For the sky on this one I used a crystal glaze. There’s only one crystal; I’m not sure why it didn’t turn out better. When they say you need 3-4 coats, they aren’t lying. In retrospect, I would have liked to make the distant island emerald green. This card symbolizes safe passage through a difficult …
Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
Who would have thought that a story about gossip and kindergarten mothers could be so dark and suspenseful? What really cinches this book as a standout example of its genre are the solidly constructed characters and the successful interview-style framing. The sideline interviews with different characters not only heighten the suspense, but they also provide unreliable narrators so that you don’t know what’s really happening. Or, you do, but you can also see why gossip is causing a rift. There are two main mysteries: who dies at trivia night, and who is really bullying Amabella?
I loved the main characters. Jane, Madeline and Celeste are all people I would like to know in real life. The perfect name choices tickled me. Jane is plain, buttoned up and lives a simple life. Madeline is over-the-top in her attitudes and very feminine in her tastes. Celeste is heavenly beautiful but also kind of spacey. Bonnie is “good.” Most of the men are kind of secondary characters, less involved and less pivotal to the home lives, but they’re still people.
The book uses the teacher and the across-the-street neighbor’s point of view to directly mock modern parents who are a bit too wrapped up in their children’s lives. It indirectly mocks them through the overwhelming obsession these people seem to have with their children’s school lives. There’s a working-mother vs. stay-at-home mother tension, but it’s handled fairly well.
After I finished this book, I found myself going back over certain scenes to re-read them, just to enjoy them a second time. The twists kept me guessing until the very end, and I felt very satisfied with the resolution. I highly recommend this book as a very entertaining novel.
If I had to describe this book to someone familiar with the Temeraire series, I’d describe it as “A lot more of the stuff you like.” Usually these books are just fun fun fun from beginning to end, but this is the first one that started to feel like it was going on too long. A lot of things happen: there’s a duel, a missing egg, political upheaval between humans and dragons, and lots and lots of battle scenes. What was missing was an overarching plot (beyond Napoleon) to draw it together. There is a plot (the dragon concord) but it’s not introduced until much later.
There are so many of these books that I searched for a while to try to figure out which one was the next in the series. Alas, I started to listen to this without having realized I’d skipped one until nearly halfway through (when they re-met a character from the book I was unfamiliar with). Most of the novels in this series have a period of time elapse between the previous book and the start of the next one, so I wasn’t thrown off by that. But the book was so long that events that happened in the beginning, when they were referenced again, felt as though they’d happened in previous books.
The good news is, a lot of stuff happens and this is a long book so if you really love the dragon stuff, you’re going to get your money’s worth buying this. The bad news is, a lot of stuff happens so it’s hard to keep it all straight and by the end you might feel like you’ve had enough of the dragon stuff. So for that reason, it’s a great end to the series. I enjoyed it, and it was fun, but I could see the first glimmerings of a series that was starting to get old, so I’m glad it ends here.
This is not the first book by Brene Brown I’ve listened to, but I think the other ones were more like recordings of her talks, as this was the first one done by a different narrator. Though the narrator did an adequate job, I prefer Brown’s own voice and inflection. I’m not sure of the timing, but it feels like an earlier work, less focused and more inclusive.
What I like about Brown’s work is that it deals with a critical subject (shame) but uses solid data to back it up. This is especially impressive considering how non-concrete the social sciences can be. She has quotes and anecdotes from interviews with hundreds of women.
There were a few misses for me. One was that this material is almost the same material that’s in the other books by Brene Brown I’ve listened to, except that the focus felt more dissipated. The material is so relevant and personal that it begs for a self-help format. How can we create shame resilience? She asks that question rhetorically again and again, but I feel that it was answered much better in her other works.
This book feels like a greatest hits album that has most of the songs of two other popular albums, but with some stuff you don’t like and without that amazing song you listened to endlessly on repeat that one time. It isn’t inclusive enough to replace her other work, and it’s so long and meandering that it’s not better, and it seems like it’s missing the crucial information about vulnerability that she covered in her TED talk and other works. I liked it because I like her work, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been and it’s not a must-read.
I love stories of maritime disaster. I love tense, sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat action stories. And this audiobook was only four-and-a-half hours long! Surely this would be a great listen? And this book did provide some action so tense that I literally gasped out loud when I was listening to it. But I almost didn’t finish listening to it. This book is like the best deli meat you’ve ever had, sandwiched between stale knock-off wonderbread with spots of mold on it.
It starts out giving descriptions of the men of the coastguard who were involved in this daring rescue. It felt like a giant heap of backstory, when I had no reason to care about any of these men. I remembered bits and tidbits of the story, but they all kind of jumbled together. There were just too many of them, and I didn’t know which ones would be important. Also, they all had fairly similar backgrounds; working class white men of the mid-20th century who loved the sea. There were differences between them (this guy came from one city, this came from another, this one married his high school sweetheart, that one had his father die) but honestly they all kind of ran together. I had no reason to care about any of them.
After the first hour of just backstory, I considered just deleting the book unread. I might have, since I’m learning as I get older that life is too short for boring books, but I only had three and a half hours left and deleting it bothered my sense of completion. So I gave it another chance. About forty minutes later it started to get good.
