Wednesday, October 27, 2010

If I Stay

I heard about this book on another book blog and thought it looked interesting.  I had to see what it was all about.  It is a YA selection and for me, those can go either way.  About half the time, I am pleasantly surprised and really like the book, and the other half, well the word "junk" comes to mind.  Just because a book is written for a Young Adult audience does not mean it should be shallow and without substance.  This was certainly not one of those books. 

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is about a young girl who has just experienced a terrible automobile accident.  She then has to decide if she wants to live or die.  If she wants to stay or if she would rather go.  I can say no more- I refuse to ruin it for you.

It is simply and beautifully written.  It feels like the voice of a 17-year-old girl unsure of all the choices before her.  And reading it, I can almost see the author's outline of the story:  a main storyline with lots of tangents running off from each significant event.  But in a good way.  In a way that helps you imagine a 17-year-old girl telling you a story and breaking off at certain points to explain the significance and meaning behind it. 

I loved this book, but doing my best to avoid spoilers, it made me blubber like a huge baby.  Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm a huge cry baby.  I cry reading books, watching movie and TV shows, even some commercials find a sucker in me.  I'm a cryer and this book was a heartbreaker.  But I loved it.  Does that make any sense?  If you're anything like me, I think it will.  I have already recommended this and I only finished reading it last night.  Won't you pick it up and let me know what you think?

The Kind Diet

Months ago, I saw an episode of Oprah (I'm not a huge fan, but I'll watch when it's a topic I find interesting) and Alicia Silverstone was featured promoting her new book, "The Kind Diet."  I loved the episode and I couldn't wait to learn more.  I immediately put myself on the library waiting list for "The Kind Diet."  Along with everyone else in the Tucson area.  Oh, yeah, the list was really really long.  But I waited.  And I waited.  And I waited.  I watched as my name crawled toward the top of the list.  I thought I would never get there, but finally I could see some light at the end of the tunnel.  I was in the single digits- "You are now 9th of 389 holds on 15 copies."  And then I found out we were going to France for three months.  That was awesome, but I knew my name would come up and I would miss it.  So I removed my name and put it right back on the list.  The point is this: I've been waiting a LONG time to read this book and I was thrilled when I was able to bring it home. 

It is a book promoting the Vegan lifestyle and explaining how a plant-based diet is so much better for the planet, the animals and, probably most relevant for me, for yourself.  Don't get me wrong, I love the Earth and I try to be as green as I possibly can and, while I'm not a huge animal person, I have no interest in the suffering of other creatures.  It's just that the "this is so much better for your body" part is what spoke mostly loudly to me. 

From the book jacket:  [Alicia Silverstone] explains how meat, fish, milk, and cheese- the very goods we've been taught to regard  as the cornerstones of good nutrition- are actually the culprits behind escalating rates of disease and the cause of dire, potentially permanent damage to our ecology.... Whether your goal is to drop a few pounds, boost your energy and metabolism, or simply save the world, Alicia provides the encouragement, the information, and the tools you need to make the transition to a plant-based diet deliciously empowering.

I found the book interesting, easy to read and relatable.  It begins with all the reasons meat and dairy products are "nasty" to the Earth, the animals, and our bodies.  I didn't find it graphic like many things I've read about animal rights and the cruelty of the animal-food system, but it was clear enough.  The next section of the book explains how easy it can be to go from a meat eater to a vegan and beyond to a version of macrobiotics if the reader is interested.  Finally, the last section is filled with delicious-looking recipes.  I admit I haven't tried them yet, but I will.  Oh, I will. 

After reading this book, I can make no promises that I will become a vegan, but entering that lifestyle does appeal to me on more than one level.  I have found myself looking at my dinner plate with a very different perspective lately.  I have committed myself to serving more meat-free meals to my family and to reducing the amount of dairy I consume.  That last part will be a little easier since I've never really been a milk fan.  I want to be healthier.  I want my husband to be healthier.  And I especially want my children to grow up healthy and prepared to take care of those little bodies that I worked so hard to create within mine. 

