SPRING BREAK PEOPLE. It’s at it’s end. But let’s take it back a week ago…9 Days of reading…day in..day out…no interruptions whatsoever. Holed up in my house, curtains closed, nothing else to do but devote myself to reading. Cookies, hot tea, peace and quiet..a stack of books, kids playing outside..tons of sandwich making because they don’t want to bug me to make their meals, right??!! Oh, how I wish that were true. With countless chores, a few activities, and tons of responsibilities that desperately needed tending to…it’s a wonder I managed to open a book. But no complaints, because even through it all I actually did manage to open a book. I opened a book many times. I opened several books. Somehow I managed to read a whopping total of 4..almost 5 books. Sometimes I can’t even read that much in a month. Like Stella Got Her Groove Back…I got my reading groove back. Since the beginning of the year I have been stumbling through books. I’ve been reading slower than a 1st grader. I’ve hardly been enjoying my reading experiences because I have been so slow..Life and it’s problems. But that seems to be over with..the bad reading experiences…not life. Silver lining..I’m surviving life with reading (and Jesus).
My reading frenzy is back!! And I am thrilled about it. I have never stopped reading but yes, I have slowed down considerably. Suddenly I was taking an entire week just to get through an easy 200 page book. That’s ridiculous…and frustrating. Forget about the 400+ page books. 2 weeks of agonizingly slow reading…that by the time I finished I didn’t even know what the entire story was about. Mind you, there were some good ones in -between that I got through without issue…but then right back to my slump. For the past 2 weeks though….a book reading BEAST I tell you….A BOOK READING BEAST!!
I am back to reading books with in a few days. I am back to being engrossed in the stories…fantasizing about the characters..envisioning every detail in my mind. Aaaaah, it’s so refreshing. I can’t imagine what it is like being someone that does not read. I do also think that it was the fact that I took Spring Break as an opportunity to venture out of my shell. Springing forward. Corny but oh so true. I suffer from depression. I have social anxiety. I fear being in cars. I don’t drive. BUT, I did things I don’t normally do on my own and without the help of my husband. I spent time with an Aunt of mine…we reconnected finally after having not connected in so many years. We laughed..talked…enjoyed each other’s company. I had a date with the hubby. We had a date with the kids. Nothing was perfect but everything was lovely. I needed that so freakin’ much. It gave me some spark back and I intend on doing more of it here and there with the people that I love…throw in loving myself…and my reading experiences will be more enjoyable. Life is hard…we need to take it easy every now and then.
So yes…4 books. Almost 5. Well..the night is not over. I just might get to that 5th book by the morning. In the meantime, here are the books that I read:
First one…Midnight Without A Moon by Linda Williams Jackson. This is a middle grade book. The back of the book states that it is a read for children between the ages of 11-14, I believe. So Middle grade…early high school age. 320 pages..it’s not a one-sitting read but it has a flow to it that can be read in a day or two even. So…a historical fiction middle grade/young adult book but absolutely something that most adults can and will enjoy. It reads very much like To Kill A Mockingbird. I didn’t feel silly reading it. I didn’t feel like it was an unbelievable tale or it was sugar coated too much. But yes…it was sugar coated somewhat. The fact that this is historical fiction made into a fictitious tale with very real and serious events. Controversial events..a very traumatic and trying time for the black community…made into a story that shares with us, the readers, more or less, what life was like in the time of 1955. Blacks were free…but they were not free. Crazy thing about life. Crazy thing about that time. Free but not free. It gives the reader enough..if you consider that the target age for this book is a young teen. I think it could have gone a tad deeper..a little scarier..a little more informative of the major historical and factual event that occurs in this book. Still….I was fairly content with how far this book went.
