I wish I knew Mr. Raymond - he seems like the perfect friend/neighbor. I can see myself tagging along behind him asking a lot of questions on gardenin...moreI wish I knew Mr. Raymond - he seems like the perfect friend/neighbor. I can see myself tagging along behind him asking a lot of questions on gardening. He strikes me as a no-nonsense practical type of guy who wants everyone to grow pesticide free veggies all the while being a kind and gentle teacher. This is the kind of book on gardening he has written and it is a classic.
I don't need super pretty pictures as a beginner, I need facts and real tips. That is what you get in his book, each page has something that is useful. Dick is a big supporter of rich soil as a way to combat plant disease and increase harvests. I like that he was thinking sustainably even when it wasn't cool. He also has a neat way of planting tomatoes in trenches which makes sense. I also like that he is a bit of gambler, he starts some pants really early just to see if it will work. Who needs frost dates!?
It is also nice to see that he is a gardener in partnership with his wife (and she puts up the veggies too!).
Hopefully I will be able to find it at a book sale and keep it as a reference book. (less)
This was my first Mary Stewart novel - and I loved it! For me, the biggest fun was being transported to such a magical time and place. Call me old-fas...moreThis was my first Mary Stewart novel - and I loved it! For me, the biggest fun was being transported to such a magical time and place. Call me old-fashioned but I love a heroine that is spunky and sweet at the same time. Nicola is just that girl.
She arrives in Crete for a holiday and is unintentionally pulled into a dramatic mystery/murder/kidnapping that is being played out in the island. Prior to her arrival, two brothers have a run-in with local trouble and are being hunted/kidnapped by some really nasty bad guys. During her exploring, Nicola accidentally meets the older brother, Mark Langley, and wants to help. Although Mark encourages her to stay out of the whole mess, Nicola presses on. As a reader, I really liked that the characters were well-developed and drew you in immediately, not to mention all of the excitement and tension.
Nicola's tenacity in helping the brothers showed courage, strength and a stick-to-itiveness that was so appealing. I liked sneaking off with her and finding pieces of the puzzle together. And, there is just the right amount of romance and love floating about.
If you are looking for a page turner, this really fits the bill. The reader gets to follow along on some pretty hairy experiences which makes it fun. If you could read a book and hold your hands over your eyes, I would totally do it.
Thank you Jeanette, Misfit, et. al for a great buddy-read and intro to Ms. Stewart!(less)
Confession time: I was initially hesitant to read this book because I had heard so many criticisms both in person and on-line. I am so glad that I wen...moreConfession time: I was initially hesitant to read this book because I had heard so many criticisms both in person and on-line. I am so glad that I went ahead and gave it a shot. I would have missed out on a great novel otherwise. Haddon does an excellent job of capturing the essence of the main character, Christopher Boone. I am always impressed when an author can make me believe that he/she has lived an experience and I get totally absorbed into the story.
Although the book doesn't specifically state it, the main character has a form of Aspergers. Christopher is brilliant when it comes to mathematics but he lacks social skills and does not like to be touched. He is hyper focused on specific rituals and is absorbed by colors and patterns.
The book is a fairly quick read. Christopher is a 15-year old who 'investigates' the death of his neighbor's dog and discovers family secrets and how complicated human relationships can be in the process, although it really can't change how he processes his thoughts. Christopher is a black and white thinker and it shows in how he makes decisions around relationships. Although brilliant in practical matters, such as math and science, he lacks the ability to see how we all need to adjust and adapt to the subtleties that define human relationships. Human motivations are a total mystery to him. My heart went out to Christopher's parents; the difficulty in loving a child who judges so definitively must be ever so difficult since we (as parents) are not perfect and continuously make mistakes. It's a lot to think about.
One thing that I thought was different in this book are the illustrations the author provides as Christopher explains his reasoning/thinking. I am not especially great in mathematics but I could actually follow along and found it a great way to share in his thinking.
Thank you Sera for the buddy-read; this was on my list for quite a while! (less)
A definite winner in my eyes. There are some books that just make you think and this is one of them. Taking the idea of 'odd women' and turning it int...moreA definite winner in my eyes. There are some books that just make you think and this is one of them. Taking the idea of 'odd women' and turning it into a novel is just brillant.
Odd women are those women who are left after all other eligible men and women have been paired in marriage. These women are not outcasts per se but definitely live a much different life than those who have a husband.
