Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Queen of Water by Laura Resau

The Queen of Water
My rating: 4.2 of 5 stars

This is the story of Virginia, who is born into a poor farming family in an Ecuador village. When Virginia is 7 yo, her family sells/gives her as a slave to a well to do family who treats her cruelly. Virginia isn’t clear if she has been sold or given. Should she be receiving money from the family? She teaches herself to read and write and looks for ways to improve her lot in life. This book is about so many things – cultural differences, class discrimination, forgiveness but, most of all, making your life better regardless of the circumstances. I would think any young girl would love this book.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers

A Hologram for the King
My rating: 2.8 of 5 stars

This book was well written but depressing and didn’t seem to go anywhere. Eggers presents a reasonably moving depiction of Alan, a who has made some unwise choices and ‘victim’ of offshoring. As a result, he is not well off, financially or emotionally. He also captures Saudi Arabia life and their lack of sense of urgency very well. Overall, this book missed the mark for me and was just sad.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is set in 19th century China. While I really enjoyed the story of the foot-binding and understanding laotongs and women's roles in China, I felt that it dragged at the end. Still, it captured so many beautiful images and emotions that it was an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (Ender's Saga, #1)

My rating: 4.6 of 5 stars

It is so difficult to believe that the author came up with this book in 1967. Wow. It is an amazing book - picture a combination Twilight Zone episode with and a Paolo Coelho novel. Again, I am not a Sci-Fi fan but, this is so well told and the characters and their world come to life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi W. Durrow

Rating: 1 out of 5

This debut novel tells the story of Rachel, the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I. who becomes the sole survivor of a family tragedy. With her strict African American grandmother as her new guardian, Rachel moves to a mostly black community, where her light brown skin, blue eyes, and beauty bring mixed attention her way. Growing up in the 1980s, she learns to swallow her overwhelming grief and confronts her identity as a biracial young woman in a world that wants to see her as either black or white.

I tried to like this book but absolutely couldn't. It felt like it could have had possibilities but fell short. The characters didn't feel developed.  They felt stilted, flat and stereotypical. Rachel seemed shallow and irritating. It felt very immature and even condescending - maybe it was just the voices on audio as it was not quality reading and they definitely had a condescending simplistic tone.  Any attempts to be literary felt contrived. It felt like reading a young girls diary. I just couldn't get past the condescending tone.

This is the type of book that gives Young Adult novels a bad reputation. I realized I was forcing myself to go back to it in hopes that it would improve.  When I finally gave myself permission to give it up, I felt a huge sense of relief and happiness to move on to the next book.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Half Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

Half Blood Blues
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This started off strong. This was about Sid and his relationship with his jazz friends; the war setting provides a backdrop and the situation of black people in Berlin and Paris. Then it gets droningly long and boring. I wanted to like this book but it was just to drawn out.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

My rating: 4.8 of 5 stars

This is an extremely creative dystopian novel that takes place in 2045. Cline describes the world of high school student, Wade Watts, and the virtual reality world of OASIS in an easy way to make it reality for anyone (not just gamers). This is a sci-fantasy/treasure hunt that pulls you into the simulated world of OASIS where the creator of OASIS has recently died and left his entire fortune to the first person who is able to find the easter egg. I don’t like sci-fi, I am not a gaming addict and am not a child of the 80’s and yet I found this book extremely entertaining and intelligent and the characters real and likeable. Wade is a great protagonist and I laughed out loud frequently at Aech. Yes, there were times when this got a bit geeky and far-fetched for me but, you just have to go with it. I loved all the 80’s references (books, movies, music, tv shows). In the hands of a great producer (Spielberg or Lucas) I could easily see this becoming a cult classic movie. My hats off to Cline for such an original piece of work. Amazing that this is his first novel. I can’t wait for his next book!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak

The Sojourn
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The story of a young man, Josef’s, sojourn before, during and after WWI. He was raised in the hard existence of shepherds in the Czech mountains. This was well written and captures the brutality of that time yet some of it seems like it should have been more developed. All in all, an excellent read.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I can’t tell you the number of times I almost toasted this book. NUMEROUS! And that was in Chapter 1. This woman is a walking disaster and I have no idea how she has lived to be as old as she is. When she had a paragraph that said “I got an abortion and learned how to make dehydrated tuna flakes and ….” SERIOUSLY!? That is how much notice she gave to getting an abortion that she immediately is talking about making dehydrated tuna flakes??? It took everything I had to not chuck this book out the window at this point. The woman from my bookclub who recommended this book warned me to stick with it till it go to the actual part about hiking (Part II) After that point, it kept you hoping that Natural Selection would thrive – and she does come close. Unfortunately, it continues to inundate you with her ditziness and is so incredibly annoying that sometime into Part III I finally toasted it.