“He looked down on her as if inwardly shaking his head. ‘As much as I find your candor refreshing, are you always this forthright?’ ‘Generally, yes. Cr“He looked down on her as if inwardly shaking his head. ‘As much as I find your candor refreshing, are you always this forthright?’ ‘Generally, yes. Creating unnecessary complication through overnice adherence to the social strictures has always struck me as a waste of time.’” p. 11
Apparently it has been more than three years since I read a romance by Stephanie Laurens. Given that she was one of the authors that first introduced me to the wonders of historical romance, I am somewhat surprised. I guess I was due to pick up one of her books again.
Even though I have missed a number of episodes in the saga of the Cynsters (a high powered, very wealthy family of the Ton), I could fall into this tale with no problem. Laurens took me away from my humdrum life and whirled me into her fairy tale world.
“No substitute for the living, perhaps, but I wasn’t given a choice. I could take solace in their presence or I could fall down in a heap, lamenting w“No substitute for the living, perhaps, but I wasn’t given a choice. I could take solace in their presence or I could fall down in a heap, lamenting what I’d lost. The ghosts whispered to me, telling me to go on.”
I am often baffled by the reading tastes of others. I am sure folks are also baffled by my tastes. However, one of my guiding principles has been that if everyone is reading something, I don’t need to bother. I didn’t like the book series that were made into movies with Tom Hanks, I could care less about covered bridges and I really don’t need to read another book by the author who has a knack for finding the topic du jour and writing a novel with a twist at the end.
I keep trying popular novels even while I swear off them. I really wanted to know what it is about The Orphan Train that it continues to be popular two years after it was published. So I downloaded the book to my iPad. I was entertained for a few hours and nothing in this story was bad. It just didn’t keep me enthralled as it seems to have done for others.
It may be that another novel spoiled the story for me. I read My Notorious Life in June. This novel also included information about the orphan trains, but Kate Manning had so much more to say. She wrote a story that I could not put down. Based on the life of Ann Trow Lohman, this historical fiction included so much more. This book concentrated on the historical period in a way that The Orphan Train did not.
Although I finished this book by Kline, I doubt I will remember much about it in a year. The characters and their stories were interesting but not compelling. I am sure that others have enjoyed this and I am glad that they found their book. If someone asks me about this, I will find out what other books they have liked and recommend it or not, based on their reading tastes. ...more
I will put a quote here when this book is published.
Being Mortal really made me think about end of life issues. I am grateful to Gawande for his lookI will put a quote here when this book is published.
Being Mortal really made me think about end of life issues. I am grateful to Gawande for his look at how we make decisions about dying. Apparently, I am not done thinking about end of life issues because when I was offered this book through Edelweiss, I decided it was worth trying.
Decisions about the way I want to die seem a lot more relevant now, than earlier in my life. First of all, my mom is 86. She has been talking about what a good death means to her. I hope to live as long and as well as she has. However, at 61, my death is likely closer to me than my birth.
Ann Neumann comes to her book through the death of her father, which makes her story similar to Gawande’s. There are similar factors, but the stories are not alike. Neumann’s father did not have the death he had expected and that his daughters tried to provide for him. Because her dad’s plan had failed, Neumann thought she would look into how others plan their last days.
Neumann is not a doctor. She is a journalist who has written for numerous publications including the New York Times. After her dad’s death she became a hospice volunteer which influenced her research. She also explores the connection between religion and death, which Gawande did not cover in his book.
Although there was a little overlap between Gawande’s essays and Neumann’s, they mostly compliment each other. Neumann interviews a number of people who have particular issues with health care in the United States. One man is in prison and being force fed. Another person in the book is disabled and concerned about how he will be taken care of in his last days.
Neumann is also more concerned about the politics of life support and what happens when people enter vegetative states.
If you have any interest in how your life might end and how others’ beliefs may affect that end, you should read this book. Neumann has done extensive research and she is an excellent writer.
Thank you as always to Edelweiss and Beacon for letting me read this book a bit early. ...more
“She was not classic English perfection, but she was some sort of perfection and, being neither blind nor ignorant, Lord Dai generally recognized qual“She was not classic English perfection, but she was some sort of perfection and, being neither blind nor ignorant, Lord Dai generally recognized quality when he saw it.”
