Owen Meany is a strange child. Almost freakishly small, and with a terrible voice, he is huge on faith, but not so crazy about religion. But Owen hasOwen Meany is a strange child. Almost freakishly small, and with a terrible voice, he is huge on faith, but not so crazy about religion. But Owen has faith that God made him the way he is because he has a Higher Purpose to fulfill.
This came awfully close to being a 3 star read for me. The book just seemed to get longer and longer. It was finally about 100 pages longer than my attention span for the story. But once I got to the end, I realized that everything was essential, even what I thought were tangents. John Irving did a great job of tying up all the seemingly disparate threads at the end.
I mostly liked Owen. There was one section where he seemed to act like a jerk, and he almost lost me. But even that got explained to my satisfaction.
I've already returned this book to the aunt I borrowed it from, but there were some great quotes in there that made me, a relative newcomer to any knowledge of politics, realize how little things actually change. Like the part where Owen's friend John, gets on a rant about how the President's a jerk and needs to be impeached, and if he's stupid enough to let other people tell him what to do he still needs to be impeached. Sound familiar? He was talking about Reagan. Or the part where someone talks about this dashing young man running for President, and how the country can't be swept away by his charisma because experience is what really counts. That section was talking about JFK. So that was pretty interesting to read.
John Wheelwright is the narrator of the story, and he's just a blah little character for me. He was okay when he was young, but he's telling the story something like 15 years later, and he keeps interrupting Owen's story with details of his (John's) current life. I hated those parts. They served their purpose of showing Owen's effect on others' lives, but I got sick of them.
But if you're in the mood for a book that is somehow laugh-out-loud funny, ultimately touching, and a lot about faith and politics, you'll probably enjoy this one. ...more
My seven-year-old cousin and fellow lover-of-all-things-fairy, Natalie, convinced me to read this by reciting the cover blurb to me: "Part comedy, parMy seven-year-old cousin and fellow lover-of-all-things-fairy, Natalie, convinced me to read this by reciting the cover blurb to me: "Part comedy, part love story, part everything-but-the-kitchen-sink." What fairy tale fan could resist that? Not this one!
I loved that the defining characteristics of the characters weren't their beauty or lack thereof. Chris is intelligent, kind, and loyal. He's also an inventor. He's the first in the kingdom to use p-mail (pigeon mail). Princess Marigold is a reader, also intelligent and kind, and very concerned with making sure that she becomes a good strong ruler of her kingdom. She even asks commoners' opinions on the qualities that a good ruler should have! Even the minor characters are generally defined by their personalities, good or bad. Looks really didn't come into play at all. I found that a little refreshing.
The story was a little predictable. We first meet Chris when he's a six-year-old runaway living in the woods. As he grows older, he starts to notice Princess Marigold, who he can watch as she reads on her terrace in the castle. He wants to be her friend, and he wants to know why she frequently looks unhappy. You can probably guess the general outline of the story, beginning to end, just from that. But there were still several surprises along the way that kept the story fresh.
Ed the troll might have been my favorite character. Oh, I really liked Chris and Marigold, but Ed made me laugh. He loves to use common sayings, but he can never get them right. Here's one: "But now that you have your act on the ball, you can do better...All you have to do is keep your shoulder to the grindstone and your nose to the wheel." Too funny! And he's working hard to break a certain fairy creature's monopoly. I won't say who, but that whole little subplot was really cute.
I'm not sure exactly what set the villain off at this point in time. That's probably the biggest thing that knocked this down a star. He or she (I won't say who!) has had years to act. Why now?
If you read the epilogue, there's a huge cliffhanger. I'll be picking up the next one. As Natalie would quote at me, "Part comedy, part tragedy, part two!" Again, who could resist?...more
"In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldes"In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. Everyone knows you are the one who will fail first, and worst, if the three of you set out to seek your fortunes." So begins Howl's Moving Castle. Our protagonist, Sophie Hatter, is well aware of the fate awaiting the oldest child. But circumstances force her to set out to seek her fortune despite the fact that she is the oldest of three daughters.
This is one of those books that reminds you of the magic that made you fall in love with reading in the first place. Just look at that opening paragraph. Who can resist the lure of that? I immediately felt it calling me on to find out what does happen to the eldest.
Overall, this was a charming fairy tale. And like all good fairy tales, everyone comes out a little wiser in the end. But what I really liked about this particular fairy tale is that Sophie was not a helpless maiden in distress. She was saved from quite a few jams, but she did just as much saving with her quick wits. But at the same time, she was a flawed character who made mistakes but ultimately learned from them.
