The story is on its surface pretty straightforward, and yeah, apparently the moral is "fighting back will turn a mouse into a successful person." ButThe story is on its surface pretty straightforward, and yeah, apparently the moral is "fighting back will turn a mouse into a successful person." But the subtle shift in Shelley, how her language about other people changes to scornful, shows that Reece knows the shift isn't simple.
I still think the initial response (to go DIY) by the mom, who's supposed to be wicked smart, isn't very bright. ...more
The protagonists were basically losers without giving me a look at Basic Human Realities that loozer characters are supposed to lend literary fiction.The protagonists were basically losers without giving me a look at Basic Human Realities that loozer characters are supposed to lend literary fiction. It never grew into a big book--which is the only reason I want to spend time with unsympathetic people.
I originally wrote: I'm not done with this book and I'm not sure I'll ever finish it. I have absolutely no interest in spending time with this character. I grow depressed when I think I'm supposed to be amused. He has moments of self-awareness which lead to self-loathing (or self-mockery) but yeah? So? When do we get something other than his fear or his wine? So much drinking. An alcoholic pretending to be a connoisseur - or maybe actually, yes, an expert -- is still an alcoholic. Drinking while driving. Woo. Yick.
The occasional descriptions of weather alone are enough to make me want to close the book. They are poetic schticks that I think are there to show his literary side. [update: the weather and scenery schticks grew on me. Pretentious word factor never did get less annoying but now I want to visit the ocean. . . so]
I'm up to him stealing from his dotty mom -- the woman who obviously loves him and whom he never visits. I'm thinking his friend Jack might be cool, hey at least he stopped to buy flowers for mom-- but our hero is a waste of time. Maybe he'll grow more appealing later on.
Maybe I'll stick around long enough to find out, but I doubt it. I think, perhaps if it wasn't first person, it would be easier to take?
I'm not sure why I'm having such a hugely negative response to this book. Maybe the self-involved writer who has panic issues and is totally wrapped in his (or her?) own misery ..... Hmmmm. Could be a bit of recognition there.
I have a feeling that if I could stick it out, read a few days into this trip they're on, I might hate this experience less. Maybe if I drank enough wine? It would take more than a bottle, I think.
It's funny because I usually kind of enjoy schlub characters -- anti-heroes are okay with me. This guy not so much. Not yet, anyway.
UPDATE: I should probably finish it. People I know say it's very funny.
UPDATE two: I did finish it. I think it got better -- once Jack ended going into revolving door to hospital the story grew more amusing. Maybe the whole getting what was coming to him helped? It'll never end up on my favorite shelf, but it wasn't as offensive as I'd first thought. ...more
2.5 stars. Failed to grip. I've listened to the audiobook and part of my dislike is the reader. Nearly every sentence that's not dialogue ends with a2.5 stars. Failed to grip. I've listened to the audiobook and part of my dislike is the reader. Nearly every sentence that's not dialogue ends with a strange kind of up-lilt that drove me batty. She's fantastic with the accents and dialogue though.
So, okay, mixed bag all around.
Basic reason I didn't give a higher score: the characters and the world don't feel real to me. I keep trying to figure out why that is. I think it's partly related to inconsistency? A person's goal is mentioned and then everything shifts and then whoops the person's reality shifts back to the original goal. That's how messy real life works, of course, conflicting emotions, but it didn't work for me because the changes were sudden and unexpected. Lucille is mercurial and that seemed like an interesting quality in her--not so much for Tess. And then some of the characters, like Jim, stay too much the same to be convincing.
And maybe I'm not crazy about it because it's set in a world that's been examined and re-examined and re-re-re-examined. Why doesn't someone write about a boat-based disaster that isn't the freaking Titanic? How come there aren't more Empress of Ireland or Mont Blanc stories?
Heh. That complaint comes across as someone who reads a children's story then grumbling that it's written for children.
Okay, this seems to be about my mood and not the book.
Speaking of personal issues, the other reason for a lower score is based on factors most readers wouldn't notice so my viewpoint shouldn't count for much(that's why I pushed it to a three.) I keep hearing anachronisms, but I doubt people would notice them. But seriously, things like the automatic elevator is annoying and dumb detail someone should have caught.
And I have other issues to do with stupid rules that shouldn't interrupt readers' pleasure. (mild POV shifts, or occasional telling rather than showing, or "don't describe characters by having them examine themselves in a mirror") ...more
My dog, this book is exhausting. Clever language, clever plotting, comic book one second and then the next second--or even simultaneously--profound orMy dog, this book is exhausting. Clever language, clever plotting, comic book one second and then the next second--or even simultaneously--profound or poetic. In the end mostly comic book.
I usually kvetch when I suspect a book is broken up and turned into a series. This one might have done as a serial.
If it gets made into a movie, I bet the right director would be Terry Gilliam. Is he still around? He should come out of retirement for this. His inflated and vaguely mechanical vision would be PERFECT. Everyone would say WTF, when it first came out, but then it would be one of those movies that you'd end up watching more than once because you always saw something new and .... what is the word for the book...and Clever.
