Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The End of Your Life Book Club ~ Connie's Thoughts

I just finished The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe a few hours ago.  I struggled to get through this book because I had so little in common with the author and his mother.  Please read Mimi's review before reading my thoughts.  She does an excellent job of explaining the book and we feel the same way about many aspects of it.

There are things that I did like about the book.  As a book lover, I loved that this was a way for Will and Mary Anne to become closer in the final years of her life. While I was reading this book, I discovered that my daughter could read much more than I realized.  I started fantasizing about the book club that we could have together for years to come!

Like Mary Anne, I love to share my favorite books with friends and recommend books when I think they can benefit from them.  I hope that my friends remember my love of reading when I'm gone.

I'm looking forward to reading many of the books that were mentioned in the book and was thrilled to find a list of them in the back of the book.

Even though I didn't love this book, I still recommend it.  It was a touching story and it made me want to be a better daughter to my Mom.  I have a difficult relationship with her but we both love to read!  This could be the link that brings us closer.  I'm going to ask her to be in a book club with me.

Have you read The End of Your Life Book Club? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The End of Your Life Book Club - MiMi's Review

Time to review our January pick, The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.

When reading the jacket flap on this book it seems to be a sweet memoir of a mother and son and their life together as seen through the scope of all the many books they had read throughout their lives and especially the ones they choose to read near the end of the mother's life.

And for all intents and purposes it really is a love story from a son to his mother.

Here's a review from someone who, for whatever reason, kept getting sidetracked by the issues in the book other than what it seems to be about on the surface.

Mary Anne Schwalbe, Bill's mother, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2007. They have always shared a love of books and reading and often times they traded and passed books to each other and then discussed ideas and themes and characters they read about. The books they would read after her diagnosis were much the, pass, discuss.

I think it's beautiful how they were able to come together and have this memorable time discussing important issues.

A lot of the stories in the books they read were seen through the scope of their lives and Mary Anne's work with Women's organizations and also in Afghanistan.

I think it's safe to say that the Schwalbe family is a wealthy family from the North East. Cerebral, academic and very involved in their community.

They definitely see the world differently than a woman like myself who neither comes from wealth nor has traveled much.

The book was very much about books they read and how they brought them together to discuss important issues.

However, I kept getting side tracked by things that I thought were out of place in the book. Of course I am aware that I don't have an insiders point of view and who am I to say what was appropriate in someone else's memoir?? I take full responsibility for my opinions and digression here.

It's almost as if because they are wealthy that Mary Anne felt guilty about it. She felt guilty that she had such wonderful health care that let her take advantage of the best treatments in the world and gave her 2 years of life with her family that she may not have had without it.

She felt guilty about getting blood transfusions. Although Schwalbe was quick to point out that she had donated many pints of blood over her lifetime so that did assuage her guilt some...she had taken but she had given so that evened it out. She also had guilt over the prescriptions she was able to take.

The author felt as though the election of Barack Obama was tied to whether or not his mother would would do well in treatment and with her current scans of the tumors at the time. It was a superstition thing, in a way.

He was very keen on telling about Mary Anne's desire to let everyone know that Obama MUST be elected so that health care reform could take place. Then everyone would have the same kind of care that she was able to have.

Mary Anne was a Christian woman who wanted her son to come to Christianity, or "religion" as Schwalbe refers to it. The one book that she had chosen for part of their impromptu book club that was "religious", Schwalbe never did read. He doesn't believe and at the end of the book I was sad that he didn't become at least more open to the idea of God.

This review is all over the place, I can't seem to get it all out in a succinct post.

Maybe I'll close it up with some bullet points:

* The book was more political than I would have liked.
* The constant need to reiterate the guilt associated with the kind of lifestyle they lead was annoying.
* Mary Anne Schwalbe was a strong woman who loved her family and the organizations she founded and managed.
* The way the author sort of poo-poohed her Christian philosophy irritated me.
* They read a LOT of books and there is a bibliography in the back that I'm taking full advantage of.
* I don't think they ever read a fluff book. No Stephanie Plum there.
* I am not smart enough to be in their book club.
* I would have liked to meet Mary Anne.
* I wouldn't like to meet Schwalbe.
* The book almost had to be political in a way because of the life they lead and where Mary Anne's focus lay with Women's organizations, Afghanistan, etc. Every book they read was obviously going to be discussed with whatever experiences they had that they brought with them.
* You should read it if for no other reason than to see how the "other side" live and to get an idea of why they think they way they do. I found that very telling.
* That's the end of my review.

You are welcome! No more rambling.

What did everyone else think? Maybe I should read it again to see if I can get past the rabbit trails that my brain kept taking?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Logophiles Unite

I was hanging out in the book store the other day just soaking up the books. Sometimes, I like to wander around and let books pick me. This is the book that picked me.

