Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The Christmas shopping season officially starts Friday. Crud.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Odd Can Be A Good Thing
Wickett's Remedy, by Myla Goldberg, is an odd book, but mostly it is a good book. It took me quite awhile to get into it, but eventually, I got rather swept up in it. Lydia was an interesting character. However, having finally been taken into the plot, the ending felt very abrupt. In fact, it didn't seem like much of an ending. The book felt unfinished.
One of the things that makes Wickett's Remedy an odd book is that there are notes in the margins, like you expect to find in a text book. At first I was frustrated by them, but as a read further, I began to understand their importance and appreciate the humor they provided. I even got used to having to stop reading the main story and look over to them for a moment.
I Could Have Been Reading Something Good!
Instead, I was reading Shaking Her Assets by Robin Epstein and Renee Kaplan. It looked like it could be really good; I am so disapointed.
I was originally drawn to the book by the bright, comic-style cover. I know I'm not supposed to judge books by their covers, but I am the daughter of two artists, and I even studied graphic design myself for a little while in college. I'm a very visuals-oriented person. What something looks like tends to matter to me. So, in bookstores or the library where I work, books grab my attention less with their titles, and more with their cover art.
After I read the description on the back cover, I was intrigued enough by the idea of the main character, Rachel Chambers, being turned into a comic book superhero by the art director at her temp job. This turned out to be the most interesting part of the story, but it wasn't as interesting as I had hoped. The rest of the story was almost boring.
I was also disapointed by the book poking fun at environmentalists and massage-therapists-in-training. Rachel gets a temp job with an organization called trees.org. It sounded as though maybe the trees.org folks get carried away sometimes, but as treehugger myself, some of what was said rubbed me the wrong way. It also bugged me that there was a vague implication that there was something wrong with the fact that Rachel's roommate and her roommates boyfriend were both training to be massage therapists.
So, I wouldn't recommend reading Shaking Her Assets, but if you do want to read it, you can have my copy.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
An Informal Guide to Chick-Lit
In case you haven't noticed, a lot of books I read, at least right now, are of the unofficial genre of chick-lit. I believe, though, that I only read quality chick-lit. Meg Cabot, Jennifer Crusie, Kavita Daswani, Janet Evanovich, Helen Fielding, Kristin Gore and Anna Maxted have all written novels that could be classified as chick-lit that have entertained me without leaving me wondering if I'd lost some brain cells somewhere between the front and back covers.
I'm not interested in everything by Meg Cabot. So far, I've only read her three loosely-tied "boy" books, which have been mentioned in previous posts.
In the case of Jennifer Crusie, I really only recommend her four most-recent novels-- Welcome to Temptation, Fast Women, Faking It and Bet Me.
With Janet Evanovich, I pretty much stick to her Stephanie Plum series (One for the Money, and so on...).
I do truly recommend Anna Maxted, but I admit I have so far had difficulty getting into her books at first. The main characters in the two I've read so far were girls I had difficulty identifying with, at least initially. One way or another, though, I found myself quite satisfied at the end of each of them.
Most recently, after reading In Her Shoes, I have added Jennifer Weiner to my good chick-lit list. I am looking forward to reading her other novels. I plan to read her first novel, Good In Bed next, because the main character (and her dog) from it made an appearance in In Her Shoes, so now I want to know more about her.
You might also check out Maeve Binchy and Rosamund Pilcher. Their names do not immeadiatly come to mind as chick-lit authors, but they write good books, and I suspect the majority of their readers are girls and women, although, who knows, I might be wrong. Also, they've both been writing since well before chick-lit was such a commen term, or at least before it was commen to me. In fact, I think Ms. Pilcher may have retired.
Friends of mine have recommended Jane Green and Nora Roberts, but I haven't gotten around to reading books by either of them yet, so I have no personnal opinion of them.
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants-- The Movie
Technically, I can't really make a judgment, because I haven't finished watching The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. The thing is, though, I'm not sure I'm going to bother watching the rest of the movie. I was afraid it might disappoint me. But, wow, I also thought it would be entertaining enough that I wouldn't decide to stop half-way through because I had laundry to do. Too many details were removed; it was playing out like a skeleton of the book.
I confess that I have submitted (sort of) to the low-carb trend. I've yet to even open either of them, but I have checked out two vegetarian low-carb cookbooks from the library, where I work.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Carl Hiaasen & Dave Barry
Dave Barry was the first of these two writers that I discovered. I knew people who were fans of his newspaper column, and eventually began reading it myself sometimes. I was amused when I discovered he'd written an actual novel, called Big Trouble. I immediately read it and loved it. A year or two later, I read Tricky Business and loved it too.
Last week, I picked up a copy of Carl Hiaasen's young adult novel, Hoot. Before I read it, I read a little about Carl Hiaasen online. The general description of Hiaasen's fiction sounded a lot like Dave Barry's fiction. Interestingly, they are both writers at The Miami Herald.
I pulled my copy of Big Trouble off the shelf to take a look at it's acknowlegements section, where Dave Barry had thanked several other authors. Sure enough, Carl Hiaasen was one of them: "I especially want to thank Carl Hiaasen, who is the master of the genre I tried to write in -- the Bunch of South Florida Wackos genre...". So I figured since I like Dave Barry's books so much, I was probably going to like Carl Hiaasen a lot too.
And I was right! Well, at least as far as Hoot, anyway. It was excellent. I read it in about twelve hours (with breaks for eating, checking e-mail, and stuff like that), so it's definitely a quick read. The characters were interesting, and the plot had a heavy streak of environmental activism. Having been directly involved in environmental activism, and continuing to care deeply about the future of the Earth, reading about kids trying to save owls was very enjoyable for me.