Leigh - Reviews

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100 Hair-Raising Little Horror Stories
Review Date: 5/18/2013
Helpful Score: 1


Some good, some bad, some confusing - a real mixed bag. A few stand-outs that kind of blow your mind. Decent to read at night, short enough to keep your attention for a few pages and then lights-out. Actually, *perfect* for that - read these at night!


1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion (Irish Century)
1916: A Novel of the Irish Rebellion (Irish Century)
Author: Morgan Llywelyn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 41
Review Date: 6/13/2007
Helpful Score: 19


Rich with description, action, and history, this novel recounts the brutal events in Ireland during the Easter Rising from the point of view of a likeable and sympathetic character. I learned a lot of information from the research Llywelyn put into this. It is always amazing to read about an outnumbered few becoming motivated enough to take on an entire country. Recommended for history buffs and lovers of all things Irish.


5-Day Miracle Diet
5-Day Miracle Diet
Author: Adele Puhn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 5/18/2013


I can tell you for certain that from my experience with the book, this eliminated food cravings. I do think the author is on to something here. Whether or not one loses weight is one thing but if you want to learn more about eliminating cravings and keeping energy up (stabilizing blood sugar), this is worth a read; her strategies really do work and they don't require purchasing a line of products. She's realistic and this is completely applicable today. And healthy - did I mention that??


The 500 Best Urban Legends Ever!
The 500 Best Urban Legends Ever!
Author: Yorick Brown, Mike Flynn
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 5/18/2013


So fun to read these things. You'll recognize a bunch from forwarded emails and facebook posts. Think of it as a portable snopes.com.


Abbott Awaits: A Novel (Yellow Shoe Fiction)
Abbott Awaits: A Novel (Yellow Shoe Fiction)
Author: Chris Bachelder
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 1/3/2014


Take warning if you're a neurotic parent; this will disturb you, as it hones in on your fears and worries and parental ennui. I felt at one point as if the author had sliced my brain open and peered in at what I was thinking while watching an old video of one of my kids. Chilling.

This is a fair book and I think it best summed up in a paraphrase: I wouldn't change a thing about my life, but I hate it.

Adjusting to life with a child is difficult, challenging, exhausting, frustrating, maddening, etc. That's because you have a new, different life and it involves making yourself "play blocks" or feign excited interest for hours while your child shows you he or she can jump on one foot. Although your body is occupied, your mind is not. And that's prime nesting area for neuroses to grow.

The title, I felt, couldn't have been more appropriate. As parents, we're waiting. We're waiting for life to change, to feel different, for our freedom to be returned. We hate being in this state. But we'd never change it. But we hate it.

So honest and readable that although it pained me to read some of it, I give it a full 4 1/2 stars.


Adieu, My Love (Avalon Romance)
Adieu, My Love (Avalon Romance)
Author: Lynn M. Turner
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 5/18/2013


A decent, clean little Avalon historical romance. Good history of the English being evil to the French at Louisbourg. Typical dastardly villains trying to do naughty things and getting caught, misunderstood good guy trying to get the independent gal, a comedy of errors of sorts, etc. Love this stuff.


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Penguin Classics)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Penguin Classics)
Author: Mark Twain, Guy Cardwell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 128
Review Date: 6/13/2007
Helpful Score: 20


Surprisingly, this is one of the funniest books I've ever read. Twain injects humor into ordinary circumstances and creates extraordinary situations. My favorite is when Huck convinces Jim to etch stories of his captivity and torturous life in jail on metal plates and throw them out of the window of the small guest cabin behind Huck's aunt's house, where Jim had been staying only a week.

Huck's a mischievous and adventure-loving little guy you'll really enjoy simply because of his bold and fearless personality. Twain did well with this one and I recommend it.


The Age of Innocence
The Age of Innocence
Author: Edith Wharton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 109
Review Date: 7/19/2011
Helpful Score: 1


*** Spoiler Alert ***

I wouldn't say this book was disappointing, but it didn't overwhelm me like some of Wharton's other works, like "Summer." I understood that Wharton was poking fun at the upper class in New York in the early 1900s and a lot of her observations were both keen and humorous; however, it became tedious to read essentially the same conversation over and over. Multiple times various characters talked of scandal within their family and how horrible it all was and how one must keep up appearances, if not for one's own sake, then for that of the family. It also seemed as if every character was somehow related to another. It lent the novel an incestuous feel.

Two people who have barely glimpsed one another and have hardly spoken in depth simply cannot fall in love. Archer's and Ellen's relationship seemed almost as cursory a relationship as Bella's and Edward's from "Twilight," all the moaning and wistful sighs about being together.

