Thursday, May 25, 2017

The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy


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4 Stars

“Anything’s possible in Human Nature.”
Good morning Goodreaders! Please be forewarned: If you aren’t familiar with me and are here because this (1) randomly showed up on your feed due to a mutual acquaintance we share or (2) because you are expecting a super smart opinion piece on a modern classic, I have one thing to say to you . . . . .



In case the .gif didn’t clue you in, I’m not going to offer any sort of literary insight in this space. What I am going to do is what I always do, which is - not talk about the book for a bit.

Still here? Probably not. For the three of you who are, you’re probably actual friends of mine and are asking “how the hell did this get on her TBR?” or “she does know this isn’t a porno or a young adult selection, right?” Amazingly, the answer is YES I do know things – even that this won the Booker Prize . . . . . .



But if I’m going to be 100% honest I have to admit I read this for one reason and one reason alone . . . . .



If you know me, you’ll know I’m a real whore when it comes to getting free swag from the library. The artist formerly known as the Adult WINTER Reading Challenge has now become the Adult SUMMER Reading Challenge and I will do whatever it takes in order to win this season’s prize pint glass that I can drink mass quantities of beer from . . . . .



Allow me a moment to apologize to my pal Kristin. You see, Kristin is one of only a few people (I’m talking you can count them on one hand and still have fingers left over) who has been able to break the fourth wall and become my friend on Facebook as well as Goodreads (meaning she’s the one who can confirm I’m really as awful everywhere as I am here and am not Catfishing you) so she’s being inundated with updates regarding my joy. I’m picturing her saying something along these lines once she sees this post . . . . .



I’m truly sorry Kristin. I wish Erica weren’t such a horrible librarian and would take care of your request for free shit.

Anyway, back on “topic” (HA!). As you can see above, the theme this year is to “Push Your Shelf” which kind of blows because I’m more than content here in my bubble. Buuuuuuuuuut (surprising as it may be), I do like the follow the rules of the challenge. The generic terms to win the glass are “read 5 books between X and Y date,” which we all know is easy peezy lemon squeezy for yours truly. The “pushing your shelf” means you’re supposed to read something that takes you out of your comfort zone – which I didn’t think was possible since, you know, I live with Mitchell. Turns out “comfort zone” for this one equated to smarty farty and had me looking a lil’ summin’ like this for quite a while . . . .



As the author says in the Q&A section, The God Of Small Things “begins at the end and ends in the middle.” Readers are aware early on that a child has died, that a twin was sent away to live with his father and returned 23 years later, that his sister has returned to India from America in order to reunite and that a forbidden romance of some sort took place. It takes nearly the remainder of the book to circle back around in order to fill in the details regarding these events. AND IT WAS SERIOUSLY PURPLE IN PROSE. That was nearly a dealbreaker for me. The characters, setting, etc. had me pretty enraptured, but I am just not a superfan of “beautiful” writing. Lucky for me, there were moments like these that a simpleton such as myself could enjoy . . . .

“He might change,” Ammu says.

“How d’you mean? Change into what?” Sophie Mol asked.

“Into a Male Chauvinist Pig,” Rahel said.

“Very unlikely,” Estha said.


^^^^Estha being a young boy at the time and the potential “male chauvinist pig” in question.

While this selection was a bit of a slog for me, the “round about” delivery ended up being pretty brilliant and I am very glad it was one of the recommended reads for this challenge as I would have never read it if that hadn’t happened. I also discovered the author was charged with a criminal offense of “corrupting public morality” and tied up in court proceedings for years which means I probably need to put better locks on the doors so Mitchell can’t track her down. As for the moment in the book that caused the charge??????



Ha! You know I don’t have that reaction to most anything. Actually I thought the scene in question cheapened what otherwise was a real one-of-a-kind type of read.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas


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4 Stars

“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 resident, 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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King

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3.5 Stars




Before I even begin, let me forewarn you that there is no way this is going to amount to any semblance of an informative review (so different than usual, right????). This is my fourth or fifth A.S. King book and at this point I pretty can only say . . . .



