Monday, February 18, 2008

Several book reviews...

I'm woefully behind on my reviews. I've been sick so reading a lot, but reporting...not so much. Anyway, here goes:

Western Limit of the World by David Masiel

This is a seafaring novel, and one I never considered giving up on, although I'm not sure if I'd recommend it to anyone. The story goes along well enough, although the main character is decidedly unlikeable. I think that's intentional. You're supposed to love him anyway, but I had a hard time summoning up any kind of deep feelings for him whatsoever. I liked this book; I suppose the writing was what carried it through -- and yet, I'm still not really sure I totally followed the plotline. I have a vague uneasy feeling that I missed something somewhere along the way. David Masiel is a great writer (although the fact that he named one of the characters Maciel kind of annoyed me), but if you're looking for a great seafaring adventure, I guess I'd recommend "Voyage of the Narwhal" by Andrea Barrett first.

No Visible Horizon by Joshua Cooper Ramo

I used to be an air traffic controller and know a lot about aerobatic flying, so this book was interesting to me. Had to be, because I'm a notorious non-fiction hater. I'd like to be intelligent enough to enjoy non-fiction, but usually the lack of a running plotline makes me sigh and give up. This book, though, was great! I loved learning more about aeronautics and the kind of lives these people lead. Joshua Ramo does a great job of describing it, giving some backup research and even waxing philosophical about it. I really loved this one. There is some pretty technical information here, so if you don't know anything at all about aviation, you might be overcome with details. Also, in the version I read, the chapter headings drove me bananas. Instead of Chapter 1, Chapter 2 and so on, there would be blank page with a sentence on it, say "Bill Hunter was a great pilot". Then on the next page, a new chapter would start, beginning with said sentence - "Bill Hunter was a great pilot". Kind of drove me batty. I'd rather just see a simple Chapter 12 than to read the same silly sentence twice as some sort of a dividing sentence. I know, a silly little criticism, but it can't be helped.

Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carlson

This is a non-fiction self help book. Generally, I'm not of the "change your thoughts and you can change your life" vein....(as a therapist, I believe that sometimes it's the feelings or circumstances that precede the thoughts, and they are the things that sometimes need to change first)....but having said that, this book is worth a look. Basically, the gremlin is that little guy (or girl) who lives in your head and says mean things to you all day long, like "why can't you be more successful?" "are you ever going to lose that weight? you look awful" or "if you weren't such a failure, you'd be doing xyz". and so on. By externalizing this voice into the guise of a gremlin, Rick Carlson helps you begin to see it as your archenemy, something that you need to war and battle against. If this kind of gimmick works for you, it could be powerful. No question that most of us need to be more aware of the way we talk to ourselves and be a little nicer!! I know I do.

Things I Want My Daughters To Know by Elizabeth Noble

Guess what? I got this book FREE as an advance copy (it's not even OUT yet!) from the publisher because I'm a member of the Early Reviewers Group on Library Thing!! Isn't that cool? Anyway, I'm supposed to review it, and I don't have to give it a good review if I don't want to.

The story of a family with four daughters, the book begins with the mother's death. You get to read alternating passages about each of the four daughters and their (largely messed up) lives. The mother left letters and a diary with advice and lessons she wanted her daughters to know, also cleverly interspersed into the narrative. The writing was lovely, the characters well-drawn. I don't know if it was because I was reading this while my cousin was dying or not, but it was all very "Terms of Endearment" to me. If you like that sort of heart-wrenching, life-examining kind of work, it was really good. I'm afraid it was a bit maudlin for me, but an easy read and one that wasn't just entertaining but meaningful too. I'd read Elizabeth Noble again in a New York minute, but maybe I'd wait until I was in a better mood for this one!

1 comment:

Bookfool said...

I'm familiar with woeful behindness on book reviews. I'm about 6 or 7 reviews behind. I hope I don't forget everything I read, by the time I get to reviewing.