Showing posts with label katrina onstad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label katrina onstad. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2013!

It's that time of year, y'all!  All those Best Books lists are being released, and I am never one to be left out of the fun and games.  So without further ado...

The Well-Read Redhead's Best Books of 2013!

As happened last year, I had an immensely difficult time compiling this list.  It took me ages to narrow it down to just 10 books that I've read in the last year.  But I managed, and here they are (in no particular order, and with links to my original reviews):

1. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn
I went into this novel with hesitation, because I hadn't done a heavy classic in a while.  I was more than pleasantly surprised.  An amazing coming-of-age tale that is going to stick with me for a long, long time.

2. Yes, Chef by Marcus Samuelsson
I am admittedly biased because I love food memoirs, and I love the Food Network stars...so this was a match made in heaven for me from the start.  Either way, it deserves a spot on this list, if only because Samuelsson's journey is so unique and inspiring.

3. The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
As an avid Picoult fan, I had high expectations for this one, and was not disappointed in the least.  I've read a lot of Holocaust-based historical fiction...this is one of the better ones I can remember coming across.

4. White Dog Fell From The Sky by Eleanor Morse
Beautiful, picturesque, gorgeous, awesome-sauce writing is the #1 reason why this made it on the list.  The captivating story is a bonus.

5. Sea Creatures by Susanna Daniel
If there was a book that should be on everyone's list for great character development, this is it.  Beautiful prose, and makes me feel like one of my 2014 resolutions should be to read more of Daniel's stuff.

6. Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad
This book tugged at my mommy heartstrings.  HARD.

7. Cooked by Michael Pollan
I continue to be wow'ed by the depth of Pollan's food-based research, combined with his entertaining commentary along the way.  He makes me feel smarter...and hungrier.

8. We Are Water by Wally Lamb
Another epic family drama from Lamb.  He has yet to disappoint me.

9. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
The unsettling tone of this novel is still creeping me out.  The ending was awesome.  I am not quite as in awe of this one as I was of Gone Girl, but ohsoclose.

10. Expecting Better by Emily Oster
This book should be required reading for every pregnant or soon-to-be-pregnant woman out there.  How I wish I had this to counterbalance all the crazy pregnancy books I read when I was knocked up with Small Fry!  At least Tater Tot is reaping the benefits now.

That's the list for this year, readers!  And now you've got 14 more days to buy them for your friends and family before Christmas.  You can thank me later.

What made YOUR best-read list for 2013?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Total Chaos: June 2013 in Review

First of all, HAPPY 4TH OF JULY to all my fellow Americans!  Exert your freedoms and do lots of lazy reading today!  (While eating too many hot dogs, of course.)
Mmmm,  bacon.
Well, as you can tell from all the excitement around here lately, June was totes chaos for the Well-Read Redhead and family.  June 3 my husband accepted his job offer, and since then we have put our house on the market, had our house flood, sold the house anyway, passed the home inspection, bought a new house, gone on vacation, put in my notice at work (last day August 1), continued to keep growing this baby in my stomach, and...I don't even know what else.  I'm sure there's something else.  I can't even keep track anymore.
The Best Big Bro on vacation last month
And yet, somehow I managed to read!  Reading is a very normal part of my everyday life, but in this particular case, I'm doing some back-patting to celebrate my efforts for the month.

The June 2013 Fave/Least Fave honors were hard to choose this month, but they go to:

June 2013 Favorite: Cooked by Michael Pollan
June 2013 Least Favorite: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

In total, I read/reviewed 5 books:
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
Cooked by Michael Pollan
Big Brother by Lionel Shriver
Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin
Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown.

In addition, we chatted about how much I sucked at Armchair BEA, you all got to enjoy The Well-Read Vacay (with awesome guest posts!: Shannon, Cari, Katie, and Jennifer), I actually finished two reading challenges, and I shared two important items of personal news (one and two).

I have another busy month ahead, as I finish up at work and we pack up all our belongings to get ready for our current house to close on August 8.  Then we have to move into a temporary rental until mid-September, when our new house closes.  Eek!!  Not to mention that Small Fry's 2nd birthday is this weekend, and on the 25th we find out if baby #2 is a boy or a girl.  If I can finish at least 5 books again this month, I get more back-pats for my efforts.  I demand it.

Have a great month, readers!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Book Review: Everybody Has Everything by Katrina Onstad


Title: Everybody Has Everything
Author: Katrina Onstad
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: June 25, 2013 (first published in 2012)
Source: copy received for honest review from the publisher via NetGalley

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

After years of unsuccessful attempts at conceiving a child, Ana and James become parents overnight, when a terrible accident makes them guardians to 2-year-old Finn. Suddenly, two people who were struggling to come to terms with childlessness are thrust into the opposite situation--responsible for a small toddler whose mother's survival is in question. 

Finn's crash-landing in their tidy, urban lives throws into high relief some troubling truths about their deepest selves, both separately and as a couple. Several chaotic, poignant, and life-changing weeks as a most unusual family give rise to an often unasked question: Can everyone be a parent?


My Review:

So here's my chronological thought process while I was reading this book:
1. "OMG, this is so sad."
2. "Holy crap, I love the little boy in this book, I want to give him all the hugs, and OMG this is so sad."
3. "OMG SO SAD, THERE IS NO WAY THIS BOOK WILL NOT END IN THE SADDEST OF SAD WAYS."
4. ((stunned silence as the ending manages to wrap up in a non-sad way that is not fairy-tale-ish at all))

YOU GUYS.  I loved it so much.

In the beginning, this book seems pretty straightforward: a tragic accident leaves Ana and James (unable to conceive children of their own) as the sole guardians to Finn, the 2-year-old son of their friends'.  I expected the book to take a typical dramatic-fiction path...sadness and struggles in the beginning, but then they find their way and become better parents for it in the end, ta-da!

What's awesome about this, though, is that it's not like that at all.  There is nothing typical about this novel.  Ana and James have a much more convoluted and murky relationship than I originally expected, and half the pleasure of reading this book is derived from watching it unfold.  Just when I thought I had them figured out, a new part of their pasts or personalities would come out to make me change my mind.  Their relationship certainly plays a central role in the novel, possibly more so than the car accident that originally sets the plot into motion.  It's also the reason that the plot takes such a sad turn, but as I mentioned above, Onstad amazingly finds a way to wrap things up that is neither too depressing nor too happy-go-lucky.

Much of Ana and James's relationship struggles center on one question: what does it mean to be a parent?  What makes a good parent?  And how do you know if you're meant to be a parent at all?  This book will definitely hold more interest for readers who are parents themselves, or wish to be in the near future.  Onstad does a great job of exploring these questions from a variety of different angles.  Her ability to dig at the emotional depths of each character is impressive.

Speaking of emotional depth, FINN.  Oh my gosh, I don't think I've ever loved a child character in a novel more than this little boy.  If he doesn't tug at your heart strings, I'm going to go ahead and clinically diagnose you as dead.  I find that most authors make (very young) child characters one-dimensional and peripheral to the story, but Finn is front and center, and just as well-rounded as the others in the novel.  He broke my heart on the regular.  Not to mention, there is a very dramatic scene with him near the end that left me glued to my Kindle long into the night until the event concluded.  Onstad gets huge kudos for her ability to build his character just as well as any adult's.

As is obvious by now, I swoon for this book.  Parents will certainly get more out of it, just given the subject matter, but if you're ready for an emotional and complex bit of dramatic fiction, you need to pick this up on-the-double.  This is the first Katrina Onstad novel I've read, and it won't be the last.

Have you discovered any great new-to-you writers lately?
 
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