I should start by saying that though I rated this book 3 stars, it definitely has parts that are 4-star worthy. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has a dI should start by saying that though I rated this book 3 stars, it definitely has parts that are 4-star worthy. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has a distinction for me by being a book that I read after having seen the movie first. Though I've certainly read other books after seeing their film adaptations, I definitely usually read the books first (for all of the obvious reasons). Reading the book after watching its film version indicates one thing for certain: I really liked the movie (go see it!).
I have to say that though the book and film are close, there are significant distinctions throughout the book. Now, I'm not one for spoilers, so I won't say what the differences are outright, but I will say that some of the changes seem to come from thin air.
with the book came from its treatment of its titular character, Earl. I love Earl- his rages, his foul-mouth, his sensitivity masked behind a cool glare- but in many ways he feels more like a caricature of a black youth than a fully-fleshed out character. Maybe Andrews' characterization wouldn't seem so negative if the reader ever really got to know Earl more deeply than the surface level.I don't know. I just know I felt uncomfortable with how Earl is portrayed.
The other challenge I have is with the other titular character (The "Dying Girl" Rachel- who doesn't even get her name mentioned. Thougaaaaaaaa(a key point in the book actually). The film, with its artistic license, fleshes out her character a lot more.
Sigh. It IS a humorous book. Perhaps you should cast all my "pearls" aside and just eat the swine, lol. The book sets out to be funny, and overall, it succeeds. I guess this is just one of those books that you'll have to read for yourself and decide if I made too big a deal over nothing....more
This book just about changed my life it was so good. So hard to believe it was written so long ago yet felt as though it exactly captured our currentThis book just about changed my life it was so good. So hard to believe it was written so long ago yet felt as though it exactly captured our current state of things. Beautiful and horrible. An absolute MUST-READ for everyone!...more
Ah... Maeve Binchy. I'm so appreciative my dearest friend Michele (also a Goodreads Friend!) recommended her to me several years ago. A more delightfuAh... Maeve Binchy. I'm so appreciative my dearest friend Michele (also a Goodreads Friend!) recommended her to me several years ago. A more delightful, satisfying author is naught often found. Ms. Binchy (the late I only recently learned- having passed on my eldest daughter's birthday [July 30th] 3 years back) hailed from Ireland and wrote, in what I think to be, in an oral tradition style. Her typical cast of Interestings all have stories that are told in such a way you feel like you're discussing them over a spot of tea at a neighbor's house, or among one's Associates (to coin Ol' Mutty's term for his closest mates) at the Pub up the street. I HEAR Maeve Binchy's stories, more so than merely read them on the page.
In Minding Frankie, we meet Noel the ne'er do well, closeted alcoholic with no friends to speak of, who suddenly finds himself father to a child whose mother will not survive the pregnancy. Noel and a host of neighbors take to this child's upbringing in the true "it takes a village" fashion.
I love so many of the characters, but Emma, the older Irish-American cousin to Noel who has come to Ireland on losing her job to "discover her roots," is such a whirlwind force in the whole neighborhood's lives, is easily my favorite.
All of the subplots are equally interesting, fun, and easy to keep in order, even if there are so many. If, like me, you have a inexplicable love for Ireland, love a story where characters are richly constructed, and/or simply enjoy a story that remains positive even throughout bleakest realities, you will like this book. Maeve Binchy- from me- is always highly-recommended....more
I recently discovered this author by chance, but I, in two books, I have definitely come to adore her. I do not tend toward light reading generally, bI recently discovered this author by chance, but I, in two books, I have definitely come to adore her. I do not tend toward light reading generally, but I was in the mood for something sweet and I found just the right thing. Katherine Center's books read like your best romantic comedy films. Sweet, funny, and hopeful.
