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    Sunday, August 30, 2009

    Just Between You and Me

    I confess I’ve gotten a little frustrated with some popular fiction out there. You know, those books that get made into movies, so suddenly everyone is reading them, and you read them, thinking, I’ll just follow the other literary lemmings off this deceptively-bland looking cliff. And then you’re stuck treading water in a meaningless story, hoping the author will come along and throw you a plot-saving life preserver.

    No, I’m not bitter. I just won’t get those hours of my precious leisure time back. And, really, that’s nobody’s fault but my own.

    This is why reading Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones was like sailing away from a brain-clouded existence and discovering life, love, adventure, and orange soda-loving natives in a tropical paradise.

    What? You don’t get the metaphor?

    Ok, I’ll be plain. Just Between You and Me is a perfect example of what women’s fiction is supposed to be—moving, meaningful, and freaking hilarious.

    From the get-go, I was in love with the author’s style, her stellar one-liners, the expertly woven threads of tension, and the sizzling romance. A word on the yummiest part of any women’s fiction, romantic tension:

    Less is more.

    Less is more.

    One more time.

    Less is more.

    That being said, Ms. Jones gets it done, ladies. The tension between the hero and heroine made my mouth water, their banter is divine, and their kisses had me searching out my technology-addicted husband and surprising the glasses right off his face.

    And yet, I did not feel like I’d mistakenly wandered into the wrong bedroom and reluctantly received the education of a lifetime. One delicious kiss is worth a thousand tawdry euphemisms. And so, I thank Jenny B. Jones, for giving me exactly what I wanted without making me blush.

    On the more serious side, the drama in this book has depth. I was impressed with the way the author portrayed some harsh realities about mental illness and its effects. The character of Riley, a neglected little girl, is drawn so clearly that I could see her hardened little face and hear her angry words. And, as in the real world, there are no pat solutions, but that doesn’t mean there’s no hope.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, but please don’t read it unless you like to be entertained, to laugh out loud, and be reminded that life is about more than self-preservation. However, if all of those things are as appealing as a dentist visit to you, then I can recommend some truly boring slogs for your reading pleasure. Just don't say I didn't give you options.

    Monday, August 24, 2009

    Not Your Average Interview

    I have known Kim Woodhouse all my life. As proof of this statement I offer the fact that I do not actually remember ever meeting her, though by the most traditional, boring definitions of time and reality, this must have happened approximately two and a half to three years ago.

    If you haven’t met Kim, either literally or figuratively, chances are you’ve heard of her, the incredible Woodhouse family, and their Extreme Makeover house. The Woodhouse family has lived in the media spotlight because of their daughter, Kayla, who has a rare medical disorder that does not allow her to feel pain or sweat.

    Kim’s book, Welcome Home: Our Family's Journey to Extreme Joy, chronicles their road from struggling to find a diagnosis for Kayla all the way to being selected by ABC’s Extreme Home Makeover. Here’s my review.

    Now, if you want to read more about Kayla’s unusual condition, the family’s journey, or Ty Pennington’s mysteriously ill-fitting jeans, you’ll have to go buy Kim’s book. (Okay, okay. Kim is much more of a lady than I am and would never mention Ty’s drooping drawers in her book.)

    Kim has agreed to do an interview here on Breathe In Breathe Out, and I have promised not to ask her anything boring like how many dessert spoons she has or what kind of fabric softener she uses. So here goes.

    ED: Kim, thanks for letting me ask you weird questions.

    KW: Thank you, Ed. May I call you Ed? I too, feel like we have known one another all our lives, and I must say that you are one of my favoritest, and most funnest people in the world. (I figure with weird questions - all grammar, spelling, and syntax flies out the window. Yes, I’m a writer.)

    ED: Feel free to call me Ed and let the grammar slide. You know I’m a fan of letting it all hang out. Ok, let’s get right to it.

    No. 1: Kayla has a head of hair that would make a Barbie jealous, but in the photo section of the book we see a cute pic of Kayla in a swimming cap at the edge of the pool. How exactly does Kayla manage to cram her gorgeous locks under that cap without looking like an alien with an inside out brain?

