This is a super fascinating book. It takes some attention to follow the medical lingo, but the author presents it in as simple terms as possible. TherThis is a super fascinating book. It takes some attention to follow the medical lingo, but the author presents it in as simple terms as possible. There are many thought provoking issues that arise in this book as the author undergoes experimental treatment for Asperger's. A must read for anybody who has a connection with the autistic community. ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It's remarkably honest about working class problems and how and why the poverty cycle is so hard to escape. It gave me a lI really enjoyed this book. It's remarkably honest about working class problems and how and why the poverty cycle is so hard to escape. It gave me a lot of food for thought. ...more
I know everybody loves this book and I am in the minority. There IS a lot to like about this book, and the opening scene is as well written as any pieI know everybody loves this book and I am in the minority. There IS a lot to like about this book, and the opening scene is as well written as any piece of literature I've read. But I confess that I got bogged down a little bit with the unfamiliar vocabulary of the logging business, and I couldn't always keep straight who was doing what and why the Pembertons wanted to kill who they killed. So maybe it's just my own short attention span that made me go, wait, what are they doing? all the time.
That said, Serena is an excellent Lady McBeth character, ethereal and evil all at one. Powerful and scary, it was easy to imagine other people's wariness and fright of her. She's very well done.
This might be a book that I would pick up another time when I have more time in my life and give it another go. But for now, I will return it to the library, unfinished....more
Twins born from an impossible romance between a doctor and a nun begin their life together in a struggling hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The bookTwins born from an impossible romance between a doctor and a nun begin their life together in a struggling hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The book is narrated by one of the twins, as a flashback of sorts, and spans the entire length of their lives.
There is a lot to love about this book.
The prose is lovely, the characters are drawn with vivid and rich descriptions, and it has a feeling of covering a vast backdrop while at the same time keeping you in the small circle of the twin's lives. It is a book with many overlapping themes, including love (all kinds), betrayal, political upheaval, parenthood, adoption, abandonment. Underneath it all, driving the narrative, is the constant character of medicine. Medicine is what brought all of the players together in this book, and I found the detailed descriptions of the surgeries quite fascinating. (But maybe I'm just morbid like that.)
I sometimes felt like the pace was a slow, and sometimes my attention waned. I feel like the author could have accomplished the same thing if it had been about 50 pages less, and the skip out of the main narrator's head into his father's head at the end felt incongruent and unnecessary. That wasn't my only issue with the narration--it slips into omniscient first person narration, which is always problematic. I also really disliked the conclusion of one of the character arcs. But those are picky things in an otherwise rich and interesting book. ...more
If you're looking for a light read that has some funny dialogue, this is your book. Also, reading it made me crave cornbread and wings.
Set in Prince GIf you're looking for a light read that has some funny dialogue, this is your book. Also, reading it made me crave cornbread and wings.
Set in Prince George County, Maryland (known as PG County, as in, that's SO PG County) Halia runs a soul food restaurant with her momma and her big breasted, spandex wearing, potty-mouthed cousin Wavonne. When Halia's business partner and no-account hustler Marcus Rand shows up dead in her restaurant, Halia sets out to discover who killed him before the scandal breaks that he was killed in her restaurant and she loses everything.
The mystery and plot are a little thin, and the financial scheme that is set up is a little bit unrealistic, but maybe that bothered me only because I live with a law professor who would have ranted at the silliness of it. There are some minor pacing issues----the author takes some time waxing lyrical about PG County and while I've lived in the DC Metro area for some time now and am familiar with PG County, it got a little tiresome and wasn't necessary for the development of the characters. Also the plot sort of hinges on names pulled from Living Single, and I'm a white girl who has never watched a single episode Living Single, so that and some other references sort of went over my head.
But the reader genuinely likes Halia, and the addition of recipes from the soul food restaurant Sweet Tea is fun. The descriptions of the food is also so lovely it makes me want to try out every recipe, and I don't even cook.
