Books read in December

The books this month seem to be more of “passing time” books than anything. Nothing groundbreaking here. Although, I did like Me & Orsen Wells. When is that movie coming out, anyway?

Read
Keeping Faith: a novel
Jodi Picoult
Engrossing story with dumb title, I quite enjoyed the twists and turns. It wasn’t high literature (even for my low standards) but it was a fun read.

Side note. In the author interview at the end of the novel Picoult mentions that she researches like crazy for books because she can’t stand to have errors. I found two, one of which was quite glaring: the grandmother character, who is in her 50s mentions that the War of the Worlds broadcast “scared her and her husband to death.” I find this to be amazing, because the novel is set in 1999. This puts the grandmother’s character as being born in the early to mid 40s. So, not only would the grandmother not have been married in 1938 when the broadcast was first aired, but she also woudn’t have even been alive. Also, there was a reference to a nail being put “in Jesus Christ’s side.” I found this to be off and three minutes of googling has indeed revealed that Jesus’ side was pierced by a spear. Geez oh Pete, for an author who is a stickler for accuracy, these should have been cleaned up early on.

The Last Blue Mile
Kim Ponders
I checked this out because this story of a female Air Force Academy Cadet does not intersect with my own life experiences in any way. The book provided a nice window into Air Force culture. Based on what I read, I’m glad for the window and will not be seeking a door into Air Force Culture any time soon.

A Model Summer
Paula Porizkova
The book that convinced me there is little actual glamor in modeling. How does a sheltered fifteen year old girl spending her summer working as a model in Paris fare? The answer is not surprising. As the quote on the back of the book says, the novel “bravely offers no easy answers.” Engrossing and disturbing.

Me & Orson Wells
Robert Kaplow
The “voice” in this novel is fun and fresh and the novel itself is a fun time capsule to 1930s Broadway and Orson Wells. I found out about halfway through that Zac Ephron will be playing the main character which didn’t match the picture in my head at all, but I look forward to seeing Orson Wells recreated for the screen and this book also inspired our next choice for the Shakespeare Project: Julius Caesar.

Sideways
Rex Pickett
I found this movie to be highly annoying–the main characters were incredibly juvenile and idiotic. Someone nicely summed up the movie as “Dumb and Dumber do Wine Country.” So why read the book? Though I hated the movie, the story and characters have stuck with me, and when I came across the novel on the library shelves I figured the book might provide a little more insight.

Indeed, I liked the book much better than the movie. The book had the advantage, as books do, of letting us into the minds of at least one of the men. This humanized him for me and softened my judgment. The story is well written, clips along, has some incredible passages and uses vocabulary that had me reaching for the dictionary several times. Don’t get me wrong, the men are still idiotic, but much more human. This would be a nice vacation read.

Unplugging Philco
Jim Knipfel
My initial reaction was enjoyment. This futuristic novel is set in New York City, where massive amounts of freedoms Americans enjoy today have voluntarily been given up due to “the Horribleness”–an incident that flattened Tupolo. This novel was clearly written to skewer the post-9/11 world we live in. However, as the story dragged on, the life Wally Philco lives left me sad. Near the middle of the book, things look like they would work out for him in some small way, but I realized I was about two chapters away from the end and this wasn’t going to end well. I put down the book for a few days, and eventually returned to find that, indeed, the ending was not what I was looking for. Not only that, I found it to be not believable. Two days later, I’m still thinking, “But wait. If the ending is true, then how did X work?” This is not a good sign for a book.

The Sinful Life of Lucy Burns
Elizabeth Leiknes
A slim novel, this initially had me tittering as I read along. But somewhere in the middle–which I guess would be about page 80–it bogged down and I lost interest. This was a clever premise, but not the best execution. I’m interested to see if Leiknes‘ next novel will be a bit better.

Started but did not finish

Braided Lives
Marge Piercy
It’s the 1950s and Marge Piercy’s main character doesn’t want a man to posses her. Hmmm. Good luck with that. Having just read her memoir, I can tell that large portions of this novel are inspired by her own life. It seemed like things were going to be grim, and so my attention waned. Also? Horrible 80’s-esque cover. So bad it is almost good.

Past Caring
Robert Goddard
I never really got to caring about the character, so I couldn’t move through to past caring. When I hit page fifty and I’m still wondering if I will start to be interested soon, it is time to put down the novel.

Our Lady of Greenwich Village
Dermot McEvoy
A manly novel, that takes the men in it too seriously. Pete Hamill writes better novels set in bars. This suffers from the book equivalent of the movie problem of “too many identical white guys in suits.” About the fifth time I asked myself, “Who is this person and why are they on the page right now?” I decided I really didn’t care and gave up.

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