Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Malarkey: In Which Bookfool Begins to Describe Her Week of Reading

I managed to squeeze in 4 books, last week--2 awful, 2 fun. As much as I would have loved to set everything else besides blogging aside, that was a "no can do". But, still . . . I'll summarize what I read, starting with the first two books and continuing with the other two in a separate post:

1. When Lightning Strikes by Kristin Hannah - My first book by Hannah and probably not the best choice, but it cost me a mere quarter in the library sale and kept hollering at me till I gave in. Labeled simply "fiction", it's definitely romance with graphic scenes that are not family friendly. Copyrighted 1994/370 pages.

Alaina Costanza ("Lainie" - unfortunately, one of the most overused heroine nicknames in romantic fiction) has grown jaded and no longer assumes someday she'll find the man of her dreams. Lainie ignores the noisy storm outside and types away at her next novel to preoccupy herself while her daughter is away. When lightning strikes her computer, she is thrown 100 years backward in time, into the setting of her own Western novel, where she discovers that the evil villain and setting are not quite right. The villain has a tiny bit of heart, the hero never does quite save the day, and she's not waking up from the very vivid dream that has sucked her back in time (or so she assumes). When Lainie realizes the truth, she must figure out how to return to the future and her child.

First comment: No idea where they came up with that cover. A porch swing and a sunny spring day? Weird. Lainie gets zapped into the desert, kidnapped by her villain, dragged to the hideout, and they fight with each other until he decides to give in to his desire. Oh, geez, not that, again. I skipped the sex scenes and focused on what I liked best. Unfortunately, the book had a decent premise -- that the heroine's novel was based on her previous life, back when she was named Emily and married to Killian (the ranger-turned-bad-guy of Lainie's novel). The idea was that Lainie's heart's desire pulled her back in time. Somehow, Lainie must figure out how to bring Killian to the future in order to return to her daughter and remain with her true love. But, the story never quite came together.

Most of the way through the book I kept thinking the same thing: Why doesn't she ask him for a change of clothing and the opportunity to bathe? I was so bent on that issue (with everyone sweating in the desert) that it overshadowed the romance-- which was weak, at best. Also, there was a wardrobe concern. Lainie just kept on wearing her bright red sweater, all the way through the novel. Nobody gave her a less conspicuous shirt, even after the bank robbery, as they were pursued on horseback by the law. Between that and never asking for a bar of soap? Well, I just didn't buy the story.

Rating: Nyeh

2. Night Train by Martin Amis - Police procedural, copyright 1997

According to a reviewer at Amazon, Night Train was based on a poem, Sunny Prestatyn. I've never read the poem, so I can't comment upon that, other than to say that all of the parallels noted do ring a bell as far as the book's content.

Night Train tells about the investigation of Jennifer Rockwell's suicide. Rockwell was physically perfect, intelligent, happy, apparently a much-loved woman with a charmed life. Her suicide is baffling, but forensic tests prove that there are no other possibilities. Her death is complicated by the fact that Jennifer was the daughter of a police chief. Detective Mike Hoolihan (a female) is assigned the job of clearing Jennifer's case. And, Mike has her own connection to Jennifer, who helped Mike through a rough detoxification from alcohol. Mike tells the story of her investigation into Jennifer's death.

I bought Night Train on a whim when, once again, I couldn't find a copy of London Fields (the one Amis book I'm interested in reading). I read about half of Night Train and set it aside, last year. This week, I decided I needed to finish the book so I can get rid of it. And, that's about how I feel about it. Finished. Glad to get rid of it. Although, I must say that the characters were so vividly drawn that a 3-month gap between reading the first half and the last was no problem at all.

Rating: Uncommonly depressing skipster with some graphic scenes.

But, don't worry . . . things improve, soon!!

Coming up next:
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson and
The Fabulous Saga of Alexander Botts and the Earthworm Tractor by William Hazlett Upson

Stay tuned!


  1. Welcome back!!! I was thrilled to see you post today.

    Boy, that Kristin Hannah book sounds like a real dud. I kept laughing as I read your book description for it. You're right. The cover doesn't fit at all!

    Wow. Vicksburg is in the 80s today?!! Lucky ducks. We're still in the 30s with drizzly rain.

    Take care, Nancy.

  2. It's too bad that half your reading was blah but boy, am I glad you're back!


  3. Even the titles of the next two books are better! Can't wait to hear about them. :)

    I swear, I'm gonna give myself a week for just'll be like heaven.

