Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Food Whore

Oh lambs, how many of you thought I'd be writing something about myself with that title? You'd think that but alas, it's a book review!

Food Whore - Jessica Tom
Food Whore: A Novel of Dining and Deceit
Food whore (n.) A person who will do anything for food.

Fresh out of college, Tia Monroe has every intention of taking the New York City restaurant scene by storm. But after a coveted internship goes up in smoke, Tia’s suddenly just another food lover in the big city.

Yet everything changes when Michael Saltz, a legendary New York Times restaurant critic, lets Tia in on a career-ending secret: he’s lost his sense of taste. Now he wants Tia to serve as his palate, ghostwriting his reviews. In return he promises her lavish meals, a boundless cache of designer clothing, and the opportunity of a lifetime. With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Tia agrees.

Within weeks, Tia’s world transforms into one of glamour and luxury: four-star dinners, sexy celebrity chefs, and an unlimited expense account at Bergdorf Goodman. Tia loves every minute of it…until she sees her words in print and Michael Saltz taking all the credit. As the veneer of extravagance wears thin and her secret identity begins to crumble, Tia is faced with what it means to truly succeed. In a city where “making it” is the ultimate goal, Tia will have to decide: how far is she willing to go for the life she craves?

Honestly, this book should have been called "Foodie". I consider myself a food whore, but I certianly wouldn't eat at swanky restaurants mentioned in the book because I'm far too picky to even try. I would likely get thrown out. Right out the gate, if you are a fan of the Food Network, consider yourself a rookie foodie, or enjoy going to restaurants with wait lists and highly coveted tables, you are going to love this book. I'm more a fan of a good greasy spoon restaurant so admittedly, I don't get the entire concept around this book. I can't imagine my life being so focused on food, to be honest. But, I've got enough friends to tell me that good food is kind of amazing and that there are people who will play dirty just to get a chance to go to certain restaurants. 

Crazy balls, if you as me. 

But the book is about Tia, who is in love with food and her dream would be a restaurant critic and be wined and dined by the best of the best all for her opinion. A seemingly too good to be true deal lands her in her lap (only after having her internship basically squashed) where she can shop, eat, drink, and be merry and give her opinion on all of it. The only problem is that it isn't her getting the credit for these reviews, it's Michael. While initially she didn't think this would be an issue, as time goes on it does get to be a problem for her and she has to figure out what the next step is going to be for her career. 

Overall? Entertaining book. I will say that by the end of the book I didn't like any of the characters anymore. Like, not at all. Maybe it was meant to be like that, an example of what New York City can do to people or something? I'm not sure. I do highly recommend this if you enjoy reading restaurant reviews or you consider yourself a bit of a foodie, you might know more about the things talked about in the book than I did or what it's such a big deal. Since getting rid of cable and not having Food Network anymore, I've gotten food terminology dumb! 

You can find Food Whore on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Also, stay in touch with author Jessica Tom on her website, Facebook and Twitter

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Fourteenth Goldfish

So remember how last week I told you I was participating in the Battle of the Books at my kids' elementary school and kind of helping them with the program? Well I finished one book so far, and as I finish them, I'll post a mini review of sorts and maybe a few other things in case you want to read along with me with your 4th or 5th grader.

The Fourteenth Goldfish- Jennifer L. Holm
The Fourteenth Goldfish
Galileo. Newton. Salk. Oppenheimer.
Science can change the world . . . but can it go too far?

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never liked change. She misses fifth grade. She misses her old best friend. She even misses her dearly departed goldfish. Then one day a strange boy shows up. He’s bossy. He’s cranky. And weirdly enough . . . he looks a lot like Ellie’s grandfather, a scientist who’s always been slightly obsessed with immortality. Could this pimply boy really be Grandpa Melvin? Has he finally found the secret to eternal youth?

Obviously, this is a book I would have read as a kid simply because the cover is pretty rad. The book itself isn't long at all, 193 pages, which some kids have already said, "Mrs. Strand.... it's almost 200 pages!!". I usually reply with an eye roll and follow it up with the pages are short. Chapters are VERY short and I managed to read this in just under two hours. Once you get into the story, it's hard to stop. 

