Who would have thought that a book on the history of the pig could be so fascinating? Well, clearly Mark Essig did and thank goodness. I really lovedWho would have thought that a book on the history of the pig could be so fascinating? Well, clearly Mark Essig did and thank goodness. I really loved this book. More than just a history of the pig, it is also a history of civilization (and the pig's role in it), from ancient days to Colonial times to current slaughterhouse issues. I learned so much - about the pig's role in religion to its important role in farming. It also raised some real concerns (that I had naively been unaware of - I mean, I'd read things here and there, but this is a pretty frank depiction of the situation in the US) about current farming practices and spawned a discussion with my family about the type of meat we buy and support. I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in cultural history, not just pigs. :) Truly enjoyed. ...more
I avoided this book because I'm employing some similar tricks with time/storytelling in my current WIP, and I didn't want to be influenced by how MiraI avoided this book because I'm employing some similar tricks with time/storytelling in my current WIP, and I didn't want to be influenced by how Miranda shaped her own story. Then, when I realized what a beast it is - to tell a story backward - I thought I should read someone who has already figured out how to do it. I was so, so, so impressed with the craft of this book. Listen, it is not a book that you don't have to pay attention to: she drops details early on that you want to remember in the later chapters, and your brain has to work hard to keep up. But that's the beauty of some books - how they challenge the reader, make us a work a bit for the gratifying ending. And the ending was so, so gratifying. I loved how all the pieces came together, fitting perfectly like a puzzle. Also, though my admiration for this book is largely about craft (simply because that's what I read it for), Miranda is an excellent writer, and I loved her use of language. Very resonant and real. Highly recommend this one if you have a few days to linger on a read....more
Let me preface this review by saying The Kind Worth Killing was my favorite read of 2015. I am still raving about it and recommending. So I came intoLet me preface this review by saying The Kind Worth Killing was my favorite read of 2015. I am still raving about it and recommending. So I came into this book with VERY high expectations. A few thoughts: whatever is going on in Peter Swanson's brain, I don't wanna know. Dude's writing is CREEPY. And I say that as a huge compliment. This book is different than TKWK but it is so tense and taut from the first chapter that I had a hard time sleeping each night that I read - again, that's a compliment. One thing that Swanson is very good at is getting you to empathize with terrible people: he presents them (or at least one of them in this book) as...likeable, sympathetic almost, and that is a very difficult skill to pull off. As I veered toward the end, I had to skip a few pages because I just needed to be sure that it resolved how I wanted it to be resolved. Again, that's good storytelling. I feel like Swanson is emerging as one of the best thriller writers of our time, so I very much look forward to his next one....more
4.5 stars. I loved everything about this book - the writing, the character development, the woven plot - right up until the end. I hate, hate, hate it4.5 stars. I loved everything about this book - the writing, the character development, the woven plot - right up until the end. I hate, hate, hate it when readers complain about endings, so I'm not going to be one of those readers who cries: "wrap everything up for me!," because that wasn't my hiccup. I just...thought the ending would be a little more complicated. Given the themes of this book - life happening at random and all at once, I completely respect why Hawley chose the ending that he did, I just would have preferred something a little different, a little more complex. Still though, that's my own personal spin on things, and otherwise, it was excellent....more
I've been on an existential evolution/genetic philosophical kick lately, so when I heard Mukherjee on a podcast, I scrambled to get his book. It didn'I've been on an existential evolution/genetic philosophical kick lately, so when I heard Mukherjee on a podcast, I scrambled to get his book. It didn't disappoint. I admit that some of the scientific chapters in the middle were a bit above my intellect...I listened to the audio book and had to rewind a few times to grasp the science he was discussing, but that's totally ok. That's what you get when you're reading/listening to a book on the history of genetics. Mukherjee starts at the beginning and takes us through Darwin to 1930s Germany to Watson and Crick to disease and mutations to current gene technology (disease-curing and the like), offering a few opinions on the morality of it all but mostly just laying out how far we've come and how far we need to go. It was truly fascinating, all 15 hours of the audio, and I could have listened to hours more. Felt better educated and more knowledgeable just by reading. Highly recommend for anyone interested in this aspect of science and human nature/evolution/biology. ...more
4.5 stars. The writing was so good: just such a specific and indelible and humorous voice. Johnson brought so much to every page with her choice of wo4.5 stars. The writing was so good: just such a specific and indelible and humorous voice. Johnson brought so much to every page with her choice of words. Also: Frank! What an amazing, indelible character. Highly recommend for a completely delightful read. ...more
4.5 stars. This is a very inside-baseball peek into the current world of pop hit-making, which is exactly what I anticipated and was looking for. The4.5 stars. This is a very inside-baseball peek into the current world of pop hit-making, which is exactly what I anticipated and was looking for. The book came across my radar because of the Dr. Luke/Kesha scandal, and while it does chronicle Dr. Luke's rise, it also gets into the nitty-gritty of how someone like Dr. Luke becomes a superstar in the industry, tracing all the way back to Ace of Base/Swedish hit-makers to Lou Pearlman and the Backstreet Boys and continuing on through the American Idol years and to the rise of Spotify. Seabrook does his research well and writes in a compelling, conversational way that turns even some of the more seemingly mundane subjects into pretty interesting chapters. I definitely learned a lot, and as someone who occasionally wonders if she shouldn't have gone into the music business in a different life, the book made me feel relieved that I hadn't! The only reason this wasn't a full 5-star rating for me were the chapters on K-Pop, which I truly have no interest in (though Seabrook did make the chapter interesting) and the focus on Katy Perry, which again, no interest. I totally understand why he chose her as the example of the Hit Factory, but I'm just not a fan, so I found this a little less engaging than I may have otherwise. That said, this is a really excellent peek behind the curtain into the current state of pop music. I'd love it if Seabrook took a crack at more music industry books; I'd read them all....more