The tale follows Libby and her two children, 3 years after her husband was killed in a car accident. She gets a call from an "eccentric" aunt that she hardly knows, offering her to come live on her goat farm. Going crazy at her mother's and with nothing left to lose, she picks up and moves from Houston to Atwater, Texas. Everything unfolds from there. Many sweet and funny episodes ensue. I read this book in no time flat. Like a good movie, you're anxious to see how things come together, even if you know what will inevitably happen. ...more
In the tradition of great Irish storytellers, Maeve Binchy has always written a great novel. A Week in Winter is yet another of her lively tales set iIn the tradition of great Irish storytellers, Maeve Binchy has always written a great novel. A Week in Winter is yet another of her lively tales set in Ireland with a cast of terrific and lively characters, and their interrelated stories, that just make you want to read on (hence my ability to finish this one in just two days). This story and its characters are all connected to Chicky Starr and the old Sheady house that she has turned into a bed and breakfast on the coast of West Ireland. The novel tells us how she gets there and chronicles her first week of opening. Really a lovely story. I highly recommend all 16 of Maeve Binchy's works....more
First and foremost... wow. This graphic autobiography was amazing. Not only is Alison Bechdel an amazing artist, she is an amazing writer as well. SheFirst and foremost... wow. This graphic autobiography was amazing. Not only is Alison Bechdel an amazing artist, she is an amazing writer as well. She really captures the coming of age experience in a direct way I really haven't seen before. Growing up, the loss of her father, getting to know her parents (intuiting and deducting most of the time), and discovering her own sexuality are all central to her story and beautifully told.
This is one well-read woman from a well-read family. The allusions and comparisons to different literary works, characters, and themes would rival the course content of any college literature class. This is no comic book. This is literature. I challenge anyone not to be impressed.
Along with Neil Gaiman's The Watchman, another graphic novel considered literature, I'm adding this graphic work to western literature's must-read list....more
Growing up in the Bay Area- a place so rich with diversity, I sometimes take it for granted and often forget that racism is so acute in so many placesGrowing up in the Bay Area- a place so rich with diversity, I sometimes take it for granted and often forget that racism is so acute in so many places. I know this is purposefully naive, especially given the current tensions that have been surfacing all across this nation- even in the Bay Area (notice I say surfacing- I definitely know it's not new, nor is it uncommon, sadly) in the past several years. As the only biracial family in their community, the Lee Family is faced with so many traumas- the taunting, the bullying, the alienation, the isolation and the plain loneliness- their experiences break my heart. And poor Hannah! This book is just sad beyond words. I'm glad to have read it though, lest the privilege of living in such a special place prevents me from recognizing that the Lee's reality- like so many others- is not a work of fiction, but painful truth....more
This was my first Michael Chabon and I have to say he is a brilliant writer. My problem with this book is that as beautifully written as it is, it isThis was my first Michael Chabon and I have to say he is a brilliant writer. My problem with this book is that as beautifully written as it is, it is difficult for me to read this white man's writing from multiple black characters' points of view. I constantly questioned whether this is even a valid question to consider. Should it even matter? I'm still not sure, but either way, it was just an amazing book. I loved it and can't wait to read more from this writer....more
At the time that I read this (springtime), I was really excited to read an authorized biography about the notoriously private Harper Lee. I felt likeAt the time that I read this (springtime), I was really excited to read an authorized biography about the notoriously private Harper Lee. I felt like I was getting the inside scoop (if limited inside scoop) regarding the author of one of my (an all the world's) all-time favorite and most beloved authors. Truly, Marja Mills painted a picture of a private woman from an up-close and personal perspective. Reading this book ended up putting Go Set a Watchman into perspective. It helped make that book make more sense to me when I read it. I was sadly disappointed, though, only recently to learn that Harper Lee wrote a statement on the book's release that it was NOT an authorized biography and that there never would be one. It's all really very confusing. Both Lee sisters point to the other saying that neither really has her wits about her, that neither knows what she is talking about, and that either one of them would sign anything put in front of her for approval. Having recently read Harper Lee's statement I'm left not knowing who to believe. Overall, in spite of new knowledge regarding as to whether the book was authorized or not, I deeply enjoyed learning more about "Nelle" Harper Lee. I would still recommend it. Especially if you have a mind to read Go Set a Watchman. ...more
Though I was reticent to read a follow-up to the timeless classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, how could I not read the only other book written by Ms. HarpThough I was reticent to read a follow-up to the timeless classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, how could I not read the only other book written by Ms. Harper "Nell" Lee?
