Friday, November 20, 2009

MULTIPLE BLES8INGS – Surviving to Thriving with Twins and Sextuplets

I purchased this book a year ago the day it first came out. I bought a copy for both me and my sister, since, at the time, we were both huge Jon & Kate fans. Actually, I was a Jon fan, my sister was a Kate fan. A year later I have finally read it. I'm quite glad I waited, given the outcome of their marriage.

What I liked:
Since I prefer to be positive when I can, I'll start with what I liked about the book. I liked how every chapter began with a Bible verse that foreshadowed what the upcoming chapter would be about. I also liked how the book intertwined religious aspects, constantly referencing Kate's gratitude to God for getting her through each trying time of her life. I also enjoyed hearing the story of Jon & Kate prior to their show on TLC. In short, they struggled to have kids, and underwent fertility treatments in order to get pregnant with the twins and later the sextuplets. At the beginning of the book, it was hard to imagine this was the same Kate who I watched on television so often. In the first few chapters, I felt she genuinely expressed her gratitude toward Jon for his patience during her tribulations at getting pregnant both times, as well as other sincere remarks regarding other events in her life up to that point. The book talked extensively about how many volunteers were required, for at least up to one year regularly, to help the Gosselin's get through each day. I found it remarkable that they were able to make it through some very trying times financially and how there were so many generous people donating their money, time, or supplies. I kept trying to put myself in their shoes, and I can only imagine how difficult it would have been accepting people's generosity. I would feel so guilty taking all those donations, but at the same time, it was so wonderful that people were reaching out. I think the Gosselin's truly needed those donations, and I'm not judging them at all for accepting them – I'm sure they had no choice! I was overwhelmed just reading their story about their financial and emotional struggles. One thing is very clear to me – Kate loves her children. The book was also well written. It had a nice flow, and I had a very easy time reading it and getting right back into it each time. It also took me just 5 days to read.

What I Didn't Like:
As I was getting ready to write this blog entry, I was examining the outside of the book and happened to notice that the book was categorized as: Religion/Christian Life/Family. I found this very ironic considering the recent events in their life. Kate talked extensively in the novel about how God gave her strength through this and that, and how Jon was her rock, but how much of that was real? Trying to look at it strictly from the book's point of view, and not the show, I did at first think I had it all wrong in the beginning of the novel. Kate, at first, seemed quite selfless. However, as the book went on, her true self began to shine – her demanding, abrasive, impatient, selfish self. I also wondered what part of the book Jon took part in, since it was written in Kate's voice and from her perspective throughout, yet his name was on the book as the author.

In the end, knowing what the outcome of this life of "thriving" with multiples was, I felt sad, mostly for the children, that this life quickly fizzled out. As I sat here writing this, a commercial came on TLC announcing the series finale of Jon & Kate Plus 8. Just watching that commercial also made me feel sad – sad for those kids, and sad for a marriage that seemed to dissolve so quickly and easily. If I would have read this book a year ago, hearing how strong Kate supposedly is in her faith in God, I would have never expected their marriage to end. If you had once been a fan of the show like me, I think you can continue to live your life just fine without having read this book. It doesn't change my thoughts or opinions about the situation this family is going through, it just makes me feel worse. I give this book 2.5 stars out of 5.

Next up – For One More Day by Mitch Albom.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Coal Run by Tawni O’Dell

I'm always curious about how readers choose the books they read. That's one of the first questions I'll ask a fellow reader – "What made you want to read this?" So, how do you pick your next book? Do you judge a book by its cover, and pick up the cute/interesting/neat-looking novel? Do you ask around for recommendations, and make your selection based on the feedback you receive from your fellow readers? Or, do you search some of the well-known bestsellers lists online to make the choice for your next big read? Perhaps a combination of all these things? I did none of these methods when selecting Tawni O'Dell's Coal Run. In fact, my reason for choosing this book was simply because I had read O'Dell's first book, made famous by Oprah and her Book Club. That first book was called Back Roads. I chose to read that one because O'Dell is actually from my hometown in rural Pennsylvania. When she came out with Coal Run, I knew I had to get it.

