Thursday, July 29, 2010
Every Last One by Anna Quindlen: I was excited to see that Anna Quindlen had written a new book. I loved Black and Blue and many of her collections of essays and I hadn't seen anything substantial from her in a long time. The description of the book sounded interesting as well - the story of a mom dealing with the trials of parenthood and especially her concerns over her youngest son. Quindlen did an amazing job of capturing the life and role of a typical suburban mom. I could identify completely with Mary Beth as she goes through the days of soccer practices, prom planning and guitar lessons. And then the story takes a completely unexpected turn that takes my breath away. Unlike Little Bee by Chris Cleave, Every Last One is a book that you shouldn't know too much about before you read it. My suggestion is not to read any reviews or to let anyone tell you too much about the plot. Let the story unfold naturally. I loved this book. It would be a great book club selection. But I don't want to say anything else about it. I gave Every Last One 4 stars - I really liked it.
Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson: I had heard about this book at least a year ago (way before it became so popular) and decided that because it's a mystery/suspense/crime thriller, I wasn't interested. Then the books in the series (this is book one in a trilogy) simply exploded in popularity and I decided I had to see for myself what all the fuss is about. On top of that, my personal book club chose this book for our July selection. I will admit that I was excited to read it and was all ready to love it and anxiously devour the other two books in the series. Well, that didn't happen. While it is a good mystery/suspense/crime thriller, it isn't good enough to make me want to read more. At least not right now. Maybe next time I'm in the mood for that type of book I will pick up the next book. But for right now, I've had my fill. I gave Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 3 stars - I liked it.
The Woman Who Can't Forget: The Extraordinary Story of Living With the Most Remarkable Memory Known to Science by Jill Price and Bart Davis: I stumbled upon this book quite by accident. I happened to be in a library in a nearby town when I decided to check out their collection of playaways. There are not a lot of books available on playaway through my library system, so in order to find one to read I really do need to browse the titles and see if something captures my interest. And that is exactly how I found this intriguing memoir. The title caught my eye, since I have an interest in psychology and medicine and the study of memory is a big part of the study of psychology (I have a degree in psychology). I found Jill's story absolutely fascinating. She has a remarkable autobiographical memory in that she is able to remember, in great detail, every single day of her life from the age of about 10 on. And she has many vivid memories from even earlier. She is not a savant who can perform great feats of mathematical skill nor can she recall long lists of words. Instead her memory is one that does not let her forget one single moment of her life. And these memories come to her, oftentimes, unbidden. And not just pleasant memories, but all her horrible memories as well. In addition, she experiences all the emotions of those memories each time the memory is recalled. For Jill, this ability has been a huge burden for her. I found her story fascinating. I'm not sure this book would be for everyone since it does go into some detail on memory research, brain studies and diagnostic testing. But if you have an interest in the topic, I recommend it. I gave The Woman Who Can't Forget 4 stars - I really liked it.
How about you? Have you read any good books lately? Any bad books?
Monday, July 26, 2010
As I was reading the list, I found myself nodding my head in recognition and agreement and even smiling and reminiscing a little bit. And then it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. OMG! I'M OLD. This is one of those "good old days" lists that old people talk about when they complain about kids "these days" and here I am nodding my head in agreement and recalling those "good old days" of my youth. *gulp* What a reality check.
Later that day, I went grocery shopping with my 15 year old daughter, Madeleine. While I went up and down the aisles filling our cart, she stood at the deli and ordered our lunchmeat and cheese for sandwiches (ah, the joys of having older children. I hate waiting at the deli. It feels like a monumental waste of time.) Anyway... When we got home and were putting away the groceries Madeleine told me that waiting at the deli had made her feel old. Really? Just how old can a 15 year old feel? Well, it seems that when Madeleine ordered some sliced American cheese, the deli worker offered a slice to the adorable little boy waiting nearby with his mother. She did not offer a slice to Madeleine. In that moment Madeleine realized that, in the eyes of the world, she is no longer a child. And it made her feel sad... and old.
