I have fond memories of watching this movie over and over again but I realized I hadn’t ever read the book. As an adult looking back, I do wonder a liI have fond memories of watching this movie over and over again but I realized I hadn’t ever read the book. As an adult looking back, I do wonder a little that one of my favorite stories growing up features cannibalism, lesbian overtones, and menopause-induced homicidal psychosis. Actually – it makes a sort of sense. This was every bit as delightful as I remembered and there is certainly a richness to the book that is absent from the movie, lovely as it is. These characters are so rich and real that reading this felt like coming home. Love love love this one!!...more
True confession time – I am not into the whole “Hoarder” thing. I can’t stand the tv shows because they make my skin crawl a bit and I feel crushing eTrue confession time – I am not into the whole “Hoarder” thing. I can’t stand the tv shows because they make my skin crawl a bit and I feel crushing embarrassment and hurt for the people offered up for my amusement as the viewer. That being said – this book is in my 2014 Top Five. Based on years of in-depth research and true relationships with the individuals profiled, the authors have offered a complex and compelling exploration of the many causes, pathologies, and even comforts of hoarding. Challenging many of the long standing assumptions and ideas about the roots of hoarding and proper treatment, the book introduces us to a number of different kinds of hoarders, each person with their own nuances and quirks. The authors make these real, relatable people even as we are “standing” with them in a pile of garbage or near a swaying tower of a decade of newspapers and unopened junk mail. Most importantly for me, the authors are very compassionate and respectful in how they talk about the participants, as each received therapy and assistance in exchange for being as honest as possible about themselves, their objects and their feelings. One of the most important takeaways is the truth that there is no one cause, nor solution, to hoarding. I cannot recommend this book enough to anyone who has personal or family experience with hoarding, loves those shows, or even anyone who just loves psych topics and the complexity and infinite variation of humanity and the ways in which we can get a little lost along the path of life. ...more
A late entry to my favorites of what I read in 2012! This book was an incredibly moving personal story about a daughter making the tough choice to leaA late entry to my favorites of what I read in 2012! This book was an incredibly moving personal story about a daughter making the tough choice to leave her career to care for her aging mother full time. A love story of sorts, the book follows the journey as mother and daughter get to know and appreciate each other again. Jo’s transition from the fast-paced life of New York City to North Carolina provided many moments of humor. The book is packed with lovely moments of realization and wonderful details – I feel like I know this family. While I have not lived this exact situation, the author’s description of her mother’s decline resonated with me and my own experience of preparing to say goodbye to my grandmother. This book is a love letter from daughter to mother celebrating the beauty and wisdom of Mama Jo and the indelible mark she left on her children and, through this book, all of us. I don’t know anyone that should not read this book. If nothing else, it is a moving reminder that the only legacy we truly leave is how we’ve touched the lives of those around us....more
A fantastic read for book club! This one reminded me strongly of “Ready Player One” and, in places, the best fantasy pulp novels. I am a sucker for slA fantastic read for book club! This one reminded me strongly of “Ready Player One” and, in places, the best fantasy pulp novels. I am a sucker for slightly magical tales about books and the magic therein and this one had me hooked from the first. Overall, well-written and with a great, fast-moving plot. I think I know some of these characters in real life (or very convincing versions of them) and that probably added to my enjoyment. Loved loved loved this one and excited to see that Sloan is revisiting this world in another book. I would definitely love to visit his San Francisco again!...more
I feel almost guilty how much I adored this book, if for no other reason as the wealth of knowledge it contains about a drug that had a huge effect onI feel almost guilty how much I adored this book, if for no other reason as the wealth of knowledge it contains about a drug that had a huge effect on world history and now is almost forgotten. But I think the real power lies in the author’s personal story of scholarship, obsession, and eventual addiction. Martin’s tale of wandering around Asia in search of “home” reminds me of some of the best of Tony Bourdain’s travel writing/journalism. He stumbles upon some of the few remaining opium dens in existence and becomes obsessively fascinated by the culture, the history, the tools and artifacts of opium smoking, and the other smokers. It was almost frightening reading the passionate fire he develops for every nuance, ritual, and ornate detail of opium smoking because I complete understand the high of losing oneself in an intellectual passion like this. There is so much detail packed into this book and it is unique among nearly all published works on the topic. Martin should know since the book discusses his ever-deepening research, scouring out any and all works written about opium use, traditional smoking tools and set up, and even more literary works produced by known or reputed users. There are times the world he describes is dangerously seductive, but I think he did an elegant job of balancing the way opium use cast a dream-like quality over his own life and the horrific physical agony of his own withdrawals and quit attempts and the death of others while trying to quit. This book is amazing read for anyone with an interest in Asian history, the physiology of addiction/drug abuse, traditional Chinese ritual and artifacts, or the history of opium use. I have read so many books set in our about Asia and while many reference opium use/abuse, after reading this book I realize I understood nothing about the whole thing. An amazing and gripping read and one that I know I will remember often as I encounter opium references in books, movies, music and history. It’s like a door has been opened to a shadow world and now I see references and details everywhere. That the mark of an amazing book!...more
I think the wide variation in reviews for this one is perhaps the result of genre confusion rather than the book not being good. For people gung ho onI think the wide variation in reviews for this one is perhaps the result of genre confusion rather than the book not being good. For people gung ho on magic and fantasy, this book is WAY too plodding and mundane. For folks into fairly realistic novels, this one is going to have WAY too much mystical mumbo jumbo. I fell in love with this book very early on and am still enamored – perhaps because this feels like it fits with Alice Hoffman, Christy Yorke and perhaps Jonathan Carroll's sort of magical realistic or magically mundane books. It takes a big pinch of willing suspension of disbelief but the journey is well worth it.
