REVIEW: NANAVILLE, BY ANNA QUINDLEN

 

“I am changing his diaper, he is kicking and complaining, his exhausted father has gone to the kitchen for a glass of water, his exhausted mother is prone on the couch. He weighs little more than a large sack of flour and yet he has laid waste to the living room: swaddles on the chair, a nursing pillow on the sofa, a car seat, a stroller. No one cares about order, he is our order, we revolve around him. And as I try to get in the creases of his thighs with a wipe, I look at his, let’s be honest, largely formless face and unfocused eyes and fall in love with him. Look at him and think, well, that’s taken care of, I will do anything for you as long as we both shall live, world without end, amen.”

Before blogs even existed, Anna Quindlen became a go-to writer on the joys and challenges of family, motherhood, and modern life, in her nationally syndicated column. Now she’s taking the next step and going full nana in the pages of this lively, beautiful, and moving book about being a grandmother. Quindlen offers thoughtful and telling observations about her new role, no longer mother and decision-maker but secondary character and support to the parents of her grandson. She writes, “Where I once led, I have to learn to follow.” Eventually a close friend provides words to live by: “Did they ask you?”

Candid, funny, frank, and illuminating, Quindlen’s singular voice has never been sharper or warmer. With the same insights she brought to motherhood in Living Out Loud and to growing older in Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, this new nana uses her own experiences to illuminate those of many others.

 

My Thoughts: I am a big fan of Quindlen’s novels and memoirs. She has a unique way of voicing our own concerns and helping us find those life moments that reveal so much.

Just as parenting has its own special moments that resonate with all of us who have lived through the challenges, grandparenting brings another dimension to our lives. So in Nanaville, we are offered a time in which we can step back, observe, and decide how to cautiously move forward into the sometime worrisome waters. We learn that our adult children and their chosen partners must set the guidelines, and if we want to benefit from a good relationship with the grandchildren, we must follow their lead.

Anecdotes and chapters designated “small moments” offer us that very insightful guide to a wonderful journey in the Land of Nanaville. 5 stars.

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REVIEW: EVERY NOTE PLAYED, BY LISA GENOVA

 

An accomplished concert pianist, Richard received standing ovations from audiences all over the world in awe of his rare combination of emotional resonance and flawless technique. Every finger of his hands was a finely calibrated instrument, dancing across the keys and striking each note with exacting precision. That was eight months ago.

Richard now has ALS, and his entire right arm is paralyzed. His fingers are impotent, still, devoid of possibility. The loss of his hand feels like a death, a loss of true love, a divorce—his divorce.

He knows his left arm will go next.

Three years ago, Karina removed their framed wedding picture from the living room wall and hung a mirror there instead. But she still hasn’t moved on. Karina is paralyzed by excuses and fear, stuck in an unfulfilling life as a piano teacher, afraid to pursue the path she abandoned as a young woman, blaming Richard and their failed marriage for all of it.

When Richard becomes increasingly paralyzed and is no longer able to live on his own, Karina becomes his reluctant caretaker. As Richard’s muscles, voice, and breath fade, both he and Karina try to reconcile their past before it’s too late.

 

My Thoughts: With every new book by this author, I am hesitant to start turning the pages. The books are all so powerful and poignant, beautifully written and well-researched, and so emotional that I know I will soon be immersed in the tragedy that besets the characters. The same was true with Every Note Played, a story of a once-happy couple, with everything ahead of them. Broken by anger and the irretrievable destruction of their marriage, they couldn’t be more distant from one another when Richard receives his terrifying diagnosis.

Alternately narrated by Richard and Karina, we feel the depths of their individual pain as they tell their story, beginning with the happier days in the past and leading up to the momentous incident that decided their future: we feel the total helplessness Richard confronts on that defining day, and what it took for Karina to step up to help.

This book was one I had to set aside periodically, as I couldn’t take in the details of their lives without wanting a break. It is impossible not to experience their challenges with them, as the characters’ vivid descriptions leave nothing to the imagination. I learned more than I could have anticipated about the disease that took over their lives, and with each page, I felt a part of their suffering. A story that kept me turning the pages, I give this latest by Genova 5 stars.

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REVIEW: THE RAMBLERS, BY AIDAN DONNELLEY ROWLEY

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The three of them have a history, and now they represent a kind of New Yorker that is facing challenges, struggling against the past, and hoping for a future. They are college graduates pursuing their professions while also finding what they need in their personal lives.

Clio Eloise Marsh is an Ornithologist, a bird watcher, and a professor. She has a past that includes a mentally ill mother who sucked up all the air in the world around her, and then, took away any kind of hope for a future. Can Clio’s new beau Henry, a hotelier who is somewhat older than she, help her face her emotional past and give her hope for the future?

Smith Mae Anderson came from wealth and privilege, and she is Clio’s best friend from college and current roommate. But Smith’s past also tugs at her confidence, since the parental expectations are high and she is struggling to create a niche for herself, doing what she loves with her business called The Order of Things, a way of helping people to declutter their lives. She sees the process as a way of being in control of her inner and outer life.

