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    $17.13 $14.99 list($25.95)
    1. Zorro : A Novel
    $10.50 $7.19 list($14.00)
    2. Life of Pi
    $17.00 $12.14 list($24.00)
    3. Never Let Me Go
    $17.16 $10.98 list($26.00)
    4. Saturday
    $13.97 $11.98 list($24.95)
    5. True Believer
    $6.29 $2.66 list($6.99)
    6. To Kill a Mockingbird
    $16.47 list($24.95)
    7. Ya-Yas in Bloom : A Novel
    $5.39 $2.20 list($5.99)
    8. The Catcher in the Rye
    $8.96 $3.95 list($9.95)
    9. Things Fall Apart : A Novel
    $10.46 $7.44 list($13.95)
    10. Their Eyes Were Watching God
    $7.20 $2.60 list($8.00)
    11. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great
    $17.16 $17.15 list($26.00)
    12. Beyond Black : A Novel (John MacRae
    $8.96 $3.95 list($9.95)
    13. The House on Mango Street (Vintage
    $16.47 $15.80 list($24.95)
    14. Zorro SPA : Una Novela
    $10.20 $5.97 list($15.00)
    15. The Prophet
    $18.45 list($27.95)
    16. Until I Find You : A Novel
    $9.75 $5.85 list($13.00)
    17. Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts
    $15.40 $11.98 list($22.00)
    18. Three Weeks with My Brother
    $16.29 $11.95 list($23.95)
    19. The Ice Queen : A Novel
    $13.60 $13.18 list($20.00)
    20. Last Night

    1. Zorro : A Novel
    by Isabel Allende
    list price: $25.95
    our price: $17.13
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060778970
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Sales Rank: 46
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    US | Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan

    Book Description

    A swashbuckling adventure story that reveals for the first time how Diego de la Vega became the masked man we all know so well

    Born in southern California late in the eighteenth century, he is a child of two worlds. Diego de la Vega's father is an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. Diego learns from his maternal grandmother, White Owl, the ways of her tribe while receiving from his father lessons in the art of fencing and in cattle branding. It is here, during Diego's childhood, filled with mischief and adventure, that he witnesses the brutal injustices dealt Native Americans by European settlers and first feels the inner conflict of his heritage.

    At the age of sixteen, Diego is sent to Barcelona for a European education. In a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule, Diego follows the example of his celebrated fencing master and joins La Justicia, a secret underground resistance movement devoted to helping the powerless and the poor. With this tumultuous period as a backdrop, Diego falls in love, saves the persecuted, and confronts for the first time a great rival who emerges from the world of privilege.

    Between California and Barcelona, the New World and the Old, the persona of Zorro is formed, a great hero is born, and the legend begins. After many adventures -- duels at dawn, fierce battles with pirates at sea, and impossible rescues -- Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro, returns to America to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for all who cannot fight for it themselves.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (11)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A Zoro You Can Relate To
    Isabel Allende writes with an effortless flow. Her action is enthralling, her drama captivating. Allende carves out a ZORRO who is romantic and historical, but one who exhibits sensibilities we can relate to. Thematically the book has more in common with modern greats like "My Fractured Life", "Saturday", and "Life of Pi" than most historical fiction. You'll see "Zorro" on the bestseller list for a long time.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The Zorro you've never seen
    This is the first time that I have read anything by Isabel Allende. Initially, her narrative style put me off a bit. I'm used to a lot on dialogue that describes the situations rather than a lot of narration telling me what is happening. HOWEVER, within a couple of chapters, I was completely pulled into the story by Isabel Allende's tremendous ability to invite her reader into the world that she so adroitly creates. I found myself smiling as each piece of the puzzle that makes up the story I know so well fell into place. Allende allows her readers to observe young Diego De La Vega as each of his skills, personality traits and burning desires snap neatly into place. None of the characters motivations are left to chance, which makes for wonderful story telling.

    Her detailed descriptions of early California, Barcelona and Panama make the reader believe that Alende actually has seen and experienced the 18th century world that she describes.Also, she pulls no punches when it comes to her description of the indians and their mistreatment by early European aristocrats. The deep rifts between the upper class and lower class that is currently still in place in Mexico is made clear.

    Although the world of 18th century California is detailed, this story is character driven. Diego De La Vega (Zorro) is an extremely three dimensional character that runs the gamit of human emotion and Allende allows her readers to see his flaws as well as his attributes (as is so often true, the two are one and the same). Bernardo, who in previous incarnations of the Zorro story is a typical "sidekick", is anything but a "sidekick" in this novel. Bernardo is a complex, spiritual young man that in many ways is the moral superior of Diego. He is a brother, but also a wise guide, keeping the brash young man on his life's path. Rather than serving Diego because he is of "higher" caste, Bernardo serves out of love and a deep sense of destiny. In Yogic terms, these two men have found their darma, their purpose in life.

    "Zorro" is an interesting look at the legend as well as a wonderful, non-judgmental description of a world of the near past. "Zorro" is fiction, but Allende fills this story with historical fact as well clever analysis of the ramifications of many of the political decisions made at the time. Every dollar you spend on this one is an investment in thought and entertainment.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, enriching adaptation...
    I never read The Mark of Zorro, but if the original was anywhere near as good as this recreation, then I look forward to reading it some time in the future.Allende takes the reader into an enriching journey full of precise history and keen storytelling with Diego de la Vega -- a man torn between the customs of his heritage and doing the right thing.We see how Diego grows up in a somewhat corrupt society in which Europeans torture and abuse Native Americans.He starts off by joining a group called La Justicia, a group of Robin Hood types who help the poor.And through various adventures and turns of history, Diego becomes el Zorro -- a legendary hero that we will not soon forget...

    As said earlier, I have not read The Mark of Zorro and therefore cannot compare that book with this one.However, this novel is one of the best books I have read in a long time.Isabel Allende has been one of my favorite novelists for as long as I can remember and she has done a wonderful job with this novel.Zorro is a bit of a change from her usual work, but the different angle in her standard writing style is a welcome one.The most impressive part of this novel is the historical reference.Her descriptions of European landscapes and architecture and customs are vivid and breathtaking.We also get a lot of subplots centered on the times in which French military commander Napoleon Bonaparte ruled and corrupted a major part of Europe.All of the aforementioned things make for a literary, enlightening read.I only wish I had taken the incentive of reading the original Spanish version, for I am sure that many things were lost in the translation.Alas, it is difficult to write a summary without giving away important details or spoilers, which is why I have made mine brief. I simply suggest that you get this book and savor its pages like fine wine because historical novels based on legendary heroes don't get better than this!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting read, great for book clubs
    A very different book for Ms. Allende. Based on the fictitious, though widely known, legend of Zorro, Ms. Allende creates a character that we get to know so well, his unusual childhood, his doubts, ambitions and thirst for justice that one has to stop to realize that this is not a biography!! Diego de la Vega's father is a Spanish officer and his mother a Shoshone Indian. He eventually is sent to Spain for a European upbringing and education.

    Characters are described in depth and are an incredible mix of Indians with their legends and beliefs, his "milk brother" Bernardo whom he is fiercely bonded to, radicals fighting for justice for the poor in Spain, a fencing master who teaches Diego everything he knows and a woman whose love he cannot have.

    I think the weakest part of this book is the first third, unfortunately, as the reader must have the desire to "stick through" the first 100 pages or so; but once they do will be nicely rewarded.

    A great book for anyone who loves an adventure; particularly those who grew up in the 50's and watched the TV series and/or has a fascination for this character.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A zesty saga about the making of a legend.
    Isabel Allende's enchanting new novel, "Zorro," traces the origins of the legendary folk hero, who evolved from a privileged and foolish young man into an intrepid warrior.Zorro's mission was to use his wits, agility, and formidable fighting skills to defend the poor and downtrodden in early nineteenth century Spain and California.Allende laces her narrative liberally with humor, irony, wit, and dozens of colorful characters.

    The story begins with the birth of Zorro's alter ego, Diego de la Vega, in Alta California.We follow Diego to Barcelona, Spain, where he changes from a playful and callow youth into a passionate young man.The author enlivens her story with intrigue, sword fights, romance, treachery, adventures on the high seas, prison breaks, and fascinating historical background about the relationship between the Native Americans, the Spaniards, the French, and the Catholic Church during those turbulent times.There is never a dull moment in this nearly four hundred page book, and the translation from the Spanish by Margaret Sayers Peden is excellent.

    Without compromising the spirit of fun that permeates her tale, Allende makes it clear that the Indians in North America were victims of genocide. The Spanish conquerors came to the New World, greedy for land and treasure, and they murdered the Indians, burned their villages, and enslaved those who survived.Allende creates a number of unforgettable Native American characters.Bernardo, Diego's devoted "milk brother," becomes mute after his mother is brutally assaulted; White Owl, Diego's grandmother, is a respected shaman and medicinal healer who teaches her grandson to be faithful to his spiritual guide, the fox; and Toypurnia, Diego's mother, is a fierce warrior who cannot be tamed, even by the love of the handsome hidalgo, Alejandro de la Vega.

    "Zorro" works so well because Allende goes back to storytelling basics.She puts interesting people in exotic settings, and she has them contend with nasty villains who will stop at nothing to get what they want.Finally, she features a brave, albeit flawed hero, who risks his life, with panache and style, to fight for justice.If this sounds like a Spanish "Star Wars," that's not far off the mark.Although the characters, the setting, and the time frames may vary, well-told stories about the battle of good versus evil will always find a place in people's hearts.
    ... Read more


    2. Life of Pi
    by Yann Martel
    list price: $14.00
    our price: $10.50
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0156027321
    Catlog: Book (2003-05-01)
    Publisher: Harvest Books
    Sales Rank: 73
    Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

    The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a 450-pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for 227 days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth." After hours of coercion, Pi tells a second story, a story much less fantastical, much more conventional--but is it more true?
    ... Read more

    Reviews (976)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A truly remarkable tale
    Good storytelling in this age is quite rare. Rarer still is an engaging story with a sustaining set of characters to draw you in and teach you about what it means to be a human being. There is plenty of plot summary elsewhere to give you a sense of what the book is about. What you won't know until you read it is how deceptively simplistic those synopses are. Long ago, I actually decided not to read the book after reading such a summary. What a mistake!

    "Life of Pi" is without a doubt the best work of contemporary fiction I've read since "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay". The story's elements are simple and straightforward, but the author's voice is charming, intelligent and insightful. What I found so remarkable about a book advertised for it's "inventiveness" is the degree of realism. In many ways, Martel's style reminds me of the great "magical realists" like Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Pi's fascination with religions and his attention to the detailed inner workings of zoo management are illuminating. Never before has such an eloquent case been made for the civility of a zoo (I suppose it would take a zoo run by a vegetarian family to make such a place civil).

    Naturally, the story really finds its legs once Pi is stranded at sea with wounded animals. It is a testament to the author's abilities that 227 days on the ocean can be filled with such immediacy and interest. Pi's journey is a story of resilience and determination...a desire to go on living when there is seemingly no point in doing so. Throughout it all, Pi suffers with dignity and pride, engaging his plight head-on, digging in his heels and sticking it out until the end. What's staggering is how lively and redemptive such an experience can be. This book is funny, informative and surprisingly fast-paced given the fact that the narrator is adrift at sea.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Multi-faceted
    Life of Pi has one of the strangest beginnings that I have ever read. The narrator gives us many small and random facts about zoology, then proceeds to detail his interest in Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism, and how he practices all three religions at the same time. Not exactly gripping writing, or similar to the survival story described on the back jacket. But, near page 100, Life of Pi abruptly transitions. Our hero, Pi, leaves India with his family and their zoo animals, (his family runs a zoo) on a cargo ship bound for a new life in Canada. But, the cargo ship soon sinks and Pi is left on a life raft with a tiger. Now, the real book begins. Pi must survive on a small life raft with a massive tiger. The meat of the novel is Pi explaining his activities while on the high seas. But, as the novel continues, his exploits change from the normal, collecting water when it rains; to the hard to believe, going blind and meeting fellow survivors. Predictably, Pi survives, and the author's purpose of writing the novel becomes clear when he is interrogated. Life of Pi can be read two ways, as a exciting survival story with a bad beginning; or as an allegory for the two different ways in which events can play out, the reader not knowing which way actually happened, and which way was fantasy. Because of the questions it raises, Life of Pi would be an excellent discussion book for a book club, however, it is enjoyable when read alone as well.

