Friday, April 30, 2010

April Book Reviews: "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," "A Thousand Splendid Suns," "My Life in France," "Angela's Ashes," and "My Old Man"

My Rating Scale: *OK **Good ***Great

by Mark Haddon
Rating: ***

Seth and I listened to this one on our road-trip to Boise. I had no idea what it was about and chose it solely because I thought the title was awesome. It turned out to be about a 15 year old boy with Asperger Syndrome, a form of autism. He spends the book trying to find out who killed the neighbor's dog. I LOVED this book. A great story and a pleasure to listen to. The narrator did a great job as well. I highly recommend this one. Also, as a side note, we started out listening to "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch, but didn't even make it a half hour before we were fast-forwarding it and making snarky comments. He seemed to put himself on a pedestal like he was some great hero or something and it was annoying right from the start. Maybe we didn't give it much of a chance, but I think we ultimately made a good decision as the Mark Haddon book was a million times more enjoyable than what we heard from Pausch.

by Khaled Hosseini
Rating: **+

'A Thousand Splendid Suns' is a book about the last 30 years in Afghanistan and how it affected the lives of two native women. It's historical fiction, but I'm sure the stories of the two women are not far from reality in terms of how women are and were treated.

I was a little hesitant to read this book because I loved The Kite Runner so much and thought there was no way Hosseini's next book would be as good. I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised. Like 'The Kite Runner', I listened to this book on CD. I actually think it adds a lot to this type of book because the narrators are able to correctly pronounce Afghan names and other words correctly. This book was very engaging and suspenseful. If you liked 'The Kite Runner' you'll like this one too.

by Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
Rating: **+
This is the first 'foodie' book I've read. I wanted to broaden my literary repertoire into different subjects and categories and I figured I could kill two birds with one stone (and maybe make a soup out of them) with this book. I love Julia Child and thought it would be cool to read her autobiography whilst learning about French food and cooking at the same time. I love Julia's sense of humor. She's so down to earth and likable. Her passion for cooking and food is very endearing. I don't have either of the two main cookbooks she talks about in this book (Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1 & Mastering the Art of French Cooking Vol. 2 ) but have a sudden strong urge to buy them and try all of the delicious recipes she spent so much time and effort perfecting. What a labor of love! I also really wish I spoke French and could read the names of all the wonderful food she talked about. Hmm... sounds like I need to plan a trip to France! 

by Frank McCourt
Rating: ***+

This is an autobiography from Frank McCourt about his childhood growing up in a poor, Irish Catholic family in Limerick, Ireland. I loved this book. Had I known it would be this good I would have read it years ago (I read the first page or two once). What made this even better is it was an audio version read by the author. He's a great storyteller and having him read this gave it so much more character. What a tough childhood he had. It's surprising he was able to make most of his story so humorous. I'm very curious about his other books now as well. This was a lucky find as far as audiobooks go. Highly recommended. Did I mention you should get the audiobook?? (Library people, library!)
My Old Man
by Amy Sohn
Rating: *+

So my friend Heidi lent me this book so I could screen it for someone else and see if it was suitable. The reason for this is there is a lot of sex and "adult situations" in it and she wasn't sure if a certain somebody would like it or not. This book is about a twenty-something Jewish girl, Rachel, who drops out of rabbinical school and becomes a bartender (to the chagrin of her parents). During this transition phase she carries company with an "educational" female friend, a famous older boyfriend, and her parents who have issues of their own.

I did like this book, however there was a bit of a separation between the first half and the second half. I really liked the beginning of this book... a bit shocking but engaging. By the second half of the book I was baffled as to why Rachel's boyfriend is interested in her at all. She doesn't seem to be anything special and I can't understand why he likes her or chooses to spend time with her. I can understand why he gets angry with her all the time. Of course, I don't think the boyfriend is anything special either and I can't understand why Rachel would be so attracted to him (other than the fact that he's famous). I'm going to stop there and save my detailed review for a later time so I don't give away too much of the plot. This was a quick, easy read. I'd recommend it as a guilty pleasure type book, so long as you can handle sex and crass language.


It's Me said...

I love "Angela's Ashes". It is probably my all time favorite book. I know I've told you to read it before!!! As a side not, I think I read that Frank McCourt just died sometime during this last year. It's too bad, he was a great writer.

Karen said...

Actually it was all because of YOU that I decided to give it another shot! So thanks! I just barely found out Frank McCourt recently died and was bummed. :(

Holly said...

I have Angel's Ashes on my list and I think it's going to be one of my next reads now!