**spoiler alert** ***SPOILERS*** A happy ending? Perhaps the ending was the biggest twist to the book. Author Gillian Flynn takes on the momentous tas**spoiler alert** ***SPOILERS*** A happy ending? Perhaps the ending was the biggest twist to the book. Author Gillian Flynn takes on the momentous task of creating the perfect murder and disappearance. Or is it a murder? If you’ve read the dustcover of the book, you know that Amy disappears on the morning of hers and Nick’s Fifth Anniversary. She definitely disappears; and all clues lead to Nick, presenting him as the awful, cheating, louse and slob of a husband he has become. Clues left behind paint Nick as a cheating husband who used his wife’s trust fund to open up a bar, which doesn’t keep him from abusing her or trying to kill her. But who is committing the real crime in this story?
Just as so many highly-reported murders go, so goes this story. We have the representations of the perfect grieving parents, the incompetent small-town cops, the slick big city defense attorney, and the morally outraged avenging tv host who makes her living off of abused, dead women (Nancy Grace, folks?). But you also have the perfect, PERFECT victim: Amy of the Amazing Amy children’s stories. She is so amazing it’s hard to believe she’s real… or really a sociopath who loves to punish those that do not see her greatness.
This mystery had so many twists and turns I could scarcely put the book down. Flynn did an incredible (I almost said amazing) job of making absolutely incontrovertible crimes in a story within a story, and created a person within a person…....more
This is not my favorite style of writing. That being said, there are parts of the book that were not only beautiful, but that carried me along on a riThis is not my favorite style of writing. That being said, there are parts of the book that were not only beautiful, but that carried me along on a river of images. Woolf's prose is mainly comprised of what we would now call "word clouds," or as I like to think specifically in her case "phrase clouds." That isn't necessarily bad. I know I just said it's not my favorite kind of writing, but I was willing to try it and see where it lead. I really wanted to see how Woolf handled action by use of these "phrase clouds." The action, or events in this book are neatly tucked into the ongoing stream-of-consciousness of all of the characters. The way the novel is written, you feel that all of the characters are inextricably bound together. At times, Woolf moves seamlessly from character to character; at other times I felt like I was a little lost as to when she transitioned into the thoughts of the next person.
I had heard of this book a long time ago, but never had the time or motivation to read it. A curiosity about Virginia Woolf compelled me to take this on a trip with me and finally resolve the questions I had about her as a writer. I know some have called her an early feminist author. I don't know about that, except that she does give the women she creates definite personalities. For that time, perhaps, that was feminism to give them real feelings and thoughts, instead of being acceptably agreeable all of the time.
Woolf's portrayal of Septimus' mental illness, which most certainly was PTSD after WWI, is scary. It has been said by other writers that she was able to write so well on the subject of how he thought and how he was treated by care-givers due to her own bouts of mental illness. It certainly is a sympathetic treatment and an eye-opener. I found her passages regarding him to be the most interesting. The other description that I have found that has stayed with me is of her silver green mermaid dress that she would wear to this all-encompassing party she was planning. I keep thinking about that and visualizing what it it must have looked like. Overall, an intriguing novel....more
I am sitting in stunned silence after having finished Lincoln. Author Gore Vidal handled the end of the President's life in a powerful, yet poignant wI am sitting in stunned silence after having finished Lincoln. Author Gore Vidal handled the end of the President's life in a powerful, yet poignant way. Even though the ending of this chapter of history and his life, are all too well-known, the manner in which events were presented casts it in a new and thoughtful light.
The last 400 pages flew. Even though I am very familiar with the main players of the Civil War, this book surprised me with its characterizations; all-too human in their vices and flaws, and sometimes annoying or pitiable. Vidal states in an Afterword that the main characters are all reconstructed from "letters, journals, newspapers, diaries, etc." The research that went into those individuals must have been staggering.
At the very end of the book, a main character is asked where he would place Mr. Lincoln amongst American Presidents; he places Lincoln at the very top, above Washington. When queried about why he was greater than Washington, the character replies (and I paraphrase) that the Southern states had the Constitutional right to secede from the Union, but it was Lincoln who said no, and took the "terrible responsibility" for waging what at that time was the greatest war in human history to put the Union back together again. After reading this book, I would have to agree.
