Tainted by Brooke Morgan

Tainted by Brooke MorganTitle:  Tainted

Author:  Brooke Morgan

Paperback:  429 pages

Published:  2009

ISBN:  9780061853371

Challenges:  ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge

… she worried whether Katy was normal and totally adjusted.  Did she laugh enough?  Was she too introspective?  To serious?

She’d obviously had fun digging the clams, so she was clearly capable of joy; she just didn’t jump up and down and let herself go wild very often.  Was that bad?…

How do you ever know as a mother?  There are landmines everywhere, waiting to blow up in your face.  Am I too strict?  Not strict enough?  Should I tell Henry, for example, that he really has to stop swearing in front of her or is that being overprotective and silly?  Will Katy be sitting in a shrink’soffice some day, blaming me fo everything wrong in her life?  Will she make the same mistakes I did?

-Tainted by Brook Morgan, pages 21-22

First off, I’d like to thank Trish of TLC Book Tours for inviting me to join the Tainted virtual book tour :-)

Tainted by Brooke Morgan is about a young single mother, Holly Barrett, who has always been the wallflower and shy friend of the more gregarious Anna.  Holly got pregnant with Katy the first, and only, time she had sex and the father, Anna’s ex, ran as fast and far away as he could.  Two years after Katy’s birth, Holly’s parents died within days of each other, leaving Holly with a sense that the world is full of pain and she has virtually no control in it.  Henry, her 75-year-old grandfather, Anna, Katy and the Cape Cod house that had been her summer home growing up is her entire world.

Enter Jack Dane.  Tall, handsome and English, Jack is “faintworthy” and Holly is quickly swept away by his charm and he provides her with a sense of safety; he fast becomes a part of every aspect of her life.  He, too, has lost both of his parents.  By all appearances, Jack is Mr. Perfect.  But is he really this good? Or is he keeping dark and dangerous secrets?  Is he really Prince Charming? or a monster in disguise?

Tainted by Brooke Morgan is a slow cooker and an unassuming book.  I really like how Morgan has really captured the sensitivity and worries of the “dating” single mom, and that of worry-worry-worry that goes along with motherhood (sometimes I wonder if worry is the force that drives our engines as mothers!).  I also love Henry, Holly’s grandfather, who reminds me of a few grizzled souls whom I love dearly.  Not one to want to be called “Gramps” because it made him seem infantile and incapable, nor “Grandfather” because it made him seem ancient, he’s always went by just “Henry” but hasn’t lost the effect of his role as a grandparent by this choice. 

Confession time:  I haven’t finished this book yet, but I fell in love with it after the second or third chapter.  I’d have to say that Holly is my literary twin, and I can completely relate to her.  Jack is still Mr. Perfect where I’m at in the book but, to tell you the truth, he has a really Dexter-feel to him.  The dog didn’t like him, and I’m waiting for him to go on some murderous rampage.  Or bodies to turn up, at least.  He’s too nice, and people who are always nice are creepy and are hiding something.  It pulls me along and I hafta-HAFTA read the next page.. the next chapter… and before I know it, 50 pages have gone by.

Of course, since I haven’t finished it  yet, I’ll reserve rating it for now, but I’m definitely loving it :-)

If you’d like to check out other reviews, here’s a list of fellow tour hosts:

I’m Booking It
All About {n}
Savvy Verse & Wit
Café of Dreams
Clever Girl Goes Blog
Dolce Bellezza
The Literate Housewife
Life in the Thumb
Bookworm With a View
Cozy Little House

Off My Butt and Back to Work

Okay, so I’ve been a bit lazy of late.  I blame it all on LOST, truly.  It’s not all LOST’s fault, but I’m blaming all of it on the show anyway. :-D

Mags and I have been rewatching the past seasons, we’re about halfway through season 2 now, and it’s “brother” everything around here right now.  “Are you going to school, brother?  Don’t forget your backpack, brother.  Do you have Math Bowl after school, brother?  Or cheerleading, brother?”  Meh, she rolls her eyes at me and says, “Mom, stop it.”  but I know she loves it.  I know she laughs as soon as she leaves and is just too cool to give a chuckle in my presence.

