Cara (cheddy) - Reviews

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The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 975
Review Date: 9/22/2009


As a dog lover, I thought I would fall in love with this book. But the talking dog thing barked a little untrue. I appreciate a dog's wisdom and point of view, but the story seemed a bit "far fetched." At one point, Enzo took the witness stand in defense of his owner, because dogs never lie. A bit simplistic in terms of the plot, but overall worth reading.


The Beauty Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Smart Beauty
The Beauty Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Smart Beauty
Author: Paula Begoun
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 12
Review Date: 3/6/2010


Save money! Expert advice on skin care, the fraud of the beauty industry, sun sense and cosmetics. From AHAs to zinc oxide, Paula Begoun has evaluated the hype (claims by the cosmetics industry) vs. the reality. Does hair dye cause cancer? Is it worth it to by expensive cosmetics are some of the questions Paula addresses. I liked her no-nonsense approach to cosmetics.


Bleachers
Bleachers
Author: John Grisham
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 314
Review Date: 4/7/2009


One-dimensional characters gather to say farewell to their iconic high school football coach, Eddie Rake. This controversial figure touched the lives of all of his players over the thirty years that he coached the Messina Spartans. What makes the story appealing, is that the main character, Neely Crenshaw is so believable, the divorced, former All-American quarterback who suffered a career-ending knee injury.
It appears that this book is really a short story, an assignment from writing class that begins something like, pick a moment where you felt profound emotion and blow it up. This story is really one moment in time that is exploded over a course of three days.


The Boleyn Inheritance
The Boleyn Inheritance
Author: Philippa Gregory
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 618
Review Date: 12/7/2008


I didn't like the book as well as TOBG. The three character telling by Katharine Howard, Anne of Cleves and Jane Boleyn seemed a bit contrived, due to the amount of repetition of the plot. Although historical, this account is clearly fictionalized. The ending did come as a surprise, but the story lacked the passion and competition of TOBG.


Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia
Review Date: 10/19/2008


Elizabeth Gilbert is a woman on a mission of self-discovery. Few women can identify with the thirty-one year old who had a husband, country home and successful career as a NY writer. Fewer still can identify with the ability to take nine months off to discover oneself following a wrenching divorce. In a funny travel journal, Gilbert writes of her experiences traveling through Italy, India and Indonesia. It's her thoughtful insight and witty prose that make this a book worth reading.


Empire Falls
Empire Falls
Author: Richard Russo
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 624
Review Date: 5/26/2009
Helpful Score: 3


This book will leave you breathless. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, with weak and human characters and a portrait of small town Maine that is tragic, stifling and beautiful. Miles Roby is a damned son of a drinker, blasphemer, shiftless charmer and a saint when he drops out of college to manage the Empire Grill. Twenty years and one ex-wife later, he is still the poor, dutiful loser-everyman. His dream is to return to idyllic Martha's Vineyard and run a coffee-bookshop with his high-school aged daughter, Tick. His dream nearly comes true, but what love affair draws him back to the Vineyard remains a mystery. I loved the pacing of the novel, as it meanders like a river through the lives of the characters. Unforgettable! This book's a keeper.


Gilead
Gilead
Author: Marilynne Robinson
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 295
Review Date: 7/23/2009


I'm one of the people who did not appreciate this slow-paced, beautifully written book. I had a hard time entering the world of Rev. John Ames, 76, who is writing a letter to his son in the 1950's. The book spans Gilead, Iowa in the 1820s to the 1950s. This book struck me as the musings of an old man, written in a disjointed style without chapters. The religious aspects of this book are breathtaking, and this book is definitely a work of art. However, if you enjoy a modern novel, not a journal of memories than this is probably not a book for you.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, Bk 1)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, Bk 1)
Author: Stieg Larsson
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1262
Review Date: 7/9/2009
Helpful Score: 11


Compelling murder mystery. Gripping, this book kept me up long into the night reading. Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist with a conviction for libel. He is approached by Vanger, a wealthy industrialist to write a detailed family saga. The Swedish setting of Hedestad and the names took a little getting used to. One of the most suspenseful books I've read in a long time.


