I was going to be real funny and say something along the lines of “why didn’t anyone ever tell me I should read this book,” but then I remembered the last time I did that about a book Shelby had told me about ages before I ever got around to reading it . . . .
You know the old saying: “Shoe me once, shame on you. Shoe me twice, I got your shoes.”
I’m pretty sure I got the ARC of this book 3 ½ years ago. Now if that doesn’t show a commitment to the procrastinator lifestyle, I don’t know what does. I also don’t know why I put it off. I think I thought it was going to be very child abusey or something (‘cause once again, homegirl don’t read blurbs) and disturbing (not like that usually stops me, but somehow in my brain this was going to go all after school special and I was going to hate it). Per usual, my brain was a liar because I never should have avoided this. Set in 1970s Alaska (can I just take a minute to say 2019 is obviously the year of Alaska for Kelly and Mitchell as this is our THIRD book set there), The Smell of Other People’s Houses tells the interconnected stories of three young women – Ruth, Dora and Alyce – as well as one young man. This is the type of book John Green only wishes he could write (and I’m saying that as kind of a Green fangirl). It’s like Green had a baby with The Secret Life of Bees and it is wonderful. Truly YA that grown-ups can appreciate – complete with all the feels. 5 Stars.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley! ...more
I didn’t officially make a resolution or anything, but I have been trying to make a concerted effort to tackle some of the ollllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllld reader copies that reside on the ol’ Kindle because (at the moment) I am doing a better job of requesting things far in advance of their release and not getting 27 library books at one time. I’ve also been tearing through like one book per day the past week or so (or in the case of this one TWO books in one day – that’s just pathetic) and need to blow the dust off as many of these as I can while I’m still in beast mode when it comes to book reading. So there’s the unnecessary info dump behind me finally diving into Smothered. Unfortunately, it missed the mark for me.
The story here is of Eloise Hansen. Recent Columbia University summa cum laude graduate (with a pretty worthless degree), Lou has to bite the bullet and move back in to her childhood home. That’s okay, though, because she has a firm 9-month plan on how she is going to get a job, get on her own two feet, and get out in the world.
I appreciate what this book was trying to do. Kind of a revamped . . . . .
For the post-college sect. It’s not terribly written, uses “mixed media” of texts/e-mails/internet/etc. that I enjoy, and is over-the-top-silly (on purpose). The problem I had???? The characters . . . . .
First of all, we’re dealing with some real first-world ancillary people here with an “Instagram celebrity” younger sister and a vapid mother who is able to charge tens of thousands of dollars monthly and never really have it catch up to her. But the real problem is Lou. Now I know I’m old and cranky, but I 100% sympathize with youngsters today trying to make it upon graduating. The job market is hard and the housing market is nearly impossible. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t afford to buy my house today – and that sumbitch is pretty much a fucking dump. However, I do not want my reading experience to make me feel even more curmudgeonly than I do on the regular and this one had me seriously channeling my inner John Witherspoon . . . . .
I mean maybe don’t major in Philosophy if you’re planning on immediately being able to obtain a paycheck upon receiving your degree, but at minimum be prepared to apply for jobs! - ANY jobs. Retail, coffee shop, ANYTHING. JFC, who does this girl think she is – Cousin Eddie?
The only likeable character in the whole mix was the boyfriend, but even he was a knock-off of the chef character in The Devil Wears Prada - gratuitous Adrian Grenier .gif coming right up . . . .
And also he should have dumped Lou’s ass for being ashamed to introduce him to her parents.
This one is getting shelved under . . . .
Because it made me feel like a geezer, but I’m not certain it won’t be a big hit for those of you who are (sadly) decades younger than me.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!...more
Since my daily commute is so short and I only listen to audio books in the car Monday-Friday, I’m always struggling to find a selection that works for me. When I saw my friend Matthew’s review of We the Animals, I thought it might be a good fit. I also thought it was a young adult book for some reason, but soon realized . . . . .
While the characters in this story are children, the content most definitely is not and focuses on growing up in a poor, mixed-race, abusive family in Brooklyn. Confession: I still thought it was a YA story until the parents had sex in front of their children, at which point . . . .
And logged onto Goodreads to confirm that this was not a children’s book.
This was a mixed bag for me. I enjoyed the vignette style of storytelling that presented snapshots of time rather than a flowing story – more so probably due to this being such a short book. I appreciate storytellers who don’t pull punches and are as brutal as necessary for the subject matter that they are presenting. But I don’t like writing that doesn’t feel effortless and Justin Torres most certainly was trying VERY HARD here. Almost like it was the last requirement before receiving his Masters in Fine Arts. The timeline also was hard to wrap my brain around. The reader is informed at the beginning that the children are “stair steps” of a sort with the youngest (our narrator) being around 7. By the end of the book (and the couple of big “shock and awe” entries which focus on a completely different subject matter than the first 80-90% of the book), I thought that same child might be around 16. There aren’t really any “in between” sort of selections to indicate age progression – you just make the hop. That was jarring enough, but it would make the older brothers of adult age and yet they are still present in the family home. I didn’t buy that one bit and it made other moments jump back to the forefront of my mind that had rang out as inauthentic as well.
In the end, this falls under . . . . .
And receives a satisfactory 3 Star rating. ...more
Who the hell knows? Crazy Pete is the happiest married person I know.
Well, Matilda’s no ordinary goose.
