Good Reads (Mostly)

I’ve got some more books to talk about so I’ll just get right to it. Let’s start with this:

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

molokai

Synopsis:

This richly imagined novel, set in Hawai’i more than a century ago, is an extraordinary epic of a little-known time and place—and a deeply moving testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.

Rachel Kalama, a spirited seven-year-old Hawaiian girl, dreams of visiting far-off lands like her father, a merchant seaman. Then one day a rose-colored mark appears on her skin, and those dreams are stolen from her. Taken from her home and family, Rachel is sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. Here her life is supposed to end—but instead she discovers it is only just beginning.

I’m starting with Moloka’i because I just finished it so it’s fresh in my mind, and also because I loved it so, so much. My friend Paula recommended it as one her all-time favourites, and I’m so glad I read it because I think it is now one of mine. The story is just so good and everything I love in a novel. It is a well-written coming of age historical fiction, and it’s heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. It gave me so many feelings, and it still does now when I think about it.

feels

Overwhelming feels at times. I cried on the subway and I didn’t even care. . I also really liked that there were so many wonderful and well-developed characters. I have read so many books lately where there wasn’t a character that I could connect to, so this was completely refreshing. It was also a really interesting glimpse into history during an epidemic that I honestly knew nothing about. So, I loved it. I’m not going to be able to do this book justice with a review but I can not recommend it enough. Such a great read.

Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter

three-little-words

Synopsis:

“Sunshine, you’re my baby and I’m your only mother. You must mind the one taking care of you, but she’s not your mama.” Ashley Rhodes-Courter spent nine years of her life in fourteen different foster homes, living by those words. As her mother spirals out of control, Ashley is left clinging to an unpredictable, dissolving relationship, all the while getting pulled deeper and deeper into the foster care system.

Painful memories of being taken away from her home quickly become consumed by real-life horrors, where Ashley is juggled between caseworkers, shuffled from school to school, and forced to endure manipulative,humiliating treatment from a very abusive foster family. In this inspiring, unforgettable memoir, Ashley finds the courage to succeed – and in doing so, discovers the power of her own voice.

Also a great read, though what Ashley went through is absolutely heart wrenching. Nine years in 14 different foster homes! Can you even imagine? This book made me ragey at the foster care system. I felt for Ashley so hard and was heartbroken when reading of the abuse and neglect she and her brother faced. At the end I was so proud of Ashley and her adoptive family. The fact that she wrote this book so young is impressive, and it is well-written. She doesn’t write with a lot of emotion, but her provocative commentary does a thorough job of letting the world know exactly what she went through, without the book itself being a Debbie Downer. She has become a powerful advocate for child welfare, and it is great that she can take her shitty childhood and make it into a positive influence on others — that takes a lot of strength. Anyway, I enjoyed and recommend.

I Didn’t Come Here to Make Friends by Courtney Robertson

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Synopsis:

Courtney Robertson joined season 16 of The Bachelor looking for love. A working model and newly single, Courtney fit the casting call: She was young, beautiful, and a natural in front of the cameras. Although she may have been there for all the right reasons, as the season unfolded and sparks began to fly something else was clear: She was not there to make friends.

Courtney quickly became one of the biggest villains in Bachelor franchise history. She unapologetically pursued her man, steamrolled her competition, and broke the rules—including partaking in an illicit skinny-dip that sealed her proposal. Now, after a very public breakup with her Bachelor, Ben Flajnik, Courtney opens up and tells her own story—from her first loves to her first moments in the limo. She dishes on life before, during, and after the Bachelor, including Ben’s romantic proposal to her on a Swiss mountaintop and the tabloid frenzy that continued after the cameras stopped rolling.

If you’re a Bachelor fan, you gotta read this. It was light, fun, entertaining and incredibly juicy. Courtney dishes. She does not hold back, about the Bachelor, and about her previous celeb dating. The parts about the Bachelor, which is the majority of the book, are filled with insider info. I liked. I really disliked Courtney when she was on the Bachelor, and I honestly only like her a little bit better after reading her book — her example of “hard times” was that sometimes she had to skip her dance classes when she was young because her parents didn’t have the money and that rubbed me the wrong way (um, see book above and do a little comparison) — but I don’t think she deserved to be torn apart in the media the way she was. Though I’m pretty sure she knew what she was getting into. With her type of personality she probably should have just assumed from the beginning she was going to be edited as Mega Bitch. I had a friend once tell me she would never, ever do reality TV because she just knew she would be edited as the bitch. It makes me wonder what I would be edited as… Dumb Blonde, probably.