Good Dog. Stay.
Good Dog. Stay.
Author: Anna Quindlen
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 87
Review Date: 3/2/2009
Helpful Score: 3


I didn't like this book as much as I expected to, as a dog lover. This book chronicles the life and death of Beau, her laborador retriever of 14 years. As a lab owner, I can identify with some of the childish antics of Beau, like when they got a second dog, Beau's response was one they had seen in parenting, not dog raising. Beau pushed the dog out of the way, and he clearly wondered why they got another dog, as if his owners had lost their minds. The anecdotes of dog life were more like a series of essays, which is how the book originally appeared. I found it a bit trite and cliched, but worth reading.


The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Author: Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 665
Review Date: 6/6/2009
Helpful Score: 2


"Perhaps there is some secret sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." Told through a series of letters, this novel is heartfelt, but without being overly sentimental. The book describes life on the island of Guernsey during the German occupation of World War II. Characters include Juliet Ashton, writing a book about Guernsey island and its inhabitants; Isola Pribby, part-time detective and founding member of the literary society; Elizabeth, young nurse in love with a German officer; Dawsey, the quiet pig farmer/carpenter and reluctant member of the society. The Literary society is formed as a way to help residents cope with the German presence.

This book works on so many levels as a historical novel, a humorous story, a comment on reading, a comment on man's humanity and inhumanity during some of the darkest days of the last century. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll join a book group.


Let the Great World Spin
Let the Great World Spin
Author: Colum McCann
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 193
Review Date: 2/27/2010


I am in awe of the unbelievable emotional power of this post-911 tragedy. The story of a day when a lone tightrope walker walked between the two towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. Seeing the documentary Man on a Wire really gave a feel for the event. This multi-perspective modern novel takes a single day in 1974 and looks at how the lives of the people of NY are touched: hookers and heros, mothers their sons who died in Vietnam, judges and junkies, priests and painters. We do not know the small ways that our lives are woven together.


Lost & Found (Rocky Pelligrino, Bk 1)
Lost & Found (Rocky Pelligrino, Bk 1)
Author: Jacqueline Sheehan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 486
Review Date: 9/28/2008
Helpful Score: 17


Anyone who is going through a loss can identify with this book. Rocky finds her husband dead on the floor of her house due to a heart attack. She reacts by making a radical change, changing her career, moving to Maine and becoming an animal control warden. She meets a community of people who live on the small island. One of the main characters, Lloyd, is an injured labrador retriever who needs a place to stay. The secret that Lloyd brings with him will change Rocky's life. The book includes a mystery of Lloyd's injury.

The characters are well-drawn, not one dimensional, and the plot makes this a fast-paced exciting book to read. Although Lloyd is a character in the story, this book is not for animal lovers only.


Madame Bovary (Barnes & Noble Classics)
Review Date: 11/1/2008


Madame Bovary is a nineteenth century French novel of love, adultery, death and debt. The tale is a story of archetypal characters: the adulterous woman, Emma; the orphan, Berthe; the country doctor, Charles; the chatty pharmacist, Homais; the sophisticated lover, Rudolpho. Emma Bovary is a bored country housewife who finds little sustenance in her life. Instead, she turns to an adulterous relationship with a sophisticated gentlemen and later with a Paris clerk. She faints after finding out that her lover will not run away with her, and takes to her bed. She ignores her husband and child while reading romance novels and taking up with a new lover in Paris. She spends her money on every luxury, and plunges into a cycle of debt that she cannot control. I found this to be a psychological tale of adultery and the life of the 18th century French middle class. A classic must-read with a message for today.


