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The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel
Rachel Joyce
Sex, Drugs, and Sea Slime: The Oceans' Oddest Creatures and Why They Matter
Ellen J. Prager
Rape Girl - Alina Klein This is a super short book but I have to say I was pretty pleased with it. My library didn't have it--of course--and I requested it through the inter-library loan system but they purchased a copy using something called the ZIP program. I'm not sure I understand what it does entirely, but I do know that if you request a book through ILL, if there is a copy online available for $10 or less they will purchase it using ZIP funds. I don't know what happens to the books after I turn them in since so far none of them have actually made their way into my library's catalog...which is annoying. Anyway I think I am going to have A TALK with the librarians when I turn in this book about maybe keeping this book or putting it on their list of books to get or buying it for them myself if they promise to shelve it. Of course this a library that THROWS AWAY thousands of perfectly good books every week, so... (It's a great place to dumpster dive--I have gotten the most awesome books & collage materials--but it's really an atrocity and I wish they wouldn't.)

So, oh yeah, this book. It dealt with a problem that is both super prevalent and unfortuantely misunderstood in an accessible and engaging way. It's true to life and examines many things that go along with rape--the triggers, the guilt, the victim-blaming, the "oh but what about the poor rapist's future" garbage, the way schools/institutions will protect the rapists over the victims, and just all around rape culture. I spend a lot of time both following rape cases in the news and critiquing rape culture with other feminists online; also talking to people in the flesh about violence against women and other oppressed groups, both physical and systemic. Although I would have liked to see some changes/additions, I have to say that overall I really approve of the way Klein handled the issue. I would love to see my library carry this book. I live in a drinking town and I often hear slut-shaming and have myself been harrassed on the street many times and assaulted on dancefloors. I know I am not the only one and have in fact gotten off "easy." I've had to call the police a few times when I've seen incidents of stalking, threats, and violence. For a while there we had a guy (a physician!) picking girls off the street, drugging them and raping them in his car. Anyway...my point is... rape culture is extremely prevalent and this book does a good job at showing how wrong it is. I think it would be really beneficial to have it in the library. I think it would be educational for the general public, and supportive & healing for victims/survivors.

And for those who haven't yet read this piece:
The Plague of Doves - Louise Erdrich This book took me forever(!!!) to read. Not because it was dense or difficult or uninteresting... but because I started reading it on the day I got the keys to our new place. And then we had to move 1600+sqft of stuff and clean 1600+sqft of space in five days and then we were out of town for a while and then we came back to boxes upon boxes and had to go back to work... So, you see, really not the book's fault.

The writing is beautiful. I really dig the interlocking stories--being from a small town myself (though not as small as Pluto), I can really appreciate how everyone is interrelated, both by blood and other ties. A good word to describe this book is "rich"--it feels heavy with depth and the characters are all really believeable. It's definietly worth a reread. The whole time I was reading it and after I was finished I found myself musing about the characters and their lives. I really savored it :)

Anyway this book was nominated for a Pulitzer and there are a lot of great in depth reviews of it already on Goodreads and around the internet (and those were never really my forte anyway), so I'm just going to say: Basically I love what she had to say and the way she says it.

Parable of the Talents

Parable of the Talents  - Octavia E. Butler This book is super good. It is brilliant and even more than I was expecting based on the first one. It's more complex than the first in the series, more to think about. And there was a lot for me to think about. It kept me up at night (unusual for a book), thinking about the scenarios in these books, how things have played out in the past, how things are playing out right now. As other reviewers have noted, scenarios like the ones posed in this book can't be easily dismissed, since they have happened throughout history--people are perfectly capable of them. And now with the revelation of programs like XKeyscore it becomes even more frightening. There was a part early in the book where Asha/Larkin says that if Lauren & Bankole had gone to Halsted, an established town, she thinks that they wouldn't have been targets. If Butler had written the surveillance and technological capability of today into this story, there would have been no hiding if those in power wanted to find her. It's a very disturbing thought.

Also in this book there's more to think about re: Lauren's personality and Earthseed, mainly due to challenges to her position (the first book was just her journal; this one also includes writings from three other people). And even just the title, I feel like there's a lot to unpack there. It's really interesting and there's a lot going on and I wish wish wish that a book club that I'm a part of would pick it up and read it so I could talk to someone about it :3 I don't even have any friends on Goodreads who have read it...which makes me sad. I have the zeal of the newly converted, I know, but WHY HAVE YOU GUYS NOT READ MORE OCTAVIA BUTLER????

