Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #7: LibraryLove January 30, 2010

unSweetined by Jodie Sweetin

Book description: Once Danny Tanner’s bubbly daughter on America’s favorite family sitcom, Jodie Sweetin takes readers behind the scenes of Full House and shares her terrifying — and uplifting — real-life story of addiction and recovery. Jodie Sweetin grew up in front of America, melting our hearts and making us laugh for eight years as the cherub-faced middle child on Full House. Her ups and downs seemed not so different from our own, but more than a decade after the popular television show ended, the star we knew as goody-two-shoes Stephanie Tanner publicly revealed her shocking recovery from methamphetamine addiction. Even then, Jodie still kept a painful secret — one that could not be solved in thirty minutes with a hug, a stern talking-to, or a bowl of ice cream around the family table. The harrowing battle she swore she had won was really just beginning. In her deeply personal, utterly raw, and ultimately inspiring memoir, Jodie comes clean about the double life she led — the crippling identity crisis that began at her birth, the hidden anguish of juggling a regular childhood with her Hollywood life, and the vicious cycle of abuse and recovery that led to a relapse even as she wrote this book. Jodie traveled the country speaking to college kids about her triumph over substance abuse, yet she partied nightly, spending tens of thousands of dollars on her habit. Her addiction tore her family apart and alienated her from her former Full House cast mates until becoming a mother gave her the determination and the courage to get sober.

Full House was one of my all time favorite shows growing up. Jodie Sweetin, who played Stephanie Tanner, was my favorite character of the show. Being the same age, I felt like I was growing up with her and could relate to the situations she was in on the show, eventhough my life didn’t just tie itself up in a little bow after 30 minutes a week.

Like many child actors, throughout her teens and 20s, Jodie continues the life-long struggle with purpose, managing the neverending cashflow and party scene. Jodie’s blunt and honest memoir, unSweetined, shockingly detailed her still ongoing battle with drug addiction and alcoholism, in and out of various SoCal rehab centers, and her struggle for acceptance, power, and identity.  I had no idea she fought as much as she did with substance abuse, nor did the media until recently. In her book she writes about how she “flew under the radar”, even showing up to motivational speaking engagements at various universities high as a kite on methanphetamine, after a 4-day bender, spouting empty rhetoric about her quest for sobriety. She even fell off the sobriety wagon while writing her book. This memoir was eye-opening and gave me in-depth look into the life of someone my own age, who walked a very different path than I have.

It’s easy to watch TV and envy the fame, fortune, and neverending “free pass” to behave however you chose like celebrities often do. It’s times like those embarrassing and humbling ones Jodie describes in her book that make me appreciate my (fairly) anonymous life compared to being a child star like she was. Although she still battles sobriety on a daily basis, I’m glad for Sweetin that she has the strength of her family to get her through each day and look to the next with optimism and she hopes to give her daughter the life she never had. Although this book wasn’t lifechanging, I give Sweetin so much credit for opening up and coming to terms with her struggle. I recommend this book as a quick read for any Gen Y’ers who grew up with shows like Full House.

7 down, 45 to go!

4/5 stars

On deck…Olive Kitteridge (Audiobook) and Keeping the House

Xoxo,  LibraryLove


Book #4: Fabookulous January 29, 2010

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Book description: Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

A short fable and a very quick read, The Alchemist follows Santiago on his pursuit of his Personal Legend. As we all know, life experiences are changed and shaped based on who we meet, what we experience, how we learn, and how we apply the new information to our lives and our realities.  Each person Santiago meets shares new wisdom with him that change and add value to his Personal Legend. As he learns to listen to his heart, his quest becomes more endearing as he fights struggles within himself.

I’ve been wanting to read this book for a while because of so many others telling me how amazing it was and that I should definitely read it. I suppose it’s just that kind of build up that can set you up for disappointment. Though I wouldn’t say I was disappointed in the book, I don’t feel it changed my life in any dramatic way. Most of the wisdom Santiago’s new friends shared with him based on ‘ancient history’ or a ‘man who lived long ago’ came from familiar Bible stories. And in that regard, I believe there is much to learn from stories of those in the Bible. Which is probably why the end of the book was meaningful to me. Santiago used that wisdom and learned to follow his heart and use prayer to achieve his dreams. And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

4/5 stars.

