Book Review for I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban

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Google Books summary for I Am Malala:

“When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.

On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. 

Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest nominee ever for the Nobel Peace Prize.

I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls’ education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.

I AM MALALA will make you believe in the power of one person’s voice to inspire change in the world.”

I recently read this book after seeing Malala Yousafzai on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Her story was so incredible just from the short interview on there that I knew I had to read the book. I was not disappointed.

I Am Malala starts out with the dramatic day that Malala was shot and the shooting itself. It then skips back in time and tells us the story of Malala’s family from before she was born. I found it all very fascinating, learning different things about her village in Pakistan and the struggles they’ve gone through. She dealt with things on a daily basis that I can’t even imagine. Osama Bin Laden even hid out in her tiny village at one point, although she never saw him with her own eyes.

I Am Malala is a real eye opener of all the things we take for granted. Where I come from and where I live now, women don’t have to cover their faces. They don’t have to have a man accompany them everywhere they go. They don’t have to guard what they say because there’s no such thing as freedom of speech for them. They don’t have to fight for the right to have an education just because they’re female.

Malala is an incredibly courageous young woman and her story is one that needs to be heard. Run, don’t walk, to your local library  or book store and read this book.

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Gone Girl: A Review

gone girl imageThe third book chosen in the Three Ladies and Their Babies book club was Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This was a selection full of twists and turns that left the reader wondering if and when the characters of the book were ever going to get back to “normal.”

Gone Girl is a suspense novel written from the alternating points of view of Nick Dunn and his wife, Amy. In the beginning, the reader is introduced to Amy through her diary entries. She is an interesting New Yorker who is full of life and waiting for love when Nick walks into her life. When they finally get reconnected after losing touch, they end up marrying. For a while, the marriage works, but before long, trouble creeps in. Amy seems to be a very accepting and forgiving wife, often sacrificing her own wants and needs to those of her husband. Nick, on the other hand, seems completely self-absorbed and uncaring of his wife’s needs as he drags her off to his Midwest hometown to care for his ailing parents. Then, on their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy disappears, leaving behind signs of a struggle. As Nick becomes the focus of police scrutiny and is hanged in the court of public opinion, we start to learn a little more about their marriage and Amy’s true personality comes to life. Is Amy really the victim of a violent abduction and possible murder at the hands of her husband or is something more going on here? Nick does not help his case much as he tells the reader of his bitterness toward his wife, discusses the shape of her skull, and blunders his way through interviews and interrogations. As the story unfolds and more details come to light, you’ll be kept on your toes trying to figure out where things are going.

I found this book to be very engaging. It did take a few chapters before I really got into it, but by part two, I was hooked. I had a hard time putting it down and found myself trying to sneak in a few pages anytime I had an extra minute or two. I really enjoyed it…until the last few pages. Without ruining it for you, I have to say that I did not like the ending. There were a couple of ways that I could have re-written it in my head. That being said, I’m a big fan of happy endings, and Flynn, herself, is quoted as saying, “I wrote the ending that was the most unsettling to me. I am a big fan of the ending of unease. To me it feels real and it feels unnerving. Because you may not know exactly what is going to happen next in Gone Girl World, but you know it’s not good.”

Overall, I found Gone Girl to be a very quick and intriguing read. It kept me double guessing myself and anxious to see what would happen next. I would give it a solid B, with points knocked off due to the ending, but it is most definitely a great summer book.

Book Club: Books 4, 5, & 6 Selections

The two day voting window for the polls for books 4-6 at Facebook are officially closed and I am pleased to announce the winning books! I will introduce them now with a description of each book as found on Goodreads.

Book Four (June 5 – June 19, discussion at Facebook on June 20):
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

518897When Victoria Leonard answers the phone in her Manhattan office, Caitlin’s voice catches her by surprise.  Vix hasn’t talked to her oldest friend in months.  Caitlin’s news takes her breath away–and Vix is transported back in time, back to the moment she and Caitlin Somers first met, back to the casual betrayals and whispered confessions of their long, complicated friendship, back to the magical island where two friends became summer sisters.

Caitlin dazzled Vix from the start, sweeping her into the heart of the unruly Somers family, into a world of privilege, adventure, and sexual daring.  Vix’s bond with her summer family forever reshapes her ties to her own, opening doors to opportunities she had never imagined–until the summer she falls passionately in love.  Then, in one shattering moment on a moonswept Vineyard beach, everything changes, exposing a dark undercurrent in her extraordinary friendship with Caitlin that will haunt them through the years.

