Friday, December 31, 2010

Cutting for Stone [Verghese]

Book: Cutting for Stone
Author: Abraham Verghese

Review: "Cutting For Stone" is an award winning novel by Dr. Abraham Verghese. When an Indian nun in Ethiopia dies in childbirth (producing twin sons), the presumed father, a British surgeon, leaves the country. The children are brought up by doctors at the hospital. Told from the perspective of one of the twins, we learn about his biological parents, the parents that raised him as well as his journey from birth to his mid-20s.

This book is on many top lists so I had high hopes. At it's core-it's a beautifully written soap opera with a lush Ethiopian backdrop, political undercurrents with medicine weaved in its pages. Where it falters are the overly detailed scenes (I enjoyed learning more about medicine but devoting multiple pages on medical procedures was overkill) and my inability to care about the main characters. While many characters were developed, I felt I was always on the periphery of "really" understanding them. When the only likable character dies of leukemia, I thought to myself "oh, that's sad" but it didn't evoke any real emotion. The story also moves extremely slowly, and if I was not reading this book for book club, it probably would have taken me awhile to get through it.

While I wouldn't personally recommend this book to anyone, I am still giving it a B+ as it is beautifully written.

Grade: B+

Love The One You're With [Giffin]

Book: Love The One You're With
Author: Emily Giffin

An unlikeable woman tries to justify an emotional affair with an ex-boyfriend. Uncomfortable to read at times, I was hoping for her husband to kick her to the curb at the end of this book, but alas, as the title suggests, he forgives her bad behavior and they stay together.  I found the ending of the book unrealistic-if a chance encounter with an ex causes one to question their marriage and husband, they shouldn't be married in the first place.

Grade: 3/5

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Undomestic Goddess [Kinsella]

Book: The Undomestic Goddess
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Review: After making a multi-million dollar error at her firm, young workaholic attorney Samantha Sweeting has a breakdown and ends up accepting a job as a housekeeper in the country. The catch? Samantha can barely make toast, much less iron, do laundry or cook gourmet meals. As Samantha settles into her new position (complete with weekends off), an opportunity arises which forces Samantha to choose between her new stress free life and the law career she spent years building.

Like Kinsella's other books, this is quick, light and funny. I was concerned that Samantha would be written just like Becky Brandon (heroine from the 'Shopaholic' series) but Kinsella did a good job shaping her as a different person. I was disappointed by the ending of the book and found it completely unrealistic. Otherwise, a fun read.

Grade: B-

Mini Shopaholic [Kinsella]

Book: Mini Shopaholic
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Review: In the latest installment of Kinsella's popular 'Shopaholic' series, Rebecca Brandon tries to manage her 'spirited' two year old daughter Minnie while trying to plan a surprise birthday party for her husband, Luke. The catch: Becky is on a budget. Light and easy, fans of Becky will enjoy her latest antics, which include a secret personal shopping service and convincing her husband to put their daughter on a weekly allowance (which she overdraws on). If you are hoping to see Becky mature after the birth of her daughter, you are out of luck. She continues to lie to the people around her (albeit with good intentions), spend too much and justify her behavior but it is still a fun ride.

Grade: B-