Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Review: Savor The Moment

Sometimes when I finish a book, I can't help but feel that the experience has made me better in some way.  Maybe that sounds really cheesy, but it's true.  That's one of my favorite things about reading great classic literature: it just leaves you awestruck.  I loved the wildness of Wuthering Heights, the subtle, brilliant emotions of Jane Eyre, the intricate story of A Tale of Two Cities, and the straight-up genius wit of Les Liaisons dangereuse.  There are modern writers who can move me, too, like in My Sister's Keeper.  Avid readers know this.  This is why we read.

And then there are some books that, after you read them, you feel like part of your brain has been lobotomized.  I give you Nora Roberts' Savor the Moment
Maybe that sounds harsh, but I think it's justified.  I like Nora Roberts, I really do.  I've read almost all of her books.  I've come to expect a formulaic, predictable story from her, but I'm okay with that.  Hell, that's precisely why I read the romance genre in general.  What I'm not okay with her trying to sell me shit.  And I'm sorry, but that's what she's doing in this Brides Quartet.

I wasn't particularly kind to the last installment in this series, Bed of Roses, but again, I was justified.  Emma was effing annoying, and the way that Roberts expected the reader to accept that her behavior was rational and not insulting to all women was insulting to all women.  I had hopes that the rest of the books would be better because my biggest problem with Bed of Roses was Emma's perfect life.  Laurel, the heroine in Savor the Moment, is not perfect.  But does Roberts delve into Laurel's issues in any depth?  Does Roberts show us ANYTHING about Laurel outside of her love for the hero, Del?  No.  Seriously, guys, she doesn't.   Laurel apparently has a background that I would have liked to learn about.  But I never got that chance.

(I will now segue into a letter to Nora Roberts.)

Come ON, Nora.  It's bad enough that you're writing four books about freakin' weddings.  As if the wedding industry in this country isn't absolutely ridiculous in the way that they put all the focus on ONE DAY, you give us four women that make their livelihood out of catering to these self-absorbed people.

**SIDE RANT**  Not only that, but you present them in a REALLY annoying way.  These women never make freakin' mistakes.  EVER.  They always know exactly how to talk down a bride, or exactly which flowers they'll like, or exactly what cake they'll want.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Throw in some screw-ups every once in a while and we'll talk.  The worst is Mac, the photographer.  This woman sounds like the kind of photographer that makes me hulk out.  In the first book she did a pregnancy session where she made the pregnant lady get naked.  Anyone who knows me knows I hate those kind of pictures with a passion that will never die.  And I'm sorry, Nora, but it sounds like Mac has little to no imagination as a photographer.  The bride is a florist?  Let's shoot her in a garden!  The groom is an English teacher?  Let's shoot him with books!  The couple met as children and shared a fondness for cookies?  Let's shoot them with cookies!  Please.  I know wedding photographers that do amazing, amazing work and never result to that unimaginative shit.

But your worst transgression is the complete and utter failure to portray these women in a real way.  They are obsessed with weddings, and in Savor the Moment particularly, there is nothing to Laurel other than her love of Del.  Even when the four friends are together, all they talk about is work or relationships.  Oh, yeah, and sex.  These bitches NEVER SHUT UP ABOUT SEX.  When they have it, they have to make mention of it.  When they're not having it, they make mention of the others having it.  Seriously, I don't know women like this.  Don't they ever talk about important stuff?  Current events, the economy, feminism, celebrity gossip, books they've read, etc?  Nope.  Just men.  And weddings.  And sex with men.  This is an insult to women, Nora.

Look, I get that you've got a theme here.  Each woman in this series needs to get a man in each installment of the series.  But for the love of God, what is wrong with dating for a while?  Emma and Laurel were with their respective men for about two months tops before they're distraught over whether or not the men want to be with them forever.  For fuck's sake, what is the rush?  And why can't a couple admit that they're in love more than five minutes before a marriage proposal?

As you can tell, I did not like this book.  At all.  But I will still read the last book, because I'm a masochist.  And an optimist.  Parker, the last heroine to be paired up, has the potential to be more multi-dimensional than all her friends. She also comes across as truly independent and strong, unlike her man-crazy friends.

But Nora, you've gotta step it up.  You're getting lazy, here.  Don't think we haven't noticed.

Lindsey's Grade: D

Movie Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

All of you readers out there: how often is it that you go see the movie version of a book you've read (and liked) and leave the theatre thinking, "Wow, that was great?" 

I don't know about you, but that is not a common occurrence for me.  What is even more rare is enjoying the book better because of the movie.  But that is exactly what happened when I walked out of the theatre after seeing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I had mixed feelings about that book.  I like it, liked the story, but I wasn't crazy about the writing.  I didn't connect to the characters as much as I would have liked.  If you had a similar experience with this book, then you need to see the movie as well.  Because there are some things that have to be seen and not read.

There are some pretty intense things that happen in the book, mostly to Lisbeth Salander.  Lisbeth is a really unique character, but I had problems connecting with her because she seemed like an automatron a lot of the time.  As a result, I read these intense scenes with kind of a detached attitude.  The movie makes that impossible.  Seeing what happens to Lisbeth in such graphic detail really enhanced her character for me.

