If you are looking for something out of the ordinary to read, this might be a good place to start. The first thing you will notice is how beautifullyIf you are looking for something out of the ordinary to read, this might be a good place to start. The first thing you will notice is how beautifully written, almost poetic, the prose style is. The author's voice will sweep you easily into the story. There are some clunky moments, but you will probably forgive them, and they aren't too jarring. The story itself is somewhat supernatural, and it is a book of ideas, almost, more than about plot. "Deathmaidens" are basically midwives, except they attend to the dying. The protagonist of our story has an ability to tell when someone is dying by touching them. She knows when they are ready to die, and assists them in it. While such an idea is abhorrent, or objectionable to many, that isn't really the point of the book as much as to ponder what it means to hold on, or let go, when death is imminent. Frances Oliver, the Deathmaiden, goes to assist at the bedside of a boy in a coma. When she touches him, she realizes it is not his time, and leaves briefly. When she returns, he is dead. Oliver plunges herself into the thick of the mystery of the boy's death. This book could easily have been informed by political agendas, but it doesn't feel that way. An interesting read, good for reading on quiet rainy days. ...more
"Memoir of a Geisha", when it came out, fixed a lot of the misconceptions about Geisha for Westerners, but this book (written earlier) is actually wri"Memoir of a Geisha", when it came out, fixed a lot of the misconceptions about Geisha for Westerners, but this book (written earlier) is actually written by one of the most sought-after and famous of her time. It's written as much to entertain as to inform, and I found it spellbinding. The writer had chosen to enter the profession, herself, at a young age and being stubborn, strong-willed and dedicated, made herself a legend. The training she underwent turned her into something more than a mere artist; no prima ballerina has ever underwent such rigorous physical and emotional sculpting as she did as a maiko (apprentice). At the height of her beauty, wealth, and fame, the author left her specialized world behind for love.
Written with tinges of humor, insight and arrogance, this memoir fascinated, and to some degree, haunted me. The habit of communicating with beauty and simplicity shines through the author's unique personality with rich images and stories: tea, silks, chrysanthemums, and the matriarchal hierarchy of the Gion Kobu. ...more
As a general mystery buff, and as someone who was surely the most book-loving, socially misfit of an adolescent that ever was, I really loved this booAs a general mystery buff, and as someone who was surely the most book-loving, socially misfit of an adolescent that ever was, I really loved this book. I might not have had the sense of humor or natural comfort in my own skin that this pre-teen heroin has, but I forgive her. I found the plot, pace, character development and everything else was very pleasing. The author managed to keep the book on track, being unusual without becoming too 'precious' or quirky as to be distracting.
The strong minded, intelligent and imaginative 11 year old protagonist lives in the '50's in England with her father and sisters. Her name is Flavia and her sisters are named Ophelia and Daphne, which tells you something. Her hobbies are chemistry and wreaking sisterly revenge; she is passionate about poisons, especially. When she stumbles across a dead body in her garden one night, the game is afoot. I've heard Bradley compared to Agatha Christie, and whoever said that wasn't just whistling' Dixie. However, Dame Agatha never had such a sense of humor or such vibrant personalities in her writing. I'm looking for something to say that will balance all the sunshine and posies I'm flinging here, but at most all I can say is that the mystery itself was rather easy to unwind. Still. Also, the hardback version that I read was strongly similar to the old Nancy Drews, so there's the subconscious nostalgia there too....more
This author and his work has been demonized so much. I was so interested in why the Ferber Method for helping a baby/toddler/child who can't sleep thrThis author and his work has been demonized so much. I was so interested in why the Ferber Method for helping a baby/toddler/child who can't sleep through the night was so vilified...I had to read it. I was disappointed. There is no mention of tying children to their beds, chloroforming them, or putting Valium in the bedtime peanut butter sandwich/pre-bedtime bottle. Alas. This book seemed rather tame, moderate and helpful. It's idea is that if a baby/toddler/child gets enough sleep at night, their waking daytime hours will be more fulfilling. And the parent who gets some REM sleep will be less sharp, irritable or prone to shouting/losing it/falling asleep behind the wheel.
