Tag Archive: non-fiction


Review: Becoming by Michelle Obama


BecomingBecoming by Michelle Obama
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, how I miss proper English. Oh, how I miss people who care for others and not just themselves. That is what I found in this audiobook. A person who can read their own words in a book with such elegance was so beautiful I didn’t want to stop reading. I was awake until four in the morning two or three nights.

It wasn’t as if most of the story was new. We all lived through those eight years. I didn’t know about much of Ms. Obama’s life before the White House. So that was interesting.

When I was young, I loved spending the night with friends or cousins. It was fun to see how other people live their lives. I think that is why I like honest memoirs like this one. Michelle didn’t try to pretty it up and sweep the bad parts under the carpet. This was her life. Period.

Most of the story was pre-election, before children. She is a confident woman. Her parents’ influence was the basis of her life along with extended family. The love she felt for and from family gave her the strength to be herself. Being raised financially challenged gave her the wisdom to deal with money properly. Knowing that politics was the least of her aims in life, makes her all the more interesting.

I think it was that deep love that she got as a child that made her the loving adult she became. It was evident in how she treated people of all ilk. I am so interested in what Michelle Obama becomes now that her life is closer to what is her kind of life.

This is a book I highly recommend as an audiobook. Her voice is rich and brings the words to life.

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Review: Brave by Rose McGowan


BraveBrave by Rose McGowan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Rating memoirs are not my thing. It’s a life. Someone else’s. But in this case, her negatives were lessons for all of us. Some might say she was too angry or strident. But with good reason. I was happy to be able to listen to Rose’s voice on the Audible version.

There is so much I want to say about this book, but I don’t want to give anything away. As strong as Ms. McGowan comes across, I believe this is a book everyone should read or hear. In fact, I think the audio gives the story more veracity. It is the story of women, especially those in the Hollywood scene, but much of what happened has happened in other businesses.

Please, give it a chance and learn what is there for you to learn. I may try to reread it in a couple of years. Hopefully, by then, society will have become more humane. I hope I am not wishing, and it happens from all of us becoming more aware and intolerant of inequality.

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The Half-Life of Marie CurieThe Half-Life of Marie Curie by Lauren Gunderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a quick listen on Audible. It was free. Only an hour and fifteen minutes. Narrators: Kate Mulgrew and Francesca Faridany made you feel you were watching a movie. I’m not sure if it is all factual from Marie Curie’s life but it seemed plausible. I loved the messages for women’s rights given life.

If you get the chance it is a good read/listen.

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Fat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin...Every Inch of ItFat Girl Walking: Sex, Food, Love, and Being Comfortable in Your Skin…Every Inch of It by Brittany Gibbons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Autobiographies are harder to rate. This is someone’s life and their opinions of what they have been through. But as such, this was a fun book, in spite of the awful things that Brittany Gibbons has gone through, and her rise to fame, the story is an interesting read. And Brittany does have a fun sense of humor.

Since nearly 40% of the population is overweight or obese and every one of us has been weight shamed, even the skinny-minis. And no one that I know of has yet to lose weight from being shamed. Few have been able to maintain a weight-loss when they have tried. I think a new method needs to be tried. Since nearly half of us are afflicted. How about more of Brittany? Let’s celebrate life and live it. Let’s be okay with our bodies regardless. Let’s be okay with other folks as they are and let them live. Sure we all can improve. Just remember, just because your sins aren’t worn on the outside, doesn’t mean you are as bad or as unhealthy as the ones you like to shame.

So, stepping off the soapbox. This is a fun read

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How to Write a Novel: Advice and Tips from a Full-Time NovelistHow to Write a Novel: Advice and Tips from a Full-Time Novelist by Simon Haynes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was quite informative and not only ways to help write a novel more efficiently, but also great hints on how to use yWriter better.

It is fun to hear Simon Hayes’s voice. After reading a lot of his Hal Spacejock stories and enjoying them to the max, it is fun to hear the rhythm of how he speaks matches the cadence of his fiction.

