Showing posts with label Did not finish. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Did not finish. Show all posts

Thursday, March 7, 2013

One for the Money: Review

So.....I'm doing this Book Blogger Bingo Challenge. And one of the categories for crossing of Bingo squares is "Read X number of books that everyone but you has read"....that led me to One for the Money by Janet Evanovich.  'Cause I've been hearing people talk about those books for-ev-er.  The ladies who work with my husband all love them.  When he talks about how much his wife reads and how much she likes mysteries, they all ask him, "Has Bev read any of the Stephanie Plum books yet?...No?!  Oh, she has to try them!"  And up till now I've been all, "No. Thanks. Really.  No."  The neon covers on most of the series turned me off. I'm really picky about the more modern mysteries I read.  The synopses just really didn't do a whole lot for me. So I figured I was better off in my own little world of vintage mysteries. 

But....given the Bingo catergory...I thought: What the heck--if I'm ever going to try one of the Evanovich novels it might as well be now.  Who knows, I might even like it.  Um. Yeah.  No. Thanks. Really.  No.  I hate telling myself I told you so--but, self, I told you so.  This is SO not my kind of book.  That's not to say that it's not your kind of book.  And certainly there's an awful lot of people (women in particular) who love this series and can't get enough of it.  One of my good friends thinks they're great and she's a pretty smart cookie, so there has to be something to these things.  Just not for me.  

Stephanie Plum doesn't do much for me as a heroine. I don't connect with her at all--from her trying to run over her former lover to her blackmail of her cousin about his affairs and relations that involve a duck (what the heck?!) to her taking on a job that she has absolutely ZERO qualifications for.  Nora Roberts in a blurb on the back of the book wants to stick Stephanie in the ranks with Kinsey Millhone.  I'm not even a major Millhone fan and I think that's an insult to Kinsey. The writing itself seems to be to be cotton candy for the brain.  Too much of it makes Bev a sick girl.  Too much in this case would be ten pages at a time.  Now, if I have to put the book down repeatedly after reading only ten pages, then something is wrong.  I'm sorry, but this is unreadable for me...and therefore unratable.  I'm claiming it for the Bingo challenge because I think I deserve some sort of reward for trying to read the darn thing.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Challenge: Throwing in the Towel

I'm afraid that the Books Won Challenge sponsored by So Many Precious Books, So Little Time is not going to get done. There's just no way on earth I'm going to be able to read 4 more of these things before the end of the year. Especially since I could not finish Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey. I declared myself for the Silver level (see below) but have barely scraped myself into the Honorable Mention. Mark this one down as the big FAIL.

Honorable Mention: Read 1-3 book you won.
Bronze: Read 4-6 books you won.
Silver: Read 7-9 Books you won.
Gold: Read 10 or more books you won.

I plan on going for the Silver Level (7-9 books won) and here are the intended reads and reviews:

The Praise Singer by Mary Renault (12/20/11)
Scorpions: The Battles & Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices by Noah Feldman (7/1/11)
3. The Outside Boy by Jeanine Cummins
The Queen's Pawn by Christy English
The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
The Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou
Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey (Did Not Finish--just couldn't)
Death of a Chimney Sweep by M. C. Beaton (6/28/11)

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Perfect Reader

Synopsis: At the news of her father’s death, Flora quits her big-city magazine job and returns to Darwin, the quaint New England town where she grew up, to retreat into the house he has left her, filled as it is with reminders of him. Even weightier is her appointment as her father’s literary executor. It seems he was secretly writing poems at the end of his life—love poems to a girlfriend Flora didn’t know he had. Flora soon discovers that this woman has her own claims on Lewis’s poetry and his memory, and in the righteousness of her loss and bafflement at her father’s secrets—his life so richly separate from her own in ways she never guessed—Flora is highly suspicious of her. Meanwhile, Flora is besieged by well-wishers and literary bloggers alike as she tries to figure out how to navigate it all: the fate of the poems, the girlfriend who wants a place in her life, her memories of her parents’ divorce, and her own uncertain future.

I'm putting this one back on the to-read shelf. Although I doubt I ever will. I expect this to be a permanent fixture on the Did Not Finish shelf. Flora is one of the least likeable main characters I've come across. She is a whiner and doesn't seem to have any redeeming qualities. I made it through my standard 100 pages and then skimmed through the rest of the book to see if she got more interesting or likeable...not that I could see. I really, quite honestly, don't care if she does and I'm missing it. I don't care if she reconciles herself to all the things she doesn't know about her father. I don't care if she "does right" by his literary estate and the poems he's left behind. Don't care.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

English Music....Not my kind of tune

Just a brief post to say that English Music by Peter Ackroyd is going into the Did Not Finish stack. I'm not feeling it...I'm struggling through it and it's not worth the effort. I'm in the middle of the first of Timothy's really bizarre dreams and even being an English major and getting all the references isn't making it pertinent for me. So...given the fact that I really need to step up the reading pace if I'm going to complete any more challenges this year, I'm kissing English Music good-bye. On to the next book in the pile...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Zorro: A Novel....Not Finishing

I picked out Zorro: A Novel by Isabel Allende to fit into the A-Z Reading Challenge that I signed up for. After's not that easy to find interesting books whose first word starts with Z. And, I always enjoyed watching the black and white Zorro films. So, gonna be a good read, right?

