Profile for Cariola > Reviews

Browse

Cariola's Profile

Customer Reviews: 125
Top Reviewer Ranking: 48,425
Helpful Votes: 302




Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Cariola "malfi" RSS Feed (Chambersburg, PA USA)
(VINE VOICE)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13
pixel
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars while I love stories with multiple narrators, February 28, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I have to admit that it took me a long, long time to engage with this novel. The first half is incredibly slow-moving, and, while I did end up liking the book, it could have had the same effect if it had been about 150 pages shorter. In addition, while I love stories with multiple narrators, the use of multiple narrators AND switching back and forth in time made it unnecessarily convoluted. On the basis of comments from LT friends who said the book got much better after the first half or so, I stuck it out to the end. While I can't say that 'All the Light We Cannot See' will be one of my top reads of the year, on the whole, I was glad that I stayed with it.

The novel's two main characters are Werner, a German orphan with a talent for radio electronics, and Marie-Laure, the blind daughter of a French museum's lock master, both of whom are about 13 years old when the chronological story begins. When Werner's aptitude is uncovered, he is thrilled to have an opportunity better than working in the mines, Werner ignores the twinges of his conscience and follows all orders--even those that ultimately destroy his best friend.

When the Germans invade Paris, Marie-Laure and her father flee to the seaside town of Saint-Malo, where her reclusive great-uncle Etienne lives. Her father may carry with him the museum's most valuable jewel, a large diamond known as the Sea of Flames--or he may be carrying one of four replicas of the diamond. For me, the Saint-Malo chapters were the most engaging in the book, mainly because of the well-developed characters and relationships.

Into the mix comes a cancer-ridden German officer charged with finding and bringing back to Berlin the treasures of the France--including the Sea of Flames.

That's all I will say about the plot, aside from the fact that, as one would expect, these characters inevitably come face-to-face with one another. I might have rated this book a bit higher if my expectations had been a little lower, and if the exposition chapters hadn't been quite so plodding. Still, 'All the Light We Cannot See' is a worthwhile and at times very moving book.

If Amazon allowed half stars, this book would merit 3.5 from me.


Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, the Woman behind Benedict Arnold's Plot to Betray America
Treacherous Beauty: Peggy Shippen, the Woman behind Benedict Arnold's Plot to Betray America
Price: $14.39

2.0 out of 5 stars Very Disappointing, February 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Overall, I found this biography to be disappointing. The authors' sole point was to conclude that Peggy Shippen, wife of Benedict Arnold, was a key figure in his treason plot. Once they made the point, there wasn't much for them to do aside from repeat it and repeat the same evidence from letters over and over. All we really learn about Peggy is that she was a Philadelphia belle, pretty and lively and admired by British spy John Andre, and that, as a wife, she proved to have a good head for figures and household management. When Arnold's treachery was uncovered, she either went temporarily mad or feigned madness in order to escape detection of her role in the plot. Eventually, she was given a choice: go back to your father's house in Philadelphia, or join Arnold in the British enclave in New York; she chose the latter. (Arnold came across as particularly despicable in this account, not only plotting to betray the patriots and possibly set up the capture of Washington, but constantly plaguing the British with demands for more cash in return for his efforts, even years after the war for independence ended.) The couple and their children moved to London, but Arnold, forever the speculator, moved them to Canada in hopes of cashing in on a land scheme. It didn't work, and they headed back to London, where Peggy lived until her death.

Only about 60% of the book is composed of actual biography; the rest is a long list of acknowledgements, an even longer bibliography, and a long index. The whole thing could easily have been covered in a monograph, if not a 30-40 page article.


Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America
Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but Flawed, February 12, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is not the first novel I've read based on the true story of Mary Rowlandson, a Puritan woman who survived a brutal Indian attack on Lancaster, MA, only to be taken into captivity, along with three of her children. While I did enjoy Amy Belding Brown's rendering well enough, I have to say that it is not as good as Debra Larsen's lovely, poetic book, 'The White'.

