I’m not going to mark this review as having spoilers. If you read the blurb about the book and you read enough books and watch enough movies, it’s pre...moreI’m not going to mark this review as having spoilers. If you read the blurb about the book and you read enough books and watch enough movies, it’s pretty obvious how this book will end. “The Geography of Love” is a voyage, not a destination. The outcome is not what is important here.
As a youth, I used to read tragic books about people dying too young from terrible diseases. There was “Sunshine” about a young wife and mother dying of cancer who made tape recordings for her baby daughter because she knew she wouldn’t be with her as she grew up. There was “Love Story” about a college girl dying of cancer that gave us the crap philosophy, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” There was “I Am Third,” the story of quarterback Brian Piccolo’s battle with cancer. That was turned into the movie, “Brian’s Song.” Movies tug the same heartstrings. “Beaches,” “Stepmom” and “Terms of Endearment” are three that immediately spring to mind. Looking back, these books and movies are incredibly sappy. Glenda Burgess transcends the sappiness of this type of book with “The Geography of Love.” Not that I didn’t cry reading it. I cried, but not with pity and not from manipulation. Somehow, this book touched the deepest part of my heart in a way few books have ever touched it.
This memoir is beautifully written. As I said before, it transcends sappiness. Instead, it’s poetic and dream-like. It is a memoir in the truest sense, a collection of memories and it has the feeling of dreamy memory rather than dry history. It sucked me in from the very first page and never let me down. The language is exquisite and it is as if the author’s memories became mine as I read this book.
One refreshing aspect of “The Geography of Love” is that it’s about a mature love. Ken and Glenda are not a couple of twenty-somethings when their romance commences. And, they are not newlyweds when tragedy strikes. Their love is one strengthened and mellowed by time, family responsibility and prolonged intimacy. They know each other as well as any two people can know each other because of the years they’ve shared. They can face whatever is to happen because of the strength they find in each other, not because of some romanticized ideal of love. It also deals very well with the author's relationship with her mother and how she grows to understand the things that always frustrated her about her mother.
To be honest, I probably would have passed by this book in the bookstore. I don’t usually read love stories. I outgrew the whole “love taken away by untimely death” thing in my twenties. I wouldn’t have thought it would be a book that I’d get anything out of. If you look at the books I’ve read this year and my reviews, you will see that I don’t usually read memoirs and romances. However, I’m very glad I got the advance copy through the Good Reads program. It was one of the best books I’ve ever read. I do plan to buy a couple of copies as gifts when it is officially released. I thought it was that good. (less)
I finished "Sarah's Key" this morning and I have so many thoughts going through my head about it. I loved the pacing of the story, how it switched bet...moreI finished "Sarah's Key" this morning and I have so many thoughts going through my head about it. I loved the pacing of the story, how it switched between Sarah's story and Julia's story up until the point where the two merged. I loved how the style of Sarah's story was completely different than the style of Julia's story. I loved how both stories made me cry, even though I knew what was coming. I loved how realistically the characters were portrayed. Nobody was all good or all bad, just human with human frailties. I loved the depictions of the small acts of conscience and kindness. I had no idea about the roundups of Jews in France. I did know that the Nazis tended to just send children who were too young to work straight to the gas chambers. I think the author did a good job of illustrating why the French people seemed to forget what had happened and how the Holocaust indirectly affected them. I hope writers continue writing stories like "Sarah's Key" that bring the atrocities of the Holocaust to light so we can learn and not repeat those mistakes.(less)
I have a lot of books to read. As a result, it is not unusual for me to have 2 or 3 books going at once. I’ll usually have one that I read at lunch, b...moreI have a lot of books to read. As a result, it is not unusual for me to have 2 or 3 books going at once. I’ll usually have one that I read at lunch, break and when I have to wait around for something. I’ll also have one on my nightstand to read before I go to sleep. “Web of Deceit” by Anthony Toro landed in my mailbox while I was in the middle of “Water for Elephants” and “A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier”. I actually finished “Water for Elephants” before starting “Web of Deceit”, but “A Long Way Gone” ended up languishing as I got caught up in the tale of a teenage girl who attracts the attention of an internet stalker.
