Grace Bradley's is currently living in a nursing home. She has began to realize that her life is coming to a close when one morning an unexpected visi...moreGrace Bradley's is currently living in a nursing home. She has began to realize that her life is coming to a close when one morning an unexpected visitor walks into her life. This visitor turns out to be a woman who is directing a film about Grace's past, the days when she was a maid working at the Riverton estate. Yet this is a story Grace is not anxious to relive as she has buried a secret there decades ago. Now she must make the choice to reveal it or let it die with her. And if she does reveal it to whom does she tell?
Kate Morton fills her novel with vivid descriptions, allowing the reader walk right into the 20's England downstairs servant hall, yet effortlessly march out to present day to spend time with an older, wiser Grace. There is no doubt that this author has done her research on early 20th century England and can write of it in an informative yet utterly captivating manner. To read this novel is to time travel. It's a little vacation that one doesn't wish to end.
Yet, like all good things, the story must come to a halt and a rather abrupt halt this was. I loved this story dearly. Yet the closing pages failed to quite meet my expectations. The author certainly gave an unpredictable and memorable close to her story, yet it felt slightly incomplete to me.
That being said this is still a book that I would highly, highly recommend. If you liked The Thirteenth Tale, you must not let this book pass you by. It you enjoyed A Countess Below Stairs, pick this novel up immediately. Or if you are just in need of a well written story with a bit of suspense and mystery, this is the book for you. It's a beautifully written novel that leaves me yearning for more of Morton's writings. (as posted at readingforsanity.blogspot.com)(less)
I was thrilled to receive this book comprised of short, humorous tales free for review. Within this small publication, Locher finds humor in everythin...moreI was thrilled to receive this book comprised of short, humorous tales free for review. Within this small publication, Locher finds humor in everything from childhood to work to relationships to apartment living and even his pets. It promises to keep the reader laughing.
Musings on Minutiae is composed of several types of comedy. There are those stories that are easy to relate to leaving the reader laughing out loud. While other tales are more the "you-had-to-have-been-there" variety which merely induce a smile. Sprinkled throughout are everyday accounts in which witty Weston is able to portray immense amounts of humor by skewing the angle. Life's most mundane minutes would be delightfully entertaining with Weston Locher around.
This book is ideal when consumed in small doses. The three to five page chapters make this the perfect bathroom book. Just don't be surprised when you hear chuckling behind that closed door.(less)
The Man Who Couldn't Eat is Jon Reiner's personal story about returning home from an uneventful grocery shopping trip only to have his stomach explode...moreThe Man Who Couldn't Eat is Jon Reiner's personal story about returning home from an uneventful grocery shopping trip only to have his stomach explode. As he struggles to heal after a poorly performed surgery, he is put on TPN. He is sent home to spend months living without eating or drinking - absolutely nothing by mouth. His deep surgical wound is left open and covers his gut. The battle to survive takes Jon on an emotional roller-coaster through denial, anger, depression, and finally acceptance. The book chronicles a full year of medical drama, yet it is so much more than the tale of one man's struggle to survive.
Entering this book allows the reader to journey through Jon's past by means of his taste buds. The delicious descriptions of the food of his past are at such odds with the grotesque descriptions of his present medical procedures. It's the ultimate oxymoron, leaving you salivating and yet nauseated in one swoop.
Much admiration goes to Jon's ability to tell it like it is. He does not play the victim, instead fully admits to his selfish behavior. As his family falls apart, he takes his share of the blame and doe not sugar-coat any of it. Jon's battle becomes not only one to overcome the illness but to also reclaim his family.
In the end, this tale is one of balance - the yin and the yang. The continuous balancing act while juggling the needs of a family, the struggles of a career (or lack there of) and the needs of his health crisis is thoroughly documented. Jon's ability to rediscover what is important in life is inspiring. His tale is laced with religion, but it is his ultimate decision to concur that allows him to reclaim his life. There is no glossing over the facts to bring the story to a neat conclusion. Jon continues to struggle to balance his wants with his needs, especially in terms of food. This conflict leads to a stimulating read. My review as posted on readingforsanity.blogspot.com(less)
When I first read the summary I found the plot line intriguing. Growing up with your father's ex-wife as your sister, that's fairly unique, right? And...moreWhen I first read the summary I found the plot line intriguing. Growing up with your father's ex-wife as your sister, that's fairly unique, right? And it was except that wasn't really what the story focused on. This read more like the diary of the younger brother, Mac, except it included way too much detail, especially in the dialogue, to be even a believable diary account.
