The Finishing School

The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman

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The Finishing School – murder mystery? Coming of age story? This reminds me of an interview I heard with Marg Delahunty on CBC Radio recently!

An easy read with a somewhat predictable ending, yet she was pretty good at getting the reader to head down another path briefly.

Not wanting to spoil anything for anyone considering reading the book…

All I really want to say is how much it disturbs me that these kinds of scandals get covered up for so long in the real world. Speak up! Speak out! Inaction is only supporting the action whether or not you agree with it internally.


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Nineteen Eighty-four

Nineteen Eighty-four

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Nineteen Eighty-four

 

George Orwell was certainly ahead of his time. He envisioned a future much like it became. Although I find beyond the references to Big Brother and how surveillance physically took place that there is so much different (thankfully).

Manipulative Politics

Another very poignant and disturbingly familiar theme is that of manipulation. Politicians and Politics which usually aim to address the needs of society at the start, become more and more manipulative in nature as Government becomes more Knowledgeable and prescriptive in what is best for the People.

Citizen surveillance

It makes you wonder though – could we be headed down the path lead by Big Brother (thankfully NOT a reality TV show) since we are using technology that so closely resembles and in many way surpasses his visions of surveillance? OR can we learn from the book as well as from history and prevent the worst of it?

One thing is certain, Nineteen Eighty-four could have been written much more recently and would still become a classic.

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Company Town – a book response

Company Town

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Company Town is a book that reminded me of an Atwood style novel. A little challenging at first, but once the momentum gets going, very difficult to put down. The dystopian/futuristic theme is fascinating and creates great thought/discussion about issues of today as well. It reminded me also of the Hunger Games, which I didn’t read – but my girls did, and then insisted I watch the movies with them.

I read Company Town as part of my 50 Book Pledge, however I was drawn to it because it was also on Canada Reads for 2017. That said upon reading it, I wasn’t sure I’d ever recommend it as one of the books *everyone in Canada MUST READ today*.

I think there are some important themes addressed in the novel, but not as clearly as some others have done with them. I enjoyed this book and am thinking about which Atwood novel I should pick up next J

Kobo:

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The Way of Letting Go – a book response

The Way of Letting Go

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One Woman’s Walk toward Forgiveness

The Way of Letting Go crosses between memoir, and support/self-help, with a “healthy” dose of Christian advice including bible passages and teachings. I lost my momentum after the second “teaching” which was not what I was looking for in the book, but continued reading. The book came to my attention as a book about letting go of aspects of grief and became reminiscent of another book I’ve read about forgiveness. I was reminded of how many events in life result in a process of grief, including but not limited to death. And as always the important message being that choosing to let go and forgive is for yourself, not for the benefit of the person being forgiven. It’s not meant to become a clean slate upon which we set ourselves up for more grief. It’s intended to be a means of dealing with our grief in a healthier way. The individual being forgiven need never know, if you choose.

Kobo:

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Book list for 2017… (Books read so far)

I used to document each  book I’ve read and responses to them. I’d like to get back to that. Once I get caught up, I may work backwards and share some of the responses I’ve had to books I’ve already read this year.

Self Portrait, Reading, Book

To start I’ll share my book list read so far in 2017:

 

The Right to Be Cold, Sheila Watt-Cloutier

The Elephants in My Backyard, Rajiv Surendra

The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah

One Hour in Paris, Karyn L. Freedman

Quantum Night, Robert J. Sawyer

Fifteen Dogs, Andre Alexis

Better Than Before, Gretchen Reuben

The Postmistress, Sarah Blake

The Brightest Star in the Sky, Marian Keyes

The Art of People, Dave Kerpen

The Fibromyalgia Coach, Tami Stackelhouse

, Simon Sinek

Stones into Schools, Greg Morgtenson

Instant Mom, Nia Vardalos

Born a Crime, Trevor Noah

Why Men Lie, Linden MacIntyre

Take Back Your Life, Tami Stackelhouse

Punishment, Linden MacIntyre

Stolen Lives, Malika Oufkir

Safe Haven, Nicholas Sparks

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Stripped Down Running – Andrea Nair | a book response

Stripped Down Running, by Andrea Nair is a book that covers a pretty hefty topic, yet easy-to-read – I finished this novel in tears. Not one to cry often, especially at books or movies, that says a lot. This book really struck a chord with me.

 

Having a social work/services background, I enjoyed the realism portrayed in Hannah’s situation and appreciate Andrea’s efforts as a psychotherapist to illustrate the experiences of a childhood victim of sexual assault.

 

Hannah is a character that you can’t help but like, even through her worst. As she began her journey of healing, I found myself making comparative assessments of how I live my life. While our lived experiences were vastly different, much of the process engaged by Hannah is the same process we all must go through to become whole. We must identify and face our inner demons on our own. No one can tell us what they are or how to overcome them, only guide us through the process and provide a safe place to land.

 

My favourite line of the book is near the very end when Hannah tells her close friend about what she has been through (once she finally figured out what happened that had been buried deep within her psyche). Taja tells her: “…That’s all you have to do. Wake up, show up, breathe and just see what the wind blows in.”

 

Never have words struck me so poignantly. It’s that whole “Let go, and let God” or the power of putting out into the universe that which we wish, but then sitting back and taking time to BE. What is meant to come, will.

