Thursday, January 30, 2014

Bon's Bookclub: The Husband's Secret

Today, for lack of anything better to do with my time, I'm linking up with Bonnie at The Life of Bon for her book club discussion. I read this back in December and not to put too fine a point on it- I didn't like it.

However, it's sort of a thinker, and I really like Bonnie's blog, and I want to link up, so here we go.  As far as I can tell, there's no rule that says you have to LIKE the book to participate. Right?  This can also count as my book review. Two birds, one stone.

The Husband's Secret, by Liane Moriarty. Cool last name!!

For some reason, I always feel compelled to explain WHY I pick the books I pick.  For this one, Hollywood Housewife mentioned it, and I'd seen it in a few bookstore windows and the UK cover is cool. And I sort of assumed that he had a secret family. I am OBSESSED with husband's who have secret families. Did you ever see that Criminal Intent with Ben and his secret other family? It's just WEIRD. And fascinating. So I wanted to read it. 

From the back of the book: (uk version) Mother of three and wife of John-Paul, Cecilia discovers an old envelope in the attic. Written in her husband's hand, it says: to be opened only in the event of my death.
Curious, she opens it - and time stops.
John-Paul's letter confesses to a terrible mistake which, if revealed, would wreck their family as well as the lives of others.
Cecilia - betrayed, angry and distraught - wants to do the right thing, but right for who? If she protects her family by staying silent, the truth will worm through her heart. But if she reveals her husband's secret, she will hurt those she loves most . . .

And because the us version is so different (sort of): Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .
Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

See how you might think it was a secret family? If you were obsessed with that?


It's not a secret family. He killed a girl when they were in high school. You figure that out like five minutes into the story, and about five minutes after that, you realize he didn't actually MURDER her, something weird has happened and she just sort of died. If that makes sense. Which it does by the end, but no one ever knows.

I thought it was just lame. Is it just me? Did everyone else love it? First of all, I think the name John Paul is stupid. Either go by John, or Paul. Daisy June sounds cool, that's why I call her that. John Paul sounds stupid.

I also hate relating to the uptight suburban housewife (cough Allison on Orphan Black cough) and I always ALWAYS do. Except I obviously do no keep my house clean.

I did like the Rachel story. She seemed very REAL to me. Like, that's how you would be. That's how you would think and feel and just BE.

Okay. Now for Bonnie's discussion.
+ The book is told from the viewpoint of three women.  Which women did you like the most and why?  Whom did you dislike the most and why?

Well I didn't dislike any of them, really. I thought Rachel was hilarious,  the way she was about her daughter in law, and I liked her transformation the most, how she finally decided to get her passport and go to New York, how she opened her eyes about her poor son.

Hmm.  I intended to say that Tess was the one I liked the most, but look at that, it's turned into Rachel.  Who knew?

Cecelia also holds a place close to my heart, for the quote about the German boy running ice on her throat and how she thought it was so sexy back then, but looking back it just seems unhygienic and sticky.  I actually burst out laughing when she said that.

+ What would you have done if you had found out the secret that Celia did?  Did you agree with the way she handled it?  What is the "right" thing to do in a situation like that?

Now obviously, you're supposed to say that you would turn him in.  He's a murdered, right? Except of course, he ISN'T, not really, and I'd like to think Cecelia would have assumed that. She loved this man, she slept with him every night, she washed his dirty undies, he helped her to the bathroom for the first time after she gave birth and you KNOW that's at pretty fucking intimate situation.  Why didn't she just KNOW that there'd been a horrible misunderstanding?!?!

So if I'd found this letter by Nick, I couldn't turn him in.  No way. First of all, I need him to take care of my kids. Second of all, I would NEVER believe that he could murder someone. Ever. I'd like to think I'd have the sense to at least TRY to get to the bottom of it.

That being said, I would probably have reacted the same as Cecelia, the way it ruined her life. Things like that get to me, secrets in general, that horrible feeling of guilt and anxiety- I wouldn't handle it well. I certainly would have moved out of town, you can be damn sure about that.

I can't see the 'right' answer in this situation, and I think that's why I didn't like this book. Remember in HP when Sirius (or was it Remus? I think it was Sirius) says you can't divide the world into good people and Death Eaters? You can have Death Eaters doing good things, and you can have crap people who AREN'T Death Eaters.

