reading

The Wicked Boy

Posted on Updated on

So… I actually read The Wicked Boy, written by Kate Summerscale, last year, meant to review it, and completely spaced.

wicked boy
#whoops

The Wicked Boy was released in July 2016, and is a nonfiction account of an actual matricide perpetuated in Victorian London. 13-year-old Robert Coombes stabbed his mother while his father was out at sea. Summerscale carefully researched this account, and writes the details in a competent and fairly interesting manner. Did Robert have conspirators? If so, how involved were they? Why would Robert have committed the crime that he did? What happened after the murder was discovered? All aspects considered within this book.

However.

When I picked this book up, I was expecting a fictional narrative. And this work, while interesting, does not provide me with the closure that a novel could have given. In a fiction work you can come up with a specific reason – Robert was protecting his brother, for instance – for the crime. In a non-fiction, research book, no definitives can be given. While this lack of closure is because the crime actually occurred, and people are messy, as are their motivations for doing things. Going into the book with that expectation, however, resulted in my feeling sorely disappointed when it was not furnished. As such, my main criticism of the novel is not a criticism against the author; it is, instead, a warning for readers. If you’re not generally a non-fiction fan, there’s a good chance you won’t like this book.

goodboy-bear-2400px
Expectations can make or break an experience

My other quibble with this book, is that I felt that last several chapters were unnecessary. Because Summerscale cannot provide resolution regarding the murder, she attempts to provide it by exploring the life that Robert Coombes lived afterwards, which *spoiler alert!*seems to indicate that he was able to come to terms with whatever motivations led to the matricide, and become a productive citizen. While I feel that I understand what she was trying to accomplish – maybe people can change! If provided with the appropriate tools and opportunities – it didn’t quite work for me. Perhaps if the last few chapters had been condensed, it would have worked for me. But the way it’s currently written, the ending drags on, and I certainly don’t care as much about the resolution as the author herself.

57868511

Overall, this book was… okay. I think that true crime buffs, and non-fiction readers interested in information about England in the Victorian era will find it interesting. Intrigued and wishing it were a novel? Give it a pass. Researching middle-class crime in the Victorian era? Give it a read.

zodiac-woodcut-scales-2400px
Will you like it? Like so much in life, it depends.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? I would love to read them!

Advertisements

Hello 2017 + Reading Goal

Posted on Updated on

I have signed up to take the 2017 Goodreads reading challenge – my goal? 60 books during the year.

goodreads-2017-goal

It’s not significantly more books than I read last year, but I am hoping to focus a bit more on my writing this year. Plus, it’s more than 1 book per week, so I feel that the goal is achievable without being lazy.

goal-post-2400px
Goals: let’s get a touchdown

Are you on Goodreads? How many books are you aiming to read this year? Or what are some of your other resolutions for 2017? I would love to read your goals in the comments!

2016: My Reading List

Posted on Updated on

You know how you get that notification and e-mail from Goodreads, telling you to look back at what you’ve read for the year? When I clicked this link, I was told I read 7 books in 2016. This undoubtedly proves that I am using the site incorrectly, and is also patently untrue. So I’ve decided to create my own list of books that I read in 2016, because I don’t fucking need Goodreads to do it for me.

we-can-do-it-rosie-the-riveter-poster-2400px

1. A World Without Princes

18172465-1

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: While not as charming as its’ predecessor, Chainani continues to amuse with his unique twisting of fairy tale tropes.

2. How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life

271716-1

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This slightly ridiculous plot follows protagonist Abby Randolphe turn her life around through a mix of luck, epiphany, and effort.

Blog post

3. Howl’s Moving Castle

6294-1

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A well-known and well-loved story, this fairy-tale retelling is filled with magic and well worth reading.

4. The Glimpses of the Moon

856222

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Follow newlyweds Nick and Susy as they struggle with that age-old question: Is love really all you need? because being poor is awful.

Blog post

5. Love in the Time of Global Warming

16059426

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A re-telling of the Odyssey, this book has interesting ideas and sounds promising, but is missing Block’s poetry.

6. Inherent Vice

5933841

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A mystery novel with an unorthodox detective that takes place in the ’60s, this book is fantastic.

