“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
EDIT: Because it was this book's birthday yesterday and when a book finally gets released that will EASILY make your Best of 2018 list, you float it . . . .
Oh Mr. Joy, how I’ve missed you.
Perhaps the most ironic thing of all when it comes to this author is his name. If you were ever curious where the “Black As Mitchell’s Heart” moniker came from – David Joy’s stories are about as bleak as one brain could ever conjure. As my Bookwife stated over on her review, we pretty much have a Google Alert set for anything new in David Joy’s world, up to and including I now read what he tells me to (thanks again for turning me on to Larry Brown). We most definitely were in full-fledged “This Is America and We Want It Now” mode while waiting to be approved for The Line That Held Us and I am so happy to say that once again David Joy delivered the misery in spades – just the way I like it.
The story here is pretty simple – Darl Moody has been chasing after a dream buck for ages and has tracked him down to Coon Coward’s private property. What ol’ Coon don’t know won’t hurt him, though, so Darl waits until he’s out of town and sets about in the wee hours to do some poaching. The only thing he wasn’t expecting? Carol Brewer to be doing some poaching of his own – digging ginseng to be exact. Rather than face the crazy which is Carol's brother Dwayne, Darl does the only other thing he can think of – enlist his best friend Calvin’s help and bury the body . . . .
That might possibly be the best thing about David Joy’s books. You know there is not going to be a happy ending or that the characters will magically escape the superbadawful they have set themselves up for. I love how his stories are all different, but touch on similar themes of love, loyalty, family, friendship and religion (in the most shuddery way possible). He blurs the lines between what is right and what is wrong effortlessly. Not to mention, he really makes you feel like you are truly in the heart of the south . . . .
When it comes to hick lit, he’s the bees knees. Every Star.
Many thanks to NetGalley for approving me for this one before I stormed your offices!...more
Being that I’m a hermit, I can’t say I’m much for movie going. I can’t say I’m much of a television watcher either and when I do sit down in front of the boob tube to partake in some Househoes of Any City on the Planet highly educational program viewing, it’s usually on the DVR so I don’t even see commercials or film trailers. Occasionally my buddy Ron 2.0 or my husband point something out to me. Such was the case with Three Billboards and my husband shoving his cell phone in my face quite awhile back. I responded in my usual loving manner . . . .
Until he finally convinced me to just STFU and watch what he was showing me.
When I saw an update that someone was reading this “book” I continually begged the library to buy a copy of it until they finally broke down and did just that. Little did I know that it was the screenplay. If you don’t like screenplays, I can’t guarantee you’ll like this. If you’ve already watched the film, there is literally ZERO additional info in this book as it is the film in written format and that’s all it is. But if you’re like me, you only know what was provided to you in the trailer. Those things are that it features some of your absolute favorites that you have loved since she was a very pregnant police chief . . . .
Or when he performed a song that has followed you to middle-age . . . .
(And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the acting.)
You knew the dialogue was absolutely your cuppa . . . .
And that despite the “three billboards” storyline, you’d still have the occasional chuckle . . .
What I wasn’t expecting???
And also this . . . .
Ugly crying in front of everyone on my lunch hour?????
In case you haven’t heard, jasonwritesbooks(.com). More specifically, jasonwritesIMPORTANTbooks. Books that are RELEVANT and NOW and REAL and HEARTBREAKING. Books that make my non-book-lovin’ kid not fight me when it comes to reading. Books that give a voice to a population who so often is rendered voiceless. Books that when I muttered to myself on Sunday morning “what should I read next?” had said non-book-lovin’ kid running to his backpack and returning with Long Way Down in hand and yelling “THIS!” A book that he finished on his own instead of the fifteen pages a night clip he is obligated to read. A book that I read in less than half an hour due to its written in verse format. A powerful book. An IMPORTANT book that will let children know this is not true as far as Jason Reynolds is concerned . . . .
Every star. If Reynolds writes it we’ll read it.
Because when your non-book-reading kid tells you that you HAVE to read this one right now you put your fluffy romance aside and listen to the boy....more
“This story you’re reading once started out as a perfectly ordinary, everyday tale. Until, very suddenly, it wasn’t. This is how it went.”
Grist Mill Road should have been included in my “Best Of” yearly wrap up for 2017. EDIT: Fuck it. I’m adding it. The part that sucks is, this is one of those tales where the less said, the better. I’ll let the book do the talking and you can see if it might be something that would tickle your fancy . . . .
“There is more to this story than meets the eye.”
That’s for sure. In case you aren’t my friend here, I did something I rarely do and posted a status update while I was reading this. That update happened at the 4% mark and I looked like this . . . .
To sum things up in the most basic manner possible, Grist Mill Road is . . . .
“a tale that begins with a toy gun and ends with the real thing.”
I didn’t really know anything before I tried to get my hands on a copy of this book other than my friend Michelle gave it all the stars. I figured the worst that would happen was I would be told no (per usual) and I’d add it to both the mountain which is my TBR list and also to one of my nuisance emails to the local bibliotech where I beg them to order things for my poor ass. To say it blew me away is an understatement. The blurb references an Atonement-esque quality to the story. I’ll take it a step further. If Mystic River and Atonement had a baby it would be pretty near effing perfect. It might be this book. Shelved frequently on GR as a “mystery/thriller,” that is a moniker that really sells Grist Mill Road short. If you “read it right” (hehehe like I always do) the mystery will become ancillary and your focus will be on the people themselves and their stories rather than that surrounding the superbadawful. Once again, the book says it perfectly all on its own . . . .
“Labels are for soup cans.”
6 Stars. I mean 5. Whatever.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!...more
“I decide everything. Remember that.” God and monster all in one, and mine to worship.
First of all . . . .
Well, minus the crying. This was rough, but it takes more than a brutal storyline to get me to squirt some tears (more specifically, my period). Living Dead Girl is about – here I’ll just let the book tell you . . . .
“Once upon a time, I did not live in Shady Pines. Once upon a time, my name was not Alice. Once upon a time, I didn’t know how lucky I was.”
When Alice was 10 years old, her class took a field trip to the local aquarium. Alice got separated from everyone after being disappointed in the lack of dolphins and opting to go see the penguins on her own. It was there that she met a gentlemen who informed her that her class was now watching a movie and he would show her to the theater. Five years have passed since that day. Five years since Alice has seen her mother and father. Five years since she last saw her house at 623 Daisy Lane. Five years of living with Ray . . . .
“You can get used to anything. You think you can’t, you want to die, but you don’t. You won’t. You just are.”
I had never even heard of this book until over the weekend and I’ll be damned if I can remember what “if you liked this, you should try THIS” list it popped up on over at the Faceplace, but I am completely blown away I haven’t seen it over and over again on the Banned Books Week suggestions. To whoever decided to market this as a Young Adult selection, I give you mad props because you must have balls the size of watermelons. I can only assume the pitch was something of a “think of this like a modernized after school special.”
Living Dead Girl is definitely a story each parent will have to decide for themselves if they think their child should read (and I encourage parents to read this first before allowing your kid to check it out). While there are not necessarily specific details given regarding the abuse Alice suffers, that does not make the story less graphic and two-and-two is easily put together regarding all of the goings on. As the story progresses there’s a solid chance questions will arise about some of Alice’s behaviors and what she is willing to do in order to no longer be the focus of Ray’s attention. Not to mention that, much like in real life, a tale like this cannot have a happy ending. Assuming my children would actually read on their own voluntarily, I would probably attempt to keep this one off their TBR until high school. Highly recommended to anyone who thinks they can handle it and zero judgment for anyone who knows they can't....more
“I thought at least you could give me this, you could at least do that, but the truth is that you give me nothing.”
