What I’ve Been Up To

This is one of those “I’m here and I’m alive” kinds of posts… so, what have I been up to since I don’t appear to be blogging around these parts very much. How about some highlights, in no particular order?

  1. Thinking about writing Yeah Write posts, if not actually writing them.
  2. Checking out Yeah Write’s updated website and its fancy new badges. Can’t wait to use a new one for some actual grid entries!
  3. Planning a trip for my granddaughter’s first birthday!
  4. Knitting for the little precious one!
  5. Practicing painting pets.
  6. Contemplating getting a job, but not wanting a Job.
  7. Writing a business plan that will lead to more of a vocation than a job.
  8. Putting my novel revising, if not all the way on the back burner, not on the front burner either. See #5-7.
  9. Choosing a website builder. Planning a new facebook page.
  10. Obsessing over the state of the nation on twitter.
  11. Church stuff (deacon duties, bell ringing, being crafty)
  12. Doing some suicide prevention training.
  13. Reading and finishing books, but, ahem, behind on my reviews. (Upcoming are Gilead, She’s Come Undone and The Sugar Queen.)
  14. Decluttering (the beginning phase, which seems to involve more thinking about and less doing).
  15. Dental stuff.
  16. Sleeping better (yes, really… have a new sleep apnea oral appliance… see #15).
  17. Discovering I can listen to audiobooks from the library on my computer while I paint (what? did everyone already know that? late to the party again!)
  18. Playing Two Dots.
  19. Giving up sugar for Lent (except for wedding and birthday celebrations).
  20. Life is good.
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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

2017 Reading Challenge: Reading for Fun

A Book You’ve Read Before

handmaidIf you’d never heard of this book before, the odds are good that if you live in the US that you have now. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, published in 1985 has seen its sales soar and at this moment, sits at #3 on Amazon’s hourly updated best seller list.

I read this book most probably in the early 1990s and enjoyed it enough to search out other books by Atwood. But I enjoyed it then as a dystopian novel that was just fiction. Just Fiction.

Did she portend the future? With a group of men making decisions about women’s healthcare, her book about a theocratic military dictatorship taking away all rights of women seems more relevant today than it did when I first read it. I read it more carefully this second time around and found it more horrifying.

Written in first person by Offred (pronounced Of-Fred), she describes her situation and day to day activities assigned as a handmaid to The Commander. As a handmaid, her sole responsibility is to become pregnant by The Commander, carry the baby and then hand it over at birth to him and his wife, Serena Joy. What she can and cannot do is strictly regulated with her only freedom being daily shopping trips for the family’s provisions with a fellow (assigned) handmaid.

In between chapters describing her current life, Offred describes what life was like before government was overthrown, her life with her husband and daughter.

Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.

~Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale

Atwood considers this book speculative fiction vs science fiction because nothing is in the books that either hasn’t happened in society before or that is possible. And there is really nothing too science-y about it anyway. In fact, it seems that society has moved backward in scientific development. Sounds like something that could happen with climate change deniers, the removal of scientific information from government websites and the potential dissolution of some government agencies.

This week, a group of women in Texas donned red capes and white winged bonnets to protest proposed anti-abortion measures in the Texas senate. This really happened. I’m thankful that women and men are outraged enough about what is happening in regard to health care to take action and be seen, and if making a point about losing women’s rights by wearing costumes from the imagination of Margaret Atwood, then more power to them.

The Handmaid’s Tale is not the only dystopian speculative fiction novel to see an increase in sales. 1984 by George Orwell is currently #1 on Amazon’s Science Fiction best seller list and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley has also found some new readers.

Be careful what you wish for.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

2017 Reading Challenge: Reading for Fun

A Book You Chose for the Cover

2017-02-04_23-26-09_000Don’t judge a book by it’s cover. That’s a sentiment I’ve always tried to live by, so when the reading challenge has “read a book you chose for the cover”… Well, that’s a bit of a head scratcher. And so technically becomes like the free space on the bingo card.

Since I’m trying to get all 24 books read without repeating a category (not to say that I won’t repeat a category) some books may just have to fit into more than one. I have already read the juicy memoir, so I’m putting Amy Schumer’s book The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo into the cover category. According to Amy, this book isn’t a memoir anyway because she is too young to have written a memoir. It is simply a book of stories about her life.

PotAto. PotAHto.

