Saturday, February 25, 2017

Week in Review - W/E - 2/25/2017



First of all,  I wanted to thank all of you who took the time to leave very personal and heartfelt comments about our cat Lily who we lost last Friday. I shared these messages with my husband and although many of them made me tear up, they also were very comforting. Thank you so much!

I tried to keep busy last week which helped keep the sad moments at bay. This week was more yoga,  lunch with high school friends, and time sorting through lots of old photos of family and cats which brought back happy memories.  Our most senior cat, Buddy, age 15, seemed to sense that we were sad and became my new constant companion and lap cat -- so sweet --

Buddy

Our other cat, Freckles, age 14, was never a lap cat, but started bringing my husband toys to get him to play.  I think cats are much smarter than many people think.

 Freckles

Books Read
















Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End; Atul Gawande
Metropolitan Books - 2014
(book group read )

I actually listened to this book last year in audio and loved it so when it ended up being our book group read for February, I didn't mind reading it in print.  I still liked it a lot and felt that Dr. Gawande did a great job giving several case study examples of individuals in declining health and making the reader think about prolonging life versus quality of life in each case. Lots of good info about health, health care, statistics and later year options.  My book group, which is all women ages 60 and older really disliked the book. I was the minority here but, also one of the youngest in the group.  Several of the women are dealing with serious medical issues and currently live alone so they found the entire topic depressing which is understandable.  The book did generate lots of end of life conversation about housing options like co-housing versus assisted living and nursing homes which was interesting to talk about.

Next month's selection a light weight work of fiction by Adriana Trigiani.





















Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family & Culture in Crisis; J.D. Vance
Harper Audio - 2016

A memoir about class differences written by a self-proclaimed hillbilly, and former Marine who ended up graduating from Ohio State with a double major and then continuing on to Yale Law.  The author grew up poor in Appalachia and was raised largely by his grandmother as his father had abandoned them at a young age. Although his mother had once been at the top of her class in school and worked in nursing, she then turned to drugs, was in and out of rehab, and was married and divorced 5 times.

I expected this book to be somewhat of a political hotbed but, that was not the case. Vance offers his take on the decline of white, working class America over the last forty odd years as he shares his life story.  I downloaded the audio version of this from the library after seeing many positive reviews online.  I enjoyed it, but I must say Vance's outcome is certainly not the norm for someone growing up like he did. He did have encouragement and obviously the personal drive to make a better life for himself. The audio book is read by the author and thought it was well done (no accent which made it an easy listen). (4/5 stars)




















Every Fifteen Minutes; Lisa Scottoline
(audio - from library read by George Newbern)

This was a DNF after 10 chapters. It was a story that seemed to be going no where fast and I lost interest very quickly. Has anyone read this one? DNF

(Here's a description from Goodreads) -----

Dr. Eric Parrish is the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital outside of Philadelphia. Recently separated from his wife, Caitlin, he is doing his best as a single dad to his seven-year-old daughter Hannah. His work seems to be going better than his home life, however. His unit at the hospital has just been named number two in the country and Eric has a devoted staff of doctors and nurses who are as caring as Eric is. But when he takes on a new patient, Eric's entire world begins to crumble. Seventeen-year-old Max has a terminally ill grandmother and is having trouble handling it. That, plus his OCD and violent thoughts about a girl he likes makes Max a high risk patient. Max can't turn off the rituals he needs to perform every fifteen minutes that keep him calm. With the pressure mounting, Max just might reach the breaking point. When the girl is found murdered, Max is nowhere to be found. Worried about Max, Eric goes looking for him and puts himself in danger of being seen as a "person of interest". Next, one of his own staff turns on him in a trumped up charge of sexual harassment. Is this chaos all random? Or is someone systematically trying to destroy Eric's life? 

New Books from Publishers




















Tuesday, February 21, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday intros - Agnes; Peter Stamm


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. This pick is just 147 pages, but it's a translated work (German to English) so I'm just not sure how this will flow.)


Other Press - 2016

1

"Agnes is dead.  Killed by a story.  All that's left of her now is this story.  It begins on that day, nine months ago, when we first met in the Chicago Public Library.  It was cold when we first met.  It is generally cold in this city.  But it's colder now, and it's snowing. The snow is blowing across Lake Michigan, on the gale-force wind I can hear even through the soundproof glass in my picture windows.  It's snowing, but the snow won't settle, it gets picked up and whirled on its way, and only settles where the wind can't get at it.  I've switched off the light, and look out at the illuminated tips of the skyscrapers, at the American flag that gets tugged this way and that by the wind, in the beam of a searchlight, and at the empty streets far below, where, even now, in the middle of the night, the lights change from green to red and red to green, as though nothing had happened, or was happening."

Based on this intro, would you read more or pass on this book?


Feel free to join in by posting your own First Chapter First Paragraph Intro and linking below.


Friday, February 17, 2017

RIP - Lily and the Week in Review - W/E - 2/18/2017


Week at a Glance

This week is a bit of a blur: 2 snow storms, Valentine's Day, yoga, lunch with former coworkers and then yesterday, the loss of my very best friend, Lily the Cat.

