Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Sister's Keeper

My Sister's Keeper
Author: Jodi Picoult
Hodder and Stoughton (UK), 2004
407 pages

First of all, it's great to be reading again. April has been way busier than I ever expected, and my reading suffered. Actually, it was me who suffered, due to lack of reading. Thankfully, I chose a really awesome book to get me back into the swing of things.

I bought My Sister's Keeper somewhere in Europe last year, but I don't remember where. I know I bought it in Europe, though, because it still has the price sticker on it, in Euros. Also, the cover looks different than the U.S. version - because what I have is the British version. But I didn't buy it in the UK or otherwise the price would have been in pounds. (LOL, I digress.)

Whatever. The fact is, I've been seeing some stories on those entertainment shows lately about My Sister's Keeper the movie, which will be released in the U.S. in June and stars Cameron Diaz, Alec Baldwin, Abigail Breslin from Little Miss Sunshine, Jason Patric, and Sofia Vassilieva (the adorable girl who plays the oldest daughter on the TV show Medium), and others. Anyway, just by reading about the movie on the Internet Movie Database, I can already tell it will not be exactly like the book. But then the movie never is, is it? In the book, the character played by Alec Baldwin is 32 years old, for example. And there is no Aunt Kelly (but there is an Aunt Zanne).

But this is supposed to be about the book. OK. I was sucked right in . . . the opening "chapter" is written from the perspective of ??? I was never really sure if it was Jesse, the brother, or Anna, the sister of Kate. Kate is a sixteen year old who has had leukemia since she was two years old. Turns out that Jesse was never a match in terms of being able to help her with donations, so their parents used modern science to create Anna ("test tube baby") with the idea that Anna would be able to provide umbilical cord blood to help save Kate. Over the years, though, Kate had more needs . . . platelets, bone marrow, etc. and each time, Anna donated - not through her own consent but because it was what was expected. Anna's needs, it seems, have always been neglected (as have Jesse's.) Now, Kate's disease has progressed so that she is on dialysis and needs a kidney transplant. And everyone is expecting Anna to give her sister a kidney.

Anna, age 13, sues her parents for "medical emancipation" or the right to make her own medical decisions. Enter a couple of interesting characters: Campbell, the attorney, who has a medical secret of his own; Julia, Campbell's long-ago girlfriend, who is unexpectedly reunited with Campbell when she is appointed by the court as Anna's guardian ad litem; and "Judge" - who happens to be the coolest fictional canine I've come across in quite some time.

Mix them with Anna's complicated family - her lawyer-turned-stay-at-home-Mom, Sara; her firefighter Dad, Brian; troubled brother Jesse, and of course, Kate - and you have a very interesting, thought-provoking story of family love, loss, and fate. 

I could hardly put My Sister's Keeper down. The only disappointment for me was the ending. I won't spoil, but prepare yourself for the unexpected. Not sure how the movie will deal with it, but most likely, it would be a good idea to carry some tissues.

Rating: 4.75 stars.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Snowbound

Snowbound (Kindle Edition)
Author: Janice Kay Johnson
Amazon Digital Services, 2009
288 pages

As promised, a review of a really bad book that was a free Kindle download. It didn't take me long to realize that quantity does not equal quality. Snowbound froze me over so badly, I haven't been able to read for over a week now.

Lots of people would disagree with my opinion that this is a really bad book. In fact, it has 4.5 stars on Amazon.com. I'm not sure if these are real people or friends of the author, but it doesn't matter. I think the real problem is that Romance is not my genre.

Fiona is a secondary prep school teacher who takes a wrong turn in the mountains while driving a group of students home from an academic competition. A snowstorm blows in and they become stranded at an inn up on a mountain. Guess what? A sort of hunky veteran of the war in Iraq is the reclusive innkeeper who takes them in for several days. Sparks begin to fly between the innkeeper and the teacher. It is SO predictable and boring. I don't know why I kept reading as long as I did, but I eventually quit at 68% complete because I just couldn't take it anymore.

Next time I'll just PAY for what I really want. (By the way, I've deleted all of the "free" books from my Kindle because I can't take another experience like this one!)

Rating: 1.5 stars (just for keeping me interested that long).