(Jun) This review is going to be purposefully vague, as I don't want to give away anything. I'm not sure where I came across this book, but it was on(Jun) This review is going to be purposefully vague, as I don't want to give away anything. I'm not sure where I came across this book, but it was on my Nook and it looked like a quick, easy read, so as I was between books I wanted to read, I figured I'd give it a shot. I was right, it was quick and easy. It was also quite different from what I thought it would be, based on the first chapter. In chapter one we meet Lars, a simple man, a chef, and a father. We learn of his background growing up in Minnesota, his falling in love with Cynthia, and becoming a father to Eva. This chapter was quite charming, especially the menu Lars creates to feed his newborn daughter! However, when Eva is 6 months old, double tragedy strikes. The next section is about 11 year old Eva, who is having bullying trouble in school. She's a quiet, quirky kid who has inherited her father's love of food and passion for cooking. Section 3 veers away from Eva and is told from the point of view of her cousin Braque (?!), who finds herself in trouble during her freshman year of college. Eva does make an appearance towards the end of this section, and I figured this was maybe how the rest of the book would be - Eva and various people in her life. Sure enough, the next section we see Eva in high school, with her first boy friend, but like the previous section, it is told more from the boyfriend's point of view, yet Eva is still an important part of what we read. However, from here on out, Eva is more of a peripheral character, barely appearing as we read about various characters who are, at best, distantly related to people in Eva's life. One section, which focused on a grown up Eva's boyfriend's brother, really took me out of the story, as nothing that happened here (brother is a loser, w/a druggie dying mother, and a boring story about deer hunting) really had anything to do with anything, or anything to do with Eva. The last chapter ties things together w/a very loose bow.
I definitely enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second, as I wanted Eva to star in what I thought of as her story. I was not thrilled w/how it ended, exactly, but I am definitely a reader who prefers closure in my reading. One of the best parts of this book is the various recipes scattered throughout. I may have to try a few! Overall, an ok read. ...more
(Jun) This was a charming, quirky, kind of weird story. 7 year old (almost 8) Elsa is the smart, quirky, weird kid who just does not fit in. She's bul(Jun) This was a charming, quirky, kind of weird story. 7 year old (almost 8) Elsa is the smart, quirky, weird kid who just does not fit in. She's bullied at school, and no one listens to her except her quirky, weird grandmother, who is Elsa's best friend. Elsa's parents are divorced - her father has a new family and is a quiet, timid man who does not understand his daughter; her mother is also remarried and pregnant and quite a workaholic, leaving Elsa plenty of time to get into mischief with her grandma, who is dying of cancer. At first I found myself angry with this book, as I felt her mother should have done more to take care of her daughter who was physically and emotionally harassed at school - I hate books w/bad parents. I also found it quite odd that Elsa seemed to be gone from home so often, unbeknownst to her mother. Maybe in Sweden parents are a lot more lax, but I honestly don't know when there was a time when I didn't know where my 7 year old kids were, what they were doing, who they were with. I also know the world is full of precocious children who are wise beyond their years and read at a much higher level than one would expect. However, Elsa ability to read the entire Harry Potter series and access Wikipedia for all her questions struck me as a bit hard to believe. I felt that if Elsa had been 9 I wouldn't have had such a hard time believing all that she did.
Anyway, so Elsa's beloved grandmother is dying, and she leaves for Elsa a letter to deliver to someone. Thus starts Elsa's grand adventure. She meets a scary neighbor who it turns out is not so scary, a scary dog who she grows to love with all her heart, and she learns a lot about her grandmother's life before she was Grandma - the effect she had on people around her, many of whom Else knows as they live in the apartment building with them. There was an almost mystical quality in parts of the book, especially as Grandma had weaved for Elsa magical stories about other lands and many of these stories were told throughout the book. I skimmed most of those as I didn't feel they added much to the pacing of the overall story. I was not expecting to like this as my friend read it and could barely finish it. However, I closed the book with a final feeling of satisfaction, both in how the book ended and how I felt about it.
