Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book Reviews. Again. Learn to read, America!

It's time for me to just get my butt in gear and post some reviews of books before I read them and then feel guilty for doing you sucha disservice.

Let's do this shiz.

Linger (Wolves of Mercy Falls, Book 2)
This is the story of Sam and Grace. Sam, a boy who used to be a werewolf but now has apparently been cured. Grace, a girl who was bitten by wolves but ultimately didn't turn into a wolf but was in love with the wolves. Specifically Sam. This is book two of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series and just like I did with Shiver, I read this book very fast. Like in 4 hours and 20 minutes. It would have been faster had I not had to pee, cook, and then eat. Trust me- if these were things I could put off I would have. Anyways. I can't really talk about this book too much without giving key parts away. But I can tell you that just like with Shiver, I cried like a baby at the end. I am demanding a specific ending and I sincerely hope the author complies. I don't know what I'll do if she doesn't but I won't be happy. And Matt can attest to what unhappy Sara is like.

But it does bring new wolves into the story and they each have an interesting character line to keep the book moving. And the thing about this series is that despite faults, and maybe because of them, I really like all of the characters. I can't think of a character I don't like. The author does such a good job weaving a story in and out of different view points that just keep you reading. And I have to say- the love story between Sam and Grace is just.....*sigh*. It's that good. Like I have no words. It's good. I highly recommend this book. But read Shiver first. Trust me. 5 out of 5 DEFINITELY.

Walk Like You Have Somewhere To Go
Now this is a book I got through Book Sneeze to review way back in March. I'm a fast reader and I read a lot, but this book was so awkward and unfun that it has taken me that long to read it. I kept passing it up until a week ago when I was like- dang. I just have to finish it. So I did. And I thought it was lame.

It's the story of Lucille, who is Shaq's mom, and her growing up and what it was like being a single mom. And I get that the theme of Book Sneeze is apparently all Jesus based, which makes me wonder how I even got started, but this one was kind of over the top. Her parents were really strict and honestly, I would say abusive. But she just talks it off like it's no big. And that really irritates me because that kind of behavior isn't ok. Anyways. Although I didn't really enjoy the memoir myself- it would be very good for someone who fits the stereotypical un-wed, uneducated mother. While it's obviously worked out for her that isn't the case for everyone. And I guess when I read the book it made me feel like she was saying, "Hey- it's ok to have babies on your own with no education! You just pray real hard and everything will be great." And really? That's not a plan. That's a hope. I had a hard time identifying with this story but then again, I've never been in that situation. So I guess if I have to give it a 1-5 rating (5 being the best) I'd say 1. Only because I just couldn't stay engaged at all.

Tempt Me If You Can
I can't remember if I've reviewed it but I think I haven't because it's not on my "finished" list. But this is a cheesy romance novel so you know- if you hate those, skip this review. The only thing I will say- little to no sex. I can't even remember if there was sex. And frankly? If you are going to write a romance- I expect some sex in there. THAT is the point, right? At least for me it is.

But this is the store of Ben and Emma. Emma is raising her long lost sister's son as her own, and Ben is really the dad but Ben didn't know that until a mysterious letter came, blah blah blah. And then Ben comes and just like a loser creeper thinks he can be hero of the day, super dad, AND be in love with Emma. You know how this goes. But then there's trouble (oh dang, yall!) and then yeah. Everybody lives happily ever after.

Quick read, very little brains are required. I'd give it a 2 out of 5.

Under the Duvet: Shoes, Reviews, Having the Blues, Builders, Babies, Families and Other Calamities
Well I have never read anything by Marian Keyes before and this was a good starter book. It's a collection of short personal essays, some previously unpublished, that are all witty and fun. This is actually a pretty fun book to tote in your purse or next to your bed because you can read one or two stories quickly while waiting and stuff. What I enjoyed about the book were all the fun titles of the stories. Examples include, "The Pissed Is a Foreign Country, They Do Things Differently There". I mean, really. How many times have I said that people who are pissed off are totally irrational and you just are better off backing away from them. You can't negotiate or reason with angry. Or my other favorite, "Catholicism: Cheaper Than Prozac, but Is It Good for You?" AGREED.

