Archive | December, 2012

Dream More (and read more too)

17 Dec

A few years back, the University of Tennessee’s Class of 2009 had the opportunity of a lifetime. Dolly Parton was their commencement speaker. I honestly can’t think of a single living person who I would be more excited to hear give an inspirational speech (I admire her so much, my friend Irit and I once shared a Dolly Parton-themed birthday party). The speech she gave to this graduating class not only inspired the audience and web viewers, but also inspired her latest book Dream More: Celebrate the Dreamer in You, in which she elaborates on the four main hopes that she introduced in her commencement speech, also the basis of the mission of her Dollywood Foundation. Her hope for us all is that we dream more, learn more, care more, and be more.

As a physical book, like Ms. Parton herself, Dream More is a tiny little thing at just 128 pages. As an audio-recording, which is how I enjoyed this book, it is a slim two-disc set. While Dolly fans will surely enjoy this book in any format, I highly suggest listening to the audiobook. While they are her words either way, it is an absolute pleasure to hear them shared in her own voice. She’s warm, inviting, thoughtful, and funny. She even breaks into song now and again. While I found the first half of the book/audiobook to be more focused, her messages are clear and sincere and inspiring throughout. It was a pleasure to listen to the full audio recording. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I’ve listened to it twice already.

Dolly Parton's Imagination Library

There’s also a significant focus on the importance of reading and in particular on encouraging reading at a young age. Dolly Parton talks about her work with her Imagination Library and how proud she is to be known as “The Book Lady.” In her words, “If I’m remembered 100 years from now, I hope it will not be for looks but for books. I don’t want the responsibility of any boobs in the future! I had to get that off my chest.”

Dolly Parton is an amazing woman with a lot of life experiences to share. While Dream More will be of most interest to her fans, those unfamiliar with her aside from her popular hits or her famous physique or her Dollywood theme park will find much to love here too.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author & Reader: Dolly Parton
Publishers: Penguin Audio (November 2012)
Note: Review copy received from publisher for honest review

On a side note, this book brought to my mind Nas’s “I Can“, with his lyric “Read more. Learn more. Change the globe.” Worth a listen if you haven’t heard it (recently or ever)!

Through To You

3 Dec

Cover art for audiobook version of Through To You by Emily Hainsworth
Camden Pike has been grieving since the day his girlfriend Viv died in a car crash. One day while visiting her memorial site, he sees a ghostly figure. The apparition isn’t a ghost, and it’s not Viv. Rather, it is a girl named Nina, who comes from a parallel world – a world in which Viv is very much alive and still in love with Cam. Given the opportunity to be with Viv again, to take back his goodbye, is a relief and he begins splitting his days between the two worlds. But things are different in this parallel world, Viv isn’t the same girl he remembers, and Nina is hiding something from him. Meanwhile, the portal between the two worlds is shrinking, and Cam is forced to choose which world is the one for him.

I had high expectations going into Through To You and while I thought the story was well-written, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The trouble was that while I believed Cam’s grief and his feelings for Viv, I never felt them. It was a very unemotional read for me. The story is also fairly predictable and the publisher’s summary (and mine above, sorry) perhaps gives too much away, although there was one twist that I didn’t see coming. That’s not to say there isn’t plenty that I appreciate about Hainsworth’s debut novel. For one, I thought the romantic element was well done; it was believable and never once triggered my gag reflex. While I’m down for a good all-out sci-fi story, I also appreciate how much this book reads like contemporary fiction, albeit with a parallel world thing going on. I thought the pacing was solid, the length felt just right, and (ta da!) it’s a stand-alone!

I also had mixed feelings about the audio recording. While I thought the reader Jesse Bernstein did a fabulous job at capturing the voice of Camden Pike, he was not quite as successful with the female characters, in particular Viv and Nina. Unfortunately, this made it difficult to connect with anyone but Cam. The film rights to Through To You have already been acquired, and I do think that in the hands of the right people, this story could translate beautifully to the big screen. While this wasn’t the perfect read for me, it was still enjoyable and I look forward to reading more from Emily Hainsworth.

Em’s rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Author: Emily Hainsworth
Reader: Jesse Bernstein
Publishers: Harper Audio (October 2012)