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review 2014-11-19 23:39
Adam Mansbach - pure genius!
You Have to F*****g Eat - Adam Mansbach,Owen Brozman
Go the Fuck to Sleep - Adam Mansbach,Ricardo Cortés

Adam Mansbach writes what I (and perhaps he) would describe as "alternative children's books".  The man is fucking brilliant.  

 

Yes, I said "fucking".  If you can't get past the profanity, you are not the target audience for these books.

 

These books are for everyone who has ever loved a child beyond reason.  These books are also for everyone who has ever watched their own child, or someone else's precious darling, disintegrate into Satan's spawn before their very eyes.  

 

Sometimes you just have to let it out.  You can't be perfect every second of every day.  There are a thousand wrong ways to parent, but no idiot-proof way to get it right.  And I say this as a non-parent who couldn't do your job for five seconds!

 

Mr. Mansbach reminds us that we are all so very human, and yeah, sometimes we lose it.    And, my sister's warnings notwithstanding, my adorable nieces will NOT be scarred for life if they hear the word "fuck" now and again.  After all, they're allowed to watch Daddy watch football, right?  :-)

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review 2014-08-06 16:57
N is for New-To-You Authors
Jellicoe Road - Melina Marchetta

This book.

This book.

 

The only reason I kept reading past the hundredth page was because I kept telling myself that if I paid a week’s worth of savings for a book, I was damn well going to finish it.

 

Jellicoe Road was frustrating, confusing and its narrative was deliberately hard to follow. I found the main character, Taylor Markham, unlikeable and she had a tendency to wallow in self-pity.  

 

And yet. And yet this book made me cry without even knowing the reason why, it made me ache for the main characters, it made me remember all the friends I had as a child. The ones who I made treehouses with, explored new places with, the ones that made me feel as if I was invincible.  

 

Taylor’s development throughout the book was one of the best I’ve read.

 

Really, this is all just the long way of saying, “I have no idea what to feel about this book”.

 

Jellicoe Road is a strange book. But it is also strangely beautiful.

 

Reading it felt less like reading a book and more like getting to know a person. Namely, Taylor who was abandoned by her mother when she was eleven-years-old. I need to give kudos to Melina Marchetta, who used the first-person narrative to great effect; Taylor’s narration revealed just how much her mother’s abandonment affected her. She made for a sullen and cynical narrator, she was snobbish and rude to her peers. But she was also desperate for affection, and afraid to trust because she thinks that she’ll be hurt again.

 

Taylor’s thoughts were often chaotic, cycling between wanting to be left alone to wanting to be held dear by someone, specifically by Hannah, her caretaker. All this made Taylor’s character, that of a confused and hurt teenager, all the more believable.

This wasn’t always a good thing, though. This kind of prose made the story hard to follow. The reader was given absolutely nothing to go on at the beginning of the story, presumably because the narrator, Taylor, already knew all the things that the reader wasn't privy to.

 

While it made sense that a character who already knows about territory wars won’t go into internal explanations about them, it also made for a muddled beginning.

 

The first chapter was basically just me going: Who are the Cadets? Who are the Townies? What are the rules? What part of Jellicoe belongs to which faction?

 

It took too long before these questions were actually answered, and by the time they were answered, I didn’t care about the questions anymore.

 

But it gets better, as much as that sounds like an excuse, it gets better.

As I read further and further into the book, it felt like I was painstakingly peeling away the many layers that made up Taylor Markham. Jellicoe Road was at its most fascinating when Taylor’s barriers come down and the reader was allowed to see into her thoughts, her insecurities, when she was at her rawest and most vulnerable. These were the times were I just had to put down the book to cry, because Taylor felt so painfully human, because I saw a bit of myself in her.

 

The book had a weak plot, but its characters more than made up for it.

Its strength lay in its characters, both major and minor ones. I never really cared about territory wars and the mystery of Hannah had a way of fading into the background, but I wanted to know more about Taylor, about her relationship with Jonah Griggs, her friendship with Ben and Raffy. Melina Marchetta’s characters were wonderfully three-dimensional, complex and they resonate. These are the type of characters that made it hard for me to close the book and say goodbye.

 

But as much as I wanted to give this book five stars, I can’t. A five star read, for me, shouldn’t be frustrating or confusing. It shouldn’t make me feel as if reading was a chore, no matter how much later chapters made up for it. This book wasn’t perfect, but it had that something that gripped me as a reader, the same something that had me reading it until 3 am in the morning, that made me laugh and cry and feel for these characters.

 

I purchased this book on a whim, because I felt that I needed to read something “different”, and Melina Marchetta certainly delivered.

 

Note:

The original title of this book was "On the Jellicoe Road" but my cover simply said "Jellicoe Road". I have no idea where the "On the" part of the title went. 

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url 2014-07-15 21:58
#WordCrimes

Genius.

