Push Winners, Hibernatin’s Over, and I’m Gonna Kill That Darn CAT!

Kyo-monster!LOL…  Why is it when the little, adorable, champagne tabby kitten followed us home, everything he did was cute and funny, but now that he’s become a nearly-grown tyrant it’s… well, not so much?  Somewhere in the last month, after picking up the books he shoved off to bomb the dog for the 32nd time, or picked up the broken bits of some irreplaceable dollar-store figurine that he shoved off, or tried to find a pencil that didn’t have the damn eraser chewed off, his little antics stopped being quite so funny.  Everyone walks around with shoes on, covering their heinies, in fear of the tabby terror and his 20 claws that come flying out whenever you least expect it. 

OH, and here’s a really good one for you:  The smarty-pants can open up the metal tin that we keep their food in.  I’ve had this tin for about 20 years and no cat has ever opened it before, but KYO-monster can and does often.  He also likes to perch on the middle sash of the windows and watch the birds, which means there’s this horrid scrabbling noise and a galumph! that I am compelled to investigate and make sure nothing’s destroyed.  So much for the idea his little vest keeps him on his best manners.

And the monster will eat anything.  ANYTHING.  Especially if one of the kids is currently eating it.  I’ll be in my room, reading (snicker, yeah… we’ll go with that) and I’ll hear a scream from the other room, followed by “KYO!  GET OUT OF MY FOOD!  YUCK!  Now I have to get another bowl of cereal.  STUPID CAT!”  And I wonder why my grocery bill has gone up since his arrival.  It was cute when he was eating a nibblet or two of corn that fell from the table, “Awww, look!  Kyo likes corn!  Isn’t that funny?”  But now that he thinks he’s the KING of the house, it’s not nearly as “funny” when he jumps up on the table, landing (as planned, I have no doubt) squarely in your food.  “It’s got hair in it now, must be MINE  =^.^= ”  What a BRAT!

But we still love the little Booger (oddly enough, that’s Mag’s nickname, too… Booger… and he’s her cat, so it makes sense he’d BE one).  And I have to say with this last month’s general malaise, I’ve appreciated the distractions.  Ah, lovely February.  I think it’s the worse month of all for my Seasonal Affected Disorder.  I just start feeling like the sun will never come back, it’ll never get warm again, and why bother.  I read two and a half books in February.  I did finish Tainted, by the way.  It kinda felt a little long and by the last 100 pages or so I was skimming to see what happened next.  All I have to say is, NOW I know why I don’t date!  Dang!  And the last line of the book, I think, was the most frightening of all.  YIPES!

I also read Graceling and want to re-read it again.  I haven’t wanted to read anything since because I just loved it too much.  I don’t want to pick up Fire now because I know Katsa and Po aren’t in it.  I hope Cashore writes another book with them in it.  I’m sure there’s more than enough story to go forward.  Bitterblue’s rule could give plenty of material.  I have a feeling she’d become a graceling, she just had that kind of feel to her.

And I’m behind on the Lord of the Rings readalong.  I don’t want to leave Tom Bombadil :-(  Endings and leaving great characters are depressing.  But the sun is shining, my windows are open and the spring birds are back, so maybe I can finally quit hibernating and get back into a routine, not to mention eating better… I feel so icky from it all.

OKAY…. so I’m only about three weeks late with the winners for the Push giveaway, but here we go.  There was a total of 29 entries, and of those there were about 15 unique entries, but I’m going ahead and giving away two copies since it’s taken me so long to get off my lazy behind and do it.  So the winners, chosen by number at Random.org, are:

5.  Sue who said, “I have a couple that inspire me… Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.”

7.  Marci who wrote, “The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd has inspired me. I love her ease of writing style and her word choices.”

Congrats to the winners!

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!

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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