I discovered this book after reading a Cup of Jo blog entry on five favorite books. I have mixed feelings about Cup of Jo, mainly because the author sI discovered this book after reading a Cup of Jo blog entry on five favorite books. I have mixed feelings about Cup of Jo, mainly because the author seems so sincere and kind, yet out of touch with us peasants who can't afford chambray rompers to wear to the playground (for ourselves, not our children!). Anyway, this book was described as a comfort read in a time for me when that was all I could handle or want so I gave it a try.
Like Cup of Jo, this memoir of Anna Quindlen's life is a little out of touch. For instance, discussing her preference for solitude and how she escapes to her cabin in the woods to write. How many of us have this luxury? That said, I still felt like her insight into who she was as she was aging and what mattered to her most were very poignant. It dovetailed well off a class I had been taking on "Successful Aging" at SPH and what types of things enhance or hinder our Quality of Life in our old age.
My favorite segment was her chapter on "Girlfriends". I have quite a few I would not survive without and she stressed the importance of these critical people in our lives--especially as we age. Our scope of friendships gets, in some ways, smaller--but our friendships become more elevated and important.
I loved this book. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast but mashed up with fairy lore.
Feyre (Fay-ruh) is the youngest daughter of a merchant who losesI loved this book. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast but mashed up with fairy lore.
Feyre (Fay-ruh) is the youngest daughter of a merchant who loses all his money in a gamble gone wrong. Her father and her two older sisters are forced into poverty. Feyre has taken to hunting as a means to support the family with food and money. On one hunt, she ends up shooting a wolf; but it turns out this wolf was a fairy in disguise in the woods. A day later, a beast comes to her small house and demands retribution for the fairy kill; a life for a life. Feyre is then whisked away to live in the Spring Court where she is made to live with Tamlin, the High Lord of that fairy realm. As she lives with him and discovers she's not necessarily his prisoner, she starts sensing that there is something else at play as to why she was brought back to the Spring Court. Feyre is told snippets of things here and there that don't make sense--but she soon is able to cobble together that there is another danger in the fairy realm and her role within the Spring Court is contingent on the curse being broken.
ANYHOO--yes, very Beauty and the Beast-esque. It was just such a fun read. Its apparently the first in a trilogy (because apparently you can't do books for YA as standalone anymore) and the next one will be based on the myth of Hades & Persephone. Woot. Sign me up. ...more
I read this book in under 48 hours. I'm not sure if I was fueled by the fact that my library loan was about to end, or if I just needed a little sometI read this book in under 48 hours. I'm not sure if I was fueled by the fact that my library loan was about to end, or if I just needed a little something to get me through the many hours it seems to take to get my daughter to sleep these past few days. Many nights sitting in the rocking chair with her only halfway asleep but unable to transfer her to the crib. God bless the kindle app on the iPhone for making it so easy to be stuck in one place for a long time....
This is my third book by Sarah Addison Allen. I find them to be fun and light and tolerable chick lit and this book was no exception. It tells the story of Emily Shelby, who has returned to the town that her mother grew up in of Mullaby, North Carolina after her mother's death. The mother that she knew and remembered does not appear to be the same woman that the town, remembers. It is all linked to an incident with another prominent family in town that drove her to leave a long while ago. Emily returns and tries to understand the two different versions of her mother.
It also tells the story of Julia, who has inherited her father's restaurant and bakes cakes for the town that seem to have magical powers. She always leaves the windows open when she bakes with the hopes that the scents will reach key people in her life and bring them back to her.
Since this is magical realism, there are other things that happen including: A giant A mystery surrounding why certain townspeople can't come out at night Wallpaper that changes itself to suit the mood's of the room's inhabitants Frogs in dryers
Listen, this is not five star literature. But its great escapism if you can just take it for what it is. ...more
This was more of a 3.5 stars for me but I'm rounding up because this book was just what I needed on a weekend with too much homework, an abundance ofThis was more of a 3.5 stars for me but I'm rounding up because this book was just what I needed on a weekend with too much homework, an abundance of activities, and just not enough time. It was a great decompressing read that didn't require too much thinking (sorry, brain) and I was able to finish it in a relatively short period. Also, I follow a reviewer who has never lead me down a bad path when it comes to his reviews. I was surprised by his five star rating of this book, to be honest. But after reading "the Program", I can see why when given the appropriate book reading climate, this book is five star worthy.
