I have no idea what to write about this book. What's interesting to me is that I really had a hard time putting it down, but I didn't actually like itI have no idea what to write about this book. What's interesting to me is that I really had a hard time putting it down, but I didn't actually like it very much. I just truly don't know what to think about it. Or rather, I have a lot of thoughts on it, and they are all very disjointed. Maybe a list would help. In no particular order:
1. Usually when you have something like the 9-year-old in this book, at some point in the story, the strange repository of knowledge or ability to tell the future is at least explained. It wasn't AT ALL clear how/why/wha??? 2. Lots and lots of Catholic imagery. Which wasn't bad, but I didn't get much of it because I was raised protestant. 3. What was the deal with the ghosts ... or whatever they were? Is that a standard-issue Catholic thing, or ... what? And again, why weren't they explained at some point? 4. What was the point of Audrey of the B.O.? 5. Am I the only person who thought "Catherine Wheels" was a person? (Don't google it. Just read the book. I mean it) 6. I guess ... I didn't buy it. Maybe that's it. I'm not buying what you're selling, Leif Peterson. 7. I often wonder if I had read a book like this in class with discussions and lots of time, if I'd understand it better. I'm the girl who never got the imagery, the symbolism, the foreshadowing. I got the obvious stuff, of course, but ... yeah, this book just confused me. 8. And I hate weirded out theology, I guess. That bugs me.
I did like this, though: "Women cry for a lot of reasons, Thomas. Sometimes we don't even know why."...more
What a wonderful book! So odd to read it after Infidel, though. I was thinking I just wanted something "lite" to follow that -- and it was definitelyWhat a wonderful book! So odd to read it after Infidel, though. I was thinking I just wanted something "lite" to follow that -- and it was definitely "lighter", but interesting to think about preparing for marriage in this book when I'd read quite a bit about it in *that* book.
I loved the hunger to learn, I loved the girls banding together (multiple times), instead of turning "Mean Girls", I loved Britta, I loved "quarry-speak", I loved Doter and Frid, I loved the learning of "commerce" .... gosh, this was a good book.
For me, it's the more-interesting-girl-version of Heroes of the Valley, and I wonder if anyone else who has read both would also think similarly of the two books, or at least if this one reminds them of that one. I already SMSd Jen to see what she thought :)
I'm recommending this to my neighbor. I know she wants to read romance novels and other Twilight crap, but hopefully she'd like this if I recommend it. Or buy it for Christmas.
Oh yes, and at some point in the book, you will be saying, "USE QUARRY SPEAK!" At the time I was reading it, I thought, "I must put that in my review" :)
Edited to add my SMS conversation with Jen: Me: You've read Princess Academy, right? Did it remind you at all of Heroes of the Valley? She: Hmmm ... I dunno. I've read it a few times and heroes didn't remind me of academy at the time. What seems similar to you? Me: Mountain, small village, away from the rest of the world but connected to them too, small person as main character, triumph, leadership, lowlanders, vaguely Viking/Scandinavian ... She: I see you have a list :)
... so now still I'm curious to hear what others think. If you've read both, did either make you think of the other?...more
I just need to say that I'm confused about the era in which this book is set and that fact that it's a YA book written in the last several years. I doI just need to say that I'm confused about the era in which this book is set and that fact that it's a YA book written in the last several years. I don't think the vast majority of YA readers would understand much of the references, unless American schools now have big units of study on the Vietnam Era. That said, I have to review this as I read it, because .... well, that's who did. And I loved it.
Seriously, this was wonderful. I mean really, really wonderful. There are things this author says which are EXACTLY what I have thought, only a whole lot funnier. Like:
[Holling's Mom]: "I'm sure that Mrs. Baker is a fine person, and she certainly does not hate your guts."
How do parents get to where they can say things like this? There must be some gene that switches on at the birth of the firstborn child, and suddenly stuff like that starts to come out of their mouths. It's like they haven't figured out that the language you're using is English and they should be able to understand what you're saying. Instead, you pull a string on them, and a bad record plays.
I guess they can't help it.
Half of Holling's class goes to Hebrew School on Wednesday afternoons, and the other half goes to the Catholic church (for catechism class, I assume but don't remember?). Since he's a Presbyterian, he gets stuck hanging out with Mrs. Baker every Wednesday, and his "because I'm a Presbyterian" comments throughout the book are absolutely hilarious. Just one example: "Still, you would have thought that since all this was happening because I was a Presbyterian, God would have seen to it that the Yankees would have played in the World Series to pay me back for my persecution. But were they? Of course not. The world isn't fair that way. The Boston Red Sox were playing instead."
There are lots more things I could quote and I need to say a million times that I love Mrs. Baker, but I'll just quote this because it's good life advice for all of us:
"Two things," she said. "First, learn to diagram sentences -- and it is rude to roll your eyes, Holling. Learn everything you can -- everything. And then use all that you have learned to grow up to be a wise and good man. That's the first thing. ..."
Also? This book made me want to read more Shakespeare.
I didn't dislike this book, and for historical fiction it went superfast, but I also felt like it was trying to give me a feminist agenda. Sadly, it dI didn't dislike this book, and for historical fiction it went superfast, but I also felt like it was trying to give me a feminist agenda. Sadly, it didn't even do that well, so was just sort of "meh". I mean, it was interesting. And the few twists in the plot caught my attention, but overall, I didn't even get what happened at the very end. I didn't really understand why the author wrote in such a convoluted manner. For example, when the aunt is "found out", it's all back assward in terms of how she writes it. I truly didn't understand her thought process there.
