Monday, July 26, 2010

Not Much Worth Saying...

Wow, was last week a busy week.  And a long week.  And trying to say the least.

I had some down time this weekend and I finished a few books - both chick lit - that weren't half bad.  One wasn't even so memorable that I can remember its name right now, but the second, The Divorce Party by Laura Dave, was a wonderful beach / patio / curled up on the couch read.  It went quickly and didn't make you think.  Perfect for a summer read.  It's being turned into a movie which will be a perfect summer movie as well.

What's sad is that's all I can think of to say about it.  It was vapid to say the least but I liked it.

I think my brain is frazzled from last week.  And right now, I'm too tired to say much of anything else.

Monday, July 19, 2010

That Irish Lady Again...

Tana French's new book came out last week.  I finished it Saturday and if it weren't for the surprisingly wonderful read from Saturday night*, you would have heard about it already.  I finished both of her first books in (close to) one day, but I made this one drag out a bit.  Her first book was such a surprisingly good read that I couldn't help myself.  When I read the second book, I already knew the third one was coming out in a few weeks.  But this one just came out.  Which means it had to be savored.

The new book, Faithful Place, once again centers on a character we were introduced to in the last book.  I'm a bit nervous because I have no idea what character might be featured in the next one.  Plus this one didn't have anything to do with the last story other than that it had a shared character, but nevertheless, the story was fantastic.  I love that her stories usually bring up crimes that happened in the past - very Cold Case, which not surprisingly is one of my favorite shows - but make the fact that they've surfaced right now seem so plausible.  This one involves young love, family issues, and police drama, all of the best ingredients for a truly wonderful book.  Oh, and the ending isn't totally satisfying again, in the best possible way.  We don't ever really know what happens.  She knows when to stop giving us details, which in my opinion is one of the best things about her books.  They leave us haunted.

The only bad thing about Faithful Place, like I already mentioned, is the fact that I don't know when her next book is coming out.  The story went quickly, the characters felt real, and the love and hate expressed in her words were both so real.  If you weren't convinced by my earlier post about her other stories, I hope you'll take the time to read them now.

*It's worth mentioning it again.  Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  Read it.  I finished it yesterday afternoon and pretty much had only put it down to get some sleep.  It's not the quickest read, which for someone like me is a good thing, but I enjoyed every single minute of it.  Perfect for Saturday afternoons by the pool, a long road trip, or just kicking your feet up after a long day at work.  A lot of the story focuses on the music from whatever decade they are living in - all of the songs we grew up loving are featured.  Ok I'll stop... but seriously, I'll probably buy it just to keep it on my bookshelf.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

A Post in Which I Get a Little Vulnerable

I had planned to write about the book I finished this morning when I got a chance to get on the internet, but I can’t right now.  It’s 12:06 on a Saturday night and I’m reading a book that has brought me to tears more than once.  It hits close to home and late night on a weekend when you haven’t spoken to a soul other than your cat and your mother is not the time you want to be reminded of your shortcomings.

The book, Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah, is about two girls who become best friends when they are fourteen. The book follows their lives thereafter.  Their friendship might not be the most realistic if you ask me, but the outright love that is portrayed through the book is.  And the  other central story of the book is more realistic than I care to admit.  One of the woman falls in love with a man who has fallen in love with the other woman.  Not to give anything away, because it’s pretty easy to see early on anyway, but the first woman ends up getting the man, marrying him and having his children.  Even so, she always feels like she was his second choice.

Now, I’m only half way through the book but it has cut me to the core.  Forgive me for getting too personal, too involved in a freaking paperback novel.  I’ve never fallen in love with a man who loves my best friend but I do know what it feels like to feel like the second choice.  What kills me is that men are so damn closed off that half the time we don’t know whether we really are the second choice or whether we just think that.  I don’t know that it matters.  Because what a woman feels and thinks are more powerful than what is real most of the time.  And just like the story in this book, where the man really truly does love his wife but is still half looking for what could have been with the other woman, men do that to us all the time without even realizing it.

