Nobody writes like Diana Gabaldon. Complex, explosive characters. Bemusement. Social graces. Gory realism. Painstaking re...moreLove This Long-Winded Series!
Nobody writes like Diana Gabaldon. Complex, explosive characters. Bemusement. Social graces. Gory realism. Painstaking research (and detail). Breadth of topic. Gorgeous metaphors. Wry humor.
I believe I've read every book in this series, including the Lord John spinoffs (excluding The Outlandish Companion), and I often feel the same way upon finishing: deep love for Jamie, and slight frustration with the author's choices.
*SPOILERS for earlier books in the series ahead*
This story, the 8th in the series, flips back from 1778 Philadelphia to 1980 Scotland and 1738 Scotland. I found myself enthralled with 1778 Philly because of Jamie time. But then the story fast forwards to Brianna and Roger, and while I like those characters, I felt dissatisfied that Jamie's storyline hadn't progressed more before departing. I did get a charge from reading about one character in 1738 due to the character's relation to Jamie, but this character was underutilized, in my opinion. I didn't care much for Buck, who got a lot of page time. Jemmy is adorable and I wished he got more time, too.
She'd had to tell the kids where Roger was, as gently and briefly as possible. Mandy had put a thumb in her mouth and stared gravely at her, round-eyed. Jem ... Jem hadn't said anything but had gone white under his freckles and looked as though he was about to throw up. He was hunched in a corner of the backseat now, face turned to the window.
In 1778, another character that I can't get enough of is William, because he's Jamie's son. I have no idea what the lad will do next! I was craving some Jamie-William interaction and didn't get it until late into the the novel, but when it occurs, it's touching indeed.
William shows his true character when he tries to save Jane and Fanny, and I teared up when Lord John shows kindness to Fanny as well.
There are some humorous moments, like:
My chief concern was to get some food into Jamie before he met with General Lee. I didn't know what it was about red hair, but many years' experience with Jamie, Brianna, and Jemmy had taught me that while most people became irritable when hungry, a redheaded person with an empty stomach was a walking time bomb.
"Aye, well." Jamie stood still, considering. "The only useful thing was what my wife told me on the night. 'Go slowly and pay attention.' I think ye canna go far wrong wi' that." As Jamie reached the edge of the clearing, Ian called after him. "Uncle Jamie!" "Aye?" "And was she gentle with ye?" "God, no," Jamie said, and grinned broadly.
Jamie does something at the end of the novel that some might find barbaric but most will end up still loving him (I do.)
So while I loved the interaction of quite a few characters, I craved more of a spotlight on my favorites. But mostly I admire Gabaldon's talent and tenacity for penning this amazing series.(less)
If you've read or seen Election and Little Children, you know what off-kilter characters Tom Perotta creat...moreTwisted Tales of Disillusionment and Divorce
If you've read or seen Election and Little Children, you know what off-kilter characters Tom Perotta creates. And we get to meet a lot of these divorcees, criminals, adulterers, dirty cops, and teenagers with grudges in this collection of short stories. What amazes me is how likable Perotta makes these despicable characters. It's like life has given these sad sacks a tough road, so of course they choose to muck it up even further.
Though the author seems to return often to stories about teachers and students, there is a good amount of variety in points of view. We start with a recent high school graduate who shocked everyone when he didn't get into college, like all of his honor student peers, and now works as a pizza delivery man. He has to fend off a local policeman who likes to pull him over and make sexual advances. Though he shows panache in handling the cop, he shoots himself in the foot in a major area of his life.
Next is a teacher who feels hurt by a negative comment on grademyteacher.com. She confronts the student who wrote it and surprisingly they bond, almost becoming bffs. The teacher has an urge to do something unethical, and like most of Perotta's characters, she goes for it.
One of the most depressing stories is about a teenage boy who suffers the aftermath of a football concussion. The story accurately shows how a life can fall apart from Post-Concussion syndrome. We can only hope for a happy ending for the boy, but for Perotta's characters, happy endings often don't exist.
However, sometimes he lets his characters get revenge, like in the story of a smart high school boy who gets paid to take the SAT for other students. Don't mess with him!
Overall, I admire the writing but not the bleak view of humanity shown in these stories. (less)
This New Adult romance will be released 8-1-14, and the psychological aspects of the story enticed me to read an adva...moreLove Blooms in Wilderness Program
This New Adult romance will be released 8-1-14, and the psychological aspects of the story enticed me to read an advanced copy.
Kelsie is a 17-year-old cheerleader who’s a hot mess. Her best friend died in a car accident, and Kelsie unfairly blames herself. To numb her emotional pain, she starts self-injuring. While cutting oneself is horrifying, I didn’t fully appreciate the horror until I was right there with Kelsie, feeling her pain and her disgust from taking it out on her body.