Some of the women in this novel embrace the distinction while others are so afraid of becoming one that they make poor choices which resonate over their lifetime. One example is that of Monica Madden, alone in the world, she must support herself as a shop-girl. This profession is harsh and with a limitless supply of desparate workers; there is little to advance any worker's condition for the better. As soon as one worker is depleted there are many others ready to fill a position.
When an opportunity to marry a man of distinction and means presents itself, Monica is so afraid of losing this singular opportunity that she makes a decision in haste. This decision later becomes a central point in the story and leads to numerous bad decisions and complications.
At the same time, there are other women in the novel who embrace their freedom and control; these are odd women who have found a purpose. The pioneers who create the tide of liberation for women.
Rhoda Nunn, a peer and friend to Monica, is a perfect example of the type of woman that laid a path for future women to benefit from. Although she presents as a judgemental character at times, Rhoda is able to stand strong in her beliefs and desires and not become, as so many others do, beholden to any one man.
I loved this novel and there is much too much to describe. I can see a book club embracing this for a wonderful discussion. So many themes to explore: love, class, economic oppression, capitalism, feminism, desire, morals, just to name a few.
Thank you again Sera for introducing me to this gem!(less)
How sad and tragic can one book be? So much so that you think about it for days and days.
This is also a member of the “finish it and then pick it up a...moreHow sad and tragic can one book be? So much so that you think about it for days and days.
This is also a member of the “finish it and then pick it up again and start at the beginning” book group. It is like the pain that feels good.
Tragic Ethan Frome; he marries his cousin Zeena just because she is there. I did not like Zeena. She was much too whiny and a dead-weight on the marriage. Zeena eventually developed a strong case of hypochondria, and needed the help of an aide to get along day-to-day. What was interesting was how she made this switch to dependency so rapidly after marrying Ethan. This is where Mattie, Zeena's cousin, comes in. Mattie comes to live with Ethan and Zeena to help out around the house.
Mattie is a breath of fresh air in Ethan’s life. She is young, innocent and attractive, and of course, very much off limits. She has a complicated past and not a lot of options. Slowly Ethan becomes infatuated and then in love with her.
Wharton beautifully lets you live their love and difficult decisions. I am not sure if Ethan is really as trapped as he feels himself to be. Wharton explores this through the story and allows each to decide. Was the love of Ethan and Mattie doomed or were there other options there? The story is dark and cold, just like the winter in the Massachusetts town where they live.
The ending is very Twilight Zonish. The most impossible and long-lasting punishment I have ever read.(less)
This was my second time reading A Tale of Two Cities! The first being in high school. Although there is a lot of detail and very long sentences, these...moreThis was my second time reading A Tale of Two Cities! The first being in high school. Although there is a lot of detail and very long sentences, these two things appeal to me as a reader.
Book One and Book Two set up the novel for a fantastic ending. Social inequality and revenge is at the heart of the story in my opinion and both play out well. Dickens was skillful in showing how dogma even if for the right cause, can sweep up the innocent in a large net.
I admired the attorney, Sydney Carton and was silly enough to hope that in the end his life would be spared. Even though Mrs.Defarge had suffered tremendously in the past, I still could not forgive her ugliness to Lucie and her family. The complete opposites in good and evil.
I missed the humor that often shines through in his other books, but hey, a revolution is serious business. (less)
Very few writers can bring you to the intimate level of familiarity and comfort with the people and times as Steinbeck. I could see, smell and feel Ca...moreVery few writers can bring you to the intimate level of familiarity and comfort with the people and times as Steinbeck. I could see, smell and feel Cannery Row. I have been a fan since The Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden when Steinbeck first knocked my socks off.
In Cannery Row, Mack is the leader of a rag tag group of men who really don't mean harm but seem to inadvertently cause it everywhere they go. Much time is spent scheming and planning but not in a terribly malicious way, mostly they focus on getting what they need with the least amount of work possible.
Doc runs the neighborhood lab and is a marine biologist; a stable, kind presence. To show their affection, Mack and his boys decide to throw Doc a surprise party. Good intentions and bad karma equal a disaster. There is a round two for the party- givers which has better results.
The parallel stories of Lee Chong, Dora and Hazel blend in seemlessly and add richness to the main narrative. Although a short read, I took the time to really savor the words. So much in so few pages.
