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.

Book 16. The Spellmans Strike Again

I have no idea if this is what I read next, but it must not be because it appears as though I purchased it well before Deep Dish. In April. No wonder I am having such a difficult time getting caught up, I am well over 2 months behind. Oh well, soldier on.

This latest from Lisa Lutz follows her main character Izzy Spellman on yet another journey through the streets of SF as a private eye. She works for her parents (fellow PIs) and with her sister (high school aged Rae) though most of the spying the family does seems to be on each other. In this, the fourth book (I think), Izzy is trying to make things work with her bartender boyfriend, trying to solve the mystery of why everyday things such as doorknobs and light fixtures are going missing in her parent’s home/her office, fielding weekly “phone calls from the edge” from her elderly friend Morty, dealing with sanctioned “Lawyer” dates set up by her mother, and getting dragged into her little sister’s pro bono work for her brother’s girlfriend. It sounds a bit hokey as I write it but really, I love this series. Lutz imagines some crazy scenarios to put Izzy in and the level of manipulation, lying and spying that goes on within this family is too much, and too funny. Lutz has a bit of a dry wit and I always appreciate sarcasm mixed with a generous use of footnotes (kind of a pain in the ass on the Kindle). This too, like most things I read in the summer (or I guess it was spring at the time) is light, very light. But I appreciate the writing and great stories Lisa Lutz conjures on a yearly I don’t fear that Izzy will go away too soon, I am sure this is a money making character. From reading Lutz’s website (something I very rarely do with the authors I read) it seems that there must be a lot of Lutz in Izzy which makes me kind of want to be her friend. Which sounds a bit stalkerish but that is totally not the intention.

This series, and unless the future Spellman books take a drastic turn, all get the thumbs up.

Book #15 Deep Dish

Ok, I have been SO slacking that I may not be able to recover… I am going to give it a shot by trying to review some of the books I read what seems like months ago, provided my beer soaked memory can provide me with enough information. Additionally, work, while not seasonal is terribly cyclical. I am in a valley trying to kill 9 hours a day so I should be caught up in no time.

Deep Dish. As I recall I must have been on some type of books with food gig. I remember that is was still cool enough in AL to sit in the sun without the luxury of a swimming pool and read. I think I finished that other food mystery with the poodle on the cover and then was a loss for cheesy brainless sitting in the sun reading. I consulted my room of books and came up with Mary Kay Andrews. Off I went to Amazon in search. I think this was perhaps her most recent and why I purchased it.

The book centers around Gina Foxton, a cable channel chef. She discovers not only that her main advertiser has jumped ship, but that her producer boyfriend was sleeping with the sponsors wife. There is one chance to save the show and that is to have it picked up by a national station. Her cad of boyfriend has arranged an "interview", for lack of a better term, with the head honchos from the Food Network, or whatever it was called in the book. The problem is that she is not the only chef in contention for the coveted Food Network slot. Enter Tate Moody and his dog, pickup truck, and airstream (at least that is how I imagined it) trailer. As Rom-Coms will have it, they hated each other on sight. Opposites repelling and all. Their publicists catch wind of a feud and use their animosity towards each other to boost interest whichever show gets picked up by the network. And we are off and running. Girl meets boy, Girl hates boy, Girl needs to beat boy at his own game, Girl needs boy to help her. I will stop there. I do remember about half way through the book knowing what was going to happen. Though it didn’t play out as quickly as I had imagined, things fell into place just as the Rom-Com formula dictates.

At any rate, this is just one of those lazy afternoon books. Doesn’t really deserve a thumb up or down, it was just there doing what I needed it to – pass the time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Book 14. The Proof is in the Pudding

As spring dawns in Alabama so does my need to read pure crap. I can while away entire weekends reading book upon book with sketchy plot lines, questionable narrators, and sometimes amateurish writing. This was one of those books.

Last summer in the height of my Kindle frenzy I got hooked on cheesy mysteries. Usually with a female lead. I was drawn to Melinda Welles because she was two books into a series and there I are times I am just lazy enough to get stuck on one author and read everything that is available in quick succession. Plus there was a black standard poodle on the cover. I know, I know.

