I don't understand the hype. Maybe, partially, it's because I don't understand the book. I''ll be the first to thI don't understand. There, I said it.
I don't understand the hype. Maybe, partially, it's because I don't understand the book. I''ll be the first to throw that out there: I don't get it. And, you know what? That's fine. Different strokes for different folks, and different books for different...people, I guess. If there is one thing that I can embrace about this book, it is undeniably different, and for that, I'm grateful to have read it...but having read it, I'm not quite sure what all the hoopla is about.
I mean, my GoodReads' page was saturated with big, colorful ads (multiple ads on the same screen) all telling me just how Neal Gaiman-ish and super, special wonderful this book is supposed to be. I wanted the story to be half as good as the advertising campaign or even half as beautiful the cover, but, alas, it was not to be. I struggled through this one, hoping for a payoff at the end, something, anything to really pull the story together. That never really came to fruition here. And, again, I'm willing to accept that my dislike of this book could stem from me missing something that everyone else can apparently see. After the enchanting merwomen of The Book of Speculation, these mantis-fairy-stick-light-hive creatures didn't hold much sway,
It wasn't all bad or incomprehensible. It held "glittering" moments of promise - extremely interesting scenes or characters that would break the monotony of the rest of the book. The descriptions and flashbacks: Blue's cage days in the basement of Grandma Flora's house, Elisa and Blue's drug-fueled, fuzzy clubkid nights in New York, the artist colony's frightening murals - these are the shiny moments that made me hold out hope for the rest of the book, I felt the the meat of the story, the detail, had all had the stuff of magic; it just fell apart in execution. Maybe I disagree with the way the story is told - fragmented into the four sections each focused on one of the four main characters: Blue, Jason, Elisa and Gabe, Maybe I would have liked it if it was limited to either Gabe or Blue's perspectives. Maybe, I don't know, if I found the plot more compelling, I would have liked the book.
As it stands, I didn't like it. Not much at all. And because I didn't get it, just didn't connect, I would have a problem recommending it to anyone.
I received this e-galley from Gallery Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest opinion. Obviously, I wasn't a fan of this particular read; however, I appreciated the opportunity to read it nevertheless. Thank you! ...more
Oh dear. [Cue the dull hum of crickets chirping]. This is awkward.
I had a difficult time reading this book, and I'm having an even harder time reviewiOh dear. [Cue the dull hum of crickets chirping]. This is awkward.
I had a difficult time reading this book, and I'm having an even harder time reviewing it. As a Caucasian, I have difficulty verbalizing and discussing racial inequities and discrimination. It isn't that I think things are right or fair or equal between the races - just the opposite, but I don't know how to talk about it without causing offense or being antagonistic. The desire to be politically correct is almost ingrained, at this point, and I'm terrified of being perceived as offensive when I'm trying to be anything but. So, you know, I'm not in the habit of really talking about race - or any potentially inflammatory subject like religion or politics - because I'd rather polite than start a fight. Forty Acres forces the issue, making readers address issues like slavery and reparation head on.
Martin Grey is an African American attorney on the very brink of fame and fortune. Coming off a high-profile win, Grey is invited to join an exclusive group of similarly minded successful black men. He is taken to Forty Acres after agreeing to partake in a type of team-building whitewater rafting expedition. Upon arriving, there are no raging waters to be found; but there is danger beyond anything that Martin Grey could imagine. Unknowingly, Grey has been invited to join a members-only club where the members are exclusively African American and the wait-staff is exclusively Caucasian. The grounds of Forty Acres are strikingly similar to the Southern plantations of long ago, and the traditions they keep there, with the oversight of Dr. Kasim and his staff, are just as antiquated. Slavery has been resurrected in an attempt to empower these black men, and the slaves have been, um, recruited (see also: kidnapped) according to their ancestry, In fact, all the slaves laboring on Forty Acres have been chosen because of their relation to those persons who profited most directly from slavery. Which, then, begs the question: should those who have profited from slavery be compelled to provide reparation decades after the initial offense? Martin Grey isn't sure, but he knows that if reparation are due, the debt should not be paid in blood.
