logo
Wrong email address or username
Wrong email address or username
Incorrect verification code
back to top
Search tags: 2019
Load new posts () and activity
Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-07-14 20:48
Review: The Inheritance Games
The Inheritance Game - Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I received a copy from Netgalley.

 

It’s been a long time since I’ve started a book and finished it in the same day. I’ve only rated three books five stars this year and this was one of them. I love rich people stories and even more ones about regular people who are thrown into that over the top glamorous world.

 

In this book teenager Avery, a studios, smart girl is just looking to finish high school and earn a college scholarship. She lives with her older sister Libby and Libby’s questionable asshole boyfriend Drake. While she adores her sister she hates the boyfriend who’s cruel and manipulative in that making you think everything wrong is your fault when it’s not way.

 

Then everything changes when Grayson Hawthorne shows up with a request for Avery and Libby to attend his grandfather’s will reading. His multi billionaire grandfather. Avery is dumbfounded. She’s never heard of the man. And yet finds out she’s been left his fortune. From sleeping in her car she’s suddenly the richest teenager in the world.

 

Much to the chagrin on the Hawthorne family, the four grandsons, their mother and her sister. Naturally they’re furious. Avery has to now figure out how this all happened, and no one in the Hawthorne family is happy she’s there. There’s a complex mystery to solve, clues are left for Avery and the boys.

 

This is one of those compulsive you have to know what’s going on mysteries. I can’t say much for character development, everything felt a little generic and seen a million times before in the family dynamic. I didn’t get much of a sense of personality from Avery other than resourceful, smart and determined. Though her reactions to the situations she found herself thrown into were very believable.

 

What drove this novel forward for me was the mystery. It’s impossible to recap without being spoilery, the plot is so twisty turny. It has a brilliant narrative that makes the reader keep guessing. While the characters aren’t very fleshed out, there was some delightful banter throughout, the relationships grew more complex throughout the characters. I didn’t guess who the baddie was and it’s one of those…why didn’t I see this coming from a mile away?!?!? reveals. The tension builds wonderfully throughout to the final climax…which was almost in a weird way a bit anticlimactic. It does however, leave on a cliffhanger. I need more.

 

Thank you to Penguin Random House Children’s UK.

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-06-19 21:46
The Best American Short Stories 2019, compiled by Anthony Doerr
The Best American Short Stories 2019 - Anthony Doerr

This is my first year reading the Best American Short Stories, after having gotten more into short stories over the last few years. I am not a fan of multi-author anthologies, finding them impossible to “get into” when each new story is like starting a new book, and that’s particularly true here, where there is no unifying theme. From reading a number of both brief and in-depth reviews of this collection and its stories, I have the sense this year wasn’t the best for this series. Many readers only connected with a couple of the stories, though Doerr must have done something right in selecting them when readers’ favorites seem to vary so widely. Looking through the top reviews on this page shows that while most readers only really liked a third or fewer of the stories, almost every story made somebody’s shortlist, with little consistency in which were the favorites. For me the only two standouts are “Letter of Apology” by Maria Reva and “Omakase” by Weike Wang, but I liked these enough that I now plan to read the authors’ books.

So, a rundown in order of appearance:

“The Era” by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah: The collection begins with a dystopian tale about a world in which kindness and human connection are despised, and the resulting hole is filled with constant injections of drugs. All this I think is astute commentary on certain trends in our society, but I found other elements – like the genetic engineering that sometimes goes wrong and gives people only one personality trait – rather less relevant, and like many insecure sci-fi stories, this one spends way too much time talking about why their values aren’t our values and how our world became theirs. It’s as if we went around talking about the Renaissance all the time and why we aren’t like those people; I’m not buying.

“Natural Light” by Kathleen Alcott: This is perhaps the most literary and best-written story in the collection, about a woman in her 30s who discovers something new about her deceased mother. I admire the author’s skill a lot, but her subject matter was too run-of-the-mill to interest me in reading more, and I still can’t figure out the ending; the last couple of sentences just seem like word salad to me. The story made more sense once

I figured out that the random interjections were the narrator’s intrusive thoughts of suicide methods. The contents of the photograph, meanwhile, seemed obvious to me: the mother was receiving oral sex with drug paraphernalia scattered around, yes?

(spoiler show)


“The Great Interruption” by Wendell Berry: An entertaining boyhood escapade turns into a local legend, which is then used to comment on the demise of local culture in America. A well-written story, though Berry’s nostalgia for the rural America of yore is steeped in white male privilege, which though not acknowledged becomes visible at one point when the females privileged to hear the original story are referred to as the “housewives and big girls” of the community (it contained no other adult women).

