Review: Still Alice

This is another unusual read for me. I picked up this book and got caught up in the premise. What happens when a renowned Harvard professor gets diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease. How does she cope? How does her family cope? How do priorities change and how does the way they relate to each other change?

Alice Howland is that Harvard professor. She’s known far and wide for her knowledge and insight. She leads a very busy, fulfilling life with her husband, also a hard-working professional and their three grown children.

We meet her as she’s rushing from one conference to another, presenting here, lecturing there. She’s professional, intelligent, able to multitask…and then she can’t remember a word at her presentation. It’s nothing that hasn’t happened to everyone at least once, but it keeps happening to Alice. Then there are the little things that she just can’t find and one day, she gets lost while running the same, familiar route.

Not being stupid, Alice realizes something is wrong and goes to check it out. The doctor not only confirms something is wrong, he explains it has probably been wrong for quite some time, she has just been able to cope because she’s very intelligent and she hasn’t noticed.

Once Alice finds out her diagnosis, the book becomes a map through the coping mechanisms of Alice and her family. We get to see it all through Alice…though she isn’t always the most reliable witness and gets worse as her illness progresses. She forgets who the characters in the book are and, at times, we have to decipher where she is or who she’s talking to from clues in her description.

The relationships in the family change with the illness. The relationship that I found most interesting was the one with her youngest daughter. Alice’s most troubling daughter, Lydia slowly becomes a supportive ally. Alice has to learn to think differently when she can’t simply use dialogue and words to analyze others. And through her new lenses, she sees things in Lydia that she had missed before.

This is definitely not a romance book or something I would normally read but I found it fascinating. One, it was really realistic. I could tell the author had done her research on the disease. Two, it was paced really well and we went from not knowing to knowing, organically and smoothly. And finally, the writing was magnetic. I really couldn’t put the thing down. I wanted to know what was going to happen and what the result would be for Alice.

Certainly, it’s not a book I’d recommend for someone searching for romance. It’s a book I’d recommend for someone looking for an interesting, quick, captivating read. It’s a story of a family coping with a life-changing event and how their relationships alter and change as they do. The book’s portrait of the illness is respectful but still manages to carry a punch in the story. All of it added up for a great read for me and explains why the book became not only a New York Times Bestseller but also a movie.

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

 

Review: Letters from the Country

Letters from the country is non-fiction that reads like fiction. It’s funny and light and composed of small chapters detailing the adventures of the author, Marsha Boulton–a journalist who moved to the country to raise sheep.

This book reminds me a lot of James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. Though there are parts that are sad, most are funny and some are outright hilarious.

The characters in the book are mostly animals. Determined sheep, stubborn cows who run away, quirky dogs and very silly chickens. Marsha tries to keep things neat, organized and clean and, of course, the animals will have none of it getting in the way in their unique and very often funny ways.

The neighbours are there too with their country-quirks and sayings but it’s the animals that made me laugh. I have dogs and I can relate so well to the fiascos her brood creates.

It’s an easy to book to pick up and you barely have to make a commitment. Each chapter is self-contained organized by seasons. The gift is the humour. I’ve laughed and laughed with this book.

It not only won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour but it inspired a series of books along the same lines. I definitely recommend it.

(credit:amazon.ca)

(credit:amazon.ca)

Tuesday Teaser

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“In an instant I saw the ewes lift their heads from the petunias in unison. If they had been cartoon characters they would have all sported a light bulb turning on in the balloon above their small brains.”

Pg. 120 from Tales from the Country by Marsha Boulton. A note on this book, it won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour.

(credit:amazon.ca)

(credit:amazon.ca)

What do you like to read?

I read romance. Inside that genre, I prefer historical or contemporary or paranormal but I’ll take any romance over other fiction. For me, there’s something about a love story that is just missing in other books and I go back unerringly to that genre time after time.

But, what about you? What do you read? See, I have no idea. So I thought: poll!

Share with me. What do you like to read? Thanks for taking the time to share!

Book review (NOT Romance!)

Okay, this is completely new for me….but I read a book that was not romance. I read Crow Lake by Mary Lawson and, wow, was it ever amazing. I loved it.

Crow Lake is the story of a family, well the story of the children of that family and how they cope with tragedy. While it’s not a tear jerker, it’s both gripping and interesting. It certainly caught my attention from the start. It’s not romance, it’s the story of a real-to-life family. Their personalities are honest and complete with everything from quirks to flaws. I felt like I’d known them for years.

I don’t usually do non-romance. But this one was wonderful. Well-written without dragging or using symbolism that I didn’t get, interesting without bordering on the ridiculous and filled with excellent dialogue. It was most definitely a page-turner because I really, really wanted to know what was going to happen…and that kept me, well, turning the pages.

I highly recommend it.

 

P.S. I also read Lover Unbound by J.R.Ward and that was simply delicious and also romance. 🙂