This book is heavily atmosphere but I adored the prose and the lush settings developed. The characters could have been better developed, but set into such a seductive world, I didn't really care. I liked that in this world magic is very difficult, complex, and never fully mastered. No easy spell words or recipes or hand motions here. Also, I appreciated that magic wasn't used to solve problems. If anything, it caused them. I feel like this is one of the few books that really explored the moral complexities of magic in a "real world" setting. I have seen comparisons to The Prestige, which seem apt – but I really liked that one too (book and movie – both of which are a little "the most mundane, low thrill story you will ever experience about earth-shattering magic power"). ...more
The audiobook version is read by the author and is absolutely brilliant. I can't say I agree with her on every point, but it is high time to call outThe audiobook version is read by the author and is absolutely brilliant. I can't say I agree with her on every point, but it is high time to call out some of the nonsense, assumptions, and – as she would say – utter bullshit surrounding our ideas of women and what they can and should be. Part autobiography, part proud strident feminist rant – this was a fun tour from childhood through the present of the author's quest to figure out just who she was and who everyone else was expecting her to be. I loved this and laughed pretty much no-stop. Also, I love any book this funny that constantly quotes Germaine Greer, Betty Friedan, and other feminists of all stripes. In closing – Moran is right. 600 pounds for a handbag is pure insanity....more
One of my all time favorites and almost every smart, driven, slightly quirky woman I know has a deep affection for Anne Shirley. This is a universal sOne of my all time favorites and almost every smart, driven, slightly quirky woman I know has a deep affection for Anne Shirley. This is a universal story of being a little different from everyone else and finding your way in the world. A lovely re-read and coming back to this story feels like visiting beloved family members you haven't seen in too long. Oh, Gilbert. Like so many of my friends, I dreamed of finding my Gilbert and it's fun to revisit this story from an adult perspective....more
This book is the perfect story crack for me – historical fiction with lots of rich detail, lots of commentary on the rights of women, and interestingThis book is the perfect story crack for me – historical fiction with lots of rich detail, lots of commentary on the rights of women, and interesting characters. I can understand those who weren’t thrilled with the pacing – it is slow – but I found the story fascinating. Set against the back drop of George III’s madness, his heir’s decline into useless debauchery, and the French Revolution, there was so much going on this book that touched on other histories and historical fictions I’ve read. This is not the book for you if you are looking for passion and tons of action, but if the delicate intricacies of social position, politics and “proper” conduct are of interest to you, this book is a treasure. Unlike Slammerkin, I actually liked these characters and found their struggles and hopes compelling. It was a challenging read and one I would not want to attempt on any format but Kindle (where I can look up translations, real history, and details) but it was a delight from start to finish....more
This has to be my 20 or 25th rereading of this book. This was always one of my favorite of Janette Oke’s books, perhaps because it is so dark. Is thisThis has to be my 20 or 25th rereading of this book. This was always one of my favorite of Janette Oke’s books, perhaps because it is so dark. Is this a deeply insightful work exploring the scars of abuse on a young psyche? Not really. Is it a historically dense exploration of women on the frontier? Not in the least. Do I love it to little bits for being a heartfelt and moving if simple story of love, life, and finding your place in the world? Absolutely!
Damaris grows up in home terrorized by her father’s alcoholic binges. One day her mother gives her a few precious possessions she’s kept hidden, a little cash she’s secreted away, and all but tells her daughter to go and find a life for herself. I love Damaris’ emotional journey as she finds a place for herself among the townsfolk of a small western town and slowly begins to see that all families were not like hers and all men are not like her father.
I love the romance element of this book partly because there is so little overt romance. (view spoiler)[Damaris meets a dear friend of one of her three “bosses”, Gil, and it rang very true to me that it takes her the better part of the year to understand that she has feelings for him, not that she has the slightest clue what to do with them. I am not a big fan of romances that use misunderstanding of as the crux of the drama, but again – here it rings true and I still tear up a little when Damaris comes to realize that Gil wants to marry her out of love for her, not concern for the orphan children she’s taken in.
Honestly, I’ve always wanted more books with these characters. I want more of Gil and Damaris working through their painful pasts and building a new life with the orphans and a few additions of their own. Also, I think half the town would end up Aunties and Uncles to any kids these two had or adopted and I am embarrassed to admit how much I want to read all of the slightly-treacly fussing and loving that would ensue. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
As a writer, I am somewhat hardwired to love books about writers and the writing process. Some of the plot elements in this book should have been clicAs a writer, I am somewhat hardwired to love books about writers and the writing process. Some of the plot elements in this book should have been clichéd or overdone, but the writing just sort of carries you along past some of the more sensational elements. The main character, a writer invited to come and write a bio of another, far more famous writer, is interesting and I love the theme in here about twins and "twinness". Always fascinating to me. This book had just the right touches of the gothic – little sparks of the uncanny that sent shivers up my spine, but it never overdid. Also, the movement from present to past to story is wonderfully done and I'm not sure when I've seen such elegant pacing. I always wanted a little more of the story – whichever story was being developed – but they were all presented in wonderfully bite-sized installments and worked in harmony with the other stories being developed, so that the forward movement of each set just the right tone and mental state of mind to move to the next story....more