2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 1 book toward her goal of 40 books.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

REVIEW for In Case You Missed It by Sarah Darer Littman

TITLE:           In Case You Missed It

AUTHOR:     Sarah Darer Littman

GENRE:        YA


I have read every book Sarah Darer has written, in fact, Want To Go Private? is one of my favorite books, so I was psyched to read In Case You Missed It.

Once again, Darer tackles the tough subject of social media and how it can destroy lives.

Unfortunately, for me, this book was just too slow going - especially if I compare it to Want To Go Private? which had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. 

This book does explore the down side of the internet and of social media, but I found myself not invested in any of the characters nor in the story itself. Darer's trademark down to earth writing is still there, but the pace of this one was just too slow and it somehow never seems to peak.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

REVIEW for Letter from New York - Helene Hanff

TITLE:            Letter from New York

AUTHOR:      Helene Hanff

GENRE:         Non fiction


I have a fascination with Helene Hanff.  I am not sure why, perhaps its because she wrote books that gave us only partial glimpses of her life?  which sounded so interesting.  Her love of books, New York and martinis.

Other than 84 Charring Cross Road, this is my favorite book written by Hanff.  Letter from New York is full of cute anecdotes (which  don't normally like, but loved in this book).  

Hanff gives us yet more glimpses into her life, but this time, it is completely directed at an audience - and the stories are wonderfully whimsical.  She talks about dogs, cats, Christmas, snow, Central Park and in the process gives us a view of her New York - of the New York of that time period, when the World Trade Center was something amazing to look at, when people worked together and when, somehow, time seemed sweet and plentiful.

Her writing, as always is endearing and I LOVED THIS BOOK!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

REVIEW for The Cabin

Thank you Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an e-galley of this book.

TITLE:                The Cabin

AUTHOR:           Natasha Preston

GENRE:              YA


The Cabin wasn't what I expected.  For one thing, most of the book takes place away from the cabin.  I was hoping for much more time spent there, building up the tension -you know sort of a bit like the Friday the 13th movies, where most of the action happens right on the premises.

Once I got over my initial expectations, I enjoyed this book and didn't want to put it down, which is why I rated this a 4 star.

I truly did not know who was guilty of what until the very end - I kept *thinking* I did, but I was kind of always wrong LOL, so that made me truly enjoy reading this story.  

What I liked:

-  the main character is smart and loyal and I do like how she is ready to stand by her friends;
-  the writing style is fun.  I like that her writing is down to earth, not too weirdly flowery (which I despise);
-   Blake is by far, the most interesting character and he was the one I wanted to see more fleshed out;
-    The twists were good and I truly did not figure out who did it;
-   Although vulgarity does not bother me, it was nice that the author crafted an interesting story without the need for any unnecessary sex scenes or language;
-   I did find myself engrossed in the story and for me that is always the most important thing.

What I didn't like:

-   You have to suspend your disbelief, up to a point, if you are going to enjoy this;  
-    The reasons disclosed for "what happened" felt flimsy to me - this needed to have more meat on the bones - I didn't buy it;
-    It bugged me that although all the characters were over 18, not one of them even had a summer job - its like they all had nothing to do except drink and hide secrets - not credible;

Overall though, this was a good story.

Friday, August 26, 2016

REVIEW for Underfoot in Show Business by Helene Hanff

TITLE:                    Underfoot in Show Business

AUTHOR:               Helene Hanff

GENRE:                  Memoir

RATING;                 3 Stars

I love the way Helene Hanff writes and I adored 84 Charring Cross Road, which is why I am reading through all of the books written by Hanff

This one is interesting in that it is a memoir, albeit, she skips over HUGE parts of her life, but still, this is a fun and addicting read.

I have always said that reviewing a memoir is tricky - since you end up reviewing both the writing style AND the content. 

As mentioned, love the writing style but Helene? not so much.  I have heard many positive things about this woman and granted, there is a lot missing in this memoir to be able to fully flesh out who she was.  Additionally, this was written at a very different time in society (I wish I could get an apartment in NY for what she was paying.  But I wonder if Helene realized just how shallow and well....lazy she comes across?  She is always poor, yet, gets fired at many jobs she has had because she was writing her plays instead of working.  She has a one track mind and while this can be admirable, it can also be pushed a little too far, which is the case here. 
The chapters where she and Maxine managed to get free movies, free plays while entertaining border on shameful.  Yes, I know it is all done in the name of pursuing their art - but still....there is something a little sleazy about the whole thing.

In fact, at one point someone asks Hanff what she does all day and she says (paraphrasing here) "not much".... yet, she lives in patched pants?  Maybe find a job? and write part time?
Yet, there is also a sense of security in this book, that everything will work itself out.  I mean, Hanff seems to just sit there and things fall on her lap - free luxury meals, plum TV writing jobs.....

