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review 2018-01-13 23:10
Not a book -- an experience
Peach - Emma Glass

Nb: the quotes may be off a bit in punctuation etc. I went from memory.

 

Peach is a seemingly normal young woman. She's a "good girl" by her mother's estimation, a college student with a steady boyfriend who lives with her oddly sexual parents and her baby brother whom she adores. She's even a vegetarian. But the reader never meets that Peach. She meets Peach staggering home -- perseverating, incoherent, bloody, vomiting and in horrible pain.

This entire slim novel is present tense, stream-of-consciousness, and told to us by an extremely traumatized girl who sounds a lot like James Joyce (the author notes this herself at the end.) Joycean or no, it's a good portrayal of the way human brains deal with interpersonal trauma. Getting through the mundane "Get dressed, socks first...push swing door open, hear it swing shut -- swoosh", noticing the weather: "cold" -- detached from everything -- in complete survival mode, telling herself she will just "forget this" and move on.

 

I found her playing with sounds and repetitions of words interestingly poetic, though it's really just another way someone copes with an overloaded brain-body connection. It's much better than, say - muteness, for a book. and not unrealistic. The brain is a majestic thing that will do whatever it takes to get us through things nobody should have to live through.

 

"I want to say things but I don't know how to order the words. Sentences slither around my brain. Scattered words, scatterbrain, scattered semantics, scattered seeds..."

 

Peach denies herself any help - even medical, and we witness a young woman spiraling: instantly distant from her parents and boyfriend; uncomfortable with even the touch of her pet at times, then overwhelmed with love for these same beings she can't share her pain with. She lies to cover for her physical injuries; wishes she could tell her boyfriend Green, but can't get the words out; holds in bile, fakes having fun, tries to make her face look like it "should," goes through the motions of normal life while holding herself together literally and figuratively.

 
The damage doesn't end there. Her perpetrator, Lincoln, is not finished with Peach. He stalks her, professing his "love" in letters cut from tabloid papers. He feels completely entitled to come to her home, insist on his love for her, demand she not run away, remind her that he's watching, lingering outside her classes, barrage her with creepy letters and much worse. She starts to see him everywhere, but is this post-traumatic stress, or is he real? Peach imagines him as a greasy sausage, smells his putrid odor in the air, sees his greasy slime lingering in the air, on surfaces, windows and feels this greasy meaty mess invading her senses and body. She wonders if others can see what she sees, if her boyfriend hears her heart banging against her ribs?
 
She begins to see everyone as food stuffs (her very kind professor shakes his face, "showering the first row with splatters of custard" and proceeds to tell the class he's not "set yet." He is the only person who is sweet enough -- my word -- to notice she's in some sort of trouble, but she lets the opening slip past.) Her friend Sandy also notices something is wrong, but she's busy berating herself and wondering why he doesn't see her as she now does. She somaticizes her pain into an ever-distending stomach makes her instantly "fat" and never stops growing. She physically feels the sniggers of her classmates, she chokes on smells, she can't look at her teacher because he's "bright yellow and very shiny" custard. She's constantly being assaulted by her senses - another very real portrayal of trauma. Even the weather is constantly changing and unreliable.
 
Traumatic process is the entirety of this book, and it leaves the reader as discombobulated as the narrator. It's an extremely effective method to show how shock throws the mind into a complete tornado, despite outwardly being so "normal" that nobody else notices. Because she is acutely post-trauma, we are never sure how reliable this narrator is. We only have her word for what she is experiencing. This is especially true at the end of the novel. It feels like pure fantasy that Peach has devolved into, but since she's telling it, we know she believes it is true. And if it is, it's mighty macabre.
 
At first I didn't like the distance, then it just "clicked" -- oh, we're experiencing the same off-kilter perception/reality horror that happens to almost anyone who has just been shaken to their very core. Not everyone will have the same exact experience as Peach, but everyone will have their own unique experience. After I cottoned on to this, I was impressed with the way Emma Glass was able to sneak that past me. Lots of reviews have been unforgiving of this novel. I can see how it might seem contrived, but it feels very realistic to me, even if the events aren't "real" at all.
 