I liked how Coal Run began with a look at main character Ivan's childhood in a small, rural western PA coal town. The first few pages were spent revealing a tragedy endured by this small town, when the local coal mine, Gertie, exploded killing many of the local miners. Among the victims was Ivan's father. (Not to worry, that bit of fact is not a spoiler by any means!) After the first few pages regarding his childhood, the story fast forwards to a week in the life of narrator Ivan. The rest of the story is spent revealing little secrets about Ivan's past, from his life as a famous Penn State football player, to his career-shattering injury, to his present day life as a former-local-hero-turned-alcoholic. I found bits and pieces of the story moving and also humorous. I liked Ivan's passion for Crystal, an acquaintance who was nearly beaten to death by her husband. I also enjoyed having a perspective of a male narrator – I don't believe I've read a book in the past with a male telling me the story! His perspective alone provided some humor. I really enjoyed the Penn State reference, being an alum myself! Also, what I like about O'Dell's writing is that it's very relatable for me – in the last two books she's written, they have taken place in western PA towns similar to the one I grew up in. Also, I'm a coal miner's daughter and I honestly had a hard time reading the detailed account at the beginning of book – in fact, it brought tears to my eyes at times.

What I didn't like about the storyline was the lack of drama. I had hoped for more elaboration on Ivan's well-kept secret. I had also wanted to hear more about what was going to happen to the Raynor family, the same family Crystal was married in to. There was no elaboration on his "relationship" with Chastity either. I felt like in the end, I was wanting more, but it was all over. I'm also not entirely sure I understood what the book was supposed to portray – perhaps the troubled life of a former all-star college athlete? I'm sure it was deeper than that and I just missed it.

Out of 5 stars, I would give this book 2.5!

Next up – drum roll…. – Multiple Blessings by Jon & Kate Gosselin!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl

Well it's been awhile since I posted here. You can thank a month full of weddings and a move from one state to another for that! It took me WAY too long to get through this book, and not because it wasn't good either. In fact, I loved it! Thanks to my lengthy bus ride to work, I was finally able to finish it this week. Below is my review:

I stumbled across Shauna Reid's blog about 8 months ago. Shortly after I started following her blog, I noticed that she was coming out with her first book. Being the book lover that I am, and a big fan of her blog, I had to buy it. I actually ordered it from the UK, b/c it wasn't available in the US yet and I HAD to have it. As I've already mentioned, I LOVED this book! I honestly felt like Shauna wrote this book for me. The same weight loss struggles she'd had, I've had. I loved how candid she was about her weight loss journey. I was moved by her story of growing up while living in Australia, with constant critiques from her mother regarding her weight – something I can totally relate to! As she talked about her lifestyle as a 300+ lbs 20-something female, I could totally relate. While I've never been that heavy, I could fully understand her experiences with not wanting to do certain things because of how she looked. She even went so far as to make a list of things she'd do when she was skinny, which she ticks off throughout the novel. She talked about how one time her friends got all dressed up to go out, and how she had nothing to wear, and began to feel fat and gross, and so at the last minute she opted out – definitely something I've done on many occasions. At many points at the beginning of the memoir, I had tears stinging my eyes, simply because of the realization that there are other people out there who can relate to a 'fat-girl' way of life. Shauna spelled it out so well. This book was so inspiring and I would recommend it to anyone – from the skinny-minis to those who've struggled with weight loss as well. I think it's important to understand how debilitating a life of obesity can be – it's more than just the physical aspect of being overweight – it's all the emotional trials that go along with it.

Next up on the 2009 Book List is Tawni O'Dell's Coal Run. I will try very hard to have a post on here before I finish that book – life is slowly starting to normalize now that I've moved and am getting settled in to the new place! Take care everyone!

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