This book pulls off the feat of being simultaneously intensely depressing and incredibly funny. If you are a stay-at-home mom, it will convince you thThis book pulls off the feat of being simultaneously intensely depressing and incredibly funny. If you are a stay-at-home mom, it will convince you that you made the right choice; if you are a working mom, you'll think you're doing great because, I guarantee you, you're doing a better job at juggling than Kate Reddy is. Kate is a high-powered hedge fund manager who has to fly across the Atlantic every week or two while managing two kids, a nanny she's terrified of, and a house-cleaner whom she's embarrassed to ask to clean. Also a patient, sometimes exasperating, and long-suffering husband and a mother-in-law who likes to give her makeup tips first thing in the morning. At first this book seems like it's going to just describe her life endlessly (kind of like a fictional version of Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte), though it's amusing enough that you might not mind. Eventually, it starts tying everything together into a plot. The ending is fairly satisfying, and two days after finishing it, I remember the funny bits more than the depressing ones....more
Having just gotten off a month-long binge of reading all of Tana French's books (and now eagerly awaiting the next one), I figured I'd review my favorHaving just gotten off a month-long binge of reading all of Tana French's books (and now eagerly awaiting the next one), I figured I'd review my favorite -- and the one I would recommend newbies to French's books to start with.
Tana French writes a series of psychological thrillers/mysteries called "The Dublin Murder Squad series," because each one has as its main character a detective in The Dublin Murder Squad, or someone connected to them. The main character of each book is always someone who appeared in the previous book, and often not the person you'd expect -- French seems to delight in taking the character you didn't like in one book and making them someone you care about in the next book, a task she accomplishes with incredible skill. The Likeness actually doesn't take that approach; its main character, Cassie, is by far the most likable of French's characters so far. The plot of The Likeness, in which a girl who looks exactly like Cassie is murdered, and Cassie takes her place to try to solve the murder, is also more tense -- with more personal danger to the protagonist -- than in any of her other books. I usually find it hard to put French's books down, but with this one it was pretty much impossible. The book is also a great showcase for French's usual skill of delving deep into her characters psyches and situations, and for creating a rich, complex, and slightly disturbing atmosphere.
In some ways, In The Woods -- her first book -- is even better at this; but I would recommend The Likeness over In The Woods, as a starter, only because there was an aspect of the ending to Into The Woods that bothered a lot of people (including me, though once I got used to it I kind of liked it), and I know made at least one friend swear off French's books entirely. That said, if you like reading books in order, In The Woods is certainly a good place to start. Faithful Place, the third book, is also excellent. I found Broken Harbor to be the weakest of French's books, so wouldn't recommend starting with that one, though it's still worth a read once you're hooked on Tana French. :) ...more
I decided to start this book while on deadline, thinking it was the kind of book where I would have no problem reading a chapter at a time in betweenI decided to start this book while on deadline, thinking it was the kind of book where I would have no problem reading a chapter at a time in between work. Ha! I finished it in less than 24 hours and was completely engrossed.
This is a study of modern parenting, and I'm guessing the main audience for the book is parents -- there's nothing there that is particularly proven or airtight, so what made the book so compelling for me was how well it corresponded to my own experiences and those of most of my friends. The chapter on adolescence, on the other hand, was the slowest part of the book for me, and I'm guessing that's because I don't have adolescent children yet - I found myself skeptical of a lot of her statements and claims, which wasn't true when I was reading the other chapters. (And I suspect might not have been true if my kids were teenagers).
This is a sociology study, not a how-to-guide; even so, I think most parents will find it helpful, both in the "I'm not alone" sense, and because understanding something can help you tackle it better. Also, despite its focus on the problems of parenthood, the author takes care to make it clear that sociology has its limits; "Meaning and joy have a way of slipping through the sieve of social science. The vocabulary for aggravation is large. The vocabulary for transcendence is more elusive."
Some reviews have described this book as depressing, but really, if you're a parent, the depressing parts are nothing you didn't already know, though you might know it a bit more starkly now (toddlers obey commands only 60% of the time? Well, it's nice to put a percentage to it). For me, this book was equal parts humorous, comforting, fascinating, and -- especially in the last chapter -- full of joy....more
The central event of this book is Operation Solomon, during which 14,000+ Ethiopian Jews -- the "lost tribe" of the title -- were airlifted to IsraelThe central event of this book is Operation Solomon, during which 14,000+ Ethiopian Jews -- the "lost tribe" of the title -- were airlifted to Israel over the course of 48 hours in 1991. But the bulk of the book is about the nitty gritty of the diplomatic maneuvering that led up to the event. It is written by the Israeli ambassador to Ethiopia at the time, which means some things probably had to be left out, but even so the book is full of interesting twists and turns -- the massive ransom demanded by Mengistu, the way US support for the operation was implied and used as a bargaining chip, the repercussions when the press publicized the story, the collapse of Mengistu's regime just as everything was falling into place.