I have written quite a few novels myself, mostly for NaNoWriMo (17?) so I highly recommend Simon’s methods to write. I am learning some things from this book, that I wish I could have had in my writing wheelhouse all along. It is a very helpful book.

I plan to buy the Kindle and perhaps paper version too so I can refer back to the books often. I highly recommend this book!

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If All the Seas Were Ink: A MemoirIf All the Seas Were Ink: A Memoir by Ilana Kurshan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was young, and even to this day, I loved to spend time, overnight to weeks, if I could, in other people’s homes. It was interesting to see how other people lived. I learned how different and yet the same my life was to my friends. What rules applied? What was okay? How huggy or talky were the people?

As an adult that is less likely to happen. Slumber parties seem to stay in the child’s world. Really close friends can share their lives. But it isn’t the same as personal observation.

Autobiographies give that kind of insight. You live inside the person’s world, hear their thoughts, see how they try to live up to their own standards. See how they feel when they don’t.

Ilana Kurshan provides that kind of insight. I admire her determination and curiosity. She decided to study the Talmud in a seven-year quest to understand it and her relationship to it better. She lived it as best she could, all the easier for living in Jerusalem, all the harder as a single person, then newlywed, then young mother. But she did her best to apply what she learned along the way.

I was raised protestant. I have many friends of various religious leanings and love to learn their belief systems and how they work in real life. I have a friend who has moved to Israel and thought of her as I read. I don’t know if she read this yet, but I bet she will glean from this person’s challenge.

Rating autobiographies is harder than a piece of fiction. It is personal. I can’t judge another person’s life or their own memories. It was where they are/were and how they choose to live it. Ms. Kurshan’s writing was compelling. I couldn’t stop reading. Since this was an ARC or Uncorrected Copy, there were formatting issues that made my text-to-speech the best way to read it all. But I’m sure those issues were corrected in the retail versions. Other than that it was a delightful read and I highly recommend it to others. I doubt I will ever try the seven-year Talmud, though who knows? I’ve taken on lessor challenges. I was glad that Ilana included scripture so I could feel a part of the quest. And I’m proud of her for taking a feminist view on her religion. It makes it all more real and possible.

I can’t wait to read other reviews about this book.

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The Best of UsThe Best of Us by Joyce Maynard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t usually include the book blurb but I felt it said more about the book that I could.

“In 2011, when she was in her late fifties, beloved author and journalist Joyce Maynard met the first true partner she had ever known. Jim wore a rakish hat over a good head of hair; he asked real questions and gave real answers; he loved to see Joyce shine, both in and out of the spotlight; and he didn’t mind the mess she made in the kitchen. He was not the husband Joyce imagined, but he quickly became the partner she had always dreamed of.

Before they met, both had believed they were done with marriage, and even after they married, Joyce resolved that no one could alter her course of determined independence. Then, just after their one-year wedding anniversary, her new husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During the nineteen months that followed, as they battled his illness together, she discovered for the first time what it really meant to be a couple–to be a true partner and to have one.

This is their story. Charting the course through their whirlwind romance, a marriage cut short by tragedy, and Joyce’s return to singleness on new terms, The Best of Us is a heart-wrenching, ultimately life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss. ”

Knowing this may help you decide if you want to read this book. It is autobiographical and full of the journey that the author took through a gorgeous romance and then finding that her husband has pancreatic cancer and all that they went through during this journey. Though it is a depressing topic, after the romance, the author is able to keep the reader from falling into despair. In fact, it was only toward the end of the book that I nearly lost it in a loud sob that would have awaken the neighborhood had I let it escape. But I felt okay most of the read.

I guess I should tell you that for me it was a bit personal in that my mother passed of Pancreatic Cancer. She certainly didn’t last as long as Joyce’s husband. The doctors did exploratory surgery, found the cancer and closed her up. They said she would live for about three months, she barely lasted three weeks. So it is good to know that many are getting longer life-spans after diagnosis.

