Ben Carson's rags-to-riches story is both awe-inspiring and motivational. He seems to be an incredibly down-to-earth person, especially considering hiBen Carson's rags-to-riches story is both awe-inspiring and motivational. He seems to be an incredibly down-to-earth person, especially considering his prestige in the medical field. His mother's own life choices and her influence on Ben and his brother are almost as incredible as Ben's personal accomplishments. The woman who was married at age 13, uneducated and unable to support her family, yet she used every resource she could find to give her children the best head start at life and to stay off state assistance as much as possible. I loved reading descriptions of Carson's pioneering surgeries and was impressed with his faith in his own ability to accomplish his goals and as well as how he relies on God.
Side note: the writing in this book is pretty atrocious. But let's face it: the man can't be a brain surgeon AND a pulitzer prize winning author :)...more
This book was awesome: an easy, quick read about the lives of Thomas Jefferson's (alleged) children with slave Sally Hemings. The juxtaposition of theThis book was awesome: an easy, quick read about the lives of Thomas Jefferson's (alleged) children with slave Sally Hemings. The juxtaposition of the slaves' daily lives, full of struggles and injustices, and Jefferson's life of luxury as a contributor to the Declaration of Independence was painfully ironic. Yet I walked away with sympathy for all parties: Sally, the children, the other slaves at Monticello and even Jefferson himself. I loved that there was some redemption in regards to the children's freedom although it was terribly sad to think that several of them cut ties with their mother, brother and friends forever. The most fascinating part, for me, was reading the afterword where the author discloses how much of the story was backed by reliable research. The writing is simple but it makes the book accessible even to young adults. Highly recommend! ...more
I grabbed this book on a whim at the library, expecting another quick read like Confessions of a Shopaholic. It didn't disappoint and I liked this oneI grabbed this book on a whim at the library, expecting another quick read like Confessions of a Shopaholic. It didn't disappoint and I liked this one even more than Shopaholic. The main character gets roped into attending an unknown great-aunt's funeral and then, to her shock and horror, begins seeing and interacting with the ghost of her great aunt on a regular basis. It's a tale filled with ghost humor, mystery, a fun love story and those awkwardly embarrassing moments Kinsella is known for. Contains some language (as do many books by British authors, I've found) but I still couldn't put it down. Good, haunting fun :)...more
This was such a fun memoir! The parents of this family of 12 sounded like amazing people and, although the author tended to write mostly about his fatThis was such a fun memoir! The parents of this family of 12 sounded like amazing people and, although the author tended to write mostly about his father, I really wanted to learn more about his mother and figure out all the logistics of how their household worked. The father was funny, engaged, intelligent and proud of his brood - sort of what the dad in The Glass Castle would've been like if he'd had a decent job :/ Fun, fast read that really made me wonder what my kids will have to say about me after I'm gone! ...more
My reaction to this book was somewhat conflicted. I had heard nothing but praise and glowing reviews for it and, being a die hard lover of WWII lit, IMy reaction to this book was somewhat conflicted. I had heard nothing but praise and glowing reviews for it and, being a die hard lover of WWII lit, I really anticipated this read. At first, I had a hard time getting into it, perhaps because of all the switching between main characters' stories. That, coupled with the back-and-forth timeline and some of the scene descriptions really messed with the story's flow for me. It was very well-written but I wonder if some of my inability to immerse myself in the setting had something to do with the fact that one of the main characters is blind. It was impossible to "see" what she was experiencing and that was hard for me!