We’re also almost done with Stargate SG-1, and working our way through Atlantis as they were televised concurrently.  LOST and Stargate, it’s all their fault.  Seriously, though, I’m loving Stargate Atlantis so much more than SG-1 right now for two reasons: 1) The Ori really suck as bad guys, honestly.  The Goa’uld were such better baddies… not to mention beatable.  I just don’t see us kicking much Ori butt and it’s a bit depressing. and Atlantis have Wraiths to fight (and now we’re getting the Pegasus Galaxy’s version of the Replicators… meh).  Wraiths are creepy/cool/bad/ugly-but-beautiful aliens who suck the life from their victims with “mouths” in their palms.  The SECOND reason that Atlantis is better than SG-1 (at least the last two or three seasons of the show) is:

Ronan Dex

OMG… Faint!  He’s soo HAWT!  He’s played by Jason Momoa, who’s okay, but I totally have a character crush.  He fiercely guards his friends (even McKay, lol), loves deep, and has honor and integrity I wish could be found in more people.  AGAIN… lol… Maggie rolls her eyes a LOT when we watch Atlantis.  She really hates it when I lick the TV screen.

*Sigh* have to wait until the mail comes tomorrow for more Atlantis.

Which is some of the other things that has been capturing my interests, btw.  There’s fairly good evidence that the “Lost City of Atlantis” was actually Minoa, which experienced severe destruction after being repeatedly swept over by wave after wave of a powerfuls tsunami when the iland volcano that is now Santorini in the Agean sea suffered a mega eruption 10 times that of Krakatoa which blew out it’s cauldera.  80-90% death toll, and whoever was left were slaughtered in the invasion of the Peloponnese Greeks, who were possible the only major empire in the eastern Mediterranean Sea to have remained unaffected by the disaster.  Cool, eh?

Then there’s the whole science of “free energy” that I’ve been studying up on.  The Hutchison effect has got to be one of the most bizarre phenomena I’ve ever seen.  Through the manipulation of energy, they’re able to transmute substances into unknown elements, levitate objects, and even cause a sudden and instantaneous death on the cellular level.  It’s totally weird and completely real.  It’s quite possible that we could see the elimination of need for fossil fuels, except for two things… DOLLARS and EGOS.  DOLLARS, because energy barrons are NOT going to allow any kind of invention that would allow us to go off-grid.  Simply put, “If I can’t slap a meter on it, then I won’t fund it” as J. P. Morgan told Tesla.  As to EGOS, well…  The mainstream, “accepted” scientific experts have ranted a lifetime against the idea that energy could be free (because they’re paid by BARRONS to “research” such claims) and if such a shift were to occur in our understanding, then they’d have to admit they’re wrong.  OMIGOD!  Nooooz!  The universe would implode from the sudden intake of breath!

Then of course there’s the whole Paradox of Choice that will keep us bound to environment-polluting, resource-sucking fossil fuels.  Basically, if it requires making a decision in our modern world full of 175 different salad dressings and over 200 choices of breakfast cereal, we become paralyzed and, instead of making an informed decision, we opt for inaction. 

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Then I realized this morning that I’d totally missed the PUSH deadline.  Crap.  LOL…  So I’ll be getting the entries compiled and getting a winner picked quickly.   So you get an extended chance to enter.  I have a review of Tainted by Brooke Morgan to post tomorrow, so I’ll get the winner picked for Thursday then.  I’ve been such a slacker! 

I think part of my problem has been that I was pushing myself too much and it sucked all the fun out of everything.  I think I’d rather enjoy the books I’m reading than “get them done”.   Okay… back to finish Tainted now :-)

Snow, Pain, and Birthdays

This week has been a poop-fest with the sky having diarrhea and dumping the white poo all over the place.  I guess I can’t complain too-too much, at least I’m not on the east coast.  I’ve only got 14 or so inches here, they’re getting almost 3 foot before it’s all done.  But 14 inches is enought to cause 2 days of no-school and, so far, a delay this morning.  So with the chil’uns at home, I can’t read, can’t think, and my computer is not my own. 

Ah, and I’m still depressed over the not-so-Superbowl let down.  Honestly, I’m more depressed about the commercials than anything.  Seriously, if that’s the best they could come up with, what’s the future going to hold?  Is there anything left to live for?  Maybe I should look at the whole end-of-the-world-in-2012 stuff with hope, rather than scoffing at it.  Yay, Indianapolis will host the last Superbowl in history (it’s the host city in 2012).  Maybe that’s what will cause the end of the world.  I’ll prognosticate that the Cubs will win the 2012 Series, too.  Rosie O’Donnell will marry the Donald by Thanksgiving of 2012.  And the Democrats and the Republicans will shake hands, set aside all differences and plan for true bipartisanship as they look ahead to the first woman president (oh, let’s just say Sarah Palin, that’ll give everyone some fun) being sworn in in the coming January, 2013.  Of course the world would end in 2012.

