Posts Tagged ‘meh’

17th January
2014
written by Steph
Well, it got the NO part right, at least

Well, it got the NO part right, at least

This book is a great example of why I probably shouldn’t let other people’s reviews have too much sway when it comes to choosing my next read. Truthfully, despite having heard a fair amount about this book when it was first released, I never had any interest in it, and I’m not afraid to say that this decision was based entirely on the stupid spelling of the title alone. That may be superficial, but I feel ok about it because, come on. I’m one of those people who uses full words and sentences (with punctuation, even!) when I text or tweet, so there was no way I was ever going to get behind a book named "NOS4A2" on my own. So you can imagine my surprise when, reading through end of year best of lists on GoodReads, this book kept popping up again and again. Even more shocking, it had garnered a 4+ star rating on the site, and most reviewers were positively slavering over it. The near unanimous praise to high heavens piqued my interest and I assumed that the book must be much cleverer than its dopey title implied. (Also, there was some speculation in the Tournament of Books forum prior to the actual roster being released that this book might make the final cut.) (more…)
5th January
2012
written by Steph
So, first question: how can a book about SEX be so, well, boring? I mean, the word “sex” alone is so incendiary, that not only am I sure that seeing it boldly placed there in that first sentence immediately grabbed your attention, but I can also only imagine the deluge of weirdo spam this post is going to incur. So you’d think that a book that essentially revolves entirely around sex (even when people aren’t having sex, it’s still all about sex) would be cause sweaty palms and racing pules, or at the very least an occasional cocked eyebrow and maybe a knowing smirk, right? And yet, no! In spite of a rather inspired premise, this book can best be described as “MEHsmerizing”, that is a book the inspires intense feelings of apathy and disinterest in its reader despite ostensibly scintillating subject matter. [And yes, I just coined that term, but I think it’s going to take off in a big way…] And just what is this neat-o premise of which I speak? Essentially, it is this: an enigmatic drama teacher moves to a small suburban town and decides that the local high school will put on a production of the classic Greek comedy Lysistrata – a play in which all the women of Greece decide to abstain from sex until their men agree to end the Peloponnesian War. In an uncanny twist of events, as production on the play advances the women of the town are slowly overtaken by an enchantment that also causes them to spurn the advances of their husbands, lovers, and boyfriends. As sex lives become a thing of the past, tensions rise and soon the whole town is thrown into upheaval. It’s only a matter of time before someone reaches their breaking point, and when they do, things are going to get ugly… (more…)
8th August
2011
written by Steph

Don’t you just hate it when you have this huge backlog of books to review for you blog (like, we’re talking months behind here…) and you’re starting to feel like you’re making forward progress and then wham! You find yourself having to write about a book that was so totally mediocre (if inoffensive) that you kind of no longer have anything to say about it anymore. Because let me tell you, it’s not that the intervening months between my having finished Matrimony and actually writing about it have been unkind to the book so much as they have been indifferent. As in, if it were not for the notes I hastily jotted down when I finished it, I might not be able to say anything about it at all, because it has not really endured in my memory. I am thinking that we may have to retitle the book “Mehtrimony”, because that’s pretty much how I’m feeling about this book. I kid, I kid. I just mean this book is kind of forgettable. [Also, please don’t comment and say that you never have a backlog of books to review for your blog because I will both: a) hate you, and b) not believe you.] (more…)
13th April
2011
written by Steph

I’m not pointing any fingers at this book in particular but I have decided to suspend my Indiespensible subscription for the time being. While I love the idea of receiving a beautiful book (along with extra goodies!) every 6 weeks, at $40 per installment I really want to be loving the books I am getting. And truth be told, the books I’ve read via Indiespensible thus far I’ve just found mediocre. Of the three I’ve read, all of them (including this one) are 3.5/5 reads… which isn’t terrible—I certainly don’t regret my time spent with these books—but they aren’t exactly books that are setting my world on fire. The Fates Will Find Their Way is a book I probably wouldn’t have read if not for Indiespensible. The premise—a girl goes missing from a small neighborhood, and the local boys are irrevocably shaken by this, making up stories about her possible futures well into middle age—while intriguing, was undeniably reminiscent to Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. I really liked TVS so any book put up against it is going to have some stiff competition. However, Indiespensible sent it my way and all of the pre-pub reviews had been really positive, so I gave it a go, but I have to say, I wound up feeling very ambivalent about this book. (more…)
1st November
2010
written by Steph

