Another entertaining look at life and history from one of my favorite writers. Walking through the English parsonage he calls home, Bryson explores the history and uses of homes themselves, and many of the minutiae in them.
While parts of the bathroom and bedroom had a strong "ick" factor, his explorations of the 19th and early 20th century --explorers, inventors, thinkers, the Industrial Revolution --was fabulous, and invites the reader to read further about people or inventions of particular interest, with excellent bibliographic references.
Finished last night on the way home. The reader did a marvelous job with the many characters and accents!
Absolutely lovely slice of life in modern Africa (the Rwandan city of Kigali), in a series of vignettes that unfold as people come to Angel to order a cake for some occasion in their lives. From the wife of the Tanzanian minister, to American aid workers and educators, a Rwandan soldier who was pressed into the conflict as a boy, an Indian professor and his germaphobe wife, Kenyans, South Africans, and more, you get a sense of the polyglot nature of the city, a soft-focus picture of what all of these people have witnessed, and a sense of the hope and renewal they are feeling.
Angel herself, not well-educated but with an instinctive wisdom, plays consultant, matchmaker, peacemaker, negotiator of water bills, and mother to her five orphaned grandchildren, as well as the rest of her neighborhood. She doesn't seem to realize that she is the beloved center of her community.
I loved the humor and tone of this book, and the chance to see into Africa in this way. I loved the snippets of languages (people in Kigali, even the least educated, speak multiple languages at least in part, in order to interact). There is Swahili, Kenyawandan, English, French, Africaans, and a host of funny-sweet-sensible colloquialisms which are easily understood, such as Angel's assurance to her clients of confidentiality "because I am a Professional Somebody."
And there is cooking! Each of Angel's cakes is as unique as the person who ordered it. The family's excitement over scoring a bag of freshly-caught grasshoppers, and preparation of them for an evening feast (remove the legs, boil for a few minutes, then coat and fry) reminds me of a soft-shell crab or shrimp fry in the U.S. and actually made me want to try them.
Eye-opening, rewarding read and an enjoyable treat. Highly recommended.
Highly enjoyable whodunit, howdunit, wasitdun plot, powered by some excellent bits of art history, and the techniques of forgery.
The romance was a bit flat, but all of the art stuff was fascinating.
You have been warned. I nearly caused several accidents and finally had to turn off this collection until I got home.
You see, you are going to be bawling. Tears of incredible joy. You won't be able to help yourself. In fact, I dare you not to. And if you do not cry, you just might not have a heart; best see a doctor.
This is an incredibly moving collection of conversations, recollections, tributes, and memories. Of ordinary, extraordinary people. God bless the StoryCorps, and all of the beautiful stories it is collecting. What a treasure.
I protest, ARGH, boo, durnit, it's a cliffhanger!! Why didn't somebody warn me?!
Of course it's good stuff; it's Connie Willis. We've got three historians stranded in England in WWII, mostly in the middle of the blitz, with their time-travel portals out of commission. Slowly, slowly, wounded or burdened or hampered by the privations and inconveniences of war, they are making their way toward each other. And just as they come together, still wondering what is wrong with the drop portals, another historian comes through a fresh drop site in St Paul's underground station. Bombs begin to hit all around him...
and the book concludes, telling you to go get the next one, All Clear.
Katherine Kellgren is a marvelous reader, but the recording quality has her a bit shrill; I'm wishing there were bass/treble adjustments on my mp3 player to compensate.
If I had known that I'd spend 18 hours building to a cliffhanger, when I can't get the next book for weeks, I would have planned differently. I could not be more frustrated than just at the moment.
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, it's really well-written social satire and dark comedy, and on the other, it's like women who wear unrelieved black all the time. You wish they'd throw a bright scarf over it sometimes, to lighten things up.
Book clubs would love this one; much to discuss. The very smallness of the concerns of self-satisfied small-town residents, NIMBY, generational gaps in understanding, the way she NAILED teen attitudes and obsessions, and the nuances of marriage and other relationships.
I didn't love it, but it certainly was a GOOD book. If you know what I mean.
Not so magical as King's Judgement of Paris or Brunelleschi's Dome, this is still a lovely art history report.
At times you'll wonder at the way it seems to jump from topic to topic (from wars and alliances between Italian dukedoms and Charles of France, one is suddenly discussing human flight, party tricks for bored courtiers, the chemistry of paint on fresco, or the Fibonacci sequence), until you realize that King has allowed you a glimpse into the mind of the brilliant Leonardo, and the way so many subjects preyed upon his ravenous attention simultaneously. It's the one truly inspired aspect of this narrative, and very well done.
It's impossible to review this book in any depth without spoiling one of the numerous plot twists. It's a thriller, it's riveting, it's readable and totally engaging.
As a water-cooler or book club discussion focus, this book is a gold mine. Insights into marriage? Check. Point of view switching? Check. Unreliable narrator(s)? Check. Also do-I-like-them-or-not characters, will s/he won't s/he, oh-no-you-DIDN'T, and much more, handled with adroit skill by former Entertainment Weekly reviewer Gillian Flynn.
The woman is a helluva novelist.
Andy Dahl is a newly-assigned ensign on the Universal Union's flagship in the star fleet, the Intrepid, in the year 2400-something. He and his fellow ensigns soon learn that new crew members of the Intrepid, especially when on Away Team missions, or if they happen to be present on decks 6 through 12 if the ship is under attack, have a near-100% mortality rate. Rather than take this with the fatalism of the more seasoned crew members, Dahl investigates.
It seems the Intrepid and its crew are actually the stars of a television show written in 2012, and when The Narrative takes over, they are helpless to control their actions, and are swept along in it. He develops a bold plan to go back in time from 2400 to 2012, and stop the Hollywood production of the show that runs their lives.
Obviously, for you Star Trek fans out there, this is an entire book based on the very old fan adage, that the poor characters wearing the Red Shirts on that show (usually ensign rank), always died first on Away missions or in battle. It's the cleverest danged thing I've read, well, since the last John Scalzi book I read. Loved it.
Loved it, loved it. Funny, clever, action-packed, and yet it still found time for sweet and poignant moments as well.
This is wonderfully read by Wil Wheaton, and includes the bonus of the original story, Little Fuzzy, on which Scalzi based this book. Bang for your buck.
Light and easy reading, a thoughtful book about intersecting lives in London, with a bit of romance, a bit of humor, and some likable characters.
Warning: the narrator is a bit loud and shrill.
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