Monthly Archives:: August 2005

The Bitch Posse by Martha O'Connor

August 30, 2005 Book Reviews 0

The Bitch Posse
By Martha O'Connor
Not Finished

Published in 2005
352 pages
Library

I'm not quite sure what I missed with this book, but I just couldn't finish it. There were things I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened and all, but it was so painful for me to read that I just finally gave up on it. It was definitely too depressing and scared me into not wanting to send my daughter to high school. The characters, Rennie, Cherry and Amy, are wild. One has sex with any man who moves, they abuse drugs, drink, swear, smoke, they cut themselves…it's insane. Their parents were just as screwed up as they were and, while concerned that their daughters were going off course, no one seemed to care that they (the parents) might have something to do with it. The most upsetting part was that no one did anything about it (at least not in the first half I read). It became so frustrating.

I'm sure this is probably a very good book, it's got great reviews at Amazon, but it just wasn't for me.

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The Position by Meg Wolitzer

August 24, 2005 Books 3

The Position
By Meg Wolitzer
Rated: 4/5
Published in 2005
307 pages
Owned – Advanced Reader's Edition I got ages ago

This book has such an amazing premise. What happens to the children of parents who write a sex-tell-all/instruction-guide (think The Joy of Sex) after they discover The Book? What happens after their “so in love” parents get divorced? In 1975, the Mellow parents, Paul and Roz, write a book that celebrates their love, and their love-making. The international bestseller features the Mellows in various poses straight from the Kama Sutra in all their naked glory; including the Position they created themselves. Holly, 15, Michael, 13, Dashiell, 8, and Claudia 6, all sit down one afternoon after Michael finds The Book. And the discovery of The Book leaves the four young Mellows changed forever.

What is interesting is how it changes them all in such different ways. This is a fascinating look at how sex, love, divorce, and marriage can effect the oldest and the youngest in such varied ways. At first, I didn’t think I was going to like this book, but as I continued, I became to empathize with the characters and even grew to like them. Wolitzer writes with a deft hand, giving her characters sympathy but not becoming so over handed that it grates the nerves. No sentence out of place, no plot unturned, this book is highly recommended.

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Last part of my story

August 24, 2005 Books 2

And so now, we come to my mother and to the heart of the reason I’ve been writing all this.

If you read my previous post (Backstory Part 1), you know that my mother left my father and I when I was around 3 years old or so. She married another man and move to a nearby town. For a couple of years, I saw her on most Sundays and maybe a little in between, I really can’t remember much. I don’t remember my stepfather’s name or much about their apartment. I do remember playing in the backyard, a cat she had, and two bunnies, but that is about it. Their marriage didn’t last long, maybe 2 years. After that, I’m not sure how long but not too long, she moved to Texas (I think around Waco, if I’m not mistaken). I vaguely remember that she came to visit a couple of times, called every once in awhile and eventually wrote letters too.

I do not know why she moved to Texas, I’ve never bothered to ask her. Our relationship deteriorated too the point that after my father died, when she came back to get me, I didn’t want to go. It’s been rumored that she came back to kidnap me, but I don’t know that I believe that. All I remember is her asking me where I wanted to stay and I said with my grandparents. By then, I was old enough to recognize that they loved me more than she did.

When I was 13, she moved back to NC with her 3rd husband E_. My new stepfather, to a young, small 13 year old girl, seemed huge and scary. He was probably over 6 foot tall, big arms and torso, tattoos, big handlebar mustache…he just scared me. But we tried. I went to see her that Christmas, she took me out to eat occasionally…but I guess it was too hard for us. I had become used to not seeing her or talking to her and…well, I don’t know what was up with her at the time. The last time I talked to her before they moved back to Texas was the next Christmas. She wanted me to go see them to get my presents, etc, and I, by then practically terrified of E_ asked that she come to my house. She said that she would, but she never came. 6 months later my grandmother and I saw her best friend in a store and she told us she had moved. She seemed surprised we didn’t know.

I wasn’t. By this time I had become accustomed to my mother’s eratic ways. And I just didn’t care any more.

