I enjoyed this book, but it was no where nearly as good as The Time Traveler's Wife. This is a story about relationships, love, loss, identity, indepeI enjoyed this book, but it was no where nearly as good as The Time Traveler's Wife. This is a story about relationships, love, loss, identity, independence and secrets.
The main characters are Julia and Valentina, American twins who inherit a flat in London after their aunt passes away from cancer. They have never met her and there is a stipulation in her will that they must live in the flat together for a year and that their parents must not step foot in the flat. Julia & Valentina's mother and aunt are also twins, Elspeth and Edie. Elspeth and Edie have not seen each other since Edie ran off with Elspeth's fiance twenty years earlier. The twins also meet Robert, Elspeth's lover who lives in the flat beneath hers and who has been given the few of her possessions that she doesn't want the twins to have, namely, her diaries. However, he takes a long time to meet them once they have moved in. Their other neighbor in the building is Martin, a man who is severely OCD (to the point of not being able to leave his flat) and whose wife Marijke has recently left him.
Obviously, there are a lot of stories going on in this book. One big leap of reading faith that you have to take with this book, is that Elspeth comes back as a ghost. I didn't have a problem with accepting that, it's literary license. I think my problem is that other than the relationships themselves, there wasn't a focused plot until half-way through the book and towards the end of the book there was a moment where I literally said "WTF?" because it just got a little too crazy for me.
I enjoy Audrey Niffenegger's writing style and that kept me going through the book. She writes about topics in a very unconventional way and I did devour this book. I'm not sure I can completely put my finger on why it didn't move me, but there was something just a little too ridiculous about the story. Perhaps it was just that everyone was truly lonely, even with people around them and that none of the relationships were healthy....more
This is the first, and possibly only, book I've ever read by Patricia Cornwell. I've heard that Body Of Evidence is a great book but this book was preThis is the first, and possibly only, book I've ever read by Patricia Cornwell. I've heard that Body Of Evidence is a great book but this book was pretty much awful. It was a bookclub read that they decided to change the day I fished it. Don't waste your time....more
I don't think I would have finished this book if it wasn't for the fact that it is a bookclub read. That being said, I actually did enjoy it once I goI don't think I would have finished this book if it wasn't for the fact that it is a bookclub read. That being said, I actually did enjoy it once I got back a horribly boring beginning. The book was an odd cross between sci-fci, chick-lit and young adult fiction. It didn't quite know what it was which is why parts of it didn't work, but once I got nearly half way through, I actually started to care about some of the characters. ...more
I have gotten sucked into the Twilight series (no pun intended) and enjoyed this book, but it wasn't as good as the first. I agree with another reviewI have gotten sucked into the Twilight series (no pun intended) and enjoyed this book, but it wasn't as good as the first. I agree with another reviewer that the beginning was okay, the middle great and the last part of the book sort of blah. ...more
The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second installment in what was supposed to be a 12 book series but ultimately only is going to be three since theThe Girl Who Played with Fire is the second installment in what was supposed to be a 12 book series but ultimately only is going to be three since the author passed away while writing them. As with the first book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I devoured this one and had a hard time putting it down in order to do important things like pick up my child from daycare.
Whereas the first installment took a good 40-50 pages to get into, this one started off with a bang, although it still took a decent portion for the drama to start happening. This book focuses more on Lisbeth Salander who we knew from the first book had a mysterious past that caused her to distrust most poeple.
This book takes off a year after the mystery in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ends and Lisbeth Salander has spent most of the time away from Sweden and out of contact with any of her friends. Back in Sweden, as the synopsis says, Mikael Blomkvist has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. When the two researchers of the piece are murdered, a gun with Salander's fingerprints is found at the scene and she is immediately a suspect. With her history of violence and a stint in a child psychiatric unit, the police believe she is guilty and don't search for other suspects. Blomkvist can't imagine that Salander has committed the crime and leads his own private investigation.
This is a fast paced engaging read. Larsson spins numerous stories into one strong piece. He takes strong social commentary and weaves it into his stories. His main point of view is that he hates men who hate women and that is the basis for the character of Lisbeth Salander as well as a big part of the plots of both books.
The end of this book left me longing to pick up the next one. Too bad I'm going to have to wait until March to do that....more
I can't believe that I'm saying this, but I really enjoyed this book. The first 75 pages or so didn't capture my attention much, but I found myself coI can't believe that I'm saying this, but I really enjoyed this book. The first 75 pages or so didn't capture my attention much, but I found myself completely sucked in (no pun intended) to the book from there. ...more
I really loved The Secret Life of Bees so when I saw this book on sale for $1 at the library book sale, I figured I couldn't lose. I enjoyed reading iI really loved The Secret Life of Bees so when I saw this book on sale for $1 at the library book sale, I figured I couldn't lose. I enjoyed reading it, but it was no where nearly as good as her earlier work.
