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E. M. Carey "LGW" RSS Feed (New York, NY USA)
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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.46
2320 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Pure magic..., August 24, 2007
There is no doubt that the highly-anticipated final book in this magical series will leave some disappointed, some awe-struck, some satisfied. Like many others, I re-read all 6 books prior to this release, wanting to absorb as much as I could and to enjoy the last new Harry Potter as much as possible. I walked away absolutely amazed by Rowling's vision, utterly convinced that she had plotted every inch of this series from the very beginning and that the story had run its natural, organic course with this finale. Seemingly inconsequential details about, say, Harry's appearance--no spoilers here--resonate in major ways in this book. The loose ends are tied up, but not in a way that feels contrived or too neat. Nobody is perfect. The stubborness and anger that emerged in Harry in book 5 are still there--he is nothing if not a typical teenager--and we see the human side of almost every other character. Within the first 50 pages it is clear that this book will not be without major consequences--and deaths. I've always found these books fairly scary, and Deathly Hallows is no exception. Much has been made about the portions of the story without much "action"--they have been called dull, even--but I found those among the most interesting in what they revealed about the characters. I certainly felt that this was a fitting end for Harry, the people in his world and for Rowling. Rowling may not be a great writer, but she is a great storyteller. The richness of the world she has created is amazing. Throughout this series the issue of choices--that we are defined, in many ways, by the choices we make (Harry and Voldemort by their different ones)--has come up again and again. I am sure that I could have chosen to deconstruct this book and harp on an awkward phrase here and there or the epilogue (which some call trite) or many other things that probably make less sense with much close analysis. But I didn't and I won't. Instead, I chose to spend a few more hours in suspense and wonder in this magical world, and it was, well, pure magic.


Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
by Al Franken
Edition: Hardcover
1170 used & new from $0.01

12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, informative and interesting take on the Right, October 11, 2003
Clearly, if you are a big fan of Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, Anne Coulter, Rush Limbaugh and the like, you will not be a big fan of this book. If, however, you enjoyed Franken's earlier efforts, than there will be much to enjoy in this one as well.
The premise of this book is that the media and pundits on the Right have a tendency to distort and, well, lie in their discussions on ... I guess just about everything. Franken and a team of Harvard students set out to debunk much of the deception that they have uncovered with cold hard facts. A lot of the lies they expose are shocking and in many cases pretty funny. And Franken's description of his interactions with various people (such as Paul Wolfowitz and Colmes - of Hannity and Colmes) are really entertaining, making me chuckle out loud many times. Of course, an equal number of times I found it all quite frightening and worrisome and depressing, which somewhat tempered the humor quotient!
Although I did enjoy the book tremendously, I do not think it is quite as funny as "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot..." and I did have some problems with the fact that Franken does not include more extensive notes (either foot- or end-) while criticizing others for the same practice. Yes, there are end notes, but the facts that he cites are not specifically referenced, which I found strange, given the time he spends criticizing others for that practice or for manipulating citations. Still, if you do look through the notes, you do find the sources that he uses and they are informative.
Franken's books and similar ones seem destined to infuriate anyone who does not share, at least to some extent, his political perspective. I do think, however, that there is a lot of important information in the book and that it is presented in an entertaining and humorous fashion - of course, it can't help but be a bit frustrating to see the level to which our current national political discourse has sunk, but that's not a fault of this book. In short, despite a few caveats, I do think this book is definitely worthwhile - informative, smart, and entertaining albeit somewhat depressing....


Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood
by Alexandra Fuller
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.05
792 used & new from $0.01

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely excellent - not to be missed!, October 11, 2003
I picked this book up because one of my favorite pop culture magazines had named it the best non-fiction book of the year at some point. Still, I must admit that I did not expect it to be quite so good. I was absolutely absorbed in this book and practically lived in it for the few days it took me to finish it - and I certainly drew them out as long as I could because I did not want it to end!
Alexandra Fuller recounts her experiences growing up in various African countries, part of the white colonialist presence in Rhodesia and other countries. Her family endures more than its share of hardships, and Ms. Fuller conveys them honestly, touchingly and in great detail. She does not shy away from some of the less flattering aspects of her parents' participation in a colonialist culture, nor does she pretend that they were free from any sort of prejudice toward the Africans with whom they lived. Yet Ms. Fuller does explain much of it - why her parents chose Africa and Rhodesia, Malawi and so forth, why she viewed the natives as she did, what she and her sister feared, and so on and so forth.
While this frankness is refreshing, what makes this book so excellent is Ms. Fuller's writing, which is simply brilliant. She describes the lush landscapes, the danger of mines, the violence, the poverty and so on with such intense and vivid details that the book truly comes to life. Her experiences growing up in Africa may have been in some ways similar to those of other colonialists, yet she makes her story unique through her insights, her sympathy and empathy, and through the changes that she describes - those of the countries in which she lives, herself, her mother, father, sister and others. That Ms. Fuller's possess an incredible gift for writing is obvious, as is her command of language, with every word and phrase clearly chosen with great care.
I could not recommend this book more highly. I really believe that it is one of the best that I have ever read and certainly one of the best in the past several years. Already I have begun lending it out, and those who have read it have shared my fascination. Simply put, it is not to mbe missed!