Welcome to my favorite week of the year! Unfortunately, real life kind of got in the way and I failed to realize Banned Book Week was quickly approaching until I received the pop-up reminder on my calendar this morning. It just so happens that by some strange coincidence I had finished My Absolute Darling last week and (of course) had not yet written anything down. While not yet a “banned” or “challenged” book, I figure it will only be a matter of time before this selection becomes one due to its disturbing subject matter and the fact that since it is about a 14 year old girl, there’s a good chance young people will want to read it.
What you have here is a coming of age story about a girl who named Turtle (actual name Julia). Turtle is a girl who lives up to her moniker – attempting at all costs to stay inside the safety of her own shell to protect her family secret from getting out. And I’m going to go ahead and spoil this because readers really need to know what they’re getting into here before they decide to add this to their TBR: Turtle’s father is not only emotionally and physically abusive throughout the story, but their relationship is also incestous.
I picked this up because of my friend Jennifer’s glowing review. Sadly, I didn’t have a 5 Star reading experience like she did. I appreciate what the author tried to do, but there were some things that pulled me out of the story – and when you’re reading something that should feel like getting hit in the face with a frying pan for the duration, being pulled away leaves you with a feeling almost like vertigo (which may be beneficial to many readers *shrug*).
So what went wrong for me? Well, to begin with, this needed a heavier-handed editor. As I said before, it didn’t always flow for me. My initial thought was it must have been translated to English due to the excessive use of adjectives and detailed descriptions of the local flora and fauna (and at times, Turtle’s “engorged” bits *eww and also not really an accurate descriptor*), while the actual story itself (which should have been graphically brutal if it followed the author’s pattern of writing) was lacking. Not to mention all the G.D. gun talk. If someone needs to be punched in the face like this one did with the foreshadowing, then they probably should stick to easy-readers. The choice of third person narration with everything being only from Turtle’s perspective was off-putting as well. I think this would have been much more powerful if written in first person. The way it was I had tons of questions I wanted answers to that could have been provided (and I’m usually one who is okay with not knowing every detail). But I wanted to know more about what made Martin a monster. Was his upbringing truly terrible? Did he repeat the sins of his father? Was he simply a bullshit artist? I wanted to be in his brain. First person would have made that impossible and I wouldn’t be griping about it. I also assume Martin murdered Turtle’s mother, but that was an open-ended matter as well. I’ll leave it that I’m dubious she died while “abalone diving.” While I do love the “John Green” type of teenager, Jacob and Brett were just a little too cool for school in my opinion. And then there was the little something extra (no spoilsies). This story didn’t need a kitchen sink thrown in FFS. Not to mention the over-the-top climax and tidy little ending wrapped up in a bow. Some stories don’t need to end well. This was one of them. As twisted as it is, if this was a YA book it would get more stars from me. I enjoy authors who are willing to push the envelope. As it was, this amounts to a decent debut. I’ll be interested to see what Gabriel Tallent comes up with next....more
“I gave you my heart on a silver fucking platter and you ate it, piece by bloody piece.”
Welcome to a review via giffery that is sure to put at least one song on a never-ending loop in your brain for the remainder of the day . . . . .
Bad Romance is the story of Grace and how she almost lost herself over the course of . . . .
It’s a story that shows . . . .
“Girls don’t fall in love with manipulative assholes who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices. They fall in love with manipulative assholes (who treat them like shit and make them seriously question their life choices) who they think are knights in shining armor.”
I wanted to read this as soon as I saw the title. Because duh . . . .
And just look at that cover? I diiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeeeee.
My old lady brain failed me and I didn’t realize that I had had a most excellent experience with Heather Demetrios in the past, so I went into this with high hopes yet low expectations. This is another selection that, although as far as I know is not yet challenged, would be a great candidate during this Banned Books Week since it addresses some seriously heavy subject matter that pearl clutching parents across the country would not want their children to read about. That would be a shame, though, because these are exactly the types of stories that need to be told.
While Grace’s home life and upbringing may have made her easier to manipulate than some, her relationship with Gavin felt pretty fathomable to me. Who wouldn’t want to date the handsome rock star? Why wouldn’t she take his side when he said his ex was cheating – after all, she was always flirting with other dudes. And really isn’t it just respectful to not be touchy-feely with other guys if you are in a committed relationship? Grace agrees that it is. But where do you draw the line? At what point do you realize that you pretty much always do what he wants to do. That if you don’t, he gets mad – or hangs up the phone – or peels out down the street and you end up doing nothing at all because he was your plans for the evening. When do you tell him to cut the shit and quit being such a drama llama? When does it sink in that when he shows up at your window in the middle of the night or spends hours across the food court watching you while you work at the cookie store that . . . .
“Your boyfriend’s creepy.”
Is it about the same time you discover this song isn’t nearly as romantic as you once thought it to be . . . .
At what point do you find the courage and strength within yourself to tell him . . . . .
When he tells you he hates you? When he calls you a whore? When he leaves bruises on you when you’re trying to get away, but he’s not done talking to you yet? When he rapes you? When?
While this may have been just a bit too long for me (I hate making that complaint because I sound like such a dimwit) – it is probably necessary to keep beating some readers over the head with examples of abusive behavior like Demetrios does here. At some point maybe there’s a girl (or a boy) who will recognize that their relationship might be unhealthy too and they will get out of it. And to anyone who feels stuck in a situation like this and has a boy(or girl)friend who threatens to kill themselves should you break up with them? This is what you do . . . . .
Middle fingers up. For real. Then call their parents, tell a school counselor, call the cops, whatever. But get yourself out first.
When you is poor so the $9.99 price tag is making you have a sad, but discover the porny librarian already has you covered . . . . .
Wrong Reader, Party of One??? Yep, that’s me! I put Ginny Moon on hold at the library because every single one of my friends who read it gave it at least 4 Stars. Now that school has started I’m assigned the task of finding stories my book-hating (I know, the hospital obviously gave me the wrong baby, but he’s grown on us over the years) kid might actually want to read without me tying him down and forcing him. One thing I know for certain is it won’t be this one because I pretty much looked like this the entire time I was reading it . . . .
Put your rocks and pitchforks down and give me a second to explain myself.
I’m not even sure if this is a young adult selection or not, but that really doesn’t matter. We’ve discovered the kid succeeds with “contemporary realistic fiction” so as long as I read the book first and make sure it’s not too adult for his developing brain to wrap itself around, it doesn’t really matter if it was marketed for teens or grown-ups. That being said, a lot of parents would be uncomfortable with the content here and obviously that’s totally up to each family to decide for themselves.
I am also not familiar enough with autistic children to determine how accurate Ginny’s voice was. To someone inexperienced such as myself, she seemed very realistic. Again, I’m sure there are others who will bash this character and/or the author and become super “offended” by her portrayal, but since it’s not a trigger for me I can’t participate in that party.
So let’s get to the plot. The story here is of Ginny Moon (you don’t say, huh?). Ginny was taken from her birth mother when she was nine years old due to severe neglect and placed in the foster care program. Fastforward nearly five years to the present and a Ginny who has been adopted by her “Forever Family.” The only problem is that Ginny has more than a bit of a tunnel-vision issue when it comes to a certain Baby Doll that was left behind all those years ago and she is willing to do anything to get back to it.
The above leads to my biggest issue with this book and why I won’t be recommending it to my kid . . . .
Ginny Moon was FIVE HUNDRED PAGES long. I understand the reader kind of has to become part of “the loop” which is Ginny’s thought process, but this thing should have been cut down to half the size. I’m going to try real hard not to spoil things, but let me just say as a grown up, it was 100% clear what was going on with the Baby Doll immediately and it should have been for all of the other adults in Ginny’s life as well which equaled a Kelly and Mitchell who kept getting more and more perturbed.
Leading to the other problem. The “Forever Mother” . . . .
