Thursday, May 26, 2011

Happy Memorial Day ~ Long Weekend Ahead~









I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day and to enjoy the long weekend ahead!

My weekend starts at 5:00 today. We are headed down to our cozy beach condo for the weekend for some R&R...we don't have internet access, so I will be in touch next week!

Happy Reading!!



~Booking Through Thursday~




Do you ever feel like you’re in a reading rut? That you don’t read enough variety? That you need to branch out, spread your literary wings and explore other genres, flavors, styles?

Most definitely, yes. For so long, I only read memoirs. Don't get me wrong, I love them passionately. But I began to feel the need to branch out, and try some new genres.

I tried Paranormal/Fantasy, which I quickly found out was NOT for me. I've never enjoyed historical fiction, but I have found a couple of novels that took place in the US during the Civil War that I really enjoyed. I am getting into more YA Fiction, and some Dystopian Novels.

I've never been one who was comfortable "branching out" and trying new things...but I'm glad that I have. It has opened up all kinds of new doors for me in the literary world.



Wednesday, May 25, 2011

~Waiting On Wednesday~




Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.


The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt:

Drew's a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, her dead dad's Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom's cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It's the summer before eighth grade and Drew's days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he's there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life.

Hardcover, 224 pages
Expected publication: July 12th 2011 by Wendy Lamb Books
ISBN
0385739540 (ISBN13: 9780385739542)


What are YOU waiting for?


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

~Book Review - Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters~


From Amazon.com:

Ghellow Road is a literary diary of a young girl's journey through the tangled labyrinth that is her life. Theresa's story begins in a large midwestern city where she is born to loving parents in 1965. For a brief moment in time, her life is full, as is her heart, and the world is hers to receive without consequence. As time passes and Theresa grows, supernatural forces begin to shape her existence, no matter how carefully her father colors the empty spaces of her world. After a series of tragic events, Theresa and her family seek refuge in a small Minnesota town nestled near the shores of Rainy Lake. She creates a new life for herself there, sharing adventures with friends and riding the ups and downs of adolescence. Yet through it all, her mother remains forever lost in the prison of her own mind and forever lost to Theresa. The young girl feels as though she is leading a double life, one that no one else could possibly understand. She begins to peer at the world as if looking through a thick, black veil, never certain which pieces are illusion and which are not. Through the kindness and support of the townspeople, She eventually summons the strength to survive. This is a story of tragedy and triumph. This is the story of my life.

My Thoughts:

I have a fondness of memoirs. I have read some that have been pretty raw and gritty, heart-breaking and mind boggling....but....I have never read one quite like Ghellow Road. Others have skimmed the surface, where Ghellow Road digs deep down into itself, and fleshes out the story of the life of Theresa Waters and her troubled family when she was a teenager, during the 70's and 80's.

She was a happy-go-lucky child, who was a "Daddy's Girl" and enjoyed living and growing up in her hometown of Minneapolis, MN. Her mother always seemed to be floating adrift in her moods, and became depressed easily. Her father was more grounded, and Theresa and her older brother looked to him for guidance and support.

When her father is suddenly gone, Theresa and her brother are thrown head-first into their mother's world of depression and schizophrenia. They are shuffled about, sent to live in foster homes, all the while wondering what they had done wrong, and why didn't their mother want them?

As time progressed, Theresa would shuffle back and forth between her mother's home, and relatives' homes. She was a teenager, and just wanted to fit it, have friends, have a boyfriend. My heart broke for her, especially when a boy she had a crush on hurt her feelings openly. It brought back many memories of MY own junior high school days. She and I shared similar junior high experiences.

Throughout the story, I held my breath, wondering when and if things were ever going to settle down for Theresa. Would she have a secure home? Would her mom get treated for her mental illness and be a real mother to her? Would she ever feel accepted? I yearned for "normal-ness" for her.

Ghellow Road is a painful and honest account of Theresa's life, and I applaud her for being able to pen her story for the world to read. To quote her, I admire her for being able to finally "Live Out Loud".

  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Verefor Publishing Company LLC (October 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0982893116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0982893111

Photobucket Outstanding!