In this, the third installment in the series, Della is pegged to judge a charity cooking competition. She is a widow of a cop turned cooking school instructor turned "celebrity" chef. During the competition one of her fellow judges is murdered and she, along with her best friend's daughter and her husband's partner, is suspected of committing the crime. The cast of characters include her publicist, her reporter boyfriend, her two female best friends, her best friends daughter and her husbands partner. They have been present in the other three novels and very comfortable. By that I mean, reading these books is like watching Cheers. You know everyone, you know what is going to happen but you keep at it because everyone is just likable.

While not written poorly per se, this book seemed a bit amateurish as I am sure the other two did as well. Cooking figures prominently and and there are the requisite recipes at the end. This set up seems to be a popular one in so far as two more books that I read by different authors had this mystery cooking here is your recipes vibe. Weird really, but I suppose it sells.

This series of books provide a good afternoon diversion. While mostly fluff, the plots are interesting enough to keep you turning the pages. So if cooking, dogs, and murder, and comfortable characters is your gig, oh maybe it you aren't a guy, pick these up.

Book 13. Atomic Lobster

How I love Serge A. Storms. How I love Tim Dorsey for creating Serge A. Storms. How I hope that after book 11 Dorsey finds some new material for Serge.

Serge is the quintessential anti-hero you root for from book to book. I am not entirely sure that anti-hero is a strong enough word. He is freaking bonkers. He has OCD, ADD and all of the other three letters you can conjure. He is a psychopath who spends his days killing muggers, rapists, and litterers in the most creative of fashions. He has a good heart is completely without remorse and will do anything for his friends. He has been the central character of a cast of hundreds of crazy Floridians in 11 of Dorsey's novels. He is a veritable encyclopedia of Florida history and this love of his state is what drives him do the things that he does. Though he is clearly off his nut, he will not tolerate the "scum" that is invading his holy ground, the entire state of Florida. The individual plots all seem to run together and frankly I can't remember the specifics of Atomic Lobster other than there were retirees determining that it was more financially lucrative to live aboard cruise ships, relic smuggling "bad-guys", and a return of Serge's neighbours from Dorsey's first book. There is always a good deal of Florida movie and music history (this time it was bands from Florida that people think came from elsewhere: Skynrd and the Allman Brother's specifically) in addition to other crazy Florida trivia. Good stuff for those who have spent way too much time in that crazy state. Again, the books aren't so much about the story line but rather about the character. At least that is how they are for me. Serge's adventures are getting a bit tired and I fear that it might be best to put this money making franchise to rest. In fact, Dorsey took him to LA a few books back. Meh, good movie trivia but Serge belongs in Florida. The writing and this particular brand of humour make me laugh out loud which is why I keep coming back. If you haven't read Dorsey, start at the beginning and work your way through. The earlier ones just seem better, funnier. If you have read Hiaasen and liked Skink, you will like Serge and Dorsey's story telling. I would be willing to be bet you'd like him better. At least I do. With that I will leave you with some nuggets from Atomic Lobster that made me guffaw.

"Serge, I didn't go to school all those years to discuss Florida movies."
"Then you got gypped."
"Okay, okay. Here's what's bothering me. You want the truth? I don't have a legacy."
"Well, I have one, but it's the wrong kind. Think of all of the great creative legacies from history. Either a defining moment, like the photo of Mount Suribachi, or a fertile period, from Beggar's Banquet to Exile on Main Street. I need to leave a universally respected mark on this world or what's the point?"
"What brought this on?"
"I googled myself. People have no idea how words can hurt."

"Listen," Jim told Serge. "Don't you think you need to get back to whoever you're with --"
"Her name is Rachel."
"...back to Rachel."
"It's okay," said Serge. "I'm just getting a B.J. now. I can talk."
"In fact, it makes me want to talk. Hard to believe, but Peter O. Knight used to be Tampa's main airport. I can see it all now, silver DC-3s, alligator suitcases...Rachel watch the teeth...the terminal decorated with the 1930s art deco murals of George Snow depicting the history of flight, Daedalus to the Wright Brothers and Tony Janus, restored on display at Tampa International's Airside E, for those keeping score at home..."

