For some reason, I'm not as drawn to Chinese history as I am to American and European history, so I wasn't dying to read this book that others were raFor some reason, I'm not as drawn to Chinese history as I am to American and European history, so I wasn't dying to read this book that others were raving about, but what a treat! Well...if you can call a book that deals with an abundance of depressing subject matter a treat! Snow Flower and Lily are two young girls who are arranged as "laotong" (meaning "old sames" due to being girls born nearly on the same day to same-status parents), a secret "eternal" relationship with one other girl/woman that is stronger than the bond between husband and wife. Their relationship over many decades is filled with some highs, but mostly lows, that kept me intrigued. I also learned a lot about women's interactions and place in society, family relationships, and the tragedy of foot binding in 19th Century China. A great read.
It's typical for me to be drawn to family sagas--I realize more and more how much I enjoy observing the different personalities interacting and reactiIt's typical for me to be drawn to family sagas--I realize more and more how much I enjoy observing the different personalities interacting and reacting within the family dynamic. But a topic I tend to avoid in books is industry...boring!...so I was a bit torn about whether or not to pick this off the shelf at Half-Price Books. Boy, I'm so glad I listen to my gut--it rarely disappoints! The main reason I was interested in this story at all was because my mother's uncles were coal miners in a small coal-mining town in Arkansas. I'd been curious as a child when hearing them talk about buddies or cousins with "black lung" and various other ailments from their years in the mines. What I didn't expect was that Baker Towers would be such a compelling read! I could hardly put it down!
Jennifer Haigh did a phenomenal job of character development with all six members of the Novak family and key townspeople spanning more than two decades after WWII in the town of Bakerton. So thoroughly researched are her details, I felt I could imagine nearly every scene--more like watching a movie than reading! Haigh is from a small mining family and town, many of which are disappearing. The story conveys a warmth that is indicative of how much she cares for the characters and community she remembers and imagines. I didn't want it to end....more
I love a good book sale. I love to chat with other readers and find gems among the fodder at the suggestion of strangers. That's how I found Last DaysI love a good book sale. I love to chat with other readers and find gems among the fodder at the suggestion of strangers. That's how I found Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger. I would never have chosen this book--sports stories usually aren't my thing--but I was standing in line waiting to pay for my two-foot stack at the library's $1 book sale this spring when the woman wearing purple scrubs in front of me picked it up from a table, asked me if I'd read it, and told me it was one of her favorite books ever. She said she never would have chosen it, got it in a book exchange, and read it when she was desperate for something to read. Oh well, what's another $1? As she balanced it on top of my stack, she assured me I'd love it.
Her instinct was spot on. What a delight! Thank you, thank you, Scrubs Lady! I just finished reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close last week, a book that took a lot of thought, concentration and time, so I was ready for something lighter and funnier. When I saw this in my stack, I remembered Scrubs mentioned "quick and fun," and who doesn't think "baseball" when it's the middle of summer? If only I liked hot dogs and had some apple pie... Oh well...gobbled this book up in two nights, and laughed out loud almost the entire time! The main character, Joey Margolis, is funny enough, but his hero, Charlie Banks, 3rd baseman of the NY Giants, is a scream--and my hero, too! Every human should be a Charlie Banks.
I won't give away the ending, but I was glad everyone else was in bed. Written entirely in epistolary form using letters, postcards and newspaper clippings, you'll read this in a snap, and you'll be so glad you did, even if your copy costs more than $1! ...more
I liked a lot of things about this book...it was a fairly quick read considering I've been too busy to do much reading! The characters were well develI liked a lot of things about this book...it was a fairly quick read considering I've been too busy to do much reading! The characters were well developed and there was definitely suspense and intrigue. But there was a major stumbling block that kept me from giving it a four- or five-star rating--sex. Now, I'm no prude, and I enjoy a racy passage now and again, but almost every character in this book was defined by his/her sexuality-in-overdrive. It's a major theme--one that seems out of place for the setting and times. And it totally overshadows the book's other themes of finding love and forgiveness. I found myself thinking, "Gross!" too many times, so three stars it is....more
I liked this book...I did, but I never "settled in" to it. I had the hardest time reconciling the time period with the content, which was a constant dI liked this book...I did, but I never "settled in" to it. I had the hardest time reconciling the time period with the content, which was a constant distraction. It was set in 1933(originally published in 1954), but my mind kept thinking modern-day fiction. The subject matter was so much more contemporary, sex more explicit and issues more current than I could have ever imagined for that time in history. If it hadn't been for the periodic bits of old-fashioned, Bogie-era speech, expressions and social norms, I'd have assumed it was written today....more
I gave this 4 stars, but it actually may be my own fault that it wasn't more. It's a beautiful, unpretentious story about a particular piece of art thI gave this 4 stars, but it actually may be my own fault that it wasn't more. It's a beautiful, unpretentious story about a particular piece of art that may or may not be a Vermeer. Unfortunately, I had a lot going on when I started reading it and wasn't as consistent as usual about my reading time. Therefore, I found myself re-reading pages to update story lines or remind myself of characters, which makes me crazy! I first blamed the author because of the introduction of characters/stories with every new chapter (due to her reverse chronology method of writing). That actually is the case, but it was my too-long breaks in reading that made it a problem. Therefore, it's best to read this when you have time to concentrate your reading to a few days. It's actually a short, quick read if your timing is right, and I ultimately loved the way reverse chronology worked for this book. I definitely will put it on my list to read again. ...more
I don't know exactly what it was about this book, but I adored it! I felt such serenity and warmth as I read it that I slowed it down and savored everI don't know exactly what it was about this book, but I adored it! I felt such serenity and warmth as I read it that I slowed it down and savored every page. I hated for it to end. I truly think it may be my favorite book of all time! It's too bad Jetta Carlson wrote only this--but I suppose I should be happy that her one attempt was a masterpiece. She definitely had the knack for telling a story and leaving nothing to question. The fact that it was set in Missouri--in the Ozarks and Kansas City--is a perk for those of us who know the area well, but the story is universal. Boy and girl meet, fall in love, marry, raise a family, and grow old together through the hills and valleys of life. It's nothing unique or entirely idyllic, yet it's incomparable. ...more
This book was amazing. I'm not sure I can say anything about it that already hasn't been said. To me, it was further proof of my belief that no singleThis book was amazing. I'm not sure I can say anything about it that already hasn't been said. To me, it was further proof of my belief that no single person is inconsequential; that every person has a story. Sadly, it reinforces the reality that people can be unbelievably cruel to other human beings (and other living things) while justifying their actions based on ignorance and intolerance, and that large groups can blindly accept the extreme beliefs of a few, allowing those beliefs to dictate policy. Skeeter, with Aibileen, Minny and the other maids, bravely hoped their stories would offer the knowledge and truth that can open minds. ...more
I loved this book for the heartwarming insight it presented about the German occupation of the island of Guernsey (off of England) during WWII. It wasI loved this book for the heartwarming insight it presented about the German occupation of the island of Guernsey (off of England) during WWII. It was a unique way to present a very interesting slice of history. That's what I love about historical fiction and non-fiction--just when you think you've read all there is to read about an event, a different perspective opens up a whole new dialogue or way of thinking!
I gave it four stars because the book is set up entirely in letter format, which is typically an easy and quick read, but this book had too many characters to pull that off smoothly. If I didn't pick it up for a day or two, I lost track of who was who. It takes much longer for character development with this writing method, and I found myself having to refer back to remind myself who Mark was, etc. This is a book where one of those character trees would have been helpful for the first third or so, but aside from that, I thoroughly enjoyed its charm. ...more