Pick Ups

Book Review: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood (Outlander #8) – 5/5

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon

MOBY

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This!

Love! Love love love love love!

Book > Expectations

Diana Gabaldon is is genius, Davina Porter has the voice of an angel, it all culminates into a beautiful mixture of bliss.

When the last line of the book came, I gasped – aloud, on the street. I kid you not. With audiobooks it’s hard to know when the end is near and I was blindsided. I so, so, so want more! It was perfect and horrible all at one time; mostly because I can’t stand the thought of not having any new Outlander to read. I had only just finished book 7 a few months before this one came out.

I don’t know what it means to not have more at my fingertips.

I cannot handle this.

Did I mention that I love this? If you’ve made it this far to the series, you’re not going to need to read the reviews. Just know that Gabaldon is a wizard. Or mayhaps a witch.

Don’t care, just love.

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YA Book Review: Daughter of Smoke & Bone – 5 of 5!

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

smoke

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To those of you who pick up this book – I recommend you buy/borrow the other two from the trilogy at the same time. You’re going to want to read them all in quick succession.

I borrowed this book from the library and read it in a day. Within about three minutes of closing the book I was online, confirming the others were on the shelf, and walking back to the library to borrow the other two. It’s that good, folks!

I love this book’s imagination, the colors, the scenes. It’s all so beautiful. The setting is incredible – Prague, the art studio, Poison. Even better are the people! Humans, angels, and creatures – they are all fascinating. Taylor does such a great job of showing me everything without overloading me with exposition. I can see so much, and I don’t even think that’s because I’ve traveled to many of the places (Prague and Marrakesh being two main settings – gorgeous on paper and in real life!).

Then there’s a plot. It has the scary angels which fascinate me (quick plug for how awesome Angelfall is) along with just as fascinating underworld beings. I love the way you’re not sure who is good and who is bad. The action is intense on both a large and a small scale. Both the reader and the main character, Karou, spend the book trying to figure out who she is – and what connection she has to the (potentially) imminent end to the world. That’s a plot hook if I ever heard of one!

Okay, enough of this internet business – I need to crack open book #2!

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YA Book Review: Impluse – 3.5 of 5

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

impulse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I checked this book out from the library, I didn’t bother to crack the cover. I just went on my merry way. When I finally opened the book I almost snapped it right shut – I had no idea it was written entirely in verse (or close enough). I’ve only read one book in this style before, long ago, and it didn’t sit too well. I decided to keep an open mind, though, and jumped in. Overall, I’m glad I did. This book is a solid 3.5 with enough oomph to round up instead of down.

I could have done without that style of writing and just gone with the prose, but it worked. It focused more on the characters and their thoughts and required less regarding the setting and other goings-on (not that those were absent). I also enjoyed the way the three characters’ pages actually looked different. It was an easy way to tell apart the voices (which was needed, since otherwise everyone was similar in their manner of speaking).

This book is angsty to the extreme. It’s necessary, a book about three characters who failed at suicide is bound to be angsty, but it’s still good to know coming in. Despite all their problems, I found their ability to move through the Levels of their care too easy. This book is pro-medication as a fixer; I know meds help many people, so I’m not knocking it, the book just makes the opinion obvious. The workers at this group are strangely oblivious – maybe that’s another statement being made as well. I think by the end we as readers all knew something was going to happen (this type of book couldn’t be all happy-go-lucky, after all) but that unfortunately made the “happening” dulled.

Despite a few of my misgivings, I think this is a very solid YA book about many difficult subjects. My absolute favorite part of the book is how these three characters see each other. I love, love, love how Hopkins did this characterization. All three people, of course, hate themselves in some way (who doesn’t, especially as an adolescent?) but they all see each other as wonderful. They all see the others as strong and capable and beautiful. It’s a great message and woven in very subtly.

Overall – not bad and it’s worth it to try something new!

