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Reviews Written by
Peggy Vincent "author and reader" RSS Feed (Oakland, CA)

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Sihpromatum - Backpacks and Bra Straps
Sihpromatum - Backpacks and Bra Straps
Price: $6.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 15-yo girl on 4-year backpacking trip around world, April 6, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This is the 2nd book of the series, and I wish I'd started w the first one.
However, Backpacks and Bra Straps can be read as a stand-alone book. You gain enough insight into the family dynamics to realize that a messy divorce has taken place, and Mom has hauled her 15-yo daughter (the author) out of school to backpack as long as they can make their money last - which turns out to be 4 years. Also along for the ride are an older brother and sister (and briefly a friend of the middle child). The brother, Ammon, is the navigator and primary decision-maker about travel details.
This is an amazing mother...I would REALLY like to read HER story!
Savannah is a good writer, and her youth shines through as she is somewhat reluctantly dragged through a few of the 'stan countries, Russia, China, and ultimately Tibet/Nepal where the 5 hike above EBC (Everest Base Camp) in darkness to watch the sunrise behind the great mountain.
Complaining, laughing, eating weird and repetitious food, dealing w the inevitable tummy/bathroom - squat toilet issues, moldy blankets in rooms of yak dunk or communal dormitories...adventures aplenty.
I'll read the other two books, for sure!


The Island
The Island
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $11.24

4.0 out of 5 stars good read., April 6, 2016
This review is from: The Island (Kindle Edition)
Historical fiction is a fascinating way to allow oneself to be spoonfed history without actually having to read a history book, and The Island was no exception.
It's a very loose story of a mismatched couple and a mother of the woman in the couple who has never shared her Greek past with her daughter.
7/8 of the book, perhaps more, is the story of that missing piece of history: around the time of the Second World War, leprosy struck two women, a mother and daughter, about 20 years apart. They were banished to Spinalonga, a small leper colony off the coast of Crete (which was in operation from the Twenties to the Fifties, when it was closed because a cure for the disease having been found. The book is primarily a fictional imagining of their not-horrible life on that island.
Other tragedies struck the family as well: adultery, murder...
I found the beginning and ending sections contrived, as if the author felt it necessary to ground the book in the current time frame...and I could have done without it.
Otherwise, good read.


Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe
by Bill Bryson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.26
400 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars not the best of his, April 6, 2016
Okay...not the best of his.
Sometimes he seems to be pushing the exaggeration, and perhaps this is one of those times.
Still, his sense of humor, his love of people, adventure, and life, and his ability to stand aside and see things from his own unique perspective shines through.


U is for Undertow: A Kinsey Millhone Novel
U is for Undertow: A Kinsey Millhone Novel
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $7.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm..., March 29, 2016
This one was great...until it wasn't.
I was about 25 pages from the end, wondering how she could wrap things up so neatly...and the answer is: she didn't.
The ending was foreordained from about the mid-point, but abrupt and clumsy in its rendering... with Millhone having not much to do with the downplayed finale at all.
And I see virtually no tie to the title, which is highly unusual for this author.
Not my fave.


Lizzie's War: A Novel (Plus)
Lizzie's War: A Novel (Plus)
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $10.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful and honest...and so well-written., March 28, 2016
Farrington's ability to write inside the head of many disparate characters makes me green with envy. Ditto for his terrific dialogue.
I am so happy to have discovered this author and his talented writing.
Every character is finely drawn, realistically portrayed with warts and flaws included...ranging from a Marine under fire in Vietnam, his pregnant wife (Lizzie) and 4 kids left at home, and the local priest who is wrestling with his own demons.
The era, late Sixties, is beautifully rendered it all its complexity.
Love, birth, life, death, guilt, longing, doubt, faith...it's all there.


