Halvorson-Alesha, History, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#1010 The Ojibwe: The Past and Present of the Anishinaabe by Alesha Halvorson

#1010 The Ojibwe: The Past and Present of the Anishinaabe by Alesha Halvorson was originally published on One-elevenbooks

History, Kamara-Mariatu, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#998 The Bite of Mango by Mariatu Kamara

#998 The Bite of Mango by Mariatu Kamara was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#982 What If… by Shirley MacLaine

What If... by Shirley MacLaineWhat If… by Shirley MacLaine

Shirley likes to ask questions about life. What if this and what if that? She sees the world as possibly a play in which we are the actors. Who are we putting the show on for? Maybe aliens? Maybe ourselves. What if we acted this way? What if we treated each other in this manner? What if war was just for profit? Shirley has a whole lot of questions about life.

What I liked

I do not know a whole lot about Shirley. I read this book anyway. It’s a short book of Shirley’s questions about life and her thoughts on a few things. I like that Shirley is one of those people who are open-minded, meaning, that she doesn’t necessarily take things at face value. Maybe there is something more to this question or this aspect of life and it’s completely different from what we ever expected.

My ex took “open-minded” to mean doing drugs. For real, when I told him he needed to be more open-minded about things in life, he said, “So I should do drugs?” I’m not really sure where that  comes into play. I guess in a way being open-minded could mean doing drugs and being open to whatever you may or may not experience while doing drugs, but I look at the phrase “open-minded” to mean that you question things before you. Is this really the way things are or are we looking at this entirely wrong? That’s how we should be at life. Always consider that things may not be the way you think they are. Shirley is very good at this, I think.

What I didn’t like

Some of this is a little too “woo” for me. Are we the only life in the universe? Probably not. It’s self-centered to believe that we are. There’s an entire universe out there. We cannot assume there isn’t bacteria, fungus, animals, or other thinking beings somewhere out there in the vastness of space. Do I believe there are little green men flying around? How about people getting abducted by aliens? I don’t really have evidence to get behind any of that. On the other hand, I don’t have evidence not to get behind any of that. I’m adult enough to admit that I don’t have all the answers to everything, but I’m leaning towards a “No” on the little green men.

Shirley seems to believe these things. It’s her life and she can believe whatever she wants to, but it’s just a little too strange for me.


Shirley, I also have a lot of questions about life.

Weigh In

What is a question about life that you don’t have the answer to?

Do you ever think about all the questions you don’t have answers to?

#982 What If… by Shirley MacLaine was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Jamison-Dirk, Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#980 Perishable by Dirk Jamison

Perishable by Dirk JamisonPerishable by Dirk Jamison

Dirk had a difficult and non-traditional growing up experience. His family first lived in one area, where his father was a construction worker, who frequently got fired. Then they moved to Mammoth, California where his father decided to dumpster dive for their food, literally. He even made the kids go along. Why buy food from the store when people were throwing it out?

Their mother didn’t like it. Dirk’s sister was as mean as a snake, constantly doing awful things to Dirk. Their father didn’t set a good example, leading by example by kicking the family dog for biting someone when she was pregnant(the dog was pregnant), and also telling the kids that the dog had cancer. Their father sold their house right out from under them and would up and leave multiple times throughout the marriage.

Their mother finally moved the family to Oregon to be near her Mormon family where Dirk received some structure in his life, but the shadow of his father was always there. His parents got divorced, for the third time it seemed, and Dirk went on with life. His father moved to California.

What I liked

I liked this book as a memoir and I feel like the story was told well.

What I didn’t like

Good Lord this is sad. Look, if someone doesn’t have enough money and lives on the streets, eating out of the dumpster is one thing, probably a necessary thing, but if someone had the ability to work, but they were just too lazy to work and they’re going dumpster diving to feed their family, that’s wrong. The family deserves better, plus there are people less fortunate than this person, by way of not being able to get a job that need that food the grocery store just threw out.

Why the Hell would you kick a pregnant dog?

What in the world was wrong with Dirk’s mother that she didn’t get her children out of this mess. I can point at depression and low self-esteem right off the bat, but sometimes you got to woman up and do what you have to do, which includes getting any children you might have out of a crappy situation. I can see that the situation was mentally abusive, Dirk’s mother was also a victim of this, which is probably why she let her husband make all the decisions and just went along with it, but it doesn’t help that she was probably taught, growing up, as a Mormon woman, to let the man of the house have the final say. I feel bad for everyone involved in this situation.


If you’re in an abusive relationship, get out, especially if you have kids, end of story.

Weigh In

If you were in Dirk’s mother’s position, could you have left with your children?

Do you think you would have gotten into a relationship with someone like Dirk’s father in the first place?

#980 Perishable by Dirk Jamison was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Brooks-Carelin, Family dynamics, Fiction, Romantic Fiction, Social Commentary

#979 One Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin Brooks

One Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin BrooksOne Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin Brooks

The main character of this book is going through a tough time and a lot of rain. It seems to rain endlessly. There also seem to be endless problems that have to be fixed. She is getting divorced from her wife, but things aren’t going so well. There are accusations. There are custody fights. There are bad apartments. There are disagreements with the court, and lawyers, and the son’s father and each day, it rains.

What I liked

I like the constancy of the rain in this book. It’s really the only constant in the main character’s life during this period. A whole bunch of things are changing, but the rain is constant and that’s kind of a comfort to know that at least the rain is the same.

What I didn’t like

So the main character in this book has a wife, but she also has a lover, and there’s also the child’s father somewhere in the mess of this whole thing. The lover has been around for like nine years. I don’t know how long the marriage was. Maybe, just maybe, all of this mess is why the divorce is happening. The main character isn’t the one wanting to get divorced, from what I gather, but when you have a wife and a lover on the side and it doesn’t seem to matter that you have the lover, why would you want to get divorced? That’s not how I feel about the situation, but that kind of seems like what is going on.

