Category Archives: General Book Talk

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart

If you know me, you know I love authors.  I love to listen to them talk about their books, about their writing process, about their view the world, about the books the love to read.  I’m also loyal to authors.  If I like a book, I will continue to follow that author to see what they will come up with next.

If you know me, you also know I’ve been in a reading slump – planning a wedding and getting married takes a lot of brain power and time!  So when Nicole Baart, (an author I’ve followed since I read her book The Moment Between in 2009) posted on Facebook that she was looking for members of a “street team” for her newest book, The Beautiful Daughters, I applied!  The opportunity to read an Advanced Reader’s Copy, offer it for a giveaway, and then to receive a copy of the book when it is published on April 28, 2015 – I love stuff like that!  I was tickled to be chosen for her Street Team and for The Beautiful Daughters to be the first book I read in 2015.  Bonus:  She sent her favorite chocolates, book marks, signed book plates, and homemade soap made receipt of the package even sweeter!

Below is the description of the book from the Digital Catalog at Atria Publishing (a branch of Simon and Schuster), the tentative cover design, and a little info about Nicole Baart, the author.

Below that is my review and details on how you can get your hands on my ARC!!

The Beautiful Daughters – 

The Beautiful Daughters by Nicole Baart
The Beautiful Daughters
by Nicole Baart

From the author of Sleeping in Eden, described as “intense and absorbing from the very first page” (Heather Gudenkauf, author of The Weight of Silence), comes a gripping new novel about two former best friends and the secrets they can’t escape.

Adrienne Vogt and Harper Penny were closer than sisters, until the day a tragedy blew their seemingly idyllic world apart. Afraid that they got away with murder and unable to accept who they had lost—and what they had done—Harper and Adri exiled themselves from small-town Blackhawk, Iowa, and from each other. Adri ran thousands of miles away to Africa while Harper ventured down a more destructive path closer to home.

Now, five years later, both are convinced that nothing could ever coax them out of the worlds in which they’ve been living. But unexpected news from home soon pulls Adri and Harper back together, and the two cannot avoid facing their memories and guilt head-on. As they are pulled back into the tangle of their fractured relationships and the mystery of Piperhall, the sprawling estate where their lives first began to unravel, secrets and lies behind the tragic accident are laid bare. The former best friends are forced to come to terms with their shared past and search for the beauty in each other while mending the brokenness in themselves.

Nicole Baart’s lush and lyrical writing has been called “sparkling” (Publishers Weekly), “taut and engrossing” (Booklist), and “evocative and beautiful” (Romantic Times). The Beautiful Daughters is another exquisitely rendered, haunting story that will stay with readers long after the last page.


Nicole BaartNicole Baart is the mother of four children from four different countries. The cofounder of a non-profit organization, One Body One Hope, she lives in a small town in Iowa. She is the author of seven previous novels, including, most recently, Sleeping in Eden. Find out more at NicoleBaart.com.

My review:

I really enjoyed this book.  I love books with rich character development.  I love beautiful descriptions.  This book has all that, plus a suspenseful plot with insight into how tragedy affects people.  The book also tackles sensitive topics, but I don’t want to spoil the suspense.

Some of the passages that I re-read and bent the pages for include:

Regarding Adri’s father, Sam:

“Her father was one such daydreamer, the kind of man who spoke volumes in silences and heard God whisper in the song of distant stars keeping watch over the land that he plowed.”

Regarding Adri’s fiance’, David:

“In his personal life he was sensible and composed, able to take up and set aside the mantle of a playboy as easily as donning a coat.  To laugh and joke and drink until his imposing mother slipped into the room, a quiet and watchful revenant whose presence instantly sobered and reined in her son.”

Regarding The Five:

“Jackson was hand in hand with Nora, a new girlfriend who didn’t quite fit.  Harper couldn’t help resenting her.  When Nora was around, they were quick to pair up, but when it was just the five of them, they were a unit.  A fist clenched tight.”

This book is about young adults who meet at a small college in Blackhawk, Iowa.  Adri and her brother Will grew up on a farm in Blackhawk, and David grew up at Piperhall, a mansion down the road.  Along with Harper and Jackson, The Five become fast friends and spend most of their out-of-school time playing grown-up at Piperhall and when Harper suggests a trip to commemorate their college graduation and mark endings and new beginnings, they are unaware of the tragic event that will happen and change their lives forever.  They scatter – Adri to Africa and Harper into dark relationships – and are called home five years later when the matriarch of Piperhall dies.

This is a page-turner and I’m so thankful it was the first book I read in 2015!

Now, to get your hands on my Advanced Readers Copy, please COMMENT BELOW with the FIRST BOOK YOU READ OR ARE READING in 2015!  If you share this blog post on Facebook or Twitter (and share the link), you 10933699_10152994556774210_1188091013014551439_nwill get extra entries!

I’ll pick a winner WEDNESDAY JANUARY 28.

There shall be eternal summer in the grateful heart. ~Celia Thaxter

Always so much to be thankful for!  We are marching in to June and the calendar is filled with fun things on the days that work isn’t scheduled (and even on some days when work is scheduled!).

