logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: backlist
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-04-21 18:31
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore - average
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore: A Novel - Matthew J. Sullivan

An intricate story of many people all connected through a bookstore and/or their pasts. Lydia has changed her last name and moved back to the city of her childhood, deciding to start over and having somewhat unrealistic ideas that nobody will uncover her secret (including the man she lives with.) That all starts to unravel when Joey, a patron of the Bright Ideas Bookstore, kills himself among the books. Lydia finds him and subsequently inherits all of his earthly possessions - most of which are books.

 

Through these books Joey enlists Lydia in unraveling the mysteries of his death and life. Meanwhile news from the suicide in the store pulls Lydia's past into her present. Through flashbacks and a lot of foreshadowing we learn along with Lydia about surprising and extremely coincidental connections among a cast of characters that previously seemed unconnected. Meanwhile there's this suicide and a baroque bunch of messages from beyond  the grave to unravel. While figuring out Joey's actions, Lydia is forced to face her own past whether she wants to or not. (She doesn't.)

 

There are some real coincidences in this book, but they didn't bother me enough to make me put it down. It becomes pretty clear early on who the villain is, even if his motives remain unclear. Lydia, the main character, can be quite frustrating but I accepted everyone on their own terms and read on. It's a quick read and the mystery changes through the book. Some of the characters are lovely, sadly these aren't the main characters. It is a decent read with a great title. However, I don't know who I might recommend this to, and in the final examination, I just didn't care enough about any of the characters or find their story very compelling.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2018-04-18 18:23
What Happened -- too many facts, not enough Hillary
What Happened - Hillary Rodham Clinton

I bought this a while ago. I was a Clinton supporter. (I have always loved Bernie Sanders and voted for him in the primary, but by the time it got to my state, it didn't matter, and I happily took time off to campaign for Hillary once that was settled.) I strongly believe she got short shrift in the election coverage, and I was too upset until recently to be able to read this. (I actually think my diving into fiction may be a direct result of the 2016 election. I find I am too angry to be functional if I read too much news or even too much political fiction/nonfiction.)

 

While I agree in large part with most of her points about "what happened," I didn't learn much new from this book. I was very touched by her clear adoration for her daughter and her grandchildren, and it is clear that the loss of her mother is still very painful. Some of those chapters are wonderful. I could have lived without an exact play-by-play explainer on every issue on the election. I lived through it and experienced it once. I wanted to know how she felt about these things. The cover promises she's going to tell us, but I didn't get any real insight to Hillary Clinton. Thought she didn't say it this way, I also enjoyed how clearly pissed off she is at Comey - still. Also that she was confused by his actions like the rest of us were. I would say 70% of the book is defensive crouch. I get it, but it may just have been too soon for me even now. I never will need to read an in depth explainer on the emails though -- I doubt anyone reading this book will. Those who read Hillary's book are likely to have understood the email situation LONG before the election and frankly, long before the NYTimes stopped harping about them. (Guess what - reading the apologies and "we'll do better" from the Times didn't make me feel better either - particularly since they've now done away with the Public Editor who was the one clear-headed person at the paper...)

 

I moved to this book because I found my blood boiling at Susan Bordo's feminist coverage in The Destruction of Hillary Clinton (though I will make myself read that because I really want to) and decided to put that one down in favor of reading the candidate's take. I've liked Clinton's earlier books, and like many women I've admired liked Hillary Clinton for years. I respect her, but this book was uneven. Clearly she was very hurt and angry, like the rest of us. When she's down, Hillary argues her case. It's just that I've heard that case before, and I hoped for a more personal look in this book, like promised. I wonder if anyone could write a clear-eyed book about this election, but Hillary and I can't.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2018-04-17 18:16
The Best We Could Do - an affecting graphic memoir
The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir - Thi Bui

Thanks to some challenges I found in recent years (and directions from the web on how to read them,) I've finally taken graphic novels/comics as something I could understand and perhaps even like. This graphic memoir is a nice example of why it's worthwhile to open my TBR list up to yet another genre. (I can be poorly read in many genres!)

