I really enjoyed Lahiri’s novel The Namesake, so I was looking forward to this book. While it didn’t exactly disappoint me, it didn’t wow me either.
ThI really enjoyed Lahiri’s novel The Namesake, so I was looking forward to this book. While it didn’t exactly disappoint me, it didn’t wow me either.
This is a collection of short stories, 5 that stand alone, and 3 that are interconnected, forming what I would call a novella. The themes in the stories are all the same; Bengali parents move to America for a better life. Their children are either born here or come when they are very young. The parents never become assimilated and the children are more American than Indian. The parents often seem bewildered by their children’s behavior.
Lahiri’s writing is beautiful and she is really good at family dynamics. The problem for me is except for the stories of Hema and Kaushik, in the last third of the book, the characters were interchangeable. None of them stood out to me as different from any other in the book; all Bengali’s, all fairly successful, all raising children who go to Ivy League schools. After a while they began to blend together in my mind.
The saving grace is the story of Hema and Kaushik, who although similar to all the others’ their story was long enough for me to get a sense of them as people. I could not put the book down once I got into this section; it had the most depth and emotion from the start. And the ending took my breath away, even though I had an inkling of what was going to happen.
I have come to the conclusion that I don’t really enjoy this short form of writing. It seems that once I begin to get interested in the characters and what could happen the story is over and I am left wanting more. There doesn’t seem to be enough time to tell a full story and that isn’t the writers fault it is my problem.
Were it not for the final story in the book this probably would be a three star book, but Hema and Kaushik’s story bumped it up to four. ...more
Graham Nash was a singer songwriter for two of my favorite bands The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young. In this autobiography hGraham Nash was a singer songwriter for two of my favorite bands The Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young. In this autobiography he tells the story of his life from the poverty of growing up in in a working class neighborhood in England to the heights of fame as well as sex, drugs and rock & roll during his hey day with CSN&Y.
I really enjoyed this story of the birth of The British Invasion of the 60’s. Nash shares great stories of the first time he ever heard a record and how much The Everly Brothers influenced his singing and song writing. Lots of tales about the exploding scene in England with The Beatles, Stones, and all the other myriad “Boy Bands” of the 60’s. Then he moves on to the incredible success of Crosby, Stills, Nash and also Young. Everything is there, the love affair with Joni Mitchell, the massive amounts of drugs, sex, and most of all the music. He shares many anecdotes about some of the biggest names in rock and roll at that time. He also goes into a great deal of detail about the dynamics of working with Stephen Stills and Neil Young, both incredibly strong willed men and his enduring friendship with David Crosby. He also talks a lot about the group’s political activism and the many, many philanthropic concerts he was involved in. He does not spare anyone, not even himself. Eventually he changes his lifestyle and got deeply into photography and sculpture and formed a very successful fine art printing company. But throughout the book the most important thing was his life long friendship with David Crosby and the music, always the music.
I had the enhanced Kindle book and it was great. There were many times he would talk about his songs and you could listen to them; that was a real bonus. He also included many photographs that he took over the years; it was fun remembering those days.
Overall for me this was a very good book. I’m not sure if it would appeal to many people who don’t remember that era or aren’t familiar with the musicians of that time. But if you want to know about the rock and roll scene of the 60’s and 70’s this is a good starting point. ...more
This is a painful review to write, I am a huge fan of Amy Tan, but this book was one long slog of a read.
Set in Shanghai from 1897 through 1937, withThis is a painful review to write, I am a huge fan of Amy Tan, but this book was one long slog of a read.
Set in Shanghai from 1897 through 1937, with some small asides in San Francisco and New York, this is the story of three generations of women who live lives that fluctuate from one extreme to another. Violet is raised in her mother’s First Class Courtesan house, living a life of privilege. When her mother, Lulu decides to move back to her home of San Francisco they are separated which leads Violet to stay in Shanghai and follow much of the same life her mother escaped. The main focus of the book, a good 75% is all about Violet, with her mother’s life and eventually her daughter Flora’s story taking up the rest.
My problems with this book are numerous. It is quite clear that Amy Tan did a great deal of research for this book, in fact in her afterword states that it took eight years to write the book. However, the fact that you have a ton of research doesn’t mean you should put it all in your book. Quite honestly 45 pages describing every nuance of a courtesan’s sexual training is over the top. Every dress, hairdo, piece of jewelry, item of furniture, curtain, book and knick-knack doesn’t need to be expounded on. It seemed where one word would do five were written. Since this is a book about courtesans it is expected that there are sexual encounters. Many of these sexual acts are described, once again, in great detail and it is often extremely graphic and quite brutal.
The book is set in Shanghai during some of the most tumultuous times in Chinese history, yet except for some comments on how these things impacted the houses I felt like the book could have been set anywhere, I really didn’t get a feel for the time period at all. Surely this is the time when all that research should have come into play, but for the most part it doesn’t.
My biggest issue is the three women. If you are going to write a six hundred-page book at least include characters that are somewhat likeable. Lulu and Violet are two of the most self-centered, selfish, vain women ever. Clearly like mother like daughter, although Violet insists she is not like her mother she is virtually a carbon copy. One thing I didn’t understand is that both women are presented as being fairly good at business and yet they make utterly stupid choices over and over again. Violet often makes choices based on the fact that someone advices her against it so she decides to “show them” often with disastrous results. Then there is Flora who is pretty unlikeable in her own right, but there are believable reasons for that.
