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Mr. August "Literature lover" RSS Feed (Highland Park, IL)

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My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel
My Name Is Lucy Barton: A Novel
by Elizabeth Strout
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.77

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stellar Fictional Memoir, November 18, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lucy Barton is a woman seeking connections and reality. She is magnificent, as only Strout could create her. Rooted in poverty in a small town in Illinois, she is one of three children, and she is always cold. She lives with her dubious parents in a rented garage and then a home, both freezing cold. She is shunned at school, and not just slightly by the other kids, but teachers treat her as trash, because she is poor, stunningly poor.

Lucy is different than her siblings. She figures it out early. She knows if she reads and does her homework, somehow she will move up. Well, at least she will stay warm, a kindly janitor allows her to study in a warm classroom after everyone has left as far into the late day as possible. Lucy is so cold; she often cannot sleep at night.

This pervasive coldness becomes a guide throughout the story. Strout introduces us to the adult Lucy in a New York hospital, recovering from an appendectomy that will not heal. Her husband, William, easily accepts the responsibility of their two daughters. Lucy’s mother comes to visit, she has not seen her in years, and Strout moves us back and forth through her life as her mother sits in a chair, does not sleep for five days while droning on about people in their town, who Lucy may or may not remember. No matter how her father and mother treated her, Lucy needs her Mommy.

The plot is negligible; it simply serves as a plateau for the character sketch. The dialogue gives us the cornerstone to Lucy’s family life. Written in the first person, we experience repetition often, did these events really occur? What happened in the Barton home is vague, there are sexual secrets and there is an awful scene of Lucy locked in a truck all day – I could almost hear her screams of fear and desperation.

Lucy marries well, she is financially secure finally but she is alone, her isolation is palpable. I could feel her solitude; the loneliness was “the first flavor I had tasted in my life.”

Lucy evolves and she makes some connections but her past restricts her. Despite her mother’s presence, a sense of disgust pervades the interactions. She is treated normally as a patient, especially her kindly doctor, a father figure, I presume. Brilliantly, however, Strout contrasts this normalcy with the terrors, the reader is well aware that there were unspeakable horrors. This book is chilling and marvelous. I could not put it down. I liked it as much as Olive Kitteredge; Strout is a master at characterization. In the poignant ending, we find that in order to express love, one must forgive. Not an easy task. I highly recommend this superb narrative.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 21, 2015 2:15 PM PST

Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta)
Depraved Heart: A Scarpetta Novel (Kay Scarpetta)
by Patricia Cornwell
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.37
98 used & new from $11.50

3.0 out of 5 stars Good But Not Great Thriller - 3.5 stars, November 17, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Patricia Cornwell had been ahead of her time. She introduced forensic research before any of us heard of the CSI TV show. This book is the 25th anniversary of Dr. Kay Scarpetta series and maybe because she’s been around so long, her stories are becoming a bit thin.

I didn’t dislike the book but it lacked the punch of the earlier books, or maybe because back then, a forensic medical examiner and detective were groundbreaking, the stories were innovative.

This particular plot begins about two months after her last book, Flesh and Blood ended. We find Kay working a case of a probable murder when she receives a text from her niece, Lucy, with a video link. This link provides the reader with Lucy’s background and her history at the FBI academy. So the story is set up for the mystery. This technological ambush of Lucy can ruin her life. Kay must find answers before the wrong lives are ruined. There are enough twists and turns in the book to make it interesting, but her plots have become hackneyed and somewhat dull.

Our radical technology has ruined many lives and created apps for killers and left our world in a more dangerous situation. Thinking of recent events (Paris, Berlin, Russian airliner), advanced technology played a big part. No one can be trusted. Cornwell’s research is apparent but her plot did not leave me excited or bemused.

Eleanor: A Novel
Eleanor: A Novel
by Jason Gurley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.26

4.0 out of 5 stars Leaping Into the Darkness, November 15, 2015
This review is from: Eleanor: A Novel (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Jason Gurley started writing this book in 2001 and finished in 2014. The book reflects meticulous writing and careful editing. This story starts in the 1960's with Eleanor who has a daughter, Agnes, and is married to Hob, who loves her very much. There is a marked age difference; Eleanor is younger and she is a talented swimmer. The extending scenes and paranormal science/fantasy involve water, lots of water.