In Part II, a strange turn emerges where May, Archer's wife, is suddenly a vacuous husk of a woman in Archer's eyes. Archer comes across as a spoiled and arrogant brat.

What I did appreciate about this book most of all was the very end, where both Archer and Ellen decide to keep their 30-year old memories of each other just as they are rather than befoul them with the aged present. For the same reason, I will never read Wharton's "Summer" again.


The Age of Miracles
The Age of Miracles
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 38
Review Date: 10/10/2013


This is one of the saddest books I've ever read and I became very emotional during the final bit. The last line made me burst into tears. What I felt was due in no way to the characters, but instead to humanity, which the author did an astounding job capturing. Human feelings and our entire existence is so fleeting in the grand scheme of things. I'm getting weepy just writing this.

The main character, Julia, is supposedly 11 at the time of The Slowing, when the Earth slows its axial rotation, bit by bit. She celebrates her 12th birthday during the course of the story. She acts and speaks like no other 11- or 12-year old on Earth. Had the author made her 15, turning 16, she would have been believable. This is the only problem I have with the book.

Ignoring for the most part how other countries dealt with The Slowing, this focused entirely on the United States, including its attempted solutions to the problem. But even government couldn't keep up with the rapid changes to the human body and its adaptation (or lack thereof). Also affected were animals, weather, the magnetic fieldeverything you think could be affected was, and in ways you wouldn't imagine.

I could deal with the angsty Julia and her blooming relationship with Seth because of the steady trickle of information she released during her narration.

I thought this novel would lighten my spirits, due to its title, but don't expect it to. You're not making the mark you think you are. For me, I feel nothing but anomie. Humankind is *sigh*


The Age of Miracles
The Age of Miracles
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 62
Review Date: 6/28/2014


This is one of the saddest books I've ever read and I became very emotional during the final bit. The last line made me burst into tears. What I felt was due in no way to the characters, but instead to humanity, which the author did an astounding job capturing. Human feelings and our entire existence is so fleeting in the grand scheme of things. I'm getting weepy just writing this.

The main character, Julia, is supposedly 11 at the time of The Slowing, when the Earth slows its axial rotation, bit by bit. She celebrates her 12th birthday during the course of the story. She acts and speaks like no other 11- or 12-year old on Earth. Had the author made her 15, turning 16, she would have been believable. This is the only problem I have with the book.

Ignoring for the most part how other countries dealt with The Slowing, this focused entirely on the United States, including its attempted solutions to the problem. But even government couldn't keep up with the rapid changes to the human body and its adaptation (or lack thereof). Also affected were animals, weather, the magnetic fieldeverything you think could be affected was, and in ways you wouldn't imagine.

I could deal with the angsty Julia and her blooming relationship with Seth because of the steady trickle of information she released during her narration.

I thought this novel would lighten my spirits, due to its title, but don't expect it to. You're not making the mark you think you are. For me, I feel nothing but anomie. Humankind is


The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream
Review Date: 9/9/2007
Helpful Score: 20


I found this book overly philosophical. Coelho sacrificed what could have been a good story by pushing an agenda of his own philosophy. Although yes, it was cute, and I was genuinely curious about whether or not Santiago would find his treasure, this is not good fiction. If you want to feel good and need inspiration, then this IS a good book for you -- and you'll read through it pretty quickly, too.


Alias Grace
Alias Grace
Author: Margaret Atwood
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 79
Review Date: 6/14/2007
Helpful Score: 17


Without the mesmerizing plot of _The Handmaid's Tale_, this novel is a bit more difficult to get into. However, once you're introduced to the character, see how she presents herself, and then hear of her heinous crime, you'll want to read more.

Atwood made me question the strategy of victimhood throughout this novel: If you *are* guilty, do you keep quiet and play the victim of wrong place/wrong time? If you're not, do you remain silent for the same reason?

I felt unsatisfied with the ending, but you'll have to read it to judge for yourself. After all, there is a whole lot of judging going on in this novel. Recommended for a literary novel fan with a strong stomach.


All Quiet on the Orient Express
All Quiet on the Orient Express
Author: Magnus Mills
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 7
Review Date: 8/21/2011
Helpful Score: 1


Just as in his first novel, "The Restraint of Beasts," Magnus Mills creates an unnamed, stoic protagonist of little words. I enjoyed this book very much. The main character's hapless adventures and unlikely falling into a series of jobs and bosses and debts and such, all in a vacation spot in which he was camping, seemed almost normal.

What a strange little town this was, with debts and tabs being accrued and never paid (until the end), a man wearing a crown, a multitude of green paint, and a milkman who meets with an awful fate (but at least escapes driving the ice cream truck to make milk deliveries). Who knew such a town had so much work to do and so little women?

