I loved this book! Yes, it's my bread-and-butter: a memoir with lots of odd, fun facts. But it was just terrific. I'm still spouting off some of the fI loved this book! Yes, it's my bread-and-butter: a memoir with lots of odd, fun facts. But it was just terrific. I'm still spouting off some of the fun facts two weeks later, and I read a 4-page section out loud to my husband. It was so compelling.
Hope always wanted to be a scientist. Her father was a science instructor at a community college and she loved his lab when she was a little girl. She grew up and went to college and got her doctorate and became a tenure-track professor. In college she met a younger science student, Bill, who she hired as a lab assistant and who stuck with her throughout her career. She eventually focuses on paleobiology, mostly on dirt and trees. You might think that sounds boring but trust me—it's fascinating. At one point she and Bill are in Northern Canada looking into a prehistoric deciduous forest. Obviously at the time this existed, the poles were much warmer than they currently are, but she's baffled and impressed with how the trees dealt with the 3 months of constant sun and 3 months of constant dark. Do the trees have a special ability they've been hiding for several thousand years? Or were they impressively adaptive?
Hope has a real way with explaining science accessibly and even in a fun way. I noted quite a few quotes, which I hadn't expected in this type of book. She struggles with personal relationship aside from with Bill, which she partly attributes to her upbringing with Scandinavian parents who talk little and never about feelings, and partly we find out later, due to her bi-polar. Although eventually she does marry and even has a child (which is tricky with her diagnosis as she has to go off her meds.)
I wish this book were twice as long. I very much hope that Dr. Jahren is writing a second (and third) book. This one was terrific. If you like science at all, and if you like memoirs, you must check out this book....more
I'm very glad I got to hear this author at an event as her distinctive voice rang in my ears throughout my reading of her book. She has a deep, snarliI'm very glad I got to hear this author at an event as her distinctive voice rang in my ears throughout my reading of her book. She has a deep, snarling, yet upbeat rasp. She spoke of how she was inspired to write after reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and finding out there weren't really any other books about a working class girl growing up in a borough, and that the one there was was so old and fiction. And thank goodness she was inspired! This is a great book.
Admittedly, I am also biased because I lived in Queens for almost five years. Now I lived in a completely different part, but it was still fairly working class (at that time. Astoria has gotten very trendy in recent years.) But I appreciate so much her wanting to freeze in time a much overlooked borough.
Tara was a world-class tomboy, not just good at spots but at running away and punching, but always good-natured. Her parents divorced when she was little and she lived during the week in a small apartment with her mother, surrounded by extended family, every other weekend at her father's, which was basically a shack, way out almost near JFK airport, and other weekends with her mother at her mother's boyfriend's house on Long Island, which was a very fancy estate and she'd be picked up in a limo. Luckily, that didn't faze her, she didn't have pretensions on those weekends and feel like she was slumming it with her father, nor did she resent either parent's situation. She just accepted it and moved on. Eventually her father, a cop, remarried. And her mother's boyfriend lost most of his money. But Tara, in this rough and tumble life, learned to love reading and writing, despite turning into a quintessential bad girl and getting kicked out of school.
Her voice, as I said, was distinctive and I hope that comes through as well for people who are only reading her on the page. She is a bundle of energy and her spitfire passion for her family and her home shines through on every page....more
I admit, I didn't like Jane Eyre when I first tried to read it when I was about 11. So then I didn't read it until I was about 25, when I absolutely lI admit, I didn't like Jane Eyre when I first tried to read it when I was about 11. So then I didn't read it until I was about 25, when I absolutely loved it. Another thing I love: retellings of classics. So this retelling of Jane Eyre for the YA audience was right up my alley!
Janie has to move from Hawaii to San Francisco after her parents are killed in a car accident. She's never heard of this family, the Rochesters, that she's moving in with (the lawyer explained people often forget to update their will many years later when circumstances have changed.) They're insanely wealthy which makes Janie feel even more like a charity case. She's immediately shipped off to a fancy prep school along with the daughter who is her age. But things don't go well there as it's soon clear she's a mean girl. Back at the house, the little brother, Nicholas, keeps telling Janie things his twin sister, who died last year, is telling him to do. Creepy. And then there are the noises coming from the attic...
It is a thoroughly modern story with texting and smart phones and surfing and the like, but it has an eerie gothic feel totally in keeping with the original. Ms. Gagnon changes up just enough so that those familiar with the story won't know exactly how it will end. And the ending is scary! In fact, I must recommend not reading the end right before going to bed, like I did, as it's hard to sleep after!