To anyone who ever thought Grit Lit was a man’s game, Kristin Hannah has this to say to you . . . .
Well, at least for the first 70 plus percent of this. Then things did get a little . . . .
But even effin’ David Joy went a little cluk cluk at the end of The Line That Held Us so y’all can just suck a bag if it’s not okay here.
As for me? This is another book/author I have actively avoided for eternity for fear I’d be relegated to the shame corner for wrongreading. After finishing The Great Alone I have this to say to Kristin Hannah . . . .
I’m not sure I’d feel the same about alllllll of her novels, but boy howdy was this a winner.
Now for what it’s about (Dear Professional Blurbist – you are tldr). All you need to know here is this is the story of a family (mom, dad, daughter) who inherit an Alaskan homestead in the 1970s and impulsively relocate. No money, no job prospects, little food, insufficient supplies – oh, and daddy is a former 'Nam POW with PTSD that tends to get worse when it’s cold and dark. What could possibly go wrong?
Leni’s story spans from 1974 to 2009 and is un-put-downable. I could have easily stayed up and read this in one sitting last night. It definitely doesn’t hurt that my neck of the woods is currently a winter wonderland where it’s dark right about the time dinner is finished and the fact that my backyard is a forest. The elements of nature seemed natural and were never over-the-top simply for dramatic purposes. And who needs outside elements when the scariest predator of all is right under your roof? Finally, allow me to introduce you to who is sure to be my favorite female character of 2019 . . . .
Large Marge, you is the bees knees.
I went into this year’s library challenge feeling kind of “meh” about the chosen theme. Now I need to remember where I put my knife and fork in order to make eating all this crow go a little easier. I don’t know that I would have ever made this quest to Alaska if not for this push and now that I’ve done it I can’t imagine not having this experience. Thank you, pornbrary, for having (nearly) all the books, making me take risks and rewarding me so handsomely each year . . . .
I can’t believe I’m the first of my Goodreads friends to have read this. It seems like it was everywhere for a minute. And honestly? As soon as I saw the words . . . .
I was in. What can I say? I’m a cheap sell and my husband won’t wait for me when it comes to Netflix so there’s no chance I can keep up with Narcos to get my Pablo Escobar fix.
Now that I’m finished????
It wasn’t at all what I was expecting since I didn’t read the (way too long) blurb, but it was still pretty amazing. Briefly put, this is the story of Chula and Petrona who are growing up in Colombia during the ‘90s. Chula is a seven-year old who has been born into a life of privilege, living behind the safety of gates thanks to her father’s earnings in the oil industry. Petrona is a young teenager from the slums who has been hired by Chula’s family as a maid. Behind everything in the background is the cat-and-mouse game which is finding Pablo Escobar.
You may find your reading experience to be similar to that of a memoir, and you wouldn’t be wrong since this is fiction inspired by the author’s own upbringing. The story here focuses mainly on Chula, her life and her observations of what is going on around her with entries provided by Petrona about her life away from the estate (Petrona’s story probably would have earned 72 Stars and had me hospitalized from fangirling myself to death). While the writing and language aren’t that of a child, Chula’s view of the world and its goings on most definitely has a childlike naiveté.
I would not hesitate to recommend it to someone who is looking for a different sort of coming-of-age story set in a time and place unfamiliar to many of us that focuses on the where just as much as it does on the what and why and how. ...more
FantasticLand is getting every Star and I ain’t even sorry.
Like the blurb says, this story is a modern-day . . . .
Ha! I keed. It truly is Lord of the Flies meets [insert battle to the death book/film of your choosing here]. More specifically it is about . . . .
What happened in FantasticLand during the thirty-five days dubbed “The Battle of the Tribes.”
Here’s the deal: In the Fall of 2017 Hurricane Sadie was being tracked off the coast of Florida. It was anticipated she would be a wreaker of havoc, but no one ever anticipated her effects would be felt so far inland and just how powerful she would become. Basically, the only thing that could have been worse is . . . .
While the National Guard, local authorities and all humanitarian efforts were focused on the coastal regions, 326 employees of FantasticLand were left to their own devices. Weeks later, 207 were evacuated. This is the story of what happened, told in interview format by the survivors. It was oh so very . . . .
(If you haven’t seen that movie, you really need to rectify it immediately or there’s a possibility I will defriend you. j/k. *cough* maybe *cough*)
This was everything it should have been. Gory, nauseating, action-packed and a story that didn't miss a beat from the first page to the last. I luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuurved it....more
The Chalk Man was kind of a mixed bag amongst my friends. The dissenters in the ranks all seem to have the same complaint – Uncle Stevie wrote it better. I say to them, this is nothing like his stuff, I mean his are set in Northeastern America and this is very much . . . .
See? Not alike at all.
Okay, just kidding. I kinda get where the nonbelievers are coming from since Eddie Munster, Fat Gav, Metal Mickey, Hoppo and Nicky could easily be compared to . . . .
And the premise of the waywayback timeline centers around . . . .
But for me that was where the similarities ended. C.J. Tudor definitely has a voice of her own and expresses it oh-so-well in this debut novel. There’s nothing quite like a mystery that I don’t have solved within the first 15-20% to make me a believer as well. And the wibbly wobbly timeline? Handled with ease. This is a toss up if it will or won’t work for you. I loved the nostalgia, I didn’t mind the homage to The Master – mainly because it didn’t strike me as a poor imitation – and I loved that I didn’t really have to loooooooove any of the characters to still be interested in their story. It didn’t pull punches with the gore either (headless corpse say whaaaaaaa?) and was paced perfectly at a succinct less-than-300-pages length. All this equals a Kelly and Mitchell approved reading experience!
