Thursday, January 7, 2010

Mrs. B's 2009 Book Reviews -- 2 Stars (Part Three)

Note: I apologize for the strange format. Blogger has apparently gone ape-shit this afternoon!

Apparently, I read a lot more 2 star books than I realized. Or else I'm a REALLY harsh critic. I'll keep these brief so I can wrap the 2 star series up and move on to books I think are worth reading!
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (Book Club Selection)
This was complete and total fluff with a completely rushed and trite ending. I can't believe she's written three, if not four, more in this series (this was the first). Everyone in our club thought it was fairly well silly. The plot? Who cares. The only reason I didn't give it 1 star is that it WAS easy to read and I read it quickly.
The Story Sisters by Alice Hoffman
This is the 3rd dud of hers I've read in as many years. Hoffman really likes to write about sisters/mothers/daughters and did it excellently with "Practical Magic". I think that may have been her last really decent book (maybe her first, too). Anyway; this is about three sisters with the last name of Story. One wild and carefree, one smart and studious and one, well, what do you think? Somewhere in the middle. I think I'm giving up on Hoffman unless the next one I read has nothing to do with women.
The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erikson
It seems lately that respected historians, previously noted for their excellent non-fictional accounts of various important figures, have taken to writing historical fiction about these same subjects. I've read many books by Erickson about The Tudors. She also wrote an excellent accounting of the life of Marie Antoinette; "To The Scaffold". Now, she's turned to historical fiction and, although the work was relatively engaging and I made my way through it quickly, it simply was not as enjoyable to me as her other books. But, I got a bit tired of the bodice-busting writing style; I almost felt like I was reading Barbara Cartland. I know a lot about Catherine Parr (the last wife of Henry VIII) and her story is somewhat sad and tragic, even the non-fictionalized version. But, this telling was a bit over the top and the ending, well, all I can say is PULEEZE! I'm fairly sure these fine historians turned historical fiction writers are so doing to both jump onto the Tudor fever bandwagon the show "The Tudors" has brought into town. I've noticed re publishings of books about The Tudors written decades ago. They are also, likely trying to compete with those writers who have become known for their historical fiction accounts of these subjects (Phillippa Gregory comes to mind). Anyway, this book is sort of Tudor mind candy. I'm glad I only paid $6 for it (hardcover) in the bargain bin at B&N!
Something for the Pain by Paul Austin (Book Club Selection)
I thought this was just ok. I wanted to like it more since it is a) for book club and b) Durham Reads selection for 2009.
But, I had a real hard time "liking" the main character.
Austin writes about his experiences as an ER doc in a local Durham hospital (never named, but I know which one it is). It is supposed to be a self-examination, I think, of how one maintains one's compassion in an ER where there are routine visits from crack-heads, criminals, illiterates, hypochondriacs and other irritants on top of dealing with a wife with small children (one of them with Down Syndrome). Although I found some parts interesting (especially as Mr. B had spent a night in the ER this past June), in the end, I just didn't connect with Austin. I know, I know, if he were my doctor in the ER, I wouldn't care if I liked him, I would just want him to take excellent care of me. But, since I was taking the time to read this book, MY time; I was annoyed that I didn't find him that engaging.

Whew! That's it for the 2 stars!

Mrs. B

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