I didn't know I was a logophile until I read it inside the front cover. P.S. A Logophile is a word lover! 

See! A brand new word for the word journal!

I had just told my husband a few days before that I used to read the dictionary for fun. He called me crazy but that's okay. I kind of am.

Within the pages of this journal, you'll find questions that are posed to spark creative thinking by drawing upon words, expressions, quotes and ideas. Each entry is designed to pique your curiosity, point out new words and prompt you to write.

So pick up your pen, and document your love of language--one word at a time!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Winner Winner!! Is it you??

The contest for the Heather McDonald book, My Inappropriate Life is over and the results are in!

Our winner for this hilarious book is....**drum roll please**...


Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us get the word out and who entered!

Congrats Angie, I will pass your info to my contact!

Also, are any of you reading our pick for this month?

If you don't have your copy yet it's available at Amazon.

Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Connie's Winter Reading List

I'm feeling the urge to make a list. A reading list for winter because girl needs to have goals. I'm going to limit myself to just a few books because I want to make sure I cross all of these off.

 1.) A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. This book was recommended by Mimi and if she thinks it's good then it must be.


 2.) I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert. My kids birthdays are coming up and you know I'm the queen of goodie bags. But this year, no parties and no goodie bags.


 3.) A Good American by Alex George. I'm reading this for BlogHer's book club and it sounds really interesting!


 4.) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I've always wanted to read this book and now is the time!


What is on your winter reading list?

Monday, February 4, 2013

WINNER and Heather McDonald: My Inappropriate Life Giveaway

Last week was the last giveaway for our Blogiversary! The winner of the ruffle tote book bag is....

**drumroll please**


Thanks everyone who helped us get the word out. Our stats more than doubled!

On to some more fabulous stuff! It happens to be another giveaway!

A couple weeks ago a friend of mine who happens to know Heather McDonald (of Chelsea Lately fame) asked if I might like to read her new book.

She also knows we have this here blog and some pages on Facebook so she figured it would be a great way to promote the book and possibly promote our little operation here.

And the idea for me to review said book and giveaway a second book was born. Isn't my friend smart? Yes. Yes, she is.

A few days ago I received this book in the mail, signed by Heather.

If you don't win this book you can go to Amazon to order on Feb. 5th. 

I have an entire list of books that I need to read either for friends (to review), book club (to keep up with one and start another) and to finish.

So I did what any normal person would do: I squealed at the pretty cover, ditched the other books and holed up on my couch with a blanky and read this one instead.

Let me first say that it is a fun, light, entertaining, and easy read. On top of that, it's a super quick read.

I started it and then got sidetracked but Friday night when we were having our weekly "slumber party" night with the boys, I got back to it.

This was my first mistake. I'm lying in bed trying to read and be quiet so the boys can sleep. When I got to the part about her Hershey's Kiss moment on Chelsea's private plane, I died. THEN. Came the torpedo moment and I lost it.

The bed was literally shaking, y'all. I tried to keep it quiet and inch my fat butt out of bed without making too much noise to escape where I could let loose with a loud guffaw noise. Donkey's got nothin' on me and my braying, guys.

You might think by the title of this book that Heather is totally irresponsible and X rated and taboo. Really? She's not.

In fact, I would venture out there enough to say that it's not that she's inappropriate. She's got some inappropriate friends, though! She ends up in situations that are seriously priceless.

She's a working mother to 2 boys and 1 step daughter and she's a normal gal...with an extraordinary job and friends that put her in the most entertaining situations.

The way she can take the ordinary story of taking her children on one of her trips for work to the ending where she's quoting Amy Winehouse song lyrics? Awesome.

And all the stuff in between (which is the good stuff that I'm not going to spoil for you) that gets you to the end where she's quoting those lyrics make total sense. As a mom, you're going to totally understand why and how this happened. In the end? It was probably a lil inappropriate that her kids were in that situation. Did she know before hand? Not at all.

Which is part of her charm. Heather is funny, self deprecating, loving and irreverent. It's an interesting and delightful combo, really. And, yes, I totally just said "delightful."

Somehow, I think Heather would smack the crap out of me for using that word in her book review.

I apologize. I need to rephrase it...perhaps something more along the lines of..."I'd trade my left nipple to live a day in her life." (read the book and you'll get that.)

Now. Here's the best part.

You can win your very own copy of Heather McDonald's book!! Autographed by the funny lady, herself!

Rafflecopter's in charge of this giveaway, so follow these rules and you're on your way to some serious laughter. If you ask me, it's perfect for this time of year....dreary, gray, cold, need some sunshine and funny!
a Rafflecopter giveaway