Saturday, March 29, 2008
The other thing I want to mention is a fun new reading challenge called Soup's On. You can get all the details here. Basically, you have to "read" (not every word, just enough so you have an idea what it's about) 6 cookbooks and make 1 recipe from each between April 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009. Sounds fun, doesn't it? My reading list will be on my challenge blog in the next couple of days.
Right now, I'm trying to decide what to read next. I've got a pile of review books, a TBR mountain chain, plus I just ordered a bunch of books using MyPoints rewards (have you heard of MyPoints? If not, check it out. I've been doing it for years, and I love the program. If you sign up, would you mind putting my name in as the one who referred you? You will probably have to use my email address susanrjensen[AT]yahoo[DOT]com. Thanks.), and I've got a bag full of books from the library. Hmmm ... choices, choices.
Friday, March 28, 2008
The funny thing is, I am the least opinionated person you'll ever meet. If my husband asks where I want to eat, I usually say, "Oh, Olive Garden. Or Applebees. Or Outback. Whatever. I don't care." But, when it comes to books, I know what I like and what I don't. Amazingly, I form very strong opinions about the things I read. So, if I slam a book you've written and/or loved, I just want to quote my favorite American Idol judge: "Saw-ree, it's just my opinyon."
(Image from www.starblogs.net)
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Okay, I know you think I am just ranting (and I sort of am), but these thoughts really do have something to do with the book I'm reviewing, Magyk by Angie Sage. Of course, explaining how my rant relates will lead to a spoiler (kind of), so I'll leave it 'til the end of the review. Don't worry - I'll warn you with bold type and lots of exclamation points so you won't inadvertently read something that will ruin the story for you.
Magyk tells the story of the Heaps, a family of 8 who live in The Ramblings, a kind of apartment complex for commoners. Although humble, the Heaps possess bright green eyes - telltale signs of a wizarding family. When the story opens, Sarah Heap has given birth to yet another boy. Baby Septimus is the seventh son of a seventh son, a position which destines him to become a powerful wizard. With the infant safely delivered, his father, Silas, treks into the forest to collect herbs for the baby. As he hustles home in the growing darkness, Silas hears something whimpering in the bushes. When he bends down, he's startled to find a baby laying on the cold, snowy ground. Kind-hearted Silas scoops up the infant and heads toward home. Before he can make it to his front door, a tall figure in purple warns him, "Tell no one you found her. She was born to you. Understand?" (5) A confused Silas rushes on, only to be met at his own door by the midwife, who is running out with Septimus' still form. "Dead!" she cries (6).
Although Sarah and Silas grieve for Septimus, they soon settle into life with their 6 boys and baby daughter. They tell no one about finding the infant in the snow. Six months later, Sarah receives troubling news from the castle - the Queen, who has not been seen publicly since her baby was born, has been shot by an assassin. Rumor has it that the infant princess was spirited away before the killer could get to her. Sarah realizes instantly what has happened. Her 6-month-old daughter is, in fact, the princess.
Ten years later, a friendly ghost warns the Heaps that trouble is on the horizon - the castle's new ruler has commanded an assassin to eliminate the princess. The Heaps flee to their Aunt Zelda's cottage on the isolated marshes, dragging an ExtraOrdinary Wizard, a slobbering wolfhound and a terrified boy soldier with them. As the group bands together, they discover a great many things, all of which will help them take on the evil Necromancer determined to finish off the princess for good.
Although it was predictable, the book kept me turning pages. I would have liked more character development, but basically the cast was sympathetic. Several of the characters - Marcia Overstrand, Aunt Zelda and Boy 412, for instance - were more interesting than others. The characters I most enjoyed were magical beings, like Princess Jenna's pet rock, Zelda's helpful Boggart, and the put-upon messenger rat. The magykal world, with its charms, spells and various enchantments, intrigued me. Probably my favorite passages in the book are those in which Marcia terrorizes doors, appliances and mirrors, all of which have feelings about their punishment. Another thing I enjoyed about this book is the Extras at the end. You can get a taste of these delights at Angie Sage's fun website.