This was a somewhat polarizing book for our bookclub - many liked it quite a bit and others really could not stand it - they didn't like Grandma, nor did they care for many of the characters. CC - 3.25...more
(Jun) Once again, I finished a book waiting, desperately waiting for the plot to reveal itself, for the story to begin. Once again, I finished a book(Jun) Once again, I finished a book waiting, desperately waiting for the plot to reveal itself, for the story to begin. Once again, I finished a book and wondered why it was written - what was the purpose? I liked JL's The Namesake. Her Interpreter of Maladies was a collection of short stories -some worked, some did not. Here we are back to a single story, spanning 3 generations. It starts w/two brothers in India, and shows them growing up, both very bright students who go to college. While there, the younger brother gets involved in the unrest and turmoil happening in his country (this is explained in great detail, making parts of the book read like a history text). The older brother goes off to American to study and work. The rest of the book jumps between what happens to the brother in the USA, the wife of the India brother, a child, the boy's mother, etc. But it was just words on a page. This happened - then this happened - then this happened. The book felt choppy, as it took me sometimes a few pages to figure out whose story I was reading at the beginning of each chapter. There was no natural transition, and weirdly (and I'm sure there was reason behind it) there was no spoken dialogue - at least, no quotation marks. It made for a disconnected reading experience. I know not all books have to be happy, and not all created characters have to be liked - but why were all the women in this book made to be so selfish and unlikable. I often find that women writers don't write women well, and I don't know why that is. I read this for my bookclub and have no idea what we'll discuss, because over a 40+ year timespan, nothing really ever happens. ...more
(June) I think I read this in about 20 min, or less - it was less than 30 pages, I believe! Girl dragon is an indentured worked for bitchy boss. Girls(June) I think I read this in about 20 min, or less - it was less than 30 pages, I believe! Girl dragon is an indentured worked for bitchy boss. Girls gets turned over to Vampire. He demands one night with her. They have sex, she realizes he's her mate, they declare their love and that is that. Not sure why this was even written - but it was fine, a little piece of sexy fluff. ...more
(May) Just a brief comment about the book - thought I would love it. Paris, books, a bit of romance - what could be bad? Well, turns out that is not t(May) Just a brief comment about the book - thought I would love it. Paris, books, a bit of romance - what could be bad? Well, turns out that is not the magical recipe for success - I found this book incredibly boring. It was, as so many books have been for me lately, a whole lot of nothing. I found it draggy and pointless and yes, there were hints of charm, touches of sweetness here and there, but overall nothing special, nothing I would bother to recommend. I'm sure I missed some symbolism throughout, but I don't care - it was just boring!
(Apr) This was just ok. The premise - a girl from a rich Chicago family is kidnapped, her mother worries about her, as does the detective desperate to(Apr) This was just ok. The premise - a girl from a rich Chicago family is kidnapped, her mother worries about her, as does the detective desperate to find her. The chapters are told as Before and After - before she is found, and after she comes home. I liked the detective's chapters the best, found them the most interesting. The chapters belonging to Colin, the kidnapper, were draggy for the first half of the book - a lot of repetitive boring scenes of he and Mia in the desolate cabin in the remote woods. The story comes together better in the second half, and the ending has a twist that I definitely did not see coming. However, I found the ending a bit too rushed and would have liked that part stretched out a bit more. ...more
(Apr) 1.5* Let me begin by apologizing to those who love this series – and there are tons of you out there. I know what it’s like to truly love a seri(Apr) 1.5* Let me begin by apologizing to those who love this series – and there are tons of you out there. I know what it’s like to truly love a series and be confused by anyone who doesn’t. That said – I really, really did not like this book. I felt it took forever to get through, and the whole time I kept waiting for the story to begin. It never did.
There is no plot in this book. It is what I call a “slice of life” book – and I hate slice of life books! If I had to describe it, I’d say “2 girls grow up poor in Italy surrounded by family and friends and a bunch of inconsequential and non-related things happen that have little to no bearing on anything.” There were way too many characters who did nothing, and the narrator of the story, a teenage girl, is thoroughly unlikeable. She’s supposed to be best friends w/Lena, who everyone likes (why – no idea), but she’s petty, jealous, kind of a bitch to her mother and the boys who like her. She’s smart but doubts herself as she constantly compares herself to Lena and always comes up short. The book felt more dated than late 50s-early 60s. I just didn’t care about any of the characters – didn’t care if they were happy or if they were interesting (IMO, none were – they were all interchangeable and bland).