This book wasn't quite my cup of tea. It was a luke-warm, weak, sugary-sweet concoction that could maybe pass as tea - just not tea that I would want to drink again. It could be choked down with a little bit of effort, but it isn't something that I would order again, I may recommend this one to fans of legal thrillers like those of John Grisham or to fans of mystery/suspense books with strong, morally-minded African American protagonists like James Patterson's Alex Cross. The twist ending was a pleasant surprise. Let's just hope that it isn't another lead in to a sequel - because I've had my fill, ummkay?
This review is based on an e-galley provided by the super nice people at Atria Books and NetGalley....more
This book has everything that my deep, dark, trashy reality-TV-loving inner self doesn't want to publicly admit to loving: liars, cheats, and sociopatThis book has everything that my deep, dark, trashy reality-TV-loving inner self doesn't want to publicly admit to loving: liars, cheats, and sociopathic con-men. (While I wouldn't casually announce it at dinner parties, I consider myself a chronic closet talk show/ reality TV show fan. Dr. Phil? Love it. Dance Moms? I DVR it. World's Dumbest Criminals and Cops? My favorite shows to watch while nursing a particularly intense hang over. And I won't even talk about the time my husband took me to the Jerry Springer show. As a audience member, mind you, not a guest;) I know. This stuff is mind-rot, drivel, the down of America. Whatever. I agree, but it is mindless entertainment that I can turn to when I need a break). This book is about the quest for reality-show fame - for any sort of fame, really, and the lengths that some people will go to claim their 15 minutes of glory or infamy.
In 2010, Chris Butler made a splash when he appeared on multiple media venues (Dr. Phil, The Today Show, featured in People magazine) promoting his P.I. Moms. This is the story of how local San Fransiscan journalist/editor, Pete Crooks, got entwined in a unbelievable story of hidden debauchery, illegal drug trafficking and dirty cops when covering the seemingly innocent fluff story of a proposed Lifetime reality show centered around Butler and his P.I. Moms. (This reality show never aired due to the malicious internal sabotage from one of Butler's employees, the douchiest villain to grace the pages of true crime since Scott Peterson, male actor/model/part-time P.I and full-time liar, Carl Marino.) It is a wild ride down the rabbit hole that unearths unsettling setups and betrayal in the San Francisco Bay Area.
What made this a great read (apart from the reality TV raunch that I so love) is the quirky voice of Pete Crooks. In terms over covering the larger-than-life personalities of this case, the author is both witty and cutting, but also, in turns, empathetic and fair-minded. (Side note: the author could also be rather self-congratulatory and over indulgent in repeatedly reminding the author that he was the journalist who cracked this whole case open. I've noticed this with journalists who write full-length features - the pluming of their literary accomplishments and the puffing repetition of the reminders of their hard work. You could call it a pet-peeve). Overall, it was a fast, fun read that had incredibly memorable characters. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to fans of celebrity gossip, "reality" TV and the lighter side of investigative reporting.
Carnival Side-Show Performers and Librarians... Does it get much better than this?!
Carnies and book-jockies are two of my faCOMING SOON: June 23, 2015
Carnival Side-Show Performers and Librarians... Does it get much better than this?!
Carnies and book-jockies are two of my favorite subsets of the human race, and their powers combined make for one hell of a delightful book, Fortune-telling tarot readers, computer-savvy information professionals, tattooed jugglers who emit their own electrical charge, modern day mermaids - this book has it all. Mermaids?! I mean, the last time I gave a crap about mermaids was in the nineties when I was singing along with Ariel and Sebastian on VHS; but, this book made me care about mermaids (and those men doomed to love them) all over again. I love this book. A lot. And I can't wait until other readers can love it too.
The Book of Speculation isn't due to hit the shelves until June, so I don't want to ruin any of the surprises that this beautiful book has in store for the legion of readers who will, no doubt, run to discover its secrets. I'll try to gloss over the nitty-gritty details and big reveals, but this is a sprawling family history with back-story out the wazoo.
