Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Brand New Human Being by Emily Jeanne Miller

Logan Pyle is a stay-at-home dad whose own dad just died. Logan's relationship with his wife is not going so well, and his son is regressing.

This book started out promising and smart, but went downhill from there. Around the 2/3 mark, I was reading just to finish and found myself skimming some. The story just started falling flat.

If I was on a plane, I'd rather read this book than have nothing to read, but I'm not recommending that you pick this one up.

Friday, October 26, 2012

30 Things Every Woman Should Have and Should Know by the Time She's 30 by Pamela Redmond Satran and the Editors of Glamour

A list of 15 must-haves (for example, a cordless drill) and 15 must-knows (for example, how to fall in love without losing yourself) for women age 30 and beyond, and maybe before.

It's an interesting list and easy to read. I don't think it's a book you need to own, so just check it out from the library when you have the chance.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

I don't usually check out books from the Mystery section, but I like to keep myself on my toes sometimes, so I checked this one out.

It starts out with a child being kidnapped at an airport security checkpoint as his guardian, Stephanie, watches on (she's in the security inspection box thing so she can't do anything except watch). As the guardian is interviewed, we find out the story behind the kid and why he's with her. The kid is the son of a celebrity who died from cancer, and leaves the kid to Stephanie, her closest friend who is also the ghost writer behind her biography.

This was a fast read, but it's really not that well-written. SKIP!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cruising Attitude: Tales of Crashpads, Crew Drama, and Crazy Passengers at 35,000 Feet by Heather Poole

Heather Poole was a flight attendant for 15+ years, and she shares what the training, lifestyle, scheduling, and passengers (including celebrity ones) are really like.

A fun, mildly entertaining book. I'm not gonna read anymore about flight attendants though. I don't think I need to know more about what really goes on in the kitchens and restrooms of planes. It seems germy enough to fly, I don't want to add more knowledge to an already uncomfortable situation.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Library Love

Have you visited your local library lately?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Snow Angels by Stewart O'Nan

This is the story of the unraveling of two different families in a small Pennsylvania town. The stories intersect and it's a beautiful, deceptively simple book.

Arthur is in high school when his parents divorce, and Annie, his old babysitter dies. Each story unfolds, and it's quite the gripping read.

I actually stayed up late reading this book so that I could finish it. This is not fun, beach reading. But it's autumn now, and this book would read well on a cold, blustery afternoon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson

If you've been reading this blog for some time, you know that I like cooking memoirs. There's quite a range of what kind of chef the writer is though. With this memoir, we are talking about a serious, trained, award-winning chef, and his memoir definitely falls into a different class of cooking memoirs.

Marcus Samuelsson was born in Ethiopia. His mom died, and he, along with his sister, was adopted by a couple in Sweden. He dreamed of being a soccer star, but was not big enough, so he went to cooking school. He completes internships in cities around Europe before moving to New York City.

I really liked this memoir. Samuelsson has a remarkable story, and really admirable parents. There is depth to this memoir which sets it apart from some of the other cooking memoirs I've read.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

Written by the same author as Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, this is a compilation of columns that she wrote as an advice columnist at The Rumpus.

The letters she received are really about everything, but mostly about relationships and love. Her columns don't read like Dear Abby columns. Instead, she delves into her own experience and tells stories from her own life. Her answers are not short, but they are really interesting and usually, the letter writer already has a clue about what they want to do. Sometimes they just lack the courage to do it (quit the job, dump the boyfriend, say No to an unhealthy situation).

This is a very dense book. You definitely get your money's worth. I could only read one letter and answer at a time, so it took me weeks to finish, but it was a thoughtful read.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

You probably all know that I'm a Harry Potter fan. There are two+ sets of the Harry Potter series in my house, one in hardcover and one in paperback. There's a sign that says "Hogwarts Express" by the guest bathroom. I know when a guest is a Harry Potter fan because they see the sign and say, "Platform 9 3/4!!!"

Years ago, I was at a social gathering and the topic of Harry Potter came up. I asked the guy next to me if he liked Harry Potter. He said, "I barely have any free time, so if I did have free time, why would I waste it reading Harry Potter?" Wow! I understand that not everyone likes Harry Potter, but you don't have to be a jerk about it! By the way, this guy later asked me out for coffee, and I declined. I think I already knew enough about him.

