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Susan K. Schoonover "Sue Yingling" RSS Feed (Boulder, CO)
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The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel
The Book of Unknown Americans: A novel
by Cristina Henríquez
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.97
64 used & new from $12.41

4.0 out of 5 stars Hispanic Immigrants In Wilmington, Delaware, July 22, 2014
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THE BOOK OF UNKNOWN AMERICANS turns more than one stereotype about Spanish speaking immigrants to the U.S. on its head while casting a sympathetic and realistic look at the newcomers' problems. The book is told in short chapters by several different voices. All of these voices are immigrants from Latin American who are living in an apartment house in Wilmington, Delaware. Mexico, Panama, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, and Venezuela are among the countries of origin represented.

The book primarily focuses on Arturo, Alma and Maribel Rivera documented immigrants from Mexico. Arturo and Alma's only child the beautiful teenaged Maribel has been behaviorally and intellectually changed as the result of a closed head injury and the small family comes to the USA to seek special education services for her. The Riveras play by the rules and Arturo has secured a job at a mushroom factory in neighboring Pennsylvania before he brings his wife and daughter legally to Delaware. Unfortunately more tragedy strikes the family though they do benefit from the kindness of the other Latino families they meet in their apartment house.

One of the weaknesses of the book is the voices that tell the stories are not very distinct and each in fact sounds about the same despite the diversity of their tales. Maribel is quite disabled and has a romance with a typical teenager which may make some readers uncomfortable. I did like the book and am giving it four stars as the book has great heart and addresses a needed subject though it is far from perfectly wrought.


Everything I Never Told You: A Novel
Everything I Never Told You: A Novel
by Celeste Ng
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.36
57 used & new from $14.52

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tragic Story From 1977 Northwestern Ohio, July 21, 2014
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The premise of the novel, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU involves Lydia a just turned sixteen year old girl who is found drowned in a local lake leaving her family grief stricken and astounded. Lydia's father James is a Harvard educated American History professor at the local college while her mother Marilyn who dropped out of Pre-Med at Radcliffe when she became pregnant has put all her hopes on her oldest daughter and middle child Lydia as she has determined the girl should fulfill her own thwarted dreams. The other members of the family are Nath a high school senior who has been admitted to Harvard and a little sister Hannah who seems to be a bit of an afterthought. The book examines the family's well meaning but dysfunctional dynamics that contributed to this tragedy. Another complicating factor is that James while California born is of Chinese ancestry while Marilyn is a Caucasian from Virginia and both have lost all contact with their families of origin. Blue eyed Lydia was considered the only non white girl in her high school class.

The setting of the novel is a fictional college town in Northwest Ohio, an hour's drive from Toledo, during the spring/summer of 1977. Since I too grew up in Northwest Ohio, sixty miles or so from Toledo, and graduated from high school in 1977 the story resonated strongly with me in several ways. Some reviewers have questioned if prejudice against an ethnically mixed family could really have created such problems for its children in that time and place. I can remember when a family was considered mixed if one parent was raised Catholic and the other Protestant even if the parents currently attended the same denomination as their spouse so sadly that aspect of the story did ring true to me as did the general racism toward people of Asian descent. Author Celeste Ng is also careful to note that Marilyn and James' own lack of social skills created problems for their children as well. EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU is a well written book that is often an uncomfortable read. I am giving the book four stars which it definitely deserves but I can not really say I "liked" the book as it brought up unpleasant feelings and memories.


The Girls from Corona del Mar: A novel
The Girls from Corona del Mar: A novel
by Rufi Thorpe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.15
66 used & new from $14.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Love Of One's Fate, July 19, 2014
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My belief about Corona del Mar is it is rich slice of Orange County, California contained within the larger very upscale city of Newport Beach. According to Rufi Thorpe's new novel THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR during the 1990's there was also a significant population of baby boomer parents down on their luck raising their children in apartments or small houses. Mia the narrator of the book and her best friend Lorrie Ann were two such children of relatively feckless parents.

Both girls become pregnant as teenagers with Mia having an abortion and Lorrie Ann giving up college at Berkeley, marrying her boyfriend, and tragically giving birth to a child with severe cerebral palsy. Mia goes to Yale then later grad school at Michigan where she studies Latin and other classic languages and meets the love of her life a scholar of ancient Sumar and cuneiform. Lorrie Ann's husband is killed as a soldier in the Middle East and after more bad luck and bad decisions she becomes addicted to heroin though that is still not the final chapter of her life.

Rufi Thorpe is a fine writer who really gives vivid, realistic life to both her characters and settings (the book does not all take place in Southern California and India and Istanbul are also well rendered). This is an intelligent, thoughtful book not the quick summer beach read I was expecting from the cover and quick summary I read. There is a lot of talk in the novel about abortion as well as realistic discussions concerning severely disabled children and some other difficult aspects of life so those sensitive to these topics may want to avoid THE GIRLS FROM CORONA DEL MAR though for the interested the book is well worth reading.


Next Life Might Be Kinder
Next Life Might Be Kinder
by Howard Norman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.71
68 used & new from $7.73

3.0 out of 5 stars Sad, Weird, Story From Nova Scotia, July 16, 2014
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With its intriguing title and enticing first line I was eager to read Howard Norman's novel NEXT LIFE MIGHT BE KINDER. Set in Nova Scotia during the 1970's the book consists of several short titled chapters that are narrated by the major character Sam. Sam is a widower who is being haunted by his murdered wife. Much of the book details Sam's meeting with his therapist. NEXT LIFE MIGHT BE KINDER manages to be both quirky and very sad and depressing. Though it is competently written I can't give it more than the three star "OK" rating.