    4-0 out of 5 stars A deeper look
    Life of Pi was a wonderful book, with notes of philosophy and theological thought tied into a well crafted story. While it may start with a slightly slower pace than other books in the genre, it is worth the effort. If you liked this, I would also recommend Golf in the Kingdom.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A delicious rendering of an exciting and memorable
    journey across blue seas with one of the most unforgetable characters I have ever come across. Pi Patel, a zookeepers son living in India,has a vast knowledge of animals and is in a love/fear relationship with them all. When the family must move, they do so, zoo and all to Canada. Unfortuneately the ship they are on loses its battle with the sea and sinks; leaving Pi on a lifeboat with several of the surviving zoo animals.

    This floating island becomes a city within itself and how Pi survives, fighting to co-exist with the wild beasts while defending himself against hunger, thirst and nature is a frightening yet mystical journey for both Pi and the reader.

    The fact that Pi is a Catholic/Hindu/Muslim adds something very thought-provoking to an already magnetic novel.

    I suggest you travel along with this enigmatic boy/man and see through his eyes the vast expanse of sea; hear through his ears the wild frightening animal noises; pray with him to his God and above all take this author's flight of imagination and savor and enjoy because it is truly wonderful!

    4-0 out of 5 stars A Slice of Pi
    Martel spins a fascinating yarn that goes beyond the realm of imagination. The exposition moves slowly, leaving the reader to ponder where the tale is headed. However, once the plot becomes apparent, the text flows, for the most part. The seemingly simple story line of being trapped on a lifeboat is, indeed, complex. Some readers tout their religious denotation; however, no one needs to look that deeply. Read it because it's an enlightening tale that makes one wonder how anyone would endure such a crisis. ... Read more


    3. Never Let Me Go
    by Kazuo Ishiguro
    list price: $24.00
    our price: $17.00
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1400043395
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 113
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    All children should believe they are special.But the students of Hailsham, an elite school in the English countryside, are so special that visitors shun them, and only by rumor and the occasional fleeting remark by a teacher do they discover their unconventional origins and strange destiny.Kazuo Ishiguro's sixth novel, Never Let Me Go, is a masterpiece of indirection.Like the students of Hailsham, readers are "told but not told" what is going on and should be allowed to discover the secrets of Hailsham and the truth about these children on their own.

    Offsetting the bizarreness of these revelations is the placid, measured voice of the narrator, Kathy H., a 31-year-old Hailsham alumna who, at the close of the 1990s, is consciously ending one phase of her life and beginning another.She is in a reflective mood, and recounts not only her childhood memories, but her quest in adulthood to find out more about Hailsham and the idealistic women who ran it.Although often poignant, Kathy's matter-of-fact narration blunts the sharper emotional effects you might expect in a novel that deals with illness, self-sacrifice, and the severe restriction of personal freedoms.As in Ishiguro's best-known work, The Remains of the Day, only after closing the book do you absorb the magnitude of what his characters endure.--Regina Marler ... Read more

    Reviews (58)

    4-0 out of 5 stars beautifully lyrical overall
    A beautifully lyrical piece, deceptively simple prose.Part of the resolution feels a bit forced though; the story would have been better without it.The final few pages, however, help to correct part of this mistake and continues the generally sweet, sad tone of the inevitably of departure.
    An important commentary on what could plausibly become a major social issue from modern cloning technology.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read It Quickly, Think About It Deeply
    Everyone wants to write dissertation-length reviews of this book that spoil the suspense and mood Ishiguro tries to build. Here's a quick one instead: This book is marvelously and beautifully written. The prose reads quickly and feels right, creating the narrator as a very real presence. And the story deals with an alternate history, in which human cloning is possible and society has developed a system for taking advantage of this possibility.

    After finishing, I wasn't sure how I felt about the story--whether it worked, whether the ending was necessary, and various other issues that other reviewers have pondered. But at heart the book is about people who have had vital information about their world withheld from them and how, with the exception of the narrator and two of her friends, they accepted their lot in life without question--even though that lot was to be nothing more than contributors to the health and happiness of others without remuneration, financial or otherwise. The story thus touches on issues surrounding not only obvious topics like stem cell research and cloning, but also wage slavery and the perils of unbridled greed and willingness to turn a blind eye to the plight of others.

    Have all your friends read this. You'll have plenty you want to discuss.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Good in the small; disappointing in the large
    Caveat: there are small spoilers ahead, though fewer than in the Publsher's Weekly review that Amazon provides.

    I really wanted to like this book a lot, and it certainly is not without its virtues. The way Ishiguro sustains the voice of the narrator over the course of the story is impressive; Kathy's voice is every bit as distinctive as Stevens' in The Remains of the Day and yet quite unlike it. The book also deals with worthy themes, not least the way we might come to take for granted something utterly shocking and repulsive. One reviewer asked why none of the characters tried to run away. My response is that the reader wishes they might, but the point of the novel is that the characters have been lulled into a sense that their lot in life is inevitable; they have their place and the most they could hope for (a hope that plays out in the final pages) is that there might be a brief respite from what must come.

    More below on the psychological plausibility of that premise. My disappointment had to do with what sits in the background. The novel, after all, is set in contemporary England -- or, at least, a version of contemporary England that's supposed to be within a reasonable imaginative distance of the world as it actually is. Perhaps the scheme on which the novel is built could actually emerge from the real attitudes of contemporary Western Europe. The way we are to assume most people view Kathy and her fellow "students" is not unlike the kind of racism that's still far too common in supposedly civilized Europe. But even that sort of reflexive racism seldom goes so far as to call into question whether the "other" has a soul and, the most vicious aside, most Western racists would still be horrified by the use to which the "students" are put. It's true; we are within living memory of the Holocaust. But it's also true that because of those very memories, the Western world, at least, is a different place. Moreover, even though most of us have deep reservations about cloning, it's not because we think that cloned humans would be any less than human. On the contrary, our reservations are partly because it's so clear that these beings _would_ be humans -- just like us.

    Or so one might think. In order to make the case that this isn't so, and that the England he imagines is within imaginative reach, Ishiguro would have had to tell us a lot more than he does about how his dystopia came about. What we get, instead, is a hasty and almost perfunctory account in the final pages that feels unconvincing and blunts the emotional force of the novel's ending.

    That said, there's a coda that honesty compels me to add. When I finished the book, I felt much less moved than I thought I was meant to. But in spite of the clumsiness of the backstory, I woke up the next morning with a real sense of unease. It was not that I was ready to grant the plausibility of the backstory. It was that I could imagine all too easily that the characters might really have been manipulated into accepting the utterly unacceptable lot that they have been handed, however implausible that lot may be. These characters may not be intrinsically less soulless than the rest of us, but we can imagine them being robbed of a piece of their souls -- not by the circumstances of their births but by how they've been schooled to see themselves.

    5-0 out of 5 stars "YOU WERE BROUGHT INTO THIS WORLD FOR A PURPOSE"
    Never Let Me go opens with the young narrator Kathy H. telling us that she has been a "carer" now for eleven years, and that the authorities - whomever they are - have been generally pleased with her work. Then she talks about her "doners" and their "impressive recovery time," even before the "fourth donation." Kathy tells us that she's a graduate of Hailsham; a type of exclusive boarding school, "a privileged estate" set in the tranquil English countryside, presided over by a mismatched group called the "guardians."

    Hailsham is no ordinary school. Like most boarding schools, Hailsham exists in its own enclosed world, with its own philosophy, and its own faintly odd traditions. But there's never any mention of parents or a home life, and daily existence is permeated with strange customs, names, and an esoteric terminology. Former students are known as "veterans" and a mysterious "Madame" drops by occasionally to collect artwork for something called "the Gallery."

    Obviously something strange is going on and it all looks obliquely sinister, but this hardly matters to Kathy and her best friends Tommy and Ruth, as they think they are living some sort of idyllic existence, having the best time of their lives. In Hailsham they had their own "lost corner."

    "We knew a few things about ourselves - about who we were, how we were different from our guardians, from the normal people outside. We perhaps new down the line there were donations waiting for us, but hadn't yet understood what any of it meant." In reality, the students are clones and have been bred specifically for harvesting their organs. After they do this, and their series of donations are finished, they'll be "complete" and presumably die.

    Of course, this is all kept mysteriously quiet, although the kids have a hint of their purpose. In one instance, a frantic Miss Lucy - one of their kinder guardians - blurts out that even before they're middle-aged they'll have to start to donate vital organs - their first donations, and "if your to have decent lives, you have to know who you are and what lies ahead of you."

    Ishiguro, in very careful increments, lets the children know, and through them us what Hailsham is really for - an exclusive institution where the children are reared for one soul purpose. For them death is not only inevitable, it's almost desirable. Kathy, Ruth and Tommy often discuss big plans for the future, but because of their preconceived role they stay fearful of the world around them - "unable to quite let each other go."

    Ishiguro takes a rather icy, restrained, and dispassionate look at this issue, but he does it from the point of view of the donor, rooting the reader firmly in the mind of Cathy. We get to see her thoughts and views of the world, and throughout, a picture emerges of a passionate, intelligent, perceptive, and also a remarkably sensitive woman, who is unfortunately regarded by the society around her as "not quite human."

    Never Let Me Go portrays a new world rapidly becoming more scientific; there are more cures for the old sicknesses, and there are now vast human banks rich in deposits of hearts and lungs and livers. But it's become also a harsh and cruel world full of scientific objectivity, where the donors are housed in government run institutions and where societies are exhibiting a resoundingly deep moral blindness towards the issue. It's a scenario that is chilling, compelling, otherworldly, and also deeply disturbing.

    Beautifully written, with exquisite warmth and tenderness, Never Let Me Go is often disquieting and worrying, but it will also fill you with the bright light of understanding and leave you absolutely enriched for the experience. This gifted author has created something astonishing, not so much a novel, but a passage into the heart of the human soul. Mike Leonard May 05.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hail Sham!
    What do Kazuo Ishiguro's new science fiction novel "Never Let Me Go", his Booker Prize first novel "Remains of the Day" and Gilbert and Sullivan's "Pirates of Penzance" have in common? Well, they all deal with stultifying British class structure. And they could all share Pirate's subtitle "A Slave of Duty".

    But to an American mind at least, stories of self-sacrifice due to unwritten orders given by dubious authority seem like a sham. In fact, in his new book, the truly privileged students live in a cloistered private school named Hailsham. Now of course Hailsham is a very British name, and the proper division is Hails-ham or Hails hamlet. But I prefer the wordplay "hail sham" or "health deception", because Hailsham is not what it seems.

    Unlike most reviewers I will not give the plot away ("Luke, I am your father"). Do not listen to the National Public Radio interview where Mr. Ishiguro cheerfully ruins the story by telling the central secret.