I don't want to give away too much of the plot for those who aren't familiar with Rowlandson's story. Suffice it to say that, just as she is becoming accustomed to life as a slave and beginning to appreciate the Nipmucs' ways, she is ransomed and returned home--and the readjustment is not an easy one. At the urging of Increase Mather, the real-life Mary wrote down the details of her tribulations, intended to show the prevailing goodness of the Lord. In Brown's revision, Mary strikes a significant bargain with Mather in exchange for her memoir, which he publishes with extensive revisions to suit his own purposes.

A few things about the novel don't quite ring true, and, in fact, Brown affixed an author's note at the end to explain them. Still, making Mary an early abolitionist and Native American sympathizer (as well as something of a feminist upon her return) seems imposed to engage contemporary readers. These elements stick out as artificial and out of place. I also felt that some of the characters nearly went beyond stereotype and into caricature. The worst of these is Mary's husband Joseph, a harsh Puritan preacher who yammers on about God's will continually and in the most inappropriate circumstances, to the point that he isn't left with a single human quality. While it's true that the Puritans were a rather straight-laced bunch, let it not be forgotten that they were among the first in England to advocate companionate marriage--the idea that one should marry for love and companionship rather than money, the engendering of heirs, and financial and political alliances.

Overall, 'The Flight of the Sparrow' is an interesting look at a time and place often overlooked by fiction writers--but it's not without its flaws, which are hard to overlook.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 13, 2015 9:52 AM PST


Calphalon Nylon Utensils Ladle
Calphalon Nylon Utensils Ladle
Offered by Rockbottom Deals
Price: $14.11
8 used & new from $8.60

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Ladle, January 22, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
I bought this ladle about a year ago and liked it so well that I bought another. I need two during soup season! Love the deep bowl.


Outline: A Novel
Outline: A Novel
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $12.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Concept, January 22, 2015
This review is from: Outline: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
Outline begins when a woman on a plane bound for Athens is prodded into conversation by the man sitting next to her who narrates the history of his failed marriages. We learn that the never-named woman, a writer, has been invited to teach a creative writing course; her Greek students will all write their short stories in English. Each of the nine subsequent chapters is also told as a conversation, and it's a bit of fun to look for the links between them ("tension" and failed marriages being just two of them). The connections between them indeed fall into the shape of an outline, the kind you made in elementary school, where each main idea cascades into a set of subtopics which, in turn, are broken into their parts. This is a novel where the connections between parts are more significant than the chain of events (which is, in fact, simply the narrator listening to other people's narratives). It's a risky experiment, but Cusk pulls it off quite well.

All of the narrators are a bit self-indulgent and self-aggrandizing, and some are more likable than others. I found most interesting the writing students' descriptions of their stories--all of them based on memories--written in response to an assignment to write a story with an animal in it. As we watch the visiting author listening to these almost one-sided conversations, we learn much about her as well.

Overall, Outline is a clever, inventive, and finely written novel.
Edit | More


Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery
Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery
DVD ~ Nathaniel Parker
Price: $17.37
17 used & new from $13.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Putrid. Simply Putrid., January 4, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This was a REAL dud. I bought it as a Christmas gift for my brother, who loves the Gamache series. I haven't read the books, but the acting was horrible, the script was worse, and all through it, my brother kept making comments about how the characters were nothing like in the book. At one point he said that Louise Penny would probably have a fit if she ever saw this--but she was one of the producers, going on in the features about how wonderful the film adaptation was. If you think Hallmark films are awful, well,they should be up for an Emmy or Oscar compared to this drek.


Georgiana Darcy's Diary: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice continued (Pride and Prejudice Chronicles Book 1)
Georgiana Darcy's Diary: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice continued (Pride and Prejudice Chronicles Book 1)
Price: $0.00

3.0 out of 5 stars Fluffy Romance, January 4, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Midway through my post-Christmas visit with family, I was in need of some serious fluff, and this book supplied it. As the title makes apparent, it focuses on Georgiana, Darcy's sister (who, as we learn in Pride and Prejudice, had been rescued from the dreadful fate of eloping with George Wickham), and takes the form of a diary. Darcy and Elizabeth have been married for almost a year, and Aunt de Bourgh has been parading eligible young men through Pemberly in hopes of finding a suitable match for Georgiana, who reveals in her diary that her heart belongs to her cousin Col. Fitzwilliam, an early suitor for Elizabeth's hand. Unfortunately, he seems to still consider Georgiana, now 18, as a child.

