I really, really liked this book. If I didn't know it was true, I would have thought some of the experiences were told to solidify points the author wI really, really liked this book. If I didn't know it was true, I would have thought some of the experiences were told to solidify points the author was trying to make. It is truly a 'feel good' book encased is grief. Joanne Huist Smith is suddenly widowed with 3 children 10, 12 and 17 and this is her story of moving through grief during the first Christmas just 2 months after her husband died. One day they find an anonymous gift left on their porch. It is this gift and the ones that follow that lifts the family out of the depth of grief that threatens the entire family. She says it best when she says that their gift givers compassion for them had grown "from a deep knowledge that sweetness and sorrow of the season when joy and grief intertwine." It's a beautiful story and could be a Hallmark movie....more
The Language of Flowers is a novel of heartbreak and hope; harshness and beauty, and relationships that are flawed and damaged yet somehow manage to c The Language of Flowers is a novel of heartbreak and hope; harshness and beauty, and relationships that are flawed and damaged yet somehow manage to crawl toward the light. Victoria, a product of the foster care system, has, at eighteen, been emancipated to the streets. Ms. Diffenbaugh has written a novel that doesn't shield the reader from the harsh realities of life but at the same time allows a glimmer of hope to filter through.
The thread that weaves through the story is the meaning of flowers. The visuals of beauty created In the readers mind as bouquets are bound together helps to soften the harshness and provides the thread of hope. Being surrounded by such beauty has to lead to a good ending...... Or does it? Read it for yourself to find out. You won't be disappointed....more
Astonish Me was rated a top pick of book club books in the January Book Page publication. It was astonishingly disappointing. I really was excited toAstonish Me was rated a top pick of book club books in the January Book Page publication. It was astonishingly disappointing. I really was excited to buy this book as I have a grand-daughter who spent many years in a demanding ballet school. My object was to read it and then pass it on to her. The author seems to have some knowledge of the demands of dance. Of the main character Joan, Shipstead says, she has "the grace that had been drilled into her until she was physically unable to be awkward". This is a good description of the dancers I would see at the studio. She also captures the aspect of dance, that like any demanding athletic discipline, requires a singular focus to the exclusion of many other aspects and relationships in life. The book had all the ingredients to make a captivating story but somehow, for me, missed the mark. The characters were superficial and self focused and I skipped much of the book simply to find out how it ends....more
The Boston Girl is a pleasant recounting of american history by way of the recollections of an 85 year old grandmother to her grand-daughter. The probThe Boston Girl is a pleasant recounting of american history by way of the recollections of an 85 year old grandmother to her grand-daughter. The problem for me is its pleasantness. None of the rich complexity of The Red Tent is apparent in this novel. It seems like a superficial gloss-over. Ms. Diamant touches on all the important events occurring in the 20th century but everything lacks Impact. I was hoping for much more. ...more
The Miniaturist is an incredible debut novel. Jessie Burton has written a story set during the Dutch Golden Age and describes well the wealth of the NThe Miniaturist is an incredible debut novel. Jessie Burton has written a story set during the Dutch Golden Age and describes well the wealth of the Netherlands that exists in stark contrast to the repressive religious morality of Protestant Calvinism. She has fashioned her intriguing tale around Petronella Oortman's 'cabinet house' which is displayed in The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. These houses were not the children's toys of today but were projects for wealthy ladies of the time. According to one account, this house is one of only 3 which survive intact.
Young Petronella has been married off to an older, wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. Johannes travels a great deal and 'Nella' is left alone with his austere sister, 'Marin and servants Cornelia and Otto. Nella soon discovers a house and family filled with secrets and mysterious happenings. The complexity of the relationships and the mystery surrounding the family creates an intense story that is hard to put down. Burton has done a masterful job of creating a compelling fictional account based on real people and the cabinet house...more
Ruth Reichl's first foray into fiction was an enjoyable read filled with interesting characters. Billie Breslin gets a job at the magazine, 'DeliciousRuth Reichl's first foray into fiction was an enjoyable read filled with interesting characters. Billie Breslin gets a job at the magazine, 'Delicious', only to lose it unceremoniously when the owners decide to cease publication. As the characters work through their anger and pain, trying to figure out what to do next, Billie is kept on as the lone representative to answers questions and field phone calls. One day while at work she discovers the mansion which housed the now defunct magazine, has a locked library on the top floor. I could not help but wonder if the sadness, pain and shock depicted In the story paralleled the reactions of Ms. Reichl and her co-workers when Gourmet magazine was abruptly dropped from publication.
The bulk of the novel centers around a series of letters that Billie and her friend and former co-worker, Sammy, discover. While I enjoyed reading about all the wonderful people who inhabit Billie Breslin's life, I felt the story was a bit too long and had too many story lines thereby hindering a more thorough development of the characters. But Ms. Reichl has followed the maxim: "write what you know", and she knows magazine publishing and food so it was a good first venture into fiction and I hope it won't be her last.
