This may have “summer” directly in the title and take place during that magical time of childhood where kids are set free from the confines of the school house for a few months, but lemme tell you it is the perfect read for . . . . .
When Tubby Cooke goes missing on the last day of school, the rendering truck seems to be chasing people down, a fella dressed as a olde timey soldier begins wandering the streets and a long-forgotten bell rings in the dark of night, it sets off the hinky meter of a group of 12-year old pals. Mike, Duane, Dale, Harlen and Kevin (and little Lawrence, can't forget Lawrence) soon discover it’s up to them to save their town before they all fall victim to the rising evil.
There’s nothing quite like reading a book set in a fictional location near the town where you grew up (complete with shoutouts to said hometown along with references to things like War Memorial Drive that only local yokels would recognize) – even more so when that town is in the middle of nowhere farm country. And although this took place in the 1960s - the free reign until the streetlights came on or your mom came out hollering it was time for dinner was very much the vibe of my youth in the 1980s as well.
The obvious comparison of Summer of Night will be to King’s It, but it is my opinion that Summer is far superior and rich in both characters and setting with an ending that doesn’t shit the bed. (Maybe Simmons wasn’t totally whacked on the booger sugar when he wrote his version *shrug*) The simple fact that I breezed through all 60 pages of this puppy squisher in one day should speak for itself. I was enraptured (and frequently on the edge of my seat with anxiety) with this story, these children (especially sweet Mike - the most perfect child fiction ever created) and solving the mystery of what was behind Tubby’s disappearance and all of the other creepy goings on. YMMV if you are a reader who gets bored or bogged down in the details and don’t want to lose yourself completely in the environment and atmosphere....more
This is the cautionary tale of three different girls who each fall into the same “bad boy’s” web. Truth be told, I was looking for more of a “John Tucker Must Die” vibe or at least for it to get around the school that this fella had a tiny pecker or something, but sadly that was not meant to be. Basically this was . . . .
I’m clearly not the target demographic, so teenage girls might really find this relatable. As an oldster I found the characters to be severely one-dimensional and the pacing to be on fast-forward. ...more
If you know me, you know I’m not much for smarty books and tend to lean toward the porny and the stabby. I have no idea why the Booker Prize became selections I started choosing. I just know that it happened years ago, I certainly don’t feel compelled to read all of them, but that getting through a handful has pretty much become my . . . .
(See that? Smort. Moby Dick references and errrrythang.)
Anyway, I didn’t know anything about this book before beginning aside from the fact that I wasn’t super keen on the cover and that it had a lot of pages so if I hated it, I was going to be in the slog for more than a minute.
Imagine my surprise when I found my “child of the year” recipient. (Again, if you know me, you know I kind of avoid children characters like the plague because children are assholes.) From the author notes at the end, it appears this was inspired by his own life story, but if you’re like me and don’t usually read those notes, you’d never know that. All you need to know is this is the story of Shuggie’s upbringing by a barely functioning alcoholic mother living on the dole in government housing. If you’re not a fan of accents, this may be a slog because dialogue is written as would be spoken by the Irish. And if you prefer your novels on the lighter/happier side of life, you probably better steer clear of this one because it might make you want to . . . .
(You just might have to wait your turn if Shuggie’s mom is already in there.)
But if you have a solid stockpile of Kleenex and the ability to wade through some serious misery, you’ll also find a surprising amount of love and acceptance . . . . .
“If I were you, I would keep dancing.” “I can’t.” The tears were coming. “You know they only win if you let them.” “I can’t.” His arms and fingers were still outstretched and frozen, like a dead tree. “Don’t give them the satisfaction.”
And the most delightful little boy . . . .
Shuggie heard the nurse say to a male attendant that she thought for sure Agnes was a working girl. “She is not,” said Shuggie, quite proudly. “My mother has never worked a day in her life. She’s far too good-looking for that.” ...more
This is THE. BEST. first love/first time story I have ever read. It made my old Boomer heart grow three sizes and I even squirted out a couple of tears for nostalgia sake. It was either that or the alternative . . . .
The story here is about Claude. Ready to graduate high school with the rest of her life ahead of her, she hopes to road-trip with her bestie and hook up with her longtime crush before heading off to college in the Fall. But life doesn’t always work out as planned and instead Claude finds herself spending her Summer on a remote Georgia island after her parents separate. With no WiFi, no motorized vehicles and nothing to do except continue working on her neverending puppy squisher novel draft, Claude eventually ventures out and discovers the local teens – in particular Jeremiah Crew. The remainder of the book is about their 28 days together. About falling in love. About becoming an adult. About adapting to change. About the reality of what happens when you meet the love of your life a decade too early . . . .
