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Search tags: summer-fun
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review 2018-12-01 03:04
Heart-warming and Funny Bone-Tickling
The Summer Holidays Survival Guide - Jon Rance

‘Oh, Dad, how little you know,’ said Liv, her head returning to her phone.

 

How little I know. I have a feeling this one cold, hard sentence, uttered from my twelve-year-old daughter’s lips, might sum up my life.


Ben Robinson is an art teacher, in his mid-40s, and is trying to figure out how he'll survive the upcoming summer holidays -- 6 weeks with his three kids, and a marriage who's spark is gone out (possibly for good). Oh yeah, and an aging father with dementia moving in with them, rather than a nursing home. Meanwhile, he's trying to prepare for a half-marathon, which is about a whole marathon more than he's ready for.

 

We get a day by day (or close to it) account of how this goes for Ben. The short version is: not very well. Particularly in the beginning. Ben meddles in his fifteen year old son's love life (with some really bad sex tips -- all of which I'm considering passing on to my kids), cannot understand his twelve-year-old daughter's social media life (and nascent pubescence), and derails his eight year old son's summer plans without trying. Things go downhill from there, really.

 

His dad is having trouble remembering that he doesn't live in the same home, or that his wife has been dead for a few years -- this is a source of strain for both Ben and his father -- and the relationship becomes strained. Ben is having trouble seeing his father this way, and his father is having trouble being this way. Both are trying their best, but this

Speaking of a strained relationship, the number of things wrong with his marriage keeps growing, and every thing that Ben tries to do to fix it just makes things worse. He and his wife aren't communicating well -- one of those problems that keeps feeding itself and growing worse.

 

Throw in an accidental participation in an anti-Brexit demonstration, a road rage incident leading to social media notoriety for one member of the family, teen romance problems, summer-altering injuries, and well -- clearly, someone needs to write a survival guide.

As Ben and his family try to get through their struggles intact -- and maybe even better than that -- there's plenty of fodder for humor. There's a lot of heartwarming material, some real laughs and more than a few chuckles. There's some really effective writing and characterization.

 

However, there's also Rance's need to go for the big laugh. And here, he basically turns Ben into Basil Fawlty -- with all the wild schemes, failing schemes, shouting, misunderstandings and slapstick involved. I don't think any of these scenes or moments worked for me. When he's going for subtle laughs, or those that grow from character, I really enjoyed it. When the subject matter is serious (or at least non-comedic), Rance is really strong. It's when he's obviously trying that he falters.

 

‘Marriage,’ said Dad. ‘There’s always ups and downs. You just keep riding it, son. It’s like a rollercoaster. You can’t get off, so you just hold on, and do your best to enjoy it.'

 

‘I’m holding on for dear life, but life is harder than it was, Dad. The world has changed. The rollercoasters are bigger and scarier now. The drops are bigger, the hills higher.’

 

‘Oh tosh. The world might change, but people don’t. Love is still love, clear and simple. Don’t blame the world for your problems, son. Hold on tighter. Love stronger.’

 

That's one of the more earnest moments -- and there are plenty of them in the latter part of the novel, all set up well in the early part -- and it shows the heart of the book -- and there's plenty of heart. Rance won me over, and got me to put more of his books on my list because of these kind of moments, and the genuine laughs I got from the smaller moments, I've got more of his stuff on the TBR.

 

It's a nice, pleasant book that'll tickle your funny bone and warm your heart.

Source: irresponsiblereader.com/2018/11/30/the-summer-holidays-survival-guide-by-jon-rance-heart-warming-and-funny-bone-tickling
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review 2018-11-30 15:28
DNF at 2 percent
Summer Light - Luanne Rice

I can't take seriously this book. We know that a child (Kylie) is apparently clairvoyant or has visions and is being studied at a university? I just noped out of the book at this point. I like romance and magical realism, but this is definitely not the book for me. 


The writing also reads as off to me. It's very flat to me. When the heroine (May) tells you how she got pregnant with her daughter Kylie I was flabbergast. She was dating some guy, got pregnant, he tells her hold up, I'm really married, sorry about that? I just...there's not enough time to absorb information before the author moves to something else. There's no build up that is grabbing me at all. 

 

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text 2018-11-24 16:00
24 Festive Tasks, Door 10 - Bon Om Touk
Summer With A Star - Merry Farmer

Bon om Touk

Book: I choose Summer with a Star by Merry Farmer.

