Beautiful Ruins

ahhh silence! 
It's hard to find in this house but Rebel is golfing at Men's Night and the Rs are in bed. It's a little early for R1 but this mom needed a couple things: a) silence (save the low volume of the RHOC reunion in the background) and b) her drink of choice, box wine. (don't judge people). 

Ok so, Beautiful Ruins

I felt like I was really all over that map (literally) trying to keep up with the who, what, when of this book, but I am going to give it a shot. 

Who: lots of people! Um, Pasquale, an Italian hotel keeper, Dee, an American actress who has NO idea what is going on, a couple endearing Italian fishermen, and a couple other characters. Even Liz Taylor and Richard Burton make cameos in the book. Pretty much anyone you can dream shows up in this book. It's part of its charm and part of why it's a little hard to keep up. Then, you'll meet lots of children, friends and other connected to these two people...

Pasquale meets Dee...Dee knows two men, one of whom she had a love affair with...the two set off a series of events that transcend 50 years and you get to experience it all. Pasquale knows secrets that affect Dee and she doesn't know those secrets...It's Young and the Restless meets The Real Housewives of New Jersey meets Sex and The City...and I LOVE IT! 

Can two people exist and not end up together but still have an effect on one another's  lives years later? Apparently, YES! 

What: The book starts of in the 1960s. You find Pasquale living in this idyllic tiny village on the edges of a few cliffs on the coast of Italy. He's realistic because he loves his mother and mourns the loss of his father but he's someone you'll crush on because he dreams of putting a tennis court on an oceanic cliff. I could smell the salt and hear the waves, and I love all the random dorky fishermen that I got to know. I loved how the author made it seem like the beautiful appearance of a American woman seem like a figment of  Pasquale's imagination. She's an air head, but in a Marilyn-esque likable way. You'll see why when you read it.

This book has it all. Lovely settings....check...lies, check, illegitimate children, check, drugs, check..regret, check...I mean really. You name it,  you have it.

Where: Italy. Seattle. New York. 

When: 1960s, a little bit of the 70s and present day. Who doesn't love a little bit of gossips from actual actors of the 60s?? 

How: A series of setting changes.  Also, it is told by multiple different characters. This book may lose you at some point during the multiple changes of setting, years and countries and storytellers. 1960, present day, 1970s. Please hang in there the author "sets the stage" and  the last 30% of the book IS SO GOOD. Alot of the characters are actors and screenwriters and there  is a part of the book that I actually was THANKING and nodding my head at the author, saying THANK YOU for this certain part of the book...

There are alot of untied loose ends and then at the end... the author creates the most perfect ending. He ties it all up in a perfect little bow. I sighed when I got to that part... it's perfect. 

Here is one  of my favorite passages: 

"It all happens so fast, you wake a young man and at lunch are middle aged, and by dinner you can imagine your death. And were you happy? Dee asks, and he answers Oh, Yes, without hesitation, then thinks about it and adds, Not always, of course, but I think more than most people..."

My favorites: I find that a lot of my favorite books span the length of the character's lifetimes. I met Pasquale as a cute, wistful, hopeful 21 year old and left him a seasoned, happy, 70 some year old man. I met Dee, a hopeful, helpless 22 year old with not much going for her and left her a wise, delicate woman named Debra... and then you get to meet a huge cast of characters that all revolve around these two...

Why:....hmmm why read it? Because there are actually 4 or 6 books within this book. Lots of lifetimes... so many choices that effect the rest of the lives of the characters... and there are some many connections! If this book where a Venn diagram, you would need 3D glasses.

 Gloriously inventive, constantly surprising, Beautiful Ruins is a story of flawed yet fascinating people, navigating the rocky shores of their lives while clinging to their improbable dreams.

So, read it, but stay patient. And pay attention to the beautiful scenery.  Don't be afraid to Google the "Italian coasts" to give you a visual.

Tiny Beautiful Book


Opened a new book today:

I knew I would love it when I read the intro. And since intros are just, well, intros, I figured it was off to a pretty good start. 

"Tiny Beautiful Things will endure as a piece of literary art, as will Cheryl's other book, because they do the essential work of literary art: they make us more human that we were before. We need books and Cheryl's book are particular, because we are all, in the private kingdom of our hearts, desperate for the company of a wise true friend. Someone who isn't embarrassed by our emotions, or her own, who recognizes that life is short and that all we have to offer, in the end, is love.:


Upon further research (I love that saying) I find out the author of this book was once an anonymous online advice columnist. This book is a compilation of letters coupled with her responses. The whole book is like a warm cup of tea and a punch in the gut at the same time. She is so ballsy and in yo face. And I love it! Here are some of my dog ears: 

Forgiveness doesn't sit there like a pretty boy in a bar. Forgiveness is the old fat guy you have to haul up a hill. 

