A Monster Calls By Patrick Ness (w/ Bookies Book Club review)

Patrick Ness has amazed me with his writing in the past (his Chaos Walking series is still a book series I recommend to those who enjoy YA Dystopian like myself).  A Monster calls, while completely different – still rang true with the unique writing style of Ness that I find irresistible.  ~Sheila

 

13-year-old Conner is having nightmares.  His nightmares in fact are so dark that he dare not speak them out loud.  So when the Yew Tree comes to him at night furiously pounding on the walls of Conner’s house, Conner proclaims he is not scared, he has seen worse. 

Yet the Yew tree returns to his again and again, big and looming with a message that he claims had been beckoned by Conner himself.  Although Conner claims that he could not have possibly called upon the tree. 

Conner’s mother is sick with Cancer and his Grandmother is making herself a little too at home for Conner’s liking.  When Conner’s father shows up after a long absence Conner starts to wonder how seriously sick is mom, and does anything going on with her or what is happening at school have to do with the trees visits?

 

While you may say this is a children’s book – I believe this book offers so much more.  I found the writing to be deep, profound, and engaging.  The symbolism of the tree touched me.  Perhaps I was just in the right frame of mind to read – but I sat down Sunday afternoon and finished this that same afternoon.  It messed me up a bit emotionally, but Patrick Ness tends to do that anyway.

I look forward to seeing the movie.

The Bookies Book Club had a good discussion around this book.  Discussions of dealing with loss and letting ago of were tapped into.  For the most part we agreed it was a unique read, and while most of us enjoyed the book, a few did not.  Thus the beauty of a book club. 

We also had great food.  Early on in the book Conner and his mother are eating an Indian Dish called Chicken Vindaloo.  In this part of the book it is described as “they ate great plates of this and were farting and laughing by the time they got to the car.”

Of course I was curious about the dish and had to make it, teasing the Bookies that I was seeing if it would have the same effect on us.  As far as I know it did not, however we did not eat large plates of it (although I think I could have – it was pretty tasty.  😉

Great night with the Bookies.  A book I would recommend and would love to hear your thoughts on.  The movie is out and I am looking to give that a try as well. 

Morning Meandering… Birthday Weekend Check In

Sunday morning.  What is not to love?  Coffee, a good book planned for later, warm blanket and nothing on the agenda other than what I want to put out there in the universe.   I LOVE LOVE LOVE no commitment days.  They give me a chance to unwind, recharge, and prepare to hit it again.

So…. Friday was my birthday.  It was epically uneventful.  Its not that I had any big plans – I was just hoping to do something to make it memorable.  My day just got away from me.  My lunch date for that day had to cancel, my day went longer than I thought it would at work, and I arrived back home around 7:15 pm tired, and with no energy to do any of the things I was tossing around to make a memory.

It happens.

I was in a royal funk and had to remind myself that I am blessed in so many ways.  I have great relationships.  I am healthy.  I have a new job that inspires me and uses my creative energy. I can always make a memory and know I will push myself to continue to live each day to the fullest. 

So.. Saturday.  I made up for it.  I went to St Paul and I ran the Valentines Run with my friends Belinda and Sheila and FROZE.  We had an amazing lunch and I stopped at Barnes and Noble on my way home and treated myself to the book club read (Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls) as well as a few other books and a couple trinkets for my book room.  I went to Office Max ( I LOVE PAPER!) and purchased what I hope is a handy organizer as well as a few other things for my office.  I stayed in last night and watched TV and ate a sub.

Today… I am going to read.  I am going to maybe go to a movie, and I am going to cook something (not sure what) in my New Instant Pot that I super excited about.  I am going to organize a few things to make my week a little easier.  I am drinking coffee, and chilling in the recliner.  BLISS.  Really.  BLISS. 

What are you doing with your Sunday?  What great read is lucky enough to spend time with you?

Morning Meanderings… Weekend Unwind


I have been home from vacation for 7 days now and today….  TODAY is my first day that I am commitment free AND if all goes as I plan…  I will not leave the house today.  (If I owned flannel onesie pajamas I can assure you I would be in them for the duration)

This past week had been a can of mixed nuts.  I went through a hard anniversary date, ran a book discussion on Left Neglected, moved up in hours (and title) in my marketing job,  had my heart hurt, completed the Friends Of the Library Annual Meeting, cleaned up my house, took part in a Sign Making Class, cried much, met with the Penguin Publishing rep for the area, connected with authors for Wine and Words, made a hard decision to cancel an event, had lunch in St Paul with the AMAZING Sue Hall (no… that was not meant to rhyme) who was/is my connection to Opus and Olives the event I modeled Wine and Words after, had a positive meeting about one of the magazines I write for,  and returned to my regularly scheduled work out yesterday morning after being out for almost a month.

Yeah.  That’s A WEEK.

