I recently started a freelance writing/coaching business and this was recommended to me by a friend & colleague. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to dI recently started a freelance writing/coaching business and this was recommended to me by a friend & colleague. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do more than skim through it. The language was a hard sell - I felt I needed an advanced business degree to understand. Plus this really spoke more to corporations than to small, 1-person startups. I did like the idea of the Hedgehog and also the suggestion to create, along with a to-do list, a "stop doing" list....more
This is tough. This is a very good book about a very difficult subject matter and if you choose to read it (which I do recommend) please be prepared.
FThis is tough. This is a very good book about a very difficult subject matter and if you choose to read it (which I do recommend) please be prepared.
First: this is a good story, one that really draws you into the lives of its characters and is thoughtful and well-written and there won't be a single page where you just skim through.
Second: you're going to get out of this story what you bring into it. As a reader, we forget sometimes that we are not bystanders in our reading experience. This story, in particular, will dredge up whatever pre-existing feelings and formative experiences you may have. With that in mind, I still recommend this story but with a slight caveat:
No - I'm not cautioning you not to read this if you yourself have had a negative sexual experience. I'm cautioning you not to read this if your feelings are so overriding that you cannot give this story a chance.
The Story: 9-year old Wavonna has already had a very difficult life. Born the daughter of a drug addict who has served time in prison, shuttled around with different family members who do not know the extent of her mother's emotional abuse upon the child, she finds herself reunited with her mother, a new baby born during her mother's latest stint in jail and a stepfather who is running a major drug and crime operation out of rural Kansas. "Wavy" as she comes to be known, believes that she is unclean and damaged, and already has a major eating disorder as a result of her mother's behavior, not to mention chooses to be mute most of the time. At the age of 9 she sees a man wreck on his motorcycle in front of her. That man, a 24-year old half-Native ex-con working for her stepfather becomes her caretaker. It begins with her tending to his injuries that night, followed by him stepping in where her family fails her: getting her to school, buying clothes, etc.
Along the way Wavy begins to essentially imprint upon Kellen, developing an emotional and then a physical relationship. It does not become sexual in nature until she is around 13 years and then, it is at her initiation.
Again, I have to mention that you are going to read into this what you yourself bring to the story. At no point does the author condone the relationship directly; I felt that she really allowed us to simply know the characters well enough to understand their behavior and their motives.
But like the other characters in the story, who get more involved in Wavy's life after a tragedy occurs, you will feel uncomfortable with the relationship with the 13-year old girl and the 20-something year old man. I don't feel that Greenwood is telling us "well, it's okay because she wanted it". Nothing like that.
For me, with a whole history of stuff that I certainly brought into this story (and not fully knowing what it was about before I read it) I have to say that I came to understand the relationship between the two as the best that this child could have achieved in her life. It was icky, it was illegal, it was morally questionable - and yet, it was also the only real love that this girl experienced. Kellen wasn't a monster, wasn't a pedophile (although he would come to be labeled as such in the story) and did truly love this girl long before, and all the way through her coming-of-age.
My only complaint with the story is that the last section felt rushed. There were characters along the way that we never really got to know (Val, Liam, etc) and I would like to have known more about what became of Kellen and Wavy in later years.
Not for the faint-hearted, but I still give this a 3.5 score....more
A bit of a let-down. I find Mike B's comedic acting to be brilliant, but hadn't read any of his works yet. This really wasn't a memoir about sleepwalkA bit of a let-down. I find Mike B's comedic acting to be brilliant, but hadn't read any of his works yet. This really wasn't a memoir about sleepwalking. It was simply a memoir of a boy's life growing up in Massachusetts. There was humor, but not much angst to demonstrate where the humor came from. And only the last chapter or two was really about sleepwalking....more
Ooh. This started off really strong with a great premise: what if a chunk of our history had been erased to shield the public from knowing that the NaOoh. This started off really strong with a great premise: what if a chunk of our history had been erased to shield the public from knowing that the Nazi's conquered America and we colluded with them on their genocide of the Jews? Jack has recently returned to his small town after his best friend has gone missing. The best friend who also stole his girlfriend and married her. When they pull a body out of a nearby lake, however, it is not that of the missing Tony. This sets Jack off to find out what happened to his friend. He starts by visiting Cole, a teenage patient at a mental health facility that Tony was providing therapy for. Cole immediately tells Jack to start boiling his water, and from there unleashes a spiral of conspiracies and covert information that is going to change history. Along for the ride are Sam, the woman that Jack once lost Tony to, and Jack's father, a Vietnam vet, who is suffering from dementia.
