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review 2017-08-08 21:24
'The Hours' well spent
The Hours - Michael Cunningham

This short book was winner of the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1999 and takes as its start point the graphic suicide of Virginia Woolf. The tragic loss of one of the leading lights of the 'Bloomsbury Group' in 1941, finally succumbing to the fatal depths of recurrent depression at the age of just 59, conferred a profound loss on the cultural health of a nation, yet posterity has rightly lauded the author's legacy. In his homage to Woolf, Michael Cunningham interweaves the thoughts and experiences of three female characters: Mrs Woolf (Virginia), Mrs Brown (Laura) and Mrs Dalloway (Clarissa), Located in 1923 London, 1949 L.A. and 1990s New York , respectively. Virginia is mulling over ideas for the fictional character yet to inhabit her most famous novel, while Clarissa and Laura are spending a day in preparation for a celebration in their respective times and place. Successive chapters rotate between the discrete storylines  culminating in an unusual cross-over in the end, but the snapshots also draw on some common themes, which beset each of the protagonists, irrespective of the prevailing social norms in 'their' time.

 

What rescues the book from a sense of cerebral indulgence on the part of the writer though, is the moving beauty of the language and as the reader quaffs down the pages like a smooth, warming liqueur, it is good to savour the interplay of quite sumptuous tones. It also remains consistent with the 'stream of consciousness' storytelling deployed by Woolf in 'Mrs Dalloway' (published 1925), albeit this example is not entirely satisfying, given its fragmentary nature and slightly bitter aftertaste

 

Still, the takeaway theme for me from this book is the individual capacity, indeed responsibility, to create and shape one's life, within the context of the prevailing time and to weigh the personal sacrifices and gains that attend our choices. Some of the metaphors were also interesting, for example, some mistakes such as cake-making are retrievable, others require stoicism to deal with the consequences, but when it comes down to it, life and love is fundamentally fragile...and fickle.

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review 2017-08-04 00:22
The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman
The Velvet Hours - Alyson Richman

See review at Book Haunt

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review 2017-05-18 00:40
A Creepy Worthy Read!
172 Hours on the Moon - Tara F. Chace,Johan Harstad

I only grabbed this book because I thought cover looked interesting. I didn’t put two and two together until I finished the book. Creepy and at the same time a good horror sci fi in the YA section.

 

To be fair, the pace of the book starts off a little slow at first. Think of it as a very slow introduction to the characters and establishing the setting, and where they’re going to be headed to on their space journey.

 

Then hell breaks loose when they’re on the moon

 

And wow, the pace picks up considerably and it instantly becomes a page turner. Now I understand there needs to be a mystery aspect to the novel - whether that’s necessary to establish the plot or not, that I’m not too sure. I welcomed it regardless because everything starting coming together and you find yourself racing through the novel to find out what’s going to happen next.

 

Considering this is a YA sci fi novel, you’re not going to come across anything astronomically complicated when it comes to the science aspect of it all. No physics lessons or rocket science (literally.) It’s not meant to be a complex read so it’s ideal when one doesn’t want to bother with NASA lingo.

 

Be prepared for a twist at the end. I was completely floored and it made the read incredibly enjoyable.

 

Greatly recommended and well worth the read. We need more like this in the YA section! (and if you do find one, please let me know! I’m open to reading more of this!)

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review 2017-05-01 19:03
Outstanding, as always!
The Frozen Hours: A Novel of the Korean War - Jeff Shaara
Shaara has created another masterpiece. This time it's a stand-alone novel of the Korean War. Well written and superbly researched.
As in all of his novels, Shaara explores the conflict through the eyes of a variety of people. In this book, he shows the war through three main characters, an American General, a Chinese General, and an American PFC soldier. In the beginning, I was hoping for more main characters, perhaps a Chinese soldier or someone closer to MacArthur. But, as the novel progresses, I came to realize the reasoning. First, the "average" Chinese soldier was really a non-factor, as they, sadly, were thought of by their "superiors" as just a piece of meat to be thrown into the maelstrom. They did not last long enough to flesh out an individual character. And as far as MacArthur goes, Shaara shows that the sycophants surrounding him were basically as mindless as the Chinese soldiers, blindly throwing themselves into whatever the "superior" wanted, to curry favor for their own careers.
In this novel, there is none of the "glory" found in his earlier novels. No feelings of a job well done, or of giddy patriotism. Shaara expresses the drabness, the drudgery, the feeling of "why are we here" and "what is the endgame" of the Korean conflict. His descriptions of the weather, the cold, the misery, make you want to sit in front of a fire and warm up yourself. You're left with a bleak feeling of "why". Why were we there? What were we trying to achieve? Why was there no oversight over MacArthur?
And talk about timely! I couldn't help but wonder if history might be repeating itself. Today we again find ourselves with a crisis in Korea. We find ourselves again with a leader who seems to bend the facts to what he wants to see, all in the interest of satisfying his outlandish ego. My hope is that this time, someone steps in and prevents another disaster. That we don't back down to the ego, that we think things through. Because this time, if China intervenes again, the stakes are much much higher than they were in the last Korean War!
Bravo, Mr. Shaara!
 
 

 

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review 2017-02-21 02:55
Are You on the Fringe of Glory?
The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You - Jessica N. Turner

Hello, ladies and gentlemen! Tell me, honestly, how do you feel your days go? Because when I was little, I had the idea that being a grown woman would be like this:

Uhhh...how do I put this lightly? Being a grown woman is hard. Between two part-time jobs, part-time graduate studies, nurturing a long-distance relationship, trying (and failing) to help my mother around the house, attempting to spend time with four siblings, and telling myself that this week will be the week I start growing my spiritual life, being a grown woman looks more like this:

Yeah. Luckily for Anna, for me, and for all you other ladies who don't have Rapunzel's pep, there's a book. The Fringe Hours is all about making time for yourself...so that you can be more like Rapunzel and less like Anna.

 

Excuse me??! Did I not just tell you about the jobs and the relationships and the siblings and the faith and the--

 

Yes. I did.

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