Anyway I truly loved this book and its prequel. A-w-e-s-o-m-e. Now I'm off to look for essays about them...
Year of Wonders - Geraldine Brooks 3.5 stars. Pretty straightforward historical fiction about the plague hitting a small town in England. I think the ending tried to do too much and the epilogue was kinda weird. Besides that, the writing was pretty good and I really like the themes she touched on, hope and despair, God and loss of faith, the pervasive misogyny, the kindness and the cruelty. It felt very bleak, and so probably true to life. I didn't really feel Anna's growth and there were some minor annoyances but overall it was interesting.
Parable of the Sower  - Octavia E. Butler What an awesome book this is! My dad has been telling me for 10+ years how great Octavia Butler is but I did not heed his words. I was like, "yeah, whatever"--just because he is a doctor of English doesn't change the fact that he is my dad, you know? But this time the joke was on me.

Anyway, super good. Waiting for the hold I have on the sequel at the library to come in... Also I really enjoyed the "about the author."

The Collected Works of J. Krishnamurti 1936-1944: The Mirror of Relationship

The Collected Works Of J. Krishnamurti - Jiddu Krishnamurti Really good stuff, Krishnamurti is great, I've been reading him since I was in high school and he's probably had a pretty big impact on my thinking (and on other authors I read). I only give it four stars because this particular volume is super repetitive. It's, as the title suggests, "collected works," which mainly means speeches he gave that were then transcribed by his followers. As I say, really good stuff, but this was in like the 1930s-1940s, before the internet and video and things like that, so a lot of the speeches are really similar. The Q&As are pretty great though, you see some variation there. I read these like a Christian might read daily devotionals.
How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia - Mohsin Hamid Cleverly & originally written, fast moving, quick read. Don't really have too much else to say--it was well done, I enjoyed it, and I would read him again. I did think that by the time the "pretty girl" was 80+, it might have maybe finally been possible to not refer to her as a "girl," but whatevs.
We Need New Names - NoViolet Bulawayo 2 1/2 stars.
This book has gotten really great reviews and was just longlisted for the Booker. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would. It's the third book I've read in the last three months dealing with Africa and the immigration experience. It was definitely the one that appealed to me the least.

I think it's going to be difficult for me to pinpoint exactly why, but here are some thoughts:
- After reading it, I would say that it's a collection of related short stories; the cover says it is "a novel." It is very disjunct, which was probably intentional--one of the major themes is the disjunct, fractured quality of the lives of narrator Darling and her friends and family. It's a clever device and she wins points from me for it, but...I don't usually like short stories all that much. A short story that I love is an exception. So the fact that this is basically short stories doesn't do much for me.
- Child narrator. It can be really tough to make this work, and in this case it often didn't. The past two years, the highest rating a book with a child narrator got from me has been 2.5 or 3 stars. In this case, we get a narrator who vomits when sorting bottles because stale beer smells bad, but also thought giving an 11 year old who got raped by her grandfather an abortion with a rusty coat hanger would be a great fun game. Eh... The tone has been called "original" or "fresh," but it seemed familiar to me. I agree that it's "realistic" in that the events are plausible; it likely gives a creditable depiction of a Zimbabwean childhood (I can't say for sure since I didn't grow up there). But it didn't really resonate with me; it didn't seem like I was seeing anything through the eyes of a child, and none of the characters were developed very well, which makes caring about them difficult.
- Hostility toward those with mental illnesses...
- I didn't feel much when reading this book besides annoyance and occasionally boredom. I just didn't find the writing all that effective.

I actually feel kind of guilty for not liking it because I was really expecting to and was hoping it would be as great as promised...
The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith Sneaky JK Rowling decided to write under a pseudonym, and although I understand her reasons for that and I'm cross with those her outed her for her sake...I am happy for mine. JK Rowling has written eight of my favorite books, so of course new books by her can cut to the front the queue, much like Lula Landry at Uzi.

