Book Review: All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg

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Release date: March 7, 2017

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Genre: Fiction/Contemporary

Premise: Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid—she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh—that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult: her best friend, Indigo, is getting married; her brother—who miraculously seems unscathed by their shared tumultuous childhood—and sister-in-law are having a hoped-for baby; and her friend Matthew continues to wholly devote himself to making dark paintings at the cost of being flat broke. But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart?

Thoughts + Feelings: There were a couple tidbits of this book that almost made me consider it a good book – but the positives were so few and far between, this just wasn’t an enjoyable read. The most notable quote from the entire novel is “Your context is different than my context.” In today’s society of political correctness, I think that this is a key point that many people forget. Just because my personal life is different than your personal life doesn’t make mine/yours any worse, or any better. We’re each in different circumstances and we’re all allowed to feel how we feel — we’re human and we are allowed to have feelings. One aspect of society that I have the hardest time dealing with is how when we (a person in society) has a problem, everyone else’s problem seems to go by the wayside. We need to care about everyone, not just ourselves. We can work together to make the world a better place for everyone, but that means we have to work to understand other viewpoints, perspectives and contexts. “Stop telling me about myself.” This is another problem in our society. We speak for others when we do not truly understand the situations that they are in. We need to learn to communicate in order to have a more peaceful and understanding society.

This book just wasn’t for me. Maybe I didn’t understand the bigger picture and only saw the tiny pieces, but Andrea just seemed to never grow up to me. Having a revelation on the last 3 pages doesn’t count for me. Thinking about the story, I see how Andrea is young and impressionable as a child — how she starts making her own decisions in her twenties –how she strays from her family and ultimately comes to realize how important they are to her. I see it. I can appreciate it. It is her story, her perspective on life. It just wasn’t for me.

Rating: ⭐⭐

Recommend? Meh, I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. I didn’t get the good vibes from this book at all.

Book Review: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

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Release date: 1947 (originally), July 1993 (this version)

Publisher: Bantam Books, Mass Market Paperbacks

Genre: Non-Fiction

Premise: Anne Frank was born in Frankfurt Germany in 1929. When the Nazis gained control of Germany, Frank and her family moved to Amsterdam, Netherlands. As the Frank family was Jewish, as the persecution against the Jewish increased in Amsterdam, the family moved into “the Secret Annexe” which was a group of concealed rooms behind a bookcase in the building where Otto Frank (her father) had previously worked. With the help of several non-Jewish friends on the outside, the Franks were able to survive in the Annex for two years before being captured and sent to concentration camps in 1944. The Diary of a Young Girl is a collection of Anne Frank’s thoughts and feelings during her growth from childhood into adolescence while being locked away with her family in hiding.

*Thoughts + Feelings contains some spoilers*

Thoughts + Feelings: I wasn’t quite sure how The Diary of a Young Girl would affect me. This book has been sitting on my book shelf for many years, and has been sitting in the back of my mind as needed to be read for even longer. One tidbit of information that I never knew was how close to surviving Anne Frank was to surviving the Holocaust. With the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp being liberated on April 12, 1945, Anne and her sister Margot were just months, or weeks, away from surviving the entire experience.

I found it interesting how grown up Anne Frank came across in her diary writing. The diary was written in between the ages of 13-14-15, which is not a time that is normally associated with thought out matters in the mind of a young girl. At one point her introspective-ness hit me while she was reflecting on her previous writings about her mother… it “allowed me to see things only from my own perspective,  without calmly considering what others… had said.” Even at age 23, I am not sure that I see this clearly sometimes. I know that there are a bunch of conspiracies about whether or not Anne Frank actually wrote the diary or if it was published as propaganda — This is one of the aspects of the book that really makes me question if a teenager could write something so moving?

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Recommend? I think that The Diary of a Young Girl has become a classic — one that all students and educated individuals should read. This will help us ensure that nothing like the Holocaust happens again in the future.

Ten Books That Take Place in Another Country (Outside the U.S.A.)

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

This week we are sharing the top ten books that have taken place outside of the country, which for me is the United States. I can honestly say that I did not love all of these books, but I found it really challenging to remember what books I have read that took place in another country. I think I’m going to aim to read more books that take place elsewhere so this question won’t be so hard in the future!

  1. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
  2. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson
  3. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  4. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
  5. American Sniper by Chris Kyle
  6. Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elias MacNeal
  7. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  8. Evening Primrose by Kopano Matlwa
  9. In the Country We Love: My Family Divided by Diane Guerrero
  10. I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Did you also have trouble coming up with books from other countries? Holy moley, this was so hard!

