This book is compelling and powerfully written; however, I had to force myself to finish reading it and could only take it in small bits at a time.
ToThis book is compelling and powerfully written; however, I had to force myself to finish reading it and could only take it in small bits at a time.
To say this is depressing is a huge understatement. The author details the depth of severe poverty in a massive slum behind a wall by Mumbai’s airport. Compounding their harsh existence is corruption in every facet of life from politicians, police, & court systems to fellow residents demanding bribes. For many, their means of eking out a living, is scavenging, sorting and selling recyclable trash. Constant beatings are the norm from officials or locals for infringing on another’s turf or inflicted on females from relatives over minor infractions. Some light themselves on fire while others consume rat poison as an exit from their hopeless existence. Others are murdered and there is a story of an injured man left to die on the side of a highway as throughout the day, for one reason or another, people fear to intervene. Rather than bother with investigating crimes, deaths are attributed to disease.
I only finished reading this because my book club chose it for discussion.
Update: Six months later, upon further reflection, this book leads me to a deeper evaluation.
Political maneuvering, corruption fueled by self -interest, clawing to rise one more level, envious neighbors stirring up turmoil, and despair over family or society’s expectations at odds with the individual’s aspirations : these are not just words describing a late night soap opera about the super wealthy. Despite being at opposite ends of the world’s economic strata, these phrases also apply to the real people in the most squalid conditions in this book. After reading of their lives, one is torn between wanting to throw money to alleviate the suffering of the poorest of the poor and the realization that human nature diverts the best of intentions of some into unintended pockets. There are no easy answers. This doesn’t mean no efforts should be made; only that it should be done with eyes wide open....more
Ever watch a movie you find tons of faults with yet watch to the end because there was enough interesting plot you want to find out what happens? ThatEver watch a movie you find tons of faults with yet watch to the end because there was enough interesting plot you want to find out what happens? That’s the way I feel about this series.
This is the second of a three book series which initially I didn’t know was geared for YA. As in the first book, The Mind Readers, the author uses the same trite phrases so often you want to scream “Get a thesaurus would you please!”( He raked his hands through his hair. My heart was about to slam through my chest.) and so on. Not only were they repeated again and again, but throughout the novel huge portions from the first book were copied in this one as situations prompted memories in the main character. I understand why, however a few sentences here and there would have sufficed instead of entire pages directly from book one in each instance.
There was enough interesting plot I wanted to finish this book. Again, as in book one, it ends with a “cliffhanger” sort of surprise to entice the reader into getting the next book. Had the author used an even somewhat adequate editor, the 3 book series could have been condensed into perhaps a single good book. I want to find out what happened but not sure I want to put up with so much repetition again. ...more
Initially I was not aware it was a YA novel when I downloaded this to read free to my Kindle. As I read, I discovered elements that indicated that wasInitially I was not aware it was a YA novel when I downloaded this to read free to my Kindle. As I read, I discovered elements that indicated that was the case. Even so, I found this to be an enjoyable read.
I needed to overlook some writing elements that could have used some improvement. Trite and constant repetitive usage of phrases like “raking hands through hair” & “I never felt this way before” coupled with multiple examples of reminding the readers of certain facts (like Aaron was rich) made me wonder if the author had used a qualified editor.
To a certain extent the author’s plot reminded me of the conflict between mind readers and a controlling authority group in the television series Babylon 5. Unlike that show, this novel focused mainly on an almost 18 year old who'd spent the majority of her life moving from place to place in an effort to hide her ability. When a stranger offers the promise of acceptance with others having the same talent she becomes hopeful of a secure happy future trying to develop her skills. Motto: Be careful what you wish for.
You’d might think from these comments I’d have a negative view of the book. Despite the shortcomings, I found myself gobbling up the novel to read it as quickly as I could. The plot was intriguing. Call it a guilty pleasure. I intend to pay for the download for the second book in the series.
Update: In the next book, as the main character recalled events, entire sections from this book were cut and pasted into it. This happened frequently and felt like a lazy effort in writing. The second book ends mid- story forcing you to purchase the next in the series if yoou want to know what happens to the characters. I felt manipulated and chose not to. I do not recommend the series. ...more
This was a quick, easy read and entertaining. Yet, somehow the plot seemed a bit far-fetched to me. I had trouble believing the friends would agree soThis was a quick, easy read and entertaining. Yet, somehow the plot seemed a bit far-fetched to me. I had trouble believing the friends would agree so easily to participate in the scheme. Sometimes I'd ask myself why character “x” doesn’t just do "y".
