Title/Author: Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L Hopp and Camille Kingsolver Link: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Ani...etable+miracle Genre: Sociology/Health/Memoir Rating: (between 1-5 stars): 5 Recommend: yes Review: Part memoir, social experiment, and investigative look at the food industry. The author moves her family from Arizona to a rural farm in West Virgina where they vow to buy food raised in their own county, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. Food becomes a family affair--from growing their own fruits and vegetables, to raising chickens and turkeys, to making their own cheese. There are recipes throughout and endearing moments when the youngest daughter starts her own egg business. You will never look at food the same again. Favorite quote/passage: "The industrialization-and dehumanization-of American animal farming is a relatively new, evitable, and local phenomenon: no other country raises and slaughters its food animals quite as intensively or as brutally as we do."
Title/Author: The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris Link: http://www.amazon.com/Unnamed-Joshua-Ferris/dp/0316034002/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1290037565&sr=8-1 Genre: Fiction Rating: (between 1-5 stars): 1.5 Recommend: NO Review: Sorry to post a rare negative review but this book really made me want to throw it in the trash. It's the sort of book critics will gush over, but when asked what was so great about it, they wouldn't be able to give any concrete response. Anyway, the premise sounds very interesting: overworked lawyer develops an odd disease where he can't stop walking. The first half of the book describes how he is trying to hide the disease at work, and how it affects his wife and daughter. But the second half falls apart, with plot lines left hanging, characters left under-developed, and the protagonist descends into borderline madness/psuedo-religious fanatic.
The quiet despair of the daughter and the desperate pleas of the wife who just wants him to "walk home" are the saving grace of this otherwise incoherent book. Read if you dare but I think this book was such a letdown. Favorite quote/passage:"I love you more than anyone in the world, but I didn't give a damn if I saw you or not."
Title/Author: Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin Link:http://www.amazon.com/Official-Book-...0673913&sr=8-1 Genre: Memoir/comedy Rating: (between 1-5 stars): 4 Recommend: Yes for Kathy Griffin fans only Review: If you're a KG fan you'll love this book. Funny and crass as you'd expect from Kathy but also moving and personal. From her struggles with eating disorders and plastic surgery, to her failed marriage and her older brother who was a child molester. Very moving, very funny. Great read.
Review: This book has it's ammusing moments, but as a whole it fell flat. Not so much a memoir as a mishmash of ramblings and flashbacks. The writing style was abrasive and not overly enjoyable and none of the characters had any depth to them. I felt as if the author was more focused on trying to make us laugh than trying to write a good book. It felt like a bad stand up act and I was frustrated and bored for most of the book. It lacked depth and was fairly forgettable.
Review: This is the 1st book in a planned trilogy. It is supposed to set up the next two books. It borrows liberally from the setting of Lois Lowry's The Giver. The characters seemed flat to me, and the plot predictable.
Review: Moving and honest, Portia recalls her Ally McBeal days is such shocking detail, it's hard to believe the beautiful confident character she portrayed was nothing at all like the real woman. She was tortured and lost and this book was an easy and engrossing read. I got through it in two days. She spares no detail of her torment. This in to a recovery book, but a recollection of her disease, her childhood, her pain. I really enjoyed it.
Favorite quote/passage: "Shame weighs a lot more than flesh and bone."
Review: I resisted this book years ago when it was the flavor of the month, but finally caved and read it and was so glad I did. I devoured every page! So beautifully written, so full of longing and rich imagery. Fascinating & disturbing, yet somehow magical. I loved the way it really captured the era of Japan during WWI and WWII. I was sad to reach the end.
"From this experience I understood the danger of focusing only on what isn't there. What if I came to the end of my life and realized that I'd spent every day watching for a man who would never come to me? What an unbearable sorrow it would be, to realize I'd never really tasted the things I'd eaten, or seen the places I'd been, because I'd thought of nothing but the Chairman even while my life was drifting away from me. And yet if I drew my thoughts back from him, what life would I have? I would be like a dancer who had practiced since childhood for a performance she would never give."
