Monthly Archives: May 2013

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman *Review*

I have to admit, I have never read anything by Beth Hoffman before.  I had heard of her, yes. But even though I had heard good things about her writing I had never felt the need to pick up one of her books.  Boy has my mind been changed!

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Teddi Overman found her life’s passion for furniture in a broken-down chair left on the side of the road in rural Kentucky. She learns to turn other people’s castoffs into beautifully restored antiques, and eventually finds a way to open her own shop in Charleston. There, Teddi builds a life for herself as unexpected and quirky as the customers who visit her shop.  Though Teddi is surrounded by remarkable friends and finds love in the most surprising way, nothing can alleviate the haunting uncertainty she’s felt in the years since her brother Josh’s mysterious disappearance. When signs emerge that Josh might still be alive, Teddi is drawn home to Kentucky.  It’s a journey that could help her come to terms with her shattered family—and to find herself at last.  But first she must decide what to let go of and what to keep.

Looking for Me is a heartwarming novel full of southern charm.  Teddi is a strong independent woman with a heart of gold.  Even though she has been primarily alone since leaving home at the age of eighteen she has been blessed with a “family” of wonderful friends who love her and would do anything for her.

The cast of characters is one that instantly infected my heart and worked its way into each one of the chambers.  I totally fell in love with each and every one of them!  From old Kentucky friend Stella, to new Charleston friend Olivia, from crotchety but kind Albert to quirky Miz Poteet, I wanted my time with them to never end.

This novel has many elements to keep your interest (humor, mystery, drama) and I highly recommend you pick it up and give it a read!  4.5 stars

 

 

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne *Review*

When I first saw this book advertised on Shelf Awareness I knew I had to read it.    Leaving nothing to chance, I emailed the author and expressed my desire to read his memoir.  He kindly emailed back and a copy was soon on my doorstep.   I have a son that has Tourette’s so I knew I would be able to relate to what the author had went through.  And relate I did.  From Josh’s first wink/blink as a young boy to his tics becoming worse as he got older I could see my son in a lot of Josh’s moves.  Thankfully, my son’s syndrome isn’t nearly as bad or debilitating as Josh’s was.

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I appreciated Josh’s candor and humor not only when he talked about his Tourette’s, but also when he talked about his faith (and lack of.)  His empty feeling is understandable, especially with all he has went through with his Tourette Syndrome.

But Josh does not only discuss his Tourette’s and his Mormon religion, but his love of strength training and books as well.  It was the love of books that really pulled me in.  He starts off by talking about the first books he remembers reading and the bookmobile that he used to visit all the time.  When he talks about reading this book or that, I get chills, as I realize those were some of my favorite reads as well.  It almost feels like he’s a male starlet name dropping about all the celebrities he’s just seen during lunch at The Power Bar on Sunset.  Book giddiness could easily have set in.

The downside of this book is that, while I liked each of the topics the author talks about in his memoir, I never felt like I got enough of any one of them.  I really wanted him to dig deeper into each subject.  Into the nitty-gritty, the meat, the heart of each one and truly give me the thought-provoking experience I wanted.      3 stars

Today Josh is a librarian at the Salt Lake City Library, founder of a popular blog about books and weight lifting-and the proud father of four-year-old Max, who has already started to show symptoms of Tourette’s.

*Thank you Gotham Books and Josh Hanagarne for sending me a copy to review.

The Cooked Seed: A Memoir by Anchee Min *Review*

A memoir?  It felt more like an adventure novel to me!  Anchee Min, the author, comes to America on a student visa with $500 borrowed from an aunt and no English speaking skills whatsoever.  Memorizing a “speech”,  she convinces the Chinese government to give her a student visa to go to art school in the US.  She is so terrified that they will interrupt her and ask her a question in English that she hurries through her prepared recitation and miraculously gets her visa.  That’s when the adventure begins.

Ms. Min is 27 years old, in a foreign country and watching Sesame Street to learn English.  Without a command of the English language she finds it hard to get a job, make friends, and keep up in her classes.  She carries a dictionary with her wherever she goes and tries to look up every word the teacher writes on the blackboard.

She works very hard to make a life for herself in America with the ultimate goal of earning a green card.  She pushes herself and lives on very little, even living in a storage closet to save money!

I was in awe of Ms. Min’s determination.  As she becomes Americanized she still finds it hard to let go of the Chinese culture that is so deeply a part of who she is. At times I wanted to shake her and say “loosen up a little and enjoy life instead of working from sun up until sun down!”  But all the hard work has payed off for Ms. Min as she is now the author of several best selling books.  I really enjoyed this memoir that didn’t always read like a memoir.    4 stars

*Thank you Bloomsbury Press for sending me a copy to review