Like I said, it’s after midnight on a Saturday night and I’m feeling lonely.  And this book isn’t helping.  It’s beautifully written and makes me long to be the other girl.  She’s free spirited, beautiful, even if she’s more vulnerable in the inside than she looks.  But at least she can hide it.  Instead of pretending I’m fine, I’m checking my phone obsessively for a text message that I know will never come, from a man who’s a lifetime (and time zone) away, writing about it in my blog.  But I couldn’t just let the night pass without mentioning this book.  Read it.  I dare you to open yourself up the possibility that friendship and love can both be this real.

Friday, July 16, 2010

John Grisham for Women

Ok, I promised a post about the great book I was reading last week.  House Rules, the newest book by Jodi Picoult - an author I discovered years before her My Sister's Keeper fame - was one of those books that I literally couldn't put down.  It was fantastic.  Truly remarkable.  Like all of her books, I felt myself truly feeling for the characters.  I cannot tell you how many times I've read one of her books on an airplane and had the lady next to me hand me a tissue or ask if I'm going to be ok.  She writes these stories that everyone can relate to but we all hope never to deal with... terminally ill family, school shootings, rapes and murders, general family issues.  All of her books have the added bonus of being very character-in-a-courtroom driven.  I've always called her John Grisham for woman and I'll stand by that.

I mean I love a good John Grisham, or John Grisham-like, novel but sometimes I can't bring myself to care for another boardroom executive who steals the companies money or murders someone in cold blood.  But a mother who is trying to protect her family?  That I can drawn into time and time again.

The thing with her novels is that she writes from so many different perspectives.  The very first book of hers I remember reading, Perfect Match, is about a woman who prosecutes sex offenders - until her young son gets molested himself.  The terrifying ordeal that follows tears apart her family, challenges her faith, and gives everyone new perspective on the court system in our country.  Never mind that Picoult writes multiple chapters from the perspective of the young boy as he sits on some man's lap.  We all know what is going on but she writes from the point of view of the child, who is much more oblivious than the enlightened adults who follow his story.  Her description of the boy sitting on a man's lap, petting the man's cat as the molester gives reason for the boy to trust him still haunts me today.  *shutters*

I could point out moments in almost every story of hers that stick with me.  Moments that made me look at my life a little differently and know that I would react exactly the same way, no matter how irrational the character seems.  Regardless of if a woman gets in trouble for shooting the man who hurt her family... wouldn't you do the same thing if you had the opportunity?  Wouldn't you want to protect the people you love no matter what?  I know that I would.

I remember when I was a young girl and someone beat me up in the 5th grade.  My little sister, a tough 2nd grade tomboy, stormed into the office out for blood.  She was prepared to beat the hell out of whoever had hurt me, no matter how much bigger or stronger he was.  I look at her now as she's preparing to move across the country with her boyfriend and someday soon build a family of her own and know that she would still do the same thing today.  We all would.  Because that's what families do.

Bottom line, read anything you can get your hands on by this wonderful woman.  Plus, look at her.  I want to be her friend... I want to sit down for coffee and pick her brain.  Her stories are those that I could only dream to write someday.  They are so involved and the authors intelligence is evident as each and every story unfolds.  But so is her compassion, her ability to empathize with a family's suffering.  I would love to see her interact with her own children on Christmas morning.  Because someone who writes this well must live a life we can only dream to build for ourselves some day.

Friday, July 9, 2010

In the Middle of a Good Book... But a Bad Week

I have had a truly horrendous week.  I've been too exhausted at night to do much reading and my cat is driving me nuts so I can't even take comfort in cuddling with her.  I'm definitely a Debby Downer this week.

That being said, my life is going really well. 

I've been busy at work which means that I'm needed here.  And I really love the work I do.  Even during shitty weeks like this, I don't wake up in the morning dreading going to work.

I took a long weekend last weekend to visit my Nashville friends and while my life there is confusing - let's put it in book terms and say that I closed the book because I thought I was done with it only to discover that I wasn't and now I can't figure out what chapter I'm supposed to be on - I truly love some of the people I have met there. 

This weekend I'm heading up to Minnesota to visit those friends, many whom I haven't seen in quite some time.  I'm tired and grumpy but there's no way I'll stay that way when I get to see my favorite people!