The names were Dickensian and the coincidences are too. Okay. well. PHEW.
Here's what I wrote while I reading it:
I like this even though the author is in love with his own voice. Occasionally he takes me along with him. That long section (that makes no real difference to the story, I think? Maybe it will later?) about the undertaker's creed, I loved that. Creepy, effective, the waiting men test is probably something I'll remember forever. Also I love Edie Banister. I'd vote for more of her and maybe a little less of Joe.
UPDATE: Okay the Waiting-Man-To-Be story is relevant. The whole thing is a huge book that you think is higgledy-piggledy, but is actually ornate and organized. and often silly, too.
Once again a Higgins book forced me to ignore real life for way too long. I had things I wanted to do, dammit.
The grouchy Levi would just about annoyOnce again a Higgins book forced me to ignore real life for way too long. I had things I wanted to do, dammit.
The grouchy Levi would just about annoy me so much that I'd be ready to give up on him and then do something so breathtakingly wonderful, something so right that most romance heroes would be put to shame by him. He really is amazing. He makes the perfect, even-tempered, calm non-grouchy Jeremy look insipid. Jeremy is wonderful, but without the core that makes Levi the right hero for Faith.
The general blockheadedness of everyone ended up charming rather than annoying me and never went too far (I figured one of the bickering grandparents would get sick and the other at long last realize what love meant. I was grateful that's not the way it went, but if anyone could pull that kind of sap, it would be Higgins)
It was a good long book, satisfying and meaty (kind of like those arms. Jeez, Levi's arms!) but I'm ready for more. ...more
I love her books. Every time I pick up another one I worry that maybe this will be it--the book that puts me off Higgins. Nope, she grabbed me again.I love her books. Every time I pick up another one I worry that maybe this will be it--the book that puts me off Higgins. Nope, she grabbed me again. Damn, she's good. ...more
I liked the characters and the writing. I loved the portraits of Cape Cod. I enjoyed the whole experience of the book--except the actual solution to tI liked the characters and the writing. I loved the portraits of Cape Cod. I enjoyed the whole experience of the book--except the actual solution to the crime. That just didn't make sense to me. Still doesn't, but the rest made up for it. ...more
This reminded me a little of Shatter Me by Mafi only this was better written and more moving. It packs a big wallop for a short story. Thank you, AngeThis reminded me a little of Shatter Me by Mafi only this was better written and more moving. It packs a big wallop for a short story. Thank you, Angel Martinez. ...more
One of the dogs Ruff Starts**** yanked from a kill-shelter looks a lot like the original dog in my story--the one in the photo prompt--and she's in the same condition. (Poor thing, pregnant in summer.) Here she is!
There are a lot of books about city girls coming to the ranch and falling for a cowboy, so this has some familiar echoes but this feels a little sloweThere are a lot of books about city girls coming to the ranch and falling for a cowboy, so this has some familiar echoes but this feels a little slower paced and more thoughtful than most of those books.
Let me make one thing clear, k? Slower paced is not an insult. It works. This is a saddle ride through the country, not a car chase. We admire the view as we go through the book; we don't rush from trauma to drama. The writing and view is pretty enough that we don't get bored. The little touches of humor are sweet rather than snarky, yet they work. Her voice is perfect for the occasionally vivid word pictures---it's never over-the-top and always a pleasure to spend time reading.
The hero and heroine might be familiar types, but they are most definitely not stereotypes and, even better, they are good, decent people. The heroine loses her temper now and then, but she has good reasons. the hero is a little relationship shy but he also has good reasons--and even better, manages to figure out on his own when he's being a turkey. they are both grown-ups in this book and that's refreshing.
The daughter seems less three dimensional to me. We know she has to have some kind of recovery or change--we know that going into the story, because it is that sort of story. But it feels realistic, even if it's sort of fast.
My only quibbles? Too many references to twinkies. Grandma's obsession with Herman started to creep me out a bit (although I did like his secret!) The hero does the "you aren't like other women" thing, a common romance move that hadn't bothered me until recently . . . but is now suddenly getting on my nerves in books. (I read some article about that trend and now I see that damn trope everywhere.)
Even that particular schtick is okay though because 1. he had a reason for saying it. 2. no one in the book is like the romance-standard of the shallow women--we don't have a scowling snarling bad guy to dislike. Even the most unpleasant character is a hoot and I want to see more of her, though I bet everyone else on the ranch would be glad if she'd drive away again.
This book won't set your world on fire, but it's a wonderful summer escape and I want to visit the ranch again.
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time around horses at summer camp. I didn't see the appeal. As I read this book--the descriptions of riding, of caring for the horses, of life making camp with horses, even of the horsey personalities.--I wanted to go back in time and try again.
I realize now I'd rather have spent time at Hayworth's fictional Mustang Ranch than the real deal. As an escape it's a lot cheaper and there are fewer horseflies.
Disclosure thing: I got a gratis copy from the author to review. ...more