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text SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-19 14:54
Update - Things that should stay in the closet
The Sugar Queen - Sarah Addison Allen

I couldn't go to sleep last night, and The Sugar Queen was within reach.  Even though I had signed off on it, I needed something to settle my brain for a few minutes.

 

I opened to a random page, read a few lines, and nearly heaved this library book against the wall.

 

P. 126

 

Josey went to her purse on the chaise lounge and took out her checkbook.

 

 

I dislike books that contribute to the dumbing down of our language.

 

Of course, by then I was angry and even more awake, so I skimmed through some more of the book until I finally discovered the big secret.  Oh, give me a fucking break!  The main character, Josey, couldn't figure out that

the woman living [sic] in her closet was a ghost?

(spoiler show)

 

I guess maybe this sort of nonsense appeals to readers, since the author is very popular.  It doesn't appeal to me.  I'm glad I only wasted a half hour on the rest of this book.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-05-18 21:32
Chasing nonsense
The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen

This one lost a whole rating point simply because the title had no connection to the story.  I hate that.

 

Various spoilers abound, so be warned.

 

I borrowed the book from my local public library, and some previous borrower had done me a huge favor:  She (or he) had neatly underlined in pencil all the instances the author referred to a character tucking her loose hair behind her ear.  There were a lot of them.  Enough to be annoying.  While I chalk part of that up to lazy writing, I put more burden on the editors.  This wasn't a self-published Kindle book; the Bantam editors should have done a better job.

 

The four or five typos didn't bother me as much as the business with the hair.

 

The writing style struck me as more suited to a juvenile or young adult book, and maybe this would be classified as YA.  Some of the themes were definitely more adult, I thought, but I'm not an expert on what constitutes young adult versus adult fiction.  I just thought the author's style was choppy and sometimes awkward.  At least for me.

 

Emily Benedict's mother Dulcie has recently died, so Emily heads to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with Dulcie's father, Vance Shelby.  Vance, who is eight feet tall, lives on the ground floor of the old family mansion.  He welcomes Emily and tells her to take whichever room she wishes; she settles in her mother's old room.

 

It's the summer before her senior year in high school, and though Emily's education has been received at the Roxley School for Girls that her mother founded in Boston, she has no apprehension about meeting people in Mullaby, a small Southern town notable for its barbecue restaurants.  Within her first few days in Mullaby, Emily meets Win Coffey, a young man her own age, and Julia Winterson, who was a classmate of her mother's.  Julia owns one of the restaurants and bakes cakes for it.  She also takes Emily under her wing, so to speak.

 

So far, so good.  The characters were three-dimensionally solid, if quirky, and I didn't have any difficulty making them come alive in my mind.

 

BUT --

 

Everyone seems to have secrets that they aren't willing to share.  Some of the secrets involve what might be called magic.  This would be fine except that there's no reason given for not sharing these secrets.

 

Now, here's the big spoiler.

 

Emily's mother Dulcie had a romance going with Win Coffey's uncle, Logan Coffey.  Dulcie forced Logan to publicly divulge his family's deep, dark, horrible secret, after which Logan committed suicide.  The Coffey family blamed Dulcie for Logan's suicide, but now everyone in Mullaby knew the Coffey family secret.

 

No one, however, would tell Emily.  Her grandfather warned her to stay away from Win; Win's father wouldn't let the two teens see each other.  Julia knew the secret, but wouldn't tell Emily.  And even though he knew everyone in town knew the secret -- and therefore could tell Emily at any time -- Win procrastinated about telling her.  No one in town ever spoke of it, even though Win and his father Morgan were always out and about around town.

 

And what's the secret?  Why is it that the Coffey men have to be in the house before dark and can't go out again until the sun comes up?  Are they vampires or werewolves?

 

No, not vampires or werewolves.  They have a genetic disorder that makes them glow in the moonlight.  Yeah.

 

 

This was just so silly.  And everyone knew!  So what was the big deal?

 

Well, then there's the business with the wallpaper in Emily's bedroom.  It keeps changing.  First it was just pretty violets.  Then it turned into fluttering butterflies.  Then glittering stars.  And Emily never questions this?  Never asks her grandfather?  Never says anything to her friend Julia?  Nor is there ever explanation given as to why the magical wallpaper matters.

 

Julia, the baker of cakes, has her own little bit of magic, and hers is probably the best integrated to the story.  I liked Julia, and I liked her story of unrequited love, heartbreak, emotional abandonment, and finally her ambition as an adult to succeed against all odds.  Her backstory was also the most believable, the most uplifting, and the twist to her stepmother's revelation was the most emotionally satisfying part of the whole book.

 

If not for Julia, I might have given up on the book at about the 30% point.  Julia had emotional baggage.  The teen-aged Emily, though she had gone through a lot of emotional turbulence in her young life, didn't have the angst necessary to pull this reader in.  Julia did.

 

The silliness of the "magic" aspects of the book pulled its rating down another full point, but there was still another weakness that I couldn't get past: The author had difficulty making her male characters multi-dimensional.  Win was so sweet, and his insta-love for Emily was so precious.  His father was just the opposite, all bitterness and anger.  Even Grandfather Vance, the "gentle giant," was more a caricature than a character -- and his gigantism had no real relevance to the story.  The author just seemed to have stumbled across the fact of the early 20th century giant -- who died at age 22 and height of almost nine feet -- and decided, oh, this is cool, so I'll have a giant in my story.

