The Girl He Used to Know – Tracey Garvis Graves

Rating: 3 stars (would go to 3.5 if Goodreads allowed)

Cliff Notes: This was a fun, quick little read.

Full Summary: Part of what was fun for me with this book is that I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The main character goes to school at U of I around the time when I was there. I recognized several of the places mentioned.

I also related to how awkward Annika is. I tend to lean towards awkward myself! I have never been diagnosed with autism, and honestly I don’t even think we needed to go there in this book. I read somewhere that we are all on the spectrum. In my opinion, leaving out the diagnosis would have been more compelling because it would have been more relatable. It would have made her “weirdness” all of our “weirdness.”

The Girl He Used to Know - Tracey Garvis Graves
By |2019-12-12T19:15:31-05:00September 17th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Fleishman Is in Trouble – Taffy Brodesser-Akner

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: I like the different perspectives. But did it really take 12 hours to tell us his struggle and 1 hour to tell her side?

Full Summary: This book reminded me of a watching the third season of The Handmaid’s Tale and listening to the Eyes on Gilead podcast after each episode. I was super excited for the post season live show recording. There are always insightful comments by the podcast hosts, and I was sure the Q&A session was going to be AMAZING. Then the first question is from a dude asking something inane about THT being about empowering women. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! DID YOU EVEN WATCH THE SHOW EVER?! GET OFF THE DAMN MICROPHONE.

Fleishman Is in Trouble - Taffy Brodesser-Akner

I put this book on my TBR because Elizabeth Gilbert told me to. After City of Girls, I want to do everything she says. This is from her review: “Just the sort of thing that Philip Roth or John Updike might have produced in their prime (except, of course, that the author understands women).”—Elizabeth Gilbert. Wow, a man who understands women?! Sign. Me. Up.

<<Insert sound of needle scratching across a record here.>>

It was a big NOPE.

This book goes on for HOURS about well, Fleishman being in trouble. His wife has left him with the kids so he cannot hook up with random strangers from Tinder. Then there is a “twist,” and we hear about the woman’s side for approximately 10% of the narration. Give me a break. I am sure the point was supposed to be “Ooooohhhh, I guess this means there are 2 sides to every story,” but really there are three – yours, mine and the truth.

In the book there is a comment by the friend about how no one wants to read a book that is not about a man. Is this some meta statement because I think that what the author is exactly trying to do with Fleishman is in Trouble. I felt duped and strung along, then walloped upside the head with how hard life is for white men. Give me a fucking break.

By |2019-12-12T19:16:39-05:00September 8th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Dream Daughter – Diane Chamberlain

Rating: 4 stars


Full Summary: Time travel always seems like a great idea to me. I mean… Outlander, amIright?! After I read the first Outlander book, I started to learn more about herbal medicine so I am ready. There is a little ring of stones at the top of my neighborhood. Let me tell you – there are times I drive by after a long day at work or a trying “discussion” with the kids and just gaze longingly at them…

Anywho. This. Book. People! I would have rated it 5 stars because I liked the characters and the plot really zipped along without getting bogged down in the science of time travel. The sister was a bit whiney at times, but I guess if my sister vanished into thin air with a return date of TBD, I may be a bit off also. But I rated it 4 stars because as you know, I CANNOT abide by happy endings.

The Dream Daughter - Diane Chamberlain
By |2019-12-12T19:17:52-05:00September 2nd, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth – Sarah Smarsh

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: So many social justice issues in this memoir. While hiking with our dogs during the days I was reading this book, I found myself shouting at Bixby and his friend about some of these concerns.

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth Sarah Smarsh

Full Summary: I never put details in my reviews about what the book is about because seriously – just Google it or read the back of the book to find out what it’s about. But I am including the book details from Smarsh’s website because I think we get bogged down in terms like “Social Justice” and turned off by tag-lines like “Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.” Honestly, I am not even sure I am using the term “social justice” correctly. Read this summary don’t get outraged – I triple dog dare you. Then read the book, and YOU explain where they could have “just done XYZ to get out of the situation.”

Note: Bold type below is mine for EMPHASIS so we PAY ATTENTION.