*a BIG hug and Thank You to Theresa for contacting me, and giving me the opportunity to read and review her story ~ Theresa, you are awesome*




Saturday, May 21, 2011

~Book Review - How It Ends by Laura Wiess~


From Goodreads:

All Hanna's wanted since sophomore year is Seth. She's gone out with other guys, even gained a rep for being a flirt, all the while hoping cool, guitar-playing Seth will choose her. Then she gets him -- but their relationship is hurtful, stormy and critical, not at all what Hanna thinks a perfect love should be. Bewildered by Seth's treatment of her and in need of understanding, Hanna decides to fulfill her school's community service requirement by spending time with Helen, her terminally ill neighbor, who she's turned to for comfort and wisdom throughout her life. But illness has changed Helen into someone Hanna hardly knows, and her home is not the refuge it once was. Feeling more alone than ever, Hanna gets drawn into an audiobook the older woman is listening to, a fierce, unsettling love story of passion, sacrifice, and devotion. Hanna's fascinated by the idea that such all-encompassing love can truly exist, and without her even realizing it, the story begins to change her.

Until the day when the story becomes all too real...and Hanna's world is spun off its axis by its shattering, irrevocable conclusion.

My Thoughts:

How It Ends has been sitting on my shelf for months, so I am not sure what inspired me to pluck it off of the shelf Thursday evening....from the first page I was captivated. I totally connected with Hanna, and felt her anguish over longing for Seth. She envisioned them together as a couple, and it was idyllic. In reality, Seth was a hurtful, selfish jerk and unfortunately Hanna found this out on a very personal level. What she thought was going to be a loving relationship with him, turned into a heart-breaking situation for her. That, coupled with losing her special relationship with her Gran (her neighbor Helen) was almost too much for her to bear.

She called Helen "Gran" because they had been close since she was a tiny girl. Helen had looked after Hanna, while her parents worked at sorting things out in their marriage. Helen's house became a refuge for Hanna, and they had shared many special hours together.

You sidled close and touched my hand. "Are you going away too?" "Oh sweetheart, no," I said, and in that heartbeat the bond was formed, the promise made, and the emptiness inside of me was filled with the rush to comfort and protect, to earn this trust you put in me, ME, no blood relation, The Grandma Helen a courtesy title given by your parents to the childless lady in the neighboring farmhouse with a passion for books, stray cats and hungry deer, who fed the birds and loved a creaky old man named Lon who sang Beatles' songs and still had shoulders strong enough for a little girl's piggyback rides. "No, Hanna. Wild horses couldn't drag me away." pg 2


So when Helen's health begins to decline, Hanna doesn't want to face the fact that Helen will not be around forever. Hanna must complete 60 hours of Community Service as part of her school work, so she asks her guidance counselor if she would be able to take care of Helen each day after school. What is terribly sad, is that as a child, she had spent almost every day with Helen. Now, as a teenager, it had been years since her daily visits with her. Hanna was not prepared for what was in store for her.

Helen had begun listening to books on tape. Hanna began listening to them daily, while visiting with her. She is drawn into "How It Ends"....the audio book that Helen is currently listening to. And with each new chapter, Hanna becomes more emotionally involved in the story.

How It Ends is an emotional roller-coaster ride story.....filled with love, sadness, and realization that life can be painful and beautiful at the same time~


"Stay Gran," I said and I wanted it to be an order but it came out a plea. "I need you. I do." I didn't even try to stop the tears. "Who am I going to talk to if you go? You said that you would never leave me, Gran. You said so. Please stay." pg 317

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: MTV; Original edition (August 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781416546634

Photobucket Very Good!



Friday, May 20, 2011

The Rapture and Bad Dreams


Supposedly The Rapture is coming tomorrow....May 21, 2011. The first I heard of it was today. I was already feeling uneasy this morning, due to a bad dream I had last night.

How many of you have ever dreamed that one of your parents has passed away? You wake up shaken and scared, and it takes you a moment to get your bearings and realize that it was just a dream. That happened to me Thursday night/Friday morning. My mom had been on my mind because I hadn't been to the nursing home to see her yet this week, and I was planning on going to spend my lunch hour with her today. Maybe it was the guilt that I was feeling from not seeing her yet this week that brought on the dream, I don't know. Anyway, in the dream, I got a phone call, telling me that I needed to come right away. When I got there, a CNA was sitting on my mother's bed, holding her, and I just got there in the nick of time. I got to hold her and hug her while she passed on. Like I said, it was an upsetting dream, but, I was so glad that I had gotten there in time....

