An insightful , compassionate tale about love and life in the moment, when a moment is all there is. Both ordinary and extraordinary, Sara and Ben kepAn insightful , compassionate tale about love and life in the moment, when a moment is all there is. Both ordinary and extraordinary, Sara and Ben kept me up all night rooting for them, as did Mahurin of course, a writer of exceptional heart, for her tender and wise depiction of love against all odds. ...more
Romantic and well-written. I like learning new things and maritime law was a first for me. Very interesting, and Max Gildea makes for a very attractivRomantic and well-written. I like learning new things and maritime law was a first for me. Very interesting, and Max Gildea makes for a very attractive protagonist. All in all, a nicely done cozy read.
Layla Fiske is an exceptionally talented storyteller. Her award-winning novel, The Fig Orchard, transported me (the highest compliment one can give aLayla Fiske is an exceptionally talented storyteller. Her award-winning novel, The Fig Orchard, transported me (the highest compliment one can give a storyteller, I feel). And it educated me, taking me places I’d never wholly considered before (an Arab Christian community in WWl Palestine). And then it completely wrapped its arms around me, first with food and smells and traditions and figures of speech foreign, but also, strangely, universal and comforting, and then with love for characters one aches to conceal and protect. I was enthralled by the characters’ journeys (and dismayed by the worse than second-class status of its women; I went to bed more than one night feeling SO immensely grateful for my right to choose or fight for absolutely anything I want).
It’s a rarity for a story to pull me so completely into another place and time, but The Fig Orchard totally drew me into its orbit. It’s got some kind of powerful thing going on, and that kind of powerful storytelling magic is something I’d like to experience more of … encore, please! ...more
I love stories with old houses, and so of course I loved Hundreds Hall. Waters’ language is so elegant and descriptive I *felt* that house, and felt II love stories with old houses, and so of course I loved Hundreds Hall. Waters’ language is so elegant and descriptive I *felt* that house, and felt I could languish in all that beauty and gothicness forever—and I almost did. At over 450+ slowly paced pages, The Little Stranger is no quick read. I didn’t find it particularly spooky and I was ready for a good spook, so I was disappointed on that count, and the tension wasn’t there for me either. But I have to give such beautiful writing 4 stars, as it was wonderfully easy to get lost in Hundreds Hall and all that gorgeous prose. ...more
Gillian Flynn is an amazing artist. I am completely enamored with her talents for pacing, tension, and character development; in the case of Dark PlacGillian Flynn is an amazing artist. I am completely enamored with her talents for pacing, tension, and character development; in the case of Dark Places, it is Libby specifically, an unlikable character, who drew me in. Libby is a victim who isn’t really over-the-top horrid, but she’s not balanced either. She is just wrong enough, on so many levels, to be completely intriguing. I couldn’t stop trying to figure her out (which thrilled me to end—nothing worse than a cookie-cutter character). The first half of the book had me. I couldn’t wait to go to bed, to read. But the last third of the book just made me want to take a shower—no, two showers. Ick, ick, and more ick. I’ll just say that Flynn has a high tolerance for mayhem, which is one of the two reasons I gave this novel four stars instead of five, because some of the book’s passages were just too, too excruciating for my delicate sensibilities. I can’t tell you what the other reason is because it would spoil the ending (which I couldn’t wait to get past anyway), but here’s a hint: there’s a character, an “add-on” who’s a gimmick in my opinion, and so I felt let down with the wrap-up (as well as needing a shower). ...more
I really wanted to like this book a whole lot more than I did. First off, Messud’s prose, as always, is fall-down beautiful. And the ending is a hugeI really wanted to like this book a whole lot more than I did. First off, Messud’s prose, as always, is fall-down beautiful. And the ending is a huge surprise.
But here’s the other side (and I love words and literary fiction, so this is another surprise): it’s just not a very interesting story. I still want my litfic to have some tension, just even one thing to be curious about, some reason to turn the page—but, for me, this one just didn’t have it, no matter that Claire Messud can put a sentence together better than almost anyone else writing. Unfortunately, a hundred pages into The Woman Upstairs, and I just wanted to cry, period. ...more
It’s the holidays, so it’s taken me more time to get around to posting a few comments about The Silent Wife than it did to actually read it (I finisheIt’s the holidays, so it’s taken me more time to get around to posting a few comments about The Silent Wife than it did to actually read it (I finished at least two weeks ago).