    The simplicity of his writing, without any jargon or forced super-futurism, makes the story even eerier. It is like a sinister version of a cheery P. G. Wodehouse school story--with pranks, sports, eccentric "masters" distracting the reader from the central horror. The character's minutely detailed emotional reactions to minor events would seem neurotic. But in this cautionary morality play they are needed. They help prevent a freedom-loving, individualistic reader from kicking over the author's traces and shouting "Run away you fools, save yourselves!" at the quaint, spidery, Bembo typeface. ... Read more


    4. Saturday
    by Ian McEwan
    list price: $26.00
    our price: $17.16
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0385511809
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-22)
    Publisher: Nan A. Talese
    Sales Rank: 52
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Download Description

    "In Saturday he remains at the top of his game — assured, accomplished and ambitious... [Saturday] offers something transcendent, impossible to dissect."
    —Lewis Jones, Telegraph

    "operating at the height of his formidable powers...Artistically, morally and politically, he excels"
    —Ruth Scurr, Times

    "Where the literary careers of some of his contemporaries now look like gaudy wreckage, he has triumphantly developed into a writer of outstanding subtlety and substance. ..Written with superb exactness, complex, suspenseful, reflective and humane, this novel about an expert on the human brain by an expert on the human mind reinforces his status as the supreme novelist of his generation."
    —Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

    "It's the good writing and the truthful and convincing way of rendering consciousness that makes Ian McEwan's Saturday so engrossing, keeping me awake like a mystery thriller."
    —Colm Toibin chose Saturday as one his books in A Little Night Reading, in The Sunday Times

    "Refreshing and engrossing, Saturday has a pleasing intimacy... McEwan's superb novel amply demonstrates how good fiction, by dramatising unweildy and fraught ideas in a deeply personal narrative, can fashion the world into gobbets sometimes more digestible than factual reportage"
    —James Urquhart, Independent

    "His gift of observation, wonderfully precise, now comes thick and fast. There is nothing in this novel that feels forced. The author's mature attention illuminates equally everything it falls on....this [is a] profound and urgent novel."
    —Tim Adams, Observer

    "In Saturday he is at his best — thoughtful, eloquent, yet restrained. The novel has all the technical assurance of its predecessors, and suggests as well as a newly political sensibility and a seductive, Joycean attention to the textures of normality."
    —Henry Hitchings, FT

    "Saturday is a brilliant novel about post 9/11 Britain, about the fragility of middle-class liberal values and assumptions, and the escalating vulnerability of our small, democratic island. It is McEwan writing on absolute top form."
    Daily Mail

    "An exemplary novel, engrossing and sustained. It is undoubtedly McEwan's best."
    —Anita Brookner, Spectator

    Praise for Atonement:
    “Atonement is a deliriously great read, but more than that it is a great book.”
    —Zsuszi Gartner, The Globe and Mail

    “A book that shocks one into remembering just how high one’s literary standards should be… A tour-de-force by one of England’s best novelists.”
    —Noah Richler, National Post

    “A beautiful and majestic fictional panorama.”
    The New Yorker

    “Atonement is a tremendous achievement, a rich demonstration of McEwan’s gifts as a storyteller.”
    The Vancouver Sun


    From the Hardcover edition.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (95)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A moving story
    Saturday brilliantly depicts life in a post 9/11 environment and successfully portrays a world of divergent but understandable differences. This novel's varied attributes places it in the line ofgreat stories like DA VINCI CODE, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE, THE TRIUMPH OF THE SUN, NEVER LET ME GO. They have at their core mystery,love, happiness, hope, sufferings and uncertainty.

    2-0 out of 5 stars Perfectly pretentious
    Henry Perowne, brilliant neurosurgeon, lives in a 7000 square foot period townhouse in the beautiful part of London, plays squash every Saturday (before making love to his wife of 20 years for two hours), never looks at other women, runs the London Marathon every year, never loses his temper and generally makes you want to throw up.As does his perfect wife (brilliant lawyer/daughter of famous poet/heiress), perfect daughter (beautiful brilliant poet protégée) and perfect son (brilliantly gifted blues musician). At least he does have one flawed relative, his drunk of a father in law.Then again, the drunk father in law is also a brilliant world famous poet who lives in a French chateau.These characters are all sickeningly bourgeois and totally unbelievable.Add to that some shallow and equally artificial pontifications on the wisdom of the War on Iraq, a score of sleep inducing pages describing squash matches and the like and, hey presto, you have "Saturday".

    5-0 out of 5 stars Chaos and Order
    Ian McEwan is a master at pitting chaos and order against one another to create human drama. I personally loved McEwan's "Amsterdam" as an all time favorite and thoroughly enjoyed "Atonement" as well. With "Saturday" he keeps that same approach of human drama. Here with "Saturday" he utilizes a stream of conscious voice reminiscent of "My Fractured Life" that is tremendously effective. Just when you think the voice is rambling you realize its purpose and the lesson of consequence. You will be enthralled.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The weekend is here---do you know where YOU are?
    In my quest for the next best thing, I ran across "Saturday."While I hadn't read "Atonement," I was still cautiously optimistic, given the fact that sometimes the term "bestseller" doesn't always mean "good." But the sixth day of the week turned out to be quite fascinating.Well written and well thought out, along the same lines as McCrae's "Children's Corner" and full of inspirational insight (think "Glass Castle") this wonderful novel captivated my attention from page one until the end.Certainly one of the reasons for the success of this novel is the fact that it deals in some way or other with terrorism and the war in Iraq.But McEwan takes things farther than just that.It may only be one day in a man's life, but what happens internally to him is much, much more.Caution:This is not the book for you if you don't like to think!!!

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great writing about unbelievable people
    In spite of the fact that Henry Perowne's world is vastly different from the one in which which most of us live, we share the same emotions.On any day we can be fearful of the world's future; we can be content in a loving yet sometimes touchy family relationships; we can be comfortable in careers, and we can be forced to react to situations that seem unfair, random, or meaningless.As different as Henry's world is to mine, I could relate.I suppose that's a sign of a good author.

    On the other hand, I can't say that "Saturday" will be a novel I'll never forget.The situations and Henry's reaction to them are at times just too contrived.I really can't envision a street thug such as Baxter so easily softened by the recitation of a poem.I can't believe a neurosurgeon would allow himself to perform surgery after the events of his day on that particular patient.I can't believe the almost surgerical analysis of Theo's blues "three times rounds the twelve bars" and such could have such an emotional effect.Henry seems to be an expert at many things (cooking, wine, music, squash), and totally oblivious to others.The family is a bit too perfect, too artificial.

    Furthermore, I don't understandthis novel as a reaction to 9/11.Terror and fear of a world out of control is not new (remember the atom bomb).

    The writing at times is beautiful although at times tedious (that squash game!).However, in spite of shortcomings, I'm glad I read "Saturday" and would recommend it to others for its ability to connect each of us in some very vague and almost unexplanable way.

    ... Read more


    5. True Believer
    by Nicholas Sparks
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $13.97
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0446532436
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-12)
    Publisher: Warner Books
    Sales Rank: 60
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an unforgettable love story that explores the deepest mysteries of all those of the heart.

    As a science journalist with a regular column in Scientific American, Jeremy Marsh specializes in debunking the supernatural.A born skeptic, he travels to the small town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, determined to find the real cause behind the ghostly apparitions that appear in the town cemetery.What he doesn’t plan on however, is meeting and falling hopelessly in love with Lexie Darnell, granddaughter of the town psychic.Now, if the young lovers are to have any kind of future at all, Jeremy must make a difficult choice:return to the life he knows, or do something he’s never done before take a giant leap of faith.But his choice is only the beginning, for their story takes the most unlikely twist of all, one that will finally make Jeremy a TRUE BELIEVER. ... Read more

    Reviews (66)

    3-0 out of 5 stars very disappointing - no emotional involvement at all
    This was an enjoyable book, and would have received a much higher rating from me had it stood alone. However, as a Nicholas Sparks book, I was holding it up to some very high expectations set by his previous masterpieces, and quite frankly, it fell very short. It simply wasn't up to the calibre of his previous books and lacked the very qualities I love most about his writings. It reminded me of a Danielle Steel novel rather than something from the deeper, more engaging, Nicholas Sparks.

    In a word, the story was superficial. The supernatural premise that drew the characters together was ridiculously hokey, and pitting New York city-life against life in sleepy small town America didn't capture my interest the way it could have had it been presented better, with more exciting characters and plot development.

    Noticeably absent: there was no deep emotional connection between the two protagonists. Even though I easily buy into the soulmates, meant-to-be concept of love-at-first-sight, I did not find the romance and coming together of these two characters to have that kind of depth or energy. I'm not convinced they truly belong with each other, or their relationship will last much beyond the end of the story.

    As well, there was no emotional connection between the characters and the reader. There wasn't a deep passion for me to feel alongside them. I didn't grow to care for them as people nor did I become as emotionally invested in their relationship, as I have with other Nicholas Sparks characters. These two will be easily forgotten, whereas Noah/Allie, Jamie/Landon, Theresa/Garrett, Paul/Adrienne, Miles/Sarah, and all the others have continued to live in my heart long after I put those books down and moved onto other reading material.

    On the positive side, there were flashes of Nicholas Sparks's brilliance scattered throughout the book. His use of vivid descriptions and attention to detail was impeccable, as always. The dialogue flowed naturally, with the right blend of wit and seriousness, and sounded realistic (very important to me in a romance novel, as most don't have this quality and instead use incessant and annoying bickering so the conflict/tension comes across as abrasively hostile instead of deep and abiding love).

    All-in-all, although I was sorely disappointed, it was still a pleasant story and worthwhile reading. I hope Nicholas Sparks goes back to novels that draw the reader into an emotional investment into the characters and their story, with their bittersweet tragic endings (or even happy endings as in The Wedding). I prefer to feel strong emotions and intense passion when I read a Nicholas Sparks.

    5-0 out of 5 stars the greatest Nicholas Sparks book yet
    I love all of Nicholas Sparks' books, but this one i couldnt put down. Great storyline, and you really won't be able to stop reading it. Once i finished it i wanted to read it all over again.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not his best work
    I am a huge Sparks fan, but this book was not writen by the Nicholas Sparks that I once knew.It was long.I had trouble staying focused, but I will say that it had a good end to it, it just took forever to get to that end.If you are a Veronica Haddon fan then you will never get through this book.It is just not up to the standards of Whispers of the wicked saint, but it is worth the read, If you still love nicholas sparks.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Yeah, it was good...
    I thought this was a good book, and the way the two characters fell so quickly for one another (in a matter of days) reminded me of Nights in Rodanthe (which is my fave).Nicholas Sparks has done it again, with another novel that shows that miracles can happen when you least expect them, and that love conquers all.

    1-0 out of 5 stars A Sparks disappointment
    Oh how I waited with bated breath for Nicholas Sparks' new release! And oh how disappointed I felt as I struggled through this "Danielle Steel"-like book. The Notebook and Message in a Bottle rank as 2 of my all time favorite books. True Believer, however, did not make a true believer out of me. The whole story was unbelievable from the very beginning. Too much for me to believe that 2 people that have just met can instantly know that they are in love, oh please. There is no depth to this book. The characters are implausible, shallow, and very predictable. It seems as thought Mr. Sparks is trying to follow a formula that he thinks will sell, a la Danielle Steel. He should spend more time visiting the truth in life and love-as in The Notebook-and less time giving us this pulpy mess, and expecting us to swallow it... ... Read more


    6. To Kill a Mockingbird
    by Harper Lee
    list price: $6.99
    our price: $6.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0446310786
    Catlog: Book (1988-10-11)
    Publisher: Warner Books
    Sales Rank: 466
    Average Customer Review: 4.58 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.... When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."

    Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

    Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout's first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children's consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well--in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout's hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind "when you really see them." By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

    Reviews (1234)

    5-0 out of 5 stars To Kill a Mockingbird
    This is one of my all time favorite book as well as my favorite movie. I think that those of us who have read the book love the fact that narrator as well as one of the main characters is a little girl named Scout. The story is seen through her eyes and this makes the book more enjoyable as well as easy to understand. Sometimes she's funny and witty, other times she's very intelligent and through out the story she's just trying to understand the world around her. Atticus Finch, Scouts father, is a wonderful character because he shows his love and respect for his children as well as for everyone else. He shows he has moral values rather than social ones when he defends a black man being accused of having raped a white women. This shows that no matter how bad or how wrong things are, there is always someone willing to stand up for what they believe, and that there are good people in the world. This took alot of courage on Atticus's part considering they lived in the South. And although he loves both his children dearly, he seems to have a special bond with Scout. He teaches her that a person doesn't really understand someone else until they've walked in their shoes. That is excellent advice no matter who you are or how old. What is also highly interesting, and very original to this story, is the mystery behind Boo Radley. He's one of the main characters in the story yet he never really appears in person. In the first half of the story the children talk so much about him that they make jokes and at some points make him sound like a monster, not knowing that in the end he's the one who saves the day. I believe that what I love the most of this story is that it isn't a love story or an action/adventure kind of story, but one that tells the experiences that all of us can learn from. They're experiences we see happen sometime in our lives. Justice and injustice, prejudice in the society we live in, and courage and respect for other human beings. Anyone and everyone can relate and learn from this story, this is why it's a wonderful story for anyone to enjoy.

