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Dayna B. (DaynaAlyson) - Reviews

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Anna Karenina
Anna Karenina
Author: Leo Tolstoy, Constance Garnett (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 1/28/2008


My mother recommended this book as one of the best books she ever read. I guess you either love it or hate it because I thought it was not good at all. It's very slow and very long. I felt that many sections of the book could have been cut out to condense the story, which would have made it more interesting and readable. I guess Tolstoy is lucky I wasn't his editor.


The Boys in the Trees
The Boys in the Trees
Author: Mary Swan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 1/22/2009
Helpful Score: 3


While the idea for this story is certainly interesting, I found this book to be anti-climactic. The event that the story revolves around happens in the first fifty pages. As the reader continues to read, he does get more details and clarifications about the central event, but I found the first fifty pages to be the most interesting and the rest of the book somewhat lacking in substance. I would not go so far as to call the book disappointing, but I was slightly let down when I got to the end with no satisfactory explanation as to why Mr. Heath did what he did.


The Circle
The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 28
Review Date: 1/21/2014


I was not impressed with The Circle by Dave Eggers, a dystopian novel warning of the slippery slope of voluntary corporate surveillance. Although the author didn't call the fictional company in the novel "Facegoogle", it's pretty obvious which companies readers are meant to associate with "The Circle". To be honest, I only read this as a book club pick and would not have chosen it on my own as the description did not interest me in the least. I went into it thinking I was not going to like it at all, but I was ultimately intrigued by the ideas and themes of the book. However, there were definitely some (big) issues with the plot, the tone of the writing was meh, and the character development was pretty awful. It had the potential to be so much better. It was actually an interesting premise but the execution here was so very flawed. If you would like a more detailed review of why I didn't like this book read this one by Goodreads user Brad. Seriously, it's like he was in my head.


Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic, Bk 1)
Confessions of a Shopaholic (Shopaholic, Bk 1)
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 1999
Review Date: 8/13/2008
Helpful Score: 9


This book was ok. The author has good plot development, but the characters are totally unrelatable, at least to me. Obviously someone relates to out of control spending and racking up thousands of dollars in debt, all while throwing out Visa bills and ignoring calls from the bank, or the book wouldn't be so popular. I found myself wanting to shake the main character and scream at her, "What are you thinking?!" I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone I know, but I wouldn't discourage someone from reading it if they expressed an interest because there were parts that were funny. Just not really my style. I guess I'm too responsible to enjoy a book like this.


Costa Rica (Lonely Planet)
Costa Rica (Lonely Planet)
Author: Mara Vorhees, Matthew Firestone
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/28/2010


I had both the Frommer's Costa Rica travel guide and the Lonely Planet Costa Rica travel guide, and in my opinion, the Frommer's guide was better. I felt that the writing style in Frommer's guide was conversational and easy to read, while the Lonely Planet guide was a little more like a textbook. One thing I did like about Lonely Planet was that it gave more background and historical information on the towns and attractions, but the Frommer's guide gave more recommendations for accomodations, dining, and things to do, which was more important to me.


The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America
Review Date: 2/9/2013
Helpful Score: 2


If you are looking for a book about the Chicago World's Fair serial killer, this is not it. If you are looking for a book about the Chicago World's Fair architecture and exhibits and the men who designed them, with some interesting facts thrown in for good measure, you have found your book. While there are several chapters that discuss Holmes (the serial killer) interspersed throughout the book, it is not really until the last few chapters that the author focuses on Holmes as the central character of the book. I found parts of it to be dull and it definitely put me to sleep on several occasions.


A Fine Balance
A Fine Balance
Author: Rohinton Mistry
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 328
Review Date: 9/14/2015
Helpful Score: 1


I found A Fine Balance to be unbalanced, which is probably the true way in India. After all, the book opens with a quote ending with, "This tragedy is not a fiction. All is true." A Fine Balance was heartbreaking. Any happiness that made its way into the story line was soon blotted out by tragedy, so I would think the author should have titled it A Fine Imbalance: Corruption and Cruelty Win.

The story follows four main characters: an unhappy college student who feels rejected by his parents, a widow who has mostly cut ties with her family in an attempt to establish her independence from her overbearing brother, and an uncle-nephew pair of poor tailors who have come to the city to reverse their fortune and escape the grasp of a depraved rich landowner. Don't bother hoping for happiness for any of the four, who eventually become quite attached to one another. You will be left disappointed.

A Fine Balance left me feeling despondent, disheartened, and even hopeless, but also grateful for the life I get to lead. It was an amazing and fascinating story, educating me on so much about India, and spurring me to learn more, and for that I am glad I read it, but it is also dark and tragic and mournful. I am angry with the author for not allowing his characters one moment of happiness without dashing it in the next chapter. As a fiction, couldn't he have let just one mirthful event come to pass? In his quest for truth in fiction, the answer was a resounding no.