That makes 4 books read, 48 to go!

Happy reading,



Book #6: LibraryLove January 28, 2010

The Alchemist by Paul0 Coelho

Book description: Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world, and this tenth anniversary edition, with a new introduction from the author, will only increase that following. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasures found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

What’s your personal legend? Are you living your dreams? What are you doing today that is getting you one step closer to fulfilling those lifelong aspirations? What goals did you accomplish when you were a child that shaped who you are today? What things do you still want to do? These are all questions that I wish we took more time out to ponder and maybe even share with friends as conversation starters. The Alchemist takes us along for Santiago’s ride through self discovery through a lighthearted fable about following through with dreams and tuning in to life’s simplicities along the way.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned to truly listen to my gut. I get into this fun habit of sharing my “predictions” with my husband and close friends. A classic Hillzism is “Mark my words, insert prediction/gut feeling here”. Then when it comes to fruition, I love to recognize it. Why? Sure it may sound silly, but I wish more of us would go with our gut instinct, our inner voices. When something feels a bit off, I employ the “when in doubt, don’t” ideology. Or when the “I’m just not feelin’ it” or “I didn’t get a good vibe. I didn’t get a warm and fuzzy” sets in, I’m quick to recognize. I’ve gotten much more in tune with my inner voice which has guided me to make really sound decisions both in life, love and in friendships that I am proud of. I stick to my guns and I think those around me appreciate the stability this brings. I wish more people were better at following through, to thyne own self be true. Albeit an OCD quality, yes I do recognize this, how truly satisfying it is for me to strike something from my “ta-da” list when it’s done. Or how rewarding it is to look at my home after I’ve spent an entire day cleaning from top to bottom, yes baseboards too!, and feel a sense of pride. Why not challenge ourselves to feel that sense of accomplishment every single day and make someone else feel good??

I could relate a lot to Santiago, The Alchemist’s main character. His quest for meaning, truth, and treasures introduce him to three ‘forces’, a Gypsy, a king, and an alchemist. There was a lot of symbolism in this story, especially behind each of the three characters he meets, hence it’s position as a fable. But moreso, it made me stop and think about my life and what 3 forces, 3 experiences, 3 moments in time that changed the direction of my personal journey altogether, and for the better. I am so fortunate to have such an amazing personal network of friends that facilitate me living my dreams and always support me whatever I do, in part because they know when I say I’m going to do something, I actually DO follow through, it’s not just a pie-in-the-sky hair-brained scheme (although I’ve had those too!). There’s a funny card at Hallmark that I wish was my personal mantra and it makes me think of Santiago. The cover shows an image of two dogs, one large, one small, each with suitcases in their mouths at a train station. The inside reads “It’s not about where you’re going, but who you’re going with”. This card makes me smile every time I see it. It evokes the sense that life isn’t about checking the box, but about how the people you meet change your life in subtle or dramatic ways. I draw strength from each of my friends in different ways. My dynamic with each is unique and I love that. From the way we talk on the phone to the way we communicate in other ways, and the depth of our relationship. My life is never a dull place because I’ve got an amazing group of folks to share it with that make me a better person just for knowing each of them.

Santiago quickly discovers through his travels, the beauty and power of the “other worldly” treasures lie within. Although a bit juvenile and geared towards younger readers, I would recommend The Alcheist for a quick and light read while on travel, poolside, as a “palate cleanser” between “intense books”, or an uplifting book to share with your tween/young adult embarking on high school or college.

I’m curious to see what Fa-BOOK-ulous thinks, this is our first simultaneous read in 2010. Stay tuned for her review.

4/5 stars

6 down, 46 to go…

On deck, unSweetined by Jodie Sweetin and Olive Kitteridge (audiobook)




Library Trend Spotlight:: Around the world through books! January 26, 2010

Filed under: Library Trend Spotlight — bookworms2010 @ 5:52 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Need book suggestions?
Look no further than my fellow blogger, A Striped Armchair, and her blog:
Check out her Travel By Books 2009 wrap up.
What a fun and inventive way to read books from around the globe!




