Part history and part memoir, 100 Million Years of Food: What Our Ancestors Ate and Why It Matters Today by Stephen Le presents an anthropological survey of foods from our ancestor's diets to our modern diets. I learned much from the science presented in the book, really enjoyed Stephen Le's personal stories, and agreed with its ultimate message that fad diets don't work.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2016/01/100-million-years-of-food-what-our.html
Reviewed based on a publisher's galley received through NetGalley
The basis of this book is an actual box of letters and mementos that the author has. Through each of these items, the author concocts an imagined life for the woman to whom box belonged. The book includes color illustrations of the items and smart-phone codes to links to more information about each item.
Unfortunately, I got lost in the writing style and the story - and not in a good way. I found it difficult to keep the characters and the time period straight. The stories from the past and the present intermingled. The imagined history of this woman includes a love that her father did not approve of, a love lost in the war, a practical marriage, and an affair that results from the unhappiness of that marriage. The same items could have resulted in a very different story. I simply did not enjoy the one the author had to tell.
The issue of being comfortable in your skin and of body image versus body reality is at the heart of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad. Even though the book describes a journey of weight loss, weight gain, and a changing physical body, Elizabeth's image of herself as the "fat girl" never changes. A sad fiction that points at certain sad but very real, very true facets of our society.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2016/02/13-ways-of-looking-at-fat-girl.html
Reviewed based on a publisher's galley received through NetGalley
The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith is about loss, grief, friendship, compassion, and most of all, hope - ideas that are universal no matter what your beliefs. This book is a beautiful story of the difference a "true friend" can make and a gentle reminder to be a "true friend" to someone every day.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/12/the-13th-gift-true-story-of-christmas.html
Reviewed based on a publishers galley received through Edelweiss
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/04/200-knitting-tips-techniques-trade.html
200 Knitting Tips, Techniques & Trade Secrets is, as the title suggests, a book about knitting. The book is organized into sections dealing with different aspects of knitting - equipment, patterns, garment design, basic techniques, advanced techniques, knitting in the round, creative techniques, and assembly. Each section is further divided into short sections dealing with specific topics. Topics range from reading a pattern to choosing a garment shape for your body shape, from stitch patterns to hand dyeing yarn. Each topic includes descriptions, color illustrations, ideas to try, and tips to avoid or fix common mistakes. Please note that while the book does have some stitch patterns, it is not a pattern book.
The book has many positive aspects:
overview of a wide variety of knitting topics
topics addressing not just how to knit but why and what to knit for different needs
short independent sections addressing discrete topics that allow the book to be used as a reference
detailed table of contents and index
glossary and abbreviation list
The book targets both novice and experienced knitters. I am not sure where I would put myself in that range - not a novice but not experienced either. I found the descriptions of each section contained enough detail for me to incorporate the technique into my knitting. Other knitters may have a different reaction. Overall, an okay knitting reference book.
I just reread this book for the second time. This book falls under the category of self help books. The 29 gifts is a challenge to give 29 gifts in 29 consecutive days - very purposefully. It's origins in Cami Walker's story are in African traditions.
Most of us in our lives give to ourselves and to others on a continual basis. This book focuses on doing so mindfully with the attitude of giving rather than of obligation. I also like the fact that the book talks about balance - not giving so much that you yourself are depleted. This shift in attitude is where the "self improvement" comes in.
This same message can be heard through numerous other traditions, faiths, and teaching. This was an enjoyable way of being reminded.
A typical Danielle Steel book about a strong character in trying circumstances succeeding and finding happiness. Some interesting side stories for the other characters - one dealing with the loss of a spouse, one in an abusive relationship, and one dealing with child custody issues.
This book is less about the art of bread making and more a book about an obsessions. The bread making is the context for the author's journey of self discovery. I was more interested in the bread than his self-actualization. So, I was disappointed in this book because it not what I was expecting.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey represents an ideal, but it is an ideal that makes sense. Do I find myself able to implement to to its fullest? No, but the principles provide a way to center my thoughts and ground myself in my personal and professional life. That is why this book finds a permanent home on my bookshelf and why I still find myself recommending this book to others.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2016/01/the-7-habits-of-highly-effective-people.html
Absalom's Daughters by Suzanne Feldman is a story of race and poverty in the South in the 1950s. It is a story of a journey of two sisters. It is the story of two young women coming of age. Overall, the premise is promising, but the promise is not completely fulfilled. The book is entertaining but lacks the "wow" factor to make it a compelling and memorable one.
Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2016/07/absaloms-daughters.html.
Reviewed based on a publisher's galley received through NetGalley.
Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers is about the destructive impact of one person's anger on his entire family day by day by day and how it alters their life completely in one explosive moment. Unfortunately, with one main character who is not likable and one who is hard to connect to, I enjoyed the story but did not fall in love with it.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/08/accidents-of-marriage.html
Reviewed based on a publishers galley received through NetGalley
After the Bloom is a story structured in a commonly used framework - two time periods, two women, a daughter trying to untangle the puzzle of her mother. The broader context is the internment of the Japanese in the United States during World War. The personal story is of a young woman with troubling relationships - her father, her daughter's father, and others she meets at the camp. In this book, the fiction and the history take two different points of focus, making it challenging to engage with.
Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/05/after-bloom.html
After You by Jojo Moyes is the sequel to Me Before You. Definitely read them in order. In this book, the author manages to tell the story of grief with sensitivity and with humor - a reminder that even in despair, life and new beginnings flourish. It makes me care enough about the characters that I read the entire book in one sitting. Now I wonder, will there be a third installment?
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2015/10/after-you.html
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2012/06/afterwards.html
The story of Afterwards is narrated by a woman in a coma. Yes, a woman on the brink of death, in a coma. It is not flashbacks. It is narrated in present time by her soul or essence or being or whatever you want to call it as it floats outside her body. Sounds a little bizarre, right? Except that it turns out to be a pretty good story.
Grace has run into a burning building to save her daughter Jenny. Now, they both are in the hospital fighting for their lives. And their souls or essence or being or whatever you want to call it are together outside of their bodies. They both watch the story unfold - the reactions of those around them and the story of how that fire actually happened. They follow people, listen in on conversations, and learn things about themselves and others. Yet, they can't influence any of it. They cannot pass of the information they learn.
The story of the fire and the book comes to a somewhat predictable close but with interesting twists and turns and interesting character studies along the way. Periodically while reading this book, I stopped to think that it was odd listening to the narration from a person outside of herself. However, mostly, Grace and Jenny each became two distinct characters - their bodies that lay in a coma and the reality of who they were as they floated through this story.
The story became one of parenting and love - what would you do to protect those you love? How far would you go? What risks would you take? What choices would you make? What priorities would you set? So, a somewhat different narration but a really good story.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a fable a story of the young shepherd Santiago who learns the valuable lesson of pursuing one's dream in the face of obstacles; and the even more valuable lesson of being present in every moment of the process it takes to get there. It is a simply told story with a lot of absorb. It spoke to my heart. Worth reading and re-reading.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/06/the-alchemist-25th-anniversary-edition.html
*** Reviewed based on a copy received through a publishers giveaway ***
WARNING: This book is most definitely not for children.
I read this book because it reminded me of the Politically Correct Bedtime Stories series.
Tumblr is a short form blogging platform. Each set of two pages in this book includes a tumblr-like post. The books goes back and forth between different characters - Peter Pan, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty, and Pinocchio to name a few.
Unfortunately, that is where the tie to the fairly tales ends.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/02/alice-in-tumblr-land.html
On the surface, All Our Wrong Todays, the debut novel by Elan Mastai is a roller coaster ride of science fantasy with travel through time and place. Below the surface is an inward journey for the main character Tom Barren with philosophical statements on self-discovery, relationships, and life. Either way, the book is an entertaining page-turner that leaves me with a lot to think about.
Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/01/all-our-wrong-todays.html
Reviewed for NetGalley and the Penguin First to Read program
All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is a World War II story, but it is not about the politics, battles, winners, or losers of the war. It is about two young individuals - one on either side of the conflict - who are both victims of the war. The intricate, circular structure of the book between Marie-Laure's story and Werner's story provides a beautiful rhythm and flow to the story.
Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2014/09/all-light-we-cannot-see.html
Review first published on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2011/12/all-secret-things.html
All The Secret Things is the story of Emily. The above quote summarizes Emily's journey throughout the book. The book begins with Emily as a child and goes through her life as she becomes an adult with a family of her own. She experiences things no child should - neglect, abandonment, abuse. Throughout her journey, she also has people who seem to love her. She experiences the love, but it is overshadowed by the losses and the secrets. "All the secret things" are the secrets her family keeps about her parents' relationship and her birth.
Throughout this book, you feel for Emily and everything she suffers. It is also maddening that no adults in her life are able to protect her from neglect, abandonment, and abuse. It is a story of strong emotions. However, it feels like sometimes the book tries t***o hard. The situations in Emily's life are rather extreme, and it ends up being a little unbelievable that no one, not even those who love her, is able to stop them or even temper them. For some, justifications are given why nothing is done. However, the characters seem to embody one main character trait and not develop throughout the book. As such, the justifications ring untrue.
The secrets of Emily's life are about her birth. The secrets are revealed as the book nears its end. However, at that point, the book is more about her life experiences and her suffering. As a reader, the secrets do not seem to matter. What matters is how Emily is able to survive her childhood.
***Reviewed for Library Thing Member Giveaway Program***
Review first posted on my blog: http://memoriesfrombooks.blogspot.com/2013/04/all-woman-and-springtime.html
All Woman and Springtime is the story of two friends Gyong-Ho and Il-Sun. The two meet as young girls in an orphanage in North Korea. Both are learning to live with the devastation their young lives have already seen. Both are very different, and yet are drawn to each other. A friendship flourishes as they grow up.
As they become young women, their life choices start to diverge. Yet, the friendship lasts and continues to sustain them. As a result of circumstances and choices, they are sold into the sex trade in South Korea. Life leads them through dismal circumstances, yet somehow always together.
The book is a very sad story of the girls' life under the North Korean regime and unfortunately, gets even sadder as they leave that regime for what they think will be a better life. Along the way, they meet people who befriend them and people who betray them.
As such, this book has all the making of a beautiful read - sympathetic characters, a sad situation, and a world issue that deserves attention. Unfortunately, something about the book kept me from an emotional connection with the book. Perhaps the writing style. Perhaps elements of the story that I felt unnecessary. I am not really sure. I am almost tempted to reread it to see what it was that prevented the book from reaching that point, but I probably won't. It was an okay read, but not one that pulled me in completely and held me.
*** Reviewed for the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program ***