Another confusing thing to me was two different "childhood" memories of Jane's. In both, the author has Jane questioning her memory of the events. I thought she might be trying to say something, since her memory of the Boston Massacre is critical in the courtroom, but it doesn't really go anywhere. It's like she had a point, and then lost it. If it were a movie, I'd say her point ended up on the cutting room floor.
And Phinnie? Pleh. So lame and spineless and ... do we even know what his beliefs are? Did the author even ever say that Phinnie is short for Phineas? I don't know about other readers, but he was wholly uncompelling.
There were a few well-written parts where the author has keen insight into real life and people, like "... it being her experience that the tavern had never improved a bad mood and indeed often ate up a good one." And "Phinnie bowed deeply before Jane -- nothing like the quick dip of the head Jane had gotten used to in Satucket, but she responded with her usual country version and let him think of her as he liked. Jane's thought was that a person should be of one place or another..."
I felt like the author actually made a great point accidentally -- certainly it wasn't clear that it was her point, but I loved this part: "I was her concern. If they hanged a man for a thing he did not do, it might be because of a thing she did not say. It didn't matter who Captain Preston was or what he stood for or even whether or not Jane liked him, although, in fact, she did."
And my favorite part of this book was really the grandparents. These comments warmed my heart and made me think of my own husband: "Was this the thing that made her marriage what it was, this life in her, this strength? Was this what gave her such an unfettered voice in that marriage? Perhaps, Jane thought, but part must come from a husband strong enough in himself to greet such life without attempting to beat it down, to silence it."
This book was perfectly fine, but that's about it. And honestly, it really just made me want to re-read Johnny Tremain....more
This is my new favorite Dickens. Actually, I didn't have a favorite Dickens before, but I should have; given all the Dickens we read in one of my bookThis is my new favorite Dickens. Actually, I didn't have a favorite Dickens before, but I should have; given all the Dickens we read in one of my book clubs in the last year or two, but frankly, I'm not much of a fan. I've always mostly liked "A Tale of Two Cities", but not enough to call it a favorite of anything. Well, now I have one. And I think it'll be an annual read.
I've seen a few movies of this, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts show a couple times, but I realized I've never read this, so was very glad it was this book club's December pick.
During book club I started singing the song from the 1970 musical, which no one else knew, so had to post this link on Facebook for the girls.
I think this, more than ... well, anything else of his I've read, shows his real talent with words. One of the girls at book club said he wrote this when his wife was pregnant with another child and they needed money. Even when being "mercenary", the man still excels at his craft. In fact, I remember from the other books we read in BBC, that his chapters were all monthly installments in magazine/newspapers. If that was the case, this was probably a single, stand alone story, and I honestly think it's better because of the brevity. There's none of the telling and re-telling in this that there is in, say Martin Chuzzlewit, nor the prodigiously long descriptions of nothing as in Great Expectations. At no point reading this did I think, "get on with it!" as I have in all the other Dickens I've read. Frankly, it could have gone on a little longer for me, and I'd have been quite happy.
Here's an example of the wordcraft: "Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire..." See what he does there? It's not enough to say that Scrooge was hard as flint -- he talks about flint giving out fire -- what it does -- as a generous act! Love it!
Beyond the humor in this, I think about the fact that I'd like to get to know pretty much every character in the book better (I'm looking at you, horrible Martin Chuzzlewit, in which I didn't care for a single. person. in. the. entire. book.). There were characters I barely remembered from the shows I've seen, like Scrooge's nephew, for example. He invites his uncle to Christmas dinner every year! And will keep doing so! He also refuses to say a bad word about Scrooge. I didn't remember/know that both the first 2 ghosts quoted his own words back to Scrooge. It was so perfectly done!
I giggled (and posted on Facebook) at "... darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it."
And then there was the profound. In looking at the mass of ghosts, the commentary is "The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever." I was also reminded of my favorite verse of the hymn "O For a Thousand Tongues" - it's
Hear him, ye deaf His praise, ye dumb your loosened tongues employ Ye blind, behold your savior come, and leap ye lame for joy
in the Tiny Tim quote about attending church: He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see. Beyond that, in our time at book club, our friend Carey full-on preached a mini message to us about what we are to learn from Scrooge's story. For a book to draw out such good discussion, it must be very well done, I think.
I also thought in reading this that -- I hope -- Mr. Dickens knew good friends and family. I think it would be too difficult to have written this without them. Lines like It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that while there is infection in desease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good-humour.
I said a couple times at book club that in this book in particular, I thought Dickens sort of had a style about him that reminded me of present-day bloggers. There were several stream-of-consciousness phrases/sentences that sounded bloggy to me, and then at the end, the clear "... and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father..." I just got a kick out of that :)
I'll end with Scrooge's pledge, as it's a worthy one and one I don't want to forget: "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."...more
Wow. What to call this? Fantasy? Yes. A love story? Absolutely, complete with star-crossed lovers. What else? A little bit of sci-fi maybe? CertainlyWow. What to call this? Fantasy? Yes. A love story? Absolutely, complete with star-crossed lovers. What else? A little bit of sci-fi maybe? Certainly the alchemistic nature of the book lends itself that way a bit (although maybe that's just what Fantasy is?). It's also fairly literary -- not as much as, say, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, but in that vein.
