Thursday, May 29, 2014

Learn Me Good - John Pearson

Engineer turned 3rd grade teacher...what's not to love?

I thought that I might struggle with the format.  The entire book is written as emails from teacher, Jack Woodson, to a former coworker at the engineering firm.  But that only added to it's appeal.

I literally laughed out loud at many points.  As a previous junior high teacher, I could picture so much of it in my mind. 

I appreciated how even the frustrating aspects of teaching can be looked at through the lens of humor. 

Witty.  Sarcastic.  Real.  A must read for any teacher.  A should read for any person.

Silenced - Dani Pettrey

Partial synopsis from Amazon:A relaxing day of rock climbing takes a disturbing turn when Kayden McKenna's route brings her face-to-face with a dead climber. Is it a terrible accident or something darker? When the case is handed to overburdened sheriff Landon Grainger, he turns to Jake Westin for help. With Jake's past now revealed, he's ready to use his talent for investigation again--but he could never prepare for where the mystery will take him.
This is the fourth book in the series, and my ratings on the books have decreased with each new installment. 

I did enjoy visiting Alaska and the McKenna family again.  However, that is about all I feel this book has going for it.

It is lacking in the outdoor adventure aspects that I liked in the past.  It was incredibly predictable - even the plot twist.  But probably my dissatisfaction comes most from the ending, and that has shaped my view of the entire book.

The climax and conclusion came too swift.  It felt forced, and the timeline even seemed inconsistent.  And the result for the villain was anti-climactic at best.

Additionally, there was the whole plot thread of the initial dead climber that didn't seem wrapped up.  The reader is left in doubt on if the right person was apprehended.   

At this point, if there is a fifth book to cover Reef McKenna (the only remaining single McKenna), I will most likely not be reading it.

The Hundred-Foot Journey - Richard C. Morais

Partial synopsis from
That skinny Indian teenager has that mysterious something that comes along once a generation. He is one of those rare chefs who is simply born. He is an artist."
 And so begins the rise of Hassan Haji, the unlikely gourmand who recounts his life’s journey in Richard Morais’s charming novel, The Hundred-Foot Journey. The Hundred-Foot Journey is about how the hundred-foot distance between a new Indian kitchen and a traditional French one can represent the gulf between different cultures and desires.

This was my book club's pick for May.  Half of us gave up on it before finishing.  The other half (including me) finished it but did not find the reading enjoyable.  As one member described it, the writing was "laborious."

I did enjoy the section based in Lumiere the most.  And appreciated the character growth and development of Madame Mallory.  The other characters, however, were more static and one dimensional. 

However, the narrative itself was unbelievably slow.  The descriptions of food, of settings, of everything was over the top (and I'm usually a fan of descriptive writing).  The random French words and phrases I'm sure were there to give the novel more flavor and perhaps sense of place.  However, I found them just plain frustrating as again and again I had to go to Google to find translations.

And, honestly, the significance of the whole message of the novel passed me by.