REVIEW: Where'd You Go Bernadette

Set in a rainy city, this is only the second novel by Maria Semple, who herself escaped California to live in Seattle. She is the former writer of Mad About You tv show, which I used to love oh so much. After Bee announces that her promised reward for getting good grades will be a family trip to Antarctica, Bernadette's agoraphobia intensifies. She already hates people, and being around strangers, not to mention other moms from Bee's school, she has to face being stuck on a boat with people, without an escape. She starts to act odd, even more then she usually does, and the drama between her and some other moms at the school gets a little out of hand when she accidentally destroys property. She hates this city, she hates the people that live here that hate the city, she hates being involved in school activities, even though she is a say at home mom, she claims to not have free time. She doesn't want to talk to anyone, she doesn't even make her own restaurant reservations, or buys groceries, she has service from India for that. Bernadette has issues, big ones, and most of them started when she was an architect a long time ago.

This book is written in epistolary form, ranging from letters to text messages. This is the way Bee, Bernadettes daughter tries to find out what happened to her mom, why she disappeared and where she is. It's supposed to be told from Bee's point of view, but since it is written in letters we get to hear everyones side. And that's not a bad thing. With Bee explaining in between the documents, this makes it easier to follow so many characters and ties everything together. Semple did a great job giving a voice to so many different characters and personalities. It was written well and some of the characters were likable it was even a little funny, but it lacked a big dramatic climax. After Bernadette disappears we only get to see Bee's side of the story and that's when it looses that spark. It was nice to see the characters from different perspectives,  I enjoyed reading about the drama and the gossip but when that changed I felt like it got weaker and didn't move along as quickly anymore.

 

I personally didn't like this book too much, I thought I would, at first I did, I liked the drama, kind of reminded me of Desperate Housewives, but then quickly lost it's spark. The climax, if there even was one, was not that interesting.  Since this book is about a middle aged woman who is going through some kind of midlife crisis I couldn't really relate to it, I'm not middle ages nor do I have any crisis. I'm am stuck in the in-between stage, too old for YA and too young for woman's fiction.

I would recommend this book to an older crowd, preferably in their 40's.

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

This story follows many, MANY characters, but mainly Frankie, Iris and Emma. I had to read the first two chapters at least three times, I just couldn't figure out the characters, we are introduced to everyone at once, at least that what it seemed like. The point of view kept changing so quickly and unannounced that I didn't know who was speaking when. And it was especially difficult because I was listening to the audio book, and didn't get to see the little brake between paragraphs to know when one ends and another one begins, which is when the speaker changes. It was confusing. Iris is the Postmistress (postmaster) in Cape Cod, and obsessed with order, even gets a certificate of virginity from her gyno (she is about 40 years old)... What? Yea it happened. She is supposed to be the stable one in the story, the one keeping peace and making people feel safe and comforted by the mail they get from loved ones.

Emma, the talk of the town, is newly married to the town doctor, who decides to go to Europe and help in the war. Emma's life is torn apart when she is left all alone, pregnant and only letters as communication with Will.

Frankie is a radio broadcaster who is currently in London, during the Blitz, she is the one who is right there where the action is, she doesn't just want to be a bystander, she wants to report the real news, to show the people back home what this war is really like. And maybe they will do something to help.

Even though these women are totally different from one another, the war shatters their lives and they all have to face their challenges.

 

I really didn't care much for this book, it was a bit boring, and the characters didn't feel real, they weren't developed all the way. I went into this book with hight expectations, I didn't really read any reviews before I bought it, I just saw it at the store, thought it sounded good and got it. I had the idea that this was gonna be more girly, with letters not being delivered and how that messes with peoples lives. How not getting certain news would affect people, and spiral out of control causing mayhem within the town. Nope, that is not what happens. The secret is pretty obvious, and really doesn't make a great difference in the end.

 

I don't know if I should recommend this book. If you are interested in WWII stories you should read Between Shades of Grey, I just finished it and loved loved it. I will post a review really soon.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler is said to be a YA national best seller, and even has it's own website, published in 2011 it sure has caught the attention of many young girls.

