ARC, Books

Book 508: Chemistry – Weike Wang

I first heard of this book through a friend, who also happens to be friends with the author. After reading the blurb I reached out to the publisher for a copy and here I am.* It of course didn’t hurt that the book was set here in Boston at an unnamed University and I’ve started to see it everywhere around the city either!

Chemistry is the tale of an unnamed narrator and her exit from the academic world that has ruled her life and her various reactions to things going on in her world. It’s more complicated than that, but that’s what I boiled it down to. I’m still mulling over many parts of the book, particularly the “conclusion,” but in general I found this to be a wonderfully engaging read.

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Books

Book 498: Remember How I Told You I Loved You? – Gillian Linden

I’m not sure why I picked this up back in January 2014, but I did. It was either the sadness in the title or the open envelopes on the front. I had no recollection of it being short stories as I rarely read them. And yet even when I went to read this, because I wanted a quick read before vacation, I was surprised they were short stories and it says STORIES on the front!

Honestly, this book disappointed me. There were two beautiful quotes, but overall I found the stories to be lacking and somewhat stunted. Many of the stories loosely tied together and I felt it distracted from what could’ve been a wonderful collection of (somewhat depressing) coming of age stories.

“Homesick is how Karen feels, though she doesn’t miss home, more like an earlier version of herself, a person who, in her memory is hardworking, starightforward, pure.” (Common Rooms, 12)

“Lewis and I decided this last night and it was a relief. Not everything has to do with me. Even the things that have something to do with me, like this contract, don’t have much to do with me.” (Sam, 87)

I would rather have not wondered if everyone was connected (and I could be wrong).

All of this being said, I think what bothered me the most about the short stories was that really good short stories to me, leave you curious about everything before and after, but simultaneously leave you feeling fulfilled. These did not, partially because there were characters that were either the same character or one with the same name and it was like wait what, is this a continuation? And partially because they just didn’t feel complete with the exception of Common Rooms, it was by far the strongest and it was the lead of the book.

Recommendation: Pass unless you are really interested in college coming of age stories or really interested in short stories.

Books

Book 481: Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

I’m going to go ahead and say it, this was better than Gone Girl. There, now let’s get on to my actual thoughts on this novel.

As with the few Harlan Coben novels I’ve read and even the few J.K. Rowling Cormoran Strike novels I have to ask WTF these people eat/drink/smoke to make them come up with these stories! I know a lot of them are based on some evidence of truth, but really some of these, especially this one, are some dark dark stories.

I had very little expectations going into this one as it’s been sitting on my shelf for a little over two years. I purchased it just after finishing Gone Girl and after I realized a little later that I wasn’t as much of a fan as it seemed everyone else was of that one, I put off reading this one and I’m a little disappointed I did so. There were enough differences between the two and this one I just liked more because I guess it was less psychological and more murder mystery.

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Books

Book 480: Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood

I picked up my copy of Cat’s Eye back in December of 2011 and I’ve waited WAY too long to read it. I’ve been looking at my bookshelves thinking I needed to read more of those books and so I went back to my list and looked at the oldest on there and this was one of them.

I’m glad I read this because every time I read a another Margaret Atwood novel I ask myself why in the hell I waited so long between novels. I’m doubly glad I read this as it’s kept my belief that the short and long list booker prizes are more approachable than the winners. I haven’t read the 1989 winner yet, it’s Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day, and it could break that streak with how much of an impact Never Let Me Go left on me.

I think what has always drawn me to Atwood are her strong female characters, her awesome speculative fiction, and what seems like her fascination with age and aging. I thought it was weird at first, but then I realized that some of these novels I’m reading from the late 80s were when Atwood was already in her late-40s/early-50s. So it made a lot more sense when I realized that. Continue reading “Book 480: Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood”

Books, Personal Project, Professional Development

Book 475: Difficult Conversations – Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen

stone-douglas-bruce-patton-and-sheila-heen-difficult-conversationsNow that it’s been almost a month I figured I might as well catch up on some books. I’ve actually made quite a bit of progress reading this month, given the facts of everything that’s going on and  affects my day-to-day work life (thanks Trump).

This book came to me from my current Human Resources Director when I spoke with her about how not-so-great Miguel Ruiz’s books were. Based on our few previous conversations she was like you should try this one because it’s more of a practical guide and less “worldly wisdom.” And boy was she right!

Even though the two books say basically the same thing, this one was so much easier to identify with and take action points away from it. This could have to do with the fact it was written by a group of Harvard University associated individuals, or it could also have to do with the fact that it was less spiritual and more practical.

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Books

Book 472: In the Lake of the Woods – Tim O’Brien

obrien-tim-in-the-lake-of-the-woodsAdd this to the list of “WTF was I thinking waiting so long to read it?” books. I’m pretty sure I received this book from a former supervisor two jobs ago now. I’ll have to shoot her an email to verify it, but for some reason I have that in my mind. Either way I’m glad I read it and still thinking why it took me so long.

Whoever gave this to me for some reason compared it to Gone Girl, so if you have plans to read that don’t read this review because I’m going to spoil a few big things in that book AND this one. So this is your warning, don’t read anything until the recommendation if you don’t wan spoilers. I’ll keep the spoilers out of the Recommendation because I do think it was a great book and can see why the comparison is made, but I’ll rip the band-aid off and say this one is better 😀 Continue reading “Book 472: In the Lake of the Woods – Tim O’Brien”

Books

Book 471: Ray and Joan – Lisa Napoli

napoli-lisa-ray-joanWhat a fascinating story. I figured it would be, I mean it’s about the guy who made McDonald’s what it is today and his wife who gave away billions of dollars, but I was still surprised at just how fascinating it was.

When Dutton reached out to me about a copy of the book* I jumped at the chance because not only do I find philanthropy personally fascinating, but I also work in fundraising, so it was a win-win either way for me.

I mean the subtitle “The man who made the McDonald’s fortune and the woman who gave it all away,” caught my attention pretty quick because I knew nothing about the founding of McDonald’s or the people behind it. I had no idea about most of it.

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