(To a mother who wrote because she's concerned about her temper towards her small children) I've also behaved in ways towards my children that I regret. Find a mother who hasn't. I have every belief that you'll learn how to let your anger be only what it is and nothing more- a storm that passes harmlessly through you and peters out into the softest rain before it fades into sun."

"We are obligated to the people we care about and who care about us, to tell them we love them as soon as we feel it. Tackle the mother-f***ing shit out of LOVE."

Now you see why I love her so? Luckily Cheryl didn't stop at this book. She's also the author of WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Which I just happen to be listening to on audio book. I've already  written a smidget about it. 

Those passages are just a few of the ones that spoke to me but she doesn't just talk about love and marriage (go to together like a horse and carriage...) She also gives advice on financial woes and whether or not to have a threesome. (intrigued now, aren't cha?!) 

Fifty Shades of Ehh

There I was, some random morning, browsing my FB newsfeed, when I see some distant relative's post about reading "Fifty Shades of Grey." 

"I just have to know what it's all about" she says.

Me, being the nosy person I am, immediately Google the book. Amazon gives a very vague description : "Erotic, amusing, and deeply moving, the Fifty Shades Trilogy is a tale that will obsess you, possess you, and stay with you forever."

Boring. So I scroll down to the reviews... 

5.0 out of 5 stars Deeply Disturbing, Compelling and Completely Addicting
"I am not into BDSM stories, but I have to say that I really loved this one. This was one of those books that keeps you glued to the pages; staying up reading into the early morning. I found it to be very addicting which is really disturbing for me."

Please don't laugh (I am usually not this niave) but then I had to google what BDSM meant. 

Then I had to look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

Ok, so by this time I was intrigued. What kind of book by a first time, unknown author gets over 5,000 high rated reviews? And how is this dirty little novel on the top seller's list and not tucked into the depths of the $1.99 smut downloads?

Please note that this was back in March, before every woman in American secretly download the "mommy porn" and was fanning themselves with their "How to Spice Up Your Marriage" pamphlets. 

So after making fun of this relative for publicly declaring on FB that she was reading about dirty bondage, I couldn't resist and decided to suggest the book as my book club's next pick. 

Where else would I be able to suggest reading a raunchy bondage novel and have 4 hands shoot up in agreement? 

So the reading began. I will just give you the short end of it.

Read it with no expectations. There is no way to avoid a book that is responsible for a 300% increase in a certain adult toy's sales. (readers will know what I am talking about). 

It's not exceptionally written and the plot isn't that thrilling. I personally enjoyed the descriptions of the rich guy's condo just as much as the sex. Which might prove that I need to get off the "home decor" section of Pinterest and get a real life. 

I liked it at first. I really did. I read all three of the books in less that a month. But now, as I am rereading  parts of the book, I am slightly embarrassed.  Case in point: 

"Glancing guiltily over my shoulder at the door, I feel the bristles of the toothbrush. They are damp. He must have used it already. Grabbing it quickly, I squirt toothpaste on it and brush my teeth in double-quick time. I feel so naughty. It's such a thrill." 

Oh, no you didn't. Bad Anastasia, bad.

Maybe it's because everyone loves the book. It's like my dirty guilty pleasure got uncovered and passed on and now it's the uber "cool" thing to read, which makes it uncool to all the people who discovered it before the masses. (my 13 year old self is rolling her eyes: "that was SO 5 minutes ago).

I really don't hate the books, I just giggle at them in retrospect. There was some actual hot scenes. And don't get me wrong, the main character is hot, smoldering, pouty, rich and irresistible. What's not the like? I am sure I will watch the movie. I will never deny reading them. But that's only because I can follow up with discussing more meaningful books and substantial contributions the literary world. 

You Can Quote Me On That

I have loved quotes forever. It one of my bedrooms growing up, I had little scraps of paper Scotch-taped to the window sills, walls and doors, covering any available surface. They were filled with my childish cursive, featuring quotes from books and song lyrics. I think I felt validated when I read something I felt that someone else had written. It was as if I was finding pieces of myself out in the world. Most of the books I own have underlined passages and dog-eared pages. Thank goodness Amazon knew my style of reading and made highlighting passages in books a feature on the Kindle. They know me so well. 

So here are some of the quotes that have stuck with me over the years.  The first few are from my all time favorite book, Love In The Time of Cholera (which will have it's very own blog post soon).