Okay, onto the not-so-good stuff. Occasionally, Sage's writing drove me crazy. She shifted viewpoints at random, sometimes in the middle of paragraphs. It wasn't so much confusing as just plain annoying. She also relied heavily on adverbs, another thing which drives me nuts. I counted 8 on one page, and they're small pages. The writing was also very choppy in places. This is small potatoes, however, and I could have lived with it if it wasn't for this ...
WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD (although they're so obvious, I don't know if I'd really call them spoilers; nonetheless, you've been warned) !!! My biggest beef with this book is Angie Sage's assumption that her readers are not all that smart. I was irritated by sentences like these, which seemed to imply that readers need to have things spelled out to them:
"Then he screamed again, this time in pain. He had broken his fifth metacarpal. His little finger" (133). I don't know about you, but I understood that his fifth metacarpal was his little finger.
"There was an unhappy silence. No one liked what Alther had said" (439). Duh. That's why the silence is unhappy.
Am I being nitpicky? Probably, but I hate it when the author insults my intelligence. As if these examples weren't enough, Angie Sage saves her big reveal for the end. Boy 412 is Septimus Heap. What, you say? Septimus didn't die? No, he didn't, but we know that from the moment we glance at Magyk's cover, which proudly proclaims it to be Septimus Heap, Book One. So, when a 10-year-old boy of unknown origin appears in the story, it's pretty obvious who he is. But, the author waits until the very ending of the book to make the big reveal. To me, that was obnoxious, since I had known his true identity from the beginning. This one thing killed the book for me. Angie Sage made her surprise ending so obvious that it wasn't a surprise at all.
So, if it hadn't been for that one thing, I really would have enjoyed reading Magyk. Since the big revelation is out of the way, I'm hoping the next volumes in this series continue the exciting story of the Heap Family, without lazing around with surprise endings that aren't surprises at all.
Friday, March 21, 2008
The story concerns 70-year-old Virginia "Ginny" Stone, a retired lepidopterist (a person who studies moths and butterflies), who is living out her life in her family's crumbling mansion. It's a solitary life Ginny leads, one that is based on routine and strict adherence to the clock. She wears two wristwatches just so she always knows the exact time. Her careful routines are about to be disrupted, she knows, so she watches her driveway with apprehension. Soon, her sister Vivien will arrive. Vivi. The sister she hasn't seen for 50 years.
Vibrant Vivi sweeps into the lonely old house like the proverbial breath of fresh air. But Ginny isn't wild about fresh air. She prefers the safety of her childhood home, where everything is quiet and predictable. Inside that monument to the past she can remember her life, her family the way she wants. Vivien's presence is an intrusion, a harsh reminder that the Stone Family kept its deep, dark secrets just like everyone else.
With Vivien in the house again, Ginny is jolted into the past. Her memories roam back to her childhood, years she spent happily ensconced in the laboratory with her father. Shy and withdrawn, Ginny preferred the cloistered life, where she could focus solely on her specimens. Vivien, on the other hand, resembled their mother Maud, who loved the excitement of society. While Ginny and her father toiled their lives away, happy in their seclusion, Vivi and Maud slowly deteriorated. By the time Ginny emerged from the lab, she found her life inexplicably altered - her mother had become a violent drunk and her cherished sister escaped to the city. Without Vivi to brighten their lives, The Stones followed their obsessive paths until tragedy left Ginny alone in the enormous family home. She retreated further into herself, until Vivi waltzed in a century later to open old wounds.
Despite Vivi's abandonment and further insults over the years, Ginny loves her sister. The bond between them is, in fact, the only bright spot in Ginny's life. As the sisters face the reality of their past, Ginny realizes a great many truths about her parents, about her sister, and about herself. Will the truth be too much for her fragile psyche? Will Vivi cave when Ginny brings her secrets to light? Will the link between the sisters survive? Or will the past crush everything they hold dear, even the strongest of sisterly bonds?