For a book dealing with such an inspiring and dramatic event, this book is often somewhat mundane; there's also the occasional clumsy info dump disguised as a conversation. But overall, I found this book fascinating, both for its glimpses into the backstory of a real life event and for what it revealed about diplomacy in general....more
I don't know all that much about India, so I can't say much about this book's accuracy; my rating is based on readability and clarity.
Overall, as an iI don't know all that much about India, so I can't say much about this book's accuracy; my rating is based on readability and clarity.
Overall, as an introductory book for someone who knows little about India, it was an excellent choice. The author has some clear biases (every religious person in the book is ignorant and overreacting, and his astonishment at the fact that most Indian scientists are also religious is somewhat amusing) and, I'm sure, some hidden ones. But I was rarely bored, and now I have some knowledge about a country I knew very little about before - and an interest in reading more about it.
As other reviewers have mentioned, this is not a straight history, but I thought the author did a great job of avoiding confusion even as he jumped a bit between different times and places. The approach works well because he makes the book very entertaining - except for the section on economics, I was always eager to keep reading (or rather, listening, since I got the audiobook)....more
I rarely review picture books, since I know most of my goodreads friends aren't necessarily interested in them - but this one was so cute and well-donI rarely review picture books, since I know most of my goodreads friends aren't necessarily interested in them - but this one was so cute and well-done that I couldn't resist. "Jacob's Eye Patch" is the story of a boy with an eye patch who is trying to get to a toy store, but keeps being interrupted by people asking him why he wears an eye patch. The book manages to be about the eye patch without making "Jacob" just a boy who wears an eye patch. Plus there's a great lesson about how to treat people who look different (a lesson Jacob then has to apply when he sees a little girl with braces!)...more
I grew up reading lots of "portal" stories, where someone steps through a portal into a parallel universe/other world etc.; they were one of4.5 stars
I grew up reading lots of "portal" stories, where someone steps through a portal into a parallel universe/other world etc.; they were one of the staples of golden-age science fiction. I haven't seen that many of them in recent YA, though.
In the beginning of the Tandem, despite the really well-drawn characters and excellent writing, my excitement was muted a bit by what seemed like a set-up I had seen a lot of times before (even if not recently); but this book turned out to be not only a fun read, but also a superbly well-crafted introduction to what promises to be a much more intricate use of the concept of parallel universes - and of the uses humans might make of them. "The next war will be inter-universal," says one character in the book - and I can't wait to find out how and whether that happens, and what Sasha and Thomas (and Grant and Collum! Because I kind of like them, too) are going to do about it....more
This book is both heartrending and heartwarming, and so well-written I plan to read the author's other book very soon. It presents the story of HaregeThis book is both heartrending and heartwarming, and so well-written I plan to read the author's other book very soon. It presents the story of Haregewoin, a middle-class Ethiopian woman who began, almost by accident, taking in AIDS orphans, and presents both a window into the AIDS crisis in Africa and a very personal story about a woman who has an amazingly huge heart but is far from superhuman.
The reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is because whenever the author veers away from Haregwoin toward larger issues -- the origins of AIDS, drug company patents, etc. -- I found the narrative less convincing; she propounded fringe theories as if they were mainstream (they could be true, but the presentation was unbalanced) and was, at times, far too polemical for my taste. I wouldn't necessarily disagree with her conclusions if I read a thorough and well-balanced account, but this wasn't it, and it made me a little more doubtful about those aspects of the book where I didn't know enough about the subject to judge her accuracy.
Despite those reservations, I would 100% recommend this book....more
About two chapters into this book, I thought I was going to be disappointed. Not because the chapters weren't good - they were great - but because I lAbout two chapters into this book, I thought I was going to be disappointed. Not because the chapters weren't good - they were great - but because I loved Leila Sales' previous two books, Mostly Good Girls & Past Perfect, primarily for their humor. She has the kind of subtle humor that comes mostly from accurate observations delivered in unpredictable ways, the kind that makes you burst out laughing with no warning once or twice every chapter. This book, it was clear to me, was not one of those.