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Book Review: I Shall Be Near To You – 4.5 of 5

I Shall Be Near to You: A Novel by Erin Lindsay McCabe

neartoyou

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

This book is such a good example of why I love historical fiction. Historical fiction can take the liberties needed to craft a really excellent story, while still teaching me a little about the lives and actions of past history. For me, nothing makes things like love or loss ring more true than when I’m reading it in a historical context. McCabe does a truly wonderful job of making all that happen in this book.

I Shall Be Near to You is clearly well researched, but you’re not overwhelmed by facts. The book isn’t about the Civil War in of itself; it’s about Rosetta. She’s a feisty woman who wants nothing more than to run a farm with her husband, Jeremiah, a local boy she’s loved forever. Their lives promise to be happy, if it weren’t for the war.

Rosetta’s voice is incredible. McCabe does a wonderful job of using language of the time and of Rosetta’s upbringing (which would have consisted of only an average education). But her farm-like manner doesn’t hinder the reader from seeing how strong, resourceful, and passionate Rosetta is. And never, not for one moment, do we doubt her love for Jeremiah.

Romantic as it is, this isn’t a book for the weak of stomach or for someone who doesn’t have any tissues handy. About half of this book takes place marching or on the battlefield and McCabe provides us with a myriad of visions, sounds, and smells (especially smells!) of what is going on. It’s gut wrenching and I guarantee you heart is bound to break. In all honesty, I didn’t think what happened was going to happen and I was astounded when it did. I think it was best for the story, but I can tell you it was not what I wanted.

What can I say? This is a great story and adds just a little to what we know and think of when it comes to the Civil War. An excellent read.

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Series Review: The Lunar Chronicles – (an enthusiastic) 4 of 5

Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and (in 2015) Winter.

There’s a lot to love about this series:

1) Cinder was born of NaNoWriMo (the greatest thing ever for those of you who don’t know about it) and, to my understanding, much of the rest of the books were drafted in November as well.  I have a special place in my heart for NaNo books.

2) While having a core plot throughout, each book focuses on one Bad-A** lady from a fairy tale.  The plot line of her story more-or-less follows the trajectory of the classic tale while holding true to the core, original, plot.  Those are some mad skillz.

3) That original plot I mentioned? It’s creative and interesting and complex without being confusing.

4) The dudes are adorable.

There’s more, but I thing those are really the main highlights.  Yes, it’s YA, and as I’m not a YA myself any longer, there is many times where I can’t stop an eye-roll at some of the young thoughts and emotions that come flying off the page. The key is to let yourself go.  Immerse yourself into what’s happening and you’ll have a great time.

cinder


Cinder is spunky, unique, and manages to stay in line with the traditional ideas of Cinderella – the evil step-mother, the step-sisters, and, of course, that dashing, heart-throbbing prince. What isn’t traditional is that our heroine is a messy mechanic cyborg.  Sha-zam.

Admittedly, because of how well we know the classic fairy tale, it is a bit predictable, but the character development keeps any dull feelings at bay. Meyer does such a  good job of creating each character as an individual. Every character is dynamic – I particularly found the evil step-mother and the Doctor very well designed. There isn’t just one static “this person is good/bad” feel to it.  How is it that, of all the characters, I love the android Iko the best?  That’s good writing.

Oh yeah, and did you know it takes place in future China-ish? Awesome!  It’s the little nuances that really make this first book shine. 

scarlet

Where Cinder was an awkward yet confident, down-trodden yet finding herself, kind of main character, Scarlet takes it all up a notch.  This girl kicks butt left and right and doesn’t break a sweat.  She’s sassy and sweet. Scarlet forms as a great second heroine while somehow not taking the sparkle off Cinder’s own adventures.

Of the three books out right now though, it is my least favorite. It’s a good gateway to the next but it’s also the least believable.  This might get a touch spoiler-y but I had two main issues throughout – the sudden deep but really quite unnerving attraction with Wolf, and Scarlet’s dedication to the grandmother.