Last, but not least are the chapters Moon Pond Village and Heaven Mountain. These chapters were filled with so much deprivation, cruelty and depravity and it was difficult to read and I just wanted to be done by then.
I’m not the fastest reader, but it took me over a month to read this book, and I read two others while reading this, mostly because I had no desire to read the book after I put it down each day. I finished only to find out what happens in the end and I was disappointed even then because the one character I really cared about in the book, Magic Gourd, is given short shrift in the end.
So major disappointment for me. I would say the writing itself was solid but I really disliked this book and wouldn’t recommend it. ...more
It's more ike a 3.5 rating, better than average but no where near as good as A Time to Kill, even though it is a sequel. The saving grace for this booIt's more ike a 3.5 rating, better than average but no where near as good as A Time to Kill, even though it is a sequel. The saving grace for this book is the ending, which packs a wallop- although I must say I saw it coming....more
This isn't my full review, that will come later. I have to say the comparisons with Gone Girl are somewhat valid, but it's a very different book - alsThis isn't my full review, that will come later. I have to say the comparisons with Gone Girl are somewhat valid, but it's a very different book - also a psychological thriller with a husband and wife that you don't much care for. I started this book yesterday and read it every chance I got. It's dark, it's got some black humor, and it's a book I can't stop thinking about. So the subject matter may not be for everyone but I enjoyed every twisted moment especially the unexpected ending. ...more
Some thirty years ago I read a book that was one of the scariest I had ever read and it was the book that made me love Stephen King. The book was TheSome thirty years ago I read a book that was one of the scariest I had ever read and it was the book that made me love Stephen King. The book was The Shining and now King has returned to the story of Danny Torrence and what has happened to him all these years after the terrifying events at The Overlook Hotel.
Time has not been kind to Dan; unsurprisingly he is following the family tradition and is an alcoholic with a long history of lost jobs and broken promises. After a particularly bad drunken night Danny gets on a bus and ends up in a small New England town, where he takes one more stab at turning his life around. But Danny’s “shine” isn’t gone and when a young girl reaches out to Danny he becomes involved in her life as a group known as the True Knot tries to find her for their own terrifying reasons.
While a sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep stands on it’s own. There are references to the previous book, but only those who have read the book would recognize them, you do not need to read The Shining to enjoy Doctor Sleep.
I was really looking forward to this book and I wasn’t disappointed. The horror level isn’t quite as high as in The Shining but it is still very creepy. As usual it is King’s characters that make the story so engrossing. You come to care about all of the characters and even the evil ones evoke a little bit of understanding if not exactly compassion. The book also explores a lot of real life issues including aging, death and trying to maintain sobriety. They re all handled with honesty and often with humor. There was also quite an interesting twist at the end that I didn’t see coming.
I also enjoyed the tip of the hat to King’s son Joe Hill. It’s a mention of a character from NOS4A2 and I thought it was sweet that he honored him that way.
Overall a very good suspense/horror novel that I enjoyed very much, but I am a huge King fan and it’s rare that I don’t enjoy his writing. ...more
The Bone Season is the start of a new series with a lot of hype surrounding it. There are a lot of comparisons to Harry Potter, but aside from the facThe Bone Season is the start of a new series with a lot of hype surrounding it. There are a lot of comparisons to Harry Potter, but aside from the fact that there is a projected seven books in the series, I didn’t see a lot of similarities. There is also a question as to whether or not this is a YA book, it isn’t being marketed as such but I would call it YA. That said this is a very dark, very violent book from the get go so you may want to check it out before letting your child read it. I would equate the book more to The Hunger Games than HP.
The Bone Season is extremely complex and frankly I am not sure I understand all there is to know about this world. The setting is an alternate history of earth, where clairvoyance is common, but these “voyants” are considered deviant and are hunted and placed in a penal colony in Oxford, England. The voyants are placed in the care of the Rephaim, who are either supernatural or aliens – to be honest I never understood which. Paige Mahoney is a voyant who is captured and imprisoned and placed in the care of a Rephaite called Warden. While in this prison Paige becomes aware that all is not as it seems and makes it her goal to escape and get back to her friends and pseudo family, a syndicate known as the Seven Seals.
There is a lot of information to take in as the world-building takes place. Sometimes there was so much info that I found myself having to reread passages, sometimes several times over. There is also a lot of jargon, unfortunately I had no idea there was a handy glossary at the end of the book, it would have been better if this was in the front with the description of the various levels of clairvoyance; I had a friend who had a print copy of the book, I had the Kindle version. I was able to photocopy that chart of voyants and that was helpful because I referred to it a lot. It took me several weeks to read this book because there was just so much to take in.
This book was very slow moving for well over half the book, there really wasn’t a tremendous amount of action until the latter portion of the book, which was so fast paced it was like a whirlwind. There were a lot of characters and they were hard to remember, so with the exception of the handful of main characters I found myself having to go back to remember who was who. In addition this book is very violent, often brutal, some of those scenes were a little hard to read.
Despite theses issues I will most likely continue with the series as long not years until the next book because I’m not sure I can remember all the salient points. The author is quite young, only 22, and she was working on this book for two years. I am sure that as she and her writing matures that this can become a very compelling series. And since it ended with a lot of loose ends I will need to find out what will come next.