Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts
Showing posts with label relationships. Show all posts

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Art of Racing in the Rain - Movie Review

The Art of Racing in the Rain DVD
According to Enzo, lead philosopher in The Art of Racing in the Rain, some things are meant to be.  He just knew he was meant to be Denny's dog.  I now know I was meant to fall in love with this movie.  It is the best film I have seen in ages.

Just as there is a real art to racing in the rain (we'll get back to that in a moment), it takes a gifted touch to tell a story from a dog's point of view.  I have to admit I'd never before gotten into stories told by talking dogs.  It just wasn't my thing.

Why, then, was this movie different?  What made it so moving and beautiful?  Why was I crying from the opening scene on?

When it comes right down to it, I would have to say there was a true Zen quality to Enzo that spoke to my heart.  Though the film uses auto racing as a muse to supply life lessons, it is the dog who is in many ways, and at the same time, both the messenger and the message.  

As Denny and Enzo experience life's many joys and heartaches together, they are each what the other needs in the process of moving toward what they will become—who they will become.  In sharing their bond vicariously, I also found myself reflecting on where I am headed in my own life.

So, let's get back to the art of racing in the rain—the art of dealing with circumstances that others may find daunting.  Denny explains to Enzo that his secret to excelling in the racing conditions that cause others to decelerate or crash is to anticipate and actually choose to force the skid that is necessary while traveling through dangerously wet curves.  By controlling the skid, instead of letting it force his vehicle out of control, Denny is able to gain the edge he needs to achieve his dreams.

The movie is chock full of insights for living.  Somehow, when the wisdom is coming from a dog, it seems easier to receive.  Who could resist Enzo (and who would want to even if they could)?  You don't have to be a dog-lover to fall for this leading guy.  Though I cried plenty of tears for Enzo, I also felt an abundance of all of the good things dogs bring into our lives.  

Though movie critics seem to enjoy panning this film, it is clear that audiences love it.  I never go by what the critics think.  That is their job—to criticize.  

The actors, the messages, and especially the dogs... pure gold.  I highly recommend this film.  



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Deep Creek - Book Review

Deep Creek by Pam Houston
Terrifying splendor.  Wonder nested in grief.  Reconciling grief and hope.  Traveling the world over to discover the real adventure awaits you at home.  Creating a life in the midst of a thousand departures.  Savoring the one thousand arrivals that bring you to you—to your home of homes.  This is Deep Creek.

In Deep Creek, Finding Hope in the High Country, author, teacher, ranching greenhorn, and survivor, Pam Houston, takes us inside the paradox of becoming.  Though we may initially think the genesis of this homecoming odyssey is Houston's purchase of a dream ranch and homestead in the Colorado Rockies, the larger revelation, as unveiled through linked essays, is how her connections to nature, animals, trauma, and eventual healing come together in perfectly imperfect ways to build a life filled with gratitude and wonder.

This is a memoir that finds its essence in those spaces where two disparate elements are held together.  For instance, while the West Fork wildfire is threatening to destroy Houston's beloved ranch, she is able to stand amazed at the extreme beauty of the raging firestorm.  There is a breathtaking awe to be felt in the face of the fury that might destroy everything you own.  This capacity of the author to appreciate the splendor of potential devastation turns something bleak into something transformative.

Likewise, while Houston explores the grief associated with climate change, she simultaneously urges us to sing the song that is the language of wilderness and to feel a certain joy within the mourning.   In this manner, one may begin to reconcile grief and hope.

Besides these themes, there is more to appreciate while reading Deep Creek.  If you love animals, there are horses, mini donkeys, Icelandic sheep, Irish wolfhounds, and chickens.  And then there is the glory of Colorado's San Juan Mountains and the Upper Rio Grande Basin.  For those who dream of living on their very own piece of land, there is plenty to stoke that fantasy.

I was drawn to Deep Creek for many reasons.  As one who lives in Colorado's San Luis Valley, I have  been to the places shared by the author.  To experience them through another's perspective, makes those places come alive in a new way.  Houston's affection for her animals also resonates deeply with me.  To read of how the land has been so significant in her becoming who she is today, reinforces my own connections to this place that is growing me into the fullness of my own being.