I can’t remember the last time a character infuriated me this much. I mean I was literally screaming at my Kindle at one point. As the story developed, the less believable it was that this woman would have ever went along with adopting a special needs child to begin with. I mean, I know first-hand that pregnancy/new baby/postpartum can make you go a little batshit, but Ginny was a child with serious issues even before the “miracle pregnancy” happened just like the “Forever Mother” was probably a giant bitch way before then too. Ginny came into their lives looking like she “came out of a concentration camp.” She was a child with severe food issues (up to the point where a lock had to be put on the refrigerator to stop her from gorging herself and vomiting every day). She had been removed from another foster home due to an “incident” with the family cat. She had impulse control problems to the point of putting herself in harm’s way repeatedly. There is not one part of me that believes this woman would have adopted this child and when the whole point of the story is how realistic it is supposed to be, it becomes a glaring neon sign. But like I said, everyone else loved it, so you probably will too. 2.5 Stars for me : (...more
On Thursday morning I rushed to the library as soon as it opened in order to retrieve a reserved copy of my most anticipated book of 2017. Upon finishing that one Friday afternoon, I was at a loss for what to read next. She Rides Shotgun (best title ever) was on what seemed to be an eternal hold at the porny library, but for whatever reason (*cough* kismet *cough*) I decided to roll the dice and check availability at the “fancy” library as well. And then? Well, then I got smacked right in the face with what turned out to be the sleeper of the year. I started reading it at work (shhhhh, keep that on the DL), got home and put my “going to Wal-Mart clothes” (a/k/a jammies) on and didn’t put it down until I was done. When I finished I had one thing to say . . . .
She Rides Shotgun is the story of Nate, a man who is set to be released from prison after serving time for armed robbery. Days before Nate’s freedom, he’s presented an offer he can’t shouldn’t refuse from the local Alt-Right Movement skinheads, the Aryan Steel. However, Nate isn’t exactly what you’d call a team player, so refuse he does – which leads to a “greenlight” being put on not only him, but also on his ex and his 11 year old daughter . . . .
“You think you can turn this around? Hell, you’re already dead. You’re a goddamn zombie walking.”
When Nate discovers his ex (and her new husband) have already been brutally murdered, it’s up to him to save the little girl, and an unlikely partnership is formed while attempting to remove the marker from their heads . . . .
“I’ll be back. Something goes wrong, you run.”
“I won’t leave you.”
“Fuck that noise. You’ll run.”
Which eventually leads to me really channeling my inner-Mitchell and being willing to declare ol’ Nate dysfunctional father-of-the-year . . . .
“He was all she had and so he was all that mattered. And maybe she was all he had anymore, and maybe that meant she mattered.”
If She Rides Shotgun was food, I would have looked pretty much like this while reading it . . . .
Although I’m married to a huge movie buff, I’m (obviously) more of a reader. I had a very rare experience with She Rides Shotgun . . . . .
This sucker played out like a film in my head. That means there was not one break in character where they did something I didn’t think that character would do, or went someplace I didn’t think they would go, or said something I didn’t think they would say. And they were so three-dimensional that the actors cast themselves in the roles. I’m not one who wants to make the sexy with Charlie Hunnam, but he was the only person I ever imagined as Nate. Same goes for Eleven Millie Bobby Brown as Polly, and Michael Rooker as Crazy Craig, and Danny Trejo as Boxer, and John Cho as Park and Tommy Lee Jones as Sheriff Houser and on and on and on and on. Jordan Harper, I’m telling you, if this was a movie my husband would watch the shit out of it. He tried to claim he might even be interested in reading the book, but that’s just crazy talk and even Mitchell said so. As for my feelings for you? Well . . . . .
You might want to go ahead and get a preemptive restraining order in case you aren’t already working on your next novel. Mitchell and I aren’t really well-known for our patience. Or you can take us up on our offer and stay in our dungeon guest room. We’re all for making sure new authors find the following they deserve . . . .
Just ask Adam Howe. We let him out every now and again. Sometimes long enough for him to even be the one who finally wears us down and makes us pick up a new release - like what happened here.
Anyone seen Shelby around? Here – lemme crawl in my safe space just in case she shows up . . . .
So I fully admit I read this wrong, but that’s what happens when people go 4 and 5 Star something and make me want it without knowing anything. Go read Shelby or Zoeytron or Diane S.’s reviews to see that you do want this on your TBR and read this one only to confirm that . . . .
The main problem I had with If The Creek Don’t Rise was the fact that I attempted to read it on what turned out to be the most stressful weekend of my young 20-something year old (just go with it) life. You see, one of my oldest friends passed away this weekend and she did so just like the filthy hooker she was – with a bunch of hollering and smoke pouring from both her front and her butt on a street corner. Said friend was my beloved Volkswagon Passat. This book was read while spending eleventy-three hours waiting to get approved for the opportunity to give all of my money away every month on a new “friend” who probably won’t end up being half as loyal as she was.
Anyway, I didn’t know anything about this book except for the swoony ratings – and really, even if I had bothered looking at the synopsis I wouldn’t have been aware that this wasn’t going to end up being the story of Sadie Blue like I was banking on. While Sadie Blue and her sad and sorry life were the jumping off point, If The Creek Don’t Rise ended up being more like little vignettes by alllllllll of the residents of Baines Creek. The writing was truly captivating, but I’m not a huge fan of books that “play on repeat” with various scenes looping and being told by multiple narrators. If that kind of thing isn’t your cuppa either, you might struggle too. I rarely (if ever) say this, but this is a book that could have benefitted from quite a lot more pages. I felt like every single one of the characters had so much more to give and would have liked to have had the chance to get to know them more. That being said, I’m interested to see what Leah Weiss comes up with next. I hope to shout it’s more from Appalachia, because I think she’s got a lot more to say.
Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley! ...more
“It’s easier to keep an animal in a cage than to play with it.”
My friend SUSAN’s review is what put Allegedly on my radar. When I took a glance at the synopsis I immediately was like . . . .
I was correct. My enjoyment of this book comes as such a surprise that I find myself in fear of developing a serious case of word vomit and spoiling the entire thing with too much typey typey so . . . . .
Yeah. That’s really what I need to do. I think I’ll let the book speak a little for itself. Meet Mary. She’s getting ready to turn 16 . . . . .
“I was still in baby jail on my last milestone, my thirteenth birthday. They didn’t throw me a party then either.”
Mary doesn’t reside in the “baby jail” any more. For the past three months she’s been living in a halfway house of sorts . . . .
“Most of the crimes the other girls in the house committed are like that. Crimes of passion, “snapped” moments, and good ole-fashioned wrong place-wrong time situations. My crime was more psychotic. I was the nine-year old who killed a baby.”
She’s about to discover she has another problem on her hands . . .
“My period is now ten days late.”
When Mary is informed that there is zero chance she will be keeping her baby as long as she’s connected to her crime, she decides it’s finally time to start talking . . . .
“Alright, Mary. Now, just tell me everything that happened. From the very beginning.”
And that’s where things start to get interesting. And horrifying. And cringe-inducing.
If you like your YA to pack a punch, this is a must read. Reminiscent of another fan fave . . . .
Allegedly is relentless and will keep your fingers flipping until literally the very last page. Fair warning, if you’re an oldie but a goodie like myself you will most likely have a moment or three where you start talking directly to Mary or at the book in general with things like . . . .
But trust me that it all makes sense in the end . . . .
Greg doesn’t have a problem remembering good things about his childhood. He knows he was happy living with Nan and Herb. His family took an amazing vacation to Finner’s Island. Even when he was seeing THEM Nan was right there with him – stocked with packing tape to seal THEM out. Those days are long gone, however. Herb died and Nan had to move into a nursing home and nobody in the family wants to talk about what happened at Finner’s Island. Nowadays Greg has to be satisfied making it through a day of high school. A place where . . . .
