Monthly Archives: July 2011

Next Up: Broken For You

Broken For YouIn the past few days, I’ve been cramming in some work books, but I’m ready to get back to the list. You know what that means… back to searching the archives to see whether I title these posts “Next Up” or “Up Next.” It’s the important things.

So, next up (and up next) is Stephanie Kallo’s Broken For You. I chose this one because, well, it’s on the list so why not? Plus, I just saw that it was selected as a Today Show Book Club pick. I didn’t even know the Today Show had a book club, but sounds like a ringing endorsement to me.

Need more info? Fine here it is:

When we meet septuagenarian Margaret Hughes, she is living alone in a mansion in Seattle with only a massive collection of valuable antiques for company. Enter Wanda Schultz, a young woman with a broken heart who has come west to search for her wayward boyfriend. Both women are guarding dark secrets and have spent many years building up protective armor against the outside world. As their tentative friendship evolves, the armor begins to fall away and Margaret opens her house to the younger woman. This launches a series of unanticipated events, leading Margaret to discover a way to redeem her cursed past, and Wanda to learn the true purpose of her cross-country journey.

Hopefully, it will be good. But if it’s not, you’ll hear it from me. Since I’m mean now and all that.

 

Some Constructive Criticism For The Blog

Charlie Bit Me VideoCarley gave me some constructive criticism for the blog yesterday (thus the title of this post). She said I’m too nice. While she meant it specifically about my posts, I’m going to take it more generally because it’s the best kind of criticism to get I think! What can I say, it’s a trait I get from my mom. And if I’m going to be honest, I’m not that nice.

But when it comes to my reviews I am. I can’t help it! Carley says I can’t just say books I don’t like “aren’t my cup of tea,” but authors put so much hard work into their books that I find it hard to be too negative. Reading is also so personal that I realize just because I didn’t like something doesn’t mean other people won’t. I understand that’s not really what reviewing is about though. This is why I’m not cut out to be a reviewer. Maybe I should turn this blog into a compendium of funny baby videos. I’ll reevaluate when I finish my mom’s list.

In the meantime, I’m going to take Carley’s words to heart and get tougher, get meaner, get stricter. If that’s okay and if I can do so without hurting people’s feelings and everything.

A Review of World and Town

World and TownI really liked the cover of Gish Jen’s World and Town. I did not really like the book. I feel like there’s a “Don’t judge a book by its cover” lesson in there somewhere.

Of course, I must preface this review by saying, I just don’t think it was my cup of tea. World and Town got great reviews and in some ways I can see why. The writing is very nice. There is a rich back story. It just didn’t work for me.

Hattie, the main character, has retreated to the small town of Riverlake after the death of her best friend and her husband. As she attempts to move on, she is confronted by her first love and gets entangled in the lives of her new neighbors, Cambodian refugees.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, but part of the problem is that I only really cared about Hattie’s. I also just found all of the story lines to move too slowly. The writing is punctuated by quotes, either quoting old friends, philosophers or scientific theories, which I found distracting and made the plot drag. As my mom would probably say, not enough dialogue!

In the end, I did wind up caring about what happened to most (though not all) of the characters. But now I’m very ready to care about a new group of characters in a new book.

P.S. Today is my mom’s birthday. I’m thinking of her on this and every other day.

Friends With Benefits Disses Barnes and Noble

Friends With BenefitsI spent the weekend trying to beat the heat… and only sometimes successfully. That meant a weekend filled with a museum visit, frozen yogurt for lunch, reading in the air conditioning and a trip to the movies.

Yesterday, I saw that other No Strings Attached movie, this time called Friends With Benefits and starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Was it a great movie? Hardly. But it was a very nice way to spend a hot Sunday afternoon.

I had one major beef with the movie though (aside from forced dialogue and an unoriginal premise). It had a joke that was in very poor taste. No it wasn’t racist or sexist. But it did offend me. Don’t worry, for all of those about to run out to see the film, this will not in anyway ruin it. In fact, it was a very minor scene. In it, a man from an unnamed website known as the biggest seller of books (ahem) is talking about how people do ridiculous, illogical things. For example, he says, “People buy full priced books from Barnes and Noble!”

Ouch.

Hasn’t the book world been kicked enough lately (RIP Borders)? Use all the movie cliches you want and play with our heartstrings, but leave my books alone! I for one am very thankful there are still people out there that buy full priced books at Barnes and Noble. So there.

The Next Book Club Pick Is…

Art of ForgettingI know it’s boring to talk about the weather, but it’s hot in New York. Like really, face-melting, buckets-of-sweat-producing hot. A good way to distract myself is to read and think about books. So it’s lucky that the next book club pick was sent out. We’ll be reading The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan. I’m sure there’s a joke in there about forgetting the plot or something, but it’s too hot to think of it.

So instead of being clever, I’ll just give you the publisher’s description:

Marissa Rogers never wanted to be an alpha; beta suited her just fine. Taking charge without taking credit had always paid off: vaulting her to senior editor at a glossy magazine; keeping the peace with her critical, weight-obsessed mother; and enjoying the benefits of being best friends with gorgeous, charismatic, absolutely alpha Julia Ferrar.

And then Julia gets hit by a cab. She survives with minor obvious injuries, but brain damage steals her memory and alters her personality, possibly forever. Suddenly, Marissa is thrown into the role of alpha friend. As Julia struggles to regain her memory- dredging up issues Marissa would rather forget, including the fact that Julia asked her to abandon the love of her life ten years ago- Marissa’s own equilibrium is shaken.

With the help of a dozen girls, she reluctantly agrees to coach in an after-school running program. There, Marissa uncovers her inner confidence and finds the courage to reexamine her past and take control of her future.

I haven’t heard much about this book yet, so I’m looking forward to diving in. Diving in… that makes me think of a pool. A pool would be nice right about now.

The Beckhams’ Welcome A Literary Baby

The BeckhamsSo much for my resolution to only post about the books on the list. I figure I gave that up months ago.

But, while this news (and I use the word “news” loosely) doesn’t have to do with the list per se, it does have to do with two of my mom’s favorite things: books AND pop culture.

David and Victoria Beckham just had a new baby and they named her Harper. David explains why: “Victoria’s favorite book is ‘To Kill A Mockingbird,’ and the author was Harper Lee. It’s a very strong, passionate book. That’s where Harper came from.”

To Kill A Mockingbird is certainly a name-your-child-after-it worthy book. I know I’ve always really liked it. And now more and more people in the UK are getting exposed to it. Since the Beckhams announced their baby girl’s name, sales of To Kill A Mockingbird have increased by 123% on Amazon.co.uk.

A Pandora for Books: Yes, Please

Book LampSo I’m about 10 years late to the party, but I’ve been listening to Pandora a lot lately. It keeps me company during the more mindless tasks at work and, now that I have the app on my iPhone, it is great entertainment on a picnic or at the beach.

Now just as I’m getting in the Pandora game, I read about a supposed Pandora for Books. According to the Mashable article about it, BookLamp “works by cataloging what the startup sometimes refers to as “DNA of books.” The Da Vinci Code, for instance, contains 18.6% Religion and Religious Institutions, 9.4% Police & Murder Investigation, 8.2% Art and Art Galleries, and 6.7% Secret Societies & Communities (among others), according to BookLamp’s engine. The program also catalogs things like denseness and length, all of which allow it to take someone’s favorite book and recommend others like it.”

Sounds good to me!

Then again, based on my adoption rate, I’ll really be getting into BookLamp in about a decade. We can chat about it then.