Marrow ~ Elizabeth Lesser

Marrow cover

Date Completed:9/26/2016

 Much like the moral of the story itself, I felt both drawn in and pushed away by Lesser’s memoir. This book is an incredibly spiritual journey, and Lesser bares her soul to the reader in a way that I can truly appreciate. 

Oddly enough, Lesser talked about her family background in Christian Science, and I have family background in CS, too! So that bit was exciting for me, even if we had completely different experiences of it. 

While I don’t necessarily agree with all of her revelations and ways of thinking, I enjoyed reading Marrow with all of its deepness. I don’t often think very spiritually, but I certainly appreciate hearing from those who do. Lesser’s constant optimism was also refreshing. She explains her mindset of hope often throughout the story, as it is a key point in her experience with her sister. However, while this aspect of the story often appealed to me, it also rejected me at times because I am not so optimistic. Even if I believe in the power of mindset, I still struggled with how far she took it. This is not to say anything was wrong with the book. In fact, quite the opposite! Lesser’s opinions sparked healthy internal debate within myself as well as prompting me to ask new questions of friends that I might not have asked before. 
Also, the fact that the themes of love were not focused on romantic partnership so much as they were on family love and friendship was a major turn on for me. I’m over the whole romantic trope thing (at least most of the time)! So I was glad this book branched out. 

I’m always excited to find memoirs that are a breeze to read and offer new insight into the way people think and work. I definitely recommend giving this book a try.

ELIZABETH LESSER is the author of The Seeker’s Guide and the New York Times bestseller Broken Open. She is the cofounder of Omega Institute, recognized internationally for its workshops and conferences that focus on holistic health, psychology, spirituality, creativity, and social change. Prior to her work at Omega, she was a midwife and childbirth educator. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.

Find out more about Elizabeth at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

I received this book in exchange for an honest review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.

A Court of Thorns and Roses ~ Sarah J. Maas

Feyre fights to survive in A Court Of Thorns And Roses

Date Completed: 9/1/2016

Rating: 6/10

I’m not gonna lie, it took me almost 100 pages to get into this book. However, once I got past the boring beginning part where everything was bleak and Feyre constantly feels stuck and like her whole family is on the verge of dying and all of the human race is probably going to die at the hand of faeries, once I got past that part it was just one long train of me dramatically groaning at my roommate about how dramatic this book was. I was SO into it. Yet, at the same time, I was annoyed by how attached at the hip she and her love interest become. High lord this and High Lord that, please. It was terribly annoying. My favorite scenes ended up being the ones with Rhysand and the ones where she put her smarts and badass fighting skills to good use.

Maas’s writing style was okay, but it was the storyline that truly compelled me forward. Maas overused ellipses, another bothersome point, especially when I was reading it out loud. However, 500 pages breezed past and I readily picked up the next book in the series. We’ll see how I feel about that soon. I was a little disappointed because there is so much hype revolving around this book, which I think is why I gave the book a lower rating. Perhaps had I gone in with lower expectations, this book might have been more enthralling. Maas’s worldbuilding, on the other hand, was superb; I’d love to see what a D&D campaign with her as dungeon master would look like!

Sarah J. Maas is a YA novelist. This is one of her popular series, another longer more popular one is the Throne of Glass series, which is now being made into a TV series. You can read more about her on her website.

Look Me in the Eye ~ John Elder Robison

look me in the eye | The {geeky} wife

Date Completed: 8/8/2016

Rating: 9/10

A memoir by and about Asperger’s, this book was as funny as could be and so heartwarming! John Elder takes readers on a tour of his life, and shows us how both difficult and joyous of an experience it can be to live with Asperger’s. His personal accounts are fantastical, and I definitely had a moment of, “Damn, am I still reading the same book?” from time to time as the scenes became more and more strange. Robison worked a series of jobs that ranged from factory work to working for rockstars and everything in between, resulting in some hilarious stories. Robison did eventually settle down, and in doing so, he took the time to ponder and discuss what it means to have Asperger’s.

His interactions with family and friends were particularly heartwarming for me. I love when memoirs go into depth of discussion about family relationships and dynamics, and this one surely did. I also loved being able to compare John Elder’s experience with that of his brother’s, Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors.

Whether you know a ton about Asperger’s, have Asperger’s, or know nothing about it, I’m sure this story would prove an interesting read for people from all backgrounds.

John Elder Robison is now the author of three books. As you will read about in this memoir, he has worked many different jobs and lived many lives in his lifetime. He is also a speaker and educator out in the world. You can find out more about him on his website!

The Yard ~ Aliyyah Eniath

The Yard ISBN 9789386050168 PDF epub | Aliyyah Eniath ebook ...

Date Completed: 9/7/2016

Rating: 6/10

The Yard is a love story, and more than that the story of family. Behrooz and Maya grow up on the Yard together, in Trinidad, but Behrooz has always been an outsider and Maya has a desire to explore the world. Her free spirit gets her in trouble often, but she’s on the way to creating her own adventure and discovering a life for herself.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story. The author moved us through time with grace and ease. Readers were privy to characters faults and flaws, making this a very believable drama. Maya and Behrooz’s character developments were, understandably, the broadest out of all the characters. However, Eniath made sure to focus on each side character individually as well. There were few throw away characters, which made it easier to follow the storyline.

