Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review: Educated, by Tara Westover

Genre: Non-fiction memoir
Date Published: February 2018
Publisher: Random House
# Of Pages/Listening Time: 334 pgs/12 hours

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.
Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.
Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.

My Rating:
 ★★ 1/2
.....For capturing my interest from the beginning

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Book Review: The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, by Neil Gaiman

Genre: Magical Realism
Date Published: June 2013
Publisher: William Morrow Books
# Of Pages/Listening Time: 181 pages/5 hours 45 minutes

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn't thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she'd claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.
Forty years earlier, a man committed suicide in a stolen car at this farm at the end of the road. Like a fuse on a firework, his death lit a touchpaper and resonated in unimaginable ways. The darkness was unleashed, something scary and thoroughly incomprehensible to a little boy. And Lettie—magical, comforting, wise beyond her years—promised to protect him, no matter what.
A groundbreaking work from a master, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is told with a rare understanding of all that makes us human, and shows the power of stories to reveal and shelter us from the darkness inside and out. It is a stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.

My Rating:
.....For being an enchanting read

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Book Review: Inheritance (Inheritance #4), by Christopher Paolini

Genre: Young Adult Epic Fantasy
Date Published: November 2011
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
# Of Pages/Listening Time: 849 pages/31 hours

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: It began with Eragon... It ends with Inheritance.
Not so very long ago, Eragon — Shadeslayer, Dragon Rider — was nothing more than a poor farm boy, and his dragon, Saphira, only a blue stone in the forest. Now the fate of an entire civilization rests on their shoulders.
Long months of training and battle have brought victories and hope, but they have also brought heartbreaking loss. And still, the real battle lies ahead: they must confront Galbatorix. When they do, they will have to be strong enough to defeat him. And if they cannot, no one can. There will be no second chance.
The Rider and his dragon have come further than anyone dared to hope. But can they topple the evil king and restore justice to Alagaƫsia? And if so, at what cost?
This is the spellbinding conclusion to Christopher Paolini's worldwide bestselling Inheritance cycle.

My Rating:
.....For being a good conclusion(?) to an epic series.

Book Review: A Gentleman In Moscow, by Amor Towles

Genre: Historical fiction
Date Published: September 2106
Publisher: Viking
# Of Pages/Listening Time: 462 pages/18 hours

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: He can’t leave his hotel. You won’t want to.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Rules of Civility—a transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel.
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.
Brimming with humor, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavor to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

My Rating:
.....For warming my heart.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Midway Recap: What's Been Going On And What I'm Planning

Okay, halfway through September!  8 weeks left to go!

Life Recap
I think this is the first time I'm glad that summer is ending.  The end of this pregnancy is coming and I'm impatient for it to end!  Not only will I finally start getting my body back, I'll also have a son.  I've been feeling him kick all this time; how he kicks when the cat lays down on top of him, how he seems to like rock 'n roll music....I've been learning so much about him all this time, and I just can't wait to meet him in person!

Lately, it seems that I've been getting a mixture of extremely busy days (for a pregnant lady), and lovely days off (this is rare for a self-employed individual, by the way).  Over the past couple of weeks there were times that I was working at least five hours in a row, and staying on my feet and dancing for most of it.  Pre-pregnancy-me would have just shrugged this off, but when you have a bun in the oven, those five hours are exhausting and I end up limping back home because my feet, back, and hips are all killing me!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book Review: The Bear And The Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1), by Katherine Arden

Genre: Russian Historical Fantasy
Date Published: January 2017
Publisher: Del Rey
# Of Pages/Listening Time: 323 pages/11 hours 50 minutes

Goodreads | Audible

Synopsis: A magical debut novel for readers of Naomi Novik's Uprooted, Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, and Neil Gaiman's myth-rich fantasies, The Bear and the Nightingale spins an irresistible spell as it announces the arrival of a singular talent with a gorgeous voice.
At the edge of the Russian wilderness, winter lasts most of the year and the snowdrifts grow taller than houses. But Vasilisa doesn't mind--she spends the winter nights huddled around the embers of a fire with her beloved siblings, listening to her nurse's fairy tales. Above all, she loves the chilling story of Frost, the blue-eyed winter demon, who appears in the frigid night to claim unwary souls. Wise Russians fear him, her nurse says, and honor the spirits of house and yard and forest that protect their homes from evil.
After Vasilisa's mother dies, her father goes to Moscow and brings home a new wife. Fiercely devout, city-bred, Vasilisa's new stepmother forbids her family from honoring the household spirits. The family acquiesces, but Vasilisa is frightened, sensing that more hinges upon their rituals than anyone knows.
And indeed, crops begin to fail, evil creatures of the forest creep nearer, and misfortune stalks the village. All the while, Vasilisa's stepmother grows ever harsher in her determination to groom her rebellious stepdaughter for either marriage or confinement in a convent.
As danger circles, Vasilisa must defy even the people she loves and call on dangerous gifts she has long concealed--this, in order to protect her family from a threat that seems to have stepped from her nurse's most frightening tales.

My Rating:
 ★★ 1/2
.....For being a pleasant surprise