Very well written, and a good look at the challenges of going off to then returning from war. This was an intense, not particularly enjoyable read, as...moreVery well written, and a good look at the challenges of going off to then returning from war. This was an intense, not particularly enjoyable read, as you might expect from the subject matter.(less)
How to Eat a Cupcake is a wonderful book about becoming an adult. It's about friendship and what makes a family. And it's about cupcakes.
When I first read the description of this book, I thought it would be the light, fluffy, fun kind of woman's fiction (dare I say-- chick lit?). I like light, fluffy fun books, but chick lit often seems to rub me the wrong way, but I found the description of this book interesting enough to be willing to give it a try anyway.
I'm glad I did. The book is fun, but not the light fluffy kind, and not the annoying, "why don't these woman just grow up" kind. It's thoughtful and multilayered, with characters that are real and appealing (some more immediately than others).
Getting to know Annie was easy. She's worked hard for everything she has, she makes time for friends, and misses her mother. She's perhaps a little too open and trusting for her own good, at least where everyone but the St. Claire family is concerned. She's a genuinely nice person.
Julia is definitely not nice. Driven and successful are (at least in the beginning) the most polite words to describe her. In this, she takes after her own mother. But there is more to her than that, even if she has trouble seeing it herself. Her complicated love life, a secret she's waiting for the right time to disclose, isn't helping. And beginning to realize how her behaviour affected her one-time best friend isn't making her feel any better about her life now.
These women are both still young, but are finally settling into the people they are going to be, and it's a pleasure to watch them grow.
Equally, it's interesting to see the process of building a business together, and watching them figure out why unexpected obstacles (like vandalism) are being thrown in their path.
And reading about the cupcakes themselves was, well, the icing on the cake.
The characters and situations seemed so plausible that they have me looking at my daughter's upcoming high school years with immense terror.
None the less, I very much enjoyed reading this book.
The keys to this book were the characters, particularly the main mother daughter pair, and the intricate weaving of their stories.
I genuinely liked both Cam and Aubrey, even if I wanted to grab each of them and point out exactly what they were doing to screw up their lives. There were plenty of those times, but in almost every case, I understood where they were coming from. Cam wanted Aubrey to have a better life than she had, and was prepared to pave the path without quite connecting that Aubrey's ideal situation could be different than her own. Aubrey wanted to break out and make her own decisions, but didn't know how to go partway. When she rebelled, it was complete.
Both of them were fully well intentioned, as were all the secondary characters, some of which were even more screwed up than Aubrey and Cam. While there were a few tertiary characters this may not be true of, but other than the cult Aubrey's dad is involved with, there are no real bad guys, just flawed human beings. That's something I liked about the book.
The depth of the confusion between Cam and Aubrey is pointed out in their alternating chapters. Cam's chapters are set in the book's present; Aubrey's are almost a year earlier. The author does an amazing job of interweaving the two narratives. I could see the situation as it is through Cam's eyes, I saw how it got that way through Aubrey's. Neither of them has a full understanding of the situation, and with the dual narration, it's easy to see why.
All in all, this was an interesting and thought provoking read.
(my book club won copies of this book via a TLC Book Tours Book Club giveaway)(less)
The problem for me is that I just didn't get the point of this book.
The words themselves flowed well enough, an...moreA very low 3 stars, bordering on 2.5...
The problem for me is that I just didn't get the point of this book.
The words themselves flowed well enough, and they didn't get in the way of the story as I often fear in a literary novel. The story was coherent, and worked well enough in that sense.
I simply didn't get insight into the life of Steve Jobs (or if I did, I just didn't care), and the story didn't have enough strength to stand alone.
This was true of the plot, but even more so of the characters. Tom Owens didn't intrigue me as Steve Jobs, largely because I never saw the charisma the character was described as having. Simply seen as a fictional character, he was both unbelievable and uninteresting, which is pretty sad if you think about it.
At the beginning of the book, I had some hope for Jane (Owens' daughter) and her mother, Mary. Jane simply faded into the story (and that may have actually been the point-- if so, I feel terrible for the real life model of Jane, and wonder what her relationship with her aunt the writer must be like.) Mary turned into a whiny caricature as the woman who sent her 10 year old daughter driving solo cross country to live with her father becomes resentful as that daughter chooses to spend time with her father.
The one character I found interesting was Noah, a scientist that chose to continue to follow his own path rather than work with Owens and his company. He was an intriguing secondary character, and I find it telling that I have no idea if he had a real life counterpart.
I admit, I was relieved that the rest of my book club had a similar reaction, whether they were all to familiar with the details of Jobs and his life, or relatively uninformed, at least about this chapter. Whatever the point was, it was well hidden. (less)
I didn't finish reading this book-- it wasn't in depth enough to be intellectually interesting, and it wasn't personal enough to make an interesting m...moreI didn't finish reading this book-- it wasn't in depth enough to be intellectually interesting, and it wasn't personal enough to make an interesting memoir-style read. The information kept repeating, like each chapter was intended to stand anole.(less)
OK, I just didn't get it. I didn't care about any of the characters or their struggles. If the people had been interesting or even pleasant, then I co...moreOK, I just didn't get it. I didn't care about any of the characters or their struggles. If the people had been interesting or even pleasant, then I could have bought into the search for Jewish identity. If the struggle to define identity as a Jew (or a Jewish wannabee) had seemed more universal, then I could have forgiven the abrasiveness of the characters.
As it was, there was no hook to get me into the story, and I remained uninterested until the end, which made no sense to me.
The book clearly extrapolates trends in our current society, both technological and societal, and sets up a gro...moreThis audiobook was quite an experience!
The book clearly extrapolates trends in our current society, both technological and societal, and sets up a group of wealthy young people in that society.
In addition to the Internet-style Feed directly to the brain, there were schools run by Schools Inc., since the government didn't want to pay enough money to keep running the schools themselves, and besides, they didn't teach anything interesting or useful anyway.
There is a US government that seems to be uniting the rest of the world against it, and a US population that isn't really playing attention, whether by their own choice, or by the choice of those that run the Feed, I'm not really certain.
All of this in a book published in 2002-- we don't seem to be changing course away from any of this.
The world built in the book had amazing breadth, but didn't present the same depth. I think this was a deliberate choice on the part of the author, to emphasize the aspects that tie into the points the author was making. I suspect that if the novel had not been targeted at a YA audience, more of this would have been presented in the book. I was left with a number of questions, but none that were important to the characters, events and messages of this book.
I have only one quibble with the Feed world, and that's that I think the Feed technology would have been established long before society reached the point where shuttles between the Earth, the Moon, and various planets were common. That's a minor thing, however, and overall, the world here was fascinating.
I had the same problem with Titus that I often have with young male leads in YA books. He was a little to realistic, and I often got annoyed with him. Titus was a deeper character than his friends (a scary thought), but it was the outsider character of Violet that introduced him to an alternative way of looking at the world, and made the book work for me.
And the audio production? It really brought the Feed to life, including music and sound effects for the flood of messages flowing constantly flowing through. Luckily, it was presented judiciously-- I could easily have been overwhelmed.