Every once in awhile, I have a book that I know is going to be a beast to read. It is long, it is dull. It is more like a text book than entertainment.

But…I make myself read those kinds of books every now and then. I feel they are important. And I don’t mean that to sound pretentious. They are important for me. I could care less if you read them. But my brain craves expansion–so even while I yawn and scan and swear that I’m going to quit…I force myself to read one more chapter, until I reach the end.


Washington was such a book for me. A massive biography on our first president. 900+ pages kind of massive. It was a lot of Washington to take in. I was sure ready to be done by the end.

Ok. For the sake of review, I should stop and say this:  Chernow clearly did a great deal of research. And for fans of political/historical figure bios–they are probably going to find this fascinating. It would take my husband a year (or more) to read this ,but he would like it.

There’s a reason I stuck with it for all 900 pages. The information was interesting. Washington is kind of a ghost figure in our history–he’s there, and we know he’s important, but we don’t learn that much about him. Not like we do Lincoln or FDR or JFK.

Chernow covers everything in his book–childhood, his courting days, the entire scope of Washington’s military career, and of course–the founding of country and his resulting presidency. There’s a lot to read and learn about here, and while yes, it was long, I’m better for it.

I did find it dull and dragging, but I think that is more because I prefer books with plots than because the actual writing was bad. There was just so much information to take in. I’m also taking into consideration that I was reading this during a pretty crappy family moment, and I was trying to get it done before I had to go home to Indiana. I will say that it was a great book to absorb while not being able to devote myself entirely to a storyline, so there’s that.

If you enjoy this sort of book, and/or are interested in our country’s beginnings, I would say pick this one up. It definitely has merit.


Killing Kennedy

Certain moments define a generation. They are the points in our history that we talk about forever, the stories we put in our books, the memories we tell our grandchildren.

For my generation, that moment was 9/11. I will never forget sitting in a testing room with 20 of my classmates, finishing early and hearing the buzz of the nervous teachers, then watching in horror when they turned on the TV.

Before that poignant day, I heard so many adults say, “I’ll never remember where I was the day Kennedy was shot.” And I always thought that was such a weird comment, but now I get it. Those memories really do live forever.

Until recently, the 1960s seemed so long ago. Camelot seemed so old-fashioned and unrealistic, and I was never really interested in that time period. It bored me to death, to be honest. But now, with civil rights issues suddenly exploding, the 1960s are no longer boring…they are happening all over again.


My husband has been reading…or at least buying…Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Series, and so far has found them very interesting. I don’t lean quite so Right, so I was avoiding these, afraid that they would be a little too political for me. However, Killing Kennedy really didn’t have any political slant at all, for being a book about a president. Most of the base details I already knew, but it was interesting to ready about the finer points of what happened leading up to the days of the assassination and what happened after. The book was obviously well researched and well written.

My only real criticism is that the authors (not sure who did most of the writing) use the world “belie” waaaaaay too much. Seriously, it’s a weird word and they use it over and over and over again. I know. I’m nitpicking. But it stuck out at me.

If you like histories, this is a good one. It reminded me of the Pearl Harbor history that I read of FDR not too long ago. It wasn’t a full biography of JFK, just a moment in time. I won’t be so hesitant to read the other three O’Reilly books in the series now.


Counting this for PopSugar #43. It takes place in Dallas, which is not my hometown but it’s where I live now. My home town is a tiny town of 10,000 people.  #43. A book that takes place in your hometown.

41: A Portrait of My Father

Finally, a “husband book” that I actually enjoyed! While I am only recently educating myself on current events and politics, R is EXTREMELY political. Oh man. If you bring up that subject at the dinner table, you better be ready for a debate. While he is not super conservative in a lot of things, he is very much a Republican…and so the more liberal I find myself…the more we disagree.

However, no matter what side of the coin I find myself, I will always find the lives of our presidents interesting. They have an incredibly difficult job, and the media twists and scandalizes them so much during their campaigns. At some point, it’s nice to just look back and see what created those leaders we see on our TVs every night.


George HW Bush was elected when I was 3, so I barely remember him being president. I mostly remember him running against Clinton in the 90s. However, I’ve grown up with him being in the background my entire life, through his charity and political events, especially once George W came into the seat.

41 confirmed what I always imagined him to be:  a kind, grandfatherly figure, much like my own grandpa (they even had similar glasses). George W, of course, lists his father’s political achievements, but really the book isn’t overly focused on policy. It wasn’t hard for me to follow what was going on. There was quite a bit of name dropping, but that is something I expected. Mostly, it’s just a son being proud of his dad, so much so that he followed in his footsteps.

The writing is typical George W, so don’t expect anything super fancy here. For me, that was a good thing, because it meant I was able to understand it! I’ve read political bios where I didn’t make it past the first chapter. I think most Republicans (and maybe some Democrats too) are going to appreciate this book. I know my husband will, once he gets around to reading it. 😉 Happy Birthday, honey.


The Suicide Index

With a title like The Suicide Index, you know this isn’t going to be an easy review…

This isn’t a book I can just say, “Oh, I really liked this!” Because I didn’t really like reading it…although it was a very good, very well written book. It was a hard book to read, a very emotional book to read.


