2 stars

A is for The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Let me start by saying I love, love, LOVE Zafón‘s The Shadow of the Wind. It’s an all-time favorite and a must-read for book lovers. So with all that book baggage, picture me cracking open The Angel’s Game with mucho expectations. Now picture me disappointed when it fell mucho short.

Problemo Uno: Zafon used a key player from Shadow of the Wind and his role just didn’t make sense here.

Problemo Dos: Creepy kinda super-fantastical stuff which really isn’t my deal.

Problemo Tres: I just didn’t enjoy it.

So beware. But if you like creepy kinda super-fantastical stuff and you haven’t read and fallen in love with The Shadow of the Wind, then The Angel’s Game may be your cup of tea.

Rating: 2 stars
Pages: 544
Genre: Fiction

M is for The Monk Downstairs by Tim Farrington

After kicking off the year with Loving Frank, love is still in the air in the reading room as I turn to Tim Farrington’s The Monk Downstairs. As a New York Times Notable Book for 2006, my hopes were a bit high for this book; unfortunately, there was some love lost after it.

Farrington’s story is the classic boy meets girl, with a twist. Let’s see if I can fill you all in on this variation. Boy is Michael Christopher, a monk of 20 years. Boy is disillusioned by his faith and leaves the monastic life.

Enter girl, Rebecca.

Girl is a single mother needing to rent out her mother-in-law apartment for extra income. Her ex is a pot-smoking, surfer boy who never grew up.

Boy rents apartment from girl.

They begin a sweet, but awkward friendship. Supporting characters come and go while boy and girl struggle with their respective relationships with God and one another.

Boy pulls away, girl pulls away.

Drama. Drama. Drama.

Crisis hits and boy has to step up so girl can step back and help her mother. And, at this point, you can probably guess what will happen.

At the end of this semi-chick-lit novel, I enjoyed some of the moments, but overall did not have any real connection or care for the characters. Even though Farrington delivered the happy ending, I closed the book dissatisfied.

Rating: 2 stars
Pages: 320
Genre: Fiction

Week 15: Why I’m Like This – Cynthia Kaplan

It was going to be a bit of a crazy week; and I knew this going into week 15. So, I took some time to find what I hoped would be a perfect book to serve as a welcome distraction to all the Have-to, Must-do, Can-you-also, and We-really-need-you-to responsibilities of the week. When I saw USA Today’s “Knee-slapping hilarious.” on the back of WHY I’M LIKE THIS: TRUE STORIES by Cynthia Kaplan, I was sold.

WHY I’M LIKE THIS chronicles milestone moments in Kaplan’s life that have shaped her into the woman she is today: her loss of virginity and the succession of Mr. Wrongs who followed until she met her husband, the relationships she shared with her grandparents and the impact their deaths had on her, and her struggle with infertility. I felt a connection with Kaplan in the opening stories. Her love of the arts, the admiration she felt for her grandparents, and challenges with dating felt familiar. I mean, I almost felt a sisterly bond with her when I read:


“I gave the guy a second chance but it ended anyway when I came to the realization that his grammatical errors would eventually drive me out of my gourd.”

A perfect match, right?




For whatever reason, Kaplan couldn’t sustain my interest. Perhaps it had something to do with the busy week I mentioned above. The reality is, WHY I’M LIKE THIS was easier to put down than it was to pick up. I really believe that timing–just like with meeting the right guy, landing the perfect job, or even nabbing the perfect parking spot (a shout out to Tepper!)–can be crucial with how we take to the books we pick. Where we are and what’s going on in our own worlds can certainly impact our impressions. But I also know that a really good book will keep you turning the pages, no matter what’s going on.


So, while I liked a few passages and loved the title of these stories, at the end of the day WHY I’M LIKE THIS was just okay.


Rating: 2 stars

Genre: Memoir

Pages: 240

Week 4: The Last Report of the Miracles at Little No Horse – Louise Erdrich

This week’s entry was picked for me as my February Book Club’s selection. Admittedly, it actually took me two weeks to read it, but finishing it up this week, I am counting it now. For those that know me well, I considered heavily (probably too much) if I should count this or not since I didn’t read this in an actual week and then I was quickly reminded that I had many more mundane things I could be fretting over and moved on.

So this is my third Erdrich undertaking, the first being The Master Butchers Singing Club (a literary marvel and masterpiece and all that good stuff that comes when you read something remarkable). Second, I tackled her first novel, Love Medicine, and fumbled big-time. I couldn’t get through it. The third and most current is THE LAST REPORT ON THE MIRACLES AT LITTLE NO HORSE, which falls somewhere between the two. And, just so you know, here on out I will refer to it as LITTLE NO HORSE because the title, while wonderful is just too much to type and I have too many acronyms I have to deal with in my 8-5 job, so TLROTMALNH was a headache-inducing proposition and so quickly off the blog posting page it falls.

All of my Erdrich readings have been due to my book club and I am not sure I would have picked her up otherwise. I love, love, LOVED The Master Butchers Singing Club and went into LITTLE NO HORSE with much anticipation, it being a National Book Award finalist and all. But unfortunately, the love affair faded rather quickly.

There is no doubt that Erdrich has crafted a truly unique story with LITTLE NO HORSE. She’s an extremely talented writer. To create a full community of feuding Ojibwe Indian families, their difficult life on desolate land and their desire for counsel and guidance from a dedicated priest (Father Modeste) is an achievement. She crafts a story of major transgressions, dark violence and closely held secrets. One where thought I would be quick to turn the page and slow to put down, but that wasn’t the case. Certainly, there were moments that were pretty spectacular and then there were more times than I expected that I found the book to drag on and, dare I say it?, where I was a little bit bored.

This is not a book to consume quickly. It takes a bit of time, focus and quiet. The sentence structure is long, the list of characters complex and, at times, it’s hard to follow. At least, that was my experience. And I don’t officially award books with prestigious honors or even seals; so who am I to say? I just read some of them and write about them on this little blog that a small contention of folks follow. So at the end of the day read it at your own risk and decide for yourself. And if you do that, let me know what you think.

Rating: 2 stars
Pages: 361
Genre: Fiction