A lovely telling of one man's struggle to preserve the peace and mysticism of our most precious national parks. Set in 1968 at Arches National Park anA lovely telling of one man's struggle to preserve the peace and mysticism of our most precious national parks. Set in 1968 at Arches National Park and Utah's southwestern desert, Edward Abbey lives a remote existence of a park ranger during the Spring to Fall months. This is a definitive text on what happens when humans encroach on our most beautiful and precious natural landscapes. So descriptive and slow-paced it let me feel the savage beauty of the environment. More than that it peaked in me my own internal struggle with protecting the wonders of nature from the thoughtless onslaught of man's destructive nature but still appreciate the system that allows thousands, even millions of tourists to explore and view these sacred places. In the end I am a tourist myself and want to have access to them, but at what cost?...more
I listened to the audiobook version (which incidentally was the first version BEFORE it went to print) and just loved it. Particularly because it wasI listened to the audiobook version (which incidentally was the first version BEFORE it went to print) and just loved it. Particularly because it was read by the author himself, Ron McLarty who is a renowned stage and TV actor in his own right. I would almost say this is bildungsroman, typically a genre with a young character coming of age, if it weren't for the fact that the protagonist is 43 years old. For Smithson "Smithy" Ide, tumultuous family events from his youth have caused him to become a truly pathetic adult - an alcoholic, chain-smoking, overweight, apathetic being with no friends and no real prospects. But then, all which he really values and loves, his loving parents and long-lost, beautiful, yet deeply disturbed sister, is ripped away from him nearly all at once. After the wake at his parents’ house when the mourners have all dispersed, Smithy, drunk and overcome with grief, finds his old Raleigh bicycle that he rode in his youth. He wrestles it off of the garage wall, climbs on it, flat tires and all, and rolls down the drive and right out of town. Heading West from Rhode Island, without a single personal possession, the only thing that he is aware of is the sensation of being on a bike again after so many sedentary years and the driving force to go to California to claim his sister's body. On the way he is forced to re-examine everything and everyone is his life that has brought him to this moment and experience the varied terrain of the ever-changing American byways (I particularly loved the section set in Colorado - the author clearly loves this state). This wonderfully narrated tale takes on shades of Forrest Gump and A Confederacy of Dunces (without the extraordinary flatulence) in some of the characters' particular personality traits and that there is a catalyst, barely even known to themselves, that motivates and moves them forward. It is a heartbreaking, heartwarming, infuriating, hysterical, physically challenging, and transformative journey for our beloved Smithy. ...more
An exceptional story about the 1914-1917 Shackleton expedition, or should I say misadventure, to the Antarctic continent on the wooden sailing ship, tAn exceptional story about the 1914-1917 Shackleton expedition, or should I say misadventure, to the Antarctic continent on the wooden sailing ship, the Endurance. I really enjoyed the fact that, though it was non-fiction it reads like fiction. You are never bored and are kept in suspense for a good portion of it. There have been several books written about this expedition but Alphred Lansing wrote this stellar account back in 1958 and it has understandably become a classic. I actually listened to this on CD and the reader, Simon Prebble, who is well know for his narration on many books, completely did it justice. The only disadvantage to listening is that I was not able to see a map or photos or the actual diary entries that these courageous men so carefully and reverently kept during their almost three year trial in the frozen wastes and abominable seas. Driven by curiosity and fortunate to have a fellow librarian's recommendation I got my hands on another book, published by National Geographic. It brought the images I had created in my head to life. Shackleton: the Antarctic challenge by Kim Heacox has collected some of these stunning photos, as well as modern photos of Antarctica, and provided a clear map of the Endurance expedition as well as Shackleton's other expeditions. I also learned more about the Shackleton's life through the book. So I guess this is a double recommendation!
