More a fictional anthropological study of the Kikuyu at the time of contact with Western civilization than it is a story of human beings. Huxley is alMore a fictional anthropological study of the Kikuyu at the time of contact with Western civilization than it is a story of human beings. Huxley is always a wonder on landscape but she's better with non-fiction. Read The Flame Trees of Thika and The Mottled Lizard instead....more
A brief, delightful interlude centered on one of my favorite characters in Rothfuss' fantasy series. Auri lives in the Underthing, beneath the universA brief, delightful interlude centered on one of my favorite characters in Rothfuss' fantasy series. Auri lives in the Underthing, beneath the university at which apprentice wizard Kvothe studies, and in this little book we learn she studied there, too, once. We don't find out why she left, or how she wound up hiding herself away underground, or where the ruins she discovers came from or who lived in them. This is just an account of a week of her life and the duties she has assumed to the, to her, not inanimate objects that share living space with her. Oh, and she makes soap.
Also, his longest title for his shortest work. Just had to say that....more
This is a different book (I almost said odd but that's sounds pejorative and I don't want to scare you off). I thought I had picked up a thriller andThis is a different book (I almost said odd but that's sounds pejorative and I don't want to scare you off). I thought I had picked up a thriller and it turned out to be science fiction.
Sam Dryden is running away from his life late one night when he cannons into twelve-year old Rachel running in the other direction from other very determined men with guns. Sam is ex-Special Forces and has ample opportunities to get back in the game as he gets Rachel away from them again and again and again, without either of them knowing why those men are trying to kill her in the first place. Rachel has been forcibly deprived of her own memory, you see. Oh, and she can read minds. Eventually we learn why the forces who want to kill her can marshal spy satellites pretty much at their whim to track her down, and why Sam in his turn is so determined to save her.
A strong action-adventure novel with plenty of both, at its heart Runner is a philosophical discussion on morality and responsibility. What is our role as a human being? Are we our brother's keeper? What is the greater good, saving a life or saving lives (trying not to give too much away here)? The Big Bad has his point of view, Sam has his, and it turns out Rachel has her own, too. In the meantime there are plenty of car chases and shootouts. You can read this book strictly for the action and come away satisfied, but you're going to think about it for a while afterward, too. Recommended....more
A coffee table book about brooches, but don't let that frivolous description stop you. Madeleine Albright, first woman secretary of state, accessorizeA coffee table book about brooches, but don't let that frivolous description stop you. Madeleine Albright, first woman secretary of state, accessorized with pins all her life, but it wasn't until Saddam Hussein called her "an unparalleled serpent" in a poem he allegedly wrote himself that she retaliated by wearing a pin in the shape of a gold snake coiled around a branch, a tiny diamond hanging from its mouth, to their next meeting. "...leaving the meeting," she writes
I encountered a member of the UN press corps who was familiar with the poem; she asked why I had chosen to wear that particular pin. As the television cameras zoomed in on the brooch, I smiled and said that it was just my way of sending a message...Before long, and without intending it, I found that jewelry had become part of my personal diplomatic arsenal. Former President George H.W. Bush had been know for saying, "Read my lips." I began urging colleagues and reporters to "Read my pins."
This book is a lavishly illustrated collection of Albright's pins strung together with a series of remembrances of the times she wore them. She wore a blue diamante dove, head down, when addressing the downing of two American planes by Cuba. She wore an elaborate bee pin to meetings with Yasir Arafat. "My pin," she writes, "reflected my mood." She wore a gold angel pin during public remarks on the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. She frequently matched her pins to the country she was visiting, as in wearing her zebra pins to meet with Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
At the end there is even a Pindex, which is where I went to find the page number for the photograph of the miniature silver and amber saxophone, trumpet, electric guitar, cello and piano, which she wore at the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz event honoring Stevie Wonder. She writes
It's hard to tell from the picture, but I managed to get an entire jazz band onto my jacket.
Her collection is certainly eclectic, some pins encrusted with gemstones in the fashion of Fabergé, others looking like they came out of a Crackerjack box. Some of them are fabulous, like the green dragon and sword from Turkey, and all of them are charming, including her favorite, a heart-shaped clay pin created by her five-year old daughter Katie and given to Albright on Valentine's Day. "I have often worn it since," Albright writes.
The pin reflects one of the indispensable purposes of jewelry: to bind families together and connect one generation to the next."
And you will love the ants scampering around on the very last page. Delightful.
