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review 2019-01-12 06:32
A story about nothing, or about everything, and nothing specific
Alternate Side: A Novel - Anna Quindlen


Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen is a story about New Yorkers, though not necessarily those native to the city, but those who have become successful and thrive on its energy and eccentricities.


Nora Nolan and her husband, Charlie, are two of those people as are their neighbours, a privileged few who live on a street that is unique in that it is short and a dead end, allowing limited access and maximum exclusivity.


What makes this book so entertaining is Quindlen’s excellent characterization and authentic dialogue. Indeed, this book has very little plot at all with the inciting incident not even arriving until nearly halfway through the book.


The event that starts this cliquish neighbourhood unravelling is when one of the neighbours brutally assaults Ricky, the handyman for the entire enclave, with a golf club because he blocked the entrance to the exclusive neighbourhood parking lot.


Though the reader might expect dramatic revelations there aren’t any, everything is resolved in a civilized manner, as befitting these very civilized people.


The worst that Quindlen can evoke is the falling out between some neighbours re-enforcing in this reader that you’re often better off not getting to know people too well.


The ending has some uninspired musing by the protagonist about the road untaken. I had the impression the author hoped an appropriate ending would present itself and it didn’t, or it did, and she didn’t have the courage to write it.


I'm not sure if Alternate Side was an entertaining story about nothing or a story about everything, but nothing specific.




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review 2019-01-11 20:00
A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1) - Anna Quindlen,Madeleine L'Engle

I decided to reread A Wrinkle in Time again because I am also going to reread the remainder of the Murry/O'Keefe series and I am one of those people who needs to begin at the beginning. I don't have anything to add to this review, except that I remain in awe of Madeleine L'Engle's extraordinary humanity. She was a remarkable woman, and I'm not sure that we deserved her.


Rereading the book inspired me to rewatch the movie, as well. Maybe this weekend!


Review from 3/24/18:


I decided to reread after seeing the new Ava DuVernay adaptation with my daughter. I read the book as a child of the 1970's - probably a bit more than decade or so after the initial 1963 publication, around 1977, when I was 11. I fell in love with the book then, seeing much of myself in Meg Murry, the ordinary, often grumpy, young woman. I revisited L'Engle in 2015, and found that, while some of her books had not held up with reread, many of them did. 


This book is part of my personal canon, one of the books that shaped my childhood and had a part in making me who I am today.

A Wrinkle in Time is a bit of a period piece, to be sure. Girls today are stronger, more self-aware, more cognizant of the pressures of an often sexist society, and more willing to buck convention in order to be authentic to themselves. Not all girls, of course, but some girls. Our culture, today, at least struggles to understand these pressures and to acknowledge that they exist, even if we often fail to genuinely confront them.

The DuVernay adaptation succeeds in a way that, after reading alot of L'Engle, and a fair amount about L'Engle, I believe that she would appreciate. Casting Meg Murry as a biracial young woman was an inspired decision, the relocation of the plot to a more diverse location in California, the addition of Charles Wallace as an adopted child, to me really work to illuminate some of the themes that L'Engle was writing about - alienation and dangers of extreme social conformity in particular. 

There are parts of the book that are quite different from the movie, of course. In the book, the Murry's have two additional children, a set of male twins who are effortlessly socially competent. They are capable of fulfilling society's expectations with little work. Meg, on the other hand, is prickly, defensive, occasionally angry, and fearsomely intelligent - all things which 1963 America couldn't really cope with in girls. Heck, we still struggle with girls who are prickly, defensive, occasionally angry and fearsomely intelligent. 

A Wrinkle in Time shines light into dark places. For that alone, it's worth reading.

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quote 2019-01-10 19:02
Ho paura. Paura di cadere e di non riuscire piĆ¹ a fermarmi. Paura di non poter mai fare l'amore con una ragazza. Paura di essere un vigliacco. Paura di essere in trappola. Paura che verremo tutti catturati. Paura che sia il mio stesso fantasma,quello che aspetta ai piedi delle scale. E paura che sia finita:che questo sia tutto quanto rimane della mia vita.
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review 2019-01-10 16:56
Thoughts: The Anatomist's Wife
The Anatomist's Wife - Anna Lee Huber

The Anatomist's Wife

by Anna Lee Huber
Book 1 of Lady Darby Mystery



Scotland, 1830. Following the death of her husband, Lady Darby has taken refuge at her sister’s estate, finding solace in her passion for painting. But when her hosts throw a house party for the cream of London society, Kiera is unable to hide from the ire of those who believe her to be as unnatural as her husband, an anatomist who used her artistic talents to suit his own macabre purposes.