“Web of Deceit” starts off with a bang. Annette, a fifteen year old whose family has just moved from San Diego to Tucson, is sitting at her computer when she gets a creepy instant message. It becomes clear from the message that she is being watched. She even hears typing from her parents’ computer in another room. Days later, after a couple of creepy incidents and some paranoiac false alarms, she is kidnapped at gunpoint by her stalker. He’s a bit delusional and thinks he can have a relationship with her. The scenes that take place while she is being held captive are gripping and convincing. However, the deus ex machina ending is a bit rushed and not very believable. That said, I think it is an ending that young adult readers would like and expect.
I believe that “Web of Deceit” is best suited to a teen audience. Unfortunately, I don’t think many boys will be interested in it because of the female protagonist and all the relationship stuff. I think it would be terrific for parents to read it along with their teens to use as a jumping off point for discussing internet safety. In fact, I think it would have been really good to include an appendix that discussed internet safety, how to protect privacy and what to do when you think you’re being stalked online and/or in real life. Resources would be a big plus.
I think there were a couple of things that could have made “Web of Deceit” stronger. First, I think the e-mails and chat would have been better if they had been written the way teens actually write them. There is a whole online language that young people use and it doesn’t involve proper spelling and good grammar. Also, the teenage characters talked the way I talked as a teenager. I used “neat” and “cool” a lot as a teenager, and I still do. I’m middle-aged. Using just a little twenty-first century slang would have made the dialogue a bit more realistic. Other than that, I think “Web of Deceit” is a terrific first novel and I look forward to seeing what Anthony Toro does next.
I'm going to start with a disclaimer: I haven't really finished this book.
I think it's a real shame that "A Rose by Any Name" isn't being released unt...moreI'm going to start with a disclaimer: I haven't really finished this book.
I think it's a real shame that "A Rose by Any Name" isn't being released until February. It would make a beautiful gift book for any rose lover. It's chock-full of rose trivia and little true stories about the origins of various rose names. I'm sure it's going to be an absolutely gorgeous feast for the eyes with all the illustrations.
That said, I was disappointed in the ARC of this book. "A Rose By Any Name" isn't the kind of book you really read. It's a book you look at and maybe read a snippet here or there. As a reader, I didn't find it to be organized very well. The chapters are the names different roses, such as Helen Keller and Barbara Streisand. Each chapter starts out with a story about how that rose got its name then it devolves into a litany of similarly named roses and anything of interest kind of gets lost in the naming of the roses. The writing just didn't seem very focused and the alphabetical chapters didn't work well at all. As a reader, I would have preferred a different format. Perhaps a chronological history of the rose would have worked.
While this book didn't work for me as a reader, it would absolutely work for me as a rose lover in the final version. I've always liked Workman Publishing for the quality of their illustrations and if "A Rose By Any Name" is up to their usual printing standards, it will not disappoint. It will look lovely on the coffee table and will be a delight to pick up and sample through. And, I did learn a few new things about roses in the chapters that I did read. I learned that Helen Keller loved roses because of their fragrance and their feel. I learned that Barbara Streisand insisted on testing the four finalists for the rose that was to bear her name in her enormous rose garden for two years before deciding which one it would be. She wanted to make sure it would work well in real gardens.
"A Rose By Any Name" will be coming out too late to give to your favorite rose lover for this Christmas. However, keep it in mind for Mothers Day and for next Christmas. Your favorite rose lover will love you for giving it to them.(less)
I started Genghis Birth of an Empire with a bit of trepidation. It starts out like a book for teenage boys. Indeed, it is a book that should have a gr...moreI started Genghis Birth of an Empire with a bit of trepidation. It starts out like a book for teenage boys. Indeed, it is a book that should have a great deal of appeal to teenage boys. Shortly after I did my eyeroll over brotherly rivalry and impending manhood, I really got sucked into the story. In many ways, this book reminded me more of epic fantasy than historical fiction. A young prince finds himself in the lowest of situations, facing death. He finds a way to survive and rises to his intended greatness. The Mongolian setting is not unlike a setting in a fantasy novel. I usually think of historical fiction as being more romantic and less epic.
I knew very little about Genghis Khan when I started this novel. For one, I had no idea that his life and conquests were so heavily documented. In his afterward, Iggulden says that he relies heavily on primary sources for the history in this novel. He manages to take that documentation and create characters that truly come alive. His portrayal of Temujin's mother was excellent. A very minor gripe for me was that Iggulden never tells us when the story is taking place. Looking online, I found that Ghengis Khan lived from 1162 to 1227 A.D. I had no idea that his reign was so recent and I wish Iggulden had included that information in his otherwise excellent afterword.