Part of me thinks all these people are being awful to the main character and part of me kind of thinks she deserves it. Generally, people are not ok with being married to you and you having a lover, some people are, most people aren’t. I’m not ok with it, so there’s probably a whole lot of personal bias, on my part, against the main character of this book.

This book also made me infinitely glad that I did not have any children with the my ex-husband. I don’t want to imagine what kind of nightmare that would have been.


It’s rains all the time and terrible things happen to me.

Weigh In

If you were going through a terrible time in your life, would you find consistent weather comforting at all?

First opinions–how do you feel about the main character?



#979 One Hundred Days of Rain by Carellin Brooks was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Memoir, Non-Fiction, Social Commentary

#967 Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly

Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie BlyTen Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly

Nellie Bly was an intrepid reporter back in the day when it was fairly rare to have female newspaper reporters. Nellie decided that she was going to get herself committed into a mental institution to determine the state of mental healthcare in the area. She dresses in old clothes and goes to a women’s work house. There she acts like she’s a few crayons shy of a full box and eventually the police are called. They take her to court and the court decides that she should go to the facility called Blackwell.

Soon she finds the conditions of the mental institution are horrible. The place is cold. The patients are locked in during the night with no hope of getting out if there is a fire. Some patients are sane, but there anyway for whatever reason. The clothes are too little and too thin. The food is disgraceful. The water isn’t drained between patients in the bathtub. The list goes on.

Nellie does manage to get out after ten days. She then writes an expose about what she found there. Nellie’s journalism led to the state of New York putting aside over a million more dollars a year for mental health facilities in New York. When Nellie returned to the facility, things were much improved.

What I liked

Nellie was an interesting person and this account of her time in a mental institution is eye-opening. I’m sure it’s better now, but having never been in a mental institution I cannot say whether or not there are still awful things going on in any institutions, but I’m sure there are, at least to some degree.

This was a huge win for mental health care, at the time, even though it took quite a while for conditions to improve over all.

What I didn’t like

Part of me thinks Nellie’s experience only sounded so awful because she had been well off before going into the institution. She describes the food as inedible, but part of me thinks that if she had been poor and used to eating lower quality food it wouldn’t have been so bad. Part of me thinks that the only reason Nellie’s story was paid any attention was because she wasn’t poor. I tend to think that besides the cruelty some of the patients were facing, life inside of the institution probably wasn’t much different from their lives on the outside as far as food, clothing, and beds went. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t awful; it just means there were probably a lot of people who thought these were more or less normal living conditions. Part of this extreme reaction to Nellie’s story may have just been a reaction of wealthier people getting a first-hand account of what it’s like to live as a poor person.


Be careful with getting into places you normally wouldn’t get into. Things might surprise you.

Weigh In

Would you have yourself committed somewhere just to see what it was like?

What’s your opinion of Nellie’s expose?

#967 Ten Days in a Mad-House by Nellie Bly was originally published on One-elevenbooks

Barbot de Villeneuve-Gabrielle-Suzanne, Fantasy, Fiction, Social Commentary

#958 Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve

Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de VilleneuveBeauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve

Once a wealthy family lost everything. There were many children, but the youngest, Beauty, was the cleverest and the most beautiful. The family had to move out of their town house and into a place that wasn’t as nice. The father worked as a merchant. His daughter Beauty asked him to bring back a single rose. He was only too pleased to do so as Beauty hardly ever asked for anything.

He did find a rose, at a strange castle, that had spring all around it instead of winter. He even went inside the castle, but when he plucked a rose, a mighty beast appeared and told him that he would be sorry. The man pleaded with the beast and told him the story of his daughter who only wanted a rose. The beast listened to the story and made a bargain. The man could go home, with the rose, but the daughter had to come back and live at the castle. The family would be compensated nicely. Beauty would do whatever it took for her family to be happy and alive.

Life was not difficult in the castle, perhaps a little lonely. Beauty found entire libraries and craft rooms to entertain herself, but she did miss her family. Each day, the beast would ask her if she would marry him, but she found the beast too ugly. She always dreamt about a handsome prince she had seen in a picture in the castle.  Beauty did get to go home to visit her family, but she hurried back to the castle one day because she feared the beast was dead. She had grown to care for him somewhat. When she did find him, half-dead, he asked if she would marry him again, this time Beauty said yes. The beast transformed into the handsome prince she had been dreaming of.

What I liked

I definitely find this version a lot more fascinating than the Disney version. There’s no Gaston, or talking furniture, or that grey stuff on the plate, but it’s still a great story. This reminds me of Grimm’s tales a lot more than the Disney version ever did.

I do like the Beauty learned to look past physical appearances to an extent. She learned to appreciate the beast for his personality rather than his looks.

What I didn’t like

I feel like this is a backwards message. I feel like Shrek does a better job at giving this message than this story does. You are supposed to appreciate people for who they are and what they can do rather than what they look like because that changes, a lot. As humble and moral as Beauty seemed to be, she was still kind of a crap person for only looking at the outside of the beast, rather than his inside, but many of us would have done the same. We would have been scared of this strange creature that could speak our language.

Beauty also didn’t have to live with her realization. Living with it would have been the beast staying the same and she marrying him anyway and loving every minute of it. As is, Beauty’s beast transformed back into a hunk and she got a sexy, rich man just because she was like, “You know what, maybe it’s not what’s on the outside that counts.”


It’s good to appreciate a person for who they are, maybe it will even get you a sexy, rich man.

Weigh In

Would you marry the beast?

Do you think you could find it in your heart to appreciate the beast for who he was?

#958 Beauty and the Beast by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve was originally published on One-elevenbooks