Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A little quiz...

Okay, this is an interactive post.  Sally over at Queenie & the Dew posted this great reader's quiz and challenged others to answer the questions and post them.  The questions and my answers are below.  I would love for you to answer any/all of the questions in a post and provide a link in the comments.  (Or, you can just answer in the comments if you don't want to post it.)  I always find it interesting what others are reading/have read/want to read/loved/hated... 

Don't be shy.  Jump right in.  Nobody's "grading" these answers.  Everyone gets at "A+" for effort. 

The "Quiz":

1.  What are you reading right now?
I just started Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

2.  Do you have any idea what you’ll read when you’re done with that?
Either An Echo In The Darkness by Francine Rivers or The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon.

3.  What five books have you always wanted to read but haven’t got round to?
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Sophie's Choice by William Styron

4.  What magazines do you have in your bathroom/lounge right now?
Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, Shape, Ladies Home Journal, All You

5.  What’s the worst thing you have ever read?
That's a tough one.  I don't read a lot of things that aren't reviewed well on Amazon.  But, I recently read Dear John by Nicholas Sparks and thought it was pretty terrible.
 
6.  What book seems really popular but you actually hated?
Well, see # 5.  I also really disliked Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  I thought it was gross and horrible most of the book.  I wanted all the characters to die horrible deaths.  :)  It seems that I'm in the minority since it is critically acclaimed and receives great reader reviews.
 
7.  What’s the one book you always recommend to just about everyone?
Can I have two?  I guess so since it's my blog.  :)

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
East of Eden by John Steinbeck

8.  What are your favourite poetry books?
The Poetry of Robert Frost:  The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged
Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up by Shel Silverstein

9.  Admit it, the librarians at your library know you on a first name basis, don’t they?
Not a chance.  I don't love the library.  I LOVE book stores.  I don't want to "borrow" a book that other people have already smudged.  I know...I'm a book snob.  I like to be the first to read a book and that's tough at the library.  I also keep a book forever if I love it.  The library has really picky rules about that.

10.  Do you read books while you eat? While you bathe? While you watch movies or TV? While you listen to music? While you’re on the computer?
Yes to all of the above and, sometimes, at red lights.  :)

11.  When you were little, did you have any particular reading habits?
My Mom would make me go outside to play.  I would take a book and read under a big tree inside a Honeysuckle bush.  Ahhh... the smell.  I still love the scent of Honeysuckle.

12.  What’s the last thing you stayed up half the night reading because it was so good you couldn’t put it down?
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

13.  Have you ever “faked” reading a book?
In 9th grade, I "faked" reading Wuthering Heights.  In college, I went back and actually read it.  I loved it.

14.  Have you ever bought a book just because you liked the cover?
I loved the paperback cover of Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.
It was also fabulous on the inside. 

15.  What was your favourite book when you were a child?
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.  My 5th grade Language Arts teacher read it to us every Friday.  She never got through it without crying.  Neither have I.
I also loved the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden series, Where the Red Fern Grows, and A Wrinkle in Time

16.  What book changed your life?
Simplest question on the quiz:  The Bible.

17.  What is your favourite passage from a book?
Such a hard question, but I found this passage from The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver to be particularly poignant and memorable. 

"A first child is your own best foot forward, and how you do cheer those little feet as they strike out. You examine every turn of flesh for precocity, and crow it to the world. But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after--oh, that' s love by a different name."

18.  What are your top five favourite authors?
John Steinbeck
Jane Austen
Suzanne Collins
Francine Rivers
Khaled Hosseini

19.  What book has no one heard about but should read?
The Far Pavillions by M.M. Kaye

20.  What books are you an “evangelist” for?
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

21.  What is your favourite book by a first-time author?
The Help by Kathryn Stockett

22.  What is your favourite classic book?
Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen

The End.

Now I'm ready to see your answers.  Please send the link to the quiz to your friends and family to take, too.  The more the merrier.

Renee

Monday, July 12, 2010

100 Word Review: Hearts Awakening

My last two reads were a little heavy, so I was hoping for something easy and light this go around.  I won Hearts Awakening from a blog giveaway, so what's lighter than a free book?  This is my first Delia Parr book, but probably not my last.  Here's my 100 word review...

100 Word Review:  Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr

A spinster with exceedingly plain looks and nowhere to go.

A handsome widower with two young sons, a broken heart and spirit, and apple orchards needing his full attention.

An insulting proposition...only a business deal...nothing more...

A challenging cookstove...blistered hands and burned bread...

Gossip...Scandal...Secrets...Storms...

Yearning...Faith...Prayer...

Misunderstandings...Assumptions...Hurtful words...Unbridled anger...