Mac's parents were always honest with him and his sister about Madeline's identity, showing them photos of her as their father's bride and recounting her tragic accident. In fact they were honest to the point that Mac felt nothing was odd about his upbringing until his cousin, Buddy, made some inappropriate comments about Madeline, leaving Mac to question his upbringing. The story continues with more of an emphasize on Buddy and Mac's relationship, while leaving Madeline's life as just a side story. The parts about Madeline were interesting to me but the parts about Buddy were rather dull. I also found that the story took a political, anti-Vietnam turn which was fairly distracting and not at all what I would have expected.
Hamilton has a unique writing style. It's one that takes a few chapters to get used to before things start flowing smoothly. I enjoyed her writing very much in Map of the World. Years after reading it I am still thinking about that novel, where as I am certain this story will soon be forgotten to me. (as posted at readingforsanity.blogspot.com)(less)
I received a copy of this book free for review and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not at all what I had expected. This is not one of tho...moreI received a copy of this book free for review and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not at all what I had expected. This is not one of those get rich quick schemes. In fact, contrary to the title, this book really isn't about making you rich. It's about making the money that you already earn work hard for you in return.
Jame Burns offers a variety of valid reasons why traditional thinking on investments and retirement planning no longer work. He provides enlightenment on new approaches that will have your money earning more. His book will make you consider taxation in ways you probably haven't before. Throughout this book you will be offered tips on beating taxes and fees. Best of all, you don't need to be a financial whiz or a millionaire to make this plan work for you.
This isn't the most exciting book but it is rather thought-provoking. I enjoyed the way that it was set up, with review points at the end of each chapter. I also liked that while it was filled with financial lingo, the information was presented in an easy to understand manner. This was a surprisingly straightforward, not overly detailed, read. The book hits on the key points and then offers additional resources in the form of other books by various authors and websites that you may turn to for more information. I'm glad I read this book. It has provided me with some valuable money management insight and given me a great starting point to investing.(less)
To quickly summarize this is the story of the help, referring to black housemaids living in Mississippi in the 1960's. It's their journey and one that...moreTo quickly summarize this is the story of the help, referring to black housemaids living in Mississippi in the 1960's. It's their journey and one that will completely engulf you. I can not tell you much without giving the story away. What I will tell you is that this is an utterly delicious story that will consume you from the opening chapter right through to author's note on the final pages.
Kathrynn Stockett has written this novel in a manner which allows the reader a private journey inside the characters heads. Three main characters tell this story and each chapter is written in their unique voice. The first chapter begins with Aibleen describing herself, "I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning." And in writing as such these brave, humorous, sassy, sensitive, tough, sweet women seem to jump from the pages.
I found myself tangled up within this story, completely engrossed and loving every moment of it. Tears and laughter, love and bitterness, humiliation and pride, it's all within the pages of this book and on so many different levels. It's a riveting story that addresses the ugly issue of discrimination, (not only racism but sexism and social class as well), in a delightfully entertaining manner.
It is a beautifully told story that you'll want to share with others. There is so much to talk about that this is a must pick for book clubs. While this story was based in the 60's, it's easy to see how some of the issues still apply in modern times. It will leave you reexamining the treatment of our fellow human beings, regardless of race or social class. (as posted on readingforsanity.blogspot.com)(less)
Inside the beautiful cover of this book is a story based on some ugly facts from Hawaiian history. It's the story of families torn and shamed when a m...moreInside the beautiful cover of this book is a story based on some ugly facts from Hawaiian history. It's the story of families torn and shamed when a member develops leprosy and must be sent to Kalaupapa, the quarantined community on the island of Moloka'i. The focus of this novel is on one young girl, Rachael, who at the age of seven is diagnosed with the disease. Over the next six decades this courageous girl's journey is followed, full of both triumphs and tears.
Rich in history, this story starts out fascinating, full descriptive scenery and engaging characters. The early characters draw the reader in making this an emotional read. About half way through the book, nonessential characters begin being introduced rapidly making it is difficult to keep personalities straight or connect with them. At this point the story loses much of the emotional draw. It is also at this point that the story becomes bogged down with history, losing focus on the story line. It seems like the author neglected his main characters in favor of cramming in as much fact as possible.
The storyline takes many unbelievable turns before coming to a simple close. I did, however, enjoy all the facts and history but felt that it would have been better told in two completely seperate novels. I wish the author would have chosen to focus on Moloka'i and stayed away from all the World War II information. I realize that these events coincided but the turn the story took with this new material was unconvincing. This resulting in being one of those books that I was glad to have read and learned quite a bit from but that I walk away from pondering what the book could have been if it would have stayed course.
