Shades of Grey (not to be confused with FIFTY Shades of Grey)

Shades of Grey
By: Jasper Fforde

Series: Shades of Grey

Published: 2009

# of pages: 390

Quote: “'Unless the hole is MEANT to be square,' I said with a sudden erudition that surprised me, 'in which case, all the round pegs are the ones that are wrong, and if the ROUND hole is one that is not meant to be square, then the square ones will, no, hang on--'

'Shame,' said the historian, 'and you were doing so well.'” -pg 210

Official description: Part social satire, part romance, part revolutionary thriller, Shades of Grey tells of a battle against overwhelming odds. In a society where the ability to see the higher end of the color spectrum denotes a better social standing, Eddie Russet belongs to the low-level House of Red and can see his own color—but no other. The sky, the grass, and everything in between are all just shades of grey, and must be colorized by artificial means.
Eddie's world wasn't always like this. There's evidence of a never-discussed disaster and now, many years later, technology is poor, news sporadic, the notion of change abhorrent, and nighttime is terrifying: no one can see in the dark. Everyone abides by a bizarre regime of rules and regulations, a system of merits and demerits, where punishment can result in permanent expulsion.
Eddie, who works for the Color Control Agency, might well have lived out his rose-tinted life without a hitch. But that changes when he becomes smitten with Jane, a Grey Nightseer from the dark, unlit side of the village. She shows Eddie that all is not well with the world he thinks is just and good. Together, they engage in dangerous revolutionary talk.
Stunningly imaginative, very funny, tightly plotted, and with sly satirical digs at our own society, this novel is for those who loved Thursday Nextbut want to be transported somewhere equally wild, only darker; a world where the black and white of moral standpoints have been reduced to shades of grey.
My opinion: Loved it!  It took me awhile to get into the world.  There were a few times in the first several chapters I thought it was a little stupid and wondered if I would like the book.  What I didn't know when I started is that this is a humorous book.  Not to say that the main point of the book is humor, or that there aren't many serious lessons and issues in the book, but it is all masked in humor and you can't take the details too seriously.

Yes, a world where people can only see certain shades of color and where they've created a caste system based on color is silly.  It's silly that there is a society that make up laws for every silly little thing.  So don't get bogged down by some of the ridiculousness.  It's a touching, thought provoking book with some really funny moments, not just silly ones.

The next book in the series is being published in 2013, just in time!!

Why I gave this book 5/5 stars: Great writing, great characters, subtle humor, unique story line and setting, very thought provoking.

Other reviews:

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Children's Christmas Books

A few months ago I started a blog about home schooling my preschooler.  I just did a post on children's Christmas books the other day.

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The Postmistress

The Postmistress
By: Sarah Blake

Published: 2010

# of pages: 336

Official description: In 1940, Iris James is the postmistress in coastal Franklin, Massachusetts. Iris knows more about the townspeople than she will ever say, and believes her job is to deliver secrets. Yet one day she does the unthinkable: slips a letter into her pocket, reads it, and doesn't deliver it. 
Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts from overseas with Edward R. Murrow. Her dispatches beg listeners to pay heed as the Nazis bomb London nightly. Most of the townspeople of Franklin think the war can't touch them. But both Iris and Frankie know better...
The Postmistress is a tale of two worlds-one shattered by violence, the other willfully na├»ve-and of two women whose job is to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history's tide, it examines how stories are told, and how the fact of war is borne even through everyday life.

My opinion:  Meh.  The separate characters' stories (Iris, Harry, Emma, Will, Frankie) didn't mesh well at all.  I read review that described it as sort of meandering and then petering out.  That's exactly how this novel is.  I understand that one of the points of the book is not knowing what happens outside the story...what happens on the edges.  Of course, the author claims she is writing this book to describe the edges of WWII, but I wondered if that's one reason she tapers off at the end without fully finishing or allowing the reader to understand all of the characters' thoughts.

I also don't really understand the significance of "The Postmistress."  And the intro really sucks, it makes it sound like the book is about something it's not about at all.

Why I gave this book 3/5 stars:  Not very well written, but it could be worse.  The middle part with the scenes of Jewish refugees traveling is very interesting.  The characters are hard to relate to and the entire book seemed pointless.

Other reviews:
S. Krishna's Books
Bookfoolery and Babble

Have you reviewed this? Let me know and I'd be happy to post yours as well.

The Blue Cotton Gown

The Blue Cotton Gown: A Midwife's Memoir
By: Patricia Harman

Published: 2008

# of pages: 289

Quote:  "The couple had made the baby by accident and given him away on purpose, a gift to a family that couldn't conceive. . . . I've never forgotten their courage."  -pg. 60

Official description:Heather is pale and thin, seventeen and pregnant with twins when Patricia Harman begins to care for her. Over the course of the next five seasons Patsy will see Heather through the loss of both babies and their father. She will also care for her longtime patient Nila, pregnant for the eighth time and trying to make a new life without her abusive husband. And Patsy will try to find some comfort to offer Holly, whose teenage daughter struggles with bulimia. She will help Rebba learn to find pleasure in her body and help Kaz transition into a new body. She will do noisy battle with the IRS in the very few moments she has to spare, and wage her own private battle with uterine cancer.
Patricia Harman, a nurse-midwife, manages a women's health clinic with her husband, Tom, an ob-gyn, in West Virginia-a practice where patients open their hearts, where they find care and sometimes refuge. Patsy's memoir juxtaposes the tales of these women with her own story of keeping a small medical practice solvent and coping with personal challenges. Her patients range from Appalachian mothers who haven't had the opportunity to attend secondary school to Ph.D.'s on cell phones. They come to Patsy's small, windowless exam room and sit covered only by blue cotton gowns, and their infinitely varied stories are in equal parts heartbreaking and uplifting. The nurse-midwife tells of their lives over the course of a year and a quarter, a time when her outwardly successful practice is in deep financial trouble, when she is coping with malpractice threats, confronting her own serious medical problems, and fearing that her thirty-year marriage may be on the verge of collapse. In the words of Jacqueline Mitchard, this memoir, "utterly true and lyrical as any novel . . . should be a little classic."

My opinion:  After reading The Midwife of Hope River by Patricia Harman, I was eager to read The Blue Cotton Gown, one of her non-fiction memoirs.  I was eager to read more birth stories since she had put variations of real birth stories in her novel.  I wasn't disappointed in the birth stories in The Blue Cotton Gown, but I do wish there had been more of them.  Harman follows several of her patients over the course of a year.  They aren't all pregnant and they have many different physical and emotional problems.  I was impressed by how Harman cared about each of them, even when she didn't want to.  I wish my midwives spent as much time with me and cared about my personal life so much that they would recognize me later.

The only thing I didn't like was her attention to her and her husband's financial situation.  It started feeling like a big pity party after awhile.  Sorry, but it was hard to feel bad for them when they have a vacation home on a lake in addition to their everyday house!!

There is a small amount of bad language.  Sexual descriptions.  Discussion of rape/molestation.  Miscarriages.  Graphic descriptions of the female anatomy and birth.  If this doesn't bother you I definitely recommend!

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Harman has an interesting life and I enjoyed reading each of her stories.  However, I didn't enjoy reading about her sex life or such a large amount about her financial situation.

Other reviews:
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Wife, mother, bookworm.
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