“Dain was heavy artillery, she thought. Nothing Bertie or anyone else could have told her could have prepared her. Coal black hair and bold, black eyes and a great, conquering Caesar of nose and a sullen sensuality of a mouth…”
I couldn’t resist reading another romance from the NPR list (http://www.npr.org/2015/07/29/4267318...) since I enjoyed the first one so much. So I picked out this one - for no other reason than it was available as an ebook from my local library. Once again I was not disappointed. Chase knows how to write a good, fun historical romance.
I think I am late to the party as far as this author is concerned. Chase has been writing romances for decades and has six series and over thirty books. There are a lot of books out there and I like reading a variety of genres. So, I won’t promise myself that I will read a lot more of Chase, but I will be happy to encounter her romances again. She knows how to take a fascinating hero, find him a beautiful, independent heroine and get them to a wonderful happily ever after. Just what every romance reader is looking for. ...more
“Departing is when all the tiny pieces that make you whole spring away from you like a big fat touch-me-not and get lost in the grass beyond any hope “Departing is when all the tiny pieces that make you whole spring away from you like a big fat touch-me-not and get lost in the grass beyond any hope of coming back together. It is the very moment when all your stories tumble from you, and you are reduced again to the weakest for of “to be” in the universe, leaving nothing to do but begin again.” p. 18
I worry that there is a school of writing that says that having a child protagonist makes the story easier to tell and helps the readers be sympathetic to the account. There are times that this works extremely well. Many of us love Scout (To Kill a Mockingbird or have met and enjoyed Flavia de Luce (The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie) or Bee in Where’d You Go Bernadette.
However, I am not sure that a young narrator is always helpful to moving a story forward. There are things that a child or young adult cannot know because they don’t have the life experience. I was worried that What the Waves Know was going to be a struggle because Izabella would not be able to carry the weight of her story. I have read other novels with young characters that have not worked very well.
I should not have worried. Izabella is unable to speak, but she made her life and its changes very clear to this reader. Not only is she clear, but she tells her story in such a way that I was engaged and wanted to know how it all worked out.
This is a first novel. Valentine does an excellent job and I look forward to her next story. I suspect she will grow into an author that many people will want to read.
Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for introducing me to both Tamara Valentine and her interesting characters. ...more
“Say you have a ‘special child,’ which in the South means one between Downs and dyslexic. Birth him with his father away on army maneuvers along East“Say you have a ‘special child,’ which in the South means one between Downs and dyslexic. Birth him with his father away on army maneuvers along East Texas bayous. Give him his only visitor in the military hospital his father's father, a sometime railroad man, sometime hired gun for Huey Long with a Louisiana Special Police badge. Take the infant to Manhattan, Kansas in winter where the only visitor is a Chinese peeping tom, little yellow face in the windows during the cold nights. Further, frighten the mother, age 20, with the child's convulsions. There's something different about this child, the doctors say.”
I walked into my local library recently and a friend handed me this audiobook. She said that I really needed to read it. Stick with it, she said. It isn’t easy. I had no idea what I was in for. Mark Richard is not an author I had ever read before.
I am afraid that if I had picked up the actual book, I would have abandoned it long before I got to the end of the first chapter. Go back to the top of my review and reread those sentences above. That is how the book begins. I really didn’t get it at first. Second person narratives are so hard to read. The last one I read, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia, was so unlike anything else I have read that I kept at it. In the case of House of Prayer #2, it was the narrator who drew me in.
As I learned in his memoir, Richard has a radio announcer’s voice and I could not resist his reading. I took my friend’s advice and stuck with it. Once I got used to the point of view, I was hooked and listened every chance I got.
This is a memoir that is fascinating and scary at the same time. Richard writes so well, that I felt I was there. That was both good and bad. There were moments when I could hardly listen to Richard tell his story. How did he live through all of this, I kept thinking. There is much in Richard’s tale that strained my belief system. There are many times that his life seemed at an end. His connections to God and faith are a bit bizarre, but I could not discount them. He believes and that is what is important.
If you are someone who reads memoirs regularly, don’t miss this one. If you like stories, fiction or non-fiction, that draw you in, shake you around and change you, you should look for this autobiography. This is a book that is promoted by one reader to another saying, “You must read this.” If you are a reader who relies on serendipity to find books for you, I am saying, “You must read this.” Give it a few pages so that you get Richard in your head, but you will not be sorry. ...more
“I don’t remember the next bit. I can never remember the next bit. I was light and free and floating for a moment and everything was fine. And then I“I don’t remember the next bit. I can never remember the next bit. I was light and free and floating for a moment and everything was fine. And then I was Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.” p. 9
Something in the title and cover of this book suggested that I download it. I think it was the possibility of recipes and a tale that included good food. Although I often tell people not to judge a book by its cover, I do it all the time. The vegetables on the cover definitely appealed to me. I am glad I followed my instincts. This was an absorbing read.
