One-Minute Book Reviews

March 15, 2010

Grand Prize Winner in the 2010 Delete Key Awards for Bad Writing in Books — Dan Brown’s ‘The Lost Symbol’

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:33 pm
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Yes, the hero teaches courses in the nonexistent field of “symbology” at Harvard University. But too many lines in The Lost Symbol (Doubleday)  flunk English, logic, history, or other subjects. Dan Brown wins the Grand Prize in the 2010 Delete Key awards for these lines:

“The only wrinkle was the bloody black-clad heap in the foyer with a screwdriver protruding from his neck.”

Yes, a screwdriver sticking out of your neck is always something of a wrinkle.

“It was no coincidence that Christians were taught that Jesus was crucified at age thirty-three …”
Just as it’s no coincidence that people were taught that Baskin-Robbins has 31 flavors.

“Thankfully, this particular crypt contained no bodies. … The entourage hurried through, without even a glance at the four-pointed marble compass in the center of the floor where the Eternal Flame had once burned.”
As opposed to one of those three-pointed compasses you usually see.

“His hips and abdomen were the archways of mystical power. Hanging beneath the archway [sic], his massive sex organ bore the tattooed symbols of his destiny. In another life, this heavy shaft of flesh had been his source of carnal pleasure. But no longer.”
That “archways of mystical power” helps to make this passage read like a cross between The Secret and recruitment brochure for McDonald’s.

“According to Nola’s spec sheet, the UH-60 had a chassis-mounted, laser-sighted, six-gigahertz magnetron with a fifty-dB-gain horn that yielded a ten-gigawatt pulse.”
Did Tom Clancy send in a play from the sidelines here?

Tom Chivers of the Telegraph collected 20 of the worst lines from Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and other books.

Read the shortlisted passages from all the finalists here.

© 2010 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

December 24, 2009

Entertainment Weekly’s 5 Worst Books of 2009

Most magazines dropped their “worst of the year” lists long ago, if they had them at all. But Entertainment Weekly has kept the tradition alive. Its 5 Worst Books of 2009 are: How to Be Famous, by Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, reality-series stars whom EW faults for a lack of more than one kind of talent; Stories From Candyland, Candy Spelling’s “revenge-fueled” memoir; Christopher Andersen’s Barack and Michelle: Portrait of an American Marriage, “packed with anonymous sources”; Mitch Albom’s Have a Little Faith, likely to give you “literary diabetes”; and Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol, “one of the year’s worst written.”

August 7, 2009

In the Footsteps of Druids — Quote of the Day From ‘The Doomsday Key’

Filed under: Quotes of the Day,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:06 pm
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“So in other words, we’re looking for a bunch of pissed-off Druids.”
— Georgina Rowe, an agent with the elite Sigma Force, in The Doomsday Key (Morrow, 431 pp., $27.99), James Rollins’s new technothriller about a global conspiracy that involves murders in Mali, at the Vatican at Princeton University.

May 20, 2009

You Think the Perks in Your Job Are Bad? When Actors Got Free Cigarettes – Quote of the Day From Nancy Balbirer’s ‘Take Your Shirt Off and Cry’

Filed under: News,Quotes of the Day,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:30 pm
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You think the lukewarm coffee at your office is bad? Consider a perk that Nancy Balbirer received as a young actor, as described in her new Take Your Shirt Off and Cry: A Memoir of Near-Fame Experiences (Bloomsbury, 256 pp., $16, paperback), a review of which will appear soon:

“Shortly after I turned twenty-eight, I was cast in an off-Broadway production of the Molière play The Ridiculous Précieuses, at the Kauffman Theatre. The production was bankrolled by our leading lady, who happened to be an heiress of one of our country’s great, philanthropic robber baron families. She had Philip Morris as a backer, so in addition to our Equity minimum salaries, the cast were offered as many packs of cigarettes as we could smoke a day. Undeterred by the homicidal innuendo, we all graciously accepted the producers’ largesse.”

April 1, 2009

Why Don’t Men Read Novels? (Quote of the Day / Gore Vidal)

Filed under: Quotes of the Day,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 2:23 pm
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Many studies have shown that women read more fiction than men do, which may help to explain why they also join more reading groups. Why is this so? The novelist and essayist Gore Vidal offers an answer in his essay “Writers and the World” in his Homage to Daniel Shays: Collected Essays 1952-1972 (Random House, 1972):

“It has been observed that American men do not read novels because they feel guilty when they read books which do not have facts in them. Made-up stories are for women and children; facts are for men. There is something in this. It is certainly true that this century’s romantic estrangement of writer from the World has reduced the number of facts in the American novel. And facts are the stuff of art as well as of life.”

