Saturday, October 19, 2013

I'm taking back Saturday

Generally each semester I begin to feel like I'm losing my mind during the brief two or so weeks back to school after Thanksgiving and then for sure I'm nervous breakdown material during Finals week.  
This semester, however, I already feel that way.

There are a lot of reasons that are out of my control that I won't go into here.

This is not an academic blog.
This is not an academic blog. 

But, I got  a pretty harsh reminder this past week of the things I CAN control. 

The man I love, my best friend, the man I can't fathom living without, decided to try and have a heart attack this past week.
Sure did.

As a matter of fact, two weeks ago on a Friday night, he actually thought he was having one.  
The girls and I were there, and it was my birthday weekend.  
He didn't say a word.
When he finally revealed this news to the cardiologist this past Monday, I almost fell off my stool.
I said, "Why didn't you say anything????" 
He said, "Well, I just wanted to see what would happen?"



A couple of weeks before my birthday weekend he decided to run (he can't stand it that I might be better than him at something ;P)
When he got back, he said he felt as if his chest was on fire. 
This was another piece of information he didn't share until this past Monday.

Hardhead did, in fact, make an appt. with his general practitioner after his running experience.  The doctor examined him and recommended that he have a stress test. 
Butthead agreed to have the stress test and made the appt. before he left the doctor's office.
A few days later, the doctor's office called to remind him of his appt. and also to tell him he needed to bring approximately $800 with him to pay up front for the test.

Now, I won't go into a whole other story here to tell you that we work our butts off and have a chunk of our salaries taken out each month for health insurance.  
I also won't go into a whole other story to tell you that my husband is so tight that he squeaks when he walks.  
Husband tried to explain that we have health insurance and that our deductible was met.  
Doctor's office lady argued with him and said that wasn't what her computer showed.

Yep, husband said, "Nevermind. Cancel the appt. then."
He showed them!!



Fast forward to the events of my birthday weekend, and Caveman decides maybe the stress test is worth the $800.
He called the doctor's office back on Monday and re-scheduled the test for this past Friday.

Long story short (too late, I know), Heart Attack waiting to happen flunked his stress test.
The doctor put him on nitroglycerin and aspirin through the weekend and got him on the cardiologist's schedule for first thing Monday morning. 
Admitted him to the hospital.
Performed a heart cath.
Inserted a stent to keep Pain in my Behind's artery open so that he would not die.
Seriously.



As they wheeled him away from me, not knowing exactly what they would find, I can't really even describe what I felt.  
He's supposed to be the invincible one.
He always has been.
He saved me a long, long time ago.
And saves me still more often than I care to admit. 

Now, it was time for me to save him. 



I can't control his job. 
But, I can recommend and let him know that I'm ok if he wants to do something different.  
I can control what he eats at home.
And, I will.
Even though he says, "I ain't eatin' no salad!" 
and 
"I'm not a giraffe!" 
or 
"I might as well go out and graze in the front yard!"



I will continue to make our home a respite.  
A place where work doesn't enter.
A place where letting down your hair and getting comfortable are the rules of thumb. 

I will also take back my Saturdays.
No more grading papers.
I will take naps with my husband (huge sacrifice, yes ;)
I will be strong.
I will take care of myself.
And, I will pray that the years we have left together will be as good as the years we've had together so far. 

Go give somebody you love a huge hug and kiss from me :)


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke - TLC Book Review


The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
Harper Perennial, 2012

Format? paperback

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclaimer - The publisher provided me a complimentary copy of The Cutting Season in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Title? Sugar cane and all that it implies...

Cover? beautiful...quiet and foggy...carrying the fog of the past into the present...love it.

I was reminded of? Murder at Monticello by Rita Mae Brown, John Grisham's A Time to Kill

Why? I'm a Southerner...through and through, warts and all.  I'm an easy target with a book like this one, but I also have high expectations.. 

What Now? Locke is an author to watch.  I've already added her debut novel Black Water Rising to my WishList and will snatch up anything else she writes.


