Thursday, October 23, 2014

Purr Therapy: What Timmy & Marina Taught Me About Life, Love and Loss; Kathy McCoy PhD

  Kathy McCoy PhD - HCI -2014

As a cat lover, I was immediately drawn to the title "Purr Therapy", and curious about how cats, who tend to have a mind of their own, could be used as a therapy pet.  The book, which I guess you could say is part memoir was written by a psychotherapist who shares with readers how two of her cats were successfully used as pet therapy in her private practice.  She explains how the cats helped some of her clients to deal with anger, family/marital issues, loss and to lessen one's grief.

The two therapy cat's were Timmy, a Burmese and red-tabby mix, and after Timmy's needless death by way of tainted cat food, Marina, a flame-point Siamese became the next therapy cat. Sadly, Marina's life was cut short as well due to feline leukemia. Each cat had different personalities, but both could seem to sense when a client in distress needed them on their lap or close by. A therapy cat helped relax some patients and helped therapy progress.

The author shares some details of her sessions with clients and how the therapy cat would react to different types of clients. She also shares some of her personal life challenges and tells how her cats helped her and her husband in trying times, and also gives some lessons to be learned about loss and grieving.

For the most part I thought the book and photos were good, but there was some repetition, and (3) of the cats do die. One thing that really bothered me and it happened right at the beginning of the book, making me almost close it for good, was the story she told about another cat of hers - a 17 year-old cat named Freddie, who was dying from cancer and kidney failure.  According to the author , "the cancer came back, and it spread with vengeance, destroying Freddie's nose, upper lip, and palate." Devastated by the thought of losing him they gave him saline treatments at home, and yet allowed him to roam the neighborhood even when he was sick (seemed like inhumane treatment IMO)  I was really bothered by this and if it's true, it probably would have been better to leave this information out of the book.

3/5 stars

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Boston Girl; Anita Diamant

 Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think about this novel -- would you try it? 

The Boston Girl; Anita Diamant
Scribner - December -2014

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

 Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

 Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Five Days Left; Julie Lawson Timmer

Five Days Left; Julie Lawson Timmer
Putnam - 2014

Five Days Left - How would you spend the if you knew someone that you loved was going away for good or that you had five days left to live?  Mara Nichols and Scott Coffman are the individuals for who "five days left" is reality.  The two don't know one another other than interactions in an on-line chat room for individuals with non-traditional families.

Mara is a lawyer, a wife and a mother of a child who was adopted from India and is now in kindergarten.  Adopted herself and unfamiliar with her genetic background, she receives some shocking news, a diagnosis of Huntington's disease, a disease that is always fatal, but not before the neurological impact destroys the body by way of physical, cognitive and psychological changes; There is no cure for this disease. Now as she approaches 42, Mara is seeing some of the effects of this disease.  She is planning to end her life before her body and mind are completely compromised.

Scott is a middle school teacher and foster parent to an eight-year old boy named Curtis (Little Man), a child he has fallen in love with. The child's mother is in jail, but is about to be released, and the child is to be returned to her. Scott and his wife have had the boy for one year and are pleased with his progress. Scott should be thrilled that he and his wife are expecting a baby of their own, but instead he is filled with sadness over his impending loss.

The story is told in alternating voices over the "five days left".  It is a heart wrenching story for very different reasons. It touches on many different areas -  love, sacrifice, letting go, the right to end one's life etc.  I thought Mara's character felt very real given her situation. Scott's situation was compelling as well.  This is a very good debut novel, but definitely not a book for everyone. It is an emotional read, but I do think it would make a good choice for book club discussions.

4.5/5 stars
(review copy)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - What Nora Knew; Linda Yellin

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. This one sounds light and fun.

What Nora Knew; Linda Yellin
Gallery Books - 2014

Ten minutes after saying "I do" at The Garden City Hotel in Long Island, I was already having my doubts.  But how do you say "I don't" to a man who's considered quite the catch.  Everyone was constantly telling me--even strangers--that Evan Naboshek, of the firm Naboshek, Halla, and Weiss, was a fabulous hell of a prize.