I think she loved me in her own way. Yet I think she was too young and immature to raise a child. She has since told me that she left me with my grandparents because she knew they could give me a better life; send me to college, give me the things I wanted/needed, etc. To which I told her that material things were little replacement for a mothers love but in my mind I think it all turned out for the best. Or so I thought.

She came back one more time, when I was 22, to my wedding. Then, for the last time, when I was 25 and pregnant with Ellie, she came back single and alone. And that is where my story leads into the now.

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Back story, part 1

August 22, 2005 Books 4

There are a few things going on in my life right now that I am feeling the need to talk about, but I need to give some backstory first. Here you will find out about my early childhood. Whatever you do, please don’t feel too sorry for me. These things happened, they made me a stronger person and I have come to terms with “most” of them. It’s the what’s going on now that I have not come to terms with.

I was born in 1978.

My father was 18 years old, my mother only 17. They married before I was born and moved into a trailer not too far from my father’s parents house. We lived there for around 3 years. I don’t remember much about the place or time. I remember the awful orange and brown shag carpet, I remember where my room and the kitchen were. I remember falling and cutting my leg open on something and crying for my mother and she wouldn’t come.

I don’t remember the day my mother left. I assume I was still in diapers, or just out of them, so around 2-2 1/2 I guess. I don’t know all the reasons why. I’ve never heard them from her. All I remember is that sudden she lived in another town and that she had a new husband and he was my step-father. I don’t remember him being very nice. He didn’t like it when I came around. I only saw her once a week.

I stayed with my father for a time. When he was 22 he started having trouble walking. At first he just dragged one of his legs a little, especially when he was tired. When he was around 13 years old, a friend and he were playing, and said “friend” gave him a karate chop to the neck. It was all in fun, but it messed up some of the vertebra in his neck. And, being young, he would never wear his neck brace. Repeated injuries in high school made the damage worse until the vertebra were so worn away that he started having problems. Because of this, we moved in with my grandparents.

Over the next 4 years, my father slowly deteriorated more. First he stumbed, then he couldn’t walk. Then gradually the paralysis took his hands away, then his breathing, putting him on a respirator. It didn’t matter me, I was too young to know what was happening to him. All I saw was my beloved father and was glad that he was there when I got home from daycare, then school. He taught me my letters, my numbers, how to spell my name. Because of him, when I started kindergarten I was already reading chapter books and was well ahead of my classmates.

But, finally, he lost his fight and his paralysis took his life. I was 8 years old.

I continued to live with my grandparents.

Part two coming when I can get the time to put it down.

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Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde

August 18, 2005 Book Reviews 4

Something Rotten
By Jasper Fforde
Rated: 4/5
Published in 2004
320 pages
Library

The Thursday Next series is madder than the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, Miss Haversham, and the state of the nations gas prices all mixed together and multiplied by 100. It's hyperactive, zany, and insane. And that is why I love it so.

Thursday Next has had it working within the book world. So, she takes her son Friday and pet dodos ,and moves in with her mother. She has a massive bank overdraft to pay, a husband to have uneradicated, and the world to save from a madman fictional character, Yorrick Kaine. Along the way she avoids slapstick assassignation attempts, a dithering Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, and cloned Shakespeares.

It's mad, I tell you, and it's delightful. You should read the whole amazingly crazy series.

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The Shadow of the Wind

August 13, 2005 Books 5

The Shadow of the Wind
by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Rated: 5/5
Published in 2004

496 pages
Owned

I wish I had the way with words that Carlos Ruiz Zafon has. Then, perhaps, I would be able to adequately describe the way I feel about this novel. For me, this will be one of those books that will remain with me forever, the characters easily remembered, the story seared into my memory like a beautiful tattoo. I will attempt to describe what it is about and how much you should savor this book but I am sure my insufficient ability will hinder me.

