Friday, December 28, 2012

One of Those Malibu Nights

One of Those Malibu NightsOne of Those Malibu Nights by Elizabeth Adler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A weekend camping trip, and out come the guilty pleasures!

This one is definitely a typical guilty pleasure (or as the BF would say, some good fluff....though he would NEVER call it good, lol!). This book is very lighthearted, even for a mystery, as the the fun, playful human interactions are well balanced with the suspense and intrigue. The interwoven story lines also made this enjoyable, though on a few occasions I felt the number of people who seem to come to the same private investigator, unbeknownst to each other and in relation to the same overall set of problems, was a little over the top and not believable. To the author's credit though, this is fiction so of course there is room for all the creative license one would like to employ, but I am sometimes a bit put off by the moments where I go "really?!" - it just seems to me to be easier to get into a story like this when there is at least some feeling that things going on could actually happen.

The only other thing I didn't love as much about this book was the way the relationship between Mac and Sunny shaped up and played out. We are introduced to Sunny as being Mac's "on again, off again" girlfriend who wanted to get married though Mac is "happy how things are". I won't throw in a spoiler, but will just say that the state of their relationship at the end of the book was a bit disappointing, though not for the normal reasons. This didn't originally bother me when first reading, as I was not aware that this was the first book in a series, but upon realizing that there were additional books, I was bit bummed out. The "on again, off again" and "will they or won't they" scenario is one that has a lot of potential in a series. Yes, it can be somewhat annoying sometimes when the latest book or episode leaves you wondering until the next comes out, but in the end it is one of the great elements that they know will keep readers and viewers coming back, and I think too much happened in this one story that could have been spread out over at least one, if not two, other books that would have added to the desire to read the next one.
Otherwise, a great lazy hammock afternoon read!

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Life's a Beach

Life's a BeachLife's a Beach by Claire Cook
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was nice easy read, but definitely not up there in terms of great books.

While I definitely appreciate a great "guilty pleasure", this one was just a bit too simple and predictable, without any great poignant moments or much apparent creativity. One sister is the golden child, one sister has wasted potential and a so-so love life, blah blah blah. This model has been done repeatedly, but can still be great if there is different presentation, message etc. Unfortunately this book has neither. I picked this up from a friend's bookshelf when I was literally out of my own books to read while housesitting, and this is about the only situation I'd recommend it for. If you're stuck in the airport during a snow storm, buy a different one.

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How I Planned Your Wedding: The All-True Story of a Mother and Daughter Surviving the Happiest Day of Their Lives

How I Planned Your Wedding: The All-True Story of a Mother and Daughter Surviving the Happiest Day of Their LivesHow I Planned Your Wedding: The All-True Story of a Mother and Daughter Surviving the Happiest Day of Their Lives by Susan Wiggs
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I started this book at least 3 times before reading past the first few pages, but eventually forced my way through since it was a giveaway book and I already feel terrible that I hadn't finished it a year and half later.

While there were definitley funny moments and some great heartwarming ones, it was very obvious that it was a collaboration and not in a good way. I usually love Susan Wiggs when I need a does of chick lit, but much of "her" was missing in the collaboration on this. My other issue, which may be related to having never been a bride but who knows, was that she came across as the spoiled bride (at least financially, not in the spoiled bridezilla way) whose world just might end if her "one" perfect day was not absolutely perfect. I guess that is what I should ahve expected from a wedding planning memoir written by a mom and daughter, but it still detracted from it for me. I could have done with a little more memoir and a little less commentary.

Overall it was an ok read for a rainy day, but definitely not one that would recommend and my copy has already taken it's journey to the thrift store shelves.

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie SocietyThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I started this book last year and for some reason wasn't immediately drawn into and let it slip by the wayside. Having read so many wonderful reviews, I decided last week that giving it another shot was a good way to steer away from the incessant string of guilty pleasures I've been reading lately, and I am so thoroughly glad I did!

