Call Me 37 Today

October 8, 2008 at 10:43 am | Posted in LIfe, Reading | 36 Comments
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Well, the day has finally arrived and I can no longer say that I am 36.  Well, I was born at around 9:50pm, so I could wait to say I’m 37 until tonight, but that’s being a little ridiculous (although if you agree with the whole date and time thing,  you’ll make me exceedingly happy right up until 9:49pm).

Seriously, 36 was a wonderful year.  I feel that I’ve come into my own in my career and as a book blogger.  I have read 70 books since my last birthday and have reviewed 64. It would be hard for me to pick out a favorite from during that time, but the books that have stood out in my 37th year are The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff, Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner, The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George, The Witch’s Trinity by Erika Mailman, Trauma by Patrick McGrath, Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan, Aberrations by Penelope Przekop, The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, and Sweetsmoke by David Fuller.

The best blogging experience I had personally revolved around Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield.  I bought this book for my husband, but read it first.  Little did either of us know that this would have a personal connection for my husband.  He was friends with Rob’s wife Renee.  We had a great time going through his pictures from that era and we posted one of Renee.  It always irritates me when there is no pictures in memoirs because I want to know what the people look like.  In this case, Danny was able to supply that for me.  It was also really neat to listen to the tape of his band singing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song to the tune of R.E.M.’s Talk about the Passion.  That whole experience was wonderful.

Best of all, I’ve met some of the most wonderful people last year.  From authors, to publicists, to my fellow book bloggers, to my readers.  I won’t name any because I don’t want to leave anyone out.  My life is richer because of you all.

I hope that everyone has a beautiful, beautiful day!

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#72 ~ Trauma

May 23, 2008 at 11:57 am | Posted in Books, Family, Gothic Fiction, Reading | 6 Comments
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Cover of Trauma

Trauma by Patrick McGrath

Trauma tells the story of Charlie, a divorced psychiatrist who specializes in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Charlie has spent his life taking care of his mentally ill mother and a brother-in-law who suffered from PTSD as a result of his tours of duty in Vietnam. After his brother-in-law dies, he ends his marriage, unable to cope with his guilt. After his mother dies, Charlie finds himself emotionally orphaned and without someone in his personal life to fix. What’s a psychiatrist to do living like that?

This novel takes place in New York City during the 70s and perhaps 80s. The Twin Towers are being built and viewed from many angles throughout the novel and are almost a character themselves, symbolizing stability in a city full of disillusioned Americans struggling to deal with the aftermath of the Vietnam War. I found this to be the best, most subtle, and thought-provoking commentary on our current war. The reader is free to draw one’s own conclusions or even not notice it at all because there is no break in the narrative to make a political statement. In the end, the novel is more timeless this way. While the story itself will always have a specific time and place in history, there is no blatant political commentary targeted at a 2008 audience that will interfere with readers 100 years from now.

I have always enjoyed Patrick McGrath, the more Gothic the better. This novel isn’t his most Gothic, but he is in great form. It reads quickly and is entertaining and interesting. I prefer Asylum to this and all of his other novels, still I found the tension to be perfect. Even after mulling Charlie over for the past few days, I’m still not sure if he is a reliable narrator. To me, this is a good thing. This way I am able to look back on a novel both with trust and full of questions. Each view provides an interesting twist. Of course, the mother is always to blame which ever way you slice it, but that’s another story.

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To buy this book, click here.

Home, Sweet Home

May 19, 2008 at 9:49 pm | Posted in Books, Family, LIfe, Reading | 2 Comments
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Long time, no posts.  I hope that you all had a wonderful week last week.  I’ve now returned from a much enjoyed trip to the Land of Dolly.  As much as I enjoyed my vacation, it feels good to be in my own home and sitting in my own bed as I type.  We did not have Internet access after Tuesday.  Wow!  That was a long time to be without.  I’ve got a lot of email and blogs to catch up on!

The first part of our vacation was spent with my parents, my four siblings, and their families.  It was so nice to all be together in one place, even though we experienced a good deal of trauma during  those first few days…

  1. The first full day Danny threw his back out at our hotel by walking from the bathroom to the refrigerator.  He was down that entire day and most of next two.
  2. While taking the girls to the pool that same day, I tripped on my really cute but dangerous heals and fell down a few stairs.  I twisted my ankle pretty bad and it still hurts tonight.
  3. The next day, while at the pool once again, Ally, my youngest, slipped through her Dora swimming ring and went under water.  I had left my bathing suit at the hotel, so I dove into the pool fully clothed.  My brother called to me that he had her, but I wasn’t aware of anything else other than my baby underwater waving her arms helplessly.  This all took only a matter of seconds, but it felt like an eternity to me.  She’s fine, but the color from the beach towel I wrapped myself up in afterwards bled onto my new turquoise capris.

After that, things looked up considerably.  We enjoyed the rest of the time with my family and then my best friend Trista and her family from Michigan came down.  We rented a chalet up in the mountains a few minutes from Dollywood.  Trista’s two children fall between mine in age.  Despite the bickering that comes with preschoolers living together, they had a great time.  It’s so nice to be able to watch them play.  Together, we went to the Gatlinburg aquarium, an arcade on the strip, Cooters, Dollywood, miniature golfing, to a petting zoo, and to Dixie Stampede.  Have I mentioned we had a great time?

I even got some reading done along the way.  I’ll post official reviews later this week, but I finished The Lady Elizabeth (well written, but no new territory explored there), Last Night at the Lobster (an excellent novella!), and Trauma (I finished that up a half hour ago while soaking in a hot tub – superb.  One of McGrath’s better novels).

Tomorrow I’ll be drawing for my May Book Give Away after work.  There’s still time if you’d like a chance to get a free book in the mail!

Smoky Mountain Vacation

May 12, 2008 at 8:43 am | Posted in Barnes & Noble, Books, entertainment, Family, Historical Fiction, LibraryThing, My Life with Books, Reading | 5 Comments
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Greetings from Gatlinburg, TN, located in heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. It’s beautiful here despite the rain and I’ve enjoyed seeing my parents (I haven’t see my mother on Mother’s Day for at least 10 years), siblings, in-laws, nieces, and nephews. The kids did a great job on the drive. Even if they hadn’t, it’s just nice being out of the Roanoke Valley.

Although we’ll be away from home for 9 days, I’m planning on getting some good reading in:

  • Taking Lisa’s advice from Books on the Brain, I rented Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O’Nan from the library.
  • I snagged the latest book by Patrick McGrath, Trauma on the way to the checkout desk I was at the library.
  • The Story of Forgetting by Stefan Merrill Block, which I received through a trade with another Early Reviewer on LibraryThing.
  • I picked up The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani for under $5 at Barnes and Noble last week. I’ve been wanting to read this since I read a review by Divia on HistoricalFiction.org.
  • Finally, I’m finishing up The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir. I’d love to say that I’m loving it, but it’s just okay. No offense to Last Night at the Lobster, but I shouldn’t be looking forward to my next book. I should be savoring this one. Sigh…

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