I sort of have this thing against reviewing memoirs. I don't know why, but it seems sort of futile. But just for kicks and giggles, I'll give it a go....moreI sort of have this thing against reviewing memoirs. I don't know why, but it seems sort of futile. But just for kicks and giggles, I'll give it a go.
I loved reading My Horizontal Life. Chelsea Handler is hysterical in that extreme, wheels-off, no-holds-barred sort of way. She's very real and it's easy to picture some of her stories actually occurring, even if they wouldn't necessarily occur to anyone you know. (Or maybe they would. I'm not here to judge.)
Even though it's a collection of essays, there is still a line drawn through the book that ties all the stories together. You get information at the beginning, then you understand other stories later because of it. Fabulous.
I read "Are You There Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea" last year (or maybe the year before), and I have to say I enjoyed this book better. There were many times that I was literally laughing out loud, because she is SO FUNNY. My favorite scene involves our heroine, Ms. Chelsea, attempting to crawl through a tiny window while wearing a green m&m costume - green tights and all. In fact, I liked that so much that I kinda really want to do that sometime. I might have to rock the m&m costume for Halloween this year.
Anyway, I loved this book. If you can suspend your judgment (and perhaps some of your disbelief), then you should definitely read this book for a good laugh. It was funny enough that I just might have to hang on to my copy for potential re-reading later.
This was an ok book. Not my favorite of the Kathy Reichs novels, but I still enjoyed reading it. The story involves several outlaw biker murders and i...moreThis was an ok book. Not my favorite of the Kathy Reichs novels, but I still enjoyed reading it. The story involves several outlaw biker murders and is less focused on the forensic anthropology as it is on Dr. Brennan's relationships with the various characters. A little more forensic science and a little less learning about bikers in North America would have been more enjoyable to read. (less)
As far as books go, I'm slightly biased toward Kathy Reichs, because I LOVE the TV show Bones and I'm kind of obsessed with forensic anthropology. At...moreAs far as books go, I'm slightly biased toward Kathy Reichs, because I LOVE the TV show Bones and I'm kind of obsessed with forensic anthropology. At least in theory. (I'd love to study it one day, but I'm not exactly what you call "outdoorsy." So the idea of digging up stuff is all well and good, but I don't fare well against creepy crawly things. Just ask the snake that chased me up onto a dresser in my nightmare last night. I killed him with a stiletto, but that is neither here nor there.)
Anyway, of all the Kathy Reichs books I've read, this might be my favorite so far. This is the 4th book published by Dr. Kathy Reichs, and after having read her first three books, I think this one definitely raised the bar. Though it is not necessary to read her books in order, I have found that with the progression, Reichs becomes stronger and stronger in her story telling.
This particular novel describes an investigation into a plane crash which leads into an investigation into a bizarre religious world that for decades went unnoticed in the rural areas of North Carolina. Dr. Brennan works tirelessly to identify the bodies of the crash victims when she discovers an unusual piece of evidence that gets her thrown off the investigation. Relentless in her pursuit of the truth, Dr. Brennan chases lead after lead to figure out what the evidence means and how to bring justice to the affected victims.
I enjoyed this book, because the path of her investigation was interesting to follow. The content of her investigations was not completely out of my realm of understanding (like the biker novel I read not too long ago), and her discoveries and interactions with other characters kept me engaged the entire time. I also appreciated that I didn't fear for Brennan's life in every chapter. Gripping scenes have their place in a book, but it is exhausting reading several of them right in a row. Fatal Voyage mostly avoided these and concentrated on the investigation, with the exception of one particular scene that helped bring the book to its close.
Over all, I very much enjoyed this book, and as usual, I can't wait to pick up the next one, Grave Secrets.
This was one of the tamer books I've read from Kathy Reichs. It takes the reader through her personal and professional struggles and has less of the a...moreThis was one of the tamer books I've read from Kathy Reichs. It takes the reader through her personal and professional struggles and has less of the adventures that seem so prominent in some of her other books. Honestly, this was a breath of fresh air. Even though the elements to the mystery she attempted to solve were a little bland, far fewer bad things happened to Dr. Brennan in this story, which made it a much faster read. Not quite as exciting of a mystery, but still an enjoyable read.(less)
**spoiler alert** Peony In Love describes the tales of "lovesickness" in a culture where arranged marriages are enforced, and marriage for love is unh...more**spoiler alert** Peony In Love describes the tales of "lovesickness" in a culture where arranged marriages are enforced, and marriage for love is unheard of. And when one such circumstance of an arranged marriage so fortunately allows one young girl to marry the man she loves, the story takes an ironic twist and prevents her from this perfect match.
