Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Stephanie Rowe has created a hilarious world peopled by dragons, dragon slayers, Satan, the Goblet of Eternal Youth, Guardians, and the occasional average human. Her treatment of Satan, sex, and relationships is light and humorous. There is something of a mystery to keep you reading and wondering exactly what is going on.
Must Love Dragons is the second in the Immortally Sexy series which currently has four titles. Without a doubt this is worthy of a beach read if you are looking for something silly, fantastical, vaguely sensual (after all, the characters are Satan, a dragon, and a slayer. You can't expect that their sexual appetites would be staid and boring) and yet remarkably... hmm, I'm stumped for a word. It is not sweet. It is not innocent. It is definitely not wholesome. But, it is romantic in a good old-fashioned boy meets girl kind of way.
Read. Enjoy. Don't think too hard.
Friday, November 30, 2007
The storyline in Curious Incident revolves around a boy, Christopher, finding a dog in his yard who has been killed. As a Sherlock Holmes fan he decides he is going to solve the mystery - hence the title of the book. However, that is the pretext for a much more engaging and fascinating story.
Mark Haddon has done an incredible job giving the average reader an insight into the mind of an autistic adolescent. The writing style, the descriptions, the sense of repetition, the graphics all work together to demonstrate how Christopher copes with the world. This is obviously an extremely smart young man; he is a virtual mathematical genius. But, he cannot separate out unnecessary "noise" in his life. When he is standing in a train station he doesn't just see the few necessary details he needs to get by, he describes every poster and every person because he does not have the ability to filter.
Throughout the story Christopher explains convincingly why he does not like the colors brown and yellow, why being at home is comfortable, and why he would like to be an astronaut.
Having finished this book, I cannot wait to discuss it with a few key individuals - namely a mom I know with autistic sons. I am curious how she views the book - is it true to her experiences? And, a friend who works with autistic children - again, does she find the story to be genuine?
Moreover, it has given me better insight into my own children. I am fortunate that neither of them suffer from spectrum disorders, but I do have a better understanding of some of their emotional outbursts. When a granola bar breaks in half and they are heartbroken and refuse to touch it I get impatient: who cares? But living in Christopher's head, I have a better understanding of how something so seemingly unimportant can take on such grandiose proportions. Maybe I can expand my own patience with my children.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has family members on the spectrum. To me this was much more engaging and much more approachable than a non-fiction description of autism disorders written by an un-empathetic doctor. I feel like I learned a lot more through the personal interaction than I could have at a distance. A quick read that is well worth the time.
Each of these books gets better and better. Jacqueline Winspear has an incredible grasp on 1920/30s Europe. The dialogue, the clothing fashions, the dilemmas that people are facing between the Wars all seem remarkably accurate. She has an ability to give the reader just enough flavor to really feel the era without overwhelming with unnecessary details just to prove that she knows the time and the place that she describes.
As with every Maisie Dobbs novel, this story revolves around solving a World War I mystery. The mysteries always cause Maisie to undergo intense self-reflection about her own involvement in and response to the War. In this story Maisie has begun to deal with the guilt of surviving when so many friends had been killed. Part of the theme also revolves around the attempt of the survivors to put to rest the questions they have about men who had been killed during the War.
This book seems particularly poignant today as we deal with soldiers returning from another war. These men are dealing with psychological and physical affects that civilians cannot hope to understand. Winspear does an excellent job of helping the reader to understand how difficult it is to return to "normal" life and pretend that nothing out of the ordinary happened.
Without a doubt Jacqueline Winspear is one of my favorite recent authors. I would recommend her books to most anyone. They are fascinating mysteries that make the reader want to keep going to solve the crime. They are great historical novels that really encapsulate post-War Europe. And, they are psychological stories about inner-personal turmoil and dealing with grief.
Monday, November 19, 2007
The story revolves around James, Raf, and Elli Norton, three Americans in Paris in 1899. Raf's fiancee is found dead and a murder investigation ensues. The story is detailed and covers every social realm of nineteenth-century Paris. The story itself is not the most original. The murderer is not a complete and total shock. But, the research, the accuracy, and the topic are fascinating.
Appignanesi has obviously done tremendous research about the time and place where her book takes place. The story would not make sense in any other setting because of the tensions that existed in Paris in 1899.
I can't review this book without making it personal. So much of what Appignanesi writes about is exactly what I studied as a graduate student. I would guess that we read some of the same books in doing our research. Her understanding of gender - relations, problems, -bending, norms - reflects all of the contemporary research done by historians and anthropologists studying France. She also has done extensive work on the Dreyfus affair and the newspaper response to it. She accurately depicts the tension between the military and the journalists - egged on by the writings of Zola.She has managed to convincingly connect the Dreyfus Affair to medical and political beliefs of the time. Her descriptions of the mental hospital and the medical fields treatment of mentally unstable individuals - usually seen as women or Jews - also very clearly dovetails with the historical and medical texts written about the era. Finally, her use of Americans as the main characters allows her to underscore the tensions that existed in 1899 towards foreigners.
That Appignanesi could blend all of these issues into one coherent and engaging story is, to me, the sign of a great novelist. If I could figure out a way to create characters who live at the intersection of so many varied historical topics and place them accurately on the map in Paris at the time, maybe I could become a bestselling author too.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
The story covers half a year in the life of two sisters, Isabel and Roxeanne. Roxeanne has married a Frenchman, moved to Paris, and is pregnant with her second child. Isabel has dropped out of film school and is moving to Paris to help her sister with her children. Arriving in Paris, Isabel discovers that Roxy's husband Charles-Henri has left her unexpectedly. The story covers the period of Roxy's pregnancy and dealing with the international laws regarding divorce in France. The main character and narrator is Isabel who has relationships of her own during her time in Paris.
The book is a great examination of French-American interpersonal relations. Johnson cuts to the chase in underlining minor but irritating differences between the two cultures that often lead to misunderstandings and problems. The expatriate American community in Paris is comic in its at once hatred of the French and yet continued desire to live in the French capital. In this, I enjoyed the book because I felt like Johnson hit on some key issues in the relations between peoples of these two nations who seem so alike but end up confounded by their differences. Using divorce as the crux of the problem opened up a number of legal and social differences between Americans and Frenchmen.
However, I had no sympathy for either of the characters. They were selfish and relatively shallow. There was nothing compelling in the plot to keep me turning the pages. I did not feel like Isabel grew through her experiences in Paris. Plus the book just seemed to end. There was a definite conclusion to the divorce problem. But there was no sense of the characters having grown or changed because of their experiences.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Anyway, that's a long introduction to Leon Uris's book. I picked it up off my shelf, having acquired it by way of my brother. I talked to my mother about the story and she read it sometime in 1963. I am very glad that I read Exodus, but I also have some cautionary fears about introducing a book written in 1958 to today's audience.
Exodus is the story of the creation of the state of Israel. Backtracking through the lives of multiple characters, Leon Uris explains how Jews ended up in the Middle East in the 1940s. His historical knowledge about the ghettos of Poland, the concentration camps of Germany, and the Pale of Settlement seems spot on. There is little that I could find to fault him for and I resoundingly recommended the book to a Jewish student who is curious to learn more about Israel. It is a fascinating read.
However, Uris's perceptions of the Arabs is significantly less historically accurate - to say the least. This is the point in which the book is dated. The Arabs are portrayed in the most stereotypically Orientalist terms possible. The Christian Arabs are sympathetic, but the rest smell bad, are traitorous, have absolutely no morals, and are all identical. The Jews are absolutely, no questions asked, correct in their takeover over the Holy Lands. The "Moslems" are completely wrong because, in Uris's descriptions, they have no love of the land and no ability to care for it. I believe there is some historical accuracy in what he has written, but I would like to think that were he to have written his book forty years later, he would have recognized his universalist dismissal of a people and given the Arabs more credit.
