Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell - TLC Book Review

The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell
HarperCollins 2013

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

Why? I love a gothic tale...and this sounded like it fit the bill.

I was reminded of? The Walking Dead, We Always Lived in a Castle, CSI, A Series of Unfortunate Events

What Now?  I'm relieved...and I will be the first to grab the next book O'Donnell writes.  The Death of Bees is going in my glass shelves.

Golden Lines

We're on our own now.  Izzy and Gene are dead and no one can know what we've done with them.  (9)

He burst at the seams, body fluid everywhere, on the carpet, on the walls, a swamp of poison.  
"You beastly, beastly man," says Nelly (15)

They will misunderstand entirely because they want to, but if anyone should ask, ask if I'm okay, I'll tell them.  I'll say, "No, I'm not okay, my lover is dead.  His name was Joseph and today would have been our ruby anniversary." (39)

Even though I have straight As, the smell of tobacco on my breath and an obvious lack of innocence gives them permission to shake their heads in dismay, as if disappointment and failure is a destiny I can't avoid. (52)

"A painful slut." Grammy sighed.
"Well, you should know," spits Mother.

Lennie's starting to suspect something and so is his stupid dog.  He's always sniffing about the flower beds.  I caught him the other day frantically flinging dirt between his paws, he actually pulled up Gene's arm, just like that, and I totally shat myself. (85)

Sounds brutal I know, but what do you want, with my background I should be a serial killer.  Count your blessings (133)

I hope to die in my sleep, Joseph, not knowing, just closing my eyes and forgetting the things I am leaving behind.  I don't want to die with my heart breaking.  I don't want to die at all. (161)

He says with good grades anything is possible, but with my attitude Vlado reckons opportunity might be snatched from me.
"Everything must shift in here, or life will eat you up," he says and thumps his heart. (210)

I have come here to ask you if you loved me and if you loved Nelly.
I have come here to ask.
I have come here. (239)

There is no moment in which we say good-bye, there is no finality as he slips into peacefulness, he simply leaves us, and though I seek courage when he passes I am weakened by tears, but I must hide them for he leaves us a lie to conceal, a lie he sent to save us. (268)

Short and Sweet Summary

Marnie, 15, and Nelly, 12, bury their abusive mother and father in the garden.  Keeping their secret turns out to be more complicated than they ever imagined.

What I Liked

Nelly - I couldn't help it...what a little impish Jane Austen :)

Marnie - it took me a little longer to like Marnie...I didn't dislike her; she just kept shocking me.  I kept waiting for her train to crash.  She kept jumping out right before or right after impact, and that started to impress me.  She's a survivor, this one.

Lennie - I was wary of Lennie at first as well...a perfect example of the real person deep inside what the outside world thinks it knows.

Vlado - ditto what I said about Lennie

The ending - in theory I wouldn't like an ending like this.  I can't realy explain myself without spoilers, so I won't.  But fairy tales are nice sometimes.

What I Didn't Like

The Death of Bees is one of those books that makes you wince in the first couple of pages.
For a lot of reasons.
Several of those wincing moments have to deal with the F word.  And, I don't mean fruit. 
I lost count of how many times it was used...and mostly uttered by children.
This alone would make me limit who I would recommend this book to.  

Omgoodness, the comma splices...on purpose of course, for effect.  
But, I'm an English teacher in full essay grading mode, and it was hard to get over.  By the end, however, I was so caught up in the story that I barely noticed anymore.  

Heavy, heavy sadness.  These two children, living among filth, abuse, violence, addiction, name it; they live with it.

Izzy and Gene - good riddance.

Robert T. Macdonald - as if Nelly and Marnie hadn't had to deal with enough...when he entered the story, I really began to see parallels to A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Overall Recommendation

If you don't mind a little gore and some hefty language, and you love a darker gothic novel of survival of innocents, The Death of Bees should be your next read...especially during the Fall/Halloween season.

The Author

Other Stops on the Tour

Tuesday, October 22nd: guiltless reading
Wednesday, October 23rd: Peppermint PhD
Friday, October 25th: Booksie’s Blog
Monday, October 28th: she treads softly
Tuesday, October 29th: BoundbyWords
Wednesday, October 30th: Book-alicious Mama
Thursday, October 31st: Olduvai Reads
Monday, November 4th: Love at First Book
Tuesday, November 5th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, November 6th: red headed book child
Thursday, November 7th: From the TBR Pile
Tuesday, November 12th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bath and Body Works - One of my favorite things :)

I'm a longtime fan of Bath and Body Works.
I'm a longtime fan of baths.
Bubble Baths to be specific.
And, I've always had a really sensitive sense of smell.  I either love something...or I don't.  
The "I don'ts" are tough.  

There have been times in my life that I, like everyone else in the world, have tried to cut back on "extras" in order to stick to my budget, and from time to time, bath stuff has gotten crossed off the list.

My middle daughter now works at Bath and Body Works.
 To say that my love for this store has been re-ignited would be an understatement. 
The middle daughter knows that if she needs a little more to make a segment, just give ole mom a call.  
There's always something on my list :P

The youngest daughter is a "Germ-X" afficianado.

