Sunday, February 27, 2011

Book 11( 2011): How Starbucks Saved My Life

How Starbucks Saved my Life is a memoir written by Michael Gates Gill, a former advertising exec who falls from his high pedestal in the wealthy world.

He was a Vice President at, according to him, the most well known and respected advertising agency in the world. He was fired in his early 60s. He lived off his savings but was essentially broke. He had an affair with a younger woman that he managed to impregnate so his wife leaves him and his 4 adult children are furious with him. So he's broke, alone and unemployed.

He's treating himself to a latte in a Starbucks and manages to get hired at counter help, just as a lowly barista. He works for a young African- American woman on a crew where he is the minority.

If all the information he presents about Starbucks as a company I am truly impressed and more than happy to pay $5 for my coffees there. This sounds a like an amazing company; I'll be researching them because I want to work there, too!

Other than Starbucks being amazing, I felt this story was.... okay. I hate judging someone's life so what I will complain about is the stilted dialogue writing. It was very false and fake. Dialogue did not make the people come to life; it made them sound flat and uninteresting. Gill's dialogue writing skills need improving. It was rough to read and I found I was skimming the dialogue.

I was also unimpressed with his repeated name dropping, over and over again. in his former life, according to him, he met US Presidents, had tea with Queen Elizabeth, worked with Lee Iaccoca and many more... it was just one famous person after another he "used" to know. In his fall from grace, this humbling he thought he was learning didn't sound so learned since he still felt the need to interject famous folks as part of his life lessons. That didn't fly well with me.

I read his story was going to be made into a movie with Tom Hanks. I will see it and hope Hanks can change my opinion. (265 pages)


Friday, February 25, 2011

Book 10 (2011) Pigs in Heaven

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver is the sequel to The Bean Trees and adds more deminsion to the story of Turtle and Taylor.

Turtle and Taylor are on vacation at Hoover Dam and rescue a trapped man, which propels them onto an episode of Oprah. This brief stint of fame was enough for someone to figure out that Turtle was really a missing Cherokee Indiana baby.

When a representative of the Cherokee Nation arrives at Taylor and Jax (her live in zen boyfriend) house to see and to say the Nation could win legal custody of Turtle, Taylor takes her and flees. She lives on the lam, very unsuccessfully.

Meanwhile, Taylor's mama, Alice, leaves her husband and tries to help Taylor. Finally Alice goes to see a long lost cousin who, ironically, lives on the Nation. There Alice meets Cash, and then the story gets even more far-fetched.

I certainly do enjoy Kingsolver's writing style and I like the voice she gives to Taylor but in this book Taylor is, believe it or not, mainly a peripheral character. I didn't like Anna Fourkiller, the Cherokee Nation representative. I was upset with the idea that the tribe could just up and take Turtle from Taylor (I've no idea how much truth there is to ti). I think my personal biases interfered because I work with kids like this all the time. It was an interesting enough story but I think The Beans Trees was much better. (352 pgs)


Monday, February 21, 2011

Book 9 (2011): Tell No One

In this action packed, twisty and turny thriller, Harlan Coben still reveals secrets all the way to the last page, making this the true definition of a "page turner." Tell No One is awesome.

Dr. Beck is working in an inner city clinic, still never having gotten over the death of his wife, 8 years earlier. But a strange email makes him wonder if the love of his life could actually still be alive, somewhere, somehow. He grabs that thread and suddenly a world of bad guys, FBI, friends and enemies all come together, and everything starts to unravel.

This was a great read, really quick but really good. I often forget how much I like Coben's stand alone novels. (He writes a series of thriller with a main character called Myron Bolitar that I'm not a huge fan of). I love his books and wish he would write more independent thrillers. Sometimes it's great to read something fun and easy.

Great plot and I love all the shockers.

(370 pgs)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Book 8 (2011): The Bean Trees

I've tried to tell people about this book, The Bean Trees, several times and it seems that no matter what I say, it sounds dumb. It wasn't a dumb book at all. I thought it was fun, sensitive, creative, and just an overall great read.

Taylor spent most of her teenage years growing up in small town Kentucky trying to not get pregnant. She doesn't and then soon after graduation she takes off for an adventure. she decides to just drive west, in her falling apart car.

Taylor is smart, a little naive, and a tiny bit backward, but she's blunt and too the point, and is totally no nonsense type of person. While having a dinner break on her drive, somewhere in the middle of Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma a woman gives her a baby, just hands her over. For some reason she keeps the baby and calls her Turtle.

Taylor and Turtle continue on and the car finally breaks down in New Mexico. They meet a whole cast of characters and start a new life.

I think this is a great story. Yes, there are some unbelievable moments, but it has great flow and it is a smart and interesting story, a little different. Nothing wrong with different.

I like Kingsolver's writing style and I'm working on the sequel to this one, Pigs in Heaven, and then I want to read a non Turtle/ Taylor book by Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible.

(pgs. 232)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book 7 (2011): Psychopath

Psychopath by Keith Ablow is part of a series with a psychiatrist, Dr. Frank Clevenger.

In this thriller novel Clevenger teams with the FBI to track a serial killer. Clevenger is also adjusting to his role of parent to a boy, Billy, who is a troubled teen that he adopt from a previous case. Add to the mix that Clevenger has a relationship with an FBI agent during this high profile case, and you have many twists and turns.

I didn't particularly enjoy this novel. I didn't think it was all that creative and it was tiring to re-read excerpts of the letters that "appeared" in the newspaper since we, as readers, we there when the characters authored them. Ugh! Repetition. I didn't think the adoption of Billy was believable, and while I am certainly one who is willing to suspend disbelief because it's fiction, as least lead me down a path to make me WANT to suspend disbelief. The 'girlfriend' FBI agent is as screwed up as the rest of characters and isn't really likable.

I also felt unsatisfied by the ending of the novel. I won't be reading any more books by this author; thrill me they did not. (341 pages)