One of the best reasons to read this book is to get a better understanding of the role that the British played in further heightening the tension in the region. Uris shows how the political, religious, and moral dilemmas that the British faced created the conflicts that exist in the region down to today.
I would be very curious to know how, if at all, Uris's views of Israel changed in the 40 years between writing Exodus and his death in 2003. The Palestinian/Israeli region remained mired in conflict and obviously continues to be a major source of tension today. At the very least, reading this book has reaffirmed the need to teach people the history of the Holy Lands in order to allow people to take an educated stance on the continued crisis. But, I would hesitate to recommend Exodus to a dyed-in-the-wool pro-Israeli because Uris's stereotypes of the Arabs will only further confirm their belief that the Palestinians are "evil" and the Jews are not.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
I read every night before I go to bed. If I don't read I will spend hours tossing and turning, going over my day in my head again and again. Reading fiction allows me to divorce myself from the issues that surround me during the day.
I read during my commute to work. I love taking public transportation. Twice a week I get on a tram, sit down, and have 35 uninterrupted minutes - twice a day - to become absorbed in another world. Plus, I don't have to fight traffic, fuss when there's an accident, and search for a parking spot.
I read when I am sitting with my boys watching television. I limit their TV intake but there are times of the day when they need a chance to sit quietly - especially considering that at the ages of 2 and 4 they no longer nap. Some would argue that I should be paying close attention to the shows so I know what they are watching. However, the 25th time you put on The Wiggles Sail Around the World there is no need to pay attention. I have actually discovered that I can simultaneously sing the songs and read; the lyrics don't require that much focus.
Finally, when I'm really invested in a book, I will read in the evenings after the boys go to bed. My husband and I chose a few years ago to save money by getting read of cable television. We watch DVDs , but now TV is not something that we automatically turn on and stare at. Instead it has become one option.
Everyone has their different hobbies and different ways they spend their free time. For me, though, reading is not something that comes low on a list of possible ways to spend my free time. It is something I can't imagine not being an integral part of every day.
Friday, October 19, 2007
I like a good conspiracy theory as much as the next guy, but I am getting terribly tired of Marian apparitions, secret societies that control the Church or disagree with the Church, and a rewriting of history in which every event is interconnected in some unexpected way. The Third Secret is not that over the top, but I just had to get that off my chest first. After The DaVinci Code I felt like everyone was a copycat trying to build on Dan Brown’s popularity. I read this book because my husband asked me too. He said that he wanted to talk to me about the “different” final outlook. It solves a lot of the current issues that plague the Church.
There is definitely a sense of the Catholic Church conspiracy theory about this book, but it does have some unique characteristics that I liked. First, the characters are not secondary to the Church. They are in fact the Pope and his chief secretary. Second, Steve Berry has done an extensive amount of research on the papal selection process which is interesting to any Catholic who has thought about what really happens behind closed doors. Third, the answers that
This isn’t a book I would necessarily recommend, nor would I pan it. It is not terribly original, but it is engaging. It kept me reading, but I didn’t walk away feeling particularly enlightened or encouraged. It fulfills basic “beach reading” material.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Rita Mae Brown is a prolific author. This is the eighth book in the Sneaky Pie Mystery series. One thing that has always amazed me about Brown is her ability to write such a traditional cozy style mystery complete with cats. After all, her earlier works were anything but traditional and mainstream. That the same person could pen Venus Envy, Rubyfruit Jungle, and a mystery series set in rural
I read Brown’s stories because they are like coming home – you know what to expect, there is nothing too shocking, and they are easy. She’s a good writer and the stories while not overly obvious are also not trying to twist and turn just to keep the reader guessing. Also, by the eighth book I have a vested interest in the characters. The relationship between Harry and Miranda is quaint. The on again/off again feelings between Harry and Fair are realistic. I like the addition of
Reading Brown’s work I am often amused by her descriptions of
If you want something light, you enjoy animals and want an amusing take on what they are thinking and saying, and you like solving mysteries, pick up Brown’s Sneaky Pie Mystery series. They don’t disappoint.