If you need any more reasons to read this book, read it because the writing is compelling.  Read it because the author is an enigma.  Read it to contemplate how you become who you are in relationship to what matters to you.  Read it to celebrate the life that emerges when you dare to dance with paradox.














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Monday, February 19, 2018

The Guilty Book Review

In The Guilty, David Baldacci takes you on a non-stop, action packed adventure in Cantrell, Mississippi.

When a top ranked government assassin is unable to perform his job, he heads home to deal with unresolved issues from his past and winds up embroiled in his father's murder investigation.

Making matters more difficult is the fact that he has been estranged from his father for 20 years. Talking to his father is no easier now than it was when he was a lad and his father's life being on the line does not seem to make a difference. His father wants no help from his son and is resigned to his own personal situation.

Robie, however, refuses to let his father take the murder charge without fighting back. His efforts, combined with those of an equally skilled coworker, to save his dad eventually help him start a proper relationship with his father. Better late than never, as they say. It turns out that his book is about murder and about family.

I was amazed at the action that took place in the first half of the book, which meant that there was lots more still to come. It was fast paced and hard to put down.

Yes, The Guilty is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED by me. Read more about it or order your copy from Amazon by clicking right here.

As it turns out, The Guilty is number four in a series called Will Robie and David Baldacci has written many other books, which I look forward to checking out. It is always great to find a new author that you enjoy and if all of Baldacci's books are as good as this one, I will have some more sleep deprived nights ahead.

See you
At the bookstore!
Brenda
Treasures By Brenda

Quick Links:

Order The Guilty from Amazon here.
See David Baldacci's author biography on Amazon.




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Kristin Hannah’s Home Front Book Review

HOME FRONT is an excellent fictional story by Kristin Hannah. I previously reviewed and loved Hannah’s The Nightingale, which sent me looking for more titles by this author.

It is a relationship story and a war story. It features a husband and wife who seem to be perfectly situated with a wonderful marriage, great careers and lovely children. However, as happens, they have drifted apart and are headed for disaster and when she is sent overseas to Iraq and the rift is almost too much for this family to bear.

This novel presents an interesting role reversal with the mother a helicopter pilot and the man trying to maintain order at home. What happens is dark and dreadful and presents a mountain for this family to surpass.

Here is the official video book trailer. In this trailer, I think the book is represented in a very light and fluffy manner especially given that divorce and military service are not easy things to deal with.



I believe that this second video, in which Hannah Kristin discusses the book, does a better job of representing the issues faced by the family in Home Front and by families in the same situation.



Hannah calls the book “the best, most emotional book she has ever written” and goes on to say that it is about “love, honor, duty, commitment, sacrifice.” I agree that it was an emotional book. It is RECOMMENDED by me and yes, you will cry. For what it is worth, I preferred the book The Nightingale.

Have you read either book? What did you think?

If you are interested, you can see all of Kristin Hannah’s books including Home Front on Amazon here.

See you
at the book store!
Brenda

Quick Links:

Buy Home Front from Amazon.
See all of Hannah's books on Amazon.


Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Review of The Replacement Wife by Eileen Goudge



The Replacement Wife, by Eileen Goudge, attempts to answer the question, “How would it work out practically if a wife with a terminal illness tried to select the one her husband should remarry after her death?

Camille is a professional and very successful matchmaker. She has been to the weddings of many happy clients. So when she learned her cancer, which had been in remission, had returned and even spread, she began to lose hope that she would live to see her two children grow up. Her doctor gave her a 3% chance to live, and that was only if she submitted to another stem cell replacement transplant. She was not sure she wanted to go through that kind of fight again with so little chance of winning.

She is so upset by the prognosis, that she stops off at a bar on the way home. Her physician husband Edward has left a message saying he has to work late again, and she knows the children are home alone, with her fourteen-year-old daughter in charge of her nine-year-old brother, Zach.