Well, I don't like that. I like black and white, I like answers.  I don't know.  This book, man, I tell ya what.

+ What was the point of the side story with Tess?  Do you excuse the way she acted during that week because of the uncertainty in her marriage?

What WAS the point of the side story with Tess?!?! I kept waiting for it to tie in, and it never did!! And that was my favorite story!!

I do excuse the way she acted, but I do NOT excuse her getting back with her lame husband.  GROSS. Granted, I'm not a child of divorce, so I can't really relate to her obsession with her son not growing up with divorced parents, but come ON.  How could she live with herself, going back with him? Gross gross gross.

I loved her mama. LOVED. And I loved how she was SO nervous in social situations (HELLO ME) and how uncomfortable she was around Cecelia at first, and then you get Cecelia's side and Cecelia think's she's all sophisticated and cool and impressive.

Think anyone thinks that about me? No? Anyone? Bueller?

+ Do you believe the bike accident was adequate "penance" for what John Paul had done?

This might be controversial...but I DO think the accident was adequate penance.  Except I think that kid should have died.  I'm sorry!!! But I do. You get RUN OVER by a car, you die.  Right?!?! I don't know. But then I guess since he didn't actually kill her, maybe it's enough that she lost her arm. I don't know.  But Rachel seemed satisfied, and that's enough for me.

+ Did you like the resolution of the book?  Did you feel there was enough closure?

ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOT. I hated the end. I hated the whole book.  Sort of. It was just a horrible situation. I hated the situation. The book was all right, although I think it's a little much to swallow that no one questioned how she died. I guess maybe if he'd confessed and said "dude, I BARELY touched her, it was REALLY weird" then maybe they would have looked deeper? Who knows. But no, I hated the ending. This from the only person on the planet who liked the end of Gone Girl.

I did like Rachel's ending, as I've already said. But that was the only one.

Well, Cecelia seemed to get some closure too.

Ugh.  I guess the fact that it's been nearly two months and I'm STILL thinking about this book must say something, right? Maybe I didn't hate it as much as I think?

And, although I keep bitching about it...I just picked up What Alice Forgot at the library. Oy. At least Hollywood Housewife said she loved that one so much more? It's up as soon as I finish Book of Secrets, which I both love and am terrified of.  Double oy.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Five Favorites: Daisy June Edition

Today, number four turns three.

My last baby.  She's three.  Everyone else, by the time he or she was three, there was another baby. Not even a baby, a ONE YEAR OLD. Sometimes, it blows my mind how fast we had these babies of ours.

But since Daisy is my baby- my BABY- she'll probably always be my baby, no? I treat her like a baby. I rock her and snuggle her and carry her all the time. Whereas with the rest of them, I woulda told them to take a hike when they asked to be picked up. Because I had an actual baby. Ugh. Did I do them a disservice, having them all back to back like this?

Who knows. It doesn't even matter, after all, what's done is done.

So today, I celebrate my baby.  Our very last THIRD BIRTHDAY. I fed her the last bottle I'll ever have to mix, I held her wiggly hiney down to snap the last diaper I'll ever have to change in place, when she outgrows her clothes, I toss them or give them to goodwill, no need to save them to hand down. Her ears were the last I'll watch get pierced. Her squeaky voice is the last time someone new will ever squeal MAMA for the first time.

I realize that I may one day have to make a bottle for a friend's baby, or change another woman's child's diaper. I'm not an idiot. But that will be DIFFERENT.

Daisy June was the last soul to grow in my own body. Her kicks were the last I'll ever feel from the inside. Laying in bed, uncomfortable and out of breath, but changing my mind even as I felt it happen, I'd wanted for so long to go into labor early, get this baby OUT, but even as I felt my water break, I changed my mind. I wanted her to stay inside, with me, just me, because she was the last and I knew it.

But she wasn't waiting. Obviously. If you've ever met Daisy, she doesn't wait. "There's a girl who  knows what she wants."

I'm her mama, so I think she's smarter than any other three year old out there, but seriously, she sort of is. You can just SEE things clicking behind those eyes. She takes after Scott so much it scares me, but she seems happier, not as troubled, she can express herself better than he ever could. So here's hoping.

