Max Trader is a luthier who wakes up one morning in a body not his own. After the initial panic and a little further investigation, Trader finds out tMax Trader is a luthier who wakes up one morning in a body not his own. After the initial panic and a little further investigation, Trader finds out that charming, womanizing rake, Johnny Devlin, has wished for a different life and somehow they have traded bodies. Devlin has no intention of trying to switch back. He gets a fresh start while Trader tries to navigate his way through the wreckage of Johnny's life. While learning about Johnny, though, Devlin learns a few things about his own life and how he needs to start living as large as trees, to paraphrase.
Characters, characters, characters. What draws me to Charles de Lint are his characters, and he did not disappoint with this one. Trader is a mild-mannered kind of guy, mostly forgettable except for his talent, but he's willing to learn from this unbelievable experience he has. He learns to live his life to the fullest and not take a single day for granted.
So that one's obvious. What makes this a de Lint book is that even the secondary characters grow and learn and change. Trader and Devlin's switch is like a stone thrown into a still pond: the effects ripple out in ways that you don't see coming. Even minor characters learn self-acceptance, the value of having your own life outside of a relationship, acceptance of others, forgiveness, open-mindedness and all kinds of Important Life Lessons. I've loaned out my copy already or I would throw out a couple of quotes that sum all of this up much better than I can. Expect to see a revised version of this review when I get my copy back.
Finally got it back!
"The thing to do is to be happy with yourself, with what's in your own life; then if a relationship comes along it's a bonus, something to enjoy instead of the thing your life revolves around."
"Look inside yourself for the answers--you're the only one who knows what's best for you. Everybody else is only guessing."
What kept this from being five stars are two of the characters who actually grow the most. They were the whiniest women I have read about in a long time. Oh, they felt real alright. I know plenty of women who moan on and on and on about their boyfriends, the lack of, or the fact that they need a life apart from. They are not women I want to spend time with, either in books or in real life. I have very little tolerance for that kind of thing. It's an important lesson to get out there, but spare me. Please.
What's a little unusual about this novel is that there isn't really a bad guy. Devlin's not anyone's idea of a nice guy, but the real antagonists are apathy, inertia, missed opportunities, wasted talent, and a lack of self-awareness. Devlin's actually sort of the poster child for the "wherever you go, there you are" theme running through the book. He gets a new life, but he's unwilling to change and makes the same old mistakes all over again.
This falls pretty early in the Newford books, which I will still maintain that you don't have to read in order, but it was pretty cool to go back and read an early book and see how the regulars were doing back then. I finally know who Tanya is and how she and Geordie meet, and I finally realize that there are hints of Jilly's The Onion Girl (Newford, Book 11) trials this early.
On a side note, I adore the cover art that John Jude Palancar creates for de Lint's books.
Anyway, this is a great example of why Charles de Lint is my favorite author. He tells a great story with an important message without being preachy, all while creating characters who honestly feel like old friends to me at this point. Reading this one has given me the urge to go on a Newford re-reading binge. Highly recommended....more
Jean Perdu is a broken man, not really living his life but only existing. His one great love left him twenty years ago and he's never moved on. He putJean Perdu is a broken man, not really living his life but only existing. His one great love left him twenty years ago and he's never moved on. He puts together gigantic puzzles in his spartan apartment and sells books on his book barge, The Literary Apothecary. He knows exactly the right book to sell to the lovelorn when they enter his shop, but he doesn't know how to fix his own life.
When Catherine, fresh out of a devastating marriage, moves in across the hall, they both sense that they could have a real, lasting relationship, a relationship that neither of them is ready for. In an act of desperation, Jean casts his barge off into the Seine, bestselling author Max in tow, and heads off into the sunset, or at least the south of France, to seek peace and healing.
I truly wanted to like this more than I did. I read a couple of reviews, thought it sounded like the perfect book for me, and went to request it on Netgalley. It was good, not great, and in the month or so since I finished it, I've largely forgotten it.
