Friday, January 1, 2010

Book Review #7 "The Christmas List: A Novel" by Richard Paul Evans

First of all, why do some books insist on using a colon and the words "A Novel" in the title? Aren't the readers aware that they are in fact reading a novel? I don't get it.

Anyway, I am a total sucker for any books by Richard Paul Evans. I liken his style of novel writing to that of Nicholas Sparks. Which means that Blake will steer so far away from these books that it isn't even funny. One distinct difference is that Richard Paul Evans seems to incorporate much more of a spiritual element to his works, whereas Nicholas Sparks goes for the society norm of not as much religiousity (is that even a word?).

Every now and then I like to read about heartwarming stories. Stories that usually wrap up neatly and cleanly by the end of the book. Generally Richard Paul Evans does follow that particular MO - the main characters always have an epiphany and turn their lives around before things go too far or it becomes too late. I hate to burst your bubble here, but one of the main characters does in fact die. Shocker, I know.

Good book. Mostly good-feeling. Made my drives to work more pleasant.

next up: "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyer

Book Review #6 "Break No Bones: A Novel (Temperance Brennan Novels)" by: Kathy Reichs

This was also an audio book I got from the library here in the thriving metropolis of Calhoun County, AL. ::sarcasm duly noted::

If you are looking for this book to be entirely true to the television series "Bones", you will be sorely disappointed. The television show is based on this series of books, but the books have an entirely different direction than the television series. When I first started this book, my mind was still in the mode of the TV show and it was hard to wean myself off thinking that way. Just sayin'.

The book itself is a mystery and a fairly well-written one as well. There were predictable plot twists in addition to things that I didn't see coming from chapters away. The book was also full of technological jargon similar to the TV show, but the plot of the story doesn't get lost in all of the "big" words. I could also interpret most things from the context of the story. So many authors today use technical words in a way to simply impress upon the reader that they know how to use a thesaurus or took a class in that subject. I want to not be confused or bewildered by the words in a book I am trying to read for pleasure.

I am hoping that there are additional books in this series that follow the same story line. I haven't done too much research before I hit the shelves of the Calhoun County library - I look for authors or titles I have heard of - especially those made into well-known movies. I have a horrible guilty pleasure of reading a book with the sole intention of comparing it to the movie, which I will only watch after completing the book. As we all know, the books are, as a general rule, better than their movie counterparts. There is just too much information contained in a book that cannot feasibly be reproduced on film. Maybe Andrew can rectify this when he becomes a famous movie director/producer/or whatever else it is he wants to be. :)

Bottom line: enjoy the mystery book, but don't try to compare it to the TV show.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Review #5 "The Soloist" By Steve Lopez

The tagline reads "A lost dream, an unlikely friendship, and the redemptive power of music." Which does pretty much sum up the book itself.

I listened to this unabridged (is there really any other way to have an audiobook - abridged books suck) audiobook a few weeks ago. I was originally interested in this book because there is a movie based on the book. I like to read the book first and then see the movie so that I can compare from the book to the movie version - the book is usually far superior to the movie.

Steve Lopez, the author, is a journalist and columnist working for the LA Times. He happens across Mr. Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a homeless man, playing music on delapidated instruments in a local park in Los Angeles. Mr. Lopez becomes entralled with this musical prodigy and writes a column about Mr. Ayers. The public overwhelmingly responds to Mr. Lopez - wanting to know more about Mr. Ayers.

The subsequent columns serve to bond Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez. Mr. Lopez has difficulty in convincing Mr. Ayers to seek assistance from a homeless shelter and in convincing him to even attempt to sleep indoors. Mr. Ayer's mental disability becomes apparent in contributing to his lifestyle (or lack thereof).

The book follows Mr. Lopez's journey to get to know Mr. Ayers and encouraging him to take advantage of public assistance programs specially designed for mentally ill individuals in the Los Angles area. One program mentioned often in the book was LAMP - but I never exactly figure out what those letters meant - maybe Los Angles Men's Program?