Plus, I'm in the middle of the newest book by my favorite author and it's FANTASTIC.  I could devote entire weeks of blog posts to her and her wonderful novels but I won't.  Today I won't review anything.  Instead, I'll take some time to think about the things going on around me, finish the book I'm in the middle of, and start over next week.  Because next week has to be better than last week, right?  Hopefully this book is a sign that the next few weeks of books will be better too - I'm really sick of reading books that I don't really care for.  And I'm sure those of you who do read my blog are sick of hearing about them!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What Was Lost and Found in a Place Called Here

I feel like I've been writing about a lot of negative things lately.  I don't mean to be a Debby Downer.  Not in the least.  I've just read some not-so-hot books lately.

I just finished What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn last weekend.  I really have been on an Irish crime drama kick lately and this one sounded like it fit the bill.  It was about a girl who disappeared and focuses on the main suspects sister.  The plot wasn't awful but it was disjointed (to say the least) and just didn't give me what I wanted.  Funny, because it reminded me a bit of a book I read last winter called There's No Place Like Here.  This book was written by the woman who wrote P.S. I Love You - she's also an Irish writer - and was said to be pretty decent.  Yeah, no.

Both books had great characters, great story lines, and authors who were interesting.  Both left enough to the imagination on the book jacket that they made me actually want to burrow in and read them.  Both left enough to the imagination after I was done reading that I was severely disappointed.

It's never a good thing when you finish a book and think "I need 100 more pages to actually understand what the heck is going on with ANY of these characters."  Authors should leave you thinking "I want 100 more pages because I love these characters" not "... because I don't know these people at all!"

Both books looked at things that were lost and where to find them.  Maybe that's my problem.  Books, like life, can't give you all the answers.  They can't always fulfill you with their characters, just as people can't always fulfill your needs no matter how much you want them to.  Sometimes characters simply don't develop the way the author thought they would - maybe they just aren't as alive as they should be or their story line stopped flat so the book just had to end earlier than the reader wants.  That's the same as any real relationship though.  People sometimes just fall flat.  And really, I've learned in my life that it's worse to keep dragging the narrative out when it has reached its natural end than to just let it go away.  It's not always easy to do this but it's (usually) better in the end.

Instead of complaining about these authors, maybe I should applaud them.  They knew when enough was enough - or did they?  I guess I don't really know.  But considering that I would probably read another book by either author, and I actually would recommend both books if you're looking for a mindless read, I guess it doesn't matter either way.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Revolutionary Boring

Ok, let me take a minute to remind you that I'll read anything.  Well, almost anything.  I especially love books that get good reviews or who have stood the test of time, even if they sound terribly boring.  I think I need to start following my gut and stop reading them just because someone else said they were worth my time.  I guess if I have to listen to someone else to convince my something is wroth my energy, I should know better than to think they are right.

I recently read Revolutionary Road, the "critically acclaimed" book that was made into a movie not long ago.  The movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio and considering I've been crushing on him since middle school, I figured I'd read the book and then get the movie through Netflix. 

Now, I'm sure there are people out there who disagree but I found that book incredibly boring.  Maybe I just don't get it but I thought it was pretty rotten.  It had its moments but I had no trouble putting it down for long stretches of time and only finished it because I have a hard time not finishing books once I've started them.  I got the Netflix dvd earlier this week and unfortunately I feel the same way about the movie.  Actually, I think the movie might be worse.  At least the book was well written even if the characters were pretty flat.  I turned the movie off half way through.  I'll finish it eventually, but considering that it's Netflix so its not due back any time soon, I'll get to it when I get to it.

I'm taking a long weekend this week and I don't want to muck it up with boring movies or books.  I'm in the middle of another boring but praised book, Still Alice, and I refuse to even bring it with me.  Still Alice has an interesting plot - it's about a world-renowned psychologist who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's - but again, I just knew before I started it that I wouldn't be interested.  I understand why I should read it and like I said, the topic is interesting, but the book is just a pile of mud waiting for me to get through and I'm afraid my emotional and psychological waders just can't hold up.

Maybe I should start trusting my gut before I pick up a book.  I'm sick of getting muck in my boots.  Actually, I'm sick of dealing with muck in my life.  Maybe I should trust me gut when it comes to more than boring books.
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