Saturday, January 26, 2013

Book #4: Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

I was lucky enough to receive yet another box of books from my dear friend @kayakgal. The first book I read from the box was Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan. I'm so glad I picked it up first. What a fascinating read!

The author chronicles her personal medical mystery in Brain on Fire. Much of the book is derived from her research because she has few memories of the traumatic ordeal. In the beginning, she thinks the is bipolar. Soon, she starts experiencing seizures. The doctors can't figure out what is going on with her. They run tests, conduct MRIs and EEGs, but everything comes back negative. They don't know whether what she is suffering from is physical or psychological. She is obviously physically unwell, but at the same time she is exhibiting signs of psychosis.

Finally, a doctor comes on her case who not only tells her he will figure it out, he actually does. He does much more for her than the doctor who said she simply had a drinking problem.

A secondary part of the story is Susannah's relationships. She and her father become much closer because of her ordeal. Her fairly new boyfriend stuck by her, something I bet many guys would not have done. Her mother, to whom she had always been close, was the person she took her anger out on. However, they too became even closer.

Susannah does an amazing job of putting her story together. Luckily, she had journals, videos, and memories from those around her to turn to. It is fascinating to read about how her illness started and quickly worsened until she was basically catatonic, then how she began to recover and regain her life.

She also does a great job at explaining technical neuroscience in a way that is understandable to those with a minimal knowledge of such medical terms. I'm so glad I got to read Susannah's story and hope the best for her in the future.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Book #3: Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper

When I heard that Homer the Blind Cat's mom, Gwen Cooper, was writing another book I was very excited. Homer's biography was a favorite of mine, so I knew I would love Gwen's new novel.

Love Saves the Day is a work of fiction, but the two cats in the book, Prudence and Honey, are based on Homer's real-life sisters, Scarlett and Vashti, both now at the Rainbow Bridge.

Prudence lives a happy life with Sarah, her Most Important Person, until one day, Sarah doesn't come home. Prudence then goes to live with Laura, Sarah's daughter, but is sad and confused about all of the changes. Laura is going through her own confusion and sadness. Through the hard times, Prudence and Laura start to bond.

Prudence is a very proper cat. She is dismayed when humans show bad manners toward her. She also doesn't understand when humans don't pick up on her very clear signals. Sarah was always polite and knew how things were supposed to be done. Laura and her husband Josh need training in these aspects. It's a task Prudence takes on, all while trying not to lose her Sarah-memories.

Love Saves the Day is very moving. All of the love between the characters is beautiful. You will most certainly need tissues. I cried a lot!

Harvey gives it two paws up.


Sarah and Laura have a very strained relationship. Chapter 13 finally explains the reason for this distance. I cried a lot during this chapter. It took me back to last February, watching our apartment building burn down. We, along with all of our neighbors, lost our home. One neighbor in particular was not allowed to go back in to get his cat.
It was almost as if Gwen had been there that night and fictionalized the scene. In the book, Sarah and Laura watch their apartment building get torn down while their upstairs neighbor begs to go back in for his cat. At one point, I was sure Gwen was trying to kill me. I sobbed trying to get through chapter 13. Gwen did a beautiful job describing a horrific moment in people's lives.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Book 2: The Long Quiche Goodbye-A Cheese Shop Mystery by Avery Aames

I love cheese. I really love cheese. When I spotted a series called "A Cheese Shop Mystery" I knew I had to read the first book. Written by Avery Aames, The Long Quiche Goodbye is a cozy mystery with Charlotte Bessette acting as the novice detective while she is busy running her family's cheese shop, Fromagerie Bessette.

At the grand opening of the store, Ed Woodhouse is murdered right outside the front door. Charlotte's Grandmère, also the town's mayor, was found near his body, covered in blood. She claims innocence, but is arrested.

Charlotte goes to work trying to figure out who the real killer is. Could it be Kristine, Ed's wife & Grandmère's opponant for mayor? Maybe it's Meredith, Charlotte's best friend. Charlotte comes up with many different suspects, each of whom she thinks may have good reason to kill Ed.

I felt the book moved a little slowly in the beginning, but once it got rolling it was easy to stick with. A bonus of the book is that the cheese dishes mentioned throughout the story are actually shared at the end of the book with their full recipes!

I'm definitely going to read the next book in the series, Lost and Fondue. I have to find out what happens with Charlotte and hunky Jordan!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Book 1: Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski

I decided to read Goodbye, Friend: Healing Wisdom for Anyone Who Has Ever Lost a Pet by Gary Kowalski first thing this year. I lost my dear kitty Sebastian last June and have had a very hard time dealing with the grief. I wanted to start the new year with a fresh look at the loss and try to move on.

I'm so glad I read this book. It helped me put things into perspective about my loss. Mr. Kowalski talks about the cycle of life in a way that helped me accept things. He also spoke about the afterlife, which put my mind at ease.

There is a section of readings at the end of the book that can be used in a memorial ceremony for a deceased pet. They vary in length and style. Some are biblical passages and some are quotes from books. Whatever your religious views, you should find something that fits your needs.

I would suggest this book for anyone who has lost a beloved pet. This is also a book that I would consider gifting to a friend who is dealing with this type of loss.

The book is short. I read it in just a couple of hours. It's a book that I know I will read again sometime in the future, as our pets just don't live as long as we would like.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013 Reading Challenge

I wasn't able to complete my 2012 reading challenge. I only read 20 books and I had set a goal of 40. I'm slowly rebuilding my library after last February's fire, so I have plenty to read! I'm going to try for 40 books again this year.

We are moving into a new home next month and it's my dream to have my own reading nook in the basement. I even have a cozy reading chair picked out! I might add a few updates about that to this blog as it comes along.

I would like to re-read Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain this year. I also have a book of daily devotionals for pet lovers. Everything else is up in the air. As I find books that look good or are recommended to me, I'll read them.

I'm looking forward to a year of great books and I wish the same for you!

2013 Reading Challenge

2013 Reading Challenge
Amy has read 0 books toward her goal of 40 books.