Girl Reading

Girl Reading

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Before I GoBefore I Go by Colleen Oakley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This has now become my favorite book, so far, of 2015. Although it is not a “feel good – happy ending” book, I could relate a lot. It is about a young, married woman, Daisy, married to Jack, who is finishing up his dual degrees to become a veterinary doctor and a PhD doctor (a 7-year journey). Daisy is a breast cancer survivor of three years (after going through chemo and radiation), working on her graduate degree, and waiting to travel and have children with Jack once his degree is finished in a few months. Their whole life has been working towards this goal, and then what they will do “after.” She is about to celebrate her 3-year “cancerversary” when she has her annual tests and gets the news that her cancer is back, and this time it’s stage IV, incurable, and everywhere - brain, bones, breast, liver, lungs. She has a six-month prognosis to live. The book is all about her emotions, her fear that her beloved husband, Jack, can’t function without her, and that she needs to find him a second wife for after she’s gone. But then she has second thoughts about it and gets jealous thinking of him with someone else. She shuts her husband out, not wanting him to go to doctor appointments or surgeries with her, and not talking to him about her feelings or his. She literally shuts down. I think unconsciously she was pushing him away, thinking he might as well get used to not being with her, when all he wanted was to be with her. I wanted to shake her and tell her that she’s still alive, not dead yet, and she needs to LIVE her last months with him! The writing is beautiful and the story is so poignant, raw, and moving. I can’t believe it is Colleen Oakley’s first novel! The novel deals with many issues: death, life, love, the mother/daughter relationship, best friend relationship, introspection, letting go, and a host of other themes. I literally felt like I was inside Daisy’s head and could feel what she was feeling and think what she was thinking. Some of the sentences were written so perfectly and beautifully that I just stopped reading and pondered them.
I especially related to this book because I am a 10 year breast cancer survivor myself, and recently I had a scare, fearing that it had returned. Luckily, all my tests (first tests done in 10 years) were clear. But for a brief time I felt like Daisy, scared of a recurrence, but I was so lucky and fortunate that it was nothing. In her case, she was only 27, so very young, so her diagnosis was doubly scary. Also, I have a friend whose husband was recently diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer, and what she is going through I can only imagine. So this book had special meaning for me at this time. It made my throat tighten at certain scenes and I cried throughout; it was very cathartic! Like I said, it is a heartbreaking book, but my favorite of this year. I highly recommend it.


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Monday, May 18, 2015

A book club pick I would never have picked up on my own, but I loved it!

Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)Soulless by Gail Carriger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would never have picked this book up on my own to read, as I'm not into vampires and werewolves (except the Twilight series). But, as it was a book club pick, I went out of my comfort zone and read it. Actually, I listened to the Audible version and it was wonderful! I actually really enjoyed this book and found it humorous, a delight, and a breath of fresh air, a change from my usual reading. I liked the characters, the setting, and the story. My one complaint is that I don't think Alexia was soulless at all; I felt she had a lot of "soul." I loved her character, her wittiness, her intelligence, her love and caring for her friends and lover. The "sex" scenes, although not "too" explicit, were explicit enough to be pretty steamy, ha ha. I could see this book being made into a movie! The pronunciation of some of the names on the audio version were NOT how I would have thought how they were pronounced, so I enjoyed listening to the book for that reason.

I don't know if I will read the others in the series (too many books, so little time), but I might try them. If you want a light, fun read, I highly recommend this book, and can't wait for our book discussion at book club this weekend.

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I was excited to read this book from my favorite Little Couple!

Life Is Short (No Pun Intended): Love, Laughter, and Learning to Enjoy Every MomentLife Is Short (No Pun Intended): Love, Laughter, and Learning to Enjoy Every Moment by Jennifer Arnold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have watched every single episode of the t.v. reality show, The Little Couple, about the lives of the authors of this book. In fact, it is one of my most favorite shows. Therefore, I really enjoyed their book, although I knew most of the things in it already. The only thing new was finding out that Jen's parents had divorced, her dad had remarried and divorced, and then her parents had remarried each other! (By the way, I love her mom, Judy.) Jen and Bill appear to be one of the nicest couples on t.v., so respectful and loving of each other, so intelligent, hard-working, and loving and dedicated to their two children. I never hear anyone on social media bad-mouthing this couple or their show; they are truly well-liked. It is a testament to their character and how they are doing their show that people truly admire them. As an adoptive parent myself (from Guatemala) and a cancer (breast) survivor, I also could relate a LOT to their story, so this book was especially meaningful to me. I am so excited over their adoptions of Will and Zoey, both such cute kids. Will is so much like Bill that it's eerie and he was obviously meant to be his son! Zoey is so so cute. Both children appear very intelligent and I can't wait for the new season to begin to see how they are doing and how Bill's latest surgery went. The book was well written and I liked the alternating chapters from each of JEn's and Bill's points of view. For a change, even though it was an advanced uncorrected proof, I did not find any editing errors. Kudos to them for that! When I got this book, I dropped the other books I was reading to immediately read this one!

**I received this book free from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.**

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

My favorite book of 2015 (so far)!

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All the Light We Cannot See is in my top 5 books read in 2015, so far. I listened to the Audible version and thought the narrator was perfect; I could always tell who was speaking. Although some reviewers complain about how the book skips around in time and character, I actually liked it. It went from Marie-Laure to Werner from the present to the past, alternating. I like how it all came together. Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her father and Werner lives in Germany with his sister and in an orphanage type of home. Marie-Laure became blind at age 6 and her father builds her a model of her neighborhood so she can become independent and find her way around. He works in the National Natural History Museum in Paris and Marie-Laure learns her academics from her father, from reading, and from the museum. Despite her blindness, she is very, very intelligent and loves to learn. Werner is also an extremely intelligent boy and is fascinated with radios. He learns to repair them and build them, to the point where the townspeople bring their radios to him to fix. When World War II breaks out, Werner is selected to go to an exclusive state school and when he finishes he goes into the Army where he is to find resistance people through their radio transmissions. Marie-Laure and her father leave Paris and go (with a valuable gem from the museum) to St. Malo, where her great-uncle, Etienne, lives, and where she lives out the rest of the WWII. Her uncle was a fascinating character. He was a WWI veteran who has not left his home in 24 years and is agoraphobic. He is wonderful to Marie-Laure and his back story, with his brother (her grandfather), is very interesting. As the story develops, you will discover how Marie-Laure and Werner’s lives will intertwine and how the war affects each of them. The French resistance movement plays a large part in the book, as does some fantasy surrounding the gem/diamond they are guarding. I didn’t really expect what happened towards the end (no spoilers!), but I also was not surprised. I found the book fascinating and from a different perspective of the war than that which I have previously read about. It will stay with me for a long time. I highly recommend it.

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