I have felt melancholy all day. When lunch time rolled around, I drove over to the nursing home, with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in tow. She wasn't in her room, so I searched the hallways, until I found her in the lunch line. The staff lines everyone's wheelchairs up outside the dining room right before chow time. When I got to mom's chair, and turned her around, I expected a smile and hello ~ she is usually always glad to see me nowadays. Today I got a scowl, and an "I'm not hungry!" grumble. " I brought peanut butter and jelly!" I sang out. Still, she scowled at me and said "You eat it." Terrific.

We went back to her room, and I set everything out on her tray table. I gave her her large print Readers Digest that comes to my house for her, and she opened it up and started reading. The nurse came in to give her medications, and she was grouchy once again. "I don't want that!" she snapped. "Mom, just drink it down, okay?" I cajoled, smiling at her. "What are YOU so happy about?" she glowered at me. The nurse and I just looked at each other helplessly. She took her meds, then settled back in to read. I watched her while I ate, pleased with the fact that she was reading. Mom had always been an avid reader, but since her stroke, she lost interest. I watched her mouth soundlessly form words, and thought "this is great...." Several long minutes passed, then when she turned the page, I saw what she had been reading:

"MAGNETIC KNEE BRACE!" the ad screamed.... "fits under clothes to support and relieve knee pain. Lightweight neoprene and nylon brace has 16 sewn-in-magnets that surround the entire knee. According to ancient Chinese healing principles, magnets may increase blood flow to sore, stiff joints. One size adjusts to fit all."

She hadn't been reading an article or story. She was reading an advertisement. For some reason, this made me terribly sad. My heart sank into my stomach. The way she was silently mouthing the words, and really concentrating hard I thought she was into a good story. This is a woman who had always loved Joy Fielding, David Balducci, and Anne River Siddons.

My lunch hour was about over, so I cleaned everything up. "I'm going back to work now, mom." I leaned over to kiss her on the head. She hugged me and said "I love you sweetheart. Please stop by again...."...all traces of grouchiness gone. Leaving her room and walking down the hall, hot tears spilled down my cheeks.

Even if the world DOES end tomorrow, my mom loves me. And I love her. And we were together today, no matter what the circumstances.

Proverbs 31:25: She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. 26: She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. 27: She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. 28: Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:


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Hosted by Java at Never Growing Old











Thursday, May 19, 2011

~Cat Thursday~

Welcome to Cat Thursday, hosted by Michelle at The True Book Addict. Join in the fun by posting a favorite cat picture....LOl Cats, or your own personal photo....whatever strikes your fancy. It's all for the love of cats.....Enjoy!


This is a photo of my cat Mittens, when she was a kitten. She is a lot bigger now. She is very vocal and loves to climb....she is also a lap kitty!





Wednesday, May 18, 2011

~Waiting On Wednesday~



Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking The Spine.

Here's my pick!

How To Save A Life by Sara Zarr:


Jill MacSweeney just wants everything to go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. You can't lose one family member and simply replace him with a new one, and when her mom decides to adopt a baby, that's exactly what it feels like she's trying to do. And that's decidedly not normal. With her world crumbling around her, can Jill come to embrace a new member of the family?

Mandy Kalinowski knows what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, she knows she wants a better life for her baby. But can giving up a child be as easy as it seems? And will she ever be able to find someone to care for her, too?

Critically acclaimed author and National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr delivers a heart-wrenching story, told from dual perspectives, about what it means to be a family and the many roads we can take to become one.


Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: October 18th 2011 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN
0316036064 (ISBN13: 9780316036061)

What are YOU waiting for?




Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Katie

My mother and I have come "full circle" in our relationship with each other. Ours began as a loving relationship.....was rocky through my teens and early twenties.... we became best friends and confidants during my first mistake marriage, and even closer after my loving second marriage. Two years into my second marriage, I began to notice little things that were not right with my mom.

