Book Review: Hillbilly Elegy + The Girls

January 17, 2017

Winter is death, but books offer a small antidote. Two for you today, with another memoir and another novel review coming soon. Suggestions always welcome. Most of my library requests come from the comments in these book review posts.

As always, reviews are spoiler free.

Happy reading. May warmth and sanity find you even on the most wintery days. I’m trying my best, too.

xo

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1. Hillbilly Elegy.

3.5/5 stars (Would recommend to some)

If You’re Looking For: Memoir, current events, the ability to reference what everyone else is reading

If You Like: Real life family dysfunction mixed with political and social commentary

My Review: It is going to seem like a cop out to not give my full reaction to this book (it is kind of a cop out), but in my experience it’s better to actually read the book before reading all the various critiques, controversies, and commentaries (there are plenty for this one). What’s important (I guess?), is that I enjoyed it. It’s interesting, engaging, and a window into a culture in America that is foreign to most. PS: You’ll have a long wait if you request this at the library, so special thanks to my friend Bethany for lending me her copy in time for our book club discussion.

Their Review: “What explains the appeal of Donald Trump? Many pundits have tried to answer this question and fallen short. But J.D. Vance nails it…stunning…intimate…” – 50% of the reviews

“I read this before it was popular. This has nothing to do with Trump. Isn’t the author a Republican? This book is offensive and inconsistent. I lived there and this is false.” – The other 50%

Quoted: Barack Obama strikes at the heart of our deepest insecurities. He is a good father while many of us aren’t. He wears suits to his job while we wear overalls, if we’re lucky enough to have a job at all. His wife tells us that we shouldn’t be feeding our children certain foods, and we hate her for it—not because we think she’s wrong but because we know she’s right.

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2. The Girls.

4/5 stars (Would recommend to a friend)

If You’re Looking For: Fiction, a good story

If You Liked: The Boston Girl

My Review: This is the story of Rose and Ruby Darlen, the world’s oldest surviving craniopagus (conjoined at the head) twins. When I first started reading their “autobiography,” I had to check several times to make sure it wasn’t a true story. Lori Lansens, HOW DID YOU DO THIS. How did you take the very rare premise of twin girls joined at the head and create a novel so believable that it’s almost unbelievable that it isn’t real. Truly funny, fascinating, and beautiful. A brilliant portrait of two very different people, connected by biology and sisterhood. Couldn’t put it down.

Their Review: “It is the true test of a writer’s mettle to create a convincing narrator, and Lori Lansens has done it not once but twice in her remarkable novel about conjoined twins. The two fascinating protagonists of The Girls live their lives together in every way, and yet nevertheless emerge with beliefs and desires all their own, and with distinct outlooks on their difficult circumstances. Lori Lansens is clearly a novelist with a very delicate touch.” – Arthur Golden, author of Memoirs of a Geisha

Quoted: If heaven is tolerant and writers are allowed (bunch of liars though they are), I wonder if they gather for coffee to ponder the prose they should have written instead.

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Favorite Books

All Book Reviews

New Years Checklist

December 28, 2016

The week between Christmas and New Years is historically weird. Some of it’s the Christmas tree, just hanging out like the elephant in the room. And some of it is that even though the holiday is over, all our kids are still on break and asking for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at 9:30am.

Three days left of 2016. A few ways to pass the time.

1. Movies. A tiny morale boost: Amazon is offering a special promo right now where you rent any one movie for 99 cents. I think I am going to rent The Secret Life Of Pets tonight without the kids like the worst mom ever and eat all the snacks.

How: First find the movies that apply. Then click “More Purchase Options” and enter the promotional code “MOVIE99“. Once the promotional code has been applied, click “Rent Movie”.

Note: On site pricing will not reflect your discount, but your order history will show the promotional credit applied. Valid once per account. The credit expires January 23, 2017.

2. Music. Spotify has a deal right now where you can sign up for a premium account (NO ADS) for 99 cents for three months. This is an insane deal. Spotify and I don’t work together and I am not an affiliate of theirs, but I thought I’d let you know in case you love their service but cannot listen to one more terrible Home Depot ad. Kicking myself for signing up for last month’s ten dollar deal instead of waiting for this one. Anyways, you can find my playlists here.

3. New Year Reflections. Resolutions are often pointless, but I always appreciate the new beginning-ness of this holiday. A good time to look backwards and forwards and casually glance over gym membership fliers. This year I am looking less at gym memberships and more at the idea of separating my real job (writing) with my side job (blogging). No concrete ideas yet, just thinking out loud about ways to be even more annoying on the Internet.

Happy New Year, friends.

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Four Ways To Give At The End Of The World…I mean 2016

December 14, 2016

helping

It’s been quite a year, no?

Four ways to give back this season. A time of joy and sorrow.

1. Help the city of Aleppo. From my friend Suzie: I don’t think we have the right to say “never again” regarding the Holocaust anymore. We collectively do not deserve the credit that is implied by that. The credit that we would do anything differently, because it clearly has happened again. The world stood by and watched even as it was live tweeted for us. As my family celebrates Christmas this year, our focus for us and our children is on the fact that Jesus was born a middle eastern refugee. More on what’s going on here

2. Pay overdue lunch accounts at your local public school. School lunch is a big part of the day for students, but some families cannot afford it every day of the school-week. Anonymously paying off overdue lunch accounts at your local schools is a great way to support the community.

3. Support the legal defense of warriors protecting land, water, and human rights by donating and standing with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline from ripping through their ancestral homelands. It threatens their water, their sacred places, and the future of their children.

4. Raise awareness for gun violence against children. Four years ago today, 20 children and 6 adult staff members were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. You can donate in memory of Charlotte, Daniel, Rachel and Olivia. Josephine, Ana, Dylan, and Dawn. Madeleine, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Anne, and Emilie. Jack and Noah, Caroline and Jessica. Avielle, Lauren, Mary, and Victoria. Benjamin and Allison.

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Photo source

Three Years Of Eva December

December 13, 2016

Three years ago, my wild girl was born. Her dad delivered her. There was snow on the ground. Those are the things I’ll never forget.

I’ll also never forget how much she surprised me. When the boys were born, I knew them right away. Maybe it was their constant and intense need for me every second of every day (eye roll emoji), I don’t know. Eva has always been a stranger. At first it was startling, how different she was from the rest of us, but then it was the very best surprise. I’m so lucky to know her.

Happy birthday to my strong, happy girl. You make us all so much better.

 

More home movies.

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Curated Tweets [Volume 12]

November 30, 2016

curated-tweets

@katejbaer

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