Book Nook · Random

Unfinished

At the beginning of 2016, I set of a goal of reading 12 books – one a month.  I am a big fan of reading but I don’t always have the time to read the kind of things I actually want to read.  I figured one a month shouldn’t be too incredible hard.  Well, here we are halfway through November and here I am on book #8.  A lot has happened this year – a pregnancy, a miscarriage, a ridiculous amount of stress, tons of projects and things to get done around the house and at work… you get the idea.  There were plenty of times I would’ve liked to sit down and read a book but I didn’t have the energy to keep my eyes open.  I guess my reading challenge will be left unfinished…

The book I just completed is called “Dear Thing” by Julie Cohen.  It’s about an infertile couple that wants nothing more than to have a baby.  A friend ends up offering to be their surrogate.  Although the wife is excited about becoming a mother, she’s jealous of the surrogate being able to provide what should could not.  In the end, both women are desperately in love with this unborn child.  Obviously, I could relate to the infertile woman but I could also relate to the surrogate – I know what it feels like to have a baby growing inside and then feeling the emptiness when it’s gone.

I love books that can conjure up emotions, I want a good story, but I want to feel something.  Some people don’t like to read fiction because it’s usually all happy endings.  I love what the author said “if a happy ending is hard-won, if it comes out of depth of emotion and it isn’t predictive, it’s hugely satisfying.  Life is hard.  I see nothing wrong in reading to feel better”.  I wholeheartedly agree.

Another good read, “What Was Mine” by Helen Ross.  This one is about an infertile woman who finds a baby in a shopping cart all alone.  She tells herself that she’s just going to take the baby to the front of the store for help in locating the parent.  Ultimately, she ends up kidnapping the baby and raising her for more than twenty years, all the while, telling herself she saved the baby from someone who just didn’t care enough.

As the years went by and our childlessness continued, I tortured myself with how many images the word “barren” could conjure:  A dried-up fruit burned brown by the sun.  A frozen tundra.  A dust bowl or desert where nothing can grow.

I’m not torturing myself.  Often times, my husband will catch me crying while I’m reading and he’s always like ‘really?  it’s just a book’ but I find it to be very cathartic.  It’s hard to put into words how I feel sometimes and it’s nice to be able to relate to someone, albeit a fictional character, who has had a similar experience.  Just about everyone I know has been extremely supportive with everything I’ve been through this year and it’s greatly appreciated.  But, they can’t make me okay.  There’s nothing anyone can say or do because I have to do it myself.  I have to continue to pick myself up and keep moving forward with living my life.

So, while my reading challenge goal will probably be left unfinished, the good news is that I’m not done trying and I’m not ready to give up.  I’m still unfinished…

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Dancing on Broken Glass

I cannot begin to describe the emotions I felt while reading this book…

dancingMeet Lucy – her father, a police officer died in the line of duty when she was only five.  At 16, her mother passed away of cancer.  On her 21st birthday she met Mickey.  Both Lucy & Mickey have struggles and both have to be strong to overcome them.  In the years they’ve been together Lucy has battled and beat cancer and Mickey continues to battle with his bipolar disorder.  No matter how difficult it is, they are determined they can fight it together.  However, they decide with their issues that having a child would not be in their best interest so Lucy gets her tubes tied.  When Lucy becomes pregnant their plan goes haywire.  Just as they become comfortable with the idea of having a baby, Lucy is diagnosed with lung cancer.  The doctors tell her that she may not survive and encourage her to have an abortion, including Mickey.  Lucy can’t fathom losing her miracle baby but her sisters and all those close to her can’t stand the thought of losing her, especially Mickey.

Characters are onions. The most interesting ones reveal themselves layer by layer right down to their naked core.

While reading this book I was in awe of Lucy’s strength and determination.  I empathized with Mickey and the doubt in his ability to raise a daughter with his condition and without Lucy.   I could feel the love Lucy & Mickey have for each other and the love and support of those around them.  By the time I finished reading this book I was a mess, tears streaming down my face.  Even after it was done, I found myself crying a little for myself and the tough decisions that life has thrown at us.

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Can I Get An Amen?

So I’m strolling through Barnes & Noble looking for some good quick reads and I notice this one – the cover immediately got my attention.

Ellen Carlisle has found herself infertile, unemployed, divorced and living at home with her parents at 31.   Her ‘crazy Christian’ mother thinks all she has to do is pray and go to church to make it all better.  Her mother wants them to appear to be the epitome of a Christian family, but with a divorced daughter living at home, a gay son, a strained relationship with her other daughter and secrets of her own it’s hard keeping up appearances.  Although Ellen’s family is quite different from mine, I was able to relate.

When the last thing you want is the one thing you need, you’ve got to have a little faith….

