Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Makedown

Oh the humanity. What can I say about a book that isn’t even good enough to wipe the bottom of a backwoods camper after eating fish tacos? I am not someone who endorses or supports the burning or banning of any book. Or so I thought. Now, after reading this book, The Makedown by Gitty Daneshvari, I will reluctantly agree that if someone were freezing to death, it would probably be acceptable to burn the pages of this particular tome for warmth.

I had been browsing my Twitter page one afternoon when I saw a tweet about a movie being made out of a book. This book being the one I’m reviewing now of course. Twitter has a way of making you feel like you almost know someone—or rather it makes it a little more possible to be in contact with someone in an industry you never would have had otherwise. So I figured I’d get the book and check it out, maybe tweet the author afterwards, try a little networking. Who knows. Okay, I know, it’s a long shot, but what the heck, didn’t have anything to lose.

After finally reaching the end of this awful waste of tree flesh, I clearly could not tweet about it directly to the author or publisher. Would be rather pointless. Someone had already financed this piece of crap for a motion picture and besides, I’m a lone voice among thousands. An unknown, meaningless voice. (Though I will admit, my trashing the novel on amazon.com did get one commenter’s panties in a pinch!)

That’s another thing: A plethora of 5 star ratings on amazon.com. Frankly, it shook my belief in a fair reader rating system. No way did all those people like this book! Either they were morons, or I was, or…. Or the folks leaving reviews were personal friends of the author, publisher, film company, or being paid by someone. I really just could not fathom such praise for an object that some old horse gave its life for in order to create glue for the bindings!

By this point, you have either abandoned this review, went to check amazon.com or are bristling at me, wanting me to get one with actually talking about the story. So here’s the gist of the story.
Anna Norton was an outcast loser while growing up. Overweight, bad hair, skin covered in acne, crooked teeth—the works. She escapes to New York as an adult and gets a job working for a woman with a catering company who is a complete bitch and a control freak. And not a quirky, endearing sort of control freak either. I’m talking a full on crazy nazi control bitch. She’s insulting, she’s mean. She isn’t someone an average person would want to know. At least I hope not!

This woman is Anna’s “FG”. That would be Fairy Godmother. It is with this FG that Anna becomes a “FF”. Former fatty that is. (Isn’t the author so very clever??)

After finally becoming the knock out woman Anna always wanted to be, she meets herself a man who is everything a perfect man should be: Great looking, successful, confident. What’s the problem then? Come on, you must know. Clearly he’s too good for Anna. Her “inner fatty” is too insecure and is frightened of him abandoning her. Then like a black light snapping off over a plate of pot brownies, Anna devises a scheme to keep her man.

Anna runs full steam ahead with her plan to make her new boyfriend unappealing and slovenly. She secretly switches out his protein bars for chocolate bars. She makes him depressed, she gets him to stop going to the gym. She buys entire new wardrobes of his clothing in bigger sizes so he won’t notice that he’s chubbing up. The guy misses a couple protein bars and suddenly he’s making pillow forts in the living room and inhaling whole pizzas.

The characters in this book are selfish, shallow, short-sighted, self-involved, and just plain pathetic. They are intentionally mean and manipulative and have zero endearing qualities. The author reaches for humor but falls flat on her face into a pile of horse manure. I don’t want to be melodramatic, but this thing was full of bigotry, hatred and stereotypes. My jaw had fallen so far open in shock that the bone bruised my knee. I just could not believe the stuff I was reading. On top of all the shallowness, the author even felt a need to throw in political attacks as a little icing on her ignorance cake. Her mother, the racist Republican and how it’s better to be a good, vegetarian Democrat.

Perhaps this novel was written as an in joke for the movie industry. Sort of like that movie America’s Sweethearts with John Cusack and Julia Roberts. I’m sure it was a lot funnier to people who work in Hollywood. Maybe this awful, horrible book is supposed to be like that. Benefit of the doubt. I’m trying.

If you’re looking for fun, entertaining, lighthearted chick lit, then I strongly suggest the book Notes From the Backseat. Now that was a good bit of reading!

As for The Makedown it doesn’t even warrant a single quill. It’s been entirely plucked.

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Three words can describe this book: Over too soon! I admit, it was a few pages before I got used to the style of this particular work, which was done in letters and telegrams. At first, it does somewhat confuse me and removes me from the flow of the story, but as I got used to it, I became more and more involved in this novel and couldn't put it down. It was like these characters were very real people and I wanted to know them personally, become friends with them and invite them over for tea.

I am so enormously impressed with this book that I immediately went to the internet to search for contact info for the author so that I might beg for a sequel. I must know *********** successfully! How the book about ***************** finally turned out! I want to know if *************have more children! And I absolutely must know about Isola's motorcycle race!

Then I saw the memorial page for Mary Ann Shaffer and my heart dropped. What a horrible loss. I began tearing up, knowing her loss was possibly the loss of all these wonderful and eccentric people. I hope Annie Barrows (Shaffer's niece) might be persuaded to pick up the torch and keep it burning?

This novel had me laughing as well as crying. Such a delicate weaving of joy and tragedy. It truly can't end here, there is so much more these characters can offer! Once you immerse yourself in the style of the writing you can connect with each character in such a way that isn't always readily available in other fiction. In a way, the fact that it was fiction fell away. This novel shares tragedy and horror alongside incredible hope. It is not difficult to imagine Guernsey or to see the homes and landscape in your mind's eye.

The story begins at the end of WWII in London where a single woman named Juliet Ashton is trying to figure out what to write about next. During the war years, she wrote a humorous column under the pen name "Izzy Bickerstaff", trying to keep the spirits of the war-torn area, up. She writes her publisher, Sidney, that she's tired of the same ol' subject and wants to branch out. He encourages her to follow whatever she must to write her story. Mixed in with these missives, she writes her best friend in Scotland, a fellow author in Australia, and finally the inhabitants of Guernsey themselves.

The spark of interest in Guernsey starts when a resident of the island by the name of Dawsey Adams sends Juliet a letter regarding the author Charles Lamb. You see, Dawsey had possession of a book that had Juliet's name written in it as it had belonged to her previously, and he wanted to know if there were any other books about or by Charles Lamb he should read. He also asks her, if she would be so kind, to find the books and forward them on since the libraries and such in Guernsey were sadly lacking.

There begins an informative and amusing account of living in Guernsey, especially during the German occupation through the course of the war.

There are eccentric characters, nosy folks, shy men, and bold women living in Guernsey and one of the heroines is Elizabeth. Bit by bit her outline is painted in with vibrant colors from each correspondent.

The letters and telegrams are full of charm and wit as well suspense, causing me to firmly become embroiled with the lives and residents of Guernsey; most especially the members of the literary club.

I was torn about giving this novel a rating of 4 quills or 5 due to the disjointed and slow beginning. Truth be told, I almost put this novel down because of it. But it absolutely picked up and I am so glad I didn't give up. In the end, my desire for MORE of these characters has bumped my rating to a solid 5 quills.

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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hello stranger

It's been such a very long time since I've written a review--too long! I've read so many books, some great and some horrid, and I need to get back in the saddle again. There are books I read long ago and never wrote reviews about, so I plan on tackling that as well. I just finished reading Catcher in the Rye for the first time. Took me long enough! I've also read some Young Adult scifi fantasy books that caught my attention; though not a sparkling vampire in the bunch!

Anyway, soon I will have organized my list of books to get posted up here and I will start linking like mad. Stay tuned for I have returned! Click Here to Read More..