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.