In polite conversation, the idea of dyeing nonviolent criminals bright colors and releasing them into society might not be met with raised...moreApril says:
In polite conversation, the idea of dyeing nonviolent criminals bright colors and releasing them into society might not be met with raised voices and ill-disguised disgust in one's political views. But this is the near-future America portrayed in "When She Woke" by Hilary Jordan. Because prisons are overflowing, it becomes acceptable to dye (to "chrome") the skin of those who committed nonviolent crimes and are not likely to repeat them again. America has swung so far to the right that a Secretary of Faith now sits on the President's Cabinet.
This is the life Hannah Payne has known: terrorist attacks, rabid religious conservatives, and chromed citizens. And the world is okay until she comes to find herself in a place where she is a Chrome, an outsider, a new level of second class citizen.
"When She Woke" is a haunting view of an American future not too hard to imagine. With strong characters and a convincing geography of the human soul, Jordan has created a solid representation of a new kind of Big Brother.
"When She Woke" is a page turner. Just as Jordan so beautifully wrote about the injustice and tragedies of racism in America in her last novel, Mudbound, she now artfully exposes the injustices and heartbreak caused by religious extremism that, as she demonstrates in "When She Woke", can arise from any rigid doctrine, even in heartland America.
I just finished reading this book, and I am amazed. It's topics are sooooo "right now":religious fundamentalism, women's rights, reproductive rights, the struggle to managecrime and the situation in prisons, the roll of technology in controlling people and theprivacy issues that go along with that. This book is going to create a STIR--I foresee protests and outrage countered by admiration and passionate defense of the sublime way all of these volatile elements are joined to create a love story as well as a page-turning thriller. The continued exploration of what it means to be "good", and themany roles God can take in people's lives, is brilliant. A great deal of philosophy, theology and social science are included in this book, but it doesn't seem preachy or didactic. It seems like, and IS, an amazing book that is impossible to put down.(less)
I am soooooo in love with this book! Josh is an ex-drag queen and writer turned advertising maven, Brent is "Dr Brent" on The Martha Stewa...moreJackie says:
I am soooooo in love with this book! Josh is an ex-drag queen and writer turned advertising maven, Brent is "Dr Brent" on The Martha Stewart Show. They've been together for almost 10 years and seem to thrive on the big city lifestyle despite their 700 square foot apartment--until they take a wrong turn on a drive and discover The Beekman Mansion. It's HUGE, 200 years old and in need of a whole lot of work--but they want it. Dreams of leisurely weekends away from the city as gentlemen farmers dance merrily in their heads, so they take the plunge. Then Josh sneaks in a caretaker for the place that just happens to have a herd of goats. And, well, if they have goats now, they might as well have chickens. And a cow. And a garden. And then a bigger garden--MUCH bigger. Then a handmade Christmas project became a full on artisan soap company, and Beekman 1802 began--and grew...and grew...and grew. This is a wonderful tale of two Type A personalities taking on the bucolic life big city style, with some bonus ghosts and legions of zombie flies thrown into the mix. It's equal parts inspiring and exhausting, but you can't help but fall in love with these guys and the small town who has come to embrace them. The good news is they have a "docu-series" coming out in June 2010 on Discovery Channel's Planet Green called "The Fabulous Beekman Boys" so the laughs won't have to stop when the book cover closes.
Oh my, what an amazing book! I laughed, I cried, I wondered at the plight of the family. Truly a wonderful book.
Golden Richards has trouble. Four houses full. Three of those houses contain his 4 wives (the sisters share a house) and 28 children. Oh, and the ugliest dog ever. House #4 is actually a whorehouse, in another state, that Golden's construction company is building, for the Vegas mob (hey, the economy is tight and it's not easy to keep all those mouths fed). Of course, he's trying to keep the church elders and everyone else in his fundamentalist community, the community who thinks he may just be "The One", from finding that particular fact out. There's never enough time for all of the wives, let alone all of the kids and their many activities. So when he starts to fall for a mysterious woman at his job site...Golden's troubles REALLY begin. At times, this book will make you laugh at loud. At other times, it will challenge you spiritually and morally. Told in both Golden's voice and those of his wives, as well as one deeply troubled son, it is a dense but fascinating look at a VERY alternative lifestyle.
Fans of the HBO series "Big Love" (which is actually based on a story of Udall's back in the day) will really like this book, though it does have a more serious side to it than the show often does.
Other books by Udall: "The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint" and "Letting Loose the Hounds"(less)
A book that began slowly, with many characters whose stories got a little mixed up in my mind, but that at the end of the book, had emerged a...moreJoe says:
A book that began slowly, with many characters whose stories got a little mixed up in my mind, but that at the end of the book, had emerged as distinct and heart-breaking characters, whose voices were, indeed, united. A World War II novel unlike any I have read, this book takes us into the streets of London during the Blitz, into the refugee trains filled with desperate Jewish people trying to leave Germany, and into a sleepy Massachusetts town just beginning to wake up to the realities of war. Sarah Blake's novel is one of unforgettable humanity that explores the nature of the meaning of existence.
