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.

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. ;-)

SBG daily ~ Right Place, Right Time

SBG coverBusy busy busy!  I’ve just hooked up my new birthday computer and ordered Pizza Hut for supper.  My hands were filthy from all the dust bunnies that had collected in the old computer and under all the snakes (wires).  I took off the cover on the old tower and cleaned all the dust and fuzz out of it, which must’ve been at least an inch thick.  Maybe that’s why it was running slow?  THIS is the first post written on my new computer, and I must say YAY!! :-)

So, today’s Something Beyond Greatness daily post is a continuation of yesterdays, or rather, an expounding of it.  In the book, the authors give a formula for greatness.  One part is the ability to see with love, to see the person you’re helping as a person belonging to you in some way.  For instance, when you see the commercial of the child scrounging through the garbage for dinner, do you see a child who needs help and are moved to do something?  Or, and this is the category I fall in, do you see a camera crew who has dinners provided, a host trying to convince you to send him (or her) money so they can “help” them (they’ll give a kid a sandwich, and take the rest of the money to Rio, I bet).  Okay, so the commercials don’t work on me, but I help the missions at church and “adopted” a child or two in Uganda and Brazil.

A second part of the equation is what I talked about yesterday, Instrument Consciousness.  Being open and willing to be used to do a kind act.  I ran into the house, even though it was on fire, and pushed the people out the door.  The third part is that of Destiny, fate, or the design of the supreme being, God’s Will.  Being in the right place at the right time.  This is the part we’re discussing today.  It’s this part that’s the most humbling of the process and what makes a person an instrument and NOT a hero.

For a long time, and even now, so many things about that night just leaves me in awe… not of what I did, but of the odds that I was even able to help.   First off, I was on the phone with my mom at that time of night, because the cell service I had provided free calls after 9 at night.  That particular night, I was even later than normal to call because the kids were late to bed.  Normally, I would have been inside and in bed by then.  I was outside on the porch talking because I have a weird Bermuda cell zone in my house and I had to go outside to get reception.  I had moved my chair to where I was sitting because the door we had been using (our house has 2 front doors) had gotten stuck in the frame and we couldn’t use it and I had slid the lawn chair in front of the stuck door. 

Now, all that put me in the right spot on my front porch to see the glow of the fire between the houses across from me.  Six inches either way, and I would’ve only seen the houses.  AND it put me on the porch at the right time to have seen it.  Add to it that I’m nosy by nature and HAD to check out the weird light, and I was in the right place at the right time.

Now, at that time of night, the neighbors hadn’t noticed because first shift workers were in bed and those on the second shift were still at work and wouldn’t have seen it for another hour at least.  So, if I hadn’t been in that exact spot on my porch at that time, the kids whose bedrooms were on the second floor would’ve been overcome by smoke and possibly died, if they had had to wait for second-shifters to come home and call 911.

It’s all the what ifs and maybes, the overwhelming amount of coincidences (if you believe in coincidences like that) that humble me and leave me in awe.  I wasn’t a hero.  I was in the right place at the right time and I had no choice, I had to act.  I had to help.  To choose to walk away would’ve been unthinkable.  The lady hugged me and cried and held on to me for a good fifteen minutes.  In the end, there was no mention of me in the papers, no ceremony or parade in my honor.  I think the firemen who do that sort of thing ON PURPOSE as a career are real heroes.  The people going UP the stairs on September 11, 2001 while everyone was going down, away from the blazing, steel-warping inferno… those people are heroes.  People who join the military to protect their county and help to bring freedom to others, they are the real heroes.

So, has there ever been a time where you were in the right place at the right time to help someone?

Don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Something Beyond Greatness, and comment here for an extra entry

Something Beyond Greatness by Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine

SBG coverTitle:  Something Beyond Greatness:  Conversations With a Man of Science and a Woman of God

Authors:  Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine

Paperback:  122 pages

ISBN:  9780757307812

Pull up a chair and prepare to be inspired as the Something Beyond Greatness TLC Book Tour pulls in for a stop In the Shadow of Mt. TBR :-)

First off, I have to say that when I first read about this book, I was expecting something different.  I had understood it to be a book of tales of heroism in the face of danger, stories of people who stood up for what’s right without thought for the consequences, stories of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi and everyday people.  While it did have a few stories in it, it was more a book about the recipe for such people.

[Great acts have] three elements: (1)seeing with love, (2) acting from the heart, and (3) the mystery of destiny -right place, right time. -page 20

At first, I didn’t think this book was much.  At times it was difficult for me to retain what was being said, which may have to do with the fact it’s been hot and I had walked to the library in the heat to read it there.  But the crazy thing about it is that the info pops out and says boo! now as I’m watching the news, movies, or reading.  There’s this little voice in the back of my mind that analyzes events I encounter through what I’ve read.  AND the whole time reading it, every heroic act I’ve seen or heard or done popped up for application or proof of what I was reading.