"Don't you wish you had a sack full of good days, Betty? Whenever you were havin' a bad day you could reach into the sack and make everything better."
Between the ‘Rona being errrrywhere and homeschooling (both high school and college versions) and entirely new systems at work despite no one being at actual work, I haven’t been on here in a hot minute. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut I’m still reading like a maniac and had to say a lil’ summin about Betty. Pause for a brief synopsis . . . . .
Srsly. Oh poor Betty. My notes are full of “holy shits” and “make me stop feeling things, you fucker” (that last one was specifically for Tiffany McDaniel). In case you aren’t familiar with this novel, it’s a fictional biography inspired by the life of the author’s mother that spans from 1901 to 1973. It’s about family and race and class and prejudice and evils of men (and women) and life in Appalachia and a little folklore and a spot of ‘shine. And it is a nearly 500 page kick in the face. But somewhere in all that misery is a little hope and humor as well. Hope in the form of the best daddy I've ever met and humor in Betty herself . . . .
"I've never seen a colored before."
"And I've never seen a butt for a face before but if you don't turn around right now, I'm gonna take my daddy's pocketknife and cut you up into tiny pieces to mail to your momma in a heart-shaped box."
I’ve had The Summer That Everything Melted on my Kindle as an advanced copy since well before its release date, but continue to avoid it like the black plague due to fear of disappointing either My Bestie or My Nemesis when I read it wrong. I’m not going to make any promises that I’ll bump it up the TBR anytime soon, but after reading Betty I think I would likely lean more toward Shelby’s side of the fence.
This book is not going to be for everyone. In case you aren’t familiar with me, I don’t shy away from dark subject matter and when I say this one is brutal, I’m not kidding. Absolutely no punches were pulled so if you are of the sensitive nature or require your reviews come with a trigger warning, consider this your notice that EVERY trigger will be triggered.
4.5 Stars rather than 5 because it was just a weeeeee bit long in the tooth and not every page was necessary....more
Here’s an embarrassing confession: I noticed this book sitting on the “new release” shelf behind the counter at Barnes and Noble while I was waiting in line to pick up my pre-ordered copy of Midnight Sun by Sparkles the Vampire. Since I had already blown my book budget on that sure to be Pulitzer winner, I had to go home and get this one from the library.
I didn’t know anything about Shiner before beginning aside from the fact that the cover didn’t make me want to gag since it didn’t have a face on it, there was no “girl” in the title so it most likely wasn’t a thriller, and shiner probably meant there was either going to be moonshine or someone getting punched in the face - which are both generally good times when it comes to me and fiction.
The story here is about Wren and her coming of age as the daughter of a snakehandling preacherman in Appalachia. Basically, as soon as I started this I was pretty much like . . . . .
I did question where things were going right about the thirty percent mark, only to discover the narrator was set to change (and then change again and again) and rather than turning me off the story I became even more invested. This was another heartbreaker of a tale – although not quite the gut punch that Betty was. If you were a fan of Where the Crawdads Sing, I certainly don’t feel I’d be steering you wrong to point you in the direction of this story. ...more
Pizza Girl is definitely not going to be for everyone (ACTUAL SPOILER SO BEWARE: (view spoiler)[Pizza Girl has a pretty sever drinking problem along with her emotional problems and is pregnant (hide spoiler)]), but boy do I love broken people and daring storylines written by authors who are willing to take risks and realize they are going to turn a lot of people off with their chosen subject matter, and coming of age stories, and I definitely loved that I got these types of vibes . . . .
But only in a bleaker way since I sort of live for fictional misery. It also helped that I went into this with suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper low expectations after really not enjoying Convenience Store Woman (which this is compared to in the blurb) and then being surprised that I actually did like it.
Even though I totally loved A Ladder to the Sky. (Also, nearly 600 pages ain’t usually my jam.) But oh Mylanta. What a story! Cyril is officially my new best friend (to me he was a fictionalized David Sedaris and there is ZERO I will ever not love about that), and while this may not be a book that sucks everyone in, I don’t want to hear about it if it didn’t work for you because lockdown is makin’ me a little stabby and this story made me feel all the feels and now I have a raging book hangover. All the Stars....more
But then I discovered even old people can appreciate the wonderment which is Tik Tok so I think I’m good for at least another 30 days. I’ve been feeling sort of the same about books and trying to pick up stuff that’s been on the TBR that I really have no excuse to continue avoiding being as I’m locked in the house all damn day. Born a Crime is one of those selections. Full disclosure – I do not watch The Daily Show (not even when Jon Stewart was the host) and I have not had any other experiences with Trevor Noah either. But this book was highly recommended so I finally took a chance because if all of my friends jumped off a bridge, well . . . . .
And everyone was right so it worked out great. It’s extremely interesting and informative regarding growing up during apartheid. I would like to crawl around Noah’s mother’s brain for a bit and figure out why exactly she made some of the choices she made, but that’s a different book, I guess. I’ve been told repeatedly the audio is the way to go for this one, but unfortunately neither library had that option available so I had to settle for the paper (or paperless, as the case was) copy. This has a crazy high rating and a billion reviews. Not much more needs to be said by someone like me other than I’d recommend it if you enjoy reading biographies. ...more
In all honesty, I picked this one up because I kept getting it confused with A Good Neighborhood due to the cover similarities. I didn’t read a synopsis for either, just noted that my friends gave both pretty high ratings and added them to the TBR in hopes that I would eventually be able to tell them apart.
I started The Most Fun We Ever Had on Good Friday knowing that I would probably have loads of free time for reading because despite the “office” (a/k/a my reading chair) being open, most of the courts, the stock market, etc. were closed so there probably would not be high demands for work that needed to be done.
This is the story of the Sorenson family. David and Marilyn, their four daughters Wendy, Violet, Liza and Grace, the daughter’s husbands and boyfriends, their grandchildren – the whole gang. The kick-off to the book is a “re-storking” of sorts when Jonah, a family secret given up for adoption 15 years prior, makes a sudden reappearance in the family. The ever popular timehop device is then utilized to complete the narrative, taking us back to the 1970s when David and Marilyn first met and continuing via the back-and-forth past-to-present until the story is complete.
First things first, this one isn’t going to be for everyone, so please take my rating with a grain of salt. If you are looking for a book with a lot of twists and turns and edge of your seat excitement, this is not for you. It also has a lot of pages, so there’s a solid chance if you don’t find yourself connected to these people it will be quite a slog to get through. I was completely invested in the Sorensons, however, so I loved every second I got to be a part of their lives. Maybe it was because I come from a similar large Catholic family. Maybe it was because I love ensemble casts. Maybe it was because these characters seemed so authentic and I loved them one second and wanted to tear their hair out the next. A biiiiiiiiig maybe (a/k/a definitely a reason) was that it was full of humor rather than tragedy. Whatever the case, this was exactly what I needed on a weekend that would have surely brought out some family drama (either in my own or that I ended up hearing about someone else’s) if history hadn’t been rewritten due to the ‘Ronee....more
However, I am a bitch who puts her money (or library card) where her mouth is and not only read (and loved) American Dirt, but also 100% sought out #ownvoices selections as well. Can’t say that I’ve noticed many of the bandwagon jumpers practicing what they preach and blowing up the intertubes with posts actually discussing books they have read themselves, but I digress.
I’m not going to bother “reviewing” this book (or even giffing it up to the extreme like I usually do). It has a 4+ rating, was a National Book Award nominee and there are thousands of other reviews. I’m simply going to say that this is one of the best Young Adult books I’ve ever read and I have never connected with a character like I did this one. Her prickly personality was like reading a biography about myself LOL . . . .
“If I end up being an office lady who wears slacks and changes into white sneakers to walk home from the train, I’ll just jump off a skyscraper.”
Preach girl. (I mean, I'm totally a boring office lady, but I refuse to embarrass myself with the skirt/old lady tennies combo.)
We may have come from different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds and had different skin colors, but holy crap was Julia someone I could relate to. I love a good coming of age story. Combine that with a bunch of family stuff and that’s what I call winner winner chicken dinner. And then . . .
Happiness is a dandelion wisp floating through the air that I can’t catch. No matter how hard I try, no matter how fast I run, I just can’t reach it. Even when I think I grasp it, I open my hand and it’s empty.
Oh lord this was good. Every Star and recommended to everyone from teens on up.