Marian comes off as someone who would be a really fun girls night out buddy who would come in with a smart ass quip right when you need her to. I'd give this a 4 out of 5.

Ok- so I'm caught up on that. :) YAY! I'm reading a few things right now and I have TLC Book Tour reviews coming up (one each month through..December I think) so stay tuned. But right now I'm almost done with Jen Lancaster's My Fair Lazy and I cannot wait to review that for you.

What are YOU reading?

Monday, August 23, 2010

The time Matt almost killed my kids. With witnesses.

Maybe I should have named this post "First Ever MN/WI Blogger Meetup" but whatever. I kind of think my title is more catchy.

So Krysten is awesome and arranged for only the super cool people who blog in MN/WI to get together and wow everyone with our awesomeness. (Did you not get the invite?? Yikes. That *might* mean you aren't cool. Check into that.) We were going to meet at Como Zoo yesterday and five of us did. Actually- a sixth was supposed to come but after checking with Krysten and then Krysten never hearing from her again we've concluded that:

A. She gave up trying to find parking.
B. She found a parking spot, found us, and was scared by our awesomeness.
C. She was abducted and murdered somewhere in the picnic area.

To our credit, Krysten and I totally looked at bushes to see if we saw feet sticking out afterwards. We saw nothing, so let's hope she just chickened out. Otherwise I might feel bad.

Anyways. So the zoo was fun. I brought my kids and Matt because we got once a year and I figured I'd be all multi-tasker and bring them and get the trip out of the way. So smart I am.

This isn't Matt or my kids. It's me and Krysten burning our armpits on the monkey thingie. The monkey exhibit smells. FYI.

I bought the kids snowcones because I rock like that and I told them, "Absolutely do not drop these because I am not buying another one." Thankfully- my kids follow directions. When we get to the exhibit where the lions and big furry things are I see that there are stairs. I tell Matt (who's pushing the double stroller), "Dude-there's stairs." And he gives me the look that means he will do what he wants because he thinks he's right and says, "So what." Um- so he makes it down two, maybe, when I hear Olivia scream and see Jackson tumble down the concrete steps. Both snowcones have been lost but dammit if they weren't holding the container they were in. They TRIED to hold them. So obviously Matt forgot to strap the kids into the fucking stroller. I was so mad I seriously would have probably killed him with my water bottle.

(Dear Ladies- you saved a man's life on Sunday and you didn't even know it. FYI.)

Seriously. I can't even believe him sometimes. He does these kinds of things all of the time, and then gets pissed off because I get angry. Ugh. Seriously. Anyways.

So I had to get new snowcones to make up for his suckiness as a parent and then I become the favorite. :)

It was so hot yesterday and while us grown ups were dying the kids did super well and never complained about the heat at all. Most of the animals looked like they were on the verge of death so that kind of sucks. Poor furry animals. :(

But here's us at the very end. We should have taken it at the beginning because we would have looked a million times better. But I think we all lost a little bit of weight from sweat. So, bonus I guess??

It was great to meet all of them and I'm excited for the next one. Which we've decided is going to be in Krysten's pool.

Oh- and I am going to post ten year reunion and senior year of high school stuff tomorrow and Wednesday. Yes- it's a double post. Yes- it will be worth it.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Life You've Imagined

Another book review for TLC Book Tours, and Trish who is awesome times a million.

So today I am going to review Kristina Riggles book, The Life You've Imagined, which is set for release in September. And I'm going to tell you right now that I want you to read it. Because I am your lambwhore/goatslut leader and I say so.

This story follows the lives of four women, Amy (the previously fat high school girl engaged to one of the son's of a prominent family in town), Anna (the Chicago based high powered lawyer who's come home because she was put on a bereavement leave due to the loss of her mentor only to encounter her first love, who is not-so-happily married with a daughter), Maeve (Anna's mom who runs a run-down liquor store slated for demolition but who is also chasing the ghost of her husband and Anna's father who abandoned them 20 years earlier), and Cami (who's come back home after being dumped from her boyfriend because of her compulsive gambling habit- and she's forced to live with her alcoholic father). All four women are in the town of Haven and are Cami, Anna, and Amy were previously friends when they were younger.

