Saturday, February 6, 2016

Catching Up

Book reviews posted to Librarything since forever ago. Much gratitude to the Eary Reviewers program for gifting so many wonderful books in exchange for an honest review, and for giving me a reason to finish the few books I managed in this time.

I did not write reviews of my twenty plus post-apocalyptic and zombie genre reads in the same time span, although Margaret Atwood's MaddAdam trilogy, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, and M. R. Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts were excellent.

This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Locally Laid is a funny, well-written and informative look at a family's leap into mid-sized poultry farming, and their remarkable journey into successful local egg producers. I admire the hard work and bravery of this family, and really enjoyed the narrative of their story. I learned a lot about chickens and agri-business in the process, too.

I recommend this book highly, but admit to a little bias: I grew up amid massive corporate chicken production and am fascinated with the more romantic and humane notions of what farming, chicken life and egg production entail. My multiple chicken coffee table books, and yearning for an egg laying flock in my own yard are evidence of my chicken fascination, but this book should be interesting to a wide audience, especially those interested in the locavore movement and business start up realities.

I'll be looking for Lola eggs on my grocery shelves, and watching for more books by this author.  )
    flag8 other reviews | Feb 6, 2016 | edit | 
Very exciting and well written techno-page turner spanning multiple continents and cultures. Intricate plot. Great character writing, especially the females. Reminded me of reading Clancy, Grisham, Larsson, only as thick as three of them, and more complex. Or like binge-watching a season of Homeland. I couldn't stop reading this book, my first by Neal Stephenson. It won't be my last. I checked to see who optioned the movie rights, but it looks bound to be a series on Fox TV. I'll watch it. I already miss this book.  )
    flag154 other reviews | Jan 8, 2016 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book made me pay attention. I felt every word was a gift, and I'm not sure how to explain how true and moving an experience this book was for me.

From the forward by Abraham Verghese to the Epilogue by Lucy Kalanithi, and all the wisdom and excellent writing of Paul Kalanithi in-between, this book is a revelation. I was a humbled to learn about the author's life, his brilliant mind, his bravery and his legacy. Reading his memoir was an honor. I wish he had been given more time because he was taken too soon, and he had so much to say.

Life is a Verb. Tuesdays with Morrie. The Art of Losing. Aging as a Spiritual Practice. And now, When Breath Becomes Air - These are some of the most meaningful and beautiful books about life and death I'ver read yet.

My highest recommendation.  )
    flag36 other reviews | Dec 26, 2015 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I have not finished this book, but have returned to it repeatedly because of my fondness for Ray Bradbury and the interesting but dense essays in this book. Recommended for avid fans or students, this is a fascinating look into the author's life and craft, and the events and places that helped shape his writing. I could see this book used in a college level English class and admit to skipping around reading the essays out of order. I will keep this book as a reference and hope to finish it soon.  )
    flag3 other reviews | Nov 21, 2015 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Lights Out is a scary read. Ted Koppel has written a well researched and chilling assessment of the vulnerability of our power grid to cyber attack and EMP disruption, and the disaster that awaits in the aftermath of an attack.

I read a lot of post-apocalyptic lit, and this is scarier than any zombie virus book, and even more chilling since this is practically expected to happen and there no plans to prevent an attack or address the power disruption that would ensue. In short, we are not prepared. Or we are preparing for the wrong things.

A great deal of the latter half of the book details the vigilant emergency preparedness and planning done by the Mormons, and the lack of our preparedness at the state or federal levels. I was interested enough to do further research and to think much more carefully about my emergency stores and my ability to handle any natural or man made disaster, particularly where water and power are concerned.