To try to curb her harmful behavior, Kelsie’s father sends her to a wilderness therapy program. She is ill-prepared and ticked off, with her huge suitcase and even bigger attitude. But the counselor Chris knows just how to handle her, and Kelsie settles down enough to get through the first day, eventually growing closer to the other teens in the program.
JC is the young man who captures her attention the most. He’s athletic, light-hearted, and also blames himself for a loved one dying.
Keslie tells her story to the woman hired to keep her safe—Marta—after she finishes the program. Therefore, the novel consists of flashbacks, which might not have been the best choice for the pacing of the plot. I thought the story took a while to get going. Also, the nicknames Kelsie bestows on each program participant seemed to interfere with clarity and my connection to the characters.
But once the plot kicks into gear, I was riveted. Another boy in the program has it out for JC, and a brewing storm threatens the safety of the group. That’s when Kelsie is forced to grow up fast, discovering that people may not be what they seem.
I dislike when parents are portrayed as incompetent twits in YA and NA stories. Though Kelsie's stepmother is a shrew, I'm glad her father works hard at redeeming himself.
Kelsie’s interactions with JC provide much-needed lightness given the darkness they’ve experienced. The characters seem to be their age, which I appreciate.
I grab a handful of shirts and organize them by type, short-sleeved or long-sleeved, and color. After a few minutes, JC stands behind me and places his hand around my waist. “You really are OCD.” “Is that a problem for you?” “Yes, that is the final straw. I can handle everything else, but putting my shirts in rainbow order is too much.”
I loved the ending, which left me with a relieved, buoyant feeling. This is a wonderful debut novel! (less)
Thank you to Vishal for recommending this YA dystopian novel. It was unique, exciting, and touching. Unfortunately, I...moreGreat Story, Disappointing Ending
Thank you to Vishal for recommending this YA dystopian novel. It was unique, exciting, and touching. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy the dystopian world-building due to one event in the world, And, the ending was so dismal that it left me with a bad taste in my mouth, without a desire to continue the series.
Todd is a 15ish boy living in a society decimated by war. During the fight, the aliens released a virus that makes all the males’ thoughts audible (aka NOISE). Can you imagine if every thought you ever had was broadcast all around you? Not to mention, the thoughts of the men in Prentisstown are ugly, mean, and LOUD.
The virus killed all the females (or so Todd thinks). When Todd encounters a space of quietness in the swamp—a human he can’t hear—his life or death adventure begins. Prentisstown men inexplicably want him dead.
The quiet is almost scarier than if there was Noise everywhere.
Todd is such a lovable character. He is clearly a good boy who the author tortures beyond belief, and I cried when he nears death several times. He feels confused by his caretakers who send him away from the town.
Why’d you do it, Ben? What did I do that was so bad?
Todd hasn’t had much schooling and I loved his spelling of words like explanashun.
One of my favorite characters is Manchee the dog, whose thoughts we can hear, like “Ouch, Todd” when his owner smacks him or “Poo, Todd” when it’s that time of the day.
When we find out what really happened in Prentisstown, it’s an intriguing history. But the lore of this dystopian world falls flat for me due to Todd committing a horrible act that seems to negate his ability to escape the town legacy. If you’ve read this book, what do you think of that part of the story? To me, a Spackle is just as worthy as a human. That’s fine if the author wants to show universal fallibility, but it doesn’t fit with Todd being the only Prentisstown man worth saving.
”I think maybe everybody falls,” I say. “And I don’t think that’s the asking.” I pull on her arms gently to make sure she’s listening.” “I think the asking is whether we get back up again.”
The main relationship is sweet, and I grew to love both characters. After their long, torturous journey, I was looking for a hint of hope. A slice of happiness. The author refuses to give either, which angered me.(less)
My dad, the consummate sports fan, wanted me to read this because the writers investigate football programs at...moreThe Seedy Underbelly of College Football
My dad, the consummate sports fan, wanted me to read this because the writers investigate football programs at schools where I've attended or worked. I didn't read the entire book but focused on those schools only. I'd had a suspicion there was corruption in college football, and some of these reports confirmed it. But the sportswriters also revealed honest coaches, administrators, and athletes striving to do their best.
I liked the different perspectives presented, and it was interesting that I found myself believing the words of a maligned booster more than the coach or athletic director at one school. I was horrified by a sexual assault case involving a football player and a tutor.
I particularly enjoyed the insight into rehabbing an underperforming program at Washington State University. First, the athletic director left Oregon for farming before heading to WSU:
In Moos's final press conference at Eugene, a reporter asked him why on earth he'd walk away from one of the premier programs in college athletics to work with cows. Moos famously said, "I guess I'm at a point in my life where I'd rather step in it than put up with it."