The ending – I was reading along, and then it just ends. I read a lot of cliff-hanger books, but this just ended so abruptly. I’m sure I was supposed to find great meaning in the ending, but I just kept thinking it needed another few pages, something, anything! I also didn’t like how the beginning starts off with the narrator an older woman – she gets a phone call from Lena’s son, Lena is missing…and then we jump into their childhood and never get back to where it began.
The rest of my Bookclub enjoyed this more than I did and plan to continue the series. I read the blurbs for the other three books and it does not sound like happiness is in anyone’s future – I’ll definitely pass. ...more
(Apr) I read this years ago for one bookclub, but when it was picked for my other bookclub this year, I realized I remembered liking it but could not(Apr) I read this years ago for one bookclub, but when it was picked for my other bookclub this year, I realized I remembered liking it but could not remember the book, so I started it again. I'm glad I did, because I liked it as much this time as I did before.
This is the story of Jews in Italy during WWII - those who fought for the resistance, those who hid and did their best to survive, the Germans who pursued them with a single-mindedness and the Italians who helped hide the Jews and fought against the German occupation of their homeland. I often find that the WWII books that aren't only centered around the Camps and the horror stories we've all heard before are sometimes more interesting. I am not sure how many people realize that Jews lived in Italy, coexisting with the Catholics, during the war. It's a story worth sharing, a story people should know. MDR weaves a story here of many characters - probably a few too many - and it's a sad, funny, all-too-realistic picture of what life must have been like for Italians after Mussolini fell from power and the Germans tried to take over their country. There is Claudia and her father, Jews who have lost half their family when the mom and younger brothers go into hiding.; Renzo Leoni (my favorite character - a man of many faces, tormented by his past, willing to risk his life to help others as his own personal penance) - and his mother Lidia; Father Osvaldo; a Rabbi and his wife and children; Santino, a soldier; Nuns; a distraught German doctor; and other miscellaneous characters, some sweet, others evil. While some might find it hard to keep track of the various charactersI found the story flowed well enough that it all fell into place pretty easily. There were a few characters who seemed to disappear but that kind of makes sense, as people disappeared throughout the war with no one knowing what happened to them. I lost track of a couple, not quite sure how they died, only knowing they did. I found it interesting how, at the end, we see one character an old woman, and discover that she's kept her entire childhood - all that happened to her, all she was involved with - a secret from her children. That seems to be a prevalent occurrence in books like this - and I wish I could understand why older people don't want to share their history with their family. Tragic, sad, private - but think how much history is lost, as well as how much understanding of people. The same thing was part of the plot of another really awesome WWII book - Those Who Saved Us.
The story presented here takes place over 2 years, and so much happens - births, deaths, destruction, success - that it's too hard to really synopsize, but that's ok. You don't need to know too much before starting to read and enjoy it. I recommend you do. ...more
(Apr) While not as good as the first book (Me Before You), I enjoyed this quite a bit. Louisa Clark is still in mourning after assisting the man she l(Apr) While not as good as the first book (Me Before You), I enjoyed this quite a bit. Louisa Clark is still in mourning after assisting the man she loved with his much wanted suicide. Her life is at a standstill, and she does not seem to be able to propel herself forward. After an accident, she recuperates at home and realizes she needs to do something with her life. She promises her family she will go to counseling, which is how she ends up at a bereavement group. What follows is Lou slowly emerging from her stupor, befriending a troubled young woman (could not stand her for most of the book and thought she didn't need the backstory as to why she was so bitchy), finds a man she likes, and finally able to move her life towards something more. To say much more would give too much away, but while not as emotional as MBY, this was a good read and I did shed a tear at the end. ...more
(Mar) I always like to note that to me these are contemporary romances vs pnr, even if they are a bit futuristic (only a few things scream I'm taking(Mar) I always like to note that to me these are contemporary romances vs pnr, even if they are a bit futuristic (only a few things scream I'm taking place in the future, like the auto chef and no guns). They could be romantic suspense, but really, they are not that either, as the main characters are not usually in danger. I also usually like to note that while most of the books in the In Death series can technically be read as stand alone books, they read best when you read in order. There is character and minor storyline developments that occur in various books, and often references to things that happened in past books. This is one the of the reasons I get annoyed at some of the 1* and 2* reviews here, where people note they are diving into a very well established series with no idea of what happened in the past - and then they don't get it, don't like it, etc.
