Bonnie A. (Mizzou) - - Reviews

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The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Review Date: 11/4/2006
Helpful Score: 6


This fairy tale-philosophical essay shimmers throughout its 167 pages---as one reads he accompanies the boy on the strange and marvelous journey in quest of his dream. I'm very glad to have become acquainted with this gifted Brazilian author.


An American Childhood
An American Childhood
Author: Annie Dillard
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 64
Review Date: 8/25/2008
Helpful Score: 4


Of Annie Dillard's books, I read An American Childhood first, and that was fortuitous, because later, when I read Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, I felt like I had known Annie as a girl and was meeting her again. Annie Dillard the woman is a close, respectful and articulate observer of the world around her at her home on Tinker Creek, Virginia. Reading pilgrim Annie's book is an esthetic pleasure and a therapeutic one, too. There are many readers like the woman I met once at a baccalaureate at which the speaker had taken his 'text' from Dillard. The woman said......"It's time for me to read Annie Dillard again." I understand that perfectly.


The Awakening
The Awakening
Author: Kate Chopin
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 138
Review Date: 8/22/2008
Helpful Score: 3


Every person who seeks to understand the "Women's Lib" phenomenon is obliged to read this seminal work. It gives a look into the heart, mind and soul of a woman who burned to be more than a 'trophy' wife, a bed partner, a domestic factotum, and a bearer of progeny. How desperately she burned to live her own INDIVIDUAL life, secure education, develop skills, follow interests, and express her own thoughts, ideas and feelings will be made abundantly clear to any female reader, and will even give an insight to the male reader who approaches the book in an unprejudiced way.


Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Author: Dai Sijie, Ina Rilke (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 682
Review Date: 7/29/2013
Helpful Score: 1


This was an amusing tale of "unintended consequences", in which a pair of 'urban' youths are sent to rural China for "reeducation" in the days of Mao-Tse Tung's Cultural Revolution". The youths' lives there as haulers of dung are made more bearable by their acquaintance with the local tailor's beautiful daughter, and their serendipitous discovery of a trove of literary classics, translated into Chinese. They use their talent at story-telling to gain the good will of the local villagers and particularly the 'little Chinese seamstress'. As the series of adventures and misadventures plays out, a remarkable switch of outlooks of the three young people takes place, that is nothing like what Chairman Mao had in mind!


Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God
Beachcombing for a Shipwrecked God
Author: Joe Coomer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 23
Review Date: 8/15/2007
Helpful Score: 1


In this insightful book that deals with abortion, marital infidelity, and unwed motherhood, Coomer writes of how Life has drawn together three women, each of whom has had a disastrous relationship that has left each bearing a load of guilt. Charlotte, a recently widowed archaeologist, Grace, an aging blue-haired widow who has inherited a wooden motor yacht, and Chloe, an unwed, pregnant, emotional 17-year-old become shipmates off the New England coast. As the share their lives, the three learn of the vexatious relationships each has had---Charlotte's with her in-laws after the death of their son; Grace's with her daughter who is unforgiving of her mother's marital infidelity; and Chloe's with her pathologically 'moralistic' parents. A genuine bond develops between the three, and they begin to learn how to forgive themselves and how to "live forward".


The Book of Eve (New Canadian Library)
The Book of Eve (New Canadian Library)
Author: Constance Beresford-Howe
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 10/27/2009


When I read this little book many years ago, I had no notion it was, sort of, a feminist novel. I was delighted when the heroine, upon her hypochondriac husband's retirement, sees "the handwriting on the wall" and reacts against his expectation of turning her into a private nurse-cook-laundress-factotum. I was pleased at that 'hinge' in the story, and then I further cheered for her when she went out, leaving the old parasite behind. She became a participant in LIFE, and a part of the scene, not just a slavish caretaker of a self-absorbed old crank. I think other readers will like getting to know Eva, too.


Breathing Lessons
Breathing Lessons
Author: Anne Tyler
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 273
Review Date: 10/22/2006
Helpful Score: 1


Long-married Ira and Maggie have a comfortably routine marriage, but on the road to a friend's funeral, they make some unexpected detours and discover how extraordinary their 'ordinary' lives really are . . .


Close Range : Wyoming Stories
Close Range : Wyoming Stories
Author: Annie Proulx
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 90
Review Date: 6/20/2012


Annie Proulx, who plainly loves Wyoming and truly understands loneliness, offers eleven stories written in the "spare, gnarly prose" that her readers have become acqainted with through her novels, The Shipping News and Accordion Crimes, and other story collections. In the last story in this collection, Brokeback Mountain, she deals most effectively with the homoerotic strain in American culture, when she writes of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist and their 20-year relationship. This story was the basis of a film by the same name, featuring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger.


The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Author: Muriel Barbery, Alison Anderson (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 448
Review Date: 4/29/2012


It's not often there comes along a book whose denouement leaves the reader saddened, but not saddened, but this is one such book. It is an intriguing story of the inner lives of two persons, a 54-year-old widow who is the concierge of an apartment building in Paris, and a 12 and a half year old girl, the precocious daughter of one of the tenants. The concierge, Madame Michel, or Renee, has secluded herself from the larger world and its hypocrisies; the very intelligent pre-teen, Paloma, is secretly planning her rather dramatic suicide. Barbery uses interior monologues to acqaint us with the thoughts and feelings of the two. We also learn of the various tenants in the building, in particular, of the 'new' tenant, Monsieur Ozu, a highly cultured Japanese gentleman and scholar, who enters, briefly but significantly, the lives of both Renee and Paloma. Un livre charmant.