My first King experience was Everybody Sees the Ants (which I read back in the day when my reviews pretty much said Earth shattering stuff like “dis was gud”) and everything I’ve read since has been progressively more strange . . . . .



I fear if I start typing too many words I’ll end up typing all of them and spill the entire storyline here. Let me just say that I appreciated that although the propellant of the entire book was . . . .

“Maybe I’m snapping. Maybe I’ve already snapped and I’m coming back to real life. Maybe this is some sort of existential crisis.”

The catalyst behind Sarah seeing (literally, not figuratively) so many versions of herself wasn’t due to the oft used “superbads” like mental illness or rape, but another (triggery) item that impacts many families (as well as an additional item that explained why Sarah’s views on becoming an artist had done such a 180).

If you’re looking for a completely unique voice in young adult literature, A.S. King may be the author for you. 3.5 Stars, but rounded down because it took a pretty open mind (amazing that I sometimes have one of those, huh?) to ride this one out to the point where things started making sense.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cheater's Regret by Rachel Van Dyken


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4 Stars

If you were around yesterday you are aware that I was suffering quite the ol’ book hangover after wrapping up Boy’s Life. When downloading all the free pornies from Amazon during my lunch break failed to get me refocused on my library book options I remembered my bestest bookpusher had given me the head’s up about this one and I had multitasked with the clicking of the GIMMEGIMME button so fast I managed to immediately forget all about having it. Thanks to baseball practice I knew I would have the house to myself and wouldn’t be running the risk of having one of these types of interactions with my children due to my lack of ability to get back in the real world. . . . .



So as soon as I got home from work I put on my Thanksgiving Pants and settled in for a cheating good time. Even though the first book in this series didn’t work out so great for me . . . . .



It could be blamed on the bizarro convoluted his/her backstory so my hopes remained high for #2 and also because Rachel Van Dyken?????



(And to those who may be thinking I’m a shill – YOU’RE WRONG. I’m not friends or acquaintances or anything else with this author . . . . I just quietly stalk her on the interwebs like a normal person.)

I do have to admit that looking back at my rating for Cheater I was shocked to see I gave it 3. I could have sworn I gave it only 2, but obviously my gut reaction was a little higher – or I was still under the voodoo spell Rachel Van Dyken’s sexytimes scenes had over my punany. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I stuck around with this series because A MUCH better time was had with this one.

If you read #1, you’ll know that Thatch and Austin were ancillary characters who started as a one-off that ended up getting a little more serious . . . . and then ended up with Thatch getting caught with his tongue down Austin’s skank beloved sister’s throat. I know I know I know – she should never forgive him and that’s so stupid and yada yada yada. It’s fiction and it’s got CHEATER in the fucking title. Don’t get your panties in a twist. His reasons get explained and it gets confirmed that . . . .



My only gripe about this was that it started out as a revenge story (which is what hooked me to begin with) featuring an embarrassingly drunken serenade going viral . . . .



But quickly morphed into Austin blogging about Thatch’s plastic surgery practice for one of her classes instead. Either storyline would have probably been a winner for me, but the abrupt bait and switch seemed a little off.

All was quickly forgiven, however, when plotline #2 took root and the romance (with a side of humor and just a smidge of drama for yo momma) took hold. I’m telling you this thing was sweeter than a Moon Pie washed down with a 20 ouncer of Mountain Dew. It most definitely served its purpose of providing me a quality filler of fluffy goodness and, despite the good doctor sporting a manbun, I still wanted to make all the sexuals with him. No disrespect to the manbun – it is one of the reasons I tune into the Housewhores of New York weekly in hopes of sneaking a peak of . . . .



