Keiler Roberts draws tales of her small family, most particularly the funny things that her daughter Xia says. This was a nice-ish read, but I would hKeiler Roberts draws tales of her small family, most particularly the funny things that her daughter Xia says. This was a nice-ish read, but I would have enjoyed less meandering & more context. ...more
Well, here's the best crime novel I'm going to read this year.
"It was turning out to be another nothing of a tour, the only job so far a four a.m. ouWell, here's the best crime novel I'm going to read this year.
"It was turning out to be another nothing of a tour, the only job so far a four a.m. outdoor scene in the West Village, where a home owner had been shot by his lawn mower while cutting the backyard . . . By the time Billy and Stupak made it to the scene - shots fires was shots fired- Emergency Services was already combing the yard for stray ordnance and some joker had handcuffed the high-end mower to a lamppost."
I read this page at lunch yesterday, laughed out loud & got the side-eye from a colleague, and figured that this book could take a nose dive straight off the edge of a cliff & it would still be the best crime novel I'm going to read this year. I fell face first into the characters, like Kate Atkinson-style, to the point that I'm wondering what Billy's up to today & I'm bummed about Yasmeen's coat. The dialogue is completely brilliant, especially the conversations between Billy and kids, which are so mind-numbingly confusing & precisely like what, say, talking to a six-year-old is really like. The story covers all the usual plot points that you'd expect, but still seems razor-sharp and fresh like a strawberry - case in point - (view spoiler)[Of course Billy was going to talk to his Alzheimer's-suffering former cop dad about what Pavlicek was up to and of course his father was going to have a story about a cop he knew who "killed someone pretty much in front of his partner" and of course the partner was Billy Sr, but when he looked his son in the eye & told him that he slept like a rock I still got a little chill. The whole scene manages to transcend cliché & seem completely realistic - in fact, the plot of the book itself has certainly been done before, yet at no point did I think ho hum, been there done that (hide spoiler)] The whole package is fantastic, it all comes together so well it makes me tingle, and is entirely deserving of a very rare five stars, which should really mean something since I'm Little Miss 3.09% Average. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist meets The Craft. This reads a lot like a YA novel, not because half of it concerns fifteen-year-olds who feel thaNick & Norah's Infinite Playlist meets The Craft. This reads a lot like a YA novel, not because half of it concerns fifteen-year-olds who feel that they don't belong in their own lives - teenage Meche tells her mom "This is not my place," and her mom replies "We all think that when we are fifteen" - but because of the utter lack of reflection on the part of adult Meche. While it is forgivable for teenage Meche to be angry at her best friend Sebastian to the point of (view spoiler)[using portable record player magic to knock him off his motorbike and into traffic, and to bully her other friend Daniela into helping her with her spell against her will (hide spoiler)] it's pretty unconscionable for her to be an ostensible adult & still be petulant & pissy about the whole situation. Adult Meche has Ferro Sue written all over her; she's cranky and uncommunicative, yet adult Daniela & Sebatian still want to create a connection with her, and of course her sullen self is the recipient of Sebastian's affections to the point that he's been pining over her his entire life & still wants to be with her after seeing in the flesh that she hasn't grown out of being a peeevish child, but hey, that's how these books go. I wasn't expecting anything less. This gave me fond memories of floating through the halls of my high school in my big men's suit jacket with my walkman in the inside pocket, watching everything happen through a constant soundtrack of late 80s, early 90s music - the best music ever - and I adore the mentality that there is a song for every situation & music will make it all better, so three stars for all that. ...more
Kate Atkinson kills me again. I'd write a review if I wasn't so bitter & broken-hearted that I'm not still immersed in Teddy's world.
(But review-Kate Atkinson kills me again. I'd write a review if I wasn't so bitter & broken-hearted that I'm not still immersed in Teddy's world.
