It's nearly 2:00 am and I should be asleep, but this book has kept me awake and giggling. I'm so very glad this little charmer was brought back into p...moreIt's nearly 2:00 am and I should be asleep, but this book has kept me awake and giggling. I'm so very glad this little charmer was brought back into print. When you're looking for a charming, funny story, pick up "Miss Buncle's Book" and enjoy!(less)
This is a fun, absorbing read. The scenes are brilliantly described; Ms. Morgenstern's language is so evocative that you really do feel as if you are...moreThis is a fun, absorbing read. The scenes are brilliantly described; Ms. Morgenstern's language is so evocative that you really do feel as if you are standing in the scene, watching it unfold. It's a fascinating alternative reality; magic exists, it can be immensely powerful, yet most people don't notice it happening around them at all.
I enjoyed the various characters, especially Celia and Marco, but even the smaller characters have interesting characteristics that make them unique individuals. I sometimes found myself wishing that the plot and character interactions would dive just a little bit deeper, bring more of the motivations to the surface: more about Celia and Marco's love affair, more about the enigmatic man in grey. Yet I didn't leave this book feeling like it was all a pretty picture with nothing behind it -- I suppose it's fair enough to say I enjoyed my visit enough to wish it could have lasted longer.(less)
What a compelling and utterly absorbing story. Harold's walk and his encounters with the world he's been so disconnected from as well as Maureen's red...moreWhat a compelling and utterly absorbing story. Harold's walk and his encounters with the world he's been so disconnected from as well as Maureen's rediscovery of the world around her -- just a fantastic story. You'll cheer, you'll cry and you'll end with a new resolve to live in the moment, appreciating the little things that are good and shine brighter because of the dark.(less)
The collection of modern fairy tales (including some reinterpretations of classic fairy tales) is uneven. Some of the stories are fantastic, while oth...moreThe collection of modern fairy tales (including some reinterpretations of classic fairy tales) is uneven. Some of the stories are fantastic, while others feel like something dashed off to give to the editor just cause. There are some pretty stellar names in here, and generally those stories are among the best: John Updike and Neil Gaiman notably. Overall, however, I'd put this on a list of books better borrowed than owned, and read with a healthy ability to skip a story that doesn't grab you within the first few paragraphs -- because if it hasn't grabbed you by then, it will probably only get worse.(less)
Overall I enjoyed the story, but felt the narrator dragged the book's pace down occasionally with too much information and description. The tourists w...moreOverall I enjoyed the story, but felt the narrator dragged the book's pace down occasionally with too much information and description. The tourists were well fleshed out, with interesting stories and interactions, believable and often frustrating. (I found one character in particular to be a complete jerk, but he was quite realistic.)
It also pointed out to me that I have little understanding of Asian art and culture, as there were numerous places where I didn't understand an artistic reference. Perhaps that was intentional; the narrator showing off, if you will. But I felt that I was missing out on something that Ms. Tan assumed I would understand. The other books of Ms. Tan's that I've read I've liked more than this effort, and will likely try The Joy Luck Club next.(less)
I enjoyed this story immensely. Three sisters, Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia,daughters of an obsessed Shakespeare professor, grew up in a small colleg...moreI enjoyed this story immensely. Three sisters, Rosalind, Bianca and Cordelia,daughters of an obsessed Shakespeare professor, grew up in a small college town in Ohio, only an hour from Columbus. Each followed her own trajectory out of high school; one graduated college, became a mathematics professor and stayed near home; one graduated college and left for the bright lights of the big city; and one didn't graduate at all but instead spent the next several years drifting around the country. They all come home for different reasons, but around the same time, when their mother is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.
One of the literary devices Brown uses is the royal we: pieces of history are narrated by the sisters together, as a single voice. I loved this point of view, as I felt it was an effective way of introducing the different perspectives the three sisters have on different events, and sharing the commonality of experience within those perspectives.
I found myself connecting to different aspects of all three sisters, and liked watching them figure out how to confront their own demons, how to change and grow up into who they were supposed to be. I was relieved she didn't follow the easy romantic path for one of the characters, but had her actually learn something before she could find a new romantic interest.
I checked this out of the library; I'm not sure I'd purchase it, but it's definitely worth a look.(less)
I had the good fortune to win this in a Goodreads giveaway. I'd read Garden Spells last summer, and was looking forward to reading another book by All...moreI had the good fortune to win this in a Goodreads giveaway. I'd read Garden Spells last summer, and was looking forward to reading another book by Allen.
