Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review: This Is A Book by Demetri Martin

Not a very good image, but I had a hard time finding a better resolution.  Anyway, this one is a book of fictional stories, essays, and lists written by Demetri Martin, who is a comedian.  He does a lot of stand up and also wrote for The Daily Show at one time.  I am almost never a fan of stand up comedy, but I do like the Daily Show and the extra bonus was that Buddy was reading this one.  I bought it thinking I'd read it too and then we could discuss...but of course I waited six months to read it and Buddy never finished it, so that didn't happen.


Ok, it's hard to separate writing and entertainment value in humor, but I'm going to try.  Martin's book wasn't necessarily poorly written.  His form was fine.  He didn't resort to racist, sexist, or offensive material in an attempt to be funny, which was my fear after hearing he does stand up.  I really don't have a high opinion of a lot of stand up because I think a huge portion of stand up involves saying something that would be totally inappropriate and offensive in any other setting and having people laugh uncomfortably.  Thankfully, this book doesn't fall into that category.  I was happy to see nothing racist, sexist, or flat out offensive in the book.
Entertainment Value
Unfortunately, while the writing wasn't offensive, it wasn't funny either.  I just couldn't get into it.  I don't think I laughed at all or really even smiled.  It wasn't terrible - it all made sense and wasn't stupid or non-sensical, it just wasn't really that funny either.  I was disappointed and not entertained.  According to many of my friends who have seen Martin live, he is hilarious in person, but for me he missed the mark with his writing. 

I think there are lot of other funny books that your time would be better spent reading: Tina Fey's Bossypants, any of Lori Notaro's books, anything published by McSweeney's but especially Mountain Man Dance Moves, John Acuff's Stuff Christian's Like, anything by Wade Rouse...pretty much anything.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Review: Coming of Age on Zoloft by Katherine Sharpe

You guys know I'm really open and up front about my depression on here, so you also probably know that this is a book that appealed to me right away.  It's about the use of anti-depressants among such a large portion of society with a focus on the fact that many people start using anti-depressants in their teens and how that affects the development of their personality.  Does the use of anti-depressants at a time when you are forming your most basic ideas of who you are as a person make a difference?

I feel like I'm having a hard time giving an objective review of the writing in this one because of my expectations going into the book.  I reread the publisher's summary and I don't think they necessarily got it wrong, I think the problem is more with me interpreting it the way I wanted it to be.  I thought the book would be very science-based.  I was expecting studies on the brain chemistry of teenagers and the long-term effects of anti-depressant use.  That's not what this book is about.  It does start with the history of the development of anti-depressants, which was very useful, but it quickly moves into memoir/anecdotal territory.  And as a memoir/summary of anecdotes, the book does a fine job.  There's no criticism of the writing, it just wasn't what I was expecting and I was disappointed.  Definitely not the author's problem, but it made it hard for me to enjoy the writing.  But like I said, for a memoir, the writing was fine and the science included at the beginning is well-cited.  I think the author succeeded at what she was trying to do.

Entertainment Value
Like I said above, I found the book less entertaining once I realized it wasn't about what I thought it was about.  It was still a good read, though.  I would still be interested in reading a more science-based take on the topic, but Sharpe expresses some of the very important issues regarding medicating teens for depression that I think go unnoticed.  She certainly brought up several issues that I hadn't considered, but that make sense.  I never went through a time of wondering whether or not I would be the same person if I hadn't started taking Prozac at 16, but I can see why it would be such a concern for many and I appreciate that aspect being introduced.

I was somewhat disappointed that there was less science and fewer empirical studies in the book, but I also got a lot out of it as a memoir.  On the one hand, I agree with the author that Americans are over-medicated, especially with anti-depressants, and in situations where it isn't necessary.  On the other hand, I feel like a complete hypocrite for feeling that way because I'm on anti-depressants and have been off and on since I was sixteen.  And they've made a HUGE difference in my life.  One huge thing that Sharpe makes a point of is the importance of therapy in conjunction with anti-depressant use.  Rather than just prescribing anti-depressants to everyone who is feeling sad, it's important for psychologists, counselors, and physicians to meet and talk for more than just 20 minutes to determine if anti-depressants are an acceptable approach.

