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Books 11-25

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Jun. 23rd, 2006 | 05:04 pm
mood: blahblah

It's been forever and a day since I updated. Um... yeah. I have been reading, although not quite as much as usual. I've been, well, both busy and depressed. Besides the usual internship stuff that I have going on, my dad died on March 31st and I've been not up to much since. It's a struggle to do anything, even the things that interest me, like reading or blogging. So here's a catch-up, first installment. I have far more I've read, but I don't have time to write them up all in one sitting.

11.) Title: Guilty Little Secrets
Author: Connie Lane
Marcia's Grade: B. Enjoyable contemporary romance. Not that memorable. Great, great cover though.

12.) Title: Men in Kilts
Author: Katie McAlister
Marcia's Grade: C. This is a contemporary romance that is supposed to be light, fun, and fluffy. And it achieves those goals. However, it falls short on the one thing I require from good contemporary romances: that the relationship between the hero and heroine be at least semi-believable. The heroine is just, well, I don't mean to be judgmental, but she's stupid. She jumps into bed with this guy because of his freaking accent, and yes, jumping into bed with total strangers is par for the course for many romance novels, but then she MOVES TO SCOTLAND TO BE WITH HIM. She's also supposed to be a famous mystery novelist, yet she does no writing throughout the book and that's just tossed aside once she's gotten to England to attend this mystery conference. And as for the hero he's a total ass to her. His family treats her like shit, he treats her like shit, and just... ewww. So why did I give this novel the relatively high grade of a C? Because many of the supporting characters are likable, the description of day-to-day life sheep farming in the Highlands are fascinating, and there were several scenes that had me laughing outloud. This book would have been better with the stupid romance (and I'm a romance lover, remember) and possibly without the main characters altogether. Especially the heroine, who fulfills the romance cliche of being TSTL, or too stupid to live.

13.) Title: Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls
Author: Bennett Madison
Marcia's Grade: D. A disappointing chick-lit teenage mystery. The narrator/heroine is, well, she can only be described as a bitch. She (and a lot of the other characters) have little or no redeeming features. All they care about is being "hip" and putting others down. They're the kind of girls you hated in high school, and it just seems pointless to read about them when you don't even like them. The mystery is dumb, too.

14.) Title: The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank
Author: David Plotz
Marcia's Grade: A-. This book tells the very interesting true story of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank. It's a mix of eugenics, investigation, and modern fertility. It's written in a very journalistic style, which was the only drawback for me. I would have enjoyed it a lot more if there was more spark and excitement in the narrative.

15.) Title: Leaving the Saints: How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith
Author: Martha Beck
Marcia's Grade: B+. Hmmm, well, this book was certainly interesting. I'm not Mormon, nor are there a lot of Mormons in my area. Funnily enough, though, I live not too far from where Joseph Smith started out, here in upstate New York. Religions of all kinds have always fascinated me, but I'll admit that I didn't know that much about the Church of Latter Day Saints before I started reading this. Beck is a fine writer, and she's at her best when describing the small moments of everyday life: her interaction with her family members and community. The descriptions of the community, especially, illustrate why this religion appeals to so many. The people described are warm, moral, friendly. That makes it all the more shocking when they turn against the author. Beck describes a lot of Mormon theology that, to an outsider like myself, does sound rather off the wall. And then, when she gets into the most painful part of the memoir, describing her recollections of childhood abuse at the hands of her father, a well-known Mormon scholar. However (and I hate to say this, because every fiber of my feminist being tells me not to doubt a woman who comes forward against abuse) she doesn't remember these incidents until she undergoes hypnotic regression. I'm unconvinced of the validity of this method, and that makes me unsure whether or not her story is true.

When I finished this book, I went on Amazon.com, and I was shocked to read how controversial it is. I expected there to be some controversy, as with any book attacking an established religion. But I was surprised to find how much many Mormons hated the book, or ex-Mormons and outsiders loved it. Those who disliked the book attacked Beck's description of Latter Day Saints theology and rituals, as well as her personal character and the truth of her accusations against her father. In the end, I didn't know what to think or believe. Beck obviously has some bias against the religion, whether her memories/accusations are true or not. Although it's not a lifestyle or religion that I could ever see myself embracing, I would like to read some books from the other side, what those who are still involved in the Latter Day Saints community say about their theology, etc.

I think what matters about my experience with the book is this: it was told well (Beck can certainly write) and it made me think, whether it's one hundred percent true or not. Recently, the James Frey scandal has called into question the veracity of many memoirs, and it's up to the reader to choose whether to swallow everything that is told to you as factual truth, or to just appreciate the book as a work of literature.

