I initially gave this book four stars for plot points, but after sitting on it most of the week, I just couldn't rate it that high in perpetuity. I doI initially gave this book four stars for plot points, but after sitting on it most of the week, I just couldn't rate it that high in perpetuity. I do not like dark stories, and this is very much a dark, twisted story with no true protagonists. It's very disturbing that the author can portray a first person narrative from the POV of a psychopath, which I found strangely intriguing at the same time. I would be okay with this if there was some message this book was trying to relay, but it wasn't. Darkness for the sake of darkness just doesn't do it for me.
I started to read this book several months ago for book club but couldn't finish it due to life issues. Now that the movie is out, book club wants to take a group trip to see it, so that was motivation enough to finally finish the book so I can say "the movie wasn't as good as the book," with credibility, even though the author wrote the screenplay. Ha! ...more
Witty, entertaining, reflective, heart-rending and bittersweet. Truly great read that was outright hilarious at times and wistful in others. This bookWitty, entertaining, reflective, heart-rending and bittersweet. Truly great read that was outright hilarious at times and wistful in others. This book reads like a screenplay and I can totally see Jason Bateman in the lead role of the movie. This is a quick read suitable for a vacation or for a break from heavier reads....more
Cute story. Although the plot is predictable, the rich characters and clever dialogue make up for it, along with the overall humorous approach to thisCute story. Although the plot is predictable, the rich characters and clever dialogue make up for it, along with the overall humorous approach to this story. This book strongly reminds me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, which is also told from the first person perspective of a person with Asperger Syndrome. If you're looking for a light entertaining read, this is a good candidate. I read it in one day....more
This is a fictionalized account of real historical figures, against the backdrop of Southern slavery in the early 19th century. I found myself wantingThis is a fictionalized account of real historical figures, against the backdrop of Southern slavery in the early 19th century. I found myself wanting this account to take place closer to the Civil War, but the story ends close to 30 years before even the John Brown raid at Harper's Ferry in 1859. I also found myself thinking the story ended too soon - it seemed an abrupt ending given all the other cultural struggles outlined in the book. I was angry at Saray the white protagonist for most of this book for not having more backbone, even though I know there were limited means for her to do so given society at the time and limited ways for women to have a secure life, which would be threatened by rocking the boat. That said, it was a compelling read and I'd recommend it....more
This was a fun Brit Chick Lit read. I read some of the other reviews which said it was not, and didn't like the personal history backstory revealed, bThis was a fun Brit Chick Lit read. I read some of the other reviews which said it was not, and didn't like the personal history backstory revealed, but honestly, that was such a worthwhile journey that enabled the protagonist, Phoebe and her older friend, Mrs. Bell, to establish self forgiveness and move on, which is a wonderful life lesson for all of us. Frankly, when you take into account Phoebe's mother's transformation through the book, you could say the whole book was themed about forgiveness, period. We all need to hear more about that.
Wrapped around Phoebe's and Mrs. Bell's personal backstories, the present day-to-day happenings were told entertainingly with well-developed characters and dialogue. This is a good weekend book for escapism and belief in redemption....more
Although I finally got into the characters in chapter six or so, I found this book tedious and pretentious. It really makes me think of the literary vAlthough I finally got into the characters in chapter six or so, I found this book tedious and pretentious. It really makes me think of the literary version of American Hustle: like David O. Russell, Meg Wolitizer forfeited a good story for the sake of trying to write something that she hoped would garner critics' glory, but I found the writing style off-putting. It should not take you three pages -- THREE PAGES -- to talk about the main character not liking self absorbed Christmas letters. Who does? Chapter four seemed interminiable. I also hated the way she went out of her way every few paragraphs by ending every detail about what would happen to that particular detail months or years later. Who cares? That said, I did notice that as the book went on, the tedious writing style diminshed, although I suppose some would say that that was because she was mirroring her writing style to arc with the characters' maturity and life story. I don't think this is the case. It seems as if the first few chapters were written like she was trying to write the Great American Novel and then realized that to get the story to progress, she needed to adopt a more expeditious writing style.
That said, I did finally get invested in the characters, the story and its twists and turns. If you can make it to chapter five or six, you will get drawn in and get into the story as well.
As far as the characters, Two of the them, including the main protagonist Jules, were extremely neurotic to the point of being annoying. I also detested the fact that until the end, Jules could not value herself outside of her vapid "best friend," who she put above her husband, battle with his clinical depression notwithstanding. And speaking of the husband, he was the only character who had a good handle on the real nature of all these "friends" who Jules could not value herself outside of. She didn't deserve him, but he clearly given his challenges, he was not someone who was going to leave her over it. She didn't deserve him. I also can't believe she gave up a good job that seemed to be a good fit, especially for her husband, just because she discovered she could not be in the same summer camp without doing so as the teenager she had once been and with all the same friends, who had forever changed and except for one glaring example, never returned. She was 51 (!) by the time she had this epiphany. There are other examples, including one horrible incident between two other characters, which Jules denied and defended her favored friends even in the face of evidence to the contrary, that really make her worship of these people really tiresome at best and astounding at worst.
I had wanted to read Jhumpa Lahiri for a long time. I have not read any of her other work; this was my first.
The characters in this book lead intermiI had wanted to read Jhumpa Lahiri for a long time. I have not read any of her other work; this was my first.