Ferber is a proponent of the idea that the parent is to be the authority of the home, and that the child, when taught in a gentle, consistent way, will be the better for having a parent who insists on a regular nighttime sleep schedule. Many modern parents prefer the child-led approach, and I would suggest they forget this book and try Dr Sears' book on Attachment Parenting, which advocates that a child be allowed to choose their own schedules, and to sleep in the Family Bed (it comes with tips on how to make love when your Marital Bed is full of kids). For me, though, I think that I could face nearly any parenting crisis if I had enough rest. Again, there was nothing ghastly or appalling about this book, as I'd been led to believe. So where I lost some good entertainment, I gained some information that I'll probably use as my newborn grows. ...more
I wish this book had been organized a little differently, but I couldn't put it down, and finished it (nearly 400 pages) in just a few days. It's writI wish this book had been organized a little differently, but I couldn't put it down, and finished it (nearly 400 pages) in just a few days. It's written by a guy who has studied human behavior, specifically the kinds of mental aberrations that lead to violent attacks. de Becker has worked to train various government agencies how to predict and prevent such attacks, and his writing has the unusual quality of being both informative and riveting. He talks about the behavior of stalkers, workplace shooters, domestic abuse, rapists, etc.
The fascinating idea that his book centers on is this: that this behavior can be seen coming, recognized, and thwarted. Violence doesn't come out of the blue. Nearly everyone can avoid being a victim if they listen to their intuition, and don't deny a gut instinct due to some kind of lack of 'logical' explanation for feeling that twinge. The author goes on to give warning signs given by different kinds of predators. It's very interesting, if you are remotely interested in sociology, human behavior, or just want to stop being the kind of person that is tired of being on the wrong end of crazy. It's good, interesting, and the message is a refreshing counterpoint to the common idea that we're all at the mercy of people with no conscience, because 'you couldn't have seen it coming.'...more
I'm not sure what I was expecting from this autobiography of a former dominatrix. Seamy scenes from the semi-underworld sex industry? To hear how a woI'm not sure what I was expecting from this autobiography of a former dominatrix. Seamy scenes from the semi-underworld sex industry? To hear how a woman can become, voluntarily, merchandise, and how it affected her humanity and self image? Just to hear one woman's journey through an unusual industry, maybe. Anyways, Febos writes an interesting tale about her self destructive path through young adulthood, using drugs and the cachet of the exotic domination lifestyle to get rid of some kind of angst or anger that she carried with her.
This writer uses the book to try and do many things; explore the destructive urges within angry psyches (though she is unapologetic about the choices she's made), and informs us about the ins and outs of the shadowy world of professional 'doms' (who sell their time sexually humiliating -though not actually having sex with- others who pay for this service. Febos also spends time discussing her drug abuse issues, and her eventual evolution into the person she is today.
I think the focus of the book meanders a bit too much, and ultimately bites off more than it can chew (*cough*). Febos spends a lot of time talking about how smart she is, and the constant self psychoanalysis of everything was wearying after a while. Still, it was entertaining to read about the men who visited her and the requests she fulfilled, and the anecdotes had me covering my mouth in delighted horror. Febos bestows on this interesting variety of sexual perverts a kind of respectful humanity, which some may appreciate. I'm glad this book crossed my path, though I don't think it would be worth seeking out....more
I've been reading this one on and off since I was 14. I didn't understand then why it wasn't rated as highly as "Wuthering Heights", but even now thatI've been reading this one on and off since I was 14. I didn't understand then why it wasn't rated as highly as "Wuthering Heights", but even now that I can see the technical problems, I still love it as much. It can be a little hard for modern readers to get into, but once you get the feel for the old-timey speech patterns and plot pace, it's wonderful to fall into. Abused orphans, bigamy, beautiful romantic competition, fires, dramatic death, running away and starting a new life- it's all in there. Too many plot coincidences make it unbelievable, but it's meant to be enjoyable, and it is.
Meh. I love Sophie Kinsella (excepting the shopaholic series,)but the books she wrote under this pen name don't seem as good to me. This was pretty blMeh. I love Sophie Kinsella (excepting the shopaholic series,)but the books she wrote under this pen name don't seem as good to me. This was pretty bland, felt forced and conversations seemed artificial. Maybe it was an earlier work? Anyways, it's all right for a summer beach-y kind of read. Instead, I would far rather recommend "Can You Keep A Secret" or "The Undomestic Goddess" ...more