Mini Reviews of Recent Reads

Hello darlings! I don’t know about you, but I have been reading up a STORM. And most of the books I’ve read lately have been really, incredibly good. Now, I haven’t had time to write full reviews of everything I’ve read in the last few months, so I’d like to share a few mini reviews!

Mini Review: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offil
Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
Purchased
Knopf; Jan 1, 2014

This wonderful little novel is the fragmented musings of a woman as she goes through her marriage, dealing with everything from a colicky baby to bedbugs to infidelity. It’s a difficult book to describe because it doesn’t really have a plot; it’s more a series of lyrical, beautiful vignettes about marriage and motherhood, with all of their ups and downs.

The format of this novel is unusual, but it makes this book really special. It can easily be read in one sitting, but it has stuck with me since I read it two months ago. It’s starkly, sparsely, achingly beautiful.
Mini Review: Sleep Donation by Karen Russell

Sleep Donation by Karen Russell. 
(Purchased)
Atavist Books; March 25, 2014

In the future, thousands of Americans have lost the ability to sleep, and the crisis grows into an epidemic. The Slumber Corps is founded to combat the illness by accepting sleep donations from healthy dreamers. These sleep donations work much the same as blood transfusions, and even an hour of healthy sleep can save an insomniac from death; a full eight hours can cure him/her.

Our protagonist, Trish, whose sister was one of the first to die from insomnia, works as a recruiter for the Slumber Corps. Although she is one of the Corps’ most effective recruiters, her faith in the organization is shaken when the first universal donor is discovered in “Baby A.” Despite Baby A’s parents’ hesitation, the Corps is intent on continually mining the baby for her perfect sleep, regardless of her best interests.

Although the premise of this novella is classic Russell, it wasn’t one of my favorite stories of her’s, although I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

me talk pretty one dayMe Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
(Purchased)
Back Bay Books; June 5, 2001

I’ve had two Sedaris books sitting on my bookshelf for about two years, picked up at a library sale and a used bookstore, and I figured it was finally time to read one and see what all the fuss is about!

This collection of personal essays reads almost like a memoir, as Sedaris describes his childhood in North Carolina, where he had to undergo speech therapy for his lisp (instead of fixing his impediment, he just stopped saying words with the letter “s” in them), his years doing drugs and trying to be a performance artist (without any talent to back him up), and the time he spent living with his boyfriend in Paris (where he tried to learn butchered French at a language school).

I know a lot of people really love Sedaris, but I didn’t really think this book was all that special. It was a fun, quick read, but the essays are a bit formulaic, and this isn’t a book that’s going to stick with me.

Jazz Age January: Careless People by Sarah Churchwell

Book Review: Burial Rights by Hannah KentCARELESS PEOPLE
by Sarah Churchwell

Non-Fiction
The Penguin Press; Jan. 23, 2014
Hardcover; 432 pages
Source: Received from publisher for review

Although F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t write The Great Gatsby until 1925, he chose to set his iconic novel in 1922. Intrigued by his choice of setting, Sarah Churchwell set out to investigate Fizgerald’s influences while writing his masterwork.

In 1922, Fitzgerald was 26, returning to New York for the publication of Tales of the Jazz Age. Already a wildly successful writer, he and his vivacious wife Zelda soon became absorbed in the glamorous lifestyle of jazz age NY. Prohibition meant that booze was flowing more freely than ever before, reckless drivers were killing people right and left, and a slate of murders became media sensations.  Continue reading

Jazz Age January: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Book Review: Burial Rights by Hannah KentA MOVEABLE FEAST
by Ernest Hemingway

Non-Fiction: Classics
Scribner; 1964
Paperback; 236 pages
Source: Purchased

A Moveable Feast is the first Hemingway book I’ve read since my high school English class reading of A Farewell to Arms, and although I enjoyed it, I’m not sure it was the best place to start reading his work.

Unfinished and published posthumously, A Moveable Feast is Hemingway’s memoir of his time spent in Paris with his fist wife Hadley in the early 1920s. Also included in this “restored edition” are many Paris sketches that I think weren’t meant to be in the book but that provide interesting insights into the author’s life.

Continue reading

Audiobook Mini Reviews: Memoirs

Last week I posted a few mini reviews of audiobooks I’ve listened to in the last few months/year. Today I’m back with Round 2! This post rounds out all of the audiobooks I’ve listened to (or can remember listening to) with the exception of The Hunger Games trilogy, which I think will get its own post. Anyway, it turns out that I really like listening to memoirs by funny ladies, because that’s what three of these four books are. Without further ado, I present Audiobook Mini Reviews: Memoir Edition. Continue reading