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Atlas Shrugged

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I tried to read "Atlas Shrugged" about a year ago. I must admit I knew nothing about the book (where have I been?) but had heard it was a classic and one of those darned books you should read before you die.So I took it out of the library, all 1200 pages of it and started in. I finished about 100 pages of it before I was ranting to my husband that the theme of this book seemed to be the virtue of selfishness. I decided life was too short and my blood pressure was definitely at risk if I continued, so back to the library it went. I think Dorothy Parker might have been thinking of just this kind of book when she famously said, "This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force."
11/22/63: A Novel

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First let me start by admitting I did not finish this book. I couldn't. I have not read much popular fiction in the last few years and this book is a very good example why. The writing is just too ordinary. Too often I cringed as I read a piece of dialogue that rang false or a characteristic that was applied to a character which was cliché or writing that seemed too forced. For me, part of the enjoyment of reading is falling in love with the words that are painted on the page by the artist, a writer. With this book I felt that the words were just a means to an end - tell the story. That would have been sufficient for me years ago, in my youth. Not anymore. Life is too short and there are too many wonderful books to be read. This isn't one of them.
Cheaper By the Dozen

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I read this book because I love the movie by the same name. Of course, I refer to the movie starring Clifton Webb and not the cheap remake with Steve Martin. I wanted to love this book and, in fact, I did love this book, but one thing kept me from giving it 5 stars. I could not get past the subtle (or not so subtle) racism from the mother. She had a habit of saying when something or somebody was unsavoury or dirty, that they were being "Eskimo". I know that the time of this book was the early 20th century and that this kind of racism was common and acceptable but today it is not and it left me with a mild distaste for the book as a result.That aside, this book nicely tells about an amazing family headed by a remarkable man and woman who were ahead of their time when it came to efficiency studies.
Open: An Autobiography

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I am a mad tennis fan and always enjoyed watching Agassi play. I have read other player's autobiographies and been unimpressed so I was a bit reluctant to read this. I was pleasantly surprised.Agassi is wonderfully honest in this book. He is not shy about his success and talent but also lets us into the parts of his life that weren't so shiny and bright, including his lack of schooling, his unsuccessful first marriage and his love-hate relationship with tennis.My biggest complaint, as one who loves the English language and grammar, was the incorrect use of pronouns. Throughout the book, Agassi incorrectly uses the pronoun "I" when he should have used "me". For example, he would say, "He was a lot taller than I". This is a common hyper-correction particularly by people who do not have a formal education. It is a small point but one that bothered me throughout the book. It should have been picked up by an editor.All in all, this was a solid autobiography. Recommended for tennis fans in particular as you get a very good look at how talented kids are thrown into the fantasy world of elite sports.
Skipping Christmas: Christmas with The Kranks

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Somehow John Grisham thought we would all find it funny and sweet that a family is harassed because they choose one year to skip Christmas.I'm sure most of us have entertained the idea of leaving home for the holidays so we don't have to hear Aunt Myrtle complain about how dry the turkey is or listen to Uncle Ed give us a play by play about his hip replacement. I'd like to think, though, that should we make that decision, we wouldn't have everyone from the neighbours to the paperboy try to guilt us into changing our minds.This book didn't put me in the holiday spirit. What I felt was annoyed that I wasted any time on it.If you think this sounds like the kind of story that will make you feel all Christmas gooey, by all means give it a go. But for me, I will stick with Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". Now that's a Christmas story.
A Dog Named Christmas

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"A Dog Named Christmas" was catalogued at my library as "Adult Fiction". After reading it, I'm not so sure.The writing in this book is very simplistic as are the characters. It is a sweet story but, I think, more befitting someone in their teens. I would certainly recommend this book to young people I know but for the grownups, they will always get my usual holiday recommendation, "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens which is beautifully written and sure to imbue you with the Christmas spirit .
That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back

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For the most part I enjoyed this latest book by Thomas Friedman. I think they (he and his co-author) make a very good case for what is wrong with the United States now. They talk about the lack of funding for education and R&D, the media, global warming, the polarization of the political parties and how that came to be and how the United States is competing with the world now on a more and more equal basis.The problem I had with the book was they spent very little time talking about solutions unlike Friedman's book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded" where he spent much of the book talking about very innovative green energy solutions. All in all, though, this is a good read which sums up very well the problems faced in the United States in a centrist way. The authors are quite fair in dishing out blame and despite all the problems they lay out they remain optimistic.
The Tiger's Wife: A Novel

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I can’t quite call “The Tiger’s Wife” brilliant but it wants to be. The book is beautifully written and that alone pulled me along from the first paragraph to the end of the book.The story winds back and forth in time in the Balkans before and after the war. The author does a good job showing the struggles of the people as well as their customs and superstitions. “The Tiger’s Wife” contains many stories within the main story, each one fascinating in its way. The book meanders in a way that I often struggled to see where it was going but the writing was so good and so interesting that I was happy to be led along to wherever the author was leading me.I must say that I expected more from this book. It felt like there should be a greatness about it but the fault may lie with this reader and not the author.Recommended.
Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated

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I loved Little House on the Prairie when I was a little girl. I also loved Nellie. She and Mrs. Oleson were my favourite characters.In "Confessions of a Prairie Bitch", Alison Arngrim details, with great honesty and humour, her life and her days working on Little House, the abuse she suffered at the hands of her brother and the strange world that is the entertainment industry.I got to know Alison Arngrim by reading this book and came to like her. For fans of Little House or anyone who likes a good autobiography, I recommend this book.
Little Girl Blue: The Life of Karen Carpenter

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Well researched and fair. Randy Schmidt's biography of Karen Carpenter digs deep into her life and reveals a Karen Carpenter her fans did not know. Interviewing family and friends, some of whom had never been interviewed before, Schmidt tells of Karen's life, her music, her unhappy marriage, her long battle with anorexia and ultimately her death.Karen Carpenter's death was one of those where I can remember just where I was when I heard the news. Although her life ended tragically too young, she left a legacy of music that few can rival.
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