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Loretta (LaCygne) - Reviews

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Bastard Out of Carolina
Bastard Out of Carolina
Author: Dorothy Allison
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 361
Review Date: 2/18/2010


This book is very compelling and captivating. Despite what is clearly painful subject matter (something I think everyone should take into consideration prior to reading, as I believe there might be some triggers for more sensitive readers), this book is quite a page turner.

The world-building is phenomenal. I've never been to Greenville County, South Carolina even in the present day, let alone in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Nonetheless, I feel intimately acquainted with the place now. Dorothy Allison does a beautiful job evoking the imagery of South Carolina at this time.

The characterizations are rich and complex, with each character coming with his or her own personal and family history. Motivations for actions are subtle but apparent.

The language throughout has a lyrical feel, and carries the reader along the journey at a fast pace.

Dorothy Allison is self-avowedly feminist, and I'd call this a feminist piece of fiction. That being said, there is nothing about this work that is preachy (which would not bother me, but might bother some other folks). Allison raises many questions of morality and provides some possible answers to those questions, but never says what is "right," allowing the reader to form his or her own conclusions.

I'm definitely glad that I read this.


Certain Girls (Cannie Shapiro, Bk 2)
Certain Girls (Cannie Shapiro, Bk 2)
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 371
Review Date: 12/21/2009


Devoured this over a snowy three day weekend. A quick, entertaining read, with much heavier subject matter than you'd expect. Jennifer Weiner just has a gift with writing about the relationships between female family members.


The Color Purple
The Color Purple
Author: Alice Walker
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 177
Review Date: 2/22/2010


Stunning. I could not put this book down, and ended up reading the entire thing in 6 hours over the course of two days.

This is especially noteworthy because I'd seen the movie a couple times and, while I thought it was fairly good, I didn't love it. Nonetheless, the book and movie can't even compare. The movie dropped several plot points, and increased the sappiness factor exponentially. The book, on the other hand, is moving without being at all sappy--rather it's filled with emotional truth and humor.

Walker is a masterful author. I'd encourage anyone (especially any woman) to read this.


Get Into Law School : A Strategic Approach, Second Edition (Get Into Law School)
Review Date: 2/23/2010


Honestly, I applied to law school over 4 years ago, so I don't much remember the details of this book.

That being said, I remember finding it helpful and clear, and I did get into a law school I was happy with, so I guess that's all the review this book needs?


Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl, Bk 1)
Gossip Girl (Gossip Girl, Bk 1)
Author: Cecily Von Ziegesar
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 280
Review Date: 11/15/2009


I'm sure these books are interesting to people of all ages from all areas, but I have to say those of us who went to high school in Manhattan (even to *gasp* public high schools) probably enjoy this series the most. Love the description/comparison of those who live on the Upper East Side v. the Upper West.


In Her Shoes
In Her Shoes
Author: Jennifer Weiner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 1116
Review Date: 9/27/2009


Great exploration of female familial relationships. The resolution occurs a little too quickly at the ending, but otherwise Weiner seems very willing to show the messy side of sisterly and motherly love.


A Matter of Interpretation
A Matter of Interpretation
Author: Antonin Scalia
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 2/18/2010


Even if you don't agree with Scalia's interpretation of the Constitution, this is a very interesting read. He presents his argument methodically and with humor (and a fair amount of sarcasm). Written in a style that is both more accessible and more fluid than most academic texts.

3.5/5.0 stars.


Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites : Flavorful Recipes for Healthful Meals
Review Date: 5/4/2010
Helpful Score: 1


Absolutely delicious, healthy recipes.

Warning though: the recipes in this book tend to be pretty complicated, so I wouldn't work with this cookbook unless you had a fair amount of time to prepare meals. I tend to cook from this on the weekends, and go with something simpler for during the week.

5.0/5.0 stars.


Notes from Underground (Vintage Classics)
Review Date: 4/16/2010


Despite being rather short, this little novella took me a while to get into. It is broken into two parts--the first part consisting of the unnamed protagonist's thoughts on life and humanity, and the (much longer) second part consisting of a brief episode from the protagonist's life.

While I recognized that there were many pearls of wisdom in Part I, the lack of plot in that section made the reading a bit slow-going. Nonetheless, once I got to Part II, I found myself truly intrigued by the story, which illustrated through plot some of the thoughts of Part I. In the end, I found myself completely captivated by the character of the protagonist, though I'm still not sure I've "figured him out" yet. I view this as a strength of the novel, as I'm sure I'll continue to ponder it for some time, and probably reread it in the future.

This was a good introduction to Dostoevsky (whose work I had not read before), and made me interested in reading more of his novels.

4.0/5.0 stars.


Of Two Minds: An Anthroplogist Looks at American Psychiatry
Of Two Minds: An Anthroplogist Looks at American Psychiatry
Author: T. M. Luhrmann
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 2/18/2010


Insightful look into the culture of medical training in the United States.


Portnoy's Complaint
Portnoy's Complaint
Author: Philip Roth
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 57
Review Date: 1/24/2010
Helpful Score: 1


Completely obscene and uproariously funny.

There's not really much of a plot--just a man telling the story of his life in a monologue to his therapist. As a result, the narrative structure jumps around a lot, much the way the human mind works. One memory brings to mind another memory from years earlier or years later, and then you circle back once again to what you were talking about before.

Highly recommended.


The Sandman: Endless Nights
The Sandman: Endless Nights
Author: Neil Gaiman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 27
Review Date: 4/27/2010


One tale for each of the Endless that we came to know and love in the earlier "Sandman" 10 volume series. As I'm sure everyone who is even considering reading this knows, Gaiman is a master of the genre, and his work here does not disappoint.

4.5/5.0 stars.


Selected Poems
Selected Poems
Author: Gwendolyn Brooks
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 5/15/2010
Helpful Score: 1


These poems are heart-achingly beautiful. I'll admit that I don't "get" a lot of poetry, but Brooks' work transports me on every type of emotional journey.

5.0/5.0 stars.


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
Author: Betty Smith
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 253
Review Date: 1/2/2010
Helpful Score: 2


A common complaint for this book seems to be that not much happens in it. And, while to a certain extent this is true--this certainly isn't an edge of your seat thriller--it is also true that this is a tale in which everything happens.

What you'll find in the pages of this book is the tale of one little girl turning into a woman, and one small, mystical town turning into a city.

This is the story of Francie Nolan, and of her extended family, as they live in poverty at the beginning of the 20th century in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It is both a character study and a study of a Brooklyn that no longer exists. It is a story of life--children are born, people die, marriages begin and end. Thrillingly good things happen, and horrifyingly bad things happen. And through it all, the author's voice is filled with humor and awe at the beauty the world holds.

So yes, "not much happens," but I found the tale gripping and had a lot of difficulty putting it down. I made it through the near-500 pages in about 6 days. I highly recommend.


The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1
The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 1
Author: Robert Kirkman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
 29
Review Date: 11/6/2010
Helpful Score: 1


A grim look at what happens when a small group of survivors have to face a world filled with unrelenting horrors. Exactly what a graphic novel should be: filled with complex characters populating a well-conceived and realistic (for the premise) world. And not only is it well plotted, but the art adds greatly to the sense of urgency and despair, as it should.

I can't wait to keep reading.


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