Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book W: LibraryLove February 13, 2011

You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam

Book description~ Julie Klam was thirty, single, and working as a part-time clerk in an insurance company, wondering if she would ever meet the man she could spend the rest of her life with. And then it happened. She met the irresistible Otto, her first in a long line of Boston terriers, and fell instantly in love. You Had Me at Woof is the often hilarious and always sincere story of how one woman discovered life’s most important lessons from her relationships with her canine companions. From Otto, Julie realized what it might feel like to find “the one.” She learned to share her home, her heart, and her limited resources with another, and she found an authentic friend in the process. But that was just the beginning. Over the years her brood has grown to one husband, one daughter, and several Boston terriers. And although she had much to learn about how to care for them-walks at 2 a.m., vet visits, behavior problems-she was surprised and delighted to find that her dogs had more wisdom to convey to her than she had ever dreamed. And caring for them has made her a better person-and completely and utterly opened her heart. Riotously funny and unexpectedly poignant, You Had Me at Woof recounts the hidden surprises, pleasures, and revelations of letting any mutt, beagle, terrier, or bulldog go charging through your world.

My expectations were pretty off base with this one. I was hoping to finish this with a broader perspective, maybe even some tips for making the animal rescue a more efficient one or how to read animals in a different way. Alas, I left wanting so much less. Author Julie Klam shares her memoir-esque recount of her involvement with Boston Terrier rescue on the east coast. Sadly, this book was basically a cut/paste from the author’s inbox; countless emails ad nauseam she shared with folks in her rescue group about various dogs and their issues. These emails also recounted dog after dog that even the author didn’t get too invested with; how do you expect the reader to commit when the author doesn’t? The book was all over the place. Chapterized with lessons 1-11, I was hoping to actually expand my mind on how other rescues work, since all I know is Akita rescue, and Akitas have VERY different needs than Boston Terriers; I was just disappointed.

For those of you who know me, it’s no surprise that my husband and I have volunteered with Akita Rescue in our area for about 4 years now. We were so thankful to have found rescue when we had to put our 10-year-old Akita down after 2 painful surgeries to remove aggressive Cancer.We transferred our loss and sadness into the greater good. When our hearts healed we were ready to adopt another dog and got so lucky to have two amazing dogs! Through our involvement in rescue, we’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Maybe for someone who wanted to put their toe in the water with rescue, this would be a great book for them to learn the ins and outs? Maybe not. Klam was overindulgent and it felt like filler at one point.

I kept asking myself “where’s the beef?” and I finished the book feeling hungry.

2/5 stars

2 down, 24 to go!

In progress, Carry Me Like Water



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Book T: LibraryLove February 1, 2011

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

Book description~ Sisterhood triumphs over sibling rivalries in this artfully turned Kristin Hannah novel. Winona, Aurora, and Vivi Ann grew up together in a small Washington State suburban town. Bonding together closer after their mother’s early death, they develop differently. In a matter of moments, everything will change. The Grey sisters will be pitted against one another in ways that none could have imagined. Loyalties will be tested and secrets revealed, and a terrible, shocking crime will shatter both their family and their beloved town. With breathtaking pace and penetrating emotional insight, True Colors is an unforgettable novel about sisters, rivalry, forgiveness, redemption—and ultimately, what it means to be a family.

Hi again! I’ve taken a much needed mental break from blogging after the recent completion of our 52 book plunge and I’m back for another reading challenge! As you may know, us bookworms are scaling the alphabet and tackling 26 books this year, a nice departure from the pressure of last year’s challenge. In my first book review of the new year, I was so glad to finally take the time and read this chunkster of about 500 pages. One of our newest book club babes selected this for February discussion, and I cannot wait to discuss this with the ladies in a few weeks. Wrongful imprisonment, and the subject of this novel, will surely be a conversation piece!

Not only was Hannah such an artist in the way she gradually built the rising action, she did so with nicely developed characters and many surprises along this emotional journey for the Grey family. This was a story of The Grey sisters,  their family, their fight for what they believed in, and not giving up when others told them to. Can you imagine what life would be like if you grew up never having known your father because he was wrongfully accused and imprisoned for over a decade for a crime he didn’t commit? Unfortunately, Noah, one of this books’ main characters had to do just that. The older he gets, the more he questions his reality and searches for answers right under his nose. Noah doesn’t know who he is, or who is father is. But one thing is true…his mission is to figure both out. We’re taken along the ride with mainly Noah, his mother, Vivi Ann, and Vivi Ann’s sisters, although Winona is really the only other ‘main character’.  I definitely would have enjoyed more dialogue from Aurora, another of the sisters. I felt she was just lost in the shuffle in the background. But, the turning point of the novel came and I couldn’t read fast enough.

“Beside an ad for one of the city’s newest high-rises, she saw a gloomy photograph of a man standing in front of a prison guard tower. The headline read:  ‘Innocence Project Northwest Works to Exonerate the Wrongly Accused’. There might be an animal called absolute truth, but it couldn’t be caged and certainly didn’t roam the halls of justice. In her research for Dallas’ case, she’d read about more than one hundred men who’d been freed from prison in the past five years based on DNA testimony… and even more who hadn’t. Those unfortunate souls were all too often in Dallas’ position: DNA evidence neither tied them irrefutably to the crime nor will exonerate them. It amazed and shamed Winona how inflexible district attorneys and police could be once they decided on a defendant’s guilt. Often no amount of evidence could dissuade them, and so they kept fighting, making specious, ridiculous arguments that kept innocent people in prison for decades. “

Although I think Hannah could have shaved off 100 pages from  “the middle”,  I was along for the ride the whole way through. And if you’re expecting a book to grab you right from the very first page, I don’t think this is the book for you. However, patience prevails because this book is slow and steady; more of a trot and less of a gallop. Either way, it was well worth the wait to make it to the sweet ending. This was my first Kristin Hannah novel and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

4/5 stars

1 down, 25 to go!

Up next: C for Carry Me Like Water