This is a fantastically insightful book about the four aspects of love: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom. The book covers various Mindful...moreThis is a fantastically insightful book about the four aspects of love: loving kindness, compassion, joy, and freedom. The book covers various Mindfulness meditations for practicing loving kindness toward oneself and others and discusses the deep looking necessary to give happiness and joy through your love.
The very first few pages were the most profound, for me, particularly that "loving-kindness is not only the desire to make someone happy, to bring joy to a beloved person; it is the ability to bring joy and happiness to the person you love, because even if your intention is to love this person, your love might make him or her suffer."
This is definitely a must-read and something that I plan on studying further and referring to frequently.(less)
Ride with Me is a very enjoyable romance novel about two strangers who end up bicycling across the country together and (surprise surprise!) falling i...moreRide with Me is a very enjoyable romance novel about two strangers who end up bicycling across the country together and (surprise surprise!) falling in love. Great character development and prose. I like bicycling, so that aspect of the story was fun as well.
The only downside was that it was a romance novel. At a certain point, the plot (I want him, I don't want him, I love him, I hate him) began to drag. I am just not the biggest fan of stories where the romance is the main plot driving the story, instead of a sub-plot supporting a story-line a bit heftier than relationship melodrama. But, for what it is, this was an excellent representative of the genre. (less)
This is a novella-length story about a woman who becomes inadvertently entangled with J.W., the quiet and mysterious leader of the Maniacs motorcycle...moreThis is a novella-length story about a woman who becomes inadvertently entangled with J.W., the quiet and mysterious leader of the Maniacs motorcycle club.
As my first foray in this series, this installment was probably not the best place to start--I felt like there was context about the Maniacs that I was maybe missing, as I read. Although my understanding is that each story is a stand-alone piece.(less)
This second collection follows Snow White and Rose Red as they visit the Animal Farm, in upstate New York--wh...moreSo far, Fables has been just okay for me.
This second collection follows Snow White and Rose Red as they visit the Animal Farm, in upstate New York--where all the non-human or otherwise too-unusual-to-blend-in fables live. Little do they realize they have arrived just as the farm's occupants are about to stage an uprising.
What doesn't excite me about this story: the art, the solve-a-mystery type plots, and the lack of personal entanglement between characters. What I did enjoy was rebel leader Goldilocks and her tension-filled interactions with the bears and other rebel fables. I love this gun-toting, extremist version of her. Too bad the tension and unspoken baggage between her and her fellow rebels was left never to be further explored.(less)
Saga is the story of a man and woman from two warring humanoid races who have, against all odds, fallen in love and had a child together. Now hunted a...moreSaga is the story of a man and woman from two warring humanoid races who have, against all odds, fallen in love and had a child together. Now hunted as war criminals by both their peoples, they are on the run with an infant and an eclectic collection of companions.
Really fantastic second installment. Laugh out loud funny at times. Great art, great story and dialogue. As risque as the first volume (faint of heart be wary). And the ending has made me very impatient for volume 3!(less)
So so so good. This is what a graphic novel should be. This first volume depicts the birth and first days of an infant born to parents of warring race...moreSo so so good. This is what a graphic novel should be. This first volume depicts the birth and first days of an infant born to parents of warring races, who have married against all odds and are now pursued by both their peoples as outlaws and deserters.
The art is fantastic and, above all, consistent. The writing is emotionally engaging and avoids the pitfalls of exposition.
Just a word of warning, though. Don't pick this series up unless you're comfortable with a lot of nudity and graphic violence.(less)
This biography of the criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde was slow to begin and often frustrating to read, at first. It turns out B&C were, for the most...moreThis biography of the criminal duo Bonnie and Clyde was slow to begin and often frustrating to read, at first. It turns out B&C were, for the most part, terrible at what they did, blundering from one semi-botched hold-up job to the next.
