Sara Bareilles burst into my consciousness when she served as a judge on the a cappella singing competition show, Sing Off. It was then that I becameSara Bareilles burst into my consciousness when she served as a judge on the a cappella singing competition show, Sing Off. It was then that I became aware of her amazing song, Brave. So, when my wife brought this book home from the library, I thought, "I'd like to read that." In it, Sara bares her soul, and what a beautiful soul it is! She refers to the writing of this book as the hardest thing she's ever done, and I think I understand why. She reveals her insecurities and weaknesses with honesty and speaks of her successes with humility. I was moved to tears a few times and found lots to laugh about, too. As I read this, I couldn't get the thought out of my head, "Sara, you are beautiful!"...more
The first book of the dystopian trilogy, Oryx and Crake, ended with a cliff-hanger. Naturally, I thought this, the second installment, would pick up tThe first book of the dystopian trilogy, Oryx and Crake, ended with a cliff-hanger. Naturally, I thought this, the second installment, would pick up the story at that point and move things forward from there. But, Ms Atwood had other plans and, ultimately, I am glad that she did it her way. This installment focuses on God's Gardeners, the fictional radical ecological and religious group that was mentioned a few times in passing in Oryx and Crake, and is told from the alternating viewpoint of two of the members of the sect that survived the plague that just about wiped out the human species. It ends at the time and place where the first book ended, but arrives by an entirely different route and paints a picture that helps the reader to more fully understand the world before, and after, the "waterless flood". This tale is made all the more chilling because it requires no stretch of the imagination to envision it as a possible future reality if the human race continues along the path we are now on. As always with Ms Atwood, her characters are fully developed, rational people who behave consistently with their belief system and are very human in all ways. The landscape is stark and sparsely described but logically consistent with the idea that nature has begun to find a new equilibrium after the demise of humanity and those that remain are at the mercy of the natural world and not its dominating, exploitive masters. This is truly the work of a master storyteller....more
The first two-thirds of the book, I did not like these characters much at all and contemplated giving up on them. The Kelleher family is one dysfunctiThe first two-thirds of the book, I did not like these characters much at all and contemplated giving up on them. The Kelleher family is one dysfunctional mess, beginning with Alice, the matriarch. She behaves as if no one else matters, insulting anyone and everyone, except for her dear priest, Father Donnelly. But slowly, everyone's back-story began to emerge and one learns why they are the way that they are and one begins to feel sympathy for these damaged souls. By the end, a certain amount of healing seems to be in the offing as the various characters begin to see the others for who they really are and not for who they imagine them to be. Everyone but Alice, that is. The family may understand, or accept her a bit more, but she is unrepentant. The trigger that brings all of this together is the youngest, Alice's granddaughter, Maggie, who has problems of her own, but who struck this reader as the only likable character that kept me going through the first two-thirds. Her resolve to carry on in spite of the obstacles she faced made this what I can truly say now is a book I am glad I finished....more
I've read this before, a long time ago, but now that I have all three books of the trilogy, I am re-reading this.
I'm glad I re-read this. It is even mI've read this before, a long time ago, but now that I have all three books of the trilogy, I am re-reading this.
I'm glad I re-read this. It is even more chilling now, given the current state of affairs. The bleak, post-apocalyptic world Ms Atwood envisioned here is even easier to imagine than when the book first appeared. Crake was a genius with an extra helping of egomania who had at his disposal the means to bring about a more perfect world, but at the cost of total destruction of the current civilization. Oryx was his unwitting accomplice who, along with Crake, has achieved in death an almost god-like status among the near perfect beings Crake created to re-populate the world. And Jimmy, aka Snowman, is their shaman and protector. The story is told entirely from his perspective and ends in a way that demands a sequel, The Year of the Flood. Having begun the journey, I must now follow where it leads....more
Even though we know from the beginning what happens, this still turned out to be a dang good yarn of survival in harsh conditions that turned into a rEven though we know from the beginning what happens, this still turned out to be a dang good yarn of survival in harsh conditions that turned into a real page-turner. The only quibble I had with the story would be the abrupt way the story ended and then fast-forwarded to an epilogue that did not seem to evolve naturally out of what went before, but that was an exceedingly small quibble. The focus of the story shifted from the traumatic events at the center of the story to the aftermath and back again, almost alternatingly. It was an effective way to let the story unfold. At the center of the story are two college swimmers whose flight goes down over the Rockies in the dead of winter. What follows is the story of their attempt to remain alive until the rescue teams arrive and how that affected them when they return to their lives. Avery is a strong, capable protagonist who had been well-trained for disaster by her father, an ER doctor who did not pamper his daughter. Colin, although injured in the crash and subsequently by a predator, proved to possess the perfect complementary skills and provided the necessary encouragement to keep them both from giving up. Add to that three young boys who also survived and the responsibility weighs heavily on both athletes. Well written and emotionally engaging, this was a great read....more
