Monday, June 15, 2009

Triple Book Update

I managed to finish three books last week, but then I was lazy and didn't update the blog before starting the next one like I'm supposed to. Unfortunately only one of those books helped me make progress on my reading plan for our trip. I had a rough week at work and just wanted to read something light-hearted, plus I got my friend Jessica's book in and wanted to read it!

First up was by The Speaker Jessica Akers. I was so excited to read this one since I'm friends with Jessica! I've never read an actual published book by a friend before. Since Jessica and I share a love for all things Harry Potter and I was fortunate enough to spend several hours waiting in line for the last movie with her and her sister Bridget, I knew we had at least some similar taste in books and although I had never read anything of hers, she just seems like someone who would be a good writer.

It turns out I was right - she's a great writer and story teller. The story was interesting and well thought out, and the characters were relatable. It's a young adult book, and it does a good job of writing to that level without dumbing things down. I'm so happy for her and I wish her the best in her future writing - and can't wait to read her next book. And it will be nice when she's all famous and doing talk shows with Conan O'Brien and everything, and I can say "let me tell you about the time I sat on the floor in the Quail Springs AMC for like 5 hours talking to her!" :)

Book number two was Let Me Call You Sweetheart by Mary Higgins Clark. Clark's books also make for a nice relaxing evening. I suppose that's a little odd since her books usually involve murders, usually very violent murders of women and a large number include some sort of stalking/lurking/watching of the main (female) character when she's all alone. That doesn't seem to bother me. Perhaps it's the fact that we keep two loaded guns in the house. My Walther 22 is ready to go at a moment's notice. Anyway, the book was typically Clark fare. Entertaining and a good way to pass the time and get my mind of work. And there was a plastic surgeon who made women look like his dead daughter. Not much more you can ask for in this type of book.

And finally, book number three - A Rose for a Crown by Anne Easter Smith. Coming in at 632 pages, this also explains the need for something a literally a little lighter. (Even though it's third in this blog post, it was actually the first of the three I read.) It's a novel about Richard III's mistress. We know that he had a mistress and had children with her, but we aren't entirely sure who she was. So Smith created this story about a fictional woman who might have been his mistress and how that might have happened. I loved it. She did an excellent job of weaving together real and fictional characters, real and fictional events. I had to check the character list several times to make sure I had who was real straight because everyone seemed that way. Sometimes when people try to write using both, the real characters come off a little flat because the author doesn't quite feel comfortable since they aren't their creation - they were real people. Smith creates the Richard III of her imagination quite well. She did an excellent job of making him very sympathetic, and of making me want to believe that it was actually Henry VII who had the two princes in the tower killed, not Richard. Here he is quite the lovable character, not without fault, but likable and relatable. Certainly not the evil character from Shakespeare. Her logic does make it seem like Henry VII had much more to gain from the boys deaths than Richard, as does one of the books I'm currently reading, To Hold a Crown, which is actually about Henry VII and his wife Elizabeth of York, the boys' sister. I'm also reading a history book on this subject that argues for Richard as the killer, so it will be interesting to finish both of those. Anyway, I felt like this book was very well written and had a juicy story to it with characters that you actually cared about. It also made me quite grateful for all of the modern conveniences of indoor plumbing, electricity, birth control, choices - in who we marry, what our careers are, longer lives, health care, etc. I keep thinking about what life would be like if one of those characters dropped in to today's society. Can you even imagine? It makes me quite thankful for my life as it is, warts and all.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Books I Hate

So this blog and my goal of reading two books a week was supposed to help me actually finish two books a week and break me of my habit of starting 5 different books at once. This was working for a while, but I have started 6 books in the last two weeks and haven't finished any of them yet! Must stop doing that.

So since I haven't actually finished a book to write about, I decided to steal an idea from Brianne's blog and write about a few books I really hate. I know there are more than this, but here are the first three that came to mind.

1. She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb. This is by far the worst book I've ever read. I hated every second of it and cannot explain why I made myself finish it. I think it was because I had heard some good things about it so I kept convincing myself that it must get better, but it didn't. I hated the main character. Like in a kept vividly imagining her death kind of way. The story was, well, just non-existent. I have no idea why he wrote this book. Or why anyone published it. Or read it. Well, they read it because of Oprah, but I don't know why she read it. Terrible.

2.Beloved by Toni Morrison. No, I don't just dislike this because of Morrison's politics. I love Anna Quindlan and Barbara Kingsolver and well, pretty much any modern writer is at least somewhat liberal so I just accept that. Beloved was just awful though. Again, the main character was awful. And the sex against a tombstone scene was just disgusting. I get that it was supposed to be a metaphor, but it was poorly written and was just gross. You could tell Morrison was trying to make you feel sorry for blacks as a group, but it just made me mad at the main character because she was an idiot.

3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Okay, this one I would probably like if I read it again. But I had to read it my sophomore year of high school when I had Mrs. Satan as a teacher. Her goal in life seemed to be to make everyone absolutely hate reading, a rather odd goal for an English teacher. She was so overly focused on symbolism that she never talked about enjoying a story or character or anything else. EVERYTHING was about symbolism. Which is why Melanie and I started calling her Mrs. Satan. We figured her red hair symbolized her relationship with the devil. We made up a whole story about how she had a portal to Hell under her desk. Anyway, when we read Fahrenheit 451, she made us go through and find every single allusion we could find. We also had a write something about our favorite character, and I purposefully picked her least favorite character just to annoy her. Well, I ended up getting an F on that because that character wouldn't have been able to find as many allusions as I did - I had found like 300 or something. Anyway, so when I read this I mainly spent my time finding those stupid allusions rather than enjoying it. She sucked.