 

Task #2

My kids' Cub Scouts pack had their annual Rain Gutter Regatta in September. Here are their boats, built with help from Dad.

 

Task #3

I really dig a slow, almost misty, rainy day. A day that requires a light blanket, a comfy chair, and tea and scone on a nearby table. Also, a table lamp for enough light to read but not too bright along with a scented candle burning. 

 

 

 

 

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text 2018-11-22 18:46
24 Festive Tasks: Door 9 - Thanksgiving, Task 1 (Favorite Books of 2018)
Half of a Yellow Sun - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Solitary Summer - Elizabeth von Arnim
The Ballad of Frankie Silver - Sharyn McCrumb
Their Lost Daughters - Joy Ellis,Richard Armitage
Harry Potter Box Set: The Complete Collection - J.K. Rowling

2018 was an excellent reading year for me, both in terms of quantity and quality -- yet, among the many great books I newly read this year, these stood out in particular:

 

1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Half of a Yellow Sun -- a multiple-perspective inside view of the Biafra conflict that manages to be brutally honest, insightful, saddening and poetical all at the same time.  Review HERE.

 

2. Elizabeth von Arnim: The Solitary Summer -- in many ways the exact counterpoint to Half of a Yellow Sun: a largely autobiographical ode to reading, and to the peace and quiet of a summer garden ... with more than an occasional sidelight on early 20th century Prussian country life and mores.  Status updates:

3 / 190 pages ~~ 9 / 190 pages ~~ 14 / 190 pages ~~ 22 / 190 pages ~~ 30 / 190 pages ~~ 41 / 190 pages ~~ 46 / 190 pages ~~ 55 / 190 pages ~~ 62 / 190 pages ~~ 65 / 190 pages ~~ 67 / 190 pages ~~ 69 / 190 pages ~~ 83 / 190 pages ~~ 87 / 190 pages ~~ 89 / 190 pages ~~ 93 / 190 pages ~~ 95 / 190 pages ~~ 106 / 190 pages ~~ 110 / 190 pages ~~ 126 / 190 pages ~~ 131 / 190 pages ~~ 133 / 190 pages ~~ 140 / 190 pages ~~ 147 / 190 pages.

(An eminently quotable book, as you can see.)

 

And joint honors for No. 3:

3.a) Sharyn McCrumb: The Ballad of Frankie Silver -- an examination of the death penalty as administered in the Appalachians as only Sharyn McCrumb could have written it, contrasting the historical case of 18-year-old Frankie Silver (the first white woman to be hanged in the area) with a fictional modern counterpart.  Like Half of a Yellow Sun, equal parts brutal, saddening and lyrical.  Review HERE.

 

3.b) Joy Ellis: Their Lost Daughters -- modern crime fiction as it ought to be: very (darkly) atmospheric, but without even an ounce of sentimentality; with compelling characters, an intricate plot, a great, not-yet-overexploited setting and a satisfying conclusion.  Review HERE.

 

Honorable mention goes to my reread of this year -- J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, which I fell in love with all over again ... to the point of splurging on the new hardcover set and the Gryffindor and Ravenclaw editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

 


And lest anybody point out that this is, in sum, vastly more than the "top three" books called for in the task: I'm a Libra -- do you know what an effort it was to even narrow it down this much??  Besides, I'm counting the Harry Potter series as one book, so there ...

 

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review 2018-11-18 13:46
One Hot Summer Night - Deborah Cooke

This wasn't my favorite in the series. I had a hard time connecting with the plot concept. What Gabe did 7 or 9 years ago was noble, but in the end, he was married and had a fling with Lexi. It was a bold concept for a Deborah to tackle and I certainly commend her for breaking barriers; however, with my own past experiences, I couldn’t get behind this love story.  It does end well for all parties and Gabe and his wife Daphne definitely didn’t have a real marriage, but marriage is marriage. I’m also shocked at how calm Gabe was when he discovers Lexi’s big secret that concerns how they met the first time 14 years earlier. How can he be so calm about it? I’m trying not to give any details away, there are some doozies in this one. I liked Gabe and Lexi, it is just how he wasn’t honest up front with her when they get together until after the fact that I found to be messed up. He should have been honest and things should have been resolved before they took things to the next step.

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