I couldn’t bear The Bear

The Bear

Photo Credit: Goodreads

I was so excited to read The Bear by Claire Cameron.  I mean, Room by Emma Donoghue blew my mind and could be one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read.  Heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, overall amazing.

So The Bear is the same right?  Wrong.

Many people loved The Bear, but I just didn’t get into it.  I taught 5-year-olds and had a tough time fulling believing Anna as a character.  Some things were spot on, others I doubted.

Overall, the book didn’t grip me, and the ending dragged for me.  Although I do have to say that the Epilogue rocked and at least I ended the book on a high note with that.

Thanks Anita Loves Books for a copy!

What do you think of books like Room, Above by Isla Morley, and The Bear?

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Eating Wildly was wildly surprising!

I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Eating Wildly Eating Wildly by Ava Chin was such a surprise to me! I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to get into a book about foraging for wild grasses to make a meal, but Chin’s writing really just sucks you in.

Eating Wildly is a memoir, telling stories of Ava’s life, with her experiences of foraging for and cooking wild grasses and mushrooms. And if you can believe it, she forages in Brooklyn! Who would think that so much lush foliage would be growing in the hustle and bustle of NYC?

I practically ate up this book. I couldn’t put it down.

I loved the honesty of Chin’s experiences, of her love life and family life, as well as the recipes she included in the back of each chapter.

However, there were two parts of the book that just struck me. One, is where Ava’s super excited about these wild mushrooms she finds, but she isn’t sure if they’re edible or poisonous. So she meets up with a fungi master and he teaches her how to make a mushroom spore print, which will reveal if the mushrooms are safe to eat. It sounded really cool – almost cool enough to make me want to do one myself!

Then there was a scene where Ava found blackberries, and it took me back to my road trip. Last summer, my sister and I took a road trip around some of the southeastern US and one of our favorite parts of the trip was blackberry picking at a local NC farm. Although that’s probably as “forager-ing” as I’m ever going to get!

My sister & I "foraging" for blackberries at a u-pick in North Carolina - one of our favorite parts of the road trip!

My sister & I “foraging” for blackberries at a u-pick in North Carolina – one of our favorite parts of the road trip!

What is one of your favorite experiences with nature?

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Bye-Bye Religion: Mini-reviews

Coincidentally, I read two nonfiction books in a row about Jewish people who decide to leave the religion.  Seriously, it was a coincidence!

Cut Me Loose via Love at First Book

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Cut Me Loose by Leah Vincent: Leah was born into a deeply religious ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.  When she was caught writing letters to a friend (who happened to be a boy) her life was thrown off track.  While she tried to be pure and religious, it wasn’t working for her.  So how does Leah survive in the secular world?  Well, it’s tough, but she finds her way.

Cut Me Loose is similar to Deborah Feldman’s own story of leaving a conservative sect of Judaism (Unorthodox), but Leah seems a little more naive at times.

Should you read it?  Well, if you like nonfiction accounts of people stripping themselves of a culture/religion/scenario that is weighing them down (like Carolyn Jessop’s Escape), then this book is for you!

Photo Credit: Goodreads

My Year Inside Radical Islam by Daveed Garenstein-Ross: Daveed is raised in a hippy-ish household, where religion is based more on values than religion itself.  Although born Jewish, Daveed didn’t seem to have much of a religious background in general.  When introduced to the Islamic religion, he immediately felt it was right for him and he was hooked.  However, after taking a job in an extremist Islamic office, Daveed finds himself a little bit in over his head and has to do a little more soul-searching.

My Year Inside is a unique and interesting book, but I found Daveed to be a follower, not someone who was able to think for himself.  He continues to be persuaded by other people’s beliefs, rarely sticking up for his own, and his faith is on shaky ground a lot of the time.  Daveed actually addresses that issue in the book, but I still had a tough time with it.

Should you read it?  If you want a unique memoir, this is one for sure.  You get a glimpse of the Islamic religion, both some of the good and the bad (which is in every religion, of course) and it’s definitely interesting to hear how someone can choose a new religion.

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Paparazzi: A Look at My Vices

I have a weakness.  That weakness is reality television.  No lie, I just love it.  My husband calls it my vice, and he’s right.

Give me the Real Housewives of any place on Earth (except Miami bc they look WEIRD), a show where people get kicked off by votes, famous people doing stupid stuff, TMZ. . . I just love it!