Blog post

7. Immaculate

22608786

Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This book is poorly written religious propaganda. It was so bad, I considered writing a parody of it about Leda, but… didn’t have the time.

8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

6218281

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Flavia de Luce is the shit, and if you have not read this novel yet, you should do so now.

9. The Island of Excess Love

18490721

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This re-telling of the Aeneid is not very good; I do not recommend reading it.

10. The Evolution of Mara Dyer

13643567

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This sequel is not as good as the first in the series; however, it is a decent book.

11. The Retribution of Mara Dyer

15768409

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The conclusion to the Mara Dyer trilogy, I was personally not satisfied with this ending, which felt a bit like a cheat.

12. Holding Court

23589243

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This mystery novel is as fun to attend as a renaissance faire; join the psychic teenage protagonist as she agonizes over whether or not a cute guy wants to date her, and solves a murder.

Blog post

13. Landline

18081809

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Georgie, cool, funny television writer, is married to Neal, nerdy, funny artist, but that marriage might be in trouble; when she discovers that the landline telephone at her parents’ house allows her to speak with her husband in the past (and pre-marriage), the subsequent conversations allow her to gain a deeper understanding of her relationship and her priorities.

Blog post

14. Britt-Marie was Here

britt-marie

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Britt-Marie is compulsively clean, and rejoining the workforce after a few decades.. this novel is wonderful, and you should read it.

Blog post

15. Alias Grace

51827

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Grace Marks was imprisoned at a young age, accused of being an accomplice in the grim murder of her employer and his mistress; whether or not she is guilty in this fictionalized (but well-researched) account provides for a fascinating feminist read.

Blog post

16. I Almost Forgot About You

almost forgot about you

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Dr. Georgia Young is not quite as young, anymore; yet the middle-aged woman is determined to turn her life into one with which she is happy in this inspiring and heartwarming read from Terry McMillan.

Blog post

17. June

june

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: When famous film stars come to a small town in Ohio to shoot a big-budget film, shit gets crazy…

Blog post

18. Forever

37743

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Teenage love is real and raw in this classic YA novel by Judy Blume; it’s a bit dated, but the feelings and the sex are timeless teenage relationship fodder.

19. Good Bones and Simple Murders

47126

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A collection of short stories, prominently featuring feminist and creative subject matters, some of which are great, some of which were not quite my bag.

20. The Accidental Alchemist

accidental alchemist

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Mediocre mystery that spends more time discussing vegan cooking than the plot.

Blog post

21. Tell the Wind and Fire

wind & fire

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A YA re-telling of A Tale of Two Cities that was an amazing read.

Blog post

22. Rich and Pretty

rich & pretty

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: One girl is really pretty, one girl is really rich, they’re best friends, and the writing is fairly good, although the story meanders – a lot.

Blog post

23. The Monsters of Templeton

1474628

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Willie Upton returns home, lost and pregnant. While struggling to figure out what to do about her life, she invests her energy into discovering the truth about her family’s history, in the process unearthing some unsavory secrets and a town curse.

Blog post

24. Fates and Furies

24612118

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Marriage is a crazy thing, and perspective affects the manner in which the relationship is perceived; this novel is amazing.

Blog post

25. Under the Greenwood Tree

18907175

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: One of Thomas Hardy’s pastoral romances; this work is a great analysis of a small English town.

26. Educating his Bride

29766155

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: When a young college student gets married to one of her professors, she embarks into the real world — learning what it is to be an adult, to be in a relationship, and to be okay with sex.

Blog post

27. I’m Just a Person

26890698

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Not the best idea for a mother’s day read, but Tig is an interesting individual who shows strength and resilience in the face of a year when everything seemed to go wrong; this read is inspiring and highly recommended.

Blog post

28. My Best Friend’s Exorcism

26118005

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This book is like a montage of ’80s horror movies, with a heart, and BFF’s forever; highly recommend!

Blog post

29. Crisanta Knight: Protagonist Bound

cristane knight

Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Crisanta Knight is the daughter of Cinderella, and she’s really annoying; this book is for those readers who really want to read a fairy-tale inspired series and don’t really care about the quality of the writing.

