Not what I was expecting, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was structured differently than most romance books. The romantic conflict happened throughoutNot what I was expecting, but enjoyable nonetheless. It was structured differently than most romance books. The romantic conflict happened throughout the book, and the reconciliation didn't happen until the end with lots of dancing around the attraction of the two leads--would he leave to sail around the world? Would he marry her? Who did she write that letter to? I was expecting a more straight-up Beauty and the Beast tale (and also it also initially reminded me of Kathleen Woodiwiss's A Rose in Winter, just less dense), and while this was not that, it still kept my attention with two interesting leads--a reclusive scientist and a painter--that made it work. My biggest issue was that there was too much modern language/phrasing/characterization. And maybe that's wishful thinking on the author's part, to make the heroine a (successful) painting feminist, but it took me out of the story a bit. But overall I enjoyed it and think the author has promise.
...but I never need to hear the word "hoyden" again. I'm good, thanks....more
It's not difficult to read a lot of Nazi Germany books--many of them exist, even in the fiction world (which is almost exclusively what I read). And fIt's not difficult to read a lot of Nazi Germany books--many of them exist, even in the fiction world (which is almost exclusively what I read). And frankly, many of them are powerful because they explore both sides of the issue. But this has a dual narrative that I hadn't seen before, with a structure I hadn't read before, and it makes the book that much more powerful. Doerr's prose is beautiful and poetic, although I disagree with a Goodreads friend who said it didn't call attention to itself. I think it did--especially after 500 pages and I'm ready for the book to wrap up--but the writing was lovely. But at points I thought he got a little flowery, and again--a lot of length. The narrative structure to alternate between German boy Werner and French girl Marie-Laure (and sometimes the creepy bad guy) was pretty brilliant, because their experiences leading up to the war were so vastly different. And making Marie-Laure blind was brilliant, because it made the suspenseful scenes that much more horrifying. Can you imagine being blind and being worried about your safety? I can't even! I can't even imagine navigating her surroundings as well as she does. And I loved her response to someone calling her brave. Basically, she wasn't brave--it was just her only option if she wanted to live. Fantastic. Cutting back and forth to the present day between all the flashbacks leading up to that point was incredibly effective because of the numerous cliffhangers in that timeline--every time Doerr would go back to the past, I thought, "No! What's going to happen to Marie-Laure?!?" I thought both narratives were compelling (usually one character's story is more interesting than another, but not in this case) and I think the book is worth the hype, and that doesn't happen often--it's a very readable literary novel. 1 star off just for the length (I went through many late nights trying to finish it--like homework!) and the flowery prose--sometimes I felt Doerr was just sticking words in there to be all meaningful, but I didn't get the meaning. Besides that, brilliant!...more
3.5 stars. A very effective and well-told story intersecting the lives of two women: 10-year old Sarah, a Jewish girl rounded up in vel d'hiv in Paris3.5 stars. A very effective and well-told story intersecting the lives of two women: 10-year old Sarah, a Jewish girl rounded up in vel d'hiv in Paris, 1942 with her parents; and Julia, a modern day American woman living in France who has mysterious ties to Sarah. I knew nothing about the French involvement in the Holocaust, but trust--if this book is any indication, it was almost equally as horrifying as what happened in Germany. The way that some of the French not only turned their backs on the Jewish people but actively engaged in their destruction (French police, I'm looking at you), remains a fascinating horror even today. It reminds you of what people are capable of when fear and apathy mix.
Alternating chapters between Sarah's imprisonment and Julia's discoveries kept the pace going, and Sarah is a really intriguing figure--plucky, smart, determined, and tragic. The beginning part with her brother (the whole "key" part of the story) was fairly unbelievable, but it kept the narrative tension high. I liked Julia, didn't care for most of her French in-laws, and it didn't make me want to emigrate to Paris any time in the near future. I didn't really connect with Julia, but to me she was just the narrative means of getting the story told. The story was definitely eye-opening but at this time I think I've had my full of Holocaust novels...I'm good for a while, thanks!...more
Oh wow--that was absolutely incredible. I tried picking up this first book in the Game of Thrones (well, A Song of Fire and Ice) series, and it was juOh wow--that was absolutely incredible. I tried picking up this first book in the Game of Thrones (well, A Song of Fire and Ice) series, and it was just so heavy and dense and epic that I felt I just couldn't commit to it. But then I watched the HBO show "Game of Thrones" which was AMAZING, and after figuring out all the characters and the plot, I felt I could dig into the book (usually I do it the other way around). The show was the perfect intro to the book, and for book #2 I'd like to read it before the second season comes back on in March.
Anyway--holy crap. This is definitely a departure from my normal taste, but I just couldn't put it down! I read this in 3 versions and 4 delivery methods--print book, ebook, audiobook (I really liked that), ipad, iphone, you name it, I did it. And I loved it all! The audiobook allowed me to get through more of it when I was making breakfast or driving around town (and the British gentleman's voice was just perfect for the material) but when I had a minute I was pulling it up on my iphone and zipping through a chapter. It was just so engaging.
