Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sundays at Tiffany's

Sundays at Tiffany's, James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet

Jane is the daughter of the beautiful and uber successful Vivianne Margeaux.  They live in New York City where Jane is neglected, but privileged.  She also has an imaginary friend named Michael, who helps her cope with her loneliness and insecurity.

But imaginary friends can only stay with children until their 9th birthday, and on Jane's 9th birthday Michael says goodbye, promising that she won't remember anything about him the next morning.

23 years later and Jane is working for her mother's production company, and producing a movie about her imaginary friend Michael; whom she never forgot.  Michael finds himself back in New York on sabbatical while he's between charges (kids) and runs into Jane.

This book was really sweet.  It was just a simple fairy tale.  There was an unnecessary love scene that kind of threw me, and the resolution with the mother fell flat to me.  But I liked the magic of it all, and there were some cute scenes.  I'm glad I read it at Christmas because I'm a little more accepting of saccharine sweet this time of year.

All in, I'm glad I read it.  Though, on a side note, what the heck is up with the cover art?  Makes no sense, dark haired woman hugging a kid?  Who looks like a little boy?  What?  The women in the story (Jane and her mother) are blond.

Also, this is a James Patterson and book.  Which, when I see those, I always think the second person wrote most of it, but put the bigger novelists name on it to sell more books.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed, Emily Giffin

Rachael is turning 30 and is a single, working lawyer in New York.  By 30 she thought she'd be married with a baby, or two, living in the suburbs.  These are the thoughts she's having at her thirtieth birthday party which ends with her and her best friend's fiancee stumbling to her apartment and beginning a summer long affair.

All the while, he's still engaged.

I listened to this audiobook so I think that colors my opinion differently than if I had read it.  The narrators personal opinion of the characters comes through in how they read their voices.

My first problem?  How are these girls still friends?  I mean I have had relationships, even best friends, that are toxic and negative.  But not much past high school, and definitely not past college.  Sure, you do not have to like everything about a person to be their friend, and everyone is flawed, but how are Rachael and Darcy still friends when they so clearly do not think very highly of each other?

Since this is told from Rachael's perspective, it's her opinion that Darcy is selfish, bossy, super competitive with her, and shallow.  I'm sure in the next book (Something Blue) we will hear that Rachael is a no fun, boring, wuss.

In truth?  They are both awful people.  At the beginning I thought, okay, Dex knew Rachael first, he had fallen in love with her over time, that's why the cheating happened.  He'll break up with Darcy, and that will be that.  Surely they wont continue such a lurid affair.  Surely they won't plan to meet and sneak behind his fiancee's and her best friend's back.

But they did.  The more they did, the less I liked them.  And neither one showed much remorse.  Darcy was selfish and manipulative, but these two are supposed to love her inspite those things, not do this to her.  If they had changed toward her, the noble thing, the thing a good person (that they both profess to be) would do, is tell her.  But they don't.

Inspite of these things, I did not dislike this book.  It was funny at moments and I did like some of the supporting characters even though the lead three really are sort of awful.  They didn't start out that way, and until about the last two hours of the book (so last 200 pages, maybe?) I was pretty enthralled.  And I did go get through it quickly.

So I would give this a three out of 4.  Worth reading.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Almost Moon

The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold

Helen Knightley has killed her mother, and she's not sure how she feels about it.  The next 300 pages attempt to tell us how abused(?) Helen is at the hands of her mother, Clair, who was agoraphobic, and how traumatized she is after her father killed himself.

Sebold is a traumatized person herself, clearly, because statments made throughout the book - all children want to kill their parents, all girls fantasize about cutting up their mothers, etc - just sort of point to someone who has a disconnect from reality.  All children do not want to kill their parents.  I would say for most, that thought never enters their mind.  In fact, I would probably say one of my worst fears as a child was that one or both of my parents would not come home.

Sebold wrote "The Lovely Bones" and I read that and it was good.  I can't say I enjoyed it because it's dark and twisted and parts of it are dumb.  But it was infinitely perferable to this.  Not a single character in this novel is worth knowing or reading about.  They are all bad people.