Certainly Ms. Morgenstern carries a soft spot in her heart for Shakespeare. Only as far into the book as page 10, I was stumped by an obvious but unrecognizable literary reference I had to look up. Since it's from The Tempest, which I never read, I didn't feel so bad not knowing it, but it bothered me that I didn't :) And of course the star-crossed lover component is a nod to Romeo and Juliet. There's more in this book, complete with a line I liked enough to mark before I sat down and even thought about all the Shakespearean references in this. I just thought it was clever: (** spoiler alert **)
"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy," Celia quotes at him. "Please, no Shakespeare." "I am haunted by the ghost of my father, I think that should allow me to quote Hamlet as much as I please."
See? Clever :) (End ** spoiler alert **)
This book has a bit of everything, but not in the throw-it-all-in-for-extra-credit way. Rather, there are things in here to charm everyone and things the author threw in as little treats. If you're looking, you'll catch them. If not; that's ok too. It's sort of like a circus in that way -- there is something for everyone at a circus. One person likes the animals, one person likes the music. One person likes the food, and one person likes the magic. There's humor and seriousness -- just as at a circus. Certainly performing with the big cats has a level of heaviness that can't be ignored. So with this book. One of the things I appreciated in the book were some of the (very brief) light-hearted moments. For example, when Poppet and Widget are discussing Poppet's conversation with Bailey, she says that she tried to explain it as well as she could. She's not totally clear on the interchange, and says that she thinks she made an analogy about cake (!). "Well, that must have worked," Widget says. "Who doesn't like a good cake analogy?" That made me giggle, and I re-read it about 5 times.
There's really lovely use of words in this book. This author appreciates them. She doesn't use them frivolously; just carefully. She's also written quite a few quotable things, like, "The finest of pleasures are always the unexpected ones."
This book really stayed with me -- when I was about halfway through, I thought about it pretty much non-stop until I picked it up again. That hardly ever happens, no matter how much I'm enjoying a book. Even 24 hours after I finished it, I'm still thinking about the circus, and Herr Thiessen in particular (although why didn't she spell his first name "Friedrich"?). To be fair, it must be noted that there are long -- really long -- passages of description that are just hard to picture. Perhaps a more literal reader would actually be able to picture or sketch out the descriptions, but I found some of them a little tedious. But all in all, I really enjoyed this.
I love that I don't read much about books -- I just read them or don't as they come across my path. This one, for example, is written by a women who went to school with one of the girls in my book club. She saw it in the alumni magazine and bought us all a copy so we could read it. I didn't know anything about it other than that. But now I see this title everywhere, and it's evidently gotten a lot of hype. I'm glad I knew nothing about that and just read it. And liked it.
I'm not sure everyone would like this, but there are definitely a few I am fairly certain would, and I'll try to list them in the "recommendation" section....more
Another well-written nonfiction book that reads like a novel. Interestingly, for such a heavy subject, she handled it so well that I didn't feel totalAnother well-written nonfiction book that reads like a novel. Interestingly, for such a heavy subject, she handled it so well that I didn't feel totally and completely depressed when I was finished. A little heavy-hearted, sure. But not hopeless like I did at the end of What is the What?
This book brings up so many things I have questioned and wondered about that I'm sure I will be mulling it over for weeks and months to come. It's also totally fascinating to me since so much of it takes place in Holland, where my father was from.
There's no need for me to "review" this to tell people what it's about. That can be learned from the book blurb. And if I started quoting passages, I'd just re-copy pretty much the entire book. So I'll just say that this is a powerful book, it makes you think, and it's really well-written in general. And it makes me (again) wish I'd spend more time on languages in my lazy school life.
The one question I had which quick Googling didn't really answer was near the beginning -- she talks about an Ied Festival. I assume that was just a typo and it was really referencing the festival of Eid. But much later in the book, it also references Eid, so now I'm not sure. I thought about registering it on Typoze.com, but the fact is that so many words like that have multiple spellings (think of all the spellings of Mohammed, even in this book) in the Muslim world that I'm not sure. I even asked on Twitter, but didn't get an answer. Of course, Googling the letters "i e d" just gets the weapon IED, so that wasn't much help. Anyway, it's just a curious thing in my brain and something I'd like to know.
That said, this was an amazing book to read. I appreciated the author's comments in the beginning about being estranged from her family and not being able to corroborate her memories. It seemed that in her journey to honesty and frankness, this was something else necessary for her to include in the book. Well done, Ms. Ali. She's a legitimate spiritual "seeker", which I also found compelling. I hope she finds peace....more
I always thought I hated non fiction, but in fact, I just didn't like boring non-fiction. Well-written nonfic can be as good as any riveting novel...I always thought I hated non fiction, but in fact, I just didn't like boring non-fiction. Well-written nonfic can be as good as any riveting novel... Funny thing is this was recommended by one of my friends from book club, so even though I claim not to like nonfic, I do trust her judgment, and requested it from the library. Then I got behind on library reading and had to renew FOUR books. Turns out there's a waiting list on this so it has to go back. Guess which of the 4 I read first?
Saving here so I can shut down and restart my computer. More later.
ohmyword, it's the day this book is due and I need to run to the library! So ... rather than a deep and thoughtful review, I'm just writing some basic thoughts and quotes from this book. But do not let the sloppiness of this review trick you into thinking this isn't a good book. It is a Very. Good. Book. And because it covers something most of us don't know much about, I recommend it to all thinking humans.
