Posts tagged with kindle:

What I’ve Read:
Submergence by J. M. Ledgard - Both books I’m reviewing in this post are sensory treats, but this is the darker of the two. Submergence is about James More, an English spy who is captured by Somalia-based jihadists in the opening of the book. The rest of the tale—mainly about his love affair with an oceanographer he meets a hotel just before the Somalia trip—is explored in flashbacks, while their present stories are told in parallel through the end of the book. Danielle, the oceanographer, is unaware that James has been kidnapped, and is simply working and preparing for a research expedition to study deep-sea vents. (“Into the abyss” is a heavy-handed metaphor, but it works here.) The book goes back and forth between mostly straightforward prose (describing characters, conversations, happenings) and almost poetic philosophical “shorts” that become the thread tying all of it together. It was a beautiful, sad, thought-provoking book to read. Not a light read, but I’ve had enough of those lately. 
Alena by Rachel Pastan - I heard about this book and another (reviewed here) in an NPR interview and I’m so glad I read it. It’s a modern retelling of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and manages to capture some of the original intrigue from that book while re-imagining the setting and characters in exciting, new ways. We never learn the name of our protagonist, but we do know she met the owner of a Cape Cod-based art museum in Venice while attending an art festival and after spending some time with him there, accepted his offer to become the new curator of his museum. The former curator—Alena—disappeared mysteriously, but is assumed to have been swept out to sea during one of her regular nighttime ocean swims. Relatively inexperienced, the protagonist stumbles into the prestigious job with insecurities about her creative vision, made worse by the fact that the ghost of Alena haunts her incessantly. Alena’s office. Alena’s brilliance. Her beauty, confidence, worldliness. Everything about the museum is Alena and she struggles to find her place, while also navigating the relationship with her strangely distant new boss, the friendly town sheriff and the Alena-obsessed museum employees she now manages. The descriptions of contemporary art are reason enough to read this. The artwork is brought to life so realistically that it seemed I was actually looking at them. The Cape Cod setting is another highlight. The ocean plays a huge role in the book and the stormy, windy, unpredictable shoreline could almost be a separate character. There is a major difference between Alena and Rebecca (that I won’t spoil for you) and it recast the story and the relationships between the characters differently, but not in an unsatisfying way. I liked the modern spin, really enjoyed the book and found the last few pages especially good. 
I’m reading Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnston now but am prowling for a new book for when I’m done with it. Any suggestions?

What I’ve Read:

  • Submergence by J. M. Ledgard - Both books I’m reviewing in this post are sensory treats, but this is the darker of the two. Submergence is about James More, an English spy who is captured by Somalia-based jihadists in the opening of the book. The rest of the tale—mainly about his love affair with an oceanographer he meets a hotel just before the Somalia trip—is explored in flashbacks, while their present stories are told in parallel through the end of the book. Danielle, the oceanographer, is unaware that James has been kidnapped, and is simply working and preparing for a research expedition to study deep-sea vents. (“Into the abyss” is a heavy-handed metaphor, but it works here.) The book goes back and forth between mostly straightforward prose (describing characters, conversations, happenings) and almost poetic philosophical “shorts” that become the thread tying all of it together. It was a beautiful, sad, thought-provoking book to read. Not a light read, but I’ve had enough of those lately. 
  • Alena by Rachel Pastan - I heard about this book and another (reviewed here) in an NPR interview and I’m so glad I read it. It’s a modern retelling of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and manages to capture some of the original intrigue from that book while re-imagining the setting and characters in exciting, new ways. We never learn the name of our protagonist, but we do know she met the owner of a Cape Cod-based art museum in Venice while attending an art festival and after spending some time with him there, accepted his offer to become the new curator of his museum. The former curator—Alena—disappeared mysteriously, but is assumed to have been swept out to sea during one of her regular nighttime ocean swims. Relatively inexperienced, the protagonist stumbles into the prestigious job with insecurities about her creative vision, made worse by the fact that the ghost of Alena haunts her incessantly. Alena’s office. Alena’s brilliance. Her beauty, confidence, worldliness. Everything about the museum is Alena and she struggles to find her place, while also navigating the relationship with her strangely distant new boss, the friendly town sheriff and the Alena-obsessed museum employees she now manages. The descriptions of contemporary art are reason enough to read this. The artwork is brought to life so realistically that it seemed I was actually looking at them. The Cape Cod setting is another highlight. The ocean plays a huge role in the book and the stormy, windy, unpredictable shoreline could almost be a separate character. There is a major difference between Alena and Rebecca (that I won’t spoil for you) and it recast the story and the relationships between the characters differently, but not in an unsatisfying way. I liked the modern spin, really enjoyed the book and found the last few pages especially good. 

