oh stephanie plum, our time, it's coming to an end.
look, i love these as diversionary fluff, or, perhaps, more specifically, as a palate cleanser whenoh stephanie plum, our time, it's coming to an end.
look, i love these as diversionary fluff, or, perhaps, more specifically, as a palate cleanser when my brain feels overwhelmed with more serious stuff.
but that's no excuse for how long this thing is taking to play out.
here's my thing: i understand the basic tenets of the formulaic serialized fiction. and just because i can smell a villain a mile away or predict that stephanie will be sent home several times with care packages of food from her mother after taking grandma mazur to yet another viewing at the funeral parlor doesn't mean that the author should have permission to completely stop progressing the bigger picture. if your story isn't building to some sort of inevitable decision or conclusion, well, what good is it?
listen, i don't care if stephanie sleeps with half of jersey and then emasculates the other half. i really don't. she has no commitments; she can sleep with whomever she wants. do i think it's a little bit gross that she isn't honest about the fact that she's down and dirty with both morelli and ranger around the same time? sure. but it's fiction. it's not like evanovich is going to give her a raging case of scabies to teach her better puritanical values or convince her to guard her chaste treasures better. no reader wants that. we don't read these things because stephanie is morally correct, frigidly pure, or emotionally stable. we read them because she's a lucky little basketcase with enough chutzpah to fuel a small revolution. but even that schtick is wearing thin.
but cut her some slack. she's fictional, after all.
worst case scenario, we get a baby plum on the way and evanovich wastes another book trying to get us to guess the daddy.
at this point, morelli's "cupcake" and ranger's "babe" are starting to grate a bit. i need something more, some bigger goal than marriage and babies. maybe steady employment? a better life for rex? i don't know.
if i don't get it soon, i'm done with this series....more
what i learned from this book / promises to my daughters, who are far too young to read this review and far too smart to ever misread ethan frome:
1. rwhat i learned from this book / promises to my daughters, who are far too young to read this review and far too smart to ever misread ethan frome:
1. repression is not the answer. i will not move to idaho and sell vitamin-infused drinks. i will not marry a man who is as weak-spirited as i am and i will not let either one of us convince the other that accepting a blond jesus as our personal lord and savior is the answer to loving and fulfilling life. i will not accept self-help gurus as my personal lord and savior. i will not put the responsibility of my personal happiness on anyone else and i will not selfishly cast aside the ones i love in order to find myself. oh hell to the no.
2. i will not read a book written by aforementioned self-help guru, move to utah, learn how to rock climb, abandon my daughter(s) in her junior year, just as she begins the most important romantic relationship of her still-young life.
3. if my best friend ever calls me and informs me that she plans on blowing up a poodle, i will act quickly and decisively.
4. i will never let my daughters date anyone whose last name is also a holiday.
5. i will let my mother buy the girls proper underwear and shoes that fit, if i feel that i am somehow incapable of handling such a task myself.
6. if my daughter tells me that she is planning on spending the day working on a research paper about an obscure explorer who drowned for the third time in one year, i will ground her ass, knowing full well this is code for "i'm off to lose my virginity."
7. i will not let my daughters misinterpret any great work of literature as "this is a sign from above that i should have sex! now!" because that, i'm sorry, is just stupid.
8. when having "the talk" with my girls, i will reiterate that solid relationships cannot be founded on lies. and that there's nothing shameful about drinking apple juice and being a total spazz.
9. i will get trained on how to deal with both aggressive and defensive bears in the wilderness. just in case.
10. i will not be a crazy bitch. i will NEVER suggest that we "blow up" someone who has hurt our feelings/blown up our stuffed poodle with a firecracker and then spell out the word PRETEND so that the other people in the room don't think i'm homicidal. i will not push my kids down a hill in a sled so that they are forced to come to grips with their bad decision making and confront literally their mistaken metaphoric reading of "Ethan Frome". i will not leave my girls home alone on any major holidays and i will not confuse playing "Password" as foreplay.
