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Everything I Never Told You: A Novel
Everything I Never Told You: A Novel
Offered by Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Price: $11.99

15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Narcissist parenting. Well done., August 21, 2014
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I really enjoyed this book. I was hooked from the beginning and it kept my interest all the way through. Celeste Ng writes beautifully and I am excited to read more from her.

Like many reviewers pointed out this isn't an uplifting book (I didnt get the idea it would be), the author does get a little over the top with some of the plot points, but I think that actually works to magnify (what i believe) the extreme individual motivations of the parents James and Marilyn.

Clearly this isn't a whodunnit mystery I think the superficial first layer of the book is to find out why Lydia died, but after we delve into who Lydia was alive, and who her siblings are, we get to the crux of the novel-- who the parents are-- because this is really all about them-- and this is why I really thought Ng really shone. I loved the way she let exposed the personalities of the parents, let it unravel slowly until we really see how this all ties in .

Also, I don't think this novel is about race. (whether or not in Ohio in the 50's or 70's or whenever the kind of racisim could happen-is not the question) This novel is about perceptions and misperceptions. It's about what happens when you have a distorted and one dimensional viewpoint-- that such a 'chip on the shoulder' perspective-- can distort your personality. Here, it's through the distorted lens of James who views every experience and event in his life as a by product of his Chinese background--through Marilyn, a woman raised in the 50's, and see's her experiences as the inevitable product of sexist times. Other reviewers have pointed out that James and Marilyn are a little too exaggerated, but I disagree, I think they are self-involved -- so much so that their kids are direct extensions of themselves and therefore they play out their personalities in them.

Long after James left his childhood behind-- after Harvard, after getting married, after having children, he continues to view his experiences (and now his kid's) lives through his warped lens, and in trying to get his son to have a different life-- actually creates the very same traits in him-- now Nathan bleieves he's being ridiculed when it doesnt happen much like James continues to believe. (certianly i'm not denying the racism he encountered-- but the author takes pains to show many (if not most) of his interactions James would assume racist overtones when there was no evidence of it -- ex. interactions with Fiske, and his assistant)

Marilyn believes her ambition of being a doctor was thwarted by external forces-- she doesn't take repsonsibility for her own choices and in fact makes incredibly selfish decisions that would have a catastrophic effect (she could have realized those ambitions, she chose not to).

The interesting point here is that Lydia's death exposes these incredibly narcissistic parents. They have no clue or empathy beyond themselves, neither of them really communicate or know each other or their children-- or seem to care to know them.

Both of these educated and brilliant parents are clueless, and believe they are unselfishly motivated to give their children better lives. and each one defines this "better life" by what each parent wants for themselves and what would make THEM happy, and not what actually makes the kids happy.
It's interesting that the child with the most empathy and intelligence and with (the most) objective point of view, was the youngest child, who James and Marilyn (and even the siblings) barely paid any attention to (and perhaps that's the point) was the most well adjusted.

I agree with one of the reviewers that said we are not supposed to like John and Marilyn. Who could? I do think that the way Ng peels back the layers to reveal their personalities is brilliant.

I especially liked the ending-- there is no poignant revelation, no redemption, not even the epiphany of realizing what really happened to their family-- just a vague, amorphous general feeling- they pretty much remained clueless, (which is why i believe many people found this depressing) -- I found it to be well done because it was far more credible and authentic.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2015 9:28 PM PST

Mr. Mercedes: A Novel (The Bill Hodges Trilogy Book 1)
Mr. Mercedes: A Novel (The Bill Hodges Trilogy Book 1)
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $8.99

39 of 58 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars King lovers will probably want to read this anyway-- at least go in knowing this..., June 5, 2014
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I have read everything by King-- As a true fan i am aware of his disappointments, his surprising forays into mainstream (some SOOOO good) , and of course his overwhelming genius (which overlaps mainstream/horror/paranormal and the best of course, the mundane, because when it happens- it's what we read him for-- and count days to the next book-- (short stories too, shawshank/serial; green mile etc) -- the list of his brilliant books outweighs all the bad so that's why i still will come back for more.

I like his paranormal/horror-- but I also love his 'Non-Shining" characters, those who are just human with all of their foibles. So many of his trademark rich characters, both protags and antags are beautifully developed. I read him just to be a part of his universe (sometimes even if my overall satisfaction with the book is not so great).

