Monday, August 6, 2012

100 Book Challenge Week 20

It's been a while since I posted my reviews. I've still been reading (not as much as I needed to, I'm on a major catch-up right now), but not posting. However, I'm running out of time before the challenge ends, so I'll be posting over several days in the next few weeks.


Book Review #39: I Don't Know How She Does It
Author: Allison Pearson
Blurb: Delightfully smart and heartbreakingly poignant, Allison Pearson’s smash debut novel has exploded onto bestseller lists as “The national anthem for working mothers.” Hedge-fund manager, wife, and mother of two, Kate Reddy manages to juggle nine currencies in five time zones and keep in step with the Teletubbies. But when she finds herself awake at 1:37 a.m. in a panic over the need to produce a homemade pie for her daughter’s school, she has to admit her life has become unrecognizable. With panache, wisdom, and uproarious wit, I Don’t Know How She Does It brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of every working mom.

Review:  Himself doesn’t understand how, or more importantly why, I read multiple books simultaneously. There’s the book I’m currently captivated by, the one downstairs that I can pick up when the TV’s boring, the other one downstairs that I read when the TV’s not boring, but not busy enough to hold my entire attention, the one in the office for the odd occasions I actually take a lunch break, the self-help book (God knows I need it) and the self-improvement book, because moving forward is better than stagnating. If you open books at random on my Kindle, you will find a bunch that I have begun, some barely started, others mid-way, a few nearly finished. (I generally push to finish a book when I get to the 90% mark, so there’ll only be one or two near the end.) Sometimes I’ll have books stashed in my car, or my tote.

Why do I mention this?

Because it makes me think it’s the same lunacy of necessity practiced by the lead character, Kate, in her quest to be the perfect career woman, mother, wife and person. Her desperate fraud, and even greater desperation not to be unveiled as such, married with her guilt at not being the person she so badly wanted to be, resonated with hundreds of women around the world. The sense of running wildly and realizing that the reason you’re not getting anywhere is because you’re on a treadmill resonated with me.

No matter how far we run, or how fast, we take us with us.

The statement that stood out to me most in this book was “Trying to be a man is a waste of a woman!” Terrific. True. Totally ignored by everyone. We’re all comparing ourselves to men, trying to be a better one, whether we’re male or female. The woman who jokes “of course God is a male” is ruefully acknowledging that the odds are weighed against women. Always has been, probably always will be.

Someone asked me once: “is that what you want to do, or what you want to want to do?” I think that Kate realized, in the end, that she had to work out the answer to that question.

As do we all.

Book Review #40: Kindness Goes Unpunished: A Walt Longmire Mystery (Walt Longmire Mysteries) (Walt Longmire Book 3)
Author: Craig Johnson
Blurb: New York Times bestselling author Craig Johnson's mystery series - starring Walt Longmire, the straight-shooting sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming - is attracting more and more fans with its distinctive blend of humor and action. In Kindness Goes Unpunished, Walt's pleasure trip to Philadelphia to visit his daughter, Cady, turns into a nightmare when she is the victim of a vicious attack that leaves her near death. Walt is forced to unpack his saddlebag of tricks to mete out some Western-style justice, and the result is another action-packed thriller from this up-and- coming star of crime fiction.

Review:  This guy reminds me of Angela Lansbury, the dame from Murder She Wrote: everywhere he goes there’s a dead body or two (or three). I’ve changed my mind about living in his town, I wanna go somewhere safer! LOL.

Johnson obviously knows and loves his country, and has an in-depth knowledge of Native Americans and their culture and customs. He mocks incessantly the PC habit of calling Indians “Native Americans” and says that they are as wryly amused by the term as much as he. I don’t know any Indians or Native Americans, so couldn’t tell you if he’s right, but he does have some good points.

The story is, as usual, excellently told and unfolds with great pace. There’s a lot of Indian/Native American references here, and I felt almost like this was a “bible-punching” session, exchanging “bible” for “Indian”. It didn’t detract from the story any, but the idea did nag at the back of my mind.

An interesting side effect of reading these books is that I’ve started looking up the areas he writes about. I’ve read up on Wyoming and Philly, because he writes about these places so well I feel the need to know more about them, and even the desire to go visit there sometime.

Now, that’s some talent. While I regularly look up new words in a dictionary, it’s rare for me to research a location. Well done, Mr. Johnson! I want to write like you one day.

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