Meet the New Piggy! (And book #11)

dscn2154Here’s the newest addition to our hoard of pets: Mable, the guinea pig. She became Beatrice’s cagemate several days ago. The introduction was rocky at first. There was some rumble-strutting (I had never, ever heard of this before), there was a bit of bickering, there was some fighting, but the ladies have settled into a slightly more peaceful existence. I think the cohabitation just might work!

DSCN2137.JPGHere’s a photo of Mable and Beatrice chilling in their cage with the cutesy new liner that middle daughter (and the guinea pig fan) picked out for them. They’re just so stinkin’ cute!

And did you know they can purr?!

But enough about guinea pigs.

Finish #11 for 2017 is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. What a good book! I’m definitely going to have to check out more books by this author. I didn’t realize when I first picked up this one that I had actually read a book by her in the past. I recall enjoying that one, also. It was called What Alice Forgot. (Not to be confused with Still Alice by another author which I did NOT enjoy. Strangely they were both about Alices who forgot stuff. It’s no wonder I got them confused.)

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Tidying, Cleaning, Weeding out, OH MY!

DSCN2172.JPGMy poor, poor family! I never should have checked this book out of the library. Finish #10 for 2017 was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing). I had heard good things about this book. So many people were raving about it when it was first published. I can see why. After just the first few pages I was fired up and ready to get my house sparking with joy!  (Well, I was at least ready to determine exactly which of my possessions sparks joy within me.)

The problem with books like these is that they don’t take into account the fact that many of us live with OTHER people. We can’t just have things around that spark joy for us. We’ve got to make room for what sparks joy in others. With five people in our home, that’s four people’s stuff surrounding ME that might not bring me any joy at all. (Of course, if it brings my husband or kids joy, then it should bring me joy also because I want them to be happy.)

So, back to being fired up…I don’t know if it was just this book or if it could have had something to do with the fact that the sun was FINALLY shining after months of gloomy days and I could actually SEE the dust and mess that had accumulated during those gray days, but I was certainly ready to get the spring cleaning under way.

I started with the books. Call me a rebel. She told readers to start with clothes. Now that I’m nearly done with the books, I’m looking for my next area to dig into. I’m feeling more joyful already. (And the house is breathing a sigh of relief that some of the dusty tomes are bagged up for Goodwill, have become kindling as was the case with some ancient, falling apart Little House on the Prairie books, or are waiting for a buyer on eBay.)

I certainly won’t take this tidying and eliminating as far as one of the author’s clients who was quoted in the book as stating that she even got rid of her husband! I’m not certain the author should have used this woman’s testimony in her book.

 

 

Luna dog: A mystery no longer (and another book for 2017)

dscn2176Luna, the dog who should be an internet sensation but isn’t, has learned her heritage! It only took us about three and a half years to buy a DNA test kit and send it in. Then began the long 3 weeks or so of waiting for the results to be reported. Now, whenever anyone asks us what breed she is, we have an answer…

She’s pretty much a mutt! There’s a bit of German Shepherd, some Labrador Retriever, a smattering of Rottweiler, husky (no mystery there), Samoyed, and (strangely) Chow.

Chow? She looks absolutely nothing like a Chow.

Appearances can be deceiving, apparently.

Just like you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.

See what I did there? Nice segue, don’t you think?

In this case, though, the cover adequately represented what was inside the book, so I could, indeed, judge a book by it’s cover. (I do this frequently. I’m not ashamed to admit it.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, this was another Susan Elizabeth Phillips book. Don’t worry. There won’t be too many more. I’m running out of what our library has to offer by this author. First Star I See Tonight was finish #9 for 2017. It was a delightful tale involving a female PI, a Super Bowl hero (fitting for the month of February, what with the Super Bowl being played earlier this month), a Middle Eastern prince, an old lady who thinks her dead husband is still alive, and a few other interesting characters.

One Guinea Pig Might Not Be Enough

Years ago we had a children’s book titled One Guinea Pig is Not Enough. Sadly, I sold it when we were clearing out a hoard of children’s books a few years back. I’m wishing now that I’d saved that one. Reading that book to middle daughter when she was an impressionable toddler must have planted the seeds for her current obsession. It seems that one guinea pig is not enough for her. Shortly after Beatrice came to live with us, middle daughter began (if she ever stopped) checking out the rescue sight for a second furry rodent.

This Sunday we’ll be introducing Beatrice to a friend. We are crossing our fingers that all goes well and they can happily co-exist in the same cage. We’ve been informed (by the rescue folks who know Beatrice) that Beatrice has a bit of a dominant personality, which, in so many words, translates to “might not play well with others.”

