Sunday, May 1, 2016

Books of April

Alice suffers a concussion and wakes up, believing she's 10 years younger than she really is.  How she recaptures the lost 10 years of her life makes a captivating story.  I've enjoyed most of Liane Moriarty's books, and I recommend you try this one.  It's not her absolute best, but I liked it.

Nora Roberts' latest romantic suspense isn't very suspenseful and isn't very romantic either.  12-year-old Naomi follows her father into the forest one night, thinking he's hiding the new bike she wants for her upcoming birthday, but instead she discovers he's a serial killer.  That's Part 1.  Later when she's grown and is a traveling free lance photographer, she falls in love with an old house and impulsively buys it and starts to restore it.  Now we learn more than we ever want to know about restoring old houses and decorating them as well as a great deal we also don't want to know about photography.  One day as she is rescuing a dog on the road, the town mechanic comes along and we know immediately that she'[ll keep the dog and soon go to bed with the mechanic.  We learn a lot about auto mechanics, too.  Suddenly murdered women who have blonde hair (just like Naomi, of course) start turning up.  Someone is copying her imprisoned dad's technique and we know that soon he'll be after Naomi, too.  By the way, Naomi doesn't tell anyone, including Xander,our hero, about her traumatic childhood, but, clever guy, he figures it out when she is upset when she spies a book about her childhood on his bookshelf.  How does he figure out which book she's looking at when he has an entire wall of books?  Well, he's our hero, so why not?  I've been a Nora Roberts fan since I first starting reading and writing romance, but this one is awful.  Maybe she has no more good ideas left.  Maybe I won't read her next release.

Paul Kalanithi is just completing his residency in neurosurgery when he is diagnosed with cancer.  He tells us about his background and the progression of his disease in this beautifully written book which was completed by his wife after he died.  It's been on the non-fiction best seller list with good reason.  Highly recommended.

I love sports books and what better time to read one than during the NCAA Final Four and the NBA playoff season.  This book is about the boys who went from high school to the NBA, about the amazing successes like LeBron James and the failures as well.  Is it appropriate for high school grads to go straight to the big league?  Are they ready for professional basketball?  Here's a book that parents of kids with dreams of being the next Kobe Bryant should read.  I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Quote for the Weel

In view of the Tax Day flood in Houston, quotes about rain seem appropriate:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Tax Day 2016

Houston, Texas, Memorial Day 2015; Tax Day 2016.  Another year, another flood.  Last year the bayous overflowed in scattered pockets of the city, including Meyerland, my neighborhood, and Dumfries, my street.  This year the entire city was under water.  Cars were submerged on flooded streets, people were rescued from their homes, other people waded to safety through waist-deep water.  Schools were closed, courts were closed, The mayor and the county judge appeared on television, promising help to the stranded, listing shelters where people could stay, saying they were sad and sorry, sorry, so sorry for the devastation in our city.

Residents of Meyerland who had just moved back into their renovated homes were flooded again. My heart goes out to them, faced with trauma after trauma.

I'm fortunate to have sold my house, and I watched this storm from my fourth floor apartment.  My car was flooded and I now have a rental with roll-up windows and 4 doors which have to be locked separately.  But I'm lucky to have a rental.  By Tuesday afternoon, the day after the flood, they were hard to come by.  Who knows how long it will take the adjuster to check my car?  I'm probably 100th in line.

People here are angry.  Apologies for delayed rescues aren't enough.  The mayor has promised to appoint a Flood Czar.  Fancy title and all, what will s/he do?  The city has been over-developed, wetlands have been paved over, bayous have not been widened or deepened despite promises to work on flood control.  Here we are, the 4th largest city in America, flooded to a standstill and hurricane season fast approaching.  Maybe we need to take a lesson from the Netherlands, maybe we need to find the money to repair our broken flood control system.  Because we can be sure this isn't the last disaster.  Now that most of the water has drained off, now that flood insurance companies have been contacted, now that sheet rock has been torn out of soaked walls, we're waiting for some answers. Meanwhile we can only mutter, "Rain, rain, PLEASE go away."