We start with Ellie talking about a goldfish experiment she once had and how she thought she must have a really special goldfish because hers never died. Obviously, her mother was just replacing the dead one for a live one all of the time, and that kind of stuck with Ellie. One day her mother comes home after an "incident" with her grandfather and arrives with an oddly dressed boy her age. Turns out, that's her grandfather- he discovered a serum that is essentially the fountain of youth and of course, nobody in his lab believes him. So from then on, Ellie is in charge of Grandpa Melvin, who attends school with her and creates a little havoc but also sparks an interest in science in Ellie who quickly discovers science is all around her. Everything in her life and environment is science, and she embarks on a mission to steal a jellyfish- crucial to Melvin's experiment. 

It's a super fun book, the kids who have read it so far have really loved it. In order to get kids excited about the book, we watched the book trailer: 

I also read an article from the New York Times about jellyfish possibly being a cure for aging, and discussed what the implications would be. What if people didn't age, didn't die?  If your kids are interested in this book, have them watch the trailer and summarize the article for them- it's a fun thing to have in your head as you are reading. I'll have to tell you that this would be a fun Christmas gift for kids ages 10-13, anything older than that and it might not be exciting enough for them. 

The next battle book I'm reading is The Witch From Blackbird Pond, which I confess I haven't started yet. Tonight! I'll start it tonight! 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Fat girls, rejoice- there is a book for us!

Dumplin' - Julie Murphy
Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.

Remember when I told you about my very first OwlCrate box? Well this is the book that I had received but I'm only now getting to it. I know, it's taken awhile but at least I got it read before my next box arrives, right? Let us all call it a win anyways. 

First up, the book is geared towards a YA audience but I don't even care because I could absolutely identify with Willowdean. All of the teenage awkwardness came rushing back and it was such a reminder of what high school was for so many of us who couldn't fit into a cheerleading costume to save their life so they just did nothing at all and had no boyfriends and worked at a fast food restaurant every weekend because she was guaranteed to be the only one available because you didn't get invited to anything. Willowdean is just like me, and that's why I love her. The other great thing about this book is that not only could my teenage self relate to this, but my grown up self can too because the things Willowdean feels about herself doesn't go away with age, sometimes it actually just gets worse. 

So let's talk about the book. We have Willowdean, also known as Dumplin', and she's the teenage daughter of a former hometown beauty pageant and the niece of a dead aunt who was morbidly obese. Willowdean isn't thin by any means but she's just really realistic about it. She has her best friend Ellen, who is skinny and tall, and they are basically like sisters from another mother. But as is the case with high school, the drift apart a bit and their friendship is tested, as a result of new friends and you've guessed it- the local beauty pageant. Meanwhile, Willowdean has her eyes set on her co-worker Bo, who is athletic and model worthy and when they begin testing the waters, Willowdean doesn't feel confident enough in her own skin to accept that someone of the opposite might actually be attracted to her. She assumes the worst and worries that she'll be that girl with a hot boyfriend and everyone will wonder how did SHE get HIM. 

The best part of the book for me was how much I related to her. It was like the author knew me personally and was like, "Let me write a story about her as a teenager and see what happens" and it was so spot on. One line that I'm strongly considering framing for my bookshelf is on page 207, 

"There are moments in my life when I feel like I know everything and that I've left no rock unturned. But things like this remind me of how small my world is." 

Like, DAMN. Nevermind this was part of a passage where Willowdean and her group of fellow unattractive friends join the local beauty pageant as way to say, "Hey- we're ugly and/or fat but we can totally participate", and they find themselves at a Dolly Parton night at a gay bar. Which is something that would totally be something I would inadvertently attend. 

