Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #12: Fabookulous April 4, 2010

Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey

Book description:
Steve Harvey, the host of the nationally syndicated
Steve Harvey Morning Show, can’t count the number of impressive women he’s met over the years, whether it’s through the “Strawberry Letters” segment of his program or while on tour for his comedy shows. These are women who can run a small business, keep a household with three kids in tiptop shape, and chair a church group all at the same time. Yet when it comes to relationships, they can’t figure out what makes men tick. Why? According to Steve it’s because they’re asking other women for advice when no one but another man can tell them how to find and keep a man. In Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve lets women inside the mindset of a man and sheds light on concepts and questions such as:

  • The Ninety-Day Rule: Ford requires it of its employees. Should you require it of your man?
  • How to spot a mama’s boy and what if anything you can do about it.
  • When to introduce the kids. And what to read into the first interaction between your date and your kids.
  • The five questions every woman should ask a man to determine how serious he is.
  • And more…

Sometimes funny, sometimes direct, but always truthful, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man is a book you must read if you want to understand how men think when it comes to relationships.

Boy am I glad this book does not speak on behalf of all men. I do think Steve Harvey is funny and if this book were a stand-up comedy routine, then ok, it was entertaining. But since the cover claims he is “always truthful”, let me dive right in on why I didn’t like it.

First of all, Steve suggests so many ways women need to take a step back to let the man feel important, appreciated, and looked up to. Ok, I get that men need to feel needed. I understand there comes a sense of being and pride that comes from having a secure job and providing for your family; these things make sense. But what I don’t agree with is being told to be a weakling and not do things I am perfectly capable of in order to let the man have his pride. And there is a difference between romantic (the man opening the door for us when obviously we can get it) and silly (waiting for the man to go to Home Depot to get the tools even though we know what we need). Why does a women need to be completely helpless and NOT do things so the man can feel needed? The security should come from within…(hmmm, maybe read Beth Moore’s book So Long Insecurity??)

Secondly, Steve Harvey tells women we have “a good month or so” of not giving a man “the cookie” (you know what he means…) before he will find it somewhere else. Really?? A month? He does take a disclaimer by saying after you’ve had a baby, men understand there will be a 6 week recovery period. Well, gee, thank you for understanding. I find it offensive to suggest that if women don’t provide that “need”, a man will go somewhere else. And I felt like throughout the book, Steve made it sound like if your man ended up doing that, you had no one to blame but yourself. Later, he’d say he doesn’t promote cheating, but the argument was not convincing at all.

Third of all, WHAT THE HECK is all this talk about meeting the kids? I am going to tread lightly here because there are a lot of single parents in the world raising children because the father (or in some cases, the mother) was of no help or support and they are better without them. And in a perfect world, every child would be raised by two parents that loved and supported them deeply. Obviously, we see more and more single parents trying to do their best. But Steve argues instead of waiting to see if you are serious about someone before introducing them to your children, you need to bring them around sooner because if they don’t get along with the kids, it’s going to be a problem. I tend to disagree with this. Children do not need to get attached to every person their parent dates. Talk about confusion.

And it’s disappointing to read about the “baby mama drama” as if everyone out there is a single parent trying to find their mate. There was way too much talk about the children (for either a man or a woman) and maybe Steve is part of a blended family. But I gotta say, as harsh as it may be, by using some of the suggestions in this book, the pattern will probably be repeated.

I’m left to question the motives of a man who is ok with his wife giving up things she loves (ex: scuba diving) because he doesn’t like it and feels he can’t “protect” her when she “risks her life”. It’s a shame that he doesn’t see what’s wrong with that picture. So HE can feel like  man, his wife gives up what SHE enjoys and is even CERTIFIED in! Unreal…

Ladies, do NOT stop being strong and independent women. You can need your man and make him feel that way without pretending to be a weakling you are not, which in a twisted way is what I think Mr. Harvey defines as a “lady”. And if your man wanders to another woman, I’d argue he’s got other problems that don’t involve you. If he was in a committed relationship, he wouldn’t need to cheat.

Nobody is a relationship expert, and we all learn with each one. And sure, I may be more on the old fashioned side with some of my beliefs. But I definitely disagreed with a lot of ideas Steve Harvey writes about in this book. I would not recommend it for anyone, except maybe the “serial daters”. It’s good to have standards and put value on yourself and if you don’t already know that, this book could sober you up a bit.

Either way, I do not believe this is a groundbreaking relationship book. I don’t even think a lot of it is good advice. I was disappointed, at best.

