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review 2018-03-09 22:29
"Husbands And Other Sharp Objects" by Marilyn Simon Rothstein - DNF - abandoned at 15%
Husbands and Other Sharp Objects - Marilyn Simon Rothstein

I bought "Husbands And Other Sharp Objects" because the title was clever, the book cover was attractive and the premise - a woman about to be divorced whose husband wants her back and who has to arrange her daughter's wedding, seemed ripe with opportunities for humour.


I was hoping for something original and quirky, like "The Bette Davis Club".

The beginning showed promise. I liked this throwaway line:

"Gumption should be taught in every school. Gumption is more important that geography because, even if you can read the map, you're not going anywhere without gumption."

Humour is a very personal thing and is mercilessly binary: it's either funny or it's not. Some readers might describe this book slickly self-deprecating and sophisticated. I found it smug and superficial.


I found the main character to be shallow. There were too many descriptions of what everyone was wearing and whether or not they were attractive. The banter was a little stiff. The narrator over-emoted and read more slowly than I'd have liked.


I stuck it out for an hour and twenty minutes and then decided that this book just isn't my sort of thing.


Maybe it will be more to your taste than mine. Take a listen to the SoundCloud link below and see what you think.


[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/409501413" params="color=#ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true&visual=true" width="100%" height="300" iframe="true" /]



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review 2018-03-04 15:47
In A Fix by TheProblematique
In A Fix - TheProblematique

An engaging fic in which Sam and Dean have been raised apart. Bela blackmails Dean into taking a job to break up Sam and Jess's engagement.
Art by siennavie

Source: archiveofourown.org/works/4495536
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review 2018-03-04 00:40
John Dies at the End by David Wong
John Dies at the End - David Wong

John Dies at the End by David Wong
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"Soy sauce" is the name for the mystifying new drug that begins to plague David Wong's life. David Wong isn't actually his real name. Did you know that "Wong" is the most common surname in the world? And "John" is the most common first name in the world? And yet there's not a single person named John Wong! Wait, where was I?

(WARNING: This review doesn't actually have any spoilers, but here's a warning anyway.)

I'll be truthful - I was hesitant to read this one. I actually contemplated altogether skipping the monthly read of HA, as after scanning over some reviews I wasn't left with a great first impression. A plot that many didn't even consider a legitimate plot? Juvenile humour, including penis and... uh, toilet jokes? Suffice it to say, I was severely put off by the amount of criticism. Fortunately I bought it anyway, as I took into account the thoughts of the select few that largely share my literary tastes. They seemed to enjoy it, so surely it wasn't as bad as I thought.

Well, turned out that it was as bad as I thought, but it was also so, so good.

“Every man is blessed with his gifts from the Lord. One of mine happens to be a penis large enough that, if it had a penis of its own, my penis’s penis would be larger than your penis.”

It's hard to adequately describe this book without calling it a steaming hot mess, because that's what it was, and it didn't apologise for it. It revelled in being bizarre, ridiculously far-fetched and downright stupid, yet in amongst the rolling of my eyes, I couldn't help but laugh out loud. In fact, I chuckled so loudly that my partner enquired as to what was so funny, which resulted in me reading some passages aloud. Said partner, who is a man by the way, responded only with a reluctant nod. He simply proved that the assumption that this is a man's book is, quite frankly, inaccurate. It's entirely up to the individual, and plenty of women adored this just as much as I did, just as I'm sure plenty of men hated it.

“You're the kind of man a man wants when a man wants a man.”

Rife with conspiracy theories, pop culture references, outlandish ideology and crude irreverence, I thoroughly succumbed to the entertainment that was Wong's narrative. I admit, it seemed a bit odd, almost like two or three books were stuck together into one volume. It later made sense when I took the time to look into the book's origins, and how Jason Pargin ultimately created the chaotic adventures of Dave and John through webserial episodes on Cracked.com. I'm so very happy he didn't give up after the novel was initially rejected by publishers! I firmly believe the world needed this in it.

“I keep the gun in a hollowed out copy of the Koran. And there the big book was, tossed on the bed, open and gunless. Nothing else disturbed. I mean, they actually checked my Koran to see if there was a gun inside. I knew I was dealing with a sick son of a bitch.”

I didn't even entirely like Dave either; he was so very disrespectful and vulgar to nearly everyone he met - certainly an unorthodox "hero". John, whilst endearing in a man-child sort of way, was hugely self-obsessed (with his genitalia). Amy was the sole character that was truly likeable, well, that's not true. How can I forget the actual star of the show? The lady that brought just as much characterisation, if not more, than her human counterparts?

“And watch out for Molly. See if she does anything unusual. There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.”

In conclusion: It was difficult to write this review and put into words how my brain regarded this disorganised heap of madness. Give it a try - you'll either love it or hate it.

Notable Quote:

“People die. This is the fact the world desperately hides from us from birth. Long after you find out the truth about sex and Santa Claus, this other myth endures, this one about how you’ll always get rescued at the last second and if not, your death will at least mean something and there’ll be somebody there to hold your hand and cry over you. All of society is built to prop up that lie, the whole world a big, noisy puppet show meant to distract us from the fact that at the end, you’ll die, and you’ll probably be alone.”

