Book E: Fabookulous December 27, 2011
Book B: Fabookulous December 19, 2011
In Truth Behind the Fantasy of Porn, former porn actress Shelley Lubben rips the seductive mask off of pornography and exposes the hardcore truth behind the “greatest illusion on earth”. Her spectacular journey from childhood to sexual abuse to prostitution to the deadly unglamorous realm of porn sets, Shelley is brutally honest about her past. But that’s not all. Having escaped the porn industry at 26, Shelley now shares her powerful story of redemption offering a message of hope to the entire world. The first ever book exposing the “secret” side of porn, Shelley wants you to know the hardcore truth. Pornography is modern day slavery for thousands of women and the millions of porn addicts who can’t stop clicking. But you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!
This book was an interesting and intriguing find for me. I discovered it when purchasing “Scars and Stilettos” by Harmony Dust on Amazon.com. Harmony is a friend of a friend and I’d heard about her powerful testimony as a redeemed stripper. When I ordered a copy of her book, Amazon suggested I purchase Shelley Lubben’s book with it. A redeemed porn actress? Intriguing. And talk about humbling.
So I ordered my package deal and waited for my delivery. Once these books arrived, I did not put Lubben’s book down until I finished it yesterday on my birthday. (Parties can wait–I was in the middle of a good book…)
A stripper, prostitute, and porn star, Lubben lived years of her life in a deep, dark hole struggling with alcoholism, drugs, unwanted pregnancies, abuse, neglect and a sense of desperation you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. In a nutshell? A classic porn star’s background. And I don’t mean that to be insensitive or cold. However, when women come from a past as broken as some of today’s porn stars and have this inner desire, inner NEED, to find validation from others (men or women) they can lose their sense of value and self and seek it anywhere they can. Shelley’s first “trick” paid her $35. And just like that, she began a destructive path of selling her body and trading her soul.
The star rating I gave this book is on the low side because to be perfectly honest, I’m still nauseous from the graphic detail of stories such as how she conceived her first daughter, her first filmed scene, and some of the rough abuse she and other porn actresses have suffered through. But similar to my thoughts on Precious (whether it’s true or not–that’s another story), maybe some stories can’t be told without the gritty detail. And I do mean grit. Like, eyes wide open, one eye closed maybe, holding the book away from you, wanting to take a shower and wash yourself from what you just read gritty. Like “women actually do this and suffer through this?” and “how does one get to this place–what must be going on in their mind?” Am I being too sensitive? I don’t think so…
The porn industry is a $70 BILLION DOLLARS a year industry. That is more than all professional sports combined. Is this for real?? This is our number one entertainment in today’s world? I don’t mean to get off on a soap box, but everytime you click on a porn site, buy a magazine, rent a video (gross–think of who else has “rented” them), you are contributing to the degradation of thousands of women stuck in a vicious cycle. What is hard to understand is how porn stars like Jenna Jameson can make no apologies for their career, show no signs of guilt, rather think they are quite the business women, and then there are others who are crying–literally crying. Crying in pain, crying in agony, crying for their souls, crying. Screaming. How do they deal with it? Drugs. Alcohol. Whatever numbs the pain to make it even a percent enjoyable so you can get through it and get your paycheck to cover your rent, or feed that unwanted baby, or, as sad as it may be, get that next high.
Shelley will take you through her dark experiences (and she’s got some dark ones– she contracted herpes, a non-curable disease that resulted in early cervical cancer where half of her cervix was removed), to the rejection of her parents, and her near deadly experience in a Mexican brothel.
But what is ASTOUNDING (and I mean ASTOUNDING–what word is better than that, I’m not sure), is how God proved faithful to Shelley even on set. Even in the dark alleys, even when prostituting herself. God was there. Whispering to her, protecting her from even WORSE consequences (and yes, there were some–wait until she recalls in hindsight toward the end of the book). God kept her near Him and proved the promise in the Bible when it tells us to raise a child in the way he/she is to go and when he/she is older they will not depart from it. Praise God that Shelley had childhood church experiences where she fell in love with Jesus early on! But hey, any Christian will tell you it’s easy to wander and stray as we get older, gain freedom, seek acceptance among our peers, etc. Some just take it a lot farther than others.
Shelley is herpes-free (can you attribute that to anything other than God?!), married and with 3 daughters. Her first-born (who was conceived during one of her nights prostituting) writes a chapter in the book as well about her pain from porn– including her mother’s boyfriends molesting her and attempts at suicide.
Devastating most of the time, readers cannot deny the power of God in Shelley’s life. And the biggest takeaway message for me? If God can prove faithful to Shelley during her years stripping for strangers, sleeping with strangers for money, and engaging in rough sex acts on film that will stay forever, and then redeem her and give her a powerful ministry because of it… well, then God is faithful to ALL of us and can use ALL of us. How could anybody read this book and NOT take that message away? However, if this isn’t the message you hope to receive, I’d advise to tread lightly–this book is not for sensitive readers.
Sometimes the very thing we work hardest to escape is the very thing God can heal us from and call us BACK to to minister to others still trapped in the vicious cycle. And that’s exactly what He did and is still doing in Shelley’s life. Bravo, Shelley, for sharing your painful story. I know that couldn’t have been easy, but God is the perfect Healer and Redeemer. Praise Him for rescuing you and keeping you near! Praying for you and your family this holiday season to know a joy and peace you’ve never felt as you bask in the glory of His presence.
Book M: Fabookulous November 26, 2011
Scott Bolzan went to work on December 17, 2008, like any other Wednesday. By that afternoon, he’d lost every memory of his past.
Awakening in a hospital with no memory of who he was or how he got there, the forty-six-year-old didn’t know that the petite blonde at his side was his wife of twenty-four years, Joan—or even what a wife was. He couldn’t remember the births of his two young-adult children, the daughter he’d lost, his time as an offensive lineman for the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, or his flourishing aviation career.
Scott’s life and the lives of everyone who loved him were forever changed when he slipped, hit his head, and lost consciousness in his office bathroom, suffering one of the most severe cases of permanent retrograde amnesia on record. With heartrending honesty and no shortage of humor, the Bolzans share their remarkable journey as Scott navigates his way through a now-unfamiliar world. The challenges are initially overwhelming: Scott’s debilitating headaches, his relearning of social etiquette (taking cues from The Sopranos!), Joan’s grief over the loss of the man she married and their shared history, the financial burden of Scott’s lost income, his mounting medical bills, and the agony of their twenty-year-old son’s struggles with drug addiction.
But remarkably, My Life, Deleted is above all else a celebration of extraordinary perseverance, and of the enduring love that emerges when we are most tested. Scott learns to trust his intuition in a way few people ever will, while Joan taps into a well of patience and resourcefulness she didn’t know she had. Throughout it all, what unfolds—against all odds—is an enviable romance as Scott and Joan fall in love all over again.
Both gut-wrenching and brimming with optimism, the Bolzans’ captivating story makes a powerful statement about commitment—and the possibility of finding extraordinary opportunity in life’s greatest challenges.
On a recent flight to Florida, I opened my guilty pleasure for my in-flight entertainment. Yep, I was ready to go armed with the latest edition of People magazine. One of my favorite sections of People has always been the Book Reviews and that is where I discovered My Life, Deleted. Once on the ground, it wasn’t long before I made my way to the nearest bookstore to purchase my copy because I was too impatient to wait until I got home to get to the library and I figured I’d have that in-flight time on my return trip to relish this story that fascinated me for some reason.
