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text 2019-03-24 02:31
New books added - HarperCollins and William Morrow

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text 2019-03-24 01:52
New books added - misc. HarperCollins imprints

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review 2019-03-23 23:26
Let's play cards...
Trick Roller - Cordelia Kingsbridge,Wyatt Baker

I'm a little late to the party with this series but that's a situation of my own making. I'm not sure really why but I got a notion in my head that I wanted to listen to this series on audio. So I held out...and held out...finally 'Kill Game'  was released on audio and I pounced on it like a hungry cougar...a really long in the tooth cougar...but that's another story for another day. 

 

Anyways, I loved listening to 'Kill Game' as an audio book. For me there's just something about hearing a mystery book on audio that makes it all the more enjoyable. In general I've discovered that if it's a mystery and I liked the e-book, if it's on audio chances are I'm going to love it...I'm going to say that's a me thing, but who knows maybe there are others who feel the same.

 

So here I am listening to book #2 in Cordelia Kingsbridge's 'Seven of Spades' series and you know what...I mean aside from the fact that I loved it, this is an exercise in determination because damned if I don't want to got read every freakin' review out there but I've been refraining because sadly I've also learned that everyone has a different idea of what constitutes a spoiler so I've been restricting myself to checking out ratings only and then I move on but once I get done here I'm going to go read my friends reviews for this one and see what they're thoughts are because a lot of my friends read this one quite a while ago and if their ratings are anything to go but...which they usually are they loved it just as much or more than I have and I'm curious to find out why.

 

While I really, really liked this one...I have to admit I enjoyed 'Kill Game' just an isty, bitsy, teensy, weensy bit more....like an almost negligible amount but that's ok it often happens with series and it's such a marginally small amount that I'm not even going to try and define it. I'm just going to talk about how much I loved seeing Levi and Dominic's relationship grow, how much I enjoyed the way the mystery unfolded in this one and the inevitable out come of what unfolded...oh, and there was the court scene...Dominic's so awesome I'm giving him some serious brownie points for that one.

 

Levi and Dominic are becoming more and more committed to each other but it's not an easy go and neither of theses men are rushing to the alter they've both got their own jobs and friends to deal with and their own issues and some days it's just harder than others to juggle it all, but hey, it could be worse right 'The Seven of Spades Killer' could still out there but thankfully he's dead and gone right? or is he? If you ask anyone in Vegas they'll tell you yes...if you ask Levi or Dominic they'll tell you something else entirely.

 

I am so loving the mystery in this series I have to admit I do not have a freakin' clue whodunit? Seriously I got nothin' and I want to keep it that way until the bitter end...and that's a few books away for me. 

 

Wyatt Baker is once again the narrator for this series and  while he's no longer a new to me narrator this is only the third book of his that I've listened to and I think he's definitely growing on me. I know his voices for both Levi and Dominic are firmly entrenched in my brain and I'm honestly hoping that I get to enjoy the rest of the series with him. I've found his narration to be solid and consistent which may not sound like much but for me it's an important thing I need my Levi to continue sounding like Levi and not suddenly turn into Mickey Mouse on me, or for Dominic to suddenly sound like Popeye or even worse to suddenly have everyone sound the same or monotone...nothing spoils a good story quicker than listening to a voice that's so uninspired it puts you to sleep, right? Thankfully, that is not the case here.

 

I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series on audio so cross your fingers for me that release day comes soon...if not I might have to break down and read the e-book...not that this would stop me from enjoying the audio book when it's released... because maybe I've read the book and then listened to the audio once or twice or a dozen or so times. It's another thing I do and I know I'm not the only one who does this because as well all know a good story needs to enjoyed more than once just so you can get all the details.

 

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An audio book of 'Trick Roller' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2019-03-23 18:37
Pages From A Cold Island by Frederick Exley
Pages from a Cold Island - Frederick Exley

Frederick Exley was a writer of autobiographical novels - memoirs, really, with places and people's names occasionally changed. He had some acclaim from 'A Fan's Notes' which followed his path in an out of psychiatric hospitals in the late 50s and early 60s. He was a down-and-out loser, lover of women and Frank Gifford, and savagely funny. 'Pages From A Cold Island' picks up four years after that novel's release in 1968 and finds Exley sunk deeper into alcoholism and eccentricity.

 

The Cold Island refers to the island he is staying in off the coast of Florida, and he belabors that it is a metaphor for himself. Exley is drinking, staring at the manuscript of 'Pages From A Cold Island', the book that was to quickly follow 'A Fan's Notes' and ensure his literary fame, and thinking about what books he'll have his students read at the Iowa Writer's Workshop course he agreed to teach. He is stunned when he reads about the death of his idol Edmund Wilson.

 

The novel can't hold on to a narrative. It covers some sloppy anecdotes about Exley's life in Florida and how he fled the New York Literary Scene that includes a seriously off-base interview of his with Gloria Steinem. It covers his quest to research and properly eulogize the genius of Edmund Wilson. At the very end there's a brief and very effective sketch of his time at the Iowa Writer's Workshop.

