Thursday, July 17, 2008

Memorial for Mom

Thank you for all of the kind thoughts sent my way in the last week. My mother suffered a massive stroke, spent a week in ICO, a week in hospice, and, ultimately, made her final transition on July 7th.

Preparing for her memorial service was quite difficult, but I took comfort in a New Testament quote where Jesus talks about preparing mansions for us. It lead me to reflect on the mansions of my mother's life, and I'd like to share those with you.

My mother was a child of the Depression, raised with two sisters by an aunt and uncle, after the death of her parents. Her next mansion was being a young woman in the turbulent Word War II 1940s. My mother was a working woman of the 1950s and met my father through her work. They were married in 1958 and celebrated fifty years together.

My mother's mansions moved to motherhood and more work in the 1960s and 1970s. She retired in the 1990s to a wonderful retirement community in Arizona where she was active in her church and had many friends and interests. At the turn of the century, her mansions expanded with the birth of my daughter, SurferGirl, who was a beloved only grandchild.

As I spoke about my mom at the service, I came to a realization. She is not lost because to be lost means we cannot find her. I do know where to find her and that is in my heart, mind, and memory.

We ended the service with a prayer for my mom. So here's to my mom and Godspeed on this next journey of life:

The light of God surrounds you,
The love of God enfolds you,
The power of God protects you,
And the presence of God watches over you;
Wherever you are, God is. And all is well.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - HolidayI

Here's today's BTT question:

It’s a holiday weekend here in the U.S., so let’s keep today’s question simple–What are you reading? Anything special? Any particularly juicy summer reading?

It's been a pretty tough week here. My mom is still at hospice. It's a matter of hours or days right now. With that in mind, I have been reading because it keeps my mind occupied, but I don't have a lot of focus so it's lightweight stuff for me right now. I just finished Fearless Fourteen which is a fun summer read.

I actually sorted through my TBR pile yesterday and put a bunch of books on BookMooch because it was so overwhelming. I'm working on a new romantic/inspirational novel set in Amish country. It's not very taxing so perfect for me right now.

I'd love suggestions for quick reads, lots of humor, and not very grim or gory.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

This is the latest Stephanie Plum novel. However, I can't really review it like my normal reviews. The book is filled with the normal Plum characters and humor.

I don't know if I like this one or not, but I truly appreciate it. I bought it during a run to Target from my mother's hospital room. She has had a massive stroke and was in ICU for a number of days before being transferred to hospice. She is still in hospice care as she makes her final transition. This book was my companion in the last few days because it helped me pass the time with a few laughs when it has been hard to laugh.

Thank you to Grandma Mazur, Stephanie, and Lulu for keeping me company and easing my mind just a little.

Please send prayers my mother's way for her peaceful transition, and to my father for his resilience as he loses his mate of 50 years.

Mercy by Jodi Picoult

This is yet another book by Jodi Picoult. I have also read My Sister's Keeper, Salem Falls, and Plain Truth. I actually think I'm going to take a break from Picoult for awhile because her books are becoming repetitious, in some way.

This one is the story of Cameron McDonald, who is the Chief of Police in a small town, and married to Allie, the town's florist. Cameron has to arrest his cousin, Jamie, for the mercy killing of his wife, Maggie. This arrest leads to a trial where Picoult is able to pontificate on the nature of life and death and what it means to show mercy. In a subplot, Cameron starts an affair with Mia, Allie's new assistant in the florist shop.

STRENGTHS OF MERCY: It is a well-written book. The plots do hold a reader's attention. I did end up quite liking the character of Jamie, because I though the author did a good job with his emotional conflict over what he had done. Of course, we only saw his wife through his eyes so it made his story even more interesting.

WEAKNESSES OF MERCY: I really ended up disliking Cameron and Allie. I wanted to slap him throughout the book and tell him to grow up, talk to his wife, and be a man about his concerns in his marriage. I, actually, felt the same way about Allie. She was much more likable, and she was great with Jamie, but she ended up as a weaker character by the end of the story. I also started to feel, in this book, that Picoult was wrapping the characters around the issue and letting the issue of mercy killing drive her writing, rather than letting her characters drive the story. I may have been much more interested in a story that showed us the contradictions between Jamie and Maggie's marriage and Cam and Allie's. That is part of the story, and was more interesting to me than Jamie's trial.

I intensely disliked the ending where Allie stayed with Cameron. I wondered if she shouldn't have been with Jamie at the end, leaving Cameron alone and not Jamie. END OF SPOILER.

Overall, I'd give this one 3 1/2 stars. I still think My Sister's Keeper was my favorite Picoult novel. What do you think? Let me know.

Hold Tight by Harlan Coben

This is the latest release by Harlan Coben. It is part of the In The Pub Challenge since it was published this year.

This is the story of Mike Baye, a doctor who is holding a patient's family secret, as well as a father who is losing his own teenage son. In the course of the story, Mike and his wife, Tia, decide to spy on their son through a number of high tech computer devices. Their son, Adam, is grieving the suicide of a close friend, but there is much more wrong than he has revealed to his parents. Mike starts to get more and more wrapped up in his son's world, through the spying, and finds out what is really going on with his son.

In the Author's Note for the book, Coben explains that the technology used in the book is actually available, though produce names have been changed. This both shocked and educated me because I'm aware of all the issues surrounding Facebook, MySpace, and Instant Messenging. I also truly believe that people can get into trouble with the anonymity of these things. However, I was surprised at the sophistication of the monitoring potentials and worry about their effects on our society.

STRENGTHS OF HOLD TIGHT: As normal, Coben creates characters that you really care about. Mike is a dad who just wants to help his son. Tia is a mom in the same boat. The plot has some interesting twists and turns which did keep me interested.

WEAKNESSES OF HOLD TIGHT: I can't quite put my finger on it, but this wasn't one of my favorite of his books. The plot seemed to move too slowly and, while interesting, the computer stuff didn't make for very exciting reading. I also thought the subplot about the neighbor's family was a bit contrived and overly dramatic.

Overall, I'd have to give this one 3 stars. I think I was expecting more from Coben. This book just didn't hold my attention the way his others have. Let me know what you thought of this one if you've read it.