Can you EVEN imagine? To lose ALL of your memories– both happy and sad, painful and exhilirating, times of growth and times of weeping. To forget what you do for a living, what you’ve done in the past, who your family is and how you fell in love to begin with, where you live, historical events, your role as a human. That’s where Bolzan finds himself after a mere accident of slipping, falling, and suffering a severe brain injury. What is most endearing (in my humble opinion) in this story is Bolzan’s DRIVE, his desire to remember himself, to relearn what he knew and to make a comeback, if you will. In a situation where it could be so easy to become bitter and suffer through your pain, both physical and emotional, Bolzan has a will to not only survive, but to thrive.
Once a successful business owner, Bolzan was enjoying a luxurious lifestyle prior to the accident. It’s refreshing to read of his selling big-ticket items, such as numerous watches that earned the family over $20,000 to apply toward medical bills. Frugal at my core, I rolled my eyes at some of the name dropping such as labels, brands of cars, and other expensive frocks the family had. I kept looking for the epiphany where Bolzan would mention how his brain injury made him realize the important things in life rather than the collection of material goods. While glimpses of that realization were apparent in the story, it seemed more out of necessity rather than a change of heart.
Then can you even imagine on the OTHER side of the story? Joan, Taylor and Grant. Wife, daughter and son, respectively. Joan is an amazing woman who stood by her husband, familiarized herself with his situation and medicines, and talk about the patience of a saint! What an incredible load she carried as the matriarch of her family during this world-flipped-upside-down season. Thank goodness she had the support of a loving, courageous and faithful daughter, Taylor, who baked Christmas cookies with her dad and taught him all over again how to share in one of their holiday traditions.
A heartbreaking twist in this story is the drug addiction their son Grant battles, before and through his dad’s recovery. How frustrating for the family! Grant exhausts his resources: financially, emotionally, physically, while he seeks out his next high and drains his parents’ strength one by one. Understandably, Bolzan is beyond frustrated because not only is he fighting his own battle, he doesn’t remember the stress of Grant’s addiction and can’t share in Joan’s pain, and now he is dealing with it firsthand. And Joan…words can’t even express how phenomenal she is to stand by her husband, support her son, and stick with her family.
My favorite part is when Joan and Scott take Taylor to college to begin pursuing her dream. I won’t even dive into the details but let’s just say this is a heartwarming scene that would be impossible to read without a smile on one’s face and maybe a tear falling down your cheek. This family is an incredible example of unconditional love and one who believes their marriage vows through thick and thin, for better or for worse.
Thanks to Scott for opening up and sharing his story. And you know what? I don’t feel guilty anymore for buying this book rather than waiting patiently for the library. Why not? Because at the end of the book it says “A portion of the authors’ earned royalties from sales of this book will be donated to the Brain Injury Association of Arizona and the Phoenix Children’s Hospital: Neuro-NICU Department.” And what good are these life experiences if they can’t be used together for good and to benefit others?
Book I: Fabookulous November 8, 2011
The beloved Fannie Flagg is back and at her irresistible and hilarious best in I Still Dream About You, a comic mystery romp through the streets of Birmingham, Alabama, past, present, and future.
Meet Maggie Fortenberry, a still beautiful former Miss Alabama. To others, Maggie’s life seems practically perfect—she’s lovely, charming, and a successful real estate agent at Red Mountain Realty. Still, Maggie can’t help but wonder how she wound up in her present condition. She had been on her hopeful way to becoming Miss America and realizing her childhood dream of someday living in one of the elegant old homes on top of Red Mountain, with the adoring husband and the 2.5 children, but then something unexpected happened and changed everything.
Maggie graduated at the top of her class at charm school, can fold a napkin in more than forty-eight different ways, and can enter and exit a car gracefully, but all the finesse in the world cannot help her now. Since the legendary real estate dynamo Hazel Whisenknott, beloved founder of Red Mountain Realty, died five years ago, business has gone from bad to worse—and the future isn’t looking much better. But just when things seem completely hopeless, Maggie suddenly comes up with the perfect plan to solve it all.
As Maggie prepares to put her plan into action, we meet the cast of high-spirited characters around her. To Brenda Peoples, Maggie’s best friend and real estate partner, Maggie’s life seems easy as pie. Slender Maggie doesn’t have to worry about her figure, or about her Weight Watchers sponsor catching her at the Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. And Ethel Clipp, Red Mountain’s ancient and grumpy office manager with the bright purple hair, thinks the world of Maggie but has absolutely nothing nice to say about their rival Babs “The Beast of Birmingham” Bingington, the unscrupulous estate agent who hates Maggie and is determined to put her out of business.
Maggie has heartbreaking secrets in her past, but through a strange turn of events, she soon discovers, quite by accident, that everybody, it seems—dead or alive—has at least one little secret.
I Still Dream About You is a wonderful novel that is equal parts Southern charm, murder mystery, and that perfect combination of comedy and old-fashioned wisdom that can be served up only by America’s own remarkable Fannie Flagg.
Have you wondered where the Bookworms have been?? It’s been a busy year! LibraryLove had a baby girl (yay!!!!!!!!) and I’ve been busier than I could have imagined with other things, challenges, and changes in my own life. However, I was able to steal away to read a book and just haven’t posted the review yet. Alas, here I am…
This was my first Fannie Flagg book and what an enjoyment it was! Flagg is a natural storyteller and I soaked up every word! Granted, this was my first time to sit down with a book and actually read it cover to cover in a long time. But I am glad I picked up I Still Dream About You. Part mystery, part humor, I Still Dream About You will keep you turning the pages as you try to figure out what is going on in Maggie’s head.
The story does have a gloomy dark cloud over it for the majority of the novel and you’ll know why if you read it (I don’t want to give anything away) but it does come together to make sense. Each character will come alive for you and each memory will play like a movie in front of you. Flagg is beyond gifted at storytelling. If you pick this title up, stop back by and let me know your thoughts. Happy reading!
Book M: LibraryLove July 27, 2011
Gift From The Sea by Ann Morrow
Book description~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives. The sea and the beach are elements that have been woven throughout Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s life. She spent her childhood summers with her family on a Maine island. After her marriage to Charles Lindbergh in 1929, she accompanied him on his survey flights around the North Atlantic to launch the first transoceanic airlines. The Lindberghs eventually established a permanent home on the Connecticut coast, where they lived quietly, wrote books and raised their family. Now more than ever, Gift from the Sea serves as a spiritual compass guiding us toward inner tranquility in the face of life’s deeper questions.
What a perfect summer palette cleanser of a gem! First published in 1955, Gift From The Sea is a book I will definitely be gifting to friends and will keep close to my heart for always. One of the book club babes selected this perfectly refreshing read for this month’s discussion and brunch. I can’t wait to hear what a group of strong and independent spirits think of this book as well. This book reads VERY quickly. Both the large font and journal-style entries make this fast paced and fleeting as a fresh breeze. Ann Morrow uses a vacation to the beach, and varying sea shells from the shore as metaphor to set the stage for pondering life as a woman, wife, mother and friend as life changes and morphs for her and those around her. Both in 1955, and now, this book is as relevant as ever. Gift From The Sea steers us toward a life of balance, simplicity, and focus. It is so easy with all our technological advances to hide ourselves and withdraw from both reality and relationships. After reading this, you will be more aware of your surroundings, the outside stimuli that change your inner sense of balance and wholeness.