Then Moos goes after a top coach, Mike Leach, who like most football coaches has a potty mouth, but unlike most coaches, is rather innovative:
NCAA rules prohibit official workouts for football players during the eight-week period from January 1 through the start of spring practice in late February. Every BCS program gets around this rule by holding what are called "voluntary" workouts. What made Leach's approach unusual was the timing of these so-called voluntary sessions -- late at night (from ten to midnight). "Everywhere I've ever coached, no one does this. People do conditioning at six in the morning. Leach's philosophy is that no one is ever in the fourth quarter of a game at six in the morning. The fourth quarter happens late at night."
Exactly! I love that forward thinking. But I don't love the blatant disregard for "voluntary" workouts. No coach in Division I athletics understands the true meaning of that word, and their bulldozing over student-athletes' free time can be abusive.
"These workouts are voluntary," Leach said. "But here's the thing. The starting lineup is voluntary, too. If you think you are going to dick off and do some half-ass bullshit, the starting lineup is voluntary, too."
This book truly gives an insider perspective to the fascinating world of college football.(less)
Since Shawshank Redemption and the time I met hero Michael Scofield from the TV show Prison Break, I've been fascinated by prison stor...moreHot for Prisoner
Since Shawshank Redemption and the time I met hero Michael Scofield from the TV show Prison Break, I've been fascinated by prison stories. While this novel captured some of the thrill of a forbidden prison romance, Eric Collier is no Michael Scofield.
Annie Goodhouse is a woman in her mid-twenties who recently moved from her hometown of Charleston to a town near Detroit. There are two reasons for her move: 1) a new job as a librarian in Michigan and 2) an ex-boyfriend who abused her in South Carolina.
I'd needed a change of scenery. A place with snowy winters, where the men spoke in honest, sharp-edged Northern accents, incapable of glazing their empty promises in sweet Southern honey.
One day a week, librarian Annie teaches and mentors at a local prison. There she meets tall, handsome, and quiet inmate Eric. When she helps him with his learning disability, he practices how to write better by penning her the most beautiful love letters, like:
I like to watch your mouth when you read from that book. I can't tell you what the story's even about but I've got your lips memorized. I shut my eyes sometimes and just listen to how you talk. I've never been with a southern girl but it's like every word you say comes out rolled in sugar. I think about kissing you. Real deep and slow with our eyes closed. Maybe feel your hands on my chest or my back. As I hold your face or your hair. As I got to see if you taste like sugar to match how you sound.
Isn't that so sweet and sexy?
This book had a fantastic beginning. I felt Annie's fear and excitement about helping the inmates, and I swooned over Eric's letters. But the rest of the story didn't enthrall me as much. The author did a great job with the authentic characterization of Eric, a simple man from an impoverished, dysfunctional background, but I just didn't find him very appealing. Perhaps I need a more intellectual hero to turn me on. The sex scenes seemed almost crude at points. This is all a very personal reaction to one character, and some readers may fall for Eric head over handcuffs.
I definitely did enjoy the growth of both Annie and Eric over the course of the story. And the writing was excellent, like this passage:
His hand closed around mine, strong and possessive. The hand that'd done unspeakable things in the name of brotherly love. A hand capable of the tenderest acts of intimacy and affection. The hand that had penned the most breathtaking letters, for my eyes alone.(less)
Teenager Nev is a former gymnast whose life has undergone startling transitions. She gets uprooted to live with her aunt and cou...moreTruth and Consequences
Teenager Nev is a former gymnast whose life has undergone startling transitions. She gets uprooted to live with her aunt and cousin in northern California when her father dies and her mother succumbs to a debilitating illness. Not only is she disoriented in this new place, but she's also overwhelmed by guilt. Just what secrets hide behind that guilt?
Nev's cousin Livvie is on a competitive cheer team, X Factor, and Nev's tumbling expertise makes her a shoo-in for the team. At first Nev balks at joining the Diamond Girls squad because tumbling in a gym sparks painful memories of her mother. But by flying through the air again, she slowly finds her footing, and her recovery is a beautiful thing.
It's cool to catch a glimpse into the world of competitive cheer -- a world the author clearly knows. The cheer coaches are so demanding and vulgar that I thought they were football coaches:
"Flyers! Pretend you've got a dollar bill stuck between your butt cheeks, and squeeze it 'til it screams!"
"I don't care if you rip your pee pees, I want those toe touches up past your ears!"
Ew. LOL. Luckily the coaches have a soft side, and Nev forms some close friendships with her teammates.
Nev's first encounter with a boy is charming playah Eli. Although Eli is supposedly dating Nev's new friend Erin, Eli hits on Nev non-stop. Nev doesn't want to hurt Erin's feelings by telling her, but is also uncomfortable keeping his skeezeball behavior quiet.
Another boy, Bodie, is cold and rude to her. Too bad she tingles with good feels every time he's around. But Bodie also has a checkered past, and maybe he is more attracted to her than he seems. I love how they share pieces of themselves, gradually unfurling their truths as they both face the consequences of their actions. They both feel damaged beyond repair.
For a minute, I was just a regular girl, he was just a regular boy, and we were both enjoying the moment.
