Thursday, September 30, 2010

Meeting Mr. Wrong

Meeting Mr. Wrong; the Romantic Misadventures of a Southern Belle by Stephanie Snowe.

I "met" the author on her old blog (Jason. For the love of God - the link to her current blog is there) I adore her wit and her 'put it all out there' way of writing about her life.  I'd initially put off reading her book because I didn't want it to change the way I read her blog. I still wanted it to be fresh and alive for me and for some reason I worried it would begin to read more like a reality TV series ... you know?  not really reality??

I gave in this summer and ordered it (my bookstore didn't carry it and neither did my kindle ... hmpf!), I was not disappointed and still look forward to her current posts online.

The book starts out with Stephanie's new husband proclaiming "I don't love you.  I never did!  As soon as them babies come out, I'm divorcing you!"

Seriously, it's on page 1!

She takes us through the ups and downs of life after divorce, with twins and a sense of humor leading the way.  Through the issues of internet dating, grown men that live with their moms, workplace set ups, dealing with family perceptions of where you should be at in life, and did I mention, she has twins??

It's a roller coaster ride, but one that Stephanie shares with humor and dignity (even when she thinks she's lost it).  I enjoyed every bit of it, even the dates from hell, because I could gag, cringe, cry and laugh with her.  I recommend it to anyone looking for a fun, quick, chick lit read ... and my copy is up for grabs!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Unit (novel)

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

This Swedish author's debut novel puts us in a dystopia set in the near future.  There are two classes of people in this time - the "dispensable", the middle aged who have yet to start a family or create ties that make them useful in society, and the "necessary", those who have started families and are contributing to the growth of society, or are of a profession that is considered valuable to the society (professors, doctors, etc).

The dispensable are brought in during their respective birth months, women upon turning 50, and men upon turning 60, to a Unit where they are housed while living out their remaining days.  These Units have wonderful accommodations, each person having their own apartments and access to dining, shopping, entertainment, parks, pools, gyms, and the such.  For these people, who have typically lived on little money and few friends, this tends to be a favorable option.  They are surrounded by people, much like them, and are put in an environment much better than the one they'd had in the "community".  In return for the monetarily free life they live, they are used as guinea pigs to experimental treatments meant to better the lives of the necessary people in the outside community and they are expected to donate organs to them until their "final donation" of the most vital organs.

This story begins upon author, Dorrit Weger's arrival at the Unit and follows her through the ups and downs of her stay.  She makes wonderful friends, continues her writing, and even falls in love.  She finds comfort in finally being able to be herself without being looked down upon for her life style and the choices she's made.

This book was a great read.  I did find small parts of it annoyingly repetitive, but it didn't turn me away from the underlying feeling that this may not be too far off from reality.  When we let society dictate our worth and in turn allow laws to be created that support the "values" of social and economic growth over a person's individuality, this is quite possibly the result.

Despite the outcome you feel lingering within the pages, the book is not all sadness and suppression (tho I did shed a tear or two towards the end).  Friendship and love bring out the humor among the dispensable, and even some compassion from the necessary.

It's not a book I would recommend to everybody, I would say you'll either really enjoy it, or you'll find it totally unappealing, there isn't much middle ground to stand on.  I ordered it on my kindle after the sample read piqued my curiosity and upon the recommendation of a friend. Sorry, you'll have to decide for yourself.

happy reading!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tinkers (novel)

Tinkers by Paul Harding

In this debut novel, Paul Harding tells the story of the last few days of an elderly man dying as he's surrounded by his family. While the author does touch on the man's physical state as he dies, the story really takes place much more inside the man's head. As George Washington Crosby dies over a period of several days, his life "flashes" before him, though more slowly than what we've come to think of as one's life flashing before them. Various memories are recounted, mostly from George's childhood, growing up as the eldest son of an epileptic father (at a time when epilepsy was considered a form of insanity) and a bitter mother. George, in his twilight years, becomes a repairer of antique clocks; his father was a peddler and repairer of various household goods; hence the title "Tinkers"; both father and son tinkered. The author's real gift is in his prose; he deftly describes both items and scenes in a very visual way, although some of the descriptions were too wordy and complicated for me, as the inner workings of a clock, for instance.

It's not a long book - under 200 pages. Still, it took me a bit of work to get through. It's one of those books with reviews on the back cover touting it as "remarkable," etc., that leave me feeling like there might be something wrong with me that I didn't love it as much as I was supposed to. (And it did win a Pulitzer Prize.) It's a good book, but I didn't think it was great.

Mine's up for grabs; if you want it, say the word.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

When Everything Changed (non-fiction)

When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins

Think you know all about "Women's Lib" and the sexual revolution? For most of us born anytime after the early 1960s, these are abstract concepts that seem outdated. Something that happened a long time ago that doesn't have a whole lot to do with everyday life for us now. Although there is still occasional talk of "sexism" and "chauvinism," women of my generation and younger take for granted that they have the same rights and opportunities that their male counterparts do.

But it wasn't always like this. In fact, a mere half-century ago, a woman was kicked out of court, where she had gone to pay a traffic ticket, because she was wearing slacks. And so the book opens, giving us the full story of how women in America went from being "chattel," with very few rights or opportunities outside of marrying very young and producing offspring, to setting their sights as far as the White House and as high as the moon.

It took a little work to get into the book, as it is full of history and facts and reads a bit like a textbook. But the author does a wonderful job of holding the reader's interest with her entertaining style and with lots of relatable anecdotes. I'm glad I stuck it out and read the whole thing - it took me a few weeks, but it was well worth it.

This one is my book club's current pick; the discussion in a couple weeks should be very interesting, especially given that several of our members will be bringing their mothers along to give their perspectives on how life has been for them living on both ends of the women's movement.

I'm keeping my copy - maybe my daughters will read it one day. I definitely recommend it, though!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Shack

Throwing another "God" book into the mix here, the much talked about The Shack by Wm. Paul Young.

It's about a man, Mack, whose young daughter was abducted and murdered by a serial killer. Several years later he finds a note supposedly from God, asking to meet him at the shack where evidence of his daughter's murder was recovered.

When he arrives at the shack, Mack has an experience with God. Whether it was an actual experience or a dream or whatever is up to the reader. Mack meets God, who appears as the Holy Trinity in three rather unexpected forms. During his time with God, Mack expresses his anger at God for the loss of his daughter as God tries to explain to him why bad things happen and how to forgive.

In spite of the presence of The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit, I didn't find the book to be overly Christian, just intensely spiritual. It certainly packs an emotional punch and I found myself in tears of sadness and joy several times.

Mack certainly has reason to be angry at God, and I'm not quite sure I buy into God's explanation for it all, or even if it's God's explanation or rather the author's explanation. That's a question for theologians.

It's not a very long book and worth the read. Perhaps some will find comfort in it.

This one's on my Kindle.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love

I happened to see Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love on the sale shelf at Borders and had to see what all the hype was about. I've had friends tell me the book changed their lives.

After a bitter divorce, the author sets out to Italy, India, and Indonesia. In Italy, she indulges in the food, in India she learns meditation, and in Indonesia she learns to fall in love again.

I'm glad that Elizabeth Gilbert is such an engaging writer, because my first thought on reading this book was "Of COURSE you can go off and find yourself when you're getting paid to do it and have no husband/kids/job responsibilities!" But after I got over my original eye-rolling over the premise, I really enjoyed reading about her journey to self-awareness.

For me, it wasn't life changing or even inspirational, but more of a pleasant travelogue.

This one's up for grabs.