I recommend giving this one a try, but with the caveat that you know it's mainly personal experience and opinion from the beginning.  I saw some other reviewers mention that they also were looking for more science, but if you know from the beginning that this is more of a memoir, I think it's a good read and brings up some important topics for consideration regarding the medication of teenagers.

I received a copy of this book for review from Haper Perennial.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron

I am a huge fan of Nora Ephron's work, including her essay collections.  I read both of these in June and thought I'd go ahead and review them together since my opinion is pretty much the same on both: awesome.  I kind of have an Ephron thing - but, then again, who doesn't?  The woman wrote You've Got Mail.  This was my second read of I Feel Bad About My Neck and my first read of I Remember Nothing.  I brought them with me to the beach as light reads, and then Ephron died during my reread of I Feel Bad About My Neck, which caused me to read it with a different point of view.

Impeccable.  Would you expect anything less?  Ephron is as hilarious in essay form as she is in her screenplays.  I laughed out loud through both books, even though a good deal of the humor in I Feel Bad About My Neck is aimed at women who are, ahem, a bit older than me.  I still thought it was funny.  I'll hold on to both and reread them again at some point.

Entertainment Value
Again, they were both very funny and very insightful.  Obviously she knows women and what will appeal to women.  I think both of these books are probably more entertaining for an older reader, or at least a different reader than the humor of Jenny Lawson or Jen Lancaster (although I love all three authors).

I highly recommend giving Ephron a try, especially if you fall into the "older" reader category or if you appreciate a more sophisticated form of humorous essay than you're likely to find from younger authors.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Haul (5)

No vlog this week, Reader Friends.  My home computer is having issues and I'm too lazy to move the webcam from my laptop to Luke's PC.  So instead, I took bad pictures with my iPhone!  You are welcome.

I got two books for review over the past two weeks, one as a prize, and one as a gift.  Oh wait!  I actually got four for review, but one was immediately discarded.  Sidebar: Why, why, why would you send me "urban erotica"?  I don't review erotica (as specifically stated in my review policy) and I don't even know what urban erotica means.  Please save yourself a stamp and do not send me this, ok?

Not sure why this one didn't load all the way, but you get the idea (if you're starting to think laziness is a theme here, you are totally correct)

Slant of Light by Steve Wiegenstein - I won this one from a giveaway on Life Is Short, Read Fast.
Cold Light by Jenn Ashworth - I got this one for a TLC tour

American Lion by Jon Meacham - this one came from my friend Jacki at Lovely Little Shelf for the Presidential Challenge.

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch - this one came from Harper Perennial for review

Luke and I also made a trip to the used book store.  I had quite a bit of credit, so I was able to get some really good books.

Ravi Zacharias is my current obsession.  I've been listening to his program, Let My People Think obsessively.  Zacharias is a brilliant philosopher, theologian, and apologist, and his program has really rekindled my interest in apologetics.  So I picked up several of his books, including:

Walking From East to West (his memoir about moving from an Eastern religion and culture - India - to a Western religion and culture).

Deliver Us From Evil (about the nature of evil, why it exists, and what led to the greatest atrocities of the 20th century).  I'm most excited about this one because I've heard his lecture on how secularization has led to a loss of shame, pluralization to a loss of reason, and privatization to a loss of meaning.  It's a fascinating lecture and I'm really looking forward to reading it in the book.

Sorry for the sideways and upside down shots - again, lazy.

Who Made God by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler.  This one is a book of short answers to modern questions about faith and apologetics.  It has some light philosophy and is a great introduction to apologetics.  I'm already a good ways into it.

Best American Short Stories 1996.  Unfortunately, I already had this one.  I have a list of what I'm missing on my phone, but I left my phone in the car and...yeah, lazy.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  Even upside down, i think it's a pretty book.

