Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez review

I had no idea what this book was going to be about when I bought it. I just kept seeing it everywhere I went, so I determined that it must be good if all the stores are selling it. I didn't even know it was about slavery, I thought it was about some servant girl. But beside the point, I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have, maybe it was really good, but I just couldn't get into it. I like reading about war, slavery and other historical topics, because I know I will get a tearjerker and a resonant story. But this book didn't have that spark, the characters were poorly developed, if not at all, and the story just lacked in many places. I did not enjoy it.

For any of you that are as unaware of what this book is about, it's about slavery, but not just any kind of slavery, it's about a group of black women, slaves, who are more than just slaves to their masters, they are basically sex slaves, black mistresses. The men take these slaves to go with them to a resort in Ohio every year, without their wives, imagine what goes on there, Yah. That was just so disturbing to read, every few pages someone was essentially raped by their master. It was a little over the top for me. I couldn't focus on the story, it was confusing and I lost interest very quickly. The main character Lizzie, was not as interesting as the other characters in the book. To be honest, at first I thought Mawu was the main character, until Lizzie stepped in with her boring story. Mawu wanted to run away, make a difference, live. Lizzie was in love with her master. She lacked character, and spirit, she was confusing and unpredictable, I didn't know what was going on in her mind, and my the end of the book I was even more confused.

There was no climax, no resolution, just a slave who doesn't know what love it. I listened to most of this book on audio, and I got to say, there were many many moments where I just tuned out. It didn't hold my attention at all. I don't think I recommend this book either. Seems like all but one of the books I chose for the book-a-thon were bad. Oh well. Better luck next time.

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.

The Christmas Wedding review

A 60+ year old woman gets proposed to three times in one night, in a matter of 10 minutes. Yea right, like that ever happens. I bought this book only because it was by James Patterson, one of the most popular mystery writers out there. I did not like this book at all. I thought that since it was by James Patterson it was gonna have a real big mystery and some twists at the end, but no it didn't. it made you think there was gonna be a surprise ending, I even predicted the most obvious ending and you know what? It was worse. Ok, so I'm gonna try and be fair and explain to you what the book is actually about. Gabby, a mother of four, and let me just get it out there her four are adults, with their own kids, so that puts Gabby at about 60-70 years old. She is a widow, her husband died about three years before and she has just been lonely. So the book starts off with her sending a video message to her kids, really? Do old people do that? Ok so in the video she tells her kids that she is getting married, and the groom is a surprise. Hmmm, why would a grandma keep surprises like that, what for, why the big mystery. That's when I thought that there was going to be some big big mystery revealed at the end. Also the wedding is taking place on Christmas day. So everyone drop your plans, mommy's getting married, on the biggest holiday and you all have to be there. How selfish. Than she sends them a few more videos, in one explaining how she got proposed to three times, on the same night. That is just unbelievable. After Gabby runs in the snow barefoot to follow her teenage grandson, so he doesn't get high, on her wedding day, in her white dress, and then has to wear sneakers, I gave up. I still listened to the audio book, but I completely lost interest. I just wanted it to end, and find out who she marries. And it wasn't that impressive.

I don't know if I would recommend this book to anyone. Maybe people like Gabby, older women or just people who are really really bored and have nothing to do but read boring books. Come on James Patterson, I thought you were better. Now I'm a little hesitant to pick up any of his other books. I've been eying The Honeymoon but now I have my doubts.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

I listened to most of this book in the car on my way to and from work, as well as just around the house,or when running. I really enjoyed it. I like that it had different people reading the different characters. It was easier to distinguish, and it was fun. The book is written from three different perspectives. Minnie, Abeline, and Skeeter (Eugenia), and they tell the story beautifully. Minnie and Abeline are Black maids in Jackson, Mississippi. And with the civil right movement they are gonna be in a heap of trouble if anyone discovers they are telling stories about their employers. Their selfish, rude and lazy employers. I really like Skeeter and was rooting for Minnie, Abline is just so sweet and the little girl she takes care of just made me want to cry. How could a stay at home mom, be so busy with clubs and other nonsense that she needs a nanny and a maid to take care of her house? They don't seem very rich either, can't they just do their housework themselves. Ugh they made me so angry. Skeeter is awesome, she has an open mind and doesn't care to get married and drop out of college. This book made me sad, angry and laugh out loud. It's a great story about friendship, trust, life and different people coming together to create change.