Nev has a biting sense of humor:
I was pretty darn sure he had a thing for my hair, and there was a good part of me that wanted to pull a Marcia Brady and never wash the stuff again because he'd touched it.
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Nev's attempt to heal, supported by Bodie, also packs an emotional punch, and I found myself tearing up in parts.
The story has a solid message about the dangers of drunk driving. My one complaint was Bodie's term of endearment for Nev: Doll Face. It got a little repetitive for me.
Ex-Factor is book one in the Diamond Girl series, and thankfully it's a short wait for the release of book two: Unbreakable. Roundoff-back handspring-double full!(less)
Sometimes Never was such a gem, so I was thrilled to hear Cheryl McIntyre had written a follow-up novella about t...moreSo Glad to See These Characters Again
Sometimes Never was such a gem, so I was thrilled to hear Cheryl McIntyre had written a follow-up novella about two favorite characters Hope and Mason. The author does a wonderful job of accurately portraying psychology and therapy.
Hope and Mason are trying to make their relationship work but Hope's demons and Mason's mother don't make it easy. Hope bravely faces therapy in an effort to stop injuring herself.
Mason is so wise. His mother questions him staying with a girl who cuts herself, and Mason asks her if she would judge him for staying with Hope if she had cancer. "That's different," his mother says, "because nobody asks for cancer." Mason patiently explains that Hope didn't ask to be sexually abused and cutting was the only way she knew how to deal with it. I've used the helpful cancer parallel when trying to help family members understand their loved one's eating disorder or depression or other mental illness.
It's awesome to witness Hope healing from pain, like when she bravely calls Mason's mother:
"I'm in therapy. I go every week. I've only missed one session." "Well that's good, Hope. I'm glad." I close my eyes and take a deep breath. "But it doesn't matter to you. Does it? I'll just always be the crazy girl that stole your son." She laughs dryly and the sound resembles Mason's laugh. My stomach twists. "You can't understand -- you're not a mother. We have a fierce protectiveness for our children." "Not all moms," I say quietly. I feel the tears sting my eyes and I blink them away.
Gah! Poor Hope.
Hope's bff Guy continues to steal the show with his hilarious one-liners like:
"If I wasn't gayer than a Christmas sweater, I'd steal you away from this joker in a heartbeat."
This novella fills in the blanks between the end of Sometimes Never and its epilogue in a sweet and satisfying way.(less)
The Development of a Criminal...The Development of a Good Man?
What a fascinating psychological study! This epic story begins when Theo Decker is 13 ye...moreThe Development of a Criminal...The Development of a Good Man?
What a fascinating psychological study! This epic story begins when Theo Decker is 13 years old and ends when he's twice that age. Wow, does the author torture him in this story. What does not kill us, makes us stronger? I'm not so sure that's true in this case. Tragic events weaken Theo and it's unclear if he will ever regain his strength.
Theo lives with his mother in New York City after his alcoholic father abandoned them. His beautiful, fun mother has to take him to a late morning disciplinary meeting at school, so they stop in an art museum on the way. Then a terrorist's bomb explodes. The blast rips Theo's life apart when it kills his mother. In the ensuing surreal melee, a dying man insists Theo take "The Goldfinch": a famous painting.
The painting haunts Theo for the rest of the story just like the story has haunted me.
The characterization is raw, real, and detailed, and the author made me care deeply for Theo. Every time he suffers a post-traumatic symptom, I wanted to hug him. Every time he veers into drug use, I wanted to smack his neglectful father. Here's a vivid description of Las Vegas Dad, who has shifted from abusing booze to pills:
From his genial cursing, his infrequent shaving, the relaxed way he talked around the cigarette in the corner of his mouth, it was almost as if he were playing a character: some cool guy from a fifties noir or maybe Ocean's Eleven, a lazy, sated gangster with not much to lose.
Thank goodness for quality mentors like furniture-restorer Hobie, who is connected to the dying man from the museum.
Theo's Ukranian friend Boris is simultaneously endearing and infuriating. Boris is the saving grace to a lonely boy, and the loving shove to a boy perched on the precipice of a deviant, criminal life. I freaking love how Boris nicknames Popper the dog "Popchik".
The writing is exquisite. I dog-eared so many pages with impressive passages, like these:
Tormented by what was happening, yet unable to stop it, I hovered around and watched the apartment vanishing piece by piece, like a bee watching its hive being destroyed.
When I got off the phone, I felt sick -- like someone had just reached a hand in my chest and wrenched loose a lot of ugly wet stuff around my heart.
Spring in New York was always a poisoned time for me, a seasonal echo of my mother's death blowing in with the daffodils, budding trees and blood splashes, a thin spray of hallucination and horror. (What a vivid description of PTSD)
My moods were a slingshot; after being locked-down and anesthetized for years my heart was zinging and slamming itself around like a bee under a glass, everything bright, sharp, confusing, wrong -- but it was clear pain as opposed to the dull misery that had plagued me for years under the drugs like a rotten tooth, the sick dirty ache of something spoiled.