100 Books for Girls to Grow On by Shireen Dodson.  Because even grown up girls love to read amazing heroines. 

Badass The Birth of a Legend: Spine-Crushing Tales of the Most Merciless Gods, Monsters, Heroes, Villains, and Mythical Creatures Ever Envisioned 

Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.  This one is a futuristic literary fiction novel in which Jesuit scientists make first contact with beings from another world. 

Bed of Roses by Nora Roberts.  This is the second book in her Bridal Quartet.  I still haven't read the first, but it was on sale and you know I go for sale books.

The Heartache No One Sees by Sheila Walsh.  I heard Sheila on Focus on the Family's radio program recently talking about her struggle with depression.  This book is based on her experiences with depression and will, I hope, also address her experiences as a Christian woman who has treated depression medically in a culture that doesn't always approve of medical treatment.

Cries of the Heart is also by Ravi Zacharias.  This one addresses the prevalence of the feeling of futility and sorrow in modern culture and how to overcome those feelings and find what's missing.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Behind the Reference Desk (2)

Today I'm going to address what I think are the major misconceptions about librarians and what librarianship involves.  Many of these are issues I've seen crop up around the recent fuss between bloggers and librarians as well as misconceptions I've personally heard from friends, coworkers, students, even family members.

Librarians sit around and read all day and/or librarianship is a profession that involves lots of down time and quiet.  I wish.  I'd love to have a job where I'm paid to read all day, but unfortunately that's not the case.  I may be sitting in an open room behind a desk and I may be on the computer, but I'm not just checking my email or reading an online book.  I'm researching, writing, documenting, purchasing, cataloging, reporting, etc, etc.  And while I'm doing anything and everything that goes on behind the scenes (database management, collection development, creation of original materials, keeping detailed records), I'm on call.  I have to be ready to stop at a moment's notice to help the student or patron find the information they're looking for, make a copy, cite a source, use a computer (sometimes for the first time), explain how to use the internet, etc.  Librarians are the ultimate multi-taskers. 

The main job of a librarian is to promote books and reading.  Librarianship is not just about getting books in the hands of readers.  In a very few cases at very large public libraries, librarians are able to focus solely on Reader's Advisory, which involves helping readers find books.  And many reference librarians and public librarians do this as part of their job.  But the poing of librarianship is not just to promote books for authors and publishers.  Librarianship is about teaching people how to find the information they are looking for.  It's about teaching others to think critically, to evaluate sources, to know how to find information (sometimes in books) for themselves.  In academic librarianship, especially, the focus isn't on connecting a reader with a book for pleasure, it's about teaching an upcoming generation of educated individuals who can think critically, find the information they need, and evaluate that information on their own.  Check out ALA's information literacy standards to see what we're really focused on, especially in academia. 

Librarians are people who love books so much they've decided to make them their job.  I'm not saying this isn't somewhat true.  I love books and I love that I get to keep up with the latest in the industry, but loving books isn't one of my job qualifications.  Nowhere in my lengthy job description is a love for books mentioned.  What IS required is a post-graduate education from an ALA accredited school, extensive technical skills and knowledge, and demonstrated management ability.  And that's just at my job.  Many librarians have multiple post-graduate degrees, specialized certifications, teaching experience, and multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals.  Basically, what I'm saying is, librarians didn't just walk into a hiring library and say "I love books, hire me!"  Librarians made a choice about their career and spent lots of time and money pursuing an education in that profession.  They've put hours into training, writing, studying, and working hard to reach their position, just like a doctor, lawyer, or professor. 

Most librarians work at public libraries.  There are many, many specialized fields within librarianship that librarians can choose to focus on.  In addition to public libraries, there are also academic libraries, research libraries, hospital libraries, law libraries, corporate libraries, and museum libraries.  People who get degrees in librarianship can also choose to go branch out into archival (government, academic, museum, etc), digitalization, teaching, and reseach.  Because most people only interact with public librarians, they don't seem to realize that there are librarians archiving museum collections, working with scientists in research labs, and digitizing the vast collections of materials (books, research, journals, pictures, government records, etc) that you can find on the internet. 