Here are a few things I am thankful for from the past few weeks —

  • Friday nights!  Spent a seemingly rare Friday night off at Jabbers (and evidently the last Friday night we’ll spend there, as it just closed!) getting in some Jabbering with Jabber Juice.  Fun fun.   And even after work last Friday night, it was fun to sit outside on the patio at Fat Willy’s!  Fridays still rock!
Love this selfie with Rushford in the background!
Love this selfie with Rushford in the background!
  • Rushford friends and family – had a lot of fun showing Chris around Rushford – the bluff, the new coffee shop – and hanging out with friends.  Take Note! sang at the ExpoCulinaria and it was a lot of fun with good food tastes and good company!  Followed by more good food and a good campfire at Brenda and Roger’s!  It was chilly so that fire felt good!  It was a Starry Starry Night!
  • Speaking of Starry Starry Nights – loved the time with Beth at the painting event by Wine & Canvas!  It was a challenging painting but I think we did a respectable job – and it was so fun!
Love Starry Night with Rochester Wine & Canvas!  And Beth!
Love Starry Night with Rochester Wine & Canvas! And Beth!
  • Memorial Day weekend I had to work overnights, but I still was able to indulge in a last minute invitation to hear Temple Grandin speak on Friday night, followed by coffee at Chester’s!  And Monday Chris and I went for a good meal on a rainy afternoon before I went in for night four. I always manage to fit in the important stuff!
Love last minute invitations and loved hearing Temple Grandin again!  She's something!
Love last minute invitations and loved hearing Temple Grandin again! She’s something!
  • Trajan turned 15 in May and we celebrated him at Texas Roadhouse!  I also love that I’ve been able to help out and drive him to his basketball practices in the Cities and to watch him play a few games.  He’s on a competitive team and they are all so fun to watch!
Love this kid who isn't afraid of the saddle on his 15th birthday!
Love this kid who isn’t afraid of the saddle on his 15th birthday!
  • The weather has been great so I have been getting in some great walks!  Some with friends, some with Chris, and some with his daughter and granddaughter.  It’s been fun to play with a 2 year old again!
Love this guy and love hanging out with a 2 year old every once in a while!  It's been a while...
Love this guy and love hanging out with a 2 year old every now and then! It’s been a while…
  • Books – I’m finally on a little reading streak!  I finished Allegiant, moved on to The Fault in Our Stars (heartbreakingly beautiful… just lovely), and Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (a fun little read with dares all over NYC!).  I bought a used Kindle so it’s exciting to fill it up (it holds a TON!) and look forward to reading it at the end of the dock.
  • Audiobooks – I’ve officially been an Audible member for a year!  Yikes… I have purchased more than I’ve listened to (sound familiar??  I guess I’m growing my TBL (To Be Listened to) pile, as well!).  I tend to buy the long books that I want to read but doubt I’ll have the time or stamina for.  So far I’ve listened to 11.22.63, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Fin & Lady, Ready Player One, The End of the Affair, The Goldfinch, and The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog.  I’m currently listening to Whistling Past the Graveyard for book club (if they don’t give up on me!).  Love listening in the car, still, but much less commuting time so now it’s while puttering around.  Love it!
  • Movies – always thankful for movies!  Movie nights at home on the couch, movies while trying to sleep, movies in the theatre with a tub of popcorn.  Love them!  This month in the theatre I’ve seen Neighbors (pretty funny, Seth Rogan stuff) and Belle (interesting story about Britain’s position in the slave trade business).  From Netflix on DVD I’ve seen Here Comes the Boom (very funny and fun!) and Love Is All You Need (unexpected story about Danish people traveling to Italy for a wedding, with Pierce Brosnon! Pretty good!).  Mindless instant viewing includes Drop Dead Diva (series) and The Sweetest Thing (Cameron Diaz craziness that was pretty fun).
  • Of course, Jimmy Fallon always makes me laugh, which is a thing to be greatly thankful for.  Fun stuff.  Look for his clips if you can’t commit to an entire week of shows!  🙂

As usual, I have much to look forward to, as well.  We are working fewer weekends than last summer, so I’m looking forward to that!  I am penciling in fun plans with friends and family – so give a shout if you want to get together!  Let’s make this the best summer ever!

If a June night could talk, it would probably boast it invented romance. ~Bern Williams

Where did January go?

It’s hard to believe that today is the last day of January 2014.  I haven’t written my 2013 re-cap yet, I haven’t thought much about goals or theme for 2014, I haven’t even organized photos for my photo book for 2012 yet!

But all the “haven’t”s are only because I have been doing so much.  Here’s what I’m thankful for today —

  • Chris and I found a delicious authentic Mexican restaurant – and I crave it almost daily!  Can’t wait to go back there.

    Yummy!
    Yummy!
  • Got through another weekend of overnights, and was able to have dinner with Marissa one day and with Chris and his daughter the day I was recovering.  Working overnights makes me want to hibernate and put life on hold, but it doesn’t hurt to fit in a little social life!  I’m thankful I don’t work all overnights, but can’t wait to try to spread them out even more. 🙂
  • On a day off, Chris and I were very close eyewitnesses to a woman driving through the exit door at my local Target.  We were the last people out that door, and I looked her in the eye as she backed up and slowly drove away.  I felt scared that she was going to use her vehicle as a weapon against us, because it appeared intentional, so I am very thankful that everyone was safe and that I wasn’t alone in experiencing it!  Koni was inside the store and saw it from a different angle… quite a story!
  • And then NYC… how to recap that in a few short words?  Travel in January is not without its complications – the flight was delayed out of Rochester and we nearly missed the last flight from Chicago to NYC that night, but we arrived – as did our luggage! Our flight home was cancelled, so we were able to enjoy one more full day in NYC – and we made the best of it!  Our flight out of O’Hare was delayed delayed delayed, but eventually we made it home.  And the trip was so much fun… I’ll write more about that in another blog.  Monday.  🙂