Vidal's prose is easy to read; what is difficult at the start is sorting out all of the primary and secondary characters that are introduced. Keeping track of which general did what in which battle can take a little time, but it is well worth it. By the time you are in the last third of the book, the story flies by. What a memorable novel....more
I saw this book on NPR's Best Books of 2013 list. Usually I don't care about lists, but the brief description caught my attention. This is an innovat I saw this book on NPR's Best Books of 2013 list. Usually I don't care about lists, but the brief description caught my attention. This is an innovative story in that the main character speaks from multiple points of view. Justice of Toren, a 2,000 year-old troop-carrying starship is the main character. To make it even more interesting, it narrates mainly from two viewpoints: either as the ship, or as Breq, the Artificial Intelligence ("AI") of Justice of Toren trapped in a single female body. How can that be? Well, the story also involves two main timelines: when Justice of Toren was a starship, and the other when it's AI inhabits only the body of a lone-surviving ancillary soldier of the ship. If this isn't confusing enough, the ancillary cannot tell the difference most of the time between human males and females so it uses the preferred pronouns of the empire it serves, which happen to be female.
The stories of Breq and Justice of Toren unfold individually, joining as you realize what happened to the ship over 1,000 years ago in an act of treachery. You also find that the body of Breq is referred to as a "corpse soldier," a tool that the empire once used in it's rapidly expanding territories: as worlds were annexed, approximately half of the population would be taken, frozen, and kept on troop carrying starships. When needed, they were defrosted and were taken over by the artificial intelligence of that ship. Thus the corpse soldiers, or ancillaries, could be directed to serve the human lieutenants and captain. The ship could maintain complete control over the troops as well as total vigilance, being in a thousand places at once.
This is the basis of the story. From this point the story continues on but the main discussions seem to revolve around what it means to be human, what it means to be alive, and what happens when authority splinters and battles itself. There are certainly other issues to be considered as author Leckie weaves in many philosophical points of civilization vs. the "uncivilized."
This was an interesting and different storyline for science fiction. I look forward to the next book in the series. ...more
A short, but elegant play which engages the reader with verbal fencing and subterfuge between the main characters. The psychological duel between Dr. A short, but elegant play which engages the reader with verbal fencing and subterfuge between the main characters. The psychological duel between Dr. Greenberg and psychiatric patient Michael Aleen will keep you fascinated, and ultimately will pull you down the road to the wrong conclusion. The cryptic contributions by nurse Miss Peterson won't help you sort out what's really happening either. At 56 pages, I sat down and read the entire play all at once. If you like writing that keeps you thinking and engrossed in the story, this is for you.
I became aware of this play after reading a news release on the internet that it was about to become a movie, with filming starting in November 2013 in Montreal. The announced cast members are Bruce Greenwood, Catherine Keener, Carrie-Ann Moss, and Xavier Dolan. I'm not sure how the play will be expanded, but I look forward to seeing it on the big screen. ...more
This is another novel of the Tudor era set in the court of King Henry VIII. It is innovative in that it is from the viewpoint of Lady Margaret Pole, aThis is another novel of the Tudor era set in the court of King Henry VIII. It is innovative in that it is from the viewpoint of Lady Margaret Pole, a member of the former ruling family of England, the Plantagenets. It begins during the reign of Henry VII and introduces us to Arthur, Prince of Wales and his younger brother Henry, who would later become Henry VIII. What is also somewhat unique is the bitter tone of the narrative. It is so bitter in the beginning of the book that it is grating on the reader. Also grating, is author Philippa Gregory’s (PG) insistence upon repeatedly emphasizing the family connections of every single character. It is as if PG assumes that her readers are too incompetent to remember (or know in the first place) who everyone is. I didn’t need to read “…my cousin, the queen…” over and over again. Although I was interested in learning about Margaret Pole, Countess Salisbury, there were many reasons why I nearly put this book down and not finish it.
Much of PG’s writing consists of long, run-on, excessively compounded sentences. One is found at the bottom of page 225: “His sister Margaret, the Dowager Queen of Scotland, now sees the husband that she chose for love has turned into her enemy, and she wants to replace him in the country, and some say in her bed, with the Duke of Albany, her rival regent.” The whole book is like this which makes it fatiguing to read.