This is the story of Jessie, a middle-aged woman who has been married for 20 years and who is semi-estranged from her mother. When she has to return to the island she grew up on to take care of her mother, she confronts some deeply repressed issues in her life and through the course of the book, deals with them along with her mother's issues.
It was an interesting read but lacked the depth and plot of The Secret Life of Bees. I believe Sue Monk Kidd's intention was that the reader was supposed to care more about the characters in this book, but other than the mother, I found them rather lacking, and the book didn't really focus on her. I didn't mind seeing this book end....more
When I picked this book up at the library book sale, I had the mistaken idea that it was the story the movie "The Interpreter" was based on. I was wroWhen I picked this book up at the library book sale, I had the mistaken idea that it was the story the movie "The Interpreter" was based on. I was wrong. I was expecting a thriller of sorts and this was nothing of the genre. Rather, it is a very descriptive narrative dealing with moral dilemmas of when divulge information.
The story is of Dominique Green and Nicholas Manzini who narrate alternate chapters (not one of my favorite styles of writing). Dominique is a simultaneous interpreter in NY. Nicholas is an Italian doctor conducting pediatric leukemia research for a pharmaceutical company in NY. The dilemma stems from the time that Dominique overhears two men talking about a potential AIDS treatment while working at a medical conference. As she has a very close friend dying of AIDS, she struggles with the decision to tell anyone what she hears or to stay true to the oath of translators to never divulge what they hear.
Interwoven into the question of how to deal with this secret is the love story between Dominique and Nicholas. What the reader knows, and what Dominique doesn't, is that Nicholas is the man behind the AIDS treatment. He is facing his own dilemma of whether to tell the pharmaceutical company he is currently working for about his discovery, even when he didn't follow all protocols in his work, or to bring his findings to another company even if it means delaying when a treatment can get out to the public.
I very nearly put the book down and didn't finish it, but instead read a book in between. The story was interesting and the moral dilemma that Dominique fought with kept me just enough to finish it out, although when I put the book down for good, I still felt that there was something missing....more
This book is hugely popular with bookclubs, has gotten rave reviews and there are people who "gush" over this book. Why?!? If it wasn't for the fact tThis book is hugely popular with bookclubs, has gotten rave reviews and there are people who "gush" over this book. Why?!? If it wasn't for the fact that my bookclub picked it and I was curious to see why so many people loved it, I highly doubt I would have finished it. The characters were flat and the story highly predictable.
The story is written in letter format primarily between the characters of Juliet, Sidney, Sophie, Dawsey and Amelia. Juliet is a writer looking for a new book to write after WWII, Sidney is her best friend Sophie's brother and also her publisher, and Dawsey and Amelia are two of the characters who make up the Literary Society.
There are some charming moments, but overall, it was just another mediocre book that has gotten way too much attention....more
The year was 1962. The location, Jackson, Mississippi. The deep South prior to desegregation was a place where most comfortable white households had aThe year was 1962. The location, Jackson, Mississippi. The deep South prior to desegregation was a place where most comfortable white households had a black woman doing all of the housework and taking care of the children. Where people had separate bathrooms in their homes (or garages) so that their spaces wouldn't be "contaminated" by the germs their help carried. It was a time when white women only went to college in order to get a "Mrs." This is the scene that Kathryn Stockett elegantly paints in her novel "The Help."
The story is told from the voices of three very different women - Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter. Aibileen is the hired help to Miss Elizabeth Leefot.. Aibileen herself has raised 17 white children and one of her own. Aibilene follows the unwritten rules that direct the help to keep their noses and their minds to themselves. Minny is also hired help, but she has a much bigger problem with keeping her mind to herself. She can cook "like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue" which has lost her many a job. Miss Skeeter is a young white woman who just graduated from college, moved back home and wants to be a journalist or writer. These women wind up coming together when Miss Skeeter decides to write a book about the black women who raise white babies.
Miss Skeeter comes from the world of white privilege. Her family owns a cotton farm and she was raised by a black nanny - Constantine. She considered Constantine her closest friend and confidante, wrote letters to her while away at college and returned home shocked to find that she had been fired. No one would talk to Skeeter about what happened to Constantine. Instead, she was simply expected to become part of wealthy white society - she is the editor of the Junior League's newsletter, plays weekly bridge games with her closest friends from childhood, and plays tennis at the club. But it leaves her unfulfilled.
