Tag Archives: Books

Book Review: The Passage + Waiting For Birdy

February 26, 2015

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If you would have told me a few weeks ago that I’d spend an entire snowy weekend reading a 900 page zombie novel– I would have laughed. I am not that girl. I can hardly watch LOST without nightmares.

But then a great review on a friend’s Goodreads account spiked my interest and here I am, 900 pages later, waiting for the sequel to arrive. What really got me was the post-apocalyptic dystopian appeal, one of my favorite genres, and the challenge of reading something so long. It only took me five days of neglecting my kids, but I did it and really enjoyed losing myself in Cronin’s world.

Today, a review of The Passage by Justin Cronin, and a very opposite book, Waiting For Birdy, a beloved mother’s memoir I recently read again for the third time.

Both equally and oppositely great.

Happy Reading, friends.

PS: All book reviews are spoiler-free.

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1. The Passage.

The Passage

If You’re Looking For: Sci-fi, Fantasy, Thriller, Dystopia With Teeth

If You Like: Tom Clancy, Stephen King, John Steinbeck The Road, Oryx and Crake, Vampires, Zombies

My Review: Full disclosure, Cronin never actually uses the word “zombie,” so I suppose this is not actually a “zombie novel.” In fact, after I finished the book and read reviews, I learned the word vampire might be more accurate. Either way, I’m new here. So bear with me. This is a story about life after a great collapse. Think the story of Noah mixed with some crazy bio-terror. A beautifully written, character driven journey about survival and humanity. Epic, haunting, and surprisingly “quick” for 896 pages. A+ for imagination, depth, and the kind of writing that keeps you turning the page far into the night.

Their Review: “Imagine Michael Crichton crossbreeding Stephen King’s The Stand and Salem’s Lot in that lab at Jurassic Park, with rich infusions of Robert McCammon’s Swan Song, Battlestar Galactica and even Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.”—The Washington Post

Quoted: “So perhaps the greatest worry of all was that one day you would realize that all the worries of your life amounted to one thing: the desire to just stop worrying.”

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2. Waiting For Birdy.

waiting for birdy

If You’re Looking For: Parenting Memoir, Non-fiction, Humor

If You Liked: Operating Instructions

My Review:  Catherine Newman is the kind of person you want to invite to your book club just to trick her into being your best friend. She is funny, irreverent, and cursed with a sappy heart just like the best of us. After my first baby was born, my friend Elizabeth passed this book along to me and I soaked in every word, every little detail and joke. I laughed until I cried, and read paragraphs out loud to anyone who would listen (no one). It is the book I wish I wrote. My very favorite parenting memoir next to Operating Instructions. A must read for the millennial mom.

Their Review: “Catherine Newman’s new book about the rock and roll life of newborn parents is hysterical… Don’t give birth without it.” —Jacquelyn Mitchard

Quoted: “Until it happened to us, I didn’t understand that having a baby would feel like falling in love on a bad acid trip. With an alarm clock–a pooping alarm clock. I wasn’t prepared to lie awake by the sleeping babe, my heart pounding audibly and so swollen with passion that I could barely breathe. I hadn’t realized that my mind would scan constantly for disaster, like a metal detector casting around for the big stuff and turning up endless bottle caps. What is that? Pneumonia? A brain aneurism? Woops, ok, no, just a little cold.”

PS: A few years ago I talked about this book along with a few other great reads in a post called “Books To Read While Your Perineum Is On The Fritz.” Essentially, a list of books for mamas. Just in case you needed a few more mama books while you (or your friend) recovers.

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Favorite Books

Book Review: Station Eleven + Half A Life

January 14, 2015

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A lot of people ask how I have time to read with two young kids. It’s so easy! All you have to do is ignore your dishes, hair, laundry, husband, and children.

I’ve also managed to convince my three-year-old that it is customary to have what I call “Reading Club” once a day while the baby sleeps. We gather pillows and blankets and get comfy on the couch while we read together silently. “Silent” being the most important adjective.

You, too, can have your very own reading club by using your power of manipulation to make this dream come true.

(See also: long bathroom breaks).

Happy reading.

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 1. Station Eleven

Station Eleven

If You’re Looking For: Post apocalyptic drama with a side of (sad) Hollywood

If You Liked: The Road, Oryx and Crake

My Review: Oh dystopian fiction, how I love thee. This book was a delight. A haunting, page-turning, character driven delight. I read it in 48 hours, forgoing the dishes and basic hygiene to read “just one more page.” Moving, human, and tender. The perfect book to read in flu season, award season, and in 2015.

Their Review: “Station Eleven is so compelling, so fearlessly imagined, that I wouldn’t have put it down for anything.” - Ann Patchett

Quoted: “Hell is the absence of the people you long for.”

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2) Half A Life

half a life

If You’re Looking For: Grief Memoir

If You Liked: The Last Lecture, Blue Nights

My Review: There is some sloppy writing here; choppy sentences and one too many unnecessary disclaimers. But the content is truly gripping. The first line, “Half my life ago, I killed a girl,” is the beginning of a story of what happens when you accidentally take a life. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live with a ghost, this book answers those questions. Thought provoking, haunting, and painfully honest. A quick read.

Their Review: “Elegant, painful, stunningly honest . . . huge [and] heartbreaking.”—The New York Times Book Review

Quoted: “I’ve come to see our central nervous system as a kind of vintage switchboard, all thick foam wires and old-fashioned plugs. The circuitry isn’t properly equipped; after a surplus of emotional information the system overloads, the circuit breaks, the board runs dark. That’s what shock is.”

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