Friday, January 10, 2014

Perfect by Rachel Joyce - TLC Book Review

Perfect by Rachel Joyce
Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Random House (January 14, 2014)

Source? the publisher via TLC Book Tours

** FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of Perfect from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The review below and the opinions therein are my own and offered without bias.

Why? Perfect just has a classic sound to it...a child who becomes the parent, London, Cambridge, clock towers, fogs, and moors.  

What Now? Perfect is a keeper.  Now, I must get my hands on The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry!

Golden Lines

"When she cleans, I have to stay outside.  Sometimes I'm not sure my mother wants me." With this confession, James studied his fingertips and fell quiet again. (90)

Andrea said, "This is what happens when women go to work.  We can't be men.  We are females.  We have to behave like females." (95)

Nothing happened.  Nothing happened, Byron.
It did, though.  He knew it. (117).

"Was there no salt please? he asked.
"Salt?" his mother replied.
"Yes," he said. "Salt."
"What about salt?"
"You seem preoccupied, Diana."
"Not at all, Seymour.  You were saying something.  About salt."
"I was saying I don't taste any.  On my dinner." (138)

James was deeply troubled by the news of Jeanie's two stitches.  "This is not good," he said.  "It does not reflect well on your mother." (185)

"You think you can invite me for tea and then have a better idea and drive off and forget all about me."  (247)

Where did this begin?  With two seconds?  A bridge over the pond?  Or was it there from the very beginning, when his parents decided their son's future should be golden? (344)

If only - My God, if only I'd never told you about those two seconds." (364)

Amazon Summary:  Byron Hemmings wakes to a morning that looks like any other: his school uniform draped over his wooden desk chair, his sister arguing over the breakfast cereal, the click of his mother’s heels as she crosses the kitchen. But when the three of them leave home, driving into a dense summer fog, the morning takes an unmistakable turn. In one terrible moment, something happens, something completely unexpected and at odds with life as Byron understands it. While his mother seems not to have noticed, eleven-year-old Byron understands that from now on nothing can be the same.  What happened and who is to blame? Over the days and weeks that follow, Byron’s perfect world is shattered. Unable to trust his parents, he confides in his best friend, James, and together they concoct a plan. . . .

 As she did in her debut, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce has imagined bewitching characters who find their ordinary lives unexpectedly thrown into chaos, who learn that there are times when children must become parents to their parents, and who discover that in confronting the hard truths about their pasts, they will forge unexpected relationships that have profound and surprising impacts. Brimming with love, forgiveness, and redemption, Perfect will cement Rachel Joyce’s reputation as one of fiction’s brightest talents.

What I Liked

Diana - the mother...the stepford wife who dared to wonder if there was another life somewhere.

Byron - the intelligent young son who loves his mother

James - the young friend and his "Operation Perfect folder."

"Jim" - the damaged grown man who remembers

The end...whoa, Nelly...I'm not surprised often...really, I'm not, but Joyce got me; she got me good! A powerful, powerful read.

What I Didn't Like

Seymour - really, who could like this fella?  An arrogant ass of a husband, father, and human being.  I swear he reminded me of Mommie Dearest.

Andrea Lowe - you'll find out.  Why does one life have to be sacrificed for another? And, how can anyone justify being the sacrificer?

Overall Recommendation

Oh, you need to read this.  
Redemption, love, forgiveness, life, greed, want, friendship, expectations, and on and on and on.  This story will sadden you, touch your heart, and leave you with hope.