Interesting premise for a continuing series. Four years ago security expert Gabriel Ash lost his wife and children to Somali pirates in retaliation foInteresting premise for a continuing series. Four years ago security expert Gabriel Ash lost his wife and children to Somali pirates in retaliation for his thwarting their hijackings. Or did he? In the interim he has not recovered, physically, mentally or emotionally, although his therapist made him get a dog, a lurcher named Patience who provides a chorus-like commentary on the action, and he made a friend from the first book in the series, Constable Hazel Best.
Both are recovering from the consequences of the first book in the series at Hazel's father's home, the gatehouse on the estate of Peregrine (Pete), Lord Byrfield. The earl and the copper grew up together with David Sperry, village boy turned archeologist, who gets Pete to allow him to dig into a mound on the estate. Which of course yields a body, this of a boy killed by a shotgun blast to the face twenty years before. Who the boy was, who killed him and why provides a nice little puzzle for Ash and Hazel to solve, except it's not so nice when someone runs them off the road and tries to kill them with, you guessed it, a shotgun. In the meantime present action is bookended by Ash's attempts to discover if his wife and sons are truly dead, or if the corrupt police superintendent was just having his revenge as he lay dying at the end of the last book.
Nice plotting and characterization, and what feels like a better explanation of noblesse oblige and the hereditary duties of the British peerage, which includes marrying to the benefit of your inheritance and not yourself, which holds true if you're noblesse or not, than I've read elsewhere. Recommended.
**spoiler alert** Note on January 18th: I've been reading this book for a month. It feels like a year. One of the characters just died and I wish it w**spoiler alert** Note on January 18th: I've been reading this book for a month. It feels like a year. One of the characters just died and I wish it was me. Two friends have promised me that it gets better and my book club loved it, so I will persevere. But I will keep away from sharp objects while I do. --- So I finally dragged my way through to the end of this book last night. When I reached the end I sat in stunned silence for a moment before bursting out laughing. It was just so melodramatic.
I sat through 100 pages of philosophy lectures on The Importance of Art in Life (the same lecture I got from James Michener at my college graduation in 1973, FYI) before something happened. As in a tenant of the luxury condos in the building in which Renée is concierge dies, and--quel horreur!--his heir decides to sell it, a thing that hasn't happened in memory of man, or at least not during Renée's tenure. Renée, a self-taught savant of Great Literature, Great Art and Great Music and a to-the-bone hater of all things pseudo-intelligentsia upper class (for the flimsiest of all possible reasons as is revealed about 20 pages from the end, and with zero foreshadowing, too) is thrown into a total revision of everything she has taught herself over fifty-four years by the advent of the new tenant, a Japanese gentleman who shares her tastes in the aforesaid and who (trying really hard not to gag here) is the only person who has Ever Really Understood Her, despite the vast difference in their classes.
So? They meet cute over a grammatical solecism and inevitably fall in love over the course of three dates. And then she dies, struck down in her new prime by a dry cleaners van. Which only goes to show that her whole life was not, in fact, a lie, because boy howdy those upper class intelligentsia will just kill you if you give them even half a chance, and they'll set you up to be killed by the bourgeoisie vehicle of their choice, too.
Renée's narrative is interpolated with Paloma's narrative, Paloma being the 12-year old girl who introduces herself by announcing her determination to set her condo on fire and then kill herself. But then she decides to live so that Renee will live on through her. Also not to burn down her family's condo because Kaguro lives directly above theirs and he is the only other person besides Renée who Understands Her.
I could just slam this book with one star and fuggedaboutit, but there were some lovely lines and scenes, as on page 35-6 the conversation between Renée and one of her tenants
"Yes," I reply, beating all records of concision, encouraged by his own brevity and by the absence of any "please," which the use of the interrogative conditional did not, in my opinion, entirely redeem.
Now, if I stopped right there you would think "What a snob" and you would be right. But in conclusion Renée says
The prospect that this evening Pierre Arthens will sit at his dinner table and entertain his family with a witty remark about his concierge's indignation over the mention of an incunabulum (no doubt she imagined that this was something improper) delights me no end. God knows which one of us looks more the fool.
Emphasis mine. Renée is not entirely unselfaware, it seems, and I would have been far more interested in seeing more of that woman than the interminably pedagogical lecturer on Life, Art and the Universe. But alas, I got way more of the latter. There are some nice characters, like Renée's best friend Manuela, and the tenant's daughter who wants to be a vet, and way-too-good-to-be-true Kaguro with his Mozart-playing toilet, and even Paloma, whose choice of best friends I heartily applaud (and deeply regret her one-time, late-in-the-book appearance), although Paloma is every bit as bad as Renée at lecturing me.
But lord. What a slog to get to any of those things, including the end.