“No More Than a Bubble” by Jamel Brinkley: Two college boys crash a party with the goal of hooking up with a pair of slightly older women, and wind up way out of their depth. It’s a vividly told tale but I didn’t really know what to make of this one. The problematic aspects of the boys’ sexuality are clearly acknowledged, but I didn’t know how to reconcile Ben’s

telling us that he learned the most important lesson of his life from all this with his still being alone and confused many years later, i.e., at exactly the same place his father’s view of women, which the young Ben adopted unquestioningly, led his father to end up.

(spoiler show)


“The Third Tower” by Deborah Eisenberg: In a vaguely-sketched dystopian world, the medical system tries to stamp out the creativity and possibly repressed memories of government-sponsored horror from the mind of a young woman. This one was a little too on-the-nose for me, and Therese’s gullibility and eager compliance made it harder for me to have strong feelings about what was being done to her.

“Hellion” by Julia Elliott: An adolescent girl in rural South Carolina befriends a visiting boy, and unfortunate consequences follow from their actions. It’s sweet enough I suppose, but what Doerr cites as its exuberance and courage, for me was just over-the-top in a way that seems almost careless: the character referred to as having grown up “before the Civil War” early enough in the story that we don’t yet realize this isn’t meant literally (it’s set in the 1980s or thereabouts); the young female narrator going off on a sudden tangent about people killing the planet when she’d never before mentioned an interest in science or ecology and again, it’s the 1980s. It all felt a bit haphazard to me, and the grounding in serious questions about whether this girl has a shot at a fulfilling life wasn’t quite enough to draw it back.

“Bronze” by Jeffrey Eugenides: A gender-nonconforming freshman meets an older gay man on the train home to college from New York, and has to finally decide whether he’s actually gay and if not, whether his self-expression is worth letting people read him that way. Interesting enough but didn’t do much for me, though I did find it interesting that Eugenides developed the older man, who without getting a point-of-view would have just been a standard creep.

“Protozoa” by Ella Martinsen Gorham: A 14-year-old girl tries to establish her self-identity in both the real and virtual worlds. Doerr perhaps sells this one short by calling it a cautionary tale about the amount of investment teens put into their online lives; in many ways Noa seems to live more in the real world than a lot of teens (she interacts with quite a few people in real life over the course of the story), and I found myself thinking that the cautionary message might have been sent more effectively. But I’m not sure the author actually intended the story as anything so simple: what might have been portrayed as traumatizing cyberbullying in another story, Noa seems perfectly well-equipped to handle and even in some ways to welcome, while her real story is about trying to establish herself as someone darker and edgier.

“Seeing Ershadi” by Nicole Krauss: A dancer and her friend both attribute newfound motivation to leave bad situations to visions of actor Homayoun Ershadi. This one didn’t really do anything for me. It seems to have a hole at its center: we hear a lot about the plot of the Iranian film Taste of Cherry, and a lot about the narrator’s friend’s life, while the narrator’s own life and decisions are sidelined. It is sweet though that according to the author’s note at the end, Ershadi read and was touched by the story at a difficult point in his own life.

“Pity and Shame” by Ursula Le Guin: An outcast young woman in a late 19th century California mining town cares for a lonely mine engineer injured in an accident, and the two of them and a doctor all form a bond. A sweet story but not one that leaves the reader with much to think about, despite the author’s legendary status.

“Anyone Can Do It” by Manual Muñoz: A young mother struggles to figure out how to pay the bills when her husband, along with other farmworkers, is suddenly snatched by immigration. Timely, certainly, though set in the 1980s rather than the present, and the author adds some complexity in that, for instance, Delfina doesn’t actually seem to like or miss her husband much. But she was a bit of a hollow character that was hard for me to root for, and

I was a little disturbed by the way the theft of her car was foreshadowed by her allowing her 4-year-old son to shoplift a toy car. It seems to me that she’s allowing her son to grow up into exactly the kind of person who took advantage of her.

(spoiler show)


“The Plan” by Sigrid Nunez: Inside the mind of a killer. Interesting enough, but didn’t do much for me.

“Letter of Apology” by Maria Reva: In late Soviet Ukraine, a KGB agent is required to extract a letter of apology from a renowned poet for making a political joke. The agent, who narrates the story, is in denial about certain aspects of his own life, leading him to wildly misinterpret the behavior of the poet’s wife. I loved this one: there’s a ton of humor in the contrast between the dread image of the KGB and the reality of the bumbling and confused Mikhail, as well as the absurdities of the system as a whole. The whole story is full of dark humor and the changes wrought in both Mikhail and Milena seemed very real and sympathetic to me. I was excited to find that the author has also published this as part of a whole collection of linked short stories.

