Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg

home-repairTitle:  Home Repair

Author:  Liz Rosenberg

Paperback:  352 pages

ISBN:  9780061734564

Challenges:  ARC Challenge

But it was more than facing the clutter and the mess, this grip of cold gloom that surrounded her.  She had never been prone to depression, not even after Ivan died, but what she suffered now felt like a disease of the soul.  She wandered aimlessly around the house.  The flowers in their clay pots out on the front porch were long dead and withered.  A few brown leaves stuck out from the stems.  She seemed to be staring at the demise of everything.  Everything she’d already lost, all the losses still to come.  It all headed toward grief in the end.  Humans were soap bubbles, clinging to any solid surface.  They rested briefly, then were gone.  Her mother would be gone soon, and not long after, it would be herself, and one day even her own children…

A chill stabbed her heart.  Why on earth bother?  Why clean, take out the trash, make the beds.  Why not let it all alone to rot?

- Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg, pages 183-184 (ARE)

I’d first like to thank Jennifer, aka Book Club Girl, for the opportunity to read Home Repair and participate in a discussion with Liz Rosenberg, the book’s author.  You can listen to her July 8th broadcast on Blog Talk Radio with the author by clicking here.  It was my first time participating in a live discussion with an author, and was an interesting experience.  It would definitely be more interesting to have the author’s voice at a book club discussion more often.

One of the things that sticks out most for me with Home Repair is that it truly has a feeling of authenticity.  Often in books, when the tragic or fantastic occurs, it feels contrived or manufactured, a vehicle for the author to get the characters from one point to another, or to teach a lesson.  However, with this book, the events feel natural.  When Eve and her seventeen-year-old son, Marcus, get into a fight about him going for a ride in his friend’s new sports car, it had a very familiar feeling to me, a mother of two teens of my own.  The events that followed the argument also felt familiar and made me think back to something that had happened within my own family.  Another aspect of Home Repair that I kept thinking of while reading it was that the characters were very real to me.  At times I could see my own mother in Charlotte, Eve’s mom, with Eve playing my part, at other times Mrs. Dunrea could’ve been me.  Also, Rosenberg has set Home Repair in her home town of Bignhamton, New York, adding even more realism to the book.

Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg begins on a bright, sunny and unseasonably mild day as Eve holds a garage sale to clear out some of the clutter in her family of four’s life.  As the day progresses, she becomes aware that her husband, Chuck, has taken the opportunity to clear out for good.  Eve is left with the task of explaining to her two children, Marcus and Noni, that he’s left them, and to somehow manage to dig down within herself and soldier on.  The book takes us on a year journey as Eve rediscovers who she is, develops friendships and connections with new and different people, and deepens her relationships with those she already knows.  When her mother moves up from Tennessee to “help,” Eve is faced with her mother’s own eventual mortality and humanness, as she struggles in the in-between land of mother caring for her own children while being a child caring for her mother.  Home Repair is the story of healing, family and friendship that will stay with you and gives hope that “This too shall pass.”

“Why does anyone get married?  Why do middle-aged men leave their wives, or women abandon their families and run off to Tahiti?  Why does anyone bother to become friends with anyone, or adopt a child, or own a pet, for that matter?  We’re all going to die sooner or later, if that’s what you’re thinking,”  Charlotte said.  “That’s life.  Nothing we do can change that.  We’re all going to someday say good-bye.  We’re all going to have to cry, little girl,” she said, putting one hand out to touch Eve’s hair.  The touch did not quite happen, but hovered, and then settled back down, like a butterfly, still quivering.  “We might as well be happy while we can.”

-Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg, page 324 (ARE)

Home Repair by Liz Rosenberg is a comfort, homey read that reminds us that we’re not alone and gives us hope.  It tells us that we’re stronger than we think and love is the best home repair.  I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

Fruits Basket Volume 3 and 4 by Natsuki Takaya

KYO KYO!!!!Title:  Fruits Basket, Volume 3

Author:  Natsuki Takaya

Paperback:  200 pages

ISBN:  9781591826057

Challenges:  Manga Challenge

The third installment of Sensei Takaya’s delightful manga series that gives the reader a window into the life of the cursed Sohma family and how Tohru Honda, a sweet and naive young orphan they’ve taken in and with whom they’ve shared their secret that some in their family are possessed by the vengeful animal spirits of the Chinese zodiac, features the rebellious cat-posessed Kyo Sohma on the cover.  Kyo is probably one of my favorite characters, he is certainly one of the funniest, and this book introduces another of my favorites:  Hatsuharu, the bull.

