Sunday, October 31, 2010

FAILURE -- but I think I made it to 52. Let's count

So, I suck at Blogging. And writing book reviews. Honestly, if I would have just stuck with it and if I had not fallen so far behind I could have pulled it off. The question is will you let me back in for the next round of Cannonball read, and how can I contribute to Lil' Pink's college fund on my own? I hate being a let down!

Ok, here's what I've been reading.

13 books by Robert Crais. Elvis Cole detective novels, really, it would have been impossible to write reviews for all of those, I mean they were all the same. Good, really good, but the same idea. I mean how far can you go in a detective novel? So that makes 35. Crap, maybe I didn't make 52.

36. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. This was in my southern stories phase. Though it seems that phase didn't carry me to far. Pretty good, about an orphan girl raised in the slave quarters only to become the mistress of the house.

37. Milrose Munce and the Den of Professional Help. Kids book, who turned me on to this? At any rate, good. Milrose can see ghosts.

38. The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews. Uhhhhhhh oh, I got it, Washington intern type gets sold down the river by her boss, humiliated and broke she agrees to move to small town GA and fix up the family "plantation". Naturally she falls in love. Inexplicably she decides to use white ceramic tile for the counter tops in the kitchen. Has the author never had to deal with that particular grout nightmare?

39. This Pen For Hire by Laura Levine. I honestly have no idea what this was about other than the protagonist wrote a love letter for some hopless dweeb and somehow he got implicated in a murder. Really, not memorable

40. Dead in the Family by Charlane Harris. Soooookeh. In all honesty it is a blur. Something about the fairy twins really being triplets and one getting murdered...maybe. I have the books so jumbled with the HBO series that I can't keep them straight.

41. That Eat What's Good For You book that someone else reviewed on Pajiba some while back. Too lazy to go to the bedroom and see what the title actually is. Basically, if you can't pronounce it or it isn't in your pantry don't shove it down your gullet.

42. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Wow, good stuff. Is the movie out? Curiously I finished this the day that uh, dude, won the Nobel prize for his work test tube babies. Ok, maybe not exactly, but something like that. I am truly bad with current events.

43. CRAP CRAP CRAP I am 9 short! The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Protagonist can taste the feelings that are put into food. Her brother keeps disappearing, her mother is having an affair and her father is distant. Bothersome in that it is written without ""s when people speak.

Well shoot, I thought I had made it. Here's to hoping for better luck next time!

Over and out for now.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Book 22. Notting Hell

Another bedside book. I must have been feeling very British in early June. Or very much like reading a shit ton of chick books. I am just going to say at the outset this is going to be a short review becausee this book fell flat with me. I guess that is what I get for buying off of the Barnes and Noble extreme sale table.

So we have Clare, married to her semidouchey husband and ecotect. They live in Notting Hill and their house abuts a community garden/park. I know absolutely nothing about the hoity toitys of Notting Hill so my "geography" for lack of a better term might be off. At any rate, Clare is trying to have a kid with no luck. She is "friends" (when not spying on her or critizing her) with Mimi and fellow square dweller. Clare catches sight of one of their neighbours exiting a house that is not her own in the middle of the night. So the gossip mill fires up to full producction capacity. In the mean time Mimi is anxiously awaiting the arrival of Si Kaspian billionaire playboy. He has purchased a house on the super hoity toity side of the square. He comes along, she considers an affair, Clare is still trying to get pregnant and it appears as though Mimi's husband might be a good sperm donor......Oh blah blah blah. Everyone sleeps with everyone, everyone talks about everyone, everyone stabs at least one other person in the back and everyone has more money than sense. There you have it. Having spent sometime in a little place called Gulf Harbour I can say from experience that the descriptions of these peoples habits and behaviours are spot on. Gross.

Read it if you want an brief peep into the life of the rich and richer. Otherwise, skip it.

Book 21. Remember Me?

Sometime in late May (or all the time, as it seems now) I went through a cash deficit and was forced to read from the stack of books next to my bed. How different life is with an actual book versus a Kindle. Jesus, I can really be a spoiled bitch. No comments necessary. Soooo, I picked up this little "gem" by Sophie Kinsella. If you have read any of the Shopaholic series you know where this review is going.

Holy cow, I am half way through these reviews. Yahoo! Ok, ok, back on track. The book starts out with Lexi Smart out at the pub with her girlfriends celebrating their bonuses. She hasn't worked in the flooring department of her company long enough to get a bonus so she is a bit poor and depressed. The evening ends with Lexi biting it and hitting her head. She wakes up in the hospital and thinks that it is 2004, the day after the night at the pub. As it turns out she has amnesia and it is really 2008, or maybe 2007. Really, it doesn't matter. She also discovers that instead of being the "snaggle tooth fatty" she was in 2004 she is now a svelte even toothed shiny haired goddess. To add to that she discovers that she is married to a fabulously wealthy hotty and is now the head of the entire flooring department. She gets out the hospital and goes home with her husband, the hotty, Eric. As the chapters unfold and she tries to remember anything about the past we discover that Eric isn't the prince charming she was hoping for (read: he is giant douche) and her wonderful life, job and friends aren't all they were cracked up to be. Does that phrase even make sense? I mean it seems right, but it really doesn't read back right. Mix in a bit of work place intrigue and a possible affair and you've got yourself an amnesia story. I know I was going on and on about character growth in my review of Tropper, and technically she does grow in the end, but come on. This was just so shallow. Not that I was expecting any deep thoughts from this genre...

As a waste the day don't need to think there are a lot of short chapters so I can stop anytime I wish I was thin and rich and had a wonderful husband/dude to have an affair with this is a great book. For anything more substantial, look farther.

Book 20. This is Where I Leave You

This is another May book, I read two Troppers in quick succession because I loved this, my first foray into his work, so freaking much. It absolutely slayed me. I can't remember if I was reading this on a plane of if I was at home. Either way, I was laughing out loud.

Let me say I have no idea what led me to Jonathan Tropper, but I know I bought this book in part because of the bright lettering on the book jacket. Yes, I am that person. Further I didn't even get the actual book, I bought it on the Kindle. So I guess that makes me an even bigger "that person". Book buying habits aside, this guy is awesome.

In this, his fifth book, we meet Judd Foxman. He has been called home from his miserable life to shit Shiva for his deceased Father, an atheist. Judd is unemployed after finding his wife in bed with his boss. He is currently renting a crappy basement apartment so the prospect of sitting Shiva for a week with his family doesn't seem to be the worst thing to happen to him. He arrives to his childhood home and finds his sister Wendy, her disengaged husband and their three children, his older bother Paul and his wife who is experiencing fertility problems (cue the jealousy of Wendy and her children and "sex on demand" with the baby monitor on for all in the Shiva room [totally not Jewish so I have no clue what this is called] to hear), and the eventual arrival of baby brother Phillip and his girlfriend (much older) of the month, his life coach. All of this goes without mentioning his Mother a child rearing expert who chronicled the best and worst of her children's youthful mistakes in several books. Horrid sentences aside (mine, not his) there is not a single character you are introduced to in this book that is not an integral part of the story. Tropper does a wonderful job capturing the nuances of a normal (highly dysfunctional) family with biting one liners and just a fabulous sense of humour (extreme sarcasm). THe character's stories are all wonderfully interwoven and as a reader you care about the resolution of their problems.

In retrospect, I think I enjoyed this book so much not only because of the humour but because each of the characters grows by the end. In many books, or maybe it is just the mystery crap I read, the characters are the same in the beginning as they are in the end. No one seems to learn anything. Not true here. One last thing, Tropper really managed to capture that hyperventilating inducing funny shit at a totally in appropriate times. I kept flashing to my Grandfather's funeral and the Minister(Pastor?) going on and on and on about my cousins (wonderful Baptists). Nary a word was spoken about my side of the family (beer drinking heathens). While this was happening my Mother kept poking me and cracking up. I was DYING. See, as I tell this it comes off as blah blah, not so funny. With Tropper at the helm these events come to life and make you guffaw aloud. Long and short of it, if you like sarcasm and family dynamics, this guy is for you.

I also read How to Talk to a Widower. I will not bother reviewing it because it is very much like This is Where I Leave You. I will say, Widower was every bit as good as This is Where I Leave You. Though it was similar so I wouldn't recommend reading them back to back. It would be a shame to get burned out on this author.

Book 19. Every Last One: A Novel

Man, this is tragic. I am so far behind in writing the reviews that I think I am going to have to scrap some of the books I've read and just move on. The bad thing is that I know I am well over 20 but some of those I read so stinking long ago I just can't remember much about them. This book, by Anna Quindlen is one of those. I think I read it in May. I remember buying it on the Kindle late one afternoon and starting it with a beer. I finished a six pack and finished the book. I was sobbing. It was a disaster. I went into it knowing that some life altering tragedy was looming but I never imagined how huge the tragedy would actually be. Thus the sobbing.

Ok so here is the deal (forgive me if this starts to read like the Amazon blurb, I had to go back and read it for a bit of a refresher), The Latham's are your average family living in your average town. Mary Beth is the Mother and she runs a landscaping business more as hobby and out of enjoyment than as a necessity. She has a husband whom she loves and to whom she has been married for several years. They have 3 children, Ruby, and twins Max and Alex. The first half of the book focuses on their mundane run of the mill family problems. Odd as it may sound, it was written so well that I just kind of fell into Mary Beth's frame of mind. Ruby breaks up with her boyfriend Kirenan and he goes all teenage angsty weird. Since the children are all close in age Kirenan sticks around as a friend to the twin brothers. His oddball behaviour is overshadowed by the depression of one of the twins. One brother is the outgoing jock the other is the nerdy introvert. Mary Beth gets caught up in Max's (I think that was the introvert kid) problems and is determined to help him. Just when things start to come together, BOOM the middle of the book happens. The last half deals with the aftermath and the picking up of the pieces.

Honestly, I don't know if it was the beer or the phase of the moon but this book really hit me. It was a good story and it had a twist I simply didn't see coming. Well, I knew what was coming, I just did not imagine the extent. Never mind, I don't want to give up too much.

This author reeled me in with well rounded characters, a bit of mystery, and quick paced story. If you are in the mood for a bit of girly read, a bit of beach book, and a bit of tear jerker, then this it. I'd say thumbs up. I would read Quindlen again, but I am not clamoring to get to the Kindle page to snap up another of her works. Does that make sense?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book 18. Blue Christmas

Mary Kay Andrews, again. This one had the characters that I remembered from her past books. Or kind of remembered. The stories with Weezie Foley, the antiques dealer in Savannah, are always enjoyable. For some reason I get a big thrill out of reading books that are set in the South. In any time period. Is that weird? Yeah, I suppose it is. I chalk it up to being from Iowa and then moving to Georgia, and now Alabama. I call it my tour of the redneck states. Not offense meant. As usual, I digress.

It seems that this may have been one of those “special holiday stories” that some authors will put out with not as a regular installment in a series of books. I don’t know that this was case for sure, but, again, it really seemed that way. Weezie wants to win the downtown holiday window decorating contest and she is facing some stiff completion from her new gay business rivals. Total gay stereotypes all over, but not in an offensive manor. At least they didn’t seem offensive to me but I am not a gay man so I could be totally off the mark. Just take them as light hearted humor and move on. She decides on an Elvis Blue Christmas theme and is determined to win and have the best Christmas ever despite her boyfriend’s hatred of all things Christmas due to bad childhood memories. Wow, that was a sentence. A bad one.

Basically, she runs her store, hangs out with her friend Bebe, feuds with the gays and makes some strange connection with a homeless woman for whom she leaves/receives gifts in her pickup truck. One can figure out just exactly what is going to happen about a quarter of the way through the book. Strange, though I remember figuring it all out, I have no idea how it ends now. This is not heavy thought provoking material here. I think I have her latest on the Kindle but have yet to read it. I have been back on that book hoarding thing I do. Now it is time to stop buying and start reading. I guess I need another long flight or two.

Basically, I keep reading this author because I like the Savannah setting and the stories are light and fluffy and a good way to kill an afternoon. If you like that kind of stuff, check Mary Kay Andrews out, if you don’t, well then, don’t.

Book 17. Finger Lickin Fifteen

Really, have I reviewed any of these Janet Evanovich “numbered bounty hunter books”? Clearly not. When I first got the Kindle I read 14 of these books (just checked my Kindle account) in fairly rapid succession. As in over a month’s time. Is that apostrophe correct? The time belongs to the month right? I mean it is not plural months. Wow that seems odd. Back to my point. I read these things nonstop and maybe that is way they are meant to be consumed. Taking a year off and coming back to a tired story line, and horrific phrases like “he did an eye-roll”, “she did a glare" was not the best idea I have ever had. In fact when I started reading this I was trying to recall what Evanovich was always writing that used to irritate me so much. Sure enough I now have “he did an eye roll” is seared on my brain. Shouldn’t that be he rolled his eyes? I just don’t know. What I do know is I don’t like it. That aside, let’s cover the story, shall we?

This episode of the Stephanie Plum bounty hunter show centers around Lula, Stephanie’s friend/coworker/plus sized woman/ex prostitute. She witnesses a top tv chef (what was it with me and the food books?) get beheaded by a couple of maniacs. Hilarity ensues. Or at least I suppose it is supposed to. The two bumbling hit men try to kill Lula for a good portion of the book, Stephanie has her list of bail jumpees that need to be brought in (usually unsuccessfully if she and Lula are working together), she is on the outs with her boyfriend the cop Morelli and she is helping Ranger figure out who has been breaching his security systems and robbing his clients. That was the part that just didn’t make any sense. She is a bounty hunter, not detective. That and the incessant sexual tension/sexual banter between Stephanie and Ranger just seemed old. I mean do it already, sheesh. Anyway, Lula and Stephanie’s Grandmother decide that they are going to enter a bbq cook-off and that will lead them to the bumbling hit men and the reward money offered to find the killer of the chef/bbq sauce guy. I guess this all made sense as I was reading it. It doesn’t really now.

If I have read all 15 of these so that must say something about the books. I mean they can’t be that bad. But then I did read the Twilight series all the while knowing it was God Awful and all the while flipping the pages as fast as I could. I guess if you need a lot of something easy these are the way to go. The 16th is coming out soon. I know I will read it but I will probably hate myself in the morning. Ok, they really aren’t THAT bad, they just aren’t THAT good. I love Serge A. Storms much more than Stephanie Plum but as I said in the review of Dorsey’s book, it might be time to give these characters a vacation. I guess that could be accomplished by me not reading those books couldn’t it? Fine, they are like crack and I can’t stop, I am just trying to save face over here I guess.

I concede, thumbs up all of for all of ‘em. Read the trashy series if for the only reason to be appalled when “they” screw up the trashiness by adapting it into a feature film. Who was rumoured to play Stephanie? I need the Pajiba archives for that.