Andie Mitchell is apparently a well known food and health blogger but I had never heard of her until this book caught my eye. I’m very glad something Andie Mitchell is apparently a well known food and health blogger but I had never heard of her until this book caught my eye. I’m very glad something made me pick it up because I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Andie’s childhood was difficult; her father was an alcoholic and it fell to her mother to support the family, which also included Andie’s older brother. With her dad often disappearing for months at a time, her mother working four jobs and her older brother largely ignoring her she found her solace in food. Food was her constant and always dependable companion. When her father dies it becomes her lifeline. Despite being quite heavy and frequently teased she also had a solid group of friends, and although she longed to be more like them she could not break her addiction to food. Then at the age of twenty she stepped on a scale and found she was almost three hundred pounds. Something had to change.
Although this book could be classified as a weight loss memoir it was more than that. It was a coming of age story, a tale of perseverance, a love story, a memoir of friendship and learning to be comfortable in one’s skin. It’s honest and funny and sometimes heartbreaking. I know I related to a lot of it, from her childhood which was remarkably similar to my own and I think most women can relate to her love hate relationship with food. By the end of the book Andie is not eating mindlessly, she is minding everything she eats and savoring every single bite.
Beside losing weight the book is also about finding one’s self and being true to who you are even if it means sometimes hurting other people. I feel that women often tend to go out of their way to spare other people’s feelings at a cost to themselves and that is also touched upon in the book.
Overall a funny, touching and moving memoir.
After reading the book I did go to Andie’s blog - canyoustayfordinner.com - it is a great site and I will be checking in more often....more
I’ve been reading a lot of darker books lately so this was a nice change of pace, although there are some serious undertones since what will be knownI’ve been reading a lot of darker books lately so this was a nice change of pace, although there are some serious undertones since what will be known as WWII is approaching it is also an interesting behind the scenes look at the making of Gone With the Wind. Honestly though you have to suspend your belief just a little because some of it seems improbable. But I still enjoyed it.
Julie Crawford has just arrived in Hollywood California hoping to break into screenwriting. It’s late 1938 and she’s been working in the mimeograph office copying press releases. As luck would have it she has to get out to the set of Gone With the Wind, on it’s first day of filming, to deliver a message to David O. Selznick. Her luck goes a little further when she meets Vivien Leigh who just happens to be there for her first meeting with Selznick. From there the coincidences grow until she eventually becomes the personal assistant to Carole Lombard, unrecognized love interest of Clark Gable - aka Rhett Butler, they cannot publicly acknowledge their relationship because of the strict morality codes in place and Gable is still very married.
So you see what I mean about suspending belief. But it was still enjoyable if improbable and all the background information on the making of the movie was really fascinating. For me the star of this book was Carole Lombard, one of my mother’s favorite actresses. She was so real and down to earth I just wanted to hang out with her. And the author really shows another side of Clark Gable who was never really comfortable with stardom.
Julie’s story is not quite as interesting but does bring to light the struggles of women trying to break into the male-oriented Hollywood echelon.
There is also a story about Julie’s love interest, Andy, who happens to be Selznick’s right hand man. He’s also Jewish and deeply concerned about the news coming out of Europe regarding the Nazi persecution of the Jewish people.
It sounds a little deeper than it actually was, it was a nice break from some some of the heavier books I have been reading lately. ...more
The Narrow Road to the Deep North tells the story of Dorrigo Evans, a surgeon and senior officer in the Australian Army during World War Two. A prison The Narrow Road to the Deep North tells the story of Dorrigo Evans, a surgeon and senior officer in the Australian Army during World War Two. A prisoner of the Japanese, Dorrigo and his men are slave labor and forced to work on building the Thai-Burma Railway, a project that took the lives of over 12,000 prisoners.
This book is broken up into three main storylines; life before the war, during the war and after the war. The story of the building of the railway is by far the most interesting and in my opinion the most well written part of the book. It’s also often painfully difficult to read because of all the atrocities suffered by the prisoners. You become attached to several of the characters and are devastated at their suffering and often horrific deaths. But there is a vibrancy to this portion of the book that is sorely lacking in the other two parts. The life before the war contains the love story of Dorrigo and Amy, who carry on an affair despite the fact Dorrigo is engaged and Amy is married. This whole storyline didn’t seem realistic to me, it didn’t read like a love affair it read more like an obsession and I never found it believable. It was one of the more boring love stories I have read and I really didn’t get it. The final third covers the years after the war. Most of this was also not interesting. Doriggo marries but is a terrible and uncaring husband, always looking for another Amy. He’s not much of a father either. Although he becomes somewhat famous for his war service he never finds any pleasure or joy in his life. In this section we also learn the stories of a number of the Japanese officers and soldiers that were in charge at the POW camp with Dorrigo and his men and find out what happened to them after being on the losing side in the war. There was only one story there that I found poignant, the rest actually made me a little angry. But once again the writing here seemed to lack any passion; the story is wrapped up but it was a little ho-hum.