As their story carries us from Santa Fe to Martha’s Vineyard, from New York to Venice, we come to know the men and women who shape their lives.  And as we follow the two women on the paths they each choose, we wait for the inevitable reckoning to be made in the fine spaces between friendship and betrayal, between love and freedom.

Book Five (June 21 – July 5, discussion at Facebook on July 6):
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

30868Clear-eyed and spirited, Taylor Greer grew up poor in rural Kentucky with the goals of avoiding pregnancy and getting away. But when she heads west with high hopes and a barely functional car, she meets the human condition head-on. By the time Taylor arrives in Tucson, Arizona, she has acquired a completely unexpected child, a three-year-old American Indian girl named Turtle, and must somehow come to terms with both motherhood and the necessity for putting down roots. Hers is a story about love and friendship, abandonment and belonging, and the discovery of surprising resources in apparently empty places.

Book Six (July 9 – July 23, discussion at Facebook on July 26):
The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

7788995Meet Pat. Pat has a theory: his life is a movie produced by God. And his God-given mission is to become physically fit and emotionally literate, whereupon God will ensure a happy ending for him — the return of his estranged wife Nikki. (It might not come as a surprise to learn that Pat has spent time in a mental health facility.) The problem is, Pat’s now home, and everything feels off. No one will talk to him about Nikki; his beloved Philadelphia Eagles keep losing; he’s being pursued by the deeply odd Tiffany; his new therapist seems to recommend adultery as a form of therapy. Plus, he’s being hunted by Kenny G!

In this enchanting novel, Matthew Quick takes us inside Pat’s mind, showing us the world from his distorted yet endearing perspective. As the award-winning novelist Justin Cronin put it: “Tender, soulful, hilarious, and true, The Silver Linings Playbook is a wonderful debut.”

A Review of Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

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If you’ve read any of our book club posts then you know that Midwives was the first book chosen. This was actually my selection. I was secretly hoping that Midwives would be the one out of my three choices that would win the vote and it did!

Midwives is a story about Sybil Danforth as told by her daughter Connie. Connie is telling us the story as an adult, but she was 14 during the time of this particular story. Sybil Danforth is a lay midwife and during one home birth she finds herself in a terrible situation where she takes desperate measures to save the life of a baby whose mother has seemingly passed away during childbirth. After the labor, doubts arise as to whether the mother was actually dead, which brings Sybil’s actions into question and we’re taken down the intense road of a criminal trial that sees Sybil Danforth at the center of it.

Right from the start I had a hard time putting Midwives down. Even though the story is told from the perspective of Sybil’s daughter, we’re not left feeling like we didn’t get enough information. Even knowing the premise of the book, I was in disbelief that Sybil was charged with the woman’s death. It seemed obvious to me that the woman, Charlotte, was dead when Sybil saved the baby and I felt that if I were in Charlotte’s position I would want my midwife to do everything she could to save my baby. As the story went on I got a better understanding of why Sybil was charged and also why there were so many doubts about Charlotte’s death, but I never personally thought Sybil should be found guilty. Bohjalian does a superb job of giving different perspectives. We’re shown the prejudices that many people had (and still have) about midwives and home birth, and we’re also shown the side of people who believe wholeheartedly in the practice of midwifery.

For me, this was an edge-of-your-seat story until the very last page. I know a lot of members of the book club agreed with me, while others enjoyed it, but weren’t crazy about it like I was. I’d love to tell you more of my thoughts on Midwives, but for fear of giving away any vital parts of the story, I will stop here. Please feel free to join Three Ladies and Their Babies: The Book Club at Facebook and join in our discussion of Midwives, as well as the book we’re currently reading, She’s Come Undone.

Book Club: Books 1, 2, & 3 Selections

The two day voting window for the first three book polls at Facebook are officially closed and I am pleased to announce our first three book selections. I will introduce them now with a description of each book as found on Goodreads.

Book One (April 16 – April 30, discussion at Facebook on May 1st): Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

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The time is 1981, and Sibyl Danforth has been a dedicated midwife in the rural community of Reddington, Vermont, for fifteen years. But one treacherous winter night, in a house isolated by icy roads and failed telephone lines, Sibyl takes desperate measures to save a baby’s life. She performs an emergency Caesarean section on its mother, who appears to have died in labor. But what if—as Sibyl’s assistant later charges—the patient wasn’t already dead, and it was Sibyl who inadvertently killed her?

As recounted by Sibyl’s precocious fourteen-year-old daughter, Connie, the ensuing trial bears the earmarks of a witch hunt except for the fact that all its participants are acting from the highest motives—and the defendant increasingly appears to be guilty. As Sibyl Danforth faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.

Book Two (May 2 – May 16, discussion at Facebook on May 17th): She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb.