I’m reading Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnston now but am prowling for a new book for when I’m done with it. Any suggestions?

  • k 34 notes
What I’ve Read: The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol 
I heard the most charming review of this book (and another that I’m reading right now: Alena by Rachel Pastan) on NPR. I bought it as soon as I got my hands on my Kindle.
I wasn’t as charmed by the book as I was by the review, but it turned out to be the kind of light, palette-cleansing book that was exactly what I needed this week. 
The book was written in French and translated to English by two people and that (in hindsight) makes a lot of sense. The book can feel abruptly disjointed. Almost like two separate people translated it! -_____- Anyway, sometimes the prose flows well and other times it’s painfully obvious that French colloquialisms have been awkwardly transformed into English ones. Luckily I found this more of an annoyance than an actual distraction from the engaging story and characters. 
The book is about Josephine, a suburban Paris mom whose unemployed husband runs off to Kenya with his mistress to start a crocodile farm. To make matters worse, Josephine’s job as a researcher of 12th century France isn’t quite enough to pay the bills after her ex-husband takes out a loan in her name to get the crocodile farm underway. Left in financial straits (with a teenage and pre-teen daughter begging for new clothes and computers), she agrees to her wealthy/bored sister’s plan to ghostwrite a 12th century chick lit novel while her sister pretends to be the author and handles the promotion and interviews. Affairs, secrets and general mayhem ensues. (Of course.) 
Long story short? The book wasn’t perfect but it was fun. And fun is just right sometimes. 

What I’ve Read: The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles by Katherine Pancol 

I heard the most charming review of this book (and another that I’m reading right now: Alena by Rachel Pastan) on NPR. I bought it as soon as I got my hands on my Kindle.

I wasn’t as charmed by the book as I was by the review, but it turned out to be the kind of light, palette-cleansing book that was exactly what I needed this week. 

The book was written in French and translated to English by two people and that (in hindsight) makes a lot of sense. The book can feel abruptly disjointed. Almost like two separate people translated it! -_____- Anyway, sometimes the prose flows well and other times it’s painfully obvious that French colloquialisms have been awkwardly transformed into English ones. Luckily I found this more of an annoyance than an actual distraction from the engaging story and characters. 

The book is about Josephine, a suburban Paris mom whose unemployed husband runs off to Kenya with his mistress to start a crocodile farm. To make matters worse, Josephine’s job as a researcher of 12th century France isn’t quite enough to pay the bills after her ex-husband takes out a loan in her name to get the crocodile farm underway. Left in financial straits (with a teenage and pre-teen daughter begging for new clothes and computers), she agrees to her wealthy/bored sister’s plan to ghostwrite a 12th century chick lit novel while her sister pretends to be the author and handles the promotion and interviews. Affairs, secrets and general mayhem ensues. (Of course.) 

Long story short? The book wasn’t perfect but it was fun. And fun is just right sometimes. 

