Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

2010 Wrap Up: It’s all about the follow through! December 31, 2010

We made it! 52 books a piece. 52 weeks. Lots of sacrifice. PHEW. Challenge indeed.

We’ve done what we said we would and we’re here to debrief!

Also, at the end of this wrap-up, scroll down to get the inside scoop on the challenge we’re embarking on for 2011!

Yep. That’s right, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Have no fear, the Bookwormz will keep you in book suggestions for another year!  🙂

“So we hear you’re reading 52 books in 52 weeks” What’s been the most popular question people ask when you tell them about this challenge?

FBK: The first comment is always, “A book a week?”, to which (mathematically) is correct. 😉 Then they ask how many I’ve read already and what my favorite and least favorite books of the year are. It’s quite the challenge and most folks are surprised and astonished at the sheer volume of books. (Enough to make your head spin!)

LL: Folks always ask me what my favorite book is. Oh and then they say “how do you have that much time to read?” to which I say “Ah hah. The difference is I make time to read.”  I don’t go to the movies and haven’t been since I saw Avatar last winter. I barely make time to watch my Netflix movies so instead of going out, we stay in and when I’m ready for bed, I cuddle up and read every nightwhich relaxes me, gets my mind on something else and helps me sleep better. I also learned that I don’t go anywhere without a book. One time a friend got lost on her way to meet me so I had an entire 45 minutes to read! While I’m waiting for friends, waiting at doctor’s appointments, in airports,  sometimes if I take a lunch break and often times I’ll opt to read instead of chatting on the phone or watching TV. As you can see, lots of sacrifices are made for something that you make a priority in your life.

How did you select which book you would read and when?

FBK: That depended on a variety of things. If it was a book I was checking out at the library, that moved to the top of the list. (There are limits there, ya know) As evidenced in my selections for 2010, I read a lot of non-fiction. That being said, after about two or three non-fiction books, I like to get into a fictional story and sort of “lose myself.” So I tried to alternate between the two and it just depended on what was available and when!

LL: Pretty randomly actually. Publishers would send us books to review, or whatever became available on my queue at the library, or whatever bookclub may have selected for that particular month. I love that there was no rhyme or reason and we were free to read whatever, whenever!

Did you have a favorite character from a book  you read?

FBK: Without a doubt, Bailey from A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron. (You didn’t say it had to be a HUMAN character!) 😉

LL: Even though the ending really let me down, I loved Jacob from House Rules by Jodi Picoult. He had great intentions but was so misunderstood.

Which book was your biggest challenge and why?

FBK: Precious by Sapphire. It wasn’t until after I finished the book that I realized it was actually a work of fiction. While parts of it are based on reality, the story in its entirety is fiction. It was a struggle from the beginning to get past the language and some of the horrific scenes. This was also the first audiobook I’d ever listened to and it was challenging for me to continue. Parts of this story actually made me nauseous and I questioned the author’s judgment upon learning it was a fictional story. Stories can be told without the vulgarity that makes up the story of Precious. Given the challenges of this book, I actually gave it a “No Rating” review on this blog.

LL: Oogy by Larry Levin. I have such a tender heart for animals, hence my involvement in Akita Rescue. I had a lump in my throat the entire book through. Although the story has a happy ending, it is truly horrific to learn how awful humans can be to innocent animals. The author’s choppy style didn’t flow well either so I felt uneasy the entire way through.

What was the hardest thing about this challenge?

FBK: The challenge itself! Reading 52 books in one year along with all of life’s other commitments is a daunting task. I had a slower start than I should have at the beginning of the year and I really felt the crunch by the time November hit. I began to pick the shortest books I could find which was only robbing myself because I wasn’t going for the story itself, rather the quick length to meet the challenge.