 

You can purchase Andrea’s book here:

 

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The Book Thief – To Be Read pile – 50BookPledge

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak

Unfortunately this book came up at a time when I was stretched thin and unable to remain focused. This was a book club read, but I was unable to finish it in time for our monthly meeting, and I didn’t want spoilers as I was really enjoying this read. So I missed out on food, wine and chit chat for June.

 

It’s such a great read, which I picked up intending to read with my children soon. The appeal for me is in the portrayal of life during the Holocaust from a perspective rarely heard about. Not only do we learn more about what it was like to be someone sympathetic to the cause of Jewish people during this time, but we also learn about how words were used to tear people down.

 

It was uplifting still, to become engrossed in the family (and extended family) life of the characters. To see how, even what was not necessarily a conscious decision to stand up against the Nazis, was still a dangerous choice… to simply stand for belief in humanity. What a terrible lesson to learn early in life: that showing compassion and caring for those most unfortunate is punishable and will turn many friends against you.

 

Through Liesel and her friendships we get a grasp of life and its lessons. Liesel is a likable character who has had a lot of tough breaks, beginning with being placed in foster care after losing her brother to illness during the train journey to the foster parents’ home. She grows to love her foster father especially, who shows her that the true compassion he has for her extends throughout life even to the Jews who are targeted by the Nazis. Her best friend Rudy is full of mischief and keeps her grounded in what childhood they have. Her Jewish friend Max teaches Leisel an appreciation for life even in both of their difficult positions. I especially like the relationship formed with the mayor’s wife who in her strange way encouraged Liesel’s love of books.

 

 

 

Drop me a note in the comments below, or connect with me on Twitter @ceilidhontherun, email me at trish at ceilidhontherun dot com, or use my contact form!

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Leaning into Sharp Points – 50BookPledge – Book 11

Leaning into Sharp Points ~ Dr. Stan Goldberg

practical guidance and nurturing support for caregivers

This is a response that is long overdue. Not because I read the book long ago and didn’t write it, but because I received a complimentary copy from the author to read and review back in March. It’s not a difficult read from the standpoint of its writing, nor is it overly long, I simply had to put it down a couple of times because the topics being covered were more difficult for me to read than I’d anticipated at the time. From a grieving perspective, I simply wasn’t where I thought I was yet as I began reading.

 

I did not have an opportunity to research what it is to be a caregiver before my role as a participant in my mother’s care had come and gone. Her time requiring our care was ultimately short and left no time to consider what it might even mean for those us who cared for her.

 

Dr. Goldberg has a lot of experience in a multitude of ways with the topics of hospice and caregiving. He has written a book for caregivers that addressed the caregiver’s role and what they need to know from a personal perspective. It’s written such that as a caregiver of a loved one I can know what to expect and have some inkling of how I might handle specific situations as they arise. He approaches the topic with care and concern. His sensitivity for the intimacy of this relationship comes through clearly.

 

While I found the book especially relevant for those providing long term care of a terminally or chronically ill loved one, pieces of it were relevant even in the short caregiving relationship I had with my mom. What I found might be especially useful for caregivers is the practical information provided. Such as a short description of what active dieing looks like, or how to approach problems with memory or changes in personality, such that the impact on how we provide care to our loved ones can be as positive as possible.

 

I would happily recommend Leaning Into Sharp Points to anyone faced with the decision to care for their loved one. I hope it can bring the kind of guidance and support that Dr. Goldberg intends by it during one of the most challenging times that may ever be faced.


 

Fifty Shades of Grey – 50BookPledge – Book 10

Fifty Shades of Grey – 50BookPledge – Book 10

Well, here I am mid-June, and am halfway through reading book 11 – it’s not looking good for the 50BookPledge, but I’ll keep plugging away and see how close I actually get in the year. Book 9 was not a planned read by any means. I started hearing about this wildfire spreading around the controversial soft porn / erotic fiction of E L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey: Book One of the Fifty Shades Trilogy. I was curious to see if it stood up to the murmurings.

 

I was sorely disappointed. I’m not a connoisseur of erotic fiction by any means. I have occasionally picked up some smut for the pure enjoyment of reading something that required no thought and very little imagination. The topic of S & M was poorly addressed in my opinion, the erotic scenes – while descriptive were not shockingly so – other novels I’ve read that were not touted as erotic fiction have been more so – albeit that was not the focus of the story. The writing was mediocre. I honestly found myself reading purely in hopes of finding the redeeming quality that would make all of the talk I’d heard seem worthy.

I won’t be reading books 2 & 3 of the series. Nor will I recommend the book to anyone who asks.

 

 

The Divine Ryans – 50 Book Pledge – Book 9

 

I enjoyed The Divine Ryans by Wayne Johnston more than most that I’ve read recently. Another book club book, and one I actually made it through before we met! I’m not one for writing reviews per say, my response to this book was that of frustration, disgust with close-minded thinking… relief that we’ve come so far. Dismay at how far we still have to go.

 

I found myself outraged and yelling (silently) at the family to open their eyes and treat one another with the respect they deserve, especially the children.

 

I love reading books by Canadian authors. I love getting that perspective of what life was like in different communities across the country. This one gives insight into a largely Catholic Newfoundland community at a time when the church and businesses seemed to be strongly linked, yet gradually separating.