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The Light Between Oceans: A Novel
The Light Between Oceans: A Novel
by M. L. Stedman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.50
203 used & new from $1.70

3.0 out of 5 stars A bit tedious, February 3, 2013
It's the story of a lighthouse keeper, named Tom, who was left traumatised by World War I; his wife, Isabel; and the baby they find washed onto the shore of their isolated island. But the baby doesn't arrive alone. It comes with a corpse in a small rowboat, and there's a question of how to handle the death as well as the child.

Isabel, who believes her purpose in life is to be a mother, has also been scarred by three miscarriages, and she convinces her husband by degrees to keep the baby and raise it as their own. In order to do this, Tom ignores lighthouse protocol, reporting neither the baby's arrival nor the dead man. Instead, he buries the body in a shallow grave, all the while knowing that what he is doing is wrong.

The book pulled me in right from the start, and at first, I couldn't wait to see how things would turn out for Tom, Isabel, and the baby they name Lucy. They eventually find out that Lucy's mother is still alive, but by that time, their family is a solid unit, and though Tom wants to come clean, Isabel argues that confession would be to traumatic for Lucy.

Good points, yes, but there was a little too much back-and-forth about the right thing to do, and, though passage of time is a bit murky in the novel, it is another year before anyone begins to suspect that this happy little family may be harboring secrets.

In the end, this turned out to be the kind of novel that was just good enough not to stop reading. It wasn't something I couldn't wait to get back to, but neither could I give up before everything was resolved. I felt sorry for Tom, who compromises who he is for the woman he loves, and for Lucy, who must ultimately give up the parents she has known and bonded to. But though I got the feeling Stedman wants us to feel sorry for Isabel, I did not. I found her crazy, but not sympathetically so; she was just plain irrational. In fact, I kind of hoped she would die earlier in the narrative.

This might make a good book club book, because there is that interesting moral dilemma for discussion, and it was a fine read, quite quick with an easy prose style suited for summer reading, but it wasn't one I will remember or treasure forever.

This review was originally published at PracticeWhatYouPinterest


Triburbia
Triburbia
by Karl Taro Greenfeld
Edition: Hardcover
101 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, February 3, 2013
This review is from: Triburbia (Hardcover)
Like many books these days, Triburbia is written in what I like to call Welcome to the Good Squad style. It reads less like a linear narrative and more like a collection of interwoven short stories. And the stories revolve around a group of fathers whose only common thread is the school their kids attend. They are men who, for the most part, consider themselves a bit cooler than the general population, among their ranks are a sound engineer, a sculptor, a playwright and a photographer. So they consider themselves somehow different from the bankers, stock brokers and financiers who have moved into their neighborhood and made it trendy. Some of them are rich, and some of them are not, and some of the stories are even written from the point-of-view of the women in their lives.

I kind of got the feeling that these guys were based (however loosely) on real life. There's a guy whose memoir is found to have been falsified; a restaurateur who is expanding his empire and is famous enough to sell cookbooks and appear on TV; a playwright whose work showed promise at one point, but could never follow up on that promise; and a puppeteer, who at one point was involved with a Muppet-like empire. In many ways I felt like these characters were familiar, like I had seen them, or at least parts of them in real life.

Greenfeld does a great job of creating the atmosphere of this neighborhood, and I loved the way that all the lives were sort of intertwined. To be sure, many of the characters had some qualities about them that were not likeable, but I still found empathy for them, and I think that's where Greenfeld excels. There are parts of the novel that made me laugh out loud, and other parts that were quite sad. Overall the writing quality is excellent. The book really captures a period of time in a particular place, and in that way, it's a work of art.

This review was originally published at PracticWhatYouPinterest.


Karen Foster 3D Countdown Calendar, 25 Drawers
Karen Foster 3D Countdown Calendar, 25 Drawers
Price: $12.49
18 used & new from $12.49

4.0 out of 5 stars Nice and sturdy, but small, December 5, 2012
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I really liked the idea of using drawers to make the Advent calendar, but I didn't want to spend a ton of money, plus, I wanted to be able to personalize them to fit our style. I found this set of drawers on Amazon for a little over $15. They're nice, sturdy, and they fit the bill, even though they are really small. The whole set is 8″x8″, so even though he's made of Shrinky Dink, I couldn't fit Santa in there. But everything else fits, so I went with it.

See the finished product on my blog, Practice What You Pinterest. [...]
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2014 8:52 AM PST


Barbie The Princess & the Popstar 2-in-1 Transforming Tori Doll
Barbie The Princess & the Popstar 2-in-1 Transforming Tori Doll
Offered by Best Service Stores
Price: $19.18
60 used & new from $18.00

11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Popstar Princess, November 24, 2012
= Durability:2.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:1.0 out of 5 stars 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
She's a Barbie, and looks like every other Barbie, with two exceptions. First, her skirt was very hard to remove. My seven-year-old needed help with that, in fact, at first we thought it didn't come off at all. And then it turned out that the bodice is painted onto the doll's body. Again, fine, but for many girls, I think the whole point of Barbies is changing the clothes, so in that respect, Tori doesn't work that way. Also, she has a voice box, controlled by a button at her neck that plays a version of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and another song from the Princess and the Popstar video. There is no volume control, so I would say that's a drawback. My daughter seems to like it though, and isn't that what matters?


