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The Surgeon: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel

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I went back and forth between three and four stars.On one hand, the book was highly engaging. It was easy to read and drove me to keep going because I just needed to know what would happen next. The book shifts perspective from a third person narration following the detective side of the case to first person from the view of the murderer himself which created an interesting dynamic. I also thought Gerritsen did a nice job of weaving in a bit of mythology--I love that kind of thing.Now the bad. Something was making me uncomfortable, and it took me about half the book to put my finger on it. Men are portrayed in an extremely unflattering light in this book. They all fall into one of three categories: douchebags who look down on women, "nice guys" who find vulnerability attractive, or murderers and rapists. In the whole book, there is only one man who might be an exception to this rule.I ended up going with four stars to give Gerritsen the benefit of the doubt. A lot of the book is told from the perspective of a female cop having a tough time in a male world (Rizzoli), so it kind of makes sense. I'd have to read another work of hers to see if this is a theme.One more note: this book is not for the faint of heart. There's murder and rape and grisly details. Gerritsen is an M.D., and it shows. The book is littered with medical details which I found added a certain authentic feel.
The Stand

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Do not read this when you have a cold or the flu. Or even allergies. It'll make you very, very uncomfortable. In the same way that hearing the word "itch" makes you itchy, reading the beginning of this book will make you feel like you might have the plague.The first quarter of the book is about the outbreak of a superflu, and (I'm pretty sure this isn't a spoiler) the rest of it is dedicated to what happens after most of mankind is wiped out. It's part science thriller, part apocalypse, part dystopia (or maybe utopia depending on how you want to look at it). There's a lot of good stuff packed in here. There's discussion about society, religion, morality...it's all here.There are a lot of characters to keep track of, and there are bound to be a few that you feel awfully attached to. The book is easy to follow, easy to read. It may be over 1,000 pages, but it doesn't feel anywhere near that long--a huge accomplishment on the part of King.This is my second Stephen King novel, and I'm beginning to wonder if he has a problem with women. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for now, but I do want to just note it here. If that kind of thing bothers you, maybe skip this one. Here's a quotation from the strongest female character in the novel: "Women's lib...was nothing more nor less than an outgrowth of the technological society...Before civilization, with its careful and merciful system of protections, women had been slaves...And the Women's Credo...was just this: ...Thank you, Men, for the hospitals, the police, the schools. Now I'd like to vote, please, and have the right to set my own course and make my own destiny. Once I was chattel, but now that is obsolete...Thank you, Men. "...lying here in the night, she knew that she needed a man. Oh God, she badly needed a man."Yeah, seriously. And like I said, that's from the strongest female character. The men in this book seem to view women as things (no, not really people) that needed to be protected. Those are the good men. The bad men in this book viewed women as sex objects. And the women, every woman that rated more than two sentences, either needed a man for protection or traded herself for sex in one way or another. There are clearly defined roles for the men and women even in this post-societal world. This hits the root of anti-feminism to me: women can only overpower men when they use their sexuality. And when they do, it's sneaky. I'm not a fan of this viewpoint.Okay, so that long rant may not sound like me giving him the benefit of the doubt, but I still gave the book four stars, didn't I? I had a hard time putting it down (which is amazing considering it's over 1,000 pages long) and loved the ideas behind the story. I've read apocalyptic fiction before, but this takes you through the whole thing from the beginning when the world was normal.
Shadows in Flight

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Now THIS is what I want out of an Orson Scott Card book. I felt like OSC had kind of lost his way as the Shadow series wore on--the characters started doing things that seemed out of their natures, and the stories seemed to flounder a bit, directionless. But this is more reminiscent of Ender's Gamee than anything else. Philosophy and religion and even politics are not OSC's strong points--original science fiction and genius children are. Shadows in Flight ties back to a lot of things in both the Ender and Shadow series and would not work as a standalone work.Bean and the three of his children like him (with Anton's key turned) took to space in the hopes that a cure will be developed and they could return to Earth. That didn't happen. Five years have past for them, but generations have passed on Earth. Bean's children speak more like calculating professors than children, and watching them here was a lot like watching Ender, Petra, and Bean work together to defeat the Formics in Ender's Game.For the nostalgic Ender's Game fan, this is the perfect novella.I read the enhanced ebook. While the illustrations didn't add anything for me, I did really enjoy the extra passages OSC added.
Ella Enchanted

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This is what young adults should be reading! Not that trashy, empty stuff with main characters too pathetic to call heroines. This was an adorable book and a unique take on Cinderella. Ella was cursed at birth--she has to follow any orders given her. When people find out about the curse, they quickly learn to use it to their advantage. She's either rebellious by nature or because she needed to rebel against the curse to prevent feeling like a puppet, but her refreshing sass shines throughout the book. It had many of the elements that other YA fiction has these days: magic, adventure, and young love. But it contained so much that those other books don't: a coherent story, a creative world, actual character development, and a strong, willful heroine. Ella thinks for herself, she looks out for herself, and she cares about doing the right thing.This is a high caliber book written for high caliber young people.
The Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips to Clean Up Your Writing