Speaking of pain, Theo pines for a girl who also survived the museum bomb: Pippa. But she doesn't seem to requite his love.
"Well, girls always love assholes," said Platt, not bothering to dispute this. No, I thought bleakly, untrue. Else why didn't Pippa love me?
Aww, Theo. You are quite lovable!
One of the reasons I became so involved in the characters is the impressive length of the book: 770 pages. Unlike some readers, I didn't find the story unfocused, though the end did drag just a little. I'm glad I invested the time to read this moving drama.(less)
When I participated in the Mental Health Giveaway Hop, I asked for recommendations of favorite psychological reads. Blog...morePutting the Fun in Dysfunction
When I participated in the Mental Health Giveaway Hop, I asked for recommendations of favorite psychological reads. Blogger VanillaOrchid recommended this series, and I'm so glad she did! I hadn't heard of this author but I plan on gobbling up the series based on my love for this first book. (Bookworm Brandee also recommended Reason to Breathe which I plan to review soon).
While Sometimes Never touches on sad issues like parent abandonment, parent death, sexual abuse, and self-injury, the characters address these issues in such a lighthearted manner that I often found myself cracking up. It's rare that I love both the heroine and the hero as much as I fell for Hope and Mason.
Hope Love (yes, that's really her name) is a high school foster kid who doesn't believe in relationships or love (despite her last name). She's a candy addict who plays drums for a band. She's spunky and irreverent. Here she is typing away in an internet chat room:
ASL flashed on the computer screen. Age, sex, and location. I sat back and thought, Who do I want to be today? I never tell the truth. Seventeen, female, living in a house with seven other kids in Ohio. Like a fucked up, twenty-first century version of The Brady Bunch. Usually when the first question has to do with your age and sex, it's a horny, middle aged man looking to cyber. When I'm in a mood, like I was last night -- sick of the world and all its bullshit -- I like to put on my Fergus persona. Fergus is a fifteen year old boy, recently discovering his gay sexuality.
Mason is an eighteen-year-old who just moved to Hope's town and of course he notices her right away. His dark hair and green eyes sound delicious, but what most attracted me is his personality. He also has a wonderful sense of humor:
Hope Love. What kind of name is that? "I think I'm in love," I say to my mom. And then I laugh because I hear some kind of pun in my statement. I play around with the words in my head. I Hope I can get in Love. I'd Love to have some Hope. "Mason, don't play with me," Mom says, but I hear that little sliver of hope in her voice. Ha, I'd Love a little sliver of Hope. I could do this all day.
Hope and Mason seem to bring out the best in each other. They're both sarcastic individuals who have been through tough times, but they actually feel happy in each other's presence. Unfortunately, Hope is sort of dating the lead singer in her band (Park--love his name) and she has a dark secret that makes her feel unworthy of being happy. But Mason doesn't scare away easily. Each time he unwittingly pushes Hope too hard, he gently apologizes until her panic settles down.
I like how Mason realizes he can't "save" Hope, as much as he wants to. I love the quirky realness of the characters. The only aspects I didn't love are the title and the reason Mason's father died, which seemed a tad overdramatic to me.
I hear the next books in this series deal with side characters from this novel, and I can't wait to see what this author has in store for me next! I highly recommend this series.(less)
I didn't love the plot or characterization of book one in this series (Bared to You) but the steamy romance and tigh...moreNot Entwined with These Characters
I didn't love the plot or characterization of book one in this series (Bared to You) but the steamy romance and tight writing made me want to keep reading. Book two (Reflected in You) didn't wow me either at first, and I thought I'd stop reading the series until there was a twist at the end that intrigued me. Ooh, suddenly an exciting plot! So I decided to plow ahead to book three, but apparently that wasn't the best decision. I found the story and characters somewhat boring in Entwined with You, and the sexy talk kind of creeped me out.
I like that the author explored psychological issues like sexual abuse for both the hero and the heroine. Eva's past seems more understandable and fleshed out than Gideon's. I thought Eva does a good job of helping Gideon after a nightmare when she says:
"You didn't enjoy it. You felt pleasure and that's not the same thing. Gideon, our bodies react to things by instinct, even when we don't consciously want them to."
Regarding revealing the identity of a murderer, Eva thinks:
Even our therapist could be ethically and legally bound to break our confidence.
Nope. Not unless there is threat of imminent harm to the client or another person.
Eva is a strong character, and I like when she dishes it right back to Giroux:
"You're blond, but surely you can't be so naive as to believe that." "You're stressed," I countered, "but surely you know you're being an ass."
Erotica and domineering men aren't really my thing, whereas some readers love them. But I grew weary of Gideon's eagerness to invade Eva's "greedy little c-word" (yuck). I also frowned when he says an issue is "non-negotiable" then tells her "Do what makes you happy." Wha?