What I love about this story is that it's real. All four characters have their own storyline and the author jumps from character to character perfectly. You can relate to all four characters without a problem and you are rooting for them. I read this book in two days because I really couldn't put it down.

All of the characters are driven by the sentiment that every decision that you make should push you towards the life that you have always imagined for yourself. It might require a tough decision, it might require that you give up temporary happiness but it ultimately should be worth it in the end.

Will Maeve really meet up with her estranged husband? Will Anna forgive her father for leaving and her mother for pining over him all of these years later? Does Anna rekindle her relationship with Will, her first love, despite him being married? Does Cami ever stand up to her father and learn to overcome her gambling addiction? Will Amy decide to marry her fiance.....or will she leave him and take up with a new found friend, Ed?

I obviously know all of the answers to these questions, but it keeps you intrigued and you are constantly racing to the next chapter to see what is going to happen. I highly recommend this book and I am pretty excited to delve into Ms. Riggles other books. And I'm going to say that I related to each of these characters in different ways and it made me think about those in my life that are very much like these characters a little differently. It's always nice when you can gain a perspective that you otherwise might not have had.

But with that.....would you like to read this? Leave a comment on THIS post and one lucky reader will get my copy of this book. I will draw a name on Saturday- so hurry up!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lies My Mother Never Told Me

I was asked to review Kaylie Jones' book Lies My Mother Never Told Me through TLC Book Tours. I had actually seen this book at the library and didn't get it because the kids wanted to GO and so I figured I would just add it to my reserved list but I never got that far. When it came up as an option to review I jumped on it because something about the title pulls at me, you know?

Lies My Mother Never Told Me: A MemoirTo give the quick and dirty synopsis, Kaylie Jones is the daughter of James Jones, who was an award winning author of many novels including his most famous, From Here to Eternity and her mother Gloria who was fiercely intelligent with a mouth to back it up. Unfortunately for Kaylie, her father dies when she is in her teenage years and she is left with her brother and her mother, whom is developing into a raging alcoholic. Kaylie's father asks her on his death bed to basically help her mother not drink herself to death so she lives for decades under this pressure to follow through on his wishes.

The problem is that obviously you can't help someone who doesn't recognize they have a problem and others around them think there isn't a problem. It was until Kaylie realized her own drinking is out of hand and she admits she is an alcoholic that she recognizes her mothers problem. Kaylie really struggles with the criticism she gets from her mom and she is really stifled in her own life because she dreads what she's going to get from her mom because of it.

My favorite passage of the whole book was: "We cathect an object narcissistically..when we experience it not as the center of its own activity but as a part of ourselves. If the object does not behave as we expect or wish, we may at times be immeasurably disappointed or offended." In my mind, I could hear my mother saying "How can you listen to such shit? You have no taste in music." My mother could never say "I don't like strawberries". For her, it was always, "How could you eat strawberries? They are the most disgusting fruit in the world." A parent suffering from narcissistic disturbances sees her child only as a mirror image of herself.... What these mothers had once failed to find in their own mothers they were able to find in their children: someone at their disposal who can be used as an echo, who can be controlled, is completely centered on them, will never desert them, and offers full attention and admiration. But , of course, a child cannot help but be a child. A child grows fussy, sometimes rejecting, sometimes demanding, easily exhausted, and exhausting. My mother had no patience for any of this. She adored me - as she was quick to announce - but she could only tolerate my presence in very small doses."

I had to stop reading for two days just to take it in and digest that. It rocked my world. I couldn't believe that this is normal, really, and that there is a name for it. To turn the personal table around- my mom was one of six kids, she was the only daughter. Her mother made it very clear that she did not like my mom. At all. It's really a bizarre feeling and I can't imagine what my mom felt like. The boys were adored but my mom was treated like a slave. She is very close to her father, probably because her mother abandoned the family when the youngest boys, twins, were only two. My mom had to step into role as care taker for everyone. Growing up my mom assumed this was normal until she had my brother and I and realized it had nothing to do with my mom. It was her mother who had the problem.