    5-0 out of 5 stars I thought this book would be boring--WAS I EVER WRONG!
    For years, my friends had pestered me to read this book. Every time I would look at them and say "It looks so boring, though!" It wasn't until this year for a school assignment, that I read it. I could have killed myself for not reading it earlier. This book is anything but boring. It is a fantastic novel that I will read over and over. Jeremy(Jem) and Jean Louise(Scout) Finch are brother and sister and they live in the county of Maycomb in Alabama. The story takes place in the 1930s. At this time, there was a lot of discrimination towards black people. People also discriminate poor whites, to whom they reffered to as white trash. One family that was considered white trash was the Ewell family. Bob Ewell was the father of 8 children. Since thy had no mother, 19-year-old Mayella Violet Ewell, the oldest child, served as a mother. A black man named Tom Robinson, who worked in fields near the Ewell household, had to pass by the house every day. Being lonely, Mayella started making advances towards Tom. This was totally against all code. It was unimaginable for a white and black to do anything with each other. Ashamed of what she had done, Mayella went to the court and accused Tom of molesting her. Atticus Finch, the father of Jem and Scout, is the lawyer who defends Tom. Every one is against him because of this. Sure enough, Tom and Atticus lose the trial. But Bob Ewell is planning revenge on Atticus anyway, because Atticus had exposed him as a liar in the courtroom. What Bob ends up doing is extremely scary. This book touched me very much. In my opinion, i would say Atticus is my favorite character. The lessons he teaches to Scout and Jem about right and wrong, and how peaceful and kind he is to everyone is just amazing. Atticus is a great man, and I respect him very much even though he is make-believe. I have only one more thing to say. If your first opinion about this book is bad, please put it aside and read it. I will say that the beginning is boring, but look beyond it into the true meaning of this book. READ IT.

    5-0 out of 5 stars To Kill a Mockingbird
    Only growing up in the south would enable Harper Lee to capture the vicious sweetness that pervails there. Not only to capture it but then be able to transfer that on to the reader. You can smell the sweetness of the talcum through the sticky of the hot summer days. Sickly sweet. The church group women are vicious in their sweetness. Ardently praying for the savages in Africa while embracing the savage mores of the south. And in the midst of all of this she tells one of the greatest coming of age stories ever written. Fabulous. One I read every summer.

    5-0 out of 5 stars What Is There To Say. A MASTER WORK!
    Everyone knows this story or should. I'll get right to the point. YOU MUST READ "TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD"!!! You simply must!

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book
    THIS BOOK WAS VERY RELAXING...AND I LOVED IT. IT HAD QUITE A PEACEFUL SETTING, DISTURBED BY THE HARSH REALITY OF RACISM, EVIL, AND PREJUDICE. I LOVED HOW IT WAS TOLD FROM A CHILD'S POINT OF VIEW. ALSO, HOW ALL THE EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE CONCLUSION REALLY SUMMED UP WHAT THE CHILD (SCOUT) LEARNED. AT THE END, SHE LEARNED ABOUT COMPASSION, FAIRNESS, EQUALITY, AND KINDNESS. EVERY SO OFTEN, THIS BOOK HAD SOME SURPRISES AND IT REALLY DISGUSTED ME HOW MUCH HATRED THAT HUMANS HAD. I THOUGHT THE TITLE WAS EXCELLENT, AND THE ENDING WAS SPECTACULAR. I QUITE LIKED THE BOOK BETTER THAN THE MOVIE. I WOULD RECOMMEND THE OUTSIDERS AS WELL, AS IT IS ALSO ABOUT CONFLICT BETWEEN TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF PEOPLE. THE ENDING OF TKAM REALLY SUMMED UP THE STORY AMAZINGLY, AND THIS WAS ONE OF MY FAVOURITE NOVELS. ... Read more


    7. Ya-Yas in Bloom : A Novel
    by Rebecca Wells
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060195347
    Catlog: Book (2005-03-29)
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    Sales Rank: 100766
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    8. The Catcher in the Rye
    by J.D. Salinger
    list price: $5.99
    our price: $5.39
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0316769487
    Catlog: Book (1991-05-01)
    Publisher: Little, Brown
    Sales Rank: 383
    Average Customer Review: 4.17 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    The classic 1951 novel by J.D. Salinger is analyzed.

    The title, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, part of Chelsea House Publishers’ Modern Critical Interpretations series, presents the most important 20th-century criticism on J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye through extracts of critical essays by well-known literary critics.This collection of criticism also features a short biography on J.D. Salinger, a chronology of the author’s life, and an introductory essay written by Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities, Yale University. ... Read more

    Reviews (2341)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Let me say a few words.
    I was just browsing through the customer reviews of this book, and although I'm sure no one gives a damn about what I have to say (in the rare case that anyone will ever even read this review), I would like to offer my opinions and arguments with those who dislike this book. First of all, the issue of teenage angst is a difficult one to depict in words. It is a difficult one to depict without actually being a teen. Most of the depictions of teenage life these days are rather exploitative. They mostly tell teens how to behave and do not show the true side of adolescence. To those readers who complain that Holden is an "immature malcontent" and so on, teenagers are often immature and often are malcontents. If Salinger led you to believe that Holden is an immature malcontent, then his mission was accomplished. At the current age of 17, I can relate to Holden's character moreso than any other teenager depicted in the media. Although Salinger's style of writing is a little too elementary to be called a "classic," I feel that Holden Caulfield should be the model for teens. Here we have a character who hates change and wants to be a "catcher in the rye." When I see children shooting each other, I feel that this is a noble goal for anyone to have. While you are entitled to your opinion, keep in mind that if the world were full of Holden's "phonies" it would be a conformist nightmare. Thank god for people like Holden.

    5-0 out of 5 stars amazing book to anyone with half a brain
    Reading the bad reviews for this book, it became apparent why these people don't like this book; namely, they're idiots. The one star reviews are full of idiotic mistakes and misinterpretations that make me want to yell at my computer screen (seriously, go check them out; one guy keeps talking about his hike through the Arizona "dessert" [I picture a huge banana split myself]). Frankly, if you can't relate to Holden Caulfield, then you're probably shallow and naïve. Everyone feels like this sometimes or else they aren't paying attention to the world around them. And of course Holden is hypocritical! He's an anti-hero, folks. This is not Salinger's guide to life; it's a novel for pete's sake! I really don't understand how someone can read this and not feel sympathetic towards Caulfield. Sure he's privileged, maybe even spoiled, but he doesn't understand life. Who does? Certainly not people who say they "feel sorry for the trees killed to print this" or that Stephen King's works are better (someone actually said this). Anyway, thought I needed to vent about the bad reviews here, but most are good and I agree with them. Read this book!! [By the way, the person who blamed CITR for the murders of John Lennon et al is seriously insane...how can you blame a BOOK for inciting violence in maniacs? Does this person really believe that these psychopaths were perfectly normal human beings before Catcher corrupted them? Please!]

    5-0 out of 5 stars Salinger's a literary genius
    Without a doubt, The Catcher in the Rye is one of the best books I've ever read. Many people observe that this book is about someone who is clinically insane, but I read something completely different in Salinger's work. I view Holden, the main character, as a typical teenage boy with a bit more insight than the
    average person. I see him as someone who looks at the negativity in the world and has a yearning to grasp even one small piece of innocence within it, but is blinded by the depravity that he sees everyday. I think that the book is about Holden trying to preserve innocence before realizing finally that it is impossible, and therefore he needs to find happiness in places where he normally wouldn't look to find it in order to prevent impending insanity. There are many different interpretations of this piece, and all of the interpretations hold weight, regardless of the fact that the various viewpoints are very much in dissent with one another. This is a piece that can be appreciated and understood by anyone, and I would recommend that everyone get their hands on a copy of this book.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Great in High School
    I read this first in high school and thought it a masterpiece. I've read it since and I wasn't quite so impressed. It is however a very important work in our collective catalog and no literate person should miss out on it.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read this book immediately.
    We all know that "Catcher in the Rye" is one of the great classics of all time. No one needs me to tell them that ... Read more


    9. Things Fall Apart : A Novel
    by CHINUA ACHEBE
    list price: $9.95
    our price: $8.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0385474547
    Catlog: Book (1994-09-01)
    Publisher: Anchor
    Sales Rank: 3096
    Average Customer Review: 3.92 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    One of Chinua Achebe's many achievements in his acclaimed first novel, Things Fall Apart, is his relentlessly unsentimental rendering of Nigerian tribal life before and after the coming of colonialism. First published in 1958, just two years before Nigeria declared independence from Great Britain, the book eschews the obvious temptation of depicting pre-colonial life as a kind of Eden. Instead, Achebe sketches a world in which violence, war, and suffering exist, but are balanced by a strong sense of tradition, ritual, andsocial coherence. His Ibo protagonist, Okonkwo, is a self-made man. The son of a charming ne'er-do-well, he has worked all his life to overcome his father's weakness and has arrived, finally, at great prosperity and even greater reputation among his fellows in the village of Umuofia. Okonkwo is a champion wrestler, a prosperous farmer, husband to three wives and father to several children. He is also a man who exhibits flaws well-known in Greek tragedy:

    Okonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. His wives, especially the youngest, lived in perpetual fear of his fiery temper, and so did his little children. Perhaps down in his heart Okonkwo was not a cruel man. But his whole life was dominated by fear, the fear of failure and of weakness. It was deeper and more intimate than the fear of evil and capricious gods and of magic, the fear of the forest, and of the forces of nature, malevolent, red in tooth and claw. Okonkwo's fear was greater than these. It was not external but lay deep within himself. It was the fear of himself, lest he should be found to resemble his father.
    And yet Achebe manages to make this cruel man deeply sympathetic. He is fond of his eldest daughter, and also of Ikemefuna, a young boy sent from another village as compensation for the wrongful death of a young woman from Umuofia. He even begins to feel pride in his eldest son, in whom he has too often seen his own father. Unfortunately, a series oftragic events tests the mettle of this strong man, and it is his fear of weakness that ultimately undoes him.

    Achebe does not introduce the theme of colonialism until the last 50 pages or so. By then, Okonkwo has lost everything and been driven into exile. And yet, within the traditions of his culture, he still has hope of redemption. The arrival of missionaries in Umuofia, however, followed by representatives of the colonial government, completely disrupts Ibo culture, and in the chasm between old ways and new, Okonkwo is lost forever. Deceptively simple in its prose, Things Fall Apart packs a powerful punch as Achebe holds up the ruin of one proud man to stand for the destruction of an entire culture. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

    Reviews (358)

    4-0 out of 5 stars provides cultural understanding
    This novel tells a story of a burly tribesman in an African locale. The name Okonkwo, has been heard on the tip of many tongues throughout the tribe of Ib. They speak of the main character's reputation as a powerful wrestler, wealthy husband and farmer. Okonkwo's only inspiration is to overshadow his father's mockery and feeble attempts for success. This book contains exceptional insights into the African culture, before and during the slavery undertaking. Author Chinua Achebe, sheds no expense to guide the reader through various African customs, jargon and economy. Although younger readers may find some situations confusing, it is still interesting to follow the characters described in the book as they are entwined to the African way of life. One interesting aspect is when Chinua narrators the role of women in the tribe. To have more than one woman, signifies a man's wealth and power. Also defining his control over his household and property. The wives are expected to fulfill every household chore, along with caring for numerous children. This book is a good read for anyone that expresses an interest in history or culture, although the ending won't surprise you.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Cultures and conflicts
    THINGS FALL APART begins fable-like, telling us a story of Okonko, who is almost a Homeric hero. Honor and masculinity are integral to his character, and what he perceives in his father as laziness and femininity no doubt plays a role in his concern for these qualities. Two major events cause a major change in his life. As a result of an accident, he is cast out of his village for seven years. The other event is the coming of Europeans and their spreading of Christianity.

    There is little idealized in the town of Umuofia, where Okonko lives. The lives of the portrayed characters is not shown to be either easy or humane. And the missionaries in this book don't bring pure evil. The converts are converted of their own accord, and due to a trading store, "much money flowed into Umuofia." This book is fortunately free of moralizing. Things fall apart, but new ways are formed, and these ways may be better or worse than the old ways. Still, Achebe's novel is not blind to the destruction that the missionaries bring, and the brutality of their increasing power, which is moving towards domination.

