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crabbygirl Locked account

Joined 11 months, 1 week ago

when a book is really bad, I get through it knowing I'm going to enjoy the trashing

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2023 Reading Goal

2% complete! crabbygirl has read 1 of 39 books.

The Immortalists 2 stars

seems written by committee

2 stars

this book is an example of what is wrong with publishing: the trend to write books by committee. there's some sort of checklist of identities, ethnicities, and social justice issues where the author keeps adding superfluous details until they've accrued enough checkmarks. at it's heart, this is a story of 4 siblings who are told the date of their deaths and how they react to this news. as one life comes to an end, the story moves - baton like - to the next sibling. and once you add all those required identities/ethnicities/issues, it makes for a wide but shallow story. many details of their past are brought up when it is convenient to explain a sibling's present behavior. And I think a better constructed novel would place those incidents in the correct chronology. The mother, watching death after death of her adult children, doesn't even merit a chapter? mind-boggling! …

The Grandmothers (Paperback, 2004, HarperPerennial) 4 stars

Review of 'The Grandmothers' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

my first doris lessing. after watching 'Adore' on screen and learning it was based on a Lessing short story/novella, i just had to read it! the plot of the story is just about the same as the novel, but - in print - the story is one moment, framed by the envy of a waitress that has seen this family come and go and has always wished to be a part of them. a great point of view as the scene deteriorates when the newly-learned truth is shared with both the other wife, and the grandmothers. a fine pivot point that lets the whole of the story be told without immediate judgement and distain because, afterall, it is already done and the punishment delivered.
the book also contains 3 other stories and i really enjoyed the sci-fi type one as well as the one titled: Victoria and the Staveneys. the …

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (Hardcover, 2013, Touchstone, Simon and Schuster) 4 stars

Review of 'Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

this is a book that future dd should have written. well, except for the depression parts. actually the depression parts were so bleak and so convincing that I changed my mind about showing this book to her (even though it is a great example of writing in your own voice, and drawing in your own style) - I truly fear that being exposed to the topic (the way she writes/draws it) might permanently skew her to that mindset. so yes - very powerful stuff!
it's too bad I won't show it to dd because this woman is also brutally honest about the tricks and lies we tell ourselves to cover up our bullsh*t. my only problem? she basically ends her self discovery by just admitting to herself that she's a crappier person than she'd like to be. I'd have preferred an attempt to really change; saying 'it is what it …

The Invention of Wings (2014) 3 stars

Review of 'The Invention of Wings' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

a book that mixes the struggle for freedom from slavery with the a young feminist movement. i liked the earlier parts better - the description of life in the south - and i liked the alternating narrators (one black, one white) but i never got a sense of the purpose of the book. to equate the women's movement with slavery is an insult to the barbarism of slavery, and i can't help but notice the author is white and i'm a little sick of white authors inserting themselves (and their great white hope characters) into essentially black stories/narratives. i'm sort of surprised that Oprah would put it on her bookclub list...

Wherever you go, there you are (2005, Hyperion) 3 stars

The time-honored national bestseller, updated with a new afterword, celebrating 10 years of influencing the …

Review of 'Wherever you go, there you are' on 'Goodreads'

2 stars

still kicking around after 10 years of being published, this book was supposed to be a bible of sorts for meditation. too bad I'm not ready to actually start meditating yet. this book is really meant to be an aid as you start up your practice and contains lots of imagery (which I sort of hated) to help in the meditation process. I found him too goofy at times, too medical at others. and certain phrases he loves to use trigger me to think blah-blah-blah.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis #1-2) (2004, Pantheon) 4 stars

Wise, funny, and heartbreaking, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi’s memoir of growing up in Iran during …

Review of 'Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Persepolis #1-2)' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

i must admit i know very litle about this time in Iran, when the people forced out the shah and then the supposed 'new' republic got hijacked by the Islamic fundamentalists. each chapter acts as both a history lesson and a childhood memoir. i know it was turned into an animated film, an i'm curious to see it.

Anne Frank (2010, Hill and Wang) 3 stars

Review of 'Anne Frank' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

this was a good primer for someone who is going to read anne frank: diary of a young girl. it spans her entire life and so it covers alot of the political background of the time (even things that anne herself doesn't comment on in her diary). there are lots of asides that are labelled 'snapshots' and they do a good job of expaining world events or political movements in the context of her life. all in all, a great book that will emphasize - once again - that anne frank was not only a real person, but also a real talent that was lost when nazism spread across europe.

