“You look worried. Really, you should relax. Reading is a pleasurable activity and worrying is bad for your heart.”
Published January 26th 2010 by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
(I previously drafted out this post but when I clicked “Publish”, my browser crashed and I lost everything. I didn’t want to write this again but hey.)
Historical fiction is my favorite genre. The language in these books are so beautiful. I love the gothic feel of the people and places. Well-researched and well-written ones transport the reader into that particular time and place so vividly that you characters come alive in front of your eyes. Was this one of those?
This is one of the books that I gravitated towards because of the cover and title. I read the blurb and it seemed interesting. It was a dollar at Salvation Army, what the heck. Ralph Truitt is a rich man who posts an ad in the paper looking for… well, a reliable wife. Catherine Land is a “simple honest woman”, responds to the ad and ends up being Mrs. Truitt. Truitt then asks Catherine to help him locate his long lost son, Antonio. From there, it becomes a web of lies, deceit, sex, and secrets.
I think I expected too much from this book and I was disappointed. The characters were bland at the most, the plot was promising but executed poorly, the writing had a good moment here and there but overall, I found it self-indulgent and boring. Too many words but not much to say. Midway through, my eyes started to glaze over and I simply skimmed the paragraphs looking for something interesting. Half the time, I didn’t know who was talking or who the narrator was talking about. It just confused the hell out of me and I didn’t even bother backtracking to get the whole picture. It was like the author tried to be darker and more sinister than the book really is and it didn’t work.
The characters were frustrating. And mind-numbingly bland. Catherine Land, the “simple honest woman” was anything but. She acted nice and innocent but it became so hard for me to find redeeming qualities in her. She was all over the place. Ralph Truitt was a doormat and sorry to say, a loser. I wanted to feel sorry for his ass but I wanted to knock some sense into him more. Antonio, his non-biological son, is an arrogant prick. I didn’t like anyone and frankly, I didn’t care for any of them. It was a hot mess.
And oh, the sex part? Not even. I think the author used the sex as filler to beef up the book and have a sense of scandal in the story. Everyone and their mother had sex, everyone’s job is prostitution, all the women were used for sex… so much mention of sex but no actual action. It wasn’t erotic, sensual, or sexy at all. You can take all of it out and the story remains as it is.
The plot itself was interesting. Think of the film Original Sin with Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas. Yeah, just watch that.
Recommendation: Honestly? Don’t expect too much.
Get your copy here.
Sunday, October 16, 4pm at Vroman’s Pasadena!
- 695 E. Colorado Blvd
- Pasadena, California
Through a series of happy accidents, Jane Lynch created an improbable–and hilarious–path to success. After a series of struggles with her body, her sexuality, her career, and more, Jane Lynch has finally found the contentment she thought she’d never have. Part comic memoir and part inspirational narrative, this is a book equally for the rabid Glee fan and for anyone who needs a new perspective on life, love, and success.
- Who’s going? I am!
Synopsis from GoodReads:
After sarcastic lower level crewman Tim Carr sees a light outside the ship, he tries to convince Comm Officer Hanna Merrick that there’s something out there besides a dying star. Tim is asked to keep quiet about his discovery, however, because Hanna has a plan of her own, which she’ll set in motion after the government causes the star to prematurely supernova. Tim’s feelings for Hanna, and his life, are put on the line when he realizes her plan could cause the elimination of an alien species.
I honestly didn’t get it. It’s true that futuristic sci-fi stuff is not my cup of tea yet I can still follow a story. I tried but I just wasn’t relating to this. I didn’t even see the sarcasm that the main character, Tim Carr, was supposed to have.
The author had an interesting premise of a future world — space/time travel, other worldly beings, and the existence of classes even in that future world. Tim Carr was one of the Lower Level Citizens, LLC, serving as a janitor in a space ship. And then, he sees orbs or balls of light and gas, trying to communicate with him. Okay, I got that much. That’s when the story goes all over the place. It goes on and on about other things that by the time it got back to the orbs, I’ve forgotten what they were about. The conclusion fell short and I felt that there was so much filler, for a short story, and not enough development.
It could have been a great serious sci-fi novel. If Tim’s “sarcasm” is a device to put a bit of humor into this, it didn’t work that well.
Recommendation: Again, it’s one of those e-books that you can finish in one sitting.
Get your copy here.
I love a good medical thriller. I challenge myself in understanding all the technical jargon and keeping up with the pace and different plots of the story. Short story thrillers are a little tricky. Usually, thrillers take their time establishing the mystery and building up to the big reveal. This book only had 5,000+ words to set it up and execute.
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Molecular biologist Dr. Carl Peters is under pressure on two fronts: his research grants are disappearing and his marriage is falling apart. But when medical researchers discover that genetically modified animal feed has tainted the food chain, he finally gets the funding he always dreamed of.
Dr. Peters discovers the reason behind the cancer link with GM food, but it’s so crazy, he barely believes it himself.