Luckily, I didn't have time to get disappointed because the book sucked me in and left me with no time to do anything but read avidly. The story of an unpopular, bullied girl who accidentally finds herself helping to DJ an underground dance club, it stands out for its genuine, wry voice, its realism, and its unflinching honesty. I read it in one sitting. (And I did end up laughing out loud once or twice!)...more
Normally I avoid memoirs written by ex-members of societies looking to tell the world how awful said societies were. In the case of the Westboro BaptiNormally I avoid memoirs written by ex-members of societies looking to tell the world how awful said societies were. In the case of the Westboro Baptist Church, I figured I'd make an exception.
I was pleasantly surprised by this memoir, which was a lot more complicated and (realistically) uneven than the narrative I was expecting. The writing was a little rough in spots, perhaps, but that made it seem honest and genuine. I thought there was a lot of insight into the working of small cult-like groups, in particular, and eye-opening about the WBC in particular - how tiny they really are, and how skillfully they manipulate the media to get all the attention they do. Definitely worth the read....more
For people who regularly follow my reviews, I've got to warn you: this is not my usual type of book. In fact, this is the type of book I usually hate.For people who regularly follow my reviews, I've got to warn you: this is not my usual type of book. In fact, this is the type of book I usually hate. It exemplifies the main reason I prefer genre fiction, where there are actual plots and resolutions and silly things like that. Even so, I decided to pick up this book after reading a story the author wrote in the Columbia Alumni Magazine; it was so well-written that I had to give the book a chance. I figured I would go through the "read 20 pages, put book down, never feel interested enough to pick it up again" routine that usually happens when I try to read "literary" fiction, but nope - this book was SO well-written, its characters so well-drawn, that I ended up finishing it at 1 a.m. (And I have a kid who wakes up at 6 a.m. 1 a.m. for me now is like 5 a.m. for college-aged me.)
So: if you like this type of book, you will LOVE this particular example of the type. The author is an incredibly skilled writer and really knows how to delve into her characters. This is very much a character book, with only one or two plot twists - that are foreshadowed endlessly - and no real surprises.
(SPOILER WARNING: We are given to believe, through the whole book, that the mc ends up doing something unforgivable. That hook was part of what kept me reading, so I was a bit disappointed when, actually, he didn't do anything all that bad at all. That, plus the fact that the novel sort of ends at a random point without any resolution for any of the characters, left me with an unsatisfied feeling at the end. But I'm still going to leave my rating at 5 stars, because my dissatisfaction probably reflects my own personal taste in book genres rather than any flaw in this book.)...more
A collection of fascinating, thoughtful, well-written essays about medical school. The third section is particularly good. I made my husband, who is aA collection of fascinating, thoughtful, well-written essays about medical school. The third section is particularly good. I made my husband, who is an attending, read the essay called "Power Plays" and he could barely finish it because he was laughing so hard. The essay entitled "Baby Poop" should be a classic that is reprinted all over the place (yes, I am serious, and yes, that's really what the essay is about - or at least what it starts out being about). Definitely recommended....more
Caro hasn't seen her sister for years, and for a while told people that she was dead, since it was easier to explain than the truth: that Hannah was iCaro hasn't seen her sister for years, and for a while told people that she was dead, since it was easier to explain than the truth: that Hannah was in a nunnery. But when Hannah returns after 8 years in the nunnery, Caro discovers that the truth is never all that easy to explain, or even to understand.
This books starts like a fairly typical teenage coming-of-age story, distinguished by the extremely strong and well-done voice and by the hint of mysteries buried in the past. But while it goes through the getting-dumped, finding a new guy, parties and best friends circuit, the book delves much deeper than that, intelligently exploring issues like guilt, family, and religion (so rare to see this well-done in YA, and it was REALLY well-done here). Yet it manages fairly deep philosophical discussion without every losing sight of the fact that it's telling one girl's story.
There was one little piece of information that was never revealed, and I was expecting a slightly more twisty end to the mystery (I thought there was a character who was going to admit to being partly responsible), but that probably reflects my own preference as a writer for plot-driven stories. This is very much a character novel, and an excellent one. There's one paragraph where a character describes what it's like to lose faith that is pretty much worth the entire price of the book. Highly recommended....more