A few memoirs (and a mystery!)

September 22, 2008 at 11:48 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

I always try to give myself a few days before writing a review.. and somehow, instead of doing one review today, I have.. 5 books! I honestly don’t know how I do this to myself sometimes. *makes note to update at LEAST once a book*


Bone By Bone by Carol O’Connell

This one is a mystery set in a small town, where everyone knows your name, and everyone has a secret.

I really enjoyed this one. Yeah, everyone has a secret, but they’re not easy secrets for you, the reader, to guess at. It’s nice because it’s not that predictable, where by the middle of the book you want to slap someone and tell them it’s suspect x that did it!

It’s got a half ass sheriff, a sharp government agent, seances, a housekeeper that seems to know everything, and heck, even the birds have secrets. It’s very enjoyable, and I like how they finally extracted the confession they needed at the end (although it was unconventional.) I was a bit sad when some characters didn’t get their happy endings, but I guess sometimes in life, you’re so far gone that a happy ending isn’t possible.

Good read!


Something Like Beautiful by asha bandele

A single black mother talks of her raising her little girl. Only problem was, she didn’t exactly expect to be a single mother raising a little girl. She meets a man in prison, falls in love, and gets married to him. He’s been a model prisoner, and that combined with a marriage, and eventually the arrival of a baby, convinces them both he can get out on parole, and they can be a happy family. Unfortunately, things don’t work out that way, and she finds herself alone.

It’s a short memoir. Asha is typical in her mom worries (2 bottles and 3 diapers for a prison visit? Those guards better hope the baby’s stomach isn’t having an off day!) After losing her husband, she tries out the dating scene, and falls victim to another problem – domestic violence. She eventually ditches the guy, and moves on. She worries how society will see her – if, since she’s a single black mom, they think she’s one of those “statistics.” Jump in bed, have a good time, get knocked up, and *cloud of dust* there goes the father.

Asha tries hard. She tries to pay her rent and bills and grocery shopping with her meager paychecks. She tries to find quality daycare, and a good school for her daughter. She fights her depression, and remembers how much love and joy her daughter brings to her.

It’s a short book, but it’s not too bad. She really does try to make a good life for them, and I give her credit and wish her luck in the future.


I Had To Row Across The Ocean by Tori Murden McClure

Another memoir, but it was pretty cool. As the title indicates, she (Tori, the author,) rowed across the ocean. She doesn’t do it for any cause or charity, or the fame. She does it to prove that she can. She chronicles everything. She sees dolphins, whales, schools of fish, sharks, and a mysterious tentacle floating along. She tells of the rough weather, how she gets banged up, capsizes a few times, and her struggles to row against opposing winds.

She tells of growing up, and what brought her to challenging herself like this. I don’t really want to say TOO much, without spoiling it, but I’ll say that she learned a lot about herself, found a husband, and she makes the journey. Way to go Tori! Hopefully this will inspire others to take up great challenges, even if they don’t succeed.


Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway

Very well worth the read. As soon as I got it, I dug in right away. Kris signs on with the Peace Corp for two years, and she gets sent to a small village in west Africa. Her host, and mentor, was the village midwife Monique. During her two years, Kris tries to help the village as much as she could. She helps Monique care for the pregnant women and their children, helps out in the fields, and, her main project, helps them fix and renovate the birthing house.

She learns the language, the culture, samples the new foods, and makes new friends. Wild dogs and scorpions freak her out. She meets another volunteer, and he eventually moves to her village to be with her, and help out. In my eyes, Kris has the experience of a lifetime, something I wish I could have done, and be able to share with my own kids.

Her book helps raise awareness to one of Africa’s problems, besides AIDS. Without training, pre-natal care, and education to keep the babies alive and healthy, the mortality rate is high among birthing mothers and infants.

One thing I’d definitely like to point out, is with every sale of the book, a portion of the proceeds “..will help expand the capabilities of this clinic, as well as provide school tuition assistance and health care for Monique’s children.” They’re also partnered up with WomensTrust Inc, “a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women in West Africa at the grassroots level.”

Part of her website is dedicated to collecting donations, and can be found here : Monique and the Mango Rains – How to Help.

It’s a great and worthwhile cause. Pick up the book, and help out!


And last one for today.. The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan

Yet another memoir! This one I found pretty amusing. John is the youngest of 4, and his parents are VERY devout catholics. They try to raise him in the faith – no smoking, no drinking, no pre-marital relations, etc, yet he pretty much defies all of this, and so much more. He has some hilarious misadventures, like undressing his pretty nun teacher, then being called on to stand and read, only to realize he has a bit of a “problem” that he tries to hide. Or once, during lunch, one of his buddies puts a punk record on, cranks it up, and blasts it, swearing and all, much to the fury of the sister.

He grows up, and still gets into trouble – like dating a very well endowed girl, publishing an independent school newspaper with some very liberal views, and moving in with his future wife. Through it all though, I think he regrets not being more honest and upfront with his parents, especially when they drift apart after he confesses some things them. He tries to reach a balance to keep his parents, and his wife happy, without pissing one off too much.

It was funny, and it was touching, and it cut the core a bit too. Who hasn’t at some in their lives, been dishonest with their parents, and later regretted it? I originally thought it would be a bit “meh” but it’s well written, and it kept me going to see what happens next. I found out he had written another book, “Marley and Me,” and I think I’ll be trying to pick it up as well.


I might have to edit a little bit later, musing it all over.

Currently reading :

My Father’s Paradise, by Ariel Sabar (still! sorry! it’s good though!)

The Aviary Gate, by Katie Hickman. I regret not finishing this sooner. It started off a bit slow, but it’s definitely gotten more interesting.

Next to be read (in no specific order:)

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner (another one I regret not getting to earlier! probably the next to be picked up in a day or two)

Shadow of Colossus by T.L. Higley

The Last Days of Krypton by Kevin J. Anderson (very soon, I swear!)

Just when I knock a few off my pile, more appear! Just donated a few books, but I feel like I hardly made a dent in freeing up space, unfortunately.


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