For some reason I thought this was a trilogy, and when I discovered there will be more to this series, I scratched my head. How will the author fatten up this thin plot?
Eva's best friend and roommate Cary continues to be my favorite character. If Ms. Day writes his story, I might read it. But I'm finished with Eva and Gideon.(less)
* No more multiaxial diagnosis! *cheers* I really don't think Axes III, IV, and V added...moreAs a psychologist, I use this manual often.
So far, what I like:
* No more multiaxial diagnosis! *cheers* I really don't think Axes III, IV, and V added much so I'm glad to see them gone.
* The Major Depressive Disorder specifier of "Anxious Distress". It seems somewhat common to see depression and anxiety co-occur, and this is a better way to diagnose depressed folks with an anxious edge.
* Adding the "Negative Thoughts/Mood" criterion to the diagnosis for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Finally an acknowledgement of the ubiquitous "It's my fault" or "I'm bad" beliefs that occur after trauma.
* Adding Binge Eating Disorder as a diagnosis, and making the Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa diagnoses less stringent/ more real world. It's nice not to diagnose 2/3 of eating disorder clients with the vague Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
I haven't found changes I dislike yet, though as I get to know the new manual better, those may be forthcoming.(less)
I hadn't heard of this novel but when I saw the movie trailer, featuring one of my favorite actresses (Kate Winsl...moreThe Movie Inspired Me to Try the Book
I hadn't heard of this novel but when I saw the movie trailer, featuring one of my favorite actresses (Kate Winslet), I knew I wanted to give it a try. Then I found out there was a prison escape element to the story, and I was hooked!
Thirteen-year-old Henry Wheeler lives with his off-kilter mother Adele in New Hampshire in the 1980's. Since Henry's parents divorced, his beautiful mother has become a recluse for reasons revealed later in the novel. His father has moved onto his new family but grudgingly takes Henry out to dinner every Saturday. Henry is a lonely old soul who dreads school starting after the Labor Day holiday weekend. He doesn't have friends and he sucks at baseball.
Henry's circumstances become more interesting when a bleeding man strikes up a conversation with him at Pricemart. Do you think your mother would be kind enough to give me a ride, the stranger asks Henry. (This is how dialog is used in the story, without quotation marks. At first this style was confusing then it seemed like the a good fit with the stranger's easy manner and gradual pacing of the story.)
Turns out the stranger is an escaped convict, Frank. Since Adele is not your typical mother, she brings Frank home with them. But her instincts seem solid when Frank isn't the scary killer he's purported to be. Their first night he "offers" to tie up Adele so that if he's caught, it will look like he held Adele and Henry against their will. When Frank feeds Adele, it turns into a sensual experience:
Their eyes were locked on each other. Still, many things were coming across: the way she arched her neck toward him, like a bird in the nest, the way his body leaned forward in the chair, like a painter in front of a piece of canvas. Sometimes making a brushstroke. Other times, just studying his work.
He himself did not eat. I had been hungry, but sitting there now, at the table with the two of them, it felt as crude to chew or swallow as it would have to munch on popcorn at a baby's christening, or lick an ice-cream cone while your friend told you his dog died.
Adele springs to life in Frank's presence, and Henry has the father figure he's wanted all along. But with the police searching for Frank, how can this bizarre family unit survive?
Henry's voice as the narrator was the best part of the story for me. He is insightful and real.
There is a thing that happens sometimes, where you wake up and you forget for a minute what happened the day before. It takes your brain a few seconds to reset, before you remember whatever it was that happened -- sometimes good, more often bad -- that you knew about when you went to bed the night before and blanked out in the night. I remember the feeling from when my father left, and how, when I'd first opened my eyes the next day, and stared out the window, I knew something was wrong without remembering exactly what. Then it came to me.
The reason Frank went to prison is heartbreaking. I felt so sad for this family, and for Frank. I wished for a little more lightness in the sadness, but I guess that wouldn't be realistic for their situation. The story is touted to be one of "devastating treachery", and I don't really agree with that description.
Overall I enjoyed this story, and recommend it to those who enjoy fiction with a hint of romance and coming-of-age elements. Unfortunately the movie disappeared from the dollar theater before I had a chance to watch it, so I plan to rent it.(less)
I read only one third of this novel, so take my review for what it's worth.
Wally Lamb is certainly a mas...moreExcellent Character Development, Plodding Plot
I read only one third of this novel, so take my review for what it's worth.
Wally Lamb is certainly a master at creating characters with depth -- male and female. The heroine from She's Come Undone was so rich and layered that I felt like I was reading about one of my psychotherapy clients. (And I didn't love that book because it felt too much like a day at work.) I Know This Much Is True was a fascinating exploration of mental illness in twin brothers.