What do you think?
Feel free to join in and post the Intro from one of your reads by linking below.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Blatherings - and New Books

Sunday has slipped by and it's almost bedtime but thought I'd do a quick post.  Did you have a good weekend?

I was not a huge fan of the novel, Gone Girl, but everyone had been raving about the movie, and heck Ben Affleck is easy on my eyes, so yesterday I convinced my husband to go see the movie. WOW WOW WOW - 2 hours and 40 minutes and it just flew by. We both LOVED the movie, so much we will be sure to see this one again multiple times when it's mass released. Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

I didn't get much reading done this weekend or review writing either for that matter. No excuses, it just wasn't in the cards.  I did get some new books in the mail over the last few weeks that look rather good.

Have a Good Week All and Happy Reading


Friday, October 17, 2014

Leaving Time; Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time; Jodi Picoult
Ballantine Books and Random House Audio
October - 2014

Jodi Picoult's latest book, Leaving Time, touched me on so many levels. It explores not only the mother/child bond of humans and of elephants, making the reader see how very similar human mothers and elephants mothers are when it comes to emotional bonds and grieving.

The story begins with 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf, a young girl longing to know what happened to her mother. Alice Metcalf was a scientist who had been studying grief among the elephant population. Ten years earlier there was a terrible accident at an elephant sanctuary when Jenna was just three-years old. Mother and daughter have not seen each other since. Jenna's dad, also an elephant researcher, has been in a psychiatric hospital since the accident, and Jenna has been raised by her grandmother, who does not want to talk about what happened.

Jenna is desperate to find out whether her mother is living or dead as her body was never found. She solicits the help of a once well-respected psychic, Serenity Jones, who after some shady dealings claims that she lost the ability she once possessed. Serenity isn't any too anxious to work with someone Jenna's age. There is also a former detective, PI, turned alcoholic, by the name of Virgil Stanhope, who was the detective assigned to Alice's case initially. Virgil feels guilty about the way the investigation of the incident at the sanctuary was handled, and agrees to help.

Meanwhile, Jenna wonders that if in fact her mother is still alive somewhere why did she leave her and why hasn't she even attempted to contact her?

Leaving Time is a wonderful story about the mother/child bond and about the way we grieve. The story takes the reader to an animal sanctuary in New Hampshire to an elephant preserve in Africa. The story is told in split narrative format, much like the author's previous novels. This format works extremely well exploring with each character their POV on the mystery of Alice's disappearance.  I loved the characters in this novel (faults and all), and enjoyed learning so much about the emotional lives of elephants. I think the author did a wonderful job researching and detailing her findings.  Some of what she writes made me smile and some made me tear up. The entire novel was a page-turner for me, but the ending packed a punch and totally took me by surprise.  
The audio version is read by multiple narrators: Rebecca Lowman, Abigail Revasch, Kathe Mazur, Mark Deakins who made for a great listening experience. Highly recommended

5/5 stars
(eGalley and audio book)
Ballantine Books / Random House Audio

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Dog's Journey; W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Journey; W. Bruce Cameron
Macmillian Audio - 2012

 A Dog's Journey is the sequel to W. Bruce Cameron’s,  A Dog’s Purpose which I listened to and enjoyed several years ago. In this story, which picks up where the other left off after Ethan, Buddy’s former owner, had passed away. Buddy thought his life was over as well, but he learns that he still has a purpose, and he lives again as companion and protector to Clarity who just happens to be his former master’s granddaughter, who he knew as a baby in his previous life. 

Buddy, now known as Molly, is with Clarity through some difficult times. Clarity’s mother is not your ideal mother. She is very critical of all that her daughter does and the poor girl has no self-confidence or self-esteem. She has a friend who cares deeply about her, yet she latches on to a bad seed who spells trouble, with school suspensions and run-ins with the police.  Meanwhile, Clarity’s witchy mother ignores the poor dog, leaves it in the basement and doesn’t even bother to feed it for days, while her daughter is away. Molly, on the other hand, while extremely hungry can only think about where “his girl” Clarity is and worries about who is watching out for her. The story follows Clarity through some difficult times with her faithful dog's everlasting love there to support her.

