It's possible my enjoyment of this book was entirely circumstantial as I listened to it during a 23 hour car ride from Austin, TX to the great state oIt's possible my enjoyment of this book was entirely circumstantial as I listened to it during a 23 hour car ride from Austin, TX to the great state of Michigan. It was either this, or Talk Radio. The book won out. But something tells me I would have enjoyed this story regardless of when I sat down to read it.
Descent tells the story of the Courtland family—Grant, Angela, Caitlin, and Sean—travel to the Rocky Mountains for a summer vacation before Caitlin leaves for college. The destination is Caitlin's choice. A champion runner, she hopes to challenge herself on the terrain of the mountains in an effort to bolster her ability to compete on the collegiate level in a few months. For Grant and Angela, the vacation represents an opportunity to rebuild their marriage.
At the book's onset, Caitlin and Sean go for an early morning run/bike ride in the mountains. A few hours later, Grant receives a phone call from the county sheriff stating that Sean has been found badly injured on the side of a road, probably hit by a car. Caitlin is nowhere to be found. All too quickly the idyllic vacation turns into a family's worst nightmare—what could have happened to Caitlin? Where is she? Is she alive? Will they ever see her again?
Descent follows Grant, Angela, and Sean as they try to make sense of Caitlin's disappearance.
This story meanders. The prose is incredibly purple at the start-though this ebbs dramatically as the story progresses. Characters are introduced that may or may not have a purpose, and all the while, we are searching - and wondering.
Though portions of this story wander down lanes I didn't care to explore, this story kept its pace. I remained intrigued and was constantly on edge, bracing for the worse possible outcome. This is no small feat given the overall amount of action this book ultimately delivers.
In spite of reading countless reviews that stated, rather matter of fact-ly, that MeBeforeYou was not a love story, I somehow didn't believe them.
ThiIn spite of reading countless reviews that stated, rather matter of fact-ly, that MeBeforeYou was not a love story, I somehow didn't believe them.
This is not a love story.
I was not disappointed by the lack of romance. However, I think the lack of development in the romance department might have prevented me from obtaining the good cry I was secretly craving.
Honestly, I'm still unsure of how I feel about this book.
I neither liked or disliked any of the characters. They were all very vanilla, and mostly non-offensive. That isn't a bad thing if the story is captivating. And for the most part, I was captivated. I'm just not entirely sure why.
As I said, this isn't a love story. If anything, I thought of Will as a mentor to Lou and Lou as entertainment for Will. A finite sense of purpose.
And yet, near the end, we readers are meant to believe the Lou has fallen in love with Will.
I couldn't buy into that, namely due to the questions that gnawed at me throughout this story...would Lou have been even remotely attracted to Will if he had been poor? I found myself repeatedly coming back to this question because Will Turner was certainly an arrogant ass most of the time. He didn't offend me, but he did not incite any feelings of love in me. And that had nothing to do with his disability and everything to do with his lack of personality. His ass like tendencies appeared to be a personality trait that appeared to be attributable to him both pre and post accident. The only likeable trait of Will Turner was his worldly knowledge and life experience , which he achieved via his extreme wealth. What if he had lived a "normal" life pre accident? Would he be as appealing?
This line of thought leads me to my one major gripe about this book.
The author made it too easy on the characters and thereby, the readers, by making her disabled character incredibly wealthy. I have to believe, as difficult as Will's life was, it could have been significantly worse if money was an object of concern. That may seem like a small complaint, but it somehow made this story entirely unbelievable and therefore, rather impossible for me to relate to.
I actually really enjoyed reading about the impacts of disability to a person's life and the lives of the people who love them. It's a topic I'm ignorant about and I was looking forward to reading a book that would enlighten me. And to some extent, I was enlightened. But it could have been so much more enlightening.
On a positive side, it's an incredibly addictive, easy read and was mildly informative. It even managed to make me laugh. More than once.
