By J. Courtney Sullivan
I’m sorry to say that this book was a giant waste of time.
Among the things I didn’t like:
1. Characters are unbelievably shallow, unlikable, and boring.
2. The book skips around in time making it confusing to follow.
3. The author is a bit too free with her stereotypes.
4. The writing, at times, is extremely awkward and fake. For example, characters refer to each other as “sweetie” all the time. ALL THE TIME. Drove me nuts.
5. The author tried to make this a women’s issue book that doubles as a beach read. She wasn’t successful in either attempt.
6. The ending was disappointing and contrived.
Not sure why I’m even giving this book two stars, except maybe because I actually finished it so I guess it kept my attention at times?
Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother
By Amy Chua
I admire Amy Chua.
There, I said it. Most people probably think she’s a horrible child abuser for the things she’s made her children endure, but to me? She’s basically the most unselfish person I’ve ever come across. That’s why it amazes me that people cut her down for being so dedicated to her children.
Forgoing vacations so she can hire expensive violin / piano teachers? Selfless. Spending hours of her time making sure her kids practice? Selfless. Driving hours and hours on a weekend so her kids can take lessons from the best instructors? Selfless. Allowing her children to hate her so that they can (hopefully) be better people? Selfless.
I, who can barely find the energy to pick up my 8-year-old’s spelling list at the end of a long day at work, can take a lesson or two on what a dedicated parent should be.
But that’s not to say that Amy Chua isn’t slightly off her rocker. I mean, I totally get wanting to have your children put some thought into your birthday, but “not accepting” a child’s homemade birthday card because it’s sloppy? That seems harsh. And organizing two-hour practice sessions while on vacation? That seems a bit extreme too.
A few other things I didn’t like about the book as a whole:
- I would have liked to know more about Amy Chua’s approach to academics. Meaning, how did she enforce her children did their homework every day? How did she handle TV time? Was she controlling about what her kids ate and watched too? These are things I struggle with – it would be nice to know her thoughts.
- Some chapters were utterly boring. I mean, great job on getting your kids to practice for hours Amy, but I seriously had to skim a few pages because I couldn’t read about yet another practice.
The Bottom Line:
Not sure I 100% agree with Amy Chua’s method of child-rearing, but since it appears that she’s far more successful in her life than I am? Well I can’t really judge her parenting theories.
I will say that Amy has taught me that in order for my child to be successful, I must play an integral part. And since finishing this book two days ago? I’ve been making more of an effort to put my computer down and pick up my kid’s homework instead. I only hope that I somehow find the tenacity to stick it out.
By Gillian Flynn
I finished this book yesterday and I’m still trying to form an opinion about it.
Here’s what I liked for sure: This book it was amazingly, phenomenally well written. The plot? Extraordinary. The characters? Well-developed and interesting (to say the least). The subject matter? Fascinating. There is no doubt that Gillian Flynn is one talented writer.
Here’s what I’m not sure I liked (without giving too much away): I understand fiction is just that, fiction. But this book is so unbelievable in parts that it borders on ludicrous.
Here’s what I know for sure: It doesn’t matter what I like or don’t like about this book. You should read it anyway and then come back and let me know your thoughts – especially about the ending.
I also know this for sure: This book is one of a kind. People will be talking about it for a long time to come and for good reason.
So it’s been a while. A long, long while since I’ve updated this blog.
It’s not because I haven’t been reading, because I have. It’s not because I don’t want to write reviews, because I do. But it’s because I want my reviews to be PERFECT before I post them, and I don’t have time to make them perfect these days.
Today and moving forward, my reviews will not be perfect. They might contain misspellings and they might not have the best sentence structure. But I’d still like to share my thoughts…I hope that’s okay.
By Jane Porter
The other day I was a the library desperate for something good to read. Lately, you see, my attention span has been super short. Which means that I start reading something and then put it down fairly quickly if it doesn’t hold my attention.
I really didn’t have high hopes when I saw this book…mostly because it seemed like a typical beach read. But honestly, this was so much more. (I won’t bother to summarize the book because Amazon .com can do it much better than I can. Plus that whole lack of time thing…)
I loved this book. I didn’t think I would…especially since the main character (Taylor) was super shallow and annoying in the first couple of chapters. . But then suddenly Taylor’s perfect life was totally blown apart and I could completely relate and sympathize with just about everything she goes through: not thinking she’s good enough, not doing enough for her family, feeling guilty about everything, not being pretty enough…
I think this book should be required reading for every girl…not because we should or should not work or stay at home with kids, and not because I’m a feminist or an anti-feminist, but because we should never get to a point where our lives are in someone else’s hands. We should never stop taking responsibility. And we should always, always have a fallback plan.