The biography begins before that, though, going through the childhoods of Bonnie and Clyde and the economic backgrounds of their families--poverty was a big contributor to Clyde turning to a life of crime. As I already mentioned, the middle section lagged. Guinn goes through every single known hold-up. Many of which, particularly in the beginning, did not go very smoothly for Clyde and his "Barrow Gang." But intermixed between those frustrating failures were some very interesting tidbits about the pair. Clyde's time in prison for example, and the extraordinary measures he went to to get relocated to a less back-breaking labor camp. Also, Bonnie's poetry and the car accident that rendered her crippled for life. These are the kinds of things they don't mention in most of the movies and TV documentaries. The things, honestly, that make Bonnie and Clyde most interesting. The story really picked up in the end, too, as Guinn began setting up the inevitable demise of the pair.
Guinn makes a strong argument for why his biography is much more historically accurate than most of those that have preceded him, which he says were inundated with sensationalism and blatantly fictionalized dialogue and events. It intrigued me enough to consider reading some of these other materials, to see how the media can so skew reality as to make a pair of bumbling, two-bit crooks into one of the most wanted criminal gangs in the country.(less)
I didn't expect this to be so short or so very very simple. I think the only way to get a ton out of it is to read it much slower than I did in search...moreI didn't expect this to be so short or so very very simple. I think the only way to get a ton out of it is to read it much slower than I did in search of the deeper meanings both textually and contextually. I did enjoy seeing how Alice learned some, while venturing through Wonderland, about manners and maybe not telling her animal companions about how she ate or saw someone eating their kind just the other day. Silly Alice. The book does do a great job of characterizing how the young are so very oblivious to their own shortcomings while still aware of those same flaws on those around them.(less)
Elizabeth Gilbert's (Eat, Pray, Love) latest work of fiction is an epic and engulfing historical wandering into the worlds of botany and life in the e...moreElizabeth Gilbert's (Eat, Pray, Love) latest work of fiction is an epic and engulfing historical wandering into the worlds of botany and life in the early 18th century. The story follows the life of Alma Whittaker, daughter of a highly successful and enterprising botanist and pharmaceuticals manufacturer (with a very fascinating prelude about him and how he came to be the successful man he was). Alma is graced with the keen intelligence of both her parents and takes up botany at a very young age. Despite her mother's emphasis on moral propriety, she also discovers herself as a sexual being and looks forward to the day she will marry and couple with a man. But that day seems, for a very long time, like it will never come for Alma, as we follow her into adulthood and then old age through her eventful and thought-provoking life.
To be honest, a lot of the tension that drove me to keep reading at a pretty quick pace was "is this girl ever gonna get laid?" But what I loved about the story was that you never knew where it was going and it took so many unexpected turns. It was definitely an adventure, seeing where the tail would go next. And the prose were phenomenal, making it easy to lose yourself in the story and not realize that time was actually still passing around you, as you read.
This is a very funny picture book about Darth Vader raising young Luke Skywalker, as a single father. Most of Vader's lines are pulled directly from t...moreThis is a very funny picture book about Darth Vader raising young Luke Skywalker, as a single father. Most of Vader's lines are pulled directly from the movies as are many of the situations, such as Luke playing in the trash compactor. From the author note, the concept for the book came from the humorous idea of Vader and Luke spending Father's Day together. The author has since explored Vader's fatherhood further with the creation of Vader's Little Princess, which I've only skimmed. But, based on that skimming, I would probably rate it at five stars.(less)
I added this memoir to my list after reading a personal essay about knitting, by Maynard, in Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. The mention of her r...moreI added this memoir to my list after reading a personal essay about knitting, by Maynard, in Knitting Yarns: Writers on Knitting. The mention of her relationship with J.D. Salinger was what particularly caught my attention. But the fact that the book was in audiobook format (my preferred method of "reading" memoirs, these days) was why it didn't end up languishing on my to-read list for a couple of years.
I am always amazed and impressed by the bravery of authors who write memoirs that do not flatter them at all but instead reveal the utter depth of their naivete, lack of common sense, spitefulness, or other personal shortcomings. Maynard, as a young adult, embodied the first two of these in spades.