For the sensitive reader, be aware that Wavonne doesn't speak without a swear word, although she mostly keeps to phrases like "hail no" and "gold diggin' heifer". So, moving, lyrical prose it is not, but it's nice for a poolside read....more
Reading this book is sort of like eating the fast food the book talks about. Is it something that can sustain you in a literary way? Not really--the wReading this book is sort of like eating the fast food the book talks about. Is it something that can sustain you in a literary way? Not really--the whole book is literally about food. Is it kind of like a treat but you can't really read a ton at once? Absolutely. This book is perfect for when you need to stretch out at the end of the day, turn off your mind and laugh a little. He's very funny, and it's okay when you get tired of reading about bacon because you can put it down, forget about the book for a while, and then when you need a little brain candy, you can pick it up and remember that Jim Gaffigan makes funny jokes about meat.
I also don't think that Jim Gaffigan would be offended that I called his book brain candy. He doesn't exactly claim to be a literary genius, and his only expertise about food is that he likes to eat it. There is no pretending to be what he isn't, and no pretense about what this book has to offer. I feel like if Jim Gaffigan read the negative reviews for this book he would be all, "Seriously. I TOLD you it was all about food. It's in the title! I didn't say it was the DaVinci Code!"
So it's a nice funny book about food. Just like Jim Gaffigan said it would be....more
This is very fun, and has some laugh out loud lines in it, in particular a bit where Lizzy demands that Jane slay Caroline Bingley at once. Who hasn'tThis is very fun, and has some laugh out loud lines in it, in particular a bit where Lizzy demands that Jane slay Caroline Bingley at once. Who hasn't wanted to slay Caroline Bingley, really? A quick read that puts old favorites in a new light. ...more
It's hard for me to rate this book because I think the writing is quite intricate and the characters are actually people that you come to care about,It's hard for me to rate this book because I think the writing is quite intricate and the characters are actually people that you come to care about, or at least you care about the Emperor, and quite quickly too. This book is a character driven book, and it took me a while to figure out that, oh, really, not THAT much is going to happen in this book, mostly it's about relationships, and honor, and duty, and trying to do the right thing. And the good guy is not necessarily a triumphant hero in any sense, he's just, well, a dude who is consistently trying to do the right thing in the face on enormous pressure and bigotry and difficult circumstances. And the reader likes him for it.
My problem with this book is that it did feel a little flat to me at the end. I thought, that's all there is? In this wonderful story, there's nothing---else? I ended the book wanting more, and not in the way when you finish a story and you can't seem to wrench yourself away from the world, but in the way of, that's it? I've come this far with these characters and this is all I get? I can't say exactly what I was looking for, just that I felt largely unsatisfied as a reader.
I also took a star off because of the names. I understand that names are hard, and to have names you have to sort of create a language because names tend to determine the setting of a place, and if you have a made up place, then you have to have made up names that come from a made up language. I appreciate the art of naming characters, and I appreciate the subtlety of creating a new language.
This book, however, took that a little far, and the names are so complicated and so unpronounceable in English that it was difficult to read. Plus, lots of the characters had several names, or they were referred to by their titles. The titles were all very similar, and were delineated as masculine or feminine by slight changes of vowels or consonants at the end. It's quite clever, actually, and I'm sure there is a rule based language behind it, but it took me, a stupid reader, a long time to catch on, and by the time that I did, I was far enough into the book that I was having a very hard time keeping track of who was saying what. The women especially sort of blurred together, which was frustrating because there was a lot of intrigue based around arranged marriages and who was betrothed to whom and who was married to whom and who was supposed to be the heir to the throne and why.
I read this as an e-book, and it wasn't until I reached the end of the book that I came across the glossary of names. With a paperback that probably would have been helpful, but with an e-book it was entirely useless. Not the author's fault that her map of names was lost in the digital rendering of her book, but I do think the names were perhaps unnecessarily complex at the expense of the reader's understanding.
I have to say, though, that overall the prose and pacing on this book was excellent, and I'm glad I read it. I would definitely pick up another book by Katherine Addison.
I really, really wanted to like this book. I really, really like Amy Poehler and I like that she took the opportunity to write about the people that sI really, really wanted to like this book. I really, really like Amy Poehler and I like that she took the opportunity to write about the people that she worked with and gave them all glowing reports, like she sort of spills love on everybody wherever she goes, like some foulmouthed New England fairy godmother. I love her work, I love her writing, and I'd bet she'd make one heck of a blogger.
But a memoir? About pleasant things happening to pleasant people, except her divorce that she talks a lot about NOT talking about because, "I don't like people knowing my shit"---well, it's a little dull.