Carved initials in a family apple tree...

"Poor Thing"...Griddle Cakes...Apple Fritters...

River Stones...a Sunday House...

A second chance with a lost love?

Inward beauty always shines through.

A quick read that is a somewhat predictable, but sweet story.



(100)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

100 Word Review: The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven



(I have decided to try something new. As I finish reading a book, I'm going to review it here in 100 words...exactly. I don't like to read long, drawn-out, spoiler, book reviews, so you won't find that here. I should hopefully be able to persuade you to read, or not read, a book in 100 words. I have found book reviews to be a lot like politics: both sides are right and wrong...and wordy. Those who like a book are right, except to those who disliked it. Those who dislike a book are right, except to those who liked it. So, whether I like a book or not, 100 words is all you get. And, I promise not to give away too much of the story. Here we go... )


The Lone Ranger And Tonto Fistfight In Heaven by Sherman Alexie

Twenty-four interlinked stories that take place in and around the Spokane Indian Reservation.


If you've seen the movie Smoke Signals, you'll recognize many characters.


The Introduction is a must-read (hilarious). 


Brutally honest.

Rough, but often sweet.


Funny at times.  Profoundly sad in between.


Alcohol...Anger...Basketball...BIA...
Crazy Horse...Despair...Diet Pepsi...
Dogs...Dreams...Drugs...Drunkenness...Fireworks...
Fry Bread...Hopelessness...Humiliation...Laughter...
Racism...Tradition

Dark.

A LOT of bad language (too much for me). 
Disruptive to the stories, in my opinion.

Favorite story: Indian Education

I wanted to like this book.  I tried.  I couldn't.

Maybe you will.

(100)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

100 Word Review: Cutting For Stone

I have decided to try something new.  As I finish reading a book, I'm going to review it here in 100 words...exactly.  I don't like to read long, drawn-out, spoiler, book reviews, so you won't find that here.  I should hopefully be able to persuade you to read, or not read, a book in 100 words.  I have found book reviews to be a lot like politics:  both sides are right and wrong...and wordy.  Those who like a book are right, except to those who disliked it.  Those who dislike a book are right, except to those who liked it.  So, whether I like a book or not, 100 words is all you get.  And, I promise not to give away too much of the story.  Here we go...      

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

This book has all the elements of a GREAT story:  
forbidden love, death, consequences, journey, luck, secrets, betrayal, fate, forgiveness.

A nun...a nine-fingered surgeon...
a terrifying flight...
a yearly contract...
twin boys...a girl...revolution...
a motorcycle...disease...
America... 

Entertaining. Engrossing. Endearing.
Educational. Exceptional. Epic.

Dr. Abhi Ghosh has been added to my list of fictional characters I'd most like to meet.

Made me want to try Ethiopian cuisine...in Addis Ababa.

Made me appreciate the sacrifices a surgeon makes to be a surgeon.

Skillfully written.  Technically brilliant. 

Imaginative.  
Beautiful. 
Unforgettable.

Do yourself a service...read this book.

(100)
   



Saturday, July 3, 2010

Seventeen...


Seventeen years ago today, my dear hubby and I got married.  It wasn't the wedding of my dreams because I hadn't really dreamed that much about a wedding.  Weddings were pretty much carbon copies of each other, at least the 42,000 I'd been to (I was a sorority girl...lots of weddings).  It wasn't like it is now with dozens of wedding shows and thousands of wedding websites.  We didn't know you could personalize a wedding the way brides do now.  We just went with the "wedding rules" of the early 1990s:  pick a date, get a church, get a preacher, buy a dress, order bridesmaid's dresses that match, order a formal wedding cake and a chocolate groom's cake, order formal invitations, pick out formal wedding music (which must include Pachelbel's Canon in D).  What about flowers?  Gifts for the groomsmen?  The guest list?  Ugh.  It was stressful.  I knew pretty quickly, without a doubt, that I NEVER wanted to be a wedding planner.   

Did I mention we were absolutely broke?  I mean just about penniless.  I was making $13,500 a year and DH was in school and waiting tables.  Did you know that weddings are expensive?  Even in 1993, weddings were expensive (although not even in the ballpark of some weddings today).  Do you know how much flowers cost?  Insane!!!  We ended up using silk flowers, which wasn't totally taboo at the time but is unheard of today. We couldn't afford real flowers.  Not even close.  We certainly couldn't afford a wedding planner, so we did everything we knew to do ourselves.  Financial worry is not the greatest way to start a marriage.  Ugh.  It was stressful.

