Angela is super sorry and she begs for your forgiveness!

November 24, 2014 at 2:27 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

roomiesTitle: Roomies

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.

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Journaling Through 1000 Days in Venice

July 17, 2014 at 9:21 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

1000 days in veniceTitle: A Thousand Days in Venice

Author: Marlena de Blasi

Genre: Travel/ Memoir

Length: 272 pages

“1000 Days in Venice,” I wrote in my journal, “I want Venice without Fernando.  Venice sounds lovely.  Fernando, annoying.”

I suppose I feel this way because I am happily married to a man who is nothing like Fernando.  But my love, or lack thereof, for the man who swept de Blasi off her feet has nothing to do with my enjoyment of the book.  The book is lovely.  And what follows are my journal entries from my reading, quotes that moved me and so on:

To fall in love with a face is ridiculous – at least a face with no personality.  It would be as though I were to declare myself in love with Jamie Campbell Bower off his side profile.  I cannot stand that mentality.  A face can only be so lovely.

“full of tears and crumbs”

“I cry for how life intoxicates.” – pg. 29

In love for the first time?  But she had babies…

She laments that so many people are trying to save her from a man they don’t know.  Then admits repeatedly that she doesn’t know him either.  I want to save her too,  no matter how terribly romantic I find it that she’s sold her house, auctioned belongings off in the airport and arrived to see her fiance whom she has never seen in summer before.

Then again, arranged marriages work – why not a marriage between people who have met a few times and spent a week together?

“Living as a couple never means that each gets half.  You must take turns at giving more than getting.  It’s not the same as bow to the other whether to dine out rather than in, or which one gets massaged that evening with oil of calendula; there are seasons in the life of a couple that function, I think, a little like a night watch.  One stands guard, often for a long time, providing the serenity in which the other can work at something.  Usually that something is sinewy and full of spines.  One goes inside the dark place while the other stays outside, holding up the moon.” – pg. 147

Such a beautiful sentiment.  So much truth to it.  Despite the fact that she married a stranger – even calls him that, stranger – she knows marriage.

Transfer? Why? I don’t want to live another version of this life.  I want to do something totally different, but together.  Perhaps my dislike for Fernando is that he reminds me of myself.  In this moment, I love him, he lives what I want.

I give lots of memoirs away once I’m done reading them.  But this one is a keeper – there are recipes.  Besides the recipes, it is beautiful.  I will probably read it again one day.

 

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“This was wickedness, and it was fatal.”

June 29, 2014 at 10:47 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , )

A-Reliable-Wife“It was everywhere. Arsenic.  Inheritance powder, the old people called it.”

Title: A Reliable Wife

Author: Robert Goolrick

Publisher: Algonquin Paperbacks

Genre: Fiction

Length: 291 pages

Like so many others, A Reliable Wife was a freebie I acquired somehow.  A number one New York Times Bestseller that seemed to be everywhere at once, yet I didn’t know anyone who had actually read it.

When I was cleaning out my personal library to take donations to the public one, my hand was on it.  It almost ended up in the bag.  Something stopped me, I’m not sure what.  Most likely a hoarder’s impulse.  The copy was too pristine.  The train on the cover too gloriously mysterious.  Historical fiction written by a man, not a woman, which for some reason tends to make all the difference.

Maybe it was because of my post about my selection practices and my thoughts as to what titles concerning prostitution would be at my daughter’s fingertips.  The book is highly inappropriate, but it gives a thorough view of what turns people to bad decisions.  What makes someone become a person with poisonous intentions and morals.

How easily anyone could slip into this awfulness.

“Yet it was a dream he had held in his heart for so long that nothing could replace it, nothing made up for his loss and his desire for restitution.”

Who hasn’t suffered from the same sort of persistence chasing an idea that maybe should have been abandoned?

“This was wickedness, and it was fatal,” is the theme that runs through Goolrick’s riveting novel.  Maybe it’s the Baptist fire and brimstone in my veins that makes a story like this appeal to me, because I don’t mind wickedness when it is properly portrayed as something evil.  It’s when wickedness is disguised as something desirable that I have a problem with it in novels.

Goolrick’s novel is amazing.  I couldn’t put it down and I was so glad I chose to read it instead of placing it my library donation bag this week.  My husband, not much of a reader, now wants to know the story and read the book as well – suckered by the blurb on the back jacket as I was nose deep in the pages.  I’ve already encouraged a friend to purchase it as well.  She quickly found a copy in clearance at Half Price Books, well worth a spare dollar.

