I decided to give this one 4 stars because I so much enjoyed the character Alessandra, the history, the events of the city and the swirl of life there...moreI decided to give this one 4 stars because I so much enjoyed the character Alessandra, the history, the events of the city and the swirl of life there. I was disappointed with how the story diminished Alessandra at the end to the extent that it made me truly sad and, without giving away the ending, I found the actions of the people she most loved contemptible. (less)
I can see why a lot of people liked the book. I would not recommend it as a favorite of mine. I thought that the story was overly salacious to the poi...moreI can see why a lot of people liked the book. I would not recommend it as a favorite of mine. I thought that the story was overly salacious to the point that I thought it contrived primarily for the sake of storytelling and that it had almost nothing to do with history. I also think it rendered the plot more simplistic than it must have been to exist in that political and personal environment. In other words - 1. If you hit me in the head with a twoXfour expect me to disengage. 2. There is no way to pretend this had anything to do with history other than names and some dates. (less)
I think I'm about full up with the tragic queen books but I really liked this one and I think the author did a great job sorting through the hyperbole...moreI think I'm about full up with the tragic queen books but I really liked this one and I think the author did a great job sorting through the hyperbole and presenting us with a living breathing human being who had a great impact on history. I actually don't even feel inclined to choose between bereft or mad. Although it sounds weird I identified with so many of the elements of this story and with Juana. In the end I think the pain she suffered was so great and then to add upon it the tried and true element of character assassination which is to attack sanity. Within an overall conspiracy it renders the victim powerless to speak against it and every attempt simply escalates the presentation. There is also nothing that sticks quite so well and strips a person of their dignity to boot. I found it heartbreaking and especially at the end even though I had guessed what would happen. It is a book that I will remember. The people who did this to her did not need a degree in psychology from a University to know how to accomplish this psychological torture in the 1500's. And the isolation was an important element of it and she would have never slept well again when they snuck in and took that last shred of life she still had - her youngest daughter.(less)
I rely on the GoodReads overview in my personal reviews. There is so much historical fiction and so many books about women in them I am left with all t...moreI rely on the GoodReads overview in my personal reviews. There is so much historical fiction and so many books about women in them I am left with all the usual things to say about why this is a good book of historical fiction. It is also a book that I intend to seek out a hardcover edition to keep in my personal collection. When I had a few hours and was considering what I would do with them I was delighted to recall I was in the middle of this book and could do that. I genuinely liked Joan and wanted so much for her and she accomplished so much. Her strength of character and integrity are charming. I think the author demonstrated a real respect for Joan in presenting her as a recipient of God's grace in her intelligence, wit and destiny without ever separating her from others because of it that I thought was really nice. She was real. She was special. And no matter who thought what theology she was loved by the God she loved. I don't think you even have to be a christian to appreciate this not outright spoken element of this book. And in the end she was very much a woman and very much human and all these things together made this a great story.(less)
My rating may be affected by things other than the book itself. I have not read any of the Twilight books but they are my daughters favorites. One of...moreMy rating may be affected by things other than the book itself. I have not read any of the Twilight books but they are my daughters favorites. One of my daughters is living far away at the moment and though it would be fun to read this together so I started reading it. When we talked last week she had raced ahead and finished the book so I just finished it. I really liked it. Every time I thought I had figured out what was going to happen I hadn't. I had read this was more for adults but my overall impression was that this book was definitely for girls but it is a very good story and good stories are good at any age. The characters were great. The story was great. And although it did not get into any kind of deep examination of what it is to be human it really did skim along in important ways that were very entertaining. I recommend this book. Oh, and I needlessly worried that I would encounter scenes in the book that would embarrass me to talk about with my daughter. Thank you.(less)
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent reading this book. The story takes place in an Italian convent Santa Catarina in the year 1570. This is a time...moreI thoroughly enjoyed every moment spent reading this book. The story takes place in an Italian convent Santa Catarina in the year 1570. This is a time when up to half of all young noblewomen became nuns because the price of wedding dowries soared and most noble families could afford to marry only one daughter. At this time the convents were also afflicted as the dictates of the reformation begin to purge and impose on the nunneries a regime of greater oppression. The reformation is often on the minds of the characters in this book and it affects their actions and decisions as they ponder how best to protect what little freedoms they have it is truly remarkable to see how these ladies act as a group and as individuals with focus on their daily activities and concerns. Most were there because they were infirm and there were no other choices for them but many were there because they were forced to be. The routine was strict and the community harsh in many ways. The portraits of these women were exquisite. They were each forced into tiny space for their humanity and had to form themselves to it and relate. They were often a personal reflection of the harshness and suffered terribly and just as often still managed to reach out and care about and for one another. Still, after years of rigidity and oppression and one of these ladies had managed to preserve enough of own individuality to respond to the distress of a young girl. I just thought it was great. (less)