Simon is a youngish librarian living in a decrepit house teetering on the precipice of certain disaster and the raging waters of the Long Island Sound. Simon's mother drowned in those very waters when he was just a boy. She, presumably, committed suicide - because Simon's mother was able to hold her breath for upwards of ten minutes (a feat she displayed as a sideshow Carnival act). His father died of, quite literally, a broken heart shortly thereafter, leaving Simon to care for his sister, Enola. Only, now that she's grown, Enola has chosen the life of a travelling tarot card reader, leaving Simon to care for the crumbling family homestead all by himself. His solitude is interrupted with the delivery of an unexpected parcel: an ancient diary that appears to be tied to an early 19th century circus show. In reading and researching this unusual artifact, Simon begins to unknowingly uncover disturbing truths about his family history. The most frightening of these revelations is that seemingly all of the Watson-family women, the merwomen of the circus circuit, meet their death by willful drowning on the same day, July 24th. Their suicides stretch out over the years, claiming the matriarchs' lives with pin-point precision. When his sister Enola makes an unexpected trip home, mid-summer, acting strange and claiming to be troubled, Simon realizes that the past may still hold a very powerful hold on their future.
This book shifts between two stories: that of Simon and that of the lives of the people contained in the ancient book he has inherited. As Simon researches the history of the book, the reader is transported into the past, into the very pages of history, to travel alongside Amos and Evangeline, performers in Peabody's traveling circus. I was equally interested in both stories. The switch between the present and the past created tension, a delicious anticipation, that simmered throughout the entire book. When I was with Simon, I longed to be with Amos; when I was with Amos, I longed to be with Simon. I was hooked, though and through. Like I said, it doesn't get much better than circus tents, decrepit beach houses and dusty libraries. Plus, librarians (I love me some librarians). And fortune tellers. And mermaids.
The Book of Speculation is a well-balanced, finely-woven family history. I'm going to go out on a ledge here and say that this may be one of my favorite reads of 2015. But, it's only February, and time will tell. Definitely worthy of a re-read in the future. I wouldn't mind adding a physical copy of this book to my library when it comes out!...more
In light of the recent terrorist attacks on French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Sony hack that occurred over their controversial release of "The IntIn light of the recent terrorist attacks on French magazine Charlie Hebdo and the Sony hack that occurred over their controversial release of "The Interview," the humor in this satire just seems to fall flat. In fact, after a little digging around on Wikipedia, I found the incident that inspired the action of this novel: the repeated terrorist attacks against Dutch Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.
I don't know. I just didn't really get into this kind-of lighthearted romp with CIA agents and a man, a Dutch cartoonist, living under witness protection after outraging Islamic believers with a single, almost thoughtless cartoon. I guess that was my problem - the protagonist, our dumbed-down "everyman" cartoonist is genuinely doofy. In fact, everything about this book was goofy - the characters, the action, the storyline; and, it wasn't the good kind of goofy that I can get behind - Tom Robbins, for example. If I hadn't received this book through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program, I probably would have put it down after about a hundred pages. It was quirky bout ultimately not for me....more
Seeing as I just had what has to be the CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD, I had to request this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. Not that I'mSeeing as I just had what has to be the CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD, I had to request this book from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. Not that I'm looking to whore-out my owndaughter to weirdos on the internet, but I find internet baby memes and videos highly amusing. See also: the drunken baby meme and the All the Single Babies backup dancer or especially Will Ferrell's The Landlord. See? I appreciate these things. I've appreciated them dating back to B.R. (before Ruby, my own daughter), but I can admit that my fondness for baby-internetness has heightened since I've become a parent. When I get to use the internet, that is.
