Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

I just finished reading Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I love Sherlock Holmes. I've watched every A&E Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and was really struck by how well done this show was. The stories were short, which I guess lends itself to making a good show (not a lot of details to try to include in an hour and a half) and there were always interesting plot twists. Unfortunately, I knew most of them already from watching such a well done show. Anyway, that's all I've read lately. I'm now reading an old favorite, Cold Comfort Farm.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sisters by Danielle Steel

I recently read this novel for our genre study at work.

What madness will ensue when four beautiful, successful, wealthy sisters converge on their parents’ home in Connecticut for the Fourth of July Weekend? This being Danielle Steel you can be assured there will be plenty of tragedy, drama, descriptions of clothing, jewelry and residences and terrible dialogue.

Sabrina, a high-powered attorney, Tammy, a big-shot Hollywood producer, Annie, an artist studying painting in Florence and Candy, the biggest supermodel in the world meet for a traditional weekend in July. Tragedy soon strikes when their beloved mother is killed in a car accident in which Annie is blinded. How will the sisters survive this horrible ordeal?

At first, it was hard for me to discern the appeal of Ms. Danielle, until it was pointed out to me that people like junk reading just as they like junk TV. For some reason, junk reading doesn't appeal to me as junk TV does. I found the plot of Sisters to be standard Lifetime Movie fare, which I love to watch, but it was unpalatable to me in book form.

The positive aspects of Danielle Steel's writing are that she does give you a glimpse into a moneyed and unfamiliar world that can be fascinating to read about. There are many descriptions of what the characters wear, where they live, where they go on vacation, how their houses are decorated and the fabulous places they frequent. She also does a good job of providing a dramatic and varied plot.
The negative aspects, for me, outweighed the positive. The characters are one-dimensional and not well-developed. They are interchangeble except for their hair color and careers. The writing style is abysmal and so flat and wooden that I found the novel hard to get into. The lack of any lyrical beauty or imaginative writing was depressing.
I am glad that I read this novel so that I know why Steel is popular, however it still saddens me that people love her novels and devour each and every one that is published.

Borders Coupon

Hey Girls, There is a forty percent off Borders coupon at this site for anyone interested.


Friday, March 20, 2009

Thanks Anbo!

I just finished reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society as previously reviewed by Anbo. I loved every second of this book. I started reading it this afternoon and could not put it down. I love this book not only for its story, but because of its celebration of the written word. I have a new found desire to learn about Guernsey and its people. As Juliet writes to Dawsey, "That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It's geometically progressive--all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment." I never thought anyone else could possibly understand this until I read it in better words than I could ever come up with. This book will ever be near and dear to my heart and I may have to buy a copy for my own private library. An honor indeed when I already have too many books for our 560 square feet, but well deserved.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Cutting for Stone is one of those books that sweeps you away. It is an epic tale of family, love, loyalty and betrayal that is set in the unfamiliar landscape of Ethiopia. Conjoined twin boys, Marion and Shiva, are born in a harrowing and traumatic scene as their mother, who is a nun, lies dying on the operating table. Their presumed father abandons them and they are adopted by Hema and Ghosh, Indian doctors who work at Missing Hospital, where the poor and suffering people of Addis Ababa are treated. The story glides through the decades of their youth, detailing the formation of the boys’ very differing personalities, the changes in the Ethiopian government and the way that medicine and the experience of growing up at the indigent hospital shapes their future lives and professions. An act of betrayal eventually splits Marion and Shiva apart and its consequences rebound through the years affecting every aspect of not only their lives, but their family's as well.
This is a first person narrative, told from the viewpoint of Marion. Written very descriptively with lush depictions of the Ethiopian vista and vivid portrayals of surgical procedures, the story is beguiling in its ability to pull you into the lives of this unusual family. If you enjoy winding sagas with engaging and memorable characters, try Cutting for Stone.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Skeeter Phelan is a young, white woman who’s graduated from Ole Miss in the early 1960’s. Directionless and bored living at home with her parents in Jackson, Mississippi she has plenty of time to observe and reflect on the southern tradition of white families employing black maids to run their households and raise their children. When an opportunity to write a book for Harper & Row arises Skeeter decides to enlist several black maids in Jackson to tell their stories of what it’s like to work for white families. Aibileen, the maid of Skeeter’s friend Elizabeth, agrees to help. Despite being fearful of losing their jobs and even their lives, many other maids, including Aibileen’s feisty best friend Minny, come to Skeeter with their stories and their book, despite several set-backs, is eventually written.
The Help is told from the multiple viewpoints of Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny. Because of this we get both sides of the story – what it was like to be white and privileged in Jackson, and what it was like to be black and invisible. This novel is very much character-centered and Stockett does an amazing job of creating realistic and sympathetic characters. Her use of historical details helps draw the reader into this world and her measured pacing keeps you hooked until the very last page. Though tragic at times, the novel’s message is essentially hopeful. I really enjoyed this book and was engrossed in it for several days. A lovely read.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tuesday Tasting

Turn to page 56 of the book you are currently reading and read the fifth sentence on the page:

"Her father was a man who cherished no sentimental reverence for Woman, but a firm belief in the equality of the sexes...From the time she could speak and go alone, he addressed her not as a plaything, but as a living mind...He called on her for clear judgment, for courage, for honor and fidelity."
- from A Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx by Elaine Showalter