Review (revisted): I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb

20131210-215528.jpgIf you live under a rock and don’t know who Malala is please read this book. If you know and have no interest because you don’t wish to hurdle into a group based on her religion or nationality, read this book. If you have little hope for the future of humanity, again, read this book. Finally, if you’re aware of who Malala is and commend her for all that she has done, if you think you grasp most of the facts, please, take a moment and at least read the epilogue. I learnt a lot from this read. I learnt more about the politics of Malala’s country then I have reading several more famous books. Every bit helps in my understanding of the complexity of these countries. Especially hard to do when you’re like me, and lucky to be born into a country that has a stable government. Where it is safe to walk the streets unescorted. Where a girl can walk without fear whilst holding a book in public. Where a woman can walk into any hospital unescorted and be treated for injuries. Malala and millions of other women have not been so lucky. However, Malala, even as young as she is, has a passion for politics and understands them…she is even, at times, able to manipulate those political unrests and bend them to her favour. She is also young enough to be frank about politics and to be sensible about them. She is not trying to bend or mould them into something to ensure her own political gain. It’s so much easier to see things when the speaker is not trying to manipulate the story to cover their own agendas. Malala is honest and upfront with her desires. A world where we are all equal, educated, and free to follow our own heart’s calling….

The epilogue is a true bright and shiny gem. It sums up the changes and challenges she and her family now face. It sums up her belief system and her love for her country. As well as why she can’t go back. But mostly, I hope that you can see the young woman who has sacrificed so much and asked for so little. Sacrifices I dare say that no one reading this review (myself included) would ever be brave enough to make…and she does it with such grace to make it look like it wasn’t a sacrifice at all, but an honour. She might be a noble peace prize winner…but first and foremost, she is a young girl, a daughter, a silly girl with silly friends, a student, a misfit, a nerd, a Muslim….first and foremost, she is just like any of us…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now I Am Malala

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Review: American Sniper by Chris Kyle

11887020I could go all on about how America needs people like Chris Kyle. Yea, I reckon they do. Without people such as Kyle, the world wouldn’t go ’round. My little bit of experience with the military reinforces what I felt about this book. Certain individuals are born for military service and the military is quick to see who they are. They are also quick to *train* them further for their needs.

But, hey ho, I said I wasn’t going to go there….

Why did I hate this book? I, personally, didn’t believe a word Kyle said. Yes, I believe the stories. But I somehow doubt his genuine feelings for his family, his country, and most of all, his modesty. Every single time (okay, maybe only AFTER the first half-dozen times he stated it) he said it was luck and not skill that earned him the title, I felt like he was SCREAMING, “I have to say that, but we all know I’m the BEST.” I just found his entire attitude judgmental (whether or not it was about his wife, his fellow comrades, or the civilians he was sworn to help). I felt he thought his was the most important viewpoint and no one else’s was valid. Even when he spoke of past war combats, he stated that they really didn’t understand what it was like for him. This might be true…but nor does he understand what it was like for them. There could possibly be more than one way to win a war, and certainly more than one objective. Kyle was trained for one aspect of that, and trained well, and he did well at his job….However, that doesn’t mean he’s above those others that trained in different areas and did their absolute best to back him and to do their job, no matter how lacking the conditions might have proved to be for them…

I don’t think Kyle won the war all by himself, no matter how much he might think he did…

Again, sorry for those that loved the book…I might have felt different it was told by someone else…however, there just wasn’t room for any love for me in this one…his ego kept getting in the way…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now American Sniper by Chris Kyle

Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

engulfedMaybe it’s because I’ve heard him so often on BBC radio…but whatever the reason, Mr Sedaris is seriously growing on me. I loved this one! It’s the 3rd book I’ve read/listened to by him. Having him read the books so adds to the experience! I admit, after the first book (MTPOD) I wasn’t sure I was a fan….but after this one, I most definitely am! So funny and brutally honest! I would have to say, having DS as a close friend would be both exhausting and exhilarating! Did I mention how much I love this guy now?

I must warn you though, don’t read a DS book unless you are willing to hear random things that just pop into his head. They are not always appropriate. He dares to say what others only think….He makes no apologizes for who he is….and he doesn’t believe in political correctness when it comes to being an arse. If you are an arse he will not hesitate to tell you exactly that. If you are a such a complete moron, he will not hesitate to tell you and to ask you, LOUDLY, just how it is you manage to tie your shoes each morning…

If you can’t laugh at yourself, don’t bother picking up this book. If you’re offended easily, again, perhaps you should pass this one by…but if you understand sarcasm…and if you sometimes wish you had the courage to say exactly what everyone is thinking but too afraid to voice it aloud…well go on…pick it up….not only will DS be happy to voice it for you…he’ll do so in a very loud voice and have you laughing for more….He would be hard pressed to like, except for the fact that he is usually laughing at himself the most…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it nowWhen You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Review: Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

*1Well, since Thanksgiving is tomorrow (although being in the United Kingdom now we don’t celebrate this one :-/ ) and since this is a novel about a food blogger…and well….I am a kinda sorta blogger myself….I reckoned it was a good idea to post this review now….

