I enjoyed this Gerritsen novel, but it is definitely not the best of her Rizzoli and Isles series. I did, however, think that the plot was cleverly spI enjoyed this Gerritsen novel, but it is definitely not the best of her Rizzoli and Isles series. I did, however, think that the plot was cleverly spun, and it was interesting to learn about the death rituals of ancient and other cultures....more
My library book club (I refuse to call it the 40 and Over Book Club, since I am not 40 yet) selected an Erdrich work for next month's read. I rememberMy library book club (I refuse to call it the 40 and Over Book Club, since I am not 40 yet) selected an Erdrich work for next month's read. I remember my Mom reading this one and telling me that it was good and short, so I went ahead and checked it out from the library so I could get a sense of of Erdrich and her writing style before tackling a larger work.
I do have to say that this was very unusual and haunting in so many ways, and I found it so very compelling that I almost cannot stop thinking about it. Other reviews as well as the book cover make a big deal about this novella being about a woman who keeps two diaries after she learns that her husband found her diary and begins reading it behind her back. She keeps a "real" diary in a safe deposit box and leaves another diary in which she creates all sorts of deceptions in her original hiding spot. But, I really found this to be such a small part of the story.
Instead, it is a story about marriage, alcoholism, abuse (physical AND emotional), passion, desire, love, and hate. Even though I think that it would be easy to say that Gil (the husband) was the guilty party here, I think that as much blame can be put on Irene (the wife) for their dysfunctional existence. What is interesting is that, in the end and despite everything, they are drawn to each other...even though they know that it is bad for them...almost like a moth to flame, and things end with similarly disastrous results.
There is not much action in this book...it is more like a portrait of everyday life and the relationships that lie therein. It was the perfect length, as I think that it would have been too much if it were much longer. The writing was unusual, a sort of weird third person-first person style. At first, I have to admit that I felt the writing and the story itself to be a bit on the self-indulgent side. Then, I felt that it was rather stereotypical (two fatherless American Indians who are alcoholics, abusing each other???), but I know that she is of American Indian descent, so I suppose that she can create her characters as she wishes. But, I suppose that, just as Gil and Irene were addicted to each other and their demons, I quickly became addicted to them too....more
Since the girls like to read and "draw-draw" on the Etch-a-Sketch thingy-s that Babcia and Dziadek gave them while we are in the car, I've stopped lisSince the girls like to read and "draw-draw" on the Etch-a-Sketch thingy-s that Babcia and Dziadek gave them while we are in the car, I've stopped listening to kid's music and decided to go back to audiobooks. However, I started to worry that listening to violent audiobooks (like my favorite mystery/thriller/suspense genre) might be as traumatic as watching violent television, so I figured that I have to pick something fairly innocent without murder, fighting, sex scenes, and a paucity of four-letter words. I'll have to ask my pediatrician about this (although, he will probably tease me as he always does for being too overprotective), but it does make me feel better to have these parameters for what I choose to listen to in the car.
So, enter this book, which my bestest sister-in-law Amy read recently and enjoyed. It is a humor book, and it is probably best for women of a mature age. I am not so sure that I would have gotten it several years ago, but, now that I have almost reached that magical age of 40 and don't understand why it so hard to find jeans that fit around your waist since more than half of American women and defintely those of is that have had multiple children have muffin-tops, I understand more and more of the humor.
The best thing about this audiobook, since I am not in the car *that* much is that it is more a collection of humorous autobiographical essays than a continuous story in which you constantly have to try and remember what was happening when you turned off the car the day before.
My favorite essay (and they were all super cute, which Ephron would probably kill me for saying, and relatable) was the one about purses. Everyone who knows me knows that I am obsessively compulsively anal about cleanliness and organization. This has become very difficult to continue to do with the children (though, some of it rubs off as Sophie picks up trash everywhere we go and Jacqueline finds the most miniscule pieces of whatever on the floor and brings to me to throw out). So, I laughed out loud as Ephron described what she finds in her purse. I know have a "Mom Purse," which I did clean out the other day and found a couple of animal crackers, several crushed Pepperidge Farm goldfishes, and the ubiquitous used tissues from the allergy season!
