I read this book expecting it to be much more scandalous than it really was. I liked the story and found it to be very well-written, but I found it to...moreI read this book expecting it to be much more scandalous than it really was. I liked the story and found it to be very well-written, but I found it to be a bit more towards the Jane Austen end of the spectrum than I would have liked.(less)
I really enjoyed this book because I felt such a connection that can only come from a shared journey. While I am not a lesbian, I am the mother of two...moreI really enjoyed this book because I felt such a connection that can only come from a shared journey. While I am not a lesbian, I am the mother of two girls, so the bumpy road of pregnancy and all of the resulting negativity, pregnancy brain, and insecurity felt like transcriptions from the journal I wish I'd kept. That said, I highly recommend this book and reading more of Askowitz's work.(less)
This book looked like it was going to be sort of naughty, especially since the cover has a review comparing the author to Anais Nin, but it was really...moreThis book looked like it was going to be sort of naughty, especially since the cover has a review comparing the author to Anais Nin, but it was really more hokey than anything. Hm, yes, let me visualize running away with a millionaire to Romania where we will have conceive the next wunderkind... Not gonna work. This feel-good drivel fluff was too painful to finish, even by skipping around to look for good stuff after a straight run became impossible. At least I got it at Goodwill instead of paying full price!(less)
I really enjoyed this book. There was a sense of adventure and not knowing where the story would go next but still seeing the developments as totally...moreI really enjoyed this book. There was a sense of adventure and not knowing where the story would go next but still seeing the developments as totally logical, even when Maurice moves in with Sarah's husband. Greene has a way with words and emotion and the struggles within that I have yet to see. Although I started reading this out of a fondness for the movie Donnie Darko (Greene's story "The Destructors" is discussed and integrated at length in the film), I continued because I could not put it down. Even after reading, it's a book that I still think about.(less)
This book was engaging and emotional. The bit about the absurd boyfriend was a ticking time bomb throwing off sparks of sadness until it pretty much f...moreThis book was engaging and emotional. The bit about the absurd boyfriend was a ticking time bomb throwing off sparks of sadness until it pretty much fizzled out. All in all, good book, cop-out ending. Seriously, she should have at least identified who appeared at the bench!(less)
This book is something special. Parts of it read like a choose-your-own-adventure entry, although I cannot say I was disappointed not to be given a ch...moreThis book is something special. Parts of it read like a choose-your-own-adventure entry, although I cannot say I was disappointed not to be given a choice in which spiral path I was to take. Also reminiscent of that genre is the book's layout, jumping around almost at random between time and place, weaving a shimmering web of the storylines. The only problem is that these can be a bit confusing. Sometimes I found myself struggling to keep up or wondering if certain characters were others in disguise. Had the story been laid out in a more straightforward way, I would have given this book full marks.
I really,really loved the whole circus. I loved seeing how it came about, what made it work, and what happened within. I was sad to see how things turned out, hoping for a happier ending, but it was still satisfying. In a way, I am still enjoying it, thinking about what I read, imagining new tents and plots that could have fit in.(less)
This book was really good. I loved how well the characters were developed as well as how they interacted. It seemed realistic to me in that way, espec...moreThis book was really good. I loved how well the characters were developed as well as how they interacted. It seemed realistic to me in that way, especially since the characters weren't completely perfect. I will say that at times it was hard to tell/keep track of who was talking at times and the British slang sometimes took some doing to decipher for someone from smalltown Indiana. Still, it was joy to read and probably was well-researched by the author's own musical journey as the member of a popular band.(less)
I saw the movie with my daughter and coworker when it came out in theaters. It was absolutely love at first sight, even though I could see definite al...moreI saw the movie with my daughter and coworker when it came out in theaters. It was absolutely love at first sight, even though I could see definite allusions to Romeo and Juliet. Needless to say, I could not wait to get my hands on the book. Surprisingly, I did not have to look beyond the local library. Craving more of what I felt as I watched the film, I had high hopes that the book would be every bit as good. I was not disappointed.
From the first page, I get a clear sense of who R is and what he is about. Just as promised, his inner life is quite rich. His way with words can be quite lovely, even when describing something less than dignified. He speaks with an eloquence many of the Living have abandoned as they become as mechanical and bleak-minded as the Dead. This is a wonderful paradox that truly sets the stage for an attempt to tip the scales on an apocalyptic world-wide scale.
What the movie glosses over are some of the things that make the book so unique. I really enjoy the new little ideas that Marion touches upon, such as the dynamics of dead society and how it effects R. I really think it is inventive to show the unfulfilling "love" lives of the zombies and how they manifest. The conventions and pitfalls of today's relationships are sort of there, just in a different form. I really loved hearing about the zombie with the name tag. Unfortunately, her story seems slightly unfulfilled in the end, even though this probably says more about what needs to happen after the story ends. I also wonder what becomes of the children. R experiences a bond with them,and I wonder how Marion would imagine it playing out. Since this version of the book calls it #1 in a series, I hope these questions are eventually addressed. I sort of wish these had more of a part in the movie so others could have it creep into their thoughts as well.
