Saturday, May 28, 2016

Plane Insanity by Elliott Hester

Memoir

Elliott Hester is a flight attendant for a major American airline. He flies all kinds of routes, though many of his stories seem to include routes to South America. He lets us know what it's like to be a flight attendant and all the quirky stories that go along with it. The stories range from funny to gross. It's an interesting look in to this life, which you would normally only see for a few hours at a time.

Having just finished a book that looked inside the world of waiters (Waiter Rant), it's hard not to draw comparisons to this book. And unfortunately for this book, I found Waiter Rant better. There were a couple of reasons for this.

First, I found like Hester had no passion for what he was doing. He worked this for a job and then expected us to care about what he did in his job. As a result, you only care about the stories but not much about Hester himself. Some of the responses he gave customers I would consider unprofessional given the industry he's in. Sure, some of the customers are jerks and deserve worse, but in the service industry you still need to be polite to people (up to a certain point, I guess). Hester seemed snippy with most everyone and it just made me glad that I've never been on a flight with him before.

The second is Hester's continuous negative description of people. For example, there was an incident on one of his flights where a flyer has a heart attack so they call for a doctor. There is a doctor, but apparently he's fat. So Hester says the doctor waddles down the aisle like a pregnant lady and then every time this doctor is mentioned again, he's called some form of fat. Why? The doctor wasn't even a major player in the story, nor had he treated anyone poorly.

All in all, I think Hester's a bit of an ass himself, which made it hard for me to like this book.

First Line: "I never wanted to be a flight attendant."

Rating:
(2.5/5)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica

Memoir

In another blog-to-book, Waiter Rant examines the operations at the front of the house for a restaurant. Steve finds himself out of work in his thirties and not knowing what to do. His brother gets him a waiter gig at the restaurant he's working in and Steve carried on in this career for many more years than normal. He eventually becomes the head waiter at a restaurant he calls simply 'The Bistro'. It's an upscale Italian restaurant. There are many tales: funny, horrifying, sad, uplifting, I could go on. This book has been billed as the waiter version of Kitchen Confidential, which I haven't read so I can't compare to. But I get the feeling it doesn't quite measure up.

If you start this book with the understanding that you're going to be reading fluff, you'll be ok. It's fun fluff. There isn't too much substance. There's a little bit of self-righteousness. You have to let it slide. This waiter does try to tell you how you should act at a fine dining establishment. As someone who is pretty certain I have never caused problems for a restaurant, it did annoy me a little. But I let Dublanica's preachy parts just slide on by and enjoy the juicy bits. I enjoyed hearing about some of his stories and it was an interesting look in to the restaurant business, but it was still just fluff.

First Line: "'So, you take it up the ass?' Benny asks me."

Rating:
(3.5/5)

Monday, May 09, 2016

Once Upon a Lie by Michael French

Fiction

This is the story of two teenagers from completely different backgrounds. The first is Jaleel, an African American from a small town who witnesses his father kill his mother and then himself. The police decide that Jaleel is the murderer and rather than trying to clear his name, he flees. He meets a man on the bus who helps him out, providing him a new identity so we can start a new life in LA. Jaleel is a smart kid with a knack for baseball, which allows him to carry on in school and get accepted to a top tier university.

Then there's Alex. She comes from a privileged family, in a wealthy neighbourhood of LA. Her dad is a successful criminal lawyer, her mom a socialite that likes to put on the best party. Having an adventurous nature, Alex happens in to Jaleel's neighbourhood and they start talking. They hit it off and Alex wants to return as soon as she can, but she finds out that her mom is having an affair with her dad's best friend and eventually her dad finds out too. Alex convinces Jaleel to help her warn off her dad's friend, which puts them all in a bad situation.

French does a great job of writing these two teens. Alex felt particularly real to me. She had a great head on her shoulders for a teen, but she wasn't so mature or insightful that you couldn't believe her age. She was worried about some things that teens worry about, which added to her realness. Jaleel was a bit of a harder nut to crack because of how guarded he was from all the horrible things he had been through. I liked him, but it felt like there was less time dedicated to him so I couldn't get as much a feel for him.

The adults are another story. All of them are pretty pathetic. Alex's dad has no ethics or values, Alex's mom is the most selfish person in the world that completely abandons her kids, all the cops are blind to the clues in front of them and the lawyers are no better.

This interesting mix of characters makes for a page-turning novel. There are unexpected twists and turns through the whole thing and a very realistic ending. The only thing this book needs is a cover worthy of the story inside!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this tour!

First Line: "Sunday, July 6, 2014."

