Heather D. (icantswim) - - Reviews

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America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't
Author: Stephen Colbert
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 18
Review Date: 4/30/2015


I listened to this as an audio book and it's no wonder he won a Grammy for it. Very funny and lively with several different character voices.


The Angel's Game (Cemetery of Forgotten Books, Bk 2)
Review Date: 7/4/2011
Helpful Score: 1


It's books like this that remind me why I love books.


Beach Music
Beach Music
Author: Pat Conroy
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 309
Review Date: 4/26/2009


I have read all of Pat Conroy's works. He is one of my all time favorites. Beach Music is fairly long but well worth the time.


The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
Author: Dinaw Mengestu
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 33
Review Date: 3/15/2015


This book had poignant moments, but overall was not a poignant book. A better choice, along somewhat of the same lines but nonfiction, is Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder.


Bel Canto
Bel Canto
Author: Ann Patchett
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 276
Review Date: 4/24/2015


I love books where the characters' storylines intertwine in unforeseen ways. This is a book that will stay with you long after the last page.


Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World
Author: Michael Lewis
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 15
Review Date: 2/21/2012


This book was very well done. The author took a large scope of information, from various nations, and compiled it into a concise, easy-to-read, and often funny book. This is a finance book for those who aren't looking for a numeric answer of what's happening in the economy, but rather an explanation in stories as to how the world is being financially affected by the crisis. Full of anecdotes and interviews that reveal the human side of the crisis. This book looks at what happened to cause the financial problems facing Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and the US.


Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas
Author: David Mitchell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 173
Review Date: 12/13/2011
Helpful Score: 11


This book is divided by character; five specific characters spread over a time line of past eras, the present era, and future eras. The stories move forward from past to future and then reverse to revisit the same characters in opposite order. This book is a project. I read it, and read it, and kept reading it. Finally, I finished, and I was happy I finished all the way through - More though for the accomplishment of it rather than the story itself. I would have hated to have invested so many hours only to put it down half way through. I was only tempted to stop though due to the daunting length, and slow pace; not due to the stories.

There were very profound moments along the way. I especially enjoyed the story lines that are set in the future as they make the reader reflect back on our actions of today and how they will impact the future.

I think this is a book that will loved by some and unloved by some. As for me, I am undecided, borderline indifferent. My best recommendation is to read it for yourself and see. There is something for everyone. Is it worth the while it takes to accomplish this massive project? That is questionable.


The Clouds Beneath the Sun: A Novel
The Clouds Beneath the Sun: A Novel
Author: Mackenzie Ford
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/8/2015


Mackenzie Ford is the pen name of Peter Watson. As Ford, he's written two books as of now. This is the second. The other is Gifts of War. His writing style is excellent and the story lines portray very real life complications and real emotions. The only downside is the ending doesn't wrap up, it just ends. This is the case with both books; however, Clouds Beneath the Sun includes a very brief epilogue for those of us who just want to know what came of the main characters later in life. Some might find the ending a bit harsh, but I appreciated it for just this reason. I am glad I read it. It's one you can't help but think about days afterward. I will continue to read future Ford books if there are any.


Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, Bk 1)
Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, Bk 1)
Author: Elizabeth Wein
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 6/19/2015


I really wanted to like this book, I mean I REALLY WANTED TO LIKE IT! I didn't even wait for it to come up on my WL, instead I bought it. I was so excited. And therein, I think, lies the problem. My expectations were too high. Sigh. Anyway, it didn't hit the mark with me (although I generally tend to be unimpressed by all young adult books, so I'm not the target audience here). In any case, it had its ups and downs, and I rate it middle of the road on overall impact.


Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage
Author: Elizabeth Gilbert
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
 123
Review Date: 7/10/2012


This book speaks my language. I love this author. I especially loved the chapter dedicated to women who know they will not have children, for any various reason, and she named them the Auntie Brigade. I learned from this book a lot on the history of marriage in society. There is strength in knowing who you are and having the conviction to live the life that's right by you.


A Discovery of Witches (All Souls, Bk 1)
A Discovery of Witches (All Souls, Bk 1)
Author: Deborah Harkness
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 250
Review Date: 7/10/2012


I started listening to this on audio on a long car trip. I picked up reading it in the middle for about 150 pages but found I liked the audio much better, so I finished it by listening. I liked it, but often I found myself feeling I'd read this before. It's a very solid mix of Harry Potter and Twilight. The Harry Potter-type plot I enjoyed - the old manuscript, the ancient alchemy, etc. The Twilight-type plot not so much - the vampire and girl forbidden relationship aspect. If you liked both HP and Twilight, you'd like this. Or, if you've never read either, then this will be all new to you.