Quoting: (A statistic one often sees quoted is that the economic disparity between the Koreas is at least four times greater than that between East and West Germany at the time of German reunification in 1990).
Whether they were studying math, science, reading, music, or art, the children were taught to revere the leadership and hate the enemy. For example, a first-grade math book contained the following questions: "Eight boys and nine girls are singing anthems in praise of Kim Il-sung. How many children are singing in total?"
In order to get through the 1990s alive, one had to suppress any impulse to share food. To avoid going insane, one had to learn to stop caring. In time, [redacted] would learn how to walk around a dead body on the street without paying much notice. She could pass a five-year-old on the verge of death without feeling obliged to help. If she wasn't going to share her food with her favorite pupil, she certainly wasn't going to help a perfect stranger.
Among the homeless population, a disproportionate number were children or teenagers. In some cases, their parents had gone off in search of jobs or food. But there was another, even stranger, explanation. Facing a food shortage, many North Korean families conducted a brutal triage of their own households -- they denied themselves and often elderly grandparents food in order to keep the younger generation alive. That strategy produced an unusual number of orphans, as the children were often the last ones left of entire families that had perished.
It goes first for the most vulnerable -- children under five. They come down with a cold and it turns to pneumonia; diarrhea turns into dysentery. Before the parents even think about getting help, the child is dead. Next the killer turns to the aged, starting with those over seventy, then working its way down the decades to people in their sixties and fifties... Then starvation makes its way through people in the prime of their lives. Men, because they have less body fat, usually perish before women. The strong and athletic are especially vulnerable because their metabolisms burn more calories. Yet another gratuitous cruelty: the killer targets the most innocent, the people who would never steal food, lie, cheat, break the law, or betray a friend. It was a phenomenon that the Italian writer Primo Levi identified after emerging from Auschwitz, when he wrote that he and his fellow survivors never wanted to see one another again after the war because they had all done something of which they were ashamed.
... it was the "simple and kindhearted people who did what they were told -- they were the first to die."
But now she couldn't deny what was staring her plainly in the face: dogs in China ate better than doctors in North Korea.
As I typed those quotes, I realize they're pretty depressing and make it sound like a real downer of a book. Sure, it's heavy (and totally incongruous to be reading about famine over Thanksgiving in the U.S.), but it's so well done and so interestingly told that it was really fascinating to read.
I'll end with these two powerful comments from the book:
"It is axiomatic that one death is a tragedy, a thousand is a statistic."
"It has been said that people reared in communist countries cannot fend for themselves because they expect the government to take care of them."...more
This was very good. I'll admit that even as I was racing through it, thoroughly enjoying it, a part of me was scared I'd be disappointed as I was in tThis was very good. I'll admit that even as I was racing through it, thoroughly enjoying it, a part of me was scared I'd be disappointed as I was in the epilogue of Bel Canto.
I wasn't :)
It's possible some might read this one as overly PC and isn't it nice the great white hope adopted the little black boys, but that's not how I read it. I took it at face value and enjoyed it. And I liked the father far more than I'd have thought I would because of it.
The only thing I'd have changed was the odd dream sequence during Tennessee's surgery.
These books where the author manages to make the kids sound real are so entertaining! I can actually hear my nieces and nephews saying/thinking the thThese books where the author manages to make the kids sound real are so entertaining! I can actually hear my nieces and nephews saying/thinking the things Jerry and Rachel say and do. This was charming, even though I was disappointed that this was going to be a dog book when I found out.
Loved it and am surprised I'd never read it, given how much of Eleanor Estes' titles I read as a child.
I just remembered that I liked this sentence and Jen said I had to include it in my review: "... Wally Bullwinkle ... was studying Ginger with a sly and furtive mien."...more
I have no idea what I thought this was when I started reading it. Obviously I knew when I requested it from the library, but that was a long time ago,I have no idea what I thought this was when I started reading it. Obviously I knew when I requested it from the library, but that was a long time ago, and I'd forgotten. So it was a little surprising to find that it was an imagined retelling of Princess Diana's story, if she'd not really died and had instead faked her own death and escaped to America [not a spoiler].
And I have to say that I loved the idea of it, but the execution was a bit weak. Or maybe it was just that this was ... badly edited. I mean, I liked it, for the most part, and read it cover to cover in a day, but it wasn't really very well done and I had to sit and wait for my husband multiple times today, so it's not like I didn't have the time to read it.
Interesting? Absolutely. Great idea? Most definitely. Execution? Not so great. Perhaps with a better editor, but really, there just could have been more, all the way around.
And really, the spelling "numskull" -- even though approved of by dictionary.com -- made me crazy.
Also, I honestly have no idea what happened at the end. And I don't care enough to re-read the last few pages and figure it out. So while it was interesting and a quick read and good for a beach or back deck, that's about all it is. And I'm thankful the library was willing to share it with me :)...more
I really, really, really loved this book. I recently complained about dog books on Twitter -- I really hate them because the dog ALWAYS dies in them -I really, really, really loved this book. I recently complained about dog books on Twitter -- I really hate them because the dog ALWAYS dies in them -- and a friend suggested this one. Why? Because
"I wasn't surprised," I said. "I knew Old Shep was going to die before I started page one."
"Don't be ridiculous," the teacher snapped. "How?"
