Book Reviews

In order to catch up on my book reviews so I can do a 2010 wrap-up post, I’ll be posting some posts with several brief reviews (or just random babbling about the books). My very favorite books that I haven’t reviewed yet will get their own posts. I don’t usually post ratings in my book review blog posts, but since these will be so brief that I may not express how much I like or dislike a book, I’ll tell you what I gave the book on Goodreads.

Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk – I randomly grabbed this book off the swap book stack at my library and started reading it. I have heard many good things about this author. This novel is about a fashion model who becomes disfigured. Really, it’s a commentary about obsession with fame and attention. The book is very cleverly written, but there were times when I felt like Palahniuk was really trying to show you how smart he is rather than advancing the story. I thought to myself, “Oh yes, Chuck, you really think you’re a smartypants.” There’s a bit of crudeness for the sake of shock value that didn’t move the plot forward. 3 out of 5 stars.

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Probably the most anticipated book of the year among my library and blogger friends was enjoyable but a bit of a letdown for me. After the first two amazing books in this series, Mockingjay just didn’t measure up. Katniss felt a lot like Bella Swan, which was annoying, even if she had much better reasons for it. Please, YA authors, give me a strong female lead who doesn’t become an angsty mess by the end of the story. Still, I enjoyed reading the final book in this awesome series so it gets 4 out of 5 stars.

The Girls by Lori Lansens – This was a book club book. The Girls is the fictional account of how conjoined twins lived their lives together and still retained their own personalities and interests. The narrative switches between Rose and Ruby and describes their experiences with family, friends, love, and even sex while constantly being attached to each other. Since they are attached at the head, they can never look each other in the eye, but they love each other in a way we could never imagine. This was a powerful book with many wonderful characters. 4 out of 5 stars.

Ape House by Sara Gruen – Next to Mockingjay, Ape House was the next most anticipated book this year among my friends. Gruen had a lot to live up to after Water for Elephants, and she succeeded in proving that she is a very good writer with a knack for characterization of both humans and animals. This novel read very quickly, and I was in love with the Bonobo family at the center of the story. Gruen got lost somewhere in connecting the plots of the Bonobos and the humans so the book felt a bit disjointed at times. Hopefully, she’ll come out with another novel that is a bit more fully realized like Water for Elephants. Enjoyable, but flawed, 4 out of 5 stars.

Half Empty by David Rakoff – I downloaded this audiobook to listen to with Dan on a road trip to Charlottesville for our anniversary. It was the perfect length and topic for both of us to enjoy as we are both avid fans of This American Life, where Rakoff is a frequent contributor. These essays were all loosely connected with a theme of pessimism. As Dan and I are pragmatists, we are often put off by false optimism so we really enjoyed hearing a humorous approach to tearing down the “rabid optimism” prevalent in America. Rakoff reads the audiobook himself so it is great fun since he is adept at the dry humor fans of David Sedaris are likely to enjoy. If you are a fan of inspirational or motivational books, run far away. 4 out of 5 stars.

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