Although I don't usually like short stories because they're, well, short, I had to read this after reading and loving Perrotta's Leftovers. This feltAlthough I don't usually like short stories because they're, well, short, I had to read this after reading and loving Perrotta's Leftovers. This felt a lot like eating a box of Godiva truffles--each delicious and brilliant....more
Can you say something irreverent if they don't refer? This collection of blog posts is witty and thought-provoking. It's a shame that some will find iCan you say something irreverent if they don't refer? This collection of blog posts is witty and thought-provoking. It's a shame that some will find it offensive....more
I don't always read children's books, but when I do, it's because of Winn Dixie. It was great spending an evening with sidekick Flora and superhero UlI don't always read children's books, but when I do, it's because of Winn Dixie. It was great spending an evening with sidekick Flora and superhero Ulysses. DiCamillo always entertains and stuns with some gorgeous prose....more
I am going to have to blog about this one. Slouka so effectively portrays what it is to be a teen, especially one who has to deal with shocking dysfunI am going to have to blog about this one. Slouka so effectively portrays what it is to be a teen, especially one who has to deal with shocking dysfunction. He made me remember the joys of the intense kind of friendships you forge during the teen years, the power of first love, the struggle to blend in or stand out in a way you can live with. The current of menace that runs through the novel makes it impossible to put down as you near the ebb. Tragic and beautiful and ultimately redeeming. And, of course, I loved the parts about running. ...more
Poet Jason Mott has struck gold with his debut novel, The Returned. He’s enjoyed starred reviews in the major review journals and landed himself a deaPoet Jason Mott has struck gold with his debut novel, The Returned. He’s enjoyed starred reviews in the major review journals and landed himself a deal for a TV series based on the book. I had to find out what the buzz is about, so I ripped through the 338 pages in two days. The denouement almost made me late back from lunch.
Harold and Lucille Hargrave have spent the past 50 years coping with the death of their son on his eighth birthday, so when he shows up at their door accompanied by Agent Bellamy from “the Bureau,” they are cast into a quandary of emotion. He appears to be their flesh and blood, sweet son, inexplicably returned from the dead, but he must be something else, like all of the others who are showing up across the world. Are they devils? Is this the end of times? And how will mankind cope with the sudden increasing world population?
Sadly and predictably, it’s determined that the Returned should be interred until their threat to the general population is understood. Harold chooses to stay with his son when he is placed in the newly requisitioned elementary school with the other Returned. Trust and friendship develops between Harold and the sympathetic Agent Bellamy, mostly over games of horseshoes. Meanwhile, Lucille, on her own, copes as best she can, locating Harold’s pistol and hiding a Returned family that was mysteriously murdered years before, an event the small town of Arcadia never quite reconciled.
There are two villains, both manifestations of fear and ignorance, as villains are. There is the hard-nosed, cruel Colonel Willis who sees the Returned as disposable objects and whose story we never learn, and there is the hard luck Fred who’s lost his job and the beloved wife who doesn’t return despite his aching anticipation. In the Returned, Fred finds a convenient target on which to blame his misfortune and recruits a band of followers whose behavior foreseeably escalates.
Mott effectively creates a time bomb that has to explode, and he populates his book with likable, multi-faceted characters and thought-provoking circumstances. Parallels to historic events beg for discussion....more
I hesitated on giving this a four star because I wouldn't just recommend it to anyone, because it's a wringer of a read. It really got under my skin,I hesitated on giving this a four star because I wouldn't just recommend it to anyone, because it's a wringer of a read. It really got under my skin, and I know I will be thinking of these characters and life lessons for a long time. To know that Shah writes about having a profoundly disabled child from experience makes it all the more poignant. It's a beautiful book about how this affects an individual, a relationship, every relationship--how it makes one a wholly different person. Mouse-proofing the kitchen becomes a metaphor for life and the amount of control one actually has. Moving to a place that seems enchanted, yet proves to be way beyond difficult emphasizes the point. ...more
This makes me think that Me Before You was, indeed, a breakout for Moyes--a romance (genre not consequential) with real depth and characters that wereThis makes me think that Me Before You was, indeed, a breakout for Moyes--a romance (genre not consequential) with real depth and characters that were flawed in a believable and not gagful ways, and a story with a moral dilemma that stretches across genres, and, thank the stars, not a pat, romantic ending. Moyes can write; that is without question. What she chooses to write about is where I leave her. In The Girl You Left Behind, she presents a compelling premise, but the shallow and ditzy Liv is not a character who I want to cheer as a role model or that I find at all interesting, and the male characters act in ways that are only found in the pages of romance novels. As a romance, this may be a four star, but as literature, it is left at the gate when compared to its predecessor....more