So….  today, and well the weekend, the plan is to lay as low as possible and re-energize.  Of course laying low for me does not mean snuggled up in that coveted onesie eating Cheetos and drinking Diet Dr Pepper while watching hour after hour of Netflix or video games….  Damn tempting though…

No.  Alas, to me it it still firing on all cylinders….  just no public involvement.  For example…  I made a list of weekend goals.

Of course this list will fluctuate as the weekend continues.  Already I am thinking…  “Oh, I should add on there that I need to do laundry” and “I need to create a Stride and Seek hand out for next Thursday,” and “I need to fix the mailing address info for Camp B’s GiveMN.”

Yeah.  Sound familiar?

Anyway on a different note… books came in while I was away…


Lovely lovely reading choices….  🙂

How are you spending your weekend?

What Do YOU Say Is A Must Read In A Lifetime?

I love lists…. little check boxes to see where you land…  those ridiculous addicting quizzes on Facebook that tell you what House you are sorted in, that movie star you are most like, or the one that predicts what will happen in 2018 for you… 

silly really.. but still.. occasionally I do them. (insert blush here)

Yesterday I posted Amazon’s 100 Books To Read In A  Lifetime list.  A meme has been made and it going around so you (me, whoever) can check off the ones that we have read on this list.  I liked that – however it made me look at the books that were not on the list that I thought would be.. or should be.

Being me (yes.. still me, I checked this morning 😉 ) I wondered if we… the BIG READERS of our communities would have other suggestions.  What if you or I were asked to say what we thought was a book that we feel should be read in one’s lifetime.  How would our list differ?  Or how would it be the same? 

So… yeah.  Here we go.  I am asking…  because I am curious what we would come up with.  You do not have to be a book blogger to do this.  If you LOVE books, please share a title or two or three of what you would tell someone is “a must read in a lifetime”.  I will compile these responses for a few weeks and then release our top choices.  I know I value my friends and other book reviewers opinions when it comes to books.  I have read many an amazing title or been introduced to a new author that way. 

I for one – would LOVE a list like this.  SO…..let’s do it. 

Please take a couple of minutes to fill out the form below.

100 Books To Read In Your Lifetime

 

 

I was snooping browsing around and found this link to the list of Amazons 100 books to read in a lifetime.  I thought the list looked interesting and being a sucker curious about such things I decided to try this myself.  Thank to Perfectly Tolerable for making this into a meme.

I have marked the ones I have read.

Which have you read?  Which books would you add to this list as must reads in a lifetime?

 

Title Author Read?
1984 George Orwell
A Brief History of Time Stephen Hawking
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Dave Eggers
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier Ishmael Beah  Yes
The Bad Beginning Lemony Snicket
A Wrinkle in Time Madeleine L’Engle
Selected Stories, 1968-1994 Alice Munro
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Lewis Carroll Yes
All the President’s Men Bob Woodward
Angela’s Ashes: A Memoir Frank McCourt  Yes
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. Judy Blume  Yes
Bel Canto Ann Patchett  Yes
Beloved Toni Morrison  Yes
Born to Run Christopher McDougall  Yes
Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat
Catch-22 Joseph Heller
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl Yes
Charlotte’s Web E. B White Yes
Cutting for Stone Abraham Verghese  Yes
Daring Greatly Brené Brown
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney
Dune Frank Herbert
Fahrenheit 451 Ray Bradbury Yes
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Hunter S. Thompson
Gone Girl Gillian Flynn Yes
Goodnight Moon Margaret Wise Brow
Great Expectations Charles Dickens
Guns, Germs, and Steel Jared Diamond Ph.D.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone J.K. Rowling Yes
In Cold Blood Truman Capote  Yes
Interpreter of Maladies Jhumpa Lahiri
Invisible Man Ralph Ellison
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth Chris Ware
Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain  Yes
Life After Life Kate Atkinson Yes
Little House on the Prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder  Yes
Lolita Vladimir Nabokov
Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel Garcia Marquez Yes
Love Medicine Louise Erdrich
Man’s Search for Meaning Viktor E. Frankl
Me Talk Pretty One Day David Sedaris  Yes
Middlesex Jeffrey Eugenides
Midnight’s Children Salman Rushdie
Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game Michael Lewis
Of Human Bondage W. Somerset Maugham
On the Road Jack Kerouac
Out of Africa Isak Dinesen
Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood Marjane Satrapi
Portnoy’s Complaint Philip Roth
Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen
Silent Spring Rachel Carson
Slaughterhouse-Five Kurt Vonnegut
Team of Rivals Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay Michael Chabon
The Autobiography of Malcolm X Malcolm X
The Book Thief Markus Zusak
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao Junot Díaz
The Catcher in the Rye J. D. Salinger
The Color of Water James McBride
The Corrections Jonathan Franzen
The Devil in the White City Erik Larson  Yes
The Diary of a Young Girl Anne Frank Yes
The Fault in Our Stars John Green  Yes
The Giver Lois Lowry  Yes
The Golden Compass Philip Pullman
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Yes
The Handmaid’s Tale Margaret Atwood
The House at Pooh Corner A. Milne
The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins Yes
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Rebecca Skloot  Yes
The Liars’ Club Mary Karr
The Lightning Thief Rick Riordan  Yes
The Little Prince Houghton Mifflin
The Long Goodbye Raymond Chandler
The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 Lawrence Wright
The Lord of the Rings J.R.R. Tolkien Yes
The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat Oliver Sacks
The Omnivore’s Dilemma Michael Pollan
The Phantom Tollbooth Norton Juster
The Poisonwood Bible Barbara Kingsolver
The Power Broker Robert A. Caro
The Right Stuff Tom Wolfe
The Road Cormac McCarthy Yes
The Secret History Donna Tartt
The Shining Stephen King  Yes
The Stranger Albert Camus
The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway
The Things They Carried Tim O’Brien
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Eric Carle
The Wind in the Willows Kenneth Grahame
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle Haruki Murakami
The World According to Garp John Irving
The Year of Magical Thinking Joan Didion
Things Fall Apart Chinua Achebe
To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee Yes
Unbroken Laura Hillenbrand
Valley of the Dolls Jacqueline Susann
Where the Sidewalk Ends Shel Silverstein
Where the Wild Things Are Maurice Sendak