It’s Monday, what are you reading? #2

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

Last week was a much slower reading than the previous one. I had been reading Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers for a couple weeks and I was finally able to pull through and finish it! You can click the picture below to take you to my full review!

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This week I am going to finish The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. This is another book that I have been struggling to get through (hence the bold lettering above because I am so serious about finishing it). It’s not a bad book, nor does it have particularly challenging language… but it just seems to drag on.

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If I ever finish The Diary of a Young Girl, I will read All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg, The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe.

 

Do you ever have books that just take forever and a day to get through? Do you fight through them or do you add them to your DNF list?

 

 

 

Down the TBR Hole #1

Down The TBR Hole is a meme started by Lia at Lost in the Story that revolves around cleansing your TBR of all those books you’re never going to read and sort through it all to know what’s actually on there.

It works like this:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

I loved the idea of having a ‘To-Be Read‘ and adding in a ‘Someday-Maybe‘ and ‘Educational Reads‘ shelf. So throughout my Down the TBR Hole I will be nixing books, adding books to the Someday-Maybe shelf and only keeping those that I really, really want to read on my TBR Shelf.

THE BOOKS

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Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

Because it is written by Jodi Picoult, I honestly do not care what it is about. Harvesting the Heart will stay on my TBR list until I can purchase it and read it. I own almost ever single Jodi Picoult book, so this one will be no different.

 

 

 

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Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

Did you see my description above? This one will be staying on my TBR until its completed!

 

 

 

 

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The Ames Strain: The Mystery Behind America’s MostDeadly Bioterror Attack by David Willman

I’ll be moving this book to my educational reads shelf to be read eventually. I have a bunch of books that will fall into this category because during my master’s program I kept finding books that looked so interesting in regards to biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and diseases! (Sounds frightening, I know).

 

 

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Our Revolution?: A Future to Believe In by Bernie Sanders
At one point I really thought I was into Bernie Sander’s political views. I honestly don’t always know what I believe politically now, so eventually I would like to read about *OUR* revolution, but for right now… its gonna go sit on my someday maybe.

 

 

 

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The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
I’m a fan and lover of Shondaland, so I was interested to see how she spent her ‘year of yes.’ But I don’t think I’ll be getting to it anytime soon. –> Someday, maybe.

 

 

 

 

 

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There I Go Again: How I Came to Be Mr. Feeny, John Adams, Dr. Craig, KITT, and Many Others by William Daniels

Feeny, feeny, feeeeeeeennnny! I didn’t know that William Daniels played other roles besides my personal favorite teacher, Mr. George Feeny. He taught me a lot about life throughout Boy Meets World, so I hope someday maybe his memoir will teach me something too.

 

 

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Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

It’s supposed to be one of the best novels of all time and it’s been sitting on my bookshelf collecting dust for a couple years (whoops!). I’m going to keep it in my TBR because I want to be able to read the book and donate it to someone who may like it more than me.

 

 

 

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There Will Be Stars by Billy Coffey

I picked this book up at the Carrollwood Book Swap in Florida a couple years ago. The lady at the cash register was happy to have a customer walk in and proceeded to show me ~12 books. Ultimately I choose this one because I liked the cover. I never read the summary (I probably should’ve). Because I spent my hard-earned money on it, I’m going to read it. It stares at me while I relax and watch television in the evenings. It’s gonna happen soon.

 

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All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
I’m knocking this one off my TBR and to the curb. I honestly don’t know where I found it, but it was added to my TBR very early on in my exploration of Goodreads. I have a feeling that it was being offered as a giveaway and I was like YAAAAS because the cover is pretty, but after reading the description I do not think that I will ever get to it.

 

 

 

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The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

I am not a business person so I have no idea what came over me to add this to my TBR. I’m just gonna remove this one now.

 

 

 

 

unsweetined.pngunSweetined by Jodie Sweetin 
I have a soft spot for memoirs of my previous television obsessions. I grew up watching Full House and now I like to occasionally binge-watch Fuller House. Up until I added this to my TBR, I had no idea that she had gone through such a tough time as a child actress. While I won’t be keeping this on my fulltime TBR, it will now go to live on my Someday Maybe shelf.

 

 

 

information warfare.pngInformation Warfare and Security by Dorothy E. Denning

This was one of those books that I needed for graduate school. I’ve read bits + pieces of it over the semester in my homeland security class. I hope to one day read it in its entirety. It’s definitely educational, so I’ll send it to educational reads.

 

 

 

containment.pngContainment by Hank Parker

Mr. Parker taught my Agroterrorism class last spring. This book came out right around the time the semester began so he was pumping it up for us in class. Similarly to how they said we should read The Hot Zone (which I later did), they also suggested we read Containment. I’ll get to it eventually. I’d feel bad removing it from my TBR completely since I know the guy who wrote it.

