- Orlando, FL, USA
- member since August 24, 2009
“Review originally posted here: http://bit.ly/18qkyEU
Let me make something clear. I don't like writing negative book reviews. I'm sorry Scholastic, you're a great publisher, a favorite of mine since I was a child. I gave the last review I wrote for you, Better To Wish, 5 out of 5 stars....”
“Review originally posted here: http://bit.ly/18qkyEU
Let me make something clear. I don't like writing negative book reviews. I'm sorry Scholastic, you're a great publisher, a favorite of mine since I was a child. I gave the last review I wrote for you, Better To Wish, 5 out of 5 stars. To the author, I'm sorry also. I could never write a book, so you at least have better writing talent than I do. However, I did not enjoy this book. AT ALL. I actually stopped reading for about a week because I just could not force myself to read this. Somehow I prevailed, mostly because I'm doing a group reading challenge and I didn't want to let my teammates down.
I'm trying to analyze and determine why it is that I don't like this book.Was it because it was Young Adult? That can't be it, because I have rated many Young Adult books between three and five stars. Was it because it was a paranormal romance? Eh, it's not my favorite genre, but I do have a soft-spot for ghosts. I don't feel like the fact that a ghost was a love interest ruined the book, at all. So what could it be? I think it really just boils down to the writing. It was almost like the book was written by someones mother who was trying to convince her teenage daughters that she can be cool. She obviously failed miserably. Here are some examples of times I shook my head throughout the book:
"The shirtless guy riding on the mower checks us out as we pull into the gravel driveway. He is maybe a year older than me, and as tan as a muffin, with longish blond hair sweaty on his shoulders. He reminds me of a border collie."
LMBO, really? REALLY? He was "tan as a muffin"? What kind of muffin would that be? Blueberry? Chocolate? I don't even think my grandma ever described a man as being "tan as a muffin". Who says that?? And this is supposed to be a 16-year-old girl talking. I'm not even going to go into the border collie comment.
"He's wearing a Dallas Cowboys T-shirt today, I see from way up here. I grab my glasses off my desk to inspect closer."
She had to grab her glasses to checkout a guy. Oh wait, she didn't check him out, she "inspected" him.
"What a fair-weather friend Gertie's turning out to be."
Look Lois, no teenager says "fair-weather friend". Did the author write this book while watching The Golden Girls and taking her arthritis medication?
"In the front parlor there are about a million copies of her book for sale. It's called What a Girl Saw and Heard of the Battle. Maybe I ought to buy a copy. Sixteen dollars? Forget it."
I usually love first-person narratives. However, the main character's mind is so simple. She thinks nothing deep. This is basically the complexity of her thoughts. The reader gains nothing by having insight into the main character's personal thoughts and feelings.
""Oh Hello!" You're the daughter of that new couple running Coolspring Inn," she says, clapping her hands as if she's smashing gnats."
How exactly does one clap their hands as if smashing gnats?
"We yammer like magpies, and I tell her everything I know about Nathaniel."
She and her friend not only "yammered", but did so as if they were magpies.
Okay, so I could go on and on. At this point, I'm 25% into the book. This could take all day. So, what it comes down to is this book was torture to read. It could have been good... the Civil War is an era that has always intrigued me as well as haunted houses. Unfortunately, the writing put up a block that stopped me from enjoying this book at all. 1 out of 5 stars. Sorry.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Scholastic in exchange for an honest review.”
“As I was reading this book I kept thinking "how am I going to describe this to my blog followers?" Honestly, I'm still not sure. There's so many things that happen that I want to tell you about, but I can't because I don't want to spoil it. There's lots of surprises and little twists throughout...”
“As I was reading this book I kept thinking "how am I going to describe this to my blog followers?" Honestly, I'm still not sure. There's so many things that happen that I want to tell you about, but I can't because I don't want to spoil it. There's lots of surprises and little twists throughout the book so I'm going to give you a basic breakdown of the characters as they are in the beginning and sort of give a description of the book through describing them.
Brooke and Alex- Brooke is a hardworking single mom, her son Alex hasn't been feeling well and Brooke just knows there's something wrong. Brooke and Alex live with Pastor Jim and his wife, Shirley.
