While I generally love Lehane's writing, I was exhausted by the implausible, convoluted plot twists with this book and thoroughly dissatisfied with thWhile I generally love Lehane's writing, I was exhausted by the implausible, convoluted plot twists with this book and thoroughly dissatisfied with the ending. Amanda should have been allowed to stay with the Doyles....more
I'm not focusing on the summary here. There are 50,000 other reviews for that. I want to address impressions. The Book Thief is one of those rare caseI'm not focusing on the summary here. There are 50,000 other reviews for that. I want to address impressions. The Book Thief is one of those rare cases where I enjoyed the movie ten times more than the book. For starters, the movie casting was fantastic. Secondly, the plot unfolded in a linear fashion. The book did not. Initially I liked that the story was narrated by the Angel of Death, but it contained so many forced asides that I was distracted to the point of skimming many times. It was also chock full of spoiler scenes that kept leaping in and out of the timeline (take Rudy's death as one example). The author took a chance. Mr. Zusak wrote a quirky book that's unique. And he's been rewarded for it...many five star reviews and a movie deal. Kudos for that. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I want to be in the fan club about this book, but alas, I am not. Call me a Philistine, but the presentation just didn't work for me....more
Dated? Definitely, but this is one big, fat, fun piece of commercial fiction. What's not to love? You've got so many glamorous entertainers making loaDated? Definitely, but this is one big, fat, fun piece of commercial fiction. What's not to love? You've got so many glamorous entertainers making loads of bad choices. Ms. Susann wrote a real page-turner, and the book is ten-times better than the movie. Her flow is impeccable, as well as her pacing and physical cues. Her character descriptions are succinct, yet vivid. Even minor characters leap off the page. If you're into writing, this is a book worth studying. ...more
Normally I avoid WWII books and movies--the market is saturated--but something about this cover-photo snagged my attention. Marine Sgt. Steve MaharidgNormally I avoid WWII books and movies--the market is saturated--but something about this cover-photo snagged my attention. Marine Sgt. Steve Maharidge returned from the Pacific theater in 1945. The other man in the photo, Herman Mulligan, did not. For the next fifty years the photo hung on the wall of Steve's machine shop in Ohio and once he spoke of it : "They said I killed him...but it wasn't my fault!"
Growing up, Steve's son, Dale, witnessed (and endured) his father's rages, fiery temper, and his obsession with the photo. His father had suffered concussive brain injury during the battle for Okinawa. After the war ended, Steve suffered from PTSD--and consequently, so did his family. But Steve only talked cryptically about his war experiences. A trunk of war trophies and the black-&-white photo were the only evidence that he served.
Upon Steve's death, Dale Maharidge began a quest to understand what happened to his dad. For ten years he interviewed surviving marines from Love Company--men who served with his father. These octogenarians opened up to Dale. The horrific slaughter they describe and the rape of Okinawa left me stunned, saddened, and disgusted with both sides. In unearthing what happened to Herman Mulligan specifically--and Okinawa at large--it's no wonder Steve came back an emotional cripple.
The author did an excellent job researching facts and interviewing survivors. The photos included in the book only make their accounts more vivid. This is a story of war and its aftermath from three perspectives: -A family enduring their father's PTSD -American soldiers who survived the battle (physically, but NOT emotionally) -Okinawan civilians scarred by the holocaust of bombs and gunfire.
The story ends in 2012 with a beautiful, healing Buddhist ceremony inside an earthy, vine-laden tomb in Okinawa.
I highly recommend this book.
The question it raises--namely: Why do we keep doing this to our young men?--is timeless. ...more
You can read the plot elsewhere, but I want to comment upon the voice of this story. Literary folk are forever talking about "voice". This quirky andYou can read the plot elsewhere, but I want to comment upon the voice of this story. Literary folk are forever talking about "voice". This quirky and gripping tale has one of the strongest voices I've encountered in a long time. The protagonist is a seven-year-old English country boy. The voice is so effortlessly authentic, I was walking in his shoes. His innocent kid-logic made perfect sense. As a grown-up, I had long forgotten how it feels to be at the mercy of adults. This child's voice recreates that vulnerable, helpless feeling, especially when supernatural things start happening down the lane and all the adults around him start acting in strange and unpredictable ways......more
The stuff that nightmares are made of. The true story of Pamela Werner, a young English woman found gruesomely murdered at the base of the Fox Tower iThe stuff that nightmares are made of. The true story of Pamela Werner, a young English woman found gruesomely murdered at the base of the Fox Tower in Peking in 1937. This city of beauty and debauchery simmers through its last colonial days as the citizens--Chinese, Americans, White Russians and Europeans--prepare for the imminent Japanese invasion of China. The city is already a powder keg and Pamela's murder has each group pointing its finger at the other. A murder investigation is launched by the Chinese and the British Legation...as well as a coverup of epic proportions. Gripping, suspenseful and well-researched. Mr. French has done his homework....more
Took me about 3 weeks to finish World War Z. As far as Zombie novels go, this one has gripping moments, gory descriptions, and an interesting premiseTook me about 3 weeks to finish World War Z. As far as Zombie novels go, this one has gripping moments, gory descriptions, and an interesting premise (the Zombie Apocalypse told through interviews with the survivors). But the truth is this: I'm just not into zombies. They're very unattractive (yes--I'm shallow that way).
The 400+ pages of interviews were weighted heavily toward the fighters rather than the civilians. Lots of discussion about weapons and strategy. This was great at first (especially the interview with the female military pilot whose plane went down in a hot zone of zombies in Louisiana--pins and needles, people, pins and needles), but after a while these interviews began to sound the same to me. I started skimming the weaponry details. In general, I found the civilian accounts much more compelling.
Plus I thought there were a couple of missed opportunities: At the beginning of the outbreak, Brooks describes Patient Zero's encounter with "some grabby thing" in the Yangtze River, and an old Chinese woman screams about an ancient curse. Now THAT'S what I wanted to know more about. But we never got it. Also, I wanted an interview from a virologist nailing down the pathophysiology of this "undead" disease. That interview is also mysteriously absent.
If you're into zombies and rotting flesh and military strategy, you'll probably love World War Z. But I'm still rooting for the vampires. ...more
This memoir by The Bloggess made me laugh until my belly ached. Jenny Lawson's tales of her unconventional childhood in rural TX are hilarious. What cThis memoir by The Bloggess made me laugh until my belly ached. Jenny Lawson's tales of her unconventional childhood in rural TX are hilarious. What can you expect when your dad is a mad taxidermist and roadkill connoisseur? Stanley the Magical, Talking Squirrel chapter is priceless. Also loved Jenny's Emo-take on teen angst and how she was wooed by Victor the uber-conservative in college. In the marriage chapters, it's sooo easy to side with Jenny against Victor's patrimony (Remember, Victor: YOU CHOSE JENNY!) "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" is a gushing stream of consciousness from a funny woman whose brain is wired differently from most--in a good way. In our culture of confession, Jenny's voice is original and refreshing--even if she does use the f-bomb a lot. And yes, the significance of the mouse on the cover is revealed in all its full glory. ...more
It took me about 65pp to get into this book, but then I was hooked. Jhumpa Lahiri has crafted another bittersweet tale about the Indian immigration exIt took me about 65pp to get into this book, but then I was hooked. Jhumpa Lahiri has crafted another bittersweet tale about the Indian immigration experience. "The Namesake" spans two generations: Bengali parents, Ashima and Ashoke, struggle to assimilate into American culture while their American-born children, Gogol and Sonia, seek to embrace it. Gogol and Sonia are the bridging generation; they have a foot in each camp, yet feel like outsiders in both worlds. I liked the descriptive windows into Bengali culture and the family trips to Calcutta. As Gogol ages, I especially enjoyed his interactions with American girls and the whole dating scene. I loved his East Coast girlfriend Max (probably because I wanted to be adopted by her laid-back, foodie family). Later in the tale, when Gogol's Bengali marriage goes sour, I kept hoping he'd reunite with Max. No such luck. But the ending is powerful with Gogol coming to appreciate his heritage and his parents' dreams for him....more
Jeannette Walls hits another one out of the park. More exciting than a barrel of scorpions and rattlesnakes, this is the story of Lily Casey Smith (JeJeannette Walls hits another one out of the park. More exciting than a barrel of scorpions and rattlesnakes, this is the story of Lily Casey Smith (Jeannette's maternal grandmother), an iron-willed schoolmarm who ran cattle, bootlegged, and raised a family in the old Southwest. Lily was an indomitable woman well ahead of her time. The writing style is succinct and bold--just like the protagonist. The voice is strong and authentic. I highly recommend this book--a dynamic and delightful two-day read....more
A poignant memoir of a dysfunctional family of American nomads. I read late into the night, following the adventures of the Walls family as they did "A poignant memoir of a dysfunctional family of American nomads. I read late into the night, following the adventures of the Walls family as they did "the skedaddle" from one small town to the next (just ahead of their creditors). Jeannette Walls and her siblings were raised in poverty and dragged all over the country, but her parents didn't see it that way. "We're lucky to be living an adventure," her mother would say. "Now stop whining about being hungry...go find a prickly pear cactus to eat. I need to finish my oil painting."
Jeannette Walls started this story with a strong hook and ended with a reverberating bang. I want to thank my critique partner Danielle Allen for introducing me to this author. I am moving on to "Half Broke Horses" because I LOVE the way Jeannette Walls writes about her family. She doesn't sugar-coat the insanity or ask for sympathy. She just tells it like it is....more
I'll admit that it took me 40 pages or so to get into this book, but once Southern belle Zelda Sayre abandoned Montgomery for NYC (against her parentsI'll admit that it took me 40 pages or so to get into this book, but once Southern belle Zelda Sayre abandoned Montgomery for NYC (against her parents' wishes) and married F. Scott Fitzgerald, the book raced like an arrow. Charming and glamorous, Zelda and Scott ran with a fast international crowd. I loved the accounts of glittering cocktail parties, the witty repartee, and their flapper friends. Fowler handles Zelda's Southern accent with aplomb; you can really hear the drawl. Scott and Zelda loved one another, but used one another up in an endless succession of parties, excesses, and debauchery. Although magnetic and brilliant when sober, Scott was a sloppy drunk. In more modern times, it's likely Zelda would have divorced him, and perhaps avoided her plunge into madness. It could not have been easy living under Scott's enormous--and egotistical--shadow. I admired how Zelda kept striving to create something of her own: a dance career, paintings, writing. Ernest Hemingway is cast as the villain of this tale. After Zelda rebuffs his sexual advances, Hemingway becomes the snake in the garden, always keeping Scott competitively drunk and unable to work, and then hissing in Scott's ear that crazy Zelda is the reason for his literary failures. In the end, Zelda spent years in sanatoriums, Scott died early of a heart attack, Ernest...well...we all know that ended badly. The stuff of Greek tragedy. Like Hemingway, many historians blame Zelda for her husband's short lived career, but the author presents the flip side of the story. Fowler handles Zelda in a compassionate and believable way that will leave you rooting for Team Zelda. ...more