Book #5: LibraryLove

Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

Book description:
For the second time in her marriage, Mariah White catches her husband with another woman, and Faith, their seven-year-old daughter, witnesses every painful minute. In the aftermath of a sudden divorce, Mariah struggles with depression and Faith seeks solace in a new friend — a friend who may or may not be imaginary. Faith talks to her “Guard” constantly and begins to recite passages from the Bible — a book she’s never read. Fearful for her daughter’s sanity, Mariah sends her to several psychiatrists. Yet when Faith develops stigmata and begins to perform miraculous healings, Mariah wonders if her daughter — a girl with no religious background — might indeed be seeing God. As word spreads and controversy heightens, Mariah and Faith are besieged by believers and disbelievers alike; they are caught in a media circus that threatens what little stability they have left. What are you willing to believe? Is Faith a prophet or a troubled little girl? Is Mariah a good mother facing an impossible crisis…or a charlatan using her daughter to reclaim the attention her unfaithful husband withheld? As the story builds to a climactic battle for custody, Mariah must discover that spirit is not necessarily something that comes from religion but from inside oneself. Fascinating, thoughtful, and suspenseful, Keeping Faith explores a family plagued by the media, the medical profession, and organized religion in a world where everyone has an opinion but no one knows the truth. At her controversial and compelling best, Jodi Picoult masterfully explores the moment when boundaries break down, when illusions become reality, and when the only step left to take is a leap of faith.

Passionate, convincing, logical and rational– these are all words to describe a person who is trying to sway you to drink the kool-aid you’re not buying. When I truly believe in something or someone, I tell everyone in my network, and with gusto. Now, those that know me would agree , even probably citing a few examples of products, places, things, ideas that I’ve been so passionate about, I’ve gotten them to drink that kool-aid as well, and they were thankful for it. Likewise, I have a minimal BS tolerance policy and consider myself a pretty good judge of character.

Imagine for a moment that someone you trust and love completely, told you they were communicating directly with God, just as you’d sit and talk over coffee with a friend or a co-worker, free flowing and back and forth. What would you say?

What then, if they started mysteriously healing people of HIV, resurrecting people, at the drain of their own health? Or suddenly experiencing stigmata for the first time in history since St. Francis of Assisi to the sheer and utter confusion of any/all medical professionals and modern scientific journals accessible? Oh wait, also try to imagine that said individual is seven years old and their parents are in the thick of a heated divorce and no one will listen to them…herein lies the plot for Jodi Picoult’s (pronounced Pee-KOE) Keeping Faith.

She paints yet another amazing work of art craftfully and gently, with the assistance from rabbinicals, Catholic priests and theologians of many spiritual walks so we may look inside ourselves and for once consider the following; “what if what you believed wasn’t as important as that you believed? What if we were all able to entertain someone else’s point of view about God?” Personally? I think the world would be a better place. We’d have a lot less war and killing and genocide. We could coexist, as Ghandi intended, freely practicing our beliefs, while compartmentalizing so as to not throw off the delicate balance of peace. Sounds simple right? Ha, think again.

Picoult’s thorough novel begs the question, in a thought-provoking yet socially responsible way– “Why can’t we be spiritual without being religious?” And why is keeping our own faith so damn difficult? This is now my 3rd Picoult novel and I’d recommend you try Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult, giving yourself a few weeks to read something else to cleanse your “reader’s palate”.

5/5 Stars
On deck: UnSweetined and The Alchemist (iPod Audiobook)
5 down, 47 to go…




Book #3: Fabookulous

A Little Bit Wicked: Life, Love, and Faith in Stages by Kristin Chenoweth

Book description: You might know her as a Tony Award-winning Broadway star, who originated the role of Galinda the Good Witch in the smash musical ‘Wicked’ and won a Tony for 1999’s ‘You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown’. Or you may recognize her from her starring roles on TV- ‘The West Wing’, ‘Pushing Daisies’, ‘Sesame Street’…oh, and her Huge Hit Sitcom ‘Kristin’ on NBC. (Huge hit. L.A. breast-implant huge. Ask either of the people who watched it.) Or maybe you saw her sexy spread in FHM magazine? Or her appearance on Pat Robertson’s ‘The 700 Club’? Kristin is a wonderful collection of contradictions- but everyone who’s ever met her remembers her as the little girl with the big voice. At four foot eleven, Kristin Chenoweth is an immense talent in a petite but powerful package.
In this lively, laugh-out-loud book, Kristin shares her journey from Oklahoma beauty queen to Broadway leading lady, reflecting on how faith and family have kept her grounded in the dysfunctional rodeo of show biz. The daughter of an engineer and a nurse, Kristin was singing in front of thousands at Baptist conventions by age twelve and winning beauty pageants by age twenty-two. (Well, actually she was second runner-up almost every freaking time. But, hey, she’s not bitter.) On her way to a career as a professional opera singer, she stopped in New York to visit a friend and went on a whim to an audition. Through a combination of talent, hard work, and (she’s quick to add) the grace of God, Kristin took Broadway by storm. But of course, into every storm, the occassional drizzle of disaster must fall.
Filled with wit, wisdom, and backstage insight, A Little Bit Wicked is long on love and short on sleep; it’s essential reading for Kristin’s legions of fans and an uplifting story for anyone seeking motivation to follow his or her dreams- over the rainbow and beyond.

