Oakland, CA | Member Since 2006
Sonia Sotomayor won me over with her book. Not that I didn’t like her previously, but I just didn’t care about her before I read this. Although one can imagine that a Supreme Court justice is a hard worker and an extremely accomplished person, Sonia really does have an interesting story about her hard work and her accomplishments.
I was struck by her integrity. She’s the type of person who always did the right thing and her strength to follow the right and the difficult path as she did was so admirable. She did admit that somewhere along the line she might have gone over the speed limit or committed some other minor or meaningless infraction. Mainly, she seems squeaky clean! Not only did she not inhale, she never even picked it up ☺
Her intelligence was also very obvious. One of the things that stood out the most about her training and education was the importance of her being on the debate team in high school (I don’t remember the details of when it was, actually.) She mentioned it many times as a factor that influenced her education: her ability to look at both sides before making decisions, to organize her thinking, and then to write a paper in college. It was one of the methods by which Sonia moved from rote learning to critical thinking. That convinced me that debating is an important skill that more students ought to learn in school. The Great Debaters was a movie about an African American debate team in 1935 starring Denzel Washington. I came to the same conclusion then after watching that movie. Debating is great training!
Most of all I was impressed by Sonia’s determination! She was a hard worker who never gave up. She set her goals when she was young and never stopped working for them. I found it interesting that one of the influences on her desire to be a judge from an early age was watching Perry Mason shows. They were my favorites, too. Oh well, we had quite different outcomes!
What a fun book! I liked it BETTER than The Shining. Of course, that could be because I already read and vaguely remembered The Shining. In any case, Dr. Sleep transported me to another world… the world of a good book. It was a good story, and Stephen King knows how to tell good stories. I really appreciate the naturalness of his writing.
Although a person would not HAVE to have read The Shining first, I DO think it adds to the enjoyment to have the details from The Shining in the mind while going through Dr. Sleep. It adds to the fun to remember Dick Halloran, Wendy Torrance, Horace Derwent, and even Mrs. Massey from room 217!
I loved the writing in The Dog Stars! The author did such a great job of evoking the main character’s personality. Hig was a combination of an outdoorsman and “man’s man,” and then also a poet and philosopher. He was sensitive and often compassionate; I really loved his character.
The Dog Stars reminded me of “The Little Prince” in which the narrator flies around the world in his airplane, is stranded in the desert, and meets the little prince who expounds on the beauties and also the frailties of the world. Like The Little Prince, The Dog Stars presents a lesson about life. This famous line from The Little Prince is really the theme of that book: "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye." In the Dog Stars, it seems like the apocalypse has made Hig’s past life “invisible, “ and somehow allowed him to live more in the present, appreciating every small beauty, like the little prince said! Hig is has a poetic nature anyway, and so his observations throughout the book are poignant and touching.
At the end of The Little Prince, the prince tells the narrator that when he leaves it will make the narrator sad, but it will be consoling to look at the stars and think of the prince's lovable laughter, and that it will seem as if all the stars are laughing. It seems like Hig uses the stars in this way, as a sort of consolation, and that the name of the book refers to the nostalgia and beauty in the memories of all the stars he has named that console him in his current, post apocalyptic life.
The Dog Stars is the type of sci-fi that I like. I think you could call this science fiction in that it takes one aspect of the world today and fictionalizes it, but still lets all the characters interact in totally realistic way, and the lessons learned apply to us today in the real world. All the ruminations that Hig dished out over the course of the book seemed to be useful not only in a post apocalyptic world, but also in our modern day world.
I loved Hig’s relationship with Bingley. They are forced together, and they both learn from each other. The evolution of Bingley’s character is interesting and heartwarming.
I only vaguely remember having read The Shining back when it first came out in 1977. The movie version is more firmly stuck in my mind, but it is hazy, too. So I decided to re-read this classic Stephen King book before trying the sequel, Dr. Sleep.
Although I really enjoyed reading it, I was somewhat disappointed as well. I thought I’d be on the edge of my seat and terrified. The first half or 2/3 of the novel seemed almost overburdened with foreshadowing and character development. The final 1/3 was much more exciting, and so I did come away feeling that the book almost lived up to its reputation.