    Achebe shows skillfully the dilemmas and problems of two cultures clashing that misunderstand each other. I just watched Nicolas Roeg's film "Walkabout" a few days ago, and though they are quite different stories, they have many parallels, such as the curious ending scene. More importantly, the theme of the mystery of culture, and destruction and self-destruction remain the same. In an age where globalization seems to be the key economic topic, it is crucial that we understand the variety of life on earth, the histories we are involved in, and the need for communication and understanding.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good but dull
    This book is a required reading for high school and I didn't know what to think when I finished the book. The writing was unique and the story is depressing but it does send out a good message about fear and how it takes over one's life. I liked it all in all but some of the things I didn't need to hear. For example, stories about murdering twins and then throwing them in the woods? That's very frightening

    4-0 out of 5 stars Unique to me
    I picked this book off a list in a course in college etitled 'diversity and minority groups'. It's funny how often I have haphazardly came across books that end up being truly incredible to me.
    This book takes place in Africa... a land and people that I know very little about. This book gave me a good deal of insight and was very interesting. At some points it was a bit hard for me to keep up as the timeline in the story is not a straight line. What I enjoyed most about this book is a fascinating look at some African beliefs and cultural practices regarding spirituality.
    This book does not contain any fairy-tale ending however it does contain some strong messages. The main character deals with all sorts of issues both external and internal. The latter half of this book describes the invasion by christian missionaries and how they essentially destroyed a once vibrant and unique culture. A good read for anyone who wants to explore other cultures/beliefs.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good
    It really was a plain novel. I wasen't too excited about it because I have read numerous novels with the exact same story line. But I guess you just have to appreciate a good novel when you see one. The only thing that I have against it is that it has too many Ibo words. You would easily think that it was meant for an Ibo audience, even with the glossary. It's not a good thing when you have to go back and check wtih the glossary every other page. It's a good book though - loved the ending. ... Read more


    10. Their Eyes Were Watching God
    by Zora Neale Hurston
    list price: $13.95
    our price: $10.46
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060931418
    Catlog: Book (1998-12-01)
    Publisher: Perennial
    Sales Rank: 3113
    Average Customer Review: 4.21 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    At the height of the Harlem Renaissance during the 1930s, Zora Neale Hurston was the preeminent black woman writer in the United States. She was a sometime-collaborator with Langston Hughes and a fierce rival of Richard Wright. Her stories appeared in major magazines, she consulted on Hollywood screenplays, and she penned four novels, an autobiography, countless essays, and two books on black mythology. Yet by the late 1950s, Hurston was living in obscurity, working as a maid in a Florida hotel. She died in 1960 in a Welfare home, was buried in an unmarked grave, and quickly faded from literary consciousness until 1975 when Alice Walker almost single-handedly revived interest in her work.

    Of Hurston's fiction, Their Eyes Were Watching God is arguably the best-known and perhaps the most controversial. The novel follows the fortunes of Janie Crawford, a woman living in the black town of Eaton, Florida. Hurston sets up her characters and her locale in the first chapter, which, along with the last, acts as a framing device for the story of Janie's life. Unlike Wright and Ralph Ellison, Hurston does not write explicitly about black people in the context of a white world--a fact that earned her scathing criticism from the social realists--but she doesn't ignore the impact of black-white relations either:

    It was the time for sitting on porches beside the road. It was the time to hear things and talk. These sitters had been tongueless, earless, eyeless conveniences all day long. Mules and other brutes had occupied their skins. But now, the sun and the bossman were gone, so the skins felt powerful and human. They became lords of sounds and lesser things. They passed nations through their mouths. They sat in judgment.
    One person the citizens of Eaton are inclined to judge is Janie Crawford, who has married three men and been tried for the murder of one of them. Janie feels no compulsion to justify herself to the town, but she does explain herself to her friend, Phoeby, with the implicit understanding that Phoeby can "tell 'em what Ah say if you wants to. Dat's just de same as me 'cause mah tongue is in mah friend's mouf."

    Hurston's use of dialect enraged other African American writers such as Wright, who accused her of pandering to white readers by giving them the black stereotypes they expected. Decades later, however, outrage has been replaced by admiration for her depictions of black life, and especially the lives of black women. In Their Eyes Were Watching God Zora Neale Hurston breathes humanity into both her men and women, and allows them to speak in their own voices. --Alix Wilber ... Read more

    Reviews (293)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A good read
    "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Zora Neale Hurston is a book about the life of a Negro woman in the 1900s. The story begins with Janie telling about her life, but then the author takes over the book. In the beginning, Janie returns to see some people she used to know sitting on their porch. After they dine with food she brings, Janie begins to tell her story, with Hurston soon taking over the point of view.

    We first hear about Janie's grandmother wanting her to marry Logan Killicks, an older man. She protests her decision, but her grandmother wants her to have someone who can offer Janie the security and protection of his older age and a large potato farm. The marriage occurs in the next chapter, but soon after Janie leaves her new husband to be with another man - Joe Starks.

    Joe and Janie go off to another place in Florida. Joe becomes mayor of a new town, named Eatonville, of all black people. Joe also builds a store in this town. At first, Janie is enjoying this relationship. But after the town starts developing, Janie doesn't enjoy life with Joe as much. This is partly because Joe is becoming the man of the town and Janie feels left out. She is asked by Joe to run the store, as Joe is busy doing town duties as the mayor, such as getting a new street light installed.

    Later, many other events happen in the story, but if I told you anymore I'd spoil the book.

    The author, Zora Neale Hurston, uses the dialog of Negroes in the story. Phrases such as "Aw, Tea Cake, you just say dat tuhnight because de fish and corn bread tasted sort of good" let you imagine the dialect used by southern black people. The characters created by the author really do let us know that they were blacks. We know this because of the way they talk, and because of the life that they are living as explained to us by Hurston.

    One theme of this novel relates to man versus society. In this case, man is Janie and society is the men of the south. Janie finally realizes all the hardships she has been through and how her life has changed. In a nutshell, this novel tells the life a Negro woman trying to live a happy life through difficult times.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful language, memorable characters, amazing story
    This book was originally published in 1937 and brought back into print because of an article in MS Magazine written by Alice Walker in 1975. It is considered a classic now, and is often required reading in South Florida high schools, and elsewhere I suspect, as well as being the book selected for Read Together Palm Beach County and for Read Together, Florida, a statewide reading project in 2004. Hurston was a member of the Harlem Renaissance movement, but was abhorred by Richard Wright who criticized her severely. Nonetheless, this book was an alternate pick of the Book of the Month Club when originally published. A short time later, some very ugly charges were leveled against Hurston; she eventually cleared her name but she never really got over it. Her books went out of print and she died, penniless, and was buried in an unmarked grave. Alice Walker found what was presumably Hurston's grave and erected a monument that reads, in addition to her name and dates, "Genius of the South."

    Their Eyes Were Watching God has quite a bit of Hurston's life, and more importantly, her beliefs invested in the main character of Janie Crawford. The novel is framed by Janie's return to Eatonville, the first all black incorporated city in the United States. Everyone in town is gossiping about her, and Janie tells her story to Pheoby, her best friend, and asks her to tell the townsfolk. Janie was raised by grandmother, Nanny, a former slave, who marries her off to an older farmer, Logan Killicks, when she's 16. She's not happy in that marriage and she leaves and marries Joe Starkes, who takes her to the new town of Eatonville. He becomes mayor there, and builds a store that becomes the center of town life. Twenty years later he dies, and she hooks up with the love of her life, Tea Cake, who is much younger than she is. He takes her to the Everglades where they survive the hurricane of 1928 that wiped out the 'Glades, but Tea Cake gets bitten by a rabid dog in the process. After his death, Janie returns to Eatonville, completing the frame.

    This is the story of a strong black woman's search for happiness and independence in a time when neither of those things was easily attainable. It is written in dialect, and is not an easy read. I listened to the beginning of the book on CD, produced by Recorded Books and read by Michele-Denise Woods, which it made it much easier to read on my own. It is also available on audiocassette read by Ruby Dee. Reading it aloud also helps - hearing the dialect makes it much easier to read. It's a terrific story and the language is incredibly beautiful, making the life of Janie Crawford a memorable one.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Zora as Muse
    Criticized for not writing a protest novel by some of her fellow African-American writers of the time, Zora instead wrote one of the most poetic novels ever written in the United States. Written in the vernacular of her African-American characters while narrated in standard form, this novel is a blues tale which uses both variations of the language to tranport the reader into the heart and soul of Janie, a young African-American woman in the 1930s on a search.

    Musical, heartbreaking, endearing, hilarious, and a novel where the issues of the day enter in horrific ways, this book's title has to best describe Zora as she wrote this book, divinely inspired. There is love, there is marriage, there is separation, there is an irrepressible woman who still speaks to all about the search all meaningful lives undertake.

    Alice Walker so loved this book and this author she restored her grave.

    4-0 out of 5 stars God is with us
    Sometimes it takes forty years of life, many tragedys and three marriages
    before we finally get it right.
    Janie got it right towards the end. Zora Neale Hurston was ahead of her time ... writing about a black female hero, a woman who had opinions, a woman who didn't accept tradition, a woman after my own heart.
    Janie is a black woman with attitude.
    "What does he mean I can't do that, do I not have a mind, an opinion, a soul?"
    Janie is black, not the color to be in the 30s, 40s, 50s, even now, sometimes....but she endures, lives, loves.
    Tea Cake is her shining star; the younger man, the one most likely to leave her, since she's a forty year old has-been...but
    he is her beautiful prince, her young Lolita, her life.
    Janie is a survivor, a woman we all want to be like, a believer in the human experience, a woman...(Watch me Roar!)

    "Their Eyes Were Watching God" is about a woman outliving heartache, humiliation and death...
    She is still living...
    inside every woman who believes life can be caught in mid-air, sucked up, absorbed, and changed
    if one so desires...
    How about you?

    3-0 out of 5 stars Their Eyes Were Watching God
    I was required to read this book in class. Although many of my peers disliked it, I found Their Eyes Were Watching God to be an interesting book. The vernacular dialect made it hard to read but I enjoyed the theme of love throughout the book. I was interested in the lessons that Janie, the main character, learned through each person that she met throughout her journey. I was interested in all of the African-American culture that filled this book. I would not recommend this book to everyone but it would be good for anyone who wants to broaden their horizons. ... Read more


    11. Of Mice and Men (Penguin Great Books of the 20th Century)
    by John Steinbeck
    list price: $8.00
    our price: $7.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0140177396
    Catlog: Book (1993-09-01)
    Publisher: Penguin Books
    Sales Rank: 2142
    Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    MAXnotes offer a fresh look at masterpieces of literature, presented in a lively and interesting fashion.Written by literary experts who currently teach the subject, MAXnotes will enhance your understanding and enjoyment of the work. MAXnotes are designed to stimulate independent thought about the literary work by raising various issues and thought-provoking ideas and questions.MAXnotes cover the essentials of what one should know about each work, including an overall summary, character lists, an explanation and discussion of the plot, the work's historical context, illustrations to convey the mood of the work, and a biography of the author.Each chapter is individually summarized and analyzed, and has study questions and answers. ... Read more

    Reviews (841)

    5-0 out of 5 stars John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men: A Review
    My name is Kelly, and I am a junior in high school and I was recently assigned to read John Stienbeck's novel OF MICE AND MEN. I thouroughly enjoyed reading this book, for many different reasons. For instance, Steinbeck uses a storyline that grabs the attention of all ages, young or old. In the begining, we are introduced to George and Lennie the novel's two main characters. They are fleeing from their former hometown in search of a new job opportunity on a ranch located in the Salinas Valley. The two fathem a dream of owning their own ranch one day with lots of acres and rabbits. They work out a plan to earn money so this dream can be fulfilled. While on the ranch the young childish Lennie is objected to numerous situations, in which they put George in akward posiitions. George's loyalty is constantly tested throughout the novel. With a surprise ending their dream seems to fade away. This book is one everyone should read, because it teaches the meaning of friendship and the "American Dream".