The Author

Other Stops on the Tour

Monday, December 16th:  Great Imaginations
Tuesday, December 17th:  She Treads Softly
Wednesday, December 18th:  A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Thursday, December 19th:  Lit and Life
Friday, December 20th:  BookNAround
Monday, December 23rd:  Bibliotica
Monday, December 23rd:  Books Speak Volumes
Thursday, December 26th:  The Feminist Texican [Reads]
Friday, December 27th:  Peeking Between the Pages
Monday, December 30th:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Thursday, January 2nd:  50 Books Project
Friday, January 3rd:  Not in Jersey
Monday, January 6th:  The Blog of Litwits
Monday, January 6th:  Books and Movies
Tuesday, January 7th:  The Scarlet Letter
Wednesday, January 8th:  Snowdrop Dreams of Books
Thursday, January 9th:  A Bookish Affair
Friday, January 10th:  Peppermint Ph.D.
Monday, January 13th:  Books a la Mode
Tuesday, January 14th:  Caribousmom
Wednesday, January 15th:  A Novel Review
Thursday, January 16th:  From the TBR Pile
Friday, January 17th:  Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books
Monday, January 20th:  Bibliophiliac
Tuesday, January 21st:  5  Minutes for Books
Wednesday, January 22nd:  No More Grumpy Bookseller
Thursday, January 23rd:  A Bookworm’s World
Friday, January 24th:  My Bookshelf
Monday, January 27th:  The Daily Mayo
Tuesday, January 28th:  Cold Read

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I'm a Runner

I ran last night.
Yes, it was 27 degrees...but I ran.
The freakiest thing is that I WANTED to run despite the cold.

This time last year, I knew I needed to change some things or I would be engulfed in the depression that swarmed me over the holidays.  It had been a long time coming, but the Newtown tragedy pushed my psyche over the edge.  I couldn't deal.

So I focused on my spirit and ran.

Couch to 5K first and my first 2 local 5Ks.  I ran/walked in 10 minute increments, but I finished.
I was still stunned that I could push my un-athletic self to these limits.  
Another 5K right before surgery last summer. I ran that one.  The entire way. 
Blew my mind.

A slowwwwwww healing process.
Wanted so badly to run...I was a good way :)

Signed up for a running group still on the mend from surgery.
Made it 1/2 way through the 10 week training program and injured myself, so I had to let go of the group. 
I continued to walk/run on my own after therapy on my neck and shoulder, but it wasn't the same.  

Focused on cleaning up our eating habits. 
Signed up for the Rock and Roll 1/2 marathon in Feb. 2014.
Husband had a stent put it, and I became a maniac health nut. 
Ran/walked with the dog as much as possible for sanity.

Became a slug over the holidays.
Reminded myself that I had signed up for the 1/2 Marathon which I was nowhere near trained to run now.  

I focused again on my spirit...threw out all the cookies and candies and re-signed up for the running group.  
To say that I was hopping around last night would be to put it mildly.
I asked not to be put in the advanced group this time, and comfortably (but still challenged) succeeded in my run. 

We warmed up for 5 minutes and then ran 4- 4 minute intervals with 1 minute walks in between and a 5 minute cool down.  
I needed to know the times on the 4 minutes, but I allowed myself to talk with my fellow intermediate runners.  

I loved it. 
Every minute of it. 
Even the hard minutes.
Even the freezing cold minutes. 
Running makes me celebrate the strength that I have...that I've always suspected was there, but I never gave it a chance to show.  

I'm a runner.   

Monday, January 6, 2014

Mini Reviews from 2013

Looking back through my post drafts, I was caught off guard when I realized that there were 11 drafts for books I read but did not review.  I have no clue why, but my OCD won't let me clear the posts nor move the books off my desk until I write (at least briefly) about them. 
Here are the first 5:

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michel Faber
  • Series: Harvest Book
  • Paperback: 944 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (September 1, 2003)

My Take: I loved the history in this one, but it is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended.  The story is about a prostitute in Victorian England though, so I'm assuming those who pick this one up would expect some questionable language, situations, intimate details, etc.  Faber makes you feel like you need to take a shower.  
But, it's a realistic look at the times, the classes and expectations of society. 

Golden Lines:  He inserts a cigarette bewteen his lips an sucks a naked flame against it, reconfirming the decision he made almost immediately after leaving Mrs. Castaway's: that he must have Sugar entirely to himself.  An idle dream?  Not at all.  He need only be rich, and wealth, great wealth, is his for the claiming. (138)

Affliction by Laurell K. Hamilton
  • Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter (Book 22)
  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (July 2, 2013)

My Take:  I've had a love/hate relationship with this series for a while.  Of course, that's to be expected when a series makes it to 22 books...oy.  The last book in this series was a disaster, and I said so.  I was done.  As far as I was concerned, Hamilton had one more shot with me.  Affliction needed to blow me away like the first few books in this series did.  And, guess what?  It did.  The story is richer, the plotline secure, more Jean Claude and less sex with random characters, along with the expected zombie raisings and supernatural antics.  I'm still here, Anita Blake.  This series is also not for the faint of heart.

