Now 2021 Previous Articles Road Essays Road Reviews Author Black Authors Title Source Age Genre Series Format Inclusivity LGBTA Portfolio Artwork WIP

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish



Privacy policy

This blog does not collect personal data. It doesn't set cookies. Email addresses are used to respond to comments or "contact us" messages and then deleted.



 

 

Something Rotten: 05/31/07

Something Rotten

Most people I've spoken with who enjoy the Thursday Next series like it for the way real and fictional people can travel in, and out and between books. Personally I think Fforde is wasting his time and talent on this aspect of his world. I prefer the time travel aspects, especially the idea of eradication and re-actualization.

While Something Rotten is mostly bogged down with the book stuff, at least Thursday's personal life gets back on track and having seen closure in the one piece of plot I was interested in, I'm able now to ignore the rest of the books in the series. Finally Fforde bothers flesh out the ramifications of time travel on the fabric of society.

Fforde comes close to writing in the style of Philip K. Dick in what he does with the Goliath Corporation. What happens when a huge corporation changes its ways because it's found religion and not only that, is now doing business as a religion? Think of it as a sillier version of The Man in the High Castle.

Comments (1)


The Art World Dream: 05/30/07

Art World Dream

The Art World Dream isn't a book I would have picked up for myself but it was a bonus book that came with some other books I bought back in 2002. As with many advice books, the main point of the book seems to be: do it the author's way or no way at all. There is no flexibility to the advice and then Rudd goes on to suggest that any artist who feels the need to read his book is probably already a failed artist! What's the point of reading a book if the author assumes the average reader can't cut it in his industry?

According to Rudd there is nothing to be gained financially or emotionally by making it as a small locally known artist. Nor is there any point in being a hobby artist. The only true path to success is through real estate, big shows (in New York, of course) and new technologies.

Comments (1)


Sacred Symbols: Ancient Egypt: 05/29/07

Sacred Symbols: Ancient Egypt

Herebedragons's son and I are fascinated by books about ancient Egypt. So when this little book was offered at the last BookCrossing meeting, I took it to read and to then send it onto Herebedragons.

The book has beautiful photographs but the binding is cheap and the descriptions written for each photograph are simplistic. For a fan of the subject the book doesn't have much to offer beyond the pretty pictures.

The book is also nothing more than one of those cheap mini-books often on offer at in grocery store checkout lines. It doesn't even list an author, just the publisher. Nor does it list a bibliography or citations. Even stocking stuffer books should give credit where credit is due! Comments (0)


Mrs. P's Journey: 05/29/07

Mrs. P's Journey

Phyllis Pearsall grew up around cartography and decided after a failed marriage to make her own map of London. She did it at a time when the London maps were horribly out of date. Through a process of trial and error and thousands of miles walked, she put together the London A to Z map and created a new company in the process.

It was the process of making the map and the effects of the map on the business, London, etc, is what I wanted to read about. From page 200 onward, Mrs. P's Journey finally comes on topic after languishing on Mrs. P's parents. While I suppose it's interesting to learn about her father's dabbling in cartography, the bulk of the book is wasted on irrelevant details.

Comments (0)


Notes from Underground: 05/24/07

Sixteen Short Novels

I picked up Sixteen Short Novels at the September BookCrossing meeting last year. Yes; I went a week postpartum and Harriet went too. My goal is to read and review each of these short novels but if I do it all at once I'll only get this one massive book read for quite some time. Instead, I'll concentrate on each novel separately and count each one as its own book just as I did for the four novellas in Four Past Midnight. At that rate I figure I can read about three of these short novels a month and I should have the book ready for release by Harriet's first birthday.

I'm almost to the halfway point in this 1000+ page tome. "Notes from Underground" reads like one of those manifestos oft-times left behind by someone who has gone postal. The first half of the tale is a set of observations on life and the "enjoyment of suffering." The second half which is the story proper, follows the underground man (he never names himself) as he tries to fit in at work. When he's rebuffed he tries picking a fight. When that doesn't work, he tries to reunite with some acquaintances and of course, that doesn't work either. At last he tries to date a girl and that too ends in failure. Can this book be any more "emo"?

