“I feel sorry for you, and I'm going to be your friend." "I don't want to be your friend," Cath said as sternly as she could. "I like that we're not friends." "Me, too. I'm sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”
“There are other people on the Internet. It's awesome. You get all the benefits of 'other people' without the body odor and the eye contact.”
At first glance, Fangirl positions itself to be a silly, fluffy piece about identical twin sisters and their freshman year at college, and how one sister in particular must navigate her way through this perilous and confusing time, all while trying to churn out chapter after chapter of fanfiction to her adoring online readers. And it is that book, sweetly refreshing, never taking itself too seriously, but it also manages to be so much more -- about mental illness, friendship, sisters, mothers, living as an introvert in an extrovert's world, and falling in love, safely and sensibly with someone who deserves it (no creepy pouty vampires here ladies and gentleman! and no love triangles! hooray!)
I really related to Cath and her introverted, super anxious in social situations ways. I got her Simon Snow obsession and her need to escape into that world rather than dealing with real life. A lot of times, that is why we're reading in the first place, isn't it? To escape? To fall down the rabbit hole and be somewhere else, be someone else?
The compulsion to create fanfiction is just taking it one step further, so in love are you with a particular world and characters, that you are willing to write your own stories about them just to keep the magic from ever ending, and keep the reality wolves away from your front door for just one more day.
I love what the author has to say about the act of writing, its highs and lows, obsessions and doubts, how telling the story can be as profoundly transformative an act as reading it. When you stop to think about it, the synergy between author and reader is a gobsmackingly powerful, beautiful thing. Neither can exist without the other.
I'm home today with a horrible cold and this was the perfect book to help me escape the realities of my bodily suffering. Fangirl is a complete rabbit hole, and down I went. I was going to use this review to confess to some of my own fangirl proclivities, but I think I'll save that for another time. (less)
My TBR pile has grown ridiculously huge of late (my house is hoarding half my public library's precious cargo). Despite this ever-increasing mountain...moreMy TBR pile has grown ridiculously huge of late (my house is hoarding half my public library's precious cargo). Despite this ever-increasing mountain of unread promises, my reading pace has proportionately slowed. At a time when I should be blazing through the pages of every book I pick up, I find myself smelling the proverbial roses. The faster I burn through a book, the more quickly I am to forget it anyway, even the real gems. Plus, life just gets in the way sometimes and it's been doing a darn good job of pulling me away from the last few books I've picked up.
This one I was more than happy to spend a whole week with, sneaking short sweet moments with it every chance I got. Nothing really happens in this book, but it hums along at a wonderful pace. How could I not be pulled into a story about sisters and the dynamics of small town life, that celebrates books, the Bard, and new beginnings. As Rose, Bean and Cordy show us, no matter how much a life seems utterly derailed, it's never too late to start over. Quite often only through complete failure can we find our way to where we're supposed to be.
If that all sounds a little too touchy-feely, hippy-do for you, I won't lie -- it is touchy-feely, hippy-do -- but it's a touchy-feely, hippy-do that's wrapped in staggeringly gorgeous prose and turns of phrase. I nearly drove my boyfriend crazy following him around the house to recite certain passages. I just couldn't resist, Brown uses language that's meant to be read aloud.
The novel could have easily descended into an Oprah/Hallmark co-production of the week but it is saved from that nausea-inducing fate by carefully crafted and lovable sisters and language that flows like sparkling water out of a mountain spring (too much? yeah, I should have quit while I was ahead).
I'm a zombie-loving girl who needed a break from bleak dystopias and nerve-jangling apocalypses. This book totally fit the bill.
I think it's too bad that this book is probably going to get overlooked by a lot of people just because the cover is just so gosh-darned pink -- it l...moreI think it's too bad that this book is probably going to get overlooked by a lot of people just because the cover is just so gosh-darned pink -- it looks like a tosser, easily dismissible as frothy, feel-good chick-lit, more fluff than depth, more cheese than ...urm... meat? I know I was on the verge of dismissing it for all these reasons and more; I mean, c'mon!?! David Cassidy? Really people? But thanks to a contagious review here on goodreads, I took a chance and am I glad that I ever did.