  • k 8 notes
What I’ve Read
I’m way behind on reviews and couldn’t wait to share a few of these. 
The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg - I’ve given her books mediocre reviews before but this one—a continuation in her series about detective Patrik Hedstrom—is her best I’ve read yet. It was nuanced, thrilling and even though I figured out the BIG TWIST before the book revealed it, it didn’t feel like a letdown. 
Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson - I’ve had this on my Kindle forever but finally got around to reading it after we saw the movie. (I know, I know.) Regarding the book itself, I was pleased that Robinson made a genuine effort to capture Luttrell’s unique voice. Instead of organizing the story into more of a standard ghost-written “clean” form, it’s obvious that Luttrell’s telling of the story was conveyed pretty accurately onto the page. The content of book is, of course, immensely sad and powerful. The first part of the book is fascinating too—detailing Luttrell’s military background and SEAL training. 
Eat and Run by Scott Jurek - Ultramarathons. What fresh fuckery are these? I used to run (no longer!) but never at very long distances and it made me tired just reading about this guy running 150 miles and WINNING. His accomplishments seem almost super-human, but the book is incredibly down-to-earth and even includes his favorite recipes and various running/cross-training tips. I sometimes think about this book at the gym because no matter how much I’m sweating, at least I’m not voluntarily running a 150 mile race in Death Valley. 
The Best American Crime Reporting (2008) compiled by Jonathan Kellerman - I bought this on the Kindle during a daily deal promotion or something and I’m going to read the other collections as soon as possible. I don’t know how I haven’t gotten my paws on these before (RIGHT IN MY WHEELHOUSE), but the shorter articles included are perfect for fitting in right before I pass out asleep at night. The content is varied and it’s all interesting, but I liked two articles especially. One was about Charles Cullen (the subject of this book I reviewed last year) and the other was about Chinese military murdering Tibetan refugees in sight of climbers at the base of Cho Oyu. Pretty haunting. 
Remote by Jason Fried and David Hansson - If you work remotely or want to work remotely, this book is a must-read. It’s short, concise and fascinating. I expected it to include more strategy about the implementation or mechanics of remote working, but it focuses more deeply on why remote employees make sense and why employers need to take a closer look at the advantages of remote work. I wish there had been more of the former, but it was still worth the read. This is a subject that I think will see a lot more attention paid to it over the next 5-10 years and I enjoyed this as an opening act to what will likely become a pretty heated, ongoing conversation in the nonfiction book world about work flexibility and remote employees. As a side note, it’s written by the two founders of 37signals—I use their products for my work—and I liked hearing their philosophies in the context of how Basecamp, etc., make my job so much easier. 
Rustication by Charles Palliser - This is a contender for one of my top books of the year already but we’ve got a long way to go. Rustication really confounded me. I loved it, then hated it, then REALLY LOVED HATING IT then just plain loved it when it completely fooled me in the end. Rustication refers to the archaic term for being suspended from school for doing something naughty. In this case, our quite unlikable little protagonist Richard Shenstone is sent home from his school for reasons not quite explained but may have something to do with his opium addiction. He arrives at his family’s large but shabby and creepy home to find things looking a little suspicious—then VERY suspicious. He doesn’t know who he can trust and rumors and bloody happenings in his small town up the spook factor with each page. It’s the anti-Downton Abbey mixed with a little bit of the recent movie The Woman in Black and it pulled me ALL the way in. One more thing: The plot twists are pretty insane and I admit that they caught me completely by surprise. I love that. 
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed - What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? Not much, probably. I bought this book a long time ago and didn’t touch it. I wasn’t ready to read it because, by all accounts, it would turn me into a quivering emotional mess and yes, that is accurate. It did. But it’s worth the emotional breakdown because in the end, I did feel like I was seeing things with a new compassionate clarity that was missing almost entirely before. If you’re looking for something to do tonight, I can think of no better book to start on Valentine’s Day than this. Not because it’s romantic or sweet or any of those treacly Valentine’s Day things. No—you should read it because it’s about loving yourself, choosing your truth and discovering that even the most unthinkable things or the most grievous mistakes don’t have to just be an ending. They can be a beginning too. 
What are you guys reading these days?

What I’ve Read

I’m way behind on reviews and couldn’t wait to share a few of these. 

