Sunday, September 11, 2011

30 Second Book Review: Late Summer Edition

Why, hello there, my faithful readers. I've got some recommendations for your reading lists and a few to avoid at all costs, if you value your time and hate to be irritated for 300 pages. Let's dive on in, because I've got a book I'm dying to get back to:

Julie and Julia by Julie Powell - I read half of this book and I stopped. I only wanted to read about Julia Child. I didn't care about Julie Powell's whiny, disjointed narrative. I want to watch the movie now instead. How rare that the movie is so much better than the book? I blame Powell.

Cleaving by Julie Powell - If I only made it through half of Julie and Julia, how far do you think I got in this personal narrative about adultery and butchery (not serial killing, actual cutting up of animals for meat) from Powell again? Only 30 pages in before I felt bitter, judgmental and bored with her. Listening to her wail on about her affair and her passion for cutting meat, just not for me. But if you like that sort of thing, go for it.

Faithful Place by Tana French- I read and reviewed this one for Blogher's Book Club. It was adequate. I wished I'd liked it more, most people who read it loved it. Eh.I might try it again in a year. I might not. French is still a strong writer in my book, based on her previous two novels. Read them first, or instead of this one.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends: An Autobiography by Rob Lowe - Joe and I listened to this audio book narrated by Rob Lowe on a trip to Omaha last month. It is funny, heartfelt, name dropping goodness. An actor that I previously found to be a cocky, shallow pretty boy from the Brat Pack turns out to be much funnier, more thoughtful and introspective than I would have imagined. A delightfully pleasant surprise and peek into Hollywood.

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen - Again, another Net Galley book, this crime novel was disturbing and dark, opening with a woman trapped in a sealed up pitch black room, waiting and waiting, for what she doesn't even know, but it won't be good. It then jumps ahead five years to the stalled investigation of a female politician's disappearance roughly five years ago (is she still alive in the pitch black room?) Set in Copenhagen, it has the stark, cold feel of The Dragon Tattoo series, but instead follows a newly created cold case police squad leader with a staff of one, working to solve high profile crimes. This is the first installment of what will certainly be a very popular series.

The Last Will of Moira Leahy by Therese Walsh - I adored this book. It combined immaculately beautiful writing with the kind of high gothic mystery that I love. Therese Walsh writes with a grace that is engaging and powerful, but she doesn't lose her character or plot development amidst the high drama of her diverse and exciting settings.

Superfreakonomics by Steven Levitt - If you've read Freakonomics, this is the same thing. Only not quite as good or interesting. But you'll probably not regret spending the time reading it, or listening on your commute, like I did. Serviceable writing, interesting topics but same old same old.

My Life In France by Julia Child - This book is all butter and nostalgia and European je ne' sais quoi. I thoroughly enjoyed it and want to make some kind of rich, cream based meal right now. The calorie content of this book is an estimated 3,000 per chapter.

A Lady's Lesson in Scandal by Meredith Duran- I rarely read straight up heaving bosom romance novels, but after reading a review of this book over at Pajiba's Cannonball Read, I took a chance. This type of novel was my favorite to read in high school, and this was a pretty high quality romance novel. All lusty and frothy and decadent, filled with intrigue and first meetings and star crossed lovers and a perfect way to spend a hot afternoon on the couch in the A/C.

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary by David Sedaris - I have loved David Sedaris ever since I heard Santa Land Diaries sometime in the mid 1990's. But this audiobook made me sad. I listened to the whole thing, I laughed about twice. I understood what he was trying to do with these anthropomorphic animal fables but I didn't like it at all. They were depressing and glum and felt like I was taking some kind of moralizing, condescending medicine, and it left a nasty taste in my mouth.

The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life by Robert Goolrick - Staggering, heartbreaking, sad and bitterly funny. If you enjoy memoirs at all, I highly recommend this book by the author of the breakaway book club favorite, A Reliable Wife. This book killed me. I want to hold Robert Goolrick's hand and tell him it will all be ok, but I don't know that it will be. I just don't know if it can be.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett - Patchett's novels Bel Canto and The Magician's Assistant are two of my absolute favorites. Her lyrical and descriptive writing style is beautiful and evocative. State of Wonder is lovely and moving and exciting, though it doesn't quite capture the magic of Bel Canto. The inevitable yet shocking conclusion is so fast paced and mind boggling that I felt lost and saved all in the last twenty pages. Lush and dangerous, this book gets a big yes from me.

So that's what I've been reading lately. Next up, I'm starting The Imperfectionists for a virtual book club on Good Reads with some fellow long distance book nerd friends, and then The Purity Myth and Home Land, and maybe a little zombie apocalypse tale, World War Z to round out the list. BRAINS!! Until October, happy reading!

1 comment:

bethany actually said...

These are exactly the kind of book reviews I need: short and to the point. Also, I love that you're telling me which books to avoid!

This line jumped out at me:

"This book is all butter and nostalgia and European je né sais quoi."

Love it!