Mom’ish

I’m not even sure anymore what, indeed, is a ‘traditional mother’. I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking I was too untraditional as a parent of two. School letters lay in a towering pile, unopened, until dust made itself comfortable. Sage wisdom and encouraging words came to me always too late for the needed circumstance; sarcasm and humor usually in its stead. Things I was supposed to discipline seemed immaterial while insignificant things loomed too large in my haphazard disciplinary arsenal. ⠀

“You wouldn’t know how to ground me anymore than I would know how to be grounded.” – a line from the movie ‘Easy A’ and one that my daughter pointed out as all-too-accurate for our relationship.

The older I get, however, the more *typical* I am finding those things to be within the brave community of motherhood. I’ve commiserated with other mamas who also felt the things they did – and didn’t do – seemed out of the realms of ‘norm’. I think untraditional is much more traditional than we know. ⠀

My mother was a 7th grade English teacher. She conjugated verbs and added ‘ly’ in all the appropriate places. A bit of her grammar-nazi thinking was eventually passed down to me as well. For that reason, this book title screamed out to me and within 5 minutes it was in my Amazon cart and soon after, on its way to my door. An early Mother’s Day present from me to me. I’ll circle the many recognized lines within its covers and add it to My Funeral file on my computer. (A desktop icon because they’ll never go digging any deeper than that.) ⠀

Don’t use funeral flower gladiolus unless you buy them from Trader Joe’s. Eliminate all cliches from your heartfelt tribute and by all means, if you use a cutesy, curvy font for my birth-death dates I will haunt you and your unborn children for eternity.

Mothers with a loose grip on your mothering style, do yourself a favor and grab this book. ⠀

There’s plenty of room in the margins for copious notes for your offspring…

A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW, by Amor Towles

A very entertaining, albeit somewhat long-winded, novel.

I’ve seen the buzz about this book all over my instagram. I ordered it months ago from Book of the Month, but only recently sat down to give it my full attention.

SYNOPSIS:
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is accused of being an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal and sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin in Moscow. He’s given a 100 square foot attic room. While his world is drastically reduced, his experiences are vastly expanded around him in this bustling, luxury hotel – located in the midst of tumultuous change in Russia.

MY SUMMARY:
While I am sorely lacking in Russian knowledge, the book kindly led me along in its color and history. While Russian history played a backdrop to the storyline, the real characters took place within the confines of the Metropol. Elegant actresses, humble seamstresses, demonstrative chefs and shy but inquisitive young children. Towles does a brilliant job of creating characters with vastly different backgrounds and personalities, but all intricately linked to our main character, Count Rostov, His Excellency. The Count is genteel and elegant – making this a soothing book to read in the midst of so much ugly politicking in our own current world. His afternoon tea, thoughtful gifts and Old World self-deference was refreshing and endearing.

As with many other storylines in literary history – Eloise, for one – the setting of an elegant hotel will never disappoint. Towles thoroughly…arguably too much at times…develops each character so that their motives and personalities are well known to his readers. There were times he might have lost me, but the storyline kept me in its clutches. And I am so thankful that it did.

Perhaps it is simply because I read it during rainy, wintery days here in California, but A Gentleman in Moscow seems like the perfect cold winter’s day relief.

January reads…

I had a lot of fun in 2018 – the Year of Reading. I read a variety of genres and soared through books each month.

But this year – I’m taking it easy. I’m simply reading when I have an opening for it. People who read 200 books a year… I don’t know how they do it. It really boils down to the fact that when I’m reading, I’m NOT doing other things I also enjoy in my spare time. So 2019 will be a much more relaxed reading year.

That said, I was able to read three books in January:

I have talked about Becoming, an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at Michelle’s early life as well as the progress toward and during the White House.

I have not talked about Reese Witherspoon’s book. I don’t want to spend a lot of time on it but my overall impression was that it was a bit of a ‘throw away’ book. I was raised by a strong Southern woman so the subject was not foreign to me. But the recipes and traditions seemed rather prosaic. The writing style was saccharine and too over-the-top. I love Reese as an actor and admire her work as a producer and an advocate for women. Writing this book might not have been her best work.

And lastly, Harry’s Trees. What a fantastic book. It hooked me quickly and kept me on the line the whole way through. What a beautiful celebration of books and nature and great love.

To every story we bring the story of ourselves.

This book celebrated the freedom of forgiveness. The adventure of reading. The beauty of nature. The cost of holding on to self-perpetuated ‘truths’. The ripples of redemption. And as with every good story, it contained an enchanting touch of magic.

Get a book. Reading solves most things or at least assuages the heart.

I would highly recommend Harry’s Trees.

What did you read in January? Do you have a pile of books to read in February or are you letting them come to you as they will? I’m currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow and am really enjoying the storyline. I mean…how many great stories have happened within the confines of a grand hotel?!