Now that I'm on the topic of dating and Harry Potter, when Boomer and I were dating, he once showed up at my house on a Saturday morning looking bleary-eyed and tired. To explain his tiredness, he said, "I stayed up late last night re-reading Harry Potter #7." Ah, that's more like it! Re-reading #7 in one night is quite the accomplishment.

Anyway, onto the subject of this post: Rowling's newest book written for an adult audience. It's set in the little town of Pagford right after the death of parish council member, Barry Fairbrother. This sends the town into a tizzy and we're introduced to a sprawling cast of characters and all of the gossip and wheeling and dealing behind-the-scenes as the town tries to figure out who will fill his council seat.

I was very excited about this book. I actually bought it (pre-order!) and eagerly awaited its arrival. What a let down! The first 200 pages were s...l...o...w. I found myself not wanting to read it. The characters were forgettable. I kept forgetting who belonged to which family. Maybe it was because everyone had normal names like "Stuart" and not "Dumbledore," but that shouldn't have mattered. The characters were not distinct or developed. At the end, I didn't care what happened to any of them.

Also, it seemed like Rowling made this book for an adult audience by writing detailed descriptions of body parts. Totally unnecessary.

So that's two thumbs down for you. I even recommended that Boomer not waste his time reading this book, so if you want to check out this book even after reading this post, you can have my copy for keeps! But you're gonna have to come by and pick it up (and please stay for a cup of tea and some cookies), because I'm not wasting any time, money, gas, or postage on it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living by Ira Byock

This is written by a palliative care physician. The four things that the title refers to are the following:
Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
Thank you.
I love you.
These are things that Dr. Byock encourages his patients' family members to communicate to the dying patient, and for the dying patient to communicate to family members.

Dr. Byock goes further though and recommends that we think about communicating these things in any relationship that has unfinished business. It's a way of emotional self-care.

Anything can happen at any time to any of us, so I found this book to be inspiring, thoughtful, and challenging.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker

This was recommended by my friend, Kjersti, on her blog. It's a memoir written by a 20-something lady living in New York City trying to find her way professionally and personally. She's trying to figure out her own identity, and how being Mormon plays into that. It's kind of a coming-of-age story, but with very funny stories about dating, heartbreak, and weight loss. A very fast read, and I learned some stuff about the Mormon religion, so you could say it was educational as well.

Thanks for the recommendation, Kjersti!

A note for my junior readers: this book is definitely rated PG-13, almost, but not quite R.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Apron Anxiety: My Messy Affairs In and Out of the Kitchen by Alyssa Shelasky

This writer was living in New York City when she fell in love with a chef. On a whim, she moved down to Washington, D.C. to live with him as he started up a new restaurant. She found out that being in a relationship with a chef meant not seeing him that often. She had days on end alone so she decided to learn how to cook.

There's other relationship drama and moving back and forth from coast to coast, crying, and self-pity.

I read this book over two days. It was easy to read. But after I finished, I was struck by how spoiled and whiny the writer is. So although I couldn't put it down, I can't really strongly recommend it to you either.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup

Kate's husband died suddenly in a car accident, leaving her a widow with four young children. Her husband, a Maine state trooper, had been planning on making a career change and attending seminary, so Kate decides to do that herself. In this book, she doesn't include so much about her own grieving process. Rather, she tells tales from her work as a chaplain to search-and-rescue teams.

Readable, and okay. I liked the author and I admire her courage, but in terms of a reading experience, it was satisfactory, but not enough to give you a glowing review.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

Is this year's election season getting you down? Tired of all of the presidential campaigning? I'm here to suggest that you take a break from this year's campaign by reading about the 2008 campaign!!

This book is an insider's look into the 2008 presidential race. It follows Obama, Clinton, McCain, Palin, and even includes some Edwards in there. Who knows exactly how accurate this book is, but the authors claim that it was meticulously researched and that many of their sources independently reported the same conversations/interactions.

This was a fascinating, fun, and interesting read. It was also a great distraction! However, at 400+ pages, I'm only recommending this to those of you who have more than a mild interest in politics.

PS: Thanks to my cousin, Russ, for recommending this book to me!