Saturday, December 26, 2015

Review: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"A must read for any Oklahoman. A cautionary tale of environmental care for our natural resources. Global warming is real folks. Government works. Slightly redundant writing."

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Thursday, December 10, 2015

Review: Yes Please

Yes Please Yes Please by Amy Poehler
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Considering how much I like her and think she is a comic genius, clearly performing and writing comedy is much different than writing a memoir. Some parts I liked, most of it was a yawner. At least for me.

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Review: Outlander

Outlander Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

*Sexually explicit

Clearly if you are a time traveling WWII nurse, who weds a Scot, must live in harsh conditions, is nearly convicted of being a witch, fights off a pack of wolves, saves her husband from death (multiple times)...one better hope the sex is good.

Epic storytelling. Great dialog and characters. Proceed with caution if you are offended by marital sexual exploits. And prisoner abuse.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: Strapless

Strapless Strapless by Deborah Davis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

November book club choice.

A fascinating biography of both the artist, John Singer Sargent, and his patron, Madame Gautreau, who was immortalized in his portrait of her, now known as Madame X.

Loved learning about late 19th century Paris; loved learning about both subjects.

The book could have used more pictures of the referenced artworks. I spent much time googling pictures each time a specific piece was mentioned.

I wish more was known about her -- I felt her side of the story was slighted.

Can't wait to discuss it.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Review: Between the World and Me

Between the World and Me Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A letter unlike an other I've ever read.
A letter of pain, of fear, of anger, of self preservation, of senseless death, of inequality...of an America I see through a looking-glass.
This was a necessary but uncomfortable read.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Review: Night

Night Night by Elie Wiesel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh the horror.

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Sunday, October 25, 2015

Review: The Nightingale

The Nightingale The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
Add this to the list of another amazing work of historical fiction recounting the heroics of survivors of WWII, the French resistance, and holocaust.
It was a little slow for me at first (I stopped reading, and picked up the book a month later), but what an amazing story of sisters, survival, selfless acts of love, depravity, inhumanity and the sheer determination to live.

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

Luckiest Girl Alive Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

14 year old girl, searching for popularity and acceptance at a new private school, is gang raped at a party, and the story unfolds (in a back and forth narrative) from there.

I didn't like it, against popular opinion.

It didn't help that one of the key elements in the book was sadly repeated again in real life. When will the madness stop?

It just left me empty.





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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Review: Circling the Sun

Circling the Sun Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

My take: a glossy, tabloid-y, overly-romanticized novel of the life of Beryl Markham. I loved learning about her early years with her father, her expertise as a horse trainer, and her life in Africa. I liked that I'd read Out of Africa before this book -- it made for a beautiful companion piece to this novel...but Out of Africa was so much better (even though I totally get that it's a different main subject matter).

I understand that drama and controversy plagued Ms Markham, due to her frequent love affairs -- I guess I was just expecting more -- especially her life as a pilot, which only covered about 10 pages.



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Monday, August 31, 2015

Review: Beautiful Ruins

Beautiful Ruins Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Italian coast, movie stars, Hollywood, addicts, producers, gangsters, unwed mothers, love: all of these elements are a narrative high wire act in the hands of writer, Jess Walter, and yet, not a single element comes crashing down. I was hooked to these "beautiful ruins" and their lives.

My only complaint is the language and caustic/sexual references. Really awkward and uncomfortable. For me anyway.


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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was immersed in her story.
I could have been her friend.
Her family member
Her neighbor.
I could feel the South.
I could feel Brooklyn.
I was there at her "daddy's" passing.
It made me want to write.
Every word.
Of my own story.


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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Review: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving: A Novel by Jonathan Evison
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Funny, tragic, heartbreaking, poignant, forgiving, selflessness....I was not expecting any of this.

It was an unexpected delight.

*Minor language


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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Review: The War that Saved My Life

The War that Saved My Life The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

Heartfelt story of two abused children who are transported to the country from London during WWII for their safety and the love and acceptance that they encounter from their foster-mom.

Loved the story -- but the ending was abrupt, Hollywood-esque, and soured my reading experience.