Rosa Lee Carter…a 13 year old African American girl, often made fun of for being very dark and tall and lanky, living in Mississippi with her family. Her entire 13 years of life has been marred with some sort of injustice be it from the white community or from the way she is treated within her family. She has a brother, Fred Lee…and well, she has a step brother and step sister only she is not allowed to refer to them in that way. Instead she is viewed as an Aunt, her brother an Uncle to the two kids that their mother took up and claimed when she married their father..a very dreamer type man who seeks out the finer things in life. Wanting to not be viewed as a woman without a man and children out of wedlock their mother pretty much just turns her children into siblings and gave those “siblings” to the care of her mother and father. She visits her children..she claims to love her children…but she was just as easy do away with them for another man…and she did when she one day announced that she was leaving with her new husband and new children and heading to Chicago for a better way of life. Poor Rosa and her brother….stuck with their strict, hard-lined and un-affectionate grandmother, Ma Pear. So heartbreaking…I could not contain my tears. I felt for Rosa greatly. I felt her pain and anger and sadness and extreme bitterness…all feelings that she had to bottle up inside and continue on with her chores and her obedience. Same went for Fred Lee.
The mother moves away with her new family. Rosa and her brother are bitter but making do…working the daily chores, staying out of their grandmothers hair, pining and dreaming of ways to escape the town they are in. We learn the way life..which was basically poor, black, and living off the land of the people that employ you for hardly any money at all when you consider the constant hard labor they give to these family…in a time where black people had to mind their P’s and Q’s around white people..where saying the wrong thing or making too lax of a gesture to a white person could get you in jail or worse yet…murdered.
Which brings me to the other story within this story. The tragic circumstance of Emmett Till. A very real event. A very real person and the reality he faced at the hands of white people for an action he may or may not have done. No matter…the punishment did not fit the “crime”. Mississippi was easily a dangerous place for a black person as was most of the are surrounding it..as was most of America and the world. And Emmett Till soon realized that. I don’t want to give too much away….so I will end it with this: It is a beautiful and tragic book with a bittersweet ending. Very much an enjoyable and captivating read if you don’t mind shedding a tear..if you don’t mind feeling a little unsettled about our country’s disturbing history, if you don’t mind getting into some serious feels. A really great book….and I’ve come to realize that yes it’s labeled for young adults…a mislabeling indeed because it should be read by all.
Next up: We’ve Come To Take You Home by Susan Gandar. I received this book a few weeks ago. What was great about it…is that I signed up to win this book…I won…and almost immediately the book showed up at my doorstep. I think in maybe less than two weeks of having “won” it. But even before that, the author sent me a lovely comment via Facebook letting me know that my prize was on it’s way. Talk about personable and attentive. If that was not special enough..the book arrives…personally signed with a message, and then containing two book postcards and one of them with an even lovelier message from the author. BLOWN. AWAY. PEOPLES. She did not have to do all that….but she did…and I absolutely feel special.
But no worries….this is not going to give me bias to my review of the book…and here’s why: I read it…I LOVED IT…this book is what helped me truly get past a very dragging reading slump of mine. I can’t say enough wonderful things about this story….aaaah, I am still thinking about it.
Sam sees things….not so much daydreams or visions but rather visions with feelings. She feels herself as the someone else she is seeing through the eyes of. And that’s just it. She is not a bystander in her visions….she is the one that is in them. She is seeing everything through the eyes of the person involved. She sees things as they are real live events…morbid and tragic, a scene of death and destruction. At first I was confused on what I was reading. One minute she is with friends hanging out with some boys then something happens..she sees a different scene than what is actually before her. She does not know what to make of it. She is lost and confused..and in a sense it makes the reader a bit lost and confused with her. I don’t know if that was the intended affect but for me it happened that way. We learn later the reason these visions are playing out as they are.
As the story unfolds…Sam’s dad and mother are having a few marital issues. Sam’s dad works as a pilot..and is in and out of the house a lot. I think there was a little more to it…but I can’t remember right now. We learn that Sam has always had these strange ways…imaginary friends…and peculiar habits which may or may not tie into the whole vision stuff. Then while with her mother one day they discover that her father was in a serious accident. And although things did not appear bad at first…they got worse. There is a mystery behind this accident…another one of those things we learn at the end of the book. Which by the way…I love…because one has to read the entire book to discover the explanations to some of these mysteries and tie-ins.
