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review 2017-12-11 02:50
Bag of Bones Hardcover - September 22, 1998 - Stephen King

I cheated in my Stephen King chronological reread series. Desperation was up next, but... I really dislike that book, okay? I wanted to get to a King novel I love before the year’s end, so here we are.


This was my third reread of Bag of Bones; this time it hit me deeper than ever before. Now that I’m familiar with Kong’s entire oeuvre, connections big and small (Thad Beaumont gets a shoutout, there’s a scene with Ralph Roberts and Norris Ridgewick, names like Polly Chalmers and Bannerman are mentioned) stood out, deepening my enjoyment of this novel.


This is King’s grief story. Yeah, his early ‘80s works deal in grief, too, but this 1998 tome is steeped in the blues. Four years after his wife’s death, author Mike Noonan moves from Derry to their summer home in TR-90. Dealing with writer’s block and haunted by ghosts both physical and metaphorical, it is a period of intense mourning. This has been a year of mourning, for me, so this particular narrative really hit me hard.


A gorgeous, spacious look at romance and small town life and mourning loss, this is a King classic. If it isn’t in my top five, it’s certainly in my top ten. This is when, I think, King went to a whole ‘nother level in his writing. The move to Scribner did him a world of good. Equal parts moving and terrifying, I cannot recommend this one enough.

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text 2017-12-01 17:26
The Arm - 104/368 pg
The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports - Jeff Passan

And yet here we are, two decades after he read The Diamond Appraised, pitchers throwing less and blowing out more. The arm confounds even the smartest people and inspires radical ideas, such as the best pitching prospect in a generation sitting out the playoffs in 2012 because maybe it would keep the arm healthy.


As much as I'm enjoying this, I'm going to set it aside for now, because we're starting The Hogfather buddy read and the Flat Book Society's rogue read of The Science of Discworld. I'll pick it up again when I'm done with those two, because if I have too many books going at once, I just get confused and overwhelmed. 

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text 2017-11-30 14:41
The Arm - 62/368 pg
The Arm: Inside the Billion-Dollar Mystery of the Most Valuable Commodity in Sports - Jeff Passan

'While human's unique ability to power high-speed throws using elastic energy may have been critical in enabling early hunting, repeated overuse of this motion can result in serious injuries in modern throwers.'

Nearly one hundred years passed before anyone in baseball recognized that.


This book is really interesting so far, but the most fun has been with the author's ongoing skewering of the way baseball culture has embraced modern analytics for strategy but resisted science-based inquiry into better medical management and prevention.  


Evolution is a funny thing. The technology, the advancement, the progress - everything today reinforces the idea that we know more and are better positioned to understand the problem at hand. And maybe we are. Maybe we're closer to figuring out the arm. That doesn't take away the fact that most baseball men are still saying the exact same shit they did 75 years ago.

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review 2017-11-28 22:01
The Deal of a Lifetime: A Novella - Fredrik Backman

I don’t think Fredrik Backman and his translators can do wrong. I’ve read all but one of his published works and at least liked all of them . . . and most of them I loved. Published just in time for Christmas, The Deal of a Lifetime is a short story (though it is being marketed as a novella, with an $18 price tag to boot) about a successful father and his estranged son. The story is a letter written on Christmas Eve from the father to his son, in which he reveals all about himself: his triumphs and failures, both as a businessman and a parent.


Like most other Backman stories, this is a beautiful, heart-wrenching, and honest look at humanity and relationships. Written in sterling prose, this whole damn book is quotable. I found myself gasping in shock at least once a page at just how spot-on Backman’s writing is, and how real his characters feel. Though this story clocks in at a scant 66 pages, it has the depth and pay-off of a long novella, at least.


I am usually skeptical of purchasing such little books for hefty prices, but I feel I got my ten bucks’ worth and then some out of this. Backman never disappoints, and this has moved me to read Britt-Marie Was Here before the end of the year. A delightful and melancholy Christmas fairy tale, I suspect I will be reading The Deal of a Lifetime annually. My highest recommendation.

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review 2017-11-28 19:59
The Bonesetter’s Daughter ★★★★★
The Bonesetter's Daughter - Amy Tan

Wonderfully moving story of mothers and daughters and how the way we learn to relate with our mothers can impact every other relationship we form in life. The characters grow and learn and change over the course of the story in a most satisfying way, although the author does come perilously close to an unrealistically 

Happily Ever After ending.

(spoiler show)

Alright, maybe she did it, but I enjoyed the journey so much that I didn’t mind it. I zoomed through this book in less than two days because I stayed up waaaaaay too late last night to finish it.


Hardcover version, has been on my bookshelf for so long I don’t even remember when or where I got it. Really 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 because I don’t do half-stars.


I read this for The 16 Tasks of the Festive Season, for Square 11, December 21st-22nd: Book themes for Dōngzhì Festival: Read a book set in China or written by a Chinese author / an author of Chinese origin; or read a book that has a pink or white cover. This book is both set partly in China and the author is the daughter of Chinese immigrants to the US.

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