25 April 2014

Book Review: I Dated This Guy Once...

I was given the opportunity to review I Dated This guy Once... by Toni Rae through the website 20 Something Bloggers.  Here is a synopsis of the book:

In a book that is part-Eat, Pray, Love and part-Sex and the City, once young woman takes readers on her adventures in 21st century dating and shares all that she has learned along the way with plenty of laughter, wisdom, and points to ponder for the modern woman. 
After being laid-off from her job for the third time, Toni Rae found herself with a lot of extra time on her hands. Hungry for a new environment and potential adventures, she accepted a position teaching English in South Korea. Sitting by the ocean, thousands of miles away from all that she knew and loved, and with eight years’ worth of memorable dating experiences to her name, she began to write about these past relationships, and every inch of heartache and joy she had experienced, since the age of 18. The result is the wise, heart-warming and ever-so-relatable book, I Dated This Guy Once…., a story of life, love, traveling and spirituality, from a woman who has been through it all.

I wanted to like this book.  I really did.  I enjoy reading about others' life experiences, which is why I like to read blogs and lifestyle magazines, and why I blog myself.  But even more than the importance of the content I am reading is the quality of the writing itself.  Toni Rae's writing style in I Dated This Guy Once... did not work for me.  Her writing style was too colloquial for book; it would be better off read as a blog, and in short increments at a time.  In short, while I was amused by the stories she was telling, I didn't have any reason to care about reading hundreds of pages of them all at once.

However, the individual stories themselves, or "episodes" as they are referred to in the book, were entertaining.  Any young adult can see pieces of herself in the stories of others, so even though I could not relate on the relationship front, I did relate to the messages the stories tried to convey- the trying to figure out who you are, the desire for freedom but also some stability...those are all things young adults are trying to figure out, so those aspects resonated with me.

I think that for anyone who is thinking of reading I Dated This Guy Once... should plan to read it in short bursts and not sit down expecting to finish it in a couple of days like I tried to.  That being said, the messages were ones that any young adult can relate to and so I would recommend this book to other young women who enjoy reading lifestyle blogs or the like in general.  For more information, visit the book's website!

FTC Disclaimer:  I received this book for free in exchange for my review.  All opinions expressed are my own, and not influenced in any way by the author or the receipt of the item for free.

14 April 2014

Book Review~ Falling Into Place: A Memoir of Overcoming

I was privileged to receive a copy of Falling into Place:  A Memoir of Overcoming, by Hattie Kauffman, for review.  It was released in paperback on April 1, 2014.  Hattie Kauffman was the first Native American to file a report on a national evening news broadcast, and went on to be a news anchor for ABC and the CBS.  She wrote this book while dealing with the emotions of going through a divorce, and explores how those feelings mirror ones she felt as a child, growing up poor and frightened and hungry.  The book is told in alternating passages from Hattie's childhood and her present day life.  Each chapter explores one theme or emotion, and the passages from each portion of her life reflect the parallels she sees.  These themes include reconciliation, home, overcoming, divorce, and faith.

Faith was a very prominent theme in this book, as through her divorce, Hattie explores religion and ultimately becomes a Christian.  Although it took her until late in life to really explore religion, there still were parallels with her childhood as she had an aunt who tried to teach her about Christianity.  While I found her story and journey interesting, this aspect of the book was also one that I had the most problem with.  The way that religion is written into the book increases dramatically at one point, and I had trouble following the story through all of the specifically religious things that punctuated (and ultimately overwhelmed) the text.  My perspective on this is as a non-Christian who is interested in learning about other religions; that is why I accepted this book for review.  But ultimately I felt as though this book was directed only at other Christians, and not at a broad audience like I was expecting.

Hattie does have a very interesting story and I think that certain parts of it will resonate with nearly any reader.  For example, the early part of her faith journey is something that I can relate to:  the sense of exploration and questions and discovery.  But there are so many components to her life that anyone can find something in this text that they also have experienced, whether it be family instability, divorce, friendships, hunger, or something else.  Hattie has not had an easy life- and that makes for both a compelling read, and a story that is very relatable.

Overall, I would say that the book is very well structured and written, but the content may turn off some readers who are not Christian due to the sheer amount of religious texts and analogies that are a large part of the last third of the book.

FTC Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher.  All opinions expressed are my own, and have not been influenced in any way.
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