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My life would be less frustrating if everyone read this book.I can be a little (annoyingly) pedantic when it comes to grammar and usage. I'm not concerned about dangling prepositions or split infinitives, but my god, it gets to me when people misuse "affect" and "effect," comma splice, or think that "e.g." and "i.e." are interchangeable. And don't even get me started on "your" and "you're."Although I expected this to be kind of dry, I found myself laughing out loud. I thought I would know everything in it, but I learned quite a bit (like about misplaced modifiers). Did you know that a bad apostrophe (like "banana's for sale") is called the greengrocer's apostrophe? Have you heard the term "CamelCase" before?Fogarty made it clear what the traditional rules were, what is currently acceptable even if it's not traditional, and what varies from style guide to style guide. There's even a little bit of linguistic history thrown in as a bonus.I'm off to give this book to all of my coworkers. I hope that won't offend them.
Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

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The book is told from roughly three perspectives: that of newspaper clippings from various time periods throughout the story, of Evelyn in the 1980s listening to an old woman who had lived it tell the story, and of an omniscient narrator spanning the whole time period. I could've lived without the newspaper clippings, but they were short and fairly unobtrusive. The perspective of Ninny, the old woman retelling the story, juxtaposed with that of the omniscient narrator was a well-used device.This book really surprised me. From the start, I thought it was well-written and engaging, but I also thought that plight of both women and blacks in Alabama in the 1930s were shown in too fairy-tale-ish of a light. Without giving too much away, let me just say that the book addressed both beautifully by the end. The scope of the issues covered was just breathtaking: everything from family dynamics to feminism to racism to growing older and body image to religion to family tragedy to domestic abuse. And it didn't gloss over anything. I felt that everything covered was done justice.I'm glad I read this book when I did. I wouldn't have appreciated it had I been any younger, and I'll probably appreciate it even more when I read it again as I grow older.
The Little Lady Agency

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If this hadn't been a book club book, I never would have picked it up. This is the kind of book I actively avoid, but I'm trying to, in fairness, judge this book against books in its genre rather than against the books I normally read. So here we go.Melissa rubbed me the wrong way from the start. I wanted to shake her. And I felt like she was a bit of a Mary Sue. Everyone thinks she's so wonderful and loves her (unless they're her family or jealous of her), but I didn't see why. She's an extremely naive girl with rabidly low self-esteem. She's a pushover. She's extraordinarily bad at communicating. She escapes through Honey, her business venture personality. And while everyone else can see that Honey is really Melissa, Melissa feels like Honey is a completely different person. Through Honey, she can become more confident, feel sexy, and demand what she wants, but she doesn't think she can do this as Melissa.I did like Honey, though. And as Melissa became more like Honey, I started liking her more and caring about what happened to her. By the end, I was trying to rush through to find out what happened before I had to rush off for work. Once the book picked up, I actually got into it.I probably won't pick up the next one in the series, but reading this was an enjoyable experience and a pleasant surprise.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

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This is an enchanting little book. It combines The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (minus the heroine's helplessness) with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (minus the religious undertones) with Alice in Wonderland (minus the, um, psychedelia). Given the many allusions to these works in this book, I'm sure it was intentional.September is partly heartless little girl tired of her own world who gets swept into Fairyland. Like any little girl in Fairyland, she needs a grand mission, and she finds one. September encounters wonderful characters on the way, my favorite being the Wyvearary (why, the offspring of a wyvern and a library, of course).My favorite thing about this book is that it's smart. It doesn't simplify its language or sentence structure for children--it sets the bar high than challenges its readers to meet it. It uses "irascible," "diplomatic immunity," "widdershins," and "sacrosanct" all within the first three pages. This is not written at your typical fifth grade level. The style of writing was much more reminiscent of C.S. Lewis than of typical young adult books these days.September is strong-willed and sweet and smart but not without her very human flaws. A perfect heroine.(And I think there's an allusion to Plato's The Symposium. Bonus points.)
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life

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This is the story lovingly told of a family who decided to spend a year being conscious about where there food came from. They would grow or raise what they could, and they would buy local and get to know the farmers who sold them everything else.I thought this would be preachy; it was not. Kingsolver doesn't say that everyone needs to do this--in fact, she quite distinctly says that it's a luxury she knows most people don't have. Instead, she's trying to raise the level of awareness. Our food comes from all over the world. It's WEIRD that we don't know where it comes from or even that our meals typically consist of food out of season. (And does anyone know what's in season anymore? I sure couldn't have told you before.) We eat what we want when we want it regardless of when it's naturally available. And there are moral and practical implications.I learned so much in this book and got a few laughs along the way. I wasn't expecting it to be funny at all. I read part of this while sitting in an airport bar and needed to stifle more than one giggle so that my fellow patrons wouldn't think they were sitting next to a crazy person. I can't remember the last time I took this much pure pleasure from a book.This was just a joy to read. And you know what? I'm going to try to go to the farmers market more often.
This Is How: Proven Aid in Overcoming Shyness, Molestation, Fatness, Spinsterhood, Grief, Disease, Lushery, Decrepitude & More. For Young and Old Alike.

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Maybe if I'd had more exposure to Burroughs, I would have rated this lower. I jumped in without having read anything of his before and was pleasantly surprised; I had nothing with which to compare it.I didn't like this at first, but I think I was expecting short stories. I'd heard that Burroughs was a bit like David Sedaris (whom I love), and that's what I was looking forward to. These are not short stories. It took me a while to get into because I needed to change my frame of mind.This is not your standard book of short stories. These are short stories told through the medium of a self-help book.It's not quite a self-help book. It's not quite short stories. But whatever they are, they are lovely. I laughed out loud at least a half dozen times. I almost cried. It was a creative, new way of telling stories, and Burroughs gave a fresh perspective on quite a few issues from dealing with depression to the loss of a loved one. The issues are heavy, but he talks about them with care and love.Received through Goodreads First Reads.
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