Saturday, January 18, 2014

Night Circus Wannabe?

The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman was a selection that I read for one of the book clubs I belong to.  Not wanting to spend money on a book by an author I've never heard of, I checked the book out of my local library.  The librarian happily told me that she absolutely loved the book and more people should read it.

After reading approximately 80 pages, I was beginning to wonder if anything was going to happen in the book as I was bored to tears.  When I finished the book, I was quite disappointed.  I felt that Gaiman was trying for the same sense of style of Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus and hoping for the wild popularity as well, but he failed miserably.

I didn't get anything out of the novel and was quite surprised that The Ocean At The End Of The Lane was an adult novel as it seemed quite childish to me.  It seemed as thought it was written for the 9 to 12 age group.

Rating: 1 of 5 stars 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Sins of Our Past

Let me begin by saying I won Guilty As Sin by Jami Alden from Goodreads' first reads giveaway.  I had never heard of the author Jami Alden before won Guilty As Sin, so I was surprised to see that she's written other books. I'd categorize Guilty As Sin as a suspenseful romance novel. 

Guilty As Sin opens with the lead character, Kate, babysitting her younger brother at their rental property in a resort town while her parents and twin sister are out.  Her townie boyfriend, Tommy, comes over, and they decide to go make out on the beach in the backyard.  While Tommy and Kate are outside, Kate's brother is kidnapped and killed a few days later.  Fast forward 14 years later when Kate works for an organization that helps find missing children, and she has been assigned to a case in the town where her brother was murdered.

I don't read a lot of romance novels, but I'd have to say that Guilty As Sin was so much better than some of the romance novels I've read like Fifty Shades of Gray.  Although, it was a bit predictable, and I was pretty sure I knew who the kidnapper/killer was early on in the novel.  (And, I was right.)  With that being said, it kept my interest all through the book and had good pacing.  Definitely worth a read.

Rating:  3 of 5 stars

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Growing Up As An Hermaphrodite

Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides, is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel and an Oprah Winfrey book club choice.  I wouldn't have picked this book up to read if it hadn't been chosen for one of the book clubs I belong to.  When I arrived at the library to pick up my copy, I groaned when I saw that it had been a book club choice of Oprah Winfrey.  I've read other books that she has chosen and thought great, but she and I must have very different tastes in novels as I haven't liked anything that she has recommended.  Middlesex was no different.

The novel is narrated by one of the characters (Calliope/Cal), who is now a grown man, and the story is about how he was born a hermaphrodite, grew up as a girl, and decided to live as a man.  I found the novel way too long and disconnected.  The first 200 or so pages were dedicated to the grandparent's lives and 100 pages or so to the parents.  The last 200 pages actually told the story of Calliope/Cal.

I don't mind a back story if it serves a purpose, but it shouldn't take up more than half the book, especially since it isn't what the book is supposed to be about.  I was expecting to really understand Calliope's/Cal's struggles growing up and the hard decisions that had to be made and felt that they were really glossed over.

Another thing that drove me crazy was that the author would point out pieces of the story that he thought we should remember later in the book.  Does Eugenides think the reader is too stupid to make the connection without him pointing it out to us?  If he has to point it out, he really hasn't done his job as an author.

In addition to that, Eugenides would interupt the story with other plot lines that had nothing to with the plot at hand.  For example, after Lefty died, Desdemona decided to never get out of bed again and has asked Tessie & Calliope to pray for her death.  All of a sudden, the narrator (Cal), interjects and says something about he's sure that we want an update with his relationship with Julie and how they're talking about buying property together.  How does this have anything to do with Lefty's death and Desdemona's depression over losing her husband?  It was a pointless interuption. 

If you can't go back and forth from the past to the future and back again in a well written way, I'd rather the author just start with a prologue and then start with the back story and tell everything chronologically.  I'm not sure how this novel won a Pulitzer as it was poorly written.  I gave this book one out of 5 stars only because there were a few interesting passages.

Rating:  1 of 5 stars

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Family of Private Investigators

I was in the mood to read a book by an author I wasn't familiar with.  So, when I stumbled across The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz in the bargain bin shelves at Barnes and Noble, I thought why not?  However, I was in the middle of reading another book, so I didn't begin reading The Spellman Files right away. 

In the meantime, I entered a first reads giveaway on Goodreads.com for the second installment of The Spellman Files called Curse of the Spellmans.  And, much to my surprise, I won the first reads giveaway and received my free copy of Curse of the Spellmans.

Since I'm a type a personality, I had to read The Spellman Files before reading the book I won.  Let me tell you that I was hooked!  I've read all of the books in the series and can't wait to read the latest installment called The Last Word.

The Spellman Files is one of those books that you either love or hate.  The genre is technically humor, but it does have elements of the mystery genre.  I'd categorize it as sarcastic humor/mystery.  It is told from the perspective of Isabel "Izzy" Spellman and tells a story of a extremely dysfunctional family with flashbacks of Izzy's delinquent childhood.  This was a light-hearted read that had me laughing out loud.  It was so fast paced that when I finished I found myself having withdrawals because it sucked me in that well.  The Spellman Files jumps around a lot so you do have to patient with it as you will eventually get the outcome.

Rating:  5 of 5 stars

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Loves, Lies, & Friendship

Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky is about friendship and lies.  Nicole and Charlotte have been best friends since childhood and have drifted apart when Nicole, a food blogger, contacts Charlotte, a travel writer, to have her help with a cookbook about farm to table food on the Maine island of Quinnipeague.  Will the secrets between Nicole and Charlotte destroy their friendship?

I won Sweet Salt Air from Goodreads.com in a first read giveaway.  Having only read one of Delinsky's novels before, I was super excited to read this book to see how it differed from The Secret Between UsSweet Salt Air was definitely a lot better.

The novel opens with Charlotte working on a piece about knitting within a community, and I groaned.  I was not in the mood to read about knitting, and I thought I would struggle with Sweet Salt Air.  Fortunately, the storyline picked up when Charlotte and Nicole both showed up at Quinnipeague to write the cookbook.

Sweet Salt Air is definitely a chick lit book and a bit predictable, but once I got into the meat of the story, I couldn't put it down.  Delinsky did a great job about talking about the disease Nicole's husband had, and she seemed like she really did her research on it. 

If you're looking for a great beach read, you should definitely pick up a copy Sweet Salt Air.

Rating:  3.5 of 5 Stars