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text 2017-12-28 20:16
16 Tasks of the Festive Season: Square 9 - Mōdraniht

Tasks for Mōdraniht: Tell us your favourite memory about your mom, grandma, or the woman who had the greatest impact on your childhood. –OR– Post a picture of you and your mom, or if comfortable, you and your kids.

Bonus task: Post 3 things you love about your mother-in-law (if you have one), otherwise your grandma.

 

Since I've already sung my mom's praises and posted pictures of her and me here (and another picture here), I'm going to make this one all about my maternal grandma, as well as my "third grandma" (my uncle's mother, who actually had a much greater role in my life than my paternal grandmother), without both of whom my childhood just wouldn't have been what it was.

 

My maternal grandma (left) and my "third grandma" (right), ca. mid-1980s

 

Since my mom was working full time even when I was in elementary school, after school I didn't go home but spent the afternoons at my grandparents' home some 5 minutes from our own home, where I got my lunch, did my homework (or read, or painted pictures) while my grandma was having her afternoon nap, had afternoon tea and biscuits (or, well, tea for the grown-ups, juice for me), and played with the neighborhood children, most of whom were my classmates.  Sometimes when my grandparents were travelling they would take me along, but whenever they didn't (or whenever my grandma was in hospital), it fell to my "third grandma" to take over taking care of me while my mom was at work.

 

age 3 or 4: on the beach in Holland with my grandma

 

So, many of the values I grew up with were my two caretaking grandmas' values, either conveyed to me directly by them or indirectly (via my mom).  More than anything, though, I remember both of their sense of humor, kindness and infinite patience -- and as I grew up, I also learned to appreciate their enormous broad-mindedness which allowed them to accept the change of social perceptions, and to distinguish changeable perceptions of morality and core personal values.

 

My maternal grandparents and my uncle's parents had known each other for decades before my generation came along in our family -- they were living in small neighboring towns in Thuringia until the end of WWII, and my uncle and aunt (my mom's elder sister) were high school sweethearts there -- but I think my two grandmas (real and "substituted in") became even closer friends after their respective families had moved to West Germany after the war, even though my "third grandma" lived in Essen (some 100 kms [60 miles] from Bonn) for the longest time and only moved here when my aunt and uncle did, too.  In many ways, looking back, nothing says "end of youth" (or "end of innocence") to me quite as much as their deaths, witihin a few years of each other, when I was in my early thirties.

 

 

Left: my grandma and my mom shortly after my mom's birth; right: my grandma with her three children (my mom's the youngest, leaning against her mother), mid- / late 1940s

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review 2017-12-24 23:02
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by Alyssa Wong
Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers - A... Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers - Alyssa Wong

Merry Christmas Eve! As the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð dictates, I shall be reading all of Christmas Eve as a way to celebrate! This is my first year participating and so far, it has been wonderful.

 

The first story I've read today is called Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers by the talented Alyssa Wong, who has won many awards for this particular short story and, in my opinion, it is well deserved. This is a short story about survival. About what it's like to live in a world that is much different than one would expect. Wong does an amazing job in showcasing how a person must do certain actions in order to survive in a world that is not made for everyone. She then makes commentary about families and how they are not always as loving and kind as they are made out to be. Her writing ability is rich and engrossing. I was captured from the very beginning by her character of Jen and what she must do in order to live.

 

I don't want to talk too much about the actual story since it's a short one. But I will say if you love beautiful writing, horror, stories about survival, and a different way of life then I highly suggest you read this short story. It's incredible. Also, there are some LGBTQIAP+ elements that I simply adored. Warnings for graphic violence and swear words. But if that does not bother you, give this a read. Wong did a fantastic job in creating a horror story with love interwoven throughout. It's amazing!

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text 2017-11-12 22:44
Book of the Month Winter Catch-up
The Mothers: A Novel - Brit Bennett
All at Sea: A Memoir - Decca Aitkenhead
Swing Time - Zadie Smith
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth: A Novel - Lindsey Lee Johnson
Exit West - Mohsin Hamid
American War - Omar El Akkad
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI - David Grann

Usually, in November I do Nonfiction November. But since It ran long and I have been neglecting my Book of the Month selections, I'm skipping the November reads and going right into my December pile. December is dedicated to catching up on what selections I didn't get around to reading through the year. Well, I still have some from 2016, let alone 2017. Yeah.... I need to get that stack down. Let's see how many of these I can knock out. I can' even remember what some of these are about.