Monday, October 8, 2007
A friend gave me this book. She had been intrigued by the topic. However, after reading part of the book she got bored and never finished it. Thinking I might be more interested, she passed it on to me. I understand why she quit. The plot should be fascinating, but the book is laborious to read.
The story takes place in 1946
The overarching theme of the book revolves around moral responsibility. By cooperating with the fascists did someone automatically become guilty? Or, was it justified to cooperate for self-preservation? And, were some people’s lives worth more than others based on their political background, religion, and own moral compass? All of these questions would logically suggest an engaging story.
But it was SLOW!! The story is very dialogue heavy. I have an ongoing debate with an acquaintance about the merits of dialogue versus description. He prefers dialogue; I apparently focus more on descriptive passages. I would guess he might like this book. Kanon has a good ability at writing English the way a foreign-language speaker would speak it. But, for the reader it becomes repetitive and dry. Long conversations that go in circles dominate the story as the characters repeatedly cover the same material over and over. By the end of the story you have a more complete picture of the role of the main actors during the war. But, the 400 pages of suspense are not worth it for the answer on the final pages.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
I am not a huge fan of short stories. I want the in-depth development of a good long novel. There is a reason that I read books that are part of a series – I like to see characters develop over time. However, Connie Willis is such a great author that I will read anything that she writes.
The first Connie Willis book that I read was To Say Nothing of the Dog. I saw it listed on a book list of great science fiction books. And it was great! Hysterically funny. Then I read Bellwether which is more of a fiction book that deals with science and scientists. That one was wonderful, in part because it happened to be about my hometown,
Some of the stories in Impossible Things didn’t interest me overmuch. But I will mention three that I really enjoyed.
“In the Late Cretaceous:” This is a story about academia at its “finest” – I say in my most sarcastic tone. The lack of understanding of good teaching and basic education is such a crucial point in today’s schools that her story transcends time and place. Plus, the humor that she injects about college campuses is right on.
“Jack:” Writing about
This is a book that I will hand to my husband and tell him to read select stories. As a die-hard science fiction fan, I know that he would not find every one engaging. But there are some that he will appreciate.
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I just finished reading My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I have a few observations to make:
Observation 1: Do not attempt to read this book when you have anything else going on in your life. Life will seem like an annoying distraction. I read all 400 pages in 24 hours. During those 24 hours I also taught three 1 ½ hour classes, made dinner, played with my children etc. To say that it is engaging is an understatement. You will be glued to the book from the first chapter.
Observation 2: I would have said that this book touches a parent differently than it does another reader. But, after finishing it, I’m not sure that that is true. There are universal dilemmas in the book that would engage any reader. And the various voices that Picoult uses to tell the story create an empathy for characters very different from oneself. Through their telling of events, the reader identifies with an angry teenage boy, a mother of a dying daughter, a high-powered lawyer, and a thirteen year old girl.
Observation 3: Be prepared to get angry. I wouldn’t have made that statement until the very end of the book. There were points throughout the story where I got angry at individuals characters and wanted to shake them and ask what they were thinking. To me, that’s a sign of a great writer, when characters become so real that you want to interact with them. But, for me, the end of the book made me very angry with the author.
That’s all I have to say.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
My son just turned four. I would guess that he will begin to read on his own during the next year. Don’t quote me on that, but his interest in words and letters gives me the sense that it is brewing in his brain. Yesterday he asked me to read him a birthday card and he wanted to follow along, finger under each word, as I read. Seeing his interest in reading, I want to introduce him to books that will really catch his interest and make him want to read. I find that the easiest way to verify a book’s quality is to have read it myself, usually as a kid.
I would never limit the books that my sons picks out at the library (well, there are titles that I convince him to pass over), but when I buy him books I find that I return again and again to the classics that I knew. Everyone knows these stories, but I’ll mention them anyway:
Clifford: nothing beats a good Clifford story. There are so many more than there were in the 1970s. Clifford talks now. And he has friends who talk. But, not to Emily Elizabeth, only to each other. The stories are timely – there is one for every traditional American holiday. They all have a good message – usually about the importance of friendship. Some even introduce topics that parents need to discuss with their children like fire safety. And they are easy to read in one sitting without losing a child’s attention.