  • The Stonecutter by Camilla Lackberg - I’ve given her books mediocre reviews before but this one—a continuation in her series about detective Patrik Hedstrom—is her best I’ve read yet. It was nuanced, thrilling and even though I figured out the BIG TWIST before the book revealed it, it didn’t feel like a letdown. 
  • Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson - I’ve had this on my Kindle forever but finally got around to reading it after we saw the movie. (I know, I know.) Regarding the book itself, I was pleased that Robinson made a genuine effort to capture Luttrell’s unique voice. Instead of organizing the story into more of a standard ghost-written “clean” form, it’s obvious that Luttrell’s telling of the story was conveyed pretty accurately onto the page. The content of book is, of course, immensely sad and powerful. The first part of the book is fascinating too—detailing Luttrell’s military background and SEAL training. 
  • Eat and Run by Scott Jurek - Ultramarathons. What fresh fuckery are these? I used to run (no longer!) but never at very long distances and it made me tired just reading about this guy running 150 miles and WINNING. His accomplishments seem almost super-human, but the book is incredibly down-to-earth and even includes his favorite recipes and various running/cross-training tips. I sometimes think about this book at the gym because no matter how much I’m sweating, at least I’m not voluntarily running a 150 mile race in Death Valley. 
  • The Best American Crime Reporting (2008) compiled by Jonathan Kellerman - I bought this on the Kindle during a daily deal promotion or something and I’m going to read the other collections as soon as possible. I don’t know how I haven’t gotten my paws on these before (RIGHT IN MY WHEELHOUSE), but the shorter articles included are perfect for fitting in right before I pass out asleep at night. The content is varied and it’s all interesting, but I liked two articles especially. One was about Charles Cullen (the subject of this book I reviewed last year) and the other was about Chinese military murdering Tibetan refugees in sight of climbers at the base of Cho Oyu. Pretty haunting. 
  • Remote by Jason Fried and David Hansson - If you work remotely or want to work remotely, this book is a must-read. It’s short, concise and fascinating. I expected it to include more strategy about the implementation or mechanics of remote working, but it focuses more deeply on why remote employees make sense and why employers need to take a closer look at the advantages of remote work. I wish there had been more of the former, but it was still worth the read. This is a subject that I think will see a lot more attention paid to it over the next 5-10 years and I enjoyed this as an opening act to what will likely become a pretty heated, ongoing conversation in the nonfiction book world about work flexibility and remote employees. As a side note, it’s written by the two founders of 37signals—I use their products for my work—and I liked hearing their philosophies in the context of how Basecamp, etc., make my job so much easier. 
  • Rustication by Charles Palliser - This is a contender for one of my top books of the year already but we’ve got a long way to go. Rustication really confounded me. I loved it, then hated it, then REALLY LOVED HATING IT then just plain loved it when it completely fooled me in the end. Rustication refers to the archaic term for being suspended from school for doing something naughty. In this case, our quite unlikable little protagonist Richard Shenstone is sent home from his school for reasons not quite explained but may have something to do with his opium addiction. He arrives at his family’s large but shabby and creepy home to find things looking a little suspicious—then VERY suspicious. He doesn’t know who he can trust and rumors and bloody happenings in his small town up the spook factor with each page. It’s the anti-Downton Abbey mixed with a little bit of the recent movie The Woman in Black and it pulled me ALL the way in. One more thing: The plot twists are pretty insane and I admit that they caught me completely by surprise. I love that. 
  • Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed - What can I say about this that hasn’t already been said? Not much, probably. I bought this book a long time ago and didn’t touch it. I wasn’t ready to read it because, by all accounts, it would turn me into a quivering emotional mess and yes, that is accurate. It did. But it’s worth the emotional breakdown because in the end, I did feel like I was seeing things with a new compassionate clarity that was missing almost entirely before. If you’re looking for something to do tonight, I can think of no better book to start on Valentine’s Day than this. Not because it’s romantic or sweet or any of those treacly Valentine’s Day things. No—you should read it because it’s about loving yourself, choosing your truth and discovering that even the most unthinkable things or the most grievous mistakes don’t have to just be an ending. They can be a beginning too. 

What are you guys reading these days?

  • k 26 notes

I'm embarrassed to admit I have never read any Stephen King. Which book do you think is best to start with?

- Asked by takenbythesky

I love this question! 

My first Stephen King was The Stand so I’m partial to it as a starting point. It’s amazing and suspenseful enough to really get you hooked on his writing. Beware though: It’s really long. (A lot of his books are really long. Settle in!) 

A lot of purists believe in reading his books by publication date, but that’s a hell of a lot of books and a really daunting list. The reasons for doing so are valid though: There are a lot of overlapping locations, characters and easter eggs you’ll start to pick up on if you do it this way. Of course, some books are overtly connected (The Dark Tower series or books with sequels). 

Anyway, once you’ve read The Stand, read Carrie. Normally I’d recommend The Shining after Carrie, but hold off for a little bit. Instead read The Dead Zone. (The Dead Zone is another one of my favorites.) Salem’s Lot would be another good one to read here. Then Cujo. Pet Sematary after Cujo. 

And now you’re ready for It. (Although I don’t think anyone is ever fully ready for It.) 

Once you’ve recovered, you’ll need a palette cleanser. Time for The Green Mile

If you like dystopian-type stuff, The Long Walk and The Running Man are shorter, intense reads that would be good to sneak in at this point. 

Okay—now haul out The Shining. Once you’re done that, read Doctor Sleep

At this point, you’ll have read enough of his books to really appreciate the genius detail, plotting and characterization of 11/22/63, the book that I will name as my favorite King if I’m pushed to choose only one. 

I have to mention the Dark Tower series before I go because it is a vitally important part of his body of work, but you may want to hold off on reading them until you have finished many of his other books. It’s King at his most dense and metaphorical—best enjoyed once you have some of his other stories under your belt. 

Do you have any suggestions?

  • k 40 notes

Best and Worst Books I Read in 2013

image

I didn’t expect to read many books this year. There was no particular reason for this outlook—just a general feeling I had last January. I was a little pessimistic. I set a goal of 50. And then I surprised myself! I read over 70. Some were Kindle Singles (is that cheating?), but I included them anyway. 