Some of the sentences were even more confusing and hardly befitting a “New York Times Bestselling Author,” as noted on the front cover. Take this example on page 255: “She is to marry either the French king, or his second son, a little boy of seven years, the duc d’Orleans, so a completely disorganized and inadequate plan.” What is inadequate in this case is the writing and the editing of this book. It appears that Simon & Schuster was in a hurry to cash in on previous popular novels by PG and the resulting Starz tv shows.
Other reviewers have criticized PG’s portrayal of certain historical characters in the novel, of them mainly Jane, Lady Rochford. PG characterizes her as a sneaky, nasty character who “sent her husband and her sister-in-law to the gallows.” I have to agree with those other reviewers that there is nothing in the historical record of which I am aware that that is accurate. I also stopped and wondered about a character named Gervais Tyndale whom Margaret Pole worries has carried tales of treason by the Pole family to Thomas Cromwell. I am aware of William Tyndale and the Tyndale Bible from a slightly earlier period; is Gervais Tyndale a real person or a made-up character? PG certainly has the right to make up a secondary character. It just put a “bump” in the road of my reading.
I have to note that PG’s mention of terriers for hunting rabbits is accurate according to other sources, as well as her mention that one male character had a handgun. Today I looked at drawings of European handguns from earlier than the time noted in the text: a Medieval “handgun” from 1400 Hungary, a matchlock from 1450 Germany, and a wheel-lock from 1550 Italy. It is possible that a member of such a wealthy court had a handgun of some sort in his possession.
There are also very few descriptions in this novel. The most notable was the description of Katherine of Aragon’s hair as bronze. I wish there had been a few more as the overall picture painted by the text was lacking.
Over all, I was interested in Margaret Pole, Countess Salisbury, but appalled by the poor writing in The King’s Curse. I read this book as it was the one selected by The Tudor History Book Club on Goodreads, but I really cannot recommend it. ...more
Many reviewers focus on what they see as a bizarre, unequal, and abusive relationship between the main protaganists billionaire business man Christia Many reviewers focus on what they see as a bizarre, unequal, and abusive relationship between the main protaganists billionaire business man Christian Grey and recent college graduate, Anastasia (Ana) Steele. She did say yes to everything that happens in the story and could have left at any time. So she's naive, gullible, starstruck... or just plain dumb. Many women don't have alot of experience with men when in college; she may have been naive in the first few chapters but she progressed into being obsessed by him. And Christian? Why yes, he has a number of personal problems, money not being one of them. While the furor broke through the literate ranks about Ana's subservient role in what has been called an abusive and even sick relationship, I kept calling the book "Fifty Shades of Bad Writing" to friends. The plot was somewhat inconsequential; my impression of it was that it was a cross between an old Harlequin Romance and Hustler magazine. If Ana only had huge eyes and a heart-shaped face, this could have qualified as a Barbra Cartland Romance. Well, maybe if you vigorously scrubbed out all of the deviant sex.
The author's website says that E.L. James is a former tv executive from London. I have a two-part hypothesis about the character of Christian Grey: 1) The author put together what she thinks is a particularly hot man with problems that she would love to solve and found somebody to publish the fantasy; and 2) The author figured out a way to slap together a three-part story that clearly has its roots in the TV mini-series, complete with cliff-hanger and sold the idea to a publisher. It's pure formula.
It was the writing and the total lack of fact-checking that really disgusted me. The first big mistake that I saw was that Ana calls her roommate's Mercedes a "Merc." That's fair in Europe or the UK, but Ana is in Vancouver, Washington, and says later in the book that she hasn't been outside of the U.S. (page 46). Being a long-time Merc owner, this really slapped me across the face. That is, when I finished the incredible run-on sentence that euphemistically could be referred to as the second paragraph. EDITOR FAIL. There are so many things that an editor should have caught in this book that I don't think I have room for them all.
"Laters, baby!" You've got to be kidding. Skeezy, to borrow a slang term. How about this gem: "He jerks her ponytail back, 'It's only just not painful.'" Yes, but that sentence certainly is. Or "NDA." You mean "non-disclosure agreement?" I'm not aware of attorneys or business people throwing around that jargon because it smacks of self-importance and sounds STUPID.
The conversation with Air Traffic Control was so incredibly inaccurate! NO ONE gets on the air and says "P-D-X." They say "Portland Tower." That is to avoid confusion with another tower on the same frequency. Also, Christian doesn't preflight his helicopter before he takes it out; unbelievable. Or this bon mot, "[I]t's equipped for night flight." Ummm, they're all equipped for night flight, genius. A fixed-wing or rotary aircraft may not be equipped for instrument flight. Nice try, it's obvious you don't know how to fly. Glad that was cleared up so spectacularly. "PDX to call..." what the hell does that mean? Christian also says "...over and out..." to Seattle Control, ostensibly the tower. Was that from a WWII movie? Nobody has said that in decades. Ditto for having Seattle Tower say "...over." Really? And as mentioned above, the author got the registration wrong for the helicopter. Why would a US based business use a helicopter registered in Canada for flying around the US? That was a stupid mistake.
The sex contract? *YAWN* It was a crutch to expand the story. On pg 104 (Kindle) the contract says 7 hours of sleep; on pg 171 it says 8 hrs. I thought she didn't want to obey the rules on that so how did it get increased? On pg 175 she describes it as a "bloody contract." That might be fair if she's reading a lot of English novels, but I don't think most of those classics have the word "bloody" in them.
"Well this has full wireless N...." I think he's talking about a Mac since he mentions a "Me" account. So is he trying to say the laptop itself has it's own wireless network? The phrasing is atrocious. The author writes about Ana's feelings as "deer/headlights, moth/flame, bird/snake." How about describing the overall quality of the book as "trash/dumpster?" Her Subconscious and her Inner Goddess. Really unnecessary crutches in the narrative that became increasingly annoying with time. Crap, double crap, and jeez. All jarring while reading the text. Get the author (and the editor) a thesaurus. Some of the emails were entertaining, but overall, it seemed like another way to get out of writing a decent narrative.
Some of the story was humorous, such as on pg 397, "I gaze at my mom. She is on her fourth marriage. Maybe she does know something about men after all." ARE YOU KIDDING ME? It sounds like she doesn't have a clue. And, they have unprotected sex fairly soon after Ana starts on the mini-pill. Not funny at all. Just because she's having her period doesn't mean she can't get pregnant at this point.
Oh, and the sex? Gross and disturbing at times. But not as disturbing as the writing. (Ok, it's not fair to compare the sex to the writing; the writing is far worse.)
This is a novel of World War II as experienced by two British young people: Saba Tarcan, a half-Welsh half-Turkish singer recruited to sing for the t This is a novel of World War II as experienced by two British young people: Saba Tarcan, a half-Welsh half-Turkish singer recruited to sing for the troops, and Dominic Benson, an English RAF pilot. The two meet when Saba sings for a hospital burn ward in which Dom is recovering; the story continues when Saba defies her father to accept an invitation to audition for ENSA in London and Dom and Saba meet again. As Saba is sent to Cairo to begin her performance tour through the desert, Dom arranges to be assigned to fly out of bases in the same area. A mutual interest gradually develops into a romance simultaneously as the action continues through Alexandria and Turkey.
This was a well-written book that was easy to read. Gregson includes a tremendous amount of 1940's detail that adds but never detracts from the story. Exquisite descriptions of makeup, haircolor products, and clothing, to bustling street scenes and time spent by off-duty pilots and entertainers created an ongoing visual as good as any top-rated motion picture. The characters that inhabit this book are well-rounded and three-dimensional; none become the easy stereotype of being all-good or all-bad. They suffer from regrets, self-doubt, bad tempers, and other character flaws but continue to breath life into the storyline.
I have no problem recommending this book and would call it a "novel" and not a "romance." I look forward to reading Gregson's other novels.
Author Sandra Byrd tells the tale of Kateryn (Katherine) Parr, last wife of King Henry VIII, through the eyes os fictional character Juli **Spoilers**
Author Sandra Byrd tells the tale of Kateryn (Katherine) Parr, last wife of King Henry VIII, through the eyes os fictional character Juliana St. John. The story opens in Marlborough, England in 1542 introducing Mistress St. John as the educated daughter of a deceased knight who also had a prosperous shipping business. Juliana has religious beliefs and opinions that veer into the area of "reformed" thought, particularly in the area of the ability of women to read and preach the gospel. She is 18 and not particularly worldly though not uneducated. Enter Thomas Seymour who meets her and finds her to be a potentially well-suited companion to his love, the Lady Latimer (Kateryn Parr). After Lord Latimer dies of a protracted illness, King Henry VIII courts and proposes to Kateryn, making her his sixth and final queen. This is a time of stormy religious upheaval, with the life of the queen and other religious reformers literally at the whim of an ailing and cantankerous king.
