Monday, January 3, 2011

Mrs. B's 2010 Book Reviews: March

Although I certainly read a lot of books in March (six), the books themselves were mostly disappointing.
S is For Silence by Sue Grafton (CD): Didn't Much Care For/2 Stars
It's been a long while since I've read Grafton. I believe I got through "C" in her series featuring Kinsey Millhone back in the early 90s. I enjoyed them; mostly due to the character of Kinsey; a very no-nonsense practical woman with some interesting personality quirks.

Not much has changed in Kinsey's life at "S"; even though in real life, it's been over 10 years, in hers, barely a few years have passed (still in 1989, I think). This fact made listening to "S" quite fun; no cell phones in her life; certainly no Palm Pilots, text messaging; in fact, I don't believe email was even mentioned.

The private investigation in "S": is not too exciting; a woman disappeared over 30 years ago and Kinsey is hired by her daughter to find her because the daughter (who was 7 at the time of her mother's disappearance) is stuck and can't move on. The daughter's life is a mess; she needs to know if in fact her mother left her or is dead. What made it a tad more interesting was the tale is told from several different perspectives in two different time frames (the few days around the time the lady disappears in the 1950s and the "present" time of 1989).

When all was said and done, however, I found the ending/revolution of the book rather lame and not terribly convincing. In fact, after the last CD was over, I felt like I must have missed something because there were still several questions in my mind about what really happened. Perhaps this was due to the fact I was driving and may have been thinking about lane changes or pulling off to get gas when the important revelation occurred, but, I don't think so.

I probably will pick up more of this series to listen to in the car, however, because they are readily available at the local library, they don't have to be read in any particular order, I was digging the nostalgia of being back in the late 1980s, and it will be fun (going forward from "S") to see if Kinsey can figure out how to use a Blackberry! :-)
South of Broad by Pat Conroy: Didn't Much Care For/2 Stars
It began and ended well. I very much enjoy Conroy's writing and loved reading about one of my favorite cities of all time, Charleston. Still, the tale itself was a bit ridiculous. Is this how the very rich of Charleston society really live? I found it hard to believe.
The Law of Nines by Terry Goodkind: Hated It/1 Star
First off, I had no idea this book was going to be connected to Goodkind's very long "Sword of Truth" series. I thought it was a stand alone novel. Wrong. Maybe this is one reason why I didn't like it at all; because I was expecting something totally different?

Well, what it IS is a 2nd rate version re-telling (in essence) of the relationship between the two primary characters in the SOT series. It is in no way written as well, plus, he DID connect this book with his SOT series (the two characters in this book have the same last names as the two primary characters in the series). Worse still (and the final straw), I think I ended up finding out things that occurred in the last few books of the SOT series that I didn't know because I haven't yet read those books.

Thanks A LOT.

There should have been a spoiler alert on the book flap.

What? Did he need money or something? I would have thought he could have come up with something new. Really disappointed in this book.

Goodkind left it wide open for a sequel. Suffice it to say, I won't be reading it.
I Feel Bad About My Neck by Norah Ephron: Solid/Good/3 Stars
Although I am not yet the age of "the certain age" Ephron describes in her collection of essays, I found many of them quite amusing; notably, the one about what women have to do to "maintain" their appearance and the title essay (which is mostly about body parts women don't like overly much as they get older).

A quick, fun read.
My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (Book Club Selection): Didn't Much Care For/2 Stars
The subject matter of this book (a younger sibling being genetically created (AKA Savior Sibling) for the primary purpose of medically assisting an older, sick sibling) is indeed thought provoking, whether you agree with it or not.

I initially found this book very readable; in fact, I got through the over 400 pages in record time. This doesn't mean I thought it was "all good"; there were several aspects of it that I found contrived and others completely irrelevant and still others really, really trite.

However, I absolutely HATED the ending; it was entirely implausible! And, having learned in book discussion that the author knew from the beginning how it would end, well, let's just say I felt "had". Sort of like when you are seeing a guy that you know is no good and will ultimately hurt you but you can't help yourself. Then, when he dumps you, you're like, "Crap, I KNEW this was going to happen, why didn't I listen to myself?"

I rented the movie version of the book and have to say this was one (unusual) case where i thought that the movie was better than the book.

One interesting side bar; in our discussion, we talked about the concept of "well written" and that, just because a book is on the best seller list, that doesn't mean it is "well written". In general, I'm not a book snob. I hold to the belief that one person's junk in another's treasure; similar to "Any wine is good wine if YOU like it". So, as long as a person is reading, I'm not personally going to judge what they read, what they like or don't like, etc.

So, is "My Sister's Keeper" well written? Yes, I think it is because it was a page turner and it kept me involved. I just did not care for parts of it, mostly, the stupid ending.
American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld (CD): Really Good/4 Stars
I was a bit surprised that I liked this novel as much as I did, especially because it is almost certainly (albeit somewhat loosely) based on the life of former First Lady, Laura Bush and I'm definitely not a fan of W. However, from the outset, I found it thoroughly interesting and engaging, although I'll admit I found the first part through the middle end more to my liking than when the main character (Alice) and her husband (Charlie) are in the White House towards the end of the tale.

Why did I give this a 4 instead of my typical 3? Because it kept me company on the long drive to/from FL; I was so pulled in to it, the time (and drive) seemed to fly by. Also, I thought the author did a fine job of creating and developing the character of Alice, whether or not she is supposed to be Laura Bush. I genuinely liked Alice (I can't say the same about Charlie, go figure!)

Mrs. B

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