I think if I had read this book rather than listened to the audio, I perhaps would have enjoyed it more. As it stands, I still have an hour left, andI think if I had read this book rather than listened to the audio, I perhaps would have enjoyed it more. As it stands, I still have an hour left, and I'm probably going to let it dwindle. In terms of research, this book is five-stars. The writing was strong, if not a little dry for me, but ultimately, what I didn't enjoy was the audio. McCullough narrated it himself, and I think (for me), the book would have greatly benefitted from a professional reader/actor. I felt as if (and I really do NOT mean this disrespectfully) my grandfather were reading to me, which was soothing but not particularly engaging. And toward the end, I wanted him to breathe some energy/life into it. It never quite got there, even as the Wrights' own story took flight. So many stars for research and writing; fewer for the audio version. ...more
4.5 stars. Oof, this book. (That's a good oof.) Such a spot-on depiction of first love. The dialogue between Violet and Finch was so lovely and so on-4.5 stars. Oof, this book. (That's a good oof.) Such a spot-on depiction of first love. The dialogue between Violet and Finch was so lovely and so on-point that I was, at times, literally giddy. At the same time, I read this with a sense of dread because of what I anticipated was coming next. (No spoilers here.) So I wonder if that very slightly colored my enjoyment? Almost as if I was holding my breath, waiting for the shoe to drop, rather than breathing in and out of every last moment on the page. Regardless, it's a beautifully written, extremely moving depiction of the complications of the teenage years, as well as a realistic and haunting exploration of mental illness. I can't imagine forgetting these characters anytime soon, and I understand why and how they have resonated so widely. ...more
I'm not sure that the phrase "compulsively readable" has ever been more apt for a book. Oh, this book hooked me from the first page (truly - people saI'm not sure that the phrase "compulsively readable" has ever been more apt for a book. Oh, this book hooked me from the first page (truly - people say that but I mean it - on PAGE ONE, I was all in), and I found myself reading in 50-60 page increments, even when I didn't have the time to. I also had to stop myself from flipping ahead, just to spoil myself...my willpower was not strong enough at least once. :) Plot twists that I didn't anticipate (including one that literally made me gasp out loud), characters I couldn't decide if I loved or hated, and an ending that was cunning but brilliant (and made me want a sequel) all lead to a "compulsively readable" thriller that I enjoyed every second of. Highly recommended....more
Let my start by saying that I have so much admiration for this book and for what Winslow created. It is an epic, sweeping portrayal of the Mexican carLet my start by saying that I have so much admiration for this book and for what Winslow created. It is an epic, sweeping portrayal of the Mexican cartel, with dozens of characters, each with their own specific story, eventually all intertwining, and the grip with which he held these characters was masterful. I also really admired his poetic writing - I found myself taking note of his metaphors and phrasing because they were so sharp. I listened to the audio version of this book, and the narrator was excellent. It could not have been an easy feat keeping track of so many characters and their voices (and the different accents), and he was flawless.
What made it four-star, not five-star for me, was simply the length. The audio book was 23 hours (!!!!), and honestly, like a too-long great movie that becomes a little less great because of the final 30 minutes, I just found it...too long. I cringe to even say that because again, I thought Winslow's writing and story-telling were excellent. Truly. But at about hour 19, I was just ready to wrap it up, and found myself being a little too hard on some of the extraneous characters, wondering if they couldn't just be edited out to shave off a little time. Now, I can't speak to the hardcover, this is only for the audio. And again, there was absolutely zero wrong with this book! I just got a little weary after so many hours.
That said, if you're interested in the behind-the-scenes of the cartel, I really do recommend this book without hesitation. It was gruesome and shocking and completely compelling, and I felt like I gleaned insights into the drug war. A few hours shorter, and it would have been perfection....more
I just finished listening to the audio version of this book and am sitting here gutted by it. This is the third harrowing-childhood book I've listenedI just finished listening to the audio version of this book and am sitting here gutted by it. This is the third harrowing-childhood book I've listened to in a row, and what I thought might be the usual horrible-upbringing memoir quickly delved much further than that. (I'm not making light of these types of memoirs - I mention this only because I expected something dark but got something even more devastating.) In the Sound of Gravel, Ruth Wariner shares the story of her upbringing in a polygamist sect, and I listened to every word, rapt and disgusted at the failures of parenting, faith, intelligence, loyalty, logic and security. I was outraged for her and her siblings, and all of the other innocent children held essentially captive in their sect/colony, and as the book careened toward the final chapters, I honestly found myself holding my breath, worrying for their safety, wondering how on earth anyone emerges from this horrific state of affairs with his or her sanity intact. This book is a fearless, honest examination of her childhood, her former religion and all the people who failed her. Bravo to Wariner for finding peace after so much wreckage and chaos. ...more
Loooooved this book. From the get-go, the title alone plants seeds of doubt about how much you should believe as the Amazing Arden tells us (and OfficLoooooved this book. From the get-go, the title alone plants seeds of doubt about how much you should believe as the Amazing Arden tells us (and Officer Holt) her tale of innocence within the span of her life story. Macallister does a masterful job at building an incredibly real and vibrant fictional world, all while pushing the who-done-it plot forward. A really wonderful read that has gotten well-deserved acclaim....more