Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wedding Weekend with Issues

Seating Arrangements, by Maggie Shipstead is a well-written and humorous story, which takes place on a wedding/family reunion weekend on an island off New England. Affluent and spoiled, most of the characters have issues, whether they’re trying to find themselves or being available for others to find them sort of speak. Winn is the father of the bride but he spends more time trying to get into the local golf club and chasing one of the bridesmaids than donating his energy toward the wedding itself. Father of daughters, he thinks all his problems would be non-existent if only he had had a son. The daughters all have issues as do the brothers of the groom. If you’re looking for a quick read that will make you laugh, this is it. But if you’re looking for a plot of any kind, steer away. Shipstead did a good job developing this story but she only hit the surface. Enjoy the book – then move on to something a bit better.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Disappointing Adventure at Sea

The Privateer Clause, by Ken Rossignol was interesting in the first 50 pages, but soon became very repetitious. I felt the author had a bunch of short stories he wanted to tell and instead of developing one or two, he quickly told them all. One after another after another. Boring! I have to say one or two of the events in the book could have been developed well and made into an interesting mystery. But he jumped from one to another with the same heroes quickly ending each incident. Both the characters and the events of the book could have been developed better and it may have been an interesting and captive book. But, alas, it was not. The book was poorly written and in need of major editing. I received a complimentary copy for an unbiased review. I’m sorry I couldn’t give a better review – maybe Rossignol will take this criticism with an open mind and deliver a better novel next time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Quindlen's Memoir a Bit Dry

I so looked forward to sitting down to read Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, by Anna Quindlen. I’ve read her books and stories and have always enjoyed them. So I sat down with great anticipation, but I must say I was disappointed. No, her writing isn’t the problem. Well, not really. Her book is a bit dry but she is a journalist first so I can almost understand that. I felt Quindlen was speaking to us little folks from up on her pedestal. She began her career by speaking directly to the average woman but in this book she seems to be speaking DOWN to the average woman. There’s something irritating in that. And yet there’s an edge to her memoir – something like “I’ve made a great career for myself but I’m still not quite happy with life. Oh, poor me.” Don’t get me wrong. I still like Quindlen’s writing and will continue to read her work, but I just didn’t get that “feel-good” feeling with this book. I have my fingers crossed for next time though. I won’t give up on Anna Quindlen.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Read It if you Dare

Cruel Harvest, by Fran Elizabeth Grubb, is a horrible book to read. No, not the book itself but the dreadful story Ms. Grubb tells. It’s a true story of a young family all victims of the abuse of one very sick and evil man – their father and husband. It was a difficult book to read as it deals with the most evil of abuses – verbal, physical and sexual. Grubb tells the story of growing up travelling from farm to farm to work picking cotton all to feed her father’s alcoholism. Her mother and siblings were complete prisoners of her father. There was no escape, but one by one, the family did escape. This bright young child has grown into a woman with a wonderful husband and trying to reunite with her siblings. The book grabs the reader and won’t let go. I read it in one sitting. If you have the stomach for this, this is a book not to be missed.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Erik Larson Does it Again!

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin, by Erik Larson, is a must read for anyone interested in history. As with his previous books, Erik has another winner with this non-fiction book of an American family living in Hitler’s Germany. It’s the story of William E. Dodd and his family as they set out to live in Berlin as Hitler is gaining power in the 1930s. I must say I tired a bit of Dodd’s daughter Martha’s many affairs, but these stories did add a lot to the scheme of things as she undoubtedly was in the midst of the happenings – blinded at first but later opening her eyes to the horror of the times. Dodd also was na├»ve but later realized what was happening and sent warnings home to the U.S. The book was disturbing in that there were so many blind to Hitler’s goals. How did the world not see? I highly recommend In the Garden of Beasts. I look forward to reading Larson’s next book as he makes history so interesting.