Pastor Jim- Blind pastor of a small congregation of only about twenty.
Charlie- Pastor Jim's adult son, due to a complication at birth he has never spoke. Best friend of 5-year-old Alex.
Carla- Brooke's best friend trying to overcome her addiction to alcohol. Carla is haunted by her past.
Macey Lewis- A pediatric oncologist at the local hospital. She is one of the best and devoted to her job.
Kaitlyn- A nurse at the hospital and good friend of Macey.
Zach Norman- Conceited doctor at the hospital, ex-boyfriend of Kaitlyn, and friend of Macey.
Kenneth- A mysterious new carpenter in town, strange things often seen as miracles seem to happen around him.
What I really liked about this book is that this book focuses on multiple characters rather than just one. There's really no main character. However, where in some books having so many characters at the forefront of the story may seem confusing (at least to me, you guys know I'm easily confused) the author did a great job at highlighting the stories of each character, making them all seem like individuals (rather than variations of each other), and weaving their lives together nicely. The story line was very clear and well-written.
I really liked the mystery element surrounding the character of Kenneth, the carpenter. Who is Kenneth? I think it's obvious right off the bat that Kenneth is some divine force. In the author interview in the back of the book when asked, "Who is Kenneth?" William Sirls answered, "Kenneth is an instrument of God's glory. I've heard readers call him an angel, a prophet, Jesus, and even God himself. One of them is correct." Honestly, I never thought he was anything but Jesus until I read the interview. I can now see him in the role of all the others, but since his occupation was in the field of carpentry my mind went straight to Jesus. Whoever he is, the scenes with him truly are special.
The motto throughout this book is "only believe". Those two words pop up everywhere and Kenneth is constantly telling characters to "only believe" right up until the big miracle at the end. There's lots of miracles in this book, but the end is amazing. I just love how everything is wrapped up so nicely. The author seemed to not leave any detail out that I can think of. Even a minor character is caught up with in the end and I'm curious to know if we will see this story continued through him. William Sirls storytelling is both simple and intricate all at the same time. His storytelling is very thorough without being overwhelming, wordy, or burdensome.
I can honestly say that the only downfall to this book is that it was hard to read at times for me personally. As a mother of a five-year-old little boy, the last quarter of the book pertaining to Alex was extremely difficult emotionally. This is the first book I've read in a long time that was a true tearjerker. Often when I'm reading a book I think, "oh, that's sad" but in this book I felt sad. There's a lot of emotional ups and downs in the book. Both amazing things and upsetting things happen. I love that the characters are so human in dealing with these things.
To wrap it up- because I can't talk anymore without giving all the wonderful surprises found in this book away, I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. As someone who usually sticks to cheery Christian romances, I wasn't sure how much I'd like this book. It's not a romance, but I found that a bit of a relief. At times it was a struggle because some of the content is heavy, but it was very true-to-life and I feel like sad and/or challenging books really help me grow. When I think back, some of my all-time favorite books were emotionally heavy. We The Living by Ayn Rand, She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath- just to name a few.
You know, it's really almost like Heavenly Father is placing these books in my life for a reason. This is the second book that by sheer luck I've been asked to read for review that I wouldn't have picked up on my own. The first was Daughter of Jerusalem by Joan Wolf and now this one. I'm really fortunate to have had the random opportunities to read these books. I hope that others will be as blessed by these stories as me.
I have five SIGNED(!!) paperback copies of The Reason to give away. What makes this giveaway so special is that the books will actually be sent to you directly from the author and of course, he's so kindly offered to sign them. Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below and the winner will be randomly selected. US addresses only, please.
“When Aspen Courtland's twin brother, Austin, is declared MIA while serving in Afghanistan she doesn't believe her brother is MIA or "presumed dead". With the aid of his tracking dog, Talon, and a slew of his combat buddies and other military personnel she travels to Djibouti to determine what has...”
“When Aspen Courtland's twin brother, Austin, is declared MIA while serving in Afghanistan she doesn't believe her brother is MIA or "presumed dead". With the aid of his tracking dog, Talon, and a slew of his combat buddies and other military personnel she travels to Djibouti to determine what has happened to him. There's so much going on in this book, but that is basically the driving force behind the story line.
