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Search tags: 2016-mount-tbr
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review 2017-03-07 18:07
The IHOP Papers
The IHOP Papers - Ali Liebegott

Francesca, "Goaty", has a crush on her former college tutor and follows her to San Francisco, where she starts working at an IHOP, writing a novel, and crushing on pretty much every woman she meets... 

Seriously, if I had read a synopsis of the book, I would have given it a miss. As it turned out, however, the book is not just painfully cringe-worthy as we watch Goaty's journey of self-delusion, it is also, in part, really, really funny.


Unfortunately, The IHOP Papers are not as enjoyable as The Beautifully Worthless of Cha-Ching! both of which feature a much more mature main character. 

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text 2016-10-19 00:03
2016 Mt. TBR - October Update

So, with all the bingo fun over the past few months, I have totally neglected Mt. TBR. I just checked, and the last time I wrote an update about Mt. TBR was in May.



Suffice it to say that I have no idea what books I have added since...I may have lost track a little here.


Book count....


January Mt. TBR - 44

February Mt. TBR - 40

March Mt. TBR - 35

April Mt. TBR - 35  

May Mt. TBR - 37 (another 4 are still wip)


October Mt. TBR - 45 (Huh???)



Actual running total of Mt. TBR books read in 2016: 37

Books added since last update: ???

Swaps this month: 0



Rules - I picked a stack of physical books of my shelves at home which I would read over the course of the year. Any new purchases are added to the pile. If I pick another physical book off my shelves, I get to take one off the pile and put it on the shelf - as a swap.

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review 2016-10-15 12:36
The House of the Spirits
The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende

Nana had the idea that a good fright might make the child speak, and spent nine years inventing all sorts of desperate strategies for frightening Clara, the end result of which was to immunize the girl forever against terror and surprise. Soon Clara was afraid of nothing. She was unmoved by the sudden appearance of the most livid and undernourished monsters in her room, or by the knock of devils and vampires at her bedroom window. Nana dressed up as a headless pirate, as the executioner of the Tower of London, as a werewolf or a horned devil, depending on her inspiration of the moment and on the ideas she got while flipping through the pages of certain horror magazines, which she bought for this purpose and from which, although she was unable to read, she copied the illustrations. She had acquired the habit of gliding silently through the hallways and jumping at the child in the dark, howling through the doorways, and hiding live animals between her sheet, but none of this elicited so much as a peep from the little girl.

It's just so damn hard to surprise a clairvoyant.


This was my second reading of The House of the Spirits and, if anything, I enjoyed the magical elements of the book much more on this visit.

A re-visit.

A re-visit, spending this last week with the Trueba family, who in turn are re-visited by their past, which Allende spins into the narrative with such ease that reading the story of the different generations made me wonder at every turn of the page what happens next, and what happens to this or that character. Throw in the unspecified political and historical context of the story and I was hooked. Again, I think the second read was more engaging for me than the first in this respect, too. I guess, when I read the book for the first time, I was looking for clear-cut references and didn't appreciate the intention of the book as much, but some of the beauty and sadness of the book lies in the possibility that it may have been the story of many families, not just that of the Truebas.

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review 2016-10-12 23:12
The Meaning of Matthew & The Laramie Project
The Meaning of Matthew: My Son's Murder in Laramie, and a World Transformed - Judy Shepard
The Laramie Project - Tectonic Theater Project,Moisés Kaufman

This isn't much of a review. I've been trying to put together a review of both books ever since I read them earlier this year, but just really don't want to critique the stories or styles or messages in either The Meaning of Matthew or The Laramie Project.


The Meaning of Matthew is Judy Shepard's biography of her son and her account of the trial of her son's murderers. She's not a writer but she does tell her story in earnest and without canonizing her son. He was a flawed young man with problems that he was working to overcome. His mother is very candid about this. As much as the book is about Matthew and his death, however, it is also about the public response and the family's engagement with the family. The overwhelming public support that the Shepards received led them to set up a charity in their son's name, which is still going.


I expected that at least some part of the book might be bitter; it was not. On the contrary, I found it to carry a different message altogether: Instead of accusing society of its failings to protect her son, the message the book seemed to carry was one of amazement of how people of different faiths, different backgrounds, different views, could rally together in a crisis, and one of hope that society as a whole will grow from that crisis.


The Laramie Project is a play based on interview's that the theatre group conducted in Laramie in the wake of the murder. The interviews captured the shock of the community and the disbelief that such a senseless act of violence could have happened in that community.

Much like The Story of Matthew, The Laramie Project also focuses on the humanity and kindness that came to the fore in the aftermath of the murder. My favourite scene - which is also features in Judy Shepard's memoir - is how a group of students made up angel costumes and formed a chain around a group of Westboro Baptist Church protestors to block them from shouting abuse at the family at the funeral. 


What led me to picking up these two books is that I have my own memories of the media coverage and discussions about the murder. When Matthew Shepard died on 12th October 1998, I was a teenager, away from home for the first time on my own for a long period of time. I had accepted a placement as a foreign exchange student in a small town in West Texas. What I remember mostly about the actual event, is that a lot of people I went to school with - only a three years younger than Matthew - were full of homophobic nonsense and full of conviction that their view of the world was the only one that was valid. It was scary.

So, I was both surprised and grateful that both books chose to not focus on the fears and  prejudices in people they, I am sure, must have encountered in connection with the events, and instead chose to create a memory to people who found a way to share their humanity.

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review 2016-07-25 12:41
Consumption - Kevin Patterson

I find it difficult to write about Consumption. To write about the book easily requires that the book left an impression - whether good or bad - and this one just fell a bit flat.


Of course, there are interesting aspects of life in the Canadian Arctic that come to light in the book.

Of course, there are stylistic elements that Patterson uses - like the symbolism of consumption in its various meanings - throughout the novel to create the feeling of loss that permeates the novel, in which ideas, history, tradition and people are consumed by the spread of "civilisation".


The trouble is, that the book tried to focus on the lives of too many characters to really portray the specific community that is erased by the advance of modern life. The murder mystery that is added in the second half only adds to distract from the point of the novel.

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