Her memories flash back to her own childhood. Her mother had died when Camille was only fourteen, the same age as her daughter Kyra. Camille's father was a traveling man, gone three weeks of every month. Only their live-in housekeeper Rosa, who could barely speak English, was there for her and her eleven-year-old sister Holly. Her grandmother Agnes lived on the other side of the country. Agnes called often, suspicious that her son never seemed to be there. Camille had manufactured an imaginary friend of her mother's so she could give Agnes a name when she demanded to know who besides Rosa was looking after them. She was afraid of having herself and Holly reported as being left on their own and placed in foster care. She found herself taking charge of the household the way her mother had, making sure her father remembered birthdays, meetings with teachers, etc. She never wanted Kyra to have to go through what she did.

Camille's husband Edward had been a rock to her during her illness. But that illness had also disrupted their relationship to the point where he no longer looked forward to going home. Camille's illness had been in remission so long he now felt things were finally able to go back to normal. While Camille had been getting her bad news, he'd been visiting a travel agent, getting information on places they might vacation to celebrate their approaching 20th anniversary. He felt that could be a new beginning for them.

When Edward and Camille were finally alone after the children went to bed that night, Edward was devastated by Camille's news and he urged Camille to fight for her life. Camille was reluctant since there were no new experimental drugs she qualified to try. She had another plan. She decided she would use her professional skills as a matchmaker to find her replacement as Edward's wife and as a mother for her children.

Edward was not receptive to this idea. He insisted he only wanted Camille. He was not eager to remarry. She insisted the children needed a stable life and someone there for them when they came home. She envisioned them coming home to an empty house as their dad continued to work late almost every night. She didn't want Kyra to have a childhood like hers. She insisted Edward come to the next “meet and greet” she threw for her single clients so that he might find someone. It all seemed very logical to her.

What she hadn't counted on was the human element. People like making their own decisions. She also hadn't counted on getting into a new drug trial that put her cancer back in remission. You will have to read the book to find out what happened to all concerned.

The plot intrigued me. What married woman with children would not wonder what would become of her family if she died? But I also wondered how trying to play God with relationships in this situation would work? It's one thing to know and even hope your husband would remarry. It's quite another to try to find another woman to marry him shortly after you are gone, and have her spending time getting to know your husband and children while you are still alive and watching everything -- even to have her along on family vacations.


I would recommend this book to anyone who is intrigued with human drama, how relationships, marriages and families work, and what cancer patients experience not just physically, but emotionally. I believe the author took a question – How would it work if a wife picked her own replacement? – and turned it into a well-thought-through novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, though I might have wished for a different ending.  



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Every Bush is Burning by Brandon Clements, A Review

Christians Aren't Perfect


Of course, you already knew that. Every Bush Is Burning shines a harsh light on today's Christian churches in AmericaI don’t know what I was expecting when I started reading this Christian novel, but not what it turned out to be.  The book is hard to define. It’s fiction, but it’s also somewhat of a sermon and an indictment of American Christianity. It brings to mind the bumper sticker “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”



















Meet Jack


The book begins and ends with Jack Bennett, a newspaper columnist, writing a letter on his laptop in a coffee shop, supposedly to another regular, whom he’s seen there often and never spoken to. He admits to being very self-centered as he is always wondering how people perceive him. We learn the following about him: He is married with twin three-year-old boys. He lives in South Carolina. He is also having  an affair with a coworker named Jordan. His dad deserted the family when he was very young.  His Uncle Richard often watched Jack and his sister Sara as their mother worked. He molested Sara, and maybe Jack, as well.

He assumes most people are not honest with themselves and live in “zombieland,” as he himself used to and still does part of the time. He decries the fact that most relationships he sees are just surface. People numb themselves with substance abuse, and television when they feel hopeless and don’t want to think about their lives.

He hates advertising for its lies and false promises.  First it works on making people feel depressed because of what they don’t have. Then it promises that whatever product it is selling will make people feel better and help fill their emptiness. He points out that although we live in one of the world’s richest countries and we have luxuries, comfort, and every possible kind of entertainment people are still “exceedingly bored.”

Jack Bennett writes “We’ve all become experts at diverting our dissatisfaction into entertainment and a thousand other places, but it’s inescapable. We’re like kids at Christmas, unwrapping gift after gift only to find coal inside the box.... then we look around with darting eyes for the next present…” hoping it will be different than those we’ve already opened. One present Jack opened was Jordan, with whom he had the affair.

Do Church Billboards Tell the Truth?