I also appreciate that the book has its romance but is not afraid to go dark. Sex is something ugly at times in the book, particularly among the Dead or when it is used as a commodity. One page can be touched with fluff only to give way to grisly imagery of feeding or torture. Because it is so organic, it feels real to me instead of jarring. The freedom of language in a world where morals are no longer the forefront seems more authentic to me as well.
All in all, this is the most satisfying read I have completed in quite some time. I highly recommend it to romantics, cynics, and the rest.
Once I saw the meaning behind the title and got over my initial shock (wonderful marketing ploy, eh?), I was excited to read this one. I love voluntee...moreOnce I saw the meaning behind the title and got over my initial shock (wonderful marketing ploy, eh?), I was excited to read this one. I love volunteering, and although I will likely never get to do so abroad, this was a way to see what that would be like and live vicariously for a bit. At some points, not having to experience these things firsthand was quite the blessing. I have done my share of back-breaking labor and am happy to escape mucking an elephant house repeatedly. Other points in the text made me wish I could see such beautiful landscapes and majestic creatures up close as Haynes was able to. I felt the ups and downs of the trials of the human spirit, and I found myself doing little inner cheers whenever she persevered. Through it all, she shone and kept her sharp wit and keen sense of humor.
The writing itself is pretty good. What really bothered me was the incredible amount of errors with grammar. I would imagine this coming from someone who vanity published before letting any other set of eyes take in the work, but she thanked an editor for her services. That editor should either feel ashamed for doing such a crappy job or take some more lessons. I have sometimes put down books with far less mistakes. It would have been a shame for me to have missed this one because of it.(less)
When I chose this book, I was intrigued by the bold cover design and visceral title and immediately captured by the glowing reviews of the awesome Ant...moreWhen I chose this book, I was intrigued by the bold cover design and visceral title and immediately captured by the glowing reviews of the awesome Anthony Bourdain and other food world superstars, eager to take the hint that this was a book I should be reading. After all, what more could I wish for out of a book that seemed so outwardly awesome? Wait...did someone say something about a book-cover judging contest?
What I found inside was a tad less exciting. I loved hearing about her rough formative years framed by the idyllic. Her marriage of convenience angered me. I wanted to see her happy, for the two of them to work it out and fall very deeply in love, but I suppose settling for seeing her get what she deserved for entering a loveless marriage made sense as well. The details were very nice, vivid and carefully chosen. The choosing of exact episodes could have used a bit more work, since some seemed trivial or boring, droning on longer than I would like. If she had written an entire book about the bonfire era of her childhood, I would have been happy. Sometimes I think she just wanted to cover everything, being a bit more secretive as time went, or perhaps she was rushing to finish the book. Whatever the reasoning, there was a degradation of quality as the page numbers grew larger. For this reason, I would call this book deceptively slim, as in it seems short enough in pages, but certain parts really drag on.
All in all, I appreciated learning about the life of someone so different from me, and I am glad to have been enriched by learning about a different way of life. I am also glad I picked this up from the library for next to nothing instead of paying anything approaching retail.(less)
I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It surprised me, pleasantly, in many ways. It let me down only in that it ended too soon.
When I first picked up this...moreI enjoyed this book quite a bit. It surprised me, pleasantly, in many ways. It let me down only in that it ended too soon.
When I first picked up this book, I expected the author to merely parade grisly experiences before me, making me thankful for my civilian life and giving me a new-found awe for those who can handle this most difficult profession. I wasn't really expecting much in the way of wording or decorum. When I read that brown is a former professor who taught at prestigious Tufts University, I assumed she left because she couldn't hack it. Instead, I saw how a natural, easy talent for words created an aura around the narrative, giving the book a shimmer of sophisticated prose. The words rarely got in the way of the story-telling, except in instances of her penchant for overusing certain words (savvy is a major offender). In a way, I think her teaching didn't serve as much a a previous life before she chose nursing as much as a primer to share her story and transcending messages. She knits stories together through time into a storyline more than merely a timeline. She shares her lessons but does not preach. These are the earmarks of genuinely good storytelling. The details she chooses are meaningful, interesting.
Just as important as what she tells and how is what she has omitted. I admired her strength while reading about her accident and return to duty, afraid the accident would cost her the dream. I would have been disappointed to see the book turn selfishly to cover the minutae of her recovery, the physical therapy sessions, the grim expressions on her doctors' faces when they tell her of the severity of her accident like a cheap TV movie. I was also glad to see her home life stayed in the background, giving patients and work their rightful amount of spotlight.
