Review: Calypso by David Sedaris

If you’ve read a Sedaris book and hated it…well…you won’t like this one either…I also have to ask why the hell not? Do you take life too seriously?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Sedaris takes life way too seriously, hence why he is so bitter and so very snarky.

I lost track how many times I laughed out loud during this one. Despite all the laughter there was some serious issues going on in this one. I come from a family that isn’t really what you would call close. I am not so daft as to not realise that the lack of family bonding I’ve had hasn’t affected me a great deal with my “grown up” issues. So whilst reading this, I just have to marvel at all the times Sedaris and his family attempt to be a family, despite the fact that they often don’t seem to feel that closeness…or perhaps that closeness is why they continue to reach out to one another. Don’t get me wrong, it’s obvious that Sedaris has a close bond with some of his siblings, however I often get the feeling that with others, meh, not so much…Maybe because of his age he makes those attempts and I still have a few years to get it right myself…after all, Sedaris also makes it clear that for many years of his youth he was out of touch with everyone on the planet, including himself!

However, I don’t think that’s it. Maybe my wires are completely severed and beyond repair…but alas, Sedaris in all his snark makes it pretty clear to me that it’s a choice I make…just like it’s a choice he makes to continue on…even though both of us might feel like it’s not really a choice at all…

See, I guess this isn’t a review, but it’s just the musings that reading the book has brought me to…

Regardless of all of that, if you love Sedaris even a little bit, you should hurry up and get to this one…

Why? ***Skip to the end if you’re easily offended*** Well, because honestly, now I can’t wait to to tell some to shove their fist up me arse and give my shite a good wanking off…you too, might need this ultimate insult information as well one day…

Honestly, maybe I shouldn’t post this review on my blog now…but dang it, after I picked my jaw up off the floor I almost fell down with the laughter at this ultimate insult..don’t we all need some honest to god outrageous and inappropriate belly laughs such as this from time to time…and Sedaris, as always, is happy to provide them for us…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it here Calypso by David Sedaris

Review: Chalk Houses by Tracy Clark

Most kids want to grow up to be just like their parents. From a very young age, they emulate everything their parents do. Imagine, though, a childhood so sad and traumatic that it leaves you reaching for the exact opposite goal.

Talon has had a rough childhood, to put it mildly. A revolving door of men in her mother’s life has left her scarred in more ways than one. More often than not, Talon has found herself in the role of the parent as drugs and alcohol ruled every aspect of her mother’s life. Now she has a chance to make something of her life. Her love of writing has given her the opportunity to leave her horrid life behind and to actually become something.

But Talon, desperate for approval and love and acceptance and all those other things, finds herself making the same mistakes as her mother. Will she see the error of her ways before it’s too late? And is there any way she and her mom can find their way back to each other?

Lots going on in this story. Typical teen issues, sure. But also some things that no teen should ever experience. Sadly, we all know that Talon’s experiences are all too real. This was a compelling story, one that I really want to end in a happily ever after. But as in life, that’s rarely the case…


Buy It Now: Chalk Houses

Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmererk

Just a few days ago I was talking with some bookish friends about genres I love, genres I don’t love so much. And as it always does, romance found its way to the top of my “least favorite genre” list. And then here I find myself giving a five star review to, you guessed it, a romance. Not a psychological thriller with some romance thrown in. Not historical fiction with an underlying romantic tone. Nope, just a romance. Go figure.

Juliet and Declan are both suffering the recent loss of a parent although in very different ways. Still, this common thread is what brings them together. The only way Juliet has been able to cope with her mom’s death is by spending hours at the cemetery, writing letters that her mother will never be able to read.

But somebody does read them. Declan finds himself at the mercy of the court after a big screw up. Community service, mowing lawns at the cemetery it is. When he comes across Juliet’s letters curiosity gets the best of him. And then he writes back. And she answers. Thus begins an unconventional relationship. Their letters fill a hole in each one of them, though. They find comfort in words. But when real life begins to interfere, is it better or worse to keep their true identities hidden from each other?