I think that the story abruptly ended without the "loose ends" being tied up, as they are in most books. Can we say sequel?

I am ready to rent the movie from Netflix.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Book Review #4 "The Last Song" by Nicholas Sparks

I listened to this book on CD in the car on way here and there. (I tried to make this opening line sort of an homage to Dr. Suess, but I was unable to form my sentence rhymingly.)

There were times when I drove the "long" way home or lingered in my car longer just to continue to listen to this book.

Nicholas Sparks is a capativating author. His books are usually considered an "easy" read, but I am always learning new vocabulary when I pick up one of his books.

Sparks seemlessly tells a story through multiple points of view without losing any of the information essential to the story. Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different character and gives the reader insight to the character while not breaking the continuity of the story.

I also enjoyed that the story itself is not neatly resolved by the end of the last chapter. There are people that die and characters who get away with evil things without being caught. There are twists and turns in the telling of the story that I could not predict from chapters away. One thing that does bother me is that the ending leaves the reader looking for a sequel in order to have closure with all of the main characters. Nicholas Sparks doesn't usually indulge his readers in a series of books with the same characters. He has done it in the past with a couple of books - "The Notebook" and "The Wedding" and with another series of books that I cannot recall at this moment. I am looking forward to the possibility of a continuation of the story I was heavily involved with throughout the book.

I cannot say with certainty whether or not Blake would enjoy this book - she generally dislikes most of Nicholas Sparks' writings. The book does have its "touchy feely" sweet moments, but the book is not full of them. So she may or may not throw up in her mouth on occasion if she decided to read this one.

Book Review #3 "The Shopaholic Takes Manhattan" by Sophie Kinsella

This is the second (?) in a series of "Shopaholic" books by Sophie Kinsella. I had read several books by the same author - so I picked it up at the library not too long ago.

Kinsella is a native Londoner, and it is evident in some of the word choices she uses throughout this book. I admit that sometimes I have to go back and reread a paragraph just to figure out what she is talking about.

The main character, Becky Bloomwood, returns in this book as she discovers her boyfriend, Luke Brandon of Brandon Communications, is planning a trip to New York City in an effort to expand his business. As usual, Becky finds a way to invite herself along to the States and gets herself in a predicament with all of her shopping. I guess Kinsella wouldn't be able to call the series "The Shopaholic" if there wasn't a main character who shops uncontrollably.

Parts of the book are just flat out silly and not entertaining at all. I kept reading purely to find out what happens in the end.

I have noticed that about two thirds of the way through all of Kinsella's novels, there is a gigantic conflict (that you can see coming from miles and chapters away) and is always neatly resolved by the last page. While occasionally entertaining, I am interested in reading a book that I don't know how it will end. There are details of the resolution that I didn't predict, but overall, it was fairly predictable.

In short, Becky goes shopping uncontrollably in New York City, justifying her purchasing on the "great exchange rate" between American dollars and British pounds. This justification makes the character seem, if it is possible, more stupid than I thought before I opened this book. I suppose that many readers want to read about a main character who is dumber than a box of hair, because it makes them feel better about themselves. I think it just makes me madder as the book progresses. It is almost as though the author wants the reader to view females as uncontrollable shoppers with no common sense or economical sense, because her man will always bail her out, so there is no reason to be intelligent about money matters.

Becky Bloomwood is a FINANCIAL ADVISOR on British television and is trying to land a job in the United States in the same capacity. The ridiculousness of the situation is enough to make me not recommend this book to any intelligent human being. I will admit that by the end of the book she does rectify her dire financial circumstances in a creative way.

So take it or leave it. I read it, and there are moments when I feel a little dumber for having done so. I still cannot decide if I want to continue with the series - Shopaholic Ties the Knot and Shopaholic and Baby. I may have to lay off the Shopaholic series and read a classic in the meantime.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review #2 "Twenty Wishes" by Debbie Macomber

I picked up this book on CD at the local library after listening to another book by this author and enjoying it.

