Quick Picks #2

Kissed in Paris by Juliette Sobanet
July 2012, Kindle edition (lack of page knowledge)

Another quick read. Chloe goes to Paris a week before her wedding for business and is picked up by a French guy who drugs her and steals all her money and passport. Apparently said French guy has done this to many women and so the police will not believe her so that she can get back to the States quickly. Enter Julien, a different French guy who claims to be part of the government, agrees to help her and they end up traipsing all over France in order to find the original French guy with the drugs and get Chloe home to her wedding.

So while Chloe is cruising around France–clearly falling in love with Julien–she keeps concocting lies to tell her family and fiancé back home.

This book is just okay. Thank goodness it was free. I feel there are too many stereotypes about both the French and Americans’ opinions of the French for my taste. Storyline is not amazing, I mean, what are the chances of this really happening? Also, there’s the dead mom’s ghostly presence leading her daughter to find true love. Eurk. Quick read though.

Rating: 2.5 of 5 bedazzles


Quick Picks #1

So, I am one of those people that reads more than one book at a time. I always have at least two going, sometimes more. Somehow my brain is fine with it and I can keep all the stories straight. Good job, brain wiring!

At the moment I am reading The Complete Sherlock Holmes, but that’s a thousand pages and oodles of short stories, and sometimes I just need to be reading something different. So this will be a teeny review for those books that I read that take very little time and certainly aren’t going to win any awards for awesomeness.

To the Nines by Janet Evanovich
2004, 352 pages

Every once in a while I pick up the Janet Evanovich books to kill some time. They take about a day and a half, are amusing, and have a plot that just keeps moving. Granted every plot involves the main character, Stephanie Plum, being shot at or almost killed, but that works. This one is no different. There’s a formula and it works. There are nineteen to this series, so obviously Evanovich is doing something right. Quick, easy to read, involves no thinking.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 bedazzles

The Book of Lost Things

The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly
2006, 339 pages

This is another book recommended to me by the Pooka. She hasn’t steered me wrong so far, so I decided it was worth a shot. The library puts a little thing inside where you can write tiny reviews for the next borrower. One of them wrote, “This is a fantastic book, very sad.” That made me wary. We all know that I do not particularly care for sadness in any form, and like my books, movies, etc. to have happy endings. Real life is full enough of trouble, I don’t need to read about it too.

However, I was pretty much hooked in the first chapter with all the talk of books.

“Stories were different…they came alive in the telling. Without a human voice to read them aloud, or a pair of wide eyes following them by flashlight beneath a blanket, they had no real existence in our world…Once someone started to read them, they could begin to change…They could take root in the imagination, and transform the reader…Stories wanted to be read…They needed it. It was the reason they forced themselves from their world into ours. They wanted us to give them life.” (3)

And then there was the paragraph that stories hate newspapers. That just made me smile.

“The stories in books hate the stories contained in newspapers…Newspaper stories were like newly caught fish, worth of attention only for as long as they remained fresh, which was not very long at all…Newspaper stories were as insubstantial as smoke, as long-lived as mayflies. They did not take root but were instead like weeds that crawled along the ground, stealing the sunlight from more deserving tales.” (9)

Are you hooked yet? Don’t you think you should go get the book and read it right this second? No? Ok. Well, for those who want a little more information… the book focuses on David, a young child who finds another world, where fairy tales are real and creepy. And if all of that isn’t good enough….how about some Communist dwarves who try to come up with a song but have a hard time “finding suitable rhymes for ‘collectivization of labor’ and ‘oppression by the capitalist running dogs?” (142) I mean, seriously. Just go get the book!

Rating: 5 out of 5 bedazzles

Lord of the Flies

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
1954, 203 pages

I managed to not read this during school, and was perfectly happy with that. One of my tutoring students is reading it, and I figured I better read it as well so I could help her with the inevitable projects and/or tests that will accompany it. Needless to say, it is not my kind of book.

I am one of those people who really cannot stand the books that show up in the bookstore with titles like, “Adventure Stories for Boys” or “Fairy Tales for Girls.” Who cares if a girl wants to read adventure stories or a boy wants to read fairy tales? The pink and blue covers will probably steer them away from the opposite, but whatever. This, however, I would have to classify as a boy book.

The women I have talked to about it do not seem to care for it very much, and the men say that it is their favorite. Must be a boy thing. I, naturally, sided with poor Piggy, the one kid who seems to have some sense and doesn’t just run around half naked and screaming about killing pigs…or other children….through the whole book.

I’m sure it is supposed to make us all think about the constraints that adults put on themselves to be civilized, and what happens when those constraints are not there, but mostly I don’t care. It’s not my thing. One teacher who I was talking about it with did say, “What if they were girls?” And let’s face it, there would be a whole different level of cruelty going on. That might be interesting, at least from a teaching standpoint. But certainly not from a reading one.

Rating: 2 out of 5 bedazzles

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub
2012, 304 pages

I originally thought this book was about a character in Singin’ in the Rain, which is one of my favorite movies. Quite frankly, stop reading this review and go watch the movie now. It will make you happy. Anyway, the character in the movie is actually named Lina Lamont, not Laura. So not quite the same, but not totally different either.

