This was the perfect book to read while on vacation. It was dark and magical, complex and literary, and yet also whimsical and hopeful. I knew very liThis was the perfect book to read while on vacation. It was dark and magical, complex and literary, and yet also whimsical and hopeful. I knew very little about the fairytale Rapunzel (other than a girl with long hair being locked in a tower) and even less about 16th and 17th century Italian and French history when I began reading the book. The author wove an abundance of historical detail into this fictional tale, but it rarely felt heavy-handed and I learned a great deal.
The book weaves together the stories of three women -- each strong, enigmatic and flawed (some more than others). It tells a fictionalized account of the real-life Charlotte-Rose de la Force, a French author who penned a version of the Rapunzel fairytale in the 1600s after she herself had been banished to a convent by the King after multiple court scandals. It tells the story of a young girl who was stolen and locked away in a tower by an evil witch. And finally, it tells the story of the witch herself and how she came to be the woman she was.
My only criticism is that the final 50-75 pages moved along too briskly and tied the story up a bit too quickly compared to the pace of the rest of the book. Also, be warned this is NOT a book for young readers. It contains quite a few explicit sex scenes that, while they are mostly relevant to the story and the character development, are extremely detailed and definitely R rated.
If you enjoy historical fiction, stories with strong female characters and retellings of classic fairytales, Bitter Greens is a worthy read. ...more
My personal rule has long been to only rate and review books I enjoyed reading. Not every book is for every person. A book I dislike may be a book youMy personal rule has long been to only rate and review books I enjoyed reading. Not every book is for every person. A book I dislike may be a book you love. To each his or her own. Yet, for RUBY, I'm breaking my rule. This book was not at all what the jacket or summary described, and I feel that a strong warning to potential readers is necessary.
There are many positive reviews for RUBY, and I can understand why to a certain extent. There were some things I loved about it. The book contains beautiful, lyrical writing, and the author does an amazing job of pulling the reader into the time and place by showing, never telling. The opening line grabbed me and the first few chapters held on to me, captivated me. The two main characters are well-developed, complex, deeply flawed, yet likable. The premise of the story, as described in the summary, is exactly what I love in a book -- gritty, thought-provoking, unflinching, and containing "the promise of the redemptive power of love" in the face of brutal hardship.
Yet, the book is not as advertised. While the summary hints at "dark" acts, that is by no means enough warning for what lies within the pages of RUBY. This book contains many lengthy, detailed, graphic, scenes of incest, rape, murder, prostitution and other violence against children and adults of both sexes (as well as Black Magic sacrifices involving animals). So many. Too many. Some of these scenes may have been necessary to fully convey the brutality the main characters suffered throughout their lives, so the reader can understand why they've made the choices they have, why they behave the way they do. But that was clear after three or four scenes. It's no exaggeration to say every chapter contained at least one scene (sometimes more) that turned my stomach. The book is sensationalistic, gratuitous and disturbing from beginning to end.
I did feel invested in the characters and wanted to know how the book ended, hoping for some shred of redemption or hope, as the summary promised. So I began skimming at about a 1/3 of the way through, skipping over those horrific scenes the best I could (scenes that were often many pages long) just to get to the end. It was not worth satisfying my curiosity. And that makes me sad, truly, because I know how much time and effort goes into writing a book, and it's clear the author is an extremely talented writer and storyteller.
This book could have been SO much more, if only an editor would have had the insight and courage to say, that's enough. ...more
I won a copy of The Lost Wife from author Erika Robuck's blog. Her review of the book sang it high praise. After reading the book myself, I couldn't aI won a copy of The Lost Wife from author Erika Robuck's blog. Her review of the book sang it high praise. After reading the book myself, I couldn't agree with her more. This is a beautiful, heartbreaking page-turner filled with pain, love and hope. I highly recommend the book and suggest you read Erika's lovely review at her blog, at http://erikarobuck.wordpress.com/2012... ...more
This was a smart, sweet romantic comedy with a few surprises and a satisfying ending. It's not a book I would likely have picked up on my own. I'm glaThis was a smart, sweet romantic comedy with a few surprises and a satisfying ending. It's not a book I would likely have picked up on my own. I'm glad it was recommended to me by a friend. It's a good reminder to me to step out of my genre comfort-zone from time to time. ...more
If you have never read this classic, you should read it. If you read it long ago, you should read it again.
Clifton Fadiman, one of the 20th century'sIf you have never read this classic, you should read it. If you read it long ago, you should read it again.