And I grew weary of the way Sebold writes things.  She writes sentences that probably make perfect sense to her, but absolutely none to anyone else.  Probably because none of us fantasize about killing our parents, it's like an inside joke for the sociopathic.

In short, this book was awful.  It was sad, it was wierd, it was dark, and it didn't even end, really.  I'm assuming Helen decided not to kill herself and to do her stint in jail.  And I never appareciate authors that use the F word so often.  It's brash and harsh and feels mean and jarring.  I don't like it.  I'm glad I got this from the library and didn't pay good money for it.

There was not one good take away from this book.  Other than it ended, under 300 pages, thankfully.

PS - it's called The Almost Moon because her father tells her once that even if you can almost all of the moon, the rest of it is still there.  So you have to deal with what you have, the almost part, and keep remembering that the whole moon is there.  This is in reference to his mentally ill wife.  They can see almost all of her, but they keep going because she's whole somewhere.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I'm actually on chapter 23 of this, but it's my fourth time through.  And I'm listening to it again; why read when Jim Dale will so excellently read it to me?

Anyway I'm not really trying to write a review here.  I want to note what parts of the book I'd like to see in the movie, though I'm pretty sure most will be left out.

Here's what I'm convinced, based on previews, we will see:
1. The Order taking Harry away from Privet Drive.  I'm wondering though what that will look like?  I saw a preview that looks like Hagrid driving Harry through a city street.  Definitely not through the air.  Will they do the 7 Harry's?  I'd like to see that.

2. Harry's Birthday the day before the wedding.

3. The Wedding and the conversation with Doge.  Which, after checking IMDB, he's listed as a character, so hopefully this happens.

4. Disapperating to that street in London, which I believe I've seen previews for, so that happens.  Does the cafe get destroyed though?  I hope so.

5. The conversation with Creacher where we learn about RAB.  I believe this is in the movie because of what JK said when they wanted to cut Creacher out of the 5th movie and she told them not to as he had an important role in the 7th.  I think the part about the letter from Lily will be cut.

6. That last sentence makes me think most of the backstory about Dumbledore and his sister and brother is probably cut.  Because - well - they have to cut something.  So how do they work out the end with Hogwarts?  And the painting?  So many questions!

7. How much camping?  The Doe has to be there.  That's like, pivotal.  I want to see Hermoine yell at Ron when he comes back.  I know the part at Godric's Hollow has to be there.  Crucial.  And Xeno's house.  I think I saw that.  And Shell Cottage, I saw what I think is that house.

7a. Harry say the taboo name and them getting caught by the snatchers.  I'm reading this right now I want to see this.  And I want to all the Voldy parts because that's interesting.

8.  And the Malfoy's.  Hermoine getting tortured, Ron yelling ... that's the part I'm at in the book.  So I'm going to stop my list there.  After I see the movie on the 20th I want to come back and say what was shown and what wasn't.  Hence, this list.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Happy Ever After

Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

Fourth one in the series.  Parker's story.  Probably my least favorite of the bunch.  Got so tired of all the wedding details.  Redundant.  BORING.  And, the book is over, and we don't get to see them all married off?  I mean really what was the point?

I'm glad this series is over.  I'm wondering if she's going to continue to do series books in the publisher's edition size or if she'll go back to mass market paperback.  I'm a little irritated with how expensive these were.  Especially considering how forumulaic they are.

But, I mean, come on.  What was I expecting?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

House Rules

House Rules, by Jodi Picoult

I read this for a book club that I was recently invited to join (yea!).  Otherwise, based on my review of My Sister's Keeper, I don't think I would have picked up another Picoult book.

Jacob Hunt has Asbergers, and acts out in ways that are different and hard to understand.  His mother has been a single parent since her second son, Theo, was just a few months old and her husband walked out on them.  Jacob loves the show Crimebusters (read: CSI) and forensics.  He sets up crime scenes for his mom to solve and religiously watches the show.