Daniel Friedman's novel, Don't Ever Get Old, is quirky, funny, insightful and an enjoyable read. It's about curmudgeonly 87 year old retired homicideDaniel Friedman's novel, Don't Ever Get Old, is quirky, funny, insightful and an enjoyable read. It's about curmudgeonly 87 year old retired homicide cop who is having a hard time coming to grips with his 'forgetfulness' and his physical limitations. In the midst of the sometimes 'out loud' laughs the novel evokes, there is a mystery which keeps the reader guessing until almost the end. The gruesomeness of the killer's methods are a bit shocking but the character of Buck Schatz doesn't allow the reader to stay long with the gory details. And although nothing about Buck could ever be described as 'poignant', it is actually the feeling that comes through as Mr. Friedman so aptly describes the process of aging. The good news is that this is the beginning of a series...and we can only hope Buck Schatz stays around for awhile longer....more
I thoroughly enjoyed this English mystery set in the early 1800's. Major Robert Kurland has returned from the Battle of Waterloo injured and unable toI thoroughly enjoyed this English mystery set in the early 1800's. Major Robert Kurland has returned from the Battle of Waterloo injured and unable to walk. He is attended to by his neighbor Lucy Harrinton, the daughter of the local rector. This charming mystery centers around their relationship, the social customs of the day and the mystery to be solved. I look forward to the second novel InThis delightful new series....more
What a wonderful read! Although I'm sad to say good bye to Sarah and Matthew, "the book of life" was a fitting conclusion to their story. Ms. HarknessWhat a wonderful read! Although I'm sad to say good bye to Sarah and Matthew, "the book of life" was a fitting conclusion to their story. Ms. Harkness has written a full, rich tale complete with love, intrigue and warfare. As the story's end was drawing near, I found myself driven to keep reading in an almost breathless attempt to know how it would all end. The only sadness for me was not knowing a completion to Gallowglass's life. But perhaps he will be the subject for another novel in the lives of the Bishop-Clermont scion. I can only hope!...more
I came across this book when I finished reading 'Angelina's Bachelors' on my reader and they suggested similar books to read. The title intrigued me sI came across this book when I finished reading 'Angelina's Bachelors' on my reader and they suggested similar books to read. The title intrigued me so I bought it because the synopsis sounded interesting. It was an interesting book and had more of a faith grappling focus than I anticipated but I was drawn to the characters and the way each was trying to find their way through their various trials. This is not a 'Christian fiction' book as some reviewers have suggested. I would say its more about 'spiritual' seeking people who are struggling with the complexities of their lives and finding various spiritual solutions.
While not 'the greatest novel ever written', for me this book fulfilled its purpose. with the current world and our country situations, I need something less draining and though this is not a simplistic novel, it doesn't ask too much of the reader. It asks you to care about the characters and their lives. It's asks the reader to keep coming back to find out what happen next and it's focus is more positive. I enjoyed it....more
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is a beautifully written, magical novel. It would seem to be a strange description when one has read the synopsis of theThe Art of Hearing Heartbeats is a beautifully written, magical novel. It would seem to be a strange description when one has read the synopsis of the book but I think those who have read the story will agree.
Tin Win and Mi Mi are unforgettable characters of grace and depth as they forge lives in very challenging circumstances. Sendker brings the reader along slowly, developing a story that teaches about love, perseverance, and acceptance. It captivated me from the very first sentence to its ending....more
This debut novel by Hannah Kent is a beautifully written, well researched novel about the last execution held in Iceland. The facts are given flesh asThis debut novel by Hannah Kent is a beautifully written, well researched novel about the last execution held in Iceland. The facts are given flesh as Hannah weaves the documented information with the story of Agnes Magnusdottir who was convicted, along with Fridrik Sigurdsson, of the murders of two men. The oppressiveness of the stark land and harsh weather of Iceland is the perfect compliment to this sad, bleak story.
'Burial Rites' is reminiscent of Geraldine Brooks novel 'Year of Wonder'. The oppressive gloom that exists for the poor, especially women, in these earlier time periods and settings is found in both novels. There is even a similarity in the direct clear writing style.
There were periods of slowness in Burial Rites that, as a reader, evoked feelings of claustrophobia, a need for immediate escape. It must have seemed so for Agnes as the days passed leading up to her execution. Ms. Kent accomplished an admiral task of letting us know Agnes and evoking sympathy for while at the same time keeping us aloof.
It was an incredible debut and I look forward to reading another novel by Hannah Kent....more
The review for this book was one of the most difficult I have ever written because I could not form a definitive option of the story. How could I be aThe review for this book was one of the most difficult I have ever written because I could not form a definitive option of the story. How could I be ambivalent about a woman who: 1. Was dying. 2. Was courageous and graceful throughout her illness. 3. Accomplished so much for so many less fortunate.
But I was......
Is it a book worth reading? Yes. Will Schwalbe has written about the 2 year period from his mother's diagnosis of pancreatic cancer until her death two years later. His part of the caregiving responsibilities was to accompany his mother to her doctor's visits and her chemotherapy treatments. Because of the time spent In waiting areas and their shared love of reading, the book club for two came to be. Will and his mother read and discussed an eclectic selection of an incredible number of books, which he has included in the appendix of his book.
Though this is a story primarily about Mary Anne Schwalbe, terminal illness is a family affair and all the family is represented here although almost incidentally. There seems to be a relational distance that filters throughout the pages of this book.
For all of my personal uncertainty about the book, I recommend it. It is a book worth reading and made me think about many things such as 'dying and how to do it well', family relationships, how important it is to keep one's mind engaged....no matter what is happening and last but not least, it added to my 'want to read' list...more
Off Balance, the memoir by Dominique Moceanu is a memoir of perseverance and hope in the face of incredible adversity. Those of us who watched DominiqOff Balance, the memoir by Dominique Moceanu is a memoir of perseverance and hope in the face of incredible adversity. Those of us who watched Dominique win gold in the 1996 Olympics had no idea of what this petite was dealing with behind the scenes.
Throughout all her many and varied challenges and adversity, she maintained a core of hope but the book was a draining experience to read. While she periodically succumbed to demons of drugs, alcohol and eating disorder, she ultimately climbed out of the mire and regained her footing. The long road to victory began with her legal 'emancipation' from her parents, specifically her father but her willingness to forgive again and again is a testament to her basic good spirit.
It is a book that perhaps parents should read when considering placing a child into the maelstrom of competitive sports...more