Golden Line:  The smell of decomposing flesh got stronger with every step down.  (441)

12th of Never by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
  • Series: Women's Murder Club
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (April 29, 2013)

My Take: The Women's Murder Club series is also one with which I've had a love/hate relationship...I'm growing tired of James Patterson's worn out storylines...and the drama.  I started reading this series for the hang on to your seat puzzles these tough ladies were solving; now there are babies, love triangles, girlfriends and boyfriends.  Blech.  While 12th of Never is not the worst of this series; it isn't the best either.  There's one particular detail of this story that was built up throughout the entire novel and then solved...poof...just like that.  What??  Oh brother.  If I don't have anything else to read, I might read the next installment of this series.  :(

Golden Lines: "Don't worry about it, Cindy.  I can always find a place to sleep." (160)

Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris
  • Series: Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood (Book 13)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ace Hardcover (May 7, 2013)

My Take: The Sookie Stackhouse series has been a good one.  You can actually read this series and watch the show (True Blood on HBO) and be entertained by them both since they are so different.  A couple of books ago, I think Harris was waining and even then struggling with how  much to push this storyline.  I was worried then, but all series have their ups and downs.  I appreciate the way Harris ended this series.  Interestingly enough, she didn't take the easy way out and wrap things up the way anyone thought she would :)  

Golden Lines:  I couldn't imagine a future without him.  But I also knew that if he turned away from me at this moment, somehow I would survive that, and I would find a way to flourish like the yard that still bloomed and grew around my family home.  I'm Sookie Stackhouse.  I belong here. (338)

Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder Novels (Book 5)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Minotaur Books (June 18, 2013)

My Take:  This series keeps getting darker and darker...and I'm so not tired of it yet.  Castillo's challenge with each installment in this series is making the audience believe that all these murders could be taking place in the same small area and among the Amish communitites.  So far, she has met that challenge with gusto.  I'm also head over heels with the way Kate and Tomasetti's relationship is going.  Finally, a realistic, almost down to earth romance...if that makes any sense.

Golden Lines: "She was my best friend."
"I'm your best friend"
The words, the kindness, and the truth behind them triggers something inside me, like the shattering of a glass.  Setting down the beer, I lower my face into my hands and begin to cry.  (298).

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ice Skating in Mississippi

We're in Mississippi where a typical winter includes some cold but usually no snow.  If it snows, we get a day off at the most to run around in the snow before it melts 10 seconds after it hits the ground.  
Every now and again, the snows stays a little longer, but by the afternoon, we have a big slushy mess.

For the last couple of years Baptist Hospital has put on Christmas on Ice in Madison, MS.  In November, they set up an outdoor ice skating rink and slide that's open through the first week of January.  They have concerts, great music, very nice restrooms, places to sit and visit, concessions, covered areas, etc.  I was truly amazed at what was available in this temporary space.  

Two of our nephews had a birthday party there yesterday, so we decided to experience ice skating in Mississippi.

The kids had cookie cakes, pizza, chips and drinks under a covered area especially for birthday parties.  Here are the birthday guys with the obligatory blow out your candles photos: 

Here's the youngest (in the blue and white jacket, jeans, and earmuffs), trying to figure out why in the world anybody wants to skate on ice anyway.

Here she is...still holding on to the side, and looking for I'm going out on that ice.
The crowd was crazy, and some of the kids were pretty wet given the huge area of water that had pooled in the center. 
It's Mississippi y'all.

Here's my sister-in-law's sister-in-law (Laura) who was there with her own 2 daughters but took time to skate with my daughter :) 

At one point, Laura asked Reagan, "You ready for me to let go?"  Reagan said "Nope" and held on tight.  Did I mention that I think this is the first time Reagan ever met Laura??
Now they're Bffs.  

Especially on ice in Mississippi.