The Lovely Bones
The Lovely Bones
by Alice Sebold
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.00
2374 used & new from $0.01

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A disturbing yet engrossing story..., September 2, 2002
This review is from: The Lovely Bones (Hardcover)
When I saw that Alice Sebold had written a novel, I was eager to read it, as I had previously read her heart-wrenching but still triumphant description of her rape as a student at Syracuse University. I knew that she was an excellent writer, and I knew, unfortunately, that she has first-hand experience with the subject she tackles in the Lovely Bones. But I was surprised by the manner in which she successfully told what is, for many reasons, a difficult, painful story.
The Lovely Bones is told from the perspective of Susie Salmon, the victim of a horribly brutal rape and murder at the hands of a neighbor. From heaven, Susie watches over her family and sees the havoc that her death has wreaked on those she loves, just as she sees the life that she so desperately misses and that she can't quite let go of. Her family - mother, father, grandmother, brother, sister - all struggle with the tragedy in different ways, a tragedy compounded by the fact that Susie's body - aside from one part - is never found, nor is her murderer captured, although her father quickly realizes who is responsible. After her death, Susie develops a rather strange relationship with a girl - still living - from her school, and gradually the people whose lives Susie touched are brought together in different ways.
To give away any more of the plot or details would, I think, unfairly spoil the book. I would add, too, that this is not a novel for the squeamish, and I found myself often equally engrossed and disturbed. For the most part, Alice Sebold avoids traditional plot devices, although admittedly some events do seem rather predictable and too convenient, and creates a unique vision of heaven that suits Susie and those she meets there. The one major exception, one that seems incongruent with the rest of the book even though it all takes place in a realm outside of everyday life, occurs towards the end and seems more like a scene from a well-known Hollywood movie than an organice part of this story.
That said, the Lovely Bones is a terrifically well-told book, even, in some ways, uplifting. I could never shake the shawdow of Susie's death, much in the same way that the characters never do, and I think this is a testament to the strength of Alice Sebold's writing. I am heartened that this book has found such a wide audience, as it is in many ways different from typical best-sellers, and I hope that it leads readers to her previous book, Lucky. The Lovely Bones was, for me, the type of book that I was totally absorbed in for the time I read it, and I would recommend it, with the caveats mentioned above, to anyone looking for an interesting, original, and intelligent novel.


The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary
by Simon Winchester
Edition: Paperback
714 used & new from $0.01

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely gripping look at madness, murder and the OED, August 28, 2002
I bought this book a couple of years ago, forgetting about it until a friend recently mentioned how much she'd loved it. When I did finally read it, I found it to be an utterly compelling story, well researched, written, and presented, and one of the best books that I've read in quite some time.
The Professor and the Madman functions on several levels. On the one hand, and perhaps most superficially, it's the story of how the Oxford English Dictionary was put together and the people responsible for its initial publication. But the book also focuses on many other issues, namely the nature and cause of madness, the impact of murder on individuals and a society, friendship under extraordinary circumstances, and the historical context in which all of these elements come together.
Every aspect of the book is equally fascinating. I had not known how the OED was put together, and that piece in and of itself is simply terrific, as the production was truly miraculous - the picture the author paints of volunteers scribbling away all over England, looking up words and copying sentences, is just wonderful. The lives and personalities at the center - the professor and the madman - are presented in all their complexities, and Simon Winchester effectively explores both fact and myth without appearing to conflate the two. In addition, this book offers some insights into how madness, even criminal insanity, was viewed and treated in the 19th century, including a peek into an asylum of the time.
However dry and academic the topic might seem - the OED hardly appears a breeding ground for intrigue or madness - this is certainly one of the most compelling and interesting books I have ever read. Simon Winchester is able to bring these characters to life with appropriate detail, and he theorizes about motivations, emotions, and so forth with sufficient documentation and without making it seem as though he is stretching history for dramatic effect. I would recommend this book to any reader without hesitation - it should definitely not be missed by any fan of history, excellent writing, or an utterly engrossing read.


Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
by Eric Schlosser
Edition: Paperback
1164 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling and fascinating look at our fast food culture, July 20, 2002
Eric Schlosser analyzes modern America through the lens of fast food, and what he reveals is completely engrossing, shocking, and infuriating. He begins with a history of the industry, how McDonald's and other chains came to be, and illustrates how various social climates encouraged the rapid growth and expansion of franchises. By going inside a present-day slaughter house, Schlosser paints an unforgettable picture of the never-ending slaughter of cattle in conditions that are truly shocking, horrifying, and nauseating. Perhaps just as important as all of the problems he reveals, Schlosser also includes his ideas about how to change everything he finds as problematic, offering concrete solutions instead of simply identifying all that is wrong.
Just how important and utterly fascinating Fast Food Nation is might not be immediately apparent based on a description of the subject. Schlosser, however, focuses his book very carefully to avoid tackling a topic beyond comprehension, choosing Colorado as emblematic of the current state of the industry - and the chilling effect on our school system, believe it or not. And he balances out his factual passages with anecdotes about ranchers, fast food magnates, restaurant employees, slaughter house workers, franchise owners, and so forth. Schlosser's skill as a writer is evident in the way that he maintains control over all of the information he includes; he jumps, at times, between early 20th century California, post-war Germany, and modern Colorado seamlessly and effortlessly. While in theory this is a book I couldn't put down, in practice some of the information was so revolting that I had to move away briefly - this is due to the power of Schlosser's language in some cases, and horror at what actually takes place, and is a testament to the strength of the book rather than any difficutly with it.
The one issue that bothered me somewhat is addressed in the afterword, when Schlosser takes the opportunity to analyze the book's success and some of the comments he received. Throughout the book, much of the blame for the current horrific state of the beef industry is laid on the Republican party, and I find it very hard to believe that there is not a hefty dose due Democrats. His explanation is satisfactory, although I still wish that he had devoted more to that topic in the actual text itself. That said, from the little details about what's actually in the food we eat to the experiences of some slaughter house workers, this book is not to be missed. Recent recalls of millions of pounds of beef show just how timely and important this topic is, and I think that Fast Food Nation should be pretty much mandatory reading for everyone - my copy is on its third reader already.


Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum)
Hard Eight (Stephanie Plum)
by Janet Evanovich
Edition: Hardcover
533 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying installment in the Stephanie Plum series..., June 29, 2002
It's difficult for there to be too many surprises in the 8th book in a series, and I can't say there were many here. But what I was suprised about, frankly, was that I personally didn't find that to be tiresome or dull. Sure, at this point, one pretty much expects that our heroine, Stephanie, will be torn between two men, get some cars blown up, make some incredibly silly decisions, have Lula and her granny tag along, and be subjected to lots of head shakings. I don't quite know how she did it, but I think that Janet Evanovich manages to keep this series fresh because she creates such interesting, dynamic, silly, and fun characters - people that, despite the crazy happenings in the novels, actually seem pretty real. Even those on the periphery of the story have distinct personalities, and it is this, I think, more than the particular mystery in the book that makes it interesting - and the mystery here, while different than some others, is rather tame, despite the appearance of a new uber-villian.
If anyone is going into this book expecting revolutionary character growth, that reader will probably be disappointed. Similarly, if this is the first Stephanie Plum novel someone reads, a lot will probably be lost without the history presented in the previous seven. But if you enjoyed the other books - and aren't yet tired of Stephanie's antics, the Morelli-Ranger-Stephanie triangle, and the bizarre and pretty unbelievable events in the Burg, this is the book for you. I'm not sure a writer with less skill and humor could maintain my interest this long, but I think Janet Evanovich is doing fine, and I'll certainly be ready for book nine when it comes along.


