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Reviews Written by
Alysson Oliveira "A. T. A. Oliveira" (Sao Paulo-- Brazil)

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A Bend in the Road
A Bend in the Road
by Nicholas Sparks
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
34 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Exactly what I was expecting, Nov. 3 2002
I felt like reading a romantic novel, something with a nice love story, less cynical, nevertheless interesting and real, and maybe a happy end. So, I thought, Nicholas Sparks' novels give all these things. Then I decided to try A Bend in the Road. And it didn't let me down. Plus, it is not stupid.
This novel is about losing the one you love and the problems of a starting again. Miles Ryan has never came to terms with the tragic lost of his wife killed in a hit-and-run accident two years ago. He devoted his time to take care of his little son, and to find the person who was driving the car that killed her. His life was nothing but this until the day he meets Sahah Andrews, his son's teacher and they fall for each other. Things are fine until the day something crops up, and put their love in jeopardy.
Most of the novel is about how much we can forgive in order to move on. Sometimes, life plays tricks on us and we are supposed to deal with situations we never expected to. This novel shows exactly it. Both Miles and Sarah are supposed to give up things they belive in order to move on. The point Sparks brings up is: can we sacrifice our beliefs for love? Well, you must read the novel to discover why Sarah and Miles have to make sacrifices and if they can make them.
To sum up, I had a great time reading this book. As I said this was the love story I wanted to read. A Bend in the Road was my second Sparks book, but, surely, not the last.

Little Women
Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from CDN$ 6.52

5.0 out of 5 stars Little Women with huge hearts and beautiful minds, Nov. 3 2002
This review is from: Little Women (Hardcover)
I can't imagine someone disliking this novel. That is impossible. This book has things for all tastes: romance, friendship, betrayal etc. I have read this book 3 or 4 times and everytime I can find something different, or, even, be surprised. I think it is a wonderful thing how long Louisa May Alcott's masterpiece has been delighing readers everywhere.
As everyone knows this is the story of four sisters and their love for each other , but above all, for life. Jo is the most impetuous and she wants to be a writer; Meg wants to get married and be a housewife; Beth, the most sweet, loves helping people; and, Amy wants to be an important person somehow. Through many years of their lives we learn how they succed --or fail-- in their ambition.
Alcott's novel became a paradigma of the condition of American Women during the civil war. Each girl can be seen as a possibility of what women had for their future by that time. Maybe this is why this novel is so timeless. The writer didn't want to make a sociological analysis of that period, but her work is very helpful, once it is quite reliable as a portrait of that society.
This novel deserves to be read over and over again, and not only by little women.

by Patrick McGrath
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 17.35
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Trapped in a Spider web, Oct. 16 2002
This review is from: Spider (Paperback)
This is my third Patrick McGrath's novel and my favourite so far. I've read 'Asylum' and 'Dr. Haggard's Disease' . The first is a haunting and dark love story --quite different, and very touching--, the second is interesting, however I don't know what happened, but I couldn't click with the book. But 'Spider' became my favourite, and it is unforgettable to me.
It is a story of man, named Dennis 'Spider' Cleg, a man who lives in a kind of halfway house for the mentally ill in London. As he is both protagonist and narrator, we are never sure of what he is talking about. Maybe things happened the way he says, maybe he is alucinating. Who knows? He is a man with mental problems that is followed by the image of his father killing his mother and bringing a whore to substitute for her. And we learn all that happened from Spider's sick mind. Until the surprising end.
I highly recommend this novel to readers who like dark thrillers, with psycological undertones. The characters are very well developed. Spider is a human being as any other, we can easily understand what happened to this man that led him to be the way he is.

The Saving Graces: A Novel
The Saving Graces: A Novel
by Patricia Gaffney
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
46 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Not Only For Girls, Oct. 12 2002
I mus t confess I hate labels! Why should we say this is a women's novel? I can't come to terms with such a thing. Just because the protagonists are a group of 4 women doesn't mean the novel is only for women read. Men can read 'The Saving Graces' and have a lot of fun themselves. As I did.
It is a story about a group of four ladies --Emma, Isabel, Lee and Rudy-- who clains themselves The Saving Graces, a group that gets togheter twice a month to talk about their problems, the city's problems, world's issues or whatever subject pops up. Each chapter is narrated by one of them, and it concerns on the narrator's own problems, fears etc.
Of course, as many people say, this novel is quite predictable. We can say from page one what will happen in the end, but I don't see it as a problem. I got so interested in the reading, that I even turned a blind on the predictability. And I must confess, I had a lot of fun. I felt happy when something nice happened to them, and felt like crying when they had to face bad things. I can't say I recommend this novel to everyone. Many people will find it boring and tacky, but I didn't. I think this novel has accomplished its mission with me: entertain me for a couple of days.

