Friday, September 20, 2019

Fleishman Is In Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner


41880602. sy475
1 Star

What makes a book literary fiction? Dense writing? Bogged down in unnecessary details? Filled with unlikeable people? Repetitive? Too many pages for the subject matter being tackled? Pretention? An author who has a day job at the New Yorker? Beat-you-over-the-head-super-preachy-but-trying-to-be-cleverly-hidden social commentary? A narrator who feels like an afterthought the majority of the time and who jumps the train off the track by choosing to begin telling her story at some point rather than the one she is supposed to be telling? If so, this checks all the boxes. It also had me like . . . . .



No point in attempting a review. I’m quite sure I was too stupid to “get” this book so I’ll save the trolls some typing. I didn’t like the people – I didn’t like the writing – I didn’t like the message . . . . or rather the way the message was delivered. I didn’t like one thing about it and that’s my opinion. End of story.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

38317459. sy475
2.5 Stars

Boy this has high marks from everyone. And here I am . . . . .



Let’s take a trip on the Wayback Machine to this book that I read during the FIRST FREAKING WEEK OF THE YEAR and has become part of the more than 40 unreviewed books I’ve added to the pile since. I picked this up for one reason and one reason alone . . . .



And also that cover. Wow that’s a good cover.

Full disclosure: I had never heard of this author before. Immediately upon starting I noticed that there was a pretty big explanation of how this came about and that it was sort of a “labor of love” and even though publishers didn’t want it Bolton never gave up and I feel really bad that I didn’t like this, but . . . . .



So I’m still posting this.

The story here is told in a dual timeline. In 1969 Florence Lovelady (that is just a terrible name for someone I am supposed to take seriously) is a fresh-faced rookie cop trying to make it in a man’s world. That happened when she cracked the case of three murdered children and sent Larry Grassbrook to prison for the rest of his life. In 1999 Florence has returned to Lancashire to see Grassbrook be buried . . . . but then history repeats itself.

Here’s where things went wrong for me. First . . . .



Seriously. Way too long and slow rolling for a thriller about a child killer. Bored was the last thing I thought I would be when I checked this out from the library.

Second, being beaten over the head by the message that Florence was being treated sooooo unfairly because she was a woman in a man’s world. That definitely was (and sadly still sometimes is) the case, but Florence was taken to task for being a rookie who was overstepping her boundaries/breaking protocol/etc. . . . .



It had very little to do with her lack of wiener.

Third, the witchcraft subplot . . . .



I’m pretty sure this is what the publishers all passed on and was also what the author was committed to writing about. It just didn’t work for me. I notice that most of my friends who enjoyed this are big fans of Bolton to begin with. I probably should have started with one of her other books rather than this one.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout


1736739
4.5 Stars

I own a t-shirt that pretty much expresses the reason why it took me so long to read this book . . . .



There’s really no reason why either. I seriously think the title and cover were both so “meh” to me that I just assumed I wouldn’t like it and I’m generally not a blurb reader so I didn’t even bother with that. That’s stupid too, because I have a pretty good track record when it comes to enjoying Pulitzer Prize winners. And as far as Oprah Book Club books are concerned? Well . . . . .



#noshame #drinkdatoprahkoolaid

Whatever the cause, I had passively avoided this for over a decade and probably would have continued to do so if I hadn’t stumbled upon my friend Debbie’s pogo-sticking review of the original and seeing post upon post about the soon-to-be-released sequel. I decided to go ahead and pick it up since it was handily available at the downtown library. I had no idea that nearly every moment (except for hopefully the smacky ones) spent with Olive would have me saying . . . .



Aside for one second when I thought she might be debra . . . .

“Let me tell you, that idiot ex-cocaine-addict was never a cowboy. He can wear all the cowboy hats he wants. He’s a spoiled brat to the manor born. And he makes me puke.”

I don’t think I’ve ever related to a character as much as I did this one. As the blurb states – at its core this is a book about the human condition. It’s presented in the form known as a composite novel or a short story cycle . . . .



Where vignettes regarding various townsfolk throughout various periods of time all intertwine to paint a larger story. Olive is either a featured or bit player in each of them. Gruff at best or downright cold and brittle at worst, even Olive’s family find her hard and unfeeling, but as the reader gets to know her they discover it’s because she has extreme difficulty expressing her feelings or interacting with others period. Don’t know if she’s for you? Here’s a little taste . . . .

“My God, you do have the passions and the prejudices of a peasant.”

“That’s it. At least I’m not prejudiced against homosexuals.”

“No, just white men with money.”

Damn right, she thought.


And this snippet from my favorite entry of the entire book – “Basket of Trips:”

“I’ve been thinking about killing Kerry.” She raises a hand from her lap and exposes a small paring knife lying on her green flowered dress.