I've read a lot of books that have examined life in the early days of WWII, but never one like this. Blake's novel concentrates on 3 American women during 1940-41. One is an ambitious reporter fighting the glass ceiling of war reporting over in Europe who finally gets the opportunity of a lifetime that ends up completely changing her life. Another is a somewhat OCD postmaster (it's actually incorrect, according to her, to call her postmistress) working in a small town near Cape Cod who struggles with her need for rules and order and her need to love and connect with people. The third woman is a timid young doctor's wife who must find strength she doesn't think she has in circumstances she never planned for. Each of them personify attitudes that were taken about the war in those days before Pearl Harbor, each of them bring to light an aspect of 1940s womanhood, each of them is a complex character that is hard to forget. The opening quote, from Martha Gelhorn, is perfect: "War happens to people, one by one." This is what comes alive in this book and makes it resonate long after the last page is turned.(less)
We all know and love the classic tale, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I know that, time after time, I would lose myself in the story, fa...moreCathy says:
We all know and love the classic tale, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I know that, time after time, I would lose myself in the story, fascinated and frightened by the strange and unpredictable characters Alice encountered, wishing that I could be Alice and experience Wonderland. I went so far as to make myself an outfit and wear it to school (in high school, no less) still yearning for an escape. My taste in books had perhaps matured but the surrealism of Alice's story remained seductive.
Many years later whispers and comments about the real Alice (Alice Liddell) and the possibility of a less than "pure" interest in her and other little girls on the part of the author, Charles Dodson, an Oxford Don, found their way to my ears. Dodson's photographs of little girls became the subject of concern as awareness of child sexual abuse rose in our collective consciousness. But, frankly, I didn't want to delve too deeply into the possibility of such impropriety and ruin my childhood fantasies.
When the galley for Alice I Have Been was given to me with fanfare and enthusiasm by my publisher rep, I was admittedly nervous. Certainly, it's a novel, but how much did I want to know about the real story of Alice and Charles Dodson? Well, it turned out, everything! Beginning on page one when Alice is 80, heading to America to be feted and honored, Alice I Have Been takes the reader back to Victorian Oxford and brings to life the world that Alice inhabited. It was a privileged world, and as a little girl Alice and her sisters met scholars and royalty. They were pampered and educated and exposed to many things, yet restricted by society's (and their Mother's) high expectations for proper decorum. The girls were dressed alike in layer upon layer of pantaloons and petticoats and pale dresses and polished shoes, and if one girl got dirty (usually it was Alice) they all had to change. No small feat. So when offered the opportunity to dress like a ragged gypsy and roll around in the grass, barefoot, who wouldn't?
Little, irascible, contrary, bright 7-year-old Alice tasted this bit of freedom and it was as if she had bitten the apple in the Garden of Eden. Alice I Have Been is the story of the heartbreak of Alice's life, the result of a feisty, lively imaginative little girl's desire for love and a lonely man's unfortunate choices, all made far worse by the strictures of their times.
This novel is a gem. It's for all fans of Alice, of historical fiction, and of compelling biographical stories. And book clubs will rejoice in the possibilities it will offer for discussion. It is just wonderful!
I'm not a Victorian England kind of person, nor am I a great fan of Alice in Wonderland or Through The Looking Glass. Nevertheless, this book, a fictionalized account of the "real" Alice, Alice Liddell, caught and held my attention in a vice grip. Benjamin's research was exhaustive, so that Alice, her sisters and the clearly disturbed Charles Dodgson (who took the pen name Lewis Carroll) become living and breathing people again. The actual photographs of Alice in the book are priceless and add a profound depth to the story--more than once I sat looking into Alice's 'gypsy' eyes and wondering what the truth was. The Liddell family in it's privileged splendor, the father's position of Dean of Christ Church making them very powerful in England, the great restrictions on and expectations of women, all set the scene for the destruction of one life by the tender age of 11. No one is completely innocent nor completely guilty in this tale that follows Alice through to her twilight years, but the taint of scandal colors the world for them all throughout their lives. It's rather haunting (especially the last few pages), and continues to linger in my mind. I highly recommend this book.