It took me four months and being approved for Tudor’s next book to serve as motivation to finally puke out this review. Thank you for the ARC, NetGalley, and I am obviously the reason I can’t have nice things . . . .
You All Grow Up And Leave Me popped up on the library’s Recommended To You feature due to me reading I’ll Be Gone In The Dark – a book I didn’t much care for at all, if the truth be told . . . .
Save your breath. I get it. I read it wrong and McNamara was not only a genius, but also this close to DNA swabbing the perp herself and solving the whole shebang. Whatever. I didn’t like it. I still downloaded this book, however, because . . . .
The funny thing is, I disliked I’ll Be Gone In the Dark due to it being so indulgent and lacking in content with regard to the subject matter it claimed to be tackling. This one is nothing but indulgent and no real “crime” actually took place . . . .
I know. Same here. Yeah, the intended victim (and her mother) were able to fight the attacker off and then he killed himself. Sorry, spoiler alert. Point being, if you are looking for a true crime story look elsewhere. If you are a firm believer that . . . .
I wanted The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls for the title alone and was beyond shocked when I received an advanced copy back in October . . . . which I then promptly made sure to not read due to the blurbage that stated it was for fans of An American Marriage. Uhhhhhhhhhhh. With the release date quickly approaching I figured it was time to put on my big girl panties and let the chips fall where they may.
I opted to bite the bullet when I got home from work last Thursday (a night that I usually have alone, but thanks to endless ice/rain/sleet/hail/thundersnow (yes, that’s a thing) I had the family with me). Luckily a snow day for Friday had already been called and the hubs had a very important Iowa Hawkeye basketball game to watch so it was pretty much like no one was there anyway. It was a good thing too because I read this book cover-to-cover in the course of that evening – becoming so wrapped up in the lives of the Butler family that I totally ignored my own.
The story here begins with Althea and her husband Proctor being sentenced to the federal penitentiary for food stamp and charity fraud. What unfolds is the history of three sisters and a brother who grew up in a family who firmly believe in the principal . . . .
“The past is the past.”
The reader discovers the Butlers are a group who should have had someone willing to have a moment like this with their daddy . . . .
Or another sibling . . . .
Or even their spouse or momma . . . .
But much like The Color Purple this is a book with the lesson that . . . .
I will admit that there were some things I wanted to know moremoremoremoremore about – specifically Althea and Proctor's crimes. However, I fully understand that since those two characters were incarcerated it would have been more than a little far-fetched for them to share any additional details that had not been provided/alluded to. (Inquiring minds still want to know/are disappointed they don't, though.) But really, at the end of the day? Family drama is my siren song - 4 Stars.
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review....more
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I don’t know why I can’t be like normal people.”
Back in the times of B.C. (that’s “before children” for all of you not familiar) on the occasional Saturday I would venture out to a little place . . . . .
Where super artsy fartsy films (generally with subtitles) were shown. Sticky floors, stale popcorn, crackling/backfeed-filled speakers, grainy film quality and movies no one else had ever heard which resulted in about five people max in the seats. My idea of paradise. Normal People is the literary equivalent of the type of film that would be shown there. Not big budget, no bells and whistles, no all-star cast and certainly no butterflies and rainbows. Shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Normal People is a different sort of romance as you follow Connell and Marianne and their ever-morphing relationship from childhood through adulthood. Simply put . . . . .
And the tale is a bit of a chicken and egg regarding whether they were always that way or became more so as their dysfunctional relationship evolved.
Don’t let the “deeply political” or “will make you cry” taglines scare you off - this book is phenomenal. Many thankings to my buddy Sam (and more importantly his 5 Star “oh-my-lort-that’s-like-seeing-a-unicorn-in-real-life rating) for helping propel this to the top of Mount TBR. ...more
I’m not one who generally gets real worked up when I hear of a celebrity’s death, but last week when Neil Simon passed away I have to admit I got more than a bit nostalgic. So I did what I do best – went to my best friend the library to see if they had any of Simon’s plays for me to listen to on my drive to and from work. Sadly they only had the one, but hey beggars can’t be choosers, right?
Good news is, while Lost in Yonkers wasn’t what I originally went looking for, it totally did the trick and reminded me of how when I was a kid I was pretty sure I had missed my calling and was really meant to be a born a Jewish boy in post-Depression New York City. There were a whole string of Neil Simon plays/movie adaptations that confirmed my belief, including this one as well as . . . .
and . . . .
However, what I originally sought out wasn’t one of these boyhood comedies, but rather Simon’s less-discussed side – romance. Particularly . . . . .
Though I would have happily settled for . . . .
If you haven’t had the pleasure, I highly recommend checking one out. He gives Nora Ephron a run for her money ; )
The only reason I read this is because Alexandra Fuller provided the cover blurb for Where the Crawdads Sing . . . .
I’m not even sorry either because I probably would never have heard of this memoir otherwise.
