Thursday, October 30, 2014

Me Before You: Review and Giveaway

As I mentioned before, I picked up Me Before You by bestselling author Jojo Moyes at the airport because my daughter's flight was delayed, and I decided to put my waiting time to good use.  I'd been planning on reading this novel, so when I saw it at the airport shop I knew I'd found my next book.  It took me a long time to read it though--my reading is incredibly slow these days.  I don't know how some of you manage to read so many books!

Set in England near fictitious Stortfold Castle, the book focuses on twenty-six-year-old Louisa Clark, and is written mostly from her point of view in the first person.  After working at The Buttered Bun for six years, Louisa's job ends suddenly when the owner decides to close the café.  Because her family depends on her wages, she applies for work as a caregiver for an acerbic quadriplegic who requires twenty-four-hour care, Will Traynor.  This will be the beginning of a new chapter in Lou's life.

I don't want to give away much more here and spoil the story for potential readers, though you can probably guess what will eventually happen: Lou and Will fall in love.

"Yes only love
can break your heart."
~ Only Love Can Break Your Heart, Neil Young  

I loved this book!  I savored it, a small bit at a time.  It's a moving story, a beautiful, unconventional love story.  Jojo Moyes paces the story perfectly, and it was an exquisite pleasure to read it.  I took my time with this novel, not only because I lacked enough free time for reading, but also because I did not want the book to end.

I am now, officially and unabashedly, a fan of Jojo Moyes.  She's an exceptional writer who creates realistic characters who spring to life through her words.  Lou is a kind-hearted, likable protagonist, and I cared about her happiness.  I also cared about Will, and many of the other main characters.  I enjoyed the setting a great deal, and thought it added to my enjoyment of the story (I'm a bit of an Anglophile).  Me Before You is completely absorbing and touching, and at different times, funny and quite heartbreaking.  I shed more than a few tears while reading this book. 

“You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible.”
~ Me Before You, Jojo Moyes

Me Before You is about living life to the fullest, even when faced with great obstacles and difficult choices.  Will encourages Lou, or "Clark" as he likes to call her, to push herself past her self-imposed limits.  This is my kind of book, heartrending yet positive.  And I've just learned that Me Before You is being made into a movie--I'll dash out to the theater to see it!  I'm now also very interested in reading more books by the prolific and supremely talented Jojo Moyes.

I'd like to share my enjoyment of this book by offering an international giveaway.  I'll send one copy of this book to a randomly chosen reader (U.S./Canada, print or ebook; elsewhere, ebook only).  If you've already read this book, I'll send you another book by Jojo Moyes if you win--just let me know which book you'd like to read!

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For one more chance, mention another book by this author that you've enjoyed.

Enter by 5 PM PST on Monday, November 10.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, November 11.  Best of luck to my readers!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Really Random Tuesday #86: A Book Winner, and a Sassy Quotation


Please help me to congratulate Carl Scott, who has won a copy of My Thinning Years, a memoir by Jon Derek Croteau.  Congratulations, Carl!

Thanks to all who participated in my giveaway, and special thanks to TLC and the publisher, for offering a copy of this book to one of my readers.  We bloggers are fortunate to be able to offer our readers so many wonderful book giveaways!  :)




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This Really Random Tuesday post will be short.  I'm still reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, slowly but surely.  (This will be a book I'll miss reading when I'm done.)  I don't have a recipe to post today (although I'm dreaming of making white bean chili tonight, a recipe I found in my inbox).  I'm not sure it's in "good taste" to share yesterday's humorous quotation from my Wild Words from Wild Women calendar, although at least it's related to books, so:

Shh...

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Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  I often announce my book giveaway winners in these posts.  If you have miscellaneous book news to gather up and are inspired by this idea, "grab" the button for use on your own blog, and add your link to the "master" Mister Linky on the Really Random Tuesday page.

Thanks for stopping by!  Your comments are welcomed. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Really Random Tuesday #85: A Book Winner, and (Short-Term) Reading Plans


Please help me to congratulate Pat from Posting For Now!  She has won a copy of A Brief Moment of Weightlessness: Stories by Victoria Fish.  Pat, I hope you enjoy reading these short stories as much as I did.

If you didn't win this time, please take a look at the many other book giveaways on the right side of my blog.






