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Recovery

I am recovering from my surgery. The first few days were hard, I have been unable to sleep in my own bed and once I thought I was feeling better, I had my stitches out and given another knee brace which brings about a new discomfort that I wasn’t expecting. So I wasn’t feeling up to writing. But here I am now.

I haven’t been reading as much as I thought I would be, somehow the pull of the television and the appeal of mindless entertainment has caught my attention, but I have a few books to review and I am nearly finished with listening to Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner which I am really enjoying.

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Surgery Tomorrow

I am scheduled for my knee surgery tomorrow. I was suppose to have it today, but there was some mix ups with scheduling so instead tomorrow is the big day.

Yesterday I was pretty anxious, especially as the day went on and I didn’t get a call about what time. Finally at 9p I called, then again at 11p but they still had no time for me. I then was directed to call at 7a and then 8a and finally at 8a I was able to get everything arranged. So today was spent between phone calls, watching tv and napping off and on.

I’m going to try to relax and get some sleep tonight.

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Short Reviews

Since I fell so far behind in reviews these last couple of weeks, I am going to play a little catch up and write quick reviews for the books in my backlog.

A Long Way Home

Enjoyable memoir about an adopted man finding his family after he became lost in his home country of India. It was crazy how he was able to track them down, being that for the longest time he had very limited memory of where he grew up. The movie Lion is based off on the memoir and they are both worth checking out.

My Name Is Venus Black

This debut novel was very enjoyable. I thought the ending was kind of weak, but overall this kept me completely engaged and I hope to see more fiction from Heather Lloyd in the future.

The Sun Down Motel

I listened to the audio of this and I cannot say enough good things about it. This was one of those thrillers that keep you on your toes until the very end. I’m still finding my way around audiobooks, but its a safe bet to see this is my favorite genre to listen to in audio form.

Commonwealth

This was a disappointment. I loved Bel Canto, I read it years ago but I still remember having an almost religious experience reading it. Something about the writing gripped me in a way that completely took me out of myself and since then I have been chasing that feeling. Sadly Commonwealth very nearly ended up a TBR for me but I managed to get through by skimming a few times.

In Her Shoes

This was a reread for me and I am really happy that this stood up to the passage of time. I originally read it in my early 20’s and although I am nearly a decade older than Rose, I still loved Rose and Maggie and was glad to see that my fond memories of this story were still the same.

Bird Box

I finished this at 5am this morning (I have been having a lot of sleep issues since my accident). This was a fast and exciting read. I didn’t mind the movie that much, but this book was definitely better, especially because it was a lot more to the point from the movie.

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Housework, if you do it right, can kill you. —Erma Bombeck

So last Saturday when I was at work I was carrying a big load of laundry up stairs. Got to the very top of the steps, lost my grip on the basket, stepped backwards and next thing I knew I was laying at the midway landing between the two floors. Somehow the super important parts of my body (head/neck) were unscathed but the bulk of the trauma was to my right knee. I managed to sit up but as soon as I tried to move my leg I knew I was screwed. I yelled for my coworker and he called 911.

Warning: This next bit is probably not for the squimish. I am writing it in white text so if you want to read it, just highlight the following paragraph.

When the paramedics got there they tried to get me to stand and as soon as they helped stand me up any any hope I had left completely died. As soon as I put the most minute weight on my leg I felt a pop and yelled out “that frigging hurts!”. So after that the paramedics realized I was NOT going anywhere on my own accord.

The ride to the hospital and the ER itself was pretty lowkey. I had an xray and cat scan done, I was put in a temporary splint and sent home with instructions to follow up with an orthopedic surgeon.

Almost a week after my tumble, I finally was able to get seen by ortho. They took one look at my films and was told that I need surgery on my knee ASAP, so this time on Monday I should have the surgery behind me and a brand new set of hardware in my knee. After that my recovery will span three to six months. During that time I will be non weight-bearing so it’s going to be a long time before I am able to get back to work, if I’m able to go back.

Over the weekend I’m going to try to do a quick review of the backlog of books I have yet to review on here. If there’s one silver lining of this whole thing is that because I can’t do much else, I am getting lots of reading done. I’m also doing a fair amount of tv watching (so if anyone has suggestions for Netflix or HBO Max I am here for it, but I’m definitely looking forward to making a healthy dent on my bookshelf.

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Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb

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Growing up in Beverly Hills in the 1970s, Lori Gottlieb learned the lessons her culture had to teach her—for example, that “no one could ever like a girl with thunder thighs.” Lori took those lessons seriously, and saw her world fall slowly apart as she developed a fierce reluctance to eat—winding up hospitalized when her “diet” took over her life. Fortunately, she recorded the journey in her diary, and her story is funny, slyly insightful, and surprisingly universal. A Los Angeles Times bestseller, Lori’s story is being made into a motion picture film by Martin Scorsese’s company, Carpo Productions. 