I shrugged. "Because the dog always dies. Go to the library and pick out a book with an award sticker and a dog on the cover. Trust me, that dog is going down."
That is the whole point behind the book, and the dog doesn't die in it :) It's cute and it's charming and it's funny and even teaches a few good lessons. It could use an editor, but on the other hand, it actually sounds like it was written by an 8th-grade boy.
And at the bottom of the "Cast of characters" page, it says, "The characters in this book are fictional. Any resemblance you may find to actual persons or dogs, living or dead, proves that you have a lot of strange friends."
So really, how could I not like this?
I'm left with a question, though - did the author get Julia Roberts' permission for that one thing?...more
Reading these books is so like watching an episode of "Castle" that I went to bed last night thinking I had watched half of an episode on the DVR andReading these books is so like watching an episode of "Castle" that I went to bed last night thinking I had watched half of an episode on the DVR and I could watch the rest today. I think I liked this one best of the "Heat" series, and I liked the easy relationship Nikki and Rook have in this one.
As I tweeted "WriteRCastle" last night, I appreciated the correct use of "comprised" in this but was equally disappointed in the weird use of "Kumbaya". Other than that, this was a quick, fun read, and it's weird that the whole story is pretty much the equivalent of one episode of the show....more
When I first started this book, I thought it was awfully clever and rather charming. Made me think of the Jasper Fforde books in terms of cleverness,When I first started this book, I thought it was awfully clever and rather charming. Made me think of the Jasper Fforde books in terms of cleverness, word play, and literalness (?). But halfway in, I got tired of it and just wanted it to be done. I think if I'd read it as a child, I'd have liked it better. I mean, I *was* the homonym champion in my class (that is, my list of homonyms was the longest). And this book is LOADED with them. This could be a really good book for slowing down a child who reads too fast, I think.
Anyway, it was fine and parts were entertaining, but for me it went on too long. The only thing I marked still looked interesting once I was done reading, so I'll quote it here. It's in Milo's interaction with Faintly macabre, the not-so-wicked Which (notice she is not a witch). She talks about how at first she did her best to make sure that "... only the most proper and fitting words were used. Everything was said clearly and simply and no words were wasted." But soon she grew miserly and wanted to keep as many words to herself as possible. The thing that made me go hmmmm: "That was all many years ago," she continued; "but they never appointed a new Which, and that explains why today people use as many words as they can and think themselves very wise for doing so. For always remember that while it is wrong to use too few, it is often far worse to use too many."...more
It's interesting, this book. I thought Firefly Lane was so well done ... So when someone mentioned they thought this one was actually her best book, IIt's interesting, this book. I thought Firefly Lane was so well done ... So when someone mentioned they thought this one was actually her best book, I requested it from the library.
Sure, it was interesting. And sure, I read it in only a couple of sittings. But it really just felt like a romance novel to me. And there were far more characters to dislike than like, so ... it was just "meh" for me....more
Book is due at the library, I'm going out of town for the weekend, and it's on "hold" so I can't renew it. I'm pasting these tweets for a reminder andBook is due at the library, I'm going out of town for the weekend, and it's on "hold" so I can't renew it. I'm pasting these tweets for a reminder and/or at least *some* comments in the form of a review. Mostly depressing but it did get better at the end.
Is it just me, or are dog books always a little weird? Currently reading "The Art of Racing in the Rain", also thinking of "Edgar Sawtelle".
Yes! This! Why do they DO that?! RT @LauraliLea: @Antof9 I usually refuse to read dog books because the dog dies in most of them.
@zugenia: @LauraliLea @Antof9 D once replied to my asking if "this is a sad movie," "It's about a dog. It's either going to die or play a sport."
@daisycakes: @Antof9 @LauraliLea Try Gordon Korman's No More Dead Dogs. That's exactly the premise. amazon.com/More-Dead-Dogs…
Definition of opposite of "I couldn't put it down": same title for two #fridayreads in a row. "The Art of Racing in the Rain" for me.
Wow. This was very ... very... good. I didn't like it at first -- I think Doug's voice was actually TOO good, and I didn't really want to read a wholeWow. This was very ... very... good. I didn't like it at first -- I think Doug's voice was actually TOO good, and I didn't really want to read a whole book written by an 8th grade punk. And then it became SO SO good.
The layers ... and Mr. Ferris, and James Russell and Otis Bottom, and eccentric Mrs. Windemere and .... I literally couldn't put this down. I started it at about 9:15 and finished it at 12:30 tonight -- there was no going to bed before finishing it.
It's heavy - but also has hope. And it deals with a horrible time in our country's history. But it's wonderful. I don't want to give anything away, because the way things are revealed in the book is Just. That. Good. So I'll just say that I loved the town of Marysville - as ingrown and small-minded as it seems -- and all the people in it. Mr. Powell I want to hug. And the .... oh wait. That would require a spoiler alert.
I'm off to request every published book by this author from the library....more
I never know what to think of stories like this. I'm also struck by how life circumstances affect my feelings/opinion about a book. So I'm going to goI never know what to think of stories like this. I'm also struck by how life circumstances affect my feelings/opinion about a book. So I'm going to go with a list:
1. it's a quick read, so whether you like or not, you'll be done with it quickly. I started it yesterday morning and finished it on the back deck this morning with my coffee.