I went back and forth on my rating, vacillating between four and five stars; despite what I thought was a brilliant middle story, the somewhat bland front and end parts brought down the overall feel of the book so I lowered the rating.
I think this is a book worth reading, even if it is difficult at times, but you have to be willing to power through the first and last parts but it is worth it in the end. ...more
I was supposed to read The Bell Jar in college, but I never did. The book has languished on my TBR pile for some 35 years or so. Seriously. So I finalI was supposed to read The Bell Jar in college, but I never did. The book has languished on my TBR pile for some 35 years or so. Seriously. So I finally got around to reading it and I loved it. It was sad, it was depressing but it was often funny and acerbic and fascinating.
The book is an fictional account of Sylvia Plath’s real breakdown while a student working as a junior editor at a NYC magazine.
This book is so much more than the story of a breakdown leading to a suicide attempt and the following commitment to a mental hospital. It explores a lot of the pressures young woman faced in the early ’50’s where the point of women going to college was to find a husband. What is the point of educating a woman just to tell her when she’s barely in her twenties she has to give it up and have a family? Ester Greenwood is the counterpart to Plath and she is struggling not to be forced into that confining box, but she doesn’t really know how to change her life. It’s a book about coming of age, burgeoning sexuality, fitting in and more. This is in a time before Prozac, Valium and the many other anti-depressants available now and incarceration in a hospital and shock treatments were the order of the day. It’s definitely a book to read to understand exactly what the feminist movement in the ’60’s was about. In reading this book I found myself wondering how different Plath’s life would have been had she been born 10 or 15 years later. Brilliant writing and a book I think I will reread in the not too distant future.
I also liked this book for some more personal reasons, as my mother suffered from depression for many years and I have a sister who is bi-polar. I see a lot of their struggles with a different attitude and for that I am grateful. ...more
It’s 1939 and the threat of a Nazi invasion is looming large over the citizens of France. In a small village Vianne lives with her husband Antoine andIt’s 1939 and the threat of a Nazi invasion is looming large over the citizens of France. In a small village Vianne lives with her husband Antoine and their young daughter. Even when her husband is sent to the front she believes that she is safe and the war won’t come to their small part of the country. Vianne’s younger sister Isabelle believes her sister is short-sighted and that all French citizens must resist the Nazi’s in any way they can. As the war drags on each sister must face challenges they never imagined. Each responds in different ways, sometimes with devastating results.
I read most of this book in one day, staying up until 4AM to finish, it was that good. We all know the saying “War is Hell”; usually referring to the actual battles. This book tells the story of the women left behind, struggling to survive. This quote, spoken by Vianne sums up the war of those ordinary people:
“For us it was a shadow war. There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books, We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over.”
There is also a mystery that isn’t solved until the very end. The book is narrated by one of the sisters, years after the war ended. We do not know until the very end who the narrator is or if both sisters survive the war. If you like well constructed historical fiction with a great storyline, The Nightingale is well worth your time.
I’m a big fan of Kristin Hannah, I love the way she writes about relationships between women, whether mother/daughter, sisters or friends she always seems to have a knack for exploring the ins and outs of these often complicated relationships. I think this may be the best book she has written to date. ...more
Addie Baum is eighty five years old. When her granddaughter asks her what made her the woman she is Addie relates the events of her life, and it’s a rAddie Baum is eighty five years old. When her granddaughter asks her what made her the woman she is Addie relates the events of her life, and it’s a remarkable story.
Born in 1900, she is the child of immigrant parents and the first of their children to be born in America. Her parents are Jewish and they keep kosher and only speak Yiddish. Her mother especially makes no effort to adapt to America and longs only for her home. Her father is also making no attempt to adjust, and they expect their three daughters to live a very restricted life. But this is America at the start of a new century and big changes are coming.
I really enjoyed this book and Addie and her family’s story. There are many events that take place during this time; Two World Wars, the flu epidemic, women’s rights, child labor, orphan trains and much more. Some of the events that Addie relives are terribly sad and others are filled with much happiness - just like most of our lives. Addie is a good narrator and her asides to her granddaughter are often very amusing. I wish I knew more about my grandmother’s early life but she never talked about it and now it’s too late.