Night Heron
Night Heron
Offered by Hachette Book Group
Price: $3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Dry-mouthed here, after reading the final 40-ish pages, March 19, 2016
This review is from: Night Heron (Kindle Edition)
Yikes...!!!
One of the most gripping spy novels I've ever read.
An escaped prisoner spent 20 years in what amounts to a Chinese gulag...escapes, and threatens an old accomplice, now highly placed in Chinese politics, w exposure unless he releases some documents that will enable the escaped prisoner to broker a deal w British Intelligence to get him out of China.
Then there is Mangan, a journalist, unwillingly forced into the role as middleman.
7/8 of the book is riveting setup for the final 1/8...the details (harrowing) of their attempted escape.
Yowzers!!!


God Loves Haiti: A Novel
God Loves Haiti: A Novel
by Dimitry Elias Léger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.64
80 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars I would read it again. In fact, I probably will., March 19, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Debut novel, based on fact (the devastating earthquake in Haiti; the names of the past presidents; events after the quake; geographical accuracy), this story of the star-crossed lives of 3 people (the president, his wife, and her lover) is followed in minute detail.
The whole story leads up to the central issue: will Natasha stay with her husband or seek out/find/reunite w her lover. The answer is unexpected.
Exquisite writing with many moments of levity, probably mirroring the attitude of the Haitian people throughout time, as well as during the immediate aftermath of the quake that reduced the capital city and much of the surrounding parts of the island with such devastation that the dead numbered around 200,000 and were carried to mass burials in dump trucks and bucket loaders.
While the book is not magical realism, there is something in the style of writing and the weaving in and out of time that reminds me of some of the best of that genre.
Incandescent writing.
Many unforgettable characters.
Enchanting epilogue.
I would even read this book again.


Room
Room
by Emma Donoghue
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.93
349 used & new from $2.22

5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping...hold onto your hats there in the middle, March 14, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Room (Paperback)
Just saw the movie last night, so i checked: sure enough, I never wrote a review of the book.
I thought it was a brilliantly successful to tell a terrible story in the voice of an innocent child who has lived all 5 years of his life w his young kidnapped mother in a locked garden shed w a skylight.
His whole world is inside those 4 walls.
I won't say more for fear of spoiling this excellent story for those who haven't read it yet...
But I've gotta say it has one of the scariest scenes ever written...so much so that I asked my husband to come sit with me while I got through it.
Tour de force writing.


Pharmax - HLC Immunity + Pro - 30 Sachets
Pharmax - HLC Immunity + Pro - 30 Sachets
Offered by UltimateVitality
Price: $31.35
8 used & new from $31.35

3.0 out of 5 stars Meh, March 12, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
My husband swears by this stuff.
It doesn't do anything for me.


A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father
A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father
by Augusten Burroughs
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.12
306 used & new from $0.01

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The story before Running with Scissors, March 12, 2016
Running with Scissors revealed most of Burroughs harrowing adolescence.
A Wolf at the Table reveals what came before he turned 12 and was turned over to a truly nutty psychiatrist with bizarre methods of 'helping' children and adults.
It is a close study of Burrough's father and Burrough's relentless attempts to get his father to 'see' him, to acknowledge him, and most of all to love him...all of which failed, including the final interaction when the father was on his deathbed.
The writing, of course, is excellent, but I feel Burrough's writes better when he uses his adult voice. His attempts to write from his perspective (and with the language) of himself as a young child felt a little studied...like he was trying just a couple of degrees too hard to make it work. My 'enjoyment' of the book improved as he grew each year older...and I also trusted his memory more, the older he grew.
While his father wasn't relentlessly physically abusive of him, the degree of emotional abuse and threat and terrorization made my heart race. I had to blink and look away: it was just too raw and harrowing. As Burroughs realized later, his father played cruel and terrifying mind games on him (and on Burrough's mother) his whole life.
A searing portrait of a very dangerous mad, from the son who lived through it, endured, prospered...but never really healed. Those kinds of scars are too deep, and the misery seeps out with the pus now and then, I'm sure.
I have nothing but admiration for Burroughs and his life's trajectory.
And he's a hell of an awesome writer.


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