2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge

Tina has read 2 books toward her goal of 40 books.
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Monday, October 16, 2017

REVIEW for The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell







TITLE:                 The Diary of a Bookseller

AUTHOR:           Shaun Bythell

GENRE:              Non fiction -memoir

RATING:            4 Stars




Ultimately this was a hard book to rate. There were some great parts and some that, in my opinion, needed work.

I owned a used bookshop for 5 years and reading this book brought back some memories - most of them excellent. I loved, loved, the diary entries related to the customers and for some reason, bookshops do attract some of the quirkiest people.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Bythell's description of his shop and the books in it. I could actually imagine it all in my eye and he did an amazing job with this. 

It felt as though the book was too short and I could have continued reading endless entries, had he decided to document more of his years in the shop. 

For this part this book definitely gets 5 stars.

However, there were a few things that were not clear in his entries and maybe I am being too picky, but if you are going to note how many online orders you receive and fulfill, then you should also note how much money they brought in. At the end of all of his entries, Bythell notes the amount of money he made for the day, but for some reason, excludes his online sales. I would also like to have seen a total for how much the shop brough in every day versus how much he spent each day buying books. Either put complete information in the entries or put nothing at all.

Having said all of this and the reason I struggled with the rating was the fact that there is absolutely no emotion in these entries - nothing. As a former bookshop owner, I can tell you that there was alot of stuff going on in my store and most of it brought some kind of emotion. The feeling you get when someone brings in a box of books - with that possibility of discovering a treasure. The stories you hear from customers about their lives, the ups and downs financially of owning a business. NONE of this is present in this book and it left a hole for me. The author details some of his personal life in the entries and does so without any emotion, be it with his "girlfriend", his parents, regular customers. It seriously removed the fun for me.

Also, where and how did he manage to do all the activities he did from a financial point of view? especially in the winter months where the shop was bringing in less than $50.00 a day - how do you buy a new van? stay at a hotel? hire several people to work in your shop while you go fishing? buy lots of books for serious bucks? I don't get it and it is absolutely not explained. Yes, I agree that this is not our "business" but if you are going to write this type of book, it needs to make sense and the reader needs to understand how this type of business works.

Overall, this was a good read, but it left me with a lot of questions.

I also loved the irony of how Bythell writes often about shooting a Kindle (yep, literally) obviously despising them - yet his book was available on Kindle!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

REVIEW for We Can't Be Friends by



Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an electronic copy of this book.

TITLE:               We Can't Be Friends

AUTHOR:           Cyndy Etler


GENRE:               Non Fiction


RATING:                

This story sounded so interesting to me, so I was thrilled to receive a copy.

I rated this book a 4 because of the core story, NOT the writing.  If you can get past the stilted and somewhat look winded storytelling, you will absolutely enjoy this book.

The author's own life experience, once she is "clean and sober" is an amazingly interesting look at what it feels like to be in recovery from your dependency on drugs and or alcohol.  

Indeed recovery is not for the faint of heart and can be intimidating and confusing for adults, so it is no mystery that it can be even more so for a teenager.

Etler does an excellent job of describing her need for "more" in her life, her need to connect to other people, things and events that will not trigger her or set her off to use again.  The constant fear, the pain, the never/looping of questions in her head.  This is clearly portrayed and shouts out at the readers. 


While you are recovering, you have to do a lot of work on yourself and unfortunately, recovery and self help meetings do not necessarily help you or prepare you for the outside world and how to connect to people and still stay sober.  

Additionally, the outside world and the people do not know how to connect necessarily with someone in recovery.  


It is a very difficult road and scary, something that the author portrays very well.  We feel for her as she discovers who she is and where she fits in.


Wonderful story.  Awful writing.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

REVIEW for Lessons from the Prairie by Melissa Francis





















TITLE:            Lessons from the Prairie

AUTHOR:      Melissa Francis

GENRE:         Memoir/Self Help

RATING:          



I loved, loved Melissa's first book, even though I have never seen one episode of Little House on the Prairie. Her honesty, her humor came through in her first book and coupled with an interesting life story, I could not put it down.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for this one. Yes, her trademark down to earth writing style and her humor are very present, but she lost me with the "life lessons". For me, what worked best about this book are the passages where Melissa talks about her youth or when she speaks about her day to day life today - anything in between was, to me, boring.

I know the book was about Life Lessons, but I was hoping these would be minimal - which is not the case.