My biggest problem was the title. I estimate that 2/3 of the book takes place outside of Paris. So now it's The Little France Bookshop. That's misleading but still, no real complaints here. I haven't been to France but it's high on my wishlist. And while quite a bit of the story does take place in the bookshop or around books, it wasn't quite as much as I expected. Instead of a love story to books, or a love story revolving around books, I felt like it was more of a love story with a few books thrown in. That's not quite fair because there were a lot of titles and author's names tossed about but they almost felt like afterthoughts. To me, anyway.
Still, the settings did come to life for me. I'm ready to take a cruise on the waterways of France in the summertime. Especially on a floating bookstore. I want to gaze at the stars, dance the tango, smell the flowers, eat the food and drink the wine.
I liked the three men who ultimately end up aboard The Literary Apothecary and the way their lives contrast to each other. Young author Max hasn't experience all-consuming love yet and he's frankly afraid of the idea. Jean had his and can't let her go. Jack-of-all-trades Cuneo joins them later on---and I can't finish this thought because that will get into spoilers.
I personally don't read too many straight-up romantic-type books, so this turned out not to be a great fit for me. Those who enjoy romance more than I do will love this one. But even for me, it was worth the read, if only for the gorgeous setting.
Simon Pare did an excellent job with the translation. If I hadn't known it was translated, I don't think I ever would have guessed. The language was gorgeous.
Thanks to the publisher for allowing me access to a review copy through Netgalley....more
Holy smokes. When does the next one come out? November? *sigh*
I don't even know how to summarize this one. Cinder, Scarlet, Captain Thorne, Wolf, andHoly smokes. When does the next one come out? November? *sigh*
I don't even know how to summarize this one. Cinder, Scarlet, Captain Thorne, Wolf, and Iko are doing their best to eliminate the threat that Queen Levana and her Lunar army present to Earth. They're in contact with Levana's chief hacker, lonely Cress, imprisoned on a satellite with no means to cut her lovely locks. That's right--Rapunzel has made her way into the story.
For some reason, I thought this series was a trilogy, so I expected everything to be wrapped up neatly. I just got more and more stressed out as everything fell apart. Let's face it--Cinder and company are very much the underdogs. But things just got worse and worse and worse for them!
I seem to remember missing Cinder and Emperor Kai in Scarlet. They were there but not as much as I would have liked them to be. I didn't mention that in my review though, so maybe I'm wrong. Either way, they were each front and center quite a bit in this book, so I was happy about that.
Scarlet and Wolf fell into the background this time though. That might not be a terrible thing. I like Wolf but Scarlet irritated me a bit. I definitely do not like where her story arc went though. Grrr...
And now it looks like the last book will bring in Snow White. I'm not sure how I feel about that. One of my friends is emphatic that Snow White is the most irritating fairy tale. Off the top of my head, I agree, at least based on the Disney movie. She doesn't really seem to have a thought in her pretty little head and people just seem to feel sorry for her. Princess Winter (read: Snow White) makes a brief appearance in Cress. She seems just as breathless, airy, and thoughtless as I would expect. Hopefully there's more to her than that first impression.
But I haven't talked about Cress at all! I like her. She's become an awkward, romantic, dreamy-eyed genius of a hacker in her isolation on that satellite. The reality of Earth is a bit much for her to take, but that all felt very real. She has her freakout moments and makes some pretty big mistakes but she eventually starts to figure things out and show some inner steel. I like her. I do have to say that the whole hair thing felt a bit superfluous and only there to establish her as Rapunzel. Other aspects of the fairy tale were worked in effectively though, even things I thought would most likely be overlooked. I was happily surprised by that!
Captain Thorne is starting to show that there's more to him than a vain flyboy. That's still mostly what he's showing to the world but he has moments where his inner hero shows through.
I do love listening to Robecca Soler narrate this series. She is young enough to fit the part and she keeps me on the edge of my seat as I'm driving. All I can say is that it's a good thing that I've been driving at weird times lately because I don't know if I would be safe to navigate in the usual bumper-to-bumper while I listen to these books!
If you enjoy this series, you won't be disappointed by Cress. If you haven't started them, pick up Cinder and give it a try. I just love these highly original re-tellings....more
Mary Roach has a gift for making science accessible and--dare I say it?--even funny. In this book, she tackles the digestive system.