I guess if I'm honest with myself, A great many action/adventure stories stretch believability and this was engaging enough that I finished the book with the feeling that it was entertaining. ...more
This novel is a brief, enjoyable reading experience. The main characters remain nameless as they appear to be representative of people in similar circThis novel is a brief, enjoyable reading experience. The main characters remain nameless as they appear to be representative of people in similar circumstances. The housekeeper unexpectedly finds herself in the role of caretaker for a former math professor with short term memory that lasts only in 80 minute intervals. Despite his disability, the professor shines as he shares his love of intricate math concepts with the housekeeper and her young son; inspiring them both to love and respect him.
At times I did find the focus on the math concepts to be in greater detail than I was interested in and wound up skimming through portions. Also, I was left wanting a more complete explanation as to the sparsely delineated reasons for the sister-in-law’ passively antagonistic behavior. It is implied but with almost no detail. The reader is also left to guess as to why the professor is obsessive over safety issues regarding the child.
Ultimately though, the recognition of the worthwhile attributes of the person with the disability by the caretaker and her son, made up for what I perceived as shortcomings in the tale. ...more
What is most remarkable about this book is the author and her tremendously positive outlook on life. She is one of only three people in the world knowWhat is most remarkable about this book is the author and her tremendously positive outlook on life. She is one of only three people in the world known to have the disorder she has which makes it impossible for her body to create muscle or store fat. Frankly, I doubt many people would have the courage and grace to thrive after finding a you-tube video about themselves called “The World’s Ugliest Woman”.
Much of this book is VERY religious in nature and/or aimed at college or high school student individuals as a motivational workbook to help people learn to love themselves and find purpose for their lives. Even so, tucked throughout are nuggets of wisdom far beyond the age of the author who is in her early twenties. It was worth skimming over portions I was not as interested in to read her motivational suggestions as to how others can be as positive about life as she is. ...more
Set in India, this novel’s primary focus is on an elderly man who’s nearing the end of his days and how his step children and his daughter and her fa Set in India, this novel’s primary focus is on an elderly man who’s nearing the end of his days and how his step children and his daughter and her family deal with their relationships with him and each other.
The process of dying, the eventual outcome and its aftermath bring out the very best and the very worst in families. It happens all the time and this novel illustrated so many of the aspects which are played out in family after family. Commonly, some resort to bickering, revulsion over vital caretaking tasks, concern over finances, which family member is in control of decisions, jealousy over past injustices of who got more love, attention or money and scheming to improve one’s own lot. Fortunately there are also usually those who selflessly bring themselves to near breaking points in order to do as much as possible for the betterment of the one who is dying. Realization of the impending finality opens the hearts of some and their relationship blossoms to a life altering outcome.
Amidst these universal themes, the author also revealed to readers unfamiliar with India’s culture glimpses into what life may be like for some. I felt tackling all these complexities was addressed remarkably well within a work of fiction. ...more
Told from the point of view of the eldest of four children, this novel depicts ever increasing perilous situations that a megalomaniac subjects his faTold from the point of view of the eldest of four children, this novel depicts ever increasing perilous situations that a megalomaniac subjects his family to when his disillusionment with society (in particular the U.S.) causes him to abandon civilization for primitive life in the jungles of Honduras. His ranting and ravings even convince his family for a time that there is no society left to return to and their only hope for survival is dependence on him. He claims to disdain all society has to offer yet attempts to improve on nature with his inventions....more
If you enjoy reading good books my guess is you’ll be very disappointed with this one. First let me say my opinion is not based on being offended. I eIf you enjoy reading good books my guess is you’ll be very disappointed with this one. First let me say my opinion is not based on being offended. I enjoy sex as much as the next person and feel a sex scene that compliments a plot line is appropriate. In this novel however, sex scenes and preoccupation with it is the main focus with a little bit of plot (if you can call it that) sprinkled in.
Like so many others I was curious about all the hype surrounding this book. Let me be totally honest here. I did not finish the book. I read about 30% and I was still wondering about the hype so I pressed on to complete 41% (Kindle version). Finally I decided I’d wasted enough of my time.