“Black Corfu” by Karen Russell: On a Croatian island in 1620, ruled at the time from Venice, a black man wanted to be a doctor but is permitted only to cut the hamstrings of the dead, meant to prevent them from rising again as less-violent zombies, known as vukodlak. He’s falsely accused of botching a procedure – or is the accusation really false? This was my first exposure to an author who’s gotten a lot of buzz lately, and the story hits a lot of buttons in terms of racial prejudice and glass ceilings, but didn’t actually work well for me.

“Audition” by Saïd Sayrafiezadeh: A young man who wants to be an actor instead, for unspecified reasons, works on construction sites owned by his father, a real estate developer, and seems to be falling under the spell of crack. This didn’t do much for me.

“Natural Disasters” by Alexis Schaitkin: A young New Yorker moves to Oklahoma with her husband, where she takes a job writing descriptions of houses for sale and tries to fit everything that happens into some meaningful narrative of her life. I enjoyed the narrator’s voice, her obvious pretention and her adult awareness of it when telling the story from the vantage point of many years later, but I was underwhelmed and unconvinced by the “big event.”

Really, at age 24 it’s this earth-shattering moment for her to hear that some guy’s brother died meaninglessly?

(spoiler show)


“Our Day of Grace” by Jim Shepard: An epistolary story about the American Civil War: two southern women write letters to two Confederate soldiers, one of whom writes back. The letters are credible enough but the Civil War has also been pretty well done to death as a setting, and in my view this didn’t do anything new or exciting.

“Wrong Object” by Mona Simpson: A therapist treats a man who at first seems boring, but then reveals that he only experiences sexual attraction to adolescent girls, though he insists he’s never acted upon it. This is interesting, but perhaps too short for me. I would have liked to know a little more about the therapist’s life, which is only vaguely hinted at, and to have seen the consequences at the end developed a little more. But the existence of people seeking treatment for pedophilia who have never acted on their urges was not new information to me, which may have blunted my reaction to the story.

“They Told Us Not To Say This” by Jenn Alandy Trahan: Blink and you’ll miss this 7-page story, told in the first person plural about a group of second-generation Filipina-American girls who are second-class in their families but find empowerment on the basketball court. This is the one story no reviewer seems to have highlighted as a favorite, and I can see why not.

“Omakase” by Weike Wang: A Chinese-American woman in her late 30s goes out for omakase (in Japanese, “I’ll leave it up to you”; in restaurants, sushi selected by the chef) with her white boyfriend, who increasingly shows his obliviousness about racial issues and his dismissive and condescending attitude toward her, despite the fact that she’s the one to do most of the sacrificing and pay most of the bills in their relationship. It’s interesting to see the widely varied responses that reviewers have had, some feeling that all the ways in which the woman is marginalized and put down in the world and within her own relationship to be too stereotypical, while others seem to take the boyfriend’s opinions at face value and view her as too sensitive and neurotic for her own good. Those varying responses are certainly a testament to the realism of the story. She is a bit neurotic, but to me much of this is the conflict generated by her instincts telling her she’s in a bad situation, while everyone around her (boyfriend, family, friends) insists that the only problem is her – thereby robbing her of the sense of self-worth she needs to actually stand up for herself. She comes across as real and vibrant, as do the racial issues addressed, and I’m interested in reading Wang’s novel.

Overall, an interesting collection of stories I don’t regret reading, but that took me a really long time to get through. I’m not sure if I’ll try another of these collections, but I did at least discover a couple of promising authors.

 

Like Reblog Comment
review 2020-05-24 12:56
Accomplished Debut Novel
Killing A Dead Man - Siobhian R. Hodges

“Killing a Dead Man” is rightly billed as a ‘supernatural thriller’ and though the author, Siobhian R. Hodges is a new talent, I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel. Ostensibly targeted at the YA readership, it can be tricky when shedding light on some challenging themes not to oversteer, but in her subtle use of light and shade, the author successfully navigates a course, which balances the best and worst of human traits.

 

Written in the first person, the book adopts the perspective of Jordan, now aged fifteen, but weighed down by the loss of his twin brother, Danny, brutally murdered five years earlier. It was a defining moment in Jordan’s young life, steeped in guilt that he hadn’t prevented it and anger that the perpetrator had not been caught. The only consolation for Jordan is that Danny’s spirit had not moved on, but intermittently communicates with his brother. Jordan can feel Danny’s presence, rather than see him and though comforting, the connection was not without consequences. The boys’ bewildered parents had finally sought psychiatric help for their surviving son, meanwhile Jordan’s talking to an invisible brother was seized upon by teenage school bullies. The central character is isolated amid the struggles of his adolescent life, but not alone. Still, when Danny divulges he knows the identity of his killer, Jordan is compelled to launch across the country in search of revenge.