As you can tell from the plot summary, The Sister is not a light read. It's a complex psychological thriller, but not of the "can't put it down" variety. Instead, it builds slowly, chillingly, until it reaches its shocking conclusion. It's only after you've turned the last page that you realize you've been holding your breath.
I know a lot of reviewers didn't like the book's ending, but I thought it made perfect sense (at least in a Ginny Stone kind of way). In fact, it was such a logical conclusion that I really wasn't that startled by it. My beefs with the book lay more in the fact that it was so dense, especially with references to lepidopterology, that I often wanted to close it. I also felt that the author left too many loose ends - I still don't quite understand why Vivi chose to come back after 50 years or what certain minor characters (like Dr. Moyse) had to do with the whole thing. Many of Adams' subplots hung in midair, never connecting to the main plot and never resolving themselves. So, while I felt that the story's ending was right (although I can't say I liked it), I didn't feel satisfied. There were just too many dots left unconnected.
All that said, I ended up liking the book a lot more than I thought I would. It's an interesting read that delves into some fascinating issues. With a little polish (and a different cover - sheesh, how boring can you get?), I think this one could really shine - at least in a dark, brooding, Victorian kind of way.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I was really excited to get a copy of The Sister by Poppy Adams from the Barnes & Noble's First Look Club. My goal was to read it slowly so that I could keep up with the chat over at B&N, but I'm woefully behind. I've finally reached the middle, and I'm enjoying it. Although I try not to read reviews about books I'm reading so that they won't influence my own opinion, I get the feeling that reactions to this book have not been all that positive. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's the vibe I'm sensing. At any rate, I should finish it within the next day or so. After that, I would love to hear everyone else's opinions. Don't tell me anything yet, though!
In other news, I'm sending off interview questions to Amanda Ford, author of Kiss Me, I'm Single: An Ode to the Single Life. I'm excited to hear what she has to say. A friend also connected me with romance writer Robyn Carr. It's been fun getting to know her a little. Look for an interview and more with her in the near future. I will also be getting to those review books I was talking about - I have some really fun ones in the wings. Now, if I'm going to get all this done, I'm going to have to stop typing and get back to reading ...
Monday, March 17, 2008
So, Junior draws cartoons. He draws because "I feel like it might be my only real chance to escape the reservation. I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats" (5). As Junior explains the world to himself, he suddenly realizes that he can better himself. Just because he lives within five miles of where he, his parents, and his grandmother were born, doesn't mean he can't leave. Just because no one else in the tribe has ever done it, doesn't mean he can't. So, Junior begs his parents to let him go to Reardan, the high school in town where all the white farmers' kids - and no Indians - attend. The school is 22 miles away, meaning Junior has to walk when his parents don't have the money to pay for gas, but he's determined to get a good education. His decision brands Junior as an apple (red on the outside, white on the inside), a traitor to his tribe. In fact, it makes him feel like a traitor to himself:
"Traveling between Reardon and Wellpinit, between the little white town and the reservation, I always felt like a stranger. I was half Indian in one place and half white in the other. It was like being an Indian was my job, but it was only a part-time job. And it didn't pay well at all" (118).
Not surprisingly, Junior feels different and alone in the sea (or pond - Reardan's a small town) of white faces. He's surprised by the blatant racism of the town's adults, and the acceptance he eventually wins from their children. His year at Reardon is a time of discovery - he falls in love, proves himself on the basketball court, and discovers that friendship can endure despite great odds.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is an original, honest and engaging story. When I say honest, I mean it - Arnold discusses everything from masturbation to his parents' alcoholism to the irony of Indians celebrating Thanksgiving. The frankness is both disturbing and enlightening. Conversely, the thing I found most interesting about this story is the subtlety of the author's language use. Each sentence seems to have at least five meanings. Take this passage, for instance, in which Junior describes his dad's Christmas "sacrifice":
"Drunk for a week, my father must have really wanted to spend those last five dollars. Shoot, you can buy a bottle of the worst whiskey for five dollars. He could have spent that five bucks and stayed drunk for another day or two. But he saved it for me.
