Sunday, December 20, 2015

Books Read, November - December 2015

Note - This was originally posted on another blog of mine, and has been moved here (March 8, 2017).

Bossypants by Tina Fey - Hilarious, sharp, and incredibly smart. I had to stop every few pages to look up various pop culture references. If I had read this in a physical format, instead of on my Kindle, I would have finished the book with a dried up highlighter. Tina Fey is awesome. But you knew that already. Rating: 5 Stars

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan - This book has appeared on a lot of "best of" lists for teens, but I didn't particularly care for it. It's told from the alternating perspective of two teenage boys, both named Will Grayson. Even though the voices of the alternating narrators were different, it still took me a chapter or two to realize they were different. I like that it's LBGTQ-friendly but in the end, meh. Rating: 2 Stars

Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind by Anne Charnock - Another Kindle First that seemed promising...but didn't really have an end. There are three interwoven narratives spanning several centuries: one in the past, one in the present day, and one in the future. But they didn't intersect enough to be compelling. So, I didn't find the plot compelling nor the characters compelling. Theres not much left to care about in a book. At least I didn't stay up late at night reading to see what happens next...the nice part of the book was that I learned a bit about composition and color in a painting. Rating: 2 Stars

The BFG by Roald Dahl - This is the first chapter book that I read to my son. He was a little wary at first (a giant! a little orphan girl possibly in danger! ugly giants with gruesome features and even more fearsome names!), but was soon pulled into the narrative. Frobscottle! An excellent introduction to chapter books thanks to my dear Roald Dahl.

Where We Belong by Emily Giffin -  After my first Emily Giffin book, I was eager to check this book out from the library and was not disappointed by this, yet again, character-driven well-written novel. It could be cliche, but it isn't. Rating: 5 Stars

The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary - My son's second chapter book. I thought he would enjoy this even more than The BFG, as he seemed more intrigued by the premise of the book, but he was stressed throughout much of the reading. He seemed to think that Ralph was constantly in imminent danger. Also, perhaps the more old-fashioned dialogue made it a bit harder for him to follow along. I, however, thoroughly enjoyed reading it to him.

Big Girl Panties by Stephanie Evanovich - Ugh. I wanted the literary equivalent of a sugar cookie. This was another poor quality candy bar. How can it be a New York Times bestseller? I disagree with Booklist's assessment that it is a "funny, clever, and well-paced read," although I wholeheartedly agree that it "lacks polish" and "sends mixed messages about body image, self-esteem, and seeking male approval." Totally unrealistic characters - I do not believe for a second that a woman who was driven enough to escape her emotionally distant family and small-town upbringing to attend Brown would be content to just stay at home, shop, and work out with her hot trainer. As soon as I was done, I returned the book. Blurgh. Rating: 1 Star

Smart Girls Get What They Want and How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyer - I finally got my sugar cookies! Both are quick reads featuring smart, funny heroines. Unsurprisingly, all the romantic interests are tall, not necessarily dark, and handsome. But they're enjoyable and well-written. Smart Girls Get What They Want is the stronger of the two, as the Zoe book has some plot holes. But both are great vacation reads. And I love having books that feature female heroines that are worthy of emulation. Rating: 4-5 Stars

Fangirl and Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell - Oh Rainbow Rowell, how I love thee novels. Kudos for writing fiction that features characters with real bodies in real situations with real interests, who don't have to look like they must also be Abercrombie model-worthy to be so likable. Thank you for legitimizing interests that may be considered alternative or fringe, but aren't really. You root for fan fiction writer super-geek Cath (Fangirl) and sensitive Lincoln (Attachments) to overcome their anxieties. You're thrilled that the protagonists don't hew to tired traditional gender stereotypes. These are the books whose passages I bookmark and read and re-read. Rating: 5 Stars

Someday, Someday, Maybe: A Novel by Lauren Graham - Gilmore Girls was one of my favorite TV shows, and I loved Lauren Graham's work on the show. So I was intrigued to find out she had written a novel. Here, I think all the accolades are well deserved. It's well-written, light, warm, and charming. The plot is well paced. What's not to like? Rating: 4 Stars

Dumplin' by Julie Murphy - From the author of Side Effects May Vary, I think this second book is a stronger work than her first. I like how it portrays and challenges issues like body size, self-acceptance, and beauty pageants. And, I now know how to walk in high heels like a queen. It's so much better than Big Girl Panties. But it didn't quite click with me. Rating: 2 Stars

The Trouble With Flirting and Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik - A search for more sugar cookie novels (hey, it's the holidays!) led to these two books. Again, both are quick easy reads that are fairly enjoyable. Epic Fail is a loose adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, while The Trouble With Flirting is another Jane Austen adaptation, this time of Mansfield ParkEpic Fail seemed to be quickly written and poorly edited, as I came across at least a couple of typos. Also, as a huge fan of Pride & Prejudice, I found this version to be boring. While it was modernized nicely, I knew what was going to happen and the details itself weren't particularly compelling. I thought The Trouble With Flirting was a much stronger work and a lot of fun. Rating: 2-3 Stars

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