Book Review: General Fiction

Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

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The Time Traveler's WifeMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Audrey Niffenegger‘s novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, published in 2003 and later made into a movie. This one is a hard book for me to rate. There was so many great things in it, but there was also a lot that made me step away and think about how it all happened…

Overview
A young couple are constantly ravaged by the husband’s ability to move between time periods, but rarely in a controlled way. They are stuck in a haphazard relationship, never knowing when he may just disappear for months at a time. As a result, readers put the pieces of their love story together chapter by chapter… knowing the conclusion to some things before you find out how it happened.

What I Liked
1. The entire concept of moving around throughout someone’s life, not knowing what time period it is until a few things happen. This created a lot of suspense and drama, which for the most part worked significantly well; however, on a few occasions, it pushed me over the limit of confusion.

2. It’s a heart-breaking tale of what happens to a young couple who very much want to be together, in love and share a lifetime of orderly memories. Note, I said, orderly memories.

3. The images created are quite wonderful. With words being the tool to convey the emotion of something none of us have ever been through, it’s especially important to have strong visuals. This was successful on most occasions. And when it wasn’t, I didn’t dislike it; just wasn’t anything special.

4. It was unique… hardly ever, if ever, done before, in such a way or manner. The author should be praised for it.

What I Didn’t Like
1. The concept was too complicated. I kept stopping to think if the author built the scene correctly. I naturally doubted it, assumed there was a mistake in the time sequence. Maybe that says more about me being a Doubter than it does about the book… OK, maybe I should stop here on this item.

2. Some of the passages were included purely for humor, and the effects on other people of his time travel were a bit too much. I’m good with someone getting beat up, or some silly naked embarrassment… but it felt too contrived and one-sided.

3. I wasn’t happy with the ending… and that’s all I say.

Final Thoughts

You really should read it and then watch the movie. It’s a different way of handling the story, so that’s why I suggest both. Ultimately, it’s the kind of book where you think you love it, but then things start falling apart in your mind about the gaps and the confusion… and you feel like you had part of a story, not the whole thing. But this is one you need to check out for yourself. Just go in knowing it’s not a brilliant and perfect piece of literature. Still a good story, and possibly a bit higher than a 3 on my scale, but I’m sticking with the rating.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The White Bone

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The White Bone
The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

1 out of 5 stars to Barbara Gowdy‘s novel, The White Bone, a story about a family of elephants wandering around the safari. Yes, that’s right, I’ve given out a 1 star rating… of ~500 books I’ve read, only (5) five have gotten this poor of a rating, and this unfortunately, is one of them. I usually try to find something redeemable, but this one will be tough. And I mean no harm to the author, as her writing style was fine… it just was such a poor read.

I suspect this was a brilliant idea gone far off track. To start, it’s about a group of elephants wandering around the safari in Africa, focusing on young Mud. Everything from vicious attacks by lions to childbirth to starvation to fear, find their way into this book. And on the outskirts, it sounds like a wonderful story full of heartache, emotion and that quintessential journey.

But somehow, other than a few spots where you get a bit sad, it feels half completed. When you’re supposed to feel bad for finding a dead family member, remember that the book is seeing this thru the eyes of an elephant. The reaction feels like “oh, dead. let’s move on.” Do elephants not have feelings? I guess not. Now I feel silly for not knowing that.

I couldn’t decide whether this was a half satire, half sad look at the unfortunate problems animals face. But just when it started going down either of those paths, it was a complete reversal and I thought I was starting a new book. Same characters. But as though I suddenly functioned with a lot less brain power. And I don’t have that much to give, Barbara… and now I want it back.

I rarely skim pages in a book. If I find myself skimming more than 3 or 4 pages, I put it down and pick it up a few days later, hoping it was just my mind at the time. No… that wasn’t the problem.

I had a month to read this book, and I seriously couldn’t focus. I read the whole thing, but there were times where I re-read the same page ten times to see if I could get anything out of it worth discussing. And I did. I learned that you can mess words up on a page and create something equal to scrambled eggs when all you wanted was a beautiful, sweet and delicious custard. Oh, how I love desserts. I’d rather talk about them than this book anymore. Ugh.

And to be honest, I’m still confused as to what the white bone is or was… and what the heck it had to do with the whole story. Metaphor? No. Theme? Nah. A weapon to stab my eyes so I’m finished with the read.

I’ll take… maybe 20%… of the fault and blame for not fully engaging, as it just felt like a bad book and I couldn’t get interested. It was someone else’s pick.

And let me tell you what this book club meeting was like… first of all… we took turns having it either at quiet restaurant, or someone’s house. People often liked coming to my place because I cooked and had lots of food options — and wine… and then we all stayed and hung out afterwards so no one had to drink and drive. For this book club, it was at my house… and I couldn’t even talk about the book. Every time I started, someone shoved food in my mouth or poured me more wine. They didn’t want to listen to me go off on it… BUT!!! No one else liked it either, so it was just that I was so vocal, it was ridiculous.

