Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? - Review



I love The Mindy Project so I was really looking forward to getting inside Mindy Kaling's head.  I expected her memoir (?) to inspire laugh-out-loud laughter.  I can count ONE TIME that I audibly guffawed in the course of reading this book and it wasn't from the reading material, it was inspired by an awkward childhood picture of her.

Needless to say, I was disappointed.  I wonder if it would've been a different experience as an audiobook.  I'm sure it would have been.  I think part of what makes Mindy funny is her voice and inflections, which I know from her TV show.  Still, the book felt like a disjointed mess and frankly, I didn't find a lot of the material funny OR interesting.  Sorry Mindy!  I still love your show.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Book of Night Women - Review



Before I went to Miami earlier this year I bought The Book of Night Women for my kindle.  I got it in preparation for the author's book review with my grandmother's book club. I've yet to read A Brief History of Seven Killings, the book Marlon James was presenting, but I thought I would get a taste for his style with his first book.

It was a bleak read.  You might expect that from a book about slavery in Jamaica in the late 1700s/early 1800s.  Most of the book was written in dialect.  Normally I have a hard time with that but it fit in this story and I was able to understand it.

I wouldn't expect a story of this time period to be devoid of the n-word but it sure was present.  All.the.time.  Much of the language in the book was ugly and hard to get through. By ugly, I don't mean his writing style - I mean the use of the n-word, the base and vulgar references to intercourse (both consensual and forced), and of course, the inhumane treatment of the slaves.

I was reading other reviews of the book and it seems that many found the central "love story" unrealistic and I can't say I disagree.  Perhaps the purpose of their coupling was to illustrate just how much that could never work.  The power dynamics could break down behind closed doors but they could never live equally in public view and even in private there would always be an element of mistrust.

Anyway, I can't say I enjoyed the book because I didn't.  Enjoy is a strong word and it's hard to use it in the context of a book about slavery.  I was invested in the narrative and where it was going but frankly, I'm glad it's over.  I wouldn't read it again and I'm not even sure I'd recommend it.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Girl on the Train - Review



The Girl on the Train is my favorite book in a while.  A lot of the participants on a message board I frequent compared The Girl on the Train to Gone Girl but I found it to be infinitely more enjoyable/palatable.  Gone Girl was very suspenseful and one shock followed the other but the characters were so hateful it would be hard to describe the reading experience as a delight.  The Girl on the Train isn't a happy story by any stretch of the imagination but it's a lot easier to stomach and the female protagonist, Rachel, is very sympathetic.

I'd loosely compare The Girl on the Train to Rear Window, the Hitchcock film.  Like Jimmy Stewart's character in Rear Window, Rachel is a voyeur into someone else's life and then becomes intimately involved in their personal drama.  Her involvement is simultaneously cringe-worthy, foolish, ill-advised, dangerous, and healing.  Interestingly, her engagement with the strangers of her Rear Window-like drama (in her case, from the window on her commuter train) helps her to solve a mystery in her own life.

It's hard for me to say much else without spoiling the plot but I loved the mystery, the characters and the way the plot unfolded from different vantage points.  I was on the edge of my seat throughout and didn't solve the mystery until the author started to drop heavy hints about 80% of the way through.  I was absolutely riveted.

Recommend!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Big Little Lies - Review



Big Little Lies is about the lies we tell each other and ourselves and their inevitable consequences.  It is the best book I've read this year (not saying much) AND the best book I've read in quite some time.  It is the complete package.

The story is told in a crafty way.  It begins six months out from an event/murder and it's told via a Greek chorus and the three female protagonists, who switch off chapters.  Madeline, Celeste, and Jane, the female protagonists, are well-developed and interesting as are the sub-characters in their orbit.  I found their bond of friendship refreshing.  Their support and care for one another is genuine.

Big Little Lies touches on some serious topics like physical and sexual abuse and bullying (adult to adult, child to child, and adult to child) but most of the story is told in a humorous tone.  I found the bullying storyline especially interesting because it's the parents who set the example and often, the parents who are the worst offenders.

There's a marvelous mystery and twist at the end that I wasn't expecting and it was thrilling when I uncovered it.  I don't think I could've enjoyed the ride or the characters any more.  I loved the author's style of writing and story-telling so I'm excited to learn that she's written several other books.

Incidentally, the author is Australian and subsequently, the story takes place in the Sydney suburbs.  The great thing is that the story and the relationships could be transported anywhere.  It's a story with universal themes.

I thought this was going to be a fluff read but it had so much depth.  I absolutely recommend it!  

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

First Impressions - Review



I read Charlie Lovett's previous book, The Bookman's Tale, and really enjoyed it.  Like that book, my grandmother recommended this follow-up novel, First Impressions.

The format is similar in the sense that every other chapter follows an old timeline and the other chapters follow a modern-day timeline.  Both timelines are related and work together. Unfortunately, I found myself unimpressed by all elements of both timelines.  Jane Austen and her grandfatherly literary muse were dull.  The modern-day protagonist was insipid and her paramours delivered some of the most contrived and cheesy dialogue I've ever read.  I found myself rolling my eyes.  Hard.  It's unfortunate but I just couldn't enjoy myself like I did the last time.  The Bookman's Tale was so much easier to get absorbed in whereas, I found myself running to the finish line in this one.  I wanted to get the reading experience over with as soon as possible.

Still, I wouldn't rule out trying his next effort.  I appreciate his creative prowess and his easily flowing words.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year - Review



This book was a quick and fun read.  Andy Cohen is responsible for a lot of Bravo TV's reality-based programming - most famously, the Real Housewives franchise.  He's an interesting and funny guy.  Most of the book is about his jet-setting and celebrity-infused lifestyle.  There's a lot of name-dropping but there are also some cute anecdotes.  Let me just say this - the title is accurate.  I'm sure there's a deep guy in there but you don't get too many glimpses of him in the book.    

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bad Year for Reading

Well, obviously, I didn't get a lot of reading done this year.  In fact, 2014 was the year of almost NO READING.  I don't feel too bad about it though.  I had a lot going on and I didn't feel like decompressing with a book at the end of the day.  Plain and simple. 

I'm about 1/4 of the way through Quiet.  I'd like to get that done rather quickly and then get back on track with regular reading.  I just downloaded three e-books - one non-fiction, one fluffy fiction, and one historical fiction.  I consider them belated Christmaskah presents.  I'll be attending a book review in less than a week and while there I'll be receiving an autographed hardcover book I hope to eventually read.  So, at the least, my goal is to read five books next year.