    Cheers!
    Cheers!
  • January 30 is the 2 year anniversary of my employment at Mayo Clinic – and I got to enjoy it with a day off!  Yesterday and today I have been able to take care of things at home (laundry, mail, groceries), enjoy time at Caribou with Chris and a book, go to the ED book club, attend an author talk at the library, and now tonight a BBB game.
  • By the skin of my teeth (and with the help of Sparknotes summaries!) I finished reading “A Farewell to Arms” by Ernest Hemingway for book club last night.  Hemingway really has an interesting writing style, which is not my favorite, but he and his life still fascinate me.  I was able to set my DVR from NYC to record the movie on TCM – so I can’t wait to watch it.  All 2 hours 45 minutes of it.
  • The talk at the library was by Allison McGhee, author of “Shadow Baby.”  I haven’t read anything she has written, but I will now.  I am always fascinated by author discussions and she was not a let down.  She was able to speak eloquently about her insecurities and her writing process.  She said she reads poetry every morning, and that sounds like something I’d like to do.  She also talked about writing exercises, and I think I’ll do one!

Things I’m looking forward to in early February –

  • I look forward to organizing my NYC photos and blogging about the trip!
  • I “get to” take a class, which starts Friday!  I’m working on my clinical license and have to get some “hours” in different content areas and this class will help a lot.  I’m thankful that the class will be very relevant to my job, but I’m dreading the actual work of taking a class.  I have homework due before I even go to class, so I’ll be looking at that this weekend.  The books have arrived, so now I’ll get organized.  It’s one Friday per month, so I can do it.  And I’m thankful for an ED colleague who is also taking the class – she will keep me motivated and on top of things!
  • Next weekend is SocialICE downtown Rochester!  I have gone every year with Kristine and a varied group of people, and this year is no exception!  Saturday night we will be enjoying the bands, the weather, the beautiful ice sculptures, and the company of fun people!  Can’t wait!
  • Just bought tickets to see Jeremy Messersmith at FIrst Ave for Marissa’s birthday!  Looking forward to spending her birthday with her!  Yay!
  • Although I work on Valentine’s Day, I will actually have a Valentine this year!  That’s something to look forward to, right???  Wow.  Thankful for him.  🙂

I’ll end with the quote that I adopted for my January photo album on Facebook.  I think it’s a great sentiment and I hope to live up to it!  (And I hope to read something by Neil Gaimon in 2014, too!)

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.  

—Neil Gaiman

It’s 2014 – and other things making me happy…

2014

Time… keeps marching, doesn’t it?

Here’s a list of things that have made me happy since Christmas –

  • Christmas with the family on the Ponderosa.  A snowfall, a bonfire, good food and laughs with family.  Bliss.
  • “Phantom of the Opera” at the Orpheum with Marissa and my mom (and Mo’s friend, Tricia).  The music didn’t disappoint, the set was beautiful, and the chandelier dropping made me jump!  Good stuff…
  • Lots of Laughs (LOL) with Land O’ Lakes (LOL) at their Christmas party at Goonie’s Comedy Club!
  • New Year’s Day movie watching with Jenny and Chris – The Secret Life of Walter Mitty at the Wehrenberg (loved it!), and take-out Chinese and Don Jon via my new AppleTV (also making me happy – thanks Chris!).
  • The day-after-New-Year’s-Day movie watching with Marie – Saving Mr. Banks – a tear-jerker, for sure!
  • A “Grand Getaway” to Minneapolis (and St. Paul) – the Minnesota History Center for Speakeasy Saturday, a double-date with Deadra and John to see Lorna Landvik at her Party in the Rec Room at the Bryant Lake Bowl, followed by a retro-bar crawl to Nye’s and Honey and brunch at Ike’s.  Good stuff.  I’m a lucky gal.  🙂
  • Celebrating Chris Riggle’s birthday with her today!  Pizza and brownies… nothing fancy but it was sure delicious!  It was fun to catch up!
  • I made my Goodreads goal for 2013 – 32 books read.  I set my goal for this year at 36 and am optimistic that I can make it.  🙂  I’ll continue with Audible for a little while longer, but I’m collecting enough that I have a few banked up to read!  Below is a list of the books I read in 2013 – looking forward to hitting more in my TBR pile in 2014!

Looking forward to spending more time reflecting on what my theme for 2014 will be… do you set New Year’s Resolutions or goals?

Happy (Belated) New Year!!

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns)
Wishin' and Hopin'
Perfect
Pope Joan
Mad About the Boy (Bridget Jones, #3)
Paris Was the Place
Falling Together
Freud's Mistress
The End of the Affair
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
Ready Player One
Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell, #1)
Fin & Lady: A Novel
My One Square Inch of Alaska
The Night Circus
The Promise of Provence: A Novel
11/22/63
Little Wolves
Stories I Only Tell My Friends
Elizabeth the First Wife
The Accidental Tourist
Sick Girl
The Silver Linings Playbook
Gone with the Wind
A Week in Winter
84, Charing Cross Road
Tell the Wolves I'm Home
Silencing Sam (Riley Spartz, #3)
Mistletoe Mischief
Swim
Missing Mark (Riley Spartz, #2)
The Next Best Thing
A Highlander for Christmas (Children of the Mist, #5)
Forget Me Knot
Stalking Susan (Riley Spartz, #1)
Shunning Sarah (Riley Spartz, #5)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Postmistress
High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky
 