Humph. No one likes to be told that about their guinea pig!

DSCN2084.JPGThere’s Beatrice with finish #8 for 2017, Ain’t She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. Yes, that’s my second book by her this year. Guess what? I’m reading another by her right now!

Ain’t she sweet? is what we’d say about Beatrice, not this “dominant personality” business! (Well, most of us would say that. Son would say quite the opposite. He’s not a fan of sweet little Beatrice. I think it might have something to do with the fact that middle daughter hassles him with talk of guinea pigs morning, noon, and night. Well, at least noon and night. He’s a bit of a late sleeper!)

As with all previous Susan Elizabeth Phillips books, I really enjoyed Ain’t She Sweet, the story of a previously stuck-up southern belle who returns to her hometown and experiences some difficulty making amends with all the people she hurt as a teenager.

I’ll attempt to resist the pull of Phillips’ books when I next go to the library. I might not be able to do so, though! Her books are quite a delightful read.

Oh. My. Gosh. Fault in our Stars 2.0

dscn2072My daughters won’t be clamoring to read this one. Finish #7 for the year is First Love by James Patterson and Emily Raymond. Do you know why my daughters won’t be clamoring to read this one? It’s because this book is The Fault in Our Stars 2.0 without any improvements on the original. No one in this family who read Fault in Our Stars has anything at all positive to say about the book. We are, quite frankly, baffled and perplexed by how popular it was!

Let’s go through a little comparison checklist between the two books, shall we?

Boy with cancer – check

Girl with cancer/previously with cancer – check

Road trip/plane trip – check

Meeting with an author – check

The word metaphor used in the book – check

Boy and girl engage in adult activity (which middle daughter doesn’t think I should include in this comparison, because apparently this is a common thing in teen books…perhaps I should be looking into the books she’s reading? I don’t recall teen books being so “racy” when I was a kid.)

Shortly after which…

Boy dies – check and check (and sorry for the spoiler if you haven’t read either one.)

Only thing missing…a scene where Hazel (Fault in Our Stars reference here) lets a little girl put her breathing tube thingies in her nose.Eww.

Now, I’m not making light of cancer or teenagers with cancer, but come on…two far-fetched plots revolving around teens with cancer that were published in the same decade with so many similarities…It’s just too much!

This might be the first James Patterson book I’ve read. It might also be the last.

 

 

The Winter of Our Discontent

DSCN2069.JPGThe fact that it is still winter leaves me feeling a bit discontented. The fact that Finish #6, The Winter of our Discontent by John Steinbeck, had really nothing to do with winter left me perplexed. But then I thought a little deeper (something I’ve tried not to do since AP English in high school left me with a great distaste for analyzing literature) and surmised that “winter” might just be symbolic of something…perhaps the state of one’s life or one’s soul, and so the title began to make sense. There were a number of wintery, discontented souls in this book, which, coupled with the gloomy, rainy, snowy, sunless winter season up here, left me feeling a bit more morose than usual for this time of year!

Grapes of Wrath was one of the few classics that I enjoyed in high school. I have also read Of Mice and Men and The Moon is Down. I enjoyed those three by Steinbeck more than The Winter of Our Discontent. I think my issue with this book was that I didn’t care for the characters. Mary Hawley, the wife of the main character, was embarrassed by her husband’s status in the community as simply a shop employee. Ethan Hawley, the main character, ponders and plans a bank robbery and a suicide, both of which do not occur. Allen Hawley, the son, plagiarizes historical writings and wins a contest. His “win” is later revoked when the plagiarizing becomes known. Ellen Hawley, the daughter, just seems strange. Margie Young-Hunt comes across as the town tramp. The banker, Mr. Baker, acts as if the Hawley money belongs to him personally. And there’s not much good that can be said of any of the minor characters either. However, despite my dislike of the characters, they were memorable.

I’ve got to admit, I feel slightly more intelligent whenever I read a classic. Whether I am actually more intelligent…who knows. I do know one thing. It is nice to read a book that doesn’t follow a formula. Sure, it’s nice to know when reading a romantic novel that the formula will be the following: Guy and girl meet. They fall in love. They have some sort of conflict where they appear to fall out of love but are still pining away for each other. They get back together. Happily Ever After…

Of course there’s another romantic novel formula: Guy and girl meet. They fall in love. One of them dies. (Jane Green, Nicolas Sparks…thanks so much for shaking things up, I say with great sarcasm.)

With a classic, you just never know where it’s going to go and where the characters are going to end up.