Sunday, July 7, 2013

Great Summer Reads

A couple more book reviews - both of which I really enjoyed!  And two books that made (and would make for you) fun Summer reads.

1) Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

Her first book, Commencement, came out a few years ago and I really enjoyed it, as well.  This one (similar to Commencement, actually), follows four women's lives and each chapter is told in a different one's 1st-person voice.  The women in this book are a grandmother, her daughter, her daughter-in-law, and her granddaughter.  I just loved it.  It's about their past, their current lives, and the ways their lives intertwine with each other.  It all sort of centers on the family vacation house in Maine and their time there in the past and in the present.

It reads super quick and is mostly about Summer (when they're in Maine) - so it feels appropo right now.

2) The Host by Stephanie Meyer

Yes, Stephanie Meyer is the woman who wrote the Twilight books.  (Whatev, you know you loved them too.)  They say this is her first book for adults, although I might argue it could be a book for teens, as well.  But the main characters are adults, so I guess that's why they classified it that way.  Anyway - it's a dystopia (my fave!) about an alien species that has taken over Earth.  When they come in, they inject themselves (the "souls") into human bodies and live through the human, thus eliminating the human.  Only - they don't completely eliminate the human spirit every time. (Dun dun dun!)

I liked this book a lot maybe even more than I really care to admit.  At its core, it's a love story.  But one of the things I liked most is that I honestly didn't know: a) how it was going to end or b) how I wanted it to end.  It's a love story, so you would think the reader just wants boy to end up with girl at the end, but it's more complicated than that.

It's unpredictable and has some suspenseful moments.  And a charming love story(ies).  When I finished, I felt a connection to the book, like I didn't want it to end.  I might or might not have read the ending a couple times.  Make sure if you do read it, your copy of the book has the afterword from Stephanie Meyer where she wrote an additional chapter to aid the people who adapted the book for film.

Both good summer reads - both highly recommended!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Girls River Weekend

For the first time ever, I left Bates at home with Dada this past weekend and went out of town with girlfriends!  And it was glorious!

I'd never been in a different city than my child.  My in-laws take him for overnight babysits fairly often, but in terms of actually being away from him?  Never.  So when my book club talked about taking a trip to Emily's river house in Arkansas, my first thought was no.  I just didn't think Jonathan would want to be home alone with Bates for a whole weekend.  But when I talked to him about it, he was totally on-board.  And thus, the wheels started spinning on plans for our weekend away.

In the end, it was Emily, Patti, and me who made the trek to Hardy, Arkansas to Emily's family house on the Spring River.  "House" is definitely the wrong word for this cabin that didn't really have any solid walls (they were all screens).  It took my love of a good screened-in porch to the next level.  It felt a bit like Ritz Carlton camping - we were in the wilderness, but still had beds, a bathroom, a kitchen, electricity, etc.  That's my kind of camping!  Thankfully the weather agreed, and each night I actually found myself pulling the comforter on for warmth.

We spent all day Saturday on the river.  We loaded our canoe up with lounge chairs, food, drink, and books and paddled up river to a sand bank by a little waterfall (the "Knockers").  For the whole day, we sat in chairs in the river, talked, read, swam, and watched seriously drunk rednecks people try to canoe over the falls.  It was so fun, relaxing, refreshing, enjoyable - basically it was just what I needed. For two days I didn't think about anyone else's eating, sleeping, bathrooming, or bathing schedule.  Instead I worried about how much sunscreen to use, whether to read my Kindle through a ziploc bag on the river, and how many Pringles were too many.  First world problems.

Sunday morning I woke up and read in bed.  I haven't stayed in bed in the morning to read since before Bates was born.  Then I wrapped up in a quilt with a cup of coffee and spent the morning chatting with Emily and Patti.  It's amazing how much talking three women can do in a weekend - and amazing how good for the soul it can be.

When we were hanging out in the river on Saturday, another family who has a cabin by Emily's was hanging out there, too.  The mom came over and talked to us, asking if we were on a girlfriend trip.  When we said yes, she said, "you have to do them, they're good for you; you'll solve all the world's problems by the end of the weekend."  And it's so true.  I don't think we left many stones unturned.

I got back late Sunday afternoon very excited to see the baby boy (and Jonathan - although I'd been away from him before).  And as expected, all went quite well for them in my absence; they enjoyed their "boy's weekend."

This whole week I've still felt so recharged from the weekend.  I must remember the importance of getting out of the house (alone) and getting away every now and then.  It does a body good.