My one gripe was with the last essay, which I did think was morbid and did not fit into the humor theme. Maybe it was hard for me hear, since I am getting older, may not be able to conceive again, scared to death of death, and my parents and in-laws are now officially that age where worrisome things can and do happen. But, it was a real downer, especially at the end of the audiobook.
This audiobook was read by the author, and she was an amazing reader! Her enunciation was clean and clear, and she read slowly so, for the first time ever, I did not have to turn the volume up to pick the words up. Ephron reminded me so much of my Mom...a straight-shooter with whom you always know where you stand. And like with my Mom, I would enjoy knowing her and would be proud to call her a friend if the opportunity ever arose....more
My cat just hit the mouse such that my entire review of this book just disappeared. Can I just say "ARRRGGGHHH!!!" So, I will try to recreate what I sMy cat just hit the mouse such that my entire review of this book just disappeared. Can I just say "ARRRGGGHHH!!!" So, I will try to recreate what I said because I have to admit that (1.) I don't like to write and (2.) I don't think that I am a good writer, so I am about at my limit for writing for the day since I have been catching up on reviews that I have neglected on Goodreads.
I was not able to write a review immediately for this novel...that may be partly an excuse because I like to read so much more than I like to write, but it also is somewhat because I am still not so sure what I think of this book.
I love Paretsky and the VI Warshawski character, but she has somewhat fallen out of favor with me because (1.) she is not that prolific (not necessarily a bad thing because I DO think that quality far outwieghs quantity as evidenced by the work that Patterson and Cornwell have put out recently and (2.) she has become less reliable as a storyteller in my opinion (not so sure why). So, I thought that I would give this one a chance...it is NOT a VI story nor is it even a detective story. Actually, I am not so sure what kind of story it is. Maybe she intended it to be a character study...if so, I probably would have cut 150 to 200 pages off of the text and made it into a novella or even short story as I thought that it was rather repetitive and almost bordered on boring. I constantly wondered when *something* was going to happen. I found the whole Gina/Elaine/Wiccan storyline to be extremely distracting. And, in fact, I think that you could read the dust cover (essentially reproduced in the Goodreads synopsis) and know exactly what happens in this book. Actually, it makes it seem as if there is alot more thrilling action than there really is.
I was somewhat intrigued with what Paretsky wrote in the Background section that she included in this publication. She states that she grew up in Kansas and that, even though she has been away for 40 years, she states that it is "still in [her:] bones." Shs also says that "[i:]t took eight years of thinking about the people and places [she:] knew before [she:] could write this novel." After reading it, it makes me think of what might have happened to her there when she was growing up and whether any of the characters might (maybe Lara) be somewhat autobiographical in nature.
This thought led me to consider whether I might be able to live in Kansas or even in a small town. There are some things that charm me and are very alluring, like the Jim Grellier character, a man who is kind and giving and believes that you should treat everyone with respect because you never know when YOU might need THEIR help. But, then there are some things that disgust me like the fundamentalist Christian Schapen family, who disguise their hatred as religion and are so brainwashed that they emotionally abuse one of their own. I don't know...I see alot of this type of stuff in North Carolina too.