The book is full of such passages, which makes the story so much more meaningful than it appears to be on the surface.
I found the discussion of racism against Indians fascinating. This book is set in Washington State, where I grew up (although I lived in the Western, not Eastern part of the state), and I don't remember this kind of prejudice against Native Americans. Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series, also set in Washington, brings up similar issues. I remember feeling miffed when my Indian buddy Leon got 2 weeks off school for fishing season, but that's the only time I ever had a negative feeling about him (until he grew up and became a small town gang banger, but that's another story ...) or other Indians at our school. I guess I was just shocked that the kind of racism Alexie describes actually happens.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is one book that earns the hype it has generated. It's brilliant, from Junior's voice (authentic, honest) to the cartoons "taped" into his diary (witty), to its statements on Indian culture and prejudice (eye-opening) - it's simply unforgettable.
So, I'm admitting defeat on the Winter Reading Challenge. There's no way I'm going to finish it by March 19, especially since I've only read 1 of the books on my list. I do plan to read all the books, but who knows when I will complete them? Thanks, Karlene, for hosting. Sorry I'm bowing out!
Several other fun challenges have been announced lately, but I'm trying to resist ...
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I'm sure I've mentioned before that I'm not a big sci fi/fantasy reader. In fact, I had read little fantasy (except for a brief Piers Anthony binge, but that was mainly to impress a guy) before the first Harry Potter novel came out. I think HP turned my thinking about the genre around, and since then I have enjoyed a lot of sci fi/fantasy books. Although I've yet to venture out into "high fantasy," I think I've read enough in the genre to recognize some of its recurring themes. So, when I picked up Gifts by Ursula K. Le Guin (my first by her), I thought, "Okay, it's been done before, but I'll give it a shot." I think my initial assessment was right on: Gifts is nothing Earth-shattering, but it's a good read.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The thing I forgot to mention about Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner is the ad placement rampant in its pages. Sam Houston over at Book Chase mentioned this in a recent post and I've been thinking about the issue ever since. Maybe I would never have even noticed this if it wasn't for the recent chat about it on blogs, but Carpe Demon is chock-full of references to everything from Diet Coke to Clinique to Gap. Now, I know authors use pop culture to add realism to their books (because a book about a Demon-Hunting soccer mom is oh so believable), but I found the constant references distracting. Is Julie Kenner getting anything in return for these ads? Fifty percent off coupons at Gap, for instance?
I don't discuss "issues" very often, because I'm just not that much of a heavy thinker, but this issue intrigues me...
(Image from mybookshelf.com)
Kate Connor's got enough on her plate - she's a SAHM to 2 kids, wife to a lawyer with political ambitions, best friend to a woman who suspects her husband may be cheating, and a homemaker with piles of laundry to sort, dinner to make, and a house to clean. Her schedule is jam-packed; she really doesn't have time to resurrect her early career as a Demon Hunter. Resurrect it she must, however, because Demons have descended on her once safe hometown, and only she can stop them.
The problem with coming out of retirement is that her family doesn't know anything about her Demon-Hunting past. She prefers it to stay that way. Besides, this is a one-time gig - as soon as she rids her town of unwanted presences, she's going right back to being Kate Connor, plain old soccer mom. First, however, she's got a mystery to solve. She must determine why her old enemy - a nasty High Demon named Goramesh - is haunting San Diablo, California. The town boasts a large cathedral housing bones of saints and other relics - such powerful religious items should be keeping Demons far, far away. So, what has drawn Goramesh to sunny Cali? Kate begins a desperate dig through the Church's archives to find the answer. Not that anyone's going to let her focus on her task, however - her husband keeps throwing surprise dinner parties in her lap, Demons are lurking around every corner, her 2-year-old's throwing tantrums to get her attention, and her best friend is starting to get susicious. Kate must find the answer to her dilemma, rid the town of Demons, and get back to her normal life before it all disappears in a puff of smoke. A difficult task, yes, but this Demon-hunting soccer mom is up to the task. Or is she?