I am forever grateful for the sheer enjoyment of being transported by books. My admiration for writers knows no bounds.

 

Currently Reading

‘It’s funny about imagination, how it can add to your peril even while it momentarily comes to your rescue.’ ~ Ivan Doig, Last Bus to Wisdom⠀

Anyone with an active imagination probably read the above book excerpt and dealt with cockles and bumply goosebumps. (mischievous grin) ⠀

Oh how I am loving the lyrical prose of this book. I’ve never read a Zane Grey novel, but I feel like this book has undercurrents of the best accounts about the vast West, while also entertaining the mind of a precocious boy who’s on an adventure. ⠀

Getting lost in this book has allowed me to also get found in coming-of-age stories that resonate with us all.

THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My typical M.O.? ⠀
Need a distraction: start a new book.

Let me talk a second about the critically acclaimed book I just finished, though: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. ⠀

Here was my Goodreads review. If you’ve read the book, I’m very curious about your thoughts…please share!⠀

Review:⠀

There are so many five stars and glowing reviews for this book. And yes, I was sucked in quickly and found the initial issue intriguing as to how it was manipulated and handled in days past. It made me rethink many celebrity relationships and how difficult it must have been to be a public figure with a career-busting secret life. ⠀

But by the end of the book, I felt so issue-laden I found it easy to just ‘hurry up and finish the book already.’ It seems as if there was originally and a good behind-the-scenes approach to a singular issue but then the author crammed in so many other controversial issues that my compassion (and interest) waned in its ability to feel for them all. It was too much. And too often, prosaic and sugary cliches were employed; throw away lines below the ability of the author that caused involuntary eyerolls from this reader. ⠀

I didn’t exactly hate the book. Again, it had a solid start and interesting approach. But, I didn’t love the book either.

⭐️⭐️⭐️/5⠀

DON’T LET GO by Harlan Coben (And ironically, I didn’t.)

Going to the doctor when I’m sick is always my last ditch effort. After putting things off until way past the last minute, I recently went to a nearby walk-in clinic at CVS Pharmacy to see if they could give me any relief from these *&%$#! allergies. The ‘Minute Clinic’ – as it’s called – actually lasted exactly 170 minutes from the time I walked in to the time that I finally walked out: 2 hours and 50 minutes. UGH! Actually I didn’t really care because my energy level was nil. So I sat patiently and waited.

After it became obvious it was going to be a bit of a wait, I walked over to the magazine/book aisle and picked up this book: Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben. According to the inside jacket, Coben has written exactly 7.gillion books, of which I had read none. But (as always, when in doubt…) the cover looked good so I picked it up and walked back over to my chair in the waiting room area and opened it up to read this mystery/suspense thriller and pass my sniffling waiting time.

He looked at our faces and knew. They often do. Some claim that the first step in the grieving process is denial. Having delivered my share of life-shattering news, I have found the opposite to be true: the first step is complete and immediate comprehension. You hear the news and immediately you realize how absolutely devastating it is, how there will be no reprieve, how death is final, how your world is shattered and that you will never, ever be the same. You realize all that in seconds, no more. The realization floods into your veins and overwhelms you. Your heart breaks. Your knees buckle. Every part of you wants to give way and collapse and surrender. You want to curl up into a ball. You want to plummet down the mineshaft and never stop.

That’s when denial kicks in. Denial saves you. Denial throws up a protective fence. Denial grabs hold of you before you leap off that ledge. Your hand rests on a hot stove. Denial pulls your hand back.

Coben is a quick, leave-’em-hanging-at-the-end-of-each-chapter kind of writer which is great for times when you want to just casually read something entertaining. He hooked me right off the bat and grounded my feet firmly in the have-to-know-how-this-ends quicksand every novelist hopes for.

I had it completely read by the next day. Abandoned military bases, waterboarding, high school friends crossing paths decades later……what’s not to love?! I tried to pass it on to Scott to read who immediately said the curve of the tracks on the front cover is completely unrealistic – a train could never make a drastic curve like that. *face palm*

Sidenote: The title of the book is ‘Don’t Let Go’ and well, ……I didn’t let it go. I was well into the book when the nurse called me back and after our very arduous exam and explanations of meds, etc., I walked right out of that CVS with this book in my hands without paying for it! I am currently on the lam. I’ve been running and hiding for days – never staying in the same place more than two days at a time. I feel certain they are tracking this IP address as I write this review.

Yes, yes. I will go back to CVS, admit to my accidental theft and buy the book for good. (But after reading a suspense novel, it felt only right to type up this book review while still running from the feds myself.)

Need a swimming pool read this summer? This is your book. I think I’ll grab a couple of his other books too and see if I like them as well. Easy. Somewhat mindless. A read that keeps you moving along.