We Are Water starts off interesting enough. Quirky artist Anna has divorced her husband Orion and is preparing to wed gallery owner Viveca. Anna and Orion's adult children have varied reactions to their mother marrying another woman. The author explores how each of these characters deals with such upheaval, and he really leaves no stone unturned. These characters muse and introspect for hours about the past, present, and future. While the characters are unique and interesting, they didn't seem very likable to me. I found myself skipping ahead to see when the chapter would end, which isn't a good sign about my absorption in the plot.
I did enjoy Orion's profession as a therapist at a university counseling center--it's a job I've done in the past and it is difficult to take care of yourself amidst the pressing needs of the student body. I also enjoyed the exploration of bisexuality in Anna's life.
Some book clubbers finished the novel and said it was worth the read, but I chose to put this one down and turn to more compelling reads for me. If you enjoy in-depth psychological family stories, you might want to check this one out.(less)
As a single woman in a couples world, I was drawn to this novel. But it wasn't until I cyber-met the lovely Lisette Brod...moreMolly Hacker is Too Appealing!
As a single woman in a couples world, I was drawn to this novel. But it wasn't until I cyber-met the lovely Lisette Brodey when she interviewed me at her Author Chateau that I bumped this story to the top of my list. And what a funny, clever story it is.
Molly Hacker is a 32-year-old newspaper reporter whose single status seems to be of great concern to her friends and family. "Just settle down with a husband!" they say. "Stop being too picky!"
But Molly doesn't want just anyone to be her partner for life. (Smart woman!) She's looking for a guy who's cute, interesting, and funny. A guy just like her ex, Leo. Their breakup broke her heart and her trust, and now her mantra is "I must, I must, I must begin to trust."
I REALLY relate to Molly. She is an independent writer, won't settle for just any guy, likes Coldplay and Maroon 5, has a hilarious gay BFF and a misbehaving cat, and even wishes she could've been a psychologist (my career). However, she's more neurotic than I am (I hope). And I'm so thankful people don't get on my case about being single. Poor Molly has to endure meddling friends and family.
When my aunt Pauline asked me why a pretty girl like me couldn't have brought a man to the wedding who wasn't attached to someone else, I asked the thrice-divorced sister of my mother to explain to me how settling for three Mr. Wrongs had enhanced her life.
She's certainly not a shrinking violet! Molly is a lot funnier than me, too. Her insights crack me up, like:
I was feeling like the rock star's girlfriend. I liked that, but then my lips started forming the word "groupie", and I didn't want to be considered one or to fend off their overzealous affection for my man. My man? I needed to regroup. Or did I need to regroupie?
"What does 'cute as a button' mean, anyway?" I asked. "I mean, how did buttons ever become the poster children for cuteness?"
But her coworker friend Randy steals the show with his cleverness:
I just stared at Randy, noticing his face had a strange orange glow to it. "And your face is orange because … ?" "Okay. Self-tanner. Put on too much for too long. Tried to impress. What a mess. I confess. Now I digress. What's up with you, or should I guess?" "Give it a rest, I chimed in."… "I hate men," I said, glaring at him. "ALL of them." "Molly Rose, how irrational. What has gotten into you? Why so blue?" "If you can be orange, I can be blue!" I said. "Such colorful banter," he said.
Ha ha! Then, when invasive socialite Naomi shows up unannounced at Molly's office, Randy has some fun:
To complicate my ever-complicated life, nothing ever got past Randy, who had taken from his desk drawer a Scream mask (derived from the famous Edvard Munch painting), put it on his face, and proceeded to stand three feet away from the threshold of my office door, mocking every move Naomi made behind her back.
Molly encounters quite a few suitors throughout the story, including a rock star painter, her high school crush (who's now getting a divorce), an older man who's wealthy and suave, and an awkward yet endearing man. If she decides to choose one of these men, which one will it be? This mystery match-making element kept me turning the pages.
It's clear that Molly Hacker is well-deserving of a wonderful man who matches her wit and style.(less)
What an amazing story showing the strength and fortitude of women. How Lynne Cox manages to swim in icy waters I'll never know. I remember hiding from...moreWhat an amazing story showing the strength and fortitude of women. How Lynne Cox manages to swim in icy waters I'll never know. I remember hiding from my high school swim coach when the pool heater would break, and I can't imagine WILLINGLY diving into the ocean surrounding Antartica!(less)
…and I will miss him. *sad face* Sylvain Reynard created quite a memorable character in Professor Gabriel Emer...moreThere's Nobody Quite Like the Professor…
…and I will miss him. *sad face* Sylvain Reynard created quite a memorable character in Professor Gabriel Emerson, the hero of this trilogy. When I read the first book in the series, Gabriel's Inferno, I often had a lump in my throat learning about his mistreatment as a child and his low self-worth as an adult. While I enjoyed book two in the series (Gabriel's Rapture), I didn't have that same poignant feeling throughout the novel. But the third and final novel of the series recaptured that engrossing attraction to this troubled yet triumphant man.