This was an excellent change of pace for me after a spell of tragic novels. Fast paced and magical, the storyline was unique which isn't easy to do. I...moreThis was an excellent change of pace for me after a spell of tragic novels. Fast paced and magical, the storyline was unique which isn't easy to do. I enjoyed the protagonist Jacob and could feel his teen angst as he tried to not be too 'different' in a world of weird happenings. Jacob is very close to his grandfather who tells tales of an island where safety and strangeness co-exist. Jacob must find this island and how he is tied to its history.
The descriptions of the island and the 'peculiar' children made me believe. The photos included as part of the novel (I read it on an Ipad) are fantastic and gave me goosebumps. They are so unusual that the author blogged about their orgins on the Huff Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ransom-...
The ending leads me to believe that there is a sequel in the works (yeah!)
And what is cooler than an author named Ransom Riggs?(less)
This is not my usual kind of book to read. Contemporary fiction and books focused in the South generally don't appeal to me, so I really appreciate th...moreThis is not my usual kind of book to read. Contemporary fiction and books focused in the South generally don't appeal to me, so I really appreciate the groups I have joined here which have broadened my reading horizons, without a group read, I would certainly have missed this excellent novel.
The relationships and connections the author details kept me turning the pages and I finished this book in record time. It felt authentic and real. Every one of the chatacters were believable. From page one I couldn't stop turning pages. Any writer that can hook my attention completely and that fast has immense talent in my book. (no pun intended)
The story focuses on two men who although raised in the same town end up in vastly different life circumstances. One is a popular former athlete and the other is a social outcast who tends a failing automotive repair shop. Although there is a mystery at the center and encompasses both men, the family secrets and relationships are really the focus throughout. In the end I wasn't disappointed that some questions were left unanswered and some pieces were left open-ended. I'm not that great of a detective so I didn't figure out the end until it all came together, which made it even better.
The ending was heart-wrenching but still promised hope. I loved that. I also appreciated the way that race was woven thoughtfully and with purpose throughout. (less)
This was such a great read for me. It's a very slow build-up but it is worth it in the end.
I would imagine that most readers generally know the story...moreThis was such a great read for me. It's a very slow build-up but it is worth it in the end.
I would imagine that most readers generally know the story-line: Edmond Dantes is an innocent man framed by his jealous rivals during the anti-Bonaparte paranoia in France. He is accused of being a collaborator and of bringing messages from Napoleon to supporters. Edmond is sent to prison and leaves behind his father and true love, Mercedes.
His life sentence to the Chateau d'If is so well written - the despair, the hope and the change in Edmond is profound and Dumas portrays it all very well. One of the best and most interesting characters is also introduced, Abbe Faria. He brings hope into the darkness. The years in the Chateau change Edmond radically and he escapes with only revenge on his mind.
The rest of the novel is focused on this revenge and each person he seeks to pay back is so intricately studied and followed until the perfect net is cast. As a reader, some of the outcomes feel well deserved, others much less so.
At the beginning I felt like I knew who Edmond was as a character, his feelings and experiences were shared. Once he leaves the Chateau, the tone of the novel changes drastically, the reader is watching a stranger who is cold-hearted and remorseless. I was also sad for Edmond, so much of his life was dedicated to finding and getting his own justice that he does not experience life as a free man to the fullest or share love with a family or partner.
There is much to think about as you read the book and I am looking forward to re-reading it again. Sometimes the best part for me is getting the first impression, understanding the story and then long afterwards, reading and seeing new and important things. The same way I find in an Austen novel, lots of surprises and always a good read.(less)
**spoiler alert** There is so much happening in this story that it will take me days to process. Overall I loved it - my take from seeing other review...more**spoiler alert** There is so much happening in this story that it will take me days to process. Overall I loved it - my take from seeing other reviews is that you either do love it or hate it. It is a fantastical journey into the history and development of the Fabian socialist movement and Arts and Crafts era. There is much to ponder and enjoy.
Although it is packed with details and characters, I for one think all the detail is necessary to carry out the story well.
The novel details the lives of two families: the Wellwoods and the Fludds. The Wellwoods are headed by Olive and Humphrey, both idealists and not strongly connected to reality. Their life together appears to be the perfect combination of beautiful children, a wonderful home and a bohemian lifestyle. Olive writes children's stories for the public and customizes personal stories for each of her seven children. Humphrey also is a writer and lecturer after quitting his job at a bank to preserve his integrity (the one and only time it is shown). The novel begins with Olive on a research jaunt to a museum discovering a runaway boy and transporting him back to their estate. As the reader learns more about this family, the fairy tales conceived by Olive hide and detract from horrible parenting, tragic secrets and lies that flow through the household.