Even better is when we get to pageant training and the absurdity of it all, and you are reminded this is taking place in the deep south and there are things like ice tea and barbecue ribs you don't mess around with. Page 335, 

"They serve us barbecue for lunch. I think that maybe lunch is some secret component of our final score because there is no higher achievement for a southern woman than the ability to eat barbecue and walk away stain free."

The entire book is about Willowdean trying to get through being a teenager, trying to learn how to love herself for what she is, trying to accept compliments and love from someone else, working on the rocky relationship with her mother, repairing her friendship with Ellen and.. Bo. Oh Bo. I really liked Bo. 

I absolutely adored this book and I really enjoyed every second of it. To be honest, I don't know why this book is getting mixed reviews because I thought it was highly entertaining. The only fault I can really find in it is the ending felt rushed. Like we worked so hard to get there and it didn't leave me fully satisfied. Not everything gets an "ending" but it isn't enough of a flaw to mark the book down or to not recommend it fully. I know some people are slamming this as a skinny shaming book and to that I say, oh stop it already. Seriously. Stop it. It's like these reviewers have forgotten what it was like in high school. The author nailed the inner voices of teenage girls perfectly. Anyways. 

I totally recommend it. I loved it and it's a fun read. You can find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Happy reading! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Carrying Albert Home

I am telling you right now, if you are one of my friends who I normally give a book to for Christmas, this is probably going to be it because I enjoyed this book so much.

Carrying Albert Home - Homer Hickam

Big Fish meets The Notebook in this emotionally evocative story about a man, a woman, and an alligator that is a moving tribute to love, from the author of the award-winning memoir Rocket Boys—the basis of the movieOctober Sky

Elsie Lavender and Homer Hickam (the father of the author) were high school classmates in the West Virginia coalfields, graduating just as the Great Depression began. When Homer asked for her hand, Elsie instead headed to Orlando where she sparked with a dancing actor named Buddy Ebsen (yes, that Buddy Ebsen). But when Buddy headed for New York, Elsie’s dreams of a life with him were crushed and eventually she found herself back in the coalfields, married to Homer.

Unfulfilled as a miner’s wife, Elsie was reminded of her carefree days with Buddy every day because of his unusual wedding gift: an alligator named Albert she raised in the only bathroom in the house. When Albert scared Homer by grabbing his pants, he gave Elsie an ultimatum: “Me or that alligator!” After giving it some thought, Elsie concluded there was only one thing to do: Carry Albert home.

Carrying Albert Home is the funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1000-mile adventure. Told with the warmth and down-home charm that made Rocket Boys/October Sky a beloved bestseller, Homer Hickam’s rollicking tale is ultimately a testament to that strange and marvelous emotion we inadequately call love.

Oh lambs. I've been told that when I write a book review, sometimes you can tell how much I loved the book by the way I talk about it. I sure hope that comes across in this review because this was such a tremendously wonderful book. Truly. I can't think of anyone who wouldn't love it. 

The book is told by Homer Hickam, the son of Elsie and Homer, and he's pieced this story together based on the snippets of the larger story told to him while growing up. His parents would casually drop a statement like, "She learned how to do that when she was with those damn bootleggers." and then give him a small sampling of the story. The story of course, was when they took their trip from West Virginia coal mining community to Orlando, Florida on the mission to carry Albert home. Albert, of course, was Elsie's pet alligator that she had since he was a baby and treated much like a cat, honestly. He was given to her after her wedding to Homer by an old love she still carried a torch for, and so obviously Homer wasn't pleased. After some time, Homer made her choose Albert or him and she reluctantly chose Homer. On the start of their trip, they also acquired a rooster (or really, the rooster chose them) and the rooster also goes on their travels. 

The really spectacular thing is that all along their trip they meet fantastic people (Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck is a sampling- CAN YOU IMAGINE?!) who later become icons in American history. Add that to the story taking place during the Great Depression and you have a great setting, a fantastic adventure, and a couple trying to make it work. Homer, desperately in love with Elsie, and Elsie, who hates coal mining and never wanted that to be a part of her life, kind of come together on this trip. I worried the entire book about Albert, are they really just going to leave this domesticated alligator off on his own? What will become of him? 

