Please note all the reviews found on this blog are simply MY OPINION on the books that I read. There are many people out there who will disagree with my assessment of a book and that is fine - read my review - decide for yourself whether or not you want to read the book. If you do read it, by all means comment on my review with your own thoughts on the book!! I was not an english major, I judge the books based on my own taste and opinions, so read them with that in mind! Debate and discussion on the books I read is welcomed and encouraged!!
Got a book you think I'll love? Let me know!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

More to come!!

So as with my other blogs, this one kind of fell by the wayside.  I kind of knew it would - as this is the way I tend to be with writing.  But I am going to make an effort to get back into it and keep at it this time!!  I have read TONS of books since the last time I posted and I promise that as soon as I have a chance I will do as many reviews as I can.  Keep checking back - more to come, I promise!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

ISBN: 0-7679-1606-9 Page Count: 299

Synopsis:

American writer Frances Mayes purchases an old abandoned villa in Italy and emerses herself in the renovation of her new home and the culture of people and places around her. A memoir of her experiences summering in Tuscany and discovering herself in the process.

Review:

I have very mixed feelings about this book. Italy is a country I have always wanted to visit and was very eager to read a book about a woman's experience living there part of each year. I feel a little disappointed now that I have read it. Considering that Frances Mayes is an actual writer and this book is about her life, I found it to be EXTREMELY dull and hard to get through. I am a fairly fast reader and if I am really into a book I can finish a book of this length (and even longer) in under a week. Under the Tuscan Sun took over a MONTH for me to get through. Every now and then I would get to a chapter, or a part of a chapter that was very well written and I felt like I was transported to Tuscany and seeing the Italian scenery through her eyes. However, those rare parts were few and far between longer, duller, harder to follow chapters on a variety of subjects. Switching topics, sometimes within the same sentence, I found it hard to follow her thinking and to see the picture she was trying paint for me because it was so muttled with details that didn't need to be included. Also, I found that she listed things a lot in this book, and intermixed English and Italian names for things, making it very hard to follow. For example, in one chapter she lists all of the churches that she visited, and by the end I have no idea what she was talking about BEFORE she started listing them. Also, occasionally she starts talking about something, which then reminds her of something ELSE from years ago which she then switches to talking about. Then she goes back to what she was originally talking about, but without telling you she was, so you are left wondering how the things are related and where she is going with it.

I don't know, maybe it was just me, and maybe if you are really into memoirs or travel diaries you will really like this book. And it's not that it was BAD, generally speaking it wasn't a BAD book, I just found it very hard to follow, which was disappointing because I was really looking forward to reading it.

Movie tie-in:

As with my other blogs, I have to appologize for not keeping up with this one. I have ready many books since my last posting and I regret not reviewing them. Interestingly enough, the last book I did talk about on my blog was also a memoir that was turned into a movie. I promise you, this is entirely accidental. I think this is actually the first memoir I have read since that one and it just so happens that today is the day I decided to pick up with my blog. What does this have to do with the movie tie-in? Well, just like the last posting, I saw the movie before I read the book, and, just like the last one, I LOVED the movie, not so much so the book. Now the movie I saw for the first time years and years ago when it was in theatres (2003 to be exact, thanks to a quick Google). I think I was still in high school at the time and the thought of reading the book probably didn't cross my mind (if I was even aware there was a book). I can vividly remember seeing the movie though. As I have mentioned, Italy is a place I have ALWAYS wanted to visit and seeing it come alive on the big screen was amazing. This movie was definitely shot to show the best of the countryside and all Italy has to offer. To be honest, after watching the movie I wanted to buy a villa in Tuscany too! (Infact, if I had the money, I probably WOULD). So lets just say I fell in love with Italy even more after seeing this movie.

Now, having read the book, I have come to the conclusion that movies need to better clarify how closely or loosley based they are on the books of the same name so that people are not surpised as I was. The book is NOTHING like the movie. Basically, the movie is about a woman named Frances who buys and restores a villa in Tuscany. ANNDDD that is where the similarities stop. I will admit that every once in a while during reading, I would come across a sentence (not a paragraph or a chapter, but a SENTENCE) that made it's way into the movie but it was a rare sentence indeed and often was taken completely out of context. Mayes herself even comments at the end of the book on a few of the sceens in the movie she mentioned in the book.