All this is quite interesting and made for a good read, up until about the halfway point. Then we get introduced to a host of shadowy figures, mutants, NSA creeps, (SPOILERS)....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Josef Mengele, Mohammad Atta, D.B. Cooper - I'm not joking here - and the rumored secret island of Mu. Along the way, Renner also throws in Malaysia Flight MH370, Amelia Earhart, more Nazi's, the Deepwater Horizon explosion and more.
First, there was a level of preponderousness to this. How could all the governments conspire to hide 100 years of our history and why would the citizens of the world willing agree to it? The reason of "We were so embarrassed by what had happened" doesn't really provide a logical explanation. Not to mention, you might be able to go around and find trinkets of the erased past and hide them in Area 51 storage but how about buildings? You can't pretend that a 125 year old building is actually just 25 years old.
Second, and this is a big one for me, speculative fiction has gone down a rabbit hole during the past decade. I think that as a nation, Americans have lost their identity and their recent history doesn't jive what what we believe about ourselves, so it is understandable to want to see some flip-side of our past, some alternate way of understanding what has happened. But there's one thing we shouldn't f*** with too much and that's September 11th. I think more can be revealed by understanding the true nature of what happened - not just the perpetrators and the immediate victims but the nation as a whole. We haven't effectively dealt with the pain of that day and so clouding it in creative fantasy does a disservice. At least in this particular offering....more
This book is best when exploring the ways that folks living in the suburbs (and even the cities) can get back to nature with gardening, beekeeping andThis book is best when exploring the ways that folks living in the suburbs (and even the cities) can get back to nature with gardening, beekeeping and other mini-agricultural pursuits. Lost me at the back section of the book all about making my own beauty and home products. Not that there's anything wrong with people wanting to learn that, I was just hoping for more specific how-to's on setting up and tending long-term to a small backyard vegetable garden....more
I first learned about the Fabulous Beekman Boys and Josh Kilmer-Purcell on their reality show several years ago. I related to the idea of 'getting awaI first learned about the Fabulous Beekman Boys and Josh Kilmer-Purcell on their reality show several years ago. I related to the idea of 'getting away from the big city and back to nature' - I had recently moved from the Los Angeles area to Rapid City, South Dakota (a town of just over 70,000 people, 15-minute drives anywhere and no decent Mexican food). There was something of the spirit of this place that compelled me and, despite some deprivation, I knew that I would feel at home here.
This book chronicles how Josh and Brent, two city-slickers, moved to the tiny town of Sharon Springs, New York to open an Inn. Just like their tv show, this book has lots of goats, rustic old buildings in bad need of repair, small-town looky-loo's and the kind of superfantastic gay men that are populating small towns all over this country (theirs wear kilts and serve a mean Bloody Mary). What this books adds is the inner perspective of Josh, who spent his young adulthood drunk and in very high heels as a drag performer, met and found love with Brent (a Southern doctor who used to work for Martha Stewart), fell into the world of Madison Avenue Marketing and then chukked it all to grow tomatoes and craft artisanal goat milk soaps and live in a place that allowed his inner Midwestern farm boy to shine.
