One Summer America, 1927is clearly not a walk in the woods but a lazy stroll down memory lane. You may not know everyone who has a role in these pages...moreOne Summer America, 1927is clearly not a walk in the woods but a lazy stroll down memory lane. You may not know everyone who has a role in these pages but you're bound to be familiar with at least a few. Lindbergh, Hoover, Coolidge, Sacco and Vanzetti, Babe Ruth, and Sikorsky. Bryson gives us a tease on some and more detail on others. Unfortunately he jumps all over the place in these histories even though all his characters have something to do with that one summer. It's a a bit confusing and makes for jerky reading.
I had to wonder how and why Bryson chose this particular summer to write about. I don't think he randomly selected 1927 as Douglas Brinkley (Washington Post) writes in his scathing review . He likens Bryson's to birthday cards from the year you were born, a token of the times.
Our book group wouldn't go so far as to be negative and all thought they learned something and will use One Summer America, 1927 as a stepping stone for some research on whatever figure captured their attention. Mine would be Calvin Coolidge as most of the others were more than I need or want to know.
Perhaps I'm used to the Bill Bryson of the Thunderbolt Kid A Walk in the Woods. Something just seemed off here. I particularly missed his laugh out loud humor and blend of fact with a good story. I did enjoy the prologue but wasn't quite certain how it fit. I finally decided to listen to In a Sunburned Country(less)
Hats off to Sclazi for taking creative approach to the subject of lock in syndrome. Having read both non-fiction and fiction regarding this medical co...moreHats off to Sclazi for taking creative approach to the subject of lock in syndrome. Having read both non-fiction and fiction regarding this medical condition I was fascinated by Scalzi's treatment of it. He creates future world where a virus creates a medical crisis that leaves many of its victims being locked in and uses technology to bring his thriller to a new level.
I'm really not the best person to describe this SF read but am glad I read it. I have seen many fine reviews and accolades for this title. It has series written all over it and has been picked up for a possible film. (less)
You might call Me Before You a romance, but it doesn't strictly fit the definition of that genre term. Perhaps, a love story or more correctly the sto...moreYou might call Me Before You a romance, but it doesn't strictly fit the definition of that genre term. Perhaps, a love story or more correctly the story of a relationship. Louisa Clark finds herself in need of a job when the Buttered Bun where she was employed closes unexpectedly. Louisa's family, including her mom, dad, grandfather, sister and nephew depend on her wages as jobs are scarce and no one else is employed at the time. So what's Louisa to do? When it's stated that her old boss Frank will give her a good reference she replies
"Oh, fecking marvelous...'Louisa Clark is very good at buttering toast, and a dab hand at the old teapot."
This statement alone gives a clue to locale and also a peek at the quick wit that makes up Clark's personality.
After some hiccups in job hunting Louisa takes a six month temporary position as caretaker/companion to Will Traynor, a wealthy young man confined to a wheelchair, a quadriplegic. The day Will was hit by a motorcycle became the end of his life as he saw it. Louisa's and Will's relationship isn't off to a good start as Louisa doesn't know what to make of Will's dark moods and finds her role a bit more than she bargained for.
I loved Me Before You and found it very realistic. When I finished it I had to know if Jo Jo Moyes worked with or knew a quadriplegic. I found my answer in a GR interview where she states:
"Not quadriplegics. The thing that really informed it was a member of my family who suffers from a progressive disease. I have been involved in feeding her, taking her out, and that kind of thing. Part of what inspired Me Before You was just questions I had in my head about quality of life. At what point does the quality become meaningless? At what point do you give someone the right to decide for themselves?"
I'll leave my synopsis at that as I dislike giving away too much of a story. I have added additional thoughts and life experiences in a comment on this review. I'm certain these enhanced my enjoyment of Me Before You but may hold little interest for the general readers of GR reviews.(less)
I don't know why it bothers me so that I thought this book was just ok. So many of my GR friends have embraced this Station Eleven and have shouted it...moreI don't know why it bothers me so that I thought this book was just ok. So many of my GR friends have embraced this Station Eleven and have shouted its praises from the rooftop. I struggled through the first 80 pages, didn't want to throw it under the couch, but wasn't finding myself engaged. Perhaps I should have quit while I was ahead but stubborn that I am, I carried on. It never really got better for me but I did finish. At least I won't feel left out.
Shakespeare is dead and I prefer him to remain so. That could have been part of my problem. The only character I really liked was Miranda. I love stories about pandemics but was surprised that I wasn't cheering for these characters to survive. The Traveling Symphony was a unique tool but never captured my fancy.
I certainly can't fault the writing. Creative? Perhaps. I have been as positive as I can be in regards to my feelings about Station Eleven.
