Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown

Life wins again, Dear Bloggites. :-/  I finished this book in October when it was the actual Books & Broads Book Club monthly choice, but am just now able to write this review.  The October Book Club book choice was The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James BrownI must admit, I was leery about reading this one because it was yet another book set in WWII and has Hitler as a feature due to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.  Fortunately, I rallied on and found that I loved this book!  My goodness, I was so surprised at what I read in this book because most of the Book Club members did not like this book and a few did not read it (yet).  I did go into this book thinking of it as a story about relationships through hard times thanks to the lovely Alice who enjoyed this book (I believe it was Alice, if not, please do not flog me friends).

Going into the story with the focus on relationships, I had the proper eyes to read this book and see all the amazing things about this story.  Daniel James Brown shared this amazing non-fiction story told from the eyes of one of the key members of the rowing team that fought their way to the Olympics against all odds.  While the author does go into a lot of technical elements of rowing and how the boats are built, I enjoyed reading the information because I am always loving to learn new things about the world around me.

The story focuses on nine young American college boys who joined the college rowing team.  All the boys are from many different walks of life and on different journeys in their lives, but managed to form a bond so tight that it dissolved the differences between them and forged the similarities that affected them throughout their lives.  These young men worked hard to obtain the right to go represent America in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and once there, won the gold medal against Hitler’s massive rowing team.

Throughout the novel, you are taken on an emotional journey of love, fear, joy, hate, and insurmountable dedication to achieve the dreams of these young men – a better life and a gold medal from the Olympics.  The relationships that the author highlighted throughout the novel between the boys and their family and friends, gave an intimate insight into life in the 1930s and how Americans lived during the depression and WWII.

The only fault I found in this book was that there were times that the technical repetition of how to row a boat throughout the book became a little daunting, but I believe it served a purpose to get the reader in the minds of the boys while rowing the boat as a team.  Overall, I loved this book and recommend it to those who love a real life, feel good story.

I give The Boys In The Boat by Daniel James Brown 4 out of 5 Bookmarks! 🙂  Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites!  Smooches!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss

A panda walks into a café.  He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and fires two shots in the air.

“Why?” asked the confused waiter, as the panda makes towards the exit.  The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

“I’m a panda,” he says, at the door, “Look it up.”

The waiter turns to the relevant entry and, sure enough, finds an explanation.

“Panda.  Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China.  Eats, shoots & leaves.”

Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne TrussHi Ho, All!  I am doing a bonus book review, well heck, not really a bonus since I blog on most of the books I read. 😀  As you all know, I am a writer, albeit newbie writer, but a writer nonetheless and am always looking for books that cover the craft of writing and storytelling.

Being a Grammar Nazi, I always get giddy with books over any kind of grammar lessons, and I was nicely surprised when one of my Beautiful Books & Broads Book Club Tribe Monkey Member came up to me and handed me this book stating she immediately thought of me when she read this book.  Between the punctuation lesson and the snarky sarcastic way of the author, Lynn Truss, Darling Janice knew this was a book for me to read.  Thank You, Janice!!!

I was hooked on this book immediately from the first snarky sentence by the author.  I love being reminded of proper punctuation and in this day and age of “Text Speak”, punctuation is a dying art.  The book Eats, Shoots & Leaves, talks about all the standard punctuation marks that are slowly being disregarded in this world of technology where no one questions why their sentence seems off because Word did not tell them there was an issue. 😦

Lynne Truss covers the history of each punctuation she is talking on and provides great examples of how and how not to use each of them.  I was smiling from cover to cover reading this book.  If you are a writer or not, this book will definitely help remind you of how to properly state things in a written work so the meaning is completely clear without a question.

I give Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  It is a definite must have for anyone who knows how to write. 🙂  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: It’ll Be Fine, A True Story by Rebecca Rose

Hello, Dear Bloggites. 🙂  Two reviews in one day…I am on a roll.  This book review was at the request of the Author, Rebecca Rose, via an email from Amazon.com.  As you all know, I love to read and I love to support new, up-and-coming authors.  I gladly accepted this request and it took me a bit longer than planned before I could read this book.  Life, that ol’ bugger, demanded my focus and I am power reading all the books I have on my list now.

itll-be-fine-a-true-story-by-rebecca-roseThis review is on the non-fiction book, It’ll Be Fine, A True Story.  This book is similar to an autobiography/memoir, but is so much more.  This book was about an AMAZING Love Story of two hearts, recognizing their counter-point, yearning to unite as one.  Not only is this a wonderful love story, it is a wonderful story of a woman working on reaching the next level of her.

The story is about a girl, trudging through life, living the materialistic world of “being the best” and “making the most” at her job yet failing at finding the balance of life and work.  Throughout the book, the reader is taken on the journey that the author herself lived.  Unlike most autobiographies/memoirs, this book read like a fictional love story that has all the elements of a wonderful book: love, challenges, disappointments, loss, and hope.

