I was slow to warm up to the book, then felt myself slowly drawn in. I found Murakami’s writing as delightful and full of imagery as usual, with eachI was slow to warm up to the book, then felt myself slowly drawn in. I found Murakami’s writing as delightful and full of imagery as usual, with each word carefully chosen. However, it seemed that toward the middle of the book I sensed a changed in flow and felt a disruption in the pattern, especially when the Kano sisters entered the scene. Were they necessary? I still wonder. And what of the endless deviations to tell the stories of Cinnamon, and the old military officer, Lieutenant Mamiya. Maybe they were needed, but I felt that at times they detracted from the story. Despite the occasional confusions, there was a desire to see the book to the end for various reasons.
We had a young man who had quit his job, lost his wife and lived in an empty house that backed onto an alley with no entrance or exit. In his quest to find his wife he met strange characters, mostly women one of whom was a quirky teenager who gave him the nickname “Mr. Wind-Up Bird.” The teenager, May Kasahara was started out as a confused, bewildered and somewhat insulting person. But during the course the book, she was revealed to have an inner self that was hidden, confused and while still suffering emotionally from past wounds she was able to express sentiments and observations toward Mr. Wind-Up Bird (Okada) that were much wiser for her years. There was a deep longing to see whether they would ever see each other again (if for no other reason so he could witness her growth) as a separate desire to see out the other plot in the book, finding his wife and casting the block aside, her very powerful and connected brother....more
Having recently completed Chang’s Three Swans, I had just started what I hoped to be some lighter reading for my UK trip. I picked up “The Good WomenHaving recently completed Chang’s Three Swans, I had just started what I hoped to be some lighter reading for my UK trip. I picked up “The Good Women of China” while visiting my cousin in Scotland after taking a detour from England for a few days. After just a few pages I was hooked. Despite my rapid progress though the book, it was clear I wasn’t going to finish it before my return to England and final trip to the US. My cousin was kind enough to let me take the book so that I could complete it, which I am happy so say I did. What a stunning and heart-wrenching read it was too.
Xinran presented an evening radio program in China called Words on the Night Breeze where she invited women to call in and share their stories. She also reaches out by going into various communities, sometimes in the far reaches and poorest parts of China to observe and talk to women. Xinran provides a window into the lives of many women who have suffered in silence, closed off not only from the Western world, but also from much of their own people too. Xinran is able to gain the trust of many who have been abused both emotionally and physically. Arguably, some of these women gain some measure of peace by telling their story for they have been unable to share their horror with another before. Was an easy 5 star for me on many levels. ...more
Where does one begin? We had a pretentious main character, an odd little girl, and a meandering senseless stream of thoughts that I could have done wiWhere does one begin? We had a pretentious main character, an odd little girl, and a meandering senseless stream of thoughts that I could have done without reading.
The concierge Renee and the young girl, Paloma) came across as hypocritical snobs. Understandable in someone so young and confused as Paloma, but a stretch to have us believe in a 53 year old concierge who is suppose to be so educated, adjusted, and worldly. The main character Renee, a concierge for a luxurious Parisian apartment complex, is a self-taught expert in philosophy, art, and foreign films, yet she pretends to be stupid in front of the tenants. She avoids social interactions that would expose her intelligence and goes to great lengths to fool others, even having two televisions; one in front and one in back for her private viewing.
There is an attempt at a plot, but it really doesn’t work for me. The characters are not believable and spend too much time criticizing themselves, life or each other. There were times when I felt the young girl and the concierge were one and the same. Too many cliches, too much fascination with Japanese culture, although some appreciation with their customs. In short, The Elegance of The Hedgehog was far from Elegant....more
The focus of the book is around Bình, a gay Vietnamese cook in 1930s Paris who is employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. As the story unfoldsThe focus of the book is around Bình, a gay Vietnamese cook in 1930s Paris who is employed by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. As the story unfolds we are taken back to his youth in Saigon, his journey to Saigon, his journey to Paris. Life with his famous mesdames, and finding his place in the world. The book really spends a lot of time looking at class, servant vs master). It also explores race, gender, sexuality, and other issues of the day.
While this book was not my choice, being a recommendation of another, I did have some semblance of expectations given the setting and time (Paris in the 1930s and colonial Vietnam). The characters (Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas) seemed also justify a read. However, The Book of Salt - left me very unsatisfied. I really couldn’t warm up to Binh. Quite honestly, I felt Truong’s writing style was very choppy, at times irritating failed to hit the mark when describing characteristics of Asians.
Less of a novel or narrative, more like a collection of stories told orally and not always in sequence. One moment we are in 1936 Paris, the next 1920 Vietnam, and suddenly another paragraph we find ourselves transported to San Francisco circa 1900 and going from first person to the third-person.
There were numerous failures and example can be found on page 22. “But once they are formed, ours become the thick, thorny coat of a durian, a covering designed to forestall the odour of rot and decay inside.” Did Troung misunderstand that to South-east Asians, durians are called the king of fruit and that odor is highly prized and, you can still smell that odor even with the thick thorny coat on; as such the term forestall is misused.
The Great War was raging, Wells was writing, not a science fiction book, but a book somewhat influenced of the events of the events of the time. WorthThe Great War was raging, Wells was writing, not a science fiction book, but a book somewhat influenced of the events of the events of the time. Worth noting is the period when the book was written, 1916. The reader will note views and comments that are in stark contrast to those that would be shared in print by modern authors today, yet when taken into context they are reasonably acceptable.
