Book Review – Love in a Small Village

Originally posted on Marcus Case:

At this point, a quick declaration of interest. I follow Nanette Field’s blog and she has been kind enough to comment on several of my posts.

Once in a while I come across something special. Love in a Small Village by Nanette Field is one such book. It will certainly appeal to those who enjoy chick lit and romantic comedy reads, but my guess is that it could easily entertain readers well beyond those genres.

Field’s writing is fun. It’s as simple as that. Her novel pulsates with the humour that’s so evident in her hilarious blog. Once encountered, never forgotten. Her style is not only lively and engaging, it also feels new and fresh. The prose is crisp and clean, the dialogue tight, and with its upbeat tone I found this book a delight to read. I was also impressed with the presentation – this is one self-published…

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Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

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Louie Zamperini was an amazing man.

As a spirited boy he was on the path to delinquency until the support of his brother, combined with his natural athletic ability, led him instead to the Olympics. At nineteen he was the youngest competitor in his event. He didn’t win a medal, but he left the Berlin Games determined to do better at the next games in four years.

His biography would have been the inspiring story of a record-breaking track and field star if World War II hadn’t interrupted his sporting career.

He joined the Army Air Corps. Unbroken tells the story of Louie’s experience as a bombardier in the South Pacific.

At times it’s difficult to read because Louie is such a likeable character and terrible things happen to him.

His plane crashes in the Pacific. Louie and his fellow survivor spend forty-seven days drifting on a rubber raft before they’re captured by the Japanese and interned in a POW camp.

Unbroken doesn’t end with Japan’s surrender, Louie’s liberation and vague implications of happily ever after. It’s a better book than that.

We follow him home and witness his challenges reintegrating into normal life. We know so much more about conditions like PTSD now, yet we still lose returning military personnel to suicide. Back in Louie’s day there no support and he struggled to regain his mental and emotional wellbeing.

I won’t give away too much, but the title is Unbroken and against the odds, Louie does indeed remain unbroken.

The Purse Whisperer

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My friend D rarely buys purses. (She’s more a shoe and coat person.) So it was exciting when she emailed a picture of her new handbag.

I liked it…really liked it…so much that I went to visit it at Hudson’s Bay.

I examined it. Carried it around the purse department and even took out the paper stuffing to see how it would hang if it wasn’t stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.

But I didn’t buy it. Although I really liked the purse, I know that I can be influenced by peer pressure. (I’m lucky I hung with a nice group in high school or I might have gotten into some serious trouble.) Did I want the handbag just because D had it?

“I want your purse,” I said the next time I talked to D. (So much for introspection about my propensity to be guided by peer pressure!)

“Then buy it.”

“You won’t think I’m some creepy purse stalker?”

She sighed. “Just get the purse if you love it that much.”

I’m calling it my post-strike treat.

D called the next day.

“I bought our purse,” I said.

“I knew you would. It’s lovely.”

“Lovely and on sale! Mine was $65 less than yours.”

“No!!!”

“Yes,” I said. “Clearly the shopping gods like me more than they like you.”

She grumbled a bit.

“Have you bought anything else I might like?” I asked.

Dragon out the Process

After months of discussions, internet research and giggles (there are some funny boat names out there!) we’ve begun the process of renaming our boat.

And what a process it’s been!

Choosing the name was only the first step. We had to go to the boat shop to see the colour palette to pick the shade for the text. Then there was the search for graphics that would look good on the back (sorry, aft end) of the boat while enhancing the name.

Once we settled on the graphics, I made a mad lunchtime visit to the boat shop to select a different text colour as our initial choice would’ve clashed with the pictures.

My sailor delegated all this running around and organizing to me, which slowed the process because of my tendency to procrastinate.

But we got there–finally choosing not only name, text colour and font style, but accompanying images.

Once we had everything picked out, I cut and pasted the images and text together. Because I’m the least technical person on the West Coast, this involved actual scissors and a glue stick, along with detailed hand-written notes and arrows further clarifying what my sailor would’ve accomplished with a few clicks of a mouse. Then I used my phone to take a picture of my creation and emailed it to the boat shop.

We’ve just okayed the graphic artist’s version of my handiwork.

Since it’s not done, I don’t want to spill the beans completely.

Here’s a hint:

My sailor, following generations of mariners who’ve paid tribute to their lady loves by naming their vessels after them, chose this picture.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

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Woo hoo! Thanksgiving’s next weekend!

It’s my favourite long weekend because of the magic three: amazing food, mild autumn weather and time to appreciate all that turkey goodness with my wonderful family. This year will be extra special because we’ll all be together. (Last Thanksgiving my Sailor was in Afghanistan and I was a nervous wreck, but he came home safely so we’ll focus on the positive.)

I love the idea of giving thanks for all the blessings in life, but I’m usually too stressed about things beyond my control to be thankful.

Fortunately, the most amazing source of all information (the internet) has tons of stuff about gratitude and thankfulness. Mind Body Green caught my attention with its “scientific proof that being thankful improves your health.” (Does this mean I’m actually harming my health because I’m too worried to be thankful??? I’m going to need some extra wine to get through this gratitude stuff.)

Thankfully (see how I worked that in!) it’s not really so hard to be thankful.

It turns out Oprah was right when she directed us to keep a gratitude journal. Every week, jotting down three to five things you’re grateful for (like season five of The Walking Dead) can lead to increased energy, happiness and hope.

Don’t limit your gratitude practice to journalling. Create art to demonstrate your gratitude. Speak about it. Blog about it. (For example–I’m grateful my Sailor demonstrates his gratitude for our family by cooking me a delicious turkey dinner every year!)

Train yourself to think grateful positive thoughts. This is a hard one for me, but I want some of that joy the grateful people flaunt so I’m going to give it a try.

It’s not like I have much choice. Gratitude combats depression, anxiety and loneliness. With stakes this high, I just hope I can be grateful enough…

A Face Even a Mother Can’t Love

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I like kids.

Many of them are adorable.

I commented on a photo of a co-worker’s children–two gorgeous toddlers with cheeky grins and thick, glossy hair.

“How old are they?” I asked.

“Benson’s four and Rosie’s two.”

“They’re so cute!”

“Really? I’ve always thought they’re funny looking.”

What???

It’s tedious when parents boast about their children, but shouldn’t they at least appreciate them a little?