12.24.13 What’s Making Me Happy

Merry Christmas everyone!  It has been so long since I posted (more than a month!) and I’ve done many things, so I’ll try to catch up with a whirlwind post of what’s making me happy:

  • I love firsts – even the first day of winter!  It means the days are getting longer and we are heading towards spring, instead of away from summer.  There was a year when I had a party for every first day of the season (or last day of the season, depending on where it landed in the week).  Maybe someday I’ll reprise, but for now know that I quietly celebrated and remember.
  • I’ve seen movies –

On Netflix DVDs:  

  • Frances Ha (a girl wants to pursue dancing career – and avoid growing up!), 
  • The Kings of Summer (boys build a home in the woods to avoid their families), 
  • Smashed (a married couple goes separate ways when one decides to be sober)
  • and at home right now is The Salt of Life (an Italian movie starring the man in Mid-August Lunch, the inspiration for Ferragosto!)
National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My Christmas DVD Traditions: 

  • Elf
  • Love, Actually
  • The Holiday
  • Family Stone
  • Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas

On Netflix Streaming:

And in the Theatre:

  • About Time (I loved this so!  I thought it had such a great message of how to live life… soooo good!  Bummed that it didn’t stay in the theatre long – I will be buying this!), 
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (So fun to see this with the girl who loves it best – Gracie.  We went on opening night, so the theatre was filled with other lovers of the series, and there were cheers and boos and sighs throughout.  A good movie!), 
  • Dallas  Buyers Club (Not a feel good movie at all, but outstanding performances, and a thought-provoking glimpse into the government/ pharmacology difficulties in obtaining medications.), 
  • Philomena (a great British film about a woman who goes in search of the son that was taken from her in the 50s while she was “banished” to a convent as an unwed mother – great story, great performances, great movie),  
  • Delivery Man (Vince Vaughn finds out his sperm-donating days have wielded him a passel!  It was not as funny as I like Vince to be, but it was a pretty good movie), 
  • Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (and so it does.  The story is original and the point they make about 24 hour media is pretty spot-on. Not great, but not a bad sequel.), and 
  • American Hustle (I love that “some of this really happened” was the tag line at the beginning of the movie.  Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence were amazing, and the story was fun to follow. )
I do indeed...
I do indeed…

As always during the holidays, there have been Musical Events:

  • Crossings At Carnegie – Becky Schlegel and the 48 High – a great, intimate setting, with fun music – a little country, a little bluegrass!  
  • Messiah “Sing In” – Always a treat to go with Beth!  This year Vicki went as well!  The music seemed harder to sing, but it was a great night.  
  • Take Note! and Winona Brass Band – our concert has been a tradition since 2006 – isn’t that amazing?  It always goes by so fast, but is a fun night at the beginning of the holiday season! 
  • Christmas program at church – Even though it was only 20 minutes long between church services, I was glad to get to the program!  Good smiles, good songs… 
  • Take Note! party – Mom and Dad opened their house for the Christmas party for the choir.  Everyone brought delicious food, we had good weather, good laughs, watched our concert, and had a relaxing afternoon.
  • Festival of Lessons and Carols at the Chapel at St. Mary’s – Gracie has been singing with her choir at this concert for a few years.  It’s a nice time to reflect on the season, listen to beautiful choral music, handbell choirs, and to sing favorite hymns.
  • Dan Chouinard and Peter Ostroushko – Such a great evening of singing and music!  The ability of these two men is awe inspiring, and they make it look effortless.  Such a great Christmas tradition I hope I will do every year!
Next year I may make a Christmas tree out of books
Next year I may make a Christmas tree out of books

I’ve read some books: 

  • Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding – It’s nice to hear Bridget’s voice again, although she really should grow up, right? It’s a fun read with Bridget antics and a few precious moments.  
  • Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross – Read this for the book club in the ED.  It’s amazing how I never want to read historical fiction and then enjoy it a lot.  This takes place in the 800s and it’s fun to read about their education, religion and beliefs.  Good discussion!  
  • Perfect by Autumn Jordan – Very short Christmas story!  Trying to “pad” my book numbers for 2013!  
  • Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine – on audio – a story about a young man being raised by his older sister.  A good story, which probably would have been better if I had a more consistent listening schedule.  🙂  
  •  Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Mindy Kaling – Currently listening to this on audio – I love Mindy and can’t wait to listen further. 
  • Wishin’ & Hopin’ by Wally Lamb – another short Christmas story – hoping to maybe make my goal of 32 books in 2013!  
  • Next on my list is Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – hear it’s a great YA book!  

football_santa

And then I’ve made it to a few sporting events – 

  • Wrestling – I spent an afternoon watching cousin Trevor wrestle – well, I waited all afternoon to watch Trevor wrestle once, as he had a win by forfeit in his second match of the day and I missed his first one! 🙂  He wrestled hard and I hope to make a few more meets this winter.  
  • Basketball – Trajan is playing Junior Varsity for Mayo, and I’ve made a few of his games so far, hoping for more!  Gracie and Rees will also be playing, so hope I can get to some of those, as well!  

Phew!  I wonder how many will make it to the end of this long list!  I’m hoping to blog again before the end of 2013 so let’s see if that happens!  I know that the days ahead are filled – with work, with fun events, and with family time.  

Christmas

 

I hope that your Christmas holidays are as blessed and a blessing to you!  