The middle was breathtaking. The actual description of the rescue attempts made me cringe and cheer and wince and shriek in alarm. I was absolutely enrapt in the action, though because there were multiple ships and multiple rescue boats involved I got a bit confused as to what was happening. Too many characters, too many vessels. And then after the rescue, the book once again slowed down to a crawl as the author discussed the aftermath of characters I couldn’t keep straight.
If this were a novel I’d say that the author should pick one or two main characters and follow their arc. If it were a novel, I’d suggest making it about one rescue of one ship, not several rescues of two ships which had each broken in twain. I would certainly advise against the first third of the book being an infodump about people we did not yet have any reason to care about. And if it were a novel, the story would wind down much, much faster after the rescue, not have another 25% of denouement. It’s not a novel, it was a non-fiction about a real event, so I’m not sure how to improve it as the author was constrained by the material.
I hesitate to recommend this book. The middle part was five stars. The beginning and end were one stars. If you have a paper version, skip the beginning and the end and just read about the rescue. You won’t be able to keep all the characters straight anyway.
True crime isn’t my favorite genre, so I’m not sure why I got this from audible. Maybe it was the nice cover photo. I’m glad I did. It’s a gritty and fascinating story about three anti-government gun nut types who stole a water truck and ended up killing a cop that incited a massive manhunt for them in the four corners region.
I really enjoyed both the depth of the research and the skill of the writing. Schultz deeply investigated this murder and revealed it in a way that maximized the mystery behind it. If he had begun a few years earlier, he might have been able to discover more than the police eventually did. He walks a careful line, telling you all the evidence in such a way that you will come to your own conclusion as to the real story, without actually telling you things that haven’t been established as true, except at the end when he says “here’s a story.”
(view spoiler)[ To me, the most fascinating part was when Bobby’s body was found. Here we have these guys who will shoot government officials on sight, including and especially cops, and what do the cops do but prove their point for them. Or maybe it wasn’t cops. Maybe there were other militia guys out there who did it. (hide spoiler)]
The main thing that keeps this from being in my “best book of the year” category (I only give five stars if the book is absolutely stellar) is that I was disappointed at how many mysteries remained when all was said and done. There was a fourth guy who had been interviewed and knew a lot about the plot, (which might have been to blow up the Glen canyon dam), and he was dead by the time the book was published. But did anyone have copies of those interviews? What was the guy’s name? Who was he? Do we know anything about him?
Schultz whispers at a deeper conspiracy, but then he backs off. I can’t say I blame the author; I personally would not want to dig too deeply into the secrets of gun nuts who almost certainly were willing to kill even their own friends to keep the secrets hidden. I just found it disappointing as a reader.
Since I’m from Arizona and have been to the four corners region on several occasions, I found the wild-west romanticism of the region to kind of miss the mark. It’s not the the wild west days of Billy the Kid and Wyatt Earp weren’t fascinating, it’s that there’s so much about that area and the people who live there NOW that’s interesting. Going back a hundred and fifty years ago feels like a nod to people who don’t know anything about the west and find it foreign and exotic. I would rather have had some more recent examples of this cowboys and outlaws behavior to back up the supposition. Like, “twenty years ago, someone was caught stealing cattle and he disappeared” or “Federal Surveyors reported being shot at when they came out here back in the 60’s” rather than “That one famous thing that you (who know nothing about this area) know about defines the culture of this region.” I would rather have had more description of the actual people who live there now and recent events than relying on the shorthand of a Hollywood stereotype to fill in the gaps.
Since the militia movement so strongly influences the story, I would have liked to know more about those people. Why weren’t they interviewed? Why did we not learn more about the other people who trained with them? Is it because they wouldn’t talk to reporters, or because Schultz couldn’t find them? As fascinating as this book was, it leaves more questions than answers.
I think this would be a great book for a book club because Schultz seems sympathetic with neither side, and because it touches on a lot of debatable topics. Gun control. Environmentalism. The irony of anti-government, anti-law enforcement types who call themselves “patriots” and “militia.” And above all, the question of what really happened. Who really killed these guys? I’ll keep my eye out for the book that finally tells the rest of the story.
This is one of the most well-known tarot cards. Our local bookstore uses it as their logo. I made the sky pink for two reasons. One, because I thought it would look like dawn (it doesn’t) and two, because I was running out of shades of light blue and didn’t want them to all look …
To make the surface decoration on this cup, I trailed slip made out of the same clay body. It came in handy that I had drawn several flocks of birds in my comic, coopdegrace.com, because I could draw them again without a reference. This cup, alas, is unuseable, because it has a longitudinal crack inside. …
A little about the process of glazing these tiles. To do this series of twelve tiles took me about two weeks. Each glaze needs three (at least!) layers on it, and each tile has several colors. Some tiles have as few as seven (like this) and others have twelve colors or more. It’s actually easier …
The card ‘The Moon’ almost always has two towers, a wolf and a dog, and a creature that lives in both the water and on the land. The symbolism is about the transition areas, about the gray areas. It is the interstitial tarot card. While the glazing came out better on this tile than on …