Seating Arrangements
Seating Arrangements
by Maggie Shipstead
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.36
277 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Summer Read, July 19, 2012
This review is from: Seating Arrangements (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
When a WASPy family converges on a small New England island to celebrate the marriage of one very pregnant daughter, situations get sticky, and sometimes hilarious. The patriarch of the family, Winn Van Meter is going through a bit of a mid-life crisis, and subsequently contemplates acting on the feelings of attraction he has for one of his daughter's bridesmaids. In addition, he can't seem to gain acceptance into the golf club of his dreams. His younger daughter, an aspiring marine-biologist is struggling through her own issues. Couples pair, swing partners around, someone gets hit with a golf cart, and a beached whale proves to have an effect on the entire party. All in all, a fun wedding weekend.

Written in rich, easy flowing prose, Shipstead's style reminded me of Richard Russo. A great light (though not without substance) read for the summer.


The Mirrored World: A Novel
The Mirrored World: A Novel
by Debra Dean
Edition: Hardcover
126 used & new from $0.01

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful novel, July 2, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Debra Dean has written a wonderful historical novel, which I think, is even better than The Madonnas of Leningrad, which I had trouble getting through. This one, The Mirrored Word, I could not put down, and read in about two days.

It tells the story of Russia's St. Xenia, who lived during the reigns of Elizabeth, Paul III, and Catherine the Great. She has a normal childhood, though her father is killed in war, which is when she comes to live with her cousin. The two bond closely, and are brought into the society of the Russian court. Xenia falls in love with one of the court's musicians, and after a few tragic events, begins to slip away from the material world.

Dean does a wonderful job of walking the fine line between madness and holy inspiration, as Xenia leaves everything behind to live among the outcasts, with her cousin Dasha always looking out for her.

The novel was written in beautiful, etherial prose. It reminded me of a cross between Geraldine Brooks' "People of the Book" and Sena Jeter Nasland's "Abundance", both of which were also amazing reads. I also liked that it was a look into a historical period that we don't often see in Western literature, the Imperial Courts of 18th Century Russia.

I can't say enough good things about this book, but I will say this: I have had a REALLY hard time finding something good to read in this year of 50 Shades and Hunger Games, something interesting, with compelling characters and plot, that felt nourishing to my brain as well. The Mirrored World completely took me there, and away to another place and time.


Outline 4D
Outline 4D
Price: $69.56

3.0 out of 5 stars Okay, June 25, 2012
This review is from: Outline 4D (CD-ROM)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It's okay if you are writing a linear plot. Works kind of like a bulletin board. I didn't find that details were easily kept in this version. Also didn't help me to finish by novel more quickly...not that anyone should expect it to do that.


Half Empty
Half Empty
by David Rakoff
Edition: Hardcover
165 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Uneven, June 25, 2012
This review is from: Half Empty (Hardcover)
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like any book of essays, there are some here that rang true for me (such as Rakoff's opener on the positive psychology of today's culture) and others that I couldn't relate as easily to. I had heard Rakoff on NPR and decided to pick up the book. I'm glad that I did. He is at times darkly funny, and at others very honest and moving.


How to Survive the Titanic
How to Survive the Titanic
by Frances Wilson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $21.76
109 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Laborious, June 25, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I found this book hard to get through. The author relies more on sources surrounding Ismay than sources about Ismay himself. Much of the Titanic-related information isn't new, and the other parts are slow-going.


Wonderstruck (Schneider Family Book Award - Middle School Winner)
Wonderstruck (Schneider Family Book Award - Middle School Winner)
by Brian Selznick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.87
134 used & new from $4.55

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as compelling as his previous work, June 21, 2012
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Wonderstruck is Brian Selznick's follow up to the wonderful The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Here Selznick uses the same kinetic format he used in Hugo, mixing prose with illustrations that advance the story even further.

It tells the story of two people living fifty years apart, both of whom want something that is missing from their lives. Ben's story is told in prose, while Rose's is told in illustrations. Their adventures begin when they come upon two curious items (for Ben, it's a strange clue in his mother's bedroom, and for Rose, it's a startling headline) which lead them to run away from home to NYC and the Natural History Museum.

The book was full of adventure, and it was well written, illustrated and enjoyable, but for me, it lacked the emotion pull that drew me into the Invention of Hugo Cabret. Though many reviewers say they finished the book in less than a day, I kind of got lost between reading sessions; it wasn't like I couldn't wait to get back to it. I'm glad I finished it, but overall, it was just okay.


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