I loved this book so much that I bought several copies to give as gifts. I highly recommend it and will be searching out the author’s other books.
by Barbara Delinsky
At one point or another everyone searches for an escape from their busy life. An escape from work, family, technology, friends, obligations. An escape from the harsh reality of the real world. And the promise of escape from my whining child – even a short-term one – is what drew me to this book in the first place.
This is the story of 32-year-old Emily – wife of James, employee of Lane Lavash, and a woman who dreams of becoming a mother. Emily thinks she’s living the dream in New York City until one day she realizes that there’s nothing perfect about the “perfect life” she’s been living.
At this realization Vicki suddenly has an overwhelming need to get away from it all. So she does. She packs a bag, bundles everything into her husband’s flashy sports car, and takes off to reconnect with old friend Vicki Bell in a small New Hampshire town haunted by memories of an old life and an old love.
Emily keeps in minimal contact with her mother and her husband James but otherwise has no desire to maintain even a shred of her previous life. She has no plan – aside from having no plan – and decides to play everything by ear. And when Emily’s old love Jude comes onto the scene Emily is tested: as a wife, as a friend, and as a human being.
I wanted to love this book – I really did. The compelling summary on the book jacket made it seem like something I would love! But while this book started out with great promise it sort of stopped moving forward a few chapters in. Throw in some very strange metaphors – including the parallel of a man and a coyote and I couldn’t force myself to read one more word about 50 pages in!
Bottom Line: This is the first of Barbara Delinsky’s books that I’ve had a chance to read an unfortunately I am not exactly running to pick up the rest of her works. It makes me sad to write this but Escape is boring, plain and simple. I don’t recommend it at all.
by Emily Giffin
Because someone once told me that Emily Giffin’s books are formulaic, fluffy, and devoid of any real plot, I’ve avoided them. But I was looking for a light pick-me-up last week, found Baby Proof at the library, and after being captivated from the very first page, I finished this book in 2 days flat.
I don’t recall who told me to avoid Emily Giffin’s books, but whoever you are, you have bad taste in books!
Anyway, this is the story of 35-year-old Claudia – a successful editor, a loyal sister, and a loving wife. Claudia’s life seems perfect until her husband Ben suddenly decides he wants to have a child, despite their previous decision to remain childless by choice. After her unexpected divorce, Claudia buries herself in her work, and turns to her family and friends for support as she tries to pick up the pieces.
Although she never stops loving Ben, she eventually moves forward and begins dating her dashing colleague Richard. And it is Richard, along with Claudia’s sisters, her best friend, and a smattering of other well-developed supporting characters, who allow Claudia to see what sacrifices she is willing to make to have the life that she really wants.
Thanks to Giffin’s engaging writing and thought-provoking characters, Baby Proof isn’t your typical chick-lit beach read. The author cleverly manages to include several strong supporting story lines, each with their own baby-related/marital issues, and these parallel stories allow the reader the benefit of seeing the challenges of parenthood and marriage from a number of opposing viewpoints.
As someone who always thought she was too selfish to have children, I can understand Claudia’s thought process perfectly. But as a mother who is now so lucky to have the unconditional love of a kid with a heart of gold, I can understand Ben’s need to have a child of his own. In short, Giffin’s remarkable insight allows the reader to relate to each character, and often on more than one level.
Bottom Line: Baby Proof is moving, honest, and thoughtful. An easy read, I finished this book quickly and have now moved on to read the rest of Emily Giffin’s books.
by Chevy Stevens
Once in a rare while I will randomly encounter a work of fiction that I know will affect my life forever. Room is one such book, Secret Daughter is another, and Still Missing by Chevy Stevens is now on that list as well.
This is the story of Annie O’Sullivan: a 32-year-old realtor who is abducted while hosting an open house. Annie is taken to an isolated cabin by her abductor – whom she refers to as “The Freak” - where she is held captive for over a year. The reader knows, from the very beginning, that Annie survives the kidnapping because each chapter has her recounting the past to her therapist.
Still Missing isn’t just about Annie’s abduction and subsequent captivity, however, but about her survival, and her re-entry into society. And as if that didn’t make this book spectacular enough, author Chevy Stevens throws in several unexpected twists that will no doubt surprise even the most seasoned suspense lover.
Stevens handles a number of delicate subjects so honestly and realistically that one has to wonder where she pulled her remarkable insight from. The truth is it’s not easy to read some of the graphic, often horrific details of the abuse Annie endures, but in the same way it’s difficult to avert your eyes from a car crash, you simply won’t be able to stop reading this book because it is that engrossing.
Bottom Line: Still Missing is spellbinding, fascinating, touching, and shocking. Find this book. Read it. And then wish – like me - that every book you read afterwards is as engaging as this one.