To begin with, I liked this well-written literary psychological read quite a lot—four stars’ worth. I loved the subtlety and intriguing slow reveal (and feeling stumped a couple times, too, because that doesn’t usually happen for me). The characters are fascinating. Watching them is a little like looking at some weird bugs under glass, they’re so … different. But did I like them? Are you kidding? About as much as I like okra.
But are the characters human? Yes, although unlike anyone I’ve met (but then how well do we know anyone, let alone their “marriage”? I could know tons of screwy people and maybe not know it).
I’d much rather read about interesting (read: flawed) people than ordinary ones … and that’s the second aspect of this book that’s stumped me: the mixed customer reviews. I’ve read several and there’re two common negative threads: the characters are unlikeable, and/or readers felt they’d been sold a bill of goods by some (albeit over-exuberant) marketer who likened The Silent Wide to Gone Girl.
The Silent Wife is not Gone Girl, of course. How could it be? Yet I’m handing one over to the ad person who came up with that line, which, by the way, we all ran for-- brilliant). The ONLY similarity between the two novels is that both have a disintegrated relationship at their centers.
The Silent wife has also been marketed as a “thriller,” and as “suspense.” In my opinion, it’s neither. It relies more on character nuances than plotting for forward movement, but it’s still a great ride … highly recommend for those who love literary fiction.
Well, this book did some serious damage to my sleep patterns last week; it IS just that riveting. I’m still thinking about it, and I’m reminded of theWell, this book did some serious damage to my sleep patterns last week; it IS just that riveting. I’m still thinking about it, and I’m reminded of the old saying, “You sit down to dinner, the phone rings and, like that, the world as you know it changes forever.” And that’s pretty much what happened to Larry Edwards. He got the call that both his parents had been murdered on their ship, on the high seas —and of course that call became his life’s seminal moment, when everything he’d ever known about himself shifted, leaving him standing in a maelstrom of grief, anger, and understandable frustration. This well-written book has many elements to it. It’s a story about family, and of intrigue, and the quest for an elusive justice. What really struck me, though—and there is much here that is moving and eye-opening—is Edwards’ personal journey through the harrowing stages of a horrific grief, a journey that stands on its own, remarkably open and honest, and the way Edwards presents it, completely relatable. ...more
“One Book, One San Diego” is a community reading program (partnered by KPBS and the San Diego Library) wherein San Diego readers select, read and crit“One Book, One San Diego” is a community reading program (partnered by KPBS and the San Diego Library) wherein San Diego readers select, read and critique one book en masse.
This year’s selection is Geraldine Brook’s Crossing Caleb, ostensibly the story of Caleb, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard University, in 1665. I say ostensibly, because we know Caleb solely through the eyes and voice of Bethia Mayfield, daughter of a Calvinist minister, so Crossing Caleb is really Bethia’s story, in my opinion—which is fine. What’s really interesting is that Bethia tells her story (and, ergo, Caleb’s) in archaic, but gorgeously lyrical, 17th century language (and you can forget about finding the Kindle definitions for many of these now obsolete words, because our smart Kindles know they’re obsolete … I figured most of them out, though, to my satisfaction at least, by context).
I found the history fascinating, especially how hard Puritan life was—and I mean hard— and the clash between Calvinist and Native American cultures, and the—ugh—oppression of women in a patriarchal society. What I didn’t experience (and I think I was supposed to) was the depth and breadth of a twin-soul relationship between Bethia and Caleb. While the author discloses that information on the historical Caleb is thin, she had license, by virtue of this being fictionalized history, to depict a fully fleshed-out character. But what I got was a cipher. Bethia told me what Caleb looked like, and relayed words he spoke, but I never felt him, his essence, his draw, and so, while I knew and appreciated many other things in Bethia’s life—her yearning for education and her resentment toward her brother, for two—I rarely experienced Bethia’s Caleb. He remained elusive for me.
