Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Bird House (review & GIVEAWAY)

Let's just get right to it.

The Birdhouse by Kelly Simmons
Every family has its secrets. But when you are suddenly the matriarch, tending the dark fires of memory, and your own mind is fading, who do you dare to share them with? Your diary, or your eight-year-old granddaughter?

The Bird House: A NovelInterweaving diaries penned forty years apart, Kelly Simmons’s captivating second novel, The Bird House, blends the fierce voice of Ann Biddle, a woman struggling to bond with her only grandchild, Ellie, while railing against the ravages of early dementia, with her point-of-view as a young wife and mother. We witness the secrets of Ann’s family and her grand-daughter and daughter-in-law’s through every lens — from the clarity of the rearview mirror to the haze of Alzheimer’s. And we see her grappling through the ‘60’s with sleep deprivation, breast cancer, her own mother’s death, a passionate affair, and a tragedy that leaves her stunned until, four decades later, her whip-smart granddaughter unwittingly sheds a burst of light on the family’s shadowy history.

This book was so unbelievably good in a really subtle way. I love how the story line was being played out so quickly but you didn't even know it until you were almost done with the book, which I thought was so cool. I mean, it's like you didn't even know it was happening and then- BAM! It all came to get perfectly.

I really adored the characters. I really felt like Ann could be anybody's Grandma and it makes you appreciate the wisdom and knowledge a person has just from living life. Having worked with seniors previously I know from first hand experience how interesting hearing the life story of another person can be. I mean, it's just an ordinary life but it's so different from the next person.

What I really loved about this book was how the author really described, in a believable way, what it's like to be in the early stages of dementia and how they feel when a family member "checks up" on them. If you have ever had a family member or friend develop dementia this would be an interesting read for you.

What also is interesting is how Ann chooses to tell Ellie (the grand daughter) family "secrets". Which really aren't secrets- they are just events that happen over the course of life, but somehow, people believe that by not talking about it everyone will be better off. Which, families are built on success, tragedy, ups and downs. And I think that younger generations should learn about their family history. Good or bad.

This is such an excellent book and would make a fabulous Mother's Day gift for your mom or Grandma. Truly.

But ONE of my lucky readers is going to win an autographed copy of The Bird House!!! How exciting is that? The winner will be chosen randomly using the comments from this post, and announced on Monday, February 28.

To enter-
- You MUST be a follower via GFC
- Leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite memory of your grandparent(s) is.

Good luck and happy reading!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Other Life by Ellen Meister

I don't know that I can really describe this book to do it justice, but I'm certainly going to try.

Quinn Braverman had two secrets she kept from her husband. One was that the real reason she chose him over Eugene, her neurotic, self-loathing, semi-famous ex-boyfriend, was to prove her mother wrong. She could have a relationship with a normal, stable man.
The Other Life
The other was that Quinn knew another life existed in which she had made the other choice. The two lives ran in parallel lines, like highways on opposite sides of a mountain. There, on the other side, the Quinn who had stayed with Eugene was speeding through her high-drama, emotionally exhausting, childless urban life. Here, the Quinn who had married Lewis lived in the suburbs of Long Island, drove a Volvo, and was pregnant with her second child.

But the important part of the secret- the part that terrified and thrilled her- was that she knew it was possible to cross from one life to the other..

I think we can all say that at one point of our life or another, we've all wondered- what if. What if I hadn't gone to that college, what if I had married that first boy, what if I had moved away after school, etc. And while I don't necessarily think it's healthy to really dwell on that because as we all know, you can't change the past you can only shape the future, I do think that occasionally pondering that helps you decide what path to take for your future.

Such as the case in this book. What the preview doesn't say is that Quinn is pregnant with her second child who likely has a serious medical concern- a possibly life threatening disability that may cause the baby to be still born, and if the baby does survive it faces all uphill battles. Now, any of us with children who have gone through a pregnancy anxious about your baby's development can certainly understand Quinn's point of view in this book. You put the brave face on for your other child and try to be supportive of your husband.... while you are devastated, scared, and have no idea what you are going to do. In situations like this you really want your mom to tell you it's going to be ok and you will get through it. Sadly, Quinn's mother committed suicide so it's like she is grieving two things at once- overwhelming for anyone.

I really appreciated how the author portrayed Louis (the husband) because I really got the sense that a lot of husbands and expectant fathers would act similarly. I really like how Quinn's grief is described and how the author makes you feel like you are Quinn's very best friend and you're walking with her through the grief.

I will say that I got frustrated with Quinn because she discovers these portals and is going back and forth between her real life, and life that essentially could have been. I will say that I haven't lost a parent so I can't possibly know the sadness Quinn was feeling, so maybe I don't understand why she would act out selfishly by going back and forth and debating which place to stay in. To me, as a mother, staying where my kids were would be an automatic, so that kind of made me dislike Quinn for a bit.

BUT I absolutely LOVED how the book started, and then how it ended with Quinn's mom. I think it book ended the story as a whole wonderfully and it explained the portal thing perfectly.

I would say this reminds me of a Jodi Picoult story, even though I can't stand Jodi Picoult. So this is like Picoult for the non-whiners. :) I highly recommend this book because it really makes you think about your life. If you could see what your life would have been like, and you had the choice to actually be in it just to try it out... would you go back to the other life? I don't know that I would... but I guess I won't ever know.

Moo with me now.