This was a wonderful historical novel based on the life of Alice Liddell who inspired Lewis Carroll to write Alice in Wonderland. Benjamin did an excellent job of telling a complex story of young Alice's relationship with Caroll aka Charles Dodgson - who was a young man at Oxford when they met. But is it more than that - it is about Alice's strength through a catastrophic time in her young life, followed by love and loss. It is about a girl becoming a woman - navigating Victorian England's strict moral attitudes with little help from those around her. It is told from Alice's point of view - which maked the book a strong and fascinating read. Great for discussion and book clubs. (less)
Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday of millions of Americans. And with so many diverse regions across the United States, it's no surprise...moreCathy says:
Thanksgiving is the favorite holiday of millions of Americans. And with so many diverse regions across the United States, it's no surprise to find that the Thanksgiving menu changes significantly from New England to the Pacific Northwest. This is the quintessential cookbook for our national day of thanks, capturing this diversity with creative recipes for the perfect dinner and providing the key to a stress-free occasion with author Diane Morgan's indispensable do-ahead tips. Including appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, stuffings, casseroles, biscuits, side dishes, desserts, and even leftovers, it contains everything the busy cook needs to celebrate this most festive and food-centered of holidays! (less)
The Great Plains were once among the greatest grasslands on the planet. But as the United States and Canada grew westward, the Plains were...moreCathy says:
The Great Plains were once among the greatest grasslands on the planet. But as the United States and Canada grew westward, the Plains were plowed up, fenced in, overgrazed, and otherwise degraded. Today, this fragmented landscape is the most endangered and least protected ecosystem in North America. But all is not lost on the prairie. Through lyrical photographs, essays, historical images, and maps, this beautifully illustrated book gets beneath the surface of the Plains, revealing the lingering wild that still survives and whose diverse natural communities, native creatures, migratory traditions, and natural systems together create one vast and extraordinary whole. Three broad geographic regions in "Great Plains" are covered in detail, evoked in the unforgettable and often hauntingimages taken by Michael Forsberg.(less)
Eight very different kids, from eight different continents, all go about their day and experience the same moments of happiness--greeting t...moreCathy says:
Eight very different kids, from eight different continents, all go about their day and experience the same moments of happiness--greeting the sun in the morning, swinging on a swing, flying a kite, being tucked in by Mommy at bedtime--in this uplifting book. Full of color.(less)
Silvey asked more than 100 of the most respected and admired leaders in society this simple question: What children's book changed the way...moreCathy says:
Silvey asked more than 100 of the most respected and admired leaders in society this simple question: What children's book changed the way you see the world? Here, she shares their surprising, intriguing answers. Insightful, funny, inspiring and unexpected. Each is accompanied by an excerpt and illustrations from the selected book.(less)
I'm not usually fond of short stories, but this collection held my attention. Partially because they deal with the same or interconnected...moreJackie says:
I'm not usually fond of short stories, but this collection held my attention. Partially because they deal with the same or interconnected characters throughout, and partly because of the vividness and depth of each and every character. The central theme is being trapped--by circumstance, economics, history, addiction, education, emotion, etc. The stories cover a 20 or so year span of time, and the evolution, or lack thereof, of the characters is brilliantly told.(less)
Cathy L says: Utterly sublime. These five short stories of music and nightfall just highlight what a wonderful writer Ishiguro is. Each of these storie...moreCathy L says: Utterly sublime. These five short stories of music and nightfall just highlight what a wonderful writer Ishiguro is. Each of these stories stand on their own, but read as an ensemble, their slow & gentle power carries the reader away.
Joe says: Wow. Just read this book in one sitting. Utterly sublime. These five short stories of music and nightfall just highlight what a wonderful writer Ishiguro is. Each of these stories stand on their own, but read as an ensemble, their slow & gentle power carries the reader away. The stories are full of heartbreak and loss, of the sweet music of memory, of spare descriptions that paint a picture so perfectly, the reader is sitting in the hotels, the piazzas and hearing the music. Each is told from a first-person narrator, not always visible to us. This adds an intimacy to the stories that really brings out the emotional impact of each. Highly recommended. I would like to sit back down and re-read them again and again, like listening to music.
Linda says: I was completely drawn in to these five short stories. Not normally a short story reader, each of these immediately drew me in and then unfolded with a complexity and satisfaction that I look for in a novel. Ishiguro surprised me more than once with his deft comedic touch. I laughed out loud and shook my head at the follies we all participate in. He amazed me with his exquisite balance of detail to broad stroke. And, like the music he celebrates differently in each story, he wooed me with his intelligent language and pitch perfect tone, as each character emerged in intimate and foolish and hopeful ways, uniquely personal and yet universal in their humanity.
Jackie says: This book was a great introduction to an author I have previously avoided (blame the cure-for-insomnia movie that was made from his "The Remains Of The Day"). I'm especially pleased with his character development given the fact that these are short stories--really short, since there is 5 of them in this slim volume. But each story gave me both a character that I could identify with and a character that I had to puzzle over. The themed stories (music and nightfall) and the interwoven characters added a nice touch as well. They read quickly but give you plenty to think about. In a nutshell--I'm impressed.
***Please look for this great book at an independent bookstore near you. There is a store finder at www.indiebound.org***