Tuesday, February 28, 2017
This novel was enticing due to the cover, Liberty Hardy's recommendation from Book of the Month Club, and the general premise- a freaky private service that allows grieving individuals to visit with their dead loved ones through employed "bodies" who take a lotus pill.
Unfortunately, I found myself disconnected with the characters, even as I sped through the book. It bothered me that I didn't care what would become of the two leads. While both were unlikeble, I usually still enjoy if character development is present. The narrative felt rushed and surface level, similar to watching a thriller movie with a low level of thrill.
There were some cool flourishes from time to time, and interesting-enough insights into the employees who would accept this type of position. Told to a staff member by a client: "Working around people who are grieving must make you so aware of needing to cherish the moment." This was certainly just okay, but there was some indication that this might turn into a series? Perhaps development will improve along the way. Looking forward to fellow book lover's opinions.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Ever since renting a gorgeous cabin from Amish proprietors for a weekend getaway, I've been wildly curious about the Amish lifestyle. Unfortunately, this was a little letdown. I loved the sections detailing day-to-day life, religious tenents, relationships, and history of the old order Amish.
Most of the story focuses on Wagler's struggle to remain in this rigid community. Wagler was commendable in admitting his faults as well as espousing the virtue of many Amish people. I liked how he retrospectively assessed the situation and didn't smear people for a better story.
However, I think this might have been better suited as a novella or essay. Most of the pages focus on his departures and returns to the community. Rating this book is difficult since Wagler's story mainly consists of back and forth traveling, but I found it slightly tedious. Even when he was in the regular English communities, the sections were vague about his actual experience. Long hours of work and little free time could have been the reason for this- nothing to tell if nothing happens. Overall, I appreciate Wagler's glimpse into a rather secretive community, and it sparked my interest to further explore this culture.
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
I couldn't read this fast enough. It was my Book of the Month selection, and PERFECT beach read. I was intrigued, and felt challenged by the included bookmark, which had the blurb "You won't figure it out. I promise" from the judge who chose this selection. Well, by golly, I really wanted to figure it out. I didn't.
Excuse the overused comparison, but there are similarities to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The deliciously unreliable narrator, crappily behaved man, and annoying "other" woman all form the epitome of a convoluted love triangle. There is even a diary. Don't let that dissuade you. There are fascinating differences even with the similar setup. You vaguely realize certain elements will be key to unlocking part of the mystery behind this supremely disturbing marriage, but the extent is sufficiently difficult to guess. I hope this review has been enticing and vague. You're in for a treat! Don't start late at night.
This was my first of two wonderful vacation books. The husband and I traveled to Mexico for an Avett Brothers at the Beach event, and I was craving quick, contemporary reads that also had substance. Quite the buzz was made about this last year, and I was happy to see it become available at the library. I was impressed with Bennett's debut, and quickly gobbled up this novel. I liked her choice of telling Nadia and Aubrey's story- interspersed with the collective history and story of the "mothers" of the church.
Trigger warning: the topic of abortion is present. I applaud Bennett's bravery for tackling such a controversial issue. I was pleased with her handling. Facts were laid out, and the characters deal with the fallout and emotional repercussions over their life. I've never read a story that discussed the male's grief portion, and found that psychological study interesting. An beautiful story of friendship, betrayal, love, loss, abuse, acceptance....this will strike a chord with any female who has nurtured someone over their life, or simply had a close relationship.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
An extraordinary, poetic look at the natural world- and how we often use it as a mirror for ourselves. In this case, Macdonald trains a temperamental Goshawk (Mabel) after her father's sudden death. Notoriously difficult, they are the most vicious hawk predators.
I haven't heard a single negative thing about this memoir. What luck since I wanted it for the cover art regardless! I read this right before Macdonald came to speak locally at a convention center in Huntington, West Virginia. There is that extra joy in reading when you know the author is touring, and it's a rare occurrence for this area. I even took my little girl, Natalie.
Entertainment Weekly's back cover blurb proclaims "One of the loveliest things you'll read this year....You'll never see a bird overhead the same way again." I heartily agree. Nature writing, while often containing violent facts of life, has a soothing effect on me. Similar to the positive vibes I receive when petting my own animals, there is a comfort that this world contains animals to make life BETTER. Even though we are vastly different, which, as Macdonald discovers, is both comforting and unsettling....but always beautiful.
The reverence for nature is wonderful: "Goshawks resemble sparrowhawks the way leopards resemble housecats. Bigger, yes. But bulkier, bloodier, deadlier, scarier, and much, much harder to see. Birds of deep woodland, not gardens, they're the birdwatchers' dark grail. You might spend a week in a forest full of gosses and never see one, just traces of their presence...Looking for Goshawks is like looking for grace: it comes, but not often, and you don't get to say when or how. But you have a slightly better chance on still, clear mornings in early spring, because that's when goshawks eschew their world under the trees to court each other open sky." Besides the beautiful commentary on Goshawks, her description of the habitats are just as evocative..."The air reeked of pine resin and the pitchy vinegar of wood ants."
I must confess that I grew slightly bored of her psychoanalysis of T.H White, whose book The Goshawk fascinates and influences her interactions with Mabel. However, our search for meaning and instruction after loss takes many forms. Therefore, while I didn't connect to White's sections as a reader, I understood why Macdonald found this crucial in her understanding of Goshawks. The T.H sections occasionally felt tedious, so it was through sheer talent that this author was able to pull off such an extensive back study. From blurbs, I assumed T.H White was mentioned a few times, but mostly in passing.
I would recommend this to anyone who has experienced a loss, or who simply loves nature or animals in any way. There is so much goodness to be had here. I treasure this book.