These aren't the only misconceptions, but I think I'm verging on text overload for this post.  I may address some others later, but these are the main things I think the general public (and many bloggers) don't understand about librarianship.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Book Review: The Hero of Ages (Mistborn 3) by Brandon Sanderson

Click here to see my review of Mistborn: The Final Empire (book one)
Click here to see my review of The Well of Ascension (book two)

Apparently the covers I've been using for this series are the UK paperback versions.  I'm still DYING to get myself a print set with these covers, as they are seriously growing on me.  Right now we just have them on the Nook, which is fabulous, but I wouldn't mind having them in print.  And like I said, the covers have seriously grown on me.

I'm going to try to break this down for those of you who are unfamiliar, so I can accurately describe this book.  It's the third book in the first Mistborn trilogy.  The world of Vin and Elend et al wraps up with this book.  But Sanderson has planned two more parts to the Mistborn series, each of which will be its own trilogy.  And there are a few standalone books spread throughout.  So you could read the first three books and complete a fully story arc and be done, or you could read his next Mistborn series and catch up on what's happening in the world in a couple hundred years. 

All of that to say, I'm not including any spoilers in this review since it sums up the first part of the Mistborn trilogy (which contains three separate trilogies - confused yet?).  The Hero of Ages contains some major, world-changing revelations that I don't want to talk about because they are SO significant that if someone accidently saw them it would ruin everything.  It's just not worth the risk.  So this will be a very generic review.

OMG.  Sanderson really pulled it together for me in this book.  As you can see in my first two reviews, I wasn't so sure about Sanderson as an author.  I've been impressed with his skills as a storyteller but I had some serious doubts about his writing ability and with a few specific threads.  This book came together in a way that wrapped up the vast majority of my doubts from the first two books.  It was very "oooooh, THAT'S where you were headed."  He doesn't leave plot threads hanging and I really appreciate that.  I saw a huge improvement in writing style in this book. 

I will say this, and I think it's as much detail as I can go into without spoiling the whole series: I did not love the last 25-35 pages.  I just didn't.  And I really can't explain it without spoiling the end, so what I'll do is post why I hated it white below and if you want to read it, you can highlight.  But it will spoil the entire series for you.

It wraps up too neatly.  From the point where Vin becomes some kind of god force on I was just annoyed.  I think becoming a force rather than having a physical body made the closing fight much less intense.  Vin's battle with Marsh was much more intense for me than Vin's fight with Ruin.  Also, I LOVED that Sazed was the actual Hero of Ages, but I HATED that he just suddenly restored everything to the way it was and everyone wakes up in a field of flowers.  And I really really hated his letter to Spook at the end where he talks about how Vin and Elend are happy and at peace.  Ugh.  Just let them be dead.  They gave their lives for their world, we don't need to know they are peaceful and happy together.  I like that Sanderson wrapped up all the plot threads, I just wish he could have done it without making a neat, trite little bow on top.

Entertainment Value
Couldn't put it down.  I stayed up late several nights reading, I read on my breaks at work, I was even late to a doctor's appointment because I couldn't stop reading.  The action starts on the first page and doesn't stop until the end.  I was obsessed with it the entire time I was reading.  I even had more than one dream in which I was Mistborn.  Waking up and realizing I cannot use metals to fly and fight baddies was really depressing. 

You must read this series.  Seriously.  I can't think of anyone I wouldn't recommend it to.  It's relatively clean, the violence is not in any way graphic, but the action is still intense.  The things that typically turn me off to fantasy (sexualization of basically anyone without a penis, male-dominated story lines, and graphic gore) are nowhere to be found in this series. 