Alexandra Fuller’s family arrived in Rhodesia via way of Darby, England in 1966 when she was only a toddler. This is the story of her childhood as a farming family in what originally was a country ran by whites under British rule through the revolution where Rhodesia became Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe’s control. It is a tale of strength in both body and spirit about a family constantly fighting the odds, yet somehow never quite giving up. With moments of extreme sadness that are counterbalanced by a delightful sense of humor . . . .
“Can I help you?” We can’t trust anyone anymore. Not even white men. It is only then we see that both men are armed with thick shiny black Bibles. Mum shuffles her gun behind her back. “Oh shit, Jesus creepers.” Bible outstretched, hand extended. He introduces himself and his partner: “And we’re here to tell you about the Lord.” He’s American. I start to giggle. Mum sighs. “Well, come in for a cup of tea, anyway,” she says.
Christina Lauren are a writing duo that I just can’t seem to stay away from – and that’s coming from a person who 1 Starred the first selection of theirs I read that I later discovered was yet ANOTHERTwilight fan fic . . . .
So why do I keep coming back for more? Well, the first time it was because I didn’t have any recollection of my bad experience. But now? Mainly it’s because I want to see what they come up with next. The last thing I read by them featured a “married to a stranger in order to obtain a Greencard” trope which pretty much had me looking like . . . .
This time around things were a little angstier and a LOT more . . . .
In the best way possible in a story about second chance love . . . .
“I loved you.” I nod quickly at this bombshell interruption, looking for the rescue of our waitress bringing food. But she isn’t there. “You loved me, too, you know,” he says quietly. “It was everything.”
I will say that I get a little terrified of writers who start churning out new stuff at a frantic pace like these two seem to be doing. That being said, I’m beyond thrilled that I scored an advanced copy of their latest and plan to get to it real soon . . . .
There are no bells and whistles for this one. Some books don’t need them. Darius the Great Is Not Okay is the story of a young boy who takes a trip to Iran with his family when they discover his grandfather is terminally ill. It’s about finding a place in the world when you feel like you’re nothing but a social outcast. More importantly, it’s about clinical depression. And it is DONE. SO. WELL. You can tell the author struggles/has struggled personally. Someone who has not dealt with the lying liar who lies which is depression might find Darius to be a bit of a pill – overly sensitive and quick to take offense – the kind of boy certain members of society would refer to as a “Snowflake.” I’ll admit there were moments when, despite my best efforts, even I felt that way too and in my head I was screaming “PLEASE JUST TALK!!!” or “THEY DIDN’T MEAN TO HURT YOUR FEELINGS.” But . . . . .
Sometimes making it impossible to break out of the spiral.
My only “complaint” with this story was that Darius was presented as an older teen, complete with job, but he read more like a middle-grader. That’s the age group I’d recommend this book to. My other “complaint” (for lack of a better word) has to do with the shelving of this book as “LGBT.” I’m assuming it stems from the following:
“Did you ever think that you wouldn’t get picked on so much if you weren’t so …”
“So what, Dad?” But he didn’t answer. What could he possibly say.
If readers want to fill in that blank with “gay” it’s certainly their priority, but it could easily be filled in with “nerdy” or “mopey” or “awkward” or “unsocial” or on and on and on. I read plenty of coming of age/first love/what-have-you stories – this wasn’t one....more
Allow me to apologize in advance for beginning this review with a spoiler, but I think you need to know this is the story of a girl who commits suicide. If that’s a dealbreaker for you, stay far far away because it even made an old grizzly bear like me almost have a feeling.
You should also know that if you’re not a fan of this guy . . . .
Again you should stay far far away because Michael Belanger definitely channels his inner John Green here. On the other hand, if you are sad that Green doesn’t crank out a book a week, this most likely will be a suitable doppelgänger until his next release.
I’m going to let Ray tell you the rest . . . .
“I don’t have cancer and both of my parents are still alive. I just thought I’d get that out of the way so you’re not disappointed. While we’re at it, I might as well tell you that I’m not a vampire, I don’t have magical powers, and the closest I’ve ever come to fighting a war against an evil dystopian government was in a video game. The truth is, I’m writing this mostly to help me understand everything that happened over the past year between my (ex) girlfriend Jane and me.”
Thus begins the history of Ray and a new girl we will know only as Jane Doe who moved to town . . . .
“Maybe she just likes us,” I said. “Be serious, Ray.”
Much like in An Abundance of Katherines, this one featured a best friend I would like to adopt as my own child. Sidenote: And really, what kid WOULDN’T want me to be his mama????
The story is told in a very 500 Days of Summer Format . . . . .
And by the end it has done everything possible to rip your heart out. For like the 47th time this year, this is a book that has me questioning why it has so few ratings and reviews – I mean that dang cover alone should garner a second looksee! I loved it and I think many YA readers would love it too....more
“I wadn’t aware that words could hold so much. I didn’t know a sentence could be so full.”
I cannot imagine a book that will end up beating Where the Crawdads Sing for my best read of 2018. Truly, this was a case where the entire thing was practically perfect in every way for me (the only minor quibble I had was with the snippets of poetry, but that’s because I hate poetry). Due to the fact that I am so absolutely strung out and hungover from this book, I’m going to do words even less well than I usually do.
The story here starts in 1969 with a dead body – and then it immediately timehops back to 1952. It’s there you meet Kya on the day her mother has decided to up and leave the family and the marsh behind. Kya’s siblings follow their mother’s footsteps in short order – as does her father eventually. It’s then that Kya becomes known as “the Marsh Girl” and the reader works their way back to finding out what exactly happened to that dead fella.