Okay, there's no way I can leave without addressing one of the biiiiiiiiig complaints about American Dirt was that every trope was troped for "tragiporn" purposes and no cliché was left untouched (*cough the Quinceañera cough*). Wellllllllll, lemme just say that EV.ER.Y.THANG. that happened in AD also happened in this one up to and including the party. Oh internet trolls, you are TERRIBLE at your job....more
I really have nothing negative to say about The Boy Kings of Texas. This was another selection I picked up due to this list and my issues are strictly opinion based and fairly benign at that. Per usual, I am always curious why a “Regular Joe” (for lack of a better term) deems their life story so much more noteworthy than the next guy that he/she takes pen to paper, but more power to them for believing their story worth telling. While memoirs by non-famous people aren’t always my idea of a great time, I am pretty open about my love for coming of age tales, so my rating would have probably been kicked up a notch had so many years past the formative ones been left on the cutting room floor. A heavier-handed editor would have also been beneficial. Domingo Martinez has an excellent delivery – very conversational with a dry wit, like sitting around the kitchen table having coffee with an old friend. Unfortunately not every entry was a winner so my attention waned at times. For those looking for an #ownvoices selection regarding the migrant experience, this is once again not it. Martinez’s brothers refer to themselves as Tejano, “Texican” and plain old American. They were all U.S. citizens and this is simply the story of their life growing up in Brownsville, Texas. That’s not to say it’s not worth reading, however. Much like Half Broke Horses tales about the Granny are well worth the price of admission all on their own....more
As well as most of the nonfiction (for now at least – I’m not a huge nonfiction reader) and went to the library website to see what selections were available. I grabbed several (I’ll get around to reviewing them eventually) and then I saw an article where Sandra Cisneros (a Mexican author) offered her support to Jeanine Cummins’ release and explained her reasons for doing so with grace and eloquence which made The House on Mango Street get bumped to the forefront.
I should have read this book eons ago not only because it is considered a coming-of-age modern classic, or because it was an American Book Award winner, but also because of its perpetual status as a Banned and/or Challenged Book. (The House on Mango Street (along with others by Latino authors) was actually banned from ethnic studies classes by the Arizona legislature in 2012). Those are all lists that I pay attention to and since I read a couple hundred books per year I always just figured I’d get around to it.
I will also admit I am the absolute worst when it comes to remembering author names. Until the big blow up last month I didn't even think it was odd to never know who wrote what (that's what Alexa is for, right?) and I certainly don't do background checks for #ownvoices before requesting ARCs or reserving selections at the library. I can’t see that changing either, because as a reader/reviewer I have pretty much zero interest in the who/why/when/where/how behind a fictional release – I simply want a good story. Writers should write and if it’s good the people will read it. And it may not be fair for one person to get nearly a million dollars for a book while another (Cisneros in particular) makes practically nothing for ten years after her book is released, that’s a whoooooooooooooooole different issue than “who is allowed to write a particular book.”
So now that you have all that unnecessary information, let me tell you this book is freaking phenomenal. At little more than 100 pages, Cisneros packs not only some of her personal history, but also that of a neighborhood and an entire culture into what I saw someone call a “story collage” – vignettes of a few pages each that truly leave their mark. Her prose is lyrical; her messages regarding race and socioeconomic status and gender roles punch you in the face with feeling and authenticity. At over 25-years old The House on Mango Street reads like it could have been written yesterday. This absolutely should remain a requirement for students and I am thrilled to see that it is being adapted into a television show. As Cisneros herself says . . . .
You must remember to come back. For the ones who cannot leave as easily as you.
This book ensures that no one will forget where she came from.
And since I spend about half my life complaining about ugly covers, can I just take a minute to give a major shout-out to Alejandro Romero’s artwork??????
If you are of the ilk that is offended by everything it’s probably best to just stay far farrrrrrr away. The protagonist here isn’t your average gal, her family is not your average family and their issues aren’t your average issues. There’s plenty to get butthurt about. For the rest of you with more open minds who are willing to take a risk, hopefully you will find yourself in the same boat as me and completely smitten by this story . . . .
My legend will show people that, even if you are not gargantuan, you can still be strong and brave and help others in your tribe.
And find yourself so wrapped up in the lives of characters such as Zelda . . . .
Boy Swallows Universe was already on my TBR for receiving a bunch of accolades when it came out from various sources which I can’t remember because my brain is made of Swiss cheese. And more importantly because I thought it was a Young Adult novel (Apparently it isn’t??? I still argue it is) that was written by an Australian and I’ve had pretty good luck with the Aussie YA novelists in the past. Then a friend of a friend recommended it so I went ahead and pushed it to the top of the heap in order to play the guinea pig since I’m the faster reader. Hindsight being 20/20, I should have made her read it first. It was her pal who said how great it was, after all.
In theory this book should have been a clear winner for me. It had so many things that usually generate a high rating . . . .
Okay, that’s a lie. I read every dang page. But that’s really my biggest complaint. Reading this was like driving on a highway full of potholes. Things were moving along just fine and I found myself getting to know the characters and invested in the goings on and then WHAM – the pacing just went right out the window while the author droned on and on and on about crap that didn’t have anything to do with the story (*rinse - repeat* ad nauseum). I also don’t really buy that much of this was inspired by any real life events and when it came to some magical realism being thrown in as an afterthought I was like . . . .
Oh Roxy. With all of your “goddess” and “Venus” and “grrrrrl” (and not like the “grrrrrrl lemme tell you” but like every time a female was referenced) talk I should have really wanted to punch you in the face. But dangnabbit you made me laugh so I was able to simply chalk it up to . . . . .
