Old Tune Tuesday + Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage Review

40212914Thought I’d get two birds with one stone, as they say. Listen to this Old Tune while reading a book review!

Stats: The print book is 304 pages, published in 2018, audio book is 11′ long, narrated by Gabra Zackman.

Blurb: Sweetness can be deceptive. 
Meet Hanna.
She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.
She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

What I liked: Stage does a good job at pulling you back and forth about who you are rooting for. Most times it is Suzette, but not always. Stage makes the character believable, more so Suzette than Hanna, but maybe only because I don’t know anyone like Hanna. I can’t quite figure out Hanna’s age from the story, which might help me decide if she was smarter than she normally would have been, but the narration and text makes me think she is 6 or so. The narration by Zackman is very good, btw, for all the characters. They sounded like very distinct people – and the text helped with that as well. The ending, which I won’t give away, was interesting.

What I didn’t like: Despite how real the characters are, I didn’t really empathize with any of them to any degree. I suppose that is part of the risk of making the reader go back and forth on who they were rooting for. The ending… well, I’m still not sure if I liked it or not. I think it was probably best left the way it was. Now you have to read it and decide for yourself!

Rating: 4/5


Where are you in 2014?

from kimchisweettea.com

from kimchisweettea.com – peek a boo, where are you?

I wanted to acknowledge the new year in some fashion so this got me to thinkin’ (look out!) not about were we are going in 2014 but where we are now. You can ask this question collectively or individually, which ever suits your fancy because, in my opinion, the answer is still the same: We/You are exactly where you’re supposed to be, and for that matter, exactly where you should be putting your focus.

Now, I know this is not a new concept to most of you, but I think it is a concept that is hard for vast majority of us. We all want to know what is ahead for us as individuals, for our friends and family, for our planet as a whole. We’d all be a lot less stressed if we knew what was coming, though I really doubt that – we’d just find something else to get stress about. One of those other things we tend to perseverate  on is the past: what we did (particularly, what we’ve done wrong), what someone else did to us. But neither strategy gets us very far. Why? Because we’re not concentrating on the here and now, not paying attention to what we are doing or who we are doing it with.  We might be missing something in this very moment that could help us but we are focusing on something that has already happened that we can’t even change or something that hasn’t even occurred yet and might not ever occur. (Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we shouldn’t look at our past and learn from it. I think that is the only real use to spending time in the past.)

When you spell it out in this fashion, it seems so logical, it seems to make such sense to stop worrying about something that has already happened or something that has yet to occur – both are things we have no control over whatsoever. Ah…but there is the rub. As logical or as helpful as living in the moment may be, it is something we as humans have the most trouble with.

Why is that? Why does this issue take up so much of our time and our energy? I’m not sure, really. I know it has something to do with choice. Our creator (the humorist that he/she is) gave us free choice: choice to dwell on past events, choice to think about our future… But the choice that children and plants and animals exhibit most often is living in the here and now. Why is that?

I’m not quite sure other than I’ve never met a young child that had to take medication for an ulcer or because their blood pressure was too high. These small beings just might be onto something!

I hope you are onto something as well, in the new year to come – but don’t sit around worrying about it, OKAY! 😉

Almost forgot my Photo Friday! Oh My!

I just have to share this one. It was taken in Myanmar in a Buddist temple. The people in the picture looks small because they are children. I would love to learn their story and what they are pointing at. Add this to another place I’d like to visit. Truly beautiful!

Photograph by Lin Tun
Datdawtaung Cave/ Temple Myanmar courtesy of Photobotos

My son’s comment: “I think I could attain enlightenment there.”

Photo Friday!

I decided to start a “Photo Friday” blog or reblog in this case. I thought it would be a fun way to share pictures that I like from others and few (when I get lucky) from myself. I also think the name is catchy. I think this is a wonderful photo for many reason. Photobotos titles it “Drop of Innocence.” The one of the big innocence I see here is how right now, this little boy’s number one person is his mother. When he is a man, what will she be to him – at minimal someone, unlike himself or other men, that is subjected to wear this black robe.




***Note:  Just a quick head’s up that PhotoBotos will be upgrading and moving from WordPress.com to WordPress.org on 3/16/12 (Friday).  Everything will remain the same except that our daily photos will no longer load to your WordPress.com “Home Dashboard”.  Please save http://PhotoBotos.com to your favorites or sign up for our daily email reminders if you typically look for us only on your dashboard.  The vast majority of our friends won’t notice any difference!  We will keep the “dust” to a minimum during this transition and will continue to provide our community with the absolute best in travel photography!***

“Drop of Innocence” – Sitra, Bahrain – Isa Ebrahim – Featured Photographer

Emotion is what makes a successful photograph.  Having the viewer feel something, anything, is the goal of a photographer when he releases the shutter.  This image delivers in spades.  Not to get too political, but I hope by the…

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In Memorium

I just came back from a visitation for a twenty-one month old beautiful girl named Catelyn.

