Sunday, September 25, 2016

Life: It Goes On - September 25

It's officially fall and I'm finally getting into the spirit of it. The seashells and driftwood have been replaced with pumpkins and Indian corn and I seriously considered a pumpkin recipe yesterday.

I just hope fall understands that I really need a spectacular display of all leaves and I need it to stick around clear through November.

It's been a very quiet past nine days around here. I was not feeling 100% much of that time so I hardly left the house. Those who know me will know that I'm okay with that! It does account for the lack of pictures of fun things in this post!

This Week I'm:

Listening To: The Bone Tree - really loving being able to to a read/listen combination for this beastie. I'm enjoying the narrator except for his voice for the lead female character. Would you believe that I just today figured out how to run the audio at 1.5 times? Wish I had figured it out a week ago!

Watching: "Brunch At Bobby's" this morning. I'm fired up to bake some biscuits now! I'm not a huge fan of Flay's personality but his recipes generally make my mouth water and I feel like they are things I could replicate.

Reading: You'll see in my sidebar that I am supposed to be reading The Girl Who Fought Napoleon. I'm not. Because I can't figure out where I put the book. I know it arrived by mail a couple of weeks ago. On today's to-do list is to find that book!

Making: Goulash and pancakes. Not for the same meal. They might be the only two things I actually made this week, thanks to not feeling well.

Planning: I did some furniture rearranging this week, moving some furniture between the guest room and my office. It required some fairly significant reorganizing in my office which has me fired up to continue to do more in there. So that's the plan for this week.

Thinking About: A reorganization and cataloging of my books. I have books in my bedroom, books in my office, books in my family room and books in the basement. Up until I lost that book, I was fairly confident I at least knew what was where but now I'm not so sure.

Enjoying: Time with my parents yesterday. The Big Guy and I went in to help them with some stuff around the house and yard and were rewarded with yummy chicken and noodles, peach cobbler, and love. I wish we could have stayed longer so I could have finished a project I was working on - although my dad might be happy to have me out of his shop!

Feeling: Lighter, thanks to a hair cut this morning! Miss H's friend was in town so stopped in to make us beautiful.

Looking forward to: Another quiet week with the energy to actually accomplish something!

Question of the week: What is your favorite brunch food?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lit: Uniquely Portable Magic

Here's what happens when you finally really and truly clean up your email: you find some interesting links that have gotten buried under all of the newer stuff.

The Big Guy found this link for me about quotes attributed to Mark Twain.  Did he say it? Did he say it that way? It seems like so many other things we read on the internet, like as not the Mark Twain "quotes" we read are wrong.

From my uncle comes this link highlighting books about women in science. Which ties in right in with the book Hidden Figures, a book on tour with TLC Book Tours this month about the women mathematicians of NASA. You may also have noticed that that book has been made into a movie coming out soon with an all-star cast including Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Butler, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, and Jim Parsons. Love seeing the accomplishment of women in math and science recognized. I only wish our school systems would do a better job of convincing our smart girls that these are fields they can excel in.

Also brought to my attention by BG is this list of the 100 Best Novels: From Bunyan's Pilgrim to Carey's Ned Kelly he found through Flipboard in The Guardian. It's a year old. So, yeah, I haven't really completely cleared out my mailbox in a while but it's mostly classics and the list took two years to build so I don't there'd be many changes if it came out now.

If you're already putting together your list of books to read for Nonfiction November, you might want to check out Buzzfeeds 19 Best Nonfiction Books of 2015 to see what you missed from last year.  Another link passed to me from BG. He may not read as much as I do, but he's good about feeding the beast!

One last thing - last week I reviewed Greg Iles' Natchez Burning. If you were interested in learning more about the book and Iles' inspiration, here are some links for you to check out:

Reading Guide
Greg Iles talks about writing about the South in his new novel (YouTube) 
Greg Iles Introduces Natchez Burning (YouTube)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Yard by Aliyyah Eniath

The Yard by Aliyyah Eniath
Published: April 2016 by Speaking Tigers Books
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours
             in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:
A story of love and redemption, set in Trinidad, that exposes the fault lines in Indo-Muslim culture. Behrooz is brought to a familial complex, The Yard, to live with a devout and extended family, where he struggles to belong. He forms a childish alliance with Maya, a wilful and rebellious girl, and his guardian’s daughter. After they share a night of adolescent tenderness, Maya, fearing retribution, flees to London. Behrooz painstakingly rebuilds his life and marries another. When tragedy strikes, Maya returns to her childhood home. There, she and Behrooz must face up to old demons. Can their love endure? Even after Maya is dealt the most righteous blow of all?

My Thoughts:
The story of the family of an immigrant's descendent's, an opportunity to learn something about the Muslim religion, and the chance to visit a setting I've never visited before were all big selling points when I was pitched this book.

My mother-in-law once visited Trinidad and Tobago and the chance to learn more about that country she enjoyed so much might have been the biggest selling point for me. By and large, though, the setting could have been almost any where. Entail does spend some time talking about the history of the native peoples on the islands and the history of indentured servants there, but, in the present day, there is very little sense of this book being set in a specific place.

Some of that might have had to do with the fact that the book is almost entirely set in The Yard, a compound of houses built by that original immigrant for his family. It was partly a symbol that he had made a success of his life but also a way to insulate his family and keep them together. For some, including Maya, it became something of a prison. But, here again, I didn't get what I was expecting from the book. Eniath does include several scenes of the family coming together for celebrations, there is some discussion about the different ways the Muslim faith is practiced (or not) amongst the family, and we see some of the interactions between the family members. But, for me, beyond Maya's immediate family, most of the family felt almost like stick figures to me. In fact, late in the book, Maya has entirely stopped trying to remember the children's names and who they belong to; I felt much the same way throughout. I wanted more about that family dynamic.