Comments (0)


Trapped in Death Cave: 05/23/07

Trapped in Death Cave

Trapped in Death Cave is another book I got from the now defunct book relay site. It was published when I was in elementary school and had I heard of the book back then I would have enjoyed it because I was into books like The Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden.

Trapped in Death Cave does have some entertaining adventure scenes in the second half but the first half takes too long to establish the story. The first couple chapters languish over the retelling of a legend that while key to the plot doesn't need to be told in the excruciating detail that it is.

My favorite part of the book though is Mrs. Becker. She is introduced as the typical children's horror story witch but she is allowed to flesh out. She's a well needed adult figure to help the protagonists out of their trouble but she's also fun. She reminds me of what Pippi Longstocking would be like as a grownup.

Comments (1)


The Last Camel Died at Noon: 05/22/07

The Last Camel Died at Noon

Back in junior high school I read Crocodile on the Sandbank and fell in love with the Amelia Peabody series. I read up to The Last Camel Died at Noon but didn't have the chance to read it because my studies got in the way as did the temptation of a library filled with much better books! It's only in the last few years that I've gone back to reading the series, though I'm no longer trying to read them in order.

The Last Camel Died at Noon introduces Nefret, a character whose back story is later more fully explained in Children of the Storm (a book I read in 2005). Both book suffer from being too Ramses-centric and from plot-bloat.

Of the 400 pages, the first 100 are quite good as are the last 100. The middle 200 slog through a whole bunch of heavy handed foreshadowing that makes this "dear reader" wonder just how dense Amelia, Radcliff and Ramses really are. Characters who are in disguise are so obvious in their costumes and aliases that it's painful to wait for the protagonists to catch up. The criminal of the book might as well just introduce himself as such because again his strange behavior and motives are completely ignored.

If you're a fan of the series and like to read things in order, go ahead and read the book. If you're not that devoted, it's okay to skip the book. Everything will be summed up for you in later volumes (and completely rehashed in Children of the Storm).

Comments (3)


Good Bones and Simple Murders: 05/21/07

Good Bones and Simple Murders

When I was still relatively new to BookCrossing, I signed up for a pair of Atwood book rings that I really enjoyed: Oryx and Crake and The Handmaid's Tale. Having enjoyed those two books, I signed up for more book rings and so far I've been disappointed with what I've read (Alias Grace and Cats-Eye).

My latest Atwood read, Good Bones and Simple Murders is the last of these book rings and it's right in the middle. There are stories I really enjoyed and others that annoyed me to no end. In the end, the annoying stories out numbered the enjoyable ones, making for a tedious read.

The Good:

Atwood illustrated all her stories . They are delightful and add a certain something to the stories. They are all thankfully short so even the annoying stories are over quickly. There are some lovely alternate future stories that take apart modern society in the vein of Oryx and Crake and The Handmaid's Tale. There are some amusing retellings of classic stories, like Gertrude's advice to her son, Hamlet.

The Bad:

I really don't like "battle of the sexes" stories. These comparisons between men and women get tiresome fast and this book is overly full of stories based around these stereotypes. I don't like stories that are strictly a rant by an overly emotional protagonist. Again, this book is rather heavy with ranting protagonists.

Comments (0)


Chasing the Dime: 05/20/07

Chasing the Dime

Chasing the Dime is another book I got from one of the BookCrossing meetings. It's a fast paced thriller set in Santa Monica. Things start simply enough, Henry Pierce, recently divorced, is getting phone calls for a prostitute. Rather than request another new phone number, Pierce is drawn into a dangerous web when he tries to find the woman who had the phone number before he did.