Golden Lines

It was during the Thompson-Delacroix wedding, Caren's first week on the job, that a cottonmouth, measuring the length of a Cadillac, fell some twenty feet from a live oak on the front lawn, landing like a coil of rope in the lap of the bride's future mother-in-law.  It only briefly stopped the ceremony, this being Louisana after all. (3)

"'Cakes," Caren said, swallowing hard, "I need you to tell me the truth."
"I am." 
Caren could hardly look at her.  She lowered her eyes, her gaze falling on the stain, lying face up between them.  She saw its twin in her mind.  She saw the open grave and the dead woman and the shock of blood that soaked the front of her clothes. (78)

She could still smell him in the room, long after he was gone. (153)

The night silence between them was briefly filled with the soft rustling of cane leaves in the distance. (172)

There were no brides in here, no catered affairs, no twinkling lights on the north lawn.  There was no spectacle, no scenery sure to charm.  There was just history, naked and plain. (232)

Some place cheap and clean and close to work. 
Ines had been looking for a place to stay. (254)

"There's a story about this place, about the history, that he wants told." (266)

Ken Wiggams, the black guy, was the only one who didn't venture into the slave village, never setting foot on the dirt path.  He stood apart from the others, his hands shoved in the pockets of his black slacks, his mouth pinched into a bitter, grudging expression, and it occurred to Caren that she should have found a way to bring this man out here alone, away from his white colleagues, that her last-ditch effort to save the plantation might have gone better if she hadn't put him in the difficult position of necessarily viewing himself as two men at once: a president and a descendant of slaves. (366)


Short and Sweet Summary

Caren Gray and her daughter Morgan live at Belle Vie, a Southern sugar cane antebellum plantation in Louisiana.  Caren's mother was the cook at Belle Vie for many years while Caren grew up, and Caren returned in her own adulthood to the place she connected to the most as a home.  Caren runs the site for its owners, organizing field trips, cultural tours, and hosting events...until one day a body turns up and an antique cane knife goes missing out of the old slave quarters.  It becomes apparent very quickly that there is a part of Belle Vie's history that refuses to remain silent.

What I Liked

LOVE the pen and ink map of the estate Belle Vie.  I didn't need a lot of help visualizing the plantation, but the map helped me follow Caren along her early morning solitary rides through the property and her nighttime sprints from the front gate to the house.

Caren's personal connection to the past as well as the present and especially the careful dance in which she must participate for the well-being of her daughter and the others who work at Belle Vie.  Should the past stay in the past or should the real truth be told?  And, who gets to decide?

The connection between Eric and Caren - their past and their daughter ties them together forever...but not in the way that you think.  A very realistic portrayal of a complicated relationship in a complicated world.

The discussion of race - our students question history.  They wonder how history is relevant to their present day lives since "slavery is over" or racial issues are only discussed as a part of the Civil Rights Era.  I love the way Locke blends the past with the present and shows how history is always with us.  History will also lead us if we'll just follow it.  

The "romance" - there's just enough that it doesn't even border on sappy...and it's very real, raw, emotional romance.

What I Didn't Like

The Clancy's and the neverending reminders that their family "did so much for Karen and her mama."


Overall Recommendation

This is a must read if you are the least bit interested in Southern Literature, plantation life, or just a dang good, chill bumps down your spine kind of mystery.

The Author





Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, September 17th: red headed book child
Wednesday, September 18th: Time 2 Read
Thursday, September 19th: Book-alicious Mama
Monday, September 23rd: BoundbyWords
Tuesday, September 24th: Kritters Ramblings
Thursday, September 26th: Lectus
Monday, September 30th: Booksie’s Blog
Tuesday, October 1st: Olduvai Reads
Monday, October 7th: M. Denise C. 
Friday, October 18th: Peppermint PhD

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

TLC Book Review - Backlash by Lynda La Plante


Backlash by Lynda La Plante
HarperCollins 2013

Format? paperback

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours
**FTC Disclaimer - The publisher provided me a complimentary copy of Backlash.  However, the review below and the opinions therein are offered without bias.

