Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Tiger's Wife: A Novel by Tea Obreht

I should simply have gone to the last page, and not wasted the
last several hours of my life. This is a story of .. well I wish I knew.
There is a young girl, who is close with her grandfather. The grandfather
is a doctor and the girl would be someday as well. He told her stories of his life.

The mishmash of stories revolves around a time when her grandfather was a
boy in a town in the Balkans. And ther eare stories of when he was an adult,
a doctor and well respected. It swings back and forth through time so often that
it takes concentration to sort out where or when you are.

It is a story of murder, of evil and of children who are not loved.
There is a fantasy or maybe a legend that is the thread that runs through the
book. The thread is more the Tiger, than the young woman who came to be referred
to as the Tiger's Wife.

I admit it. I got sucked into the hype, the marketing and I suffered for it.
This is a book I requested from the vine program because it sounded like
it would be a faery tale or lovely story. There was nothing lovely about it.
The story is was like a salad, One made of iceberg lettuce. A salad with little bits
and pieces of this and that. But the bits and pieces are so small, and so widely spread
throughout that they have no hope of adding interest or flavor.

The man who couldn't die, turned up now and then for a bit of spice. Other
than that, the very best part of this book is the final paragraph. That earned
the book a star to add than the single star rating I had planned to give it.
The final paragraph was beautiful.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'm Over All That: And Other Confessions by Shirley MacLaine

When Shirley Maclaine writes, it feels more like a conversation with her. So, this won't be a review so much as a comment or two. I feel the need to mention that I love her madly, and feel that she has never written a book that was not at least interesting, if not fascinating. I also feel that she has never given a performance on screen that was anything but stellar. I guess you could say that I am a fan. I have been a fan since I saw her on tv, way back in the distant past. It was either the movie My Geisha, or a clip. I am not sure of anything except I saw her and was immediately drawn to her and have never lost that feeling of connection. Past life connection perhaps? Maybeso. Like Shirley, that is part of my belief system. 

I have read all of her books except Saging While Aging , because somehow that one fell off my radar. 
I have enjoyed them all, and always feel that the most recent is my favorite. This hasn't changed. As in her other books, I'm Over All That is full of her thoughts and opinions. She share freely and she explains why she feels the way she does. I love the  idea of her "wall of life". I saw it on Oprah when she was there to be interviewed recently. She has a lovely home. It looks right for her. And the idea of having a place to go in your home to simply remember times and people who have shared your life is 
brilliant. I might just try a variation of it myself. I am not a celebrity, but my life is mine, and the people and times are my own. I like it.  Stay tuned. 

We hear about her relationships with some of the leading men in her life, as well as men she has met and men she simply fell in love with at the time. There were a lot of them, but I truly believe that she loved them all. She is so open and honest, and interested. Yes interested as well as interesting. I share her trait of being an individual who questions. I want to know why, how and when. I want to learn . There are many things like religion, politics and spirituality where we share similar questions, Shirley and I . 

There are some references to journeys she has taken in other books, in fact there are references to journeys he has taken in other lifetimes. So often she is validated in strong and simple, yet meaningful ways.  For instance, a cross she had owned in a previous lifetime came back to her this time. How much more validation can you get? To find out how this happened you need to read the book. I encourage you to read the book, because it is filled with answers. And questions, and love. She is a loving person, and a down to earth one. She is still beautiful, by the way, she isn't over that.. 

I am over many of the same things she is, by the way.. Thanks Shirley!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Black Swan by Chris Knopf

This is the first book in the Sam Acquillo series that I have read. I enjoyed it from the first page.
The reader is drawn into some fast action and witty dialogue immediately. The book opens with
Sam , girl friend Amanda, and Sam's lively mutt Eddie, delivering a sleek, new, sailboat to a friend.
A storm came up with no warning and Sam and Amanda have their hands full keeping the  boat on the
water, instead of under it.