Also, as usual, I really appreciated Stephen King’s writing and the structure of the novel. He is good! Now I can’t wait to watch the movie again! And then on to Dr. Sleep!
It wasn’t until the last hour of listening to this book that I really connected with it. I did enjoy it before that, but somehow it seemed a little bit overly sentimentalized or over dramatized. I’m not really sure, but the “lost wife” idea seemed to be carried a little bit too far. And then at the end, I actually wanted to know more about the reunion of the couple after all these years. It was probably best to cut it off when the author did, but… here I was just really getting into it. So, I was left wanting.
The scenes regarding the holocaust were chilling, and I could tell that they must have been based on someone’s true story. This was confirmed when I listened to an interview with the author at the end.
Overall, I did like the book. It was worth reading.
This was really enjoyable crime fiction! I could hardly stop reading it, which makes it rank high in my book. I was glad to see some of the same characters and references to episodes from the last book, The Phantom. I do think this would make it harder for a newcomer to the Harry Hole series to understand or get as involved in the book as it was for a veteran of Jo Nesbo, but for me, it made it like a homecoming!
One thing that I didn’t like about the book is the way Jo Nesbo was constantly trying to build suspense by, basically, tricking the reader into thinking one thing was happening, only to reveal a little later on that it was really something else. The biggest examples of this technique had to do with Harry Hole, the main character, and whether he was alive or not. There were many smaller examples, however, that kept cropping up. These DID serve to keep me on the edge of my seat, but after a while it also seemed overdone or contrived. One example (spoiler alert) was when the reader is led to believe that the young 12-year-old girl, Aurora, is the victim of the horrible serial killer. Nesbo does this by juxtaposing the section of the book with scenes of the young victim alongside the next section where Aurora is discovered missing. Of course, the reader begins to assume that Aurora is the victim.
One other problem I had was that the first suspect, Valentin, is sort of dropped half way through, and then there is a tiny bit of evidence at the end that he might have shown up again. However, this whole tangent was too unresolved, in my opinion. It seems obvious there will be another book (yea!), but still, Nesbo needs to finish this one off in a bit more of a polished fashion.
This book is not bad but is too long and rambling. I loved Bryce’s Courtenay’s “The Power of One,” and I enjoyed “Tandia,” but now he has gone off the deep end with a long saga that tries to include too many characters. Also, his propensity to have the goodness of the main characters shine through no matter what their humble situation is, in this book, maudlin and over the top.
I will say that each of the various stories did, at times, really engage me and pull on my heartstrings. The narrator, Mole, is damaged by his war-scarred father, Tommy. Mole’s admiration for his father is heartwarming. His father’s war story is grueling and tragic, but it is really long and boring at the same time. Ugh; that could have been shortened. Mole’s adaptation to life in the bush is interesting, especially the descriptions of fire fighting in Australia. I learned a lot about forest fires in the process. The ending of Mole’s story, at the very end of the book after all those hours of listening, ironically ends up seeming too quickly wrapped up. It’s like Courtenay finally ran out of steam or the editor said ENOUGH. The brother who is in the fashion industry has an interesting story, as well. However, if I were shortening the book, I’d probably have left his part out. My favorite story was the family’s oldest daughter, Sarah, and her feminist struggle to get accepted into medical school against great odds and as a pregnant single woman in backwoods Australia. I liked that. Also the family’s friends, Sophie and Maurie SuckFizzle, have a sad but uplifting story of triumph over adversity, but again this verges into sentimentality and maudlin territory. Then there is the brother who stays around and leads the family to economic success in the trucking business. In all, there are just too many characters and too much territory for one book.
I was really glad when it was over. I may be finished with Bryce Courtenay. I had to search and search for a kindle copy of the book to go along with my audio version. Now I think I know why it was hard to find.
I enjoyed reading The Son. It had a great combination of gritty, cowboy and Indian story telling, and also a lush, nostalgic feel. I loved the descriptions by Eli, the book’s namesake, of the Texas countryside when the grasses were high and they went on forever. As Eli rides the plains with the Indians, the descriptions of the countryside seemed to evoke the now long gone beauty and purity of the natural surroundings. The Indians certainly weren’t romanticized, but one did get a feeling from reading this book that our lives now are smaller in many ways than back when the Indians ruled or roamed the plains. When Eli returns from his captivity, his life back with the whites seems so confining and almost stultifying.
