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Showing posts from November, 2009

Review: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress: A Memoir of Going Home by Rhoda Janzen is a sad story. It's a memoir wrapped around one moment: When her bipolar husband leaves her for Bob from While draped in sadness, the book is not a complete downer. Her marriage reads like a nightmare where she lost herself in the depths of supporting and tip toeing around her husband. While Janzen does have moments of peace and recovery, the book is penned less than three years after the split. Is it enough perspective to look back on events? I think so, though the theme of unhappiness and regret weighs on the book, as it should. Break ups are rough. I'm still bearing the aftershocks of a bad one from almost three years ago. Janzen's marriage lasted 15 years, and obviously didn't end amicably. The best parts are when Janzen writes about her parents, who are, as the title suggests, Mennonite (Janzen is no longer a strict member). These bits reminded me of growing up Catholic, a child

Brain Trust: Who reads this stuff?

Behold, Jailbait Zombie , which showed up in my mail last week. I get a shipment of these mysteries/thrillers/true crime books once a month, and I usually put them right into the "donation" bin. But this one caught my eye. First, the title: Jailbait Zombie . Then, the tag line: "She's young, she's hot, she's trouble...and she'd dying to get bitten." Um, what? My question to you is: Who reads this stuff? There's got to be an audience if these books keep showing up in my mail and on bookstore shelves. I'm not judging, either, if you do read these kinds of books. I've written twice about the interworkings of the romance novel industry (Sarah Wendell, my go-to-gal on all things romance publishing , said this book is not romance, not even paranormal or erotic. Yes, I asked her). Thoughts?

Review: Between Here and April

Between Here and April by Deborah Copaken Kogan is a book about choice. Elizabeth is a former war journalist who chooses to stay closer to home after her daughters are born. She is not happy -- her husband is working all hours, she's passing out at odd times, and she becomes obsessed with a first grade classmate, April, whose mother committed suicide and killed her two daughters -- April included -- with her. Elizabeth forces the issues of her husband's distance her and unhappiness as she interviews people who knew April and her mother, Adele. By making this a story about two women, Copaken Kogan shows how far and how far we have to go in terms of women and motherhood. Post partum depression wasn't a recognized illness in 1972, which is when Adele committed suicide. Adele saw a therapist, yes, but one who gave her valium to calm her nerves and zonk her out. Even PMS wasn't considered and excuse for being moody or depressed. Neither was giving up a career to stay at ho

Review: A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York

I finished Liz Robbin's A Race Like No Other: 26.2 Miles Through the Streets of New York on Saturday -- the day before the 40th running of the New York City Marathon . Her book details the 2007 running of the marathon, focusing on the front of the pack and a lot of people in between. The book is organized per mile, and laces the race's history through the runner stories. It's no small race, either -- it's run by over 40,000 people a year. The book is good, but not perfect. At times, the narrative wobbles, and Robbins repeats herself. But it's fascinating for a runner. I never gave much though to a race game plan before reading this book. Who knew I could create a run strategy, just like a basketball play? The book's also pricked up my interested in this year's race. I ran a 10k on Sunday , and kept checking Twitter for marathon updates at the post-race breakfast. I've been toying with the idea of running a marathon for some time now, and I might fin