In the world of "The Program", teen suicide is at epidemic proportions. The only real answer to the problem is a program that wipes teens infected memories clean and rehabilitates them and then returns them back to their homes with only partial memories of the past. This sounds totally ethical, right?
Enter protagonist Sloane, who's brother committed suicide and who is dating his best friend James. They've both committed themselves to not going into the program and doing whatever it takes not to show signs of depression, sadness, anger, etc. Otherwise they will get "flagged" and entering the program means not remembering one another, among other things, after they've been treated. An incident with a friend, however, puts both of them at risk.
There is a sequel to this book. I will likely read it. But I will check it out from the library (like I did this book). :) ...more
I went into this book relatively cynical about it and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. I was afraid it was going to be anothI went into this book relatively cynical about it and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. I was afraid it was going to be another Eat, Pray, Love, to which my feelings are decidedly negative. Similarly endorsed by Oprah to boot--there were a myriad of factors going against it from the get go.
That said--a number of people had recommended it to me and, truth be told, I saw the preview for the upcoming movie starring Reese Witherspoon and felt like I should give it a shot. I was not disappointed.
Cheryl Strayed has a really lovely writing style that weaves elements of past and present into her physical and emotional journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. The region she hiked in the Sierra Nevadas is a region I am somewhat familiar with--and I think that helped me to realize what a unique and challenging adventure she was embarking on--a way to find herself after her mother passed away when she was making dangerous and sad life choices. To me, it seemed she was untethered--and I don't think I've ever felt the magnitude of her despair, I certainly can empathize. ...more
The streak with loving books by Simone St. James continues. I've read all of them and haven't been disappointed. This one might be my favor4.5 Stars.
The streak with loving books by Simone St. James continues. I've read all of them and haven't been disappointed. This one might be my favorite, thus far.
The book takes place in 1920s London--after the war. There are lots of families who have lost sons, fathers, husbands--and often under unknown circumstances. Psychics became a popular mechanism to contact soldiers after they had passed and this story centers around Ellie, a true psychic and her former friend, Gloria, who is discovered to have been murdered at the scene of a seance at the outset of the book. Elsie sets out to try and find out who murdered Gloria. Scotland Yard, MI5, and a society set out to disprove psychic mediums are all involved. Along with bona fide ghosts who are totally creepy and add a little bit of supernatural oomph to the story. Its a great "whodunnit" with really rich descriptions of time and place. ...more
This is a really strong four stars from me. The story revolves around the lives of three women; Madeleine, Celeste, and Jane--all who have children stThis is a really strong four stars from me. The story revolves around the lives of three women; Madeleine, Celeste, and Jane--all who have children starting "kindy" in the Fall (which took me awhile to realize was February & March in Australia, where this book takes place). Madeleine has an ex-husband who's remarried who also has a child attending kindy in the same grade; Celeste has a very rich and powerful husband and two twin boys; and Jane is a single mother who has just moved to the town where this book takes place and is much younger than many of the other parents at the school. An incident at the kindy orientation prompts a claim of bullying between kids and divides the parents of the class into two different camps. The aggressiveness on the part of some of the parents seemed really intense (too intense?). If you are reading this book and are about to send your child into kindergarten or whatever the equivalent, I"m pretty sure the way the parents are acting in this book is not the norm (or at least I hope not!) but it makes for entertaining and dramatic reading.
The other major plotline in the book revolves around a murder. We know from the get go that it happens at the school's "trivia night" where all the moms come dressed as Audrey Hepburn and all the dads come dressed as Elvis. However, the person who is murdered, nor the murderer are revealed until the very end of the book--so much of what you're thinking of when you read the book is "who did it and who's dead?".
