Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Book Review -- What Alice Forgot

What Alice Forgot
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 5 -- I really want to discuss this with someone!
Source: Personal copy
Genre: Literary fiction
Objectionable material: Honestly, I don't remember anything.

Who knew spin class could be so risky? But for Alice, a fall off her stationary bike and a "bonk" on the head, causes 10 years of memories to disappear.

I loved it. I loved it. I loved it. I loved reading about Alice's discovery that before her accident she was a suburban, overachieving mom with three kids with an estranged husband, to the realization that she was none of the above after her accident. I loved her family members -- especially her sister, Elisabeth, whose infertility woes and letters to her therapist are truly crushing. And Gina -- the friend that everyone knows, Alice most of all, but who can't remember the depth of their relationship.

I loved the author's writing style -- using glimpses of memory, epistles, and diary entries -- made this so interesting and unique and added necessary depth to all the characters.

This was such an enriching read and a brilliant look at the complications of a seemingly ordinary domestic family life.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Book Review -- Landline

Landline
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
My enjoyment rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 2
Source: Goodreads and St Martin's Press (Other than a free review copy, I was not compensated in any way for my review).
Genre:  Fiction
Objectionable material:  Multiple Fbombs
 

Determined to meet her deadline, comedy writer Georgie McCool chooses a meeting with her sitcom co-creator, Seth and studio execs over Christmas with her husband, Neal, and children in Nebraska. The results of her decision lead to a personal downward spiral of doubts, reliving the past, and wondering if her marriage will survive the separation.

Rainbow Rowell is a master at writing relationships -- whether it's teenagers dating (Eleanor & Park), or Twentysomethings (Attachments), or in this case, a married couple experiencing a marital crisis AND a writing partnership on the brink of disaster. With every word and sentence I could totally relate to what the characters were experiencing. Her dialogue is equally outstanding: it's witty, honest, painful.

I also loved her use of the yellow trimline-landline phone that she uses to converse with Neal. So, so clever.

She had equally quirky characters to add to the mix: Georgie's sister Heather, her mother and step father, her mother-in-law and deceased (or is he?) father-in-law; even her mother's beloved pugs are necessary additions to the storyline.
 
And...for someone who is terrified of flying (me!), she absolutely NAILS the terror a person experiences on an airplane.  Just sayin...

I loved two of Rainbow Rowell's previous books, Eleanor & Park, and Attachments (I couldn't finish Fangirl) , and I liked this one too, although not as much as the others. She's very fond of the Fbomb, which felt so unnecessary in the book, almost distracting. And the ending seemed so abrupt. I liked the end...but I felt cheated. I wanted more.

Thanks to Goodreads and St Martin's Press for the preview copy.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Book Review -- The French House

The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All
The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All by Don Wallace
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hangover rating:  4
Source:  A review copy provided by Sourcebooks (I was not compensated in any monetary way for my review)
Genre:  Memoir; Travel memoir
Objectionable material:  None

Buyer's remorse: a term used to describe the feeling of regret or change of heart when making a significant purchase, like a house.

What Don and Mindy Wallace experience isn't so much buyer's remorse as, buyer's "oh my g*% what the Hell have we done?"

Surveying the condition of their French island ruin cottage, the enormity of their decision comes crashing down -- almost literally: they own a house they can't afford, in a place they don't live, and with repairs/reconstruction that needs to be done that is beyond their skill level. Their efforts seem doomed from the beginning.

But over the course of 30 years (this wasn't a property "flip" project) Don and Mindy create a second home where they become ensconced within this special Belle Ile community.

I loved this book. It was charming and witty -- full of hope and despair about this crumbling structure they chose to inhabit and make a home. I loved the friends with whom they associated -- from local farmers to immediate neighbors to vacationers -- it was truly a sense of community. I loved the history of the island from the Druids, to the Romans to the Germans.
I think we all dream about having a second home -- to live in a faraway paradise and to become a "native." The beautiful thing about the Wallaces -- is over the course of 30 years -- they made their dream come true.


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Little Rock's Listen To Your Mother!

I was honored to be cast as a participant in the Little Rock edition of the nationally syndicated group, Listen To Your Mother.

The video clips from the shows were posted today -- and here is mine!
 
 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Book Review -- We Were Liars

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars by E. Lockhart
My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 5 (I want to re-read it to see what I missed!!)
Source: Library copy
Genre: YA
Objectionable material: multiple uses of the F-bomb

 
 
 
 
Cousins.

Summer vacations.

Private island.

Wealthy family power struggle.

Teen love.