At eighteen, and just beginning college at Yale, she fell under the sway of fifty-three year old author J.D. "Jerry" Salinger--first through a lively correspondence and then by phone and in person. She was starry-eyed for him, felt like the most precious and special girl in the world for having caught his attentions. She was also (though she didn't learn this until years later) not the first nor the last to fall prey to Salinger's celebrity and charms. But, not only did she fall in with Salinger, she quit Yale to move in with him. She struggled with anorexia and bulimia. She declined to do any promotion for her first memoir because of Salinger's hatred of the media. Although Maynard has found some success in her writing career, I wonder how much she hurt herself by following Salinger's advice--which essentially sabotaged her career in its infancy--and then by her other decisions after her relationship with Salinger abruptly ended.
This was an interesting story to read, presented in an objective way where Maynard allows the reader to pass their own judgments on the actions of her, her parents, and J.D. Salinger.
The beginning of the memoir greatly reminded me of Augusten Burroughs's childhood in A Wolf at the Table, because they both dealt with alcoholic fathers and their families were similarly dysfunctional (although Maynard's father was much milder, when intoxicated, then Burroughs's). But that childhood dysfunctionality went on to greatly effect both authors in adulthood.
I didn't actually enjoy the original version of New Spring, so I'm not sure why I wanted to read the graphic novel other than for a masochistic need f...moreI didn't actually enjoy the original version of New Spring, so I'm not sure why I wanted to read the graphic novel other than for a masochistic need for thoroughness. From page one, the graphic novel adaptation promised no improvement but looked like it was provisioning up to be worse than the original.
The graphic novel adaptation poses similar challenges to that of a movie adaptation. The form relies on visuals and dialogue, with little opportunity for direct exposition. The New Spring graphic novel completely ignores that reality, giving us huge swaths of narrative, expository text explaining the scenes presented to the reader in each spread. In this medium, for the most part, I think the graphics should explain themselves. Yes, sometimes you miss out on a little nuance (especially depending on how long you spend looking at each illustration). But no one picks up a graphic novel expecting to read the Bible.
Suffice it to say, I skimmed a lot. Some things I did enjoy included the depictions of young Moiraine and Siuan, and some of the intricate and lovely dress details. I could not tell the Borderlandian men apart very well and relied mostly on the context of their dialogue to determine who was saying what.
One most peculiar thing was the illustration quality, which changed about two-thirds of the way through the story into a sloppy, un-detailed mess. I'm not sure if several different artists did illustrations for different segments of the book or perhaps that Jordan didn't live to quality control through the entire production, so the publisher just let things slide once he wasn't looking over their shoulders anymore? But Moiraine at the end of the book looked nothing like Moiraine at the beginning, which was odd considering the very specific and rather nit-picky emails from Jordan about character appearances, included in the graphic novel end notes.(less)
I wouldn't say I've read a lot of nonfiction stories about knitting. But what I have read has brought me to expect a lot of wit and humor, as well as...moreI wouldn't say I've read a lot of nonfiction stories about knitting. But what I have read has brought me to expect a lot of wit and humor, as well as a point. In contrast to those expectations, many of these personal essays were meandering and barely cohesive. As a book with all professional writers as contributors, I have to say I was rather disappointed in the quality of many of the stories. Many of them (particularly at the beginning of the collection) came off as if they were written for a warm-up writing prompt and then published as-is, with very little editing or refining. The stories were also very arbitrarily arranged in alphabetical order by last name of the contributors, which didn't at all help with the flow of the collection. Lastly, a significant portion of the essays were written by people who wished they could knit. I suspect this book is primarily aimed at a knitting audience. As a knitter, I am much more interested in reading about other knitters, when I read a collection of personal essays about knitting, than about people who wish they could knit. Just pick up a pair of needles and do it already! It's really not that hard.