I'd imagine, if the novel had continued, what we'd see is some sort of eventual collapse, hospitalization and years of therapy. Maybe after all of that, we'd know what was real, but I doubt it, and frankly, I don't want to read all of that. This book is not really a book -- it's an experience.
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review 2018-01-02 06:00
The Peach Keeper
The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen

I've thoroughly enjoyed all the Sarah Addison Allen books I've read, but I stayed away from this one for a long time because, frankly, I don't like peaches*.    

 

As reasons go to not read a book, it's a pretty stupid one, so when I saw the title at a library sale for $1 I did the mature thing and bought it.  

 

I LOVED this book!  It was SO good.  It had shades of Practical Magic in it, and a cameo by Claire Waverly from Garden Spells and a small but very important murder mystery.  The only thing it needed to make it perfect was Claire's apple tree.

 

The Peach Keeper felt like Allen crossed from Magical Realism into straight magic; there aren't a lot of logical reasons (or any) for why the strange events in Walls of Water were happening.  The character development felt a lot richer too; limiting the plot to only 4 people, and really focusing on the 2 female protagonists made it feel like a much tighter story.  The romantic tension was intense (although the sex scenes were almost non-existent).

 

Is this Pride and Prejudice good?  No, of course not (nothing is that good), but it is Practical Magic (the movie, not the book) good.  If you liked that movie, or you enjoy good stories about the power of friendship, I think you'll enjoy this.

 

* It's a tactile thing; peach fuzz = fingernails on a chalkboard.

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review 2017-12-20 16:18
Wedding Peach Vol 1 by Nao Yazawa
Wedding Peach, Vol. 1 - Sukehiro Tomita

In terms of story and originality, this might not be the best take on the magic girl genre, but I still really love this series.


It is a highly nostalgic manga series for me. It is super ridicules, I'll admit. Momoko accepts that she is a magical girl too easily and automatically knows how to fight, and all her magic spell catch phrases, but we can argue that it is destiny and of course she would know all this.

Princess Peach has all the magical girl stereotypes. All the girls are swoon/crazy in love with the sports stars, trying to give them bento boxes, the main character Momoko has a love/hate relationship with a guy who is highly likely to be her love interest. It is super obvious.

Our lovely newly turned magical girl goes through the whole "I like him, no but I can't, he's rude and mean, but deep down he has a heart of gold" thing with this guy. It's so cheesy, and overdone, but I can't help but still like this and think overall it is very cute, makes me feel like a giggly teenager again.

I want to point out that in a lot of stories the love interest like this are usually just jerks/mean, maybe even abusive and that is seen as dark and brooding, romanticized, but the boy in this manga isn't really a bad person, and I don't believe their budding relationship is toxic or problematic. Some people take the "boys are mean because they like me" thing way over the top in real life and in stories as well; I don't feel like this one was over the top, just judging from the first volume, at least.

I've heard people say it is a rip off of Sailor Moon, but I have a feeling people think that of a lot of magical girl manga. Whether or not it is a rip off, I'm not bothered by it.

This volume had sweet moments, moments where I was like "oh, that's cute," but there were also a couple moments where my heart was touched. Maybe I am too sentimental?

It is cliche, of course. People are going to either love it or hate it.

P.S I really want my own Jama P pet.

 

"Miss Peach! Much Happy!"

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text 2017-12-16 07:05
Cover Reveal - Pretty As A Peach

 

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text 2017-08-30 19:06
Coming Soon?
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler
Glass Houses - Louise Penny
The Snake, the Crocodile & the Dog - Elizabeth Peters
Heartless - Gail Carriger
The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen
Darkly Dreaming Dexter - Jeff Lindsay
A Study In Scarlet Women: The Lady Sherlock Series - Sherry Thomas
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd - Agatha Christie
Copper Beach - Jayne Ann Krentz
The Ghost and the Graveyard - Genevieve Jack

Just some possibilities I have in mind.

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