By page 16, the book is already absurd, and not in a dystopia sci-fi way, but in a sloppy, bad-writing way. EAll I can say about this book is: really?
By page 16, the book is already absurd, and not in a dystopia sci-fi way, but in a sloppy, bad-writing way. Examples:
1.) In this post apocalypse world, once A WEEK a 16 year-old girl walks two miles with an M-16 to bring back all the water she can carry. A loaded M-16 weighs about 9 pounds. A gallon of water weighs 8 pounds. The average person uses a gallon of water a day. There is no way in the world she could have carried enough water to last a week for two miles and a loaded M-16.
2.) The survival items she packs for a long trek somewhere else, in a world where there's no other people anywhere, include Tide and deodorant. Seriously. So there's apparently working washing machines, even without people, and Tide is the brand of choice.
3.) The author describes Cassie's greatest worry prior to this event being whether or not anyone thought she was pretty. That's how you know this is written by a male author. Why is the protagonist female then? I have no idea, but it's not clear whether or not he's ever actually spoken to a 16 year old girl.
This is complete garbage, and the praise just makes me distrust reviewers. Try "The Knife of Never Letting Go" instead. ...more
I resisted this book for a long time, because of how it was marketed. It's presented as a Romeo and Juliet story of obsessive teenage love. That's notI resisted this book for a long time, because of how it was marketed. It's presented as a Romeo and Juliet story of obsessive teenage love. That's not what this is; this is very rare insight into love between a girl with childhood trauma-inspired PTSD and a boy who can only save her so much. Without this background, the amount of resistance she presents towards the relationship would be annoying.
There are simply not enough books for teenagers or adults that present life as difficult as it can be without succumbing to melodrama. This is not melodramatic; it's real. ...more
I discovered this book when my sister clued me in that my niece has been reading them, and asked me to pick up a few. She burned through the "Wimpy KiI discovered this book when my sister clued me in that my niece has been reading them, and asked me to pick up a few. She burned through the "Wimpy Kid" series, and I read one of those in the bookstore cafe in a single sitting, openly guffawing at several hilarious lines. It bummed me out that my niece didn't have a similarly cynical, selfish protagonist to root for, and thought that might be the case for Dork Diaries.
First of all, who is the dork in this series, exactly? When I think of a dork, I think of someone with an eccentric personality perpetually rejected by her peers, but who maybe manages to have a blast anyway (with her fellow band/art/ writing dorks). Nikki isn't a dork. She's Jenny Humphrey from Gossip Girl. She's desperate to be cool, the only not-rich kid in an elite private school, with curious artistic talent that she somehow finds the time to nurture in between thinking exclusively shallow, uninteresting thoughts. In other words, Jenny Humphrey...except Jenny actually got rejected by boys every once in awhile, and it's all a cakewalk for this "dork". Her friends don't seem to suffer much, either, unless you call "looking like Beyonce" suffering. Even the twins from Sweet Valley High were bigger dorks than this. Even "Pretty Little Liars" is dorkier than this. Every character appears to be thin, well-groomed, and immaculately dressed. When was the last time you encountered a middle school kid who met any of those qualifications?
Second, this "dork" is actually mean. She hates the pretty girl for being pretty, draws a number of pictures mocking the people who are actually dorks, constantly gripes about people who are "weird" or "different" and spends a majority of her time pursuing social acceptance from the people she claims to hate. Her primary preoccupation is whether she'll ever be popular, but it's never explained why this is so important to her. Most kids with this ambition don't have much else going on. When was the last time you met an art dork who actually wanted to hang out with the cool kids? Ridiculous.
Third, it's completely unrealistic. And when I say that, I mean middle school kids don't talk like this, act like this, communicate this way, etc. For God's sake, her friends *tape a note to the front of her locker* to tell her where they will be. That's possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard. What's secret and covert about that, exactly? Even before cell phones we still had the sense to fold the note and pass it. Her father picks her up from school to go to a funeral with him...a funeral for someone she doesn't even know, so he can schmooze with other exterminators. Is this a joke? Why would you schmooze with other exterminators, exactly? I suppose it could be, except the book isn't funny -- at all.
A third grader should not read this book. A third grade girl doesn't need to think that all she should think about is boys and popularity. They should not think this is the pink version of the Wimpy Kid books. This is a pink version of pink. Even Strawberry Shortcake hates this book.
