Monday, July 25, 2011

Something Blue

by Emily Giffin

It is very rare to find a book that somehow transforms the previous antagonist into a heroine that the reader can root for. Emily Giffin manages to accomplish just that in her sequel to Something Borrowed. This time the reader follows Darcy as she stumbles through her relationships and finally finds her own happy ending. I will say that it takes the book a little while to get going, but once she finally makes her way to England the reader starts to see some real progress. What I enjoyed about her character transformation, was that it was believable to me. Instead of changing her character 180 degrees, she makes slight modifications that make a big difference in her outlook. Darcy's little quirks and mental side comments keep the character changes in line with what we already know about her. I did not LOVE this book, but I certainly did LIKE it, more than the first book Something Borrowed. If you are a fan of Giffin's work, I think you will too.

Summer at Seaside Cove

by Jacquie D'Alessandro

Are you looking for a quick, entertaining summertime read? Then this is the book for you! My eldest sister Jess recommended this to me on my vacation. I will admit that I was doubtful that it could possibly be as hilarious as she insisted, especially after reading the incredibly cheesy description (and yes, I do judge a book by it's cover). I am happy to say though, that I was quickly proved wrong! This book was filled with humor, romance, and as my sister said, a believable obstacle that the couple must overcome. In many romance novels, they face kidnapping, imprisonment and a variety of other unbelievable challenges. In Summer at Seaside Cove though, they main couple must overcome their painful past relationships and the distance between them. All in all, a great summer read. I am definitely interested in reading the follow up book that will be coming out in the series.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

And the year's half gone...

Well, it is officially July and a few days ago we passed the halfway mark for the year! This time has gone by quickly, but I have managed to stay on top of my goal. In fact, I am actually ahead of schedule! Phew! I have a feeling as the holidays start rolling around, my production speed may decrease. Which is why I plan on taking full advantage of my upcoming vacation next week, and reading as much as possible between the hiking, fishing, and horseback riding. Don't you worry, faithful reader - I will meet, if not surpass, my goal of 40 books this year! I am starting to get down toward the end of my little pile of books to read though... so feel free to lend me a book or offer another suggestion for my future reading endeavors.

Signing off for a week now, but I'll be back soon with a stack of hopefully positive book reviews for you!

Better: A Surgeon's Notes on Performance

by Atul Gawande

If you told me that I would enjoy a book written by a surgeon, I would probably snicker a little bit when you turned away. I read surgeon's notes every day at work - they are dry, incredibly over-descriptive, and not all that mind-consuming, honestly. But my sister gave me two of Gawande's works, and after reading the first (Complications), I was hooked. Better is a book that focuses on improvement, on moving forward, and how best to do it. As someone in the medical world, I found it very interesting and applicable to my work. But Gawande gives examples and suggestions that can apply to everyone in any field or life-stage. His use of real-life case studies makes the possibly dry topic of improvement actually engaging. He writes using interesting case studies to demonstrate his points, including: infections and handwashing, vaccinations in the third world, military medical care in the field, ethical decisions and malpractice, cystic fibrosis, and childbirth... to mention a few. He advocates being open to change, always looking for areas in which you can grow and improve in your practice and as a human being. For example, one point that has really stuck with me since reading this is his section on "diligence". In my profession as a nurse, there are many little seemingly minor actions and procedures that we must follow a million times a day. But every little action contributes to the well-being of my patients, I must be diligent in my practice. I also must be diligent in my life, to work hard to accomplish the tasks I have undertaken, to be persistent. Gawande has seen and learned so much, through his writing I feel that he must be one of the most interesting men alive. The book really is not so much about only improving the medical practice, but improving as humans. Gawande has a great deal of insight to offer, and I would happily give either of his books to any friend of mine, regardless of their interest in medical affairs/cases. I think we can all find something to learn from in his works.

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

This is a book that I have been meaning to pick up for a while.... but nothing gets me motivated like seeing a preview for the movie version. If you are a "reader", then you know that you MUST read a book before seeing the movie version or it will be ruined for you. So I borrowed a hardback copy, opened up the pages, and felt myself being completely sucked in. I was worried that Stockett's book would skirt around the real issues, or address them in a condescending way, but she very artfully describes the complex relationships between black and white women in the south during the mid century. She mixes light and humor with impossibly dark and painful situations. Every few chapters, the book changes focus to one of the three main female character - Skeeter (the young white woman who wants to write about the real world of "the help"), Aibileen (the one who believes that change is possible and agrees to help Skeeter, despite great personal risk), and Minnie (the comic relief, but also the one with some of the greatest insight into the life of the "help" and black women in the South). While reading, I came to love aspects of each of these characters, but none more so than Minnie. She has an anger for her situation in life, an interesting relationship with the woman she comes to work for, and an underlying compassion that drives her to help those around her. The book is beautifully written and gracefully handles a complex subject that I think many of us would like to deny ever happened/happens. Pick up your own copy before you head to the movie theater this summer.