Thursday, March 28, 2013

Call the Midwife is coming back

The only PBS show I love almost as much as I love Downton Abbey is Call the Midwife. Last fall when season one aired, it was the thing that kept reminding me that it was OK to wait a little longer for Downton Abbey, and to enjoy it in the meantime. I loved the good-hearted characters, the fact that the series takes place in London (one of my favorite places) and the good stories each week.

The show is based on memoirs by Jennifer Worth, known in the show as Jenny, a nurse and the central character. I bought the first of the three memoirs, Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times during the time the first season ran, and enjoyed reading it very much. Two more memoirs follow (Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse and Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End), which I hope to read sometime soon.

The first book contains anecdotes that viewers from the first television season will recognize, so I'm interested to see what the second and third books and the second TV season have in store. Eight new episodes are coming on Sunday nights starting this weekend - March 31 at 8 pm.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Book Review: Life After Life by Jill McCorkle

Published by: Algonquin Books
Published on: March 26, 2013
Page Count: 352
Genre: fiction
My Reading Format: Advanced reading copy, Kindle edition from Netgalley
Available Formats: Hardcover, paperback, Kindle and Audible audio editions

My review:

Family secrets, disappearing acts, quirky old folks, memories, dark pasts, small town life, oral history, a beloved dog, those who are crazy and those who just pretend to be: ingredients needed to write a proper Southern novel. Jill McCorkle has included all these things and more in her first book in 17 years, Life After Life. In the spirit of William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and the more recent A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty (Joshilyn Jackson), McCorkle beautifully and convincingly captures the voices of a myriad of characters - all ages, both genders and those who will do good and the world and those who won't.

Life After Life takes place mostly in a small North Carolina town. A young girl named Abby feels more comfortable spending time next door at Pine Haven, the town's retirement home, than she does with her mother or her peers at school. Nearly every character has trouble fitting in to the world around them because of something: too many marriages, too many tattoos, too many affairs or too many inappropriate comments. At Pine Haven, the residents remember their life before they moved in: what they did for a living, how they raised their children, how they fit in in Fulton, North Carolina. What they can't remember or don't want to, they make up. Resident Sadie has made a business out of putting two old photographs together to create a new reality and make a new memory for its owner.

Though some residents appear to have moved to Pine Haven simply to wait around for the end of their lives, quite a lot of living is to be done here. It's their life after life, and so are their stories preserved by hospice volunteer Joanna. For one resident named Rachel, her reasons for moving south from Massachusetts are kept quiet, and she keeps much of the life she led before to herself.   

There are secrets and sadness for the characters like Abby who live outside the retirement home as well. McCorkle brings the two worlds in Fulton, North Carolina, together in beautiful ways as the story comes to a surprising, shocking, saddening close. 

4.5 out of 5 stars

*If you think you'll like Life After Life, you'll probably also like Lunch at the Picadilly by Clyde Edgerton and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Business Networking and Sex...not what you think

It's the Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus for the business world. Data from 12,000 surveyed business people was compiled to show the differences between men and women when it comes to their approach to business networking. Three authors worked together to write it: Ivan Misner, who compiled the survey results, Hazel Walker representing the female perspective and Frank J. De Raffele Jr. with the male perspective.

I enjoyed Business Networking and Sex...not what you think more than I do some business books because of both the practical information that I can use as I network. Also, I had the opportunity through my work with Write Choice Services to interview Ivan Misner on Write Here, Write Now, a Business Radio X show in Atlanta, around the time the book was published last year. Then, last month I attended a large networking event in Atlanta where Hazel Walker was one of the featured speakers. A book always means more if you get a chance to hear from the author.

The bottom line of the book shouldn't surprise anyone: women like to form relationships with those they do business with while men just like to jump right in and strike a deal (similar to the dating world, yes?). The book offers instance after instance of research to back up all the findings, but also offers ways women and men can meet each other in the middle, and anticipate what business associates from the other gender will expect.


Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Monday! What are you reading?


This event is hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Here's what I'll be reading this week:

Finishing All Quiet on the Western Front for class discussion Thursday 
Continuing with Tender is the Night, my audiobook in the car
Starting Before I Go to Sleep by S. J. Watson. My book club is waiting on me to read it so we can all discuss.
And, I'm very excited to be reviewing Jill McCorkle's latest novel, Life After Life

Sunday, March 17, 2013

For the third year in a row, my husband and I participated in Fallen Heroes of Georgia's annual 1K, 5K and 10K at Lake Lanier outside Atlanta. The event honored the 209 Georgia soldiers who have given their lives since 2001. The organization uses the race as a fundraiser to honor these soldiers and their families. Each year, what continues to be so powerful for me is the way each soldier is remembered. Along the race route a sign with a soldier's name, rank, age, hometown and the date he or she was killed in action. Many of these soldiers' family members attend and stand by their family member's sign.

Some friends rode with us this year. On our way out after the race, one of them remarked about how young the majority of the soldiers are who have been killed. Sign after sign reported a soldier's age as 19, 20, 22 years old.

I was reminded of the book I'm rereading right now that my class will begin discussing this week, All Quiet on the Western Front, a novel about a group of German soldiers in the trenches during World War I. The narrator Paul keeps commenting on their youth, and feels old compared to the new recruits that keep joining them, even though he is only 20.

"Reinforcements have arrived. The vacancies have been filled and the sacks of straw in the huts are already booked. Some of them are old hands, but there are twenty-five men of a later draft from the base. They are about two years younger than us. Kropp nudges me: 'Seen the infants?'"

I nod. We stick out our chests, shave in the open, shove our hands in our pockets, inspect the recruits and feel ourselves stone-age veterans" (Chapter 3).