Book Reviews

Monday, May 3, 2010


My final reviews from the month of April.

All's Well That Ends Well
by William Shakespeare
★★★☆

Helena, a physician's daughter, falls in love with a nobleman, Bertram. She cures the king with the stipulation that he will give her Bertram as her husband. They marry, but Bertram can't stand her and leaves before they even spend one night together. He gives her a brush off and says she isn't his real wife until she bears him a child... but he won't sleep with her. He then tries to court another woman.

Helena is a witty and resourceful woman and comes up with a way to trick him into impregnating her. All's Well That Ends Well... I guess. So Helena wins over her husband, who doesn't like her, by tricking him. In my opinion Helena's love and efforts are completely wasted on a selfish jerk. Even Bertram's mother thinks that Helena is a wonderful wife for her son. I wish Helena would have wised up and picked a different guy from the get-go. The play has Shakespeare classic puns and double entendres, but it's not one of my favorites of his.

Beat the Reaper
by Josh Bazell
★★★★

A former mobster now works as a doctor in a Manhattan hospital. He's in the witness protection program, but a patient recognizes him, putting him once again, in danger. The violence/sex descriptions are pretty graphic, but it's entertaining if you can ignore the language. There are definitely some gross parts. It's a fast-paced thriller that takes you from the streets of New York to the death camps in Poland. It's also peppered with medical trivia that I loved. Suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the ride.

The Unnamed
by Joshua Ferris
★★★★

Tim, a middle-aged lawyer, struggles with an unnamed disease that causes him to walk without stopping for hours. His wife Jane and teenage daughter Becka try to understand it and how it affects all of their lives. To me the point of this book is not the disease itself, but instead the relationships it affects.

A subplot is woven throughout the story that deals with a murder case Tim is working on. The case acted like a litmus test for the severity of his disease at the time. It was an interesting way to show how bad the symptoms were at any given point.

I loved the way Ferris describes each of the characters. I became fascinated not by the walking, but by his wife and daughter's responses to his walking over time. Their anger, frustration, love, disbelief, hopelessness were intoxicating. His own reactions were also interesting, but it was their point-of-view that I loved. I would absolutely recommend this.

An excerpt from the book...

"From the first bite of his sandwich to the last he ate mechanically and without pleasure. The ache of his jaw told him he had to finish. The duty of lunch had been acquitted."

7 comments:

sharazad said...

All's Well that End's Well isn't one of my favorites either. But The Unnamed sounds like a good book...

Vasilly said...

Great reviews! I read Beat the Reaper last year and loved it. I can see why All's Well that Ends Well isn't a favorite. I just received a copy of The Unnamed so I'll probably be reading this summer.

Avid Reader said...

Sharazad- glad I'm not alone in that one.

Vasilly- The last scene in Beat the Reaper... gahhhh!

You guys will have to let me know what you think of The Unnamed if you read it.

Tanu said...

Great reviews! The only one I have read is The Unnamed and I enjoyed it very much.

This is my first visit to your blog and I am definitely going to become your follower. You have great reviews.

P.S. I saw a link to your blog on "Lost in Books."

nomadreader said...

I really enjoyed Beat the Reaper and The Unnamed as well. I'm looking forward to more books by Josh Bazell, including a sequel to Beat the Reaper.

Jenners said...

Good review on "Beat the Reaper." I was suffering from PMS when I read it and took it WAY TOO SERIOUSLY!!! : )

I'm really interested to read "The Unnamed."

Avid Reader said...

nomadreader - Is there really a sequel to Beat the Reaper?