All that said - as usual, I loved it. Not one of the strongest books in the series of late, but still an enjoyable mix of murder, humor, and a few of our favorite characters. Eve and Co. are invited to a party celebrating the filming of a book Nadine wrote about a case many books back (honestly, I have zero recollection of this case - if I knew in which book this case took place, I'd definitely read it again!). Eve finds it odd to meet a woman playing her, as well as the actors playing Roarke, Peabody, McNab, etc. By the end of the party, the actress playing Peabody is found dead. Thus begins Eve's search for the murderer among all those in attendance at the dinner. This book sticks pretty close to the main In Death characters - other than a scene or two with Mira and another couple with Feeney, it's pretty much Eve and Peabody's show (and Roarke, of course!). There is a really sweet scene between Peabody and McNab, and some of the shadows left from Eve's trip to Dallas still linger. However, it was a good mystery (I didn't peg the killer until Eve figured it out - but that's not unusual for me), some good action (between the sheets and otherwise!), and my interest was held. My only complaints...Eve tends to abbreviate the word analysis. However, read this sentence..."I'm going to take the recorders up to Feeney for a quick anal." While we know what she is saying, with the pronunciation just as it sounds when you cut off the second part of analysis. However, reading it - well, it startled me for a second because...well, you know! Secondly - when the killer was brought into the interview room at the end, I was surprised to see I only had like 4 pages left. I felt the ending was a bit too abrupt. I've actually felt that way about several of the In Death books - I feel like there needs to be a bit more...something. But, as always, it was wonderful to be back in the In Death world and I look forward to reading the next one. ...more
(Mar) I am pretty sure I read the first book in this series. I vaguely remember the beginning - the boys locked away, a little girl coming to let them(Mar) I am pretty sure I read the first book in this series. I vaguely remember the beginning - the boys locked away, a little girl coming to let them out. Alas, that is all I remember. However, I have the first book marked as "read" here, so I guess I did. I love HR, but unfortunately most of them blur together for me so only a few really stand out. And while I liked this book, it is not necessarily a stand out.
Lord Tristan and his brothers ran away after their father died and their uncle imprisoned them, planning to kill them. The youngest was left at a workhouse, Tristan was sold to a ship's captain, and Sebastian went into the army. They later returned, grown me, defeated their evil uncle, and Sebastian regained his rightful position as Duke. The separation left the brothers not very close, especially Rafe, the youngest who still harbors bitter resentment towards his brothers for leaving him. Tristan is now a ship's captain, and he is approached on night by Anne, who wants to leave England to find her fiancé . Tristan is intrigued by the lady and ends up agreeing to take her to her fiancé . Sparks grow between them during the journey and once Anne is brought to where Walter is, she's able to let him go and move on with her life, letting go of her love for him (view spoiler)[turns out Walter died in the war and Anne just wanted to say goodbye. She felt guilty because he wanted to sleep with her before he left and she said no. (hide spoiler)] Once back in England, Anne and Tristan cannot keep away from one another, even though she promised her family of obnoxious brothers she'd find a husband now that she was ready to reenter society. Tristan, meanwhile, spends a bit of time with his brothers (separately - seems like Rafe does not want to be around Sebastian), and putters around the outskirts of society, just so he can be near Anne. In the end, love wins and the two of them manage to find their own way to make it work.
This was good. Not great - there was a bit too much going on, what with her brothers, his brothers, Lady Hermione, his past, her newest suitor, etc. A bit less plot and a bit more attention to some things that were brought up and left hanging a bit (like Tristan's globe he made for Rafe, more about Tristan's time as a young boy at sea) and it would have been a tighter, better story. Still and all, I enjoyed it and do plan to read Rafe's book, even though he seems like he needs to grow up and get over himself a bit! ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
(Mar) 2.5* I'm not sure why the newest trend (or maybe not so new?) in books is to write books that feature incredibly unpleasant women who are kind o(Mar) 2.5* I'm not sure why the newest trend (or maybe not so new?) in books is to write books that feature incredibly unpleasant women who are kind of messed up. If they are interesting, or if we can embrace their psycho-ness, then it's maybe ok. Here, I just found myself wanting to reach into the pages to slap Ani more than once.
