Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Not So Churched

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review and was very excited for the opportunity, however, the feeling was short lived.  I don't know what it is about the last few books I've received but I have not enjoyed them as much as I wanted to.
The purpose of this book is basically to tell the story of a boy who grew up in a fundamentalist baptist environment where he was taught to be afraid of God and to be afraid of his pastor.  His parents were a little odd and told him things like "Jesus didn't have long hair and only deviants have long hair" and that he had to get baptized to save his soul.  I thought that it would be a book where the author would grow up and realize what his own love for God meant and find his own religion, etc.  I was so wrong.
This book was written in a very negative light towards religion in this man's childhood as well as into his adult years.  It was almost anti-religion.  I wanted this book to get another perspective on religion and what I got was ranting about the insane things he had to do as a FB and a timeline about how he grew up in a very different household and never asked questions, even as a teenager.  I understand that looking back, the author realized that he wasn't raised in a "normal" setting and he broke away from that kind of religion but he seemed ungrateful for the opportunities that he had, and to me, the stereotypes he used for fundamentalist baptists AND Nashvillians were a bit distracting.  He did not find religion.  He did not find God.  And the more he tried to say he did at the end the more I did not buy it for one minute.   I did not enjoy this book at all, which is rare for me.  I am pretty easy to please.   It was entirely too opinionated and it didn't offer any solution or insight to his world at all.
Rating: 2

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Suspense and Drama

This past week was a good reading week.  I read two books that have been on my TBR list for a long time and I am also in the middle of re-reading the Harry Potter series.  I had read the first three and then decided to go ahead and read the Deathly Hallows because I want to prepare myself for the movie in July.  After I finish it, I'm going to go back and pick up on Book 4.  Also, Clint is watching the movies with me, so I'm getting excited about it again.  So here's what I got this week:

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

From Amazon:
  Mickey Haller is a Lincoln Lawyer, a criminal defense attorney who operates out of the backseat of his Lincoln Town Car, traveling between the far-flung courthouses of Los Angeles to defend clients of every kind. Bikers, con artists, drunk drivers, drug dealers - they're all on Mickey Haller's client list. For him, the law is rarely about guilt or innocence, it's about negotiation and manipulation. Sometimes it's even about justice.

A Beverly Hills playboy arrested for attacking a woman he picked up in a bar chooses Haller to defend him, and Mickey has his first high-paying client in years. It is a defense attorney's dream, what they call a franchise case. And as the evidence stacks up, Haller comes to believe this may be the easiest case of his career. Then someone close to him is murdered and Haller discovers that his search for innocence has brought him face-to-face with evil as pure as a flame. To escape without being burned, he must deploy every tactic, feint, and instinct in his arsenal - this time to save his own life.
What I thought:

First of all, I didn't realize there was a movie about this (yes, I'm behind the times I guess) when I saw that it was continually on the best seller list on Amazon.com.  I got it for my Kindle and kept putting off reading it until now.  I was plesantly surprised at how quick and easy it was to read.  The writing was good and the story line was great.  I was glad that the imperfect justice system was brought to light.  I loved that Mickey turned out to be "human."  So many issues were ones that we face every day.  Parents that are work-a-holics.  Having to decipher right from wrong.  Having to defend wrong even though you know it's wrong.  Putting your job on the line for something that's right.  Having our lives threatened.  Everything was something I could connect with and I appreciated the story.  PLUS, Connelly didn't give away all of his secrets through the novel, so we were able to get sucked into the plot twists and turns that led us to the unexpected. 
Awesome read!

Rating: 4

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

From Goodreads:
What if you had only one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?
Samantha Kingston has it all: the world's most crush-worthy boyfriend, three amazing best friends, and first pick of everything at Thomas Jefferson High—from the best table in the cafeteria to the choicest parking spot. Friday, February 12, should be just another day in her charmed life.
Instead, it turns out to be her last.
Then she gets a second chance. Seven chances, in fact. Reliving her last day during one miraculous week, she will untangle the mystery surrounding her death—and discover the true value of everything she is in danger of losing.
What I thought:

This was a great novel through the eyes of a typical high schooler.  What I loved about this book was that it touched on subjects that most high schoolers go through that would make parents cringe.  The high schoolers here are getting drunk, doing drugs, being VERY sexually active, being bullies to those "less popular" and less cool, having affairs...everything that "only grown-ups" are supposed to experience.  I have to say, it scares me a little knowing that my daughter is going to have to deal with all of this peer pressure at some point in her life, and I'm sure by the time she's in high school, it could be worse.  I hate that learning is only second place to all the other things that go on in what's supposed to be a learning environment but I am not naive enough to think that these situations aren't happening everyday and everywhere.  This is real life.

Samantha goes through all of these issues and when she faces death, she realizes that it's time to stop and smell the roses and finds that she has missed so much in her life.  She is able to build a relationship with her sister, right a few of her wrongs, and change someone's life.  It was amazing watching her develop into a character I loved.  I loved that she learned what her mistakes were even if it took her a while to figure it all out.  Very well written and I couldn't put the book down. I read it in 4 hours. 