First things first, this is nonfiction. Joan Wickersham is writing about the death of her father. More specifically, Joan Wickersham is writing about the suicide of her father. She calls herself a biographer many times during her story, but if anything, it’s more of a memoir about her own journey, than an actual biography of her father. The structure of The Suicide Index is unique–it is an actual index, with the chapter titles in alphabetical order. They all start with the word “suicide,” but then range on varying topics associated with the main.

It’s hard to say who the true audience of this book is. It is written out of the grief, anger, and healing of a surviving family member, so it is a very harsh reality of what it feels like to be left alive after a loved one kills themselves. It could be a rough read for those suffering from depression, but it could also be a big wake up call, for those who need one.

Joan says this:

“Did he know what it would do to us–my mother, my sister, and me?

If so, then he did something unforgiveable.

If not, then I wish he had known. But only if he really did have a choice, and only if knowing would have stopped him.”


I think this is a very important memoir. But tread carefully, if you do read it. There is a lot of pain here, so be prepared to open some wounds. Keep a journal nearby, or a friend if you need one.

And, if you do need real help, ask for it. I’ve posted helplines on the blog before, they can be found HERE.


(I’m not doing a separate Teaser Tuesday post today. Any quote I could have taken from this book would have been too raw without the context of the review.)

WWW Wednesday 11/12/2014




What are you currently reading?

Fairies by Skye Alexander



What did you just finish reading?

My Days with Princess Grace of Monaco by Joan Dale

A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Tolkien by Devin Brown


What do you think you’ll read next?

Clash of Kings by George RR Martin

The Iron Locket by Samantha Warren

Flesh and Blood by Michael Cunningham


I told my husband I was going to do nothing but read this weekend, and since I’ve finished 3 books in 2 days…I think I’m doing pretty well!

When I first started getting into fantasy, I tried to watch The Lord of the Rings movies, and every time I did, I would get as far as the cornfield scene, and fall asleep, or get bored, and inevitably give up. Over and over someone would say “Haley, you would LOVE this, watch it!” But I just couldn’t get into them. And the idea of reading three volumes of that was just…ugh….no thanks.

But I kept seeing the excitement and obsession everyone had for Tolkien’s trilogy, and I just didn’t understand the fascination. What was I missing? And so, when I unpacked R’s book collection at our first apartment, and saw that he had not just LOTR, but also The Hobbit, I set out to conquer them. I was sure I’d hate it, but I had to know.

And then I couldn’t stop. I think it took me about a week to finish the four. And we watched the movies, of course. We haven’t gotten our hands on The Hobbit ones, and I’m dying to–we must, before December. (MARTIN FREEMAN AHHH WHY HAVE I NOT SEEN THESE YET).

And then I started learning more about where the myths came from, and reading online more about Tolkien. What a genius! I have a bunch of biographies tagged to read about him that I haven’t picked up yet, but the other day NetGalley sent me an ARC offer from Devin Brown, so of course I jumped on it.


At first, Tolkien is a little choppy. Or maybe I should say, “listy.” Here’s an event or a place, and here’s the connection Tolkien used for his books. And Brown does that over and over for the first few chapters. But then, the bio sort of finds the flow once he gets to school and it gets better after that.

The subtitle of the book is “How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote the Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century.” That really tells you what you are going to get here. There’s not a lot about his nature walks or how he came up with his maps here–which is a little of what I was hoping for, since I’ve read about some of that online. This is very much about his days at school and his professorship, and his development into languages. There is a bit into his relationship with CS Lewis and his marriage, but none of this book is supremely personal or detailed. It’s also not a very long book–I read it in about 3 hours, starting last night and finishing this morning.

Tolkien is a very good introduction to the author. I very much want to know more now about the pieces of his life that were described here, and I will be reading more about this incredibly intelligent man.


Disclaimer:  I was given an ecopy of this book for review by NetGalley.

The Innocent Man

My husband has about a bazillion John Grisham books, so they make their way into my TBR list every now and then. I had expected fiction when The Innocent Man appeared next on the list, but nope. This was nonfiction.


And the fact that this is a true story just royally pisses me off.

This is a story about two men, actually, who were tried AND CONVICTED, for a murder they did not commit. One was sentenced to life in prison, and the other, a man who was severely mentally ill, sentenced to the death penalty.

That’s horrible in itself, but that’s not even what made me so angry. Just the horrendous treatment of Ron, the abuse, the neglect. All of it. You have this bipolar, schizophrenic man in need of daily monitoring and he is repeatedly left to his own devices and constantly broken down and ridiculed. Grisham points out in almost every chapter where Ron will stop taking his medicine because he’s depressed or doesn’t understand what the medicine does (which is a symptom of his disease). And then he was in prison, the absolute abuse from the guards who knew how to push his buttons and make him collapse into a psychotic mess. Ugh. I just wanted to scream for someone to help him.

As far as writing style goes, I wasn’t a big fan. This was very reportish, not so much a story. There wasn’t much dialogue or live action, it was all very journalistic. Obviously I had very strong opinions about what I was reading, but it was a very boring read really. Also, Grisham kept going off on tangents about other cases and people out of nowhere. Unless you have a strong law background, those aren’t going to make a lot of sense.

This is probably a 2 star book for me. I have strong feelings about Ron for a few different reasons, but I didn’t really enjoy the book itself at all.