I really enjoyed this 3rd book in the Game of Thrones series. I can't reveal too much but the characters, the action, the scenery, the intrigue, and tI really enjoyed this 3rd book in the Game of Thrones series. I can't reveal too much but the characters, the action, the scenery, the intrigue, and the major events were never lacking and kept me fully engaged. I am looking forward to getting into book #4 and am pleasantly surprised that I am enjoying the series more and more. BTW, I don't think I ever mentioned that I am listening to these books rather than reading them - the narrator, Roy Dotrice, a brilliant, award-winning actor is also one of the best narrators I've ever listened to - I am astounded by his ability to create new voices and accents for the multitude of characters and I mean there are A LOT of characters. He even sings the old folk songs, hymns and mistrel ballads in the story! He is masterful in letting you know exactly how each person is feeling and the full drama of the situation....more
I knew I would like this book. What a trip. I read it in anticipation of finally watching the movie and was not disappointed. Set around the time of tI knew I would like this book. What a trip. I read it in anticipation of finally watching the movie and was not disappointed. Set around the time of the Cold War we have a US Marshal, Teddy Daniels, sent to a mental institution for the criminally insane on an island off of the coast of Boston. He and his new partner are there to investigate the disappearance of an inmate...correction, a "patient," of this high security fortress. The author so clearly describes the setting with it's complex landscape and it's sinister architecture - an old fort, a lighthouse and a mansion renovated to accommodate some of the world's most dangerous homicidal patients alive. As a pernicious hurricane approches the case also gains momentum. It is obvious that there is a lot more going on than what is on the surface. Just the likelihood of a patient escaping was virtually nill considering the formidable security measures but moreover the deadly terrain of the island itself. The situation becomes more and more complex and intense as we start to learn more about our Marshal's past and his reasons for being on Shutter Island and the secrets that are being hidden there. ...more
This was my first Neil Gaiman read. And though I read this a little while back, I have to say this is one of those books that stayed with me. I oftenThis was my first Neil Gaiman read. And though I read this a little while back, I have to say this is one of those books that stayed with me. I often recall portions of this complex story that I found so moving, entertaining or even educational. I loved the characters particularly the humble determination of the main character. Part adventure, part mythological retelling, part historical fiction, part mystery, part inspirational fiction, and part human drama it was a very complete, unique and pleasurable read. I'm not much of a graphic novel reader but I really look forward to reading Gaiman's more recent novel and book of short stories, The ocean at the end of the lane and Unnatural creatures....more
My first inclination was to say that I really enjoyed this book, I liked the plot and character development and it's epistolary style. A true teen novMy first inclination was to say that I really enjoyed this book, I liked the plot and character development and it's epistolary style. A true teen novel - very Bildungsroman - dealing with identity, family, teachers, parties, young love, sex, homosexuality, rock music, classic literature, drugs, death, suicide and secrets - you name it, it was in there. It was entertaining and I hope that the new movie coming out can even improve on it.
But something irked me. Mostly I felt I was left without knowing what was really wrong with the narrator, Charlie - and there was clearly something wrong with this kid. Was it mental illness or developmental disability of some sort? As he wrote to his mysterious confidant I could not reconcile the infantile language he used with his age and the how he handled dramatic experiences. He is supposed to be 15 but wrote like a 7 year old. He wrote in simple, matter of fact sentences with striking naivete and no real sophistication or gift for rhetoric. Granted, he handled most of the drama very well and there were times he said the most profound things but it didn't add up. Did he talk the same way he wrote? It almost seems like there's no way he could have. I kept wondering, if he is so obviously socially disabled why didn't his friends not have more issues with him? Another thing, by contrast, his friends, who are part of the cool seniors group by the way, were almost too sage, had it too together. Not to say they didn't have their share of teen troubles but their advice to Charlie was beyond anything I got from my friends back in the day. Because of these annoying elements I had to lower my rating to 3 stars....more
This is an amazing story of humanity and spiritual awakening. The first paragraphs alone will keep you enthralled in its detailed description and wellThis is an amazing story of humanity and spiritual awakening. The first paragraphs alone will keep you enthralled in its detailed description and well executed delivery. I don't want to give too much away because you will want to go on this journey with the main character from beginning to end. Just let's say that he suffers a life altering event that will change his physical life forever. Through his recovery he meets a completely mysterious woman who behaves as though she has known him his whole life...even before his life began. Because of her and in spite of himself he is changed spiritually and emotionally as well....more
Very enthralling account of the older of two young and well-to-do Shanghaiese sisters and their trials during the onset of World War II. As they fleeVery enthralling account of the older of two young and well-to-do Shanghaiese sisters and their trials during the onset of World War II. As they flee Shanghai from the Japanese invasion they face devastating loss and the collapse of all they have known. Their consequent immigration to the United States was met both by extreme hardships and extreme joys. It is also a story about secrets and the cost of keeping them or losing them. But moreover you get carried into the older sister's search for happiness, love and respect - within her new country, within her changing culture, within her family and within herself....more
Because this novel struck so many chords with me I had to give it 5 stars. I actually listened to it on CD and having Jeannette Walls herself as the rBecause this novel struck so many chords with me I had to give it 5 stars. I actually listened to it on CD and having Jeannette Walls herself as the reader was a real treat. As I listened, it hit me more and more that the main character, (technically, this book was as near to a true biography of her own grandmother as she could get) was incredibly similar to my own grandmother. Even the settings were extremely familiar. I must apologize now - this is a long one but I can't resist comparing the two women here. Fair warning, there are a couple of spoilers.
