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review 2020-01-20 17:53
Hey, Schools around the globe! Listen up!
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives - Martin Ganda,Caitlin Alifirenka,Liz Welch

This book should be required reading for middle schoolers every where.  Kindness could spread.  And change lives.  For the better.  Imagine that.   

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-01-14 16:24
The Bromance Book Club-Review
The Bromance Book Club - Lyssa Kay Adams

I really really do not like romance and yet I still read some of it because I am sure I will find something that will knock my socks off and will make me change my opinion on the genre . So far that has not happened.Just the plot of most romances are chessy to me and I get bored with them more likely than not. I thought the summary for this one sounded different and fun so I thought I would give it a chance. While is not all the worst romance I have ever read, in fact it is very from that, it still had certain cliches that drive me crazy and are sadly some cliches that are just particular to romance in general. I should know going into a romance that there are going to be certain cliches in it that will drive me crazy or that I will just not like . Yet here we are. I don't overall think cliches are the end of the world and depending on how they are used can be interesting. Then there are cliches that to me that are just cringy and no matter what the author does it will just not work for me.

Will get into that but first want to talk about what I did like about this book because again did overall enjoy it. Enough so that I am going to give the second in the series a shot. I did overall like the characters in this. They felt mostly liked flawed/real people. There were certain things about them that bugged me and will get into that in the things I didn't like section. Since in romance you should care about the characters felt this book did a good job of that. I also liked that this one focused on an already established relationship instead of strangers to lovers. Way way too many romance novels turn into insta love fests and it was nice to see trying to find love again in a not so perfect already established relationship. The writing overall was pretty well done there were some cases , and again will get into that in the things I didn't like section, but didn't find myself hating the writing or rolling my eyes while reading , which has what turns me off from a lot of romance. I also liked that the side characters were pretty well established . Too often in romance side characters are just there for the sack of being there. They get quick mentions every now and again but after the two main leads get together they are too soon forgotten . That are the side characters are just there and do nothing for the story. Felt like in this that all the side characters had personalities of their own.

Now to what I didn't like. What drew me into this was of course the book club element and to be honest just felt like that aspect was underused or just not used in the way I was expecting. Just felt at times it was just there and more often honestly forgotten about . Mentioning that is there are bits of the book that are from the book that that Gavin is reading. Books inside books can be done well and they can be done poorly . For this book felt like they were just sort of there . I would have loved if those chapters had underlines or sections marked out so it felt like you were reading Gavin's copy of the book. Just something. Otherwise they just felt sort of there again and oh look similar things in the book are actually happening to the characters. Honestly if you choose to skip those sections you really would miss anything and that is the thing . If you put something in it has to serve a purpose . Now Gavin commented on the book in the other chapters but again felt like you could read his comment without reading the sections from the book that came before and still been ok.

The sex..Oh ...just yeah. I get that sex scenes for romance and erotica are written way different but the sex scenes in romance is one of the top reasons I tend to avoid the genre. They were ok for what they were and thankfully they were not as cringy as they could have been and thankfully the author did not overdo it on euphemisms. Seriously drives me mad when authors go out of their way to avoid saying cock for instance. Young adult I get a bit more but seriously if a book is for adults I don't get the need for the overly flowery language. Least not in this day in age. Just it is not sexy to me personally and just feel it is silly. There were a few times here and there so the author is not totally immune to it but they were not so overused that they were distracting. Still even so the sex scenes were just sort of juvenile. I really disliked that these two adults sort of acted more like teenagers while having sex. And just some shocked dialogue in the middle of the sex scenes were so bad , ( The oh god's and oh fuck sort of things) Again ...just I will never get this sort of stuff. I don't even get it in romance where one or both have never had sex before. Especially not when it is adults. Just sadly see it too often and it is always distracting to me.

Another thing about most and this romance as well that are just not my cup of tea is the need to repeat over and over how attracted they both are to the other. Once or twice ..fine. Just like the reader should get that the characters are attracted to each other without having to have it repeated to it over and over. As stated before the characters didn't always feel like adults to me . Certain things just made them feel more like teens than two grown adults with kids. Thankfully it didn't happen so much that it ruined my reading experience but it is there from time to time.