Curious George: We got my son a gift pack of 12 Curious George stories for Christmas last year. Much to my dismay, none of these stories were written by H. A. Rey. They were written, so far as I can tell, by a computerized program where the key idea had to be that “George is a good little monkey, but always very curious.” Nonetheless, they appeal to my son immensely. Every little boy (and girl? I only have boys so I’m guessing here) gets in trouble for an innate curiosity. So they can relate to George. Often his antics seem innocent but the books do a good job of explaining why George’s choices were the wrong ones. And again, they are easy to get through in one sitting and he loves the pictures.
Berenstain Bears: We have just started reading these books. They are longer and have many more words than the other series. But, the messages in them are really good. Right now we’ve only read a book about “Best Friends” and another about “Trouble with Money.” The morals are obvious for an adult, but they are the kinds of issues that I know are on my son’s mind. Money is something he is just beginning to grapple with – a lot of questions about what it is, where we get it, why we go to the bank. And friends are also key for him. Who are his friends? When does he get to see his friends? How does he balance his wants and his friends’ needs? These don’t get read as often as they are longer. My four-year old likes them, but my younger son loses patience. But, I caught them looking at the covers on the back of the book and figuring out which ones they had already read and which ones they wanted to pick out next.
I finished this book early last week, but life has intervened. There has been so much going on at home and at work that this is my first quiet moment to write down my thoughts.
I am a historian. So for me this work is a classic. I don’t mean it is a classic in the sense that fifty years from now it will be placed on the shelf as a piece of great literature to be used in high school classrooms. Instead, it is a classic portrayal of academia through the eyes of a graduate student in history. Even there, Lauren Willig’s first book was a more prototypical caricature of grad student angst while searching for the perfect dissertation topic. What appealed to me about this story were the little unnoticeable tidbits. The almost inside jokes – and I don’t know the author, nor do I purport to know what it is like to be a history grad student at Harvard.
What I do understand though is the humor in the way the author describes early eighteenth-century
While sitting on the couch cackling at the humor my husband asked me what was so funny. I tried to read passages of the book to him, but he didn’t see the humor. Instead he decried, “This proves that all female graduate students are sexually repressed.” What can I say; we spend so much time staring at dusty archives and ridiculously dry monologues that we need some outlet. And farcical, historical romance takes us to a world that we recognize, but that is nonetheless completely removed from our dry, academic studies.
The story is cute. It follows two timelines – one contemporary as Eloise searches the archives to find the identity of the Black Tulip, a French spy in
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Mosaic is the story of an Arab-American family post 9/11. They experience obvious tensions because of their heritage and eventually the father decides to take his children back home to Jordan where they can be raised outside the influences of American culture. In so far as it goes, that is the story inside and the story on the back. But, that's where the similarities end.
Nowhere on the back cover does the book discuss Dina, the main character's, two best friends Sarah and Emmeline. Their stories are as much a part of the "Mosaic" that Khashoggi creates as the Jordanian/Lebanese/American family. There is even a line about how the three friends together create a mosaic.
Also, the picture on the cover is deceptive. To me, this is a very stereotypical political ploy by the editors - or whomever it is that decides on book art - to fit into the political time frame of post 9/11 United States. The cover suggests an American woman wearing some type of traditional Muslim headcovering. Nothing could be further from the truth. Subjugation of women is only a very minor plot point, veiling is never even mentioned. The story outside of the U.S. takes place in Jordan, one of the most forward-looking Middle Eastern nations. I have to wonder if someone felt that the book would sell better if it looked more "exotic" and derisive of Middle Eastern culture.