The time is postwar Barcelona, 1945, when 10-year-old Daniel Sempere wakes from a horrible nightmare. To his horror, he can no longer remember his beloved mother's face. His father tries to comfort him so to amuse his son, he takes him to a secret library; The Cemetery of Lost Books. There, Daniel is allowed to "adopt" one book. There, calling to him in that dark, mysterious chamber, Daniel finds "The Shadow of the Wind" by Julian Carax. Voraciously, Daniel reads his new book in just one day, and having fallen under its' spell, he begins a search that will him many years. Along the way he meets femme fatales, a witty and delightfully horny beggar, a horrifyingly disfigured man, and in turn uncovers a tale of murder, madness, and terrible secrets that many would pay any price to keep underground. And as Daniel makes his way through Barcelona society, both high and low, he comes to understand that his own part in The Shadow of the Wind is more than that of a simple reader.

My Favorite Quotes:

"…the pleasure of reading, of exploring the recesses of the soul, of letting myself be carried away by imagination, beauty, and the mystery of fiction and language."

"Some things can only be seen in the shadow."

"Every book, every volume you see here, has a soul"

"…in truth books have no owner."

"…observed her hands spread like wings on her lap, the suggestion of her fragile waist under the alpaca folds, the shape of her shoulders, the extreme paleness of her neck, the line of her lips, which I would have given my soul to stroke with the tip of my fingers…."

"Don't let that upset you then. With women the best part is the discovery. There's nothing like the first time, nothing. You don't know what life is until you undress a woman the first time. A button at a time, like peeling a hot sweet potato on a winter's night."

"Television, my dear Daniel is the Antichrist, and I can assure you that after only three or four generations, people will no longer even know how to fart on their own and humans will return to living in caves, to medieval savagery, and to the general state of imbecility that slugs overcame back in the Pleistocene era. Our world will not die as a result of a bomb, as the papers say, it will die of laughter, of banality, of making a joke of everything, and a lousy joke at that."

"There are no second chances in life, except to feel remorse."

"Someone once said that the moment you stop to think about whether you love someone, you've already stopped loving that person forever."

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Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman

August 10, 2005 Books 1

Alice Hoffman is becoming an acquired taste of mine. Her writing is probably a little out of my norm, but I am finding with each book by her I read, that I really enjoy her unique perspective on things. This wee little novella/short story was perfect in size, content, and style. I’m going to be lazy and steal this from Amazon.com

This wide-eyed, magical tale by distinguished author Alice Hoffman reflects the pale blue hue of two 12-year-old friends about to be parted at summer’s end. Hailey and Claire have lived next door to each other and have been best friends all their lives, but now Claire’s family is going to move away to Florida. The two hang out at the neighborhood beach club in the blistering heat, dreading the end of things. The Capri Beach Club, too, is coming to an end–neglected and shabby, due to be bulldozed at the end of the season.

Despite the girls’ fear of change, everything shifts with a summer storm. At the beach club the next morning, Hailey and Claire find that the storm has left its mark, filling the cloudy waters of the swimming pool with jellyfish and seaweed. Hailey boldly dives in and discovers that the waves have also brought a delicate blue and white mermaid who is extremely grouchy at her predicament. The girls scheme to return the fish-woman to the sea, but she obstinately refuses to leave the vicinity of Raymond, the handsome boy who runs the gift shop. Alarmed at the mermaid’s growing weakness, Hailey and Claire extract her promise to go back to the sea in exchange for one evening with Raymond. They set up a blind date, dress her in a long blue dress to hide her tail, and take her to the rendezvous in a wheelchair. But the next morning the dying mermaid is in love, and the patio is full of partygoers. Can the girls sneak her past all those eyes to save her life? And will she let them? Young teens will be entranced by the strange dreaminess of this poignant little story about love and loss. –Patty Campbell–

All in all, this was a great little modern day fairytale.

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Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

August 8, 2005 Books 6

It feels strange to say that a book about death, or what happens to the body after death, is funny. But this book was funny, yet never disrespectful. Roach has done the unthinkable here by taking the almost taboo subject of death and making it almost lighthearted. I never quite forgot how macabre her subject is, but all the same I found myself sniggering at some of her wittisms. She greets you with a killer (oops, no pun intended) line “The way I see it, being dead is not terribly far off from being on a cruise ship. Most of your time is spent lying on your back.” and doesn’t let you go until the very end, where she confesses that if her husband goes before she does, she’s going to donate her brain to Harvard’s Brain Bank.

Not for the weak of stomach, Stiff is “curiously” interesting and very informative.

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