Freedom
Freedom
Author: Jonathan Franzen
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 2/9/2013


I really enjoyed this book. I felt that the characters were realistic and even if I didn't agree with the decisions a character made, I could relate to the feelings and emotions that led to those decisions. I think that Jonathan Franzen is on par with Leo Tolstoy in his understanding of human nature and relationships. He did an extraordinary job of not only describing the characters, but showing the emotional layers of each character, as well as helping the reader understand the characters' motivations. The only complaint I had while reading Freedom was that I thought the women in the book seemed to need a man to "complete" them, but by the time I came to the end, I realized the men in the book needed a woman in their lives just as much as the women needed a man in theirs. The book is a bit long at almost 600 pages, but it didn't feel too long, if you know what I mean.


Frommer's Costa Rica 2007 (Frommer's Complete)
Frommer's Costa Rica 2007 (Frommer's Complete)
Author: Eliot Greenspan
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/28/2010


I had both the Frommer's Costa Rica travel guide and the Lonely Planet Costa Rica travel guide, and in my opinion, the Frommer's guide was better. I felt that the writing style in Frommer's guide was conversational and easy to read, while the Lonely Planet guide was a little more like a textbook. One thing I did like about Lonely Planet was that it gave more background and historical information on the towns and attractions, but the Frommer's guide gave more recommendations for accomodations, dining, and things to do, which was more important to me.


Goldengrove (Goldengrove, Bk 1)
Goldengrove (Goldengrove, Bk 1)
Author: Francine Prose
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 4/29/2013


The elements of this book (drowning, dealing with grief, coming of age, illicit love) SHOULD have made for an interesting novel. But I found this book Boring with a capital B. Even though it's less than 300 pages, it took me months to get through and when I got to the end, I wished I hadn't bothered. The writing is good but the story-telling is lacking. I hardly ever say this, but if you have this on your reading list, skip it.


Gone Girl
Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 34
Review Date: 2/9/2013


I would have given this book four stars, but I thought the ending was lame. Kind of a cop out. Like the author couldn't think of a good way to end the story so she just left everyone hanging and said, I'll close with no closure!" Still, I would recommend it as a good read. An original storyline with good plot twists, every time I had to put it down, I couldn't wait to pick it back up.


The Good Girl
The Good Girl
Author: Mary Kubica
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 83
Review Date: 9/12/2017


So Bad!

Let me start by saying, this book is awful, and that's really all you need to know. Poorly written, predictable plot, characters that are more like caricatures. I kept reading, thinking that closer to the end there'd be some twist I didn't see coming, but nope. This book was a complete waste of time! If you're expecting anything close to Gone Girl, you will be severely disappointed.

The story is about the abduction of Mia Dennett, told through the point of view of her abductor, Colin; her mother, Eve; and the detective investigating Mia's case, Gabe. Through these characters, the reader is trying to figure out what happened, since Mia, once she is rescued, has amnesia. (Insert eye roll here)

The poor writing, stereotyping of characters, and poorly developed relationships between the characters made this book almost unreadable, not to mention the bizarre and distracting sexual tension between Mia's mother and the detective. I kept asking, "Why do these two characters need to be attracted to each other?" It did nothing to progress the story line, and wasn't even developed enough to be a subplot, so I just didn't understand why it was part of the story.

Both Colin's and Mia's fathers are laughable caricatures. Colin's father is the violent drunk that abandons his family and Mia's is the rich judge we are supposed to hate because he is aloof and detached and loves money more than his own family. The emotions I was supposed to feel just never surfaced because I was too distracted by my giggles as I read the cliched and predictable descriptions and plot points.

The icing on the cake was the supposed plot twist at the end, where the reader finally learns what was really going on. The last 10 or 12 pages is told from Mia's point of view, but if you are hoping for some sick and twisted but ultimately genius plot twist (ala Gone Girl) please skip this one, or like me your eyes might roll so far back in your head as you are reading that you will fear they may get stuck like that.


The Good Soldier (Dover Thrift Editions)
The Good Soldier (Dover Thrift Editions)
Author: Ford Madox Ford
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 2.5/5 Stars.
 5
Review Date: 3/27/2007


I kept waiting for the plot to begin.


Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift Editions)
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (Dover Thrift Editions)
Author: Harriet Jacobs
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 49
Review Date: 9/15/2007
Helpful Score: 6


This true story is incredibly moving. Harriet Jacobs tells of the cruel treatment of her master, not only physical punishment, but sexual advances. She truly shows the terrifying, hideous tinge slavery put on on every aspect of a slave's life. The descriptions of the circumstances of slavery were eloquent and disturbing. The sections telling of the seperations from her children had me in tears.