He lost me on this one. There was a section about 3/4 of the way through that had me flipping the pages but the rest of it kind of droned on. Lots of...moreHe lost me on this one. There was a section about 3/4 of the way through that had me flipping the pages but the rest of it kind of droned on. Lots of new characters but none of them really developed and I did not care for them or care about them. In particular, what was the deal with the new girlfriend? I wonder if I am the only one that wondered what on earth she was doing in the story that way. There was no development of her or the relationship and it irritated me. There was some obvious mopping up of the loose ends that took up much of the end of the book and I could have cared less. As is often the case in books in a series I suspect I was in the same boat as the author on this one "Are we there yet?" That said; It was not at all believable to me that two people who tried to kill each other would be on the same floor of the hospital and especially when under high security one is hobbling around trying to finish the job without anyone being aware. Suspenseful;yes. Ridiculous;absolutely. Kind of insulting. (less)
I read this book about 5 years ago. It has been far to long for me to make have any kind of specific commentary but I remember this story. I think tha...moreI read this book about 5 years ago. It has been far to long for me to make have any kind of specific commentary but I remember this story. I think that is saying quite a lot. I do not always recall stories I read that long ago with such clarity. I also remember that I really liked the courtesan who was the main character and also the dwarf. (less)
I liked this book but liked the first one better. The ending to this one was pretty spectacular. The first book had an excellent mystery in addition t...moreI liked this book but liked the first one better. The ending to this one was pretty spectacular. The first book had an excellent mystery in addition to the suspense. I didn't quite feel the mystery in this one and thought that overall the characters were getting somewhat superficial as somehow motive for a positive outcome/resolution was lost. I gave it a 4 as a follow up to The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo and because of the ending. Otherwise I would have given it a 3.(less)
It was such a great story I was sure I was going to give it a 5. Then I entered the last 1/4 of the book and realized what a despicable person authore...moreIt was such a great story I was sure I was going to give it a 5. Then I entered the last 1/4 of the book and realized what a despicable person authored the book and gave it one star. I thoroughly enjoyed both the science, dilemmas, and human aspects of the story and I am very sorry it was not told by someone who was decent. Although feigning objectivity throughout it was obvious by the end that it was anything but. This author took advantage of this family for financial gain in a way much worse than any scientific research company. She spent an extensive amount of time convincing them they should trust her and she was on their side. -This was largely an biography of Deborah; and unbeknownst to her. She should have been compensated as such. The author told Deborah that she could not compensate her and would have to set up a scholarship fund for her instead. Deborah believed her because she trusted her and it did not occur to her that Rebecca Skloot had no right to decide that this family could not decide how to spend their money themselves and also figure out how to compensate them. -On page 267 she wrote her observations of Henrietta's sister Glady's upon having been invited into her private residence. Glady's was wheelchair bound and it was stated she was crippled by arthritis to the point that her chest was resting nearly on her knees. When the people came into the room this old woman trapped in a wheelchair is reported to have had her nightgown up around her waist and struggling to pull it down. Rebecca Skloot chose to forever strip her of the dignity she was desperately attempting to preserve by relating it in detail. Utterly despicable. -The accounts of Deborah's erratic behavior became lengthy and actually tedious the last 1/4 of the book. (It is an example of her lack of objectivity and there are many.) It is obvious the author meant to portray her in this way at that time. Rebecca Skloot was hanging on until she got Deborah to give her Henrietta's medical records. At this part of the book Deborah had given them to her and had nothing more she desired and her relating of her 'object' changed. -She accomplished nothing in pursuing these people in such an extreme way but her own profits. In the end the statement of one of the Lack's men was identical to what it had always been. They still did not know why they could not even afford health care if HELA had done so much to revolutionize healthcare and they wanted to educate their children in these matters so they would not be hurt like they were. (others pursuing them because Henrietta is HELA) There is no reason on Gods green earth why the Lacks cannot have those very reasonable things. Perhaps Ms. Skloot would like to see to it that happens starting with the profits from this book. -I cannot stand what this author did to Deborah in the end. She related such deeply personal details about Deborah's state of health and mental health that support much of the hyperbole already surrounding this family that it is she they should sue. -She violated the trust of Deborah in disclosing the personal medical records of her little sister. This was apparently an enormous struggle and the author relates extensive distressed conversation with Deborah extracting promises not to tell. She gave just as many extensive promises that she would not. Instead she related that young people institutionalized there were not separated by age or sex and that they endured sexual abuse. It is easy to figure out what Deborah was trying to protect her little sister and her dignity about. Ms. Skloot decided to violate that agreement as well as the trust of Deborah and trick her. Despicable.(less)
The main character in this book is Dr. Marina Singh who is a research scientist with a pharmaceutical company. She is sent to the Amazon to investigat...moreThe main character in this book is Dr. Marina Singh who is a research scientist with a pharmaceutical company. She is sent to the Amazon to investigate the mysterious death of a fellow scientist. After finishing the book I read the reviews of others and many have the same opinion that I do except that it did not bother me that Dr. Singh seemed far to wishy washy in her personal life. Many people are and I did not find that unbelievable. What I could not stand was what she did to that boy at the end. I didn't even care that she had no choice when it happened. What idiot puts a small boy in that position? Now that I could not believe. It still rankles me and I finished the book 2 days ago. She has no protective/maternal instincts and should not have any children.