Rating: 5

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Kingkiller Series--one of the best series

So as I was lurking on the NBC forum, trying to get ideas about what to read, I came across a ton of posts regarding Patrick Rothfuss and his Kingkiller Series, starting with The Name of the Wind.  It wasn't a genre I would typically pick up and read...well...I would never pick up and read it...but since every single post I went to talked about how amazing the writing was, I couldn't help but to be curious.  I read the first book quickly because I couldn't put it down, even though it was 700+ pages.  I devoured it.  I wanted more...which brings me to the second book in the series.  I have to say I was not disappointed.   Rothfuss' writing was out of this world.  Everything about the characters, time, location, events...every single minute detail was thought out and developed with absolutely no holes in the story.  I have never read anything as poetic (smirk) and enthralling.  You fall in love with the main character, Kvothe-who is a young man who experienced more things in his life than any young man should...and you hurt when he hurts and you ask yourself "what was he thinking?!" when he does something stupid.  You wrap yourself around the character like he is a real person and that these things really happened. 
The one part that I have to say went on a little too long with no action was about the time he spent learning about the Lethani.  Pardon my french, but I just wanted him to get out there and kick some ass...but Rothfuss knew that's what was expected, so instead of throwing this young man to the wolves, he developed an honest character full of delightful yet scary flaws.  He makes Kvothe grow as a person, teaching him lessons (some of which he'll never learn) along the way.
I cannot wait until the third book comes out because I have to see what happens next.  I have to see what took Kvothe to the extremes he is at now, as an innkeeper and not much more.  Wise Man's Fear is almost 1000 pages long, and yet it wasn't long enough.  My interest is peaked and I hope Rothfuss doesn't wait too long to put out the third in the series.

Rating: 5

Basketball Junkie

I received this book through Goodreads First Reads and was excited to be able to read it.

That feeling, however, was short lived.

The underlying theme and purpose of the book had a ton of potential. Chris Herren goes through his professional basketball career as an absolute junkie, to the detriment of his family and his coaches. The book explains the timelines of events from when he started doping and drinking to when he finally decided to put his family first.

First of all, let me say, I am extremely proud of Chris for finally realizing his problem and doing something about it. I hope, for his sake and his familys' sake that he is still living life sober and telling others what he went through. That being said, the book is forgettable on a couple of levels.

Basically this was a timeline of events and occurances. There was no dialogue, no mention of what he was going through inside of his head during his lowest points--only that he was detoxing and sweating and crying...it was just surface facts of what he went through. There were few quotes from coaches or family, but no conversations. The author speaks about his wife and how she was strong, but doesn't offer much else to the relationship between the two of them. Why did she stay? How did she try to help? I can understand that being a junkie/druggie, you push everyone important to you away. I get that...but there has to be more to this story and more about the addiction and absolutely more about the process of recovery. There needs to be more to capture and motivate. The book doesn't delve into the depths of what he had to go through in rehab or with his family. Being an outsider isn't enough.

I understand the several grammatical errors, since this was an uncorrected version and the sentence structure/paragraph structure left something to be desired. I would honestly love to read the finished product to see how it changes. I know it has the ability to be a great memoir that can teach people about coping with recovery if the author would open up. After all, he obviously wants the story out there for the world to see. Make it real...make it honest. I know there was more to the experience of the whole thing than this.

Rating: 2

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Endlessly by C.V. Hunt

I received this book through a Goodreads First Reads contest giveaway.
Back Cover: When Ashley walks into a shop run by the vampire, Verloren, they both get the surprise of their lives. Ash is about to learn that she's not just another pretty young woman, while Verloren is astonished to find himself falling in love. But how can a vampire lvoe a human? And what if the human isn't as human as she seems? When Ash's true nature reveals itself, the entire power structure of the world's outsiders teeters on the brink of destruction. Verloren and Ash become more and more terrified as they grope their way toward the ultimate truth: that they hold the key to something much larger than their own survival.
I have to say that I expected a little more dramatic buildup from reading the back cover and was a little disappointed that it didn't feel as though Ash and Verloren were teetering on the brink of anything. I didn't get the feeling that they were actually scared of what was going to happen. Ash wasn't scared of anything and Verloren seemed a little worried at parts, but the actions of the two of them really didn't speak volumes in that regard. They still did what they wanted and...well...um...the chemistry between the two was undeniable. A couple of questions that I wonder is: why they bothered running if they were going to meet the Quatre anyway and did Jessica meet her end unnecessarily? The thought process was there...and the story line had a TON of potential. I enjoyed the idea of the incarnates and the different types of new "non-humans" and those ideas seemed to be developed well. I also think that even the development of what a vampire was and how different they were from your stereotypical vampire was good. The writing was definitely more enjoyable than that of another popular vampire novel series. =) I would have enjoyed it more if there weren't so many f-bombs, but then again, it fit the characters of the book well enough.
I think the book deserves 3 1/2 stars. I think that it ended too quickly and that more could have been said about life after the Quatre and how things changed. I would be interested in reading the second novel in the series. My curiosity was peaked and I care enough about Ash and Verloren to see what happens.

Rating: 3 1/2