I liked this book so much that I actually gave it away, twice, while I was reading it (luckily it is published by Soho Press, my employer, so I was always able to get another copy at work the next day.) I kept telling people about it and how great it was! Janie is a completely relatable teenager who feels real and three-dimensional. She's a little impulsive but that works. It's a zippy, fast read that will suck you in and it's certainly the first time that I wished my train on my morning commute would get stuck and be delayed. It's not out until April though, so you'll have to put it on your wish list for now....more
This woman, Jennifer, was already an avid home cook (from scratch) with a garden, when she started wondering about exactly what we make from scratch,This woman, Jennifer, was already an avid home cook (from scratch) with a garden, when she started wondering about exactly what we make from scratch, what we don't, and why. She was inspired by premade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Just as she started with this pondering, she lost her job. It seemed like a good time to see if her family could save some money (and eat better) by making much, much more from scratch. This involved eventually her buying chickens and a goat.
The recipes look great. They're generally do-able, and the ones that aren't, she says up front. She doesn't only look at the cost (and when she does, she figures out what it REALLY costs including if you have to buy special equipment or a really expensive ingredient that you will never use up over a lifetime) but she also looks at the pain in the ass factor. Some things might be cheaper to make but take forever or are really, really hard and easy to screw up.
Personally, I had wanted this book to be able half memoir and half cookbook. To my chagrin, it was more like 15% memoir. I did end up reading the entire thing (okay, I skimmed the recipes but I did skim them, not skip them!) But my husband was thrilled as he loved the recipes and didn't care much about the memoir parts (although he was sad when she had to get rid of her second goat who cried nonstop when they got her.) So it was a great choice for us, and I look forward to eating some of the food here!...more
I am a Janeite. While my membership has lapsed (I really should rejoin), I was a longtime member of JASNA. I took a seminar on Jane Austen in collegeI am a Janeite. While my membership has lapsed (I really should rejoin), I was a longtime member of JASNA. I took a seminar on Jane Austen in college and so yes, I have read all the novels, some a few times. I have seen all the movies from the last 20 years, some scores of times. I am the audience for these books. And what fun this book was!
Jane Austen is visiting her brother in London as he is very ill. She is invited by the Price regent's librarian to his London house, and while there, she stumbles across a dying man in the library, and hears his last words: "Waterloo map." They find this map and also clear signs that he has been poisoned. Concerned for the safety of this map, she tries to find out more, and is bludgeoned in the head for her troubles. She enlists the help of the artist Raphael West and her niece Fanny (and eventually her brother Henry after he's recovered), and in the end, uncovers the truth of the murder and the map.
This is an adorable cozy mystery. Not so cozy that people aren't murdered and in danger, and there are a couple of bludgeonings and a possible second murder, but at the same time, Jane is concerned about her clothing at the Prince Regent's, and is wondering if Mr. West might be interesting in courting her, and is trying to push young fanny into the path of an eligible young man. Ms. Barron has thoroughly done her research, and this novel fits in perfectly with the known facts of Ms. Austen's whereabouts and doings at the time. She is reviewing the proof pages of Emma before it goes to press, and in a debate with the court librarian about dedicating Emma to the Prince Regent (who Ms. Austen dislikes a great deal, but she was informed what a great honor it would be for her to dedicate the book to him with his permission. It's not a request exactly. And in fact Jane Austen did dislike the Prince Regent and she did dedicate Emma to him.) For Jane Austen fans, the character of Jane here appears to act in character with what we know of her, and the facts all line up, so it's a delightful imagining of what could have been, had Jane Austen been a precursor to Nancy Drew in between writing her novels. I have the previous book and will read that one pretty quick as this book was just sheer fun and pleasant distraction through and through....more
Okay, I officially love Jill Lepore. I'm going to work on getting all her backlist. I do own her book on Ben Franklin's sister Jane, and her Wonder WoOkay, I officially love Jill Lepore. I'm going to work on getting all her backlist. I do own her book on Ben Franklin's sister Jane, and her Wonder Woman book was terrific, and this book was also fabulous. As some prehistory, I did dig up my copy of Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell, and I read the original article and the follow up one about Joe Gould (which I strongly recommend to anyone who plans to read Lepore's book.
Joe Gould claimed in the 1930s to have written (and be writing) the longest book ever--at least 8 million words, would reach 10 feet tall if all the notebooks were stacked up. He was homeless, a heavy drinker, with sketchy mental health, who had attended Harvard. Joseph Mitchell found him fascinating and wrote his original New Yorker essay, "Professor Seagull," about Gould and his book. Gould claimed to be writing an oral history of America and New York City, and he actually coined the phrase "oral history." After that article came out, Gould continued to pester Mitchell for years, and he eventually wrote the 2-part follow-up "Joe Gould's Secret" in which Mitchell concluded the oral history didn't exist. He supposedly never wrote again (not entirely true). It's as if revealing that truth broke Mr. Mitchell.