Now, I'm not going to pretend that this is great literature or even a good history. It's neither. However, Genghis Birth of an Empire is a wonderfully entertaining read that also managed to teach me about a piece of history I knew nothing about.(less)
Do publisher promote books for the Pulitzer Prize? When I received the advance review copy, that's the first thought I had. It didn't have the final c...moreDo publisher promote books for the Pulitzer Prize? When I received the advance review copy, that's the first thought I had. It didn't have the final cover art on it, just a plain cover with a bunch of glowing, hyperbolic review excerpts. It's obviously being promoted as a masterpiece. I generally avoid books that receive a lot of hyperbole. Usually, it's just BS. However, "Let the Great World Spin" truly deserves the accolades and I really believe it deserves the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2010.
It's kind of difficult to describe this book. According to the blurb, it's about the guy who walked between the Twin Towers on a high wire back in the Seventies and how that walk connected people from different walks of life. It's not about that. Yes, the man on the wire is part of the story, but his walk isn't really a catalyst for anything. Instead, this book is about people and how they come together across lines that otherwise divide them. It's a microcosm of New York City in the Seventies. It's a series of short stories told from different viewpoints that are all interconnected the way people are interconnected.
Probably the most amazing thing about "Let the Great World Spin" is how real the characters are. In each section, a different character tells his or her story and each one sounds completely unique and authentic. Whether whether the narrator is an Irish immigrant, a coked-up artist, or an aging whore, you truly believe each one is real.
This is an incredibly fascinating book and one that any literature fan should read.(less)
I don't usually like books that I'd rate NC-17 if they were movies, but this one was an exception. I thought it was wonderful. I haven't read anything...moreI don't usually like books that I'd rate NC-17 if they were movies, but this one was an exception. I thought it was wonderful. I haven't read anything by Jacqueline Carey before, and I may never read anything by her again. GoodReads shows this as being #7 of the Kushiel's Legacy series, but there is nothing on the book itself that indicates that. I honestly think it's the beginning of a new series that takes place on the same world as Kushiel's Legacy several generations later. While the story line in Naamah's Kiss is completed in this volume, it does set up the next volume quite well. That's why I think it's a new series.
What I learned from this book: Sex keeps you from doing the important things that forward a plot.
Seriously, our protagonist, Moirin, starts having sex on page fifty and has sex with men and women for the first 500 or so pages. It isn't until she stops having sex that the actual story really gets going. Of course, the book is saved from being simple porn by Carey's excellent narrative style and a lead character who is very likable. In general, I don't like graphic sex in books, but Carey is very comfortable writing about it and it seems natural, not awkward.
While The Rapture isn't one of the greatest books I've ever read, it was an excellent read that gave me characters to care about and ideas to think ab...moreWhile The Rapture isn't one of the greatest books I've ever read, it was an excellent read that gave me characters to care about and ideas to think about. While the story wraps up in a shocking manner, the story itself contains enough ambiguity to leave some things up to the reader's experience and interpretation. Because I prefer ambiguity to certitude in literature, this aspect appealed to me very much. I loved how the relationship between Gabrielle, an emotionally and physically paralyzed therapist, and Bethany, her criminally insane patient, develops.
It was interesting that I got this book as I was reading Dying Inside. In my review of that book, I questioned whether it was science fiction because the author never explores the hows and whys of David Selig's telepathic ability. In contrast, Jensen does explore the hows and whys of Bethany Krall's precognition. For a mainstream book, it contains a lot of science. It explores psychology, geology, ecology and physics. It is definitely science fiction. In comparison, Dying Inside is not science fiction at all.
You may consider the following to be spoilers, so be warned: The Rapture
I have read a lot of post-apocalyptic literature, along with time travel, it's one of my favorite sub-genres of science fiction. This book kind of fits into the genre, but it's pre-apocalyptic instead of post-apocalyptic. Jensen doesn't pull any punches. Once the events that lead to the end are set in motion, there is no miracle salvation. The ending of this story is one of the gutsiest I've seen and it left me gasping. About halfway through the book, I found I had to force myself put it down to get things done. I had to know what was coming next and how it was going to happen. There are so many questions left unanswered because they cannot be answered. (less)
I just hate the term "a real page-turner". However, that's what Sworn to Silence was. I kept sneaking reading time to find out what would happen next....moreI just hate the term "a real page-turner". However, that's what Sworn to Silence was. I kept sneaking reading time to find out what would happen next. It really deserves 3 to 3.5 stars, but I gave it a boost for how involved I got in it. I do have to say that I really did roll my eyes around page 250 and rolled them even more at page 260. Let's just say that something is brought into the story that is totally unnecessary and detracts from the overall realism of this mystery thriller.
