Friday, September 22, 2017

A Year of Living Prayerfully - Jared Brock

A Year of Living Prayerfully
Title: A Year of Living Prayerfully: How a Curious Traveler Met the Pope, Walked on Coals, Danced with Rabbis, and Revived His Prayer Life
Author: Jared Brock
Publication Date: 2/19/15
Pages: 352
Genre: Faith / Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I can't recall.
Date Completed: 9/10/17

Summary: Brock circles the globe exploring a variety of prayer traditions and searching for depth in his own prayer life.

What I Thought: While my faith is deeply important to me, I've always struggled to maintain a consistent prayer life. Or, more likely, I'm doing pretty decent compared to the average believer but growing up in a conservative faith tradition set me up for a continually need to do better. If that's the case, it's not a bad thing. Our prayer lives shouldn't be compared to those of others. It's a way to connect deeper with the Creator and that is a highly individual thing. 

It seems like Brock is coming from much the same position I am. A desire to do more, to find more, to feel more within the confines of prayer. I so admire his journey around the world to spend time in prayer and learn from some of the great prayer warriors of Christian history. He remarks in the beginning of the book that he hopes readers can learn from his journey as he realizes such an expedition would not be practical for most (side note: how did he pay for this?!).

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Hold Me Like a Breath - Tiffany Schmidt

Hold Me Like A Breath
Title: Hold Me Like a Breath
Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Publication Date: 5/19/15
Pages: 390
Genre: Thriller / Fiction
How I Found It: I can't remember
Date Completed: 8/20/17

Summary: Penelope suffers from a disease which causes her to bruise easily. Thus, her family shelters her from the outside world. They cannot, however, shelter her completely from their own illegal business of black market organ transplants.

What I Thought: This is a really unique idea. Schmidt takes the loose plot of The Princess and the Pea and shapes it into something totally new. Putting a fairy tale into a modern world of crime and intrigue makes for an interesting ride.

My verdict? It was interesting enough. I liked guessing what was going to happen. Some of the book was fairly predictable while other parts definitely caught me off guard. I think Schmidt's premise here is good and interesting. I didn't love her writing and probably won't read the next book in the series, but as a one-off read, I liked it well enough. 

Monday, September 18, 2017

Yes, Chef - Marcus Samuelsson

Yes, Chef
Title: Yes, Chef
Author: Marcus Samuelsson
Publication Date: 6/26/12
Pages: 337
Genre: Food / Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I've seen Samuelsson on Food Network shows and am always looking for another good food memoir.
Date Completed: 8/16/17

Summary: Sameulsson's is an unlikely story. Adopted out of Ethopia by a Sweedish family, he's found himself to be a celebrity chef in America.

What I Thought: Any longtime reader of the blog knows I love me some foodie memoirs. Though we don't have cable, I'm an avid watcher of the Food Network when I have a chance. And we watched a lot of Chopped when it was on Netflix. So, Marcus Samuelsson is a familiar face to us. I knew a little about him before picking up his memoir, but reading his full story was fascinating.

Samuelsson has had a fairly unique journey. He was born in rural Ethopia and adopted, along with his sister, by a Sweedish family after his mother died. Samuelsson grew up in Sweeden and made his way into the world of cooking through European kitchens. These experiences give him a really global palate and a different perspective on things than most American chefs have. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Daily Show - Chris Smith

The Daily Show
Title: The Daily Show: An Oral History as Told by Jon Stewart, the Correspondents, Staff and Guests
Author: Chris Smith
Publication Date: 11/22/16
Pages: 461
Genre: Political / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I'm a fan of the show.
Date Completed: 8/14/17

Summary: Told through the words of the people who were there, this book goes through nearly two decades of history of The Daily Show and how it changed our news consumption.

What I Thought: Let me start from a place of transparency: I really like The Daily Show. It's not as good now as when Stewart was at its helm, but I still am a loyal viewer. I like to watch the episode from the previous night in the mornings while I get ready for the day. I especially appreciate that the show brings in such a diverse range of guests and exposes to me to books, movies, and personalities that I may never know about otherwise. 

And, of course, it makes me laugh. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Seriously Delish - Jessica Merchant

Seriously Delish
Title: Seriously Delish: 150 Recipes for People Who Totally Love Food
Author: Jessica Merchant
Publication Date: 9/2/14
Pages: 304
Genre: Food / Nonfiction
How I Found It: I've been reading Merchant's blog, How Sweet It Is, for years.
Date Completed: 8/14/17

Summary: Merchant pulls no punches with flavor or flair in her debut cookbook.

What I Thought: I have been reading Merchant's blog for so, so long. I've made many of her recipes and loved everything I've tried from her site. My favorite salad of all time is a recipe from her blog. So, when she debuted her first cookbook a few years back, it seemed like a no-brainer.

Of course, 2014 was the year we moved to a new region of the country and everything felt in flux there for a while (in a good way). I never forgot about the cookbook, but since it came out the week we moved, I never got around to picking it up. 

Flash forward to present day.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Movie Monday: The Circle

The Circle
When opportunity arises, I feature Movie Monday. I recognize few people have the time or desire to read the amount I do. Luckily, Hollywood loves adapting a classic and I love a good story in any form.

Film Title: The Circle

Book Title: The Circle
Release Year: 2017

Summary: After getting a job at the world's most influential tech company, Mae finds herself at the center of a global debate over transparency. 

What I Thought: Kevin and I both enjoyed this book. It certainly was not a perfect book, but in my 2014 review, I lauded it as being rather prescient. 

The movie, you may have noticed, has not been getting a lot of attention. Despite a really incredible cast list (I mean...Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega?), it's been practically rushed in and out of theatres. Having looked forward to this movie for a while, the lack of hype made me nervous. I get it now. It doesn't hold anywhere close to the power of the book. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Everything, Everything - Nicola Yoon

Everything, Everything
Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publication Date: 9/1/2015
Pages: 307
Genre: Romance / Young Adult / Fiction 
How I Found It: I read it for the informal book club I have with my best friends.
Date Completed: 8/11/17

Summary: Madeline has a rare disease which prevents her from leaving the house. Anything or anyone outside could compromise her immune system and compromise her. When a cute boy moves in next door, however, her desire to leave the house becomes unbearable. 

What I Thought: The first I ever heard about this book was when I saw the trailer for the movie. It did not jump out at me as anything different from the litany of young adult romance stories on the market right now. I didn't have any intention of reading or watching it. But, one of my best friends teaches middle school reading and she wanted to read it this summer before deciding whether to teach it or not. So, being the informal book club we are, all three of us read it. 

Let me say, first, that I liked the format of this. I have a weirdly soft spot for novels that use some untraditional methods to tell their stories. This one includes emails, medical charts, drawings, etc. There's not a lot of them, but they are scattered throughout the pages and add a different flair. I always love this in books. It's not always executed well, but when it is, I find it so fun. Maybe there's a youthful part of me that misses reading picture books or something.