I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. I guess I was expecting too much. The description sounded a lot like A Man Called Ove, which I absoluteI didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. I guess I was expecting too much. The description sounded a lot like A Man Called Ove, which I absolutely loved. Ove had a gruff exterior, but was a decent human being. Ferdinand had the same gruff exterior, but he could also be very vindictive. And while his dealings with one particular neighbor might have been justified, especially after we learn how devious she was, sometimes he was just plain mean for no good reason.
And while he does come around in the end, it didn't leave me all warm and fuzzy. We are meant to feel that the positive influences of Juliette and Beatrice caused him to soften, I can't help feeling that he was still being vindictive, trying to reclaim what he feels the mailman stole from him (which he - the mailman - totally didn't. He just filled in a void left wide open by Ferdinand himself).
(view spoiler)[ In the end, it was "the mailman" I felt sorry for. He was the one who truly loved those who were cast aside by Ferdinand, and he was the one who lost a beloved wife and companion, and a family when his late wife's daughter and grandson chose to move in with Ferdinand. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I really waffled between 3 and 4 stars, and in the end gave it the benefit of the doubt and went with the higher rating.
Libby takes a while to warm upI really waffled between 3 and 4 stars, and in the end gave it the benefit of the doubt and went with the higher rating.
Libby takes a while to warm up to. She's described as being bubbly and looking at the world through rose colored glasses, but I initially found her incredibly selfish. However, it's just a matter of perspective when measured against her husband, Tom's selfishness.
Ms. Pagan does a good job of taking a very serious subject (a very rare and especially aggressive form of cancer) and infusing it with humor to give us an enjoyable and highly readable story. In fact, that's probably what kept me from liking it more: it was too light for the subject matter.
But the thing that bothered me most about this book is that I wanted Tom to suffer more. Oh, how I wanted him to suffer. Because in the end, the Libby I had initially though so selfish let him off easy. I wanted him to be incapacitated by guilt....more
Totally predictable. I wish I could say there was one revelation that I didn't see coming, but there wasn't. I pretty much had it all figured out by 1Totally predictable. I wish I could say there was one revelation that I didn't see coming, but there wasn't. I pretty much had it all figured out by 1/3 of the way through the book. The only reason I kept reading was because I liked the characters (except for Ed - I absolutely loathed him) and I wanted to see how each characters' fate would be revealed.
Also, the whole prayer/faith aspect of the story was a little too heavy handed....more
Outstanding! If you watch The History Channel, you've probably had your fill of WWII documentaries and may think you've glanced on just about every asOutstanding! If you watch The History Channel, you've probably had your fill of WWII documentaries and may think you've glanced on just about every aspect of the war. Well, this book went into areas I never even thought of. How overnight Poles suddenly became Ukranians. What life was like in Moscow if you were a foreigner. How veterans from both sides of the Spanish revolution fared during the war.
It's a story of survival, and sacrifice, as in the parts of ourselves we need to sacrifice to maintain our sense of self in the face of unimaginable hardship and privation. In this story, we meet two Jewish Poles and follow them through their very different wartime experiences. Many reviewers have disliked Rita, and while I understand why, I also understand why she was the way she was. Up until very recently, there was no realistic way for an intelligent self-aware woman to live life on her terms. After being her parents' daughter for 18 years, Rita grasped at straws to become her own woman by going to law school, but could not fool herself into believing she would be allowed to be independent. So she did what just about all women did - sacrificed her "self" and went from being someone's daughter to being someone's wife. By today's standards, I am somewhat of a shrinking violet, but even I cannot fathom the despair so many women must have felt at knowing they'll never be anything more than someone's wife and someone's mother.
Then comes war, and she must forsake all she thought she would ever have just to survive. No one goes through war unchanged, certainly not Rita. She finds herself in a situation that many might find easy to condemn, (view spoiler)[and I'm not entirely certain the lesbian relationship really added anything to the story (hide spoiler)], but again, you do what you need to to keep your sanity.
And this book managed to do something no book that I can recall reading recently has done: it got me thinking philosophically. This book discussed themes of not just right and wrong/good and evil, but why is something right or good, and why is something wrong or evil - just the sort of thing that creates immense discomfort in the small-minded who believe what they believe and never bother wondering why.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
This wasn't bad. It's just that the book is written as a series of letters, for the most part to and from the central character, Juliet, with the occaThis wasn't bad. It's just that the book is written as a series of letters, for the most part to and from the central character, Juliet, with the occasional letter to her friend Sydney from another secondary character, and I don't particularly care for this style of writing. It really has to be a spectacular story (such as Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall) for me to get past my dislike of epistolary novels....more
I was provided with a free copy the ebook in exchange for my honest opinion of the book, so here it is.
Let me preface with sayin3.5 stars, rounded up.
I was provided with a free copy the ebook in exchange for my honest opinion of the book, so here it is.
Let me preface with saying that after reading it, I do not feel I am the target audience for this book. It's more of a new adult novel, and therefore geared toward a younger audience than me.
I'll start with the bad. I really had a hard time with the beginning of the book. First off, the central character, Via, suffered a major tragedy ten years earlier at the age of 11. As the story opens, she is celebrating her 21st birthday. She is presented as being reasonably well-adjusted considering what she had been through, and I had difficulty buying into her actions immediately after her birthday dinner, which set in motion the downward spiral as she counted down the 100 days from her birthday to the 10th anniversary of the tragedy.