The Fludds are a highly dysfunctional family headed by an artistically but morally challenged potter. Benedict Fludd, his wife and daughters were extremely odd - this family also carries deep and disturbing secrets.
Be warned - there is incest and some heartbreaking moments throughout. I became attached to many of the characters which can be a good and bad thing.
One of the many things that I did not know before reading this book was that many writers of children's books have had their own children lead unhappy lives, many of which ended in suicide. Very ironic that individuals whose job it is to weave beautiful stories often cannot translate that happiness into their own homes.
I've read my fill of mystery/suspense stories and I must say that this was one of the better ones, in my opinion. Although it was published in the mid...moreI've read my fill of mystery/suspense stories and I must say that this was one of the better ones, in my opinion. Although it was published in the mid 1800's, the story line still felt fresh. Lots of build- up and even midway through I was not knowing where we would go next. I don't want to say too much, as to what happens, as "the secret" is the primary focus of the novel.
What I can say is that I was kept guessing throughout. There was one point in the book where I thought something was going to happen and I had to hold my breath and keep turning pages. My guess was wrong, which I was happy to see.
The main characters were diverse and Lady Audley was portrayed perfectly; I would loved to see a photo of her. She is described as being incredibly beautiful, childish and doll-like, Robert Audley who plays the detective reminded me of a young Bruce Willis, laid-back, witty and forever the bachelor.
This was a very enjoyable, quick read and I will be checking out more of Braddon's work. I can imagine that this novel made her hugely popular at the time of it's release.(less)
Awesome, just awesome. Love a book that I can't put down and that is rich in detail. Heck I could see myself there in the arena. How amazing is Suzann...moreAwesome, just awesome. Love a book that I can't put down and that is rich in detail. Heck I could see myself there in the arena. How amazing is Suzanne Collins that she can draw you into story so fresh and so just right? Just finished Catching Fire and on to the third!(less)
This is a dream book, by that I mean that from page one I was hooked, well actually to be truthful, from the first paragraph. It had that magic that a...moreThis is a dream book, by that I mean that from page one I was hooked, well actually to be truthful, from the first paragraph. It had that magic that a talented author sprinkles across the pages breathing life into every word. Faber's writing is just that.
From the beginning I felt like a voyeur peeking into private corners and conversations. Very satisfying for anyone who has wanted to be a fly on the wall. The reader follows different individuals and peeks into their most vulnerable moments.
At the heart it is the depiction of relationships, norms, and opportunities shown through the lens of Victorian prostitution. Sugar is the main player and she is unusual in character, intellect and beauty. Her life changes in an extreme way shortly after meeting William Rackham, the heir to a perfume dynasty. Up to that point, Sugar is a lady for hire in her mother's brothel. There is so much more to this book, but I don't want to give away any surprises.
Although we get small glimpses into how Sugar came to be, I wanted more information. I felt like I knew her from the present forward but wanted more insight as to her thinking and how her mother's twisted upbringing of Sugar had come about. Or maybe, that is what makes me like this novel so much. I don't have all the pieces.
It is amazing to travel back to the Victorian era and experience the norms of the time: limited access to running water, little understanding of mental health issues and incredible poverty with extremely poor sanitation. Social norms are even more stiking.
Beware of starting this book, you can't put it down!
Breathtaking. And a book to keep the reader thinking for days and weeks afterwards.
The narrator is Death. He is quirky, sarcastic, sad and a bit misch...moreBreathtaking. And a book to keep the reader thinking for days and weeks afterwards.
The narrator is Death. He is quirky, sarcastic, sad and a bit mischievous. Be warned as he loves to throw in spoilers throughout. His viewpoint is that humans are contrary beings and seem to purposefully want to make his job more difficult.
The start of WWII is the perfect intersection of madness and war that tires him out. Death never stops and he uses colors to describe the intense situations he often finds himself in.
Liesel is a young girl living in this time period and although Death often sees her; she seems to escape his grasp for the time being.
After a harrowing trip on a train she ends up as the foster child of a German family who nurtures her love of books and writing. It was so satisfying to see her develop this passion; I also enjoyed her beginning exercises in reading that happen with Hans, her step-father.
How complicated and adult-like must of been the lives of children during this time; one that I can't imagine.
This was a buddy-read and I would highly recommend reading it with another person so that you can process the intense feelings this book seems to bring out.(less)