Oh, the malaise goes deeper.  Mags came home sick on Monday and finally started feeling better yesterday.  At least with the snow days she’s not been counted absent.  And then Tuesday evening I started feeling an infection setting in in a broken lower tooth.  OMG, I’m looking forward to getting my insurance issues settled out so I can take care of that, but in the meantime I’m using some antibiotics that my oldest daughter had been prescribed last year (the doc switched her to a different antibiotic after a day, so it’s a full bottle).  Lower teeth pain is about the worst, I think.  There’s just no where for the stuff to go, so it causes ear ache, jaw-hinge pain, and sore throat.  And I just want to die.

Seems an apprapo feeling given the day.  Perfect timing, I must say.  It was on this day, 11 years ago, that I had the same “I wanna die” feeling caused by pain… just before they slipped in the epidural.  Yes, on February 11, 1999, Booger made her way into the world.  And the school system has given her a “go ahead and sleep in” birthday present.  Oh, for the days of cupcakes, but apparently “healthy foods” rules now prohibit parents bringing in good-treats for their kids to celebrate their special days with their classmates.  I could buy pre-packaged snack cakes and bring them, they have to wait until they get home to eat them, but why?  It sucks the fun out of taking a break from your work, wishing Maggie Happy Birthday, and sinking their teeth into a lovely sugary-cake treat, before going back to work.  I’m glad I’m not a kid, they have it hard nowadays.  I remember when we didn’t take ourselves so seriously.

Oh well, hopefully I can get back into the groove soon.

TSS ~ (not so) Super Bowl Sunday

Sigh.  Double Sigh.  Yay saints.  Second best team in the NFL won the (not so) Super Bowl this year, but y’all have  a nice story and all.  Drew, the broke-down QB signed by the broken city.  And now ya got the win. Yay.  I guess if the Colts had to lose, and honestly I don’t think they even tried, anyone who watched the game would think the same thing, then gifting the game to the saints, wrapped up all nice with a pretty bow, is not the worst thing ever.  At least it was the Colts gifting the game and not the Pats.  Yes… I’m still upset by the game and so a bit of snark is going the saints way.  I do give it up to y’all:  The onside kick was a good move, you made a good choice challenging the conversion call (which you ended up NOT needing the extra 2 points anyway), you did give the Colts a good run-around, and the interception just broke our blue hearts beyond recovery. 

All that said, it was one of the worst and most forgetable Superbowl events in recent history.  The game was mediocre with nothing to commit it to memory, well.. I guess the onside kick was a first successful 3rd quarter one in SB history, but other than that, it was a big yawn.  Worse than the game, which can’t really be helped much, was the commercials and the halftime show.  Honestly, it was like a big CBS plug show.  How many commercials for the company’s own shows were played?  Then, to top it off, the geriatric performance of the Who, who played a “best of CSI theme songs” medley.  Bah and double Bah!  Even the lone Clydesdale commercial was lame.

It was all so pathetically sad that I had to wander over to my best friend, the You Tube, for some comfort and solice.  Here are a few of my favorite commercials of SuperBowls past.

Pigeons have been great stars of Superbowl adds.  I remember the second one here from when I was a teenager, I think.  Now THAT’s a good ad.

Cats, too, have played great stars in superbowl commercials.  I laugh hard and loud everytime I watch the first one here.

This one has local ties, and is another one I laugh at everytime I watch it.

By far, my favorite Superbowl commercials are the Clydesdales.

A few other favorite ads:

One of the ONLY good commercials this year: 

Oh, almost forgot!

Thanks @bookaliciouspam for the NOOOoooo! button.  The Saints had me using it hard.  Go ahead, give it a try :-D

Okay.

I think I feel better now.

Congratulations, New Orleans.  Good game.  Here’s to hoping for the win next year, Colts.  Drew Brees (grats on MVP) was a Purdue graduate, and Tracy Porter is a Hoosier, so I guess it’s still an Indiana win.  And if Colts had won, the NOLA could claim a piece, too, since Manning is from there.  I think the best quote about the game I’ve heard is Caldwell’s succinct comment, “The Saints played a good game and we didn’t.”

Kyo-Kun the Krazy Kitten!