Also the big issue in this book and how it is resolved just doesn't really make much logical sense. At the start of the book and hell in the summary , a big fact is made that Thea has been faking it in bed. Now with the book I get Gavin being able to say "the right" thing as way to make his wife fall back in love with me but I just don't buy it that chessy romance books would turn you from not realizing you can't make your wife cum to turning you into a sex god, which by the end is what happens. Now I do buy that books on sex (not romance books but actually books about sex, sex positions etc ) can help couples try things that can make them better lovers . Here,though, is the thing you actually have to try the things out a few times. Not be oh I read this thing in a book omg I am going to try this and be amazing at it. If that is the case than go you . Just Gavin is given a month to make his wife not want to divorcee him and again he goes from not being able to make her cum to by the end making her cum several times in a single love making session. Yeah, sorry not sorry , don't buy it. Not with what he had to work with and also because at the point they had been close but had not had sex at all during the course of the book til that moment.

Another thing that bugged me is that toward the end Gavin and Thea have a pretty serious fight to the point that Gavin leaves again. Now to be fair my issue is not about the fight. Thought it was pretty bold of the author to have a fight at the end. Shows that even if things seem ok that they are never perfect. No , my issue is how the fight is resolved because it is resolved with the romance cliche that I personally hate the most :The grand gesture. It's that scene in a romance novel, though, more so in romantic comedies when one of the main characters is running through the airport to catch the flight the other is on or running to the church to stop a wedding . To me they make no logical sense, they are stupid to watch and read and just feel lazy. There is a tiny joke about it made by one of the characters, but still Gavin and his group of friends are able to stop a flight so Gavin can get off the plane so he can go to Thea's father's wedding to whatever wife he marrying (the father has remarried quite a few times) . Again I get that a lot of things in romance don't always make sense but no matter how it is written I will also hate/dislike these sort of grand gesture moments. I don't find them sweet more so I find these stupid and annoying.

Overall though even with the things I did not like was still one of the better romance novels that I have read. I still wish the actual book club aspect had played a bigger role. Am still interested to read the next one in the series.

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review 2019-12-31 23:23
Victor LaValle's Destroyer - Dietrich Smith,Victor LaValle

This is a really interesting take on the Frankenstein story. It focuses in on the nature of monstrousness and uses the old familiar story to say some interesting things on themes of race and family. The art is striking, full of reds and sweeping brush strokes, and fits well with the story being told. A really solid addition to the Frankenstein mythos and standalone graphic novel in its own right.

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review 2019-12-21 03:40
The Walls of Jericho, by Paul I. Wellman (c) 1947
The Walls of Jericho - Paul I. Wellman

Disclosure: I obtained the hard cover book club edition of this book from my father's and/or grandparents' collection.  I never knew the author nor had any communication with him.  I am an author of historical romances (including western Americana), contemporary gothic romance, and miscellaneous non-fiction.


The Walls of Jericho was one of those book club edition books on my dad's shelves that I discovered in my early teens and immediately fell in love with. 



I'm not sure that at that age I completely understood everything that was going on in the book, but subsequent readings over the years never really changed my impression.  I consider it on a par with Brat Farrar: perfectly executed down to the finest details.


I included what appears to be a typical late 1940s cover on another post, and here it is again, for context.



The reader in possession of the dust-jacketed copy would immediately understand this is early 20th century by the motor cars.  But without the dust jacket, even the book club edition contains the setting, and the tone of the book's environment.  I found my old copy today, and scanned the endpapers.



The book itself is a little fragile, so the scan isn't as good as I'd have liked, but I think the impression is clear of the small town in the rural Midwest. 


Wellman gives his readers one more insight into the story's overall environment with a short introductory note and disclaimer:



I grew up with books like this, whether they had their dust jackets or not.  And later with paperbacks that had illustrated covers and little notes from the authors at the beginning, so the reader always had a hint about the book.


