Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan

Dear Fellow Reader,

I have something I have to admit to you.  Sometimes I read too fast.  I will blame it on my mother’s insistence that her children take speed reading.  Reading fast is fine in many ways.  I can read books, enjoy them and move on.  Sometimes though, it catches up to me and I need to slow down.

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan is one of those books I should have slowed down when I was reading.  As a result, I have gone back and read it again. Tell Me More is a memoir. It is about the time in Kelly Corrigan’s life after her beloved Father’s death and her friend Liz’s death.  Her coming to terms with those deaths and the clash of her grief meeting her real life of raising two teenage daughters and being a wife caused her to take a look at how she could be a better person.

The subtitle of the book is Stories about the 12 Hardest Things I ‘m Learning to Say.

“This book is about things we say to people we love (including ourselves) that make things better”

Each of the phrases that she is learning to say has a chapter that illustrates why she is learning to say it.  For example, when her daughter calls her in tears about something that happened with her friends, Kelly was prompted by her friend to listen rather than try and jump in to “fix” the situation.

“I admitted that I can’t watch the girls climb a tree without telling them where to put their foot next. “I can sit on my hands for about eight seconds. When they tell me about a problem – which is rare and getting rarer – I can think of five things they should do before they finish their first sentence.”

“Right. But then, there’s that whole weird thing where half the time, it’s not even about what they are saying it’s about. So your advice is totally wrong because you don’t even understand what the real problem is or what they’re asking for.”

She let her daughter talk. She asked questions about how her daughter was feeling. She discovered that she was more helpful than if she had jumped in with solutions.  By saying “Tell Me More” she was able to be a better sounding board for her daughter.

Kelly Corrigan is willing to let her readers see her as she actually is.  She does not try to hide her warts. She does show that she is trying to be a better person. She isn’t a bad person – she is a person much like you or I with human frailties. It may be that she can see her flaws better than we can see ours.

I did like this book and I think it has many good points.  It deserves to be on your TBR pile.  I would also recommend her earlier book, Glitter and Glue: A Memoir. (My review of it can be found here.)

I am a bit overwhelmed by my TBR pile right now.  There seem to be so many good books that have come out and I still have so many from before that I am feeling a bit flooded. Do you feel that way?  Did you get any books during the holiday season that you can’t wait to read?  Please share them in the comments!

If you would like to see and hear Kelly Corrigan talking about her book, here is a video you can watch.

Congratulations to Kelly Corridan as today is the publication day for this book.  I received an advance copy of the book so that I could give an honest opinion of it.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

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Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

woman reading in hammock

 

Hello Fellow Reader,

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande is the book for my book club this month.  The book’s subtitle is Medicine and What Matters in the End.  This book is a thought-provoking read.

I will warn you that it is not an easy book at the start.  In the author’s own words,

“This is a book about the modern experience of mortality – about what it’s like to b creatures who age and die, how medicine has changed the experience and how it hasn’t, where our ideas about how to deal with our finitude have got the reality wrong.”

It is a very hard subject.  As Bette Davis so famously said, “Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” But keep reading.  The book is very interesting and can give you an interesting perspective on aging and dying.  After all, we all have to die.  This book suggests that you might give it some thought ahead of time.  Modern medicine can do many things to keep you alive and you may need to give some thought to what you really want – what is important to you as you grow old.

I was particularly struck by the thought that when we leave the decision making to loved ones that their perspective is different from our own.

“We want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love. That remains the main prolem and paradox for the frail. Many of the things that we want for those we care about are things that we would adamantly oppose for ourselves because they would infringe on our sense of self.

It’s the rare child who is able to think, ‘Is this place what Mom would want or like or need?’ It’s more like they’re seeing it thought their own lens. The child asks, Is this a place I would be comfortable leaving Mom?”

Perhaps because I have had to make this decision for my parents, I was hit more by this discussion.  While I wanted them to be able to have their own apartment, I did not consider that they would have to live with a schedule.  That they would have to be up by a certain time each morning so that my mother could receive the help she needed with bathing and dressing. That she could no longer decide that she wanted to stay in bed for an extra hour just because it felt good to do so.  Would I want that for myself?

