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?