 

I watched the movie right after I finished the book, and boy did I hate it. There just isn't anything good about it, I understand that they had to fit a whole book into a 2+ hour movie, but they really botched it up. I watched it with my boyfriend, and he never read the book, I had to explain most of what was happening. I don't think it's easy to follow if you didn't read the book first, they left a lot out and changed a lot of what they didn't leave out. I was waiting to watch this movie since it came out, and I got to say I wish I never had. The book is a 100% better. I do not recommend watching the movie. But please read the book.

The Dark by James Herbert

James Herbert is knows as the equivalent of Stephen King in the UK, with many other horror books under his belt he is known well as the master of dark fiction. Many might be more familiar with his other book "The Fog"which was later made into a movie.  The story follows Chris Bishop who is a paranormal investigator familiar with the events that happened on Willow Road a few years back. He is hesitant about getting into this investigation because he doesn't want to remember what had happened and what he saw that day. The true evil that is responsible for those crimes is back and the town of Beechwood is in peril. People are committing unthinkable acts of violence in the "dark". It is up to Bishop to try and figure out what it is and how to stop it, before it spreads too far.

I was not recommended this book, in fact I was told not to read it because of how gruesome it is , and what do you think I did. I read it. Well I tried to finish it but I gave up a little before the end.  I had very high hopes for this book. I thought it was going to be scary, and I mean, keep me up at night kind of scary. But no it was not. It was boring and I dreaded the idea of picking it up. I tried to finish it, because I just hate not finishing books, but this was bad. At times it was very grotesque and disturbing and I had to try and not picture what I was reading. It was hard for me to follow the story, half the time I didn't know what character was speaking or where they were. I didn't know what was going on half the time and it just didn't have that thing that should have pulled me in. The first few chapters were good, they were engaging and we were introduced to many interesting characters, who then went on to commit crimes, and that was that, we never heard from them again. They were just put in the story to show the reader what The Dark can do. And this kept coming up in the book, we are introduced to someone, only to find out they really don't have anything to do with the main plot, other than be an example. I don't think the book is badly written, it just wasn't my style and I couldn't follow it. It shows the reader that The Dark can exist in anyone, people all over the world are committing crimes every day that no one  thought they were capable of. This story is a good example of evil and how it can manifest itself in someone, and how peoples actions can turn evil in a matter of seconds.

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

 Series of Unfortunate Events was written by Daniel Handler, also known by his pen name Lemony Snicket. Before I started reading this book I thought it was going to be a fun read, something I could recommend to my child when she is old enough. And I had mixed thoughts about the ending because the description of the book tell you that there is no happy ending. But like I predicted, I liked it.
 
The book starts off with three Baudelaire kids playing on the beach, Violet, Klaus and Sunny when a man (Mr. Poe) comes up to them and tells them that their parents have burned to death in a fire that happened in their home. So now orphaned the children are placed in the care of Mr. Poe and they don't like it much over there but finally a relative becomes available, Count Olaf. Who lived in a very ugly and dirty house, the children have one bed to share and a cardboard box instead of a closet. It is really sad what these children go thought.

The writing style of this author is very "unique". I don't really know how to describe it. It was very easy to read and understand, he makes the story flow quickly, while still trying to teach kids some vocabulary. He writes it like a storyteller. He sometimes talks directly to the reader, explaining what is going on in the story at that moment. Which I don't mind. This is a kids book after all. The book is for children, so the author will use a word and then he actually gives a definition of it, I guess it's a sneaky way to teach children more vocabulary. It's just a different style of telling a story and you either like it or not. For example:
 
The smell of cooking food is often a calming one, and the kitchen grew cozy as the sauce simmered, a culinary term which means “cooked over low heat.”
 
I couldn't personally relate to this story, but being a new mom I just felt so sad for those kids, especially Sunny. I couldn't imagine leaving my baby alone in this world. If I was them, I would try to kill this evil man. But that's a little drastic. Maybe I would run away, I think living on the streets would be much better than his home.
 
I liked this book, it was quick and funny, as well as sad. But than again it is just a book, with some twisted humor. I would recommend this book mostly to kids, but adults too. Just keep in mind it's a children's book, it's not meant to be an award winning novel. 
 