TifAni, who now goes by Ani (that's Ah-knee, not Annie) is a bitch. She's also incredibly fake and excruciatingly annoying. The story here is told in two parts that are interspersed, along with a million asides. TifAni is the daughter of a father who pays no attention to her (after an incredibly horrible incident, when she gets home from the hospital, he leaves to go to work, and later on is annoyed because the lights and tv are keeping him awake!) and a mother who is a grasping poseur, desperate to be accepted by those with money, those who live the good life in PA's wealthy Main Line area. Tif transfers from her Catholic school to a private school and is desperate to be accepted by the cool kids at school. Instead, she's taken in by a group of odd ducks, all of whom seem nice enough at first. But still, Tif wants to be with the Cool Kids and her machinations to get in with the right crowd ultimately leads to destruction and tragedy.
Ani, now a grown woman working for a hip woman's magazine in NYC, is engaged to the handsome, somewhat bland Luke, who comes from old money and only knows the Ani that she allows him to see. He not only does not know the real Ani, he apparently has no interest in getting to know her. He likes what he sees - the fake slightly kookie, slightly neurotic woman who looks good on his arm. He knows what he likes and likes what he knows and prefers to pretend the bad stuff from her childhood just never happened. Little does he know that she is unhappy, writhing with contempt for anyone who is not whippet thin, full of class and manners and taste, yet afraid if she makes one wrong move she'll be exposed as the ultimate fake that she is.
There is an incredible amount of brand name dropping here (at least when J. R. Ward does it it's almost funny; here is was just show-offy). I'm not hip enough or savvy enough to recognize many of the name brands or hip designers (although hailing from NY in my much younger days, at least I know what she meant when she referred to a Medium Brown Bag - hello, Bloomingdales! Wonder how many people who have never shopped at Bloomies would have no idea what she was talking about). Living inside of Ani's head got tiring after a while - her contempt for everyone and everything around her, her desperate striving to be thin enough, smart enough, good enough to look down on the little people (like a young Leona Helmsley, but not as rich or evil).
I didn't like the way this was written. Too choppy, too many back and forths between TifAni and Ani. I'm not sure if we were supposed to be more horrified by (view spoiler)[when, at 14, she went to a "party" at a guy's house - the only girl among several boys - got drunk and was assaulted by 3 boys who then went on to act like nothing happened and she kept it a secret so she could remain in the inner circle of cool kids (hide spoiler)] or (view spoiler)[when the cool kids turn against her, she goes back to her original gang, hangs w/her friend Arthur - who gets kicked out and goes Columbine on the school, killing 5 kids including most of her tormentors (hide spoiler)]. To me, the most horrifying part was the aftermath of (view spoiler)[the shooting (hide spoiler)] when it is legitimately made to look like TifAni was involved when she truly wasn't. Scary to see how innocent stuff can make someone look so guilty! The whole Mr. Larson thing was weird and uncomfortable and didn't really do much for me. I also don't know exactly why they would want to interview a teacher who was gone from the school by the time the (view spoiler)[shooting (hide spoiler)] happened. The side characters struck me as quite one dimensional - Luke's parents, Ani's boss and also her friends - they all seemed to be plucked out of central casting.
I know book blurbs are written to entice, but I usually find them to be somewhat honest about what to expect in the book. The blurb of this book says "Ani endured a shocking public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself" - I'm not sure what public humiliation is being referenced, because (view spoiler)[the rapes (hide spoiler)] were neither shocking or public, really. The blurb also says "Ani has a secret...there's something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and ruin everything (view spoiler)[again - the rape? That's not exactly a secret. The shootings? Also not a secret. (hide spoiler)]. It says "with twists you won't see coming" - but I'm telling you, there are no twists (view spoiler)[other than maybe the last scene w/Dean, (hide spoiler)]The blurb was written to tantalize and titillate and raise curiosity, yet I find it blatantly misleading.
The ending? Not sure how I feel about it. Kind of feel sorry for Luke, he was a nice enough guy, a bit of a douche, but over all didn't deserve having the rug pulled out from under him when Ani finally decides to be somewhat real. Are we supposed to believe Ani left behind her grasping ways and is willing to be not the be-all-and-end-all of NYC? I didn't see enough growth, enough change, enough realness to believe she'll ever be happy - and while I didn't hate her at the end as much as I did at the beginning, I still could not stand her. Overall, a very meh book. Tried a bit too hard to be Exciting and Important and all it felt to me was a tired copy cat of better books that have come before. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more