So my disclaimer here is he doesn't have to write paranormal "scary" to be good for me. While i do love those it's not what i think he's all about. In fact there are even books that I didn't like overall, BUT (as i mentioned earlier) I was so attached to the characters-- I didn't want it to end.

BUT (and clearly this was coming)-- this was not one of them.-- This book was disappointing-- I read it within a day and a half, so nothing to really distract me (unfortunately). I actually put it down to go to bed --the death knell of a truly great book, i'm afraid .

Ok but enough of this preamble. Here's the review-- spoilers possible.

This was supposed to be a detective/whodunit -- ( FYI read Joyland- that was pretty good for genre) this was just so UNFINISHED-- i don't know how else to put it.

The best character (development) was the first character introduced-- after that- every other character was thin, and if possible thinner by the end of the book. Without giving away the plot lines and spoilers (but PLEASE BEWARE DO NOT READ THIS BC I MAY DO SO):

Besides the lazy characters, the weird and totally bizarre love interest theme of the 'real" main character was so lame; attractive young(er) blonde falls for fatty 20 years senior and retired cop (and this is impt-- there was NO development of said attraction, it would have been credible if King just tried a bit with that--- the "love" just happened -- they were right for each other, at the right time, (in the wrong circumstances, shocking yes...) out of the blue-- (mommy porn has better plot lines than this one) and fatty cop was devoid of any kind of personality after the first chapters-- by the time he met said blonde I couldn't figure out if I missed a chapter in between somewhere (I didn't) . I can't believe his publishers, editors, sons and wifelet him write this-- he does thank them all for proofing this whole waste of time.... Really.

Unlike the usual skill King has for character development and getting us into the heart and soul of the characters, I found there was neither. No connection to any of the characters (except for the opening scene) and it never got better. Even the antagonist, evil Mr. Mercedes was boring. Not even enough to be horrified by the character's thoughts or deeds or anything. No explanation or anything for his personality-- yes there are connections to his "childhood horrors" , but it was so contrived and formulaic-- (he clearly was watching Criminal Minds unsub analysis) I felt nothing (not even repulsed by this vapid psychopath). That was actually the worst part.

As other reviewers noted we could see a lot where this was going, and that is fine- i usually like King's foreshadowing- but not here because I kept thinking I would feel something for the characters (never did) and it was such a let down-- what you think happens, just happens-- no twist, no surprise small or big, no smile at the end that everything is the way is should be... just glad it was over.

The last chapter was such an afterthought that I'm only referencing it in case someone thinks i missed it. I did not.

Furthermore, this seemed that this particular Scooby crew was conjured up in order to be a TV Series (unless Joss Whedon takes over, then it could be saved) or even (finally a scare here) a TERRIBLE movie. . The entire crew is rather preposterous and the creative license that Mr. King takes is really stretched to the limit here-- with a 17 year old Harvard bound good kid (who happens to be black--and that's never forgotten because of the way King keeps bringing it up -- ughh..makes me cringe) then, a 45 year old spinster with severe mental issues and overbearing mom, and then our protagonist, the divorced senior citizen, (yet shockingly agile) former detective. (yup, no hollywood stereotypes here-- and i'm holding back on the ridiculous dialogue-- just awful--not even offensive, just bad).

anyway-- i will hope Revival is better. I do love this guy though, been reading him since I was a kid. Next.
Comment Comments (10) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 19, 2014 11:45 AM PDT

Doctor Sleep: A Novel (The Shining Book 2)
Doctor Sleep: A Novel (The Shining Book 2)
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $12.99

29 of 47 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars DISAPPOINTED..... so so disappointed., September 24, 2013
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I pre-orderred this is April. when i got it-- i put aside a whole evening thinking (usually) i would not be able to put this down--oh i did-- several times- now im just .... i don't know MAD at my own expectations waiting this whole time for this book. Beware-- i may have unintentional spoilers in here.

It's like a really bad amalgamation of some young adult/twilight/hunger games pop young fiction or something-- it's AWFUL. How can this be? What happened to his imagination? It's dull, without the name STEPHEN KING I would NEVER have believed he wrote this---- the man is brilliant-- yes there were some bad eggs here and there- but overall-- BRILLIANT.

