Monday, June 29, 2009

4 Blondes by Candace Bushnell

I have to admit that I am intregued by Candace Bushnell. I never did read or watch Sex in the City (I just saw the movie a couple of weeks ago, but that's it). But I know that a lot of her writing gets compared to a number of books that I do like to read. So I brought home a whole gamut-full load of them from the library a few days ago and figured I start with the earliest to the newest. The one they didn't have was Sex in the City, so I've started off with her second offering, 4 Blondes. 4 Blondes is a collection of 4 stories. Each featuring its own blonde female lead. Each woman is different. Each woman struggles with different things (fame, marriage, career...). I'm still not sold on Bushnell from this book. I think her writing is good. She captures the character well, but the stories just left me feeling sad. Where is the humanity in the lives of these women, or is it all just artiface? Or is that the point? The stories are graphically written, so be prepared for that too. I've just started her next offering (featuring characters for the first short story in 4 Blondes) so we'll see how I feel about her in a couple of days.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult

I absolutely ate this book up. It was one of those library flukes. I had this and one other Picoult book left to read on my list and I don't expect any of her books to ever be in in the library (usually you have to place a request order in), but on a whim I checked and there it was. I couldn't believe it.
So of course it was the 1st of the books I got that day to be opened and enjoyed. And enjoy it I did. Of all the topics I would never think to write about it would be the Amish. They are untouchable in a lot of ways, but completely intreguing at the same time, so I can see why Picoult would use them as a subject for one of her books.
The premise is that a newborn is found dead on an Amish farm. The death is suspicious and charges are laid on an Amish teenager. Modern and old world collide with the relationship of the girl in question and the lawyer who is to defend her.
I don't want to write too much about this one for fear of giving too much away, just know that I enjoyed it and reccommend it.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Weekly Geeks - Challenges

This week's Weekly Geeks post referred to reading challenges:

"Reading Challenges: a help or a hurt? Do you find that the reading challenges keep you organized and goal-oriented? Or, do you find that as you near the end of a challenge that you've failed because you fell short of your original goals? As a result of some reading challenges, I've picked up books that I would have otherwise never heard of or picked up; that, frankly, I have loved. Have you experienced the same with challenges? If so, which ones? Do you have favorite reading challenges?"
As we pass the halfway point of 2009, how are you doing with your reading challenges? Did you participate in any challenges this year?"

Well, seeing as I'm fairly new to book blogging, I'm also fairly new to reading challenges. I discovered them a little later into 2009 and joined 2 - the 100+ books hosted by J. Kaye and the Read Your Own Books Challenge hosted by Miz B.
They both pulled me in for different reasons. The 1st challenge I honestly wondered how many books I read a year and I don't know the answer, so why not track. Now that it is halfway through the year I find I'm slightly behind a halfway to 100 (I think I'm at 36) and it has me wondering a few things. Should I delibrately pick books that I know I can breeze through just to say I've read 100 books in a year? Or, should I allow myself to deviate from this challenge to savour my books a bit more? Maybe there's a balance in there somewhere. I do know that I've abandoned my own personal classic challenge a bit this year because I know it will take me longer to finish. I try to read at least 2 classics a year. I purchased Vanity Fair back in March and loved it but then put it down. I picked it up again today just as I was pondering this notion. So maybe I will take the extra time to savour a delicious book such as this, but hopefully find a few read in a night books shortly thereafter to balance things out a bit.
The second challenge, I've found so easy because I don't have to know exactly how many of my own books I'd like to read this year, I just note them down as I go.

Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve

Welcome to a Weekly Geeks follow-up! Last week's topic involved leaving questions for books to be reviewed in the future, assuming that you would use these questions as the basis of a future write-up. I received questions from 6 other geeks about this one.
First the premise: Olympia Biddleford is a 15 year old well off young lady in the last summer of the 1800's. She is transitioning from living life as a child to living life as a lady. Her father is very well connected in New England and her mother lives somewhat as an delicate invalid. Olympia is extremely bright and mature for her age, her father having decided to remove her from ladies institutions and home schooling her himself. That summer she meets John Haskell, a guest of her fathers and a much older, married father of 4. Olympia falls in love with him and the novel concentrates on the circumstances and fall out of such an affair.
Now the Q & A:

Jacqueline C said...