“I’d like it if someone just called me “Greg.” “Psycho is a hard nickname to live down.”
Greg’s teacher, Ms. Hayes, thinks she might be able to help with that. And why not? She seems to really know what she’s talking about . . . .
“Do you have any prior training in this field?”
“Are you qualified in any way?”
“I studied psychology.”
With the encouragement of Ms. Hayes, Greg begins writing a journal, but with a twist – he writes in his journal to a fellow student named Alice . . . .
“I think writing to nobody’s pretty stupid. That’s why I’ve decided to keep writing to you. I hope you don’t mind. You just seem like a good way of getting the words on the page. I know you don’t know me, but nobody knows me, and by knowing that you now kind of know me better than anyone. My name’s Greg, by the way.”
I discovered this book thanks to the Bookish Buzz’s 13 Underrated Novels You Must Read Immediately. I’ve now read six of the thirteen and while I can’t say they have all been what I would consider “underrated” I can say they’ve all been completely unique. Alice and the Fly is definitely not going to be a book for everyone. The entire thing is spent in the head of a mentally ill person AND aside from a couple of interview snippets with a handful of other characters it’s all in journal form. That means you’re literally reading things like what Greg had for breakfast. It’s obvious the story is building up to something, but that something doesn’t come until 90+% so if you’re not invested in Greg, you will struggle. This is also shelved as YA, but I would consider it a very mature YA. Although the bad stuff is either alluded to or written fade-to-black style, pretty much ALL the bad stuff you could think of happens. It should go without saying at this point, but this is definitely not a sunshine and unicorn farts selection. However, if you’re like Mitchell and me you already believe that . . . .
“Once upon a time there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug.”
Starr’s parents have always tried to do what’s best for their children, as well as their community. While the family has maintained residence, as well as a corner store, in the inner city – Starr and her brothers get dropped off for school every morning out in the ‘burbs in order to give them the best chance possible at a better life when they grow up. Living in two different worlds isn’t easy when you’re a kid, and reality comes crashing down in a monumental way when Starr witnesses her childhood friend Khalil get shot to death by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. As the investigation into the incident progresses over the course of a few weeks, Starr begins to learn more about her community, about her friends, about herself and about the meaning behind Tupac’s lyrics . . . . .
“Listen! The Hate U – the letter U – Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody. T-H-U-G L-I-F-E. Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out. Get it?”
While this one wasn't quite as impactful for me as All American Boys, The Hate You Give is most definitely a book I believe young people should be reading in school. Especially kids in the suburbs who are privileged enough they don’t have to be told things like . . . . .
“Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you. Get a good look at the cop’s face. If you can remember his badge number, that’s even better.”
The only “complaint” I have about this book is that it won’t age well. Pop culture references that have already become uncool . . . . .
Or that weren’t ever cool (even when the oh-so-attractive Cam Newton invented it) . . . . .
Are almost a guaranty to have readers dismissing the very important lessons to be learned. Mainly . . . . .
“At the end of the day, you don’t kill someone for opening a car door. If you do, you shouldn’t be a cop.”
It shouldn’t take a friggin’ rocket scientist to figure that out....more
Before I begin, I need to take a second to address Eleanor directly . . . . .
Eleanor is my new book bestie. Quickly approaching 30, Eleanor has been working in the accounting department of a graphic design firm since she was 21 and is quite the creature of habit . . . .
“From Monday to Friday, I come in at 3:30. I take the Daily Telegraph, not because I like it particularly, but because it has the best cryptic crossword. [I] work till 5:30. The bus home takes half an hour. I make supper and eat it while I listen to the Archers. I usually have pasta with pesto and salad – one pan and one plate. I usually (well always) talk to Mummy on a Wednesday evening for fifteen minutes. I go to bed around ten, read for half an hour and then put the light out. On Fridays I . . . buy a margherita pizza, some Chianti and two big bottles of Glen’s vodka. When I get home, I eat the pizza and drink the wine. I have some vodka afterward . . . I drink the rest of the vodka over the weekend, spread it throughout both days so I’m neither drunk nor sober. Monday takes a long time to come around.”
All that may change, however, if Eleanor’s new “project” with the douchey up-and-coming musician in her neighborhood works out . . . .
Things should go swimmingly – well, as soon as Eleanor gets a makeover . . . .
I’m kind of at a loss for what to say about this book. I guess since I’m a horrible curmudgeon the simple fact that I loved it says a lot. Also, the fact that I (along with Mitchell) loved it, should serve as a warning that this isn’t necessarily a traditional “feel good” type of story. On the other hand, while it definitely had its share of dark moments . . . .
“You get used to being on your own,” I said. “Actually, it really is much better than being punched in the face or raped.”
And I haven’t met a “Mummy” comparable to this one since back in the day . . . .
At the end of it all, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was a story about walking through fire and surviving, about cohabitating with a roommate who was “a recluse at heart, like J.D. Salinger or the Unabomber,” and about finding friendship with one of the most unlikely people an office employee could ever imagine . . . .
Eleanor’s story made my Grinch heart grow three sizes and I cried real human tears. Ha! Just kidding. This is how I normally “cry” . . . . .
I’m sure there are some out there who will find Eleanor’s tale to be quite the downer for a good portion of time, but I don’t think only people with robot hearts like me will find the waterworks factory out-of-order this time around due to the abundance of humor so well-placed throughout . . . .
“I’m no epicure; however, surely it is a culinary truth universally acknowledged that fish and cheese do not go together? Someone really ought to tell Mr. McDonald.”
“I started to wonder why the band was singing about, presumably, the Young Men’s Christian Association.”
A high 4 Star rating – missing the full 5 Star mark for one teensie little tidbit at the end that I found completely unnecessary and that cheapened things a little for me. Still highly recommended! I also want to give kudos to the author (who I do not know aside from reading her Goodreads’ blurb) for working a full-time job while writing this story. It’s nice to see someone who still lives in the real world and realizes people have to work for a living and knows that award-winning bestsellers aren’t simply handed out on silver platters....more
“If there was a God, He wasn’t worth a damn. The devil wins out every time.”
Despite having a reader copy of this for months and despite the glowing review of a certain throne sitter, I never bothered taking a gander The Weight Of This World until the day before publication. When I started it during my lunch hour the other day I was hooked right from page one (in the immortal words of one Ron Burgundy, “boy, that escalated quickly!”) and knew when I arrived home that evening I’d be greeting my family in a not-so-motherly way . . . .
Turns out that wasn’t necessary, because they were already out doing basebally things and wouldn’t be home for a bit. It also turns out I wasn’t quite equipped to read all this misery in one go because rather than it feeling like ripping a Band Aid, these characters were experiencing something more like . . . .
Aiden and Thad had been like brothers ever since Aiden’s daddy blew his momma’s brains out in front of him in the living room one day, immediately followed by making quick work of offing himself as well. Thad wasn’t really living a dream life himself, seeing that his stepdaddy wasn’t too fond of having his (literal) red-headed stepchild under foot, so he’d been sent down to live in the trailer at the bottom of their property by himself.
If you’re interested in reading the types of suggestions Mitchell makes for book club, this one checks all the boxes. Like reading any trigger you could imagine? Enjoy hearing about all the awesomeness that comes with snorting crank and staying up for days on end? Do you love hearing about not one, but several characters blowing their heads off? A book where you know right away nothing could possibly end well? Then this is definitely the winner since it has all that and more that I won’t spoil for you . . . .
This is a story that will teach you . . . .
“The line between good and evil was fine as frog hair.”
And that . . . .
Mitchell says y’all should give it a go. He also said . . . .
But I’m pretty sure that was directed only at me.
