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Showing posts from May, 2011

The Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

So, I read a review of this novel on the NY Times review blog/book review and thought that I would take a look at it. 

Bitter End is a "young adult" novel - I think mostly so because the protagonists are in high school. The main character is Alex, the middle of three girls whose mother died when Alex was young (but old enough to remember her at the same time). Alex's dad, also, unfortunately, checked out sometime before the events in this novel - he's emotionally unavailable and doesn't really pay attention to the girls, even though he generally provides the physical necessities to the girls. While she isn't close to her sisters, Alex is very close to her two best friends with whom she is planning a trip to Chicago. She eventually meets cole, the new guy in town, because she is his English tutor. They start dating and Alex is tremendously happy - cole seems to be the perfect guy. But things go downhill once Cole begins to get jealous and possesive.

Maybe it…

This Won't Hurt a Bit (and Other White Lies): My Education in Medicine by Michelle Au

I was really excited to hear that Michelle had a book coming out, particularly when I learned that it was a memoir about her time in medical school and how she balanced it with being a parent.  Michelle is the author of The Underwear Drawer, a popular blog that she updates pretty much everyday.  So I was super excited to see that she had a book coming out.

Michelle went to Columbia for law school and this memoir details her training in precise, exqusite detail that isn't too much to get into. She's also really funny. The book starts off, literally, with Michelle sticking her finger up a patient's butt in an attempt to get a stool sample.  It then proceeds to talk about her motivations in going to medical school, all the way through her medical training, intern years and residencies (including deciding to change residencies while pregnant and halfway through her previous residency). 

I loved Michelle's voice - she's down to earth, funny and honest.  She's brave…

Onward by Howard Schultz and Joanne Gordon

So, I spend time at Starbucks. Anyone who works with me or lives with me or knows me knows that.  So I was curious. I know about how Starbucks is supposed to be the evil coffee company that drives other, independent coffee houses out of business so i was curious to see how Howard Schultz, the current CEO, handled that. And he handled it poorly.

In 2000, Howard Schultz left the company to become chairman of the board; however in 2008, he returned to the position of CEO. The economy was tanking and so was Starbucks (which is no big surprise - I mean, people don't want to spend $2.00 for a cup of coffee when you can pay $1.00 for the same size coffee at the independent, fair trade, organic local coffee shop and the coffee is better!). This book is a business memoir, for lack of a better way of describing it and covers the period of time from 2007 to 2010. This is the period where Schultz retakes the helm as CEO and attempts to bring Starbucks through one of the worst recessions in r…

No Permanent Scars by Michael Hemery

I must disclose that I got this book for free as a review copy from LibraryThing... but don't let that scare you away. It's actually a really good, enjoyable read. This book is a non-fiction collection of essays that details the author's life. In essence, it is a memoir, but not one that is told necessarily as one continuous narrative.  Its stories jump from time period to time period in the author's life and aren't in chronological order.

I really enjoyed this book much more than I thought that i would. Lately, I've been reading a lot of memoirs, so I thought that I would be memoir'ed out, but this one actually gave me a lot energy.  I attribute that to how Hemery actually writes. The stories were short and written in elegant language, but they were still really richly done. It was almost like reading a novel. The people that i met were so memorable. I felt like I was there with Hemery listening to them as they spoke. For instance, Hemery spends a period …

The Color of Water by James McBride

This is a memoir written by McBride detailing his life, at the same time, it also serves to detail the story of his mother's life. James is one of 12 children who grew up the son of a black man and a white woman, living mostly in New York and New Jersey. His mother, Ruth, grew up in Suffolk, Virginia. Her family was a conservative, Jewish family where her father was a rabbi and her mother spoke only Yiddish. Ruth had a really tough childhood and adolescence that included everything from being sexually abused to having a black boyfriend (which was illegal in the South in the 30's and 40's and 50's, when this occurred) to having an unwanted and unplanned pregnancy.

I really, really liked this book.  It tells the stories of people in spare prose that is still magnificently poignant and the struggles that he had as a mixed race child that appeared black trying to deal with how his mother stuck out like a sore thumb in the predominantly black neighborhoods they grew up in…