Review I cannot review this book. I can simply say that this book made me laugh and cry copiously. And, immediately after finishing, I wantedRating A+
Review I cannot review this book. I can simply say that this book made me laugh and cry copiously. And, immediately after finishing, I wanted to start it all over again. Also, I've bought one of Tropper's other novels (just the first of many).
Read. This. Book.
Here's one of the sections that made me laugh:
[Backstory: He's waiting for a first date to return from running one of her two sons to the ER for a stomach virus and is looking for a bathroom]
"The hall bathroom is full of bath toys, and there's a strange, donut-shaped contraption on the toilet seat, ostensibly to keep the boys from falling in when they're crapping, and it doesn't look terribly sanitary so I decide to use [the date's:] bathroom, which could be construed as an invasion of privacy, but I've mopped the puke off her floors and I'm baby-sitting her [other:] son, so we've got to be past all of that, right? Besides, she specifically told me to make myself at home, and at home I don't crap on a plastic piss-stained hemorrhoid donut with Cookie Monster smiling creepily up at me like a puppet with a bathroom fettish," (p. 226).
Even if that didn't seem funny, Read. This. Book.
Recommendation Fans of smartly-written novels by other beautifully-sarcastic guys such as Jonathan Franzen and Joshua Ferris....more
Review This book got on my nerves so thoroughly throughout that I had to force myself to keep going, but I persevered and it ended up being..Rating C+
Review This book got on my nerves so thoroughly throughout that I had to force myself to keep going, but I persevered and it ended up being... not bad.
The plot started off ridiculously slow, but picked up at the last fifty pages (enough to get me to pick up the next book in the series... I'm such a sucker for a series).
The reason this book was a C+ (slightly above average) was because at times (albeit rarely) the dialogue actually made me laugh out loud. Literally. Not text speak. Literally laughing out loud. Want an example? Okay... here's a scene where Budge (Bella's high-school-aged step brother) is bidding Robbie (Bella's first-grade-aged step brother, Budge's actual brother) a good day at his first day of school:
"[Budge:] stands beside his brother and holds out his fist. Robbie hits it with his own. 'Make me proud today, Robmesiter. Keep your hands to yourself and remember rule number one above all things.'
'Don't discuss politics.'
'No, the other one.'
Robbie nods. 'Don't eat glue.' He drops his chin. 'It's my weakness,'" (p. 27).
Robbie was my favorite character. If you're looking for a funny, clean, quick read with a good plot, decent characters, and some funny dialogue, you might want to pick this up. Note: I had to pick this up at my Christian book store, so keep that in mind (or get it online at your favorite online realtor) if you want to get it. ...more
First Line: "If anyone had ever told me I'd leave my big-city job and suburban home for rural country living, I would have declared them a fRating: D-
First Line: "If anyone had ever told me I'd leave my big-city job and suburban home for rural country living, I would have declared them a few bristles short of a brush," (Author's Note, p. xi).
Review: I'm having a hard time writing this negative review because in the last chapter of this book, McCorkindale writes about how she wants to be the next Nora Ephron (not the highest of literary heroes, but to each his own) and what rejection is like. I wish she hadn't written that--and made herself "human"--because I wanted to rip this book to shreds. Instead, I'll just point out, semi-analytically, why I didn't like this book.
I didn't appreciate this memoir because it failed to achieve any discernible mission. There was no direction to the book. In her defense (and in lambaste of her editor), McCorkindale started this venture as emails to her friends back in New Jersey and then branched into a blog which was the genesis for this book. And it read like that. A collection of stories, humorous at times, but without a plot arc. For example, she had one chapter, "Down the Rabbit Hole," that was about her depression (and treatment). It was in no way related to the chapter preceding, "Meet the LOB Squad" (about her friends who share her distinct lack of good breeding), or following, "Jersey Girl" (about her love for trips back to Jersey to reclaim big hair and kitschy gifts). It's just random.
The book starts out, as stated above in the first line that was quoted, with Susan talking about how she was moving to Virginia reluctantly. And you assume, or at least I did, that she'd eventually come to embrace her farming life. And, in her defense (and in lambaste of her editor), there is a tiny shred of that--roughly five pages worth of material out of 300+--but it's definitely not enough to substantiate the premise of this book. Additionally, there wasn't even many stories about how her New Jersey upbringing got her into farming faux pas; mostly it was her complaining about the cows (aka, "the girls"), the chickens, her husband, her sons, and the farm smells (and dirt/mud). There are times when some of her writing is funny, but I don't need to read more than one passage dedicated to her search for the perfect push-up and/or her complaining about her cleavage curse.