Before I get on with my Monday Weightloss Checkin.. here's a few things before I forget:

1. YES! I did get a new blog design made just for me by my Canadian lover, Nikolett. She's cute as a damn button, she loves Muse, we both can't stand Kate Hudson and thinks she's ruining Matt Bellamy's life, and she thinks I'm slightly crazy but in a fun and lovable way. So everybody please thank her for listening to my crazy requests and taking the things I say (that sound like non sense) and turning into something awesome.

2. Yesterday I mentioned I got my birthday invitations done and I did. Go me. They go in the mail tomorrow. They didn't come out quite how I pictured in my head, but this was the best I could do with what I had since I can't really afford to buy new supplies for MY party. But... my 29th bday party is March 12, even though my bday is March 10. WOO!
 3. I got a set of cards done for my Etsy shop and they should be live.. sometime tonight. But I am kind of in love with the sparkly ribbon.
So this week as you'll see from my vlog, I didn't get a lot of fuckmill done. I only did it twice and that sucks. I know it. BUT to my credit, I did still do my stair stepper, my Shake weight thingie (which I don't think works), my arm weights, and my crunches. SO.. I feel like I made some progress.

I've given up milk because fuck that shit. I'm going to start on vitamins because visualizing me breastfeeding off of a cow is not worth the calcium. I may change my tune when I break a hip when I'm 40 but until then- vitamins it is.

This week's weight is...
OK. So clearly not as good as last week. Last week I lost almost five pounds and at the time I knew it was because I had hardly eaten due to The Plague, but still. I'll take even fake accomplishments that are only fleeting. I'm going to be ok with this weight because even though I didn't earn an actual loss by exercise, at least I didn't gain.

ESPECIALLY considering I ate like a fat fucking cow coming back from famine. Seriously. Our date day/night on Saturday was really shameful and I won't even tell you how hard my ass hit the ground after falling off the wagon. I mean, my ass made a dent, folks.

But this week my water intake has GOT to go up. Seriously. I realized I'm only drinking MAYBE one small bottle of water a day. Which, not good for all kinds of reasons. So I'm going to force myself to have water instead of my daily Coke from McDonald's. *sigh* It's going to be sad but I can do it.

Keep trucking along lambwhores. Tell me what kind of exercises you are doing, how long you are exercising, and what is preventing you from exercising every day or every other day?

Monday, February 14, 2011


Ha! I bet just because I'm sick you would have thought I would have forgotten my book review duties. Oh no, I remembered! (Also as an aside, check out my new award here and come back tomorrow for a link to my guest vlog)

This book is good and I want you to trust me.

Hush by Kate White
Four months after their separation, marketing consultant Lake Warren faces a tough legal battle with her husband, Jack, for custody of their two kids. Though the timing couldn't be worse, she finds herself responding to the flirtations of Dr. Mark Keaton, her handsome colleague at the Advanced Fertility Center. But the morning after their one-night stand, Lake discovers Keaton with his throat slashed.

Afraid of losing her children forever, Lake lies to the police-and begins searching for the truth on her own before she can be charged with the heinous crime. She starts getting hostile treatment from her coworkers, and strange clues start appearing, quite literally, on her doorstep. Soon Lake is pulled dangerously close to the very dark secrets surrounding the slain man and the clinic where they worked. And suddenly the police are not the only ones hunting Lake Warren.

OK. Let me start by telling you that I absolutely COULD NOT put this book down. If you are a fan of the Law & Order shows.. this one is for you. This could easily have been an episode and it was a great thriller. Throughout the book I'm trying to read for clues and was trying to piece it together. Every time I thought that I had it figured out, something else got thrown in and it blew my theory on the crime.

I felt like the characters were easy to relate to- like if this were a real life thing, this was how each character would react. You know how some characters you think, "Oh- you would never say/do that in real life!"? Well I didn't feel that way at all with this book. The stress and the fear that Lake experiences comes through and you feel it with her. And then when everything comes to a head at the end.... it all makes sense. I really thought the author did a fabulous job with not only carrying a thriller but wrapping it up perfectly at the end.

This book is so fantastic and I really think you should read it. In fact, a few of my friends got their own copies as of late because I knew it was something they would love. It's definitely worth the purchase or even a trip to the library!

Monday, February 7, 2011


Now, before you all panic about my mental state of mind, know that I'm not actually lonely. No. I'm reviewing a book by the name. Talk your fingers off the "Panic!" button.

I'm going to start by telling you I really enjoy memoirs. I like getting an insight into someone else's world and I like trying to see how I could relate. How the information they present could translate to my life.

I learned quickly that this book doesn't really fit either of those categories. If we're being honest- I really struggled through this book. I almost gave up on page 52 out of 326. I mean, at page 52 I felt like I didn't understand the actual point of this book other than the author telling us she's lonely and that it's not depression, it is actually its own illness.

Most memoirs focus on the main character's story; however, this memoir provided a lot of science. A lot of detail into the little things that don't actually matter. I felt overwhelmed because scientific studies are presented and if it's not what you were expecting- it's daunting. It on its own felt like a scientific study and that made it difficult to relate to Emily. I didn't view her as a character anymore by as a bystander maybe describing what it would be like if you were lonely, not as the character suffering through loneliness.

As a person who suffers from depression and anxiety, who has friends, family, etc that are of the same affliction... I know what it's like to deal with mental illness. I'm sympathetic to it and I realize how difficult it is. But even I had a hard time understanding what makes loneliness different from depression.

In all, I would recommend this book if you are interested in scientific facts and that actual analytical side of human nature. If you, or someone you know, suffers from actual loneliness would benefit from this book. I encourage you to look at Emily's website and her blog to get more information about loneliness, the book, and more information about the author.