Room is one of those books that set the book blogging world on fire. It was first released in the UK before being released Stateside, and there didn’t seem to be a single British bookblogger that I followed who didn’t review this book. Even more remarkable, everyone who read it seemed to love it! When the book hit the U.S., responses were the same – readers talked about how tense and riveting the book was, how the book urged them to keep reading and lent itself to being consumed in a single sitting. I couldn’t remember the last book that made me want to devour it in an 8 to 10-hour reading jag, so I was so excited to get my hands on this one. Of course, so were about 100 other patrons at my local library, so it wasn’t until about a week ago that I finally got the chance to sit down with Room and see what the fuss was all about. I’m sure anyone reading this has already heard of the book, so giving a short summary is probably pretty redundant, but just in case you’ve been living under a rock (or in Room), the basic gist is that the novel is narrated by Jack, a young boy who has just turned five. Jack and his mother live in a single-room, and for Jack, this space constitutes his entire world. He has never stepped a foot outside and has no understanding that anything exists beyond Room’s four walls; the duo’s only visitor is a menacing man that Jack calls “Old Nick”.  Through Jack, we learn how it is that his mother and he came to be in Room and how they have adapted in order to survive… As well as what Jack’s mother will risk in order for them to escape their prison in the hopes of living a normal life. (more…)
25th November
2009
written by Steph

I first read a review of this book a few months ago on Write Meg! and left a comment saying it sounded like a fun read, and one I’d consider taking a peek at myself in the future.  Enter, Nicole, publicist extraordinaire who then contacted me asking if I would like a free copy of Only Milo to review on our site.  I said yes (thanks, Nicole!), and here we are! November has been an abysmal month for me in terms of reading.  We’ve been really busy with traveling and work, and that certainly hasn’t helped me with turning the pages, but moreover I think I’ve just kind of been on reading burn out.  It’s a terrible thing when it happens, but I’ve come to terms with the fact that voracious reader that I am, there are still going to be times when my reading ebbs and I just need to take a break from books.  It’s never a divorce, mind you, just a temporary separation while I recuperate and reenergize before diving back into the endless ocean of books. So after taking THREE WEEKS to read a single book (Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde, if you must know, and no, it didn’t take that long because I wasn’t enjoying it, but rather the aforementioned reading slump is squarely to blame, and yes, I did really like it a good deal, but unfortunately that’s all I can say for now and you’ll have to wait for the Jan issue of BookPage to hear more of my thoughts on the matter, but basically if you are already a longstanding fan of Fforde then it pretty much follows that you will like this one too…), I decided it was time to turn my attention to something that would be a quick and easy read. (more…)
23rd August
2009
written by Tony

I don’t get this movie. I mean, I get it, I just don’t get the allure. Steph and I watched this for the first time the other day and we were both kind of left flat. I am aware that this is probably a pretty unpopular opinion since I know very well that there are a lot of Hepburn fans out there and that this movie is well loved by many. Before I get in to why this movie was so uninspiring, I’ll detail the plot for those of you who have not seen this movie (or saw but didn’t pay attention). Hepburn plays an escort (essentially, Capote was much more explicit in his novel about what she did for a living, but her assumed name is Holly Golightly — you be the judge) who is living out some sort of selfish delusion that involves her taking little to no responsibility for her life or her actions, so much so that she even abandons her patrons mid-date (despite this being her bread and butter) and has yet to unpack her apartment after one year of occupancy. George Peppard plays Paul, who is essentially a kept man. His wealthy benefactress comes and goes throughout the movie and everyone does a good job dancing around the fact that he is a gigolo. Mickey Rooney is the blaring Asian stereotype, Mr. Yunioshi, who lives upstairs. I guess I thought the 60s were more enlightened or something, but putting Rooney into yellow face just astounded me. Patently offensive may not be the right turn of phrase, but it’s where I’m left at the end of the day. (more…)
20th August
2009
written by Steph
Well, at least the one thing I'm sure of is that I think the cover is pretty...