The person who will step into greatness must see the others with love, compassion, and concern.  He or she will have a sense of “mine” towards them.  Then he or she must be able to sense or see the way through to help.  Third, this person must have the will to step out and do it.  Usually, this will is recalled by the person afterwards as more of a compulsion, “I just did what anyone else would do.”

Every human being writes a small page in history; every human being -irrespective of how big or how small- writes a small page.  That is real human history. -page 19

My first impulse was to give this book three stars, but after watching it ooze and stew and bubble, I’m thinking it’s much more effective than I first thought and I’m going to give Something Beyond Greatnessby Judy Rodgers and Gayatri Naraine 4 out of 5 stars.

Additional resources for this book are:

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And now, because I think this book is very much a worthwhile read… and, because I somehow got a second book :-)We’re gonna have  a giveaway for a new copy!

This giveaway will be open until 11:59 pm, Saturday July 4th, 2009 with the winner to be announced on next week’s Sunday Salon post (July 5th).  Contest is open worldwide :-D , as long as you’ve got an address for me to slap on the packaging, you’re welcome to enter!

  1. To enter, leave a comment here letting me know you’d like to win a copy.  This will count as your official entry.
  2. Each day this coming week I will be posting something pertaining to the book, one day will be about stories you’ve heard that inspired you, inspirational movies, acts of greatness you yourself have done or witnessed, etc.  When you comment on the daily posts, you’ll earn a bonus entry!
  3. Post this contest on your blog and leave the link here for an extra entry
  4. Tweet about it, make sure to use @koolaidmom so it’ll show up on my TweetDeck, or leave the link of your update, for an aditional bonus entry.
  5. If you do all the above, commenting everyday, blogging it and tweeting, that’ll be 8 entries and I’ll add 2 more as a bonus, giving you 10 chances to win :-) (This post is technically a Monday post for June 29th)

Good Luck!

Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

Title: Nim’s Island
 Author: Wendy Orr
Illustrator: Kerry Millard
Paperback: 125 pages
Publisher: Yearling
Publish Date: 1999
ISBN: 9780375811234

In a palm tree, on an island, in the middle of the wide blue sea, was a girl.

Nim’s hair was wild, her eyes were bright, and around her neck she wore three cords. One was for a spyglass, one for a whorly, whistling shell, and one for a fat red pocketknife in a sheath.

With a spyglass at her eye, she watched her father’s boat. It sailed out through the reef to the deeper dark ocean, and Jack turned to wave and Nim waved back, though she knew he couldn’t see.

Then the white sails caught the wind and blew him out of sight, and Nim was alone…

-page 5, Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr

Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr is a fun little tale of a girl named Nim and how she copes with being alone to care for herself when a sudden storm catches her marine biologist father at sea, damaging his boat and preventing his return. Equipped with the modern technology while living in an island hut, Nim answers her father’s email from Alex Rover, the reclusive and mysterious, world-famous adventurer and author.

After receiving Rover’s questions regarding coconuts floatablity and usefulness in building a raft (the planned escape for Rover’s hero in the next book), Nim helps answer Rover’s inquiry… glad of the diversion while her father’s away… and in the process developing a friendship with Rover.

However, as the days go by without the return of her father and an infected injury to her knee, Nim begins to rely more and more on her new friendship with her hero and writer, as loneliness and fear begin to set in. Compounding her emotional turmoil is the close call with the Troppo Tourists boat; the people inadvertently responsible for the death of Nim’s mother.

During her experience alone on the island, Nim takes comfort in the knowledge that the rugged, manly hero/adventurer/writer Alex Rover is only a click away for advice. So when she realizes Alex is an Alexandra, she is angry and feels tricked. Likewise, when Alex realizes Nim’s all alone on the island, and Selkie and Fred aren’t her brother and sister, but rather her pets, she is horrified and decides to fly to be with Nim, even though she is terrified of flying and open water.

Throughout the story, there is the wonder and worry about the dad’s return, Nim’s well-being, the island’s continued secret existence, and loneliness of all three main characters: Jack’s loss of Nim’s mother, Nim’s longing for a hands-on dad, and Alex’s reclusiveness.

I enjoyed this book, and loved the movie version by the same name. I actually saw the movie first, then later found out it was a book as well. The two are rather different, however, which often makes it possible to like both. Whereas the book deals with the Troppo Tourists’ discovery of the island in passing and Nim’s defense of it in a short segment, the movie’s main crisis isthe invasion of the tourists and Nim’s mounting an aggressive push of the unwanted vacationers.

In truth, I liked the movie better than the book, because there’s a lot more detail to the characters’ lives. Alex Rover is more agoraphobic… pretty much phobic of everything, really, so the struggle to “be the hero of her own life” is more intense. The movie’s Nim has more depth and is more like a real girl than in the book, with the attitude of a desire for independence that most preteens have. Also, the movie’s dad seems more like a caring and concerned parent desiring the safety of his daughter than the book’s more-or-less-absentee father.

I’d recommend Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr, particularly for girls ages 8-12. Maggie is rather into it, and is looking forward to finishing it. I’d give Nim’s Island three out of five stars.

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