Also, turns out the ins and outs of putting together a TV show isn't all that interesting. My son loves Parks and Recreation and we have watched it together, but turns out talking about production is, well, a little dull. Talking about how much you love your cast mates is, well, kind and everything and I'm super glad it turns out that Amy Poehler is a kind and good person, but again, it's kind of dull. Her birth story about her first child was dramatic and interesting and she has some good things to say about motherhood and women and how we're all just a bunch of meanies to each other and seriously, can we just help each other out because we're all a bunch of sleep deprived zombies? So that's cool and everything, but otherwise, well....
So, this is a pleasant book written by a pleasant lady who is clever with words and is a good writer but it didn't change my life at all and I'll confess to a lot of skimming and not a lot of laughing. I'd say it's a good airplane book, but since I actually picked it up at an airport specifically to read on the airplane and stuffed it in the seat pocket after sort of half finishing 2/3rds of it, I can't even say that.
I still love her, though, and Amy, if you're reading this, I know, I know, it's hard to write a book. We all still think you're great. ...more
I couldn't decide between 2 and 3 stars, because some of this book is kinda cool, and some it is downright terrible. So this is probably more like a 2I couldn't decide between 2 and 3 stars, because some of this book is kinda cool, and some it is downright terrible. So this is probably more like a 2 and a half stars book, and I see why people would have given it a higher rating than I did.
Lucien Bernard is a French architect living in Paris during the Nazi Occupation. He's broke and he's hungry, so takes a job designing weapon factories for the Germans. The job isn't all it seems, however. The man who gets him the commission is a Frenchman looking for a brilliant architect to also build secret walls in apartments and cottages and homes to hide Jews. And so Lucien's double life begins.
This isn't a bad book--I kept reading it, after all, and it is a fascinating premise. The plot has all the necessary elements, and the story moves along at a good clip. The prose, however, leaves a lot to be desired. It's clunky and uses cliches like "piercing blue eyes". The author also commits the cardinal sin of using the term "bemused expression" to mean slightly amused. THAT'S NOT WHAT BEMUSED MEANS! (phew, thanks for letting me get that off my chest).
Lucien is a pretty unlikable guy and I'm not sure he changes enough to really make the reader care. He adopts a Jewish orphan halfway through the book and suddenly it's like that's enough to redeem all of the other unlikeable qualities. The love stories are also sort of pedestrian and stereotypical--the shrewish, skinny wife gets overlooked for the buxom Paris women. Shocker.
The author also does a lot of telling rather than showing. There is an odd scene with Lucien and the resistance where Lucien apparently grows a conscience for working with the Germans, but again the prose is so clunky that the reader almost misses that this is a pivotal moment in Lucien's development.
By far the most interesting character is the German solider Herzog, who works with Lucien. We hear nothing of his inner monologue, and yet he does the most interesting and out of character things. If the author wrote every character the way he wrote the enigmatic Herzog, this book could have been awesome. As it is, it's a pretty goodish novel.
This book is really a 2 and a half star book, but it was fun and despite its weaknesses, I did genuinely enjoy it.
A story with parallel plot lines ofThis book is really a 2 and a half star book, but it was fun and despite its weaknesses, I did genuinely enjoy it.
A story with parallel plot lines of a condemned witch in Salem in 1692 and a modern day student researching said witch as a way of furthering her academic career, there are lots of things to like about the book. The historical fiction back story of the witch, Deliverance Dane, is more interesting than the arc of Connie, the grad student in question, but I enjoyed the rich descriptions of modern Salem and the surrounding Boston area.
This isn't a moving or earth shattering book, and I'm tempted to take off a star because of misuse of the word "bemused"-- TWICE!! But sometimes it's nice to just read a fun book that tells an old story in sort of a new way. ...more
Marilynn Robinson delivers, once again, the kind of book you want to just sink into and think about for a long time. This sequel is another quiet bookMarilynn Robinson delivers, once again, the kind of book you want to just sink into and think about for a long time. This sequel is another quiet book, a look inside one character's mind, with the kind of prose that most people only dream of mastering. I've read other reviews that give this one star because of the stream of conscious nature of the book, so I can understand if that style isn't for everybody. But oh, it is lovely. So, so lovely....more