So now for the other twist to this tale. Jess. A young girl of about 15, living in poverty with her father and mother and baby brother. The year is 1914. War is going on between France and England. Many men are forcefully serving..many men are dying. Then it’s 1916 and the war is still going on. Men are still dying. Devastation is still everywhere…and all of that hits home when Jess’ dad is forced to serve. Leaving mother and daughter and baby on their own…to fight for what little finances they can muster for survival. Life is grim and Jess does not know if she will ever see her father again.
Tragic and beautiful. Jess is sent away to work for a very rich family…The Major and his family to work as a maid in their mansion. The same family that Jess’ mother worked before. Adjusting to life as a maid…and then she meets the Major’s son, Tom, a young man much older than Jess, back from the war. At first she finds him odd…intimidating even…but things change. Another tale unfolds. Aaaaaaah. Eeeeek. Excitement coursing through my veins.
We flip back and forth between stories. We go back and forth to the past and back to the future again. Sam and Jess…Jess and Sam. And then it all comes together in the end. GENIUS.
There was a book that I read by Alice Hoffman that I fell madly in love with a few years ago…The Marriage Of Opposites. This was as great as that book and that book is a success. Beautiful…bittersweet…full of despair and sadness but hope. Romance tickling at the back of my neck with every page turned. It took me a little more than a day to get through it because of LIFE but I would have finished it in a sitting if I had the choice. DID NOT WANT TO PUT IT DOWN. Yes..read this book!!
We move on to book #3: Things We Lost In The Fire: Stories by Mariana Enríquez . A collection of short stories by a new up and coming International author. A collection of short stories that are macabre, that are a little spooky, that are unusual and almost nostalgic. They read like stories I’ve heard in my childhood. Being Mexican..as a child, oh, the countless stories we would hear or tell ourselves. I will say Mexican people have a way of creating fear and dread in a tale…a moral of the story tale…a precautionary tale…to get us to go to sleep, not visit that particular night club, don’t go down those roads, never talk to strangers, stop and think. I am realizing very much that Argentinian culture has the same concept in their stories.
12 short stories of contemporary Argentina..but made to feel somewhat timeless. There was some creepy stuff going on in these stories. There was also some confusion in some of them. Food for thought in some of them. And one or two I really had no real interest in but they were not bad. Yes macabre..and yes a little skin crawling as your mind starts to take over where the story leaves off. If I was being honest…I could have and would have enjoyed more. I wanted more. I can literally sit here right now and start typing up a story that was told to me by my grandmother about men that come at night and look into the windows of houses to take peeks at children and it will scare me so much more. Yeah see…I glanced over at my living room window, a little spooked. This is not to say that I did not enjoy these tales. I had some definite favorites. Those favorites I would love to see turn into a full on novel because I want to know more about those characters and know more about where the story ends up. But then there were those that I just didn’t get. I have to go over the book just to remember what they were about. Of course this is to be expected with short story reads. Can’t like them all.
I can tell you the ones I did like right off the top of my head…the ones that grabbed at me..are sticking with me still today. THE DIRTY KID. An odd read. One of the longer ones in the entire book. I can’t explain why I liked it but I did. THE INTOXICATED YEARS. Gave me the chills. The girl walking into the woods for no reason whatsoever. She could have set the location in Mexico or somewhere in Texas and it will fall in line to the folklore that we have. It left me unsettled. Having to use my own imagination. Maybe I would have liked to know more…but the unsettling is what has me remembering so if it were a page or two more it would have not had that same effect. ADELA’S HOUSE. Strange. Spooky. Confusing.
I have done a review on this book previously. I read it at the time…but kinda skimmed it in one of my fogs. So re-reading it gave me a new appreciation for this book. What I loved before I loved more. What I did not like I began to like. What I despised…stayed that way. There is a feminist feel to all these stories even the ones with a male main character. And I think that is what I loved about this book over-all…reminds me of my childhood where the folklore is female driven. It scares me more. We expect there to be male serial killers. We expect the rapist of our nightmares to be men. But when the spooks come at the hands of women…well that is unusual and thrilling even.