Clifton Fadiman, one of the 20th century's foremost critics, is said to have read 25,000 books in his lifetime, many more than once. "When you re-read a classic," he said, "you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before." I've read Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men probably a half-dozen times since I first read it as a teenager. Each time, as a reader, I connect more with the characters than I did the last. And each time, as a writer, I learn something more about the stories I want to write. ...more
When Harriet Beecher Stowe published "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in 1852, many people questioned whether the novel accurately and truthfully described the horWhen Harriet Beecher Stowe published "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in 1852, many people questioned whether the novel accurately and truthfully described the horrors and depravity of slavery. In response, she published "A Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin," a nonfiction book "presenting the original facts and documents" upon which her novel was based -- letters, newspaper articles, classified ads and other documents.
I'm so grateful for Stowe's thoroughness, because this book proved invaluable in my own research for my historical novel "All Different Kinds of Free." I learned about the book during a trip visiting in-laws. Our cousin Donna took us to the Living History Farms in Urbandale, Iowa, at a point early in my book research. While perusing the wares of Schafer Drug Store (in the 1875 Town of Walnut Hill), I was beyond thrilled to discover the book on the shelf.
If you're researching slavery or the 1800s, buying a copy of this book is worth the investment (whether you buy it online or make the trip to Iowa's Living History Farms, which I also recommend! http://www.lhf.org/) ...more
This was an inspiring writing book overall. Great for aspiring writers looking for ideas, encouragement or "permission" to write. Those looking for puThis was an inspiring writing book overall. Great for aspiring writers looking for ideas, encouragement or "permission" to write. Those looking for publishing how-to advice might want a more recent book; because this was published in 1999, I felt that many of the ideas on breaking in were outdated. That said, it was interesting to read about Berg's story and how she herself broke in. ...more
Interesting biography of the man who inspired generations of conservationists. Fabulous research for my historical novel-in-progress about the Dust BoInteresting biography of the man who inspired generations of conservationists. Fabulous research for my historical novel-in-progress about the Dust Bowl....more
Inspiring and surprisingly funny, heartbreaking and painfully comforting... this book is a collection of essays by parents about raising kids with speInspiring and surprisingly funny, heartbreaking and painfully comforting... this book is a collection of essays by parents about raising kids with special needs.
My husband and I picked it up at the bookstore during one of our many quests for answers. Then the book sat in a pile waiting to be read for months. My husband finally picked it up and finished reading it in about three days. He let out a huge sigh, of relief, "Wow, we're not alone." It took me weeks to get through it, and perhaps an entire box of Kleenex. I let out many heavy sighs, of despair, "Wow, we're not alone." While my husband took comfort in knowing other parents share similar struggles, I found that fact to be somewhat depressing. Many times I set the book aside, vowing not to read one page more. A few days later, I would pick it up again, read just one more essay. I'm glad I finally finished the book; it comes full circle through a wide range of emotions, and it ends with acceptance and hope.
The book covers topics such as medication, schools, going public, the constant ups and downs, taking time for yourself. Anyone who is raising a special needs child should take a look. Many of the stories will make you cry - some tears of sorrow, some tears of joy. A few stories will make you angry. Nearly all will make you either nod your head in agreement as you read ("yes, that's so true") or shake your head in disgust ("ugh, that's so true"). If you know someone raising a child with special needs, this book provides insight and perspective that's hard to come by without walking in their shoes. ...more
Great insights and advice on how to manage (even embrace) your shyness, leverage your strengths and promote your writing in a way that feels comfortabGreat insights and advice on how to manage (even embrace) your shyness, leverage your strengths and promote your writing in a way that feels comfortable and right....more
This book provided great inspiration and insight for my current novel-in-progress, which has an environmental element.
It was actually published shortlThis book provided great inspiration and insight for my current novel-in-progress, which has an environmental element.
It was actually published shortly after the author died of a heart attack, in 1949. Leopold's life was cut far too short, and I can't help but wonder how much further America's conservation efforts might have evolved in the past 50 years had he lived longer. Many of his observations and warnings from the early part of the 1900s still ring true today. In that respect, this book was somewhat of a bittersweet read for me. I read his biography, A Fierce Green Fire, a couple of years ago, and this was a nice complement to that.
In this collection of essays about the land he loved, Leopold shared his views as a conservationist, scientist and observer of life in lovely, often literary, prose that surprised me and hit an emotional chord. His essay, Thinking Like a Mountain, brought a lump to my throat and an ache in my heart as he described how he once participated in the killing of wolves in his "conservation" work for the federal government, and how in doing so he learned what a great mistake and tragedy it was.
"Only the mountain has lived long enough to listen objectively to the howl of a wolf." ...more