11.12.13 – What is Making Me Happy

First, the date.  11-12-13 – How fun is that?  I guess it’s the big wedding date of the year – what will next year’s big date be?  12-13-14 I guess.

Other things making me happy –

On the reading front…

  • I’m feeling a little bit like I got my reading groove back!  Yay!
  • Since “Freud’s Mistress,” I’ve read “Falling Together” by Marisa de los Santos,
  • “Paris was the Place” by Susan Conley (see review here) and
  • “My One Square Inch of Alaska” by Sharon Short (for FC book group next week).
  • I’m currently reading (and flying through!) “Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy” by Helen Fielding,
  • and listening on audio (slowly) “Finn & Lady” by Cathleen Schine.
  • Woot!

    QUESTLOVE
    QUESTLOVE (Photo credit: thetortmaster)
  • I think the moral to this story for me is that I need to read books of my choosing rather than for book tours and blogging for a while. I have enjoyed the books I’ve read for book tours, but find that I read them even slower than normal and the blogging aspect adds even more time.
  • Hopefully I can crank out (and enjoy!) a few more before the end of 2013!
  • Next on my reading list are “Pope Joan” for the ED book club,
  • and “Mo’Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove” by Questlove and Ben Greenman.
  • Then maybe I’ll FINALLY read “Winter Garden” by Kristin Hannah, and some other seasonal reads.

On the film front:

  • On DVD or streaming on Netflix:  “The Oranges,” – a slightly disturbing story about a college aged girl who starts dating her dad’s best friend and neighbor; “Springbreakers,” – a very disturbing story about spring break gone awry, jumpy and weird; “Bachelorrette” – a story about a bride who asks high school friends to be in her wedding, even though they were mean to her in high school, interestinglly famous cast;  “Mike Birbiglia‘s: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” – stand up routine by this guy… love his stuff;
  • and in the theatre on a mid-week date night, “Enough Said.”  Elaine Bennis (Julie Louis-Dreyfuss) and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfino) meet and begin dating.  It’s James Gandolfino’s last film and it was a very sweet story.  Lots of good discussions – in the movie and after.

On the social front:

  • Lots of great dates with Chris – whether it’s cooking a meal, eating out, going to football games, exploring the SPAM Museum, watching DVDs or going to movies, we have a good time.
  • Met some girls at 4 Daughters’ Winery for a delicious afternoon lunch and conversation!  Was a great time and hope to do it again soon!
  • Had 1:1 time with great friends, as well – Beth came to Rochester and we hit consignment shops and had a great lunch and some coffee, had a birthday lunch with Ellen last week, and Vicki and I shared a bottle of wine in Mom and Dad’s basement, discussing life!
  • The SPAM Museum with Chris and Marissa was a ton o’ fun… I don’t know what it is about that place!  Maybe the SPAMples we ate throughout our time there, the gift store with everything SPAM you can imagine, or the knowledge that was absorbed, as evidenced by the SPAM game show.  Fun fun times.
  • I went to the ED Book Club for the first time last night to discuss a book I recommended to them and read in 1998!  I didn’t re-read it but read the SparksNotes for Angela’s Ashes, and there was great discussion with people I don’t know very well.  Was a fun night and I’ll go again!
  • Feel like I’ve been working a lot, but I guess no more than normal.  Just recovering from overnights, so a little brain dead yet today.
Spam Museum
Spam Museum (Photo credit: isNoOp)

And so I’ll close… I feel a little bad that I’m not participating in the month of Gratitude leading up to Thanksgiving… the days fly by and there is always something to be thankful for.  I’m working this Thanksgiving, so I am trying to figure out what I can do to celebrate in some way.  I’m thankful for TimeHop App which tells me what I posted on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare for the last 5 years, so that I can remember all the good things that have gone on before… Life is good!

What is making YOU happy??

Paris Was the Place

Paris Was The Place

Storytelling.

“Paris was the Place” is a story about a poetry teacher, Willow (Willie) Pears, who moves to France to be near her older brother and her college roommate.   It’s 1989 and she teaches poetry at a University and begins volunteering at an immigration center where girls who are in France illegally are kept while they await their asylum hearings.  She works with the girls to find the words to tell their stories which they will tell the judge.

An integral part of the story is the relationship that Willie and her brother, Luke, have with their mother and father while growing up, and the relationship she has with her brother in the present.  She is still hurting from her mother’s death and feeling estranged from her father.  Luke is her connection to the past and her reason for being in France at the present.  Willie navigates Paris streets and neighborhoods, the Paris immigration system for the girls whose stories she elicits, a new relationship with a divorced immigration lawyer with a young son, and her brother’s mysterious illness.  She becomes entranced by the lives of the girls seeking asylum and goes a little too far to help one of them.  It jeopardizes her new relationship with Macon, the lawyer, and her friends, but she is forgiven.

Her brother’s illness is a pall that hangs over the entire book and sometimes paralyzes Willie.  But Willie is awarded the opportunity to go to India to meet with the daughter of the famous poet, Sarojini, in the hopes that she will be trusted to write a book about her story, and she is able to make the trip reluctantly.  Willie loved the poetry written by this Indian woman and is honored that she is able to take the words home with her study.

Willie has always been enamored with words and their meanings.  In this book she gives words and meaning to the lives of the girls at the immigration center, to her mother’s life and death, and to her brother’s illness.  Storytelling.  This book is about a teacher and storyteller.  It’s about the power of words in relationships and it’s about forgiveness and hope.