The author looks at how care for the elderly has evolved and highlights some places where the care seems to take into account the needs of the elderly to remain autonomous while still being cared for.  The book uses examples of cases and how things were done and how things went well or could have been done better.

While a different, this book and the book, When Breath Becomes Air, both talk about what measures can be taken to keep a patient alive and whether the quality of life should play more of a role in the decision making.  Medicine can do amazing things to keep a body going but the result of that intervention does not necessarily result in a better quality of life.  That perhaps there needs to be a franker discussion about the possible and probable outcomes of some interventions.

When I finished this book, I called my brother to tell him to read this book.  He told me that he had read it twice and given it away to two people.  (I did not ask why he hadn’t given it to me or even recommended it to me. Brothers…) I then sent a copy to my sister and told her she had to read it.  So, yes, I recommend this book.  Not an easy subject but it is handled so well in this book.  It is a very interesting read.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Christy by Catherine Marshall

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

Do you ever have sentimental feelings about a book?  The type of feelings that get you to re-read a book?  Maybe it was the book or that time in your life that you found the book that affects your feelings for the story.  There are books that withstand going back to re-read and some that don’t.  I  know that I was wild about Lillian Hellman’s Pentimento when I read it in my 20’s. When I re-read it a few years ago, it did not give me the same warm feelings.  Okay, I didn’t really like it.  We know that the book didn’t change. I think our thoughts and feelings at the time affect our reactions to a book.

There are some books that can stir the same emotions whenever you read them.  I know that re-reading Great Expectations a few years ago was very different from reading it in freshman English.  (and I am pretty sure I read it then) (Just kidding, I did.)

I was asked to read and review Christy by Catherine Marshall.  The book is being re-issued to celebrate 50 years since its publication.  For the first time ever, it is available as an eBook.  (And when I say I was asked to review, it means that I was given the book and asked to give an honest review. Yes, it was a freebie.)

I do not know if I had read Christy before.  What I do know is that I watched the TV show.  The show was on (way) back in 1994-1995 and starred Kellie Martin as Christy. I liked the TV show.

The story of Christy is the story (fictionalized) of Catherine Marshall’s mother.  Christy at age 19 feels drawn to go to teach at a mission school in a rural Appalachian community.   While she thought she understood that they were poor, she had no idea what “poor” meant.  It was a shock to her that her students did not own shoes or have running water or electricity in their homes.  She did not know that there could really be feuds between families that went on for decades and would mean that members of the families would actually kill each other.  Going to Cutter Gap would show her a completely different world from her affluent home in Ashville, NC.

Once Christy got beyond the smells and the dirt, she found wonderful people who had so much to teach her.  While she could teach the basics, she learned much more about compassion and seeing the worth of people.

“She was teaching me about true freindship too. Through Fairlight’s eyes I came to know a quality of friendship which bore little resemblance to the casualness of our relationships back home.  The mountain type of friendship was the tie of substance between people with a sort of gallant fealty about it. It had to do with a time in the past when there was no more final bond than a man’s pledged owrd; when every connection of blood and family was firm and strong, forged in the past, stretching into the future.”

This is a long book.  At 506 pages, it is a bit intimidating.  BUT is really sucks you in from the beginning and it is a quick read.  I found that I didn’t really want to put it down. Christy’s growth as a person and the stories of the mountain people move the story along quickly.  There was not a point where I wondered when the book would end.  It is a good book to read curled up in front of the fire.

If you are curious about the television show, then YouTube is your answer.  It seems that whole season is there for you.  I may have to go back and check it out. But read the book, it is a nice, heart-warming read.

 

Thanks for reading!

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The Bookshop on the Corner

relaxing reading

Dear Fellow Reader,

Ah, the last book that I will write about from my vacation.  As I have mentioned before, I do respect the effort that goes into writing a book and I am loathe to write a terrible review. The other books that I read were just not that good and since we all have limited time, I would rather suggest books you might want to read rather than ones I didn’t think were that good.

