Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Playing House

(This is another book by Fredrica Wagman)

From the back of the book:

“This nationally best-selling story of one woman’s struggle with the lasting effects of a childhood sexual relationship with her brother shocked American readers; it remains a literary work of enduring quality and value.”

This truly fascinating book first appeared on the shelves in 1973 and was recently re-released in trade paperback. Publishers Weekly called it – 30-plus years ago – “a probing descent into madness.”

Oh, they were so right.

Where Fredrica Wagman pulls these stories from is beyond my conception. She is absolutely one of the most compelling authors I’ve ever read and her books thrill the reader and writer in me.

This is the second of her books I’ve read recently. The review for “The Lie” can be found here. It just amazes me that I never read any of her work before and I definitely plan to read more by her.

In “Playing House,” an incestuous relationship is, of course, kept a secret between this brother and sister pair, although you begin to wonder if their mother doesn’t at least suspect something is going on.

The young man is the family jewel. He can do no wrong and is very spoiled. As a result, or in spite of it, he is very temperamental and always expects to get his own way.

When the girl grows up and gets married, all the baggage from her relationship with her brother causes serious issues and how she works through them is the basis of this story.

If you’ve never read anything by this author, please give her books a try. Just remember before you begin … these books reveal emotions that are both raw and honest, so if you don’t particularly care for that, you may want to think twice.

But if these are the types of books you like to read, be prepared to have trouble putting them down!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Lie

By Fredrica Wagman

From the back of the book:

“Ramona Smollens has a chance meeting on a park bench with an older man, Solomon Columbus. The two become lovers, and soon Ramona is leaving the home of her mother and recently deceased father for marriage and the trappings of adult life. She takes with her a dark family secret, the sort of secret one simply did not talk about, one that would stalk her as she matured into her role of wife and mother.”

Wow! I can’t believe I’ve missed reading books by this author. Fredrica Wagman writes with such raw and revealing emotion.

In this story, the main character is so absolutely dysfunctional, yet she is trying so hard to “conform” to the standards set for women in the 1950s – be a wife and a mother; make a good home; keep your husband happy.

Ramona has different ideas, though. She learns about being a woman from watching movies. She idolizes Rita Hayworth and wants to be just like her.

She wants the look and the romance she sees on the silver screen. But, alas, life isn’t Hollywood and she has to begin coming to terms with that.

I just love the way Fredrica writes. She's now one of my favorite authors and I definitely plan to read more of her books. In fact, I just finished her book “Playing House,” another compelling novel I will be posting a review for soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Surviving a House Full of Whispers

By Sharon Wallace

From the back of the book:
"Sharon suffered continual physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather for seven years. Unfortunately, no one would listen to her or believe her story. At age 16, she finally finds the courage to flee from her tormentors."

What a terrifying life Sharon Wallace endured as a young girl. Absolutely frightening!

She was beaten, tortured, raped and forced to kill small animals. It's amazing she even lived through it to tell the world her story.

But she did and this book is the result.

It's too bad the world around us takes such little interest. Perhaps if someone had attempted to find out about this little girl, the nightmare could have ended sooner. Instead, she had to rely on her own strength and survival instincts and was eventually able to escape.

This may not be an easy book to read for some. It is graphic and Sharon pulls no punches in describing what she lived through.

I enjoyed the book and I wish Sharon the very best. She definitely deserves it after what she went through.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia

By Sheila and Lisa Himmel

From the back of the book:

“As a writer, Sheila Himmel used to love irony. It made for the best stories. But Sheila found it harder to appreciate when she was reviewing exotic cuisines from bistro to brasserie, while her daughter, Lisa, was at home starving herself.”

Not only does this book provide a wonderfully candid memoir by a mother and daughter team, it also teaches the reader the intricacies of eating disorders – from the different forms to the emotions that play into them to the help (or lack of) available to families.

I truly enjoyed reading this touching book written by these women. I felt so sad for Lisa as she struggled with her emotional issues and eating disorder. As a mother myself, I wanted so badly to be able to give her a big hug and let her know there are people who do care about her.

Eating disorders are often misunderstood. There are definite reasons why people choose to starve themselves and they can’t be fixed by telling them to just eat something. These disorders are very complex and, like an addiction, become something the person may struggle with the rest of his or her life.

As I read this book, I recognized a couple people I know who may fall into one of the categories. I hope I’m wrong, but I will definitely be keeping an eye on them and be ready to intervene with emotional support should that become necessary.

Now, for those of you who live here in the Pacific Northwest or are planning to visit soon, Sheila and Lisa will be at Elliot Bay in Seattle, Washington, on Wednesday, September 23, at 5:30 p.m. If you are able to attend, please stop by and say hello to them!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Review: The Woodstock Story Book ...

... by Linanne G. Sackett (photos by Barry Z. Levine)

Picture, if you will, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in one place with no immediate clue as to why they are really there. Then, the music starts and it all becomes clear.

I was just 14 years old when Woodstock happened, so I wasn’t one of those many music fans who showed up in the little town that no one had heard about before. But I did know most of the music. Some of the bands I liked; others I could take or leave.

So, I did want to take a peek at this book when it was offered to me for review. And I’m glad I did.

What wonderful photos that truly prove a picture is worth a thousand words! This oversize book is page after page of images taken before, during and after this spectacular event.

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Woodstock, Sackett and Levine have given rock and roll fans a way to remember a special time in the history of music and, indeed, of the country … even those of us who weren’t there.

I give this 4 books because of the marvelous photos!

Monday Mail Call

I have been neglecting my blog because of my busy schedule lately. I know, that’s no excuse and I am planning to get caught up. So, here is a list of some of the books I’ve received in the mail over the past month. I will get it updated soon.

Also, I’ve been working on writing up book reviews and will be having them posted soon. So, bear with me and don’t give up on my blog. Lots of fun stuff will happen the next couple weeks!

1. Believe by Jennifer Silvera (GoodReads)

2. Dying for Mercy by Mary Jane Clark

3. Dragon House by John Shors

4. NurtureShock by PO Bronson and Ashley Merryman

5. Meant To Be by Denise A. Agnew (included some great promotional items)

6. Playing House by Frederica Wagman

7. The Lennon Prophecy by Joseph Niezgoda