Agnes later marries Paul and they have twin girls and the profound mechanics of the theme and plot are etched into every page. Presenting any specifics of the story would give away too much, but suffice it to say that this is a story of depression, significant tragedy and everlasting love. We are moved from reality to places of dreams and startling imagery. The reader learns about fear of motherhood, not parenting, the delicate balance of marriages emphasizing the power of love of husbands and children.

The symbolism and personification in many scenes illuminate the fears, loves and the palpable losses. The tragedies in this novel and the need to escape their realities in paramount. Gurley fleshed out each character, not one aspect of their character is in question. It is a narrative of a broken family and many readers should connect with on a higher level.

I respect Gurley's writing and his story line, sometimes predictable, remained unique in many ways. I found the book, however, too long, and some of the scenes seemed endless and repetitive. For those readers who love sci-fi and deep family dramas, this book is worth the read.

Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli
Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the Jewish Deli
by Ted Merwin
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.32
37 used & new from $16.66

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cult Status, November 15, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is an unusual history of the Jewish Deli in America. In addition to its mouth-watering, cholesterol laden food, delis were a place to meet your friends, business associates and make a Jewish connection.

The New York delis, like Katz's in Manhattan - think of the movie "When Harry Met Sally." and the fake orgasm scene, represent the best of the old time delis and the sense of belonging to a group. Forget the synagogue, the deli surpassed it as meeting place. The author contends that delis flourished in the interwar era, when successful Jews found a place to reunite with their heritage. Ted Merwin believes that the deli is experiencing a resurgence and developing a cult status. That may be true, but it's hard to find a good deli in most American cities and never, ever in small, rural towns! This book is about New York and is well researched. Store Card Store Card

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Sure I Trust This Card Anymore, November 11, 2015
I did like the card but today I received a very sketchy e-mail from them, reviewing my account and asking for my income! What is that all about? I've been a customer for years. Now, I am wary of their terms. I never had a problem before Synchrony (sp)? Bank. At least the review led me to Amazon site. If I detect any unusual actions or receive another e-mail asking me for other "information,", I will cancel.

The Widow
The Widow
by Fiona Barton
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.69

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Book is Worth the Buzz, November 5, 2015
This review is from: The Widow (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was anxious to read this book not only because of the hype, but the author’s experiences, as a journalist would provide credibility to the analysis and vulnerability of The Widow. Based on these assumptions, the reader can devour three books for the price of one. The story is told in three versions: Detective Bob Sparkes, reporter Kate Waters and the widow, Jean Taylor. Jean is the widow of the accused kidnapper, Glen Taylor, who has been turned into a monster by the media and the “nutters.” An American reader will have no trouble identifying with the police and the impact of social and print media.

A child is missing; she is two years old and has the beautiful name of Bella. She is the daughter of a single mother who apparently was not watching her when she was outside alone. Glen Taylor becomes the suspect, accused by the police, who conduct a meticulous case – up to a point.

Jean is our main concern; the most interesting and off-kilter narrative comes from her. She is obsessed with having children but she cannot conceive because Glen’s sperm count is essentially at zero. She longs for a child and the reader could surmise that Glen stole the child for his wife. But Glen has his own demons; he is also controlling and unable to keep a good job. His need for power and other affectations are troubling. Jean speaks of him to us after he has died, killed by a bus. She tells us of her life, his brutal trial and living with him on a day-to-day basis.

The intrusion of the media is prominent. The Taylors cannot walk out of their home without being accosted; police and the press surround Jean, even after Glen’s death. Her explanation of their marriage, her summation of his proclivities and her surprising movement from timidity to assertiveness makes this novel a winner.

It is a compelling story; Ms. Barton’s structure and literary techniques provide us with sharp glimpses into their lives. We are meant to be confused while we are drawn into Jean’s placid life. When I believe she is aimless, the widow surprises me with a plan.

A secondary character, Dawn Elliot, the mother of the missing child enhances the story. She represents someone who makes poor choices to fulfill her basic needs. Kate Waters is a veteran reporter who knows how to play the game; she is a pro. DI Sparkes is fixated on the case and he suffers for his fanatical work. Because the characters are flawed and question their own motives, the book becomes more relevant. Barton has enough confidence that if the reader does not like her characters, she knows it will make a better thriller.

