April 10, 2015
#14 The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff C-
This book was like one big facepalm. That's really the only way I can describe it. I listened to it via Audible and, if I would've had the book version, I would've skimmed a lot of it.
I think it would make a nice Hallmark movie. I kept visualizing the setting, but parts of it were boring, other parts were causing me second-hand embarrassment, and then there were a lot of implausibilities in the story. For example, the Nazis invaded Poland in September 1939. So, in December 1940, they would've been hanging around Poland. Americans had not yet entered the war. HOWEVER, I do believe that it is possible that scouting missions would have been sent and American soldiers (functioning as spies) would have been in Europe keeping an eye on things. HOWEVER, I do not for a single second believe that they would have sent 18 year old just-out-of-basic-training soldiers. Therefore, I don't really know what Sam would have been doing in Poland anyway. This is like the kind of work we have Navy Seals doing these days. A group of privates from Ft. Benning would not be sent to kill Bin Laden. That was my main issue with the book.
I started reading reviews and spoilers online because I wanted to know the ratio of time well-spent vs. time wasted if I was going to be finishing the book. I kept turning it off and listening to the radio instead. Otherwise, I would've finished this thing in February.
There was something about the ending that rubbed me the wrong way. It was a good idea for a book...it just wasn't put together well. The first 11 hours moved v.e.r.y. slowly and then all of a sudden, it was over.
#15 The Ghost in the Little House by William Holtz D-
I bought this book on Amazon over a year ago and have been meaning to read it ever since.
It was awful. Like reading a textbook. First of all, my opinion is not that of the author's; I do not believe that Rose Wilder Lane was a ghost-writer of the Little House books. I believe she edited and provided guidance. Of course, you'd never know that the author's opinion was "Rose wrote the books" because he uses so much flowery language and beats around the bush for days. I don't believe he ever actually states what it is that he believes. Annoying.
I had a college professor like that once. Talked for days on end about nothing. It doesn't surprise me that Holtz is a college professor.
Also, we all know Rose was bitter and deprived and neglected (?) in every way, shape, and form. Or do we? I think that she developed a complex from being an only child and had too much time to think. She wasn't challenged in school and she just believed differently than her parents about a lot of things. There's nothing wrong with that, except that she took every opportunity to lament about it in journals and letters (of which this biography is comprised). Rose needed a blog.
I mentioned that I don't really like her, and I still feel that way. I liked the first few chapters but it was impossibly hard to understand what was supposed to be going on. Rose's own journals and letters were as tough to decipher as Holtz's writing. I read a book about Rose (directed to the 12 and under crowd) a few years back and it was done autobiography-style. She didn't write it, but it was from her point of view. It went through her adult life from about 17 to 30. Most of my base knowledge on Rose comes from that (do not remember the name...) and the LIW Museum in Mansfield.
I'm only giving The Ghost in the Little House a D- (instead of an F) because I like the subject matter. Also, I was forced to skim a lot of it because it was dull. D for dull.
#16 Leaving Time Jodi Picoult A-
Since people, as a whole, won't stop reading this author's books, I decided I'd see what the big deal was. I got this on audiobook at the library.
I was shocked that I enjoyed it. I could've done without the elephant-talk. Alice's passages in the first half of the book were kind of boring. I really liked the way it was told from 4 different points of view, by 4 different narrators. I would tell you who the narrators are but one of my biggest pet peeves is a book review that is really a summary, so you can look that up.
There were a few parts that drove me nuts. Every time Alice started her narration with "In Kenya" or "In Zambia" or "Elephants...", all I heard was "This one time at band camp..." because she never stopped talking about elephants and their behaviors. I tuned all that out.
I will also say that Jodi Picoult loves her similes. They never stopped.
All in all, I really did enjoy the story. The twist at the end got me, though I slightly suspected it. Don't worry. No spoilers from me.
#17 The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport C+
I found this on a recommendation list after I read The Family Romanov. If I had not read The Family Romanov before I tried to read The Romanov Sisters, I would've been completely lost instead of kinda lost. It wasn't a terrible book, and was well-organized enough (chronologically), but I did lose interest after a certain point. The first 1/4 of the book was pretty good. There were so many places and names and cousins and soldiers and whatnot. It's hard to keep everyone straight. So if you have a deep, invested interest in the Romanov family, you should read this. If not, and you'd just like to expand your content knowledge, try The Family Romanov.
Also, as some people pointed out on Goodreads, it completely glosses over their deaths. If this was your introduction to the Romanovs, you'd have no idea what happened to them. It just ends. No epilogue. Nothing.
#18 Food: A Love Story by Jim Gaffigan A
Many people said this book wasn't as good as Jim's first book, Dad is Fat. I didn't though because I didn't read Dad is Fat and I wasn't into the idea of reading an autobiography of Jim Gaffigan. I picked up this book because it's about food and it's funny.
And really, it's funny. I was laughing as I read it and I finished it in two days. So many of his observations were absolutely spot-on. A must-read for anyone who likes food.
#19 The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin B
I had heard of this book at some point and the Ft. Carson library is such a shed that anytime I see a halfway-palatable audiobook, I snatch it up. That's how I ended up listening to this story.
It was okay. If you are a fan of Downton Abbey, you may be frustrated with the characters in this book (Cora is no Lady Mary), but you will at least understand what is going on. For example, I knew what a "dower house" was and I knew the difference between a butler and a footman. The second half of the book was better than the first half.
This is like Gossip Girl meets Downton and there's a bit of a Blair and Chuck thing going on there (hiding behind a story about Blair and Louis). I recommend it for that reason, if for nothing else. And then maybe a bit of a 50 Shades thing in how the Duke treats Cora. He's gloomy, moody, and dark.
#20 The Smartest Kids in the World by Amanda Ripley B
This book was written by a non-educator and someone who brags about not wanting to write about education. She thinks it's "boring". Well, I kind of think she's uninformed in the way she writes about education in this book...BUT I read it specifically to find out what it was like for the 3 American exchange students who went to South Korea, Poland, and Finland. I'm writing a separate review because I have many opinions on education.
Also, I tried to read One More Thing by B.J. Novak and I just couldn't do it. I kinda get what he was trying to do, writing a collection of short stories but it's not my kind of book. I thought it'd be more of a memoir and it wasn't at all. I really thought it'd be like Adam Carolla's book or Tina Fey's. Definitely wasn't.
If I could recommend one book from this list to you, it would be Food: A Love Story. Everyone should read it.
Linking up with Jana and Steph!