Fever

Saturday I met with my book club to discuss, Fever by Mary Beth Keane.  Fever takes the reader to the turn of the Fevertwentieth century in New York.  There we follow the life of Mary Mallon, alias Typhoid Mary.  She was a carrier of typhoid although she was never sick with it.  It was believed that she transmitted typhoid to victims through her cooking.

Now when I first read what this book was about I was immediately sold on reading it.  I had heard of Typhoid Mary but I couldn’t remember if it was at school or somewhere else.  So, I figured I’d learn more about Mary Mallon and more about typhoid.  Needless to say, I got a two-dimensional Mary Mallon and a highly developed story about immigrant life in New York.  If anything, the later was the best and only true historical part of the book in my opinion.  The descriptions of what immigrants were living at that time were vivid, informative, and contained some historical events. The first half of the book is a repetition of how Mary doesn’t accept what’s she’s been told about how she transmits typhoid.  Other than that nothing happens.  Most of what is written in the book about Mary’s character and the people she meets isn’t true and that’s where I can’t see how the book is marketed as a historical fiction.  The reader doesn’t even get any scientific explanations about typhoid or details on the doctor’s research either.  Among all of this the character of Mary Mallon is not really dealt with.  Her character is brash and unlikable, coupled with the story being told in third person throughout ninety percent of book, which doesn’t help the reader to be the least bit sympathetic to her cause.

Allegedly, there is no concrete information on Mary Mallon, except one letter which was written to her lawyer.  Despite this the author couldn’t seem to develop Mary Mallon’s character other than in repetition and in situations that were highly unbelievable for the time.  As a matter of fact, not much of what the author tried to get us to believe about Mary had been written well enough for us to really believe her.  Keane had over developed the story and left Mary Mallon as a blank cardboard cut out.  The two just didn’t link correctly.  Thank goodness it was a fast enough read and the style engaging enough, despite repetition of the word shit and grand.  This is a clear case of an author using  a real person to centralize and market her story but in fact the story isn’t really about Mary Mallon.  Undoubtedly, the best part of the book is the second half.  It comes together a lot better than the first half, however I’ve only given Fever two stars over on Goodreads because it doesn’t correspond to what is expected of it.

Mary Beth Keane was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award with her first novel, The Walking People.   Fever, was Mary_Beth_Keanebest book of 2013 by NPR Books, Library Journal, and The San Francisco Chronicle.  Keane was chosen as one of the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Program in 2011.  “The 5 Under 35 program honors five young fiction writers selected by past National Book Award Winners and Finalists, or previous 5 Under 35 Honorees.  The program has introduced the next generation of writers, including Téa Obreht, Karen Russell, and Justin Torres.” (nationalbook.org)

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Year of Yes

I was happily surprised when I was approached by a representative from Simon & Schuster asking me if I was interested in reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes in exchange for an honest review.  I couldn’t refuse.  I knew Rhimes’s book was due to be released soon and wasn’t sure if I’d be able to pick it up to give it a try.

Even though my work schedule has butchered my reading and blogging for the moment, I’m still managing to read a bit here and there.  Year of Yes was my latest conquest and it arrived 4 days ago and I managed to gobble up this 307-page book in that time.  My train rides back and forth to Paris for work helped tremendously in this IMG_2227attempt to finish reading Year of Yes in time for its release date, today the 10th of November.

Not knowing what to expect, the first chapter Hello I’m Old and I Like to Lie (A Disclaimer of Sorts) sucked me in immediately.  Rhimes’s voice rings through like a girlfriend in my head and I loved that.  Rhimes is one of the most successful television producers and writers today, with successful shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice, and How to Get Away with Murder.  Her shows have coined the phrase TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday) on the ABC evening line up.  Rhimes is so successful no one is really sure what she’s really like.  With all that success you would think she was an  extrovert, self-confident, alpha female on the way to conquer all the time.

Well Year of Yes gives us an inside look into a woman who struggles just like the rest of us women with balancing work life and motherhood, trying to get out there socially when she’s an introvert (that I didn’t expect at all), trying to lose weight (which she’s done perfectly and looks FANTASTIC!), and to just say plain ‘ol YES.  “This Yes is about  giving yourself the permission to shift the focus of what is a priority from what’s good for you over to what makes you feel good.” (Year of Yes, p. 123)

This book is written in a way that we experience exactly what Rhimes says and can relate fully.  She also gives some great advice to all women of all ages.  She’s an intellectual creative woman who is a great example of how things can be done and saying Yes is a good way to do things differently.  Contrary to the way we as women are always told to say No more, this Yes approach is much more positive and inclusive.  Rhimes has had her Yes Year and will undoubtably inspire other women to have their Yes years.  This is definitely a book to check out even if you’re not necessarily a fan of her shows.  It’s just great to read about a successful woman and how she goes about navigating all that is demanded of her and how she maintains that success throughout all the challenges thrown her way.  So Yes to Year of Yes, in all it’s hysterics and seriousness. I give it 4 stars.  Oh and the book is a perfect size to carry around in your purse.  It’s small, cute, packaged to a fault, and you won’t be able to resist that beautiful picture of Rhimes on the back cover.  She really is wearing the Year of Yes smile.

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Live Show Discussion – Some Sing, Some Cry

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Live Show Announcement – Some Sing, Some Cry

I’m an affiliate for The Book Depository. It would be much appreciated to click the link below if you’re interested in picking up any of my recommendations. It will help fund my incessant book buying.
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