I appreciated Ms. Byrd's writing in the language and style of the time period; it was actually interesting and relatively easy to read. I'm not an expert on the linguistics of the mid-16th Century, but from reading quite a bit of history in that time-frame I believe she is fairly accurate. I was concerned about reading yet another book about Henry VIII's doomed six wives, but this book held my attention more and more as I progressed. It's obvious that Ms. Byrd has spent quite a bit of time researching the Tudors, as well as the 16th Century (I put most of her reference list on my Goodreads to-read list). The attention to detail was just right; I was able to picture the textures and colors of the gowns and other items without those descriptions overwhelming the narrative. I also found the religious detail to be interesting, germane to the story, and not extraneous. More I think would have detracted from the story which is centered upon Juliana St. John and her position and relationship with Queen Kateryn. Ms. Byrd also introduces the reader to the little told tale of Mary Seymour, daughter of Queen Kateryn and Thomas Seymour.
Overall, this was a compelling book because of the danger posed by the Queen's views on the reformation of religion in England, and this in turn involved and endangered the main character, Juliana. This drove the storyline more and more as the book progressed and provided the necessary tension to keep the reader coming back. As this is based in fact, it is a marvel that the Queen felt so compelled by a belief system that could have resulted in torture and a painful death for her. I was also fascinated by the mystery of Mary Seymour; how could the cousin of the king disappear?
**Spoilers** **I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway**
This was an excellent book that really made me think. Michelle Cohen Corasanti has crafte**Spoilers** **I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway**
This was an excellent book that really made me think. Michelle Cohen Corasanti has crafted a captivating story about what happened to the people already living on the lands that became Israel after World War II. There are no lofty references to ancient history or Biblical Israel to make an argument for or against the formation of modern-day Israel; instead, this is a very down-to-earth, practical tale that shows the effects of unfair government policies and horrendous military behavior on a Palestinian family.
This story focuses on Ichmad Hamid, the son of a wealthy family that owns an orange grove in Palestine in the 1950s. Ichmad is a mathematical genius who is the pride of his artist and musician father, a very enlightened and moderate person. As the story progresses, the youngest daughter is blown up by an Israeli Army planted landmine. They are not allowed to bury her immediately in accordance with their religion, but instead must wait days to receive a burial permit. The family is moved off of their lands. The orange groves are given to Jewish settlers; Ichmad's family is saddened and confused but not enraged. On Ichmad's 12th birthday, his father is arrested and taken to a horribly run prison for a crime he didn't commit. The family's house is demolished. More awful things happen to the family and their village. Work is impossible to find as Jewish people generally do not hire Palestinians. Travel permits to see his father in prison take the stamina of a marathoner to get. Throughout all of this, Ichmad remembers his father's teachings and does not give in to utter hatred. In the end, it is that ability to simply endure and not hate that rewards Ichmad with a hard-won education and success. Ichmad's ability to accept and embrace the Jewish people around him further rewards him with a life-long friendship with his Jewish physics professor and research partner. This is contrasted with his brother, who does give in to his hatred of the Jews. The analogy of Abbas shows how we all lose when we hate instead of reasoning and talking to others, even those who oppress either inadvertently or intentionally.
This might be taken as an anti-Israel or anti-Jewish book at first glance. But that is the impression only of those who do not take the time to actually read the book. The author's stance is far from being anti-anything, except anti-hate and anti-violence. Far from simple condemnation of the Israeli government, the author seems to point toward a condemnation of sweeping policies enacted and enforced without thought, and absolute power without check in the hands of young military personnel. There are good and bad Jewish people, as well as good and bad Palestinians. Some of the characters have noticeable gradations of both. Ichmad's inner struggles were interesting and realistic, but sometimes I wanted just a little more character development of everyone. I think some more gray areas in the characters of all would have been a little more realistic.
Overall, this was a very well written novel. The prose was articulate and graceful, the descriptions were detailed enough to paint a thorough picture in my mind of the surroundings and clothing without engulfing the characters or dialog. And the dialog was interesting and realistic. Finally, the author's background and previous experience residing in Israel do give her credence. I have already recommended this book to others.