But the other 80%… don’t ask me what happened. I think it was a misprint. Something accidentally got thru and the publisher said “let’s see if anyone notices… they may just be so interested in the elephants that they will still love it.”

I could have been riding the stampede thru the safari on this one and still have fallen asleep. OK, I’ve put you through enough pain.

Don’t read it. Please do not. And if you do, smack yourself for me. Twice, at least.

Ms. Gowdy: Please don’t take offense to my review. I’m sure your other books are good, as you have published quite a bit. I’d like to buy you dinner and understand how this entire thing came to fruition. And then find out your secret to getting this into people’s hands.

Off to find a lion… the only saving grace… elephants have a really good memory, so hopefully they are suffering as much as I did having to be part of this. Only fair.

P.S. I love elephants.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Cutting for Stone

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Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating is 3.5 of 5 stars to Abraham Verghese‘s novel, Cutting for Stone, which was a book club selection about 7 years ago. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the book, as I expected it to be quite sad. And back then, I wasn’t interested in reading sad or emotional books; however, this one was quite good and I waffled between a 3 and a 4. I settled on a 3 only because I felt it was a little too formal / stiff for the type of book it felt like it should have been — still above average to me, as far as books go.

The basics: Twin brothers born in Ethiopia, Africa. The mother dies during childbirth and the father will need to raise them, but fate intervenes and they are separated. The book chronicles the separate life of the two boys and the connections between them. It’s about the differences between America and Africa, love and fear, focus and desire. There are many surprises in the book, all leading you to root for certain things to happen in each of the relationships throughout the story.

I had never heard of the author before, and this is the only read I’ve tackled by him, so far. But he’s got several other books and short stories. For me, it was a little too focused on the medical side of their personalities / careers / activities. Not in a bad way, just enough that it didn’t burst at its seams as a superstar book. I also felt like it was a little light in the action at some points, but it certainly makes up for it in some major ways in the last third.

If you are interested in other cultures, different ways of doing things and what happens to twins when they aren’t always near one another… it’s a great read. I’d suggest reading a lot of reviews to decide if it’s for you… as it’s different than most books of its genres or sub-genre.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: I, Lucifer

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I, LuciferMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan, a fiction novel with some elements of fantasy buried about. Sometimes I don’t know how books fall into my lap, sometimes I do. With this one, it flew in the wind, also known as a former book club, and slapped me in the face. I still feel the sting every so often. While I didn’t dislike it, the book felt a bit like a satire of a satire — and frankly, I’m just not that clever enough to always get it.

I really enjoy books where Satan makes an appearance. I know how that makes me sound, but it’s true. Lucifer brings in the drama, especially when he’s reincarnated as a normal man named Declan Gunn, who has just died — but I guess he really didn’t since Lucifer took over his body on a little wild venture into human reality.

The premise of the book is brilliant: Lucifer wants to know what it’s like for real people, as well as to cause a little fun and crazy on Earth, so he inhabits a body just before death. Sometimes he knows his “victims,” but not always. When he enters Declan, he assumes he’s got a quiet little ride where he can do some exploring. Nothing ever goes as planned.

Up til this point, if you’re not offended by or able to read books where the Devil is the protagonist (I get it, not everyone’s cup of tea… totally understand!), then you probably think this is gonna be a great ride. And parts of it were. But sometimes the satire was over my head and over the top.

I think because I read this in the very beginnings of my “foray into fantasy,” I wasn’t as open-minded as I might be now in reading something a bit abstract.

That said, it’s not a common theme or option, so I’d suggest it is worth taking a chance. But put your seat belt on because the hilarity and venom is all over the place. Randomness is the style and if you prefer a bit more order, add a harness and “oh-shit” handles onto the car, so you have something else to keep you from flying out the windshield of what you thought you knew about this jalopy.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.


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Review: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From what I can tell, I’m not in the majority when it comes to rating The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. I’m giving it a 3, which means I still liked it… but unfortunately, I wasn’t as fond of the humor as most people are.

This was a book club selection from about 6 or 7 years ago. We agreed to read just the first one in the series. And it was the first science-fiction novel we took on. I was excited. Several had already read it but wanted to again.

I’m generally a fan of crazy humor. I love Spaceballs, the movie. I kinda liken it to that, but for some reason, this wasn’t as funny as I felt everyone said it was. Tons of laughs. Many great lines. The characters were memorable. I’m pretty sure there are a few movie or cartoon adaptions of it.

And I honestly would recommend that everyone read it — even non SF fans. There are parts you will totally enjoy. But it’s hard to get into for a non-SF reader right from the beginning. My first reactions were “Oh that’s not possible…” But then I realized I wasn’t reading a typical novel, so I suspended the lil’ bit o’ grouch in me… and I was able to enjoy it.

Very imaginative. Lots of cool commentary on life as other people would see it. A fair approach for someone new to the universe, so to speak.

I may go back and read it now that I’m older and have read a few other SF and fantasy books. I’m curious… what’s the huge appeal for others about this book?

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.