Blog post

30. Furiously Happy

furiously happy

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This short story anthology contains stories that are both touching and hilarious, and deal with mental illness.

Blog post

31. We Love You, Charlie Freeman

Greenidge_WeLoveYouCharlieFreeman_HC_jkt_FINAL_PRNT.indd

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The Freeman family is taking part in a study to teach sign language to a chimpanzee; this novel deals with many difficult experiences in a way that is probing, and really makes you care about the characters.

Blog post

32. Killing Monica

22675867

Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: A group of women in Manhattan meet, giggle, gossip, but from the amount of vapidity and lack of soul displayed, this novel would have fared better had it veered into a horror novel (which, with a title like “Killing Monica” you might be expecting, but such expectations will leave you sorely disappointed).

33. The Postman Always Rings Twice

25807

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Pulp noir fiction that is entertaining, with realistic characters and which I highly recommend.

34. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

13477676

Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Leonard is an abused, down-on-his luck teen who has trouble interacting with people, and has decided to commit suicide; this book was supposed to make you feel for Leonard in the way that you feel for Willy Loman, but it doesn’t work.

35. Kisses from Hell

7343947

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This collection of YA short stories all feature a supernatural element, and vary widely in the degree of quality displayed by the authors.

36. Saint Anything

st. anything

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Sydney has a brother who is so much larger-than-life, she tends to get lost in the shadow of his spotlight; when he is arrested for a drunk driving incident in which he accidentally maims a teenage boy, Sydney’s parents continue to ignore her while putting more restrictions on her life that cause more problems than solutions.

Blog post

37. The Light of Paris

light of paris

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: To live a loveless life, or take a chance on being a destitute artist; that is the question in this fairly enjoyable read.

Blog post

38. Audrey, Wait!

1627267

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: When Audrey breaks up with her musician boyfriend, he writes a song about it — that becomes a hit; very enjoyable YA fluff.

39. Teen Spirit

18054018

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Desperate with grief, Julie enlists the help of her friend to attempt to contact her deceased grandmother via ouija board; this action unleashes her friend’s dark secret, and sends them on a supernaturally tinged adventure.

40. Dora’s Box

Dora's Box

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: When she loses her work-study job at the university, Dora is at her wits’ end, until she realizes the significance of a box she inherited from her grandmother; good read for plot readers, although the characters are kind of annoying.

Blog post

41. Defending Taylor

defending taylor

Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Soccer, politics, and bad writing.

Blog post

42. The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club

sunflower breakfast

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Overly sweet romance about a woman who’s good at her job and just needs “a good man” (which I’m pretty sure is romance-speak for huge dick) to help her understand what she’s been missing in her life; also, there’s, like, family drama and shit.

Blog post

43. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

glass books

Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Those who suffer from insomnia should borrow this book from the library, since reading it is far more likely to induce narcolepsy than counting sheep.

Blog post

44. Lucy and Andy Neanderthal

27776950

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This graphic novel is intended for a younger audience; it was cute, enjoyable, and age appropriate.

Blog post

45. Emily

emily

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: 3 short stories by a famed Japanese author, these stories were interesting, but I’m not sure the translation does them justice.

Blog post

46. L.A. Candy

la andy

Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: As vapid and pointless as a reality TV show, which is sort of what this novel is about; I do not recommend.

Blog post

47. Funny Girl

funny girl

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: It may be a fiction, but this novel still provides an inspiring story of a woman who breaks boundaries and proves that women can be funny as well as beautiful.

Blog post

48. Mrs. Caliban

mrs-caliban

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The lizard-man walks into Mrs. Caliban’s kitchen, and the reader is forced to determine whether or not this sixties housewife is sane or not, in this award-winning novella.

Blog post

49. Wintergirls

wintergirls

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Lia is a wintergirl; she doesn’t want to eat, and when she doesn’t, she doesn’t feel… So. Well. Done.

Blog post

50. The Glass-Blowers

glass-blowers

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The Duval family, skilled in the art of glass-blowing, live through the reign of Louis XVI, the tumult of the revolution… well, many of them… in this interesting historical fiction novel.

