The Man from Primrose Lane

If you want a book that will knock your socks off then this is the one I would choose! I initially picked this book up because of its setting and the author’s birthplace, Akron. In case you didn’t know already I’m originally from northeast Ohio, in my opinion one of the greatest places on earth, and even though I haven’t lived there for a quite a while I still think of it as home. So, whenever I find a book, movie or television show set in and around the area I always have to give it a try!

The Man from Primrose Lane by James Renner is one of those books that pulls you in from the moment you read the first page. The first character we meet is an oddball and the subject of this book. The Man from Primrose Lane is an old man, and a bit of a hermit a la Howard Hughes, who’s affectation is to wear a different pair of mittens every moment of every day come winter or summer. He seems to have no friends or family and is kept in food and supplies by a local neighbor, who is paid for this service as well as his silence. When the errand boy discovers mitten man murdered, the police are unable to solve the case or in fact to even learn the identity of the man from Primrose Lane.

Four years later we are introduced to author David Neff. David is the book worlds equivalent of a one hit wonder. The only book he’s written, a true crime novel about an Ohio serial killer, has made him a vast fortune.  We soon learn though that all this money has not bought him much happiness. He’s a widower with a small son, suffers from depression, and has no motivation to write another word. He’s lost his mojo ~~that is, until he becomes obsessed with the unsolved murder of the hermit from Primrose Lane.

This book is full of twists and turns and turns the conventional novel formula on its head. A real page turner that made me wish I could turn the pagers faster!

M-O-B weight loss program!

First of all let me just point out that I have not joined the mafia as the post title might suggest. Instead this is an acronym for my temporary designation as Mother of the Bride. It is a very exciting time for the whole family as the upcoming nuptial date quickly approaches and we are moving along pretty well on the to do list.

There are all the usual tasks to complete, venue, catering, flowers, music, guest list and many small details infinitum, and luckily I have a daughter that is organized, motivated and proactive, and of course beautiful and smart, that goes without saying!
So this leaves me to tackle an item on the top of MY list which is mine and mine alone to complete ~LOSE WEIGHT!

Being of a certain age, the weight has crept up on me over many months and years and I’ve probably lost and gained the same 7 pounds ten times over, but after my recent encounters with blunt, truthful sales clerks and full length mirrors with harsh fluorescent lighting, I’ve decided the need to lose that 7 pounds once again and maybe 5 more for good measure.

This of course is easier said than done. After many years of practice I know these are the five things that are required for me to lose any amount of weight:

  1. Motivation 
  2. No chocolate, candy, sweets of any kind 
  3. Drastically reduced bread intake
  4. Count Calories
  5. Add some form of cardio exercise

Motivation:
This one is always the hardest one for me. My weight isn’t putting my health at risk. I have clothes that fit the many incarnations of my waistline. I can still fit in an airplane seat comfortably. So what’s my motivation?  Oh, I just sounded a bit like a method actor there!
In this case it’s trying to fit in fancy dresses (which I NEVER wear) and finding that in this case, unlike an airplane seat, I don’t quite fit. Somehow most clothes manufacturers seem to think that women my age are either Beverly Hills slim or that we want to dress like our great grandmothers ( of the last century). Oh yeah, plus there was that caustic remark by one sales clerk about needing SPANKS as she gestured and nodded to my wobbly bits (a la Bridget Jones).
No sweets and slash breads:
Did I really say motivation was the hardest?! This one is pretty darn hard too. I am a breadaholic and I love my daily intake of candy. I’m partial to gummy bears, Good ‘N Plenty and any form of chocolate. I find the best method for accomplishing step 2 is to finish up all remaining candy in the pantry and then just not buy anymore. It’s the only way 😦
Bread is difficult to quit also because I love sandwiches, toast with my breakfast and rolls with my dinner. Egads, this is making me salivate just typing these sentences!  So I just don’t buy it.  No easy task, that is why I MUST have motivation in order to not replenish my cupboards with more lovely breads, cookies and candies!
Calorie Counting:
This seems like an old-fashioned mode of dieting what with all the experts telling us that carbs, fats and red meat are bad for us, but I’ve always been of the school of thought that everything in moderation. So I count calories and it works. What’s great in this day and age are all the wonderful apps that can help with calorie counting. I remember my mom using a little scale to weigh food and count calories and she also had a calorie counting book where she could look up foods and keep track.
I use an app entitled, Lose It! It’s terrific and very easy to use. You simply log in your current weight and then it asks for a goal weight. It will then give you a choice of how many pounds you hope to lose each week.
Lose It! then calculates a daily calorie amount, depending on how much you would like to lose each week and when you would like to complete your goal.  You log in your food and exercise each day and it tabulates everything for you. They even include grocery brands and restaurant foods and their calorie amounts. Every time I’ve wanted to shed a few pounds and been diligent about using the app I have lost weight!
Cardio Exercise:
Lastly I try to add some form of exercise that gives me a glow, or in more vulgar terms, SWEAT!  I stroll everyday with my muse Jasmine, but let’s be honest, she isn’t exactly Speedy Gonzales she’s more like the Poky Little Puppy.

