I really liked Taking Flight! It's such an inspiring story, and to go from being an orphan to a ballerina and and she had to overcome so much to do thI really liked Taking Flight! It's such an inspiring story, and to go from being an orphan to a ballerina and and she had to overcome so much to do that. She's accomplished so much, and at such a young age, and there is a part of me that feels like I've accomplished nothing in my life.
But I liked seeing her chronicle how hard it is to not just be a professional ballerina (which is something that just fascinates me, especially as a very uncoordinated person), but also as a minority. She doesn't feel sorry for herself, and she keeps going because it's what she wants to do, and she's very determined to not only have her dreams come true but to be a role model for future ballerinas.
Her parents and brothers are truly amazing- her parents for adopting her, and two other girls from her orphanage, and her brothers (especially Teddy) for making her feel welcome and like she was part of the family. They are very supportive, amazing people, and it's clear that they love each other.
We also get a lot about her childhood, which is awesome, and I wish we got a lot more about the dancing. It did seem a little like a resume, but I'm very much interested in seeing First Position, the documentary that DePrince is a part of. It's been on my netflix queue for a while, but having read this book, it's definitely going up on the list of things to watch. And I enjoyed it so much that I really wanted it to be longer, especially since there were a few points where I felt like there could have been more detail. I know it takes a lot of time to write a book, especially a memoir, and it's such an inspiring story that I'm sad there isn't more to the book.
My Rating: 4 stars. I really liked Taking Flight, and DePrince is such an inspiration. ...more
I'm definitely fascinated with World War 2, especially with Nazi Germany, so when I was intrigued by this biography of Goebbels when I saw it on netgaI'm definitely fascinated with World War 2, especially with Nazi Germany, so when I was intrigued by this biography of Goebbels when I saw it on netgalley. I know the name and that he was charge of propaganda, but other than that, I didn't know anything, so I definitely wanted to learn more about him.
This biography is definitely daunting and very, very detailed- it's an astounding 900+ pages, and it was definitely a marathon of a book. Nothing really jumped out at me as particularly interesting, other than Goebbels studied philosophy and that he was loyal to Hitler, to the point of murdering his children before taking his own life. I feel like, at the end of the book, I knew as much about him as I did before I started the book.
It's definitely dense (and on the dry side) and I had to fight the urge to skim the book (which I maybe did at certain points throughout the book). I don't know that it's the best book for someone who doesn't know much about Goebbels, and since it leans more to the scholarly end of things, it might be better suited for people who are really into World World 2 and Nazi Germany (especially those close to Hitler).
This biography really goes into depth about Goebbels and why he did the things he did, and what made him tick. It's also a really good look at some of what was going on during that time, because of his journals. It's also why it's a slow read, because it's very meticulous.
Let's Rate It: This biography is definitely not a book for everyone, but still worth checking out for historians and students or for anyone studying the Holocaust or the Nazi's (or World War 2). Goebbels: A Biography gets 2 stars....more
I've been meaning to read The Princes Of The Tower for quite a while, so it's about time I actually read it! I liked it but not as much as I thought II've been meaning to read The Princes Of The Tower for quite a while, so it's about time I actually read it! I liked it but not as much as I thought I would.
As much as I love Weir, it's a book you need to go into with some knowledge of the time period and the people. I've read several books about the Tudors, but I know very little of the events that led to the Tudors taking the throne, so for a few chapters, I felt really confused by all of the names and events.
It definitely felt like Weir set out to prove that Richard III was the one behind the mysterious murders of the two Princes, and it did feel like Weir didn't go into this as objectively as one would think. She does make some good points, and Richard III does seem like the likeliest suspect, but I don't know that he's as evil as Weir would make him out to be.
Still, it's a really good overview of the time, and the events that led to the reign of Henry VII. There is quite a bit of information, and I like that Weir mentions sources from that time period. I did get the sense that there's not a lot we know, and that some of the sources may be sketchy. Still, with some of the things that have come out over the last few years, with the discovery of Richard III's grave, I'd be curious to see a more updated book.