Obviously, they do manage to survive or it would have been a very short book, and that would have
been a shame. This was a good Sunday afternoon read. It was fast paced, very fast paced. No time
to be bogged down, as every page was filled with either charming and witty dialog or pertinent events.
It was filled with improbable situations that only made the story more fun. Who needs a fun read to be

If you are looking for deep drama, or a literary challenge, avoid this book. You won't be impressed.
If you want a good fast paced mystery on an island being rocked by sudden storms and an even more
sudden spurt of serious crime, give it a try. The solution to the mystery is interesting and has a unique

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Doc: A Novel by Mary Doria Russell

This was a book from the Vine Program. I freely admit that I had no interest in reading
anything remotely "Western" in flavor. I had no interest in John Henry "Doc" Holiday. I
requested this book because it is my opinion that Mary Doria Russell is not capable
of writing anything but a wonderful book. I was not disappointed.

We have all heard of Doc Holiday and the the gun fight at the OK Corral. For many of us,
that is as much as we know. Gun fight, shooting, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday. For many
of us, that has been enough. Who cares really, what a couple of gunslingers did during
one of their less then stellar moments?

Let me say that I care a lot more now than I did before. Doc is a novel. And of course a
certain amount of license was taken with the materiel available. This is not to say that
this is a work of pure fiction. Russell states that much of her research was based on a
biography that was written by a member of Doc's own family. That biographer was privy to
much family information and many letters and stories that another researcher might not
have available. This explains how the character of Doc Holiday and those around him are
so rich and full and real. This also explains why Doc is portrayed as so much more than
previous movies and novels suggested. We are shown a good, and in fact, sickly man who had some
bad times. He lived during a time when law was often taken lightly, when in fact there were
laws or lawmen to be found.

John Henry Holiday was well educated. He came from a good family, and he loved and was
loved. He left them, and the relative comfort of his family home in order to try to
keep his health. He like his mother before him suffered from tuberculosis. He was
a practicing dentist when he left home, and continued with the practice of dentistry
over the years, although it was not his main source of income. Doc will introduce you
to a much different man than the one you think you know. This is a page turner like all of
Russell's books. You will find yourself caring about the characters and wishing them well.
I found myself wondering how it would end, and sorry when it did.


And you might want to find yourself more books by this author, once the last page has been read

Monday, April 4, 2011

Galore by Michael Crummey


Newfoundland always has a bit of a magical ring to me. When I had the opportunity to read
this for the Vine program, I was intrigued. It takes place in Newfoundland,in a place called
Paradise Deep. It opens with a beached whale being carved into for oil and food by the starving
inhabitants of this fishing community.

As they all worked for their share, and arugued with the man who said he owned that part
of beach, A woman, known as Devine's Widow, cuts into the belly of the poor whale, and out
came a man. He was an albino. He is a central character to the story, and yet, nary a
word passes his lips. Despite this, a more extraordinary man is seldom found.

The story leads us down through the generations of the family of Devine family. Suffice to say
that few men of the family manage to make much of a name for themselves, and certainly no one
is quite like the albino, who came to be known as Judah. The women of the family are another
story altogether. They are a force to be reckoned with, each and every one.

Although we watch as some leave the community for other ports, including the United States. Eventually,some of the men head for Europe. We follow them through good times and bad. We find characters to loveand other that we can barely tolerate, just as we would in any town. I suspect that some of us would notagree on which was which.

An ongoing theme is poverty, and want. Each generation will face it and tragedies of their own. I
was sorry to see the story end, and would not have minded seeing it continue to the present. I felt
that as much as the story offered, I would gladly have accepted more.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mama Day by Gloria Naylor

This is a story filled with the magic of full rich characters,
most of them strong and loving women. Much of it takes place
on Willow Island, a barrier island off the shores of Georgia and
South Carolina. The residents of Willow Island live a life similar
to that which their ancestors lived a hundred years before. While they
did have modern conveniences, they certainly didn't depend on
them for happiness. Love, family and tradition ruled their day.

Mama day, Abigail, Cocoa, Ruby and more. They all have their own
story, and they tell it, or have it told in rich mellow voices. I
don't know how anyone can read this book and not love Mama Day and Abigail.
And they have within them a magic all their own. A knowing that has been lost
to most over the generations. I have to believe that they are based on
women known by the author, otherwise how did she make them so real? And
if they are not, all the more kudos to their creator.

Cocoa, a younger woman from their family spends most of her time in New
York City, where she lives, works and falls in love. She too, is quite
a force, but often more negative then she should be. We find out in the
story how life changes her.