Honestly, at first I didn't like Elsie at all (except her unabashed love of the alligator made her pretty endearing) but the more I read, the more she reminded me of the senior volunteers I had once worked with. I think, given the times they were living in, you really had to be spectacular to get through it and Elsie was. One line in the book isn't funny at all, but I absolutely laughed because I remember a volunteer telling me that she knew she was just about dead when her son came to see her. 

In October 2009, my mother lay on her deathbed, clearly disappointed. She was ninety-seven years old and had hoped to live to be one hundred but, based on her doctor’s candid report and the fact that her second son was uncharacteristically hovering about, she knew she probably wasn’t going to make it.

It's certainly not funny to laugh when a person is at their end but then I thought, if only one tenth of this story was true versus family legend, what an amazing adventure she has. I certainly can't imagine any of that to happen in today's times and maybe that's what makes this book so special. Honest to goodness, this might be my number one book of the year. This will be a book I read again and again and I will likely read it to my children because it was just a fun journey.

And I am a sucker for old photographs, so at the very end of the book we get pictures of what Elsie and Homer looked like back then and some of the other characters mentioned. And I won't lie, I cried at the end. I really was so concerned about this poor alligator. I became attached to a damn alligator, you guys. Seriously.


I cannot urge you enough to purchase this book (Amazon or Barnes & Noble) because truly, it's such a great story that makes you laugh at the absurdity of it and honestly, this makes me want a pet alligator. I will call him George. Even better, follow the author on his website, Facebook or Twitter

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Try It Sunday: EASY Caramel Bars!

I'm sorry I haven't been updating this feature as frequently as I should, but I figured I'd come back with a great one for you!

Easy Caramel Bars
1 package of yellow cake mix
1 can (5 ounces) evaporated milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
36 Rolo candies

 First things first, preheat your oven to 350, and while that's happening, cut your Rolos in half.

Next, you will need to get out a mixing bowl and get your ingredients together:
Everything EXCEPT your Rolos. The batter is super thick and sticky.

I highly recommend that you line your pan with foil and spray the HELL out of the foil with a non stick spray.

Put HALF of your batter in the pan.
Be super patient, this is time consuming because it is so thick and sticky. You'll bake this for about 10 minutes.
It will look puffy and set.
Put your candies on top. Now, the recipe calls for 36 but I didn't use all of them. I basically ate the rest, so I still think you should have all 36 handy.
Then you are going to cover your candies with the rest of your dough. Again, this is such a pain because it's so sticky.
Bake for another 25 minutes and cool on a wire rack and then cut. Even though I used foil and a ton of spray, my bars did stick a bit so I think I will use more spray on the sides of the pan.

These are addicting! I made these for a parent teacher conference dinner and they were all gone by the end of dinner with a note asking for the recipe. I love cake mix recipes the best, so easy and we always have one on hand! I bet you could even use any flavor of cake mix, I might try a chocolate next time to see if it works. But this is a GREAT option if you like bars, don't like lots of ingredients, and need a cheap option for dessert!

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Nonsense Show

I am so, so, SO excited and over the moon to have a chance to review Eric Carle's new book, The Nonsense Show.

The Nonsense Show - Eric Carle
The Nonsense Show

Ducks growing out of bananas? A mouse catching a cat? What’s wrong with this book?

Yes, there’s something strange, something funny and even downright preposterous on every page of this book  But it’s not a mistake – it’s nonsense!  And it’s also surrealism. Nonsense lies at the heart of many beloved nursery rhymes.  Children readily accept odd statements like “the cow
jumped over the moon” and “the dish ran away with the spoon.”  This fanciful bending of reality is also basic to surrealism.

In this book, nonsense and surrealism combine to spark creativity and imagination.  What’s true? What’s impossible? What’s absolutely absurd? From Eric Carle, creator of the classic, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, comes a book to make children laugh and think, preparing them for a
lifetime of loving both words and art.