I just didn’t like a doctor having one. (But I totally went and requested one of Alice Clayton’s farmhand books because yep, that’d work out just fine there.) And yes I realize he was probably supposed to look like Thor and not like a hipster, but Liam is the only Hemsworth brother for me so it still was a no-go. Lucky for me I have a bigly working brain and was able to simply ignore the hair references and focused on the DOCTOR part instead, which meant . . . . .



Yep . . . .



This one gets 4 Stars and I’m pretty positive I won’t have a change of heart down the road. It was just what the doctor ordered. I mean, a tummytuck would have been nice, but this was good too.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Boy's Life by Robert R. McCammon


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5 Stars

“Don’t be in a hurry to grow up. Hold on to being a boy as long as you can, because once you lose that magic, you’re always begging to find it again.”
Boy’s Life is a selection I’ve actively avoided ever since it first popped up on my radar due to its unprecedented 4.55 rating amongst my Goodreads’ friends. (If you aren’t familiar with them, let’s just say they aren’t a real forgiving group of readers and leave it with that so they don’t slit my throat.) If you’re of the ilk to take a gander at shelf names, you’ll see this one now sits prominently on the “Like This Or We Can’t Be Friends” options. Approximately 99.999998% of the time that shelf title is for used merely for shits and giggles . . . . but this go ‘round it might be true. You see, I just can’t picture the person who couldn’t find a way to give this story at least 3 Stars and, although I'm well aware they are out there, I'm pretty confident I wouldn't want to associate with them.

If you are someone who interacts with me regularly, you are well aware of the fact that I don’t fancy myself as any sort of wordsmith. I tend to ramble and meander around rather producing anything of actual substance in my review space quite regularly all the time. This time words fail me because there aren’t any that could even come close to describing this story. In fact, there’s only one that won’t leave my mind - MAGIC.

Boy’s Life is a story about just that . . . . a boy’s life, told as a reflection by said boy who has since grown up. The boy in question is Corey Mackleson. The year was 1964. A new sound had just hit the radiowaves and Corey and his buddies were feeling the vibe of The Beach Boys and couldn’t wait to be old enough to “get a round round around I get around.”

From here maybe I’ll let the book do the talking . . . .

“He wrote this book about the town, and the people in it who made it what it was. And maybe there wasn’t a real plot to it, maybe there wasn’t anything that grabbed you by the throat and tried to shake you until your bones rattled, but the book was about life. It was the flow and the voices, the little day-to-day things that make up the memory of the living. It meandered like the river, and you never knew where you were going until you got there, but the journey was sweet and left you wishing for more.”

Because really, it’s all about the writing. Like when a young boy experiences his first crush . . . . .

“If you were my girlfriend I would give you a hundred lightning bugs in a green glass jar, so you could always see your way. I would give you a meadow full of wildflowers, where no two blooms would ever be alike. I would give you my bicycle, with its golden eye to protect you. I would write a story for you, and make you a princess who lived in a white marble castle. If you would only like me, I would give you magic. If you would only like me. If you would only –”

Or death . . . .

“Death cannot be known. It cannot be befriended. If Death were a boy, he would be a lonely figure, standing at the playground’s edge while the air rippled with other children’s laughter. If Death were a boy, he would walk alone. He would speak in a whisper and his eyes would be haunted by knowledge no human can bear.”

As I said before - MAGIC.

A little bit coming of age story like The Body, a little bit of learning the ugly truths of the civil rights era like To Kill A Mockingbird, a cast of eccentric townsfolk like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with a touch of a “whodunit” thrown in for good measure, Boy’s Life is a true genre bender. If you’re a parent lucky enough to be raising a voracious reader, this one could be offered to those as young as middle-grade – and is one that should not be skipped by any adult if given the opportunity to read it. I recommend you experience Boy's Life during summertime if at all possible. Find a nice shady spot, preferably somewhere you can hear the wind blowing through the trees and, if you’re lucky, a little creek flowing in the background. Somewhere like my backyard. Grab a pitcher of tea, take a seat in an Adirondack chair and settle in for the day. You won’t regret it.

