I have failed miserably at staying on top of my book reviews this year. I guess when you only get 2-3 hours of time to yourself a day that has to be shared with showering, cooking, staying in touch with family and friends (i.e. emailing and talking on the phone), and generally having some down-time, book blogging hasn't been high on the list. But I HAVE been reading. So, even though this is totally lame, here's my speed-review:
Full disclosure: I only read 150 pages of this book. It was for my book club and it was not easy to get into, even though I had such high hopes. This is considered a classic in Brazil -- it's required reading in high school -- but it was sloooooooooow. Perhaps there's a translator to blame somewhere? But because I didn't finish it I don't think it's fair to rate it, so alas, this just falls in the category of "not so impressed after 150 pages."
This was another pick for book club, and it proved to be a great book for a group discussion. It follows the lives of four women who have chosen (for various reasons) not to return to work after having children. I found most of the characters extremely unlikable but also quite 'real' in their dysfunction (which was probably why I didn't like them). MY RATING: 6/10.
This book was a lot of fun. It was easy and captivating and a good old fashioned spy novel (of which I have read very few). As I read I felt like I was almost watching a movie (and it turns out one is in the works with George Clooney). Nothing amazing about the book, but entertaining. MY RATING: 8/10.
Bow Grip was a pick for book club so that we could read some queer literature AND some Canadian fiction. It follows a small-down man a year after he has been left by his wife for a woman, and how he is dealing (or not dealing) given his repressed and shy nature. It was a nice story - well written and easy to follow - but the ending was way too tidy and convenient. I felt let-down. MY RATING: 5/10.
Now this book was amazing. Ever heard of netsuke? I hadn't, learning about them was one of many new things I learned from this book. It was heartbreaking to read about how the magnificent collections of so many Jewish families were dismantled and stolen during and after WWII, and De Waal did an amazing job of consolidating years of research and minute detail into a readable and compelling book. MY RATING: 10/10.
If any of you reading this are still eating Chilean sea bass...shame. Shame on you. Please don't buy the "but this is eco-certified and from the non-endangered stock" line that fish mongers will tell you at Whole Foods and other 'reputable' markets. Hooked is a fascinating history of the rise and fall of Chilean sea bass interwoven with the story of a recent high-seas pursuit of pirates trying to catch and sell the fish illegally. MY RATING: 8/10.
Oy vey. This was a recent book club pick, and I hated it. And I mean really disliked it, which is opposite to almost everyone I know who has read this book. I found it cliched and overwritten. The villains were caricatures, and the heroine was a bit too naive and good-to-be-true. BUT...it was easy to get into and the kind of book you can't put down, so it wasn't a complete failure. MY RATING: 4/10.