This turned out to be a good year for reading. I had multiple moments where I thought I would never be able to top my last read and then the next book would blow me away. There are a few books that I know will go down as all-time, life-changing favorites for me.

2013 as a whole was not my favorite year, but I will look back fondly on the very excellent books  that came into my life in the past twelve months. 

The Best Books:

Best Fiction: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Best Nonfiction: Going Clear by Lawrence Wright

Best Memoir: Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Best Parenting Book: Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity by Andrew Solomon

Best Short Read: Murder in the Yoga Store by Peter Ross Range

And here are the rest:

Read Today

Read Later

Don’t Bother

To read my reviews of these books, follow me on Goodreads or click here. See the list for 2012 here and 2011 here

What are your best and worst books of the year?

  • k 121 notes
  • / print
I’m way behind on my reviews! Time to catch up. 
(P.S. I’m going to do my best of 2013 round up sometime this week so keep an eye out for that.) 
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King:
I was completely unprepared for this book. I knew it would be good (or at least subjectively good, I rarely dislike a King book), but it turned out to be the flat-out, can’t stop reading, don’t even bother trying kind of King book. The best kind. It’s a sequel to The Shining and I’ve read a few other reviews that said it would be good as a standalone read, but that’s basically horseshit. If you don’t want to read The Shining, at least watch the movie. At least do that. The context established from The Shining gives this sequel weight and importance and interest that I can’t imagine going without. The characterization was rich and detailed and the plot was fast-paced and relatively scary—though not keeps-you-up-at-night scary like some of his earlier books. (Nightmares about clowns: The Worst.) A few complaints: The ending wrapped up the conflict a little faster than I wanted it to and the villains—while creepy—weren’t terrifying. Still, you can’t miss this book. You really can’t. The fact that he wrote a sequel (a GREAT sequel) to a book over 30 years old is really remarkable. 
The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison
A lot of people really loved this book. I saw it on some Best of 2013 lists. I partially agree with the positive attention it has received since the characters are fleshed out more realistically than any others in the flashy new suspense-drama-novel genre that Gone Girl created. Seriously, the characterization is good. The two main characters—a devoted wife and a dickish husband—are expressed so well on the page that reading it almost felt like watching a movie. I could see their expressions, hear their tone of voice. It was really enjoyable. On the other hand, the plot was predictable as hell and I’m bored of the “how well do you really know your spouse?” books. (But I guess I wasn’t too bored because I kept an iron grip on my Kindle for the day or so that it took me to read it.) If you’ve got time to kill and an interest in the genre, it’s worth checking out. 
Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
Holy fucking shitballs. Reading this book is like stepping into alternate reality of crazy and I could not and would not step away. Insider or whistleblower nonfiction is one of my favorite things and it doesn’t get much more insidery than this. Wright interviewed dozens and dozens of former Scientologists that had once occupied prestigious positions within the church and the dish he spews as a result is PHENOMENAL. First of all, because I know this will be of huge interest to most people, he frankly eviscerates Scientologist celebrities. Especially Tom Cruise. But while the book is highly entertaining and the celebrity gossip is fulfilling on a very base level, I came away from reading this mostly terrified and sad for members of the Scientology community. I won’t reveal any tidbits or information—that’s why you should read the book!—but goddamn these people are fucking nutters. (And if they’re not nutters, they get taken advantage of by the ones that are.) This book was really eye-opening and scary and one of the best nonfiction things I read this year. 
The Sinking of the Bounty by Matthew Shaer 
This is a short little Kindle Single that I enjoyed. You probably remember the iconic image on the cover from the news. During hurricane Sandy, the HMS Bounty (a replica of the original ship), sank off the coast of North Carolina. This book tries to recreate events that led up to the sinking and then examines the potential reasons behind the captain’s decision to sail during the storm instead of remaining at port. It moves quickly and without much lingering on the emotions or the individual lives of the people at stake (which you may like or not like), but if you have a free hour or two, why not? 
The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg
I read Lackberg’s first book The Ice Princess back at the beginning of the year and I finally got around to the next book in the series. I have a huge soft spot for Swedish crime novels and really enjoyed my time reading The Preacher, but it is probably not everyone’s cup of tea. There were numerous grammatical problems in the Kindle text I read and the translation was spotty here and there. Additionally, Lackberg’s cast of characters and one huge family in particular had me wracking my brain to try and remember who they were. This is more problematic than it might have been because she has tendency to switch from one character and location to another without much of a discernible break in the text. This might be a Kindle formatting issue. Either way, it was annoying to read one paragraph and move on to the next only to realize that I had been teleported to a different time and place. These issues aside, I liked it. I didn’t fall head over heels and I don’t think she improved on the weaknesses of The Ice Princess, but I’m such a fan of the genre that I’m about to start the third book tonight. 
What are you all reading lately?

