Monday, November 2, 2009

Book List: Decent Read Edition

Bound South by Susan Rebecca White: This novel tells the story of the modern south, or more specifically the story of an Atlanta family. The opening chapter tells the story of Louise taking her mother-in-law to her housekeeper's funeral. It ends up the beloved Sandy is actually a man and her mother-in-law exclaims something along the lines of "That black man helped me with my corset" and faints in front of the open casket. This beginning full of character development, comments on the modern south and, of course, this surprising twist bode well for the book. And, in part, the novel lived up to these expectations. I was torn between the depth (including Louise's struggle between her Southern expectations and the demands of the modern world) and the surprises which I enjoyed and some of the stereotypes which frustrated me. One plot line involving Louise's housekeeper Faye's daughter really turned me off and turned a good book into just a decent one.

Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot: I have read other books by Meg Cabot and enjoyed them so I was excited when I found this novel at the library. This book is along the lines of the typical light read that I enjoy. Kate, an HR rep, is forced by her evil boss to fire a well-loved employee. Chaos ensues when the employee than sues for wrongful termination. When hot lawyer Mitch enters the scene, things really get interesting. This book follows a somewhat predictable format of girl meets boy. Girl likes boy and lusts after him even though she thinks he is evil and couldn't possibly like her back. Lots of misunderstandings later, all works out :). One twist for this novel is Cabot's use of e-mails, IMs, a diary, notes on receipts and menus, etc., to tell the story. I found this annoying at first, but soon got sucked in. It was very easy to say "I'll just read this quick e-mail and then this menu and then..." and twenty pages later I'm still reading. A bit predictable, but overall a fun little romance.

Dear American Airlines by Jonathon Miles: This is definitely the most "literary" of this group of novels. Bennie Ford, a former poet and current translator, is stuck in the Chicago airport on his way to his estranged daughter's wedding. Frustrated with his life and current situation, Bennie sits down to write a scathing letter to American Airlines demanding a refund and telling his life story in the process. Intermingled with diatribes against American Airlines and airlines in general are eye-opening stories of Bennie's past including the story of his parents, a holocaust survivor and a schizophrenic artist. Also included are excerpts from the Polish novel he is currently translating. This novel has some powerful, beautifully described moments, but overall it was just a decent read for me. I think this is a well-written book, it just wasn't my favorite type of novel.

Theodora's Diary by Penny Cuilliford: A decent read really describes this novel best. It tells the story of Theodora through her diary. Theodora is a thirty-something year-old who is determined to find her calling and help minister to others. She hopes that keeping a diary will help her become more enlightened and deepen her faith. My main complaint about this book is that nothing much happens. I mean, things happen, but there is no big moment. Just lots of little every day moments in the life of a very ordinary person. Think a less exciting version of Bridget Jones' Diary and you've got this book. There is a follow-up book. If I find it, I won't run the other direction, but I'm not sure if I'll try to read it either.

Free Style
by Linda Nieves-Powell: Idalis is a thirty-five year old Latina secretary, mother of six year-old Junito, and recently separated from her husband of ten years Manny. She is unhappy with her present, unsure of the future and slightly obsessed with the past. This novel tells the tale of her search for happiness as she deals with life's questions: Will she be stuck as a secretary for the rest of her life? Is Manny the man she's meant to be with? Will she always have to deal with subtle racism everywhere she goes? Will there be a man who will stay true to her forever? A little painful at times in its realistic approach to life and love, but overall a decent read. I like a little fantasy in my reading, otherwise I would call this book great. I read to escape so too much realism turns me off. Sad, but true.

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