Okay, I know the plot of Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom by Julie Kenner sounds a little hokey. It is, but the book is a lot of fun. There was plenty in it to irritate me (how often does one person really say the word "schlep?" and what toddler can ask his mom, "Do you have holey sheets?"), but I actually enjoyed this one. It's the first urban-fantasy-with-a-domestic-bent that I've read. I know there are plenty of these kind of books out there, so I don't know whether Julie Kenner is an original or a copycat, but still ... this was a fun foray for me.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Currently, I am filling out applications for various adoption agencies. We are going to certify through LDS Family Services, but we will be working with several different agencies as well as "advertising" on our own. I thought I should mention it here in case you or anyone you know is looking for a good home for your/their baby girl. Now, I know you're probably saying, "But you already have 3 kids," and that's true, but I know there are lots of kids out there in need of good, stable homes. I'm blessed to have one. Anyway, if you know of any situations, or if you have been through the adoption process and have advice/encouragement, I would love to hear from you. You can email me anytime at blogginboutbooks[AT]gmail[DOT]com. I'm working on a blog that birthparents can check out for all our information. It may take me awhile, but eventually all the info will be at: http://leadusguideus.blogspot.com/.
Anyway, enough about that ... let's get on to some more bookish topics:
**I mentioned the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest in one of my previous posts. Basically, writers submitted their manuscripts, Amazon customers reviewed excerpts of each one, and 10 manuscripts were chosen from those with the best ratings. The winner gets a publishing contract from Penguin Books. You can read excerpts of the Top 10 and vote for the winner. The one with the highest reviews wins. Now, I'm a little miffed because Amazon promised an award to the best reviewer, and never delivered (winners were supposed to be announced Feb. 29, but it didn't happen). Not that I expected to win, but I rushed to do reviews so that I could be among the contestants for the reviewer prize. ANYWAY, my point is, if you think this sounds fun, go check out the Top 10. There are some really good entries. Unfortunately, only 1 of my favorites (The Wet Nurse's Tale) made it into the Top 10 :( Oh well. Even if Amazon hasn't handled the contest well (which seems to be the general consensus among the writers and reviewers), it's a fun idea and I enjoyed reading a lot (not all) of the entries.
**I promised myself I would read a review book this week (The Sister - I'm woefully behind), but I got sidetracked by Julie Kenner's Carpe Demon. It's light and fluffy (sounds like a meringue), but lots of fun. I'll report on it soon.
**Thanks for reading this long, dense post. Happy reading!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
One of the book blogs I read (I peruse so many that I can't remember which one) recently asked if other bloggers create reviews in their heads while reading. I do this frequently. In fact, I mentally bookmark quotes I know I will want to use later. Unfortunately, my "bookmarks" don't work as well as the real thing - I've flipped back through whole books trying to find those magical passages. So, when I started reading The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop by Lewis Buzbee, I grabbed some Post It notes and a pen. This book is so quotable that I used up half the pad marking passages I liked.
The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is part memoir, part history, but mostly, it's an ode to Lewis Buzbee's lifelong love affair with books. Buzbee first fell in love with books when he received Weekly Reader book orders in elementary school. As a teen, he found Steinbeck, haunted bookstores, and read voraciously. Not surprisingly, adulthood found him working with books - selling them, promoting them, and loving them. Buzbee's passion shines as touches on all kinds of bookish subjects, including the history of bookmaking; the book business; censorship; his favorite bookshops worldwide; customer service; saving books from Nazis and other book-burning fanatics; etc. With so much to cover, it's not surprising that Buzbee rambles a bit, but he's so warm and engaging that it doesn't really matter. It's like chatting with a friend over a cup of cocoa - who cares where the conversation goes as long as you're enjoying each other's company.
