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Tag Archives: memoir

Homer’s Odyssey [Book Review]

I picked up this book in the States last summer at Barnes and Noble.  After going through a period of time when I missed my own pets back at home, I decided to feed my sorrows and finally read this book.  Now, here is my review.  Enjoy!

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Title:  Homer’s Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

Author:  Gwen Cooper

Synopsis: “The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.”

ISBN: 0385343981

Homer's Odyssey: A Fearless Feline Tale, or How I Learned about Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat

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 My Review:

Everyone loves a good pet tale.  Whether it is about a naughty dog or a curious cat, stories about animals are both entertaining and emotional.  And Homer’s Odyssey, a true-life account of a naughty and curious kitty, is no exception.

After adopting an eye-less kitten who nobody wanted, Gwen Cooper realized her life had suddenly changed.  When she was not blind-proofing her numerous homes, she was making sure Homer, the newest addition to her now three-cat family, was not getting into too much trouble.  But, sure enough, Cooper had her work cut out for her, and realized quickly that though Homer was blind, he was more than a normal, curious cat.

Filled with chapters of Homer’s antics, Cooper takes you on a journey from kittenhood to the elder cat years of twelve.  The different stories of Homer’s adventures are engaging, and whether Homer is annoying his two cat sisters, or making friends with practically every human he meets, his shenanigans are quite entertaining.  Two chapters though really stuck out to me.  The first consisted of Homer literally saving the life of the author from an intruder, and the second of the harrowing ordeal the author and her cats endured during 9/11.  Both of these chapters were two of many which portrayed how much Homer truly impacted Gwen Cooper’s life.

The writing itself is captivating, though I did have a few issues with the author.  At times Cooper came across as a know-it-all and slightly self absorbed, but to be fair, this is a memoir about her life and experiences.  However, throughout the whole book she preached how important her cats were to her, especially Homer, and it seemed her entire life revolved around the care of her cats; throughout the the 9/11 chapter, she was more concerned about her cats’ safety than that of her own.  So, it honestly surprised me when she ended up falling in love with a man who did not like cats to begin with.  Though her future husband did eventually warm up to her three kitties, I was still a little taken aback by how unperturbed Cooper was by what I would consider a huge flaw.

All in all, Homer’s Odyssey was a compelling and sentimental read.  It made me smile at the mischief of my own cat, and forced me to examine how important my own pets are to me.  We all need love in our lives, and whether you are a cat-person or a dog-person, this book is for everyone.

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Purchase it at Amazon.com here:  Homer’s Odyssey

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Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2013*

A Primate’s Memoir [Book Review]

I picked up this book at a garage sale about a year ago for a dollar – what a deal, right?!  I began it before NaNo, but due to the frenzy that entails when writing a novel in a month, I left it alone during the month of November.  I finally finished it before the New Year, and I am very excited and ready to share my review with you.  Enjoy!

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Title: A Primate’s Memoir: A Neuroscientist’s Unconventional Life Among the Baboons

Author: Robert Sapolsky

Robert M. Sapolsky

I just had to add this picture of the author! He’s amazing!

Synopsis: “Over two decades, Sapolsky survives culinary atrocities, gunpoint encounters, and a surreal kidnapping, while witnessing the encroachment of the tourist mentality on the farthest vestiges of unspoiled Africa. As he conducts unprecedented physiological research on wild primates, he becomes evermore enamored of his subjects — unique and compelling characters in their own right — and he returns to them summer after summer, until tragedy finally prevents him. By turns hilarious and poignant, A Primate’s Memoir is a magnum opus from one of our foremost science writers.”

ISBN: 0743202414

A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons

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 My Review:

This is the true story of one man’s life among the baboons of Kenya.   Scientist Robert Sapolsky had only prepared to study the mental and physical behaviors of the baboons, but instead he found a life of adventure and formed his own primate family.  From developing close bonds with the baboons, to learning the way of the Masai people (and often messing with them), Sapolsky takes readers on his more than twenty year journey through Africa.