    5-0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece -- and I will never forget it!
    John Steinbeck wrote this classic gem in 1937. It's been a Broadway play and there have been several adaptations of it in movies and TV. I was generally familiar with the story but this was the first time I actually read the book. Wow! I was completely blown away! This is the story of a two lonely and alienated men who work as farm laborers, drifting from job to job in California. Lennie is gentle giant, physically strong but mentally retarded. George guides and protects Lennie but also depends on him for companionship. Together, they have a dream to someday buy a little farm where they can grow crops and raise rabbits and live happily ever after. This, of course, is not to be as the title suggests. "The best laid plans of mice and men" is a line in a poem by Robert Burns, which describes how a field mouse's world is destroyed by a plow.

    Steinbeck's narrative voice is seemingly simple in his descriptions of nature of as well as the details of the bunkhouse. His characterizations of the people are magnificent. We meet the other workers, all loners, and appreciate the beauty of the unique friendship between Lennie and George. We meet Candy, the old man who is outliving his usefulness. We meet Crooks, the black stable hand, shunned by the men and therefore turning to books for companionship. We meet the cruel Curley who taunts Lennie into a fight. And we meet Curley's wife, another lonely soul who uses her femininity to get the wrong kind of attention.

    There's tension in every word and I found myself holding my breath, knowing that something awful would happen, my eyes glued to the page, the world of Lennie and George deeply etched into my consciousness. I was pulled right into the story, wanting to shout warnings as I saw the inevitable consequences. The ending was incredibly sad, but yet satisfying. It couldn't have ended any other way. It's a small book, only 118 pages long. But it is a masterpiece and I will never forget it. I give it my highest recommendation.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Read It Again and Again
    We all read this one in high school, but it is one of those gems that you simply must read again and again. Great story and a great story teller.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A timeless look at society and the nature of friendship.
    Deceptively short and simply written, John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" actually offers any reader quite a lot to think about. The relationship between the two main characters highlights a number of issues relating to the themes of mental illness and friendship. The story takes place in Depression-era California. Lennie is a very large, strong man, but not too bright. He doesn't have a mean bone in his body, but because he fails to comprehend his own strength, he frequently does harm to others without meaning to. He loves to pet soft things, like mice and rabbits and puppies, and then becomes distraught when they die, not understanding that he has been too rough with them. Lennie's companion is the brains of the pair, a small man by the name of George. He fills the role of both caretaker and friend to Lennie, and does his best to keep him out of trouble, though he doesn't always succeed.

    The two men are traveling laborers, moving around as the availability of work dictates. To keep Lennie motivated and obedient, George pacifies him with stories of a future bright with luxury and free from worry. They'll buy a small farm, he tells his avid companion, and live off the fat of the land. They'll have their own crops and their own livestock, and go to shows whenever they feel like it. And if Lennie stays out of trouble, he can even have some rabbits of his own to take care of. Captivated by this vision, Lennie does his honest best to obey George and avoid doing anything that might jeopardize their dream. But his best just isn't good enough, and just when their plans look like they might actually be falling into place, Lennie makes the biggest bungle of all, leaving George with an extremely hard decision to make.

    One of the social problems Steinbeck seems to be commenting on here is the place of the mentally ill or impaired in society. What was their place at this point in time? Did they even have a place? This story makes it clear that there really weren't many avenues open to the mentally ill at the time. They could be institutionalized, but such places had little merit during the 1930s, when mental illness was not yet really understood. Patients were treated little, if at all, better than criminals. The other option would be for such people to try to get along in the outside world of "normal" people, as Lennie does. When Lennie's Aunt Clara dies, he is left with no family and so falls in with George, who becomes his new guardian. But the outside world is no more understanding of Lennie's handicaps than the doctors of the time, and provides countless pitfalls of its own.

    The other major theme of the story is friendship. What is true friendship? To what extent does one have responsibility to a friend, and what does this responsibility entail? This is something George must struggle with every day. He feels obligated to care for Lennie and help keep him out of trouble, though he clearly realizes that his own life would be far simpler if he were on his own. In the end, when Lennie commits the ultimate, irredeemable blunder, George must sort through this inner conflict to decide what is best for both of them. Should he continue to protect his companion, or should he save his own skin? And if he chooses to put Lennie's best interests first, what course of action would be the most just? The conclusion he arrives at is both intricately complex and, in another light, quite obviously simple at the same time.

    Aside from these two overriding themes, Steinbeck also gives us glimpses into other issues of the time, among them racism and labor conditions. On the farm where the bulk of the story takes place, one of the characters is a black stable hand. Nicknamed "Crooks" because of his crooked back, this man is estranged from the rest of the workers (all white). The only one who fails to comprehend why Crooks should be treated any differently than anyone else is Lennie, whose simple mind doesn't grasp the idea of racism. We also see what life was like for Depression-era vagrants, moving from place to place in search of work. The living conditions were not ideal (though those in this story are far from the worst imaginable), the food provided often lacked proper nourishment, and employers could treat their hired help in just about any way they pleased. After all, the laborers were lucky to find any paying work at all. Even if they didn't like the conditions, where else could they go?

    I'd definitely recommend this book to any reader. Though times have changed somewhat, the issues Steinbeck comments on are still very relevant today. The ideas presented in "Of Mice and Men" are many and deep, and much time can (and should) be spent contemplating them, but the book remains very accessible. It is a very short story, and can easily be read in one day. The style of writing is simple and direct, while retaining detail and a startling depth of feeling. However, it is by no means a feel-good story, so don't read this one at a time when you're already down in the dumps. While the ending has a very nice sense of resolution, and one is left feeling that George made the best decision he could under the circumstances (or, at least, this is the feeling I was left with), it is still rather depressing.

    5-0 out of 5 stars You've got to read this!
    Of Mice And Men Is a well written book, that you can enjoy with the whole family. In the story two friends who seem to be family protect each other through their whole journy. It's a fairly simple book that almost anyone could understan. this book has instances that will keep you thinking, why? In all this is a great book that you and your friends will enjoy. ... Read more


    12. Beyond Black : A Novel (John MacRae Books (Hardcover))
    by Hilary Mantel
    list price: $26.00
    our price: $17.16
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0805073566
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-09)
    Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
    Sales Rank: 2099
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Hailed as a "writer of subtlety and depth," Hilary Mantel turns her dark genius on the world of psychics in this smart, unsettling novel (Joyce Carol Oates)

    A paragon of efficiency, Colette took the next natural step after finishing secretarial school by marrying a man who would do just fine. After a sobering, do-it-yourself divorce, Colette is at a loss for what to do next. Convinced that she is due an out-of-hand, life-affirming revelation, she strays into the realm of psychics and clairvoyants, hungry for a whisper to set her off in the right direction. At a psychic fair in Windsor she meets the charismatic Alison.

    Alison, the daughter of a prostitute, beleaguered during her childhood by the pressures of her connection to the spiritual world, lives in a different kind of solitude. She cannot escape the dead who speak to her, least of all the constant presence of Morris, her low-life spiritual guide. An expansive presence onstage, Alison at once feels her bond with Colette, inviting her to join her on the road as her personal assistant and companion.

    Troubles spiral out of control when the pair moves to a suburban wasteland in what was once the English countryside and take up with a spirit guide and his drowned therapist. It is not long before Alison's connection to the place beyond black threatens to uproot their lives forever. This is Hilary Mantel at her finest- insightful, darkly comic, unorthodox, and thrilling to read.
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    Reviews (2)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beyond Black Humor
    Novelist Hilary Mantel can be dark.Very dark.Dark and funny, as fans can tell you--particularly readers of her brilliant memoir, Giving Up the Ghost.In her new novel (which Amazon didn't bother to recommend to me--I'm bummed!--the computer doesn't know me very well apparently), she goes "beyond black," as the title says, though the title refers less to Mantel's humor than to the nagging manifestations of spirits which plague Alison, the psychic protagonist.

    Alison is fat, single, the daughter of a prostitute, and psychic.I mean really psychic.The dead speak to her of all kinds of trivia, and her "spirit guide," Morris, is a (dead) lowlife dwarf who used to work at a circus. Alison will do anything to get rid of Morris, who is crude and stinky and pops up at inconvenient moments, but nothing works.And when Morris starts hanging out with fiends from Alison's old neighborhood, she begins to get really worried.

    Much of this novel is funny.Alison's assistant, Colette, a skinny, nasty, divorced control freak who books Al's appointments at psychic fairs, is a good foil for the casual Alison.She eventually becomes so obsessed with her management role that she even tries to control Alison's diet. Alison has to sneak around when she wants a slice of bread or anything tastier than lowfat turkey.

    But the last third or so of this novel is quite morbid and horrifying as we learn about Alison's past and the key to her psychic abilities.Is this black humor?Or something worse?Much worse, I would say.It's Beyond Black.

    I hope she wins the Booker Prize for it.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Didn't get it
    I'm a big Mantel fan.I loved "An Experiment in Love," "Fludd," and "A Change of Climate."Mantel's gorgeous prose style even carried me most of the way through "A Place of Greater Safety--"her gigantic novel about the French revolution.And so of course I rushed out to buy "Beyond Black" as soon as I saw it reviewed.

    As a novelist, Mantel has never been one to tip her hand.She keeps us guessing, for example about the true identity of the title character in "Fludd," and we never know how the protaganist of "An Experiment in Love" gets over her anorexia.When it comes to characterization Mantel shows rather than tells; she relies on evocative imagery, rather than on psychobabble, to shed light on the motivation of her characters.As Margaret Atwood says in her review of "An Experiment in Love," it is "what you don't know" that haunts you after you've finished one of Mantel's novels.

    But I think that Mantel goes too far off in this direction in "Beyond Black."She simply doesn't tell the reader enough to make the story hang together.Her background characters-- Alison's psychic colleagues, Colette's ex-husband, even the spectral Morris-- are caricatures.And the two protagonists are incomprehensible.We never really understand what draws Colette to the "psychic business" in the first place, given that she spends most of the novel being so skeptical.And we never really understand what it's like to be Allison, to have the dead tormenting you all the time.The flashbacks to Allison's past are ghastly and beautiful, but the "present tense" narrative is mostly taken up by innane dialogue that never seems to go anywhere.

    Both of the reviews I read of this book-- in the New York Times and the Washington Post-- are very favorable, so I'm wondering if I'm missing something.Did anybody see anything in this novel that I didn't? ... Read more


    13. The House on Mango Street (Vintage Contemporaries)
    by SANDRA CISNEROS
    list price: $9.95
    our price: $8.96
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0679734775
    Catlog: Book (1991-04-03)
    Publisher: Vintage
    Sales Rank: 3920
    Average Customer Review: 3.41 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Told in a series of vignettes stunning for their eloquence, The House on Mango Street is Sandra Cisneros's greatly admired novel of a young girl growing up in the Latino section of Chicago.Acclaimed by critics, beloved by children, their parents and grandparents, taught everywhere from inner-city grade schools to universities across the country, and translated all over the world, it has entered the canon of coming-of-age classics.

    Sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes deeply joyous, The House on Mango Street tells the story of Esperanza Cordero, whose neighborhood is one of harsh realities and harsh beauty.Esperanza doesn't want to belong--not to her rundown neighborhood, and not to the low expectations the world has for her.Esperanza's story is that of a young girl coming into her power, and inventing for herself what she will become.
    ... Read more

    Reviews (437)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not exactly what I expected
    I really expected something more from House on Mango Street, especially after reading such glowing reviews.
    It's a creative, inventive, courageous piece of writing, painting the coming of age of a young Latina in an ethnically mixed, lower class Chicago neighborhood. Each 'chapter,' some of which are only a few sentences in length, is a little vignette of a different aspect of Esperanza's life in her home, on the street, with relatives, at school, and in her wider neighborhood.
    It's written in the child's voice, and maybe that's one of what I would call the books difficulties. A persistent child narrator's voice can become cloying, and it's necessarily limited by 'what the child can know.' I guess that's another way of saying the voice got a little tiresome after while.
    But that very voice is also part of the book's strong appeal...
    I dunno...You'll have to read it yourself, something that's easily done at one sitting.
    House on Mango Street is a very interesting experiment, bound to be dissected and discussed in writing classes for a long time.