16.) Title: The Tattoo Artist
Author: Jill Ciment
Marcia's Grade: A. What a wonderful little novel! Climent's style is smooth, simple, and beautiful as she describes the life of a once-famous artist, stranded on a small Pacific island, who finds her life's work in the native tattoos. Beautiful, elegant, and interesting.

17.) Title: Einstein's Dreams
Author: Alan Lightman
Marcia's Grade: A+. This is one of those rare books that will change the way you think about the world. I'm not a physics buff; none of the sciences are really my strong suit. These vignettes, focusing on different ideas of time as dreamed by a young Einstein, are brilliant. The writing is clean and glittering, and the ideas were enough to blow my mind. Just fascinating stuff!

This book was my dad's, and I was lucky enough to read it shortly before he passed away so that we had a chance to discuss it.

18.) Title: To Marry an Irish Rogue
Author: Lisa Hendrix
Marcia's Grade: B. Okay contemporary romance set in rural Ireland. I'm a sucker for anything about small towns in Ireland (no, I've never been there) be it Ballykissangel or Nora Roberts' Irish trilogy. This lacks the magic spark found in those shows and books, but it's still a nice read.

19.) Title: The Anglophile
Author: Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Maria's Grade: D. Uninteresting, uninspired chick lit. The heroine, who is supposed to be an expert linguist, focuses more on how she looks and finding a man with a sexy British accent than her work. She and her love interest/rival are supposed to be discovering a lost language, but the idea is so poorly executed that it seems preposterous. The narrative is self-important and boring. Plus, the narrator pokes some jibes at my hometown. Hey! I'm allowed to say the weather here sucks or that it's boring, but I live here, okay? And no, the locals are not hicks. And it's not SUNY Binghamton anymore, bitch, it's Binghamton University.

20.) Title: Memories of My Melancholy Whores
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translatd by by Edith Grossman
Marcia's Grade: A+. Everybody kept telling me I would love Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But, like with so much good advice, I resisted following it. Then I picked up this book. It was the title that really caught my eye; name your book something with "Whore" in the title, and I'll probably want to read it. And was I ever glad I found this one! At first, the subject (an old man looking back on his life and pursuing a young virgin) sickened me, but the power of Garcia Marquez's prose overcame any squeamishness I had. This book transcends the prurient nature of it's subject, becomes a beautiful story of love, life, and redemption.

21.) Title: Self-Made Man: One Woman's Journey into Manhood Or Back
Author: Norah Vincent
Marcia's Grade: A. I first heard about this book when the author appeared on The Colbert Report. (One of my favorite shows!) The concept intrigued me: a woman, disguising herself as a man, and writing about it. A lot of my favorite novels revolve around this type of cross-dressing (the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce, or The Beacon at Alexandria by Gillian Bradshaw are examples) and I was interested to see what the results would be in real life, in the present day. The results are well-written and interesting. Vincent provides insight into not only the ways in which men are treated differently than women, but the psyches of both genders. Definitely worth a read.

22.) Title: A Season For the Dead
Author: David Hewson
Marcia's Grade: C+. There's gruesome death. Intrigue in the Vatican. Crazy priests. No, it's not The Da Vinci Code. And, while this book is moderately better written than Dan Brown's best-selling tome, it plods along and becomes quite boring. Just not a very enjoyable novel. I slogged through it.

23.) Title: The Mad Miss Mathley
Author: Michelle Martin
Marcia's Grade: B. A well-written, fun, traditional Regency romance that still lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.

24.) Title: Enemy Husband
Author: Nina Bruhns
Marcia's Grade: C. The best thing about this book is its cover, which was so sexy and Mr. and Mrs. Smith-esque that I was convinced to overcome my usual category romance scruples and buy it. Waste of $4.99! Typical, methodical, romantic thriller of the category variety, lacking any new plot twists or stand-out characters to differentiate it from the crowd. Forgettable.

25.) Title: After Midnight
Author: Teresa Medeiros
Marcia's Grade: A-. Vampires and Regency England and complex characters, oh my! Teresa Medeiros is one of the most consistenty readable romance authors writing today, and this book is no exception. This is at once a gothic romance of the old school, a vampire romance with a kick, and a comedy of manners. The characters are likeable, the dialogue sharp, and the intrigue well-developed. My only problem was with the sex scenes, which were disappointinly below par. I found them almost nauseating. Other than that, a quick, enjoyable read. When they get to the sex? Do yourself a favor and skip it.

That's it for now. More to come when I have the time.

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Comments {2}

fantastic thing you are doing

from: anonymous
date: Jul. 5th, 2007 08:10 am (UTC)


Great book. I just want to say what a fantastic thing you are doing! Good luck!


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from: hapigris
date: Apr. 9th, 2011 02:51 pm (UTC)

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