Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

Where'd You Go, BernadetteWhere'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fun, fabulous tale told by Bernadette's daughter Bee (short for Balakrishna) through the use of emails, notes and internal narration.  The story takes place in Seattle, where Bernadette, her husband Elgin and Bee live in a dilapidated former girls' school with blackberry brambles claiming the basement and ever-growing holes in the roof ushering the rain inside.  Elgin works at Microsoft, writing code for a robot designed to be controlled by thought.  When Bee earns perfect grades, she chooses a family trip to Antarctica for her prize, and Bernadette is determined not to let Bee down despite her fear of crowds and severe seasickness.

As indicated by the title, Bernadette disappears.  I don't want to give any more of the story line away, so you'll have to sit down and read it to see what happens.  It's highly entertaining, interesting and engrossing.  A light, different type of story.

I did notice two inconsistencies in the story line while reading;  I won't mention them here as they occur in the last third of the story.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Salvage the BonesSalvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the story of a family in Mississippi, a family who struggles daily, and their preparations for Hurricane Katrina.  Esch, the fifteen-year-old female narrator, has three brothers and so desperately seeks male approval (and the avoidance of disapproval) she discovers she's pregnant after a few encounters with her brothers friend.  Their mother is deceased and their father is an alcoholic.  The four kids are largely on their own, but their father does start preparations for the Hurricane.  His preparations, of course, are meager in the face of Category 5 Katrina.

Family, loyalty, dog fighting, struggle and survival and strength.  And poetry.  The story is written with wonderful metaphors so the reader sees and experiences everything along with Esch.  Definitely worth reading (and underlining passages)!

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

How Reading Changed My Life

How Reading Changed My LifeHow Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Of course it's a good book!  Anna Quindlen doesn't know how to write any other kind.  I'm sure her grocery lists are riveting.

This is a salute to reading; it's a love letter to reading;  it's a life story about a reader reading.  As an avid, compulsive reader I identified with most of Anna's experiences.  I, too, have marked important life events by reading;  I've solved life problems by reading;  I've elevated reading to its natural rank in my daily life and I've moved beyond reading (without letting go of the book) to writing, although I'm not nearly as prolific or accomplished as A. Quindlen.

It's a short book with a deep heart-felt message, a kind of thank you note to reading, and a note of gratitude to the life she's lead, which allowed her to read.  The end includes several interesting reading lists, suitable to pass around book clubs (one list is actually just for book clubs).

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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Truth Like the Sun

Truth Like the SunTruth Like the Sun by Jim Lynch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seattle is itself a character in this story of political corruption, greed, and ancient secrets.  One story line covers the 1962 World's Fair, held in Seattle, exposing the back alley deals between the city's most powerful men.  The other story line propels the reader into 2001, when Mr. Seattle decides to save his city by running for mayor, stirring the interest of a young reporter new to the city and eager to expose his past.  The book alternates story lines chapter by chapter, unveiling every secret friendship and money-laundering deal and with perfect timing.

Truth Like the Sun is very different from Lynch's other book, Border Songs, but both provide an enjoyable, engrossing read.  Seattle has always intrigued me; now it's on my list of travel destinations.

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Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Four Hour Chef by Timothy Ferriss

Four Hour ChefFour Hour Chef by Timothy Ferriss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This tome will reside on my reference shelf until I die.  The title is somewhat of a misnomer--the reader will learn how to become a chef within four hours, it's true, but she'll also learn how to butcher a chicken, how to use spices, and how to memorize a deck of cards in 43 seconds.  Ferriss also covers such practical matters as how to survive in the wild, the Rule of Threes, and a fairly comprehensive study of Meta-Learning.  He provides cheat sheets.

This book, if I'd written it, would have been titled The Four-Hour Life Hack.  Read it and improve your life in some way.  Learn everything!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention.  It's gorgeous.  Gazing at the hundreds of high-quality color photographs throughout, and enjoying the humor of Tim Ferriss, will life even the bluest of souls.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New FutureThe $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What an eye-opening book!  Chris Guillebeau, I'm pretty sure, is living my life, or at least the one I dream about.  He travels the world and makes money, all at the same time.  And he shares his story, and others' stories, so his readers can enjoy the same kind of lifestyle.  If they're willing to take the leap, which I'm not.  BUT, if I didn't have a great job and didn't live near my family and was maybe twenty years younger, I'd have started doing some of the things he suggested before I finished the book.

Good thing I bought this for my daughter (I frequently read books before giving them away as gifts) as she's about twenty years younger than I am, so maybe she'll take off and fly with Chris's ideas.

If you're looking for an inspiring book, if you need some entrepreneurial motivation, or if you'd just like to learn how the lucky, adventurous people live, read this book!

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