Oakland, CA | Member Since 2012
It was fascinating! If you have always loved The Rolling Stones and rock and roll and have a lot of nostalgia about the 60's... then I think you'd find Keith Richards memoir fascinating, too. It is long, but most of the time, well, I was just blown away hearing about all the stuff Keith Richards did. He has a great conversational style; listening was fun - kind of like sitting in the living room hearing him tell about his life (with help from Johnny Depp and one other reader.) What really shines through is his absolute love of music as well as his totally undisciplined and wild, wild life style. I liked it toward the end when he tells about how Tony Blair wrote him a get well letter (after an accident) and said, "Dear Keith, You've always been one of my heroes..." Then Keith says, "England's in the hands of someone I'm the hero of? That's frightening." I also liked the ending when he sits on the end of his dying mom's bed and plays Malaguena for her. That was one of the first songs he learned at the beginning of the book, so it seemed to be a good frame for the ending... and kind of touching.
I have to admire the detailed research that went in to writing Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Katherine Boo shadowed so many people in the Annawadi slum of Mumbai for THREE YEARS. She does an amazing job of portraying their lives in all of their complexity. Her research didn’t end there, either. She evidently did much more intense document research as well. Her whole career has been spent examining disadvantaged communities in America and now India. She really opens up the eyes of the reader to what daily life is like and what the major issues are in Annawadi. Her website give a great overall look at how the book was written; I wish I had checked out the site before reading the book, actually. I think it deepened my appreciation for the task she undertook.
What I came away with is the sense that in the Annawadi slums, as in all or most of India it seems, corruption is practically bred into people’s lives. For the poorest people who live in these slums, a corrupt life is the only way most of them can eek out a means of survival. The majority of these people don’t even feel bothered by their own total lack of ethics and morals; they are too poor and too overwhelmed with trying to simply survive. The widespread corruption gives the people a sense that they have lost control over their lives. The ground is always shifting under them due to the forces of corruption everywhere.
The problem with the book for me is that it seems caught between two genres, creative non-fiction and the novel. I thought it would have been more interesting if Boo had just simply written a novel about the main characters in the book. Plenty of the factual info about their lives could have come across this way. As it was, the non-fiction tone and structure of the book got in the way of any enjoyment for me in the reading of it. It read like a catalogue of horrors and stories of corruption without enough glue to hold them together. Just when I finally learned the names of those that would become the main characters, the author would go off on a tangent to describe other characters and issues. The names became too many and after a while I didn’t really care. Luckily, the main characters finally came back into focus and the story carried on for a while, only to be derailed with more tangents which could illustrate more of the horrible issues going on in the Annawadi slums.
So, my review is based on my enjoyment of the book, which was almost non-existent at most points. If I were to rate it based on value and importance of the message, then I’d give it a top rating.
The opening of the book was lush and held out much promise for an engrossing southern novel. However, the characters and the story didn’t live up to this beginning. I did enjoy the descriptions of a “living” plantation, Belle Vie, in this day and age. That part was fascinating. The main character, Caren, however, seemed unlikeable and I just didn’t care much about her. She makes some really stupid decisions. The relationship she has with her ex –husband just doesn’t ring true to me. In fact, all her relationships seem washed out or bland.
In the end, the solution to the mystery just seems to pop up out of nowhere. Or did I miss something?
Overall, I was underwhelmed.
This book had all the right elements for a great read: it was a good story that had many levels, the writing was good, there were lessons about history, as well as philosophical or ethical questions to ponder.
I loved the way there were 3 different stories going on at once. First there is the story of Sage and her struggle with how to interact with Joseph Weber and her meeting Leo. Then there is Minka’s story of the Upior, based on an old Polish fairy tale. This was interesting as a parallel and a metaphor for many of the actions and horrors that occurred in the book. The third and, to me, the most dramatic story was that of Minka herself and her path into and finally out of two different German concentration camps. The author very skillfully weaves these 3 story lines together in such a way that each story line adds to and helps to develop the other.
Spoiler alert here: I had trouble putting the book down! If I have any criticism, it’s with the ending. I’m not sure that the big switch in the character of Joseph Weber at the end was necessary or very well explained. Also, the idea that Sage pulls off her final act but seems to have no intention of sharing it or talking about it with Leo seems unrealistic. OR perhaps I’m unconvinced that she really could or would pull off this final decision. I feel like this final section was, perhaps, rushed or underdeveloped in relation to all that had come before. However, this didn't spoil my enjoyment of the book overall.
I highly recommend it.
This book didn’t live up to all of its 4 and 5 star reviews. Although the story of the orphan trains itself is interesting, I found the book to be stereotyped and shallow.
One example is the foster mother of Molly. The author threw in so many stereotypes which she obviously found to be “evil” but which don’t necessarily ring true to me as definitive markers of an evil person: she listens to conservative talk radio, she is NOT a vegetarian, she has an anti-abortion bumper sticker, etc etc. SO, the author is definitely prejudiced against conservatives, BUT I think there could have been a more skillful way to portray a person who is supposed to be as judgmental and uncaring as the foster mom. This author took a short cut, but it didn’t work.
The book seemed like it should be categorized as a young adult novel. It was too oversimplified and moralistic for me. The ending packs a big emotional wallop, and did make me cry. I believe that is why it ended up getting such good reviews. As a whole, it is really not worth it.
