Tag Archive: memoir



A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of TragedyA Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy by Sue Klebold
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Whew! We all know what causes these shootings, right? Each of us has a laundry list of how it happens and how, if we had the power we could solve this right now. Some say take away the guns. Some say if parents were held responsible this would never happen. Some say that it’s the mentally ill, or on drugs, or are terrorists. No one seems to have the right answers.

What if you would walk inside the life of one who was directly involved (and so unwilling!) the mother of one of the killers in Columbine?

Sue Klebold is eloquent as she tells her own story. Imagine learning that your son is dead. Then learn he was one of the killers. If your son had been a terror in your life you might believe it and welcome the freedom from that kind of child. But if the son had been sweet and seemed merely a regular teenage boy this would be shocking.

Please, take the time to read this. Judge not lest ye be judged, just listen. I did with the Overdrive (library), audio version of this book. Maybe this book holds the beginnings of answers we need to look at and implement in our country/world as it grows scarier by the day.

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We're Going to Need More Wine: StoriesWe’re Going to Need More Wine: Stories by Gabrielle Union

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always feel weird reviewing autobiography. It is somebody’s story about their own life. So I guess I need to review how it was told. I was able to pick up the Audible version with the author reading it. That made it feel like she was in the room just telling me about herself and her past.

Gabrielle Union’s story is unique. And while she is telling her story she covers her outlook on how it felt to grow up as a minority in the school year and as herself with relatives in the summer. She gave her views of feminism and how she went through various discriminating situations. And she told her ‘Me, too” story.

This was an interesting read. I think if I were younger it would have been even more so. I think teens and young adults would get so much out of what she shares.

I hope you get the chance to read/listen to this one to draw your own conclusions.

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Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White HouseHacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House by Donna Brazile

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have always admired Donna Brazile. She seems a classy woman. I love hearing her talk. I always thought she does a good job giving her listeners both side of a picture. So I chose not to get the book but rather the Audible version. Her’s is a good voice to hear before going to sleep.

I always say this when I’ve read an autobiography. I cannot be the judge of her points of view about her own life. Think about your own life. Look back a few years and you may not think of what happened in the same light as how it looked when it was happening. So I do not doubt this is her point of view of recent events.

It took me several nights to read this (NaNoWriMo took my days). I must admit that each night I found this paranoia taking over my psyche. I do feel the Russians have done terrible things to our systems of government. I hope we can get to the bottom of all of it and recover our dignity as Americans.

There are some very scary things in this book. I want to try and warn you. But I don’t want to spoil the read for you. Try to keep your own political point of view out of this. It is this person’s brave telling of what happened in her life at a crazy time in our history. And don’t come after me with your arguments. I will delete them. This is my opinion and you cannot argue a person to think like you.

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You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felicia Day

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have always admired Felicia Day. It was great to see a smart female actress playing smart female characters on the shows I’ve seen her on.

This book gave me insight to the person and her history. It was fun to know that we shared a similar history. No, I’m old enough to be her mother. But my children shared her history and I through them. We learned the computer from way back with CompuServe, Prodigy (where I met my husband) and various video games and bulletin boards. Her ultimate game was WoW whereas my kids got into EQ. It was fun reading about how it was physically meeting the friends she made online. That experience the kids and I shared. But it was fun to watch the computer evolving with the generation who came of age at the same time.

My children were homeschooled, too. It was interesting to see her thoughts on it. I find that we who were schooled who wasted so many years with more time dedicated to kids with bad behaviors or teachers who bored us to sleep and were still quite socially shy and experienced depression tried to save our children of that. Instead, they blame their very anxiety on not having to school. They don’t realize the opportunity they had without all the wasted time. Felicia became a professional violinist. And all these skills she acquired that makes her unique are a direct result from not being squeezed into a mold that schools force children into.

Anyway, I loved being able to listen to Felicia read her own story. It gave, even more, credence to autobiography. I knew I wanted to listen to her read it. But I found that there was no Text-to-Speech. That made me sad because had I not been able to afford the Audible version to whispersynch I would have had no way to enjoy this book. Still, it was delightful to listen to her voice. I wish her the very best in life. She deserves it!

