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review 2018-09-13 06:03
The Trench [Meg #2] by Steve Alten
The Trench - Steve Alten

***Trigger warning: Rape is mentioned, along with the person being tortured, there were two attempted rape scenes, one quite graphic and incest. I am sorry if you think these are spoilers, but I rather spoil someone than have someone be triggered.***

Repeated phrases, telling, not showing, treatment of woman, misogyny, mention of rape & torture and 2 attempted rapes, one pretty graphic & incest: these are some of the things that make me not enjoy the book as much, some more on an annoyance level and others quite a bit more serious.

 

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The author needs a better editing team. If Jonas feels his temper flaring one more time, I'm going to scream, and just how many times can a person flash a smile, or flash their eyes in anger, flash this, flash that....? "For a surreal moment" is also used many times. Once you notice the repetitiveness, it is almost impossible not to notice, which brings you out of the story. Most of the scenes are written through telling and hardly any showing, which is dull.

Too many characters. I gave up trying to keep track of them. 99% were not important, just written in to be killed.

I like how Masao treats Jonas as a true son and not a son-in-law. They have a couple sweet father-son moments. The actions scenes were suspenseful. I truly felt Terry's terror as she goes through the stuff she went through. There are a couple characters I hated so much and admit, I was hoping they would die, so Steve Alten is good at writing characters you hate.

I do plan on reading more, but I don't think this one is going to go down as one of my most liked.

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review 2018-09-12 23:21
Superbly written novel based on the tragic true story of young Italian painter Artemesia Gentileschi
Blood Water Paint - Joy McCullough

My newly-formed little book club said they wanted a book possibly with poetry or essays, so this was one of my selections. I knew Joy McCullough’s book came with glowing reviews and it had been on my TBR for a while, but I wasn’t quite prepared for what I was about to read.

‘Blood Water Paint’, based on the true but heartbreaking story of the iconic young Italian painter Artemesia Gentileschi, literally took my breath away. 

 

Reading a novel based in verse (with some portions written in regular prose) with historical facts at its core, was quite new to me, and thank goodness for those mental (natural) breaks that came with the way it’s written, because it was one of the most astounding accounts of rape and incest I have ever read. This may well be based in Rome in 1610 and written in a way that doesn’t reveal certain details of such events as a reader may be used to reading, but I would still put up a big, red flag for a trigger warning. I had to put down the book for a breather about halfway through because of the tragic events unfolding within the pages. It is brutal, heart-breaking, and so emotional.

 

Artemesia was such a talented artist, but she and other women - within the book, we also learn the stories of both Susanna and Judith - basically had no rights or the right to an opinion in those days; women were stoned to death, and other brutal punishments were served at the hands of men who saw women as property. Artemesia’s father sees his own daughter as such, having her do the paintings and call them his own, and turns a blind eye to the events in this own home while he drinks after his wife/her mother dies. It’s hard to read such things, but throughout, Artemesia stays adamant that she will persevere and not let these men steal her ability to show her truth on the canvas. 

 

It’s uncanny that the ‘me too’ movement resonates so strongly when reading a book like this, but four centuries later we shouldn’t be having to make the comparisons, perhaps. I was so moved by this book, and by my own experience, and I hope many young women reach for this book and get a discussion going. I’m looking forward to our book club meeting; this isn’t ‘light poetry fare’ by any means, and this book SHOULD spark a lot of conversation. Artemesia’s life (and many others) shouldn’t be in vain, for these experiences are too common place. 

 

A note on the writing: Joy McCullough, as a debut author, has written a masterpiece. She wrote this as a play and then adapted it to be read as a book in this form. It’s masterful, and so beautiful to read. Since she’s local to Seattle, I’m happy to say she will be at the book club that will be meeting today; I’m glad we connected. I can’t wait for our group discussion. Absolutely superbly written. 

 

**Update: Congratulations go out to Joy for the announcement that Blood Water Paint is on the long list for the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

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review 2018-09-04 22:39
Not what I expected, but I could not stop reading
Strangers on a Train - Patricia Highsmith

I think I enjoyed this one exactly for the same reasons everyone disliked it: the characters were so messed up it was nerve-wreaking to read.

 

I've likely commented many times before how I love those books that engage me enough for me to get emotional over the characters, even if it is rage enough to want to strangle them, and that's pretty much what happens here. Bruno is a messed up cookie, and Guy is a derrotist moron, and that's what drives the slide-down-the-slope plot.