Back in November, I wrote about how our newest kitten followed us home and became part of our family.  We named him Kyo-Kun, and he has settled into being the TURD of the house.  By that, I mean to say that I hear, “Stop that, you turd!” from the other room several times a day.  He absolutely adores Maggie, and likes to attack her sisters (that’s where the TURD comments come in).  He lies in wait, hidden from view, virtually invisible, and then jumps out… claws extended… and grabs Sam or Gwen’s rear ends when ever they walk by.  He tried it on me once…. ONCE.

Sleeping Kyo

Doesn't he look so sweet and innocent here? What a deception!

This little boy is a weird one, let me tell you.  I have witnessed him doing peculiar things like:

One day, he was sitting on the bottom shelf of the microwave cart when our gray tabby, Princess Leia, walked by.  Kyo climbed out and stood up on his hind legs, front legs raised above his head and paws opened wide, and then WALKED quickly over to Leia on his hind legs and attacked her.  It was bizarre to watch him do that, like a human kid doing a monster-gonna-get-you walk.  I wished I had THAT on camera.

This funny little boy also will walk over to the trash can, again walking on hind legs, and watch what I’m throwing away.  What, is he the recycling monitor?  Is he making sure I’m not throwing away anything good?  Sometimes I think he thinks he’s a human.

smiling little boy

Look closely, this smiling little boy is gripping Maggie's homework in his paws, after shredding it for her.

Yes, this little boy loves his girl so much that he likes to “help” her with her homework.  By “help” I mean that he attacks her pencil everytime it moves (just try to write without the end of your pen or pencil moving, not so easy, is it!), he’ll stretch out on her workbook, or chew on her paper.  Of course, I suppose he wouldn’t do that if she’d do her work at the table instead of in my bed, but hey! there’s no TV in there.  Brat and Cat-Brat, let me tell you!
Kyo chewing on Mag's pencil eraser Kyo getting Mag's pencil

This little Brat-Cat has a special affinity for pencil erasers, and has chewed them off of about half of our pencils.  We’ll be down to using caps and the long red ones before long!

Kyo eating the earaser.

Honestly, I have to wonder if the erasers will give him indigestion.

 

None of that compares to his latest escapade.  Okay, now we all know that cat-dog relations are rarely better than tolerating each other living in the same vicinity and sharing the same people, but apparently Kyo has a particularly deep loathing of the canine species.  So how does a cat like him express his detestation?  Puff up and hiss?  Not very effective.  Get in a few open-pawed swipes to the smelly-dog’s nose to the a satisfying sounds of painful yelps?  While fun, just not EVIL enough.  I know, drop bombs on the thing’s head while it sleeps.  YESSSSSS!

Kyo and the ARC-alanche pile

Here sits the EVIL Kyo, amidst my ARC-alanche pile... directly above Missy's bed.

Oh, yes… the cat has figured out a few things.  GRAVITY is a bitch.  BOOKS are heavy and have SHARP corners.  and that DOG sleeps directly below this stack of books.  Cue the evil cat laugh now!

Maggie and I watched him a few mornings ago sit up here like this, look over the edge to spy a sleeping Missy below, and then take his paw and shove ONE book at a time off in hopes that his aim was true.  I am NOT making this up.  The TURD looked over the edge AGAIN after dropping 3 bombs down to see if Missy was still there and if he’d done any damage.  Maggie and I just stared at each other and back to him, disbelieving he could’ve actually worked all that out.  The CAT sat there SMILING.  I’m serious!  HE WAS SMILING. 

Kyo hiding behind the ARC-alanche pile, waiting for Missy.

Is that DOG asleep yet?

I did get a couple of videos, but the lighting is bad here for videos at night.  Then uploading it to YouTube has made it even darker, so forgive the quality of the video.  I’m still learning :-)  Maggie had an orange feather and was playing with Kyo. Kyo had been jumping all over to get it, but, of course, when I brought out the camera, he quit. Maggie did get him to do it a couple times more here.

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Okay, I gotta give Missy her chance for a rebuttal… equal time, and all that.  So here she is, waiting outside Hardee’s for me to get her food and come back out.

Have a great weekend :-)

FFI- GO COLTS!!!

a heart

And…here we go!

1. I know _I’m in desperate need of a house elf, it’s a hot mess around here!_

2. _Just ask any kid, December is_ the longest month.

3. You can’t help but _feel sorry for Saints fans… everyone knows the COLTS are gonna win!_

4. _The Big Blue has a message for the Saints_; bring it on!

