Welcome to Take Me Away!!

Hello! Thanks for stopping by Take Me Away, where I review books of a variety of genres. My favorite genres are literary and contemporary fiction, though I also enjoy some mystery/thrillers. I also enjoy sociological and psychological non-fiction. Check out the tabs across the top to navigate the site. All the reviews on this site are categorized by title (fiction or non-fiction) or by author. Check out the "About Jenny" section to learn a little more about me. Thanks again for stopping by, and feel free to leave a comment even if it's just to say hi! =)

Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Title: Americanah
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
Pages: 588
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Anchor Books (Random House)
Pub. Date: May 14, 2013 (hardcover); March 4, 2014 (paperback);

I am having a serious book hangover after reading this. I'm writing this review a couple days after finishing the book, and I have had serious issues with trying to start another book because this has been in my head. I mean, it's not that this was my favorite read ever, because it wasn't, but it was very good and really threw a lot out there. I have not read a book as direct and straightforward, especially related to the topic of race and belonging, as Americanah.

I'm taking the synopsis from bn.com for this one: Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time. Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland.

So, really, this book was not about their relationship as the synopsis makes it out to be. That's sort of the backdrop to everything, but the real story is about life in America, London, and Nigeria for Ifemelu (mostly) and Obinze. It's about life as an American Black (AB) and a a Non-American Black (NAB) and how their experiences are different, how non blacks respond to them in general and to them as different groups, the ways in which they (ABs and NABs) relate and in which they can't. It's about the dynamics of Nigerians in Nigeria and how they are changed after moving abroad.

There is really a LOT about race and belonging throughout the book - so much insight and so direct. I laughed because at one point I started to feel like everything was so in-your-face (just totally straightforward) and shortly after that the characters in the book are at a dinner party talking about publishing books and how readers want things to be subtle because they're uncomfortable with reading about this topic unless it's barely there, only understandable by reading in between the lines. Oops!

Americanah is such a social commentary on our society. Through Ifemelu's journey from Nigeria to America and back we learn from her experiences and from her blog posts about race. But even though that is the focus, there is also a story, and I miss reading about Ifemelu and her friends and family! I would recommend this to anyone who loves literary fiction. And I've said this before about other books, but it's one of those that I feel would be a huge benefit to people learning about or who are interested in sociology.

Sunday Salon

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I miss blogging and I miss the book blogging community, but I am enjoying the freedom from obligation. I am still torn over what I want to do with the blog, whether I should blog about other topics, etc. But I say that every time I'm here and then I end up not posting anything in forever anyway... I am still working on getting some more reviews done too!

So recently I decided to delete my google+ account which I never used. I hesitated for so long because it makes it look like it will delete EVERYTHING google which includes my gmails and this blog, but I finally did it and it was fine. BUT, before I did that I had started deleting all pictures I had connected to my google account and didn't realize I was literally deleting all the pictures off my blog!!! So now every post I've ever written is missing a picture (except for the few I fixed). My big project is to replace them all.

On a related note, does anyone know how to back up a blogspot blog? I really think I should do that before I end up losing all my posts too, but I'm not sure how!

In reading, I finished Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche not too long ago and it was really difficult for me to read anything after that for a while! I will post the review for that this week. It was a heavy, but very good, book. It took me a few days to be able to pick up another book, but I decided to return to my comfort reads/authors and am now working on Fly Away by Kristin Hannah which is not currently keeping my attention. :(

Things have been going well for the most part otherwise. We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary this past week. We dressed up and had a great dinner at Eddie V's. Yesterday my husband and our friend spent the day at Megacon, the local comic book convention, while we girls walked around the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. In terms of fertility treatments, we're working on a fourth since the first three didn't work. This is our last of this type of treatment before we talk about the big major kind!

That's all for now.. Hopefully I'll post some more reviews soon!

Review: Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Title: Reconstructing Amelia
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Pages: 380
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: April 2, 2013 (hardcover); December 3, 2013 (paperback)

I'm sad that I didn't write a review for this one as soon as I read it because, unfortunately, I'm forgetting a lot of the details and reasons I loved it. That being said, I did love it! Reconstructing Amelia got a lot of comparisons to Gone Girl, and I disagree. However, it still has it's own craziness and twists and as I stated in my Best of 2013 post, by the end I felt like I'd been punched in the gut! It is one of those books that is a whirlwind as you come up on the end.

For a quick recap, the book starts out with the reader knowing that Amelia, the daughter of attorney, Kate Baron, has committed suicide by jumping off the roof of her school. It's especially sudden for Kate, as she had been on the way to the school after being told her daughter had been caught cheating. This was totally out of character for Amelia who was a great student and a really good kid. Kate grieves as normal, but then she receives an anonymous text saying "Amelia didn't jump." This validates what Kate was thinking anyway, so she starts a mission to investigate and figure out what really happened.