Girl on the Train is a rather quick paced book once you get past the first 50 pages or so, yet I wasn't compelled to compulsively read it. I've determGirl on the Train is a rather quick paced book once you get past the first 50 pages or so, yet I wasn't compelled to compulsively read it. I've determined that I don't enjoy living in the mind of an unstable narrator(s) unless they serve up a side of evil mastermind with their crazy, a la Gone Girl, which this book is so wrongly compared to. Overall, this book is entertaining, and contains a relatively intriguing mystery, but I have no doubt that the movie will play out much better than the book....more
At the start of Unbroken , I was feeling as though “Unbelieveable” might have been a more apt title. Much of Louis’s mischief as a child was beyond beAt the start of Unbroken , I was feeling as though “Unbelieveable” might have been a more apt title. Much of Louis’s mischief as a child was beyond belief. There were too many death inducing incidents that Louis cleared un-scathed, and too many alleged run ins with the law to have not wound up in the system. He even mentions running with wild horses and meeting Hitler! Though this feeling of disbelief slightly abated as I continued to read, I still feel as though key events departed from the realm of non-fiction and transgressed into the land of embellished fiction. Perhaps this is to be expected when the story is relayed some fifty years after the original events occurred. Memories fade, and morph with time. Similarly, those moments that are confusing in our present are most certainly subject to our interpretation upon reflection. For instance, Louis recounts the events of his downed plane and states he must have been on the ocean floor, as he struggled to detangle himself from the planes wiring. He ultimately blacks out, only to later awaken, free of the wires, and is able to swim to the surface. This is clearly beyond belief. Had he have hit the ocean floor of the Pacific, his lungs would have literally exploded. Best case scenario, he would have needed to be rushed to a hyperbaric chamber in order to save his life. It was more likely he was found panicking by a fellow crew member as the plane had begun to sink, and was subsequently knocked out in order for his fellow crew member to cut him free of the wires.
Whether you believe each of the moments of this book occurred exactly as described or not, I couldn’t deny it was an incredibly readable tale that spoke of un-imaginable cruelty while also demonstrating extreme heroism, friendship, and inspiring hope. ...more
You Had Me At Hello accomplishes what the most inspiring and endearing Rom Com’s aspire to: relatability, charm and contemporary timelessness.
The booYou Had Me At Hello accomplishes what the most inspiring and endearing Rom Com’s aspire to: relatability, charm and contemporary timelessness.
The book begins in present day. Rachel, our narrator, is an early 30 something staffer on the cusp of ending her 13 year long relationship with her fiancé Rhys. Thru Rachel, we are introduced to Ben, our prospective love interest and protagonist. Ben is Rachel’s long lost best friend from uni days with whom she hasn’t spoken for the past decade. When Rachel’s best friend Caroline mentions seeing Ben at a local library, Rachel sets out to the local to encourage a “chance” encounter. What follows is a story, told via a present day setting, and thru flashbacks, about what comes to pass when you encounter a lost love after 10 years and a mixed bag of life decisions.
Equal parts humorous, nostalgic, and romantic, You Had Me At Hello is the kind of treasure I love to find. The dialog was witty and delightfully frank. If you somehow manage to read this little gem without being charmed by these characters, there may be something wrong with you. A certain re-read if ever there was one. ...more
I’ll begin by saying that I did enjoy my time spent reading Post Office. It’s undeniably humorous in its, dry, snide, arrogant way. But once you lookI’ll begin by saying that I did enjoy my time spent reading Post Office. It’s undeniably humorous in its, dry, snide, arrogant way. But once you look beyond the humor, there isn’t much to see. Yes, there are some off handed remarks that I’m certain ring true for many people, myself included. But for a man who notoriously saved “the best of himself for paper” this book is surprisingly soul-less. Or perhaps his soul was just black.
Henry Chinaski is a man filled with want and laziness. He is forever seeking something more than his lot, but lacks initiative; therefore his search is and ever will be, fruitless. Henry obviously possesses an awareness of himself and others and yet for all of his insight, he doesn’t appear to understand much of the world or the people in it, although he would claim otherwise. Henry respects no one, not even himself and I get the impression that he doesn’t place much stock in the human race as a whole. He squanders through his existence by drinking, gambling and screwing and somehow deludes himself into thinking that he is above it all because he doesn’t con himself into believing that there is more to existence than meaningless misery. I say don’t be so passé with your self reverential cleverness. Here we have a man that shouts about women only being good for a piece of ass, people being duped for valuing hard work, as they must surely be unoriginal to subscribe to such a virtue, and believes himself to be the intellectual superior of others because he lives a life filled with absence. I can’t help but feel that while he surrounds himself with the philosophy that most people suck hard, he secretly hopes that someone will make a believer out of him. What’s truly ironic is there isn’t much that separates Henry from those that he snubs, just drive and enthusiasm.
Many have said that you will either love Burkowski, or you’ll hate him. For me, it’s neither. I respect him for his self divulged honesty as seen here: “I was drawn to all the wrong things: I liked to drink, I was lazy, I didn't have a god, politics, ideas, ideals. I was settled into nothingness; a kind of non-being, and I accepted it. I didn't make for an interesting person. I didn't want to be interesting, it was too hard. What I really wanted was only a soft, hazy space to live in, and to be left alone.".
