Monday, September 29, 2014

Graduates in Wonderland: The International Misadventures of Two (Almost) Adults by Jessica Pan and Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Jessica and Rachel are two recent college graduates who promise to write each other weekly emails about their work and love lives. Jessica moves to Beijing and Rachel moves to New York City. Over the course of three years, Jessica moves to Melbourne and Rachel also moves to Paris. They have jobs, find other jobs, apply to graduate schools, meet guys, dump guys, and get dumped. Oh, and there are pregnancy and STD scares all in there as well.

The book is comprised of emails going back and forth. I thought that it was going to be cliche and self-absorbed, but I was wrong. Their personalities come out clearly and they are funny as they try and find their way in post-college life. They encourage and support each other.

Funny, light, and entertaining. I read it in a day!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lucky Dog: How Being a Veterinarian Saved My Life by Sarah Boston

It is not unusual for friends and family to warn me about certain books or movies. Someone will say, "Elaine, PLEASE don't read/watch _____________." They know that I don't like offensive movies (especially about ethnicity), movies with squalor, or books/movies when an animal is killed or dies. By the way, I don't think I'll ever read Where the Red Fern Grows again.

I wish someone had warned me about this book. I cried three times!!

Dr. Boston is a vet. More specifically, she a surgeon who operates on cancer in dogs. This is the story of how she found a lump in her neck which turned out to be thyroid cancer. She goes back and forth between stories about her patients and her own process in getting treated through Canada's free health care system (her patients get treated much faster!).

Dr. Boston is a very likable lady and I really enjoyed her writing and her humor. She also has some thoughtful insights about life throughout the book as well. Even though it was painful and sad at times to read, I did like it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Unremarried Widow by Artis Henderson

An "unremarried widow" is the designation given to widows whose husbands have died while serving in the military.

Henderson never thought she would be an Army wife, but then she met Miles. They start dating, marry, and move around from base to base until Miles is sent to Iraq. And then he is killed in a helicopter crash. They had been married for four months.

I haven't read much about military life or about the experiences of spouses and military life. I thought that Henderson's writing was easy to read. However, I didn't get much of a sense about who Miles was or what their marriage was like...maybe because they were not married for long. I did get a better sense of what happens in the aftermath of a soldier's death and the support (or not support) that is in place to care for their family.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back of the House: The Secret Life of a Restaurant by Scott Haas

Haas is a food writer AND a clinical psychologist. He spends about two years in the kitchen of Craigie on Main, a restaurant in Boston, following around Chef Tony Maw. He finds answers to questions like: What does it take to be a chef? What does it take to lead a kitchen? Who are the people behind the scenes in the kitchen? And what makes a kitchen work well?

Back of the House really gave me a good look at what goes on back there while we wait for our food to arrive. I found Back of the House to be slow in some parts, and it took me quite awhile to finish the book.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg

Wizenberg writes the blog, Orangette, and I have given her first memoir, A Homemade Life, to many friends as gifts. In fact, I gave a copy to everyone who helped in any way at my wedding! It was a sweet memoir full of accessible recipes (the Lemon Yogurt Cake is one of my standbys). All that to say, I was very excited that Wizenberg wrote another book! And then....I read it. It was disappointing.

The subtitle is misleading. Delancey, the name of the pizzeria that Wizenberg and her husband open up in Seattle, is not about A Man or A Woman or about A Marriage. It's really just about A Restaurant. So if you want a primer about what it takes to start a restaurant from scratch, Delancey is your book because that is what this is. I missed the Wizenberg from A Homemade Life in which she shared her personality, heart, and warmth. All of that was missing from Delancey.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian is my book club's choice for November. As I've mentioned before, I'm not a fan of science fiction, but I really enjoyed The Martian!

A crew of six astronauts hastily evacuates Mars when a dust storm arrives. During the evacuation, Mark appears to be killed, so the rest of the crew leaves without him. But he's still alive and now he's stranded on Mars! He is not going to give up though and begins to figure out a way to re-establish communication with NASA and a way to keep himself alive.

Right from the beginning, Mark is a very amiable character with a fun sense of humor. The book starts off with his log entry from Sol 6: "I'm pretty much f*****."

There is technical stuff in here but the drama really drew me in. Make sure you have some room in your schedule to settle down with this book, because you will not want to put it down.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Zusak also wrote The Book Thief which I liked very much. I am still undecided about whether I liked The Book Thief or I Am the Messenger better. It's okay. That means that they were both good!

Ed Kennedy is a young guy who works as a cabdriver and lives with his smelly dog, Doorman. He's in love with his best friend, and his mom seems to hate him.

One day he unintentionally stops a bank robbery...and then he starts receiving mysterious clues about people that need his help. Who is sending him on these caring missions?

A thoughtful and fun book. (Warning: it's also a bit crude in some parts.) It has a much bigger message than what I expected.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood by Jennifer Senior

I recently visited some friends and their brand-new baby boy (three weeks old!) and while I was holding the baby, I asked the dad how he (the father) was doing. He said, "I honestly don't know how I feel." I appreciated his honesty and told him so! I also told my friends, "Your son has the cutest face I've ever seen!" And dad replied, "That's why I don't think he's ours." Hehehehe.

Anyway, onto the book. Parenting books usually address how parenting styles can affect the emotions, behaviors, and values of little ones. All Joy and No Fun looks at a different question: What is the effect of having kids on parents? Senior walks us through how marriages are affected, and then through each developmental stage and its effects on mothers and fathers. She uses research, case studies, and interviews to illustrate her points.

I found this book to be engaging and a good look into how parenting affects marriage relationships, professional life, personal identity, and social life. I did get a bit bogged down about 1/3 through but I did end up finishing it. Not really sure who I would recommend this to...people expecting a child?? Hum...people who already have children?? Not sure...