In The Peach Keeper, we meet Willa Jackson, who has struggled to build a life for herself in Walls of Water, NC, and has succeeded, at least outwardly. But the restoration of her grandmother's childhood home is stirring the pot in more ways than one. Paxton Osgood is at a turning point in her life as well, trying to find her voice at home with an opinionated mother who still lives life vicariously through her daughter. Willa and Paxton have more in common than growing up together in the same small town: their grandmothers were best friends, and as the summer progresses, the depth of that friendship becomes clear.
The primary strength of the novel is the portrayal of women's friendships. Both Willa and Paxton want and need true friendship, which has proved elusive. But friendship, once it finds you, will never let you go: it's yours for life. It's an enjoyable read, a fast moving novel whose characters are sympathetic and easy to like, even when they prove to be a little blind about what's right in front of their eyes. I also enjoyed the magical realism elements in the novel, although these were more muted than they were in Garden Spells. Scent is a powerful connection to our emotions, and the scents were used to great effect throughout the story. I also found the inclusion of Claire Waverly, the protagonist from Garden Spells to be an amusing touch.
On the downside, I found the novel to be a little to easily resolved, the ends tucking in just a little too neatly. I wanted more of the story of the grandmothers, Agatha and Georgie, and think the book might have been stronger if it had been structured with flashbacks to their story told as it happened, rather than in past tense. The conclusions could be a little obvious for my taste; I felt I knew where the story was going before I was thirty pages into the book. Nonetheless, I still enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story about friendship and love with a touch of ghosts mixed in.(less)
This book is a bit of a puzzle to me -- very unlike so much other fantasy, yet with so many of the same motifs. I enjoyed the story, but at the same t...moreThis book is a bit of a puzzle to me -- very unlike so much other fantasy, yet with so many of the same motifs. I enjoyed the story, but at the same time think it will take another reading or two before I uncover some of the other layers of the book. Beagle's imagery is excellent, and he writes a compelling, fascinating story with characters that stay with you.
Saying that, why don't I give this four stars? Because I really don't feel I understand it yet. After some more time with this book, I think I'll like it even more.(less)
Gogol is the first generation American son of Indian parents, named after a Russian author. His story is the story of those first generation children,...moreGogol is the first generation American son of Indian parents, named after a Russian author. His story is the story of those first generation children, caught between being American and being Indian, between old ways and new ways.
He's a sympathetic character, but what I found most intriguing about the book is how Gogol's search for identity really reflects everyone's search. How do we understand our identity -- who we are? Our identity changes, or at least our understanding of it does, which is about the same thing. And I think of identity is being so inextricably linked to our relationships that we never really have an identity of our own; it's always a shared creation, something built within our community. Like an iridescent fabric, the color depending on your relative position to the fabric and the light, our identity is reflective of our relationships as well. It's a challenge for us all to discover what is reflected light, and what is the light from within.(less)
Emma is one of those books that many people assume I've already read. I was an English Literature major, after all, and for many people that means a l...moreEmma is one of those books that many people assume I've already read. I was an English Literature major, after all, and for many people that means a large knowledge of all the works in the past 200 years. Truth is, I hadn't read it at all -- my direct experience of Jane Austen was limited to Pride and Prejudice and . I'm happy I got to Emma at last.
I found Emma herself to be a difficult character to relate to over the course of the novel. Generally, I want to sympathize with the main character, and many times I slapped myself on the forehead as Emma chased another harebrained scheme. Her naivete isn't charming, and it causes problems for other characters and embarrassment for Emma. She's very insistent on observing her place in society, and has a horribly conceited attitude toward those in a lesser situation. She's been spoiled rotten and indulged, and fails to understand the complexities of someone's character AND their "place" in society.
Yet, at the same time I was slapping myself on the forehead, I was doing so with affection. I found her difficulties to be amusing. Austen drew a caricature of romantic ideals and attention to status that was very funny to read. Emma also changes over the course of the novel, deepening her own understanding of her faults. She makes efforts to change, and the novel shows her becoming less and less a caricature and more a thoughtful, sensitive young woman, who, although still prone to flights of fancy, has learned to control herself better and think about possible ramifications of her actions.
Emma was a more challenging read than Pride and Prejudice: sentence structure, length, and complexity of the characters are all more difficult than P&P. (I love Pride and Prejudice, don't get me wrong, but it's not really a difficult book.) I found myself occasionally struggling through Austen's long sentences and sometimes needing to go through a sentence or paragraph again to work it all out! Hmmm... perhaps my reading isn't challenging enough. :)
I definitely recommend Emma. I enjoyed reading it, and procrastinated other work to keep reading. It's not the typical Austen romance.(less)