by Kate Chopin
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: CDN$ 7.25
76 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars It couldn�t be more timeless, Sept. 29 2002
This review is from: Awakening (Mass Market Paperback)
Kate Chopin's "The Awakening" has led to many different response since 1989. Some think this is great and, even, inspirational, others point out that it is silly and meaningless. In my opinion, this is a masterpiece. To truly understand this book, we must look back to when it was first published. Not only was the novel a shock, but also very inspirational throught the years. Many women have done like the protagonist, Edna, and taken their chace to live a better and independent life.
The books tells the story of a repressed woman, who lives under the husband opression. She is bored and feels that she has to do something meaningfull with her life. Surrounded by snobish people, Edna feels alone, despite all the 'friends' she has. During one summer she is taken aback when she realizes she is in love with one of this people. It takes her a time to come to terms with this, but once she does, her life has a completely new breath. Robert, the man, seems to be more afraid than Edna, and runs away. Edna's solitude only increases her desire of changing her life. Robert's returm may be the event she has always expected.
The characters are quite strong and well written, even the supporting ones. Of course Edna is the most developed one, and she faces the same fears of any other human being in any time or place. Perhaps, the men are a bit silly and confused, novertheless realistic. Robert and Mr Pontelier -- the ones who surround Edna most of the time-- are particularly intriguing: they love her, but can't tell why.
All in all, this is a very interesting novel: both as a character study, and also as a portrait of a period of time. However, women's condition haven't changed so much as one could expect it to. Many women nowadays face the same feelings, and the conditions that Edna did.

Anywhere but Here
Anywhere but Here
by Mona Simpson
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 20.81
53 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Nice, but nothing more, Sept. 10 2002
This review is from: Anywhere but Here (Paperback)
Maybe my expectations were to high about Anywhere But Here, but in the end, I thought the novel was just nice. It is the story about a 'crazy' mother, whose teenage daughter has more sense than her. The woman, Adele, thinks her little girl, Ann, can make it big in the television, so they move from Wisconsin to California. There, they have a hard life, but for Adele everything is fine. She spends most of the time trying to get a rich husband while Ann spends most of the time hating her.
It is hard to find a plot in 'Anywhere', actually it is a sequence of situations, with ups and downs. Some chapters are narrated by Ann, others by Lillian (Adele's mother), and other's by Carol (Adele's sister). Adele's personal speech is showed only in the last section of the novel, when we are really tired of trying to find out who she really is. I understand Mona Simpson's objective with saving Adele for the end, but I wasn't interested to hear her by that time. I was exhausted.
Adele is completely selfish. Maybe in her own, she thinks she is doing all the for good, but she more hurts Ann tha helps her. Maybe we are induced to believe this because Ann tells most of the story. Ann doesn't seem to care that much about their lives, despite all the fought.
Anyway, the novel has its funny and interesting moments, but if shorter, it would be better. There is a movie based on this book, that is quite good, mainly because of Susan Sarandon and Natalie Portman's performances as mother and daughter.

White Oleander: A Novel
White Oleander: A Novel
by Janet Fitch
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 19.65
117 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars As poisonous as a white oleander - in a good way!, Sept. 1 2002
Were it not for its wonderful story, 'White Oleander' would be unforgettable by its powerful writing and addictive style. Janet Fitch proves herself to be one of the most competent American writers from late XX Century. Astrid and Ingrid are so well created that we do believe they are real.
The novel is coming-of-age story of a teenager whose mother is imprisioned after killing her boyfriend. From this moment on, the narrative bounces between the girl's, Astrid, foster homes, and her new life; and her mother, Ingrid, in jail. These two women must cope with things and people they are not used to. And to make things worse, none of them is prepared to face it. The people they aren't the ones they would choose to be their friends, and it is in this strange world that lies, to me, the most powerful points of the narrative.
It seems to me that this book is above all things about adaptation. Everyone must adapt him/herself in order to survive. It is quite inspiring reading about Astrid's experiences in her foster homes. All of them has its own universe full of joy and sorrow. The girl must know what she can absorve from each one, because --as everything-- they all have their own flaws.
It is easy to notice who Fitch hardly worked every sentence. We can see that she spent a time thinking of the right word for the structure, and this is what makes her work so beautiful, in my opinion.
To sum up, this is a wonderful and disturbing novel. Some people may feel very bad after finishing it, due to its strong content. Some will love it, others will hate, but it is impossible not to be indiferent to this novel.

