Sunday, July 28, 2013

Book Review

It's been awhile since my last book review but it took me like a month to get through Clash of Kings so I made up for it by reading lots on vacation!

Brain on Fire was recommended to me by Celeste (my bff and personal long distance nurse practitioner). It's a medical memoir by a journalist who developed a rare case of autoimmune encephalitis in her early twenties and her struggle to find a diagnosis other than mental illness or psychosis. There is a college student at our church who has recently had the same diagnosis, but sadly has not recovered as fast as the author of this book. I kept thinking of her as I read this and my heart broke. I enjoyed the book and was saddened by some of the doctors the family encountered and could relate to life with an un-diagnosed illness (however mine is not NEAR this severe). The support system she had throughout it all was amazing and it leaves you wondering how many others without a support system are out there in psych wards with this same condition. Tough to think about. Anyway I give it an 8 and recommend it if you like memoirs or rare autoimmune conditions.

Growing Up Amish was another memoir that I saw recommended in People magazine (you never know how those are gonna go). It's the author's story of growing up in a strict Amish faith (some of those liberal Amish can drive cars, use phones, and have buttons instead of snaps!) and his struggle on deciding to stay or leave when he got older. It was an interesting look into a life that I think fascinates a lot of people. The simplicity of their faith seems so ideal as an outsider, but hearing it from an insider you of course see the complications of it too. Some parts seemed to drag on or were repetitive, but overall I enjoyed it and never once sang Weird Al's Amish Paradise while reading it (but while I typed this review it's all that's in my head!). I give it a 7 and recommend it if you like memoirs or strict religious sects.

Tender is the Night. FAIL! I could not be more saddened by the fact that I CHOSE this book for book club and didn't even want to finish it! I mustered through since it was my choice but I honestly wanted to email everyone after I read it and said "Uh...if it's not too late can I pick another one so you won't all hate me?" I loved Gatsby so I picked up this one by Fitzgerald and the description sounded wonderful. The only positive thing I can say is that his writing truly is beautiful, but this story got lost in the timeline, the details that seemed irrelevant, flatness of characters, and time specific phrases and references that were lost on me in 2013. I wanted to read all of his works but now...I'm scared to. I apologize to my book club. I give this a 1.5 and recommend it only to those in prison with time on their hands.

A Clash of Kings. The second in the Song of Ice and Fire (or as everyone else know it Game of Thrones) series and it took me awhile to get into it. I'd forgotten a lot of the last story but there is enough mention of various acts in this one to help me. The new characters were hard for me to care about too, but I had 900 pages to learn about them! That's why I read so few books this month. This book seemed a bit more graphic and violent, but I'm still fascinated with the story line and want to know what happens. The books are just so long and such a time suck for me that I doubt I'll get the third one anytime soon as my list of other books I want to read is piling up! I give it an 8.

Life of Pi. This is the new book for next month's book club and I loved it! It was different and it made me ponder and I'm ready to see the movie now. I'm really curious as to how the director portrayed the events in the book. I also am really looking forward to our book club discussion. At times I had to skim through the grotesque animal eating parts, but other than that I loved it and give it a 9. The twist at the end really makes you think and I recommend it to everyone. I loved all the ways he found to incorporate animal behavior knowledge into a believable tale of how one might survive on a boat with a tiger, but possibly the best part is that the tiger's name is Richard Parker.

Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse. So after I was 100 pages into this book, I was like "isn't this supposed to be about pregnancy, labor, and babies?" So I re-checked the title and it was part 2 of the series. Whoops! Apparently there are 3 books and the second one gives more info about certain characters. I read the whole thing though and loved it. I knew nothing about poor people in London after WWII or about the workhouses so I feel educated now. It reminded me a bit of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. She tells three short stories in this memoir and I enjoyed each one. I give it an 8 and recommend it if you like history or memoirs or medical topics. Now I'm ready to read the first one in the series and then maybe I can watch the show on Netflix that I hear is so good!

Rules of rating seen here. What are you reading?


kmom said...

I liked the movie Life of Pi.

Erica Vance said...

I love your book reviews and try to read the ones you rate highly. :)

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading a series written by a local author and "co-worker" (I've never actually worked with her but we have the same job and could potentially). It's called Tiger's Curse and I loved it! Made me want to learn more about India and their culture and language. Jessica Van Winkle

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