And I admire him for his ability to eloquently pen unexplored thoughts such as these: "I felt like crying but nothing came out. it was just a sort of sad sickness, sick sad, when you can't feel any worse. I think you know it. I think everybody knows it now and then. but I think I have known it pretty often, too often."
I won’t deny that Burkowski was an undeniably gifted writer. But ultimately, I feel sympathy for anyone who wasn’t inspired to live outside of their own head. ...more
One of the things I love most about Maugham is how well he portrays the human condition. Even the shallowest of characters are richly rounded. In my mOne of the things I love most about Maugham is how well he portrays the human condition. Even the shallowest of characters are richly rounded. In my mind’s eye, The Painted Veil captures the human capacity to love what is not good for them, scoff at what is, and allows us readers to see first hand how incapable many of us are at coping with the realities of life. How wonderful life would be for us all if it were fiction.
The Painted Veil tells the story of Kitty Fane, a simple minded, vein, and frivolous woman; and Walter, the man who loves her. Though Kitty does not return Walter’s love, she agrees to marry him as it seems her time in society has quite run out. Walter whisks her away to exciting Hong Kong, where he is stationed in a government funded lab. It is here that Kitty meets Charlie Townsend, the lawyer dejour. The two begin an illicit affair. However, as it always is with such things, the two are found out when Walter makes an unannounced visit home to deliver Kitty a gift. What follows is one of my top ten favorite bits of dialogue in literature to date.
"I had no illusions about you,' he said. 'I knew you were silly and frivolous and empty-headed. But I loved you. I knew that your aims and ideals were vulgar and commonplace. But I loved you. I knew that you were second-rate. But I loved you. It's comic when I think how hard I tried to be amused by the things that amused you and how anxious I was to hide from you that I wasn't ignorant and vulgar and scandal-mongering and stupid. I knew how frightened you were of intelligence and I did everything I could to make you think me as big a fool as the rest of the men you knew. I knew that you'd only married me for convenience. I loved you so much, I didn't care. Most people, as far as I can see, when they're in love with someone and the love isn't returned feel that they have a grievance. They grow angry and bitter. I wasn't like that. I never expected you to love me, I didn't see any reason that you should. I never thought myself very lovable. I was thankful to be allowed to love you and I was enraptured when now and then I thought you were pleased with me or when I noticed in your eyes a gleam of good-humored affection. I tried not to bore you with my love; I knew I couldn't afford to do that and I was always on the lookout for the first sign that you were impatient with my affection. What most husbands expect as a right I was prepared to receive as a favor."
It amazes me that anyone can wound so deeply simply by admitting their own defeat. Needless to say, this is where Kitty’s life of luxury comes to an end. Rather than cause a scandal, Walter affords Kitty a choice. She can convince Charlie to leave his wife and marry her, in which case, Walter would agree to divorce her quietly, or she can accompany him to cholera stricken Mei-Tan-Fu where he has just volunteered to work. Kitty, in all her naïveté beseeches Charlie, believing that he meant all the loving things he said to her over the course of their affair. Naturally, Charlie lives up to his cowardly nature and refuses Kitty, leaving her with no other course of action than to leave with Walter. It is here that the true gloriousness that is this story occurs.
With the blinders of Charlie’s true nature finally off, Kitty continues to love him. I suppose this is where many readers become fed up with Kitty, but I rather admired her for allowing herself to continue her feelings for a man that will inevitably disappoint. It is tragically human of her and is the one trait that binds her to Walter, for truly, isn’t he guilty of the same crime? Though Walter never again looks upon Kitty with affection, I can’t help but feel that he loved her until the end. Or perhaps he felt towards Kitty the same pity she felt towards him. His last words implied as much. (In case you are wondering, his last words were “The dog it was died” and just in case you don’t know what that means, here is the poem he was referencing)… An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog
Good people all, of every sort, Give ear unto my song; And if you find it wondrous short, It cannot hold you long.
In Islington there was a man, Of whom the world might say That still a godly race he ran, Whene'er he went to pray.
A kind and gentle heart he had, To comfort friends and foes; The naked every day he clad, When he put on his clothes.
And in that town a dog was found, As many dogs there be, Both mongrel, puppy, whelp and hound, And curs of low degree.