But Jacob's social skills therapists turns up missing, and is found dead.  And Jacob admits to moving her and setting up the crime scene.  He's charged with her murder and the book really is on how the justice system fails people that don't communicate the way "normal" people do, and how they can't really get a fair trial.

My issues:
1. This is so much like My Sisters Keeper it made my eyes hurt.  Jacob needs 100% of mom's attention, Theo the younger son acts out by breaking into houses and stealing things.  (MSK - Kate needs 100% of mom's attention, older brother acts out by setting fires around the city).  Even the writing was the same - different chapters from each persons perspective.

2.  The different perspectives - I don't need to see how EVERY conversation is viewed by EVERY character.  I mean the book could have been 300 pages shorter if she would have stopped doing that.

3.  I get that Jacob has to do the same things every day.  I get that he eats colored foods on certain days.  I get it.  I get that he got in trouble in school for hurting that one girl.  I get it.  Quit telling me.  Quit hitting me over the head with it.  This was just bad editing.

4. I don't think she understands Asberger's or Autism very well.  I know she researched it.  BUt like one reviewer said on Amazon, it's like she took EVERY symptom and put them in Jacob, which doesn't really make sense.  I have a relative that has Asberger's and he has some of the symptoms she describes, but if he had the others, well he'd have Autism and not Asbergers.  They are not the same.  They are actually on two different ends.  I just don't think there are people that have both.  But maybe I'm wrong.

5.  The ending.  Oh mylanta how ridiculous.  It just ends.  Done.  No resolution.  No answer to any question at all.  Not even one of the strings are tied up.  Does Emma have a relationship with Oliver?  Does Jacob's Dad remain in the picture?  DOES JACOB GET CONVICTED OF MURDER?  Does he go to jail?  Does Theo get in trouble for breaking into houses?  What happens?  Seriously.  Maybe don't tie it all up, but you can't write nearly 600 pages (I mean dude, that took me a long time to read, I have a small baby - finding time to read is hard) and then NOT TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS.  I feel cheated.

6.  It was really hard for me to read this book.  I don't like anything that's about bad things happening to children.  I don't like thinking about Autism and the spectrum.  I kept looking at Grady ... and it just makes my heart constrict and breath stop.

7. And vaccines.  Experts and doctors can tell parents all day long that getting your children vaccinated is the best thing and that there is no link between vaccines and autism, and people don't listen.  Pop culture books like this one and the one written by Jenny McCarthy come out and people rave and want to stop getting their kids vaccinated.  I almost returned it when I got to the parts where she blamed Jacobs condition on his vaccinations.  She says it over and over again.  Even in my book club, where most of us have kids under a year old, there were moms that said they were scared of getting their kids vaccinated.  I had to shake my head and point out that illnesses that are perfectly preventable are coming back and KILLING kids because people aren't getting vaccinated.

I don't like putting chemicals in G's body either.  But if they keep him safe?  Babies that get the flu can die.  Babies are dying all over from Whooping Cough because parents aren't getting boosters.

Those were my issues.  I kept reading because I wanted to see the train wreck.  And there wasn't a crash.  We came slowly up to the top and then it never went down.  It's like the train is still stopped at the top of the hill.

Some in the book club think that we'll hear what happened to Jacob in another book.  But I don't think I'll be buying another Picoult book.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

It's been a year since we last left Kalle Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander after their investigation into the Vanger family and the Werrenstrom affair (The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo).  Lisbeth, nursing a wounded heart has fled the country and is running around the world.

Blomkvist is still helping manage Millenium, and has taken on a new book to publish and new expose that will reveal how bad the sex trafficking trade is in Sweden, and how much government officials are involved.

When the writer of the new book and his girlfriend are murdered, and Lisbeth's fingerprints are found on the gun, she is the immediate suspect due to her convoluted and disasterous past.  She has very few friends but Blomkvist believes her to be innocent.

Thus starts his research into who the real murder is, and his hunt for both Salander and the killer.