Romance aside, this is a good story. It pulled on my heartstrings, imagining the pain that each one of these young people must be going through. A few little twists thrown in towards the end keep it interesting up until the last page. A great, safe read for young adults as well!


Buy It Now: Letters to the Lost

Review: Paperweight by Meg Haston


This is a book that has been on my TBR list for a very long while.  Not sure why it sat there, unread and neglected for so long.  As with so many of us readers, surely it was simply a case of “too many books, too little time.”  Still, it caught my eye recently when I was looking for a  possible five-star book to pull me in.  Mission accomplished.

Stevie just has too much going on in her life to be a mere seventeen years old.  Her family is fractured, with mom living abroad after abandoning the family.  Dad has good intentions but finds it hard to manage after the death of Stevie’s brother, Joshua, in a tragic accident.  And Stevie?  She copes by controlling the only thing she can:  what goes into her body.  In the full throes of an eating disorder, she finds herself at a treatment center as her dad struggles to save what’s left of his family.  Rescuing herself is no easy task.  First she has to admit she has a problem.  And at the root of that problem are memories from the past that she’d rather not face.

I loved this story from the beginning until the very end.  It’s a very realistic portrayal of what goes through the mind of someone with an eating disorder.  And the author does an excellent job of giving us a cast of characters who show that there’s no “one size fits all” diagnosis or cure.  An outstanding story about a very serious issue.


Buy It Now:  Paperweight

Review: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

*1I absolutely loved this book. The scenario is simple enough….Alice bumps her head and wakes up and can’t remember the last 10 years of her life.

Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. Sure we can run into a friend that we haven’t seen for ages and judge them….how much have they changed….how much have they remained the same….are they thinner? Thicker? Do they act the same? Are they still lovely? Are they cynical? How much can someone change in ten years? How many life events can happen?

But stop all that….forget about your husband, you children, your parents, your siblings, and your friends….let’s stop for a second and look at ourselves. Whoa….that’s right….how much have YOU changed in the last 10 years? How has the changes you’ve made effected how people perceive you? How has it effected how you perceive OTHER people?

Not so simple now is it? We all know that people change…but it happens year by year….month by month….week by week…and day by day… happens so gradually that perhaps we don’t even realise it at all….until we wake up one day and ten years have passed….and we wonder…where did I go?

But Alice has no idea why she has changed. Why people treat her differently….she has only the view of herself from ten years ago…she has none of the newer memories that changed her to explain why….so she is left wondering how this could have happened. She is left judging herself and trying to figure it all out.

The novel gives you much to think about. The more you think about it, the more you have to think about. Imagine yourself 10 years ago… imagine your younger self looking at who you are today…with none of the knowledge of how you got there…..what would they see? WHO would they see? Would they be happy? Would they be a bit surprised? Disappointed? Would you feel confident that you had chosen the correct path and that you had made the right choices?

If not, would you be brave enough to make the changes your younger self desired? Sure we have all heard that saying….”If I only knew then what I know now”…..but really what does that mean? If you know it NOW, why not do the best you can to rectify it? Why assume that just because it was in the past that it’s too late to change yourself and try to make things better? Do we just use sayings like that for an excuse to take the easy road and not make changes in our life?

Again…so much to ponder here….I do believe I need to hurry up and read another Liane Moriarty book….this was pure bliss for me….

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

Review: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

darkI loved this book from page one. All the way up until the end.

This is the story of Libby Day. As a young girl of seven, Libby’s testimony puts her fifteen year old brother, Ben, in prison for the murder of their mother and two sisters. Libby has spent much of her life as pretty anti-social. She isn’t really a very nice person. Okay…honestly, Libby isn’t even a semi nice person.

This story begins when Libby finds herself suddenly in a position to revisit the events of that night and to finally ask the questions about what really happened. Questions that she has avoided for the past twenty-four years. She finds herself finally face to face with her brother and father for the first time in years.

Because I don’t do spoilers, I will say the only one part of this novel I had issues with is the small part near the very end when Libby has a confrontation with a mother and daughter. One part of that just seemed like it was put in there for nothing other than shock value. I have no issues with the mother and daughter being in the storyline…or even the actual storyline….just some of the actions….but enough….