Blog post

51. Shattered Glass Shards

stained-glass-shards

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This novel reads like a fan fiction – a writer who novelizes a thinly veiled version of her last relationship becomes a bestselling author, which includes a movie deal… with her ex slated to play the part of the manipulative male lead.

Blog post

52. Off the Page

off-the-page

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: The idea is interesting; the story is a bit bland.

Blog post

53. The Wicked Boy

wicked boy

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: Summerscale researched and wrote about a fascinating case wherein a young boy murdered his mother.

Blog post to come!

54. Odd Girl Out

odd-girl-out

Goodreads rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This novel is wonderful; explore the meaning of love with Elizabeth Jane Howard’s exquisite writing.

Blog post

55. Kiss Me Kill Me

2005138

Goodreads rating: 2 out of 5 stars

One-line review: I could barely even finish this book, which is legitimately a story about a girl who thinks she killed the boy she had a crush on because she kissed him… Yeah…

56. Smoke and Mirrors

16790

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This short story anthology by Neil Gaiman varies widely in quality – there are a couple of stories that are very, very good, and many mediocre ones, as well as poem-stories that, frankly, did not appeal to me very much.

57. Someone Else’s Summer

someone-elses-summer

Goodreads rating: 3 out of 5 stars

One-line review: An annoying little cheerleader with no imagination decides to perform her recently deceased sister’s “summer to-do list” in order to, like, find herself or something.

Blog post

58. Beautiful Ruins

11447921

Goodreads rating: 4 out of 5 stars

One-line review: This book likely does not hold any deep truths for you to learn about yourself (although I think Walter tries, that aspect of his story didn’t quite work, for me); however, the story is generally interesting and well-written.

Currently reading, and plan to finish in 2016: 4 3 2 1

4321

This book is so, so, so, so good. Will be on sale in January 2017, and blog post to come.

So, there you are. A little more than a book each week, which, for those who have trouble with math, is slightly more than the 7 that Goodreads says I read.

untitled-design
In all seriousness, I generally like Goodreads, and keep harping on this difference because I find it hilarious.

Have you read any of these books? What was your reading like in 2016? Please share your thoughts, your links, etc., in the comments!

Less Interesting than Pretty Little Liars #bookreview

Posted on Updated on

I recently received and read an ARC of Rachel Bateman’s Someone Else’s Summer from Netgalley:

netgalley

I have mixed feelings about this novel. I actually really liked the plotline, though it was fairly predictable. Someone Else’s Summer follows Anna, the effortlessly beautiful, popular high school cheerleader who realizes upon the death of her sister that she has potentially lost touch with a reality that her dead sister Storm understood intimately. She discovers her sister’s list, meant to be accomplished during the summer after Storm graduates and before beginning college, until the car crash on graduation night that prematurely took her life.

someone-elses-summer

Beauty, death, road trip… it’s like an episode of a TV show on ABC family.

3694baa2c657a93ad90f322a79594cf3

Except that unlike the earnest beauties of questionable intelligence becoming embroiled in drama and solving mysteries on a popular cable network, this novel features an earnest beauty who is fucking annoying as hell.

cartoon-cheerleader-2400px
Give me an “A!” Give me an “N!” Give me an “N-O-Y-I-tkN-G!!”

Overall, it was difficult to feel sympathetic for Anna. And it was difficult to see why her love interest, literally obvious from the first page of the novel, was in love with her, other than her beauty.

61105163_americanpie_800x1200
… which brings us to the same question as this movie: is this girl just the equivalent of a dessert to [love . If I were to sum up the interest]?
In addition to featuring an aggravating, unsympathetic protagonist, I was also not particularly a fan of the writing style. There were moments, glimpses in the writing, of the book that I had been hoping this one would be. However, overall, the writing is not quite as polished as it should be. This novel reads as a draft, that should have been further edited.

to-write-is-humanto-edit-is-divine

This YA novel is okay. If I were to sum it up in one word, it would be “meh.” I like the idea of the novel, just not its’ execution. Unfortunately, I do not recommend.

sad_panda-2400px-1
#dontrecommend

Have you read Someone Else’s Summer? Or are you planning to? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

What is Love?

