books and reading

What I Read This Week

Not a great reading week for me this week. Here’s what I finished:

Heather, the Totality (October 2017) by Matthew WeinerHeather, the Totality by Matthew Weiner: Heather’s parents have devoted their entire lives to the raising of her. She is their diamond, their star, and there is nothing they wouldn’t do for her. She is beautiful and smart and compassionate, and she attracts attention wherever she goes. This includes attracting the attention of unsavory characters, and things come to a head in the most dramatic fashion possible.

Matthew Weiner (Mad Men, etc.) has his fiction debut with this slim little literary experiment that is designed to be read in one sitting. It’s a quick read, and it’s a harrowing story, but because it’s so short and because the sentences are so stylized, readers won’t ever come to know any of the characters well enough to be fully invested. I wanted to like it much more than I did.

 

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books and reading

What I Read this Week

These are the books I finished this week. Without further ado:

29422692Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai: The rule is that Livvy Kane and Nicholas Chandler get one night a year together. They  meet up wherever Livvy is living and spend a night together, indulging in what they consider forbidden. But then Livvy doesn’t show up for their annual meeting, and instead shows up back in their hometown. Unable to stay away from one another, the two embark on a forbidden affair that can only end in heartache. 

I feel like I was on the wait list for this one forever, and when I finally got it, I didn’t love it like I wanted to. I loved that the characters were older than the standard romance fare, but I felt like the plot got way too bogged down in details and it kept the story from moving forward. I don’t know. I definitely will check out more of Rai’s work, but this was a case where the hype hurt the outcome for me.

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Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Machado: A collection of short stories that feature new twists on some old tropes, as well as some entirely new stories. A wife won’t let her husband remove the green ribbon from around her neck, no matter how much he begs. A woman lists all the sexual encounters she’s ever had while the rest of the world is consumed by an unnamed plague. A re-imagining of Law & Order: SVU portrays Olivia Benson as being haunted by girls with bells for eyes.

This weird, brave, wonderful collection of short stories is totally haunting, moving, and profound. I devoured it in just a few sittings, even though the book begs to be read slowly (and possibly over and over again). I loved this. One of my favorite reads of the year.

What did you read this week?

 

 

books and reading · reviews

Book Review: Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

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Jule Williams is 18 and an orphan. Her best friend is heiress Imogen Sokoloff, who lives off a trust fund and jet-sets all over the world. The two are inseparable, or are they? Jule seems to be running, but from who?

The convoluted plot of Lockhart’s latest is best left to the vague description above, as trying to explain it further will confuse readers. Starting with chapter 18 and working backward in time, Lockhart’s latest is a pale imitation of her previous (and far superior) effort We Were Liars. I’m frankly stunned by the starred reviews this one has garnered, because it isn’t nearly as good as it thinks it is.

It is, however, fast-paced, and it reads very quickly as a result. As Jule moves from New York to London to California to Mexico, her intense narrative keeps readers turning pages to discover what’s really going on. As narrators go, Jules is completely unreliable, and the mysteries surrounding her are equal parts compelling and aggravating.

There is some suspense to be found here, and there’s certainly some teen appeal, especially for readers who like their stories twisty and their characters complex. There are moments that are truly unsettling, and even more moments that are actually quite gruesome, which might put some readers off the story.

On the whole, though, the book never quite gelled for me. It feels too much like an attempt to recapture the magic of Lockhart’s last book, and it’s as though I could see the author pulling the strings to move the plot along. Perhaps it just wasn’t for me, but there’s certainly an audience for this one. Might make a good movie, too.

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart. Delacorte: 2017. Library copy.

books and reading · reviews

What I Read this Week

These are the things I read this week:

32600769The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh: Former criminals live in an isolated town in Texas, in a sort of social experiment where none of the criminals can remember their pasts or their crimes, but they know that they have chosen this life instead of a life in prison. Sheriff Calvin Cooper keeps the peace in the town, where they’ve never had any violence in eight years. Until someone turns up dead. And then another person turns up dead, too.

A smart, twisty little western that kept me guessing, I enjoyed this one as a whole. It’s told through multiple perspectives, which helps readers get a sense of the town, but it never allows the reader to get very close to any of the characters, which is intentional. This was a read out of my comfort zone, and I liked it.

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Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin: Aviva Grossman gets involved with a very married much older congressman when she’s still in college. The affair is revealed, and she becomes a social pariah, unable to find work. So she changes her name and moves far away to start a new life as a wedding planner in Maine. Raising her 13-year-old daughter Ruby on her own, she decides to run for office, and that’s when all her secrets are revealed.

I really liked this one–I read it in a day–but the first part of the book is by far the strongest section. Told in alternating narratives by four very different women, it’s a quick, captivating read about sexism, feminism, slut shaming, and much more. I really enjoyed the hell out of this book.

5Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling: Harry’s third year at Hogwarts is marked by increased security in the form of dementors, after notorious wizard Sirius Black escapes from the wizard prison. Everyone is sure Sirius is after Harry, but Harry realizes that Sirius might have answers about his past.

