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review 2018-02-22 16:22
The Forever Year (The Hearts of Men Book 1) - Lou Aronica

The Forever Year (The Hearts of Men book 1) by Lou Aronica
Have read other works by the author and have enjoyed the books.
This one starts out with Mickey Sienna and he's 83 and his wife has been gone 4 years now and he's not himself. He ends up starting a fire in the kitchen and the neighbors rescue him while calling the fire department.
The grown children learn of it and they get together and decide it's time he goes into assisted living or a nursing home.
The youngest, Jessie, single says he will take him to live with him and the others sign off on it all together. Jessie is a writer who does feature stories and he has a girl Marina who is a schoolteacher.
Love how the father opens up about Gina-his first love because he nor any of the other siblings know anything about this. He confides in Marina and she does meet Mickey and they get along great.
Love the story inside the story and especially the care Jessie gives to his father while he's alive. Tragic at the end but also eye opening to understand what the father was trying to tell his son about his own life and how he wanted him to NOT walk in the same steps he had taken.
Excerpts from the authors other works are included at the end.
Received this review copy from the author and this is my honest opinion.

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review 2018-02-19 05:15
The Year Of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion

Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later–the night before New Year's Eve–the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma. This powerful book is Didion's attempt to make sense of the "weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself."

Goodreads.com

 

 

 

In the year 2003, Joan Didion and husband, novelist John Gregory Dunne, receive word that their daughter, Quintana, has been rushed to the ICU (on Christmas Day, no less). Quitana had been battling a severe case of pneumonia when her condition had suddenly turned septic. Just a few days later, December 30th, Dunne and Didion are settling into their dinner meal when Dunne suffers a massive, fatal coronary right at the dinner table. 

 

By October 2004, Joan Didion decides to start journaling some of her thoughts since experiencing all this pain and loss, this journal being the seed that would eventually become this book, The Year Of Magical Thinking. Here, Didion thinks on moments over the course of her forty year marriage to Dunne. Moments where she now, in retrospect, believes there were warning signs of the grief that was to come. As far back as 1987, she recalls, Dunne had expressed fears of premature death. By 2003, what would end up being the year of his death, Dunne had developed a long history of heart trouble, even having a pacemaker installed. Numerous times that year he had said he felt sure he was dying, but Didion admits she dismissed these moments as him just having momentary bouts of depression. 

 

Like most people trying to cope with the sudden loss of a loved one, Didion struggles to navigate through feelings of guilt, that sense that you could have done something more to save them. She even toys with the idea that she can still reverse the outcome of the events. But hey, don't judge. It's wild what grief can do to an otherwise seemingly sane mind. 

 

Didion also shares her feelings on being a mother having to witness her child suffering in illness and feeling helpless to fix it. While Didion's passages regarding her husband read strangely distanced in tone to me, it was these moments where she talks on Quintana that touched me much more. How awful that must have been for her to witness her daughter pull through brutal pneumonia and septic shock only to improve a bit before suffering a hematoma, pretty much putting the poor girl's health struggle back at square one! 

 

This book didn't land quite as perfectly for me as it did for a lot of other readers. That could be, in part at least, to the fact that I often don't do well with books -- either fiction or non -- that are written in a stream of consciousness style. As I mentioned earlier with some of the passages that speak on Didion's husband, the writing, at times, had a distanced feel to me. I acknowledge that grief can often bring on a certain sense of numbness and detachment from the world, but from time to time, this just read a little too arm's length to me, alternately reminding me of either a police report snapshot of events or perhaps a college paper being written on the theme of melancholy. 

 

But that's not to say I got nothing from this book. There were definitely passages that resonated with me, maybe moreso in that I read this the same year I lost my mother. That said, I am a little confused as to where the "magical thinking" comes in? Well written, no doubt, but it struck me as just a general sort of grief memoir rather than the life-changing work so many have touted it to be. 

 

 

____________

 

EXTRAS:

 

* Author Joan Didion has worked as a writer for both VOGUE and LIFE magazines

 

* There are a few spoilers for other books to be aware of in this book: namely her husband's novels DUTCH SHEA, JR. and NOTHING LOST, but also the play ALCESTIS and the film ROBIN & MARIAN starring Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery.

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review 2018-02-14 22:17
The Sin Eater's Daughter - Melinda Salisbury
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review 2018-02-14 17:33
That one time you had a work-study visa in Europe and spent all your time drinking instead of sightseeing (+time travel)
Paris Adrift - E.J. Swift

Disclaimer: reviewing uncorrected digital proof via NetGalley

 

"Adrift" is apt: the author took on a challenging format and offers some true excellence in character writing and worldbuilding, but the experience of reading this book is, for better or worse, as if you're just as adrift, confused, and purposeless as main character Hallie.

Hallie's doing the dissipated youth finding herself routine in Paris. But before we find that out, we have to wade through some future revolutionary setup with time-travellers who want to go back and change the past to resolve the blighted dystopian future they're living in. This is the frame story and the plot, but Hallie doesn't figure out where she fits into it until extremely late in the game. Instead, she's working and drinking her life away in a bar, hanging out with people who do the same, and - unwillingly at first - hopping through time in the cellar.

 

There's a lot to like at a technical level. Swift conveys that dreamy/nightmarish feeling and atmosphere of being 20-something and finding your group on the road, living in the moment, but with an uneasy awareness that the moment must pass and you're more than where you're stuck now. Paris and the group of international workers at Hallie's bar are conveyed with detailed world-building excellence, including what (as far as my limited French can tell) is accurate and characteristic uses of French.

 

If you think of this as a literary novel, it deserves a high rating. Dreamy, evocative, endlessly confusing, but in a way that hints at careful construction, it's an effective deep-dive into character. But the frame story plot lags as Hallie finds herself, and there are too many mysteries held for too long for it to be effective as a genre work. If you need fast, thriller pacing, spicy romance, or intricate and engage SFF goings-on to enjoy a book, this is not the story for you. If you're happy to invest some time, drift through the story, and maybe reminisce about (or look forward to) your own dissipated youthful travels, this offers much to appreciate. Just sit back and let it flow.

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review 2018-02-12 18:37
Out in Blue Fields: A Year at Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm by Janice Riley
Out in Blue Fields: A Year at Hokum Rock Blueberry Farm - Janice Riley,Stephen Spear This book is filled with everything Blueberry. It has tons of stunning pictures. Yes stunning and blueberries do not always go together when speaking of photos but in this case they do. There are pictures of the flowers before the berry forms, there are pictures of the bushes covered in snow, and there are pictures of the farm with the amazing backdrop of the forest behind it. The book chronicles a year of cultivating blueberries on Cape Cod's Hokum Rock Farm. Stephen Spear's family has owned the Hokum Rock Farm since 1973 and began cultivating blueberries exclusively in 1986, selling thousands of pints each season. Along with the photos is the history of cultivation, an autobiography, thoughts, feelings, and so much more. You get an in depth look at the family and of blueberries, and my favorite part recipes. I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.
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