(But review-ish: this is just barely not quite the soul-crusher that Life After Life was just because Viola exists in the book & she's so utterly awful & self-absorbed & goddammit just totally awful that every time she came up on the page I got yoinked right out of the story with extreme annoyance. And I liked reading about Bertie from everyone else's perspective, but I could have done without her chapter - yes, Bertie, I didn't like that guy you dated either & I really didn't want to read about him or the seminar you were at. But except for Viola, this is book is deadly. I could seriously almost cry that I have nothing more in front of me to read about Teddy & WWII. Atkinson can write WWII like no one else. Brilliant)....more
I feel like it's unfair to give this less than three stars simply beacuse it's the least Rick-centric volume in this series to date - if my absolute lI feel like it's unfair to give this less than three stars simply beacuse it's the least Rick-centric volume in this series to date - if my absolute least favorite character ever is still going to be alive & kicking, then I'll at least be happy to have him relegated to the kindly old dude who doesn't get up to much & no longer influences anyone to make terrible decisions. Unfortunately, I can't go any higher than three because it turns out that Carl is just as annoying as Rick, even though I did like how he stood up for Sophia. Why can't things be, say, Maggie-centric? Her little plot line tugged at my heartstrings. She's the female leader of one of the big enclaves & there's tons of friction surrounding her leadership - why can't we get more of that business instead of a panel of a girl tonguing Carl's damaged eye socket? ...more
If I have learned anything from watching movies, it's that if you Find Money in circumstances that involve dead people, you must absolutely not talk yIf I have learned anything from watching movies, it's that if you Find Money in circumstances that involve dead people, you must absolutely not talk yourself into keeping it to build a better life. Turn it over to the cops, leave it in the downed plane with that dead guy, bury it in the woods, but for god's sake don't take it with you because someone is always going to follow you & try to kill you messily in order to get it back. Happily, though, none of the characters in books like these know the things that I know, so they make their justifications for their foolish choices & I get to read snappy little noir-ish business like this. It's pretty easy to see exactly where all of this is going from the first page, but this is still well-written & tight enough to entertain, especially if you read it with your feet up on a hot day so you can marvel at how it could ever be that cold. ...more
As a long-time employee of a public library, there are always going to be things that patrons do or fret about that puzzle me (if the row you're perusAs a long-time employee of a public library, there are always going to be things that patrons do or fret about that puzzle me (if the row you're perusing ends on the bottom shelf, it carries on on the top shelf to your right; why does this perplex some folks so badly?), but for the most part I'm willing to keep my bemusement to myself - or, you know, mention it & complain about it mildly on the internet. But there is one thing that people do that makes me so freaking angry I will scream about it from the hilltops: do not write in your library books! Really, just BRAVO to the person who decided they were such a hot-shot editor they needed to write several proofreader’s marks in the margins of the copy of this that I checked out, making sure that everyone knew of, say, their supreme need to remove the word “that” from this passage: “’Somebody to go in and see that she’s eating . . . ‘” or their dislike of the word "Bovril," yet missing entirely the legitimate revision needed here: “’They will, however, will serve adequately . . . ‘” If you believe yourself smug enough to highlight what you feel (incorrectly) are errors in a published library book, for pete's sake, try not to miss the actual mistakes because it makes you look like an even bigger moron than the moron who simply writes in a library book.
Anyway, I took this home when it first came out, didn't read it because I had a million other books waiting & I didn't care for Among Others all that much, then picked it back up because of Becker's recommendation the other day because she knows how much I adored Life After Life and she felt like this was a pretty nice companion to that theme. Although I didn't love it nearly as much as I loved that book, it did ease some of the nostalgia I still feel about Ursula and who knows, maybe it'll make it easier for me to finally get to A God in Ruins since I'm kind of afraid to read that. Who is Patty? Is she Trish, who has a terrible personal life in a peaceful world with socialized medicine & legalized pot? Or is she Pat, who has a wonderful personal life in a world ravaged by nuclear fallout & constant terrorism? The dichotomy hinges on one choice that Patty makes during her formative years. Because this is a short book, her various lives have a condensed feel to them. A lot of momentous things happen to each iteration in a few hundred pages, but for the most part, Walton made me feel appropriately deep feelings for Pat, at least, and her partners in each life, even though her children & friends & various hangers-on aren't too fleshed out; for instance, one important person dies of AIDS & although this was supposed to be a highly emotional situation, I felt kind of meh about it. The ending is nothing to write home about either, as it seems like Walton didn't quite know where to go with it, so she did the slow fade hoping that this would suffice. It doesn't, not quite, but I don't know where else Trish/Pat could have been taken, so I'll just let my happy memories of one of the worlds she envisions, where gay marriage is legal & the death penalty has been abolished, carry me on to my next book - which hopefully has not been written in. ...more
Although I have no ambition whatsoever & thus identify not at all with David Smith's grandiose dreams of Art Success & his relentless, mopey dAlthough I have no ambition whatsoever & thus identify not at all with David Smith's grandiose dreams of Art Success & his relentless, mopey dismay at their non-achievement (as an example, I would never, moments after telling my son that I will always believe in him no matter what he does with his life, pull him aside to whisper, "But just make a name for yourself" because I can't fathom why on earth that might be important or relevant to living in the slightest) & although Meg is my least favorite brand of Manic Pixie Dream Girl, the bi-polar one who just won't take her meds, man, because if she takes them she just can't live, man, I admit that this made me a little misty & I thought that David's final art piece was really, really lovely. ...more
Well, it turns out the question I had about the last volume had a satisfactory answer - you can use the Staff ofHow does this not have cover art yet?