Kissing Outside the Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After
Review Date: 9/9/2013


I will start by admitting that I did not read this book in its entirety, but I did get about two-thirds of the way through it before I couldn't take anymore. The author of this memoir is one of the most whiny, judgmental, and self-centered people I have ever read about. I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and shake her and tell her that the world does not revolve around her and her needs!

The book is written by a white woman who falls in love with a Korean man. Everything in their relationship is seemingly perfect, EXCEPT the fact that her fiancée's family does not like her because she's white and not Korean. Ok, wait actually, her fiancée's EXTENDED family doesn't like her because she's white and not Korean. Oh, actually just some of her fiancée's aunts don't like her because she's white and not Korean. That's right, the fiancée's parents, sister, and cousins all have no issue with her. She spends the whole book whining about some bitchy, stuck-up old women in her husband's extended family who probably would have been bitchy and stuck up whether they were Korean or not, so to me it really had nothing to do with race.

Diane Farr, I'm white and I don't find you particularly likable. I do find you selfish, condescending, judgmental and overly dramatic! A friend asked if it was possible that I feel this way because I know you are an actress, an understandable question. However, I don't believe your choice in profession had any influence on me as I have no prejudice against actors. I had never heard of you or seen any of the shows you said you were on, and so came to this book with no preconceived notions as to what you would be like. Now that I have read your memoir (or enough of it anyway) I think you're annoying.


Kissing Outside the Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After
Review Date: 9/9/2013


I will start by admitting that I did not read this book in its entirety, but I did get about two-thirds of the way through it before I couldn't take anymore. The author of this memoir is one of the most whiny, judgmental, and self-centered people I have ever read about. I wanted to reach through the pages of the book and shake her and tell her that the world does not revolve around her and her needs!

The book is written by a white woman who falls in love with a Korean man. Everything in their relationship is seemingly perfect, EXCEPT the fact that her fiancée's family does not like her because she's white and not Korean. Ok, wait actually, her fiancée's EXTENDED family doesn't like her because she's white and not Korean. Oh, actually just some of her fiancée's aunts don't like her because she's white and not Korean. That's right, the fiancée's parents, sister, and cousins all have no issue with her. She spends the whole book whining about some bitchy, stuck-up old women in her husband's extended family who probably would have been bitchy and stuck up whether they were Korean or not, so to me it really had nothing to do with race.

Diane Farr, I'm white and I don't find you particularly likable. I do find you selfish, condescending, judgmental and overly dramatic! A friend asked if it was possible that I feel this way because I know you are an actress, an understandable question. However, I don't believe your choice in profession had any influence on me as I have no prejudice against actors. I had never heard of you or seen any of the shows you said you were on, and so came to this book with no preconceived notions as to what you would be like. Now that I have read your memoir (or enough of it anyway) I think you're annoying.


The Last Days of Dogtown
The Last Days of Dogtown
Author: Anita Diamant
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 188
Review Date: 10/18/2012


Although this book is supposedly a novel, it's starts out more as a set of short stories revolving around the same characters; it is not until the last half of the novel that a thread of a plot line is found. The stories are a bit disjointed and it's hard to get to know the characters because of scant character development, so it was difficult for me to really care about the story. It wasn't horrible though, and I finished it. It was good for historical background and to get to know what life was like in the early 1800's.


Midnight Champagne
Midnight Champagne
Author: A. Manette Ansay
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 63
Review Date: 3/27/2007


Ansays best novel, in my opinion. Very weel written and entertaining.


Moms Who Drink and Swear: True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind
Review Date: 12/2/2013


Moms Who Drink and Swear just did not do it for this mommy. To be honest, I only got about 70 percent of the way through because I just got bored. If I want to read about bratty kids fighting and throwing temper tantrums, and a mom who is flying by the seat of her pants and messing up a lot, but still loves her kids and tries her best, I'll write my own book. This is every mom (at least the ones I know) and it just didn't hold my interest. I will admit that it is a very easy read and the author has a nice conversational tone, but that is exactly what it's lacking: a conversation. These are the kinds of stories that moms swap at play dates and Moms Night Out while drinking wine and occasionally swearing. When I was reading this book, there were several times I was laughing out loud and in complete sympathy with the author, but alas, I could not commiserate with her, and so became bored with this one sided story-telling. Because Nicole Knepper is not the only mother with "True Tales of Loving My Kids While Losing My Mind". Unless you have no mommy friends with whom you can lament, I would pass on this one.


One Hundred Years of Solitude
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gregory Rabassa (Translator)
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
 77
Review Date: 9/18/2012


If I had to sum up this book in one word, it would be "beautiful". The writing, the story, the theme, are all beautiful. I laughed and I cried. It was everything you could want in a book. I didn't give it more stars though because even though this is one of the most beautiful books I have ever read, it was confusing and hard to follow at times. It has several characters with the same names, which is an important part of the book so could not be changed and have the same effect, but makes it quite confusing for the reader. Thank God for the family tree at the front of the book!


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