11. if i ever write a book, i will not leave it open-ended and inconclusive so that the reader can choose the ending they see fit. in their heads. because that shit will not fly. no, no, it will not fly.
reading this play should be mandatory in high school. it's a compelling piece about compassion, conformity, conviction, and crime. in terms of reinforreading this play should be mandatory in high school. it's a compelling piece about compassion, conformity, conviction, and crime. in terms of reinforcing humanity, the character of #8 who, while not convinced entirely of the defendant's innocence, honestly believes in the singular worth of a man's life. i'm not entirely sure i believe the validity of the challenges to the evidence...but...well, that's not really what the plays about.
the art in this book is beautiful. the story creeps me out.
the narrative begins with mrs. seahorse wiggling and waggling and doing some sort of weirdthe art in this book is beautiful. the story creeps me out.
the narrative begins with mrs. seahorse wiggling and waggling and doing some sort of weird babydance and putting some eggs into mr. seahorse's pouch.
i love a little sex in my books, but the procreative habits of seahorses doesn't really scream "bedtime story!" to me.
then, mr. seahorse traverses the ocean where he meets several other men who are carrying their own baby-eggs safely across the waters (while passing hidden fishies along the way). sure, to a 2.5 year old who doesn't know any better, it's a cute little story, but to a seasoned female reader it feels a bit "we men rule! good job, bro! way to carry those eggs!"
i don't know, maybe it would have been cuter if the hubby read this one to the kiddo.
a non-scary r.l. stine? (by which, of course, i mean non-horror; it's actually sort of terrifying that stine is capable of drivel like this book)whoa.
a non-scary r.l. stine? (by which, of course, i mean non-horror; it's actually sort of terrifying that stine is capable of drivel like this book)
the premise here is fairly banal: typical bored teenaged girl gets marciabrady eyes for another boy who is not her boyfriend (the titular ernie), she decides to break up with the super-obnoxious ernie to date said-beau, ernie follows her around like a diseased puppy, she cringes internally and externally, ernie gets a new galpal, suddenly ernie seems super-compelling and dreamboat-fantastic again.
seriously, that's the plot.
it's a lot of angst, whining, and stereotyping for one book. stine should stick to the goosebumping....more
i love my toddler. she's precocious and funny and totally obsessed with princesses.
i'm sure it's a rite of passage or a phase or whatever other lie moi love my toddler. she's precocious and funny and totally obsessed with princesses.
i'm sure it's a rite of passage or a phase or whatever other lie mothers tell themselves to permit their kids to read the crap they love without thinking of the dire repercussions (my fear includes a 20-something intoxicated fiona calling me up at 3 a.m. crying, begging me to tell her where her prince charming is...and me having to tell her that they don't fucking exist).
i don't know. i'm torn. this is a cute little book chock full o'princesses with all the pseudo-empowerment typical of our generation's treatment of said-princesses. but the end goal is always marriage, the girl is always beautiful, and there's still perpetually the happily ever after.
of course, reading fiona The Stranger probably hasn't done her any help either.
I do not like John Smith, or Four. I do not like James Frey as Lore. I do not want to read his fiction. I've no respect for his diction. I won't watch himI do not like John Smith, or Four. I do not like James Frey as Lore. I do not want to read his fiction. I've no respect for his diction. I won't watch him on Oprah's show I won't buy his books, oh, no, no!
Glowing gams, pendants, charms Circular scars on legs, not arms Super strength, endurance, and speed What color do Loriens bleed? Telekinesis and lumen? That Johnny Smith is no human! Mogadorians, stupid stuff. Plot development...kind of rough. Loric chests full of salty rock Overplayed side-plot with a jock Bernie Kosar is no beagle. Hart and Smith are barely legal.
Are you Number Four or not? Scouts on John's trail are getting hot. Hart and Goode are pathetic names. This novel is no "Hunger Games." Fall from Paradise? Tritely done. Battle for Lorics? Hardly won.