Thanksgiving Day Weekend 2006 she had put chili in the crock pot that morning...at dinnertime when we went to serve it, the crock pot had never been plugged in. Warning bells and red flags went up. I became the one that had to call her, many times getting her answering machine when I knew that she was home. Over the humming of the long distance phone lines, her words began sounding tired and slurred, as she started telling the same stories over and over again. She would cut our phone conversations short. Never before had we ever hung up without being on the phone with each other at least 30 minutes. When questioned about her health, she would always cut me off, telling me that she felt fine. I felt her pulling away from me.
In September 2007, my mom suffered a mild stroke. She was also diagnosed with Emphysema and COPD. She could no longer live alone. After she was released from the hospital, she went to live with my brother. Three short months later, she came to my house. It was then that the trouble started.

My mom was my best friend.....and in 5 short months, she became my enemy. I only wanted the best for her. I wanted her to quit smoking, take her medicine and wear her oxygen. Instead, she grew angry with me. She got livid if I didn't go out and buy her cigarettes, and got even angrier when I asked that she please smoke outside. She told me she hated my cooking, and that I wasn't taking good care of her...that my husband took better care of her than I did. She was grouchy with my pets, whom she had always loved and spoiled. I looked at my husband in helpless surrender.....my mother hated me.

After a back injury, and a broken hip, my mother went to live in a nursing home. I was devastated....I had always vowed never to let that happen. We could not provide the care that she needed, so the difficult decision was made.


After she went into the home, I would fall asleep each night, thinking "I want my mommy.......". My mom....who had cared for me unselfishly all through my childhood and beyond..... she used to wash my waist-length hair, and comb it out gently after my bath, using No More Tears - That product and its fragrance has the exact opposite effect on me to this day, bringing tears to my eyes when I catch its scent, memories flashing in my mind of warm summer evenings, freshly bathed and ready to be tucked in. She would to read to me every night. I would fall asleep to the sound of her husky voice reading: Where The Wild Things Are, Daddy Long Legs, The Secret Garden and Charlotte's Web. Her cool fingers would brush back the hair from my hot forehead when I was sick. Playing The Fish Game with me in our upstairs bathroom....turning off the light and putting her hand over one of the brightly colored fish on our wallpaper, then turning on the light and asking me to guess what color she was hiding. My mom....who sewed alot of my clothes....gave me the most amazing birthday parties, taught me how to twirl a baton, took me for picnics in the park, made lunch for me every day (peanut butter and jelly, always with the crusts cut off) and drove me to and from school every day, singing along with the radio "Crocodile Rock" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". She was my biggest fan when I made the cheerleading squad, and came to every game...she listened to my stories about my days at school, and held me and kissed my tears away when some silly boy broke my heart. We shopped together for my prom and graduation dresses... she took me out for drinks on my 18th birthday, bought me my first pair of designer jeans...... and stayed up all night with me the night before my first wedding, taking care of me, sick with an upset stomach, asking me if I was sure I wanted to get married...I wanted that mom back, and was afraid that she was gone forever.


She stopped speaking to me. I would go to visit her at the nursing home....bring her flowers, books, candy, milk shakes. She would turn her head away from me and stare at the wall. I quit going to see her. I stayed away.

This went on for 3 months. Until finally, I decided that I couldn't live this way. I missed my mother. Even though I knew that the stroke had changed her, and that she would never be the same again, I had to try to repair the damage that had been done. I had to learn to forgive. I went to therapy. I did my homework. And I began visiting my mother, and talking to her.....even though she turned her face to the wall when I spoke....I kept talking. "I joined Weight Watchers, Mom...I've lost 5 lbs. My job is going great....I'm reading a really good book right now.....Steve got a promotion......" Finally, one day she turned her wheelchair around to face me. She looked at me...and nodded. I was reminiscing out loud to her and got teary-eyed. I heard a husky dry voice ask "Why...are...you.....crying?" She had spoken to me.


Today, she is back to her old self. During our visits, we laugh, she cusses like a sailor, like she always has, and we have a good time. She is a favorite with the nurses. I can truly say that we have weathered the storm together, and came out unscathed. I could not have done it without the support of my therapist, my loving husband, and a strong-will to bring my mother back. Now at the end of our visits, she kisses and hugs me, and tells me "I love you, Sweetheart...thanks for coming to see me." There will never be another Katie Mingrone....she is my one-in-a-million ~ I love you, Mom.







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