She has 37 of those little dudes at present...and counting.
This past weekend, middle daughter texted me from work, letting me know that a little girl who just came in with her mom bragged that she currently holds the record at 47 "Germ-Xs" and that I needed to tell my youngest.
The youngest was silenced by the obvious seriousness of this other child's collecting abilities.
And, silence for this kid is saying a lot.

A few weeks ago, my middle daughter mentioned that a really good friend of mine had visited the store.
This good friend is a Vegan, so my curiosity was piqued.
Turns out Bath and Body Works conducts absolutely no animal testing whatsoever at all on their products.
I had no idea.
Bath and Body Works does not shout this policy from the rooftops.
They just kinda go on with life as if no animal testing and cruelty free products are a normal, average, everyday happening.

I did some research, and guess what?
Cruelty free products are actually some of the hardest products to find.
As a matter of fact, most of the household brands I have used in the past are actually on the list of "uses animal testing at some point in their manufacturing process"

Now, I'm a visual blogger.
But, I'm not going to show you pics of bunnies with different colored hair or eye creams clogging their eyes, or even patches of skin missing from allergic reactions.
Those photos seriously upset me, and I don't want them here.
If you want to see them, all you have to do is google.
Go ahead; I'll wait. 

My problem is Why?
Why is it important for a bunny to lose an eye or suffer a reaction to a product that is essentially and "add on" to my life?
Most of us who use these products would never torture bunnies.
But, by buying these products, we are actually giving permission to a middle man to do just that.
I, for one, am not doing it anymore.

Bring on my Bath and Body Works, my Burts Bees, my Aveda, and my Bare Minerals make-up and body products.  
Bring on my bubble baths with extra special scents to mark the season and my candles that flicker at night and help me unwind after a run or even just a stressful day.
Bring it.
Because from now on, that's where my money is going.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Dear Sunday, You're Next!

I took back Saturday yesterday.
Now, it's Sunday's turn.

We have a new minister at our church.  
And for the last few Sundays, I've been taken away during his sermons as to how he can take a very familiar passage of the bible, add context to it, and then help us apply it to our lives.  
He doesn't "preach" hellfire and brimstones (most Methodist preachers don't), but you don't leave feeling if you hadn't measured up in some way.  
He preaches the word, scaffolds the application, and then lets the individual take it from there.
I leave church uplifted...even when we've talked about something I know I've got to work on.  

How's that for a church service?

I've always had a strong faith.
I don't even really know how to explain it. 

But, I have wavered in my daily time spent with Him.
And reading my bible.  

I spend enormous amounts of time reading other things, magazines, blogs, Facebook, novels, essays etc...but somehow my bible has fallen, once again, by the wayside.
I want to bring it back.

My friend Roan wrote the other day about how she copies scripture as part of her devotions...and I couldn't believe how I had somehow missed this very simple hands on approach to reading my bible. 
A bible reading strategy that involves actively engaging with the word the through reading, annotating, and writing.
This way I can devote a part of my day every day to focusing on the word of God doing things that I do best and strategies that have worked for me all my life.
Just like daily exercise, I have to exercise my faith.

Not because I have to.
But, because I WANT to.

I believe we are all offered Grace...we simply must reach out and take it.
Faith shouldn't be forced on anyone.  That was never Jesus's intention.
I don't force my faith on anyone, and I don't intend to start here.  
But, this blog is a huge part of me, and I'm pretty much an open book.
I've decided that my faith should also follow me here.

I also selfishly thought about all the beautiful journals I could now justify buying in order to copy my scriptures :)
I never said I was perfect.

I'm going to start with the Psalms.
I think I just need some music and poetry right now in the wake of my husband's heart issues last week.
Our youngest children sang "Jesus Loves Me" this morning during our service, and there was one little girl who swayed with the music, sang sweetly above the rest of the children, and raised her hands innocently, allowing herself to be taken away by the song, completely ignoring the fact that she was standing in front of the entire congregation.
I want to be like her.

This morning our pastor preached on Genesis 32:22-31
Jacob's wrestling match with the angel in the middle of the night.

Jacob was born holding on to his brother Esau's heel.

And, he lived his life that way, trying to grab onto the heel of others to propel himself forward.
A familiar bible story that showcases his personality vividly is when he stole Esau's birthright by dressing up like Esau, hairy and smelly like his hunter brother, in exchange for a stew.

Jacob pretended he was someone he was not.
And God saw through that.  Just as He does with all of us.  
Like Jacob, we wear our own smelly facades because we want people to see the person we want them to see.
A lot of people spend a lot of time and energy pretending.

There is no need for disguise with God.
He loves us...the real us...despite our shortcomings.
Through His Grace, we are re-named, just as the angel re-named Jacob, Israel.

We come to Him Lost -- He renames us Found.
We come to Him Sinful -- He renames us Forgiven

He wants us to be who we are.
He'll take care of the rest.