One thing I loved about this book was the way Hanff describes NY in the 40's....it all sounded so amazing, I could almost picture it.

So, conclusion for me on this one - love/hate relationship.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

REVIEW for L.M. Montgomery's Complete Journal - The Ontario Years - 1911- 1917

TITLE:                  L.M. Montgomery's Complete Journals - the Ontario Years 1911-1917

AUTHOR:             Jen Rubio (edited by)

GENRE:                Biography

RATING:              3 Stars

I love LM Montgomery and actually read the "initial" Selected Journals, which were originally published a while ago.
My understanding is that this brand new journal, covering the Ontario Years, actually contains all of the original diary entries, written by LM Montgomery, while she was in Ontario, some of which never made it into the "initial" set of published journals.

As always, Montgomery's writing style is wonderful, I always feel as though I am transported when I read her writings, she can describe a scene, a situation or a regular boring meal and turn it into music, so why the 3 stars?

I have once stated that I am not sure I would like LM Montgomery if I actually got to really know her. She has always seemed a bit of a snob, which came out in the first journals, but is really obvious here.

Montgomery asked that none of her diaries be published until 50 years after her death in order not to hurt anyone mentioned in them (the idea being that they would all be dead by then). I can see why. Its amazing how many people she meets who are "not very bright", "are a bore" or "cannot entertain", who "are plain", etc.....Its awful. Yes, I know the entries reflect the time period, but WOW!

It takes away from the joy of reading these entries, it seriously does. Also, the tone of most of the entries is dark:

- she is very, very busy
- she is always tired
- she doesn't feel well, she is sick
- everyone is depending on her for, well....everything
- the war is horrible
- if only she could sleep for a month

fair enough....this is her diary and she is entitled to put in it what she wants.

Several years ago, the family (her heirs) actually came out and FINALLY admitted that LMM suffered from depression and these entries DO paint a picture of a woman who is unbearably sad, unhappy and alone, even when she isn't. It is painful to read as you want to reach out and help this amazing author who could dream up Anne and Gilbert, yet, lives in so much darkness.

But as I read this Journal, I felt angry in many ways, as it become apparent to me that one of the BIG reasons the original Journals were so sanitized was to "hide" LMM's illness from her readers, a huge disfavor to LMM's readers, who would have supported and UNDERSTOOD and continued to love her writing, I know I would have and it would have explained so much.

It is obvious that the original journals were extremely sanitized. In fact, in this book, LMM is very candid about why she married Ewan and what he meant to her - which comes as a big surprise since he has often been portrayed as one of LMM's huge problems - not so here and this comes directly from the author's own words.

Montgomery also spends some time talking about "all the men" in her life, which I thought was interesting (and quite honest of her).

Again, why only 3 stars?

Two reasons:

1) I lost interest in all the war entries. I know they were part of LMM's daily life, but war does not interest me at all.

2) MORE IMPORTANTLY - I feel cheated and somewhat manipulated by the "initial" Journals. So much was hidden from the readers back then, the heirs, the authors of the "initial" journals crafted their own version of the LMM they wanted us to see, instead of being honest with the readers and giving us the real LMM. Now, they have decided to do so, a day late and a dollar short - not cool.

FOR THAT, I give this book 3 stars.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Review for The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

TITLE:          The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street

AUTHOR:     Helene Hanff

GENRE:         Memoir


I loved 84 Charing Cross Road, which is how I discovered Helene Hanff.  

About 10 years ago, I went through a phase and read all of her books, including this one.  I decided to re-read 84 as well as this one, since it actually has been released on Kindle.

I have a few thoughts going through my mind this time around and one of them is how I didn't like it as much this time around.  

The book is in diary form, something I enjoy very much.  This is also a very easy read, as it is actually a small book and reads very quickly.  I also do like Helene's sarcastic ways, which comes through very well in this story, except that it also, at times, made her sound more like a whiny baby than a woman of 55.  At one point, some acquaintances basically spend the day driving her around and I do mean the entire day and when she doesn't get to see the sights she wants to see, she screams out "when am I going to see what I want to see" talk about being ungrateful, not to mention a whiny baby.  I never picked up on how ungrateful she was the first time I read the book.

The second thing I noticed more this time around was just how much of a mooch she was.  Yes, she was a celebrity of sorts and was always available to her fans, but it was because there was something in it for herself - free meals and being driven around everywhere and again, at no point does she appear particularly grateful.