Books & Beans: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova


Books and Beans is a book discussion I host at a local coffee shop once a month.  This is our second month doing this and this mornings discussion (with a great cup of coffee) was with the book Left Neglected by Lisa Genova.

If you have not read Lisa Genova, you are certainly missing out.  Lisa is the author of Still Alice (which was also a movie), and Inside The O’Briens ; both of which I have read, as well as the author of Love Anthony and the soon to be released, Every Note Played.  she is one of those authors that once you have read one of her books, you will more than likely be searching for another.

Today’s discussion was good.  We had a great group of women who were highly engaged in discussing the novel.  Left Neglected, the story of Sarah Nickerson, a highly driven business woman who while trying to squeeze in one more phone call while driving looks away from the road a second too long and her overfilled life suddenly comes to a halt.  When Sarah awakens in the hospital she finds that she has had a traumatic brain injury, one that has left her without the use of the left side of her brain referred to as left neglect.  Sarah finds that her once carefully scheduled to the minute world is now one she must release to the control of others while she struggles to rehabilitate herself in a whole new world.

We touched on some pretty important topics through our discussion.  One of these topics was status and what drives people to the point of feeling they need that acceptance form the outside world to feel complete, useful.  One of the ladies in the room said something that stuck with me.  She said,

Status, relies on other people.

I had never really thought of it like that before.  The discussion continued on that this need of acceptance/approval can stem back to childhood. 

Another one that stuck with me was about the loss of a child. 

Losing a child changes how you view the world.

 

This is also something that hit me.  It’s true… 100%, I just never quite put it into these words.  But yes.. absolutely yes, the world becomes a different place.

We had a wonderful 2 hour discussion on this book and probably could have went longer.  Left Neglected brings much to the table to talk about.  If you have not read Left Neglected, I highly recommend it.

 

Morning Meanderings… I wish I had Book Pics By The Pool

It’s Sunday Morning.  I returned in the very early morning hours this past Friday from 10 glorious days in St Lucia.  It was sun, and fun, food, laughter, tears (of course), and friends.  It took me from running in 26 below weather on January 1st in the Polar dash, to basking in Sunshine and rocking the sunglasses on January 16th:

I read….  oh I read.  I read Interview With The Vampire and Still Me.  Both books I have talked about recently here.  I normally love to show where I read a book, but alas… due to a brain fart by me, I sat my phone in the sand of St Lucia to pose for a picture my friend was taking and the water came up and saltwater soaked it.  Yes…  day 5 of the 10 in St Lucia… I was phone-less… which meant I was camera-less as well.  *insert sigh here*

Turns out…. one can live without their phone.  Who knew?  I was still able to read (HUZZAH!) and bask in the sun (HUZZAH!) and zip line and dune buggy ride and be on a boat and feel sand between my toes. I was able to  eat great food, swim, and play games with the entertainment staff.  Thanks to my friend Wendy, I do have pictures she sent me from her phone.
It is of course, good to be home.  While Minnesota is not exactly sunny these days, and I have no desire to feel snow between my toes…  it is home.  It is comfort, and dogs, cozy blankets, and my library of books at my finger tips.  It is also – trying to create a schedule for myself that is not overwhelming, but exciting – it is new opportunities that astound me as I dreamed it, I hoped it, I prayed it – and now it is coming true larger than I could have imagined, faster than anticipated after a long wait… and now yeah….

but that is a story for another day.

Fellow readers, what are you reading?  Where are you reading?  And what is happening these final days of January 2018?