I think this book would please many, many readers, but it is not for me. I think I will go back and re-read her first book.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

REVIEW for Epic Fail by Christy Watson












Thank you to the wonderful publishing company LORIMER for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:                      Epic Fail

AUTHOR:                Cristy Watson


GENRE:                    YA


RATING:                  3 Stars


I like this series of books because they are not afraid to tackle the hard subjects.

Epic Fail is about date rape and what it does to not only the victim but the people around her.

While the story was compelling, the characters needed to be a lot more developed. Kenzie, the victim and Jared, her friend who feels guilty about what happened are the two most developed characters and yet, I still haven't figured out much about them. Bree and Seth, two more important players in this story are mentioned on occasion, but absolutely nothing is said about them other than they are bad.

I do like that the author chose to make Kenzie work on getting better with a combination of therapy, friendship and self-esteem. The message, while hard to hear, is, in the end a positive one.

Having said all of this, there were some incredibly important moments that were completely missing in this book. ALL the parents are written as either non caring, clueless or self involved.

Jared was a good character, other than the fact that he went back and forth between being strong and extremely weak, which I would not have minded so much, if he didn't seem to spend all of his time second guessing himself on everything. But, I like that he was there for Kenzie when it mattered most and that he never judged her for what happened.

This is an interesting read, but there are some elements missing here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Review for Being Ana by Shani Raviv










TITLE:                Being Ana

AUTHOR:          Shani Raviv

GENRE:             Memoir

RATING:            





I have read many, many books on addiction and I normally enjoy reading the "recovery" part more than the "disease" part.

However, with this book, it was the contrary. This book was okay until about 3/4 through and then it just got weird and boring.

For sure, I didn't particularly like the author (and the main character) at any point in this story, but that's okay. What i struggled with is the lack of emotion in this story. Even she is describing a disturbing or hard event, you get the impression she is like a robot, which I suppose is part of the story but it makes this story strangely distant.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

REVIEW for The Pumpkin Cookbook by DeeDee Stovel


TITLE:           The Pumpkin Cookbook

AUTHOR:       DeeDee Stovel

GENRE:          Cooking

RATING:         


Pumpkins are magical to me, not sure why, but they are.

I am not a great baker/cook so I was a little intimidated by this cookbook. Fortunately, it is extremely well structured and written and the recipes are extremely easy to follow. I especially like the muffin section!

I have made 4 of the recipes so far and they have all been amazing.

Some pumpkin information at the beginning of the book serves as the "help" section of the book.

My only negative? Where are the pictures? There are barely any pictures of the completed meals and absolutely none of the "this is how you do it" type of pictures.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

REVIEW for The Revenge by Hannah Jayne










Thank you to Sourcebooks for sending me an electronic version of this book.

TITLE:            The Revenge

AUTHOR:      Hannah Jayne

GENRE:          YA

RATING:         






If you can suspend your disbelief, then this book is actually quite entertaining and shines a light on an interesting subject matter, at least to me, which is the self entitled attitude that seems to be so prevalent in teens and YA.

Of course, this book is more about "suspense" then a look at today's generation, but it says a lot about how many YA's think today.

Having said that, I doubt the author was really thinking about this while crafting this story.  She did manage to create two very different main characters - neither are particularly likable and I especially did not like Tony who was, let's just say it, a dumb character.  What would you do if you found your ex girlfriend's cell, on the night she disappears?  of course, stash it in your car (dumb move number 1) and keep calling it in the hopes that Hope will answer (really???? dumb move number 2) and then spend the entire time walking around like a zombie, pretending that life has not changed and make sure to never actually finish one sentence you start and I mean NEVER finish a thought or a sentence.  This guy was making so many dumb moves that I doubt anyone would feel bad for him.

On the other hand, he had a point about Hope and HER motivation, which involves being a self entitled brat, who doesn't think further than her nose (maybe people might be pissed at your dumb move?).....

There are a few interesting turns in this story and those are what actually made this book interesting and a fun read for me.  The writing is fine and while I would have loved  a more in depth look at the "whys" in this book (or at least a better understanding of the main characters), I finished this one in a few days and was happy to have read it.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

REVIEW for Size Zero by VIctoire Dauxerre


TITLE:        Size Zero

AUTHOR:   Victoire Dauxerre

GENRE:      Memoir

RATING:  







I have mixed opinions about this book, but ultimately I rated it a 4 stars because I enjoyed the read immensely. Victoire writes her memoir - her life as a model and focuses most of her book on the world of modelling -vs- food (or lack of it). This was a very honest book, with a direct correlation between what the world wants to see in women and what the reality truly is.