This book did bring back to mind one of the books that I read in 2008 or 2009 What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America by Thomas Frank) since Paretsky, like Frank, details Kansas's history of being a safe-haven for whites who believed that blacks should not be slaves as well as the former slaves themselves. Many people lost their lives believing in personal freedoms and what was fundamentally "right." One would argue that nowadays that would be considered a very liberal view...it makes you wonder what happened to alot of us here in America?...more
What to say...this is a book about potty training or should I say "potty learning." This was not an eye-opening read for me, but it did make me feel bWhat to say...this is a book about potty training or should I say "potty learning." This was not an eye-opening read for me, but it did make me feel better about the process as a whole. Specifically, since I have grown up hearing how I just started to use the potty around 18 months, and my sister took to the potty fairly easily at about two years, I was starting to feel like a loser that my kids didn't seem to be "getting it." Some of this book talked about readiness (which was not even in my parents' vocabulary when we were little) and some of it contains helpful technniques, but I think that the best part of the book was how it explained step-by-step what it takes to go to the potty and what a toddler must master. Hence, why this is "potty learning" and not "potty training." Once I thought about the "learning" aspect and how much time it took them to learn how to crawl or walk or sleep through the night or even do a puzzle, I felt alot less anxious about the whole process. Now, I try to celebrate whatever success, however small, we have!...more
I saw this one in the library a couple of weeks ago when I was checking the online catalog...turned my head and there it was. As most people know, I aI saw this one in the library a couple of weeks ago when I was checking the online catalog...turned my head and there it was. As most people know, I am an Aerosmith nut. And, I have to admit that I have been in sort of a depression about the news of Steven Tyler checking into rehab again and the rest of the band interviewing potential new lead singers (Billy Idol?!?! You HAVE to be kidding!!!) At any rate, I thought that this would be an interesting read. It was, in fact, a seriously guilty read...along the lines of reading People Magazine or watching America's Next Top Model!
Mia Tyler is Steven Tyler's daughter by his first wife, Cyrinda Foxe (Steven Tyler never married Liv Tyler's mom, Bebe Buell). Cyrinda Foxe was a 1970s "It Girl," having been taken under Andy Warhol's wing and parading through the club and drug scene of the day. After having an affair with Steven Tyler and getting pregnant once (subsequently aborted) and then getting pregnant again with Mia, they got married in her sixth month. Interestingly enough, Cyrinda got pregnant two more times after that and aborted both and Mia wonders in her book why her mother, who was conspicuously absent physically, mentally, and emotionally throughout much of her life, decided to keep her. What a sad thought that no child should ever have to have!
This book is more of a memoir than the subtitle of the book would lead one to believe. Tyler talks about her life growing up, her mother complaining about her father all the time, her mother's drug use, her mother's friends and boyfriends, her mother's lack of parenting skills. She speaks fondly of her father whom she believes, despite being a rock 'n' roll star and long absences while touring and recording, was and is a normal dad. Tyler talks about her descent into drug and alcohol use and somewhat promiscuous sex both at an early age, her stint in rehab at age 19, her very successful plus-size modeling career, and her failed and abusive marriage. The story ends as she is entering her 30s, engaged to be married again, and managing a "community" on MySpace and feeling good helping to solve others' problems...mind you, not that she has any formal training in social work or psychiatry or anything.
Despite the subtitle of the book, I am not so sure that Tyler has learned anything. I don't think that she ever had issue with her physical beauty or her weight so she never had to learn to accept those attributes. As for internal beauty, even though she berates her mother for not doing anything with her life, finding purpose, getting with it, etc. and, in general, talks a good game, I found Tyler to be much the same. Her life appeared to be aimless, without purpose, full of drugs/alcohol and other irresponsible behavior, and failed personal relationships. There were several times I just wanted to slap her upside the head, but, of course, she didn't have a very good role model or boundaries growing up so no wonder the cycle continued.
As an aside, the editing was pretty poor...and Simon and Schuster, which is a big publishing house, should be ashamed. I read this book pretty fast and the mistakes were pretty glaring even then.
At any rate, if you are into somewhat self-indulgent rocker chick stories about lots of sex, drugs, booze, and partying, this one is for you...
Oh and BTW, right after reading this book, I received an e-mail from the Aerosmith Official Fan Club that a new tour is being launched WITH Steven Tyler in his rightful place as lead singer. Yay!!!...more
This book came on my radar screen though a book club at the Durham County Library that I attended to discuss The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely FrThis book came on my radar screen though a book club at the Durham County Library that I attended to discuss The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez. I didn't realize that I was going to a book club meeting, I had just seen postings for the discussion, and a friend of mine and I decided to go. Well, it turned out that it was a book club for the 40 and over crowd, run by one of the reference librarians who was really nice. This is the book for the March meeting...I know, I know, I am not 40 yet, but pretty darn close! I am not so sure that I will continue with a second book club, but figured that I would give it a try!
