Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Soft Place to Land

Pin It
I obediently trudged though A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White for my book club a few weeks ago and I decided to have mixed reviews about it.  The book takes a little while to get into and a little after the half way point I really did had to find out what happened to our poor protagonist so I continued reading.  But had I not been reading this for my  book club I probably would have disregarded the book after the first few chapters.  {Side note:  I promise that I usually do like the books I read it just seams that 2010 is the year of bad books for me, I am not typically a Debbie Downer or a Nagging Nancy like my recent book reviews make me sound, and I currently reading 3 VERY good books so stay tuned}.  I had some serious character issues with this book.  Ruthie the main character seemed flat, not fleshed out enough to be a main character.  Her sister Julia seemed a little more interesting and I enjoyed reading about her but the story was about Ruthie mostly and you would think that White would have made Ruthie the interesting one.  She just seemed to float through life, taking the joy and sorrow with the same even tone.  In other words she was the Melba Toast of literary Characters.  Every one else in the story had some flavor (bland flavor but at least you could taste them), they all had some interesting quirk but poor Ruthie was just kinda blah.  I really didn't like anyone of importance in this whole book really.  They seemed disconnected with life, not real, not deep.

So we meet Ruthie and her half sister Julia when they are young.  Ruthie is in 7th grade and is a rule follower; and Julia is in High School and is rule breaker.  During Spring Break their parents head off to Los Vegas for a little alone time and while they are there they decide to go on a little trip to the Grand Canyon for a airplane tour.  But unfortunately they die in a fiery plane crash.  So Ruthie and Julia are split up, Ruthie going to live with her aunt and uncle (the only characters I kinda liked) in San Francisco, and Julia going to live with her Dad and wicked step-mom in Virginia.  Over the next few years the once very close sisters have a falling out.  Julia's reckless behavior, and Ruthie's pent up resentment for her sister drive a wedge between their relationship.  Later when another plane crash occurs the two grow closer only to be ripped apart again.  Finally a third plane crash gives the reader hope that these two girls will get their act together and remember they are sisters.  How many plane crashes can one family endure you ask?  The answer is that 3 plane crashes in one life time bring you full circle I suppose.

I guess the story kind of board me.  Nothing much happens and like I said Ruthie was Melba Toasty, but the writing was fantastic so that was a redeeming factor.  I would probably recommend this book to book clubs but other than that I don't think I would recommend it to anyone else.  However, I would read another one of Whites books.  As I said I liked her writing style, so maybe another story would speak to me a little better than A Soft Place to Land did.  

BOOK vs. MOVIE: There isn't a movie but if there were I'd bet it would be one on Lifetime.

RATING: 3 Stars

3 More Reviews on A Soft Place to Land:

A Soft Place to Land by Susan Rebecca White
(Purchased at Target)
ISBN 9781439194812

If you liked this book you should read: Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Pin It

Sometimes I start a book, get through a chapter and then toss it to the side because the first chapter sucked, or the main character was whiny, or there was too much back story, or all of the above.  Then I feel like a quitter, and feel guilty that I didn't give it a fair chance, and I feel like I hurt the books feelings {I know, right???}.  So that is usually when I head to the library and get the audio book.  I would say that 99% of the audio books I listen to are books I tried to read and just couldn't get past the first few chapters.  And usually I end up hearting the story after all!!  This is exactly the scenario I had with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.  The first few chapters weren't so hot, it starts out in modern time and I was expecting historical fiction all the way.  I thought the main character was whiny and needy, and there was too much of a back story.  I read 20 pages and tossed it to the side.  Then the guilt came and I rushed out to pick up the audio book at my library.  I really enjoyed it!  I mean it isn't great literature, the historical part of the book is utterly and truly fiction, but Lauren Willig wrote a great book that was full of mystery, espionage, and romance and.... onomatopoeias.  Yes this story is chalked full of WHACKS, POWS, CRUNCHES, OOMPHS, BANGS, and WHOPS..  At some points I felt like I was in one of those old Batman TV shows.  However, besides the assortment of expressive sound words I rather "guilty pleasure" enjoyed The Secret History of the Pink Carnation.  