Let's Rate It: The Princes In The Tower was an interesting read, and it's a good overview of the time. It did seem slightly biased against Richard III and it's not the best for people who aren't super familiar with the time period. It still has some interesting things to think about. The Princes In The Tower get 3 stars....more
When I saw this biography on netgalley, I was intrigued because I know the name, but not the person behind the name. Unfortunately, I didn't like MadeWhen I saw this biography on netgalley, I was intrigued because I know the name, but not the person behind the name. Unfortunately, I didn't like Mademoiselle as much as I thought.
It was very interesting to how she got into fashion, and what her early life was like. It did get very repetitive at times- it was tiring to read that Chanel wanted to re-write her own life over and over and over. Mademoiselle was very detailed and had a lot of information- too much information for me. There were times when I skimmed the book (mostly at the end of the book), just because I couldn't take in any more details. For me, there was so much detail that nothing really stood out to me. Sometimes it felt like names and events were thrown at me. And it felt much more like we got all of the different people and events that had an influence on Chanel personally and professionally, and not a lot about Chanel. I know that they all had a big impact on her life, but I wish I walked away with a better sense of Chanel.
I did like that there were photos and quotes from Chanel herself scattered throughout the book. It made Chanel much more real to see her own words throughout the book. It also seemed like a very objective look at Chanel's life, but as a result, it seemed a little dry, and I would have liked the little something extra that seemed missing. I do think anyone who's curious about Chanel and anyone who's into fashion will like this book.
Let's Rate It: Mademoiselle got a little too detailed and was a little too repetitive at times, which made it okay for me. It's still an interesting look at the person who started this huge and iconic company. Mademoiselle gets 2 stars.
*I received Mademoiselle from netgalley.com in exchange for a fair and honest review...more
After reading A Thousand Lives a couple of years ago (also written by Scheeres), Jesus Land was on my radar, but it wasn't until recently that I decidAfter reading A Thousand Lives a couple of years ago (also written by Scheeres), Jesus Land was on my radar, but it wasn't until recently that I decided to listen to it. It's definitely one of the more interesting books I've read in a while.
I really felt for Scheeres, who really had some horrible parents. Her dad was largely absent, due to being a doctor, but violent when he is around. And her mother is much more interested in religion than raising children. Their home seemed more like a compound (largely due to the intercoms installed in the house) rather than a home, and her parents seem like the sort of people who would adopt 2 African-American boys to show how Christian they are, rather than because they really want to. As for their biological children? We only see Julia (and not her other siblings) but their idea of parenting is to provide the basic necessities and no affection or caring. They're pretty distant and detached and unfeeling. Still, I do sort of admire them for adopting when it would have been easy not to. And while not really presented in the book, they may have started out with the best of intentions before things went terribly wrong.
The fact that they would get rid of David's things days after he goes to reform school at the age of 16, and some of the comments they made after his early, tragic death at the age of 20 were just horrible. You do have to wonder if their relationships with Julia's older siblings were different, because they seemed pretty indifferent to Julia, David and Jerome. It made me so sad, and so angry on their behalf. I do have trouble believing that rural Indiana in the 70's/80's is as bad as seen in the book, and there is a part of me that wonders if maybe parts of it were embellished. There were so many times when it seemed like the book was set much earlier, and it was always jarring to hear the author reference Duran Duran or Reagan, because it seemed like the book happened several decades earlier than it did.
And the school they had to go to! I can't believe a school like that exists, and yet I'm not surprised that such a school would exist. The things that they had to do- asking permission for everything, including sitting up or down or leaving or entering a room, or using a machete to whack weeds or carrying rocks back and forth for no reason. The reasons why the kids ended up at the school in the first place seemed to be very over-exaggerated and twisted. Julia drinking at a party? It means she's an alcoholic. Julia's brother Jerome ending up in jail? Julia and David will be kept at the school for as long as necessary, even if they're legally adults, just to make sure that they don't end up going down the same path.