Skeeter gets a job writing the "Miss Myrna" column at the local paper. This is the housekeeping column where people write in their questions and she is supposed to answer them. She takes the job as an opportunity to get something on her resume, but being raised with help, she knows nothing about the subject. She approaches Aibileen, who works for her friend Elizabeth, to help her. In the process, she comes up with another story to write that goes against everything she was raised to think.
This book was beautiful. Kathryn Stockett captured each woman's voice perfectly. You quickly come to understand these strong women and the challenges that each of them face. While it is a work of fiction, the civil rights movement is definitely a part of our history, but this is also a side that most people have not seen. I could not put this book down and would highly recommend it to anyone....more
This was an interesting read which brought back a ton of memories from my one semester at Smith and left me wondering what it would have been like fo me to finish me education there.
Commencement is the story of Celia, Bree, Sally and April, four women who met each other at Smith. We read of each of their choices at Smith and beyond. Their relationship changes when one gets married, but of course they do manage to retain their friendship.
By the end the book was getting predictable, but it was an enjoyable read....more
Another light read from James Patterson. The Alex Cross books are one of his best series and this has him chasing a serial killer and rapist who he beAnother light read from James Patterson. The Alex Cross books are one of his best series and this has him chasing a serial killer and rapist who he believes killed his wife over 10 years earlier....more
On one level, this book is about "mommy madness." As Warner explains in her foreward, this is "the insane sort of perfectionistic and hyper-controllinOn one level, this book is about "mommy madness." As Warner explains in her foreward, this is "the insane sort of perfectionistic and hyper-controlling behaviors that so many mothers engage in today." But it is also about a crazy time in American history where the middle class is being reduced to nothingness. As Warner explains:
"It's about the way that mothers' (and fathers) behaviors have been perverted by social and economic forces that they feel they cannot control. It's about how that feeling of being out of control drives them to parent in ways that are contrary to their better instincts, their deepest values, and the best interests of their children."
When I first got the book it was minus the foreward and instead immediately began with tales from a group of mothers in Washington DC who all felt stressed and lost and generally in a mess. Warner brought an interesting perspective as an American who had only recently moved back to the states. She had her first child in Paris and moved to DC when her second was 6 months old. She had a unique viewpoint on how American working mothers carried a sense of guilt with them - something I've fought with and the reason the book called to me. Guilt from the media, parenting magazines, pressure about breast-feeding, attachment parenting craziness etc ad nauseum.
Why are moms these days suffering the way we do?
1. We are a generation of control freaks - we feel the need to control our children, our bodies, our homes etc. 2. The women's liberation movement of the '70s gave us many more choices but it didn't change the underlying way that women and certain responsibilities are viewed. 3. Today's generation of moms saw what their mothers went through and didn't want to see history repeat itself but don't exactly know how to make changes that also make them happy. 4. Our current economic and political realities that have squeezed out the middle class make it seem that much more pressing to be the "best" and increases the general sense of pressure parents feel to make sure their children achieve what they haven't been able to.
This book was fascinating. The simple fact is "we can't do it all because we can't be it all." Warner not only talks about all of the emotions behind all of this, but by the end she brings in a ton of politics. She says a great deal about how family friendly policies have been "stymied by the Holy War that rages between social conservatives and feminists." That there is no middle ground between a vision of women's equality and the Christian fundamentalist viewpoint of family values. There were definitely pieces that were dull and needed to be skimmed through, but on the whole, this was a fascinating read. ...more
If I could give half stars, I would give this book 3 1/2 stars. It was a very good read, it just was't "great."
Sarah's Key tells the story of the Vel'If I could give half stars, I would give this book 3 1/2 stars. It was a very good read, it just was't "great."
Sarah's Key tells the story of the Vel' d'Hiv, the roundup of Jewish families in France in 1942. On July 16, 1942, nearly 13,000 Jews were taken from their homes, taken to the Vel' d'Hiv, transported to local camps in France and then deported to Aushwitz where the majority of them perished. The French police were involved in the roundup and years later, this is a part of Holocaust history that most people don't know about. The underlying history lesson in Sarah's Key was fascinating and expertly told.
As for the fiction portion of the story, Sarah's Key is the tale of two women whose lives get intertwined when one researches the story of the Vel' d'Hiv. Sarah was a little girl who was taken away in the roundup. Julia Jarmond is a 45 year old American who lives in Paris as a journalist and who is given the assignment to write about the 60th anniversary of the Vel' d'Hiv. She soon learns that the apartment she and her husband are renovating, which has been in his family for years, was the home of Sarah and her family. Julia has a compelling need to uncover Sarah's story.
A book well worth reading, but something about the second half of the book just fell flat for me....more
I could not put this book down. It was one of those books that sucks you in and you wind up staying up until 2 am trying to read just a little bit morI could not put this book down. It was one of those books that sucks you in and you wind up staying up until 2 am trying to read just a little bit more.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has a few plot lines that are interwoven to create a mystery that spans 40 years. The story centers on a journalist named Mikael Blomvist who has just been sentenced to 3 months in prison for printing a libelous article in the magazine he runs again a business hot-shot named Wennerstrom. After his sentencing, which includes a decent monetary payment as well, he is approached by Henrick Vanger, an octogenarian businessman who wants Blomvist to research his family to find out what happened to his 16 year old neice, Harriet, who disappeared in 1966.
Blomvist is joined by Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant yet somewhat socially dysfunctional hacker who helps him do research. There is also a separate plot line that deals with her background and issues.
Within all of this, there is family intrigue, backstabbing, religious symbolism, mystery, and romance. The first 50 pages or so are a bit daunting, requiring more brain power then I had to give, but once you hit that point, the flood gates open up and this is an amazing page turner. ...more
looked like an interesting read but this was awful. the main character was devoid of any redeeming qualities and while there were a few interesting tilooked like an interesting read but this was awful. the main character was devoid of any redeeming qualities and while there were a few interesting tidbits about orthodox jewish living, I couldn't recommend this book to anyone....more
There were a lot of negative reviews about this book, but I think it's because many people are not quite ready to read a book with an opening sentenceThere were a lot of negative reviews about this book, but I think it's because many people are not quite ready to read a book with an opening sentence of “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.” I found this book to be incredibly gripping. It was very well written, and you were drawn in to actually feel something for the daughter.
The story is told by Helen, a 50 something woman who is worn out from looking after her elderly mother. Her father passed away some 20 years earlier and her mother is suffering from dementia and has long been agoraphobic and basically mentally unstable. We slowly learn more about Helen and her family through flashbacks and memories.
What Helen has done is shocking; the act of killing her mother is definitely not the last thing to shock you though. And yet, you somehow understand what she has done and feel for her. She has gone through so many things that have led her to the act of killing her own mother.
Alice Sebold has a way with difficult materials. She takes tragic and painful stories and somehow infuses them with great depth and feeling. This is well worth reading....more
This was a truly wonderful read. I didn't give it 5 stars because I don't hand out a ton of those and the book did fizzle somewhat at the end.
"SearchiThis was a truly wonderful read. I didn't give it 5 stars because I don't hand out a ton of those and the book did fizzle somewhat at the end.
"Searching for Schindler" is the story of how Thomas Keneally discovered the story of Oskar Schindler, the research for the book "Schindler's List" and how the movie came to be.
It is also, in some respects, a tribute to Poldek Pfefferberg the Schindler Jew whose persistence got Keneally's book written and Spielberg's film made. Schlinder's List was a story that needed to be told and Poldek Pfefferberg had an amazing sense of persistence and determination to offer the story up to anyone who might have the ability to tell it. Reading of Keneally's detailed research and interviews with the Schlinderjuden was as fascinating as it was moving.
Anyone interested in holocaust history should read this book....more
I really enjoyed parts of this book, but as a whole it was somewhat lacking. This was the interesting unrequited love triangle between the narrator, aI really enjoyed parts of this book, but as a whole it was somewhat lacking. This was the interesting unrequited love triangle between the narrator, a young school teacher, Sumire and Miu. Three characters who are trying in individual ways to connect with someone yet failing in the process....more
This book was amazing and horrifying at the same time. I thought that the story was going to be about Amy Latus who was murdered by her boyfriend. ButThis book was amazing and horrifying at the same time. I thought that the story was going to be about Amy Latus who was murdered by her boyfriend. But truly, this book is about the circle of abuse that many women face and more specifically, the abuse that Janine Latus lived through. Her sister Amy's story is also obviously interwoven since she is trying to explain how such mental and physical violence could happen to two sisters.
This was one of our book club books that we picked in an effort to get away from the "personal journey" books we've been reading. It was a huge departure but it is also a book that forces you to think about the decisions that we make for ourselves and those that are to a certain degree made for us. There is a cycle of violence in women, in children, in families that is such a struggle to get out of. Janine Latus's story is painful but has the hope of redemption, if not her sisters, at least her own....more