traciragas

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The Housekeeper and the Professor

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In life we have these beautiful things that happen that we cannot really put into words, like a beautiful painting, a particularly touching piece of music or an amazing sunrise – this book was pure beauty on every page. A peaceful, serene and patient story; like the other reviews mention the story is complex, but not jerky or unnecessary. Everything to me seemed with total purpose and clear. A perfect story about real life, all of the unfair and touching parts of it.
Last Night at Chateau Marmont: A Novel

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An emotional and touching story about two normal everyday people, who experience way more than 15 minutes of fame, when Brooke’s husband is thrust into the celebrity world after a successful Leno performance. Brooke is forced to question all the relationships in her life (for those leaking information to the press) and to the relationship with her best friend/husband, Julian. She’s told daily through tabloids and her husband’s people that she can’t pass muster with the celebrities Julian is surrounded by. Great story about what happens when one part of a couple is a celebrity and the other is just a “civilian
The Elegance of the Hedgehog

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Nothing I could say about this book will be enough. To say it was the best book I’ve ever read – would be true but not nearly good enough. That I dog-eared almost every other page because there was a quote I liked. That there were so many true parts that resonated with me. That still wouldn’t do it justice. Paloma and Renee are two of the most amazing characters I've ever met in any book. The way their thoughts were so in-sync. surprised but then as I got to know them, I expected it. These two characters were connected in a way that rarely happens with people. Though I have a million more, these two stood out: “Personally, I think there is only one thing to do: find the task we have been placed on this earth to do, and accomplish it as best we can, with all our strength, without making things complicated or thinking there’s anything divine about our animal nature. This is the only way we will ever feel that we have been doing something constructive when death comes to get us.” – page 238 “Nor must we forget that these old people were young once, that a lifespan is pathetically short, that one day you’re twenty and the next day you’re eighty.” – page 128 Renee reminded me about camellias and destiny. Paloma reminded me of hope for the future and what we were put on this earth to do.Totally amazing book. I’ll remember these characters forever.
Black and Blue

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I think it’s amazing when you meet characters in a book and they become so real that it becomes difficult to think they are just characters. They tell a story, so real, that you feel sympathy, worry, ache. I can only think of a few books that have left me with that feeling after putting the book down and this one was one of them.Fran is one of the bravest characters I've ever "met". This book certainly tackles mature, sad and sensitive topics, but I thought it was done with an amazing amount of insight and experience. Though reading Quindlen's note at the end, that wasn't the case. I understood the end, it wasn't the perfect fairytale ending we all wish for in life, but it was real.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel

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Some people wear a lot of their emotions on their sleeve; so transparent that it can be funny. Some people are like a bank vault, buried deep and difficult to break without a magic key. Rose, the narrator, of this amazing book, has a gift – the ability to discern feelings from food. The idea is simple, the person making the food cannot help but fill their emotion into what they are cooking and Rose cannot help but taste it. She can taste it in her mother’s lemon cake, the school cafeteria’s pizza, factory made bread, and in virtually everything that is made by a person. She can tell where a tomato is grown, the care put in to the harvesting, how the workers are treated. She can taste pain, grief, longing, and happiness.To add to the mix of this “gift”, Rose is often the forgotten child: a difficult, but smart, older brother, an absent mother, and a father that tries to show love, but often forgets how. Rose is brave, ingenious, and one of my favorite characters of all time. I truly loved this story. I don't think I'd agree with the other reviews, in adding the "bizarre" label to this book, I thought it was thoughtful and creative. Beautiful!
The Transformation of Things: A Novel

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Hmm…I always like reading reviews after I finish a book, since people can take away such different and interesting things. I liked this book. It loosely reminded me of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, where the main character can feel people’s emotions through the foods they cook. Jennifer is similar in that she can feel their hopes, fears, and what’s really going in their lives through her dreams. I understood Jennifer, although I worry what this saw about me, considering the ending. She felt numb, sometimes lost, sometimes worried, happy, eager, sad, mad, and just plain detached. I think we’ve all felt those things in life. I wanted to read more, wanted to hear about the next thing to happen, to hear about the next dream, the next event. Throughout the whole novel, Jennifer was so in tune with all her friends and loved ones, that you are left to really wonder what was happening. I loved it. Honest and hopeful, I liked Jennifer, Lisa, Kelly, Will and all the other characters. They seemed like everyday people with problems and concerns galore. I truly enjoyed this and will look for more Cantor stories.
When God Was a Rabbit: A Novel

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This book follows the interesting life of Elly, Joe, Penny, Arthur, Ginger, Charley and a host of other eclectic characters. This book is a little eccentric, but seriously powerful. It’s a good reminder about how crazy and unpredictable life is, how some friendships and relationships change us and mold us, and even when people are gone, continue to affect us. Elly is one of the more real characters I’ve met in a book, she’s heartbreaking, sad, introspective and honest. It’s a book about keeping secrets and telling secrets. Like the other reviewers, I didn’t want this story to end. It felt like I lost a friend.
Outside Wonderland

