Jenn’s Review of Confessions: A Memoir by Jodie Rhodes

I just finished a relatively quick read, Confessions: A Memoir by Jodie Rhodes. This was one of the free books I received from Ebookfling. Well, I must say I’m glad it was a freebie, because I’m pretty sure I would have been disappointed if I had paid for it. I’m not saying it didn’t have its redeeming qualities, but it did little to keep my attention.

I’m sure my less than stellar review of this book will have absolutely no impact, so I’d like to post it. I want to make sure I’m not only posting about the books that I love…and I’m only one opinion.

Whereas the book started with what seemed to be an interesting concept, I got lost in her retelling of her numerous jobs and failed relationships ~ mostly with married men. It got confusing, especially when she would jump back and forth in her timeline. I also found myself getting frustrated when she would forebode her failure/bad decisions before she told her stories. I found myself speed reading just to finish the book. I got bored.

I guess I should find it endearing that she offered up opportunities for fledgling writers to submit their work to her as an editor, but I found it misplaced.

I am disappointed that I didn’t fully enjoy the book. The author seems like a really smart, strong and savvy business women…although I looked back and there was not one passage that I highlighted. That to me is a sign of a really good book, knowing I walked away taking a little something with me. On to my next read…

Jenn’s Review of the Great Gatsby

The cover of the first edition of The Great Ga...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am so glad that I reread The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald…and to think, this time I didn’t need Cliff Notes…and I chose to write about it vs. being forced to by my high school English teacher.

Whereas this book seemed to have a slow start for me, it wasn’t long before I was sucked into the characters’ strife. I remembered nothing of the plot from when I read it almost 20years ago, so I didn’t recognize that every single action taken by Gatsby was in a desperate attempt to win back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan.

I found it quite sad. Gatsby had built up this tragic love affair in his mind and let it perpetuate over 5years. There must have been moments…when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

Love was his motivation for his frantic climb up the rungs of the social ladder. Once he got to the top, countless strangers latched on to him and his new-found notoriety. They were just as eager to talk behind his back as they were to take advantage of his generosity…and free champagne.

F.Scott Fitzgerald was just as much an artist as he was an author. His elaborate vocabulary painted such a vivid picture that the reader feels they are in the midst of the story. I loved his description of Daisy…For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.

One can also palpate the critique of what he portrays as the financially privileged…with their shallowness and lack of social responsibility. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…

I found the narrator, Nick, to be a little on the weak side. He didn’t seem to have much substance at all. I’d imagine that the author did that on purpose…maybe he didn’t want to overshadow the other main characters. He was just there to create that bridge between Gatsby and the Buchanans.

I’d recommend that anyone who read it in high school reread it. It’s amazing how much more perspective you gain with life experience. If you never read it, it’s worth crossing it off your “classic” bucket list.

Jenn’s Review of A Game of Proof

I just finished reading A Game of Proof (The trials of Sarah Newby) a British legal thriller by Tim Vacary. I think I got this one for free from  ebookfling and I’m glad I read it. It really was a pretty good story.

Sarah Newby, the lead character, was a single teenaged mom who with sheer ambition and determination worked her way up to a be a criminal barrister in England. The downside is that she focused more on her career than her children; her relationships ultimately becoming very strained and fragile.

At the beginning of the story she is defending a likely guilty man accused of raping his girlfriend. Despite everyone’s unfavorable opinions of her profession, Sarah was there to disprove evidence provided…even if deep down she felt her client had committed the crime. There were plenty of questions she could raise about the evidence, her real problem was how to appeal to the jury, to get them to feel good about acquitting a man who not only looked liked a horrendous thug but probably was one…That was the problem. To question the evidence was easy, to gain the fury’s shymathy…not so easy. Not even slightly easy. Impossible, probably. Well, that’s what I’m paid to do.

The irony comes when shortly after this trial concludes her son Simon is charged with raping and murdering his girlfriend…and she finds that he is connected to the client she just defended. Many also suspect that he is responsible for a string of recent rapes and murders.

This book is very well written. The characters are very well-defined and you can palpate the tension portrayed. Sarah’s family is understandably separated by their own issues and their opinions of Simon’s guilt or innocence. Even Sarah can’t ignore the evidence that links her son to the crimes. However, she puts her reservations aside and decides to defend him…not knowing if that will help or hinder his case.

The book has many twists and turns that flowed nicely. I must say, I had my strong suspicions about the outcome of the story but I enjoyed reading it anyway; it’s the kind of fiction that I like to turn to after reading historical fiction or true crime books.

Even though I knew it was fiction, it still sparked my frustration with the legal system. As Sarah put it, you don’t ask clients if they’re innocent; you ask how they wish to plead. Then you present their case to the best of your ability. The search for truth is conducted by the court and the jury. I’m not sure how lawyers defend people they suspect (or know) are guilty. In this case, I guess it didn’t matter. Her job as a mom came first.

I’ve read that Tim Vacary has two more novels in the Sarah Newby series, A Fatal Verdict and Bold Counsel . I think they will both be on my reading list. The writing reminds me of James Pattersonwith a British flair. Great combination 😉