5. Where have you looked _for signs of Spring?  Did you know I heard some robins singing the other morning_?

6. _My middle daughter, she’s a big Michael Jackson fan, informed me that the DVD of “This Is It”_ is now available.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to _reading some more of James and the Giant Peach with Mags, sort the laundry, do the dishes and make some of my special recipe spaghetti (OMG, it’ll have meat in it, even!  It’s been so long since I had my special recipe)_, tomorrow my plans include _maybe breakfast out with Mags at White House, a visit to the library, shoe shopping with Gwen for the dance she wants to go to, and hopefully finishing James_ and Sunday, I want to _go to church, have fun at the library’s pre-Super Bowl party, then watch the COLTS WIN_!

you can find more Friday Fill-Ins here.

Also, don’t forget to check out my giveaway!  I’m giving away a copy of Push by Sapphire, and the more people sign up, the more prizes!  If 50 or more people enter to win, I’ll add $10 to spend on Amazon.com for the grand prize!

Fellowshippin’ with the LOTR Readalong Bunch

Lord of the Ring readalongWell, we are in our second month of the Lord of the Rings Readalong, andClare at The Literary Omnivore is our Fellowship of the Rings host.  Here’s her first set of questions:

  1. When did you first hear of The Lord of the Rings?
  2. Have you read The Fellowship of the Ring before?
  3. What’s your plan of attack, now that we’re dealing with more “mature” literature?
  4. Have you ever seen the movies? If so, do you think they’ll influence your reading? If not, well, why haven’t you seen them?

When did you first hear of The Lord of the Rings?

  Honestly, I don’t remember a time when I DIDN’T know of Tolkein and Hobbits and The Lord of the Rings.  I grew up in a household of readers, more than one being a total fantasy nut.  Let me put it to you this way… ONE of them even read stories of Merlin in Gaelic, even.  Yeah, he could tell you how the sorcerer’s name is spelled in it’s original form, but I can’t remember how, just that it was about 13 or so letters long.  Somewhere around the age of 8 or so, The Hobbit came out in cartoon form, with the Trilogy following suit. I watched those movies every chance I time one of them came on (that was before VCRs even, let alon DVDs and OnDemand).  Frodo, Bilbo, Gollum, orcs, Gandalf, etc… all these were as familiar to me as the names of my own family memebers, more so than some, even.

Have you read The Fellowship of the Ring before?

I thought I’d read the first quarter or so of it, but now that I’m reading it, none of it is familiar.  Once I finally got to Farmer Maggot’s scene, it was familiar, though, so maybe I did.  I’ve never read it through to the end, so it’s a first read for me, anyway.

What’s your plan of attack, now that we’re dealing with more “mature” literature?

You know, I don’t know what everyone means when they call this “mature” literature.  Does that mean slow? boring? work? bloody?  Long?  IDK what “mature” is and why it applies to the LOTR books, but my plan of attack on this book, and the rest of the trilogy, too, is to read the book an hour a day.  I’m into chapter 5 now, and they’ve just now spied the bald hill outside the Old Forest.  The Dark Riders have been pursuing them for quite  a while, but it’s not been as scary as the root scene in the movie, nor as intense as the chase to Bucklebury Ferry was in the movie, either.  Oh, and they’ve already met some elves and spent the evening with them in Woodhall.  Galindor seems to be a fascinating character whom I’d like to see more of, or again later, maybe.

Have you ever seen the movies? If so, do you think they’ll influence your reading? If not, well, why haven’t you seen them?

Yes, I have seen the Peter Jackson LOTR movies, of course, and have watched them more times than I can count (but probably not as much as I’ve watched the cartoons when I was a kid).  To an extent, of course they influence my reading; it would be impossible to not be influenced by them.  But here’s the thing about the movies:  I can thoroughly understand why fans of the book would HATE, HATE! with a passion the recent movie-versions.  The book is so far different from the movie’s story line that it’s about like two people writing about the same events, but from different POVs.  BUT… I understand why Jackson did what he did, too.  The pace of the book is very slow.  Almost 20 years pass between Bilbo’s farewell party and Frodo’s.  Also, the Dark Riders in the book have more of a sense of ill-ease, maybe a bit of suspense, but no where near the heighten sense of danger and DOOM they give off in the movie, at least not by the point I’m at right now.  There would just be no way you could make the movie be like the book without losing the audience’s interest.  I don’t think I would’ve liked the movies AT ALL if I’d read the books first.  I don’t know WHAT Jackson’s going to do with The Hobbit, to be honest, and I’m not sure I’ll like it, but I do still love the LOTR movies, still.