 

Whilst the premise of the subsequent adventure may play differently, depending on the reader’s beliefs concerning the afterlife, I found the author’s description of the twins’ ongoing relationship and the permeable nature of the boundary between this world and the next, both convincing and warming. Jordan and Danny are each held in a glutinous state of torment, which must surely be excised if they are to move on with their respective journeys, but it will take active forces in both realms if Jordan is to survive the ordeal.

 

Along the way, the reader is introduced to some intriguing characters, in particular, long-suffering taxi driver, Mr Butch, who is unwittingly drawn into Jordan’s odyssey and just as Danny attends the edge of the living world, so Jordan’s companion is a welcome escort for his foray into a murky, sometimes hostile adult environment.

 

The book teems with suspense, yet delivers the reader a very satisfying denouement. I look forward to placing my copy in the hands of a teenager, for whom I think the novel was intended, but with a hearty recommendation that it is well worth reading. So too perhaps for those young of heart!

 

Unusual praise too for the quality of the binding. I am not ordinarily moved to comment on such aesthetics, however, the paperback, apparently “printed in Great Britain by Amazon”, has a deliciously waxy feel to the touch, which simply made the book a genuine pleasure to hold. Ms Hodges is to be congratulated on such a rounded debut and I look forward with interest to her future titles.

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-05-19 06:17
Book review: unhoneymooners Christina Lauren
The Unhoneymooners - Christina Lauren

May 15-18

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky

Review : I really loved this book it was cute and funny and I loved the characters. This is about olive she's a twin and her sister is getting married and olive is happy for her but she's annoyed she has to deal with Ethan Dane's older brother. But the reception doesn't go to well when everyone but Ethan and olive get some kind of shellfish poisoning and Ethan and olive have to take their honeymoon. Ethan and olive don't get along she thinks it has to do with him judging her eating cheese curds . They have to pretend to be married on this honeymoon and then olive runs into her new boss and Ethan and olive have dinner with her new boss and his wife . Then they run into Ethan ex girlfriend and her fiance very awkward. Olive starts enjoying Ethans company and hes not what she thought he was . Ethan ends up drinking a lot and ends up kissing olive he tells her he likes her and apparently Dane told Ethan when they first met not to bother with olive . Ethan and olive hook up and then they end up start dating but the problem is ethan let it be clear he never planned those trips Dane did and he was cheating on ami . When they get back home olive tells her boss the truth and he let's her go and then Dane hits on her and Ethan doesn't believe her and either does ami when olive tells her and then Ethan breaks up with her . Ami finds texts on Dane phone . Ami invites all the girls Dane has been cheating on her and Ethan shows up and Ethan is trying to get her back and he shows up at the restaurant she's working at and they get back together. Two years later they are back at Maui with her sister and her new boyfriend and Ethan plans on proposing. And he does kinda and it was so sweet so them .
Quotes:“I can appreciate my body in a bikini and still want to set fire to the patriarchy.”

 

the only coherent thought that comes to mind is how insulting it is that eyelashes like his were wasted on Satan’s Errand Boy”

 

Rumor has it your dad brought her flowers and she pulled off every petal and used them to spell PUTA in the snow.”

 

Ethan Thomas is doing something weird to my emotions.”

 

knew he was a book lover, but to be the same kind of book lover I am? It makes my insides melt.”

 

 

Like Reblog Comment
show activity (+)
review 2020-04-13 15:40
Die Kunst der Depression
Sternstunden der Bedeutungslosigkeit - Rocko Schamoni

Es erinnert einen ein wenig an den Fänger im Roggen, aber in keiner guten Art und Weise.

Ein Kunststudent vom Land will die Großstadt und das Leben erobern. Als wäre er der erste Mensch. Die Depression und das grenzenlose Selbstmitleid von Michael Sonntag hat mich wahnsinnig genervt. Mir fehlt hier jegliche Sympathie. Er verachtet alles und jeden, aber vor allem sich selber. Es ist wirklich deprimierend. Und die Zwischenepisoden, in denen uns Sonntag erklärt, wie die Welt funktioniert und was wir alle nicht kapieren, langweilt mich. Der Hochmut und der zerstörende Zweifel (mit Drogen und Alkohol verstärkt) des Protagonisten finden leider keinerlei Anklang bei mir. Auch die obsessive Verfolgung seines Idealbildes einer Frau ist unerträglich. 

Vielleicht war genau das die Intention hinter diesem Buch, mich bringt es aber nicht dazu noch ein weiteres Werk des Autoren zu lesen

 

More posts
Your Dashboard view:
Need help?