© Red Lace 2018

Wordpress ~ Goodreads ~ Twitter

Source: redlace.reviews/2018/03/03/john-dies-at-the-end-by-david-wong
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review 2018-02-26 12:00
Go Gently into the Dark...
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul - Douglas Adams

At the outset of this short book by the author of 'The Hitch Hiker Trilogy', I was hopeful for a blissful return to the cosmic mayhem of yore. I came upon the book on a hospital shelf and it seemed like a dead ringer to lift the gloom and restore spirits and that it did.

As a random choice, it did mean my introduction to Dirk Gently – ‘Holistic Detective’ - came at the character's second outing (originally published in 1988), but this didn't seem to detract from the story (and I will go back to check on "Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency", 1987, through my tbr list). In any event, Gently's fundamental belief in the interconnectedness of all things provided a delightful proof for the anarchic stream of glorious gibberish served up by Adams here. Leastways the inbuilt laugh-out-loud moments are also a fairly reliable indicator of an intact funny bone and a sign that dependent on one's perspective, we do continue to mill about in a curiously mysterious world.


Like a well-honed stand-up routine, the author highlights some of the ambiguities and illogical nature of human behaviours and starts at the fertile territory of an airport, with an American traveller, Kate Schechter, bewildered by the inability to get pizza delivered in London. There follows an inexplicable incident, labelled an 'act of god', but what if Kate's path has indeed crossed with a god of old Norse mythology, also in transit to Scandinavia? The possibilities that flow from Asgardians walking the Earth might, in other hands, be threatening, yet Adams shows even super-humans might suffer the similar frailties of mortals, driven to extraordinary lengths to secure well laundered bedding. Throw in a gory murder, awaiting the kismet influence of the hapless detective and giggle-laden chaos is assured. Still, not too much of a spoiler I hope, to reveal, Gently does it....

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review 2018-02-18 02:37
"Dance, Gladys, Dance" by Cassie Stocks
Dance, Gladys, Dance - Cassie Stocks

I have a bad habit of critiquing books while I'm reading them. Even when I'm immersed in the story and enjoying myself, part of my attention is on how and why the book works. It gives me pleasure and mostly I can't help it.


"Dance, Glady's Dance" was an exception. It reached past my over-analytical head and connected with my emotions. It made me happy, even when it was making me sad.

I'm not entirely sure how Cassie Stocks did that but I'm very glad she did.


"Dance, Glady's, Dance", like many of the best things in life, requires you to use a little bit of imagination and to be willing to hope.


The story starts with Frieda Zweig looking, at twenty-seven, for a fresh start where she can put aside her former life as a would-be artist and live a life more ordinary. She asks herself:

"Who was I going to be? I was more inclined towards inertia than upward mobility and didn’t like most people enough to devote my life to helping others less fortunate than myself. I’d work somewhere, I thought, watch TV in the evenings, and become wholly involved in the lives of non-existent people. I’d develop my own life of quiet desperation, as Emerson’s buddy Thoreau suggested the mass of men (and, presumably, women) led."

To help with this self-imposed task, Frieda defines  "Five Steps To An Ordinary Life":

1. Get a real job.
2. Stop seeing the world as a series of potential paintings.
3. Learn how to talk about the weather.
4. Do the things that normal people do.
5. Figure out what normal people actually do.

Although the initial tone of the book is light-hearted, "Dance, Gladys, Dance", is not a comedy. Frieda uses humour to distance herself from her problems and to suppress the strong emotions that always result in her needing to paint. True, Frieda's reality is often orthogonal to the surface of life as most of us live it and she spends a good deal of her time puzzled and occasionally defeated by everyday things like shopping for clothes, but Frieda is bright and intuitive and kind and fundamentally serious in her approach to life.


Frieda's doomed attempt to embrace the ordinary leads her to renting a room in a Victorian house owned by a widower who teaches photography at a local Arts Centre. After she moves in, she meets, Gladys, the ghost of the first woman to live in the house.

In addition to a cleverly designed set of events in the present day that weave together the fates of a number of strong characters, we have chapters that tell us more about Freida's life and how she came to give up on the idea of being an artist and, bit by bit, we hear Gladys' story.


Many of the characters in the book are damaged or in pain because they lack belief in their own talent or they have given up on their belief that they can be who they want to be. The book shows women in particular as being at risk of losing themselves in this way or being denied the right to use their talent.


The message of the book seems to be: trust yourself, use your talent and take the small opportunities we all have to make the world a less awful place to live in. Delivering this message without coming across as either didactic or sentimental is what makes this book such a triumph.


stocksphoto"Dance, Gladys, Dance" was Cassie Stocks' first novel. In 2013 it won the Leacock Memorial Medal, awarded to the best book of humour written in English by a Canadian writer.


You can find an interview with Cassie Stocks on writing "Dance, Gladys, Dance" here.


You can find details of her biography here.



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