Lives shattered.

Cover-up.

Totally unexpected ending.

Loved every word.

Perfect pool/summer/beach read.



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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review -- Lost in Shangri-La

Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War IILost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 3
Source:  Library copy
Genre:  Non-fiction; WWII
Objectionable material: None


 
 
 
Add this to one of the MANY survivor tales of WWII. 

I can't get enough of WWII fiction and non-fiction.
 
A harrowing tale of 3 lone plane crash survivors in the jungles of New Guinea and their quest for survival.

The first part and the last part of the book were engrossing...nail biting almost. The middle was a drudgery.

That being said -- another testament to the greatest generation of Americans. Who are now all gone.

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Book Review -- Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's NestBand of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest by Stephen E. Ambrose
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars (5 stars for story -- 4 stars for storytelling)
Source:  Personal copy
Genre:  Non-fiction; WWII history
Objectionable material: None.

 
 
 
 
Heros.

All of them.

Men who changed the world.

Now they are all gone.

Their memories of what they did live on forever.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Book Review -- The Fortune Hunter

The Fortune Hunter: A NovelThe Fortune Hunter: A Novel by Daisy Goodwin
My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 2
Source:  Book club kit (10 copies) provided by Reading Group Guides through a random drawing. I was not compensated in anyway for my review.
Genre:  Historical fiction
Objectionable material:  None

Steeped in the tradition of British and European royalty, entitled British landowners, summer estates and fox hunts, author Daisy Goodwin has created a fictional account of the lives of Sisi (Elizabeth), Empress of Austria, her "pilot" Bay Middleton, and Bay's "fiancée" Charlotte Baird. Generously mixed with other historical characters, like Queen Victoria and her companion, Mr. Brown -- the stage is set for a luscious, historical drama.

Ms Goodwin accurately portrays the historical facts of these individuals and subsequent love triangle -- Sisi is lonely, she's obsessed with her looks, she's an expert horsewoman; Bay is a well known Casanova (already alleged to have fathered an out of wedlock child), an expert horseman and British officers; Charlotte, the woman who would eventually marry Bay.

But the fictional story around these three seemed bogged down by the need to make sure it was historically accurate. The structure kept the story from feeling authentic -- just a repetition of known facts about their fox-hunting summer. The most "real" character was Caspar -- a fictional American character created to be Charlotte's friend and photography colleague. He truly was the most entertaining and fresh character in the book.

Franz Xaver Winterhalter (1805–1873), Kaiserin Elisabeth von Ă–sterreich (Portrait of Elizabeth, Queen of Austria)I think in the end, both I and my book groupies would have preferred an autobiography of Sisi.

That being said -- the group loved being able to read the book club kit provided by Reading Group Guides in advance of the American release date. Thank you.


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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review -- Jesus Feminist

Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women
Jesus Feminist: An Invitation to Revisit the Bible’s View of Women by Sarah Bessey
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating: 5
Source: Personal copy
Genre: Non-fiction; Christian
Objectionable material: None

"The people of God have a unique and beautiful message for the women of the world: You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Your Abba (Father) delights in you. You are equal. You are lovely. You are called; you are chosen; you are beloved. You are gifted. You belong. You have worth and value. You matter." ~Sarah Bessey, Jesus Feminist

I'm not an Evangelical Christian and don't really "speak" the evangelical vernacular, since I wasn't raised as an evangelical, so it took me a bit to get the feel of this book. But once I did, I was wrapped up in her stories and faith of the ministry of Christ.

It gave me hope as a woman in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The last chapter was profound and beautiful.   Dare I say, life changing?
 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Review -- The Cracks in the Kingdom

The Cracks in the Kingdom (The Colours of Madeleine, #2)
The Cracks in the Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating: 4
Source: Library copy
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Objectionable material: None

Elliott is still fighting colors in the Kingdom of Cello; Madeleine is still hanging out in Cambridge, England. They are both still communicating via the crack in the universe that is housed in the parking meter at the end of Madeleine's street, and the search for the Royal Family of Cello continues.

Part II of Jaclyn Moriarty's The Colors of Madeleine series is just as whimsical, quirky, original, unique and fun as the first! This is the ONLY series I've continued since Harry Potter -- that's saying something!

There are some holes (pardon the pun) in the narrative -- links in the story that don't quite fit or work -- but I enjoyed both "worlds" so much and all the characters that I didn't really care.

If you are looking for a delightful and clever series, that doesn't involve dystopian death, depression, bleakness -- this should be next on your list.

Now...as with any series...I have to wait for the final book!!