Straight-forward story of Jack "Legs" Diamond who left Philadelphia as a boy for gangland New York, eventually becoming upstate New York's big celebri...moreStraight-forward story of Jack "Legs" Diamond who left Philadelphia as a boy for gangland New York, eventually becoming upstate New York's big celebrity. The narrator is his attorney Marcus Gorman. Diamond narrowly escaped death a few times, surviving shootouts, assassination attempts, and the wrath of his wife Alice and many girlfriends. This book won a Pulitzer prize and is the first of 3 books known as the Albany Cycle. (less)
Story about 26 year old Frances who travels to a friend's wedding in Miami from her home in Atlanta. While there she is befriended by super cool Marse...moreStory about 26 year old Frances who travels to a friend's wedding in Miami from her home in Atlanta. While there she is befriended by super cool Marse, a girl who is taller and prettier and sexier than her who is better at swimming and boating and fishing than she is, and who I kind of wish the book had been more about than Frances. Marse invites Frances to come stay with her, tells her about a boy named Dennis she has a crush on, and then all of a sudden he falls in love with Frances, and subsequently marries her. Years go by and Frances goes on about her own looks at length, but also about how not superficial she is (guffaw); she and Dennis have a baby girl while Marse remains single. There is lots of other family drama (though not super dramatic) involving several interesting characters, but then we meet a boyfriend of Marse's named Paul, and he too hits on Frances. The first half of this book was brainless and narcissistic and then author Daniel redeemed herself by introducing a topic of actual substance, with Dennis contracting and ultimately succumbing to ALS. (less)
I had my twins in 2007 and by then it was already common knowledge that you should dress them individually and refer to them by their names and not as...moreI had my twins in 2007 and by then it was already common knowledge that you should dress them individually and refer to them by their names and not as "the twins". So I guess I took Dr. Friedman's message as partially remedial and on the other hand radically insane. Basically her premise is that parents rely on the "twin mystique" as an excuse to check out and let their young twins raise each other, whereby this lack of parental participation leads to dysfunction.
To her credit, she's an identical twin, a mother to fraternal twin sons, and a licensed pyschotherapist so obviously she knows what she's talking about. And maybe I'm reacting defensively. But still. Even if I had the chance to do it over, I wouldn't dictate to my friends and family that their shower gifts must be separate and not matching. Our girls do get their own individual birthday cupcakes, but I don't see us giving them their own individual themed birthday parties on separate dates every year with entirely different sets of invitees. We can't afford to give them each their own individual wardrobe either, so they do share some clothing; and I still think they'll grow up emotionally healthy.
It's hard enough for my husband and I to muster up the wherewithal to give the girls alone time with each of us once every couple weeks, I don't know how Dr. Friedman's clients manage her prescribed daily or weekly "alone time". (less)
**spoiler alert** This wasn't the kind of book I was hoping for... I was really just looking for some light summer reading, and with babies all over t...more**spoiler alert** This wasn't the kind of book I was hoping for... I was really just looking for some light summer reading, and with babies all over the place I really can only read a few pages at a sitting. So I found this to be a challenging read - like Umberto Eco's stuff, high level historic religion based. But I did like reading it, like listening to a fascinating professor give a difficult lecture. Until the end, when this professor veers into licentious orgy talk and then I got a little uncomfortable. (less)
Oh this one, the third in the series, made reading the first two totally worth it! I liked Francis Phelan in the second book, and not much else beside...moreOh this one, the third in the series, made reading the first two totally worth it! I liked Francis Phelan in the second book, and not much else besides him. Happily, he's the main character this third book is based around. Frannie's life is a mess, he's a drunk and a bum and he hides from his past... until he confronts and makes peace with it. All the back story that was so missing in the second book (Billy Phelan's Greatest Game) is filled in here. Super satisfying. (less)
The last chapter of this book was nice, even though I hated everything up to it. It was very nice the way everything came together in a fuzzy warm hap...moreThe last chapter of this book was nice, even though I hated everything up to it. It was very nice the way everything came together in a fuzzy warm happy ending. But I have to say mid-way through I decided Alice Hoffman writes as though she's not a native English speaker, lots of random phrasing and immediate contradictions, the kind of thing a listener forgives in a toddler or a foreigner. I had no pity or comprehension for the main character who blames herself as a child for causing her mother's death by wishing it in an angry fit, lives a life of self-isolation (as a stereotypical librarian of course), and then brings misery to herself once again when she sarcastically wishes she'd be struck by lightning. There's a scientist brother with a mathematician wife, a support group for fellow lightning struck victims, and an abandoned affair with a police officer who shares her obsession with death. She lets down a bunch of people including her supposed best friend Renny and boss librarian Frances, and some moles in her yard get eaten by her cat; and there's a lot of bust heaving supernaturalesque lightning survivor sex, some suspense, and then there was the very nice ending. (less)
This is the funniest book I ever read about a grieving family; the dialog is hilarious, especially when Neelie their former housekeeper talks at them....moreThis is the funniest book I ever read about a grieving family; the dialog is hilarious, especially when Neelie their former housekeeper talks at them. This book had everything - suspense, drama, humor, and even a mysterious dancing white dog. The story is about a humble tree farmer in Georgia named Sam Peek, who's recently been widowed. All the grown Peek children are worried about their father on his own after 57 years in their mother's care, "Old man that he is, what's to become of him?" His children, all but one, know Sam Peek to be a hard-working, serious, reticent guy; but this book is all about him and his loves: his wife, his dog, nature, family. The only thing I didn't like about this book was its cover; the illustration on the version I have looks like a dancing Bavarian Jew, which is absolutely nothing at all to do with this story. I read this on a flight, smiling and crying and guffawing the whole way.
This was like reading some other family's genealogy, it wasn't history presented in a way that felt relatable; for me it felt a chore.
The Russian ari...moreThis was like reading some other family's genealogy, it wasn't history presented in a way that felt relatable; for me it felt a chore.
The Russian aristocrats are made to suffer greatly, they are sad and tired and hungry and poor. And then they manage to throw amazing parties, and their children excelled in their academics. Next the aristocrats were murdered and died of illness and starvation. And then they enjoyed culture and arts and traditions of nobility. Then the aristocrats were humiliated by the rebels at every turn, turned out on the streets, and fired from their menial jobs. So they buy two apartments. But then they lose everything and worry about how to feed the family, so they go consult with their lawyers. And so on and so forth for 300 pages. By the end I must admit I resorted to skimming, after 6 weeks of slogging through at a glacial pace. (less)