I do not like "I am Number Four" I will not read them anymore. ...more
one of my greatest joys as a mother is getting the opportunity to revisit all the books i loved as a child with my daughters. last night (or, more accone of my greatest joys as a mother is getting the opportunity to revisit all the books i loved as a child with my daughters. last night (or, more accurately, this week), we've been studying the allard oeuvre (which fiona calls "oubray" and declares "better than camels" - i am not sure what that means, or what she thinks "oubray" is, but i like it).
poor miss nelson, her students stink. they misbehave and goof off during recreational reading hour and are total miscreants.
so she dares to live the dream, our miss nelson. she decides she's going to get those kids to work.
and she does.
the creation of viola swamp has to be the single most ingenious expression of the frustrated teacher brain ever. and miss nelson, she owns it. she dresses all in black, changes her hair, goes goth, and alters her voice.
then she works the crap out of those kids so that by the time sweet pretty miss nelson gets back, they'd rob a bank for her, if she asked.
i'm sure her methods are frowned upon, but can you blame the woman for just wanting a little decorum?
i loved, loved, loved Case Histories and was very excited to read the second installment. i admire atkinsonoh jackson brodie, where did we go wrong???
i loved, loved, loved Case Histories and was very excited to read the second installment. i admire atkinson for her ability to weave a complicated, intertwined web of a plot, but the beginning of this book just lagged for pages and pages.
first, there are too many characters. while following the dissolving relationship between jackson and julia, the reader has to contend with the milquetoasty martin whose writer alter ego is far more compelling than his real life counterpart, gloria the deranged wife of a dying charlatan who refuses to acknowledge his death and instead disassociates herself by living larger than she's ever done before, louise the cop/potential love interest (should this thing with julia just not work out) who assists jackson in his quest to find a dead girl, and the cast from favors!, a "cleaning" service that offers the immigrant experience anyway you want it.
i don't know. all the subplots and sideplots and going back and forth between voices left me feeling extremely detached from the story as a whole. it took 252 pages for me to get into the novel (i clocked it!) and by then, i just wanted it to be over. i really like the idea of jackson, but here, atkinson writes him almost as a woman (bemoaning his flailing relationship, looking for labels and definitions, feeling impotent because of his lack of work and status, etc.). i don't know...it took the bits i really loved about the first in the series and subverted them to the point where i didn't even recognize jackson as the man who dutifully solved the murder of julia's sister.
i'm optimistic for the next book - perhaps the sophomore slump can be salvaged by a triumphant third....more
have i mentioned lately how much i love jackson brodie? because i do.
and i can't believe i didn't read these all in rapid succession like i'd intendedhave i mentioned lately how much i love jackson brodie? because i do.
and i can't believe i didn't read these all in rapid succession like i'd intended to (if only to save myself from unintentionally reading the first fifty pages of the second installment for a second time before realizing i'd read it before).
ah well, live and learn.
i also intended to write this review immediately reading the novel. that didn't happen either.
0 for 2, i guess.
this installment thrives largely because of atkinson's ability to pace and weave complicated threads of narrative in a way that doesn't feel clunky or convenient. she also creates likable characters - by which i mean more than just her protagonist. reggie is one of my favorite characters in recent literature. she's smart, she's funny, she's broken but not fundamentally. she could have come across as incredibly precocious, but, instead, she reads more as well-read salt-of-the-earth, an angel of life and death.
the only bit that felt a bit...i don't know...forced? to me was the subplot with jackson's newest wife. i read jackson as more clever than what happens and while his luck is perpetually what drives his inexplicable financial successes, it is his unflappable doggedness that leads him to be a good detective. he puts the pieces together remarkably slowly here (of course he is severely concussed), although his taste in women has been questionable since book one.
a solid installment, looking forward to the fourth. ...more
i've never read any kate atkinson before, but after this one, i'm a fan.
Case Histories is a compelling novel, split between three narratives centeringi've never read any kate atkinson before, but after this one, i'm a fan.
