Oh dear. My 20 Books of Summer challenge is not going to plan. Is there some kind of book blogger punishment if you can’t even complete your own challenge??
An ear infection (mine) and a stabbed hand (the hubbie’s) have put paid to a lot of reading time this summer. So far I’ve read 12 of my 20. Which leaves me 8 to read in a mere 26 days. I don’t want to be pessimistic but I don’t think it’s gonna happen!
In order to maximise reading time, my reviews are going to get shorter. So apologies to all who were looking forward to my in depth character analysis and narrative structure thesis on Hollywood Wives, there just aren’t enough hours in the day……
No 709 Hollywood Wives by Jackie Collins
There really isn’t much to say about Hollywood Wives. What did I expect?
Thinly drawn characters? Check.
Badly written sex scenes? Yep.
Women who say things like, ‘she remembered the day well, because he had climaxed all over her new Sonia Rykiel skirt’? Well, maybe not…..
What I also didn’t expect was for the first half of the book to be so, well, boring. Jackie has a lot of characters to introduce us to and it takes a long time for the book to get going. By the time I’d met a myriad of characters including the pneumatic movie star trying to be taken seriously, the good looking aging actor trying to balance his affairs with his failing movies and the young stud, trying to build his Hollywood career whilst hiding his nefarious past I was gasping for a bit of drama (pardon the pun). It is there eventually, murder, death, sex and a rather marvellous case of vaginismus – but thirty years on, it’s all a bit tame. There is a serial killer plot line that comes good at the ridiculous end, but takes up way too much time at the start and quite a few totally superfluous plot lines and characters that distract from the main action. Had I sneaked my Mum’s copy and read this at 16, around the time I was reading Flowers in the Attic, I’m sure I would have loved its soapy distractions, but now? Not so much.
Read On: iBooks
Number Read: 38
Number Remaining: 708
No 708 Black Watch by Gregory Burke
I’ve reviewed plays before and it’s a tough one, because, obviously, plays are written to be performed, not read. If ever there was a play that needed to be seen, not read, it is Black Watch. I know, because you can watch the entire original production on You Tube.
Do yourself a favour, watch it.
Black Watch is based on interviews with soldiers who have fought in this historic squadron after a tour of Iraq. The play is both an indictment of the foreign policy that sent these men on such a meaningless mission and it is a celebration and a tribute to the familial, almost tribal aspect of military life. It could have been a clichéd anti-war manifesto, but the humour, horror and emotive strength of this piece of work elevates it to a different league. Burke does not sentimentalise these soldiers, rather he honours them, while not honouring the cause they were fighting for. At the same time lovable and crude, the soldiers make it clear that they are fighting for each other and nothing more. A mingling of physical performance, poetry and even dance in a play about tough Scottish soldiers really shouldn’t have worked, but Burke and the National Theatre of Scotland created a piece that reminds us of what it is to be human, even in the midst of war.
Read On: Book
Number Read: 39
Number Remaining: 707
No 707 Wonder by RJ Palacio
I bought this book with no knowledge of what it was other than the story of a boy with a disfigured face. I have since seen it described as Young Adult Fiction, pre-teen Fiction, or a Book to Make Grown Men Cry. But let’s face it – Wonder is very much a children’s book which has been deftly marketed to reach a wider audience. Now, I have no problem with people reading YA or kids books. Read what you like, I don’t care. But I don’t normally read YA or children’s books and while this is a lovely, heart warming, emotional tale that it is really hard to criticise, it had little to tell me. August Pullman is going to middle school for the first time which is harder for him than most kids due to his craniofacial abnormality. Wonder tells the story of Auggie’s first year at school, the hardships and bullying alongside the moments of friendship and acceptance.
It is told from several different viewpoints (which all sound pretty similar) and as you go along with its irresistible pull you are reminded that it is better to be kind, you shouldn’t judge people by how they look and that we are all just trying to fit in and be loved. It builds to an uplifting, moving finale which I’m sure has made grown men cry. It made me cry. Bad guys got their comeuppance, Auggie got his happy ending (for now) and mostly everyone was lovely. It’s like A Prayer for Owen Meany written for kids. I can see why it’s a phenomenon, why there have been 2 spin-off books and why it’s being made into a film. It’s a book that is hard to criticise, so what I will say is that while I look forward to reading it to the twins when they are older, at 42, Wonder contains life lessons that I’ve already learned and learned again. The hard way.
Read On: Kindle
Number Read: 40
Number Remaining: 706
It may be going slow, but the Challenge continues with Black Water Rising by Attica Locke.