A fun read, although like a lot of memoirs it felt stronger on the first-go-around. This was my second read....more
As someone who has long been fascinated by the story of the Manson Family, I was really looking forward to reading this fictional story of a teen girlAs someone who has long been fascinated by the story of the Manson Family, I was really looking forward to reading this fictional story of a teen girl who is drawn into a California cult. Clearly inspired by the Manson Family, sadly this book fell flat in a number of ways. The one thing the author got right was the fact that the women were the draw for many in the real Family. This book is about a woman, now a middle-aged adult, who is reminded of her life in a cult back in the late '60s. She did not kill anyone but is haunted by what happened in the past and has remained somewhat stagnant as a result. I thought the adult portion of the story worked best - the story of a woman who most people don't know is directly tied to an infamous part of history and who has deep regrets. But there were so many links to the Tate-LaBianca murders and the Manson Family that failed to deliver. Cline's story takes place in the San Francisco area, not Los Angeles. The protagonist is able to come and go from the "ranch" where the family is holed up - not true for most members of the Family. There was one major difference, as well, between the murders which I'll refrain from including here so as not to spoil. The author clearly did her research in order to write this story, but then held back on too closely linking the stories together. That's the cheat here - if you're trying to understand exactly what brought all these confluences together and created the horror that was Helter Skelter, you have to be exact about them. My other major bone of contention is with the writing style and word choices. I hate when writers get cute with their words and this is a prime example. ...more
I feel like the only reason this is being marketed as YA is because, right now, that's what's selling.
This is really a standard mystery with some younI feel like the only reason this is being marketed as YA is because, right now, that's what's selling.
This is really a standard mystery with some young adult sections and a supernatural edge.
Emma and Charlie fell in love a very, very, very long time ago. As children, they grew up on an island off the coast of Florida. Their fathers were business partners at a wildlife resort. Then, a frog-faced huckster calling himself an herbologist showed up and convinced everyone to drink a tea he had bred. Suddenly, everyone became immortal. A local preacher and his followers became suspicious and targeted the family. Emma and Charlie survived the attack but became separated for the next 100 years.
We get a few snapshots into the mind of 17-year old Emma and I guess that was enough to get this labeled as Young Adult fiction, but most of the story is told from the perspective of the adult Emma who is working as a private investigator, trying to solve the disappearance and murders of a number of young women who all bear a striking resemblance to herself. Is the Church of Light still in existence and looking for her? Is Charlie still alive? Why is Emma endangering herself by picking up strangers for sex? Why does she trust Pete, a crusty, older PI, with her story?
An interesting premise for a story but a lackluster delivery....more
I've noticed that a lot of literature that comes out of Japan and South Korea tends to deal with very deep and intimate issues in a very light, surfacI've noticed that a lot of literature that comes out of Japan and South Korea tends to deal with very deep and intimate issues in a very light, surface way. I think it speaks to the inherent nature of many people born in Asia to maintain a certain decorum and well-mannered personality. "The Vegetarian" is not about vegetarianism at all, or even about a character's decision to become healthier. It's really about shared madness. We never get to know The Vegetarian herself, we just learn about her through the perspective of her husband, her brother-in-law and her sister. One day she decides that she's not going to eat any meat and the means by which she makes this lifestyle choice seems incredibly extreme to everyone she knows. Attempts to get her help prove mightily unsuccessful. I would argue that the woman was mentally ill all along - her lack of a defined personality and her thoroughly inward demeanor demonstrated to me that something was brewing under the surface. But once manifested, her illness brings out both the worst and the best in those closest to her. I would argue that it brought out the worst in the both of the men in her life (particularly her brother-in-law: that was a very difficult and uncomfortable section to read) but in some way the best in her sister, who clearly demonstrated the most empathy for her sister although by the time we got that perspective, our protagonist was (SPOILER) starving to death. I think Han Kang is a very good writer and I'm looking forward to longer works from her in the future....more
