For anyone who's been in a relationship (ever) and who has had music in some way be a part of that, this is a fantastic read to wrap your head aroundFor anyone who's been in a relationship (ever) and who has had music in some way be a part of that, this is a fantastic read to wrap your head around how the two fit together. Funny and smart without a lot of pretensions, it won't hurt your head to read, but you'll end up thinking. The movie with John Cusack, Joan Cusack, Jack Black, Catherine Zeta-Jones, etc. is also great....more
What I love most about this book is that it harkens back to the quirky, witty, brutally honest self-reflection, and sweet triumph of Nick Hornby's earWhat I love most about this book is that it harkens back to the quirky, witty, brutally honest self-reflection, and sweet triumph of Nick Hornby's early works, like the great High Fidelity.
Duncan, a music buff in England obsessed with the work of American song-writer Tucker Crowe, discovers Tucker's latest work, an album of stripped-down recordings called Juliet, Naked. Unfortunately, his girlfriend, Annie, doesn't love it so much. This brings into sharp relief that Duncan and Annie may or may not love each other as much as they thought they did.
In a lovely plot twist, it is Annie, not Duncan, who gets in touch with Tucker. Tucker has been hiding away in America, ignoring his cult-rock-star fandom, in order to take care of his equally gifted young son. In typical Nick Hornby-style, Tucker is exceedingly aware of his faults as a human, a husband, a father, and a musician, but still has a spark of greatness about him. Annie is just discovering what it means to have her own life and her own opinions, and as all great love stories go, these two people begin to find out it isn't too late for them - in life or in love or in music - after all.
There's something voyeuristic about reading the way Nick Hornby writes about middle-aged (or approaching middle-aged) male emotions. It's so brutally honest about hopes and fears, regrets and failures, triumphs and hopes. Though there are sad moments, overall the story is one of inspiration in many forms....more
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Doesn't that make you want to take a big bite out of the book itself? What is this society? What'sThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Doesn't that make you want to take a big bite out of the book itself? What is this society? What's Potato Peel Pie? Who is in it, how did it get started - so many questions come to mind when you read such a deliciously convoluted title.
The book is an epistolary novel, which means it is told entirely in the form of letters. I love this form of novel; it feels so much more intimate. You're not just getting this tale, you're reading the thoughts and feelings behind the actions. People feel so much freer and more able to put down on paper (in the form of letters) what they can't, or won't, verbally describe. If all the letters don't actually describe the scenario, then they serve to tantalize you with glimpses of the plot and tease you into reading more.
The letters are all to, from, or about Ms. Juliet Ashton, the central character in this novel. She is a writer by trade, so her letters are wonderfully descriptive, yet always leave you wanting to read more. She receives a letter from a man on the island of Guernsey. He had purchased a book written by Charles Lamb, which had been previously owned by Ms. Ashton. He writes to say he enjoyed this first taste of Charles Lamb and wonders if she would be able to help him in procuring more works of similar literary quality and merit.
Ms. Ashton beings writing with Mr. Dawsey Adams (the man who wrote her), and is thus introduced to the society he is apart of - The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The current year being 1946, people are still recovering and rebuilding their lives from the devastation of World War II. This society was begun during the German occupation of the Channel Islands, of which Guernsey is a part. Soon Juliet is corresponding with many of the members of this society, slowly uncovering the stories of German wartime occupation - the love, loss, friendship, and courage that occurred on this isolated island during the war - and getting a first-hand look at what that means in her own life.
No part of this book disappoints. I wanted to rush through it to see how and what happens, but I wanted it to never end. Also, it's a very sweet and sad story about how the book came to be. Mary Ann Shaffer was writing this novel when she unexpectedly passed away. Her niece, Annie Barrows, a famous children's author (she wrote the Ivy & Bean books), finished the novel for her. It became a success, because how could it not, but is so bittersweet due to the loss of its original author.
Fans of The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, and/or Letters from an Age of Reason by Nora Hague will love this book as well. This is the perfect summer read....more
Two things first: I hate this cover. Despite that, I really enjoyed the story.
I absolutely judge a book by its cover, and there's something about theTwo things first: I hate this cover. Despite that, I really enjoyed the story.