My review as posted on readingforsanity.blogspot.com(less)
Jonny Law is the typical clueless, clumsy, nice guy protagonist. He has always had the dream of becoming an FBI agent but his general persona, as well...moreJonny Law is the typical clueless, clumsy, nice guy protagonist. He has always had the dream of becoming an FBI agent but his general persona, as well as a minor health ailment, makes this aspiration highly unlikely. As the book begins, Jonny is selling insurance out of his inspector gadget-like home on wheels. Unfortunately Jonny is not especially talented at this profession and is dismissed rather quickly.
What Jonny seems to have a knack for is getting himself into (and out of) sticky situations. When he runs across a group planning to kidnap the President he finds himself in just such a bind. Fearlessly he takes charge in bringing these bad guys down, with the help of an old high school buddy, Frank. Together they set to stopping this crime and along the way find themselves in some ludicrous, yet hilarious, predicaments.
This book will have you laughing out loud at Jonny's clumsy attempts to become a hero. Rounding out the book is a bit of an unlikely, yet sweet, romance composed of awkward moments. Jonny's motivational talks to both himself and Frank are pitch-perfect and especially good for a snicker, as is the banter between these two characters. The story builds a surprising amount of suspense and will have you flying through the pages only to enter another hilarious scene.
As the novel concluded I found myself missing the main character. This was originally written as a screen-play and I saw the movie version playing in my head during the entire read. I can just picture the special effects and the stunt men performing in the film. Although this book stands well on it's own, I can imagine a squeal would be a sure hit. Either way, I'm hoping this is not the last we have seen of Jonny Law.
(My review as posted on readingforsanity.blogspot.com)(less)
I will be very brief and vague so as to not spoil the story for any of you but I do feel that as a reader you should know a little more than the above...moreI will be very brief and vague so as to not spoil the story for any of you but I do feel that as a reader you should know a little more than the above summary gives you about the book before you sit down to read it.
Little Bee is a Nigerian refugee when Sarah, a white woman from England, saves her life. The two women have never met yet Sarah makes an incredibly hard choice for the other woman. As quickly as the women were drawn together they are pulled apart. Only two years later does Little Bee get the opportunity to thank and repay Sarah, with difficult choices of her own, for what she did on the fateful day the two met. It's a haunting, brutal story that will stay with you, yet one that is (almost) balanced by the goodness within select individuals.
This is the story of how decisions shape one's own life, as well as surrounding lives. It explores both the big decisions and the small ones. It's about how petty we can be when our focus is on beauty, materialism and sex, yet we are able to cast off the real life-altering issues because they are ugly, difficult and make us hurt. All the while we are gently reminded of how much value is place on money, how powerful we find these coins, yet in the end money can not buy true freedom.
Be warned, this is not your typical light summer read. It's actually a heavy story, quite horrid in parts. Yet it emits a quiet beauty about the leaps some women will make for another. This is not a fun read. Nor is it a story I'd want to read again. Yet it is an extremely thought-provoking, well-written book. It's one I'll recommend to a select few and one that I would like to discuss with others who have already read it. If anything it is utterly unforgettable. (as published on http://readingforsanity.blogspot.com) (less)
I was sent a link by the author to read this novel in PDF form and then review it. I was a bit leery of the title and not thrilled to be reading eboo...more I was sent a link by the author to read this novel in PDF form and then review it. I was a bit leery of the title and not thrilled to be reading ebook style. For me flipping through the pages of the book is half the joy of reading. But after skimming the summary I decided to check it out before turning this one down. By the time I finished the first chapter I was hooked. I had to spend more time with these characters.
Hailey is a girl of 16 trying to discover who she is. Hailey's circumstances are harder than most - she comes from a lower class family with an alcoholic father and an emotionally unstable mother who are having major marital problems. Yet it's easy to relate to her basic struggles. She thinks as a typical teenager - narrowly, failing to consider that simple decisions can have drastic consequences. Hailey feels alone and is longing for something to believe in. She must choose the path she will follow while trying to figure out her own beliefs and her own fit in this world.
Hailey's passive choices take her spiraling into a path of self-destruction, as the novel gets darker and darker and ultimately comes to a very ugly ending. I feel the author took the story a bit too quickly as I would have enjoyed more depth in spots, and some of the situations were not realistic. However the writing flowed nicely and shows true potential. This is not an enjoyable book but it is one I have thought about frequently since finishing. I will be sure to check out his next work.(less)
"When I was little the great mystery to me wasn't how babies were made, but why." So reads the first sentence in this stunning novel by Jodi Picoult a...more"When I was little the great mystery to me wasn't how babies were made, but why." So reads the first sentence in this stunning novel by Jodi Picoult and it summarizes the book rather nicely. Anna was designed in a tube to be the perfect match for her sister, Kate, who has been battling a rare form of leukemia since the age of 2. It was originally planned that Anna's umbilicus would provide cells causing Kate to go into remission. This works for a short time but then Kate relapses and Anna has to donate lymphocytes. This cycle has continued throughout Anna's life; first blood, then marrow and now it's a kidney her sister needs. Anna has finally had enough and wants the acknowledgment that her existence is independent from her sister and she is ready to have some say in what happens to her body. The kicker is that Kate is dying and doctors don't feel like she is strong enough to survive the transplant her mother so desperately wants anyway.