I do like how Hanff was not a snob, despite having book signings - in fact, you get a strong feel that these are rather the means to an end for her - what got her to London and the rest is kind of background noise.

I love how she describes what she sees in London and how shopping is irrelevant to her - the history and the sights are what counts and she does a marvelous job of making us feel as though we are seeing there with her.

Finally, I was very disappointed with the diary entries and the connection to Marks & Co and the Doels.  She barely makes the connections for us and apart from one tiny mention of Doel when she "visits" the now empty bookshop, its like he never existed.  IN fact, that whole description of when she visits the bookshop is so inconsequential that she sounds as though she is visiting the local Barnes & Nobles.  In fact, the entries are very devoid of emotion - I think I would have more emotion visiting Marx & Co. than she had!  

I am not sure if Hanff is self centered and nothing gets to her or if she simply kept those emotions for herself, either way, it makes this book a 3 star read.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

REVIEW for Cross Kill (An Alex Cross book)

TITLE:              Cross Kill (An Alex Cross book)

AUTHOR;         James Patterson

GENRE:            Thrillers


I love Alex Cross - the only James Patterson character (books) I enjoy.

I am not sure how I feel about these "bookshots" - kind of a teaser in between books. Part of me feels as though it is a bit of a sleazy way to make even more $$$ as if Patterson needs it! Regardless, the book and story itself are great.

Cross is back and this time he comes face to face with an old enemy (or maybe not?) - lots happens in this story and Sampson features prominently (which is something that hasn't happened in a the last few books).

In 166 pages, its hard to tell a detailed story - and Patterson is not known for his detailed chapters (thank god!). The book ends on a cliffhanger - letting us salivate for the "actual" book in November 2016.

This story is good, it features Alex Cross (instead of the whole clan, which is what happened with the last book) and is about police work. Its very short and won't give much in the way of information, but it is a good read.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

REVIEW for Chancers

TITLE:              Chancers

AUTHOR:          and 

GENRE:            Memoir


This book is so hard to review - parts of it I loved and other parts - not so much.

I have always said that people who write memoirs are brave, putting it all out there must be so scary.

I was engrossed, for most of the story. Susan's point of view was the one I felt drawn to. Well told, excellent writing and at times, difficult to read because it shows just how smart women can be dumb when it comes to love!

As for Graham - all I kept wanting to say to him (and continue to want to say) is: grow up AND grow a pair. They say that when you are addict, you stop maturing at the age you first used - I..e. if you started at 12 - you are still emotionally 12, even if you are an adult and Graham is the clear definition of this.

I am not sure that helping with EVERY DAMN LITTLE THING - was actually helping him at all. What a baby and he did find someone (Susan) who was right there to help him with everything. This part of the story made me mad - she defines it as "standing by your man" and "being kind" - perhaps, but I am not so sure - this story certainly gave me lots to think about.

Nonetheless this is a 4 star read because it is interesting and honest.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

REVIEW for How It Ends by Catherine Lo

TITLE:                   How It Ends

AUTHOR:              Catherine Lo

GENRE:                 YA


I had really been wanting to read this, especially since the author is Canadian - I always try to encourage our Canadian authors.

It only took me three days to read this one and I had a hard time putting it down (but life interferes with my reading time). 

In short, the beginning of this book is the strongest part. It felt to me as though the middle floundered a little and the ending was.....predictable.

The subject matter is difficult and I am totally fine with that because these "social issues" need to be put out there so people and YA in particular feel as though they are not going through difficult times in a vacuum. 

But it felt as though the author did not really go far enough into the situation - to explore emotions, fears and basically the reality of it all.

I think this is where the book failed for me - the beginning was strong because the friendship between Jessie and Annie was well developed and explored, but when other people are brought into the fray and then problems arise, the author did not seem to be able to balance it all out. We lose the connection to the characters - the emotions they feel, the thoughts they have.

The ending was predictable. 

I needed to see this book as more gritty, considering the subject matter.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

REVIEW for Crush by Eve Ainsworth

TITLE:           Crush

AUTHOR:     Eve Ainsworth

GENRE:         YA


This story is scary - because it felt all too real. While it is a work of fiction, the author created a dark, scary story of a young girl who is naive and unhappy in her family life who somehow is drawn to a young boy who is majorly screwed up.

As the story develops and we see the dynamics between Anna and Will, as well as the backstories of both of these characters, we start to get a better picture of why/how Anna and Will became the people they are, as well as why they are attracted to each other and it is SCARY.

The book does a good job of showing us how we are a product of our environments - basically from every experience we have lived from day 1.

I did struggle with some of the English terms in this story as it is British - some references were beyond me, but overall, this story was engrossing and all too real.

I could not believe how quickly I finished this book.
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