This has always been my least favorite of all the Harry Potter books, and it remains so to this day. While I enjoyed Jim Dale’s narration of it, it’s still the book I feel the least connected to. I’m not sure if I don’t think the rising action is nearly as compelling as the other books or if I just don’t care about all the animal stuff (which is a departure for me), but I always rush through this one to get to the good stuff later on.

I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn and Alison Raskin: Ava and Gen are best 33916153friends headed off for their first year of college on opposite sides of the country. The book chronicles their first semester through texts and emails as each girl explores newfound independence, college experiences, and new relationships. Can their friendship survive the distance and different experiences?

Told entirely through texts and emails, this frenetic (there’s literally no other word for the pacing and tone of this one) book about two best friends has some really authentic (read: self-absorbed and completely obnoxious) narrators, and some interesting things to say about the complexities of female friendship, but it’s also a pretty surface-level novel. I have complicated feelings about it.

What did you read this week?

books and reading · pop culture

October 2017 Recap

I can’t believe October is over and we’re into November. I’m sad that my favorite month of the year has come to a close. Here’s how October shook out:

Books:

Total: 34
Picture Books: 25
Middle Grade: 2
YA: 3
Adult: 4
Fiction: 34
Non-Fiction: 0
Audiobooks: 2
Total Pages Read: 3079

Favorite Reads in October: 

31931941Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: I just loved this sweet story about a weird girl and a weird boy who meet and form a friendship. I loved the exploration of the online world merging with the real world, and I thought that Zappia did a nice job of blending two very different stories together. I think this is one of the best YA books I’ve read this year.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare: A super fun regency33259027 romance featuring two strong characters and genuinely scorching chemistry. This wasn’t my first Dare novel, and it won’t be my last one, either. The first in a new series, this is definitely one to check out, even if you’re not a regular reader of romance.

 

Viewing

Total Movies: 2
New: 2
Re-Watch: 0

Favorite Movies in October: 

None. I watched 47 Meters Down and Kong: Skull Island, and both were DUMB.

Other Things I’ve Been Watching:

I’ve been re-watching Sex and the City, and I’m up to season 4. The show is still funny in many ways, and I do love the female friendships that center the series, but there are things about it that have not aged well at all. It’s really transphobic, and it’s still maybe the whitest thing on television?

We’re still watching The Office, and we’re in season 6, which apart from Jim and Pam’s wedding, is a pretty unremarkable season. It’s starting to be a slog, but I think we’re both determined to finish it.

 

I’m hoping to get a few more movies in this next month (I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s no way I’ll meet my year-end goal), and read some more titles on best of lists.

 

books and reading

Stand-Out Picture Books in October

31145060Stay: A Girl, a Dog, a Bucket List by Kate Klise: Eli the dog has been with Astrid the girl since her parents brought her home from the hospital. Astrid is getting older, and so is Eli. Knowing that Eli won’t be with her forever, Astrid wants to create happy and fun memories with him, so she creates a bucket list of activities for the two to experience together.

I straight up ugly cried through this one, but even if stories about dogs and their stupid mortality weren’t my emotional kryptonite, this would have been a standout. Beautifully illustrated (by Klise’s sister), with simple, sweet text, the book allows readers to fully experience the very real relationship between the book’s two main characters. Hands down one of my favorite picture books of the year.

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You Must Bring a Hat by Simon Philip: The one rule for attending the party of the year is that attendees must bring a hat. But what if you don’t have a hat? Will a monkey wearing a hat suffice?

Cute, silly, and full of vivid pictures, this one will be a hit with kids who like their stories repetitive but very funny. I really liked this one and thought it might work for a storytime in the future.

Not a lot of stand-outs this month, but I didn’t seek them out, either. I expect I’ll be reading a lot of picture books over the next two months as “best of” lists start appearing.

 

books and reading

What I Read This Week

Another slow week for me. Here’s what I read this week:

31931941Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: Eliza Mirk is shy to the point of being friendless. But that’s in the real world, because in the online world, she has friends. And she’s Lady Constellation, the author of the super popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. When new kid Wallace Warland enters her life, she realizes he’s the author of the most popular Monstrous Sea fanfic around. And the two become friends, but she can’t seem to bring herself to tell him who she is.

I was surprised by how much I loved this one. Sweet and funny, with serious respect for the world of fandom, I devoured this in just a couple sittings. Definitely one of the best YA books of the year.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling: Harry’s second year at15881 Hogwarts is marked by mysterious whispering from something in the walls, people are turning up petrified solid, and there’s the mystery of the diary that seems to be blank until it isn’t. But who is the heir of Slytherin, and how is the chamber opening again?

I’ve been listening to the Harry Potter books on audiobook, and they aren’t disappointing this time around. It’s been years since I listened to Jim Dale’s narration, and it’s like delicious comfort food. One of my least favorites of the series, I actually enjoyed it this time around, but I can’t wait to get further into the series.

9303735Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning: Brian Sinclair hasn’t written new music in months. His band, Sinners on Fire, needs new tunes to entertain their fans, but he’s blocked. Then he meets Myrna, a sex psychologist, and the two have steamy encounters that ignite his muse. But she’s not looking to for a relationship, and he’s on the road constantly.

Pure erotica garbage. It’s not particularly well written, the characterization is a mess, and there’s no actual story here, but I couldn’t stop reading it because it was so silly.