Review: The Client

The Client
The Client by John Grisham

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I feel *horrible* for giving Grisham just one star, but Goodreads says to do it if you didn’t like it! I simply could not get into this book and could only get about halfway through before I realized, after speaking with several other reading friends, that life is too short and that there are too many – much BETTER – books to spend my limited time on this earth with, many written by Grisham himself. This is the first Grisham book I have not enjoyed. The writing wasn’t terrible or anything of that nature, but I found the whole story a bit ridiculous.

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Review: The Pelican Brief

The Pelican Brief
The Pelican Brief by John Grisham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my kind of book! This isn’t the traditional legal procedural I’ve come to expect from Grisham, but it’s one of his earliest and one of his best that I’ve read so far. I loved the interplay between Washington politics, New Orleans sleuthing, and a heavy touch of my more favorite genres, the espionage thriller. Loved it!

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Review: Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door 2013: The Travel Skills Handbook

Rick Steves
Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door 2013: The Travel Skills Handbook by Rick Steves

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Europe Through the Back Door” contains excellent tips and advice presented in a logical fashion with funny, humorous anecdotes. An appendix with destination and idea suggestions is included. I always enjoy Rick’s writing, and this book has given me the confidence to investigate solo travel abroad.

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Review: "The Obamas" by Jodi Kantor

The ObamasThe Obamas by Jodi Kantor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was painted largely in the media as an anti-Obama book, particularly towards the first lady. And towards the beginning, this seemed to be the case. However, I found myself barely able put this book down and believe that, at the same time she wasn’t sugarcoating their shortcomings and isolation, she was also being quite fair to the couple. She talked about their triumphs and failures, supported throughout with many interviews and a great deal of research. Overall, “The Obamas” is a really great and fast read that I would recommend to anyone interested in the Obamas, the Presidency, or White House life.

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Review: "I Got This" by Jennifer Hudson

I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me DownI Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down by Jennifer K. Hudson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Jennifer Hudson – her voice, her confidence, her personality – almost everything I know or think I know about her. And for the most part, I liked this book. Some readers have commented that a large part of the book was just a Weight Watchers ad, but one has to understand that this has been a big part of her life now for the last several years and that this has been a huge and positive change in her life. It is understandable that she would devote a large part of a memoir to this.

One thing I found interesting is how little she spoke of her family’s tragedy. She spoke of them in abstract, and I get the impression she was trying to make this more of a positive book, and maybe she is not yet ready to share those thoughts or might still be processing them (which is totally understandable).

I did feel that “Jenny Kate” (as she describes herself in various instances throughout the book) wrote more passionately about her weight loss than the other aspects of her life, which were covered in the first half of her book. I felt that she spoke of many of those other aspects of her life (except for her family, who she obviously loves and cares for and considers a major influence in her life) rather weakly. I felt that I was being told, not shown, what she was feeling. As a matter of opinion, it felt more like a rundown or timeline than what these events truly meant to her.

All of that being said, Jennifer Hudson has an interesting story and is an inspiration to many and could be be to even more if they choose to read her story and find themselves in her message and experience. I am proud of Jennifer and her accomplishments and can’t wait to see what her future brings!

3.5/5 stars

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Review: "Lone Wolf" by Jodi Picoult

Lone WolfLone Wolf by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have quite a few thoughts on this book… For starters, this book takes me back to Picoult’s earlier bestseller, “My Sister’s Keeper” – yet another teenage girl getting involved in a lawsuit in the medical world. I saw lots of parallels between “Lone Wolf” and “My Sister’s Keeper” and began to think that Picoult may be running out of ideas. (Not so fast!!) I also saw a pattern that was actually quite annoying, even though I enjoyed it in her other books – how every section (the book shifts perspective from each of the main characters, which I happen to like and which aids the flow of her books quite well) ends on such a pat statement. (And just like [insert metaphor here], [insert dramatic closing here].) It’s like, OK, we know you have a flare for the dramatic, but come on…

Despite some of these (IMHO) somewhat minor shortcomings, I did particularly like this book because of the ending (if you choose to read the book or have already read it, I think you will agree) and the stylistic changes (“dirty” pages with illustrations of nature and paw prints) when the book shifted to Luke’s perspective. Knowing Picoult, this was something she was adamant about with the publisher. Furthermore, I really liked how Picoult weaved Luke’s narration of wolves into the rest of the novel to drive the plot forward – good storytelling right there!!

More importantly, the subject matter and writing was obviously compelling enough for me to finish this book in less than a week (which is OMG for me). Because, who knows? We never know when we might be faced with the decision of “when to pull the plug.” It’s a decision I hope I never have to make, and that’s why it’s interesting that Picoult has made an interesting conflict between a man’s daughter and son to fight for the privilege of making that decision. (This is, of course, a boiled down look at it; for more info about the storyline, just google the book.)

I straddled between three and four stars for “Lone Wolf,” for some of the reasons I mentioned above and others. However, I decided to go with four because of the ending, which was not as abrupt and much more fitting to the story than that of “My Sister’s Keeper.” Perhaps it was unfair of me to compare the two as they are separate works, but the similarities were, in several instances, quite striking.

It’s not Picoult’s best work, but it is still a good, quick read that will leave you wondering and questioning… a talent Picoult is rightfully known for.

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Review: "The Abstinence Teacher" by Tom Perrotta

The Abstinence TeacherThe Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought the culture war was a bit contrived and the author didn’t do as much with it as he certainly could have… Furthermore, I felt that the usage of stereotypes in this book made sense in some aspects but didn’t lend a “special” quality to this book. That being said, this book had excellent dialogue and a fast pace, and was a very quick and easy read. Did it make me think much? Not so much… As a more liberal person, I think I was already on board with the author’s agenda; as such, those who are more conservative may have a problem with this book and the way it looks at sexuality.

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