Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Bishop’s Wife (Linda Wallheim Mystery, #1)The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Poorly written. Misrepresents the LDS Church and is just too, too much. The author can't leave out any possible controversial subject. to quote Lisa, , another reviewer, "--Blacks and the priesthood? Check. Homosexuality? Check. Polygamy and some controversies surrounding Joseph Smith? Check. The position of women in the Church? Check, check, check. Domestic abuse of every stripe? Check, check, check, check. I don't disagree with the author's treatment of these subjects (except the position of women--more on that in a minute), but I can't understand why she felt it necessary to include her opinions on everything as she went along, as though she had to get them in, just in case she never gets another chance."
That this fictional BW would be so personally involved in each issue in such a short period of time & that this ward is an accurate representation of a typical LDS ward, Utah or otherwise, is as accurate as saying "Days of Our Lives" is representative of a typical American community.

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Tell No OneTell No One by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
A well executed, exciting, fast-paced crime/romance story with lots of twists and turns. It is a story of love, trust and sacrifice. No gory scenes or bad language and l a brilliant page turner, with a surprise ending that is very satisfying.

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Love Letters of the Angels of DeathLove Letters of the Angels of Death by Jennifer Quist
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a love story between husband and wife, their shared life together with the expectations, understandings, and unexpected surprises common in strong marital relationships. It is also a somewhat morbid yet tasteful story about death. The writing is lovely, but it is not a plot driven novel and I just didn't feel the connection.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is not just a book about aging, it's a book about dying, a topic few want to deal with. The treatise is an important one: how we hope to end our life is as crucial as how we hope to live it.
Gawande is such a great storyteller and offers so much hope, that you get absorbed in every anecdote he tells & every character he draws for you. He outlines in clear, patient language a better way for the medical community (and society at large) to approach & navigate the end-of-life decisions that all of us inevitably face. Doctors & caregivers, he argues, need to be better at having hard conversations, outlining realistic options for patients, & concentrating more on how to ensure quality of life when that life is nearing its end.

He does a very thorough review of the origin & slow transformation of nursing homes, assisted living facilities & the growing field of palliative medicine, and argues for the right of a patient to express his or her own autonomy as the end of life approaches.

One of the most fascinating statistics: patients in hospice care live 25% longer than those who don't elect hospice care (and thus get all the interventions from the medical community). That stat alone defines the book: the role of medicine to "save at all costs" really doesn't take into account the patient's wants & needs -- and those really matter, so much that when allowed, they prolong life.

I wish everyone would read this book because it lays out -- sanely, rationally -- the choices & options available to those hit with sudden bad news. Why not be prepared? And why not pick up a book by one of American's great new storytellers?

Favorite quotes:
“You may not control life's circumstances, but getting to be the author of your life means getting to control what you do with them.”

“It is not death that the very old tell me they fear. It is what happens short of death—losing their hearing, their memory, their best friends, their way of life. As Felix put it to me, 'Old age is a continuous series of losses.' Philip Roth put it more bitterly in his novel Everyman: 'Old age is not a battle. Old age is a massacre.'”

“Culture has tremendous inertia,” he said. “That’s why it’s culture. It works because it lasts. Culture strangles innovation in the crib.”

“Your chances of avoiding the nursing home are directly related to the number of children you have.”

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May DoddOne Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Seriously, this book is so poorly written I struggled writing a review deserving even 1 star. The author hasn't the slightest clue or insight into women’s thoughts or emotions yet he chose to tell this unbelievably improbable fiction from a woman's point of view. If this is on your "to read" list I suggest you read this excellent 2008 review (contains spoilers)by Elizabeth first. She says it better that I can:
Elizabeth: "I read this for book club and felt distracted by the quality of writing, and therefore unable to even entertain the implausible historical premise... I just have a difficult time buying into a "journal" which contains pages of dialogue and real time events, with a voice that constantly contradicts itself and clearly belongs in a different century... but I tried to ignore this. . . . had great difficulty getting into the mind of a woman, let alone a 19th century woman! (i.e. gang raped and "fine" within a month or so, pregnant, yet walking/horseback-riding great distances without mention or concern of said pregnancy, blushing and giggling after losing one's virginity doggy-style, the list goes on...) I found his stereotypes to be tiresome, and the whole story felt very contrived, particularly the relationships he "explores" throughout the novel (which in my opinion reach little to no depth). The caricatures he presents belong in a comedy, and while this novel has its humorous moments, it is ultimately a dramatic portrayal of the hardships of frontier life, and the clash between the spiritual but doomed Native Americans and the white man's Manifest Destiny.

It seems readers love most about the novel its heroine, May, for her brazen ways, fortitude in peril, and feminist ideals. Please. This character is being spoon fed to 21st century women readers. A much more likable, realistic, and complex version of this same character is Elizabeth Peters' Amelia Peabody, who fits in perfectly in Peters' light-hearted, adventurous historical mysteries. And while Peabody would be the first to join the men for a whiskey and soda, contemplating the next "course of action," she would never, for her own amusement, make a mockery of a culture's ritualistic and spiritual traditions! Compared to the fully developed Peabody, May is a mere stick figure, propped up by the author in effort to sell his book."

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Saturday, April 2, 2016

Only Time Will Tell (The Clifton Chronicles, #1)Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fast paced, family mystery storyline that hooked me from the first read/listen (audio book). The writing is skilled and is loaded with twists and turns, which Archer does better than most, but it does not approach fine literature. It is narrated first person by the 5 main characters with each of their unique viewpoints.
Kudos to Jeffry Archer for always creating an interesting tale, with sympathetic characters, that is difficult to put down…all this with no foul language or gratuitous descriptive sex. I have read several of his novels and will read the sequel to this.
Warning: the end of the novel is a cliff hanger and what happens next is told in at least two sequels.

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