Saturday, March 03, 2012

Reading Roundup: February 2012

Remember how I was going to read fewer books in 2012? Well, then I decided to read some of the Whitney finalists and I totally disregarded my goal. Maybe in April I'll cut down on reading; I know I'm going to need a break by then!

The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow

I thought it might be painful to read a book about a bridal shop, but I actually really liked it. Zaslow tells the history of a family-owned bridal shop that has been in business for seventy years and intersperses with it the stories of some of the women who have bought dresses there. I'm a sucker for true-life stories and social commentary, so this was a great read.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

I wanted to like this book more than I did; the premise was interesting, but I didn't like the way it skipped around to different points of view. I think that also violated the expectations that I had going into it--I thought the book was going to be more about the baby, but the story was more about her parents. The writing was good but I just couldn't get into the story.

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

This was actually our book club book for January but I forgot to write it down then. I read this a few years ago and didn't remember much of it, so this time I decided to listen to it. I think I'm really starting to like audiobooks because this one really touched me. I felt like the audio really highlighted the quality of the writing for me. I also forgot how shocking the ending is (read this if you're looking for great storytelling).

The List by Melanie Jacobson

This book was a lot of fun to read. I found the protagonist a bit annoying at times, but thankfully she grew up a bit as the book progressed. It really made me want to spend the summer in Huntington Beach learning how to surf.

A Plague Year by Edward Bloor
This book had a lot going on it--drug addiction, 9/11, class differences, family drama--and it didn't quite all come together like the author wanted it to. Some of the characters were also just difficult for me to understand; Bloor likes to use unreliable narrators, so I wasn't surprised by this, but that still made it hard for me to completely like the book.

Captive Heart by Michele Paige Holmes

I've read two other books by Holmes and like the fact that she puts a lot of action into her stories. You can always count on a lot of twists and turns as the characters try to achieve their goals (and fall in love with each other along the way). This book was a well-written story and a lot of fun to read, but I didn't think it had the depth that some of the other books I read this month did.

Count Down to Love by Julie N. Ford

This book was definitely my least favorite this month. First of all, there were way too many typos (more than one mention of being left at the "alter"). Second of all, the chronology of the plot was confusing, and that's one of my pet peeves in books. There were too many jumpy transitions and things that confused me. Mostly I just didn't care that much about the characters and I didn't feel like I got to know either of them very well.

Girls Don't Fly by Kristen Chandler

I wanted to love this book, but I had a hard time doing that. It is very well-written and I can see why so many people like it. I think there were just some things that were too close to my personal experience and made it hard for me to really lose myself in the story. I still would recommend this book and think its one of the stronger books in the Whitney finalists that I have read so far.

Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly

This was my favorite of the five romance books I read this month, and the one with the most explicitly Mormon content (it has mixed reviews on Amazon for this reason). I really liked it. The story is not just about a man and a woman falling in love with each other, but about a woman learning to be her own self and to find her own testimony. It just felt much more mature and meaty than any of the other books I read.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

For some reason listening to this book was much harder than I imagine reading it would be. Brooks is an amazingly talented writer, and listening to her read her own book was perfect. But something gruesome happens in just about every chapter and I was pretty worn out by the end of ten hours of audio.

Not My Type by Melanie Jacobson

I really loved reading this book. It was a lot of fun, but it does also have a fair amount of meaty content as well. I like books like this that are about the growth of the protagonist as much as they are about her ability to find the right guy. I thought Pepper was so much fun to read about and I would absolutely date Tanner if he existed in real life.

Before I Say Goodbye by Rachel Ann Nunes

I liked the idea of the story in this book, but hated the execution. First of all, the main characters all felt like stereotypes and reacted to situations in stereotypical ways. I kept waiting for those stereotypes to be challenged or turned on their heads in some way, but they never were. Also, there were way too many points of view. I've read a few books like that lately and I've decided that it rarely works. You never get a chance to really connect with a character and to feel like you can understand them. Lastly, too much of the character growth in this book was spelled out by the characters themselves rather than being shown naturally through their actions. I wanted more showing, less telling.

Movies
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Part 2)

It's been too long since I've seen the first part, or any of the other movies, so I spent half this movie trying to remember who everyone was and what had happened before this. I still enjoyed it and thought it was a great end to the series. I could have done without the epilogue, though.

Moneyball

I don't know anything about baseball (and I don't care about baseball), but I really enjoyed this movie. It's not really about baseball; it's a character study of a man trying to do something different and trying to figure out what he should do with his life. I like movies like that.

2 comments:

Desmama said...

It sounds horrible, but I can't help but be a little smug you disliked Rachel's book. She was such a diva to work with as an author. It still makes me crazy, and it's been ten years.

Melanie Jacobson said...

Okay, I've read all of the romances in this category. And I have a feeling if we ranked the five and compared our lists we'd have them in exactly the same order. I've been telling my husband for a month now that I'm losing to Borrowed Light. As I should. But it sounds like to me as if you got exactly what I hoped readers would take away from my books: maybe a tiny bit to think about, but mainly just a fun way to pass a Friday night.