Like I mentioned earlier, The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is immensely quotable. Here are some of my favorite passages:
Books connect us with others, but that connection is created in solitude, one reader in one chair hearing one writer, what John Irving refers to as one genius speaking to another ... Ellis Canetti has described cafes as places we go to be "alone among others," and I've always felt this was true of the bookstore, too. It's a lovely combination, this solitude and gathering, almost as if the bookstore were the antidote for what it sold. (6)
...As a victim of book lust, I've gazed at millions of feet of shelf space, and I should be quite over the allure, the slight magic that's entranced me, but I'm not. (11)
Books ... give body to our ideas and imaginations, make them flesh in the world; a bookstore is the city where our fleshed-out inner selves reside. (19)
The books of our childhood offer a vivid door to our own pasts, and not necessarily for the stories we read there, but for the memories of where we were and who we were when we were reading them; to remember a book is to remember the child who read that book. (36-37)
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. This is a warm, insightful volume that will resonate with anyone who loves books. It's small, a quick read, but trust me, you'll want to savor it; The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop is just that rich, just that delicious.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
When cocky building inspector Carver Bannerman saunters onto the site with his mirrored glasses and "a salacious leer" (89) uglying up his handsome face, he makes his way straight to Annie Sue and two of her teenaged friends. Although Deborah puts an end to his nonsense, it's not the last she'll hear of him. Not long after meeting Carver, she finds him dead in the WomenAid house. A few feet away lies Annie Sue, beaten, dazed and accusing the building inspector of attempted rape. Unable to contact her niece's parents, Deborah drives Annie Sue to the hospital, where she promptly runs into Nadine, her sister-in-law and Annie Sue's mother. Nadine quickly explains that Deborah's brother, Herman (also Annie Sue's father and Nadine's husband), has had a heart attack. When it is discovered that Herman's condition is a result of arsenic poisoning, it throws a throws a new light on the whole, ugly situation.
Carver's killer is soon found (you won't be surprised by his/her identity), but a bigger mystery is uncovered when it is discovered that the virile young man had arsenic in his system too. Who had reason to poison both Herman and Carver, especially when the two men barely knew each other. Is it the owners of The Coffee Pot, the only establishment at which both men ate? And where is the proprieters' no good son-in-law anyway? Or could it be Kimberly Norris, bitter because someone else got the WomenAid house, even though she was most deserving? As Deborah and her buddy Deputy Dwight Bryant investigate the poisonings, some ugly truths began to emerge, some of which just might concern Deborah's brother, Herman. When it all comes together, you'll be just as surprised as I was. (The revelation of the poisoner startled me, even though I had a pretty good idea who it was. Turns out, I was wrong - close, but wrong. I hate it when I guess the identity of the bad guy in a mystery, because that usually means it isn't very well written, seeing as how I never was a very good Nancy Drew.)
Southern Discomfort is an excellent read; in fact, I liked it better than Bootlegger's Daughter. It has all the enchantment of its predecessor - quaint Southern talk; a noisy, colorful cast; an intriguing mystery - and a much better plot. It's a worthy addition to the Deborah Knott series, and I can't wait to read more. I'll be coming back to this series again and again, y'all can be sure of that! I think my Southern talk may need a little work, though...
When Dorothy with Pump Up Your Book Promotion first asked me to review Kiss Me, I'm Single: An Ode to the Single Life by Amanda Ford, I thought, "Well, okay, but I'm not really into chick lit." Then, I realized that despite the bubbly pink cover, it isn't actually chick lit; in fact, it isn't even fiction. When I discovered this, I examined the subtitle, An Ode to the Single Life. Hmmmm. How on Earth is this book going to be relevant, I wondered, to someone like me who got married when she was 21 and is still happily wed 10 1/2 years later? Then, I figured, the book was sure to be a feminist rant slamming marriage and upholding singlehood as the desired state of all modern, independent women. Just when I had turned myself completely off the book, I thought, Maybe I should stop postulating and just read the darn thing. So, I did. I was surprised. And impressed.