Bellweather Rhapsody
Bellweather Rhapsody
by Kate Racculia
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.96
64 used & new from $9.14

3.0 out of 5 stars "Something Rotten In Statewide", July 16, 2014
This review is from: Bellweather Rhapsody (Hardcover)
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BELLWEATHER RHAPSODY is an unusual blend of horror satire, mystery, revenge and coming of age stories. The novel takes place at a large, past its prime hotel in New York state's Catskill Mountains during an early season snow storm. High school musicians from throughout the state of New York have gathered there for a choir and orchestra concert known as "Statewide". Twins seniors Alice an aspiring singer/actress and Rabbit her brother a bassoonist are our major protagonists. Alice is a bit of a diva and Rabbit a nice young man who has not yet acknowledged to his family and friends that he is gay.

In the mix of quirky folks at "Statewide" are a flute playing prodigy with a psychotic mother, Rabbit and Alice's chaperone,Natalie, who has quite a few "issues" in her history, the hotel's delusional concierge who is still haunted by a tragic murder suicide that occurred at the Bellweather exactly fifteen years before, a former promising pianist now missing a few fingers, a plump librarian who was present at the Bellweather's original infamous tragedy and more. Some of these characters are more connected with each than it first appears. If you like quirky characters, have fond and lingering memories of your high school music career, love horror in novels and films and don't mind a dash of satire BELLWEATHER RHAPSODY may be the very book for you. Other potential readers may want to give this one a pass.


The Golem of Hollywood
The Golem of Hollywood
by Jonathan Kellerman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.48

3.0 out of 5 stars Average LA Detective Story With Some Overtones Of Mystical Judaism, July 13, 2014
This review is from: The Golem of Hollywood (Hardcover)
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A combined effort from Jonathan Kellerman who is primarily known for his Dr. Alex Delaware (an LA psychologist) mysteries and his son Jesse an author of five suspense novels that have been received with mixed reviews, THE GOLEM OF HOLLYWOOD is an average thriller with some entertainment value. Unfortunately the book is not as good as the best work of either father or son.

The book has two skeins. The first and major plot is the murder mystery which is reminiscent of Jonathan Kellerman's Delaware series minus Delaware and his usual cohorts. Sadly also missing are the Delaware novels' trademark vivid descriptions of contemporary LA life. There is also the addition of choppier, sparer storytelling then what is usually found in the older Kellerman's books. Anyway our hero for this novel is Jacob Lev an LAPD detective in his early thirty's with a drinking problem who for some reason has been assigned to the boring traffic division. A particularly grisly crime scene (all that is recovered is a man's head and some vomit) has been discovered high in the Hollywood hills and presumably because of a Hebrew word found at the scene that soon mysteriously disappears Jacob, the son of a Jewish scholar, is assigned the case even though he no longer works in the homicide division. More mysteries surround his assignment such as an edict that he must only work from home, a credit card that inexplicably sometimes works and sometimes doesn't and a beautiful woman who he woke up with just prior to this baffling new assignment. Eventually Jacob ties his murdered head to some serial killing cases and to gather more evidence he later travels to Prague and London.

The other skein of the book which is helpfully printed on gray paper to distinguish it from the rest concerns a daughter of Adam and Eve (yes that Adam and Eve) and how she eventually became involved with the creation of the legendary Golem. The sections of this story are sporadically interspersed in to the main murder mystery storyline and the two parts do connect.

Beetles and mud make up major motifs in this novel that seems to aspire to be greater than the final product actually is. I debated between a two and a three for my rating and did round up to a three though frankly this is below the average work for both of the Kellermans. They do plan to continue with this series though as I understand THE GOLEM OF PARIS is slated for next year.


The Sopranos: Season 4 [HD]
The Sopranos: Season 4 [HD]
DVD
Price: $29.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Not The Most Compelling Season But Still Excellent, July 12, 2014
While I think SEASON 4 is a little slower than Season 3 this is still excellent television. If you like THE SOPRANOS and have never watched BREAKING BAD do so.


YazyCraft Multi-colored Dart Balloons 166 count
YazyCraft Multi-colored Dart Balloons 166 count
Offered by YazyCraft
Price: $7.69
2 used & new from $7.69

3.0 out of 5 stars Good For Darts And Other Games Where You Want A Quick Pop, July 11, 2014
These are not the easiest balloons to blow up but it can be accomplished. As other reviewers have said they make great dart balloons as they pop easily. The price seems a bit high considering the quality of the balloons. They do come in a variety of kid friendly colors. I received this product free in exchange for a review.


YazyCraft Decorative Pom-poms for weddings, birthday parties, special events set of 5 Aquatic
YazyCraft Decorative Pom-poms for weddings, birthday parties, special events set of 5 Aquatic
Offered by YazyCraft
Price: $9.99
2 used & new from $9.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Not Easy To Put Together, July 11, 2014
I personally found this to be too much work to put together. The finished product is not worth the time and frustration it takes to assemble. I received this product in exchange for a review.


YazyCraft 45mm Retractable Rotary Cutter
YazyCraft 45mm Retractable Rotary Cutter
Offered by YazyCraft
Price: $14.95
2 used & new from $14.95

4.0 out of 5 stars OK For Cutting Paper, July 11, 2014
This cutter has a sharp knife and a retractable blade. It is best suited for cutting paper on a hard object like a cutting board. While this product works I am not sure how durable it will be as it seems to be somewhat cheaply constructed. I received this product free in exchange for a review.


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