Sunday, February 22, 2009

Book Review: Galway Bay

Here is a brief description of "Galway Bay" from the Hachette website:

“Here at last is one Irish family's epic journey, capturing the tragedy and triumph of the Irish-American experience. In a rousing tale that echoes the myths and legends of Ireland herself, young Honora Keeley and Michael Kelly wed and start a family, inhabiting a hidden Ireland where fishermen and tenant farmers find solace in their ancient faith, songs, stories, and communal celebrations. Selling both their catch--and their crops--to survive, these people subsist on the potato crop--their only staple food. But when blight destroys the potatoes three times in four years, a callous government and uncaring landlords turn a natural disaster into The Great Starvation that will kill one million. Honora and Michael vow their children will live. The family joins two million other Irish refugees in one of the greatest rescues in human history: the Irish Emigration to America. Danger and hardship await them there. Honora and her unconventional sister Maire watch their seven sons as they transform Chicago from a frontier town to the "City of the Century", fight the Civil War, and enlist in the cause of Ireland's freedom. The Kelly clan is victorious. This heroic story sheds brilliant light on the ancestors of today's 44 million Irish Americans.”

When the package first arrived with Mary Pat Kelly’s “Galway Bay” to review, I will admit that I found the sheer size of the book to be a little bit daunting. Encompassing 562 pages, the work is not something that you are going to breeze through in a day. However, once I started reading the book, I found that it was very difficult to put down and even wish that it would have been a little bit longer!

If you have any Irish heritage or are interested in historical novels, then I think you will find this book to be very interesting. Although it is a work of fiction, the events in the book are historically accurate. I completely enjoyed being transported back to a time long ago and I learned a lot about Irish history by reading the book, particularly of the potato famine. Kelly is extremely knowledgeable about the topic of which she writes which makes for a credible and intriguing novel!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Book Review: The Makedown

When Anna Norton hit the age of ten, she went from average into a "steep descent into ugly." (p.3) She developed cystic acne, unruly eyebrows, greasy hair, and gained a lot of weight. This wreaked havoc on her self-esteem and thus her existence was not pleasant. She makes a move from Ohio to New York and aided by the guidance of her "Fairy Godmother" and employer she makes a remarkable transformation and snags herself a handsome boyfriend. This is where the Makedown part enters the picture. The word "makedown" is defined as " the lessening of external beauty and innate confidence as a means of leveling the playing field." Anna wants to try to change her boyfriend Ben from hot into not-so-hot to make the other women who are vying after him to go away. Is it worth it?

I really enjoyed the author Gitty Daneshvari's writing style. My favorite parts of the book were the descriptive passages in the beginning before Anna begins her 180 degree makeover. Everything is so detailed that I can vividly picture all of the situations in my mind.

"The Makedown" is a very fast and light read. It is absolutely hilarious! The story line is fun and unique and it is hard not to want to finish the book in one sitting. Daneshvari is a very talented author and I look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Book Review: Wisconsin Dells- A Comprehensive Guide to Waterparks, Resorts, Tours, and More

When I was asked to review "Wisconsin Dells- A Comprehensive Guide to Waterparks, Resorts, Tours, and More" I was excited because I have visited the Dells with my family at least once a year since I was very young. Now that I have my own children I have continued the once a year tradition. Whereas, my family and I visited in the summer, I have taken my children in the off-season winter months as they are young and it is a lot less crowded. The indoor waterparks are great and the resorts have a lot of fun activities for the young ones.

Vanderwilt's book begins with a history of the area and general facts about the Dells such as how to get there and the average temperatures for each month. He continues on to talk about the tours available, the waterparks, the different types of accomodations, attractions, and restaurants. I have been to almost all of the attractions listed in the book and think that the author does a wonderful job summing them up and providing the pertinent information.

One thing that I would have liked to see, and think that readers would have found helpful would have been some type of rating system. While we usually stay at one of the bigger resorts such as the Kalahari (which I would give 5 stars on a 1-5 scale with 5 being excellent), we unfortunately chose last time to stay at one of the smaller "waterpark resorts" and had a terrible experience. This smaller resort is listed in the book with an adequate description of the property but a star rating system would provide a more "real" description.

Overall though, this book would be helpful to those visiting the Dells for the first time or those who have visited but want to get the full Dells experience. Vanderwilt does an excellent job compiling everything into an easy-to-refer to guidebook!

Blogger Templates by