Smarsh was born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, the child of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. In HEARTLAND, she introduces readers to a compelling cast of characters through the generations—grandmothers who act as second mothers, farmers who work themselves to the bone, builders who can’t afford their own homes, children who move from school to school. Smarsh maps her family’s impoverished lives against the destruction of the working class that the Reagan era wrought: the demise of the family farm, the dismantling of public health care, the defunding of public schools, and wages so stagnant that full time laborers could no longer pay the bills. Readers will learn what Smarsh did: the working poor in America are sold a lie. Working hard in this country probably won’t get you ahead after all.

Now I must climb off my soap box and get to work. Let me leave you with this one gem from the book:

What you don’t transmute, you transmit.

By |2019-12-12T19:18:38-05:00August 29th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

The Great Believers – Rebecca Makkai

Rating: 4 stars

Cliff Notes: I am sure there was symbolism that I did not catch (I generally just want to read a good book), but I really could have thrown out the whole 2015 timeline.

Full Summary: It was moving to read about the AIDS epidemic in Chicago from a perspective of me being alive during that time and living only 45 minutes away. I would like to think I would have been like Fiona. This book is definitely one that stayed with me after I finished reading it.

If you ever have a chance to view the AIDS quilt, it is incredibly powerful. I am horrified about the treatment of AIDS patients by family members and health care workers. It made me wonder if there are situations like that today – that we will look back in 30 years and wonder what we were thinking, why we (or maybe I) didn’t stand up for the someone suffering.

The Great Believers  Rebecca Makkai
By |2019-12-12T19:20:08-05:00August 19th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Recursion – Blake Crouch

Rating: 4 stars

Cliff Notes: I loved it until I got caught up in the number of lives and the timelines – just like with Dark Matter and the number of Jasons.

Full Summary: I definitely plan on going to this author’s backlist for future TBR choices.

I am married to a Super Nerd and when he saw that I was reading a book called Recursion, he was really excited and impressed. Apparently “recursion” is a nerd topic or theory of something or other. I am not smart enough or really interested at all in what recursion is, but it was funny to watch him think I had turned a nerd corner, then to watch it slide off of his face.

Recursion Blake Crouch
By |2019-12-12T19:20:45-05:00August 15th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE – Phil Knight

Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: I liked how he talked in this book about the struggles and what he might have changed or identified mistakes.

Full Summary: I had lots of misconceptions about the history of Nike – it seems to always summarized as a overnight sensation story about Bill Boweman, a waffle iron, and his protege named Phil.

Not so much, my friends. This is definitely worth the read.

Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of NIKE Phil Knight
By |2019-12-12T19:21:04-05:00August 13th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Ask Again, Yes – Mary Beth Keane

Rating: 4 stars

Cliff Notes: I just love a book that is a family saga.

Full Summary: This one moved between generations really well – always forward in general, but the flashbacks were seamless. I really hope this is made into movie.

This book even distracted me from a root canal! Then when the hygienist was walking me out she asked me how I was enjoying it because she had seen Jimmy Fallon gushing about it being the book of the summer and the book his viewers voted on to be his book club read. Who knew I was in such good company!? And seriously – you just cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a celebrity who is starting up a book club. I wonder how many of these celebrities 1) read books before their publicist told them to start a book club and 2) actually read the books they pick fo the club,

Ask Again, Yes  Mary Beth Keane
By |2019-12-12T19:22:22-05:00August 6th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

A House in the Sky – Amanda Lindhout, Sara Corbett

Rating: 4 stars

Cliff Notes: Holy shit. Need to deep dive this.

Full Summary: Listened to this audiobook in 1 sitting on my way back from vacation. I was actually glad I had unpacking and chores to do when I got home so I could finish this up. Then I ran out of chores and literally just sat on the porch and listened to the last 2 hours.

Wow. As with my fascination with concentration camps, I love these types of memoirs. I wonder how I would respond in a dire situation like this. I want to think I would be resilient, smart, and brave like this author, or even Elie Wiesel. Or would I just give up and blow away with a strong wind?

A House in the Sky Amanda Lindhout  Sara Corbett
By |2019-12-12T19:22:37-05:00August 5th, 2019|Mental Well-being|0 Comments
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