I was really surprised at who the murderer was in this book. It made total sense once it was revealed, but I was very surprise. The only thing I was certain of was that the murderer was not the person the police chief thought it was. I really liked Chief Katie Burkholder. She was an interesting, although somewhat cliched, protagonist. The ending was very dramatic and suspenseful, but pretty predictable.
In many ways, Sworn to Silence reminded me of In the Woods by Tana French. It was almost as good, but a bit more cliched and predictable. I can forgive the flaws though because I did get sucked in and that counts for something.
Now, I do feel compelled to offer a caveat here. Sworn to Silence is not for those with weak stomachs or who can't handle graphic descriptions of mutilated corpse and sexual assault. I was cringing at some of the descriptions of the murder victims in this book and the scenes that were from the killer's or victims' point of view were really hard to take. I suspect that Ms. Castillo did a lot of research because her descriptions struck me as horrifyingly realistic. I definitely would not be able to handle this if it were a movie, it would just be too hard to see. (less)
This book really got me thinking about slavery and its effects worldwide. It made me sad and angry and frustrated. Some of my thoughts:
1. We all know...moreThis book really got me thinking about slavery and its effects worldwide. It made me sad and angry and frustrated. Some of my thoughts:
1. We all know about slavery in the United States. We all know a bit about the slave trade and about how an uncountable number of Africans died on the way to America. We know that rum is involved somewhere in there. What we aren't told is the impact the slave trade had on Africa. DeWolf doesn't explicitly make the connection, but I did. I have often wondered why Africa is in the state it's in. Why are people fighting each other? Why are there so many famines and so much poverty? Why does Africa seem so broken? From the stats in this book, I conclude that the loss of millions of the youngest and strongest people from the continent over hundreds of years couldn't help but set back the region.
2. Human beings like cheap goods and services. Until the late 19th Century, slavery was the way labor was obtained cheaply. In some parts of the world, slavery is still a reality. We still demand cheap goods and services. Is importing these goods from sweatshops in Third World countries or using illegal immigrant laborers really that much better than slavery?
3. As a Christian, I am absolutely appalled that people who participated in the slave trade called themselves "Christians". Where's the Golden Rule? Where's loving your neighbor as yourself? Where's the compassion for the poor and downtrodden? How could Christians (or any human being) not see the Africans as human beings? In fact, how can any human deny the humanity of other humans, regardless of race, color or creed?
4. I'm not sure that we can ever cross the gulf that divides the races in this country. I was raised believing that all of us are the same under the skin. I was raised believing that God loves us all equally. As I grow older, I'm stunned and saddened that there are so many who still don't believe those things. I dream Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream that one day we will be judged by the content of our character, not the color of our skin.
I really hope I don't create a giant controversy with this review. I just couldn't write about this book without talking about the feelings and ideas it stirred up in me. It's hard talking about race in this country without it leading to hard feelings on both sides. It's hard to say the right things and often there is no right thing to say. I think that's the main point of DeWolf's book.
Recently, someone on one of the message boards I frequent posed the question, "Why is the Salvation Army looked upon more favorably than other religio...moreRecently, someone on one of the message boards I frequent posed the question, "Why is the Salvation Army looked upon more favorably than other religious charities?" The overwhelming consensus was that they have a mission to help people without judging them or preaching to them, and people felt that that was rare among Christian organizations these days.
There's More to Life than Making a Living Mastering Six Key Essentials on the Way to a Life of Significance is a charming little book that's has something to offer everyone looking for more in life than the 9 to 5 rut. Without a doubt, it is a Christian book, but only because the author is Christian. His advice is sound whether one is Christian or not. Jack C. McDowell worked with the Salvation Army for 40 years planning and executing fundraising campaigns. Often, he would help other organizations such as the YMCA, United Way, churches and at least one synagogue raise funds for their projects. He found that once a community saw the benefits of giving generously to outstanding causes, all organizations benefited.