This book was really overwhelming. It was non-stop action and not in a good way. It never settled down or had moment in between the action where the reader is able to get to know the characters. I was so confused the whole time while reading this book. One problem was that I couldn't keep track of all the characters. Half way through the book I discovered that what I thought was two separate (minor) characters were actually one character. This is because every character has several names they go by. First name, last name, and nick name. Some even have alternate identities added to the mix. I admit, I didn't read the first book. However, I don't think that was why I couldn't keep up. The first book in the series, Trinity, appears to focus on a character only mentioned a few times in this book and this story is totally separate from that one.
I also felt like the characters were all either very distinct stereotypes or were all placed in the book to serve one very definite purpose and those characters had no interactions outside of whatever served their purpose. For that reason, many of the characters came off as very one-dimensional to me. It was also very dark and violent. This is the first book I've read where the overall subject matter involved the military, so that's probably typical for this sort of book, but it wasn't really for me. Especially, for a Christian book the overall outlook of this book was rather grim. Which brings me to another point- this book didn't incorporate the religious aspect very much.
I also had no idea who was the bad guy. First we're hoping to find/save Austin, then he is running away from those trying to save him/shooting at people including his own sister (I think- like I said I was confused, but this is how the story appeared to me), then Austin is sort of helping his sister when she's in a dangerous position, then he's hiding from her again and maybe helping smuggle "yellowcake" or something??? Then, suddenly he's helping find Aspen and he's the good guy again and despite being declared "dead" by the government and having a top-secret job and new identity he's back in Texas chilling with his friends and family?? Honestly, I couldn't understand why Aspen still wanted her brother in her life. He has issues.
At the end the story doesn't really seem to explain much. I didn't understand how all these military-types were (1) able to go on whatever mission they chose (for example, help Aspen find her brother) and (2) travel to Texas at the end to hang out together or just stop working for the military (the author never specifies what they all are doing in Texas). I guess I don't have a full-understanding of how the military works, but not much about that was really explained. I was left with a lot of questions.
I am giving Talon 2 out of 5 stars because it was not a very enjoyable reading experience for me. I'm unsure if I'll read the first or third book, though I have a feeling they might be a better.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Barbour Publishing, Inc. in exchange for an honest review.
“First let me just say, wow. I can't even gather my thoughts in a coherent manner to write the beautiful review I want to give this book. I'd first just like to say thank you so much to Worthy Publishing and Joan Wolf for providing me with a free copy of this book to read and for allowing me the...”
“First let me just say, wow. I can't even gather my thoughts in a coherent manner to write the beautiful review I want to give this book. I'd first just like to say thank you so much to Worthy Publishing and Joan Wolf for providing me with a free copy of this book to read and for allowing me the honor of participating in the Daughter of Jerusalem blog tour. I'm not trying to suck up (lol), but this book has truly been such a blessing in my life. When I was first asked to participate in the blog tour- this is my first one- I thought "wow, this will really be awkward if I don't like the book!". Thankfully, that wasn't a problem at all. Not only did I like the book, but I LOVED the book.
Daughter of Jerusalem is the story of Mary Magdalene, who is probably one the top five most famous women from the Bible. I'm thinking maybe Eve and the other Mary are the top two. So anyways, the book begins during Mary's childhood as she is being brought to live in the home of her Aunt Leah, who resides with Lord Benjamin- a wealthy man in the city of Magdala. At the home of Lord Benjamin, Mary and Lord Benjamin's son, Daniel, fall in love. They eventually earn the blessings of Lord Benjamin to marry. However, Lord Benjamin is a ssssssss-snake and has other plans for Mary. Thanks to her beauty he can receive a large bride price for her and that's what he does. She is forced to marry a man who she doesn't know, nor is in love with. From there, she enters into an affair which her new husband agrees to for business reasons. Mary is definitely ashamed of herself and doesn't know how her sins could ever be forgiven. Which brings us to Jesus.