Life Itself (2011) 5 stars

Review of 'Life Itself' on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

i love this man. his humility and humanity are beautifully captured in this meandering memoir of a regular man who happened to find himself in and/or beside the spotlight of fame.
he starts the book with a summary and it's tone continues throughout the book - he's never mean, resentful or cynical. he freely admits it was a series of happy accidents that led him to his career in journalism, his launch as a movie critic (in print and on tv), and his success as a blogger. with his cancer and loss of lower jaw after 3 painful and unsuccessful attempts at reconstruction, he could easily be a miserable so-and-so. but no, he is grateful for his life and the flood of memories that this new silence has brought.

Blackout (2013) 3 stars

"A mysterious virus is spreading through America, infecting teenagers with incredible powers--and a group of …

Review of 'Blackout' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

really exciting for the first two-thirds: teens with a wide range of super powers (some useful, some not - think the sidekicks at 'skyhigh' - i mean, the ability to kill plant life or blow hot breath is not exactly 'A' material)
i always enjoy the theme of teens as alien/other - capturing the awkwardness and isolation of high school culture. now a virus has broken out that infects only teens (giving them their powers) and the army quarantines them all. but is the army planning on neutralizing them, or using their powers to fight the war of terrorism? this is what really drives the momentum of the book. once it becomes clear who's the bad guy - it's a boring race to the inevitable finish line.

The fire-eaters (2004, Delacorte Press) 4 stars

In 1962 England, despite observing his father's illness and the suffering of the fire-eating Mr. …

Review of 'The fire-eaters' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

what a fine writer this david almond is. he wrote My Name is Mina, and so when this book came up during our history studies, i just had to read it alongside ds.
set during the heavy apprehension of the Cuban missile crisis, the story has fear hit home (his father may be seriously ill) and school (nasty teachers enforcing corporal punishment quickly and randomly). it's a well drafted theme that deserves a wider audience than junior fiction. which is pretty much how i felt about 'My Name is Mina - this author is too good to be missing from the young adult section.

The beauty of humanity movement (2010, Doubleday Canada) 1 star

Searching for answers about her dissident father's disappearance, a Vietnamese-American art curator returns to her …

Review of 'The beauty of humanity movement' on 'Goodreads'

1 star

yes, i guess she had to put 'a novel' otherwise this would look like a buddhist or self help tome. as such, the title was displeasing to me and i put off reading the book for as long as i could before bookclub.
with such a biais to start, i easily found myself not liking it. it was as if the author ate a delicious bowl of pho, became interested in making it at home, learned more and more about vietnamese cuisine, and eventually visited the country as a foodie tourist... the vietnam war and subsequent persecution under the communist regime was fortuitous plot extender.
beyond the idea of being so focused on your own misery, you become blind to the equal misfortunes of your fellow man - i didn't see any solid theme. like i said, it read more like a travel/cuisine guide. (and it irritated me that money …

The fear (2011, Little, Brown and Co.) 4 stars

Journalist Peter Godwin has covered wars. As a soldier, he's fought them. But nothing prepared …

Review of 'The fear' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

this is a horrible book - the content, i mean - not the style or the writing...
i've read the author's other 2 memoirs of Zimbabwe and loved them. same thing this time, 2 or 3 pages in, and i immediately recognized how much i like reading his prose. although the material should be daunting and i should feel reluctant to immerse myself in all this true violence, i continually looked forward to the next time i could pick up the book.
of course, i feel angry about the content. i feel ashamed that this all went on while i lived my little life in 2009, only vaguely hearing the news reports. i feel disheartened over the ease in which some people embody evil.

The Ultimate TFSA Guide: Strategies For Building A Tax-free Fortune (2010) 1 star

Review of 'The Ultimate TFSA Guide: Strategies For Building A Tax-free Fortune' on 'Goodreads'

1 star

this topic did not deserve a full book. it could have easily been covered in a pamplet. the author gives a speil about how the conservatives came around to introducing the TFSA and how few canadians are properly taking advantage of it. but then he does his own comparision of this product vs RESPs for education savings and finds RESPs yield a higher rate. same thing when he does a comparison with saving for house using RRSPs - RRSPs are better. and RRSPs are better if you'll be in a lower tax bracket in the future, when you take out the cash. so really, didn't he just explain WHY so many people are not using TFSAs yet? they are choosing superior paths dependant upon their goal.
oh, and the author continually uses 4 or 5% as the annual growth of a TFSA - ha! more like 1-2%