Let me just say it.  This book is kind of a romance novel in a not so Harlequin form.  The writing (besides the random POW), is very well done, and the plot is clever and interesting, but on the whole this is a story about a boy and girl falling in love and sometimes getting to second and third base rather descriptively (fortunately for the reader there were no sounds mentioned at these parts).  We start out in modern day London where we meet Eloise.  Poor Eloise is trying to write her dissertation on the Pink Carnation, the most cunning and successful British spy during the Napoleonic wars.  But no one knows the true identity of this fabulous sleuth, the identities of the other great spies of the time (the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian) have been revealed but no where in history has anyone unmasked the Pink Carnation.  So Eloise is on a mission, she tracks down an old lady living in London who is a descendant of the Purple Gentian, and the lady gives Eloise diaries, and correspondence that shed some light on who this wonderful Pink Carnation might be.  At this point in the story we are flung back through time to the 1830s where we meet Amy and Jane.  These two English Victorian young women are getting ready to journey to France to live with Amy's brother Edward, their main goal in France is to find the Purple Gentian and help him restore the French Crown.  Amy is the protagonist here and she blunders her way from one thing to another until she accidentally meets and falls in love with the Purple Gentian.  Meanwhile she is in deep social drama with a excruciatingly handsome, but irkingly impossible man named Richard Selwick.  Espionage ensues and Napoleon's plans are curtailed, identities are revealed, there is much POW BOP BANGING, and there is even a cliff hangerish type ending {because this is a series people}!  It is quite a funny ride!

If you are in the mood for some light hearted summer reading I would give this one a chance.  I was expecting a serious piece of historical fiction so maybe that is why my first impression was blah.  But after I got the audio book I really enjoyed it.  The characters cracked me up!  Read it on the beach, don't expect a challenge, but do expect to be at least a little bit entertained.

On a side note, I am sorry for all these audio book reviews!!  I feel like such a slacker in my reading but I have been doing A LOT of driving to and from work and then A LOT of working and in my free time I sleep {between the hours of 1:30am - 7:00am}, so I am grateful for my longish commute to work so I have time to indulge in books!  I can't wait for wedding season to slow down a tad bit so I can pick up a real live book again! 

BOOK vs. MOVIE: There isn't a Pink Carnation movie but if there were I don't think I'd be camping out in line to be the first to see it.  I would however pick it up at Redbox for a buck.

RATING: 3.95 stars

3 More reviews on The Secret History of the Pink Carnation:

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
ISBN 0143057324
13 Hours and 36 minutes
Read by Kate Reading

If you liked The Secret History of the Pink Carnation you may also like: Wideacre by Philippa Gregory 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Little of This A little of That

Pin It
Alrighty people this isn't a book review.  I know I know, don't be mad, but I had a bunch of things I wanted to tell you all about so I decided to stray from my normal routine and write a non-book-review blog for once.  So bear with me and I promise it won't be so bad :).  Or if you are already getting board reading this blog entry just skip ahead to the bits that interest you (an award, a review of The Road {movie}, a complaint about SPAM in my comments, back-up reminder), I promise it won't hurt my feelings if you don't hang on my every word.. 

First things first.  I want to thank Elisabeth over at Babbette's Book Blog for sending me the Oh My Blog Award!!  Elisabeth you made my day!!  So here are the rules for the Oh My Blog award...

1... Get really really excited that you just had the best blog award in the world bestowed upon you. 
2... Choose one of the following options to except the award.
           a) Get really really drunk and blog for 15 minutes straight or until you loose focus.
           b) Write about your most embarrassing moment.
           c) Write a "Soundtrack of Your Childhood" post.
           d) Make your next post a Vlog (Video Blog)
           e) Take a picture of yourself first thing in the morning before you have done your makeup and hair.
3... Pass the award on to at least 3 (but hopefully more) fabulous bloggers and don't forget to tell them!

So I decided to except this award I was going to do choice E, but I don't really have a picture on hand so I scoured my Facebook pictures until I came up with one that I don't really want anyone to see.  Actually it is one that I untagged myself in, so I think this one will suffice for a picture of me with out my pretties on.

View this picture at your own risk.  And then after you look at this picture take a look the picture of me at the top of my blog so you aren't picturing me looking like this all the time (:  haha!