I like to listen to one book and actually read another at the same time. I am pretty good at keeping the characters of two books separate, but I am unable to handle more than two books at once.

WARNING - Blake, you will HATE this book! Just trust me on this one. You hate sappy stories where people find love and happiness and live happily ever after. Whereas, I like to read this over the science fictionesque books you enjoy.

This book is set in Seattle, WA - where Macomber seems to set all of her novels. A group of widows gather together socially and decide to each create a list of twenty wishes. The main character, Ann Marie, owns a bookstore on Blossom Street and hosts many of the social gatherings of the widows' club. She had been suddenly widowed within the year. She was estranged from her husband, but the two of them had started reconciling when he had a heart attack.

The main idea of the story is finding happiness by fulfilling twenty wishes. Some of the women make wishes like take belly dancing classes, or buying red cowboy boots. Other wishes of the group include going to Paris with someone you love and falling in love with an honorable man.

I enjoyed this book, and I consider it to be an "easy" read. I could read or listen to the book without really thinking about what was going on within the story. Some people might call these books "fluff" or "junk" or not good literature. Sometimes I just like to enjoy a book without having to concentrate too much on the intricacies of the story or figure out what just happened.

I purchased more books by this author at a rummage-type sale this past weekend. I am looking forward to reading more by Debbie Macomber.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Facebook Statuses That MUST Be Shared

I feel compelled to share these ridiculous status updates with the world. I will *try* to conceal the identifying details, but you may have come across these people before. My comments are in braces {}. I am not editing these for grammar or spelling or stupidity. You are forewarned.

***Is praying for God's directiion in my life. I really want to go back to school and be able to put those classes that I have taken into action but I am just looking for direction in this..... {this is the person who HAD to get married because Jesus wanted her to have the sex, and then she had a child and NO JOB, and her husband has NO JOB, and just today I found out that she is pregnant AGAIN! When we will stop rewarding people for having unprotected sex! my taxes are paying for her lack of birth control! *stepping off soapbox, for now*}

***Is looking for a job if anyone knows of anything.... {because she has discovered that other people with jobs frown upon their tax dollars going toward the children of people who cannot figure out how birth control operates}

***Is praying for God's will and direction in finding a job..... {because she says repeatedly that God will provide. yet I am still waiting on God to make my mortgage payment}

***WE have a wennier dog mix free to a good home! His name is sam and he is great with kids! He just needs a good and loving family! Let me know if you are interested! {no comment required here}

***Had a bunc of crying, snotty nose little ones in the church nursery today! I am looking foward to our C7C class tonight and the crawl fis boil at Andy's moms afterwards! Zoo and Aquarium tomorrow... We actually have a fun filled weekend for once! Yay! {why doesn't crying children work its magic as birth control? Every time I hear a child cry, my uterus shrivels a little more...}

***Had a fun long day yesterday and has enjoyed the day with little man relaxing at home! Praying I get the job I applied for this mornign if it is GOD's will! {silly}

***Just found out that at the end of Sept. Justin will also no longer have a job.... when it rains it pours! Keep us in your prayers, we know God has it under control but prayer ALWAYS works!!!!! {*sigh* they never learn...}

***I love how people act like they are all concerned for you whne you are going through a tough time in your life.... then they tell you what they REALLY called for! Just a little irritated! But I love Jesus!!!!! That is all I have to say about that! {arrggh!}

***PRAISE THE LORD!!!!! Justin may have a lead on a job! He should know more on Friday of next week! I knew I had no need to worry! God ALWAYS comes through for us who rely on him!!!!!!! This job unlike the one he is gettin laid off from has all the ben...ifits... Insurance, retirement, and vacation wahoooooo!!!!! I am so excited! {no one believes me about these status updates - I would have "unfriended" this person if I wasn't so amused (and annoyed) and have nothing better to do with my time}