A high school junior, quirky and romantic Min "Minerva" has fallen in love with Ed, a senior and the star of the basketball team. You can say they are from totally different planets, she is an old movie fanatic, and wants to be a film director one day and Ed, well Ed is just a jock, who is used to having girls all over him. But one day fate comes knocking and Ed and Mins' worlds come together when Ed and his friends show up to Al's bitter 16 birthday party. Al is Mins' friend. They hit it off and the relationship blossoms for a whole month, and than we have this letter. After their really short relationship ends, Min decides to give everything back to Ed that reminds her of their time together, and she writes him a very long brake up letter.

I really wanted to like this book, and I wanted to like Min but I just couldn't, she's definitely "different". I used to be a teenage girl and I can relate to how she feels, and how giddy in love she thinks she is, the smiles, kisses, makeout sessions, collecting things that remind you of the other person, phone calls, all the silly little things that accompany lust. (Not love). But with her I couldn't really see eye to eye. She is an old movie nut, and she references old movies as if she lived them. It bugged me, first of all the movies aren't even real, they are the imagination of Handler, so no one can relate to her on that topic because no one has ever seen them. Maybe it's not her, maybe it's because I am now older and don't think with a 16 year old brain. So everything that I think is silly she takes seriously. But the thing that bugged me the most was the writing. The train of thought writing and the run on sentences. Her page long rambles about her pain and suffering caused by this boy. I just couldn't stand it. It was hard to figure out when she was telling a story or actually writing the letter. And I had to go back and try to figure it out. But I guess it was supposed to be written like an angry, bitter brake up letter, not a book.  The story itself contains topics about teenage love, sex, parties and all kinds of teen issues, but the thing that bugged me the most is that it seemed like the parents didn't exist. They are mentioned here and there but we never get a full background of the families of the characters. We know that Ed's mother is sick, but is she sick with a cold or dying of cancer, we don't know. And Min's mom is angry at there father. Why? We don't know. Ed's sister seems to be running the house and is sort of like a parent to Ed, but is his dad not around? We don't get to know these characters of a deeper level, we only know what hormonal brain of a teenage girl will share with us. I honestly don't know if I would recommend this to anyone above the age 18, it's strictly meant to be for teenagers. 

The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

I really don't know what to make of this book, it wasn't bad by any means, it was super easy to read, and fast paced, usually what I like, but this was a little too good to be true. I know Jim Stovall is a motivational speaker and this book is supposed to teach us how life itself is a gift from God. But it's just a little too cheesy. And too predictable, we know whats going to happen from the first page. Plus the quote on the cover kind of gives it away, well I guess it's not a mystery book so who cares.
 
Uncle Red dies, the whole family gathers at the lawyers office to collect their inheritance, he leaves money for all his family members, except his great nephew Jason. Even from beyond the grave he wants to teach this little punk a lesson on life, because all he's ever done is spend money and not appreciate where it comes from (like the rest of his family, so I don't understand why he only focuses on this kid). So he makes him do certain things each month for a year and then he can receive his Ultimate Gift, which Jason believes, or hopes is a big sum of money. Each month he is supposed to learn something about life, each of those lessons are called gifts. So Jason not realizing what exactly his uncle had in mind, but still thinking of the money, agrees to this little game. He has to meet up with the lawyer and watch a video that his great uncle recorded, then do as he instructs and than report back to the lawyer. Each month. But as you can guess by the end he is a changed person who no longer cares for the material things, but cares about people and life. I don't believe it, you can't change a person that much in one year. This book is too imaginary. It's a story that you would hear from a visiting speaker at your High School. They are good lessons to learn, but I just don't believe in reading fiction to fix your life. If you're trying to be motivational I think you should give examples from real people. 
 
I guess people have liked it and will like it, but it just wasn't for me.  It's short enough though that I don't feel like I wasted my time, and I guess I would recommend it to some since it is a very fast paced book. And I hear there's a movie?