BTT- The Cold, an Award and a Giveaway!

btt button

The northern hemisphere, at least, is socked in by winter right now… So, on a cold, wintry day, when you want nothing more than to curl up with a good book on the couch … what kind of reading do you want to do?

When it’s really cold, I like get into my bed, snuggle up under my warm covers, and then read.  I’m not particular about the type of book, though I don’t think I’d read anything that required me to think.  The problem I have, however, is that I always fall asleep!

read other Booking Through Thursday answers here :-)

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I’d like to say thank you to Reagan at Miss Remmers’ Reviews for my first award for 2010.  It’s quite a lovely award, don’t you think?

Prolific Blogger Award

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

There are a couple of rules for this award:

  1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
  2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
  3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
  4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners.

Miss Remmers’ Reviews is one of the blogs that I first visited during Bloggiesta as part of the comment mini-challenge, and I enjoy Reagan’s posts, especially the Thesis Statement Video, which has the Thesis Statement Rap in it.  LOL! Had to put it in there :-)

Now for my magnificent seven nominees:

Care’s Online Book Club – While Care is currently UNPLUGGED, I enjoy reading her posts, particularly the Virginia Wolf ones (I argue I don’t like stream of conscious, and yet I loved Push.  Maybe I should give Ms. Wolf a shot, since it really was the movie The Hours that made me run from her.)  Looking forward to your return, Blogging Buddy :-)

Wrighty Reads – Debbie has great reviews and I enjoy her “So I was just wondering…” posts.  AND she’s a fellow left-hander ;-)  Lefties RULE!

Unfinished Rambler – Poor Unfinished.  He’s lost his favorite blog home, Humor-Blogs.com, and he’s been going through the various stages of grief about it.  I think he might be at acceptance now, but I’m not quite sure… He’s definitely still snarky about it, but he’s usually snarky anyway, which is one of the things I enjoy about his blogs.  Did you know Elvis is the janitor at his library?  He’s probably too cool for this award, but here it is all the same :-)

Lady Gwyn’s Kingdom – This is a fairly new-to-me blog, but quite enjoyable.  I found it through my Google Alerts.  She had “Reading Challenge” and Welsh on the same page, so Google thought it was the same as “Welsh Reading Challenge”… erm, not quite, but I’m glad for GA’s loose extrapolation, because I would have missed this one.  It’s a lovely blog, playing chamber music while you read reviews of books about Tudors and other royal members behaving badly (and some not so bad, too;-) ), books by Sharon Kay Penman, and you can read about what happened on this day in history, as well.

Reading In Color – Ari is probably another one who is too cool for this award (really, she is, go check her blog out :-) ), but it’s what I’ve got to show my appreciation for what she’s doing, so here ya go.  She’s working with Doret and Laura on a project to find the most diverse YA/MG publishing company, so if you have any ideas, pass it along!

Debbie’s World of Books – This is another great blog I first visited during the Bloggiesta mini-challenge, and I’ve enjoyed ever since.  Great reviews, fun memes, and I love the blog theme (purple’s my favorite color ;-) )

In Spring is the Dawn – Also a Bloggiesta find, Tanabata focuses a lot on All Things Japanese, whether that be in book or movie form, or the traditional music of Japan.  It’s fascinating to learn about translations, and her blog’s layout is fun and beautiful.

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Also, don’t forget to check out my giveaway!  I’m giving away a copy of Push by Sapphire, and the more people sign up, the more prizes!  If 50 or more people enter to win, I’ll add $10 to spend on Amazon.com for the grand prize!

PUSH Giveaway

It has been a long time since I’ve read a book that really spoke to me, inspired me and that I could really get behind and believe in.  Yeah, this book probably doesn’t need my help boosting it, but I HAVE TO SHARE IT.  And it’s been a long while since I had a giveaway here, and I’m dying to do another one.  So, here we go!

I want more people to read this book, so I’m giving away a copy of Push by Sapphire.

Push by Sapphire Giveaway

If I get over 20 entries, I’ll give away a second copy.  Over 50, and I’ll give away 3 copies, and a grand prize winner will also get a $10 gift certificate for Amazon.com.

Rules.. gotta have ‘em.

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what book has inspired you for your official entry.
  2. Go and read my review of Push and leave a comment for an additional entry.
  3. Tweet about the giveaway using @thekoolaidmom for another entry.
  4. Blog about it for another entry.
  5. Do all four of these and get an extra entry, for a total of 5 chances to win.

The contest is open internationally, and ends at 11:59pm on February 17th.

