Sunday, May 22, 2011

Book Reviews 5/22/11

I've been putting off writing book reviews for so long and I think I know why: I stink at writing reviews. Which makes me kind of sad, because once upon a time I wanted to be a movie critic. I mean, what better job is there?! Get paid to watch and write about movies! Alas, that is not my gift. So rather than some elaborate literature reviews, here are my quick and dirty notes on the two books I've read most recently.

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

I loved this book. It was beautifully written and easy to get sucked into. I was worried about what would happen when I got to the prostitution, but it was quite modest, or whatever is the opposite of graphic. The heroine is very likable but while she romanticizes geisha culture, the author shares enough of the negative stuff to see it for what it is. And it was really fascinating to learn about geisha culture (and Japanese culture in the early 20th century). I think that's where the book is best (this is no romance novel!), sharing in beautiful detail about the culture and ceremony of geisha.

I was disappointed in the ending (as I often am, I like everything tied up in bows). The narrator geisha quickly wraps up her own story, but doesn't say what happened to the various other characters in the book. Other than that, I loved the book and recommend it. Two thumbs up.

Casting Off by Nicole R. Dickson

I also really liked this book. Unlike Geisha, it is not great literature. It was hard to go from such beautiful prose in Geisha to "just" chick lit, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The heroine is flawed but likable; the island where the book takes place is full of wonderful characters; the love story is genuine (but again, I thought the end came too abruptly). I'm passing this book on to my sister and I recommend it if you're looking for a nice, quick, romantic read. (It's also a nice PG-13, nothing too racy.)

Next on my bookshelf

I've been doing some book-gathering lately and suddenly I have quite a pile of To-Reads. Currently, my upstairs book is Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge. I haven't yet decided if I'm going to stick with it (I'm about 100 pages in). The other day at the library, I found the latest Maeve Binchy novel: Minding Frankie. I'm only 2 chapters in and totally hooked!

In nonfiction, I have two books I'm eager to read. Totally Desperate Mom, which I just won from the author on her blog. And an organizing book I got at a garage sale yesterday. It's from 1991, but The 15-Minute Organizer looks right up my alley.

More fiction waiting in the wings:
Jodi Picoult, My Sister's Keeper--I've been eager to read this for a while, found it for $1.50 at Goodwill.
Jan Karon, In the Company of Others--the latest Father Tim novel (a Christmas gift)
Wicked --this is from the garage sale as well

At the garage sale, paperbacks were 25 cents. I got a set of Chronicles of Narnia that I hope to read as a family when the kids are older. And I spotted Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn and couldn't resist. Is this a sequel to Tom Sawyer? If so I'll have to get that from the library first. For my husband, I got Gore Vidal's Lincoln and the classic Ivanhoe.

I'll be sure to "review" all these as I finish them.

What are you reading these days? Any recommendations?

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