This novel is a wonderful page-turner, well written and full of twists. I believe it will attract a wide audience. I have already casted the roles for the film!

La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Dark Circle Eye Cream, 0.5 fl. oz.
La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Dark Circle Eye Cream, 0.5 fl. oz.
Price: $42.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Dark Circles Continue to Flourish, November 4, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not sure how La Roche can claim this product reduces the dark circles. I thought the metal applicator was the revolutionary process plus maybe the caffeine. Not so. It may be used as a concealer and, as such, it's not light enough for me. I tried it several times, morning and night and found no difference. I added a concealer on top of this product and it seemed to work better but, honestly, I couldn't tell if it was the combination of the two with the added enhancement of another texture.

The pigmenatclar has a smooth texture and the actual case is sturdy and of high quality. Unfortunately, it was not the miracle to erase years of genetics, age or irregular skin tones

The Improbability of Love: A novel
The Improbability of Love: A novel
by Hannah Rothschild
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.37
51 used & new from $13.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Probability of a Lost Work of Art 3.5 stars, October 26, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When I started this book, I thought the author would be delving into the art world with a different angle. I did not expect the banal plot of talented young woman, who is lovelorn, saddled with a alcoholic mother but who just happens to visit a junk store and buys a painting for a a married man she is dating. Naturally, the man does not show up for her wonderful home cooked meal and she again is devastated by another lost possibility of love. Annie, our main character, is a talented cook who never catches a break. Will this painting a turning point?

The painting, of course, is famous and the story opens with the biggest auction ever amassed to sell this work of art. The author presents us with too many buyers and their long, stories and countless escapades. If there are too many buyers, there are too many characters, and Rothschild could have edited their lives down to a faster read. Nothing was that surprising.

The originality of the novel rested on the point of view of the painting. The painting's observations were interesting and somewhat informative, especially when Annie first brought it to her home on the 5th floor of her building. Annie's mother, even during a drunken stupor, noted the elegance of the painting and dragged Annie to learn of its identity and provenance.

The plot thickens, but nothing is too surprising. Annie becomes encumbered with accusations that are, of course, false, but she does meet a good person who cares about her. The plot is straightforward but nothing too surprising. I had to wait until the end of the book, to meet the most interesting character, the plumber’s wife. She brought some honest comedy to the story and the author worked her very well into the denouement.

Guerlain Eyebrow Kit (3x Powder, 1x Highlighter, 1x applicator) - # 00 4g/0.14oz
Guerlain Eyebrow Kit (3x Powder, 1x Highlighter, 1x applicator) - # 00 4g/0.14oz
Offered by MaplePrime
Price: $57.16
4 used & new from $46.06

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classy Eyebrow Kit with Highlighter, October 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is a unique eyebrow kit offering an illuminator for below the brow. I experimented with this applicator and now use the illuminator first (untainted by any color), then apply the second darkest on my eyebrows in one swift stroke. It will look very strange, almost comical, until applying the lightest brown to blend the colors and hairs. Perfecting the way you want your eyebrows to look takes a few hits and misses. But this kit gives you the options of darkening or keeping your eyebrows lighter. I do not use the darkest shade, it is too dark for my brows and skin.

As usual, Guerlain makes a high quality product, the case is well-made with a good clicking sound when closed. There is also a soft bag for the kit to avoid scratches and smudges from other makeup tools.

AHAVA Time to Energize Foam-Free Shaving Cream for Men, 6.8 fl. oz.
AHAVA Time to Energize Foam-Free Shaving Cream for Men, 6.8 fl. oz.
Price: $22.00
4 used & new from $22.00

4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Product Without the Foam, October 21, 2015
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ahava is one of the best brands. The company has a reputation of high quality skin products. This one is no exception. My husband, who is accustomed to foaming creams, noted that the blade went over his beard easily and left his skin soft. The shave was close, and there is an excellent aroma associated with the product. I believe if he were more accustomed to shaving gels, rather than foaming creams, he would have liked it more and could make a more accurate comparison.
I would think women could use it to shave their legs and underarms. The moisturizer additives are a bonus.

Also, I have never used an AHAVA product that did not meet or exceed my needs. It's not junky; I don't understand everything they mix in it, but it reads well!

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