  4. I just finished On the Edge of the Sea of Darkness too. Can't wait to see what you think. Have you read any of Joshilyn Jackson's books? I keep seeing things on the internet about her and her books. :)

  5. Yoinks! Hope the next 2 were better.

  6. Hi Les!

    Thanks! I enjoyed my week away from posting, but missed everyone.

    I can't say I'd recommend the Kristin Hannah book and yet I didn't *hate* it. There were just too many bizarre little plot problems and . . . this is weird . . . I kept mentally changing her dialogue. How weird is that? It just struck me as wrong somehow, so I'd just imagine what I would have written and, of course, that occasionally massively improved the story. LOL

    Yes, Vicksburg is in the 80's. Yuck. I don't call that lucky. 70's are my upper limit. I like boots and woolies; I hate heat. You can have it!!! :)

    Hi CJ!

    Thanks! Awww, how sweet.

    Well, the first couple of books sucked, but the second half of the week really made up for two bad books in a row. LOL I'm still working on that post. I'm weary, today. But, the next two are going to be big thumbs up reads. :)


    I know, aren't those terrific titles? Coming up. I'm moving a wee bit slowly, today.

    You should definitely give yourself a reading week. You deserve it. :)


    Really? Cool! You'll see what I have to say, very soon. I can tell you I really enjoyed it, though.

    Nope, I haven't yet read anything by Jackson, but I've seen loads of positive reviews and someone at Estella's Revenge did a terrific interview of her, recently. Check out the archives of Estella (there's a link in my sidebar).


    The next two were much better. I'm off to finish up my reviews. :)

  7. What could be more cutting edge than the Kristin Hannah book? Even if the premise does figure prominently in my daydreams occasionally. No wonder it keeps being written.

    Next up: The good books?

  8. LOL! Carrie, you're so silly!

    I do think the "man who seems evil and grows a big heart" is way overdone. But, some people love it and romance sells like hotcakes. My opinion: happily ever after must be done with great care to succeed. But that's just me. Picky, picky. :)

    I just posted the reviews of the two good ones!

  9. I never have understood the whole bad boy attraction thing, I admit. I've always liked the good guys best. I'm sorry these two books weren't much good. I'm looking forward to reading your post about the two books you did like.

  10. Wendy,

    Neither have I. I was into clean-cut, nerdy types, myself. In fact, I married one. :)

  11. Uncommonly depressing skipster with some graphic scenes.

    That's how I'd describe his newest book The House of Meeting. He must be really good at depressing/ graphic. I'd be nervous about the one you are looking for.

    I'm another who doesn't get the bad boy attraction. There haven't been many, even literary, that attract me. I blame it on Gilbert Blythe, my first book crush.

  12. Raidergirl,

    Thanks for mentioning that. I will definitely reconsider London Fields. Graphic and depressing are soooo not me. I like sweetness and light.

    I had to look up Gilbert Blythe. Oh!!! Of course. I can see why he'd influence you in that way. I've yet to read the book(s), but I loved the TV series, eons ago. I guess I should break that book out and read it. I'm so in need of sweet, uplifting books. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  13. I just assume that everyone knows Anne and Gilbert! They are certainly light and sweet and uplifting, but they have some sadder parts. LM was not a happy woman ans struggled with finding joy.

  14. RG,

    I read up on Anne and Gilbert at Wikipedia. It's been so long since that series that I'm not even sure how exactly what I viewed; I just remember I loved the characters. I had no idea the series went so far into her adulthood.

  15. Glad to see you back Nancy. 4 books in 1 week is pretty good going. It's a pity the whole 4 were not winners. Did you not think of quitting and starting another book ?

  16. Gavin,

    I actually set aside both of those books, at some point. Night Train was dreary, but it was a quick read. I set it down about halfway through (in December, I believe) and decided to read that last half simply to get it over with. Sometimes I do that when I've spent good money on a book; I just can't bear to not finish.

    When Lightning Strikes . . . I started it and thought, "Hmm, not great writing." But, it suffered from the opposite problem to a sagging middle -- sagging beginning and ending. Just as I was ready to abandon it, interesting things began to happen. And, then it fell apart. By that time, though, I was 3/4 of the way through and I came to the same conclusion . . . might as well finish. I'm trying not to keep reading books that don't grab me, this year, so hopefully I won't do a repeat of that kind of reading! :)

  17. "Rating: Nyeh"

    I love this designation! I may have to use it myself someday.


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