Eli, although he has a good and moral side, is also a man who stops at nothing to get what he wants and stops at nothing to defend his family. His ultimate greed, violence, and excess sets up one of the novels themes of justice or payback. I love the way that justice plays out in the end. It’s like history looping back on itself as we finally find out what has happened to Jeanne McCullough, the Colonel’s (Eli’s) great -granddaughter.
I thought the ending of the book with the Colonel was perfect, too. The nine-year-old Indian boy following after the Colonel was like an echo of Eli’s earlier days and just seemed such a fitting way to end.
“When the people were finished we killed every living dog and horse. I took the chief’s bladder for a tobacco pouch; it was tanned and embroidered with beads. In his shield, stuffed between the layers, was Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
WHEN THE SUN came up, we discovered a boy of nine years. We left him as a witness. At noon we reached the river and saw the boy had followed us with his bow—for twenty miles he had kept up with men on horseback—for twenty miles he had been running to his death. A child like that would be worth a thousand men today. We left him standing on the riverbank. As far as I know he is looking for me yet.”
(Kindle Locations 8290-8295).
This ending speaks to one of the major themes of the book, that of the rise and fall of empires. The empire could be the American west, the Comanche nation, OR , in this case, the McCullough family. All are doomed to fall. People are getting soft. This passage where Jeanne McCullough is thinking, states this change perfectly.
”But the slackening. By five she and her brothers were throwing loops. By ten she was at the branding fire. Her grandchildren were not good at anything and did not have much interest in anything either. She wondered if the Colonel would even recognize them as his descendants, felt briefly defensive for them, but of course it was true. Something was happening to the human race.
That is what all old people think, she decided…
When the first men arrived, she told them, there were mammoths, giant buffalo, giant horses, saber-toothed tigers, and giant bears. The American cheetah—the only animal on earth that could outrun a pronghorn antelope.
Her grandsons … went inside to watch television.”
(Kindle Locations 7882-7892).
Where the Colonel is hard and ruthless, His son, Peter, is almost the opposite. He has taken on the guilt of his father’s excesses and is compassionate and caring. I loved his character. I listened to the book and thought Peter’s voice was fantastic! What a great narrator. His voice seemed to take on the sadness and guilty burden that Peter carried with him. And I loved Peter’s story. Early on we find out the Peter has committed some act that has made him a pariah to the family. Since he seems so sensitive, moral, and thoughtful, it is hard to imagine what this act could be. That sets up a wonderful tension that carries on through the novel.
I just now saw a McCullough family tree diagram in the front of the Kindle edition! Seeing that earlier would have saved me a lot of initial confusion. The story sprawls out over many generations and flips back and forth a lot. I was listening to the book most of the time and was a bit confused until about 200 pages in as to who the characters were and how they fit together. It all fell into place, and I enjoyed putting together the puzzle pieces, but I think referring to the family tree in the beginning would have been great, too.
I wanted to like this book more than I did. The beautiful descriptions of the magic were enchanting. I could really visualize all the intricate tents in The Night Circus. The two main characters, as well as Bailey and the twins, were really interesting. I was drawn to figure out what was behind the mystery of the Night Circus and what was behind the contest that kept the two main characters embroiled for their entire lives. All of that I did enjoy.
SPOILER ALERT: In the end when it is revealed, however, the whole premise seems so shallow and disappointing. It just seemed so arbitrary. Two old men decide to totally manipulate the lives of two people in order to satisfy their own egos. It came down to so little. There seemed no real explanation of how the men came to initiate this challenge or the ones that came before. Without any background, I simply did not care about the actual contest. And without caring about the contest, the framework of the book seemed to be missing. There was a lot of magic and beautiful description, but the heart of the book wasn’t really there.
This book is enchanting and beautiful! It ranks as one of my favorites of the year. The only other one that comes close is Beautiful Ruins. I feel like I’ve been wrapped in a different world and it is really hard to disentangle myself! I didn’t want it to end.
The book is like a magical fairy tale. At first I thought the element of magic was meant only as a way to make Jack and Mabel, the older couple in the story, happy again. However, as the book progressed, I could see that it was not only for this purpose but to help Mabel, and the reader, appreciate and love the absolute beauty and truth inherent in nature. Mabel goes from hardly leaving her cabin in Alaska to appreciating in an almost worshipful way the beauty, wildness, and freedom of their life in Alaska.