I was very satisfied with this book and it was hard not to skip ahead to the end to figure out "whodunnit"--but I persevered and made it all the way through to the climactic end! ...more
I'm trying to think of what to put down here. I knew this was a book about the impact of hoarding on families...and I think also how hoarding, which sI'm trying to think of what to put down here. I knew this was a book about the impact of hoarding on families...and I think also how hoarding, which seems like such an easy thing to stay "don't do" occurs...but man, this book had one screwed up family at the center of it. Megan, the eldest daughter, is the neat freak call and response to her mother. The younger sister Bethan, "Beth", who can't seem to figure out who she is in the wake of her mother's illness, Rory & Rhys, the twins--complete opposites of one another--Rory extremely popular and at ease in his own skin; Rhys awkward, small, and dark.
The story is told during at various time points from the early 1990s to April 2011--the date that Megan and her daughter Molly come to clean out their mother Lorelai's house after she's passed away and realize just how bad her hoarding had become. We get snippets of the puzzle as we bounce back and forth in time... and come to get a clearer picture of why she was a hoarder, and why her children and husband made some really awful and/or questionable decisions in its wake.
A good drama-rama family read. Anyone who wants to normalize their own family relations should take solace in that they're not like this family :). ...more
I had seen so many good reviews about this book that it was my one big splurge for our road trip vacation. I paid full price for the sucker on my kindI had seen so many good reviews about this book that it was my one big splurge for our road trip vacation. I paid full price for the sucker on my kindle. It hurt. Oh, did it hurt. But so worth it. I had more than a couple few quiet moments in the car when the kids were napping and Lars was driving and it was so nice to just get lost in a pleasant and silly vacation read of a book.
Two unlikely friends, Jess & Ed, end up driving together to Scotland in order to get Jess' daugther to a Math Olympiad where she has the potential of winning five thousand pounds--a sum so staggering unfamiliar to Jess but it would solve many of her problems, first and foremost, paying tution for her math prodigy daughter to go to a private school that will more foster her abilities. Ed is a software tycoon who accidentally may have leaked information to an ex girlfriend that ended up in a scandal of insider trading. Jess is his cleaning lady and he somehow finds himself offering to drive her and her rag-tag family to the Math Olympiad while he's trying to "lay low" as the insider trading case is investigated.
This is another one of those books that just makes you happy. Its like a romantic comedy--but it doesn't feel so contrived (even though for sure there are scenes that are!). Both Jess & Ed are just lovely to root for and the whole book has so many nice subplots propelling it forward. Will Tanzie get into the Private School? How on earth will Jess stop her older son from being bullied? Will Ed be able to go back to his software company or will he end up in jail? So good. Just loved it. ...more
The setting is the late 1970s in northern Ohio. A family with with mixed ethnic backgrounds (the father is Chinese, the mother is white) deals with thThe setting is the late 1970s in northern Ohio. A family with with mixed ethnic backgrounds (the father is Chinese, the mother is white) deals with the death of their middle daughter, Lydia who is found at the bottom of a lake near their house. The author oscillates between describing viewpoints of all family members before Lydia's death and afterwards. There's the oldest sibling, Nath, who has always been there for Lydia but often resents this role; the youngest sibling, Hannah, who's quiet and observant. The mother, Marilyn, who is running away from being anything like her own mother--a woman abandoned by her husband yet taught home economics and used the Betty Crocker cookbook as a sort of bible for life; and James, the dad--who wants desperately to fit in and not be "the only Oriental in town".
I found so much of this book fascinating--the roles of the siblings to each other and to their parents and the dynamics between the parents and how they projected onto their kids. It felt like it was building to a bigger crescendo than what actually ended up happening -- but I was fully satisfied with the ending as well. The writing style was a little all over the place--it was written in the third person and the author would switch perspectives from paragraph to paragraph. Sometimes I had to go back and figure out who's head she was in when she was writing but it was usually just because I was reading too fast.