After several years of trying to conceive, my husband and I recently found out that although not impossible, our only good option is IVF.  For the longest time I just didn’t want to know if there was a problem.  I kept telling myself “God knows what I can handle”.  In the story, Ellen’s husband ends up leaving her because she is infertile and he was not open to adoption.  I despised this character – what happened to ‘for better or worse’?  I am very fortunate that I married a man who I can count on.  Sure, we have our issues and it’s been a rocky road at times, but we are in this together for the long haul.

“…it’s after you think the dust has settled that life really gets to have its way with you.”

While discussing our disconcerting news with a close friend, I commented that I wondered if we would’ve had better luck at conceiving had we started earlier and she said something that I think rings true.  She basically said that there was a reason we found out now, that we had to live through some stuff and get to this point in order for us to handle it.  I feel the character in the book is the same way.  Ellen wasn’t looking to find love and definitely not where she found it.  She had to live through the tragedy of divorce and everything else to get to the place in her life where she could see things differently.

Being raised Catholic, I sometimes struggle with who I really am and what I believe.  Of course I believe in God and always have.  I like the reverence and tradition of mass in the Catholic church, but I always feel like a relationship with God is more personal.  I don’t think that you have to go to church every Sunday to be a good Christian.  In fact, I don’t think you have to be a Christian to be a good person and being a good person is much more important than what religion you practice.

“And though I still don’t know what I am, or how to define my beliefs, I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I am blessed.”

Some of the story was predictable but there were a few surprises too.  I was both entertained and amused.  I look forward to seeing what else Sarah Healy has to offer.

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Change of Heart

Wow… I just finished another great book by  Jodi Picoult.  This is like the eighth or ninth book of hers that I’ve read and it was one of my favorites, an excellent thought-provoking read.  In Change of Heart, we meet Shay Bourne – a man on death row for murdering June Nealon’s husband, a police officer, and her seven year old, Elizabeth.  Eleven years after the murders, Shay finds out that June’s daughter Claire is in need of a heart transplant to survive.  He decides that he wants to donate his heart to her as a last chance for salvation.  And unexpectedly, Shay has some allies on his side – his attorney Maggie and a Catholic priest, Father Michael (who just happens to be one of the jurors that sentenced Shay to death).  Soon some unexplainable things happen causing everyone to question their beliefs and wonder if Shay is more than what he seems – are they miracles or hoaxes?  June struggles with wanting to save her daughter’s life and not wanting to give Shay the satisfaction of accepting his offer.  How could she give her daughter the heart of her own father’s murderer?   How could she not?

Would you want your dreams to come true if it meant granting you enemy’s dying wish?

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Skipping A Beat

This is my second book by Sarah Pekkanen and it proved to be just as good as the first (Opposite of Me).  Thirty-something Julia is living the good life.  Married to her high school sweetheart, running a successful party planning business, Julia is living the dream – or so you’d think.  Life isn’t as perfect as it may seem.  In a split second Julia’s carefully constructed world begins to fall apart.  Her husband Michael goes into cardiac arrest and is dead for about four minutes before coming back to life.  In those lost minutes, Michael becomes a different person – he starts to view life with a new perspective.  Now Julia has to decide if she’s going to find her way back to her true love or leave the new Michael.  I loved the characters and enjoyed the story about marriage, money & betrayal.  I’m looking forward to reading more from Sarah Pekkanen.

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The Blue Bistro

The best part about this book by Elin Hilderbrand is the description of all the wonderful food!  Adrienne lives kind of like a gypsy, traveling around the world, working at various hotels and resorts.  She finds herself on Nantucket working at the most popular restaurant called the Blue Bistro.  Adrienne is intrigued by the owners Thatcher Smith and Fiona Kemp.  Thatcher hired her as his right hand without any restaurant experience and Fiona is quite obscure – she’s nationally known but refused to do interviews and rarely comes out of the kitchen.  Quickly, Adrienne becomes part of this exciting atmosphere and she’s not looking forward to the final closing of the restaurant at the end of the summer.   With wonderfully developed characters and an interesting story, I could not stop reading this book.  I’ve read several other books by Elin, but this is by far my favorite.

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Opposite of Me

This is the first novel by Sarah Pekkenan; I can’t tell you what made me pick it up, but I think it was great.  Lindsey & Alex are twins, but complete opposites.  Alex is the beautiful one that everyone adores and Lindsey is the smart, successful workaholic.  Lindsey has always tried to set herself apart from Alex, but one mistake brings her carefully constructed life to a screeching halt.  She tries to put the pieces back together while her sister plans her dream wedding.  In the end, the sisters realize who they really are is different from who they thought they were meant to be – and, they really aren’t that different.  This wonderful story about women, family and relationships.  It made me laugh and I had a hard time putting it down.  I would definitely recommend it!