Following on the heels of The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse (an homage to the artist Franz Marc and expressionism) and Friends, with its semi-abstract artwork,  The Nonsense Show  forms a trilogy of sorts, dedicated to introducing young readers to different styles of artwork without ever overlooking the need to, first and foremost, appeal to children and their love of play. One of the true legends and pioneers of picture book making continues to expand and challenge the genre. 

First and foremost, I am probably biased because I am a huge fan of Eric Carle. We have so many of his books and my children love his illustrations and we never tire of his wonderful stories. When this book showed up at my house my kids got SO excited. We read it immediately and my kids loved it. The great part is that we recognized so many things from some of his other books and as usual, the illustrations were on spot. 

As an extra bonus, I decided to read it to three first grade classrooms who are actually celebrating Eric Carle as their author of the month and these kids were SO excited to see the book, read it with me, and talk about why each page was silly. The children were all laughing, they liked how the book had lots of opposites (the lion taming the people, the rabbit pulling a man out of the hat, etc), and their favorite was the duck with human feet and the horse/human switching heads. The children also really enjoyed the illustrations with Eric Carle's distinctive artwork and a few even noticed his author photo on the back cover was altered! Each page is a different silly photo with an even sillier description of what happens during a Nonsense Show. 

It's books like Eric Carle's that can really jump start the love of reading and literature and his career is epic. To think this may very well be his last children's book, well that's kind of sad. I understand it though, he's reached an age where anyone of us would want to be retired and enjoy life. But with that in mind, this would be a great note to go out on- this book is funny, it's silly, and it's a great family read. If you have little ones, this would be a great addition to your family library! 

You can get this book on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble. Seriously, this is going to make a great Christmas gift for any child in your life, I highly recommend it! It's perfect for younger children who cannot read on their own yet, those just learning their sight words, and even those who are fluent readers! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

A Line of Blood

Maybe the fact I've been watching a lot of crime shows is why I really enjoyed this book. Give me crime and family drama any day!

A Line of Blood - Ben McPherson
A Line of Blood: A Novel
A London family must deal with the murder of their secretive neighbor and the nerve-wracking police investigation that follows in this highly provocative, intensely twisty and suspenseful debut thriller that will have you guessing if one—or all—of them is guilty

For Alex Mercer, his wife Millicent and their eleven-year-old son Max are everything, his little tribe that makes him feel all’s right with the world. But when he and Max find their enigmatic next door neighbor dead in his apartment, their lives are suddenly and irrevocably changed. As the police conduct a methodical investigation, Alex becomes increasingly impatient for them to finish. After all, it so clearly was a suicide.

But as new information is uncovered, troubling questions arise. Why was the neighbor charging his home improvements to the Mercer’s address? How did a possession of Millicent’s end up in his apartment? And what has Max been listening to through the common wall they share with the neighbor? As the knot of suspicion grows tighter, this close-knit family begins to crack. Is Alex really the loving husband he professes to be? And where does Millicent disappear to on those long walks, stewing over something she can’t forget?

Each of them is suffering. Each has something to hide. And as they each question how well they really know one another, the Mercers will be forced to decide how far they’ll go to protect themselves—and their family—from investigators carefully watching their every move . . . waiting for one of them to make a mistake. 

After reading A Line of Blood, you will never look at your loved ones the same way again.

First of all, it is going to take everything in me to NOT squeal and tell you who the murder actually is and why. Everything, lambs. Everything. Mostly because it's so unthinkable and I look at the people in my own little family and I can't connect it. I can't connect it, which is what makes this novel phenomenal. Is it slow? Kind of. But did it read almost like a British episode of Law & Order? Absolutely. Gut punches and all. 

It all begins with Alex and his son Max, who basically trespass into the neighbors house after their cat, and find the neighbor dead. Naked in his bathtub, he's very clearly dead. Alex, obviously stunned, returns home with Max in tow and is absolutely convinced his son is irrevocably scarred after seeing a dead body. The wife, Millicent, is such a strange character. Right from the beginning, I honestly suspected her of something just because she disappears and her husband doesn't know where to. Max seems to hear and see everything, like most kids, and his parents are seemingly oblivious to what he knows. 