All the other kids were in daycare by three (cough TWO cough) but I'm not in any rush with her. She could go on base where Warren went three mornings a week, but I'm waiting until next September to put her in the free program at school.  Five days a week, three hours a day. Even that seems too much, but by then I'll hopefully have convinced myself that she needs to learn to interact with other people. She needs to see that there are more than just the five of us in the world.

But does she really? Probably not.

So for my Five Favorites, here are five pictures of Daisy. Out of twenty thousand (I'm exaggerating. A little) pictures I've taken of this gorgeous full lipped girl over the last 1096 days (surely there was a Leap Year in there?) here are five that made the cut. And by made the cut, I mean when I opened the folders to randomly trap one, this is what I got.

1. Granted, this is more of a shot of Dub, but whatever. It's heart stopping when your baby meets the new baby. It broke my heart when I did it to Ava, it terrified me when I did it to Scott, but Warren? I knew I didn't have anything to worry about with that kid. He loved her from the first. January 29, 2011.

2. He left when she was barely three months old and got back after she was eight. Months, not years. Obviously. This is the look she gave when while they were getting reacquainted. I'd love to see it from the front. Sept 2011.

3. By the time we hit the Big Island in May of 2012, she'd perfected the Daisy Cheese Face.

4. Her eyes are gorgeous. Her lips are perfect. This was right before she started pulling her hair out, so she's got hair in this one. I love her. June 2013.

5. December 2013. It just gets better and better. I know this isn't in focus, but I love it. I love her tiny little nose and her big full lips and her shining eyes and her soft skin and the little bit of hair and how funny she is, and how nice she is to Scott and how she LAUGHS with Warren, and how she looks up to Ava like it's her job- I love this baby.

Linking up with Moxie Wife!!

Her words (which I think are just hilarious): Do you have a blog? Do you sometimes like things? And do you want to share those things with all your friends? Yes, yes, and yes? Well, then I think it would be positively peachy keen if you'd join us for this week's edition of Five Favorites!

Do you sometimes like things? That gives me the giggles every time. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

Last week, despite Nick being gone for three days, was pretty rad for the ole food department.  Angela and I are still trying to get into the rhythm for the A&J Tackle DALS challenge, but I think we're finally settling into it. Or at least I am. Angela? Anyway, so I'm ambitiously putting about three dinners a week on the plan, but so far I've never made more than two. Best laid plans, right?

Monday: Lazy Bolognese, from the book and part of the Challenge. I'm not gonna lie, while I was making this (while watching Conan on the iPad, MAN I forgot how much I love that man!!) I was thinking this is dumb, this is just another spaghetti and meat sauce, lame and boring but we all love it, so hooray. But then when I plated it up, it was REALLY good!! I dunno, maybe the fennel seeds added something? Maybe the fact that I was laughing so hard I was crying (from the Conan, duh) infused the recipe with magical unicorn rainbow beams of goodness? I don't know. I meant to freeze half of it, but then I dumped all the noodles into the pot without thinking and I don't think you can freeze noodles, so Daisy had to eat it for lunch ALL WEEK.

Tuesday: breaded chicken cutlets, also from the challenge. I'm not gonna lie, (apparently that's the phrase of the day?) these were UBER bland. My kids are sissies and Nick wasn't there, so I didn't add anything to my breadcrumbs, but next time, I'll definitely throw in some Tony's or cayenne or even crushed red pepper. I pounded the hell out of the chicken because that's my thang, and I think it REALLY helped. They came out just like chicken fingers!! We had these with the penne from Monday on the top, and I had mine on a bed of raw spinach. Perfection. And it seriously took like seven and a half minutes to make.

Wednesday: leftovers. Because we still had a LOT of the penne and bolognese.

Thursday: we were supposed to have this apple cider baked chicken, but someone (no names Scott cough Scott) ate all the apples!!! And Nick had just come home. So we ordered pizza.

Lemme give you a quick side note. In our neighborhood, and I think in lots around here actually, they don't use house numbers, they use house names. So we don't live at 1547 Northgate St, we live at Parkmead, Northgate. So when we order a pizza, online of course, or shit from Amazon or ANYTHING, the shipping address is PARKMEAD, Northgate, Northwood, ect. However, we have a big sign on our mailbox that says PARKMEAD HOUSE. Not just Parkmead.

And apparently, this causes quite the bit of confusion!!!