It is clear that World War I, the many players both domestic and foreign played heavily on Wells’ mind as he seeks to find answers both present and post conflict. Wells appears to be well intentioned and genuine and even when he points out flaws in others he shows no malice to people or organizations. He spent a good deal of time musing over the sad affair with the choice of Russian lesson books in England and the poor methods of teaching Russian spelling. Wells proposed that should an investment be made in higher quality books and a different method of teaching, one that focused on the Latin script first, then the British and others would speak more freely with the Russians. Apparently, he valued his Russian skills and was convinced that more effort was needed to put more effort into the dilemma at hand, one that needed a closer relationship with the Russians whom he felt were needed at the time.
Wells also spent a considerable amount of time early in the book on a topic that was typically British and one that I am sure he was a keen observer of given his background, local municipal politics. He described a town, its city boundaries and the reluctance of local officials to give up ground to its neighbors at the expense of fat salaries, even if it meant streamlining services to the residents. He described a comical situation where services were either duplicated or others were not provided; yet the respective board councils were charging excessive salaries. Once the war was afoot, more problems arose due to routing vehicles or making changes as each side claimed the other had rights over the road, which was split down the middle. Coming from England I remember such petty nonsense, which alas goes on even today.
As for the predictions that Wells attempted to put forth. He was pretty much on the mark, with the exception of Germany’s aspirations. They did not end up as weak and did of course ended up stirring up more up trouble, although the second time from a different root cause....more
When I sat down to read Wild Swans, I had expected a tough read, but not the one I experienced. Wild Swans was among the hardest books to read, yet arWhen I sat down to read Wild Swans, I had expected a tough read, but not the one I experienced. Wild Swans was among the hardest books to read, yet arguably the most rewarding. Yes, it was a challenge, but a necessary one for me. Jung Chang, the author transported me back to through the last century of China, using her story, her mother, and her grandmother. By telling the story through their experiences, we feel their pain, joy and begin to comprehend life in China that no textbook could ever portray. From the end of Imperial China, through Japanese occupation, the Nationalist movement, the Civil War between the Kuomintang and the Communists, Communist takeover, Mao's Great Leap Forward starving tens of millions to death, the Cultural Revolution turning a national identity upon it's head and breaking it's collective spirit in the process, to Mao Zedong's death, this book covers all, in vivid detail. As I said, this was no easy read. In fact, it can be downright depressing, yet I was determined to finish the book and now feel as if I have a better understanding of a culture that underwent the most turbulent of times in its history....more
The story begins with a chase to capture a man (Phillips) who exploits boys and has killed one of them. Monk thinks he has the sufficient evidence toThe story begins with a chase to capture a man (Phillips) who exploits boys and has killed one of them. Monk thinks he has the sufficient evidence to convict him, but with Sir Oliver Rathbone as the defense barrister, he is outwitted in the trial and Phillips is free to ply is evil trade once again. The setting is the dock section of London with ships unloading cargoes from around the world. Perry offered a good depiction of Victorian England, but I found her to be unnecessarily preachy at times. There is really no need to convince the reader that the sexual exploitation of children is wrong or corrupt. Otherwise, some well developed characters, even if some of their issues were not dealt with fully at the end. ...more
This was my first Baldacci book and I thanked my friend for recommending the title to me. I found the characters believable and was quickly drawn intoThis was my first Baldacci book and I thanked my friend for recommending the title to me. I found the characters believable and was quickly drawn into the drama that ensued, only to become more dramatic as the story unfolded. The narrative enabled me to picture myself in another place and time, I could almost feel like I was experiencing the mountain life with it's beauty and rugged life. This is a must read.
Lehrer provides a pretty good hook at the beginning of the book, “I was flying a Boeing 737 into Tokyo Narita International Airport when the left engiLehrer provides a pretty good hook at the beginning of the book, “I was flying a Boeing 737 into Tokyo Narita International Airport when the left engine caught on fire." Yet while I found some of the book to be quite enlightening and to a degree entertaining, I was put off by the level of anecdotes and popular sports stories. That fault aside, Lehrer had me engaged when he wrote about the effects of dopamine and decision-making. I am still glad I read it....more
Almost impossible to put down; I tried to pace myself and compromised at 2 1/2 days. A real page-turner and a truly satisfying read. Nice mix of missiAlmost impossible to put down; I tried to pace myself and compromised at 2 1/2 days. A real page-turner and a truly satisfying read. Nice mix of missing wives, one rich and one poor, for which Marlowe must seek answers for their disappearance. Can he dodge the crooked cops and red herrings to find answers? Chandler had me hooked at the outset with the witty banter of the characters, yet wonderfully descriptive detail of same. Chandler's writing is an art form; he deftly weaves illuminating images of a "neat blond" and the "tall dark lovely" and the dark gray suit she wore with rich detail of each setting. I never lost track track of the plot and at every turn wad taken back in time to a different era of Los Angeles and the neighboring mountains of the 40s....more
This was a slow starter for me. The story and plot didn’t really pick up until the several chapters into the book, which took a good deal of patience.This was a slow starter for me. The story and plot didn’t really pick up until the several chapters into the book, which took a good deal of patience. The story focused around a middle-aged woman, Natalie Daniels in a high-profile TV career. A news director has been hired to get ratings up and drastically cut costs. His target to fix both? Replace seasoned news anchor, Daniels, with the young sexy (and reckless) Kelly Devlin. Will looks prevail over experience? There was a lot more to the story of course, but a shame one had to wait to for the plot (and characters) to develop fully....more
I wasn't sure what to expect and approached this book with an opened mind. Such an important story that needed to be told. While some may be distracteI wasn't sure what to expect and approached this book with an opened mind. Such an important story that needed to be told. While some may be distracted by the frequent mention of Mortenson, I was touched by the underlying message of the hardship of the villagers and desperate need, appreciation and education of the children in the remote areas.”...more