Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book K: Fabookulous June 6, 2011

King of the Road by Alex Debogorski

Book description:

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 🙂

Thoroughly enjoyable, King of the Road will keep your interest from start to finish. Cheers to Alex for surviving himself and sharing about it!

5/5 stars



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

Sleep Work

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. 🙂

4/5 stars

11 down, 15 to go!

Up next: The Wednesday Letters & The Philosophical Baby




Book T: Fabookulous May 30, 2011

The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

Book description:

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.

4.5/5 stars




Book P: Fabookulous May 15, 2011

The Power of a Whisper
(Hearing God. Having the Guts to Respond.)
by Bill Hybels

Book description:

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.

3.5/5 stars



Book L: LibraryLove

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.

5/5 stars

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. =)

4/5 stars

9 down, 17 to go!

Up Next: Left Neglected by Lisa Genova




Book S: Fabookulous April 27, 2011

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Book description:

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)

4/5 stars