 

(AND an effective way to banish the awful memories of the source material)

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text 2014-07-10 00:56
Reading progress update: I've read 11 out of 326 pages.
Sixth Grave on the Edge - Darynda Jones

Only 11 pages in and I'm already putting the stench of that last book I read behind me. *takes in deep breath* Ahhhh!! Like a fresh summer breeze clearing away the lingering smell of a rotting critter in the tall grass.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-01-13 05:53
W is for Wind (this book blew me away)
Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

There’s really no getting around it, this book handles a subject that pushes a lot of peoples’ buttons: pedophalia. What amazes me, however, is the vast array of reactions towards the book. It’s not just “ew no” or “you just don’t understand it”. I’ve seen the relationship between Humbert Humbert, a thirty-five-year-old man and Dolores Haze, a twelve-year-old girl described  as “hearbreakingly beautiful” or “true love gone wrong” or how it was about “the corruption of a weak man by a sick child”.

 

These descriptions made me hesitate reading this book, but I'm glad that I took the plunge. Nabokov’s beautiful writing swept me away, he made me think, he made me ask questions.

How old does a child have to be before they start exhibiting sexual urges?

Dolores Haze, all of twelve-years-old, had confessed to Humbert that she had had sex in summer camp with one of the boys there, and this confession was instrumental to Humbert's seduction (if you can call it that).


Was it really love that Humbert felt for Dolores Haze?

 

This was an important subject, as Humbert, keeps emphasizing that what he felt for Dolores Haze wasn't just lust, it was love. 

However, he himself admits that he will stop loving Dolores once she stopped being a “nymphet”, as evidenced by the quote, 

“I knew I had fallen in love with Lolita forever; but I also knew she would not be forever Lolita.”

Was that love, then? 
Will we stop loving someone when they reach a certain age? When their skin starts to sag or when their wrinkles start to become noticeable, will we stop loving them? Will they be any different from the person they were back then? Did aging make them cruel? Stupid?

What Humbert felt for Dolores was lust, pure and simple. You don’t stop loving a person just because they aged, but Humbert admitted that he’ll stop loving Dolores when she stopped being a nymphet. That is, when she stopped being a girl and started growing into a teen.

 

Even his petname for her—Lolita—showed how much he loved the idea of her, the idea of a child to subject to his whims. It wasn't love, I doubt that Humbert even knew the real Dolores enough to love her. He lusted after Dolores, but what he loved was Lolita, an image of what he thought was the perfect partner: forever young, forever twelve-years-old, submissive to his desires...and a product of his own mind.

But the clincher for me, the Great Headache, was how Dolores seemed to respond to Humbert's advances. In fact, the original seduction was initiated by Dolores.

Was it right, then, when Humbert decided to act on his desires? To take to bed a twelve-year-old? Can it be considered rape when Dolores was so willing?

This was the point that I had to stop reading, for I was starting to feel slightly ill. Sex with a child? No. Simply NO.
I don't think that an adult, no matter how willing the child, should EVER initiate intercourse with a kid. Who's to say that they really know what it entails? Isn't it an adult's responsibility to protect and be responsible for a child (after all, Humbert was Dolores' guardian)?

How can Dolores herself know what she's talking about?

That's when I realized just how deeply Nabokov (and by extension, Humbert) has fooled me. 

The whole story was narrated by Humbert and as my old professor told me, people will always portray themselves in the best light.

Suddenly the book made so much sense.

Everything from his unconsummated childhood love to Dolores' seemingly spoiled, bitchy attitude was written so that I, the reader, would symphatize with Humbert. 

The book was filled with explanations, excuses and rationalizations of a very sick man, a sick man who wanted to explain away and be pitied for his actions. He wasn't corrupt--no, it was Dolores who corrupted him. Dolores was the one who seduced him, after all. He was just the poor man who was taken advantage of, always buying her gifts and bowing to her demands. But even that seemed to have ulterior motives to it—I got the feeling that Humbert was treating Dolores like a prostitute, giving her gifts in exchange for sexual favors, essentially paying her for intercourse. It was especially telling how he would usually give her the gifts after he raped her. 


Even the way almost all the character were one-dimensional seemed to make sense. Everyone other than Humbert was one-dimensional: they were either stupid or spiteful or cruel or hopelessly spoiled (like Dolores). In fact, the only ones that showed any depths were Humbert himself (of course) and Dolores, near the end of the book, when Humbert finally saw her for what she was. She was damaged and broken, no longer Lolita, but he loved her and that made her seem whole to him.


It wasn't that everyone was one-dimensional or the world was against Humbert, it was that Humbert himself was such a hateful egomaniac that he considered a lot of people below him, not worth attention and unable to show any real substance.

Dolores herself also came into question: was she really the bratty child Humbert made her out to be? 


Perhaps she was simply a victim of Humbert's writing. There were also several times that she tried to escape Humbert, but could not, because she knew as much as Humbert knew that she had nowhere to go. She wasn't this man's lover; she was his prisoner.

Lolita didn't read like a love story gone wrong, it read like the imprisonment and repeated rape of a child by someone who should have genital organs removed. But I was impressed how Nabokov made me think that it was the former for nearly half the entire book.

This was when I decided that I loved Lolita, and Nabokov for writing it.

This book, to me, read like it was more about words than anything. It showed how words can fool you as much as enchant you, at how they can hide stories as much as tell them. I loved how the book seemed to reference that at the end,

 

I am thinking of aurochs and angels, the secret of durable pigment, prophetic sonnets, the refuge of art. And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita".

 

This book deserves four and a half happy pandas!

photo PandaStars_zps0641c1c5.png

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