Tuesday, January 19, 2016

I Read Some Books

I was going to write a review of Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker, but then I looked at the list of all the other books I've read recently and have yet to review and decided to review them all at once. My book reviews are relatively short anyway, so this should work out well.

Today, along with Dear Mr. You, I'll take a look at three other books I recently read: Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer, Trust No One by Paul Cleave, and Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell.

Let's start with Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer. I really wanted to read this book for quite some time, leading me to buy it, forget that I had bought it, and then check it out from the library. I'm going to blame "mom brain" for that one. Netzer's debut novel is centered around an unusual family, the main character, Sunny, has been bald since birth and was fine being different until she became a mother, now she's playing the role of perfect blonde mom. Her husband, Maxon, is a brilliant astronaut, but needs her guidance to handle the simplest social interactions. Maxon's quirks and the fact that their son, Bubber (I know, right?) is autistic add more complications to her struggle of being "normal." During a car accident Sunny's wig comes off, and more changes come from that than everyone discovering that she is bald. The reader, goes through a journey with Sunny, learning about her past, and discovering her true feelings along with her. Shine Shine Shine is very emotional and intelligent but not at all what I expected. I don't know what I expected really, more "normal" I guess, as strange as that may sound. The books I enjoy most are ones that have a character that I connect with or at least like, this one didn't have either, but it was still a good read.

Next up, Trust No One by Paul Cleave. This was a book club pick a few months back, and the one I voted for that month (winner, winner). Isn't Paul Cleave a great name for a crime writer? In this book, Cleave's main character is a crime writer as well. Working under the pseudonym Henry Cutter, author Jerry Grey is working on his thirteenth book when he is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. As the novel goes back in forth in time and through Jerry's faulty memory, he's now in a nursing home and confessing to the crimes in his books. Fictional crimes, or are they? Oooooh. After several plot twists, the truth is revealed. I, for one, was not that surprised. Actually, I had guessed the ending already. That's always disappointing to me. I appreciate a good twist, but is it really a twist when you can predict the ending anyway? Sure, I second guessed my assumption, but only a little. I also felt there was a bit of a hole in the plot that I won't get into. While Trust No One did keep me hanging on enough that I finished it quickly, once again I didn't find any of the characters very likable. This book was a bit of a disappointment.

Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell is a story of two women, Lois and Chloe, with a unique connection. They were both abducted by the same man when they were younger, and kept in a cabin in the woods together. Lois, now in her 30s has written a novel under a false name about the abduction, Chloe is now a b-list actress. When a movie is being made of Lois' book, the totally expected happens. Chloe is cast in the film and after years apart, they are reconnected. Mitchell's novel is deep and psychological, with many layers of emotion and mystery. The story goes back and forth between the present and the past, and also between both Lois and Chloe, but this is less confusing than it may sound. As long as you pay attention to the chapter headings, it shouldn't be hard to follow. What is to follow is the "whys" of everything, but that's intended and is something the characters struggle with themselves. If you like a book that ties everything up into a nice little package at the end, this is not it. Pretty Is will leave you with questions, but you will have read a very interesting and thought provoking book. I could say so much about this one but I don't want to give away too much. Just read it.

Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker stands apart from the rest of the books in this post. It is not a novel; rather, it's a collection of short stories, essays, or letters as most descriptions call them. Mary Louise Parker's letters are addressed to different men she's encountered at various times in her life. If you don't recognize the name, Parker is an actress most known for her roles in Weeds, The West Wing, and Fried Green Tomatoes. I knew she was a good actress, but I was blown away at what a great writer she is. Her letters, some to real men, some fictional, are smart and witty, while also so full of emotion that they bring tears to your eyes. I enjoyed guessing which of her past boyfriends she was talking about and learned a lot about her past. The book seems to be chronological and a few of the earlier stories would get a "mature audiences" rating, so you've been warned. As the book goes on, her life changes with the birth of her son and the adoption of her daughter, and the way she writes about these experiences reflects her changing priorities and emotions. This is my favorite book of the ones listed here and that's saying a lot since I'm usually pretty critical of books written by celebrities. I'm not even a Mary Louise Parker fan really. I mean, she's a good actress, but I don't follow her work or anything and I quit watching Weeds cause I found it too raunchy. I picked up this book after reading an excerpt of one of the essays in a magazine or something. Do be aware though that this book contains quite a bit of foul language and some explicit situations.

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