2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Tina has read 1 book toward her goal of 40 books.
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Saturday, October 29, 2016

REVIEW for Bridget Jones's Baby The Diaries



TITLE:           Bridget Jones`s Baby The Diaries

AUTHOR:      Helen Fielding

GENRE:         Fiction

RATING:        


I have been a Bridget Jones fan from the very first sentence, right through all the books and the movies. However, I had felt let down by the last book and despaired that the things I loved about the Bridget character were lost.

Fielding redeemed herself here - Bridget Jone's Baby the Diaries finds exactly the same funny, adorable and quirky tone that the first 2 books had. Full of funny thoughts and emotions, reading this book made me happy to find Bridget again.

If you loved the first 2 books, then you need to buy this one. BRIDGET IS BACK

Friday, October 14, 2016

REVIEW for How To Keep Rolling After A Fall by Karole Cozzo







TITLE:            How to Keep Rolling After A Fall

AUTHOR:      Karole Cozzo

GENRE:          YA


RATING:         



What a good book!

How to Keep Rolling After a Fall (very aptly titled) is wonderful from the first page to the last (although I will admit that the author did get a tad corny with her ending - wish she would have sustained the tone from the first and middle half - but chose to go a little cheesy instead).

The two main characters ring true, the story is well told and the story reminded me that "there are no coincidences in life".

I felt for both characters here and I can't help but wish the author would have fleshed out both their back stories a little more, but this did not remove from the powerful message in this book.

Loved it.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

REVIEW for When the Screaming Stops The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers







TITLE:                   When the Screaming Stops The Dark History of the Bay City Rollers

AUTHOR:              Simon Spence

GENRE:                 Biography

RATING:               3 Stars


I was a huge BCR fan in the late 70's and if I read this book as THAT young fan, I can honestly say that I am horrified at all the stuff that was going on behind my young 14 year old back!  I remember seeing the Rollers at the CNE show in Toronto on August 22, 1977 and how fascinated and enthralled I was by it all and by them.  But now, reading this book, I was obviously clueless about all the pain, all the stupidity and all the drugs and sex my "heroes" were obviously living through.  I am happy that I was so innocent about them back then (thank god there was no Internet to remove my rose colored glasses) because I can think back on that time with fondness, unlike the Rollers apparently.
Having said all that, reading this biography as an adult has brought out a variety of emotions in me.  Firstly, I guess I have to say that I cannot believe just how manipulated and used the Rollers ended up being.  I mean, these guys had the most horrific luck with the people they met- it seems every single person in their path was out to cheat them.  I never realized just how bad it truly was.  These guys made millions and saw very little of it.

However, over the years, I had heard that they had NO money at all, but this is obviously not true as they did benefit (somewhat) from their fame - trips around the world, buying properties and cars and tons and tons of drugs.  Granted, considering how popular they were, they should have been beyond rich - if they hadn't been cheated, but what money they did have - they simply let slip through their fingers, especially when they were trying to "rekindle" their dead careers (living in hotels for month on end), etc. when they clearly should not have been doing it.

For me, the saddest part of this story is definitely how they kept trying to find ways to resurrect their dead careers and nothing ever worked - I admire how dedicated they were, yet, at the same time, what else were they going to do? its not like they had any other skills.

Finally - and this is, of course, the "spoiler" parts that we had only heard bits and pieces of through the years - the drugs, the sex with each other, as well as groupies and the sexual identify.  The author does go on quite a lot about these big reveals and can I just say Tam was a friggin PIG!  You have to wonder if the Rollers discovered their sexuality on their own or because of the horrendous things Paton did to them.  What followed was a nightmare for all of them that even addiction could not help.
As for the book itself - Spence has an odd way of writing - it feels almost robotic and is not helped by the fact that none of the Rollers were willing to speak with him for this book.  So, the story is full of very well researched facts (which I have no doubt are real), but it lacks any kind of warmth.  We get to hear about the abuse, the drugs, the manipulation, but it sits there on the page strangely without emotion.  I guess that is a problem with biographies -vs- memoirs.  At least, with memoirs, you will find text such as "my thoughts at that moment were or my feelings for this event were" - there is none of this in this book.

This book is a brick (over 500 pages) and at times, it feels as though it repeats, while at other times, it feels like it doesn't go into enough detail.  There are also some crucial missing points - we go from Les being "single" to several pages later hearing mention of his wife and young son.  Really?  I would have liked to hear about Les meeting his future bride, where/how?  There is nothing.  For a biography on the band, there is strangely very little "personal" information on them. I still don't even know if Eric is married, divorced, has kids.....there are some important facts missing here.

Also, the author seems to back off, at crucial moments in the book.  He mentions SEVERAL times how "some" of the Rollers were found with Paton in bed, etc.  Yet, he never comes clean and mention names.  This is a tell all book - so alluding to situations and then chickening out at the eleventh hour is not appreciated.  Ditto, other events he "teases" about, but never seems to find the guts to fully disclose. 

The author does an amazing job of describing the music world - he is obviously very comfortable in that environment and he helped me better understand all the situations the Rollers were put in.
Finally, this book made me angry - in some ways, I felt for the Rollers, I really did and in other ways, I wanted to smack them upside the head and tell them to "get their shit together".  The Rollers were and STILL ARE their own worst enemies.  Huge egos, lack of a true understanding of their talent and limitations and a slew of other issues are preventing them STILL TODAY from putting their differences aside to capitalize on the fact that they are still loved by many and that their music is still floating around.

Its hard to feel too sorry for the Rollers in the end.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

REVIEW for One Was Lost



Thank you Sourcebooks for giving me an electronic copy of this book.

TITLE:                   One Was Lost

AUTHOR:              Natalie D. Richards

GENRE:                 YA fiction

RATING:               

I love this type of fiction - thrillers set in difficult and remote situations where the main characters have to fight mother nature, killers or each other, in order to survive.

This book was good - it had me on the edge of my seat and every time I HAD to put it down (you know, because of life) I could not wait to pick it back up.

The story is engrossing and yes, I found myself completely caught up in all of it, trying to figure out who was doing what and for what reason. 

The writing is well done, dialogue was just enough to give us the information, without 'over sharing' and the locale was creepy and scary, which just added to the feeling of isolation.

What I didn't like:

Why, oh why did the author feel the need to create a romance between Lucas and Sera? and more to the point - why did she feel the need to bring it up over and over again, sometimes, at the most ridiculous times? If I am lost in the woods with no water, food oh yeah and a killer, the last thing I am worrying about is whether I want to kiss my ex or if I will "let" him be a gentleman with me. THIS - almost made me give this book a 3 star review. Completely unnecessary and made the whole story feel a bit silly at times.

Nonetheless, I did enjoy this book greatly and now, I am sorry its finished.

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


RATING:     


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

RATING:         


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


RATING:
          


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


RATING       



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.
 
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