The rest of the book is divided equally between the mystery of what happened to Lily, Pierce's search for Lily and the reasons behind Pierce's search. There is also a side plot of Pierce's biotech company racing the clock to get a patent filed on a breakthrough piece of nanotechnology. Tempting as it is to skip the boring bits of technobable, this tangential plot does end up being important to the rest of the book.

While I enjoyed the book on the first read, it only works because of Pierce's odd character flaws. Using a wrong number as a form of corporate espionage wouldn't normally work for a thriller plot but some how here they do. I'm not sure though I'd enjoy reading through Pierce's leaps of faith a second time.

Comments (0)


In the Beginning... Was the Command Line: 05/19/07

In the Beginning... Was the Command Line

In the Beginning... was a RABCK to me from another BookCrosser. I had put it on my wishlist after enjoying Snowcrash and wanted to see what he'd have to say in a nonfiction book about computers. Stephenson's turn of phrase reminds me a bit of Scott Adams in both the good and the bad.

Overall I enjoyed the book but I was glad it was a short one. The chapters from his comparison of Disney World to the modern day operating system onward drag. These final essays are more rants than insights into the nature of computers and programming. I got rather tired about his wining about failed computers and his inability to install Windows NT after giving up on MacOS. What he fails to realize is that hardware failures are part and parcel of working with mobile machines (laptops). They will never be as stable as their desktop counterparts. Instead, though, he blames the OS.

The book also suffers from being out of date. BeOS is dead and MacOS is now a flavor of Unix. It also has a command line. New Macs also now run on Intel chips so his complaints against the Motorola chips are also moot. But in all fairness, the book was published in 1999 when Apple's future wasn't too bright.

Comments (0)


Galactic Pot-Healer: 05/18/07

Galactic pothealer.html

I got a copy of Galactic Pot-Healer from another BookCrossing member. Although I enjoyed this book thoroughly, I'm not sure my short review can do this book justice. It's one of those books that though short, requires a lot of re-reading and thought.

The basic plot is fairly typical Dick: a common man in a deadened job finds himself exposed to the true mysteries of world and is uncertain how to deal with it all. Meet Joe Fernwright, pot-healer in a dead-end job with lots of time on his hands and nothing to do. In a world of metal and plastic, no one ever seems to need his ceramic mending skills until the demigod of a distant planet offers him a job he cannot refuse.

Joe is presented with a prophesy in the form of the Book, a precognitive tome written by the native Kalends. So many books now would show the protagonist trying to thwart the vision and exert free will (to then either succeed or fail). This book, though, embraces Fatalism as a central theme and Joe goes by the Book.

In the end of Galactic Pot-Healer with all its discussions of Faustian deals and Fatalism and its poking fun at government, Joe's adventures to Plowman's Planet turn out to be an elaborate shaggy-dog story.

Comments (0)


Headache Relief for Women: 05/17/07

Headache Relief

As a long time sufferer of migraines, I was intrigued by this book when it showed up at one of the recent BookCrossing meetings. I usually steer clear of self help type books but I thought I'd take a chance on Headache Relief for Women just in case it had some tips that I had so far missed. I wish I hadn't bothered reading this book. Suffice it to say, I hated it.

The book starts out okay. The introductory chapter gives some statistics on who suffers from migraines most and some other interesting facts. It appears to be a rather straight forward medical book for the general public.

By the second or third chapter though, the book's tone becomes increasingly patronizing. The message seems to be: oh dear suffering woman who is too shy and stupid to stand up to her doctor, we will come and cure you and explain to you how your body works because you are just a woman.

The answers provided in the book are no different than any other migraine book: keep a diary of headaches; figure out what factors might be triggers; try to change lifestyle to avoid these triggers; if migraines persist, here are some things to ask your doctor. The last couple of chapters are a list of every known drug (as of 1995) and how they can be used to keep the hysterical migraineur doped up enough to not notice her headache. The book also reads like a 250 page infomercial for their own headache clinic.