    KW: If I told you, I’d have to kill you. This is a top-secret, highly entertaining process that has been mastered over hours of trial and error. And she has a really cute head. That helps.

    No. 2: Your son Josh has an affinity for dragons. If given the choice, which of the following dragon powers do you think he’d like to have?

    a. flying
    b. breathing fire
    c. hording gold
    d. strategic ability to land on enemy armies thereby crushing their threat

    KW: d. At least, that would be my first choice, and I’ve got the hips to assist in that process.

    ED: As do I. Together we could wipe out legions!

    No. 3: Explain, please, the correlation between a dirty penny and a good roux.

    KW: Well, Ed, real gumbo requires a good roux. The roux should be the color of an old penny when it’s done, without burning it during the process. The roux is what gives gumbo and other classic Cajun dishes its hearty, deep flavor.

    ED: By the way, Kim's gumbo will fill places you didn't know needed filling and generally make you think that life, the world, and everything will be ok as long as you can keep eating her gumbo.

    No. 4: Without going to check, can you tell me the contents of your candy jar?

    KW: Which one? LOL! And an even deeper question could be, “Without going to check, can you tell me the contents and age of said candy in the candy jar?”

    No. 5: When you and your hubby, Jeremy, met. Did you think he was:

    a. pretty cute
    b. a nice guy
    c. way too into _______ (sports, music, collecting butterflies, fill in the blank)
    d. a & b

    KW: d. Most definitely. He’s so amazing.

    No. 6: How would he answer that question about you?

    KW: a. (He actually still remembers that! After almost 20 years.)

    ED: I am very glad he would not choose b.

    No. 7: Rate your shoe collection on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being an engineer’s and 10 a movie star’s.)

    KW: Can I plead the fifth to this question? I would most likely act like Jennifer Lopez in The Wedding Planner—sacrificing myself for a beloved shoe.

    No. 8: Describe in five words or less, or in haiku form, how Josh would eat his favorite meal.

    KW: I can do it in two syllables: IN-HALE. (He’s fourteen. And a swimmer. I think that about sums it up.)

    No. 9: Describe an outfit Kayla would never be caught dead in.

    KW: Wonder Woman’s costume. My very logical and down-to-earth daughter would say, “Totally impractical for saving the world.”

    No. 10: Do you have an opinion on Ty Pennington’s pants?

    KW: Well, you know they say you really don’t know someone until you’ve walked in their shoes. I have a hard time understanding his dilemma because I don’t have that problem. I have a superfluous amount in the area he is lacking. Maybe I could give him a transplant.

    ED: Put me on that donor list as well. Thanks for giving us the answers to some important, never-before-asked questions about your wonderful family.

    KW: Thanks, Ed. It was definitely my honor and privilege to be here today. And if there were awards for interviews, yours would definitely win one.

    ED: Aww, thanks. I try.

    As you can see, Kim has a fantastic sense of humor. Welcome Home is full of funny moments you might not expect given the serious nature of Kayla’s condition. I hope you’ll check this book out and enjoy getting to know Kim and her fabulous family.

    Welcome Home: Our Family's Journey to Extreme Joy

    Friday, August 21, 2009

    Stay Tuned

    Dear Blog Readers,

    It has been three weeks since my last confession. I felt compelled to tell you that I am not dead, merely languishing in the alternate existence known as back-to-school time.

    Beginning on Monday, I’ll be trying my hand at Influencing. No, not my usual “Honey, you cannot wear that striped shirt with those plaid shorts” type of influencing. I’ll be sharing about a few books I’ve read lately that I think you ought to know about and go out and buy.

    I’m new to the world of Influencing and maybe I’m not supposed to use that term, but it’s not as though I’m knocking on your door in a white shirt and tie, or picketing the capitol building with a sign that reads “No communist healthcare.” No, I respect your right to believe the way you want to about God, politics, and bikini waxing. But, unfortunately, you are going to have to hear my opinion on books.

    So tune in Monday. Yes, you have to. Or I’ll picket your house in a shirt and tie with a banner that reads “You must read this book or I’ll call you politically incorrect names and force you to get a bikini wax.”

    Be afraid. Be very afraid.