Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Hands down, this is one of the best books I have ever read!

I loved Chris Cleave’s style of writing…he allows the story to unfold, little by little in much the same way you learn a personal friend’s story – piece by piece.  I loved the characters, I loved the story, I wish the book had gone on and on – it was way too short.  Okay, it wasn’t really; I don’t know what he could have added to make Little Bee’s story more inviting, more emotional or more lovable.  Make no mistake, I cried and cried; it is not the sweet story I am making it out to be.  But, on the back of the book the author makes the request to not spoil the story, and I have no intention of doing so – just go buy this book today!  It will be the best $12 you spend this summer!!!!!

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Having never had the desire to read The Kite Runner, I was a little skeptical about picking up this one…what a surprise!  This is a beautifully written book, full of love, history, tragedy, heart-break and survival.  I could not put it down, so enrapturing were the characters.  Afghanistan through the eyes of these two women was an amazing picture of real life and dedication.  The sheer humanness of each character rivets you to your seat.   The story travels through the rocky political history of the past 30 or so years, encompassing not only the news but the emotional responses of the people.  A fascinating look at real life events through the eyes of the quiet observers – the women.

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm  Comments (2)  
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Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Having just returned from 5 days at the river…where I read 3 books…here goes with the review of the first book I read.

This is not a book I would recommend.  I read it cover to cover and found the architectural information fascinating and even found the women’s movement perspective somewhat interesting.  I do however, have a difficult time with the justification of not only having the affair but with regard to the abandonment of children.  If you have read A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen, you will find some glaring similarities – none of the flattering ones.  In all fairness, Loving Frank was well written; it was the characters and the situation that were so deplorable.  And, honestly, I don’t think I am nearly as offended by the affair itself as I am with the blatant disregard for others and the complete lack of anything other than justification in regard to author perspective and the historical perspective she meant to portray.  I have no doubt that her rendering of Frank Lloyd Wright was dead on, but I found him to be pompous, demanding, self-absorbed and emotionally immature.  If you are intent on reading this, take a bottle of wine with you (maybe even two!).

Published in: on July 16, 2010 at 4:53 pm  Comments (1)  
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Toy Story 3

My oldest baby is getting ready to head off to college; orientation is next week, her move in date is less than 2 months away, she is moving so fast now I can hardly keep up.  This child has been a pure joy (most of the time), even through the heartbreak of her first day of Kindergarten, middle school, high school, deciding to move in with her father.  Through all of the tears, the happy ones and the sad ones, she has been accompanied by Ernie (move over Bert).  In my mind’s eye she will be forever 5, Ernie in tow, huge smile and bright eyes and now she is on her way toward becoming an amazing woman.  Thank goodness she is only going 10 minutes up the road…can you imagine what I’d be like if she were going farther?  I certainly can’t.  So with all of this in mind, we decide to go to the movies; how about a little nostalgia?

Okay, so I can’t resist talking about this movie.  I will readily admit this movie is more than just another story to me.  My oldest is Andy’s age; when the first one came out it was great and very relatable because it was our life.  Now, it’s level of intimacy with my life has increased ten-fold.  The movie, in and of it self was amazing…the storyline, the animation, the ‘reality’ of the situation…everything.  But, I will tell you, if you are getting ready to pack your baby off and send her to college (even if it is only 10 minutes away) you best take a handful of kleenex with you!   Actually, I think everyone in the movie theater was crying…I’m not naming names but the two 18 year olds and the 15 year old I took with me were ALL puddles.  I was not alone!  It is a great movie, I wanted to sit through it a second time right then and there.  Although I already own Toy Story, I am not positive I ever acquired Toy Story 2; it’s on my next Target shopping list – and I will anxiously await the release of number 3, and I will surely sob once again.

Oh, and the precious Ernie (our version of Woody) will forever sit on a shelf either in her bedroom or mine, just to remind me that she isn’t quite as grown up as she thinks.

Published in: on June 26, 2010 at 3:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stiegg Larsson

I haven’t read a true mystery in a long time; this was a good one.  I enjoyed getting to know the characters and the Swedish setting.  The characters are intelligent and witty, thought provoking and ingenuous.  The ending was not terribly surprising, but there were enough twists and turns to keep me very interested.  I read the book in about 2 days, couldn’t put it down.  It will make the perfect addition to your suitcase for this summer’s vacation!

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

Let me start off by saying that I loved the storyline and the concept of this book.  Naslund’s voice is exquisite, just as it is in Abundance.  However, at 660+ pages, it was a little much.  Don’t get me wrong, I get really excited at the prospect of a really long book, just not length for the sake of length.  There were about 200 unnecessary pages in this book.  The good news is they were in 10-20 page increments; there was not a section I could just cut out (unlike Atlas Shrugged or The Poisonwood Bible).