I will admit that the very beginning took a bit to get into, but had I gone just a bit further the first time I would have found myself at the point of no return, being wholeheartedly absorbed and not wanting the story to ever end. I think my earlier stumbling block was that I did not initially take to Juliet. She struck me early on as a bit coddled, self absorbed and someone who was profiting from her writings on the war without having suffered nearly as much as so many others (not to say at all that she did not suffer, I think I just didn't "feel" for her as much as I thought I should). This though, ended up being why I loved her in the end. The fact that her suffering was ultimately so much less than her Guernsey friends and the manner with which she got to know them and love them was the tie that bound in the story. She felt for them and their struggles without doing them the indignity of pitying them. She embraced them all for who they were, what they had been through, and how their individuality combined with their makeshift community got them through.

This story touched my heart and I want it to go on forever! I want to read Juliet's next book, and go stay with her in her Guernsey cottage. I want to try Isola's potions, go fishing with Eben, eat Amelia's cooking and talk to Dawsey about Charles Lamb (who I've never heard of, but most definitely need to look up!).

This is a book that will always have a place on my bookshelf.

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Fluff, Fluff, Deep, Fluff, Fluff - 2012 In Review

The lack of a functioning computer has obviously inhibited my ability to blog or keep up with much on Goodreads, but one 2013 resolution is to fix that calamity!

Despite my ever present goal/desire to put quality over quantity, I was sorely unsuccesful this year - there were a few solid pieces in there but a pretty sizable chunk of the 2012 reading fell into my "Guilty Pleasures" category.

The actual books  fell into a surprisingly broad spectrum, but with the very distinct pattern of succumbing to a "one track mind"!

Clive Cussler - During a 6-week of stint of very low activity while the BF recovered from surgery last winter, he somehow convinced me to read one of the Dirk Pitt books...and I proceeded to read about 15 of them! These books are great for me because I do actually feel like I'm learning something (I know a whole lot more about marine sciences than I ever thought I could, and my bucket list of exotic locales to visit increases with each book). However, the overall cookie cutter plots do get to me sometimes, so I've learned to space them out a bit.

Sookie Stackhouse - I have been a fan of True Blood since the beginning, but it never crossed my mind to read the books until a friend dropped of the first 9 of them in mid-October....I finished those, as well as the 10th, 11th and 12th books on the Kindle, by mid-December. These are so easy to read, (and I think more enjoyable to me because I picture the TV show characters in my mind and Eric is oh so yummy to think about!) but I think they did get weaker as the story went along. I'm very curious to see how the series concludes with the 13th/final book in the spring. My biggest qualm with these books though, is that the earlier ones were written in a way that made me feel like I was reading a YA novel with some sex thrown in. Don't get me wrong, I like YA and read it all the time, but these earlier books seemed like they couldn't make up their mind. It also seems like Charlaine Harris realized this, because the vocabulary, dialogue style and situations became more adult as they went along. That said, there were also definitely some instances where there were so many "big words" that it almost seemed like overcompensation...."I can't seem to fully write like an adult, so I'll thrown in a bunch of words that kids will never understand and that will make it better".

The Hunger Games - Yes, I succumbed. Primarily because Dad found the first 2 books a yard sale and dropped them off for me to borrow. This is one trilogy that I LOVED....and then the love waned. All 3 books were entertaining, but by the time I got around to Mockingjay I just did not appreciate it as much as the first 2, which were relatively equal though I enjoyed The Hunger Games a bit more than Catching Fire. My issue with Mockingjay was that it was just too simplistic - convince girl to be symbol of rebellion, send girl into ONE firefight and tides change, throw in a few other not-so-memorable things, send her to the capitol, tell her to kill the president, end of story. Nothing was in depth at all with this book, so I felt more like I was reading cliff notes instead of the novel itself. And as Stephen King said....the name Katniss really is stupid :)

When all was said and done though, I did meet my 50 book challenge for year.....56 and counting!