Seriously-- this is nothing like the SHINING (that i re-read recently) -I did NOT expect it to be the SHINING- i expected more of a sequel what happened to Danny etc-- this was a stand alone book-- and pretty bad if it were the first one i read. He had a couple of references to Dick H and Mom/Wendy nd of course memories from the Overlook(these do not make a proper sequel or whatever you are calling this.) I felt nothing for Danny in this book-- I felt nothing for ANY of the characters--- this is crucial-- bc if anything Stephen King makes us CONNECT. I didn't care about them-- any of them. The 'bad" characters were so NOT scary- the "good one's" were hardly interesting, without character and frankly i could barely remember them WHILE i was still reading the book!

I thought the storyline was lame- the characters including Danny totally THIN and underdeveloped- really not one redeeming point to this book at all.

This will make some people mad but to me this was almost like Stephen King writing a book while really REALLY wanting to have a drink-- (yes i know he's an alcoholic as are many of his characters including Jack Torrance) I was so annoyed by all the AA stuff-- at least in the Shining you could really see the how SCARY alcoholism or the drying out can be etc-- but this had nothing-- it was an AA manual of BOREDOM-- not even a good rock bottom.

This is Stephen KIng-- and it's just not creepy, or scary, pull the blankets over your head-- wake up with noises that may or may not be there-- nothing...... the worst thing i can say -- and it IS the worst thing--- i was BORED. and couldn't wait for it to end.

I have read everything-- everything by mr. King since is was a kid-several over and over- and i hate hate hate to say this.

- it's just not horror -- or HIS old horror anymore. I guess the letdown is so much worse since i was looking forward to this for SO SO LONG. I have factored that in.

I don't understand all the great reviews-- this book was TERRIBLE.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 9, 2013 6:53 PM PDT

The Racketeer
The Racketeer
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $9.99

556 of 612 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars SUSPEND DISBELIEF: good yarn, page turner, overall fun., October 23, 2012
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This review is from: The Racketeer (Kindle Edition)
I'm writing this bc I haven't bought a Grisham book that wasn't deeply discounted or free in YEARS.
I bought this book after the NYT review-- I think it's the first decent review of a Grisham book in a long time (last I remember). I have been on and off again about Grisham's books, (mostly off for a long time) honestly nothing for me will be as good as A Time To Kill, or The Chamber, or as fun as The Firm-- but I have read most of what he's written-- and mostly been "eh" about Grisham for several years.

Ok having said that-- as the title of my review states, this is a book you absolutely have to suspend disbelief-- especially if you are even remotely associated with the legal profession and if you're a lawyer - (actually even if you aren't) you will roll your eyes at some points-- but you WILL CONTINUE reading, because, as preposterous as some of the plot turns are, you will want to see where he goes with this. The main character stays in kind of a 'foreshadowing" mode throughout the story- you kind of think and sometimes know where this is going but because the main character is also 'unreliable' - you are left unsure-- so as a reader you wonder if the narrator/main character plots against his 'foes' while simultaneously doing the same to the you (the reader) --- I did think that was pretty interesting on Grisham's part. I can't explain this anymore without spoilers.

FYI-- The NYT review was bizarre-- some parts of the review made no sense after i finished the book--and i re-read the review-- this line in particular referring to the main character-- "And Mal happens to be black. That fact seems to have nothing to do with the book until Mr. Grisham makes shrewd use of race later on. " --- what? i don't know what they meant by "shrewd" or "shrewd use" -- and after reading the book, it seems as though the NYT just read a synopsis and Grisham's afterword.

This is not a book that will stay with you long after you've read it, but you know what? Sometimes that's just fine. This is NOT a 'legal thriller' in the sense that we are used to. (Grisham admits as much in his afterword). It's not one of his great books, but it IS PRETTY GOOD-- that's why I gave it 3 stars.