2 out of 5 stars…


Happy Reading,
Fabookulous

 

Book #11: Fabookulous April 3, 2010

Big Girl by Danielle Steel

Book description:

In this heartfelt and incisive new novel, Danielle Steel celebrates the virtues of unconventional beauty while exploring deeply resonant issues of weight, self-image, sisterhood, and family.

A chubby little girl with blond hair, blue eyes, and ordinary looks, Victoria Dawson has always felt out of place in her family, especially in body-conscious L.A. Her father, Jim, is tall and slender, and her mother, Christina, is a fine-boned, dark-haired beauty. Both are self-centered, outspoken, and disappointed by their daughter’s looks. When Victoria is six, she sees a photograph of Queen Victoria, and her father has always said she looks just like her. After the birth of Victoria’s perfect younger sister, Gracie, her father liked to refer to his firstborn as “our tester cake.” With Gracie, everyone agreed that Jim and Christina got it right.

While her parents and sister can eat anything and not gain an ounce, Victoria must watch everything she eats, as well as endure her father’s belittling comments about her body and see her academic achievements go unacknowledged. Ice cream and oversized helpings of all the wrong foods give her comfort, but only briefly. The one thing she knows is that she has to get away from home, and after college in Chicago, she moves to New York City.

Landing her dream job as a high school teacher, Victoria loves working with her students and wages war on her weight at the gym. Despite tension with her parents, Victoria remains close to her sister. And though they couldn’t be more different in looks, they love each other unconditionally. But regardless of her accomplishments, Victoria’s parents know just what to say to bring her down. She will always be her father’s “big girl,” and her mother’s constant disapproval is equally unkind.

When Grace announces her engagement to a man who is an exact replica of their narcissistic father, Victoria worries about her sister’s future happiness, and with no man of her own, she feels like  a failure once again. As the wedding draws near, a chance encounter, an act of stunning betrayal, and a family confrontation lead to a turning point.

Behind Victoria is a lifetime of hurt and neglect she has tried to forget, and even ice cream can no longer dull the pain. Ahead is a challenge and a risk: to accept herself as she is, celebrate it, and claim the victories she has fought so hard for and deserves. Big girl or not, she is terrific and discovers that herself.

This book was my first Danielle Steel novel and I was very excited to read something she wrote. My mom has read most of her books and by the time she was my age, she had probably read about 30 of Danielle’s books. I’m fairly certain this isn’t your typical novel by the best selling author.

It reminded me of Jennifer Weiner books where typically the main character is overweight and has some self image issues. However, I think the story held its own throughout the book.

Victoria Dawson was a character easy to like and sympathize with. Her father was easy to hate. He never had anything positive to say to her and it was so frustrating that her mother was his puppet who went along with everything he said. Surprisingly, Victoria and her sister had an incredible bond despite the fact they had very different experiences with their parents. It’s pretty amazing Victoria didn’t grow bitter and hateful toward Gracie, who received nothing but praises from both of her parents.

At first I felt the story was written in a sort of rushed way because there were parts where the story skipped 4 or 5 years ahead. But later I found it worked really well for this novel so you could absorb the highlights and get to know the history of the characters.

I enjoyed reading about Victoria’s journey to finding who she is and learning how to love herself despite the fact that she had been told her whole life anything but. From leaving the family for college to life in New York where she makes new friends that support her and care for her, it’s easy to root for Victoria in this book.

Danielle Steel does a wonderful job at creating characters you could love, hate, want to slap, root for, laugh with, and roll your eyes at. I had all of those moments in reading this novel. An easy, laid back read, I am sure this is not the typical Danielle Steel book. And I would definitely be interested in reading more of her books.

4.5/5 stars


Happy Reading,

Fabookulous

 

Book #20: LibraryLove April 1, 2010

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

De Rosnay’s U.S. debut fictionalizes the 1942 Paris roundups and deportations, in which thousands of Jewish families were arrested, held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz. Forty-five-year-old Julia Jarmond, American by birth, moved to Paris when she was 20 and is married to the arrogant, unfaithful Bertrand Tézac, with whom she has an 11-year-old daughter. Julia writes for an American magazine and her editor assigns her to cover the 60th anniversary of the Vél’ d’Hiv’ roundups. Julia soon learns that the apartment she and Bertrand plan to move into was acquired by Bertrand’s family when its Jewish occupants were dispossessed and deported 60 years before. She resolves to find out what happened to the former occupants: Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski, parents of 10-year-old Sarah and four-year-old Michel. The more Julia discovers—especially about Sarah, the only member of the Starzynski family to survive—the more she uncovers about Bertrand’s family, about France and, finally, herself. Already translated into 15 languages, the novel is De Rosnay’s 10th (but her first written in English, her first language). It beautifully conveys Julia’s conflicting loyalties, and makes Sarah’s trials so riveting and her innocence so absorbing.