I like stories with dogs as narrators, and this one was particularly funny, honest and insightful. Without going into all of the little details of the story, I’ll just say that even though there are sad parts, and a few slow parts as well, A Dog’s Journey, is ultimately a “feel good” story that demonstrates how kind and loyal dogs are to those they love, and just what unconditional love is all about. I think us humans could surely learn a thing of two about humanity if we saw other people in the way our beloved pets see us.

The audio book was read by George K. Wilson who did a fine job.

4/5 stars
(library audio book)

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - Driftwood; Elizabeth Dutton

 Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think about this novel -- would you try it? 

Driftwood; Elizabeth Dutton
Skyhorse Publishing- November - 2014

How far would you go for your family? A smart and funny debut about road trips, music, love, and California for fans of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Run River and Killing Yourself to Live.

Los Angeles, California: Clem Jasper is a trust fund kid with a world famous rock musician for a father. When he dies suddenly (playing ping pong) she discovers he’s left her a strange legacy—a series of letters that take her on a mysterious road trip around California. Ignoring her aunt’s suggestion that she pitch the trip as a reality show, she embarks on her own—to discover just what it was that her father meant her to find. What secret could be so powerful that he had to die before telling her?

With a voice reminiscent of Rainbow Rowell, Dutton’s Driftwood is a surprising, poignant, and funny debut. Dutton perfectly captures the mythology of California with this bright and unusual take on the freedom of the open road, the power of music, and what it means, even in the midst of grief, to be a family. Fans of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Run River and Killing Yourself to Live will find much to savor here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - How to Be a Good Wife; Emma Chapman

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

How To Be a Good Wife; Emma Chapman
St. Martin's Press - 2013

"Today, somehow, I am a smoker.

I did not know this about myself. As far as I can remember, I have never smoked before.

It feels unnatural, ill-fitting, for a woman of my age: a wife, a mother with a grown-up son, to sit in the middle of the day with a cigarette between her fingers.  Hector hates smoking.  He always coughs sharply when we walk behind someone smoking on the street, and I imagine his vocal cords rubbing together, moist and pink like chicken flesh."
What do you think?

Feel free to join in and post the Intro from one of your reads by linking below.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Blatherings - books and pics

Good Morning Readers

Sitting here with a warm comforter, hot cup of coffee and 63 degree indoor temps this chilly morning. I think I need to flip the gas fireplace switch and get the chill out.  Columbus Day weekend has always been a favorite weekend of mine.  I am off from work on Monday, plus I'm taking Tuesday off, so a 4-day weekend makes me happy.

Yesterday dh and I took a ride to the Berkshires for some leaf peeping and a stop at the outlet malls. My (3) favorite stores: Ann Taylor, Talbots and Eddie Bauer had everything in the store on sale for either 60%, 50% or 40% off (imagine how much $$ they make when there isn't a sale).  I got some great bargain and who doesn't love new clothes.

My oldest granddaughter (2.5 years-old) was a flower girl in a wedding in the Berkshires yesterday. I haven't seen all of the pictures yet, but here are a few taken with the iPhone.

flower girl
sisters - October 11th 2014
precious E - 3months

Today we will be visiting my son, DIL and precious E above and will get in even more leaf peeping as they live in a beautiful wooded area with nothing but trees. Tomorrow is a trip to the apple orchards and hopefully I'll be making apple crisp tomorrow night, and then Tuesday another day trip and out for lunch somewhere or if it rains, maybe we'll go and see Gone Girl. 

Reading Notes
About a week ago I finished Jodi Picoult's new book, Leaving Time, which releases this Tuesday, and I just loved it.  It's a very emotional story about a 13 year-old girl who is trying to find out what happened to her mother, a scientist who disappeared while studying the plight of elephants and their emotional attachment to their young. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive this far. This may be my favorite book of the year. No review yet, it's one I've made lots of notes on as I read. 

I'm also listening Edge of Eternity (Book 3); Ken Follett which I am loving and also listening to A Dog's Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron (narrated by a dog) which is good as well. I'm also reading a non fiction book called Purr Therapy; Kathy McCoy, which is making me very angry as I read. (I'll share my reasons when I review this one).
New Books

Have a great weekend everyone!