There were a few hidden gems, including contributions by Andre Dubus III, Martha Frankel, Jessi Hempel, Joyce Maynard, and Taylor M. Polites.(less)
I probably shouldn't have read this, as I had sworn off all Orson Scott Card at least until the end of this year. But I thought it would be nice to li...moreI probably shouldn't have read this, as I had sworn off all Orson Scott Card at least until the end of this year. But I thought it would be nice to listen to a Christmas story around Christmas time. Zanna's Gift is a rather sad Christmas story entailing (view spoiler)[the death of one child and the permanent disabling of another (hide spoiler)]. Yet it has a nice message. I didn't consider it remarkable enough to actually recommend to anyone. But it's short and wasn't a complete waste of time.(less)
This fourth volume of the graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World begins with the groups separated after their harried flight from Shadar Log...moreThis fourth volume of the graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World begins with the groups separated after their harried flight from Shadar Logoth and ends...in just about the same place, only the groups are a bit nearer to arriving in Caemlyn. That summary kind of sums up the dragging pace of this installment. It's a part of the book that I've always found odd, too. And it might have benefited from some abbreviation in the graphic novel form. Art was better in this volume than in the third. But the whole thing still didn't give me the excitement and eagerness that I was left with after the first two installments.(less)
This third volume in the graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World begins with the group's entrance into the fallen city of Shadar Logoth and e...moreThis third volume in the graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World begins with the group's entrance into the fallen city of Shadar Logoth and ends with their separation after fleeing the city--Perrin and Egwene across the river and into the company of Elyas; Rand, Mat, and Thom meanwhile hitching a ride on a river boat.
Although one could say that a lot happens in this installment, I actually felt like the pacing fell dramatically away and I didn't breeze through this one so easily. Something about the art, too, seemed less consistent and engaging. Almost as if a new artist had taken over-- though I know from the masthead that this wasn't the case--the characters didn't look consistently the same from page to page.
I enjoyed this graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time Book 1) quite a bit more than I expected to after my disappointment wit...moreI enjoyed this graphic novel adaptation of The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time Book 1) quite a bit more than I expected to after my disappointment with the New Spring graphic novel. The only frustrating thing is that they are being produced so slowly. I would love to "reread" the series (up to where I left off) in this new form, but despite publication of the first graphic novel volume back in 2011, there are still only four published volumes, and that's still only covering part of the first book in the series. Thought you waited long for the original series? It seems it will be decades upon decades before the graphic novel series is complete (if ever). Too bad. But I'll still enjoy reading the four that are out so far.(less)
I was a bit disappointed in Beautiful Darkness, which I felt suffered from the sophomore slumps. The shape of Darkness is quite different from Beautif...moreI was a bit disappointed in Beautiful Darkness, which I felt suffered from the sophomore slumps. The shape of Darkness is quite different from Beautiful Creatures, which is perhaps the main source of my disappointment. Where Creatures has Ethan and Lena struggling to fit in in a close-minded southern high school and a town where everyone is in everyone else's business, Darkness is a down-the-rabbit-hole adventure. Lena is in full-blown teenage rebellion mode and absent from most of the story. On his own, Ethan gathers a crew of quirky companions to help him track Lena down, through the network of caster tunnels that run below the entire country, and save her from falling into the hands of the dark casters.
Lena's who-am-I drama felt old as it continued to play out in Book 2. And Ethan just isn't as interesting without Lena around to play counterpoint. I'll keep reading, but I hope this book isn't an indication of the quality of the works to come.(less)
This second installment in the Hitchhiker's Guide series was just okay through most of its length. The focus is primarily on Zaphod Beeblebrox, the tw...moreThis second installment in the Hitchhiker's Guide series was just okay through most of its length. The focus is primarily on Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed ex-president of the galaxy, as he tries to discover the knowledge and plans hidden away in his brain. Both humans, Arthur and Trillian, took major back seats. Perhaps the thing I disliked most about Zaphod's front-and-center status was the hair-slicked-back, Johnny-motorcycle-jacket voice the audio book narrator gave him. However, again, Restaurant pulled through in the end with two separate and supporting culminations cleverly presenting a strong message about life and existence. Definitely good enough (and short enough) to read another.(less)
Aftersight has an ensemble cast (with rotating point of view characters) between several young women who all find themselves (either suddenly or not s...moreAftersight has an ensemble cast (with rotating point of view characters) between several young women who all find themselves (either suddenly or not so suddenly) the bearers of paranormal abilities. They are recruited by the low-key Waltham Academy for Psychic Sensitives, in Northwest England, whose not-so-public agenda is to hone the paranormal abilities of its students. The girls find themselves suite mates as they begin their studies at Waltham, learn more about their uncanny abilities, and stumble upon a new mystery about themselves and their connections to each other. That mystery culminates in an offsite, ghost-hunting assignment that turns out to be indelibly linked to their past—their past lives, that is. And the girls learn new things about themselves while also proving that they can use their newfound abilities to help others.
