Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Salon: October 26, 2014

The Sunday

The Scene: 5:45 am (Pacific Time) - am in SFO visiting friends so thought I would use the time difference making me a morning person and get some blogging done - finally!!

Reading: Lots of time to read this week with the 5+ hour flight out here so I finished most of the newest Shopaholic book by Sophie Kinsella - Shopaholic to the Stars. What an enjoyable way to spend a flight! Every time I pick up one of these books, I secretly worry that I will have outgrown Becky's antics or find it all too far fetched but the author does such a good job of making Becky loveable that I am never disappointed!

I had the chance this week to attend a fun event in NYC celebrating the author and her new book - Girls Night Out with Sophie Kinsella.  The event was held at the Red Door Spa - Union Square and in addition to the author speaking and signing, they had delicious food, wine and little spa stations dotted through out where people were getting make-up applied and having custom-matched foundation mixed up.  A fun way to spend a Monday for sure!  Unfortunately, my phone died as I walked in that night so I don't have pics of the festivities but you can check them out at Random House's Facebook Page.  As you can see by the pics, Random House does an excellent job with these events - they attend to every detail.  If you are in NY in November, I recommend joining them for their Open House on Friday, November 14th.  I attended the first one a few years ago and it was a great day of books, authors and mingling.  Let me know in the comments if you plan to be there this year.

Got my book autographed!

Listening: On the recommendation of Diane (from Bookchick Di), I am listening to We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. So far I am really enjoying it and keep trying to find excuses to settle in with it (out for walks, cleaning the apartment).

Blogging: Much like California, this blog has hit a dry patch.  I apologize for the long absences between posts for most of this year.  I have been reading books and following many of your blogs, but somehow haven't always been able to muster the time and energy to settle down and blog here. As many of you know, I had surgery earlier this year and used that as a catalyst to get serious about getting back into shape and losing weight.  It has been a great year and I am thrilled with the results but honestly that has taken a lot of my attention.  As I rediscovered jogging, boot camp and just generally moving a lot more, it has been hard to sit and write at times. I find myself more readily drawn to Twitter and Instagram for quick updates.   As the year comes to a close, I intend to make a decision about the blog.  I will either reinvigorate things here or decide that it is time to move on.  Thanks for staying with me through this and please stay tuned!  If you have secrets for balancing blogging and keeping things fresh, please leave them in the comments!

Watching : Not much right now - I had been on vacation to Ireland for 10 days and then just back a few days before coming out here so haven't been watching much.  I will have stuff stockpiled when I get back to TV watching.

Looking Forward To: Getting my pics from Ireland downloaded from my DSLR - I was snap happy!  We had gorgeous weather (NEVER a given in Ireland) so everything looked that bit more picturesque. I absolutely love it there and this trip we got to some sights that either I saw as a kid and don't remember or saw for this first time on this trip including the Cliffs of Moher and the Giant's Causeway. Below is an iPhone pic of each from my trip.  I have some more pics on Instagram if you are interested.

Giant's Causeway

Cliffs of Moher (with Rainbow!)

Grateful: For the chance to travel to great destinations like Ireland and San Francisco - and for the comforts of home when I return!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review: Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan

Land of Dreams by Kate Kerrigan is the third book in the series which features Ellie Hogan who leaves Ireland and starts her life anew in New York. In this installment, Ellie ends up in LA after her oldest son takes off there to pursue a career in acting. While in LA, Ellie, now almost 50, reflects on her life to date and has some important revelations about how she has arrived in this point in life and what matters to her most.

When Ellie's son Leo runs away from his boarding school to follow an agent to LA to be part of the movies, Ellie's maternal instinct kicks in and she immediately packs up to travel across the country and bring her boy home. Recently widowed when her second husband is killed in Pearl Harbor, Ellie is alone again and her boys are all she has - they are her purpose and she must protect them. She intends to locate her son and immediately return to NY with him but when she sees her shy, reserved son come alive at the prospect of a career in acting she relents and decides to stay while Leo completes his contract with Paramount. Always one to gather a community around her, Ellie brings out the elderly Bridie, an Irish woman that has been like a mother to Ellie and a Nan to her sons, to live with her and the boys. She also takes in Freddie, Leo's down on his luck agent, and Freddie's vacuous girlfriend Crystal. Together they pass their days adjusting to life in sunny California at the fringes of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle.

Despite swearing off men following the loss of two husbands, Ellie finds herself captivated and pursued by Stan, a Polish composer who writes scores for Hollywood films. Ellie is her own worst enemy in her relationship with Stan and tries to sabotage it at every turn but she can't deny her feelings for him and constantly finds herself back with him. While coping with her relationship with Stan, she is also facing the decline of her dear friend, Bridie. Bridie's tough exterior can't hide the onset of dementia and Ellie must dedicate herself to keeping Bridie safe while maintaining the older woman's dignity.

My Thoughts
I really enjoyed the first two books in this series (my review of Ellis Island and my review of City of Hope) so I was happy to "meet" Ellie again in this final installment. She is as feisty as ever but her fire is tinged with self awareness - she is now fifty and spends much of the book reflecting on the choices that have gotten her to this point in her life and seeing patterns in her behavior. This maturity in Ellie is appealing and tempers some of her more impulsive schemes. Perhaps my favorite part of this book is the relationship between Ellie and Bridie - tough Bridie tells it like it us but also is vulnerable as old age begins to take its toll.  She is aware that she is failing but is also fiercely proud and fights to maintain her dignity.  Ellie rises to this challenge and takes care of Bridie as she would if Bridie were her mother.  Bridie provides continuity in Ellie's story as she has been with her since she first arrived in the US and she also creates an opportunity for Ellie to show her gentler side as she cares for the older woman.

Although it is the third book in a series, Land of Dreams can stand on his own - the author references what happened in the first two books enough to make the connections to this story. But I feel the real strength in the book is Ellie and you can appreciate her so much more if you have read the first two books.  If you read Land of Dreams first, go back and read the other two!