***So I am planning to go back to school in Jan! I need a Math 100 and Physics 115 book for wallace if anyone has one they would like to rent or sale me let me know please! Thanks!!!!! {who rents a book? and you SELL a book to someone, not SALE! ARGH!}

***Is praying for a call for an interview at the County Commissioners office... They still have not hired anyone so maybe this is what God wants.... If not then that is cool too! Praying for his will! Oh and Mothers Day out starts next week! Message me for more info!

***Just got home from an AWESOME and very touching service with my C&C guys! I love my buddies and am praying for all of them! I have the best friends ever and that is all I have to say about that! {this has that Forrest Gump quality to it}

***Is still praying for our job situations... I know God has it in his hands! {this has been going on for a while now, I am still waiting on my check...}

***Ok so if anyone know of any FT jobs with insurance that Justin or I may qualify for please let me know... we have to have insurance for Carter.... His ped does not accept mediacaid and we love him so ya know how that goes!

***Really Carter now has a temp 0f 101.5 satan really is just attacking us like CRAZY! Oh well I still love Jesus. {this status update particularly angers me, rather than treat your child for a fever, you blame Satan. I worry for this child}

***Is not feeling too well today...or yesterday, or the day before that... Wish I knew why? Carter is teething as well so we feel like poop together. {at least this time it is not Satan's fault for making them both sick}

***Is burning some CD's of some videos that I have captured of Carter on the awesom video camera Justin got me for christmas in 2008... Can't wait to watch them and just cry I am sure lol! I can't believe he is almost 8 months old already! {shouldn't that be *DVDs* rather than CDs? just because you put an apostrophe on it DOES NOT MAKE IT PLURAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!}

***Is wathing the "Beats" with Cash! We are playing and having a blast while Carter is napping and his Mommy and Daddy are gone to take Jack Jack to the Dr! Loving my family time! {this posting just makes my brain hurt}

***Does anyone have a small male yorkie that may be a good stud dog? We need to breed Mrs. Chole or get rid of her lol! {this is Blake's most favorite status update EVER! they have no job, a kid, one kid on the way, yet they are wanting to selfishly breed a dog? come on now!}

***Has made a dicison! I refuse to the let satan control my mind anymore! I know that the Lord has our situation in HIS hands and that is the best place for them to be! I claim victory in the name of my Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST! {I can't decide if the grammar and spelling upsets me more than anything else about this}

***Sitting here at mom and dads watching the Alabama game and about to eat some yummy food grilled by the MASTER cook... that would be my hubby! He is called to grill fo sho! {'fo sho'?? this makes my brain hurt - my brain would throw up if it could}

***So I talked to them about my job this morning and she sais they are pulling resumes to interview and she would make sure to pull mine! So PRAY PRAY PRAY! I feel like I want and need this job! So I hope it is Gods will but if not I know he has another door to open for me!

***Is just praying that God takes contorl of this situation cuz I am not in the shape to deal with this anymore. I am stressed and sick of dealing with it all! I just need a job so bad! I know God has it in his hands and that is the only thing keeping me sane at this point! {this bothers me because of the poor planning of it all - how about you have a JOB before you have CHILDREN?}

***And the nausea begins.... I just feel kinda blah today! But I am enjoying my time with Carter man! We are spending the morning with Nana tomorrow, we got to take her for her dr apt. {and this is today's 'update'. she is pregnant AGAIN! why can't we put birth control in the water?}

{this is only ONE of the people I know that do crap like this - hurry up and get married so they can have the sex, only to have multiple children, have no college education or a JOB! It makes me angry because they say it is all 'God's will' but to me, it is all ignorance. That is what these people do, blame their stupidity on 'God's will' and say that Satan is making them sick or preventing them from getting a job! ARGH!}