The blurb seemed very promising. It doesn’t really give away much, if anything. But it read like a teaser or a pitch rather than a stand-alone story. The premise had so much to work on and a short story format was not enough for that. A lot was left unexplained, including the “reason behind the cancer link with GM food”. So yeah, I ended the book scratching my head and trying to figure out what the hell just happened.
The writing was excellent and polished. I was impressed by that and frankly, that’s the reason why I kept reading. For its length, the character development was done well even with the time jumps. But because plot development was severely lacking, I didn’t care much for the story itself. It could’ve worked as a full book or anything longer than a short story.
Recommendation: It’s 5,500 words, it shouldn’t take you too long to read. I read it during my down time at work and still got stuff done.
Get your copy here.
“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Published April 2nd 2011 by Flagrans Press.
Description from website:
Charming, poetic, delightful and humorous travel and life stories about extraordinary Milanese women, men who have succumbed to their temptation, and the art of living your own dolce vita no matter where in the world you are.
Dolce vita means “the good life”, “the sweet life”. In this book, the author shares her stories about the good life in Milan, Italy.
I’ve always loved traveling, exploring a new place on my own, and taking lots of pictures. I’ve been to many places and yet my “must go” list is still very long. Italy is one of those places.
The writing transports the reader into the different sights and scents and sounds of Milan. I love the author’s descriptions of the warm people and good food, the grace and poise of Milanese women. You can feel how passionate the author really is about Milan and it adds to the reader’s experience. I really liked how excited she sounded in these pages.
The illustrations are lovely. Simple but it captured the characters Miss Conelli talks about in the book very well. On the author’s website, you can sign up for a “10-Day Chique Dolce Vita Virtual Tour:
The Secret Gems of Italy”. Everyday, you will receive a link via e-mail containing pictures, stories, trivia, and other fun stuff about the beautiful country of Italy. I enjoyed those so much and it made me want to pack up and experience them myself!
On a side note, I like how the author made the “chique secrets of dolce vita” experience interactive and fun. It’s not just the book but the newsletters, e-zines, gifts, and other fun stuff. The enthusiasm of the author was so infectious and very much appreciated.
Recommendation: Do you have a case of wanderlust? Does Italian culture fascinate you? If you answered ‘yes’ in both questions, this one’s for you.
Get your copy here.
Call it what ever you want — Murphy’s Law, coincidence, bad luck, being at the wrong place at the wrong time… trouble follows Ziggy Two Step wherever her goes.
Thomas Edward Haliburton aka Ziggy Two Step is a bike messenger in the small town on Riverton, Montana. Not two days into his new job, his town experiences accidents, crimes, even bombings. He had no idea what was causing these events. Nothing will stand in his delivery route and time. He was proud of himself because he was fast on wheels and on foot. “Ziggy Two Step is oblivious to most of what is happening around him even though he is often the cause of it.”
The cover is really nice. Very simple but nice. It was a fast read, 24 pages PDF. It wasn’t boring at all. The writing was okay; it started out good but somewhere in the middle, there were too many exclamation points and some formatting errors. There were a couple of cliches here and there as well. Nothing too distracting but still. The whole story was like Ziggy, fast, breathless, and at times, all over the place.
Recommendation: A very quick and fun read. If you have time to kill and you want an amusing pick-me-up, give this one a try.
Get your copy here.
* In compliance with FTC guidelines, it should be noted that I received the book for free.
Published November 6th 2007 by Signet.
This is the third Criminal Minds book that I’ve read, probably sixth from Max Allan Collins. The author also penned tie-in novels for the CSI shows, among others. As you know, I am a huge fan of Criminal Minds. I even got my mother and brother on board the wagon. I am into the crime procedural, serial killers, FBI profiling, and all that good stuff. This book was just okay.
It stays true to the TV show. It starts with a cold open, in the form of the prologue, setting up a scenario in Lawrence, Kansas. We follow a couple of homeless people, peering into their thoughts and day to day lives. The UnSub’s thoughts are in bold face. As with the show, a relevant quote is used to introduce the team (and to end the story). Bodies of homeless people begin to appear around the city, all of them cleaned up, dressed… and stabbed dead. As the death toll rises, it’s up to the BAU and Lawrence PD to track these criminals down and stop them.
There was nothing really special about it. It was an episode in a book. You can definitely see it translated onto the screen. The author captured the voices of the characters well. Keep in mind that this is just the first (of three) books so characterizations are not as deep as a hardcore fan would expect. The procedures were sound and plausible and the psychological aspect – why the UnSub did what they did – was pretty interesting. But it had a lot of filler. Some time was spent on Reid’s love of jazz music and what Hotch was wearing. Sure, on screen, these little things only get a glance or a couple of seconds but did we really need a couple of pages on Hotch’s immaculate Brooks Brothers suits? (Some fans will say yes haha.)
I preferred Killer Profile, the second CM book also by Max Allan Collins. But frankly, it’s more enjoyable to actually see the BAU team do their job than read about it.
Recommendation: Criminal Minds fans will either love this or just be okay with it. There’s nothing special about it apart from the familiar characters from TV.
Get your copy here.
“What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.”