Despite most of the “if you liked, then you’ll loooooove” comparisons completely missing the mark, I never learn my lesson and fall for that trick almost every time. (I also request nearly every book with a house on the cover or the mere hint that it will be about some sort of hillbilly criminal element, but that doesn’t apply here so we’ll save that discussion for another occasion.) The shout-out to my darling Bridget is actually not a terrible one here (I have no idea why my other pal Bernadette was thrown in because huh? wha????) as the “letters” Roxy pens to her ex-boyfriend Everett are actually more “Dear Diary” style since she delivers very few of them. And as I mentioned above, her antics often made me chuckle. From attempting to take down the “man” (a/k/a Lululemon), to finding herself possibly joining some sort of fingerbanging sex cult, to dating 30-year-old skateboarding manboys, to battling the tweakers and the mobile meth lab parked next door, to becoming a better friend, to maybe growing up – all while attempting to . . . . .
Roxy could certainly be pegged as a millennial Bridget.
I wish I had the capability of slooooooooowing down rather than plowing through books or reading more than one thing at a time because I think I would have enjoyed this even more in smaller doses. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, because 3.5 Stars obviously means I did. Rounding down because of a spoilery issue at the end regarding Roxy’s decisions on dating. ACTUAL SPOILER AHEAD – DO NOT CLICK IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW.(view spoiler)[The one thing Roxy made pretty clear throughout the entire story was that she wasn’t fond of children. There was absolutely ZERO reason for her to feel bad about saying no to a date with someone who had kids. While I understand that one date does not equate marriage/step-parenting/etc., I also understand why she wouldn’t even want to waste her time and risk the potential of catching feelings for someone she couldn’t see herself with for the long-term. There is NOTHING selfish about a woman (a) not wanting to have children or (b) not wanting to co-parent someone else’s. (hide spoiler)]
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley! ...more
If that’s a dealbreaker for you, then do yourself a favor and stay away. However, if you are of a certain age you will not only realize that characters like this existed waaaaay before Mr. Green began writing books, but also that when the ensemble features a bulimic, a cutter, a depressed teenager, a self-diagnosed manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic disaster who some days thinks she’s a boy locked in a girl’s body, a compulsive liar, a potential future schizophrenic and the girl who just "got signed up by her parents" you may end up with some serious déjà vu in the best kind of way . . . . .
I’m sure some readers will take issue with the fact that these children are able to solve a lot of their own problems without medical supervision and that that is not realistic and dangerous and #triggggggggggggered. To those people I say . . . .
Since I am one of the minority who really did not like the former whatsoever and who had never even heard of the latter. But then it was kind of everywhere and the library is free so I added myself to the wait list and read it when my turn came around. Well slap my ass and call me Sally because I freaking loved this sucker.
The story here takes place in Garner County where girls spend the first 15 years of their life preparing for the Grace Year. That’s when they turn 16, are selected (or not) for marriage, and are exiled from the safety of their community for a year due to the overwhelming temptation their “magic” is capable of releasing in a man. Assuming they survive banishment, their future will be to keep sweet, mind their husbands and produce offspring. You know, pretty much like . . . . .
Then it might not be for you. It worked just fine for me, though. Maybe because it’s been a hot minute since I’ve read a book like this. Maybe because I actually liked this one so much more than The Handmaid’s Tale that I gave it a pass. Maybe because the holiday season is almost upon us and . . . .
Whatever the case – I thought this book kicked ass and if I had teens who enjoyed reading I would definitely bookpush it on them. Now I’m kicking my own ass I didn’t beg someone for an ARC because this needs to be added to my YA bookshelves. The movie version is sure to be a blockbuster....more
Let’s play a little bit of catch-up. I mean, not the type that I actually need to do which are the 40 other books I have yet to review ranging all the way back to the beginning of the year, but the type where I half-ass talk about a graphic novel I read last week for . . . .
Basically, This One Summer is about just that – one summer. The summer in question is the final one where the balance between remaining a kid and becoming a grown-up begins to shift. While at the beach, this is the year where Rose wants to spend less time digging holes with her pal Windy and more time noticing the local boys and wondering if her boobs are ever going to come in. It’s also the year after something terrible happened to her parents causing constant arguments and uncomfortable silences.
This story was challenged basically for being a coming of age story, proving once again that this country is full of people who make me say . . . . .
The big shock and awe factor this time around? Teen pregnancy. The horror. I’m giving this 2.5 Stars because there wasn’t anything wrong with it – it just wasn’t my idea of a great time. I’m rounding up because the artwork was excellent . . . .