Comments (0)


Ward No. Six: 05/16/07

Sixteen Short Novels

I picked up Sixteen Short Novels at the September BookCrossing meeting last year. Yes; I went a week postpartum and Harriet went too. My goal is to read and review each of these short novels but if I do it all at once I'll only get this one massive book read for quite some time. Instead, I'll concentrate on each novel separately and count each one as its own book just as I did for the four novellas in Four Past Midnight. At that rate I figure I can read about three of these short novels a month and I should have the book ready for release by Harriet's first birthday.

"Ward No. Six" is mostly a mood piece. It asks the question who is really sane: the people in the asylum or the people on the outside. For Dr. Andrei Yefimich, the answer is "yes." He goes from running the asylum to being a resident of Ward no. 6. It is his quest to experience "real life" that leads him to lose his job, travel Europe, fall into depression and ultimately be locked away in the very hospital that fired him.

Comments (4)


A Christmas Story: 05/15/07

Christmas Story

A Christmas Story is a series of semi-autobiographical short stories by humorist Jean Shepherd. They were first published in Playboy in the mid 1960s. These stories were later put together to make the very funny film of the same title in 1983. The book in its current form was published posthumously in 2003.

The short stories which now act as chapters are:

  • "Duel in the Snow, or the Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid"
  • "The Counterfeit Secret Circle Member Gets the Message, or the ASP Strikes Again"
  • "My Old Man and the Lascivious Special Award that Heralded the Birth of Pop Art"
  • "Grover Dill and the Tasmanian Devil"
  • "The Grandstand Passion Play of Delbert and the Bumpus Hounds"

Of these stories, my favorite two are "My Old Man..." and "...Bumpus Hounds." The first covers the scene with the lamp and I'm just a fan of that sort of kitsch. Reading his family's reaction to the lamp always makes me smile and laugh. The "...Bumpus Hounds" story closes out the book with a tale of the worst neighbors imaginable and how they ruined the Easter ham. It's the description of the house's deterioration and the hordes of animals that crack me up in that story.

Overall, A Christmas Story is a very quick read. It's only a 124 pages. I think the film takes longer to watch the book does to read! The book interestingly has less swearing than the film which surprised me.

Comments (0)


Housekeeping: 05/14/07

Housekeeping

Housekeeping is the first new book I've bought on a complete whim. It's also one of the best books I've read in 2007 so far. I have to admit that I chose it for two reasons: the gorgeous photograph of a train bridge and its length (only 224 pages).

While Ruth is the narrator and the story centers around the misfortunes of her family, the true protagonist is Fingerbone, a place somewhere near Seattle but in the cold, remote regions of the mountains. The temperamental lake and the severe winters are constant challenges to the residents of Fingerbone. The lake is constantly claiming victims, including an entire train and later most of the houses.

It is against this hard wilderness and ever present threat of damp and mold that Ruth tells her story of her family and how it dwindled down to just Aunt Sylvie, sister Lucille and herself. It is also the story of the family house and how it weathers its many different owners and falls into disrepair under Aunt Sylvie's watch.

Aunt Sylvie is by far the most interesting and best realized character in the novel. The responsibility of raising and caring for Ruth and Lucille falls on her shoulders when her sisters flee back to Seattle to live in the luxury of their basement hotel room. Ruth's descriptions of how the house changes after Sylvie's arrival beautifully and subtlety describes just how overwhelmed Sylvie is by the responsibility of caring for a house and two young children. And yet it's also clear that in her own way, Sylvie does love the children.

Comments (4)


Bare: 05/13/07

Bare

I picked up Bare at one of last year's BookCrossing meetings because I had enjoyed a similar behind the scenes book (The Fantasy Factory). Bare had its moments, like the first chapter where the author describes her exhibitionist childhood and a later chapter where she describes the virtues of sensible shoes for stripping and pole dancing.

Most of the book though was rather dry. Eaves introduces us to some of her coworkers by their home and stage identities and tries to explain why these women also chose to be exotic dancers but she never really comes to a convincing thesis or argument. Instead the book is a laundry list of details and dry first hand accounts. It reads more like a "what I did for summer vacation" paper than a memoir or a study of the industry.

