Friday, 16 November 2012

It's Cold Outside. Read A Book November 16th, 2012

       I have been spending so much time reading lately. Reading in the hospital because renting a television costs $13.57 a day. (Yes, per day. How sick is that? Pardon the pun.) Reading in waiting rooms. Reading during my three hour treatments. Reading for inspiration.      
       A few weeks ago, I decided to tackle the small pile of books I had bought but had never gotten around to reading. I purchased so many newer books they became somewhat forgotten about. 
       The first of these is a book by Kristin Hanna titled Magic Hour. This book soaked me up like a sponge. It was so good that as soon as I had finished it, I ran down to my parent's apartment and told my mother she just HAD to read it. Yesterday, she gave it back looking exhausted. She had stayed up the entire night reading it. On a work night. Yes - it is that good! 
       One of my favorite things about a great book is sharing it with your friends and family. I get so excited when they also enjoy it and can talk about the story. I decided to put together a small list of the top three favorite books I have read so far this fall. I promise - you'll eat these up like Thanksgiving dinner. 

The Secret Life Of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
This author never disappoints. I have read six of her books but the first, and by far my favorite, was The Secret Life Of CeeCee Wilkes. You will understand after having read it why I can't walk by any one of her books without buying it. This story starts with sixteen year old CeeCee Wilkes. She is a backwoods, small town waitress who is in love for the first time. She is blindly lead into a criminal plot with her boyfriend that spins wildly out of control. She is forced to run, change her name, and live out her life in secret. Decades later, the boyfriend is on death row - and CeeCee Wilkes is the only person who knows what really happened. This book will have you turning pages long into the night. So, get comfy, grab a cup of tea and a cozy blanket and be swept up in the intrigue. This book will have your pulse racing long after the last page.

Iron Lace by Emilie Richards
Emilie Richards has written many novels, but this is the first one that I have read. Set in New Orleans, Louisiana, 1975, the tone of the story is thick with politics, war, and racism. 
It was the beginning of modern ways, and most elders were lead kicking and screaming from the barbaric old rituals. Aurore  Gerritsen is not one of them. The matriarch of her family is living out the last of her life in her mansion. Her great grandparents started successful businesses that has kept her family wealthy for generations. Before she dies, she invites a young talented journalist to write the story of her life. Although at first reluctant, Phillip Benedict is swept up in the old lady's world, but nothing could have prepared him for the impact of Aurore's revelations. This book is so vivid, you will swear you've seen a visual video instead of words on a page. 

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah
When I think of all the months this book has been right under my nose not being read, I could kick myself. The story begins with Dr. Julia Cates, an expert child psychiatrist, who moves back home to the Pacific Northwest into her family home with her sister, Sheriff Ellie Cates. One morning, from deep withing the heavy growth forest of the Olympic National Park, a six year old girl appears. She cannot speak and offers no clue to her identity. I really don't want to shed light on much more of this novel except that it will push your limits, emotionally. For the last hundred pages I cried. I was a bigger blubbering mess than a theatre full of women after a showing of The Notebook. Not that this is that kind of love story. I can't say anything more other than - Go buy this book. Now!

Finally, I want to thank you all for all the amazing feedback and compliments. I never could have imagined in a million years that my stories would be read over 10,000 times in under six months. Thank you :)

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Wednesday, 14 November 2012

October 31st, 1990 Halloween

       Halloween brings back such mixed emotions for me. I love getting the house all decorated and helping my son with his costume. I love trick or treating with him out in the brisk autumn air with leaves crackling beneath our feet.
       When I was little, trick or treating down my road on the way to my grandfather’s house was my very favorite thing about Halloween. I loved how the air always smelled of chimney smoke and how there were children running house to house in a fit of giggles. He always had the best candy and would save me extra of my favorite molasses kisses. I’m pretty sure I’m probably the only person I have ever met who likes to eat those impossible to chewy treats.
       The best thing about Halloween itself, of course, was the pillowcase full of chips, rockets, lifesavers, aero bars, double bubble, tootsie pops, chocofudge, fun-dip and, if you were really lucky, maybe a can of soda pop. I would kick off my boots and lay claim to a big spot on my living room carpet and dump out my treats to survey the goods, dividing them into groups and making piles of the bad ones to pass off to my little brother. Halloween was also the gift that kept on giving because you knew you would have a candy treat every day for recess for at least the next month or so.
       Then in third grade I got diagnosed with my illness. I was pale as a ghost and all skin and bones. I had just had my very first surgery. I was so uncomfortable sitting in school that my mother made me a pillow to take for the chair at my desk. It was white and blue with Paddington bear on it. Every time I think of myself as that sick and lonely little girl, I want to give her a hug and tell her it is going to be okay and we’re going to have a rough life but we’ll get through it, I promise. It was horrible the way my most of my old class mates stayed clear of me as if I could infect them with all the terrible things that were happening to me.
       When October rolled around, the buzz started about the class Halloween party, costumes, candy and about who was brave enough to watch their older brothers horror movies. I was being tube feed all my nutrition at the time, so the last thing I wanted to do was be around all the festivities and not be allowed to so much as taste anything. I thought my mother would understand but she had a whole different idea.
       My mother decided that even though I wasn't living the ideal “normal” childhood that it was still important for me to participate in children’s pastimes when I was well enough so I didn't look back and regret it when I was older. Well, I’m older. And I still regret the Halloween of third grade.
       Since I would not be allowed to eat all the candy, potato chips and class party pizza, mom took me to Walter’s Party Rentals convinced that I should have the best costume ever so I would excited to wear it for the party and around trick or treating. She rented an amazing Miss Piggy costume. It wasn't a plastic mask or rubber head piece, it was as if it were the real Miss Piggy only I was inside. I was so excited to have the perfect costume that I pushed all my frustrations aside and started to get swept up in Halloween.
       Halloween day came around. Besides the pangs of envy over everyone eating at the party, I was admitting to myself on the way home from trick or treating that I was glad mom convinced me to go out today. My little brother and I were just finishing up the last houses in our neighborhood. The autumn night was mild and the tape that held my feeding tube in place was getting annoying and itchy under my heavy mask. I decided to take if for the walk home. We were cutting through the hole in our playground fence when my brother called to me.
       “Hey, Jane! The MacDonald’s lights are on! One more house! Come on!”
“We have two pillowcases each!” I laughed but followed him back through the fence. When we got to their yard I dropped my things on the sidewalk and carried my lightest pillowcase up their front steps as my brother knocked.
      “Oh hello! Happy Halloween!,” Mrs. MacDonald said, putting Cheesies in our bags. She looked at me and said, “My aren't Halloween things getting realistic – that on your face looks so gross!”
       It took me no time to realize she was talking about my feeding tube. I turned and ran down the stairs willing the tears not to come. As I raced through the playground I could hear my brother yelling to me that I forgot my bags of treats but I didn't care. I did not stop until I hit my bed,  pushing past my questioning mother, letting the screen door slam behind me.
       I cried. I cried all night. I cried the next day. There wasn't anything anyone could say to make me feel better.  Over the years I never went out trick or treating on Halloween again. My mother just accepted how I felt and left well enough alone. Even all these years later, when I’m costume shopping and out trick or treating with my son, I’m still haunted by the ghost of that poor little girl who cried every time another missed Halloween came around.