You'd think at 800 pages this would be a book that dragged, but not at all. It was amazingly easy to read, once you can tell the main characters apart (and there are many). It's described as fantasy, set in the Medieval Ages, but there are very few fantastic elements in it. It's mostly a terrific story about families, honor, craven a-holes, political intrigue, lots of beheadings, an awesome dwarf, some seriously scary sh*t going down north of THE WALL, and a host of other situations that were often relatable in today's world. The writing is so descriptive that I was immediately drawn in...you feel like you're THERE. And it's dirty. And bloody. And gross. Every chapter focuses on a different character, so the pace moves along marvelously. I was intrigued by all the parts--never did a chapter come when I thought "Oh, God--not THIS GUY again." Martin just ties all these stories together effortlessly. I absolutely loved it, can't wait to start the second book (but i need a breather!) and can't wait to see where Martin goes from here!...more
What an absolutely compelling book. There seem to be a lot of Holocaust novels on the market (and in fact I'm reading Sarah's Key right now for a diffWhat an absolutely compelling book. There seem to be a lot of Holocaust novels on the market (and in fact I'm reading Sarah's Key right now for a different book club), but rarely do you get the German citizen's perspective—how much culpability did they have during the rise of the Nazi regime? What else could they have done to prevent other atrocities from occurring? The book alternates between Anna's story, as a young German woman in pre-WWII Germany, and her professor daughter Trudy in 1997 Minnesota. What makes the story so compelling are two things: Anna's journey from a beautiful, fairly carefree woman in love with a Jewish man before the war starts to desperate aide to the Jewish cause, and what decision she will make to protect her family. The other fascinating aspect is the terribly flawed relationship between Anna and Trudy, and how many things have been left unsaid for 50 years, years filled with secrets and denials and shame. It’s continually fascinating how easily we judge other people for their choices when we never will be in their same shoes, ever. What decisions would WE make if we were put in the same position? It’s so easy to say we’d rise above the scum, but would we if it meant sacrificing our families, their safety, their honor? This book really delves into the shame people feel when faced with equally awful decisions they never could have imagined in times of chaos, and how we choose to respond to those situations. I found both women’s stories fascinating, and the ending resolved the storylines without making them seem pat or trite. A very satisfying yet challenging book. ...more
This...was an interesting and unique book. I admired it. I can't say that I really ENJOYED it, but I admired it enough to give it 3 (3.5) stars (4 staThis...was an interesting and unique book. I admired it. I can't say that I really ENJOYED it, but I admired it enough to give it 3 (3.5) stars (4 stars says I'd recommend it, and I'm not sure that I would, except to certain people).
I love Gabaldon's Outlander series, so when I saw this book in Park Road Books, our little Charlotte indie bookstore, I knew it wasn't related, but the title predisposed me to purchase it (at retail price! Unthinkable!) to read. When I finally started reading it, I loved the beginning of it--probably the first 1/4 to 1/3. Adamson has a poet's style, very evocative, and there's an interesting interview with her and Michael Ondaatje at the end, and having read The English Patient years ago, her style reminds me of his.
A 19-year old woman is on the run from her two brothers-in-law after having killed her husband, their brother. That's a great start to a story! Set it in early 1900's Canada and you've got a great setting too. And I really enjoyed the story/setting, but The Widow (as she's known almost throughout the book) never stayed in one place too long until she gets to a mining camp about halfway through, and I just felt restless to finish it. Parts of it meandered, and characters were introduced that I didn't think were necessary. That, and Adamson uses language that separated me from the characters, mostly Mary the Widow. We flash back through the Widow's story, and I empathized with her, but she was just such an odd duck that I couldn't really get a bead on her. The characters are vivid and unusual and there were many times I enjoyed reading them--but I felt the book could have used a stronger editing hand.
I have a strong feeling that the book will improve on memory for me, so take that into consideration. It's not written in a way that really speaks to me, but it's different and beautifully written. And sometimes that's enough to pick up a book, you know?...more
I've never read Sandra Brown, but I'm told this is a departure from her other suspense novels. In the forward she says that she wrote it between contrI've never read Sandra Brown, but I'm told this is a departure from her other suspense novels. In the forward she says that she wrote it between contracted novels as a labor of love, and you can tell. It's a sweet, non-formulaic story with some interesting characters in a unique setting (1930s Dustbowl) that sometimes zigs when i thought it would zag.