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
And in honor of Ron 2.0 (who might actually find this one not so ridiculous even though these fellers were getting around in a Ranchero), here’s the song that played on a loop in my head while I was reading this one . . . .
It’s time once a year for my library’s Winter Reading Challenge and my chance to score a FREEEEEEEE coffee mug. (Yes, I am the cheapest date you could ever imagine.) This year’s theme????
Basically any book that became a movie or television program. It turns out this is apparently the list of recommended reads I grab onto each year because I had read a bigly portion of the suggested titles (and had less than zero interest in some of the others). I had put A Dog’s Purpose on the wait list after seeing the preview when I took my kids to see Sing - a movie everyone else apparently loved but I thought was super . . . .
My eternal hold finally ended and it was my turn at the perfect time so I read this book on Day 1 of the challenge. And pretty much looked like . . . . .
The entire flippin’ time I was reading.
The story is about a dog who . . .
“Was seized with an inexplicable question, a question of purpose. This didn’t seem like the sort of thing a dog should think about, but I found myself returning to the issue often. Why? Why did I harder a nagging feeling that as a dog there was something I was supposed to do?”
Which leads to discovering that . . . .
“Of all the things I’d ever done, making ____________ laugh seemed the most important. It was, I reflected, the only thing that gave my life any purpose.”
And then . . . .
Followed by the dog being reincarnated only to discover . . . .
“This was, I decided, my purpose as a dog, to comfort the boy whenever he needed me.”
And . . . . .
But not only did the dog provide comfort . . . .
“My purpose, my whole life, had been to love him and be with him, to make him happy.”
And oh my god . . . . .
Then the dog came back AGAIN and began to question . . . .
“Could a dog have more than one purpose?”
Leading to . . . .
“I was a good dog. I had fulfilled my purpose.”
By this point I looked like I had been punched in the face and my family was like . . . .
But the story wasn’t over yet and I bet Kleenex stock prices went through the ROOF this morning. I don’t often have emotion (other than happiness and anger), but when I do everyone should watch the eff out.
Please note I realize this is not necessarily a “good” book – it’s written from a dog’s point of view so it’s pretty simple and it definitely is designed to make you feel all of the things, but I give zero shits. I love dogs and I hate almost all people so it worked great for me.
“Evil doesn’t have to be loud, son. In fact, it reserves that for the merely boorish. Evil is quiet, stealthy – it sneaks up on you, smiles, and pats you on the back while pissing down your leg.”
Let me tell you the tale of how this ended up on my TBR. It was a cold and snowy New Year’s and the family was all in the reading room to make as much noise as possible in order to distract me from my ‘puter watch me churn out one of my super professional book reviews when my husband (the non-reader) began pelting me with “Have You Read [fill in name of book]???” questions. After the fourth title (two of which were quality reads of mine last year and two of which I had never heard of) I asked where the eff he was getting these selections. He then informed me it was his co-worker’s “Best Reads Of 2016” Facebook post. Recognizing that two of the choices came from my own brilliant mind I thought I should take his other two suggestions seriously as we appear to have the same taste and asked my husband to repeat the titles – which I then looked up on Goodreads. The only thing I saw when The Secret Wisdom of the Earth blurb came up was APPALACHIA and I was all . . . . . .
Which led my husband to have a “You Serious, Clark?” moment. Yep. Dead serious. I’m a cheap sell.
Now that that overshare is over, let’s talk about the book . . . .
“Heard your momma’s gone crazy cause your little brother died,” he said, looking hard at me.
“She’s taking it kind of bad.”
That’s the reason young Kevin and his mother are spending the summer with his granddad Pops. The rest of the story is a mix of a coming of age tale in the spirit of Harper Lee where Kevin learns that unfortunately people don’t always believe that . . . .
With a little Jack London, Bill Bryson and just a hint of Barbara Kingsolver’s eco-warrior thrown in for good measure.
Since I’m not a fan of humans, I don’t even know the name of my husband’s co-worker, but I owe him a thank you. I would have never heard of this book were it not for his recommendation and that would have been unfortunate because . . . .
Note to everyone with normal human emotions: This one is a real gut-wrencher. We’re talking a brutal accidental death and a hate crime and black lung and poverty and abuse and everything else that’s wrong with the universe that might make you have the feelz. You’ve been warned....more
Welcome to Cork – a quaint little nothing of a town in Ireland ran by local mob boss Jimmy. Cork is also where Jimmy’s birth mother Maureen lives and she’s just had an . . . uhhhhhh unfortunate interaction with an intruder. Luckily Jimmy is a problem-solver and calls on a favor of local drunk Tony. Tony gets more than he bargained for when the “favor” ends up being not only body disposal, but also a body he recognized – fellow boozer and pimp Robbie. All goes smoothly until Robbie’s girlfriend/“employee”/dope fiend comes sniffing around Maureen’s place (which used to be the brothel) hoping someone has seen Robbie because he was also her drug connection. Which brings us to our last main character Ryan – Tony’s 15 year old son who happens to be a real up-and-comer in the drug trade. Find out what happens when all of these worlds collide on the next episode of . . . .
Are any of you even old enough to remember Soap???? Probably not. You’ll just have to trust that my little blurb above combined with that joke is fecking brilliant ; )
Edward Lorn gets 100% of the credit for me reading this. Even though it had a title that made me go hmmmmmm and a cover that made the reformed Catholic in me want to jump all over, I just didn’t think it would be worth climbing over Mount Library Book anytime soon. Man am I glad I have someone like Ed in my life. We don’t always agree on books, but when I see him really crapping his pants over something I try to pay attention. Especially when he’s ballsy enough to name drop an author like Caroline Kepnes in his review. Normally I hate when books or authors are compared to others, but it’s only because the people who make the comparisons appear to be inbred illiterate hillbillies who think everything is “the next Gone Girl”. That being said, I’m going to make my own comparison: If The Goldfinch was one of your top reads, The Glorious Heresies might be the book for you. Bonus is that it only contains half the pages!
Easy E is spot on in his assessment of Lisa McInerney’s ability to develop this ensemble cast – let alone tackling the task of taking a young man through his oh-so-very-unpleasant coming of age. Simply remarkable. As much guff as is presented on the interwebs that “men and women are the same and writers should be able to write the opposite sex” that is simply not true. McInerney has, indeed, done what Kepnes and Tartt have done in the past with these male characters and she should be praised for it. She also should be praised for my current state . . . .
This is hands down the best book I’ve read this year. You heard me right, it’s getting top honors when I do my yearly wrap-up. It’d be great if I had some real doozies for quotes I could share in order to show you how brilliant this was, but even though I have a shitton of highlights on my Kindle, they all amount to things like this . . . .
“You don’t know your own strength till you need it.”
“How do you build a life from bones?”
“There was something beautiful here once.”
“Nothing cleansing as fire.”
As you can see, none of the above means diddly squat unless you read the book. Sooooooo, in order to prove just how serious I am about this being as good as I think it is I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m recommending it to Ron 2.0. For the first time ever I think I’ve found something that can pass his ridiculous™ meter . . . .
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. You work and pay off the mortgage and pay taxes and do what you should. You marry. For better or for worse until death do us part, wasn’t that what they agreed? Ove remembers quite clearly that it was. And she wasn’t supposed to be the first one to die. Wasn’t it bloody well understood that it was his death they were talking about? Well, wasn’t it?