 

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Finally, Part Three

February 13, 2014 at 6:55 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Committed

Yep, still talking about this.

I finished Committed last night just before bed.  I let it settle in my mind.  I avoided circular obsessive thoughts about it – circular, obsessive thoughts are usually how I handle most things from something someone said that day to mortgage payments to the last few sentences of whatever book I have just read (thank you, Codependent No More).

Amazing how I was able to sleep when I took some deep breaths and let it go.  I’ll think about it tomorrow.  I never tell myself I’ll think about it tomorrow.  I always just think about it until tomorrow.  This typically evolves into some kind of extreme emotion by morning – what Gilbert quotes the Gottman’s as calling “flooding.”

That being said, I don’t have any stunning perspective or revelation now that I have finished the book.  I merely have some quotes that struck me as notable.  So notable that I didn’t just underline them in the book like a maniac, I actually copied them down into my journal.

“My mother herself had probably given up long ago trying to draw tidy ultimate conclusions about her own existence, having abandoned (as so many of us must do, after a certain age) the luxuriously innocent fantasy that one is entitled to have unmixed feelings about one’s own life.” – pg. 201, Committed

Me of excessive and obsessive thought who feels passionately one way or another on almost EVERY topic found this relieving.  Lately, I have felt passionately about opposing thoughts – as in I feel BOTH sides passionately and have felt that this means there is something wrong with me.  Apparently what I have seen as the ultimate sin – a conflict of beliefs and ideas and feelings – are just the growing pains of adulthood.

“If there is one indignity I shall never endure gracefully, it is watching people mess around with my most cherished personal narratives about them.” – pg. 206, Committed

Yes! This enrages me! And that is ridiculous.  Gilbert may profess to never endure it gracefully, but that is definitely an aspect of my character I want to learn to change.  It was roughly around this point of my reading that Annie Lennox started singing “Fool on the Hill” with Paul McCartney in the front row of the audience on TV and I decided that there will be sins I can’t kick, feelings I can’t change, that I will take to my grave.  But enduring other people being themselves, even if it is not how I view them, gracefully is something I would like to be able to do sometime.  The thoughts and the song and Annie Lennox may be unrelated, but forever in my mind they will be synonymously seared into my brain… don’t be a fool, summon your grace.

There was also a bit about porcupines that intrigued me.  It’s a blurb Gilbert writes about another author’s work, Deborah Luepnitz’s Schopenhauer’s Porcupines:

“[…] Arthur Schopenhauer told about the essential dilemma of modern human intimacy.  Schopenhauer believed that humans, in their love relationships, were like porcupines out on a cold winter night.  In order to keep from freezing, the animals huddle close together.  But as soon as they are near enough to provide critical warmth, they get poked by each other’s quills.  Reflexively, to stop the pain and irritation of too much closeness, the porcupines separate.  But once they separate, they become cold again. The chill sends them back toward each other once more, only to be impaled all over again by each other’s quills.  So they retreat again.  And then approach again.  Endlessly.  ‘And the cycle repeats,’ Deborah wrote, ‘as they struggle to find a comfortable distance between entanglement and freezing.’ ” – pg. 223, Committed

I read that and immediately thought of heroine and addiction.  No, I’m not a heroine addict.  But I’ve seen them in action.  And if I’m to be honest I have a tendency to feel like one in regards to the people I care about the most – all of whom I can count on fewer fingers than I have on one hand.

Gilbert’s book is lovely.  I’m sorry I sharked her memoir and made it all about me.  I hope if she ever stumbles across this blog, she will take it with a grain of salt and not see me as a pirate of some kind.  I recommend reading this book, regardless of what you thought about the more famous Eat, Pray, Love.

If I’m to get one over all message from ALL of my reading this weekend/ week, it is this:

be gentle

I really needed to get this message.

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Things I Learned in a Weekend…

February 12, 2014 at 9:39 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

… But will take longer to undo.

CommittedThis is a Part Two post to my review of Committed as well as a response to Codependent No More.

Saying “I am not in control of that” is not the same as being helpless.

Counting is not productive.

Trying harder sometimes doesn’t offer results, but rather drives you a little nuts.