Review: A beautifully written story of the lives of conjoined twins born to a nun/nurse and surgeon who have traveled to Ethiopia to work in a local hospital. The story is told by one of the twins who eventually travels to America in search of his biological father and to escape impending war in his beloved Ethiopia. This is a gripping tale of the lives of wonderful people who chose medicine as their vocation but who learned to forgive and love each other in spite of tumultuous events.
Favorite Quote/Passage: "Life too is like that. You live it forward but understand it backward."
"Please tell us what treatment in an emergency is administered by ear?" "Words of Comfort."
Review: It took a bit for me to get into this book, set in a post-apocalyptic world, but once I did I was hooked. A father and son surviving in a wasteland, horror always looming. Richly written, poetic, haunting imagery. Beautiful.
Favorite quote/passage: There were so many! Here's two:
"Perhaps in the world’s destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made. Oceans, mountains. The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be. The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular. The silence."
"Dark of the invisible moon. The nights now only slightly less black. By day the banished sun circles the earth like a grieving mother with a lamp."
Review: I couldn't put this book down! Such beautiful writing, interesting, rich, storytelling. I learned a lot about surgery, disease, the history of Ethiopia - the characters and their struggles were so real. I was sad when it ended. Don't let the 600 pages intimidate you, I flew through this book in no time.
Favorite Quote/Passage: "According to Shiva, life is in the end about fixing holes. Shiva didn't speak in metaphors. Fixing holes is precisely what he did. Still, it's an apt metaphor for our profession. But there's another kind of hole, and that is the wound that divides family. Sometimes this wound occurs at the moment of birth, sometimes it happens later. We are all fixing what is broken. It is the tast of a lifetime. We'll leave much unfinished for the next generation."
Review: A quick and easy read. This book wont change your life or catch your breath, but it was very entertaining. Alternating between the protagonist's life in the circus and his present day at aged 90 (or 93), I found both plots interesting. The ending was sweet.
I'll be the first to admit - it's hard for Jeffrey Eugenides to live up to the wonder that was Middlesex. I had very high hopes for this newest work, and had been waiting years for him to publish another book.
You'll find mixed reviews online - but mostly favor the positive, though not extraordinary.
For me though, the plot was very weak. Two guys love one girl. The character of Madeleine is pretty cardboard - she seems static at times. Leonard is better written, complex, albeit a tad disturbing with his episodes of manic depression. The third character - Mitchell - I actually like. Though he was the least "focused on" character. He seemed to pop in and out of what was mostly a Madeleine/Leonard show.
But more or less, the plot revolves around these three - their experiences in college, post-college, and some forays into the married world. It focuses mostly on character development and interaction. The plot isn't very solid.
Ultimately there was a nice little twist to the ending - but don't want to spoil it by mentioning it here.
I still love Jeffrey Eugenides' prose, his interesting dialogue, and his way of being able to describe what characters are going through without spelling it out and spoon feeding the reader. There were some interesting moments in this novel - but I'm not sure this is one I'd read again, though I would recommend it if you're a fan and would like a dose of beautiful writing. Just keep in mind that plot limitations can't overcompensate for prose.
Favorite quote/passage: (the last page - it's a nice twist)
I got hooked reading the first chapter as a sample and picked it up for $1.99 on my Nook. This was a fast read and a beautiful one. Opening with a failed suicide attempt, the story then takes place in a mental hospital from varying character's veiwpoints. Paulo Coelho actually spent time as a patient in a mental institution and drew from his own experiences. The prose is delicate and simple and there is a twist at the end (that I really should've seen coming, but didn't). This story celebrates life and encourages the appreciation of every day and every breath.
Favorite quote/passage: "If God exists, he will be generous with those creatures who chose to leave this earth early, and he might even apologize for having made us spend time here".