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Review: The Marriage Plot

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The Marriage PlotMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Jeffrey Eugenides‘s The Marriage Plot. My book club selected this a few years ago, given they had all previously read Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides before I joined. I’ve since moved and not with that book club anymore, but I keep in touch with many of them. I hadn’t read either book, but I did watch the movie “The Virgin Suicides” and I drove through a town called Middlesex in NJ, whenever I would go back and forth to college in Pennsylvania. I suppose that doesn’t count for much, nor do I know if it’s even about that town… but I dove in and read “The Marriage Plot.”

What a fun title… I had expectations of a funny romance, some secret side-action, a mystery or two over why someone wanted to get married. And some of those things were included in the book, but it’s not exactly what I thought it would be. That said, it wasn’t a disappointment… it just felt rather…

Part of the issue was the characters were just “so so” for me. I didn’t dislike them, but I didn’t attach myself to them as much as I should have. The plot was good. And there are lots of lessons and thoughts you’ll get from reading this one. All stuff I enjoyed reading. But I just walked away from it thinking “Glad I read it… I think I like the author… very different from what I saw in the movie I had watched based on one of his other books… not sure where to go next.”

Some people loved it. Seems a lot were just OK with, like I was. I still want to read Middlesex. Sorry I’m not of much help on this one… but I wouldn’t tell you not to read it. It was clever enough to get into it and have some curiosities over how it would end up. And his language is always great. And his views on topics, or I mean the character’s views on topics… ooops… definitely prompt you to think a lot.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.


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Review: Richard III

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Richard IIIMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to William Shakespeare‘s famous play, Richard III, one of his “War of the Roses” tragedies produced in the 16th century in England. People have generally heard of this King, and know more about him than they realize, but he is not one of the more famously read plays in high school or college, falling behind the more popular comedies and tragedies of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream.

Why This Book
Although I read this play in high school, I had a more in depth read in a Shakespeare course where we compared each play to a painting (of our choosing) and a TV or Film adaption (instructor choice). We watched the 1995 film version starring Ian McKellen, Annette Bening, Kristin Scott Thomas, Maggie Smith and Robert Downey, Jr., a modern re-appropriation of the film using themes from the play and fairly current politics.

Overview of Story
Richard III wants to be king, but he’s third in line behind his brothers. He’s also angry over a physical deformity, carrying a rather huge chip on his shoulder. He goes on a small killing spree, then forces one of the widows into marrying him. He has his brother (the king) executed and makes it look like his other brother committed the crime. All that stands in his way are his 2 young nephews, and while Richard is ruling the country until his nephew is older, it’s just not enough for him. He manipulates others into asking for him to become the permanent king, and then secretly locks the princes in a tower or kills them. The world may never know. Over a short period of time, he becomes mocked and disliked, as the people know he is a horrible man. When his wife is no longer valuable to him, he has her killed and attempts to marry the daughter of the former Queen (young enough to be his granddaughter supposedly), to strengthen his claim to the throne. The battle begins for the throne, and Richard has a dream he will die. The next day, he is killed by his rival, who then marries the daughter of the former Queen and becomes the new King.

Approach & Style
1. It’s written in the late 16th century, so some of the language requires some interpretation.
2. It was a play, so not a typical book read with a specific point of view.
3. It’s based on reality; most of the plot actually happened to the kings and queens of that time.

Strengths
Shakespeare knew how to write. His language was beautiful. His words created vibrant and memorable images. He included themes and motifs across the scenes. He took as much from reality as he could, interjecting only enough balance of humor to offend some, but not those who would imprison him.

The story is simply fantastic. So many things people talk about today come from Richard III, including a few lines from this play. “My Kingdom for a horse” is a very famous line. Most everyone who knows a thing or two about British kings and queens are familiar with the young boys imprisoned in the tower. And when Richard III’s body was dug up in 2012 in a parking lot in Leicester, the world waited to find out if it was actually him or just some other skeleton. (It WAS him).

Brothers fighting brothers. Power-hungry man with either a hunchback, curled hand or limp leg — many different versions / interpretations. It’s a bloody story, but helps teach a lot of history to kids in school.

Open Questions & Concerns

For one thing, it’s Shakespeare, so there’s little wrong with it. But it’s not for everyone. And not an easy read.

Questions and concerns are more about:

1. Did Shakespeare really write it, or was it a ghost writer?
2. Did Richard III really kill the boys, or did they die somehow else?
3. What was his deformity?
4. Was he really all that bad, or did Shakespeare mock him and for 450 years, we’ve all played a game of telephone. (If you don’t know that one, email me)
5. Which TV or Film was the best adaption? You must see the one I noted above. It’s brilliant. A masterpiece in acting, plot re-creation and scenery.

Final Thoughts
If you’re going to read it, invest the time in reading all the plays tied together for the War of Roses. Get to know the characters, look up their realities, understand their relationships, and jump in with eyes wide open. Don’t just read it because it sounds like a good story. There’s more to it, and you won’t enjoy the style of the play without having the affinity for 450 year old words and a love of British royalty.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by.


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