I thoroughly enjoyed Trunk Music and would have given it my highest rating EXCEPT that the ending seemed so contrived and phony that I had to knock it down just a little. It seemed just wrong to have Victoria Aliso blurt out as she died to, “… save my daughter.” What daughter? That’s the first we hear of it. And really? Her daughter turns out to be Layla, the Las Vegas dancer that Victoria’s HUSBAND is having an affair with? As if that weren’t enough, THEN Bosch and Eleanor run across Layla when they leave L.A. and Vegas and begin their honeymoon in Hawaii on the very last page. That coincidence seems just way too contrived. If there had been a plot of some dimension about Victoria, Layla, and their histories, then fine. However, to just throw these two facts in at the very end does NOT work to make the book and the plot seem believable.
Other than that, I found the book very readable and compelling, as with most of the Harry Bosch books. I’ll keep on reading about Harry Bosch. I wondered about the title "Trunk Music," and found what it means: ”...a wise guy saying outta Chicago.. when they whack some poor slob they say, “Oh, Tony Don't worry about Tony. He’s trunk music now. You won’t see him no more. “
A very engrossing book! It’s a really good story, but the build up is a bit too long. I like the way the reader has a lot of sympathy for Werner. He is basically trapped his whole life, but he undergoes a transformation that is extremely heartwarming at the end, and the build up here makes the extra length of the book worthwhile.
It seemed like the author is trying to show the reader how it feels to be blind, like the main character, young Marie Laure. This is admirable, however, I found all the minute descriptions from the mind of the blind girl to be too detailed. It was hard for me to appreciate them. Just like I didn’t enjoy reading a book where the narrator supposedly had Asperger syndrome, I didn’t really like seeing the world through the eyes of Marie Laure.
Also, the chapters skip around chronologically, which I found somewhat disorienting, since I was listening to the book. This technique is a good one, but at some points it seemed to be over-used.
I was fascinated by this book. Setting is big; it swept me away to another world, the world of New Guinea in the 1930’s. It wasn’t until after I finished reading Euphoria that I found out it was based on the life of Margaret Mead. (Ok, DUH :) As I was reading, I kept thinking that there had to be a real person like this. Sometimes an author’s research just comes through or seems obvious, and then the reader can tell that there WAS someone who did it like this. The same thing happened in “The Invention of Wings.” As I read along and saw so many specifics about various characters, I figured that it must be about someone REAL. (That was another DUH, since it’s on the back of the book! Hey, I listened to both of them :)
Now that I read that Euphoria is based on Margaret Mead and a particular time in her life, I want to know more. There really was a love triangle (according to a review I read – see below) ! How juicy and exciting, AND it was exciting in the book, too. The author did such a good job of building up all the tension and revealing the facts of the situation slowly and in a somewhat mysterious way. I loved that about the book. The last 1/3 or so of it was the most exciting as all the pieces fell in to place. The ending obviously veers off from the life of Margaret Mead; I’d like to find out in what other areas the fictional character is different.
Wow! I think Scientology has to be one of the most messed up, horrible organizations I've ever heard of. I won't call it a religion; that would be a sham. The book was fascinating in that it opened my eyes to the reality and the inner workings of Scientology. At the same time, it was pretty boring in its details and the reality which seemed to go on and on. I've heard some bad things about Scientology, BUT now my eyes have been opened to the extent of the rottenness.
As I was reading about the constant "auditing" (questioning sessions with an e-meter designed to elicit a certain result from the person being audited) and "sec-checks"(confessional given on an e-meter) , it made me think of North Korea in Orphan Master's Son! Seriously, that is how BAD it was. Well, they didn't hook the person up to a pain machine, BUT they did use constant belittling, questioning, humiliating, separation, isolation, and on and on to elicit the response they wanted. I also feel like this girl's parents were partly to blame for allowing her to be taken from them and to be separated from them and sucked into this horror. Of course, she was/is from a 3rd generation Scientology family, so they were ALL brainwashed, I guess.
The book talks about how the celebrity Scientologists are treated differently, and the world never sees that horrible stuff that goes on in the background. The hypocrisy of Scientology is stunning in its breadth and depth.
I've got to give this girl credit for getting out and exposing all this to the world.
I loved reading this book! It appealed to me because of its compelling plot, but I also appreciated the spiritual aspects of the book. It took a look at how science and a love of the natural world interact with the aspects of life that can’t be explained scientifically, such as kindness, compassion, altruism, and self-sacrifice. Several of the characters in the book believe, “There is a supreme intelligence in the world that longs for a union with us and that nothing short of a divine being could have created the human mind.” The name of the book relates to this theme. “The Signature of All Things” means basically that “all the natural world is a divine code, containing proof of our Creator’s love.” This is why so many medicinal plants, according to this theory, resemble the diseases they were meant to cure, or the organs they were able to treat. For example, walnuts, shaped like brains, were supposed to be helpful for headaches. At one point Ambrose put it like this:
“…and yet Boehme said that God had PRESSED Himself into the world, and had left markers there for us to discover.”
The book is an exploration, through the life story of Alma Whittaker , of scientific values that still leave a sliver of room for miracles.
I loved the sex parts, too ☺ That binding closet was a kick! And the scene with Tomorrow Morning was great!
Yes! With this #3 book in the Harry Hole series, Jo Nesbo has reached his stride and has written a tense and exciting thriller/crime novel. I particularly liked this book because the reader gets to see how Harry Hole meets Raquel (the woman he is so in love with in later books) and find out Raquel's "interesting" background. Having started with some of the later Harry Hole books, I was disappointed when I went back to the beginning with the #1 and #2 books (The Bat and The Cockroaches), but having enjoyed this book so much, I'm now ready to continue on to #4, Nemesis.
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