2. I loved the part about praying for the sick and the dying - it's a great reminder/challenge about how/when we should pray, and I felt like it was very real in that he didn't even know what to say or how to pray:
... at that moment, my faith was hanging by a tattered thread and fraying fast. I thought of the times where the Scripture says that God answered the prayers, not of the sick or dying, but of the friends of the sick or dying -- the paralytic, for example. It was when Jesus saw the faith of the man's friends that he told the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." At that moment, I needed to borrow the strength and faith of some other believers.
I think that's a pretty powerful statement and reason why we should pray when others can't, or when others ask us to. It's definitely encouraging.
3. But ... I read this on the night after my niece went back to the hospital from having an appendectomy about 2 weeks before. So it was upsetting and scary and I didn't like that one bit. I'm very concerned for her and worried, and this just made it way worse.
4. There was too much (perceived) product placement in this book. The house smelled like Act II popcorn, they went to Starbucks and Walmart and drove both a Chevy and an Expedition .... who knows if their agent encouraged them to use brand-specificity, or if they subconsciously thought that naming brands would be a good thing, but they seemed mostly distracting and incongruous, unnecessary to the story.
5. One of the reviews I saw complained about all the scripture quoting in this book, which I found interesting as all the scripture quoted (that I remember, anyway) was basically "proving" that what their son described was Biblical and accurate. I'm not sure how I feel about near-death experiences, but at least everything he says the son described he uses a verse or passage to corroborate the kid's story. That's what, frankly, makes it more believable than anything else I've read/heard like this.
6. And yet, all I can think of is that children under 4 don't remember a lot. They might remember a birthday vaguely, or the grownups' retelling of it. And they make up LOTS of stuff. Family history talks about how when I myself was three, I talked a lot about when I was in college. A friend I discussed this with has a niece who constantly talks about a pretend sister. The 4-y.o. niece who lives in town has told me multiple times about a dream she had. Each retelling comes with more embellishments and she tells it like it actually happened. No pauses to think about what else she should insert in the story, no um ... she just tells it.
7. I'm also rather skeptical of how the story unfolded over a couple of years. The revealing of information between the ages of 4 -7? I'm dubious. And yet, they tell it as if it's believable. And clearly, it has brought them some comfort. So who am I to doubt it?
8. It's very simply written. Perhaps so it's accessible? But it felt like I was reading a book intended for 12-year-olds. So there's that.
9. Also -- and perhaps this tainted the book for me more than anything -- I can't help but think people must/will look at this kid like he's a freak. Either positively or negatively, this child is "the kid who went to heaven", and publishing this book pretty much made that the case. I'm not sure I'm a fan for that reason alone....more
This was a very well-written, very strange, strange book. I don't even know what I think about it. The first half was pretty interesting, albeit a bitThis was a very well-written, very strange, strange book. I don't even know what I think about it. The first half was pretty interesting, albeit a bit depressing. The second half right up until the food tasting was full on heartbreaking. I didn't hate this, and in fact it got my "couldn't put it down" tag, but I didn't love it either. And I'd only recommend it to my most quirky-book - loving friends.
The concept of being able to taste people's feelings in the foods they fixed was introduced in such a sad way that I didn't like how I felt about it (which might have been the author's point). If I could give it one more half star, I would for how hopeful I felt at the food tasting. I knew it would be sad - if not from the title, then from the friend's review that made me request it from the library, so it's not like I was surprised. And I still think it's a rather charming title. So there's that.
I just remembered two other things that hit me while I was reading: 1. the first parts of this totally reminded me of the book "Cake", and 2. the writing in the beginning is WAY too grown up for a 9-year-old. Way....more
Good, and hard to put down, but she's done others better. It was sort of a cross between Firefly Lane (which was better), the Laura Linney storyline fGood, and hard to put down, but she's done others better. It was sort of a cross between Firefly Lane (which was better), the Laura Linney storyline from "Love Actually" (but this was better), and something else. Maybe the inconsiderate friend from Something Borrowed (don't ever waste your time reading that crap)?
Anyway, I liked it, and it kept my attention on the plane to Las Vegas and during the Garth Brooks concert my friend went to, but that's about all.
I did like Addie and Jordan, even though I saw that coming a mile away. But the Dan Swansea storyline was weird.
There was some clever writing in here, though. Like after Addie has lost a lot of weight and tries Internet dating:
To get a date on the Internet, a woman had to be many things, starting with thin and proceeding relentlessly to attractive and pleasant and a good listener and good company. Young, of course. Still fertile, still cute, with a good body and a decent job and a supportive (but not instrusive) family. The men didn't even have to be sane.
As I told my friend Rebekkila in the comments to her review of this book, I actually saw a movie made from this several years ago. I'm embarrassed toAs I told my friend Rebekkila in the comments to her review of this book, I actually saw a movie made from this several years ago. I'm embarrassed to admit it was on Lifetime :) What's funny is I really don't watch Lifetime much, if ever, but I distinctly remember this being on late one night while I worked on expense reports in my office. I'm thinking my husband might have been out of town, too (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). I didn't even see the whole thing, which makes me even more annoyed that it's a Lifetime movie, because so far it appears "unreleased" as a movie that can be rented, checked out, or watched On Demand. I kind of want to see it again! Anyway, I remember at the time really liking it, and the women in it. I was also impressed when I read that they all actually gained/lost weight for the movie.
Anyway, it's charming chick lit with a bit of depth. If you've read The Little Lady Agency, it will seem familiar, but not in a bad way. It was fun to read it since I'd seen the movie, and although the movie was fairly true to the story, as expected, there were several things left out that I was glad to come across in the book.