Isn’t she a doll.

She died at the hospital on September 11th, so unfortunately her parents will be reminded of this date every year by the media, but for a different reason. I don’t know why she died. It was a brief illness that they were trying to treat but were obviously unsuccessful. It doesn’t really matter, of course. A death of a child always seems so senseless, so beyond comprehension. I can still see her in her Dad’s arms just two weeks ago in church. She was such a good girl in church. You could tell he parents loved her so; they didn’t want to put her in the childcare that was available during the service, they wanted her with them. And being their first, it’s easy to understand. You would hear her sweet voice echoing around the cavernous building on occasion, but not very often. A pleasant distraction that always made me smile. I didn’t know Catelyn personally, but I know her parents, and they are very good people. Not that that matters either. A death of any child is tragic.

My two kids are too grown to remember details of their early life, but my heart remembers and aches for her parents and family.

Bless you sweet Catelyn and the love you brought into this world.

A 4th Grader’s Perspective

from adiaryofamom.wordpress.com

Today I was teaching sunday school with 4th and 5th graders in my church, so these kids are around 10 to 11 years old. It was the first day of sunday school so I was explaining to the new kids in the room how we run a typical sunday school session. I showed them our prayer chain – you know like one of those colored chains all kids learn how to make out of construction paper. It’s our sunday school version of the prayer flags. This got me thinking of what day it was, and I knew the kids knew what day it was too. You can’t turn on the TV or pick up a paper without seeing or hearing about it, in fact it’s been a topic of conversation all week. When I asked them what day it was, it took them a minute to realize I wasn’t talking about something to do with sunday school per say, then the flood gates opened and they all talked at once. Almost everyone could recount a personal story they had heard or anticdote about any of the three events that happened 10 years ago. Then one of kids said: I was born just three days before September 11th.

That just floored me. He is as old as this event. To me, and most adults, this event is part of our collective past, a real event in our own history. Like Pearl Harbor, we’ll always remember what we were doing when we heard what was going on (not what had happened – it is the information age after all), but for these kids this event is something they will read about in their history books when they get to high school, like the civil war or Martin Luther Kings assassination.

And so the world keeps revolving, and slowly, oh so slowly evolving, so that one day there will be no more civil wars, or assassinations, or September 11th’s. We will all finally realize that we are all connected, and what good I do for others helps me (and everyone else) two-fold. Not in my lifetime, I’m afraid, but it will happen, slowly.

p.s Just so you know, we put another link on that prayer chain today.


A Writer’s Memory

I was sitting with my soon to be 23 year-old son, filling out a loan application yesterday, and I told him I had to show him some pictures I have of Ella and Ava, two sweet girls we are distantly related to (two of my husband’s second cousin’s kids). Anyway, there was a painting incident at their home the other day: Ella (the older 4-year-old) deciding that she didn’t like the current and somewhat permanent color of her younger sister (of 2 or 3 years- I’m not sure), so she decided to paint her blue, mostly, with some bright red here and there. [I’d love to show the picture here but I don’t think it’s nice to show pictures of other people’s children on the internet without permission. I’ll work on the permission because it’s a great photo!].

So he asked me: ‘Did I do anything like that?’ 

“You mean paint yourself? No, but either you or Rachel (his sister) did the usually kid cuts their own hair thing.’  

You know – their bangs are getting in their eyes or just bothering them, and they have enough hand coordination to wield a scissors, so they decide to do the self barber thing and cut their own hair.

Maybe they both did it, but the issue this brought up for me is my poor memory for such things. I feel sorry for my kids in this way, because if I don’t have a picture of something or write it down, I usually can’t remember it. Unfortunately for them, I’m not one of those parents that can spout off the funny and interesting memories of their childhood, things most of us wonder about, I think. ‘What was I like as a kid? What stupid things did I do?’

What I am able to do, however, is remember general aspects about people and events. As most writers, I assume – correct me fellow writers if I have this wrong – I watch people and make mental notes of things they do and how they do it.  It’s what we writers call on when we’re writing about people and their relationships with others or with themselves. I think many times this is unconscious, but I do have a note pad in my car that I use to jot down things I see or hear that are particularly relevent to some writing task I might be working on at the moment. Notes are my friend.

So I’m curious – do other writers have this same issue, or is it just me?