Thursday, January 22, 2015

China Road

China Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising PowerChina Road: A Journey into the Future of a Rising Power by Rob Gifford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book excited me because it opened my eyes to life in China today...something I guess I've not considered very deeply. The author certainly colors his observances with his own history of being from Britain, living in China for a number of years, and now doing a farewell trip. He has an affinity for the Chinese people, to be sure, but shows the effect of a tumultuous and not very happy history. It certainly made me more interested in what happens to a people denied certain freedoms as they try to compete with a very different Western civilization.

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The Husband's Secret

OThe Husband's SecretThe Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was just a good book. The story was intriguing, great pacing, good characters, writing good enough to move the story in a graceful way but not so literary as to be a distraction. Very thought provoking on what secrets you should tell and which ones to bury with you. How do secrets affect you and how you see the world, and how do they affect others-both the tellng and the keeping of them. I had a couple of sticking points with the main event in the novel but they were satisfactorily cleared up in the epilogue. One of the best reads for me in 2014.

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Life After Life

Life After LifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is right up my alley. There is nothing that intrigues me more than how one decision can affect your whole life. So I loved that aspect of the book. I loved that sometimes she ended up in exactly the same predicament despite changing some details. Other times her destiny was determined by the smallest of chances, or a simple conversation. I loved how sometimes she was brave, and sometimes she was crazy. The language was beautiful..."the black bat of death..." And I learned a lot about that time period, especially when she ended up in Germany.
Time is depicted as a snake eating itself, a never ending circle, and the whole book felt vey cyclical to me. So much so, it could get a little confusing at times where you were at in each life....(was this the life where they found the dead girl...no, wait, that was 2 lives ago). The very positive critical reviews I read on this, each reviewer read the book more than once. I think a second reading would go a long way in appreciating even more nuances and foreshadowing, but I had enough of the merry go round by the time I was through. Still, it is a ride I would be willing to take again after my head clears.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Amy

The white light is not
the golden rays
we laughed mouthfuls of,
or breathed in park grass,
or saw in the candy colored couches.
The white light has blue
around the edges.
It makes you look pale.
The tunnel of dancing dust
stretches to infinity
until it hits upon you
exploding with red and grey,
then resumes its wanderings.
Your white light fires on my iris
with teeth and blood and black.
Each exposure shortens our breath
until the threads of darkness
weave through the hollow light
and consumes us.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Lost in Shangrila-la

Lost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War IILost in Shangri-la: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating read of a true life plane crash and rescue.  I thought Zuckoff did a great job telling the story. I especially liked how he interviewed the natives and got their side of the story.  It was interesting to see what the Americans thought the natives were thinking/doing vs. what they were actually thinking/doing.  And it was interesting to see the survivors evolution of what they thought about the natives as they got to know them better.  The crash and rescue were fascinating as well.


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The Rent Collector

The Rent CollectorThe Rent Collector by Camron Wright
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Heartfelt and inspirational story about a family that lives at the dump in Cambodia, and the power of being literate...not only to read and share stories, thoughts, feelings, but just to make life that much easier...you can read bus signs for yourself instead of asking strangers and hoping for the best.  But the book also is quick to point out that while the Weatern ideal of education is beneficial, the Cambodians have their own wisdom that may be better than Western science.
The author used real people and events in his story and then added fictionalized events.  In book club, one reader pointed out how much she hated that approach...tell a real story or a fictional one, not half and half.  I  realized that that is what didn't work for me in this book as well.  Storylines were dropped, characters made decisions that didn't make sense...and I think these were a product of trying to make his fictional characters follow the same path as the "real"ones.  But by giving them fictional events, he has changed their reality and they simply can't end up in the same place.  By trying to make them do so felt contrived, and some of the magic of the story is lost.


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My Sister's Grave

My Sister's GraveMy Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a good solid who dun it.  The characters may have been a little cliche...tough as nails girl cop, crusty cranky sheriff,  spooky convict but it served the story well in this instance.  My only complaint is some pacing issues.  The first of the book moves ok...scenes of finding a body buried several years ago with flashbacks about the night Tracy last saw her sister alive, but the author reveals too much in the flashback so the court scenes in the middle have no ammunition, no surprises for the reader.  But the ending picks up again with action and twist that is pretty good.


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Friday, January 2, 2015

Thin

Never to be
Yellow
Pared away
Discarded on the cutting board
But to be
Red and
White and
Fleshy peach
(A cherub fruit
Round and fuzzy
Where fingers dent black
To find the
Stone--
A Valentine lace mass of
Blood-red trees)
My white Valentine lace bones
Holds my Valentine heart--
A peach-less stone.