Here's where one of my reservations about the book comes in. I mean, Julia does make quite a few mistakes but doesn't seem to show any responsibility for her actions. Granted, the book ends when she leaves Escuela Caribe, plus an epilogue that gives a brief overview of her life and David's after leaving the school. Even in the epilogue, she doesn't reflect on why she ended up in so much trouble. It doesn't make everything else that happened okay, but I do wish we saw even a hint of owning up to her mistakes.
Another thing that I thought was interesting was how one-sided her account seemed. Every adult was horrible and cruel and stupid, and I'm really skeptical of that.
As much as I appreciate her experience, and how horrible some of these reform schools are, and the racism she had to deal with just because of her adopted brothers, and how horrible it is to use religion (particularly Christianity) to abuse kids, there's also something this memoir that didn't quite sit right with me. It wasn't as reflective as I thought, and while I know it's Scheeres memoir, something about it seemed very one-sided to me.
Let's Rate It: Parts of Jesus Land made me so angry and so sad. While parts of it were interesting (especially when she was at Escuela Caribe), overall, something about it seemed off to me. Jesus Land gets 3 stars....more
Maya Angelou really is quite the woman! After hearing that she passed away, I knew I had to read her autobiographies. I read I Know Why The Caged BirdMaya Angelou really is quite the woman! After hearing that she passed away, I knew I had to read her autobiographies. I read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings years ago, but it never occurred to me to pick up her other ones. I really am sad that I didn't read them earlier.
I'm actually glad I went with her collected autobiographies, because she did so much, and I felt like her life story flowed a lot better being able to read all of her autobiographies as a collective whole.
I loved seeing her life up to when she started writing I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, and she had such an eventful life! It did get a little tedious at times, especially with All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes and A Song Flung Up To Heaven. All together, it was a definitely a marathon, and I think by the time I got to her last two books, I kind of wanted to be done with her autobiographies. They were interesting, and I don't want to take away from that at all, but I also wish I had taken a little more time with them.
It's so easy to see how she became the person that she was- she is definitely a survivor, and always landed on her own two feet, no matter what happened to her. I was quite surprised by some of things I read- like running a brothel, and traveling all over the world (and even making an effort to learn the language of every country she visited) and working for both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr...she is truly an inspiration, and I feel like we're so lucky that she shared her story with us.
She really does have a way with words, and there were times when I forgot I was reading an autobiography. There's something very poetic about the way she writes, and she has a way of feeling like she's telling you a story.
Let's Rate It: I feel so honored to have read Maya Angelou's story. I feel like I understand her world so much better after reading her autobiographies, and I really regret taking so long to read them! Reading them as one collective work was daunting, especially with her last couple autobiographies, but I also liked seeing her life as a whole, instead of in shorter stories. Her Collected Autobiographies get 4 stars....more
When I saw Empty Mansions on netgalley, I knew I had to request it! While it sounded interested, it was far more interesting than I ever could have imWhen I saw Empty Mansions on netgalley, I knew I had to request it! While it sounded interested, it was far more interesting than I ever could have imagined.
Huguette was such an interesting and eccentric woman, and she really came to life in Empty Mansions. The book does jump around in terms of time and place, but I didn't mind it, because it gave a really good picture of who Huguette was as a person, and why maintaining mansions that she never visited or hadn't visited in decades was something she did.
Her love of painting and her interest in art was one of the most interesting things about her. And the fact that her relatives hadn't seen her since the 1950's and 1960's was also super-interesting. I can't imagine only communicating with someone by mail or over the phone...and not knowing that she was living in a hospital room for something like 20 years or that she had cancer.