Let me just stop there to say, the book was GREAT before Jesus arrives on the scene. But, when Jesus arrives it's like this beautiful moment and I just couldn't put the book down from there. I mean, OH MY GOODNESS. It was awesome. Words don't even describe how much I loved this part of the book. Literally, I don't even know how to describe it in fancy-blog-review-ways. It's just like, hearing a first person account- even if it was fictionalized- of Jesus as he walked on the earth and among regular people, like you and I... it was such a gift. Reading Mary's experiences and life as a follower of the true Messiah was an inspiring and truly uplifting experience for me.
I don't know how historically or Biblically accurate the book is. I am far from a Biblical scholar, but I know Mary is often portrayed and said to be a prostitute. In this book she is not, she is a woman who has sinned- yes- but not a hooker. I really loved that. I think it's safe to assume that because of the time the Bible was written in, like Eve before her, Mary M. probably got a bad rap just because she was a woman. But, again I'm not scholar in this area.
Whether accurate or not, this book is truly beautiful and I must say that I just love that it's told in a first person narrative. I didn't know if I'd like this book because I've only had so-so experiences with Biblical Fiction in the past, but thanks to this book I'll be hungrily devouring more from this author and genre. This book gets 5 out of 5 stars!
I was provided with a free copy of this book courtesy of Worthy Publishing in exchange for an honest review.”
“Relatively Dead is about Abigail who has just moved to the Boston-area with her boyfriend. She goes on a house tour one day and begins seeing what can only be described as flashes of the past. Not only does she see them, but she feels what the people in her visions are going through whether it be...”
“Relatively Dead is about Abigail who has just moved to the Boston-area with her boyfriend. She goes on a house tour one day and begins seeing what can only be described as flashes of the past. Not only does she see them, but she feels what the people in her visions are going through whether it be sorrow, joy, or whatever. With the help of her new friend, Ned, she sets out to find who these people are and what the visions mean to her life.
I can't really decide how I feel about this book. There wasn't anything wrong with it other than I feel like something was left out or I missed something. I'm just not satisfied with the outcome or lack of explanation about why Abigail sees these things or why these people and events were showing themselves to her. I have a hard time even classifying this book as a mystery, even though Sheila Connolly usually writes in the cozy mystery genre. It's like, sure there were mysterious elements there, but they really didn't propel the book. Abigail does spend a big part the book trying to solve the issues at hand, but it just didn't have the tensity of "this needs to be solved" like most mysteries do. This book could have actually been really great if there was more background story about the people in her visions.
Sheila Connolly is kind of a so-so author to me, but I do think this book was a little better than the other two that I read from her. When I say so-so, I just mean she's a good author and storyteller, but for some reason I never really make a connection with her characters. The other books I read from her were One Bad Apple (Orchard Mystery #1) and Through A Glass, Deadly (A Glassblowing Mystery #1) which she wrote under the name Sarah Atwell. When I read those books I didn't realize that both authors were the same person, but I read them close together and remember thinking both main characters seemed like the same person. So, it makes perfect sense both authors are the same person.
So, I don't know, I'm giving this book 3 out of 5 stars even though I am leaning more towards 2 stars. But, I'm going to give that extra 'pity star' because I'm just nice like that and this book wasn't horrible and it did have an unique premises, I just wish it was executed in a slightly more intriguing manner.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Beyond The Page in exchange for an honest review.”
“Once Upon a Prince is the first in a new series by Rachel Hauck called The Royal Wedding Series. This book tells the stories of Susanna Truitt from Georgia and Prince Nathaniel who lives in the fictional country of Brighton. The Prince is on vacation in St. Simons Island, Georgia when he and...”
“Once Upon a Prince is the first in a new series by Rachel Hauck called The Royal Wedding Series. This book tells the stories of Susanna Truitt from Georgia and Prince Nathaniel who lives in the fictional country of Brighton. The Prince is on vacation in St. Simons Island, Georgia when he and Susanna accidentally meet and become interested in each other. Both of their lives are very complicated and neither are willing- at first- to act on their feelings for each other. This is mostly due to the fact that it's actually against the law for a Brightonian king to marry a foreigner.