Fourth, it's a total rip off. Almost every idea, image, and scene from this book is a rip off of some other teen book or television show. Roach on top of the car of the exterminator? King of the Hill. Snoopy dance? Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Did they select editors for this series that have recently returned from a deserted island where there was no exposure to books, movies, television shows, magazines, or any other facet of pop culture?
Fifth, the writing is terrible. And it isn't funny -- at all. Several of the attempts to be funny are so bad I rolled my eyes and almost stopped reading. It's actually painful to read. When I think of what I want my niece to read, it's funny, rich, interesting books that offer an idea of girlhood that differs from a subscription to Us Weekly. This is likely reading about the perspective of that Barbie Doll that used to say "I Hate Math!" when you turned her head a certain way. The author doesn't seem to know what to make Nikki do, so she strung together a bunch of tropes and cliches, and somehow got a book deal. Even worse: people buy these books.
Not me. I took them back, and exchanged them for some journals to encourage my niece to keep writing her own stories. That seems a way better option than exposing her to this....more
In "Missoula" Krakauer presents, sometimes in agonizing detail, the lasting injuries inflicted upon several women in Montana who were sexually assaultIn "Missoula" Krakauer presents, sometimes in agonizing detail, the lasting injuries inflicted upon several women in Montana who were sexually assaulted, often times by members of the Grizzlies football team. From the assaults themselves, to the invasive post-rape examination, to equally invasive and character defaming trials, to the blowback from a community inclined to support football over all, it's a stunning presentation of our flawed court system, and the manner in which rape victims are treated.
Supported by research, Department of Justice investigations, trial observation, and victim testimony, "Missoula" seeks to underscore that victim status is not tidily resolved at the conclusion of a trial, and justice is hard-won, particularly when the accused struggles to understand their guilt. The level of denial presented by families, in particular -- even when confronted with outright admission of guilt -- shows that the court system begs for crime to not be crime, if the person can make something of themselves eventually. While this book is set in the same town as the title, it is also Any College Town, America -- and is a book that everyone should read.
"Missoula" has heroes, like police detective Guy Baker who encouraged Allison Huguet to report Beau Donaldson, and persuaded Hillary McLaughlin to testify about an attempted rape at Donaldson's trial. It also champions Charles Couture, former University of Montana Dean of Students, who conducted investigations into three of the rape cases presented in this book, and chose not to bow to community pressures to favor football players. The book also has its villains, like Kirsten Pabst, a prosecutor who actually showed up at a college hearing in defense of the accused.
Krakauer is not attempting to be unbiased; this book is in defense of rape victims and against the culture that enables rapists to walk free. Still, the book would have been stronger with a one-on-one interview with controversial prosecutor-turned-defense attorney-turned-prosecutor Kirsten Pabst, who appeared to deliberately avoid sexual assault cases during her tenure -- a fact further revealed through Department of Justice investigations. Presented as calculating, narcissistic, and intentionally negligent, hearing her voice respond to these allegations would have added another layer, and offered more information as to the mindset of an individual who appears to prioritize trial victory over justice.
Similarly, the demonization of Gwen Florio, a Missoula journalist, by the community at large comes up repeatedly, but since her articles aren't cited and there isn't extensive examination of her role, it's hard to understand why she was such a polarizing figure, and what kind of impact this might have had on her life. It would have been helpful to better understand the relationship she had with various rape victims and the community itself, as well as what role she thought she played in the tale as it unfolded.
Also missing is insight as to the mindset of the average Missoula citizen, to understand better what informs a culture of enabling. Krakauer describes the passion for football and the tendency of the average citizen to be more educated than average, but this doesn't offer the same insight that candid interviews would provide, or thoughtful observations of daily interactions between men and women, college students and towns people. I found myself wanting Krakauer to wander into a neighborhood bar for a conversation with the men and women seated at tables, instead of reading the comments people tend to post on the internet when they have no fear of the words becoming attached to their faces.
Overall, the book is fast-paced, completely engrossing, and an important testimony about sexual assault in America. It's a dark story that emphasizes that ways rape permanently alters the lives of victims, and how only communities working collectively can change things. ...more
Kim Gordon was every would-be riot grrl's "Girl in a Band" in the 90s. She was talented and gorgeous and amazing without presenting an alienating, unaKim Gordon was every would-be riot grrl's "Girl in a Band" in the 90s. She was talented and gorgeous and amazing without presenting an alienating, unattainable standard. As a girl who desperately needed someone to look up to who was more jeans and t-shirts than slip and makeup, I needed her to exist, to sing, to play an instrument, and most of all, to seem remarkably sane and grounded for someone waist deep in the arts. Is that possible? In an era of heroin overdose and suicide, she would do just fine, thank you.