I am glad to see the book and the author getting a lot of press, and hope that our communities and governments are paying attention and taking action. I recommend this book highly. It is thought provoking and sobering.  )
    flag40 other reviews | Nov 21, 2015 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I requested this book because I thought it might be useful for my college bound volleyball player. We both agree that it is interesting and covers a wide range of topics by some excellent coaches, and we wish we had access to Volume 1 to see what might have been previously addressed. There were lots of practical suggestions but like other reviewers, I felt some of the chapters could have been much longer, and we would like to have seen more on Beach Volleyball Doubles, which is in its first year as an NCAA sport. Overall, a valuable resource for parents, players, coaches and fans of volleyball.  )
    flag4 other reviews | Sep 17, 2015 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A very readable, but unbelievable collection of stories about treasures found and somehow never recovered. I had recurring credibility concerns reading the stories, which feel more like tall tales than true memoir.  )
    flag30 other reviews | Apr 29, 2015 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I gave this book two good tries, and decided it is just not for me. The prose is beyond verbose, and I couldn't shake the feeling that this narrator should be from the Civil War era, not the Seventies. I thought the opening paragraph held a lot of promise and knew this was a book that would require my attention. It required more attention than I could muster, and I skipped around after abandoning all hope in Chapter 3, hoping to find a connection from the words to the story, but to no avail. I rarely give up on an early review read, but this one was just too much work to get through for me. Apologies.
    flag31 other reviews | Apr 28, 2015 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
An unflinching look at a loving but dysfunctional family living in Florida, told by the daughter who tried, but failed to get away to something more normal in New Orleans. Thankfully there is humor throughout the book, because the stories are often shocking, sad or cringe worthy, but there are also moments that are funny, touching and relate-able. The book is a bit uneven at times, with abrupt transitions between some of the chapters or passages, but otherwise it is well written and an interesting, quick read.  )
    flag19 other reviews | Apr 27, 2015 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Touching stories, most dealing with disasters of one kind or another, and their aftermath; all are beautifully written. Most of the stories were very engaging, and I cared about many of the characters. I wished some of the stories were longer, though, because I didn't want them to end so soon.  )
    flag19 other reviews | Jan 19, 2015 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Descent is a riveting story, very well written and paced and I could not stop reading until I finished the last page. I'm still thinking about the story and characters days later. It's hard to talk about the story or make comparisons to others in the genre without giving anything away, so I will not talk about the plot except to say it is an often nerve-wracking tale of every parent's worst nightmare. Most of the characters are nuanced, believable and many times heartbreaking, and I expect several of them to stay with me for a very long time. The sense of place is compelling and transporting, and the depictions of the complexity and frailty of human relationships in the wake of a tragedy are very well done. The writing is exceptional, and reminded me at times of Gillian Flynn, Cormack McCarthy, John Irving, Kent Haruf, William Faulkner and Jeffrey Lent to name a few, but still this novel has a unique voice and writing style, and managed to keep me guessing and surprised at the twists and turns until the end. I'll be adding Tim Johnston to my author watch list, and expect to read this book again, more slowly this time. I can't wait to see who options the movie rights to this novel, and will tell my book group to bump this one to the top of the list. )
    flag76 other reviews | Nov 9, 2014 | edit | 
I'm feeling very conflicted about this book. The writing was original, the main character unique, fascinating and heartbreaking. The story was frustrating at times, the supporting characters fell a little flat for me, and the ending left me very unfulfilled. I would have preferred an ending I didn't have to supply on my own. However, the writing was so good, and there were so many things to think about, seeing the modern world through a refugee's eyes, and trying to understand how Little Bee managed to survive and compartmentalize, and I would recommend this to friends, particularly my book group. I think they will be very divided on this one.  )
    flag426 other reviews | Oct 9, 2014 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love memoir, I love music, and singing in my small town church choir is one of my fondest memories. Like the author I am not particularly religious, but know how spiritual group singing can be, and how it can change your life. The book is much more than a memoir, though, filled with music history, and can be a dense read. Some sections were more interesting to me than others, and it took me quite a while to finish, but I kept coming back to it. I listened to the NPR interview with the author and found it very interesting as well. The best part about this book is that it reminded me that I need to sing more often, and how satisfying singing with others can be. I recommend this book highly for music and memoir fans.  )
    flag65 other reviews | Oct 8, 2014 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I admit to being an ardent fan of Amy Bloom's novels, her unique writing style and prose, her memorable characters, and her ability to transport me to another era in history. Lucky Us did not disappoint me, and I felt a particular connection with several characters and plot twists, likely because of my genealogy research and the stories I listened to as a child. I could almost know parts of these characters, and how history and luck shaped their lives, and how strange family and love can be.

The story is told from a variety of perspectives, including letters, and I couldn't help but be reminded a bit of reading 84 Charring Cross Road, and how this heartbreaking, yet funny and surprising story was reminiscent of John Irving or Kurt Vonnegut for me. But Amy Bloom is unique and every time I read her novels, I remind myself that she is a poet, and can paint vivid pictures with a minimum of words.

As always, I wished the story were longer, I wanted to know more about everything and everyone. But the author left me with a beautiful description of a snapshot that lets me fill in most of the blanks with my imagination. I've gone back to reread the last chapter several times and I can almost picture the scene and I know that the more of this story and these characters is simply love and family, in all its permutations.

I highly recommend this book, for Amy Bloom fans and for those unfamiliar with her work. It is a book that will resonate for a very long time.  )
    flag71 other reviews | Oct 8, 2014 | edit | 
Beautifully written memoir.  )
    flagSep 2, 2014 | edit | 
A surprisingly engaging read filled with tragic and fascinating characters. A little lecture-like at the end, but a fast paced and riveting story I could not put down, filled with memorable social commentary and a loving tribute to friendship, and to the beauty and resilience of great art and the human spirit.  )
    flag418 other reviews | Mar 1, 2014 | edit | 
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Mr. Owita's Guide to Gardening is a heart warming story of connections and friendships between the unlikeliest of friends. The writing is open and honest, if at times a bit over descriptive, but the story and the message in the book make it a very inspiring and worth while read.  )
    flag27 other reviews | Mar 1, 2014 | edit |