PUSH by Sapphire

Push by SapphireTitle:  Push

Author:  Sapphire

Paperback:  192 pages

Published:  1996

Acquired:  bought new from Walmart

Challenges: New Author Challenge 2010, We Didn’t Start the Fire 2010 (AIDS), POC Reading Challenge

I don’t have nothing to write today – maybe never.  Hammer in my heart now, beating me, I feel like my blood a giant river swell up inside me and I’m drwoning.  My head all dark inside.  Feel like giant river I never cross in front me now.  Ms Rain say, You not writing Precious.  I say I drownin’ in river.  She don’t look me like I’m crazy but say, If you just sit there the river gonna rise up drown you!  Writing could be the boat carry you to the other side.  One time in your journal you told me you had never really told your story.  I think telling your story git you over that river Precious.

I still don’t move.  She say, “Write.”  I tell her, “I am tired.  Fuck you!”  I scream, “You don’t know nuffin’ what I been through!”  I scream at Ms Rain.  I never do that before.  Class look shock.  I feel embarrass, stupid; sit down, I’m made a fool of myself on top of everthing else.  “Open your notebook Precious.”  “I’m tired,” I says.  She says, “I know you are but you can’t stop now Preciuos, you gotta push.”  And I do.

-Push by Sapphire, pages 96-97

wow.  I mean really, WOW.

Push by Sapphire is a book of truth.  It is raw, heart-breaking, and hard.  It is inspiring, hope-filled, naked and honest.  It is not the kind of book that will appeal to everyone, not that happy beach book many want, it is stark and dark and real and beautiful.  It could’ve been exploitative, could’ve been depressing and hopeless, could’ve so easily become an anti-white, anti-men rant, but Sapphire managed to weave the story together, as told by the main character, Precious Jones, into an emotional tale of how education can give hope for a chance at freedom and a better life.

I knew a bit about the story from the movie based on the book, Precious.  I haven’t yet seen the movie (are you kidding?  There’s no way the theater owner of our little 2-screener would’ve had THAT movie in HIS place!  Heck, he wouldn’t bring in a Tyler Perry movie, and they’re funny with a little “let’s get real” on the side), so I have to way until it comes out on DVD next month (already in my Netflix queue), but I have seen the trailers and watched the interviews and heard the awards buzz about it.  From the few scenes I’ve seen, and after reading the book, the movie should win every award it could qualify for, and if it doesn’t, I’ll be irate.  I also knew about this book from seeing it being checked out… always out and never in… at the library, and from reading Kathy at Bermudaonion’s review back in December.

So when I wandered (drifted mindlessly, to be more accurate) to the book section at Walmart the day before yesterday and saw it on the shelf, it was in my cart before Maggie could say, “No more books, MOM!”  Now, my policy for buying new books at full price is that it HAS to be a book I will read immediately.  Not next month or next year, but this week or sooner.  I was already several pages into Push before I left the store, and finished a little more than 24 hours after buying it.  Push is the kind of book that, as soon as you put it down, you pick it back up and start reading again, forgetting why you’d put it down in the first place.  The kind of book you forget to eat because it’s so engrossing.  I could barely go to the bathroom, and would worry and wonder what was going on with Precious while I was gone from her.  It will, without a doubt, be one of my top 10 books of 2010, and on my favorites list forever.

Okay, so enough gushing….  Let’s deal with the book itself.

One of the first things I got out of Push, was the realization of what it was, exactly, that I’d hated about The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine.  Both Precious and Batuk narrate their respective stories through writing in a journal.  Both books deal with the loss of innocence, sexual abuse, the sacrifice of the child by a parent, animosity between mother and daughter, and that education is the only hope and chance of escape.  But where they differ greatly is in the voice of the narrator.  Precious is pissed.  She’s upset, emotional, and expresses her sense of injustice at the terrible hand life has dealt her.  WHY? is her question over and over.  And understandably so; you expect these feelings.  Batuk, on the other hand, falls flat.  She’s accepting of her situation, barely registers emotion, occassionally expresses that she misses her father (the same man who sold her) and waxes nostalgic for the past.  Aarti of B O O K L U S T tweeted that she felt Batuk was a strong character, but I never saw any strength in her.  I do, however, agree that the overall voice of The Blue Notebook was despair and hoplessness, as Batuk knew she could never escape the situation.

