I don't usually have the patience for audiobooks, but in this case it was a no-brainer. Plus, my friend shared it with me on Audible, so super-no-braiI don't usually have the patience for audiobooks, but in this case it was a no-brainer. Plus, my friend shared it with me on Audible, so super-no-brainer. It just makes sense that a performer as personal and immediate as Amy Schumer would narrate her own story. Amy is arguably the hottest comic in the world right now, and between magazine interviews, her standup tours and specials, a hit tv show and a hit movie, one might think she'd spilled all her crazy stories by now.
That is very much not the case. For one thing, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is less about comedy than you'd think. Although the funny parts are very funny, a lot more of it is fairly serious, or at least bittersweet. Stories about growing up in a tumultuous, many step-whatever family, about crushing embarrassments and bad decisions, alternate with segments -- some sweet, some painful -- about her relationship with her MS-stricken father and hilarious adventures with her sister/bff/writing partner Kim. I didn't expect to get something in my eye so often (ahem). She also has some strong opinions about serious subjects, including gun control and body-shaming.
Funnily, a lot less of it than you'd expect is about sex. Not that it's clean, mind you. But this is the place where her stage persona and her life seem to deviate pretty significantly, and though she freely talks about sex, she highlights the difference between being a "skank" and being sex-positive. A lot of her focus is on her own bumpy road as a woman in a male-dominated field (world), and how it made her the body-positive, outspoken, hilarious chick she is today. I feel like Amy Schumer has a lot to teach young women, advice she models well in all her projects, despite sometimes working very blue. I hope teenage girls are passing this book around anyway -- they already know all the dirty stuff, but they might learn something about being independent, uncompromising young women.
The one surprising thing that kind of bothered me was that Amy didn't always sound as comfortable reading her words from a page as she does on stage, and comes off a little flat in places. But most of the time, The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo is subversive, observant, funny and surprisingly moving. Worth the listen....more
After the death of his wife, insurance salesman Oswald Priestly hopes for a fresh start when he moves himself and his teenaged daughter Amy into NazarAfter the death of his wife, insurance salesman Oswald Priestly hopes for a fresh start when he moves himself and his teenaged daughter Amy into Nazarill, a centuries-old hulk of a building newly renovated into "luxury apartments." Unfortunately the renovations haven't entirely effaced Nazarill's bloody past, which lies closer to the surface than either Priestly is prepared for. When fifteen year-old Amy's adolescent (and totally normal) rebellions start to puzzle, then annoy, and finally infuriate Oswald, Nazarill's dark heart begins to beat.
The story is told in alternating narrative voices, and readers are privy to the perspectives of both Oswald and Amy, which begin to warp as the house goes to work on them. While Amy struggles against childhood nightmares come to life, she also becomes driven to uncover the secrets of her new home; put simply, Oswald becomes obsessed with stopping her at any cost. We can only watch helplessly as their lives absorb the taint of old violence from Nazarill's walls.
Nazareth Hill puts me in mind of The Shining, in that it tells of a house that feeds on poisoning its tenants' minds (and fathers in particular), but its vibe is more a a very British old-school ghost story. It relies heavily on a classic slow build of suspense -- strange noises, bad lighting, doors just barely cracked open, and shapeless revenants glimpsed but not-quite seen. All this it does excellently (view spoiler)[Amy's adventures with the first floor in particular were spellbindingly awful for me (hide spoiler)], so when the shocks do come, they are really shocking. OMG-gasp-out-loud shocking.
Where Nazareth Hill falls a star short of perfect is in the unevenness of its characterization: who knew a middle-aged man could write a more nuanced teenaged girl than he could a middle-aged man? Obviously, readers are meant to sympathize with Amy, but it's a shame that Oswald, who starts out as a hapless widower coping with the mysteries of adolescence, becomes an entirely repulsive, over-the-top character. It feels plain lazy to make the heroine's father a total monster; even Jack Torrance retained a shred of humanity to the end.
4 out of 5 stars for excellence in atmosphere peopled by unevenly executed characters. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Now that's how a speculative thriller should be done! Dark Matter has it all: breathless pacing, inteWow. And I thought time-turners made a big mess.
Now that's how a speculative thriller should be done! Dark Matter has it all: breathless pacing, intense and ever-twisting plot, heart-wrenching love story . . . and a totally satisfying resolution.
The story of an insanely dangerous physics experiment (view spoiler)[involving quantum states and the multiverse theory (hide spoiler)], and its fascinating and ultimately quite disturbing results, Dark Matter delivers on every level. The science is compelling, and explained (but never info-dumped!) for the non-physicists among us, so I even feel like I learned something. Our protagonists, primarily physicist/teacher Jason Dessen, but also his wife Daniela, artist turned stay-at-home-mom, are fully-fleshed and very human ((view spoiler)[no mean trick when there are multiple very different versions of them, sometimes in the same room (hide spoiler)]); I found myself rooting for them so hard it was impossible to put the book down for more than a few minutes at a time. (Seriously, I read until my eyes were on fire.)
It's really hard to review this book without spoiling it, so I'll just say "read it." If Dark Matter isn't a huge success for Blake Crouch, I'll eat my hat. (Also ready to watch the movie, whenever somebody is ready to make it, because it's gonna make a great freaking film.) Five fat, fun, freaky stars, and unquestionably one of the most satisfying books I've read this year.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more