I'm afraid not. And I've decided to stick to one of my unwritten reading resolutions for the year and be a little more ruthless when deciding not to finish a book. In the past, I've always finished. Always. Because it just might get better. But this year I've decided if I get about 100 pages in and it's just not doing it for me...then I'm done. Unless there's an overwhelming reason that compels me to finish (like, perhaps, an author has sent me a book to review).

I think it quite likely that Isabel Allende can write and that there are probably a lot a readers out there who would appreciate her writing. She does have a flair for description. She manages to take me to the places that Diego de la Vega has been so far in his short life (he's not made it to Zorro yet). But I find her story-telling abilities to be less than stellar. She hasn't made me care about these people yet. The de la Vega house has just been razed by pirates, a number of people have been killed...and I just don't care. At this point, I can see the building blocks that will turn de la Vega into Zorro...but I don't really want to stick around and wait and see when that happens. Will I have to wait another 100 pages (I skim and it looks likely). Perhaps I might try this one again when I have a little more patience for the long transformation. But for now...put Zorro down as a Did Not Finish.

Now I'm off to look for other likely candidates to fill the "Z" slot in the reading challenge.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Throwing in Towel on Mary

Okay, I am officially crying "Uncle!" Two hundred and fifty pages in (not even half-way through) and I can take no more of Antonia Fraser's Mary Queen of Scots. I really wanted to finish this...having a love for the British Isles and their history. But I just cannot read one more word. Historical writing has come a long way in the last 41 years and there are a lot of writers out there who can take subject matter that is much less exciting than the life of Mary, Queen of Scots, and keep the reader waiting on the edge of their seat to see what comes next.

Not Fraser. She's excellent as a mystery writer. And I'm going to have to go find one of her mysteries to read to remind myself how excellent.

Her history of Scotland's beleaguered queen leaves much to be desired. A varied vocabulary would be nice for starters. There was an abundance of repeated phrases--so much so that I kept double-checking the page number to be sure that I hadn't read the particular chapter before. I also found the repeated references to Mary dissolving into tears when meeting with various lords and noblemen to be very grating. On the one hand, Fraser seems to be trying to portray Mary as a much more level-headed and politically-minded young queen than Elizabeth of England...but then she ruins the scene with all the waterworks. And maybe it's the difference of 40 years, but I find the footnote & reference note system to be terribly unhelpful. I am used to footnotes, end notes & reference notes that actually clarify the points noted. When Fraser makes a note in reference to some of these weeping episodes, for instance, she merely directs the reader to the source in question. I would have to go find the work and look up the reference to find out what exactly history has to say about the particular episode. Why was Mary weeping? What bearing, if any, did it have on the conference's outcome? And this happens for every note made. The reader has rare access to the source material (there are few quoted passages) to judge for herself.

I might not have minded all that so much, if the writing were brisk and accessible and made me actually care about the story of the Queen of Scots. From the Amazon synopsis and what I know of history, this could have been a very good historical story, indeed. Just because it is history and factual, doesn't mean it can't be engaging. Good history is. I'm sorry to have to say, this isn't. Rating equals Did Not Finish.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Breaking Down the Stories

I'm going to try a new tactic for this collection of short stories (Break It Down by Lydia Davis)...a running break-down of the stories as I read them.

"Story": gives an intimate account of the insecurities that can haunt you in a relationship

"The Fears of Mrs. Orlando": poor Mrs. Orlando. What it must be like to live with such fears...almost persecution mania. Somebody, somewhere is out to get her, steal her stuff, do her harm.

"Liminal: The Little Man": Just a snippet: "She was thinking how it was the unfinished business. This was why she could not sleep. She could not say the day was over. She had no sense any day was ever over. Everything was still going on. The business was no only not finished but maybe not done well enough."

"Break It Down": just how much does a relationship cost, anyway?

"Mr. Burdoff's Visit to Germany": a short story that is literally broken down...into its various, specific parts.

"What She Knew"; "The Fish"; & "Mildred & the Oboe": Okay, I know I promised that I was breaking these down story by story. But, seriously?? Short stories that are one paragraph long and one page at the most--that's it? If I wanted something that short and sweet, I'd be reading poetry (which I do like, by the way). But I'm not. I want a story. Not just a peeping tom look into someone's life. Which is kinda how I feel about these three--very voyeuristic. Especially with Mildred. And these extremely short "stories" make me think about my 4th grade writing efforts. When I thought my "Crime Club" series was gonna be the next best thing to Trixie Belden. And I wrote a whole story (as in equal to one of Trixie's stories--oh, say, 150ish pages) in one of those little top-spiral, 80 page (2 in x 3 in paper) and didn't even use half the pages. I just know the "Mystery of the Diamond Bracelet" was a story to make Katherine Kenney worried about Trixie's competition. I'm not claiming that my 4th grade efforts have near the style and polish of Lydia Davis' paragraphs. But I am saying it's awfully hard to care about her characters in these three stories--do I really care about the woman in "What She Knew" and what she knows? Nope. Not a bit. Don't know enough about her. things went totally downhill from there. I'm not enjoying these stories at all and I'm giving up. I did figure out what it was that made me want to get this book. It was a "short story" (yes, one of those paragraph things) called "Safe Love"--only when it was mentioned on the site I found it on, it didn't say that the paragraph quoted was the entire story.

So--going with my new philosophy that I don't have time to waste on books I'm not enjoying....out with the '"old" and in with the "new." Will be starting Deborah Crombie's Kissed a Sad Goodbye (the follow-up to Dreaming of the Bones) tonight.