Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book:  Penumbra

Author:  Carolyn Haines 

Grade:  C- 

Recommended to:  People who want to be bored whilst reading. 

Oh Boy.  Prepare yourselves.  This review is going to be scathing.  I didn't like this book at all.  I was not impressed by the writing, the alleged "depth" of the characters, or the story.   It got a C- because it had potential, but this author in no way lived up to the potential of the story.

This story is about a little girl that gets kidnapped and her mother who is brutally beaten and raped.  The town sheriff has to solve the mystery.  Sounds good right?  Right, except for the writing and the dialogue, and all of the horrible distracting side stories.  That is why this story had potential. 

The dialogue was terrible. I didn't believe that any of the characters would make the statements they made.  This author suffered from a severe lack of perception about actual people, the people in the book made extremely unwieldy statements that were unrealistic. 

The author also chose to describe every detail of every person's thought process in short choppy sentences .  Ahhh, shoot me now.  I skimmed through large portions of this book because I just didn't care about any of the story line.  There was nothing compelling about a black woman who could have passed as white.   Again, potential. But, no delivery.

The full of potential story line I just described?  That became a side story to some weird sexual scenes and tension that was completely irrelevant.  gag.

It felt like this book was written by a 10th grader who got an assignment for class and was lucky enough to be published.  I will never again waste my time reading something my Haines.  This book fell flat,  I do not recommend it unless you just enjoy swiping your finger across your kindle without reading any of the words.

Happy Reading!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Three Cups of Deceit by Jon Krakauer

Book:  Three Cups of Deceit 

Author:  Jon Krakauer 

Grade:  B 

Recommended To: Krakauer fans, People who believe deceit is best served icy cold. 

Three Cups of Deceit is Jon Kraukauer's expose of The Central Asia Institute, a charitable institution that builds schools for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  

Some of the reveals in this book are shocking.  For example, the CAI rakes in millions of dollars in donations each year, but a small fraction of those donations are actually used to build schools.  Instead, the leader of the organization, Greg Mortensen, uses donated funds for private planes to his book signing and speaking events to the tune of several million dollars.  

Another shocker:  that none  of the profits from Greg Mortensen's extremely popular books are donated to the CAI, those royalties go straight into Greg's pocket.   

I've donated to the CAI and I raved about Greg Mortensen's book Three Cups of Tea  on this blog in early 2011.  (actually, almost a year ago today...interesting.)  The book is compelling and the stories told by Greg are uplifting.  I remember crying when finishing Three Cups and thinking that I had to do something, since a man from so humble beginnings was able to accomplish such extensive change.    Krakauer exposes many of the heartwarming stories in Three Cups, and Mortensen's follow up book Stones into Schools, as out right lies.  Many of the stories did not happen, or were seriously elaborated to make them sound better for publishing.

I trust Krakauer.  He has a reputation of thorough research that is easy to follow.  This is certainly not a heartwarming book, but, it is very interesting at a time when many charities are under scrutiny for exactly how donations are spent.

Happy Reading!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

Book:  Mudbound 

Author:  Hillary Jordan

Grade: B+

Recommended To:  Sharecroppers, children who enjoy playing in the mud. 

 Mudbound is set in the Mississippi Delta in the 1950s.  The majority of the story takes place on a farm where the white landowners employ white and black sharecropping families to work the land.  The book is written as a serious of shorts told by six different characters.

Two of the characters fight in the Second World War and when they return, challenge the ideas of race in the extremely small town, and small minded, Delta.  The female voice of the story, Laura, is moved by her husband from the clean, bright city that she's familiar with to a muddy mess of a farm.  There, she has to learn how to work on a farm without any modern conveniences.  That sounds tacky, but its not.  Think how hard it would be to go from running water, to well water overnight.

This book is deeply layered and unspeakably intense.  There are many themes at work in Mudbound; race, emotional abuse, violence, adultery.  The tension in this book builds and finally comes to a breaking point about 3/4 of the way through the novel and it is a hell of a breaking point.  The characters in this book are not stereotypes, which seems to be an easy trap for authors of the sharecropping South, but instead are thought provoking and multi-faceted.  I kept thinking about this book for several days and that is certainly one of my criteria for a five star or a B+ book.

Apparently Hillary Jordan has written a second book called When She Woke, which according to her website is a play on The Scarlet Letter.  Reviews on Amazon lead me to believe that it is a little too close to The Scarlet Letter to be that good, but I will likely give it a shot.  This Kindle was the best thing I've bought in a long time.

Happy Reading!!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Redfield Farm by Judith Redline Coopey

Book:  Redfield Farm 

Author:  Judith Redline Coopey

Grade:  A

Recommended To:  Railroad Conductors, Quakers, Everyone. 

Lemme just tell ya, I love finding new authors.  Especially authors that have talent.  In my experience, it is rare for a new author to create something genuinely magnificent with their first book.  Some authors never make it, but Coopey has created a meaningful and masterful novel on her first go.

This is a book about the Redfield family surviving in Pennsylvania in the 1860's.  They are Quakers who's farm serves as a station stop on the Underground Railroad.  They also experience a number of personal and family triumphs and obstacles throughout the novel.

The one thing that was so stunning about this book was the author's ability to create suspense.  Each time a family member moved a runaway slave to the next station stop, I held my breath and read faster.   That is a very very difficult thing to accomplish; Cooper has talent.   I was so engrossed in this book that I finished it in two days and then thought about it for the next two.

If I had any criticism for this book, it would be that the relationship between Pru Hartley and Ann, the main character was strained.  I wasn't sure why Pru's character was present for much of the novel and it didn't seem like the character added much to the story, or that Ann's interactions with Pru effected Ann's own character growth.

According to Cooper's website, she has a new book coming out in May 2012.  I will certainly be purchasing the e-copy of Waterproof A Novel of The Johnstown Flood when it is available in early May.

I would love to hear what you think of Redfield Farm!  

Happy Reading!!