The format of Kiss Me, I'm Single (pink, bubbly cover; short, breezy chapters; humorous, engaging writing) belies the fact that it contains some real nuggets of wisdom. Contrary to my assumptions, it does not bash marriage. It simply delivers advice to women who seem perpetually single, from someone who has been there. Not that Amanda has come up with some new, magical formula to guarantee a direct hit from Cupid's arrow, but she has a lot of hints on how to stay sane in a world where being a single woman feels like "an emergency ... as urgent as Code Red" (13). Unlike many relationship books, this one is a quick read - it's 203 pages, but some of them only have 2-3 sentences. I literally read it while waiting for pictures to upload onto Blogger (over the course of a few days - my computer's not that slow!)
So, you're wondering, what is the wisdom Amanda Ford imparts? Here's a taste:
It feels like Code Red when I begin doing the math and figure that if I want to be pregnant by one particular age, and if I want to spend a few years traveling the world with my husband before we have children, and if I simply want to date him for a few years before we get engaged, then I should have met him fifteen months ago (emphasis hers).
Okay, maybe that's not the best example, but I thought it was funny. On to the wise stuff:
Falling in love is what happens when you are busy loving your own life. (11)
Do not be one of those foolish women who think that the the love they give themselves is less important and less fulfilling than the love they get from men ... Believe that the most important relationship you will ever have in your life is the one that you have with yourself. Believe it down to your bones: The search for another person must never preclude the search for yourself. (19)
Love has nothing to do with another person, but is the condition of my own heart. (27)
It is a basic fact of life that in order to be truly happy and fulfilled with another person, you must be truly happy and fulfilled on your own first. A good relationship can enhance life for sure, but it cannot take what is only moderately satisfying and turn it into perfection. (33)
Contrary to myths and stories and popular belief, focusing on one person to fill your needs does not provide eternal protection against loneliness and isolation. In fact it's just the opposite. Relying on one person for everything decreases your chances at human connection and increases your odds of feeling lonely and isolated. (142)
So, you can see Amanda's basic principle: Single women should focus on creating fulfilling lives, not obsessing about how to get a man. I agree. In fact, I want to buy 100 copies of Kiss Me, I'm Single and fling them at all my single friends who whine about how their lives can't start until they get married. I think it's a given that falling in love happens when you least expect it, and when you stop thinking about it every minute of every day.
If you, like me, have already found your soul mate, don't dismiss this book. I think the last paragraph I quoted is especially significant for married women. Even in a marriage, we cannot lose sight of who we are and what brings us joy. We have to continue to get to know ourselves, continue to learn and grow. If we base our whole existence on our spouses and children, we will end up as strangers to ourselves.
As much as I liked the book, I have to say that I don't agree with everything Amanda says. Her experience does not seem to include observance of any strong marriages. She was reared by a single mother, went on to have a brief, unsatisfying marriage of her own, and has been single ever since. The marriages she does cite all seem to have blazing flaws - the wives are bored or suffocated by commitment. I just want to say that this is not always the case. Strong, happy marriages exist everywhere. Maybe they're not the norm, but they are out there.
All in all, though, I really enjoyed this read. I found Amanda to be a very personable, fun guide through the single life. Her book really is quick and easy to read, but also very profound. It can be purchased through Amazon or Barnes & Noble. You can also find out more about Amanda on her website, oholive.com. Be sure to check out her "Extraordinary Living Project" - it's inspiring.
P.S. When Amanda sent me her book, it was packaged in the cutest way. I just have to show you the photo I took:Grade: B+