Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bossypants

BossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is always hard for me to critique a memoir because it is the world according to.... And so you end up not judging the book but the person. I bought this at the airport in the used section for $5. My kids kept asking me why she had man hands on the front. I still don't really know.
I gave this 3 stars mainly because I laughed about every other page or so. But this is also why I think it was more like 2.5 stars. Fey tries to tell about her life, but just when she gets to something revealing or heartfelt, she throws in a zinger. It makes you laugh, but you never really get to know her. And though she starts out with her childhood, once she gets past college, it is pretty much all about work. There are some good stories of SNL, but not enough about her relationships--with her co-workers, her husband, or even her kid. It is kind of interesting to read about how she ended up doing Sarah Palin, but the bits I liked best were her simultaneously planning a birthday party for her kid, or the part about her husband and her on a cruise. The 30 pages or so of how to do a photo shoot? Snoozeville.
Toward the end of the book, I got kind of annoyed with her. Maybe I shouldn't have read it straight through on a flight because her humor seemed to go from "ha ha ha, that Tina, she's so funny" to eye-rolling at her snarky comments. She seemed almost angry-mad in a lot of her "jokes" about being taken seriously as a director/writer/impressionist/mother. I know from watching her on-air personna that most of these quips are meant to be said in an off-hand, almost silly way, but in cold hard print they kind of make her seem like a defensive witch. I think her mistake is trying to make something funny out of something she feels about strongly. Either that or I should have gotten it on audio book.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Siblings without Rivalry

Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live TooSiblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too by Adele Faber
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yes, I resorted to a psychological book to help my kids get along. It is an easy read with some good examples. Still, I feel like I have to read it every day to refresh my memory on how I am "supposed" to respond to situations. Lately I've just been resorting to asking them "What Would Jesus Do?" and that seems to help better than anything.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Insurgent

Insurgent (Divergent, #2)Insurgent by Veronica Roth
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was fine as a YA book. It is the middle of a trilogy and so therefore has the problem of being quite dark. In the first book, we went from a naive girl battling others and herself to prove she is corageous only to confront evil in a final showdown. In this book, Tris is depressed about the loss of her family and friends in the conclusion of the first book, and carries the weight of secrets and guilt through most of this book. As she works through her own demons, she discovers new baffling secrets and betrayals. So I guess you have to wait for the third book to finally get some relief. It will really depend on the third book as to whether all this angst, secrecy, and hinted conspiracies will make the whole trilogy worth the ride.

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Super Sad True Love Story

Super Sad True Love StorySuper Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up in the bargain bin at the supermarket. Which I think is apt for the crazy farce of our very near future it ended up being. Lenny returns from Italy after a less than successful business stay trying to sell the uber-rich eternal life. He returns to an America deep in debt to the Chinese (hmmm...), his friends self-absorbed in their apparati (suspiciously sounding like apple...), and political protestors camped out in Central Park. A much younger girl he met in Italy, Eunice, comes and joins him and they slowly become a couple. Or do they? Can Eunice really love anyone outside of herself? Is Lenny just using Eunice as a younger version of his best friend's wife, whom he has always been in love with?
I thought the satire was dead-on. The scary part was that it is not too far from the truth. It is true that it could be crude, but in a world where we think bridesmaids crapping in the street is the ultimate in high comedy these days, aren't we just sinking further in the pit ourselves?
I was hoping more from the love story. I suppose they learned that true love comes from familial love and service to others. It would have been nice to have the main characters have reached a state of well-being or peace but then again, it was supposed to be a super-sad love story.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

State of Wonder

State of WonderState of Wonder by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I cried at the end of this book. Not because it was sad (though it was) and not because it was happy (though it was) but because I felt fully and completely satisfied with the world Patchett created and was sad it had to end. Talking this over with my sister later we would comment, "didn't you think it was wierd that..." and the other would say "yeah, but..." and that was the whole book--full of wonderful, wierd surprises that you completely believed and moved the story along. Like Bel Canto, State of Wonder makes the fantastic seem plausible and makes you care about the characters and their world.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

First of all, my kids loved this whole series and are vying for the prequel. So sometimes I feel bad ragging on a book that is not written for my age group, because the age group it WAS written for clearly likes it.
I have read a couple of Dashner's novels in the 13th Reality series and clearly his strength is in original storytelling. He is probably the most novel YA novelist I've read. Too bad his writing style gets in the way. He has no sense of pacing, and his descriptions can be as confusing as they are revealing. I was more patient with him in the 13th Reality series, but in this one I went past the suspense of what the maze is and how it is solved, to almost not caring, to be completely dissappointed in the grand reveal. I felt little to nothing about the characters--I was not scared for their survival, nor saddened when any of them died, nor even shocked when they turned out to be something different from what they seemed.
However, I am curious about what Dashner can dream up next. I'll just have my kids read it and tell me about it...it might be less painful that way.

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