Pick up some Dorsey for a lazy afternoon by the pool. Good stuff.

Book 12. Beginner's Greek: A Novel

I started this book and loved it, I read more and hated it, I finished it and loved it. The net? I am not sure how I feel about it. I have suggested it to a few friends to get their take but I have heard nothing back. Perhaps they have the same issues with book discussions as I have with blogging about them.

The book starts with Peter Russell, some type of finance guy, aboard an airplane waiting to see who is seat mate will be. As I am wont to do, Peter is scanning the aisle hoping an attractive woman (I look for the men) will make her way towards him. In his mind she will be the perfect creature, they will exchange bon-mots for the duration of the flight and, naturally, fall in love. As it turns out, this dream creature does sit down next to him. She is reading The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann (never read it). This leads Peter to begin intrinsically debating the merits of bringing up a conversation with her concerning the novel. Peter's internal monologue and resulting fears of making a fool of himself is part of the reason I loved the book. He is written so well, so real and his feeling about love seem to make so much sense. I am ahead of myself. They speak, they hit it off and she (Holly) gives him her number at baggage claim with the understanding that he will call her when is not busy with his meetings. As the pages went by following the receipt of her number I knew he was going to lose it and thus lose his chance. He did.

The book progresses and it is revealed that Peter's best friend is married to Holly and Peter is engaged to a woman who he knows he doesn't love, for he is still in love with Holly. It is not that he doesn't love her (totally forgot her name) but the he doesn't love her in the same way as Holly and this love for Holly is what seems to be the "real" thing to him. He ruminates on the fact that his fiancee loves him because he is "safe" and a good match financially, socially, and physically speaking. So he is willing to go through with it because he know it will be "fine". Peter's best friend is a bit of an asshole. We all know this guy, attractive, knows it, witty, knows it a bit of liar and huge manipulator. He is cheating on Holly and Peter knows it but feels that there is nothing he can do because the dude is best friend and Peter perceives him as being better (I read this as more charismatic, more "that guy") than Peter could ever be.

The book is divided into narratives from each of the main characters, the Fiancee, Peter, the Fiancee's Father, the Fiancee's Step Mother, and perhaps the best friend (it has been a long while since I read this). This provides wonderful insight into each of their motivations. I always find is fascinating when a male author can see so far into a woman's psyche. At any rate, the major theme is love. Throwing caution to the wind and putting your heart out there if only to get it broken. The idea of settling because you don't know what else to do, you are financially obligated to a person, you don't want to leave the comfort of what is known to search for true happiness which comes from finding that true love. The idea of one person loving another more in a relationship and the troubles that always seem to arise as a function of that inequity. Additionally Collins examines the roles people take, the trophy wife to her aging yet wealthy husband. The not as pretty girl to the girl that seems to effortlessly have it all. The gregarious guy to the nice guy. I loved all of this and it all resonated very true to me.

As the book progresses the reader knows that disaster is imminent. This is what I hated. Presently, I am not sure why it drew such ire but at the time it really irritated me. I know that I kept turning the pages because I knew it was all going to fall apart and I needed to know when and how. This seems like a good quality in a story in retrospect. I think maybe I felt over manipulated at the time. I guess, now looking back, I really did love the book.

Isn't it odd how books affect you in different ways depending upon what is happening in your own life? At least the good ones do.

That's all. Read it.

Book 11, again

This won't be long, I have so many other plot lines floating in my head but I wanted to touch on this book once again if only to say 10 books later this was one of the best. I don't remember having, or knowing about, such wonderful fiction when I was a child. The story was engrossing, touching, humourous and timeless. What a trite word, timeless, but it is the best that I have at this moment.

I hijacked my sister's Kindle and bought this book for her (I pushed the buttons and she paid for it). She too found it enjoyable and she like many of the other astute readers out there got the vampire gig from the get-go. At any rate, Bod's story was meaningful to me even as an "adult" and use the term loosely. I rambled enough about this during the book club discussion so I am going to leave it at that.

Total thumbs up and this probably one of the few I have read so far that I would recommend to just about anyone.