I just received a copy of Anita Shreve's Testimony. Is this your first Shreve novel? If so, would you read another by her? If not, have you read Testimony or do you plan to?

This is my 3rd Shreve novel. My previous 2 were The Pilot's Wife and Testimony. Click over the titles for my reviews of these books. I did find this book much different from those until the last 1/4. Testimony is my favorite of hers so far. I do plan to read more of her books in the future

Louise said...

I've only read one of Anita Shreve's books, and while I found it an okay read, it did not really make me want to check out more of this writer's works. How did you like this book?

I don't know if I would have pursued Shreve's books on the basis of this one. I found the first half tough to get through and enjoy. As I said, it did pick up steam later on, but I also wasn't completely happy with the ending.

Dreamybee said...

I really like Fortune's Rocks, but I haven't liked the other books of hers that I read as much. There's the fact of a younger girl-older man relationship in this novel. Did that bother you, or did you enjoy the story anyway (assuming you enjoyed the story, that is)?

The relationship really did bother me. I thought it was indulgent and kind of ironic considering the character's own judgements of other questionable relationships later on in the book.

gautami tripathy said...

I liked Shreve's The Pilot's Wife? Have you read that? How does it compare with her other books? Do you recommend?

See above answers

pussreboots said...

I like Shreve's books but haven't read the one on your list. What did you think of it?

This was not my favorite of her books. I don't know if it was just the relationship I didn't like or the style, which is different from other books of hers that I enjoyed.

Eva said...

What type of writer is Shreve? I don't know anything about her, so does she write in a certain genre?

Shreve writes drama. She has a good sense of character and situation.

*After posting I realised that I had read another of Shreve's books recently bringing my total to 4 of her books. My review of Resistance can be found here.

For Better, For Worse by Carole Matthews

Welcome to fantasy love story 101. This book has everything in it you can imagine in an imaginary life. That's exactly how I felt reading this book. The situations are highly unlikely and highly unrealistic and quite possibly could have make a nice afternoon chick flick instead of a book. It's all in the name of good fun right?
The premise revolves around an English girl on her way to New York to stand up for her American cousin at her wedding. Our lead has just signed her own divorce papers (her husband having left her for a newer model). The cast includes the so-called ex, who may or may not be wanting her around. The handsome near-perfect stranger she sits next to on the plane. Her cousin. And her cousin's not quite what she expected fiance. If you are looking for a rainy Saturday light read then by all means, grab a spot on the couch with a mug of cocoa to keep you entertained.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Weekly Geeks Review

So it took me a couple of tries reading this week's Geek topic to 'get it'. Maybe it's because my 2 year old decided it was a good idea to get up before 6:30 on a Sunday morning. Now that I get it, have a read and see if you get it too:

1. In your blog, list any books you’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet. If you’re all caught up on reviews, maybe you could try this with whatever book(s) you hope to finish this week. (Be sure to leave a link to this post either in the comments of this post, or in the Mister Linky below.)

2. Ask your readers to ask you questions about any of the books they want. In your comments, not in their blogs. (Most likely, people who will ask you questions will be people who have read one of the books or know something about it because they want to read it.)

3. Later, take whichever questions you like from your comments and use them in a post about each book. Link to each blogger next to that blogger’s question(s).

4. Visit other Weekly Geeks and ask them some questions!

I'm caught up on my book reviews so I'm going to list 2 books that I'm currently reading.
The first is For Better, For Worse by Carole Matthews and the second is Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve. So fire away. Questions ready? Go!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult

Yes, I'm still working my way through Picoult's books (I have 3 left currently). This one sets itself up on a great premise. A man who has been recently released from prison sets up a life for himself in a small town. He was a teacher. He served time after being (falsely) accused of statuatory rape. As word gets out that there is a sex offender among them, the townspeople do their best to make them get the message that he is not wanted in their town. They are trying their best to maintain the look that nothing like that would ever happen here. As you read you begin to discover that the perfect small town is not perfect after all. There are many secrets hidden in this town.
This book does a lot of good in paralleling. It parallels the witch hunts of the past (1600's) to the witch hunt of the present (going after our main character). It parallels a falsely accused rape with a real one. It sets several father-daughter relationships in juxtaposition. There's a lot more to this book than first meets the eye.
Modern day witchcraft does take place as part of the storyline. I think it's a pretty accurate depiction of wicca and some of the things that happen. I know Picoult did her research well for this. I am not a fan of wicca myself. I know people who have practiced it. I do believe that there are powers out there that we know very little about and that we shouldn't be involved in. I live my life according to the teachings of Christ and the only spirit that I want working in my life is the Holy Spirit. I guess I just mention this as there were parts of this story that made me uncomfortable (spellcasting) - I wondered how much of what I was reading were real spells and if there are any affects by reading them. I don't know the answer to that. But I did pray often as I read this book.
The most relavant and interesting part of the story to me was the notion of a teacher being falsely accused of statuatory rape and being convicted for it. It sounds far fetched - why would someone make something like that up? right? Well, the truth is is that it happens more than we would like to admit and I've seen how it has affected people's lives. I know of one young teacher who ended up leaving the school district he was working in after a student accused him of sexual assault. He didn't do it. The only thing he did was turn her down. He decided to leave out of kindness for her. He didn't want to drag her down and become a big city show, so being young in his carreer he started fresh somewhere new. I know another teacher who is a wonderful man and had to leave his job while an investigation took place regarding an accusation. Again, he was innocent, but of course the rumours fly and it takes it's toll.
Many young men in particular have to be so careful. Teachers, pastors, coaches any one that could be a target for attention from a young girl can become a mess. They have to make sure that they are never alone with any of them, ever. Never leave yourself in a vulnerable situation.
Why do these girls do this? Often, girls who accuse someone have had something terrible happen to them , but not neccessarily from the person they are accusing. Often, they have felt slighted in some way by that person (perhaps they had been turned down by them) and turned the anger they feel from one situation and put in onto this one. I know grown adults who are so kind and wonderful with kids who have had kids say to them "I'm going to get you for this" when they have been disciplined and then make some terrible accusation. Of course, that adult needs to be taken out of contact with these kids when the accusation is made - we need to protect our kids! Unfortunately we live in a fallen world where there are a lot of perverts out there. And I want to make that clear. Not every accuser makes it up - by a long shot! I feel terribly for anyone who has been abused (sexually or otherwise) and my heart and soul cries out for them with rivers of tears and heartbreak. But likewise, there are people out there who do make things up, for whatever reason. And my heart breaks terribly for the person they hurt in the process. It also hurts for that child because somewhere, sometime, something has happened for them to act in such a manner and that isn't right either.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Debutante Divorcee by Plum Sykes

You knew this was coming right? After finishing Sykes' first novel earlier this week, I sought out her second (and unfortunately for me, only other novel currently). Debutante Divorcee is a wonderful, light satire at the view of marriage of the elite of New York's Social Scene. As much as this is light, you can see the underside of taking marriage lightly in this book. Are these people as happy as they project? What is behind all the masks of late night soirees and the latest fashion escapades? For me, who will never be part of anything like it, it's a great romp of fun.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Testimony by Anita Shreve

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! I ate this book up. I made the mistake of starting it at bedtime, thinking I would get in a few pages before I turned out the light. An hour and half later I was forcing my eyes to stay open to keep going.
I won this book in a giveaway at Popin's Layer and was so excited when it came in the post last Friday!
The premise is that a sex scandal breaks at a private school and describes the events leading up to and the fall out after the incident. Written by several points of view (and several styles) this book is a page turner. You, along with the characters are trying to summise the real story here. Definately one to pick up for you next book club choice.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bergdorf Blonds by Plum Sykes

This really was the perfect get me back reading book. It was light. It was funny. It was chick lit. This is Plum Sykes first novel (about 5 or 6 years old now I think) - some of the references are dated but that's the joy of living trendy. The book centres around an unnamed New York girl living the trendy life as only a New York girl can. You can fill in the names of real-life non-stars famous for being famous people that could qualify as characters for this book. I enjoyed it. It was well written and happy. I'm going to look out for more of her books :o)

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's Monday

I'm out of my reading rut! Today I'm reading Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes