Saturday, May 30, 2009

Ella Minnow Pea, David Mitchell: 4 Stars

Great book. Shortest book I've read in awhile if you're looking for something quick...

Those two points aside, my favorite parts about the book were the fact that the plot centered around letters to and from the characters AND how signs can be interpreted so very right, wrong, or sometimes just really don't matter. I think we've lost a lot in the art of writing letters with email being so quick and easy. We don't put as much thought into what we're saying as it can be delivered within moments. Our phrasing and study of the English language is a bit tarnished and broken in this matter. I think it's a slightly sad commentary on language in today's society.

Highly amusing is the way in which evolution is grasped and becomes the downfall of the society. I appreciate how the book made me think about relations in society. How as society evolves, we have tendencies to look down at things that seem "old fashioned". It makes a nice bundled package to see new things as advancements or signs of the future when sometimes the past is perfectly acceptable - and quite lovely.

This applies to everything with the exception of some fashion. We seriously DO NOT need to relive the nasty 80s people. Just let it go!!

Pick it up - recommended book.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hot Stuff, Janet Evanovich & Leanna Banks: 3 Stars

The characters are heart-warmingly fun. The situations are hilarious and catastrophic. There is nothing believable about it, but the story pulls you in. Disclaimer: Janet Evanovich cracks me up so I may be a little biased here. This is not as good as one of the Stephanie Plum novels so it only rates 3 Stars, but it's a fun, energetic read nonetheless.

There's a good balance between strong, tough chick and girliness that gives the main character a nice charm so as not to turn everyone off by the "I'm so independent" front. I like that in a female lead. There is such a thing as too aggressive. Most of us women just aren't like that to date - although there's definitely a handful leading that pack. We like to think of ourselves as still a little soft around the edges.

The unusual circumstances that always pop up in an Evanovich novel as just as fun and endearing as ever. It's nice and refreshing to read something that draws you in enough so even though you know what's going to happen, you don't find yourself saying "Get me there already because I'm bored". I like all the little side shows.

Keep it up ladies! (and Janet - thanks for the new Plum novel coming out next month)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lucy Gets Her Life Back, Stef Ann Holm: 1 Star

Disappointing chick lit. Usually, most of the stories are fairly hum-drum, cutesy stories that you can get through. This one didn't even have a good cat fight in it -- even on the inside!! Even as a single mom and divorcee, I couldn't get into that side of things. Instead, I thought the author probably hasn't really experienced much of what she's talking about since it feels like she's writing this from the sidelines.

Yes, I understand that fiction is not real for the most part, even the "inspired by a true story" versions. But I do need something that my brain can wrap itself around and identify. I love finding a book where I click with the characters. Then, I don't care how unrealistic the story gets, I'm right there with it, cheering along.This one was hard to even keep turning the pages. I fell asleep once while holding it, I believe.

It was a fast read - two plane rides from Salt Lake to San Fran and from San Fran back to Salt Lake. No movies were offered.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Faithful Spy, Alex Berenson: 2 Stars

Kicking it off with a little Alex Berenson.

This was a fairly fast read, which can be a blessing sometimes. I am not good at putting something down once I've started it because I have an insatiable need to find out what happened. If you read a lot or even moderately, be wary of predictability. I really get irritated when you can tell the author thinks he's in the middle of snagging you into his plot (NOTE: I use "his" in a non-gender descript type of way here). I think the author identified with his leading "bad guy", Khadri. The bad guy who thinks he's 5 steps ahead of everyone else. Berenson, you came across as having that same sort of attitude ... a little trying for my soul. Next time, give the readership some street cred, please.

MILD SPOILER ALERT (which for this kind of book, you really shouldn't care much about):
No one good dies. Come on!! A spy novel where no one that the author makes you care about except the bad guys die? How am I supposed to really get sucked in? Relying solely on Patriotism inspired by 9/11 just doesn't seem to do it for me. Not that I feel any less about that date as I lived through it, but the causes for targeting certain ethnicity has been tainted by ongoing politics. I'm not getting on a political soap box here because I've always thought people should be judged on their own merits and not stereotyped (otherwise, despite my brown hair, I believe I would be known as a "blond").

Kill someone that means something to me IN THE BOOK. I was almost happy thinking about the main character dying, but I knew you wouldn't do it. There was no motivation in anything else so whenever he was in danger, it just didn't seem real or believable. It wasn't really page turning. I think maybe he should have had a stronger name than plain John. I know lots of Johns in my time, some even have great meaning in my life, but as the lead character in a novel like this, it just makes it seem like Berensen was trying desperately hard to use that so every man in America reading the book would say 'John Doe could be me'. Unfortunately, it wasn't very inspiring (albeit this might be due to my gender as I'm fairly certain this type of novel is written toward men).

This other mild irritant in the book may also be because of my gender, but seriously she told the story about losing her virginity when he wanted to hear a story about her? Really? Really? Not only was the topic not believable, but the story itself was L.A.M.E. It's a story that a woman tells herself to make the truth feel more like the person she is, not what really happened. It doesn't do a lot to forward her character building. Lame. I'm not saying lame because it was about sex (virgin or otherwise) or because it had anything to do with sex at all, I'm just saying that story she told was lame and absolutely unbelievable from a woman's perspective. I can't even say any man that I know would fall for that crap either. Give us something real. If you need more ideas on making it real, please interview more people for their experiences before trying to piece together these types of things.

One perk: the writing didn't drive me nuts so it wasn't painful to read or finish. The plot made it a little tedious and made me glad it was a fast read, but the overall writing didn't get in the way.

Not everyone's cup of tea. If you have a flight from San Fran to NY, it'd be great and probably better than any of the movies offered up (it was better than any of the movies offered up on my ride for sure).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Fine Art of Reading

I've been challenged. I stated (at some crazy point in my life or another) that I read an average of 3 books a week, and I've had several people question the volume. So, in an effort to track the number of books I consume over the next year, I thought I'd start posting reviews.

Now keep in mind that this is not me declaring to the world the only thing I read are those with grand literary effort. You'll definitely be able to note the wide variety within the first 10 reviews. Please make sure to wary them all otherwise you might be under the distinct impression that I only read chick lit or military novels. My last few books were read during transcontinental flights, which lends itself quite nicely to those genres as they can be complete by the time the plane touches down on the other side of the country or the world. Occasionally, I will read back to back books by the same author if I happen to like the first one.

Of second note and my only disclaimer: I haven't written an official "reviews" since my university days so I may be rusty at the start. I would love to have discussion back and forth in the comments and welcome any critique you might have. I'm posting without affiliation to anyone but myself. You can take my opinions or leave them right on the pages of these blogs.

Hopefully, maybe you'll discover a book or two that you might actually want to read along the way and that might influence your life for the better - as that's what reading seems to be all about for me.

Your Number One Page Turner.