**spoiler alert** Thirteen year old Anna sues her family for the rights to make medical decisions about her own body. She was genetically "designed" t**spoiler alert** Thirteen year old Anna sues her family for the rights to make medical decisions about her own body. She was genetically "designed" to be an exact match for her older sister, Kate, who is suffering from a virulent and rare form of leukemia.
The story is told by Anna, her mother, father and brother. Also telling us their stories are Campbell Alexander, the lawyer Anna consults and Julia, the guardian ad litum assigned to her case. The events of law suit take place over about a week, although we hear about each of the characters' pasts. I did find the change of font for each character distracting. It seemed to take the place of each one having their own distinct voice.
As with "Harvesting The Heart" Picoult does a great job of pacing, building the tension and moving the story forward. I found myself thinking "just one more chapter" on several occasions. The characters are three-dimensional, even the girls' mother Sara, who could have been painted as Saint Sara, Mom With Sick Child. The subject matter was thought provoking with the author managing to seem neutral as to which side she thought the reader should be on.
The end, though. I struggled with whether to rate this a three or four because of the ending. It was a solid four stars right up until then. But I had to make a choice and decided to let the previous 400 pages weigh a bit more heavily than the last few.
I think it was supposed to be surprising and shocking and heart-rending. But it took away the very right Anna fought for. Was it ironic? No, it felt like a cheat. She didn't have to make the decision after all. And the fact that Kate lives nine years after a transplant surgery that should have killed her also felt like a cheat. Like the author's way to make up for what she did to Anna and to us.
Stories of life on (and sometimes off) the reservation near Spokane, Washington.
Alexie mixes hard cold fact with mysticism and magic seamlessly. HisStories of life on (and sometimes off) the reservation near Spokane, Washington.
Alexie mixes hard cold fact with mysticism and magic seamlessly. His characters are living, breathing people with talents, flaws, hopes and despair. Sometimes all at the same time. Alcoholism and domestic abuse are recurring themes. That's not to say that there aren't light, even hilarious moments. My favorite story is one that was added to the latest edition and is mainly dialogue.
My one big issue is Alexie's lack of description of setting. Most of the stories seem to take place on an empty stage. But in this case, it's a small criticism because the characters are so compelling....more
"A linguistics professor tries to teach his Rhodesian Ridgeback how to talk so the dog can tell him what really happened the day his wife fell from a"A linguistics professor tries to teach his Rhodesian Ridgeback how to talk so the dog can tell him what really happened the day his wife fell from a tree and died."
That "logline" was given by agent Kristin Nelson at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in April of 2006. From that one sentence, I decided I had to read the book.
I'm very glad I did. The author utilized the two timelines told alternately to tell the story. In writing these reviews, I've realized that I tend to like these stories when they are done well. And Parkhurst does it well.
The professor is still reeling from his wife's death and feels the need to find out exactly what happened. But their dog was the only witness to the events of her final morning. In his attempt to teach the dog to read, he is swept into an underground world of seemingly like-minded individuals. And eventually, finds the truth.
This is a moving, disturbing and exciting book. ...more
Three bored editors make up "The Plan," an explanation connecting all things occult and determining where the point of all power on Earth is located:Three bored editors make up "The Plan," an explanation connecting all things occult and determining where the point of all power on Earth is located: under the titular pendulum in Paris. The story covers how they developed The Plan and the unexpected events that follow its creation. Think "DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons" combined, well-written and with a bit of actual scholarship behind it.
Eco is a master of language, story and history and of weaving them all together into a ripping good yarn. The book definitely kept me turning pages (the relatively short chapters helped with that as well). But Eco also never met a list he didn't like. Lists that go on for paragraphs. Lists that the reader knows contain some tidbit she'll need later, but longs to skip. He also took one pivotal conversation between the three editors and broke it into six or seven chapters. While long chapters can be daunting to some, this just broke the narrative tension too much and made it easier instead of harder to put the book down.
I also think the length was unnecessary. Eco may have reached the rarified status of an author no editor wants to cut. An editor should have cut. The aforementioned lists could go. So could a secondary story set in South America. About 75 pages that gave us one somewhat key piece of that could be given in another place. There are long forays into Belbo's (one of the editors) past that really add nothing to main storyline. The focus should remain on Casaubon, the editor who starts as a student writing a thesis on the Knights Templar. He sets everything in motion.
Still, I felt it well worth powering through the 623 pages in order to get to the satisfying end. ...more
Twenty-four year old Jacob Jankowski expects to graduate from Cornell with a veterinary degree in a few weeks. Then his parents are killed in a car acTwenty-four year old Jacob Jankowski expects to graduate from Cornell with a veterinary degree in a few weeks. Then his parents are killed in a car accident, and he is left penniless. He walks out of his final exams and jumps the first train that comes along--one carrying a fourth-rate circus.
The story is told by Jacob--the twenty-four-year-old experiencing Depression-era circus life and ninety-something Jacob from his nursing home. It's a great compliment to Ms. Gruen that I didn't notice the book is written in present tense until about three chapters in. It works here. I felt all the grittiness, wonder, fear, anger and love right along with our hero.