Not likely.  It's a gray. gloomy day.  Rain has been coming down all afternoon, and the clouds look heavy with moisture.  Thunder has begun to rumble.

Here's a quote from an article by Cort MacMurray in today's Houston Chronicle:

"It's not easy being a Houstonian.  Here we sit, soaked in our soggy bayou homeland, scraping the contents of the neighbors' float-away trash cans from our front lawns and wondering if there's an automotive potpourri strong enough to mask Flooded Car Smell, thinking the thoughts that only Houstonians can think.  The rain isn't over."

Keep us in your prayers, you dry people in other parts of the country.  We need all the help we can get.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Sadness. Depression: They're Not the Same

Most of us use the terms "sadness" and "depression" interchangeably, but they aren't the same.

Sadness is part of the human experience.  If you've lost a spouse, of course you grieve.  You miss the most important person in your life, the shared experiences, the private jokes, the person you shared your innermost thoughts and feelings with.  Part of grieving is allowing yourself to feel sad.  You don't have to keep a stiff upper lip.  Part of your life--the most important part--has ended and you're faced, not just with loss but with a new reality.  The members of my widows' group are sad, but after we share our sadness and comfort each other, many of us go to lunch, enjoy the meal and laugh at each other's jokes.  And that's okay, too.  Even when you're sad, even when you go home and cry at night, you can still find pleasures in life.  In fact, you can realize how precious life is.

Depression can be a result of prolonged sadness that doesn't go away.  It can be a dark cloud hanging over you so that you can't enjoy anything.  It can affect your sleep, your eating habits, your energy level, your ability to engage with those around you..  You can feel hopeless and see no end to grief.
Depression needs intervention and if you're depressed, you shouldn't be reluctant to seek professional help.

Here's a quote from Dr. Robert B. Thompson:  "Sadness requires acknowledgement, assimilation and sharing hope with others as it carries you into a  new life,  Sadness ultimately becomes a thread in the tapestry of your life that provides color and meaning, while depression blocks your spiritual progression."

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Books of March

Reading Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon series is one of my guilty pleasures.  Yes, he is a spy and an assassin and, strangely enough, an art restorer.  I enjoy most of the books in the series, especially this one about a young woman who falls to her death while she is surveying books for the Vatican library.  Why is an Israeli secret agent investigating her death?  Why is he buddies with the Pope?  Read and find out.

 A truly disgusting book that I read because I get a free Kindle selection each month.  I chose this one and it was a really bad choice.  A horribly disfigured family lives in a locked underground basement--the boy, the brother, the sister, the mother, the father and the baby (None of them are given names). The father is abusive, the sister wears a mask so no one will have to look at her face, the boy collects fireflies.  Characters' motivations make no sense and I agree with Amazon readers who labeled the book "sickening."  Forget about it.

I love the Iliad, but I didn't care for this retelling that focuses mostly on Achilles and Patroclus.  My recommendation:  stick to the original.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Quote for the Week: Endings

Don't cry because it's over.  Smile because it happened.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Books of February

What is Germany and Japan had won World War II?  What if they divided the U.S. between them?  How different would everyone's life be?  This book takes place in just that scenario.  I didn't enjoy it, but feel compelled to finish every book club choice.

Another book club read.  I was interested to know more about the infamous and power-hungry Duke of Norfolk who played a large role n Henry the Eighth life.  This book focuses on his relationships with his second wife and his mistress.   Not the greatest book but okay.

This book gives a lot of information about Nixon's presidency--his dealings with China, his machinations in ending the Vietnam War, his relationships with the members of his cabinet and his inner circle (not always the same people) and, of course, his downfall over Watergate.  Unfortunately, it reads as if the writer were a sophomore in high school writing a term paper--long, poorly written sentences with so many pronouns you're not sure who he's talking about.  I learned more about Nixon but the book was hard to get through. It was badly in need of an editor.

Her husband has just died after being hit by a bus, but what secrets is his widow concealing?  What did he have to do with the kidnapping and murder of a little girl?  I'd give it a B.

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