Anyways, knowing the greatness of what this book could be, I was a bit disappointed. I felt it really somehow missed the mark for me - having cute photos and funny writing but not really succeeding to make me LOL. The book does allude to some of our favorite internet babies (a la Charlie Bit My Finger) but it includes only orignal baby pictures - which are cute... but, let's admit it, aren't Rubycute or internet-funny. It was okay. Just okay. A short, quick fluff piece that, ultimately, wouldn't be anything that I'd recommend. ...more
Ugh. What ugly awful people - famed horror author Shirley Jackson and her professorial/critic husband Stanley Hyman. At least, that's what I took awayUgh. What ugly awful people - famed horror author Shirley Jackson and her professorial/critic husband Stanley Hyman. At least, that's what I took away from this haunting domestic drama and fictionalized recreation of their disturbing, volatile relationship. Here, Jackson appears as a vengeful, jealous wife who is embroiled in a dysfunctional relationship with her arrogant, philandering husband Hyman. The drama unfolds when the two welcome a younger couple into their home. The husband, Fred, is an up-and-coming educator at the same college as Hyman; the wife, Rose, is a nineteen year old pregnant girl who harbor strong resentments regarding her impoverished, crime-filled childhood. The two settle into the Jackson-Hyman resident, unaware of how their stay there will forever change the dynamic of their own relationship.
I had read some fairly flattering reviews of this novel, so I had decided to request it from NetGalley. Once again, NetGalley, you're the tops for allowing me the opportunity to read this galley in exchange for my humble opinion of this work. ANYWAYS, I had previously read some of Shirley Jackson's work, and I had a rather high opinion of her work. Sadly, this novel seemed to work against Jackson's legacy, painting her as a spiteful outcast with probable ties to a disappearance of a young college student. The writing, itself, was admirable, but the story seemed to be a questionable stab at the reputation of a beloved author. There was plenty of conflict and tension but not too terribly much "happens." It wasn't a strain or hassle to read, but it certainly won't be an instant recommendation - even (or perhaps especially) to fans of Shirley Jackson. ...more
Before I begin this review, I have to let out a prolonged shudder. shuuuuuddddderrr Because this is one deeply creepy, disturbing little book with anBefore I begin this review, I have to let out a prolonged shudder. shuuuuuddddderrr Because this is one deeply creepy, disturbing little book with an unforgettable (or rather, too forgettable, too seemingly normal but entirely villainous) narrator.
As a new parent who recently purchased her first house...through a real estate agent, this book gave me an anxiety-induced stomach ache. It made me seriously consider waking my my husband in the middle of the night to talk about changing our locks and installing security cameras. Because this book made me realize that you never know who might have a copy of a key to your house, and you never know who has been in your house when you weren't there. Even worse, you never know who may be hiding in your attic, listening to your everyday movements two floors down. Like I said before, shuuuuddddderr.
Mr. William Heming is an attractive, successful real estate agent who deeply cares about the community in which he does business. His vocation can be considered both "a pleasure and a calling," as the title may suggest. He contributes and cares for his community from behind the scenes; his unmemorable, average demeanor is purposely cultivated to avoid suspicion and prying eyes. His eyes are the only eyes that are allowed it pry, of course, and it is only because he is so invested in his fellow neighbors' well-being...or un-doing, depending on if you've rubbed Mr. Hemming the wrong way. This story is primarily the story of how a philandering professor rubbed Mr. Hemming the wrong way and how Mr. Hemming sought to right the perceived wrong. It is also the story of unrequited, unrealized love, the type of love that can, of course, never be requited because the imagined love is always better than the cold reality of actual relationships. It is a creepy, cold story of a boy who watches everything from the outside, occasionally inserting himself into situations, unnoticed and ignored, to disastrous consequences.
In case you haven't noticed, I'm a fan. I have a weakness for unreliable narrators; I must have a touch of the crazy in me because I really love entering a mind-space that deviates from the norm. Mr. Heming has a unique morality that governs his actions, a difference sense of right and wrong, if you will; but, I appreciate that he has a sense of morality that governs his actions, warped though that morality may be. In many ways, his younger self drew comparison to Frank from The Wasp Factory, and his older self had undertones of the rule-abiding yet manipulative Barbara Covett from What Was She Thinking? Notes on a Scandal . Mr. Heming is delightfully devious, and this book works as a study of his heinous character.
