31 January 2013

Don't Let This One Pass You By Unread

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one of the funniest books I have ever read/listened to, but it also has sad moments. I won't recommend listening to it while driving, as I did... I do recommend listening, however, because it is read by Alexie with all the pronunciations and accents of the reservation. A truly great, truly human book.

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23 January 2013

A Heartbreaking Read...

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maybe if I had read it, instead of listening to the audio-book, it would have been better. But, reading through the other reviews ... probably not.

I really don't get how this can be recommended to me because I loved Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace. They are nothing alike, in my humble opinion....

The parts that should have been sad, were presented as if to make the reader laugh. I didn't like that.

I can't really totally let this go, however. I hated The Waste Land for first 15 times I read it, too. It still isn't my favorite poem, but it has made into my definitely worth reading list, so.... maybe there's hope for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

I'll keep ya posted, just in case you care....

Just for the record, I do like Dion Graham's reading voice. I think I listened at the wrong time, like I was not in the right place at the right time sorta thing. I'm about to read it (the actual paperback this time). So, this review may change.

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17 January 2013

Review of The Robber Bride

The Robber BrideThe Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is not my favorite Atwood, but it kept me interested. Atwood does an excellent job of character building, almost Dostoevskian in the inner and outer depth and overall scope. Some of the action I have a little trouble believing, but Atwood does provide reasons, within her character development, for those actions (sometimes after the fact); they are just not the actions I would take or would, in most cases, expect someone else to take. I was a little disappointed, in other words, with how some of the characters reacted to the "antagonist," for lack of a better word. Personally, I expected (several times) this character to be beaten to unconsciousness or murdered, but alas....

If you are an Atwood fan, I don't think this book will disappoint. Like her of her works, it differs from the others, but still has the Atwood style, diction, beautiful language and excellent character development.

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10 January 2013

Review of Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to SuccessOutlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Most of the other reviews cover it pretty well. What I liked about this book is that K.M. Weiland presents several variations on the humble outline.

Most people hearing the word 'outline' immediately remember I. A. 1. a. and all the indenting and if you have A and B, then you must have C and on and on.... THAT kind of outlining is a nightmare, and there is no way I could use it to get my stories straight.

K.M. Weiland also includes interviews with authors who choose to outline or not and why or why not. It's a neat feature, but wasn't important for me in making a final decision to outline, but it did seem to make it "Okay" if you decide that outlines only work for you under certain conditions, say.

Aside from a few cliché phrases the book is well-written, which one would expect from someone who teaches writing. The author takes a descriptive tone, rather than a prescriptive one, when writing about outlines; that is always refreshing when reading writing books. Weiland also gives examples of the benefits, which according to her conclusion in this book, far outweigh the cost in time and frustration if an outline is not used, i.e. if one is a "pantser."

K.M. Weiland also has a helpful vlog, which is how I first learned about this book. Check it out.

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04 January 2013

Yes, I Read a Memoir About Cary Grant. So?

Dear Cary: My Life with Cary GrantDear Cary: My Life with Cary Grant by Dyan Cannon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It was okay, but I found it too much about Dyan Cannon and too little about Cary Grant. I guess I need a biography rather than a memoir. For what it is, however, it is well written and, I would say that if someone is interested in Dyan Cannon's relationship with Cary Grant, then this is the book. I mean, it is subtitled "My Life With Cary Grant," afterall.... and the emphasis is on her life, before and with Grant. Just not what I was looking for: that is, I was looking for more about Cary Grant. That said, I'll go read a biography and stopped yammering on in this review.

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