There's a strong, female main character who does not run around in a leather body suit or loin cloth surprising male characters with her sex appeal and fighting skills.  In fact, her body, clothing, and beauty are rarely mentioned at all.  She has a love interest, but she's just not presented as the bad ass/sex symbol that is way too prevalent in fantasy.  I really appreciate that Sanderson avoided that trope and wrote a strong, beautiful character who is more than just a sexy action hero.  In fact, a huge part of the series-wide story arc revolves around Vin's character development as her own person without relation to a male character.  She's not trying to find love or accept herself so that the male main character can also accept her, she's just figuring out her life, which doesn't revolve around men and relationships.  LOVE that.

Please, please, please give these a try and feel free to call me, email me, text me, whatever as soon as you become obsessed.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Help Me Decide!

I'm just going to apologize now for the quality of pictures you're about to be subjected to.  They were taken in poor lighting with my iphone, so we're talking really bad here.  But I desperately need advice.  During a quick trip to JoAnn for zippers (ha!  As if I could go to JoAnn and only get zippers), I picked this hideous little garden statue up for 90% off.  

It's bad, I know.  Stop judging me.  He's going to be super cute once he gets a few coats of spray paint.  And he's going to make an adorable book end.  I just need to decide what color to paint him.

Ok so in case you had forgotten, these are my bookcases.  

My question is, should I go with my standard spray paint, which is Oil Rubbed Bronze, or do you think that's going to be too dark with the dark wood and other dark knick-knacks?

For comparison, here's a pig done with ORB spray.  Isn't he cute?  It was originally hot pink marbled glass from Sugar Bear's ex-boyfriend, who I hope doesn't read this.  But I stole him out of her trash and ORB-ed him and now he's a precious, quirky, one of kind bookend right?  Right?  Have I lost my ever loving mind?

Ok, and this is Option B, Country White spray.  The candle holder in the bottom section was bought for $0.10 at a tag sale and spray painted Country White.  I'm either cute and quirky and creative or my house is filled with trash.  Or both.  But I'm going to go with cute.  Someone please pull me aside and quietly tell me my house is horrible if that's true.  Not really.  Just pretend it's awesome.

ANYWAY, what say you, Reader Friends?  Oil Rubbed Bronze or Country White?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Book Review: Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

Remember that time I read The Year of Living Biblically and raved about it and then A.J. Jacobs EMAILED ME???  Me too.  I was a brand-new blogger and almost died when I realized that authors actually read blogger reviews and respond to them.  So basically, besides the fact that The Year of Living Biblically was incredibly well done, the fact that A.J. Jacobs actually replied to my review (which, let's be honest, was not that great) made me a fan for life.  I was dying to read this one and the perfect opportunity arose when Jennie got a copy from Goodreads (I think).  She passed it on to me and I'm supposed to pass it on to Jacki, which I really do intend to do one day in the very near future.  Really.

So Drop Dead Healthy is similar to Jacobs' other books in terms of the whole guinea-pig thing.  Basically his style is to choose something and learn all about it by using his life as an experiment.  In The Year of Living Biblically, he spends an entire year living as close as he can to Old Testament law.  In The Know It All he reads through an entire set of encyclopedias.  In Drop Dead Healthy, the theme is phsyical fitness and how to achieve it.  Jacobs goes through all of the body systems, one by one, and tries out different methods, diets, and fitness regimes and chronicles their success.

I, for one, think Jacobs is hilarious.  His sense of humor is spot on with my tastes and I spent most of the book laughing out loud.  It's written like a memoir and it's about his personal experiences, but he also includes good background information from a scientific standpoint and references many other texts that offer the data and research information that is missing from his own personal experiences.  I probably added ten or so books to my to-be-read list based on Jacobs' references.  I think he did a great job of balancing the scientific information with humor and his own personal anecdotes. 

Entertainment Value
Again, the book was really funny.  I like humor and I like learning new things, and Jacobs combines both in his books.  I'm also interested right now in dieting and fitness, so this gave me some insight into what worked and what didn't, for Jacobs at least, as well as what the current trends are - and what I ought to avoid.  The caveman workout, for example, isn't one I'm anxious to try any time soon.

