Year of the Bookwormz: 2011

52 weeks. 2 friends. 1 challenge.

Book #16: LibraryLove March 15, 2010

Waiting for Daisy by Peggy Orenstein

Waiting for Daisy is about loss, love, anger and redemption. It’s about doing all the things you swore you’d never do to get something you hadn’t even been sure you wanted. It’s about being a woman in a confusing, contradictory time. It’s about testing the limits of a loving marriage. And it’s about trying (and trying and trying) to have a baby. Orenstein’s story begins when she tells her new husband that she’s not sure she ever wants to be a mother; it ends six years later after she’s done almost everything humanly possible to achieve that goal, from “fertility sex” to escalating infertility treatments to New Age remedies to forays into international adoption. Her saga unfolds just as professional women are warned by the media to heed the ticking of their biological clocks, and just as fertility clinics have become a boom industry, with over two million women a year seeking them out. Buffeted by one jaw-dropping obstacle after another, Orenstein seeks answers both medical and spiritual in America and Asia, along the way visiting an old flame who’s now the father of fifteen, and discovering in Japan a ritual of surprising solace. All the while she tries to hold onto a marriage threatened by cycles, appointments, procedures and disappointments. Waiting for Daisy is an honest, wryly funny report from the front, an intimate page-turner that illuminates the ambivalence, obsession, and sacrifice that characterize so many modern women’s lives.

What does it mean to be a mother? To what lengths would you go to be one? Would you sacrifice your health? Life? Marriage? Your own sense of self? And more interestingly, what are the impacts on your husband through the process of being treated for infertility? My husband and I plan to have children some day. But a couple’s personal time line is so not public information. And conversely, I wish more people would be sensitive towards couples that decide they DON’T want to raise children, whether they biologically can or not. It’s so frustrating to see and hear how ostracized a couple can be if they decide children are not part of their plans. But what if children WERE part of your plans but you waited beyond the point of healthy conception?

My knowledge and understanding of fertility/infertility are so minute. So, in my typical fashion, what better time to expand my personal horizons than during this, The Year of The Bookwormz? This year’s reading challenge is a personal goal to learn more about topics I don’t know about, through books. I also had some extra time to read as I traveled to visit my family out-of-town over the weekend. My sister’s cat especially enjoyed “helping” me read. 🙂

I also appreciated the intellectual conversation on this topic with my sister and brother-in-law, both medical doctors, who had interesting insights from a medical and scientific perspective. The topic intrigued me after reading Baby Proof by Emily Giffin over the summer (who by the way I cannot WAIT to meet during her 2010 book tour)!

Baby Proof‘s premise challenges the idea of a married couple deciding not to have children.  It begs an interesting question, are children all a woman wants?? And discusses whether some couples have kids because they genuinely want to invest in raising children, or because they feel pressure from mothers, grandmothers, and female friends because it’s just “what you do after you get married”.  I couldn’t wait to learn about the topic by reading Waiting for Daisy and was amazed at just how far one woman would go for a baby.

In Waiting For Daisy, Peggy so candidly, shares her six-year struggle toward motherhood. Peggy and her supportive husband Steven, try every medical possibility to conceive a child.   As a woman over 35, she experiences major difficulty every step of the way. Despite her struggles, I loved this book and felt like I was watching Peggy and Steven’s life as a fly on the wall, traveling between two continents. Peggy, a well-known journalist so  forthcoming with her heart wrenching experiences, had me in awe. I cannot image wanting a baby so badly that I’d have gone to the great lengths Peggy goes through. She puts her health, well-being, mental stability, financial stability, marriage, and career on the line.

I have some very strong opinions on the topic of fertility treatments. As this is a public forum, won’t do it here, because those feelings and views belong to my husband and I in privacy. What saddened me the most in reading this book, was how unregulated the cash cow fertility industry is!! I was horrified to read how things went from bad to worse for Peggy and Steven. Below is a brief excerpt from Peggy’s book that I felt extremely apropos:

“I felt like the high roller whose new friends disappeared when his stake was gone. The caring brochures, the chummy smiles, the warm affect of the clinic “team” seemed abruptly stripped away, revealing nothing more than a cold-blooded business. We had wanted so desperately to believe that we had ignored the sales pitch in the compassion, the coercion in the photographs of babies and sunflowers. But I finally got it- these guys may have been doctors, but they were also salesmen. I may have been a patient, but I was also a consumer. I was undergoing a procedure, but I was also making a deal- and they were making a buck”. ~ Peggy Orenstein

I give Peggy so much credit for writing this book. What a strong woman for enduring those most difficult 6 years and basically throwing away the second half of her 30s. I don’t want to give away too much, but this book will be a testament to Peggy’s strength. This book will be a truly amazing gift for Daisy to look back and reflect upon, as her earliest scrapbook.

Such a thought-provoking topic. I wish more people took the time to learn about the political, societal, and social impacts of the fertility industry, even if it doesn’t apply to them!

~5/5 stars~

16 down, 36 to go!

In progress: The Opposite of Me and Testimony (Audiobook)

Xoxo,

LibraryLove


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Book #9: Fabookulous March 14, 2010

Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg

Book description: In this new novel, beloved bestselling author Elizabeth Berg weaves a beautifully written and richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. Helen Ames- recently widowed, coping with loss and grief, unable to do the work that has always sustained her- is beginning to depend far too much on her twenty-seven-year-old daughter, Tessa, and is meddling in her life, offering unsolicited and unwelcome advice. Helen’s problems are compounded by her shocking discovery that her mild-mannered and seemingly loyal husband was apparently leading a double life. The Ameses had painstakingly saved for a happy retirement, but that money disappeared in several large withdrawals made by Helen’s husband before he died. In order to support herself and garner a measure of much needed independence, Helen takes an unusual job that ends up offering far more than she had anticipated. And then a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery that causes both mother and daughter to reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.

“Maybe Freud didn’t know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does,” said USA Today, and that special gift of understanding shines through in this remarkable new novel. Home Safe is an exquisitely rendered story about mothers, daughters, and finding new richness in the stages of life, in one’s family, and in oneself.

I just finished this book and I have to say, I was very disappointed. The cover jacket’s summary of the story (the book description posted), I felt, was extremely misleading. About 2/3 in, I was still waiting to read what the book claims happened. I feel very misled.

I didn’t feel like I got to know the characters. The main character was all over the place and her flash backs to other events and times in her life seemed random at times. Something that was very distracting throughout the ENTIRE book was the amount of punctuation! Commas, semi-colons, colons, I mean REALLY?! They are all over. The sentences seem to run on and on separated by punctuation. It felt rushed and sloppy. While I was reading this book a friend noticed it on the table and said “Oh I love Elizabeth Berg, is that good?” And I said “No, not really. What’s with all the punctuation?” and she said “YES, I noticed that too!” I feel bad being so harsh because apparently she is a bestselling author. Until this book, I had not heard of her or read her books.

Something else that I found annoying was  EVERY TIME her daughter spoke to her/addressed her mother, she said “Mom, mom.” Why is she saying mom twice? I have no clue what that was about and it got annoying.

I was very disappointed with this book, found the ending disappointing, and felt the story was incomplete. I had the feeling it was rushed through just to release another book and the author just went through the motions putting words to paper. I had high expectations and maybe that’s where I made a mistake. I read the cover jacket, which I do not feel is an accurate description of the story. Very odd book and very odd characters. Sorry, I don’t recommend this book…

2/5 stars…

Fabookulous

 

Book #15: LibraryLove March 7, 2010

Raven Stole The Moon by Garth Stein

Book description: In this haunting debut, Garth Stein brilliantly invokes his Native American heritage and its folklore to create an electrifying supernatural thriller. When a grieving mother returns to the remote Alaskan town where her young son drowned, she discovers that the truth about her son’s death is shrouded in legend—and buried in a terrifying wrinkle between life and death.

Coloring powerful legend with universal emotions, Garth Stein masterfully evokes our most primal dreams and fears. Remarkably vivid and relentlessly suspenseful, Raven Stole the Moon marks the arrival of a stunningly imaginative new talent.

Has anything ever been stolen right out from under you? Can you describe the feeling that comes over you when you mourn the loss of a friend or loved one? It’s pretty intense and hard to articulate with the proper nuance, yes? Does it feel like your whole world has gone dark? Almost as if the moon is no longer present in the night sky to guide you on your way? Have you ever gotten out of bed in the middle of the night and struggle finding your way without a nightlight, feeling lost just on the way to the bathroom? That’s what Jenna, Raven’s main character must have felt when her young son Bobby, drowned in an unfortunate  accident. The surrounding events and its toll on Jenna and her husband Robert, are the basis of this novel.

One of my FAVORITE things about reading is to uncover through my inference, or the author’s intent, the meaning behind the book title. For me, Raven was not just about the Native American fable Stein spells out in the book. But rather the idea that sometimes a life loss sucks the light out from under us and a dark cloud moves in. Anyone with a heart can relate to this.

Don’t want to dwell, but for most of us who have one time or another felt that immeasurable loss, I recommend you read Raven. And if you’re going to read this book, I recommend you take a sick day, take a vacation, do whatever you can to hole yourself up for uninterrupted quality reading time! You will NOT want to put this book down. If you do, it’ll make you cranky because you want to keep reading- trust me, I know from experience 😉

Due to a jam-packed birthday celebration schedule (I know, woe is me, where’s the violin? saucer of milk?), this week didn’t afford me the opportunity for much uninterrupted reading time. However, I sacrificed sleep to read, it was that good! I say the above, because although Raven was SUCH a departure from Stein’s second novel, Art of Racing in the Rain, which is on my short list of best books I’ve ever read, their differences make them each all the more powerful in my eyes.  They’re both amazing books for different reasons. I don’t want to give too much away about either book, but I recommend you read Art of Racing first, as I did.  I love to hear about how/when books find you and their impact on your life. After reading Art of Racing, I felt so fulfilled, satisfied with the ending, and with a goofy grin on my face. I told all my friends. Many of them went to their local libraries and both read it AND loved it immediately. It  forever changed, for the better, the relationship I have with my pets.  Because I loved Art of Racing so much, I decided to check out Stein’s other novels on Paperbackswap last fall. Sure enough, one of the (now out of print) copies was available! I had a stockpile of credits, so there it sat on my bookshelf. I grew busy with library books and book club reads that I forgot all about it. Last Sunday, Planetbooks mentioned she’d been approached by Stein’s new publisher asking if she’d kindly read and review it, as she did for Art of Racing, to promote the re-release and drum up some more interest and internet/blog traffic. When Planetbooks mentioned it, I nearly leapt out of my seat and suggested we read it together. We could compare notes and send texts back and forth sharing our thoughts. I’ve had the book and been waiting to read it, this was the perfect excuse. She had a short window of time and needed to read and review it within a week, to coincide with Raven’s re-release. Knowing myself, I knew that this would be no problem for me, and that I was actually just finishing another book that same evening and could start the following day!

I’m really looking forward to getting to meet Garth Stein at one of his book events this year. Chatting with one of my favorite authors will be a dream come true for me. Art of Racing will without question remain one of my top five books of all time, but recommend you give Raven a try- the action never quits!

5/5 stars

15 down,  37 to go!

In progress- Three Cups of Tea (Audiobook), Waiting for Daisy

Xoxo,

LibraryLove


 

Author’s Spotlight::Beth Hoffman::

Did you enjoy my review of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt?

I loved that book so much I had to do a feature on Beth Hoffman. After a career in one of her life passions (interior design), Beth had the chance to pursue her other passion, writing. When she suffered group A streptococcal infection that resulted in septic shock and was forced to reevaluate her life, she seized the opportunity. She spent the next four years writing her debut and, in my opinion, exploded onto the literary scene! If you haven’t picked up Saving CeeCee Honeycutt yet, I am confident it is the first of many delightful stories to come from Beth Hoffman!

Check out my review of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt and visit Beth’s website. And this bookworm is following her Event Schedule hoping she makes it to the nation’s capital! Maybe I’ll see you there!

Happy Reading!

~Fabookulous~

 

Book #8: Fabookulous

Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship by N.T. Wright

Book description: “The longer you look at Jesus,” writes N.T. Wright, “the more you will want to serve him in his world. That is, of course, if it’s the real Jesus you’re looking at.”

Plenty of people in the church and outside it have made up a “Jesus” for themselves, an invented character who makes few real demands on them. He makes them feel happy from time to time, but he doesn’t challenge them, doesn’t suggest they get up and do something about the plight of the world- something the real Jesus had an uncomfortable habit of doing.

N.T. Wright has already written about the search for Jesus in his book, Who Was Jesus? In Following Jesus Wright talks about the “so what?” that necessarily follows from that search.

The twelve exhilarating meditations in this volume explore what it truly means to follow Jesus today. Wright first outlines the essential messages of six major New Testament books- Hebrews, Colossians, Matthew, John, Mark, and Revelation- looking in particular at their portrayal of Jesus and what he accomplished in his sacrificial death. Wright then takes six key New Testament themes- resurrection, rebirth, temptation, hell, heaven, and new life- and considers their significance for the lives of present-day disciples.

Though I think N.T. Wright offers great ideas and intelligence, this book wasn’t the typical Christian read for me. I found it to be a bit “scholarly” for lack of a better word. It definitely wasn’t a book I couldn’t put down as I found I had to motivate myself to pick it back up. There have been Christian authors that I’ve struggled to read before, and its not to say I ‘struggled’ with this book. But I did find myself reading the words without hearing them. In one ear out the other.

Perhaps I felt rushed because while reading this, the library emailed to say that several of the books I was waiting for became available to me and because there was a wait list, I couldn’t check them out more than once. I admit I may not have given this book a fair chance. That being said, there are a lot of other Christian themed books that have really made an impression on me and I’ve retained a lot from. So if you are a believer seeking wisdom on discipleship, don’t let me sway you. Try this one for yourself.

As for me, 3/5 stars.

~Fabookulous~

 

Book #7: Fabookulous

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Book description: Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille- the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town- a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when tragedy strikes, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who skinny-dips in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapon, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny and deeply touching, Beth Hoffman’s sparkling debut hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others. Above all, it is a book full of feminine wisdom- one to cherish, remember, and share.

I do not know where to begin because I cannot say enough good things about this book! I loved the fact that the main character is 12 and the story is through her eyes. It was fun to live the story through a child’s eyes. The innocence, the humor, the confusion. I completely lost myself in this book as I remembered how I viewed the world at such a young age.

CeeCee is an extremely lovable main character and very relatable. I found myself wishing I could give her a hug and encourage her. Call me crazy for getting so involved, but this book ran like a movie through my mind the entire time. Yes, I realize that’s what happens when you read, but I mean I was ON the streets of Georgia with them, I was at the roadside lunch outside the jewelry shop, I was next door watching Miz Goodpepper with CeeCee and I sat down at the kitchen table with Oletta and CeeCee during breakfast. I loved everything about this book and will recommend it to whoever needs suggestions!

This book reminded me a lot of the movie Steel Magnolias and I loved the sweet southern belles and all their hospitable endeavors. I laughed out loud at the tales of friendship and I enjoyed all the surprises throughout the book. For a 306 page book, I feel I spent every part of that summer with them. Beth Hoffman did a superb job in her storytelling and I love that this was her debut novel as now I will follow her career!

You know how sometimes you see a movie and you really like it, and then it’s announced that a sequel will be made? And you know how it makes you wonder if it will be as good as the original? In the same way, I thought this book was so entertaining and enjoyable that I wonder if Beth Hoffman could even top herself! That’s not in any way to doubt her creativity or capabilities as an author, but rather to say how refreshing and wonderful this debut novel was! It’s been a long time since I’ve related to characters so well and Beth is a marvel at creating characters you will wish were your friends and neighbors. CeeCee’s aunt Tootie makes you feel right at home among her house and her friends. They are one big happy Georgia family!

I couldn’t put this one down from the minute I got it at the library. And now I can say I have proudly purchased my very own copy, not only to lend to friends but to get signed if/when I meet Beth on her book tour! I highly recommend for anyone looking for a good read. Women will especially enjoy this as it develops the beautiful friendships between women where we can talk and laugh and fight and cry and make up and still love each other in this crazy thing called life. Please, grab some sweet tea and find a spot outside and step into the southern world of Savannah with CeeCee!

5 out of 5 stars!