It's not so much the "who killed the  neighbor" that carries this book, it's more of what happens to the family as they find out. How they are all affected by it and what it means for them going forward. Sadly, I can't give you much  more that won't ruin the book for you because as the reader, it's super important you discover things at the pace set by the author because you get the feeling of devastation, anger, fearfulness, and more just as the family does. Excellent book. I wouldn't say thriller, but it is definitely suspenseful and it would compare to seasoned authors in this genre with no problem. I highly recommend this is you are a fan of a story that will keep you on your toes! 

You can purchase this book at Amazon or Barnes & Noble, of course. Happy reading, lambs! 
Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Thursday, October 8, 2015

OwlCrate #1

Don't even tell me I am out of control with the book subscription boxes. (I'm looking at you, Shirley) because these have become the greatest part of my month. Honestly, I wish they were all spread out over the month so my absolute joy is not limited to the last week of the month. The high is over before I know it, lambs.

This month the theme for OwlCrate was "leading ladies" so I thought, OK- this really could go anywhere.
I have obsessively stalked their Instagram page and when they said they had openings (I was on a wait list), I jumped on it!
FINALLY, the box came. And it was... it was so great.
I got.. what is obviously going to be my "I'm too good for a traditional diaper bag" diaper bag- it says "The Brave and Fearless- Dauntless" and really, that's kind of a great parenting motto. We got a cool Game of Thrones key chain, $5 off at (which, I don't know what that is, but here's hoping I can find something cool?) a couple of post card type things I'm actually going to frame and have on my bookshelves because I like fun things on my shelves.
A close up of my keychain!
The book in this box came WRAPPED IN PLASTIC, which was... for a book nerd, it's exciting. But we get the book Dumplin, which is a YA book (OwlCrate is a YA box) and it looks so good. We got a sticker and letter from the author to go with it, always fun!

After unwrapping my box and then fangirling on the Instagram page for OwlCrate, I discovered I didn't have a necklace everyone else had. I then dug through my garbage thinking maybe I threw it out in the packing material or something. OF COURSE, we had spaghetti for dinner that night so I'm digging through the spaghetti trash looking and after 15 minutes decided that it just wasn't there.

So I comment on their post and immediately they tell me to email them. So I do and they have the GREATEST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER. No questions, just an apology and a tracking number for a new necklace.

No, I am not kidding. I was blown away and that alone keeps me for another month.
I got my necklace a few days later and it is gorgeous!!! It's a total shout out to Katniss from The Hunger Games and I am in love. It's, quite possibly, my favorite necklace. So if you are looking for a book subscription box.. this might be the one for you. It's a solid box of fun stuff, so I highly recommend it!

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Lit Cube #2

You guys! I've got a bunch of cool mail recently. Today I'll show you my second Lit Cube, the We'll Never be Royals themed box, but tomorrow I'll show you  my first OwlCrate!

So if you remember, last month was my first Lit Cube and it was an Oz themed box. The book I got with it, Spelled, wasn't totally awful but it really wasn't great, either. But the swag I got in that first box was pretty great. This month, equally nice box!
Easily the nicest item is the royal purple t-shirt that is a Game of Thrones/Star Wars mash up. I'm not a Star Wars fan but I do like the Game of Thrones, and the shirt is pretty fun so I do like that.  (Value $16.99)
We also got this 4 ounce mini mug, not totally sure what I'll use it for, but it IS cute! Currently, it's sitting on my bookshelf. (Value $7.99)

We also got a free audio book code ($7.99 value) which I won't use because I don't do audio books, so things like this are kind of a waste for me. Also we got a small tin of "Once Upon A Time Fandom Adagio Tea Blend" ($4.99 value) which again, I don't drink tea so I gave that to someone. Along with a few other bookmarks, including one that came with a bottle cap key ring, it was a decent little box.