Mostly the book is a story of love and learning life as you go. I loved it and hated that I had to put it away and go to sleep.

I did have an issue with the formatting in that every now and then there was a title or author’s name and page number interrupting the flow. But it didn’t take me out of the book for more than a second.

I want to thank NetGalley for letting me read the book for an honest review. I hope others get the chance to read this book. There is a lot to learn here.

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Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You ThinkFactfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think by Hans Rosling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love books that make you think. This one certainly does that! It took a while to get through it. As you probably know, my reading is done at bedtime. This was not that kind of book. Though it was nonfiction, a lot of it kept me up at night.

There were eye-opening statistics that one might not have thought of before. Predictive statistics that the book talked about were even more eye-opening. One of the most striking was made clear to me, showed that like the chart of a newborn baby can’t predict with the same growth later in life. We don’t expect a baby to continue to grow as much or as fast as a school child as the newborn. If a person kept that same growth rate we’d all be giants. So predictive charts need to look at other aspects during different times, incomes, health and wealth influences. I know I’m not saying this the way the author did. But the points he made similar to the example I tried to put forth, were equally stunning.

My friend recommended this book and I am glad I followed through. On the other hand, I must admit that I would have gotten a lot more out of the book had I had the paper book. Since I have trouble reading tree-books for the eye-sight and font issue, I listen to the text-to-speech. The problem was that I didn’t take the moment to read the charts and graphs presented to help the reader understand how things really are as opposed to how we think they are.

Even so, I found this a super interesting book that in the future I might just try to find the paper book just for the illustrations. Maybe I don’t agree with all his perspectives, it seems I have read somewhere that statistics are rarely pure. Most are bent to reflect the person’s paid position to research to the paid end. Still closing one’s eyes to the possibilities presented in this book are so much more destructive than paying attention and learning what we can from it all.

Give it a try. I picked my copy from the local e-library.

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Changing Your Pain Pathways: Ways to cope with pain in daily lifeChanging Your Pain Pathways: Ways to cope with pain in daily life by Bronwen Moore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been doing chair-yoga for a while. It is one of the things I do to help become healthier in spite of the pain. One of the YouTube tutorials I follow features the authors of this book. Cara, Sarah, and Bronwen. As they are introduced I tried to decide who was who. Here is the link to the lesson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XMps5…

Now what I had thought was the one in the middle and the one on the right of the screen looked like sisters. Then I thought they might be twins. Thereby I named them Cara and Sarah. The one on the left didn’t look related so I figured she was Bronwen. I went online to see if I could find these teachers’ pictures. Nothing that helped my curiosity. But then I discovered their book. With fibromyalgia and arthritis competing for my full attention, I thought maybe I could find something that would help me become healthier and have less pain. I found the Kindle version was cheaper so bought it. I would suggest if you have the money get the paper book as it is a workbook with pages to fill out as you move along.

The workbook idea is a good one to help you realize your points of pain increases and decreases. It helps you see how your mind can steer you to better health. And even more important how you can help others to see what you are going through and how they can help you. People caught in chronic pain cycles find themselves bullied in every direction.

As it happened I was in the middle of a flare and reading this by text-to-speech helped me reflect on my pain and my methods of relief. I don’t take many drugs for it as I found they made me sicker. The occasional Advil and CBD for sleep. The rest of the time I use distraction therapy. Keep my mind working on interesting projects.

I will be picking up this book again in the near future to do the exercises and journal what I learn as I go. Thank you for the tutorials and this book to all of you involved in it.

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The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's StoryThe Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story by Hyeonseo Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a fantastic book! Hyeonseo Lee tells her story in an immaculate way. Her story was so messy yet the writing was well-done and kept my interest all the way through. It is an autobiography. As such we get the inside view of people who live in North Korea and how hard it is to escape and integrate into other countries.

I want to write more but I’m afraid of ruining your reading experience with this book. I wish Ms. Lee continued success and I hope as time goes on more people will break loose and that country will be independent. It does make you want to make sure the things you think of as truth are truth and not something others want you to believe.

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