The Dog Stars
The Dog Stars
Author: Peter Heller
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 9/7/2018


This story is slow and subtle, but rich and well-developed. I just finished it and I already know that I will miss the main character and the stories of his experience.


An Ember in the Ashes (Ember in the Ashes, Bk 1)
An Ember in the Ashes (Ember in the Ashes, Bk 1)
Author: Sabaa Tahir
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 17
Review Date: 4/3/2016


I enjoyed this fast-paced book. The ending was strong, but definitely demands a sequel, which is coming out later this year. This is meant for a YA audience, and while I was reading it, I couldn't help but notice SEVERAL elements reminiscent of other popular YA stories: Harry Potter's Goblet of Fire, Divergent, and Hunger Games. Some reviews have compared it to Game of Thrones, and while I can see how the fantasy elements combined with a ruling empire might bring GoT to mind, this book is no where near the sophistication in the depth of plot or the writing (but that's probably due to the intended YA audience).

In any case, I do think it to be an enjoyable read. It's not a life changer, but it has likable characters and even though the story isn't unique (and it could even be deemed trite), it is interesting. I will add that I wish the main female character had been stronger, as she is timid and gullible for most of this book, but I do see how she will probably be stronger in the second book.

I do think it has a good bit of violence, but it's nothing worse than Hunger Games. One other thought if you're trying to gauge this book appropriate for a young adult, the story does mention rape a lot but it never occurs as part of the story (meaning no one gets raped nor is it described, but it is threatened or is a close call on more than a few occasions).


The Far Field
The Far Field
Author: Madhuri Vijay
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 2/28/2019


This book is long, but it didn't feel long. There were times when I was surprised how fast I was moving through it.

I finished this book last night. It made me think. I fell asleep thinking about this book and this morning I am still thinking about this book. I was very surprised by how it all turned out in the end. I would recommend it.


Far North
Far North
Author: Marcel Theroux
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 7/5/2015


Excellent. I love this story and this author. I highly recommend this book.


Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship
Review Date: 6/19/2015


This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. A very personal account of a man and a little dog. The subtitle says it all with the phrase an extraordinary friendship. I almost didn't write a review because I feel I just cannot do this book justice, but to forgo a review would be a shame. Please, just do yourself a favor, and read this book.


The Forgotten Garden
The Forgotten Garden
Author: Kate Morton
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 494
Review Date: 4/8/2012


I liked this book and am glad I read it. The setting was beautiful. Likable, relatable characters. A good mystery that wrapped up nicely by the end.


Gifts of War
Gifts of War
Author: Mackenzie Ford
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/8/2015


Mackenzie Ford is the pen name of Peter Watson. As Ford, he's written two books as of now. This is the first. The other is Clouds Beneath the Sun. His writing style is excellent and the story lines portray very real life complications and real emotions. The only downside is the ending doesn't wrap up, it just ends. This is the case with both books; however, Clouds Beneath the Sun includes a very brief epilogue for those of us who just want to know what came of the main characters later in life. Even with the "create your ending" ending of this book, I thoroughly liked it and am glad I read it. It's one you can't help but think about days afterward. I will continue to read future Ford books if there are any.


Girl in Translation
Girl in Translation
Author: Jean Kwok
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 83
Review Date: 4/24/2015


I loved this story. It follows the life of a young girl as she travels to America from Hong Kong with her mother, and all the way through to adulthood.


Heads of the Colored People: Stories
Heads of the Colored People: Stories
Author: Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 11/2/2018


Wow! Now this is a collection of stories. I had not heard of this book until it was long-listed for the 2018 National Book Award. One of my favorite book reviewers said it was his favorite from the long list, so I simply had to read it immediately.

I was not disappointed! If you like snapshot-like glimpses into the lives of everyday people - being who they are, doing what they do - then this book is for you. These are satirical stories that highlight how we are all facing challenge in this life. These stories are all unique and sometimes truly absurd/cautionary tales. This book is both funny and poignant.

In this collection we meet (to name a few):

A woman dealing with anger management and her trip to the DMV
A woman confronting fertility-related medical complications
A teenager who is really into anime and his trip to a Comic-Love convention
A reality show producer who wants to produce better work but keeps getting sucked into doing reality TV
Two teenage girls navigating friendship in high school
Two passive aggressive mothers who write letters to each other proclaiming the angel-like qualities of their own daughter compared to the mean and anti-social qualities of the other's daughter - we meet these daughters again in later stories
A woman who is a "fruitarian" - she and her family only eat fruit
A young woman who wants to commit suicide so she can get more attention on social media

This will absolutely be one of the best books I read this year and I will not soon forget these stories and the spotlight they cast on our society.


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