I am beginning to think that Ms Phillips is incapable of writing a dud! This one picks up the thread of the story from the previous book, Call Me IrreI am beginning to think that Ms Phillips is incapable of writing a dud! This one picks up the thread of the story from the previous book, Call Me Irresistible. What happened to Lucy Jorik, the bride who left Mr Perfect, Ted Beaumont, at the altar? She ran away to discover herself and wound up attached to a most unlikely road warrior, one biker named, of all things, Panda. Like all of Ms Phillips stories, you know these two are destined for each other, but the fun is in seeing how long it takes them to realize the obvious. This one had the added thrill of a second mismatched couple also finding that they need each other, the jaded divorcee Bree, saddled with a young boy she is ill prepared to deal with, and her nemesis, the most popular man on the island in Lake Michigan where they have all found refuge, Big Mike. Other minor characters help to move the story along and Ms Phillips has once again given us a delightful that had me laughing and crying by turns throughout....more
This one was hard to get through. Several times I wanted to give up and pick up something else, something a little lighter. But, I am finally glad thaThis one was hard to get through. Several times I wanted to give up and pick up something else, something a little lighter. But, I am finally glad that I stuck with it. The central character, Allison, is one of the most self-centered, dishonest, unlikeable people I have met in literature. At least through the first two-thirds that is true. It isn't until she hits bottom (what her Share group calls a "high bottom") and begins to honestly reassess her life and where it could lead if she stays on her chosen path that I began to warm up to her. This is a tale of a suburban wife, and mother, and work-from-home blogger, who hides her addiction from everyone around her and denies admitting the truth even to herself until she finally hits what is for her the bottom and sees that she truly is a junkie, no different from the other women she meets in rehab. This was gritty, and real, to the point that I began to wonder how much of the tale might be autobiographical, so vivid is the detail, including the junkies' jargon and the rehab process. This is, in the end, about finding a reason to forsake one's self-destructive behaviors and discovering the strength within, and with the support of fellow sojourners, to once again embrace life-affirming choices. Not the kind of read I expected from my previous experience with Ms Weiner's work in the past, but one I am ultimately glad I persevered with....more
Whoops! She's done it again! Another great story in a long line of great stories. This one sounded more than a little familiar, but the deeper I got iWhoops! She's done it again! Another great story in a long line of great stories. This one sounded more than a little familiar, but the deeper I got into it, the more I realized it only seemed that way because I had met some of these characters before in other settings. Hot mess Meg Koranda blows into town to be in her best friend's wedding, the former First Daughter, Lucy Jorik, and promptly blows up the nuptials. Lucy high tails it and leaves Meg to deal with the aftermath in a town that despises her for breaking up the town's dream wedding between Ted Beaumont, the town's most eligible bachelor and the heart-throb of every female in town with a pulse, and his intended. The rest of the story follows the familiar arc of passions denied, dreams destroyed, and true love wending its messy, twisted way through obstacles both real and manufactured. Once again, strong characters, snappy dialog, and a tried and true road map of a plot carry the day. I really shouldn't like this stuff, but I eat it up. As far as I'm concerned, if I could only have the works of one author to carry me through the rest of my life, Ms Phillips would have to get serious consideration! Even if I have to surrender my man card....more
I am at a loss to know how Ms Phillips can continually draw on the same formula and come up with a winner, but she does! I started into this one, expeI am at a loss to know how Ms Phillips can continually draw on the same formula and come up with a winner, but she does! I started into this one, expecting a letdown that never came. The basic premise is similar to the recently finished "Heroes Are My Weakness". Sugar Beth Carey returns to her hometown, penniless, and burdened with a dog who clearly doesn't like her, to try to find the legacy an aunt left her and to pay penance for the sins of her past. The inhabitants of Parrish, Mississippi, including the ex-boyfriend she dumped, the Mean Girls (the Seawillows) she once led, the half-sister she despised and humiliated, and the man whose life she nearly ruined, all harbor a grudge for the way Sugar abandoned them all so many years previously, and they all want their pound of flesh. Yet, the woman who returns is not the girl who left and everyone, including Sugar herself, will be surprised to find out just how strong she has become. Again, I am mystified how deeply this formula affects me, but maybe, I am just an incurable romantic. So sue me!...more
A nice, concise history of one of the most intense rivalries in all of sports, that changed the causal sport fan's view of women's basketball. WrittenA nice, concise history of one of the most intense rivalries in all of sports, that changed the causal sport fan's view of women's basketball. Written by a former sportswriter for the Hartford Courant, it was fairly balanced in its approach. I had the privilege of being as a few of the games mentioned and saw a few others on TV. That series will forever be remembered as one that produced some of the best, most exciting, basketball. I enjoyed reading the comments from several of the players who played in that series, from both teams. A lot of great players have come through those two programs. I would have liked to see the book fleshed out with more reporting for the games that surrounded the rivalry and how those other games made the UConn-Tennessee match ups that more exciting and important, but overall, an interesting read....more