Covering topics raMary Roach has a gift for making science accessible and--dare I say it?--even funny. In this book, she tackles the digestive system.
Covering topics ranging from thorough chewing (as in 700+ chews for One. Freaking. Bite.) to the miraculous properties of spit, from being eaten alive to the possibility (or not) of chewing your way out if you are, from "The alimentary canal as criminal accomplice" to *ahem* flatus, and ending up with bacterial transplants to treat intractable digestive ailments, this book asks everything you might possibly have ever wanted to know on the topic but were afraid to ask.
I have a pretty juvenile sense of humor, so all of the fart jokes, and spit jokes, and *ahem* "criminal accomplice" jokes had me at least giggling. In the two chapters devoted to flatulence, I was quite honestly laughing so hard I couldn't breathe. Not that it was necessarily that funny but because "Oh my gosh, I can't believe she went there. And there. And there!" I'm almost ashamed of myself. Almost. Luckily my husband and I have the same sense of humor so he just kept playing whatever game on his phone as I laughed myself silly and waited for me to catch my breath and report so he could share in the joke too.
I've worked in healthcare for years, so I've developed a pretty strong stomach (though I'm not a nurse or CNA and haven't ever had to wade into the trenches, so to speak), so nothing in here bothered me. That will obviously not be the case for all of you. If you can stomach it (heehee!), I do recommend this. If it doesn't seem to be your kind of thing, it's probably not....more
Arlene left her hometown of Possett, Alabama after she graduated from high school and never looked back. She has withstood bribery, threats, and guiltArlene left her hometown of Possett, Alabama after she graduated from high school and never looked back. She has withstood bribery, threats, and guilt trips from hell from her Aunt Florence and remained in Chicago for ten years. But now Alabama seems to have found her. A face from Arlene's past shows up on her doorstep and at her job, asking questions that Arlene doesn't want to answer. At the same time, her boyfriend Burr, a Black man, is ready to get serious but he wants to know that she's serious too. He wants to meet her family. Her slightly racist family. To keep Burr and protect an old secret and her family, she must head back to Possett.
I have seen Joshilyn Jackson speak multiple times and I always enjoy myself hugely. She is hilarious! And she sure knows how to tell a story. I was hoping to listen to a book that she had narrated herself, but those always seem to be checked out at the library so I grabbed this one instead. Catherine Taber narrated wonderfully so I wasn't disappointed.
I've only read one other book by Ms. Jackson, Between, Georgia. I didn't care for it much. There was nothing wrong with it, exactly, it just seemed forgettable and it has been. I think I'll remember gods in Alabama for a long time.
I don't even know whether to say that I like Arlene. Her heart's in the right place but she's about as crazy as her Mama. She prides herself on never telling a lie but that's not quite the same as telling the truth, now is it? She goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid telling lies but I never knew what parts of her story to believe. With good reason.
There are only a couple of other characters that really stand out for me. Aunt Flo is a force to be reckoned with. She seems hard and almost cold but she has a big heart that she hides well. There are a lot of flashbacks centered around Jim Beverly, the high school quarterback when Arlene was in school. He's not a nice guy, to say the least, but he's not painted as purely evil either. He has kind moments, which make him believable.
The other characters were fairly minor and didn't stand out as much. I definitely liked Burr but he seemed almost too good to be true. He and Arlene would have some big fights but mostly he was the perfectly understanding boyfriend. Arlene's cousin Clarice is too sweet to believe. I liked her too but nobody's that nice all the time.
I thought I knew what was going on all along but it turns out that I didn't. That's becoming rare for me so I appreciate it when it happens! It wasn't just one thing but two! Holy smokes! I think my jaw just dropped when I finally saw the whole picture.
I enjoyed listening to the audio but I kind of wish I had a print copy in front of me. The first sentence is awesome. It starts, "There are gods in Alabama" and goes on to list football quarterbacks and Jack Daniels and other things like that. It's a refrain that repeats throughout the book and I loved it.