This book was very cute. Sometimes a little too cute, but it's forgiven. Any book where a woman literally meets Prince Charming is going to be a bit more cutesy than other romances. I did feel the author did a good job at keeping the story as believable as possible. The characters were also very likable. I loved that this book had a great message about not losing faith in God's Plan for you. No matter how many challenges came her way, Susanna always trusted in The Lord and relied on Him for the answers and to pull her out of the darkness. I also loved that Susanna and Nate prayed together twice during the book. I have never seen that in a Christian romance before, which now that I think of it is odd.
This book was full of great Christian inspiration, but I wanted to share a few excerpts that really touched me:
"Nate, don't you ever consider who you are and why God called you? Susanna turned to him, sitting cross-legged, touching knees to knees. "I used to climb out of my bedroom window, sit on the roof and state at the stars, thinking, 'I'm Susanna Truitt, born on St. Simons, for some purpose. I'm not an accident.'"
That quote is amazing. A great reminder. No one is an accident. We're all here for a purpose, known only to God for now.
Nate: "Let them do their worse. We did nothing wrong."
Susana: "But we gave the appearance of wrong. The people depend on you to do what's right. To put aside your own desires and will. That's just for everyday situations. But you have a political entanglement that requires you do what's right for millions of people. If you've lost their trust, you've lost them. You've lost your ability to influence. So yeah, we did do something wrong.
I love this one. It's a great allegory for how Christians have to remember that we are representatives for Christ and for other Christians around the world. People are waiting for us to do something wrong and we have a responsibility to always uphold Christian morals and values. Just like Susanna says to Nate in regards to the citizens of his country, "If you've lost their trust, you've lost them. You've lost your ability to influence." As a Christian how can we influence those who aren't Christian if we're not doing what's right?
So, those are two parts of the book that really resonated with me. I'm giving Once Upon a Prince 3 out of 5 stars. Even though I did like it and obviously loved the messages found in it's pages... there were a few thing that hold me back from giving it that extra star:
1.) I did not make an emotional connection to any of the characters. I liked the characters, yes. But, I didn't feel for them or care for them like in books that I give 4 or 5 stars or to.
2.) I feel like the book should have been a bit more tense. There was a lot of political drama, but I don't feel like the proper amount of tension and stress was reflected in the book. I understand it's a Christian fiction, so it is lighter reading, but a bit more tension would have served the book well and made it a bit more of a page-turner.
3.) As said above, for some reason it wasn't a page-turner for me. I would put it down and not really think about it. I'm not sure why this was, because the author is very talented and this was a nice romance. But, for some reason it just didn't grab me.
This book was still an enjoyable book and I do recommend it for anyone who is looking for a cute, light read. This would be great summer reading. A nice book to read on the beach or at the pool.”
“Um, wow. Okay. *Ahem*
Well... let me start by saying that when I requested this book on NetGalley I actually thought it was a Christian romance. Oops. Why did I think it was a Christian romance? Because all Christian romances seem to have a woman in period clothing standing in the...”
“Um, wow. Okay. *Ahem*
Well... let me start by saying that when I requested this book on NetGalley I actually thought it was a Christian romance. Oops. Why did I think it was a Christian romance? Because all Christian romances seem to have a woman in period clothing standing in the wilderness, prairie, or other extremely rural locale on the cover. Like this book does. Don't judge a book by the cover, right? I learned my lesson the hard way. Well, I realized once I started reading it that it wasn't Christian, which is my fault not the author's or publisher's fault and I read secular books too, so I had no problem continuing on with it and I'm not going to judge the book by my mistake.
In all reality I should have just gave it up, though. This book was so WEIRD. I cannot even tell you what it was about because it was so strange and confusing. I don't know if it could have been that the way the publisher put together the eGalley, with no paragraph breaks or section breaks which made it confusing or that the story was so boring that my mind kept wandering... I don't know, probably a mixture of both. Without any warning that the we were entering a new paragraph or even section which meant a change of time, setting, character focus, etc I got sooo confused. Someone should fix that. Just saying. But, probably even if the eGalley was constructed properly I likely wouldn't have liked the book.
