Here's the deal. I can't figure out how to rate this book. I thought about rating it 5 stars. I thought about rating it 1 star. I thought maybe I woulHere's the deal. I can't figure out how to rate this book. I thought about rating it 5 stars. I thought about rating it 1 star. I thought maybe I would just average them to 3, but that wouldn't be right either. (Note: In the end, I chose 3 stars because, fortunately, enough other people have rated it that my rating doesn't really matter.)
Why? Well, 5 stars for the writing and the sheer power of the story--it was really well done. But then 1 star for personal impact--this was a story that was almost too hard for me to read. It's not that I think people shouldn't read hard stories. But this one told a story about probably my greatest fear, a thing that was the stuff of my most horrific nightmares for years and years. And it was too bleak for me.
The story is about this family who are very Kennedy-esque. This is not how normal people live. It was interesting and weird to get a glimpse at this life -- I mean, they own an island, for Pete's sake. However, they are so incredibly, completely dysfunctional that you will find yourself suddenly glad to not be that rich. Either that or really ticked off at them for being so dysfunctional when they have so much. Either way, it's definitely a weird life they lead.
A major theme of this book is the importance of dealing with your emotions instead of sweeping them under the rug. You may find it ironic, then, that I couldn't entirely enjoy the book because it approached too closely some personal emotional baggage. But too bad.
Unfortunately, I can't write much more of this review without massive spoilers. So I will simply add, very vaguely, that it is a painful book but that there is a glimmer of hope in the end. It just wasn't enough glimmer for me.
P.S. Complete strangers reading this review: please feel free NOT to reply and tell me I really need to deal with my baggage so I can enjoy this book. Thanks. :)
Now for the massive spoilers:
(view spoiler)[The main character struggles the whole book with trying to remember what horrible thing happened the previous summer. It turns out that the horrible thing was that she was directly, though accidentally, responsible for the deaths of her two cousins and her boyfriend. The story is incredibly well told in the way it addresses this. Think about the movie The Sixth Sense; the little boy talks to the Bruce Willis character and makes him seem, well, not dead. Same here, done smoothly. So smoothly that when she talks about the plan they had, to burn down the family mansion from the bottom up, I thought, "Well, that's stupid. You're gonna get yourselves killed." Yet it didn't occur to me to even consider that that's exactly what they did! Anyway, so that's the big deal. She pretty much killed the people she most cared about. I used to have nightmares about that on a regular basis. (Again, remember, no need to stick me on Freud's couch, thank you very much.) That's why the story was so painful for me but also why I was impressed with how it was told. Also, the writing was very lyrical and lovely. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I enjoyed this story quite a bit, but I did get bogged down in some of the descriptive details. Things like people wandering down the street of the liI enjoyed this story quite a bit, but I did get bogged down in some of the descriptive details. Things like people wandering down the street of the little town, what exactly someone ate for breakfast, etc. To a certain extent, these details make the narrative more vivid and relatable, but for me there were just a few too many. Still, it didn't keep me from reading the book. Also, it was interesting to see the personalities involved, particularly Pocock (can't remember his first name . . . George?).
I think probably the most chilling and also mesmerizing aspect of this book is the chapters talking about Hitler and his preparations for the Olympics. It's frightening to think just how easy it was to fool so many people and all the things he did so that he could do just that--fool everyone. It was a side of the Holocaust and the Jewish persecution that I hadn't really thought about much before.
I read it because it was for book club, because I love rowing, and because I did find it to be a compelling read. However, as I went along, I kept wondering, "Well, why is this particular story so great, so cool? Every Olympic team has to do a lot of training, etc."
It wasn't until we really got to the couple of chapters that actually involved the Olympic games themselves that it became clear why this was such a triumphant story (at least to me). There, in those two chapters, we see all the things that were stacked against them--and there was really a lot of stuff against them, including what looks a lot like Hitler cheating to stack the deck in favor of the German and Italian teams.
So I found it to be a good read, but I would have loved it a lot more had it been about 100 pages shorter.
As a side note: I grew up hearing from my mom occasionally about how one of her ancestors (dad? grandpa? I never paid enough attention, obviously) worked on the Grand Coulee Dam, so it was fun to read more about that and feel a personal relationship to it. Also, the town of Ephrata gets a brief mention! Yay!
The toddler loves this book. He keeps on finding it from wherever it ends up in the house and bringing it to be read again. Very cute, also slightly cThe toddler loves this book. He keeps on finding it from wherever it ends up in the house and bringing it to be read again. Very cute, also slightly crazy-making. It's a cute, fun picture book, and I mostly still don't hate it after reading it a million times. :)...more
This was another one the kids loved. They loved it so much that the 8yo turned it into a play for us all to act out. The hubby was the cowboy, the 5yoThis was another one the kids loved. They loved it so much that the 8yo turned it into a play for us all to act out. The hubby was the cowboy, the 5yo was the the cow, I was the surprise creature at the end (can't tell you, it's a spoiler!), and the 8yo was the narrator. The toddler was, well, whatever he wanted to be right then. The best part of books like this for the kids, I think, is the loud silly words (in this case, "Eek!") that make everyone giggle. There's just something appealing about it. That's why Antoinette Portis' Froodle is fun and especially why Mo Willems' Listen to My Trumpet is awesome (well, that and just because it's Piggie and Gerald). So, it was fun times....more
An easy, fairly enjoyable read. I enjoyed the idea of this ghost hanging around and making life difficult for Laine, the main character. I also thoughAn easy, fairly enjoyable read. I enjoyed the idea of this ghost hanging around and making life difficult for Laine, the main character. I also thought the author did a good job of mingling the ghost in with Laine's real life--things like the macaroons appearing and such were fun details.