Jodi Picoult deals with the controversial issues of designer babies and stem cell research throughout her novel. She does this in a manner that cuts right to the heart by telling the family's story. Each chapter lets you inside another members head, giving you a taste of the personalities and letting you share their feelings. The reader gets a feel of where Picoult stands on these issues, yet Picoult presents both sides to the story, proving that no matter which side of the fence you stand on the slope is slippery. I love that the author leaves out media views and outsider feelings about this case from the story. This way she allows for the reader to form their own opinions based on an insider view of the family dynamics.
This story had a strong emotional draw to it. Though I felt from the beginning that there was no way this story could close happily, I could not put it down. It was a rather depressing story but one that floods the reader with what-if questions. There is a heartbreaking twist in the final pages of the book. I can't say that I enjoyed this ending but will admit that it was completely unexpected and it gave me chills. After this twist the book closes quickly and on further examination I found that the ending did not tie in with the prologue, which was somewhat disappointing.
There were a few other things which held me back from giving this novel 5 stars. First, there are several spots in the story that feel too unrealistic. As with all her other novels, I feel Picoult once again tried too hard to tie all her characters together. I certainly could have done without the relationship between the attorney and guardian ad litem, as it didn't really add that much to the story. I also found the many coincidences to be somewhat distracting from the main story the author is trying to tell.
That main story line, however, is told brilliantly. The emotions I felt during reading this story are sure to stick with me for some time to come. I think that this would be an excellent book club pick as it would lead to some heated discussions. This is a novel I will be recommending to many (along with a heeded warning to expect tears).(less)
Upon opening this book you are thrust into the world of a five-year-old. Jack narrates this story through the eyes of an innocent child. At first it i...moreUpon opening this book you are thrust into the world of a five-year-old. Jack narrates this story through the eyes of an innocent child. At first it is a struggle to get into character but within a few pages the transport from adulthood back to childhood is complete. It must be quite a challenge to write from this perspective, yet Donoghue masters it flawlessly.
Jack is an energetic, inquisitive and creative five-year-old. Other than being particularly bright, he is the average child. Yet his surroundings are anything but typical. Jack and his mother live locked within a 12 by 12 foot room. Knowing no different, Jack is quite content in his singular world with his mother, a small television, his snake friend made from egg shells and his Sunday treats. His mother, however, knows Room to be a life-draining prison, one they must escape before it smothers them both.
This powerful novel is at once absolutely appalling and undeniably beautiful. This is an all-consuming book which begs to be read in a single sitting. Jack's innocence is presented with bits of humor and heartache. His mother's battle between doing right by her son and her need for freedom will capture the hearts of readers. Her struggle to remain courageous while being absolutely powerless perfectly displays the undeniable bond between a mother and her child. Book clubs take note this is a story that demands to be discussed.(less)
While I can't say that this was an enjoyable read, it was strangely addicting. I found myself staying up very late to read "just one more chapter". I...moreWhile I can't say that this was an enjoyable read, it was strangely addicting. I found myself staying up very late to read "just one more chapter". I also had to continually remind myself that this was a nonfiction book, an memoir of one eccentric childhood, as it's not an account that you would wish to be true for any child. If it had been fiction I would most certainly have had to put it down as it seemed that sooner or later one of the children would be killed by the neglectfulness of their parents. You get the bonus with this nonfiction of knowing that the author's life turned out well against all odds.
Jeannette Walls at no time plays the resentful victim in her tale. Instead she tells her story with love and compassion for her neglectful parents. As a young child she has the same admiration for her parents as all children do, especially for her dad whom she feels incredibly close to. There were points in this story that I even felt a bit of pity for these parents. In her teens she begins to see her mother as selfish and comes to the realization that her dad will never remain sober long enough to keep his promises. At this point she loses faith in her father but gains confidence in her ability to save herself. Jeannette (as well as her brother and sisters) had to grow up very fast but in doing so she grew up strong and noble.
I am in awe of the courage this book must have taken to write. In doing so Jeannette must have had to relive some pretty traumatic childhood memories that I imagine she had previously buried. She weaves an incredibly emotional story that will have the reader giggling one moment and on the verge of tears the next. This story is not an account of childhood neglect and border-line abuse, but rather a lesson in the moral "life is what you make of it".(less)