I don't just think I love this book, I know it with complete and utter certainty. Why? Because it is filled with bittersweet insights on life and love and laced with a quick and sassy humor that had me laughing out loud. This book has heart -- a real, beating, bloody, muscle that pumps and lives and breathes in the pages. So okay, there's that David Cassidy thing, but really, he's just the point of entry to a book that explores so well, with such empathy and truth, the bumpy and perilous terrain of our first crushes and those critical bonds of first real friendships that will define the women we become.
And speaking of those first crushes? Remember those? How much we threw every single piece of ourselves into them, right down to our protons and neutrons? I'm thinking a magic part of that intoxicating buzz never truly leaves us if we're lucky. I remember seeing Eddie Vedder on stage when I was 19 and it was as close to a "religious" experience as I'll ever get. Can I get a Hallelujah? I really did almost implode at the molecular level.
I love books that can write about friendships among women, convincingly and with genuine feeling. Petra and Sharon are wonderful as adult friends, and as children they are charming and unforgettable. This book has a high nostalgia factor that resonates. It's a beautiful read and I loved every minute of it. Highly recommended. (less)
I’m just going to say up front, there’s no way I can do this little book justice just because there’s so much heartbreaking honesty packed into so sma...moreI’m just going to say up front, there’s no way I can do this little book justice just because there’s so much heartbreaking honesty packed into so small a space it just boggles the mind. Author Jandy Nelson has tasted real loss – she’s held it in her chest, been held prisoner in its freezing, unrelenting grasp. How do I know this? Because this is a story about grief and what it can do to a person in all its jagged edges, how it changes us for better and worse, how it cannot be bargained with, how it transitions from a blinding scream to a soft whisper but never goes away completely.
The Sky Is Everywhere is also an achingly, bittersweet look at young love, that first shock to the system when all of your senses become crazily, exponentially heightened at once, and all of your common-sense exits stage left with a resigned but good-humored flourish. Lennie Walker learns that not only will grief make you do weird and sometimes self-destructive things, love will too – in the throes of both at the same time and you are in danger of becoming an outright mental case.
The supporting characters in this story are absolutely lovely and I don’t think I will ever forget them – Gram, Big, Toby, Joe and Sarah – it’s really the people who know us and love us that make us strong and keep us strong. This is a beautiful little book and a wonderful story that I highly recommend. (less)
In a word ... outstanding. I can't believe I almost missed reading (or rather listening) to this book. Unfortunately, I have this thing where books th...moreIn a word ... outstanding. I can't believe I almost missed reading (or rather listening) to this book. Unfortunately, I have this thing where books that are SUPER POPULAR alienate me off the bat. And when this book first came out, it blasted off into the SUPER POPULAR stratosphere and any enthusiasm I might have had waned to a lukewarm indifference, and the book went on my "maybe someday I'll get to it" pile.
No matter how much I tried to ignore its existence however, the book and I kept crossing paths. Friends were reviewing it so favorably I started to feel like I was missing out on something big and awesome -- and life is too short on the big and the awesome to walk blithely past an easy opportunity for both.
The Help is about race relations in the American South during the 1960s, how even though black women were entrusted to raise white children and prepare the family's daily meals they were still considered "other" and "less than". I cannot speak to whether the author does this aspect of the story justice. I'm a white girl who grew up on a very white island off the coast of Canada, which means I can't say if Stockett's handling of the details is misinformed and/or offensive. I realize there is always a distinct possibility that any story about race can itself descend unwittingly into racism. Such criticism has been launched at this book. For example, this reviewer here.
For me, the story won me over and completely sucked me in because it was a book about women friendships -- how they endure, how they can poison, how they can save. It looks at how mothers grieve the loss of a child, it looks at the complicated, thorny relationship shared between mothers and daughters. It looks at the cold hard face of domestic violence and despair. It looks at loneliness and desperation. In other words, The Help is a historical representation of the lives of women in a particular time and place and to reduce it to an offensive piece on race and race relations is to do it a grave injustice.