Ella, a severely organized, orderly teetotaler, runs a boardinghouse in Texas during the Great Depression. She has an as-yet-undiagnosed autistic son, and she's a bit of an oddity in this little town. One day Mr. Rainwater arrives, a "mysterious stranger" (although not as cliched as it sounds) to rent a room, and in the process shakes up her life and her world view. The book deals with poverty (rampant in an area that hasn't seen rain in years), racism, and feminism in interesting ways. I enjoyed the characters, and at 245 pages, Brown knew when to wrap things up. My biggest issue is the book's villain, who is mustache-twirling evil. It was like Hitler came in and took up residence in this Texas town. A little less "You're gonna regret that, missy!" histrionics, please, Ms. Brown. But the relationship between Rainwater, Ella and Ella's damaged son is very tender, and the story didn't end how I expected it to, and how often does that happen from a famous author like Brown? And I shed a tear or two, which can be a good thing if it's earned. And it was....more
This is embarrassing. I actively asked my friend to borrow this book from her after reading her glowing review 3 years ago...and then it took me thatThis is embarrassing. I actively asked my friend to borrow this book from her after reading her glowing review 3 years ago...and then it took me that long to actually read it. And only because another friend wanted to do a buddy read on it! Thank goodness she finally asked because A) I was able to read it and return it to its rightful owner, and B) I got to experience this book firsthand and it was fantastic!
Our public library doesn't have this and it's a dang shame because I was seriously thinking about choosing it for book club. The story starts out with a literal bang--in 1865 after Lincoln is assassinated, Martha Jane Cairnes shoots her former fiancee Nick Comas 5 times, killing him. Why? What could have led up to that? Then the book goes back to when they first meet, and you get to learn about the courting of Nick and Martha (from both their perspectives), and what unfortunate events led to Nick's untimely demise.
Martha and Nick were real people, loosely related to Cornelia Nixon, which makes this story that much more fascinating. And she has a beautiful knack for writing, writing her characters from multiple perspectives authentically. She illustrates a variety of themes without hammering the reader over the head: the upheaval felt after the Civil War, the strong beliefs of appropriate male/female roles in society (and why you should never violate those roles), former slave owners taking advantage of their slaves/freedmen/freedwomen, the enduring racism of the rebels, the repressed and feared sexuality of women, the pressure to conform for both men and women, postpartum depression--all handled with deft and grace. She covers a lot of ground, but it never dragged. I just wish I'd been able to read it without so many breaks, but other things got in the way.
A fascinating, beautifully told story that felt utterly unique. Well done, Ms. Nixon!...more
I'm abandoning this after 100 pages, which is almost half the book. I just couldn't get engaged with either the main character, Eilis, or Toibin's wriI'm abandoning this after 100 pages, which is almost half the book. I just couldn't get engaged with either the main character, Eilis, or Toibin's writing. It just seemed too simple without any emotional development of any of the characters (or maybe I just didn't read long enough). The fact that is was nominated for a Man Booker prize means little to me, except that I know from experience that any prize-nominated/winning book usually doesn't end in a way that satisfies me and I usually find them depressing. The bottom line is I wasn't psyched about reading it, and life's too short for that. I'm trying to read through the books I own (which is PLENTY), so if you're not grabbing me by page 100, sir, I'm gonna let you go. Fly, little book, fly! Someone else will appreciate you better than me, I promise you....more
Since season 2 of the Starz season came back on, and it's handling the back half of book 1, I went ahead and finished it up (I was hangUpdated 4/27/15
Since season 2 of the Starz season came back on, and it's handling the back half of book 1, I went ahead and finished it up (I was hanging out in Lallybroch with Jenny and her family when I abandoned it). Frankly I'd forgotten how powerful the book was and how intense it was after Lallybroch. And even 20 years later, I still remembered the very last scene of the book between Jamie and Claire--it stayed with me. What I admire most about Gabaldon's writing is just how real she makes Jamie and Claire, even with all their foibles, problems, and pride. And she doesn't make Jamie a victim, even after the horrible things Black Jack did to him--he talks about it, he communicates with Claire, and she just has him deal with it. She's no shrinking violet, and I love that about her (and Catriona Balfe captures that perfectly in the show). A LOT of plot happens in her attempt to rescue Jamie from Wentworth, and I'd forgotten how intense that whole section was. Damnation, it might have inspired me to re-read the 2nd book again. Damn you, Gabaldon! Definitely worth the re-read.
------------------------------------------------------------------------ This is also a book I need to finish but I'm struggling to do so, and I'm just ready to have a clean slate of "currently reading" books. I own the first 4 books in the Outlander series--I read them when I was in my early 20s and never really felt compelled to read on. I was happy with where it ended. With the show coming on Starz, I wanted to re-read the first book, and I'm impressed how faithful the series is to the book (and how awesome that series is). I still enjoyed the book, but it is definitely LONG, and I'm not reading lengthy books like I used to. I simply had more time in my early days to let a book wax and wane. She's a great writer, and Jamie and Claire are still one of my favorite romantic couplings of all the books I've ever read. I'm just not a big re-reader, so I'm stuck at about halfway through, right after she tells Jaime what's up with her time traveling. I feel like it's a book I can come back to and know that characters/plot/story, and I have so many other things to read. Will I finish it? Stay tuned to find out! So--still enjoyable, just not quite as revolutionary as when I read it in the 90s. But then...what the hell did I know at 20?!?
P.S. Jamie as a character is still a stone cold badass fox. That man is hot. Every straight woman wants a little Jamie in her life....more