Faina, the fairy-like girl in this book, represents nature in all its beauty and wildness. Faina, and nature, essentially can’t be tamed, controlled, or changed. Her essence is wild; that’s who she is. Mabel, and the reader, come to understand and appreciate that as the book moves along.
The author does a fantastic job of examining the relationship of the main couple, Jack and Mabel. That part is totally realistic, well-written and nuanced and is a great balance to the other-worldly nature of Faina and her story. I love the scene in the beginning when they are so estranged and yet they find an intimate time together out in the snow.
“Wait,” she said. “Let’s make a snowman.”
“A snowman. It’s perfect. Perfect snow for a snowman.” He hesitated. He was tired. It was late. They were too old for such nonsense. There were a dozen reasons not to, Mabel knew, but instead he set the lantern back in the snow.
“All right,” he said. There was reluctance in the hang of his head, but he pulled off his leather work gloves. He took her cheek in his bare hand, and with his thumb wiped melted snow from beneath her eye. “All right.”
Just the description of brushing the melted snow from his wife’s cheek actually had me tearing up with the intimacy of the gesture. That’s when I started appreciating her writing.
I love the way the author weaves her book in and around an old Russian fairy tale. The book was just the right combination of magical suggestion and reality. Reading about how Eowyn, the author, came upon the story and just knew that this old story would inhabit her new novel was magical in itself. I could hardly believe this was her first novel. When I see her picture, she looks so young and innocent. It is so fitting that she lives in Alaska and has experienced some of the wild life that Faina represents. Her wedding picture on Facebook made me think of Faina a little bit ☺
Is Faina real? What a marvelous ambivalence is drawn around this question. The story can be read literally to say that Faina is human and flesh and blood. However, there are so many magical references and so much symbolism relating to her close relationship with the snow, the cold, and the wild creatures, that the reader is never entirely sure of just where Faina stands. The ending, too, has some slight ambivalence. I was left wanting to know more about what happened to Faina, even as I understood it at a deeper level.
I’ve read several books in the Harry Hole series, and so I was interested in finally reading this, the first in the series. I was always curious as to why it hadn’t yet been translated into English.
Perhaps the reason it took so long to bring this to the English speaking public is because it’s not as good as his other books? I might not have wanted to continue the series if I’d started with this book, BUT since I’d become acquainted with Harry Hole, I wanted to know more about his history and his beginnings. I did get to know a lot more about him and why his personality is as dark as it is.
I didn’t think the plot was as exciting or as good as the other books I’ve read by Nesbo. I also wasn’t very interested in all the philosophical asides that he threw in. A couple of them were interesting, but I started to get tired of them, and they started to seem like filler.
Wow, I just looked and there are quite a few I’d need to read to get to the one I started with, The Snowman. Also, it looks like #2 in the series, The Cockroaches, still hasn’t been translated. I’ll take a break from Harry Hole and see if #2 comes around in English, and then perhaps I’ll try again. Hopefully, Nesbo gets better with each book!
• In The Bat (1997), Hole is sent to Sydney, Australia to investigate the murder of a B-list celebrity.
• In The Cockroaches (1998), Hole is sent to Thailand to investigate the murder of the Norwegian ambassador.
• In The Redbreast (2000), Hole is promoted to inspector in the Oslo Police District and tracks an insane assassin with a vendetta against the Norwegian Royal Family.
• In Nemesis (2002), Hole investigates a fatal bank robbery and becomes implicated in the apparent murder of an ex-girlfriend.
• In The Devil's Star (2003), Hole suspects another detective, Tom Waaler, of being a murderous arms smuggler responsible for the death of Hole's former partner.
• In The Redeemer (2005), Hole is on the trail of a Croat hitman who kills a Salvation Army officer during a Christmas street concert.
• In The Snowman (2007), Hole struggles to identify Norway's first serial killer.
• In The Leopard (2009), Hole returns from a self-imposed exile in Hong Kong and unofficially investigates a serial killer.
• In Phantom (2011), Hole again returns from Hong Kong to look into a murder apparently committed by his would-be son, Oleg. His investigation draws him into Oslo's drug scene.
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