For a story about family and roots with a firm sense of place and a surprising mystery at its heart, I highly recommend this one. ...more
Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has taken boys on board and is heading to London. Sophronia knows that somethinMademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality has taken boys on board and is heading to London. Sophronia knows that something is afoot, if she can only figure out just what it is. Someone seems to be determined to kidnap Dimity and her brother (What is his name? I can't be bothered to look it up just at this moment), and Sophronia's friends aren't speaking to her.
Hmmm...I loved this while I was reading it and laughed my way through several parts, even going so far as to read them to my husband. But now that I'm sitting down to write my review a couple of weeks later, I find that I've forgotten most of the book. I'm going to knock it back a star. I think it's fallen prey to the "filler" curse. How often does book two of a series only feel like filler? Entirely too often for my taste.
The book was as witty and charming as I expect Gail Carriger's books to be. I loved that Lord Akeldama finally made an appearance. He will eat Sophronia up! Hopefully not intentionally. I actually enjoyed the triangle that is forming between Sophronia, spoiled Lord Felix, and down-to-earth Soap. I'm Team Soap all the way! I fear that it's a doomed relationship before it even gets started though.
The whole thing with the other girls shunning Sophronia felt very forced. She's a smart girl and she should have realized what was going on. I guess sometimes it's hard to see it when you're right in the middle of things though.
And I think that's all I have to say about that. I'll definitely continue with the series, I just hope the next installment is a bit stronger....more
Hermux Tantamoq is a quiet, rather shy watchmaker who just happens to be a mouse. His world is turned upside down when the lovely Linka Perflinger walHermux Tantamoq is a quiet, rather shy watchmaker who just happens to be a mouse. His world is turned upside down when the lovely Linka Perflinger walks into his shop and asks him to repair her watch. She never returns to pick it up, even though it seemed to be important to her. When a suspicious-looking rat comes in asking for it, Hermux knows Miss Perflinger must be caught up in something dangerous. He sets out to find her and save the day.
I liked Hermux a lot. I think he and I would get along splendidly. Give us a pot of tea and some doughnuts and we'll quietly talk, or just sit and enjoy each other's company. He felt like a kindred spirit.
His community was interesting as well. There's the gossipy mail lady, the gruff cafe owner, the bossy neighbor, and the reporter who seems to be everywhere. I enjoyed reading about them all.
When it came down to the mystery, I did figure out some parts that were featured in a journal. But I was truly surprised when one part directly affecting Hermux was revealed! I knew something was up but I didn't know it was that!
I wished for a slightly different ending but I was happy enough with the one we got. I guess it leaves more room for sequels.
Campbell Scott narrated well, though not brilliantly, but he does get points for not stumbling over these tongue-twisting names!
Boys and girls in the 8-10 age range should enjoy this gentle hero and his intriguing mystery....more
In a hospital in England, the anti-Christ is born, making unlikely allies of the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale. They've both spent quite a biIn a hospital in England, the anti-Christ is born, making unlikely allies of the demon Crowley and the angel Aziraphale. They've both spent quite a bit of time on Earth and they actually kind of like the place. They're not ready for the End of Days. So they set out to make sure it doesn't happen.
I read this book about half a lifetime ago, which makes me feel a little old. I really enjoyed it. When I saw that it was going to be adapted for radio by the BBC and we could stream it on our side of the pond, I was excited.
I think I was a little distracted as I was listening to it. I only listened to it around the house so I could stream it over our wifi. And of course I was puttering around as I listened. I laughed in all the right places but it felt disjointed to me. I think that's at least partly because I would get focused on whatever I was doing for a minute or two and then try to pick up the thread of the narrative again. Also, the BBC app is terrible. I could only listen to five minutes at a time before the audio started whistling at me, so then I'd have to exit completely out and go back in to listen to the next five minutes. That shows some sort of dedication on my part, doesn't it, that I listened to the whole thing like that?
Also, (I'm afraid to say this), I tend to love Neil Gaiman's books but I've never been a huge Terry Pratchett fan. My sister has tried to get me to read the Discworld books forever. I've read a few. I enjoyed one and the others were just too random and over the top for me. That's how Good Omens felt to me now. I don't know if my taste has changed or if it just stood out to me more in this format.