I’m way behind on my reviews! Time to catch up. 

(P.S. I’m going to do my best of 2013 round up sometime this week so keep an eye out for that.) 

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King:

I was completely unprepared for this book. I knew it would be good (or at least subjectively good, I rarely dislike a King book), but it turned out to be the flat-out, can’t stop reading, don’t even bother trying kind of King book. The best kind. It’s a sequel to The Shining and I’ve read a few other reviews that said it would be good as a standalone read, but that’s basically horseshit. If you don’t want to read The Shining, at least watch the movie. At least do that. The context established from The Shining gives this sequel weight and importance and interest that I can’t imagine going without. The characterization was rich and detailed and the plot was fast-paced and relatively scary—though not keeps-you-up-at-night scary like some of his earlier books. (Nightmares about clowns: The Worst.) A few complaints: The ending wrapped up the conflict a little faster than I wanted it to and the villains—while creepy—weren’t terrifying. Still, you can’t miss this book. You really can’t. The fact that he wrote a sequel (a GREAT sequel) to a book over 30 years old is really remarkable. 

The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison

A lot of people really loved this book. I saw it on some Best of 2013 lists. I partially agree with the positive attention it has received since the characters are fleshed out more realistically than any others in the flashy new suspense-drama-novel genre that Gone Girl created. Seriously, the characterization is good. The two main characters—a devoted wife and a dickish husband—are expressed so well on the page that reading it almost felt like watching a movie. I could see their expressions, hear their tone of voice. It was really enjoyable. On the other hand, the plot was predictable as hell and I’m bored of the “how well do you really know your spouse?” books. (But I guess I wasn’t too bored because I kept an iron grip on my Kindle for the day or so that it took me to read it.) If you’ve got time to kill and an interest in the genre, it’s worth checking out. 

Going Clear by Lawrence Wright

Holy fucking shitballs. Reading this book is like stepping into alternate reality of crazy and I could not and would not step away. Insider or whistleblower nonfiction is one of my favorite things and it doesn’t get much more insidery than this. Wright interviewed dozens and dozens of former Scientologists that had once occupied prestigious positions within the church and the dish he spews as a result is PHENOMENAL. First of all, because I know this will be of huge interest to most people, he frankly eviscerates Scientologist celebrities. Especially Tom Cruise. But while the book is highly entertaining and the celebrity gossip is fulfilling on a very base level, I came away from reading this mostly terrified and sad for members of the Scientology community. I won’t reveal any tidbits or information—that’s why you should read the book!—but goddamn these people are fucking nutters. (And if they’re not nutters, they get taken advantage of by the ones that are.) This book was really eye-opening and scary and one of the best nonfiction things I read this year. 

The Sinking of the Bounty by Matthew Shaer 

This is a short little Kindle Single that I enjoyed. You probably remember the iconic image on the cover from the news. During hurricane Sandy, the HMS Bounty (a replica of the original ship), sank off the coast of North Carolina. This book tries to recreate events that led up to the sinking and then examines the potential reasons behind the captain’s decision to sail during the storm instead of remaining at port. It moves quickly and without much lingering on the emotions or the individual lives of the people at stake (which you may like or not like), but if you have a free hour or two, why not? 

The Preacher by Camilla Lackberg

I read Lackberg’s first book The Ice Princess back at the beginning of the year and I finally got around to the next book in the series. I have a huge soft spot for Swedish crime novels and really enjoyed my time reading The Preacher, but it is probably not everyone’s cup of tea. There were numerous grammatical problems in the Kindle text I read and the translation was spotty here and there. Additionally, Lackberg’s cast of characters and one huge family in particular had me wracking my brain to try and remember who they were. This is more problematic than it might have been because she has tendency to switch from one character and location to another without much of a discernible break in the text. This might be a Kindle formatting issue. Either way, it was annoying to read one paragraph and move on to the next only to realize that I had been teleported to a different time and place. These issues aside, I liked it. I didn’t fall head over heels and I don’t think she improved on the weaknesses of The Ice Princess, but I’m such a fan of the genre that I’m about to start the third book tonight. 

What are you all reading lately?