Red Dragon
Red Dragon
by Thomas Harris
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
65 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as Silence; but not as over-rated as Hannibal, Sept. 1 2002
This review is from: Red Dragon (Mass Market Paperback)
I have read both 'The Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal' before reading 'The Red Dragon', and I place this novel between them both in a scale of greatness. I liked The Silence... the charactes and situations are well developed and disturbing. On the other hand, I think Hannibal is quite confusing, it reads like it needed to be edited to me. The situations seem to be unfinished, as if Thomas Harris was such a writer that no editor could change his work. That's why I think Hannibal is so over-rated.
So when I started reading Dragon I didn't know what to expect from it. It comes out that the result is much closer to Silence. This is when Mr Lecter - everyone's favioute cannibal - first and shortly appears. He is not the main character, he has only a supporting role as a man who helps an agent to find a serial killer, that claims himself to be the Red Dragon, hence the title.
The best parts of this novel are those when we are with the Dragon. He is not only fascinating, but very disturbing. It is not scary, but some descriptions are kept in your mind a while after finishing it. There is nothing new when it comes to serial killers. He kills, and Freud will remembered later on, as usuall when we learn why he is the way he is. That's it, most of the wirters seem to have the same explanation to mental disturbs.
All in all, to me, Harris is not a great writer, despite having created one of the most famous characters from thrillers, but his style is too simple, and when he wants to sophisticate it becomes confusing and pointless. Hannibal had so many sub-plots and bizare characters that it is pointless. Red Dragon has less characters and the whole story is focused on the killer, what makes the reading interesting and keep the interest up most of the time.

Survivor: A Novel
Survivor: A Novel
by Chuck Palahniuk
Edition: Paperback
41 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Surviving This Life, Aug. 11 2002
This review is from: Survivor: A Novel (Paperback)
Then again, Chuck Palahniuk wrote another of his unconventional novels. I'm not talking that it starts in page 289 and chapter 47 and goes to 1. I'm talking about his thematic and the approach he uses to his characters. As in Fight Club nothing here is for sure, his world is sureal, his people outsiders.
Survivor is the story of Tender Branson. He is the only survivor of the Creedish Death Cult. He's spent his simple and insignificant live easily. Nor great problems, neither exciting things. He was programmed to work for people as a slave somehow, doing houseworks. His life becomes upside down in the moment he realizes he is the only surviving member of the cult. Along with a woman, who has psychic powers he becomes a celebrity. But expect the unexpected. All in all, this is Palahniuk's world.
People who enjoyed his other novel, like Fight Club and Invisible Monsters, will adore this one. Everything is here again: catching plot, an outsider protagonist, smart sentences, quick dialogue. Many people complain that his novels are over and over the same thing. Well, it maybe true, but, in my opinion, it is the same GOOD thing all the time.
There is no middle term: either you love, or you hate. And , in my case, the word is love. I feel smart reading his sentences. I feel that he deeply undertands my generation, our fears and expectations. He knows how to put down in word what we like and what we loath, whitout giving a lecture.
I can't say I recommed his novels to everyone -- despite I love them. But he is too visceral for some people. To strong for some hearts & stomachs. But people who like him will have a great time with Survivor. It is an easy read, but not easy to forget.

The Alienist
The Alienist
by Caleb Carr
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
54 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Crazy people in an old world, Aug. 11 2002
Caleb Carr's The Alienist is an exotique novel. It is a mix between The Silence of the Lambs -- without such a poweful killer --, a bit of Henry James's early XX Century Fiction -- without too much social analysis --, and a bit of Agatha Christie's murder mistery stories. The Alienist is all of that, and none of that.
Simply cassifying this as a thriller is not enough to be faithful to waht this novel is. The point that makes it differs from, say, The Bone Collector is the setting. Carr's novel could be like any other thriller, but it takes place in the late XIX Century NY, and things were different by that time.
Well, not so different. There were young travestites hanging around, and psycho killers --despite not being called as that. The whole book revolves around a serial killer who is murdering male prostitutes. A group of high society people decide to investigate the murders and stop the killing. We must remember that by that time, the forensic techniques were starting to catch on, so most people didn't believed the man murdered by his mental reasons.
The title alienist is Dr Lazlo Kreizler who is a friend of a journalist man -- the narrator. They go little by little discovering what happens and why it happens. There are no many clues and they still must face some factions of society who is trying to cover the murders because of its sexual and escandalous content. An there it goes: who is the killer and why.
Carr's style is interesting, because he tries not to make a XXI century high speed thriller. And he gets it. Things happen on their own pace. The writing is in slow moting sometimes, what may demotivate the readers --myself included-- in some chapters. Nevertheless, the novel is interesting, mainly because of the well done research about the older forensic thechniques. There are some very graphic passages, but they are not very frequent, despite being desturbing.

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