A few people asked if there were "illustrations" and no, there aren't.

Comments (0)


Sacred Flowers: 05/12/07

Sacred Flowers

I picked up Sacred Flowers for its lovely illustrations and because it was short. Sometimes it's nice to have a short book to read in between the longer ones. I enjoyed learning about the meaning of flowers and their use in history, but the mystical uses for flowers were just silly. I realize that flowers have been used for spells and wards and whatnot but these uses included in the book are given the same weight as the other facts in the book. Nonetheless, it was still a nice diversion for an hour or so of reading.

Comments (0)


Being Committed: 05/11/07

Being Committed

Being Committed is the worst book I've read so far this year. Considering I've read 140 so far, that's pretty bad! I was surprised at how much I hated it given how I had found Behaving Like Adults to be a surprisingly strong novel.

Hannah, the protagonist, is a detective who claims throughout the novel to understand people and yet she fails miserably in her own basic relationships. When her boyfriend of five years proposes to her, she turns him down and the plot goes down hill from there.

In fact the only sensible character in this entire novel (among the main characters) is Hannah's ex-boyfriend. He has the sense to dump her and move on. Of course she pines after him and when she can't have him back (after dumping him!) she goes after her ex-husband.

Yes, this stupid twit had been married once before to a perfectly nice young man. They had married young and she had divorced him after six months. Why? Well, who the hell knows. Hannah never gives a good reason and Maxted never breaks in to add any extra insight.

So somehow I'm supposed to follow along with Hannah and agree with all her ludicrous observations on humankind and care about her feelings. Well, sorry, but I don't. Hannah is a shallow, self obsessed, narcissistic good-for-nothing and I feel sorry for her ex.

Comments (1)


Giorgio: 05/10/07

Giorgio

Giorgio is another of the children's books that I got at the April BookCrossing meeting. It's also the strangest of the books. Giorgio is an Italian train who takes passengers down to a seaside resort. Jealous of the passengers who sail away on boats, Giorgio wants to ride on a boat too. The other trains, of course, tell Giorgio how silly he is to want to ride on a boat when trains ride on tracks. But of course, Giorgio gets his wish one day. He gets to ride a special train equipped ferry boat to take some school children to Sicily.

Giorgio's gingerbread illustrations are really distracting. They're just too happy and too cute. I normally like stories about trains but this book didn't hold my attention.

Comments (2)


Spooky California: 05/09/07

Spooky California

Spooky California is one of a series of "Spooky" tales from each of the 50 states. I picked up a copy because I'm a native Californian and have visited many of the places pointed out on the map at the front of the book. To see the entire set of books, check out the author's website.

The book contains a mixture of ghost stories and folklore. The first half of the book is devoted to the ghost stories. The second half contains the stories that defy categorization.

Of the stories my favorites were "Vengeance" about a vengeance demon, in this case the ghost of a murdered wife. I liked it because it reflected the strong Japanese cultural influences in San Francisco. The "Ghost Ship" story reminded me of Inca Gold by Clive Cussler and I have to wonder if the folk tale wasn't inspiration for his novel. The story of the ghost bells brought back memories of tales we were told about the San Diego mission. For San Jose, the book includes a brief history of The Winchester Mystery House (a place I still want to visit).

While the stories were interesting to me as a Californian because I've visited most of the places listed and have heard versions of most of these stories, the writing was at times rather dry. I had to read a story or two and put the book aside and then pick it up again later.

Comments (0)


Pudd'nhead Wilson: 05/08/07

Sixteen Short Novels

I picked up Sixteen Short Novels at the September BookCrossing meeting last year. Yes; I went a week postpartum and Harriet went too. My goal is to read and review each of these short novels but if I do it all at once I'll only get this one massive book read for quite some time. Instead, I'll concentrate on each novel separately and count each one as its own book just as I did for the four novellas in Four Past Midnight. At that rate I figure I can read about three of these short novels a month and I should have the book ready for release by Harriet's first birthday.