Una is a fascinating character, unexpected, forward thinking, and groundbreaking for her time.  I did enjoy watching her evolution as a woman and her intellectual growth.  It is a slower read, but I would certainly recommend it for someone who has a propensity for words and historical fiction, not to mention Captain Ahab.

Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

I loved this book.  The depth of human love, forgiveness and debauchery was astounding.  We follow the story of three characters, two of whom are complete dichotomies within themselves, we travel their lives, desires and self imposed tribulations.  Not only is the story enthralling; but the depth of Goolrick’s characters leaves the reader feeling profoundly human and glorious in the gift of life.  Although the ending was not totally unpredictable, it was the perfect ending led by a man with the seemingly infinite power for the forgiveness of others, and more astoundingly, for himself.  Read this today!!!

Published in: on April 23, 2010 at 1:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Souffle

Into the paint store I walk, finally sure of my color choice, and request a sample can of Souffle.  I tell the gentleman behind the counter that I know it is an old color from Duron (my local paint store is not a Duron), but is there anyway the formula is in his computer?  After spelling the name for him, he quickly obtains the formula, walks to the back, then returns a few minutes later.  He does not have the paint with him, but the old Duron color fan.  I feel like one of those dogs who looks at you with his head cocked to one side “huh?”.  He proceeds to tell me that he doesn’t have a card I can have, do I still want the paint sample?  Really?  Let’s recap…I walked into the store, I requested a sample can of S-o-u-f-f-l-e, but I am not sure that’s what I want?  I need to take home a card first?  Can I not paint my own card with the sample can previously requested?  HELLO??!!!

Published in: on April 16, 2010 at 2:16 am  Leave a Comment  

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Who doesn’t find twins fascinating?  Motherless twins, secrets, ghosts, The Thirteenth Tale has it all.  This book has been spinning through my head for the past few days.  I liked it…I did; but, as neatly and as clearly as everything was wrapped up in the end, I cannot figure out how we got there.  Now, obviously, if you have been reading these posts you know I am seriously distracted and unable to completely focus; I do recognize it could have been me fading out, not the book.  It was very interesting, lots of twists – interesting and not so predictable ones.  Slightly quirky, maybe even slightly scattered (in a good way), I do recommend reading this novel.  If nothing else, it certainly speaks well of the author that I am still thinking about the characters days later.

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 3:04 am  Comments (2)  
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divorce

Okay, so I know this is supposed to be about books, at least loosely if nothing else.  But, this has nothing to do with any novel; it has everything to do with life and why in the hell do people do the things they do?  I feel safe in saying that I do not need to make the pronouncement that divorce sucks.  Everyone has been affected by it in one way or another, and it isn’t pleasant from any perspective – excepting, perhaps, that guy on the other side of the desk being paid $300 an hour – yes, that’s right, he is worth $5 a minute.  I chose the wrong major.  Now, if someone would kindly explain why some feel the need to take this horrible process and make it worse.  Greed, ego, pride?  Even after you have remarried?  Why?  Does it ever occur to these people to look inward, instead of outward for an explanation of their unhappiness?   No, of course not, “it must be the ex-wife’s fault that I am not happy”…what-the-hell-ever!

I can honestly say that if it weren’t for my ex-husband’s constant crap, the only time I would see him would be when we meet for him to pick up the girls, and the conversation wouldn’t go beyond ‘hello’.  I learned a long time ago that he is still not done yelling at me and accusing me of God-only -knows what (I don’t really listen anymore – and I sure as hell don’t pick up the phone – pretty sure that is why caller id was invented).  Now, this seems funny to me as he moved in with his current wife before our divorce was final, and was married within a couple of months of that.  Why am I even still on his radar?  Oh, now I remember, he resents having to pay child support – it is my fault he had 3 minutes of fun (3 girls), so now society expects him to support them, and he thinks Ron (my husband) should.  In all fairness to Ron, he actually does support them – financially (private school for M, clothes for all 3, ballet, pottery, Y memberships, health ins, cell phones) and emotionally (both foreign concepts to the aforementioned).  So now, he is taking me to court in order to have child support reduced – he is actually hoping for a total change, one that will enable him to receive the checks.

Because I cannot really understand the logic of his argument, I am going to review what actually happened (to the best of my recollection) at mediation:

He: “I really don’t want our spouses to be responsible for our children”

He: “Even though she currently has no income (unemployed teacher – aside: I don’t know about your area, but all of our schools are cutting way back for the second year in a row), I would like to have her income calculated at her teaching salary.  Incidentally, because of the economy, my salary (with an MBA) has been cut back to $16,000″…sorry about your bad luck.

