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Every once in a while a memoir comes along that moves me to tears and opens my heart and mind to an entirely new world. Of course I've read about the horrors of the holocaust, and have even read a couple Holocaust memoirs, but Sara Tuvel Bernstein's memoir is a deeply personal glimpse into a survivor's experience-- and a very unique experience at that. I couldn't put it down, and, when I wasn't reading, I couldn't stop thinking about it! I'm forever changed as a result and feel so lucky to have been able to see through her eyes, if even just for a moment in time.
I cannot understand the hype around this book. It certainly has a novel plot line but the execution of it was utterly unremarkable. I literally only finished it because I (wrongfully) assumed a book with such glowing reviews would have to shine at some point.
Nope, not the case.
John Green takes on an emotional and esoteric wealth of subject matter in this Young Adult Fiction novel, but he does so in this unpretentious, relatable, and downright likeable manner that makes the novel a true page turner (if one can use that term for audio books).
I had not read YAF since I was a young adult and in the beginning of the novel I felt annoyed that such a gem of a book had to be locked inside a YAF novel, peppered with simple sentences and written in such a way that I almost felt like I was watching a movie (easy entertainment). That’s a compliment in itself to many, but I generally go for books with vivid imagery and prose. By the end of the book though, I was in tears at the stunning themes he was able to weave through and explore simultaneously; at the humor; the insight; and the beauty. And ultimately I was thankful and a bit awestruck by his ability to craft a masterpiece that would both appeal to a move young adults and adults.
This is an absolute 5-star book and it will be one I re-read in years to come, just to remember.
Having now read 5 of Gabaldon’s books, I think it’s safe to say that her books are like a drug—addicting, consuming…but in an I-want-more, it-makes-me-feel-good-even-when-I’m-not-reading sort of way. Read one and you’ll be hooked. She is, without question, the most talented author I’ve had the pleasure to come across.
I read another of Bernstein’s books (The Dream) a couple of years ago and enjoyed his writing so much that I (rightly) assumed I would like all his work. He has this fantastic way of writing memoir that draws you in instantly and keeps you completely absorbed throughout. There was never a lull in my listening—you know, where you put the book down for a day or two because your interest waned ever so slightly.
He also has this uncanny ability to help you see people—I mean really see people—even if you feel like you have absolutely nothing in common with them. It’s quite remarkable, actually. He’s quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!
One of my favorite themes woven throughout The Invisible Wall was the awareness that everyone on this planet is really much more alike than we are different. And, since Bernstein is writing from his own history, rather than just speaking to ideals, the truth of it all resonates deeply.
This was my first Mary Roach book and I have to say, I love her witty, comical nonfiction writing style. The content is certainly quirky and likely wouldn’t hold the attention of the average reader, but I love science oddities and trivial facts, so I certainly enjoyed this book (disclaimer, it’s not all trivial). I also quite enjoyed the links between science and culture that are woven throughout. It’s a quick and fascinating read that will have you laughing out loud at times. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys science-based nonfiction—not to worry though, it’s nothing like reading a textbook!
Two thumbs up for The Kitchen House. I don’t have a raving review to post, as so many readers have in the past, but I did enjoy this period piece. I especially appreciated the moments of tenderness some of the characters displayed in the face of the horrors of the time. The author’s note at the end was also particularly poignant and will stick with me. In this way, I enjoyed certain small bits more than the story as a whole. What I didn’t like was how quickly things developed and occurred throughout the story. I felt like the author had a list of events she wanted to have occur and it detracted from the story since the narrative often rushed from thing to another. I also felt there were far too many characters too keep track of, particularly in the beginning. These things aside though, I enjoyed the novel and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Hmmm, how does one review a book like this? It’s the story of two couples: their friendship, marriages, lives, treasured memories and hardships. I found the story a bit slow at times and occasionally disjointed. No huge rising plot. No language frills. No magnificently crafted scenery. That said, there was a rawness to it—a deeply human face that held my attention and my focus, even when I wasn’t reading. I’m glad I read it, but I’m not sure I’d go around recommending it to everyone I know… except perhaps to my sister, to get her take on the family dynamics in the book. There were certainly some ponderous subtleties I could relate to.
I give Vonnegut’s compilation of speeches a solid three stars, as it was a very quick and enjoyable listen. Although mildly redundant—how could it not be given the similar themes throughout most of his speeches—and sometimes a bit too sarcastic-ly cynical in my opinion, I still appreciated his thoughts and perspective. What I liked best was his assertion that being happy and not realizing it is the most tragic waste of all. So, he pleads, notice when little things make you smile. Remember and recount these moments, for they are happiness.
It’s nearly impossible for me to rate any of Gabaldon’s books with fewer than 5 stars, and book four in the series is no exception. The book(s) is so good that I felt pangs of sadness as the remaining chapters dwindled… but that didn’t stop me from powering on through. I simply couldn’t stop!
This piercingly intimate portrayal of Nazi Germany, narrated by the voice of death and following the life of a German foster child, is beautifully written and unforgettable. I am always moved by themes like the power of words and/or books and how they can change lives so dramatically—for better or for worse. The Book Thief manages to delicately embody the charming magnificence of childhood while illustrating the gravity of wartime tragedy. It’s as if each moment of the book simultaneously holds exquisite beauty and searing heartbreak. But all in all, it’s a story of grace, resilience, and the power of words. I absolutely loved it.
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