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review 2018-02-18 06:18
Church Ladies with A Heart
The Mothers: A Novel - Brit Bennett

I read this a few weeks ago, and it's sticking with me. I think about the characters often, and I really wish I'd have read it with a group so I could refer to it and not get weird faces pulled in return. Brit Bennett must be a very wise old soul in a young woman's body. (She was apparently 25 when this was written.)

The Mothers are the old church ladies in a California community. The action revolves around the church, specifically one family in the church. But while it's based in the church, this is a very secular novel without any religious zealotry directed toward the reader. (Some zealotry gets directed toward characters.) The Mothers represent missing mothers, mothers who can't fulfill their duties, mothers who are actually fathers, and many other mother figures in today's world.

It's a quiet story about loving people we aren't sure how to love, or how to show we love; about what happens when we can't, don't or won't talk our loved ones and instead keep secrets. It's a story about the fact that even when someone doesn't show you they love you in the way you might have hoped for or doesn't tell you everything, they may be the one to come through for you. Conversely, those who profess love may not be there when things get tough. It's about family and the ache that comes from missing family. It's an excellent story. Read it if you haven't.

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review 2018-01-25 02:33
The Wedding Dress
The Wedding Dress - Mary O'Donnell

This is one of my favorite books from this series so far. I was a little annoyed at first because there was so much refreshing of the previous books but the story was very good. I really like the historical aspects and how they connected with the present. 

Annie is moving things in the attic to make room for a handyman to install new lighting. She decides to move the dressmakers manikin to another room. When she moved it she was surprised to find that it had been standing on a hand-painted hat box. The was curious what was on the manikin so she carefully unpinned and removed the sheet covering it. She was shocked to find a beautiful antique wedding dress with crochet accents. When she opened the box she found a matching veil and gloves. She doesn´t remember seeing the dress when she was younger and she knew it wasn´t her grandmother´s dress. She´d seen picture of her grandmother´s dress and this one seemed to be from an older generation. Annie told her friend about the dress when she attended the weekly Hook & Needle club meeting and they all had questions. Someone mentioned it could have been left by the original owner, a sea Captain named Grey. Ann learned that her home, Grey Gables, which she inherited from her grandmother had been named after him. Now she wants to learn more about this man and the wedding dress.

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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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