At any rate, yes, this is the book upon which the movie with Kate Winslet (who won the Oscar for her performance) and Ralph Fiennes is based. And, let me digress for a moment and say that Screenwriter David Hare deserved his Oscar nomination and probably a win. You know how almost all of the time you read a book and then see a movie and then are SO angry about how they massacred the story? Well, this one is SPOT ON.
Most people know the story, so I won't worry about spoiling it. In a nutshell, 15-year old Michael Berg is seduced/raped/has a love affair with a woman more than twice his age, Hanna Schmitt. Much of their time spent together is passed with Michael reading aloud to Hanna. Then, suddenly, Hanna disappears. The next time Michael sees Hanna, he is a law student and she is on trial for crimes allegedly committed which she was an SS guard during WWII. Michael realizes that Hanna has the opportunity to save herself from life imprisonment if only she admits that she cannot read or write. The shame of that admission however, is to Hanna, far greater than the shame of being a convicted Nazi war criminal. Hanna goes to prison and Michael sends her audiotapes of books that she uses to teach herself how to read and write. The book ends with Hanna hanging herself on the eve of being released to Michael's care.
This book is short, but complex. There is alot of food for thought about ethics, shame, love, manipulation, etc. And not only on an individual level, Schlink also explores it on a national level. There are so many books and movies about the WWII experience that it was interesting to read about post WWII. Michael's feelings and thoughts are probably the only things that Schlink explore that are not adequately addressed in the movie...though, in hindsight, how a screenwriter or director would do this without alot of cheesy voiceover work is beyond me.
This is definitely a "pass the Prozac" read. It was disturbing to me how "stuck" Michael got in life. He was so morose and had such a hard time living that I sometimes wanted to slap him silly and tell him to get a life! It was the same reaction, although vastly different context, that I had with the main character in Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. I do understand that this was the only way that Michael could be, but that does not mean that I would like to know him in real life.
Michael's internal debate as to whether to save Hanna from herself was very interesting. Schlink explores the shame of illiteracy well. It is so hard for us who can read and write to understand (kind of like how people who have no problem getting pregnant have no idea what it is like to struggle with infertility) what it must be like to not know how to read or write. It is ironic to think on the subject while reading a book, too. In my somewhat sheltered upbringing, it never even occurred to me that people could not read or write. We, in America, go to school, and that is what you do in school. But I remember one day while working in my Dad's office, one of his patients asked me to write out a check for him to sign to pay for his office visit. Later, I was relating my day to my parents and complaining about this man...I was not HIS secretary, after all! My Dad clued me in. I felt awful and embarrassed that my first reaction was one of annoyance and not one of sympathy. The man was elderly and had lived his entire life without the joy of a novel, reading a book to his son or daughter, or even writing a love letter to his wife. I cannot even fathom...
My favorite excerpt: "But love of our parents is the only love for which we are not responsible."...more
I saw in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago that this book was selected for the 2010 Summer Reading Program for the UNC's incoming freshman and transI saw in the newspaper a couple of weeks ago that this book was selected for the 2010 Summer Reading Program for the UNC's incoming freshman and transfer students. So, when I was in the library and saw it on the shelf not far away from our next book club selection, I though "why not?"
This is the story of a woman who was brutally raped while in college who mistakenly identified a man who subsequently was imprisoned for 11 years as her attacker. The man, Ronald Cotton, who was first convicted in Jennifer's case and then convicted of a second crime upon appeal, was sentenced to life imprisonment plus 54 years. He ultimately was freed after DNA exonerated him and proved that another man, whom Ron ironically was imprisoned with and was repeatedly confused with because they looked so similar, was responsible for the crimes as well as several others.