Other than that I enjoyed the book. It was great to read something that had good mystery that did not involve the yanking out if eyeballs or tongues and cops, robbers and lawyers. In the end some humanity was bestowed on Dr. Swenson and removed from Dr. Marina Singh but it was an awkward balance and not easily perceived. There was a bit of thought provoking content. The end was abrupt and seemed to do little but set up for an additional book. I never like that.
I think that the next book will involve Marina returning to the jungle. It didn't seem she really belonged at the end. Dr. Swenson will probably die and the research will be carried on by Marian with any number of dilemmas possible. It will probably involve the Hummocca coming upon the mushrooms that Dr. Singh dumped over the edge of the boat and either cultivating them or making their way to the Lakshi and wiping them out. And if there is any justice she will have to face that boy again when he is older! (less)
I liked the characters and how it ended. I thought it was a great outcome for characters that I had come to like. I did not have to suffer any sense o...moreI liked the characters and how it ended. I thought it was a great outcome for characters that I had come to like. I did not have to suffer any sense of outrage or injustice when it was over and I was not in the mood, so thanks to the author for that. I think sometimes they just love to leave a permanent scar on their readers. On the other hand it was not a real page turner and it took me some time to get through but that's ok too. I liked it enough that I put The Corrections on my reading list.(less)
I less than one star "didn't like it". I think it is one of the worst books I have ever read. There was a list of about 150 holds at the library and I...moreI less than one star "didn't like it". I think it is one of the worst books I have ever read. There was a list of about 150 holds at the library and I had heard very good things. Wow. Is it one of the Oprah recommendation things? This book stunk. It is such a good idea and I think could have been remarkable. The baby talk set my teeth on edge and I felt insulted that she did not bother to do research about it. There is no way a child who had only spoken to an adult in their lives would speak like that among other truly irritating aspects of the baby jargon. 321 relentless pages of it! So much of what could have been an excellent story was lost to it. She would often launch into these ridiculous details that just insulted me, such as the boy thought the grass was sharp and was surprised it did not cut him. The kid watched the nature channel for heavens sake. His world! What are the chances? The author often seemed so wrapped up in relating these cutesy things I could feel her attending to herself doing it and being cutesy herself. A disservice to the story. All 321 relentless pages of it. I absolutely hated the "getting some" remark. Also relentless. Does she live on the moon? Everyone knows what getting some means. Described to the point of breast side preference and consistency preference based on side offered. I was really offended. And breast milk is not creamy. I just cringed every time she launched into it. And the "getting some" did not make it seem cute and innocent. It made the author seem a nutjob. So I am reading along and making the best of it so I figure she continued because it was nutritional insurance for the boy and it was also birth control. But first thing after the escape she is noticed nursing this enormous mammal and the author relates that she kind of grinned and said "there wasn't a reason to stop". Yukkers. I liked the escape and I am glad they got out and all but I really hated it. I never bought it though. I would have taken "meltedy spoon" and gouged out his eye/s when he was asleep or on top of me and made him open the bloody door. Seven years was to long without an attempt. Alone maybe due to languishing but I do not believe it with a child and under those circumstances. Oh, that reminds me (this could go on for hours);why on earth would that boy think a metal eating utensil was sharp and would cut him? He knew what silverware was and had handled it. It was lazy. It was not well researched. The story was lost in cutesy land. The author has no heart or guts and neither did the book. God help me I finished and finally free!! (less)