LL: 1) Toward the end of the challenge, feeling the crunch and not being able to read the books I wanted to read because they were 400+ pages. I kept my December reads to 300 pages and under which was quite tough. So as you can imagine, I have quite the stack of books to get to that I’ve been waiting until 2011 for and 2) having to make a conscious choice to opt to read instead of doing so many other things. I also didn’t factor in how time consuming it’d be to crank out a journal-style reaction/review after each book.

What was the easiest thing about this challenge?

FBK: Getting to read constantly!

LL: We love reading, meeting new people, talking about books and meeting amazing authors!

Would you have changed anything about this challenge?

FBK: No but I am pretty sure I won’t try to read 52 in one year again! 😉

LL: Nothing. I loved the learning experience of this challenge. Reading is FUNdamental and I truly expanded my horizons!

What did you think about having to post a blog review in addition to reading 52  books?

FBK: I didn’t really think twice about it. I’d been posting reviews on books I read on PaperBackSwap or Good Reads prior to this challenge. So it was something I was already familiar with, but I did like having them all in the same place. The reviews I shared on our blog are also posted on Good Reads as I still think that’s a great website for checking other’s opinions if you’re in doubt about a book!

LL: So many feelings one gets from reading are in the abstract and cannot be articulated properly, especially when under a time crunch. So, feeling pressurized to write insightful and thorough book reviews is tough. My goal wasn’t to give you a play-by-play of the book. I gave you the publisher’s book description followed by my personal thoughts, feelings and reactions and a rating from 1-5. If you’re intrigued to read the book, I think this is more than sufficient.

Are you glad you signed on for this challenge?

FBK: Yes and I’m also glad it’s over! 😉 haha!

LL: Most definitely! I met so many amazing authors, read books that took me FAR out of my comfort zone, and I loved sharing the blog with strangers I’d meet. I also feel an amazing sense of pride in the fact that I successfully completed my first ever New Year’s Resolution! It was also a shocking conversation piece. You wouldn’t believe what people share about reading and how disarming of a topic it can be. Reading spans religion, race, country, and political beliefs. Even if you don’t share the same walk of life, everyone can appreciate reading. Reading brings people together.

What was the most unexpected thing about this experience?

FBK: The following we received. I remember posting a review and less than 12 hours later had a comment from the author himself! I’m not sure how he knew I posted it but that was pretty cool 🙂 For me, it’s been fun to make friends with the authors whose work I really admire!

LL: Getting free books and meeting some of the most prolific authors!

What are you looking forward to most about the new 2011 challenge?

FBK: Next year’s challenge will be less in quantity so will be more on the “fun side” rather than “challenging” per se.

LL: Having a bit more wiggle room to read bigger books (aka Chunksters)!

What were your top favorite picks of 2010 (in no particular order).

FBK:

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

2. Spoken From the Heart by Laura Bush

3. A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

4. In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White

5. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

6. Who Do I Lean On? by Neta Jackson

7. Really Bad Girls of the Bible by Liz Curtis Higgs

8. Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey

9. Radical by David Platt

10. So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore

LL:

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

2. ROOM by Emma Donoghue

3. The Thirteenth Take by Diane Setterfield

4. The Opposite of Me by Sarah Pekkanen

5. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

6. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Jessica Skloot

7. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

8. Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult

9. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

10. The Blue Notebook by James Levine

Was it hard to stay true to the book buying ban?

FBK: No way! There are too many resources to be spending money on every book we read. (And at 52 books a year, that would have been A LOT!) However, I love to support authors whose books I really enjoy and I do not hesitate to purchase a book at a signing that I will keep and share with friends. I love the chance to meet the author, thank them for their work and hear their thoughts and opinions on their books. So book signings are where I indulge guilt-free!

LL: Not at all!! I love the library, Paperbackswap.com, borrowing from friends or getting free books from publishers. Besides, I hate clutter, I love saving money, AND hate to buy books that I don’t know for sure I will love. Only my favorite books and those autographed by the author are worth keeping on my shelf! Less is more. 🙂

Talk about some of the sacrifices you made in 2010 to complete this challenge.

