Friday, February 28, 2014

February Book Reviews Books 7-14 of 50

Fallout - Todd Strasser
Have you ever been curious about what would happen if history had gone a different way.  In Fallout Todd Strasser does just that sort of speculation.  He takes the cold war anxiety of the 50's and 60's.  He has a family build a bomb shelter.  The he sets that bomb off.  Told from the young son Scott we experience the first two weeks in the bomb shelter as well as flashbacks to both family and historical events that lead up to the dropping of the bombs.  When the sirens go off Scott's families home is invaded by neighbors who want to seeking protection in the shelter.  His mom is life threateningly injured.  Some people make it in, some people are forced out to die.  Supplies are tight.  Emotions run high but are also punctuated by moments of boredom.  It was an interesting read but also sort of a downer.  Even just speculating about what life would have been like had we nuked our world to pieces is exceptionally depressing.

The Valley of Amazement - Amy Tan
Speaking of bummer books...thanks a lot Amy Tan.  So Tan has written some amazing books.  I love her descriptions of mother-daughter relationships and sort of the complications added by being the child of immigrants parents.  I should have known from the very beginning though this book was going to a nightmare when I realized it was about a Courtesan House.  It follows the lives of a mother and daughter living in China.  The mother, a California girl, ran off to China following a Chinese painter who even though she bares him two children will not marry her and shame his family.  The husband runs off with the son and leaves her with a 1/2 Chinese daughter who is not really well accepted by either side.  With very few options available to her the mother opens a Courtesan House where both Chinese and foreign men frequent to make business deals and interact with beautiful woman.  Heartbreak after heartbreak follow for both woman.  Years pass.  What I really want, the reconciliation of mothers and daughters I don't get until the last 4% of the book.  I mean literally, I looked on my kindle when I was finally there.  This is what Amy Tan does best but instead she fills this book with page after page of the depravity of man, the inner workings of a courtesan house, and sort of the horrors of being born a poor girl in China at the very beginning of the 20th century.  Some of this I was ready for.  Some I was like, okay no thanks.  There was definitely quite a few skipped pages for me.  The truth is I probably would have quit reading but I really wanted that reunion.  It ended up not being worth it.

Vengeance - Megan Miranda
Does anyone even read these post?  Well if you do you'll remember that last month I complained about another book where a female author was trying to portray the voice of a teenage boy and I hated it.  Once again tried and failed.  You have a girl who is super interesting, she almost died after drowning in a frozen lake and she now has the power to feel when people are close to death.  Obviously this is pretty traumatic for her and isn't exactly great for her friends, family, or boyfriend either.  Whose perspective do we get though...the lame, jealous boyfriend.  He comes off so whiny and insecure.  I realize that guys can feel this way, that these feelings do not just exist in the female portion of our population but I don't enjoy reading about them.  It's sort of like the guy version of of Twilight.  Blah.  The bits that were sort of fun about this book, there is a little mystery going on...a possible whodunit.

Her Dark Curiosity - Megan Shepard
So this book was interesting.  Imagine that Dr Moreau had a daughter that he had abandon when he'd run off to The Island.  Imagine that he'd had her come to see him.  Imagine that she'd been part of his destruction but had then returned to England to find that his works had followed her both in some of his creations and his work that was being financed by men of means who want to use his inventions as weapons of war.  Megan Shepard does just that.  You get a little smattering of sci-fi, some Victorian backdrop, a mystery, and some love interest.

The Solitary House - Lynn Shepard
Lynn Shepard wrote this book to be a contemporary of Charles Dicken's Bleak House.  It is as if she wrote her book to live inside the world that we see in Bleak House, so there is a lot of overlap in places and even some of the characters.  I was happy because I love the world Dickens exposes but I don't always enjoy wadding through the Victorian language.  Is that horrible to admit?  It is!!!  I know it, but I just want my stories to be exciting and to the point and Victorian Language sometimes takes a little longer to get there then I have patience for.  I enjoyed this book because it was a good grimy English murder mystery with a quirky engaging detective.  The subject matter is dark though and the backdrop rather grim and the villains just utterly vile so if that is not your cup of tea I would not recommend it.

The Total Money Makeover - Dave Ramsey
So I used to listen to Dave Ramsey on the radio all the time.  Sometimes I think he is really extreme but sometimes I think he is just what I need to hear.  With this big trip we have coming up we got a little to comfortable with debt.  Dave is great at motivating you back on the path of debt avoidance.  We set up a nice little budget.  It's called don't spend any money AT ALL...except on the bare essentials, the trip, and debt.  We even considered only having Dr. J go on the trip since it would be significantly cheaper but Dr. J ultimately convinced me saying this is a once in a life time experience.  Hopefully the budget will help keep us on track.  He also does things like advise you to have $1000 on hand so that you can take care of life's little emergencies and other great little tips like that.  I liked having that little extra bit of motivation.  He also has all these great forms to help you get on a budget, to plan to pay back debt, to learn about investment.  I know people who are huge believers in Dave and people who aren't.  I'm a believer even if I'm way far off from where I should be.  Hope Dr. J and I can stay on track and get those med school debts paid off fast.  Goodness knows when you are a doctor family you need help being motivated to tackle that crazy debt!

Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth - Reza Aslan

Find the review here...

Finally we come to my favorite book of the month..

Harvesting the Heart - Jodi Picoult
Find the review here... 


  1. I am so glad I found your blog. Well, really I followed a link from one of Bridget's post several weeks ago. I enjoy reading about your often amuse me, and I love your enthusiasm and honesty.

    I don't know that a post on book reviews has ever touched me so much. Thank you for sharing from your heart about how these books challenged you (in the cases of Ramsey and Aslan) and made you cry. I hope one day you will have your turn....I will be cheering you on from here.

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