It is a factual story about finding inner peace and the struggle that happens to some before inner peace is found.  The people in the novel are relatable for any reader and the story itself gives the reader hope and encouragement for their life and the situations they are facing.  The format of the story was a timeline format so you do not have the bouncing back and forth of times like so many books are written today.  The author did not sugar-coat anything about herself or the other people involved in the story.  She literally has held her arms out, hands open, saying, “This is me, all my ugly and beauty, here for you to witness.  Be gentle.”

Every writer puts something of themselves in every story they share with the world; this makes them very vulnerable.  Writing about a real life event in her life, Rebecca Rose, willingly exposed more of herself than that of a fiction writer.  The author is a very brave person to write about something so raw and life changing and I applaud her for it.  Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing your life with me and the rest of the world. 🙂

If you want to read a true, life inspiring story, visit Rebecca at her website and learn more about the author and order your copy of It’ll Be Fine today. 🙂

I give It’ll Be Fine, A True Story by Rebecca Rose 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Get ready to have your life changed for the better, Dear Bloggites, once you start reading.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Writing Day In And Day Out by Andi Cumbo-Floyd

writing-day-in-and-day-out-by-andi-cumbo-floydHello, Dear Bloggites. 🙂  My book review is on a topic near and dear to my heart – Writing.  Doubly so, the author, Andi Cumbo-Floyd, is also near and dear to my heart.  I have followed her newsletters, website, and books for a while now because she has an amazing ability to break down the most difficult aspects of writing into understandable explanations while uplifting your whole soul. 🙂

In the book, Writing Day In And Day Out, Andi talks about making sure to be true to yourself while writing.  So many people who are writers tend to get so focused on getting to the end of that novel, short story, poem, etc. that they being to neglect themselves in the process.  In order for a writer to produce their best work, they need to be sure to take care of themselves.  Andi Cumbo-Floyd breaks down different techniques that will help a writer refocus their energies while caring for their needs.

The book is written in a format the focuses on a specific topic per chapter.  Within each chapter, the author gives examples of how a writer may refresh their minds with certain simple to follow suggestions.  Also, in each chapter, the author shares her own journey and challenges along the writing path of life.  The reader can tell that the author truly experienced the challenges shared and how the techniques helped her overcome said challenges.

The writing style was not only a learning style but it also felt that you were just having an everyday conversation with a close friend.  For the writers who not only like to read books on writing techniques, but also would like suggestions on other books to read on the trade, Andi provides a list of her favorite reference books as well as other books and sites that are specifically on the topic of writing.

I give Writing Day In And Day Out by Andi Cumbo-Floyd 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  It is a must read for all writers, from novice to experienced.  Go get a copy, you won’t be disappointed.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Living In Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders

living-in-italy-the-real-deal-by-stef-smuldersIf you have not figured it out yet, I love ALL things Italian and it is not just because I am Italian…LOL  I was once again honored by an author, Stef Smulders, asking me if I would mind reading his book Living In Italy: The Real Deal and providing a review for it.  After I stopped jumping up and down, I emailed him back and said I would love to read and review his book.  The author sent me a free copy of the book, so here is my review, Dear Bloggites.

This book is about the author and his husband Nico’s exploits when they transplant their Dutch selves to Italy in order to open a bed & breakfast called Villa “I Due Padroni” and as soon as I opened this book and began reading, I could not put it down!  Oh, my goodness, Stef Smulders is a very talented and snarky author that I felt was a kindred spirit to me and my snarky self!

The challenges faced by Stef and Nico and all the Italians they came into contact with in order to see their dream become a reality made my heart go out to them, but not in a “ooh, I feel so sorry for them” kind of way, but more of a “I love how they handled their challenges and still found humor in it” kind of way.  The book gives a wonderful background on what brought the duo to Italy and how that temporary stay became a full on dream of living there permanently.

The author, Stef Smulders, gave me a copy of the English version of the book.  He has already released it in his home language and (I believe) in Italian and now they are sharing it as an English version for all to enjoy.  One of my bucket list items is to go visit my ancestral homeland of Italy in 2020 and I now have a definite stop and stay on my list, Stef and Nico’s Bed & Breakfast!

The book was written in a very conversational tone and throughout the book, the author added in different Italian phases or words with the description of what it meant without breaking the conversational flow of the book.  One of the greatest things I was pleasantly surprised about was that at the back of the book there was an entire glossary of all the Italian words used in the book and what they meant in English.  It gave me such a new drive to start learning Italian for my future trip.

The only fault I would find in the book was some of the translation aspects added an ‘s’ on the end of some words that were not needed and it ended too soon for my liking. 🙂  I was so invested in this book that I feel I know Stef and Nico and their wonderful dog, Saar.  I hope when I make my trip to Italy, I will enter my ancestral homeland with two friends ready to greet me.