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What are your short-term reading plans?  I'm looking forward to resuming my reading of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Caught without a book(!), I actually bought this novel at the airport about a month ago while waiting for my daughter, whose flight had been delayed.  I have a few other books that I should begin reading soon.  But tonight, if I'm not bogged down with chores, I hope to get back to Me Before You, and to read at least a chapter or two.  I've enjoyed the book so far, and can't wait to delve back into it.  (If it's cooler this evening I may light a scented candle before I begin reading.)  I'm also in the middle of reading 1984 (or Nineteen Eighty-Four) by George Orwell (a pen name; his real name was Eric Arthur Blair).  Although 1984 is powerful and thought-provoking (my apologies to any lingering Thoughtpolice), I'm finding it a bit dreary and depressing right now, and have been reading it somewhat reluctantly.

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Appearing on random Tuesdays, Really Random Tuesday is a way to post odds and ends--announcements, musings, quotes, photos--any blogging and book-related things you can think of.  I often announce my book giveaway winners in these posts.  If you have miscellaneous book news to gather up and are inspired by this idea, "grab" the button for use on your own blog, and add your link to the "master" Mister Linky on the Really Random Tuesday page.

Thanks for reading!  Your comments are appreciated.

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Thinning Years: Review and Giveaway

"The force inside of me, the commander in chief that was in charge of this war I was waging, was not me, but was actually an extension of my father.  From deep within me, as he had since I was a child, he was ordering me to starve the faggot inside.  At my foundation, conscious or unconscious, I knew that my father would rather I be dead than be gay."
~ My Thinning Years, Jon Derek Croteau


In My Thinning Years: Starving the Gay Within, a memoir by Jon Derek Croteau, published in September of 2014, the author talks a lot about his father, a bully who constantly criticized his wife and three children, Jared, Julie, and Jon.  The youngest of three children who grew up in Ohio and then in Massachusetts, Jon was mesmerized by his mother's loveliness, and was very close to her.  In this book, Jon says that his father, a volunteer athletic coach,  "pushed him into the three sports that he considered manliest: basketball, baseball, and, worst of all, football", even though Jon enjoyed participating in musical theater and was an excellent singer.  Jon was belittled, taunted, and abused by his father, emotionally and physically; his father beat Jon and his siblings with his belt, and he punished them by making them skip meals.  His father often warned Jon not to eat "fattening" foods, and made him feel fat and self-conscious about his body.  Not surprisingly, Jon developed eating disorders as an adolescent; he started to count fat grams and to severely restrict his caloric intake; and he started to run, compulsively.

"I kept running and cutting food from my diet.  Oftentimes, when I'd run endlessly, suffering with determination, I would think about my father.  I wondered if he would be sad if I collapsed on the side of the road."
My Thinning Years, Jon Derek Croteau

No matter what Jon did, it was not good enough for his father, who called him a "sissy" (and worse names), and made him feel terrible about himself.  Jon struggled intensely as a youth, and became despondent and suicidal, largely because his father refused to accept him the way he was.  Jon's father created (or at least contributed significantly to) the homophobic feelings that Jon adopted, and to his disgust with himself as a young man unsure about and unsettled by the onset of his sexual feelings.  Jon admired girls and women, and had many female friends over the years (such as Katie, in preschool), but he did not feel attracted to them.  As an adolescent, Jon did not want to be gay.  He didn't want to be different from the other boys, who lusted after girls, yet he gradually realized that he was different, as he developed strong feelings for his best friend in high school, "Chad". 

"After everything I've seen, my mission is nothing less than to help others."
~ Preface, My Thinning Years, Jon Derek Croteau

I'm touched and grateful when people who have endured very difficult pasts want to share their stories in order to help others.  The author hopes his candid memoir will help others to stop punishing themselves and to accept who they truly are.  My Thinning Years is a thoroughly engaging, touching, and sometimes funny memoir, which presents a portrait of a sensitive and gifted young man growing up with a quick-tempered, abusive, and homophobic father.  Children are at the mercy of their parents, and they tend to internalize their parents' ideas and values.  It upset me to read about Jon's father's beliefs and behavior, and about their profound effects on Jon; his father really was a tyrant.  However, Jon's story is gripping, honest, and well-written, and it's also a hopeful, inspiring story about success.  With the help of family and caring friends, and through an empowering Outward Bound trip, and counseling, Jon learns to accept himself, and he discovers how to best deal with his father, and how to overcome his eating disorders and psychologically grueling past.

Terrific news!  The publisher, Hazelden, is generously offering a copy of this affecting memoir, My Thinning Years, as a giveaway (U.S./Canada only).

  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this contest on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.

Enter by 5 PM PDT on Monday, October 20.  One winner will be selected randomly and announced on Tuesday, October 21.  Good luck! 

Special thanks to Lisa from TLC for sending me an advance copy of this memoir.  For more reviews, giveaways, and other features, please visit the other stops on TLC's book blog tour for My Thinning Years.

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