Monthly Archives: June 2012

Widow of the South by Robert Hicks

Guest Review by Nicole

Hello – I’m Nicole and I blog at Apples and Arteries.  I’m an avid reader and this year decided to set a goal of 50 Books in 2012.  I’m well on my way and am excited to share #15: Widow of the South by Robert Hicks.

This is a book that I’ve seen at the public library shelves and I finally decided to pick it up to take along for airplane reading.  I enjoy reading historical fiction and this was the first novel I’ve read that takes place during the Civil War.

The story is based on a true story and flashes back to 1864 during the Battle of Franklin in Tennessee, where 9,000 men lost their lives.  Carrie McGavok came to be known as the Widow of the South.  Her family home was commandeered for a Confederate field hospital and the McGavok’s are surrounded by death.

I don’t want to share too much about the characters and evolving storylines.  The novel is a mix of history, drama, relationships, agony, and freedom.  I hope you’ll pick it up and enjoy it as much as I did.

Thanks for the opportunity to guest post.  You can find me on Twitter (@applesarteries) and I hope you’ll stay tuned to my blog to read more about my 50 books and share your suggestions.

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Domestocrat

photo I picked up The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin after hearing many glowing recommendations from friends and the interweb. The premise sounded interesting yet light. Rubin, not suffering from depression or any tragedy, was feeling a noticeable lack of happiness in her own life. She spent a year researching happiness and carrying out her Happiness Project. It was an academic pursuit but also a practical one – she sought to enjoy and appreciate the wonderful things already inher life after realizing she may be taking them for granted. I think we all are guilty of this a bit, having it good and expecting that to be the norm. Rubin knew she wasn’t being present in her own life, letting negative thoughts and bad moods run rampant, pushing extraneous joy away to make sure she was being productive and not frivolous. I can totally relate. I often times let…

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“Getting a Grip: On My Body, My Mind, My Self” by Monica Seles

Reviewed by Randi O’Hare, London ON
I love reading about real people’s lives—somehow, in reading about their experiences, I feel even more human.  I feel more connected to the human race, and less alone in my own struggles through life.  Reading the life stories of celebrities reminds us that they are human too.  This autobiography is no exception.
Monica Seles, as many people know, was a star tennis player from Yugoslavia.  She discovered tennis at an extremely young age, and to say that she had a knack for it was an understatement.  With her father as her coach throughout most of her career, she became the #1 ranked female tennis player in the world at the tender age of 19.  Then, in 1993 at a match in Hamburg Germany, Monica’s life was forever changed…or, as the chapter where she describes what happened suggests, was forever ‘derailed’.  A crazed fan of German player Steffi Graf’s stabbed Monica in the upper back, in an attempt to knock her out of the running and get Steffi into the position of #1 ranked female player.  Around the same time, Monica’s beloved father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
What many people don’t know is that that tragic spring day in 1993 marked the beginning of a downward spiral into depression and binge eating for Monica.  To add insult to injury, the man who stabbed her received a sentence equivalent to 2 years probation..not even jail time!   With tennis suddenly gone from her life while she recovered, and not knowing how to manage her overwhelming emotions, she turned to food for comfort.  Engaging in gruelling workouts and training sessions during the day, she’d gorge herself on high calorie snacks and sweets at night.  The extra weight she gained put her at risk for various injuries, and made her return to tennis difficult.  Tennis had been a part of her life since she was about 6 years old.  She eventually realized she needed to learn how to live without tennis in her life, and in 2003, she decided to try something new:  Instead of focussing so much on diets, exercise and what she was eating, she decided to start dealing with ‘what was eating me’.   She finally started dealing with her grief over losing tennis and her father, and began to pay attention to what her quiet inner voice was telling her she needed:  fun,  solace and to stop pressuring herself.  She reconnected with old friends, took up fun new hobbies (bungee jumping..yikes!!), and travelled for fun.  Even more amazing?  Without hardly even trying, the extra weight she’d been fighting for YEARS to lose just melted away.
Here is one of my favourite segments of the book, in which Monica describes being in an underwater cage watching a great white shark:   “All I could  hear was the sound of my respirator, and all i  could see was this terrifying and beautiful animal that could end my life in two seconds if it wanted to.  This is life, I thought.  Right now, and now , and now….I am living right this very second.  The entire dive wasn’t longer than thirty minutes, but when I resurfaced I felt like I’d taken an extended trip to another universe.  For the rest of the day I felt as if a gentle buzz of energy surrounded me .  I wasn’t just living life—I was feeling it.  The sun seemed brighter, the ocean smelled stronger, and every noise was amplified.  It was like life as I knew it had been a two and it was now cranked up to an eight.  Everything seemed more real and I wanted to experience all of it.  The life I was creating for myself was turning out to be anything but small.” (p. 275).
“Getting a Grip” teaches a powerful life lesson, one that Monica learned slowly and painfully:  once we learn to just let go, and stop controlling so much, and deal with our emotional baggage…we will be free and experience a happiness beyond anything we have ever known.