 

I often wondered as I read this book what were in the abandoned pages of the 'Cold Island' manuscript that is so often mentioned in the text here. Exley lost his confidence somewhere along the way and, though willing to publish sexual exploits and bar anecdotes and getting the shit kicked out him by a lover's jealous boyfriend, we rarely get a glimpse of the individual that made 'A Fan's Notes' so compelling. There is a pang when he realizes he can't confess to an acquaintance that depsire having two daughters of his own, one with each ex-wife, he never saw them come into the toddler stage. That might have been his only vulnerable moment that he confesses to. It's ironic that his summation of Steinem after their failed interview was that she wouldn't be taken seriously until she and her sort became 'becomingly vulnerable' and admit to being susceptible to love. It was the capstone on a bizarre and creepy chapter.

 

'A Fan's Notes' was a work of genius and everything I've read has told me, and told me again, that it was the best and only thing that Exley wrote. In my review I wrote about how much of what he writes would run afoul of the PC Police these days, and that's true, it is shocking, but there was a shattering honesty in what Exley wrote then that made it easy to forgive even his cruelest jokes. It also helped that even the crudest elements were still funny in part because they were horrifying. 'Pages From A Cold Island' has much that is shocking and reprehensible, but though Exley is quick to debase himself and shares plenty of humiliations, its not funny anymore.

 

Next: 'Last Notes From Home'

 

Previous: 'A Fan's Notes'

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review 2019-03-23 07:03
Snake by Kate Jennings
Snake - Kate Jennings

Praised for its mesmerizing intensity and taut, quick-witted prose, SNAKE tells the mesmerizing story of a mismatched couple -- Irene, ambitious and man-crazy, and her quiet, adoring, responsible husband, Rex -- who tumble into marriage and settle as newlyweds on a remote Australian farm. It is amid this unforgiving landscape that Irene and Rex raise their two children. It is here that, as Rex bears silent witness, Irene tends her garden and wrestles with what seems to be her fate. And it is here that their marriage unravels -- inexorably, bitterly, spectacularly.

Goodreads.com

 

 

 

*POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This novella incorporates themes of abortion and suicide.

 

 

Australian housewife Irene has for some time grown to feel that she's become uncomfortably locked into a seriously stifled domestic existence. Though she can't deny her husband has proven to be a good and faithful man, she misses the more wild, carefree side of her spirit that got consumed somewhere along the path of marriage and motherhood.

 

Irene makes it clear she likes her son but seems to be easily annoyed by her daughter. "Boy" is often light-hearted about life, enamored with American country music, while "Girlie" has a very serious nature, a writer spirit who tends to interpret things in their most literal sense. She's not much appreciated by either adults or fellow children.

 

Irene and Rex have a pretty good bond in the early years, but begin to show signs of slowly drifting apart over time as the children grow up. Along with decreased affections, tensions steadily rise between them. Whispers of infidelity begin to surface. Irene's coldness towards her daughter also increases while parent-child boundaries between her and her son become uncomfortably blurred. (WHY are they having tub time together in his teenage years?!!)

 

"Like many women of her class, Irene's mother maintained a separate bedroom from her husband; he could make his own arrangements. On the rare occassions she thought about sex, it was to envisage the gully at the bottom of the hill near her house --- gloomy, vine-tangled, rank with the smell of still water and furtive animals."

 

Well, if that's the example Irene had to grow up with.... 

 

Finally hitting her limit with everything one day, Irene rather heartlessly decides to leave a letter confessional addressed to husband Rex out in the open --- where anyone might stumble upon it --- in which she admits that the son he helped raise all these years was actually fathered by her ex! The unraveling of the relationship from that point of confession continues to drive the narrative to its headshaker of an ending.

 

Snake is a quick novella read with alternating POVS: Part 1 is presented in second person voice, observing Rex; Parts 2 & 3 are in third person observing both Irene and Rex as a couple, while also offering perspective from Billie, an Army friend of Irene's who also served as one of her bridesmaids. Billie gives the reader details on Irene's pre-Rex promiscuous years, history that might play into why she was the way she was with Rex years later; Part 4 goes back to second person voice, but with the voice now focusing on Irene. 

 

I won't lie, this one was a weird little read. It's gritty and stark, the descriptions of bleak Australian landscape often serving as an extra character to enhance the dark mood between our human players. The plot is grim but the writing itself is fascinating, bringing the reader into full-on rubbernecker mode til the very end. I didn't always entirely understand how some scenes connected to the plot as a whole and in the later bits of the story there seemed to be a strange fixation on bugs and mice that also left me scratching my head a bit. 

 

In some ways, Snake reminds me of my reading of Nabokov's Lolita. Maybe not a story you'd return to often because it's so cozy and good... both books will undoubtedly induce a good skin crawl or two .... but you stay with the pages because THAT WRITING THO. Though an author might lead you down some dark, sketchy paths, a reader can't but be taken with a finely woven sentence (or hundreds of pages of them!). This is one such book. Take it for a spin at least once just for the sheer experience of quality "less is more" writing craft.

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