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17 Jan

Catching up on book reviews here, as I’ve dropped behind.

The Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin — This was one of those cheap thrills chick lit reads, which I got through very quickly, and the best thing I got out of this book was that it made me feel better about myself as a working mother.  It was fascinating to read about the rich women in NYC that don’t work, but hire full time nannies so that they can go to the country club, spa, shopping and plan excessive parties.  I also learned a discipline trick that works like a charm on Little Miss.  It was referenced as something like “Good Witch/Bad Witch”.  The idea is that when a child is being good, you talk to them like Glenda the Good Witch — high pitched and super sugary.  When they do something wrong, you turn into the Wicked Witch of the West, using a low, imposing voice.  As soon as the child corrects the behavior, you snap back into being Glenda the Good Witch.  Works like a charm with a toddler — go ahead, try it.

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert — I read this one while on our Mexican cruise, and it was highly enjoyable.  After divorcing her husband in her early thirties, the author goes on a year long trip of recovery in three stops: Rome, for pleasure (mostly gluttonous, with a special emphasis on gelato); an ashram outside of Mumbai, for spiritual searching; and Bali, for “balancing.”  I enjoyed the part about Italy the most, as it brought back lovely memories from our honeymoon.  It was interesting to read about her spiritual journey, but what this book did for me was make me feel remarkably normal.  While reading about her having a panic attack on the floor of her bathroom when she realizes that she married the wrong man and doesn’t want children, I felt a calm, as I’ve had similar strong feelings telling me that I married the right man and that I was meant to be a mother (and those feelings didn’t require a panic attack).  It made me slightly more interested in meditation, but not enough so to actually meditate myself.  Anyway, I highly recommend this book.

Why Moms are Weird by Pamela Ribon — This is another chick lit light read, but I devoured it in less than a week.  Pamela Ribon is a writer for the new show Samantha Who?, and I’ve been reading her blog, Pamie.com, for a while.  I also read her first book, Why Girls are Weird when it first came out (a fun read about how a girl’s blog lets her create a sort of alternate reality).  Anyhow, this book wasn’t at all what I expected (kind of thought it would be from a Mom’s point of view), but it was a light hearted read with good bits of humor.  And I’m proud to report to Pamela that the writer’s strike has driven me away from the TV and back into books (on her blog, she said the best way to support the writers was to not watch the reality shows currently filling the space for the shows currently off air due to the strike).

Rebellin Book Reviews

8 Jan

I’ve managed to take a lot of time recently to read, and wanted to share with you my thoughts on the three books I’ve finished recently.

1.  Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez.  This book was billed by Oprah as the “greatest love story ever”.  I’m a sucker for a good love story, so I bought the book, and was disappointed to find it was really more of a story of a rather disturbing man who remains obsessed with a woman for over 50 years, and deals with his obsession by having sex with countless women and even a child.  I found it more creepy than romantic, and I had to fight my way through the book more than I would like. 

2.  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini.  I received this book from my Mom for my birthday, and have to say it was a truly splendid read.  I was sucked in right away, and learned a lot about Afghanistan and the Taliban.  I found it fascinating to read from the perspective of a woman in such a male dominated and oppressive culture.  I gasped out loud when a c-section was performed on a woman without any anaesthesia because the Taliban had confiscated all drugs and medical supplies from the women’s hospital.  I also enjoyed that the story took place in recent times, and it was interesting to compare what my life was like growing up in comparison to the two main female characters in the same time.  The scenes about how the daughter of Laila was treated had me in tears.  I highly recommend this book.  It really opened my eyes to the plight of women in Afghanistan.

3.  The Kite Runner by Khaled Housseini.  This was yet another book given to me by my Mom.  I had tried to start it several times before, but really had difficulty getting sucked into the story initially.  However, after I enjoyed A Thousand Splendid Suns so much, I decided to give it one last shot.  This last time, the story sucked me in immediately, and gave me yet another vantage point on Afghan culture — that of a young boy and an Afghan man who moved to America.  It is another heart breaking tale that ripped my eyes open to what the Taliban has done in Afghanistan and what has happened in recent history there.  I am haunted by some of the characters and what happened to them.  Another highly recommended read!

Book Suggestions Wanted

22 Aug

For the past few months, I have been spending my evenings reading Harry Potter.  Before the last book came out, I got out book 6 and read it again so that I’d be brought back up to speed before reading the last book.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this entire series.  Every once in a while a book just sucks you in and consumes you.  I look forward to reading every night, and go to sleep dreaming about the plot.

I’m in the midst of the grand finale fight scene right now, and it is just riveting.  I stayed up way too late last night pushing my way through.

But I’m also kind of dreading the end of the book, as I have enjoyed all of the Harry Potter books so much over the past five years.  I have two weeks of business travel coming up, and I’ll have loads of time to do some more reading.  But what can follow on the heels of Harry Potter?!