Tate Pennington, also a student with Clio and Smith, created a software company that sold for a lot of money. Now he is pursuing his passion of photography, and may pursue an MFA to enhance his technical skills. Tate is still struggling to get past the dearth of his marriage to Olivia, while also finding himself drawn to Smith.

The Ramblers is all about what happens to these friends, and each of them alternately narrates the story. As we follow along with them individually, from their past to their present, we also get to visualize the world they see every day, from the oasis of The Ramble in Central Park to the world inside some gorgeous apartments and hotels.

I must admit that I loved when each of the characters’ narratives revealed their interior thoughts, from what they feared to what they loved and dreamed about. Watching how each of them moved slowly beyond what they most feared in their past lives to the hopeful futures kept me turning the pages. The story had a slow pace, which did not engage me quite as much as a faster paced book does…but the meandering story did offer the opportunity to feel a depth of understanding for the characters. 4 stars.

WEEKLY UPDATES: SAVOR THE HOLIDAYS….

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Good morning! Today’s post will link up to The Sunday Salon, The Sunday Post and Stacking the Shelves, for weekly updates.

**Mailbox Monday is hosted at the home site: Mailbox Monday.

And let’s join Kathryn, our new leader in It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?, at The Book Date.

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What a week!  Despite some of the obstacles, like a malfunctioning Kindle charger and some recent changes in my web browser that have made navigating the Internet a real challenge, it has been a fairly productive one.  I finished and reviewed four books, and each one was enough different that my journey was definitely enjoyable.

Let’s all have some coffee and chat!

 

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LAST WEEK ON THE BLOGS:

Rainy Day Reading: “The Opposite of Everyone”

Serendipitous Tuesday: “Out of Orange”

Hump Day Potpourri: “The Girls”

My Interior World: Count Down to Year’s End

Bookish Friday: “Secret Sisters”

Maintaining the Perfect Facade: Excerpting “Interior Designs”

Saturday Sparks: A Sunday Walk….

Review:  Wildflower, by Drew Barrymore

Review:  What She Knew (e-book), by Gillian MacMillan

Review:  House of Wonder, by Sarah Healy

Review: Out of Orange (e-book), by Cleary Wolters

 

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INCOMING BOOKS:

No books came in my mailbox this week!

 

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WHAT’S UP NEXT? (Titles/Covers Linked to Amazon)

Currently Reading:  The Things We Keep (e-book), by Sally Hepworth (NetGalley-Release Date – 1/19/16)

 

 

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Here, Home, Hope (e-book), by Kaira Rouda

 

 

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November 9 (e-book), by Colleen Hoover

 

 

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That was my week!  Let’s all enjoy our upcoming holidays….and our time with families and/or friends.  What was your week like?

 

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MINI-BLOGGIESTA STARTS NEXT WEEKEND!

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It’s that time again!  Bloggiesta!! Yay, Ole!

Okay, it’s just a mini-event this time, but it will get us revved up for the Main Event in March.  Go on over to the host page, sign up, linking your post….and let’s get started.  Next weekend, that is….Saturday, January 25.

So here’s the Master List, which has some items I’m not sure about, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

I’ve revised the list a bit, since my reviews are caught up.

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❏  update link lists and archive lists
❏  clean up labels/tags
❏  do two mini challenges
❏  change or fix one thing on your sidebar
❏  add a page (about me, contact, policy, etc)
❏  change one thing on your layout and/or look
❏  comment on other Bloggiesta partipants blogs
❏  participate in at least one Twitter chat

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What will you be doing?  I hope to see you for the party!!

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TSS: SOME CHALLENGES, A GIVEAWAY, & READING FUN — FEB. 10

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGood morning, Sunday Saloners!

What is on the agenda for today?  For this week?  We can study last week and draw up a plan, I think.

Last weekend’s Bloggiesta had a great finish for me:  Finish Line: A Great Party.

Afterwards, I decided to take advantage of the energy and posted a 100 Followers Giveaway at An Interior Journey.

Hop on board!  We still have four followers to add before the party there is over.

Moving along to some of my other blogs, I posted Tuesday Potpourri:  Is Love in the Air for You? (In honor of Valentine’s Day, of course).

On Wednesday, I hosted Rebecca Graf in a Guest Post over at Rainy Days and Mondays.  And on the previous day, I reviewed Deep Connections, her novel, now released.

 

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And on Saturday:

Sweet Saturday Sample:  Closure; and Saturday Potpourri:  Friendship, Love, & Road Trips.

My reading week was quite diverse and enjoyable.  Check it out!

Reading:  Click Titles/Covers for Reviews:

1.  Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline (Amazon Vine Review)

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2.  Family Pictures, by Jane Green (Amazon Vine Review)

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3.  Out of Circulation (e-book), by Miranda James (Cozy Mystery/Sequel Challenges)

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4.  Big Cherry Holler, by Adriana Trigiani (Sequel Challenge)

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Like I said, a diverse week….and some challenge tasks completed!

Today I’m reading another book for the Sequel Challenge:  Sizzling Sixteen, by Janet Evanovich.

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Stephanie Plum just keeps bumbling along, never getting any more professional.  Why do I keep reading these books?  She is kind of fun, in her stumbling, klutzy way.