The story of Peony In Love is not what I expected it to be, though as I read more of authors such as Amy Tan and Lisa See, I am finding that the fascination with ghosts, spirits, and the after world is common among Chinese lore. There were many elements of Peony's journey in the after world that I found inspiring. In life, she was youthful and stubborn, but in death she learned many lessons that would have behooved her in life. The wisdom she gains allows her to help other young women who are still living to pursue dreams and fulfill their lives in a more enlightened way.
In the story, Peony is very insightful in her poetic and literary analysis. She obsesses with an opera that is fabled to kill women with lovesickness and constantly analyzes the written elements and themes of the opera. Though the actual writings are only interspersed to tell the story, it is clear from See's writings that Peony In Love is a reflection of thoughtful analysis. Her book is a modern interpretation of the ancient Chinese story and beliefs regarding a woman's abilities to read and write. Peony in Love(less)
Open up the book of Genesis to chapter 34, verses 1-31 and you will find the story of how Dinah was raped by the prince Shechem and how her brothers a...moreOpen up the book of Genesis to chapter 34, verses 1-31 and you will find the story of how Dinah was raped by the prince Shechem and how her brothers avenged her rape by deceiving then killing all the men of the city. Open up The Red Tent and you’ll find the story of a woman swept off her feet by a young man whom she loved - the same basic story, but told by Dinah.
As a society, we try to remember (but sometimes forget) that there are two sides to every story. Sometimes we intentionally forget, and the second side of a story gets lost in the retelling. Anita Diamant gives voice to a woman from the Bible who had lost her voice in the retelling of her own story, without anyone noticing.
In this historical novel, we follow Dinah through her mother’s life into Dinah’s upbringing and are introduced to the traditions of women in this era. The women’s trials and triumphs are shared in their secret power to enrich the earth with their blood and bring life into the world through their bodies.
The magic and the traditions end when Dinah’s marriage to Shechem falls apart at the seams and her brothers feel the need to avenge her being defiled by the prince.
The Red Tent is a beautifully written work of fiction that gives Dinah the opportunity to tell her story in a woman’s voice – the woman’s voice that is irreparably missing from the Biblical telling. In Genesis, her voice is so far gone that one reads through the passages completely blind to the fact that Dinah is even a human.
While the book was a slow read for me, it was rich in the story re-telling of the sons of Jacob, Jacob’s wives, and the traditions carried on by his family.
Women are not given enough voice in the Bible. While we may never truly be privy to their telling of stories, it is refreshing and enlightening to see Diamant give another side of the story, which keeps Biblical facts straight enough to make the story a distinct possibility.
I understand the story has sparked quite a bit of controversy in those who take the Bible literally, and that this work of fiction has angered some who believe fictional works that re-interpret the stories of Bible are blasphemous. I say to them, open your mind and allow yourself to believe that this woman might have her own story to tell, one that is not reflected in the words of Genesis.
I would recommend this book to any woman, but particularly those who are open-minded enough to allow the words of Dinah to enrich their experience as readers. It truly is a lovely re-telling of the male-heavy Bible stories we might have read as children.
Post-Mortem is the first of Patricia Cornwell's thriller novels, which follow the cases of medical examiner Kay Scarpetta. In the style of the Kathy R...morePost-Mortem is the first of Patricia Cornwell's thriller novels, which follow the cases of medical examiner Kay Scarpetta. In the style of the Kathy Reichs novels, which as you may know are some of my favorites, Cornwell writes about forensic investigations into unusual killings.
This novel explores the serial murders of (surprise, surprise) young women who are tortured, raped, and killed in their own homes. Dr. Scarpetta, the Chief Medical Examiner, works with the police force to track down the elusive killer while simultaneously baby-sitting her brilliant, 10-year-old niece and defending her position as CME.