I can relate on so many levels to the topics Morrow unearths throughout this work. I often feel torn on how to spend my time. Housework, friends, work, relationships, pets, children. There’s never a dull moment, but this will help you re-frame your reality. A truly uplifting and spiritual read, I recommend you take a copy along in your pool bag this summer!
“When each partner loves so completely that he has forgotten to ask himself whether or not he is loved in return; when he only knows that he loves and is moving to its music– then, and then only, are two people able to dance perfectly in tune to the same rhythm.”
I can’t wait to read this book again when I’ve moved on to The Argonauta stage of life…
12 down, 14 to go! (Hopefully I’ll make it)…
Book K: Fabookulous June 6, 2011
Between bear hunting, drag racing, doughnut spinning, cattle rustling, gold prospecting, and too many near-death experiences, it’s amazing that Alex Debogorski ever found time (or lived long enough) to spend twenty-five years hauling freight over frozen lakes to the most remote ouposts of the arctic. In King of the Road, Alex jams his storytelling into overdrive for a memoir that’s equal parts action-packed, outrageous, tender, and hilarious. You’ll find out how he once caught fire in the middle of a brawl, how easy it is to get killed driving a coal truck, how the sound of cracking ice is something you can never get accustomed to hearing, and what it’s like being the improbable star of a hit TV show. The true tales of this larger-than-life ice road trucker are not to be missed.
Having never watched the show Ice Road Truckers I came across this book when it was advertised in People magazine. I kicked back at the pool, opened up to page one, and all I can say is “Wow” from the first word. Alex Debogorski has lived quite a life and has many a tales to share about the hair raising ways of his youth through life as a family man. I could have done without the stories of life on the farm and the rough treatment of some of the animals. Sure those things happen, and it’s part of farm life, but I am a sensitive reader and love the animals, so personally could have done without those stories.
My dad has owned and operated his own trucking company for 25+ years and I used to work for him full time (though now it’s just a few nights a week). I’ve always been fascinated by the Peterbilts, all the buttons, knobs, controllers. I’ve enjoyed learning about the permit process, the heavy loads, weight requirements, DOT requirements, etc. And while reading Debogorski’s stories, I can just imagine riding along the highway listening on the CB radio as he tells crazy tales, some sad, some funny, some mind-blowing, and some heartwarming. In fact, after reading about some crazy driving escapades of a teenage Alex, I could hear the hootin’ and hollerin’, I felt the wind blowing and I thought I was watching a movie screen. I caught myself afterwards and even read the story again because it felt so real. Debogorski is quite the story teller and I enjoyed every minute of his wild days.
Stories of sleeping behind the wheel, speeding, and not paying attention are careless and dangerous. But thankfully Alex points out he is not glorifying irresponsible driving (particularly if young audiences are paying attention) but he is just telling it like it happened. But when he talks about a trip to visit Louise (his high school sweetheart and now wife and mother of their 11 children), he was tired and closes his eyes for a few minutes. Upon opening them, he is moments away from running into the train up ahead and sure enough, he hits the train. With all the danger Debogorski has faced and all of the “mishaps” that he’s endured, it really is a wonder (by the grace of God) that he is alive to tell about them.
With a new season of Ice Road Truckers just beginning, I spent time this weekend watching some episodes of the show to see what it was all about. I’m pretty sure it’s my new favorite show. It’s unbelievable the conditions these drivers haul through and deal with. But one of the more striking things is that they probably just view it as all in a day’s work. A dangerous day’s work. The banter between Alex and his rival, Hugh “the Polar Bear” Rowland, is comical and after researching more into the show and merchandise available, I realized Hugh has a book as well: On Thin Ice. Is it a coincidence that the two drivers on the series who have books out are rivals on the show, in constant competition? HA! Fine by me, I’m already in line wishing for a copy of Hugh’s book on PaperBackSwap.com. 🙂
Thoroughly enjoyable, King of the Road will keep your interest from start to finish. Cheers to Alex for surviving himself and sharing about it!
Book A: LibraryLove June 1, 2011
A Mother’s Circle by Sandra Kunhardt Basile with Jean Kunhardt, M.A. and Lisa Spiegel, M.A. of the Soho Parenting Center
Book description~ A Mother’s Circle chronicles the experiences of nine new mothers in a parenting discussion group led by Jean Kunhardt and Lisa Spiegel. “A Mother’s Circle is informative and reassuring,” writes Miriam Arond, Editor-in Chief of Child Magazine. “It will help you feel confident and supported, qualities that are so important in helping you enjoy this wonderful new stage of your life.” The revised edition covers important topics such as feeding, separation and attachment, marriage, co-parenting and a woman’s identity. The first chapter defines Responsive Parenting, a thoughtful approach that allows parents to make more finely-tuned responses to their baby’s needs, whether it is setting a limit or nurturing and coddling. The expanded chapter on Sleep includes a Sleep Chart to help parents track the progress their babies in learning to sleep through the night.
What an amazing resource! While having lunch with one of my mommy friends from high school 2 months into my pregnancy, she insisted that if I read ONE parenting book it be this one. I couldn’t be happier or recommend this enough. Whether you’re a first time mom or adopting a child, or even plan to raise a family, I highly recommend you pick this up! The book takes a much less “preachy” approach, but a “village to raise a family” type approach. The Soho Parenting Center is an amazing place where new mothers come weekly to discuss, as a group, their concerns and talk openly with other new moms in their same shoes. “A Mother’s Circle” shares fears, concerns, and issues raised by the mothers in the group, and real life examples of how to overcome them using psychology, medical knowledge and overall common sense. I loved how the book was separated by category (Responsive Parenting, Feeding, Changes in Marriage, Sleep, Your Mother’s Legacy),which touch on more than just poopy diapers and spit up. Also, it’s easy for medical or psychological professionals to write a book, but it’s another to read first hand accounts from mothers over a decade.
The book offers so many useful methods, techniques, and ideas that can help you through the first year with a newborn/toddler. Each child is different and reacts different, as do each mother and father. The book also offers sample feeding schedules for each stage (newborn, 3-6 months, and for when you begin introducing solid foods).
The two most important sections I wanted to touch on:
1) Sleep Work
2) Your Mother’s Legacy
This book takes the stance that withholding sleep from your young baby is as damaging as withholding nutrition, as sleep is the foundation of a baby’s development. Without proper amounts of sleep each night, a baby will be more fussy during the day, and cannot possibly have the energy to focus on its developmental stages. The book focuses on techniques that when done properly, can help you and your baby achieve a full night’s rest as early on as you decide to commit to the process. The chapter on sleep work carefully outlines how parents can use time-tested methods, psychology, and patience. Starting with 0-3 months, the transition phase 3-4 months, then working up to sleeping through the night at 4-12 months, the chapter then fleshed out topics like crying, when spouses disagree on methods, sleep charting (and gives a sample template), supporting one another, being consistent, and early morning wakings. I felt like my eyes were open so widely to so many things and reasons for why many parents get frustrated that they can’t get their kids to sleep through the night. I feel like my husband and I have a heightened awareness having read this, and are thankful we’ll have each other along the way to lean on.
Your Mother’s Legacy
Regardless of whether you had an amazing childhood, were adopted, or had a lukewarm relationship with your mothers, its inevitable that through pregnancy and child rearing, issues from the past will surface. This section was very though-provoking and profound for me and I highly suggest this to anyone who has questions about how to deal with their past and views on maternal role models.