WHAT THE FRACK!?!?! You can't use your deductive reasoning to see the sign for Parkmead House and see the shipping label for Parkmead and see that your GPS has taken you to this EXACT location and then figure 'hey, this is probably it'?!?!?!

It's SO WEIRD!!!

Friday: we were supposed to have this grilled salmon from the challenge, but alas, we still had thawed chicken legs in the fridge from Thursday and I still hadn't gotten any apples, so we had grilled chicken legs instead. Can't really complain as that is everyone's (all six, seriously) favorite meal. If Nick knows anything (and really, he knows a LOT) it's how to grill some chicken legs.

Saturday: we had an favorite old standby, parmesan crusted pork chops. Still love. And tonight (I'm writing this Sunday morning) I have no idea, Nick is maybe going to pick something up on the way home from Ava's karate test. Probably grilled ribs. Man likes to grill.

What did ya'll eat this week? As always, if you need some inspiration, head over to Organizing Junkie for thousands of menus and recipes!!

And just for shits and giggles, go read this post, forty four things they've said to get their kids to eat. It's pretty funny.  "Try eating. It's how you survive."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Interestings: A (sort of but not really) Review

I'm not even sure how to start writing this review, so I'll copy and paste from the back of the book.

" 'Every summer we sit like this. We should call ourselves something.' Ash Wolf said.
'Why?' said Goodman, her older brother. 'So the whole world can know just how unbelievably interesting we are?'

On a warm July night in 1974 six teenagers play at being cool. The friendships they make this summer will be the most important and consuming of their lives. In a teepee at summer camp they smoke pot and drink vodka & Tangs, talk of G√ľnter Grass and the latest cassette tapes; they also share their dreams and ambitions, still so fresh and so possible.

But decades later not everyone can sustain in adulthood what had seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, has resigned herself to a more practical occupation; Cathy has stopped dancing; Jonah has laid down his guitar and taken up engineering. Only Ethan's talent has endured. As their fortunes tilt precipitously over the years, some of them dealing with great struggle, others enjoying extraordinary wealth and success, friendships are put under the strain of envy and crushing disappointment.

Against the backdrop of a changing America, from Nixon's resignation to Obama's new world, Wolitzer's panoramic tragicomedy asks how 'the Interestings' can be happy with being anything less than brilliant?"

First of all, I loved this book. Whenever I talk about it (to anyone and everyone who will listen for even just a moment) I feel like I come off sounding like I didn't like it, but I really really did.

I started reading it after Emma and Elsie randomly said she was doing it for a book club. I mentioned it to Angela and she said she'd been thinking of reading it. The American cover was cool looking, which is enough for me, so I bought it while we were in Prague and began reading right away.

I'd just finished reading four Jack Reacher books in a row. They're not my typical type of story, but I could NOT get enough, and I wanted nothing more than to start the fifth one, but they're so exciting and fast paced and FUN, I thought I should probably read something a little more substantial. Sound pretentious enough for you? Yes, I often get a little full of myself.

As a side note, when I was about two thirds of the way through (it took me FOREVER to read, because I was so terrified that something was going to happen to Dennis. I made Angela tell me, and she must have sensed my desperation and cray cray, because although she usually refuses to reveal any sort of spoiler at all, when I ranted and raved 'please, please, does anything bad happen to Dennis?!?!' she replied with a clipped 'no. now finish the book already.') where was I? Yes, two thirds through and EW's Best of 2013 came out. As a side note to my side note, I get my EW on Daisy's iPad, for anyone living overseas and getting frustrated that it takes an extra three weeks to get your magazines in the APO. If your magazine has an iPad edition, it's free, and JUST LIKE a real magazine!! LOVE.

So I immediately flipped to the back to devour Stephen King's The Best Books I Read This Year article. Sometimes he picks obscure weird scary shit that I am NOT interested in, but you can always tell by the way he writes about it, so I never worry. If anyone is interested, here are his picks. This is how much I do not want to write this review, I'm going to take the time to copy all this out with links. Oy.

10. The Good Nurse (non fiction, not my cup of tea, not interested.)

9. The Shining Girls (might add it to my list, but probably not)

8. The Wicked Girls (unsure. It sounds good to me, but Meredith reviewed it and didn't make it sound good, and she's NEVER steered me wrong.)