How can We Are Not Ourselves be a debut novel? If you had the opportunity to hear Matthew Thomas explain it, it would make sense. Ten years, yes ten y...moreHow can We Are Not Ourselves be a debut novel? If you had the opportunity to hear Matthew Thomas explain it, it would make sense. Ten years, yes ten years of hard work, tweaking and self- editing before he even tried to sell his manuscript. Ten years. Thomas' diligence paid off in a bidding war for his novel and with glowing early reviews from professionals and readers alike.
It was enlightening to hear Matthew Thomas speak at R.J. Julia's in Madison, CT this past Monday evening. It also makes my thoughts on We Are Not Ourselves harder to express. Not only did I really like We Are Not Ourselves but I liked Matthew also. These two things combined make we want to get this right but unlike Matthew I don't have ten years.
Simply stated We Are Not Ourselves is an impelling saga of a multigenerational Irish family and their life in New York. Would this description alone make you want to read this? We Are Not Ourselves has beautiful language, a well-constructed plot, is atmospheric and has characters with great depth. What makes this one stand out in a crowd of good books and worth your time to commit its 600+ pages? For this reader it was the feelings it evoked. It is like watching ordinary people with ordinary dreams and passions, a window to their soul or self.
Eileen Tumulty, daughter, wife, mother is at the center and the driving force of much of the novel. The author's thoughts on naming her were quite interesting but I leave you to your own conclusions. We meet Eileen as a young girl and it is here, like most of us, that her self is formed. She is the daughter of an alcoholic mother and a father who is like the mayor of the local pub. Early on Eileen becomes fixed in her caretaker role. These things should make Eileen a strong woman with the power to be whatever she wishes yet somehow she becomes a shadow of what?, circumstance?, choices?, leading to her own undoing. She wants, she yearns, she strives, and the quest is always just a bit beyond her reach. She is a sad rendering of a smart woman and it is hard for me to like her. Ed Leary, her husband became my focus. A man who is content to just be. A college professor who truly believes motivating and teaching his students is far more important than position or money. A man with a brilliant mind that is slowly falling apart. Clues are given, the thought of Alzheimer's is there but it is kick in the gut when it is confirmed. Connell, the offspring, their son. The relationship between Connell and his parents bears close attention. The father/son affinity is powerful and doubly sad in consideration of Ed's disease. Watching this sensitive boy dropped in the middle of this nest was painful.
In the end I haven't disclosed much.We Are Not Ourselves is a book that needs to be digested in its own way by each reader. I do feel it is worth your time. Read a few reviews. Consider the subject matter. Enjoy. (less)
Big Little Lies is a story with lots of angles. I loved it and I think you will also.
We know right from the start that someone has died at the annual...moreBig Little Lies is a story with lots of angles. I loved it and I think you will also.
We know right from the start that someone has died at the annual Pirriwee Public School Trivia Night. Who? Well, you'll have to read Big Little Lies to find out. It' all began at the kindergarten school orientation. Jane the new Mum hasn't got a chance with the rank and file as before orientation is over her son Ziggy is accused of hitting a quiet little girl. Amabella just happens to be the daughter of one of the most outspoken and nasty Mums you'd ever want to meet. What transpires will remind you why parents should stay out of their children's quarrels, allowing them to choose their own friends. Pirriwee Public would be funny if it didn't ring true. But that's not all folks. There is much more going on in this lovely seaside community. Secrets run amok and I didn't have a clue. Big Little Lies is funny, heartbreaking and quite plausible. (less)
If I could buy stock in books The Walt Longmire Series by Craig Johnson would be one of my top picks. The series is just that good. When I try to expl...moreIf I could buy stock in books The Walt Longmire Series by Craig Johnson would be one of my top picks. The series is just that good. When I try to explain its appeal to me I stumble a bit but always say I love the characters and their development, how I can see Absaroka County, Wyoming due to Johnson's expertise, enjoy the sprinkling of Cheyenne and Indian lore and find fun in the humor.
Another Man's Moccasins enjoyment is not so much the story as it is the structure. I liked the way this mystery of two murders, one in present day of a Vietnamese girl, the other which takes Walt flashing back to his first murder investigation while a Marine in Vietnam is presented in alternating segments. Separated by over forty years these two narrations bring us new insight to the makeup of this sheriff. The inclusion of Virgil White Buffalo, a bigger than life homeless Crow Indian just increased my pleasure of this the fourth in the series.
A bit of a mystery but more a psychological study of Mia, the good girl. The story is told in multi-characther point of view using befoяe and afteя fo...moreA bit of a mystery but more a psychological study of Mia, the good girl. The story is told in multi-characther point of view using befoяe and afteя for a non-linear presentation. The author is leaving the use of the backwards r up to you. I'll have to think about that a bit more.