FBK: In hindsight, it seems I didn’t have as much free time…wonder why?? No really, this was a challenge of discipline and once finishing one book, it was literally time to pick up the next and start on page 1. To answer my sacrifice in a word…time. Time that I could be doing a thousand other things, but I was reading instead.

LL: Less time talking on the phone, less time watching DV-R’d shows, didn’t go out to the movies for the entire year either! I barely have time to watch my Netflix weekly movie so I definitely made the sacrifice and I am thankful I did. I feel so accomplished and thankful to have done this with Fabookulous as my partner in crime. It’s always better together 🙂

Alright, now for the information you’ve all been waiting for…what will we do in 2011?!

Click here for the skinny!

We hope you’ll continue to follow us, continue to stop by and give us your feedback, offer us your book suggestions especially for the tougher letters,  and most of all keep us motivated!

Happy New Year and we’ll see you around the alphabet…

Warmest wishes,

The Bookwormz

 

Book #52: Fabookulous

Stay by Allie Larkin

Book description:

Savannah “Van” Leone has been in love with Peter Clarke ever since she literally fell head over heels in front of him on the first day of college. Now, six years later, instead of standing across from him at the altar, Van is standing beside her best friend Janie as maid of honor, trying to mask her heartache and guilt as Janie marries the only man she’s ever loved. Before Van’s mother died, she told Van never to let Peter go, but as the couple exchanges vows, Van wonders if her fairy-tale ending will ever come true.

After the wedding, Van drowns her sorrows in Kool-Aid-vodka cocktails and reruns of Rin Tin Tin, and does what any heartbroken woman in her situation would do: She impulsively buys a German Shepherd over the Internet. But the pocket-size puppy Van is expecting turns out to be a clumsy hundred-pound beast who only responds to commands in Slovak. Van is at the end of her rope…until she realizes that this quirky giant may be the only living being who will always be loyal to her, no matter what.

Van affectionately names her dog Joe, and together they work to mend the pieces of Van’s shattered heart. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that Joe’s vet is a rugged sweetheart with floppy blond hair and a winning smile. But when the newlyweds return from their honeymoon, Van is forced to decide just how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to have everything she’s ever wanted–proving that sometimes life needs to get more complicated before it gets better.

Warm and witty, poignant and funny, Stay is a big-hearted, unforgettable debut that illuminates the boundlessness of love and marks the arrival of an irresistible new voice.

Ahhhhh tis so sweet to post the 52nd review! And in the nick of time too– I still have a couple of hours until the end of the year! I’m not a big New Year’s Eve person so I’m perfectly content to stay home, drink wine and play games with the fam/pseudo family that come over. Tonight nobody would talk to me until I finished my last book! haha I appreciate the support but I’m glad I can now have some wine and ring in the new year! 😉

Anyway, Stay is indeed a very endearing novel. I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t MORE about the dog (Joe) but more focused on the love triangle/drama surrounding Van’s love life. I was expecting more of a story about a girl and her dog. So I got more than I bargained for is all.

At times it felt silly and I don’t know how else to explain that other than the shallow comments/thoughts Van had. It was easy to think of her as still in high school or something, so a challenge to relate. Stay is also extremely predictable and I found myself hoping for a twist or turn that would keep me shocked and surprised. Not every novel will wow, but this one was a cute one to end the year with.

Larkin does a good job of tying everything together but I just wish Stay was more about the dog instead of the boys. Van gets her dog for companionship (granted, it’s a mistaken order) but then she comes to value her pet yet somehow the bonding seems skipped. I guess I think the book jacket was slightly misleading in what the novel would offer. But I’m a sucker for the love of dogs 🙂 All in all, this is a light-hearted read to be enjoyed!

3.5/5 stars

Fabookulous

 

Book #51: Fabookulous December 30, 2010

Finding God in Unexpected Places by Philip Yancey

Book description:

An Atlanta slum. A pod of whales off the coast of Alaska. The prisons of Peru and Chile. The plays of Shakespeare. A health club in Chicago. For those with eyes to see, traces of God can be found in the most unexpected places. Yet many Christians have not only missed seeing God, they’ve overlooked opportunities to make him visible to those most in need of hope.