Like, she just randomly gave away millions of dollars. She was very giving- if someone mentioned a child or grandchild going to grad school or needing work done at home, she'd write a check with no hesitation. She lived a very long life, and given she lived to be over a hundred, she seemed to be in pretty good health and pretty alert. And she didn't write out a will until really late in life. I found myself really irritated with the hospital she lived at, because part of the book talks about their plan for donations from Huguette. I understand wanting/needing donations, and targeting a very wealthy patient. Some of the doctors and at least one of her nurses accepted monetary gifts from Huguette and it seems like they did what they could to hide Huguette from inspectors, which kind of makes them suspect. And I'm not sure if it's coincidence or what, but her room got moved when they learned they weren't getting a large sum from her in her will.
Also: her family challenging her will. I get their concern (especially in regards to her accountant) but it's interesting that they'd challenge her will, given they hadn't seen her in decades, and tried to get messages to Huguette, even though she didn't seem interested in communicating with them. As of now, things still are not resolved.
Final Thoughts: Empty Mansions is such an interesting and complex look at Huguette Clark, her life and her homes. I definitely recommend the book! Empty Mansions gets 4 stars.
*Empty Mansions is an e-ARC from netgalley.com, which has not influenced my review in any way...more
Agorafabulous! was a delightful read. Sara's very relatable, and it was fun to read her take on what it's like to be agoraphobic and her struggles witAgorafabulous! was a delightful read. Sara's very relatable, and it was fun to read her take on what it's like to be agoraphobic and her struggles with anxiety and depression. There were times when I couldn't stop laughing, and it was great to see her (mostly) humorous look at what she's been through. It was pretty light-hearted, which I really liked, because it's a nice change from a serious look at your past-type of memoir.
It was great to see that she made it through something that was so crippling for her, and it is inspiring to see her go from a student who's scared to go to the bathroom to someone who leads a successful life and is able to manage any anxiety that comes up.
You get a look at why she didn't leave her home- for her, staying home was the sensible decision because if she left, she'd die. And honestly? Her thought process makes perfect sense to me, and it really does show how horrible and debilitating anxiety can be.
I liked that you (briefly) saw what life was like before her crippling anxiety and life after. It's pretty focused on a specific time period time. I liked that because you don't get a long story about everything leading up to her college years and how getting treated for it was this life-changing event. But a little more context would have been nice too.
Agorafabulous! was a fun read but also a little inspiring. It gets a 4 out of 5....more
Tudor England is one of my favorite periods in history, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to get it.
It definitely wasn't what I was expecting. TheTudor England is one of my favorite periods in history, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to get it.
It definitely wasn't what I was expecting. The thing with Mary is that very little is known about her, so it was of Weir trying to dispel all the myths surrounding her. It was more along the lines of what we know and think we know about her and why they're correct (or not correct). We learn a lot about her family and how she didn't seem to have a huge impact in a time that had a lot going on. It really was more about what we don't know than what we do know.
Mary, as a person, was pretty unremarkable, especially with how little information there is about her, but Weir did the best she could. Learning more about her 2 husbands was really interesting, but she spent a little too much time on possible birth dates for both Anne and Mary. It really seemed like their ages were going to be important- only for it to not be as important as I expected.
I did like this book, but it was just too much of a stretch. There just isn't enough to fill pages upon pages. I found myself getting slightly frustrated with how pop culture gets history wrong. It has to be frustrating to see t.v. shows and movies take liberties with history, but at the same time, it was frustrating to see her take it so seriously. She is very readable, and she has an eye for detail, but I really felt like she lost something with this one.
I think the part about how she wasn't this great and infamous whore was the most interesting part of the book. Weir goes into quite a bit of detail, and the idea that if she had such a reputation, there would probably be more in terms of records.
Final thoughts: I liked it, but it was more speculation and debunking of myths than anything else. I think it would have worked slightly better as a biography of the Boleyn family as a whole. It gets 3 stars....more
This was such a wonderful book! And add it to the very short list of books that have made me cry.