This book is much faster paced then the first one.  Mostly because all the characters involved in the Vanger family just confused me.  There were a lot of needless characters in this book too (lots of police offers and investigators that had no purpose) but the action moved things along.  Salander is nonexistent in part three of the book which is drives you on because you really want to know her side.  But she doesn't just come out and tell us, she never does.

I'm interested to see how the third book wraps this all up.  The sex trafficking has been a theme in both the first two and I suspect it will all be revealed in the final chapter.  At least, I hope so.  Lots of what's written in these books is based on real crime statistics for Sweden.  Who knew they had such a human trafficking problem?  Or a domestic abuse problem?

Will read the next one.  Too bad Larsson is dead.  His books have already been made into films in Sweden and Hollywood is making their own versions too.  I hope the members of his estate are putting the money to good use.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Savor the Moment

Savor the Moment, Nora Roberts

The third in the Brides Quartet series.  This is Laurel's story, the cake maker of the four, and it follows the method of all of Roberts books.  Couple banters, realizes they like each other, fall in love, have some sort of falling out, make amends, get married.  If there were later books, we'd see them all getting pregnant.

I will pick up the fourth one, because I'm addicted to series'.  And I like all the characters.


The conflict in these is just so lame.  And frankly, I'm tired of hearing all about how great these women are at their jobs.  I'd like to see Laurel drop a cake, or Emma clip the bloom off a rose accidentally or Mac miss the groom kiss the bride or SOMETHING normal.  These women are all supposedly super perfect, never fight, even in high stress situations and they talk about each other funny.  I have friends, but I don't sit around with them talking about how much I love them.

Mac's mom as the only bad guy is just old.  I hope the 4th one gets away from that but I don't see that happening.

Still ... fans of Nora Roberts will pick it up and read it quickly because it's easy and fun.  The next one comes out in November and is Parker's story.  So far, Malcolm is the most intriguing of all the male leads.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Girl Who Chased the Moon

The Girl Who Chased the Moon, by Sarah Addison Allen

17-year-old Emily comes to the small town her mother was raised in shortly after her mother's death.  She will be living with her grandfather in the room where her mother grew up, with wallpaper that changes with the inhabitants moods!  What she finds when she gets to the small town is that her mother wasn't the same person in her childhood as she was as her mother, and the townspeople don't have very fond memories of her.  She becomes friends with her neighbor Julia, and the teenage son of the family that her mother allegedly wronged.

I love Sarah Addison Allen's books.  They are so fun and whimsical.  If you read Garden Spells or the Sugar Queen, you have to read this.  It's really excellent, light summer fare with a little fairy tale touch.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Year End Wrap Up

This is a really belated post.  But ... my literary doings for 2009.

Books read: 44
Challenges started: 5
Challenges completed: 3

I read most of the books that I did read in the first half of the year (January - June).  From that point onward, I fell off the bookshelf, so to speak.  I didn't read much of anything in October or November.  But, to my credit, I am having a baby.  And I'm not listing on here all the baby books I've been reading (okay there really aren't that many - but I've been reading some).

I'd like to read more than that in 2010, but ... I imagine the books I'll be reading will be more little one focused.  I'm okay with that.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Steig Larson

From Good Reads:
An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson's The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pieced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

I read this book on my kindle.  It was not until I was about 50% in that I got really into it.  There was just so much back story.  So much build up.  So much character explanation (I still don't have all the Vanger family members straight).  Lisbeth Salander is fascinating and my favorite character.  I pretty much knew who-dun-it (or had a good suspicion) by about 50% in.  There were loops that were thrown and clues that were followed and I flew through the last few chapters.

The side story of Blomkvist's libel case and his magazine made for long chapters at the end.  I did not agree with Salander's method of justice, but for her character I do believe it fit and I think more details and more information are going to be introduced in the second and third books.  I wish there had been some closure for the families involved, it's alluded that there is, but I wanted to read it and see it.

I am very interested in the second novel, with the way the first one ended.  Lisbeth's story is very good.  This started off slow but was very, very good at the end.  Dark, twisted and a little scary at times, but very good.