This was one of those books that pulled me in so far, I had a difficult time adjusting to "real life" at the end. It deserves every bit of praise it has received....more
**spoiler alert** Truly Plaice's mother dies immediately after Truly is born, leaving the oversized Truly to navigate the small town of Aberdeen. Sere**spoiler alert** Truly Plaice's mother dies immediately after Truly is born, leaving the oversized Truly to navigate the small town of Aberdeen. Serena Jane, Truly's older sister, is the ideal of petite and pretty. So how do these opposites manage in the world?
Well, that's just it. Neither one does very much. Serena Jane does finally show a little backbone, but goes about it the very wrong way.
I wanted to love this book. Small town mores, the outsider who cannot physically hide from her differences, hard luck farmers, an undersized beau for the oversized girl, rumors of witches. All right up my alley. But it didn't quite gel for me.
Most of the problems for me were technical. Overuse of words like slurp and gob, where a little goes a long way. The narrator tells us about things she couldn't possibly know. Why not just use a third person omniscient? And we are told things before they happen, dampening the impact they could have had. Then the narrator explains motives and emotions after the fact that the writing already gave us. But the biggest issue is why anyone acted the way they did. There was no reason for SJ to leave her son behind. No reason for Amelia to keep the secret after she gets what she wants. No reason for Truly to stay with the doctor after Bobby leaves. And no real reason for Amelia to end her own life.
I kept turning pages, because I wanted to know if there was a twist that fastened the loose ends and made the reasoning clear. Instead, it just went to a far-fetched happily ever after place. The author has talent. I wish she had trusted it, and us, a bit more. ...more
This is a book I should have loved. A sort of Canterbury Tales meets tarot cards. There are two almost separate books in this one slim volume. In eachThis is a book I should have loved. A sort of Canterbury Tales meets tarot cards. There are two almost separate books in this one slim volume. In each, a group of travelers gather in a strange place. None of them knows how they arrived. Each is mute and their hair has gone white. The first group of stories takes place in a castle and the second in a tavern.
In order to explain who they are to each other, every guest uses a deck of tarot cards to explain their story. Lovely idea.
In theory. In practice, it fell short for me. Calvino keeps interrupting the tales with other people grabbing at the cards and new cards being turned which are then explained before continuing the story. Most of the stories felt too abbreviated.
The writing is beautiful. The idea is fantastic. The stories needed more continuity within and among themselves. ...more
The Spellmans are back in all their wacky glory. Izzy is prepping to take over the family's detective agency, still going to therapy and dating the huThe Spellmans are back in all their wacky glory. Izzy is prepping to take over the family's detective agency, still going to therapy and dating the hunky Irish owner of her favorite bar. Mom's none too happy and finds a way to bribe Izzy to date other men. David's still unemployed and dating Maggie, Henry's ex. Rae's acting weird.
All in all, life as usual for the family.
This fourth installment does not disappoint. All the family intrigue, actual cases, romance and laughter are here. Izzy may be evolving, slowly, but she's every bit as much fun as ever. ...more
This was one of those books that I'd heard and read so much about that I just didn't believe it could live up to the hype. Plus, I'd started to hear sThis was one of those books that I'd heard and read so much about that I just didn't believe it could live up to the hype. Plus, I'd started to hear some grumblings about how the series, which is supposed to expose rampant misogyny and sexual abuse of women in Sweden, is itself misogynistic.
Lisbeth Salandar is a study in contradictions. She is under protective guardianship, having been declared unable to take care of herself. The state has determined that she is violent and mentally "deficient." Yet she works as a freelance investigator for a security firm and is an expert computer hacker.
Mikael Blomqvist is a famous investigative journalist who is editor in chief of Millenium (the source of the trilogies name). At the beginning of the book he is found guilty of libel due to an expose he wrote about a CEO of a multi-national firm. He takes a leave from the magazine and goes to work for an eccentric former corporate leader.
I will admit to having some difficulty with some of the violence and abuse, especially with regard to Lisbeth. But it's hard to write a book about the mistreatment of women without showing some of that mistreatment.
Blomqvist appears to be a chick magnet, even having an ongoing affair with his married business partner. Her husband approves of the arrangement. His lovers all know of each other and don't mind. I've found that many thrillers cast the male lead in this light (Bond anyone?) so was more amused than annoyed.
The puzzle and the action pulled me in, switched off my writer brain and had me turning pages like a mad woman. I took the book on vacation, thinking I might finish it during the week. When I realized that I'd finish the book about ten minutes into my the second leg of my flight, I ran to the the airport gift shop for the second book in the trilogy--even though I had two other books with me. ...more
A secret government experiment goes awry and creates an apocalypse, complete with vampires. Could be the tag line for dozens of books/movies/tv shows.A secret government experiment goes awry and creates an apocalypse, complete with vampires. Could be the tag line for dozens of books/movies/tv shows. What really sets this one apart is the writing. Beautiful, evocative writing. And the vampires are really scary.
I thought the third and final book was published in October. Since it had been years since I read the first two, I decided to reread before picking up the third. About 3/4 of the way through this first one, I found out that number three isn't expected now until October, 2015. I finished, because it's so good I didn't want to stop. But I haven't decided if I'll read The Twelve soon, or wait until it's closer to publication for the final book.
Wouldn't be the worst thing to read it now, then reread both again after the last one comes out....more