Llew's Reviews

Archive for the 'Disses and Misses' Category

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby

Sunday, November 8th, 2009 by Miss Laura

nick_hornby_juliet_naked_300x471 Two decades after their prime, a washed-up rock musician, an overzealous fan, and the woman at the crossroads between them all must face the reality of adulthood. You will want to spend time with these characters — and see how things unfold for them.”
— Andi Allen, Piece of Mind Books, Edwardsville, IL
October 2009 Indie Bound Pick

I didn’t dislike this book – I just disliked every single character in it.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

Monday, September 8th, 2008 by Miss Laura

Preparing For Christmas Season In The Harried Book World: Book #8

“Being a fan of David Ebershoff’s, The Danish Girl and Pasadena, I was delighted to see he was still writing along with his editorial work at Random House. The 19th Wife, brilliantly combines two stories, one, historical fiction about Ann Eliza Young, who defies her church and husband, Brigham Young; the other a modern day murder mystery set in Utah. Ebershoff adroitly gives the reader a behind the scenes glimpse and understanding of a world of faith and love most of us can not comprehend. Initially, you are drawn to the feisty Ann Eliza Young’s story to find one true love, but due to circumstances is forced to make compromises, but then you are pulled into the gripping story of Jordan Scott, an outcast, can’t have too many boys around in competition with the older men, and the son of the woman accused of murdering her polygamist husband. As always with Ebershoff, he stunningly writes with great depth and feeling for his characters, which leaves readers thinking about Jordan and Ann Eliza days after finishing the book.” — Jane Dawson in Indie Bound’s Indie Next List for Setpember 2008

ANSWER ME THIS, WORLD:  If all of Brigham Young’s wives were as whiny as Ann Eliza (the 19th) then how in the world did he live to be so old?

This one received rave reviews, and was even compared to one of my favorites, Wallace Stegner. I’ve read another of Ebershoff’s novels and really enjoyed his writing style. Plus, his first book “The Danish Girl (which is based on the life of Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo sex reassignment surgery) is on my To Read list.I was really hoping to like this one and thought that his past novels might be a credit in the way he was able to handle certain characters while avoiding sterotypes. Not so much.

As the above quote states, this is two stories. The one I like the most (which isn’t saying much) is the modern day murder mystery with the main character being a boy who grew up in a polygamist sect but was abandoned on the highway by his mother, who believe she was following the Lord’s directive, when he was 14. He seems to have settled himself into a somewhat comfortable although transient life in California when one day he sees the story where his mother is accused of shooting his father. He drops everything (which doesn’t seem to be much) to go see her. Immediately, he picks up an orphan sidekick (also ousted from the polygamist sect for being male and thus competition) who reminds me of Brad Renfro in the movie “The Client” except instead of a bad southern accent he would have a bad Utah accent. (And let’s face it the worse someone trying to do a Utah accent sounds the more accurate it usually is.) The sidekick is feisty, foul mouthed, wiley and impossible to control – but has a good heart. After that, he picks up a boyfriend. They’re basically husband and husband after the first date.  However, in order to point out that in the Gay World this is considered taking it slow, the author makes sure to point out that they could have just had sex but instead went out on a date, then had sex, and then immediately were a couple. Thank you for clarifying the confusing gay gay world to a heterosexual such as myself, Mr. Ebershoff.

So two (maybe one?) days after dating the couple (and the trust foul mouthed sidekick!) drive two hours to Las Vegas go to a LDS(ish?) church in Las Vegas for homosexuals, transgendered, bisexuals, and whoever else still wants to go to a Mormon church. It’s somewhat unbelievable – if for the mere fact that the place the group congregates is described as tacky.

So that’s the storyline of the two I like the most.

The second one is set WAY back as the LDS church is first forming in Utah, and is about Ann Eliza Young – one of Brigham Young’s wives. First off, every man (and there are many) in this part of the story is the EXACT same man. The author took one personality, one set of actions, and then just pressed them all in a delightful cookie cutter set. This cookie cutter happens to quite loathsome. Every man might start off not wanting to take more than one wife, but soon they become obsessed with taking a newer prettier wife and can’t help themselves – no matter what the cost to anyone else’s feelings or their budget.

Brigham Young himself is portrayed as a dishonest manipulative bastard who cheats Ann Eliza Young’s brother into a horrible situation ruining his reputation, and then offers him a way out of it ONLY if Ann Eliza will marry him.  Ann Eliza Young is an actual woman in history, and this is actually exactly what she claimed to happen (in addition to writing a book on the subject, she also testified in front of congress about the cruelties of polygamy and was instrumental in getting it banned in the US) so it’s not the portrayl that I have a problem with.  It’s the fact that every other male character is the same shade of evil. That there’s no real variety. Then, the women are exactly the same way – the same copies as each other – all some variation of Ann Eliza Young although just maybe not as boisterous or outspoken about it.

I’ve always liked Ebershoff’s writing style but his tone and storyline were so condescending in this novel. I haven’t actively disliked a book that wasn’t actually poorly written in a long time. I’m not gay but the modern day story offended my inner homosexual. I could not stop rolling my eyes at it. Plus, the portrayal of every single grown man in Salt Lake City to be a randy cheating scum bag bothered me almost as much. 75% of every single grown man sure…

Anyway, from reading reviews and comments it seems as if I’m alone in my feelings.