As far as the story itself goes, I liked it. Khashoggi obviously knows Middle Eastern culture and is aware of the diversity that exists both in the U.S. and in the Middle East. She creates characters who are affected by 9/11 in very real ways: they are American in form, but discover that unexpected prejudices exist.
My only problem with the plot is the end of the book. I feel like the climax and the denoument ended 30-40 pages before she stopped writing. The last few chapters were plodding and unnecessary in my view. I understand that she included some of the resolution to show a passage of time in order to make the final scene of the book believable, but I would have appreciated it much better if that information had all been left to the reader's imagination.
I love reading books about the Middle East. What better way to learn about a culture that can be so foreign to American culture than through the lens of fiction? This story increases my knowledge of what life is like for Arab-Americans who are attempting to bridge the gap between two very disparate societies. However, I wish the people who had created the book had allowed the reader's enough smarts and interest to enjoy the book on its own terms rather than through the lens of an orientalist perception of what the Middle East should look like.
Monday, September 10, 2007
A friend recommended Andrews’ first Turing mystery Click Here for Murder because it was so different and interesting. I met Donna Andrews at a book festival and after speaking with her for a few minutes I walked away with all four of the books in the Turing series. And it wasn’t just because she was a good salesman. What she told me caught my attention and I have to say I have really enjoyed the three books that I have read so far.
In the series Donna Andrews combines characters from three very different worlds of mystery writing. Turing is a sentient computer who solves mysteries. Like early crime fighter Sherlock Holmes, Turing is methodical and analytical – almost to a fault. To her, everything has a logical deductive answer. But, Andrews introduced two other characters in her first book who have become crucial sidekicks to Turing’s Holmes. Maude is the series Miss Marple. She is an older figure who resembles a librarian when the series starts. But, as the books progress she becomes the computer expert who works with Turing to solve the impossible crimes. The third character is Tim a pulp fiction film noir junkie who wants to be Sam Spade. Combining these three generations of mysteries, Andrews has succeeded in creating a mystery that would appeal to a huge range of readers.
As Andrews’ told me when I met her, there’s another whole side to her mysteries appeal. Andrews has made a concerted effort to create a realistic sentient computer – in the best guise of good science fiction. I think it is her crossover between science fiction and mystery that appeals to me the most. There is an interesting mystery to solve to keep the reader reading. But, there is also a lot of technical information that is very up to date and accurate. It is easy to believe in the sentience of Turing because Andrews’ places her in a realistic computer-aged world. The logical side of the character blends well with the push for independence. I loved her conversations about the garden in this book.
I love this series. But, I am the first to admit that not everyone is going to like it. My husband, a technophile, is somewhat dismissive. He liked it and thought she did a decent job with the computer, but he is so tech-y that he expects perfection. My mom found the first book “cute” and different, but it didn’t appeal to her love of historical mysteries. I would recommend this to someone who grew up with computers and is willing to create a suspension of disbelief in order to empathize with Turing as she fights against her online limitations.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
When I finished reading Simon Said my first thought was this is what an academic mystery should be. After ranting about how bad the Princeton Murder book was I feel compelled to explain what makes this one so much better.
Simon Shaw, the protagonist of Shaber’s stories, is a history professor at
Moreover, Shaber’s descriptions of
There are flaws; it isn’t perfect. Reading the book I knew that Shaber herself was not an academic. I don’t remember anything in particular that caught my attention, but little comments suggested a somewhat stereotypical perception of higher academics. I read one review that was disgusted by her disregard for tenure policies. Nonetheless, these discrepancies did not turn me off to the story.
Most importantly, I felt that Shaber created a realistic character whose actions largely reflected human nature. Shaw’s conversations were authentic. His actions, while not always logical, were more realistic because of that. The relationships that he develops with Gates and Julia through the book are engaging.
Obviously, I was not alone in my praise for this book. It received the Malice Domestic Award from
Saturday, September 1, 2007
My almost-four year old son recently decided that he wanted a pirate birthday party. This came completely out of the blue. I fully expected him to request a Cars theme, but while in the shopping cart at Target he informed me that he “loves” pirates. So, we have been on a quest for pirate material appropriate to an almost-four year old. I am not overly protective, but I don’t think that he needs to be reading hack-and-slash books just yet. He has plenty of time for that when he is older.
