Tag Archives: borrow it

Book Report – Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson

13 Aug

I think a lot of people will agree with me, summertime is the best time for light reads. I think we’re conditioned for this by the public school system. After being forced to plow our way through thick, dry volumes throughout the school year, we naturally begin to crave something a little more irreverent. For a lot of “grown-ups” like myself, this can boil down to romance novels or fluffy “beach reads”… but for me, it means only one thing: Young Adult fiction.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of truly horrible YA novels out there. I don’t care how well-written it is, I won’t go near the Gossip Girl books, even though I kind of love the show. And although I’m generally against censorship, I do think every copy of Twilight (and all its sequels) should be rounded up and burned straight to hell. But then, there are some novels that are classified as YA, and I can’t really figure out why. To be honest, it seems like the major criteria for calling these books YA is their lack of explicit sexual intercourse. Such are the books of Maureen Johnson.

image via barnesandnoble.com

image via barnesandnoble.com

I put off reading Suite Scarlett for a good, long time, because the plot summary sounded kind of… stupid. Essentially, it’s about a family (the Martins) that owns and lives in a failing hotel in New York. Upon reaching a certain age, each Martin child is given a particular room in the hotel that they, exclusively, are responsible for maintaining. A dramatic guest comes to stay in the room that Scarlett Martin is responsible for, and a slew of wacky hijinks ensue. Oh yeah, and there’s a boy.

With Maureen Johnson books, there’s always a boy.

There are a few drawbacks to Maureen Johnson’s stories in general. For example, they tend to rely a little heavily on the sappy loveydove plot lines. I cringe a little whenever her protagonists get kissed… and they always get kissed… because the descriptions of said kissing tend to go on just a leeeeettle too long for my taste. Also, the conflicts are usually pretty tame (unrequited crushes, family squabbles, etc.), so her books aren’t always page-turners. Lastly… they don’t ever really have endings. Her books just sort of stop.

All of this being said, I definitely still recommend Maureen Johnson’s books. Mostly because she’s funny, and she’s not shy about provocative subject matter (read The Bermudez Triangle for a little taste of that). And while I don’t like every element of her style, her writing is certainly good enough to get me through to the end of the book. Essentially what it comes down to with Suite Scarlett is that I enjoyed reading it… I just wouldn’t read it again. But the other great thing about YA novels? They tend to be cheap, so if even you hate this one, at least you’re only out about 10 bucks, instead of 20 or 30.

Still, 10 bucks is 10 bucks, so I say: borrow it.

Book Report – Epilogue: A Memoir by Anne Roiphe

15 Jul

Welcome to the first installment of what I hope will become a regular feature here on Kisses Are Delicious… Book Reports! 

When I was little, I loved reading. I loved to escape into the world of the Wakefield sisters from Sweet Valley Twins (never got into the Sweet Valley High series, I have to say) or The Babysitter’s Club (I may or may not have unsuccessfully tried to start my own branch). Somewhere along the line, I stopped reading quite so much… maybe because school started demanding that I slog through pre-approved texts, picking them over with a fine-toothed comb for symbolism, breaking things down to the point that they were no longer escapist or enjoyable, but were just… work. Now that nobody forces me to read anything, I want to get back into the habit of reading for pleasure. Book Reports are intended to help keep me on track with that, as well as providing you with book reviews. In every review I will talk briefly about the book itself, and then discuss my personal reaction to it. Each review will leave you with one of two conclusions: Buy It or Borrow It. Now, on with the first review!

 

 

image via barnesandnoble.com

image via barnesandnoble.com

I’ve been slowly working my way through Epilogue: A Memoir by Anne Roiphe for awhile now. This memoir details events in the author’s life that occur after the death of her husband… her emotions, her beliefs about the afterlife (or lack thereof), her memories, her experiences with online dating. I purchased it expecting it to be the sort of story that sucks you in and really makes you feel for the narrator, being that the topic at hand is rather a sad one. I expected it to be terribly romantic, and even a little bit depressing.

Ultimately, I’m sorry to say, this book was something of a let down for me. Anne Roiphe’s “voice” in the book just didn’t pull me in. Over the course of the book, it is made clear that she and her late husband have a very scientific point of view regarding the world, and unfortunately I think this memoir suffers for that. While she occasionally refers to the concept of “soul mates,” all in all, the whole story comes across as terribly unromantic. Ms. Roiphe and “H.,” as her husband was referred to throughout the book, struck me as being excellent companions, but there was no clear element of true love shining through to really hook me.

Personally, I would have preferred more details. I would have liked to know more about how Anne Roiphe met H. I would have liked to hear about their courtship and their wedding day. I would have liked to hear about young love blooming and growing in addition to longtime love coming apart due to one partner’s death and the subsequent aftermath. I understand the title is “Epilogue” and thus the story is intended to focus on the aftermath, but it really is hard to care about what comes after when you have no sense of what went on before. This memoir reads a little bit like a personal log of events, which is a shame, because I’m sure there is a great love story in there that just wasn’t allowed out for whatever reason.

All things considered, with the price of admission for a hardcover book hovering around $35 these days, I say skip this one  if it’s a love story you’re after. If a factual recanting of events after a loved one’s death sounds like something you would enjoy reading, then you might want to borrow it from your local library first, to make sure you enjoy the author’s style. 

Bottom line: Borrow It.