The Good Giяl is an interesting debut. It is a story of familial strife, sibling rivalry, independence, self discovery and at its heart a love story. In the beginning we realize Mia, a twenty-something art teacher living away from home has gone missing and her mother Eve is beside herself with worry. Mia is really not the good daughter. She is the one who pushed her father James' buttons by refusing to follow in his footsteps by seeking a law degree. She has been a bit of a wild child, experimenting with drugs, getting in minor trouble, all things James, a high ranking Chicago judge, has been able to fix. But he can't fix the disappearance of his daughter after realizing she truly is missing and not just off on some lark. Very soon we realize that Mia is the pawn in a kidnapping for ransom. The kidnapper hires a second party to make the snatch and the story spins from here. Who, why, what? All the characters are detailed and well done if not always believable.
I liked it, I really liked it and then...can't tell you anymore as you'll have to draw your own conclusions.
A solid debut by an author I'd like to hear from again.(less)
My initial interest in Gabriel Weston's debut fiction was prompted by an article I read about her memoir I liked that she pushed the envelope and will...moreMy initial interest in Gabriel Weston's debut fiction was prompted by an article I read about her memoir I liked that she pushed the envelope and will admit that surgeons are not infallible. They are human, they make mistakes. I know that Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story., a collection of twelves stories about her work in surgery, this still predominant male world and the patients she treats, will be read by me one day. In the meantime I picked up her debut novel Dirty Work to see what she's got.
Dirty Work is the story of Dr. Nancy Mullion, an obstetrician gynecology surgeon.
Nancy's specialty is abortion. She practically does these in her sleep until one day when something horrible goes wrong. The patient on her table is bleeding out and rather than being able to stop it, Nancy freezes, necessitating an emergency call to Nancy's supervisor who must take over in an effort to save the patient. Nancy is brought up before a review board. This method is used to give us the past, the present and possibly the future of who Nancy is.
Early on Nancy explains to us that surgeons pick an organ to look after.
"We gynecologists have the womb to look after. ... And whichever specialty we choose, each of us has to do something ruthless to keep our patient safe: We have to forget about the human significance of the organ we're operating on."
In a flashback she describes when she became herself:
There is a point in each of our lives when it seems that the real story begins, when we become the self that all our ensuing life somehow trails out from This may just be the time, around three or four, when memory begins. But my birth, in this sense, occurred during one flowing American fall. This is when I became myself. The girl before this time is a shadow like a soul who is practicing how not to become. She is the background, the hole in the fabric fro which the real shape is cut"
This is not an easy read as Weston explores the emotionally charged subject of abortion. Imagine what it would be like to be the outcast, the one who does the dirty job of terminating pregnancies? Her protagonist is low on the totem pole in the rank of surgeons. She lives without support from her peers, a solitary, sad, lonely role.
Fair warning, Dirty Work has scenes describing abortion that may be offensive to some. It certainly made me think, took me back to my own pregnancies, miscarriages and time training as an LPN. It has the makings of a good book discussion if participants can respect the view point of others.(less)
I'm becoming a huge fan of the Walt Longmire Mystery Series. The mysteries are entertaining, not horribly violent, have lots of action and are darn ri...moreI'm becoming a huge fan of the Walt Longmire Mystery Series. The mysteries are entertaining, not horribly violent, have lots of action and are darn right fun. What is bound to keep me coming back is the strong characterization.
Walt Longmire has been Sheriff of Wyoming's Absaroka County for almost twenty-five years and has seen his share of the good and the bad. This provides lots of fodder for a complex man, one I am getting to know as the series progresses. Vic, his tough cop deputy and his long time friend Henry Standing Bear play solid roles once again. Walt accompanies Henry on a road trip to Philadelphia. Dog, yes that's his dog's name goes along for the ride, a canine presence to become fond of. Walt is looking forward to visiting with his lawyer daughter Cady, but can't say the same for meeting her boyfriend, too serious a relationship in Walt's opinion. Before Walt can say hi, Cady is seriously injured in a fall down some stairs leaving her unconscious and hospitalized. The boyfriend is suspected of pushing her and the chase is on.
Having watched the TV series before reading the books, I have been curious about Walt's relationship with Vic, even questioning the route it's going on TV. No question here as the sexual tension boils over when Vic arrives from Wyoming to see how Walt's doing. It's interesting to see Walt's reaction to Vic's advances. He's not saying no but he's been celibate for a long time, feels awkward and is not certain how to act. Vic claims its just sex but it is not that easy for Walt.
Somehow Craig Johnson is able to include his ongoing western themes of Cowboys, Indians, horses and Henry's Cheyenne spirituality in the City of Brotherly Love and makes it work. Can't wait to see what happens in book four.(less)