The book begins with a school race, which the highly-competitive Kyo sees as an opportunity to beat his ultimate rival and cousin, Yuki Sohma, the rat.  The pictures had Maggie and I laughing out loud in public places, trying to keep ourselves under control but often not able,   class=”hiddenSpellError” pre=””>Kyo with his cat ears, fangs, eyes and tail with electric energy swirling around him as he focuses on thoroughly trouncing “That damn rat Yuki” in the race was hilarious.  It’s during the race that Haru shows up and challenges Kyo to a fight, during which Black Haru comes out and makes sexual innuendos about what he’s going to do with Tohru.

Valentine’s Day happens in this book, as well, which brings Kagura back… much to Kyo’s displeasure.  Hatori, the Sohma family doctor, is introduced and Momiji makes another appearance and invites Tohru, Yuki and Kyo to the Sohma family spa for White Day.  Momiji, the rabbit, is another one of those funny, slightly naughty, characters who likes to look pretty.  The trouble is, though, the dress-wearing, fingernail-polished, blonde is a BOY.  Also, the interactions between Kyo and Momiji is reminiscent of the baby brother tag-a-long and annoyed older brother.  Kyo often noogies, pinches and restrains the over-zealous Momiji, who cries and whines loudly to any who’ll listen that he’s being abused by Kyo.

The final page of the book still makes me laugh, and I’ll often repeat it back to Mags, who will break out in groaning laughter and rolling her eyes.  Shigure shows Haru the little cosplay maid outfit he’s bought for Tohru as his White Day gift saying, “I can’t wait for her to call me Master wearing this.”  To which Haru replies, “Just Make sure you don’t get arrested, okay?”

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ShigureTitle:  Fruits Basket, volume 4

Author:  Natsuki Takya

Paperback:  216 pages

ISBN:  9781591826064

Challenges:  Manga Challenge

Fruits Basket, volume 4 begins with a new year at school and the addition of Haru and Momiji as first years at Yuki, Kyo and Tohru’s high school.  Akito, the abusive, frightening, mercurial head of the Sohma family visits the school, specifically to see Tohru.  He tries to come off as being kind, but it’s even scarier than when he’s his normal evil self.

Tohru is meets another Sohma in a shocking way when Yuki’s older brother, Ayame, crawls into her clothing in his snake form.  Ayame’s visit is an attempt to get closer to his brother, but Yuki seems to dislike and resent him.  Ayame’s visit also brings a reunion  of the Madubachi Trio (The nickname of Shigure, Hatori and Ayame as a group in high school) and stories of their escapades when they were in school.

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As a series, Fruits Basket is fun and light, with a bit of sexual humor and the occasional homosexual undertone.  Ayame owns a dress shop that may be a  “>cosplay store, and may or may not be in love with Hatori.  Haru also makes a comment about Yuki being his first love.  There is also violence, some amount of mysticism and Tohru’s ancestor worship with her mom’s picture… a Japanese thing, I know.  But, all in all, the story, writing and artwork tickles my funny bone and Maggie loves reading it with me, which is one of the best thing about them :-)

YEAR ONE was Well Done :-)

Hello, everybody!  Before I get into my review of the movie Year One, I just want to let you know where I’ve been for the last couple months.  I found my way into the World of Warcraft and have been battling the forces of the Scourge and the Bich King to save Azeroth.  I’ve managed to get my main character, a Night Elf Druid named Nagaira to level 59 and my Death Knight named DameNagaira to level 62, but I’ve gotten a bit burned out on it… Azeroth will have to find another hero to save them for a while… lol.  Mags has even gotten into it, but she plays like a girl.  Her idea of playing WoW is to ride boats, trams and flights and to camp out in the inns.   She cries about having to kill the tigers, lions, wolves, killer bunnies… and she doesn’t like to read the quest info, so basically, she never levels and everything can kill her.  So, I made a Death Knight for her that we can share.  I’ll level her, and she can run around where she wants without worry of death and resurrection… and finding her body, which can be a long, painstaking process because she likes to jump off cliffs, boats and buildings I couldn’t figure out how to res with the spirit healer until a couple weeks ago.  