So I ask you, my friends…  What is the best book you’ve ever read?  I’m looking for suggestions for another book that will just suck me in and totally enthrall me.

Happy New Year

2 Jan

This has to go on record as one of the quietest New Year’s ever. On Friday morning, JB came down with a nasty flu bug. On top of that, it was rainy all Friday through Sunday, meaning we just stayed at home. JB slept in front of the fire while I read Danielle Steel’s book Echos.

Luckily, for our weekend indoors, that was an incredible book. It sucked me in, entertaining me for most of the day and late into the night.

Anyway, on New Year’s, JB went to bed at 11pm in the upstairs bedroom (so as to avoid getting me sick, too), and I blew him a kiss. I stayed up ’til midnight all by myself and watched the ball drop on TV before going to bed alone in the master bedroom.

There was a lot of sleeping and relaxing going on this weekend. On Monday, we finally got snow. Luckily, JB was feeling better today, so we ventured out to run a few errands and hit the mall. When we got home, we took the dogs on a walk in the snow. We got about 3-4 inches at our house, which makes for a beautiful blanket on the neighborhood and the desert.

We watched three movies this weekend. The first one was Must Love Dogs, which wasn’t all that great. I had high expectations because it was about online dating AND dogs, but it was a snoozer. The second movie was Mr. & Mrs. Smith, which didn’t really do much for us, either. The third movie was March of the Penguins, which was adorable and funny and a total must see!

So, I’m sorry I don’t have much to report. I do, however, have pictures.

Here is The Belly at 8 months 10 days.

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This is Tucker the snow dog.

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This is Heidi striking a pose.

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Shadow was also on our walk, but he didn’t pose for us like the other two dogs did.

Well, I’m off to enjoy my last few hours of the holiday weekend. The couch and the fireplace are calling.

Book Review: Knocked Up

22 Aug

While I was on my business trip, I read Knocked Up: Confessions of a Hip Mother-to-be by Rebecca Eckler. I know, I know… I have been tending to read books that parallel what is going on with my life. Last year it was books on engagement. This year, well, I started with Knocked Up.

It was a great book, and I highly recommend it to anyone that has been pregnant, is pregnant, or wants to get pregnant. I found it very entertaining, and it made me feel like I’ve been a saint, as I read about how she drank, smoked, ate sushi and took a ton of Advil while she was pregnant. Ha! I haven’t done any of those things!

Rating: Five stars out of Five. It’s a quick, fun read and a totally guilty pleasure.

Do Not Read This Book!

4 Aug

I just finished listening to the audio version of Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber: The Katya Livingston Chronicles by Adele Lang.

It was horrible. In fact, I’m pretty amazed at myself that I was able to listen to the entire book. It centered around a woman that was just plain self centered, alcoholic, and evil to the core. There really wasn’t much of a plot… The book just followed her along as she treated her friends and co-workers like *you know what*.

This book was part of the Kelly Rippa Book Club, which is basically a cheap knock off of the ever successful Oprah’s Book Club, in which I actively participate. I had never read a “Rippa Read”, and let me tell you, I lost a lot of respect for Kelly Rippa after listening to this book. The fact that she would put her smiling face on the cover of this book as an endorsement really tells me how much she should not be in the book recommendation business.

So, out of a ratings scale of four stars, I give this book zero stars. A big fat goose egg. Don’t waste your time. Don’t bother straying from Oprah’s Book Club.

The Good Wife

22 Jul

I just finished reading The Good Wife by Stewart O’Nan. It was a pretty good book. Basically, it’s about a woman who is pregnant when her husband murders an old lady during a burglury attempt, and is convicted to 20 years to life for the crime.

The faithfulness of the main character, the Good Wife, is astounding. She scrapes by on welfare and menial jobs as a single mother, meanwhile driving hours on the weekend to go visit with her husband. She lives anticipating conjugal visits, and stays faithful, never once cheating on her husband, until he is released 25 years later. The story has a happy ending, but I shut the book and wondered what I would have done in her shoes.

The marriage vows are ‘for better and for worse’, but I’m not sure if I would stay with a husband that did something so horrible — something that effected me in such a drastic way for most of my adult life. I guess it’s easy for me to sit here and judge her, because not in my wildest imagination could I imagine my own husband doing anything to land himself in prison for that long, or for any period of time.

Throughout the book, her husband kept encouraging her to divorce him and move on with her life, but she refused. And in the end, the reader is led to believe that it was worth the wait for her.

I guess it was a bit troubling for me, but it did provide for an interesting read. The author did a lot of research on what it is like for families of prisoners in maximum security prisons, as well as the trial and appeal process.

So, overall, I guess I’d give this book two and a half out of four stars. It definitely didn’t wow me, but it did grab me enough to finish it in a relatively short period of time.

Last night, I got two pages into my new Harry Potter book. I’m going to have to really pick up the pace if I intend to finish it this year!