So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

Sunday, July 29th, 2007 by Miss Laura

soyesterday.jpg “I do adore that Westerfeld, but he always kills me with his epilogues. Did you read Midnighters? I LOVED that series–it just built and built until book three was so amazing! Till you hit the epilogue. Why, Scott, why?? He creates such amazing and original worlds. Someday he’s going to accidentally write a happy ending.”

When I read the above in a letter from a friend, it made me think – of all things – Buddha. From Buddha’s teachings, the first of the “The Four Noble Truths” is that life IS suffering. However, once we see this truth we can transcend it. Thus, by truly knowing that life is difficult it ceases to be difficult. Because once you accept this truth, then the fact that life is suffering no longer matters.

I was trying to decide if the same thinking could be applied to reading Westerfeld’s works. That by knowing and accepting that the endings to his novels are going to suck it up big time – that they then cease to do so. I have no idea if applying Zen Buddhist teachings to young adult fiction will work, but I’m willing to give it a shot!

As for this stand alone novel, meh – it wasn’t even really worth a shot. I’ve already ordered Midnighters though and am willing to move on to bigger and better things than some overly wrought underwritten story about technology and the levels of innovation and trendsetting.

Book #65 Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006 by Miss Laura

After reading so many reviews which proclaimed this book as “unputdownable”, I had to try out this book which caused someone over the age of ten to make up such a useless word. I don’t really get it. It wasn’t bad, but I wouldn’t create any words which make it seem as if I have an IQ under 40 for it.

I’m always a sucker for books with main characters I really relate to. Who would I relate to more than a woman who grew up and still works in a bookstore her father owns? Evidently, a lot more. This book was pretty – meh.

Book #58 Rise And Shine by Ann Quindlen

Sunday, October 1st, 2006 by Miss Laura

I read this new bestseller written by the author of a former Oprah Bookclub pick, because a lady at the gym told me it was good.

Why don’t I just shoot myself now?

This shoving books in by the fist fulls so that I will have things to recommend and discuss with customers during the rush of Christmas season (when I will have no time to read anything) is getting me down. To be honest, it always does. But then the season comes around and I will pine for the days when I was able to read so much, no matter what it was.

Book #46 The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Saturday, August 12th, 2006 by Miss Laura

All the cool kids were doing it.

This was oddly like “The Historian”, only without the vampires and dusty letters. It was told by way of the same strange dips into the past which were supposed to be tension building, but instead the reminscing factor drained most of the suspense away. This is good for people like me though. My heart can barely handle recent pictures of Britney Spears in a tank top, much less the stress of old leather-face stalking the streets in the shadows. And by leather-face I’m referring to Julian Carax in the novel, not of Tara Reid.

Although, I do have to say that I’m a sucker for novels where the main character reminds me of myself and Daniel Sempere does that with lines like, “I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.”

Oh, the marks that being raised in your father’s bookstore will leave on you.

Book #38 Put The Book Back On The Shelf: A Belle & Sebastian Anthology

Thursday, June 29th, 2006 by Miss Laura

Don’t bother. Seriously, don’t.

Book #9 March by E.L. Doctorow

Thursday, January 19th, 2006 by Miss Laura

I wondered why my dad had thrown away an advanced reader’s copy of this civil war novel. That was until I read it. Talk about being The Meh.

Book #2 The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006 by Miss Laura

I’ve tried to read Didion’s non-fiction before, and gave up before I smothered myself with the dust jacket. Man, it’s boring. However, since her latest chronicle about dealing with her husband’s sudden death while her only child was in a coma in a hopsital was receiving such accolades I decided to try it again.

I hate to kick an author when she’s down, but I still don’t see what everyone is raving about. It was basically a recounting of things that would only interest me if it had been my own mother or someone else I was close to. Otherwise, it just seemed like I was reading someone’s diary when I shouldn’t. I felt like I was invading her privacy, and listening to thoughts and feelings that weren’t universally relateable. Or maybe they’re just not to me since I’ve never lost a husband of twenty years. Either way – Meh.

The next book I was going to read was Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Memories of My Melancholy Whores.” Wouldn’t that be a menage a trois of depression? Fortunately, my order for that hasn’t come in yet so I will have to venture into, hopefully, happier territory.

Book #51 Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton

Saturday, December 3rd, 2005 by Miss Laura

Seeing as Ms. Hinton wrote one of my favorite books from when I was a teenager, I was very excited to start Hawkes Harbor. That excitement lasted… all the way up until I actually began the actual reading of it. Hinton definitely didn’t Stay golden as it were.

This is the third book involving vampires that I read this year, and by far the worst. Her telling from a man’s perspective no longer works for me. Even the situations that didn’t involve the undead, seemed very unrealistic to me. She had characters of both genders acting in ways that just didn’t seem believable. It wasn’t a complete waste of time, because about three fourths of the way through I started caring enough about the characters to see it through the end. However, it was still completely disappointing.

But then again, I also loved Theodore Dreiser’s ‘American Tragedy’ when I was younger so perhaps it’s only my past taste that is to blame.

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