SYNOPSIS

With her new novel, Paris Was the Place (Knopf, 2013), Susan Conley offers a beautiful meditation on how much it matters to belong: to a family, to a country, to any one place, and how this belonging can mean the difference in our survival. Novelist Richard Russo calls Paris Was the Place, “by turns achingly beautiful and brutally unjust, as vividly rendered as its characters, whose joys and struggles we embrace as our own.”

When Willie Pears begins teaching at a center for immigrant girls in Paris all hoping for French asylum, the lines between teaching and mothering quickly begin to blur. Willie has fled to Paris to create a new family, and she soon falls for Macon, a passionate French lawyer. Gita, a young girl at the detention center, becomes determined to escape her circumstances, no matter the cost. And just as Willie is faced with a decision that could have dire consequences for Macon and the future of the center, her brother is taken with a serious, as-yet-unnamed illness. The writer Ayelet Waldman calls Paris Was the Place “a gorgeous love story and a wise, intimate journal of dislocation that examines how far we’ll go for the people we love most.” Named on the Indie Next List for August 2013 and on the Slate Summer Reading List, this is a story that reaffirms the ties that bind us to one another.

Release date: August 7, 2013.

Pages: 354

Publisher link: http://www.randomhouse.com/book/204489/paris-was-the-place-by-susan-conley

ISBN: 978-0-307-59407-5

Buying links:

http://www.randomhouse.com/book/204489/paris-was-the-place-by-susan-conley

http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Was-Place-Susan-Conley/dp/0307594076

http://www.amazon.com/Paris-Was-the-Place-ebook/dp/B00BVJG4CM/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paris-was-the-place-susan-conley/1113784351?ean=9780307594075

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/paris-was-the-place-susan-conley/1113784351?ean=9780385349659

https://itunes.apple.com/be/book/paris-was-the-place/id623835456?mt=11

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780307594075/susan-conley/paris-was-place

 

Susan Conley2Author bio

Susan Conley is a writer and teacher. Her memoir, The Foremost Good Fortune (Knopf 2011), chronicles her family’s experiences in modern China as well as her journey through breast cancer. The Oprah Magazine listed it as a Top Ten Pick, Slate Magazine chose it as “Book of the Week,” and The Washington Post called it “a beautiful book about China and cancer and how to be an authentic, courageous human being.” Excerpts from the memoir have been published in The New York Times Magazine and The Daily Beast.

Susan’s writing has also appeared in The Paris Review, The Harvard Review, The Massachusetts Review, The Gettysburg Review, The North American Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. A native of Maine, she earned her B.A. from Middlebury College and her M.F.A. in creative writing from San Diego State University. After teaching poetry and literature at Emerson College in Boston, Susan returned to Portland, where she cofounded and served as executive director of The Telling Room, a nonprofit creative writing center. She currently teaches at The Telling Room and at the University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast MFA Program.

Contact Information

www.SusanConley.com

Facebook

Twitter

I was given a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I’m thankful to be part of the France Book Tour!

Paris Was The Place Banner

“Freud’s Mistress” by Karen Mack & Jennifer Kaufman

Freud's Mistress

On Facebook I saw the post: “Do you love “The Paris Wife” and “Loving Frank” and have a blog?  If you do, get in touch.”

And because I do, I did.

It’s interesting to me that I think of myself as a purely Adult Fiction reader, rarely choosing a non-fiction book for pleasurable reading, yet those two books – and now this one – as fictionalized accounts of very non-fiction people and events, have become some of my favorites! 

“The Paris Wife” led me down the Hemingway rabbit hole; I watched the movies “The Sun Also Rises” and “Hemingway and Gilhorn,” I loved the Hemingway role in “Midnight in Paris,” I read “The Movable Feast,” and I listened to the author of “The Paris Wife talk about her research (click for my post about it).

“Loving Frank” led me to research his homes and to find three of them in Rochester and drive by them.  “The Women” (about the rest of the women in Wright’s life) is still in my TBR pile (thanks, Sarah!).  

And now, Freud.

This story starts in 1895.  Minna Bernays is employed as a lady’s companion or governess, in an attempt to support herself – an educated, single woman nearing 30 years old.  She cannot bear the treatment given to some of the employees in the household, so she gives all her money to help the young kitchen helper get to the doctor, buy her medicine, and then buy her a train ticket home to her family.  She then writes to her sister, Martha, and asks for help out of her unfavorable situation.  Martha insists she move in immediately, and so begins Minna’s life in the home of Dr. Sigmund Freud.

Minna is no stranger to the family; she and Freud had been corresponding for years.  She is fascinated by his intelligence and theories and he finds her to be a worthy listener.  She challenges him and he confides in her.  This story is about the relationship between Minna and Freud, which is filled with attraction and tension, jealousy and longing.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that.  It is a good book – so I think you should read it for yourself!

