My work book club read this book for our April/May selection. I had attempted it before through an audiobook narrated by Elizabeth McGovern (wonderfulMy work book club read this book for our April/May selection. I had attempted it before through an audiobook narrated by Elizabeth McGovern (wonderful to listen to but definitely an exercise in mindfulness to pay close attention for a prolonged period!). I was glad I gave it a second attempt (and wouldn't have if my group hadn't selected it)--it was easy but touched on some interesting (to me) areas of time and place for the protagonist, Cora.
Cora is an orphan in New York who is sent west on one of the orphan trains. She is fortunate enough to be selected be an older couple in Kansas who are kind to her and she ends up staying in Kansas for her formative years. Through a few circumstantial events that become revealed later; she ends up the chaperone of Louise Brooks (a real person who is fictionalized in this book) as she auditions for the Denishawn dance company in New York over the summer. Louise is Cora's exact opposite; she finds Cora uptight and ruled by a moral code that doesn't apply to her and actively rebels against Cora for most of their time together. While Louise is possibly a "villain" in the story, she does, inadvertently, challenge Cora to critically think about her role in her life---her life with her husband, her role as a mother, and social norms that have put restrictions on her life and on the lives of other people she admires and loves.
The book took some surprising twists and turns; I wasn't expecting a couple of them. The last forty or so pages seemed like a very extended epilogue and might have been a bit extraneous but I still really enjoyed them. I am also intrigued by this method of writing that anchors the time and place of a story in a real person, in this place, Louise Brooks. I wonder how much of a disservice or service this is to their legacy. There were definitely times when the author portrayed Louise as a sympathetic character--but more often than not she was more like a petulant girl-child or a spoiled and willful child. ...more
1) The setting for a majority of the book was in Oceanside, California--a town just north of where I gThis book was so fun to read on a lot of levels.
1) The setting for a majority of the book was in Oceanside, California--a town just north of where I grew up. There was a sub-setting in Ann Arbor, Michigan--where I am currently located. I love reading books that take place in areas that I'm familiar with!
2) The plot of the book was so intriguing--particularly exploring the decisions we make as impetuous young adults (and beyond) and the lifelong effects that those decisions reep.
3) The relationships between the characters; particularly between Nadia & Aubrey--the two females in the "love triangle" at the center of the book (I hate that descriptor but there you have it). Nadia, the beautiful girl who's mother committed suicide with no apparent reason and Aubrey, the pious "good girl" who's mother abandons her to live with her older sister. The friendship that they develop, cultivate, and test is very interesting to observe.
4) I love the use of the greek chorus of "mothers" -- women at the church that both girls attend who have "seen it all"....more
This is the story about a girl who lives in a bubble--she has a rare disease that prevents her from leaving the sterile environment of her home and alThis is the story about a girl who lives in a bubble--she has a rare disease that prevents her from leaving the sterile environment of her home and also prevents other people from coming in. Enter the new neighbors and the boy next door who she falls in insta-love with by stalking him through the windows in her house (which I'll allow, because who knows how my stalker-like-gauge would be if I could cooped up in my house for 18 years). Anyhoo. I started skimming pretty early on--I was reading the book but I just really didn't feel sympathetic towards the characters even though OMG I SHOULD HAVE BECAUSE SHE WAS NEVER GOING TO GET OUT OF HER HOUSE AND HOW WAS SHE GOING TO LOVE THIS BOY? I dunno. Maybe it's the post-election anger and cynicism about all the feels. I probably should have read some Doris Kearns Goodwin instead of some Young Adult escapism. I just wasn't ready for it. There is a pretty decent/good twist at the end.