I always thought Harry Potter was basically a fantastical mystery. Of course I never really figured out the reveals before they happened--partly because I was so young, partly because after the third book, I read them all in single sitting, which doesn't leave too much time to think things over. Also I'm a reader who is usually perfectly content to just go where the author wants to; I don't often try to figure out where things are going. This time, though, wanting the full mystery experience, I did give myself time to think it over and try to crack it and I'm happy to say that one of my guesses turned out to be right.

This was a lot of fun to read and the writing was great. Great!! I loved the characters and the way it unfolded. Really well done. I hear the sequel has been finished and will be published next year. A book a year from JKR doesn't sound bad at all... ;)
The Vanishing Act: A Novel - Mette Jakobsen Meh.

I was going to leave things there since it so adequately conveys my feelings toward this book. But here are some quick thoughts:
I think this book would have worked better as a short story. There is no real character development and there are tons of passages that just don't contribute to anything--they don't advance the plot, they aren't necessary to tell us about a character, they don't explain anything, they are not beautifully written (in my opinion; there are people who disagree). It was just tedious and I didn't feel it was very deep. I was baffled by the comparisons to The Night Circus & The Snow Child, both of which I really liked. This seemed more like those fairy tales with the cardboard characters and the superfluous asides and happenings. I think it would have fared better had it been shorter like a fairy tale. Or had more character development going on, or something else to give it a little more oomph.
Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited - Elyse Schein, Paula Bernstein 3 1/2 stars. Generally I liked this book. The title pretty much sums up what it's about: identical twins were separated at birth (or actually 5-6 months after birth) and found out about each other for the first time at 35. Although there is some discussion of nature vs nuture, what is and isn't genetically determined, and the impacts of environment and early trauma, it is really more about the two authors--how they found out about each other, how they reacted to the information, how their relationship developed, their own reflections surrounding their past and present situation. I guess I wish it had been more nonfiction-like. Their story is interesting but I would have been more interested to learn about separated twins and nature vs nurture in general. But it's a pretty minor gripe--the writing is engaging and fun to read and they do pose really intriguing questions about genetics and personality.

Overall, if this sounds like an interesting story or if you're interested in identical twins or twin studies, I would definitely recommend it.

There were some things I found problematic, which I am now going to talk about.

Fat phobia. In addition to hearing the twins compare their weight repeatedly (with "lighter" being deemed automatically "better") there are quite a few other instances as well. Here's one sentence that just made me cringe: "It will be easier for me to tell my family about my birth mother's mental illness, which is somehow less shameful than obesity to me" (p.179). Lady...neither obesity nor mental illness is something to be ashamed of... It rankles more because the mental illness is what ended up killing their mother (or at least contributing to her death). So it's worse to be considered unattractive than it is to basically be so chemically unbalanced and unhappy that you die as a result. What a world, eh?

Also they are continually trying to cast the doctor(s) who separated them and studied them as just super bad and ridiculously just BAD. There's one part where they quote someone saying that Dr. Bernard wasn't evil but came close. At another point they compare the twin study they were sort-of-but-not-really a part of with Josef Mengele's twin "studies." And they don't really have anything to go on besides "we're TWINS!! TWIIIINSSSS." Like that is magic or something. They never really convinced me that Dr. Bernard was doing something inherently wrong or unethical. Basically her premise was that raising twins places an extra burden on parents over raising a singleton, and being raised with a twin places certain unique burdens on the child. Disclosure: Peter is a (fraternal) twin. After talking to his mother about her experience raising them, it seems that, wow, guess what, it IS harder to raise two babies than one! Gosh darn. And talking to Peter about it, it seems that IS harder to differentiate an individual personality when you are constantly considered as part of a unit and compared to your twin. There are twins in this very book that confirm that. (Both Peter and the twins in the book also say that there are unique benefits from being a twin as well, just to be clear.) So it seems that Dr. Bernard's premise is not all that far-fetched, and if she is actually working from that assumption then what she did is completely different than what Mengele did. I mean SRSLY LADIES?? I get it that you are upset about being separated (or are you? you can't really seem to decide) but those comparisons and the whole "Dr. Bernard, Dr. Neubauer, so mean and wrong and dumb and wrong and MEAN!!!" just didn't resonate with me. It seemed over the top. You could definitely make the argument that it was harmful or unethical, or that at least would have been better if you had been kept together. But the thing is, they didn't present any evidence at all that it was harmful in general or had harmed them. In fact they both express contentment and relief (or something like it) at having been raised apart. So... um... yeah. All that "OMG EVIL DOCTORS SEPARATING TWINS" seemed somewhat out of place.