Takeaway- you are your own person, not bound by the shackles of past hurts, regrets, or expectation. No one is perfect. No mom is a perfect mom. However, by bringing a child into this world, it IS your responsibility (in my humble opinion) to try your best and ask for help when you need it; this is non-negotiable. 🙂
11 down, 15 to go!
Up next: The Wednesday Letters & The Philosophical Baby
Book T: Fabookulous May 30, 2011
In this world we’re surrounded by more people than ever– yet we often still feel alone. Being single or married has nothing to do with whether you need to feel loved! Everyone has a God-given yearning for complete and unconditional love in the context of all relationships. If you want to give and receive love most effectively, you’ve got to learn to speak the right love language. Different people with different personalities express love in different ways. In fact, there are five very specific languages of love: Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch.
Dr. Gary Chapman’s original bestseller (over 5 million copies sold) was first crafted with married couples in mind, but the love languages have proven themselves to be universal. This message is now tailored to meet the unique and real desires of single adults. Whether it’s dating relationships, parents, coworkers, or friends–learning to speak and receive your own unique love language applies to every one of your relationships.
Recently out of a seven year relationship, I chose to pick up this book I’ve heard so much about to re-evaluate how I show love to others and to question my own love language. I didn’t know what to expect when I started The Five Love Languages, I just felt at this particular time in my life it would be a good read. There is much truth in the value of a book based on the seasons in one’s life.
As stated above there are five love languages and these are not only how we prefer to be loved but also how we tend to show love to others. Everyone has a love language and some have more than one. All five are important, however, in different relationships, we just tend to feel love more from one over another. Giving love solicits receiving love and this book will open your eyes to how you can do that.
I won’t get personal on here but I will say that this book opened my eyes to a lot and I feel it was valuable time that I spent with Dr. Chapman and this book. For those with strained relationships among family, friends, coworkers, or roommates (for example) The Five Love Languages may help you realize how you can better relate to those people to improve the relationship. Dr. Chapman uses many examples and stories to guide you and better explain what he means. You may be surprised to see how people will respond differently than you expect or anticipate if they feel loved and valued.
Isn’t the deepest desire for any human to feel loved and to love others? So shouldn’t we all strive to be better at how we show our love to all of the special people in our lives? It’s a shame when you have to learn the hard way, but if you’re lucky enough you won’t take people for granted. Rather, you’ll speak their love language, connect on a deeper level and develop a strong and special bond.
If you are one of the few people who still has not read The Five Love Languages I encourage you to do so. If you are married, pick up a copy and read with your spouse. If you don’t know what your love language is, this edition has a self assessment in the back so you can identify what yours is.
Eye opening and significant, The Five Love Languages will change how you view the relationships in your life. After all, what the world needs now is love, sweet love.
Book P: Fabookulous May 15, 2011
The greatest buzz of the Christ-following life comes from hearing directly from God–sensing his guidance to lean into some situations and steer clear of others, to speak a word one moment and fall silent the next, to adopt bold new practices and ditch the self-destructive habits that only do us harm. By his own declaration, if Bill Hybels could wave a wand over the entire world, he would wish for each person alive today to have this type of personal, meaningful and frequent encounter with the living God. “God’s wish is to speak into the situations faced by every individual, every family, every church, every school, every business, every government, every media outlet, every organization and every organism imaginable,” he says, “and to train their steps according to his good and perfect will.”
If you crave full-throttle faith, the kind of divinely directed life that God alone can provide, then this book is for you. God still speaks relevant words to his followers, and most likely a grand adventure with your name on it is on your heavenly Father’s lips. Tune your ear toward heaven, and he will direct your steps, accompany your path and celebrate your faithfulness one day.
I picked this book up because the title resonated with me during this season of my life. I felt God whispering to me in a particular way and thought this book would help define that for me. It wasn’t what I expected.
Reminiscent of the God Winks by SQuire Rushnell books (yes, the Q is supposed to be capitalized), The Power of a Whisper shares numerous stories and examples of how God “steered” someone in the right direction. To more effectively and accurately know if you are hearing from God, Hybels gives 5 “tests” to line your whisper up with. And the more in tune you are with the Bible, the more familiar you will be with hearing God’s voice when he speaks to you. The idea of a Godwink is that there are no such things as coincidence– rather opportunities God uses to assure you that you are on the right path. When things seem to line up just right, or a series of events works out just as they should or were meant to be, God is winking at you to encourage you on the path you are on. Hybels is basically making the same point, calling them whispers. Whispers of love, direction, and guidance, if you will.
Though it wasn’t what I expected, it is still a good book that offers guidance and tools for those seeking them. Hybels uses very descriptive language and after a while it sort of seemed like filler to me. (Just this reader’s opinion) In my own life, whispers from God have come up in more way than one lately and after reading this book I’ve found the real-life experiences are richer than any guide can show you. Just open your ears and listen.
Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Book description~ In neuroscientist Genova’s second novel, a car crash gives a successful younger woman an obscure neurological syndrome called Left Neglect. Upwardly mobile Sarah and Bob Nickerson live in suburban Massachusetts with their three small children. Both work 60-hour weeks, though the economic downturn looms. When Sarah wakes up eight days after crashing her car on the way to work, the doctors inform her of her condition, which causes her brain to ignore the left side of everything, and she begins a long and uncertain recovery. Genova vividly describes Sarah’s fear and frustration about a recovery that may never come, turning her struggle into a lesson in forgiveness, acceptance, and adaptability; insights reveal themselves with extreme clarity, and small moments between Bob and Sarah illustrate his stalwart love, though readers may want a more thorough investigation of his growing role as caretaker, and as a character. More accessible than her somber first book, which dealt with early-onset Alzheimer’s, the central condition causes readers to wonder what brain disease she will think of next.
wow. Wow. WOW. Imagine for just a moment that you can’t feel your left side. Or left leg. Or left arm. Or left toes. Imagine that you can only read words on half the page. Pretty hard to imagine yes? What if you had 3 children under 10, a high-powered corporate job and a husband all relying on you? This is the reality for Sarah Nickerson, the main character, mother, wife and corporate guru, in Genova’s touching novel set in Boston, about redemption, living fully, and learning how to forgive. Sarah is going about her busy life, when a tragic (and sadly avoidable) accident happens. Sarah sustains a brain injury and is forced into a life of rehab hospitalization, the harsh realities of the health insurance game, and learning how to still be the matriarch to her large family.
It’s clear that author Genova is a neuroscientist yet she makes it so accessible to us lay readers; I felt like I was suddenly an expert in all matters of Left Brain Neglect! Genova’s writing style is articulate and gentle, yet forceful when need be. Left Neglected is perfectly paced and I have nothing but excellent things to say about Genova’s writing style. What I love about reading is that a week ago, I knew absolutely nothing about brain neglect, also known as unilateral neglect and hemispatial neglect, a real neurological syndrome occurring as a result of a stroke, hemorrhage,or traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately there is little research on the topic and as Sarah learns, she too, is navigating these uncharted waters in how to move past her disorder and still live a full life.
Sarah was quite distant with her mother, but when her mother moves in to help manage the family responsibilities of her three grandchildren, Sarah and her mother are given a second chance at the mother/daughter relationship they missed out on through Sarah’s childhood. Sarah’s mother wasn’t there for her as a child, but makes up for it tenfold through this novel.