To say the least, this book was well-written. And after having recently read her only authorized biography, The Mockingbird Next Door (which she now adamantly denies having cooperated in its production!) and having learned so much (and so little!) about Nell, one can definitely see the parallels to Lee's and her character's lives. But again, after having read the biography and her staunch position about not writing another book (She said she couldn't follow up the book), I was beyond shocked to find out this book had been written.
All of this in mind, it was a very realistic, if not disappointing, turn of events for Atticus. I think it's real, but in terms of where Atticus heads in his beloved South, it's disappointing as much for the reader as it is for Jean Louise, or Scout. We discover that Atticus is really a human (gasp!)- with human faults. Again, very real, but if you want Atticus to remain the legend of To Kill a Mockingbird, I suggest you not read the book. If you appreciate all the human foibles that a living man can have, and still be a good man, dig in!...more
Whenever one reads Haruki Murakami's work, one can expect the unexpected. I have heard Murakami likened to a Japanese version of David Lynch and I'd hWhenever one reads Haruki Murakami's work, one can expect the unexpected. I have heard Murakami likened to a Japanese version of David Lynch and I'd have to say I think that that comparison is pretty good. His world's have an otherworldly feeling that is really like no other author that I read. The way "magic" (for lack of a better word) envelopes his characters always takes them by surprise, while at the same time, seems totally plausible. In Murakami's world, strange things can happen and do.
In terms of this particular novel, Murakami's latest, I was totally invested in Tsukuru's story. I, too, had to find out why his tight-knit group of friends suddenly abandoned him. Though the book started out slow (I had to make myself pick it up), it eventually picked up and then I couldn't put it down. I liked what unfolded and how. The stories behind what happened to this group and to Tsukuru, were essentially satisfying.
Unfortunately, there were other elements of the book that frustrated me. The otherworldly elements were never explained, or even justified. They were just there, but not in a good way (if that even makes sense). I also did not like the ending. There were just some things that needed resolution and I plain just never got it. I did not like that aspect of the book at all. 3...more
Hilarious writer and actor from my favorite comedic series, The Office, BJ Novak has already proved his writing chops. Still, I've been wanting to reaHilarious writer and actor from my favorite comedic series, The Office, BJ Novak has already proved his writing chops. Still, I've been wanting to read his book of short stories since I first got wind of the book about a year ago.
Needless to say, the book is good (and, at times, great). The stories at the beginning of the book are stronger than those at the end. "The Rematch," about the legendary race between the tortoise and the hare is a side-splitter. I also enjoyed "The Something by John Grisham" and "The Girl Who Gave Great Advice." I liked the way he connects some of his stories in small ways by alluding to other stories' characters in his various stories. It kind of feels like you're a part of an inside joke. Highly-recommended!...more
The Night of the Radishes is yet another well-written book by Sandra Benitez. In the book, the main character begins a quest to find her long-lost broThe Night of the Radishes is yet another well-written book by Sandra Benitez. In the book, the main character begins a quest to find her long-lost brother (as a part of a promise to her dying mother) after her mother finally succumbs to a battle with a debilitating disease. This book begins with so many tragedies and sorrows, this reader was pleased to finally see things begin to turn around. Just a really great read....more
Much like Luis Alberto Urrea's The Hummingbird's Daughter and Sandra Cisneros' Caramelo, this book is epic in scope. Part of my own personal Latin reaMuch like Luis Alberto Urrea's The Hummingbird's Daughter and Sandra Cisneros' Caramelo, this book is epic in scope. Part of my own personal Latin reading streak, this book was second in my own personal series of books by and/or about Latino characters/people. In this book, Benitez beautifully tells the interrelated stories of characters connected to El Salvador's coffee plantations. I can't recommend this book enough. As a matter of fact, when I discovered that my beloved Hayward Library did not have its own copy, I made a recommendation for its purchase and they are now looking into it. Hopefully Hayward Library patrons will soon be able to access this book easily without the use of Linked-In!...more