Tag Archive: memoir



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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My Melancholic DiaryMy Melancholic Diary by Iva Kenaz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to thank my GoodReads friend, A.S. Johnson for recommending this treasure to me. She was right, I did love it!

Once I got the recommendation I found that I could get it through Kindle Unlimited so I set about getting it right away. I already had tons of books ahead of it on my ‘currently reading shelf’, but I got around to it finally. So glad I did!

Where was this book when I was growing up? Oh, yeah, the author probably wasn’t born yet. What a great way to learn how fanciful a diary could be! When I was a young teen I had one of those diaries that had a little lock on it. Why I needed a lock always made me laugh. I rarely wrote anything in it beyond “I breathed in and out today.”

That a person in grade school chose to stay the last year of grade school with her eccentric father in the countryside near Prague in the Czech Republic so that she and he could iron out their differences, shows the maturity of the main character, Lisa, who is 14 nearly 15. But the book is full of mature themes but not in a preachy way. I think there is so much depth in this book that anyone of any age would find something to glean from it.

Lisa, the diary writer, the main character, of course, has a romantic heart and the adolescent inadequate self-esteem. Not too different from most people her age, but when you are that age, you don’t realize that. In fact, I wonder how many people outgrow that?

So seeing Lisa’s musings of her life and loves didn’t feel far from most people I know. Except for the fictional character that becomes alive for her. At first, that is shocking in such a mature girl, but as you watch the rest of her life you see that this ghost from another book guides her as much as she guides him. It is the one relationship that is working for her. What a grand idea! We should all have our own fictional hero/heroine who can speak to us while we write out the character’s destiny. Oh, yeah, we who write do just that! That is if we are writing daily. Gulp. We should be writing daily. Note to self…

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think even males will like it.

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TracksTracks by Robyn Davidson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, how I hated to see the end of this story. I absolutely loved it! I was lucky enough to pick it up on Kindle Unlimited. Then I saw that there was an Audible version. I bought that. I’m glad I did. I loved listening to Angie Milliken tell me the story. Even though the KU went back to Amazon, I still have the story to listen to again, later.

When I was a girl, at the zoo, I was talking to a camel and he spit at me. Yuck! I hated camels ever since. But between Robyn Davidson’s story and Angie Milliken’s voice I wish I could be around camels, make friends with them.

This is the first book in a long time that I didn’t try to fast forward. There’s no speed reading about a trek across Australia. It was a long hike. I wanted to relish every word of it. If I can’t do the trek myself I will absorb the experience vicariously.

Being alone, Robyn shared her inner conflicts along the track. These were worries about the world in general or psychological problems. Both were discussed with frankness. She alternately shared wonders of Australia’s splendor or the barren rottenness, left overs of the non-ecologically sound non-natives. All the while keeping up with her four camels and her dog.

Shoot! This review doesn’t go near the wonder I felt as I read and listened to it. If you get the chance, please pick of a copy for yourself. I look forward to seeing the movie!

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Lizz Free Or DieLizz Free Or Die by Lizz Winstead

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like Rachel Maddow and Jon Steward? Read/listen to Lizz Free or Die to find out how they all relate.

I remember seeing Lizz on Rachel’s show and on Melissa Harris-Perry when she was promoting her book. But I remember seeing her stand up for feminism and abortion and rights for everyone. I loved her point of view. I couldn’t wait to read her book. Sadly, now I am finished. I hope she decides to write more. It was fun, bittersweet, sad, maddening, and back around to laugh out loud. Um, not so great to read when your partner is asleep next to you. The LOL moments got me in trouble a few times.

This book is written in essays. Sort of in chronological order, but not. I like that it strays as her mind does which fits perfectly with mine. I wish I would have had a book like this as I was a teen or early twenties. Following her own path made her the strong wonderful person she is today.

Try it! I loved it!

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Stars Come Out WithinStars Come Out Within by Jean Little

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an Inter-Library Loan. That meant I only had two weeks to read it. Yikes! And the font… well, it was darker and good sized, but the lines were too close together. That made it difficult for me to read, but not impossible. Under really good lighting and short sips of the book, I managed to finish. Yay! I thought often, that Jean Little, herself, would have had a hard time reading this. My eyes aren’t nearly as bad as hers were, but I have similar problems. I have two eyes that operate independently from each other. Tracking is a big problem for me. In fact, I mostly read with one eye. The other goes on vacation. Its function is for far away. When I was young I had to hold the books really close. Not so close as to get print ink all over my nose, but near enough. As my eyes age, they let me pull the book away a bit.

With floaters, diabetes, and macular degeneration, I have deep fears of blindness. On the other hand, I have a great fascination with how people deal with it. I have always been amazed at abilities the disabled people portray. I remember reading about Helen Keller when I was in grade school. The week I got to see Miracle Worker on television, I walked around my house pretending to be blind to see if I could do it. After all, my great grandmother was blind. She made pot holders on her sewing machine for everyone in the family. She managed to get around her house just fine. No one lived with her. She had no guide dog, that I know of. And she never complained. Her conversations were like normal, none drew attention to her blindness. She could whip out her harmonica and play us all tunes. She was amazing. I could see and I couldn’t sew or play the harmonica.

Anyway, back to the book. This is the second part of Ms. Little’s autobiography. Her eyes were getting worse. That’s bad for a writer. Especially for back then. Her way of writing a book was with a typewriter. How, if you can’t see, do you go through the editing process? Granted she had a good support group with family and friends. People would read to her. She was already established with an editor and publisher, but she was also a bit of a perfectionist, as we should be at that stage.

As Jean Little goes through all these setbacks you see her honest reactions. No, she isn’t always graceful in her acceptance of her disability or the ways around it. I loved the fact that she was able to show her grumpier side, or the parts when she did feel sorry for herself. She let us see her faults, her humanness. That was what kept me reading, I think. That and the dog. Oh, I wanted to hug that dog!

Within these pages, Jean sprinkled in poetry. Hers and others. She gives us clues into her reading life, her favorite authors and books. For those who love childrens’ books, it is fun to see titles or authors of much adored reads of the past.

Now that I have finished reading the book, I want to see a part three. I want to go read her childrens’ books and those she admired that I didn’t read as a kid or mother. I understand she has a website. I am off to go research. I hope you enjoy this autobiography as much as I did.

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Are You My Mother?
Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is on my wishlist to own! Thank you, Washoe County Library System for carrying this book!

It is not an easy book to get through. But if you manage, you find so many diamonds of wisdom to apply to your own life.

Which of us has gotten through childhood unscathed? Which of us, as parents, release healthy, unscathed adults into the world? In Alison Bechdel’s first memoir, Fun Home, Alison addressed her life with her father. In this book, Alison tells of her life with her mother. I was amazed at how well she was able to keep the story on her own interpretation of her own life. She brings in her therapists and friends and lovers in how they help her understand why certain things happened and how she can get over it and become whole.

Though this is done in comic book form it is far from funny. Yet, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, she was able to speak volumes using this method of story telling. It brought my own mother issues to mind while reading this.

A spot of vomit on the floor. Running lines with mom for the next play she’ll be in. The inability to cry properly. Maybe these things wouldn’t cause you cathartic experience, but as you follow Alison’s path, which is also her mother’s path, it is easy to relate to both women. As Alison calls into play the works of Virginia Wolfe and Freude among others to help her understand how it all fits and how we all fit into our mother’s worlds.

This book may have triggers for some people but I think that most people will find if they stick it out there are more answers than questions through Ms. Bechdel’s story. I recommend it highly to everyone.

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