I did like how Flynn wrapped up the events of that night and the answers that Libby discovered. Perhaps “like” isn’t the correct wording, since, after all, Libby’s mother and sisters were killed….but….

The real reason I wanted to write this review is….well…Flynn really had me thinking….I think everyone can agree, Libby Day is not a very likable person….but at one point…on the day of the murders…Seven year old Libby is sitting down in the back a car drawling circles on a window. It really made me stop and wonder. That one simple glimpse of Libby as a little girl made me forgive her as an adult. How different would Libby be if that night had never happened. What type of adult would that little girl have grown up to be? How about Ben? As an adolescent boy he felt lost and misplaced. He felt isolated. But what teenager doesn’t? If even one of the events that happened to Ben had been changed, what would have happened to all the other events? Just one broken link in the chain of events for him could have made such a huge difference. What could have been avoided? What side of the maze of would he had come out on out of adolescence into adulthood?

Sure, we all know that our experiences and circumstances help to shape us into the person we are today….but for Libby Day it can be narrowed down to one single experience….It is easy to imagine a complete total different life for her had she not experienced that night. So is that an excuse for Libby to use? Or is it a way to forgive her for her actions and behaviour?

Sure, I know….Libby Day is not a real person. She is a character in a book…but look around….how many of the people you don’t like….ones that you pass judgement on….how many of them have that one single life event that might have made them into the person they are today? Perhaps it doesn’t always come from a lifetime of experiences…instead it can be traced to just one….

Again, yes…I realise that many have survived terrible things and they become great people. I’m not saying someone gets a free pass on their behaviour. No matter what happens in life, I strongly believe that we are all responsible for our actions…regardless of the childhoods we had….but it is very easy to see that the Libby Day we saw in this novel was not the same Libby Day that was sitting quietly in the back seat drawing circles on a foggy car window….

So yes….that little girl played a huge part in my forgiving the adult Libby Day for her behaviour….not just to others….but to herself as well….

Thank you Gillian Flynn for putting that scene into this novel….it meant a lot to me….and it has gave me endless hours of thinking….xx

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Review: Reality Boy by A.S. King

RBI don’t read as much YA as I used to. However, sometimes you just have to feed a need! This book did not disappoint. I have never been a big fan of reality TV. This book pointed out many reasons why reality television isn’t necessarily a positive influence in the world. Especially when it comes to the stars of the show. It seems that instead of learning from the pain and heartache of what some of these shows have created, the public just wants more. Like a train wreak we are unable to tear our eyes away from.

This story is about Gerald Faust. He is an almost 17-year-old that is still known to the world as the young child that starred in a reality television series. Even though more than 10 years have gone by…even though much of the show took place when he was only 5 years old, he is still known, and judged by the events that the show chose to show the world. Just imagine how anyone can take a few minutes out of your week and sculpt them into what they want the world to see. Imagine that everyone judges you by those few minutes alone. You have no chance to show them the events that led up to those events. You have no chance to tell your side. No one is allowed to see how others treated you prior to those events. No one is allowed to see what happens after the events. Now imagine this is how you will be judged not only in that week, but in the rest of your life. Isn’t being a teenager hard enough?

I can’t really say that this book has a happy ending. I can’t say that you’ll fall in love with any of the characters. I can say that parts of it will make you sad. Parts of it will scare you. Parts of it will also make you angry. You’ll be reminded that we should not judge those that we do not know. You’ll be reminded that you’re not alone no matter how much you might feel that way….

Should you read this book? Yes! Turn off that damned telly and pull out this book. It was a quick read. It will have you wanting to hurry to the end to see how Gerald fairs in life. You will want his reality to be a happy ending! I won’t lie to you….this is based on reality tv…and just as reality is never “wrapped up in a pretty bow” at the end, this book won’t be either. Nothing is really ever perfect, is it? Some people never get the help that need. Some people never choose to face the hard facts…about those they love or about themselves….but sometimes, life does get better! Sometimes you do find positive people to surround yourself with. Life CAN get better…perhaps not perfect, but at least you can make changes that improve it….at least in this respect, this book is very much like “reality”

Enjoy! Until next time….