For me it didn't rank higher for one main reason: I really wanted Laine to stick up for herself a little more. I get that there are all sorts of people in the world, including people who truly do allow themselves to get pushed around, but I don't really like those characters. I can only handle it so much before I get too annoyed. For me, it stopped working when her father and stepmother intrude really badly into her life for reasons that are incredibly selfish and unkind (won't be more specific here because of spoilers) and she doesn't do anything about it. I also wished that we had gotten a better sense of exactly what was going on with Ian/Carly.
Still, it was a light, clean read (unless you object to a married woman thinking about sex a lot--never graphically or descriptively, more just, "Hey, we had a lot of fun on that desk" sorts of things). ...more
Read this one for book club, and I enjoyed the character and time period. I am looking forward to reading the other books, though I don't feel a burniRead this one for book club, and I enjoyed the character and time period. I am looking forward to reading the other books, though I don't feel a burning need to go out and get them right this instant, like you do with some series. I'm looking forward to seeing Enola's relationship with Sherlock and Mycroft potentially evolve in the future.
I thought the discussion of ladies' clothing, like Improvers and such (I can't remember the other names offhand--essentially bustles, corsets, and all, but with very proper names), was hilarious. So uptight and restrained.
Sherlock's behavior toward women was one of my critiques of this book. If you completely discount everything that's important to 50% of the population, I can't see how you'd make a good detective. But it's been a long time since I read the original Holmes, so maybe he's that way in the originals as well. Either way, I don't buy it. He should really have seen some of the things that Enola sees. Nevertheless, still enjoyable.
My 8yo read this too, and she enjoyed it, but I don't think she understood the references to things like ladies of the night and prostitution. At least, I hope not! :) They are not described, merely mentioned as people she encounters. If we continue the series together, I will be needing to make a point of explaining these issues at some sort of level. ...more
A fun, lighthearted read with lots of painful embarrassment and purposely misinterpreted wishes. Enjoyable, especially if you're looking for somethingA fun, lighthearted read with lots of painful embarrassment and purposely misinterpreted wishes. Enjoyable, especially if you're looking for something to entertain and make you smile.
I like Sachar. I enjoyed the Wayside School books when I was little (although I don't know how much I would enjoy them now), and I truly loved both HoI like Sachar. I enjoyed the Wayside School books when I was little (although I don't know how much I would enjoy them now), and I truly loved both Holes and The Cardturner. As in, loved loved loved. Both Holes and The Cardturner were quirky, wacky, unreal stories, but they also had a bigger story to tell--about personal responsibility and real life and growing up and I'm going to get all soapboxy if I continue. In short, they were both what I have come to think of as deeply moral stories.
On the other hand, to me, this book was just sort of meh. It was a funky story, just like the stories I loved, but otherwise it didn't feel like it said anything deeper about the human condition. Or if it did, I missed it. So it was fine, but nothing particularly special for me.
P.S. Spoiler alert: (view spoiler)[ I totally wanted it to be some sort of monster thing or at least a sentient bacteria instead of just a human experiment gone wrong (and by wrong, I mean, mutated exactly the way a bacteria might eventually mutate and then survive--not even in any fun sort of way). So I guess I confess to not really enjoying that it felt like it had a human-science-is-bad/destroying-the-earth sort of bent. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Light, clean romance. Not the most incredible book in the world, but a solid fun story (which is a pretty good recommendation for the strictly romanceLight, clean romance. Not the most incredible book in the world, but a solid fun story (which is a pretty good recommendation for the strictly romance genre, in my opinion).* I would (and will) read more of her Indulgence Row books when they come out.
A note on the clean aspect of the romance: Absolutely no sex, a bit of passionate kissing, and a couple of references to the desirability of sex but deciding to wait. Very PG.
* Which is not an insult to the romance genre, simply an acknowledgement that generally speaking it's not meant to be life-altering, it's meant to be fun.
A side note about the rating: I feel a little bad choosing only 3 stars because I don't like decreasing an overall rating, especially for an indie author. According to goodreads' (and my own) rating system, though, 3 stars is "I liked it." 4 is "I loved it." 5 is "it was amazing." For me to give a 4 or 5, it has to be something that affects me personally in some way, something that really sticks with me, or something that I deemed really original or beautiful in some way. A 3-star rating is something I enjoyed, something I would choose more of if I was in the mood--it's a solid choice for whatever genre/category it's in. Okay, that's all, just thought I'd share. :)...more