Another thing I can tell you, with personal authority, is that the feelings and experiences Precious expresses from the standpoint of being an incest survivor is very real and very true.  There are things that Precious says about the sex with her father that are difficult for a child to wrap their own head around, let alone have the courage to say outloud, even in a journal.  Things like the shame you feel at feeling physical pleasure during this situation that you know in every fiber of your being is WRONG.  It’s one of the things that totally screws up the person’s ability to relate sexually for the rest of their life.  Also, Precious’s reference to genitals, hers as well as others, reflects how deeply incest survivors view their own objectification as a sex object.  “I am of no value nor worthy of love except through sex.”  is the personal worth statement of many, no matter how long it’s been since the last occurance (it’s been over 10 years for me, and he’s now dead, and yet it still that thought pervades), and the longer the abuse went on, the more pervasive and rooted that feeling becomes.

Besides the sensitive subject of molestation and the emotional affectation of the book, there is also the racial side of things.  This is where my brain spent more time, because it’s the only part I don’t share with Precious (well, that and I didn’t have children by my abuser).  I would say, “I hope I don’t offend anyone,” but then would holding back in an attempt to be non-offensive honor my Flavor of the Week, Amy, or create dialogue?  No, it would not.  So let the offense commence!

Push by Sapphire – on Race and racism

This review may become my longest ever (except The Book Thief, and may surpass that and the companion post), but I don’t care.  It deserves the length and the discussion.  Let’s get real, as Dr. Phil says.

Precious has a poster on her wall of the famous leader of The Nation of Islam, and often refers to him as the only real man she knows.  One of his sentiments that she echos more than once is, “problem is not crack but the cracker” (page 83).  I will heartily admit there are far more white people who have put their feet on the back of the neck of blacks throughout history than have helped, but maybe I’m naive in hoping things are better now than before.  I grew up in with a racist father who told offensive jokes and used the N word often, though he was not as bad as a lot of my friends parents.  It’s the way things were then.  It should NOT have been, and it was wrong, but it was what it was.  I’ve done my best to free myself from all that biggotry and to unlearn the prejudice, but it’s still something I’m aware of.  My hope is that my children will never think multiculturalism an oddity, but that it comes as natural to them as sunshine and breathing.

As the story progresses, Ms Rain, Precious’s teacher, shows her that not ALL Farrakhan’s ideas are right, like his anti-semitism and anti-homosexual beliefs, and Precious understands and sees her point.  She still hangs on to him as an inspiration and hero, citing him in her poem at the end of the book “Get up off your knees, Farrakhan say”, which I think is maturity in anyone.  As I’ve gotten older, read more, and learned more, there’s one thing I’ve come to understand about people.  We want a quick and easy, singular answer.  Life is anything but that, though, and no one person has the answers to everything, nor is he or she right all the time.  You have to sift and take away what’s worthy and leave the rest.  Most of the people you glean from aren’t good or bad, but a mixture of the two, and we must see their humanity and avoid the temptation to adulation or hate.

Other moments in the book that show the sense of distrust and dislike of whites are things like Precious’s feelings in the school counselor’s office, or the social worker’s office in the halfway house.  Precious, as well as the others in her class, express distrust, fear, and blame the white people in charge of her case.  This, I think, is the sentiment that sticks in my heart and throat as I try to wrap my head around it and put myself in her shoes.  Everywhere Precious would turn, there is a white wall blocking her escape.  No one stepped in to take her out of the situation after her first baby was born.  Who stood up to help her learn to read?  Where was the teacher when Precious was having such emotional problems (other kids in the class, her mother’s abuse at home, and the main start of the sexual abuse) in the second grade that she was wetting her pants?  Ugh!  I can understand the blame and anger she feels toward whites, and it breaks my heart to know I myself, my kids included, are judged the same, though we would NOT be like that.

And maybe it’s that that makes the racism in this book painful.  I’m being judged by the color of my skin, too, and it isn’t fair – it is never fair.  And with that thought, I have to bump Push by Sapphire up another notch, because reading it has given me a glimpse at what it feels like for African-Americans all the time, and they can’t close their book at “The End”.  They live it all the time, while I get to go back to being white in a white world.

I really love this book and, but for the explicit language and the mature subject matter, think it should be read by everyone.  Okay, so it’s not likely to be a classroom read for a high school, but definitely a college study.  I wish I’d known about it when I was in college, I could’ve had another 13 years of mulling it over and letting it work through me.  Of course, obviously, I give Push by Sapphire 5 out of 5 stars.

Here is the author Sapphire in an interview with Katie Couric discussing the journey of the book Push to the movie Precious

And, I couldn’t resist a trailer for the movie.. k, now I’m weepy.

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