This book was an easy read with very engaging and well-written characters.  The authors have obviously done their homework – on Victorian homes and clothing, Freud’s relationships with his contemporaries, his obsession with ancient knick-knacks and cigars, and his relationship with his family.  Because of this book I found myself watching a Biography of Freud on the internet (click to see for yourself!).  I realized I knew NOTHING about the man and found his story fascinating.  For example:

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smok...
Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smoking cigar. Español: Sigmund Freud, fundador del psicoanálisis, fumando. Česky: Zakladatel psychoanalýzy Sigmund Freud kouří doutník. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  • He was raised Jewish, but didn’t believe in religion.
  • He wanted to be a researcher, but there was a quota on the number of Jewish people who could do research, so he went to medical school.
  • He “courted” his wife for five years and during that time wrote her 900 letters.  It is written that they would be worthy of being categorized as great love letters.  He wouldn’t marry her until he had some level of success.
  • He went into the study of neuroses because few people were studying mental illness at that time and he knew he could make his mark.
  • He had 6 children with Martha within 8 years – and then he became abstinent sexually in their marriage.  He felt that the only way to prevent neuroses was through unfettered sexual intercourse with your spouse and he didn’t want any more children, nor did he want to utilize birth control methods, because that would be fettering.  Goodness.
  • He was addicted to cigars, smoking 25-30 per DAY – even after his diagnosis of oral cancer which left him with a prosthetic jaw!
  • He was also addicted to his work, saying “A man like me cannot live without a hobby horse, a consuming passion, a tyrant.  I have found my tyrant, and in his service, I know no limits.  My tyrant is psychology.”
  • Through self-analysis, he “cured”himself of his travel phobia.  He also used to faint around “gifted male friends,” but he didn’t cure that.
  • He created a Wednesday Society of his avid followers; later he created a secret society made of his “band of disciples,” members wore rings.
  • He was seen as an “enemy of the people” by Hitler and his were among the first books burned during Hitler’s rise to power.
  • He thought that Hitler represented his worst fears of “darkness and psychosis,” yet he refused to leave his home in Vienna until his beloved daughter Anna was arrested.  He then agreed to leave and moved his family to London, where the Freud museum is now located.
  • He continued to see patients until he was on his death bed.  His cancer returned and was untreatable, so he took a lethal dose of morphine. He was 83.
  • His ashes are now kept in a vase from his vast collection of ancient artifacts.  He said he collected the ancient artifacts because he felt that he was “an archaeologist of the mind.”

Just as “The Paris Wife” gave me a sympathetic view of Hemingway, the man who is known as a cad throughout history, this story of “Freud’s Mistress” gives a different view of the man who is known to view women as inferior, due to their lack of a penis.  He is portrayed as obsessed with his work, but appreciative of the intellect of Minna.   On that note, I will close with one of the more famous quotes by Freud, as well as a response by Bill Cosby:

The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’  Sigmund Freud

“Sigmund Freud once said, “What do women want?” The only thing I have learned in 52 years is that women want men to stop asking dumb questions like that.”  Bill Cosby

Another amusing take on trying to figure out women...
Another amusing take on trying to figure out women…

**************************************

tlc tour host

For more reviews of this book, see the other blogs on the tour!  I’ll post again about a giveaway so that you can read this book for yourself!

Monday, September 2nd: BookNAround

Monday, September 2nd: Peppermint PhD

Tuesday, September 3rd: The Lost Entwife

Wednesday, September 4th: Unabridged Chick

Friday, September 6th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, September 9th: A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, September 10th: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, September 11th: A Novel Review

Thursday, September 12th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, September 16th: Read Lately

Monday, September 16th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, September 17th: WalkieTalkieBookClub

Wednesday, September 18th: Lectus

Friday, September 20th: Book-alicious Mama

Monday, September 23rd: My Bookshelf

Friday, September 27th: guiltless reading

Monday, September 30th: Lavish Bookshelf

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

The scientific randomness of picking a name out of a hat means that Sarah is the winner of the e-book, The Promise of Provence!

Read my review of the book here, and click here or here to learn more about Words and Peace France Book Tours, which continue!

France book tour
France Boosk Tours

Next summer Patricia is taking a tour of Provence with 14 women, and boy is it tempting!
She’s fun to follow on Facebook and Twitter. A lot going on for her!

Enjoy the book, Sarah!  Happy reading!

France book tour
The Promise of Provence

 

The Promise of Provence Synopsis

             June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves overlooked by ancient hilltop villages. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.

Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?

“Be prepared to fall in love with Provence! This is a story that will draw you in with its vibrancy in setting and characters. A must read for any woman with a desire for romance and travel.”     Steena Holmes, author of Amazon bestseller Finding Emma

Publication Date: May 30, 2013

457 pages,  ISBN 9780991931316    Published through CreateSpace

Available on Amazon worldwide     USA   Canada   UK    FR and may be ordered at any bookstore.

********************************************************************************

Author bio:

Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France. With a focus on women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, she has heard from readers ages 20 to 83.

Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010.

Her second novel, The Promise of Provence is an Amazon Hot New Release as of April 2013.

Pop in to visit her at:

http://www.patriciasands.wordpress.com

http://www.patriciasandsauthor.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/patricia.sands.9

and https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPatriciaSands

Twitter https://twitter.com/patricia_sands

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4381348.Patricia_Sands

The Promise of Provence

France book tour
The Promise of Provence

When Emma at Words and Peace asked if I would review this book for her France Book Tours ,   I wasn’t sure, as I’m not much of a reviewer.  I love to read and I love to give my feelings about books.  But to dissect them and truly “review” them?  Well, I will do my best.  AND, if you read to the end, you will learn how YOU can win your own e-copy of this book!  Woot!