 

There is the thing too. I think most people think this will be something that is not. It is not a mystery. It is not a heist type of book of two guys planning perfect murders. What it is, is the very, very, very messed up relationship between a sociopath and a coward. The murders are just the thing that binds them and the theme is something like "all the wrong choices". While it made most dislike the book, it made me want to bitch-slap Guy and continue to read the train-wreak.

 

I think Highsmith was trying for this high-minded "either guilt or law will punish" poetic thing at the end, but it felt like an unnecessary convolution that made me go "NOW you find your spine/brain/cold-thinking to live with your actions, you moron", which, yeah, OK, poetic irony or something but... 4 stars

 

 

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review 2018-08-11 22:25
'Sadie' has an inventive approach and is an emotional read; you won't forget this character or book for a while
Sadie - Courtney Summers

This is a wildly inventive and brave thriller, one that weaves ‘Sadie’s’ story, in which a teenage girl tries to find the man who has killed her beloved sister Mattie, together with a ‘podcast’ called ‘The Girls’. The two writing devices make this a refreshing read, and now with the podcasts actually streaming (yes, in real life), Courtney Summers and Macmillan have made this book a living breathing thing.

 

The book feels so 'alive', that you almost forget that Sadie (who has had a tough life: she has a stutter, her sister has been murdered, her addict mother has left) is missing. Author Courtney Summers opens the book with: 'Girls go missing all the time', so we may think of our main character as just a number, but then we are challenged when we are forced to get to know this young girl and so we start to have emotions towards her as we read the book.

 

Sadie wants to find the man who killed her little sister Mattie, and through both Sadie's perspective as she goes from buying a car so she can leave the tiny town of Cold Creek, to the shocking and emotional end of the book, along with 'The Girls' podcast as recorded by West McCray, this is a great big hunt; it's a hunt to find this man, a hunt to find Sadie, a hunt for the truth. There are lots of characters along the way that West speaks to, who knew the girls, their mother, who have made assumptions, as he tries to find the truth and get to Sadie, and he uncovers a tragic home life, and uncovers what likely many runaways and abused children go through each and every day beyond these pages. Sadie becomes more than just a vigilante seeking retribution for her sister; she is a tragic character who represents that 'lost little girl', the scared abused teenager on-the-run.

*Needless to say, many push-button issues come up in this book: child abuse, pedophilia, addiction, so there may be some readers who need to stay away for those reasons.

 

I left this book with a big hole in my heart, knowing that the issues contained within are real, even if the story isn't, even if Sadie isn't a real girl who went looking for her sister with all that love in her heart. The final two pages had me crying and smiling at the same time, and even with a bit of an open end (be warned, if you don't like those - I happen to love them), 'Sadie' finishes perfectly. Kudos to Courtney (and Macmillan) for bringing Sadie to life.

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review 2018-07-30 18:35
Whodunit: Horror edition
The Outsider - Stephen King

The Outsider is the newest notch in the belt of one of the most prolific writers of supernatural horror, Stephen King. It's been a good long while since I've sunk my teeth into a King novel but when I read the premise (and saw the ultra rad cover) I knew that it was time to take a bite. (That metaphor got away from me.) The very beginning launches the reader into a graphic description of the murder of an 11 year old boy named Frank Peterson. [A/N: As this is literally the first two pages I don't consider this a spoiler. I do want to point out that it is very graphic and involves a sexual element so if this is in any way triggering to you please steer clear.] It seems to be an open and shut case because of the preponderance of evidence which points directly to a prominent member of the community...who also happened to be the coach of the Chief Detective assigned to the case. Can anyone say conflict of interest? However, things are not so cut and dry because it turns out that this man has an alibi with witnesses. So how was he in two places at once? What next occurs is a roller-coaster of police procedural drama with a heaping dash of supernatural horror thrown in for good measure. I wrote tons of notes about this book after I had read it but because they are mainly about the plot and super spoiler-y I don't feel that I can enumerate them here. Suffice it to say that in trademark King style there are always more twists and turns just when you think there couldn't possibly be any more. I enjoyed it thoroughly right up until the very end which I felt was not up to King's usual standard. With that being said, I did really like it and immediately lent my copy to another coworker with my recommendation so I can't help but give it a 9/10.

 

What's Up Next: The Figure in the Shadows The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs

 

What I'm Currently Reading: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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