My favorite segment of this book was his discussion of tolerance. McDowell eloquently emphasizes the necessity of what he calls "active tolerance" with personal experience. In his opinion, you should not only "live and let live" but you should actively seek out the opinions and advice of people you don't agree with, who you may not like, or may think are real losers. (No, he doesn't call anyone a loser.) Through active tolerance, you can gain a perspective that you may not have gained otherwise. To me, this is a true Christian attitude. How much more effective is it to engage people in ways that make them feel validated than to take a holier-than-thou attitude and let them know you think they're going to hell.
I strongly recommend this book for all Christians. Mr. McDowell personifies Christianity the way Jesus taught it. His life is about feeding the hungry, housing the homeless, and clothing the needy. His live is about loving your neighbor as yourself and remembering that everyone is your neighbor, not just the people who are like you.
Now, I am going to make a little plug. I have a sum of money set aside in my wallet for the next Salvation Army bell ringer I see. It's not loose change or whatever dollar bills I happen to have. This past week, the work the Salvation army does has really been brought to the forefront of my consciousness. I hope you'll take a look at what they do and drop something in the next kettle you see to.
I started the first chapter a couple of times. While this is about an important subject, it is also a textbook. I just don't have it in me to have my...moreI started the first chapter a couple of times. While this is about an important subject, it is also a textbook. I just don't have it in me to have my brain so inundated with statistics and stuff right now. I think it would be best read as part of a university course on racism in America where it could be discussed. I would probably even take that course if I was still a student. While short, this is not light reading. (less)
I won this book through the FirstReads program. I love short stories and had high hopes for this collection. However, Everything Ravaged, Everything B...moreI won this book through the FirstReads program. I love short stories and had high hopes for this collection. However, Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned: Stories turned out to be a collection of utterly depressing stories about self-indulgent losers. The characters are rich guys with lousy relationships, young teenage girls who want sex with middle-aged men, carnival workers and others living meaningless lives of their own creation. Even the damn Vikings are depressing losers. "I'm so sick of marauding. I don't want to go sacking and pillaging anymore." There's no manliness there. There isn't a single moment of optimism in any of these stories and there is really only one real tragedy. The rest is just whining.
I do give this collection an extra star for being extremely well-written. I disliked it for the same reason I dislike Hemingway, which puts Wells Tower in good company.(less)
This little volume came to me via the FirstReads program. It had me laughing out loud. It will probably take me quite a while to finish it. Both my so...moreThis little volume came to me via the FirstReads program. It had me laughing out loud. It will probably take me quite a while to finish it. Both my son and my husband think they are more worthy of it than I am and it has found it's way to the man-library, aka the bathroom.(less)
I won this book through GoodReads. (You're required to disclose if you got a book free in your online reviews now. It's some government regulation.)
Re...moreI won this book through GoodReads. (You're required to disclose if you got a book free in your online reviews now. It's some government regulation.)
Reckless by Andrew Gross starts off like one of those old episodes of Columbo where you see the crime and know whodunit but then get to watch Detective Columbo solve it. However, in this case, each piece of the puzzle reveals a much bigger picture and a much wider conspiracy than originally imagined. In any other mystery/thriller, the author's tendency to keep the reader one step ahead of the investigators would be really annoying. Here though, Gross is constantly mis-directing both the protagonists and us. The pacing of this novel is excellent and the short chapters worked well to keep me turning the pages. I'd recommend Reckless for any conspiracy theorists out there. You'll love the twist ending.(less)
5/15/10--It may sound stupid, but I'm glad I won this FirstReads book that is nowhere near new. I loved A Fire Upon The Deep. I think Tor put a lot of...more5/15/10--It may sound stupid, but I'm glad I won this FirstReads book that is nowhere near new. I loved A Fire Upon The Deep. I think Tor put a lot of their most popular books on FirstReads to celebrate their 30th anniversary this year.(less)
I won this through First Reads and thought that it would be really interesting. As far as I can tell it's a historical romance about a doctor who is t...moreI won this through First Reads and thought that it would be really interesting. As far as I can tell it's a historical romance about a doctor who is trying to find a way to mass-produce penicillin and an up-and-coming photographer who wants to tell the story. The divorced photographer lost her young daughter to blood-poisoning caused by a small scrape several years later. I learned that it was really easy to die from stupid stuff like skinned knees. I also learned that the military conscripted the disparate penicillin researchers to speed up the development of mass-production techniques so they would lose fewer soldiers and get them back to the front sooner. With so much going for it, why did I give up on this book after reading 211 of its 530 pages?
