Wednesday, February 23, 2011

13: The Sleeping Beauty Proposal

The Sleeping Beauty Proposal, by Sarah Strohmeyer, is a lighthearted and easy read. It was perfect for after my last book (in fact, I MAY have started it that same night because I was all freaked out and needed something girly and easy to put my mind at ease. MAY HAVE.). In all honesty, I've read a lot of her books and I've always liked them, and this one is no different.

Genie is an admissions counselor at a university that lives in Harvard’s shadows. She’s dated the same guy, Hugh, for years. Hugh writes a very wonderful and bestselling novel and during his press tour and interview with Barbara Walters, he proposes to the love of his life. Except… it isn’t Genie. However, to everyone around her, it certainly should be her! So, she fakes it. She pretends that yes, he DID propose, and lets her mother plan a wedding and registers for presents and buys a fake ring and then Hugh comes back…

It’s cute. It’s easy to read. It’s funny and you feel for Genie. She’s dated Hugh for four years and he proposes to someone else on national TV?! He’s lucky he lives, is what I’m thinking! This would be a great book for when you need something light and easy to read. Airplanes, beach vacations, after you read a book that scares the socks off of you. Whatever :)

I give it a 7/10. Easy to read, but drug a little in parts. Still, a great book to make you smile.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

12: Still Missing

Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens, is a book told in two parts – one chapter in the current present time usually done through therapy, and one in the past tense when she was abducted and held for captive for a year in the mountains.

This book scared the daylights out of me. I am so afraid of something happening to someone I love and not knowing where they are. This is truly one of my biggest fears – that someone I love will be taken and hurt and held captive. So, this may not have been the best book for me to read considering I am home alone ALL THE TIME! However, I’ve learned how to work our alarm pretty well in the past week!

Anyway, Annie is a Realtor and is running an open house. A man comes by, and looks harmless and nice and she shows him the house. Well, he abducts her and takes her to a mountain cabin. He keeps her there for a year, some awful, awful things happened (I cried. A lot.) and you know from the start that she does escape, since the present time chapters are written from the beginning of the book. She finally escapes (scary!) and takes herself to a police station. And that’s when the book gets really, really hard to put down. Because the investigation takes a turn, and you begin to think that maybe Annie wasn’t chosen at random… but maybe something much more sinister is going on here.

I really liked this book, scared or not. I found Annie to be a normal woman, who gets put in an awful situation and comes out with serious trauma and has to work through that. I found the ending to be powerful and I liked that it wrapped up the book. I recommend this book to anyone at this point. It’s been a week or so and I’m still thinking about it. I read it in record time – seriously cover to cover in one night. I could not put it down (probably because I was scared) and I had to know what happened in the end.

I give this one an 8/10. Great writing, great pace, a fantastic read for almost anyone.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

11: Little Bee

Little Bee, by Chris Cleave, is an amazing and thought provocative book about our lives in the world on this increasingly smaller globe. It’s going to be hard to give a synopsis of this book without giving too much away, but basically a Nigerian girl’s life changes the lives of many English citizens – some for the good and some for the bad.

The one pivotal scene on the beach is so haunting. It made me think about it for days. Actually, I read this book a week and a half ago and I am still thinking about it. It’s terrifying and nerve-wracking and makes you want to throw up a little and I cried and cried while reading it. And yet, I loved this book. The topics covered in this book are not fun ones and the undertones of the differences in first and third world countries are obvious and make you think. The presence of the oil politics are an underlying theme and made me want to do SOMETHING – ANYTHING – to help these refugees.

I can’t stop thinking about this book. About Little Bee, about 4 year old Batman/Charlie, about Sarah and how quickly her life veered off path. I want to reread it, but it is such raw writing, such an explosive topic, I think I need to reread it when I have the chance to really think about it and discuss it with others. This is not a book to read alone, that’s for sure. This would be a fantastic book club book.

I give this book a 9/10. Superb writing, deeply moving topics and characters and overall, a fresh and new outlook for a book.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

10: Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven

Can’t Wait to Get to Heaven, by Fannie Flagg, is one of those books that I imagine is better listened to than read. It’s funny, and I certainly laughed out loud, but I think hearing the words would have added a whole other dimension to it.

The story opens with octogenarian Elner Shimfissle's fatal fall from a tree while picking figs one morning. You then hear updates and discussions from the townpeople, and you realize how involved Elner was and how much people loved her. However, while this is going on, Elner is having the time of her life up in heaven. She’s floating around meeting old friends, getting questions answered and generally just having a blast. But, it’s not quite her time, so she makes her way back to Earth where she surprises more than a few people and sets the hospital fearing a lawsuit of epic proportions. 

This book was cute. It reminded me of some of Dorothea Benton Frank’s books. I don’t know if I was the targeted age range for this book, but I liked it. I thought the topic was cute, the sayings and expressions were funny and it kept my attention overall. It makes you think about your own death – what will people remember you for? 

I give this book a solid 7/10. It’s funny, entertaining and I think I would have rated it higher if I had listened to it.

9: Coming Back to Me

Coming Back to Me, by Caroline Leavitt is a story about a man and a woman who fall in love at first sight (in a diner) and then get married and have a baby. Neither the wife nor husband comes from any type of cohesive family, and so they have this “us against them” mentality. Well, right after Molly gives birth, she falls into a coma and Gary has to learn to take care of the baby, his incredibly sick wife and also accept help from strangers. 

I felt… depressed while reading this book. A lot of storylines were discussed, with very little wrapup about them. What happened to Molly’s mom?  How much time are we talking about? How long was Molly in the coma? How old is the baby when she comes home? Is she ever okay? Does the baby always prefer her sister, his primary caretaker for so long? 

I’ll admit… the concept of being very ill or dying during or after childbirth is so scary to me. I was terrified when I had high blood pressure after I had Ryan and we stayed in the hospital longer. So, maybe I read this a little detached. But still, I feel like there could have been more information given throughout the book. I give this a 6/10. A solid read, but not one I would come back to again.

8: My Summer of Southern Discomfort

My Summer of Southern Discomfort, written by Stephanie Gayle, is a fairly simple concept of a book. Woman lawyer has an affair with a married man at the firm. She takes the fall for something he did, flees New York and into Macon, Georgia where she works at the district attorney’s office. She learns to slow down with life, takes a few risks and redefines her relationship with her parents.

The book works, overall, however, I was not in love with any of the characters. I felt like Natalie was portrayed as this perfect princess (granted, who had an affair, but she was a virgin when she started the affair at age 26) and I just could not relate to her for most of the book. I felt like I should be able to, but the author’s writing style made me feel like information was lacking. 

The whole battered woman subplot, while a very important topic, was kind of thrown in there, like an afterthought. And the part where the dog died? AWFUL. No discussion, nothing. Just, “oh yeah, Captain died.” 

I think this could have been a better book with some stretching out and adding to it. It was fine, and easy to read, but I wanted to be more involved with the characters than I actually was. I give this a 6/10.