Here's one exchange early on in the book that illuminates how Gabriel feels about himself in comparison to his wife Julia:
"I thought you'd think my attachment to the Narnia books was juvenile," she said. "Anything important to you can't be juvenile." He thought for a moment as he considered what she'd said. "I read those books, too. There was a closet in my mother's apartment back in New York that I was convinced would open into Narnia if I was a good boy. Clearly, I wasn't." He expected her to laugh, but she didn't. He brushed a kiss against her hair. "I said once that you were not my equal, but my better. I'm afraid you didn't believe me." "It's difficult to believe that you think that sometimes." He winced. "I need to do a better job of showing you."
The intimacy between Gabriel and Julia has become sensual at one moment and playful at the next. I loved how he responded to her calling him a nerd.
He winked at her before using his finger to stroke the inside of her upper thigh. "Would a nerd know how to do this?"
In truth, both Gabriel and Julia are academic nerds, but damn are they sexy nerds!
I love the realism of this story, which adeptly showcases life's highs and lows. And Julia is so wise in explaining the mysteries of life to her "beautiful, broken angel" of a husband:
"Life is risk. I could get cancer. Or get hit by a car. You could wrap me in bubble wrap and keep me indoors and I could still get sick. I know that I could lose you too. And as much as I don't want to say it, someday you're going to die." Her voice broke on the last word. "But I choose to love you now and I choose to build a life with you knowing that I could lose you. I'm asking you to make that same choice. I'm asking you to take the risk, with me."
DO IT, GABRIEL!
And I totally agree with Julia's assertion that "God wants to rescue us, not destroy us." I believe in a loving God, not a punishing God.
The humor sprinkled throughout is wonderful, including "desk sex" and one of the best nicknames ever: "Spring Roll". :-)
There were several side stories that added to the main romance, including Julia's ex Simon, and two former fellow grad students: bitchy Christa, and saintly Paul. We also hear from Julia and Gabriel's family. Simon's story seems a bit unfinished. I'm not sure if Mr. Reynard was trying to show life's reality in terms of Simon's shades of grey, or if he was trying to show yet another man hoping to be redeemed by the love of a good woman. What do you think of Simon's storyline?
Christa knows how to burn bridges like nobody's business.
I'm glad that Paul attempts to move on from the woman he can't have: Julia. Yet it's not easy for him to care for his ex-girlfriend Allison like she still pines for him.
"Half of you is better than the whole of anyone," Allison whispered.
With the help of Julia's love and learning some surprising things about his biological family, Gabriel grows tremendously through this series. Yes, indeed…
the strangest sort of miracles come out of the worst of circumstances.(less)
While I liked Divergent and Insurgent, something seemed missing, preventing me from loving it. Veronica Rot...moreThe Most Worthy Sacrifice is An Act of Love
While I liked Divergent and Insurgent, something seemed missing, preventing me from loving it. Veronica Roth found that missing piece in Allegiant. The story is powerful, intriguing, and emotionally gripping. It is a mature romance between two teens who had to grow up too fast ... two teens who show unfathomable strength. Tris's choice at the end is a beautiful demonstration of her selfless, brave, and intellectual divergence, following on the cusp of an honest conversation with someone she loves.
In the conclusion to the series, we learn what lies beyond the experiment known as Chicago: The Bureau of Genetic Welfare. And what a bureau it is! Its location at O'Hare Airport is perfect, and learning about the Purity Wars and the origin of the factions is fascinating.
I tick off each quality in my mind -- fear, low intelligence, dishonesty, aggression, selfishness. He IS talking about the factions. And he's right to say that every faction loses something when it gains a virtue: the Dauntless, brave but cruel; the Erudite, intelligent but vain; the Amity, peaceful but passive; the Candor, honest but inconsiderate; the Abnegation, selfless but stifling.
I was thrilled to hear Four's perspective in about half of the chapters, though I agree with a Goodreads friend Brooke who stated that Tris's and Four's POVs are not distinct enough. Four's story is heartbreaking.
I have never had parents who set good examples, parents whose expectations were worth living up to, but she did. I can see them within her, the courage and the beauty they pressed into her like a handprint.
Four shows that he is anything but "genetically damaged". Genes vs environment? The Bureau leans too heavily on genes, forgetting that our experiences also shape us. And Four is so strong that he turns the environmental pressures he experienced into resilience, not weakness.
I find the abuses of government to be appalling, and the cautionary tale about those abuses to be timely.
It's not hard for me to believe that the Bureau would do bad things, because every government I've ever known has done bad things.
In the end, this story is about love, especially the sacrifices we make for those we love.
That's what love does, when it's right -- it makes you more than you were, more than you thought you could be.
I hear they will likely split Allegiant into two films, and I can't wait to see who they cast as David and Matthew. Wonderful series!(less)