Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Mrs. B's 2010 Book Reviews: December

I know some of you find these entries boring, but, hey, whatever! With this one, I'm finally done, anyway! BTW, I've been told by some that my reviews are funny

The Murder of King Tut: The Plot to Kill the Child King - A Nonfiction Thriller by James Patterson (CD): Hated It/1 Star

Oh,where do I begin to chronicle how stupid this book was? I'd give it a big fat GOOSE EGG, if it were allowed!

Seriously, had it been an actual book instead of a (borrowed from the library) CD, I would have thrown this piece of trash across the room.

"So", my husband said to me, "If you dislike James Patterson so much" (which I do, I truly do) "why did you even check this out?"

Well, let's see.

Momentary lapse of reason, perhaps?


1st. I'll never forget studying ancient Egypt in 6th grade. I even made a pyramid with a little mummy inside as a class project. So, I've been entranced with it ever since. I also saw the traveling Tut show in Chicago many, many moons ago.

2nd. This book was advertised as NONFICTION, so, I thought, it would be NONFICTION. Meaning, FACTUAL.

3rd. It was short.

This "nonfiction" book is laid out in three periods of time. Ancient Egypt (1300s BC), early 20th (1900s-1930s) and present day.

So, Tut's time (and a bit before and a bit after), Howard Carter (the dude who eventually discovered Tut's tomb) and Patterson's.

Patterson talks about his "great idea" to solve the mystery of who murdered King Tut. He gets his publisher to agree and then sends the guy who co-authored the book off to Egypt to do research (it seems Patterson never gets off his butt from behind his desk in his office in his lovely FL home where he is, as he constantly reminds us, surrounded by manuscripts of all his other multitude of projects).

From what I can tell, there really wasn't much new discovered. All of the stuff regarding Carter is well documented. The speculations about what happened to Tut are as well.

Somehow, though, Patterson weaves this decidedly NOT nonfiction tale about Tut, his wife (also his half-sister), his royal scribe and his general; in addition to Tut's mistress and various other characters who I'd like to know how the hell Patterson knew, in a factual way, what they did or didn't do. Based on some drawings on the walls of Tut's tomb?

Patterson lost all credibility in my opinion when he told, in great detail, about Tut and his wife's first sexual encounter. Ok, please, great Patterson, how did you know how many orgasms Tut had?

Give me a freaking break.

At the end of this (blessedly short) book, Patterson smugly announces "Case CLOSED!" I was, like, huh? Did I miss something?

The "best" part of the book was the Carter sections, but, again, his life was well documented; Patterson didn't have to make up stuff about him and call it nonfiction.

I'm not a Patterson fan (obviously), but he should probably keep to pumping out his thousands of books per year about this or that detective, police person,serial killer, whatever, and leave nonfiction to those who understand the meaning of the word.

One final note. He should have labeled this "historical fiction". Then, I wouldn't have been so pissed off.

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart: Really Liked/4 Stars

A charming book about the Beef Eaters who guard, and live in, The Tower of London.

And, yes, the Beef Eaters (and their families) actually DO live there!

I've been to the Tower several times while in London, so, I found this especially interesting. It is FICTIONAL, but, you can see the stories playing out in the way they do. After all, it IS the Tower of London!

Nice side plots as well regarding ladies who work in the lost property office for the Tube (Underground Trains), a priest who writes erotic fiction on the side, and the chaos that ensues when the Queen sends her Royal Menagerie to the Tower to live (and bring in some tourist income!)

The main story itself (a woman leaves her husband of many years because she feels he's not fully experienced the death of their only child and they've grown apart because of it) could take place anywhere, of course. Somehow, it's just more interesting in the Tower of London!

And, I found it fascinating reading about all the places within the Tower Complex that us tourists are not allowed to visit.

Four stars mostly for ingenuity!

Anne Frank Remembered: The Story of the Woman Who Helped to Hide the Frank Family by Miep Gies and Alison Lesley Gold: Totally Awesome/5 Stars

Although maybe not the best writing style I've ever read (and some of this is likely due to translation from Dutch to English), this was an interesting parallel to the events chronicled by Anne in her diary.

In addition to revealing what was going on outside the secret annex during those months of hiding, the book provides background on Miep Gies, her husband, and the others who helped the Frank (and other) families during this awful time.

I struggled with how, exactly, to rate this. Is it the best thing I've ever read? No. Is it as important as Anne's diary? No (although diary readers will be fascinated by some of the "behind the scenes" tidbits provided in this book). But, for Miep's courage and loyalty to her friends (and others), I give it a 5.

Apparently, this is a companion book to a documentary about Miep; which now, of course, I'd like to see.

Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler (CD): Didn't Much Care For/2 Stars

This is the story of Liam, a sixty year old grouch with three daughters, a grandson, an ex wife, an odd ball girlfriend, and a memory problem.

Liam's trying to recall a period of roughly 24 hours and he cannot. It's driving him crazy because he feels he shouldn't have lost this time (he was knocked out by a would be home intruder who didn't steal anything because he didn't have anything worth stealing). The doctors wonder why he wants to remember, his family is tired of hearing him rant about it.

While he tries to remember, he realizes that, although he won't remember that incident, he's remembering other things that he'd long since forgotten.

This is pretty much the story. As for the title, I kept wondering when he was going to meet someone named Noah. As it turned out, the title comes from one quick scene where he is reading a bible story to his grandson.

Anyway, this was definitely not up to Tyler's standards. I'm wondering if her publisher was after he to write something so she threw this together. It does seem thrown together.

I'm sort of sorry this is the last book I'll finish in 2010. I like to end on a high note!

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