I don't know, maybe my expectations are too high when books are made into movies but you would think, ESPECIALLY with a memoir, that the movie would follow the same path as the book did, but not in this case. Like I said, I loved the movie, and unfortunately in this case if the movie more closely followed the actual book I don't think I would have liked it nearly as much as I did. Similarly, if the book was more like the movie it might have sold a few more copies. Just my opinion though. Ironically enough, after re-reading my last review (of Riding in Cars with Boys) my last paragraph is entirely relevant to this review, so as they say, no point in reinventing the wheel!! ->

In this particular instance, it really doesn't matter whether you see the movie first or read the book first because they are so vastly different that they are almost unrecognizable as being based on the same woman. Strange!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Riding in Cars with Boys by Beverly Donofrio

ISBN: 0-14-029629-8 Page count: 204

Synopsis:

The catholic daughter of a police officer, teenager Beverly Donofrio finds herself pregnant and married to a loser - not the life she dreamed for herself. This book follows the life of Bev as she tries to make the best of a bad situation. Teenage pregnancy, divorce, drugs, college, and family all play a huge part in the woman Bev becomes and the son she never wanted.

Review:

The critics quote on the front of this book is this: "A classic. Unless you hate to laugh, read it now."

I have to completely disagree with this quote. I did not find this book funny - in fact, I don't think I laughed or even cracked a smile once while reading it. Does that mean it's a bad book? Definitely not! Quite, the contrary actually - I really enjoyed this book. I'm just letting you know that it is definitely not a comedy. I found this book to be extremely sad, and at some points, down right depressing.

Beverly Donofrio writes with a blunt honesty rarely seen in books. She was not afraid to write exactly what she was thinking and feeling, even though sometimes it did not exactly paint her in a great light. For example, she is very open about her bitterness towards her pregnancy and the fact that although she loves her son, he definitely was not wanted. In one part, she actually talks about wishing her husband would die before she was 35 because by then her son would be 18 and she could start her life over again. Not exactly the words of a perfect mother or wife. Not really something too many women would be willing to admit out loud, let alone put in print.

Overall, a brutally honest novel filled with the dashed hopes and dreams of a woman who found herself in a situation she never imagined.

Movie tie-in:

As a general rule, I prefer to read a book before I see a movie based on a book. In my experience, the movies usually don't compare to the book and sometimes if you haven't read the book, the movie is hard to follow and just doesn't make sense (I'm talking about you Twilight!)

This is one of those situations where I happened to see the movie first. Let me be honest, I loved the movie. I thought it was hilarious. Now, having read the book, I am a little confused as to how both the book and the movie could have been based on the same woman's life. Minor characters in the book become major characters in the movie, and major characters in the book are not in the movie at all. Also, major events in the book either did not happen in the movie, or were completely different - taking place in a different order or in different contexts.

Taken separately, the book is great and the movie is great. Compare them and some major continuity issues come up. So is the book the real story or is the movie how it all happened? I don't know. I almost hope the movie is the truth, just because the book is so sad and depressing, however, I think that probably the book is more accurate and the movie changed things to make it more interesting for audiences.

In this particular instance, it really doesn't matter whether you see the movie first or read the book first because they are so vastly different that they are almost unrecognizable as being based on the same woman. Strange!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Secrets of a Former Fat Girl by Lisa Delaney

ISBN: 978-0-452028924-6 Page count: 243

Synopsis:

As a "former fat girl", Lisa Delaney takes you through the tips and tricks that helped her become a size 2. Tackling everything from exercise and diet to the mind games we play with ourselves this motivational book attempts to teach you how to drop the pounds for good.

Review:

I admit, this is not normally the type of book that I would buy, or even READ for that matter. However, as someone currently trying to lose weight, when I found this book at a used book store for only $2 I thought it might be worth a read.

Good Points:

There is actually some really good information in this book. For example, there are tips on activities you can do no matter how athletic you are, help with figuring out portion control, and lists of websites for further information. As a fat girl myself, there were actually several parts of the book that I could really relate to, and some of the stories she tells about herself and her life as a fat girl do sound familiar.

Bad Points:

With the above points in mind, there are also some absolutely STUPID suggestions in this book. For example, it suggests lying to your friends and family about your attempt at losing weight so that you don't feel "pressured" by them. While this may seem logical, for those of us with an eating problem, we need all the support we can get. And hiding behind lies isn't going to help us. We need to learn to deal with life as it comes.

Final Thoughts:

If you are the type of person who really gets a lot from self-help books then I'm sure you will really enjoy this book. Having said that, even if you are not really into self-help (like me) it is not a bad read - just take the advice with a grain of salt. Should you listen to everything this book tells you to do? NO! If you can read it and apply the parts that make sense in your life then it is worth the read. Take it or leave it really - I wasn't overly impressed with this book, but at the same time I wasn't overly disappointed either. Had I paid full price for this book, I may think a little differently, but I think I got my 2 bucks worth out of it.

Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult

ISBN: 0-7434-1873-5 Page count: 353

Synopsis:

Nina Frost is an assistant DA who sees hundreds of cases of child abuse every day. But what happens when the abused child turns out to be her own? She knows the legal system inside and out, but what she does with this knowledge will shock you.

Review:

This isn't the first book of Jodi Picoult's that I have read and I will tell you right now, I really like her work. Therefore, this review might be a tad biased. There are definitely some books of hers I enjoy more than others and this happens to be one of them. There are several traits that all her books seem to have in common: 1) A main character with some sort of relationship to the legal system, 2) at least one major plot twist you don't see coming. Perfect Match is no exception to these rules. This is a very well written book that drags you inside the drama and keeps you up at night wanting to find out what happens next. I pride myself on being one of those people who can figure out the end of the book by the 4th chapter, but this one has several surprises that I just did not expect. It keeps you guessing until the very end.

Playing House by Patricia Pearson

ISBN: 0-679-31266-8 Page count: 280

Synopsis:

Frannie Mackenzie is a Canadian living in New York City when she sleeps with a guy she hasn't known for very long. When he leaves the country for work, she travels home to Toronto to spend time with her family when she discovers she is pregnant. When a mishap with customs at the airport strand Frannie in Canada she tries to figure out her life, and how this new baby (and it's father) fit into it.

Review:

While there are some definite laugh out loud moments in this book - overall I found it to be extremely unrealistic and at times, ridiculous. Although the author is Canadian, her writing at times sounds almost like she is trying to make her characters seem British. As a Canadian myself I can tell you that there are several phrases in the book that I have never spoken, or heard said by ANY Canadian I have EVER met.

The characters in the book are easy to like, but sometimes it is frustrating reading about their lives because some of the things they say and do make no sense or are opposite to what they are trying to achieve. Their story does have a vague resemblance to a couple who have found themselves in such a situation, however they act like teenagers might and you are left with little sympathy for them because any logical person would not behave the way they do.

If you are looking for a quick and easy read, and don't care about things like continuity or character development then you might enjoy this book. Like I said, there are definitely funny parts in it, and it wasn't so horrible that I felt I couldn't finish it. But once I did finish it, I was more than a little disappointed. However, this is just my opinion - take it or leave it.

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

ISBN: 0-375-70677-1 Page count: 372

Synopsis:

It's a cold winter night when Sibyl arrives at the home of the Bedford's to deliver their second child. A midwife for years, she is used to difficult deliveries. But trapped in the house due to a snow storm that has knocked out the phones, Charlotte Bedford's difficult birth turns to tragedy when she dies. With only minutes left, Sibyl decides to perform a c-section to save the baby. Days later, questions arise about whether or not Charlotte was dead when the c-section was performed. Did she die in child birth? Or was she killed by the midwife performing a c-section she was not trained to do?

Review:

This story is told from the perspective of Sibyl's daughter who is reflecting back on the time in her childhood when her mother was on trial for the death of a patient. She talks about the ways in which her mother's trial affects her family and the town they live in. Because of the high quality of the writing, it is easy to get into the book and picture yourself living with Sibyl and her family, feeling everything she is feeling, going through what she is going through. At times, the book is quite graphic with depictions of childbirth - which may cause some people to be uncomfortable. Heartfelt and emotion-filled this book is definitely a page turner. It was a selection from Oprah's book club, which believe me, had nothing to do with my decision to read it. However, I have to agree with her that it is definitely worth the read.