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

I really wanted to read this book, mostly because I wanted to see the movie, and I have to read the book first. Well what a disappointment that was. Usually I like Sparks' books, but this one was just too fake. Come on, a soldier finds a picture that saves his life and then he decides to find the girl in it. And she falls in love with him. I don't think so. Sure things happen and you can say "it's fiction, it's not supposed to be real". But at a little more reality would be good. I would categorize it as "fiction/fantasy/inyourdreams". It was cheesy and I couldn't wait to finish it so I could watch the movie. Well the movie was just as bad. It was just bad. No other thing to say about it. I did however like Clayton, even though he was the bad guy, he seemed to be more interesting to me, he wasn't as polished as everyone else in the book.
Thibault of course is an ex-Marine, good looking, great with kids, loves dogs, handy with tools everything that a real man is not. Im not saying that there aren't any great guys out there, but he was a little too far fetched. Elizabeth was also too polished, the great mom, cares only about her kid, takes care of her grandmother, attractive, even is nice to her douche ex. Just too perfect. Yes it has a very surprising ending, I was almost done and than BAM, it just slapped me in the face. But it still sucked. I think it has to do with the fact that I'm not in dreamland anymore. I used to be in a crappy relationship, so I would read these romance books to kind of escape reality, and imagine that I had a good and happy relationship. Well that didn't work. Only way out was to end it. And that's what I did. So I guess now when I read this cheesy romance stuff it does nothing to me. I don't have to imagine that it's good, because it is.
I don't know if I'd recommend this book to anyone, maybe hardcore romantics only.

Strangers by Dean Koontz

"This book is about a group of people who are brought together by their different and equally strange maladies. These people gather to meet in the middle of the Nevada 'high-desert' to try and figure out what was done to them, who could have done it, while at same time being watched by the people who have done this." As excited as I was when I started this book, due to an awesome recommendation (thanks babe), my excitement quickly diminished. The story was a good and unique idea for the time when this book was written, but it lacked interest and suspense. The surprise ending was predictable, the cover of the book is a good place to start, and the author also gives clues within the first few chapters. The moon...the moon...the moon.... I could guess it's something about aliens, because why else would all the characters be interested in the moon, surely they don't care if it's made out of cheese or not. There is too much time devoted to character development and the back story, it seems as if it's leading up to something amazing, but in reality it's boring and a big disappointment, kind of mushy too.  Ok I won't be too mean, I did like the beginning, you get to meet all the characters, and the different unexplainable things that happend to them. Your mind wonders, where is this gonna go, who do we meet next, what will they remember. But as the pieces of the puzzle are being revealed you realize that they were never really hidden. That's when I say to myself, what the hell? I already knew that, why am I still reading this?  The book would have been better if Koontz devoted a little more time to the ending and a little less time on meaningless events that we could all do without. Every time I put the book down I didn't really want to pick it back up, I could have easily gave up on it, but I stuck to it. I wasn't the most horrible book I have read. But it sure is on the bottom of my list.

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson

Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson

This book is a love story, now don't get me wrong, I read a lot of love stories, and usually enjoy them, but this one just didn't do it for me. At first I was intrigued about the idea of a diary, and what type of secrets might be revealed, but as it went on I almost put the book down. The diary is for Nicholas, written by his mother Suzanne,which she started before he was even born. In it she describes how she met his father, Matt, how they fell in love, and how he has changed her life.

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Ugly To Start With by John Michael Cummings

I was asked by the author to review this book, but what can I say, I really didn't feel connected to this book, it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't my type of read. I just couldn't get a feeling of the boy. Each chapter is a different story, so they don't really follow each other, and I couldn't tell how much time has passed between them. The boy is supposed to be in this teens, but sometimes I felt like he was a child. So it would help a lot of the chapters had dates.
 
Jasons life deals with violence, neglect, social and racial issues, as well as some abusive language so don't let your kids read this. The title pretty much sums it up, Jason consideres his family ugly. Not in the bad looking kind of way, but their manners, living style, and overall characters seem to be ugly and offensive. Well I don't know if Jason should be the one talking, he tried to kill his cat because after a few cat fights it looked ugly. That was a sad moment, I almost put the book down right there. 
 
The writing itself was clear enough and had a good flow, I just didn't connect with the story, maybe it was a bit exaggerated. It deals with so many topics at once, it's hard to image a young boy going through all that. As the stories continue, the reader sees more and more issues that Jason goes through in order to become a better person, he does have a good soul, and he tries to understand the world around him.