So I've always been a little embarrassed that I've never read this book. It's a classic and probably the most famous book to come out of my home sate...moreSo I've always been a little embarrassed that I've never read this book. It's a classic and probably the most famous book to come out of my home sate of Alabama. If there's anyone out there who hasn't read it - it's a classic for a reason. I listened to it & read it (depending on if I was in my car or not). Sissy Spacek narrates the audio book in our collection. Now to watch the movie! (less)
I couldn't put this book down. Louisa is an ordinary girl in a small town. When she loses her job she goes to work as a home care assistant to Will Tr...moreI couldn't put this book down. Louisa is an ordinary girl in a small town. When she loses her job she goes to work as a home care assistant to Will Traynor, a quadriplegic. Before Will's accident he lived a big life, big deals, worldwide travel, extreme sports. Will already has a nurse to care for his medical needs, Louisa is there to cheer up a very bitter, enraged Will. Moyes make you care about both Louisa and Will and the relationship that develops between them.(less)
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born wit...moreOne of the best books I've read this year.
I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse.
August Pullman was born with a rare, severe facial deformity. He has been home schooled, but now he is starting the 5th grade at Beecher Prep. This books follows Auggie through that year and is told from Auggie's point of view as well as that of his friends, his sister, and her friends. It's a story about kindness, friendship, and acceptance.
While this book was written for 4th - 7th graders all ages - including adults will enjoy this book.
I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives. -August Pullman (less)
The latest in Child's Tea Shop mystery series is a decent read, comparable to the rest of the series.
Delaine Dish has finally found someone who will m...moreThe latest in Child's Tea Shop mystery series is a decent read, comparable to the rest of the series.
Delaine Dish has finally found someone who will marry her, but just before the wedding the groom is found dead under suspicious circumstances. Naturally Delaine demands that Theo investigate the murder. Ghost hunters and last minute cooking for an Historic Charleston house tour (it seems every other book has one) add to the mix as Theo investigates.
Child's tea recipes and tea party themes at the end make you want to try the recipes.(less)
Missing animals, vandalism and murder highlight the newest Meg Langslow mystery in Caerphilly, VA.
As assistant director of the Un-Fair, Meg has to de...moreMissing animals, vandalism and murder highlight the newest Meg Langslow mystery in Caerphilly, VA.
As assistant director of the Un-Fair, Meg has to deal with high maintenance contestants, lax volunteers, the many Schiffleys and Clay County rivals for future Fairs, in addition to a sabotaged murder investigation.
Satisfying addition to the series with a well done storyline.(less)
Musician David Byrne provides his insight into various aspects of music. The title is appropriately vague, as Byrne does not limit himself to discussing one aspect of music. He considers the way music affects people on an emotional level, musical traditions from around the world, the way it is produced and distributed, and how those methods have changed over the decades. He also reflects, at some length, about his personal experiences in the music world, both as a member of Talking Heads, and as a solo artist. Byrne keeps his tone light and conversational, and his book is a pleasure to read. Byrne's personality might be described by some of his former band mates as somewhat prickly, but none of that comes across in his narrative voice. It is neither a scholarly investigation of music as an art form, nor the memoir of an industry insider, but manages to combine elements of both into a thoroughly enjoyable reading experience.
The last book by Maeve Binchy (the author died in 2012 just after finishing the book) does not disappoint. “A Week in Winter” is set in Stoneybridge, a small town on the west coast of Ireland. Chicky Starr, recently returned from the United States, decides to take an old run-down mansion and recreate it as an inn. Chicky is helped by Rigger (a bad boy who is improved by the hard work) and Orla (Chicky’s niece who is good at business).
