#892 Pop Goes the Weasel by James Patterson

Pop Goes the Weasel by James PattersonPop Goes the Weasel by James Patterson

Unfortunately, this is another James Patterson book in which I don’t have much of an idea about what’s going on. This is what I remember–there are four men, playing a deadly game. Each man has named himself after one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Murders are happening and a detective is trying to catch the men, mainly one man, playing this deadly game. That man happens to be a government official, of  some sort, and meanwhile, someone kidnaps the detective’s wife and baby. Maybe she’s a fiancée, I forget.

What I liked

I want to say something positive about this book. I’m sure there’s something positive; I just can’t put my finger on it right now.

What I didn’t like

For the life of me, I do not understand what is so difficult about James Patterson books for me. Every single book I’ve read by him has been this way. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m listening to them, but I’ve listened to plenty of other books and still end up with an understanding of the events that happened in the book. It seems odd that the anomaly would be from one author.

Maybe it’s because the idea of filler-thriller isn’t my thing? James is quite prolific and certainly has a formula for writing  his books. That formula enables his books to be consumed, mass-market, by many people. Maybe I tune it out because it has that feel to me? I don’t really know.

I’m sure there are lots of people who love reading James Patterson; he wouldn’t be a bestselling author if that wasn’t the case. Unfortunately, James doesn’t catch my book fancy in such a way as I would have hoped.

Overall

No nursery rhyme is safe; hide your kids; hide your wife.

Weigh In

If you were to pick a nursery rhyme to write a thriller about, which would you  choose?

What do you think about filler-thriller?

#891 The Giant Yo-yo Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Giant Yo-yo Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

 The Giant Yo-yo Mystery created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are poking their noses around again and get introduced to a furniture maker who is trying to make the world’s largest yo-yo in order to receive a world record. They put themselves to work right away. Things start happening though. Wood orders get cancelled. Plans disappear. Information about a previous attempt at the world record for largest yo-yo comes out. Turns out, someone else wanted to make a giant yo-yo and that person used to be friends with this guy. Who in the wide-world of yo-yos is sabotaging this effort to yo the largest yo?

What I liked

I liked that the author was able to create a bunch of drama surrounding a yo-yo.

What I didn’t like

I almost want to say, “Who cares?”

Sure, you can build a giant yo-yo for a world record, but don’t you have better things to do with your time? Would an object that heavy even function like a normal yo-yo? At some point, there’s going to be a trade-off between mass and the ability to yo, at least I imagine there would be. Does a furniture maker understand the physics behind this?

All of this drama seems a bit much for a darn yo-yo.

Overall

YOLO, so make a giant yo-yo.

Weigh in

Would you make a giant anything for a world record?

Has an inanimate object ever caused this much drama in your life?

#890 The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie BuchananThe Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The three Van Goethem sisters all danced in the ballet, at one point or the other. Antoinette, the oldest, gave up for a variety of reasons, choosing work as a stage extra and washer woman instead of the ballet. Marie wanted nothing more than to succeed. So she tried and tried. Charlotte was cute and wanted to learn.

With their father dead and their mother an alcoholic, sipping absinthe anytime there was a spare breath to take, the girls must all work to pay the rent on their shabby room.

Things go south for Antoinette when she meets a boy who entices her with dinner and drinks. She calls it “being adored.”

Things go north, and south, for Marie when she starts modeling for an artist named Degas. The artist spends hours watching girls practice ballet. He paints the girls. He draws the girls. Marie models for him privately, both clothed and not; her family needs the money. Degas brings her notoriety and admiration, but it does come at a price.

Antoinette’s man gets involved in a murder and she will do anything, anything, to be with him again. Marie has never liked the boyfriend and the murder charge drives a wedge between the two sisters who were once best friends.

What I liked

I like learning about the background events that enabled a certain piece of artwork to be produced. The events that had to come about for that painting, you’re standing in front of at the museum, to be there are fascinating. How was the artwork received by the public? What happened to the artist? What happened to the model? Did the artwork become a detriment to one, or both?

Art is a thing that affects our society. How it came to affect our society is wonderful reading material.

The Van Goethem sisters were real. They aren’t just made up by the author. This account of their lives is fictional, of course. Antoinette really wasn’t connected to a murderer, who was also real and in all the papers.

What I didn’t like

Antoinette is so stupid. Charlotte and the mother are pretty flat character wise.

Let’s get back to Antoinette being stupid. She gave up the ballet for whatever reason, which is stupid decision number one. She got messed up with a loser, which is stupid decision number two. Look, a loser is a loser, is a loser. The point of saying this is to state that losers don’t suddenly become not losers. If a man is good for nothing in the beginning, he’s going to keep being good for nothing. If that’s the case, there is absolutely no point in getting involved with said man. Sure, he may be pretty. Sure, maybe he’s well-endowed. Those are not reasons to put your life in default for a man who isn’t worth a darn.

If a man, or woman, seems like a loser upon your judgement after knowing them for a little while, that’s probably not going to change, so you shouldn’t get involved any more than you already are.

Overall

Paint me like one of your French ballet girls, Monsieur Degas.

Weigh in

What are your opinions about the women in your life who are messed up with losers?

Would you pose naked for a painting?