This novel helped visualize what the Hindenburg and its last flight must have been like. When you look at pictures of the zeppelin, even when in flameThis novel helped visualize what the Hindenburg and its last flight must have been like. When you look at pictures of the zeppelin, even when in flames, it just looks like a... blimp! A vacuum of space, but the mighty zeppelins were virtual luxury ships for the air. This book focuses on the people and not the science of the project. Many of the characters were real people - crew and passengers - of the Hindenburg and I always find it a bit icky to give people who are long dead (and likely innocent) more nefarious intentions or flawed lives than perhaps they may have had, so the book suffers slightly from this imagined novelization. But Lawhon does a very good job of painting a picture of what life working and traveling in these magical flying ships must have been like....more
A very delightful offering from a new author - a bit of steampunk fiction I suppose. A British civil servant living alone finds himself in the centerA very delightful offering from a new author - a bit of steampunk fiction I suppose. A British civil servant living alone finds himself in the center of an investigation into an explosion. Prior to the explosion Thaniel discovered a pocket watch left for him at his apartment. Six months later, in part due to the watch itself, he narrowly escapes a bomb blast that targeted Scotland Yard. Thaniel tracks down the watchmaker, a shy Japanese man who has a collection of unusual items crafted with watch parts including a robotic octopus who - among its many talents - folds socks! Thaniel is drawn into a world of intrigue and subterfuge. A female physicist from Oxford is also interjected into the situation. Is Mori responsible for the blast? What is Grace trying to prove? What draws Thaniel into this situation? A great exploration of the "other" in traditional society....more
This was an easy read, although looking back I feel a little confounded. Max is a typical New Yorker - a successful investment broker, son of Greek imThis was an easy read, although looking back I feel a little confounded. Max is a typical New Yorker - a successful investment broker, son of Greek immigrants, now orphaned along with his sister Sophia after their mother has died of cancer. A chance meeting with, of all things, a falafel vendor from India sparks his decision to leave and travel to India and the Himalayas in search of enlightenment. While not specifically seeking a guru, Max meets a collection of individuals during his time in India that send him further and further into a devotional practice and further away from the person he once was. Along the way we learn that Max is mildly haunted by some of his younger experiences - friends who were lost or crippled due to street violence, a girlfriend that aborted his baby and then disappeared. Slowly, we watch Max acquiesce to oblivion and detachment. What isn't completely clear is why Max desires this. Why does he need to go so far from home, into completely foreign territory for him, when there's a chance at finding what he's looking for (meaning in life) right where he is. I had hoped, during reading this, that he would learn that just like Dorothy, it was right there all along and that the greatest meaning in life really came from the people in our lives. His younger sister clearly needed him and yet he chose to stay away. This was an interesting read, well-done and there was an easy flow to reading it. It's only afterward that I'm feeling a little mystified by what the story could have been....more
A personal story from the frontlines of America's immigration crisis. If you forget that there are real humans who are deeply impacted by the deportatA personal story from the frontlines of America's immigration crisis. If you forget that there are real humans who are deeply impacted by the deportation of so-called illegal immigrants, this is an important chapter in that story. Diane is now known as an actress, working on Netflix's "Orange is the new Black" series, but as a child she was the America-born daughter of immigrants from Columbia who settled in the Boston area. At the age of fourteen Diane came home from school and a play rehearsal to find both of her parents gone. They had been rounded up by immigration department officials and would eventually both be deported, along with her older half-brother.
This story works best when focusing on the human price that was paid in the process. Nobody from INS ever realized that a teenager was left behind when her parents were deported and no official ever checked on Diane or offered any kind of assistance. She was fortunate to find friends whom she could stay with (and her parents did send money to help out) but as time goes by and she graduates from high school and goes on to college, the ways that she begins to act out clearly demonstrate what happens when a young person doesn't have any parents there to raise them. Self-abuse, for instance, as well as the anger and resentment she begins to develop at her parents for (as she sometimes sees it) allowing this to happen by not following proper channels.
Although I'm an OITNB fan and initially was interested in Diane's story, I felt less connected to the final chapters where she documents how she successfully became an actress (although the chapter where she moves to NYC and winds up selling her used shoes to a fetishist-vendor was amusing) than to the story of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the deportation. Also, at times it was apparent that this story was co-written by a professional writer and also needed a better edit.
Have to mention the fact that I read this in print, in hardcover, from a library copy and the paper it was printed on felt very cheap. A small thing to take from an overall score, but it's the kind of thing an avid reader like me notices....more