In Dreams Awake

Classic literature, tea, and a sweater....


Zelda - Nancy Milford The legendary story of Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald is laid out in this biography of the troubled girl from Alabama. Between Zelda's mental instability and Scott's excessive drinking, no one, not even them, was really sure which came first. Did Scott's drinking make Zelda go crazy or did Zelda's unpredictable behavior cause Scott to drink? What is for sure is that Mrs. Fitzgerald provided a lot of material for Mr. Fitzgerald's novels at times even copying whole passages from her journals.

The biography itself was well written and well researched. Some may find it too in-depth, especially the parts where Zelda's novel and a couple of Scott's are detailed for a number of pages. Though I think Nancy Milford was showing the parallels between their lives and their writing. A must read for literature students.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming - Joshilyn Jackson The Girl Who Stopped Swimming is quite a misleading book. Just when you think it's going to be a ghost story, it's not. Just when you think it's going to be about recovering from sexual abuse, it's not. Just when you think it's going to be about marriage infidelity, it's not. It's not even about a girl who went swimming. I think the author's intent was to write a novel about poverty in America, to showcase the stark contrasts in growing up in a suburban gated community versus an impoverished one. This would have been an excellent idea had it been more developed. All of these topics were tossed around, but we never settled down in one area. It felt like all these carrots kept being dangled in front of the reader just to be yanked away at the last minute, as if to say, nope, we're going to talk about something else now.

When you read a title like The Girl Who Stopped Swimming your immediate questions and reasons for reading are Why did she stop swimming? and Why was she swimming in the first place? What happened to her? I read the whole novel and I still do not know the answers to these questions. It wasn't even metaphorical, like the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest REALLY DID kick the hornet's nest. Overall, contrived plot, flat characters, and chaotic story where nothing much happened.


Revolution - Jennifer Donnelly The world needs more stories about time traveling in Paris.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - Seth Grahame-Smith Rare is a book where you laugh and learn at the same time. Loved it.

Rick Steves' London 2011

Rick Steves' London 2011 - Rick Steves, Gene Openshaw Tons of practical info- I read the 2012 version which has information about visiting the Olympics site.

A Moveable Feast

A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway Brilliant. Fitzgerald could create a flawless story, Hemingway could create a flawless sentence.

Leaving Van Gogh

Leaving Van Gogh - Carol Wallace Somewhat disappointed by this book. I'd say it's because I love van Gogh so much, but my love for the artist is really the only thing that kept me reading. The writing was excellent, but nothing much happened in this novel. It could have been so much more. It's still fiction, so go ahead and make some stuff up- like a romance between van Gogh and the doctor's daughter? It was right there! Also, somewhat poor timing in light of the recent speculations that van Gogh was indeed murdered and did not commit suicide.

The Battle Begins

The Battle Begins - Tony Abbott Excellent for reluctant readers. Also good for kids who want to read the Percy Jackson series but aren't quite ready for it yet. This book is shorter and easier. 4th grade.

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris

The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris - John Baxter Joyous

We Need to Talk About Kevin

We Need to Talk About Kevin - Lionel Shriver This book failed in many ways. I didn't buy any of it. I didn't buy that the mother, Eva, who is obviously educated and intelligent- evidenced by all those big words she uses- just accepts one doctor's diagnosis that there was nothing wrong with her son. That it never occurred to her to get counseling, even after the time he was sick and she saw a glimmer of a sweet young boy in there. I didn't buy how she was unwilling to bring a dog into the home because she was scared Kevin would hurt it in some way, yet she didn't have this same concern bringing another child into the home? I didn't buy that such an independent woman- again evidenced by her world travels and business savvy- take so much verbal abuse from her husband.

Because really, Eva, we need to talk about Franklin. I despised this character the most. Supposedly he was the one who read all the parenting books, yet he must have skipped over the parts where it says it's important to present a united front as parents. If nothing else, this book made me even more thankful that I have a husband who shows me nothing but respect especially in front of our children and demands from them nothing but respect for their mother.