The beginning of the story focuses on Chicky, Rigger & Orla and the creation of the inn. The second part of the book is more a series of short stories and less a novel; focusing on the story of each guest who comes to Stone House Inn the first week it is opened. The book is full of Ms. Binchy’s warmth, humor and storytelling talent. If I could change the book in any way it would be make it longer, so I could learn more about each guest and enjoy reading the book just a little longer. A definite must-read for any Maeve Binchy fans.(less)
On Nick and Amy’s fifth anniversary, Amy goes missing. As readers we don’t know what happened that morning, but we do know that Nick is keeping things from the police. The story alternates between Nick after the disappearance and excerpts from Amy’s diary during their marriage. Each tells a story of a marriage gone very wrong. Flynn’s writing kept me on the edge of my seat. I knew things weren’t what they seemed, and I had to keep reading to find out the truth. (less)
There’s a lot of information flying around out here on the Internet. News and tweets and memes and ads… even book reviews. More than ever, we are inundated with a seemingly-constant stream of ideas and opinions and more than a little mindless drivel. Now imagine that the stream really is constant, that you have literally no way to ever separate yourself from it, and that it doesn’t appear before you on a screen, but in your mind. That’s the nature of the Internet in M.T. Anderson’s cyberpunk dystopia “Feed”. In the not-so-very-distant future, most people have had the titular service installed directly into their brains. This allows everyone constant contact with everyone else (they can instant message their thoughts), but also turns their heads into receivers for endless streams of news, entertainment, and advertising. And not surprisingly, it has turned most of humanity into semi-cognizant, barely-literate, slobbering morons. Anyone that does not have the Feed—or who is not wholly dependent on it—is generally seen as weird and dangerous. Our protagonist (though he isn’t very pro-active) is Titus, one of the nearly brain-dead. With seemingly great difficulty due to his limited vocabulary, Titus narrates how he befriends Violet, a girl who chooses to defy the Feed. Their adventures—which involve computer viruses uploaded directly into the brain, farms that grow meat in the ground like vegetables, and an argument about whether air factories are better than trees—lead the eternally-baffled Titus to almost begin to think for himself. Almost. But then tragedy strikes, as it must in these cautionary tales of technology gone horribly wrong. “Feed” is quite a solid satire of our own media-obsessed culture. It manages to be relevant without become uncomfortably preachy, and is at turns funny, scary, and very sad. If you don’t mind a narrator who is a bigoted ignoramus, then definitely check this book out! (less)
August Strindberg is one of the most influential and popular playwrights Sweden has ever produced. His work often mixes elements of tragedy and comedy, and have had a major influence on successive writers and film-makers, perhaps most notably on fellow Swede Ingmar Bergman, whose films are personal favorites of mine. In fact, it was the work of Bergman that led me to Strindberg, and this book. As the title suggests, five of Strindberg’s best-known works (though there are many other popular choices that could have been included) are collected here. These plays range in style from Naturalist dramas (Creditors, 1888) to fairy tales (Swanwhite, 1901), and tend to deal with themes of love and hate, betrayal and spiritual longing. My personal favorite in this collection is The Dance of Death, a sort of psychological horror story. It is a somewhat humorous but extremely dark look into the life of an aging couple, locked in a bitter cycle of cruelty and hatred for each other. Throughout the play, they trade vicious insults and accusations, gradually destroying themselves and each other emotionally. Far worse, they attempt to manipulate the people around them as pawns in their endless war. If that sounds nightmarish, well it is, but it’s also something of a satire. Not everything here is that dark, but shadows of human cruelty seem to lurk within most of Strindberg’s work. If that sounds appealing to you, then I cannot recommend this book enough. (Try also A Dream Play, an excellent piece not included in this volume.)(less)
The newest installment in the Rachel Morgan series does not disappoint. The demon realm is shrinking from a hole in the ever after, made when Rachel escaped from a perilous situation in an earlier book, and the powers that be give her a very short time to fix it. Complications arise when an demonic adversary makes the hole worse and destroys her chances to fix it in the time given. With the help of her friends and colleagues , Rachel works against the clock to save both the demon and human world.
For those who have been following Rachel from book 1 “Dead Witch Walking”, she comes a long way from her life as a witch and bounty hunter in the IS (Inderland Runner Services), chasing supernatural lawbreakers throughout Cincinnati to her current life as she follows her roots to the demon realm. This series not only gives a glimpse of a world with humans living side by side with supernatural beings, but also their complex relationships with each other.(less)
I finished the book, The Last Runaway, over the long holiday weekend and loved it! The story is set primarily in Ohio (our neighbor to the south - very close) during the 1850's and the "last runaway" refers to the Quakers' attempts to assist as many runaway slaves as possible to get to freedom in Canada using the Underground Railroad. The book explores the complex attitudes of the Quakers toward slavery, the mindset of "slave catchers" and one young woman's long journey from England to the Midwest (in the 1850's the Midwest was considered the WEST, however). The theme of quilting as a skill and as a mental refuge for main character and Quaker Honor Bright takes center stage in this story. Tracy Chevalier also wrote Girl with a Pearl Earring and Remarkable Creatures. Enjoy!