I absolutely judge a book by its cover, and there's something about the woman on this cover that really turns me off. To the point where, despite having waited patiently for this book to become available on my library queue, when it came in, it took the book actually being due for me to stop ignoring it in the pile on my floor and actually read the damn thing, and once I did that, I read it in one day. So, there you go. Just one more example of why you should really never judge a book by it's (quite awful) cover.
If you have not been introduced to the Parasol Protectorate series yet, it is a delightful mix of Queen Victoria-era London and it's surrounding countryside, with occasional forays into other parts of Europe; the supernatural, paranormal, and preternatural worlds; steampunkery in terms of machinery and accessories, though the clothing is more typically Victorian; and lots and lots of tea drinking.
I've been a bit wishy-washy on whether I was fully in support of this series or not. There's always something that I don't really like in these books, making me feel vaguely irritated while reading them, and yet they suck me in with the quality of writing and the unexpected plot elements and the most ridiculous situations the characters get themselves into and the descriptions of Victorian life. Dammit.
Luckily, book 4 was much better, in my estimation, than book 3 (I don't like marital tension, and there was a lot less of that in this book), though it was a close call because I almost stopped reading after the first 3 pages. That's how disappointing I found the first plot point. BUT, as the book went on, it was woven in, in such a delicate and thoughtful way, that soon I was on board and interested to see where things would go next.
Alexia Tarabotti, Lady Maccon, is eight months pregnant. Despite feeling the size of a fully-inflated dirigible, she tries not to let that slow her down as she investigates a new plot to kill the queen. Delving into the history of the last assassination attempt on the queen means diving into the history of how and why her husband Conall came to London from Scotland, a circumstance that no one is happy to remember as it involves betrayal and poison and a mad werewolf Alpha. After some sleuthing and deducing, Alexia realizes she's actually on the trail of two mysteries, just in time to alert the queen who's actually in danger (and it's not the queen you first think it is), save Genevieve's son, relocate a hive, relocate the werewolves, and give birth to the most beautiful and astonishing little creature ("creature" because I don't want to ruin the surprise). The whole cast of characters is present including a surprise visit from Alexia's sister, Felicity, who may or may not have joined the women's suffrage movement; Ivy and her hats who get sent off to Scotland for reconnaissance (there's a true friend!); Genevieve and her tinkering (octopuses come back into play); Lord Akeldama and his dandy drones; and of course, the Woolsey werewolves.
I enjoyed this book the most since the first novel, and am very much looking forward to book #5 in the Parasol Protectorate series, Timeless, out in March 2012. I warn you, though, I think I will continue not to like the covers....more
Another almost-indescribable Flavia de Luce adventure! Seriously, I'm not even worried about gushing too much, because every single novel in this seriAnother almost-indescribable Flavia de Luce adventure! Seriously, I'm not even worried about gushing too much, because every single novel in this series delivers. It's the best mash-up of a child protagonist's inquisitive nature, Sherlock Holmes's logic, historical literary fiction, murder mystery, and general good fun.
Continuing to explore the lives of land-rich, cash-poor, post-World War II, British countryside gentry, the Flavia de Luce novels each feature a murder mystery solved by 11-year-old Flavia herself. In this, the fourth novel in the series, Colonel de Luce has finally succumbed to mounting debts by allowing a film studio to take over Buckshaw, the de Luce estate. Movie star, Phyllis Wyvern, with complete cast and crew descend, all in the week before Christmas. In between concocting a sticky tar substance to catch St. Nicholas (just to make sure he IS real), Flavia is busy NOT getting in the way of the film company and making friends with Ms. Wyvern, much to her sister Feely's consternation.
Soon most of the village has also descended as Ms. Wyvern has agreed to give a special one-act performance of Romeo & Juliet to help raise funds for a new church roof. When a blizzard traps the town at Buckshaw, there are plenty of suspects when Flavia discovers Ms. Wyvern dead in her room during the night after her performance. Inspector Hewitt turns up, of course, and though he tries to avoid Flavia's assistance, she is, as usual, several steps ahead of him. All the favorite (and those favorite-to-hate) characters are present during this trying time, including Aunt Felicity who has more to do with this mystery than Flavia can imagine. Old war secrets, unexpected family connections, Dogger's bottomless wealth of information, and some good old-fashioned sleuthing all combine to help save the day in a truly shocking display of chemistry.
A great seasonal read for those who don't want anything too naughty OR nice. ...more