A memoir about the hardships faced by a young couple during the Great Recession. Caitlin and Dan decide to move from Maine to LA for better job opport...moreA memoir about the hardships faced by a young couple during the Great Recession. Caitlin and Dan decide to move from Maine to LA for better job opportunities in their fields (he is a photographer & she is a playwright/writer). After some brief initial success, the bottom falls out and broke and with a new baby they move back to Maine and live with her mother.
I had difficulty relating to their struggles (even though I have had difficulty finding jobs). So many people have hard luck stories these days; Caitlin and Dan's wasn't memorably awful and didn't offer any new insight into being broke in a bad economy. The author's thesis was that she learned to make do with bare essentials and the love and support of her husband, family, and friends is helping her survive a difficult time (not exactly surprising info.) Shetterly's prose is efficient but never poetic or beautiful (something I think a narrative like this needed since so many of the events are mundane and not uncommon). At times when describing her marriage or child she seems smug (i.e. "A year later we were married in that same field [where her husband proposed]. Anyone who ever saw a photo or was there will tell you it was the most beautiful wedding, ever." (p. 29)[Followed by a long description of her awesome wedding.]
This wasn't a horrible book but I don't understand why some people seem to have connected so strongly with her story. Shetterly's narrow focus on herself/pets/son/husband made this an intensely personal story, not an experience that could be extrapolated into a statement on life in America today that it was marketed as. (less)
I had some difficulty getting through this audiobook and set it aside to try something else before returning to it. Since I usually don't read/enjoy b...moreI had some difficulty getting through this audiobook and set it aside to try something else before returning to it. Since I usually don't read/enjoy books about antiquity (with the exception of I, Claudius) there was that hurdle for me to overcome. Most of the sources about Cleopatra were written many years after she died and were written by her enemies (a point that Schiff explains in detail); therefore good, accurate information about her life is hard to come by. There are many things that are simply unknown (her feelings toward Marc Anthony and Cesar, for example)and historians can only suppose her motivations and feelings. I would have preferred to read a fictionalized account of her life that was able to bring her inner life into focus.
Schiff is an excellent stylist and I learned much that I previously did not about the Roman empire and Egypt under the Ptolmaic dynasty. This book would appeal to readers who enjoy history and biography.(less)
Secret Daughter is a fascinating memoir by journalist June Cross. Cross was raised by a black couple in Atlantic City, while visiting her white mother...moreSecret Daughter is a fascinating memoir by journalist June Cross. Cross was raised by a black couple in Atlantic City, while visiting her white mother on summers and holidays. She describes the confusion created by her bifurcated upbringing and the feelings of never quite belonging in white culture. Cross traces both her white mother and black father's background and their relationship which emerged out of the New York comedy scene of the 1950s (her father was comedian Jimmy Cross and her father later married comedian Larry Storch). This book explores issues of race, motherhood, and family in 20th Century America. I would recommend it for fans of memoirs. (less)
A memoir about growing up in northern Idaho with strict Pentecostal parents. I enjoyed the descriptions of nature, especially how the logging industry...moreA memoir about growing up in northern Idaho with strict Pentecostal parents. I enjoyed the descriptions of nature, especially how the logging industry was destroying the virgin land the Barnes and her family loved but I had difficulty caring about the author's adolescent journey from faith to rebellion and back again. At some times I was bored with the story.(less)
I really liked this dating memoir that focuses less on typical chick lit stories of dating and more on the author's personal growth. The premise of th...moreI really liked this dating memoir that focuses less on typical chick lit stories of dating and more on the author's personal growth. The premise of the book is that McGuiness decides to go on a date a week for one year in a proactive effort to find the guy for her. Each brief chapter describes a date. Some of the dates are second or third dates and some of the dates she spends with her family. A great deal of the narrative is spent looking back at past romantic relationships, her difficult relationship with her father (a long time felon), and her sober lifestyle after several years of drug addiction. McGuiness writes with perception and honesty. She maintains an optimistic outlook throughout the book that she will eventually find the man she is meant to be with. This book wasn't the funny dating story that the quotes on the back seemed to present it as; instead it was an insightful look at a woman learning from past mistakes, healing her emotional wounds, and "going on magical adventures throughout Los Angeles." (less)
A solid biography about country music legend Tammy Wynette. I knew little about Tammy Wynette before reading this and McDonough really gives readers a...moreA solid biography about country music legend Tammy Wynette. I knew little about Tammy Wynette before reading this and McDonough really gives readers a strong sense of her personality and psyche. Tammy's life had a soap opera quality to it--numerous husbands, a rags to riches story arch, and a drug addiction. Tammy's tragic end and the conflicting accounts of her death are well documented. Unfortunately, McDonough allows his personal opinions intrude too much into the book--interspersed throughout are letters he writes to Tammy about his feelings for her and at times his criticisms and evaluations of songs and people seemed based on his own feelings rather than a more objective perspective usually employed in biographies.