“Oh,” says Olive.

Marlene bends over the sleeping Kerry and touches the woman’s bare neck. “Isn’t this some major vein?” she asks, and puts the knife flat against Kerry’s neck, even poking slightly at the vague throbbing of the pulse there.

“Yuh. Okay. Might want to be a little careful there.” Olive sits forward.

In a moment Marlene sighs, sits back. “Okay, here.” And she hands the paring knife to Olive.

“Do better with a pillow,” Olive tells her. “Cut her throat, there’s going to be a lot of blood.”


I’m giving this 4.5 Stars rather than all 5 simply for the fact that not every entry was as perfectly perfect perfection as the aforementioned.

P.S. This was a book while reading that played like a movie in my head . . . but due to the format I wasn’t sure how well it would translate. Apparently it translated pretty well a few years ago because it won all of the Emmys . . . .



I will say that, despite Frances McDormand being pretty much a god to me, that I pictured someone else as Olive . . . .



I’m going to have to track down the miniseries.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Rivers by Michael Farris Smith

16130400
2 Stars




613 days ago the government made a decision regarding things down South . . . .



Hold up. Not that far South. After years upon years of being obliterated by hurricanes, it was decided it was in the best interest of the nation to establish “the Line” – a geographical boundary 90 miles north of the coastline spanning the Texas-Louisiana border all the way across Mississippi to Alabama. Mandatory evacuation was broadcast, the population was informed rebuilding efforts would cease from that point forth, services would be cut, and anyone who decided to stay were informed they were doing so at their own risk.

That’s the basic jumping off point for Rivers - a book Ron has been pushing on me ever since he read it. Actual footage of my reaction to the question “so how did you like it????” . . . . .



Did we read the same book?

Oh Rivers. How did I dislike you? Let me count the ways . . . .

#1 – Dude is supposed to have survived all on his own all this time, but gets rolled by two children at the 7% mark, which had me like . . . .



#2 – Hints about his dead wife and baby are dropped so frequently at the 27% point my Kindle note said something along these lines . . . .



I have no heart. I know.

#3 – They supposedly live in the new version of the Wild Wild West where no one really even knows if highways still exist to connect them to the rest of America, and yet money remains the driving force . . . . .



Seriously. Any sort of aid/supplies have been cut off for almost TWO YEARS, they all live like marauders and yet money talks and bullshit walks rather than goods and services.

#4 – The premise is that never-ending hurricanes have been completely decimating the South for ages, and yet the stores still contain perfectly clean and usable merchandise. Not to mention anytime something is needed, dude magically comes across it. “Oh noes – I is out of gasoline. Wow! Two full five gallon jugs? Awesome!” . . . . .



#5. They kill the dog . . . .



#6. I’m not exactly what you’d call a social justice warrior, but this dumbfuck who got rolled by 7 year olds (okay, that’s an exaggeration) earlier is the one who is needed for a bunch of women to break free from the snake-handling preacherman’s cultish imprisonment of them?????



Fuck you. Joel Osteen Homeboy was so old he couldn’t even get it up anymore. Those broads would have whipped some ass.

#7 – And last but certainly not least the “big reveal” . . . . .



I mean, it pinged my hinkymeter immediately (per my gripes above) and irritated the crap out of me until the 59% mark where I could confirm my suspicions (those of you who aren’t great at ciphering clues will be waiting until almost 80%).

Oh and Bonus #8 - "Rivers #1"?????? Hell nah. I hate books in a series.

I also had issues with the instalove by dudebro who was supposedly in the deepest pits of mourning that anyone has ever experienced and also with the pacing and how every near annihilation the characters were confronted with ended up being wrapped up real succinctly with a bright red bow over and over and over again, but there aren't any fun .gifs for those.

Nearly all of my friends liked this one. Hopefully the above will help explain why it sucked turtles for me. This is my second near fail with this author. Maybe it's just not meant to be.

Monday, September 16, 2019

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

25813942
3 Stars

This Tender Land is what would happen if Huckleberry Finn, Great Expectations, Elmer Gantry, The Odyssey and a little teeeeeeensie bit of East of Eden all had a baby . . . .



I mean, really. If you truly believe you need more, this is the story of four children who run away from the Lincoln Indian Training School in Depression Era Minnesota. It’s about their search for home, and those they come across, while making their way to the mighty Miss.

This book has a 4.50 rating on Goodreads, so chalk my mediocre reaction up to the usual turtle sucking. Blame it on all of the required reading I had to do back in my school-aged days and how this book is an amalgamation of all of my least favorites. Excluding East of Eden, but truthfully I only threw that title in there because of WARNING ACTUAL SPOILER THAT WILL SPOIL THE ENTIRE DAGGONE BOOK IF YOU CLICK IT (view spoiler).

