I wish there was more time in the day so I could review every book I read on Feeding My Book Addiction. My solution to this time dilemma is to post Mixed Reviews from time to time. Mixed Reviews are a sampling of books I've recently read and quickly reviewed on Goodreads.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Written after the author's five day stay in an adult psychiatric facility, Ned Vizzini's "It's Kind of a Funny Story" follows the slow mental decline of Craig Gilner, a 15 year old high school freshman at the most elite high school in Manhattan.
Craig worked tirelessly toward gaining entry to Executive Pre-Professional High School, doing nothing but his middle school work and studying for the entrance exam every free second he had. The day his acceptance came in the mail, complete with his score report stating he aced the exam, was the happiest day of Craig's young life.
His one and only friend Aaron invites him over to a party to celebrate both of them getting into Executive Pre-Professional. He smokes pot for the first time, drinks scotch out of his old lunch thermos, and begins the slow slide to unhappiness following the happiest day of his life.
He cannot function to do his homework and he is getting behind. He is a solid 93 student, which in his mind, is average, and won't get him into a good college, a good grad school, or a good job, nor will it get him a wife and kids. He develops a sweating problem. He can't eat. He tries Zoloft, but is tricked into thinking he is cured after a couple of months and goes off the medication.So, he decides to kill himself by jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge.
After deciding to lock up his bike on the bridge and take the lock's key with him when he jumps, Craig thinks to glance at page 20 of one of his mother's self help books about recovering from the loss of a loved one. This page directs him to call a suicide hot line. The second person he speaks with convinces him to go to the nearest emergency room. Without fully understanding what is going on, Craig is admitted into the psychiatric ward for a five day stay.
During his five days at Six North, Craig grows up, discovers his passions, realizes that not all friends are good friends, and realizes how lucky he is to have a supportive family. It's a powerful story for young adults who have the stresses of school, college applications, and peer pressure to contend with. They can see that they are not alone and that getting help is possible.
The book didn't appeal to me as an adult reader because everything seemed too simple, too neat. What 15 year old kid is going to call a suicide hot line and actually listen to some stranger telling him/her to check into an emergency room? What 15 year old kid would just do what he's told once in a psychiatric ward? He never fought back. He never rebelled. And the story of his recovery just also seemed easy, effortless even. There wasn't enough substance in the almost 450 page book to make me believe that it was a plausible story.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
People were surprised that I would actually read former President George W. Bush's memoir "Decision Points." I didn't vote for Bush in 2000 and I certainly didn't vote for him in 2004. I wasn't a fan of him or the way he came across to the American people and the world at large. However, I always say that my arguments or opinions are only as strong as my understanding of the opposing side's arguments or opinions. So, I read Decision Points. And, I enjoyed it. I laughed out loud. Tears streamed down my face. I read excerpts aloud to my boyfriend. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.
For starters, I enjoyed the format. Instead of telling the story of his life and eight year administration in chronological order, Bush (President Bush? Former President Bush? I'm really not sure what to call him...) dedicates a chapter to key 'decision points' of his administration: stem cells, 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, Hurricane Katrina, and the financial crisis to name a few. This format really allows him to get into the nitty gritty of the topic, instead of glancing over key aspects of it as he probably would have in a chronological memoir.
I also enjoyed the first chapter detailing his first decision point that really made all the rest possible: his decision to quit drinking. Seeing his struggle with alcohol turned him into a three dimensional person for me, instead of some politician I never voted for that I didn't really like.
This was a rather thick book too, but it was surprisingly easy and quick to read. Okay, so maybe some would say that this isn't too surprising. The prose was easily accessible and it flowed. The delivery of certain scenes was impressive too. These were the scenes that made me laugh out loud or start crying.
While I was laughing and crying, I was also learning something. I don't remember hearing much, if anything, about Bush's AIDS and malaria initiatives that have saved hundreds of thousands of lives in Africa. Humanitarian efforts go a long way with me, but I couldn't help but wonder why he wasn't doing much about HIV/AIDS here at home. I also didn't realize that the Governor of Louisiana kept declining Bush's offers for aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That puts a bit of perspective on the "the federal government didn't react fast enough" argument.
I got the sense that George W. Bush tried to do his best to steer this country in the direction he thought was best. He had to tweak his navigation from time to time due to events that happened during his administration, but he strove to stay true to himself, his beliefs, and his nation.
In the grand scheme of things, reading his book didn't alter my opinions of Bush's presidency all that much. I'm glad I read it though because, like I said at the beginning of this review, my arguments and opinions are only as strong as my understanding of the opposing side's arguments and opinions. I definitely recommend this book to all Americans looking for another (even insider) view of the first decade of the twenty-first century. The Bush family back story and photographs are also an added bonus.
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Note to self: do not download free Kindle books from Amazon. These books are free for a reason and that reason is that very few people would willingly pay to read this garbage. I think the author meant well when she tried to combine cheese read chick lit with contemporary Christian fiction. She probably figured that the blending of the two genres would bring more readers to Fools Rush In, which to my dismay, is the first book in a series! Ugh!