Case Histories is a compelling novel, split between three narratives centering on missing, abused, or dead girls. while the core material is difficult (i'm a mother of daughters, and, after reading this, i'm never, ever letting them take the bus home by themselves or spend too much time alone in a study, or chop wood), atkinson writes with an easy - if not entirely - british/scottish humor that keeps the text from ever feeling morose. while the book's cover suggests the novel is funny, i found, especially towards the end, that the novel felt sad to me, and several passages had me near tears as i struggled with the characters' losses through my own lense. still, it is the fusion of tragicomedy which ultimately propels it into the realm of four stars. remnsicent of White Teeth in some ways, the humor feels "british" in scope. jackson's cat lady client, for example, with her eccentric and highly inappropriate epithets for cats is a true joy. the debacle over amelia's scarlet tights, another.
the strength of the novel lies on the fictional shoulders of its protagonist, jackson brodie. he's likable, if not fallible, and the reader roots for him. i particularly enjoyed seeing the world through both amelia's and jackson's eyes, a sort of literary he saw/she saw in which amelia's misinterpretations of jackson's assessments of her create both pathos and humor for the ugly duckling that never really did turn into a swan. some characters - like jackson's ex-wife josie, for example, feel hollow and two-dimensional, but, well, we can't have everything, now can we?
i gotta say, i'm such a fan of interconnectivity. i used to watch the tv show "LOST" obsessively, yes, partly because of the mystery, but moreso because of the relationships between characters. when worlds collide and the human experience feels more well-constructed than random, that's a real plus for me. if you don't go in for that sort of thing, well, sadly, this book probably isn't for you.
what kept me from a 5 star rating is the flimsy threads by which jackson gets involved with the michelle/tanya plotline. there didn't appear to be much in the way of resolution or even in terms of true connection between the jackson-driven plot and this "case history" and thus it felt the least successful. while it certainly provided the reader with one of the more surprising "ah ha!" moments, it fails to ultimately deliver true impact since we, through jackson, feel so utterly removed from it.
i couldn't ignore vera dietz. but i'm not sure whether i should have tried harder to.
the premise is incredibly compelling: vera, fresh off the death oi couldn't ignore vera dietz. but i'm not sure whether i should have tried harder to.
the premise is incredibly compelling: vera, fresh off the death of her former best friend, struggles to carry on her life and become a productive member of society.
pagodas and pizzas: 1. vera and charlie: i've said this before and i'll say it again. the strength of most YA fiction resides in the nature of the relationship between the protag and their closest counterpart (the peeta and katniss phenomenon). here, it's vera and charlie, whose formerly close relationship has been compromised by the unfortunately named jenny flick (rip off of Election? maybe her evil, drugged out little sister?). the tension here is palpable (even though charlie only appears in flashback or ghost-form and there is no cheesy "Far and Away"-esque resurrection to worry about). 2. father and daughters: too often, i think that parental relationships appear adversarial in YA fiction. yes, ken and vera have their issues (mom left for las vegas, didn't take either of them, has a new life, and is happier for it), but neither is so fundamentally broken and neither feels cartoonish in their depiction. these are people trying their best to unbreak themselves. when they finally start leaning on one another for real support, the novel thrives.
underaged drinking: 1. gimmicky: the four person split-narration was helpful in some aspects (and engaging), but then there was the voice of the seemingly omniscient pagoda. i just couldn't buy into it. and lord knows how i tried. 2. plot like an afterschool special. or six. what didn't happen to vera? teen bullying, teen drinking, alcoholism, sexual misadventures, pedophilia, skinheads, physical/domestic abuse, death, teen sex, drugs, and rock and roll. it was too much. life is full of drama, do we really have to augment that with all the sparkly excesses of degenerate living? 3. jenny: she is a vile antagonist who doesn't get nearly what's coming to her. the dissatisfaction the reader experiences as a result of that cannot be expressed in words. only in star power. 4. the end: it's a little too hokey. i don't know. i wanted more, i guess....more
oh, fiona, and your endless love for elmo. when will it ever end?
of all our elmo books - and we have a ton - this one is my favorite. it's less aboutoh, fiona, and your endless love for elmo. when will it ever end?