Well, it turns out the question I had about the last volume had a satisfactory answer - you can use the Staff of One with a thesaurus! Now I guess the next logical question is why it took Nico so long to figure that out, but oh well. The swap of (view spoiler)[Gert (hide spoiler)] for Xavin still makes me unhappy; as substitutions go, his weirdly abusive-boyfriend-ish/non-contraction using self is always going to strike me as a poor choice, even if I hadn't totally adored the person who died in the last volume (but I do have to give him grudging kudos for "'Crossing your arms and turning away does not mean I'm the one being unreasonable!'"). I am growing weary of the Young Avengers crossover issues, basically because I don't really care for the new Young Avengers (which I am kind of afraid to say out loud - don't tell Caitlin!), but I'm giving this whole thing an extra star for Dead End Kids - "'Why aren't you awesomed by me?'" All over that, and the cover art for that whole storyline is some of the best of the entire series. Even though I remain bitterly disappointed at yet another fake death (of someone who I really wanted to see dead, dammit!), I still enjoyed this more than the second volume. ["br"]>["br"]>...more
Another bitchin' entry in the Lazarus narrative. This one features perhaps the greatest swordfight ever drawn; if you'd have asked me if anyone couldAnother bitchin' entry in the Lazarus narrative. This one features perhaps the greatest swordfight ever drawn; if you'd have asked me if anyone could put a battle into a graphic novel that would make my heart race this hard I would've said no way, so hats off to Michael Lark, because chapter five is seriously awesome. This is a four-star review with my usual caveat that these seem way too short. Would it kill you guys to throw another three or four chapters in here so I can hang out with (ogle the biceps on) Forever a little longer?...more
This book ends with the most chilling sentence possible, a line that isn't upsetting at all unless you understand its context within the story & tThis book ends with the most chilling sentence possible, a line that isn't upsetting at all unless you understand its context within the story & then it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. That sentence is the only reason why I feel I have anything to say about this book. Even though I knew what was going to happen, the final line was the only thing that made me feel deeply the entire time I was reading. Which is a shame, because this book is ostensibly supposed to be about feelings. Anna lives in Switzerland, cheats on her husband with several different men, and has two sons who look like their father & a daughter who doesn't. Everything that happens to her seems to happen at arms-length; the clinical nature of most of her affairs, her slightly self-imposed exile from the country she lives in due to her inability to speak Schwiizerdütsch as well as to the reticence of the Swiss, her sessions with a therapist to whom she doesn't tell everything she's feeling - through all of it, I never really bought why Anna was so very, very unhappy. Even the one very major tragedy in her life (which almost seems positioned in the narrative as a punishment for her transgressions in a ham-handed, "mwah ha ha, the author is doing this to you" way because of what Anna is doing when it happens) lasts for a few pages & then seems unnaturally eased. I'm not sure if it was my personal failing or a failing of the writing that I didn't particularly connect with Anna or understand her many woes, but the writing itself was pretty, there are some nice truths that Anna eventually realizes in between all her musings on the nature of German verbs - particularly, "A single lifetime and yet so many lies . . . I wonder which one's the worst? Anna never asked herself. But the answer was easy. I've never been nearly as alone as I always say I am." I liked that a lot. ...more