Eniath's focus is the relationship between Maya and Behrooz - The Yard  is, at its heart, a love story Maybe because I could never connect to any of the characters, particularly to Maya, I never got invested in their story. I couldn't understand why Behrooz fell so deeply in love with a girl who did so many things that repulsed him from the beginning and, without that sense of a deep unbreakable bond, I could never understand why he was so devastated when she left and why he wasn't able to move on without her. Without that connection to those two characters, it was hard for me to connect to the book.

There were places in the book where I felt like the whole might have been much tighter had things been edited differently; just the rearranging of some of the elements of the book would have made a difference. The frustrating thing, I think, is that the book is largely based on Eniath's own history, something she obviously wanted to teach others to understand and love. I really wanted to like it more, knowing that.

For other opinions, please check out the full TLC Book Tour.  Thanks to the ladies at TLC for including me on the tour.

Aliyyah Eniath was born in Trinidad and Tobago; her ancestors hailed from Uttar Pradesh, India. She’s a director at Safari Publications, a magazine publishing house, and founder/editor-in- chief of Belle Weddings (Caribbean) magazine. Her debut novel The Yard (literary, romance) is published by Speaking Tiger Books in both paperback and ebook formats. She explores the ideas of breaking free from imposed boundaries (familial or otherwise), understanding and feeling supported in who you are, overcoming self-doubt, and finally being true to yourself. Her writing looks at strict religious ideologies and their potential consequences and begs for a softer approach and innate understanding and compassion towards every human being. She writes from the perspective of East Indians whose forefathers were brought to Trinidad from India through the British colonial indentureship scheme in 1845.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Life: It Goes On - September 18

Well, I've finally had to acknowledge that it's fall, even though, officially, it isn't yet. It got chilly enough this week that I had to switch to a warmer bed covering. It was that or put on warmer jammies or turn off the ceiling fan and I'm not ready to do either of those things yet. We spent most of the week under grey skies with a lot of rain and even had the tornado sirens go off one day but Friday evening it was finally sunny and dry and I spent two hours on the patio.

I jumped in on Bloggiesta since I had a largely quiet  weekend and have really gotten a lot done including tweaking the look of the blog just a big. Ever since I last made changes, I've been struggling with the size of the print. It actually took Bloggiesta for me to remember that I could just change the size of the font. Duh.

This Week I'm:

Listening To: As I mentioned the other day, I've switched over the The Bone Tree which I've downloaded to my phone. Pretty excited to finally be able to do an audiobook outside of the confines of my car!

Watching: Mostly football, I think. Nothing else I've watched this week even sticks in my head.

Reading: Finishing up The Yard for a TLC Book Tour this week then in print (and by print, I mean on my Nook), I'll be reading A Month In The Country by J. L. Carr, as recommended to my by Liberty Hardy, with a group on Litsy. After I finish it, I need to track down the movie adaptation which starts Kenneth Branagh, Natasha Richardson, and Colin Firth.

Making: Me? I think I've made nothing all week. The Big Guy has done what cooking's been done. Unless you count the sauce I made for cocktail weinies Miss H took to work.

Planning: On working with Mini-him today to finish sorting through the stuff he still has here. I don't mind storing stuff the kids will need/use/want someday but I don't want to work around stuff no one is ever going to want again.

Thinking About: Pulling out the fall decor today. Seashells and driftwood just aren't cutting it any more. 

Enjoying: Seeing Geraldine Brooks speak the other night with a couple of friends. Great speaker and always fun to spend extra time with friends.

Feeling: Excited for Miss H who started back to college last week and Monday will start a new job.

Looking forward to: Seeing The Light Between Oceans with the Omaha Bookworms this week. We're doing that instead of reading a book this month.

Question of the week: What is your favorite thing about autumn - leaves changing colors, pulling out your sweaters, pumpkin spice latte, apple harvest?

Friday, September 16, 2016

Bloggiesta - Fall 2016

I really hadn't intended on joining in Bloggiesta this weekend. In fact, I've been so bad about keeping up with my blog reader that I wasn't even aware it was coming up until a couple of days ago. But some changes in my schedule this weekend have resulted in some free time I wasn't planning on and because I'm feeling that guilt about being behind, I decided to join in the fun. I may be using that term loosely. I'm not sure I'll have a lot of time for the fun aspects; I'm more likely to be doing what I always do during Bloggiesta and getting things caught up. So here's the list of things I'll be working on - which probably looks pretty much like my list from this spring!

1. Empty my blog reader.

2. Respond to all comments from September and all Sunday post comments from August.

3. Clean up my email.

4. Make sure my blogging calendar is up to date.

5. Work on tags - I wish I could remember where I'd gotten with this project during the last Bloggiesta!

6. Check out mini-challenges.

7. Prep 3-4 posts.

8. Clean up the look of the blog.

Chances are I won't get to most of these, between football, friends, family, housework and reading. But it's a nice dream!

Thanks to not feeling 100%, I stayed home all weekend which gave me a lot of time to Bloggiesta and I did get everything done that I'd hoped to get done. There is still work to be done on the tags, although I have gotten rid of all of the tags I don't want to use any more. Now it's a matter of going through over 1600 posts to make sure everything has the tags it should have. But that's for another Bloggiesta!