I'll try to describe it... um, a country girl's sister marries a rich guy with some sort of British title which I can't remember, but he has a really odd name BenRuin. So, the sister is sleeping with The Duke of Darlington, but the Duke is sleeping with everyone, I guess?? And so, people are getting mad at him because he's so... sharing... or whatever so he has to runaway to the country and hide at the main character's house posing as a woman??
Okay, the LOVE INTEREST is a bisexual transvestite. I don't know if that's a spoiler or not, but I might as well warn you in advance. I guess, you realize that the male love interest known as The Duke of Darlington and Lady Rose are all one person. That's not really a revelation. But, then in the middle of the book the main character's sister is all, "hey, you know Jude (The Duke/Lady Rose) sleeps with dudes right?" and he's also sort of hitting on the MC's brother. I suppose one can assume that if a man enjoys dressing up like a lady, he's probably also not totally straight, but I thought maybe this was like a Malice Mizer thing. So strange! I have never read a romance, even if it were secular, with a cross-dressing and sometimes gay love interest before. I just could not wrap my head around it.
After 70% I just had to skim it and skip over the last chapter or two completely and go to the epilogue which almost put me to sleep. I don't know, guys. I did not like this one. I am giving it 1 out of 5 stars which I haven't done in a LONG time.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Destiny Romance in exchange for an honest review.”
“Pigs in Clover is the hilarious tale of Simon Dawson and his wife, Debbie, who decide to move to the country and be almost totally self-sufficient on their small farm in Devon, England. Prior to their life as small-time farmers they lived in London and worked as a real estate agent (Simon) and an...”
“Pigs in Clover is the hilarious tale of Simon Dawson and his wife, Debbie, who decide to move to the country and be almost totally self-sufficient on their small farm in Devon, England. Prior to their life as small-time farmers they lived in London and worked as a real estate agent (Simon) and an attorney (Debbie).
This book was so wonderful, it was a truly enjoyable read. I can really not even write a long review about it because there was really nothing that I didn't like. I loved reading about country life and their struggles. Simon's relationship with his animals was definitely entertaining and I loved the parts with their friend Ziggy. This was a wonderfully entertaining memoir. Never a boring moment. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes it was stressful, sometimes it was sad, Simon did a great job of making the reader feel the emotion right through the pages as if they were right there on the smallholding with him. No matter what was happening in the book, the atmosphere remained light and chatty. This is a great pleasure read and I am giving it 5 out of 5 stars.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Watkins Publishing Limited in exchange for an honest review.”
“Taylor's Gift is the story of the Storch family and most importantly their teenage daughter, Taylor. During a family trip taken spring break, Taylor passed away in a devastating skiing accident. Her parents were asked if they would like to donate Taylor's organs and their incredible decision has...”
“Taylor's Gift is the story of the Storch family and most importantly their teenage daughter, Taylor. During a family trip taken spring break, Taylor passed away in a devastating skiing accident. Her parents were asked if they would like to donate Taylor's organs and their incredible decision has led them to a calling of promoting organ donation, which brought about his heart-wrenching memoir.
As a mother this book was very hard to read. Taylor's mother, Tara, especially was consumed by grief to the point where days would pass without her even realizing it. I think I would be much the same as her. Taylor's father, Todd, while still grief-stricken sprung into action creating a website, a foundation, a memorial garden, and doing interviews all to promote "Taylor's Gift" of organ donation. The Storch's relied on their faith and support of friends and family to get through their darkest hours and were truly inspiring. The beautiful outcome of such a horrific event is that Todd and Tara were actually able to meet some of the amazing people who received Taylor's organs and see how incredibly their lives were changed thanks to her gift.
I am giving this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was difficult and very sad to read at times, but the strength of the family and Todd and Taylor's sheer honesty about their grief and darkest hours really keep the reader interested. If you aren't already an organ donor this book will definitely inspire you to register. This book made me proud to say I am already registered as an organ donor. Another thing this book inspires is an amazing belief in God. The Storch's and their "of course" moments were breathtaking. The "of course" moments were basically crazy coincidences that would have to have been orchestrated by a greater power. This book will definitely strengthen your faith in God.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Baker Publishing Group (Revell) in exchange for an honest review.”