Kiera wants to put her past aside, but when one of the house guests is murdered, her brother-in-law asks her to utilize her knowledge of human anatomy to aid the insufferable Sebastian Gage—a fellow guest with some experience as an inquiry agent. While Gage is clearly more competent than she first assumed, Kiera isn’t about to let her guard down as accusations and rumors swirl.

When Kiera and Gage’s search leads them to even more gruesome discoveries, a series of disturbing notes urges Lady Darby to give up the inquiry. But Kiera is determined to both protect her family and prove her innocence, even as she risks becoming the next victim…

It took a little while to get into the book, as the first couple chapters were sort of slow-paced, but once the story got going, I pretty much got sucked in.

The writing is absolutely wonderful, and the descriptions lend a beautiful atmospheric presence to both the castle and the highlands.

There were some points in the book where I might have rolled my eyes or gotten frustrated, but ultimately, those moments paled in comparison to everything else I liked about the book.  I liked how Lady Darby was quick, level-headed, and resourceful, even in spite of a few times she might have made a few poorly judged decisions about her own safety and her own investigations.  I liked how Sebastian Gage was not made out to be a completely, all-knowing, perfect, yet broody rake--though aside from that, he truly didn't really do much for me aside from be non-standard.

The mystery itself was quite twisty, though at some points pretty predictable, such as the obviousness of some of the red herrings thrown out there.

Meanwhile, if this book had also been intended as a romance, I'm not sure I quite felt the chemistry between Kiera and Gage.  I'm not even sure they partnered all that well investigating the murder together, either, and a lot of the "tells" that Kiera kept mentioning seeing from Gage had to be deliberately mentioned repeatedly, as if trying to convince herself more than anything how well she knew Gage after only a couple days of acquaintance.

Otherwise, this was an extremely intriguing and strong start to this series, and I look forward to the next book already.  I actually appreciate the slow burn approach that I'm sure the romance will take, and am glad that the "I love you" declarations are nowhere in sight for this first book.  Of course, it might also be because I couldn't quite feel the romance, though there is still room for development there.

I particularly like that Kiera isn't completely alone in the world, and that she is at least surrounded by some good people, especially her sister and brother-in-law.  I hope to see more of them as well.

I wish there were a few more positive friendships with Kiera, especially with the women in the book.  I understand the reason why Kiera is ostracized, even if I don't like it, but that was just how I suspect life was like for all women during that time period.  Gossip, scandals, and anything out of the norm can really do a number on your reputation, and Kiera, being a rather introverted person who doesn't seem to care to defend herself or speak up for herself is more likely to face more gossip and scandal.

Then again, speaking up for herself will probably get her trolled by the rest of the ton... so, it's a lose-lose situation, no matter what.  Sad.

Meanwhile, one particular character kind of stood out to me: Marsdale.  I'm not sure how to explain my completely ridiculous, yet intriguing interest in this particular scoundrel.  A jackass and rogue he may be, but somehow I found I appreciated how easily he saw through everyone's outward facades, and how he seems to call out, rather bluntly even if tactlessly, all the obvious truths and open secrets around.  I disliked him to the extreme at first, and I'm not quite sure I even like him much (nor if it will matter if he's just a supporting character in this first book, and we'll never see him again), but he stood out.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/01/thoughts-anatomists-wife.html
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text 2019-01-10 14:51
Adaption Review: A Morbid Taste For Bones


Title: A Morbid Taste For Bones
Show Details: Cadfael, Season 2 Episode 3
Starring: Derek Jacobi
Guest starring: Anna Friel
Year of Release: 1996
Length: 1h 15min


Favourite character: Cadfael
Crush: N/A
Least favourite character: Prior Robert


Mini-Review: I thought this was a good review, with some minor complaints that only a book lover would make such as the fact that changed Engelard’s name to Godwin and combined Sioned and Annest into two characters, took out my one of my favourite characters, Brother John, and made one of their allies in the book their enemy. But other than that it was good. It was very visually appealing, the costumes were good, although I’m not a historian so they could be completely wrong for the times. I enjoyed this, except for my minor complaints.

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