As it turns out I have read 10 books since my last post and have managed to write not one single review. This, I think, may make me the worst Cannonball reader of the bunch. In a sad attempt to rectify the situation I am going to sit here, playing hooky (kind of) from work and knock these bad boys out. I am going to get all 10 off my stack of to dos so I can finish the last half of this challenge with a clean slate. So faithful reader (hellooooo anyone there?) here I go.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book 11. The Graveyard Book

I just finished and I just finished crying. Maybe the end hit me so hard because it is my birthday and all I can think about with the passage of time are the things I haven't done and probably never will do. Not to mention the stupid mistakes that I have made. Though without them, I wouldn't be me but that doesn't stop me from obsessing. What a great book. I need to let it resonate for a day before I finish this. Sigh.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book #10 The Nanny Diaries Part 2

I really tend to publish these reviews in bulk. With that said, there isn't too much to say about this book. I read the first Nanny Diaries when it came out several years ago. Kind of at the height of the "chick-lit" (which always sounds sexual to me) phenomenon. I remember it as being very entertaining and "informative" concerning the lives of Upper East Side families. I guess that was before Gossip Girl (not that I watch that trash... faithfully).

So this book picks up several years later after Nan has married, moved abroad, and finally settled with her Husband in NYC. In the past I have bitched and moaned about authors who insist upon recapping the previous book in a serious in the first two chapters. I am here to rescind that gripe. The author (too lazy to get the Kindle to figure out her name) makes vague references to events in the past but doesn't flesh them out. Which would be all fine and dandy if some of those events weren't integral to the plot in this book. At any rate, Nan's husband goes to Africa for business leaving her alone in their under-renovation Brownstone. Late one evening her charge from her Nannying day shows up drunk and despondent on her front stoop. He lays into her for the way she left (something to do with a confession spoken into a stuffed Nanny-cam bear) and promptly passes out. Hijinx ensue. Seriously. She somehow ends up in charge not only of the 17 year old but of his pre-teen brother Stilton whom the parents have also managed to treat as an object to be had rather than a child. I don't know, other people come and go, some such business about a helicopter pad at the private school at which she is employed (doing some type of vague staff liaison job), Ponzi schemes make an appearance as well as faking cancer to avoid a scandal. Snooty friends from private school, a trip to Hamptons, inappropriate groping by an entitled husband, and a discount Miro (Rothko? Neither? Don't remember) round out the story.

I can usually plow through these types of books in an afternoon. For some reason, this just didn't hold my interest. I couldn't remember character names, I had to go back and reread to figure out what the hell was going on when I would pick up the book after a few days. The sentences were oddly constructed (not that mine prove to be much better). It all seemed kind of trite. Kind of already done on Gossip Girl or other upper east side trash shows.

It wasn't bad, it wasn't good. If you have read the first, you may as well read the second. If you watch Gossip Girl, you will have heard it all before and quite frankly better. So, thumbs neutral.

Book 9. Lolita

I could have sworn that I read this book in it's entirety years ago, and perhaps I did but I just don't remember all of it. Well, either way, I have read it again. I think that when Humbert started to lose it on his final cross country trip with Dolly I started to shut down. Once she was gone and things became a bit more coherent I was able to power through and finish it (in the nick of time I might add). I found the end note by Nabakov to be more interesting than the manuscript itself. Or at the very least a wonderful addition to the story. Was Humbert truly sorry for the life (lives) that he ruined? Was he truly mad? Was Lolita's behaviour a result of his affections or used to gain his affections? It has been so many years that I have been out of school and have "needed" to read a book for more than the passing of time and enjoyment that this was a good exercise for me. I do look forward to the discussion tomorrow.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Book 8. Pirate Latitudes

Not really sure where I have been but as it turns out Michael Crichton has died. A quick scan of Wikipedia tells me that this happened November of 2008. Hmm. Completely missed it, but then that may because I have read absolutely nothing that he has written. ER was the only acquaintance I had with him and that was years and years ago when I watched that. So yeah, I have never seen Jurassic Park, sue me. What led me to Pirate Latitudes? I honestly have no idea. Maybe it was on some Kindle list? New releases? All I know is that unlike most of the things I buy (I am a total Kindle Hoarder, like what they are going to do stop selling certain books? Are the digital version is going to sell out? Jesus, get a grip) I read this right away. I must have been in the mood for some pirates, sea monsters, cannibals, and corrupt government officials.

This was good stuff. You know how some books make you want to hop in your time machine and in this case your sex change machine and be the main character in the book? Or even a supporting character? I totally wanted to do that. I wanted to be a pirate in the 17th century. These weren’t Disneyfied pirates, they were womanizing killers and thieves. I don’t know if it was the plot, the descriptions, or a combination of the two that made me want to be there. Whatever it was, it made for a really good read.

The book starts in 1665 in Port Royal, Jamaica. The governor, Sir James Almont is on his way to attend the hanging of a man convicted of being a pirate. In this colony privateering is a completely acceptable profession, but pirating will get a guy hung. The difference between the two is all semantics. A merchant ship arrives in the bay carrying Almont’s new secretary Hacklett, his wife, and group of female English convicts meant to be wives for the men on the island. Almont hears that on the trip to Jamaica the people aboard the Godspeed saw a Spanish galleon at anchor in the bay of Spanish controlled island. A plan is born. Enter Hunter, a well respected privateer with a small sloop. At the behest of Almont he gathers together a crew and they set off to capture a seemingly uncapturable Spanish treasure ship. In the course of the narrative, Hunter and his crew are captured, there is sword fighting, cannonball fire, sinking ships, treasure, sea monsters, cannibals, oh my. When he and his crew finally return to Port Royal the situation is not as they had hoped.

Admittedly, at the first sighting of the sea monster all I could think was oh crap, this is turning into some weirdo scifi gig. It conjured memories of that horrid made for tv movie about the giant squid. What the hell was that tripe called? Not important. I also kept thinking that this was total Hollywood material that would no doubt be presented as a summer block buster riddled with CGI and some milquetoast actor as Hunter. I hope that this scenario does not play out.

There was bit more blood and guts than I accustomed to in my usual fictional fare. On the flip side there was a good deal of pirate superstition and nautical folklore. Which I find to be interesting. All in all, a really good adventure story. In the future I do not think I will be sliding into any other Crichton works only because I don’t find the subject matter particularly intriguing. As it stands, Pirate Latitudes: A Novel gets the thumbs up.

Hell. Book 7. No really, the title is Hell.

So I finished this sometime in mid Dececmeber, but as usual, I put off the reivew. I have found that I have been to busy at work flirting with a Canadian over email and reading Pajiba to write the review, oh and do any actual work.

At any rate, from what I remember Robert Olen Butler’s Hell is well written and quite funny. Hell, in his imagination, is a thoroughly modern place with all the amenities of today’s society. It seems everyone is there from the obvious, Stalin, Hitler, Henry the VIII, to the less obvious Bill Clinton (who is compelled to pull down his pants everytime a woman enters his hotel room), Shakespeare (his writing is doomed by the Blue Screen of Death), and a manical Nixon as a chauffer. I seem to remember the Bee Gees being there. Huh.

So the premise is this, Hatcher was a newscaster in life and is now one in hell. He lands the interview of the his afterlife with Satan for his on going series “Why Do You Think You Are Here?”. Though this interview is just a small portion of the book, I found it to be the absolute funniest part. To aviod giving too much information, I will go on to say that as a result of this interview Hatcher figures out that he still retains his own free will and that his thoughts are his own, Satan is not in on everthing. From this discovery he begins to formulate a way out of Hell. With the help of Virgil, Anne Boylen, his exwives, and many other guest appearances he eventally finds what he is looking for.

Again, engaging, well written (unlike this review), and somewhat thought provoking. From Bulter’s comments on society, to the “cameos” this is one of those books that you read the frist time for the content and the second time to pick up all of the humor you missed on the first pass. Kind reminds me of An Evening of Long Goodbyes and Good Omens (funniest book ever, and I missed 99% of the British Humor).

So yeah, that is it on this one. I would read Olen’s other titles. In short, thumbs up – from my perspective. Oh yeah, one problem. The Kindle version was kind of jacked up. The ‘y’s were cut off at the bottom and would show up in random places leading to confusing formatting at times. And that is my only gripe. On this topic.