AAAAAHHHHH!!!!  I hope I didn't blind you!!!  Everything in this picture is BAD, bad hair, bad makeup, bad clothes, bad bad bad. YIKES!!!  OK now that I have totally shown you the most unflattering picture on the planet of myself I get to honor 3 more fabulous bloggers with this award!

And the winner is...

Next on the agenda is The Road {movie} review.  I read and reviewed The Road by Cormac McCarthy back in March and I have been in a reading rut ever since.  Nothing I have read lately has lived up to The Road so I feel like my measuring stick for good books is so long that everything else falls way short.  So when the movie hit Redbox last month I was SOOOOO excited but I also was going into my movie viewing experience skeptical because come on, how many movies surpass the book?  Or even live up to the book?  I can tell you the answer to those questions... NONE.  I have to say though, The Road held it's own as far as move from book goes.  The scenes were the correct amount of bleakness, the dialog was short and clipped like the prose in the book, things that happened in the book also happened in the movie.  There were somethings that weren't executed as well but that is expected.  And there were some things that were left out and I think it was a good thing because to actually see a baby on a spit over a fire would have been a little much for people.  Over all though this movie was an A+, and if you had strong enough stomach to read The Road then you can probably watch it too, and I recommend that you do!!

The next order of business is SPAM y'all!!  I have been getting it like whoa on my comment sections!!  I have been deleting deleting deleting like crazy!  So now unfortunately you all have to type a secret word thing every time you leave a comment, and I hate that!  So I apologize for having to make you type more with the crazy secret word but it really is helping.  Do any of you know how to stop the SPAM from happening?  I mean, people are posting links to Publishing Houses, Book stores, Win a Free Kindle, Etc.  They are all book related but they are most defiantly SPAM.  Let me know my friends and tell me what I need to do to kick these SPAMMERS to the curb!

The last bit of business I want to tell you about is the most important.  I follow a blog called Books i Done Read, and she always reminds us to back up our blogs.  This is SOOOOOOOOO important because sometimes the interweb wants to eat our blogs for lunch and then you are with out all your hard work!  So I want to get up on a soapbox and preach to you about backing up your blog.  I am very grateful for the lovely lady on Books i Done Read for her soapbox preaching about it and she does it oh-so-much better than I can so I am sending you to her blog to read all about the phenomenon of disappearing blogs and how to back up yours!  So check out her post here: Books i Done Read - Backing Up Your Blog.

OK I am releasing your from my clutches now and you can go on about your business.  I am glad we had this little talk about all things not book review related!!  Have a wonderful day my friends!!!  

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Last Days of Dogtown

Pin It
I had tried to read this book a few years back and only got about 2 chapters into it before something else caught my fancy and I wondered that-a-way instead.  I had always meant to go back and read it but as I was perusing the audio book shelf at my library the other day I happened upon it and grabbed it.  Thus bringing me to the realization that most of the books I listen to are books I didn't get through on paper, but I digress.  I very much enjoyed learning about the last days of Dogtown. The entire plot of the book is in the title so there weren't any big surprises there, but the characters were well developed, their stories were interesting, and I was glad to learn some new tidbits to tuck away in the back of my mind for that one day that I might end up on a game show.  The Last Days Of Dogtown by Anita Diamant (author of The Red Tent {one or my favorites}) is a semi-fictional account of the last years of a small community on the outskirts of Gloucester on Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Dogtown was a very poor cluster of hovels, a few taverns, a church, and a whorehouse that stood a few miles outside of Gloucester and that had a unique collection of residents as well as a pack of stray dogs.  The little community was very poor and the people in the neighboring towns looked at these people with disdain and pity.

The story starts off when one of the residents is found dead and is brought to Easter Carter's home/boarding house.  The whole community of Dogtown turns out to view the dead man and here begins the introduction of all the characters.  The rest of the story explores each of the members of this little society and how their days ended or how they eventually left Dogtown for a better life.  Each chapter focuses on a particular person and tells a little antidote about their lives in Dogtown.  Toward the end of the book the chapters switch gears and revisits these same characters but it depicts them at the end of their time in Dogtown whether that be death or other circumstance. Along the way all their paths cross each other and you realize the alliances, romances, and animosity among them all.  It is a very interesting examination of the dynamics of a small town in the early 1800s.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Last Days of Dogtown.  I love historical fiction and this time period and location of history especially.  And like The Red Tent Anita Daimant has done a dang good job of painting a picture with her words.  The book is beautifully written; by the time it is over you really feel a connection with a few of the characters.  I would recommend this book to anyone that has a soft spot for historical fiction as well as book clubs, I think there could be a lot of discussion on this book.  I have been to Gloucester before but now I would like to go back having read this book and visit the remains of Dogtown.  I hear there isn't much to see but you can explore the area and see the foundations of some of the homes.  Some of the characters in the book were based off of real members of this community and it would be interesting to see where they really lived.