Word to the wise for other curmudgeons: This story is 100% not realistic, so if you’re a stickler for believability you might want to take a pass. (Y’all know I kind of give a rip about whether or not something is plausible – 99.9999% of my ratings come from page turnability alone.) If you enjoy your coming of age with a lot of luck in the form of narrow escapes, coming across the right people at the right time and landing monetary windfalls when they are needed most, this might be a winner for you.

I’ve noticed high marks from many of my friends regarding one of this author’s other books (Ordinary Grace). Maybe that one will be more my style.

Friday, September 13, 2019

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher


43262893. sy475
4 Stars

Quick background before things get started. I have read nearly everything (didn’t move past the first Never Never (if you know me you know I don’t generally do series/serials so that’s not a huge shocker) and the blurb for Folsom didn’t really appeal to me so I haven’t picked that one up yet). Buuuuut Tarryn Fisher is an author who makes me break my own rules and I have read past #1 in a series when it was her writing it and her stuff is all purple (or at least lavender) which frequently makes me get an eye twitch and yet somehow she gets a pass and on and on and on. Buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut (longer but that time) don’t mistake me for some rabid fangirl. My ratings regarding her stories run the gamut. However, I am always first in line to buy them and yes I said BUY meaning I let the moths out of the handbag whenever there’s a new release because somehow the library hasn’t realized I need instant gratification despite all of my fit throwing and I know even if I don’t luuuuuuuuurv whatever the new release is, it will still be different from what nearly any other author I happen to be reading at the time has written.

All of the above was mentioned because this was the first advanced copy I have ever received of one of Fisher’s books and my reaction was pretty much like a bunch of schoolteachers getting a free car on the Oprah show . . . .



Okay, probably more like this . . . .



Not only because I’m an instant one-clicker when it comes to her stuff, but also because this story? Oh, it’s only one of my most favorite guilty pleasure obsessions E.V.E.R. . . . .



The difference this time???? Rather than sharing all their big love . . . .


(See what I did there?)

“He comes over on Thursday of every week. That’s my day. I’m Thursday.”

Yes please.

You see, there are a Monday and a Tuesday as well. They just don’t know each other. But when information is literally dropped into “Thursday’s” lap via a scrap of paper regarding a woman named Hannah, she can’t help but do a little investigating. And when Hannah exhibits the signs of an abused spouse, Thursday feels like she needs to dig a little further into all of her husband’s marriages – including her own.

Confession: I literally redecorated my deck in order to read this. I’d say it was just a coincidence, but I for real had this book for a week or two waiting on a break in the weather so I could take my coffee outside and just let Tarryn Fisher’s crazy take me wherever it wanted to go. And lemme tell you – I can’t (a/k/a won’t) spoil things, but right about the halfway part I was like . . . .



If you pick this up and think it’s a bit of a slow roller, I advise you to hang in there. I was sucked in right from the start, but the second half is where this baby delivers. 4 Stars worth of crazy yumminess!

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

How To Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper

40935745. sy475
4 Stars

Did you know a person can be murdered by ragweed? Okay, maybe that’s an overstatement, but the ragweed count where I live is tryna kill me, bruh. When I’m feeling uggy, there’s only one thing to do . . . .



That’s where my go-to-gal Molly Harper comes in. Both her Southern Eclectic and Naked Werewolf series have served as brain candy in the past and since Halloween is just around the corner I thought some more shifty good times were in order.

The story here is about our leading lady Jillian’s new job down in the swamp. She works for an organization called “The League” (extraordinary gentlemen excluded this go around) and has been sent to Cajun country because . . . .

Your town represents one of the few settlements where supernatural creatures from nearly all cultures live and work together in relative peace, and have for generations.

Jillian’s assignment is to figure out just how these beings have been so successful with their integration before all of us normies discover that everything we ever read about in fairy tales is real and to prevent a “War of the Worlds phenomenon all over again” – because, in case you aren’t aware . . . .



The only person in town who isn’t so keen on letting her in on all the community secrets is Bael, the local sheriff. You know what that means, right? They gonna bang . . . . .


Hey Girl. Yes. Cool people are.

Of course the sheriff in question looks something like this . . . . . .



So major sploosh. And also, per the title . . . . .



Things are gonna get HOT! *ba dum ching* I’ll be here all week, folks.

Oh, and random supes are popping up dead because DUH, it's pretty much obligatory for books like these to have a bit of a mystery for these meddling kids to solve.

This book made me like . . . . .



Jillian wasn't a pushover/damsel in distress - Bael was sex on a stick without all of the alpha male B.S. that doesn't always work for me. There was humor and there was whodunit. What more could a gal ask for in her smut?

I’m definitely reading the next one. I mean who doesn’t want to have sex with a grizzly shifter????