Also: "Dr. Bernard asserted [...] that there was no definitive scientific information about the heritability of schizophrenia. But articles in her file prove otherwise. One 1953 study among her papers found a significantly higher incidence of schizophrenia among the relatives of schizophrenics than in the general population" (p. 197). Er...One study? How big was the sample size? How were they selected? What other factors could contribute to the onset of schizophrenia? If the researchers were operating under the assumption that environment trumps genetics, noting that schizophrenia run in families doesn't necessarily discount environmental considerations. Maybe these families all share similar child rearing techniques that trigger schizophrenia. "One 1953 study" is hardly definitive scientific information--it could have been a study of three families that relied on self-reporting--the book doesn't say. So it hardly "proves" that she was perjuring herself or lying to further her evil baby-snatching-and-separating cause.

Anyway... I really did (mostly) enjoy it! ;)
Life of Pi - Yann Martel 2 1/2 stars. This was a book that I read aloud to Peter. Usually I don't think that affects my rating of a book, whether or not it's read aloud, but I really felt that in this book's case I would have given it a higher rating had I been reading it in my head to myself. I probably would've rated this book a full star more, but...

I thought this book had a very strong start. Both Peter & I really liked the beginning, pretty much up until the Tsimtsum came into the picture. Having to read the dialog out was difficult, it was unwieldy and clunky and implausible, a lot of it kind of made me cringe inside.

And all the violent parts... reading them out loud was a completely different experience for me than reading them in my head. I read violent things in my head without being particularly disturbed all the time, but having the words come out of my mouth to describe it makes it much more immediate. Peter had the same experience--he was reading it out loud to me at one point and although the violence didn't seem so bad for me hearing it, he had to stop and let it be known that he thought it was gratuitous and pointless before he kept reading. I think this factor, along with the dialog, combined to create a lowered rating.

Peter really liked the ocean/fishing scenes, I liked the zoo and animal psychology aspects. I also really like reading the reviews about it. They are pretty stimulating and I find myself agreeing just as much with many 5 stars reviewers as I do with the 1 & 2 star reviewers.

PS When Thecat is in a particularly bad mood we now call her "Richard Parker" or "Thecat Parker." (We still call her Andy-Candy, a la Rosemary's Baby, when she is just laying there all sweet-like.)
When the Emperor Was Divine - Julie Otsuka Meh. This book was so-so. I picked it up on the library on impulse (even though I already have mountains of books waiting for me--it's a sickness) because I saw that this book was about the "Japanese internment camps." I had just read [b:The Garden of Evening Mists|12031532|The Garden of Evening Mists |Tan Twan Eng|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1333033941s/12031532.jpg|16997854] and had just learned about the camps built by the Japanese for the Chinese in Malaysia. That's what I mistakenly thought this book was about and I was excited to learn more. I soon realized my mistake but I thought I'd give it a go anyway.

It didn't really do it for me. The writing wasn't very skillful. It didn't feel like there was any character development at all. Actions, conversations, and passages are included that just seem out of place and don't do anything for the story. Conversations between the sister & brother, the conversation the girl had on the train with "Ted" where she told him her dad doesn't write to her even though he does..., things the mom did...it all left me scratching my head like, "Why did you even include that?"

I thought it was interesting that none of the main characters are named--indeed, it seems that only white people and the random Ted have names in this book. I thought it was an interesting device. I felt the strongest parts were the ones that talked about former internees' experiences after release and the final chapter. But overall, it really left me wanting and it wasn't a very satisfying or enjoyable read.

One good thing about it is that it is a really really quick read...so if you're really interested in the internment of citizens of japanese ancestry you might gain something from it.
The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America - Erik Larson I guessed when I read the introduction of this book that I might not like certain aspects of this telling. Oh how right I was!

