Happy Holidays!

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Since today is Christmas, I won’t be reviewing a book. Instead I’ll be creating a feast for my family, unwrapping gifts and spending time with my loved ones! I hope that you’re doing something similar.

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I’ll be back next week with a post on my love of books. After the New Year I’ll once again return to reviewing the books that I read. I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday and enjoy spending time with your loved ones!

The Doctor’s Wife by Elizabeth Brundage – Book Reviw

The Doctor's Wife

This novel takes on some major issues. The story follows a doctor and his family in the wake of his decision to work at a woman’s health clinic.  There is work-life balance, infidelity; mental illness; and abortion. While tackling these issues, the book is also a who-done-it thriller. I found myself understanding most of the characters motivations, while not agreeing with some of them.

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The ability to make most of these disparate characters understandable really helped, as some of the viewpoints were extreme. The “right to life” group would stop at nothing in order to push their agenda on others; up to and including murder. While this is a real life scenario, it is also illogical and does nothing to advance their political agenda.

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I did like the fact that all the main characters were portrayed in a mostly sympathetic way, including Annie (the doctor’s wife), her husband Michael; Simon Haas (the artist), and his mentally unstable wife Lydia.

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While my main criteria for liking a book is whether or not it made me think, this novel did that. I also enjoyed the thriller aspect of the book very much, and stayed up late reading it until I found out how it all turned out. I highly recommend this book

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood – Book Review

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This is one of those books that make you think. There is so much going on here that Atwood will leave you pondering long after you finish reading this novel. On the surface, this novel is another dystopian plot of life after a financial meltdown, only this time there has been absolutely no “bounce-back” for anyone except the extremely wealthy.

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For the characters of Stan and his wife Charmaine, living in their car; moving it to keep away from gangs of robbers and rapists multiple times every night, has become much too difficult. When they see an ad for a new kind of life they decide to apply. This process involves listening to lectures and signing their lives away. They agree to live in the dual communities of Positron and Consilience. For one month they will live in the community of Consilience, a seemingly “normal” town, and the next month they live in Positron (the prison). Even the house they live in is also lived in by their opposites. While they are in prison, the other couple lives in their house. No one “owns” anything – all is shared by the community. As it goes in all these plots, people are none too interested in finding out about what is really going on behind the scenes.

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Stan’s prison job has him taking care of the chickens, while Charmaine works on the medical end of things. This is the part that I found fascinating. How did Charmaine come to be the follower that she obviously is? How much adversity does one have to go through in order to blindly follow orders without question?  While I felt that there was a lot of time spent on extra-marital sex, which I felt was just a bit (very) long and boring, the rest of the book was extremely interesting due to the questions it brought up. What would someone do to stay “safe”?

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I recommend this book, since Atwood always makes you think.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert – Book Review

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First I should start out by saying that after I bought this book, I waited to read it like an unwrapped gift I was giving myself. I had expectations for this book, and I’m glad to report that I enjoyed it very much. What I really liked about the book was how Gilbert refused to indulge in the so-called “tortured artist” belief. She really focused on how much practicing creativity in our lives can add to and improve the way we live. I liked her positive belief in creativity itself.

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If you are looking for a book that will tell you only a certain type of person is creative and that the rest of us aren’t, this isn’t that book. Gilbert is basically telling us that we are all creative, and deserve to live creative lives. Is she saying that it’s easy? No, absolutely not. However, she is making the case that everyone is creative. That being creative is something you must practice if you want to live a more fulling life.

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By calling creativity Big Magic, Gilbert is trying to hand inspiration and creative ideas back to the masses. Being an artist should not be only the dancer on stage; or the painter who sells his work for a lot of money; or even the writer on the best seller list. How about the mother who cooks outstanding meals with pizzazz and love? Or the writer who writes every day, never sells a book, but puts it out there for the rest of us to read on their blog? Or the painter who paints all year to give the results as Christmas gifts? The same is true of the knitter or crafter. Creativity doesn’t belong to only a “special” class of people, it belongs to all of us. I highly recommend this book. Let it change your life.

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