The characters in this book lead interminable lives. Even their bright spots seem dim and temporary. The only one for whom I had limited sympathy was Subhash, the rest I struggled to see their purpose. In the end, this is a character development story rather than one with a resolved plot. I also failed to see the point of the flashbacks toward the end of the novel. I really struggled to finish this book and left it for months on end while I read other things. Meh....more
This book reminded me of The DaVinci Code, only with nuns. Engaging story, but flow of plot was a bit wonky. The flashbacks weren't as the present dayThis book reminded me of The DaVinci Code, only with nuns. Engaging story, but flow of plot was a bit wonky. The flashbacks weren't as the present day main character was reading them in the Chronicle. Also, the present day plot line was meager in comparison to the flashback story and wrapped up loose ends quickly and in a very compact timeline. Menina falls in love in a week? Really? What happened to the people tracking her? That said, a compelling read....more
Until I read this book, I had never heard the term "historical cozy" or "cozy" as a book genre (or subgenre, I guess). I'd read a few before, but notUntil I read this book, I had never heard the term "historical cozy" or "cozy" as a book genre (or subgenre, I guess). I'd read a few before, but not extensively. This was a thoroughly enjoyable book and one I think exemplifies this category. I was drawn in by the fact it combines two my favorite historical periods, the Civil War and the Gilded Age/Victorian Era, and the story did not disappoint. The characters were well developed (especially Hattie the main character), the plot kept me moving from page one and it was well written. It was clear Loan-Wilsey did extensive research on the culture, class structure, customs and manners of the period which was described in the characters' interactions. I loved that the main character is a strong woman in a time when women still were dependent on the good graces of a man or an employer for their livelihood and to have a decent, safe lifestyle. She embodies poise, intuition, courage, wit and a strong sense of when to speak and when to keep her own counsel in light of whatever events are happening as the plot unfolds. This would be a great weekend or vacation read. I would recommend it to others that like cozies. This book is the second in the Hattie Davish series. I have not read the first, but now I think I will....more
This was a beautifully written novel that sucks you in with skillful character development, keen descriptions and a riveting plot. Having read the synThis was a beautifully written novel that sucks you in with skillful character development, keen descriptions and a riveting plot. Having read the synopsis of the story before reading the book, when it begins with the pivotal scene where the baby appears on shore and the fateful decision is made, I had a pre-formed opinion of the main characters. I'm very glad M.L. Stedman then goes back and tells us their story from the beginning in chapter one. Having a bigger picture of what these people were really like, what shaped them, what life trials they had over time completely changed this story for me and made it all the more compelling and complex. The book is divided into three parts; I found the first two riveting, but the last part seemed to drag a little until resolution was made. I also really liked how well she describes the effects war has on both soldiers and those they left behind, describing the how the small town underwent change with stating "Nineteen fourteen was just flags and new-smelling leather on uniforms," and later after the townsfolk endured their young men either never coming home or coming home permanently changed, "For a long time, people wore the bewildered expression of players in a game where the rules had suddenly changed." I read this book in about a day and a half; once I started it, it became very compelling. A very enjoyable story with a great lesson on forgiveness and redemption in the wake of grief, loss and betrayal....more
I agree with the other reviews that said this book was like The Devil Wears Prada, but on Wall Street. That said, if you are looking for a read that kI agree with the other reviews that said this book was like The Devil Wears Prada, but on Wall Street. That said, if you are looking for a read that keeps you occupied and entertained without having to think, this is it. Good "B movie" entertainment, and when I read it, it was 99¢ for both Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook....more
I loved this book. When looking at the premise, I can see where people might be put off that because it's a memoir of the author's mother's last stageI loved this book. When looking at the premise, I can see where people might be put off that because it's a memoir of the author's mother's last stage of life. It is so much more. The beauty of this story was 1) the author's and his mother's love of books and sentiments made throughout the book that fellow book lovers will immediately understand and 2) the powerful life observations and lessons learned through the book discussions between mother and son. Introspective and engaging observations made throughout the book against the back drop of a mother's journey through a terminal prognosis. I encourage you to buy a copy of this book rather than borrow it to 1) highlight passages about what books bring to life that resonate with you and 2) for the list of books in the back discussed or mentioned throughout the book. Thought provoking, heartfelt, introspective, touching. Well worth the read....more
What would you do if you suddenly lost your memory of the last 10 years of your life? Would you like the person you'd become? Would be able to acceptWhat would you do if you suddenly lost your memory of the last 10 years of your life? Would you like the person you'd become? Would be able to accept the changes to your family, your friends, society and technology? This book explores that situation through the eyes of a young Australian woman who passes out at the gym, hits her head and wakes up with no memory of the last 10 years, including the birth of her three children. It's an interesting character exploration as you learn, through other characters filling her in, writing letters or writing journal entries, "what Alice forgot." Viewed through the lens of her former self, Alice slowly reanalyzes many of her life situations and relationships through the lens of her former self and begins to take her life in a different direction while she uncovers her past.
While the beginning is a bit confusing - Moriarty takes us through the same confusion Alice experiences as she wakes up from her head injury - once the reader is oriented and the puzzle pieces are identified and begin to fall into place, this is an intriguing read. That said, it plays out much like a B grade rom-com/drama film or made-for-TV movie, which is to say, it's a good plot that invests your interest in the characters, is heart wrenching, funny and thought provoking at times, but wraps up very neatly at the end. This is a good uncomplicated weekend or vacation read....more