Apparently being "old" is all a matter of perspective. Ah, dear Madeleine, I know how you feel.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Most of you probably know (or have figured out by know), that I'm not the most technologically advanced creature on the planet. I'm not a gadget guru and I tend to like to do things the "old-fashioned way". Well, the times they are a changin'. Recently I've found myself using (and enjoying!) two technological gadgets! Go figure.
It all started at the beginning of July when I realized that the fact that my walking buddy was not available was not a good reason to stop exercising. (Canceling my membership to Curves was not a good excuse, either. Whatever). I had to do something.
From past experience, I know that walking by myself is just too boring. I get about 3 1/2 minutes from home and I'm wondering if I can turn around and still count it as a workout. I considered listening to books while I walk, but I don't have an iPod and even if I did I'm sure I wouldn't be able to figure out how to download books to it. I've tried walking with a CD player in the past and that just doesn't work very well. Too much jostling. Then I discovered the most wonderful new gadget. Playaways! Digital books that can be checked out of the library! How perfect is that. Each Playaway contains one complete book and is about the size of a deck of cards (see image above). Now I can hardly wait to get out there and walk in the mornings. How's that for multitasking - reading and exercising all at the same time. Can't beat it.
And if discovering Playaways wasn't enough, I also think I've fallen in love with my Kindle. I know, I know. I never thought it would happen. When I bought the Kindle last summer to take on vacation I thought I would hate it and was surprised that I didn't. But I still considered it solely a tool for traveling. I used it again on this vacation and decided that I actually do like reading on it. I even downloaded and read a book on it after I got home. Holy moly, what's happening to me? I don't think I will continue to do that, however. I'm not accustomed to paying for books and even with the discounted Kindle price, I can't see myself spending $50-$60 a month to read. I just can't get my mind around that. Maybe I'll use it for really hot new books. Then I won't have to wait to get the book from the library. We'll see. In any case, I'm a little surprised by all this. Who says you can't teach a old dog new tricks?
How about you? Do you prefer to read the old-fashioned way or are you totally techno? Have you tried Playaways? I'd love to hear what you think.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
I have to admit that I was less than thrilled about the destination of our family vacation this year - Disney World. Now I know that many people, maybe even you, love Disney World and some people go year after year after year. Let's just say that I'm not one of those people. Years ago, when my girls were 5 and 3 and then again when they were 8 and 6, we went to Disneyland. (We lived in AZ at the time). It was fun to watch the girls experience the magic of Fantasy Land. But, now the girls are 17 and 15 and I'm just not feeling it. Not to mention that Disney World is in FLORIDA and it's JULY! Yeah, it was hot. And humid. But, I was overruled this year and I sucked it up and took one for the team.
So, here's the Cliff's Notes version of my summer vacation.
We stayed at Saratoga Springs Resort. It was a beautiful resort and our suite was lovely (not that I spent all that much time there, but still...)
Meeting Anita from A Wife, A Woman, A Mom!!!! Yes, I met a real life blogging buddy. It was amazing. Anita picked me up at my hotel and we spent the next 7 hours chatting in a bookstore, chatting over dinner and chatting over hot fudge sundaes with my family. For those of you who know Anita through her blog, I'm pleased to report that she is just as sweet, funny and charming in real life as she is in blogland. She even drove an hour to meet up with me! How nice was that? Meeting Anita was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
There were some other good moments:
Arriving at our room and finding a lovely gift bag full of Disney snacks, water bottles and fruit from my friend and travel agent, Colleen! Thanks Colleen! That was so sweet and very appreciated.
Harry Potter's Wizarding World (is that what it's called?) at Universal Studios was amazing. Well worth the 90 minute wait to get on the "big" ride.
And we had some nice meals. Katie and Madeleine had a wonderful time and that was fun to witness. All in all, it wasn't as horrible as I feared it would be.
And just in case you are dying to see more vacation photos, here are few more of my favorites: