Archive for March, 2011

Review: Growing Up Amish: A Memoir

Growing Up Amish: A MemoirGrowing Up Amish: A Memoir by Ira Wagler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow, really? The publisher describes this book as “heartwarming” but it’s anything but that.

Fascinating in parts, yes. But depressing as well. The book description makes it sound like he makes a clean break from the Amish life at 17, but it is a long process and it was sobering to learn something that a lot of people don’t realize, and that is the fact that the Amish are a religious sect, not just a bunch of people who don’t drive cars or have electricity.

The book delves very deeply into the religious and spiritual turmoil the author went through in trying to break from his cultural upbringing. It was interesting to note that Amish is a broad term, and that there are hundreds of different Amish communities with varying degrees of strictness in dress, behavior, and limitations.

While the book was very educational and emotional, I found the author’s story to be less inspiring than just plain sad.

 

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Review: American on Purpose

American on PurposeAmerican on Purpose by Craig Ferguson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Craig Ferguson gives us a terrifically engaging memoir, which is brutally honest, fascinating and hilarious. On top of that? It’s very, very well written. He pokes fun at himself for quitting school at age 16, but he spent his life as a reader, and apparently absorbed great skill at phrasing, coupled with his Scottish flair for storytelling.

I loved how the book was organized, his no-nonsense accounts of his own debauchery, and the overall theme of overcoming everything to become the person he was meant to be. There were so many laugh out loud moments in the book, I can’t choose my favorite, but many poignant moments as well. I highly recommend this book.

 

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Review: I’d Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts

I'd Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black ThoughtsI’d Rather We Got Casinos: And Other Black Thoughts by Larry Wilmore
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some great laugh out loud funny moments (“Queen Latifah has officially become Pearl Bailey”) and chapter headings (“Why Brothas Never See UFOs”) and it really helps if you’ve watched Larry Wilmore on “The Daily Show.” What I liked was that the humor was not the same familiar jokes other comedians have trotted out for years; instead, his humor is more off-kilter and unexpected. A quick read, and good brain candy between other books.

 

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Review: The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this book a lot, even if it does follow some of the same standard narrative framework as other kid books: orphaned, with powerful parentage, a miserable childhood turned around by the discovery of special powers, and a quest to do something others are incapable of, etc).

The writing style is very fun, and it’s a nice introduction for saps like me who know next to nothing about the Greek gods.

I found a lot of things in the book reminiscent of the Harry Potter storyline, but written differently enough to be enjoyable. I really loved the tie-in to Greek mythology. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

 

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Review: A Lesson in Secrets

A Lesson in Secrets (Maisie Dobbs, #8)A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Compelling read, great pacing, excellent plot development. Winspear is at the top of her game with this book!

I have loved this character from the very first book, and had to get this one the day it was released by the publisher. A wonderful heroine who doesn’t have to resort to gunfights, being kidnapped or held hostage, or having superhuman strength to hold your interest until the last word of the book.

Winspear gives us a very British, very gentle, very compelling main character whose story grows by layers with each book.

 

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Review: Fight Club

Fight ClubFight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My first thought was well, at least now I won’t have to watch the movie. But now I want to see it even more. Weird and disturbing book, but better than the John Grisham novel I abandoned after 20 pages because, frankly, life is too short.

Actually, Fight Club was entertaining and interesting. Just too male for me to fully enjoy on the day when I read it. Too…testosterone-y. (Which totally sounds like a sort of pasta and rice casserole). It is a book that gets into your head and leaves you with that weirdness aftertaste, where you keep thinking of the characters for days. Trippy.

 

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Review: Love Is a Mix Tape

Love Is a Mix TapeLove Is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SUCH a great book!

There aren’t words for how much I loved it. I just dove into reading it on my Kindle without reading a description of the author and the book, and thought it was a novel until toward the end. Great story-telling, and weaving the music into it was terrific.

Poignant and realistic, raw and hilarious….this book has changed how I look at music and friendships and marriage. I highly recommend it.

 

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