In light of the awe I have for Ms. Brook’s ambition and talent, and the fact that I was more than satisfied on so many other levels, I almost feel as if this is a niggling criticism—but, on the other hand, if this is to be a true review about the larger story of a woman touched by a man who defied the convention of his time and culture and voluntarily left his tribe for immersion in English education and religion, then that man had to have been super-extraordinary … I missed out on that oh-so-close opportunity to see and know him. ...more
4.5! Wow, this was a ride and a half! A fast-paced, interesting, thought provoking, edge- of-your-seat story about clandestine military medical experi4.5! Wow, this was a ride and a half! A fast-paced, interesting, thought provoking, edge- of-your-seat story about clandestine military medical experimentation, telekinesis, mind control, abuse, and love. Knowles is a master of pacing. I see Bruce Willis (as Reid) in the movie version. And Ryan Gosling IS Joel Carpenter! Impossible to put down … highly recommend! ...more
At first I wasn’t sure about this book, and not because the writing isn’t competent (it is more than competent; it is completely luminous), or that IAt first I wasn’t sure about this book, and not because the writing isn’t competent (it is more than competent; it is completely luminous), or that I didn’t care about the narrator who has Alzheimer’s (are you kidding? I wanted her for my mom).
It’s a silly reason, actually, but here it is: I couldn’t see how just one voice/narrator, and a grand total of three somewhat peripheral characters (as it turns out, because we don’t spend much time with them) would be enough to sustain a whole book (and me, who loves boatloads of characters and plot arcs intersecting plot arcs).
Well, what do I know? I was not only sustained, I was transported, and by 2am (when I should’ve been sleeping in prep for an early morning call), I was changed.
No spoilers here. Suffice to say that Auburn McCarta (an award-winning writer, and this book also picked up a recent award) is amazingly gifted. She moved me. She made me grateful for her work. She made heartbreaking moments exquisitely felt, but she also made me laugh, and she gave me understanding, too (those who know me know that my husband was also a victim of dementia). She made me want to buy a hundred copies of her book and give them all away, so everybody can feel and understand what this story evokes, that’s how important I think McCarta and All the Dancing Birds are.
I hope this novel gets the promotion it needs and so richly deserves. I hope it’s put in every library, and out there on every blog, and that it’s not constantly compared to Lisa Genova’s Still Alice (also about a woman with Alzheimer’s—and Genova promoted Still Alice like nobody’s business), because we don’t need to compare the two. Yes, they share a focus, but they are different stories, very differently constructed. I highly recommend the beautifully wrought All the Dancing Birds—it’s a story that will stay with me for a long, long time. ...more
I LOVED this book! If I could give it 10 stars I would. It’s smart, it’s meaty, and it’s relevant. Another reviewer characterized it as an “issues” stI LOVED this book! If I could give it 10 stars I would. It’s smart, it’s meaty, and it’s relevant. Another reviewer characterized it as an “issues” story … if it is, then I’m an “issues” kind of reader; I like stories that make me think. I also admire this book’s structure—Skomal had a lot to balance here and she did it with grace and panache and real feeling for her characters—I know she felt for them because she made me feel for them, too. Skomal is a writer to be reckoned with, and this a book you just shouldn't miss. ...more
Margaret Atwood’s Booker Prize-winning novel, The Blind Assassin, is without a doubt of the most fascinating, complex novels ever ever ever … it is stMargaret Atwood’s Booker Prize-winning novel, The Blind Assassin, is without a doubt of the most fascinating, complex novels ever ever ever … it is stories within stories; at its heart about family (specifically, two sisters and their secrets), deceit and love and mistrust and turned tables. Though at times I became so exasperated I wanted to throw my Kindle against the wall (the science fiction story bugged), there were (obviously) many more times I just couldn’t put this book down.
My takeaway line (I admit I cried; I know firsthand about losing a sister):
“Laura was my left hand, and I was hers. We wrote the book together. It’s a left-handed book. That’s why one of us is always out of sight, whichever way you look at it.”
Admittedly, The Blind Assassin is not a novel for everyone; it is pedantic at times, and self-indulgent. It is also brilliant, and gloriously, heartbreakingly real. It is a book to reread, because, trust me, you won’t “get” it all the first time, that’s just how clever Ms. Atwood is with her material. Highly recommend for very patient readers who love conundrums within conundrums.