In my personal life, I seek experiences to write about to relay to others. This book showed me how to do that the proper way to approach this. For that reason, this was a valuable read. (less)
When I received this book for advanced reviewing, I was pleased to find the author was kind enough to write me a little note inside; the matching book...moreWhen I received this book for advanced reviewing, I was pleased to find the author was kind enough to write me a little note inside; the matching bookmark was avery nice touch as well. As a little side note, such small, intimate touches do not go unnoticed. I will also note this did not shade my opinion of the work itself.
As far as the book itself, I am giving "Ashes to Water" 4 stars out of 5, but it is closer to a 4.5. The story was imaginative, insightful, hard to put down, but not perfect. I loved the beauty of the language, the way details and descriptions seemed very real, or at least very beautiful or hard-hitting. reading the author bio and seeing Ziegler's stage experience made me think that in some ways she wrote these things as a playwright would, in a way in which the words must do so much more than say a line--they must characterize, move plot along, etc., in a way that is minced in so much of regular writing. Other times, the descriptions disappointed me a bit, as I wasn't sure what was being said. I read the chapter about Marguerite and Eugene in the boat several times, trying to discern how much was coincidence, how much was planning, and whether I had just missed something that would make it less surprising. Sometimes it seemed like ideas needed a bit more fleshing out to tell me what I needed to know. Still, I found my way through and enjoyed the liveliness of her wording. I write like this much of the time, so it was good to see someone else using a similar style.
As far as characterization, I really liked the characters. They were quite diverse, in appearance, jobs, mentality. I liked how different chapters had different viewpoints and knowledge bases, and these were kept separate quite carefully. I think the scene of Dade fishing near the end was nice, something he more or less deserved or would appreciate. Even when a character had bad points, they were usually endowed with good aspects too, which created rounder, better characters. The insight into pyromania, firefighting, addiction, family bonds, and mental illness seemed well-researched and fresh compared to what I have seen elsewhere. It made me wonder how much she knew before setting pen to paper and what led her to these niches of experience. Too often today is writing lazy, with authors sticking to what they know or what is popular, so these little details make Ziegler stand apart as an artisan in her characterizations.
The story moved along pretty well. It didn't lag, although the clip seemed to combust near the end in an almost hurried fashion. Things started to be mentioned rather than happen, and the ends that were so tangled may have been a bit frayed before they were neatly tied up. I think the death toll was a bit high, and I would like to know a bit more about what happened to Annie and her sister and even the lake after the book ends, but I suppose that leaves more room for another volume. Perhaps reading the Lake House book sometime will help clear some of this up.
All in all, the book was not perfect but its sins were forgiveable. I am glad to have read it and find its merits many.(less)
I truly enjoyed this collection, mostly because it was all about taking chances. There were stories involving gender roles, cross-dressing, gay issues...moreI truly enjoyed this collection, mostly because it was all about taking chances. There were stories involving gender roles, cross-dressing, gay issues, subcultures and cultures, BDSM, and so much more. Each story found a way to go beyond the rudimentary motions of sex to find a way to say something more about society as well as the individual. There were opportunities to see a character get into something he or she had not experienced before, and it was refreshing to see some doubt, some trial and error; in that way, the characters were much more human than mere manifestations of animal instict. There were roads to travel, narrow little perilous bridges to cross, relationships at stake. To me, that is more exciting than just reading the "hot" parts and not having more than a sham of a story to drape them.
I liked being able to see these stories play out and have to think about how I would feel or what I would do in the situation if I had the guts, which I usually don't in my mild-mannered reality. Maybe after reading this, I will reconsider some of my boundaries that I keep and how firm they really should be.
What I did not like so much was the story about the robbers. I cannot see her just going for a tryst with the criminals like that. Also, if the cops find her with them like that, she's in trouble as well because she's going to look like an accomplice. A bit of the writing in the rest of the book was a bit flimsy. There were a few typos, including one character being called by another character's name, but overall, the editing was fairly well-done. This was an exciting collection with a bit of something for everyone who wants to see evidence of more exciting sex lives.(less)
I went into this book with no expectations, and came away wanting more from my life. I wanted to fawn over a best friend like Rachael does, even thoug...moreI went into this book with no expectations, and came away wanting more from my life. I wanted to fawn over a best friend like Rachael does, even though that is not the point of the story of all. I wanted to experience love and heartache in the big city even though I am notoriously small-town. In short, I wanted the adventure this novel hinted at so well.
Technically, the novel is quite good. I could do without the incessant namedropping, which is reminiscent of "The Devil Wears Prada." I feel this dates and narrows the piece unneededly. Still, at times I did enjoy being able to connect a location with a real landmark.
All in all, this novel is really good. If only I could get my hands on the sequel, "Something Blue."(less)