Looky there. No gifs!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby


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2 Stars

Fever Pitch had been on my TBR since Jesus was a toddler due to my love for Nick Hornby. I avoided it since I was well aware the combination of soccer superfandom and autobiography might not prove to be a winner for me. Somehow (I believe when I was looking for a “sporty” book to read at one of the kids’ various games) this cycled back around on some list I have long since forgotten and I requested the porny librarian to obtain a copy – which she did pronto because she is well aware that . . . . .



What I did not realize was this was the inspiration behind the Jimmy Fallon/Drew Barrymore flick of the same name – they just flipped the script to make things more ‘Murican . . . .



Which I can TOTALLY relate to as a lifelong Cubs’ fan . . . .



I don’t remember particularly enjoying the American film version of Fever Pitch, but knowing these were based on the same story I bumped the book up on the TBR thinking it would at minimum bring me some LOLz with Hornby finally dropping the charade and admitting he is the inspiration behind all of his loveable losers . . . .



I was assured by the list which cannot be named that Fever Pitch would be a guaranteed winner for even those who detest soccer because it would bring so much funny. Sadly, that was not my experience. With every entry revolving around the events of a specific game and players’ names being dropped every other sentence, it became obvious immediately that Hornby is pretty much this guy . . . . .



Which was way over my head since my only experience with soccer (or football) comes from watching my freshman in high school play for the first time - something I really can’t wrap my brain around because how the hell does a kid make a team and then become a starter for a sport he’s never played since he was 3 years old earning the nickname “Bobby Bouche” due to his constant water drinking and non-playing???? Oh yeah, probably because everyone else “played” like this . . . .



Fever Pitch earns 2 Stars rather than 1 because Hornby is a brilliant writer and there’s simply no denying it. When personal touches such as familial relationships or battles with his own demons were brought up, it was magic. Unfortunately, those moments were like specs of pepper in a sea of salt and didn’t serve to heighten my enjoyment much at all. Don’t take my word for it, though. I’m so stupid I’ve been reading this in snippets for nearly a week and failed to ever mark it on my “currently reading” list. Also, if you are a fan of English soccer anywhere between the early ‘70s to the early ‘90s, this could definitely be the book for you.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


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4.5 Stars

“You’re a bit mental, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” I said, “yes, I suppose I am.”

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 out 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 where award-winning bestsellers aren’t simply handed to them on silver platters.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Just Add Water by Hunter Shea

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4 Stars

In 1980 all David and Patrick can think of is how cool it’s going to be spending the summer watching the Amazing Sea Serpents they just ordered out of the back of a Wonder Woman comic. Unfortunately things don’t end up being quite as impressive as they hoped . . . .



When the tank starts to reek, the boys know they have to say buh bye to their new pets pronto . . . .

“So long, Amazing Sea Serpents. It was smelly and nasty while it lasted.”

Lucky for us, their loss is our gain and we readers get to experience a creature feature that, if you are of a certain age such as myself (*cough dinosaur cough*), might bring back some fond childhood memories . . . .



Featuring super nasty baddies . . .



Parents who seriously like to par-tay . . . .



A neighbor it’s probably best to steer clear of . . . .



A quick stop by the local Benihana . . . .



And the fate of the human race resting in the hands of a couple of nerds . . . .



Just Add Water was a gruesomely great escape from watching the takeover of ‘Murica by our new Russian overlords. We’re talking . . . .



I discovered Hunter Shea thanks to my buddy Dan lending me a copy of They Rise. When I saw Char reading this title I knew I would be jumping on the bandwagon and was beyond thrilled when I saw advanced copies were available for my instant gratification. Even my librarian has taken a break from ordering all the porn I request and has a Hunter Shea selection available. I’ll definitely be checking out more of his stuff in the future.

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you, NetGalley!