“In Turkey I Am Beautiful is the travel memoir of Brenda Shanahan about his year spent traveling Turkey, including the obscure and often scary eastern region and living in Istanbul while working at a carpet shop. His views of Turkey and the adventures he had while traveling there are humorous,...”
“In Turkey I Am Beautiful is the travel memoir of Brenda Shanahan about his year spent traveling Turkey, including the obscure and often scary eastern region and living in Istanbul while working at a carpet shop. His views of Turkey and the adventures he had while traveling there are humorous, often times reminding me of memoirist David Sedaris. Like Sedaris, Shanahan can be equally crude and offensive. Many times throughout the book he actually makes himself seem ignorant and heartless, making light of things like the death of babies during the Armenian Genocide.
I didn't find the author very likable for several other reasons. Here's the reasons why:
1. Constant moaning about hangovers. This is a personal pet peeve of mine and maybe not entirely the authors fault. But, he just seems so immature. He parties almost every night while he's in Istanbul, getting drunk until the early hours of the morning and then the next day whines on and on about how he's so hungover. Grow up!
2. He uses too many curse words. Expand your vocabulary!
3. Insensitive and makes light of serious things.
4. He claims he's so poor, yet he has enough money to take a year off from life to travel around Turkey. Granted he does seem very frugal, but all the expenses of traveling for a year have to be astronomical. Even while he was living in the carpet shop, he still had a home in Australia which is going to have bills like rent or a mortage, I'm guessing. Not to mention, he seems to only eat out and he often buys the meal for his friend too. Plus, all the partying and drinking. Cha-ching!
5. He seems to be down on Christians. If you're not Christian, that's fine but that doesn't mean you can't still be tolerant. He also makes a rude comment about Christian Rock being the worse type of music he's ever heard. Again, this is his opinion and he's entitled to it, but the way I see it is if he's not Christian then Christian music isn't his to judge. It wasn't made for him and he's not Christian he's not going to "get" it. Plus, if you took away the lyrics and played just the instrumental track you'd never be able to tell it apart from most mainstream rock. He then goes on to say that after hearing Muslim Rock he's determined that that was even worse. Again, he's not Muslim so it's not his place to judge religious music not meant for him to understand and relate to.
The author also has a very long-winded writing style. His sentences usually have so many commas and are so long that by the end of the sentence I forgot what he was talking about or didn't understand the point he was trying to make. Despite this, he did keep me turning the pages. His travels were definitely interesting. From being caught in the middle of a gunfight to illegally swimming to Armenia. As I mentioned before he is also funny, not laugh-out-loud-while-reading funny, but enough to make you think "ha!" in your mind. The most interesting of his travels to me was definitely eastern Turkey. Despite being told that these cities were dangerous and there was nothing to see there by multiple people, he went to see for himself and was pleasantly surprised for the most part. During his time in the east, he often found himself in some tense situations which made for some intriguing reading. I did find the most boring parts of the book the portions based in Istanbul.
The author actually doesn't make Turkey sound like a place I'd like to visit. The government sounds scary and the cities seem dirty and dangerous and its citizens- the way they're often characterized by the author- don't sound like people I'd really enjoy being around. He describes the Turkish people as being very pushy in both good and bad ways. But, it seems like when they were pushing their hospitality it was actually for their gain rather than the traveler's. Of course, most of these people were trying to sell something and were impoverished and desperate for money. I don't think the author actually set out to sell Turkey as a great vacation destination. He seemed to have been very honest and blunt in his descriptions which as a reader I can appreciate.
I truly love learning about other cultures and the wealth of information, put in an entertaining format, was definitely a saving grace for this book. Prior to reading this book, I honestly knew very little about Turkey. This book definitely expanded my knowledge and understanding of their culture, language, and politics. I love to learn and so I am giving this book 4 out 5 stars, despite the authors flaws. He does have good qualities like he's brave, open-minded (outside of religion), funny, and kind. Shanahan is a great storyteller and he really made me feel like I was traveling right next to him.
I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Melbourne University Publishing in exchange for an honest review.”