    5-0 out of 5 stars A top book in the genre
    There is a growing genre of books by people of Latin, Asian, and African-American heritage, describing their lives and cultures, often in juxtaposition to the Anglo mainstream they may or may not have dealings with. The House on Mango Street fits into this genre, and at the same time extends it. Cisneros writes with a deeply personal voice. At her core she is an individual, a watcher, as are most children; she happens also to be a girl in a Latino neighborhood. The people and events in this community are distilled through her eyes into small fables, moral lessons, and epiphanies: the moments and connections that shape a child into the adult she will become. The rhythmic songs of rope-jumpers, a drunk on the street, the potency of one's first pair of high-heeled shoes, the cruelty and kindness of friends; she takes them all in, using everything as food to nourish her dream of someday having her own house. It's not surprising that the adult Seasoners indeed does, nor that its eccentricity puts some of her neighbors on edge - but those are stories from other books of hers, equally worth reading.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Title
    Just an obnoxious test... ignore this

    1-0 out of 5 stars AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! BORING CRAP
    This book is a complete nightmare. Sandra Cisneros gets a bunch of credit for her fantastic writting, when she really needs to take a trip back to 1st grade and learn to put quotation marks in front of sentences that somebody is saying. She needs to indent, and make her vignettes longer than the mostly 2 paragraph long ones the book beholds. I'm only reading this crappy book because I have to, and believe me, it is all a waste of time, and the 11 dollars I paid for it at Barnes & Noble.
    Believe me, Sandra Cisneros is not the great writter she could be when she wrote this peace of s**t.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable book, for those who are ready
    It's sad that teachers are making high schoolers read _The House on Mango Street_. Having read their scathing reviews, I see that most high school students are not ready for this book. I'm thankful that I wasn't exposed to it until I was in college and able to appreciate its themes. The book is written from a child's perspective, yet it explores areas of life which many younger people don't feel comfortable exploring, which is understandable. This isn't a book for everyone, but it's a gem nonetheless and filled with wisdom, there for anyone who cares to recognize it. ... Read more


    14. Zorro SPA : Una Novela
    by Isabel Allende
    list price: $24.95
    our price: $16.47
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0060779012
    Catlog: Book (2005-05-01)
    Publisher: Rayo
    Sales Rank: 1592
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    Book Description

    ¿Quién no conoce al Zorro, el astuto y travieso enmascarado? Lo que no sabíamos -- de cómo surgió el héroe -- se resuelve en estas páginas, quenos revelan el misterio de su doble personalidad. Aquí re-encontramos a su amigo Bernardo, su corcel, Tornado, su prodigioso látigo, la Z con que firma sus hazañas y mucho más.

    Nacido en 1795 en la California hispana, Diego de la Vega está atrapado entre dos mundos. Su padre es un heroico militar convertido en próspero hacendado, su madre es una valiente guerrera indígena y su abuela materna es la sabia chamán de su tribu. Del primero, Diego aprende las virtudes de un hidalgo, desde esgrima hasta el arte de hacerse obedecer, mientras su madre y su abuela lo inician en las tradiciones indígenas y el conocimiento de la naturaleza y la magia. Junto a su inseparable amigo Bernardo vive aventuras enla niñez y se da cuenta de las injusticias que soportan los indios a mano de los colonos europeos.

    Diego se hace hombre en Barcelona, donde su padre lo manda a estudiar, justamente cuando España, ocupada por las tropas de Napoleón, soporta una cruenta guerra. Le toca de todo, desde duelos a muerte hasta enamorarse a primera vista, enrolarse en una sociedad secreta, huir con una tribu de gitanos, ser secuestrado por piratas y, sobre todo, enfrentarse al hombre que habrá de ser su peor enemigo. Por ultimo regresa a California a reclamar la hacienda donde nació e impartir justicia, luchando por los indefensos. Así, entre el Viejo y el Nuevo Mundo se forma el carácter del más legendario y romántico de los heroes.

    ... Read more

    15. The Prophet
    by KAHLIL GIBRAN
    list price: $15.00
    our price: $10.20
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0394404289
    Catlog: Book (1923-09-12)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 1169
    Average Customer Review: 4.82 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    In a distant, timeless place, a mysterious prophet walks the sands. At the moment of his departure, he wishes to offer the people gifts but possesses nothing. The people gather round, each asks a question of the heart, and the man's wisdom is his gift. It is Gibran's gift to us, as well, for Gibran's prophet is rivaled in his wisdom only by the founders of the world's great religions. On the most basic topics--marriage, children, friendship, work, pleasure--his words have a power and lucidity that in another era would surely have provoked the description "divinely inspired." Free of dogma, free of power structures and metaphysics, consider these poetic, moving aphorisms a 20th-century supplement to all sacred traditions--as millions of other readers already have.--Brian Bruya ... Read more

    Reviews (168)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Worth your time
    Most stories have some sort of existential or spiritual point to make. Gibran's story has many. But unlike most books this one sacrifices length and plot, employing a simple and poetic (in prose) directness in order to tell us not so much the meaning of life as how to live. The prophet in Gibran's story is asked by his people to talk about everything from the law to pain and death. And his sermons are both instructive and profound without being over righteous or narcissistic. In fact, so carefully woven and universal is Gibran's prose that one could conceivably adopt The Prophet as some sort of new age holy book. This would, of course, not only be potentially unwise but also unnecessary since its foundations are clearly derived from Judeo-Christian spiritual values. It certainly does not square with many eastern religions in its almost excessive romanticization of notions such as good, evil and God. And even for western readers, it is probably most valuable when considered as an eloquent reminder of our own spiritual heritage. I will keep this book and undoubtedly reread it many times over for its depth and wisdom. It isn't easy to write a modern set of spiritual aphorisms without sounding awkward, cliched, or downright wrong. But Gibran manages it with a natural attractiveness and spiritual sincerity that has assured its status as a modernized tome of timeless spiritual values.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Spiritual masterpiece
    Khalil Gibran's The Prophet is a truly awe inspiring work of prosaic poetry. Despite being a native-born Arabic speaker, Gibran wrote The Prophet in English, ensuring that his powerful words lost nothing in translation.

    The work's 28 short chapters recount the words of a prophet as he leaves his home to depart on a new journey. The words that flow from the prophet's mouth and onto the pages are philosophical and spiritual treatises on all aspects of life. Chapters discuss the range of human experiences and include discussions such as "On Friendship", "On Pain" and "On Death." What unites the 28 chapters is Gibran's thought provoking and probing literary style as Gibran's prophet invokes his listeners to live life to the fullest. The book is not overtly religious but every word and sentence is filled with a spiritual clarity.

    The book is eminently quotable with every chapter providing a nugget of truth worthy of repeating. Amazingly, Gibran packs his masterpiece into less than 100 pages, making it a very quick and easy read. Readers will find themselves returning to The Prophet again and again to recapture the beauty of Gibran's words.

    The Prophet, which Gibran himself recognized as his greatest masterpiece, is a timeless literary classic. Its truth has touched generations of readers and will undoubtedly continue to do so.

    5-0 out of 5 stars MidWest Book Review
    If I have ever read a book that is timeless, other than the Word of God, it would have to be this one. Although I may not have agreed with every word written, so many of the words of wisdom within these pages brought peace and comfort to me.
    I read this book many, many years ago. I quoted from it at times and thought of it often. The words seemed to wrap themselves around your heart and spring out in times of need. There are not many books that can stake that claim, and I have read many.

    A classic in my opinion and a book that will never be outdated.

    Recommended.

    5-0 out of 5 stars the beauty of spirituality
    I was given this book by a writer friend who called it "the most beautiful book I've ever read." So, since she and I have similar literary tastes, I was inclined to read it. This little book, written in a rich, colorful, deep, and wise poetic style, is full of some of the most moving and impressive spiritual phrases and messages I've ever read. It was written in 1923 but its poetry and wisdom are timeless.

    David Rehak
    author of "Poems From My Bleeding Heart"

    5-0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Wonderful!!
    This is a book you can read and re-read many many times.
    Great and timeless thoughts about relationships, love and
    friendship. I will share this with my family. :)

    Jeffrey C. McAndrew
    author of "Our Brown Eyed Boy" ... Read more


    16. Until I Find You : A Novel
    by JOHN IRVING
    list price: $27.95
    our price: $18.45
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1400063833
    Catlog: Book (2005-07-12)
    Publisher: Random House
    Sales Rank: 421
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    17. Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith
    by Anne Lamott
    list price: $13.00
    our price: $9.75
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0385496095
    Catlog: Book (2000-02-15)
    Publisher: Anchor
    Sales Rank: 1493
    Average Customer Review: 4.31 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    Anne Lamott claims the two best prayers she knows are: "Help me, help me, help me" and "Thank you, thank you, thank you." She has a friend whose morning prayer each day is "Whatever," and whose evening prayer is "Oh, well." Anne thinks of Jesus as "Casper the friendly savior" and describes God as "one crafty mother."

    Despite--or because of--her irreverence, faith is a natural subject for Anne Lamott. Since Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird, her fans have been waiting for her to write the book that explained how she came to the big-hearted, grateful, generous faith that she so often alluded to in her two earlier nonfiction books. The people in Anne Lamott's real life are like beloved characters in a favorite series for her readers--her friend Pammy, her son, Sam, and the many funny and wise folks who attend her church are all familiar. And Traveling Mercies is a welcome return to those lives, as well as an introduction to new companions Lamott treats with the same candor, insight, and tenderness.

    Lamott's faith isn't about easy answers, which is part of what endears her to believers as well as nonbelievers. Against all odds, she came to believe in God and then, even more miraculously, in herself. As she puts it, "My coming to faith did not start with a leap but rather a series of staggers." At once tough, personal, affectionate, wise, and very funny, Traveling Mercies tells in exuberant detail how Anne Lamott learned to shine the light of faith on the darkest part of ordinary life, exposing surprising pockets of meaning and hope.

    ... Read more

    Reviews (240)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Only for those with a wry sense of humor
    I can't fault this book, only praise it. For who else has written in such a unique way about a faith journey? Lamott makes it real (for someone of her age [middle-aged] and from a definitely Californian point of view.) But, her observations and the way she writes about them are universal. And funny.

    If you can't laugh at yourself, your foibles, and even at God, don't read this--you'll start feeling self-righteous and will be quickly entering a "how dare she?" review. You will, of course, have totally missed the point.

    Everyone can learn something about the way LIFE has a sneaky way of surfacing painful and joyous memories and feelings. These emotions are triggered by life's details, which Lamott expertly captures. She finds the most unassuming triggers to release a flood of feelings about various topics. The stories she tells are God-given, precious moments. Perhaps we don't "see" these moments and reflect on them enough in our lives. Is that why Lamott touches us? Thankfully, she remind us that they are there.

    Read and savor this book, if you are open to what makes someone an imperfect person--and a Christian.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Never written a review or letter to author before....
    Have been an avid reader for 30 years, but never before felt compelled to write a review or letter to an author before...This book, perhaps more than any of the thousands of others I have read, struck a chord in my soul. On the recommendation of a friend I had read "Operating Instructions" about three years ago. While thumbing through a Book of the Month Club type catalog I ran across the photo of a white woman in dreadlocks and was struck with admiration for the woman who would present such a public image. I was pleasantly surprised to read that her name was Anne LaMott. I ordered the book "Traveling Mercies" and was delighted and completely engrossed by it. Ms. LaMott puts words to emotion I cannot personally express when she speaks of her "Christian-ish" life-orientation, her likening of her personal experience of coming to the Lord as to that of a stray cat trying to enter her life, and the pain and sublime joy of rearing her Sam. Like Annie,(oddly enough the name my own mother, a story in and of itself, was called as a girl) I came to a personal relationship with God through voyeurism into a congregation of Black believers, and like her, was taught life lessons I didn't know I needed through my interaction in fellowship with them. I thank God for the talent with words he has bestowed upon Anne, ask his blessings upon her and her loved ones, and recommend this book to anyone who finds him/herself surprised at the move of the Holy Spirit in his/her life.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Hooked
    This is the book that got me hooked on Anne Lamott. Most poignant and precious are the insights about life as a recovering alcoholic. Raw facts about motherhood were astounding, too. Her word choice at times caused my gut to spasm, but I survived and went on to read all of the book she had previously written. To my delight and the benefit of mankind, Lamott's newest book, Blue Shoe, avoids profanity.