I cannot recommend this book enough. I don’t want to give anything else away, but the highlight of the book for me was the creative and fun way Sarah learns to rehab both her mind, body, and soul. I laughed and I cried during some of her rehab scenes. Something utilitarian had a wonderful way of turning itself into Sarah’s new career and new beginning…
“I’m starting to wonder. What else is there? Maybe success can be something else, and maybe there’s another way to get there. Maybe there’s a different road for me with a more reasonable speed limit. Whether it’s because I can’t, I’m too afraid, something inside me has changed and wants something different, or a complete blend of all three, I can’t say, but I don’t want to back to that old life. My heart is leading me somewhere else. And I trust it. “
I’ve been itching to read this since the end of 2010, when I was given the opportunity to read and review this for Shelf Awareness, but I had too many books to get through and had to pass. I finally got around to it and I am SO happy I did. I also very much look forward to reading Genova’s debut novel, Still Alice, which chronicles the life of a woman with Alzheimer’s Disease.
10 down, 16 to go!
T minus 2 weeks til pool season!!!!
Book P: LibraryLove May 8, 2011
A Place of Yes: 10 Rules for Getting Everything You Want Out of Life by Bethenny Frankel
Book description~ BETHENNY FRANKEL’S no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is personality won over countless fans, and made her a nationally bestselling author and the star of her own hit Bravo show Bethenny Getting Married? Now Bethenny opens up and shares the obstacles she overcame and the great success she has enjoyed while discovering how to approach life from “A Place of Yes.” Bethenny’s path was not always clear as she overcame a difficult childhood, failed relationships, entrepreneurial efforts that never quite got off the ground, and lifelong money struggles. To deal with these challenges, Bethenny developed ten rules for pursuing her goals with authenticity and drive.
Who is your mentor? Who do you look up to? Who inspires you in your life? Bethenny Frankel is someone who I share a lot of commonalities with and have gravitated toward for years. I could not WAIT to read her book and this is why…
I love that although Bethenny set out to write a self-help book, she in effect, crafted her memoir. And I couldn’t be happier! I’ve read all Bethenny’s previous books, and although they did share vignettes about her personal life, she inspires me and makes me laugh, I wanted to know how she got to this place of yes! I was so glad this book used her 10 steps,and even happier that she fleshed them out through personal stories, and experience and challenges she overcame. When these principles are applied practically, and the reader can see it, in plain sight, it’s easier to relate and apply it to your own life.
I have to say that I’ve been a Bethenny fan from her days long ago on the Martha Stewart Apprentice Show. I loved her spunky attitude and have always felt like we share many common threads. It was no surprise to me when she cropped up years later in the New York installment of the Real Housewives, and she is actually what got me to start watching the show. Since then, a LOT has changed. Bethenny has finally gotten to her place of yes, where I believe we can all be, if we take the time and put the effort in for ourselves. Bethenny and I eerily share a LOT of similarities both in past and present, so of course I jumped on the queue at my library and was so glad this book became available to me last week.
“A place of yes is about taking responsibility for moving forward, even if you have to climb over a mountain of obstacles. You are in charge, nobody else. The world around you changes. You stop being a victim and you start being the ruler of your own destiny.”
Through A Place of Yes, Bethenny uses the following rules, just to name a few, to open up about her personal struggles and how she overcame them:
- FIND YOUR TRUTH: Dig deep inside and figure out what is authentic for you, not anybody else.
- ACT ON IT: You don’t have to have a master plan. But unless you do something, you’ve done nothing.
- EVERYTHING’S YOUR BUSINESS: Treat every job, person, and experience as if it could lead to your next big opportunity.
- OWN IT: If you do it, say it, think it—then own it. Stand up for yourself and fully acknowledge who you really are. Each rule is illustrated with compelling, sometimes funny, sometimes outrageous examples that are pure Bethenny. It’s easy to say no, to say “I can’t,” to expect the worst, and to doubt yourself. But your life can be better than “not bad” or “good enough.” It can be amazing. And by putting Bethenny’s rules together, you can use them to be more successful, more fulfilled, healthier, and happier than ever before.
What I also love is that Bethenny is clear in that sometimes, in fact many times, you must come from a place of NO to eventually come from a place of YES. I’ve learned this first hand over the last 5 years or so. When I finished college, I had a lot more free time on my hands not having to study anymore! I quickly got into this (BAD) habit of doing everything for everyone, taking on the weight of others at my own expense, sometimes triple booking my days. Sorry, but this is your life to live and your responsibility, not mine! I’ve stopped reminding people of commitments we have, I’ve stopped feeling responsible for making other people’s lives better, introducing them to all my friends, including them in every single outing I organize or party I am invited to because I quickly learned others weren’t exerting the same effort, so I wanted to surround myself with those that were, and who truly followed through with their actions. And you know what? I have been so blessed with an amazing network of true, lifelong friends, who make me a better person because I consider them sisters.
I show my cards in the beginning, give all of myself, and if it doesn’t come back in return, it’s time to fold and move on! People will show you their true colors pretty quickly, it’s up to you to truly see. Along this same line, so many people expect their life to just magically be great, easy, smooth, with seamless relationships whether at work or at home. But what disappoints me is people’s’ unwillingness to recognize their shortcomings and make a change because they feel self-entitled. I’ve had many “character building experiences” in my life (to say it mildly), and I’ve learned which battles are worth fighting and which battles are not. My husband and I decided that we are breaking the chains of the past and foraging a new frontier. We don’t care who judges us because we’ve made our successes happen through hard work, communication, and integrity. Yes, it’s scary, but knowing you have each other as a support system means you can tackle life’s biggest and most rewarding challenges, together, instead of letting them divide you.
Bethenny’s book isn’t re-inventing the wheel, but I love how personal she is, how open she is, especially as guarded as she used to be.
She uses this forum, in addition to her successful show on Bravo, to show people how they can break the chains of the past and turn the corner toward a life full of yes!
“I once read a quote in a book called Competition, that said, ‘Your opponent, in the end, is never really the player on the other side of the net, or the swimmer in the next lane, or the team on the other side of the field. Your opponent is yourself, your negative internal voices, your level of determination.” You have to stay in your lane. If you keep looking to the left and to the right to see what everyone else is doing, you slow down and lose your momentum. In any kind of competition, if you keep your mind on you and not on anybody else, you stay focused and efficient. “
I am so happy for all her success, how she continues to work toward balancing her life as a wife, mother, business woman and public figure. I will continue to root for her because she is a great role model, especially for young women coming into their own from either a troubled childhood or troubled relationships. I definitely recommend you pick up A Place of Yes and learn to say NO a little more, like I did. =)
9 down, 17 to go!
Up Next: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
Book S: Fabookulous April 27, 2011
Julia and Michael meet in high school in their small, poverty-stricken West Virginia hometown. Both products of difficult childhoods — Julia’s father is a compulsive gambler and Michael’s mother abandoned his family when he was a young boy – they find a sense of safety and mutual understanding in each other. Shortly after graduation they flee West Virginia to start afresh. Now thirty-somethings, they are living a rarified life in their multi-million-dollar,Washington D.C. home. From the outside it all looks perfect – Julia has become a highly sought-after party planner, while Michael has launched a wildly successful flavored water company that he sold for $70 million.