Mark Twain is one of my favorite authors but I am not overly fond of his southern dialect novels. In fact me least favorite of his works are Huckleberry Finn and Pudd'nhead Wilson. Both these books are important pieces of American literature and draw attention to underbelly of Southern society. But I still don't like them.

That being said, Puddin'head isn't the protagonist of the novel which bears his name. He is a stand in for Twain. He's the social bumpkin who refuses to take part in "polite" Southern society. He is the Greek chorus to this tragedy.

The actual protogranists are Tom and Chambers. They share the same birthday and are nearly identical. There's only one problem: Tom is white and Chambers is black (although he's light skinned enough to pass as white). In an act of deseperation to save her son from being "sold down the river", Chamber's mother (and Tom's wet nurse), switches her son for Tom (the master's son).

The rest of the book is the unfolding results of this initial switching. It's a story of nature vs. nurture. But this morality tale is sloppily and hastily written. While it avoids the heavy melodrama of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

Comments (0)


The Virgin Blue: 05/07/07

The Virgin Blue

Midwife Ella Turner moves to France with her architect husband Rick. When they start trying for their first baby, Ella starts having nightmares about Isabelle du Moulin and a suffocating blue. Unsatisfied with her life in Toulouse, Ella has an affair and then flees briefly to distant relatives in Switzerland while she decides what she wants to do with her life.

To flesh out Ella's nightmares, Chevalier writes flashbacks of Isabelle's life. These flashbacks are by far the weakest piece of the novel and the most frustrating to read. Chevalier chose to write the dialogue in a very stilted fashion, using en dashes in place of quotes. This unfortunate choice in editing makes these flashbacks nearly unreadable and breaks the otherwise easy flow of the novel's narrative.

Ella's choice to leave Rick is never explained to satisfaction. Yes, she is lonely and feeling isolated in a foreign country but she never tries to express her dissatisfaction with Rick. Nor does she adequately explain how the nightmares are affecting her. Ultimately I felt sorry for Rick who may never get to know his child because of his wife's selfish behavior.

Comments (2)


The Autobiography of Malcolm X: 05/06/07

Malcolm X

Published the year of Malcolm X's death, Alex Haley's cowritten autobiography gets into the heart and soul of famous spokesman for the Nation of Islam. Except for Haley's epilogue, the book offers very few explanations for Malcolm's actions through out his life, instead each chapter is almost a parable unto itself.

As a historical document, the autobiography paints a vivid picture of life in America in the 1920s through the 1960s from the perspective of a young black man. While Malcolm doesn't brush aside his crimes as a youth, he doesn't ever question his own convictions about Elijah Muhammad's message or his faith as a converted Muslim. Yet through out he rails (and rightfully so) about the prejudices and misconceptions he has witnessed in other people. Perhaps if he had lived longer he would have had time to examine himself with greater depth and clarity.

Comments (0)


Puckoon: 05/05/07

Puckoon

The small village of Puckoon finds itself in the middle of the border dispute between Ireland and Northern Ireland. The village itself is in Ireland but the British have redrawn the border, placing the cemetery into Northern Ireland. That's the premise for this very silly novel by Spike Milligan.

Having a border check point in a cemetery leads to ingenious scenes like dead being sent for passport photos before they can be buried. It also leads to more serious things like arms smuggling in the coffins (though to disastrous and hilarious results).

Beyond the politics of Irish border (which really is as confusing as described in the book) Milligan includes numerous puns and a self aware main character who is continuously berating the author for his descriptive abilities. The protagonist hates the legs the author has given him.

Puckoon is one of those rare books that I was compelled to finish once I'd started it. I read it in the course of an hour as it's such a short book. I did have to stop a couple times to laugh.

Comments (0)


The Altman Code: 05/04/07

The Altman Code

I picked up The Altman Code at one of last year's BookCrossing meetings. I'm a sucker for international spy thrillers so was willing to give this first in a series a go.