Did you know families can be problematic during wedding planning?  Not my family.  My family was awesome and supportive and filled the pews on wedding day.  That's my Dad, Mom, both grandmothers, and little sister (the 6' goddess in the lovely bridesmaid's dress).  But DH's family...that was another story.  A long story.  A story that is still being written.  Let's just say family turnout was low of DH's side of the aisle:  a total of one (Can one be a total since you technically aren't adding together two numbers?  In this case it was zero+one=one family member came to the wedding.).  He did have several friends present, but my sorority sisters graciously sat on his side of the church to help it look more balanced.  His feelings were very hurt...on our wedding day.  Ugh.  It was stressful.


Our wedding also had a smidgeon of Murphy's Law thrown in.  The church had inadvertantly cancelled our wedding and didn't clean the auditorium or turn down the air.  Fortunately we found this out at the rehearsal.  The wedding cake had a structural issue and began to melt in the 100 degree July heat.  But, it held together until the pictures were made.  There was a glitch with the music, but I did walk down the aisle to part of the Wedding March.  My MIL got sick and had to leave as soon as we took the wedding pics (we had no idea you could actually do those before the ceremony like they often do today--great idea, whoever came up with it).  We got stuck in Atlanta traffic for three hours and didn't eat dinner until ten that evening.  The video of the wedding was accidentally taped over before we got home from our honeymoon.  Speaking of the honeymoon, we had won a cruise at a Bridal Fair the year before.  We were thrilled and put the money we'd tried to save for the honeymoon into other wedding expenses.  In April, the cruise company went bankrupt.  We had no honeymoon and little money to spend on one since the wedding was only three months away.  We were able to throw together a few days in Charleston, SC with the help of a travel agent friend.  Charleston is an awesome city and we'd both like to go back someday.  Murphy didn't defeat us, but he sure made his presence known.  At least, my giant hair didn't catch on fire when we lit the traditional unity candle (it was on the wedding checklist I found in Brides magazine).  That would have been the final straw.  I do look a little concerned about it in the pic.  There was a lot of hairspray holding up that hair-do.

Looking back, as I always do on our anniversary, I still wish we'd eloped.  I wish I could have spared DH from the family strife on that day.  I, like many people, am not at my best under a lot of stress.  I didn't handle most of what happened well.  You might even say I was an emotional basket-case.  Well, who isn't on their wedding day?  Right...?  Anyone...?  Bueller...?  I just wish I could have enjoyed it more instead of being stressed out over everything.  DH, oddly enough, has never wished we'd eloped.  Even though he had hurt feelings, he liked our wedding just fine.  Men.  Who gets these creatures?  

On the other hand, this was OUR wedding.  No one else had a carbon copy of our wedding.  It had us written all over it.  It was memorable, that's for sure (good thing since we have no video).  I have one friend who remembers it so well that she wants me to write to Oprah about it.  She's sure Oprah will throw us some kind of elaborate wedding to make up for the one we had.  I'm not planning on writing to O, but if she happens to read my blog....

Here's what I know for sure:  
1.  I know that I loved my dress. I found a picture of it in a bridal magazine, but couldn't afford it at over $900. Believe it or not, I found the exact dress at a resale shop. It was brand new with the tag and only cost $315. The owner of the resale shop had bought out the inventory of a bridal shop that was closing. A friend of my Mom's had stopped by the shop, saw all the wedding dresses, and gave us a call. Perfect timing on that one. I didn't even have to have alterations. It fit perfectly off the rack. It's the only dress I tried on. Perfect, huh?
 
2.  The vows counted the same in our "shoestring" wedding as they did in somone else's "perfect" wedding.  We promised to stick-it-out forever and we're seventeen years into forever.  Some of those "perfect" wedding people didn't make it this far.
 
3.  I know that marriage is really hard and that the wedding has little-to-nothing to do with the marriage.  Sure, a lot of couples have a blast at their weddings and love every minute of their experience.  But, when the tough stuff comes along (like a premature baby, or a job loss, or arguments, or bad choices), it's not the wedding that holds you together.  It's the difficult, continuous, work that goes into a marriage that moves you forward.  The wedding is just the starting block.
 
Neither one of us really knew what we were getting into seventeen years ago.  You can tell that by our giant, oblivous, grins in the photo.  What couple really does?
 
Maybe on our 25th anniversary, we'll have another wedding (to each other, of course). 
 
Maybe on the beach this time...
barefoot...
real flowers in my hair...
a wedding planner taking care of every single detail...
Jimmy Buffet presiding over the ceremony (one of our first dates was a Jimmy Buffet concert) and singing at the reception...
 
a professional videographer capturing every moment...
 
surrounded by family and friends...
and...
 
Oprah paying for it all.
 
See you in 2018!