Goofy, funny (the talking dogs are hysterical, and the narrator of the audiobook did a WONDERFUL job with them), interesting characters (although a coGoofy, funny (the talking dogs are hysterical, and the narrator of the audiobook did a WONDERFUL job with them), interesting characters (although a couple of them were very similar) - just right for a beach read or when you need to clear your brain after a hefty/intense/intellectual read. Now I'm ready to tackle some of the medieval non-fiction I'm taking on for a library conference later this year...
Lots of explicit sex if you like that sort of thing. It didn't make me cringe, so I guess that's a plus. It's a little disjointed with three different authors. I assume they each wrote one of the three main "goddesses." My favorite was Shar, the middle-aged heroine and her dog Wolfie. The other two women and their romantic interests were not as well developed (and as I said, at times hard to tell apart.) The mythology was okay, but don't expect anything historical (it was made up.) The romances really didn't have enough tension (will they, won't they?) to create a very satisfying ending (endings?) And the fate of Kamani Gula (the Mesopotamian goddess) and especially Mina (the evil priestess) was just silly. Like cotton candy - fun once in a while, but I wouldn't want a steady diet of it.
Book description: Abby has just arrived in Summerville, Ohio, with her placid Newfoundland, Bowser. She's reluctantly inherited her grandmother's coffee shop, but it's not long before she's brewing up trouble in the form of magical baked goods and steaming up her life with an exasperating college professor. And then there's Daisy, a web code writer, and her hyperactive Jack Russell, Bailey. Her tightly-wound world spins out of control when she discovers the chaos within and meets a mysterious dog trainer whose teaching style is definitely hands-on. Finally there's Shar, professor of ancient history at Summerville College, who wakes up one morning to find her neurotic dachshund, Wolfie, snarling at an implacable god sitting at her kitchen table, the first thing in her life she hasn't been able to footnote. What on earth is going on in this unearthly little town? It's up to Abby, Daisy, and Shar to find out before an ancient goddess takes over Southern Ohio, and they all end up in the apocalyptic doghouse…...more
Told as a series of short stories, but not as well done as Olive Kitteridge. I couldn't see where this was going until the last story put it all togetTold as a series of short stories, but not as well done as Olive Kitteridge. I couldn't see where this was going until the last story put it all together. Wasn't at all sure I liked it until the end. Eva is something of a mysterious character. Except for one story where she is a young teen, we don't get inside her head at all. We see her through other characters, some of whom are not very likeable. The gaps between stories might have been the most interesting part of the book. I couldn't help but speculate on what had happened to the characters in those in-between times. And I'm betting that will be the most fodder for book club discussions! Warning - there is still much unresolved at the end. I do think this would make a really good TV movie or mini-series. Each section moves around the midwest, though the focus is always on Minnesota, and it skewers some aspect of foodie culture - everything from gourmet baby food, church suppers, and hunting, to state and county fair competitions, Whole Foods afficionados, and lutefisk. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Amy Ryan and Michael Stuhlbarg. For the most part, they captured the Midwest flavor of the story. Interesting that Faribault (MN) was pronounced correctly, but not Pierre (SD). But that's a very, very minor quibble.
Book description: When Lars Thorvald’s wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine—and a dashing sommelier—he’s left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He’s determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter—starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva’s journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club, culminating in an opulent and emotional feast that’s a testament to her spirit and resilience. Each chapter in J. Ryan Stradal’s startlingly original debut tells the story of a single dish and character, at once capturing the zeitgeist of the Midwest, the rise of foodie culture, and delving into the ways food creates community and a sense of identity....more
The book started out with so much promise. Lovely writing about India, the sights and sounds, the food, the people, his experiences growing up. I enjoThe book started out with so much promise. Lovely writing about India, the sights and sounds, the food, the people, his experiences growing up. I enjoyed the travels, their adventures in London, finally arriving in a small French village, where the van happens to break down, and they decide to settle. Then I watched the movie, which I loved, and came back to finish the book. That's when things started to diverge. I know that movies change things, and in this case, I think they made a better story out of it. The way the book depicts the conflict between the Haji family and Madame Mallory, her change of heart seemed most improbable. And once Hassan went to Paris, I thought the book just lost its focus. He left behind a lover, his family, and his Indian roots. And what did he gain from it? 3 Michelin stars and then what? The book raises that issue through bringing in a new character - a chef who commits suicide after losing his 3-star rating. Hassan has been reunited with Margaret after 20 years, but it leaves unanswered what he will do next.
This was an audio-book, and I found it difficult to understand all the French. Things were not translated, though I was able to guess at the name of his restaurant. Reading instead of listening I might have gotten more of it, since I can read French, but I don't understand spoken French. I was also somewhat put off (being a vegetarian) by all the descriptions of hunting and slaughtering of animals for food.
Anyway, other reviewers have mentioned not liking the second half of the book as well as the beginning, so perhaps I shouldn't blame the movie for that! If you want romance and happy endings, then watch the movie. And, of course, Helen Mirren is wonderful as Madame Mallory.
Book description: Born above his grandfather's modest restaurant in Mumbai, Hassan Haji first experienced life through intoxicating whiffs of spicy fish curry, trips to the local markets, and gourmet outings with his mother. When tragedy pushes the family out of India, they console themselves by eating their way around the world, eventually settling in Lumiere, a small village in the French Alps. They open an inexpensive Indian cafe opposite an esteemed French restaurant - that of the famous chef Madame Mallory - and infuse the sleepy town with the spices of India, transforming the lives of its eccentric villagers and infuriating their celebrated neighbor. Only after Madame Mallory wages culinary war with the immigrant family does she finally agree to mentor young Hassan, leading him to Paris, the launch of his own restaurant, and a slew of new adventures....more
3 stars, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder why? It was okay - exotic setting, some interesting characters, some moral dilemmas, and bas3 stars, but the more I think about it, the more I wonder why? It was okay - exotic setting, some interesting characters, some moral dilemmas, and basically well-written prose, but on the whole I was really underwhelmed by this novel. Her depiction of Minnesota had me wondering what century she was writing about. She kept extolling the "prairie" as the characters drive from the Twin Cities airport to Eden Prairie. Huh? I drive there quite regularly and it is not even remotely rural. Her depiction of the Amazon was evocative, though I can't judge her accuracy. The science was extremely dodgy, I didn't care about any of the characters, despite this being a book about a great adventure, nothing happened. The characters don't grow, they don't make any better choices at the end of the book, and I had guessed the end of the book. There was nothing that even remotely elicited a "state of wonder" for the reader. I still want to read Bel Canto, but except for that, I would not be reading any more by this author.
Description: Dr. Marina Singh, a research scientist with a Minnesota pharmaceutical company, is sent to Brazil to track down her former mentor, Dr. Annick Swenson, who seems to have all but disappeared in the Amazon while working on what is destined to be an extremely valuable new drug. Not only does no one know where Dr. Swenson is, but the last person who was sent to find her, Marina's research partner, has been reported as dead of a fever. Marina embarks on an odyssey into the insect-infested jungle in hopes of finding her former mentor as well as answers to several troubling questions about her friend's death, the state of her company's research, and her own past....more
I loved the structure of this book - as we piece together what happened through a variety of written correspondence. I loved the character of Bee, andI loved the structure of this book - as we piece together what happened through a variety of written correspondence. I loved the character of Bee, and her relationship with Bernadette. The social satire was very funny. I would have given this 5 stars until it went off the rails about two-thirds through the book. At that point, the evolving situation became a bit too absurd to be funny, and Bernadette's POV began to overshadow Bee's. The overall takeaway seems to be "Don't believe anything you think you know about anybody." The ending was too big a shift for me, and didn't resolve any of the heavier issues that still face the family. Perhaps that hints at a sequel?
Book description: Bernadette is a frightfully intelligent wife and mother whose intense allergy to Seattle specifically, and to people in general, has driven her to hire a virtual assistant in India to execute even her most basic tasks. Then her daughter, Bee, insists on a family trip to Antarctica as her reward for getting perfect grades in middle school, and Bernadette is faced with the daunting prospect of actual human interaction. On the verge of a breakdown, Bernadette vanishes, leaving her Microsoft-guru husband, a horde of angry parents, and questioning police officers to pick up the pieces. Desperate to find her mother, Bee probes her emails, invoices, school memos, private correspondence, and other evidence, conjuring out of those shards a portrait of a woman she never knew before--and a secret that could explain everything.
This sequel to Me Before You is every bit as good. But don't expect it to be like Me Before You. Lou has changed. Will's death left a hole in her hearThis sequel to Me Before You is every bit as good. But don't expect it to be like Me Before You. Lou has changed. Will's death left a hole in her heart that money and travel has not healed. Jojo Moyes gives us an unflinching look at love and loss, and how sometimes it takes a devastating accident, and to have our world turned upside down before we find how to move on. I loved all the zany characters and all their faults. I have half a mind to read everything else Jojo Moyes has ever written...
Book Description: Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started. Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. For Lou Clark, life after Will Traynor means learning to fall in love again, with all the risks that brings. But here Jojo Moyes gives us two families, as real as our own, whose joys and sorrows will touch you deeply, and where both changes and surprises await....more
3.75. Although it is never stated, Don is clearly someone with high-functioning Asperger's syndrome. I can't speak to how well he may or may not repre3.75. Although it is never stated, Don is clearly someone with high-functioning Asperger's syndrome. I can't speak to how well he may or may not represent a true picture of someone with Asperger's. Don is just Don. The book doesn't label him, and I'm not sure how helpful that is in real life any way. I think we have all experienced being socially uncomfortable and can both empathize with and laugh at the humor in Don's predicament. And he does manage to get himself into some highly amusing situations. Don and Rosie are both quirky, unique characters. This is a light and funny read, and other than that, the plot is completely predictable. Some of the quirkiness began to get a bit tiring by the end, so I'm not sure I want to read the sequel.
Description: Don Tillman is a brilliant, yet socially challenged professor of genetics. Don decides it's time he found a wife and designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page survey that filters out the drinkers, the smokers and the late arrivers. Rosie Jarman is not a perfect candidate. Although he disqualifies her for the Wife Project, Don is particularly suited to help Rosie on her own quest: identifying her biological father. Suddenly a relationship develops as they collaborate on the Father Project....more
Also published under the title Second Thyme Around. A pleasant enough romantic comedy and just the light-hearted fluff I needed after Cutting for StonAlso published under the title Second Thyme Around. A pleasant enough romantic comedy and just the light-hearted fluff I needed after Cutting for Stone! The story is cute, if somewhat predictable, and the setting is picturesque. The main plot is really about Perdita and her friendship with the elderly and failing Kitty. After Kitty suffers a stroke, it is clear that she cannot continue to live on her own. The author has done a good job of exploring their unusual friendship, issues of failing health, loss of independence, and ultimately dealing with the loss of a surrogate parent. The sub-sub-plots of Janie, who has a crush on Lucas, and Roger, the "long-lost" nephew adds a nice depth and some humor. I was less satisfied with the romance between Perdita and Lucas. After focusing so much in the first part of the book on how badly Lucas had treated Perdita, and on his anger issues, and tendency to be a bully, I just didn't see enough of a change in him to feel comfortable with their relationship. And to try and justify his behavior by saying that Perdita had been too passive and let him get away with it? Come on, seriously? I am glad that Perdita has learned to stand on her own two feet, but the bully is still a bully. Still, I would read more from this author.
Book Description: For years, things have run quite smoothly for Perdita and her organic gardening business. So what if her hair needs a complete overhaul, her sweater has more holes than Swiss cheese, and there's no hope of a boyfriend on the horizon? The last thing Perdita wants is a meddlesome man in her life-but she's about to get one, in the form of her completely infuriating ex-husband, Lucas. Lucas in disagreeable, curt, arrogant, and smolderingly gorgeous. He's also the new chef at Grantly House, Perdita's number-one customer. Worse, Mr. Grantly has the insane idea of starting a television cooking show that will put Lucas and Perdita together as "The Gourmet and the Gardener." Now, things are heating up in the kitchen--and elsewhere. With the bright lights blazing and old feelings stirring the pot, it could be a recipe for disaster...or absolute delight.