 

Only Julia's love interest, the handsome Sawyer Alexander, was more than a cardboard figure.  He, too, had emotional baggage that developed slowly and carefully through the narrative, and his little bit of magic was, along with Julia's, crafted to be integral to the tale rather than grafted on.

 

Overall, a light, pleasant read with little substance other than Julia's story.  I wouldn't offer a positive recommendation, but it's not terrible, either.

 

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review 2017-05-15 18:03
Knots not worth untangling
The Lace Reader - Brunonia Barry

Copy obtained through local public library.  I don't know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter.

 

I began reading the book a couple of weeks ago, but only got a few pages into it before being interrupted.  I set it aside, then went back and started over when I was sure I would have more time.  By page 103 of 385, I knew the struggle wasn't going to be worth it.  I always think it's my fault that a book isn't working, so I checked out some of the other reviews -- I almost never read reviews before I read the book -- and found I wasn't alone.

 

No spoilers here, because I didn't finish the book and I'm not likely to.

 

Towner Whitney, whose real name is Sophya, comes back to Salem, Massachusetts, after 15 years in California.  Her grandmother/great-aunt Eva has disappeared.  I think Towner was raised by Eva, but I'm not sure.  Towner admits she lies a lot, and also that she doesn't remember things well because she had a nervous breakdown after her sister Lyndley died.

 

I think Towner's mother is May, who lives on a little island and rescues abused women and their children, but the family relationships aren't really clear.  Auntie Emma is Eva's daughter, I think, but again I'm not sure.  Beezer is Towner's brother.

 

Quirky characters are great if you can keep them straight and each becomes a real person.  None of these people did, not even Towner.  Her quirks were too inconsistent, too unexplained.  She can read people's minds and she hears voices -- especially Eva's and Lyndley's -- and she can read lace (it's kind of like reading tea leaves or some such) but there doesn't seem to be any purpose to it.

 

Towner dwells on her mental illness but doesn't really seem to care very much about it.  She doesn't have any direction or motivation or even any emotion.  And yet I got the impression that she wanted people around her to care about her.  I'm not sure that that's the impression author Brunonia Barry intended to convey, but it's the one I got.

 

As a result, I just didn't like Towner, and it's difficult for me to continue to read a book when I don't give a shit about the main character.

 

The book is well written in the technical sense, and I'm assuming the details of Salem and its environs are accurate, but everything fell flat for me.  It's like a book that a bunch of ladies read for their Tuesday afternoon book club, and they all think it's wonderful and deep and literary and quirky, but they really don't understand it and aren't sure they even like it.  They read it to impress their friends.  The sexy parts embarrass them -- though to be honest, I hadn't encountered any really sexy parts in the first 103 pages -- or horrify them, but for the most part they really don't understand the sexy parts.  They read books like this because it makes them feel somehow superior, even though as soon as they reach the end and move on to the next book, this one is forgotten.

 

I'll probably forget it, too.

 

Also posted at

https://fearlesslyintelligent.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-lace-reader-by-brunonia-barry.html

and I may expand it there.

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review 2017-03-21 22:12
United States of Japan ★★☆☆☆
United States of Japan - Peter Tieryas

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot, Booklikes & Librarything and linked at Goodreads & Mobileread by  Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: United States of Japan
Series: ---------
Author: Peter Tieryas
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Genre: Alt-History
Pages: 400
Format: Digital Edition





 

Synopsis:


Japan and Germany win War World II. Japan takes over the West Coast of America and completely destroy all American culture and replace it with their own. Having the upper hand in technology, the Japanese establish the United States of Japan.

 

Now in 1988, one man...

Is Fighting Back. With Giant Robots, Nukes and Robo-swords. He is the technological Wizard and is going to restore the American Ideal of Freedom!

 

Ha. Fooled you. This is some piece of crap about a coward and a disgraced Secret Police woman fighting a little bit before being killed or seriously wounded. Not going to lie.

 

 



My Thoughts:


The best thing about this book was the cover. That is one awesome cover. Beyond that, this was Alternate History from the view of the little people [ie, the people without a lot of power to actually affect things]. If you like that sort of crap, then this book is definitely tailor made for you.

 

For those of us who are not enamoured of fake history, who went in thinking that there would be giant robots fighting all over and cool and awesome rebel battles, this was beyond a disappointment. Replace the cover with some grimy war victims in a bombed out city and you'll have a better representation.

 

I am not a fan of reading REAL history. So why should I WASTE my time with FAKE history? I just figured that the description was trying to rope in the literati and that the author would actually give me a kick butt action story. No such luck. At least I now know not to try any more by Tieryas.

 

From a purely technical standpoint, my only gripe was the word choices and phrasing employed by the author. It kept throwing me out of the story. Only use a little known or little used word if it fits better than the common word usually employed. And by fits better, I'm talking “ochre” versus “orange” versus “cinnamon” kind of difference. Not “orbulianicus” instead of “round”.

 

What a bloody waste of my time. I hate Alt-History. So take my venting with a gigantic grain of salt.

 

★★☆☆☆

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-07 17:15
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (The Dark Knight Saga #1)
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns - Lynn Varley,Frank Miller,Klaus Janson

https://bookstooge.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/batman-the-dark-knight-returns-the-dark-knight-saga-1/

 

Since booklikes ate one review, it sure as shooting can eat more.

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