Worst review ever. My heart just isn't in it, guys. ...more
I had been waiting for a zillion years (approximately) for this book to become available at the library. As fate would have it, it became available duI had been waiting for a zillion years (approximately) for this book to become available at the library. As fate would have it, it became available during quite possibly the busiest couple of weeks in my professional career. I read in fits and starts at first--this story told in multiple narratives about exploring the Wolverine River Valley in Alaska; a territory that was 'literally' uncharted and not on any maps made by the Europeans/Americans in the late 19th century. When I finally got into it and calibrated myself to all the characters and non-linear timeline of the book, I was able to fully enjoy every page. It was a beautiful and fulfilling novel--great and unconventional storytelling between a Colonel who is tasked with charting the unknown parts of the world and his wife, who is left at the Vancouver barracks while pregnant. Great cozy fall/winter read. ...more
This summer I have been walking home from work 2-3 times a week. I was sick of my playlist and decided to try an audiobook just to shake things up. IThis summer I have been walking home from work 2-3 times a week. I was sick of my playlist and decided to try an audiobook just to shake things up. I already had the kindle version of this book, so buying the audio was significantly reduced...it turned out to be a great way to pass a good 45 minute walk. The book itself lent itself well to an audio book in this circumstance; the plot was not complicated, the characters were endearing and actually doing things (rather than sit around in angst like most YA books) and I didn't have to always be fully present to figure out what was going on.
The premise of the book is rooted between the friendship of best friends Emily & Sloan. Emily comes home early in the summer to find that Sloan has literally disappeared. The book, told in flashbacks and in present day, demonstrates the importance of their friendship to each other as told through Emily's eyes. Emily has always been the one defined in relation to Sloan; "you're Sloan's friend, right?"....and with Sloan's disappearance over the summer, Emily has to figure out how to be on her own.
A plot device in the book is that right after Emily discovers that Sloan has disappeared, she receives a letter from her in the mail that gives her a list of things she needs to accomplish; (i.e., pick apples at night, hug a Jamie, sleep under the stars, Penelope, etc...). Emily is convinced that once she finishes the list, it will lead her to Sloan; so she goes forward and starts checking things off the list, as uncomfortable as they might be.
Its a great ode to the strength of female friendship; has a smattering of romance; and is a sweet little summer book to read (or listen to) in bits and pieces.
This book may have suffered from a very stressful time at work for me; I was stuck in the first chapter for what seemed to be three weeks. I'd start iThis book may have suffered from a very stressful time at work for me; I was stuck in the first chapter for what seemed to be three weeks. I'd start it and literally fall asleep where I sat. I wonder if I had read it during a more relaxed period if I would have been able to barrel through. Pressed with an upcoming book club meeting, I made a vat (!) of coffee and sat down to read it the weekend before and ended up really enjoying it once I got my reading mojo back.
The stage for the book is two nurses; one a nurse trained by Florence Nightingale and who trained in the Crimean War and the other a "walking sister"...a nun who puts her faith into practice. The former, Lib, is the protagonist---and tells the story of how the two of them are charged for two weeks to watch an eleven year old girl who claims to not have to eat--a "wonder". Lib is extremely skeptical and the first half of the book seems to be a scavenger hunt of her looking for cracks and nooks in the house and trying to distinguish how her charge is getting nourishment. As the characters more fully develop and we get the backstory for what is going on; why Lib is there; the history of the story and the town; and also the unveilings of how the Catholic faith was so integral to actions in the community; the books picks up pace and it starts to feel like a race against time as to if the girl will starve to death or if she is actually a "wonder" who can subsist off "manna from heaven". ...more
This is more of a 3.5 star book for me but rounding up because I'm nice like that?
Two people survive a plane crash that occurs shortly after taking ofThis is more of a 3.5 star book for me but rounding up because I'm nice like that?
Two people survive a plane crash that occurs shortly after taking off from Martha's Vineyard. In it are the pilot and the co-pilot; a flight attendant, a wall street tycoon who's in legal trouble and his wife, an executive for a 24 hour news station (think Fox News), his wife and their two children--a daughter and a son. The news executive also has a bodyguard with him who was put in place after his daughter Rachel was kidnapped when she was a toddler. There is also an artist who is on the plane; the one person who really stands out because he was invited at the very last minute at the request of one of the wives.
The artist and the son survive; and the artist in a heroic feet; swims the two of them 10 miles in the Atlantic Ocean to shore.
Many questions arise given the nature of the crash and the people who were on board....why did the plane crash, was there malicious intent, what is the backstory on all the passengers on the plane; why did the painter & little boy survive; etc. The book seeks out to answer those by including narratives from the 24 hour infotainment channel trying to make it into a more provocative story, contrasted with the NTSB investigator looking at the facts of the flight plan, the black box and trying to locate the wreckage.