This was a true genre bender that had something for nearly everyone – coming of age, family strife, first love, first loss, and dare I forget – a potential murder. It was a modern day To Kill A Mockingbird and I feel so honored to have been approved for an advanced copy.
If you’re looking for an epic tale that spans over five decades, look no further than . . . .
“Way out yonder, where the crawdads sing.”
All the Stars there are to Star.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest (*cough blubbering cough*) review. Thank you, NetGalley!...more
“It was a summer I’d never, ever forget. It was the summer everything began. It was the summer I turned pretty. Because for the first time, I felt it. Pretty, I mean. Every summer up to this one, I believed it’d be different. Life would be different. And that summer, it finally was.”
Obviously I was not the target demographic for this story, but lemme tell you, it doesn’t even matter. I was all like . . . . .
And totally channeled my inner teenie bopper.
I actually ended up downloading The Summer I Turned Pretty after deciding I needed to read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before when I discovered it was a Netflix movie. (Of course because it is now a Netflix movie I’m like 17th on the wait list for it.) I read this back-up plan straight through and thought it was a quality summer-fluff type of read. While I am most definitely not a fan of book series that continue on (and on) and prefer my “series” to be so in name only while following new characters, that’s really my only gripe. I highly doubt there’s enough content/plot to continue this book for two more books, but luckily my inability to DNF does not mean I feel compelled to read this through to completion. If you are a fan of YA who wants to read about summer lovin’ and don’t mind a super cliffy ending, this might be the perfect selection for a day when . . . .
(Except that might have to be a cold ROOT beer if you’re actually the age group this book was written for. #momsays) ...more
“What follows is an account, as I choose to remember it, of my twelfth year on this planet – the summer of the Saturday Night Ghost Club.”
When I received this from my Book Fairy, it was like . . . .
A new selection from an author who has never failed me? What could possibly go wrong? Well, allow me to take you on a journey that will hopefully eventually get to the point . . . but since it’s me maybe it won’t.
Many years ago I came across a free book written by someone I had never heard of and I thought it was the bees knees. A few months later I read . . . well pretty much the same book, but a more well known version written by a more famous author. I overlooked it because hey, we all gotta start somewhere, right? Then it happened again . . . . and again. Yes, the writing was good, but the concepts/storylines/characters took “inspired by” to a level I wasn’t comfortable with so I washed my hands of that person.
So what does that have to do with Craig Davidson? He’s too gooooooooooooooooooood to have to resort to riffing on others’ old work. Dude is so good he writes under THREE names (that I’m aware of – hell he could write under a dozen more for all I know). His stuff is the original, envelope pushing type of book other people borrow from in order to attempt to write their own, less than, pieces. And the Saturday Night Ghost Club? It’s basically this kid . . .
(That part gets a pass because pretty much every coming of age story about a male human child could be this kid.)
Telling this guy’s story . . . .
Remember him? Uncle Red? Even my friend Trudi (who loved this book and who called dibs ages ago on being the Annie Wilkes to Cutter/Davidson/Lestewka) said the same thing in her review.
There just wasn’t much to this story – either in substance or page count. The characters felt hollow and future Jake’s profession made it glaringly obvious what Uncle C’s problem was/what everything was leading up to – not to mention I cared absolutely ZERO PERCENT about the inserts regarding his patients and their brain issues. Oh, and the “big reveal????”
While some things were awesomely reminiscent of true urban legends spread throughout my youth – like KFC having to drop the term “chicken” due to creating some sort of mutant that was pretty much only breasts and legs . . . .
Other things that I would usually dismiss ended up really getting under my skin – like a teenage girl in the 1980s taking medicine for depression/bi-polar disorder (her diagnosis is not disclosed). Sorry, in the ‘80s puberty would have been blamed for this child’s mood swings.
So there it is. Sucks that I suck, but I do and so does this rating : ( ...more
It’s been a minute since I've done this, but Gale Massey’s debut novel gets all the Starzzzzzzzzzz.
The Girl From Blind River is the story of Jamie – a girl whose mother went to prison when she was just 10 years old, leaving her and her 9 year old brother Toby to be raised by their uncle Loyal. Now a young adult and out of high school, Jamie dreams of running away and hitting the pro circuit . . . .
All she needs is to cash in on her latest online winnings. When there’s a glitch in the system, Jamie “borrows” a bit of cash from Uncle Loyal and ends up owing him big time. And ol’ Loyal isn’t one to NOT cash in on favors owed to him – especially when it has to do with something as big as what he has to get rid of . . . . .
I knew as soon as I saw my friend Melki’s review that there was a very solid chance this would be a winner for me. When I scored a copy I about wet myself. I can’t believe this is a debut novel and I have absolutely nothing to nitpick. The Girl From Blind River had everything I love: trailer parks, poor folk, murder, cover-ups, family drama, and on and on and on. It was just the gritty type of story I was looking for. You know, something that makes me say . . . .
ARC provided by Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review....more
“This isn’t a ghost story,” I told him. “It’s a love story with a ghost in it.”
Robyn Schneider, what the hell are you trying to do to me?????
Wait, what? What is it? I’m simply feeling happy? Whew! What a relief. I thought I was a goner for sure with my mouth doing this weird turny-uppy thing.