In the course of the novel, Georgiana develops a spine and even helps her cousin Anne de Bourgh to find one as well. And, of course, there is a happy ending for all.

The author's forward informs us that she chose the diary form as she had no intention of trying to replicate Austen's style, and that worked fairly well. While I can't say that I'll be rushing out to buy the rest of the series, I'll keep it in mind the next time I need a little fluff in my life.


Welding with Children: Stories
Welding with Children: Stories
Offered by Macmillan
Price: $7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Southern Quirkytgcf, January 4, 2015
The eleven stories here are set primarily in the deep South (Louisiana, to be specific), with a few exceptions. Gautreaux develops a wonderful sense of local color and community. Most of the characters are poor, uneducated, and flawed, struggling along against the tide. There's the grandfather babysitting his four daughters' four illegitimate children (two of whom have the fabulous names of Tammynette and Moonbean--not a misspelling); the elderly widow who tries to talk a burglar out of robbing and/or killing her while plying him with food; the priest who gets into more than one scrape for being unable to say no; the one-time heiress, aging and lonely, who befriends her piano tuner and ends up playing in a hotel lounge; and many many more. Gautreaux is a fine writer indeed, and I will undoubtedly seek out more of his work. (As a side note, I'm now reading Burning Bright a collection by Ron Rash, which rather pales in comparison.)


Territorial Rights: A Novel
Territorial Rights: A Novel
Price: $7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Spark Charms Again, January 4, 2015
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Another witty tangle of characters and events from Muriel Spark. Everyone in the novel is hiding something, often a secret identity or mysterious past. Robert, a young art student (or is he a male prostitute?), has just arrived in Venice, supposedly to complete his studies, having just broken off a complicated but unexplained relationship with Curran, a wealthy American art dealer. He no sooner arrives at the Pensione Sofia than he runs into his father--and a female companion. Back in England, Robert's mother, suspecting that her husband's travel companion is more than a colleague, contacts a private investigator--but her friend Grace decides to do her own detective work, arriving in Venice with Leo, a much younger man, in tow. Meanwhile, Robert's Bohemian artist girlfriend Lena Pancek, a Bulgarian defector, is trying to find out where the body of her father, a revolutionary, is buried; rumor has it he was killed in Vanice. Even the elderly sisters who run the Pensione Sofia seem to have something to hide. The fun is in the many crossed paths, unexpected twists, and slow unravelling.


The Air We Breathe: A Novel
The Air We Breathe: A Novel
Price: $9.82

3.0 out of 5 stars Romance in the Sanitarium (Plus a LOT of Science), November 15, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
'The Air We Breathe' is narrated by an unnamed patient residing in a sanatorium in the Adirondacks as the first World War approaches. The patients, all of whom suffer from tuberculosis, have been sent here by the state; most of them are poor immigrants, many of them Jews, Russians, and Germans. Because of the healthful environment, many private homes in the area also cater to wealthier TB victims. One such home is run by Mrs. Martin, with the help of her teenage daughter, Naomi. When one of her tenants decides to start a Wednesday learning circle at the state institution, the story is set into motion.

Although Miles's lectures on fossils initially bore the men, the Wednesday group flourishes when others share their expertise and life stories. There's Ephraim, a communal apple farmer; Irene, the Russian radiologist; and Leo, a former chemist who attracts the romantic interest of both Naomi and her friend Eudora, an aide at the sanitorium who longs to follow in Irene's footsteps. Meanwhile, Miles has fallen in love with Naomi, who has been serving as his driver. As one would expect, conflicts develop from misplaced romantic notions, and even the serene town of Tamarack Lake is not immune to the effects of the rising war in Europe and the political fallout at home.

Barrett is often praised for bringing science and technology into her novels, and there are lengthy sections here on chemistry, radiology, fossils, etc. I have to admit that, while I was engaged with the characters, I found the science rather awkwardly integrated and intrusive: it felt like the author was writing a novel to expound on scientific topics rather than writing a novel in which science plays a role.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-13