Ok, this book was fantastic! Kristin Chenoweth is hilarious and this book was a laugh out loud read the entire time. Not a full fledged autobiography, this book tells stories of her life and career and how her faith and finding love played into it thus far. She is proud to be from Oklahoma and proud to be a Christian in Hollywood, though not everyone agrees with her views; this is detailed further in the book.
I loved this book, I loved Kristin’s stories, I loved her attitude and positive outlook, I love her friendship with her best friend Denny (who I’d like to meet now), and I recommend this book to anyone looking to get to know a laid back, dedicated, very talented, ambitious woman in Hollywood. She might only stand 4 feet and 11 inches tall but she is a talent powerhouse that has no limits.

5 out of 5 stars.

Closin’ the books on #3…49 to go for me!



Book #4: LibraryLove

The Penderwicks on Gardham Street by Jeanne Birdsall

Book description: The Penderwick sisters are home on Gardam Street and ready for an adventure! But the adventure they get isn’t quite what they had in mind. Mr. Penderwick’s sister has decided it’s time for him to start dating and the girls know that can only mean one thing: disaster. Enter the Save-Daddy Plan a plot so brilliant, so bold, so funny, that only the Penderwick girls could have come up with it. It’s high jinks, big laughs, and loads of family warmth as the Penderwicks triumphantly return.

This book came recommended with high praise by one of my beloved fellow Lit & The City book club members who is also a 2nd grade teacher coaching an elementary book club. It was available on audiobook at my library so I happily gave it a listen. “Wait, hold on, you’re reading an elementary school book?” you may be thinking. Chillax, no, I didn’t regress back into my strawberry shortcake roller skate days (despite my immense desire to do so). But yes, I did read a young adult book and loved it. “But why?” Welp…ya see…the challenge that Fa-book-ulous and I embarked upon for 2010 is not just to read 52 books. Sure, on the surface, that’s part of the challenge. However, the real idea is that the challenge will facilitate us expanding far beyond our literary comfort zones of one or two main genres, open up our minds and expand our horizons. Making reading a priority takes us beyond the point of casual reader and makes us bonafide bookworms, hence our monniker. Devoting more time to reading means we’re afforded the opportunity to read all kinds of books whether we end up loving them or hating them. There’s also something to be said about the time when a book finds you. Closing out 2009 with a streak of tear-jerking intense reads (The Lovely Bones, The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, Change of Heart, My Sister’s Keeper, Precious), it was time for something lighthearted and fun to brighten up the bitterly cold winter. The Penderwicks was exactly that. A lighthearted and fun tale of the Penderwick sisters, who hatch a plan to deter any future suitors from successfully falling in love with their father, recently widowed, who is trying to oblige his sister Claire by getting back out in to the dating scene. The girls don’t want their father to come home with a wicked stepmother. They realize their hijinks are making their father miserable and revise, along with the help of their newest next door neighbor, Iantha. Listening to this on audiobook was that much more enjoyable. The various voices the narrator made for the ranging ages of all four Penderwicks gals kept the hours flying by and with such fun. If you babysit teens or work with children, this would make a really fun slumber party/camp out book to share about the ups, twists and turns of a young family of girls just looking out for their dad, and the fun that ensues along the way.

5/5 stars

On deck on my iPod: The Alchemist (audiobook) + still bookin’ through Keeping The Faith….

4 down 48 to go!

Love and patronize your local library!

Xoxo, LibraryLove