Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What I read in October

October was a busy month, Gentle Readers.  My reading definitely took a hit this month because of such a busy calendar.  Nov 1st hit and I was all, "READ ALL THE BOOKS (so you don't look like an idiot for the linkup)!!"

Life According to Steph

Rating scale:

1/5 - Hated it, didn't finish.
2/5 - Tolerated it on principle to finish, didn't like it.
3/5 - Eh, didn't love it, didn't hate it.  Had some good parts/kept me interested/finished it on principle.
4/5 - I liked it.
5/5 - I LURVED it and I'd read it again.

Skimmers, stick with the bold text (TL;DR* parts).
PS. Possible spoilers included in reviews.

Guantanamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi  1.5/5  (real book)
This book is complete anti-GTMO propaganda, IMO.  This book was painful to read for many reasons, but the biggest reason being how biased the book was.  It is NOT an objective book.  Essentially this book is the "diary" of a detainee (ISN 760) who is currently held at GTMO.  The man claims he is innocent.  The diary was compiled and edited by Larry Siems who has done a substantial amount of research to fill in the blanks of redacted information.  In some places, Siems work was to point out the obvious redactions.  Having worked with people who work in FOIA in GTMO, it's a job where human error is obvious.  That said, many of the redactions on the diary weren't consistent or were obvious.  Female pronouns would be redacted, while male pronouns would be unredacted.  Names MOS (his acronym from the book) gives to his interrogators are sometimes redacted, but sometimes not.

My biggest struggle with the book is not that I don't believe some of the things MOS says happened didn't happen.  I just struggle with the fact that he's been under scrutiny since the mid-90s and he's claiming innocence.  But lines like, "I erased my cell phone contacts before they took me in for questioning because I didn't want the authorities bothering my friends," kinda makes the claims of innocence sketchy.

Thankfully, I remember zero things about this detainee from my time in GTMO.  That means I can't accidentally tell you anything I'm not supposed to and it means I'm not swayed by anything I might have known.  But having been in GTMO and knowing that the US was releasing terrorists left and right, many of whom became terrorists AGAIN after they were repatriated, and knowing that the US was letting some detainees stay in GTMO because if they were repatriated they would be killed by their country of origin, makes me think that maybe we do know something about this guy and he's really good at playing the game... and I mean, who deletes their cell phone contacts so their friends won't be bothered when they get brought in for questioning?

The best parts of the book.

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin  4.5/5  (ebook)
I really enjoyed this book.  I started it eons ago when I was struggling with some difficult books and then pushed myself to finish the hard books before getting back to this one.  That said, I'm not sure if it was my version or if it was the way the book actually was, but I felt like some parts skipped.  It went from mourning the wife to finding a baby.  Or maybe I've been reading too many books with a continuous plot with no breaks in the timeline so it was me.  Either way, I enjoyed this book.  It was a sad ending, but still a happy ending once I realized what the book summaries were actually aimed towards.

Stories I Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe  2.5/5  (audiobook)
I wanted to love this book, but then I got tired of the celebrity name dropping.  I mean, Rob Lowe is my old-man crush.  I almost stopped watching Brothers and Sisters after his character was killed off the show.  When he disappeared from The West Wing and didn't make an appearance in the final episode, I was crushed.  I was really hoping the book was more about the more recent years of his life than the beginning of his acting career.  I guess I should have read the summary better.

That said, I did enjoy the fact that he narrated his own book.  I could also tell when he was trying to be funny, when he was actually funny, and mostly when he wasn't funny at all.  He alluded a lot to the bad choices he was going to make in his life.  There was a lot of time spent (or maybe it just felt like it to me) talking about his childhood and how he finally made a breakthrough, but was never as good as the other guys (Tom Cruise, Michael J Fox, etc).  He talked at length about The Outsiders, a book/movie I'm still not very keen on, which made that section skip-able for me.

I was pleased when he finally got to the part where he talked about his time with The West Wing, but it felt rushed and he barely mentioned Brothers and Sisters at all since it was within the last hour of the 9 hour book.  Le sigh.  He has a 2nd book but I doubt I'll listen/read it.  I just can't stand to be disappointed again.

In Progress:

On Deck:

*TL;DR = too long, don't read


  1. Ohhh I can kind of see what you mean about AJ Fikry...it can be a bit disjointed. I loved it too though :) How are you enjoying Big Little Lies? Such a great book for me.

  2. A. J. Fikrey has been the same for me! I started it and then I thought oh I need to work on this book in this book instead and now I'm finally back to reading it again. But I'm glad your mentioning the disjointed parts because I thought the same thing that I was missing bits and pieces or that I was just not paying attention!

  3. I loved AJ Fikry. It was a weird, quirkly little book that I read in an afternoon.

    I'm so happy that you're reading YOU. It's fucked up and creepy and awesome and I'm looking forward to your review next month. Big Little Lies was a fine read for me.

  4. i read rob lowe's book this month as well and was not a fan. it wasn't bad, but i actually had no idea he had such a long career and have never watched any of his movies or tv shows. the way he did the name dropping really annoyed me, but then sometimes i was like 'oh that's cool' but overall, nope.
    i love love loved AJ Fikry so much. it did skip some things for sure, but overall i loved it.

  5. LOLOLOL @ the best parts of the book.

    I'm glad you enjoyed Fikry! I love that book.

  6. I read Rob Lowe's book a year or so ago. Well, I listened to it on audiobook, which he narrated. I liked it, but I don't know if I would have the same feelings had I read the actual print text. I remember feeling as if he was commuting with me as I listened to it. It almost felt as if I picked him up and was giving him a ride somewhere. LOL!

    I am a big fan of YOU by Carolyn Kepnes. I hope you enjoy it and am curious as to what you think once you are finished.

  7. Yay, you finished Fikry!!!! I just completely Big Little Lies and freaking LOVED it!!! What do you think so far????

  8. I feel like every single month I see someone reviewing Fikry and I keep wondering WHY I haven't read it yet! I keep moving it up on my list but something else just keeps sneaking in before it. Thanks for reminding me that Rob Lowe wrote a book too. How do I keep forgetting these things?!

  9. We've discussed your GTMO book. I'm glad you finally finished it. I heart AJ Fikry. I also loveeeee The Outsiders #sorrynotsorry so that means I should read Rob Lowe's book.

  10. A.J Fikry was one of my favorite books from this year. Glad you liked it too.


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