~Fabookulous~

 

Book #13: LibraryLove February 26, 2010

The Girl’s Guide To Being A Boss (Without Being a Bitch) by Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio

Book description~

As women, we haven’t always had the best role models at work. We’ve either worked for men or we’ve had female bosses who are, well, big bitches. Woman still don’t have much of a road map right now when it comes to taking charge at the office, so the team who brought you the national bestseller The Girl’s Guide to Starting Your Own Business is drawing one for us. Caitlin Friedman and Kimberly Yorio will teach you to be powerful without being possessive, to be opinionated without being brassy, and to have a strong voice without micromanaging. You’ll learn just how to own the role of queen bee in a positive way so that you can be more mentor than manager, one who leads, inspires, and motivates.So, you finally got that promotion. You’re the boss now. The supervisor. The manager. The captain. The taskmaster. Those days of taking orders, running errands, and clock-watching are over. As exciting as all this might seem, once the rush of the promotion is over, you might be scratching your head wondering exactly what to do. Being the boss is never easy, but it’s twice as hard for a woman. It seems like there’s no middle ground. Either you’re the dragon lady who rules with an iron fist or the mousey girl who gets drowned out at every meeting. When a woman wields authority and dares to make tough decisions, how often is the “B-word” bandied about by her employees? How can she strike that balance between pushover and dictator?

It’s hard to believe but I’ve been a Federal Government employee for almost TEN years! WOW. I’ve worked my way up from a lowly GS-04 and earned every bit of my success along the bumpy way. With that being said, this IS a public blog, and not a place I’m going to discuss my job at length- other than saying that I absolutely love my job and the flexibility and security it brings. My boss is my personal and professional mentor and someone I look up to with respect every day. She motivates me and gives me the autonomy and trust I need to shine.  She believes in me and challenges me.

Because people I work with will eventually read this, I’m not going to editorialize too much. I liked this book. It would make a nice reference guide for young women entering college and beginning to make a place for themselves through internships or in the corporate arena. I just wish it went more into the communication techniques required to deal with touchy situations. I guess that’s my background coming through again- incase you couldn’t already tell, I have a degree in Communication and Public Relations. I am so acutely aware of how impactful communication is, I chose my words carefully.  Because I’ve been in my office’s dynamic environment for so long,  a lot of the things in this book were a bit common sense. They were things I’ve already learned through “on the job training”. The ideas of “baptism by fire” or “being thrown into the shark invested waters” are things I’ve all experienced.

I loved the section on team building because it’s one of the tools I use regularly to get my team and our customers energized on the job. It’s proven 100% successful for me.  I highly recommend every office employ some sort of teambuilding mechanism, whether playing with legos or solving brainteasers as teams.

One fun takeaway I will share from the teambuilding section is the following list of team roles below.

“The key to good, efficient teams is to create a healthy balance of these individuals or to identify the roles that you need your team members to play even if that’s not their natural role”~ Meredith Belbin, author of Management Teams: Why They Succeed or Fail

I’m challenging you! Ask your self  “which role do I play at my place of business?”. Pretty thought-provoking, yes? Leave me a comment below with which role you play and how. Are you satisfied with that, or do you strive for more?

You can leave your comment anonymously if you prefer, no right or wrong answer, you’re a winner in my book! 🙂

The Plant: Original thinkers, generate new ideas, offer solutions.

The Resource Investigator: Creative, take ideas and run w/them. Extroverted and popular.

The Coordinator: Highly disciplined and controlled, focus on objectives, they unify a team.

The Shaper: Achievement oriented, like to be challenged and get results.

The Monitor Evaluator: Analyze and balance and weigh, calm and detached, objective thinkers.

The Team Worker: Supportive and cooperative, make good diplomats, want what is best for team.

The Implementer: Good organizational skills, display common sense, like to get the job done.

The Completer: Check details, tidy up after themselves, painstakingly conscientious.

The Specialist: Dedicated to acquiring a specialized skill, extremely professional, possess drive and dedication.

3/5 stars*

*If I were to have reviewed this 10 years ago though, I would probably would have given this 5 stars.

13 down, 39 to go!!

In progress: Raven Stole The Moon,  Memoirs of a Geisha (audiob00k)

Xoxo,

LibraryLove