed in 10 days.
Shockingly, despite my looming 10 day notice, I find myself a little at peace while reading Elizabeth Gilbert – author whose views I have previously found revolting – has spent page after page talking about forgiveness.
Things I have always been really cranky about – HOW does someone behave THAT way – she spells out. Instead of just saying, “It happens,” she takes great descriptive pains that only an eloquent writer could take to tell me how. To explain. Pages 108-110 left me in tears. Finally, I see why people have been so angered by my judgement. Finally, I see why I have no right to judge.
I was wrong. I’m sorry.
I’m not sure how this will effect my future decisions. But at least I can start to not hate myself, whatever they might be. Yay for mid-life crisis number two (and I’m not even mid-life yet, am I?).
I’m not finished reading yet, but I’m sure I will be soon. I have so much to say and think about this book and there will be a second post on it in the future.
Title: The Lacuna
Author: Barbara Kingsolver
An empty space or a missing part; a gap.
A cavity, space, or depression, (Biology) in a bone, containing cartilage or bone cells.
- (Printing, Lithography & Bookbinding) a gap or space, esp in a book or manuscript
- (Architecture) another name for coffer; an ornamental sunken panel in a ceiling or dome
- sheet that forms a distinct (usually flat and rectangular) section or component of something
Origin: L, a ditch, hole, pool from lacus: see lake
Barbara Kingsolver’s work embodies and embraces nearly all these definitions in some way or another. It’s really quite brilliant, although not nearly as riveting as the concept itself.
Whereas The Poisonwood Bible was completely riveting, but I was far less intrigued by the concept. Funny how that happens. I love Kingsolver, I think she’s a genius. She has managed two completely different reading experiences in one career and I only hope that I could accomplish that one day. With Poisonwood Bible, I was captivated by the place, the drama, her ability to tell a story from five completely distinct voices. I could not stop reading, could not wait to get back to the story.
The Lacuna put me to sleep. Honestly. But it’s not a terrible book. To be fair, I was tired – really tired – this week. When I read books like this, I often think of that quote at the end of Fight Club, “You met me at a very strange time in my life,” I want to tell the book. A time when everything simultaneously puts me to sleep and keeps me awake at night. On top of that, I was totally distracted by the concept. I would start reading and instead of getting lost in the story I’d get lost in my thoughts about the story. I’d soak in every nuance of the word lacuna and sit and pick apart every aspect of how that word is tied to MY story – MY life.
“What do you know about love?”
“Nothing, apparently. That it winks on and off like an electric bulb.”
– pg. 184
Those lines hit me pretty hard. There’s the honest truth of so much about the world right there. At least for me, I see it so truthfully. Love is like a light bulb to me – a choice – you click it on and click it off. You decide to love someone in a moment, or not. I’ve talked about this endlessly in other posts, I’m sure. I think it fascinates me so completely because how I feel and think about love is so unaligned with how those around me feel and think about it. While contemplating this word and this story and this quote I remember noting a conversation with someone I had a little over ten years ago. He had not had a romantic feeling about a girl all day and considered this a triumph. It baffled me, as I had not had a romantic feeling about a person in possibly a month or more. When romantic feelings came to me they always overwhelmed me in their suddenness, the complete surprise of it throws me all the time, because I don’t have them often. I’m not saying romantic thoughts – I love my husband, have loved him for 15 years – but the *feelings* (not the butterflies or the goosebumps as related to physical feelings, but the emotional ones) I don’t have much. Explaining this is difficult and often leaves me faced with strange looks. I consider myself a passionate person who loves deeply and loyally, but have often been told how cold and void of compassion I can be. I understand both descriptions of my personality because when I do feel, it is a strong sense of emptiness. I feel a deep hole in my soul – like a lacuna.
Kingsolver has a way with moving you to re-evaluate your entire existence in one sentence over and over again in a book – in a way that writers strive to do just once in their lives. If I write one excellent sentence that moves someone, I will have considered myself accomplished. So here is another favorite from the beautifully quotable Kingsolver:
“This is what is means to be alone: everyone is connected to everyone else, their bodies are a bright liquid life flowing around you, sharing a single heart that drives them to move altogether. If the shark comes they will all escape, and leave you to be eaten.” – pg. 185
I kept saying the word lacuna over and over in my head. Lacuna, lacuna, lacuna… over and over I let it slip seductively off my mental tongue – while I read, while I did house work, while I slept. I dreamed about it. Not the story, not the setting, but the word. I dreamed about the idea.
“[Y]ou can’t really know the person standing before you, because always there is some missing piece: the birthday like an invisible pinata hanging great and silent over his head, as he stands in his slippers boiling the water for coffee. The scarred, shrunken leg hidden under a green silk dress. A wife and son back in France. Something you never knew. That is the heart of the story.” – pg. 325
I’m a little bit in love with the word, and yes, with the feeling of the word. Thank you Barbara Kingsolver for defining this word oh so eloquently in 507 pages.