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 Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Mr. Hyde is described as deformed and disliked. He tramples over a girl on the street. Mr. Utterson is a lawyer, and has a will from his friend Dr. Jekyll saying that all his possession and stuff must go to Mr. Hyde. But Mr. Hyde is evil. What will Mr. Utterson do, he is trying to figure out why his friend would choose this monster. I will not tell you more, except that it follows Mr. Utterson as he is trying to solve the mystery between these two men.
It touches on the struggle of one man between himself and well himself. Although it is told from Mr. Utterson's point of view. This book is very short, about a 120 pages, and for a classic it is very easy to read. After just finishing Dracula, I got to say I liked this book a lot more, I really didn't care for the plot, because you can pretty much guess what happens. But the way it was written, it's clear and to the point, no messing around and wasting paper.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The story changes perspective in the first 3rd of the book so many times it becomes a bit confusing, and a bit redundant, but in hindsight is really important to the story. The prose writing that McEwan obviously has a great dexterity in is really special. The events are so elaborate, a few times I couldn't wrap my head around them. And the sexual connotations, that Briony's crazy imagination doesn't interpret correctly, play a big part in the story, making me hate her even more. The ending came as a shock, I really didn't see it coming, I had so many different endings in mind, but this totally blew my mind.

The story is centered around three main characters, each one giving us their perspective throughout the book.

Robbie is the son of a gardener and a cleaning lady for the Tallis family, he is a bright young man, always aspiring to be more. Mr. Tallis paid for his education at Cambridge, where he studied along with Cecilia. (And this alone made me jump to conclusions)He is a good-natured guy, helping everyone around him, to the point when his good acts come to be seen as  a crime, according to a childs' imaginative mind. Cecilia, a liberal girl, is the oldest daughter of the Tallises. Her education has separerad her from her family, but for some reason she can't seem to leave home, even while dreaming of moving out.  Something is keeping her there, and just as she realizes what is it, her life is turned upside down. Briony can't seem to understand her, she is messy, unorganized and a smoker. Briony the protagonist, is the most abnormal and clueless character. She loves her family so much that she will go to GREAT lengths to protect them. She consideres herself a writer, having written short stories since she was 7, and constantly having her nose in a thesaurus. Like I said, she has a very imaginative mind, as well as a young one. Being 13, she is right between being a child and an adult,a folly young girl, which lead her to misinterpret events, having no common sense she ruines peoples lives.

I really hated Briony, even if she doesn't know any better. And I wouldn't say this was atonement on Briony's side, more like guilt and a cowardly attempt at an apology. But in her crazy mind she did make it all better, in my mind she just wanted to write another good story. After reading this book I am looking forward to reading other books by McEwan, his elaborate story telling, character development and subtle shifts in events are something special. Overall the book was really great, I loved it, and the movie doesn't stray far from the book. Only little details are changed, and they don't really play a big part in the storyline. I think the actors that play the characters were well chosen. Especially Briony, that girl did a great job playing her character. I would recommend this book frist, and then the movie. It's one of few that actually follow the book really well. 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Hmm, this book was  not very good, and quite predictable. But I just had to have it once I saw the previews for the movie, which seemed great. And then finding out that there is a book, I ran to the book store to find a copy. Well lets say I wasn't happy when I finished reading it. Waste of $14, I should have just waited for the movie. Ok maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but it just wasn't that spooky. So I'm hoping the movie captures the scenes and story better.
For a spooky gothic novel it should have been a lot longer, more suspense, and action. This one is around 170 pages, and it doesn't seem like the story evolves much. Everything seems to happend quickly and there isn't that much spookiness as I would prefer. I flew though this book in a few hours and didn't fell scared at all. There was some rambling from the main character, which all classics have, but it lacked suspense and mystery. The story and characters were cliché if anything. The first chapter was especially slow, the main character just sets the scene and gives a lot of background info that I didn't care for, and then he continues his rambling with not much happening. 
This isn't the type of story that is gonna scare you senseless, and have you up at night, it's a mellowed down ghost story. Something people talk about at bon-fires. But if you like classics then you might enjoy this one. Just remember it's not that scary.
The characters didn't sit well with me either, everyone in town knew that the house was haunted, why not tell the guy who was staying in it. What was the purpose of keeping it a secret, shouldn't he have been warned about what might happen, or why? 
 
Once I see the movie I will write a review on that too. 
 

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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Timeline by Michael Crichton

This was the first novel by Michael Crichton that I read, it was recommended to me by a co-worker, and I gotta say, I loved it. Who doesn't like time travel, especially when it's well written. Crichton gives enough scientific details that you might think parts are non-fiction. He bases his writing on actual scientific studies, and lots of research, so you do end up learning something too. And personally I like the way he explains quantum theory and why this would work. But maybe it's just because I like science. Others might get confused with all the science talk. The story comes alive with all the details, and the characters take turns in telling their part of the journey. It's a great way to get to know everyone on a deeper level. 