In this enlightening book author Philip Yancey serves as an insightful tour guide for those willing to look beyond the obvious, pointing out glimpses of the eternal where few might think to look. Whether finding God among the newspaper headlines, within the church, or on the job, Yancey delves deeply into the commonplace and surfaces with rich spiritual insight.

Finding God in Unexpected Places takes readers from Ground Zero to the Horn of Africa, and each stop along the way reveals footprints of God, touches of his truth and grace that prompt readers to search deeper within their own lives for glimpses of transcendence.

I started branching into audiobooks late this year as a way to ensure I’d meet our goal of 52 by December 31st. Exploring the world of audiobooks has been a challenge for me. When it’s a fiction book it seems I’m picky about the narrator’s voice. After trying to start a couple fiction books, I’d stop listening not even an hour in– one narrator talked like everything was a question and I knew I couldn’t do that for 8 hours of listening! But what I have found is that nonfiction books are easier for me to listen to (maybe it’s that I like my own imagination to run wild with a fiction book.) Either way, Christian nonfiction just feels like listening to a long sermon, so I can handle those better.

And I think audiobooks might be the answer to Philip Yancey! I’ve read a couple of Yancey’s other books (What’s So Amazing About Grace? and The Jesus I Never Knew) in the past yet it always seems to take me a while to get through them. Not because they aren’t good, rather the opposite. They are so good and have so much information packed into them that I want to read slower to absorb it all. I think listening to Finding God in Unexpected Places gave me the best of both worlds: another Yancey book on my “Read” shelf and it wasn’t as challenging to get through since it felt like a long sermon.

I appreciate Yancey’s journalism, world travels, experiences, and his drive to teach the message of the gospel. This book is such an eye-opener and will really make you think. Taking you all over the world and to different jobs and locations, Yancey will travel with you while opening your eyes to where God is (hint: everywhere.) But for me the most powerful chapter is the one on South American prisons and the love of Christ found there. The excitement among 60 convicts gathered together for a gospel message and worship is obvious when you read/listen to this book! You will definitely be surprised at the faith of those around the world. Despite their circumstances and the clear path before them, there are people in this world with far less, yet drastically more faith. We can miss seeing this in action as we don’t get the opportunities or abilities to travel and explore both nationally and internationally. Yancey even addresses this at one part talking about how easy it is for Christians to just “send money” for a need, rather than to go there themselves. Granted, not everyone CAN just GO, but many can yet choose to send a check instead. Shouldn’t giving be sacrificial and if so, what’s more of a sacrifice? Giving of your money or of yourselves?

I started listening to Finding God in Unexpected Places while I was reading Radical by David Platt and I think the two went hand in hand so perfectly! Giving the reader a world vision that can be missed as we focus on our day to day experiences, both of these book are well worth your time! Originally published in the 80s, Yancey printed a revised edition after the attacks of September 11. Our world had changed so much and chapters were added to include the terrorist attacks and to discuss God’s presence during times of trial and tribulation.

Parts of this book felt like a history lesson which, while dry at times, is valuable towards the moral of the story. Like I said, Yancey’s books are PACKED with information so you’ll need time to digest! All in all, this was fabulous and I think in the future if I find another Yancey book that strikes my fancy, I’ll get it in audio!