“With her Florentino Ariza learned what he had already experienced many times without realizing it: that one can be in love with several people at the same time, feel the same sorrow with each, and not betray any of them. Alone in the midst of the crowd on the pier, he said to himself in a flash of anger: 'My heart has more rooms than a whorehouse.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

“It was the year they fell into devastating love. Neither one could do anything except think about the other, dream about the other, and wait for letters with the same impatience they felt when they answered them.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

“...The girl raised her eyes to see who was passing by the window, and that casual glance was the beginning of a cataclysm of love that still had not ended half a century later.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezLove in the Time of Cholera

"You is kind, you is smart, you is important"
-The Help

“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds. And that's what you've given me. That's what I'd hoped to give you forever” 
― Nicholas Sparks

“You love me. Real or not real?"
I tell him, "Real.” 
― Suzanne CollinsMockingjay

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” 
― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” 
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

“Finding someone you love and who loves you back is a wonderful, wonderful feeling. But finding a true soul mate is an even better feeling. A soul mate is someone who understands you like no other, loves you like no other, will be there for you forever, no matter what. They say that nothing lasts forever, but I am a firm believer in the fact that for some, love lives on even after we're gone.” 
― Cecelia AhernP.S. I Love You

“You should never hate anyone, even your worst enemies. Everyone has something good about them. You have to find the redeeming quality and love the person for that.” 
― Jeannette WallsThe Glass Castle

“Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love.” 
― Wally LambShe's Come Undone

“...tell them that we have some good in us, too. And the only thing worth living for is the good. That’s why we’ve got to make sure we pass it on.” 
― Billie LettsWhere the Heart Is

“It always takes two. For relationships to work, for them to break apart, for them to be fixed.” 
― Emily GiffinHeart of the Matter

“I think of how each person in a marriage owes it to the other to find individual happiness, even in a shared life. That this is the only way to grow together, instead of apart.” 
― Emily GiffinHeart of the Matter
“I believe in love. I believe in hard times and love winning. I believe marriage is hard. I believe people make mistakes. I believe people can want two things at once. I believe people are selfish and generous at the same time. I believe very few people want to hurt others. I believe that you can be surprised by life. I believe in happy endings.” 
― Isabel GilliesHappens Every Day: An All-Too-True Story
Gone Girl By: Gillian Flynn
 Who: Amy and Nick, a married couple who have ups and downs, due to moving from NYC to rural Missouri to take care of Nick's sick mother and father. I went back and forth and back again trying to decide if I liked Nick. I think the author does an amazing job twisting and turning his character, as if he's in a movie and the camera is zooming in and around him, giving you different views of his mind. One minute I wanted to be sitting next to him on the couch with a cup of coffee listening to him tell his side of the story and the next paragraph, his graphic descriptions of imagining his wife bleeding on the kitchen floor make me shudder. Amy is a hard character to love. She's whiny and resentful but at the same time, I understood her attitude towards living in rural Missouri. (hello!) Her role in this book changes so many times. She sheds characters like Lady Gaga on tour. There are, of course, more characters than Nick and Amy. There's Nick's twin sister, Margo. She's the lighthouse. She says things through out the book and I caught myself nodding when she talked. I wanted to be on her side, I wanted her to like me.
What: Nick comes home from his job on his fifth wedding anniversary to find his house robbed and his wife missing. The book moves quickly, weaving a complicated timeline of events leading up to her disappearance. Just when you think you have the story figured out: (Who took Amy? Where is she? Is she alive? Is Nick really a douche bag or do I have a crush on him?) You'll get slapped upside the head with a new detail. I want to wring Nick's neck. I hate him. And then I loved him. I wanted to yell at the stupid investigators on the case to lay off his back...then I would yell at Nick. "Stop being stupid, act like you care your wife is missing!" (Please note that I do not actually talk out loud or think "Nick" is going to talk back).

I read an interview with the author about her creation of the abandoned mall where drug dealers live. Her description stuck with me. I could hear the echo of the floor and the rustle of the dead leaves as people walk through the aisles. So it didn't surprise me that she said in the interview that she had that mall in her mind before she even wrote the story. She knew that place was just going to show up in one of her books.

 It's a love story with a love that neither character can handle which is why it gets so incredibly out of control. The one clue I will give you is one of the characters is bat shit crazy and it is really fun once you figure out which one it is.

When: Summer, 2011
Where: Rural Missouri (one of the things that spoke to me while I read the sample)
How: How the story is told is interesting. It shifts between diary entries from Amy, prior to her disappearance and Nick's point of view after she is gone. I love books written with more than one perspective. The author uses the two characters to weave not only different voices, she also explains the same exact scenes and events through both characters. It gives the story an onion skin-- layers after layers of details.

In short, I would say read Gone Girl. It's such a different book for me to be drawn to but I loved it more than any book I have read in quite a while.