Monthly Archives: January 2011


Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen [Review]

Posted 31 January, 2011 by DLWhite in Reviews, Writers Read 2 Comments

Water for Elephants Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As a young man, Jacob Jankowski was tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. It was the early part of the great Depression, and for Jacob, now ninety, the circus world he remembers was both his salvation and a living hell. A veterinary student just shy of a degree, he was put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It was there that he met Marlena, the beautiful equestrian star married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. And he met Rosie, an untrainable elephant who was the great gray hope for this third-rate traveling show. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and, ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

I started this book on the audio version, at first a bit turned off by the obvious attempt to make the narrator sound aged. On reflection, I simply wasn’t a fan of the narrator, and that, plus an intriguing story line is what makes an audio book interesting for me. I can only listen to a book in the car, so if it can’t block out traffic irritation for me, it isn’t an audio book that’s going to work for me. Not only did the narrator irritate me, but so did traffic. It wasn’t engrossing or distracting at all.

By the time I switched to the eBook, interest in this novel was on life support. I’ve found that while I read, I skip a lot. Too much detail? Skim. Boring dialog I don’t care about? Skip. When I’m unable to skip past parts I don’t feel like reading, I feel trapped by the author in the minutiae and I resent that. Once I picked up the eBook, I was able to read more quickly, pick up the story and get to the climax.

Water for Elephants is set in a Depression Era circus called the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. The RingMaster, Uncle Al and his right hand man, the Equestrian Director August, quite clearly want to be Ringling Brothers. They’ll never measure up, but that doesn’t stop them from trying. The main character, Jacob, ends up with the Benzini Brothers after he loses his parents, his future, and his home, all in one fell swoop. One moment a promising veterinarian with a promising practice waiting for him. The next, “roustabout” shoveling animal dung out of stalls.

When Big Al finds him stowing away, his Veterinary knowledge is his only saving grace. He’s hired as the Circus Vet, to work with the animals, namely to check out the show’s stars: Silver Star and her trainer, Marlena. It’s obvious, right away, that Jacob has a “thing” for Marlena. Who is married to August.

Drama ensues, and becomes the crux of the entire story.

In between tales of life on the rails with the Circus are interspersed stories of Jacob in the future, in his 90’s, reminiscing, remembering, regretting. He is long forgotten in a nursing home, resentful of the fact that he’s living amongst those who aren’t in their right minds. The highlight of Jacob’s week is a visit to the local circus that’s in town. He’s been looking forward to it for days.

I checked a few other reviews, just to make sure that my analysis of the characters wasn’t totally off. I liked Jacob, some. Not a whole lot, but I think that was more an issue with the narrator than anything. His naivete kept me biting my nails and his bravery came so late in the story that it was maddening. August was confusing… the revealing of his mental condition came too late, for me. I think it would have added to the plot if it had been revealed earlier in the story. I wasn’t a fan of Marlena. Her characterization fell flat, to me. The convenience of her feelings seemed sudden and unexplained and her damsel-in-distress act didn’t bring any feelings of sorrow or worry.

I did feel for the elephant, Rosie. She made me laugh and cry and cheer. Smart animal. Very smart animal.

In my rating, 5 stars is impeccable, 4 is very good, 3 is okay, average. This book scored a firm 2 for me. It wasn’t awful. It wasn’t really good, either.

View all my reviews



#FridayReads Jan 28

#FridayReads Jan 28

It’s Friday again, and time for another #FridayReads! Every Friday, we booklovers chat it up about what we’re reading. Here’s my list: Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen – Sad to say, I’m not enjoying this book. Actually I’m not enjoying the audio book. I have the physical book and I’ll probably switch to that. The audio-book is always a matter of a compelling story that I can get lost in and an excellent narrator. I DO NOT like the narrator for this book and I find I just don’t care about the main character quite yet. I’ll pick up the eBook version this week where I left off. Damage, by John […]



WIP Wednesday- Whatcha workin’ on?

WIP Wednesday- Whatcha workin’ on?

It’s Wednesday again… how does that keep happening? I am happy to say that I may actually be working on the last chapter of my Fan Fiction Serial All I Wanna Do.  We’ll see. I’m fleshing it out right now but I don’t think I have enough story left for two chapters. Completing this story means a lot to me, and completing it in January would be awesome because I started it in January of 2009. Two years have gone into this thing and I will be sort of sad to see it go, but I really want to work on something different. While I think I’ll always write fanfiction, […]



The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom [Review]

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom [Review]

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom My rating: 5 of 5 stars I have to start by saying I LOVED THIS BOOK. I got this as an audio book, a something to listen to that would ease my traffic woes and it WORKED. I can only concentrate on audio books in the car, so it got to where I was making up reasons to leave the house. A trip across the street became a reason to get 10 more minutes in. I savored every bite and morsel I could get, and though it only took me a few days to listen to it all, it felt like this book would […]



Lazy Sunday…

Did write anything today, and didn’t read much. What a slacker! Lol. My word count is not doing too badly and neither is my book count, so I suppose I can afford a day off. I did actually try to start Ch 61, but it’s not really coming together yet. I can’t force what isn’t there. I’ve been avoiding the Kitchen House all weekend, because if I start listening to it I will finish the book and I need fodder for traffic tomorrow. And I also need to figure out what I am listening to next. I have a couple of books that I’ve already read, that I could listen […]





Well now there’s just the waiting…

Well now there’s just the waiting…

I finally finally made myself submit something to a print publication. I had a piece accepted at short-story.net about a year ago. I’ve been gearing up my nerve to submit to Glimmer Train and have been putting it off because I was intimidated. About once a month I pull a piece out and fiddle with it and then put it back. Well, I finally decided I was really happy with it and before I could change my mind, sent it in! I’ve entered for the Very Short Fiction award and the Standard Short Story. It will take at least 90 days to know if I’ve been accepted or rejected. So […]




Left Neglected by Lisa Genova [Review]

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova [Review]

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova My rating: 4 of 5 stars I won’t write a long review for this book. Suffice it to say that I enjoyed it just as much as Still Alice. It was still riveting while be educational and scientifically interesting. I saw some parallels to Still Alice, in that the main characters in both books could be interchangeable. I feel like Genova is almost switching out the life altering debilitating condition and leaving the story mostly intact. That’s not to take away from the story at all. I still enjoyed its complex simplicity and the style in which it was written. View all my reviews