Naturally hilarious and honest, A Primate’s Memoir is an exciting and entertaining read.  His writing is quick and to the point, and his witty, often sarcastic humor makes this book that much more enjoyable.  Each chapter contains a unique story, and whether he is being kidnapped and shot at, or playing a “wizard” in the Masai village, Sapolsky’s true-life tales never disappoint.

The chapters highlighting his time with the baboons were a personal favorite.  Sapolsky describes each member of his primate troop as if he were describing close human friends, and even admits to developing a baboon crush, along with a special human-baboon friendship.  However, it is not all fun and games, and his research of the baboons is detailed throughout, allowing the reader an in-depth look into the exhilarating, yet tiresome days of a scientist.

A Primate’s Memoir is a funny, clever, and ultimately heartbreaking account of Robert Sapolsky’s experience in wild Africa.  Highly recommended, this is definitely a book for animal lovers and science enthusiasts alike.       

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Purchase it at Amazon.com here: A Primate’s Memoir

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Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2013*

The Guinea Pig Diaries [Book Review]

I am a little obsessed with author, A.J. Jacobs at the moment.  Back in Spain, I flew through his book, The Year of Living Biblically, and once I got to the States, I immediately bought and read another of his books.  So, here is my newest review.   Enjoy!

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Title:  The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

Author: A.J. Jacobs

Synopsis: “Now comes a collection of his [A.J. Jacob’s] most hilarious and thought-provoking experiments yet. In his role as human guinea pig, Jacobs fearlessly takes on a series of life-altering challenges that provides readers with equal parts insight and humor. (And which drives A.J.’s patient wife, Julie, to the brink of insanity.)” 

ISBN: 1416599061

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment

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 My Review:

Life is an experiment in and of itself.  Whether it’s when we fall in love, attend college, or have kids, each event brings a new and exciting adventure.  However, what happens when we decide to go beyond these common and everyday goals, and instead intentionally experiment with the bizarre and out of the ordinary?

Well, just ask A.J. Jacobs.  He has been living as his own personal guinea pig for most of his adult life.  From posing nude at the request of Mary-Louise Parker, to living like George Washington, to being his wife’s servant, Jacobs lives his life as if he is constantly being studied by a team of mad-scientists.  Add on more zany life-altering experiments such as being a human unitasker, having no filter between his brain and mouth, and outsourcing his entire everyday life, and you have yourself a book!

Jacobs is hard not to fall in love with.  His writing is witty, organized – his notes in the back of the book are as good to read as the actual stories themselves – and he’s hilarious as hell.  When you are actually able to laugh out loud at a sentence, or read a paragraph to your spouse, then you know you’re reading something good!  Not to mention that he is the definition of an “average Joe” (in a good way!), which makes all his books even more interesting to read.

The Guinea Pig Diaries is one of those books that is hard to put down.  Once one chapter – or experiment – is finished, the next one instantly calls as you want to see how crazier Jacobs’ life can get! 

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Purchase it at Amazon.com here: The Guinea Pig Diaries 

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Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2011*

The Year of Living Biblically [Book Review]

As I have mentioned, I do not follow any type of religion, but I do enjoy learning and researching about religion.  I asked my mom to get this book for my birthday, and she did.  So, here is my review.   Enjoy!

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Title:  The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

Author: A.J. Jacobs

Synopsis: “Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to follow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.” 

ISBN: 0743291476

The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible

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 My Review:

The Bible has been described as many things.  Some look to the Bible as a guide and source of rules to live their life by, while others only think of the Bible as a collection of stories and myths.  Even those who believe the Bible as fact, do not necessarily follow it in its entirety.  However, what happens to someone’s life when they do in fact follow the Bible as literally as possible?

A.J. Jacobs takes us on a year-long journey as he strives, and sometimes struggles, to follow the Bible as literally as he can.  Interested in religion, though a self-proclaimed agnostic, Jacobs is searching to find many things throughout his year of biblical literalism.  Can and should the Bible be taken literally, especially in the modern era?  What happens to one’s faith when they devote their lives to the Bible?  And what can be learned about everyday life from the Old and New testament?