Elegy for Iris
Elegy for Iris
Author: John Bayley
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 21
Review Date: 5/7/2009
Helpful Score: 1


The intimate and insightful account of the marriage of two British intellectuals, the philosophical novelist Iris Murdoch, and the eminent academic, literary critic, and writer John Bayley. Reading this account by the widower Bayley reveals how and why the marriage succeeded and endured for decades, in part because neither partner demanded concessions from the other's individual integrity, as artist, or as scholar. Bayley's musings about the changes Alzheimer's disease caused in his brilliant novelist-wife are poignant to read. He is forthright about the vexations that led to occasional outbursts on his part, but even when he recounts such moments, the reader can plainly understand that his love is unfaltering, and so it remained, to the end. Iris Murdoch died in February of 1999.


Famous Last Words
Famous Last Words
Author: Timothy Findley
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 4/29/2007


This story of an international cabal and its machinations behind the scenes during World War Two relates the "back stories" of a cast of characters some of whom were real persons and some of whom were fictional. Among the real characters are von Ribbentrop, Sir Harry Oakes, Charles Lindbergh, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. A strange but compelling novel.


The Golden Bough : Abridged Edition (Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics)
Review Date: 2/20/2015


This is a fascinating one-volume version of Frazier's masterwork on the history of religion(s). It's a book that any person concerned with spirituality, comparative religion, and/or the precedents of customs (worship/prayer/"sin", atonement, purification, birth, coming-of-age, death, etc.) still followed today should have on hand as a reference. It is not a book for fundamentalists whether Christian, Muslim, or any other major world religion, as it emphasizes the historical development of "beliefs" rather than "revelations."


The Moviegoer
The Moviegoer
Author: Walker Percy
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 12/7/2006
Helpful Score: 1


The protagonist, Binx Bolling, the "moviegoer", inhabits a world that is a strange admixture of ordinary life and work in suburban New Orleans and the celluloid reality of the movies. Percy seduces the reader into this light-and-shadow realm with some expertly drawn characters.Binx is happy in a movie, even a bad movie; the reader will be held by this novel, unsettling though it may be.


The Quiet American
The Quiet American
Author: Graham Greene
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 31
Review Date: 11/28/2006
Helpful Score: 1


This story of how the relationships between a seasoned foreign correspondent trying not to become "involved" in the fighting, a young American idealist whose grievously misguided policies lead to bloodshed, and a young Vietnamese girl all play out during the death throes of French colonial ambitions in Vietnam in the early 50s. It formed the basis of the 2002 Miramax film with Michael Caine and Brendan Frasier.


Random House Book of Science Fiction Stories
Review Date: 1/16/2007


Short stories by writers whose names will be familiar to readers of The Huntsman trilogy and the Last Legionary series, the Tripods trilogy about the invasion of Earth, the Starstormers series, and/or the Xanth series of fantasy novels. This anthology also includes two stories about the adventures of the crew of the starship Falcon.


The Secret Life of Bees
The Secret Life of Bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 5487
Review Date: 2/7/2007
Helpful Score: 1


Fourteen-year-old Lily Owens has only a blurred memory of her mother, as she is growing up in Sylvan, South Carolina, with her daddy, T. Ray, and Rosaleen, her black "stand-in mother". It's the Sixties, and when self-respecting Rosaleen has a run-in with three of the biggest racists in town, Lily takes up her cause and engineers Rosaleen's escape, and her own. The two run away to the town written on the back of a mysterious photo that Lily feels holds the secret to her mother's past. They become members of the household of an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters. Lily learns about beekeeping, the Black Madonna, and the secret of her mother's past, and at last is able to reconcile with her 'unloving' father, and to move confidently into young womanhood.


The Secret of Annexe 3
The Secret of Annexe 3
Author: Colin Dexter
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 10/27/2007


Chief Inspector Morse of the Thames Valley Police investigates the death of the man in a colorful Rastafarian costume who wins First Prize at the New Year's Eve costume party at the Haworth Hotel in Oxford. The man is found dead the next morning in Room 3 of the hotel's annexe, without a scrap of identification. Six guests returned to the annexe after the party, and thus they make up Morse's list of suspects. But.....why have they all vanished? This title marks the seventh appearance of the idiosyncratic Morse, and of his subordinate and friend, the long-suffering Sergeant Lewis.


The Shadow of the Wind
The Shadow of the Wind
Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 36
Review Date: 4/1/2007
Helpful Score: 3


Zafon more than fulfills the author's duty 'to be interesting' with this intricately-woven, suspenseful, wonderfully hypnotic novel of a tragic love in Barcelona in Civil War days there that altered the lives of another set of characters a generation later in that Spanish city. A novel that calls for, and rewards, attentive reading.


The Sterile Cuckoo
The Sterile Cuckoo
Author: John Nichols
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 8/17/2007


Jerry, 18, meets Pookie Adams at an Oklahoma bus depot, and becomes secretly enchanted by her zany, rambling monologue enroute to Saint Louis, where (with a sense of relief) he leaves her behind and continues to New York. Then it's off to college for Jerry, but he begins to receive lengthy letters from Pookie, 17 of them, in fact. Before he knows it, he's involved with a seemingly crazy, startlingly honest girl who adores him. She helps Jerry leave behind the the hedonist, beer-swilling frat boy, and teaches him to open his heart to her. Then she disappears from his life almost as suddenly as she appeared in it. A funny, imaginative and pathetic story of a rapturous love affair between two crazy college kids.


The Things They Carried
The Things They Carried
Author: Tim O'Brien
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 472
Review Date: 3/9/2007
Helpful Score: 3


This book, and Tim O'Brien's others, should be read by a lot of Americans, so that they will recall the experience of Vietnam. Iraq may overshadow their thoughts presently, but Vietnam should be remembered, and this first-hand account of American boys at war in a strange foreign land will help memory.


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