Let me explain.  It’s not that I don’t think both of those things aren’t good and important for the book – they are – but the way things shook out were over the top.  I know Wolf is loyal (like a dog, get it, lolz) but the way he constantly threw himself in front of Scarlet got old (mostly because Scarlet is totally able take care of herself).  And – and this will sound calloused – Scarlet’s insistence to sacrifice herself for her grandmother became exasperating. No offense to my grandmother, but I think 99% of reasonable people would realize that a young, vibrant woman shouldn’t risk everything for an already dying old lady. Just saying.  I know we needed that for forward motion but it was insane.

Even with my few irks, Meyer was really able to make the additional characters shine – and be different – from the ones in the previous book.  Our cast is growing without any harm, and that’s wonderful.

I almost forgot – Thorne.  He is hysterical.  Total favorite.  He is this year’s Han Solo.

cress

Now, we have Cress.  She’s the perfect next main character because she’s wonderfully different.  Don’t get me wrong – she’s still a bad-a** with her seriously impressive hacking skills but she’s not going to beat anyone up.  In fact, she’s much more apt to hide in a corner, but that doesn’t mean shes’ a damsel in distress, either.  Meyer has made such a great balance of showing how her ladies need help sometimes, but that doesn’t make them weak.

A lot of things go down in Cress and they are all interesting.  One thing, after reviewing Game of Thrones, is that I do wish I could have believed a little bit more that bad things were actually going to happen. Sure there are cliffhangers and worries and the like but it was hard to ignore the fact that it is a YA book and, despite the dire circumstances, things were obviously going to work themselves out.

So, I maybe didn’t worry as much as I should have, but I still liked what I saw.  Emotions get deep in Cress – there’s insanity, near-fatal and irreparable wounds, deserts, disease, death, maiming, kidnapping, genocide, and the list goes on.  I don’t mean to say it’s depressing through.  How can it be when a character like Thorne is on so many pages?  He’s adorable and  he and Cress are a fantastic duo. Even more, when we do get back to the rest of the group, they still hold true to their own character traits.

Well, except for maybe Wolf.  You know, for being a “big, bad, wolf” he is a sally.  Seriously.  Whimper a little more, why don’t you? Suck it up and get the job done, bro.

*Cough* Anyway, as I was saying, like the rest, the story follows the trajectory of  a fairy tale, this time Rapunzel. The core plot is at the forefront and it’s intense.  Cress is set up beautifully for another book and I’m definitely ready for it.

All in all – a slow clap, high five, jig, and kudos to Marissa Meyer!

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Series Review: Game of Thrones -(a begrudging) 4 of 5

It’s official!  I’m caught up with A Song of Ice and Fire – aka, the Game of Thrones series.

Regardless of how good a Game of Thrones book is, when I get to the end I can’t help but give a huge sigh of relief and say, “Thank the Seven that’s over.”

gameofthrones

But first, let me back up. I bought the first book in this series in an airport bookstore because I thoughtlessly hadn’t charged my NOOK and I was desperate. I had heard everyone gushing over the HBO series but hadn’t heard any details so I thought it would be a good time to get started on the book. I think I was right. I managed to jump on the bandwagon before any of the secrets were revealed to me either through word of mouth or the show – and I’m glad. This book has a LOT of plot twists. Martin is a master at doing the unexpected. In this first book I even got used to expecting the unexpected and he STILL surprised me.

Let’s face it – just read Martin’s Good Reads bio and you’ll get an idea of the man. From what I can tell he lives and breathes fantasy and it shows. He’s got the whole universe in his head and is able to move character to character flawlessly. You definitely don’t feel like you’re missing out on any part of the story – and it’s a good story at that. Martin melds together realistic middle-earth situations with the supernatural to make a very unique epic.

That being said, I still think it has its flaws. Maybe it’s just because it’s still new and doesn’t have the long backing like LOTR has but I find the majority of Martin’s characters one-dimensional. Maybe that’s not fair – how about just predictable? I think that’s the downfall of having so many perspectives, it’s impossible to make ALL of them dynamic. It’s also long-winded – while I can’t say I ever lost interest in the story I did sometimes feel like I wasn’t getting anywhere. I think that really goes back to Martin’s thoroughness of the world – sometimes you can’t separate out what is essential and what is just cool.

