Review: Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

15790837Oh my word. I just love David Sedaris. I would love to try to match wits with him at least a few times…perhaps pick up trash with him on summer afternoon. I love to enjoy his books via audio simply because he is just so delightful. His voice and his delivery is half the fun when it comes to enjoying his book.

This one is no different than any of his other books. I love hearing about his family. I marval at how he has moved beyond his wayward youth…

I also never giggle more with any other author. I am often shocked and outraged. So much so that I can’t stop laughing! Outraged or not, he is spot on! That’s what makes him so brilliant! If only we were all so brave to be so honest and open with the things we see around us…

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

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

Review: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

where'd you go bernadetteAre you kidding me? I loved this book! Are you kidding me? I never saw that coming! Are you kidding me? I surely didn’t see THAT coming! What a charming, funny book, that is also horrible and the exact opposite of charming and funny at the very same moment! A true paradox of a book. I shocked myself by laughing out loud at terrible things. I hated and loved most of the characters. I felt sorry for them and angry at them, again, at the same time. I lived near Seattle for a number of years. The description of the Emerald City both offended me and warmed my heart at the same time. It made me angry and giggly at the same instance.

So if we take this book and read the description this is what we get:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic….

For much of the book you believe this is what the novel is about. Then the author, Maria Semple, throws in a little twist. A simple hand written note from Bernadette’s husband. Suddenly you start to understand a little bit more. However, Semple then throws in an e-mail from Bernadette and you’re like, “OMGreatGoodness, I am so getting this book now! Oh my, I can’t believe this”…..and the hidden truths of the past and present are dropped here and there, bit by bit….until suddenly the entire picture you had painted in your head is like looking at a Bev Doolittle original painting! You’re looking at this image and the more you look, the more you see….the whole image you first glanced at is built upon one little hidden gem upon another…and another….

I was just as surprised by some of the twists in the novel as the characters were. All I can say is that this novel reinforces what we all already know…Don’t judge a book based solely upon its cover. We all do things for different reasons. We all have pasts that shape whom we are today. What you take as indifference from someone might be anything but….

I admire Semple for not giving this ending a happy ever after finish. There are still messy bits that can’t be easily solved…bits that the characters will have to deal with after this book finishes. I admire her for turning a simple straightforward “chick lit” book into so much more. I appreciate the laughter and the shock value as well. Sure, you might look at parts of the novel and think, “But grown adults would NEVER act that way”….I say hey ho…they do it every single day….thank you Semple for putting it in the light of day….

Until next time….

Urania xx

Buy it now Where’d You go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

RebeccaUffda….where to start….I found myself at times so aggravated with this book that I wished nothing more to give it a hard throw against a solid brick wall….whilst at the same time, I really found myself enjoying the writing style of du Maurier. I had no problem walking away from the book for a day or two at a time…yet whilst reading it, I really did enjoy it. I’m not at all sure I’ve experienced this feeling before…I usually love and obsess about a book, hate it and am angered by it, or am bored and can’t be bothered by it….never before have I felt all of these things at once….

I can’t even begin to express my disbelief in how someone as spineless as the current Mrs. de Winter can exist in the *real* world. I understand she was young…I understand she was shy…..I understand she felt outclassed…I understand she lacked confidence….but damnit….she also lacked a fracking brain!!!! I can’t think of a single literary character (or a real live person for that matter) that I wished to take by the shoulders and shake until some resemblance of sense came upon her….

Here’s the thing…it was a great story….it was full of surprises (although throughout the entire novel I kept having feelings of deja vu…perhaps I read this as a teenager?)…although nothing that happened was a huge surprise, I did not guess all of the plot twists…and I surely did enjoy all of the twists….the last twenty percent of the novel had me where I simply could not put the book down….I was racing to get to the end to find out how it would all come together….

****Somewhat Spoiler*****

My discomfort came only with the *evil* housekeeper….I just felt the current Mrs de Winter took too much from her….It’s not that I wished the character was any nicer….or that Mrs de Winter was any less naive…I just thought the housekeeper could have been more…errrrrr…covert in her doings and still had the same effect…at times I found it almost comical that she was able to bully in such an open way with no repercussions….if she had been more sneaky in her ways, I would have found the current Mrs de Winter a more believable character….obviously, as often happens, I stand on a lone island with my views….as it’s very obvious that other’s did not have this same problem with the current Mrs. personality….

I will only add-on that the way this book ended was frightening….not because I was shocked…or wished it had ended any other way….but the ending….again….uffda!!!!! Mr de Winters talks of his wife growing up and loosing that youthful look of innocence….later, it is noted that she looks like she has grown up years in a space of hours….but by the end of this novel, I think perhaps she is no braver, more confident or has any more of spine that she showed at the beginning of the novel….in fact, I am more disappointed in her than ever….without giving too much away, there is simply no way to go into this…but damn, girl….get some gumption…..for all of her talk of no longer being intimidated or afraid…well…..screw that….she was no better at the end than the beginning….perhaps she was even worse…

Should you read this book? By all means, yes….there is a reason why this book has never been out of print….This book is over 70 years old, but it could have been written today….I’ve read classics before of course….but this might well go down as one of my favourites….regardless of my dismay for the current Mrs. de Winters….Daphne du Maurier sure can spin a tale….romance, suspense, mystery and more….UFFDA!!!!

Until next time…

Urania xx

Buy it now Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Review: Stella Bain by Anita Shreve

20131225-214734.jpgHistorical fiction is a very popular genre these days. From “The Book Thief” to “The Help”, authors all around are creating beautiful works of literature that seamlessly mesh historical facts with spellbinding fictional story lines. This one could have been part of that elite group.

The story begins with an unknown woman waking up injured in a battlefield hospital in France. The year is 1916, and World War I is underway. The woman identifies herself as Stella Bain but can remember nothing more than working as a nurse’s aid and driving an ambulance. Whether this is true or not is anyone’s guess. Driven by the need to find out the truth about her past, she feels the urge to travel to London where she senses the truth must lie. When she arrives in London, she is taken in by a kind physician and his wife. With their help, she is able to recover her memory. As such, she discovers what she was unknowingly hiding from. Without giving too much of the story away, there follows a legal battle which forces “Stella” to confront her past.

I had high hopes for this book, having enjoyed other works by Anita Shreve. This one started out in dramatic fashion and held my attention through about two-thirds of the story. Then it just gradually faded away for me. The author is a skillful writer who weaves a beautiful story full of historical details. The problem for me was that it just died out towards the end. I felt like the ending was rushed and a huge chunk of time was skipped. I get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing what happens to “my” characters at the end of a book and this one didn’t do it for me. It’s not a bad story, but I felt that it could have ended on a better note.

~Thalia

Buy It Now: Stella Bain