This is my third Robyn Schneider book and all three have been 4 Star winners. This chick knows how to YA romance me fo sho. Each of her books has an underlying theme of finding your tribe (and your first love) while navigating the waters of high school, but they each do it with a little twist. This time around????
More specifically, Rose sees her brother Logan. Rose has always blamed herself for Logan’s untimely passing from anaphylactic shock. She has distanced herself from all of her former friends and any activities that would keep her away from her house in order to spend time with Logan whenever he appears and wants to binge some Netflix re-runs. But when an old neighbor moves back to town, Rose discovers that there might be more to life than she’s been allowing herself to experience. Can there be a balance between her living and dead worlds????
So this story may seem a little bit familiar to some of you . . . . .
But guess what????
Robyn Schneider makes me feel like a kid again. And that’s a good thing....more
“There’s need,” she said. “God knows there’s need.” Her voice was awesome, biblical. “God knows.”
Bastard Out of Carolina had been on my TBR for an age due its prevalence on the annual Banned Books List. I’m not quite sure why I never got around to reading it before now, but since I’ve rectified that situation I would be a strong proponent for this being taught as a companion piece to To Kill A Mockingbird in high school literature classes. After all . . . .
Much like Mockingbird this is an unforgettable coming of age story that will forever stand the test of time. It just presents a different take on things: What if you were told about the childhood experiences of one of the Ewell girl children rather than Scout Finch? Or as the book points out on a couple of different occasions – what if you read about the dirty white-trash Slatterys rather than the O’Haras in Gone with the Wind?
The Black As Mitchell’s Heart label should be taken into consideration 100% before picking this up because it is as bleak and brutal as they come and it absolutely shredded what’s left of mine. Credit to Ms. Allison's writing where it is due because some of the alluded to moments in this book are the most powerful - and the one scene that is absolutely in-your-face completely gutted me....more
Penny and Sam have designated themselves as sort of “lone wolves.” She, for years – he, ever since his long-term girlfriend dumped him and he found himself in a downward spiral towards alcoholism. When the two discover they each have no one they feel they can rely on, they opt to make a sort of pact . . . . .
Phones rule humans drool
As the two discover maybe your best friend can be someone you don’t really ever hang out with in real life.
Emergency Contact would have never even pinged my radar if it weren’t for my friend Sarah's Review. Upon requesting it from the library I did something I normally don’t do and scrolled through the first page of reactions from non-friends and set my expectations fairly low due to the not-so-stellar ratings. I decided to give this one a look-see yesterday before blowing up the entire neighborhood at dusk and was completely surprised when I read the entire thing cover-to-cover.
I guess this is another selection where maybe my “YA for Grown-Ups” tagline should be taken fairly literally. It appears mainly people NOT in the target demographic are the ones who enjoyed it most. Who knows? All I can say is I appreciate authentic characters and Penny was about as real as they come. She was a girl who couldn’t find a tribe (and had some valid reasons for being standoffish – which DID NOT include some sort of spectrum disorder diagnosis which was refreshing) - she was just unsure of herself – like MOST teenage girls (and also had some trust issues because of reasons). And yeah her problems came off as more than a little first-worldy, but as a parent of spoiled brats fairly privileged teens I will again say the behavior was realistic and her reactions made total sense. As for Sam? Talk about a counterbalance to what could have been considered the non-issue issues of Penny. It was nice to see someone with ACTUAL problems being presented to show what a real crap hand at life looks like.
And the texts themselves? They are what make this fall into the “adorkable” category . . . .
“I need advice . . . I’m seeing Lorraine It’s not a date”
“So no bowling or Putt-Putt?”
“Ice skating Then karaoke Waterfall picnic at dusk”
“Very cool PS hay rides > karaoke Don’t forget flowers Carnations! NO! A corsage!”
“Dinner Just dinner I want to die . . . . So shirt? Y/A?”
“Shirt seems desperate Dress regular”
“Soooooo . . . . orange bell bottoms”
“Yah and pink Uggs”
“Pls delete this foto”
“NEVER Send nOOdz”
This made me feel all the feely feelz like a John Hughes or Cameron Crowe movie so it gets 4 Starzzzz....more
Which means she has officially found a fan in me. After reading Gun Love earlier this year I knew it wouldn’t be long before I sought her out again. When Prayers for the Stolen popped up as a recommendation on the library website I didn’t hesitate a second before clicking the “YES PLEASE” button.
This is the story of Ladydi Garcia Martinez and the village she comes from . . . .
“On our mountain only boys were born, and some of them turned into girls around the age of eleven.”
What does that mean, you may ask?
“If I were a girl then I would be stolen. All the drug traffickers had to do was hear that there was a pretty girl around and they’d sweep onto our lands in black Escalades and carry the girl off.”
In Prayers for the Stolen you hear about what happened to one of those girls, as well as what happened to the women whose husbands left the village for work (some who returned for visits, some who sent money, some who brought back “gifts” like AIDS and some who never returned at all) – but most importantly you hear Ladydi’s story and what happened to her after a dead man was discovered in her village . . . .