I give Living In Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders 5 out of 5 Bookmarks!  Thank You, Stef and Nico, for entrusting me with the honor of reading and review your book.  I hope I did it justice.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: First Women: The Grace And Power Of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower

“…all Bushes love the Johnsons.” ~ Barbara Bush in a 1998 letter to Lady Bird Johnson

first-women-the-grace-and-power-of-americas-modern-first-ladies-by-kate-andersen-browerIt has been a while since I posted a blog, Dear Bloggites, and for that I am sincerely sorry.  This book review is over the October book choice for the Books & Broads Book Club.  The book I am going to review is First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower.  Man is that a mouthful to say, as well as, type! 🙂

I was pleasantly surprised that this book was an interesting read.  I was worried the writer would skew their writing to support their political viewpoint, but it was really written in a matter of fact way where the information was given in concise statements without any lean toward one side or the other.

The book covered ten first ladies from Kennedy to Obama and how their rare membership to the elite club of First Ladies has forged friendships that bypassed any political standings.  I enjoyed reading excerpts from various letters or statements made between the first women in the transition of outgoing to incoming Presidents and the support system given throughout each other’s time in the office as well as after their time in the office.

The first 3/4ths of the book, was an easy read, but the last 1/4th was a beating to get through.  Once I reached this point, I was re-reading stories that were already covered earlier in the book and it became annoying.  I fault this on the editors as well as the author, Kate Andersen Brower, for not cleaning up the book better.  I understand that the stories may fit into various categories (which is how the book was broken up) but after the third or fourth time of reading the same story, it killed my interest in going on with the story.

The setup of the book was rather confusing until you realized the title for each chapter was the subject being given in the various relationships such as the chapter titled The Good Wife covered the different first ladies and how they handled being married to the President of the United States.  The reader is confused at the jumping back and forth between the ladies until you realize it was connected to the title and not in chronological order of each President’s term in office.

Overall, I enjoyed the book until the final chapters which is really bad because I truly enjoyed the relationships between the ladies without the feeling of the author gossiping about anyone.  I just wished they would have edited the book better in the end and compiled the stories in a better format.

I give First Women: The Grace and Power of America’s Modern First Ladies by Kate Andersen Brower 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you like politics and the inner workings, this book is probably for you.

 

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Tribe by Sebastian Junger

Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.  It’s time for that to change. ~Sebastian Junger

This quote above pretty much sums up the purpose of the book I am going to review.  Tribe (On Homecoming and Belonging) by Sebastian Junger is about how our society lives in an individualistic mindset which has caused many of the divides in America today.  Tribe compares the mindset of several American Indian tribes and their social infrastructure that is based on an egalitarian system.  The author also compares the mindset of soldiers who are in the midst of war and their mindset which reflects that of the America Indians and how this mindset makes it hard for Veterans who are back from the war trying to fit into the individualistic mindset of today’s current society.

tribe-by-sebastian-jungerI had never heard of this book until one of the Awesome Books & Broads Book Club friend came to me and showed me the book saying she thought of me when she saw the title because I always reference the Books & Broads Book Club Members as My Tribe, the ones who get me, warts and all, but still accept me into their fold.  I asked her if I could read the book and return it back to her at our next meeting and she agreed to let me borrow it, and man am I so glad!  As all of you know, Dear Bloggites, I come from a family of military that reaches back many generations, so I have a soft spot for Veterans and their plight of trying to fit in once their tour is over.

Sebastian Junger’s book, Tribe, talks about how the world has changed and evolved over the years and while technology and all the current information we have access to is good for the economy, it hurts the unified mindset that founded this country.  People used to live to help care for each other and worked to ensure all members of society are taken care of from the youngest to the oldest and all other walks of life in between.  But with the growing economy and knowledge, people’s views turn from the care of others to the care of themselves and so the separation begins thus causing a divide within the society we have worked so hard to create.

Tribe discusses the habits and mindset of the American Indians and the history of early America and how the mindset has changed and warped into the current “me” society we see.  Sebastian Junger discusses the mindset of the military soldiers that are fighting war first hand and how their mindset is much like the America Indians where the belief is everyone receives equal parts and everyone gives to the members by doing their fair share of the work to ensure all members return and none are lost.   Junger also touches on how Veterans have a hard time leaving war from the mindset of we are all equal parts in this world to return to society and it’s mindset of we are all individuals who only take care of ourselves and no one else.  This lack of feeling useful for the Veterans tend to cause any form of PTSD to feel worse because of their need to feel useful in a world that seems to have no use for them anymore.

I really enjoyed reading this book and it made me want to do my part in helping to integrate Veterans back into society by hearing their stories while at war and helping make them feel like they are needed still even though their tour is over.  Everyone wants to feel needed and when our need is not met, we flounder and feel less of a person than we would if we were providing a use to the world around us.  I am currently going through this with the loss of my Father, a Vietnam Vet, who just past a couple of months back.  I was by his side being useful every day practically 24-hours and at the end, 24-hours a day until he passed away.  Now I am floundering trying to find my way again because my life and world was put on hold, willingly and gratefully, to be there for my Dad and care for him.  This book touched my very core and I feel so much better after reading it because it gave me a call to action to do something to help fill the void of my life, a void that was left when my Dad passed on.

I give Tribe by Sebastian Junger 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Go read a copy, it will change your world for the better after you do! 🙂

~4-Ever, P