The Nanny Diaries: A Novel
The Nanny Diaries: A Novel
by Emma McLaughlin
Edition: Hardcover
1098 used & new from $0.01

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of fun to read..., June 7, 2002
I had read a lot about the Nanny Diaries before deciding to buy it, so I pretty much knew all about the plot, main characters and setting before even opening it up. But even though there were not a lot of surprises within the book, I found it to be a very entertaining, enjoyable read, more so than I'd anticipated.
The central character, Nanny, is well constructed, and we see the world of mega-rich New Yorkers through her eyes. Her charge comes across as more than just a plot mechanism, exhibiting lots of real little boy behavior that seems pretty appropriate given his circumstances. And there sure are a lot of fascinating details about the family Nanny works for, details that, despite the authors' claims not to have based the book on any of their own experiences as nannies, seem just outrageous enough to be believable in that world.
The Nanny Diaries is a very light read, and I zipped right through it. Mrs. X, however hideous, is still interesting, and there is lots of vicarious enjoyment witnessing the trials and tribulations of Nanny. Overall, though, I found myself ever so slightly disappointed when I reached the end. Thiings wrapped up so abruptly - yet neatly - with certain things seeming so out of character and way too melodramatic compared with the rest of the book that it all felt a little too contrived and not very satisfying. Still, I definitely think it is worth the time - and money - simply for the fun of it, and as long as one doesn't look too hard for deeper meaning or expect too much. The Nanny Diaries is the quintessential summer book - a little decadent, a little silly, and a lot of entertainment.


The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke
The Broke Diaries: The Completely True and Hilarious Misadventures of a Good Girl Gone Broke
by Angela Nissel
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.44
167 used & new from $0.01

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, clever, not-to-be-missed saga of brokeness..., February 21, 2002
As a University of Pennsylvania senior, Angela Nissel is totally and utterly broke - not the 'oh, I'm broke because I only have $100 in the bank but I can pay all my bills' broke but really broke. Her 'diary' recounts her misadventures trying to make it through the year without starving or getting evicted. Her cleverness, sense of humour and pretty bizarre experience make 'The Broke Diaries' an incredibly entertaining read, one to be savored and certainly not to be missed.
The book is structured as an actual diary, with entries on various days describing Angela's latest battle to eat/ survive/ pay her bills/ get textbooks and so forth. A lot of what she endures will be familiar to many college students and graduates, but a lot of it is simply amazing, both in terms of what Angela has to go through and some of the very strange people she encounters. Even as she struggles to get by, Angela maintains her wicked sense of humor, and that comes through in all of her 'entries,' as do her keen perceptions about poverty, human nature, and so forth. Some of what happens to her seems unbelievable except in the context of everything else that she's enduring - even the pretty crazy stuff seems normal in her world and in her chatty, informal, funny narrative voice.
I'm very glad that Angela survived her senior year and that she is no longer broke, as much as I did enjoy her tales of woe. 'The Broke Diaries' would make rewarding, entertaining, fun and funny reading for almost anybody. Just don't forget to pay attention to some of her astute perceptions about poverty.


Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad
Desert Flower: The Extraordinary Journey of a Desert Nomad
by Cathleen Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.70
134 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary journey..., February 20, 2002
That Waris Dirie survived some of her experiences at all is amazing, but that she found success, love and happiness is practically miraculous. She's lived so many different lives, ones that most people can only imagine - as a nomad in Somalia, as a servant in London, as an international super model - yet the voice in which she tells her story is so personal, so warm and informal, that she easily conveys a sense of what she has been through.
Waris literally ran away from when her father tried to marry her off to a much older man when she was thirteen. After staying with family in Mogadishu, she goes to London to work as a servant with other relatives before being 'discovered' and going on to model. Waris grew up totally and utterly isolated from the rest of the world � so much so that, when on a plane to London, she is surprised to see non-Africans because she did not even know that �white� people existed - and a lot of the book focuses on the radical adjustments she must make and how she feels - fascinated, frustrated, excited - about doing so.
Always just below the surface is the horrifying procedure of female genital mutilation or circumcision, which Waris underwent at the age of 5. She continues to suffer excruciating pain as a result but eventually, after her initial embarrassment and reluctance, is able to discuss the situation with Western doctors and obtain some relief. Her anger at what she and thousands upon thousands of African women have been through increases as she learns more about the world and realizes that not every woman undergoes the same torture, and she becomes a U.N. ambassador working to end female circumcision throughout the world.
Desert Flower would be a rewarding book if it were confined to Waris early years growing up in a nomadic culture. But as it is, Waris' story is truly remarkable, and she succeeds in providing readers at least a glimpse into what she has experienced and endured. One of the best aspects of Desert Flower is its narrative voice, as Waris clearly uses one that is comfortable for her and that comes across as very personal, honest and warm. I recommend this book most highly to just about everyone, as Waris�triumph over her hardships, struggles, and suffering is fascinating while the fact that she maintains her sense of humor, faith and humanity is awe-inspiring.


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