Authors tend to earn Stars from me by delivering fresh material or at least presenting a new spin on things. Clement is now two for two. I love how she writes a tale that focuses on a child – but is absolutely NOT something that would be considered a young adult book. I have found both Clement novels that I have read to be 100% un-put-down-able and at this point she has secured a place of honor for me amongst other grit-litty types of writers. ...more
It’s the last day of the year and I’m still 20 reviews in arrears which throws my 2018 tally off, will make me start the new year already behind, and various other unmentioned first world problems I’m sure. Bottom line is, anything I churn out is going to contain even less helpful content than the usual. I’m starting with What If It’s Us because not only did I just read it (after a typical Kelly-vs-Library-this-will-expire-in-less-than-24-hours “Challenge Accepted” moment) so it hasn’t yet slipped through the cobwebs which make up my brain matter, but also because I was TOTALLY prepared to be the person who hated it due to all of the “shipping,” and NOTEVERYONEISAFUCKINGHARRYPOTTERSUPERFAN and stop acting like such a victim all the time and 16-year-olds who freely roam New York City with little to no parental supervision and various other “Mom” issues as I am clearly not the target demographic for this novel. But then . . . . .
“Six days ago I met Arthur at a post office and the universe reached out with both arms to pull us together.”
And goddammit . . . . .
This was adorable. A gay teenage Nora Ephron movie in print format....more
I was fully prepared to hate everything about The Figgs upon seeing a comparison made to . . . . .
Good grief but those are some big shoes to fill. However, the combination of my love for dysfunctional families along with the admiration of whoever had the cajones to namedrop Tropper like it was nothing was too strong to resist. And now that I’m finished? Well, I am happy to report I feel nearly the same way about the Figgs as I did about the Altmans . . .
(The only thing missing is a wicked crush on Judd.)
All June ever wanted for herself and her husband Randy was to be able to retire in peace – maybe sell the house and move someplace warm, or at minimum get to take that road trip she’s dreamed of her entire marriage. That’s been impossible, however, thanks to Tom, Vanessa and Derek – their adult children who still reside in the family home. We meet the Figgs as June is trying one last push to get the children to clean up all of their old crap and clear out of the house. Little does June know that rather than losing some family members, the house is getting ready for a plus one, in the form of Derek’s baby no one knew was even expected.
The remainder of the story is coming to terms with alllllll of their family’s history. Learning that . . . .
And to . . . .
While realizing that the Figgs might not appear as dysfunctional from an outsider’s perspective as they do from an insider’s . . . .
ARC received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley! ...more
It’s only mid-April and I’m already terrifyingly behind on reviews so I’m gonna keep this one short and sweet:
1. I read this because Vivian told me to and I don’t believe she has ever told me to read something before in the history of our friendship.
2. It was a Man Booker Prize shortlister, so it’s a teensie bit smarty farty and the author knows how to words good.
3. You really have to like reading about a place because a bigly chunk of Elmet is spent describing . . . . you guessed it: ELMET.
4. It is NOT set in a trailer park or Appalachia unlike just about every other book I read. Buuuuuuuuuut, on the bright side some of the characters earn their money by means that aren’t quite on the up-and-up and it definitely doesn't fart rainbows and sunshine.
5. The author might be allergic to the word “the” because the lack of it in the dialogue is pretty much the only way you are reminded that these folks are not ‘Muricans.
6. There ain’t a happy ending happenin’ here, kids.
“You’re saying that on Friday night I have an equal chance of getting vomited on as I do of getting kissed?”
“Welcome to high school.”
So this morning I proposed to Julie Buxbaum via Instagram . . . .
I haven’t heard back, but it’s probably just because we’re in different timezones. I mean, she’s definitely not getting a restraining order, right?
It was my friend AJ’s Review that put What To Say Next on my radar - nearly a year after its publication date. Who knows when (or if) I would have ever heard of it otherwise. Sad thing too, because I had read Buxbaum’s earlier book Tell Me Three Things and had a fine time, but alas I have zero ability to remember an author’s name, so I remained oblivious.
On the surface, this could easily be dismissed as one of these stories . . . .
(But, you know, the opposite. Sorry, I don't have a lot of free time to gif hunt at the moment or the ability to words well so just go get this book already.)
To be fair, it is that. It’s the story of David who tells you right on page one that . . . .
“In the 622 days I’ve attended this high school, not a single person has ever sat beside me at lunch.”
A synopsis would be honest in telling you this is what happened to David when Kit decided to sit at his table instead of with her friends one day. But really it’s about . . . .
“What if we took the time to get to know some of the other kids in the other cliques, like the artsy types or the theater dorks? What if we all jumped out of our boxes and chewed up our stupid labels? Who would we discover?”
And it does it in such a realistic high schooly, non-preachy type of way. Not to mention it presents a non-white main character as well as a main character on the autism spectrum along with some depression and a handful of other real-life issues in such a matter-of-fact kind of manner without a bunch of hoopla. Because guess what? Non-white kids and kids who are a little different socially and genius kids and average kids and quirky kids and bully kids are alllllllll the types of kids that you might meet in school so why shouldn’t books include every kind of kid????
If you fell in love with Charlie in Perks and just loooooooove to read about young love, What To Say Next might be the perfect book for you. It made me feel like Kristen Bell when she got to meet a sloth for the first time. You know what I’m talking about???? Her happiness looked a little terrifying just like mine . . . .
I had some notes highlighted, but I just fired up the ol’ Kindle and poof they aren’t there anymore so Imma have to wing it. I will flat out admit I wanted this one for the title alone – and also because Joe Lansdale stories pretty much equate this for me . . . .