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Monday, July 20, 2015

Book Review -- Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a WatchmanGo Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
My enjoyment rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating:  2
Source: Library copy
Genre: General fiction
Objectionable material:  liberal use of the N* word


You cannot compare any book to To Kill a Mockingbird. Period. Even one written (supposedly) by Harper Lee. So this book was in an impossible situation from the beginning.

That being said...my intention was to read this simply as a book. A book with familiar characters, but only a book, and judge it as to whether I enjoyed it or not.

I did enjoy it.

I enjoyed Scout (in the book referred almost exclusively as Jean Louise) as a 20something; I enjoyed the witty, gritty, intellectual dialog between characters; I enjoyed the flashbacks to Scout's childhood (especially the one involving falsies!); I enjoyed the "bombshell" that occurs within the opening pages of the book and it's lingering effects; I enjoyed learning that ultimately, Atticus is a complicated character -- a Southern White Man, and all the trappings that may or may not go with that designation.

Was it the best book I've ever read? No. Was it a financial vehicle for the estate of Harper Lee and her handlers? Probably. Did it forever tarnish how I feel about TKAM?? Goodness NO!!! I can't imagine anything ever changing my view of Maycomb and the Finches and Boo Radley. Ever.

But this is a book you'd have to read for yourself and judge accordingly.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

#imakebookmarks

I've been in a blogging void.

Because I do this now...






I've been "rescuing" old, discarded, damaged books from the library donation dump and making them into "upcycled" bookmarks.  I've been giving them out to friends, sending them as gifts, using them as party favors.  I could spend hours with old book pages, scrapbook paper, ribbons and mod podge.  

It's a new happy place. 


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Book Review -- The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars  (3.5 stars)
Hangover rating: 3
Source: Library
Genre: Thriller/Fiction
Objectionable material:  F-bombs
 

Rachel is a drunk. A drunk that rides the train back and forth to her former employer, because she's been fired. For being a drunk.


What she sees on her daily, endless train ride leads to suspicion, a police investigation and murder.


It's a blend of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep. And I would say I liked it more than those two books.


An intriguing mix of neighborhood secrets, infidelity, addiction, and abuse. The author did a great job of creating sympathy for a main character who was overall miserable.


I liked it -- I didn't love it. In retrospect -- it was a bit predictable -- but that being said, I still didn't know "who dun it" until 30 pages to the end.


I would recommend it.



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Book Review - Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies

My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 5
Source: Personal copy
Genre: General fiction/women's fiction
Objectionable material: F-bombs

This was such an engrossing read and a brilliant look at the complications and secrets of a seemingly ordinary neighborhood and the families that are brought together by a public elementary school.

School fundraisers are brutal -- and in this case, deadly.

And PTA moms are very, very mean.

Couldn't put it down.




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Thursday, January 22, 2015

2015 Reading Bingo!

Ready for some Bingo?!

Last year my kids and I tracked much of our reading on a bingo card created by  RetreatbyRandomHouse.ca -- it was a lot of fun for all of us and I was eagerly anticipating this year's edition!

However, their current bingo card includes numerous Canadian-type books, for obvious reasons, so most of their options I can't access at our local library, so I created my own!

This is the card I will be following this year!  I hope you will join me!




Monday, January 19, 2015

Book Review -- Serena

Serena

My enjoyment rating: 5 of 5 stars
Hangover rating: 5!!! OMG!
Source: Personal copy
Genre: General fiction
Objectionable material:  Very little language, some sexual innuendo, but nothing explicit, and the violence all happens "off stage."

Lady Macbeth meet Serena Pemberton -- I'm not sure which one of you would survive in a throwdown, but I'd love to watch.

Serena has one goal -- and that's to cut every tree down on the Western Hemisphere and make a truck load of money while doing it. With her husband, of course.

Oh -- and whatever you do -- do not get in her way.

I loved this book.

The writing was impeccable.

The characters gloriously complex and simple at the same time.

If Shakespeare had written a play about the Appalachian timber industry -- he would have written Serena.

Amy Dunne (Gone Girl) wouldn't stand a chance with Serena either.

The woman had acid in her veins.