Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Can't Resist!

Richard wanted to go to the bookstore.  I haven't been there in a while.  I'm living by the out of sight out of mind rule.  Actually I've been satisfying my cravings with free books from the clubhouse library.  Those free books also come home and sit on the shelf. So free or not a book always needs to rest awhile before I choose to read it.  But Richard likes to go and read the real estate and interior design magazines.  My arm didn't need much twisting.  I got the car keys

"I want to stay here for a while.  Don't rush me out of here," he said as we got out of the car.

"Not a problem," I answered.  After twenty three years of marriage I thought he understood my love of the bookstore.

Richard headed to the back of the store and I grabbed a book from the shelf that had been calling to me for months.  'The Reliable Wife'.  Ever since I heard Donald Maass mention this book at the RWA-WF conference I've been wanting to read it.  Mr. Maass discussed the use of backstory in writing. The rule is not to add it in too soon, layer it in slowly so it moves the story forward.  And only tell the reader what they need to know.  He used the example of 'The Reliable Wife' where the first twelve pages are backstory yet the reader becomes fully invested in the character.  His message was that rules are good but can be broken.

I sat down and started to read.  I was hooked.  So when Richard announced he was ready to go, I didn't want to leave this book behind.

"Get it," he told me.

"But it's fifteen dollars.  I have to work and hour and a half for that." I held the book tightly to my chest.

"Just get it."

Again the arm twisting was brief. 

My review will come as soon as I finish reading it.  It's a page turner, that much I will tell you.  I know I broke my own rule and I hope you'll forgive me just this once.  Or is it twice?  Or maybe three times? I've lost count. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen

This book slipped in.  Sometimes that happens.  I don't necessarily have to be in a bookstore where I fight the urge to actually buy a book.  This time I made a quick stop at the free library at the clubhouse.  It works on the take a book, leave a book premise.  I found Short Girls in the drop off bin.

I've had the pleasure of traveling to Vietnam and I have some very good Vietnamese friends.  I love their food, their culture, their stories.  This book sounded interesting.  I'm also bogged down in an epic novel of a Jewish family in Poland just prior to World War II so I figured Short Girls would give me some relief from that.

Van and Linny are sisters, children of Vietnam refugees.  They were born in America, and only know of growing up as Americans in Michigan.  The sisters are not close and brush it off as being very different from each other when in fact they are alike, making the same mistakes in life.  They both fall for the same insensitive, arrogant kind of guy with predictable results.

The characters of Van and Linny are flat to say the least.  Since the title is Short Girls, I thought that being short would be an integral part of their makeup.  It wasn't.  Not to say that the author didn't make references to it, it's just that I never really pictured either of them as painfully short.  Not tall, just of ordinary height.  There wasn't anything else about them that endeared me to them.

Excuse the pun but Short Girls came up short.  I rate it a 2 and I'm taking it back to the clubhouse.  I'll dig back into the other novel and resist the urge to pick up another free book while I'm there.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blue Clay People by William Powers

I have no idea why I have this book.  When I opened it up, I found a receipt from when I attended the Willamette Writer's Conference last year.  I like to buy books of the speakers I hear but I don't remember Mr. Powers.  I wonder what the thinking was by the bookstore manager why he brought this book along.

In any event, Blue Clay People is a really cool title. The cover is a wonderful photograph of smiling children frolicking in the ocean.  My readers know by now that those two things are surefire hooks for me.

Blue Clay People is Powers' story of his time as a relief worker in Liberia.  He struggles with the local dialect of English, the proper handshake, having servants in his home.  Deep in his heart he wrestles with creating more dependency as he sets out to break the cycle of poverty.  

This is a deeply moving account of life in Liberia where malaria, AIDS, deforestation, under the control of a money hungry dictator is considered the norm.  Mr. Powers came to this country believing he could change all that.  He didn't leave Liberia as the new land he dreamed it could be.  But he left it better in small individual ways.  I think he learned alot about himself along the way.

Blue Clay People isn't a particularly well written or well edited for that matter.  As a writer that drove me nuts.  Getting past that, Blue Clay People taught me that my existence is connected to a place on the other side of the world.  Even small acts of compassion will make a difference in our world.  I rate this book 3 out of 5, an average when I combine writing skill with a memorable story.  

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Wine and Baseball

It's Sunday morning.  A time for lounging around reading the newspaper and sipping coffee while watching the morning news programs.  I love Sunday mornings.

Richard, Ginger and I cuddled up on the loveseat in the den and turned on an HBO news show.  The feature story was about Josh Hamilton, Texas Ranger, a baseball player.  And a very good one.  I am a Tampa Bay Rays fan and with today being the last day of the regular season, chances are my beloved Rays will face the Rangers in the playoffs.

The past few weeks have been really tough for me for some reason in the wine department.  I have been craving a drink.  It's not that anything earth shattering has been happening in my life, no stress, no disasters.  The desire for just one glass of wine to relax has been overwhelming for me.  I've resisted but it sure hasn't been easy.

I took a sip of coffee and settled in to hear about Josh.  He's a troubled soul with a devastating addiction to drugs and alcohol.  It sidelined his marriage and his career.  Even after he found AA it was a long, long road back to the ball field.  He said something in the interview that stuck with me. 'One drink leads to twenty'.

That's the power of the addiction.  Like a Lay's potato chip, you can't eat just one.  Those were exactly the words I needed to hear.

That's also the power of God.  I pray every day for His guidance.  He will always guide us to the right place when we need it the most.  There is no bottle of wine chilling in my refrigerator because I've always known that one would lead to twenty.  I just needed to be reminded.  When my Tampa Bay Rays beat the pants off Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers I'll celebrate by eating a lime popsicle.  And I'll say a little prayer for Josh.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

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