Thanks NetGalley. This book was a double edged sword. I'm thankful for the opportunity to read the galley; however, I'm a bit skeeved out by the whole thing to the nth degree. This book has succeeded in cultivating the new (slightly irrational - or is it rational?) fear of my real estate agent living in my attic, coming into my home and touching our things, eating our food, wearing our clothes when we leave the house. Thanks for that, too. ...more
I'm having a hard time putting my thoughts together about this one. My heart and head say two different things - meaning that I both kinda-liked and sI'm having a hard time putting my thoughts together about this one. My heart and head say two different things - meaning that I both kinda-liked and simultaneously hated aspects of this read.
In just a second, I'll get into just whhhhhhyyy I felt that way BUT it needs to be said upfront that this is a story worthy of attention.It (repetitively) exposes the complex truth of the motivations and events that led to the death of Matthew Shepard, a young, gay man whose brutal death launched a nationwide campaign that led to the passing of hate crime legislation. His 1998 death triggered an uprising that was likened to the upheaval surrounding Civil Rights in the 1960s.
Me? I was 14 at the time. I think I remember watching something on MTV about him - a documentary, maybe the Laramie Project. Then, in college, as a theater-geek, I became acquainted to the play of the same name. Anyways, I don't remember much; it hadn't really penetrated through my junior high haze of self-scrutiny and introspection. What I do remember, pretty clearly, though, is that this murder was driven by Homophobia-with-a-capital-H. These good-ole country boy-strangers beat up and tortured a young, gay man because he may have come-on to them at a bar. Left him tied to a fence in the cold, spread out, bleeding, to suffer and die - he was literally crucified for being gay. Right?
WRONG. Well, kinda-wrong. See? The killers (well, the book makes a convincing case for me to say killer) knew Matt Shepard. They partied with him, traded drugs with him - and, on occasion, traded bodily fluids. Clean, Christ-like, college martyr Matthew had a problem with meth. Author Stephen Jimenez goes so far as to suggest that Matt, himself, was a drug runner/dealer who carried the meth across state lines. The kid behind the brunt of the assault against Matthew had a new baby, a girlfriend, and a raging meth addiction that may have caused him to result to "straight"-trade for his fix. In that sense, the crime is still related to homophobia - as the story that the killers later told (and the story that the media sold) was to cover up his own shameful actions/feelings about being "gay-for-pay." More than anything, though, the story is about the ways that loads of meth and just a hint of small-town corruption can ravage a community.
I liked the book for the ugly truth that it exposed, for encouraging a realistic portrait of an individual - something more than an average sinner but less a saint. I disliked a lot of different things. It was too long, too repetitive, too murky (many sources - and accused conspirators - were alluded to in anonymous terms). The author defended himself - and his motivations in writing the expose - far too much, coming across as both apologetic and self-congratulatory in turns. It was journalistic in the sense that "In Cold Blood" is journalistic; it was prejudicial and tainted with the author's own experience. In many ways, Jimenez became unable to separate his own subjective experience from that of the objective true crime tale.
Overall, the message this book imparts is important...BUT a magazine feature or series may have been more appropriate in terms of the length to subject matter ratio. ...more
This book was totally engrossing (special emphasis on the GROSS). If I could write a tagline to this book, it would be: Gross people doing gross thingThis book was totally engrossing (special emphasis on the GROSS). If I could write a tagline to this book, it would be: Gross people doing gross things. Which is, I've kind of come realize, one of Herman Koch's specialties. Of course, I'm joining the party just a bit late; everybody and their brother has read his provocative smash success, The Dinner. Upon reading this novel (whioh I was kindly given by LibraryThing's Early Reviewers - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU), I grabbed up a copy of his earlier novel. I finished it today. It was (surprise, surprise) more gross upper-middle class people doing more gross, morally reprehensible things. But, hey, Koch knows how to stir the pot, right? (By the way, I found The Dinner to be just a bit tighter, crisper, skillful than this follow up. At almost 400 pages, this book seemed to be product of a looser editorial hand - and it suffered because of it - but not enough for me to dismiss Summer House with Swimming Pool as a worthwhile read). It is American Psycho meets Lolita meets The Vacationers.