Reading the first book in this series makes you want to jump into the second book head first.

clash

Be careful, though.  The second book is where you start to realize how “epic” this series will become.  Book two is just like book one – a lot of exposition intermingled with some adventure. It’s as though you unwittingly made a blood oath with Martin.  By cracking open book two you told him, “Yes, Sir, I want to know everything and more about this world you have created.  Lay it on me.”

And, let me tell you, Martin is not a shy man on the page. Not about his stories and definitely not about his eagle-eye focus on any and all private parts waggling or bowels fouling or what-have-you.  Seriously.  If it’s not a whore baring her nether regions then it’s someone messing their pants in fright. Or anger. Or self-loathing.  Or just because they have to go, I don’t know, Martin obviously gets his jollies from exposing people in the name of “reality” (in a fake universe, of course.)

storm

If you make it through book two, then book three is well worth the effort. Book three is where the magic happens.  That’s where all the painstaking exposition of book two that you scraped through comes to light (unfortunately, due to the length of the books you might not remember half that exposition, but never you mind that little piece).  Book three brings to light Martin’s showmanship and his ability to make all the ladies gasp, “No!”

If you’re weak of heart and stomach, and/or if you’re really enjoying the HBO series, it might behoove you to just stop at book three. Seriously.  If there is a weak link in the series for me, it’s book four.  For me, it’s obvious that when writing this book Martin had already had his fan base.  His editors are either terrified of him or they’re lazy.  Either way, they don’t even try to cut down the mumbo-jumbo that is book four.  Add in the fact that Martin changes the pace and only gives us half a story (but still as much, if not more, length) and you can probably understand why I’m so ornery about book four.

feast

This is my almost immediate reaction of book four when I finished it –

Man, what is it about these books? When I’m reading them, I’m usually enjoying the plot-line but straight up loathing GRR Martin. If I ever meet the guy I’ll probably say something to the extent of, “Hey! I enjoyed your books, but I had a real problem reading them because the whole time all I could think about is how I’m certain you’re a raging d*-canoe.”

Seriously. His descriptions of everything lewd are just so exhausting. How many times over in this series have we seen breasts/nipples ripped off/mangled/slices/clawed/whatever? We get it G, you’re creepily obsessed with describing lady-parts at really random times. Stop.

What’s with the sudden focus on women’s power? Boorrrring. It’s like out of nowhere we have all these heroines who, sorry Georgie, have a lot in common. Beautiful, young, and lusty for power (Seriously – Cersei, Asha, Alanna, Margaery, and Dany) so you get this slew of ladies whose internal thoughts are all something along the lines of “Woe is me, if I weren’t this super busty lady with perky nipples I could have all the power I wanted, blah blah blah”

dance

Still I pressed on and I can say, I overall enjoyed the 5th book more than I did the 4th. Things just seemed to move faster. The characters perspectives didn’t get as stale and there were fewer swinging breasts and heaving beasts and squeezed breasts in this one than in the others (though that’s likely due to a great lack of women narrators in this book compared to others – but I’ll still take it.)

After five books Martin’s unpredictability is getting a little predictable and I kind of wish he would just end it already. All the same, I can’t argue with the fact that he’s created an immense world and landscape. When he’s not being gross, his writing can be so engaging and, sometimes, downright beautiful. I can’t quite recommend anyone subject themselves to reading the series, but if you’ve already begun, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed working your way through this one.

So where does that leave me?  Muttering and complaining and, yes, still reading on. Martin, you’re a man I love to hate.

lovehate

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Book Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian – 4 of 5

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

diary

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“I used to think the world was broken down by tribes,’ I said. ‘By Black and White. By Indian and White. But I know this isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: the people who are assholes and the people who are not.”