This was one of those books that left me with a satisfied smile at the end. I think it would be fun for both the young and the young-at-heart. I highly recommend it and I'll be looking for the sequel....more
In this very slender graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi gives us a peek into the lives of Iranian women. Well, the romantic and sexual aspects of their liIn this very slender graphic novel, Marjane Satrapi gives us a peek into the lives of Iranian women. Well, the romantic and sexual aspects of their lives anyway.
I felt like I was sitting in this roomful of multi-generational women as they gossiped about themselves, each other, and friends they knew. I think all women have sat in a group like this, when there aren't any men around, and said just exactly what we really think. It's not all ladylike and demure. This is the chance to be as ribald as you'd like.
I laughed so hard at some of these stories! They were hilarious!
Others were heartbreaking. I might not be able to relate to tales of arranged marriages, but I think most of us have enough imagination to understand how horrible it could be.
What I mostly took away from this is that, despite some cultural differences, women are women and men are men the world over. We have much more in common than we think.
If you aren't embarrassed by women talking frankly about sex and love, go ahead and pick this up. It only takes an hour or so to read, but it's very enjoyable....more
I was surprised that I liked this as well as I did. The characters were very engaging, I had just gotten back from trip to Savannah, it all worked togI was surprised that I liked this as well as I did. The characters were very engaging, I had just gotten back from trip to Savannah, it all worked together. A very quick, enjoyable read....more
I checked this out from the library expecting to laugh as much as I had with the other Bill Bryson books I had read. And there were funny parts. To beI checked this out from the library expecting to laugh as much as I had with the other Bill Bryson books I had read. And there were funny parts. To be perfectly honest, I think that my biggest problem with this book is that he spends what felt like quite a bit of time trash-talking North Carolina's section of the AT (the little bit that he tackled) and that's my Old Home State. If you don't like us, go home. And that's pretty much what he did. And he missed out on some really spectacular scenery and wonderful people. His loss....more
Another fun, easy, breezy read. This has a lot of the characters from Savannah Blues in it. I liked the characters the first time around and I enjoyedAnother fun, easy, breezy read. This has a lot of the characters from Savannah Blues in it. I liked the characters the first time around and I enjoyed them again in this book. Another great beach read....more
This is the second book I've read by Dixie Cash, and I have to say, they're something of a sinful pleasure! There's not really any redeeming social orThis is the second book I've read by Dixie Cash, and I have to say, they're something of a sinful pleasure! There's not really any redeeming social or literary quality to these books, but they're so much fun! These would be great beach or airport reads. They contain a little bit of mystery, a lot of romance, and even more Southern sass! I highly recommend Dixie Cash for a quick, easy read....more
This was a fun, easy book that I read in about one night. It's the story of 23-year-old Claire and what happens when her over-bearing mother comes forThis was a fun, easy book that I read in about one night. It's the story of 23-year-old Claire and what happens when her over-bearing mother comes for an open-ended visit.
Really, this was just an amusing bit of fluff that was fairly predictable. If you're in the mood for that (and I was, after slogging through Look Homeward, Angel), you'll probably enjoy this one.
As an aside, I would like to thank my mom for being NOTHING like the mother in this book. What a nightmare!...more
Thursday Next has had enough of the Book World, so she decides to take her two-year-old son, Friday Next, and return to the real world. She has a lotThursday Next has had enough of the Book World, so she decides to take her two-year-old son, Friday Next, and return to the real world. She has a lot of unfinished business there, such as un-eradicating her husband, taking down the Goliath mega-corporation-turned-religion, and exposing wannabe dictator Yorrick Kaine as the fictional character he is. Not to mention making sure that the Swindon Mallets croquet team wins the "World Cup" of competitive croquet in order to avert a disaster of Armageddon-like proportions, teaching Hamlet to stop dithering so much, and teaching her pet dodo's young son some manners. That should be enough to keep her out of trouble.
This one was still funny and interesting, but I like the way Jasper Fforde can really let his imagination run wild when Thursday's in the Book World. Not that he reigns it in much when she's in the real world, mind you, but I guess there's a certain cleverness and wordplay that happens in the Book World that I miss.
Still pure escapism, but it's very fun, literate escapism that's unlike anything else you've ever read....more
This was my first experience with Bill Bryson and I loved it. I had to keep reading parts aloud to my family, and I would laugh so hard they couldn'tThis was my first experience with Bill Bryson and I loved it. I had to keep reading parts aloud to my family, and I would laugh so hard they couldn't understand what I was saying! Great for a good laugh....more
This was another fun romantic comedy. It's the story of a French couple who are stranded in Nebraska of all places. The local people basically adopt tThis was another fun romantic comedy. It's the story of a French couple who are stranded in Nebraska of all places. The local people basically adopt them and, of course, a "comedy of errors" follows.