 

 

 

andromeda.pngThe Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton

When I added this to my TBR, I definitely thought it was about something else… I’m a big fan of disease outbreak novels because I have a strange, strange interest in biological disease outbreaks and their use as potential weapons. Upon re-reading the summary, I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m gonna delete this one from my TBR.

 

 

 

cobra.pngThe Cobra Event by Richard Preston

Obviously the day I added this book to my TBR I was on a roll with the disease outbreak books! This one I’ll keep in my someday maybe pile because I loved Richard Preston’s The Hot Zone. From what I’ve heard about The Cobra Event, I imagine that this one will be equally as well written.

 

 

 

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The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts of Reclaiming the American Dream by Barack Obama

Written pre-Presidency, Barack Obama published The Audacity of Hope. So much has changed in the 12 years that this was written, I don’t know how relevant reading this will be. But much like Our Revolution by Bernie Sanders, I’ll hold onto this one with the hope that I’ll enjoy reading political memoirs at some point.

 

 

Have you read any of the books that I’ve decided to delete or those I plan on reading someday, maybe? Leave a comment and let me know!

Book Review – Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

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Release date: April 17, 2003

Publisher:  W. W. Norton Company

Genre: Non-Fiction/Medical

Premise: For thousands of years human cadavers have been used willing (and unwillingly) for research purposes around the world. Mary Roach does a deep dive into understanding what we have learned from these bodies in different societies and how we are still using human cadavers in today’s world to learn more about people and the world around us.

Thoughts + Feelings: What a weird, weird book to read. I have always been fascinated by the human body. For a long time I wanted to go to medical school to become a medical examiner and investigate the cause of death in different crimes. As weird as the book was, I loved it. I devoured it. I re-read bits and pieces of it because I thought it was so incredibly cool.

My favorite part of the book was about University of Tennessee’s Anthropological Research Facility, more commonly known as ‘The Body Farm.’ At this research facility, dead bodies are placed in different situations to see how they react to the elements such as weather, bugs, type of ground, etc. Thinking about this in connection to my previous desire of being a medical examiner, you can understand why this was my favorite part of the entire book.

Mary Roach brings an air of comedy to life after death in regards to cadavers. She opens the novel mentioning how there are some people who do not like what she’s writing about because it’s disrespectful to those who have passed. But honestly, we have learned so much from the study of cadavers over history, I have absolutely no problem with her research.

Ballistic gelatin is essentially a tweaked version of Knox dessert gelatin. It is denser than dessert gelatin, having been formulated to match the average density of human tissue, is less colorful, and, lacking sugar, is even less likely to please dinner guests.

I also spent some time in my masters program learning about infectious diseases, such a prions in cows (the mechanism that causes Mad Cow Disease). An interesting topic that Roach investigated was tissue digestion which is where instead of cremation we use water and lye (an alkali) to degrade the bodies down to a purely bone substance. Thinking about this in connection to the removal of diseases around the world, I think it’s an incredible idea to use tissue digestion to rid the world of powerful pathogens.

There is no question that tissue digestion makes good sense for disposing of dead animals. It destroys pathogens, and, more important, it destroys prions—including the ones that cause mad cow disease…

I also appreciated Mary Roach’s discussion on what she’s going to choose to do with her body upon her eventual death. I don’t personally know how I feel about donating my entire body to science, although from her description (at this point in time), it seems as if donated bodies are treated properly. Who knows what’ll happen!

Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

Recommend? I wouldn’t recommend this book to a broad general audience. While it was comedic, I don’t think most people would enjoy it. But if you know someone with a quacky sense of humor who also thinks bodies are awesome, I would highly recommend this book to them.

What are you thoughts on donating your body to science? I would love to know where other people stand on this topic! Leave me a comment below and tell me how you feel!

Audiobook Review: Bossypants by Tina Fey

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Release date: April 5, 2011

Publisher:  Reagan Arthur Books

Genre: Memoir/Humor

Length of Audiobook: 05:32:28

Premise:  Beginning during childhood through her time on SNL, writing 30 Rock and being a mom, Tina Fey dictates her story, through her own lens.