Though she spent her youth in Florida, and never lived in Chicago or a big city, my grandmother was raised as a ranch woman in her father's ranch in Kansas. In Florida her mother tried to make a lady out of her, sending her to a boarding school for girls but it never really took. Of course, she has spent most of her life breeding and training Appaloosa horses in addition to raising Beefalo cattle (a cross between domestic cattle and buffalo), Mexican burros, geese, ducks, you name it. She possesses that ranch-person paradox of raising cattle for consumption but being a huge animal advocate as well. She has rescued, and still does, countless cats and dogs among other exotic species. My grandmother was never a teacher but she deeply cares about Native American culture and art. She rode an Indian motorcycle and drove like a bat out of he!! when behind the wheel of a car or truck. The author's grandmother even flew airplanes but my grandmother went so far as to join the military in WWII. She enlisted and became a WASP (Women's Air Force Service Pilots) and trained in West Texas. Once promoted and certified, she flew between Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas serving as a test pilot. At the time, they were considered "civilian" pilots even though they had to live and follow the rules like the male military pilots except without the military benefits. They have since earned military and veteran status but that wasn't until 1979.
More than anything was the striking similarity in their personalities and their philosophy about life. Her strength was her belief in standing up for what's right, doing what needed to be done and not getting hysterical about it. To this day at the ranch she keeps a .22 rifle near her bedside, just in case. But overall, I was so touched that the author felt so compelled to share how these kinds of women lived, though little known or recognized and way ahead of their time. She makes it clear that they left an indelible impression on America in the 20th century. Hmmm... maybe I should write a book too? Don't know if I could do it as well as Jeannette Walls but I would love to honor my grandmother that way and Half Broke Horses certainly is an inspiring piece of work....more
Absolutely fascinating book. I am so grateful that the author, Rebecca Skloot, took the time do all of this research and really TALK to Henrietta's faAbsolutely fascinating book. I am so grateful that the author, Rebecca Skloot, took the time do all of this research and really TALK to Henrietta's family. It is astonishing how back in the 1950s and the ensuing decades this woman's cells, known only as HELA created such astounding and invaluable breakthroughs in medical research. Not only that, she indirectly helped to create laws to protect the rights of patients. Yet, Henrietta, the woman herself, has remained virtually unknown until now. The socio-economic and racial factors of her life (she was African American) have contributed to her near erasure from existence. And sadly it has carried on through the generations of her family - they have also never received any benefit from the contributions she made to science. I admire how the author attempts to put this right. But along the way she makes friendships and discoveries that she had never anticipated and it was lovely to follow her journey....more
It was alright for a teen distopian/utopian novel but nothing really special. It definitely leaves you with the impression that you need to keep readiIt was alright for a teen distopian/utopian novel but nothing really special. It definitely leaves you with the impression that you need to keep reading the sequels - which I may or may not do....more
I was facinated with the folktales and myths of this region. I know so little about the Balkans and its people. Just think of how many different cultuI was facinated with the folktales and myths of this region. I know so little about the Balkans and its people. Just think of how many different cultures influence this area - it is facinating. The story writing was great too so I kept reading to see where it all would lead. I am a big fan of the woman's grandfather. I was intruiged by the old tales and new alike. However, while I could identify with some of it there wre many things I could not. I say "intrigued" but at the same time I was also very irritated. The author was very good at displaying the closemindedness and ignorance of these people. How when they could not understand something they fell back on their paranoias and fears and old myths. But then maybe that was the point. I am not tolerant of such thinking and had a hard time with that - that is why it only got 3 stars from me....more
What a messed up story. It really deserves 3 1/2 stars. Nick and Amy, a supposedly, blissfully married couple stuck in a town where neither of them reWhat a messed up story. It really deserves 3 1/2 stars. Nick and Amy, a supposedly, blissfully married couple stuck in a town where neither of them really want to be, living a life neither of them want live but both of them nearly oblivious to the others feelings. One day, out of the blue, Amy disappears. Masterfully written narration tells the story of each of the characters form their individual points of view. I listened to it on CD and having narrated by a woman and man really brought this to life. It jumps cleanly from the past to the present to lead up to the ultimate conclusion. But even more brilliant was the way the author was able to make you change your opinion of each them. First you were on his side, then you were on her side...then him...then her again...and back...throughout the entire book. Eventually, I couldn't stand either of them. Truly a match made in Hell....more