This book was different than others than I had read on a similar subject (e.g., The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham) or the documentary that I saw about Darryl Hunt a few years ago. Specifically, I don't think that anyone, including Cotton, could argue that anyone did anything "wrong" per se (except maybe the real perpertrator who could have been a man and coped to crimes). There was no prosecuterial misconduct, there was not coersion, I didn't sit there through the book and constantly say "oh my gosh" or "no way!"...it was just a mistake. Everyone thought that they were doing the right thing. Surprisingly (if you know anything about the Grisham book or Hunt's case), both the police detective as well as the original prosecutor admitted the mistake and apologized to Cotton, who has handled his ordeal with grace, strength, maturity, and, ultimately, forgiveness. I think that it is only fitting that Thompson and Cotton have become friends as well as advocates of the wrongly-convicted.
The book goes into why convictions based solely on eyewitness accounts are tenuous at best. I found this to be fascinating. I also found it interesting that the police detective, who later became police chief of the town that was the setting of this crime (i.e., Burlington), was the first in North Carolina to make some pretty major changes to the identification process (i.e., sequential showing of photos instead of an array as well as double-blind line-ups). Ironically, the Durham Police Department could have learned this lesson a bit earlier...
I have to admit that I felt that the writing in this book was a bit stilted at first, and I got a bit annoyed at the jumping around in time. But, it started to grow on me, and I think that once I accepted it more as a one-step-above-stream-of-consciousness-train-of-thought-type writing, I enjoyed it a bunch more and was glad that the writer that helped Thompson and Cotton get their thoughts organized and on paper did not polish it too much. I don't think that I would have found the book as sincere as I did. ...more
I read this book, based on a recommendation by a friend from my book club. She had suggested it as one of our selections this year, but it just didn'tI read this book, based on a recommendation by a friend from my book club. She had suggested it as one of our selections this year, but it just didn't make the cut. I am glad that I took the time to check it out!
This is the story about a LA Times journalist, Steve Lopez, who, in searching for material for his next column, stops and talks to an African American man playing a two-stringed violin. Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, homeless and mentally ill, is friendly, and the two begin talking. Lopez soon finds out the Ayers used to be a Julliard scholarship student and finds himself wanting to learn more about his new-found friend. Happy that he discovered content for an entire series of columns, Lopez soon finds out that his relationship with Ayers develops into something way more complicated yet enriching...that of being an advocate and a friend.
I think that what I liked most about this book is that it was not your typical "feel good" story. Ayers is not cured of his mental illness, nor does Lopez convince him to start psychotherapy or take medications by the end of the book. He IS successful, however, in convincing Ayers to start living off the streets, and I think that the book does a very good job of portraying the frustrations of understanding severe mental illness that most of we "lay people" have versus the "celebrating the small steps" and patient attitude that the mental health community employ with working with folks such as Ayers. However, I did "feel good" reading this book! I believe that was mostly because it seemed to be a very accurate portrayal of a person living with mental illness and how addressing this disease is not as easy as most people would think. I felt alot of pride for both Lopez and Ayers.
Lopez writes this story in a very readable, sensitive, humble, and approachable way. I believe that both Lopez and Ayers are very brave men...Lopez for even making initial contact with Ayers (I mean how many of us strike up conversations with homeless people to see what their "story" is) and Ayers for living with an disease that is so hard for those of us not stricken with it to understand and for taking small steps to improving his situation. Maybe because Lopez is a journalist, I found the writing to be very straightforward and easy and took almost no effort at all. I am now anxious to check out the movie....more
This is an early Gerritsen effort (and not a Rizzoli and Isles novel). It was enjoyable, but not a wow. Basically, it is a suspense thriller about anThis is an early Gerritsen effort (and not a Rizzoli and Isles novel). It was enjoyable, but not a wow. Basically, it is a suspense thriller about an ER doctor who stumbles on a fountain of youth medical procedure (and the ring of doctors profiting from administering it to rich elderly patients) gone horribly wrong in the form of patients dying of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. Since the protagonist was not in the criminal justice field, the plot was a bit on the unbelievable side since essentially a lay person was way too entangled in the investigation. I did like how Gerritsen only hinted at a romantic sub-plot...I think that it would have been too much if it had gone too far. I probably would not recommend this other for the most dedicated of Gerritsen and medical thriller fans....more