In general I thought the writing was subpar and I found the characters to be unlikeable. Anastasia Steele is a college student about to graduate so you’d think she’d be intelligent. That was not my view of this woman. Repeatedly the writing used to describe her thoughts uses the words ”wow” and “hot”. I thought I was stuck in Paris Hilton’s head. She fills in for her roommate to conduct a pitiful interview for college newspaper with the fabulously wealthy, Christian Grey. He’s extremely good looking and rather sullen yet somehow after this one encounter becomes obsessed with wanting to make her his sex slave in a dominant/ submissive relationship and she enjoys sex with him so much she considers accepting terms of a formal contract for this relationship.
The plot of a third rate porn movie is more believable. The description of sex scenes is vivid but without any lyricism. If sex is all you want then by all means rent one of them; you’ll save yourself a lot of time and have the visual to boot. ...more
This beautifully written novel is like reading several stories at once. The main character is an elderly woman, emigrated from Russia, who is descendiThis beautifully written novel is like reading several stories at once. The main character is an elderly woman, emigrated from Russia, who is descending into the bowels of Alzheimer’s. The setting of the first storyline is a weekend trip to attend her granddaughter’s wedding. Alternating with this narrative is her experience as a young woman who was one of the workers entrusted with packing treasures of the Hermitage Museum’s to be sent off for safekeeping away from potential destruction during world war two. She endures the harshness of brutal winter, starvation and death all around her in part by wandering the empty museum’s halls and creating a mental inventory of the removed works of art in their original locations. Woven throughout this tale are evocative descriptions of priceless paintings and in particular the many renderings of Madonnas in the Hermitage collection....more
A difficult to describe yet thoroughly entertaining novel.
To appease the fanatically demanding Lady Schrapnell in charge of Coventry Cathedral’s restoA difficult to describe yet thoroughly entertaining novel.
To appease the fanatically demanding Lady Schrapnell in charge of Coventry Cathedral’s restoration, time- traveling historians from the future are under pressure to find an obscure unattractive flower vase-“The Bishop’s Bird Stump” in time for the consecration ceremony. In the process, it appears one of them may have inadvertently caused an incident back in the Victorian era which needs to be rectified. Ned Henry is sent back to try and set things right. The problem is he’s missed important details of his proposed mission because he is suffering from “time lag”.
Mostly this novel is a hysterical, historical comedy- but it also is a love story, a debate about the importance of the individual’s actions vs. fate or chance, a detective novel and, well it is so much more. A few times there were parts I felt were a bit tedious but overall I’d have to say I loved this book. ...more
As someone who has experienced escape from a burning building I could relate to the author’s simultaneous sense of detachment yet hyper awareness, thiAs someone who has experienced escape from a burning building I could relate to the author’s simultaneous sense of detachment yet hyper awareness, this can’t be happening to me, inexplicably time speeds up & slows down, and the sense of horror of what is being experienced. At times the writing in her book is riveting.
Short chapters are prefaced with scripture quotes and as the book progresses become longer and I found the frequent Christian testimony to be distracting. I understand many people find writing sprinkled with talk of faith to be uplifting but if you don’t share that view you may find yourself skimming quite a bit.
My heart goes out to the author and all those whose world crumbled around them while fleeing unimaginable horror in what should have been an ordinary workday. ...more
Funny, if I had not read this book was about John Clare’s descent into madness, I’d never have described the book that way myself.
To me it seemed theFunny, if I had not read this book was about John Clare’s descent into madness, I’d never have described the book that way myself.
To me it seemed the stories of Hannah, Tennyson and 3 of his patients Margaret, Mr. Seymore, and John Clare, were various side stories woven into and in support of the main tale. If I had to describe the focal point of the novel I’d say it was primarily about Matthew Allen who in part due to rebelling against religious inspired austerity lived beyond his means which prompted his get rich quick scheme which in turn led to his financial ruin. He seemed convinced he was destined to be more than what he had struggled to become- a respected doctor within his small environment.
The book almost felt as though it was a meshing of several short stories rather than one complete novel. I started out liking this novel but none of the stories felt complete to me....more
A month long escape from unhappy everyday life is transformative for four women strangers. Amid the beauty of a medieval Italian castle and its gardenA month long escape from unhappy everyday life is transformative for four women strangers. Amid the beauty of a medieval Italian castle and its gardens, they are rejuvenated, their outlook on life evolves, spousal relationships improve and the friendship amongst themselves is cultivated.
Note: The free Kindle version has many typos but the meaning can be easily infered from the rest of the text....more
In my heart of hearts I like cheerful stories with happy endings. This book definitely doesn’t fall into that category at all yet it haunts me with itIn my heart of hearts I like cheerful stories with happy endings. This book definitely doesn’t fall into that category at all yet it haunts me with its beauty.
