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gods behaving badly

I won the book, gods behaving badly written by Marie Phillips, in a giveaway by Books on the Brain. What a treat. It arrived while I was reading the Twilight series so it got put to the side until I finished with those books.

Summary of the book: 12 Greek gods, with waning powers, living in modern day London, all cramped into a dilapidated house they’ve lived in since 1665. The gods are bored, cranky and petty. Add in 2 mortals in a race to save humankind and you’ve got a very interesting read. Not only did I get a good chuckle, but it sparked an interest in re-learning my Greek mythology. I recognized the well known gods i.e. Apollo, Aphrodite, Artemis, Ares, etc. But there were a few I had to look up. Click here if you want a refresher of  The Olympians.  My favorite is Artemis (goddess of hunting) with Dionysus (god of wine), who owns a sleazy bar called Bacchanalia, being a close second.

Each god has a job that coincides with their talents. Artemis is a dog walker and is always on the look-out for a dog with some feistiness left in him/her. She’s thrilled when she finally gets to tangle with Cerberus, the three-headed dog of Hades (god of the underworld).  Here’s a passage about Artemis’ search for a “real” dog:

There were dogs all around, on leashes, and Artemis tried to catch their eyes, hoping to detect some wolfish spark, some indication that they knew their heritage, but they were all the same – fat, lazy, dull. There was no point. No true dog would allow itself to be tethered to a human anyway.

Apollo (god of the sun and a gift of prophecy) has a TV psychic show, Aphrodite (goddess of Love and Beauty) is a sex phone operator.  And so it goes.  The power of belief  is a main theme of the book, but be warned, there are several unsettling comments “against” Jesus and God which comes from the point of view of the gods.  In the end, the book is a light farce and a romantic comedy.

After reading the vampire series (4 books) and about the Greek gods, I’m in serious need of a more realistic novel. Any suggestions for a “feel good” story based in reality?

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Feeling A Lot Less Guilty

Thanks to Books on the Brain, I’m feeling a lot less guilty about my all-consuming weekend of reading. Since I started reading Twilight and New Moon, I’ve been neglecting Favorite Man, Girl and Grandma Betty. Only the dogs were happy with my reading since they got to lay next to me and got petted occassionally.  Feeling guilty, I decided to stop reading my book and checked out what was happening in the blog world. Yeah, I know ~ that’s just more reading and neglecting BUT thankfully, I popped into Books on the Brain, which is my usual first stop, and was thrilled to see I’m not the only one “escaping” into a book. 

Yet another reason why Books on the Brain is one of my favorite blogs ~ if you’re a reader and haven’t checked it out, I recommend you head over and give it a read.

The good thing about reading is Favorite Girl likes to curl up with me and read at the same time. And she’s thrilled that we can talk about the story of Edward and Bella. 😉 Although she doesn’t always like my take on things…

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Tuesday Teasers

From Books on the Brain, Tuesday Teasers:

Grab your current read.  Let the book fall open to a random page.  Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

It was a strange combination to absorb – the everyday concerns of the town doctor stuck in the middle of a discussion of his early days in the seventeenth-century London. It was also unsettling that he spoke outloud for my benefit.

Favorite Girl is a big fan of the “Twilight” series and begged asked me to give Twilight a chance. So far, I’m half way through the first book and enjoying it more than I thought I would. When I heard it was about vampires, I thought it would be just “re-tread” but it’s more about love and the fight between “good and evil” ~ I can certainly understand why teenage girls are “obsessed” with all things “Edward.” 

If you’re looking for a book to escape with, I highly recommend Twilight.

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“House and Home” by Kathleen McCleary

I’m thrilled to be included as a host for TLC’s Virtual Book Tour of House and Home.

Although I’m the last stop on the tour, I’m no less excited to post my review and I waited until a few days ago to pose my questions to the author, Kathleen McCleary. I wanted to ask unique questions which the other tour stops hadn’t asked. 

The opening paragraph of House and Home completely peaked my interest and I wanted to know so much more about this woman, Ellen, whose love for her house could be called nothing less than an obsession. As I read the novel, I came to understand Ellen’s love for her home and found myself rooting for her to save the house, and the family, she loved so much.

