Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Four Quick Reviews

The year is quickly coming to a close, so here is a catch-up post with some of the most recent books (two fiction and two non-fiction) I've read with two or three-sentence reviews.

Next week, I will post some more quick reviews on three other fiction books I've read recently.


When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

Twenty years after his parents were kidnapped, a London detective returns to Shanghai to get to the bottom of their disappearance. I am NOT recommending this book to you because I found it unsatisfying and quite boring. Written by the same author as one of my favorite books, The Remains of the Day, I have to say that I prefer The Remains of the Day over this one.

The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexi

This is the story of a Native American teenage boy living on a reservation who decides to make a change in his life and attend the mostly white high school 22 miles away from the reservation. A total teenage boy book (beware of boner jokes!) but with lots of heart and tension between sticking with the status quo and wanting to make a future for yourself.




Motherhood Smotherhood: Fighting Back Against the Lactivists, Mompetitions, Germophobes, and So-Called Experts Who Are Driving Us Crazy by JJ Keith

JJ Keith offers her take on all of the talk and blogging out there about the "perfect" way to be pregnant, give birth, nurse a baby, and to parent. I am wondering who I could give this funny, witty, and down-to-earth book to as a gift, but I think that some of my mom friends might be offended.

At Home with Madame Chic: Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life by Jennifer L. Scott

I liked Scott's previous book, Lessons from Madame Chic, and here she brings her thoughts about creating and running a home that is a refuge from the world and about living a life at home that brings you joy. I like Scott because she is practical and inspiring without being pretentious. This book actually flowed better than her first.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

There is a song and dance number with Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) and Hugh Jackman from the Tony Awards when NPH hosted in 2011 that I watched almost daily for quite awhile. It was so funny. I watched it so often that Boomer got tired of watching it with me.

I think NPH is so funny and talented, so I was happy to read his autobiography in this creative Choose Your Own Adventure format. Heheeheh. He is funny in print, but also quite crude, so consider that a warning to my young readers out there. I was hoping NPH might show a little bit more thoughtfulness in how his fame and career has affected him, but alas, it's mostly an amusing memoir with some magic tricks included. I liked the book, but not as much as I thought that I might.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found by Rebecca Alexander

The author was born with Usher Syndrome Type III, a very rare genetic disorder that is causing her to gradually lose her sight and hearing. However, that has not stopped her from becoming a psychotherapist (with two Master's degrees) and a spin class instructor. She lives in New York City with her dog, and her spirit and determination to thrive is quite inspiring.

She is very open about the challenges of her life and the fear and anxiety she feels. Along with that, her great personality and humor really shine through. I really liked her and her thoughtfulness and reflections on her own life about what is under her control and what is not, her thankfulness for what she has (which includes a supportive group of friends and family), and her honesty about the parts of life that really suck as well.

Initially, I thought that this would be a tough book to read. I was wrong. I could not put it down.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Please let me know...

The end of 2014 is coming and later this month I will be posting a list of my favorite books of the year. I would like to know what your favorite books have been too! So please let me know the best books you've read in 2014 so that I can add them to my reading list!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Two very different books: Mother Hoodwinked: An Infertility Memoir by Anne-Marie Scully and Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

I read these two books within weeks of each other. Mother Hoodwinked (already reviewed on this blog, so this was a re-read) is written by a woman who desperately wants a child and has difficulties with fertility. She is heartbroken and shares her struggles and the emotional and physical roller coaster of receiving fertility treatments. I like the author's voice and honesty.

Cracking Up is written by a woman with two children. She is ready to focus on her writing when she finds out that she is pregnant with twins. She complains quite a bit about how physically uncomfortable she is during her pregnancy and about the sleep deprivation after the boys are born. The most meaty part of the book is the last quarter as she describes her post-partum depression and her decision to seek out medical treatment to stabilize her body. The author of Cracking Up was more difficult for me to like, but I liked her more toward the end of the book.

Two different problems (infertility vs. unwanted children) both leading to depression and despair and struggle. There are all kinds of struggles in life.

As I read Cracking Up after Mother Hoodwinked, I imagined more than once what would happen if these two authors sat down for a cup of coffee and shared their experiences. I wonder how they would relate and if they could be friends.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dracula by Bram Stoker

This was one creepy book! I could not read it while I was home alone in the evening. Then I realized that Boomer is really no match against a vampire anyway.

I found myself curious about vampires about a year ago, so I thought I would go to some primary source material to understand more about them. They are scary.

One of Boomer's friends unexpectedly came over one evening so I was sitting at the kitchen table with him while we waited for Boomer to come home. I told him that I was reading Dracula so we started talking about vampires. He said, "Remember, vampires can't come into your home unless you invite them in." And then I started wondering if Boomer's friend was actually a vampire and I had just invited him into my house, and then I started really hoping that Boomer would come home soon...and then remembered that Boomer could not protect me against a vampire anyway.

So if you want more information about vampires, I recommend Dracula. But be prepared to be creeped out.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Books, books, books.

Here are the latest books I've read with a short review.

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
Written by the same author as The Art of Racing in the Rain (which I really liked), A Sudden Light is a dark coming-of-age story complete with ghosts and family secrets. A neat setting (outside of Seattle) and some interesting characters. I did like The Art of Racing in the Rain better though.

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
My therapist recommended this book to me which was weird. Now I have an idea of what my therapist reads. Double weird. This book is about a man looking for the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. The narrator is an English learner who seems like he uses a thesaurus to find the right words to use. The words are close, but not exactly the right words. Original in some ways, but to be honest, sometimes I just didn't get what was going on. But I pay my therapist too much to ask him what the heck this book was about. Hahaha.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
It's 1922, after the war, and 26-year-old Frances and her mother are forced to take in some boarders when their finances are tight. I was deeply engrossed in this book. The only slight disappointment was the end. I thought that someone else needed to die (!).