Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book 66: Girls In Trucks

Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch really had me confused. I was not in love with this book at all.

Girls in Trucks is essentially about Sarah, a Southern girl with ties to Camellias. She goes from Cotillion Training School to being all grown up in New York. She’s had her ups and downs in life.  It’s unfair to call this book a novel. It’s more of a series of vignettes.

To be quite frank I hated this book. I have no idea how it was ever a national best seller. It was a disorganized mess.  Chapters barely tied together. Grammar was all over the place. Same thing with the point of view. Plus I thought the characters were terribly weak.  Normally national best sellers are better or good. This was pure crap.  

I find a great deal of irony of reading the back about how the author prides herself as having well developed characters. I’m sorry but other then Sarah, nobody was developed. Even most of the time, Sarah was a surface character. Turning someone into a drunk or a heroin addicted turned fashion mogul, isn’t character depth. Not unless you nature it and really interact. The characters never really stepped off the page for me other then in one chapter. That was when Eloise asked Sarah to visit her at school. It was a shame,  Eloise was never really brought back (okay she was for her wedding but it wasn’t a memorable).

When you think about Southern Society, you think about class, etiquette, tradition, and sisterhood.  This book touched upon those ideas but failed to really deliver them.

It’s no wonder that Girls in Trucks was left on a table for someone to take for free. This book was horrible. I wish it was better. I’m not sure if I will pass this book on. It just didn’t live up to my standards. 

Book 65: The Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of Orwell Volume 2, My Country Right or Left

The Essays, Journalism and Letters of Orwell, My Country Right or Left was an interesting writing collection by George Orwell. This collection wasn’t the book wasn’t what I expected. Then the last half the book with is wartime diary was just flat out fascinating.

I won’t lie, when I read George Orwell in high school, it left a mark on me. I ate up both 1984 and  Animal Farm. The critique he had on society was so interesting and dark. So I was interested in reading more from him. I requested this book off of book mooch ages ago and then it got put on my shelf and forgotten about until I moved. This seemed like one of the perfect books to read to get something a little bit more serious on my reading list this year.

One of the things that really surprised me was how interested Orwell was in both propaganda and the use of new words. I wasn’t anticipating him speaking so favorably of propaganda and in a way wanted more done by the British in the WWII.  In a way it shouldn’t be so unusual. In 1984, propaganda was essential to the running of their world and the support of the military.  I’m just not as convinced that propaganda is so essential and can do in essence mind control.   After growing up with ads and skewed news stories everywhere, I’m skeptical by most propaganda. But I do know that the more often we characterize something as being evil, the more likely it can leave an impact.  

This book also allowed me to see Orwell’s personality. He just came to life. He seemed like such a character.  Someone who was so passionate about life and wanted to serve his country.

Several of the essays didn’t always impact me in the same way as I would have hoped.  He would talk about political leaders and I didn’t know them. It doesn’t take long for party leaders to be forgotten in history if they weren’t fully in charge. I knew Churchill, but some of the other names, I didn’t know.

My favorite part of this book was his war diaries. Those were great. More meaningful then his letters reporting about the war. In a way it was interesting and not surprising to see how the air raids weren’t always taken seriously. Such is human nature. The talk about life and events were interesting.  It showed me different views of the world which I love.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Book 64: Live to Tell

Live to Tell by Lisa Gardner was an interesting read. It was an interesting twist on the idea of a murder thriller and mental illness. The characters had rich back stories.

This was a great little book. The perfect companion on a commute. It had action and great characters. The downside, it could be a choppy read.

I love how this book dealt with issues you don’t always think about. First, what it is like to be the one to survive the deaths of your whole family and you were witness to the onslaught. Second, how draining and difficult it can be to raise a young kid with severe mental illness. I learned a lot especially in how pediatric psych units can be run. There are some really interesting therapies out there and it’s neat to see how things are changing. The idea of CPS is really interesting and just plain smart if you have the ability to learn more about mental illness.

I liked the three main characters and the variety of lesser characters. There was Danielle, the lone survivor who was both the psych nurse and the struggle of dealing with a big anniversary of the death of the whole family. DD is the strong women detective who wanted to get a little personal time and yet dedicated to the job. Victoria the mother who gave up everything to care for her son who would bounce from being loving to absolutely psychotic.  All these characters had real breath to them. They weren’t perfect and they had issues.

The action always kept a good pace. Each chapter really had a purpose and would trade points of view so you could really get into the minds of the three characters. So many people died in the space of four days. There were two families killed (5 and 6 people respectively) and a primal girl. It was getting pretty crazy.

I hated how the book could get really choppy. While I love good plot progression, every so often I was lost.. Things would happen in the white space and you almost needed that information. While it was good to work my comprehension and logic skills.

The other thing that I disliked was the ending. I won’t go into too much detail, it was pretty lame. The Andrew Lightfoot character just fell apart in such an unbelievable way. I just couldn’t get behind that collapse. While the change in Evan’s character made sense, the change in Andrew Lightfoot’s didn’t.