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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

#BookReview: Clara and Mr. Tiffany - Susan Vreeland

I tried to read this book twice and failed, so I thought I'd give the audio version a try.  It took me over a month to get through the CDs, and not just because it was a long listen at 16 hours.  It just didn't hold my attention and I found myself listening to the radio, which I hate, instead of the book.  I eventually made it through, if only because I didn't have another audio book.
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Monday, January 28, 2013

#BookReview: The Man in 3B - Carl Weber

I'm not really sure when Carl Weber started to dislike women.  To be honest, I can't say for sure that he doesn't like them, but his portrayal of them in his latest is less than complimentary.  If I'm being fair, the men don't seem to do much better.  Quite frankly, there's not really one likable character in The Man in 3B.
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Friday, January 25, 2013

#BookReview: Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits - Laila Lalami #BP2W (Morocco)

Fourteen kilometers separate Morocco from Spain.  Those 14 kilometers can be the difference between living and merely existing.  Though it seems like a minor distance, taking no more than thirty minutes to cross, the two countries are worlds apart. The members of the group that set off for Spain in the six meter inflatable have a variety of reasons for leaving Morocco, but their ultimate goal is to create a better life for themselves.
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Friday, January 18, 2013

#BookReview: The Autobiography of My Mother - Jamaica Kincaid #BP2W (Dominica)

Xuela Claudette Richardson is born the daughter of a Carib woman and a Scottish/African father.  Her mother died during childbirth and the reader is reminded of this, seemingly, at least once a chapter.  The lack of a mother frames all of Xuela's thoughts and she seems to use it as an excuse for how she lives her life. Choosing not to love anyone, not even her father, Xuela comes across as a bitter and lonely individual.
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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

#BookReview: Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker - Jennifer Chiaverni

Remember in grade school how shocked you were the first time you saw your teacher outside of school?  You thought she lived at the school, so it was hard to imagine that she had a life away from school.  In Jennifer Chiaverini's Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker, I get the feeling that she finds it difficult to imagine Elizabeth Keckley has a life apart from the White House and so she tethers her to it,  However, we know from her own memoir, Behind the Scenes Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, and other accounts that she was so much more.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

In Memory of JBobb 50

It's rare that I get personal on here, but today we're burying my brother.  If you were lucky enough to know him, you know that he loved life, always had a smile and a joke, and loved the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Yesterday at his wake, there were so many people that someone commented that they when they arrived, they thought there must be multiple wakes happening.  He knew absolutely everyone and a week never passed that someone didn't ask me if I was Jason's sister.  I am.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

#BookReview: Kitchen - Banana Yoshimoto #BP2W (Japan)

I knew when I started this challenge that there might be some books I wouldn't get because of cultural differences.  Two weeks in and I've come across that first book.  I really wanted to like Kitchen, but it was strange and otherworldly.  It was a huge hit in Japan though, so perhaps it's just me.
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

#BookReview: The History of Us - Leah Stewart

Take three kids (11, 9 and 2), a 28 year old aunt, add water, stir well and you have instant family, right?  Eloise Hempel is at the start of a promising career as a history professor at Harvard.  Already a published author, her star is rising and can only go higher.  The plane crash that kills her sister and brother-in-law diminishes her star and lands her right back in Cincinnati with a house she doesn't want and three kids.

Fast forward 17 years and the kids are adults, but they still live at home and Eloise is still responsible for them.  The eldest, Theo, followed in Eloise's footsteps and majored in history.  While Eloise realizes that Theo needs to leave Cincinnati in order to pursue a career in academia, Theo loves everything about Cincinnati and the house that Eloise is so desperate to unload.  Josh ventured out into the real world once, got his feelings hurt and came back home to his sisters and Eloise.  And young Claire is about to enter into adulthood and a chance to study ballet in New York.  None of them, including Eloise, is really ready to leave the nest.

My biggest takeaway is that everyone can stand to do some growing and growing up.  Even at 45, Eloise was not as mature as she needed to be.  At the same time, I sympathized with her need to have a life of her own after living for the kids, three kids she didn't ask for, for the last 17 years.  Often kids don't see their parents as real people, so it never really occurred to the kids that perhaps she was tired of mothering them.  Though it was interesting to watch her come full circle and realize that she was at the exact point her mother had been at years earlier.

Overall, Stewart does a good job with character development.  I have to say overall because I was a little disappointed with her treatment of Claire.  Eloise, Theo and Josh are all given story lines told from their perspective, so there was a better connection to them and it was easier to understand their thought process and where they were coming from.  Claire, on the other hand, was almost irrelevant until halfway through the book and even then, her story was told from the points of view of the others.

Published: January 2013
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.

Theme: Brothers and Sisters by Coldplay

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

#BookReview: Zenzele: A Letter for my Daughter - J. Nozipo Maraire #BP2W (Zimbabwe)

"When independence came, we celebrated with tears in our eyes.  We would continue the struggle to ensure that our children received every opportunity of Western privilege...There was nothing that our children asked for that we denied them.  We who had grown up knowing only deprivation, austerity and hard labor.  We wanted only the best for them.  We even sent them to the best private schools with plenty of whites... But it was all in vain.  They have neither respect nor gratitude....these modern children are culturally bleached."
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Books: Passports to the World 2013 Challenge #BP2W

It's finally here!  I came up with the idea for this challenge last September and I've been patiently waiting for 2013 to roll around.  Unsure of what the Books: Passports to the World challenge is? If you've always wanted to travel, but it's just not in the budget, this challenge is for you. The goal of the challenge is to read a  book a week set in a different country.
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