This dog and man at first were friends; But when a pique began, The dog, to gain some private ends, Went mad and bit the man.
Around from all the neighbouring streets The wondering neighbours ran, And swore the dog had lost his wits, To bite so good a man.
The wound it seemed both sore and sad To every Christian eye; And while they swore the dog was mad, They swore the man would die.
But soon a wonder came to light, That showed the rogues they lied: The man recovered of the bite, The dog it was that died.
Just as we can never be sure if Walter’s last words were his way of expressing forgiveness or his way of casting his final stone, we will never be certain of Kitty's transformation. It’s my opinion that the shallow Kitty died with Walter and the book ends at the start of her awakening. Nonetheless, this is a powerful and lovely story that will certainly get the emotional and mental wheels turning. ...more
Caution: In the Woods is not advised for those who don’t like to work for their story. I’m aware of how lazy that statement may seem, which is why I’mCaution: In the Woods is not advised for those who don’t like to work for their story. I’m aware of how lazy that statement may seem, which is why I’m proud to say that in spite of my near constant urge to put this book down, I did not succumb. I forced myself to wade through this psychological thriller. What can I say, it just wasn’t very thrilling. But…at no fault to the story. I blame the stream of consciousness narration, which bogged this otherwise terrific story down. I simply can’t stand all that erroneous detail! I don’t care what a character has for dinner. How they feel about eating said dinner or wanted to be clued into all the nuances of their neurotic, OCD flat mate who has no bearing on the story whatsoever. End of rant.
The story of In the Woods was rather appealing. Three kids, playing in the woods, don’t come home for dinner. Parents freak out and a search ensues. One child, Adam Ryan, is eventually found clutching a tree with his feet soaked in blood. He is in a catatonic state and has lost all recollection of the days’ events. The other two children are never found. Fast forward however many years later (somewhere around the 20 year mark), Adam Ryan has changed his name and become a murder detective. His memory of that day remains at large, thus he is under the belief that his life has been a normal one. However, his life goes topsy turvy when called to investigate a murder that has occurred in the same wood in which his long lost friends disappeared.
Truly, my Criminal Minds loving self would have given In the Woods five stars had the style been anything other than what it was. The mystery element of In the Woods threw out several red herrings, a fact which deterred some, but I rather enjoyed the faux leads. And unlike so many reviews of this work, I was impressed and pleased with the ending. It was true to life. Moreover, the descriptions within this book are lovely. But that wretched narration. Ugh, it was murderous. No pun intended. And I’ll admit it, I may not have even minded the stream of consciousness style had the narrator not have been such an arse.
I would never tell anyone to skip this read all together, as the mystery element is a good one, but be advised that there is no character development to be found here. What you will find is a great mystery that you will have to dig to find as it occurs within much overdone passages. ...more
I decided I was long overdue to read something I wouldn't have to hide from the serious looking adults at book people and Sharp Objects has street creI decided I was long overdue to read something I wouldn't have to hide from the serious looking adults at book people and Sharp Objects has street cred. Flynn has received great press with her latest release Gone Girl, but those who are "in the know" claim that Sharp Objects is where its at, hence my reading of this as opposed to the aforementioned best seller. Plus, it has a razor blade on the cover. No one can claim that I only read sappiness now, right?...But seriously, I've heard nothing but how wonderfully creepy, well developed, deplorable, etc, this book is, so street cred aside, I wanted to read anything that received such great hype.
For me, Sharp Objets was about on par with a disappointing episode of Criminal Minds. Er go, I didn't fear walking my dog at bed time and was only mildly challenged by the who-dun-it crime of the night plot. Perhaps I've watched too much Criminal Minds, thus over developing my ability to identify pervy perps while simultaneously desensitizing myself to the vicious acts of sick freaks, but the who-dun-it theme was very underwhelming in Flynn's debut, as was the creep factor. Don't get me wrong, the crimes committed in this book are disturbing, but lots of things in life are, including any and all acts of violence. With all the fuss being spread about Sharp Objects I think I was just expecting a bit more if that makes any sense. I mean, even Vampire Diaries has a ripper! The characterization falls right in line with Sharp Objects mediocre plot. It takes a little more than mental instability, addiction, etc. for me to consider a character well rounded, and once you get past the shock factor of these characters individual mental/emotional issues, there's not much to see. In fact, they are a bit annoying.
Above comments aside, Sharp Objects is paced well, so perceived faults aside, its nearly impossible not to finish reading this short novel, but that time could have also been spent watching a really good episode of Criminal Minds, or two....more