And so begins Ove’s story. Left alone after more than 40 years of marriage, Ove has one final task to fulfill – commit suicide. Being that Ove has always been a man of routine and order he has everything in place. From making sure the proper drill bit has been used and a sufficient hook installed to hold his body weight to putting on his best suit to having his funeral instructions carefully tucked in said suit’s pocket to covering the floors in order to assure the realtor won’t have to deal with cleaning up dirty footprints from the first responders, Ove is ready to say goodbye to this world. Until some bloody idiot who can’t even back up a trailer not only flattens his mailbox but then proceeds to scrape the entire side of his house thus interrupting his plans. The same goes for when he tries the old tube in the tailpipe method and even when he decides to dispose of his earthly body in a not-so-tidy way. Ove just can’t be let alone to die in peace, it seems. But over time even though . . . .
He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had.
And . . . .
If anyone had asked, he would have told them that he never lived before he met her. And not after either.
Due to the pestering of the new vivacious family next door and one Annoyance Cat, things begin to shift . . . .
She points at a figure in the middle of the drawing. Everything else on the paper is drawn in black, but the figure in the middle is a veritable explosion of color. A riot of yellow and red and blue and green and orange and purple. “You’re the funniest thing she knows. That’s why she always draws you in color.”
Proving that . . . .
Love is a strange thing. It takes you by surprise.
So there you have it. There’s a good chance if you pick this book up you won’t like it all that much. That’s what happened to my mother-in-law (who gets all of the credit for me reading this one since it was her book club selection that I attempted - and failed, natch – to participate in hundreds of miles away). My explanation of her not enjoying this as much as me? She is the Sonja - not only for her husband but for our entire family. Maybe – just maybe – you need to be a bit of an Ove to fully appreciate him. And if you are, get ready for a real one-two punch right in the feels . . . .
I finished reading this at lunch yesterday and terrified the entire office when they walked by my desk . . . .
Yep. I cried. That doesn’t happen often. And when people asked WTF was wrong with me I couldn’t even articulate . . . .
So like I said, I can’t tell you for certain you’ll love Ove as much as I did. You may hate it and that’s totally fine. But for me? This is going down as one of my favorite books of all time and I already ordered a hardcover in order to make sure it has a permanent spot on my bookshelves. Maybe you just have to be the recipient of the attention of an “Annoyance Cat” of you own to fully appreciate the story . . . . .
(^^^^^That’s “Sewer Cat” – named such because he likes to hang out in the storm sewer like the nasty freak he is. He’s about eleven thousand years old, mean as a snake, second runner-up (behind Shelby’s White Trash) in the worst cat in the universe contest who sprays his disgusting pee/semen/whateveritis on my bushes to mark the front of my house as his territory and pulls the decorative landscaping away from my porch so he can sleep under it when he feels the need. He’s the epitome of a nuisance animal . . . but when he comes and knocks on the door as seen in the photo above I haul my fat butt outside pronto and give him the cat food/tuna/lunchmeat he demands. I also apologize profusely to him for my cat being a racist and not accepting the fact that black is not the only acceptable color for kittehs.)...more
I’m going to be perfectly honest here and say All American Boys is not the most well-written book you’ll ever find. However, it might be one of the most important and I encourage any parent of a middle-grader to force them to encourage them to read it.
I generally try to keep my non-book opinions off of Goodreads, but . . . .
I’m telling you right now, if you are a Trump supporter person who already knows you aren’t going to agree with this review . . . .
Rashad is absent . . . . again today after being mistaken for a shoplifter and suffering from broken ribs, a broken nose and internal bleeding inflicted upon him by his arresting police officer. Quinn didn’t witness what happened inside the corner store, but was outside when Rashad was taken down by a cop who just so happens to be a family friend/mentor. This is their story of how they each deal with the aftermath of this altercation over several days.
I started reading this book on the day an unarmed black man with his arms in the air was filmed by a police chopper being executed in the middle of the street. The explanation by the police department? He was reaching into his car window and they thought it was for a weapon. Reaching into a car window THAT WAS CLOSED. Now they say they think maybe he had PCP inside the vehicle . . . but the tests haven’t come back yet. *eye roll* And, per usual, the country is up-in-arms and making excuses for this murder because the guy should have got on the ground like he was told and nothing would have happened. Right. Just like “nothing happened” to Charles Kinsey. Instead of making excuses for why deadly force was necessary in order to subdue a man surrounded by police WITH HIS GODDAMN ARMS UP, why aren’t people asking why in the fuck WASN’T deadly force used on a suspected terrorist who was actively engaging in a shoot ‘em up with police but somehow was only shot in the shoulder. Seriously people WAKE.UP. And don’t even think to try and say I’m a police hater. My view on this entire issue is very simple . . . .
But no. Instead of talking about cops who are obviously not cut out to be cops and why it’s immediately okay to blame the victim in every one of these instances and how the hell we fix the glaring problem of race relations in this country we instead get up-in-arms and rage out for weeks about a potentially washed-up quarterback deciding to take a knee . . . .
I live in a city that defiles the National Anthem every Sunday by screaming “home of the CHIEFS” rather than “Brave,” but those same dumbshit rednecks are ready to “punch someone in the head” if they don’t stand up for a fucking song. (Word to the wise – don’t pull a Kanye and say this to someone in a wheelchair accidentally.) As this book puts it so well . . . .
Nobody says the words anymore, but somehow the violence still remains.
It also reminds us that . . . .
History can only teach its lesson if it is remembered.
It’s time to ask yourselves . . .
Where was I the year all these black American boys were lying in the streets?
And understand that . . .
IF YOU ARE NEUTRAL IN SITUATIONS OF INJUSTICE, YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE SIDE OF THE OPPRESSOR.
There’s an old saying if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. It’s time to stand up . . . . or sit down . . . . or take a knee. Whatever you see fit . . . .
“This is a roll call! SEAN BELL! Then she followed with “Absent again today! OSCAR GRANT! Absent again today! REKIA BOYD! Absent again today! RAMARLEY GRAHAM!” She paused, and at that point the rest of us knew exactly what to do. “Absent again today!” “AIYANA JONES!” “Absent again today!” “FREDDIE GRAY!” “Absent again today!” “MICHAEL BROWN!” “Absent again today!” “TAMIR RICE!” “Absent again today!” “ERIC GARNER!” “Absent again today!” “TARIKA WILSON!” “Absent again today!” And Spoony kept feeding Berry the papers, one after another, as she continued to read down the list of unarmed black people killed by the police.
Endless thanks to Eilonwy for putting such an important story on my radar....more
Per usual when I read a good hardcover, (1) I failed to watch my children play in their baseball games and instead kept my tunnel vision pointed directly at the book and (2) the flagging of the pages happened which made all of the parents around me give me the “that b*&^% be cray” look . . . .
Buuuuuuuuuuuut as also per usual, I’m not really going to quote anything that I post-it noted. After reading Evicted I was left with one reaction . . .
If you really want to provide yourself a justifiable excuse to hate the human race, this is the book for you. Evicted follows the lives of several people living in poverty and trying (or not, as the case may be) to get ahead. From Sharrena – the slumlord, to her tenants Lamar – a man who lost his legs when they froze while he was high, and Arleen – a woman who already lost children to the system, but is trying to hold on to her two youngest, to Tobin – the owner of a trailer park and Lenny – the “property manager” of sorts, to Scott – a former nurse who got addicted to drugs and couldn’t stop the downward spiral, to Larraine – the resident looney tune of the park.
Matthew Desmond immersed himself into the lives of these people – living with them rather than just conducting a few interviews and going back to his comfortable lifestyle. The story he presents is one that reads like a novel rather than non-fiction. Filled with dialogue and experiences rather than statistics it was a truly un-put-down-able read and it allowed me the opportunity to confirm what I’ve known for quite some time now . . .