The book Cage of Deceit by Jennifer Anne Davis ($12.99 value) also came with it. It's a YA book and it sounds... meh. I don't know. It might end up being really good but it'll be awhile before I get to it. It did come with a signed book plate for it, so that is always a fun thing to stick in the book.

Overall? Not a disappointing box at all. A lot of comments I've gotten have been, "Oh, well you could just go buy this stuff" and true, I totally could. Honestly though, I'm the worst online shopper (hate it) and I don't do well finding these types of things on my own. I keep saying it, but I really do need a responsible adult to take charge of my life. HA!

So that's the second Lit Cube. October is a "Supernatural Idgits" theme and that sounds... questionable. November is a vampire them and you know I am ALL OVER THAT, just take all of my money.

Welcome to Sara's Organized Chaos

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Here Comes the Dreamer

I feel like I haven't been reading as much as I should/could be, but thankfully I have a few smaller review books before my larger ones are due so that's been helpful. (See? I'm actually looking at number of pages and being realistic!)

Here Comes the Dreamer - Carole Giangrande
Here Comes the Dreamer
Alastair Luce is a dreamer, one of three who tell this tale. A Canadian expat in the 1950s, he lives in a New York City suburb with his wife, Nora, a passionate American who misses the excitement of wartime life and finds an outlet -- and a lover -- during the Red scare. Alastair's an artist, a quiet man who paints houses for a living, fears atomic holocaust, drinks too much and worries about his suffering child, Grace. Just before the accident that kills his daughter's best friend Todd, he offers a ride to their teenage neighbour, Claire Bernard. She continues the story as a witness to tragedy, a wry observer of suburban mores and a compassionate friend of Alastair, whose talent and politics she'd long admired. Yet in the era of Vietnam, she's not prepared for his love or his anguish as she marries and leaves for Canada. In Toronto, it's Alastair's exiled daughter Grace who speaks, giving voice to her fury, an artist who works to "burn" the city down with brilliant colour, who resents Claire for hurting her dad, and still grieves the loss of young Todd. Yet Grace, Claire and Alastair are bound together by their history, and a crisis draws their painful stories to a climax. It's then that Grace ventures homeward for the first time, into a startling vision of the unknown.

For such a small book (127 pages) there is a lot of story fit into it. Even more surprising was even though it was so short, I really had a hard time sticking with it. Normally I can power read through things and 130 pages in a sitting isn't unheard of. Instead, this book took me days to get through because at no point did I feel really emotionally invested in. Was it good? It was. But I found myself not caring much about what happens to these people. 

Here Comes the Dreamer centers around three main characters: Nora, Alastair, and Grace. Grace is the child of Nora and Alastair and I felt absolutely terrible for her because it was clear her mother didn't like her. Mostly because she was too similar to Alastair and Nora was very pragmatic and based in reality. She steps outside of the marriage and it results in another child. What I found odd was that even though it was clear that Nora didn't even really care for Alastair, you can tell there was still something there towards her. But we also have Claire, who wants to be friends with Alastair (even though there is a HUGE age gap and it almost makes me reminiscent of  K.L. Cook's The Girl From Charnelle) but that's hard to do after the accident that killed a little boy, who happened to be one of Grace's only friends. I guess for me, this sums up what happens when you have a family who don't focus on the child (Nora/Alastair) because Grace ends up... well she ends up kind of angry and trying to reconcile her mother's abuse and everything that essentially starts at the accident. 

Honestly, the last third of the book was the best part because I felt like it was all really coming together. The first two thirds are good, but I felt like we were gathering all of this information, swirling around, and not really sure how it was going to end up- why was any of this essential information? I do think that if I had lived in the post Cold War era, I would have understood the sentiment behind some of the passages. I don't know what it's like to inherently distrust someone based on their belief. Sure, we have something similar now, but certainly not at all to the degree that this book highlights. 

You can order the book through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It might even be a great gift (or stocking stuffer) for your parents or even Grandparents this year! 

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