Rating:
(4.5/5)

About the Author
Michael R. French graduated from Stanford University where he was an English major, focusing on creative writing, and studied under Wallace Stegner. He received a Master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University. He later served in the United States Army before marrying Patricia Goodkind, an educator and entrepreneur, and starting a family. French’s work, which includes several best-sellers, has been warmly reviewed in the New York Times and been honored with a number of literary prizes.
Find Michael on Twitter, Facebook and at his website.


Win a digital copy of Once Upon a Lie!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Liberation Day by Andy McNab

Thriller

Nick Stone agrees to one last operation in order to get his papers for the USA and be with the girl he loves. His mission is to travel to France, meeting up with two Egyptians that will help him. They are to track a boat to one of the ports and then follow the men when they leave the boat to collect three payments. These payments are being sent back to families from terrorists that are planning something in the Western world. If they capture the men the money is coming from and blow up the money before it makes it back to the Middle East, they can stop the terrorists and also learn who they are.

Everything is incredibly methodical with Nick. He scouts out locations days in advance, removes wrappers from food so they don't make noise, and takes anything with him that might leave a clue that could lead back to him.

This is the 5th or so book in the series and the previous books have been great for being action packed and believable. This one is my least favourite in the series. It was mostly prep work which made it a rather slow go. Nick and the team spent all their time getting ready and then when the team finally arrived, the action was crammed in the last few pages of the book. The end was exciting but it would have been nicer if some of that replaced some of the beginning to weigh the book better between set up and action.

First Line: "The submarine had broken surface ten minutes earlier, and its deck was still slippery beneath my feet."

Rating:
(3/5)

Monday, May 02, 2016

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Classic Fiction

This classic novel tells the story of the four March sisters in 1860s New England. Their father is off at war so it's just the four of them and their mother, trying to make the best of everything. Christmas is tough and instead of buying things for each other, the girls buy for their mother and give their lunch to a family that has little to eat. Their neighbours hear about their good deeds and send over treats. This sparks up a relationship between the boy Laurie that lives beside them.

I've seen the movie for this book and really enjoyed it. I had started and stopped the book a few times but this time stuck with it. I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion, but wow was this book boring! It's hardly about anything and hardly anything happens. Three of the four sisters have boring personalities. Jo is the only redeeming factor of this book but even she isn't enough to save it.

First Line: "'Christmas won't be Christmas without any presents,' grumbled Jo, lying on the rug."

Rating:
(2.5/5)

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Rivals of Versailles by Sally Christie

Historical Fiction

This is the second book in the Mistress of Versailles series by Sally Christie. The first book, The Sisters of Versailles, was fantastic and you can read my review here.

This book picks up right after the first in the series, though can be read as a standalone, and is told from the perspective of a few of Louis XV's mistresses. After the Nesle's sisters are no longer part of court, Louis' next mistress is Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson. Jeanne is naive and not popular at all because she's middle-class; the court looks down on her and suspects she won't last long. But Jeanne has staying power and survives for much longer than anyone expects. Other women come in and out of the picture. Some faster than others. Louis XV seems to have an insatiable appetite for sex and the court has to stoop to finding prostitutes.

Since Jeanne is a long-term mistress of Louis XV, we learn much about her perspective. What she has to do to appease the king, what she tries to do to make friends, and how the court entertained themselves back in the 1700s. The characters are shallow, which I'm sure is true to the time. And yet I'm amazed by how these shallow, naive women seem to so easily dally in the world of royalty and, for the most part, survive. It's a game of chess and all about playing the right move at the right time. This is where the intrigue is in the novel; how these women survive and thrive in this environment.

The book reads a bit like a soap opera at times, though less cheesy, and would make for a great summer read.

I can't wait for the next one!

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for letting me be a part of this.

First Line: "The gypsy's hair is as red as blood, I think in astonishment."

Rating:
(4/5)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich

Fiction

This is a "between the numbers" book within Evanovich's number series. Stephanie Plum, the unlucky bounty hunter is back. There's also a guy name Diesel who I don't ever remember meeting in the number series, though it says these two have met before. Anyways, Grandma Mazur happens to find a huge bag of money on the street and when Stephanie finds her, a short man in bright green pants is trying to steal it from her. It's St. Patricks day, which could explain the green pants, but this guy actually thinks he's a leprechaun. Soon, Grandma disappears so Stephanie and ex-ho Lula chase her to Atlantic City where she's trying to make even more money, but losing it quickly.

This is a quick, fun read which is true to all other books in this series. Grandma and Lula always make me laugh. There was no romance in this, like there would be in a usual full number series book, but the story didn't lack for it.

First Line: "My mother and grandmother raised me to be a good girl, and I have no problems with the girl part."

Rating:
(3.5/5)