I listened to this on audio and enjoyed it but this type of book (a biography of a musician) would be perfect for a immersion e-book experience where the reader could look up songs and videos of performances as they are mentioned in the book. (less)
This memoir looks at pregnancy and motherhood from the perspective of a lesbian nonbiological parent whose partner is pregnant and gives birth. Miller...moreThis memoir looks at pregnancy and motherhood from the perspective of a lesbian nonbiological parent whose partner is pregnant and gives birth. Miller writes movingly at times about the decision to have a child, her own failed attempts to conceive, Jane's (her partner)pregnancy, and the first year of their daughter Hannah's life. Miller writes that lesbians like to process things and that is certainly true of this memoir. 230 pages are filled with Miller dissecting her emotions, motivations, and thoughts as well as those of Jane and after a while it becomes a bit too much. Miller documents how a very close lesbian relationship becomes distant and strained during Hannah's first year as the moms struggle with a demanding baby who doesn't sleep regularly while dealing with their own adjustments to motherhood. The couple is at various times depressed, stressed, anxious, haggard, unhappy, sick, and they loose any sexual desire for each other. For a non parent like myself it certainly didn't give me anything to look forward to.
The memoir stopped when Hannah was around 16 months (she is now 6) and I felt that the book would have benefited if fewer pages were spent documenting the first year and a half of the family's life so thoroughly and added sections as Hannah grew and developed and family life wasn't so new and disruptive. There is a short epilogue describing the family's life at the time of the writing.
I think this book would appeal more to parents who would find a lot to relate to in Miller's account; it didn't impress me that much but it wasn't a bad book.(less)
A good book for the general reader about Jane Austen and her importance in the literary Canon. The early sections about Jane Austen and her family and...moreA good book for the general reader about Jane Austen and her importance in the literary Canon. The early sections about Jane Austen and her family and initial reception to her works were the strongest and I felt the later sections of the book about Jane Austen in popular culture of the late 20th century/early 21st century could have been expanded. I would have liked more information about the spate of recent film adaptations of her novels. Recommended for fans of Austen who aren't familiar with her biography.(less)
I just was not in the mood to read the book at this time. The first section was interesting and since I don't know much about contemporary Christian p...moreI just was not in the mood to read the book at this time. The first section was interesting and since I don't know much about contemporary Christian practices in Middle Eastern countries, I enjoyed learning more. I was less interested in the author's personal religious experiences even though the writing was very beautiful. This might appeal to fans of religious memoirs. (less)
A fast and fun read about a girl raised by hippie parents in rural Colorado who dreams of marrying a prince, specifically Peter Phillips (the grandson...moreA fast and fun read about a girl raised by hippie parents in rural Colorado who dreams of marrying a prince, specifically Peter Phillips (the grandson of Queen Elizabeth II). After graduating from college, Jerramy moves to London and sets out to find the prince of her dreams while coping with crazy roommates and great guys who disappear after one night. Fine's writing is humorous and lively and her accounts of her adventures makes her seem like a long lost best friend. Reminiscent of chick lit novels, this optimistic book is perfect for Anglophiles and I've already recommended it to a few people.
My favorite lines: "Everyone, despite their circumstances, has the power to become the person they were meant to be, and the power to follow the dreams that dwell inside their heart. You just have to be brave and stay focused." & "And that's when it hit me: I will always be okay. Royal or otherwise, I didn't need a guy to complete me."(less)
Fascinating account of growing up in a deeply conservative Catholic family in the 1970s. Veronica Chater does a wonderful job of describing the though...moreFascinating account of growing up in a deeply conservative Catholic family in the 1970s. Veronica Chater does a wonderful job of describing the thoughts and emotions of her ten year old self, when she accepted nearly everything her father did and said. This is an insightful story of the author's early spiritual journey and the effects of a strict religious upbringing in a secularized society. I felt while the characterizations of Veronica, her sister Terry, and her parents were well done, it was difficult to distinguish the personalities of her younger siblings. The ending also felt slightly compressed--I felt like the author had more of a story to tell than was included in the brief epilogue. (less)
This was a very quick read about the struggles of being single and Mormon in Manhattan. While parts of the book were funny (I especially like "Babies...moreThis was a very quick read about the struggles of being single and Mormon in Manhattan. While parts of the book were funny (I especially like "Babies Buying Babies" about her experience demonstrating expensive dolls at FAO Schwarz)overall I found the book somewhat meandering. Baker discusses her Mormon faith, the difficulties of finding a boyfriend in New York, her weight loss, and various jobs she has in New York but none of them in great depth. I didn't know much about Mormonism before reading this book and I liked the exploration of how she balances practicing her religion with living in a secular society that doesn't understand her faith. However at some points she seems whiny and self-involved (her continual quest for a boyfriend/soul mate and her strict diet) rather than the humorously self deprecating tone I think she was aiming for. While I can't highly recommend this book it would appeal to readers who like chick lit novels or humorous memoirs. (less)