I may have borrowed this book from my local library (I love my library!  If you aren't on excellent terms, nay, best friends with your local library, you don't know what you are missing!  Please get over there right away!), but I have already put it in my shopping cart.  I can't wait to have my own copy to re-read and to use in my kitchen.  Even if you aren't interested in going vegan, I would encourage you to pick this book up, give it a read and see what you learn.  You just never know...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

This summer we had the incredible experience of spending 3 months in the south of France.  It was great and I wouldn't have missed it for anything.  Unfortunately for me, we left the same day that "Twilight: Eclipse" was released in the theaters.  I really wanted to see it, but since I knew I would have to wait,  I also waited on reading this book:

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer is a short "novella" written from the perspective of Bree, one of the newborn vampires.  I had heard it would give extra insight into those newborn vampires that make such a big appearance in "Eclipse" and I thought it would be good to read just before seeing the film.  Well, since I had to wait to see the film, I waited to read the book. 

It's very short- like the author says, "a novella"-  and it gives a look into the newborn life.  I enjoyed it.  I think it makes a nice companion to the original Twilight books.  And I love that Meyer donated $1 from the sale of each book to the American Red Cross.  A win for everyone. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Last week was Banned Book Week as celebrated by the American Library Association.  One of the "Banned Books" that I kept hearing about was Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. 

This is an amazing book!  It is categorized as "Young Adult Fiction", but this is something everyone should read.  If you are in high school, if you ever been to high school, if you know anyone who is or has ever been in high school you most definitely should read this book.  Now is when I promise that I will try very hard to avoid spoilers.  It's not easy because I have so much I want to say about this book. 

I suspect the title is "Speak" because that is exactly what the main character, Melinda Sordino, can't do.  She can't speak.  Well, she can, but there are certain words she just can't get out.  She endures a horrible trauma before we meet her and the book details her first year of high school trying to deal with that trauma and all the additional typical pains of high school-dom.  You know what I'm talking about:  the constant fear of being the odd-girl out; of having no one with whom to eat lunch; of having a whole group of friends one minute and none the next.  

This book is for the girl in every one of us who didn't feel good enough- and it was all of us.  We all felt it, no matter our actual standing in the high school hierarchy.  This book tells that girl that it will all be okay and you can survive it.  But this book is also for that other girl inside of us- the one who couldn't see the pain in another girl's eyes as we laughed at her along with everyone else.  This book tells us that we have no idea what someone else has been through or why they are the way they are.  This book shows the need for compassion.

I loved this book.  I borrowed it from the library, but I have already ordered my own copy and one for someone else.  I will be reading it again and I'm sure I will recommend it over and over again.  This absolutely should be required reading in high school...or maybe even in middle school in preparation.

Now about the book banning thing- some jerk in Missouri thinks Speak is soft-core porn.  He threw a big fit at a school board meeting and demanded it be banned.  I'm not sure he ever read the book because when I read it, I kept waiting for it to get more graphic.  Guess what?  It never did.  The reader knows what happens, but it's never described.  Actually, I think this book is pretty tame as far as that goes.  I would have no problem giving this book to my 14-year-old step-daughter or to my own daughter when she enters high school. 

This is a book that should be read.  I hope you will read it and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

What This is All About...

If you've met me you know I love to read.  I've always been a reader.  Books gave me something to do on that long bus ride home from school every day when I was a kid.  Books have given me something to do while I sit in waiting rooms rather than thumbing through a two-year-old copy of Woman's Day magazine.  Books have helped me be much more willing to watch all those car shows and episodes of "Dirty Jobs" (although Mike Rowe is nice to look at).  I love books.

I love to read books.  I love to talk about books with my friends.  I love my book club.  I love the way a book feels in my hand (sorry, no Kindle or Nook for me).  And I love the smell of a book store or library.  I am a book nerd and I'm not one little bit embarrassed about it. 

Over the last two years, my book consumption has sharply increased.  I will admit that had something to do with a little franchise you may have heard of- Twilight.  Suddenly, I couldn't read enough.  I joined a book club (that is wonderful, by the way!).  I discovered a used book store in my library that sells books for $4 or less.  I spend way too much (time and money) on Amazon.  I am always reading something now.  

I was reading online recently about a woman setting a goal to read 144 books in a year and I thought, "Huh.  I wonder how many books I read this year?"  That is what this is all about.  I want to keep track of the books I've read, how many and what I thought about them.  I considered waiting for the New Year to start this, but why wait?  I want to start now.  And even thought I've read some great books this year, I probably won't go back and try to rehash them all.  I'm sure there will be a few that I feel the need to write about and I will probably put several of the more memorable ones in the list on the right, but a full report of this year I won't be able to make.  We'll just start from here and see how it goes. 

So these are my ramblings.  I hope you enjoy it.  I know I will!