Tomboy-Review

As a young girl growing up in the 1980s-90s, cartoonist Liz Prince preferred wearing sneakers, a boys’ blazer and a baseball cap instead of wearing dresses. She role-played Ghostbusters with her guy friend Tyler, and played right field on her local little league team. This preference for “non-girly” things continued through her adolescence and is the subject of Tomboy, her new memoir for teens.

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Having just read Andre Agassi’s autobiography Open, I decided to stick with the non-fiction genre and read the account of Nick Schuyler in his book Not Without Hope written with Jere Longman. This is the true story of four friends, two of them NFL football players, who went on a fishing trip that ended in tragedy as Nick was the only one of the four to come out alive. This accident occurred Spring of 2009 and the book was released one year later in March 2010. I remember vaguely hearing about this on the news, but had little recollection of the events, so everything in the book was new to me.

Nick Schuyler, his best friend Will Bleakley, NFL pros Marquis Cooper, and Corey Smith all went out on a fishing trip on Cooper’s boat in Florida. Ominous weather was quickly approaching so the guys decided to head back to shore. As they prepared to head home they realized the anchor of the boat was stuck. In a last ditch effort to free the anchor they tried tying the anchor rope to the stern of the boat and hitting the throttle. The anchor did not yank free, but instead, the stern sank and filled with water causing the boat to capsize. This is where the tragedy begins. Nick recalls his 43 hours at sea waiting for rescue while sitting on the hull of the boat grabbing on for dear life. He describes how his three friends eventually succumb to hypothermia and the elements and die right before his eyes.

It was very easy to get hooked into this book. I’m not a fast reader, but it only took me 2 days to finish the book. It was a very compelling story with very vivid descriptions of what the four men endured out at sea. Even though I knew the outcome of the story I remained glued to my kindle. There were parts of the book that were heartbreaking to read, but as a whole I found it a very riveting account.

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I love dogs. I own a dog. Often, I like him more than about 90% of the people I know. I also enjoy books about the relationships between men and their dogs. Especially when the gruff guy shows a kinder, gentler side to his personality as a result of the actions of his dog.

One of the best “guy/dog” books I have read is “Merle’s Door” by Ted Kerasote. It is a wonderful true story that is sensitive without being sappy.

Although I love the “guy/dog” books, I know that they will never end well. The dog always dies.
About two-thirds of the way into the book, the guy finds “a lump” on the dog’s leg, or the dog develops this phlegmy cough. You know you are pages away from uncontrollable sobbing…. by both you and the guy.

So, it was with delight that I picked up the latest book by Dean Koontz noted for his suspenseful raw thrillers. Koontz and his wife, following years of consideration, adopt a three-year-old golden retriever from Canine Companions, an organization that provides service dogs to those in need. The dog was on “early retirement” as a result of an elbow surgery. The book, a memoir of his 9-years with the dog, is about as far away from his usual shocking tales as one can get. I knew Koontz had an affinity for “goldens” as they are characters in many of his books, and his book jackets show a picture of him with a “golden”.
Koontz delights in the mundane, day-to-day activities of “Trixie” to the point of some degree of boredom from this reader. It is also could be a little uncomfortable for the reader when he refers to Trixie as “my little girl” or tells her “your mom and I are so proud of you”. But maybe that’s because you do not expect that form of emotion from someone whose stories are otherwise so dark and chilling. Koontz also takes anthropomorphism to an extreme, but as a dog owner and lover I found it acceptable.
This book definitely shows another side of Koontz, and in the end…..I sobbed uncontrollably.

 

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Hey, ever thought of writing about your life, but didn’t know where to start?  Come to our Six-Word Memoir Workshop and begin crafting stories about yourself in just one sentence!  Check out the SMITH Magazine website  to read life stories submitted by other people.

When: 7:00pm, Wednesday July 30
Where: Large Meeting Room, Niles Public Library, 6960 Oakton St., Niles

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