I am grateful to Tunnicliffe for introducing me to some fascinating people, especially Francesca and her father. Both of them have been through grief-filled times and need healing. Tunnicliffe introduces her main characters to an out of the ordinary community. Much to my delight this community knows good food and it is an interesting part of the story line.
All in all the book played out in a predictable way, but that did not detract from the story. It was fun to give myself up to a good tale that was well written and entertaining.
A Season of Salt and Honey follows the arc that in my mind defines women’s fiction. Francesca, the hero of the story, has some growing up to do. Her life has been ripped apart by tragedy and so she must redefine what will be a good life for her. Her journey is the story and Tunnicliffe does a great job showing how Francesca adapts to life’s challenges.
One of the women’s fiction authors that I always read is Barbara O’Neal. I like the way she handles her heroines and the changes they are going through. I did not think of O’Neal when I downloaded this book, but as I read this author’s style and the story she is telling reminded me of how O’Neal tells her stories.
If you like fun novels about women finding themselves or being successful at their life journeys, you may want to try Tunnicliffe. I plan to find her first novel the next time I am looking for a novel that focuses on women’s life experiences.
Thank you to the publisher for letting me read this.
“People are always wishing on falling stars, trying to see them, lying out under the nighttime sky, scanning back and forth, just hoping to spot one,“People are always wishing on falling stars, trying to see them, lying out under the nighttime sky, scanning back and forth, just hoping to spot one, and usually the ones they catch are fleeting, almost out of sight, vague impressions in their peripheral vision.”
It took me too long to read this book. When I finished, I felt like I lost the thread, the storyline didn’t seem to work. I kept thinking that I had missed something.
After I finish a book, I go back through, looking for a quotation for my review. This gives me an opportunity to review what I just completed. Sometimes finding a quote is easy. Given that this novel already had me off balance; it should not be a surprise that I couldn’t find the right passage.
After reading this beginning sentence several times, I realized that it does two things for me. First of all, the falling stars are important to the tale Gansworth is telling.
Secondly, this sentence captures how I feel about this book. I have a fleeting feeling that I know what Gansworth is talking about. But it is a vague impression, like I missed a chapter or two. All the characters seem to be just on the edge of my vision and when I turn their way, they move again.
Maybe my problem was that there was no one in the book with whom I shared many experiences. I didn’t fight in the Vietnam War, I didn’t raise a foster child, I have never been a long-distance truck driver. Most importantly, I never met a woman looking for the lost treasure from the movie Fargo.
That is not usually a problem for me, but with Extra Indians, I never found a hook between me and the people in the story.
I don’t regret picking this novel up. I read it to fulfill a task in the Book Riot challenge and I never would have tried it without that push. I have always said that every book is not for everyone. However, I have learned some things about Native Americans, the war in Vietnam and the way people can confuse each other.
If you are interested in film, Native Americans, friendship and various forms of love, I recommend you at least read the back cover of this book. It wasn’t for me, but it may be for you. ...more
“I got fascinated by the questions of how and why so many people have become perplexed by the challenge of doing something that people have always don“I got fascinated by the questions of how and why so many people have become perplexed by the challenge of doing something that people have always done quite efficiently: find romance.” p. 14
First of all, I need to make something clear. I am not in the market for a new romantic partner. I have been married to my college sweetheart for almost forty years and we are not splitting up. However, I have noticed that my daughter and other young people seem to be following a different path to romance. So when I heard about this book, I thought maybe it was time to hear what is going on in modern romance.
I had fun listening to Ansari read his book. Like many celebrity narrators, he added a few bonuses to the book. I think listening to this book is the way to go.
The data that Ansari and his colleague collected was fascinating and appealed to my need to know. I had read a book on the history of marriage many years ago and I was glad to be reminded how much that institution has changed. Romance has gone from not at all part of the equation (marriage is for economic and dynastic reasons) to one of the most important factors in marriage. I am glad to have heard about the changes technology has ushered in.
I also found some of the tips for using telephones, cell phones, twitter, etc. quite remarkable. I had no idea that people sent some lame texts and emails. If you are a man and dating, you might want to read this book just to learn what women prefer.
