Posted in 2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #33

Back to the mothership for this choice! I had never heard of this book, which is odd since it was apparently a really big deal when it was published and there is a movie about it.

A book with the month or day of the week in the title- Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

Morrie has been diagnosed with ALS. There is no cure and while many assume he would fade away in self pity and remorse instead the lively sociology professor embraces his last days with a vigor few live their best days with.

Mitch was one of his favorite students when he was a student at Brandies university in the 1970s. The feeling was mutual and upon graduation Mitch promised to keep in touch. Like many people though, life got busy and in the way and Mitch finds himself sitting with Morrie after a 16 year absence trying to squeeze in as much time as he can as Morrie’s days run out.

Mitch spends every Tuesday for 13 weeks at Morrie’s home, speaking to him about the meaning of life and trying to find answers to all his burning questions. This is his last class with his beloved professor and the lessons he learns are far more important than any form his university days.

The book is broken down into each topic the two men discuss. As it progresses, the ALS that is taking over Morrie’s body also progresses. Morrie maintains a love of life, passion for people and an against the grain attitude towards culture and the world. He helps Mitch face death directly and in the process helps him face his life as well.

The book end with Morrie’s life with all proceeds from the publication going to his medical bills.

This book is meant to be very thought provoking as Morrie’s theories on a life well lived are laid out. It was easy to read from a time stand point although the concepts were heavy. It is laid out in a way to allow you to think over each topic and digest it as you go. It is worth the read if you haven’t already.


Posted in 2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #32

The next prompt was back to me and I have found that finding the book is nearly as much fun as reading it. These later prompts are reminding me that earlier picks may have fit better in these categories as well.

A book set in two different time periods – The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

1912, Emily. 1929, Mary. 1968, Hillary. Present day, Charlotte. Each bride finds themselves in the possession of a magical wedding dress made with gold silk that shines in the light, never fades and never needs altered.

Each bride has a story to tell and it is up to the newest owner, Charlotte, to find out where the dress came from and what it means. As a modern day bridal shop owner who specializes in matching each bride with the perfect dress, Charlotte is up to the task. When she begins to untangle the history of the dress she learns more about herself than she thought possible.

Charlotte is about to get married when the book begins, but she has questions: is he the right man, does she want to get married, will she fit in with his family? She feels unsettled about her own past as an orphan with no family and has been delaying her own wedding plans until the month prior to the date when she finds herself at an auction purchasing a welded shut trunk for $1,000 from a strange man dressed in purple velvet.

The book then flashes back in time to 1912 and introduces the reader to Emily, a well to do young lady torn who has sworn her hand to a man in her social circle while secretly loving another. The city she lives in is separated by race and Emily finds herself longing for a wedding dress made by an African American woman. She frequents the “black neighborhood” to have the dress handmade all the while siting for a hideous dress her mother insists on from the white seamstress in town.

Back to present day and Charlotte has broken up with her fiancee and broken into the trunk to find a 100 year old dress that glows from an inner light and looks brand new. She begins her search to find the original owner and is led first to the last owner: Hillary who helps her find Mary who tells the story of Emily.

What I found interesting about this book is that while it is a basic, easy reading feel good story with predictable turns and a tidy ending, throughout the novel it actually brings to light some deep themes. Emily, back in 1912, is a well to do white woman who is joining the suffragist movement. On top of that, she is fighting the chain gangs that work in the  mines for no pay and constantly extending sentences. Then we find out that she is breaking all the social rules when she hires an african american woman to make her wedding dress and gets arrested for being seen in the wrong neighborhood. These are awfully heavy, and pretty flippantly processed, themes for the book to cover in the midst of finding the history behind a magical wedding dress.

The book is also heavily christian which was not evident from reading the excerpt I had access to. Charlotte herself is very religious and the man in purple who brings the dress to everyone and never changes throughout the century the book spans is heavily hinted at being God.

All in all it was an okay book. Easy to read although a lot of the minor themes don’t really fit into the arc of the novel. I wouldn’t really recommend it.


Posted in 2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #31

I’m so far behind in my review posts!! This topic was another broad one that spans any genre and time period. It was my mom’s pick again.

A book about an interesting woman – Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca

In the early 1900s, detectives were all the rage with the Sherlock Holmes novels just being published and real life detective hitting the streets. In New York City, the police force is in early infancy with a new, young commissioner at the helm when Ruth Cruger goes missing after leaving her family home to go ice skating, a task she did frequently. This time, however, Ruth does not come home and her father contacts every investigator he can find to locate her. The press becomes involved and the entire city is on high alert for the missing young lady.