This was also the first time I’ve ever read a graphic novel on the ol’ Kindle. I have to say, while paper will always be my medium of choice when it comes to “pitcherbooks” – reading this electronically wasn’t nearly as painful as I thought it would be.
Lisa Lutz is an author who has been on my radar basically since I became active on Goodreads, but one I avoided in fear of disappointing my Goodreads friends (I did finally buy The Spellman Files a couple of weeks ago when I found it at HPB clearance event for two bucks so I’m getting closer). When I saw this non-Spellman selection over on NetGalley I figured what the hell. And then I didn’t read it until the dang thing was already published. But whatever. E for effort, right?
Anyway, the only thing I knew about this before going in was the familiarity of the author’s name and . . . .
Stonebridge may look like Green Gables, but it’s like the Bada Bing for the preppy set.
After an eternity of dealing with a “boys will be boys” approach to discipline at Stonebridge Academy, the girls have decided it’s time to take matters into their own hands. What follows is a wickedly delightful tale of revenge. Told from various perspectives including a female teacher, a male teacher, a female student, a male student and the “Announcements,” my first (EDIT: SECOND - she wrote a chick-litty type of book I read years back and forgot about - Whoops!) experience with Lisa Lutz was a real pageturner. I loved how even though it was technically a boys vs. girls story and 100% a guide to owning your own sexuality as a female and empowerment and yada yada - it was presented without any male bashing. The boys who deserved to be punished got what was coming to them. The boys who did not were a vital part of the story and allies with the girls. My only complaint? It dragged on just a teensie bit too long (others will complain that the ending was totally over-the-top, but it was so awesomely extra it just made me giddy). I also think this should have been marketed as a Young Adult (my definition of YA is generally mid to late teens) book. Even old grannies like me have moved on past instalove. We want edgy, envelope pushing stories when it comes to the young adult genre . . . . .
I mean, really. If you truly believe you need more, this is the story of four children who run away from the Lincoln Indian Training School in Depression Era Minnesota. It’s about their search for home, and those they come across, while making their way to the mighty Miss.
This book has a 4.50 rating on Goodreads, so chalk my mediocre reaction up to the usual turtle sucking. Blame it on all of the required reading I had to do back in my school-aged days and how this book is an amalgamation of all of my least favorites. Excluding East of Eden, but truthfully I only threw that title in there because of WARNING ACTUAL SPOILER THAT WILL SPOIL THE ENTIRE DAGGONE BOOK IF YOU CLICK IT(view spoiler)[the mother reveal and the whorehouse. (hide spoiler)].
Word to the wise for other curmudgeons: This story is 100% not realistic, so if you’re a stickler for believability you might want to take a pass. (Y’all know I kind of give a rip about whether or not something is plausible – 99.9999% of my ratings come from page turnability alone.) If you enjoy your coming of age with a lot of luck in the form of narrow escapes, coming across the right people at the right time and landing monetary windfalls when they are needed most, this might be a winner for you.
I’ve noticed high marks from many of my friends regarding one of this author’s other books (Ordinary Grace). Maybe that one will be more my style. ...more
I don't think I'll ever stop doubting why Average Joes feel their story is one to be told, – especially ones like The Glass Castle or this that air alllllllllllllllllllllll of the family’s dirty laundry to the world. I automatically assume it’s due to the fact that . . . . .
There’s just something about the trainwreck factor that sucks me right in. And the story here about a mother using her child as her confidante as she engages in a decades-long affair with her husband’s best friend????
Malabar (Barf, right? How could she not be a complete douche?) would have made for a great Real Housewife of Cape Code and could have seriously used a copy of the APA’s Textbook of Psychiatry . . . . .
I wanted to read Summerlings for the cover as soon as I saw it via my local indie book store’s weekly email. Period. I did sneak a peek at what I was getting into before my turn came around at the library and thought a story about a group of kids that takes place in Cold War era D.C. during the dog days of summer would probably be right up my alley. I started reading and could hear Richard Dreyfus’ voice in my head narrating to me a la Stand by Me. Unfortunately, it lost me almost immediately.
The premise revolves around the kids attempting to plan a block party for their “Whitman’s Sampler” type of neighborhood in order to bring everyone together (and hopefully earn them an invite to the De Haans’ pool). They also hope they’ll finally get revenge on the local bully. Oh, and there’s a spider infestation happening. The kids are supposed to be between 8 and 10 years old - and sometimes it seems they are, like when it comes to their snappy comebacks . . . . .
Not to mention the glaring reality that despite there being a lot of various plotlines going on per the description above, there just wasn’t much to this story. And the dialogue??? At times the only way I could describe it would be . . . . .