I think this is something too many of today's self-publishing authors don't take into consideration.  Whether it's a result of writing sites like Wattpad or fanfiction writing, I don't know, but the example of Yvonthia Leland's catastrophe seems to indicate that not being a reader familiar with the traditional book product leaves the writer at a serious disadvantage.  It's not enough to write a story and then publish it.  There's more to preparing the product that's going to be put on sale to the public. 


So after all that packaging, what's the product like in this case?


I put The Walls of Jericho in my personal fiction canon for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost because it's an excellent story.  The young lawyer David Constable comes to Jericho, Kansas, to set up his practice.  He makes friends with the publisher of the town's newspaper, Tucker Wedge, and between the two of them they shape Jericho's future.  Not consciously, of course, not deliberately, but that's just the way things happen to happen.  They begin as strangers who become friends, then they become rivals.


The second reason The Walls of Jericho became one of my most-reread books was that it's such a terrific study of characters.  On the surface, the narrative is about Kansas, about rural western Kansas that's very different from the eastern part of the state with its capital city and other metropolises.  But the landscape, for all its harshness, is really just another character playing a role along with the human beings on the stage.  Sometimes she's the villain, sometimes she's the hero.


The third reason, or maybe it's a secondary reason to the second reason, is the way Wellman played his women characters.  Although one of his biographers complains that writing women is one of Wellman's weaknesses, I have to disagree, at least in terms of the women in this book.  They are strikingly different -- Belle and Algeria and Julia and Margie, among others -- and yet they aren't caricatures or flat, two-dimensional stereotypes.


Or at least they don't come across that way.


If there's a weakness in the women characters, there is even more so in the male characters.  Dave is almost too honorable to be believable, but he's made believable by the way the other personalities play off him.  He and Tucker begin as equals, but that's not good enough for Tucker . . . or for Tucker's wife.  Algeria is stronger than Tucker and yet she knows she is also weaker.  Belle Dunham is much weaker than the men in Jericho, but she is also stronger.  What intrigues me on a much later reading of the book is how aware the women are of their contradiction, and how unaware the men are.


Or most of them anyway.  At least for a while.


After my first reading of The Walls of Jericho in the early 1960s, I probably reread it a dozen or so times into the early 1980s.  I don't think I've read it all the way through, cover to cover, since moving to Arizona in 1985.  The book and its cast of characters must have stuck with me even more than I remembered.  Just this afternoon, after finding my poor, worn, slightly water-stained book club copy, I got quite a jolt.


The county attorney, "a waddling, fat-faced, fat-nosed man, with piggy-shrewd eyes and a nondescript mustache," had an embarrassingly familiar name.


Over the course of this afternoon, I've skimmed through parts of the book, probably for the first time in 30 years or more.  Tonight I'm going to relax in bed with it.  I think I carried a 40-pound bag of dog food just a little too far this morning and I'm getting the expected back spasms.  Time to take an extra ibuprofen and pamper myself.

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review 2019-12-16 00:15
Fan Cast: The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick
The Mother-Daughter Book Club - Heather Vogel Frederick

Emma Hawthorne - Bailee Madison

Megan Wong - Tiffany Espensen

Cassidy Sloane - Annalise Basso

Jess Delaney - Sabrina Carpenter

Phoebe Hawthorne - Mayim Bialik

Lily Wong - Ming-Na Wen

Clementine Sloane - Gwendoline Christie

Shannon Delaney - Sasha Alexander

Becca Chadwick - G. Hannelius

Zach Norton - Matt Cornett

Cranfield "Third" Bartlett III - Kolton Stewart

Ethan MacDonald - Nolan Gould

Stewart Chadwick - Joey Bragg

Calliope Chadwick - Melissa McCarthy

Nicholas Hawthorne - Alessandro Nivola

Darcy Hawthorne - Colin Ford

Jerry Wong - Donnie Yen

Michael Delaney - Paul Lieberstein

Courtney Sloane - Skyler Samuels

Ashley Sanborn - Auli'i Cravalho

Jen Webster - Genneya Walton

Dr. Weisman - Peter Hermann

Kyle Anderson - Skyler Gisondo

Wolfgang - Alan Cumming

Isabelle d'Azur - Isla Fisher

Fred Goldburg - Jim Parsons

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