4/5 stars

Fabookulous

Status update: Halfway through my 52nd book (wow!!!!!) and I have until 11:59pm tomorrow (New Year’s Eve) to finish! 😉 Look for my review sometime tomorrow and then we’ll have our joint interview posted revealing details of our challenge for 2011! We hope to see you in the new year 🙂

 

Book #50: Fabookulous December 26, 2010

Engaging Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn

*Spoiler alert* This review will give away parts of Finding Father Christmas by Robin Jones Gunn. If you haven’t already read that one, check out my review before reading further 🙂

Book description:

Miranda Carson can’t wait to return to England for Christmas and to be with her boyfriend, Ian. She has spent a lifetime yearning for a place to call home, and she’s sure Carlton Heath will be it, especially when a hinted-at engagement ring slips into the conversation.
But Miranda’s high hopes for a jolly Christmas with the small circle of people she has come to love are toppled when Ian’s father is hospitalized and the matriarch of the Whitcombe family withholds her blessing from Miranda. Questions run rampant in Miranda’s mind about whether she really belongs in this cheery corner of the world. Then, when her true identity threatens all her relationships in unanticipated ways, Miranda is certain all is lost.
And yet . . . maybe Father Christmas has special gifts in store for her after all.

Talk about perfect timing for a book! I finished this one the day after Christmas and it was such a cute and cozy little read during the holiday. The sequel to Finding Father Christmas, Engaging Father Christmas continues with Miranda’s journey as she heads back to Carlton Heath one year after her discovery of a family she never knew. Now happily involved with a special someone, Miranda feels sentimental as she travels back to the tiny town that welcomed her with open arms the first time she visited, which was the previous Christmas.

While very predictable (at a short 155 pages it doesn’t take a seasoned reader to know what’s coming), Gunn is still an excellent story teller. She’ll keep you engaged and make you feel right at home as you get to know the characters a bit more than last time. The reader will recognize several scenarios that were in the first novel (the Tea Cosy, the Christmas play, and the Whitcombe manor) that make you wish for variety.

But this is still a cozy (guess that’s the best word I keep coming up with!) little novel about the Christmas spirit, warm and friendly people, and the need all of us have for love in our lives. I recommend picking up a copy before the end of the year to appreciate the timing of the story!

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night 🙂

3.5 out of 5 stars

Fabookulous

 

Book #49: Fabookulous December 22, 2010

Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream by David Platt

Book description:

WHAT IS JESUS WORTH TO YOU?

It’s easy for American Christians to forget how Jesus said his followers would actually live, what their new lifestyle would actually look like. They would, he said, leave behind security, money, convenience, even family for him. They would abandon everything for the gospel. They would take up their crosses daily…

BUT WHO DO YOU KNOW WHO LIVES LIKE THAT? DO YOU?

In Radical, David Platt challenges you to consider with an open heart how we have manipulated the gospel to fit our cultural preferences. He shows what Jesus actually said about being his disciple–then invites you to believe and obey what you have heard. And he tells the dramatic story of what is happening as a “successful” suburban church decides to get serious about the gospel according to Jesus.

Finally, he urges you to join in The Radical Experiment –a one-year journey in authentic discipleship that will transform how you live in a world that desperately needs the Good News Jesus came to bring.

Where to begin? This book was fantastic from start to finish! Highly recommended by my mom who just read it, I soaked up Radical the minute I read the first word. A pastor of what is known today as a “mega church”, Platt unapologetically, yet tenderly, points out what is wrong with today’s Christianity and reminds us what biblical Christianity actually looks like. Platt paints pictures that will make you think.

This is not to say this is true of every church in America (nor every mega church in America), but think about it. We put on hundreds of dollars worth of clothes, hop into our thousands of dollars worth of cars, drive to our million dollar church buildings, sit in our comfortable seats while we are entertained by bands, musicians, dancers, speakers, and guests, then turn around to return to our homes worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Now picture this. Men, women, children, young and old, traveling by foot for miles and miles, sometimes even taking a whole day to arrive to the “secret church.” Upon arrival, cramming into a small room, lit by a single light hanging from the ceiling, and squeezing into a circle among 60 or more gathered, and all straining to see the single Bible sitting in the room. Discussion continues for up to eight hours a sitting before making the trek home, only to return shortly after to start all over.