Grace Humiston is a prominent female lawyer in New York City taking on the hopeless cases, those of the poor and those of the down trodden. Her storied career took her into the peonage cases of the farms of the deep south working with the US President to take down the system. Upon completion of this task, left somewhat unfinished, she picks up the case of a man on death row which drains her energy until she return to New York to find herself thrown into the case of the missing girl consumed by the fact that something was missing and she was the one who could find it.

The novel tells the real life story of a female lawyer in New York city in the early to mid 1900s. By all accounts she was a tenacious woman who refused to take no for an answer and worked hard for those she felt needed it most. She took no money for the majority of her cases and worked hard to equal the playing field having noted early on that those who could not read or write were easily taken advantage of in the system.

The book itself is a little confusing in how it is laid out. It begins with the disappearance of Ruth Cruger which occurs in 1917 and then back tracks the next chapter to Grace’s graduation from law school 10 years earlier. It continues along this path until the two story lines converge with Grace taking on the Cruger case. The book comes across as very disjointed since the main focus is Grace, however the Ruth case itself takes up more of the book. By the time Grace joins the case, I felt uninterested in much of it having spent so much time reading about her travels in the South to bring down the peonage system of keeping farmers in constant and impossible to overcome debt that now shifting to a lost girl seems to pale in comparison to her accomplishments in the South. Also, since every case presented is figured out by the magnificent Grace, when she takes on the Ruth case it is nearly predictable what the outcome will be.

I found myself disengaged from the book throughout most of it and hoping it would get to the point which is a shame since Grace has a very interesting story to tell about her life.



Posted in 2017 Reading Challenge, Uncategorized

2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #30

As we get deeper into the challenge, we are finding out that some earlier books may have fit into these later categories a little better. That is one issue with the way we are approaching it by going straight down the list. This one was up to my mom and as her usual she chose a good one.

A book with pictures: Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton

Brandon Stanton moved to New York with a project in mind. He would take 1000 pictures of the people in the city documenting each neighborhood and those that lived there. This turned into a social media storm with his popular Facebook page that he turned into this book.

The book is filled with pictures of people he met on the streets of New York City with small blurbs about each one. They encompass the homeless, the heartbroken, the dreamers, the business men and women, the rich. It is a telling picture book of real life.

I had already been a follower of HONY on Facebook although I had turned off notifications over a year ago due to them clogging my newsfeed. This book is mostly pictures and small blurbs whereas his Facebook page and his second book dive deeper into the lives of each person he photographs and interviews.

One picture really stood out to me. It is of a late middle aged homeless man, a close up of his face as he peers into the camera. The caption is along the lines of (sorry, I don’t have it memorized) I may be homeless and an alcoholic, but I have a dream. I want to go fishing.

I’m not sure why that struck me so hard, but I found myself lingering over the caption and the picture. Maybe it is because the dream is so simple for most but out of reach for this man. Maybe it is because the dream to go fishing is so small compared to his greater needs of shelter, clothes and food and yet it is what he clings to. Maybe it is because it makes you realize that everyone has a story, everyone has a dream, everyone is a person.

The book takes about 10 minutes to go through and is 10 minutes worth spending.


Posted in 2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #29

The book prompts are getting more broad which is nice as it allows you to pick genres that you enjoy hcowever it also makes the research behind the title more involved. After I finished the last book, my next pick became available and I was excited to get into this one.

A book with an unreliable narrator- The Three by Sarah Lotz

Four planes crash around the world on the same day: North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. As each crash site is being explored, one child is found from each plane in North America, Asia and Europe. Three children survive the horrific tragedies around the world. How? What does it mean?

As information regarding the crashes, the odd behavior of the surviving children, and a cryptic message left by a dying victim of the Japanese crash begins to leak to the public, fanatics begin to gather and a chain of events occurs that seems almost unstoppable.

Were the crashes natural and the children just lucky? Was it terrorism? Did aliens attack? Are the children the harbingers of the Apocalypse?

This book intrigued me from the get go. The entire book is written in the past tense as a collection of manuscripts, interviews, online chat room recordings, articles and news reports that were collected by the author and published after the events played out as she tries to make sense of what happened and find the truth. As such, the reader of The Truth is really reading a book inside of this book which is interesting in and of itself. In addition to that, the chapters bounce between writing styles: one will be an interview by the fictional author, the next a transcript of an internet chat room, and another an article written by another author. This style allowed the story to be told from multiple view points along the way and gives the reader a sense of how the world was feeling and slowly falling apart.

Each child returns to a family member after the crashes a changed child. Strange things begin to happen around them: a grandfather with advanced Alzheimer’s returns to himself again,  an uncle has nightmares and swears the girl is sending them his way, a boy who only speaks through an android. Psychologists diagnose PTSD and tell the family to give them more time. Outsiders call them the riders of the Apocalypse and claim the end of the world is nigh.