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  There isn't a movie (not even one brewing) but if there were I would go and see it.  And really there wouldn't be anything to mess up because this is a story that would only be better if the characters were fleshed out a little bit more.

RATING: 4 stars

2 More Reviews of The Last Days of Dogtown ( I couldn't find 3 reviews!!):

The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamant
(got at the library)
ISBN 0743550986
9 Discs (10hours 30 minutes)
Narrated by Kate Nelligan

If you liked The Last Days of Dogtown then please read:  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows 

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Memory Keeper's Daughter

Pin It
OK here is a little relationship tip for all you guys and gals out there.  Ladies if you are pregnant and you get stuck in a freak snow storm and your husband has to deliver your child, make sure you stay awake through out the whole ordeal.  And fella's if your wife is pregnant and you get stuck in a freak snow storm and you have to deliver your own child don't claim the baby died and then send it off to live with the nurse that helped with the delivery.  This isn't good for your marriage.  It causes problems, and tension, and walls to be built up.  And I'm no psychologist people, but I do know that this may lead to divorce some where down the line!  You may snicker at this little scenario and tell yourself well that won't ever happen to me, but be warned my friends, because this is just what happened in The Memory Keepers Daughter by Kim Edwards.  

So here is a little run down on what happens in this story.  David Henry is very much in love with his wife Nora.  So in love in fact that he wants to shelter her from heartbreak and a life of struggle, so when he has to deliver his twins on one cold and blustery night he keeps their perfect son (Paul) and sends off his less than perfect (in his opinion) daughter (Pheobe, she has Down Syndrome) off with the nurse (Caroline) while his wife is still passed out from the gas they gave delivering mothers back in the '60s (ummm... What happened to that gas).  When Nora wakes up David tells his wife that their daughter was born dead and that he had sent her little body with the nurse to dispose of.  This starts a downward spiral in to a life of depression for Nora.  She loves Paul with all her heart but she always has a missing part of her soul for her daughter that she never even got to see.  Mean while David is living with this horrible secret that his daughter is alive and well and living with Caroline somewhere out there in the world.  

The story hops back and forth from one Characters point of view to another and I really enjoyed getting into all the characters heads.  Except for Nora's; I was so annoyed with Nora's life, I know I was supposed to feel sorry for her because she was unaware that her daughter was out there somewhere and she was struggling with an unhappy marriage and depression, but I got really tired of her depression, and her "whoa as me" attitude.  I enjoyed the chapters about Pheobe and Caroline the best.  I have always had a soft place in my heart for people with Down Syndrome and they depicted Pheobe perfectly with a big heart and an sweet and inquisitive personality, I just instantly fell in love with her.  Also, I loved that the book took place in Kentucky between Lexington and Louisville.  There are so few books that take place here in Kentucky so when one does I LOVE it because I can picture the people and the places they live so vividly!  I was listening to the book not reading it and it felt like it took me 27 years (the span on the book) to listen to it.  It was LONG in other words.  Even though I enjoyed it I was SOOOOOO ready for it to be over by the end.  In a nut shell it was well written, and a good book to discuss so if you are in a book club you should probably suggest this as your next read!

BOOK vs. MOVIE:  Lifetime made this a TV movie back in 2008 and I am sure it is a tear jerker because most Lifetime movies are.  I haven't seen it but I think I might search it out.  I would love to see how it compares.  I hope it doesn't feel as long as the book felt.

RATING:  3 stars

3 More reviews on The Memory Keepers Daughter:

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards
ISBN 1428125558
14 Discs (16 hours 15 minutes)
Narrated by Martha Plimpton