There were definitely moments of intense creepiness in this novel, where I asked myself, “Should I really be reading this in bed, right before going to sleep for the night?” But those moments never stepped over the line from creepiness to nightmare-inducing, for which I was glad. There was also some interesting creepiness in the histories of some of the girls. For example, Nicole has grown up always being able to see ghosts. When she was young, she believed that Santa Clause came to visit her. It was rather a shock when she discovered, as she came into puberty, that the man who had introduced himself as Santa Clause was really just an old, perverted ghost with a penchant for young girls. Eugh! But interesting to consider this possibility when you’re talking about young girls and ghosts. I like the ghostly immorality introduced here, and the way it was presented introduced a bit of humor into the story at that point. I was disappointed that we never got any chapters from Nicole’s point of view, and I look forward to reading an installment of the series primarily from her point of view in the near future, as she was one of my favorite characters.
I really liked the twist at the end, when we found out (view spoiler)[that Cali was actually the dead brother from their mysterious past life, not one of the girls. Which explains her strange attraction to Nicole, who was the reborn soul of his centuries-past lover. Tyson broke gender expectations as well by turning out to be one of the girls from that past life. I really liked the unexpected mixing up of the genders (hide spoiler)]. And I hope it will offer a lot of interesting relationship dynamics and conflicts for future installments of the story. At the end of the novel, there were still a lot of smaller story threads that I can’t remember receiving any explanation for, such as Becky’s mysterious episodes of visions and passing out. I can only assume these are potential plot lines for future books, and I’m interested to see where the story goes. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This "book" is actually a live recording of a conference Vogler presented at and also includes Q&A from the session. His main focus, in this talk, is story structure and character archetypes. In the Q&A, he also delves a good bit into theme.(less)
I found Sandberg's exploration of continued workforce gender issues to be spot-on, both insightful and useful. Of particular interest was her insight...moreI found Sandberg's exploration of continued workforce gender issues to be spot-on, both insightful and useful. Of particular interest was her insight on the perception of women as caring, and how both men and women negatively judge women who let go that expected caring for self-promotion and ambition. Also interesting was the fact that women are less inclined to interrupt than men and are sometimes more often interrupted themselves. Women are less likely to negotiate for higher pay or put themselves out there for raises or promotions, which may be a contributing factor to the fact that women, on average, are still paid significantly less than men. I also find it telling that Sandberg received so much criticism for this book (both in the media and through word of mouth -- whenever I mentioned to someone that I was reading it, all I heard were bad things even though these people had never read the book themselves). When you get backlash for exposing issues like these, you know you must be on the right track.
This is a must read for both men and women. On a par with continuing to fight the institutional racism that still plagues the U.S., everyone should be aware of these issues, so we can all help contribute to their resolution. (less)
Where'd You Go, Bernadette tells the story--through letters, emails, and other written mediums--of fourteen-year-old Bee's trying to unravel the myste...moreWhere'd You Go, Bernadette tells the story--through letters, emails, and other written mediums--of fourteen-year-old Bee's trying to unravel the mystery of her mother's sudden disappearance from her life. Her mother, Bernadette, is an eccentric ex-artist/architect who is still struggling to find her feet again after a mean-spirited disaster befell her last architectural masterpiece and she suffered several miscarriages before Bee finally came along. Bee's father is a genius Microsoft-ie who isn't often at home.