The Nigel storyline left me a bit confused, and the Chester storyline (and perceived fat discrimination which led to the Cinderella pact) was entertaining. There's a bit of Lucy and Ethel or Three's Company in this in terms of wacky things that would never really happen in real life, but it's still fun and charming to read. And also pretty clean, which was nice for chick lit. I'd keep it to read it again but want to send it to a friend I know will love it....more
This book was part "Scumble" and part "The Girl Who Could Fly", and part something else. Maybe the story of Persephone? I'm not sure, honestly. I spedThis book was part "Scumble" and part "The Girl Who Could Fly", and part something else. Maybe the story of Persephone? I'm not sure, honestly. I sped through the majority of the book, which I found creepily fascinating, but when I got to the end, I sort of felt like there was no there there. It didn't seem like any lesson was learned and it wasn't a morality tale ... in fact, it seemed to say that the best way to function is to embrace both your good and bad sides. Or something.
I did like it -- or 7/8ths of it, anyway - it really kept my attention, and it was a well-woven tale. But the deal with Jack's mom not seeing him or speaking to him was upsetting. I did like Wendy and Anders -- a lot -- and they were both very intriguing. Frankie too. But I'm still left puzzling over what I was to think or feel at the end. I'd definitely give this author another try, but I probably won't recommend this one when I think "Scumble" and "Savvy" are better versions of it, and don't really have "dark magic" to mess with, either....more
Hmm ... this book was a cross between "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "The Great Gatsby". I liked it slightly more than I liked both of those, and that wHmm ... this book was a cross between "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and "The Great Gatsby". I liked it slightly more than I liked both of those, and that was about it.
One quote I liked so much, I posted it on Facebook: "It was just as she suspected: love turned you into perfect mush."
And the other made me crazy because I really don't like people like this: "Most of his time appeared to be spent bumming cigarettes from people whose annual income was about a fifth of his own." I've always hated that guy.
This is basically two books (sort of like "Under the Banner of Heaven"), and the 3-star rating has to be a balance of the 4 stars I'd have given the fThis is basically two books (sort of like "Under the Banner of Heaven"), and the 3-star rating has to be a balance of the 4 stars I'd have given the first half with the 2 stars I'd have given the second. The first half is a riveting story that I literally did not want to put down. The second half is just information on either how-to or how-we-did set up a fund to fund microenterprise. And that, frankly, was not that interesting. Sure there were some things in the second half that caught my interest, but this really could have been two separate books. The stories she has to tell (the first half) are AMAZING, and she tells them well. Really well.
Her family descriptions were so clear and I wanted to be in her family. What happened to families like this? If there was a family ethic, it was to work hard, go to church, be good to your family, and live out loud. We learned from our elders to be tough, to not complain, and to always show up for one another. I didn't understand then how much about tribe and community I learned from this American family.
It was also interesting to walk with her as she grew up. Not in a "finding herself" way, but in an actual growing up and becoming aware way. Her description of her meeting with Maha Ghosananda gives a good, and also good lesson on this:
I felt like a young journalist, driven but totally out of my element.
He smiled and slowly bowed his head in acknowledgment.
"Would you tell me about the peace marches, how you have the courage to head them, whether you have lost anyone along the way?" I asked almost breathlessly.
He looked at me, in no hurry to respond. With his hands clasped together, he said, "Each step is a prayer, each step is a meditation."
"You have made such a sacrifice with your life and are such an important spiritual leader," I continued, though I wasn't sure I even fully understood his first answer. "Those walks can take 45 days. Just the logistics must be an enormous burden for someone. Who helps you, and what can others do to support what you are doing? What is the right role for philanthropy? How many people know about the peace marches? I would think they are important not only for Cambodians, but also for the entire world to understand."
"We walk with compassion for the world," he answered.
My hyperenergetic style had never been so unsuccessful at connecting with another person before. Clearly, I needed a different approach.
"Maha Ghosananda," I said, "I am here out of deep respect for you and for what you are doing and want to consider how I might be able to introduce you and your work to others who might support it. Please forgive me for not even knowing how to ask the questions."
If more of us were willing to admit we didn't even know what question to ask, I think the world might be a better place.
On a personal note, I almost fell out of my chair when I got to the name of the chairman of the board of Acumen Fund - Margo Alexander used to work at the firm I worked for for 20 years. After her prestigious Wall Street career, Margo Alexander, the first woman to head a major trading floor, became our board chair. Pretty cool!
I really did enjoy this book -- but it was the first half that kept me reading -- and it was my interest in the first half that held me up through the second half. I'll admit I'm prone to snap judgments, and honestly? I think "Acumen Fund" is a really dumb name. Sadly, that affected how I felt about the whole book. That doesn't mean it's not a good book. It just means I'm not jumping up and down to recommend it. Secondarily, the editing seemed a little amateurish. For an editor, that's a big deal....more
**spoiler alert** These books are getting more and more outlandish every time I read one. And although they are good junk food after a heavy and/or no**spoiler alert** These books are getting more and more outlandish every time I read one. And although they are good junk food after a heavy and/or non-fiction book, I'm kind of tired of them. It seems they're getting more over the top and crazier and crazier ideas every time (which doesn't translate to "more interesting").