So mad props to whoever designed this cover. It’s sure to sell some copies. As for the content? Aside from the very very very end of the story, I would probably market it as Young Adult and roll the dice that kids might want to read about life in the late ‘50s.
If you do read/do like this one or are looking for a trip on the wayback machine via a young narrator, I highly recommend picking up some Gary D. Schmidt. He’s pretty remarkable. ...more
In case you aren’t familiar, very briefly The Nickel Boys is “the story of two boys sentenced to a hellish reform school in Jim Crow-era Florida.” It is based on a place that actually existed and tells of the “teaching” that went on there. The school was segregated, so the two boys who are the focus of this story are black. Everyone and their dog has been reading this. Even Barry . . . .
I’m not going to get super detailed and pick apart this book because I read it wrong didn’t hate it. At all. It just didn’t really make me feel all the things it was supposed to make me feel. And the ending?????
I get that the ending was supposed to make me believe in hope and YES WE CAN and feel all the feels. But I have always been pretty clear that I don’t like to be emotionally manipulated – especially when 99.9999% of the story was supposed to be based on facts. You can’t throw in the unfathomable and expect me to swallow it down.
Maybe this would have worked better for me if it had been completely non-fiction rather than historical fiction based on reality. I’m almost certain the novella length did me no favors. Or heck, maybe Colson Whitehead is just not the author for me. He blew me away with The Underground Railroad, but also wrote the most boring zombie book in the history of the universe and now I feel mediocre about this one. I’ll still most likely pick up his next release since the library is only a couple of blocks away, but I’ll lower my expectations from this point forward.
That being said, I agree this is an important story to tell. I would highly encourage high school teachers to recommend it to their students. While the plot may be dark, details have been spared so I believe older teens would be/should be a target demographic for this one. After all, they are the ones who can change the world and they need to remember to . . . .
Make a career of humanity. Make it a central part of your life.
If you are looking for another book (I don’t feel comfortable calling it “true” since it appears the author may have pulled a James Frey regarding his “nonfictional” life story) of the atrocities that happen to boys in a juvie home that then follow them throughout their lives, I can’t recommend Sleepers enough – either the book or the film....more
Riggle had to move in with his uncle at the local trailer park after losing his over-the-road trucker dad in an automobile accident followed by his mom succumbing to her grief and committing suicide. This is the story of a week in Riggle’s life when he not only receives a 5-day suspension from school for supposedly having a vape pen full of THC, but also the week when his uncle goes missing.
Unlike yesterday’s review, this is a book that is being marketed as it should be – Young Adult. Again, kids aren’t stupid. Hell, they probably know more about dealing with real-life issues than many adults who either live in a comfort bubble or who have grown complacent. There’s no reason to hide them from the darker side of life and with a title like this you flat out know . . . .
However, since it is YA it does retain a little bit of hope – unlike most grit lit selections I pick up.
I’ve never read this author before (but I did buy a copy of Motherfucking Sharks because - DUH). As the placeholder “review” below indicates, whenever there’s a trailer park on a cover or even a hint that some bad shit might go down due to drug dealing or usage, I’m pretty much like . . . .
Seriously. This is pretty much guaranteed to be 5 Stars from Mitchell. Also, it's by the guy who wrote Motherfucking Sharks so if things go well I might have to invite him over to the dungeon my spare room while he writes his next book....more
But rather on various family members as they make their annual pilgrimage to Nantucket for the summer. We congregate at matriarch Exalta’s home. Oh Exalta. She’s just so awful that you know she’ll end up with an epic redemption arc and you’re going to fall in love with her before it’s all over . . . .
Middle daughter Kirby has opted to spend her break down the way at the Vineyard in order to spread her wings a bit away from the family and perhaps practice what she preaches when it comes to equal rights . . . .
This was another poolside read. I actually went home burned after realizing there was not enough sunblock in the universe to save my pasty ass, but there was zero chance I was going to let real life interrupt my time in 1969. And to think I was actually annoyed when I heard about the release of this book too because I was wanting a sequel (who am I, even????) for Winter In Paradise. I was about to get all angrified that Summer of ‘69 was coming out instead. But I sucked it up, put away Shelby’s Trademarked Butthurt Form and went ahead and got on the library wait list. I haven’t had a summer this chicky in as long as I can remember. First with these books and then . . . .
Frank Li is your regular meganerd who, when not studying in an attempt to score 1500 or better on the SATs in order to get into “The Harvard,” can usually be found with his buddy Q . . . .
Like most nerds, Q and I spend our time watching obscure movies, playing video games, deconstructing the various absurdities of reality, and so on. We hardly ever talk about girls, for lack of material. Neither of us has dated anyone.