As far as the facts in this book, I believe that the research was well done and followed standard research protocol. I learned a lot about the dating habits of the technological world. It doesn’t matter what age you are, if you are dating now you are using a lot of options that were not available when I was dating.
I know I was not the audience that Ansari was looking for. However, I was entertained while learning about modern romance and recommend this book to those who are in the midst of dating. I am betting you will learn some things and find out that your experiences are similar to others who are also dating in the 21st century. ...more
“What.” Mel grimaced. “Hell, yes, this is Homicide Task Force. Don’t you know who you’re calling? He grinned at David. “Naw, Silver ain’t here. This i“What.” Mel grimaced. “Hell, yes, this is Homicide Task Force. Don’t you know who you’re calling? He grinned at David. “Naw, Silver ain’t here. This is Burnett.” p. 10
This novel begins like many crime novels. The story starts out with a victim escaping a serial killer and the protagonists trying to figure out how to capture the killer. If you read mysteries, this is not unusual. However, Hightower throws her readers and detectives a curve by including alien life forms in this mystery. The Elaki have come to earth and actually solved some of our problems. They are not usually concerned with deciphering criminal cases, but for some reason they are interested in this one.
I am glad I tried this story. I had listened to one of Hightower’s stories over seven years ago, but this is a different series. The aliens added several twists to the tale which kept me interested in a fairly average mystery.
Hightower has invented a future world with similarities to the place we live in now. So she could drop her readers into this new world without needing to explain everything that is different. This is not a cozy mystery, but it was fine. There was violence, but nothing that bothered me.
If you are a mystery reader and want some fun, light reading, you may want to try this book. If you like it, there are a few more stories about Silver, Burnett and the Elaki.
(After writing all this down, I went to Hightower’s webpage. It looks like this series was originally marketed as science fiction. Although there are aliens, I really thought of this as crime fiction. It shows you what preconceptions will do. The book I read earlier by Hightower was a mystery. The reprint of this book does not have a single alien on the cover. So I took the aliens as secondary to the crime fiction. Oh well, I still believe that mystery readers would enjoy this as well as those of us who read speculative fiction.) ...more
I probably should not be saying that I read this book. Maybe I shouldn’t review it either. This collection was picked as one of the best books of 2013I probably should not be saying that I read this book. Maybe I shouldn’t review it either. This collection was picked as one of the best books of 2013 by more than ten media outlets. It appears to me that everyone who has read these stories has loved them. Unfortunately, I did not like them. At least I did not like them when reading them close together.
I found these stories too much to take. I read the title story in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. I enjoyed it very much and so I decided to listen to the whole book. I only made it through six of the stories. In the middle of the seventh, I quit. It may have been the reader, but I felt like the tone of the seven stories I read was the same in every tale. I just got tired of Saunders’s wit and writing style.
I will try Saunders again. I just won’t try to read a bunch of his short stories in a row. ...more
“A warm voice, not loud but so rich in life that it filled the entire shop, wrapped itself around Magalie and held her, making her strain with startle“A warm voice, not loud but so rich in life that it filled the entire shop, wrapped itself around Magalie and held her, making her strain with startled indignation against the urge to shiver in delight.” p. 11-12
A big thank you to NPR for their list, Happily Ever After, http://www.npr.org/2015/07/29/4267318.... This is the first romance I have read from the list and it was great fun. I had not heard of Laura Florand and now I want to read more.
It has been about two months since I picked up a romance and I believe this made reading about Magalie and Phillippe even more enjoyable. Sometimes if I read too many romances in a row, it is like eating too many bonbons. They are always tasty, but they shouldn’t be part of every meal.
If you haven’t tried Florand before and you like contemporary romance try this one. Also it is worth looking at the NPR list. There are 100 good books to choose from – you are bound to find something you like. ...more
“For a long time, I read for just that reason, as if books were ripcords, escape hatches, portals out of my own life.” p.10 “What I was after, in other“For a long time, I read for just that reason, as if books were ripcords, escape hatches, portals out of my own life.” p.10 “What I was after, in other words, was not merely an escape but also a point of entry, a passport, or a series of passports, not to an older version of myself but to a different version - to the person I wanted to become.” p. 11
I had not heard of Ulin before encountering this essay. He is a book critic, teacher and author. Reading and books have been part of his life for a very long time. He says that his parents had wall-to-wall bookcases in their apartment and he has done the same wherever he has lived. (I am envious.)
