In my honestly humble opinion; thoughts on this week’s reads.

December 23, 2010 § 2 Comments

Attention all you Boston dwellers:  the Borders at the Atrium in Brookline is going out of business.  Yes, this means I bought 4 books for $0.40 each.  And no, I did not buy that epic Twilight Team Jacob t-shirt for a buck because my husband said he would disown me.

I won’t tell you how much we spent in our book splurge, but I will tell you we got some great finds.

First one:  Eat This, Not That by the editors at Men’sHealth.

Finally, a book that tells me what to eat and what not to eat.  I know I should be learning about nutrition and whatnot, but I could really care less about what a good carb is compared to a bad carb and how if you mix proteins and carbs with certain vegetables you reach the trifecta dinner menu.  This book is different.  Sure, it tells you how to snack and why something is bad and something else is good, but ultimately it tells me what to eat and what not to eat.

We bought the supermarket book, the one that tells me what to buy and what not to buy.  It goes through almost every item you can find in the store and tells you which one is better for you.  Like drinks and chips and salad dressings and Chinese sauces.  It’s great because I can of course eat the same things but I now know which brand is the better and healthier buy.  Seriously, if you’re looking for something to help either lose weight or become healthy or at the very least feel better about what you’ve purchased, this is a great book.

Second:  If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? by Melissa Kantor
Yes, I read young adult/juvenile fiction.  Everyone needs a guilty pleasure, right?

This is one of the best YA books I’ve read in a very long time.  This is one of the books I got for under a dollar, and I thought for sure Kantor would be mimicking Meg Cabot in one of those awful ugly-duckling-girl-gets-the-popular-guy-but-then-realizes-true-love-is-the-guy-that’s-her-best-friend plotlines, and on reading the blurb, it would definitely seem that way (not to mention the horrible title), but Kantor has created this YA masterpiece that puts Meg Cabot to shame–although, it doesn’t take a lot to do that.

The book is about a girl whose mother has died and father has remarried a horrible woman with 2 twin daughters.  Though the title may be terrible, Kantor successfully uses the Cinderella metaphor throughout the book in a way that highlights the young girl’s insecurities and struggles about accepting this new marriage and new family.  Kantor doesn’t do a terribly written knockoff of the fairy tale–like Alex Flinn does with Beastly–but instead uses Cinderella as the one “person” the protagonist Lucy identifies with.  She does make friends with some popular girls and ends up with the dreamiest guy in the high school, and in the end she does end up with someone else (of course this has to happen, I mean, it’s YA chick lit) but I like how it’s never Kantor’s main focus.  Instead, the book is centered on Lucy’s homecoming, where she identifies that this new woman and her two stepsiblings may not be all that terrible.

It seems as if the book has no real climax or no real pivotal turning point, but that’s only if you read it with the mindset of teen love as the plotline.  The climax comes when Lucy finally has a come to Jesus talk with her father where she gets it through his head that as a dad, he kinda sucks at that moment.  The denouement slides down nicely with the five of them becoming a family, a definitive single unit, and Kantor ties the whole book up nicely with Lucy dumping the prom king and going off with the “art freak” while still remaining true to herself, her family, and her new found friends.

It’s cliche, but what do you expect from YA Lit?  I enjoyed it immensely.

The Third One:  The Writing Class by Jincy Willett.

This. Book. Is. Terrible.

I’m not quite to the end, so expect another blog posting dedicated to the terribleness of this book, but it is such a huge disappointment.  22 year old Amy Gallup peaked too early in her writing career and is now a 60 year old overweight washed up has-been hermit who has all the cynicism the world could ever know.  It’s a real downer.  And to top it off, I’m fairly certain it’s supposed to be a suspense/thriller book, but all I’ve felt was pure boredom.  The story of Gallup doesn’t come until halfway through the book, and the “crazy” things that happen to the writing group by some “psycho” are idiotic pranks and by the time we find one of the class members is dead with his head cut off (spoiler alert!) I could really care less.  And the thing is, it took me reading the scene 3 times to realize he had his head cut off. 3 times!  It wasn’t just that scene, either.  Most scenes with some sort of uproar or out of the ordinary happenings makes me do a double take and backtrack–sometimes a few pages–to reread and figure out what exactly just happened.  Willett takes the show-don’t-tell to the extreme, and not in a good way.

I’ve got a few other good ones left in the stack though, so I’m not letting Willett’s novel drag me down.  But I’m glad I only spent $0.82 on it.


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