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In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, and renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years.

Meet Dolores Price. She’s 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Stranded in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally orbits into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she’s determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before she really goes under.

Book Three (May 20 – June 3, discussion at Facebook on June 4th): Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

We’re all very excited to start reading the first book and hope you are as well. Enjoy!

Three Ladies and Their Babies: The Book Club

Books On Shelf In Bookshop

Have you ever read a really good book and thought, “I wish I could talk to someone else about this!” Of course you could tell someone about it, but you don’t want to give away the ending in case they ever want to read it themselves. Plus it’s far more fun to discuss a great book with someone who has already read it than to try and explain just what was so great about it to a person who hasn’t read it.

Well, we’ve had these thoughts. One of our own Three Ladies, Stephany, recently blogged about 35 things she wanted to accomplish before she was 35. Stephany mentioned how the idea of being in a book club was exciting to her. With the wonderful suggestion of one our readers, we decided to start a virtual book club!
We’ve decided that we’re going to use the following list of criteria to run the book club:

  1. The book club will be primarily located at Facebook, with an update here at the blog each time we finish a book and select a new book.
  2. Anyone will be allowed to join the book club, but you mut be approved by an admin (Either Stephany, Ashley, or Lisa). This is only so we can keep track of who joins when which is vital for book selection (see below).
  3. We will be selecting a new book every two weeks. If this becomes too much for everyone to handle, we may extend it in future. This is the goal time to get books read in, but we definitely understand how busy life can get, so don’t stress out if you can’t make the goal. Just read it in your own time and come back to the discussion once you’re finished.
  4. We will only be reading more current books. We’ve discussed it together and the general idea is that we’re not that interested in classic literature.
  5. Each member will get an opportunity to select a book. In the order they join, we will select a member every two weeks to present the group with 3 books. We will then make a poll on Facebook with those 3 books and members can pick which one of the three they’d like to read. The book that gets the most votes will win. If there is a tie, one of the Three Ladies will decide.
  6. There will be two weeks allowed to read the book, the day after the two week reading period, one of the Three Ladies will make a post on Facebook opening a discussion of the book. Members are encouraged to comment to the discussion post with their own thoughts and questions regarding the book.
  7. We will leave one day solely for discussion. The following day we will start the next book. This doesn’t mean you can only discuss the previous book for one day, you may discuss the previous book as often as you like once the discussion post has been started.
  8. On the Facebook group for the book club, you can find a calendar under the tab “files” that gives a timeline of book selection, reading window, and discussion up until August.

Now that you know what we’re about, we really hope you’ll join us. As I said, the primary location of the book club is on Facebook. The group can be found at: Three Ladies and Their Babies: The Book Club. Simply follow the link and click “join group.” Keep an eye out here or there for the announcement of the first book! Enjoy!

A Review of Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain

15791137I wish I could say I’d never heard of the Westboro Baptist Church. Unfortunately I, like probably many of you, have seen them on television picketing the funerals of soldiers, homosexuals, and murder victims, holding signs with such atrocious statements as “God hates fags” and “Thank God for 9/11.” Why a group of people, especially a group of people coming together to worship God, would spew such hateful diatribe is beyond my level of comprehension. Therefore, when I saw Lauren Drain’s book Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church on the New York Times bestseller list, I had to read it and find out just why these people are the way they are. What makes them tick? Why do they seem to hate everybody outside of their own church with such fervor? While I can’t say Lauren’s book definitely answered these questions for me, she does provide some disturbing insight into the group.

Once you start hearing more about the WBC it becomes clear that they’re much more like a cult than a church. They believe that everyone is going to hell except for them and they feel they’re doing God’s will by informing the world of this. They are led by one man, Fred Phelps, and most of the members are his children and grandchildren. At the time this book was written, there were only two outsider families involved in the WBC. Lauren’s family was one of these. Her father decided to do a documentary about the WBC when she was a teenager. The documentary was meant to shine a light on the negativity of the WBC, but instead he became enamored with the group and eventually moved his entire family to Topeka, Kansas to become more directly involved and join the church. Lauren takes us through her experience of moving to Kansas, being baptized into the WBC, and all the pressures she faced to be a “good girl” according to the rules of the church.

As I was reading the book I was a little bothered by the fact that Lauren doesn’t speak against the WBC, she seems to almost justify what they stand for and what they practice through much of the book. However, I believe what she was doing was explaining how she felt at the time. She didn’t choose to leave the WBC, she was banished by her own parents for a silly reason. She had to force herself to view their beliefs and traditions with fresh eyes before she could finally see how wrong their actions were. Having such a loving support system from my own parents, I can’t imagine how terrifying it must have been to be dropped off at a hotel and told never to contact her parents again, even if it was a life and death situation.

