I bought this on a whim when I was looking for some light, humorous reading. The book is a collection of Ebert's review columns from the early 2000s....moreI bought this on a whim when I was looking for some light, humorous reading. The book is a collection of Ebert's review columns from the early 2000s. As you can glean from the title, the reviews are all for particularly bad movies. I'm not a movie buff and haven't even seen probably 90% of the movies reviewed within, but I still enjoyed Ebert's insights and humor. (less)
This book, a portrait of the lives of Edwardian British servants, is interesting and informative. It's also not a difficult read and fairly short. I w...moreThis book, a portrait of the lives of Edwardian British servants, is interesting and informative. It's also not a difficult read and fairly short. I would almost say it is too short. While Maloney does pack her book with many details, such as work schedules and clothing costs, I was left wishing for a little more depth instead.(less)
I'm not a huge Ellen fan, although I do like her. She's hard not to like, actually. When I saw her book sitting on the new release shelf at the librar...moreI'm not a huge Ellen fan, although I do like her. She's hard not to like, actually. When I saw her book sitting on the new release shelf at the library, I was ambivalent about reading it until I flipped it over and read the back cover. Any book that can amuse me with just the back cover deserves my time, I thought.
The book itself meanders quite a bit and doesn't have a real point. I have no idea if her other books offer more personal insights, but this reads more like what you might hear if you could hang out with Ellen for a day or so and read her thoughts.
So while the book doesn't have much of a point, and I didn't finish it feeling like I know Ellen herself any better, it was lighthearted, warm, definitely funny, and enjoyable.(less)
It's been a long time since I have read Looking for God in Harry Potter, but I remember being excited by its insights into the Harry Potter series. Un...moreIt's been a long time since I have read Looking for God in Harry Potter, but I remember being excited by its insights into the Harry Potter series. Unfortunately, that book was published before the series ended and the last 2 or 3 books weren't yet written.
I had hoped that this updated edition would be just as insightful, but I was disappointed. My memory may be wrong, but How Harry Cast His Spell just doesn't seem to go into the same amount of detail about literary alchemy and symbolism.
While this book purports to be an update to Looking for God, the two have entirely different focuses. LfG focused on showing readers that J.K. Rowling had stuffed her series full of Christian imagery and thinking, and thus there was a greater focus on those symbols and structures. In this update, Granger takes that premise as a given and uses it as a jumping off point to prove that it is the reason that the series became so popular.
Granger's logic seems to be that Harry Potter has Christian imagery, Harry Potter is popular, thus the Christian imagery is the reason for the popularity. Frankly, while I might agree with Granger about the way the Christian themes whisper to masses, I don't think that is a provable premise. Thus, I found the focus of Looking for God much more interesting; it allowed me to learn about Rowling's story crafting while drawing my own conclusions about it's place in the grand scheme of things.
This book was still enjoyable and interesting, especially the chapter on book 7, it just didn't live up to my (perhaps too) high expectations. (less)
I check up on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog occasionally, so I decided to grab the book and give it a read even if I was a little late to the p...moreI check up on the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books blog occasionally, so I decided to grab the book and give it a read even if I was a little late to the party. I should have written this review sooner after reading, when the details were fresh in my mind. It's too late for that now, unfortunately, so this will be a very general review.
It was never clear to me whether this book was trying to present romance novels as a serious literary interest or to mock some of the more over-used tropes of the genre. Perhaps it was both.
It's not bad to poke fun at something we love. And just because something is mockable doesn't mean it can't also be taken seriously. However, if you want to present something for serious consideration, then it is probably best to keep the mocking to a minimum. This book didn't do that and felt disjointed because of it. The tone switches were abrupt, arbitrary, and often confusing.
That said, the parts of the book that mocked romance tropes ranged from chuckle-worthy to hilarious. (One part nearly had me in tears from laughing.) People who don't lurk around romance review blogs might miss some of the in-jokes, but just about any romance reader will be able to recognize and appreciate the stereotypes and tropes discussed. The sections of literary criticism and analysis were sometimes insightful and always interesting.
If this one book had been split into two, both would have been enjoyable for different reasons. Smashed together as it was, the authors almost seemed liked they were undermining themselves--but they were having a great time doing so.
I want to mention one final criticism, though not of the book itself. The formatting for the ebook was absolutely terrible. The book used quite a few tables, which were all practically unreadable, and all of the illustrations were too small to view. I only mention this because if you are interested in picking this one up, I would suggest going with a hard copy--especially since the ebook price was relatively high.(less)
I usually stay away from books published by bloggers, or at least their memoirs. It's been my experience that these types of novels are retreads of st...moreI usually stay away from books published by bloggers, or at least their memoirs. It's been my experience that these types of novels are retreads of stories already long-published online. However, since I hadn't heard of Birdie Jaworski or her blog, and the book was being offered for free on the Kindle, I decided to give this one a go.
I'm not sure what the author's goal with this book was, unless it was simply to tell a few humorous stories about life as an Avon Lady. In that, it mostly succeeded, although much of the humor was lost on me. I was constantly wondering how any sane person would do things like to go to strip clubs, skulk around backyards, and leap over fences in lieu of using a gate, in the name of selling Avon. I can see how it might have been funny to some people. It's just that this type of look-how-free-spirited-I-am nonsense tends to grate on my old, cynical nerves.
If the author's goal was to show connections with the people in her life, then the book failed fairly miserably. Every character, even her own children, were merely side-characters, coming and going as needed to tell a story and never given any depth outside the author's own thoughts about them. In other words, they were merely actors in her play. It's a shame because some of these people could have been fascinating if treated properly.
The book was not a bad read, and even had some humorous moments. Unfortunately it left me with the feeling that the most interesting stories were the ones not being told.
If I was a hipster, I would pretend that I came across this book on my own, probably at an indie bookstore or maybe even the Goodwill. But no, just li...moreIf I was a hipster, I would pretend that I came across this book on my own, probably at an indie bookstore or maybe even the Goodwill. But no, just like everyone else and their grandmothers, I was led to this book because I've been watching Downton Abbey.
Margaret Powell was forced into service by her circumstances even though she would have rather pursued an education. Beginning as the lowest of the servants, the kitchen maid, and eventually rising to cook, Powell stayed in service for years before publishing her memoir in 1970.
Powell writes as if she's speaking. Reading feels like sitting down to listen to an aunt relive distant memories and stories. This style can be engaging, as Powell writes in a clear, no-nonsense voice. (Just reading about her duties left me feeling exhausted.) Other times the narration is frustrating, leaving you wishing for more detail, context, and closure than you receive.
If, like me, Downton Abbey is your only point of reference, Below Stairs might not satisfy your drama quotient. However, if you would like a glimpse at what real life was like for these women (and men), then I would definitely recommend this book.(less)