These forensic novels seem to have a consistent formula. A 40-something-year-old doctor works overtime to help identify bodies and killers. She is divorced and lives alone but has frequent visitors which usually include family members and close friends. (Said family and friends are typically put in grave danger, if not killed during the novel.) The doctor has a couple vices - smoking for Scarpetta, drinking for Brennan (who is actually a recovered alcoholic). Both deal with sexism in their professions and have a particular detective on the police force who vehemently despises her. And both have a detective buddy who comes to their rescue when, in the last 50 pages or so, they almost get murdered, inevitably by the killer who is trying to keep them from discovering his identity.
You'd think after reading the same "formula" with different integers plugged in, I would get sick of these novels. And maybe after a few more, I will. But I'm not sick of them yet. For whatever reason, I am fascinated by forensic science and could read about it pretty much until the cows come home.
As far as forensic novels go, this was both thrilling and interesting to read. Post-Mortem definitely kept me engaged, so much so that I read the novel in a day and a half. The book is a little dated. It was published in 1990, which you can definitely tell by the way technology is used in the book. Other then that, it was a very good read.
**spoiler alert** The Scent of Rain and Lightning gives readers a touch into the lives of the Linder family, a rancher family living in Rose, Kansas....more**spoiler alert** The Scent of Rain and Lightning gives readers a touch into the lives of the Linder family, a rancher family living in Rose, Kansas. At the age of 3, Jody Linder loses both of her parents in a mysterious incident during a torrential Midwestern thunderstorm one evening. Her father was shot to death and her mother was never found, and Jody spent her life wondering why a man by the name Billy Crosby killed her dad and why her mother was never seen again.
My biggest criticism of this book is that there are quite a few holes where I thought the author could have expanded upon the story. For example, the pseudo-bond that forms between Collin and Jody as they grow up is pretty flimsy, story-wise, even though the author tells us that it’s a constant throughout their lives. I would have liked for the author to show us more of what took place between these two or in each of their minds individually as they grew up in this small town where both of their lives were mish-mashed together because of the horrific event.
I also thought that Red’s story came to an abrupt conclusion. The telling of the story surrounding is “disappearance” was weak. This character had so much potential with regards to his encounters with Billy Crosby, but we as the readers are not privy to much of it. Jody casts him off and that’s pretty much the end of our visibility into his character.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. The novel was easy to read and fairly entertaining. While I maintain that it has SO much unexplored potential, it was a lovely little story that delves into small-town life and what happens when it’s shaken up by murder. The Scent of Rain and Lightning(less)
What possessed me to read a book about living at the Playboy Mansion and being one of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends? To be honest, I'm not sure where it c...moreWhat possessed me to read a book about living at the Playboy Mansion and being one of Hugh Hefner's girlfriends? To be honest, I'm not sure where it came from, but I used to have this guilty pleasure of watching the TV show The Girls Next Door on E!. My boyfriend, Blaine, thought it was the weirdest thing, because given my values, he didn't expect me to like anything that had to do with the Playboy Enterprise. But the reason I liked the show so much is because it always looked like the Girlfriends were having tons of fun getting all dressed up to go to parties or going on exotic trips. (And they keep most of the nudity off the show. I don't actually watch the show anymore because Hef's new girlfriends are far less interesting than Holly, Bridget, and Kendra were. But I digress.)
So now that my former guilty pleasure is no longer a secret, here are my thoughts on Bunny Tales. Apparently life in the Playboy mansion isn't all fun and games like they make it seem on TV. It was fascinating to learn about all the rules and nuances of living with Hef. For example, the Girlfriends had a 9p.m. curfew, so they couldn't go out at night unless they were going on official Playboy appearances at local clubs and bars.
The narrator of the story, Izabella St. James, immigrated from Poland to Canada then went to law school in California. She comes from a Catholic family, and while she didn't have what we might consider a "normal" upbringing (since she immigrated from Poland and had to learn to speak 3 new languages during her adolescence), she didn't have a particularly broken upbringing either. She ran into Hef and his girlfriends at a bar one night when she was taking a break from studying. After that, she was invited (read: recruited) to several Playboy mansion parties and ultimately asked to move into the mansion.
Izabella lived at the Playboy mansion right before The Girls Next Door was started on TV, and had a much different perspective than what is shown to the public. As anyone might guess, living in a house with a bunch of women sharing a boyfriend creates a lot of drama and a lot of cat fights. (Er... bunny fights?) Not all of the girls got along with each other, and partying every day can be exhausting.