Shooting Stars via Love at First Book

Photo Credit: Goodreads

So when I snagged a copy of Shooting Stars by Jennifer Buhl, I was pretty ecstatic.  Jennifer was one of the few female paparazzi in LA.  She was struggling to make ends meet, going from job to job (because she was restless, not because she isn’t talented and smart), and ends up kind of falling into a position as a paparazzi.

Interested in stars like Paris Hilton, Adrian Grenier (Entourage, anyone?), and Katherine Heigel?  Buhl’s book is full of her stories of the stars and fellow paparazzi (both friends and not-so-friends).

Honestly, I was hooked.

Will this book change your life and make you a smarter person?  Nope.

But will it keep you super entertained and give you the inside scoop on some famous people and how the paparazzi work?  Yup.

So. . . let’s share some vices!

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Above: “Room” with a View

You’ve probably heard of (and hopefully read) Emma Donoghue’s amazingly moving and disturbing tale, Room.  You may have even read the nonfictional version by Jaycee Dugard.

Above by Isla Morley via Love at First Book

Photo Credit: Goodreads

But now it’s time to check out Above by Isla Morley.  Above tells the fictional story of Blythe, who is abducted from her small town’s fair and locked up by her high school’s librarian, a survivalist who keeps her hidden underground in a reinforced missile silo.

It’s terrible.  Blythe is alone, stuck in this hell hole, and eventually raped. . . often.  She produces a son, and tries to raise him below.

However, when circumstances change and Blythe and her son are able to go above, the world is a little different than what they expected.

Above is Room with a view – a view of how terrible the world could be outside of the torturous world below.

Should you read it?  For sure start with Room.  It blew my mind.  Above was better for me when they were below ground, and got a little strange when they went above.

Another rec?  Apparently The Bear is awesome and similar to these stories.  I’ll be reading that one soon, thanks to a fabulous friend who let me borrow it.

What creepy story have you read recently?  Or are they “too much” for you? 😛

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Finding Me by Michelle Knight

I received this book in exchange for a fair and honest review, which is PERFECT because I have a friend who wanted me to read it anyway, to make sure she could take it and wouldn’t wimp out! 😛  You know who you are!  

Finding Me via Love at First Book

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed by Michelle Knight is a mouthful of a title, but worth the read.  Finding Me is about Michelle’s true story of an 11 year period of time when she was kidnapped and held hostage.

Michelle was taken as a 21-year-old, by a friend’s father, and was beaten, raped, demoralized on a daily basis.  Two other girls joined her by being kidnapped as well.

Michelle’s story is brutal, honest, truthful and deserves to be heard.  The Cleveland Kidnappings that Michelle was part of is a scary scenario, but not only does Michelle describe her story with confidence and ease, she reminds us about the others who are still out there, still missing, that need to be found.

Finding Me is a tough story to absorb.  Michelle shows the truth behind some of the lowest forms of humanity through her kidnapper, but she also shows a strong will to survive, and to help save the other two girls living with her.

However, Finding Me feels like it was written by a teenager as opposed to someone in her 30s.  Michelle was poorly educated (she admits this herself) and that does show in her writing and heavy use of teenage slang.  That being said, this does not take away from her story in the least.  Michelle’s tale needs to be told, no matter how eloquently she writes, and her story needs to be read.

Finding Me is gripping, honest, and an open story of survival in a devastating situation.  Michelle is someone I can look up to, someone who has proven that a strong human will is enough to overcome any obstacle.

What powerful story of survival speaks to you?

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Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester

I received this book from TLC Book Tours in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

Chasing the Sun via Love at First Book

I admit it.  I was wrong.  I’m not a fan of missing person mysteries, but Sylvester won me over.  Chasing the Sun by Natalia Sylvester takes place in Lima, Peru, in what sounds like the 1990s but I’m not 100% sure, and there’s a big problem in Lima.  Kidnappers abound, there’s little to stop them, and what they want is ransom money.

When Marabela doesn’t return home, Andres, her husband, has to figure out what happened. . . and when he does, it’s clear Marabela’s been kidnapped for ransom.  Should he let their two kids know?  How can he get Marabela back?  What about his old flame and former BFF Elena, who was kidnapped herself and no longer feels safe so she lives in an institution?

The book kept me riveted, and surprised me with how much I enjoyed it.  This is a great summer read for those people looking for something with a little more depth than the normal “summer read” books.  It’s an easy book to read on a serious topic, while still maintaining a “light” feel to it.

TLC Book ToursWant to win a copy of the book (US/Canada only)?   Just leave me a comment with your email address (or email me) and I’ll draw a winner randomly on June 30th!

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