Thursday, September 26, 2013

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink

Book:  Five Days at Memorial 

Author:  Sheri Fink 

Grade:  B

Recommended To:  Everyone who likes non-fiction 

I found this book in the "Hot Reads" section of my library which just means that it is brand new and you can only check it out for two weeks instead of three weeks. Five Days at Memorial is not light-hearted.  It is a well-researched behemoth that chronicles Memorial Hospital's experience during Hurricane Katrina.

The first half of the book is about the experiences of the nurses, doctors, patients and family members at Memorial during Katrina and after.  The second half is about the grand jury indictment of Dr. Pou and two nurses who injected their patients with morphine and Versed to hasten their deaths.

This book was upsetting in a variety of ways.  Memorial was unprepared for a disaster of Katrina's size, but it wasn't that unprepared.  After the investigation started and all of the people at Memorial were evacuated, crews found days worth of food and water supplies and bottles of oxygen that were not used to assist patients.   The most poignant part of this book was when the author explained that although many patients died during Katrina, some of the other hospitals only lost a few patients compared the the 40+ patients who died at Memorial.

In general, Memorial is a very fair book.  No one party is painted as good or evil and the book is very multifaceted.  Some may even say that this book is exhaustively researched, even down to the support letters that Dr. Pou received after she was indicted.  I skipped some of those parts.

In all, this was a good, thorough read that painted a devastating picture of the choices faced by medical personnel during Katrina.

Happy Reading!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Book:  Insurgent 

Author:  Veronica Roth 

Grade:  C- 

Recommended To:  I have no idea, teenagers?

Insurgent is the second book in the Divergent Series penned by Veronica Roth and loosely based in Chicago.  I reviewed the first book Divergent on this blog and am writing the second review so quickly because these books take about 10 minutes to read.

There are SPOILERS in this review.  So, approach with caution.

I have no idea what happened in this book. The relationships were bad, the motives were all wrong, and the twists and turns were seriously contrived.  That said, I liked this book slightly more than Divergent, although my grades don't reflect that distinction.  It is hard to remember why something was a C or a C-, days and weeks after finishing the book, which is why the grading on this blog is subjective.

In retrospect then, I liked Insurgent a bit better because my expectations were much lower.  I already knew that the writing was bad and that the characters were flat.  My expectations were met in that regard.

This opinion is going to be unpopular:  Why don't Tris and this fool Four just break up?  As far as I can tell, they have been dating for approximately 10 minutes.  Much too soon to be having deep conversations and arguments about trust.  And, if you don't trust someone after dating for 10 minutes, then it seems unlikely that you ever will, so just break up, and find someone else.  The parts of the book about Tris and Four were not romantic, it is a relationship of convenience and cuddling and crap.  I don't buy it.

Can I get some hands up from the people that hate the name Tobias?  This guy has a friggin awesome nickname, Four, and is all emo-whiney "but I wanna be called Tobiaaaaasssss."  Relax.


The plot is still thin in Insurgent and many of the plot twists are ridiculous.  It makes zero, none, nada, zippo sense that Peter would save Tris by giving her some serum that makes her appear dead.  Allegedly he does it so that he isn't indebted to her anymore, but her dying would also make that debt moot and not put a gigantic target on his back.  This doesn't make sense with the character development so far.  I think Roth backed herself into a corner with this Tris-going-to-Erudite plot line and then didn't know how to get her out.  Plus, why the hell is Peter in the upper echelon of Erudite if he defected to the Divergent?  I am expected to believe that the most boring smartest faction would put a defector on the security team?  No.

So, despite these fallicies, I found myself enjoying Insurgent more because  I rolled my eyes fewer times while I read the book.  That's the new standard of reading.  The number of eye-rolls.

I am currently reading Five Days at Memorial and I have high hopes that a good non-fiction will put my reading agenda back on the right path.

Happy Reading!!

Monday, September 9, 2013

The White Princess by Philippa Gregory

Book:  The White Princess 

Author:  Phil Gregs 

Grade:  B 

Recommended To:  Phil Gregs fans! 

This is the latest installment in the Cousin's War series of books that Philippa Gregory has written.  It is hard to believe that there have been five books in this series so far.  It seems like she just finished the Henry VIII series.

This book is the story of the parents of Henry VIII.  Elizabeth is married to Henry Tudor, who took the throne from King Richard.  Like all of Gregory's books, the female characters are the feature and the entire book is told from the perspective of Elizabeth, the York princess.

This book continues the mystery of the two lost princes, Richard and Edward, that was begun in The White Queen.  Henry Tudor VII has captured the throne but is far from secure.  He marries Elizabeth, in an attempt to join the two rival houses, but instead rumors of the lost boy prince Richard haunt Henry throughout his reign.

I thought this book was acceptable.  It wasn't the best of the series and it wasn't the worst.   The Lady of the Rivers, which I don't believe I reviewed on this blog was by far the worst.  It took me months to finish that book.

This book moved quickly and was fun to read.  It is true that it is repetitive, but at this point, I just assume that Gregory's books are going to repeat over and over again.  She's a huge fan of telling the reader the entire title for a person every time that person is referenced.  At least 1000 words could have been saved by limiting My Lady the King's Mother to just Mother or Crazy, for example.  So, if you are willing to overlook that, this story was good and it kept my attention.  Plus, I find the mystery surrounding the lost Tower princes to be fascinating especially because no one knows for sure what happened to them.

In other news, I am FOUR books ahead of schedule on my read-65-books-in-a-year Goodreads challenge.   In the three years that I've done the challenge, I don't think I've ever been that far ahead of schedule.  Maybe I'll hit 70 this year!

I definitely recommend this book to the hard-core Gregory fans out there.  You will not be disappointed.

Happy Reading!!