Quiet goes back and forth between Susan Cain's case studies (based off her own life, friends', and interviews), and psychologists' scientific research that provide quantitative evidence and explanation for individuals' experiences. Many self-help, personality, and psychology books for the consumer follow this formula, and I think Cain does a fairly good job of not letting her research be solely to back up the experiences of the individuals she interviews. The research she did was extensive in scope and depth, and my view of this was reinforced when I read her bio and realized she has been doing research on introverts for years. Examining the traits of an introvert is difficult because not only are there many factors in the why, such as nature and nurture, but also in the how; it can be thought of on a spectrum of introvert vs. extrovert, but one that has several axes, creating a complicated map of traits. When the complexity increases, having defined terms is a must, and that is where (for me, at least) some of Cain's explanations became confusing. Some of the traits the scientific studies defined were not introvertedness, or extrovertedness, but "highly reactive" and "low reactive" (one example, but there are more) which had correlations to in/extroverdedness. I would have benefited from tables or graphs showing the quantitative data, but then again, I guess that is not the type of book Cain set out to write. Overall, it was validation for me (being an introvert)to know that there are others out there who also get overwhelmed at parties, being around people all day, or just prefer to study in silence versus playing music in the background. It also struck me as amusing that the multiple qualities that correlate to introvertedness can be charted in a matrix that is similar to the Meyer Briggs, or even in astrology (the factors of earth, air, water, or fire pairing with fixed, cardinal, or mutable and then positive or negative). Perhaps we have known these traits and tendencies all along, and this study provides different terms. Cain adds credibility when including the quantitative data that is what makes the book work.(less)
"A Wrinkle in Time" is a special book. Originally published in 1962, it helped to define the focus and tone of much of young adult literature for generations to come, and yet it somehow remains completely unique. Perhaps this is due to the way L’Engle blends elements of fantasy and science fiction with complex philosophical questions. In the tradition of the best science fiction, this is a book about ideas as much as it is a great story.
Our protagonist is Meg, an intelligent but insecure high school student. Accompanied by her friend Calvin and her brilliant but misunderstood little brother, Charles Wallace, Meg is ushered into a cosmic journey by three “Witches”. Meg is only interested in rescuing her missing father from some unknown fate. But she soon learns that to do so, she will be forced to encounter an ancient evil, one that enshrouds entire planets in darkness and threatens existence itself.
If you enjoy this first adventure of Meg and her friends, L'Engle later wrote three worthy sequels (A Wind at the Door, Many Waters, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet) as well as a spin-off series set a generation later. (less)
W. W. Norton & Company’s series of annotated classics never disappoints, but this particular installment is my favorite. Editor Maria Tatar presents new translations of 37 of the Brothers Grimm’s collected fairy tales as well as 9 “Tales for Adults”, works that were deemed by the Brothers too saucy or violent to include in a tome intended for children*. The fairy tales that Tatar chose to include (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm collected well over 200 such stories from the German people throughout their lifetimes) vary from the well-known “Rapunzel” and “Snow White” to the nearly-forgotten “The Star Talers” and “Furrypelts”. Regardless of continued popularity, however, each tale is fascinating both for its own merits, as well as for the excellent commentary provided by the editor. Each tale is prefaced by a brief introduction and also includes extensive notes (conveniently printed in the generous side margins), which discuss various matters, such as a story’s known or conjectured origins, its cultural impact, and the significance of certain events or images among other things. A combination of black and white etchings and full color paintings are beautifully reproduced within the book, adding to the overall attractiveness of the volume.
Though Tatar has clearly done a great deal of research, her writing is very accessible. One need not be a professional folklorist to appreciate this book. I found it a treat to read these classic childhood tales in something more closely resembling the form in which they would have been told, mostly orally amongst the German people of the eighteenth century. Though the Grimms’ original work was titled Kinder –und Hausmarchen (Children’s and Household Tales), much included here would not be considered suitable bedtime fare for modern children. Tatar discusses how, even during their own lifetimes, the Brothers Grimm recognized the commercial viability of the collection and toned down many of the tales’ saltiest moments in successive editions. They also recognized that children enjoy when villains get their comeuppance and consequently increased and sensationalized much of the violence with each edition too. The tales in this collection are primarily translated from the Grimms’ seventh and final edition, and they are considerably darker and more violent than most modern adaptations.
For anyone interested in folklore and the influence it has on culture, this book will be an excellent reading experience.
*See How the Children Played Butcher with Each Other for clarification.