I appreciate Platt’s world travels and understanding of Christianity in other countries and areas. And I appreciate him pointing out how much we take it for granted in this country that we can not only OWN Bibles but that we can read them and study them individually or in groups without feeling ashamed or fearful. (Not to say that’s true in every circumstance, rather generally speaking.)

The purpose of Radical is not to make Christians feel guilty, but rather to remind them of biblical Christianity. To remind them that Jesus called us to leave our possessions, belongings, sometimes even our families to follow Him. And Platt beckons the reader to remember it is all about God, not all about us. We’ve made things so comfortable and convenient to our own lives (what church works for us, what messages mean the most for our lives, what we like about the pastor, what programs work with our schedule) and doesn’t this enable us to be selfish? And that’s not what Christianity is about at all, yet it’s the confused message we’ve believed for so long.

Radical will challenge the reader (and Christian) to consider their brothers and sisters in distant parts of the world. Then you’ll be challenged to consider a year long “renovation”, if you will. Divided into five categories, Platt introduces a way to put into practice over the course of a year what you’ve just read:

  1. Pray for the entire world;
  2. read through the entire Word;
  3. sacrifice your money for a specific purpose;
  4. spend your time in another context;
  5. commit your life to a multiplying community.

As he expounds upon each of these suggestions, the reader will be grateful for the opportunity and guidance toward life application. This book can be read by individuals or done as a small group study and I know you’ll enjoy it either way!

5/5 stars

Fabookulous

Coming into the finish line! Halfway through an audio book and only 2 more to read! Reviews to come. Thanks for your support this year!

 

Book #52: LibraryLove December 16, 2010

Oogy by Larry Levin

Book description~ In the bestselling tradition of Rescuing Sprite comes the story of a puppy brought back from the brink of death, and the family he adopted. — In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen–one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue–ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy’s charms, and decided to take him home.

This book is a true-story of a Dogo, mistaken for a Pit Bull. Oogy was a throw-away bait dog used in a horrible street-fighting operation gone wrong. Oogy had been through a horrific ordeal and serendipitously ended up in the loving home of The Levin family. It just seemed the author kept mentioning how important his two adopted twin sons and his wife were yet he barely mentioned them or their role in Oogy’s development at all. For a lot of the book, I thought he would mention that he and his wife were separated or something of the sort because she was mentioned all of three times I believe.

I wanted to like this book. I really wanted to like this book. I did enjoy parts of Oogy and don’t get me wrong, I absolutely ADORE Oogy and the story of him but not Levin’s delivery. I was relieved the book ended happily while Oogy is still frolicking around the dog parks with his family. However, the choppy and overly detailed writing style left much to be desired. The flow of this book was wonky; it felt like an oversized essay.

Oogy’s struggle and his will to survive were amazing. But again, back to Levin’s writing style; I felt like he was going to pull the rug right out from under me because his pacing was off. Thus, I read most of this with a lump in my throat fearing what I’d read next. Again, thankfully Oogy’s story is one of redemption and a second chance and as a fellow-dog lover, owner and rescuer, I felt a connection with Oogy’s story because it paralleled so much of Zumo’s story. Zumo is a dog my husband and I adopted after having fostered him for over a year, helping him rehab from 3 surgeries, a horrific puppyhood in a horrible situation and turned his pain into happiness and contentment with our family. I also took him through obedience training, as Larry did in Oogy. Zumo won our hearts and we couldn’t help ourselves but adopt him so we could finally reap the rewards and happy times as Zumo deserves.

“I return to the family room and turn on both the front and rear sets of lights halfway. This time Oogy lifts his head and looks at me. He is still somewhat distant with sleep, but welcome shines in his eyes like candles. His tail thumps softly against the back of the couch. Smiling, I walk over for him and sit on the arm of the sofa, trace my fingers against the thickness of his neck. I touch the well of power just behind there, high on his back between his shoulders. His strength never ceases to amaze me. It seems almost incompatible with his gentle nature. “

All in all, I’m frustrated to end the year on a book that left much to be desired, although I’m SO thrilled that Oogy is with a loving family and he’s such a happy boy.