I was curious when I saw the title and then even more interested when I saw this question on the back of the book: “Does reading even matter anymore?” Of course, this is not the first time I have seen this question. For years, librarians have worried about how much reading is being done. Many of us think our jobs depend on readers.
Ulin does believe that reading is important in our time. I was not surprised by that. Most essays of this type eventually say that reading is vital to human existence. For me, the pleasure of this 150 page essay is learning about Ulin’s relationship with reading and how he sees the distractions of technology affecting readers. Given that the book is five years old, I was wondering if Ulin’s data was obsolescent. Most of his concerns are still important and people are still worrying about what technology is doing to our culture.
If you are a reader, a teacher or a librarian, you may find information here that you find useful. However, I recommend you pick up this essay for the joy of meeting another reader. Ulin is obviously a lover of books and reading and I am glad to have met him. ...more
“No matter what issues I have with feminism, I am a feminist. I cannot and will not deny the importance and absolute necessity of feminism. Like most“No matter what issues I have with feminism, I am a feminist. I cannot and will not deny the importance and absolute necessity of feminism. Like most people, I am full of contradictions, but I also don’t want to be treated like s--- for being a woman. I am a bad feminist. I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”
I tried reading Gay’s novel, Untamed State. I could not get past the first 50 pages because I was imagining the violence to come. Gay had me anticipating terror – which is the sign of a good writer, but not something I could deal with at the time.
However, I wanted to read something by Gay. I had seen many comments from readers who liked the way Gay writes. So I thought I would try again with her essays. It was a wise choice.
These essays were all over the place which I did not mind. Gay writes about feminism, academia, popular culture, race and herself. I am not sure I would have put all these diverse subjects in one book, but it made for good reading.
Once I figured out how the book was put together, I knew that there would be some essays that I would like better than others, but that is typical of this type of collection. For example, I don’t pay much attention to movies, so those essays meant little to me. Of course, I didn’t agree with Gay on every subject, but that is to be expected.
I was especially glad to read her essays on feminism. I am part of the second wave of feminism which, unfortunately, was mostly white middle-class women. We got some things wrong – just like every movement. Gay’s take on feminism is a breath of fresh air. Also I am grateful to encounter a younger woman who admits to being a feminist. In my opinion too many younger people take the accomplishments of feminism for granted.
If you like essays, book and movie reviews and learning a bit about academe, this book may be for you. Just don’t expect to like everything you read. I believe that Gay knows how to tweak most readers’ buttons. ...more
“I don’t want to look at my mother; I don’t want to look at the floor, don’t want to allow my mother to see me, my belly round with this shame, me hel“I don’t want to look at my mother; I don’t want to look at the floor, don’t want to allow my mother to see me, my belly round with this shame, me helpless and too scared to speak. Imagine myself erased. The cold gray light tumbles in through the widow and absorbs me.” p.17
For several years I was on the planning committee for Go Read Richmond, a community reading event that ended with the year’s author speaking to hundreds of people about the book chosen. One year we picked Charming Billy by Alice McDermott. During the planning discussion that year we looked at That Night, also by McDermott.
We decided that we could not do a community read of that novel because none of the readers under thirty would have understood the premise of the book. That story, like this memoir was about an unexpected pregnancy and its repercussions. It is hard from this distance to remember how shameful pregnancy could be. The thought that you would send someone away, cut them off from their family for a mistake, even the mistake of becoming pregnant accidentally just does not seem plausible forty years later.
That Night is a novel. I found the story compelling, but it did not occur to me what it would be like to actually live through the shunning and loss. Hall tells us in Without a Map how her error impacted her whole life. Hall would always have a hole in her being.
This had to be a painful book to write. Hall’s family, church, school and town turned their backs on her. The last line in the book is “I owe everything to the friends who have believed in this book, and to my family for accepting its necessity.” I did not get the feeling that Hall and her family had much forgiveness for each other. Matter of fact, I am not sure Hall had much forgiveness for herself.
I could not put this book down. Hall is brutally honest about her life - her mistakes, her decisions, and her good and bad choices. I wanted to know what happened to her. How did Hall get from the girl who made a terrible error to a woman who taught writing at a university?
I recommend this memoir to anyone who lived through the 1960’s because we need to remember what really happened. I also believe that readers who have come of age since Roe vs. Wade need to read about the trauma young people suffered before the Pill and legal abortion. Lastly I suggest that if you like to read about other people’s lives you will do well to read about Meredith Hall. She knows how to write a compelling tale. ...more