Seriously, the second Stephanie thought she recognized the guy in the tape, I knew it was Dave. Did anyone reading it think otherwise? No. Evanovich has turned into the literary equivalent of the bad figure skater who telegraphs her jump 10 seconds before she actually does it. Why are these books still going? She needs to pick an ending and write it. The last 5 or so could have been skipped because they are now formulaic and we could write our own version. Stephanie Plum books must contain: 1. Lula in spandex 2. Lula at Cluck-in-a-bucket (or whatever it's called) 3. Stephanie wanting doughnuts 4. Stephanie getting shot at or attached in various doughnut and/or restaurant establishments 5. Sleep w/ Ranger 6. Sleep w/ Morelli 7. Bob the dog eats something that's not dog and/or people food 8. At least one viewing at the funeral home 9. Stephanie ruining her and/or Ranger's car
There's more but I've already bored myself. Just thankful I got this from the library. Oh, and the library copy contains "I <3 Ranger" and "I <3 Morelli" stickers at the back. Although I was something like #236 on the list for the book, both stickers are still in the back. Regardless of how popular Team Snape and/or Team Jacob stickers might be, clearly the Stephanie Plum readers don't even care enough to take the sticker out of the library book....more
I'm really not sure either how to rate this nor what exactly I thought of it. I did -- mostly -- like it, but there were quite a few things in it thatI'm really not sure either how to rate this nor what exactly I thought of it. I did -- mostly -- like it, but there were quite a few things in it that were rather disturbing. I also kept comparing it to Thirteen Reasons Why, which I just saw I started my review with "I couldn't put this down." Don't get me wrong; this was good, but different.
I think it might be because "13" was way more serious and sort of introspective, where as this was more irreverent and sarcastic. Which is a really funny sentence for me to have typed, because anyone who knows me knows I'm more the latter than the former. Also, like "13", this book is pretty grown up for all but the oldest of high schoolers, I think. Or maybe I should just say that I'm glad I don't have children so I don't have to decide if something is too old for them or not :)
There were definitely parts of this where I laughed out loud, and definitely some very somber moments. One really good piece of advice comes from one of the pivotal parts of the book. Semi-spoiler: Vera thinks she's actually going on a date with Charlie, and it turns out he takes her where a bunch of the detentionheads are getting high and drinking. Not what she wanted/expected at all. She's hugely disappointed and "I gave myself a real Ken Dietz pep talk. 'Vera, this is what kids do in high schoool. You shouldn't be up here sulking. You should go back and be yourself. Cynical, funny, straight-up Vera Dietz.'
It didn't work. It didn't work because I knew not to give the best of myself to the worst of people."
I thought that last line was just brilliant. And would be good advice for any high schooler to absorb.
For the record: the voice in this book (Vera's) is really well done, and I thought highly believable....more
This is one creepy, weird ass book. As I was reading it, I was thinking, "do I know any child who would want to read this?" And I answered myself withThis is one creepy, weird ass book. As I was reading it, I was thinking, "do I know any child who would want to read this?" And I answered myself with a "no". I suppose the kids who grew up to be adults who like scary movies might like this, but honestly, I sincerely hope I don't have nightmares about that hand.
The only thing I liked about this (besides the ending, I suppose) was "Because," she said, "when you're scared but you still do it anyway, that's brave."
I really enjoyed this! Although many of her stories are specific to Mennonites, there are a good number of her experiences that are similar to immigraI really enjoyed this! Although many of her stories are specific to Mennonites, there are a good number of her experiences that are similar to immigrant's children, generic conservative Christian families, and also families with stay-at-home-moms. "Shame-based foods", for example, was something I was just discussing the other day with a group of girlfriends, and believe me; I had 'em! No one would trade lunches with me when I had a peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwich :(
This author could take parts of this book and make it into a standup routine. For example, in describing her father, "He is a theologian who believes in a loving God, a servant heart, and a senior discount. Would God be pleased if we spent an unnecessary thirty-one cents at McDonald's? I think not."
The conversation with her mother about a t-shirt that said "in glittery magenta cursive,'NASTY!!!'" could have happened in my house. Of course her mom would say, "Oh well, then you can wear it to work in the garden!"
As if I didn't already feel a kinship with the author on several levels, this sealed the deal for me:
If you also happen to be a grammarian who creepily knows how to diagram every sentence in the English language, there is an even more urgent demand for your services. I'm the sicko who can explain why a gerundive phrase must attach to a possessive adjective pronoun rather than an object pronoun. True, you wouldn't want me at a party, but if the survival of the human race depended upon the successful parsing of the Constitution, you'd be knockin' on my door, baby.
I wish she'd only told stories throughout the whole book - the best parts were all the stories. When she veers into her interpretation (seriously; not the funny parts) of theology, it sort of makes me roll my eyes. Things like "Funny, yes, but tragic too. A man's not to be blamed for his genital deficiency. However, he has complete control over the appetizer." Had me laughing out loud. Her views on God? Not so much.
If you don't read this book, at least get an excerpt of the warm potato salad part (Warmer Kartoffelsalat). It's priceless.
I also love her description of sexiness. "In my opinion, sexiness comes down to three things: chemistry, sense of humor, and treatment of waitstaff at restaurants."
This book was charming and entertaining, and helped me view my Mennonite friends differently. It didn't, however, explain at all to me why "Mennonite" is synonymous with "German" in many ways, but not all. That's strange to me, considering the sidestep into Ukraine she describes in the book. ...more