Ms. Lepore has taught Mitchell's essays and she decided to do some research and see if Mitchell's conclusions were in fact, accurate. And the answer, of course, is yes and no. In this quick little book, Ms. Lepore investigates Mr. Mitchell's research (and found some things he claims to have checked out, he obviously hadn't as he got them pretty wrong.) And she tracks down Gould's notebooks and some old friends and his medical records (his teeth were pulled out at one point in a hospital, hence her title) and tracks down what happened to him after the essays, how those essays made him famous, and impacted his life for good and ill. If you've ever read the original essays, if you're a fan of The New Yorker, or of Jill Lepore, this little gem was a delight....more
You know I love memoirs. They are my absolutely favorite thing to read. And while the publisher I now work at doesn't publish many, they do publish aYou know I love memoirs. They are my absolutely favorite thing to read. And while the publisher I now work at doesn't publish many, they do publish a few, so I jumped on them! Poor Your Soul reminded me a lot of What I Thought I Knew: A Memoir by Alice Eve Cohen, which I loved.
Mira was in grad school and in a new relationship when she discovered she was pregnant. Luckily, despite the timing, both she and Andrew decided they were happy about the turn of events and would make the best of things. They got engaged and moved in together and started to make plans for how Mira would finish school and if they would move into a bigger place (or at least an apartment without a roommate and a weird landlord.) And then they were for the ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby. And the technician wouldn't tell them anything but instead ran for the doctor. Turns out the baby has massive congenital defects that means she will not live. And now Mira and Andrew have to decide what to do and quickly: have an abortion, bring the pregnancy to term and induce, or just let it happen naturally.
Meanwhile, this brings up a lot of feelings for Mira as she's pondering the loss of her unborn child. When she was a teenager, her brother died. And now Mira feels a new connection to her mother, who lost a child. As Mira thinks back to her own childhood, she realizes how much her mother, an immigrant from Poland, struggled and worked for Mira and her brother to have a good life in America. These stories unravel in more or less parallel, even though the manner of each loss is so different. The stories weave together seamlessly. And it's fascinating to see the young adult Mira, an overachiever and rule-follower, was actually the rebellious teenager who did drugs and ran away and lived with her boyfriend. But the loss of her brother changed her life radically, in ways that would have been hard to predict. and that loss means she fully understands the loss she is now facing.
Sad but hopeful, this book joins a large set of books about tragedy and grief in families, and is a worthy companion to them....more
Che and his sister Rosa are Australian, but they move everywhere for their parents' work. They've now moved from Hong Kong to New York. Che, who is seChe and his sister Rosa are Australian, but they move everywhere for their parents' work. They've now moved from Hong Kong to New York. Che, who is seventeen, really wants a girlfriend, and he wants to box. But mostly he wants to not have to be responsible for ten-year-old Rosa all the time. And I don't mean that his parents make him babysit--no, Che fears Rosa is a psychopath and will hurt someone. He's trying to protect everyone else from Rosa.
This book was slow going for me, because it's not pleasant to read about an adorable, manipulative, dangerous psychopath. I was nervous the whole time I was reading it. There was certainly a convincing feel of ominousness and danger. I could feel a big twist coming on, but it was not what I expected at all (the red herrings were effective.) This book was chilling and disturbing and slightly evil. But that's what the author was going for, so it was also pretty darn good. It you like dark YA, this book is right up your alley....more
The perfect entrance to a long-time series is a prequel like this one, explaining how Aimee Leduc became a private investigator. I have not read any oThe perfect entrance to a long-time series is a prequel like this one, explaining how Aimee Leduc became a private investigator. I have not read any other books in the series so this was just right for me. Aimee is a university student who picks up some side work for her father, a private investigator himself, in between classes, but when he doesn't return quickly from his sudden trip to Germany, Aimee continues to look into the mysterious circumstances, even though they might not be able to bill for her time, and she could be in real trouble if she gets caught out anywhere, as her PI license is a forgery.
The action moved forward quickly and we are taken on a whip-fast trip around Paris and beyond, with multiple narrative threads to follow, and a few items that seemed unnecessary or given uneven weight, but I am pretty sure those are parts explaining the introduction of characters who are more important in the series generally, and so those scenes mean more to people already familiar to her world. She takes foolish risks but I suppose that's a character trait almost necessary in a private investigator. And while a part of this book involved flashbacks to WWII, and I do have a moratorium on WWII this year, those were handled well and didn't annoy me or feel like I've read them a hundred times before. They also didn't take over the book as WWII often does.
Overall, a solid mystery where I felt like I almost had all the clues and if I just sat down and thought about it, I could probably figure it out, but I didn't which was also nice (I hate when I figure out the twist early on or easily and the book feels like a waste of time. And the characters seem dumb for not figuring it out. Or the author is being unfair by giving readers too much information beyond what the main character has.) Well done. ...more