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review 2018-05-21 11:52
The Virgin Suicides - Jeffrey Eugenides,Nick Landrum

The Virgin Suicides just like Truman Capote's Breakfast at Tiffany's pleasantly surprised me. I have seen the film many years ago and I remember the feeling of nostalgia settling in after the film has ended. (I think Josh Hartnett's dreamy eyes played a part in it. ;) ) I found the book does the same. A well-constructed storytelling draws you into the adolescent impressionable world - dealing with growing up, falling in love and dying. The novel doesn't answer questions. Instead, the novel makes you want to cross the street from the boys' spying place to the Lisbons' house, knock on the door and ask, 'What is happening inside?'


The story is a reminisce of a grown man and is told from the collective first-person of teen-aged boys (I think there are 7 of them, I tried to count) who are obsessed with the enigmatic Lisbon sisters: Therese, Mary, Bonnie, Lux and Cecilia. Cecilia is the first one to attempt and complete suicide setting in motion series of various responses from neighbours and schoolmates. Her suicide stirs up the sleepy neighbourhood, confronts them and makes them deal with emotions and feelings that are suppressed due to being unacceptable in social circles. While the remaining sisters are attempting to move on with their lives - they too are confronted with social pressure and parental restriction. How do they escape?


The novel's narrative is stylistically flowing. This uncomplicated language adds to the emptiness of the beautiful world around when dealing with macabre events. The novel does not claim to be omniscient, but its memories are fragile just like the sisters.


One can discuss and draw so many different issues and themes from the novel that I think it would be perfect for any literary essay. One thing did surprise me that at the end, after having walked the reader through the story, the author calls the act of suicide "simple selfishness". My understanding that even as an adult, the narrator is still dealing with personal guilt and consciousness. 


Brilliant read. A must.


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review 2018-01-08 16:25
When the Fire Wanes
The Gods of Guilt - Michael Connelly

So I really did enjoy this one, but thought the angst that Haller was dealing with was ridiculous. I also wish that Connelly had showed us Haller running for the DA's office and how the scandal affected him in the moment. We are hearing about events from about a year ago in the series and it just drove me up the wall we didn't get to experience it. 


Haller is down and out in this one. He has returned to drinking, and seems to be going through the motions. Haller lost trying to run as a DA after a former client of his ends up killing someone close to Hayley and Maggie. Haller is blamed and just gets destroyed at the polls. What's worse is that Hayley and even Maggie barely speak to him anymore. He hasn't seen his daughter in a year, and when he does see Maggie at the courthouse she turns and goes in another direction. Haller keeps seeing his father's old partner (called Legal) who is doing his best to get Haller to get over his shit and get back to defending his clients. A fire has gone out in Haller and everyone can see it.

When Haller gets a call to defend a man who is charged with killing a prostitute, Haller is curious how his name was brought up. The ties into the case that first brought us Haller (The Lincoln Lawyer) was pretty fantastic. Haller starts to get back a little of what he lost in the preceding year and even gets a love interest in this one (that I ended up feeling sorry for throughout). 


Haller is ready to take down the dragon in this one since he realizes that he truly has a client that is innocent, problem is that there are many that want him to go to jail since it would bring up a lot of corruption. 


We have Haller get put in harm's way and we lose a character that I loved. Haller talks about the personal jury that judges us all in the end, and I feel for him. He's definitely got his groove back by the end of the book. But what comes before definitely changes him. 


We get recurring characters in this one. We have Lorna judging Haller a lot in this one. I wish we had some more dialogue between these two since Haller acts way too much like her husband at times and she is angry at Haller too.

We have a Bosch sighting (seriously though it's weird Bosch was all blase about his half brother almost being killed) that made me shrug a bit.

The court room scenes still are my favorite parts of this series.


The ending leaves Haller at a type of peace for the moment. 

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review 2017-08-30 00:03
My Review of Admission of Guilt
Admission of Guilt - T.V. LoCicero

Admission of Guilt by T.V. LoCicero is the second book in The detroit im dyin Trilogy. It can be read as a stand alone. When a 13 year old girl is shot and killed, her teacher, John Giordano, takes matters in his own hands to do something about the drugs in her neighborhood.