Occasionally, however, they do go for a visit to what they have dubbed “Lake Girlfriend” (a/k/a a fountain in the middle of the Westchester Mall) where they chuck a coin and wish for their perfect mate. Q’s lips have always been sealed when it comes to his secret crush, but Frank isn’t particularly choosy . . . .
“Basically I guess she has to be kind, is most important.” Q raises his eyebrows. “So no meanies. Got it.” “And she should make me laugh,” I say. “Any other vital criteria?” says Q. I think. Anything else – hobbies, musical tastes, fashion sense – doesn’t seem to matter that much. So I just shake my head no. Q gives the fountain a shrug. “That’s super romantic, like in the most basic sense.” “Basically,” I say.
No one is more surprised than our boy Frank when it appears Brit Means may be taking a shine to him. There’s only one thing that could get in the way of his chance at love – his parents. You see, Mr. and Mrs. Li aren’t exactly what you would call open to interracial dating. In fact, they are pretty blatantly racist to anyone not Korean. Frank has been able to balance his two worlds pretty well up to this point – and so has the daughter of their parents’ friend group, Joy Song. When the two find themselves in the same predicament regarding the opposite sex the solution is simple . . . .
“Me and Joy have come to this agreement, whereupon the arising of certain occasions for socializing of a romantic nature between, say, myself and a certain member of the female population who might cause tension within a certain traditionally minded population of our shared ethnicity, uh.”
“We’re fake-dating,” says Joy.
I won’t say more in an attempt to not spoil everything. I will just say things get a bit complicated. And also, real life happens because doesn’t it always? And Frank grows up and eventually everyone learns to . . . .
“Go do you.”
“What the hell else is there, right?”
Take my 3 Stars with a grain of salt. Per the .gif above, I was obviously not the target demographic for this one. Sadly, I didn’t really like Frank enough to give him more than that and his behavior regarding the girls made the momma in me want to beat his ass. I also thought this was WAAAAAY too long and could have easily had 100 pages cut and still have managed to get the point across. Buuuuuuuut, all that being said, I would gladly read a book about Q and probably give that one all the starz because I just loved him. (Looks like there may be a chance too since this is marked “#1” – I just hope David Yoon finds a co-writer or an adviser if that’s the case because “Our Voices” works for everyone and Q’s voice is certainly not David Yoon’s.)...more
Or, at minimum, you are someone with a decent memory because it is very similar to the poem by Wallace Stevens. If you feel so inclined to Google said poem, you’ll find that Wiki says . . . .
The poem consists of thirteen short, separate sections, each of which mentions blackbirds in some way.
Such is the case with 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl. Intertwined vignettes where our MC (and, more importantly, her body) interacts with friends, co-workers, children, sexual partners, store clerks, her mother, her husband, the perfect Diane von Furstenberg dress, other women, etc. We watch as Lizzie morphs into Beth who then changes to Elizabeth who then becomes Liz as she grows from high school aged to adulthood and from fat to thin. We see how she views herself through these various ages and stages as well as how others view her via different perspectives being presented rather than Lizzie’s alone.
I picked this up pretty much immediately after reading the über bizarre Bunny because it was undeniable this was an author who could write . . . I just wasn’t smart enough to get all that she was putting down. This one, however? Holy crap. Talk about powerful and obviously someone who JUST. GETS. IT. Not to mention all the emotion is delivered without resorting to tragiporn or some pathetic trope or making us wallow in a billion pages. Mona Awad????? You are amazing.
And it is good. SO. GOOD. Like give them all the Tony Awards good. And the touring company is coming here soon and I’m sooooooo hoping tickets will be available so me and my fellow songlover kid can attend. But my reaction to the book?????
Here’s the pickle I’m in. This was so much more than a novelization. It was full length and well written to boot. The problem? Evan is kind of an awful unlikeable character for a goodly chunk (like 90% of the thing) until the reader/audience really gets to know what makes him HIM and you can become sympathetic to him making this just a cringey type of read. And the character who IS automatically the one you want to get to know more? Well, unfortunately he’s dead . . . .
I’m always looking for stuff to listen to during the commute, but since I only spend about 20 minutes in the car each way I’m pretty particular about what I want. Funny, short, or something I’m already familiar with in some way are generally winners. Probably goes without saying the narrator needs to not suck (narrator definitely does not suck here). If you’re a lover of YA you won’t be wasting your time here – same goes for if you’re a crazy completionist superfan (trust me, no judgment). As for me? My family is just happy I’ve changed up the playlist I sing while I’m dusting, vacuuming, washing dishes, doing laundry, taking a shower awake . . . .
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