    4-0 out of 5 stars my kind of christian
    Until I read Anne Lamott I associated the word "Christian" with holier-than-thou, priggish, etc. Now I see clearly that that's just a stereotype. It IS possible for a Christian to be a liberal with a wicked sense of humor.

    Lamott isn't afraid to present herself in a less than flattering light whether it's secretly hating her mom or yelling out of frustration at her young son. We all do these things, but most of us prefer to show the world the "good" side of ourselves. Lamott is wonderful when it comes to making the everyday petty irritations of life funny, so that you empathize with her rather than judging.

    Lamott writes about children, her friends, relatives and church. She writes about the competitiveness that can develop among parents of young children, and she writes about the path she took to becoming sober. Unlike some reviewers, I don't think it's going to be detrimental to her later relationship with her son when she makes him go to church. There could be a lot worse things she could force him to do.

    In one essay, she writes about feeling unattractive after standing with a group of teenage girls waiting for a bus back to her hotel. Then she realizes that no one in the group is probably satisfied with her body, and this is something I've started to tell myself when I find myself in that kind of situation, too.

    This atheist gives this book two thumbs up.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Outside my experience
    This book should be an eye-opener for anyone who is prone to believing in "cookie cutter christians"...

    Read with an open heart. God will bless... ... Read more


    18. Three Weeks with My Brother
    by Micah Sparks, Nicholas Sparks
    list price: $22.00
    our price: $15.40
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0446532444
    Catlog: Book (2004-04-13)
    Publisher: Warner Books
    Sales Rank: 504
    Average Customer Review: 4.44 out of 5 stars
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    Book Description

    As moving as his bestselling works of fiction,Nicholas Sparks's unique memoir, written with his brother, chronicles the life affirming journey of two brothers bound by memories, both humorous and tragic. ... Read more

    Reviews (48)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Summer Reading
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Spark's family and about the journey around the world and through childhood of these two brothers. I was deeply touched to be given such insight into the author's life and it made you realize that no matter how good someone's life looks on the outside, you never know really what is going on/has happened behind the smile/tears. This book is different from his others since it was inspired by his own life not someone else's (also enjoyed learning where he came up with the ideas for other characters in previous books)...truly an enjoyable book to read. I loved how he mixed past and present stories with his trip with his brother. Kept it very interesting.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Skip the Travelogue, Read the Memoir
    If anyone advised Nicholas Sparks to abandon couching his memoir within a travelogue, he should have paid attention. Sparks's thoughts about the wondrous places he visits -- Machu Picchu, Easter Island, Agra, among others -- are silly and shallow. Plus he and his nominal co-author brother proudly portray themselves as buffoons and philistines. You want to slap them both on the back of the head and tell them to at least be quiet if they can't behave.

    On the other hand, the bulk of the book, which details the series of tragedies that have overwhelmed the brothers' adult lives -- deaths of parents and a sibling, as well as the rearing of an autistic child -- is sad but compelling, and ultimately encouraging, because it is written from the heart.

    I also think another book -- perhaps it will take the form of a novel -- needs to be written about the Sparks' mother. Nicholas professes unblemished love and respect and devotion to the woman, who died tragically at 47, just weeks after his marriage. However, she was a complicated character whose parenting of her three children was often questionable at best. Perhaps additional time is needed for him to examine her -- and his own feelings about her -- more honestly.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Full Of Heart
    Thats exactly what this book has-Full Of Heart. The brothers go through so much together, life is a challenge, sometimes so unfair but the one thing-the clearest thing spoken is that they have the ultimate gift-Love. Full of heart! Also recommended: Other Memoirs-A Child Called It, Father Joe,Running With Scissors,Nightmares Echo

    5-0 out of 5 stars "Three Weeks" is a great read
    Like many others who have reviewed this book, I have read all of Nicholas Sparks' previous books. I completely enjoyed reading this book as well. I think some reviewers missed the point of the book, unfortunately. It is not a "travel" book and it is not a "spiritual" book. It is a memoir, an autobiography, of the author and his brother's life experiences. I was drawn into the story on many levels - the familial relationships, the growing up years in Fair Oaks, the heartbreaking traumas endured. I think it is wonderful that Cathy and Christine were in favor of this trip for the brothers. They truly are saints (it's nice to know that both Nick and Micah truly understand that!). It makes me sad to think that Micah and Nick are so far apart (physically), but the book is a beautiful reminder that love knows no bounds. And aren't they lucky to have each other. I don't think they come off as pretentious at all...they're all they've got, it doesn't get more real than that. I think it must be amazing for Nick to look back and realize where he was and where he is now (and that he thanks God for all the blessings). I think writing this book must have been very cathartic for him, at least I would hope it was. And that he can still rely on his faith to carry him through the difficult times...we all have them, even if we aren't best selling authors or successful businessmen. It's interesting that as I read the book, I kept reminding myself that this wasn't one of his novels...this stuff really happened. And though some of the antics that he and his brother did on the three week trip were borderline-out-of-control, it was funny. I could see me and my brother and sisters doing stuff like that! Micah seems to be a good reminder to relax, enjoy life and have fun. I hope that they both benefitted from traveling together and spending quality time together like that...and that there was some healing in the pains suffered after living through so many tragedies...especially for Nick. Micah seems to deal with life and it's ups and downs well enough...I mean, if not going to church and questioning his faith are the worst things that he has endured, then good for him. I think writing the book for Nicholas probably has helped him move forward, which sounds like he is doing. God bless him, his brother and their families. Now I think I need to make a run downtown to get some Zelda's and beer myself! :)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written!
    This is a different kind of book but wonderful! Any Sparks fan will love this! You will laugh and cry. Have some tissues nearby and enjoy! Fan for life! ... Read more


    19. The Ice Queen : A Novel
    by Alice Hoffman
    list price: $23.95
    our price: $16.29
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 0316058599
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-04)
    Publisher: Little, Brown
    Sales Rank: 711
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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    Amazon.com

    A solitary New Jersey librarian whose favorite book is a guide to suicide methods is struck by lightning in Alice Hoffman's superb novel, The Ice Queen. Orphaned at the age of eight after angrily wishing she would never see her mother again, our heroine found herself frozen emotionally: "I was the child who stomped her feet and made a single wish and in so doing ended the whole world‹my world, at any rate."Her brother Ned solved the pain of their mother's death by becoming a meteorologist: applying reason and logic to bad weather. Eventually, he invites our heroine to move down to Florida, where he teaches at a university.Here, while trying to swat a fly, she is struck by lightning (the resulting neurological damage includes an inability to see the color red).Orlon County turns out to receive two thirds of all the lightning strikes in Florida each year, and our heroine soon becomes drawn into the mysteries of lightning: the withering of trees and landscape near a strike, the medical traumas and odd new abilities of victims, the myths of renewal.Although a recluse, she becomes fascinated by a legendary local farmer nicknamed Lazarus Jones, said to have beaten death after a lightning strike: to have seen the other side and come back.The burning match to her cool reserve--her personal unguided tour through Hades--Lazarus will prove to be the talisman that restores her to girlhood innocence and possibility.

    Hoffman's story advances with a feline economy of language and movement--not a word spared for the color of the sky, unless the color of the sky factors into the narrative.Among the authors who have played with the fairy tale's harsh mercies (e.g. Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter), Hoffman has the closest understanding of the primal fears that drive the genre, and why, perhaps, we never outgrow fairy stories, but only learn to substitute dull, wholesome qualities like personal initiative or good timing for the elements that raise the hairs on our neck and send us scrambling for the light switch. --Regina Marler ... Read more

    Reviews (15)

    3-0 out of 5 stars not memorable
    I just read this book...and read it in a few hours, its not long.And it's easy to read.I liked it ok.But I just didn't find it at all memorable..or affecting really.I liked certain parts a lot.But overall it was just kind of blah.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Ice Queen, women
    ALice Hoffman, gets your interest in the first sentence,"Becareful what you wish for," This novel holds your interest but overall I found it be slightly not rememerable, the ending with your brother was perfect,but I would not recommend this book for people who have never felt true pain, or they will not understand, what was trying to be portayed thoughout the novel.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Once upon a time...
    "Be careful what you wish for," says the protagonist in the opening lines of Alice Hoffman's brilliant new novel THE ICE QUEEN."I know that for a fact.Wishes are brutal, unforgiving things."And it's true:In the life of the narrator of Hoffman's tale, wishes have brought nothing but pain.When she is eight years old, she wishes that she would never see her mother again--and later that evening, her mother dies in a car accident on the icy road.Thirty years later, she has grown into a woman who has shut the rest of the world out, a recluse who hides behind her job as a reference librarian.After moving to Florida at her brother's insistence, she wishes to be struck by lightning--and days later, a bolt of lightning shoots through her window and strikes her while she is swatting flies.

    After being struck by lighting, her heart becomes arrhythmic.She can sense a storm in the air, can feel electromagnetic currents riding on the wind.She becomes colorblind, losing the ability to see red; in her eyes, fire is ice and the sunrise is frost.She has become the Ice Queen, brittle, gray, and endlessly cold.Her fascination with death, prevalent since her mother's accident, becomes even more pronounced; she at once fears and is captivated by the "ever after."This fascination leads her to "Lazarus" Jones, a local legend who was struck by lighting and was dead for 40 minutes.When she meets him, she finds her complete opposite:His breath ignites paper, his touch scorches.When the two come together, fire meets ice, and they make love only in water in order to balance out the heat and chill of their bodies.

    At the center of Hoffman's narrative is a librarian who has hidden in fairy tales and books about suicide for thirty years, whose heart finally "melts"--literally.Hoffman's prose is the sparest I've ever read, but beautifully rendered and enchanting beyond belief.Her characters are imperfect, incredibly human and endearing.Your heart will break for each one of them!

    What I love about Alice Hoffman is her ability to intertwine fantasy with reality, a fairy tale with a story about the true, hard world.When you read a book by Alice Hoffman, what you know to be reality gets suspended for awhile, and she takes you with her on a magical ride filled with unique stories and incomparable prose.THE ICE QUEEN is no exception; a modern fairy tale without the "happily ever after," her latest novel is enchanting and pure, a story of passion, awakening, loss, and renewal that is expertly crafted and obsessively readable.It's a stellar eighteenth offering; read it "here and now."

    5-0 out of 5 stars excellent!
    This novel captures your attention from the first sentence, and it keeps it until the last line.It is a story of death, longing,and dark wishes that come true.Fairy tales are mentioned often, and the whole book seems like a Grimm's fairy tale, as I am sure the author intended.It is hard to describe, but rest assured that it is definitely worth reading.

    3-0 out of 5 stars Not so memorable...
    I don't know why but I became increasingly bored towards the end of this book...I almost didn't finish it...but I really hate to not finish books. I guess I need to be hit by lightening in order to relate to these characters. :-) The most intriguing thing about the story was that she was a librarian who snooped around in confidential records...not something a proper librarian would do. I liked her cat Giselle. ... Read more


    20. Last Night
    by JAMES SALTER
    list price: $20.00
    our price: $13.60
    (price subject to change: see help)
    Asin: 1400043123
    Catlog: Book (2005-04-19)
    Publisher: Knopf
    Sales Rank: 465
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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    Reviews (1)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A reader's writer
    Perhaps somewhere out there in America there are people who live like characters in James Salter novels, but I sincerely hope not. These are unpleasant, haunted and pathological people, and it is Salter's genius that you not only want to spend time with these sociopaths, but want to take them home, hand them a few drinks and listen to them talk. Salter's gift is as adamantine as ever in "Last Night," but unlike in his earlier classics like "Sport and a Pastime" and "Light Years," the erotic edge has been dulled by age and regret. None of the stories has an obvious beginning, end or `dramatic arc,' and the collection is much more interesting for that.Highly recommended for anyone who has stopped believing in happy endings.
    ... Read more


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