I’ve come to realize something – young adult books need to be read on paper or e-book only. I listened to this audio book and, though the author was the narrator, which I usually love, the repetition of words and the teenage mind was a cheese grater to my soul at times. You may not have noticed it in book form, but Junior says “wow” a lot.

Even with that, I enjoyed this read. It’s perfect in many ways. We all love an awkward narrator. The voice of the story says it himself – he’s a reject in so many ways. He has his physical ailments, his brains, his emotions, and his will to survive. Every time he takes a step to the left, the rest of his world is stepping to the right. I love how we come upon this kid’s “diary” right at the time when he has figured out that he will never, and can never, fit in. We see him embrace that knowledge and move forward. It’s a great message to anyone of any age.

Alexie does a wonderful job of showing us that core, live wire of reality that every reader can relate to. It’s important to have that because the rest of the book can be quite alienating. Most people who read this, just due to numbers, will have no idea what it’s like to be a Native American, what reservations are like, or any of that. This book give s new perspective on a life not often highlighted.

My favorite scene (let’s see if I can say this without a spoiler) is the final basketball game. I think we as readers realize the David and Goliath role-reversal the same instant Junior does. I felt my elation deflate at the same moment his did. Alexie did such a good job at making that moment a blow to the heart. It was the perfect reality check that seemed to remind us that this book wasn’t going to be Remember the Titans or Friday Night Lights. This wasn’t about a game, it was about a kid’s life, and there was so much more to it than that.

As I’m writing this, I realize I don’t have much bad to say. Still, I can’t quite make it that level 5. Blame it on the audio book and the tell-tale-talk of a teenager. If you’re interested in this, I recommend picking it up in a paperback (or e-reader!)

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Book Review: The Invention of Wings – 5 of 5

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

wings

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“You got to figure out which end of the needle you’re gon be, the one that’s fastened to the thread or the end that pierces the cloth.”

Reading The Secret Life of Bees just meant I had a favorite book. Reading The Invention of Wings means I have a favorite author. Sun Monk Kidd is tremendous, folks.

This book pulls at your heartstrings in a way that isn’t cheesy. It’s authentic without being boring, it’s about slavery without chastising, and it’s about abolition without pride (well, at least the bad kind of pride). It gives the bad guys of the story hearts while it keeps the good guys with their feet on the earth. Sun Monk Kidd weaves in so much symbolism you can see it without the help of your English teacher. Instead of feeling overdone, though, the nuances of water and wings and sewing makes the story so full-bodied you feel like you’ll burst.

There’s a lot I love about this story but probably my favorite part is how this novel, at first glance, is about slavery and it’s impact on two women – Hetty and Sarah. When you actually read it though, I think each reader will pick out something else that’s important to him/her. For me, I adored how much this book was about women. Men play very minor roles. The men in this story do little more than hinder the women along the way. Each step for these women are taken on their own – and it’s beautiful.

To sum it all up?

GUSH!

(Also – the audio version of this is excellent!)

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Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale – 5 of 5

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

handmaid

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Confession: I have a total lady crush on Margaret Atwood. I’m not ashamed.

Even though I wasn’t in love with Oryx and Crake I still think Atwood is a genius. While I still love The Blind Assassin the most of all the Atwood I have read, my 2014 re-read of this book has rekindled my lady-love.

I enjoyed this book immensely. The plot is incredibly gripping – instead of revealing it in chronological order, the reader is slowly taken through the mind of a Handmaid. Atwood gives such a perfect balance of the character’s remembrance and current activities. The truth is told to us is plausible pieces – the memories of Offred rise to the surface naturally.

My absolute favorite part of the book is when we get to the “how it happened” moment. The day that the funds were frozen, that the jobs were lost. Reading that caused a chill to run through me. It’s so simple and horrifyingly possible… it made me want to keep a stash of cash in the house just in case.

The plot line was fantastic and the writing in of itself was amazing. She personified characters who we never met and managed to integrate the boredom of the Handmaid (the words, the details, the line of thought) into a meaningful and forward moving story.