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Ottawa Small Press Book Fair

…is taking place Saturday, June 30, 2012, at the Jack Purcell Community Centre from 12:00 – 5:00 p.m. and is free to the public.

For more information, click here.

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Just in Time for Father’s Day

Free kindle book downloads for Dad:

Dad’s Guide to Life for Girls

Raising Kids with Love and Limits

(P.S. as always, if you like these, download them quickly, because they won’t be free for long. )

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Live Chats with Authors? Book Club?

It may be a bit early for this, but would anyone like to participate in live chats with various authors? (I do have a couple lined up already.)

Or how about a monthly book club? May not even have to spend $….everyone could download a few free books from Pixel of Ink, we’d choose one, read it and discuss at the end of the month…I’m open to suggestions, so let me know.

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Zest and Gusto

Author, Ray Bradbury, passed away earlier this week…

On the Homefront

“Not to write, for many of us, is to die.” ~ Ray Bradbury

I am not really a science fiction fan, but Ray Bradbury was not just a science fiction writer. I am not proud of the fact that I am not a science fiction fan; it is just that my imagination is sometimes not pliable enough to stretch that far.  I mourn the loss this week of this prolific writer, whom I laud as a brave and creative soul.

In my much read paperback copy of  Bradbury’s “Zen in the Art of Writing”, he stated, “I have learned, on my journeys, that if I let a day go by without writing, I grow uneasy. Two days and I am in tremor. Three and I suspect lunacy. Four and I might as well be a hog, suffering the flux in a wallow. An hour’s writing is tonic. I’m…

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Snow White and the Huntsman, Part 2

The Evil Queen in History and the First Time I Ever Heard of Her (bc I know you’re dieing to hear about that)

The evil Queen’s methods of maintaining her youth and power are rather similar to those attributed to Erzsébet Báthory, a Hungarian Countess living in the mid 1500’s to early 16oo’s. (Julie Delpy directed and starred in a wonderful movie about her, called “The Countess”, in 2009) Mind you, historians find the whole assertion of her bathing in virgins’ blood highly questionable. (To find out more about the views of historians and the times Erzsebet lived in, click here.)

The first time that I heard of the Countess was when, as a pre-schooler, I traveled to Slovakia…I was in the backseat of our car with my grandmother when we stopped at a border and she leaned towards me and said:”We’re entering the realm of the Countess. They say that she used to kill young women and girls and bathe in their blood”. The first part of that sentence seized up my brain; the second part, contorted my body. “Why?!” “So that she could stay young and beautiful.” “Why are we going there then?” “Silly, she died hundreds of years ago,” grandma replied. I relaxed somewhat.

The real life castle of the Countess

Btw, do not introduce such concepts in this manner to impressionable, pensive children. They will ponder this for weeks, months, even years. Why would you kill someone and then do something so bizzarely gruesome after that? Why is it so important to  be young?

Mind you, as the wrinkles start to creep in, I think, I’m finally starting to wrap my brain around the concept….really, I need to sensor myself more…or else people will start to believe me and come with their torches and pitch forks and there’s nothing worse than mob mentality as Erzsebet found out….

P.S. on Monday we’re going to have a great book review by Randi O’Hare, a guest reviewer from London, Ontario. 😀

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Be a Guest Reviewer!

Are you reading a great book? Would you like to tell others all about it?

Why not be a guest reviewer on “Books from the Laundry Room”?

All you’d have to do is write a few paragraphs about the book and what you think of it. You’d, of course, get full credit for your review and be featured on the “Guest Reviewers” page….which I still have to create. (Your name and a link to your post will appear on the GR page; if you send a picture and a few words about yourself, I’ll put that on the page as well.)

Let me know at booksfromthelaundryroom@gmail.com

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Library of Parliament, Sparks Street Branch

I didn’t make it to Doors Open Ottawa, but I did get my hands on a few pics of the Library of Parliament on Sparks Street. So, since it is a library and in the tradition of posting all about things that you already know, here are a few of those pics:

(Doors Open Ottawa continues today.)

The Board Room

The Book Room

The building used to be the Bank of Nova Scotia and, if you look veeeery closely, you’ll be able to read the words “Safety Deposit” on the wall…the money vaults were kept down the stairs, in the basement.

The End

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