Urania xx

Reading copy obtained from Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now Reality Boy

Review: The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son by Pat Conroy

death of santiniOkay, so I haven’t read all of Pat Conroy’s books. After I read “The Prince of Tides”, I just wasn’t sure how much more I could read by him. Don’t misunderstand me. I LOVE his writing. Perhaps too much. It just seemed too real. For me, I could see it all just plain as day. I believe that it could be happening in any small southern town. Some reviews I looked at said that it was all just too over blown….that people didn’t really live like that. That abuse like that couldn’t be hidden. That the Southern towns he spoke of weren’t *really* like that. Having grown up in the South I disagreed. Having worked with children in State custody, again, I disagreed….but that’s as far as my mind went with it….I didn’t really read much about Conroy’s background. I didn’t care to dig deeper…maybe, somehow, knowing beforehand what I might find….

So, as I ramble on, are you wondering why? Well, if you know and follow Pat Conroy you know he has written a few non-fiction books about his life….well, “The Death of Santini” is another non-fiction novel. It is the story of Pat and his father. More so, it is the story of forgiveness and acceptance between a father and his son. So, I can’t talk about how much confessing Pat does in his other non-fiction books, as I haven’t read them, but I can tell you, he does a lot in this one. He basically explains that every book he has written is really just an out pouring of his life. Every non fiction book is based on his experiences. The names might have been changed. The stories might have grown. However, the rawness, the aching beauty of his writing comes from his own experiences, and yes, the violence is his own as well….

Here we learn that, yes, the horrible father in all the stories, were in fact, stories about Pat’s own father. The *true* “great Santini”, Don Conroy. We learn that every brutal word we read were inspired by the brutality of this one man. We also see the aftermath of what such brutality does to a family. How it tears it apart, not as a whole unit, but by person by person. How it destroys relationships. How it destroys people. However, we also see what it means to be human. How the human spirit sometimes refuses to just take what is handed to it. We see that the same brutalities that sometimes tears people apart, are also the very things that makes someone who they are. That often, we have our own ways of dealing with such things. We might pen it on paper and became a famous author. We might pour it into poetry and became a poet….or perhaps we pour it into our behaviors towards others….we become the father that we never had….or the caretaker that offers nothing except love and support…we might spend decades in a situation and then one day, seemingly out of the blue, we wake up and say no more and make a different life for ourselves….sadly, it might also mean, we can’t take another single day with what we have endured and we find a way to end it right then and there…and we also learn that even when we move ahead, well, that we always carry some part of that past with us. We can often try to control our behavior…we can try to move on….but sometimes that is much easier said than done. It is obvious that Pat Conroy still carries his past with him. I think he always will. One sees that he puts a bit of himself in many of his characters….he might be the strong brother at times, but the broken siblings are also part of who he is…

Most importantly, we see a man, who might not speak aloud of the wrongs he has done, but he turns his life into something that tries to set those wrongs right. This book has made me realize a lesson I’ve always known….but it has put it into full light for me….We should never judge and condone someone unless we walk in their shoes. Wrongs are never right…..but that doesn’t mean we need to be so quick to condemn the person….maybe just the actions…and only as they are occurring….perhaps it’s best to let the past rest in the past and not in the present. Sometimes a second chance is not enough…sometimes it might take more….

I am also reminded (something I’ve experienced first hand) that often, if we hold on to the wrongs of the past that it is not punishing only the person that wronged you (if it even does) but that is punishing yourself the most. Holding on to the bitterness of the past only gives that bitterness a resting place inside of YOU! But how does one let go? I hope one day that Pat Conroy is able to lay to rest the demons that still live inside him…as he has now laid to rest the father that he loved so dearly….

Until next time….

Urania xx

ARC provided by Netgalley for an honest review

Buy it now The Death of Santini