Of course, this tell-all book also describes sex at the mansion, which apparently is not as wild and crazy as it once might have been.
I won't divulge too much more. If you've ever been curious about the life of a Playboy Girlfriend, this is definitely an interesting read. As is the case with everything, there are probably two sides to the story, so keep in mind that this is only one person's experience and one person's opinion about living in the mansion. But learning about all the "perks" of living at the mansion was definitely fascinating.
The Insider tells the story of a young lawyer in a prestigious law firm who gets swept up in a murder investigation, after the death of one of his col...moreThe Insider tells the story of a young lawyer in a prestigious law firm who gets swept up in a murder investigation, after the death of one of his colleagues, and a Russian mob scandal that threatens is livelihood... and his life. Will Connelly, a young corporate attorney, has just made partner and is asked to take over his late colleague's main case. But as he presses forward to finalize the details of the negotiation, he gets deeper and deeper into a scandal involving the Russian mafiya, terrorists, and security leaks.
Overall, this was a fast read and was pretty engaging. I think Hirsch's book is a great jumping off point for what could be a really cool series, whether it's with Will Connelly or other similar characters. I think it could have been a little more exciting and there could have been a little more "meat" to it, but in general this was a fun read and I'm so pleased to have won it via the First Reads program!
**spoiler alert** So, after many weekends (well, maybe only three) spent devoted to reading this book, I have finally finished reading Anthropology of...more**spoiler alert** So, after many weekends (well, maybe only three) spent devoted to reading this book, I have finally finished reading Anthropology of an American Girl. And I am exhausted. Not in that exhilarating, that-book-was-awesome kind of way, but more of a this-book-was-600-pages-long kind of way and everything that comes along with that. (Books that big are heavy - take note when trying to tote it around with you.)
Anthropology of an American Girl follows an American girl (surprise!) living in the Hamptons as she makes her journey through high school, through college, and a little bit into her career afterward. In a nutshell: she lives a somewhat abnormal life for a teenage girl, which involves very little adult supervision from her mother or father (who are divorced). In high school, she primarily hangs out with a troublemaker boyfriend (who is more misunderstood than actually troublesome), and during her senior year she falls in love with another man who is several years older than she and spends one glorious summer before college living with said man. They break up, she is devastated... and she stays devastated all through college and afterward until the end of the book when she has a sort of "epiphany."
Overall, I'd say this was a good idea in theory but didn't quite make it in practice. Mainly, the book is way too long for such a simple story. The main character, Eveline, is constantly telling us how profoundly meaningless her existence is without the love of her life and how she sort of just floats along through life, and she tells us this in a LOT of words. It is awfully hard to sympathize with someone when you can't even see through all the words into the real story. But apparently breaking up with this guy made her a soulless creature who saw the world through "dead" eyes. If I were one of her friends, I would have recommended some serious therapy if she was really as lifeless and dull as she said she was. But alas, none of her friends come to her aid, and so she continues to tell the reader how profound are her dull moments of inner reflection.
In the end, Evie has her epiphany and manages to snap herself out of the lifeless being she was for so many years. But I don't quite buy that her epiphany was profound enough to merit such a verbose build-up, nor do I believe that she is truly happy again after so much negativity. I won't spoil the ending for you (in case you do decide to read it), but there is not a whole lot here that any (somewhat) normal high school or college girl hasn't experienced in some form or fashion. And yet the author felt the need to use an exorbitant amount of words to describe it.
Reading some of the other reviews of this book, I get the feeling that there are a lot of mixed reviews and emotions for this one. I see some people who were confused by the writing, some who found it philosophical and beautiful, and some who struggled with the negativity "fog." All of these things hit the nail on the head - Hamann indeed writes some very beautiful, descriptive things in her book. I even bookmarked some of them in case they would be useful to me in the future. However, I don't think everything in the story required so much description, and I too experienced the "fog" that made it difficult to follow the story sometimes. The author said a lot without actually saying anything for much of the book. There were many details I missed because I was unable to experience the story the way I would have liked, along with the character, instead of trapped inside her depressed psyche.
I am grateful to the author for having the opportunity to read the pre-release version of this story. I am sad that I didn't enjoy it as much as I would have hoped or as I'm sure the author intended.