Monday, December 29, 2014

My Favorite Books (and Recipe) of 2014

In 2014, I did not read a ton of books that I loved. I know this because as I looked over all of my book reviews from 2014, it was easy and quick to figure out my favorite books of the year. In years past, I had 10+ titles and had to whittle it down. Well, that's the way the cookie crumbles! Hopefully, 2015 will hold more books that I will love along with lots of cookies!

Thank you for reading my blog this year! I hope you found some good books to read and I hope that I steered you away from some that were not worth your time. Happy new year!

Favorite Fiction:

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
I LOVED this book, and fell in love with June. It's one of the few books this year that I actually bought to add to my home library.

The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty 
This book had the best Epilogue that I've ever read. Really! Again, please do not be fooled by the fluffy cover. It's a good read.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
The most challenging thing about this book is that I was supposed to be studying but wanted to read it instead.




Favorite Memoir:

Motherhoodwinked: An Infertility Memoir by Anne-Marie Scully 
Why did I read this book twice this year? It was the most honest book about infertility that I've come across. 

Best Recipe I Came Across While Reading This Year:

The vinaigrette from How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Anne Berest, Audrey Diwan, Caroline De Maigret and Sophie Mas.

Here it is: (add in order listed!)
1 part vinegar
1 part water
2 parts olive oil

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Three More Quick Reviews

I'm trying to squeeze in reviews for all of the books I've read by the end of this year. So here are three more quick reviews about the last three fiction books I've read.

Five Days Left by Julie Lawson Timmer
A well-written downer of a book and also a primer on Huntington's Disease. There are two stories in this book, one about a wife and mother with Huntington's Disease who is ready to call it quits, and another story about a soon-to-be-father whose heart belongs to his temporary foster son. There are lots of issues explored about in this book, but because it is such a downer, I can't wholeheartedly recommend it to you.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
I really, really liked this book! It's about six friends who meet at a high school performing arts camp in the 70s, and it follows them through mid-life. I LOVE books that follow the lifespan. I was absorbed in this book.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Told from the point of view of Mia, a talented 16-year-old cellist, who is in a car accident in which all of her family members are killed. Mia is watching herself in the hospital as she recounts her life and decides whether or not to stay or to go with the rest of her family. The book was dull in some parts and dragged in others, but I liked it enough to put myself on the waiting list for the sequel.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Resurrection Year: Turning Broken Dreams into New Beginnings by Sheridan Voysey

I've read some memoirs about the struggle with infertility, but never one written from the husband's perspective so this is a welcome book.

After ten years of wanting a child, going through several rounds of IVF, and starting and stopping the adoption process, Sheridan and his wife decide that it is time to give up their dream of having a baby. They embark on a "resurrection year" in order to rest and heal emotionally and physically. They quit their jobs, relocate to Europe, and spend some time in Italy and Switzerland. Gradually they process what they've been through and how they feel about God.

At first, the bouncing to and fro from present to past makes for a disjointed narrative, but once Voysey fills in the gaps and just stays in the present, the story is more enjoyable. I liked reading their story because although it was sad, it goes into territory that other books on infertility avoid, and that is the territory of What now?

Resurrection Year is full of hope and mess and encouragement, and I hope it finds its way into the hands of couples who find themselves desperate, hopeless, and wondering what is next for them.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Four Quick Reviews

The year is quickly coming to a close, so here is a catch-up post with some of the most recent books (two fiction and two non-fiction) I've read with two or three-sentence reviews.

Next week, I will post some more quick reviews on three other fiction books I've read recently.


When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

Twenty years after his parents were kidnapped, a London detective returns to Shanghai to get to the bottom of their disappearance. I am NOT recommending this book to you because I found it unsatisfying and quite boring. Written by the same author as one of my favorite books, The Remains of the Day, I have to say that I prefer The Remains of the Day over this one.

The Absolutely True Story of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexi

This is the story of a Native American teenage boy living on a reservation who decides to make a change in his life and attend the mostly white high school 22 miles away from the reservation. A total teenage boy book (beware of boner jokes!) but with lots of heart and tension between sticking with the status quo and wanting to make a future for yourself.




Motherhood Smotherhood: Fighting Back Against the Lactivists, Mompetitions, Germophobes, and So-Called Experts Who Are Driving Us Crazy by JJ Keith

JJ Keith offers her take on all of the talk and blogging out there about the "perfect" way to be pregnant, give birth, nurse a baby, and to parent. I am wondering who I could give this funny, witty, and down-to-earth book to as a gift, but I think that some of my mom friends might be offended.

At Home with Madame Chic: Becoming a Connoisseur of Daily Life by Jennifer L. Scott

I liked Scott's previous book, Lessons from Madame Chic, and here she brings her thoughts about creating and running a home that is a refuge from the world and about living a life at home that brings you joy. I like Scott because she is practical and inspiring without being pretentious. This book actually flowed better than her first.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

There is a song and dance number with Neil Patrick Harris (NPH) and Hugh Jackman from the Tony Awards when NPH hosted in 2011 that I watched almost daily for quite awhile. It was so funny. I watched it so often that Boomer got tired of watching it with me.

I think NPH is so funny and talented, so I was happy to read his autobiography in this creative Choose Your Own Adventure format. Heheeheh. He is funny in print, but also quite crude, so consider that a warning to my young readers out there. I was hoping NPH might show a little bit more thoughtfulness in how his fame and career has affected him, but alas, it's mostly an amusing memoir with some magic tricks included. I liked the book, but not as much as I thought that I might.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found by Rebecca Alexander

The author was born with Usher Syndrome Type III, a very rare genetic disorder that is causing her to gradually lose her sight and hearing. However, that has not stopped her from becoming a psychotherapist (with two Master's degrees) and a spin class instructor. She lives in New York City with her dog, and her spirit and determination to thrive is quite inspiring.

She is very open about the challenges of her life and the fear and anxiety she feels. Along with that, her great personality and humor really shine through. I really liked her and her thoughtfulness and reflections on her own life about what is under her control and what is not, her thankfulness for what she has (which includes a supportive group of friends and family), and her honesty about the parts of life that really suck as well.

Initially, I thought that this would be a tough book to read. I was wrong. I could not put it down.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Please let me know...

The end of 2014 is coming and later this month I will be posting a list of my favorite books of the year. I would like to know what your favorite books have been too! So please let me know the best books you've read in 2014 so that I can add them to my reading list!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Two very different books: Mother Hoodwinked: An Infertility Memoir by Anne-Marie Scully and Cracking Up: A Postpartum Faith Crisis by Kimberlee Conway Ireton

I read these two books within weeks of each other. Mother Hoodwinked (already reviewed on this blog, so this was a re-read) is written by a woman who desperately wants a child and has difficulties with fertility. She is heartbroken and shares her struggles and the emotional and physical roller coaster of receiving fertility treatments. I like the author's voice and honesty.

Cracking Up is written by a woman with two children. She is ready to focus on her writing when she finds out that she is pregnant with twins. She complains quite a bit about how physically uncomfortable she is during her pregnancy and about the sleep deprivation after the boys are born. The most meaty part of the book is the last quarter as she describes her post-partum depression and her decision to seek out medical treatment to stabilize her body. The author of Cracking Up was more difficult for me to like, but I liked her more toward the end of the book.

Two different problems (infertility vs. unwanted children) both leading to depression and despair and struggle. There are all kinds of struggles in life.

As I read Cracking Up after Mother Hoodwinked, I imagined more than once what would happen if these two authors sat down for a cup of coffee and shared their experiences. I wonder how they would relate and if they could be friends.