But… I’m back to reading and trying to make up for lost time.  I’ve finished 3 books and am almost done with two more while away.  I’ll get the reviews written up for them soon. :-)

YearOneSo, now for Year One

Year One is the result of a question posed by writer and director Harold Ramis:  How would a person with modern-day sensibilities and consciousness get along in a biblical-times society?  Particularly with the post-Christianity questioning and shifting ethics that is prevalent in many urbanites today.  The resulting cultural shock of the “enlightened chosen one,” Zed (played by Jack Black), and his side-kick friend, Oh (played by Michael Cera), as they find themselves thrust out of their caveman-village after Zed eats the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is hilarious.  In the span of 30 minutes or so, Zed and Oh witness the first fratricide when the meet Cain and Abel returning from their sacrifice, meet Lillith, the first lesbian, get sold into slavery, happen upon Abraham (played by Hank Azaria) as he’s about to sacrifice Isaac, get circumcised, travel to Sodom, join the city’s guard… only to end up as slaves, again.  Yet through it all, Zed continues to insist he’s been chosen by God or “the gods” (he’s not sure which, just sure He or they aren’t female,) and Oh rolls his eyes and plays “Sancho Panza” to Zed’s “Don Quixote.”

This movie has a good mix of a fabulous cast who have great chemistry together, irreverent and iconoclastic humor, smart writing and pop-culture references (at one point, Oh chants, “Yes, we can!” and I nearly fell off my chair with laughter.) 

There were several surprises when I watched the behind-the-scenes segment on the DVD.  I was shocked when I found out that Oliver Platt had played the effeminent, pedophiliac high priest.  I never even recognized him!      I also hadn’t recognized Harold Ramis in the role of Adam, nor had I realized Isaac was played by the same actor who played McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).  In Year One,  Mintz-Plasse has long head-banger-like hair and is sans glasses, and Isaac, his character, is a kinda Heeb-wigger gangsta-wannabe (“I can see why his dad wanted to kill him,” Zed says at one point.)  Also a cast surprise was David Cross as Cain.  The whole time I watched the movie I kept trying to place the actor, and was convinced he was one of the Geico Cavemen, only to find out he played the only part of the Chipmunk movie I liked:  Uncle Ian.  I am still not completely convinced he didn’t play a Caveman.

One of my FAVORITE parts of Year One wasn’t even in the movie.  In the special features section of the DVD is a fantastic little 2 minute video called “Leeroy Jenkins:  The Gates of Sodom.”  It’s a Year One‘s take on the now immortalized WoW raid.  They even address the two raging factions (seriously, there ARE people bitter and angry at each other over this!):  At the end of the clip, did Leeroy Jenkins huff “At least I AIN’T chicken” or did he brag “At least I HAVE chicken?”  (Of course Isaac plays Leeroy… he did a Leeroy move in the movie, too, that got Zed and Oh in trouble while he ran off yelling, “Peace out, SUCKAS!”)

Things I could’ve lived without… they do go a bit far with the poop and pee jokes, but those are the same scenes that my 15 and 17 year olds repeat again and again… and again.  Also, there are sexual references and innuendos throughout the movie (they spend half of it in Sodom, you know, so you might find yourself barraged with uncomfortable questions by younger children… “Why is that girl eating a banana like that?  Why does that boy like watching her?  What does she mean, she likes to have sex with girls?  What is sodomy and why is it the best thing?”) and, at one point, Cain cajoles Oh’s desire to save himself for the girl he loves by saying, “What transpires within the confines of the walls of Sodom, stays within the confines of the walls of Sodom.”

Oh, a little funny side thought here…  Michael Cera played Paulie Bleeker, the hapless, accidental father-to-be to Ellen Page‘s Juno in the award-winning 2007 film Juno, and in Year One, his character Oh’s love interest, Eema, is played by British actress Juno Temple.  Just thought that was neat. ;-)

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