One of my favorite parts was the main character's "social punishment" for not showing up for a darts game, for which he was banished to drink at the pub across the street for two weeks until tempers had cooled.

The ending, as the one in Mills' first novel, left a lot to be resolved, but he seemed to care about the ending as much as his character cared about his life's direction; however, the symbolic ending fit perfectly with the theme of the novel.


All Saints
All Saints
Author: Liam Callanan
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.9/5 Stars.
 4
Review Date: 6/23/2007
Helpful Score: 14


Absolutely hauntingly written, with many, complex religious ideas. Reading this was like being the first car in a train; I watched other cars (ideas, characters) added on, one by one, each different and strange, but slowly growing used to them. At one point, I looked back and saw an insane mess and realized the train was about to crash. And it does - no one in this book remains untouched by the emotions and actions of another person. Recommended for lovers of complex ethical and love entanglement stories.


American Nerd: The Story of My People
American Nerd: The Story of My People
Author: Benjamin Nugent
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.7/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 7/19/2011
Helpful Score: 1


I had high hopes for this one, personally identifying so closely with the titular group of people. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. Nugent definitely has a sense of humor to name the chapters what he does and label the afterword "My Credentials." This humor doesn't translate well in his prose; it's simply unengaging and a little dry. It would seem that discussing the culture of nerddom would include lots of nerdy phrases and over-the-top explanations about obscure objects depicted by the said nerd in a way that is too technical and deconstructionist. I expected "nerd humor." The lack of Star Trek references put me off, too; those folks (of which I am one) are the quintessential nerds.

Nugent doesn't delve deep enough into what being a nerd means. He offers a decent definition at the beginning of the book (scientific vs. intuitive/feeling) but abandons it as he discusses l33tspeak, D&D (far too much writing about that, btw), W of W, and SCA (that chapter was pretty interesting, actually).

I wanted more from this book. A good description of it is: "An adolescent male growing up in a segmented group of boys gets obsessed with D&D and plays the game too often."


American Red Cross Community First Aid and Safety
American Red Cross Community First Aid and Safety
Author: American Red Cross
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 13
Review Date: 5/18/2013


This helpful book truly does cover every basic emergency situation you're going to (hopefully not) run into. Not only is it a good reference in a pinch, but reading or skimming it cover-to-cover will give you a good idea of the logic involved in making the split-second decisions that can possibly save a person's life.

You'll learn what to do for things as simple as cuts, scrapes, and burns to things more serious, such as snake bites and seizures.


And Then There Were None
And Then There Were None
Author: Agatha Christie
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 115
Review Date: 7/24/2007
Helpful Score: 10


This quick read is highly, highly enjoyable. I'm not a fan of British mystery, but this could change my mind. It plays out like a Friday the 13th film, but following a foreboding poem. You have a strange feeling that just like the poem, the characters will start to drop one by one, until none are left. For me, it was impossible to guess the culprit. Recommended for mystery lovers as an absolute classic.


Angels of Darkness: Tales of Troubled and Troubling Women
Angels of Darkness: Tales of Troubled and Troubling Women
Author: Marvin Kaye (Editor)
Book Type: Unknown Binding
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/17/2012


I'd picked this up from a library book sale thirteen years ago and only recently got around to reading it. I wish I'd done it earlier. This collection of stories was far more entertaining than I'd originally suspected. Usually, there are far more inferior stories than ones that stand out. This one was quite the opposite; I enjoyed nearly every one. The true stand-outs in my mind were:

Game for Motel Room - a clever story of an extra-terrestrial/human tryst.

Snow - Chilling (pun intended)

The Were-wolf - beautifully written and one of the best werewolf stories I've read

The River Styx Runs Upstream - great take on zombies who really aren't zombies

The Visit - hilariously irreverent

Love Song From the Stars - a strong feminist story that left me with a smirk

Untitled - pretty sexually explicit and unique

The Other Mother - this one kept me from sleeping and prompted the rule that I can't read horror before bed anymore

Propagation of the Faith - hardcore child S&M (but okay to read)


Animal Farm
Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 1183
Review Date: 4/3/2007
Helpful Score: 4


An excellent comment on human and political relations. Quick read, too!


Anthem
Anthem
Author: Ayn Rand
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 34
Review Date: 5/16/2007
Helpful Score: 16


An extremely quick read that's a bit difficult to get into, initially, because of pronoun use. It's completely understood by the end, though, and serves to emphasize the point of the book. However, if you're familiar at all with Rand, you probably know what she's getting at before you read it.

This is perfect introductory book for anyone interested in Rand who has not yet worked up the courage to tackle _The Fountainhead_ or _Atlas Shrugged_.


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