Laura grows up as Elsa Emerson in Wisconsin with her family who own a little theater. Elsa decides that she wants to be an actress and marries a fellow actor and moves out to Hollywood in 1938. The story then follows her career while working as an actress for a specific studio during the 1940s and 1950s, her decline into prescription pill abuse, her career floundering, and then getting back into the business.

I really liked the story for a few reasons. One, I am fascinated by old Hollywood, the movies, how the studios worked, etc. If I were to believe in past lives, one of mine would have been in the 1940s. Anyway, it’s interesting that the studios really “owned” their actors. The actors did what they said, when they said, and everything was taken care of for them. In that respect, I thought that the book was pretty fascinating. I would assume that the character of Laura Lamont is based on all of the actresses during that time, and all of the other characters represent other actresses.

The story is interesting, with good characters, and is well written. All in all, I would recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5 bedazzles

Eat My Globe

Eat my Globe by Simon Majumdar
2010, 304 pages

I like traveling, I like food, and I like reading about people traveling and eating food. I thought that this book would be more like something that Bill Bryson would write, who is one of my favorites, full of little trivia bits that I can whip out and impress friends with my useless knowledge that somehow sticks in my brain and makes me sound a bit like a know-it-all. That is not what this book is.

The plot is this: Simon works for a publishing company in London and then has a bit of a midlife crisis (he didn’t actually use these words, but he decided to take up this journey when he turned 40….so you be the judge). Food is a huge part of his identity and his family, which is made abundantly clear, and he decides to take a year and travel the world, eating food from just about every continent, some of it weird and some not so weird. There was camel meat, a rat, various heads and innards of things, and some that were not that disgusting.

I think the major problem I had was that while he describes the food in detail, there are no trivia bits and, while the writing can be amusing, it is just kind of long. I would say the best part of the story was that he got to meet lots of different people on his trip, and would end up cooking in someone’s home. That seems cool.

I was so ready to enjoy this book, and yet, it didn’t really work out. I would say that if you want to read a book about someone traveling, pick up something by Bill Bryson and give this one a miss. Unless you are a chef or something, and want to know how everything was prepared down to the spices used. I do not.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 bedazzles. I thought I liked it more than this, until I was writing the review and realized, not so much. 😦

The Magician King

The Magician King by Lev Grossman
2011, 400 pages

I have recently had trouble finding a good book to read. One of my friends, the pooka, (her book blog: ) recommended a whole list of books. This one, I realized, has been sitting on my shelf for a while, so I decided to pick it up. And it did not disappoint.

It is a sequel to The Magicians, which is a story about Quentin who discovers that his favorite novels set in Fillory as a kid (similar to The Chronicles of Narnia) turn out to be real. He goes to Brakebills, a magic college, learns a lot of magic and then embarks on an adventure in Fillory to get rid of the crazy ruler. He and his friends then become kings and queens of Fillory, but of course there is a lot of bad stuff happening before that happens.

This book picks up where they are kings and queens, just hanging out in Fillory, but Quentin wants an adventure. He decides to go on a quest to find the end of the world. One of the other queens, Julia, goes with him. The story flashes back to Julia’s education as a magician, which is way more difficult than Quentin’s because she did not go to the magical school, and their current adventure which takes them through many different worlds.

The part of this that I like is that these people did the magic school thing and then they vanquish the evil guy, and are left wondering what is next. Sort of like, what is next for Harry Potter? He defeated Voldemort and now what? You can’t really go back to being normal, because you’ve done all this heroic stuff….so that is kind of what Quentin is trying to deal with. It makes everything messy, because really he’s just looking for something to do.

I really liked all the references it makes to things that I know. There was mention of the Lorax, Monty Python, Harry Potter, Hakuna Matata, Alice in Wonderland, and my personal favorite, the Teletubbies. There were also a lot of scientific references (Grossman graduated from Harvard and Yale so I’m guessing he’s a smartie…) that I only know of because I watch The Big Bang Theory. That’s probably not good, but at least I recognized the names of the scientists.

All in all, I recommend. But definitely read The Magicians first. Otherwise you will be all kinds of confused.

Rating: 4 out of 5 bedazzles

The Book Lover’s Cookbook

The Book Lover’s Cookbook by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger and Janet Kay Jensen
2003, 307 pages

I, as previously noted, like books. I also like cooking. And this makes The Book Lover’s Cookbook the perfect gift for me, as my friend clearly understood. I also quite enjoy quotes, and this book is full of them.

The authors have arranged the general cooking chapters: breakfast, main dishes, side dishes, desserts, cookies, etc. They then went through an awful lot of books looking for quotes about food. The first quote in the book, under the breakfast category, is what Wilbur the pig eats at the farm in Charlotte’s Web. Luckily the recipe is for pancakes, and not everything included in his slop bucket.

Some of the recipes sound tasty, and some not so much (see pig stomach stuffed with oyster filling and a fruit salad where you toss the fruit with 7-Up soda. Because why?).

All in all, it’s interesting and since I like quotes it’s a fun book. Soon I may even make something from it.

3.5 out of 5 (still no category. How do we feel about bedazzles?) Points taken off for actually including a recipe for making Oyster Filling, which you then put into a pig stomach. Serve that at a dinner party and no one is coming back again!