Why? I'm a sucker for a series...a sucker, I tell you...especially when it involves a tough as nails, survivor female lead :)

What Now? I need to back up and read the rest of this series.  There were many times while reading Backlash that I wondered about people or times in Anna Travis's life that LaPlante mentions, but I never felt left out.  LaPlante offers just enough info so that the reader is curious about the other books but also won't have any problem following the narrative of this particular installment.


Golden Lines

After keeping her waiting on the doorstep for five minutes, Langton buzzed her in; when she reached the front door of the flat it was ajar.  Someone had obviously cleared up as the main room was tidier than when she had been there previously.  Placing the groceries and vodka in the kitchen, which was also clear of dirty dishes, she called out, asking if he wanted her to make a coffee or tea.
"Just bring in the vodka and some ice," he called back. (100)

"If it's not a rude question, why are you playing with dollies over there? (152)

You are a good little detective, aren't you?  Yeah, I take all that, but you don't know how or where I killed her, do you?" (291)


Summary

Henry Oates is caught in the middle of the night with a dead body in the back of his van.  What ensues after he's arrested is a cat and mouse trail of truth vs. lies to find out exactly what happened to the young woman in the van and 4 others like her, including a 13 year old.
Still reeling from grief DCI Anna Travis is called on the case by injured DCS James Langton. She's been assigned a new post in Cold Cases, but Langton knows she's got the goods to pull these cases together and put their psychopath away for good and give closure to the families of the dead girls.

What I Liked

Langton - I can't help it...he's a jackass...but I like DCI Langton.  He says what he wants, doesn't pretend anything, and does his job better than anybody.  He's also got a soft side for Anna even though he doesn't let anybody see it.

Anna Travis - even though the pining she expressed from time to time in Backlash didn't really fit her character to me, I still like Anna Travis's control over the situation.  She commands respect and gets it.  She isn't afraid to stand up for herself and demands others do their jobs as well as she does hers.  She isn't even afraid of Langton who can even make some of the men officers legs' shake.  The final scene with Travis and Langton is just about as emotionally perfect as possible...and so powerful that I even forgave her for being a little melancholy in Backlash.


What I Didn't Like

There were times when the details became tedious...now, this is a police procedural so any reader would expect some of that...but it really felt slow at times.  I'm sure that's the way real police work happens unlike the CSI episodes another character's mother watches.

Anna Travis is a little whinier than I would have liked.  She runs into old lovers, sees their lives as fulfilled and hers as not.  Of course, she's still dealing with the grief associated with the death of her fiance', but it grated on my nerves a little and didn't really fit her character to me.

Henry Oates - evil is alive and well in this world.


Overall Recommendation

If you like mystery/detective series with strong female leads partnered with just as strong male lead, both of whom are struggling with their demons, without the romantic distraction, this is the book for you.  


The Author



Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, October 15th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Wednesday, October 16th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, October 17th: Booksie’s Blog
Monday, October 21st: A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, October 22nd: Booked on a Feeling
Thursday, October 24th: Literary Feline
Monday, October 28th: Veronica M.D.
Tuesday, October 29th: 5 Minutes For Books
Wednesday, October 30th: Mockingbird Hill Cottage
Thursday, October 31st: Wordsmithonia
Monday, November 4th: Ace and Hoser Blook

Monday, October 14, 2013

Confessions of Marie Antoinette - Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tour


Confessions of Marie Antoinette by Juliet Grey
Ballantine, 2013 

Source? the publisher via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours

Why? I only knew the legend...and the controversy behind the legend...I wanted to know more.

What next? I'll be spending some time with Grey's extensive bibliography :)


Golden Lines

They call me l'Autrichenne - the Austrian bitch - but I have been a Frenchwoman since I was fourteen, for longer than many of the rioters are old. (41)

It pains me to live a lie, but I also tell myself every day at Mass when I seek forgiveness for my transgressions that at least we live.  We play our enemies' game, but do so in our own way, so that we don't seem transparently false by appearing overzealous to adopt an ideology we cannot possibly accept or believe in.  (69)

We are lost.
Utterly lost.  And all because in this upside-down world an old man still respects his sovereign. (155)