(c) 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

March 13, 2009

This Week’s Gusher Award for Hyperbole Book Reviewing Goes to …

This week’s Gusher Award for Achievement in Hyperbole in Book Reviewing Goes to …

A review of Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowds’s Our Life in Gardens (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 322 pp., $30) in the New York Times Book Review:

“Once you wander into this book, you won’t be able to sit still for long anyway, what with having to scurry around looking for paper and pen to take notes on just a few more plants you must have, and leaping up to consult the pictures in your American Horticultural Society A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants.”

Sounds like you’d better get that prescription for Xanax or Valium filled before you read this one, doesn’t it?

Gusher Awards recognize over-the-top praise in book reviews. They appear on Fridays except in weeks when no praise was too overheated to qualify.

Other Gusher Awards appeared on Dec. 11, Oct. 31, Sept. 5 and July 25.

One-Minute Book Reviews will announce the winners of the Delete Key Awards for the year’s worst writing in books on Monday, March 16, beginning at 10 a.m. Eastern Time.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

March 9, 2009

Daylight Savings Time Problems on WordPress?

Filed under: News,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:35 am
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I’m about to try to post a review of Kathryn Stockett’s bestseller The Help that was written earlier but I can’t proofread because of a malfunction on WordPress that does not appear to be limited to my site. The problem occurred on Sunday and may relate to the switch to Daylight Savings Time in the United States. But I haven’t been able to get information from the WordPress support (either by e-mail or from the Support Forums) on how to correct this, so I may make changes in the forthcoming post later in the day. Thanks so much for your patience.

Jan

February 16, 2009

Purple Thong Rain — Southern-Accented Mardi Gras and Other Posts on www.twitter.com/janiceharayda

Filed under: News,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 6:13 pm
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What I did last weekend, or how I celebrated Mardi Gras in Fairhope, Alabama, where I’m a writer-in-residence:

  1. Went to the Mystic Mutts of Revelry Saturday-afternoon dog parade, where the canine marshal-equivalent wore a collar made of empty cans of Bud.
  2. Caught a lacy purple thong tied to red beads that a masked man tossed to me from a float in an evening parade. The thong is imprinted with yellow comedy and tragedy masks and the words “The Original Mardi Gras” (because Alabamians think their celebrations preceded those in Louisiana).
  3. Ate two Mini Moon Pies (banana-flavored and squashed by hitting the sidewalk) tossed by another masked man.

You, serious reader, are of course not interested in anything as base and low-culture as purple thongs and came to this site only for my reviews of War and Peace and Middlemarch. That’s why I’m posting further details instead on my Twitter feed www.twitter.com/janiceharayda. When you click on the Mystic Mutts link above, you will see cute dogs and hear “Second Line,” the Mardi Gras theme song, if you’re patient.

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

January 29, 2009

Fed Up With the Low Writing Levels in High-Priced Books? The Delete Key Awards Finalists Will Be Announced on Feb. 26, 2009

Filed under: Delete Key Awards,News,Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 1:01 pm
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“Just before the ax fell, lightning struck and my life changed, never to be the same again.”
From Barbara Walters’s Audition

Clichés, bad grammar and psychobabble in self-help books. Inanity in memoirs by athletes, politicians and movie stars. Dumbing-down in bestselling novels written at a third- or fourth-grade reading level.

These are bad enough when the nation is economically healthy. They may sting more painfully when, in a recession, many books are overpriced.

Had enough? You can nominate offenders for a 2009 Delete Key Award for bad writing by leaving a comment on this or any other post related to the awards. One-Minute Book Reviews will announce the finalists on Feb. 26 and the winners on March 15. (Remember that I need time to verify quotes you submit or to check out candidates you suggest.) A list of possible finalists appeared in the Oct. 8, 2008, post, “Which Is Worse, the Stock Market or the Writing in This Year’s Books?” For more on the awards, click on the red tag at the top of this post that says “Delete Key Awards” or on “Delete Key Awards” under “Categories” at right.

Thank you for visiting One-Minute Book Reviews, a site for people who like to read but dislike hype and review inflation.

Editor’s note: I review books for children and teenagers on Saturdays and occasionally at other times (as earlier this week after the American Library Association named the winners of its annual Newbery and Caldecott medals). So a lot of students visit this site. Can you explain to the kids what’s wrong with the Barbara Walters quote above?

© 2009 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.

January 26, 2009

2009 Newbery and Caldecott Awards Live NOW Here

Filed under: Uncategorized — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 11:23 am

Update: This Twitter feed died in the middle of the awards. It has the Sibert, Batchelder and other awards only.

Live now! The 2009 Newbery and Caldecott and other awards are being announced in real time right now at www.twitter.com/alayma/. I will begin listing the results in a continuously updated post in a few minutes.

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