7. The Casual Vacancy (already read this, didn't love it, but I did LOVE the ending. Cuckoo's Calling was MUCH better.) (Obviously, he follows my rule that his list doesn't have to be things that came out in 2013, just things that HE discovered that year.)

6. City of Women (added to my list)

5. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (might look into this more, the guy who wrote it did Cloud Atlas, so it very likely might be over my head.)

4. The Goldfinch (feel like I should read this because everyone else is, but at the same time I feel like I should NOT read this because everyone else is. Yes, full of myself.)

3. Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (sound boring to me, who knows)

2. The Interestings. Number two on his list of best books of the ENTIRE year.

1. The Orphan Master's Son. Never heard of it, doesn't interest me, but I might give it a whirl because I love SK so much.

All right. I can't think of anything else to avoid talking abut the book.

SPOILERS ABOUND. Sort of, because it's not really that kind of book. But still, just in case you're not one who wants to know ANYTHING at all, SPOILERS AHEAD.

It says it's about five characters, but really, it's about three, and sort of a fourth, Dennis, who isn't even included in that original five. I thought Jonah was a waste of ink, he didn't really add anything to the story, and Cathy and Goodman are just sort of background noise. The story is about Ash and Ethan and mostly, Jules.

It isn't a typical book with a plot. Know what I mean? The narration just sort of follows their lives, from fifteen to mid fifties. There's not any sort of mystery or drama, not big conflict to resolve, it's just them, living their lives.  As painful as this is for me to do, I'm going to go ahead and include some snippets of my conversations with Angela, because I can't bear to have to write this out again, in better form, but I really think this is how I felt about the book. Please don't think less of me. If it's possible to think less of someone who doesn't want to read the Goldfinch just because other people like it.

So there you go. This book, for lack of any better phrase, GOT UNDER MY SKIN. I've never read anything that did that THIS MUCH. I've never related SO MUCH to characters, and been SO ASHAMED to relate to them. I was so horrified that Angela would think I was Ash, then more horrified that I was thinking that she would think I was Ash, it was just a hot mess.

And Angela nailed it: we see SO MUCH of them. That's what made it so different. You don't just see the parts pertaining to the plot, because there really isn't a plot. You just SEE EVERYTHING.

Obviously, one of the best parts of this story, for me, was the friendship between Ash and Jules. As you know, Angela and I met in the eighth grade, so we were even younger than Ash and Jules. And we broke up, for lack of a better term, when we left for college and those were some of the loneliest years, because no one knows you like the girl who's couch you sat on every single Friday afternoon for the five years of adolescence. No one knows you like the girl who's bus driver knows your name because you ride her bus home almost as much as you ride your own. No one knows you like the girl who's bathroom sink you shaved your legs in at two in the morning before a youth group trip to the water park. No one knows you like the girl who rolled her eyes when you fell into and out of love. No one knows you like the girl who automatically turns on the close captioning when you bring out the bag of dorritoes because we can't hear the tv over the sound of our chewing.

And this quote is one of the few in the book that I marked, even though it was FULL of good ones, because after we broke up, we found our way back to each other, and even though we haven't lived on the same continent since that December of 2008 we we hooked back up (I may be wrong about that date, but I feel like it was right after Aidan was born, and wasn't she born then?) we are as close as we ever were.

"And you could go with your best friend to this friendly location removed because it won't make sense of out context and stand together, silently shaking with laughter, both teenaged and fully grown all at once, knowing that you would never have to chose between those different states of maturity, because you contained them both inside yourselves."

So it ended up being perfect that Angela and I read this together. So maybe read it with your own bestie?

I don't know. Take from this (not even close to an actual) review what you will, but this book is one that should NOT be missed. I wouldn't drop everything to read it, but I would definitely make a point to get it done, because it will make you think. A lot. About yourself, and the roles you play in other people's lives, and about lying to yourself, and being delusional, and the importance of going after your dreams, at least a little.

Phew. This was one of the hardest things I've ever written. Seriously. I've been writing it for almost an entire week, so that's why it seems sort of choppy. This book man, it just GOT into my head!!!

Next on my kindle? Book of Secrets recommended by Meredith and reviewed here. I'm only on chapter three, but I already love it and I'm already thinking of ways I can get my hands on a first edition copy of any of the Narnia books. Spoiler alert, I cannot get my hands on any. Ever.