SPOILER ALERT - continue reading at your own risk :)
Ok, can we talk a little bit about Werner's death? What the crap was THAT?? Don't get me wrong; I love a book with realistic endings and necessary sacrifices. I like my stories to have meat to them and complex emotions. But that poor boy's life was just pathetic. And his contribution to the story didn't seem to make any lasting difference. If you're gonna kill off a character with so much potential, kindness and zest for life, then you better darn well make sure his life meant something. The author had a chance to do this with Marie-Laure and her interaction with Werner, as well as with the survival of Volkheimer and Jutta but he missed it. Perhaps the worst part, for me, was the fact that when Marie-Laure got the model of the house back, decades later, the stone was gone and she never figured out whether or not Werner stole it. So then, even their short and sweet interaction when he saved her during the war ended up tainted. That was just unforgivable to me. Volkheimer's story was frustratingly impotent as well. Werner was such a great character with lots of emotions and layers...and he stepped on a stupid mine after the war was over. AAAARGH!!! My main complaint with the end was just the hopelessness. I can only imagine how witnessing and enduring the atrocities of a world war would change someone forever...but I don't think it kept most people from ever being happy again. There was a distinct absence of hope and redemption for me at the end and that left me with a somewhat sour taste in my mouth.
That being said, it truly was an incredible book. I just probably won't read it again....more
I'm not generally a fan of chick lit but I did absolutely adore this movie (although it MAY have hit a bit close to home :) and decided to grab it atI'm not generally a fan of chick lit but I did absolutely adore this movie (although it MAY have hit a bit close to home :) and decided to grab it at the library the other day. Definitely a just-for-fun read, Becky's lies and antics are quite hilarious albeit often painful to witness. I preferred the ending of the movie, in this case, but the book was still entertaining and a good fast read (as in, less than 24 hours for me :)....more
Sue Monk Kidd nailed this historical fiction about slavery, race relations, women's rights and friendship. Along the lines of "The Secret Life of BeesSue Monk Kidd nailed this historical fiction about slavery, race relations, women's rights and friendship. Along the lines of "The Secret Life of Bees", she gives us a glimpse into the torturous life of a young black girl (Handful), living as a slave in Charleston. Simultaneously, we learn about the inner workings of Handful's young owner, Sarah Grimke, and eventually, as an adult, the place Sarah takes amongst abolitionists and womens' rights activists. While the former character never really existed, Sarah was a real-life leader of both movements and sounds like quite a dynamite gal. ...more
Jeannette Walls has done it again, only this time in fiction. The Glass Castle and Half-Broke Horses (her memoir and that of her grandmother, respectiJeannette Walls has done it again, only this time in fiction. The Glass Castle and Half-Broke Horses (her memoir and that of her grandmother, respectively) were brilliantly written and engaging with characters you couldn't help loving. This one takes several cues from her own history: the irresponsible parent, the family getting uprooted every time said parent runs into trouble, and a headstrong female protagonist. Yet this one has all the perfect fictional elements: a moral dilemma, a big bad wolf, and the inevitable resolution. I thoroughly enjoyed it!...more
Holy. Crap. This book was probably the most horrific and fascinating book I've ever read. It moved me to tears and had me standing up and cheering. IHoly. Crap. This book was probably the most horrific and fascinating book I've ever read. It moved me to tears and had me standing up and cheering. I admire this woman to no end and hope that she lives a long, happy and free life. In short, this book is Ayaan Ali's path from an accepting Muslim childhood in Ethiopia, to a an adult life as a rebel atheist in Holland. Her whole young adulthood was spent trying to become a good Muslim but she simply couldn't live with the dissonance between her beliefs of Allah as a peaceful God and the abuse and murder of women in her Muslim community. After being sent off to an arranged marriage with a man living in Canada, Ayaan gets on a train to Holland and never looks back. She becomes a member of Dutch parliament, makes a documentary about Muslim women, lives under armed guard, survives her co-creator of the documentary who is brutally murdered by an Islamic fundamentalist and eventually settles in the US.
As a devout Christian, it does make me sad that she has completely renounced a belief in any god, although I can't say that I blame her. She was true to what her heart and spirit told her, which was that the injustices she was witnessing were NOT of God. She made her life something she could be proud of, even though her family disowned her for it and her life is still threatened regularly. And now she works to right the wrongs she witnessed both in Africa and in the Islamic communities of western Europe. Three cheers for this heroic woman and her amazing book!...more