Perhaps the Story of Lucy Gault seems even more poignant to me because I also watched the movie Five minutes of Heaven starring Liam Neeson during the time I was reading this book. Both tales relate the torturous aftermath in individual lives on both sides resulting from incidents in Ireland sparked by group hatred of the rival group. Shattered lives never became what they should have been. Instead guilt ridden self recriminations cripple each person’s future with an overwhelming longing the past could have been different. Ultimately each story finds some measure of peace but you can’t help but wonder how differently all their lives would have been if not for a hate motivated moment in time.
I doubt I’ll forget either of these stories. ...more
Mildred Pierce was in an abusive relationship -with her daughter. She overcame her own snobbery about certain classes of working in order to survive aMildred Pierce was in an abusive relationship -with her daughter. She overcame her own snobbery about certain classes of working in order to survive and then thrive monetarily. In an era where a divorced woman could be scandalous she had the audacity to throw her husband out. Yet she was unable to break her mother /child bond to a daughter who repeatedly displayed outright hostility and disdain for her.
Often in amazement people wonder how battered women can return to abusive husbands. In this case the connection was stronger than that of husband and wife. Here we have a mother and her daughter. After Ray’s death, Mildred reluctantly admitted to herself that at least it wasn’t Veda- scandalous to be sure for a mother to have greater feelings for one child over another. Perhaps parents can at least accept the fact that while we don’t love one child more than another, we love them differently according to their individual needs. Sometimes there might be the impression the more difficult child is loved more because they require greater attention. Mildred worked harder for Veda’s unrequited love so when appearance suggested slivers of reward she forgave injustices and ignored her daughter’s nature.
Each child is born with their own personality. Parenting can contribute to the outcome of raising that child but can’t take full responsibility or credit for the result. Veda was rotten and hateful. If Mildred had shown more discipline perhaps it might have had some impact. Still, I believe it was the girl’s scheming nature to walk all over anyone in her way and Mildred was drawn like a moth to light again and again. ...more
At first I wanted to give this a higher rating but the more thought about it I can only give 3 stars.
First the positives: Jodi Picoult’s writing styleAt first I wanted to give this a higher rating but the more thought about it I can only give 3 stars.
First the positives: Jodi Picoult’s writing style is very entertaining and each section clearly identifies as from the perspective of the young man with Asperger syndrome, his brother, his mother, the detective or his attorney. She did a very good job in my opinion of demonstrating how this disorder presents challenges to everyone involved and illuminated hallmarks of the condition realistically for the most part. Repeatedly the author shows the resulting confusion from phrases which most people without Asperger’s know are not meant to be taken literally. I enjoyed reading their interactions and could totally relate to the family member’s frustrations over needing to adhere to what some might consider bizarre routines.
The negatives: It is clear the author did a good deal of research. However, she chose three times in the novel (which was published in 3/2010) to point the blame at pharmaceutical companies and vaccines for causing autism spectrum disorders. While Wakefield’s study was not definitively revealed as a fraud until 1/2011, there were numerous scientific studies which refuted this assertion and none which could confirm it. (Although, in her defense, there are still some who refuse to believe the multiple factual studies and continue to cling to the one proven to have been a fraudulent one.)
I also found it hard to believe the main character who was so obsessed with crime scene investigation would intentionally tamper with evidence even if it was as he perceived to follow one of his “house rules”. From all the "Crimebusters" shows he watched and rewatched he would have known how serious an offense that was. Finally, I also found it incredible to believe no one including family members or law enforcement ever asked him directly “Did you kill her?” or “Why did you kill her?”. ...more
I had to force myself to keep reading this one. I’m sorry to say this was one of my least favorite books. The lack of separation into chapters or veryI had to force myself to keep reading this one. I’m sorry to say this was one of my least favorite books. The lack of separation into chapters or very clear breaks as the author continually jumped all over the place was frustrating. There were so many endless side tangents that had tangents running away from them as well. Often I had to question what the point behind them was. At times she revealed elements of living under the repressive authorities, but it took a long and jumpy ride to get there.
The last line of the novel is “The trick is not to go mad”. I guess the style of writing was to demonstrate how she had indeed gone mad from the fear of being summoned for questioning and what might happen as a result. Perhaps one of the first clues to that should have been apparent in the beginning when we read about her naming her green blouse: “the blouse that grows.”
Some of the writing did impress me though and perhaps that is why I continued to read. Overall though, I found most of the novel to be pointless. ...more