If you check out the reviews for this book they are all over the place….I reckon this means that you either love this book or you hate it…Well, not me…I really enjoyed it….I didn’t love it…but in no way did I hate it….I thought it was charming. Julie was bit of a drama queen, but I loved her. I understand her sarcasm perfectly! It started as a blog and of course if you read any blogs you can understand how witty, engaging and entertaining her blog must have been. This is a movie that I have actually seen for once and I thought the movie and the book went along quite well together. Amy Adams was a perfect fit for the role and I had no problem imagining her as I read this book. If you’ve ever wanted to start out to do something fun and it rolled into something that totally stressed you out and encompassed your entire life…yet you were too stubborn to back down and throw in the towel…or you cared too much…..If you became so obsessed with it that you sometimes forget the other “going ons” in the *real* world….well this is a book you can relate to….I laughed out loud at times and I totally cringed at other times….and I sincerely felt her frustration and the “I’M. AT. THE. END. OF. MY. ROPE. AND. I. JUST. WANT. TO. LAY. DOWN. AND. CRY. PLEASE. DON’T. TALK. TO. ME. FOR. AT. LEAST. 5. DAYS. I. CAN’T. BE. BOTHERED”…..

If the book lets you down at points, well one must only remember that this started as a blog and with momentum and life it rolled into a movie and a book….If it had started out as a book, then turned into a movie and then finished with a blog, well it would have been written in a totally different style I think….

This book gives me hope that it’s true…we all have a book in us just waiting to be written down….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

Review: Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

NPHHave never really been a fan of NPH…but that’s only because I’ve never really watched him and I am not one to follow celebrity gossip. I had no clue he was married and had children. I barely knew he was gay to be perfectly honest…..NO…..my home is not under a rock on the moon!

Now that I have made my disclaimer, I will say, I really enjoyed this book. It was a pretty quick read. I loved the “choose your own ending” type of books….and this was no exception…haha….really, he did a brilliant job with that. It could have been a complete disaster. But really, isn’t that how his whole life (up to this point) story goes? There are so many different events that NPH has been though that many others would have handled differently….I think many of his choices could have ended in complete disaster. However, he seems to meet them head on and always seems to come out the other side, if not gleaming, well….at least confident that he made the correct choice for HIM….that’s perhaps what makes him so attractive and successful. He doesn’t seem to bend to the rules (even whilst he is, indeed, bending to the rules). He is confident, even in his uncertainty…

He is refreshing in his honesty. He doesn’t make apologies. He doesn’t try to back-step and cover up any wrong mistakes. He stands a bit straighter, throws back his shoulders, brushes off any lint, and steps fully into the spotlight and proclaims, “here I am”. He doesn’t seek the spotlight and demand everything be about him….but damnit, he won’t back down and he’s not afraid to make his feelings heard in a very loud and unquestionable way. I have to admire that. Here we have a guy that should be worried about his personal image. It’s how he makes his living. But his take it or leave it, I am who I am is what is so utterly refreshing about him. He leaves no doubt that if push comes to shove, the fame and hollywood image is nothing he is not willing to sacrifice for love of his family.

Yes, it took him a long time to get there. I imagine it was never easy for him. But unlike many childhood actors, he seems to have kept on a somewhat straight (haha…see what I did there?) path to get to where he is. He didn’t crash and burn. He didn’t use his success as an excuse to make poor decisions. Now that he knows who he is, he makes no apologies and remains true to himself. That is sometimes very hard for anyone to do….let alone someone who is so securely in the public spotlight….Bravo, NPH….I might not have been a massive fan before, but I sure am now…..well done you….

Until next time…..

Urania xx

Buy it now Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography by Neil Patrick Harris

Review copy provided by Edelweiss for an honest review

Review: What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

*1So weird…this of course was real life vs Murakami’s imagination. I absolutely love how this man can stump me on one single sentence for minutes at a time…I just read them over and over again….this book was not like that….it was pretty straight and to the point….with most of his books I give them 4 stars right off the bat and then go back a month later and bump it up to 5 because, honestly, it sometimes takes me that long to fully appreciate him….yes, a month later, I still often think of the latest Murakami book I have read. It’s true…for me, his words become part of me…they seep into my very bone marrow…but for whatever reason, this one got 5 stars right off the bat….why? I am not sure…I just know it deserves it….stupid reason, but there you have it…and really, who knew he could run 60 plus miles in a single day? Who knew he has more albums than I have books? But most of all, I felt a real connection to him after reading this book. I don’t write. When I write down my thoughts they start to consume me. I lose control. It is a very scary thing for me. It’s why I avoid it when I can…Murakami spends some time in this book explaining why he must run to offset the unhealthiness of his imagination…How you have to go deep inside you to be able to tap your creative vein…if you don’t stay healthy on the outside, the inside will take over….me? I just have never learned how to do that…I fear one day I would just bleed out….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

Review: The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

*1Since this has been all over the news of late I thought it was time to revisit. I now live in the United Kingdom and often do my clothes shopping online (much easier than trying to suffer though the experience with my loving but very impatient husband) and I admit I was somewhat shocked at looking at the shipping restrictions. It appears that post is no longer allowed to be sent many countries now with “Ebola virus” listed as the cause….This is just mind-blowing to me….anyway…here is the review of this book that has always stayed in my mind. I worry about chemical warfare and someone leaking this type of virus much more than I’ve ever worried about a bomb going off overhead….

What can I say? This one really makes you stop and think. How close are we all to death? What blink of an eye can mean the end of the world as we know it? Forget how utterly disgusting this book was. I mean, seriously, this was the most insane, make you wish you hadn’t eaten that for lunch, I think I just threw up in my mouth, wipe that grimace off your face book I have ever read. i still can’t stop imaging what it would be like to have your tongue, esophagus and intestines slough off and run through your body. Nor can I stop trying to imagine the black vomit or bleeding out through ever orifice of your body. Screaming monkeys. This book really could give you some nightmares. Seriously. Who is that guy sitting next to you on the plane? Does he look sick? Does he have a virus lurking in his hazel eyes? Did that cough just set the virus free?

I tell you something, this type of book makes me reevaluate my life. I want to do things differently. I want to be in a different place….and today might be the last day to do so…time to get my ass moving…..

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now The Hot Zone by Richard Preston