One morning Jack is driving to work and sees a billboard for a well-known church with an ad in big letters ‘CHRISTIANTITY IS THE BEST THING FOR OUR BROKEN WORLD.’ He was frustrated by this because he felt this church was more a political social club for upper middle class white people.  He then wrote a column blasting the Christian religion as practiced in America. He mentioned the hypocrisy, scandals, lack of compassion for the poor and homeless, a judgmental attitude, and more. He concluded that although he had nothing against Christ, he sure didn’t like Christians, who were nothing like the Christ they supposedly followed. In the next chapter he tells some stories from his childhood that help the reader see why he is so sure his assessment of the church is correct. I won’t go into detail on those here.

On the next Sunday he passes another church, a smaller one, where he normally sees signs he thinks are hilarious. He was hoping to see another funny one and he wasn’t disappointed. He saw ‘What if Jack is Right About us?’ He couldn’t help pulling in to the parking lot. That’s when he first saw Yeshua, a homeless man knocking on the church door. Yeshua tells Jack an usher had escorted him back outside after he had been inside. The congregation was singing “I have decided to follow Jesus.”

Jack and Yeshua


At first I thought this would be like those stories you hear about people picking up hitchhikers who turn out to be a unique blessing, say something that makes you realize they know more than they could know naturally, and then just disappear. Jack offers to take the man out for a meal, they talk, and he introduces himself as Yeshua.

At breakfast, they discuss Jack’s column, which Yeshua has read. It’s evident that although Yeshua admits Jack was right about the particular church he wrote about, he still had a lot to learn. They agree to meet for breakfast every Sunday. At the end of their meal, as Yeshua is leaving, he tells Jack there is just one more thing he’d like Jack to do for him during the coming week: repent of cheating on his wife and beg her for forgiveness. Yeshua says if Jack doesn’t do that, he will expose the affair.

Jack is stunned. How does Yeshua know about his wife Chloe and the fact that he’s cheating on her? He had considered himself so careful and discreet.  He tries to figure out who could have revealed his secret. He later finds that Yeshua knows a lot more than that about him and his family secrets.

Who is Yeshua Really?


The rest of the book deals with Jack’s attempt to make things right with Chloe, who is  badly hurt and has no desire to forgive him or save the marriage. He also wants to help his sister Sara through her depression and substance abuse, and to find himself and meaning for his own life. Yeshua is able to nudge him in a number of right directions, including having him  take Sara to a Christian recovery group that is like a family. Yeshua becomes a big part of his and even Sara’s life.

Because of certain inconsistencies I saw in Yeshua’s character, I was pretty sure he wasn't a Jesus figure, even though he didn’t say he wasn’t Jesus. It wasn’t evident who he really was, though,  until it was revealed at the end.  I have to admit I didn’t see it coming. The book kept me interested because I wanted to see what happened to all the characters and find out the real story of who Yeshua was. One thing he did was preach a lot to Jack. Some people might find that off-putting.

What Was the Author's Purpose?


I would say one purpose of this book is to be a wake-up call to those who are leading empty and unsatisfying lives because they have not yet found their significance and worth in the knowledge of how much God loves them.  Since I am already a believer, I’m not sure how this would have hit me had I not been. The author is hoping to show his readers that what they see in certain versions of the Gospel being preached in many churches and in the media is a false  Gospel, not based on the Bible at all, and designed to appease the flesh rather than feed the spirit.

Another purpose of the book is probably to show those who frequent churches that their worship may not really be worship that God is pleased with at all. Clements definitely attacks self-righteousness and spiritual pride, as well as the attitude that we can be good enough to win God’s favor, that we can “buy” the water of eternal life with our good works, instead of coming to God with empty hands and a repentant spirit, knowing our true condition.

This book is available in paperback or as a digital book for your Kindle.


A More Positive View of Christians


To see a contrasting and more positive view of Christians in a series for young adults, read my review of  In Between, the first book, in the series. It's the story of a sixteen-year-old foster child whose mother had just gone to prison. She had been in a group home for six months and raised herself before that, and you can taste her fear as she drives with her social worker to meet her foster parents. I couldn't put the book own and had to buy all the books in the series within a week after I read the first one.


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