I thought the premise was interesting, but the execution to pull this story together was a bit flat. I would start a chapter, and for a few paragraphs I wouldn't know which character the author was referring to. It threw my reading off a bit. Also, there were several grammatical errors, but I looked over this because I wanted to know the outcome.


I received a free ebook from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-08-01 22:02
For discerning readers who enjoy books about the human condition
A Horse Walks into a Bar: A novel - David Grossman,Jessica Cohen

Thanks to NetGalley and to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing, Jonathan Cape for providing me with an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

This is the first book I’ve read by David Grossman. I hope it won’t be the last.

The description probably gives a fair idea of the plot. Yes, we are in Netanya, Israel, and we are spectators of the act of a stand-up comedian, Dovelah Greenstein (or Dov G.). He is 57 years old (as he repeatedly reminds us through the evening), skinny (almost emaciated), and seems to become increasingly desperate as the night goes. He tells jokes, anecdotes, makes comments about the city, the spectators, Jews (yes, the self-deprecation readers of Philip Roth, for example, will be familiar with), says some politically incorrect things, tells a number of jokes (some really funny, some odd, some quite old), and insists on telling us a story about his childhood, despite the audience’s resistance to listening to it.

The beauty (or one of them) of the novel, is the narrator. Yes, I’m back to my obsession with narrators. The story is told in the first-person by Avishai Lazar, a judge who was unceremoniously removed from his post when he started becoming a bit too vocal and opinionated in his verdicts. The two characters were friends as children, and Dov calls Avishai asking him to attend his performance. His request does not only come completely out of the blue (they hadn’t seen each other since they were in their teens), but it is also quite weird. He does not want a chat, or to catch up on old times. He wants the judge to tell him what he sees when he looks at him. He wants him to tell him what other people see, what essence they perceive when they watch him. Avishai, who is a widower and still grieving, is put-off by this and reacts quite rudely, but eventually, agrees.

Although the novel is about Dov’s performance and his story (his need to let it all hang out, to explain his abuse but also his feeling of guilt about a personal tragedy), that is at times light and funny, but mostly sad and even tragic, he is not the character who changes and grows the most during the performance (his is an act of exorcism, a way of getting rid of his demons). For me, the story, sad and depressing as it can be at times (this is not a book for everybody, and I suspect many readers will empathise with quite a few of the spectators who leave the performance before it ends), is ultimately about redemption. Many narrators have told us in the past (The Great Gatsby, Heart of Darkness) that in telling somebody else’s story, they are also telling their own. This is indeed the case here. The judge (at first we don’t know who is narrating the story, but we get more and more details as the performance advances) is very hostile at first and keeps wondering why he is there, and wanting to leave. But at some point, the rawness, the determination, and the sheer courage of the comedian, who keeps going no matter how difficult it gets, break through his protective shell and he starts to question his own actions and his life. If this might be Dev’s last performance, in a way it is a beginning of sorts, especially for the judge.

Readers become the ersatz club audience, and it is very difficult to stop watching something that is so extreme and desperate, but it is also difficult to keep watching (or reading) as it becomes more and more painful. It is as if we were spectators in a therapy session where somebody is baring his soul. We feel as if we are intruding on an intimate moment, but also that perhaps we are providing him with some comfort and support to help him go through the process. Although other than the two main characters we do not get to know the rest in detail, there are familiar types we might recognise, and there is also a woman who knew the comedian when he was a child and, perhaps, plays the part of the therapist (a straight faced one, but the one he needs).

The book is beautifully written and observed. Grossman shows a great understanding of psychology and also of group interactions. Although I am not an expert on stand-up comedy, the dynamics of the performance rang true to me. I cannot compare it to the original, but the translation is impressive (I find it difficult to imagine anybody could do a better job, and if the original is even better, well…).

