Margin Notes: A couple... ehs

So, it happens. Sometimes I read books that I don't love. And here, I'm going to collect them for you. I'm pretty honest, so if you like them, no harm no foul. People have different tastes. The thing is, a couple of these are books A LOT of people enjoyed. Like, best-seller enjoyed. Ohhhhhh well!!!

Beautiful RuinsBeautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book was fine, I think I had high hopes after reading so many great reviews. Unfortunately, I found the characters mostly flat, and I thought it was odd how the author used Richard Burton and wove a fictional story about him. It hit me as disingenuous. Definitely an easy, quick read, but certainly not memorable for me. Unfortunately, the last few chapters of the book are the best, but for me, it wasn't worth the chapters leading up to them.

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Rules of CivilityRules of Civility by Amor Towles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book, but wasn't a huge fan. The characters fell flat for me...

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J'adore New YorkJ'adore New York by Isabelle Lafleche
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I grabbed this at the Library b/c none of my books were in. It seemed like a light, simple read for a hectic time of year. Unfortunately it was too light, the character was unbelievable, perhaps b/c I am a working woman and I have lawyer friends and I've lived in NYC (you cannot make it downtown and back and sit down for lunch if you're working, let alone working at a law firm). I thought it was flat and unrealistic. It was also kind of demeaning to women--the female characters are all kind of slutty... Not worth the time. It was a breeze to read, though!

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The Baker's DaughterThe Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

ehhhhh, I thought this book was ok. I think the author had a theme (parallels that highlight that the moral high ground isn't always defined by a bright line, whether US border patrol or a German soldier or citizen--pretty ridiculous)and executed against it. The writing was really lacking for me. The parallels felt forced, the characters fell flat, and the book overall came across as a little contrived and even trite. The characters felt caricature-ish (southern writer with depressed dad has trouble trusting a relationship, plucky German girl fights the regime without really knowing why, militaristic German boy learns his lesson, American doctor saves the day, good-hearted Hispanic Border Patrol character struggles with the job). There are two plot lines in this book, and neither was well-developed. And the connection between the two wasn't clear--the modern characters never really talk about what happened in WWII, there was one interview where Elsie (the German) and Reba (the reporter) start to talk about the past (which seemed forced and unrealistic--who would even open that can of worms with a basic stranger? Especially a reporter!?), but it's never really tied together.

I'd recommend The Lost Wife, or Beasts in the Garden of Eden before this one. For being a WWII book, it was a light, quick read, however. But it just wasn't for me.

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Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Some people absolutely loved this book. I'm not one of them.

Spoiler ahead (it's hard for me to condem this without giving the plot away).

I have a thing... in creative writing in college, I was told that devices are the sign of a weak writer and it really stuck. So, this book, which has a giant premise that's a device, a point of view change that changes your entire take on the book, made me dislike the author. I felt betrayed by the author. Also, I found the ending of the book completely unbelievable--the escape, the couple staying together, everything. Also, I hated all of the characters and I have a tough time with books where I don't have someone to root for. This was NOT my cup of tea.

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