But one day Michael stands up at the head of the table in his company’s boardroom — then silently crashes to the floor. More than four minutes later, a portable defibrillator manages to jump-start his heart. Yet what happened to Michael during those lost minutes forever changes him. Money is meaningless to him now – and he wants to give it all away to charity. A prenuptial agreement that Julia insisted upon back when Michael’s company was still struggling means she has no claim to his fortune, and now she must decide: should she walk away from the man she once adored, but who truthfully became a stranger to her long before his near-death experience – or should she give in to her husband’s pleas for a second chance and a promise of a poorer but happier life?
Wow, I just realized how long it’s been since I finished a book. The craziness of life has kept me MIA…until now. I’ve finally been able to finish Sarah Pekkanen’s latest novel, Skipping a Beat. Last year, both LibraryLove and I reviewed her first book, The Opposite of Me, and this year has brought us more from the ever witty and charming Pekkanen. I can say without a doubt that I enjoyed this book so much more than the first one! It really is amazing how much writers can change in just one year or between one novel. This one kept my attention (granted, it also had a couple of months of it since I was reading at the pace of molasses this time around.) But anyway, this was an interesting story for a couple of reasons.
A unique story line, Michael cheats death and is given a second chance at life. (By the way, nonfiction books of the same topic seem to be creeping up more and more, but I digress. I think I made clear my feelings on that with my review of Heaven is for Real) Something that struck me is that neither of the main characters seemed to have any belief or faith in an afterlife or any higher being, but alas, that’s not the point either. When Michael is given his second chance, he makes drastic changes to his lifestyle without discussing them with Julia (the marriage seems very business-like) and Julia doesn’t exactly seem in love with her husband, much less affectionate toward him. Readers will be pleased to see Julia warm toward her husband throughout the story as she simultaneously navigates new waters with him and reminisces over a love once lost between them.
I appreciate Pekkanen’s witty voice and her sense of humor and there are laugh out loud moments where you just can’t help but chuckle. It seems to come so natural for Sarah. A truly entertaining author, Sarah Pekkanen continues to create stories you can lose yourself in and absorb. I would have liked to have seen more with Isabelle and what happened with her situation and think that would be a fun story in itself! (Hint, hint…) It was nice that Julia and Isabelle kept a close friendship because both Julia and Michael’s worlds were so work-oriented. In the DC area that’s not hard to do, but it’s always refreshing when there is that someone close you can support and lean on during tough times.
All in all, I really enjoyed this 2nd work from Sarah and I look forward to reading more of her novels. And hopefully, also to picking up steam with this year’s challenge!
Other Sarah Pekkanen book reviews on Year of the Bookwormz:
Fabookulous’ Review of The Opposite of Me
LibraryLove’s Review of The Opposite of Me
LibraryLove’s Review of Skipping a Beat (spoiler alert at the end)
Book H: LibraryLove April 23, 2011
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua
Book description~ All decent parents want to do what’s best for their children. What Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother reveals is that the Chinese just have a totally different idea of how to do that. Western parents try to respect their children’s individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions and providing a nurturing environment. The Chinese believe that the best way to protect your children is by preparing them for the future and arming them with skills, strong work habits, and inner confidence. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother chronicles Chua’s iron-willed decision to raise her daughters, Sophia and Lulu, her way-the Chinese way-and the remarkable results her choice inspires.
The truth is Lulu and Sophia would never have had time for a playdate. They were too busy practicing their instruments (two to three hours a day and double sessions on the weekend) and perfecting their Mandarin. Of course no one is perfect, including Chua herself. Witness this scene:
“According to Sophia, here are three things I actually said to her at the piano as I supervised her practicing:
1. Oh my God, you’re just getting worse and worse.
2. I’m going to count to three, then I want musicality.
3. If the next time’s not PERFECT, I’m going to take all your stuffed animals and burn them!”
But Chua demands as much of herself as she does of her daughters. And in her sacrifices-the exacting attention spent studying her daughters’ performances, the office hours lost shuttling the girls to lessons-the depth of her love for her children becomes clear. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother is an eye-opening exploration of the differences in Eastern and Western parenting- and the lessons parents and children everywhere teach one another.
Question 1- when did “doing what’s best for your children” equate to “forcing your kids to be what you want them to be”??? Question 2- what ever happened to unstructured free time to let kids just BE KIDS?!?!? Question 3- where was Jed the father throughout this story? He basically took a backseat. I believe parenting should be shared between a mother and father when a couple is married.
For starters, I did not like this book. This book was chosen by the book club I am in and our discussion next week should be extremely controversial and interesting to say the least. This book made me cringe and get very upset. However, because this is a memoir and because parenting is an EXTREMELY hot button topic, I’m going to keep my review as brief as possible. I don’t blog to ruffle feathers, incite a riot, or hurt loved ones. This blog is just something fun and lighthearted for Fabookulous and I to journal our adventures through books. Furthermore, it’s not my place to tell anyone how to parent or not parent their own children. The beauty of our country is the freedom to live your dreams and raise a family according to your beliefs. At the same time, we know many of you turn to this blog for book suggestions. At first, I was not going to write a review at all, but that defeats the point of only reviewing books I really liked.
Amy Chua (the Tiger Mother), believes in the extreme practice of Chinese Parenting. Here are some things Amy Chua would never allow her daughters to do:
-Have a playdate
-Be in a school play
-Complain about not being in a school play
-Not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
-Play any instrument other than the piano or violin
-Not play the piano or violin
Shocked yet? Yeah, that’s only the beginning.
One thing that scares me most about the Chinese Model of extreme parenting is that I believe it raises codependent children. Codependency is a disorder that will affect you later on in life, and in your interpersonal relationships. Have you ever met someone that apologized profusely for the slightest thing? Or was overly timid and needed approval of others to feel confident? I believe this model is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This model illustrates individuals who want people think their children are so smart and talented that they are forced into the rigors of unhealthiness in their hobbies, studies and extra-curricular activities. Codependency can manifest later in life through anxiety disorders, alcoholism and drug use because over 18 years of this model, children grow into adults that have only known how to put their own feelings/thoughts/desires/wants secondary to appease/please others. When finally they are out on their own, they have no idea how to navigate a life that makes THEM happy; they’re completely out of touch with their own drive in life.
Basically, codependent children live to make their parents happy and for their parents’ approval. This is an extremely tough concept for people to wrap their minds around but it happens daily as you bargain with your children. In my heart, I genuinely believe the Chinese Model of parenting raises generations of codependency, low self-esteem and subservience. No, I don’t have a degree in psychology but this is an area I have much life experience with.
Take my review with a grain of salt and read the book for yourself so you can decide. Then take some time and reflect back on the relationships you have or have had in the past, and the way you were brought up and you may begin to draw some seriously scary parallels. I freely admit that I have no answers or a magic bullet on how to raise children. This is something my husband and I will define for ourselves over a lifetime of trial and error. However, what I believe to be a helpful model is to expose your children to lots of different things and eventually they will find a niche that will build confidence instead of expecting them to find confidence because you told them so. I hope to find the wisdom and practice that will enable my children to be strong, independent people who make up their own minds.
I’m not going to say anymore; I’ll let you be your own judge. =)
8 down, 18 to go!