IF this sounds like I didn't like the book please just take it as a disclaimer because:
This is FUN Grisham. It's a commercial break. It's a page-turning novel/thirller/mystery and it's ENTERTAINING- much like I'm sure the invevitable movie will be. I did enjoy this, I couldn't put it down. I do recommend the book with the following caveat: - wait for a lower price.
Comment Comments (27) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 28, 2015 11:26 AM PDT

The Female of the Species: A Novel
The Female of the Species: A Novel
Offered by HarperCollins Publishers
Price: $9.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty lame-- go for a different book from her, September 26, 2012
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Well-- this is probably not the best time to write a review-- I am a BINGE READER-- i love what an author writes and then I go and read EVERYTHING he/she has written-- and because I read the Kevin book, i went on to read this one and another of her books in succession. This one was kind of lame. I didn't care for the characters the way I did in her other books (the other one I did like was The Perfectly Good Family-- i really liked that one)

I don't recommend this one, the characters are vapid, Mostly the ending left me feeling nothing-- not anything more or less (like troubled, or disagreed, provocative etc) than when I started -(which is a hallmark of a good book at the very least)--

The woman protagonist was kind of spectacularly idiotic-- and i so wanted to relate to relate to her in any way (as a woman, as a professional woman, as anything- but i just COULD NOT)

The writing was lame like a old school romance novel or something-- it was just not worth it

This is probably not the most helpful review but I recommend getting this on a deal buy or something, bc it's just not as well written, the plot is shaky-- well it just was not that great.


0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It was ok, I wish I had waited for a deal on it though., September 26, 2012
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This was a fast read, and while I enjoyed it, I don't think it was worth the price. It was however, a lovely story-- and unlike the other reviews i read it was not so awfully haunting etc-regaridng all the "bad choices" etc that other reviewers wrote about-
i would like to say why i feel that way, but don't want to spoil it for you bc it's worth a read, but at a lower price. The storyline is not a really new one, but the writing is beautiful- When i finished the book i was satisfied, but was not overwhelmed although i was moved at certain parts by the prose itself-- the plot not so much-- it was in my opinion a not so original plot although i did really like the ending (which i won't tell you about).
In sum, if you have money to burn and want to read a good book this is one of them, if you want to wait and get it at a better price I think you would enjoy it more. I hope this helps.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Offered by Random House LLC
Price: $8.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Story of the JOURNEY, and for all of us no matter what age., September 26, 2012
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I really enjoyed this book- I think you should be ready for a story of redemption, and awakening. I loved that it spoke to me who is not even close to their age, but could relate because who doesn't want to 'walk out of their life" in a sense, for all the right reasons not to abandon anyone but more to find one's self. The beauty of this story (like so many others) is that the protagonist doesn't really know what he's setting out for except that he has this "urge" that doesn't really leave him, and to deny it (as he's denied so much or been unconscious of anything else) was no longer an option. I loved how the book made his journey, his wife's journey as well-- showing that everything we do affects the people we love and each one of our own "personal" journey's are not really our own-- we learn (or don't) the old adage that it is always the journey that matters and not the destination (i know it's old cliche but that's why it is) - most lessons come from the arduous steps to get an answer (whether it be math, or life) -- rarely from the end itself. I don't know if this makes sense, but I loved the book.

This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.
This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.
by Augusten Burroughs
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.99
152 used & new from $0.01

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars JUST PERFECT for us who are imperfect., September 13, 2012
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What can i say, this book is truly amazing--- i am a straight married woman-- and could totally relate to this astonishing man. He does get a bit "all over" with his descriptions but it doesn't detract--- it DOESNT. I recommended this to all my friends and they have loved it-- You may find this weird but if you have studied philosophy of J Krishnamurthi or Eckhart Tolle -- this actually isn't so different-- yes the voice IS different, but the message is the same. Think about it before you pass judgment about anything including long held social beliefs on things-like 12 steps etc)

I loved it and I recommend it. Many of my friends (while we differed on the parts we liked etc) enjoyed it as a whole. There are certainly going to be things not everyone can relate to or agree with, it gave me pause to think about "why" i have the beliefs i have or why i have constructed certain paradigms that i had knee-jerk reactions to (the 12 steps etc) I liked that the book made me think about some things I never would have, and also re-think about many things I have already read and try and put into practice.

This book tells us many of the same things that so many philosophers have covered in depth--but Mr. Aug as a messenger will be able to reach a number of people who haven't read a lot about these things-- and that's wonderful to get it across to so many more people. The caveat : he does not mince words or write in a certain "genteel" manner which some may prefer their messages. If you want to learn something read this. but if you care about HOW you learn, then you will find fault with the author and this book.

NW: A Novel
NW: A Novel
by Zadie Smith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.46
238 used & new from $0.01

54 of 73 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth it-- I am a fan of Zadie, but i wish i didnt buy this.., September 13, 2012
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This review is from: NW: A Novel (Hardcover)
I have read Zadie Smith, and I loved White Teeth-- Based on the NYT and some of the comments here I decided to buy the book.

I didn't like it-- why?
1) i know the "new" form for her is this disjointed writing but while i "got" it-- i didn't enjoy reading it-- it was hard to get through those parts and it was just so ANNOYING.

2) the characters were really thin. I just didn't feel ANYTHING for them. I was just disconnected --none of them had any redeeming qualities, i didn't like any of them, and couldn't relate to them- part of reading is for me to identify with the characters no matter how different or similar -- and she really lost me on this.

3) i don't really get what this is about ( i get what ms. smith was maybe alluding to) but it didn't come across. Of course maybe i didn't get it-- either way, that's a failure on the part of the author (in my view as a reader).

This could have been a really great book, Ms. Smith's style of writing when you can understand what's going on is beautiful and her prose and knack for observations have charmed and touched me-- but (and here it is) style, prose, and observations mean nothing when i'm committing to a novel that i hope will take me away, and bring me back with something more than I had when I started it.-- I spent most of the time hoping it would get better, excited when i thought it was going in that direction, and then ultimately disappointed that I wasted my time on this and money.

Don't buy it. I wish I didn't. Sorry if this is harsh (and it pains me to say this with authors i like )

this is not a book i recommend-- and i'm sorry about that. I look forward to her next book.
Comment Comments (7) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 14, 2013 8:58 PM PDT

Thinking, Fast and Slow
Thinking, Fast and Slow
by Daniel Kahneman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.12
205 used & new from $3.97

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT READ, good depth, fresh perspective. You'll learn something., January 8, 2012
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Definitely a must read. Beware I mention somethings in the book that may be "spoilers" but this is non-fiction- and probably won't make sense unless you already have read the book-- but just wanted to give you a heads up to stop reading out of courtesy.

I have and continue to read extensively on various areas of economic theory, psychology, EQ, IQ, sociology etc etc. This book is a great way to tie it all together, if you have read Gilbert, Goleman, Eagleman, Ekman, and if you're interested in this subject matter it's definitely a unique perspective.

- This is a GREAT book if you just want to read without really studying the subject matter-- you will still learn a lot.

I wanted to get more in depth so i had pen and paper--i wanted to know more about how it compared to the other books i read etc-- it was more involved for me --it was worth the effort. It was a damn good book, no matter how many notes I took, I will need to read it over and over. I really enjoyed it because he goes more in depth than a lot of the "pop" decision/psychology/sociology/economic books out there- and ties them all together. BUT YOU DONT HAVE TO DO ALL OF IT TO GET SO MUCH FROM THIS.

I definitely recommend reading this because even if you don't agree with everything it will force you to address why. It will at least get you to question about what you already know, what you think you know, and if what Kahneman says rings true-- take a day or two out and see this at work-- I have been weighing on it.

A lot of people said this was boring and incomprehensible--- IT WAS NOT at least if you are well-informed already in various areas it addresses-- In fact if you are very well informed it wasn't in depth enough- so I think it's just the "right level" of depth, without dumbing us down.

It wasn't intellectually difficult, just covered so many areas under one theme-- so in that respect well done, and unique. I'm not sure yet until i re-read it and my notes if I agree with everything-- certainly i didn't agree with the "banana-vomits" analysis and 'study' that was a little off the reservation for me.

Some questions I have:--he did not address was gender bias question etc-- I wonder why? Almost all behavioral scientists, sociologists, psychologists, economists (women v. men investors etc) --- why not here? As a woman, I would have liked to hear his viewpoint on the various theories of gender differences in decision making.

One more question I had besides the "non-issue" of gender bias was regarding pain thresholds/memory etc. His discussion of duration neglect and peak pains in relation to memory and experience, don't address probably the largest study of mankind-- childbirth and pain-I'm not a mother but I would think this would have been so easy to address, and the data he would have had is overwhelming. And it goes straight to his point on that chapter. And actually contradicts his findings there- I found that odd.

Having said those two things, I overwhelmingly recommend this book-- I learned a lot, and don't agree with everything, and found some parts to be less than credible dealing with sample sizes in his own studies. He draws heavily from other author's and their studies which will not be a surprise--- but the reason I like this is that he puts it together (agree with his conclusions or not) in a fresh perspective.

Overall-- Excellent and a very well written book.

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