What countries come to mind when you think of the heinous events of the Holocaust and extermination of thousands of Jews during World War II?

I’d bet you a cookie that Paris France wasn’t on your short list. If you’re like me, I was not previously aware before reading this book, of the Paris roundups of 1942. Thousands of Jewish families (children and all) were arrested from their homes, held at the Vélodrome d’Hiver (Vel’ d’hiv for short) outside the city, then transported to Auschwitz internment camps for extermination. I knew France was involved in underground events along with Germany. Now I realize how large a roll French police played in the mass extermination of innocent Jews during the occupation- the black moment in France’s history. Immediately, I thought of the New Orlean’s SuperDome during Hurricane Katrina and how awful those conditions were. Newspaper articles compared the SuperDome to a ‘lawless concentration camp’ and I’ll never forget the headlines. Consider it a dramatically ironic parallel to the Holocaust. Dirty, fearful and exhausted. The stench of human feces, the close quarters, no access to the outside world; simply awful. Magnify your worst ideas exponentially; only then can you begin to grasp the atrocities that ensued for the folks trapped against their will at the Vel’ d’hiv. The difference- many of the folks who were temporarily displaced due to Katrina, which was an awful natural disaster, were provided aid and eventually survived. The same cannot be said for the innocent Jews of Paris, France who were held captive, then gassed, in the Vel’ d’hiv just for being Jewish. In Sarah’s Key, de Rosnay does a fabulous job weaving past (early 1942 WWII) and present (2002) together through her artful work. The book is paced just perfectly, switching between fictionalized 1942 (Sarah’s story) and 2002 (Julia’s story). I was glued to the pages and could NOT turn away. In Julia’s story, we follow an American-born journalist living in Paris with her family. In researching the 60th anniversary of the Vel’ d’hiv roundups for a work assignment, Julia learns through records that the apartment she and her husband plan to move into was once lived in by The Starzynski family. The Starzynski family along with thousands of others, were ripped from their apartments and exterminated after being held in the Vel’ d’hiv and shipped off to internment camps. The homes of these innocent families were then made available for whoever wanted to rent them immediately. Julia becomes fascinated by this idea and begins her quest to find information on Sarah Starzynski, the one family member whose name did not have additional information. Did Sarah escape the Vel’ d’Hiv alive? What happened to her? Was she still alive?

In Sarah’s story, we follow the 10-year-old as she escapes the Vel’ d’hiv. We don’t even know her name until almost halfway through the book. She’s “the girl” until she tells the kind farmers her name after they offer her refuge. This was strategically appropriate considering the topic. I felt de Rosnay kept Sarah “nameless” as a tool. It conveyed the pain of being ‘just another Jew’ carted off for extermination and the idea that you weren’t an individual with a name or with feelings because you were a Jew.

Sarah’s got an important reason to get back to her apartment, and fast! You won’t be able to turn the pages fast enough as Sarah and Julia’s lives intersect and Julia learns more secrets about her family, and herself as she deals with her own personal struggle. Probably the turning points for me were:  when Julia felt her moment of clarity- when everything clicked. I absolutely loved the scene when she gets the heck out of that clinic and felt the momentum pick up even more, and then the first scene with William in the cafe.  One criticism- I wish we would have continued to hear from Sarah periodically in the last third of the book. I know, I know. We’re not supposed to. But I really wanted to hear more 😦

I don’t want to give too much away because I know if you pick up this book, you will not put it down. But Sarah’s strength, Zoe’s maturity, and Julia’s drive to uncover the story are just three of the many reasons I loved this book and think you will too. Although painful to read at times, I recommend everyone read this book. Sarah’s Key brings the atrocities from the Vel’ d’Hiv to light so we ensure they NEVER happen again.

I can’t wait to check out other novels by Tatiana de Rosnay. Special thanks to two of my girlfriends, CCP and GFCB, for recommending this book.

4.5/5 stars

20 down, 32 to go!

In progress- House Rules and Atonement (audiobook)

Xo♥xo,

LibraryLove