Thursday, June 19, 2014

Finding Me - Book Review

BookFinding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed: A Memoir of the Cleveland Kidnappings
AuthorMichelle Knight, Michelle Burford
Genre: Memoir 
Publisher/Publish DateWeinstein Books / May 6, 2014
Source: Public Library
Pages: 252
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

Wow, this is a hard book to read.

Michelle Knight was one of the three woman who were kidnapped by Ariel Castro in Cleveland, and escaped in May, 2013. Their story made headlines, and though we were all fascinated by it, I'm sure it was shocking for them to escape and then be center of national news.

She bravely retells her horrific story of daily abuse, imprisonment.  Kidnapped in 2002, at the age of 21, she was the first of the three to be abducted and imprisoned. Coming from a tough childhood, she had her first child in high school, who was later put in to foster care. As she was walking miles to downtown Cleveland for a custody hearing, she stopped to ask for directions and was offered a ride by Castro. He tricked her into coming into his house, where he then chained her in the basement.

She shares what happened to her during the early years, including infrequent showers, filthy conditions, starvation, beatings, and multiple forced miscarriages. He went on to kidnap and imprison two more girls, Amanda Berry at age 16, and Gina DeJesus at age 14. Amanda was blond and Castro's preferred girl, and he treated her better and eventually had a daughter with her. Michelle and Gina were chained together, forced to stay together on the same filthy mattress, but found strength in each other to make it through this awful ordeal.

Shockingly he had people over to his house, even introduced people to his and Amanda's daughter, and though his other children found his secrecy and locks on the doors strange, no one ever was concerned enough to contact police. This man was insane, and luckily eventually convicted and imprisoned. One day Amanda's daughter went downstairs, as she often did since she was free to move around the house, and found that Castro hadn't locked the inner front door as he normally did. Along with her mom Amanda, they were able to call for help through a slit in the door and were rescued by neighbors. The house where this all took place was demolished in August 2013.

A challenging and sad book to read, especially knowing that there are more people that are out there in situations like this that we don't know about. Hopefully by sharing her story, Michelle can help bring awareness to the situation, and we can all do a better job of looking out for our neighbors and those less fortunate. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Rosie Project - Book Review

BookThe Rosie Project
AuthorGraeme Simsion
Genre: Fiction 
Publisher/Publish DateSimon & Schuster / May, 2013
Source: Public Library
Pages: 295
Rating: 4/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

A fun read and smartly written book. I had heard a bit about this book before I picked it up at the library, but didn't really know what is was about and was pleasantly surprised.

Don Tillman is a smart man, but not very smart about life and love. At 40 he has few friends, a structured life he's comfortable with, but is looking for love. Since dating doesn't work too well for him, he's ever been on a second date, he sets out to write the perfect survey to help him find the perfect woman for him, embarking on The Wife Project.

His search isn't working too well, but into his life stumbles Rosie, with a project of her own, finding her biological father. Tillman puts his project on hold to help with The Father Project, learning a lot about life and how sometimes the unexpected can lead to great things.

When I look at his author page on GoodReads, I found it humorous, and not surprising, that before writing fiction he was a information systems and wrote two books on data-modelling. Seems like his real life was inspiration for this novel.

Excited to see that Simsion is working on a sequel that will be out in September of 2014, The Rosie Effect.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Love Does - Book Review

BookLove Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World
AuthorBob Goff
Genre: Christian, Non-Fiction 
Publisher/Publish DateThomas Nelson / January, 2012
Source: Public Library
Pages: 240
Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

I've put this book on the back burner for awhile, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. It's inspiring and full of stories that made me smile.

It's a quick read, with lots of good content and I think most people would really enjoy this book. I liked that the chapters are short, most with a personal story and then what Bob learned from his experience.

While Bob is a Christian, and he does speak about spirituality, I think there is inspiration in this book for all people. He reminds us invest in other people, tell a good story with your life, and fight hard for things that are important to you.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Paddle Your Own Canoe - Book Review

BookPaddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living
AuthorNick Offerman
Genre: Non-Fiction 
Publisher/Publish DateDutton Adult / October 1, 2013
Source: Public Library
Pages: 337
Rating: 3.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

I'm a huge fan of Nick Offerman's character on Parks & Rec, Ron Swanson, and knew enough about his personal life and woodworking background that I was pretty sure I was going to enjoy this books. I was right, though also pleasantly surprised by the depth and variety of this book.

A mix a narrative chapters about his life and instructional/topical essays, Offerman not only gives you a look into his life, and everything that lead him to his success in Hollywood, but also give great advice for aspiring actors and people in general.

The book is a bit racy in sections, just to warn you in case you plan to listen to this in audiobook form with your parents. Overall one of my favorite memoirs I've read in awhile.

Loved: the fun illustrations
Enjoyed: his tales of auditioning and working in Hollywood

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

what I've been reading....

Hi. It's nice to be back from my little break. Life got in the way of blogging and reading. It was all good stuff, but I have missed sharing here what I've been up to.

I was over on the other day, listing some books I'd finished reading, and decided to check out how I was doing on my goal of reading 75 books this year. Well, the news was bad. While I've read 13 books, I'm 17 books behind... yikes! Not sure if I can catch up, or if I even care to try, but I want to get back on the horse and read more the second half of the year. I also have piles of books in my room to read:)

Books I've read since I last posted...

Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis, by Lauren F. Winner
I picked this up since I loved her first book Girl Meets God and this didn't disappoint. Winner honestly shares her struggles with God and Christianity, and where she sees her self in the Christian story.

Here I Go Again, by Jen Lancaster
A hard book to explain without giving too much away, Lissy Ryder returns to her high school for her 20th reunion to discover that her memories were a little rose-tinted, and she may not be as successful and beloved as she once thought.

The Bling Ring: How a Gang of Fame-Obsessed Teens Ripped Off Hollywood and Shocked the World, by Nancy Jo Sales
While not the most well written book, it's an interesting look at the headline catching story of six LA teens who burglarized celebrity homes including Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and Orlando Bloom. This book attempts to discover the motivation behind the break-ins and what lead to their obsession with celebrity.

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories, by B.J. Novak
Random, odd, funny, heart-touching. A mix of short stories, Novak does an amazing job of fabricating unique stories, characters and places.

Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell
I've heard about how great this book is, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. It is definitely a young adult book, but is a beautiful story of two high school misfits finding love and seeing if they have what it takes to make it last.

Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers, by Anne Lamott
One of my favorite authors, Lamott shares the three prayers that get her through tough times, and shares personal stories that lead her to these three prayers.

The Knowledge of the Holy, by A.W. Tozer
I read this book with my church's small group. Tozer does an amazing job at identifying and expounding on God's attributes, such as wisdom, grace, mercy and justice. There was a lot of content that was new to me, and it's a dense book, elegantly written, and I probably re-read in a year or two.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Allegiant - Book Review

BookAllegiant (Divergent #3)
AuthorVeronica Roth
Genre: YA 
Publisher/Publish DateHarper Collins / October, 2013
SourcePublic Library
Pages: 526
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

For me, this book did not hold up to the first two books in the series, but it did an ok of wrapping up the story.

Allegiant picks up with Tris having the opportunity to venture beyond the fence, and discover what is beyond the walls of their city. What she finds is shocking and alarming, altering how she views her whole life up to that point.

This creates an exciting book, filled with a lot of new fascinating information, but also changes how I view Tris' story up to this point. I think I would have preferred reading all three books of the Divergent series back to back, as opposed to a year or so apart, and I think they would have read better that way.

This was not a super strong story to wrap up the series, and while it did tie up some loose ends, I wasn't satisfied with all the conclusions.

Did you read it? What did you think?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Helter Skelter - Book Review

BookHelter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders
AuthorVincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry
Genre: True Crime 
Publisher/Publish DateW. W. Norton & Company / 1974
Source: Public Library
Pages: 689
Rating: 4/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

This might possibly be some of the craziest 689 pages I've ever read. The story of the Manson Family and the Tate-Labianca murders is so twisted and outlandish that at times it's hard to believe the people who were part of The Family went along with all of Manson's requests.

I decided to pick this book up since while I had a rough idea of who Charles Manson was, I wasn't really sure what really happened, and what lead to his noteriety. Here's a little background care of Wikipedia...
"Charles Milles Manson is an American criminal and musician who led what became known as the Manson Family, a quasi-commune that arose in California in the late 1960s. He was found guilty of conspiracy to commit the murders of seven people, actress Sharon Tate and four other people at Tate's home, and the next day, a married couple, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, all carried out by members of the group at his instruction."
The story though goes beyond that, with multiple other murders linked to The Family, and details the culture and life that Manson created in the desert. Written by the prosecutor, Vincent Bugliosi, he's able to give us in in-depth view of the whole story, starting with Manson's early childhood, and how his years in the correctional system lead to him not being able to function properly in society. Though the discovery of the Tate murders and how to police were lead to question and finally arrest Manson and others from his Family.

While the Wikipedia article gives a good overview of what happened, this book is a great look at the smaller details of the case and the life of Charles Manson.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Book Review

BookForever, Interrupted
AuthorTaylor Jenkins Reid
Genre: Fiction, Chick-Lit 
Publisher/Publish DateWashington Square Press / July 9, 2013
SourceARC courtesy of publisher
Pages: 352
Rating: 4/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

“Have you ever heard of supernovas? They shine brighter than anything else in the sky and then fade out really quickly, a short burst of extraordinary energy. I like to think you and Ben were like that . . . in that short time, you had more passion than some people have in a lifetime.”

On a rainy New Year's Day, Elsie Porter heads out to pick up a pizza, and meets the charming Ben Ross. Their instant chemistry leads to a date that week, and an elopement by May. Nine days later, when Ben heads out to get cereal for Elsie, he is hit by a truck and killed on impact. At the hospital she has an unfortunate first introduction with her new mother-in-law Susan, who had never heard of Elsie.

As Taylor Jenkins Reid's first novel, this is very impressive. She interweaves Ben and Elsie's relationship with Elsie and Susan's grieving and healing. It's a beautiful story of love and loss, and learning to open yourself up to what the world has brought you.

This book had been on my shelf for a few months and I am glad I finally decided to read it. It's emotional, heart touching, book, dealing with romanic and friend relationships. The main character, Elsie Porter is wonderfully writer and relatable. I took this book on a trip, and it was the perfect one to pass a few hours on a plane and on layover. I'm a fan of light-hearted, silly chick-lit, but enjoyed that this had more depth to it, but wasn't overly sad or depressing.

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!