My mom and I have had a pretty good relationship for the most part. There have been times where I felt I was treated unfairly simply because I was the oldest and I was a girl. She wanted me to do big things with my life because I was a girl and she knew I'd face adversity simply because of what I was. And I'm glad she pushed me. But growing up, I can say I felt like anything I did wasn't really important. My parents were never the help-at-school type, take our friends to fun things, etc. It was a miracle I was ever able to have sleepovers. At the time I was angry but now I get it. It's just not who they are. I have made some decisions as an adult that my mom disagreed with me on and made it very clear I was making a huge mistake. There have been times where I felt like maybe there was something wrong with me. But as god as my witness- my mom is awesome. I love her to the moon and back and I have no right to complain because I know she did the best she could for us. And still does.

And let's turn it around as me as a parent. I struggle. I'm not even going to lie. I love both of my kids equally but I feel more of a connection to Jackson. Is it because I suffered post partum depression after Olivia for her entire first year? I didn't really bond with her for the first year of her life- I was mostly crying and praying I could make it all stop. Is it because I was going through a rough time in my marriage while pregnant to Jackson? I clung to that baby like he was my lifeline. I don't know. But I know that each and every day I struggle. The non stop crying, the arguing, the fighting over the blue marker when we have 6 others on the table, the fact I never get to sit down and be old Sara? All of it plus more makes me think MAYBE I wasn't meant to be a mom. THIS is the stuff they should tell you. You should have to go through a rigorous testing to be able to have a baby. It's serious and the demands put on you are like no other. Make no mistake- one baby is easy. EASY. Put more than one kid in the mix and suddenly everything is a battle. It's hard and god help me, I don't know if I would do it again. And that? Terrifies me. And keeps me up some nights. I don't know what that makes me but I know I try to be the absolute best mom I can be. Because they deserve it.

I could go for HOURS on this but I won't. I want you to get this book. If you've ever had a relationship with a parent that has been strained- please, please, please read this book. It will help you more than you know.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The time I got stuck.

Let me begin this story by telling you that I always forget it happened. Kind of like what happens when something super embarrassing and/or traumatic happens to a person- they either forget the details or suppress the entire thing from their head all together. Which is all fine and good until every time you go shopping with say....your mom and brother...and they laugh hysterically reliving it.

So I don't remember how old I was but I think it was around 12 or so. My mom brought my brother and I to Target to get some stuff because she obviously didn't think we were mature enough to be home alone. Or just assumed we'd fight the entire time, in which case she was right.

I will admit that at most times during the day I kind of space out and often have to be brought back down into the real world and join the rest of society. This shopping trip was similar- I am positive I was just wandering around following my mom. Thankfully, at age 12 she no longer required that I hang onto the cart for fear that I'd be kidnapped. I mean, I was a super cute kid- prime for child abduction. So I'm walking and BAM!

I realize I'm stuck. Like super stuck. Like my head is trapped and I don't know why. I don't know if I cried, but knowing myself like I do, I wouldn't put it passed me. But then I call for my mom who turns around and starts laughing.

LAUGHING when her child is possibly being abducted from the ceiling or something. I could have been in the process of having my head ripped off but no, there's my mom- laughing. And then my brother is laughing. And I'm calling for my mom to help me and I'm asking her what I should do because I'm obviously stuck and I don't want to die at age 12 in a Target.

To which she says, in between fits of hysterical laughter and tears streaming down her face, "Just bend your legs, Sara!!!"

Know what I got stuck under?

