Those Who Save Us for a book discussion group about two years ago. When I finished it, I thought it was good but not fantastic and gave it three stars. But over time, it was surprising to me how often the characters and situation kept coming back to me, and I've upgraded my rating to four stars and I want to re-read it. It's about the choices you make to keep yourself and your children alive and safe -- in this case, a sort of deal with the devil. Those choices may have an unexpected price that you were unaware of when you made them. It's also about the relationship between a daughter and her mother many years after this deal - of which the daughter is entirely unaware - since the story alternates between current day and World War II. This is another book that shows a different perspective on the war and how it affected everyday people caught up in its path.
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2004)
My rating: 4 stars
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Monday, January 30, 2012
Do you have someone special who deserves a Giant Paper Rose? These are gorgeous, and if I had come across this before I was married I would have done this for my wedding flowers. This Giant Paper Rose tutorial was posted at Greenweddingshoes.com. Enjoy!
DIY: Giant Paper Rose Flower
Friday, January 27, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise." – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
In his usual expansive yet compulsively readable way, Lamb explores human nature, the role and nature of God (if there is one) and how we deal with tragedy and keep taking one step forward even when it seems that everything is against us. I was surprised and delighted to see cameo roles by Dominick Birdsey and Dr. Patel from I Know This Much is True; they're like old friends. One of the reasons I enjoyed this book so much is that I experienced all these events and remember the shock and the outrage so many people felt when they happened. I also enjoyed 11/22/63 by Stephen King, which has a similar tone and narrative feel to The Hour I First Believed, but I'm too young to remember the years leading up to the JFK assassination so I didn't have the personal connection to it that I did to this novel.
My only criticism is that, in typical Lamb fashion, he delves expansively into Caelum's past through the letters and other document left by his ancestors. I dislike the "story within a story" mechanism because it diverts too much from the main story and doesn't tie into it enough in the end to make it worth all the pages Lamb spends on it. To be fair, I had the same reaction to I Know This Much is True but still liked it so much that I've read it twice, and this is probably one I'll re-read down the line.
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (Harper, 2008)
My rating: 4 stars
Monday, January 23, 2012
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
This Valentine Garland crafted by OH SO CRAFTY is amazing, and pretty easy to do. Enjoy:
I wanted my hearts to be in shades of red and pink, so I found pages with those colors and in no time I had a pile of paper hearts.
I took the hearts to my sewing machine and just started sewing them together to make my garland.
This is a complex exploration of the Catholic priesthood and the many things that have gone wrong with it told through the story of an Irish Catholic family in working-class Boston. As a young priest, Art struggles with how to counsel young families when he has no experience in relationships or with raising children. How can he offer any advice worthwhile? He's also deeply lonely, isolated, and bullied by fellow priests. But when he finally makes a human connection, it ends up leading to his downfall. Is his fatal flaw the human need to connect with others?
While some of the plot is predictable, I enjoyed this novel and it had a few twists that I wasn't expecting.
Faith by Jennifer Haigh (Harper, 2011)
My rating: 3 stars
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Enzo the dog wants nothing more than to be human and a race car driver in his next incarnation, and he spends his days observing humans and preparing for his next life as his owner, Denny, applies the lessons of the race track to his own challenges with his wife, daughter, and a resulting legal situation. Enzo wonders at the end of the book if he's wasted his life by not enjoying his dogness and spending all of his time anticipating the future, but I don't think that he did. Part of what makes dogs themselves, in my opinion, is their acute interest in humans and our activities.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (Harper Collins Canada, 2008)
My rating: 4 stars
Monday, January 9, 2012
Thursday, January 5, 2012
Monday, January 2, 2012
With the new year here, imagine doing a craft each and every day of it!? That is what the blog 365 Days of Crafts by Bronwyn Kay Bowerman is all about. Have a look at her 2011 archive of 365 days of crafts: