The voices that narrate the book Wonder are so strong that it's a bit life changing to read this book about August, Auggie, Pullman, a fifth grader wh...moreThe voices that narrate the book Wonder are so strong that it's a bit life changing to read this book about August, Auggie, Pullman, a fifth grader who embarks upon his own life changing year. Born with mandibulofacial mysostosis and having gone through multiple surgeries, Auggie has been homeschooled up till now, but during the summer before fifth grade, his parents start floating the idea of starting school. Middle school seems to start in fifth grade in New York State, so the idea is , what better time to start? A meeting is arranged with the head of the middle school, Mr. Tuchman, and in joking with his dad over the guy's name, August warms up to the idea. At the interview, it turns out that Mr. Tushman has recruited some kids to show him around. One of these, Julian, will become his nemesis, and one, Jack Will, a close friend. The fact that they were recruited does lead to some hurt feelings and surprises.
What saves this from becoming another us against them book, is the nuance that Polacco brings to the characters in allowing them to speak for themselves. Everyone makes a journey that year. This is a real look at what friends and family can mean, even when you want to step away from it all for a minute.
My only fault with the book is the cinematic ending, which I will NOT outline. I really want to give this a 5 becauseI loved it, but the ending just didn't do it for me. 4 1/2 stars.(less)
While this is only my second Ian Rutledge mystery, I am a fan of the authors for creating such a complete world that feels so Brritish. This is a grea...moreWhile this is only my second Ian Rutledge mystery, I am a fan of the authors for creating such a complete world that feels so Brritish. This is a great book for those who like complex plots full of characters, motives, atmosphere and historical settings. I was struck by the fact of Inspector Rutledge having to call Scotland Yard on the only phone in the small village where he'd been sent to investigate several murders. Rutledge is a most human character, haunted by ghosts of his own, from his time in the war. Highly recommended. My only problem had to do with technical problems with the download of the wonderful audiobook, so I kept losing my place. (less)
Delphine, Vonetta and Fern return to Brooklyn after a visit to their mother, Cecile, who's a member of the Black Panther Party, in Oakland, Ca. When t...moreDelphine, Vonetta and Fern return to Brooklyn after a visit to their mother, Cecile, who's a member of the Black Panther Party, in Oakland, Ca. When they arrive in their Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood they find there's been changes, though their grandmother, Big Ma,is still as strict as always and expects Delphine to keep everything in line. Their father, who seems happier and was whistling during the car ride home, has a new lady friend, Miss Marva Hendrix, and the new group, The Jackson Five, will soon be performing at Madison Square Garden.
Big Ma doesn't really approve of either. After much pleading, the girls win the right to go to the concert if they save half the money by doing chores and Miss Hendrix, whom Delphine doesn't really like, volunteers to take them. Soon Uncle Darnell returns from Vietnam, but he's really changed. His presence brings joy then pain to the family. Delphine also has to contend with changes at school where she is the tallest girl and sometimes on the outs with her best friend Frieda. Also, she's surprised to find that she has a different teacher than the one she expected, and he is also strict.
I love the title of this book. It is from the postscripts of letters from her mother, telling her to act eleven and not try to be older, even though she wants to spread her wings. Delphine writes to her mother regularly with her problems and receives spare, poetic replies and reminders that she is not grown and to be who she is.
I like the way williams-Garcia sets the mood through rather spare vignettes, by not belaboring points. We get a good sense of Delphine's class mates, who she's tight with and who not so much by watching them in action, not by explication. I now want to read the first in the series, One Crazy Summer, about their summer in Oakland. (less)
International espionage, oil, British politics, fortune telling in Corsica and Gabriel Allon. Somewhat stock characters, but it's the action and the p...moreInternational espionage, oil, British politics, fortune telling in Corsica and Gabriel Allon. Somewhat stock characters, but it's the action and the plot that makes this work. George Guidall does his usual great job of narration.(less)
I guess I've gotten hooked on Comissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, after all they're set in Venice and as this one opens Brunetti is standing at his w...moreI guess I've gotten hooked on Comissario Guido Brunetti mysteries, after all they're set in Venice and as this one opens Brunetti is standing at his window "flirt(ing) with springtime." Having had snow for for the last three months the descriptions of flowers just starting to bud, a kind of ironic beginning to a book filled with issues of pollution.
Here a night watchman in a glass factory dies and issues of dumping, pollution, political corruption take center stage. The pace is slow, and there seems to be a bit of awkwardness in the way it's all put together. Luckily there are some twists at the end.
What makes the series fun are the police station relationships, Venice and its lifestyle and food. Vice-Questore Patta, Brunettis's superior always wants to squelch investigations unless he stands to gain, and the mysterious Signorina Elettra, Patto's assistant, who provides Brunetti with important information. Venetians must have a slower pace of life since Brunetti's whole family goes home for lunch on most days as well as dinner. That and traveling from place to place in vaporettos. I must say that I prefer listening to Leone's books; I love David Colacci's voice and I like hearing the Italian words pronounced with an Italian accent. (less)
Another boarding school novel for the training of murderers and villains, but this time in the guise of a finishing school for "young women of quality...moreAnother boarding school novel for the training of murderers and villains, but this time in the guise of a finishing school for "young women of quality." Sophronia is recruited for the school, her mother thinking she's finally going to be taught how to be a young lady. This rough and tumble girl from not the "best" of families, though gentry, goes off with the headmistress, who turns out to be fake, and travels to the school with another new student, Dimity, a girl from an evil family who feints at the sight of blood. With them is Pillover, Dimity's brother, who is on his way to his own boarding school, Bunsen's, for evil geniuses.
Along the way they are attacked by skyway men. Sophronia comes to the rescue, but Monique takes the credit. What is Monique hiding? This is a fast moving, fun romp filled with steam, pumps,and pistons as well as a werewolf and vampire. Moira Quirk does a great job with the narration. The best parts of the narration involve the teachers who with upper class accents instruct the students on the proper way to use a handkerchief, walk, etc. all to be a better spy.
Sophronia: “We had lessons in knife fighting from a werewolf.” Pillover:”Any reputable school ought to have at least one vampire professor.”(less)
"Why? Why did everything get turned upside down? Why did my mom have to die? Why am I following Early, with his endless stories of Pi, on a crazy bear...more "Why? Why did everything get turned upside down? Why did my mom have to die? Why am I following Early, with his endless stories of Pi, on a crazy bear hunt?" [p.150]
Following the death of his mother, at the end of World War II, Jack Auden is sent away from his home in Kansas to a boarding school in Maine by his Navy officer dad. His dad had been gone during the war, and Jack hardly knew him when he returned for the funeral, but he had gone to the school in Maine and insists that Jack leave everyone he knows to go there.
Feeling lost at the school, Jack meets Early Auden, an eccentric boy, an orphan who occasionally comes to math class, who wants to go on a quest to find a great brown bear on the Appalachian Trail. Early is also searching for his brother, fisher. Fisher had been a hero at the school, a champion rower, and a war hero who died with his squad in France. Woven in to all this is the story of Pi and his quest for the Polaris and then to return home to the Great Mother Bear.
At night when all of the school has left for break and Jack's father hasn't been able to come get him as had been planned, Jack finds Early packing up to go on his quest. He too gets drawn in and they set out in Fisher's boat, the Maine on Early's quest.
The story of their quest, at times surreal, dreamy, action packed and pain filled alternates with stories of Pi's quest to return home. Subtle humor surfaces occasionally like the scene where they are going fly fishing and Jack tells Early to wait so he can help Early put on his waders, while he, Jack stumbles around, only to look over and see Early "in full gear , already out in the middle of the stream..."
On this adventure, both boys discover difficult truths, but though it is Earl's quest, Jack is the one who in many ways is redeemed. This is an amazingly layered book, so artfully woven together. The two boy's personalities are so different yet they mostly support one another and bring out the best in each other. The supporting characters are so varied and imaginative; they seem to be part of a film. I did get bogged down a bit during the Pi sequences with their mythic overtones, but they are so essential to the workings of the story. This is a book of great tales and stories.
"How do you take another step when you can't see the path in front of you? But wasn't that what I'd been doing all along my journey with Early? I put my foot out where I could picture Early putting his, took a deep breath, and leaped. I landed on solid ground." (P. 232)(less)
So far it"s delightful, with lots of gardening lore and history as well as an interesting crime. I enjoyed this quite a bit. There were some red herri...moreSo far it"s delightful, with lots of gardening lore and history as well as an interesting crime. I enjoyed this quite a bit. There were some red herrings, but I didn't figure it out ahead of theme, of course I never do. I wonder if this is the beginning of a new series with Pru and Detective Pearce.(less)
Wow, I just finished Laurie Halsey Anderson’s newest book The Impossible Knife of Memory and I feel like I got rolled over by a truck. It’s an intens...moreWow, I just finished Laurie Halsey Anderson’s newest book The Impossible Knife of Memory and I feel like I got rolled over by a truck. It’s an intense story about a teen and her dad who suffers from PTSD from his tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. After spending five years on the road with her dad in his eighteen wheeler and they've moved back to his mom’s house where Hayley spent her youth while her dad was deployed so that Hayley can go to high school for her senior year. Most of her memories are suppressed, her mother having died when she was a baby. After that she was raised by her grandma till she died when Hayley was 7 and then her dad’s girlfriend, an alcoholic, took care of her until she walked out.
It’s hard to do justice to this book. You just have to read it. I expect it to be one of the best YA books of 2014, and we’re just beginning. Wow!
""Do you think she's ever going to come back?" I whispered.
"I've hoped and prayed and dreamed about it for years. But I don't think she'll ever come...more ""Do you think she's ever going to come back?" I whispered.
"I've hoped and prayed and dreamed about it for years. But I don't think she'll ever come back..”
“Gloria says that you can't hold on to anything. That you can only love what you've got while you've got it."...
"I'm not ready to let Winn-Dixie go,"I said. I had forgotten him for a minute what with thinking about my mama." (pp. 168-169)
Why did I wait so long to read/listen to it? I love the soft Southern accent of Cherry Jones. Her voice gives life to each character, adding to the story, and reminding me of people and towns in the South.
India Opal Buloni's life is filled with loss, her mother left when she was three, and she has just having moved to a Naomi, Florida from Watley with her daddy, whom she calls 'the preacher,' He is mostly preoccupied with his sermons for the Open Arms Baptist Church of Naomi and the suffering. When she goes to the Winn-Dixie for some groceries and comes home with a mangy, but smiling dog she asks him if the "Less Fortunate" could stay with them for a while. Of course her daddy has to say yes to the dog whom she has named Winn-Dixie.
Winn-Dixie helps Opal make friends with the librarian, Miss Franny Block, and other elderly and eccentric folks around town. And she eventually makes a few friends her own age, all because of Winn-Dixie.
This is one of the warmest, feelingest books I've ever read. What I really love is that it's not sappy. No child should be deprived of it. (less)
A Guide for the Perplexed: A Novel is an extremely engaging, multilayered novel which takes as its title an important work of Moses Maimonides the 12...moreA Guide for the Perplexed: A Novel is an extremely engaging, multilayered novel which takes as its title an important work of Moses Maimonides the 12th century rabbi, also known as the Ramban. Maimonides was the leader of the Cairo Jewish Community but he was born in Cordoba, Spain. His family had to flee Spain following 1148. Maimonides was a physician and also the writer of the Mishneh Torah, a code of Jewish Law. He was influenced by Aristotle and tried to reconcile Aristotelian thought with Jewish Law. His Guide for the Perplexed dealt with his theory against the anthropomorphism of God, the Aristotelian idea that God is the Prime Mover, the problem of the existence of evil in the world and the question of free will. These topics are treated in Horn's book as well, though often it became quite dense for me.
There are several stories in this book. The first is that of Josephine, Josie, Ashkenazi who has invented a computer program called the Genizah that would hold all memories as well as use stored data to project "the user's future." She once uses the program to find a pair of shoes that her daughter has "misplaced," though actually she had hidden them, not wanting to go to school.
The term Genizah is based on a storage place found in synagogues where sacred texts are placed before they are buried. Josie had been a precocious child, the favorite daughter of university professors, and hated by her older sister, Judith. In fact once at camp Judith let Josie be thrown into a pit and walked away with the other girls. Josie won the husband that Judith wanted, Itamar Mizrach, and they have a brilliant daughter, but when offered a job in Cairo, Judith entices Josie to go. The obvious references to the Joseph story bothered me a bit, but given the complexity of most of the book, were also satisfying.
The next thread in the book is the story of Solomon Schechter during his time at Cambridge University in the late 1800s. It covers his relationship with a pair of eccentric, elderly twins who are learned and independently wealthy, "'o one in Cambridge ever seemed to need to need to earn a living; making money was considered beneath the dignity of men of ideas. Among such people money was a novelty item, contemplated from behind glass." The twins bicker constantly and require Schecter to go through an enormous amount of British pleasantries with which he is not accustomed. They are quite amusing and provide levity in a book otherwise quite serious.
In real life as in the book, Schechter was a scholar in the Faculty of Oriental Studies and he was interested in Maimonides. Schecter seems to be the focus of two wealthy elderly twins, Agnes S. Lewis and Margaret D. Gibson [, "Scottish lady adventurers, world-famous for their discovery in the monastery at Mount Sinai of the oldest manuscript of the Gospels." They meet him in the street and tell him they've brought him a Hebrew translation of Guide for the Perplexed from their latest trip to Egypt. Eventually they make it possible for Schecter to go to Egypt, to find the Geniza. A favorite quote from the Schecter section is "Books that don't exist, Mr. Schechter... are our favorite sort of books...That's why we kept looking for the Syriac Gospels." Eventually Schecter goes to Egypt with the sisters to explore the Genizah in Fustat or old Cairo and brings back the amazing amount of papers found there. The Cairo Genizah stored thousands of documents, not all of them sacred, that documented the lives of the Cairo Jewish community and Joseph Maimonides as well. There he found letters between Maimonides and his brother. The twins actually lived, traveled to Egypt and showed bits of the Genizah to Solomon Schechter.
There is also the story line of Maimonides in Cairo when he worked for the Sultan and sent his brother to India for herbs to cure for asthma. This has some basis in fact, as the Ramban's brother did die on his way to India, but whether it was on a trip for Maimonides is not clear. Maimonides,or Moshe, was the personal physician to the gran vizier Al-Qadi al-Fadil, "a hunch backed port prince," the vizier asks him dor his help in healing the Sultan Saladin, who suffers from asthma. Through his brother David, Moshe hears of a cure for asthma! the plant! ephedra! and encourages him to leave early for India, as helping cure Saladin would be a tremendous boost to his already grand reputation. This is despite the fact that Saladin has passed laws that require Jews to wear yellow patches. Horn humanizes Maimonides, giving him self doubts, jealousy, and a bit of arrogance as well as shame.
When Josie's trip to Cairo goes wrong, as it was sure to, she is imprisoned and finds a copy of Guide to the Perplexed and reads it. She wrestles with her former ideas about "reliving the past" through her computer program and comes to regret her ideas. Ironically she has been taken by her captors to a part of Cairo called "the City of the Dead... a city of tombs" where some people live to be close to the dead
Memory is one of the main themes in the book, from the fist line "What happens to days that disappear?", to the phrase that Josie tells her daughter Tali when she does a paper on Maimonides, about the Genizah, "It's like viewing the world through the memory of God." I had to wonder at the beginning of the book whether there was something inherently wrong in trying to trap so much of the past in a computer program with the power of Josie's Genizah. This a problem that all of us must deal with in our time when keeping minute records is so easy. But as Horn seems to be saying, it is dangerous territory
The other theme is sibling rivalry. It is present between Josie and Judith, Solomon Schechter and his brother, Maimonides and David and Nasreen and her sister. As Maimonides says to his brother, "The sages taught that forgiveness is one of the seven things that was created before the world itself...Forgiveness has to exist before the world is created, before anyone makes any choices that would need to be forgiven."(p.253)
"We should be grateful that we can't remember everything as God does...The limit of human memory encourages humility.(p. 254)"
I read A Guide for the Perplexed in just a few days; I was so drawn in. Writing about it has taken longer as I've had to go back and try and piece it together. Most of it is eminently readable and then you start to peel the layers away. I must say that the section on philosophy of Maimonides, on providence thoroughly stumped me, but it has led me to further research the Ramban, which is not a bad thing. The amount of research that Horn undertook and the skill used in the writing of the story is breath taking. (less)
Set during World War I, this short novel explores memory loss, shell shock ( now known as post traumatic stress disorder) and the early days of Freudi...moreSet during World War I, this short novel explores memory loss, shell shock ( now known as post traumatic stress disorder) and the early days of Freudian psychiatry. In 1916, a young woman dressed as a member of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, the British medical service, is brought to a field hospital in Marnes, France. She has shrapnel in her feet and is unconscious, As she gains consciousness she cannot remember who she is. She comes upon the name Stella Baines and as she remembers certain skills, nursing and driving an ambulance, goes back to those pursuits. Something nags at her though, and it is the British Admiralty in London, England. She needs to go there for some reason that she cannot remember. When she receives time off, she sets out for the coast of France and travels to London where she is found wandering by a Lily Bridge, a doctor's wife, who takes her in.
With the help of August Bridge who performs cranial surgery on war victims and who has some knowledge of Freudian psychoanalysis, Stella embarks upon a journey to find out who she really is, and why she is in Europe, as she has an American accent. He performs talk therapy and accompanies Stella to the Admiralty where eventually she sees a man who calls her by name, causing a flood of memories to come back to her. The first words she says are, "I have children!"
It is at this moment when Stella, now Etna Bliss van Tassel, begins to tell her back story and to fight to be herself. I was engaged in this novel from the very beginning. Shreve's account of WWI, the wounded and the medical personnel working to rescue them. But the story of Etna's struggle on returning home is the best part.
I found the audio book narrated by Hope Davis to be quite well performed. (less)
I found myself reading two very different stories set in India at the same time, this book and The White Tiger. The latter is biting satire about corr...moreI found myself reading two very different stories set in India at the same time, this book and The White Tiger. The latter is biting satire about corruption in India while Secret Daughter is the heartbreaking about a woman forced to give up her daughter for adoption because girls are not valued in the farming community in which she lives. Kavita gives up her daughter, Usha, when she is tree days old in order to save her from infanticide. In India, the families of girls have to pay huge dowries when their daughters marry and then they go to live with the husband's family, thus being an expense while a son stays with the family and works, contributing to the family's' income.
The other thread in the story is Asha, the girl who was born Usha, but who became Asha when she was adopted by a childless couple from California, Krishnan and Somer Thakkar, both doctors. Asha is raised with little knowledge of her Indian heritage as her mother is fearful that she will not love her. Of course, Asha becomes obsessed with understanding that part of her and when she is in college, majoring in journalism, much to her father's disappointment, she goes to spend a year in India on a fellowship. She spends the year researching poverty among urban children and women in Mumbai, but also seeks out her birth parents. The alternating chapters of Kavita seeking an understanding of what happened to her daughter and Asha finding her roots and seeing the greatness of India, such as her enormous family and warm grandmother, the food, and temples as well as the extreme poverty are captivating.
One thing I found hard to believe was that Somer in twenty years had not explored her husband's Indian heritage. Perhaps that was due to Somer's circumscribed cultural experiences and also her very focused attention towards becoming a doctor while in college. Gowda's book reminds me of those by Chitra Banerjee Divakar. (less)