The Sunday Salon – August 24, 2014

sundaysalon2So, I thought car problems were supposed to happen in threes? I had the blowout, the deer, then the dead battery. Then this week, we had gas fumes. Fortunately, it turned out not to be a gas leak, and it hasn’t happened again since – but it cost us $70 just to make sure I wasn’t going to have an engine fire on the highway. I am really, really ready to be done with car problems.

I also lost my laptop this week – may she rest in peace. It has had a flicker in the screen for a while, and I’ve been procrastinating taking it in to get fixed. I could jiggle it and get it to stop flickering if I had it open to just the correct spot. Kevin put a new screen in a laptop for my mom, so thought he could figure out the flickering. I don’t know what all he did – he’s not sure either – but long story short, I now have no laptop. He was able to take the hard drive out and put all my files on his desktop, so it’s not like I don’t have access to a computer. He feels so bad about it that it seems just plain mean to be upset with him.

This upcoming week is the first one in a long time – maybe all summer – without company, dentist appointments, or other obligations. I am planning on finishing up lesson plans (I’m almost done), but I also plan to read a lot. I want to finish my three current reads by the end of the week. Mom is going to take me to the movies, too, to see If I Stay. Should I bring an entire box of Kleenex or will a purse-size pack do, do you think?

Currently Reading: The Major’s Daughter by J.P. Francis; The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver; and A Separate Peace by John Knowles (reading this one to stay ahead of Noah in English 10)

Recently finished reading: House and Home by Kathleen McCleary

Listening to: Still the same two books – Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness and An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon

Watching: Last week, we ended up watching Dave for Family Movie Night. I had forgotten how good it is – and it brought back memories, as Kevin and I watched it on our first date. Also, I have been watching the Seahawks’ preseason games and am very happy with how they are playing! And I did watch the first two episodes of Outlander. I really like Sam Heughan as Jamie, but am still not quite sure about the woman playing Claire. She’s a good actress, but I keep thinking she is much too skinny! I know that is a superficial thing, but when you read the series, you know how many times Jamie mentions that she is curvy and that he likes her that way. Tonight’s Family Movie Night pick is Little Big Man – Kevin’s pick.

Blogging recently: Mini-reviews: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica; Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics, edited by Chris Duffy; and House and Home by Kathleen McCleary

What are you doing today? I hope you are all enjoying the last weeks of summer.

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Mini-reviews: The Good Girl by Mary Kubica; Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics, edited by Chris Duffy; and House and Home by Kathleen McCleary

goodgirlTitle: The Good Girl
Author: Mary Kubica
Genre: Thriller
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from the public library
Number of pages: 350
First line: I’m sitting at the breakfast nook sipping from a mug of cocoa when the phone rings.

Goodreads blurb: Born to a prominent Chicago judge and his stifled socialite wife, Mia Dennett moves against the grain as a young inner-city art teacher. One night, Mia enters a bar to meet her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when he doesn’t show, she unwisely leaves with an enigmatic stranger. With his smooth moves and modest wit, at first Colin Thatcher seems like a safe one-night stand. But following Colin home will turn out to be the worst mistake of Mia’s life.

Colin’s job was to abduct Mia as part of a wild extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. But the plan takes an unexpected turn when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in rural Minnesota, evading the police and his deadly superiors. Mia’s mother, Eve, and detective Gabe Hoffman will stop at nothing to find them, but no one could have predicted the emotional entanglements that eventually cause this family’s world to shatter.

This book is being billed as this summer’s Gone Girl, and while it is a great and twisty thriller, it’s not quite as twisty and shocking as Flynn’s novel. It is, however, a fantastic summer read, and one that kept me turning the pages at night long after I should have been asleep.

abovethedreamlessdeadTitle: Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics
Author: Edited by Chris Duffy
Genre: Poetry, graphic novel
Publisher: First Second
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Number of pages: 132

Goodreads blurb: As the Great War dragged on and its catastrophic death toll mounted, a new artistic movement found its feet in the United Kingdom. The Trench Poets, as they came to be called, were soldier-poets dispatching their verse from the front lines. Known for its rejection of war as a romantic or noble enterprise, and its plainspoken condemnation of the senseless bloodshed of war, Trench Poetry soon became one of the most significant literary moments of its decade.