Agent Jon Smith and others must race the clock to get a manifest to prove that China is shipping chemical weapons to Iraq. The basic adventure plot is entertaining but it has to compete with an incredibly cheesy soap opera involving the President of the United States. Castillo's missing father disrupts the flow of the plot and interjects some unintentionally funny scenes.

The other major flaw is the sheer number of characters. No scene lasts more than a half dozen pages before the plot blips to another location and different characters. There is too much action and too many characters to ever get to know any of them well, even the hero, Jon Smith.

Comments (0)


Mario and the Magician: 05/03/07

Sixteen Short Novels

I picked up Sixteen Short Novels at the September BookCrossing meeting last year. Yes; I went a week postpartum and Harriet went too. My goal is to read and review each of these short novels but if I do it all at once I'll only get this one massive book read for quite some time. Instead, I'll concentrate on each novel separately and count each one as its own book just as I did for the four novellas in Four Past Midnight. At that rate I figure I can read about three of these short novels a month and I should have the book ready for release by Harriet's first birthday.

"Mario and the Magician" by Thomas Mann is the second of his novellas that I've read (the other being A Death in Venice). Among my friends, I seem to be the only one who enjoys Mann's odd mixture of travelogue and inappropriate sexual thoughts. This time a father recounts a day on vacation in Italy full of cultural clashes that ends with an odd but entertaining magic show that goes to far. Here the father is baffled by the conversative nature of the Italian villagers.

Comments (0)


The Mother's Recompense: 05/02/07

The Mother's Recompense

BookCrossing introduced me to Edith Wharton's books, first through a bookring (The Age of Innocence) and then through a wild catch (The Mother's Recompense) back in 2004. As a lover of old books, imagine how thrilled I was to find a 1925 copy with a BookCrossing label on it!

The Mother's Recompense is a story of mistakes and regrets. Kate Clephane lives in Europe in self imposed exile after a disastrous affair where she left her young husband and infant daughter home in New York. She lives a dull life on the French Rivera where the new scandals of her fellow ex-pats lets her forget her own transgressions.

Now twenty years later, her grown daughter calls her home to face the family, her memories and gives her a chance to start afresh as if nothing ever happened. Unfortunately her happy reunion is short lived as Anne, the daughter, announces her engagement to Kate's old lover.

The story sounds hokey but it's written with an unusual amount of frankness that one is drawn into Kate's world. The novel moves away from being just about Kate's mistakes but about her attempts at redemption and her desire to be a "good" mother to Anne.

While Wharton the narrator is frank with her audience about Kate's desires and transgressions, Kate finds herself incapable of admitting the truth to Anne both from an combined desire to protect her daughter and to avoid bringing further shame to the family.

The book has its flaws, mostly in its propensity for melodrama and sometimes Kate's indecision grows tiresome but overall I enjoyed The Mother's Recompense.

Comments (0)


Geographic Information Systems: Socioeconomic Applications: 05/01/07

Geographic Information Systems

Geographic Information Systems: Socioeconomic Applications is another of those BookCrossing books I received via the old Book Relay site. It was one of those books that piqued my interested and then languished on my "to be read" pile. In the interest of clearing my shelves, I finally pulled it of the shelf next to my bed and gave it a read.

GIS introduces the theory and practice of using computers for creating geographic based databases. The first third introduces the computer equipment needed and it is here that I feel later editions are probably more useful. There are better and faster computers and scanners available now but it is still a solid introduction to the basics.

The rest of the book examines how geographic data can be used to gather and analyze census data. It looks at two different approaches, that of the US and British censuses.

While reading this book I kept wondering if future editions will include such personalized uses of geographic data that modern technology has made available. I'm thinking of GPS and Google Earth and other such things.

Comments (0)


Twitter Tumblr Flickr Facebook Facebook Contact me

1997-2021 Sarah Sammis