I. LOVE. THESE. WOMEN. They are inspiring, strong, funny, daring. I love how they bring out the best in each other. I love their fierceness, their loyalty, their instinct to protect each other. I also love how Stockett shows the "other" side of womanhood, the side that's not so attractive but just as real -- the envy, the bitterness, the vitriol, the peevishness, the manipulation, the bullying. That sometimes we are our own worst enemy. Forget the mens; I can't remember a villain so well-written as Hilly Holbrook. That bitch be cold. I love this observation made by Minny:
Womens, they ain't like men. A woman ain't gone beat you with a stick. Miss Hilly wouldn't pull no pistol on me. Miss Leefolt wouldn't come burn my house down. No, white womens like to keep they hands clean. They got a shiny little set of tools they use, sharp as witches' fingernails, tidy and laid out neat, like the picks on a dentist tray. They gone take they time with em.
I don't know how this book reads textually, but as an audiobook it is truly a marvel. The voices are fantastic, the ebb and flow of the prose and dialect like an angel singing in your ear.
I love books set in the American South; I've never been but the lushness of the landscape calls to me for all the reasons Becky captures here:
"The slower pace, the afternoon thunderstorms, the heat and humidity that makes it hard to breathe, the crickets, crepe myrtles and spanish moss, the old feel and the history... all of it." See Becky's review
More than the landscape, there’s the food. The descriptions of Southern cooking in this book can make a grown woman weep. I sighed, I drooled, I yearned.
Despite its serious and tragic subject matter, The Help is also EXTREMELY FUNNY. I was seriously laughing my ass off in parts – the whole “pecker pie” incident involving Minny and Celia got me to giggling so hard tears were rolling down my face.
Once I popped in the first CD I could not stop listening. I gorged. But unlike eating an entire box of chocolates in one gluttonous sitting, I wasn’t left with a big bellyache of regret. This book will make you cheer. It will uplift you. It will entertain you. If I could marry it, I would. (less)
**spoiler alert** I feel like I must have missed something with this one because it just didn’t grab me; whereas my girlfriends have all given it four...more**spoiler alert** I feel like I must have missed something with this one because it just didn’t grab me; whereas my girlfriends have all given it four and five stars. I found it to be a bit of a slog and it took me way too long to finish. If it wasn’t for book club, I likely would have abandoned it and moved on to something else. A 2-star review posted here on goodreads argues: " Too much description of the unimportant things, not enough of the ones that affect the story." I couldn't agree more.
I felt Dinah’s first-person narrative voice to be long-winded and like any Biblical story worth its weight, over-occupied with who begat who. The first half of the book dedicated to Dinah’s four mothers and her plethora of brothers reads too much like a Bible story for me and I know that’s supposed to be the whole point, but I found the method off-putting. The excruciating details about the Red Tent and the trials and tribulations of women during this time should have been riveting, but instead, all the dense descriptive passages remained... well... excruciating.
Finally Dinah comes of age and the narrative picks up. I thought, at last! Now we’re getting somewhere. Unfortunately, the infamous events surrounding the tragic circumstances of Dinah's betrayal happen in the blink of an eye. It’s shocking, yes, but all too brief and rushed. It didn’t give me time to feel dread, empathy or real pain.
Dinah’s hateful brothers Simon and Levi are so very evil yet I never got a sense of the motivation behind their violent rampage. What fueled their rage and psychosis? I also didn’t buy Jacob’s descent into such a spiteful and degenerate character. Where did that come from? He began his life as such a warm and generous man, successful and honorable. Why did he transform into such a brute later in life? Following the slaughter in Shechem, the fate of Dinah’s mothers is described in a few pages of summary and I thought they deserved more than this.
I found the rest of Dinah’s story as it unfolds in Egypt anti-climatic. Even when her son is sent away to school and becomes a stranger to her doesn’t come across with any great emotion. The fact that Dinah finds her way back to midwifery is not surprising, and that she should find love late in her life is sweet, but the big shocking reveal of crossing paths with Joseph I found to be unsatisfying. That his story should have been filled with such betrayal, shame and violence – that he should have survived his family after being sold into slavery – this should have bonded he and Dinah together, but they remain estranged, and Joseph turns out to be extremely dislikable – shallow, conceited, power hungry. That disappointed me.
The only place in the novel that moved me was the death scene of Dinah’s best friend Meryt. As for the rest of the novel, I remained – like Dinah’s narrative voice – largely emotionless and detached. (less)
Enchanting and heartwarming. Great character development. While this is essentially Rose's story, her conjoined twin Ruby weighs in periodically with...moreEnchanting and heartwarming. Great character development. While this is essentially Rose's story, her conjoined twin Ruby weighs in periodically with her no-nonsense thoughts and observations on practical matters. Her approach is quite distinctive from Rose's literary sensibilities, who leans towards keen observations on life's larger meaning. Both girls speak with their own unique voices and I fell in love with each of them for very different reasons.