Speedy Gonzales

So I have found that a bit of a work out on my Wii Fit or a run around the block gets the blood pumping and actually helps me shed weight a bit faster than just lowering my food intake.  It’s not an easy thing for me to accomplish because I am, and always will be, a couch potato that would much rather be indoors, reading a book, surfing the web, or watching TV.

So, for the last three weeks I have been trying very hard to follow my M-O-B, five-part weight loss program. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t been quick, but slowly but surely I have been losing the weight. I still have a bit to go, and I have forsaken my moratorium on drinking coffee (because there is a limit to what I can go without!), but I think I might actually see some light at the end of the tunnel.

I can guarantee one thing, everyone better get out of my way at the wedding reception because I plan on eating like there is no tomorrow and I’m making sure I have my stretchy pants packed for the day after the wedding because I think I’m going to need them!

Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace

Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace by Kate Summerscale is a wonderful non-fiction book about a gentlewoman and her diary. When her husband reads it and discovers his wife has had adulterous fantasies, he starts divorce proceedings and uses the diary as evidence. Actually Mr. Robinson believes what he’s read is more fact than fiction. Unfortunately for Mrs. Robinson, passages of the diary are made public when they are printed in the newspaper and her reputation is ruined. How awful!

Mrs. Isabelle Robinson is a widow with a child when she agrees to marry Henry Robinson. Right from the beginning Isabelle realizes her error in marrying Henry. Isabelle and her family have money and it becomes obvious that Henry has married her to get his hands on her assets, at least the monetary kind!  While he is not violent towards her neither is he warm and fuzzy. Isabelle and Henry have two more sons together but she is less than thrilled or fulfilled with her marriage.

Journaling or keeping a diary came into vogue in the mid 19th century for both men and women but I’m not sure if the majority of them contained such salacious reading material as the one belonging to Isabelle Robinson.

From Isabelle’s diary it is obvious that she dreams of romance and yearns for some young, handsome stud to take her away from her dreary life with Mr.Robinson. Isabelle is an intellect and a beautiful writer who enjoys evenings with friends that have similar interests. While living in Edinburgh, Isabelle spends many evenings with a family that stimulates this part of her soul. Lady Darlington, and her daughter and son-in-law, Dr Edward and Mary Lane. She falls madly in love with the younger Edward Lane and writes incessantly about this infatuation in her diary.

The courtroom proceedings between the Robinson’s was explosive and caused quite a sensation in the prudish Victorian era. Although many woman must have had the same feelings of boredom and unfullfillment in their marriages never before had it been so brazenly and shockingly verbalized.

A fantastic read for those of us who love all things Victorian.

Fiction Uncovered 2012

I had never heard of Fiction Uncovered until I read Savidgereads most recent blog post. I’m sure one of the major reasons being that it is exclusively dedicated to contemporary British fiction and the other being that there is a great deal in this world that I do not know about!