I would probably have enjoyed this more if I hadn't just finished another lightweight chick-lit book. But it was an entertaining and easy read....more
A very fun, breezy read. I kept laughing out loud and scaring my husband while I was reading it. I feel bad for the people who have had any contact wiA very fun, breezy read. I kept laughing out loud and scaring my husband while I was reading it. I feel bad for the people who have had any contact with me recently, because I've probably found a way to work one of these stories into the conversation. Read it if you're in the mood for a good laugh, sort of at the expense of men. It's all in good fun though....more
Welcome to an alternative England, where characters from nursery rhymes investigate nursery crimes and the investigation is more focused on getting aWelcome to an alternative England, where characters from nursery rhymes investigate nursery crimes and the investigation is more focused on getting a good story than on getting a correct conviction. Jack Spratt and his new partner, Mary Mary, have just been assigned to investigate the death of Humpty Dumpty. But this seemingly straightforward investigation is not all it's cracked up to be. (Sorry, I don't know if that even made sense, but I had to work it in somehow.)
I really enjoyed this. Something about the feel of a hard-nosed detective story contrasted with using characters from nursery rhymes just really amused me. And it was an unpredictable whodunnit on top of everything else. If you don't take yourself (or your books) too seriously, you would probably enjoy this. I have also really enjoyed Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, so if you enjoyed those, you'll probably also like this series....more
The Masque of the Black Tulip continues the story of spies and lovers begun with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Henrietta Selwick (sisterThe Masque of the Black Tulip continues the story of spies and lovers begun with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. Henrietta Selwick (sister to Richard Selwick, who was the spy known as The Purple Gentian) is corresponding with her cousin Jane (who is living in Paris and spying on Napoleon's government in the guise of the Pink Carnation). Got that? Through their coded correspondence, Jane sends messages of intrigue to the War Office in Britain. One such message notifies the War Office that the French have deployed their best and most dangerous spy, The Black Tulip, to London. A search for the spy follows.
Okay, without giving away anything, that is the bare bones of the plot. But that makes it sound a lot more serious than it is. Sure, the spying and disguises and coded messages do happen, but this book is pure, unadulterated, fun chick-lit. I raced through it, waiting to see if the Black Tulp is caught in time, but really, I just wanted to see who ends up in love with whom. The plot is fun, the characters are maybe not too well-developed, but they're fun too, and the pace is just right. If you don't take yourself or your books too seriously, this is an amusing, easy read. It would be great to read on the beach....more
Having just finished The Inferno and The Picture of Dorian Gray, I needed something frothy and fun. I've read the other two books in this series, so IHaving just finished The Inferno and The Picture of Dorian Gray, I needed something frothy and fun. I've read the other two books in this series, so I knew this one should fit the bill. It did.
This time around, Letty Alsworthy finds herself in a very compromising position with her sister's suitor, Lord Geoffrey Pinchingdale. She also promptly finds herself married off to Geoff. He leaves for Ireland on their wedding night and the indomitable Letty follows him. She later finds out that Geoff is a spy working with the Pink Carnation to stop an uprising in Ireland.
That sounds very dry, but these books are a funny little delight to read. The dialogue is witty, the characters are always fun and likeable, and there's just the right balance of romance and action. I recommend them if you just need a fun little break....more
Lucy Armstrong is a director who makes dog food commercials--by choice, not lack of talent. Her ex-husband has asked her to come in and finish directiLucy Armstrong is a director who makes dog food commercials--by choice, not lack of talent. Her ex-husband has asked her to come in and finish directing an action flick that he's coordinated the stunts for. The real director has just died with only four days of shooting left to go. She reluctantly agrees. Things get interesting when she shows up on the set and finds out that her star has hired a stunt double. But not just any stunt double. Meet Captain J. T. Wilder of the Green Berets. Wilder is smokin' hot and attracted to Lucy. Despite obvious distractions, the pair are still aware that something weird is happening on this movie set. They set out to find out what it is, and to find out more about each other.
Okay, more like 2.5 stars. It was a quick, mindless read featuring gorgeous people. But this was an odd hybrid of chick lit and military novel that didn't exactly work for me. I don't really read military books, so why do I want my chick lit served up with military stuff? There was too much of the men focusing in on the women's chests and legs, and I never really understood what was going on, even at the end. Maybe I read through too fast, but it felt like a lot of loose ends were left. Lucy's niece, Pepper, was cute, and I liked that Lucy was a strong character. Other than that, this book was pretty forgettable....more