This book is a quick read--granted, I'm not finished yet (only about 1/4), but I didn't spend much time reading it either. The writing is smooth and it held my interest. It is really readable. It did try too hard at times, for example with the constant foreshadowing, and the veracity/objectivity quotient could have been more, well, present. But the problem is not with the writing, per se.

I suppose it comes down to my objections about sensationalizing violence against women. Larson is constantly uses foreshadow to try and pique your interest. I found it unsettling that Larson kept trying to titillate me about grisly murders of young women. Larson goes out of his way to tell you how beautiful and voluptuous and they all are, how "rapturous" their bodies. I'm assuming he means rapturous for the straight, Western, current mainstream male gaze, because we really don't know anything about these women and how they relate to their own bodies. And they're so "young," too--a word that can be applied as reasonably to a person of 5 years old as of 35. And really, what does it matter their age or what they looked like? How does it even make a difference? What is he trying to say? That their beauty, large bosoms, or age were the "cause" or "reason" for their deaths? After all, Larson starts this book out with an epigraph from the murderer attesting that he was born to kill, he just couldn't help it--even though his deliberations, planning, and actions in daily life point to the contrary. Or is Larson's meaning less victim-blaming and more of a slasher flick gore porn tactic: "See this nubile and attractive woman...now see her being tortured, hacked to pieces, and incinerated!!"? Is it that Larson only expects you to care about a victim that is conventionally attractive? Either way, I don't appreciate it.

I absolutely understand that these murders happened and that they are horrific. That's why I find it distasteful to put so much focus on Holmes and what he did and what he thought and how people interacted with him and what his childhood was like; and conversely, when the focus on the victims, to talk only about their appearance. Each of those victims had childhoods and plans and people they interacted with too. I can tolerate reading about a large amount of physical violence without finding it distasteful; many books that I find profound, moving, and important have very violent parts. Sometimes the violence is part of what makes a book important, as in books about wars and genocide. But in what I read of the book, the victims are portrayed as completely one dimensional, characterized solely as young and beautiful: that is also a violent act, albeit more subtle.

There were other instances of the same sort of weird, subtle hostility towards women. For instance, this statement, thrown in when relating a dinner party meeting for the fair's architects: "There was not a woman in sight." In context this is a complete non sequitur. It is a meeting of architects designing the fair; this is the 1890s: there are no women architects. Why would a woman be there? Indeed the only time Larson mentioned women in this story line prior to this was once to say Burnham and Root got married, and second to say "By 1886, he and Margaret were the parents of five children." It's not like Burnham's story line is teeming with females. Why draw attention to it now? Just to point out the fact that women do not participate in anything important, to remind us that they only exist to be slaughtered? Is that why? Is there some other reason? I am honestly curious and it is driving me crazy wondering what compelled him to insert that sentence in that place. [Update: I am happy to report that I was wrong about there being no female architects: there was ONE, who arrived on the scene much later, but I am unhappy to report that she was not given much importance in the book, and her little piece ends by being carted off to an insane asylum...so...]

There is a part in the book where Larson talks about all the disappearances in Chicago. He says, "The women were presumed to have been ravished." Ravished, yes--that's a nice euphemism for "raped & murdered," isn't it? Ravish, a word my dictionary defines with "(often be ravished) fill (someone) with intense delight; enrapture." That the word refers to both rape and delight is not a mistake. And that Larson used this word is not a mistake either. And that is why I put down the book and wrote this review.

After having written this and let it sit for a few hours, I think one of the reasons I'm so fed up is that it's the second book nonfiction book I've read in two days that trivializes rape and violence against women. Yesterday's was memoir-ish, but this one...should have been more objective. He did so much ~research~ and blah blah blah. Many reviewers make the point that the stories of the two main men are not connected at all. So why choose Holmes? Why not, as one reviewer suggested, choose to tell the story a brothel madam's life, or a Zulu person who was at the fair? Or one of the new young working women, or one of the guys working at the Union Stock Yard, or a grip-car operator? You could easily tell the story of Gilded Age Chicago through them. But that, of course, would not be nearly so ~!~OMG~!~ riveting or sensational. So he makes the choice to use women's brutalized bodies to make his book a bestseller.