If you know anything about Amy Schumer’s stand up comedy, you know that she is unapologetically raunchy and will say almost anything about sex and her sex life. (She does not give out the names of her partners.) Her book is no different. In fact, if you catch her Leather Special on Netflix it is the equivalent of a musician going on tour with their new album. Many of the stories in her book are retold in shorter comedy-style bites on her special. The special on Netflix is a hour long.

It takes longer than an hour to read her book, and if you are sensitive to her preferred topics and language you may need a palate cleanser between chapters. If you are offended in any way by her topics and language, you’ll want to give this book a pass.

Her book is not all raunch. Amy was deeply upset by the Lafayette theater shooting during a showing of her movie, Trainwreck, leaving two young women dead and others injured. This has prompted her to become an advocate for gun control. She mentions it on her special and has promised to speak the names of the two women whenever she can. Promise delivered. In the book she goes into much more detail about her efforts and provides more information at the end of the book about how others can get involved.

Amy Schumer is a hard working comedian who has earned her moment in the sun and I respect her for that. I also admire her ability to say what she wants to say without censor. In a society where women especially are afraid to offend and afraid to speak their minds the ability to speak up and stand up for yourself and others is invaluable.

However, I’m not really the demographic she’s playing to. Her hour-long special was plenty for me, and it’s unlikely I’ll pay money to see her in person. And I while did enjoy her book I didn’t love it and I suspect she’s okay with that.

Oh, and the lower back tattoo? You’ll have to read the book to find out if it’s real or not.

The Noise on the Roof

A thud on the roof woke Melissa from a light sleep. When she went to bed, she had looked forward to the predicted storm. The rumble of thunder and pounding rain always had a soothing effect on her. She got up to inspect the thud with some trepidation, however, aware that she was meant to be away on a business trip. Her groggy middle of the night mind feared something worse than a tree.

Of course, she knew that was ridiculous. Who would break into a house from the roof? She retrieved a flashlight from her nightstand drawer and grabbed the baseball bat in the laundry room for protection. Her ex-husband claimed that she lacked the ability to shoot someone because she was simply too nice, but that maybe she could scare off an intruder with the bat. She knew that pushing the panic button on her alarm console might be the best solution, provided she wasn’t in the middle of a life or death confrontation. Hands shaking, she crept to her front door.

As she tiptoed, the shrill ring of her cell phone made her jump out of her skin.

“Melissa? It’s me. When you get home from whatever stupid trip you’re on, I’ll be dead.”

“What?! Dan? I AM home. Where are you?!”

“What?! I’m on your roof. Did you see that dumbass Frank walking his dog just now? I think he called 911. Hang on. I’m coming down.”

This was all too much. Too much rain. Too much thunder. Too much drama. Too much Dan. Melissa sat on the floor, dizzy and shaking with anxiety. She heard more thumps, thuds and cursing before she heard pounding on her patio door. Instead of standing, she crawled toward that door and pulled herself up by the handle to let him in. As she opened the door, the momentum from his knocking propelled him into the kitchen and he fell in a sodden heap.

“Ohmigod! Dan? Dan! DAN!” Melissa screamed and got down next to him, afraid that he was unconscious or worse.

Rolling onto his back, Dan peeled open his eyes and slurred, “Melissa. I’m okay. Not okay. Why are you here? Just let me die. Don’t let them take me away.” He began to cry.

“I am not letting you die,” she said, sitting back on her heels and hearing for the first time a siren in the distance. “But I am getting you a towel and putting on a pot of coffee. And I might just let them take you away.”

The deafening siren stopped in front of Melissa’s house, confirming that their neighbor Frank had called 911. Melissa left Dan whimpering on the floor and got up to answer another pounding on a door. Her head pounded in time with the beating. Couldn’t they just have rung the doorbell?

“Officer.”

“Ma’am, we got a call that there is a person, probably intoxicated, on your roof. Have you heard anything?”

She started to speak, but couldn’t find the shape of yes in her mouth. Dan needed help, probably a lot of help, but she could not bear to see him taken off by the police. She rubbed her temples and heard herself lying. “No, just the storm blowing things around. I’m fine.”

“Well, I hope you don’t mind if I take a look around your property a bit to make sure no one is here, then I’ll be on my way.”

She closed the door and leaned back against it, closing her eyes and sliding to the floor. She was about to drift off to sleep when she smelled coffee.

Two steaming cups sat in the center of the table. Dan had fallen asleep with his head on the table and a hand around one of the cups. Melissa kissed his still wet hair and lay down on a nearby sofa, praying this would all make sense in the daylight.

P. S. I welcome constructive criticism. Tell me what you liked and what you didn’t!