Up next, A Place of Yes by Bethenny Frankel
Book F: LibraryLove April 17, 2011
Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
Book description~ love can redeem a man…but secrets and lies can condemn him.A handsome stranger comes to the sleepy New England town of Salem Falls in hopes of burying his past: once a teacher at a girls’ prep school, Jack St. Bride was destroyed when a student’s crush sparked a powder keg of accusation. Now, washing dishes for Addie Peabody at the Do-Or-Diner, he slips quietly into his new routine, and Addie finds this unassuming man fitting easily inside her heart. But amid the rustic calm of Salem Falls, a quartet of teenage girls harbor dark secrets — and they maliciously target Jack with a shattering allegation. Now, at the center of a modern-day witch hunt, Jack is forced once again to proclaim his innocence: to a town searching for answers, to a justice system where truth becomes a slippery concept written in shades of gray, and to the woman who has come to love him.
Wow. Jodi does it again. And yes, I do realize that I’m way behind as I’m reading this after all her other more recent works. But this, as my friends hypothesized, is now one of my all time favorite Jodi books right up with 19 Minutes. She has such an amazing gift for nuance and amazing character depth. I’m glad to have enjoyed her evolving style and much prefer the way she gives each character their own chapters in her current works, where in her older novels she just separates with a bit of space. It’s a bit more distracting with just a new paragraph when the character’s voice changes, making me appreciate her current style that much more.
Regardless of your beliefs about the legal system, the way she incorporates true-to-life courtroom drama into her novels is something that truly fascinates me. Her ability to not “preach” but rather show the reader all sides of each story is so unique, and not done nearly enough by modern authors. I feel like I’ve learned so much about courtroom happenings just from her books. She does amazing amounts of research to bring this town to its knees over a very controversial and always current topic, incorporating Wicca, teen angst, hormones gone crazy, family struggle, redemption and vindication all in one.
I just adored the dynamic between Addie and Jack. The mystery. The passion. One of my favorite moments was when Jack took it upon himself to break the chain of hurt and changed Chloe’s room . I loved Addie’s open heart and the way Jack brought redemption to her lost soul. This book carried me away with it and I really enjoyed the long stretches of time I had to devote to this book while traveling in airports throughout the last few days. My flights flew by (pun intended) because I was so intertwined in the characters of Salem Falls. Bottom line, this is a fantastic novel and timeless whether you read it when it was first published or 10 years from now. Th issues, the characters, the dynamics are forever apropos.
7 down, 19 to go!
In progress, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
Book Y: LibraryLove April 2, 2011
Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Book description~ Zoe Baxter has spent ten years trying to get pregnant, and after multiple miscarriages and infertility issues, it looks like her dream is about to come true – she is seven months pregnant. But a terrible turn of events leads to a nightmare – one that takes away the baby she has already fallen for; and breaks apart her marriage to Max. In the aftermath, she throws herself into her career as a music therapist – using music clinically to soothe burn victims in a hospital; to help Alzheimer’s patients connect with the present; to provide solace for hospice patients. When Vanessa – a guidance counselor — asks her to work with a suicidal teen, their relationship moves from business to friendship and then, to Zoe’s surprise, blossoms into love. When Zoe allows herself to start thinking of having a family, again, she remembers that there are still frozen embryos that were never used by herself and Max.
Meanwhile, Max has found peace at the bottom of a bottle – until he is redeemed by an evangelical church, whose charismatic pastor – Clive Lincoln – has vowed to fight the “homosexual agenda” that has threatened traditional family values in America. But this mission becomes personal for Max, when Zoe and her same-sex partner say they want permission to raise his unborn child. SING YOU HOME explores what it means to be gay in today’s world, and how reproductive science has outstripped the legal system. Are embryos people or property? What challenges do same-sex couples face when it comes to marriage and adoption? What happens when religion and sexual orientation – two issues that are supposed to be justice-blind – enter the courtroom? And most importantly, what constitutes a “traditional family” in today’s day and age?
After recently reading 19 Minutes by Jodi Picoult ( pronounced Pee-KOE), I didn’t think I could like another of her novels as much…then I read Sing You Home, and I ate my words. This novel is incredible in every way. Before I get into the meat of my review of the actual novel, I want to share with you what made my reading experience even richer this time around; the experience I shared with some of my book club babes at the book release event for Sing You Home we attended in DC two weeks ago at the 6th & I St. Synagogue Cultural Center. The event was unlike all the other book events I’d ever attended and probably will attend. The event was at a synagogue and cultural center, which in itself alone expanded the horizons of many. Just because you do not relate to one religious group or another, tolerance of others beliefs, I believe, is paramount in being a good member of society and leading by example. The setting was a perfect backdrop for an evening of thought-provoking discussion about our current societal intolerance. Naturally, the idea that Picoult and her team wanted to show acceptance in the scene of the event, I thought, really spoke to the ideals in the book she was promoting.
The event was also not a standard vanilla reading, Q&A, and signing. Instead, it was an actual live interview between Picoult and a very well-known columnist from The Washington Post newspaper. The interview was insightful, thought-provoking, and truly an evening that left me feeling changed. In typical fashion, the girls and I made an event out of it so we got into town plenty early, dined in ChinaTown and then camped out on the steps of the cultural center and were first in line for the event. About 30 minutes after us, the line was wrapped around the city blocks. Picoult draws a crowd wherever she goes! This afforded us the ability to not only be front and center but we also got to meet Picoult before anyone else (and got us out of there at a reasonable hour for a work night)! Having read more than a handful of Picoult’s novels, we were all impressed with the interviewer; he really knew the body of Picoult’s works and had such great questions that spurred fantastic dialogue about truly controversial topics. Picoult also shared with the audience that one of her sons is gay and it is her moral, ethical, maternal obligation to raise awareness for tolerance around the country and for generations to come. What gave me an even deeper appreciation for Picoult as an author and an artist, was the fact that she stressed how in her books, her goal is NEVER to sway you or convince you or preach right and wrong. But what she does is try to make you, the reader, walk in someone else’s shoes and learn about a viewpoint you may have ignored. Through this, you will hopefully learn acceptance of others regardless if they believe what you do, or live the way you do, or even love the way you do. You may believe one thing. But is it your right to dictate your neighbor’s beliefs? If it were only that simple, we’d have no hate crimes.
I digress…the event was also so unique because it was the first novel I’ve ever known that used mixed media; Picoult wanted the main character, Zoe, to have a real voice. Picoult wrote 9 original songs to each accompany the 9 chapters of the novel. Her friend and musician performed at the end of the interview portion of the event before the Q&A session, bringing Zoe’s voice to life. Even cooler? The CD of all 9 songs was included in the flap of the novel for everyone to enjoy in tandem with their reading experience!
Ok, so the book! Wow, wow, wow. Not even sure where to go begin because this book was SO incredibly thorough and spanned so many controversial topics, all woven and paced SO impeccably it left my head spinning (in a good way)! Obviously as you know from reading my reviews, I don’t rehash the books’ events, I rather react to them. You can tell by the description blurb up above if it’s a book you want to read or not. So with that, the shear idea of reproductive rights and embryo donation alone would’ve been more than enough fodder for an entire novel. But then add to it gay rights, radical religious viewpoints, abortion, the power of music therapy on teens on the edge of suicide, whether a zygote or embryo are considered a life, where the love goes when a marriage dissolves, and how these issues play out in a court of law will leave you with paper cuts you’ll be turning the pages so fast (or a blister from pressing your e-readers)!