I thought the book was very interesting and kept me engaged throughout in the twists and turns of all the passengers flawed lives leading up to the crash. The main negative I had was the ending; which I felt was more of a cop out and left me feeling very unfulfilled. ...more
This was a great book to read aloud to Bjorn; short chapters with beautiful pictures interspersed throughout. It's a very sweet tale about Roz the RobThis was a great book to read aloud to Bjorn; short chapters with beautiful pictures interspersed throughout. It's a very sweet tale about Roz the Robot; who "wakes up" alone on an island and must determine how to survive.
There are lovely messages about our environment's delicate ecosystem, being compassionate, being a good friend, etc. Bjorn loved it and it was a great read for the adults, too. ...more
In the years immediately after the Civil War, Captain Kidd, a man who makes his money traveling around remote towns in Texas reading to townspeople abIn the years immediately after the Civil War, Captain Kidd, a man who makes his money traveling around remote towns in Texas reading to townspeople about the news in faraway places, is charged with an unusual task. He is offered a $50 gold piece to take a young girl, Johanna, back to her relatives. Johanna had been living with the Kiowa tribe for the past four years; her parents and sister killed in a raid and she was absorbed into the tribe as a six-year old. When Captain Kidd first meets her, she knows little-to-no English, is skittish and defensive, and does not want to be re-assimilated with her white relatives.
The character of the Captain made this book for me--he was a quiet man with a quiet narrative but he has such an endearing and protective quality in how he shepherds Johanna to her family. Everytime they came across someone on the lawless Texas roads; there was concern if it was friend or foe. And there was always the tickling in Captain's mind of just exactly where was he taking Johanna.
Matthew and his family live in 18th century New England. The book starts with Matthew and his father building a homestead on a plot of land in Maine;Matthew and his family live in 18th century New England. The book starts with Matthew and his father building a homestead on a plot of land in Maine; and his father leaving Matthew (aged 12) behind so that he can go and retrieve the rest of the family--his mother, sister, and newborn baby sister. He tells Matthew he will be back in seven weeks.
The story primarily takes place in the time where Matthew is waiting for his family--and the relationship he builds with the local American Indian tribe; particularly another young boy from the tribe who Matt, through a quid pro quo circumstance, is tasked with teaching to read.
This book is a great survival story and we had fun reading it aloud to our six year old boy. It's a bit dated with some potentially not politically correct references to the American Indians in the story--but I do not believe the author intended to be disrespectful. There is adventure and suspense and fundamentally an appreciation of cultures outside our own--which is a good lesson for little guys. ...more
I have been trying to think of a review to write for this book but I'm not really sure how to describe it. The sense of place and the atmosphere thatI have been trying to think of a review to write for this book but I'm not really sure how to describe it. The sense of place and the atmosphere that the author describes is beautiful and moving--there's a bucolic feeling as she describes the mountains, the apples, the apricots--like a hidden paradise in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. The plotline is meandering yet linear--following Talmadage (the orchardist) and how two young girls enter his peaceful life and both ground it in purpose and turn it on its head in taking care of them.
This was a slow read for me but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I felt like I appreciated the writing and did not feel anxious while reading--it was a nice way to escape. ...more
A series of vignettes from different perspectives illustrating the magnitude of impact for the choices we make (whether deliberate or unintentional) oA series of vignettes from different perspectives illustrating the magnitude of impact for the choices we make (whether deliberate or unintentional) on people close to us and those we have never met. The story pivots on the decision of an American B-24 pilot who crashes in France during WWII. We then move back and forth in time to see how the decision he made when running into a german soldier has influenced the lives of many. Characters we hear about include:
*John, the B-24 pilot from the US *Hugo, a German soldier who has a grave facial disfigurement and cannot remember anything prior to the injury *Amelia, John's granddaughter who is blind and works at MoMA in New York curating exhibits for other blind individuals. *Sebastien, the son of a French farmer who's land the B-24 bomber falls onto *Martin, a man who works in a nursing care facility in Los Angeles who, as a child, emigrated to the United States with his adopted parents. *Daniel, a young boy who can't read in Manchester, UK--his mother is Nigerian and he does notknow who his father is, but he is neighbors with Hugo.
This was a unique book that had a linear feel to it (we were moving towards a reveal about what actually happened to all the characters), but told in a non-traditional way. It took awhile for me to acclimate to the plot and the characters but when I did it moved along pretty quickly. It was a short and satisfying novel. ...more