Me: “I understand the frustration of marking my income as $0, so, Ms. Mediator, would you please make the calculation based on my income being the same as his?  Then we will have 50/50 responsibility.”

He: “I don’t think that is the legal number.  Isn’t it possible the judge will impute  her old salary since she left her job voluntarily (to get married and move to live in the same city with her husband)?

He: “I don’t think we can make a decision here.  I want to wait for the judge to give me the legal numbers.”  Thanks for playing.

So, just in case you missed it – because he obviously did – he doesn’t want our spouses to be responsible for our children, but he wants to have my income calculated at twice his.  Where would the money come from to support our girls?  Yes, that’s right, my husband.  But, I thought he didn’t want our spouses to be responsible?  Oh, he meant his spouse….

Now, as a little background, Ron and I got married in November of 2008 while actually residing in two different cities. I stayed where I was so I could finish out the school year.  The girls and I moved in June 2009.  My oldest daughter, a senior this year, decided to stay with her dad so she wouldn’t have to change schools.  As a result, my ex- husband reduced child support according to his own calculation – not through the legal system (as a result of his impending crap, I have filed a request to recoup that for the girls since apparently he is no longer interested in supporting them – after all, he did request the legal numbers).  Because of a profound lack of responsibility on his part, she was without car insurance from June to December – don’t worry he gave her a car as part of the deal.  She was covered on our insurance, but he didn’t know that until November.   Then, 2 weeks after her 18th birthday, and 1 month after filing for custody of her, he kicked her out of his house, telling her school he was not responsible for her and did not know where she was living (crap, btw).  Because I know you are wondering, she was kicked out of the house because she had no prospects  or even an apparent willingness to get a job so she could pay her father rent to prove she was learning to be responsible.  Not that it has any bearing on the subject, but how many high school seniors do you know that pay rent to live in their parent’s home?  Did he pay rent?  The answer is no – not in high school and not in grad school when he was living in a house bought by his parents specifically for the use of their children while in school.  And when her high school nurse called him because she was sick, he told her he was not responsible for her and didn’t know who was.  Nice.

So, will someone please explain to me why he believes me to be the evil one?  Granted, I am sarcastic and potentially quite bitchy, but when did I say I would not tolerate a reduction in child support?  Wasn’t I the one who offered to have my salary marked as equal to his even though it is actually 0?  How is it that an MBA can justify a reduction in salary to 16,000, but it is impossible to believe I cannot find a job?  And, how can it possibly be worth taking me to court over?  Lawyers (as stated above) are not cheap.  So, why?

It is not to gain a closer relationship with his daughters.  It may shock you to learn that they are not tremendously impressed to discover he isn’t interested in paying child support.  Not only is Susan hurt and furious for being misled into his home – then thrown out – but, her sister is even more upset and extremely protective.  So, he may be able to knock child support down to nothing, but in the meantime, he has lost 2 of 3 daughters (the 3rd one is 6, she is not aware of anything going on).  Worth it?  Certainly wouldn’t be to me.

This also begs the explanation of why I should continue to drive an hour to meet him halfway between our homes so he can see the girls, when he is obviously unwilling to pay for half of their expenses.  He actually told the judge that if I wanted to continue to support Susan while she was living at her friend’s house that was fine, but since she is 18, we weren’t obligated.  So, he doesn’t contribute.  He actually believes Susan’s friend’s family is responsible for supporting her.  How does a person arrive at this conclusion?  And, him giving her money for college? – that idea has always been laughable, but now he has the justification to cut her out.  A real peach, isn’t he?

We are going to end up somewhere in the ball park of receiving $50 per week for 3 children – one of whom is already receiving tuition bills (she doesn’t start until Aug).

So, here’s my advice: when your ex looks at you and offers to have support calculated equally (and at more than she is making) – take it and run.  She may not continue to be that nice.  And I feel pretty confident saying that whatever financial gain you may receive in the end, it will take a long time to recoup the lawyer fees; and even longer to recoup the relationship with your children.

Oh, and don’t read this thinking my advice about divorce is “don’t do it”…as big as a pain as this is, I am thankful everyday I am not dealing with him on an hourly or even daily basis.

******UPDATE*******

The court actually agrees with Mark on this one…WOW…Socialism at it’s finest… An MBA who’s proud of the $16,000 income, taking money from his children by claiming I should be making $38,000 (as if he shouldn’t be making at least twice that) – and legally removing his oldest from his list of obligations.  I know you’re jealous you didn’t find one as great as this to be the father of your children.

Lucky for them, they have the greatest “step”father in the world!

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 3:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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