On the surface, The Girls tells the story of conjoined twins and the challenges of living as such, but really, it's a story we can all identify with: one of growing up, finding our way, and uncovering essential things about the people who love us best. It's about paying attention to the little things, of embracing life, and that this living is not a dress rehearsal. As far as each of us knows, we get one shot, mistakes, warts, glories and all. Make it count. (less)
**spoiler alert** Sweet and lovely story; Icy is a precocious child with a huge heart and I really empathized with her predicament. Can you imagine ha...more**spoiler alert** Sweet and lovely story; Icy is a precocious child with a huge heart and I really empathized with her predicament. Can you imagine having Tourette's in 1950's rural Kentucky when hardly anyone even knew what it was or how to help? My only criticism here is that I guess for a book set in the South, I was expecting more conflict / trauma. Everyone in Icy's life is just so gosh-darned nice, from her wonderful loving grandparents, to Miss Emily, to the school principal, to the doctors and caregivers she meets at the kids' hospital.
There are a few baddies along the way, but if you're reading this waiting for the big hatchet to fall, it never does. Icy escapes her troubled youth relatively unscathed, protected and loved the whole way through. I was expecting more Fall on Your Knees, The Prince of Tides, White Oleander or even The Hotel New Hampshire. For anyone who found these books too depressing or dark, then I would definitely recommend Icy Sparks, which is light, breezy, tender and safe. (less)
Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to. ~Dolores Claiborne
Meet Dolores Claiborne -- island woman, mother of three, murderess and...more
Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman's got to hold on to. ~Dolores Claiborne
Meet Dolores Claiborne -- island woman, mother of three, murderess and overall high-riding bitch. And I love her! She is strength and smarts and dignity personified and in my opinion, one of the most vivid and memorable literary creations ever to walk the pages of any book. I don't say that lightly. Yes I'm a fan, yes I'm gushing, but this is also a more tempered, critical evaluation after living with her existence these many years. She has stood the test of time and I have no doubt she will continue to do so long after her creator has passed.
Arguably one of Stephen King's most underrated and dismissed works, Dolores Claiborne remains for me one of his best and most literary novels. The first-person narrative voice is brilliantly executed, the island dialect ringing true, the rhythm of the language making the sense of place so vibrant and tangible. The reading experience is only enhanced by the audio version (which I highly recommend).
Bringing nothing but his A-game, King delves into the life of a poor, uneducated, island woman, who marries young and gets to repent in leisure. I love this story so much because not only does it capture small town life and a woman's place in it, but also the unshakeable bonds of friendship that can be forged like steel between women, and the ferocious love a mother feels for her children.
This book is a powerful and naked look at mother-love, at how desperate, intense, and all-consuming it really is....But mainly this is the story of an unlikely alliance between two hard talkin’, high riding bitches; two women from very different walks of life who find that they have a similar core of bitter strength.
At its heart, this is a book about a desperate woman who is driven to a very desperate act. It is a crime novel built around a detailed confession that's so urgent, so immediate, the story sucks you in like quicksand and does not want to let go. This is not a horror novel, but there are a few moments of unadulterated suspense and terror that had my heart jack-rabbiting in my chest. (view spoiler)[When Dolores returns to the well and Joe has nearly succeeded in climbing out and grabs her ankle, I just about screamed and threw the book across the room! When you have to do such a dirty deed, you want it to happen as fast and clean as possible. It could not have turned out more ugly and terrifying for Dolores and is it any wonder she imagines Joe's face grinning out at her from behind the wheels of Vera's wheelchair on the day of Vera's death? (hide spoiler)]
Dolores Claiborne is not the only high-riding bitch in this story, there is also Ms. Vera Donovan, her contrary, vitriolic employer who explains the facts of life thusly: "Husbands die every day Dolores. Why, one is probably dying right now while you're sitting here weeping....An accident can be an unhappy woman's best friend." Dolores and Vera make an unlikely pair, but over the years they cleave to one another in an unexpected, unforgettable friendship that runs dark and deep.
This review can also be found at Busty Book Bimbo["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)