As much as Victoire wants (and becomes) a "it" model, she ends up reducing the amount of food she eats more and more, while the world of modelling never questions why she fits in a size 0, or rather why they don't care that she does.

Victoire does a good job of describing her anorexia like behavior, intertwined with periods of binge eating and then purging through laxatives. What she does not describe all that well are the feelings she experiences. Other than boredom and anger - there never seems to be anything in between.

 Also, Victoire comes across as very immature in many instances, while being beyond her years in others. I wonder how her parents could let her go to NYC, with a man they barely know, so perhaps there are parts of the story that are missing.

Also, Victoire was in the business for a very short amount of time. I do like that she gives us a glimpse of the world of modelling, but it is very limited.

Some good and some not so good in this book. Still, very entertaining, if hard to read because of the subject matter.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

REVIEW for Lucky Girl by Amanda Maciel


Thank you to HarperCollins Children for sending me an electronic copy of this book to read and review.

TITLE:              Lucky Girl

AUTHOR:         Amanda Maciel

GENRE:            YA


RATING:           2 STARS

I adored this author's last book - Tease, in fact, re-read twice (something I rarely do).  So, I was so excited to read this one.

However, after literally pushing myself to finish (I kept counting the number of remaining pages - never a good sign) I feel as though the author committed the ultimate sin (in my eyes), she wrote an incredibly boring book.

Once again, Maciel does a good job of clearly defining her characters and I had a love/hate relationship with Rosie throughout.  As well, I love Maciel's writing, she can detail a scene extremely well, without putting too much or too little detail. 

But the story was simply soooooo slow.  At one point, when I got to the party/storm section of the book I thought "okay, this is where its going to get good" - but it didn't.  Then when I got to the "assessing the storm damage and the flipped car" I thought "now, it will get good"  - but it didn't.

It just never "got" good.  I am so disappointed.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review of Runnin' with the Devil by Noel Monk


A huge thank you to Dey Street Books for allowing me to read this electronic ARC.

Title:               Runnin' with the Devil

Author:           Noel Monk

Genre:             Biography


Rating:




I am a bit fascinated with Van Halen. I am not even sure why, I only like a few of their songs, but I guess the fact that a band can have it all and then literally implode amazes me - hoisted by their own petards has always been the saying that comes to mind when I think of them.

Noel Monk does an excellent job of describing the hectic, crazy and debauched life on the road, which is no small feat considering he was talking about Van Halen AND that he managed to never get too crude about the details.

I could not help but think how crazy people can get over show business and the "stars', be it, rock stars or tv and movie stars. When you read this type of book, you get an ideal perspective, that of looking in from the outside, which makes it easy to see just how corrupted one gets once that sacred "inner circle" is being sought. I have never been much of a follower, even in high school and anytime I have been in any kind of proximity to a "star", I have always found myself walking away, instead of to them - the whole thing is just too ridiculous, which, in short, is sort of Monk's overall attitude and take away on most of what he experienced.

Someone once told me "if you admire someone, just pray you never meet them" and I believe it.

Monk's writing style (or his ghostwriter?) was very engaging and acted as the only adult voice in a world of whinny babies. While he does not shy from telling it like it is, I suspect he also stayed away from a lot of stories, which in some ways, was apparent by the generality of most of what was written. I would have liked a little more in-depth comments, as much of what he writes is more of a generalization of the group, than specific events and people. Although he does not go easy on David Lee Roth or Alex Van Halen by any stretch.

But what is most incredible to me is that these four guys of varying talent, could not see that they were "best" together - that without each other, they would not be as successful. As predicted, large egos and even larger drug habits separated them, turning them all into crying, drooling babies. The way they imploded is fascinating and it appears as though nobody was stopping the slide into total destruction, not Monk, none of the wives - NOBODY - mind you, I am not sure that the members of Van Halen would have listened anyways......I get the feeling that nobody wanted to be on their bad side, with everyone pushing it under the rug.

The amount of drugs these guys took is staggering (and I am sure we did not even hear the half of it) oh and the sex? they should all be on their knees thanking God that they were not doing this in the age of AIDS. How are these guys still alive I will never know.

This story was powerful and extremely macabre and Monk was excellent at giving us that feeling....he knows show business and he knows Van Halen and I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even if I found myself shaking my head at every page.

Oh and for those who want to know - Valerie Bertinelli is barely mentioned in this book although there are two scenarios that made me cringe - she should have been running the other way - you know AWAY from Eddie Van halen.
 




 
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