March
March
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 515
Review Date: 7/12/2010


Destined to be a classic, set during the American Civil War, Mr. March, father of Beth, Jo, Amy and Meg leaves his Concord home in search of justice. Chaplain to the Northern army, Mr. March, aged 39, travels with the Union troops as a spirtual guide. What happens when his own morality is tested, and the truth of his experiences with women and the war cause him to question his own beliefs. Beautifully written, the images of the war-ravaged South, the Northern carpet-bagger Mr. Canning, slave owner Clement, the struggle of the emancipated blacks and the barbarity of slavery will haunt you. A marvelously written book with moving three-dimensional characters and tremendous dialogue. Cameo appearances by Emerson and Thoreau. Pulitzer Prize winner. This one stays on my shelf.


Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog
Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog
Author: Ted Kerasote
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 73
Review Date: 6/10/2009
Helpful Score: 4


As a dog lover, I enjoyed this book immensely. This book combined the latest research on canine companions and the personal story of Merle, an amazing dog that lived in the Wyoming Grand Tetons National Park with his person, Ted. As an owner of a labrador, it makes me question the suggestions of trainers that humans need to be the alpha dog in the house, because for many dogs, being an equal is desired. Also, it gives insight into the health care provided for dogs. Ted also suggests that dogs need immense mental stimulation and free time off leash every day. This book will touch your heart as it delves into the reason that dogs are the most devoted, loyal companion. My only criticism is that Ted tends to anthropomorphize Merle, who is all too human. Winner Outdoor Book of the Year.


Middlesex
Middlesex
Author: Jeffrey Eugenides
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 921
Review Date: 3/19/2009
Helpful Score: 12


Pulitzer Prize winner? You have got to be kidding me. I hated it. A contemporary, disjointed, out-of-sync epic? Epic only in the sense of a tale told by a fool signifying nothing. I fail to see what the fascination is with this simplistic hermaphrodite tale where the fate of the Stephanides family is recounted in boring overly-spun prose. Cal/Calliope is no muse, no Ishmael, and no Holden Caulfield, struggling with his/her sexual identity.


Netherland
Netherland
Author: Joseph O'Neill
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 67
Review Date: 9/14/2009
Helpful Score: 1


Unbelievable. Breathtaking. The literary power of Joseph O'Neill captures Manhattan in a post-9/11 world. Hans is a Dutch banker with a dysfunctional marriage and a passion for America's sport - cricket. Like F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, this novel tells a story of shadowy figures and the American dream.


Night
Night
Author: Elie Wiesel, Marion Wiesel (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 1065
Review Date: 5/28/2010


Stunning novel, new translation from the original French. Originally published in 1958, ten years after the author's survival as a teenager at Auschwitz-Birkenau. I am awed and humbled by the power of the haunting imagery today. Reading the book with high school students today provides a new voice and personal connection for the students with the author and the Holocaust.


A Painted House
A Painted House
Author: John Grisham
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 76
Review Date: 11/28/2008
Helpful Score: 1


I enjoyed reading A Painted House because of its slow-paced look at life in 1952 Black Oak, Arkansas. The story is told through the eyes of seven year old Luke Chandler. The story takes place during six weeks of the Chandler's fall cotton crop. When young Luke witnesses a murder, secrets abound. The style of the novel is like Steinbeck with its deliberate pace and ability to evoke a simpler time and place.


The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth
Author: Ken Follett
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 1159
Review Date: 10/21/2008
Helpful Score: 3


The Pillars of the Earth describes a story that is larger than life. All the trappings of medieval twelfth century life in England are depicted. The story includes wild battle scenes, hangings, morality plays, serfdom, courtly and monastic life painted with Follett's broad brush. The political intrigue of the period and the fracture between the church and the state, king and archbishop, rule of law and the rule of God are seen here.

This book contains unforgettable characters like Aliena, the beautiful and penniless daughter of an Earl; Thomas Becket, the priest turned martyr; pious, but ambitious Philip the prior of Kingsbridge whose desire to build a cathedral for the "glory of God" is overwhelming; William Hamleigh, displaced earl, is truly evil. Although long, the book is remarkable to read, with fast paced action and gripping, believable dialogue. The story will leave you breathless and satisfied in its stunning conclusion.


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