Loteria cards are the vehicle that allows 11 year old Luz to write about and come to terms with her violent family life. Spare and beautiful. I was frLoteria cards are the vehicle that allows 11 year old Luz to write about and come to terms with her violent family life. Spare and beautiful. I was frustrated with so much Spanish that context didn't really translate....more
from my blog (http://www.heightslibrary.org/wordpre... Alex Woods is not your average 17-year-old. That’s apparent as this debut novel opens. When pulfrom my blog (http://www.heightslibrary.org/wordpre... Alex Woods is not your average 17-year-old. That’s apparent as this debut novel opens. When pulled over by the borderuniverse versus alex patrol upon returning home to England, the ashes of his best friend reside in passenger seat, the glove box is filled with marijuana, and Alex’s response to the pull over is to jack up the volume of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and sit in deep concentration till its last note sounds. Of course there is a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this, and so begins a quirky coming of age story that starts when a meteorite slams through the roof and into 11-year-old Alex’s head. Alex’s father is a mystery, his mom, the deeply new age proprietress of the Queen of Cups-a supplier of potions, tarot cards, and similar supernatural paraphernalia. His only friend is an utterly irreverent and sarcastic female chain smoker several years older than himself. The impact of the meteorite leaves Alex a victim of epilepsy which he eventually learns to control. He has a genius for math and science and prefers reading over athletics. It’s no wonder Alex becomes the victim of school bullies. Fleeing his antagonists one afternoon, he takes refuge, barricading himself in a backyard greenhouse. The thwarted bullies satisfy themselves with breaking some windows. When the owner discovers Alex, he assumes he’s done the damage himself, a belief Alex’s mother shares without question. She sentences him to work off his debt by performing jobs for the owner. Mr. Peterson, an American, pot smoking, Vietnam Vet and active pacifist doesn’t welcome Alex’s sudden introduction into his life, but when Alex pulls Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan off Peterson’s bookshelf, a most unlikely friendship takes root. The consideration of serious moral issues and Extence’s humorous, breezy style pay tribute to Vonnegut’s influence. Peterson could have stepped straight out of a Vonnegut novel. I can’t wait to see what Extence does next....more
An amusing antidote to the banal and boring Weird Sisters. Actual LOL moments! Reading the chapter about her hosting the lip-sync awards is worth theAn amusing antidote to the banal and boring Weird Sisters. Actual LOL moments! Reading the chapter about her hosting the lip-sync awards is worth the whole book!...more
Concurrently telling the stories of her mother and Elsa Schiaparelli, Volk captivatingly compares and contrasts the two. Volk's mother, Audrey's mainConcurrently telling the stories of her mother and Elsa Schiaparelli, Volk captivatingly compares and contrasts the two. Volk's mother, Audrey's main preoccupation was to be the exceptionally beautiful woman she was, even to the extreme of having a facelift in her 40s that severs the nerves on one side of her face which she effectively hides by teaching herself to force a reasonable facsimile of a smile. The less physically blessed Schiaparelli uses her intellect, creativity, and ambition to achieve phenomenal success in the world of fashion design. Having read Schiap's biography at a pivotal age (11), Schiap became a sort of role model for Volk, a balancing point pitted against her mother's influence. The lives of these two fascinating women offer two very different responses to what it meant to be a woman in the early to mid-20th century. Volk intersperses realia (receipts, maps, etc.), lists of her mother's advice, historical photos, and her own art to illustrate the memoir. Volk's evocative collages are deeply poignant, ironic, and humorous. I loved the artfulness of this book....more
The middle of the story comes first. A coed at UC Davis, Rosemary is used to being the odd girl out, but when she witnesses a furniture and food throwThe middle of the story comes first. A coed at UC Davis, Rosemary is used to being the odd girl out, but when she witnesses a furniture and food throwing breakup meltdown in the campus dining hall and finds herself in the middle of it, dropping her own lunch tray and glass and is subsequently cuffed and carted off to jail, she has an arrest to add to her weird resume. Beginning with their incarceration, Rosie realizes an unlikely friendship with real instigator, the drama-loving, Harlow. The escapades that follow include a lost suitcase, a Zen-like vigilante apartment custodian, a Madame LaFarge marionette, a reunion with Rosemary’s missing brother, mind-altering substances, and another run in with the law. But don’t mistake this book for a madcap romp. At the heart of the book is the event that defines Rosemary and her family, the line that marks the before and after. When Rosemary is five, she alone is sent to spend the summer with her grandparents while her brother and sister remain at home. When she returns, her sister is gone. Has she died? Has she been kidnapped? The reader comes to learn that Fern has been sent away and spends pages puzzling why. Fern’s absence is a wound from which the family never recovers; her existence, a shocking burden on her sister. Rosemary’s coming to terms with what became of her sister is a heartbreaking exploration of loyalty, memory, guilt, and what exactly it is to be human. Fowler has written a powerful novel based on a shameful practice in the history of psychology, and she has populated it with difficult, sympathetic characters–a great candidate for discussion....more