Monday, April 26, 2010

Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave came out in 2008 and I have heard different people talk about it, but no one ever seemed real crazy about the book.  I finally picked it up, and I have to agree with popular opinion (among my friends).  I think.

There are definitely parts of the story that are very thought-provoking and I have a feeling that Little Bee may stay with me for quite awhile.

Little Bee is from Nigeria and the story starts with Little Bee's voice talking from a detention center in England.  She has been there for the past two years.  The story begins with:

"Most days I wish I was a British pound coin instead of an African girl.  Everyone would be pleased to see me coming." 

And that's pretty much how the story goes.  It is the story of Little Bee, who met (although I use the word 'met' reluctantly given the circumstances) Sarah and Andrew, a couple from England on vacation, on a beach in Africa a couple of years earlier.  Two years later, after Little Bee leaves the detention center, she goes to find Sarah and Andrew.  The book is both the story of initially meeting them and of the present after she leaves the detention center.

The book is narrated by both Little Bee and Sarah in alternating chapters.  Sarah and Andrew have a four year old son, who is having a Batman phase.  Little Bee connects with him in  a special way, that I thought really added to the story.

I don't want to tell more about the story in case you, the reader, decide to read the book.  It is a story of hope, but also has some pretty horrifying events.  I think that it is a good story of resilience and, ultimately, hope despite everything.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Skinny Bitch

A no-nonsense tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!

That's the sub-title for the book, Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.  I had never read any of their books, but this title intrigued me, so I picked it up.  It was a quick read, and there is a lot of good and very interesting information in the book.

However, as a warning, if you haven't read any of their books before, the language is surprising and somewhat harsh, especially when you aren't expecting it.  It was quite a shock after having just read Women Food and God (by Geneen Roth), which is a very gentle, kind, nurturing book.  Skinny Bitch is a right-in-your-face kind of book.  Yet, has pretty much the same message as anything else you might read about eating/dieting, etc.

Including "You are what you eat."  I was really glad that I didn't have bacon for my breakfast this morning.

In terms of good sense, the book tells you (in no uncertain terms) to give up soda, dairy, meats, sugar, etc.  The premise is become vegan.  And, honestly, after reading what they described about the slaughterhouses, I gave it serious thought.  But I am not there at this point, as I settled in with a great hamburger for dinner tonight!  There really is a lot of good, and important information in the book and I am considering to begin to put some of what I read into practice.  I have already cut down to one diet soda a day (usually) and I am thinking that I may let go of that.

It is an entertaining book.  And I did learn quite a lot from it!

The Great Gatsby

Yes, you read the title right.  I recently read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It was the April choice for my book group.  I had read it about 35 years ago and remembered nothing from it, so it was really like reading it for the first time!

My impression?  Good book!  I liked it a lot.  I especially enjoyed having it be discussed by my book
group...amazing what others might see in a book that you have missed or wondered about!  Great discussion on why is this book considered a classic? and on the various characters in the book and who liked what character and didn't like what character.

For those who may have not ever read The Great Gatsby, it is a story based in the 1920's on Long Island, NY.  It is told by Nick, a newly moved-in neighbor to Gatsby.  Jay Gatsby is pretty much a mystery to everyone, but very generous with his wealth.  He has lavious parties each weekend, with the alcohol freely flowing.  But no one knows where he came from and how he got his money.

Soon Nick meets his neighbor and is pulled into his life.  Turns out that Nick has a cousin, Daisy, who lives across the water from Gatsby.  Daisy is married to Tom Buchanon.  Tom is having an affair with Myrtle Wilson.  Nick learns that Gatsby has been in love with Daisy for years, having met her in KY (where she is from) before he left to serve in WWI.  When he returned from the war, Daisy had married.  And Gatsby had never gotten over her.

I won't share the ending, but suffice to say, it is thought-provoking.

After about the first third of the book, I was wondering what the big deal was.  I wasn't especially interested in finishing the book.  However, after that, I thought that the story got much better and, as I said, I ended up really liking it.  I was very glad that I had reread it and may even go on to read more Fitzgerald!

Any suggestions?  What is/was your favorite Fitzgerald novel?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Day After Night

Anita Diamant's newest book, Day After Night, kind of let me down.  I just didn't think that it was nearly as well written as The Red Tent, although I have to admit that it has been quite a while since I read The Red Tent.  But I was very impressed with it and it stuck with me for a long time.  I don't think that Day After Night will, but since I just finished it last night, I don't know that for sure.

The premise of the book is a story of four women who meet at Atlit, a detention camp for European Jews coming to Israel after the war (WWII).  Apparently, those coming into Israel after the war were placed there for however long it took to find a kibbutz for their home.  I had never heard of such a camp, so that was quite interesting.  The women make the point of discussing how they were put into these camps surrounded by barbwire fences, just like the death camps that most of them had survived.  Naturally, many of those entering the detainment camps became very upset and frightened when they saw the barbwire fences.  They had great difficulty understanding that now they were safe in such a place.