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I think reading the back blurb on a book can tell you a lot. I also did not want this book to end, I was also captivated in just the very first pages, and this was a poetic, original story.No matter what you believe about heaven or afterlife, this was a touching, sad story about three siblings that lost both parents when they were young; their mother from a fall off a kitchen chair, their father years later on a sabbatical in Greece. Neither was expected, both were heartbreaking and both left indelible marks on their children. Alice, grows up to be an actress after years of acting, it just seemed natural. Griffin, a chef and Dinah, an altruistic do-gooder. Their parents look down on them from “Here”. The reader, in my opinion can create what they think “Here” might be: maybe heaven, maybe where we go in afterlife. Regardless, it is a place where happiness (and sadness, at times) abounds and where we can look down on our loved ones after we have left earth.In this book, we hear about the lives of the three siblings and then hear narration from their mother, who lives “Here”. We hear her hopes, wishes and dreams for their future. We learn about her heartbreak when her children are hurt and we learn about a place where time is relative – where 20 years is really yesterday, but also 20 years ago.This was beautifully written, sad, but inspiring. I’d put it up in my top three books this year – next to The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
A Desirable Residence: A Novel of Love and Real Estate

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Any book that makes you feel strongly about the characters is obviously well written. This was a perfect example. I can’t say I really and truly liked most of the characters but they did raise pretty strong feelings from me.This was seemingly a simple story. Jonathan and Liz run a tutorial college, and have a daughter Alice. In order to achieve this “dream” (Liz’s dream really) – they mortgage themselves to the brim and are forced to place their dream home on the market. The dream home doesn’t sell, but their agent (Marcus) gives them the idea to rent out their home. Marcus and his wife Anthea are wealthy and have two sons, one who is in the running for a prestigious scholarship. Ginny and Piers wind up renting the home from Jonathan and Liz. Alice becomes a fixture in Ginny and Piers new home and develops a friendship. In the meantime, Marcus and Liz strike up a “friendship”. Marcus’ young son receives tutoring from Jonathan…thus goes the circle.I went back and forth deciding if I liked this book or not. I’m still undecided. I think it would have been more bearable had there been a character I could have better identified with. Ginny, seemed nice, but when push came to shove, wasn’t too much different than Liz and Anthea (who IMHO, were selfish and overbearing). Marcus (Anthea’s husband and later the man with whom Liz becomes better acquainted) had his moments where he semi-redeemed himself, but for the most part he was a little brat. Jonathan and Alice (Liz’s husband and Alice’s father) was probably my favorite; a hard working man, with an ungrateful wife and a troubled teenage daughter. I thought he was the real victim in this story. All in all…it wouldn’t be fair of me to say I didn’t like this, but it didn’t have the essence I look for in many of my books. A real likeable character, who totally redeems themselves at the end.
Postcards from a Dead Girl: A Novel

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Sid is funny. Sid works as a telemarketer selling “great getaways” to foreign countries, yet Sid doesn’t really doesn’t travel. Sid has funny conversations with his dog, Zero (though Sid can’t really explain how, when or where he got the dog). He is waiting forever for his CAT scan results, to tell him when and if he’s dying since he randomly smells lilacs and talks to his dead mother in an old bottle of Boudreaux. His annoying next door neighbor, Mary Jo, a juvenile brat taunts him incessantly. He digs a hole in his backyard to further his spa mud bath fix and has a serious problem not accepting credit card offers. Sid strikes up a relationship with Gerald, the postman neighbor, who has built a bomb shelter. Instead of food, and unable to answer the question – if you can only read one book for the rest of your life – what would you read; Gerald has outfitted the shelter with aisle upon aisle of books. And one more thing, Sid has been receiving postcards from his (most likely) dead girlfriend. He starts a trek through Paris and Spain to try and understand the origin of these cards but is left with only questions.Sid is engaging and a little bit sad. He is not sure where his life is going, not sure what he’s doing, and not sure what happened with his relationship with Zoe, the sender of the cards. He is brutally honest, heartfelt, quirky, and…lost. He often misinterprets basic conversations - two in particular (with his doctor and his boss) where I seriously laughed (very loudly) during my morning commute. You want to cheer for him; you hope he emerges from his mud bath, cleaner, happier, and ready to brave the world again. And at the end, when there are answers to the questions that have been mounting throughout the book, you understand why he’s in pain, why he’s lost, and maybe how he can heal. I felt ready for the conclusion when it came. I didn’t feel shortchanged or slighted, as some of the other reviews point out. I thought Farber tied up all the loose ends and brought around the resolution well and timely.
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