Of course I am giving "The Belly Button that Escaped" 5 stars, because I am the illustrator! I loved bringing Cha-Cha to life through drawing and pain...moreOf course I am giving "The Belly Button that Escaped" 5 stars, because I am the illustrator! I loved bringing Cha-Cha to life through drawing and painting (watercolors). Chuck's story about a little guy with big dreams was inspiring to me, and I hope children will feel the same way. Cha-Cha could not be held back! In the end, boy and belly button reach an equitable agreement and life is better for all concerned.(less)
Well, I've finished reading Ken Follett's "Fall of Giants." It's nearly 1000 pages, but the font and spacing are generous and it went relatively fast....moreWell, I've finished reading Ken Follett's "Fall of Giants." It's nearly 1000 pages, but the font and spacing are generous and it went relatively fast. I think it took me 2 weeks of reading before sleep (about 45 minutes or so) and two hours relaxing on the couch to get through it.
One (major) review I read beforehand wondered where the editor was, because of a few minor things, and I agree, but it was only issues of repetition and only a few instances. In one instance, it appears almost an entire paragraph of description was used early in the book and then again later. Also, in one place a man's wife was hungry, very hungry due to food shortages. She was also pregnant. He admired her "voluptuous" body and I wondered if even a curvaceous woman would look voluptuous if she was nearly starving...
There weren't enough editorial bumps to be a problem (and I'm an editor so notice these things perhaps more than others) but it makes me wonder why Mr. Follett's publisher didn't provide for his editor(s) to go through his book slowly. Someone was rushing... (Because that is really the key for editors. No rushing!) Anyway....
This is the first of Follett's many successful books that I've read. I really liked it. (Hence my reading on the couch. That's the sign of a really good book, when I read it during the day rather than after dinner and/or before sleep.)
There are many story lines and characters but there's a handy list of characters and their countries in the front. I never had to refer to it, though, so I'm sure you'll have no problem keeping it straight.
I have a particular interest in World War I, begun when (as an indie publisher) I published (and illustrated) British novelist Chris Davey's WWI aviation books about Will Turner. (Check out "The Aviator's Apprentice," "Turner's Flight," and "Turner's Defense.") It's been a few years since I worked on Mr. Davey's books, and I appreciated the chance to learn more about WWI and the battles and the politics behind the various countries' strategies. It was sobering. Sobering to see how so many died, how so many lives depended on the decisions of a few. (The British lost 100,000 men in one battle. A year later, the German's took that advance back.)
I was interested in the inclusion of the Russian storyline and the appearance of Trotsky, especially as my husband, Mark Van Aken Williams, wrote "The Prophet of Sorrow" (a fictional memoir, of sorts, by Trotsky's murderer).
Reading "Fall of Giants" now, with the current world climate, was sobering. What have we learned? I wondered.
"Fall of Giants" is historical fiction, but for me personally, it falls short in character development. I guess there is just not room for it, the book would have to be so much longer and it is definitely long enough. Still, I tend to be drawn to stories that give more insight into the characters' inner lives and at times I thought the characters were stereotypical. The dangerous Russian "godfather" type; the plucky gal in service who gets pregnant; two brothers -- one responsible, one selfish. Social climbing mothers and snobby upper class British men who think they know best. I'm sure they did and do exist, but I like a writer who takes me beyond that. But, in this book, the formula worked and I was hooked, yet I'm glad I also like to read books by writers whose characters are more nuanced.
If you love to read and liked watching Downton Abbey, I bet you would like this book. And, you'll get the perspective of Russian peasants and a German spy who loves a British suffragette socialite. I suppose "Fall of Giants" will be made into a movie or miniseries. I'd watch it!
I'm going to buy book 2 and, when available, book 3 in Follett's series. And read a few of his other books too. I will intersperse these captivating tales with books by other favorite writers, especially those more character driven than plot driven.