In my view, the best thing would be a return to absolute monarchy: We are not a nation of shopkeepers like the English. (180)


Louis is more morose than ever.  He spends hours in his library.  His prayer book is never far from his hand and he is rereading the life of Charles I of England, a monarch whose unhappy fate he has always sought to avoid. (196)

That night, the nation's razor, Dr. Guillotin's hideous invention, is moved from the courtyard of the Conciergerie to the center of the Place du Carrousel, directly opposite the central portal of the still smoldering Tuileries Palace. (263)

We are being visited by the slaughter of the innocents.  What has this to do with revolution?  With the formation of a republic from the ashes of monarchy? (278)

"I heard you crying, Maman." Madame Royale tiptoes into my bedchamber and slips under the coverlet beside me.  My thirteen-year-old daughter wraps her arms about my neck, and burrows against me as if she wishes to crawl back inside my body where it is warm and innocent and safe. (284)

I have run out of time. (361)


Summary

Confessions of Marie Antoinette walks the reader through the last years of King Louis XVI's reign, the politics of the French Revolution, and The Reign of Terror.  Austrian born, controversial queen, Marie Antoinette lives her last days as a prisoner of the Nation.  

What I Liked

I love the way Grey is able to paint an honest picture of Marie Antoinette...in all her high bred snootiness...in such a way that the reader is able to see her through the eyes of her birthright and a monarchy amidst Revolution and not through a 21st century perspective.  

The history - wow...I really need a refresher on both the Revolution as well as the French monarchy.  I did feel left out a time or two, but just because I didn't recognize some of the names.  I plan to remedy that soon.

The violence - now, don't get me wrong...I didn't "like" the violence.  But, I think it's easy for the realities of history and especially war or revolution to be forgotten among the shouts of patriotism, the chest thumping victories, and the egotism.  People die.  People, including men, women, and children. And, sometimes very painful horrendous deaths.  


What I Didn't Like

The sadness - like King Henry VIII, I've always felt sorry for Marie Antoinette.  If you are the least bit familiar with her story, you begin this last book of the Grey's trilogy with the knowledge that there won't be happily ever after ending.  What truly adds to the sadness of her story is Grey's use of Marie Antoinette herself as the narrator.

The irritation - Marie Antoinette is much maligned in history, and there were certainly genuine reasons. Even though I have always felt sorry for her, even I clenched my teeth when she ordered a new wardrobe or commissioned toilet water or was worried about what furniture she could or could not take with her as she, King Louis, and their children attempted to escape for their lives.


Overall Recommendation

If you like historical fiction that is rich with historical detail and holds true to the history instead of replacing reality with fantasy, then you'll want to read Grey's trilogy of Marie Antoinette.


The Author



Other Stops on the Tour

VIRTUAL BOOK TOUR SCHEDULE

Tuesday, September 17
Review & Giveaway at Luxury Reading
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, September 18
Review at A Bookish Libraria
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Friday, September 20

Monday, September 23
Review at Reading Treasure
Review at Unabridged Chick

Tuesday, September 24
Interview at Reading Treasure

Wednesday, September 25
Interview at Diary of a Book Addict

Thursday, September 26
Guest Post & Giveaway at The Eclectic Reader

Friday, September 27
Review & Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Monday, September 30
Guest Post & Giveaway at The True Book Addict

Tuesday, October 1
Review & Giveaway at Bippity Boppity Book
Interview & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, October 2
Review & Giveaway at Confessions of an Avid Reader
Author Live Chat at Scandalous Women

Thursday, October 3

Friday, October 4
Review & Interview at A Chick Who Reads

Monday, October 7
Review at Layered Pages
Review at Devourer of Books

Tuesday, October 8
Review at Medieval Bookworm
Interview at Layered Pages

Wednesday, October 9
Review & Giveaway at A Bookish Affair
Review & Giveaway at Book Drunkard

Thursday, October 10
Review at Between the Pages

Friday, October 11
Interview at Between the Pages

Monday, October 14
Review at Peppermint, Ph.D.
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Tuesday, October 15
Review & Giveaway at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, October 16