The writing was very accessible and for the most part I really enjoyed the book. I like multi-generational stories and this one was well done. If I have any complaint it’s that the last third of Addie’s life is told in a bit of a rush with out much detail and I was disappointed with that, I would have liked more of the events of her life as she created a family of her own. But that’s a small complaint. This was a nice, easy read with a fascinating story and was a nice break from some of the darker books I’ve been reading. ...more
The irrepressible Flavia de Luce is on a ship. She has been ’banished’ to Canada after the events in the last book. She is to attend Miss Bodycote’s bThe irrepressible Flavia de Luce is on a ship. She has been ’banished’ to Canada after the events in the last book. She is to attend Miss Bodycote’s boarding school, the same school her mother once attended. Of course Flavia is at the school just a few hours when a dead body falls in to her lap so to speak.
For me this is the weakest book in the series. None of the elements I loved in the past are present. No Dogger and Mrs. Mullet, no falling down Buckshaw Estate, no Gladys to ride through the Bishop’s Lacey countryside. I even missed the terrible sisters, Daffy and Feely. Now we have a new cast of supporting characters and I don’t care about any of them, they seemed bland and interchangeable. The mystery in this story was convoluted and I have no idea what it was about.
So why 4 stars? One reason and one reason only - Jayne Entwhistle’s wonderful narration. Had I read this book I don’t know that I would have finished it, but Entwhistle’s narration is so enjoyable it lifts this mediocre book up a notch. 3 stars for the book, 5 for the narration and split the difference. 4 stars.
Saving grace - Flavia is heading back to England. ...more
I love psychological thrillers, I love the pacing of these books and trying to guess where the story is going. The Girl on the Train was one of thoseI love psychological thrillers, I love the pacing of these books and trying to guess where the story is going. The Girl on the Train was one of those books - I just could not put it down until I knew what happened, so I read it all day and night until I was done.
Rachel travels the same train route to and from work every day. There is one spot on her route where the train frequently stops for a signal. Rachel watches one family day after day. She has names for them and has invented a fantasy life for “Jess and Jason”. Then one day Rachel sees something that changes her idea of Jess. The next day she see Jess’s picture in the paper - she’s a missing person. Slowly Rachel gets involved in the investigation into the disappearance of Megan (Jess).
First let’s just say that Rachel is the quintessential unreliable narrator. She has a serious drinking problem that involves frequent blackouts. She lies to everyone around her and she thinks she may have been at Megan’s house the night she disappeared. Add into this the fact that Rachel’s ex-husband, whom she still loves, lives two doors away from the missing Megan with his new wife Anna and their daughter. Because of her instability Rachel has a very caustic relationship with Anna, which comes into play when the police begin their investigation.
Told from the point of view of the three women, Rachel, Anna and Megan each one as unreliable as the other the tension just keeps ratcheting up. I had an inkling where the story was heading, but even then I found the ending shocking.
This book garners five stars from me mostly for the entertainment value, although I do think it was very well written. It isn’t great literature but it was a great thriller. ...more
The subtitle of this book is “The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeanette” and that perfectly sums up this book. A grand voyage that turned intoThe subtitle of this book is “The Grand and Terrible Voyage of the USS Jeanette” and that perfectly sums up this book. A grand voyage that turned into a terrible disaster. The strangest thing of all, for me, is that prior to this book I had never heard of this tragedy.
The 19th century is winding down and there are few unknown spots left in the world. Henry Stanley and David Livingstone have been exploring the Dark Continent of Africa. The last frontier is the Arctic and the search for the North Pole. James Gordon Bennett Jr. is the publisher of the New York Herald. He had backed Stanley’s search for Livingstone and his paper enjoyed huge popularity from the story. Looking for another way to boost circulation Bennett decides to back an exploration into the Arctic and with the backing of the U.S Navy the voyage begins in July of 1879. With little in the way of communication it will be almost three years before the world learns of the fate of the USS Jeanette.
This is a fascinating story of perseverance, courage, strength, missed chances and ultimately tragedy. The first portion of the book moved a little slow for me, but once the ship begins it’s journey it begins to move quickly. 33 men took off on a grand adventure and not all of them will return home.
What I most enjoyed about the book was the way the author brought these people to life. Letter writing is a lost art these days but the letters between Commander George DeLong and his wife were breathtaking in their ability to make you understand how much they loved one another and what a hardship it was on the families waiting to hear about their loved ones. There were numerous men I came to care about and worried about their fate. The hardship and depravation they endured is heartbreaking. There was more than one hero in this story, but all the men on this journey should be remembered not only for their courage but for the geographical and meteorological information they gathered that DeLong made sure to protect throughout their ordeal. He is rightly remembered as one of the Navy’s heroes of polar exploration.