Marc, our detestable, unreliable narrator, is filled with a long-simmering hatred for the human race. In particular, he has a special contempt for what he would surely refer to as the "weaker" sex. He is a a physician to the stars, husband and father; he is also one of the biggest assholes you'll ever met. Double standards are this man's bread and butter. He resents others for objectifying and victimizing his daughters and wife, yet he is a adulterer who nurtures violent fantasies about all those he meets. He simultaneously hates the wealthy clients who frequent his practice while longing to have access to the privileges their fame affords. Marc despises Ralph, a handsomely aging actor/buffoon, yet Marc wants to be around Ralph - Marc wants to be Ralph. But, when a summer vacation turns sour, Marc really just wants to kill Ralph. And, as his personal physician, Marc eventually gets the chance. This is the story of how things went terribly wrong between the two men - and how both of their families were made to suffer.
A bit long-winded but a much-recommended read....more
Just in time for the scariest of all months, a quick-and-easy Gothic YA novel that provides an inventive back story to Edgar Allen Poe's "Annabel Lee.Just in time for the scariest of all months, a quick-and-easy Gothic YA novel that provides an inventive back story to Edgar Allen Poe's "Annabel Lee." I'll preface my review with the disclaimer that I received this galley for review from one of my favorite websites, NetGalley. (Psst... NetGalley -thanks for all the exciting new reads lately. You sure know how to keep a bookseller/avid reader flush with plenty of possibilities for my next read. If only I could review as fast as I read, we'd be in good standing. But alas, I need to read LESS and review MORE. I'm working on it. Chipping away at the reviews sitting in my notebook, just ready to be hashed out on the computer screen. ANYWAYS, I digress).
If you've read some of the reviews this book has recently garnered from fellow GoodReaders, you'll find that not everyone has the pleasure of enjoying this work BUTi I didn't take objection to it. I thought it was a fairly suspenseful, quasi-frightening read that would appeal to the young audience for which it is intended. Despite some of its potential downfalls, this book could serve as a fabulous introduction to those young readers not familiar with the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. Granted, the author certainly took liberties with poor Mr. Poe's life, but I don't hold that against her because its all in the name of good fun...and reading!Like I said, if one teen/pre-teen picks up "The Tell-Tale Heart" or "The Cask of Amontillado," then this book has served a mighty purpose indeed.
At the heart of it, there's recently orphaned Annabel Lee, who has been sent to live with her estranged (and downright strange father in Philadelphia. Annabel comes from a simpler life in Siam, a life where she hasn't been privileged with wealth or a lady's manners. She has a difficult time settling into her new home where her solemn and difficult father spends most of his time in his basement laboratory. To pass the unpleasant time she is having, Annabel makes the acquaintance of his two assistants, Edgar and Allen, and befriends the housemaid, Molly. But strange visitors lurk outside her window and there is a murderer on the loose, terrorizing Philadelphia. Will Annabel survive her new surroundings?
I enjoyed the book, for the most part, until the cliffhanger ending - seemingly a popular trend in today's YA. Of course there will be a sequel (and most likely, it will be stretched into a trilogy). Its not that I'm not going to read it...its just that I'm tired of adding new series to my reading list - especially when I have to wait for the subsequent books to be written and published! #readerproblems...more
All the stars, I say. THIS BOOK deserves ALL THE STARS. Maddening, mind-blowing, next-level kind of stuff. I couldn't even review it if I tried. A fulAll the stars, I say. THIS BOOK deserves ALL THE STARS. Maddening, mind-blowing, next-level kind of stuff. I couldn't even review it if I tried. A full-blown experience steeped in romance, political intrigue, and the mystery of art and authorship. I don't want to re-read this book. I never want to NOT be reading this book....more