Thoughts on books, family, and life in one impressive package.

One of the ways I discovered that I might not be handling the stress of the past few months is that no matter how often I tried, I could never summon the energy or desire to sit down and write reviews. At first, I didn’t think anything of it, knowing I would eventually write them. Then a week became a month. A month became five months. One overdue review became five. Five outstanding reviews became more than fifty. I finally realized I had an issue. After a fantastic discussion with my therapist, here I am, attempting to tackle my review list one review at a time. It feels good to be here. It feels good to write again. So, let the reviews commence. First up – the many, many audiobooks I finished since January 2022.

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

To me, Cosmos by Carl Sagan is more like an introduction to astrophysics for the layperson. I say that with the caveat that it still requires close attention while listening because the subject matter is so complex that one can easily get lost in its scope. While some of the examples and possibilities mentioned within the book are out-of-date, I feel Cosmos will still resound with today’s listener because it serves as an ever-important reminder of the miracle of life on Earth.

If you know anything about Stephen Fry, you know what to expect when listening to Stephen Fry’s Victorian Secrets. It is a very clever and entertaining look at many of the myths regarding Victorian society. With his droll British humor, Mr. Fry covers everything from sex and pornography to murder and the adoption of modern detective skills. He manages to educate while making fun of modern-day assumptions regarding this historical period. Never lewd, lascivious, or graphic, he presents each topic with discretion and grace and with tongue firmly in cheek. If only all history could be so enjoyable.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis was, hands down, my favorite book read during February. It is an unbelievably powerful story regarding the long-term ramifications of a young woman’s murder. At the same time, the three main characters serve as a backdrop for a brutal and unflinching look at rape culture and its impact on teens and the social hierarchy of high schools across the country. First published in 2016, it is a story that is as relevant today as it was during the #metoo movement.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi did not impress me as much as I expected. Some of my disappointment may stem from the fact that I wanted to adore this memoir. I had heard great things about it and sought something that might help me confront my mortality. While Paul’s story is undoubtedly very moving, I finished his story wishing that all doctors cared about their patients as much as he appeared to have. I don’t think When Breath Becomes Air is thoughts about mortality as it is lessons learned about treating others with kindness and empathy. Again, all I could think was that my experiences with the medical community prove that empathy is a rare trait more often than not. Perhaps Paul’s story would affect me more had I experienced better, more conscientious medical care in my own life over the years. Either way, it wasn’t the learning experience I wanted.

How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper

I will lump all six books of the Mystic Bayou series into one review because they follow the same charming formula that Molly Harper tends to use. The similarities between the stories don’t harm them, as long as you go into each knowing exactly what you will get. There will be a meet-cute, followed by lots of sexual tension, a mystery solved together with the requisite found family, and happily ever after for our star couple. Throw in a dragon, a were-bear, selkies, a dryad, a witch, and a gnome, and you have quite the community. I enjoyed every minute of listening to the series.

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