Duane Swierczynski has succeeded in writing a totally preposterous book that I wanted to finish even as I shook my head in disbelief at its very prepoDuane Swierczynski has succeeded in writing a totally preposterous book that I wanted to finish even as I shook my head in disbelief at its very preposterousness. He stays entirely true to the voice of seventeen-year-old college student-turned reluctant criminal informant Sarie Holland; she writes, in an ongoing letter to her mother (the only way that Sarie's voice is transmitted to the reader) gems like, "So my bestie is a ho" or "You want me to dime on someone I don't even know?" or "Thing is, I can't get dressed at home without Dad asking a million questions," all of which made me cringe, but her childish voice and her hair-pullingly frustrating actions stay true to who she is, for the most part. She does some incredibly stupid stuff in her quest to get out of narcotics officer Ben Wildey’s pocket - in particular, her vague attraction to and willingness to protect D., the basically random dude who got her into the CI mess in the first place - but most of her actions are believable in the context of her being a not-particularly-street smart teenager trying to act on a maturity that she doesn’t possess. Of course, since she’s a not-particularly-street smart etc., she discovers an inherent knack for uncovering all sorts of shady business in the Philly PD much more quickly than the actual cops. The danger faced by Wildey’s CIs was one reason that I stuck around, but it isn’t explained very well, nor is Sarie’s friend Tamara’s Amoroso dot com tangent that I think was supposed to tie everything together, and on top of Sarie’s increasingly ridiculous antics & the deus ex machina that attends her, there is a weird, drug-related sexual assault situation involving a shady doctor that was just so, so excruciating & unnecessary. But all of that aside, dammit, as much as I was rolling my eyes at myself while I read, I kept reading until the end. ...more
So I've been trying to shy away from hiding my reviews for spoilers, basically because I'm trying not to be lazy, and because I used to regard the mosSo I've been trying to shy away from hiding my reviews for spoilers, basically because I'm trying not to be lazy, and because I used to regard the most basic of plot points as spoilers & that's just silly. The event in this book that I'd not want to ruin for anyone (or have wanted to have ruined for me before I read this) comes up in almost every review that I've read of this book on this site, and is, in my opinion, grossly understated in every case. I'm kind of torn as a result. I don't want to hide my review since no one else seems to think that this event is such a big deal, but good grief, saying that a certain character gets shot does not do justice to what actually happens at all. I guess I'll just say be aware: I'm going to mention a major plot point about halfway through this. You'll find this same plot point mentioned in every other review you'd read here, I just see what happened a little differently from everyone else. My ass = covered now, right?
After leaving a couple's counseling session wherein she has announced that she wants to separate from her husband, plucky heroine Marina Benedict spies a baby in a stroller. The baby smiles & seems captivated by her; turns out all babies act this way when she's around. A short time later, she gets on a bus & sees this same baby in the arms of a strange man - but fear not, courageous Marina follows the man to an abandoned building, where she is captured by three bad guys, who have bungled their usual nefarious scheme and have resorted to dabbling in other criminal business.
The term 'Mary Sue' may not have been coined when this was written in 2001, but rest assured that Marina Benedict certainly fits the criteria. Here's where everyone references the fact that Marina is shot and survives, which does a disservice to what George actually wrote, even as she in turn does a disservice to her reader. "The sound is not so loud. There is fire in her side at the end of her life, lightning in her head, and then blackness." If you write such a thing about your character, who is tied to a chair & shot in the head & chest, should your reader not take that to mean that you've killed that character? Nothing like such a turn of events to make one think, 'damn, mortality & so forth' before reading on, and at first I admired George for her gutsy willingness to create a character & then murder her a scant 40 or so pages into the book. But it turns out that there was very little to admire after all, since Marian somehow lives through her execution with her remarkable beauty unsullied, despite, you know, having a wound in her skull, and goes on to solve the crime more quickly than the actual detectives & FBI agents assigned to the case, all while catching the eye of the married commanding detective, who just can’t believe how graceful and hot and awesome and all-around wonderful she is.