So those are some thoughts I have had part way through. I'm going to keep reading but I predict that I'm going to leave this book at 1 star because trivializing violence against women really bothers me. The rest of the book is actually quite enjoyable but this is a dealbreaker for me when it comes to rating a book.
Not Even My Name: A True Story - Thea Halo I read this book because it had been sitting on my to-read list for years and I'm really trying to downsize it so that I can make actual use of it. I kind of wish I had "downsized" this book.

By all outward measures I should have liked it. It's history and memoir. It deals with the little-known genocide & exiles conducted against Christian (in this case Pontic Greek but also Assyrian) minorities in Turkey. A review from the Washington Post Book World says, "It is impossible to read the story of this woman's life without marveling at the strength of her spirit." It gets starred reviews from Booklist and Publishers Weekly. And really high reviews here on Goodreads. But I still found it lacking.

Even people who love the book note that the writing is not anything special. The book is written in Thea Halo's first person as well as by Thea talking in first person pretending she is her mother, Sano. So that part is kind of awkward and the writing is almost completely lackluster. I'm willing to overlook that in a lot of cases, especially cases similar to this one where the power of the story outweighs lack of skillful writing. So where the book fell flat for me, I guess, can be summed up by two words: rape apologism. Sano is married off at age 15 (or maybe 14; in either case she won't start menstruating for another 2 years) to a 45 year old stranger who promptly rapes her. And physically abuses her on numerous occasions that she mentions in the book. He also verbally abuses her on several occasions that she mentions. He hits and whips their children. She relates a time that he won't "let" her go to the movies with her (female) friend. He abandons her, 40 & pregnant, for months, after giving her the cold shoulder, because he mistakenly thought she had sex with a doctor who examined her. And he didn't tell her about it until 20 years later. Yet all sorts of excuses are made for his behavior. "Oh he felt his growing children slipping away." "I just didn't know how embarrassed he was by my affection." "Oh but he made this garden with his bare hands." "He was so smart, he was better at chemistry than his chemistry teacher." It's gross. And of course I realize that this is the reality that a lot of women had/have. Covering for abusers is par for the course. But this is not treated at all in the book. The words abuse and rape aren't mentioned at all (well, there is a passing mention of Turks raping Greeks, but I guess if a total stranger buys you from the family you live with and forces himself on you it's A-OK as far as Thea Halo is concerned!). Instead, Thea says, "Don't you realize Dad loved you?? Don't you?? HE LOVED YOU, MOM. WELL?" Lady, your mom just confided in you you about how she was raped and abused by this guy and your response is to try and force her into saying that he loved her? Gross.

So Sano's spirit may be strong, but this story is not triumphant or redemptive. Even the "happy ending" is really fucking depressing. It is about one perseverant, displaced, downtrodden woman who went through a whole lot of nasty and really really loves her kids. She seems pretty rad. I'm sorry it was Thea who told her story.

5 stars for Sano, 1 or 2 stars for Thea's writing but 0 for her misogyny, 4 stars for the book's first 200 pages, and maybe 1 or 2 stars for the last 125.
Americanah - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie OMG! I loved this book. I have never read anything by Adichie before but I definitely, definitely will be. My library actually has all of her books, which raises my opinion of them.

I really enjoyed the writing style. It was just a pleasure to read. Even though I hardly ever mark anything in the novels I read, I marked over 100 notes in this book. Just because I liked the phrasing she used to describe a character or how she wrote about heat or feelings or just anything. It was just really well done. I fluctuated between devouring it when I should've been doing other things instead, and deliberately withholding it from myself so that it would last longer. I read it while I was brushing my teeth, I read it while I was cooking, I read it when my mom was trying to talk to me. I stayed up until 4:30am finishing it, fervently hoping that my boyfriend sleeping on the couch wouldn't wake up and ask to go to bed (he woke up seconds after I finished it, actually, when I was rereading the last couple paragraphs). One night I was trying to read it in the car, but the flashlight wasn't working. I got kind of cranky and he said darkly, "It must be a really good book..." And I snapped, "Is that a problem or something?" And he said, "Kind of, because if you really want to read it then anything that gets in the way of that makes you angry."

So other reviews will tell you about how much ground it covers, from relationships to immigration to race to hair to family to desperation to blogs and back again, but all I can really do at the moment is blubber about how much I liked it. And put holds on her other books. My expectations for this book were high and it exceeded them. In my estimation it's a masterpiece.