The story is set in 1400's France, after a team of archaeologists is sent back to find their professor who accidentally got left there. Now they must not only find the professor but also stay alive, as France is in the middle of a 100 Year War. I found the ending a little bit predictable, not much, but if you really pay attention to the characters personalities you might guess what happens at the end. I still loved the book, will have to check out some of his other work.  I watched the movie after I read this book, but it was so awful I'm not even gonna go reviewing that. 

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. 

For One More Day by Mitch Albom

I liked the book, but I can't say that I loved it. But that's just my opinion, it was well written, and interesting, just not my taste. The book is about Charley "Chick" Benetto who one day decides to kill himself. In the process he meets with his dead mother. For that one day he gets to tell her what he never did when she was alive, and she gets to fill in the gaps of his life. While we wait to see if he's actually dead or not. The book focuses mostly on the relationship between mother and son, advice and guidance that parents give, but kids don't realize. Shifting between his childhood and the present time, Mitch Albom did a great job at not confusing the reader when the story takes place. We get a smooth transition between each time shift. The lesson we get from this book is that there are always two sides of the story, and sometimes we should be quick to judge. Chick learns that the hard way.It's a quick read, and I think people will enjoy this book, especially if you lost someone and never got to tell them how you felt. I think that is the hardest thing a person can go through, knowing that you will never get that chance. 

What Matters Most by Luanne Rice

"What would you choose if you could make one thing right? For Bernadette and Tom, it is a return to their roots in Ireland and a love that broke every rule and could have withstood any consequence—but the one that broke their hearts. 

For James and Kathleen, whose indelible bond was forged in a Dublin orphanage before one was adopted and carried across the sea to America, it is a reunion they’ve dreamed of all their young lives, even if it defies reason. From the Emerald Isle to the Connecticut shore, four lives  are about to come together in a confrontation that will challenge each of them to leave behind the past and all they once thought was important, and to embrace at last what matters most." This book was quite good, I'm not a big fan of Luanne's writing style but the story was good. There is a lot happening, especially toward the end. And there are about 4 climaxes to the story, so you're never bored. Her writing is simple but repetitive, and she keeps mentioning people eyes. We get it, they're blue. And I did at times want to put the book down, or skip to the end and just find out what happens. But I think if you stick with it you might like it. It's not the best book, the characters are ok, but nothing too special, and Bernadette was getting on my nerves. Maybe if you are a big believer in God or signs, you might enjoy it more. I just felt annoyed at times. The story was nice, but the writing not so much. So I'm not sure if I would recommend this book to many people. Especially if you like happy endings. This one doesn't really have one. Sure on some scale everyone in the book deals with their fait. But it's not what you would expect. 

The Pact by Jodi Picoult

I read this book a few years ago, but I felt like I should do a review now. I liked this book a lot, the story is really absorbing, you get lost in the book trying to figure out what really happened to Emily, if it was suicide, murder, or an accident. The story switches between Chris at court in the present time, trying to explain what happened, and Emily before she died. One piece at a time you get to put the puzzle together and find out the truth. This is the first Jodi Picoult book I read, so I didn't know what to expect from her, and I guess the book could have been a little better. More character development would be great, especially about Emily and the parents. It seemed like the book was more centered around Chris telling his side of the story and we just get pieces of Emily. Which seem to make her look self-centered, almost selfish. we never really get to know her enough to find out what she was like. I think their relationship was supposed to be very mature, but it looks like Chris is more mature than Emily, in some ways.  Overall the book is good, it still manages to get you involved and interested despite it lacking in some areas. I would still recommend it.

Much Ado About Loving by Jack Murnighan and Maura Kelly

I won this book on Goodreads.com giveaway and I enjoyed reading it. Although I'm skipping the chapters about books I haven't read yet, I don't want them ruining the books for me before I read them. But the ones that I did read have some funny advice and look a little deeper at the characters of the books.

This book goes further into the main character of a book to try and teach the reader about love. And how either under different circumstances or in reality most love stories wouldn't work out. And that we shouldn't base our love lives according to books. There's no perfect prince charming that's going to ride in on a white horse. I think it's a great way for readers to get a different perspective on their favorite books.  It's a great book for people still looking for love, on the other hand if you are in a relationship like I am, this book might just have you second guessing you loved one. And sometimes that's just not a good thing.