Posted on Updated on

Baby don’t hurt me… Don’t hurt me… No more…

roxbury

As part of the self-imposed 10 Books in 2016 Challenge, I read Elizabeth Jane Howard’s novel Odd Girl Out.

odd-girl-out

So glad I did. This was my first work by Elizabeth Jane Howard, and it was realistic, clever, and enjoyable. Today’s post, I plan to list out some of the pros & cons:

pros

*The pacing of this story actually worked very well, for me. However, some readers prefer to be shown everything, and this is a story that instead sometimes chooses to show, sometimes chooses to tell, which results in more of a leisurely stroll than a fast-paced run.

Ultimately, if you enjoy complex novels filled with realistic and slightly ambiguous characters, and you do not mind novels with a slower pace, and you enjoy stories that make you think, then I highly recommend Odd Girl Out.

4.5 out of 5 bell bottoms

untitled-design

Question the Meaning of Life & Realize that Teenagers are Ridiculous

Posted on Updated on

As part of the 10 Books in 2016 Challenge, I read Jodi Picoult and her daughter’s sequel novel Off the Page.

off-the-page

No, of course I had not read the original, although there was enough exposition in the sequel to make me fully aware that a teenage girl becomes obsessed with a children’s fairy tale, falls in love with the prince protagonist, and figures out how to get him out of the book because he loves her back.

alice-facepalm
#kids

Off the Page is about as interesting as can be expected, considering the fact that it is a sequel written by a mother-daughter duo, one of whom is Jodi Picoult.

I know that I am in the minority here, and that a lot of people think that Jodi is amazing, because she writes about issues from multiple viewpoints, and her novels are risqué, but I don’t like her writing and find her work predictable.

nf5rh

This book was no exception. Except that it was batshit crazy because apparently that’s what teenagers are like? Or I’m assuming that’s where the Picoult women were going with this.

Like, going on 2 dates does not mean you are boyfriend and girlfriend. Love at first sight is lust before you get to know each other well enough to be bored. And date real people whom you can stand, girls, because waiting around for the fictional ones who are “perfect” for you only works in novels.

wall-e
Ok, & 1 movie

Overall, an escapist piece of fluff that is too ridiculous for me to recommend. This book earns two melting ice cream cones on the scale of whatever-the-fuck-I-feel-like.

untitled-design

Shattered Fan Fiction

Posted on Updated on

I received an ARC of Rosemary Rey’s novel Stained Glass Shards via Netgalley.

netgalley

This novel is a romance/erotica that switches viewpoints between former long-time lovers Griffin and Elyce, who had a 50-Shades-of-Fucked-Up-Even-Though-That-Isn’t-A-Saying relationship until Elyce abruptly grew a backbone and ended it.

img_2338

Griffin is a movie star. Insanely good-looking, great actor, went to school in Boston with Elyce, which is where they met and became friends-with-benefits.

Elyce is the gal who secretly wanted Griffin to fall in love with her and marry her, but didn’t think it was within the realm of possibility until she realized, well, fuck, if he’s not into it I should dump his ass and find someone who is. So she breaks up with him, and writes a thinly-veiled fictionalization of their relationship which becomes a bestseller. That is optioned for movie rights, and furthermore, is actively picked up to be made into a movie. I think you see where this is going…

Surprised-Puppy-2400px.png
#dundunduhn

This novel was not quite my cup of tea. Rey’s writing is a bit too literal to me, reading a bit woodenly. Also, Elyce kind of got on my nerves.

shrug-expressions
I like to root for the protagonist

BUT I also thought Rey did a great job of taking a storyline that was starting to read like a fan fic, and delve into the relationship a bit more. The stained glass metaphor was painfully drawn out, but I get why it’s in the book. Rey is dealing with appearance vs. reality, and her characters actively grow and change. Perspective is a major component of this book, which I loved.

img_2336
#metaphor

I would recommend if you are in the mood for some sexy fluff. I don’t recommend as a romance, but I do recommend if you want to escape a bit.

ryanlerch-sunbather-outline-2400px
#escape

Have you read Stained Glass Shards? What did you think? Who was your favorite character?