  • k 29 notes
What I’ve Read:
This Town by Mark Leibovich - I’d been wanting to read this for a while but kept putting it off. I finally started it right as the government shutdown nonsense happened and it was interesting to read this in conjunction with the DC shenanigans going on in real time. If you enjoy politics or want gossipy insight on the major players you’ve seen and heard nonstop this month, you should read this. 
Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink by Katrina Alcorn - Alcorn does a deep-dive into many of the working mom issues first raised in books like Lean In by using her own life as a case study. While Alcorn does talk mostly about working moms and work-life balance, her discussion of mom guilt and anxiety casts a wider net. I liked the book—and could (unfortunately) identify with Alcorn’s anxiety attacks—but it felt like it was missing something. Actually, I felt a little mislead. The title led me to believe this would be a book with Alcorn’s personal experiences married to broader conversations about the state of the American mother. Instead, the book is really just a memoir. It’s still valuable because Alcorn is relatable, and it was refreshing to read a book-length account of the rewards and challenges that accompany modern-day parenting. But what makes book good—the personal anecdotes—also makes the book problematic. There is a real issue of gender roles that needs more examination within the context of working parents and this book hardly touches it. Alcorn’s husband is, by her own admission, basically perfect. Aside from one or two tense moments between them, they are portrayed as an extremely functional and accommodating pair. I’m probably projecting a little bit here with my criticism, but based on my experiences (and what I’ve heard from friends), Alcorn’s near lack of friction between her and her partner in making the big adjustment to working and sharing parental responsibilities falls a little flat. If you remove the gender role conversation from a book about working mothers, I think you’re removing a big part of what makes the working mom conversation complex and volatile. It’s a big part of the conversation and the absence of any substantive discussion about how that transition impacts a working mom (or how the lack of a partner affects a single mom!) was a glaring omission. 
The Broken Places by Ace Atkins - This book was recommended to me (AGAIN, no idea where, I can never remember) and I enjoyed it. A good little palette cleanser. It’s listed as a “Southern crime novel” and I was thinking, ho-hum, dime a dozen crime novel. Instead, I found it fairly suspenseful and got invested in the well-rounded cast of characters. If you like this genre or just want something really light to pass the time, have at it. 
No One Could Have Guessed the Weather by Anne-Marie Casey - I wanted to like this book about NYC moms and their intertwined friendships with each other. I just didn’t. It was slow (so slow) and I never connected with any of the characters. It has some clever moments, including one at the end, but I found it mostly forgettable and worse—annoying to read. I kept falling asleep. Never a good sign. 
If you want something REALLY amazing to read, make sure you check out this book I reviewed the other day.
Have you read any of these?

What I’ve Read:

  • This Town by Mark Leibovich - I’d been wanting to read this for a while but kept putting it off. I finally started it right as the government shutdown nonsense happened and it was interesting to read this in conjunction with the DC shenanigans going on in real time. If you enjoy politics or want gossipy insight on the major players you’ve seen and heard nonstop this month, you should read this. 
  • Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink by Katrina Alcorn - Alcorn does a deep-dive into many of the working mom issues first raised in books like Lean In by using her own life as a case study. While Alcorn does talk mostly about working moms and work-life balance, her discussion of mom guilt and anxiety casts a wider net. I liked the book—and could (unfortunately) identify with Alcorn’s anxiety attacks—but it felt like it was missing something. Actually, I felt a little mislead. The title led me to believe this would be a book with Alcorn’s personal experiences married to broader conversations about the state of the American mother. Instead, the book is really just a memoir. It’s still valuable because Alcorn is relatable, and it was refreshing to read a book-length account of the rewards and challenges that accompany modern-day parenting. But what makes book good—the personal anecdotes—also makes the book problematic. There is a real issue of gender roles that needs more examination within the context of working parents and this book hardly touches it. Alcorn’s husband is, by her own admission, basically perfect. Aside from one or two tense moments between them, they are portrayed as an extremely functional and accommodating pair. I’m probably projecting a little bit here with my criticism, but based on my experiences (and what I’ve heard from friends), Alcorn’s near lack of friction between her and her partner in making the big adjustment to working and sharing parental responsibilities falls a little flat. If you remove the gender role conversation from a book about working mothers, I think you’re removing a big part of what makes the working mom conversation complex and volatile. It’s a big part of the conversation and the absence of any substantive discussion about how that transition impacts a working mom (or how the lack of a partner affects a single mom!) was a glaring omission. 
  • The Broken Places by Ace Atkins - This book was recommended to me (AGAIN, no idea where, I can never remember) and I enjoyed it. A good little palette cleanser. It’s listed as a “Southern crime novel” and I was thinking, ho-hum, dime a dozen crime novel. Instead, I found it fairly suspenseful and got invested in the well-rounded cast of characters. If you like this genre or just want something really light to pass the time, have at it. 
  • No One Could Have Guessed the Weather by Anne-Marie Casey - I wanted to like this book about NYC moms and their intertwined friendships with each other. I just didn’t. It was slow (so slow) and I never connected with any of the characters. It has some clever moments, including one at the end, but I found it mostly forgettable and worse—annoying to read. I kept falling asleep. Never a good sign. 