Well, at least the one thing I'm sure of is that I think the cover is pretty...

One of the perks of interning at BookPage is that about once a month we have to purge old ARCs in order to make room for all the new ones that keep flooding in. The actual purging process is not actually that fun (since it involves a lot of heavy lifting), BUT when I get put in charge of this (as I often am, as it’s a job no one really wants to do), it does mean that I get to rescue anything that looks good. Which means that any books that we have doubles of or that didn’t get covered in the relevant month’s issue, I can take home with me! I don’t always avail myself of this as we all know I have plenty of books to read as it is, but that is how I came across this copy of Fall by Colin McAdam (the book was published in late June). I’d never heard of the author before (or really anything about this title), but I was intrigued by the pretty cover art and the premise didn’t sound half bad either.

The back cover tells us that this will be the story of two boys, Neil & Julius, who are roommates at an elite boarding school. Neil is awkward and a bit of a loner, while Julius is dashing and popular, but despite their differences, they forge an unlikely friendship. Both are in love with a girl named Fall (though only one of them is dating her… I’ll leave it to you to guess which one), who winds up throwing their worlds out of orbit when she winds up missing. Her disappearance causes the cracks to appear in their friendship, while the two boys attempt to deal with their loss in their own ways.

(more…)

29th May
2009
written by Steph
Zzzzzz

Zzzzzz

I try really hard to give every book a fair chance before forsaking it, because I really am loathe to leave books unfinished.  But sometimes you just have to acknowledge that a book isn’t doing it for you and part ways.  One thing I really liked in Nancy Pearl’s Booklust series is the sentiment that it’s all well and good to give a book a fair shot, but there’s no point sticking it out to the bitter end if indeed the end will be bitter for you:
“One of my strongest-held beliefs is that no one should ever finish a book that they’re not enjoying, no matter how popular or well-reviewed the book is.  Believe me, nobody is going to get any points in heaven by slogging their way through a book they aren’t enjoying but think they ought to read.”
I feel I gave The Theory of Clouds a good run before deciding to put it down for good.  Rather than subscribing to the Rule of Fifty, I gave this book 75 pages before concluding it just wasn’t for me.  I had hoped for a book suffused with elegant poetry and thoughtful contemplation, but instead, the writing often felt trite and staid.  The back cover suggested the book would revolve around a Japanese designer living in Paris who has developed a fascination with clouds.  He hires a young librarian to track down a fabled tome that is rumored to exist but has never been seen, all the while bringing her up to speed with the history of cloudgazing as well as how clouds have fascinated and stimulated men over the years.  I suppose this synopsis isn’t really disingenuous, but I just felt myself bogged down in fairly uninteresting history a good portion of the time, and was failing to see any kind of coherent plot develop. The balance between non-fiction and fiction just felt too heavily weighted towards the former rather than the latter.  Maybe I just don’t care enough about clouds for them to serve as anything more than metaphors, or maybe contemporary French writing isn’t really my thing (I will say that the story did have a French vibe, which is fitting given the author)… The few sex scenes that were randomly scattered throughout the pages I read felt cerebral yet crude, and it seemed like they were thrown in there just because it’s French and how could the book not include some erotic tidbits? In the end, this just didn’t have enough of a plot to keep me interested, and neither the writing nor the ideas were sufficiently captivating to me either.  This book kind of gave me a similar vibe to The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, but without the thought-provoking philosophy and transcendence.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t say this is a terrible book, just that it wasn’t a good fit for me.  It’s a shame this didn’t live up to its gorgeous cover! Question: Do you feel compelled to finish every book you start, or are you willing to abandon ship?  How do you go about deciding to leave a book unfinished?
29th March
2009
written by Tony
I'll unleash your force... What?

I'll unleash your force... What?

The Force Unleashed was touted as a game that would vastly change how video games are played, all based on the power of the PS3 (and Xbox 360, but that's an even more stupid name than Playstation, so it is therefore invalid). The initial press certainly made this game seem revolutionary and like it would be the shot in the arm that the action  genre on the PS3 needed. When it was finally released it found a luke-warm (see what I did there? Luke… Skywalker. Yeah?) reception and I think overall this was justifiable. (more…)
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