jennasday

Health, fitness, communications, and everything in between!


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Lightening review: My Side of the Mountain

It’s always a pleasure to revisit an old favourite, and this is exactly what I did when I reread My Side of the Mountain by Jean George. It was one of my favourites as a kid; I read it many times, so it was nice to go back.

The story follows Sam, young teen from New York City, who has decided he will run away from home and live off the land. He makes his way to his great-grandfather’s land in the Catskill Mountains, determined to survive free of dependence on electricity and machines. Throughout the book he comes a long way from the first night – when he can’t get a fire started and is convinced he will freeze and starve – to making a home for himself, finding a plethora of food sources, and even making new clothes.

My Side of the Mountain is an interesting examination of survival and solitude. It was a fairly short read (I finished it in less than a day) but it’s well-crafted, interesting, and different from what I’ve been reading lately. Still holds up, all these years after publication (1959). Recommended for all from children to adults.

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Lightening review: P.S. I Love You

When I picked up P.S. I Love You from the TV stand in the bedroom where I was staying, I didn’t know it was set in Ireland. It was kind of cool, though, to read a book in the same country where it happens.

The book, published in 2014, is a sweetly sad story of a young widow, Holly, as she learns to cope with being alone after her husband’s death. But months after he’s gone, still drowning in grief, she receives a package from him. It contains a letter for her to open each month, and as she works through them she begins to grow, to change, and most importantly to heal. He seems to have known exactly what she would need each month, and issues challenges for her.

It’s a unique premise, which was obviously romantic enough to capture people’s hearts and garner a film contract (I still haven’t seen the movie). And it’s an easy read – almost too easy.

On the down side, first-time novelist Cecelia Ahern‘s writing is what one should expect from a first-time novelist. The writing is overly descriptive, especially the characters. They are explained rather than shown, which is frustrating. The characters want to have life, they want to jump off the page, but instead they are described and told. The author is telling the story rather than opening the pages and inviting us into her world. And this is forgivable because the story is an easy one; the story is likeable. But an adult reader can’t help but want something more. I would be interested in reading Ahern’s later novels to learn how her writing style has changed.

Like I said, an easy read. One I don’t regret. But this one also won’t be on my list of most memorable books or novels I have to get back to again sometime. When I eventually watch the movie, I’ll let you know how that is!


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Lightening review: Year of Yes

People, get Shonda Rimes‘ Year of Yes on your library waiting list right now. You might even want to go down to the bookstore and pick up your own copy, because it could become a favourite that you want to read over and over. The woman behind Grey’s Anatamy, Scandal, and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder, Shonda Rimes is fantastic.

Confession: this is my second time reading Year of Yes. Last year, in early summer, I read it and enjoyed it so much I binged through the first eleven seasons of Grey’s Anatomy. I figured if someone could write a book like that, her TV show must be fantastic as well. (Although I was startled to realize what a huge commitment the show was – I’d imagined a three- or four-season show.)

Somehow both entertaining and instructive, Rimes’s book details how an offhand comment from her sister made her realize that she was letting life slip by while she worked and went home without really living. In a comfortable, effortless style, she invites you in, and then takes you through the journey she went on through her Year of Yes.

She tells about making Thanksgiving dinner with her sister and having the light bulb moment not long after; she describes being oblivious to flirting attempts in an elevator; she learns how to receive a compliment. But she also talks about the joy and the privilege and the challenge of being a mother and having a job – and how saying yes to one thing always means saying no to something else; she talks about how saying ‘yes’ wound up with her losing over a hundred pounds and delves into why she gained all the weight; she talks about how women learn to be invisible rather than awesome badasses. She even defines badassery, after describing her realization that she needs more of it in her life.

Insightful, wise, and snorting-laugh hilarious, this book was a pleasure to read. Don’t waste more time – go out and get it.