(Too soon? Sorry, Coach K.)
But regarding that title: I mean what is a Fender Lizard and how can I be one? Are they recruiting? Would I have to jump someone in an alley with a shiv to get in? I’m pretty much up for whatever it might take. Luckily I didn’t have to wait long to find out thanks to my Good Buddy Dan and the power of the “lend” feature.
As for the story itself, Lansdale is known for his ability to spin a good coming of age yarn, but in books that are clearly written for adults. That being said, although I’m fairly comfortable in saying Fender Lizards would NOT probably reside in the Young Adult section of your local bookstore – that is precisely where it should be. Adults like me will happily lap the story up as it dishes up some surefire YES PLEASE! features such as high school dropouts with a daddy who went out for a pack of smokes and never came back and a sister with multiple deadbeat baby daddy and I was just like . . . .
And don’t get offended because those are TOTALLY my people and could probably be most of my relatives.
Also they lived in a place like this . . . .
Which is practically a dare to me to see if I can resist giving it an auto 5 Star rating.
They also worked at a super high-end establishment known as the . . . .
Where they had to do THIS . . . . .
And maybe, just maaaaaaaaaaaybe their chance at getting ahead in life would come from winning one of these . . . . .
Not to mention . . . .
To which the answer is: A little bit!!!
Can you hear me squeeing all across the country? Not even sorry.
This was super fun even though I'm an old geezer. If I had a teenage daughter I’d hold her down and sit on her until she finished reading this recommend this one to her.
Thanks again for the lend, Original Dan. You’re one of the good’uns!...more
“Define success,” I say almost to myself. “I didn’t kill anyone today,” Alex says.
I quickly dismissed the idea of adding The Female of the Species to my TBR when it came out due to the first line of the blurb declaring that it would be a “novel that examines rape culture through alternating perspectives.” Now before you get your knickers in a knot, please hear me out that it’s not the theme itself that turned me off, but the inclusion of the very-much-overused-and-very-often-used-incorrectly term “rape culture” which on social media generally makes me say . . . .
(Just take a look at some of the low star ratings and what things pissed some people off if you doubt what I’m saying. )
But then it kept popping up from friends reading it and they all liked it and were of waaaaaaay different demographics so I figured what the hell. And in the immortal words of one Gomer Pile . . . . .
Because I freaking LOVED this sucker. The story here is about a group of high schoolers and the goings on that take place in their interpersonal relationships during their senior year. If you don’t like things dark, stay far away because this sucker focuses on the pitch black of teenage life. Characters include good girl Peekay (“Preacher’s Kid”), her ex-boyfriend Adam, his new girlfriend Branley, her ex-boyfriend Jack and his new girlfriend Dexter Alex, who just happens to have a little secret . . . .
Here, let me say it for all the trolls before they have a chance . . . .
This one hits you with truthbombs like a frying pan to the face . . . .
“It doesn’t matter. What you were wearing. What you look like. Nothing. Watch the nature channel. Predators go for the easy prey.”
And completely breaks your heart . . . .
“I don’t know how anybody can stand it. … All I have is a scratch,” I explain. “One little, tiny . . .” I break down again. Because it’s not just a little tiny scratch, and I know that. The softest parts of my skin are under a stranger’s dirty fingernails, my DNA embedded there along with fast-food grease and his own dandruff. Some of my cells are with him right now and I don’t want them to be. I want them back. I want them all right where they belong and I can’t even imagine if it were the other way around . . .
The writing is absolutely stunning at times . . . .
“It’s not the sheep that call to me, but the other wolves. I want to run with them, so that I may tear out their throats when they threaten my flock. But I can’t return to the sheep with blood on my breath; they will shy away from me.”
And amazingly enough occasionally made me laugh out loud . . .
“I’m inviting you.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Is that okay?”
“There’ll be so many people there no one will know either way. We can’t talk here. . . . She might throw her drink in your face.”
“Then I’ll kill her. Kidding. I have criteria.”
I don’t know what else to say. I dig Young Adult books that confront important issues head-on and boy does this one. 4 Stars rather than 5 due to all of the animal stuff. While I think I understand the point/symbolism/what-have-you behind it, that will be a turn-off to many readers and the book could have easily left all of it on the cutting-room floor....more
I saw something somewhere comparing Evison’s latest main character to Holden Caulfield, so I probably should have known immediately that would equate me hating it. In my defense, I held off reading it for eternity due to this fear and despite my unfortunate reaction to this selection, I remain 100% smitten with all things that are The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. But then I was just hankering for something of the Evison, Tropper, Nicholls variety (you know, a cluck cluck type of story only written by someone with a penis) and when I logged on to the library site to see what they might offer up I realized I still had an unread ARC of this one on the ol’ Kindle.
I’m not going to waste much time bashing or belittling this one. I’m simply going to recognize that I was most certainly NOT the intended audience for this one. If you are a brochacho who finds yourself constantly missing the point regarding things like how to become a grown-up or treat other humans like – you know – HUMANS, Lawn Boy might be just what you need to be beaten over the head with so you can realize that “fag” and “retard” probably aren’t super cool words that will soon be making a return to the everyday vernacular of the majority of the population and that just because you think you have it bad, doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t have it worse.
As for me? One-dimensional characters and a story that ties up with a pretty red bow – or in this case a pretty green topiary – was a far cry from the Evison I fell in love with.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!...more