“I believe that Oogy will  be able to help those in need to understand that scarring, disfigurement, and trauma, whether physical or emotional, do not have to define who they are.”

3/5 stars

Wow. This is it huh? For 2010 anyway. I’m just glad I was able to successfully complete my first ever New Year’s Resolution and look forward to being able to relax with my reading a bit in 2011.

Stay tuned for our wrap-up review and we’ll share with you our next reading challenge for 2011.

PHEW.

52 books.

52 weeks.

SHAZAM!

I’m beat.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

See you in 2011…

 

Book #48: Fabookulous December 15, 2010

Burnt Toast by Teri Hatcher

Book description:

Like most women, Teri Hatcher learned her first lessons through her mother. And like many women, her mother had a hard time putting herself first. If a piece of toast got burned, she ate it herself, giving the better slices away. While this act of love and sacrifice was well intended, it also taught a lesson that is hard to unlearn: Your own satisfaction is not worth a slice of bread.

With Burnt Toast, a heartfelt, funny, poignant, and inspiring manifesto on this philosophy, Teri Hatcher reveals her life in unexpected ways, in the hopes of keeping other women from eating the burnt toast, and explaining why you’ll never get a second chance if you don’t open yourself up to the possibility.

If you’ve ever given up something good and taken the worst for yourself; if you’ve wondered if you’ll ever have sex again; if you’ve found yourself planning to fail rather than expecting to succeed, then you’ve eaten the burnt toast…and Teri Hatcher would like to have a word with you!

When I choose to read a book written by a celebrity author, it is usually because I am a fan and want to know more about them. But I wouldn’t necessarily say I am a “fan” of Teri Hatcher’s. Sure, I still tune into Desparate Housewives but for some reason I have a hard time separating the actor from the role and I think of Teri as Susan. Which is pretty much what I got out of this book too.

The amount of information she shares in this book is shocking; from no sex on her honeymoon to intimate massages to her favorite body parts, you’ll be surprised and almost feel like a voyeur. It’s so surprising because most celebrities spend so much time fighting for their privacy and hiding things about their personal lives, that to read the things this one penned almost feels absurd. And in the first 50 pages it is evident that this is someone who is VERY insecure. It’s a constant topic of discussion in this book. *sigh*

I have never before read a book that quoted the title so much. (She even recognizes this at one point and says “It is the title of the book” to which I thought of that childhood saying, “That’s my name, don’t wear it out!”) The idea is intriguing (moms and many women will sacrifice themselves to put others ahead) but to repeat the same thing the same way so many times gets tiring.

At times, the book is laugh out loud funny and that’s apparent when she offers stories of adventures with her daughter (who, clearly, and in a sweet way, is the love of her life.) Teri shares her challenges in being a single parent and how she had to overcome everything from getting all of the “intruders” (spiders to lizards) out of her home alone to her daughter’s first away trip with dad, leaving her home without her daughter. These stories made me reflect on my own childhood as my mom was a single parent as well. As children, you don’t realize your moms (or dads) have to deal with things they might not want to (bugs–eek!) but they do anyway to show you they are in control and able. That is really sweet 🙂 Teri has a lot of those stories about times she wanted to react a different way than she did because she knew her daughter’s eyes were on her.

While this isn’t my all time favorite memoir (but who said it had to be?) parts of it offered a smile and some chuckles. Would I recommend it? Only if you are a Teri Hatcher fan. Few books have been jointly reviewed by both LibraryLove and myself this year and this is one of them. Check out LibraryLove’s review of Burnt Toast  if you haven’t already seen it!

3/5 stars

Fabookulous

Status update for the year: As I kick into high gear to finish this challenge, I’ve now got an audio book going (you know, driving/getting ready/anything that keeps progress progressing ;)) as well as another book. Stay tuned for some reviews to spit out from Fabookulous!