I highly recommend picking this one up.  It's a fast read, informative and funny.  I think it's a good jumping off place for those who enjoy humor or memoir and are interested in non-fiction, as well as those who are interested in health and fitness.  It's a good way to ease your way into more hard-core scientific reads (and provides a great list of those more in-depth books as well). 

Thank you, Jennie, for sending me your copy and I promise I'll have it on its way to Jacki ASAP!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Behind the Reference Desk (1)

Reader Friends, you probably remember my post last week about book bloggers and librarians and the issues surrounding what seems to be a lack of understanding about the professional aspects of librarianship.  I had a wonderful response from all of you, and Jenny at Take Me Away inspired me to do a short series on librarianship and what it is that librarians actually spend all our time doing (spoiler alert: it's not hiding behind a desk reading).  Then another Jennie, my bloggy bestie from Life is Short, Read Fast, came up with a clever title and this series was born.  Thanks to both Jens for your help. 

I thought I'd start off the series by linking to some amazing blogs that concern librarianship.  This first set is made up of bloggers who write about both librarianship and book reviews - a cross-genre approach, if you will.

Super Librarian.  This is one of my favorite blogs, by someone I consider a friend.  She is a Teen Librarian at a public library and her blog combines book reviews and bookish topics with descriptions of her work as a librarian.  She has some great insights into the challenges of working in a public library as well as the duties of working with teens in a library setting - and she writes great YA reviews.  Hers is a great blog for other YA book bloggers to check out for an idea of how much work goes into programming and reference in a public library.

Stacked.  While this blog has received some criticism from book bloggers due to the controversy surrounding ALA, I think it is an excellent crossover blog that comes from a librarian/book blogger and includes issues related to both librarianship and book blogging.  The author isn't currently working as a librarian, but has an MLS and is involved in the professional community.

So Many Books.  Largely a book blog, but contains occasional posts regarding librarianship and the issues surrounding the profession.

I also want to list my favorite blogs written by librarians that deal exclusively with issues relating to the profession.  I think all of these are accessible to non-librarians and will provide insight into what librarians do as well as information regarding the issues and trends in books from a perspective that isn't usually addressed by book bloggers, who tend to focus more on the publishing/bookselling industry.

Annoyed Librarian.  Annoyed Librarian is honestly my favorite library blog.  She is not only hilarious, but she's unafraid to take on major industry institutions, including the ALA, in the name of reason.  Her articles are well-thought out, presented in an entertaining fashion, and are backed up with links and references.  If you're looking for a different take on librarianship than you'll get from most ALA blogs, check this one out.

The Handheld Librarian.  This blog tackles issues relating to technology and digitalization in librarianship from a librarian's perspective, as opposed to a bookseller or publisher's point of view. 

The Gypsy Librarian.  A blog from an academic librarian on the issues faced by librarians in academia, particularly those involved in teaching, which is common among academic librarians.

In The Library With The Lead Pipe.  This may be one of the best blogs for non-librarian book bloggers to read (as well as librarians) because it deals with the assumptions frequently made about librarians.

Lauren's Library Blog.  By the author of So You Want To Be A Librarian

There are a TON of other amazing library blogs out there.  I mean a ton.  I'll try to link to a few of them as I address in future posts exactly what it is that librarians do.  For now, this should give you a good overview of what librarians actually do.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Book Review: Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Let's Pretend This Never Happened is the memoir of the amazing blogger Jenny Lawson, who you can find at The Blogess if you've somehow missed it up until now.  There are several reasons I love Jenny, and therefore her memoir as well.  First of all she's a blogger who started out small and built a career for herself, which is pretty cool.  Also, she's outspoken about her struggles with severe depression and anxiety. 

Not only is she outspoken about those struggles, she maintains a really great sense of humor about them as well.  Not an "I'm laughing off my mental illness" kind of humor, but an "I'm not going to let these things break me" kind of humor.  I love her Depression Lies meme.  So much.  And did I mention she's hilarious?  Because she is.  So, yeah, I read her blog religiously and feel validated in my own struggles with depression and my desire to laugh at it sometimes (which can kind of freak people out I think) and I laugh at every single post.