The marriage of poetry and comics is a deeply fruitful combination, as evidenced by this collection. In stark black and white, the words of the Trench Poets find dramatic expression and reinterpretation through the minds and pens of some of the greatest cartoonists working today.

I have been fascinated by the Trench Poets ever since I read Anne Perry’s World War I series. She started each book section with a passage of poetry of the time, and I was intrigued enough to buy a collection and read it in its entirety. When I received First Second’s offerings for review, I was so excited to see Trench Poetry paired with the art of some very talented graphic novelists. The two genres complement each other, and the stark, black-and-white images give the verse an immediacy I didn’t experience when reading the poetry alone. This is truly a must-have for anyone interested in World War I, and especially for those who are interested in a fresh presentation of an era of poetry that should never be forgotten.

houseandhomeTitle: House & Home
Author: Kathleen McCleary
Genre: Contemporary fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
Number of pages: 259
First line: The house was yellow, a clapboard Cape Cod with a white picket fence and a big bay window on one side, and Ellen loved it with all her heart.

Goodreads blurb: Ellen Flanagan has two precious girls to raise, a cozy neighborhood coffee shop to run, terrific friends, and a sexy husband. She adores her house, a yellow Cape Cod filled with quirky antiques, beloved nooks and dents, and a million memories. But now, at forty-four, she’s about to lose it all. After eighteen roller-coaster years of marriage, Ellen’s husband, Sam–who’s charismatic, spontaneous, and utterly irresponsible–has disappointed her in more ways than she can live with, and they’re getting divorced. Her daughters are miserable about losing their daddy. Worst of all, the house that Ellen loves with all her heart must now be sold. Ellen’s life is further complicated by a lovely and unexpected relationship with the husband of the shrewish, social-climbing woman who has purchased the house.

I’ve had House and Home on my shelf for what seems like forever, and I finally got around to reading it. It seemed like a good choice for summer – and it was a pleasant enough read. But when I compare it to some of my favorite women’s fiction, like that of Marisa de los Santos, it seems innocuous and shallow. I was interested in how things worked out, but not emotionally invested in the characters. I don’t regret reading it, but it isn’t a book that will stick with me very long.

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The Sunday Salon – August 17, 2014

sundaysalon2I am writing this on Saturday afternoon, because we are expecting company this evening. Mom and Dad are away having fun with friends this weekend, and so we took the opportunity to have people over for food, conversation, and perhaps some board games. I’ve spent most of the day straightening up the house and preparing food: Parmesan bacon Ritz bites; bacon-wrapped Little Smokies (because you can never have too much bacon, right?); my own secret salsa con queso dip recipe with corn chips; veggies and Ranch dip; and brownies. Not sure what board games we will play – if any – but it will just be nice having some people over for conversation and fellowship.

Noah’s wisdom teeth extraction went extremely well. The kid is a trouper! I gave him a pain pill the night of so that he wouldn’t wake up in pain, but after that he didn’t want any pain meds, not even ibuprofen. We couldn’t have asked for a better experience. He ate some (soft) pizza last night, and was very happy to finally have a full tummy – pudding, scrambled eggs, chicken noodle soup, yogurt, and ice cream only go so far. I’m hoping when Natalie has hers out next month that she will have as good an experience.

More lesson planning on board for this upcoming week, plus an orthodontist appointment. I also need to find someone to cut the boys’ hair, as our usual hairdresser had an accident on her horse and is out of commission for a few weeks. I hate trying to find someone else when she does it exactly right every time!

I did manage to get some reading in this week, which was really, really nice.

Currently reading: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and The Major’s Daughter by J.P. Francis

Recently finished reading: The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman; The Good Girl by Mary Kubica; and Above the Dreamless Dead: World War I in Poetry and Comics, edited by Chris Duffy

Watching: We watched the first episode of the new TNT series Legends, starring Sean Bean, whom I adore. It seems promising. We didn’t do movie night last Sunday as we headed to the lake instead. Not sure what we’ll be watching tonight. Oh, the boys and I did watch an episode of Sherlock, too, and Kevin and I watched a few episodes of season five of Justified.

Blogging lately: Mini-reviews: No Book But the World by Leah Hager Cohen; We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, and The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman

Can you believe August is halfway over? I am so not ready for September! What are you reading or watching or doing today?

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