 

Thi Bui is an American kid born in Viet Nam. When the memoir opens, she's having her first child. As many parents will tell you, this is a time that often brings our own childhoods into focus. Her story is different from the stereotypical strict immigration story, and through the memoir we see that the family history is indelibly marked by Viet Nam's history and her parents stories are marked by their parents' stories. It's easy to get tied in a knot when we find fault with our parents. It's clear from her pictures and words that there was some anger and confusion exorcised by writing this memoir. While she may have been able to lay blame at one time, her title states her final view. It's Thi Bui's unique story with lots of room for empathizing readers.

 

Her simple-yet-resonant art conveys the emotional impact of her words. The combination is effective and moving. I lingered over this book for weeks, searching the pictures and immersing myself in her story (until the library demanded I return their copy.) If you, like me, aren't comfortable with comics or graphic novels, this might be a place to start for those who like memoirs or history or both.

Like Reblog Comment
review 2018-04-16 18:12
Woman in Cabin 10 -- mildly entertaining and not offensively bad
The Woman in Cabin 10 - Helen Ruth Elizabeth Ware

TL/DR: It's Rear Window on a cruise ship with an able-bodied but addlebrained female protagonist.

 

Protip: If you're on a ship where people are getting murdered and the wifi doesn't work, use your mobile data plan!

 

We had a very long drive this weekend. As usual I lost the vote on what we listened to. I didn't mind this one really, silly as it was. I ruined it for everyone by guessing the villains and the red herrings aloud (to be fair, I had it slightly askew - I got the bad guy(s) but the incorrect victim.)

The hero of this (the second of three Ruth Ware novels I was gifted for Christmas...) is another hapless, whiny woman who drinks too much and is bad at her job. Worse - she gets sea sick and has claustrophobia, but takes a working cruise anyway. Is she a moron? Yes! Is she a lucky moron? Absolutely.

 

"Lo" our hero fails at the most basic of tasks but manages to swim through an icy ocean at night fully clothed, run across Norway and ask for help from every person she can find who will do her harm. It was fun watching Ms. Ware throw obstacles into her path like Wile E Coyote does the Road Runner.

 

Ruth Ware is once again preoccupied with hangovers and drinking. This time, thankfully, she did employ a plot, and even better - women were described by more than the glory of their hair. If you are stuck in a car, there are worse books to listen to. It was mildly entertaining and not offensively bad.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2018-04-06 04:14
Red Sparrow - Hopeful beginning to a trilogy
Red Sparrow - Jason Matthews

I'm not sure if it's because I've read so many bad espionage stories recently, but I am consciously aware that I liked this more than it deserved to be liked. I kept wishing there was a way the story could be written without a huge part of the plot (the ridiculous romance between two spies who really should know better than to fall in love instantly.) I get worried for national security every time I read one of these stories.

 

Beyond that huge plot hole, it is excellently-researched and intricate enough to make me feel more comfortable immersed in it than the paint-by-numbers espionage books I've read recently. Nonetheless, there is a huge tendency in this book to view Americans as overly wonderful and super "nice," while Russians are more complicated and far more evil. The lack of nuance is mitigated by the love affair, but love can't cover everything.

 

I shall be reading the next book, because this one left me with a hook dangling from my mouth, and I need to see how the details are going to work out (it feels pretty clear how it will go in the broad strokes.) I probably could have gotten just as much from the upcoming film(s?) (excepting the recipes, but I don't cook.) My hope is that he "sparrow" will stay well-placed and grow into the strong woman she already is, full of power and a great spy, and that her boy toy, who has the temperament of a small child at times, gets transferred or just grows up and becomes her handler only.

 

A minor quibble. I am a synesthete as well as a neuroscientist. The book didn't do a good job of making clear that the aura-ish things she sees have nothing to do with synesthesia. In fact, they made it seem like her synaesthesia was the reason she could read people this way. Synaesthesia can be a great help in many things, but those things don't include seeing purity bubbles around people's heads. It's a mild quibble. There is mass misunderstanding about synesthetes but not much in terms of persecution, so I can let that go, silly and incorrect as it is. I can let it go because there were more absurd things than thought bubbles around people's heads.

 

All of this leaves me yearning for Len Deighton and other cold war writers' supreme nuance and intricate weaving plots that had people leaving their national comfort zones because people are more complicated than country - and all of that nuance cannot be conveyed with a few sexy scenes and two youngsters in lust. 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?