Monday, April 28, 2014

Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall

I walked out onto my patio the other day to check on how all of my plants are doing. They are doing fine. On some of them, there is so much growth and change even over a day or so and it is so fun to see.

Back to books. Wall's garden was neglected and overgrown, so she hired Mr. Owita who worked at the local nursery and grocery store. Over the years that Mr. Owita tends to her garden, they become close friends.

This is a sweet story about the nurturing of a garden and a friendship. There was something about the writing that didn't seem that tightly pulled together though, and this drew my attention away from the story. However, there is an important lesson that Wall learns and that is to not assume anything about anybody. A good thing to remember.

Overall, a so-so read for me.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

"I have written this book to encourage women to dream big, forge a path through the obstacles, and acheive their full potential. I am hoping that each woman will set her own goals and reach for them with gusto. And I am hoping that each man will do his part to support women in the workplace and in the home, also with gusto."
                                                                                                         --Sheryl Sandberg
I met with several of my (female) co-workers for lunch and this book came up in our conversation, so I checked it out.

Sandberg cites lots of research about how men and women are viewed differently in the workplace and how they approach work and home responsibilities differently. Among other things, she calls for women to fully show up in the workplace and for men to fully show up at home.

I don't have a final conclusion about this book. It was challenging, but also tiring. I still have some mixed feelings to sort through.  On one hand, Sandberg is inspirational and offers some really good examples and advice. On the other hand, I would love to have a housekeeper and take a nap.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Golden State by Michelle Richmond


I was feeling grumpy for several days last week. I finally figured out that I was suffering from Lack of Fiction. I had books to read, but they were all non-fiction. I couldn't squeeze a trip to the library into my schedule for the next couple of days and when Saturday rolled around, I had several errands to run, but first on the list was the library. Golden State was one of the fiction books that I checked out.

On the day that California is voting on whether or not to secede, Dr. Julie Walker is making her way through the riot-filled streets of San Francisco to help deliver her sister's baby. But that's not it. Walker is also in the middle of a hostage situation. As the day (and book) goes on, we, the readers, are filled in with the history leading up to this day.

Gripping is the word I would use to describe Golden State. It captured my attention and was exactly the kind of fiction I needed to find myself in.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol translated by William Rodarmor and Helen Dickinson

Josephine's unemployed husband leaves her and heads to Kenya with his mistress to manage a crocodile farm. Josephine is left with her two daughters and has to make ends meet as well as pay off her ex-husband's debt. Her sister, Iris, offers her a way to make a lot of money which seems like a good idea at the time...

This is translated from French and is the first in a series of three (only this first one has been translated...please hurry and translate the other two, William and Helen!).

I really liked this book. It starts off with a common plot, but the quirkiness and personalities and French-ness of it all make it a unique and fun book.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Motherhoodwinked: An Infertility Memoir by Anne-Marie Scully

Mother Hoodwinked is a very personal and intimate look at Scully's struggle with infertility. She doesn't hold anything back as she writes about her disappointment, jealousy, and anger. She also writes about how her determination to become a mother negatively affected her relationship with her husband. This was a fascinating look into the mental and physical toll that infertility takes on both the wife and husband.

I read this book very quickly. She's a good writer. My only wish is that she had written the Epilogue section a bit later. It sounds like she wrote it pretty much after her second attempt with IVF, and I wonder if she waited a bit longer, she might have more perspective on everything.

I'm not sure if I would recommend this to a woman who is experiencing infertility. It doesn't provide much hope and doesn't have a happy ending, but it does provide some normalization of the whole process I suppose. This book would be really helpful for friends and family of someone going through infertility treatments so that they could better understand the struggle and know how to offer support.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dot Complicated: Untangling Our Wired Lives by Randi Zuckerberg

Randi Zuckerberg writes about the benefits and pitfalls to being so connected these days. She writes about current trends in social media along with how they affect Self, Friends, Love, Family, Career, and Community. She talks about the pitfalls and the benefits, things to keep in mind, and how to remember what's really important in life.

Reading about her own story was pretty interesting. However, the other chapters could have been tightened up a bit and more organized. There were some helpful tidbits here and there and a couple of amusing stories, but overall, this book was just so-so for me. Or, as we say in Chinese, mamahuhu.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Hypnotist's Love Story by Liane Moriarty

Moriarty also wrote What Alice Forgot (which I really liked) and The Husband's Secret (which I loved). I would rank The Hypnotist's Love Story as third best behind What Alice Forgot. I think Moriarty has two more books out there and I'm gonna check those out as well. What I like about her writing is that her books do not follow the same plot at all. No formula here. So there are completely different characters with different plots and surprises too.

The Hypnotist's Love Story is about a hypnotist who dates a man, and the man has a stalker (his ex-girlfriend), who is also one of the hypnotist's clients. Creepy!

This was a fun book, but I liked The Husband's Secret much, much better.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Paris in Love by Eloisa James

This is such a fun re-read. It made me laugh a lot and think about chocolate and croissants. That's never a bad thing.