Lauren T. (littlegirl) - - Reviews

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The Accidental
The Accidental
Author: Ali Smith
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 38
Review Date: 8/15/2014


I liked the idea of this book much more than the book itself. I liked the way each character sort of retold events in their own voice with their own perspective. However, it was billed as being "wickedly humorous" and I didn't really find it very funny at all. I actually thought it was rather sad. Maybe the British humor was lost on me. I also wasn't impressed by the ending...or lack there of.


And the Band Played On : Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
And the Band Played On : Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic
Author: Randy Shilts
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 8/19/2012


While so much has happened in the field of HIV/AIDS research since this book was written, And the Band Played On is still the quintessential telling of a hugely important public health issue in the U.S. By telling the personal stories of individuals who played key roles in the unfolding epidemic, Mr. Shilts weaves a compelling and gripping story that is accessible to anyone interested in the history of HIV/AIDS; you dont need to be a medical professional to understand this story.


The Billionaire's Vinegar: The Mystery of the World's Most Expensive Bottle of Wine
Review Date: 9/19/2010


This book was incredibly researched and the topic was very interesting. However, the story unfolds VERY slowly and is loaded with a lot of detail that seemed unnecessary to the story. It seemed like the story could have been effectively told in a long magazine article, not an entire book.

I have an "unpostable" copy of the book that i'm happy to send for free if you're interested. The pages are fine and the book is intact, but the cover is a bit ratty.


Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen
Review Date: 9/13/2012


This best-seller from 2009 is still a great story. In addition to just the story of Caballo Blanco, which was the subject of Mr. McDougalls previously published articles, the book also explores topics of evolution and physiology as they relate to running, and incorporates the back-stories of a number of other ultra-runners, to further round out the story and make for a very interesting book. At first I was put off by the way the author inserted himself into the story. I typically HATE when authors insert themselves into the book, to me, it comes across as filler because the topic they set out to write about wasnt that interesting and/or didnt provide enough material for a book. However, because of Mr. McDougalls personal relationships with Caballo Blanco, the Tarahumara and the running community, his interaction with them really did advance the story and make for an interesting conclusion to the book. The book does, however need an afterward. For that, you can click here (spoiler alert): http://tinyurl.com/7sp2mv3


City of Glass (The New York Trilogy, Vol 1)
City of Glass (The New York Trilogy, Vol 1)
Author: Paul Auster
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 24
Review Date: 5/2/2011


In reading this book, you truly have no idea where it is going at any point. Daniel Quin, an author of detective novels, accepts a real assignment as private investigator from a man who dials his phone number by mistake. The investigation spirals out of control and leads Quinn to some serious soul searching after he manages to lose track of his original assigment. One of the most unique stories I've read.


Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World
Author: Mark Kurlansky
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 72
Review Date: 1/5/2011


This short read (just about 300 pages) is a great chronology impact and influence the cod fishing industry has had on society. It provides enough detail and background of world events (economic, political, military, etc) to understand how they impacted the fishing industry without getting mired in too many details. The book also provides awesome insight into the people whose lives have been forever altered by this one industry, that at first glance sounds small, but in reality is much bigger and far-reaching that you would have thought. Looking forward to reading Mark's other books - Salt and the Big Oyster.


Doctor Dealer: The Rise and Fall of an All-American Boy and His Multimillion-Dollar Cocaine Empire
Review Date: 4/25/2011


You can speed through the 330+ pages very quickly. Mark Bowden tells another great story with an amazing level of detail. How he manages to get so much detail from his research is amazing. It makes the characters come to life and you understand why each player - from street thug, to con man, to college student - is in the drug game. Similar plot line to the movie Blow, but so much more detailed.


Fire
Fire
Author: Sebastian Junger
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 2/16/2012


The collection of essays/long articles in this book are each excellent. I love the in-depth reporting, which reminds me of Mark Bowden, whose work i also really enjoy. The only downfall of this book is that the stories are quite dated, as the book was published in 2002 and many of the stories within it were published years before that. While some, like the fire stories, stand up to the test of time, others, such as the war ones, were interesting, but became confusing as many of the places he's reporting from (yugoslavia, for example), no longer even exist.


Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America
Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America
Author: Amy Belding Brown
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 19
Review Date: 9/30/2014
Helpful Score: 1


On one hand, I enjoyed the story, on the other, I had a lot of problems with it. It was fast paced, well-written and kept me interested. My main problem with it was that it seemed to fall victim to racist native american stereotypes. While I have no doubt that the battles between the colonists and native americans were bloody and fierce, the author goes to great lengths to describe many acts committed by the native americans in great detail - throwing babies in the air and clubbing them? Scalping people alive? Burning women and children alive? The author does, however, try to point out some of the war crimes the colonists are alleged to have taken part in - beheadings,scalpings, setting fires to villages - they're presented more as "hearsay" among the colonists and aren't described in vivid detail. I'm sure much of this has to do with the source material she was working from, but the first part of the book was a little gruesome and disturbing....


Review Date: 3/15/2014


This book wasn't exactly what I had expected. I thought the author had written the book based on the original writings of the Works Progress Administration. Instead it was reproductions of some of the actual WPA submissions to what was supposed to be America Eats. As the author points out, some of the submissions are better than others. I was into it for about the first half or so, and then I started losing interest as the book moved west.