Thoughts + Feelings: I decided that I was going to listen to Bossypants as an audiobook, instead of reading it in a book-book. This was my first audiobook and I’m not entirely sure how I feel about listening to a book versus reading it with my own eyes. I am a very visual individual, so I found it challenging to stay focused on Tina Fey’s voice over a long period of time. I read Lauren Graham’s Talking as Fast as I Can and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please! last year. While I loved reading them, I thought it was possible that I would’ve enjoyed them more in their author’s voices. After listening to Bossypants, I am not quite sure about that…

That being said, I have found a love for Tina Fey. I could feel her personality radiating from the audiobook and felt like I was experiencing these parts of her life in her shoes. Tina Fey is funny — which is one of the reasons why I choose this memoir for the challenge prompt “A book you expect to make you laugh” in the Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge. I came into this audiobook knowing that she appeared in SNL and that she wrote 30 Rock and Mean Girls, but I hadn’t fully embraced her in those roles. Listening to her love and passion for all of the items she’s involved in makes me want to go back and re-watch all of her Weekend Updates and start 30 Rock from the beginning (Honestly, I just started watching 30 Rock from the beginning because of this memoir).

She brings a truth to the life of an television personality. She’s a terrific narrator — I appreciated the feminist leanings that she offered. Tina Fey is a strong, intelligent woman who is a mom, director, wife and friend. From this memoir, you can see how all the puzzle pieces of her life have come together to make her who she is. And that’s something I can appreciate.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Recommend? I would recommend this audiobook to someone who just needs to chuckle throughout the day. Tina Fey is easy to listen too and it’s not hard to following along with her story. I may have enjoyed it more if I had read the physical book or I may not have. It’s hard to make that guess.

 

Top Ten Books on my Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
This week we are sharing the top ten books on my spring TBR list.

  1. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  2. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe
  3. Princess Elizabeth’s Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal
  4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  5. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  6. Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham
  7. School for Psychics by K.C. Archer
  8. The Sun Does Shine by Anthony Ray Hinton
  9. Would You Rather? by Katie Heaney
  10. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni

The last four books are selections that I’ve received from NetGalley and haven’t had the chance to read yet. I am dedicating April (especially while I am travelling abroad and do not want to carry physical books with me) to finishing the these four books!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

As a new blogger, I am always looking for new ways to engage with readers and showcase what I’ve been reading and working on each week.

What I read last week:

Still Me was the third book in the Louisa Clark saga and I am SO happy that this series is hopefully over.

No Place to Die was an incredibly short, easy read. While it was fun to read, there was very little depth to the characters and the story.

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well was your average self-help book. It was cute to read, but Pinterest could teach you everything you wanted to know about Hygge.

Silent Victim was an Amazon First Reads book from February 2018. It was a fast-paced, exciting thriller.

What I’m reading this week:

Diary of a Young Girl – I am traveling to Amsterdam in a couple weeks and visiting the Anne Frank house. I wanted to have read her diary prior to this experience.

All Grown Up

Bossypants – This is the first audiobook I’m taking a shot at listening too!

Things Fall Apart


When you first started blogging, what kind of things did you do to engage with your audience and begin to build your base?

Book Review: Silent Victim by Caroline Mitchell

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I came across Silent Victim in February 2018 when it was one of the books offered through Amazon First Reads. I was intrigued by the cover art and by the tagline: “Sometimes the truth hurts more than a lie.”

Release date: March 1, 2018

Publisher: Thomas and Mercer

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Premise: Emma is married to Alex. Alex wants to move away from Emma’s childhood home and into the city because he has the opportunity for a new job. However, Emma has a secret. For years she has been a devoted wife and a mom, but she also believes that she’s committed murder. For years she’s been hiding the dead body of the teacher who seduced her as a teen.

Emma ends up telling her husband when he goes to sell the house and it opens up a whirlwind of feelings, secrets and absolute chaos in their lives.

Thoughts + Feelings: First thing first… I couldn’t put Silent Victim down. In eighty-one mini chapters, my heart was ripped out of my chest and stomped on. I never knew what direction the story was going to go, and I needed to get through the pages to know how it ended. The novel took place in three different years: 2003, 2013 and 2017. Some chapters were 2-3 pages, others were longer. The length of the chapters didn’t change that they all held cliffhangers(!!)  My one complaint about the mini chapters is that sometimes there were two Emma chapters in a row that took place in the same time frame. From a reader’s perspective, this threw me off because I was looking for a different environment, not just a continuation of the same scene.

I loved the way that Caroline Mitchell developed her characters. I loved the progression that can be seen in Emma from when she’s a child in high school to the grown, married woman she becomes. The strongest part of the story is the parallel in Emma’s mental health from the torment she goes through with Luke in high school to the fear that is instilled in her when she thinks that he is back in her life and stalking her.

When Alex begins to question Emma’s sanity, it made me begin to question Emma’s sanity, as well as the rest of the story. Mitchell wrote each piece of this story so succinctly — it just makes you want and need to read through the rest of the novel in one sitting.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Recommend? Do you love a good thriller novel? If yes, then this is a good book for you. It went in so many unexplainable directions that I could recommend this book for most people.