The price checker they mount to an end cap beam, kind of like this one.
I'll just take my "Queen of Air Heads" patch at this time. And this my dear lambwhores and goatsluts? Is why I'm qualified to be your leader.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Book Review: NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, by Carlene Bauer

Ok lambs/goats, it's time for another book review. I actually have a BUNCH of books that I need to review, but I'm going to lump those all together in a mega post for this weekend maybe (stay tuned) but I am reviewing this book for TLC Book Tours.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL (memoir) by Carlene Bauer

Not That Kind of Girl: A Memoir
Here is the book description:
Raised in evangelical churches that preached apocalypse now, Carlene Bauer grows up happy to oblige the God who presides over her New Jersey girlhood. But in high school and college, her intellectual and spiritual horizons widen, and she becomes skeptical of the judgmental God she's been given. Still, she finds it hard to let go of the ideals she's been raised with, and to rebel as she knows she should. She loves rock and roll, but politely declines offers of sex and drugs; she thinks the Bible and the Norton Anthology of American Literature are equally authoritative guides to life. Since there are no churches worshipping the Jesus Paul Westerberg sang about in "Can't Hardly Wait," and no tidy categories for those who are neither riot grrrls nor altar girls, she hovers between a hunger for the world and a suspicion of it. In her twenties, however, determined to make up for lost time, Bauer undertakes a belated and often comic coming-of-age in New York City. Between late blooming at parties and staying late at work, it seems that she might become as bold as she'd hoped to be—even if the late blooming is a little more hapless than highly erotic. And yet the city and its pleasures do not distract her from another hope: that she might learn how to have a faith that she can truly call her own. Enter the Catholic Church, and a conversion. But then she falls in love, and loses her religion—which leaves her wondering just what it means to be good. Sharply written, hilarious, and touching, Not That Kind of Girl is the story of one young woman's efforts to define worldliness, ambition, and love on her own terms—while believing in, among other things, The Smiths, Virginia Woolf, and the transformative power of New York City. Fellow restless seekers will find solace in Bauer's struggle to create meaning in the face of overwhelming doubt, and fall in love with the highly original voice at the center of this unforgettable debut.

And here's my take:
I want to be honest with you and tell you that despite the fact that I am not a religious person and to be totally frank with you- I think it's basically a bunch of hooey... I wanted to read this book badly. The description sounds fantastic, doesn't it? But I am nothing if not honest...I was really underwhelmed by the book.

First off, you know right away that Carlene is SMART. Like she's the super smart girl in class that has few friends, is socially awkward, but you just know is going to be doing something requiring brains. And she does. She's incredibly educated and just meant to be writing. So points for her for getting her career right the first time. But with that, she kicks herself in the foot. Which is my way of saying- if you are going to write a book, sometimes you have to dumb it down. Mostly because I was not happy with having to look up words. I'm not joking, I had SUCH a hard time reading this book because of how she structures paragraphs and uses words I have only maybe heard on national spelling bees. Yikes. (Fun secret- I love how she has no problem with admitting her love with Sylvia Plath. Ugh- if you haven't ever read The Bell Jar then you need to hustle to the library. Stunning piece of work. But I really love Sylvia Plath and like Carlene, am always braced for the looks you get when you admit that.)

With all of that out of the way- it's not a must read. I felt like she really didn't tell a story. Sure, she was confused about religion and how to abide by the constraints of how she was raised but still enjoy the college experience without permanently damming herself to Hell or purgatory or whatever. But seriously- figure it out. And stick with it. I don't know what the purpose of this book was because honestly? The back cover description was so deceiving. And I didn't find it hilarious. I didn't crack a smile through the whole thing.

But the parts I did find endearing? Were her relationships with guys. Now, you don't really ever know if she dated these guys. Plenty of guys were into her and she didn't know it and through the book you just want to shake her and say KISS HIM ALREADY but she doesn't. And then doesn't understand that pushing a guy away isn't really an invitation for him to kiss you. Which is true for a lot of young women, so if you are like that then you might relate better to this book than I did.

My thing with memoirs, which I love, is that I like to leave the book feeling like I am walking away with something to think about in my own life, or feel like I had connected with the author through their story. I don't feel that way with this one and that's a bummer because I wanted to really like this book. And I don't think this could be even construed as an attack on religion or Christianity at all- I think it is the normal plight with people who grow up thinking that maybe the things you grew up on are not how you want to live your life....then trying to reconcile that.

So while I didn't enjoy it, it doesn't mean that you won't. If you are a lost 20-something, this may be for you. If you are conflicted with the beliefs you grew up with and trying to make those fit with the lifestyle everyone around you has- this may be for you. If you've read this I would like to hear your take on it.