First, the author does the one think I really hate to see in historical fiction. She includes nearly every fact she found interesting even if its completely irrelevant to the story. For example, the researcher and his sister (also a researcher) lost their parents to the 1918 influenza epidemic. In one scene (fairly close to where I gave up), the sister is alone in her apartment and starts thinking about her parents' deaths and how people had to bring their dead down to the street to be picked up by death carts from the churches. The city ran out of coffins and people had to be buried in mass graves. This flashback takes up 5-6 pages and doesn't do anything to move the main story forward. Futhermore, the character thinking about the epidemic was four years old at the time her parents died and wouldn't have even remembered all that detail. I lasted through 211 pages of similarly irrelevant flashbacks that seemed to serve the sole purpose of showing how much the author had learned.
The second reason I gave up is that the characters are so impossibly perfect, I couldn't relate to them. They're all beautiful or handsome, successful, and smart. They are flat and their emotions seem unreal. The romance between the doctor and the photographer progresses way too quickly with no romantic tension.
The last reason I gave up is the lack of a clear point of view. If two characters are together, the author bounces from one character's innermost thoughts to another's with nary a paragraph change between. It's annoying and confusing.
I really, really wanted to like this book and I really, really want to know how the penicillin thing works out. I just really, really don't want to wade through another 319 pages to get there. I have two shelves of books to read and several more on my Nook. I just don't have the time to spend wading through all this to find the little bit of story that's interesting.(less)
I was getting my hair colored yesterday and the lady in the next chair at the salon saw that I was reading What the Night Knows and got really excited...moreI was getting my hair colored yesterday and the lady in the next chair at the salon saw that I was reading What the Night Knows and got really excited. Dean Koontz is her favorite writer of all time. I think it nearly broke her heart to learn that the book wasn't going to be released until December 28. I was fortunate enough to win this mesmerizing novel through FirstReads.
As a reader, I've recently started straying outside my usual favorite SF&F genre. I've explored some mystery/thrillers, and have more recently picked up some horror. I've read some Stephen King and the first three Odd Thomas novels by Dean Koontz. Frankly, I think Koontz is a far better writer than King. (Don't hurt me.) While reading What the Night Knows, I ran across paragraphs and sentences that blew me away with how well written they were. There's one paragraph that describes married lovemaking in a way that is so true and not at all dirty or voyeuristic. The way he captured the internal lives of the Calvino children was quite impressive.
I'm not going to go into any details about the plot, but I am going to tell you that this book kept me up past midnight because I couldn't put it down after I reached the halfway point. To me, that's a sign of a really good book. I will definitely be reading more Dean Koontz.(less)
I think I'm turning into a crotchety old lady. I was really looking forward to reading A Secret Kept. I had read a preview and really liked it. I love...moreI think I'm turning into a crotchety old lady. I was really looking forward to reading A Secret Kept. I had read a preview and really liked it. I loved Sarah's Key by the same author. I'm sad to say that I was disappointed.
I'll start with the positive. De Rosnay does a fabulous job of setting the scene. I've never been to France, but I was able to imagine what it was like living in Paris and visiting a resort island with a road that gets submerged at high tide. De Rosnay also gets people right. Each of her characters, especially Tonio's insufferable children, seems quite real. It seems that French teenagers are very much like American teens.
So, that brings me to the reasons why I gave the book three stars instead of four. (I'm trying to give fewer books 5 stars these days, so 4 stars means it's really good.) First, Antonio was such a spineless girly-man. He just let stuff happen to him and rarely stood up for himself. He was the king of non-confrontation. I just wanted to smack him and say, "Man up, dude." Even in relationships, the women take the lead. And, surprise, he's unhappy.
The other thing that I didn't like was that the mystery part of the story wasn't very mysterious. We know pretty early on that the mother was having an affair before she suddenly died. The only mystery there was who her lover was. Well, that secret is revealed halfway through the book. Then, we think that there's another, bigger secret that's part of the secret that was just revealed. But, that second secret turns out to be a big nothing. (How's that for not spoiling the plot?)
Ultimately, I think the thing that disappointed me most was that I was expecting a mystery about a big, dark family secret, and I was expecting it to follow mystery conventions in a literary way. However, this is entirely a book about feelings and about the ways in which people don't communicate with those to whom they are closest. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for a feelings book.