Suffice it to say, I couldn't wait to read her memoir, especially since it was penned in the aftermath of her divorce from Thurston Moore. While some held up this romance as the be-all, end-all of alternative courtship, I saw them simply as a potent couple with talent for days, and never really smelled what the romantic aspect might have been like. Still, it was hard to not be heartbroken by how generic the end was, how it was too much like your mom and dad's divorce: yet another coddled, narcissistic late-bloomer boomer who thinks his romance with a secretary is somehow more unique than Don Draper's. Yuck.
In terms of the memoir itself, I'd say it's an honest if cautious one, that perhaps tries to do too much to avoid being what it actually is: a long song about divorce. Revelations about her childhood are interesting to build towards noise, as are her early introductions to the people and places that informed the development of her enduring identity. It's in this part of the book where what's *not* discussed is most distracting, where vague language threatens to derail the narrative. Her relationship with Kurt Cobain is described as unique and close, but what does that mean exactly? What did that connection look like? How did they interact, beyond his occasional confessions? What was life like on the road, not in terms of practicality, but in terms of emotion? When did the excitement happen? How did it infect their relationship? Did it electrify them, or was it business that didn't enjoy an infusion of romance? What was her contribution as producer to Hole's first album, and what was it that led her to agree despite initial reservations? It is very hard to see Kim Gordon actually placed in different scenes, as opposed to watching them.
Where it becomes beautiful is when she just lets herself go limp in her own heartbreak, and reveals the stages of her 27 year relationship coming undone. The plain language is just as revealing as the poetic moments, and I appreciate that she didn't force herself to list off the reasons she chose to try very hard to keep this relationship going -- the length of time is reason enough. Her refusal to name the Other Woman reads as more cutting than naming her would have been, as it denies a social climber a link to legacy she likely craves. No one is let off the hook; no one gets a soft, apologetic introduction. Here, Kim Gordon lets herself be as angry as she needs to be, and you feel like a friend listening to someone speaking from the heart. It's graceful and gutting, without being petty.
I'm glad this was written when Kim Gordon was still angry and a bit numb, so that we can experience the raw emotion; too many memoirs try too hard to be controlled/resolved about their experience, which makes it seem like emotions should be experienced and then neatly filed away. This is messy and authentic and it aches. ...more
I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. This book is one part We Were Liars, one part The Book Thief, one part If I Stay. It's so muchI received a copy of this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. This book is one part We Were Liars, one part The Book Thief, one part If I Stay. It's so much of what's already been done by other authors, particularly the sort of authors that seem addicted to grief, with an added melodrama that makes the whole story annoying. I have read more than enough about Sad Rich Girls, and it's always the same story: has everything, but is neglected at home, and takes it out on other people. A few minor problems in between, but nothing that veers from the standard list of problems suffered by Sad Rich Girls. We are supposed to feel sorry for her, because despite being a near constant jerk. deep down she wants to be nice. Yawn. The narrator is supposed to be a childhood imaginary friend, but since there are very few stories about her interacting with this imaginary friend, it ends up reading as false intimacy for the sake of creating an omniscient narrator. In other words, it's forced. I guessed the ending three pages in, and got to congratulate myself for an accurate prediction. Still, I commend the author for having the discipline to complete a book at 18 years old, and the determination necessary to get it published.
one last note: I realize it's become popular to cram every tragedy possible into a single book, but please don't write about drug addiction if you haven't witnessed it first hand. There was no way at all that Julia acted like a drug addict, and to try and force a half-written addiction story in the midst of all the other subplots is just plain silly. ...more
I grabbed this book to read while killing time (and drinking too much coffee) in a cafe. The adoring declarations from various semi-famous authors scrI grabbed this book to read while killing time (and drinking too much coffee) in a cafe. The adoring declarations from various semi-famous authors scrawled all over the book had the opposite of the intended effect; I sat down braced to hate it. These no longer seem like endorsements so much as a list of friends, and I'm more likely to enjoy an author who has none.