Jacobs takes on the role of a naïve but interested student as he consults many different religious teachers and mentors to aid him throughout his journey.  He takes his biblical project seriously, and tries to adhere to every commandment and lesson in the Bible.  From stoning adulterers – which I laughed hysterically throughout – to using a specific hyssop paint brush to paint his door with lamb blood during Passover, it seems as if the rules never stop and his beard continues to grow.

The Year of Living Biblically is a thought-provoking and hilarious read.  Broken down in different sections pertaining to different Bible passages and their corresponding rules and lessons, it is an easy read, and I had trouble putting it down before going straight to the next month’s chapter.  Filled with humor and pure honesty, Jacobs’ writing is captivating, and this factor has made him my newest favorite non-fiction writer.  Whether you are a religious person, interested in religion, or just looking for an entertaining read, The Year of Living Biblically is a must-read for everyone.  

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Purchase it at Amazon.com here: The Year of Living Biblically

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Has anyone read this book?  If yes, what was your take on it?  If not, do you plan on reading it?  Let us know in the comment section below!

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*Note: The synopsis and photo were taken from Goodreads.com.  The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2011*

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank (Review)

I purchased this book for .50 cents at a garage sale and finished reading it on Monday.  I immediately started reading a new book and have had no motivation to write this review.  However, today I am going to sit down and write it because this book definitely deserves our attention.

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Title:  The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier

Author: Thad Carhart

Synopsis: “Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood.  Intrigued by its simple sign – Desforges Pianos – he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop’s imperious owner.  Unable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view.  Luc, the altier’s master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano.  Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history and stories of the people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing.  The Piano on the Left Bank is at once a beguiling portrait of a Paris not found on any map and a tender account of the awakening of a lost childhood passion.

ISBN: 978-0375758621

 The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, by Thad Carhart Cover Image.

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 My Review:

I picked up this book with never having heard of it before and did not know what to expect.  Sometimes books captivate you from the beginning and sometimes they take a while to get into.  The Piano Shop on the Left Bank hooked me from the moment I read the synopsis on the back cover.

While you can find a piano in many homes throughout the world, they are most likely used as “furniture” rather than as an instrument.  Yet, the piano has a vast history and many connections to the past and throughout the book, the author, Thad Carhart, dedicates chapters to the workings, antiquity and people behind one of the greatest instruments.  Though it was interesting to learn how a piano really works and what each particular piece that makes up the piano inside and out is called, I did feel that the chapters dedicated to these descriptions were a bit long.  Maybe it’s just because I have a short attention span and always need “book action” to be happening, but while I found it a little boring during these particular chapters, other readers may be extremely captivated by how a piano is built, how it produces sound and who has left their mark on the piano world.

Since the book is a memoir – non-fiction – the characters are based off of real people in the real world.  The “characters” we are introduced to in The Piano Shop do not disappoint and really make up the entire book.  Carhart introduces his readers to a lover of everything piano and the future owner of the piano shop, past piano teachers that were both good and bad, and even a drunken piano tuner.  The people Thad befriends throughout his music quest and his encounters with each of them, which he dutifully describes throughout his writing, is what really makes the book so good.  The people in the book are so endearing that Thad even says in his acknowledgments, ‘Please don’t try to find Luc or Mathilde or any of the others; they are not waiting to be discovered’.

Finally, the description of his Paris neighborhood, the knowledge he provides for the instrument he loves and the different experiences he shares with us, that’s what kept me reading to the end.  I finished this book in such a short time because I wanted to keep reading and I wanted to share it with my sister whom has played the piano for many years and is currently studying French.

I highly recommend reading The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart.  Music, Paris, pianos, a love connection between a man and an instrument…who doesn’t love that?!


 

Purchase it at Amazon.com here: The Piano Shop on the Left Bank  

*Note: The review above is written by me.  © Kalie Lyn 2011*