France book tour
France Boosk Tours

I don’t have too much in common with Katherine (Katica, Kat):  she is a research assistant for a specialist in the study of pain.  She has her PhD and loves her job (no PhD for me, but do love my job!).  She thinks life is going along as normal, and then on her anniversary her husband drops the bomb:  he is with someone else and going to be having a baby.  Her life is forever changed and she feels that her past was a lie.  Anger, betrayal, sadness.  She moves in with her mother who reminds her of Nietzsche’s philosophy, which is also her own, that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Thought this related
Thought this related

So, thankfully I haven’t been betrayed in such a terrible way by a person in a relationship, but I have had the experience of “starting over” and re-evaluating life a few times.  When my daughter went to college, I remember feeling so sad that I wasn’t even able to face the empty house after drop-off day.  And then suddenly I recognized that I had freedom – and my motto became “I can do whatever I want!”  It was a great year of being foot-loose and fancy free!  For the first time since forever.

And then the flood happened and took our house and personal belongings and rocked our world a little bit (understatement?).  I highlighted a line in Patricia Sand’s book that reflected my feelings after that time:

“How is it, when my heart is so broken, the world can still be such a beautiful place? It isn’t right. It isn’t appropriate or fair. Everyone and everything should be suffering like I am.”

Going to work, watching people mow their lawns, seeing that life was “normal” everywhere else, was hard to bear some days.  But life does go on.  And on and on.

In The Promise of Provence, Kat is encouraged by her great friends, friends whose relationships she began to nourish and cherish as never before.  If you know me, you know that I believe in and value the power of friendships – I’m so glad that it was part of this book!  Kat also discovers the world of “home exchanges” and her life is never the same.  She chooses to swap homes with a family in Provence, the land of Peter Mayle novels.  She has traveled to France in her younger days and is glad to revisit.  During her first visit she finds that it is OK to be alone.  OK to embrace change.  She discovers the life of plaisir – pleasure.  

Mirella:  “You know, Katherine, we are masters in the art of plasir.  It is the underlying theme of life here.  In spite of the many negatives in our society today, the French continue to strive to be artful, exquisite.  It is a legacy we do not want to lose.

“It combines with the art of seduction… la seduction,” Joy interjected, with a knowing smile.  “It’s a virtuous skill here to seduce and touch all the senses with fashion, cuisine, wine, scent, words…

Also the world of pastis (an anise flavored liqueur and aperitif of France) and petanque (a French game of boules, which is like bocce ball)and panier (a basket for carrying provisions) .  She meets Philippe and Picasso and hopes to someday return.  Not long after, an opportunity arises and she goes – for longer this time, and during her second home exchange she discovers that she truly is self-reliant and feels at home.  

Katherine: “Anyu’s words to me about being alone, about finding strength in being alone, live inside me all the time.  They’re empowering.”

I thought the end of my marriage was the door slamming on my life but instead it turns out to have opened the door of opportunity.”  

Isn’t that the way life is?

The Promise of Provence is full of popular culture references (Downton Abbey!) and also things that I had to look up.  One thing I looked up was quite a treat!  In Cap d’Antibes, Katherine speaks with Philippe about La Grande Nomade, which she can see from her windows.  The art feature is by artist Jaume Plensa and Philippe tells Kat about the artist’s philosophy:

“I read an interview with him that touched me deeply. The feeling he expresses through this work is that letters are like bricks.  They help us to construct our thoughts.  He described his belief that our skin is permanently and invisibly tattooed with the text of our life experiences and then someone comes along – a friend, a lover – who is able to decipher these tattoos.”

I had to see what this art work was so I went to Google…

English: Nomade sculpture by Jaume Plensa, tak...
English: Nomade sculpture by Jaume Plensa, taken in Antibes, Provence-alpes-cote d’Azur (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and lo and behold, I have a photo of one his pieces – the same piece – not in Cap d’Antibes, but in Des Moines, IA!  How fun.  We loved discovering the “Letterman,” as we called him, in the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden one spring day.

des moines sculpture garden
Plensa’s “Nomade” in Des Moines

From Wikipedia: Plensa says, “Telles des briques, les lettres ont une potentialité de construction, elles nous permettent de construire une pensée”.  (Such bricks, letters have the potential to construct, they enable us to construct a thought.)

I received this book as a gift from the author, and although there were times that plodded along for me, it truly was a gift – a reminder that it is always good to seek the plaisir in life, enjoy each moment, savor your friendships, and to be ready for adventure.

“Each day is a gift, Katica.  Try to live your life knowing what matters most and always, always, remember… what doesn’t kill us… ” 

***************************************************************

And now, as promised, a gift for you!  

Please leave a comment below and you will be entered to win a copy of The Promise of Provence in e-book style!

Winner will be drawn at random and announced on Tuesday, July 9.  

Also click through below to learn more about the book, about the author!  I know that I’m putting her first book The Bridge Club in my TBR list!

The Promise of Provence Synopsis

             June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves overlooked by ancient hilltop villages. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.

Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?

“Be prepared to fall in love with Provence! This is a story that will draw you in with its vibrancy in setting and characters. A must read for any woman with a desire for romance and travel.”     Steena Holmes, author of Amazon bestseller Finding Emma

Publication Date: May 30, 2013

457 pages,  ISBN 9780991931316    Published through CreateSpace

Available on Amazon worldwide     USA   Canada   UK    FR and may be ordered at any bookstore.

********************************************************************************

Author bio:

Patricia Sands
Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France. With a focus on women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, she has heard from readers ages 20 to 83.

Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010.

Her second novel, The Promise of Provence is an Amazon Hot New Release as of April 2013.

Pop in to visit her at:

http://www.patriciasands.wordpress.com

http://www.patriciasandsauthor.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/patricia.sands.9

and https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPatriciaSands

Twitter https://twitter.com/patricia_sands

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4381348.Patricia_Sands