I found it intriguing and well done. Exceptional read. My re-read popped it to a 5.

(P.S. – on my first read through, I totally didn’t even know there was an epilogue. Mind. Blown. Also, I kind of liked it better without the epilogue… but I’m always one for ambiguity.)

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Book Review: Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna – 5 of 5

Songs from the Phenomenal Nothing by Steven Luna

phenomenal

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I sat down to read a chapter or two, just for a bit, and now I’m done. Devoured. That’s what happened with this book. Five, five, five stars.

This one had me from the get-go. Within about thirty seconds of reading you know Tyler Mills. He’s a teenage kid pissed off about something and is blaming it on his Dad for being a different person than him. At first you want to say “boo-hoo, kid” and kick off, but in the next thirty seconds you realize his Mom, his true connection, his source of inspiration, is dead. And then you feel bad about judging him for being all emo – and then you’re hooked.

What is it about Tyler that worked so well? It’s hard to pin-point. Maybe because he acted like a total teenager but his mind recognized how stupid he was being. Maybe because he was obviously smart and wanted to make good decisions but his fear and sadness was getting the best of him. If that isn’t a good representation of the young adult mind, I don’t know what is. The story was predictable but it moved quickly. The further it gets, in fact, the more cliché, but that didn’t detract at all. I loved it. I loved how I knew what was going to happen, I loved that Tyler did what I ultimately wanted him to do, and I love how it ended. Maybe I like clichés. I’m a firm believer that there are really only so many plotlines in the world, but there are never two personalities that are the same. It’s up to the writer to see an old situation from new eyes, and Luna nails it.

Love Perks of Being a Wallflower?  Love angst? Love teenagers figuring out their shizz? How about if you just love good books? I don’t really care what you love – you’ll love this one.

This book was provided to me as part of the Author Alliance.

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Ashley’s Top 5 Favorite Travel Memoirs (So Far)

Work has been SO busy lately. Whenever that happens I just want to get away and enjoy something new and wonderful.  Unfortunately, what with buying a house and all, money is a little tight so gallivanting off to a foreign country just isn’t in the cards.  At least not without some serious deal hunting.

Instead, I’ve decided to live vicariously and seek out a memoir or two.  For those of you who might be in the same boat at me, let me draw you attention to my five all-time favorite travel memoirs (so far).  In case you’re wondering, Eat, Pray, Love is not on the list.

1) In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams by Tahir Shah

inarabiannights

If you’ve read a few other posts of my blog, you’ll probably have already heard me gush about Tahir Shah and Arabian Nights. I can’t help it, this man just speaks to me.  Shah is such an incredible writer and when you add that in with his reflection on his move to Morocco… well, it’s magic to me.  This book might not quite fit the category of “travel memoir” like some of the others, but the core is the same.  It’s a book about discovering a new land – and therefore discovering yourself.  Everybody and their brother needs to read this book (IMHO)!

2) Wall to Wall: From Beijing to Berlin by Rail by Mary Morris

  walltowall

For me this book is the definition of the perfect woman travel memoir. This book was phenomenal – not only is Mary Morris probably the most self-honest person on the planet (I don’t think I could write my actions with truth like she, does even if I wanted to) but she’s a fantastic writer. Her personal struggles combined with the fascinating travel events make this a truly enthralling read. It’s set in such a dramatic time in history – Morris was in China, Russia, and Germany in 1986. Seeing some of those historic events happening through her eyes is unbelievably interesting. Great read!

3) Somebody’s Heart is Burning: A Woman Wanderer In Africa by Tanya Shaffer

HeartBurning

Shaffer’s memoir seemed very familiar. Woman travel memoirs tend to have a similar theme – the driving force in these stories is often a man back home. Why does she travel – is it because she’s running away or does she just love and enjoy what she’s doing? It’s hard, of course, to know. Part of a person, as a traveler, loves it. But the other part is exhausted. When you’re away from the place you grew up, even if you’ve been there for quite some time, you never can quite let down all of your guard.