And this is where ultimately the book fails in its' intentions, which I've read was meant to be a feminist book? To expose that not all mothers get that loving feeling? Well, of course, but once again, even in book reviews of a fictional book, the mother is the one who takes all the heat. While there were many forces at work here, the father is the one who did the most damage. He never required of Kevin, throughout his entire childhood, to pay any consequences for his behavior. It wasn't until the end, when Kevin was faced with very real and very dire consequences, that he finally showed a sliver of remorse. But then it was too late.

I wasn't sure if I wanted to give this book a 1 star or a 5 star rating. It kept me turning the pages. I thought the writing was good. It will probably stay with me for a while. But that's the problem, I don't want it to. I want to cleanse myself of this book. I felt like I needed to take a shower as soon as I finished it. Not that I dislike sad or disturbing stories. This one just didn't have any redeeming value through the heartache.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer A writer named Jonathan from Brooklyn. Well, then of course it's a literary masterpiece. From an artistic point of view I can respect this work, much in the same way I can respect a Picasso painting. But I'm more emotionally drawn to the Impressionists. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close contains many elements of a Picasso painting: things are disjointed here, something is out of place there, there seems to be a lot of chaos over here, yet somehow when you take it all in at once, the big picture emerges. It's a collage of lives traumatized by loss. And aren't we all suffering in one way or another? Art representing life, yes, Success!

Except I wasn't grabbed emotionally by this book. I marvel at the readers who shed tears. I'm jealous! I'm a crier! I remember the books that made me cry. And there was so much potential here. So much! Sept. 11. Dresden. Emotionally unavailable mother. School bullies.

But I guess that's what's so wonderful about art. It's not independent of the beholder's perspective.

Bob Dylan in America

Bob Dylan in America - Sean Wilentz Very well written, but I would only recommend this book for the die-hard Dylan fans. Not so much a biography as a commentary on Dylan's art.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium Trilogy)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium Trilogy) - Stieg Larsson Loved it, but not as good as the first 2. There was a lot of "fluff" unnecessary to the plot line and not near enough of Miss Salander. I felt kind of ripped off. Well, until the end, which does make the previous 450 pages worth it. Lisbeth Salander will be one of those characters that stay with us forever in literary history.

The Girl Who Played With Fire: A Novel

The Girl Who Played With Fire: A Novel - Stieg Larsson Better than the first one. Also, as a woman, I'm thankful I wasn't born in Sweden.

The Big One-Oh

The Big One-Oh - Dean Pitchford Funny book for boys. 4th grade.

Then Again

Then Again - Diane Keaton There are few genuine people in Hollywood. I always felt that Diane Keaton was one of them. This book proves it. It's nothing if not honest. I may be biased in giving it 5 stars because I've always been a huge Diane Keaton fan. Is it the best written memoir? Perhaps not. But as Woody Allen would say- there is no "best" in art.

I admire the bravery for which she presents her insecurities and shortcomings. Annie Hall is my favorite movie. I thought she was brilliant and beautiful- still is- and I've always wanted to spend an afternoon with her. For her to have low self-esteem is unfathomable to me, but it just goes to show that nobody has the perfect life. Many of us struggle with the idea of perfection. This is just another woman's story of that struggle. She just happens to be famous.

The book is mostly intertwined with writings from her mother who kept an astonishing 85 journals, yet never wrote a memoir of her own even though she said she wanted to. Diane Keaton made this memoir for her mother too who sadly passed away of Alzheimer's. Her words evoke a sweet portrayal of a mother/daughter relationship despite the complications and imperfections.

Not a tell-all book, despite her relationships with film making royalty: Woody Allen, Warren Beatty, and Al Pacino. Again, a genuine person who's above that.

Also, she has a gorgeous library. Check it out:

Currently reading

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Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales
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