Harbor (Vintage Contemporaries)
Harbor (Vintage Contemporaries)
Author: Lorraine Adams
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 7/29/2010


A very interesting story that demonstrates how hard it is to make it as a new American immigrant. I still felt like i wanted to know more about the characters' backgrounds, but maybe that is how the author wanted it - to leave us guessing. Looking forward to reading more books by the author.


I am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir
I am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir
Author: Josh Kilmer-Purcell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 108
Review Date: 8/17/2010


The only way I can describe this is a "hot mess." A quick read - like a train wreck you keep going back for more. What is most interesting is to read how wild Josh was and how different he is now with his long-time partner on The Fabulous Beekman Boys. If you haven't see the show, it's about josh (the drag queen) and his partner own a goat farm in upstate new york and are trying to make a business out of goat soap and goat cheese.

http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/the-fabulous-beekman-boys/the-fabulous-beekman-boys.html


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: Rebecca Skloot
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 456
Review Date: 2/5/2012


This was a really interesting look at the woman behind one of biology's most famous cell lines. If you liked Splendid Solution, about the discovery of the polio vaccine, I think you would also like this book a lot as well. The author's description of the challenges she faced writing book was a bit of an intrusion, but really shed a light on the lives of Henrietta's descendants, which is important to the story.


Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Into Thin Air : A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster
Author: Jon Krakauer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 347
Review Date: 7/29/2010


This book is hauntingly amazing (if that compound adjective is even legit). Krakauer's narrative not only provides the reader with enough background about each climber heading up the mountain that day to make you care about them, but his account of the days (hours?) when the blizzard hit is so gripping you feel like you are there with them, trapped at the top of the earth, shivering, gasping for air. I haven't read any of the other accounts of this climb, but I can't imagine the writing comes anywhere near this one. I think i remember seeing a movie (made for TV perhaps) about this, and it was terrible - don't bother.


Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (Vintage)
Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi (Vintage)
Author: Geoff Dyer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 12/22/2010


This isn't really one novel - it is two short novels / long stories in one book. Both stories did a great job describing the cities in which they were set and the various people (locals and visitors) who inhabit those cities.

I thought the first story, "Jeff in Venice," was a perfect hyperbole (or maybe not) of today's "peter pan" culture --- booze, drugs, art, fashion, sex, yachts, etc.

Unfortunately, the second story, "Death in Varanasi," relied heavily on some sort of parallel between the author's view of the world and classical Indian music, which I know nothing about. I didn't even know what the instruments he was describing looked like, much less what they sounded like. Therefore, I sort of breezed right through this story just to get it over with. I did, however, like the way Dyer described the people (and animals) the narrator encountered in Varanasi. I also couldn't really figure out why the narrator stayed there so long - what did he do all day? Why? How long was he even there? Seemed like months....


The Monster of Florence
The Monster of Florence
Author: Douglas Preston, Mario Spezi
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 77
Review Date: 9/2/2010


The most intriguing part of this story is that it's TRUE and while the murders happened in early '80's, the corrupt and unbelievable investigation and prosecution STILL CONTINUES today! Yes there are a lot of characters as the myriad of suspects come in and out of the story, but it's really not difficult to follow. The authors often remind the reader who people are ("Mignini, the prosecutor from Perugio," etc). I found it to be afast read (becasue i couldn't put it down) and I would recommend it to anyone who like real-life drama (not the reality TV kind!).


Moonlight on Linoleum: A Daughter's Memoir
Moonlight on Linoleum: A Daughter's Memoir
Author: Terry Helwig
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 10/12/2014


I found this memoir unique and interesting. However, I found the narrative to be somewhat repetitive and lacking something - emotion maybe? passion? It came across as more of an itinerary of the family's various moves around the midwest, as opposed to a memoir.


Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Author: Piper Kerman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 161
Review Date: 2/5/2012


Orange is the New Black was a really interesting look and perspective into the American criminal justice system. While I've had a vague familiarity with the concept of "mandatory minimum sentences," this book really demonstrated the effect that those laws have and how they lead to recidivism, homelessness, and a host of other social problems once prisoners are released.


The Other Family
The Other Family
Author: Joanna Trollope
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 36
Review Date: 10/19/2010
Helpful Score: 4


Joanna Trollope has been writing novels for decades, and I've only just discovered her now! This book was beautifully written and engaging from start to finish. The book opens with the death of Ritchie Rossiter, a famous singer/songwriter (akin to a Tony Bennet, I guess). The story then focuses on how his his business manager / life partner for 23 years, Chrissie, and their three daughters deal with the devastation and shock of his death, which is complicated by the realization that they must now deal with Ritchie's first wife and son. Trollope manages to tell the story from everyone's point of view so that you really get to know and understand all of the characters. I will definately seek out additional books by her. She has also written some historical fiction under the name Caroline Harvey.


Peace Like A River
Peace Like A River
Author: Leif Enger
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 464
Review Date: 8/3/2011


This book is very well written and moves along pretty quickly; good character development. I really enjoyed the "story within a story" as told by the lead character's little sister. However, based on the description, i thought there would be more excitement in this "cross-country search," which turned out to be just sitting around a farm house in Montana in the dead of winter. I also found the dad's miracles and the lead character's asthma to be weird outliers that have little to do with the main story at hand....


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