According to Courtney Ben sounds like a total jerk and, no matter her flaws, she did not deserve to be treated by him the way she claimed she was (which I do believe — I don’t think she’s a liar). She is much better off without him. Anyway, it’s not some acclaimed literary work or anything but it’s a fun, quick read.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

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Synopsis:

Beth Fremont and Jennifer Scribner-Snyder know that somebody is monitoring their work e-mail. (Everybody in the newsroom knows. It’s company policy.) But they can’t quite bring themselves to take it seriously. They go on sending each other endless and endlessly hilarious e-mails, discussing every aspect of their personal lives.

Meanwhile, Lincoln O’Neill can’t believe this is his job now- reading other people’s e-mail. When he applied to be “internet security officer,” he pictured himself building firewalls and crushing hackers- not writing up a report every time a sports reporter forwards a dirty joke.

When Lincoln comes across Beth’s and Jennifer’s messages, he knows he should turn them in. But he can’t help being entertained-and captivated-by their stories.

By the time Lincoln realizes he’s falling for Beth, it’s way too late to introduce himself.

What would he say . . . ? “Hi, I’m the guy who reads your e-mail, and also, I love you . . . “

This was the sweetest, most charming little book. I’ve been loving Rainbow Rowell lately, and this is up there with Eleanor & Park as one of my faves. She writes such wonderful characters. I love that Attachments took place during Y2K, I’m sure we all remember the fear of everything electronic collapsing in the year 2000. So funny. And I loved the email conversations between Beth and Jennifer. Reminded me of my convos with my best friend. I could really relate to them. I also love that FOR ONCE the main girl (Beth) in a book wasn’t described as a tiny waif. Beth was tall and sturdy and overall just a larger lady and GOOD. Finally not some tiny willowy thing who is constantly getting picked up and swung around by her man. I can’t relate to that. A tall and big boned woman? That’s more my speed.

Really cute book, definitely enjoyed, definitely recommend.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

landline

Synopsis:

Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn’t expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts…

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?

What can I say, I’m on a Rainbow Rowell kick. This one though… eh. Probably my least favourite of hers. Still okay in its own right, but doesn’t compare to her other novels, in my opinion (see ridiculously cute book above). I felt like I was kind of waiting for something to happen the whole time. It was a bit boring. Also, I don’t understand the allure of Neal. He is described as an overweight sulky man who never smiles or laughs. Like, no thanks. He seems like the kind of person you date because they are unattainable (because they give you nothing and you soak up any scrap they might offer you) and therefore an exciting challenge, and then you break up after much too long (and years after you should have) because you finally realize that unattainable is all he really has to offer. Look, we’ve all been there, but you don’t marry that person. Okay in Neal’s case I guess he’s a good dad, so that is a redeeming quality. Anyway, it was okay. Plenty of other Rainbow Rowell books to check out first though!

Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

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Synopsis:

“Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing.” Ellen Degeneres’ winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously… I’m Kidding, Degeneres’ first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn’t want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant.

I love Ellen and I listened to the audio version of this and it was great that she was reading it… But it was just mediocre for me. It was obviously entertaining, as Ellen always is, but it was very much just surface material and didn’t dive into anything personal at all. Basically just like an extended opening monologue. I still love Ellen, but I didn’t love this. It’s really short though, I listened to it over several hours.

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5 responses to “Good Reads (Mostly)

  1. I also read landline recently and it really annoyed me. The whole time Im like “WHY DOESNT THE GODDAMN FRIEND AND OTHER WRITER JUST FLY TO HIS PARENTS WITH HER AND THEY WORK THERE”. Was this not an option? Drove me insane. and I thought Neal was a bit of a sulky baby too. I didnt like him. Who ignores their wife’s calls for that long because he is mad at her? Youre an adult. Silent treatment is manipulative and childish. argh.

  2. I just read Attachments, too, and LOVED it. All the Y2K (non)frenzy was hilarious to remember. About halfway through, I started getting nervous about the resolution–imagining how he would tell her (or would he not!) and it took serious willpower not to skip ahead! Eleanor & Park is next up for me…

  3. texasmelrose2

    Yay…I cannot wait to read some of these! I am 3/4 of the way through a book that started out good but is now a snoozer. I feel like I am too invested to quit but I want to move on to one of these (and the Theresa Guidice book). So glad you post your reviews here!

  4. Loved Moloka’i too! We just read it for my book club last month. I’ll have to check out some of the others!