So when her book came out, the only question was how soon I'd read it, and, of course, I couldn't hold off long and wound up putting it on my Nook and reading it immediately.

As I always say, it's hard to separate entertainment value from writing in a book that is supposed to be humorous.  If you're entertained, the book has obviously also been written in a way you appreciate.  As far as humor goes, it's hard to pick apart a writing style if you find that particular style funny.  I like her style, although others may not, but it's hard for me to critique writing for humor the same way I would for fiction or non-fiction.

Entertainment Value
I think I said it all above when I talked about how funny Lawson is.  That's basically all I was looking for in this book: funny stories about her life.  And of course she delivered.  I laughed out loud through the entire thing.  I didn't have a single moment of thinking "this isn't that funny."  Not sure how many other ways I can say hilarious, but yeah.  It was.

I highly recommend reading the book, with one caveat.  Lawson has a bit of a potty mouth.  And by "a bit" I mean she curses a lot.  If you're turned off by that, you probably won't enjoy her blog or her book.   That's the only reason I wouldn't recommend this book to someone.  Otherwise, it's hilarious and highly entertaining and totally worth reading.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What I Read In June

Seeing my nephew put a serious damper on my June reading, as did Luke's unexpected trips to Arkansas.  Rather than reading, I spent a lot of time taking care of the pets and seeing my favorite little boy during every possible free moment.  So yes, I'm blaming a baby and some dogs for my lack of reading.  They are all cool with that and accept full responsibility, I promise.

The Year of the Gadfly by Jennifer Miller
Marriage Confidential by Pamela Haag
The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes
I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron
Coming of Age on Zoloft by Katherine Sharpe
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron

Total pages read in 2012: 17,019
Money saved: $510.82

If you're wondering what I did with my month, scroll down and take a look at all my vacation pictures!  It was a crazy busy month but very nice to see my brother and his family for such a long time.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Book Review: The Virgin Cure by Ami McKay

The Virgin Cure is the story of Moth, an impoverished girl born in the late 1800s in the slums of New York.  There aren't many opportunities for the illegitimate daughter of a fortune teller and a father who disappeared, and, at the age of twelve, Moth's mother sells her to a cruel mistress as a maid and then disappears.  When Moth escapes and finds her mother gone, she is forced to take the best opportunity offered to her - becoming a high class prostitute-in-training.  Her only hope comes in the form of a female doctor who befriends her and hopes to protect her from becoming a victim of the myth of the virgin cure - the popular idea that deflowering a virgin could cure diseases such as syphilis.

I was impressed.  I think McKay really does a great job of crossing the line between literary fiction and women's fiction.  I'm not sure I can squarely put her in either category, which is a positive thing in my opinion.  Too often literary fiction addresses ideas and neglects the story; conversely, women's fiction addresses the story and neglects the ideas.  I also think women's fiction can be too easily placed in a box that has limited appeal.  While I think this book will primarily appeal to women, I think it's something that can be read and enjoyed by men as well.  As far as quality goes, absolutely no issues.

Entertainment Value
Oh man.  I read it in two sittings, even though it's a fairly dense book, in terms of length as well as depth.  It was just absolutely engrossing.  I loved Moth so much.  She's a very young heroine and, due to her chosen profession, it's easy to forget that, but McKay does a great job of reminding the reader at times just how young Moth is.  It's a fascinating and heartbreaking story and I don't think McKay resorts to sentimentality to get her points across. 

I highly recommend giving this one a try.  It's deep, but accessible and absolutely fascinating.  Moth is a wonderful character.  My only dislike were the bits of information inserted into the story by Dr. Sadie.  Most of them were historical notes and I didn't really think they contributed much to the story, even in terms of cultural and historical relevance.  If the author describes a dress, for example, I don't need an additional side note with a more in-depth description of the dress.  Those were easily avoided though and the rest of the story completely made up for it.  Definitely give this one a try.

A big thank you to TLC for including me on this tour.  You can click here to see a full list of blogs participating