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Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear SugarTiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One day, in the last couple of months, my daughter kidnapped me so I could spend a week back in Reno. It was one of those serendipitous things that made me very happy. I got to spend time with her and with other family and friends.

My daughter loves to listen to podcasts on long trips. When she learned that I had read and watched Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, she pulled up the Dear Sugar podcasts and we enjoyed a long listen.

Once back at home I found the Dear Sugar websites and other books by Cheryl Strayed. I looked at the eBook/Overdrive local library copies. I found this copy but it was just an eBook with no text-to-speech and no audio version. I tried very hard to enjoy the book. There was wonderful advice given here.

I wanted to keep reading past the mid-point that I thought I got to, but with no way to listen it was hard to read. I will try to keep an eye out for the Audible or Kindle with TTS to read later. Besides, most of it was written for younger people. I played the kind of game I used to play with the Dear Abby advice column, see if I can give the same advice the writer does. I was pleasantly surprised that Ms. Strayed gave more personal answers and helped in deeper ways than Abby or her sister Ann Landers ever did.

I think this is a wonderful book for young people to have. I think Dear Sugar is a good podcast for those under forty. I hope to find this book again in an easier form for me to read.

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The Rules Do Not ApplyThe Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a fan of fiction more than any other kind of reading, it is alway hard for me to “grade” an autobiography. It isn’t up to me to judge another’s life or path, so I feel I am invading a bit when it is time to review. Yet this book called to me from NetGalley as one I might like to read and review.

I have to admit it kept my interest. Many reviewers say the author’s emotions are raw in this memoir. That may be so. I just found them honest and refreshing. As a fertile-Myrtle, who had, as most of my generation, my children in my early twenties, I never heard that egg-timer to get pregnant or forget it. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have another?” and boom I was pregnant. So the despair of the author seems another reality I’ve not been close to. In that case, I think it right to go into the depth with her and see what her reality has been. Would my story of a baby every couple years and only at home ever be as interesting to her generation? So I find her lucky to have experienced so many things I never got to see. That she had the freedom to explore her sexuality after being an adult, who got to see the world I may never see, isn’t sad. Those were the parts of the story I truly enjoyed.

But I don’t want to demean or in any way put down her path and especially not the sad parts of it. That need to reproduce is very strong in many of us and to have that turn out so badly hurts my soul for her.

That is why I like to read autobiographies. I can lead many lives that way. I can see how things might have been had I made other choices or had nature played nasty tricks on my life. I think it helps to develop empathy to read another’s story. And this may be one you might like. Give it a try.

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I Am Nujood, Age 10 and DivorcedI Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thank you, Yvensong, for suggesting this read.

I was able to pick up the Overdrive and Kindle versions from the e-library. I loved the narrator: Meera Simhan. She did a great job reading for what was supposed to be a 10-year-old.

This is a great book to open the discussion of how girls and women are treated worldwide. When we look at what this poor girl and other like her have gone through, we, here in America, think that could never happen. But we have not gone far enough here. There is so much more work to show that equality is what is needed for a better world for everyone.

Nujood Ali has written a book that is short and sweet. I do believe that it could be read by all ages, and should be read by males so they can move to better understanding.

What I loved about reading along on the Kindle as the Overdrive narrator read to me were the foreign words that were hyperlinked to definitions. Even so, there weren’t so many that one couldn’t guess by context as to what they meant. I suggest everyone read this treasure.

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The Diaries of Ethel TurnerThe Diaries of Ethel Turner by Ethel Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t know that any book of my entire life has taken me this long to read. But this wasn’t fiction. This was someone’s diary. It was the day by day mind meanderings of a writer who lived in Australia in the 1800s. No protagonist, no antagonist, no plot. Even so, far better than my own diaries in which I would eventually give up and write that I breathed in and out that day. So I doubt anyone will write anything about mine. They have probably begun to degrade into the earth like the trees the paper was made from.

Another reason it was such a slow read for me was the small font. Luckily the entries were kept short so I would only sit and read an entry and let it go.

Writers will find this interesting, seeing Ethel Turner’s passion for writing, especially for children. Those interested in history, this diary takes place before the first world war. She witnessed world happenings from the land down-under. As a young woman, she sees Women’s Suffrage. At first, she sees no sense in it but as she matures her writing reflects the need for social change for men and women for more equality.