Lastly: The Big Let Down by Kimberly Seals Allers. Much anticipated for me. I breastfed all 4 of my children. My oldest I breastfed him exclusively for a 1 and a half. Then went on to feed him another 6 months with the breast while trying to ween him onto milk and more solid food feedings. I breastfed my daughter for 6 months and then supplemented for another 6 months on formula when she began having gastrointestinal issues. I breastfed my other son for about 8 months. And my last kiddie, I breastfed him for a year and a half…actually almost the full two years. Exhaustion can’t even describe the true nature of it all. But I will say with all honesty, nothing in the world can compare to the bond mother and child have being so close in each others presence day in and day out while feeding. I have nothing against formula feeding moms. Nothing against pumping exclusively moms…whatever floats your boat is none of my business to judge, but I will say breastfeeding moms stand apart from all the rest. We are the mothers that choose to give our entire selves to baby. We can’t be greedy with our ‘down time’, we can’t be selfish with our appearance, heck we can’t even think about looking cute in fitted blouses for the duration of the feeding period. We are baby milking machines. THAT’S IT. A baby attached to our bodies in what feels like 24 hours, days a week, never ending cycle. So yeah…kudos to us for getting it done. Again..nothing against the other mommies that make different choices…but come on..there is no comparison and I wanted that validation that I did something right in motherhood(not that I really needed it but ya know…it’s in a book…might as well). In a world full of Pinterest mommies and self praise…I get to do the same..alone..in my living room. I deserve the recognition too. I did something great and selfless and amazing for my babies. I gave them myself.
Rant over..bragging ended…review commenced. I wanted to read this book because I know a lot about the experience of breastfeeding but do I really know the facts, the data, the information behind it all. Yes and no…but this book will determine that somewhat. Obviously this book is all about the breastfeeding mommas. If this book does not sell you on the idea….I don’t know what will. Mind you..I did not enjoy it as much as I would have liked to enjoy it. I found myself a bit daunted by all the facts and figures…OMG, I had to skim through the chapter MILK MONEY. I was seeing numbers, and ratios and percentages in my nightmares but that’s just me being a fiction lover…sometimes the hard facts and data can be a bit too much. I LOVED the Introduction. It was like a Pep Rally..getting me all excited for the rest of the book. After that I fumbled back and forth with being fully engrossed in what I was learning..and keeping myself from napping while sitting up.
The fact is…you will learn something from this book. It is an eye opener.It validated my choice to breastfeed all these years. I was relieved for that. I realized things I did not before..and that’s with years and years of breastfeeding experience behind my belt. Obviously you can never know it all about anything…there is always more to learn. However, I’ve reached the end of my breastfeeding days and so I don’t know if the info was as valuable as it would have been if I had read this before. I also don’t know if I really grasped anything inspirational from this book. Yes…it’s pro breastfeeding but it was more fact fact fact…than inspire inspire inspire. I had to trudge through the book more often than not. Still, I think this book needs to be in every ‘mothers-to-be’ prep bag. I think it should be bought by all OB-GYNs and given to mommies on their first Pre-natal visit.
Done. That’s 4 books. I am currently doing a re-read on The Bell Jar by Slyvia Plath. I tried to re-read this book last year and stopped about 50 pages in. At the time I was not feeling it. The Reading Gods have blessed me with the inspiration to love this book the 2nd time around. Almost done with it and have re-discovered the reason I loved it many years ago in High School.
So happy readings!! Peace…Love…and Self Care!!
Thanks as always to the wonderful peeps at goodreads for awarding me We’ve Come To Take You Home, Midnight Without A Moon, and The Big Let Down…all free in exchange for an honest review.
Also to bloggingforbooks for my request of Things We lost In A Fire, free in exchange for an honest review.
…to which I gladly and voluntarily did all.