In the US, a faction of Doomsdayers gains traction due to a cryptic message a church member in Texas leaves on her cell phone for her pastor as she lay dying in the Japanese forest. As more and more people begin to fear the end of times, the church gains power and eventually gain control of the country creating a uber conservative regime.

Elsewhere, the world falls into disarray as Japan aligns with Korea, Europe falls into a depression and war seems imminent. Overall the question remains: who are these children and why did they survive?

The ending….well…I don’t want to spoil it completely. Thankfully the book does provide an explanation through a series of epilogues after the initial text in a more traditional style of writing. Was I thrilled with the ending? Not right away, but after more thought I really did think it was the best way the author could have ended it.

I do recommend reading it. It is a quick read due to the format and keeps you hanging on to figure the plot out.


Posted in 2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar Reading Challenge Book #28

This was a little out of order as the next prompt that was mine was on hold, so I went ahead and skipped to my next one as we waited. Turns out my pick was one my mom had already read which was surprising to happen for the first time this late in the challenge. She opted to wait while I read it and pick back up when the next one was available off hold.

A book with the main character of a different ethnicity- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 

Florentino is a man of love. He happens upon Fermina Daza when he delivers a message to her father and from the moment he lays eyes on her he knows he has seen the only woman he will ever love. From then on, he stalks her waking moments and positions himself in such a way as to be able to “happen” upon her. After many weeks, he finds the courage to speak to her and thus begins a passionate love affair via the written word: the two never again speak in person and instead their entire relationship takes place in letters.

For her part, Fermina believes in her love of Florentino. She is a girl of sharp wit, a quick temper and a hatred of her father’s plans for her life. While Florentino writes prose full of poetry and flamboyant love, her responses are short and to the point. When he proposes marriage, she takes her time before accepting. Their love affair is secret from Fermina’s father and only her Aunt knows of them. When her father does find out, he is enraged. He sends the Aunt away and takes Fermina on a trip to her ancestral home to meet up with her cousins. Along the way, they devise a way to stay in touch.

Once she returns home however she meets up with Florentino face to face for the first time since their initial meeting and all her feelings flee. She abruptly ends the relationship, requests all her letters and trinkets returned and refuses to speak with him again.

Florentino is devastated. He continues to swear his love for her and only her and as their lives diverge, Fermina marries another and Florentino stays “true” to his one and only. As old age draws near, he hopes to rekindle a fire that he believes still exists between them.

The book takes place in a fictional Carribean port at the turn of the 19th century and spans 50 years.  It is written in a mix of past and present tense by an unknown narrator that is neither of the main characters and is never fully revealed.

The main theme is of love, both returned and unrequited and the lengths one will go to to hold onto the past.

Fermina at once puts Florentino out of her mind once she turns him away  and moves on to marry a local doctor allowing her to move up in class. She lives her life without a second though to the boy who once proposed marriage to her although she sees him out in town quite frequently. Once her husband passes, she is confronted with Florentino once again and quickly sends him away out of hand but soon realizes that perhaps she is as wrong now as she was before.

Florentino never forgets Fermina and begins to build his life in every way to serve his greater purpose of winning her back. He understands that her husband must die before he can make his move and waits patiently for over 50 years to do so. Lest one should think him a martyr, over those 50+ years he has nearly 700 sexual encounters and affairs which ends with an affair with his 14 year old goddaughter.

The book was riveting in content building the story in both the past and present. It takes care to spend time looking at those years from both Florentino’s and Fermina’s point of view which casts an interesting look at our lives and how we effect those we interact with. Each character is well rounded although I did find myself liking Fermina more and Florentino less as their stories unfolded over the course of their lives.

There are times when the book bogs down especially as it goes over the many sordid affairs Florentino aligns himself with. It got redundant and I found myself thinking “yeah, I got it the man likes to sleep around” multiple times throughout and wishing for another Fermina chapter to come along. The ending leaves a little to be desired, but I suppose there wasn’t any better way to do it.

I do recommend the book. My copy was nearly 900 pages long of close type, single spaced lines so it took a while to get through. 4/5

Posted in 2017 Reading Challenge

Popsugar reading Challenge Book #27

With such a broad prompt, nearly any genre could fit the bill. I was pretty excited about the possibilities with this one and waited to see what mom chose.

A book set during wart time –  Parade’s End by Ford Madox Ford. 

The world is on the cusp of World War I and those working in office in England at the start only have a hint of what is to come. Christopher Teitjen is one of the last Torries and has a station within the statistics department and a wife he hates and who has recently left him for a brief period on vacation with another man.

I’d like to tell you all more about the plot, but the truth is I got 100 pages in and hated it so much I stopped reading. My mom made it about 50 pages. Maybe less.

The book is lengthy to the point of being drudgery.  The descriptors are overly indulgent and the characters are mere facades. Apparently there is an entire series on TV following the book and I can only hope it is more interesting than the book.