Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mrs. B's 2010 Book Reviews: November

Shadow Tag by Louise Erdrich: Didn't Much Care For/2 Stars
I liked the concept of this book; a woman discovers that her over bearing and controlling husband has been reading her diary. So, she begins to write a shadow diary; her real one (kept locked in a safe deposit box in a bank) and continues to write in the old one, knowing that her husband is reading it.

Her plan, it seems, is to write lies in order to drive him to divorcing her.

Throw into the mix three somewhat odd children, the fact both the woman and her husband are drunks and Indians, (which seemed terribly stereotypical to me) and quite a few scenes of somewhat violent sex, and you have a book which I pretty much became disgusted with.

Maybe I missed the point?

I kept reading it to get to the end, which, BTW, was not terribly satisfying.

Innocent by Scott Turrow (CD): Solid/Good/3 Stars
20 or so years after the events in "Presumed Innocent", Turow is back with another courtroom drama surrounding Rusty Sabich and arch enemy Tommy Molto. Sabich, now a judge, is accused of murdering his wife of 40-something years.

Sabich's defense attorney from "Presumed Innocent" is back, too, to defend Sabich. There are a few new characters who add spice to the tale (Rusty's hottie son Nat, to name one), and, as can be expected with Turow, lots of twists and turns.

I can't say that I thought this was quite as good as "Presumed Innocent", but, it was definitely worth listening too. I will also freely admit that I got the ending entirely wrong!

I couldn't help but picture Harrison Ford as Sabich (since he played him in the movie version of "Presumed" so wonder if there will be a movie sequel? Alas, the most excellent actor who played Sandy Stern, Raul Julia, has passed from us, so, maybe not.

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (CD): Solid/Good/3 Stars
Initially a really neat concept. Daniel has lived since the 500s AD. Every time he dies, he's reborn into another body but yet he remembers everything that has gone before in all of his other lives.

Most importantly, he remembers Sophia, the literal love of all of his lives. She is reborn, too; problem is, she never remembers HIM. There are other "souls" he recognizes throughout his lives; a sister in one life is a wife in another; his mother in one life is his mother again many lives later, etc. Also, his evil brother Joaquin pops up in several lives, always evil, and always somehow attached to Sophia. With the exception of another exceptional soul named Ben, Daniel appears to be the only soul who remembers everything.

The story is told alternatively by Daniel (in his various lives) and the present day Sophia, now named Lucy (a high school then later college student in Virginia).

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this...up until the last disc when it became, IMHO, relatively stupid. I also didn't care a hoot for the ending...left wide open for another book. Maybe this is because Brashares is used to writing several books in a series? She's best known for the YA series "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants".

Anyway, a fun read.

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #5) by Rick Riordan: Solid/Good/3 Stars
All in all, this was a fun series to read. This is supposedly the last one, however, it was inferred at the end of the book that there may be another round of books involving demi-Gods from Camp Half Blood.

This particular book was not, perhaps, as interesting as the 4th in the series but it was entertaining and a quick read. Plus, I love Greek Gods and Greek mythology, so, it's all cool with me!

I note the author has written "adult" books; may be worth a look-see.

Finally, the characters in this series, similar to the Harry Potter books, grow up. In the first book, they are 12, in this, they are 16. So, then, does their thoughts, actions, antics, etc., "age" from what a 12 year old would do to what a 16 year old would do. I noticed in this book, more human character were offed than in the prior books. However, after reading "The Hunger Games" trilogy, I have to say, everything in this series is quite tame by comparison!

I'd give the series a sound 3!

Mystic River by Dennis Lehane: Totally Awesome/5 Stars
An absolute power house of a book. The characters will stay with you long after you've read the last page, as will the tragedies and ironies of life this story illustrates.

Probably one of few cases, too, where the movie and the book do each other justice; the movie, in my opinion, was perfectly cast.

Now that I've read the book, I want to go re-watch the movie!

I know, this is not really an actual review of the book itself, but, it's all I want to say.

Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb (Book Club Selection): Really Liked/4 Stars
This was such a sweet funny book. It made me laugh out loud in certain places, no mean feat, that. For this only, it deserves the 4-star rating I am giving it!

Taking place in the mid to late 50s, it's the tale of Felix Funicello (3rd cousin to THE famous Mouseketeer and Bikini Babe of the 50s, Annette) and his 5th grade class, his family, and what it's like when you start to "grow up". All of this plays out in a short period of time; late November-Christmas, and revolves (mostly) around the preparation for and production of the school's annual Christmas pageant. There is a delightful sidebar segment about Felix's mother attending a bake-off contest hosted by none other than our 40th President (well, quite a bit before he was, of course!)

Although it is a work of fiction, my guess is there is some of the author in the character of Felix; certainly, most of us will recognize some of our own classmates, family and friends in many of the other characters.

Added bonus. It's a short, quick read. Perfect for the busy holiday season; one can read it waiting for cookies to come out of the oven, or while in line at the post office!

The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld (CD): Didn't Much Care For/2 Stars
Ok "slice of life" book about Hannah aged 14 (or so) through late 20s struggling to handle teen angst, oddball relatives, going to a shrink, college, boyfriends (or lack thereof) and an unrequited love.

Nowhere near as good as "American Wife", which I read earlier this year.

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