Also, the movie (it is a Swedish production, so subtitled in the U.S.) does an excellent job of sticking to the book.  Sure, there are things that are omitted and changed, but nothing that detracts from the story.  And all the important details are still there, I think.  Because they got that right, the movie ends up being a wonderful complement to the book.  Honestly, I think you need to see the movie to fully appreciate the book.

What pissed me off, though, are the rumors that Hollywood is going to do a version of the story.  There is even an imdb entry that has Carey Mulligen rumored to be playing Lisbeth Salander. 

No.  No, no, no.  That is just wrong.  WTF, Hollywood?  Lainey over at Lainey Gossip put it best.  Just leave it alone, Hollywood.  The Swedes already did it, and they knocked it out of the park. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire

Okay, Stieg Larsson fans, was anyone else pissed about the ending of this book?  I'm sorry, but if I'm going to spend my entire morning finishing a book instead of doing all the homework and writing all the papers I need to, then I expect to get some fucking closure.  (Pardon my French.) (Also, didn't you used to be able to wrap text around images on Blogger?  What am I doing wrong?  I cannot figure this out for the life of me.)
As far as the Millennium books go, I am torn on which one I like better.  I don't think I would necessarily say that The Girl Who Played with Fire is a better book, or even a more interesting book.  I much preferred the mystery of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  But at the same time, I found this book more enjoyable to read.  

I gotta tell you, though, I'm a little worried for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest or whatever the heck the third book is called.  If it ends as abruptly as this book, I am going to be pissed, because Larsson is dead, that's the last book he wrote, and I need my goddamn closure.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

There is hardly a literary bandwagon I don't jump on at some point in time.  I may not have read Harry Potter until long after Deadly Deathly Hallows was published, but I got there eventually.  Same goes for Twilight.  So of course I had to jump on the current Millennium trilogy bandwagon, too.  

I used that book cover because that is what my copy of the book looked like.  I bought my copy in the Amsterdam airport because I'm just THAT cool.  Okay, not really.  If I were really cool, I would have known that I should have bought the last book in the trilogy because it was just sitting there on the table in the airport shop, available for purchase.  Because guess what?  The third book is not available in the United States yet.  Damn it!  I lost my chance.  

Oh well.  It's not such a bad thing because, to be honest, I'm not nuts about this series.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I didn't guess the ending (which is always nice in a mystery).  I'm even reading the second book right now, The Girl Who Played with Fire.  But I'm not really having any kind of emotional reaction or attachment to these books or to the characters.

I think part of the problem is the language barrier.  My favorite books tend to be ones written by American, British, or Australian authors, mostly because I like to read books in their original language, and I am embarrassingly monolingual.  Nevertheless, some books are beautifully, effortlessly translated.  Les Liaisons Dangereuse blew me away; I never would have guessed it wasn't originally an English-language book (other than the fact that that author is French, it is entirely set in France, and the characters are all French, of course).  But other times translated books come across as dry.  Sadly, I'm putting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in this category.  In my opinion, it read like a book translated into another language.

But aside from the translation, I think that I'm just not a big fan of the mystery genre.  I like characters and character-driven stories.  I think that mystery novels are, by their nature, more plot-driven.  Even though the two main characters of the Millennium trilogy, Mikel Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, certainly are three-dimensional and interesting, I just feel like thus far in the series it's been more about what they do than who they are.  Maybe that will improve as I continue with The Girl Who Played with Fire.  I'm slightly optimistic.

Also, did anyone else who read this book feel like it took more than half of the book to really get the story moving?  I felt that way. 

Friday, April 02, 2010

2010 so far + A poll

Hey there! It's Jen! I'm not much of reviewer, so I'm going to keep this short.

Books I've read so far in 2010, and a one word review:

1. Special Topics In Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl GREAT!
2. Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus Eh...
3. The Greatest Disaster Stories Ever Told Terrifying!
4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood Strangegood
5. The Believers by Zoe Heller Overworked
6. I Drink for a Reason by David Cross Egotistical
7. Speak Up by Cyndi Maxey Informative
8. The Little Book by Seldon Edwards Betterthanithoughtitmightbebasedonthedescription
9. Forever by Pete Hammil Interesting
10. Man or Mango? A Lament by Lucy Ellmann Quirky

Currently reading:
Man out of Time by Michael Hogan

Now, the poll: (which I expect at least ONE person to reply to?)
Last year about this time I dove into Les Miserable - so I'm thinking it's time to hit the classics again. I'm debating between two longish ones, and thought I'd get an opinion, if anyone has read them both.

(side note, anytime i delete anything and then start typing again, it's in BOLD. i'm getting sick of changing it.)

Anyway: Option one is Vanity Fair, and option two is The Count of Monte Cristo. The thing is, I've already read the second one, but really really liked it, so I kind of want to read it again. But, should I try something different? Anyone?

Alright. Happy "spring" (she says as it snows outside for the second straight day in APRIL.)

Ta ta!