I do need to thank Sarah at MacMillan for sending out a second copy of this book for me. I won it through FirstReads on Oct. 1 and realized in early January that it was way past due. Sarah was very helpful. (less)
This book is even fluffier than the first book in the series, Elvis and the Dearly Departed. Its silliness wore thin for me. I think I might have been...moreThis book is even fluffier than the first book in the series, Elvis and the Dearly Departed. Its silliness wore thin for me. I think I might have been okay if it had been a mass-market paperback, but it was a $22.00 hardback. Thank goodness I won it through FirstReads. I can't imagine why the publisher thought it was a good idea to release it in hardback. Even more shocking, the Nook version is $13.20. Why? It's okay, but even if I really loved the Southern chick-lit mystery genre, I'd be hard pressed to justify spending that kind of money for something so short and fluffy. The book wasn't bad, I probably would have given it 3 stars if I hadn't been so ticked about the format.
I just laughed when I got the e-mail saying I had won this through FirstReads. I read the first book in the series a few weeks ago because it was offered free for the Nook. My mom wanted to borrow it, but I didn't have a paper version to share. I told her that it was good for a free book, but I wouldn't spend money on it. So, I'm getting another installment that I don't need to spend money on. Mom will be happy.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand was a slow start for me. It took ages to get through the first couple of chapters. Major Pettigrew is an old-school Brit. He served in the army out of a sense of duty. He lives in a cottage that's been in his family for generations. He is a widower with a son whose values he just can't understand. One day, the local shopkeeper comes to his door to collect for the paperboy who is sick. She ends up fixing the Major a cup of tea and they spend a bit of time talking. Eventually, their acquaintance grows into friendship followed by love.
I ended up liking Major Pettigrew and the book much more than I thought at first. Despite the attitudes of his provincial town, Major Pettigrew is quite accepting of other people's cultures. While his neighbors see Mrs. Ali, an Oxford-born woman of Pakistani descent, as a foreigner and underclass, he sees her a a beautiful, intelligent woman. Both have lost their beloved spouses and really aren't interested in a romance; it just develops naturally.
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand really sucked me in with its little dramas. Will the Major be able to reunite his father's pair of Churchill rifles? Just how terrible will the dance turn out? Will his son Roger ever stop his success-seeking ways? Will the Major ever realize that he loves Mrs. Ali and tell her?
With considerable skill, Simonson reveals bits of her characters' personalities slowly until each one is completely fleshed out. If I belonged to a real-life book club, I'd definitely recommend this book because it deals with so many different ideas and topics that there would be plenty to talk about. (less)
I won Stay With Me through FirstReads. I'm really torn between giving it 3 stars and giving it 4. I'm going to go ahead and put 4 because it did keep...moreI won Stay With Me through FirstReads. I'm really torn between giving it 3 stars and giving it 4. I'm going to go ahead and put 4 because it did keep me turning pages and I really cared about the characters. The premise is really interesting. Five very young children are found alone on a luxury fishing boat in Puerto Rico after a hurricane. They are all too young to talk and can't tell their rescuers their names or what happened. Although they are adopted by families all over the U.S., they remain in touch and consider themselves to be siblings. When the oldest develops a rare, fatal brain tumor, he starts to access his earliest memories. That causes all kind of issues among the siblings. Like I said, it kept me turning pages because I just had to find out how they ended up on that boat.
The novel does have some flaws. It has a lot of improbable situations. Unfortunately, I can't get into them without spoiling the book. It was also a little too much like an Eighties movie where a group of people in their early thirties bound by family ties or friendship get together and spend more time dealing with issues than enjoying each other's company. Despite the flaws, I did enjoy Stay With Me quite a lot.(less)
I worry when a book gets a lot of pre-publication hype. Since I won A Discovery of Witches through FirstReads, I figured I wouldn't be out anything if...moreI worry when a book gets a lot of pre-publication hype. Since I won A Discovery of Witches through FirstReads, I figured I wouldn't be out anything if it was a piece of crap. Fortunately, it was a really good book that kept me up late at night...just one more chapter.