of all our elmo books - and we have a ton - this one is my favorite. it's less about "reading" and more about looking. there are cute sections based on numbers, alphabet, shapes, colors, etc. fiona has a particular fondness for the trapezoids and ovals, and the number page is so well-loved that several doors and windows are missing their "doors".
my only real complaint, in fact, is that the book is not particularly sturdy. we definitely lost the first flap during our first reading.
what can i say? that fiona is an enthusiastic young reader.
teaching Hamlet is perhaps one of my greatest joys as an educator.
for years, i have loved this play. hamlet's inappropriate fascination with his motheteaching Hamlet is perhaps one of my greatest joys as an educator.
for years, i have loved this play. hamlet's inappropriate fascination with his mother's sex life, his cruel treatment of his former lover, his reluctance to act, his decision to put on an antic disposition...i love it all.
this fall, my students are gravitating toward the complexity with which hamlet approaches his madness. this week, as we read over hamlet's "love letter" to ophelia, my students were amused by the danish prince's decision to focus on ophelia's "white bosom" as one of his first talking points. when faced with the reality that hamlet, perhaps, has seen too much lust, they were entertained by the possibility that hamlet's intended audience was never his ladylove but always her father (and more importantly his uncle). while they fail, perhaps, to connect to some of the more philosophical notions embedded in the text, the idea that hamlet would, from afar, enjoy the notion of his uncle being read a dirty letter by the foolish father of his former flame gains him a modicum if respect.
i think i've also managed to convince them that horatio is perhaps a fragment of his imagination, the rationally-charged tyler durden of the play.
Imaginary Girls feels both supernatural and contemporary, a fusion of magic and realism that haunts while it enticeoh man. what a weird little book...
Imaginary Girls feels both supernatural and contemporary, a fusion of magic and realism that haunts while it entices. i was hooked from the beginning - the images of chloe swimming into the murky waters, the cold fingers of the resevoir people gripping at her feet - propelling me forward. ruby lurks in the background then, a strong voice, full of promise and possession. as a younger sister myself, it was easy for me to see how chloe could idealize this enigmatic young woman who seems to create a new world for her sister, who seems to control those she meets, who seems to love her sister above anyone else. what i battled with was ruby herself whose motivations never felt entirely altruistic, who seemed to need her sister more than life itself for reasons that were never made clear. yes, their mother was useless and yes, their fathers were gone, but that felt like a hollow explanation for a connection that was meant to be much closer and darker.
i struggled with the rating on this one. the writing is excellent, like a convoluted and bad dream that never relents in its creepiness but fails to ever deliver any real scares. i don't know...i guess i just wanted more. more answers, more finality, more hope. chloe is a ghost of girl, possessed by a sister who feels, at times, simultaneously cruel and deluded in her machinations.
aside from the failure to ever fully develop the resevoir/olive people (aside from one scene involving backstory), the subplots involving chloe's adolecent attempts at adulthood via sexual exploration with unworthy men felt woefully underdeveloped. it never felt clear why chloe approached her behavior with such seeming detachment and it never resonated why ruby reacted so menacingly toward those suitors. yes, i know that owen's treatment of chloe was a bit harsh, but ruby's retribution makes her seem less magical and more maniacal.
but maybe that's the point. maybe that's what her involvement with the resevoir people has done to her. i'm not sure. and it's in those grey moments where the book ultimately succeeds the most. the reader is left to fill in the blanks between truth and reality, between magic and monster, between sister and sinner.
so, i have this thing. i cannot in good conscience give more than one star to a book that i could not finish. and i could not finish this one. it starso, i have this thing. i cannot in good conscience give more than one star to a book that i could not finish. and i could not finish this one. it started off strongly enough and the premise was interesting, but it felt severely overwritten. the second half dragged so desperately that i had to return it to the library before i could muster the interest to complete it. and, when i can't be bothered to even renew it, well, that's saying something.
i definitely acknowledge that i am in the clear minority here, but i really just didn't love this book....more