Stranger in a Strange Land

Robert A. Heinlein

Stranger in a Strange Land (Remembering Tomorrow) by [Heinlein, Robert A.]

I first read this book a looooong time ago, when I was young and impressionable. Unfortunately, I have to say the years have not improved it. I know a little more than I did 50 years ago and no longer admire characters that are thinly disguised versions of the author, complete with misogyny and homophobia. There are pages and pages of preachiness that don’t add anything to the book, and actively take away from the story. There is Heinlein’s deliberate misunderstanding and misinterpretation of chosen Bible verses to discredit the Bible.

I could go on, but the only redeeming portions of this book are Jubal’s interpretation of Rodin’s sculptures. Those I could read and reread. The rest of it—meh.

 

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The Late Scholar

Jill Paton Walsh

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This book was not quite terrible, but close. I can read and reread Sayers’ writing for her wonderful characters, who are missing from this book. Each book in the series has weaker and weaker characters until they are missing in action in this one. And when they do appear, they do unbelievable things. No way would Lord Peter have forced Bunter to sit down and eat dinner with him and Harriet. I hope she doesn’t write any more. It’s like fan fiction by someone who isn’t really a fan.

I’m Just a Person

Tig Notaro

I'm Just a Person by [Notaro, Tig]

So many memoirs of famous people are ghost written. If this was one of them, props to the writer. Every page glows with honesty about Tig’s life, her mother’s death, her relationship with her stepfather, her struggles with health, and her personal relationships. It’s a refreshing look at person’s life struggles.

Best of luck to her in her career and continued good health.

“I Give You My Body”

Diana Gabaldon

"I Give You My Body . . .": How I Write Sex Scenes (Kindle Single) by [Gabaldon, Diana]

As an editor, I know how authors struggle writing sex scenes. Fighting embarrassment, not wanting to reveal their own experience, or just general reticence hamper their ability to write believable sex scenes. This book is an account of how Gabaldon approaches a sex scene. Complete with examples from her work, she describes good sex, sex between characters of the same sex, and bad sex (rape or non-consensual sex).

It should be of help to anyone struggling with putting a sex scene or several in their books.

Funny in Farsi

Firoozeh Dumas

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This woman is funny in any language, and it’s a good thing she is. Instead of whining about the terrible things that have happened to her and her family, she chooses to see the humorous side of things. I suspect she does her grieving in private, covering it with light-hearted recollections of her time in America and trips back to Iran. The result is a completely amusing account of her attempts to adjust to a new culture, a new language, and a new society, while coping with her family (especially her father), and extensive relatives.

The Unyielding

Shelly Laurenston

The Unyielding (Call Of Crows) by [Laurenston, Shelly]

 

I liked the first two books in the series better than this one. That being said, I look forward to reading more of the Crows and the Vikings who love them.

I think what didn’t do it for me in this book was the character of Erin. She just wasn’t as appealing as Kera and Jace in the previous books. Also the other characters didn’t have much to do but mark time until Erin showed up again.

That being said, it was a fun romp.

Taft

Ann Patchett

Taft by Ann Patchett

This book ended 100 pages too soon. I wasn’t full of the story. I wanted more. More about black bar owner John Nickle, his ex-wife Marion, and his son Franklin. More about Fay Taft, a 17-year-old waitress who comes to work for John and Carl, her good-for-nothing brother. Does John ever take up drumming again? Does he teach Franklin? Does Carl go to prison? So many questions to answer.

I love Ann Patchett ever since reading Bel Canto. I’m reading my way through her books and have loved Patron Saint of Liars and The Magician’s Assistant. She’s four for four now.

A Stitch of Time

Lauren Marks

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One minute she was on stage in Edinburgh singing karaoke with her friend. Then an aneurysm in her brain she didn’t know she had ruptured, and she woke in a Scottish hospital, unable to speak, read, or  write. This time of her life, which she refers to as The Quiet, had a name—aphasia. She struggles to regain her speaking ability and succeeds over the following months.

The most interesting thing in her account is the change in her personality. Her boyfriend expects her to return to the girl she was, but that woman is gone forever. She is a new creation and struggles to learn who she has become.

A fascinating account of how the brain works, and what it is like when it doesn’t.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Neil Gaiman

I can’t make up my mind whether this is an adult fairy tale masquerading as a book for children or a children’s fairy tale appealing to adults. I am confused by Gaiman’s skills as a writer (which appeals to adults) or to the age of the characters (which appeals to children). On the whole, I’d choose to put it in the adult fantasy genre. I think the character of Ursula Monkton and the actions of the father are too frightening for children.

The use of the maiden-mother-crone imagery for the Hempstock women is the most appealing aspect of the book. The life-threatening actions of Ursula and the boy’s father under her influence are the most frightening. Children need to trust in their caregivers, not be afraid of them. This element was what I found most troubling about Coraline as well.

Things are often not what they seem, and that can be frightening to us adults as well as children.

 

Women Like Us

Jason Pomerance

Women Like Us by [Pomerance, Jason]

I bought this book with low expectations. What man would dare call his book ‘Women Like Us’ without writing under a pseudonym? Well, as it turned out, this is a pretty good read. At first I thought is was to be the story of Susan and Andrew, an freelance chef and her boyfriend blueblood Andrew. Ultimately, though the story is taken over by her pushy, efficient mother-in-law, the Pasadena matriarch Edith. The book crackles when Edith is around, and soon I found myself caught up in the story. Bravo, Edith!