Being married to someone in the military, I would never allow myself to fall “in love” with a house. As much as we move, it would be emotional suicide. All the military families I know, myself included, are very adept at making whatever home we’re in, the home we love now. If our homes were men, we’d be serial monogamist or as the song goes “Love the One You’re With.”

It was interesting to read of Ellen’s passion for her home, and in a way, it helped me relate to some of my civilian friends who’ve moved in the the last couple years from homes or places they love so much. Since I always look at a move as a chance for a new adventure and an opportunity to meet new people, I didn’t completely understand why my friends were distraught about their moves.

I like everything about House and Home; not just the story and the characters, but the look and feel of the book, too. The cover is so inviting and it’s a small book you can easily carry with you. If you couldn’t tell, I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

Listed below are my interview questions for Kathleen McCleary and her answers. Having read about her on the other tour stops and reading her answers below, I’m as impressed with her as much as I’m impressed with her book:

1) You’ve mentioned your move from Oregon was a motivating factor for you to write the book about the pain of leaving a beloved home. Besides writing a book and getting published, what is the best thing that’s happened to you since your move to Virginia?
It’s hard to top writing a book and getting it published, since that’s been the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me. But other highlights, aside from the blessings of having a healthy family, plenty to eat, and a lovely home (can’t forget what’s really important), would include coaching daughter number two’s Odyssey of the MInd team (and making some terrific friends in the process); seeing daughter number one shine onstage in her play last spring; and finally, the book launch party I had in July, which showed me how many truly wonderful people have been part of my journey here in Virginia. I have been amazed at all the support I’ve gotten from my friends and the community.

2) Hindsight is 20-20, and so, would you say the move was a positive thing for you and your family or would it have been better to stay in Oregon?

Argh! Do I have to answer this? Much as I love our friends in Virginia, and the warm welcome we’ve received from the community, I believe Oregon was an easier place to raise kids, and a place that I (as a somewhat intense and high-strung creative type) found easier and less stressful to live. I would love to hear from readers who have moved about how it’s worked out for them. It’s been four years for me and I still feel sometimes like I’ll never get over it!

3) What’s on your nightstand waiting to be read?  
I’ve got a pile, but the three at the top right now are Brunonia Barry’s “The Lace Reader,” which I’m reading with my book group; “Kristin Lavransdatter” by Sigrid Undset, which I’m reading for the second time (the first time was twenty-some years ago); and Julie Andrews‘ autobiography, “Home.” All three are terrific reads.
4) What was the last book you read that made you laugh out loud?
 James Thurber‘s “My Life and Hard Times.” The well-known chapter “The Night the Bed Fell” has to be one of the funniest stories ever written. Bill Bryson always makes me laugh out loud, too. 

5) If House and Home were made into a movie, who would be your choice to play Ellen? And who would play her hunky husband, Sam?

I love this question! We had a lot of fun with this at a book group meeting recently. I think Diane Lane would make a great Ellen, because she can walk that fine line between comedy (and the book definitely is meant to be humorous at points) and drama. Or maybe Julia Roberts, now that she’s in her forties. I’ve had a harder time with Sam—Johnny Depp, maybe? Antonio Banderas? And personally I’ve always had a thing for Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn. If he could do that unkempt look again and wear brown contact lenses he’d be a very hunky Sam. I’d love to hear what readers think. 

If you’ve moved recently, read the book (help “cast the movie”) or have a different question for Kathleen, please leave a comment. She’s interested in what you have to say. Thanks! 

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Virtual Book Tour on Beachbums ~ Save the Date!

I was thrilled when Lisa, from TLC Book Tours, asked if I would host a day on the Virtual Book Tour of House and Home by Kathleen McCleary:

Being part of the tour requires I read the book, write a review and post it on 29 September. Since I get most of my book recommendations from book blogs, I love the concept of a virtual tour. The book tour will have stops on several other blogs throughout this month starting tomorrow, 3 September. Here are the links:

Wednesday, September 3rd: Hooked on Houses

Friday, September 5th: It’s All About Books

Monday, September 8th: The Literate Housewife

Wednesday, September 10th: Books and Cooks

Friday, September 12th: Breaking the Spine

Monday, September 15th: She Is Too Fond Of Books

Wednesday, September 17th: Caribou’s Mom

Thursday, September 18th:  Age 30 – A Year of Books

Monday, September 22nd: Booking Mama

Tuesday, September 23rd:  The Cottage Nest

Wednesday, September 24th: The Inside Cover

Friday, September 26th: In the Shadow of Mt. TBR

Monday, September 29th:  Displaced Beach Bums

I finished the book last night and, so I won’t be influenced by other reviews, I’ll write my review tonight (but won’t post it until 29 Sept). 