Title:Love Is A Choice
Authors: Dr. Robert Hemfelt, Dr. Frank Minirth, Dr. Paul Meier
Publisher: Thomas Nelson Publishing
Genre: Psychology/ Self-Help/ Christian Living
Length: 275 pages
Back in college I read Happiness Is A Choice with a few girls I knew. We went to a Baptist school, but clearly weren’t behaving like the other little Christian girls we knew, so of course we devoured a book that seemingly addressed all that was wrong with us and how to fix it God’s way. Mostly, it just made us feel better.
Naturally, I spotted this in a giant giveaway pile, knew it was by the same authors, and impulsively picked it up. Approximately 3 years later (now), I got around to reading it.
It did not make me feel better.
At least not at first anyway.
Reading Love Is A Choice from a parental perspective can be daunting and, to say the least, overwhelming. The first half of the book had me completely convinced that everyone on the planet has been abused in some form or another… active abuse, passive abuse, this abuse, that abuse. Unless you’re Jesus, NO ONE IS SAFE. I am not Jesus, so essentially, all I determined was that my kid was going to grow up to have issues. NO MATTER WHAT I DID. For that, I kind of hated it.
However, because all these very human issues and mistakes run rampant in the world – because we are human – it ends up being a good read. Handy. Fair warning, so to speak. Be careful of this, be careful of that, be warned that these kinds of actions effect your children this way or that way into adulthood. And above all, put God first.
I can get on board with that.
Just remember when looking at this cover and judging whether or not you think this applies to you, codependency probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. I know I was fooled. Essentially the core sort of means the same as what I thought, but all the nuances are different. If you’ve read my blog for long, you know I love a few good nuances!
Anyway, it took up the better part of a week after my kiddo was asleep… when I wasn’t reading a Thomas Jefferson biography or going over homeschooling stuff… and I don’t feel like my time was wasted. Self-help isn’t typically a genre I care much about, so that means if I mostly like it then it’s probably pretty stellar. Check it out.
Below is a picture of me and my kid, who along with my husband, I choose to love every day – the best I can. P.S. The first week of October is Banned Books Awareness Week. BE AWARE! Read a ‘banned book.’ As far as I know, Love is a Choice isn’t banned anywhere and this statement has nothing to do with the review, just my t-shirt.
It looks something like this:
Matt & Nicole, Incandescently Happy
2. Catching Fire
Author: Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games movie came out on Netflix and my husband really wanted to watch it. But I have a rule in my house about watching movies before I read the books, which goes like this: I don’t. I did want to see the movie, but I feared the series a little bit. I didn’t want to read something out of obligation to curiosity and book pop culture and then feel let down like I had with Twilight.
I enjoyed Twilight, but I felt as though I had killed off more than a few brain cells by suffering through the commitment of all four books… but Twilight was a paranormal romance adventure… The Hunger Games is a dystopian society… there, there it is again “dystopian society” that little phrase that sucks me in every time!
So this week began project Hunger Games. I wanted to at least get through a chunk of the first book before movie date night, and I did get through a bit, but I did not have the book completed when I watched the movie. I tell you what though, I went through the movie and all three books in three days and I’m blown away. It was pretty awesome considering what I was expecting. The series is more comparable to Harry Potter than Twilight, in my opinion.
When I finished Mockingjay, I closed the book with a shake and had to go take a shower to wash the invisible grime off my skin and bask in the happiness of the epilogue. It was perfect.
A lot of people say the third book wasn’t good. I admit I was thoroughly disheartened about halfway through, and the emotional disconnect of some of the primary characters lasted way too long. But it was appropriate. It made the end that much sweeter.
On to the highlight of the purpose of my post:
Love triangles in young adult novels are pretty much a staple plot line. Everyone has them. They are always melodramatic, fitting considering the angst of being a teenager. But Collins wrote a tip of an iceberg beauty that I will actually be proud to share with my daughter.
Love is presented very clearly as a choice. In a world that is completely out of Katniss Everdeen’s control, in times when her family’s safety is based on how she behaves towards others, in a time when the choices don’t seem to be hers at all but a manipulation tactic from the authorities in her life… who she loves and how she loves them is still her choice.
I’m so exhausted of whirlwind romances in young adult novels that are out of the teen’s control. They fell in love… they were destined… they were fated…. blah, blah, blah.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, I do. I believe that God has a plan, I do. But I also believe that loving others and how we show them that is a choice every step of the way. What I like about Collins’ book is the importance one simple choice leads to another choice to another and another and steam rolls into larger choices. The whole book is about the importance of weighing consequences, realities, and feelings within the scales of logic, need, and want. Sure, events out of the characters’ control changes circumstances, but given new circumstances what is the new ‘right’ choice.
I love it.
If you haven’t read the books, I tried to write this in such a way so I would not overwhelm you with blatant spoilers. I hope you understand my meaning without clear cut examples. Maybe when the dust settles I’ll write a spoiler alert review.