Each of the four women have different stories on how they survived the war years.  They try to find ways to spend their time in the camp while waiting for their home assignment.  They become friends and make plans for their futures together. 

I didn't feel like the characters were very well-developed.  I don't feel like I know who each of the women were, before and after the war.

I did like the way the book ended, however.  The Epilogue was good.

All in all, I would rate the book as fair.  Not great, but an ok read.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another new bookcase!

I forgot to post a picture of the new cabinet/bookcase that my husband made for me!  He, as usual, designed it himself and I think that it is incredible.   And the best part is, I need to buy more books to fill it up!!!

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire

If you have read The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson, RUN, don't walk, but RUN, to get The Girl Who Played With Fire!!!  And if you haven't read The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo, what are you waiting for???  Get you to the nearest library, bookstore, reader friend, etc. and read it!!!  Because after you read it, you must then read The Girl Who Played With Fire!!   It is that good!

Can you tell that I really liked this book?  It is a great psychological mystery. I loved the way the author developed the characters and the story.  It kept me wanting to read more and more later and later into the night!

The same main characters are present as main characters in both books.  Mikael Blomkvist company Millenium is planning to publish a book exposing sex trafficking in Sweden.  His magazine is going to run an article about it the same time the book comes out.  Before that happens, the two authors of the book are murdered.  The same evening, Lisbeth Salander's guardian is murdered.  Lisbeth is connected by evidence to all the murders and she goes underground.  Mikael is trying to solve the murders and to find Lisbeth.  To do both, Mikael and Lisbeth both need to dig into Lisbeth's past.

Great book!!! 

The third of this trilogy is now out called The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest.  It is a continuation of the first two books. 
From the website

Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson (1954-2004) was a Swedish writer and journalist.
Prior to his sudden death of a heart attack in November 2004 he finished three detective novels in his trilogy "The Millenium-series" which were published posthumously; "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "The Girl Who Played With Fire" and "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest". Altogether, his trilogy has sold more than 12 million copies worldwide (summer of 2009), and he was the second bestselling author in the world 2008.
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STIEG LARSSON, 1954-2004
Before his career as a writer, Stieg Larsson was mostly known for his struggle against racism and right-wing extremism. Starting in the late 1970's, he combined his work as a graphic designer with holding lectures on right-wing extremism for the Scotland Yard. During the following years he became an expert on the subject and has held many lectures as well as written many novels on the subject. In 1995, when 8 persons were killed by neo-Nazis I Sweden, he was the main force behind the founding of the Expo-foundation, a group intended on exposing neo-Nazi activity in Sweden. From 1999 and on, he was appointed chief editor of the magazine Expo.
During the last 15 years of his life, he and his life companion Eva Gabrielsson lived under constant threat from right-wing violence.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Women Food and God

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth is quite simply, an amazing book! And, in a way, a very simple book. And, in a way, a very complicated book. I guess it just depends on how you want to look at it!

Ms. Roth has written several books in the past about eating. I think that perhaps this latest one may be a sum of all her books...the wisdom is incredible. While reading it, I often had to stop and just contemplate on a sentence.

She writes regularly for Good Housekeeping magazine and I love her column in there. However, when I read the article featuring her and Women Food and God in last month's Oprah magazine, I began to cry. It was eeery. Her words just totally spoke to me and I knew that I had to get the book!

The premise is (at least for me) basically to stop dieting and pay attention to what I am feeling. As I said, a simple concept on the outset, but when you start to try to practice it...not so simple! One of the main things recommended to do is to eat without any distractions and pay attention to what you are eating. I have been amazed at how difficult that is for me. I live for distraction apparently. To just sit at the table with me and my food is torture! But I am slowly starting to be able to do it. And what I am finding when I do it, is that I don't need to eat nearly as much food as I usually eat.

That's enough about me...this is about the book! Just letting yourself sit and identify and feel feelings is not a new idea, but one that needs to be constantly brought to us. Allowing yourself to feel your feelings is freeing in so many ways and the book has lots of examples of this.

My book is underlined and marked up all over the place. An example (from page 32): "Women turn to food when they are not hungry because they are hungry for something they can't name: a connection to what is beyond the concerns of daily life.". And another (page 80): "When you no longer believe that eating will save your life when you feel exhausted or overwhelmed or lonely, you will stop. When you believe in yourself, more than you believe in food, you will stop using food as it it were your only chance at not falling apart." And these are just the beginning of the wisdom that is in this book!

What I took most from the book is KINDNESS. I need to practice being kind to myself until I become kindness itself.

This is a wonderful to the store!