 

codependent_no_moreI am allowed to have contradicting feelings as long as I am honest about both and do not bury the less favorable/ moral one.  A feeling is not a decision.  But bottling feelings and under-reacting to things that hurt your feelings can turn into a very foolish and very public behavioral issue similar to a train wreck or a volcano that kills an entire village.

“What am I to conclude when my grandmother says that the happiest decision of her life was giving up everything for her husband and children but then says – in the very next breath – that she doesn’t want me making the same choice? I’m not really sure how to reconcile this, except to believe that somehow both these statements are true and authentic, even as they seem to utterly contradict on another. I believe that a woman who has lived as long as my grandmother should be allowed some contradictions and mysteries. Like most of us, this woman contains multitudes. Besides, when it comes to the subject of women and marriage, easy conclusions are difficult to come by, and enigmas litter the road in every direction.” – from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed.

I can’t control other peoples’ thoughts and feelings.  Nor, if I’m to be honest do I want to.  What I decide for them takes away from me making healthy decisions for myself.

Other people making a decision I do not like is not a slight on me as a human.  I am still in tact.  I can say my piece in peace without expecting them to bend to my will.  In fact, I want to enjoy the freedom of talking out my feelings knowing that it does not change the outcome of life.  My words won’t make or break the world and the people in it.  I am not that powerful.  I don’t want to be that powerful.  I want other people to feel comfortable making their decisions based on what they need.  Would I like for them to consider my feelings when they choose to follow that decision? Yes.  Do I want my feelings to be the basis of their decision? No.  God, no.

What I want and what I need are allowed to be out of sync sometimes, as long as I take time to process my wants and needs in a calm manner without panic – without drama – and without superfluous descriptions.  As a writer I am apt to take a small situation and find the epic, extraordinary, or devastation in it.  As a survivor I take big things that may actually be epic, extraordinary, or devastating, and belittle them – act as though they are nothing.  (Someone dies, I roll with the punches.  Someone says something irritating, I come out swinging.  It doesn’t make sense.  It has been a long running joke among many of my friends that I’m the girl you need at a funeral.  I’m the girl you need in a physical crisis, on the battlefield even.  Put me in a room of people having a good time, and suddenly I’m twitchy.)

These are things I used to know, and for various reasons, I have lost sight of.  These are things that I need to remind myself daily, if not hourly.

So my newest truth above all – there is no shame in reading self-help books and memoirs by people who have a very different world view from yourself.  There is no shame in believing that, “this woman should not be condemned or judged for wanting what she wants.”  In fact that’s a very beautiful belief.

Finding balance is the hard part.  When does what you want step on what someone else wants and needs?  When does what you want need to be suppressed and when does it warrant being spoken?  My understanding of this balance is erratic at best.

Making a very open attempt to find this balance has been interesting too (I say this as though I’m well seasoned at the effort that I’ve been making for a whole of four days).  I am diving into all this for myself.  Go back a few blog posts and you may notice my sanity attempting to escape me.  Yet, it hasn’t just begun to calm me, it’s helped me stop and smell the roses.

Roses that, though not real physical red petals and thorny stems, are more present than I supposed.

Roses like: I actually get more done when I am busy acting instead of busy reacting.  Roses like: when I attempt to be as direct as I once was my husband attempts to woo me like he once did.  This is nice.  I’ll take that rose.  Yet, I am not being direct so that he will woo me, I am being direct because I need to be, the wooing is just a happy accident.  And, for once, wanting to be wooed doesn’t sound like an act of selfishness – it sounds like an act of being feminine.  Yes, I’ll admit that typing those words were difficult, that in that admission I nearly panicked.

I don’t have all the answers.  In fact, I have pretty much no answers.  The only answer that I do have is that I hope to be less self-destructive this year than last year.  I hope to be more open, but less vulnerable.

This year, I plan to internalize something that’s been hanging in my own Grandmother’s kitchen my whole life…

God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can
And wisdom to know the difference.

Be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet.  And, I’m not done reading this book!

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Committed – Part One

February 12, 2014 at 2:30 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

CommittedTitle: Committed

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.

We don’t.

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.

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Love is a Choice

September 24, 2013 at 2:04 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

lovechoiceTitle: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.

Photograph by Michael Palmer

Photograph by Michael Palmer

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