Monday, January 15, 2007

December Reviews

'The Boleyn Inheritance' by Philippa Gregory (Harper Collins)

I adore Philippa Gregory. Her research is always as flawless as her characters are flawed; her dialogue as crisp as her plots are tangled; and her setting as rich as court morality is poor. In The Boleyn Inheritance, we hear the different voices of three women: Jane Boleyn, middle-aged, the only survivor of the ambitious, ill-fated Boleyns; Anne of Cleves, a decent Dutch sort, imported as Queen but dethroned due to the King’s vanity; and Katherine Howard, the sweetly frivolous teen who ensnares him. This is truly “a novel drawn as tight as a lute string about a court ruled by the gallows”.

'Mercy' by Jodi Picoult (Hodder & Stoughton)

A popular Irish author (who will remain nameless) once wrote a heart-breaking novel about alcoholism – and a reviewer (whose name I don’t know, but if I did I would certainly mention it) didn’t read it and reviewed it as ‘forgettable froth’. I always think of this story when I read Jodi Picoult. Why? Well, she writes novels about men and women and children and relationships and love and pain, but she roots them in controversies and contentions so searingly topical that there’s nothing forgettable about them. Mercy is one such novel. If you like Picoult, it’s a must.

'Triptych' by Karin Slaughter (Century)

I hate to say it, but I’m going to. There’s no other way. This book is weird. Positioned as “a complex, multilayered story…[p]acked with body-bending switchbacks, searing psychological suspense and human emotions”, Triptych is certainly filled with tension – but it’s also filled with unpleasant surprises. For a start, I couldn’t keep track of the good guys and bad guys, I wasn’t crazy about either of the two obvious heroes and I found the fusion of personal drama with brutal homicide rather bizarre. Slaughter usually gets it right, but my advice to her on this opus is: please, pick a genre.

'White Guys' by Anthony Giardina (Random House)

This novel is rare, in that it features characters and settings so real and so colourful and so present as to make the reader believe that he or she is watching a film. Gritty, raw and honest, White Guys combines the desperately banished memories of Mystic River with the painful friendship of Sleepers. It tells the story of four friends from Winship, a shabby coastal town. Three marry and build respectable middle-class lives, while the fourth, Billy, is tough and violent and doomed. Tragedy follows and then, as Giardina planned when he wrote it, White Guys takes us “someplace unrecognizable”.

'The Innocent Man' by John Grisham (Century)

I was prepared to be disappointed by The Innocent Man, Grisham’s first work of non-fiction, because I expected something pallid – along the lines of the awful Bleachers. After all, Grisham has a superb fictional formula. Any deviations are disastrous. But this story surprised me. It was sufficiently interesting to masquerade as fiction, sufficiently bizarre to be unputdownable, sufficiently well-written to be typical Grisham, and superbly researched. My only regret is that The Innocent Man falls victim to the same malady as so many other works of true crime: too many characters. In fiction, you have the license to keep it simpler.

'Pocket Superdate' by Tracey Cox (Dorling Kindersley)

I understand that Tracey Cox is an international expert on all things sexy – from flirting to quickies; body language to dating. I understand that she’s a psychologist and best-selling author, so she’s no shrinking violet. And I acknowledge that, since she’s rather pretty, her techniques have probably worked for her in the past. But her book annoyed me. While it’s great as a guide to reading people in any context, I object in principle to a chapter on how to best position your feet so as to indicate, or pick up on, romantic interest. Serving suggestion: fun reading for teenage girls.


139887123 said...

On the other hand this one contains loads of tasty recipes because it is about cooking. Leave comment and don't forget to tell your friend about it =)

Barbara's Journey Toward Justice said...

May I suggest reading this Heartfelt Story. I read your blog and thought you may be interested in it. Here is something I wrote about it:Who And Where Is Dennis Fritz, You say after reading John Grisham's Wonderful Book "The Innocent man", Grisham's First non-fiction book. The Other Innocent Man hardly mentioned in "The Innocent Man" has his own compelling and fascinating story to tell in "Journey Toward Justice". John Grisham endorsed Dennis Fritz's Book on the Front Cover. Dennis Fritz wrote his Book Published by Seven Locks Press, to bring awareness about False Convictions, and The Death Penalty. "Journey Toward Justice" is a testimony to the Triumph of the Human Spirit and is a Stunning and Shocking Memoir. Dennis Fritz was wrongfully convicted of murder after a swift trail. The only thing that saved him from the Death Penalty was a lone vote from a juror. "The Innocent Man" by John Grisham is all about Ronnie Williamson, Dennis Fritz's was his co-defendant. Ronnie Williamson was sentenced to the Death Penalty. Both were exonerated after spending 12 years in prison. Both Freed by a simple DNA test, The real killer was one of the Prosecution's Key Witness. John Grisham's "The Innocent Man" tells half the story. Dennis Fritz's Story needs to be heard. Read about how he wrote hundreds of letters and appellate briefs in his own defense and immersed himself in an intense study of law. He was a school teacher and a ordinary man from Ada Oklahoma, whose wife was brutally murdered in 1975. On May 8, 1987 while raising his young daughter alone, he was put under arrest and on his way to jail on charges of rape and murder. Since then, it has been a long hard road filled with twist and turns. Dennis Fritz is now on his "Journey Toward Justice". He never blamed the Lord and soley relied on his faith in God to make it through. He waited for God's time and never gave up. said...

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