How terribly, utterly disappointing.
This book annoyed me to no end. I was certainly enraged by the fact that Marian was apparently shot with amazing take-back bullets that leave her almost entirely uninjured for the rest of the book – and with her perfect photographic memory of what happened completely intact – because lord knows that the ridiculous premise of almost-death has been coming up in so many of the books I’ve read lately (Nick Cooper, I am still mad at you for being alive) and it's really starting to piss me off. But that combined with the tired device of a married detective who simply must be attracted to & eventually have sex with the victimized woman who is part of his investigation, and how the detective and Marian’s sister and her estranged husband and the woman whose baby was kidnapped are constantly reflecting again and again on how beautiful she is and what a wonderful person she is, and the fact that Marian eventually confronts one of the bad guys again & she doesn’t get shot again because he’s stymied on her incredible gorgeousness, that elevate this to true throw the book across the room status. Thanks but no thanks, Kathleen George.
Another chapter in the tale of golden boy gangster Joe Coughlin. While I'm skeptical of the pat-ness of Joe's untouchable nature (I had this same probAnother chapter in the tale of golden boy gangster Joe Coughlin. While I'm skeptical of the pat-ness of Joe's untouchable nature (I had this same problem by the end of Live By Night, since every. single. time. there was a situation that was So Dangerous or there was No Hope of Getting Out of There Alive, Joe breezed through it all with increasingly preposterous ease), Lehane always manages to draw me into his hoodlum-land. This has all the usual suspects you'd expect in a crook book; the rat in the organization, the moron lieutenant who makes terrible, bloody mistakes yet has to be kept around because he's related to so-and-so, the one partner who's totally psychotic & freaks out all the normal mobsters with his murderous detachment, the guy you'd never suspect who wants to kill everyone & overthrow the boss so that he can rule the underworld. One thing that bugged me about this, that I'm sure comes up in Live By Night and The Given Day (had I finished that one) and every other outlaw book under the sun, is how much the women suck. Teresa's the only woman in this book who isn't a loser. The wives are either unseen, nagging harpies or depressed, incestuous grotesqueries, and the only woman who gets any screen time when the ruffians meet is a faded, drug-addled shade of her former rambunctious self. Vanessa has the potential to be a real badass, even though as soon as she was introduced as someone who loathes Joe but puts up her revulsion for the sake of playing politics, I knew where that relationship was headed & I rolled my eyes but hard, but in the end, of course she ends up (view spoiler)[figuratively barefoot & literally pregnant, showing up on Joe's doorstep just in time to see him get shot to death in the street (hide spoiler)]. I know that's basically what to expect from hooligan tales, since no one's writin' 'em about the ladies, especially not during the time frame of WWII, but I don't know, I just really liked Teresa right after the prologue & I was hoping for at least a little more about her story. I'm tempted to give this a whole other star - it gets at least a half - for the ending - heck yeah, bleak & shocking & mildly sickening! I love an ending like that, and my god, Joe, how I hope so too. ...more
But why say that I read this & enjoyed it? Because the writing is exquisitely crafted. Because the ultimately deadly mold looks "as if someone had chewed a piece of iridescence and stuck it, like gum, on the wall." And because Jill Clement has that knack that I so admire in writers, to make the everyday mundane seem not only interesting but compelling. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I have a hard time reading this because, by god, I hate cousin Charles as much as Merricat does. Apparently I have a thing for just being left alone bI have a hard time reading this because, by god, I hate cousin Charles as much as Merricat does. Apparently I have a thing for just being left alone by everyone, being constantly shut up in the house, following an exacting routine, gardening & hiding out & burying things in the woods to keep safe. "All our land was enriched with my treasures buried in it, thickly inhabited just below the surface with my marbles and my teeth and my colored stones, all perhaps turned to jewels by now, held together under the ground in a powerful taut web which never loosened, but held fast to guard us." And Uncle Julian is the character with the greatest lines ever: "'I think you have forgotten yourself, young man, to take such a tone to me. I am pleased you are repentant, but you have taken far too much of my time. Please be extremely quiet now.'" I'd love to say that to someone some day. ...more