Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bunch of Mini Reviews 3: Library Edition

It's time for another round of mini reviews! I've been using my local library a lot lately because I'm trying to cut back on spending (on everything, not just books) and I already own a bazillion books that I haven't read yet. At one point this summer I think I had nine books reserved! Here are three I've read recently. Enjoy!

Beautiful Ruins - Jess Walters (synopsis)
I had heard so many good things about this novel since it was released last summer. I thought it sounded alright but wasn't too sure how I'd feel about it. After it came across my path a few times recently I decided to request it from my library.
I have to say that I was disappointed in this novel. It's not like I had high expectations for it, I just was surprised that there wasn't more drawing me in. The characters didn't do anything for me - and there were a lot of them. I was annoyed by the constant change in time, too. There are scenes from 1945, '62, '67, '78, '07, '08, and "recently", with most taking place in 1962 and recently. There was also a movie pitch chapter (about a guy in the 1800s), and two book chapter chapters. It was just too fragmented for me.
What I did like, however, was the film history aspect of the novel. The parts in 1962 are occurring because of the epic Cleopatra so it was fun to think about what it would have been like if this was true.
Beautiful Ruins wasn't a bad novel and I can see why it received so much praise. It just wasn't for me.
Now, here's something that doesn't really have much to do with the story but I want to note it. Take another look at the cover of this one, note the author's name, and read the synopsis here. I will wait. *hums tunelessly* Would you be surprised to learn that Jess Walters is, in fact, a man? I was. It's sort of a reverse genderflip (see this article for a crash course in what I'm talking about). My point is that we're so used to seeing bright colours and rounded, almost cursive, script on covers of books by women that even I assumed that this book was by a female (though, to be fair, I don't know a single male Jess). I just found it interesting and wanted to share!

Chose the Wrong Guy, Gave Him the Wrong Finger - Beth Harbison (synopsis)
I've always heard good things about Harbison in the chick lit world (and even have one of her previous books on my shelf) so I reserved her latest at my library to see what she was all about.
I read this one in one day and it was sweet and fun. However, it's not super amazing and I wonder what her fans think of this book compared to her others. I think I was expecting a little more and, while I did enjoy reading this book, it's kind of forgettable. Does that sound harsh and negative? I suppose it does. There just wasn't anything about this story that really stood out for me. I had the ending pegged from the start. I can usually look past that predictability within my favourite genre if there's a really good journey or twists but this book didn't quite have that.
I think one of my favourite parts was the challenge Quinn's best friend, Glenn, set up for her. He gave her a task every day that was something out of her comfort zone (going commando day and day drunk day had some amusing results).
I also really liked the small town aspect of this novel. I loved that Quinn owned a bridal shop and designed and sewed custom wedding dresses and that Glenn worked right next door at a wine and cheese shop (er..it may have been just a cheese shop..). The connection Quinn has with Frank and Burke's grandmother's farm is really great, too.
I still think that this book a good read overall. I enjoyed Quinn's story and I think others would too.

Inferno - Dan Brown (synopsis)
I put myself on the massive waiting list for Brown's latest (well after the fact...not really sure why I didn't request it the minute I knew it was being released) and waited patiently for it to be my turn. I probably could have read it in one day but there were parts in the middle that really dragged for me and I found myself putting it aside for chunks of time. I think my problem was that I let all the negative talk about Brown get into my head. Since I've been paying more attention to the literary/publishing/bookish world in the last couple of years I've seen how some authors get slammed because they don't live up to some sort of standard. I know this is silly and that these books can be really enjoyable but it still affected me. Annoying, I tell you.
I did eventually get past it and I was reminded, close to the end of the book, why I enjoy Brown's novels. He does a good job of completely surprising you. I thought things were all wrapped up and all the surprises were revealed. Nope. Not even by a long shot. Things were cleverly hidden and I would have kept reading to find out exactly what happened had it not been close to midnight.
I found it incredibly irritating that Sienna was constantly being referred to as pretty. I swear, every other description of her included "pretty" or "attractive". It was kind of ridiculous. We know Langdon always solves the mystery with a hot girl, we get it. Let's move on!
I think the other thing I didn't like as much about this one was the mystery (and is probably also the reason I didn't love the last book) itself. I like history but I really like art history and I think that's what I enjoyed about the first two books. Learning about Dante in this book was really interesting but the scientific and villian aspect didn't excite me. In fact, it was kind of terrifying because of the biological things that could happen that we may not even know about.
Overall, Inferno was a good read. Was it my favourite Langdon novel from Brown? No. But it's exactly what you'd expect from him - fast paced, mysterious, and enjoyable.

1 comment:

  1. That sucks Chose the Wrong Guy Gave HIm the Wrong Finger ended up being a bit disappointing. I have it on hold too so I won't feel as bad now if I don't get around to reading it. Definitely going to skip Beautiful Ruins though. The synopsis never really grabbed me and the only reason I feel compelled to read it is the fact that its so popular at work. Oh well!

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