Every single person in this story was despicable in at least one way, shape or form and made it impossible to ever really feel sorry for them. You want to side with the landlord who is getting screwed over by tenants who don’t pay the rent, but manage to buy dope, smokes and booze – but at the same time you want to kick her ass for charging people to live in uninhabitable conditions (literally, a house she was charging $600+ for was CONDEMNED). You also want to feel for the mother who has $20 left to her name after paying rent – until she opens her mouth and proves she believes she is owed something for doing nothing and takes advantage over and over again of ANY generosity shown to her. You feel for Larraine, because obviously she is in need of some mental health services – until she becomes one of the oldest clichés in the history of the food stamp recipient who spends her entire month’s sum on one lobster and king crab dinner. I could go on and on . . .
The lesson to be learned here is glaringly obvious. The system is broken. It’s been broken since the Five Points were built in the 1800s and it’s not getting any better. Evicted didn’t spend time getting preachy or even offering up more than a couple of suggestions on how to potentially relieve some of the pressure on the impoverished. It just laid everything out there in black and white and that is maybe the most compelling argument of all.
Review copy received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review....more
Before we kick things off, here’s a nickel’s worth of free advice: Don’t read this when it’s 40-some degrees and the wind is blowing out of the North at a steady 15-20 MPH while you’re stuck outside at your kids’ ballgames all day. The title ain’t lying – it takes place in winter and the author does a good job of reminding you just how wintery things are . . .
The story begins with 16 year old Ree evaluating her surroundings. Winter is fast approaching, the wood pile isn’t big enough, the cupboards aren’t full enough, the clothes aren’t warm enough. But believe it or not, Ree has bigger things on her mind – mainly that her daddy has been MIA for a while. Now, ol’ Jessup Dolly was never going to win a father-of-the-year award (most crank cookers don’t), but at least he’d drop by some food or money when he wasn’t with the family. Now it turns out Jessup has jumped bail and Ree’s family will lose what very little they have unless Ree can track him down . . . dead or alive.
That’s your story folks. A little girl forced to grow up ahead of her time due to her deadbeat father and batshit mother, drop out of school to take care of her family, battle the elements (of both the weather and criminal varieties), and do it all because she maintains a dream that she’ll make it to her 18th birthday, join the Army and escape once and for all.
In case you need it spelled out for you, this book is freaking BLEAK . . . .
And even a nutcase like me couldn’t help escape having a feeling or two. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I knew that this was a movie, but I didn’t know that it was THE movie that started J-Law on her path to most sought after leading lady in Hollyweird until after I was finished and IMDB’d it. If I ever stumble across the film on one of the movie channels, I’ll probably watch it, but for now Daniel Woodrell’s writing painted such a clear picture that I already feel like I watched it.
Recommended to anyone who likes to make themselves depressed on purpose like I do. What can I say? I’m not normal . . .
This review is kind of half-assed (even compared to usual). Work is nuts and right now it’s more important for me to stuff my face with Jimmy John’s than write this thing up on my lunch hour. Go read Trudi’s review instead. She uses words and stuff. ...more
“If you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.”
A week or so ago I claimed that it would be hard to top Dark Matter as my best read of 2016. Turns out I lied. It wasn’t that hard at all. Once again Shelby (or more specifically, her NetGalley addiction) gets the credit for putting this one on my radar. She’s a horrible old bitty like me and rarely gives out the 5 Stars so when she raved about The Serpent King (well, in all honesty it was when she posted a non giff-i-fied review) I knew I should take her seriously. I think she has emotions a little more often than I do, though, so I was positive my robot heart could make it through The Serpent King unscathed. After all . . . .
But then I met Dill, a boy whose daddy was famous for being a snake-handling/strychnine drinking preacher, but has most recently become famous for activities most of us only see on Dateline. It was impossible not to immediately want to tuck Dill into a special corner of my heart . . .
“No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace. What if you know Jesus but have no peace?”
Dill introduced me to Lydia – a girl who marched to the beat of her own drum and somehow managed to be best friends with Dill although she didn’t quite share his love for the Lord . . .
“Do you think that’s what Jesus really meant? Maybe he was like, ‘and theoretically, you could probably pick up snakes,’ and Mark’s over there writing and he’s like, ‘You should literally pick up snakes. Cool, Jesus, got it!’ And Jesus is going, ‘Well, calm down with the snake business. Don’t be weird; just be a decent person. It’s really more of a metaphor.’ And Mark is writing, ‘Definitely pick up actual literal snakes and drink actual real poison like rotten grape juice or other Bible-y poison.’”
(It probably goes without saying that Lydia was my people.)
Then the two kids introduced me to the final member of their trifecta – a boy named Travis who found what he believed in through a different sort of good book . . .
I can’t remember the last time a book affected me this much or when I read a YA story with multiple narrators who had such distinct voices and personalities. I have placed The Serpent King on the “like-this-or-we-can’t-be-friends” shelf. Normally that title is just for grins, but there’s a good chance if you hate this one I will experience a severe case of the butthurt and not be able to speak to you anymore. (Have no fears, Ron 2.0, you get a pass for not liking anything that I do and all that jazz.) Everyone read this. It feeds my dark side to watch you all cry the ugly tears of a Kardashian, especially if I know you will be like me and look “like your heart stepped on a Lego” once you are finished. As for me, I’ll be uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh busy for awhile . . .
ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley! ...more
“Christmas is the season for miracles, you know. Sometimes they come big and loud, I guess – but I’ve never seen one of those. I think probably most miracles are a lot smaller, and sort of still, and so quiet, you could miss them. I didn’t miss this one.”
WTF have you done to me, Anna? Good grief. I had feelings two days in a row. My robot heart is obviously in need of a tune-up.
Orbiting Jupiter begins with Jack’s family making a very important decision – that of bringing a troubled foster child into their home. You then are introduced to Joseph – and your guts get ripped from your body instantaneously . . .
“Since he left Stone Mountain, he won’t wear anything orange. He won’t let anyone stand behind him. He won’t let anyone touch him. He won’t go into rooms that are too small. And he won’t eat canned peaches.”
Eventually you learn all of Joseph’s story, including not only how he ended up in juvie, but also how at 14 he became a father to a baby girl named Jupiter . . .
You read about the bond of friendship and the true meaning of having someone’s back . . .
“You want to tell me what a sixth grader was doing in the eighth-grade side of the locker room, in an eighth-grade fight?”
Oh Jack . . .
And you discover that you should always trust a cow’s opinion of strangers . . .
If you’re an adult, you probably will end up finding the ending more than a bit contrived . . . but this story wasn’t really written for grown-ups to begin with and it still won’t stop the onslaught of feelings you’ve had up to that point. If icewater runs in your veins like it does mine, you may not cry, but you might find you still need a bit of “moral support” to get through the rest of the evening . . . .
I fell in love with Gary Schmidt when I read Okay For Now (I read that before I wrote imaged up book reviews so Anna’s getting a double-whammy of linkage). I’m going to put it on record that I think he writes the most important middle-grade books that I’ve ever read and rather than “required” reading consisting of bullshit like Marie Antoinette: Serial Killer my kids (*cough* all kids *cough*) should be reading Schmidt’s books instead. He makes you think – he makes you feel – and he makes you see the not-so-pretty side of growing up . . . but he manages to do it in a child-friendly way....more
This book has a 4.59 rating (by people who have actually read the book rather than fangirls just “soooooooo excited for release date and ermagherd squee squee squee”). Know what that means????
Ha! I kill me. In all seriousness, 3 Stars is a good rating for me and I definitely wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from reading this book.
So, about the book - Blue Hill Blood is the story of Henry, a man who experienced some serious fuckupedry as a child. In an effort to keep things spoiler free, I’ll just leave it with we’re talking . . . .
Despite the odds being forever not in young Henry’s favor, he managed to become a successful author as an adult, writing a series with a loveable little MC . . . .
Unfortunately, Henry often suffers from writer’s block and finds the only cure is escaping to a tiny little hamlet which will provide inspiration for the characters in his books. That is how he comes to Blue Hill. While there, Henry meets someone who seems very familiar . . .
and life begins to imitate art . . .
