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review 2017-05-24 01:23
I loved that grumpy ole bastard!
A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman 

 

I had heard from many book friends that I would enjoy this book.  And clearly they know me better than I know myself because I was reluctant to try this book.  But from the first scene in the Apple Store, I was hooked.  

 

Ove made me laugh, made me roll my eyes, made me angry, and in the end made me cry. This story was full of just so much, but I loved the man's journey to find his way after life had dealt him yet another blow.  One that he didn't think he would ever be able to get past.

 

My family more than once looked at me like I was crazy as I was laughing out loud at one outrageous scene after another.  I have no idea how this man got in the situations he did.  But, man did I love the guy by the end.

 

I had this on whispersync and I had started reading it, but once I heard the narrator reading this, I couldn't go back.  He did an excellent job, and being that he's a new narrator for me, I was very pleasantly surprised.

 

A MAN CALLED OVE is one of those books that I know is going to be sitting with me for a long time.  I loved every second of it and was so sad to see it end.

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review 2017-05-24 00:31
Such an amazing novel!
Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer - Laini Taylor 

 

Wow, this was so elaborate and so well-written.  It was amazing to watch even the most non-consequential thing have significance later on.  I loved the way everything was woven together to make this fantasy so amazing.

 

I felt horrible for Lazlo at so many different times in the book, but he was much stronger than I gave him credit for.  I really wasn't sure how things were going to come to a head, but I got a bit of shock when it came to him and Sarai and how things ended.

 

I have no idea how I'm going to be able to wait until the next book comes out.  I have to know what happens now!  LOL

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review 2017-05-23 20:51
Review: London by Edward Rutherfurd
London; the story of the greatest city on Earth. - Edward Rutherford

This was an intense look at the history of London from ancient druid period to the Blitz of the 1940s as seen through the eyes of a few families. I actually understand the Tudor period and the Restoration period much more now than when I took a class in college on the same topics.

 

The way the book is set up is each chapter being its own short story, making it easier to put down for the night and picking it up again in the morning. I am not used to reading long family sagas, so I had to refer to the family trees in the front of the book a lot; funny, I didn't need the maps of London in the different time periods at all - maybe because I have been to London many times that I knew where about the place was being described. My favorite chapter was The Whorehouse; why wasn't the political and social structure of the whorehouse in medieval times talked about in my college class? I feel a little cheated academically. If a character in the chapter I was currently reading was getting on my nerves, chances were high they weren't in the next chapter (rather it would be their descendants with different character arc). I also liked that I didn't have to read about endless battles; the book focused on political, social, and religious intrigue with splashes of family drama. There was also a healthy dose of Romance, and my favorite couple was Jane Fleming and John Dogget - they didn't get together until they were in their late 50s/early 60s. My least favorite chapter was the last one, titled The River - it was corny and an undisguised way of the author telling the reader how much research went into the book.

 

The men were described with one physical trait that belonged to the family (Duckets and Doggets had a white streak in their hair and webbing between their fingers; the Silversleeves had cartoon-ishly long noses; the Barnikels had vibrant red hair; the Bulls had the typical Anglo-Saxon fair hair and blue eyes). The women were physically described by their family traits and the size of the breasts, but were not objectified (well, maybe the whores) and were shown to be much more smarter and cunning than history often paints them. These were no wall flowers; these women were survivors.

 

I am really glad I took the chance and read this book; the size of the book intimidated me for only a couple of chapters, but I was soon reading 3 chapters a day and making decent progress without feeling like I was slogging through any part. I am going to read Rutherfurd's book New York late this year or next year.

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review 2017-05-23 18:56
Shakespeare Saved My Life / Laura Bates
Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard - Laura Bates

Just as Larry Newton, one of the most notorious inmates at Indiana Federal Prison, was trying to break out of jail, Dr. Laura Bates was trying to break in. She had created the world’s first Shakespeare class in supermax – the solitary confinement unit.

Many people told Laura that maximum-security prisoners are “beyond rehabilitation." But Laura wanted to find out for herself. She started with the prison's most notorious inmate: Larry Newton. When he was 17 years old, Larry was indicted for murder and sentenced to life with no possibility of parole. When he met Laura, he had been in isolation for 10 years.

Larry had never heard of Shakespeare. But in the characters he read, he recognized himself.

In this profound illustration of the enduring lessons of Shakespeare through the ten-year relationship of Bates and Newton, an amazing testament to the power of literature emerges. But it's not just the prisoners who are transformed. It is a starkly engaging tale, one that will be embraced by anyone who has ever been changed by a book.

 

My inspiration to read this book was Margaret Atwood’s fiction Hag-Seed (and secondarily The Heart Goes Last), as well as a memoir by former prisoner, Stephen Reid (A Crowbar in the Buddhist Garden). Additionally, I had just finished If We Were Villains, in which Shakespearean plays may have played a role in sending the main character to prison, the very opposite of this memoir.

Now, I am predisposed to enjoy a memoir of the redemptive value of literature, particularly Shakespeare, for whom I have an abiding love. Add to that the fact that I have considered doing literacy work with prisoners (although I have not yet taken the plunge) and I appreciated Laura Bates’ description of the perils and the pluses of doing such work.

This is real-life, not fiction, so I didn’t get exactly the story that I hoped for. There is no ending, really, because Larry Newton will never get out of prison. All projects must come to an end eventually, and the author is no longer teaching Shakespeare to prisoners. Still, it was very readable and inspirational. If nothing else, I am encouraged to study the works of the Bard more closely myself.

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review 2017-05-23 18:55
Shakespeare's Landlord / Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Landlord - Charlaine Harris
TO SEE OR NOT TO SEE — To Lily Bard, the sleepy town of Shakespeare, Arkansas, was the perfect place to hide from the violence that nearly destroyed her life years before. Today Lily is strong, confident in the martial arts she studies, her looks disguised by her closely cropped hair and baggy clothes. Working as a housecleaner, Lily comes and goes without anyone noticing -- until she witnesses a murder.

What Lily Bard saw on that dark night has stripped away her, anonymity and earned her the unwanted attention of a homicide detective and a suspicious community. And with her intense, married, karate instructor showing a passionate interest of his own, Lily's plan of a private, well-ordered life is coming unhinged. The killer of an unlamented landlord is lurking close by. And while Lily knows the dirt on her neighbors' dust, drawers, and private live , must admit to a secret of her own: that in the shadow of a brutal murder, she is coming alive again...
 
I really enjoyed this little mystery, set in Shakespeare, Arkansas. Lily Bard, the community cleaning lady, has chosen this small town on a whim because of her last name. It seems like the perfect sleepy little community in which to avoid her traumatic past and live a quiet life.

Harris excels at portraying small town life, using ordinary people as characters. Lily is not someone that most people pay a lot of attention to—as a cleaning lady, she tends to blend into the background. The only place where she stands out is in her karate dojo, where she excels. She reminded me of Harris’ other small town character, Sookie Stackhouse, who is often overlooked because she is “just” a bar maid, but has unknown talents (telepathy).

Lily has a skill that many women have—she pays attention to detail and she can analyze those details to come to accurate conclusions. Not the most exciting mystery that I have every read, but I am already invested in Lily’s life and hope to read the next book in the series very soon.
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