As I said before, this is not a book for everybody. Although it is quite short, it is also slow and intense (its rhythm is that of the performance, which ebbs and flows). None of the characters (except, perhaps, the woman) are immediately sympathetic, and they are flawed, not confident enough or too confident and dismissive, over-emotional or frozen and unable to feel, and they might not seem to have much in common with the reader, at first sight. This is not a genre book (literary fiction would be the right label, if we had to try and give it one), there is no romance (or not conventional romance), no action, no heroes or heroines, and not much happens (a whole life happens, but not in the usual sense). If you are interested in characters that are real in their humanity (for better and for worse), don’t mind a challenge, and want to explore something beyond the usual, I recommend you this book.

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review 2016-09-14 16:53
Oh, baby, you are so sick...
Father Figure - Guilt Pleasure,TogaQ,Kichiku Neko

Oh, baby, you are so sick.

Some characters are not built in order to be loved. They are supposed to be rejected, to be disgusting, to be considered monsters.

Gabriel is composed of that intrinsically dark matter real monsters are made. Rapists. Torturers. Murderers. People who don't feel guilt. Or enjoy making people suffer disregarding the other person's integrity and existence as a human being. Antisocial personality disorder, that sort of issues. Or what people usually know as 'psychos'. It's not that he enjoys hurting or humiliating people for the sake of it. He just doesn't stop to ponder whether or not his obsession or actions are bordering on insanity, and if he did, it would not be a matter to worry about, because he has already made up his mind. He wants it and the only question is how to get it. That's all. The prospect of whether or not the other person has the right to say something in the matter is just absent. He loves his father, in all the sense of the word, and that's all the permission he needs, notwithstanding what his very own father wants or doesn't want.

He knows the rules, he knows how to fit into society, he knows how to play the role. He knows them in order to know how to skip and avoid them. He's not sorry, he doesn't feel regrets, not because he doesn't want to, but because they simply don't exist. He doesn't feel what he does is morally bad, not been what that means. However, he hasn't lost the grasp on reality. He knows his obsession is one to be hidden, one society would ever accept, but he's apart from all of that, rules are beneath him, there is no reason why he should give up on it.

The love for his father deems irresistible and he only wants to revel in it, to achieve it no matter the cost, even if he destroys it by acting upon it. The ends are so compelling he doesn't even try to give any resistance. The means are only a nuisance, something he's forced to go through but which don't strike him as something to consider even for a moment. Not only to consider if they are justified or not, bad or good. Just, not worth to waste your time in even thinking in them.

You just want it. Everything else is irrelevant.

His voice is intriguingly seductive. It's not often we get to be inside the rawness of the mentally unstable antihero's head. It lures you into a trap. You resist but you cannot help it. You fall for him since the very beginning, since the very hint he's not exactly alright. He doesn't want to win your heart, he just states a fact with his creepily unashamed outlook on things, and you go for it.

You not only feel empathy, you even feel sympathy, for him. Compassion. Comprehension. Protectiveness.

The writing is so clever, so subtle and delicate, that you realize it's happening in front of your very eyes, since the very first scene, and you still take the bait nonetheless, disgusted and fascinated in equal parts.

There is beauty in perversion.

That's when you feel embarrassed because despite his own lack of humanity, you find out you are able to feel such things for him. To suffer for him. The need to comfort him. To love him. To save him from all harm.

And what does it say about you?

Nothing good. You are a sick bastard, too.

Gabriel is sick and twisted, and so much so. You are pushed out of your comfort zone constantly, being forced to witness his utter enthrallment for one person and one person only. Not a person per se, but the idea of a person.

The idea of a father.

You are repulsed to no end by what he does and how he does it and the reasons why he does it are so childish and strikingly tender he tempts you to forgive him. He's as tantalizing as that, a handsome devil who shows his own nakedness to the reader. He displays his true vulnerability with the most depraved of acts, with the most destructive of loves. He shatters his object of devotion and he shatters himself in the process, but that is collateral damage. It's a tragedy, but the alternative of letting go, of giving a different closure, it even more fateful. So, no secondary roads. His underdeveloped emotional sphere takes the reins of the situation and leaves all stability and sensibility behind. He is aware there is a expiration date but he does nothing to prevent it. He looks forward to it, even.

But the worst thing is, people around him are not immune.

Not even you.

The compulsion is stronger.

Awesome read.

The illustrations are incredible and so disturbingly erotic. Kudos.

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