Fiction Uncovered‘s panel of judges pick eight of their favorite British fiction titles, which may have flown under the radar, and then promote the heck out of them through their various sponsors, website and blog.  This helps these undiscovered books get the attention they deserve, plus it gives us the reader eight new titles to add to our TBR lists! Sounds like a marvelous idea and a great way for these books to get some recognition.

I’m not too sure how many of these books have been published in the states,  but I do know that all eight of them are available for purchase online. I have already added several to my to-read shelf (which is groaning under its own weight!) on Goodreads.

~Thanks again to Simon for keeping me up on everything bookish!!~

Orange Shortlist~~continued!

As the day for the announcement of this year’s Orange Prize winner approaches, May 28, I find that I have only had a chance to read 5 out of the 6 titles that are shortlisted for the prize. Georgina Harding’s, Painter of Silence, is not yet available in the states, and because I haven’t been blown away by the majority of these books, I’ve decided to wait and check it out at my library when it becomes available, instead of purchasing it and paying the overseas shipping rates.

So, I still need to put my thoughts down on two of these books so I shall…

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett was a marvelously written book with strong descriptive passages, and a well fleshed out main character, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. The majority of the novel is set in the Brazilian jungle, where there is malaria, extreme heat, insects and snakes. Like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes, and novels and movies set in that environment. Well, except for The African Queen and the aforementioned Indiana Jones films.  While the writing is superb, I just could never get beyond the setting and begin to enjoy the book for itself. And really isn’t that what reading is all about, enjoyment?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller was such a unique piece of fiction and again another showing of incredible talent and writing ability. She has rewritten the story of Achilles and Patroclus and turned it into a beautiful love story. I loved this portion of the story, but when it came time to tell the tale of Achilles and his role of hero in the Trojan War I found myself bored and wanting to skim the rest. Again this is all to do with my tastes, for Miller well deserves to be on the shortlist for her ability to make this legendary story readable for someone like me!

I’m really hoping that Half Blood Blues, by Esi Edugyan, wins the prize because that was by far my favorite of the five that I’ve read. Fingers crossed!

Charlie & Me by Catherine Barry

It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review and I must make note-to-self to be better about doing this. After all in the back of my mind this is what this blog was mainly supposed to contain when it was first launched a few months back. It isn’t for lack of books read that I’ve failed in this task. Maybe I just needed the right book to give me the proverbial kick in the behind!

Charlie & me by Catherine Barry was just that book. As it states on the cover, this is Catherine’s true story, her story of addiction to alcohol and her road to recovery with the help of one remarkable man named Charlie, her friend and sponsor.

Charlie seems like the kind of friend that we all hope to have in our lives when the chips are down. He’s loyal, reliable, is not afraid of being tough when need be and has a cracking sense of humor. Barry herself has a terrific sense of humor, which jumps off the page as she recounts her tale of triumph. But at no time does her style of storytelling underplay the hard work and sheer determination it took to beat her addiction.

I hate to use the phrase ‘I loved this book’ when talking about a memoir of this nature, but I did love it. I loved the relationship between Catherine and Charlie, their witty bantering, Charlie’s ability to diffuse any situation and the obvious tenderness that developed between the two of them.

I also loved Barry’s clean writing style and her ability to turn a phrase and make everything crystal clear to the reader. You can tell she has a love of language and she has the ability to command it too.  I’m sure this wasn’t an easy book to write but she’s done so with no self-pity but with grace and dignity. I’m sure Charlie must be very proud of The rotten rip.

This is Irish author Catherine Barry’s most recent book and her only work of non-fiction. She has previously written three books of fiction which I hope to read in the very near future! Unfortunately none of her works have been published in the states, but they are available through Amazon and also through the Book Depository.

Thanks to Deborah Henry, author of  The Whipping Club, for introducing me to the writing of Catherine Barry!