Tag: Memoir

Kim’s Thoughts on Educated by Tara Westover

Jessica listened to the audiobook of Educated earlier this year and now it is Kim’s turn to review it. Kim read it with her neighborhood book club. Jessica’s 5 star review is here.

Educated
Author: Tara Westover
Published: February 20, 2018
334 Pages

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.

Kim’s Review:

What a crazy read. All kinds of feelings came out while I was reading this book. I’m gonna start out with some small criticisms. It did feel a bit extraordinarily embellished at times. I had a hard time believing that ALL of that happened within one family. However, I will  say that it is a memoir, not an academic historic work. There is room for more storytelling. My other issue is that I was hoping there would be more about her actual education. With a title like that, one would think this book would be more about schooling, when in reality, it’s far more a family saga. But those little things aside, I really enjoyed this book.

I have never in my life been more thankful for my family. My parents managed to raise independent thinking adults out of an environment of groupthink. Plus, my parents balanced discipline and love in a very effective way. So many things in this book were so familiar, yet I was shocked page after page. I also appreciated how she stayed away from sweeping generalizations about religion and politics. She so easily could have turned this book into a condemnation of any one group with certain beliefs, but she kept her judgements condensed to the people within the story. I think this would be a great book for the teens of today, to counteract some of the entitlement and whining. But I would recommend this book to pretty much everybody.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK 

Full Support: Lessons Learned in the Dressing Room

Full Support: Lessons Learned in the Dressing Room
Author: Natalee Woods
To Be Published: December 3, 2019
300 Pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars
Dates Read: November 1-9, 2019

Book Description:

Lingerie is the foundation for every woman’s wardrobe, but it’s also where we feel the most pressure to be beautiful—and feel the most shame at falling short of impossible standards. Concerns about our age, body type, family expectations, jobs, and romantic partners crowd into the dressing room with us. The result is a bra that fits other people’s standards instead of our own bodies.

As a bra-fitter at a high-end department store for more than a decade, Natalee Woods watched women bravely facing down their fears and embracing what worked for them. Full Support shares their stories alongside judgment-free secrets for a good fit.

Jessica’s Review:

Full Support has had a long journey to publication, which is still to come in the next few weeks. It is Natalee Woods’ debut memoir of her 10 years working in a fitting room in the lingerie section of a high end store.  If you have ever worked in retail, you know some of what Natalee feels, but her job was much more personal to the women she fitted.  We live in a world where 8 out of 10 women are in the wrong size bra, and this candid memoir is for every woman out there as it shows how society pressures us about our ‘imperfect bodies’ and influences us in every way possible.

We meet a variety of Natalee’s customers in many different situations.  These customers (women, men, and transgender) give the reader a mix of emotions from hilarious (an entertaining and raucous bridal party) to the serious (women dealing with mastectomies to a widowed father trying to find his daughter a bra) to the anger-inducing (an over the top beauty pageant mom). And we see how Natalee handles each situation, as each customer has unique and specific needs.

It is a quick and enjoyable read.  It is a memoir and Natalee also goes into her family situations, which includes a death, but for me it took away from the rest of the book. I was not attached to Natalee; I just wanted to read more stories from the fitting room. 

Most of my bra shopping is done online as most stores do not carry the much larger sizes. I do remember when I was getting fitted for undergarments to wear under my wedding dress and I knew I was in the wrong size bra, but to find out my actual size was shocking. The bra fitter helped to put me at ease and made a nerve wracking experience pleasant. Every woman needs a positive fitting experience and Natalee helped to give her customers what they needed. If only more stores catered to the larger sizes and had some cute bras that were not over the top price wise! 

Full Support is recommended for every woman out there!  Special thanks to the publisher Amberjack Publishing for granting me an arc. 

Pre-Order Links:
Amazon US  
Amazon UK

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Gunnar Hansen’s Chain Saw Confidential


Chain Saw Confidential: How We Made the World’s Most Notorious Horror Movie
Author: Gunnar Hansen
Published: September 24, 2013
Audiobook

Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars

Book Description:

When The Texas Chain Saw Massacre first hit movie screens in 1974 it was both reviled and championed. To critics, it was either “a degrading, senseless misuse of film and time” or “an intelligent, absorbing and deeply disturbing horror film.” However it was an immediate hit with audiences. Banned and celebrated, showcased at the Cannes film festival and included in the New York MoMA’s collection, it has now come to be recognized widely as one of the greatest horror movies of all time.

A six-foot-four poet fresh out of grad school with limited acting experience, Gunnar Hansen played the masked, chain-saw-wielding Leatherface. His terrifying portrayal and the inventive work of the cast and crew would give the film the authentic power of nightmare, even while the gritty, grueling, and often dangerous independent production would test everyone involved, and lay the foundations for myths surrounding the film that endure even today.

Critically-acclaimed author Hansen here tells the real story of the making of the film, its release, and reception, offering unknown behind-the-scenes details, a harrowingly entertaining account of the adventures of low-budget filmmaking, illuminating insights on the film’s enduring and influential place in the horror genre and our culture, and a thoughtful meditation on why we love to be scared in the first place.

Kim’s Review:

A while ago, I made the admission that I love horror. I can blame Ivan for introducing me to horror movies, but even before that, I loved the horror genre in books. The scarier the better! Ivan and our friend, Adam, have talked about Texas Chainsaw Massacre before and I had begged Ivan to watch it with me. He included the soundtrack from the remake on his Halloween playlist and that theme is seriously the scariest score I have ever heard, but I couldn’t watch the remake until I watched the original, so I asked Ivan again to watch it with me. Finally, FINALLY, we sat down to watch it . . . blew my friggin mind! I jumped, I squealed, I shut my eyes, I asked why . . . but what shocked me was that a week afterward, I was still pondering. Ivan has a habit of asking me what I’m thinking about while we’re driving, and that week, I answered “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He got so excited and we ended up having conservation after conversation about this dang movie!

I have to say, I really love Chainsaw! It’s violent and graphic and horrible, but it’s riveting! I was so intrigued and continue to be so! Audible had a Halloween sale and look! A book by the man who played Leatherface all about the filming of the movie!!! I bought it, and listened to it, and now I want to watch Chainsaw again!! I learned so much; the people behind this movie were just as crazy as you’d expect. Reading about the dinner scene was enlightening and I was surprised at how horrible the filming was for the cast and crew. I am so sad that Gunnar Hansen is dead and I can never meet him. Toby Hooper, the director, is also dead . . . I was born in the wrong decade. This book isn’t for everybody, but if you are a horror fan, then this book is for you! I absolutely recommend it and the original movie!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Here is the movie trailer for the 1974 version of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre:

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