I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn't realize the book was ending (a con to reading the kindle, I suppose). I was so sad when I "turned the pI was so wrapped up in the story that I didn't realize the book was ending (a con to reading the kindle, I suppose). I was so sad when I "turned the page" and discovered I was at the author's acknowledgments--despite ending on a note that I think had real conclusion, I just want to know more about all the characters.
The novel is told in the alternating voices of four individuals whose lives intersect and become entangled in various ways throughout the novel. Avis, the Las Vegas housewife; Luis, the army war veteran who's suffering from PTSD; Bashkim, a child of Albanian immigrants; and Roberta, a social worker. My favorite thread was Bashkim and Luis'--or at least how the two of them interacted with each other through letters and the impact they had on each other's lives was so powerful. That said, I liked all the characters, despite their flaws (and they all have them--except maybe Bashkim who is probably one of the most endearing and lovely child characters ever).
I felt very fulfilled by this novel. I really wish there were more--I would have kept reading. ...more
This is a multi-generational story with lots of magical realism. I mean, the main character is born with wings. The story is told by Ava Lavender andThis is a multi-generational story with lots of magical realism. I mean, the main character is born with wings. The story is told by Ava Lavender and starts from her grandmother, Emmeline's origins in France, to her mother's Vivian's experience as the daughter of the "local witch" , to Ava born with wings and twin sister to Henry, who only talks when it is critically important.
The narrative is very fluid and does not really follow a linear pattern--lots of characters are introduced and given snippets of the story--but all story lines followed are eventually anchored back to Ava and her family.
I'm not giving this book the review it deserves--its a hard book to write about in a review-like style. I did enjoy it very much, though. ...more
I like a good fairy tale retelling--there's something somewhat comforting knowing the compass rose navigating the story's path. This story manages toI like a good fairy tale retelling--there's something somewhat comforting knowing the compass rose navigating the story's path. This story manages to have predictability but also some great surprises and is a solid re-imagining of Cinderella that also weaves in elements from other stories (easy to see which stories especially given the fact that I knew there were three books to follow Cinder; Scarlet, Cress, and Winter--Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Snow White respectively.
The backstory... Cinder is a cyborg (part human; part machine) who has no memory beyond eleven years old. Her father was a famous scientist who passed away and left her guardianship to his wife (evil stepmother) who is disgusted by cyborgs (as are most humans) and makes her work in a machine repair-shop to make ends meet. They live in a part of the world called "New Bangkok" and in this world, there is a deadly plague that is affecting people without discrimination. There is also a precarious alliance with a Queen who lives on the Moon and those humans who live there (called Lunars) and it is feared that she will invade earth at its most vulnerable time. So, in essence--lots of problems. Our prince charming is named Kai and his father has contracted the plague that is affecting earth. With no antidote, he is reluctant to accept that he will soon become emperor. He also is involved in trying to figure out how best to navigate working with the Queen of the Moon. He also has an android that he brought to Cinder to fix and bam...insta-love (lame).
Anyway--I read this a very quick airplane trip from Detroit to Boston and got through about half of it and was able to finish it up the next day on the return flight home. I was glad to have something engaging and somewhat fast-paced for the trip. That said, when I thought of reading more of the Lunar Chronicle's books, I became a little "meh" about them so decided to read the wikipedia synopsis instead. I spoiled myself, essentially. No real regrets but I am kind of excited to see how she wraps up the series. Even if I just read about it on wikipedia. ...more
This book is told through multiple voices of the Blessings an Irish-Catholic family from Philadelphia--and is told over the sI'd rate this 4.5 stars.
This book is told through multiple voices of the Blessings an Irish-Catholic family from Philadelphia--and is told over the span of about 20 years with each chapter taking a cross section of a time, not really following a very linear pattern. Each character/family-member has their own unique narrative to tell but the way the author interweaves the viewpoints with the overall plot that guides the Blessing family forward is really done quite well.
All the Blessings (for the most part) get their say--and while no one in the book is perfect (far from it) you realize that through the eyes of their family they are loved with all their own imperfections--and that in and of itself is a really nice sentiment to end the day on.