Overall I found this to be an interesting read. It provides an insider’s insight into the group. Lauren says in the book, “When passages [of the Bible] are taken out of context and twisted, the result is a powerful, manipulative, and dangerous weapon indeed.” Unfortunately, that is exactly what the Westboro Baptist Church does to control the minds of its members. Lauren still very much believes in God, she studied the Bible and other religions and formed her own beliefs and opinions. Luckily, Lauren’s story of once belonging to the WBC now has a happy ending.

A Review of Jodi Picoult’s Newest Book, The Storyteller.

Hello readers, this is what I hope will be the first of many book review posts. I love to read and I usually manage to fit in a book or two a week, depending on how busy things get. How do I manage to read that much with two children under 3? I try to set aside “me” time each night specifically for reading.

Traveling has always been a passion of mine. There are countless places I wish to visit, but I lack the funds, the time, and the patience (I know what you’re thinking, “Patience? For taveling?” Traveling with two little ones requires an abundance of patience, trust me!) to travel as far and as often as I would like. I have found that the easiest and most affordable way of traveling is within a book. Not only can you travel to different places in a book, you can travel to different times as well. It’s always seemed fairly magical to me.

It has been suggested to me that I should post my book reviews here for everyone to read. I was very excited by the idea when it was suggested. I only ask that you don’t decide not to read a book because of something I have said. Opinions are a wonderful thing and I don’t expect everyone to hold the same one as I do. I would hate for you to miss the opportunity to discover an amazing book that could become your favorite place to visit simply because of something negative I had to say about it. With that, I will begin my first book review.

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The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I am a huge Jodi Picoult fan. There have been only two books written by her that I haven’t particularly cared for (Mercy and Songs of the Humpback Whale). When I heard she had a new book coming out I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible. I started reading The Storyteller and had a very hard time putting it down. There was at least one day while reading it that I suffered from an extremely late night at the hands of this book. Here is the description that Goodreads gives of The Storyteller:

“Sage Singer befriends an old man who’s particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone’s favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret – he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage’s grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who’s committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren’t the party who was wronged? And most of all – if Sage even considers his request – is it murder, or justice?”

I will try to give as little away as possible, but be warned that there may be spoilers here. This was a difficult story to read through. There are two descriptions of The Holocaust, one from a survivor and one from a self-confessed Nazi. They’re equally hard to read. I found myself in tears a couple of times while reading. Even though I was reading this book knowing that it was a work of fiction, it’s an inescapable fact that this story could belong to someone real. Horrific, unimaginable events occurred during that part of history and who can say for sure that someone didn’t experience these exact things that Jodi Picoult has written.

Sage Singer struggles throughout the story with what to do about Josef Weber’s difficult request. She struggles with seeing the man he is now, at ninety-five, as the same man he is describing to her who murdered thousands of Jews in the war. Sage turns to her grandmother, Minka and asks her, for the first time, to really tell her what she went through as a teenager during the Holocaust. Minka reluctantly agrees and then we hear her difficult story.

I have to say that I struggled right along with Sage. We’re introduced to Josef Weber in the story as a kind old man who shares his food with his dog and befriends an insecure and scarred Sage without hesitation. For some reason I think it’s a common thing that we can’t picture elderly people ever doing horrible things. We just see a sweet old man who wouldn’t hurt a fly, or I do at least. So it was hard to relate this horrible Nazi who did unspeakable things with the friendly, elderly Josef Weber that we’d come to briefly know already. I found myself thinking of them as two separate people until I read Minka’s first hand account of the atrocities she suffered. From then on I was not a fan of Josef Weber. I felt a little tense each time Sage went to his house after that, afraid of what might happen next.

Much like Jodi Picoult’s other novels, there is a twist in The Storyteller. I figured out what the twist was before I got to it, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the story. The only negative part for me really wasn’t a huge negative and I believe it’s something other people might enjoy. Minka was a writer and she had been writing a story at the time of the Holocaust and it helped her survive. Between each chapter we get to read little parts of this. I understand why it was included and it was a big part of the story, it just wasn’t important to me to read that part, I was too anxious to get to the next chapter and see what was happening with Sage, Josef, and Minka.

I’m afraid to say anything else about this book because I really don’t want to give anything away. I would suggest you read it for yourself if you think you can handle the difficult subject matter. It was one of my favorite books to date of Jodi Picoult’s. There is a quote within the book from Minka’s friend Darija where she says, “It’s because you don’t just tell stories, you paint with words.” I feel this is what Jodi Picoult does time after time.