When I downloaded this book to my phone, I thought "Yay! Free read!" No where in the description did I read anything about this being a Christian novel, but I quickly figured it out with the scripture references, Bible reading in bed, and the constant prayers by all characters involved. This didn't bother me all that much, but I could see where it would piss off a lot of readers and make them put the book down.
Not me though. I plugged on. I met and followed the lives of the most flat and stereotypical characters in chick lit. Bella Rossi is the ugly Italian daughter in a large, extended Italian family that eats a lot and owns a pizza parlor. The family has mob connections from their time living in New Jersey, which was before they moved to Galveston Island, Texas where this atrocious story takes place.
Bella the ugly duckling grew up Methodist in Texas and knows nothing about cowboy boots or country music. Really? You mean to tell me that she never went to a high school dance or to a shopping mall? I'm sure cowboy boots and country music are known by all Texans, even if they don't like either one of them. Oh and the mobster's bird is named Guido? Really? What is this? The Christian Jersey Shore?
Bella, the shallow and stereotypical protagonist, is responsible for her family's wedding facility, which she constantly refers to as the wedding facility. It wore on my nerves. She thinks themed weddings are her ticket to making the facility she named "Club Wed" a success. Her first wedding is a boot scooting country wedding, but, as we all now know, she knows nothing about country music or boot scooting. She needs to find a DJ to play the country music she knows nothing about and ends up hiring a guy named DJ instead.
Enter Bella's love interest, DJ. He's a country cowboy with baby blue eyes. Oh how she loved looking into his baby blues. Oh how her heart melted when she looked into his baby blues. Oh how her stomach fluttered when she looked into his baby blues! I just vomited in my mouth a little just recounting the dozens of times DJ's eyes were referred to as baby blues. Can we be anymore cliched?
Oh yes, we can! DJ's brother's name is Bubba and he makes barbecue. I couldn't make up crap this bad. Bubba ends up wooing Bella's best friend Jenna, who forgets all about her fiance working on an offshore oil rig to save up money for their wedding. For being a Christian book, nothing was said about this blatant infidelity. I guess we were supposed to assume that nothing but heavy flirting and vomit inducing staring into baby blues occurred between these two love birds and that all was well when Jenna and Bubba told the offshore drilling boyfriend the truth over a pizza at the Rossi family pizza parlor.
I could go on and on with the atrocities committed by the author as she tried to write an engaging and entertaining Christian novel. Instead, I'm going to end this review, walk away, let my blood pressure go back down to normal, and thank God that I won't have to read any more of her books.
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
In today's age of celebrity tabloids, entertainment news shows, celebrity endorsed products, and overall obsession with all things famous, it's easy to see why I would pick up Elizabeth Currid-Halkett's Starstruck: The Business of Celebrity.
How is being a celebrity a viable business or source of income? Just ask Elizabeth Currid-Halkett. She will dazzle you with her first hand sources (media moguls, PR reps, psychologists, economists, etc.) and support her statistical findings with visual aids that really demonstrate what she is trying to say.
The only thing is, she spent too much time saying the same damn things. This book is short, coming it at just under 230 pages without the appendices, but it could have been a lot shorter. I felt like she was beating me over the head with the same concepts, maybe because she thought I had the IQ of a socialite with no discernible talent other than to be photographed. A lot.
I understand that the latest thing can happen in the blink of an eye and that what was in yesterday could be a distant memory tomorrow. But, it seemed as though Currid-Halkett was a year or two behind in her examples. She spent way too much time talking about Myspace. Last time I heard anyone talk about Myspace, it was 2009 and used primarily for hookups. The only times she mentioned Facebook was to discuss her obsession with her acquaintance she called 'M' probably because if she used his real name, he'd request a restraining order after she basically admitted to stalking his plentiful status updates. Then again, we all stalk status updates. According to Currid-Halkett, we spend over 55 minutes a day on Facebook. I hope it's not all spent playing Farmville.
I just don't understand how a book about the business of celebrity could fail to mention the Kardashian family, who have mastered the business of celebrity thanks to the business savvy tutelage of momager, Kris. These girls have reality shows, modeling gigs, their own line of products, product endorsements, and their own clothing stores. How could they NOT be mentioned? And how did she fail to mention the Teen Mom phenomenon on MTV? These teen moms are making a business out of being teenage mothers, spending their hefty paychecks on boob jobs and other get famous quick ideas.
Oh wait, she spent a lot of time talking about Paris Hilton, Tara Reid, and Lindsey Lohan. Paris and Tara who? I haven't heard about them in weeks, if not months!
I was also hoping Currid-Halkett would address my most often wondered celebrity question: Why the hell do we, the average people, even care about these people? This is an indirect question regarding the business of celebrity, but I was hoping it would be discussed more than it was, since the average people buying into this media circus of celebrity keeps the business of celebrity going.
Overall, it was an okay read. It isn't a complete waste of time because there are useful tidbits of information and insight that will give us ordinary people a better understanding of the celebrity machine.
It would have gotten three stars from me, but the author failed to mention in her comparison of Jennifer Aniston and Kate Winslet that the movie The Reader is an adaptation of a book by the same name. She mentioned Aniston starring in Marley & Me, a "runaway bestseller," but failed to mention that the movie she was comparing Marley & Me to was also a book. It's little things like this that really turn me off from a book sometimes.