Now, I am going to be perfectly honest with you. This is a kissing book. I'm not usually a fan of kissing books, but this delivers so much more. The characters are smart, extremely smart. The main character is a witch named Diana who wants to be a historian instead of a witch. She's spending the year as a professor at Oxford so she can study their alchemical texts. When she finished the year, she'll go back to her professorship at Yale. Her love interest is a vampire named Matthew who is a microbiologist. He knew the alchemists she's studying. He also knew Charles Darwin. In their world, there are 4 species of people: humans, witches, vampires, and daemons. This novel strives to make each type of person very believable. The author works science and ethics into her story with grace. She does a fantastic job of making everything realistic and has clearly thought through the implications of everything.
My only complaint is that the book ended with an obvious setup for a sequel. I don't like it when that happens, especially with a new release by a new author. When am I going to get the sequel?(less)
When I won this book through FirstReads, I had no idea how it would be. From the blurb, it sounded kind of weird and depressing. Well, it is weird and...moreWhen I won this book through FirstReads, I had no idea how it would be. From the blurb, it sounded kind of weird and depressing. Well, it is weird and depressing. It's also very well-done.
Danny Shapiro's mom is sick. She has a heart problem that was aggravated by Danny's birth. His dad yells at him for not going to bed and forces him in to the bathroom to lance his zits on a semi-regular basis. Danny's only two friends have grown away from him. So, he keeps a journal of his life as a UFO investigator. His journal is the ultimate in escapism. The scary things he writes about parallel what is happening in his real life. As his mother grows more and more ill, the journal gets more intense.
I'm never really clear on whether Danny believes the story he's writing in his journal. I don't know if Julian and Rochelle are real people or if they just symbolize the two friends he no longer has. The author did a great job of blurring the line between reality and imagination. His use of symbolism is sometimes subtle and sometimes obvious. I liked the way he made Danny's fantasy seem like the reality and his reality seem like an intrusion.
I entered two giveaways for this book, one through FirstReads and one from the publisher's website. I won the FirstReads one and am hoping I don't end...moreI entered two giveaways for this book, one through FirstReads and one from the publisher's website. I won the FirstReads one and am hoping I don't end up with two. Isn't this title terrific?
After reading the 20 page introduction and the first 3 chapters, I decided that this just isn't my kind of book. I got suckered in by a terrific title and great cover. The blurb sounded pretty good too. However, I'm just not that into memoirs about middle-aged women (of which I am one) who feel a need to zip off to some Third World country in search of self-realization. When the 40-something woman sound like she's 18, I find it pretty annoying. I really didn't have the patience for the text messages with the handsome stranger or the exclamation points when she describes arriving in Bhutan. When she started talking about how she was burned out on media, even though she was in Bhutan to help with their new radio station, I just gave up. I have too many books to read to spend my time on something that just isn't my taste.(less)
Looks like I can take this off my Nook wish list since I just won it through FirstReads. I've been hearing about this on a few of the book podcasts I...moreLooks like I can take this off my Nook wish list since I just won it through FirstReads. I've been hearing about this on a few of the book podcasts I listen to and it's supposed to be excellent.(less)
Tor put up several of Stephen Hunt's novels on FirstReads. I signed up for all of them because they sounded so good. I won this one and I'll probably...moreTor put up several of Stephen Hunt's novels on FirstReads. I signed up for all of them because they sounded so good. I won this one and I'll probably end up buying the rest if I like it as much as I expect to.(less)
When I won this book through FirstReads, I thought it could be good or it could be cheesy. It's a bit of both. For a smart woman, Troy Chance makes so...moreWhen I won this book through FirstReads, I thought it could be good or it could be cheesy. It's a bit of both. For a smart woman, Troy Chance makes some really stupid choices. While it was really brave of her to jump off a ferry to save a child she sees fall into Lake Champlain from another ferry, it was really stupid of her to take the child home rather than calling 911. From there, the story gets more and more implausible. Yet...I couldn't put it down. I've been in kind of a reading slump lately, jumping from book to book and having a hard time finishing any. Learning to Swim only took a few days to read and gave me a respite I needed from the heavy science fiction and fantasy I've been reading lately.
I will give credit where credit is due. The story was quite suspenseful and had some twists that I never saw coming. I really appreciated that (view spoiler)[the author didn't take the easy route with the romantic aspect. Troy doesn't get a happily ever after ending with the boy's father. Rather, she learns something about herself and about what she really wants out of life. I would really like to see her end up with Detective Jameson instead of Phillipe, and that is an open possibility. (hide spoiler)] (Aren't these spoiler tags great?)
I recommend this for anyone looking for a quick, escapist read.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)