The adaptation was very well done though. I haven't listened to many (if any) other radio adaptations, and I liked the full cast and the sound effects. I can't think of any weaknesses in that aspect of things.
I don't know if this is still available, but fans of the book should definitely check it out. I think I just had too many other things going on because I really should have loved it....more
This is the continuation of the true story of Vladek Spiegelman's survival as a Jew in WWII Poland.
Most of what I wrote in my review of Maus I still sThis is the continuation of the true story of Vladek Spiegelman's survival as a Jew in WWII Poland.
Most of what I wrote in my review of Maus I still stands, but there’s a bit more of the author’s feelings included. You can see the catharsis he’s going through as he writes this novel. He’s painfully honest about the conflicting feelings he has toward his father and his mother.
Again, most of Vladek’s survival relied on luck, but I was left in awe of his ingenuity and his talent for survival. But the man would drive me crazy. I was left wondering if he was the way he was because of what he went through or if he was just born that way.
This book touches on prejudices we still have today, even people who should know better.
I have to admit that I was welling up before I had read one word of the story--and I'm not a crier.
Maus I and Maus II are just such powerful books. Still highly, highly recommended....more
Art Spiegelman’s father, Vladek, was a Jew living in Poland in WWII. He made it through, and Maus I is Spiegelman’s story of his father’s life, as welArt Spiegelman’s father, Vladek, was a Jew living in Poland in WWII. He made it through, and Maus I is Spiegelman’s story of his father’s life, as well as an exploration of the way the lives of the survivors and their family members were never the same.
Okay, let’s look at the fact that this is a graphic novel first. It absolutely works. The Jews are mice, the Germans are cats, the French are frogs--you get the idea. This is a young adult book, so I think that helps kids/teens deal with the story a little better. A skeletal mouse is alarming enough, but it would be so much harder for a child to deal with if it had been a photo of a skeletal person. As an adult who knows something about what happened, I found that the form made me see with new eyes. We’ve all seen “Schindler’s List” or read one of the books written by survivors. But this form somehow hit me a little harder, almost as if I were learning about the Holocaust for the first time.
It still stays true to the horror and atrocity. Some of it is sort of passed over, but the moments when the violence is shown stand out that much more. I’ve read quite a few Holocaust novels, but the moments of random violence in Maus I hit me hard. Spiegelman took the “less is more” approach and it worked.
There were so many things I liked about this book. The historical part of the story opens with Vladek as a reasonably prosperous young mouse marrying into a wealthy family. I liked that this is where it started. I got to see how everything was slowly stripped away until they were desperate for any shelter and any food. That stripping away is something that I haven’t come across very often. I also liked that Vladek’s ingenuity and bravery played a part in his survival, but it was obvious that the biggest factor was just dumb luck. He built or found many different hiding places. The author includes drawings of these, and I’m so glad he did. I can make sense of a picture, but a description of a complicated system for hiding usually just leaves me confused. Vladek doesn’t skip over the fact that there were some Jews who sold out others in an effort to secure their own safety. That’s not something you come across very often either. Vladek tells his own story in his slightly broken but very readable English. I liked that too. I felt like I was hearing the story instead of just reading it. I got so wrapped up in the story that I was scared every time Vladek was trying to decide whether or not to trust someone. His very survival depended on making the right judgment.
This also looks at how the Holocaust affected those who came after. Vladek survived, but did he really? He and the other survivors have a lot of psychological problems that stayed with them for life. Their problems in turn affected the children they had later, to the point that the children feel survivor’s guilt and they hadn’t even been born in WWII.