RIP - Lily
(2003 - 2017)

Lily had actually started eating a bit last weekend but then dislocated her kneecap jumping off our lap.  She was limping for a day and it managed to pop back in to her arthritic knees. Today, Friday 2/17) Lily was scheduled for an ultrasound and X-ray to find out why she is losing weight, not eating much, breathing louder and sleeping lots more than usual these days.  We learned that her lymph nodes were enlarged, she had a tumor on her lung and a solid mass on the base of her heart which was pressing on her trachea causing labored breathing at times.💔💔 We decided it was time to say goodbye to our best cat ever.

About Lily - We adopted Lily as a 10 week old kitten in Rhode Island. An indoor cat only in a multi-cat household, from her earliest days with us, Lily craved warmth. She could often be found burrowed under a scatter rug, under a quilt or often basking in a sun puddle.  A petite girl, the most she ever weighed was in the 7 lb range but her weight dropped to just 5 lbs recently.  I've owned many cats in my life, and loved them all, but, Lily was so special and unique. She was never afraid of strangers, but didn't like being held by anyone and was a bit squirmy (even for us) if you picked her up. Despite this, she was a genuine lap cat, 100%.  She was an equal opportunity lapper - my lap or the hubs, she would take turns.We had routines, coffee with me on my lap after breakfast and she loved to read with me everyday as well.  My girl had an automatic clock built in as well I swear.  When it was time for me to go to bed (generally, around the same time every night), she'd stare at me continuously while on my lap until I said, "okay Lily, you win, time for bed. " The minute I hopped in bed she would join me as well,  positioning herself around my knees and staying there until morning.  How will I ever be able to go to bed tonight, my first night without my girl?  I love you Lily and can only hope that our paths will cross again someday. You will be forever missed. 💔💔


Books Read 





















Setting Free the Kites; Alex George (arc)
GP Putnam & Sons - 2017

(My Thoughts) - I was a huge fan of Alex Georges first novel, A Good American and couldn't wait to read his newest release, Setting Free the Kites.  The story takes place along the coast of Maine,  (I'm picturing Old Orchard Beach as there is an amusement park central to this story). It's 1976 and Robert Carter, is an eight grader who is bullied by a boy named Hollis on the first day of school. Nathan Tilly, a new classmate from Texas, comes to Robert's rescue and the two boys become close friends.  Nathan is obsessed with kite flying and daredevils activities while Robert is more shy and cautious. Nathan has lost his father and begins to spend lots of time at the Carter home while his mother rarely leaves their home. Nathan is a welcome addition to the household which is in turmoil as the family deals with the serious illness of Robert's older brother Liam. The two boys become inseparable even though Nathan the boys are quite different.

Setting Free the Kites was a quick read that held my interest. A story about growing up, love, loss, and imperfect parents.  This is another charming story that takes you back to the times before cellphones and video games when life was for teens was quite different from what it's like today. Another great story by Alex George: well-written, memorable characters, highly recommended. (4/5 stars)















Is This Tomorrow; Caroline Levitt (audio)
Algonquin Books & Highbridge Audio 
(Xe Sands, narrator) - 2013


(My Thoughts) - Set in the suburbs of Boston, MA, 1956, Ava Lark and her son Lewis have rented a run-down house in a nice, safe, family neighborhood.  The other families seem to look down on newcomers - Ava is divorced and the only Jewish person living in the neighborhood. Lewis finds it hard making new friends, except for Rose and Jimmy who also live in a fatherless home. Set in the midst of the Cold War and the paranoia which exists, Jimmy goes missing without a trace. His disappearance deeply affects Rose and Lewis who are certain Jimmy must be alive.  They are determined to get to the bottom of his disappearance, which is eventually revealed. Fast forward seven years Lewis is now living and working in Wisconsin and Rose is in PA but, the two are forever changed

I enjoyed this audio book but, at times the voices seemed a bit too depressing. I loved the setting and descriptions of what life was like back then, as it's always nice to read about a time period a baby boomer like me can relate to. The author's writing is very descriptive and, although the story of what happened to Jimmy seemed to fall into place too easily, I still enjoyed this one.  (4/5 stars)


Currently Reading
  • Being Mortal (reread for my book group)
  • Everything Happens Today; Jesse Browner

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

First Chapter first Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Everything Happens Today; Jesse Browner


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon.

Everything Happens Today; Jesse Browner
Europa Editions - 2011

"When you've walked all the way from the Upper East Side to Greenwich Village in the middle of the night, the first sight of home should be an occasion for joy. Wes felt anything but joyful as he climbed the stoop. He had hoped that a long walk through the dark and quiet city would give him some perspective, but it hadn't worked out that way.  In other circumstances, it might have been an adventure but it was nothing but a blur, thoughts as flimsy and disposable as plastic bags.  If he had been a character in a book--Prince Andre in War and Peace, say--he would have seized the opportunity for a round of rough, candid soul-searching that would inevitably have led to some brilliant new insight into human nature in general and his own moral frailty in particular.  But he wasn't Prince Andre--he was just Wes, idiot Wes, the guy who just ruined his life forever and forever, and he was as confused and miserable now as he's been when he'd just set out from Lucy's apartment two hours earlier.  He stood at the threshold and took a deep breath, but it didn't help: the sadness didn't go away.  In fact, he felt a tear welling, and he leaned forward to rest his forehead on the cold, damp lacquer of the front door."


Based on this intro, would you read more or pass on this book?

Feel free to join in by posting your own First Chapter First Paragraph Intro and linking below.