Although the writing style flowed overall, there were times when the author connected verbs with inanimate objects to create imagery that simply bothered me and distracted from the story. I also found that reading the back cover gave away all major plot points, and was disappointed that there wasn’t more left to be uncovered.

Overall I enjoyed this story. The diversity of the characters, their interests, and education made for a fascinating drama. I believe Eniath shows great potential fordown the road.

Aliyyah Eniath’s book is probably somewhat autobiographical as she hails from Trinidad and has ancestral roots in India. This is her debut novel. Eniath is a literary director of a magazine, and an editor of another. You can read more on her website http://aliyyaheniath.com.

The Martian ~ Andy Weir

The Martian Buch von Andy Weir portofrei bestellen - Weltbild.de

Date Completed : 8/6/2016
Rating: 8/10

I LOVED The Martian. I had watched the movie and expected the book to be well-written and interesting, but it exceeded my expectations by far. Weir’s use of first person was so beautifully executed, very personable and believable. Mark’s character was so well-rounded.

I don’t know much about space travel or science things, as I believe is true for the general American public. I found myself learning tidbits and renewing my passion for chemistry, a long lost love of mine, even though Mark’s main areas of expertise did not include chemistry.

I found the ending to be much more abrupt than that of the movie. I believe the movie tried to draw out the family component of the tale to give viewers more of an epilogue. In the movie, Mark is seen teaching classes and talking about his experience on Mars. However, this alternate ending is not necessary. The book still felt complete without the additional closure provided in the movie version.

Mark’s sense of humor is priceless and showcased throughout the first person account. “I thought a laptop would be fine outside. It’s just electronics, right? It’ll keep warm enough to operate in the short term, and it doesn’t need air for anything. It died instantly. The screen went black before I was out of the airlock. Turns out the “L” in LCD stands for “Liquid.” I guess it either froze or boiled off. maybe I’ll post a consumer review. “Brought product to surface of Mars. It stopped working. 0/10.” He’s often very sarcastic and dry, but I personally love that style and Weir times this form of humor perfectly, making light of often terrible situations.

Andy Weir works as a software engineer and has been a lifelong space nerd. The Martian was his first novel – amazing! I can’t wait to hear more from him. You can check out his website here.

The Kingdom ~ Fuminori Nakamura

The Kingdom by Fuminori Nakamura, Translated from the Japanese by ...

Date Completed: 8/4/2016
Rating: 4/10

This book was really weird. Probably one of the weirdest books I’ve read. No, definitely one of the weirdest books I’ve read. Yurika takes us on a journey through her life where she works as a freelancer posing as a prostitute to blackmail important men. That isn’t even the strangest bit, because what’s truly strange is the descriptions of the enjoyment she gets out of having power over these powerful men. I feel no sympathy for Yurika because she has no sense of empathy whatsoever, except for perhaps one past relationship that’s a little unclear. She lives alone and has no friends, and eventually she ends up getting blackmailed by two powerful men on two sides of a war, and eventually finds herself trapped in a life or death situation. These two men also have no emotions or empathy. Finally, one of them cuts her a break for no known reason and her life spirals away. There is no real ending, just more psychological thriller and speculation.

Psychological thrillers, as I’ve mentioned before, walk a fine line between making you feel emotions, and making you concerned that another person or thing cares so little about emotions that everyone is in danger. This book didn’t create any emotional investment for me as the reader, nor did I feel like the characters displayed enough emotion to be twisted. They didn’t quite feel real. I think that’s where this book fell short in the end.

Fuminori Nakamura has won several awards and prizes for his books. They have been translated into several languages.

Outlander ~ Diana Gabaldon

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Date Completed: 8/2/2016
Rating: 7/10

This book took me forever to finish. I liked the characters, I liked the romance, I liked the premise, but I didn’t love any of it. And six hundred pages in, it gets a little hard to keep going through a story that you only like, not love. However, after a brief break in which I read five other books, I finished! It was good. I’ll probably read the next one, and maybe even keep reading through the series.

I’ve certainly never read a book like this before. I tend to stick to more realistic stories, memoirs are my favorites after all. I’ve never read a romance novel, and while the romance wasn’t the main plot, it was a big component. For those of you who don’t know the Outlander plot, and for some reason I was among you until a few weeks ago, it’s a time travel story that starts in the 1940s and goes back to the 1700s. It’s weird. I do love a good historical fiction, though, and getting a better idea of Scotland in the 1700s is always a good time. Gabaldon certainly does a good job of exploring language and character traits that would be likely to occur back then, or at least believable to someone who is not a historian.

I really enjoyed that Claire is a medical professional in the 1940’s and also that she is very feminine. When she goes back in time her worth as a doctor increases even more. Her whole character is very feminist; she enjoys her independence, has a solid work ethic, and maintains her femininity – Claire successfully embodies a woman who makes her own choices about how she portrays her gender despite very gendered roles being thrust upon her.

Gabaldon uses time travel effectively to not only combine WWII perspective with 1600s knowledge, but also to create the primary romantic conflict in the story. Without giving anything away, I will say that Gabaldon’s tactic, while at times irking-ly overdiscussed, feels like a very realistic internal dilemma for Claire to face.

This is the first of eight currently written books in the series by Diana Gabaldon. Gabaldon has been writing this series for 25 years and the show finally came out, it’s become pretty popular.