I’d recommend this for anyone who wants a bit of a fresh look at a survivor’s story. I’d also recommend it as an introduction to the Holocaust for older children and teens. If you do decide to read this, have the second one nearby. Maus I ends on a cliffhanger....more
It's 1875 and Archie Dent's parents belong to The Septemberists, a society dedicated to remembering the damage caused by monsters called the MangleborIt's 1875 and Archie Dent's parents belong to The Septemberists, a society dedicated to remembering the damage caused by monsters called the Mangleborn and to preventing them from rising again to destroy civilization. On a routine trip to the Septemberist headquarters, the older Dents are taken over by Manglespawn, children of a Mangleborn, and forced to Florida where one of the monsters is trying to break free. Archie and his family servant, a tik tok man named Mr. Rivets, try to save the Dents but fail. They set off to seek help from other Septemberists and make a couple of brilliant young friends along the way.
Whew! That sounds complicated! It's not really. This is a middle grade steampunk adventure and everything's explained pretty easily.
Archie's a great protagonist. He's small for his age, smart, kind of a nerd, and apparently there's nothing special about him. He wants so badly to be a hero that he feels his normalcy is a weakness. His friend Fergus is an electrician/scientist of amazing talents. His friend Hachi is a fierce warrior, utilizing five clockwork toys to her advantage. Archie seems to just be...Archie.
I love the whole world this is set in. The fledgling colonies of North America lost contact with Europe when there was a catastrophic Mangleborn rising. They had to learn to live peacefully with the Native Americans so they've come to be known as the United Nations of America. The states we know correspond more closely to tribes of Native Americans. The colonists come to be known as the Yankee tribe. The society is pretty advanced but everything runs on clockwork and steam power.
I was fortunate to see author Alan Gratz at his book launch and he said that he wanted to write a "book of awesome," so he wrote down all the awesome things he could think of and tried to fit them all into one book. It works for me and I'm sure it will work for younger boys and girls looking for an action-packed read. I can't wait to get my hands on the second book in the trilogy....more
Soooooo........yeah. I just rated Walden, one of the great American classics, two stars. That probably says more about me than it does about the book,Soooooo........yeah. I just rated Walden, one of the great American classics, two stars. That probably says more about me than it does about the book, doesn't it? Don't answer that.
But here's the thing--well, a few things.
1. I'm not generally an abstract ideas kind of person. I like narrative and stories and characters that come to life for me. Walden has none of these. Obviously. The section that I liked best? Thoreau described a pretty epic battle between some tiny red ants and some big bullying black ants. There were sides and protagonists and bravery and heroism, the agony of defeat, and the high cost of victory. I flew through those few pages. And then I got back to ideas and it was like I'd stepped in quicksand again.
2. I found Thoreau to be great in small, quotable chunks. Page after page? He wore on me. I don't care how much he spent on potatoes, I don't care about his theories about measuring bodies of water, I don't care exactly what day the pond thawed each year. And yet this book has produced quotes that most people will recognize.
"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away."
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms.”
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
All great stuff, right? I just had a hard time with the in-between parts.
3. I found the Thoreau writing this book to be a bit of an insufferable prick. He had a huge case of the holier-than-thous! His way of living was the only way of living. Everyone else was just a slave to society. He was the only one smart enough to escape the trap. It took me months to read this slim volume, but I do believe at the beginning, he gets the wood for his house by buying a house from a poor Irish family who had nothing else to sell, and then commenting on the dirty state of their children and the house as they drift off through the woods with all their worldly goods on their backs! Say what? And in another incident, he told a poor Irish working man who was working hard to feed his growing family that he needed to stop working for other people and start living off the land. That's all well and good for a single man with no family to feed and a support system to fall back on, but most families can't be fed by just foraging. Hopefully Thoreau in real life was less grating, but I most definitely didn't like the voice this book was written in.
4. I did enjoy studying the Transcendentalists in college. I loved what they had to say. A lot of the specifics have faded with time, but all their ideas about nature and solitude do actually speak to me. I wish more people felt this way in the noisy world we live in. Now Thoreau and Emerson would probably be on medication for some sort of social anxiety disorder. But we all do need time alone to just be, and the best place to do that is outside. I never had to read this entire book for school though. Now I'm disappointed that I feel this way about it.
I am obviously in the minority, but that's my two cents. This is a classic that most people should at least take a crack at. I knew early on that I was going to struggle but I kept pushing through. I should have given up earlier. Some things just aren't meant to be....more