BookshopI was drawn to this book because it talks about books.  Always a magnet – nothing better than to read a book that suggests other books to read, right? In The Bookshop on the Corner, Nina Redmond is a librarian.  She loves being a librarian.  But as the story opens, she is going to lose her job.  Libraries are being consolidated and closed and there are too many books and librarians. Nina feels she has to rescue the books that the library doesn’t want any longer.  Her dream is to have a mobile bookstore.  She can then find homes for all the books that she has saved.  She keeps collecting books until her roommate finally gives her an ultimatum.  The roommate is afraid that the floors will collapse.  One day, Nina finds an ad for a truck that sounds perfect for her.  She sets off to Scotland to look at it.  This decision sets off a chain of events that changes her life and the lives of many others.

One of the things that drives me a little crazy is when I see that a book is compared to another book.  In the promotional material for this book, they compare this book to The Little Paris Bookshop.  While I liked The Little Paris Bookshop, I  would not compare the two books.  Okay, maybe they are both about mobile bookshops but they are not the same.  This is a sweet story about Nina and how she finds a new life that helps others and herself.  I would hate for people who didn’t like the Paris Bookshop (most of my book club it seems) get turned off this book because of the comparison.  They are very different.

I guess my vacation is really over now.  No more reflecting on what I read while I was away. Sad but then I can look forward to the next one!  If you decided to read any of the books I’ve reviewed, I would love to hear your feedback!

Thanks for reading!

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Vacation Reads – Part Two

As I have mentioned, I read a lot on vacation.  I wrote about my favorite books from my last cation (https://cecooney.com/2017/11/27/vacation-reads/) In this post, I will talk about some of the other books that I liked.

These books were given to me at no cost as ARC (advanced reader copies) by Netgalley so that I would provide my unbiased review.

Best Laid Plants by Marty Wingate is the sixth in the series called “The Potting Shed Mysteries”.  Pru Parke is an American gardener living in Great Brittan and the non-professional detective in this series. I would suggest that you read the first book or two in the series before you read the other books.  It will help you to know the characters.  In this particular book, Pru and her husband are in the Cotswolds so that Pru can advise on the restoration of an Arts and Crafts garden.  On her second day of inspecting the garden, Pru finds the body of the owner, Batsford Bede. She and Christopher then have to solve the mystery of who killed him and why. There are frequent references to gardening, which mean nothing to me, but they do not distract from the story if you are not a gardener.

This is a very pleasant cozy mystery.  I have enjoyed all the books I have read by Marty Wingate.  It seems that the books are available as eBooks or audiobooks.

Accessories to Die For by Paula Paul is the second in the series of these cozy mysteries.  I would suggest that you read the books in order, once again just to get a full look at the characters.  The first book in the series is A Killer Closet.  The main character in these books is Irene Seligman, who has left her position as assistant district attorney in Manhattan to return to Santa Fe to help her mother, Adelle.  Irene has opened an upscale consignment store.  In Accessories to Die For, Paula steps in to defend her friend Juanita after the mysterious death of an associate of her son.  Seems Juanita has predicted his death which the police find a bit suspicious.

I will admit that I enjoyed the first book better than the second.  But the characters are humorous and the plot does pull you in.

Murder Over Mochas by Caroline Furdig is the fifth in the Java Jive mystery series.  While I liked the first book in the series, I think that the series improved with each book.  I think that as Juliet, the main character grows she becomes more interesting and you get more wrapped up in what she is going through.  In this book, Juliet reluctantly investigates the murder of her ex-fiance.  This leads her to work with her ex-boyfriend, Ryder Hamilton to find out what schemes her ex-fiance was involved with back in her hometown.

Once again, I think that this is a series that should be read in sequence.  You would really need to read the first book, Death Before Decaf, to find out about the characters and their history. I think reading the series in order will help with knowing the development of the characters.

All of the books I have talked about today are available as eBooks and most as audiobooks from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Kobo.  I also found some of the books available as eBook loans from my local library.  If you are looking for a cozy mystery, I would suggest looking at the Marty Wingate books.  Caroline Furdig’s books are not exactly cozy mysteries but once you get to know the characters, they are very enjoyable.

Thanks for reading!

 

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