My other problem with the story was when Via was presented with the opportunity of snorting coke. It was indicated she had tried it in college and didn't hate it. If she really was that maladjusted that she flew off the rails so easily, I don't think she would have remained just a casual user. It might have worked better if she'd never used, but then it would have required more of a buildup to lead to her first time (which probably would have worked better in illustrating her downward spiral).
However, once I got past what I felt was an awkward beginning, the rest of the story was fairly captivating. Despite being marketed as a dark, gritty story, it felt more like a romance with dark undertones, until about 2/3 of the way in when it really did get dark, and I felt the happy ending I was expecting start to slip away. I had planned on taking my time with this story, but as I got close to the end, I just couldn't put it down.
The story takes place in Seattle, and a couple of other major characters play in a 90s cover band. I absolutely LOVED all the musical references (Foo Fighters, Green Day, Bob Marley, and even Sheryl Crow). It always adds to my enjoyment of a story when an author creates a soundtrack for the story out of music I already like. ...more
This was Nick Hornby's first novel since Juliet Naked, which is one of my absolute favorite books, so I was fairly excited about finally getting my haThis was Nick Hornby's first novel since Juliet Naked, which is one of my absolute favorite books, so I was fairly excited about finally getting my hands on Funny Girl. (I even went so far as to order it from Amazon UK so I could read it well in advance of the US release date in February.)
Alas, my feelings toward it can best be summed up as "meh." The titular Barbara was likable enough, but the whole story read like a buildup toward a conflict that never came.
I was expecting a story about an aspiring comedienne who had to claw her way into the industry and then deal with stereotyping and prejudices in order to stay on top, and finally seeing what sort of compromises she would have to make regarding family life. That is not what Funny Girl is about. It's about a small town beauty queen who can't stomach the idea of life in a small town, so she ditches it and her beauty crown to see if she can make it in London. (view spoiler)[Once there, Barbara essentially had everything handed to her. (hide spoiler)]
It wasn't bad, it just was not at at all what I expected, and sadly too lackluster in comparison to what I thought it would be.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It wasn't bad. It was just totally unmemorable. The characters lacked depth and the narrative was not particularly compelling. I wonder if perhaps thiIt wasn't bad. It was just totally unmemorable. The characters lacked depth and the narrative was not particularly compelling. I wonder if perhaps this book has been marketed incorrectly. It might work better as a YA novel than a straight up historical novel.
There was a lot of potential, but the execution fell short. Part of the problem was in choosing to tell the story in the first person from the perspective of a naive 17 year old girl. More detailed stories of the grandparents and the great-uncle would have been nice.
Also, I'm not particularly knowledgeable about the Chinese uprising and how it affected neighboring countries, and this story did those events a huge disservice by casually glancing on it as it did. Again, more detail would have been nice in addition to far more depth to the character in question - his history, his family's history, his ambitions, motivations, how did his actions impact his friends and family back home?
Honestly, the more I think about The Moonlight Palace, the more irritated I get at how little it actually told me....more
I haven't read science fiction in over 20 years. I haven't read serious science fiction since my senior year in high school when I was required to reaI haven't read science fiction in over 20 years. I haven't read serious science fiction since my senior year in high school when I was required to read Clarke, Bradbury and Orwell. The Martian was a good reintroduction.
I thought it was well written, and found Mark Watney likable and relate-able. It's a relatively short and easy read, and very compelling. I had meant to take my time with it and read it over the course of a week, but just couldn't put it down and in between activities of daily living, finished it in 3 1/2 days. As I read, I found the whole premise of a Mars voyage entirely plausible as presented in the book (every scenario is explained in detail), and I couldn't help wondering, why aren't we working on making this happen? (Is my utterly dismal understanding of science and mathematics showing?)
I can't wait for the movie, even though I do wish they'd gone the indie route, something like Moon, but I'm not going to knock Matt Damon. I think he'll be spot-on as Mark Watney....more
I love the idea of second chances later in life, especially when it involves the one that got away. So I should have loved this book.2 1/2 rounded up.
I love the idea of second chances later in life, especially when it involves the one that got away. So I should have loved this book. Except that I didn't.
There was one thing that kept me from loving this book: I just didn't get Glenna. She claimed to love Gordon, but sent him packing for no apparent reason. She hated the work she did at her friend's clinic, but passed on Woodstock so she could stay in town and do more work. Every time she baited Gordon, every fight she had with him had me asking, "Why would she do that to him? If she loves him as madly as she claims, why would she act like that?"
And because I didn't get Glenna, by default I didn't get Gordon, who was so blindly in love with her that 30 some odd years after having his heart torn out by her, as he was going through the greatest emotional trauma he had ever suffered since said heartbreak (personally I would rank the second one much worse), he decides to look her up. He seemed to have moved on and, in my opinion, had a more emotionally satisfying life than Glenna. I understand that she had been the one great love of his life, but why anyone want to reconnect with someone so irrational, especially after finding out about the nature of Glenna's "rebound" relationship? That should have been devastating enough to the ego to never EVER want to look back.
(view spoiler)[Not to mention that I would have been suicidal if I'd ended up like Glenna: a widow, alone because I'd rejected the one man I'd ever been passionately in love with, and later knowing that I'd passed up my only chance at motherhood when I threw away his unborn child - this was just too depressing to dwell on. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more