There are two things very unique and refreshing about this book – the pictures and people. Shaffer had snapshots scattered throughout and it was fascinating for me to go back and forth between her descriptions and compare them to the face in the photograph. And she described people a lot. In fact, every chapter was focused on someone else – someone she met along the journey. She didn’t so much analyze them as she did talk about her experience with them and by the end of the chapter you realized how Shaffer felt changed by them. It was a very refreshing way to read a memoir.

4) Incognito Street: How Travel Made Me a Writer by Barbara Sjoholm

Incognito

You can probably tell from the title that I’m a bit biased by the plot of this story.  It’s about travel, and writing, and it’s set in Spain.  Clearly, I’m going to love this.  Sjoholm doesn’t disappoint.  She does a great job about remembering herself in this time the way she took chances, the people she met.  She really learned who she was in the process of this journey and it wasn’t until later when she was reflecting and writing this story that she was able to understand the way her life was affected by this trip. It’s such a beautiful thing to be let in on – and my main reason why memoirs are some of my favorite reads.

5) Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan

littleprinces

Like Arabian Nights, this book has more to it than just the travel bit. but it still will pull at your travel bone if you take it in.  Grennan did what I would love to do – do something crazy because you feel like it’s the right thing to do and let it change your life. He has had such an incredible journey and has been able to take his travel to a new height.  His book highlights that journey in of himself but he doesn’t forget to talk about the travel and country and people he met either.  Did I mention, to, that this book is funny?  Not something I expected from something about orphaned children!  I read his via audio book and Grennan narrates it himself – so good!

So, what’s next?

The best part about travel is that there’s always more to see – and the great thing about memoirs is that there’s always another one to read.  I’ve narrowed down my choices to these three – any suggestions to which one I (hopefully) enjoy first?

Don lost NoHurry

Categories: Lists, Pick Ups, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review: Bridget Jones – Mad About the Boy – 3.5 of 5

Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding

bridget

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I heard there would be a third Bridget Jones book, all I could think was – amazgog.

I didn’t know a single thing about this nook prior to picking it up – I just jumped right in. I’m glad I went in blind because I’m not sure if I would have picked it up on the premise alone. Fifty-one year old Bridget Jones, widow, mother of two, dating a 30 year old? That sounds like all of these Hollywood movies coming out nowadays with the aging actors whose entire movie is about aging – booooring.

The thing is that 51 year old Bridget doesn’t sound like a 50 year old (nor, apparently, look like a 50 year old). She’s definitely the old Bridget with her ridiculous quirky attitude – she’s hysterically scatterbrained and makes any woman who reads Bridget’s diary feel better about herself. (Except for maybe my own mother, 99% of women are more put together than Jonesey here.)

There are some really wonderful things about this book. Her kids are freaking adorable and her mourning is intermittent (after all, it’s 4 or 5 years later) but still there and realistically touching. I loved her Twitter experience – Bridget Jones style of writing is practically made for Twitter. It made for a lot of giggles. And the part at the birthday party where she throws the dog in the pool – I might have piddled a little I was giggling so hard.

Overall, though, as much as I enjoyed the reading process I couldn’t quite get this book to 4 stars. There’s just too much about this book that felt a bit off.

1) I felt the ending was far too obvious and then came too quickly – we as readers didn’t get to fall in love with the right man.

2) Bridget’s weight issue was resolved so miraculously and then never gained back – the woman ate entire bags of shredded cheese every day and more or less kept her weight down? Whhaaaa?

3) No Darcy. It’s just not Bridget Jones without him.

4) HOW did she get so many damn Twitter followers?! (Okay, maybe that last bit is my own personal issue.)

There’s more but it’s a bit spoilery. Still, none of it makes the book unreadable. It’s a quick read overall and it’s still cute Bridget Jones. One and 2 might be better than 3, but it’s well worth the read.

Categories: Pick Ups, Weekly Review | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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