Still, it took only one page for me to find myself fully lost in The Summer People. My favorite genre is magical realism, and I wish more American authors were comfortable combining the fantastic with the mundane. Kelly Link is clearly experienced and relaxed with this, and it shows. An entire world is created where some kind of fay folk are confined but thriving, and an intimacy between the reader and Fran and Ophelia develops quickly. The story ends abruptly, but resolved. From there I felt committed to the book as a whole, and each story offers new opportunities to enjoy the author.
However, if you're looking for lyrical writing and verbal gymnastics, this is not the book for you. The writing style is simple and crisp, with short sentences and swift acceleration of plot, and is supported by her wonderful imagination and grasp of story. There are places where I wanted the mythology to be pushed a little further, where I wanted her weird to get weirder. This is a great collection for people exhausted with the standard themes of literary fiction, lovers of fantasy and science fiction, and anyone looking for a ready exit from reality.
I don't read books like this (ever) but thought I'd give it a try. Like a lot of people, I have an almost angry relationship with the material objectsI don't read books like this (ever) but thought I'd give it a try. Like a lot of people, I have an almost angry relationship with the material objects surrounding me, and often hope for basements in my apartments, or cook up elaborate organizational schemes that never work. After reading, there are two things in particular that stood out: 1.) That inability to eliminate objects informs hesitation, or a lack of confidence in decision making; 2.) That after elimination, the objects that remain should be loved.
She also encourages visualization of your ideal environment during the process of elimination, while reminding oneself that each object that remains should be one that is loved. This is and of itself seems like one of those beautifully simple, obvious ideas that many of us never stumble on without coaching. Suddenly the concept of tidying feels quite personal, and like a confidence building exercise. I can't wait to discover new love for old things through elimination and renewed sense of treasure. ...more
I really wanted to like this book, but lately it's become too easy to spot the style of writers that emerge from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Though I'I really wanted to like this book, but lately it's become too easy to spot the style of writers that emerge from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Though I'm sure there are exceptions, the ones I've read tend to write about mundane things in curt prose that is supposed to read like swallowed emotions. We are supposed to be left breathless because the author has chosen to inhale. This might work, if so many of Iowa's authors weren't doing it. This is fine, but nothing new is happening here. ...more
What is it with modern paranormal books and the obsession with some subcategory of creature "shimmering"? Why do we need exhaustive descriptions of evWhat is it with modern paranormal books and the obsession with some subcategory of creature "shimmering"? Why do we need exhaustive descriptions of every smell? Why do we need to sit through long-winded exchanges between two individuals, with zero action going on? How many different ways can we describe eye contact? How many adverbs can exist on a single page? How many times has an otherwordly creature watched someone sleep? Why is every female character with an ounce of something special obligated to resist the something special for silly reasons that make zero sense?
Seriously: this book is utterly exhausting. 200 pages in I felt like I was reading "Twilight" all over again, except it takes longer for the damsel in distress to meet the family, and there's a dash of "The Historian" tossed in the mix. Within this first 200 pages 100 pages could have easily been edited out. We don't really need to know how many pairs of black pants the woman has, we don't need every single trip to the library, we don't need to know every detail of her trip to the market to make a 4,000 calorie dinner for one vampire that doesn't eat and an inexplicably thin witch, and we don't need supernatural yoga to exist on any planet, at any time, at all. And since this isn't a young adult novel and this is supposed to be a grown woman of almost 40, why isn't she getting it on with the vampire? Why doesn't anything ache? Maybe all her shimmering sloughs off all the signs of age and any feelings of urgency towards, you know, sex. Next time I feel inclination towards a best selling, I'm reaching for Harry Potter again. ...more
I received this book through Goodreads Giveaways, with the understanding that no review was required.
This is a beautifully designed book, and a colleI received this book through Goodreads Giveaways, with the understanding that no review was required.
This is a beautifully designed book, and a collection of essays about life in New York. Anecdotes from his childhood are mixed with daily observations and events of the present. Technically speaking, Appel is a skilled essayist with clear appreciation for the genre. On the downside, he's obviously good with formulas. Each essay involves the same turns. It's good writing, but it doesn't take risks -- not in terms of style, or subject matter. It would be interesting to see what he accomplishes with more challenging subject matter, or emotional vulnerability. ...more
**spoiler alert** In the not-too-distant future, the sharp divides between rich and poor grow even more rigid, while earthquakes and environmental dis**spoiler alert** In the not-too-distant future, the sharp divides between rich and poor grow even more rigid, while earthquakes and environmental disasters devastate populations. In an effort to save themselves from the lost city of LA, a couple heads out into the woods and claims an abandoned shack for their home. Things grow more complicated when a pregnancy is discovered, and their semi-comfortable isolation is replaced with a longing for other people that might help their child survive.