What are the rest of you up to today?  Come on by and let’s chat.

 

TSS: A WEEK OF EXPLORATIONS– JAN. 20

sunday-salon-2OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWelcome to Sunday Salon, our place to gather and share our weekly wrap-up and muse about the upcoming week.

With January already winding down rapidly, I find myself lost in books and blogging.

And while gathering together old photos from my albums, I came upon this one that I shared in the Saturday Snapshot post.

It’s a photo of my daughter and me at the end of 1978, the year I was winding up my master’s degree and writing my thesis.

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It has been a week of blogging, too.  My topic on Musing Mondays:  Book Recently Purchased; I did a Cozy Monday post asking What Captures Your Imagination Today?; on Wednesday, I explored Thoughts from the Interior of My Blogging Journey; my Hump Day Potpourri was all about Endings & New Beginnings; at Curl up and Read, I announced my Giveaway Winner; my Friday Potpourri was about Dreaming Bookish Thoughts.

I did some excerpts and showcased interiors at Story Corner:  Exploring Interiors:  Images & Excerpts; and my Sweet Saturday Sample featured A Collision of the Past and Present.

My reading has knocked two books off of Mt. TBR for that challenge; and to avoid further cluttering of the shelves, I borrowed books from the library.

Books Read-Click Titles/Covers for Reviews:

1.  That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo (Toppled off of Mt. TBR)

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2.  The Carrie Diaries, by Candace Bushnell (Another one off of Mt. TBR)

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3.  The Eighth Wonder (e-book), by Kimberly Young (Review will be posted on 2/28/13 at Rainy Days and Mondays)

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4.  Gods of Alabama, by Joshilyn Jackson

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And now I’m going to start reading The Sandcastle Girls, by Chris Bohjalian.  I’ll also be watching some movies on my DVR. 

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Earlier today, I watched Hope Springs.

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What will your day bring?  Plans?  Hopes?

SERENDIPITOUS RESOLUTIONS: BOOKING THROUGH THURSDAY — JAN. 3

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Welcome to our special Thursday event:  Booking Through Thursday, the place to go when you want to talk books.

Today’s Prompt:

Any reading resolutions for the new year? Reading more? (Reading less?) Reading better books? Bigger books? More series? More relaxing books?

And hey, feel free to talk about any other resolutions you might have, too … or why you choose NOT to have any.

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Speaking of reading plans, my New Year’s Resolutions this year are simple.

  I want more balance in my life, along with peace and harmony.

Vowing to make healthy choices tops the list, too.

Learning to say “no” to review books that don’t appeal to me.  I’ve been working on this one for awhile.  I hope to get better at it this year!

I want to read more books from my own stacks and pick books that I initially bought or accepted because I think I’ll enjoy them.

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My challenges for this year mesh nicely with these resolutions.  Like the Mt. TBR 2013.  In previous years, I’ve joined challenges like this one and whittled down those stacks.

Then there’s the Sequels Challenge, which will allow me to focus on the series books that I haven’t finished.

Some of the books I really enjoy are the Cozies, so Cruisin’ Through the Cozies was another choice for me.

Finally….the Women’s Murder Club Challenge will help me grab those James Patterson books that I enjoy.

I love a nice mix of books.  So between these challenges, and saying “no” to review books that don’t absolutely entice me should make for a great reading year.

What about you?  What will your 2013 look like?

TSS: COUNT-DOWN TO CHRISTMAS — NOV. 24

Welcome to our last Sunday Salon in November.

As we start our count-down to Christmas, we are also very much aware of the end of the year.  For bookish types, that means a number of things:  final books read count; challenges completed; thinking ahead to new challenges and new goals.

What are some of your Year End Activities and thoughts?

I’ve been noticing some bloggers who are hosting challenges for 2013, and while every year I promise not to sign up for too many, I couldn’t seem to curb the impulse to sign up for a couple already that sound good to me.

First, Cruisin’ Through the Cozies, hosted by Socrates Book Review Blogs.

Then I seemed compelled to add the Women’s Murder Club Challenge.  Hosted by Darlene’s Book Nook.

I have read a couple of those books already, but I’d like to read more.

On the Blogs:

TUESDAY POTPOURRI:  RAINY DAY READING & TEA

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR ELIZABETH NELSON

PLEASURES GALORE:  BEADS & HO, HO, HO!

SWEET SATURDAY SAMPLE:  SECRETS

WEEKEND POTPOURRI:  BLACK FRIDAY, READING CHALLENGES, ETC.

And here’s a snapshot from my SATURDAY SNAPSHOT POST.

Reading:  (Click Titles/Covers for Reviews)

1.  Firefly Summer, by Maeve Binchy (A 645 pager from my TBR Mountain)

2.  Amazing Grace, by Danielle Steel (Also from Mt. TBR)

3.  Slightly Cracked (e-book), by Susan Whitfield

And I’m currently reading For Keeps (e-book), by Aaron Paul Lazar.  There is a murder, a magical green marble, and secrets….

What are your Sunday plans?  Later I’m having a reunion lunch with colleagues I haven’t seen in awhile, in town for the holidays.  What a foodie week this has been!