We started at the public library. I asked our librarian for pirate books appropriate for a preschooler. She gave me Disasters at Sea – a true life account of boating disasters throughout history including the sinking of the
On to round two: I spent an evening in front of the computer looking up pirate books. The Amazon feature, “Customers who bought this item also bought” is great! Picking and searching, I finally compiled a decent list of stories that are about pirates. But the focus is on buried treasure and parrots and pirate’s outfits. The mention of guns and swords is minimal.
Now each week at the library we look for two or three of the books on the list. We’ve made it through at least half and the interest in pirates has not declined.
Here is what we found:
Pirate Pete by Kim Kennedy
Pirate Pete’s Giant Adventure by Kim Kennedy
Backbeard and the Birthday Suit by Matthew McElligott
Do Pirates Take Baths? By Kathy Tucker
How I became a Pirate by Melinda Long
Shiver Me Letters by June Sobel
Night Pirates by Peter Harris and Deborah Alwright
Roger the Jolly Pirate by Brett Helquist
Pirate’s Parrot by Lyn Rossiter McFarland and Jim McFarland
On the Go with Pirate Pete by Ann Edwards Cannon and Elwood Smith
This is one of the worst books I have read in a while. Apparently I am alone in feeling this way though considering that the reviews on amazon.com for the book are overall quite good. But here’s my issue: The plot and the murder itself aren’t that bad it’s the rest of the book that stinks. The dialogue is completely unnatural. At least, I hope most people don’t talk like that. It just doesn’t flow in any way that sounds normal. And, the part that really got me was the recipes at the end. A dozen years ago or so Diane Mott Davidson – among others – popularized a whole new kind of mystery – include recipes or other useful tips at the end of your book to popularize it and to help the book appeal to a whole new audience. It works for Davidson, her books are about a caterer who cooks all the way through the book. But Waldron’s characters occasionally eat dinner together or cook for one another: thus a selection of recipes. Why? It seems like a total non sequitur.
Finally, the book purports to be about an academic at
I am a discerning reader, but rarely am I just out and out negative about a book. I would be willing to read Waldron’s other work, as she has published a number of books so there is an agent and editor out there somewhere who thinks she has talent. Personally I think there are many other authors and books that are worth picking up before Waldron's.
As a historian who happened to grow up in
Tallgrass is the story of Rennie, a 13-year old girl who lives on a beet farm in southeastern
My mom gave me this book, as she gives me much of what I read, and we talked about its use in a high school history class.
Part of what I like about Sandra Dallas is that her stories are innocent. If you’ve read this book, you might think that is an odd term to use considering what happens to the characters. But, by innocent I mean that the characters are normal every day people who have normal every day concerns. There is nothing fantastical that happens. There are very sad things that occur and there is a definite loss of innocence amongst her characters. But this are no blood and guts. This is the type of book you could give to a junior high student and not worry overly about the messages that she imparts.
All that having been said, I wouldn’t recommend this book to everyone. It is slow at times. And, if you don’t know
If you liked this book, I would also recommend The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas or anything by Maeve Binchy. Her books, while they take place in
Let me start with a little background. I am a reader. If I had to describe myself in one word, that is the word I would use. Almost everything that I do connects to reading in some way. In my professional life, I am a historian. I have read more history than I would care to remember sometimes. When I’m not working, I’m a mom. I read to my two sons all of the time. One of the most peaceful parts of our day is sitting on the couch, one boy on each side of me, while I read to them. Our weekly treks to the public library to search out new books is a moment of pure enjoyment for us. In my purely personal moments, I read. I read to escape life’s difficulties. I read to travel outside of the world I live in. I read to learn. I read to relax and enjoy.
I hope that you enjoy reading my rants, raves, and reviews. Maybe I will inspire you to pick up something new and different. Enjoy!