The book is narrated partly by Kate but also partly by Amelia, so we, readers, get insight into what was actually going on her life before Kate does. We get access to some Facebook posts, text messages, and e-mails which was a fun way to get to know her on top of her narration. There are also random scandalous blog posts from a anonymous writer. We see how Amelia gets caught up with some of the wrong "popular" crowd and watch as the drama gets out of control. Honestly, for the first 100 pages or so I thought it was just good and didn't think it was worth all the hype... BUT, then after that it started to move really fast and there were so many little mysteries and characters to figure out. Everyone seems to be involved in one way or another. If you have a teenaged daughter I could see where this book could be a little scary, and it is telling what adolescent girls today are dealing with as we see the unraveling that Amelia goes through.

I wish I could remember more specifically what I liked about this one, but I did list it at one of my best of 2013, and it was a great book to finish 2013 with. I highly recommend it!!  READ IT!!

Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Title: The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Pages: 369
Genre: Fiction; Historical
Publisher: Viking (Penguin Group)
Pub. Date: January 7, 2014

I don't think I was able to give this book quite the fair shake because for the majority of the book I just kept comparing it to The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom which I have yet to review but which I listed on the Best of 2013 list. I read that book back in August 2013 (and this in January 2014), but I couldn't get it and the characters out of my mind! The two stories were very similar. In The Invention of Wings, we follow the lives of Sarah Grimke from the time she is 11-years-old and the same aged slave, Hetty "Handful" Grimke. Sarah is gifted Handful as her own slave for her 11th birthday, but Sarah develops more of a friendship with Handful, even teaching her how to read and write. Sarah has ambitions of a career when she becomes an adult, and even as a child she recognizes that she does not agree with slavery.

Where this book differed from The Kitchen House for me was that the latter was focused much more on the relationship and the characters themselves. In the former, it seemed the first half to 3/4s of the book were focused on developing a timeline and glimpses of Sarah's ambitions and thoughts about slavery. It seemed as though this portion of the book was developing the foundation for the plot related to Sarah's abolitionist leanings as an adult. The Invention of Wings is based on the true story of Sarah Grimke who was an abolitionist and women's rights advocate in the 1800's, who fought for all this much to the chagrin of her family and that of the entire community and culture in Charleston, South Carolina. I was very interested in this part of the story, but because so much of the book was spent building up, I felt like this part was rushed through too fast. I did find it interesting to learn how even the Quakers and other abolitionists didn't necessarily believe in racial equality and how they often demonstrated hypocritical behaviors! It was also interesting the conflict between pursuing abolition of slavery at the same time as women's rights.

I really wish the focus of this book had been the part with Sarah as an adult. I initially rated this 3/5 after I finished the book, but then I realized I spent a lot of time afterwards thinking about the characters and wanting to return to the story. So I changed my rating to a 4. It turns out I did develop a connection to the characters. So, yes, this was in all a very good book. But I can't help feeling that if you are going to read a book somewhere within the area of this topic, I would go with The Kitchen House first!

Review: The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger

Monday, January 27, 2014

Title: The Devil Wears Prada
Author: Lauren Weisberger
Pages: 432
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday (Random House)
Pub. Date: April 15, 2003

So, the reason I picked this one up is because I wanted to read the sequel, Revenge Wears Prada, as soon as I saw it was out but didn't feel right doing so since I hadn't read this one - only seen the movie. The movie version is, however, one of my favorites, and I've enjoyed all of Weisberger's other books (I've read them all) so I figured, why not? (I actually planned on reading the sequel when I went to Thailand, but to date I have not yet read it, lol).

Real quick recap for those who don't know: Andy (Andrea) Sachs, studious and fashion-backwards, is fresh out of college with a desire to work for the New York Times. She ends up taking a job as an assistant to the editor-in-chief of fashion magazine, Runway, Miranda Priestly, who is an icy cold horrid woman whom the fashion world reveres as a goddess. Andy tries to stick it out for a year because she has heard that a year working for her essentially equals three to four years at any other job and could catapult her to any place she'd want to work. But Miranda is the most devilish and difficult boss one could possibly work and whose ridiculousness adds to the book's humor.

Even though I saw the movie, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one! And the movie was different enough that I was kept wondering what was going to happen next while enjoying the parts that were similar. As with all book/movie comparisons, I liked that I was able to read more into Andy's thought processes. In the movie, I don't think we quite understood how much Andy was still hating everything along the way - more like she morphed into one of the Runway girls herself, whereas in the book she may look and play the part but is very clearly still understanding of how ridiculous it is. Just as with the movie I was so saddened by how her family and friends ended up taking a backseat to her job; the movie changed the dynamics, though, in the relationships, and the book actually made things more serious in some ways which was surprising. It made sense in the book but I can see why they changed that in the movie because it did seem sort of out of place with the atmosphere of the story. (But that could also be because it was the biggest difference from what I'm used to watching).

The Devil Wears Prada was a super fun book that I definitely recommend, especially if you're a fan of the movie but haven't read the book yet. I'm glad I went back and read this one.