“Once, Zoe and I went to a wedding of one of her clients. It was a Jewish wedding, and it was really beautiful- with trappings and traditions I had never seen before. Th bride and groom stood under a canopy, and the prayers were in an unfamiliar language. at the end, the rabbi had the groom stomp on a wineglass wrapped in a napkin. May your marriage last as long as it would take to put these pieces back together, he said. Afterward, when everyone was congratulating the couple, I sneaked underneath the canopy and took a tiny shard of glass from the napkin where it still lay on the grass. I threw it into the ocean on the way home, so that, no matter what, that glass could never be reconstructed, so the couple would stay together forever. When Zoe asked what I was doing and I told her, she said she thought she loved me more in that moment than she ever had before.”
What I loved most about this novel and her other works is just how ridiculously fair Picoult can be as a writer. My favorite thing about her writing style, that many have started to copy, is how each of her character’s get their own voice as the book is told from each of the main character’s perspectives. It’s amazing how Picoult is able to craft their voices and develop their characters so distinctly from one another. This allows the reader to feel such compassion for both the protagonist and antagonist simultaneously, even if you never thought you’d see eye-to-eye with certain life viewpoints. Picoult is never afraid to tackle the controversy of our modern world, but she does it with grace, elegance, and respect. Oh, and the ending? So incredibly satisfying, like a cold drink of water in the desert.
If you’ve never read a “Jodi Book”, I recommend starting with My Sister’s Keeper. It’ll pull you in and leave you breathless. Eventually work your way through Change of Heart, 19 Minutes, then make your way to Sing You Home; you will not be disappointed!
6 down, 20 to go!
Book W: Fabookulous March 31, 2011
When she was thrown out of the penthouse she shared with her husband and their sons, Gabby didn’t know if she’d ever find a soft place to land. But after seeking refuge at the shelter where she works, extraordinary things happen as she is reintroduced to God.
From the ashes of her marriage comes the House of Hope–a safe haven for homeless moms and their children.
But now those ashes of her destroyed marriage are being stirred again. When her long-gone husband’s life hits rock bottom, he reappears and asks for one more chance. And Gabby faces what feels like an impossible choice. Take him back. Or keep moving forward without him. Toward someone new who hasn’t betrayed her.
Is God redeeming what Gabby thought was gone forever? Or is He leading her down a different path and giving her something–and someone– new?
The fourth, and final, book in the House of Hope series by Neta Jackson, Who Is My Shelter? will leave readers satisfied and fulfilled for having come along this journey with Gabby. The series opens with Gabby being kicked out of her penthouse apartment and with nowhere to go. As she begins to find herself and rediscover God, she starts to find fulfillment on her own. She realizes she is a strong woman and she rebuilds a life for herself that takes her places she couldn’t have imagined. Life has a way of working like that, doesn’t it?
(Last year I reviewed the 3rd book, Who Do I Lean On? as part of the 52 book challenge…check out the review for more)
When the tables turn completely and Phillip finds himself in trouble, in need, and searching to find his own way, he comes to Gabby. The readers will appreciate a softer side to Phillip as it was easy not to like him early on. But once he reaches out to better himself as a man, a husband, and a father, it’s endearing to see how God can work all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Without giving too much away, I will say the prologue introduces a rather predictable side story, but that’s ok, it’s still fun to watch it unfold. I’ll miss the women of the House of Hope and Manna House; I’ve spent a couple of years now waiting to see what was happening with them. But all in all, I enjoyed this series and I would recommend it for those who enjoy Christian fiction or just a good story.
It’s been a busy year for me so far so hopefully I’ll get back on the bandwagon here with the A-Z challenge! Thanks for following us into 2011…many more reviews coming soon!
Book G: LibraryLove March 16, 2011
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Book description~ Jeannette Walls’s father always called her “Mountain Goat” and there’s perhaps no more apt nickname for a girl who navigated a sheer and towering cliff of childhood both daily and stoically. In The Glass Castle, Walls chronicles her upbringing at the hands of eccentric, nomadic parents – Rose Mary, her frustrated-artist mother and Rex, her brilliant, alcoholic father. To call the elder Walls’s childrearing style laissez faire would be putting it mildly. As Rose Mary and Rex, motivated by whims and paranoia, uprooted their kids time and again, the youngsters (Walls, her brother and two sisters) were left largely to their own devices. But while Rex and Rose Mary firmly believed children learned best from their own mistakes, they themselves never seemed to do so, repeating the same disastrous patterns that eventually landed them on the streets.
Walls describes in fascinating detail what it was to be a child in this family, from the embarrassing (wearing shoes held together with safety pins; using markers to color her skin in an effort to camouflage holes in her pants) to the horrific (being told, after a creepy uncle pleasured himself in close proximity, that sexual assault is a crime of perception; and being pimped by her father at a bar). Though Walls has well earned the right to complain, at no point does she play the victim. In fact, Walls’ removed, nonjudgmental stance is initially startling, since many of the circumstances she describes could be categorized as abusive (and unquestioningly neglectful). But on the contrary, Walls respects her parents’ knack for making hardships feel like adventures, and her love for them — despite their overwhelming self-absorption — resonates from cover to cover.
When you’re hungry, you reach for the pantry. When you’re tired, you crawl into your soft bed. When you feel dirty, you take a shower. When you’re thirsty, you open the fridge for refreshment. When you’re cold you reach for a blanket…well…not if your Jeannette, Lori, Brian, Maureen, Rose Mary or Rex Walls you don’t…
Never have I felt more humbled than when I closed the book on this unbelievable account of the Wall’s family struggles throughout the decades. Sure, we’ve all had our ups and downs and family struggles; I’ve definitely had more than my fair share. But after The Glass Castle, you too will completely rethink the simple pleasures and niceties your life has bestowed upon you and be truly in awe at the human ability to overcome.
The Glass Castle is written from Jeannette’s first person point of view and she so candidly shares her family’s past riddled with alcoholism, abandonment all colored as “liberalism” from her parent’s eyes. Some of the scenes are down right painful while others are astonishing, but I urge you to pick this up and read it; you won’t be able to put it down. I wanted to scream through the pages at Jeannette’s mother at times, shocked at how ignorant some people can truly be. I could relate to Jeannette on so many levels, especially her inner drive and ability to focus on what was ahead of her, rather than dwell in self-pity over what could have been. This book has been on my TBR for sometime now, after a friend and her fiancée attended Walls’ book signing event last year in Walls’ now nearby hometown of Culpeper, VA.
I’d forgotten about this book until it was chosen as this month’s discussion selection for book club. Although it’s pretty unfair to critique someone’s life story, I can certainly critique Walls’ writing style, which I thought was delightful and so optimistic despite the hardships Jeannette and her family faced. I can’t wait to pick up Walls’ other book, Half Broke Horses, about the life of her grandparents.
“Dad was lighting his cigarette. I waved, and he waved back. Then he shoved his hands in his pockets, the cigarette dangling from his mouth, and stood there, slightly stoop-shouldered and distracted looking. I wondered if he was remembering how he, too, had left Welch full of vinegar at age seventeen just as convinced as I was now that he’d never return. I wondered if he was hoping that his favorite girl would come back, or if he was hoping that, unlike him, she would make it out for good.”
Discussing the idea of how awesomely this memoir would translate to film, one of the book club babes and I came up with a few Hollywood celebs that we think would perfectly fit some of the main characters. Who do you think could best play the Walls’ family?
Billy Bob Thornton as Rex Walls
Juliette Lewis as Rose Mary
Abigail Breslan as the young Jeannette
Dakota Fanning as the older Maureen (think Cherie Curry from The Runaways)
Maybe Thora Burch for Lori although Lori is a bit of a ? for me…
Channing Tatum possibly as Brian??
4 down, 22 to go!