Death By Chick Lit: Cute but not cute enough

November 3, 2008

Death By Chick Lit by Lynn Harris has a cute premise: a talented, frustrated writer discovers that everyone BUT her is managing to get published and write hugely successful, lauded chick lit. But maybe they aren’t so lucky after all as one-by-one, the latest chick lit “it” girls are murdered. Can Lola solve the murders and salvage her career at the same time?

See, it sounds like a fun book, a wink at those familiar with the chick lit genre and its formula. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it past the first hundred pages. Lola seems confused in her priorities, declaring that despite being newly married, she will make sure her friends feel like nothing in her life has changed even though her husband (incomprehensably to me) wants to spend more time with her. I understand why she is bitter about her friends’ success, but Harris lays it on a little thick. It isn’t funny…more pathetic.

The structure is a little weird in that you think you are in the present and then suddenly, you are in the past as she is bringing you up to speed on certain friends and events, but the transition is not smooth.

It was just an insufferable book that I couldn’t get through.  Again I am baffled by the good reviews.  In my opinion, Harris was trying too hard.


The Bible of Clay

August 26, 2008

Maybe I don’t fare well with translations of Spanish books.  The second book I had to abandon this year was Julia Navarro’s The Bible of Clay. It’s another “thriller” about a Biblical discovery. In this case, a few clay tablets talking about Abraham’s version of the creation of the earth written about a thousand years before the earliest known versions.  The archaeologist responsible for this discovery is Clara Tannenberg, who is pushy and comes from a long line of pushy, irritating adventurers.  She of course is targeted by a group of people who will stop at nothing to keep these tablets from being exposed.  And tiresomely, the novel is a dual narrative also featuring Abraham’s nephew’s account of what happened.  Ugh.  I put it down after about 100 pages.  It completely failed to hold my attention and the character motivations seemed preposterous.

The Last Cato

August 24, 2008

I find it very difficult not to finish any book I start no matter how horrid it may be.  However, I must admit that I have been unable to finish 2 books this  year.  I’m not going to count them in my finished book total (naturally since I didn’t finish them), but I did want to post about the few books that I could not bring myself to finish to spare you, dear readers, from making the same mistake I did.

The Last Cato by Matilde Asensi is about a nun who works in the Vatican as a paleographer.  She is called in to investigate strange scars found on a dead man who was found with shards from what is believed to be the True Cross.  Sister Ottavia finds herself embroiled in intrigue, hunting down an ancient sect of guardians of the True cross along with a member of the Swiss Guards and a Egyptian professor.  Apparently Dante’s Divine Comedy–specifically Purgatory, the middle section–hold clues as to the location of this sect and the True Cross.

Sounds very interesting, doesn’t it?  And it was written in 2001, well before The Da Vinci Code and its subsequent imitators.  Unfortunately, it was unreadable.  I managed to get to around page 150 before throwing in the towel.  It was originally written in Spanish and translated, so I like to believe that some of the problems I had were caused by a poor translation.  The other possibility is that it was just as sucky in Spanish as it is in English. 

Sister Ottavia is annoying.  Apparently only she could possibly have the right answer.  She looks down on her partner, the member of the Swiss Guards.  I guess the fact that he has only 2 master’s degrees to her (too-often emphasized) many doctoral degrees makes him an idiot.  The professor is nice but kind of a confusing character.  The language is weird.  The dialogue seems stilted, and the plot was difficult to follow.