Touted as a psychological thriller, but it's really more of quiet puzzle. We're already told at the very beginning who dies, so no suspense there... TTouted as a psychological thriller, but it's really more of quiet puzzle. We're already told at the very beginning who dies, so no suspense there... The puzzle is in what causes these two people, who have had a stable 20-year relationship, to come unraveled. They have both complacently accepted the status quo - a long-term live-in arrangement (never actually married). As long as Jodi gets to play housewife, and enjoy the luxury of a comfortable home, she has kept silent about his "extra-marital" affairs. But everything changes when Todd gets a girl pregnant and is badgered into actually leaving Jodi. Neither Todd nor Jodi are particularly likeable, and that made it hard for me to care about anything that happened to them. The story became much more compelling after the assassination, and although I had already anticipated the twist in the plot at that point, it was enough to raise this from 2 to 3 stars for me.
Book description: A chilling psychological thriller about a marriage, a way of life, and how far one woman will go to keep what is rightfully hers. Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event. He is a committed cheater; she lives and breathes denial. He exists in dual worlds; she likes to settle scores. He decides to play for keeps; she has nothing left to lose. Told in alternating voices, The Silent Wife is about a marriage in the throes of dissolution, a couple headed for catastrophe, concessions that can't be made, and promises that won't be kept....more
An interesting blend of contemporary story about a man having a mid-life crisis, his socially inept single mother daughter, and the fairy-tale, mysticAn interesting blend of contemporary story about a man having a mid-life crisis, his socially inept single mother daughter, and the fairy-tale, mystical woman who comes into their lives offering love? forgiveness? redemption? It is also a philosophical look at storytelling and the nature of truth vs. myth. Lots of gorgeous prose and quotable lines. A strong beginning, but then a tendency to lose itself in the shifting points of view and time. The mystical and the real didn't always intersect very smoothly, and the ending is hopeful but not necessarily convincing.
First line: "What actually woke him was the unearthly sound itself -- a mournful shatter of frozen midnight falling to earth to pierce his heart and lodge there forever, never to move, never to melt -- but he, being who he was, assumed it was his bladder."
Book Description: George Duncan is an American living and working in London. At forty-eight, he owns a small print shop, is divorced, and lonelier than he realizes. All of the women with whom he has relationships eventually leave him for being too nice. But one night he is woken by an astonishing sound—a terrific keening, which is coming from somewhere in his garden. When he investigates he finds a great white crane, a bird taller than even himself. It has been shot through the wing with an arrow. Moved more than he can say, George struggles to take out the arrow from the bird's wing, saving its life before it flies away into the night sky.
The next morning, a shaken George tries to go about his daily life, retreating to the back of his store and making cuttings from discarded books—a harmless, personal hobby—when through the front door of the shop a woman walks in. Her name is Kumiko, and she asks George to help her with her own artwork. George is dumbstruck by her beauty and her enigmatic nature, and begins to fall desperately in love with her. She seems to hold the potential to change his entire life, if he could only get her to reveal the secret of who she is and why she has brought her artwork to him....more
This book was a bit different from what I expected. I had just assumed it would end with their escape from captivCaution: Review may contain spoilers!
This book was a bit different from what I expected. I had just assumed it would end with their escape from captivity, but that actually happened relatively early on in the book. So this is Jack's world through his eyes - Room, the only home he has ever known, the escape, and then adjusting to life Outside. The escape plan was very far-fetched for me. Would a desperate and depressed mother really put a 5-year-old in such a dangerous position? We don't know her thinking since this is Jack's story. I just found it somewhat unbelievable that such a plan might actually work. But that is a minor quibble. The charm of the story is Jack, and the picture he paints of his world. The innocence of the narrator removes us a bit from the horrific aspects of the mother's ordeal, so we can focus on his experience and how he adjusts to a much bigger world than he has ever imagined. Unlike his mother, he loves Room, and must come to terms with the loss of what was his entire world. There is much food for thought here, and I am looking forward to a very lively book club discussion.
Book Description: To five-year-old Jack, Room is the entire world. It is where he was born and grew up; it's where he lives with his Ma as they learn and read and eat and sleep and play. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits. Room is home to Jack, but to Ma, it is the prison where Old Nick has held her captive for seven years. Through determination, ingenuity, and fierce motherly love, Ma has created a life for Jack. But she knows it's not enough...not for her or for him. She devises a bold escape plan, one that relies on her young son's bravery and a lot of luck. What she does not realize is just how unprepared she is for the plan to actually work. Told entirely in the language of the energetic, pragmatic five-year-old Jack, ROOM is a celebration of resilience and the limitless bond between parent and child, a brilliantly executed novel about what it means to journey from one world to another....more
I was pleasantly surprised by this sweet little book. It's a quick read about friendship, high school crushes, school activities, embarrassing parentsI was pleasantly surprised by this sweet little book. It's a quick read about friendship, high school crushes, school activities, embarrassing parents, and other teenaged angst. The love story aspect is a little weak, but this is high school after all, and it's G-rated, so okay for younger teens. I enjoyed the interplay between the two girls. I was the quiet bookworm among my more outgoing friends. I would have liked a take-charge friend like Ashleigh, but Julie seemed much too passive about everything. I probably was like that in high school, too. It takes time and experience to learn to be assertive and stand up for yourself. Not that Julie is bullied - it's just that her agreeableness and fear of hurting someone's feelings are bound to do more harm than good in the long run. The boys were far more charming and thoughtful than I remember any boys being in high school! Heck, I'm still looking for my poetry-writing, fencing and sailing enthusiast Mr. Darcy myself! I enjoyed the side-plot of the high school musical, and Julie's relationships with her parents, the mother coping with unemployment, and her remarried father and the attempts (unwelcome!) of his new wife to ingratiate herself into Julie's life. I might have rated this higher if I weren't so far removed from my teenage years! Still, it was a nice bit of fluff in-between more serious reads, and I enjoyed the Jane Austen angle.
Book Description: Julie is a quiet bookworm. Her best friend Ashleigh, on the other hand, is an "Enthusiast." As long as they have known each other, Ash has been obsessed with one thing or another. Now it is Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, which just happens to be Julie's favorite book. Before Julie knows what hit her, she and Ash are decked-out in 19th-century garb, smelling like mothballs, and crashing the all-boys prep school formal dance. Their mission is to find their personal Misters Darcy. But when they set their sights on the same young gentleman, their journey into the world of proper English courtship looks like it might cause a broken heart or two....more
If I rate this on "liking" the book or the characters, it might be 3 stars. If I rate it on how much it will stay with me and I'll be thinking about OIf I rate this on "liking" the book or the characters, it might be 3 stars. If I rate it on how much it will stay with me and I'll be thinking about Olive and other characters it might be 4 or 5. And if I rate it on literary merit, the use of language and how the stories intertwine to create a whole, maybe 5. So I'll compromise with 4. Olive is not an easy person to like. Sometimes she has a heart of gold, and is almost painfully empathetic and compassionate. But she has a mean streak and at times a selfishness that will always be her undoing. She is raw, crusty, and as she describes herself, she has the "soul of a peasant." I think of peasants as being simple in their approach to life. Olive is anything but. You'll get to know her through her own story, her son, her students, and her neighbors. Each story is complete in itself, but taken all together has a richness that is greater than the individual parts. At the same time, each story will make you think about life, love, security, and isolation, and how we cope with things that seem to be out of our control even if they are of our own making.
Book Description: At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer’s eyes, it’s in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama - desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love. At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse. As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life – sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition - its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires. 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner in the Letters, Drama and Music category....more