Highly recommended if you like stories of scientific discovery coupled with incredible courage and determination. ...more
I struggled with this book, I really, really struggled with it. I have a love hate relationship with “Classics”. I sometimes find it hard to put myselI struggled with this book, I really, really struggled with it. I have a love hate relationship with “Classics”. I sometimes find it hard to put myself in that distant time frame and relate to the mores of the past.
The story is kind of simple, a young woman taken advantage of by a man, falls in love with another man who abandons her and is left to fend for herself in a series of very difficult circumstances.
My issues were the length of the book, far too long. The endless descriptions of green fields and milking cows and gathering straw drove me to distraction. The girls constant mooning over Angel Clare were tiring. Angel Clare himself was tiring, a sanctimonious prig who reveals a deep secret and then reviles his wife for the same thing. Alex d’Urberville was a snake with no redeeming qualities and has no problem manipulating Tess to do his bidding. Tess is her own worst enemy, too proud to ask for help from the very people who would have given it to her. She constantly excuses Angel’s terrible behavior, blaming herself over and over. And when Alex comes back into her life after the terrible things he has done to her, she lets him in. I just found her actions foolish to say the least. And then that ending! I just can’t deal with that ending. After all that suffering - for what? There isn’t even a moral to the story. I know it was to point out the contradictory behaviors of Victorian times but I just really just wanted to punch someone at the end. ...more
This was a tiny Kindle single, I suppose a little filler/teaser before the new book comes out later this month. It’s a little vignette where Flavia stThis was a tiny Kindle single, I suppose a little filler/teaser before the new book comes out later this month. It’s a little vignette where Flavia stumbles upon a copper corpse in a bathtub. It was cute, but ultimately unsatisfying since there really wasn’t much of a plot or storyline. Still I did enjoy visiting with Miss Flavia, if only for a half an hour. ...more
It’s been several years since the end of the Great War and England’s economy is still suffering from the changes wrought by the loss of so many of theIt’s been several years since the end of the Great War and England’s economy is still suffering from the changes wrought by the loss of so many of their young men to death and devastating wounds. Frances Wray and her mother are part of an upper class family, but with the death of the elder Mrs. Wray’s husband and two sons they have fallen on hard times. In an effort to make ends meet they have taken on lodgers, the paying guests of the title. Lillian and Len Barber are of the ‘clerk class’ but with the class distinctions starting to blur they are trying to move up as Francis and and Mrs. Wray struggle not to move downward. At first Frances thinks of her lodgers only in terms of money, but soon a friendship is formed between Frances and Lillian, a friendship that will have devastating consequences for all concerned.
There were many aspects of this book that I enjoyed, in particular the depiction of post war England. However I felt the first part of the book dragged on for too long before it gets to the moment around which the rest of the novel revolves around, a death that impacts everyone. From that point on the story begins to pick up the pace until the final denouement. I also had a very hard time with Frances, she was not a likable character and her constant second guessing herself all the time was tiresome. She was often so wishy washy I just wanted her to get a spine or make a decision, something, anything but moon about.
I did enjoy the exploration of how differently people react to a life changing event, and how they learn to live with their part in that event. The look at the newspaper coverage of certain events was also very interesting. However the end was a bit of a let down - a feeling of “Is that all there is?”, but in retrospect even though the ending isn’t particularly satisfying I can’t see how else it could have ended.
At 568 pages the book was too long and I think if it had been edited down by 200 pages it would have made for a much better read. That said I did like Ms. Water’s writing style, so will probably look up Fingersmith at some point in the future. ...more
I was looking for a Christmas read and this book looked promising. Unfortunately although I started it in December, I didn’t finish until January. WheI was looking for a Christmas read and this book looked promising. Unfortunately although I started it in December, I didn’t finish until January. When I read the description I didn’t know this was a series and it was actually the 12th book in the series, however that did not hinder my enjoyment of the book at all.
Jane Austen (yes that Jane Austen), along with her sister, mother and brother with his family have been invited to spend the 12 days of Christmas at the Vyne, the manor of family friends the Chute’s. While there a deadly accident occurs, which is found to be foul play. Jane plays a hand in solving the mystery.
The mystery was interesting enough; a ‘locked-door’ whodunit that was entertaining but the real charm of this book was the lovingly detailed descriptions of a true Edwardian Christmas that really did last Twelve Days. The author writes very descriptively and her style closely mimics a real Jane Austen novel. I also really liked the depiction of Jane’s very close and loving relationship with her sister Cassandra and her mother as well as her strained one with her brother and his hypochondriac wife. There are hints of Jane being attracted to another character but it eventually comes to naught.
I thought the idea of Jane Austen being Nancy Drew seemed off to me, but it worked very well and I may go back to the very start of this series. I would have rated this a little higher, but I think the book was a bit overlong and slow moving at times, but that is a minor complaint. A nice book to start off the New Year. ...more