I loved this book. It was a great summer read, but not light, not frivolous. It's the story of four women who meet once a week in a playground, and fo...moreI loved this book. It was a great summer read, but not light, not frivolous. It's the story of four women who meet once a week in a playground, and follows their friendship. They take up writing and critique each other's work. They share the ups and downs of motherhood and marriage and life as a woman in the 1970s. I really liked this book and looked forward every night to reading it.(less)
I enjoy reading books that feature, in some way, other cultures and countries than my own. This was a very good book. (Also, as a designer, I loved th...moreI enjoy reading books that feature, in some way, other cultures and countries than my own. This was a very good book. (Also, as a designer, I loved the cover.) Because of the beautiful cover, I almost kept it, but then decided to share it with my mother who is 92. Mom has been a prolific reader throughout her life. She declared that it was one of the best books she's ever read. Sendker should consider that high praise!(less)
I just finished "What the Zhang Boys Know" last night and loved it. I purchased the ebook version and read it in about four evenings before bedtime. I...moreI just finished "What the Zhang Boys Know" last night and loved it. I purchased the ebook version and read it in about four evenings before bedtime. I love the set-up of the book, which concerns the residents of a condo building. I like the way each chapter relates to the others, but is a short story, of sorts, in itself. I've always liked this format in fiction.
Some of the characters are Chinese or Chinese-American, and Chinese culture has always interested me in fiction. When I read the author's bio at the end of the book, I suspected what knowledge and expertise from his various experiences likely contributed to his being able to create such believable, sympathetic characters.
Clifford Garstang is an excellent storyteller and writer. As an editor, I was able to put aside my editor's hat, my writer's hat, and just enjoy the story because it was expertly crafted. The writing was so good, nothing tripped me up or irritated me (I tend to have a short attention span for sloppy writing). I cared about these characters and wanted to know what was going to happen to them. Each night I looked forward to finding out more.
Many years ago, I enjoyed "Tales of the City" by Armistead Maupin. "What the Zhang Boys Know" also left me wishing/hoping that there would be a book 2 (or a TV series) featuring these characters, in their East Coast city, sharing lives in their condo that seems to be on the edge of respectability.
At the end of one of my favorite movies "Frankie and Johnny" with Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer, Pfeifer's character looks into the windows of apartments (first shown at the beginning of the movie), and we see how each apartment dweller ends their day. I just love that scene. "What the Zhang Boys Know" had that same feel for me.
I recommend this book to all my friends who like contemporary fiction with characters from diverse backgrounds, thrown together by circumstance or coincidence. Clifford Garstang, please write a sequel!
I read this book a few years ago and just reread it for the second time. (The copyright is 1985). It's a wonderful book, because, of course, Tyler's w...moreI read this book a few years ago and just reread it for the second time. (The copyright is 1985). It's a wonderful book, because, of course, Tyler's writing is so seamless, every word easing the story along, but also because of the characters in this book. For "The Accidental Tourist" is about love and about living one's life, and about families; but what stands out to me are the characters and how Tyler brings them to life.
You never really know how the main character, Macon, will make it through the months following a marital separation on the heels of his son's murder, but watching him interact with the quirky, outspoken character of Muriel, as well as his publisher-boss, Julian, and siblings, Rose, Charles, and Porter, is a captivating journey. Will he and his wife, Sarah, reconcile? Will he choose Muriel? Will his dog ever behave? These are questions that kept me reading.
Also, setting this story within the concept of The Accidental Tourist, a set of travel guides for businessmen who want to feel as if they are still at home, is, from a writer's craft point-of-view, a wonderful tool that totally works and adds a layer to this book that, well, could not be separated from the story. It is perfect.
Since Anne Tyler is such a well-regarded, well-known writer, I'm sure there are many reviews out there for this book. But I wanted to say why I like it so much and recommend it to my friends. I'm sure I will read it for a third time in a few years. (less)
I just finished reading "The Shoemaker's Wife" and loved it. It's a great story, the characters, plot, scenes, dialogue...all well written and a pleas...moreI just finished reading "The Shoemaker's Wife" and loved it. It's a great story, the characters, plot, scenes, dialogue...all well written and a pleasure to read. (less)