I found that interesting in that in the home she grows up in as a teen, they have servants. No wonder she sees no need for equality. She was able to spend her time studying languages, piano, and singing. Her life was full of social amenities, dances, etc. But still, she spends most of her days working on writing. She was and for me is an inspiration.

Seven Little Australians, her book, I will be reading next.

This is worth the effort it took me to read. Maybe you will like it, too.
Oh, this is a BookCrossing book BCID 128-5141612. Not sure who is next for the read but I’ll mark the site accordingly.

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Desert Places: A Woman's Odyssey with the Wanderers of the Indian DesertDesert Places: A Woman’s Odyssey with the Wanderers of the Indian Desert by Robyn Davidson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew! I am glad to be finished reading this book. Not that the writing was poor or that I hated the author. Quite the opposite. Having just finished Robyn Davidson’s ‘Tracks’ about her trek across Australia, I wanted more. So when I saw this book was free with Kindle Unlimited I grabbed it. And as tortuous as the book was to read, I am glad I read it.

If someone were to ask me where I’d least like to go to visit, India would be at the top of the list. Too many people, too caste-set. But before you get on a high horse and tell me what for, I will allow that I never would have wanted to go to Alaska either. But I loved that trip so much! There isn’t a day I don’t think of the beauty and wonder of that cold world. So if the opportunity came, I think I would go to India. Just to see for myself if I could be won over.

But this book didn’t help my prejudices resolve. In fact, it all became worse. With each chapter, I was more and more depressed for the author. This was not her favorite trek. As a woman, a feminist, India isn’t a place to show your independence. Robyn is both and thereby found her way blocked at every turn.

Look, I wanted to give this book five stars. The writing is that good. But how can one rate highly a book that makes one miserable? The saving grace? Camels! I have learned to love these creatures through Ms. Davidson’s eyes. Okay, up from three to four stars. Let India’s rich, corrupted men see that lack of a star as a judgement of them. I challenge them to prove otherwise.

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Wake Up, I'm Fat!Wake Up, I’m Fat! by Camryn Manheim

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘Camryn Manheim. Isn’t she the beautiful woman with all those earrings on that legal show?’ That’s what I thought a long time ago when I didn’t quite know who she was. She still remains the one I remember. The others were men or skinny minnies. They all look and acted the same. Not much has changed since in Hollywood’s movies and television. For someone that has a hard time differentiating faces of actors and actresses (remember how I told you I had a hard time with Rob and Jon on Game of Thrones?) Give me individuals! Ms. Manheim is a grand individual. I have tried to catch her on every show on the big screen or small. I was sorry to see her leave Ghost Whisperer. But then again I did love Aisha in the friend role. She, too, is unique. Both these two friends were more interesting that the overly sexed main actress.

So when my friend, Michele, offered to let me read this gem I was excited. A couple years later I have taken it off the shelf and actually read it. Sorry it took so long, Michele.

Now to the meat of this book. Fat. I’ve been skinny, I’ve been–well the size I am now. But I always felt fat. In my family were folks of all sizes so I felt accepted no matter what size I was. But go to the store and I often couldn’t find my size or the styles were ugly. The worst was when my daughter wanted to go shopping together. She didn’t inherit my size or anything else. We were at opposite ends of the rack. We rarely could find a store with both our sizes. But she liked the younger looks so I would get relegated looking at jewelry or standing around doing nothing. We stopped shopping together.

Camryn had it worse. Her chosen profession was into the world of men who only love skinny actresses. Her parents didn’t accept her. Well, don’t let me tell her story. See what one of us has gone through. Watch how she handles her life and grows. If you didn’t love her from the beginning like I did, hopefully, you will love her at the end of the book. Even more, this should be required reading for everyone who doesn’t shop Lane Bryants, or the flowered muumuus at the XX end of the rack. You think skinnies are the norm? They’re not. If you think telling the larger person to diet is going to change things, you are wrong. How about love. What happened to kindness and love?

By the way, the reason this book took me so long to read was the font size. I had to take it in bits. But those bits with a bookmark and bright light got me through. Still I would have liked the Kindle version better.

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