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text 2017-10-30 00:31
Books I Read in August and September 2017
Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation - Damian Duffy,John Jennings,Octavia E. Butler
Breakfast in Bed (The Innkeepers) - Rochelle Alers
Surrender to Me (The Lawsons of Louisiana) - Donna Hill
Seeking Sarah: A Novel - ReShonda Tate Billingsley
To Wager Her Heart (A Belle Meade Plantation Novel) - Tamera Alexander
Pretty, Nasty, Lovely - Rosalind Noonan
Stay with Me: A novel - Adebayo Ayobami
The Mothers: A Novel - Brit Bennett
Gravel Heart - Abdulrazak Gurnah
Children of Blood and Bone: The OrÏsha Legacy (Children of OrÏsha) - Tomi Adeyemi

I will list the rating and to the side add commentary. 

 

 

5 Stars

 

 None

 

 

4 Stars

 

Breakfast in Bed by Rochelle Alers (solid read)

 

Seeking Sarah by Reshonda Tate Billingsley (solid read)

 

To Wager Her Heart by Tamera Alexander (fantastic story, pleasantly surprised)

 

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebeyo (unforgettable stand out read)

 

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by Damian Duffy (Liked this, LOVE book) 

 

 

3 Stars

 

Surrender to Me by Donna Hill (solid read)

 

Pretty, Nast, Lovely by Rosalind Noonin (interesting story)

 

Gravel Heart by Abdulrazak Gurnah (good story)

 

 

2.5 Stars

 

The Mothers by Brit Bennett 

 

I've been thinking what to say about my displeasure with this book. It was an okay read for me. Such a hyped book that I did everything possible to get my hands on it for months; giveaways, egalleys and such. To only be disappointed. There's nothing new here for me. It definitely wasn't what I expected in terms of the storyline. Maybe it's my age. I've read a lot of books and many heavy hitters at a young age. It takes a lot to impress me in story and writing. However, both don't have to be great. I'll take a good story with subpar writing or a well written book with just okay plot. Many love this one. It just wasn't for me. Beautiful cover and great publicity with a new up and coming author, I do believe Ms. Bennett is definitely one to watch!

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-08-29 21:06
Review: Mothers and Other Strangers
Mothers and Other Strangers - Gina Sorell

In writing programs and publications, everyone talks about first lines. They're important. Attract the reader with a stellar first sentence. Give them a solid few pages and you've got them hooked. Gina Sorell and her publisher clearly know about first lines. Not only does Mothers and Other Strangers begin with a wonderful and interesting first sentence, it's even an integral part of the book blurb: My father proposed to my mother at gunpoint when she was nineteen, and knowing that she was already pregnant with a dead man's child, she accepted. I decided to repeat it and write it in bold to give the author one final promotion before I tear this book apart.

I liked the line. It showed intelligence and it piqued my interest. The paragraphs that followed in the prologue were good, too. Five pages of great writing. And then, chapter one.

With chapter one, and every page that followed, the story lost credibility. The characters and their interactions were not believable. There's the sexy ex-husband stuck in a dead-end marriage. The apartment's concierge who's always friendly, full of advice, and apparently never leaves his post. The cat who chases away burglars and eats pea soup. The owner of the vegan cafe who happens to keep non-vegan options readily available in the event a sane person with taste wanders into his restaurant. You may believe these wooden characters and you're entitled to, but I didn't. Every setting, every character, and every action was an obvious ploy to advance the plot. But the plot itself becomes a mess. While you'd expect Elsie to unravel the big secrets promised in the opener, she spends more time talking about the existence of big secrets than making efforts to solve them. 

Then there are the things that really piss me off, like the disturbing sexuality of the novel. It's one thing if you're writing a psychological piece about a girl with a hyperactive and confused sex life; it's another to just throw it in haphazardly. Elsie is a messed-up girl, undoubtedly, but her actions are not explained, nor are they conducive to the plot—they were added for the sake of tension. Is it okay to include a character who believes that she asked to be raped and should remain silent out of embarrassment? Yes. Absolutely. Let's not shy away from the way some people truly think. But should we perpetuate those myths without further exploration or without the least bit of retrospection? Should we normalize such behaviors? Ugggh. Last book I read that I disliked this much was Fates and Furies, but everyone loved that one and I was clearly wrong about my disdain for that story, so I must be wrong about this well-liked story as well.

Honestly, there are some good ideas in this novel and those are probably what kept me going. Unfortunately, the implementation felt completely wrong to me. What Mothers and Other Strangers reminded me of was a screenplay for a Lifetime movie. I've enjoyed a few Lifetime movies in my years, but I recognize the overacting, the convenient story line, and the sprinkling of big issues for what it is. Mothers and Other Strangers would make a decent made-for-tv movie where such devices are expected. But if I'm to believe the recommendations on the cover of the novel, Sorell's debut fails as an “absorbing,” “stunning [2x],” “delightful,” “brilliant,” and “sensitive (???)” novel.

Oh, by the way, that first sentence is totally misleading... 

Not really her father. Also not at gunpoint, at least not the way that's implied. The author is pulling a fast one over on the readers, so I'm calling it out. But at least I have the decency to put it between spoiler tags

(spoiler show)

You're welcome.

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