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.

Harry Potter

Complete set of the seven books of the Harry P...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So my son’s second grade teacher encouraged us to have him read beyond his level…to challenge him. So from Miss Daisy Is Crazy! we are jumping right into the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone  by J.K. Rowling will be his first book without pictures. Now my son absolutely loves to read…he has even gotten in trouble at school lately for reading when he is supposed to be doing other things…but I’m curious to see if this will hold his attention. His eyes got very wide when he saw how many pages were in the book. He seemed more excited about the fact that the binding was so big that it fit the whole title. Even though this series hasn’t interested me in the past, I am very tempted to read it along with him. That way we can talk about the chapters and I can see if he is truly absorbing the information. Who knows, I might get sucked in like the rest of the Harry Potter lovers!!

Has your child read Harry Potter yet? If so, how old was he/she when they read it? Did it hold their attention? Is second grade too young to start this series? I guess I’ll find out soon 😉

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 😉

Book of the Month – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

BBB has decided to choose a classic for September, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m pretty sure most of us read this in high school but I know that I am excited to see if 20 years will add some perspective. It should also be a different experience this time as I would be reading it for pleasure and not as a means to pass 11th Grade English. Mr Schlegel would be proud ;-).

The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–” Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.

Guido’s comparison of The Hunger Games: Book vs. the Movie

I would love to introduce Guido as our youngest book reviewer on BBB. Guido is just 10 years old! His mother, an English teacher and one of my best friends from college, finally let him read The Hunger Games this summer. Of course, after reading the book he wanted to go see the movie. As a way to persuade his mom, he offered to write a compare/contrast essay for the book vs. the movie. He knew which strings to pull and it obviously worked as his mom let him watch the movie and here is his wonderful review! Way to go Guido!!

We all know that a lot of books turn into movies. Some books that get turned into movies are famous like Harry Potter, Twilight, and the Hunger Games. Books get turned into movies by how good they are. Movies usually change some parts, to give them a kick in action. A kick in action gets good reviews and more fans for the book and the movie. In the book The Hunger Games, the districts of Panem, 1 boy and 1 girl will go into an arena. For a fight to the death with 23 dead and one victor, the government forces the kids to die. The book is better but the movie is also really good.

The book has some differences from the movie. In the book Katniss Everdeen gets a mockingjay pin from a girl named Madge, the daughter of Mayor Undereese. This is very important because when Katniss goes into the hunger games her mockingjay pin becomes her symbol, the symbol of rebellion. Further, the book doesn’t show the game makers (the people who control the Hunger Games) because they didn’t need to. They didn’t need to because the book was Katniss Everdeen’s thoughts and it kept on saying what will the game makers do next. Furthermore, the book goes WAY slower than the movie so you get attached to a little 12 year old girl named Rue who is like Katniss’s little sister Prim. Rue is really important to the story because Katniss and her get bonding time and when Rue dies Katniss covers and decorates her in flowers. It adds a bond between the districts.

The movie changed some things from the book. In the movie Katniss gets her pin in a black market in her district, and gives it to her sister Prim. However in the book she gets it from a girl named Madge. In addition, they showed game makers to show that people ran the hunger games. They did this because in the movie it wasn’t Katniss’s thoughts but yet in the book it was. To show people that people run the hunger games. Further, the movie goes faster so you really don’t get as attached to anyone like Rue, so when she dies we’re not really as sad as we are in the book.

In both the book and the movie. Katniss gets a mocking jay pin. And it is really important because in later books District 13 uses it as a sign of rebellion. In addition, Katniss is called “Katniss Everdeen girl on fire”. It is very important because that’s how people notice her and pay attention so she can get sponsors and she becomes a victor. Furthermore, the Peeta, Katniss, Gale love triangle is in both. It’s important because Katniss can survive with the excuse of she loves Peeta and Gale is important in later books because he kisses her and protects her.

In conclusion, the book is better than the movie. The book has more action and adventure. The book has a better flow to the groove of the hunger games. Books are often better than the movie. It’s always better because you experience more from the book than the movie.

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What do you think? Do you agree with Guido? I sure do!