This memoir was written from Lori Gottlieb’s old diary entries when she was just a preteen. When I first realized this, I thought that it would feel juvenile, but the opposite was the case. Although there was the expected insights about school, peers (especially the “mean girls” and her family but the insights in this book surprised me.

Lori spends a lot of time observing the people around her, especially the women in her life. In the late 70’s, diet culture was huge and Lori observed her mother, her friend’s and their mother’s in their relationship with food. Over and over again she saw how women saw food as the enemy. The women in her life almost always showed some type of disordered eating so it was easy to see why Lori at first became interested in those behaviors and as an overachiever, taking the behavior to the extreme.

This was a short book, just over 200 pages, but I took my time reading it as there was a lot to process. I understand all to well what it’s like to grow up in a household where I was privy to disordered eating (though, of a different type) and it made me realize just how much kids observe. I hope I remember this as my daughter gets older and it’s super important for her to be surrounded by body positivity.

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I Can Breath

I am back. I took some unexpected time away because I started feeling overwhelmed with the election. Now that the results are finally in, I am feeling better and I feel like I can breath again. I know that the results are not a fix all, but at least one thing is starting to look a little bit better.

I am not going to attempt to catch up with the backlog of books to write reviews for. Tomorrow I will start up again with Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb that I just finished. After that, who knows what happens, but that’s what I’m excited about. No more pre-writing and pre-planning posts. No more putting me on a schedule where I force myself to write reviews that feel half-hearted.

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I have a few books still left to review, but one of the books I recently read gave me some inspiration for another project so I spent most of this afternoon/evening working on that. Plus the toddler wasn’t feeling well this morning so I was busy taking care of her…which consisted mostly of laying in bed until she felt better.

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My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

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2000. Bright, ambitious, and yearning for adulthood, fifteen-year-old Vanessa Wye becomes entangled in an affair with Jacob Strane, her magnetic and guileful forty-two-year-old English teacher.

2017. Amid the rising wave of allegations against powerful men, a reckoning is coming due. Strane has been accused of sexual abuse by a former student, who reaches out to Vanessa, and now Vanessa suddenly finds herself facing an impossible choice: remain silent, firm in the belief that her teenage self willingly engaged in this relationship, or redefine herself and the events of her past. But how can Vanessa reject her first love, the man who fundamentally transformed her and has been a persistent presence in her life? Is it possible that the man she loved as a teenager—and who professed to worship only her—may be far different from what she has always believed?

Alternating between Vanessa’s present and her past, My Dark Vanessa juxtaposes memory and trauma with the breathless excitement of a teenage girl discovering the power her own body can wield. Thought-provoking and impossible to put down, this is a masterful portrayal of troubled adolescence and its repercussions that raises vital questions about agency, consent, complicity, and victimhood. Written with the haunting intimacy of The Girls and the creeping intensity of RoomMy Dark Vanessa is an era-defining novel that brilliantly captures and reflects the shifting cultural mores transforming our relationships and society itself.

I listened to the audio version of this book, and it was split into two different listening sessions as I didn’t get through the book on the first borrow cycle (only a week). So things were a little lost between the two sessions.

This was one of those books that is really hard to listen to. The subject is very heavy and very disturbing and honestly, I was surprised I was able to get through it. I think the only thing that was getting me through was the fact that I wanted to make sure Vanessa turned out okay at the end.

I am conflicted about my thoughts on this book. On one hand, I appreciated the writing and how it drew me into the story and kept me listening even though I was so uncomfortable. At the same time though, I just didn’t like listening to this. I spend way too much time listening to true crime podcasts, often episodes that are stressful to listen to but this book was so much worse. I think it’s because I didn’t like any of the characters. Obviously Strain was not someone to like, but at the same time, Vanessa was just as unlikable a lot of the time. I absolutely hate to admit it but I had a hard time not to judge Vanessa.

I gave the book four stars as I can’t help but admire how the author was able to create Vanessa and her world in a way that challenges the reader to keep holding on until the end. it’s not easy to create a story that is so stressful and uncomfortable but keep the reader engaged until the end.

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Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

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One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward's story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery--one that will lead him to the answers of some of life's most profound questions: When you've lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.

This was a good, but not great book. I liked the plot, I found it unique and emotional in the right ways. I enjoyed the flawed characters. Edward wasn’t written as some perfect child that is sweet and innocent. The way he was written made him feel like a real person with real emotions.

The things I didn’t like was the introduction of the people who died on the flight and the flashbacks to those characters on this flight. I knew it was done as a way to connect the tragedy and miracle of Edward’s survival but aside from Edward’s immediately family, none of those characters were interesting enough for me to look forward to those flashback scenes.

I can see how this is such a popular book and definitely worth the four star rating I gave it.