Interestingly, Books on the Brain has a Tuesday Teaser  which asks you to grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. You also need to share the title of the book you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

My tease is House and Home by Kathleen McCleary because I’m hoping my friends (& family) will read it before my scheduled book stop and share how they feel about the book. I’d especially love to hear what my military spouse friends think about the book. As much as we move, we don’t get a chance to “attach” to a house but I’m sure we all have something or somewhere that makes us feel like we’re “home.”

Here’s my random page from House and Home:

Page 130: “Actually, he continued, looking out the passenger window, away from Ellen, “this whole push Jordan has made to move, and ‘move up,’ has been very difficult for me. It’s made me question a lot of things.

The author, Kathleen McCleary, will answer questions so if anyone reads the book this month and wants to submit a question for her, let me know.

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The Winner is…

…FG selected a name as the winner of “Barefoot”

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Barefoot and Other Summer Reading

So far this summer, I’ve read the following:

Love Walked In, by Marisa de los Santos. It’s an interesting story of love and how, when you date (marry) someone, you get all those family & friends connections. In other words, baggage or some sort of complication comes with almost everyone. It’s an easy read with references to classic movies which has made me want to rent a few of the movies mentioned such as: The Philadelphia Story, Love Affair and Libeled Lady.

What I didn’t like about the book was the ending. Too neat, too convenient. Don’t get me wrong, I love a happy ending but, not at the expense of being realistic. Life is messy and to wrap it up in a neat little package complete with a bow is boring. I won’t give examples because that would be too much of a spoiler. I would recommend this because the story is a good one but, be forewarned, the ending is lukewarm.

Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand: LOVED it!! 

This was one of the books I won from Books on the Brain and Hatchett Books. I read it while on vacation at the beach and, since the story took place “at the beach”, it was a good choice. The story takes place in Nantucket, which *surprise*, I’ve never been, too. The author did a fabulous job describing the island and I felt like I could get around Nantucket just from her wonderful descriptions. Nantucket is now on the list of places I’d like to visit while we’re living so close.  That’s the type of travel I like ~ no jet lag!

Back to the book ~ it got my attention from the first chapter. And why wouldn’t it ~ we’re introduced to the three main characters and their emotional issues all at once since they arrive on the island together. And we’re talking some big issues. I almost put the book down when I found out one of the women is battling cancer. It’s such a scary subject to me and having lived through my dad’s unsuccessful battle with cancer, I didn’t know if I wanted to even think about it while on vacation. But, I was too invested in the story line by then so I kept on reading. I could relate to all three women: I’ve seen aspects of them in my friends and in myself as well. Who doesn’t know someone desperately trying to get pregnant? Or who is ill? or who is in an unhappy marriage? It’s a very relatable story.

I’m not a “lay out and read at the beach” kind of gal. I’m either swimming, walking the beach, snorkeling, etc. But when Favorite Man and Favorite Girl were fast asleep, I’d be reading into the late night. I was able to finish the book before leaving the island.

One of the recurring things in the book was “finding sand in your shoes” and so, when I was packing to leave St. John, I was not too careful in getting the sand out of our things. It’s been nice to find a little sand in my shoes now that I’m back home. It brings back good memories.

The book was a gift from the blogosphere and, if it’s not too tacky, I’d like to pass it forward to someone else to enjoy.  I’m going to have a giveaway so leave a comment and I’ll put your name in the hat. Literally, I’ll take all the names, put them in a hat and let FG pull a winner. It’s in good shape, but be forewarned, it might have a little Caribbean sand in it.

The drawing will be on 21 August so please leave a comment before midnight on 20 August. Thanks!

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