The first 100 pages of this book are fast paced and fascinating, presenting a future America that could actually happen. A lot of detail is offered to allow you to see what they're looking at, and how conclusions are drawn. It's a bit of a mystery why going feral meant summoning your inner Little House on the Prairie and hunkering down for some woman's work (like endless laundry) but who said sexism is dead? Things really fall apart when the hunt for civilization begins.
I don't understand why they were never curious enough to follow August. It's unclear why Cal feels so afraid of "the Spikes"; there's nothing presented in the description of Mr. Miller's investigation that left me a sense of anxiety or reasonable fear. There's no rhyme or reason to the Millers committing suicide. I'm never certain about what Frida looks like, which nagged at me at various places. They seem too mentally sound for people completely alone except for each other, and there's nothing playful about their personalities to indicate how they might amuse themselves. In other words: the central characters are deeply boring. By the time they actually entered the spikes, I felt like I was reading a Lost episode taking place in the Walking Dead's environment. I scanned pages and then began rapidly flipping, hunting for something interesting, shocking, or terrible that might happen and pull me onward towards the end. Finally, I decided to stop reading. The first part was great, but I didn't care what happened to any of the characters, and it's impossible to get through a book with indifference. ...more
The Zodiac murders of the 1960s and 70s were infamous for being unsolved and for the special attention-seeking nature of the perpetrator. This book isThe Zodiac murders of the 1960s and 70s were infamous for being unsolved and for the special attention-seeking nature of the perpetrator. This book is written by Gary Stewart, who believes himself to be the son of the true Zodiac. In the beginning we're provided crucial background about Gary Stewart's childhood, which is the first big reveal that both his biological parents were shady individuals, and that his father was potentially a psychopath. It informed being raised by adoptive parents, and not meeting his biological mother until later in life when she sought him out. As Stewart began to learn more about his family, he unpeeled layer after layer of evidence that his father might be responsible for these crimes. Some evidence is anecdotal; the more disappointing parts delve into wild speculation about his father's whereabouts and motivations, fictionalized to the point of being distracting. However, there are very strong pieces of evidence (I won't reveal to avoid spoiling it for others) that show this isn't an empty pursuit spun out of the imagination of someone who needs to demonize a father who neglected to raise him.
Or is it?
I appreciate the use of the coauthor as it strengthened the literary merit of the work, and the amount of detail, including photos, documents, handwriting analysis, etc., chronicling the journey lends higher credibility. However, there's still that lingering question: why is he doing this? This question is also posed to him in the book by his mother, who has other children who would be harmed through their biological father being "outed" as the perpetrator of these crimes. He doesn't really answer her as to why he persists all the same, and as a result doesn't really answer the reader. There's also no statement from the San Francisco Police Department as to why they've been so uncooperative in regards to resolving this case. At the very least, there should have been notation that the department refused to comment. ...more
I decided to conclude a day of small victories by wandering down to Powell’s to peruse books while slurping on coffee in the adjacent caffeine hut. II decided to conclude a day of small victories by wandering down to Powell’s to peruse books while slurping on coffee in the adjacent caffeine hut. I snagged “We Were Liars” off their Recommended Reading table and got comfortable. Three hours later I looked up. The book was finished, the coffee shop was empty, and I should have known better than to pick up a book with an endorsement from John “Grief Porn” Green on the cover. The last few chapters are roundhouse kicks to the throat. There should be a list of counselors provided for support. It’s beautifully written, drawing you in to the pulse of every character, and chronicles undoing with accuracy and grace. The suspense is great, the plotting marvelous, and I’m not giving any of it away. Suffice it to say I was left no choice but to stop at the nearest grocery store and use quarters to purchase comfort food I never eat unless the desire surfaces to poison myself. This is the only chance of restoring order to my insides so I can dream of dragons and mermaids tonight instead of seawater that cleanses nothing. This book is horrible. This book is wonderful. I’m never going to Powell’s again. (I’m lying.)...more