If you want something REALLY amazing to read, make sure you check out this book I reviewed the other day.

Have you read any of these?

  • k 13 notes
What I’ve Read: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
This is a life-changing book.
I don’t want to write too much here. I knew nothing about the book when I started it. It was my total ignorance about the plot that made my experience reading this that much more profound. 
About a quarter of the way through the book, I knew it was by far the best I’d read so far this year. By the time I read the last page, I knew it was one of the best novels I’d read…ever. 
I’m not usually this effusive with my praise for books, so trust me on this one. Put down whatever you’re reading and start this instead.
Have you read it?

What I’ve Read: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

This is a life-changing book.

I don’t want to write too much here. I knew nothing about the book when I started it. It was my total ignorance about the plot that made my experience reading this that much more profound. 

About a quarter of the way through the book, I knew it was by far the best I’d read so far this year. By the time I read the last page, I knew it was one of the best novels I’d read…ever. 

I’m not usually this effusive with my praise for books, so trust me on this one. Put down whatever you’re reading and start this instead.

Have you read it?

  • k 60 notes

What I’ve Read

image

Anonymous Sources by Mary Louise Kelly

I first heard about this book in an NPR interview (Kelly is a former NPR reporter). This is Kelly’s first book. It kind of shows. 

Here’s the thing. It was a really enjoyable read, but in the way that Pierce Brosnan-era Bond movies were really enjoyable to watch. If you are willing to suspend reality and just go along for the ride, it’s the perfect book. It’s a fast-paced thriller about a Boston reporter who stumbles upon a story much bigger than the Harvard campus murder she was originally assigned to cover. The story gets ludicrously unbelievable and out-sized, but it was a quick, fun book and I’m not sorry I read it. 

Have you read it?

  • k 6 notes
  • / print

What I’ve Read

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

This is the most fun book I’ve read in a long, long time. It’s so decadent and over-the-top that it puts similarly constructed chick lit (The Devil Wears Prada or Bergdorf Blondes or the like) to complete and utter shame. 

Crazy Rich Asians is about Rachel Chu, a professor of economics in NYC, and her boyfriend Nicholas Young. Nicholas manages to keep his extraordinarily wealthy origins under wraps until he invites Rachel to come with him to Singapore so they can attend the wedding of his best friend and also meet Nicholas’ family. The news spreads like wildfire in Singapore (“Nicholas is bringing home a girl, it must be serious!”) The family drama is absurd (and often funny) and you can probably guess how the story progresses. 

This review really comes down to one thing: I couldn’t stop reading it. I know it’s cliche to say that, but in this particular case, it was like a disease. A disease of book addiction. The book was in my hand while I was brushing my teeth. Drinking my coffee. I was carrying it around the house with me in my hoodie pouch JUST IN CASE a spare moment presented itself. I read it in a day. 

The dialogue between characters is forced sometimes (it can get distractingly bad), but the story has enough winding subplots and crazy characters to make it mostly painless to breeze through the occasional awkwardly-worded conversation. It also suffers from mild Designer Laundry List syndrome—a common issue found in books of this ilk. It’s tough to write descriptions of private jets, designer clothes and various other luxury brands/locations/items without it coming off like the horrible descriptive copy of the Lucky magazine variety. It’s as if they need to drill the wealth into your head by listing everything. No showing, ALL telling. Pay attention! They’re wearing couture! There are a few stupid passages (one section that has a few guys debating the pros and cons of various private jets is so obnoxious/fake/forced), but overall, Crazy Rich Asians does a good job of bringing the reader in on the joke. 

One of the most fascinating things about Crazy Rich Asians is that as far-fetched as it might seem, Kwan (a Singapore native) admitted that he’s seen far more extravagance in real life than what he put in the book. He said his publishers asked him to tone it down occasionally because readers wouldn’t believe that actual people lived the way he described.

CRAZY. 

Have you read it yet?

  • k 55 notes
  • / print