#889 Perfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Perfectly Oblivious by Robin DanielsPerfectly Oblivious by Robin Daniels

Bianca and Bethany aren’t twins, but a lot of people think they are. The two are less than a year apart. It’s just them and their father. Bianca remembers the day when a cute boy moved in across the street. His name was Cameron, or Cam, as she calls him. With pretenses of practicing basketball, Bianca soon got to know Cam, who called her Bebe.

Bianca is crazy about Cam but has a couple of problems. She doesn’t think he likes her and she also thinks that if she admits someone likes her that it will end badly. She won’t even tell her own sister, Bethany, who is her best friend.

Things are different now, because Cam does like Bianca and wants to tell her, but he doesn’t think she likes him. He thinks he’s been friend-zoned. Bethany soon wriggles the secret out of Cam and they make plans to tell Bianca, big plans, which involve a little dishonesty and some dramatic gestures.

Will it ever be made known that the two actually like each other? Does the universe actually have it out for Bianca and her love life?

What I liked

As teenage romance goes, this was actually one of the better ones I’ve read. Nobody is trying to kill anybody else and nobody is a vampire. It’s about two kids you could have at your school. It’s plausible is what I’m saying.

I identify with Bianca to a degree. I never thought that people liked me. I thought nobody liked me. I thought I was doomed to be alone. There was a large part of this problem which was me. Bianca is in the same boat. There’s nothing wrong with her; she just thinks there is. If you think that nobody likes you and nobody pays attention to you, then you’re not going to pick up on when someone actually likes you. There was more than one boy I kind of dissed or ignored because I thought nobody liked me.

Sometimes, you just have to let people love you despite the many perceived faults that you think you have. I have a boyfriend who loves me even if I’m not super skinny and I do really weird things sometimes, like going around the house saying, “You’ve cat to be kitten me right meow,” or singing, “cat loves food, yeah, yeah, yeah,” when I feed the cats. It’s from a YouTube show called Dragon Ball Z Abridged, look it up.

What I didn’t like

Bianca is identifiable to many young women, but she’s not identifiable to everyone. What about that girl who doesn’t play sports and is on the electric car team? Obviously, you can’t make a character identifiable to everyone. For girls who are in less popular circles in high school, Bianca isn’t going to resonate with them as much.

This book is very sweet and wholesome, for the most part. Despite that fact, I tend to have issues with teenage romance stories, not because of the story itself or the characters in the story, but because of the very idea of teenagers being serious enough to be in a major relationship. Most teenagers are not that serious. They are not that mature. They have no real idea of what loving someone is. Loving someone is respecting that person for who they are, but also being responsible for them to a degree; these two things are very difficult for most teenagers. I do give teenagers who have had to be responsible a little more credit in this area. For example, a teenager who has had to help raise younger siblings or a teenager who has helped take care of a parent or grandparent, will be more responsible and better able to understand the concept of love.

With all that said, I do think Cam respects Bianca, which is certainly a plus because that’s something very difficult for a lot of teenage boys.

Overall

Sweet story to read when you want something a little uplifting.

Weigh In

Looking back on you as a teenager, do you think you would have had the same capacity to love someone that you possess today?

Were you one of those people who thought nobody liked you?

#888 A Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara Bazaldua

A Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara BazalduaA Boy of Heart Mountain by Barbara Bazaldua

Shigeru and his family lived in California, but then the war came. Some people treated Shigeru differently, even though he was an American. His parents had to put signs up in their laundry shop window saying they were loyal Americans. Soon people told Shigeru’s family that they had to leave their home and go to the middle of the United States. People even came into their house and took their radio. They had to sell their things, which people offered them very little money for. Shigeru even had to give away his dog, Skippy.

The family got on a train and left. Where they arrived was nowhere. There was nothing around. They had to live in a small room, which was nothing more than a shack. The room was shared with strangers. The food was awful.

After a time, the family was moved to Heart Mountain which was marginally better. There was a school and Shigeru made some friends. He even got a pet bird that learned to talk. The camp became a new life to Shigeru. One day, it came time to leave and return to a normal life; the war was over.

What I liked

I’ve read books about the Japanese concentration camps before. It’s a sad thing, but ultimately very important. We have to remember what we did so it doesn’t happen again.

Shigeru was a real person, which makes this book much more real. These things happened to a real person.

It seems Shigeru did not let the experience of living in a concentration camp taint his life or his experience of America. That’s a very optimistic view of the whole thing.

What I didn’t like

Why did this happen? Why were innocent Americans imprisoned for no reason? It all seems like an overreaction. We don’t have any right to treat an entire people with suspicion because one person did something bad. Granted, we are talking about more than one somebody doing something bad, but it was still a very small percentage of an entire people.

The good thing about American concentration camps, if you can ever say there are good things about concentration camps, was that they weren’t like the German camps. People can say they were imprisoned by the American government, but they mostly can’t say that they were murdered or exterminated. It’s a wonder Japanese-Americans who were in these camps found it in their hearts not to hate the United States for what happened.

I hate that anybody had to go through something like this just because of their ancestry.

Overall

Let’s be glad this is over.

Weigh in

Do you think these concentration camps prevented any war?

If you were imprisoned by a government because of your ancestry, do you think you could look favorably on that government afterwards?