Sounds good, right? It was. This was a case of me being the problem. Here’s the deal: #1 - I knew what was happening. Now, there was a little sumthin’ sumthin’ near the end that I didn’t see coming, but for the most part I was right on track with where things were going. THE FOLLOWING IS AN ACTUAL SPOILER SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK: (view spoiler)[Stephen King kinda sorta already did this (better) in The Dark Half(hide spoiler)], #2 – I never could make myself be “Team Henry.” Buuuuuuut, I didn’t actively dislike him either, and that is never a good thing for me, and #3 that cover - it looks like a really baaaaaad porno that I would have zero interest in reading (I know that's a shallow comment, but I am what I am and that's all that I am).
This was still quite the page-turner, though, and although I’m not positive of the exact page count, it was short so there was little to no lag time. If you like stuff that is dark and grimy, Blue Hill Blood should most definitely be added to your TBR. And to Elizabeth Gray, why don’t you get to writing Candace’s story? Thanks in advance.
Okay, now for a glimpse into the workings of Kelly and Mitchell’s bizarro brains. I think I’ve been spending too much time with Ron 2.0 because I keep getting songs stuck in my head whilst reading. Neverending loop for Blue Hill Blood?????
“Nobody is really telling how old they are anymore. All we are knowing is that, before the war we are children and now we are not.”
First, I have to admit finishing this book on Veteran’s Day is some seriously f*&^%d up timing. Second, this is a story that is written in a type of “Pidgin English” – you’re either going to go with the flow of it or you’re going to hate it. Third, I thought this was a memoir. I had no idea it was written by a dude who grew up in America and went to Harvard. Sometimes it pays to know nearly nada before starting a book.
I came across Beasts of No Nation due to my non-book-reading-husband’s recommendation. He’s a movie buff/Netflix addict and had watched the film version a week or so ago. He also never tells me what I should read because he knows my TBR already extends to infinity and beyond. When he said this was a must read I knew I had to get it ASAP.
This is the story of Agu, the son of a teacher growing up in a West African village . . .
When word of war begins to spread, the villagers pack up their wives and daughters and send them to a refugee camp. It isn’t long before the rumors of war become a terrifying reality and the adult men, including Agu’s father, are forced to “dance” by the TAKA TAKA TAKA of the machine guns – leaving only the young boys behind . . .
The remainder of the story is about Agu’s life as a child soldier . . . .
and it’s a real heartbreaker . . .
“I am not saying many thing because I am knowing too many terrible thing to be saying to you. I am seeing more terrible thing than ten thousand men and I am doing more terrible thing than twenty thousand men. So, if I am saying these thing, then it will be making me to sadding too much . . . I am wanting to be happy in this life because of everything I am seeing. I am just wanting to be happy.”
Luckily it’s short. It took me three days to read it as is because I had to keep putting it away. I didn’t cry (since I have no soul), but it did mess with my head more than a little bit. It’s that powerful. It’s also a book that I think should be a required read in high school. Especially high schools of privileged children who will never have to worry about what is for dinner, where they will sleep, or wonder who will come crawling into their bed at night.
Now before I downward spiral myself into head-in-the-oven mode, let’s end on a good note . . .
Dear People Who Are Choosing The Next James Bond: If you don’t pick Idris Elba y’all can just . . .
“Picture something so terrible that for the rest of your life you don't know how to deal with it."
He ain’t playin’ around, Doc. The Little Brother is the story of brothers Even and Gabe. Separated by divorce, Even chose to live with their father – Gabe stayed with their mother. Even remained . . . fairly even. Gabe? Notsomuch. The main plotline centers around a homemade porno featuring Gabe, a couple of buddies and the girl who was once Even’s first kiss, but . . .
It’s about what happens when you choose to do the right thing – while watching the indefensible attempt to be defended. It’s about what happens to a “slut” who had sex with at least two of the three boys the day before claiming she didn’t want it the next night. It’s about consent and what happens when the person who is supposed to be consenting isn’t in control of her faculties enough to do so. It’s violent and graphic and nauseating and brutal and REAL.
It seems like stories of rape have recently replaced “orange as the new black” – but right when I want to say enough is enough I read something like The Little Brother. Books like this need to continue to be written. It wasn’t cliché. It didn’t sugarcoat something horrifying in an attempt to make it “beautiful” or romantic and sell copies. In fact, there are a whopping 100 ratings on Goodreads for this book so it’s probably not flying off the shelves. But it should be. ...more
First, can I just say that I LOVE being the first of my friends to review a book – especially when they earn all 5 Stars from my stingy self. To all of you who were denied the ARC, I’m so sorry. You must have done simply horrible things in your past life. Lucky for me I’m an angel, so I got approved. Good news is, the publication date has already come and gone so you don’t have to wait any longer in order to score a copy.
Alright, enough with my gloating – let’s get on with the show . . .
^^^See what just happened there???? That’s what I felt like while reading this book. I got myself all geared up for a good slasher story and then WHAM! Totally blindsided.
Now, that’s not to say this wasn’t a stabby selection. On the contrary, it was indeed. It even featured a little something extra . . .
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Brother begins in the heart of Appalachia where we meet the Morrow family – a hermitlike clan who live way back in the sticks. It’s in a farmhouse where we are introduced to Momma and Wade and their children Reb, Michael and Misty Dawn. The time is late ‘79/early ‘80, but due to their rural life in Dahlia, West Virginia the record player still spins a variety of Beach Boys, Neil Diamond (yes!), and ABBA and the only company they ever get are the girls Reb and Michael bring home to Momma . . .
“Them’s the perks of livin’ out in the wilderness, Momma had once said. You scream and scream and ain’t nobody around to hear.”
So I was expecting (and received) blood and gore. What I did not plan for was for such a deep story. The getting there was all the fun (???? – if you’re nuts like Mitchell). As for my reaction? I don’t do so well with feelings. They tend to make me all . . . .
This book made me have a lot of them. It also proved once again that . . .
“Sometimes things only make sense in retrospect.”
What a tangled web was woven. Oh and I’m totally getting ready to go there, so all of you haters who think a woman can’t write some seriously f*&^ed up stuff? Keep on keepin’ on. Ania Ahlborn, you ain’t right girl! (And that makes me love you.) THIS is the next motherf*&^ing Gone Girl.
Recommended to? Anyone who finds a two-for-one Groupon for therapy and will share it with me. ...more
Ignore the three-point-eight-something Goodreads rating. Did You Ever Have A Family has an unheard of 4.36 from my friends and those people have some serious diversity when it comes to what they like and don’t like. It’s that rating that had me finally check this book out – but it’s also that rating that had me terrified to do so.
If you’re like me and Christmas is a major fake-it-‘til-you-make-it type of holiday, a book like this is the perfect choice. Rather than attempting to justify my melancholy I could blame it on a book and have an excuse to mope around the house Big Ang style . . . .
What a book this was. Nominated for both the Man Booker Prize and National Book Award Did You Ever Have A Family was most definitely literary fiction. On the surface this was the story of loss when tragedy strikes a family the night before there is to be a wedding. That alone was enough to have me test my head in the oven skills . . . .
But that storyline was only the beginning. This book wasn’t about the whodunit (you will probably know immediately) – it was about peeling layer after layer of this onion until everything you’d ever want to know (or not want to know) about the affected parties was revealed and it left me sad and happy and angry and forgiving and barking things at my husband like . . . .
Told by various narrators over various points in time, Did You Ever Have A Family was woven together nearly seamlessly. There were a few moments when I had to regroup and figure out if I was reading a Lydia or June chapter, but I blame it on trying to fit my head in the gasbox next to the turkey rather than a problem with the writing itself.