This is the 2nd book I've read that was written by sThis was such a wonderful book! And add it to the very short list of books that have made me cry.
This is the 2nd book I've read that was written by someone who attended Little Rock Central High- the other one was Warriors Don't Cry.
Her reason for going to Central High was because she wanted to go to one of the top high schools in the country, and not because of the history it would make. It was clear throughout the whole book that education was important to her and her family. Some of the events of the book were very familiar because of Warriors Don't Cry, but it was very interesting to see a different perspective of what it was like.
I can't even begin to imagine what it was really like for her. All the comments, insults, and other things that happened...I can read about it all I want, but it's just so hard to believe that she made it through to her graduation. If that isn't courage, perseverance, and willingness to complete her education, I don't what is. It's hard to believe that, like, 55 years ago, integrating schools was a huge thing. I know it happened and all, but it's not something I think about very often...if at all.
Most of all, this book is a good reminder of the past, that not too long ago, things were different but that things can change.
There were 2 things that really stuck out. One, she could have gone to college after her junior year in high school, and even got accepted to a university. But she made the decision to go back to Central High, because she had gone through so much just to graduate from there. And two, the fact that she did her best to put that time of her life behind her. I don't blame her at all, and remembering her high school years must have been hard. But it seems like she's made peace with it, and wants to make sure that people don't forget that things were once different.
This was interesting. I've heard of the Lost Boys, but other than hearing the name, I didn't know anything about them.
I liked seeing what things wereThis was interesting. I've heard of the Lost Boys, but other than hearing the name, I didn't know anything about them.
I liked seeing what things were like for him, and how his life was changed because of what he's been through. I can't even begin to imagine what things were like for him...betrayal, being forced to fight, and starvation don't seem to cover half of what being a child soldier entailed. It was inspiring to see him go from child soldier to being a successful singer.
I'm glad I read it, because you see that while it's possible to move on, one can never truly recover from something so horrific.
I liked it, but it's more about what his own experience was like. You don't get an overview of what happened or anything, but I would like to learn more about what lead to the civil wars in Sudan. While it's a linear story, it felt a little disjointed. It was linear, but it didn't feel linear- if that makes any sense.
I give it a 3 out of 5. It's interesting, but I felt a little disconnected from the story. ...more
I finally read The Diary Of Anne Frank! I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would.
I liked seeing her experiences of what it was like living inI finally read The Diary Of Anne Frank! I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would.
I liked seeing her experiences of what it was like living in the Secret Annex, and the one thing I was struck by was how things don't really change. I mean, I could totally relate to how she felt and the relationships between her and her family. Some things really are universal.
I'm glad I read it. But I think I really built it up as this totally amazing book. Don't get me wrong, I think it's an important, must-read. But it didn't really do anything for me either.
It's great as diary, and seeing her own thoughts and life in hiding. There were times when I was bored out of my mind reading it, but when you're in hiding and have to be careful about how much noise you make and that sort of thing, it is to be expected. I think it's really more of a coming-of-age story than anything else.
I liked this book, and I really liked reading about Mary. It was a nice change from reading about Henry VIII's wives and about Elizabeth I.
I really lI liked this book, and I really liked reading about Mary. It was a nice change from reading about Henry VIII's wives and about Elizabeth I.
I really liked that it didn't focus too much on her childhood, her dislike of Anne Boleyn and her relationship with her sister. It is a very good overview of Mary's life and what was going on during her lifetime. There were plenty of details about Mary without getting bogged down in them.
The one thing I noticed is that Porter sees Mary in a very positive light. Porter is not completely objective in this biography, but I can appreciate that she is portraying Mary in a different way than what we're used to. I don't see Mary any differently after reading this book, but you get a very good sense of who Mary is and the different people and events that influenced her.
It gets a 3 out of 5. I liked it, and while it isn't too detailed, it is a really good introduction to Mary Tudor. ...more