Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review -- The Silver Linings Playbook

The Silver Linings PlaybookThe Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
My enjoyment rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating:  3 of 5 stars (still trying to process it all)
Source:  Personal copy
Genre:  Contemporary fiction
Objectionable material: language, including the F-bomb 

Pat Peoples has 3 obsessions: his estranged wife, his exercise routine, and the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pat has also spent the past few years in a mental facility because of obsession #1 and an incident that occurred during their marriage. Now living at home, Pat is seeing his therapist, trying to reconnect with his Dad, and watching his beloved Eagles and rookie wide receiver, Hank Baskett.

But Pat is still convinced that his “apart time” with wife is merely temporary and he is determined to communicate with her, even if it means giving up his football team for a brief period of time.

This novel was NOTHING what I expected. I delayed watching the movie because I wanted to read the book first. And even with all the visual trailers and Oscar media, I still had no clue what this book was ultimately about (kudos to their marketing team). Truly – I was expecting a guys’ football book. But it was so much more: it was relationships, trust, friends, family, broken promises, faith, starting over.

Author Matthew Quick has written a quirky and creative novel that highlights the effects of mental illness and the importance of family and friends (and meds) in finding a way back to “normalcy.”

Oh…and Hank Baskett – he only caught 6 TD passes in his entire NFL career that lasted 5 yrs, and is now married to a Playboy bunny.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review -- Heart Warrior

Heart Warriors: A Family Faces Congenital Heart DiseaseHeart Warriors: A Family Faces Congenital Heart Disease by Amanda Rose Adams
My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating:  4 out of 5 stars (I will never stop pondering those who suffer from congenital heart disease)
Source:  ARC provided by the author (I was not compensated in anyway for my review)
Genre:  Memoir; non-fiction
Objectionable material:  Minor language.  (Trust me, when you think your kid is going to die -- Fbombs are often common.)

I am a member of the club.

The vast club of mothers who have children with congenital heart defects – the number one birth defect in children.

It’s a club I highly recommend NOT joining.

However, it is comforting to find other mothers (families) who have go through the same experiences, seen your children’s chest ripped open, and worry constantly about their future health.

Amanda Rose Adams in her memoir, Heart Warriors, details in passionate, loving and painful details the story of her son, Liam, and his battle to repair his “broken heart.”

For much of the book I was experiencing “survivor’s guilt” because our son does not have the same type of CHD, nor has his heart-road been nearly as difficult (at least to this point). As Amanda relates the number of air-transports, hospital visits, surgeries, cath labs – I almost put the book down because I didn’t feel like my son was sick enough to continue. Max, after one surgery, is a normal little boy, with absolutely no restrictions or medications. Will that change, possibly, but I live in a dream that I can often forget his condition.

But I’m grateful for Amanda and her quest for not only Liam, but for all children with congenital heart disease.

As a mother, I am not worthy.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review -- Me Before You

Me Before YouMe Before You by Jojo Moyes
My enjoyment rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Book hangover rating:  2 of 5 stars (new to GDD -- book hangover -- once you close the cover, how long do you think, linger, over the completed book? How long does it take to start a new one?  Scale 1-5; 1  forgotten once you close the cover -- 5 Can't stop thinking about it!)
Source:  Library
Genre:  Contemporary fiction
Objectionable material: some minor language, including Fbomb


Will’s confined to a wheelchair – Louisa’s hired to be his aide – both have physical and emotional baggage that they are trying to resolve – together they must deftly navigate their current circumstances, and most importantly, their future.

Author, JoJo Moyes, has written a very unique love story involving a former corporate raider, now paraplegic, and his very eccentric caregiver.

Will is hardened by his diminished condition and not willing to let anyone, including his family, help him. Louisa is hired by his parents to do just that: break through his steely exterior to try to help Will recognize that life is still worth living.

I was intrigued by the concept of this novel – two unlikely confidants, forced to work together (or, against each other as the case may be) and the beautiful relationship that develops.

As much as I liked this book – it was quintessentially British, it was witty, I enjoyed the progression of Will and Louisa’s relationship – in the back of my mind, I kept wondering, how authentic was it, exactly?  Did the author accurately portray the life of a paraplegic? Did she make it too easy? I wasn’t entirely convinced.

My best friend, Heather, was a personal caregiver – I’m desperate for her to read this to give me her professional opinion.

Regardless, this was an emotionally powerful book, and one that you might shed a tear, or two, or a lot of them.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Book Review -- The Yellow House

ThThe Yellow Housee Yellow House by Patricia Falvey
My enjoyment rating: 3 of 5 stars
Source:  Personal copy
Genre: Historical fiction
Objectionable material:  one use of the F-bomb; sexual innuendo
Read for Ladies of Literature book club

Set in Northern Ireland in the early 1900s, the story of The Yellow House centers around Eileen O'Neill as she grows up during a turbulent time in Ireland's history. Spanning 20 years, the story picks up during her childhood, as the family falls into poverty and tragedy sets the tone for Eileen's struggles. Working in a mill, in dangerous conditions, she saves her money and dreams of reuniting her family in the home of her childhood, hoping to bring back happier times.

Along the way, she finds herself torn between two men, and torn by her own will and the will of others. Her family history and the current political landscape shape Eileen's journey, and secrets and betrayals leave their mark.

I wanted to love this book: historical fiction, turn of the century Ireland, independent female protagonist – it had all the markings of a novel I would normally swoon over.

I did not.

The author did provide a rich and luscious narrative about turn of the century, politically unbalanced Ireland. If nothing else….I came away from this book with a much better understanding of the Anglo/Gaelic discord over the past 100 years and the Irish civil war.

However, the story was all rather predictable: struggling family trying to make ends meet; marital friction; Romeo/Juliet-type romantic tension between two characters; conflicted story lines that seamlessly worked themselves out to make a very happy ending. All too neat and tidy for such a turbulent time period.

This novel certainly aims to be an epic, Irish novel – but ultimately it was slow, plodding and quite often, repetitive.
My blogging friend Corinne loved this book – for a difference of opinion, please consider her lovely thoughts.