I was rather confused when I started reading this book. Despite the fact that Bee is the one who has organized the letters and emails into a cohesive whole--inserting her own commentary here and there--this is actually a book written for adults. But Bernadette's emails--particularly to her Indian virtual assistant, Manjula--read as if she is a chatty, snarky fourteen-year-old herself. The narrative voice of Bernadette was just completely unbelievable to me as an adult, and I had a hard time suspending my disbelief on the kind of ridiculous stuff she talked about in her emails to her virtual assistant. This book reads like a middlegrade novel (written for 10-12 year olds). Bernadette was also, at times, rather racist and classist--as are many of the other characters.
Those issues aside, this was actually a very entertaining read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I have issues with reading books based in my own locale of Seattle--the place-dropping tends to annoy the crap out of me. Which was still the case here, but I also enjoyed most of the Microsoft stuff. Semple did a good job of preventing both the pros and cons of the company as an employer. I also liked how she presented the good and bad of Seattle.
Definitely a book worth checking out--a fun, easy, drama-ridden read.(less)
The Stranded, the fifth and final installment in the first Silo saga, follows the continued unraveling after Juliette's expulsion from silo #18 -- the...moreThe Stranded, the fifth and final installment in the first Silo saga, follows the continued unraveling after Juliette's expulsion from silo #18 -- the uprising that continues to wrack the silo's core, Lukas's trials as Bernard's new second, and Juliette's own trials in silo #17.
This last book flowed so urgently from the last (as all of them do, really) that I hardly noticed I was on book five. Actually thought I was on book four for half of this one, until I noticed there really wasn't room left for another book. This is a much longer installment--as Howey says, a full book-length as opposed to the short story and novella lengths of the previous ones. I noticed the longer length as I read, but didn't truly feel the length (wouldn't have guessed it was actually novel sized, as I breezed through it), since the story pace keeps right on going.
I did, however, slow down a bit for another reason. It just got so darn depressing (view spoiler)[with everyone dying and all (hide spoiler)]. Things definitely go from bad to worse, for a while, in this final installment, and I began to wonder if anyone was going to make it.
I docked one star off my rating because I was a bit disappointed in the end, in that the event that seems like the main climactic moment actually ends up happening off-stage, where we don't see it. That is, (view spoiler)[when Bernard ends up getting sent out to cleaning instead of Lukas. I would have liked to see that final tussle and then maybe be left wondering who exactly got sent out to cleaning before the narrative switched back to Juliette for the reveal (hide spoiler)]. Having us not see that conflict at all seemed like a bit of a cop-out.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Book 6 of Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries seems to be where the books and the TV series really and definitively part ways. Usually I focus on ill...moreBook 6 of Harris's Sookie Stackhouse mysteries seems to be where the books and the TV series really and definitively part ways. Usually I focus on illustrating the differences between each book and season. Here, I need only list the similarities, as they are quite few. But let's start with a summary of the book itself.
Definitely Dead finds Sookie dealing with the aftermath of two previous deaths: those of her cousin Hadley--a recently-made vampire and lover of the vampire queen of Louisiana (Okay, here's one difference. In the show, cousin Hadley is half-faerie, like Sookie, not a vampire. Oh, but if I recall correctly (view spoiler)[she does actually die in season 6 (hide spoiler)].), and Alcide's ex-fiancee, crazy were-beotch Debbie Pelt. The Pelt family is still sniffing around Bon Temps trying to get to the bottom of their daughter's/sister's sudden disappearance. Meanwhile, Hadley has named Sookie her heir, and she heads off to New Orleans to deal with all her cousin's stuff, where she meets Hadley's naive and friendly witch landlord and very quickly discovers a dead body stashed in her cousin's apartment. Or...not so dead.
Besides Hadley, the only other storyline similarity to True Blood was taken for an earlier season. In Definitely Dead, the vampire queen of Louisiana has recently contracted marriage with the vampire king of a nearby state who secretly plots to take over her power and fortune (or whatever, I was never too clear on the motivations here). This storyline was modified and used in, I believe, Season 3.
To sum up - another entertaining Sookie installment. Thoroughly enjoyed and look forward to reading the next.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)