Her writing style relied upon two things:
1. Alliteration and/or "Catchy" Turns of Phrase: "Together we replaced the perch, and I went back to the piano, but only after carefully... digging out the livestock detritus packed between my piggies," (pp. 247-8). That was her way of saying, "After I cleaned cow manure out from between my toes." Either way, it's not that interesting of a side note. My advice: Make the story interesting and then the writing. One is not a substitute for the other. Just tell us interesting stuff, don't try to be clever. Unless, of course, you are clever, but 99% of the time writers aren't nearly as clever as they think they are. I know I'm not.
2. Lists: "True, I'm free of the sight and smell of the pigs that whizzed wherever they pleased during my morning and evening commutes, but they've been replaced by bulls. And cows. And deer. And dogs. And groundhogs. And foxes. And horses. And hens," (p. 212). Yeah, we get it--lots of animals pee on farms. Dial it back.
Recommendation: Skip this book. Instead, if you want your rural fix, read a piece of good literature that is set on a farm (perhaps A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley)....more
I picked the book up yesterday, hoping to be able to read over the course of the next week or so (in order to be reading it and having it done by theI picked the book up yesterday, hoping to be able to read over the course of the next week or so (in order to be reading it and having it done by the end of the book chats next Friday); however, I could not, I repeat could not put this book down. This book was so riveting, the characters so multi-hued, the writing so beautiful, the struggles so real that you simply had to keep reading.
I originally wanted to help lead the book chats on this book because, judging by the title (which isn't necessarily always the smartest way to pick a book), I thought it would be a modern retelling of Don Quixote... I saw "windmills" and thought, "My, that sounds Quixotic." Later, after agreeing to participate, I actually read the synopsis of the book which said it's supposed to be a modern retelling of West Side Story (the re-telling of Romeo and Juliet).
All that to say that, even though there were numerous references to both WSS and R&J in the book, this book was totally Quixotic. More than their shared romance, which was beautiful and earnest, the reader gets totally wrapped up in each individual's quest for self-understanding and learning how to perceive and think about the world. Both of them have moments where they are a modern-day personification of Don Quixote.
Also, I think it's pert near impossible to have major references to windmills (which Chasing Windmills does) without bearing that refence to Cervantes--that's too put into our modern literary consciousness to be over-looked.
I truly came to love these characters and Hyde, who weaves together two first-person narratives, is an amazing writer who was able to easily put on both sets of skin and bring both Maria and Sebastian to life. When she was Maria, I cringed and wrestled with understanding abusive relationships; when she was Sebastian, I wondered at the difficulties of growing up in an oppressive environment. She was spot-on, 100% able to nail both characters.
I can't possibly think of anything I would have changed about this book (which is really saying something for me, I know). You don't get the ending you thought you were going to get, but neither did Sebastian or Maria; however, you walk away having grown to understand their relationship and their love and their world, and you'll find yourself okay with it all....more
Review: For reasons beyond the scope of this review, let me just say that this book made me not want to be a writer. Holly Shumas does a preRating: B+
Review: For reasons beyond the scope of this review, let me just say that this book made me not want to be a writer. Holly Shumas does a pretty bang-up job of writing a book with a seemingly basic hook and keeping you interested. Writing a simple book and making it good is very hard to do. She's set the bar pretty high in this regard. (Perhaps higher than I would ever be able to grasp.)
This book also made me incredibly fearful to ever get married. Shumas is a marriage therapist and I think she might have been writing from some experience. Emotional affairs are no joke. And they probably happen just as often, if not more so, than physical infidelity. The questions that the affair raises in Eve's mind are questions that I'd scarcely want to answer.
A couple of things regarding the technical expertise of this book:
1. The hook came so early in this book that I was nervous for Shumas. I wasn't sure how she was going to sustain this "forgiveness" of the emotional affair for ~300 pages, but she held her own pretty well.
2. She wasn't pitch-perfect in handling this long, drawn-out turmoil in the marriage. At a couple of points I thought, "Yep, it was bad, but you need to piss or get off the pot. Just make a decision about what you're going to do with your life."
3. The climax was kind of surprising. The climax is, not surprisingly, an emotional climax. She has set up the characters of Eve and Jonathan to fit into particular boxes, and then she kind of flips the script. She kept her hand concealed so you couldn't really see "the climax" coming, but it caught me off guard. (But that wasn't all-together bad.) (Neither was it all-together good.)
It's hard to describe the book other than to say this: 1. If you're looking for clean resolutions, don't read this book. 2. If you're looking for a "fun" read, don't read this book. 3. If you don't like to read characters who complain or are "realistic," don't read this book.
Be warned: This book is not for everyone! But, if you like reading about people who live in reality (albeit, perhaps, a reality not like your own) and can take some grief and grit in reading, than this book is totally for you.
Recommendation: People looking for a better alternative to Sue Miller (see this review) will probably enjoy this book. ...more