Mea Culpa

I read far, far more than I blog about it.

If you follow my Goodreads profile, you’ll know that I’ve read 44 books this year and I’m in the middle of a few more. And I’ve blogged about perhaps 4 books on the site. Last year, I cleared 95 and blogged about perhaps 10 of them, if that. 

On the bright side, I guess I’m doing better this year.

I’m apparently terrible about actually keeping this up to date. It’s a weird tangle of events that lead to this, I think.

One, I’m terrible – terrible – about keeping a journal or notebook in which to keep track of my thoughts and book quotes. I tend to read when and wherever I can find the time. I’m often reading during lunch at work. Last year, I carried about a book journal and I was determined to take notes on every single book I read. That lasted for about perhaps 3 months.

Secondly, I read a lot of literary fiction and classics and it seems that people just don’t get excited about reviews of those things like they do for YA. But perhaps that doesn’t matter. My enjoyment of YA seems to be waning, for the most part, and the classics and literary fiction are seriously my wheelhouse.

Also, there’s a general malaise which sets in and affects me. I’ve mentioned before that I suffer from depression. I also suffer from anxiety and a personality disorder. It’s difficult, at times, to get things done – even if I may actually really want to get it done – as the energy simply isn’t there. When it’s there, there’s typically also a healthy dose of doubt. This is one of the reasons I have yet to finish my novel and why I have about 5 screenplays in various stages of completion. The lack of energy makes everything super difficult to complete – basically, it takes all I have to get out of bed and go to work each morning.

But I want to do this. I don’t really have a lot of joy in my life – there’s that depression! – and books and reading a few of those things that give me joy. I want to talk about books; I want to share my love of them with others. I’m want to do better about updating this – I have to do better. I’ll be better.

Book Review: Attachments

Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments is completely, utterly ridiculous. I loved it away.

Attachments also happens to be the first Rowell novel I genuinely, wholeheartedly love. I’ve read Fan Girl,  Eleanor & Park and Carry On.  After a pretty rocky start, I ended up liking Carry On well enough. On the other hand, I found both Eleanor & Park and Fan Girl completely underwhelming.

Attachments, though? I love, love love it!

I’ve seen many folks make the argument that the novel’s premise is basically creepy and unrealistic. And they’re completely right!

The plot centers around a guy (Lincoln) falling in love with a woman he’s never met (Beth) via snooping through her work emails to and from a friend. Of course this is creepy.  It’s slightly less creepy because monitoring emails is his job, but still. It’s creep-city.

Attachments

It’s also, honestly, exactly the sort of screwy, nonsensical plot that lives in the romantic comedies of the 90s and early 2000s. While I don’t seem like it, I  adore a good rom-com and one of my truest film related despairs is that there hasn’t been a truly wonderful romantic comedy in years (and, no Love Actually does not count, people.)  I also love a good screwball comedy – heck, if computers were a thing in the 30s, I could see this sort of ridiculousness going on in a Katherine Hepburn-Cary Grant movie. You cannot tell me that the plots of Bringing Up Baby or Holiday make any more sense than this book does. In Bringing Up Baby, Katherine Hepburn’s scatterbrained socialite randomly meets Cary Grant’s paleontologist on a golf course, convinces him to help her take a leopard named Baby to her home from Connecticut, becomes enamored with him,  tries to keep him from leaving said home in Connecticut to prevent his getting married and they eventually end up in jail. And in love. I have not even described half of the crazy of that beautiful film. You can’t tell me that this plot makes any more sense than Attachments. You can’t because it doesn’t. But Bringing Up Baby, as well as My Man Godfrey, Holiday, Woman of the Year, His Girl Friday and all those other wonderful, insane, screwy screwball comedies work because they lean into the crazy. Continue reading

Book Review: The Sun is Also a Star

28763485A while back, I read Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star.

By “a while back”, I mean I finished it in the first few days of January.

Yeah.

It’s been a while.

I enjoyed Yoon’s debut Everything, Everything – it was a bit too sweet and a bit too syrupy and so not me, but eh, I loved it anyway. Everyone needs the literary equivalent of a diabetic coma every now and again, right? Well, Everything, Everything was mine.  When I read that Nicola Yoon was releasing a new novel dealing with immigration, I was pretty sure that it’d be up my alley. When The Sun is Also a Star turned out to be one of Book of the Month Club’s picks, I thought it was simply kismet and made it my selection.

To my sadness and frustration, I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped.

Yoon is a competent, strong writer and she’s got great ideas and knows how to carry them out – I didn’t feel as though the novel were half-baked or un-done in some strange fashion.

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Book Review: 3 YAs

About 3 months ago, I was lucky enough to be approved for several YA ARCs. While I’ve read several of them, I’ve been incredibly remiss in actually getting down what I think about the lovely books publishers have allowed me to read.

First, I started with Becky Albertalli’s The Upside of Unrequited.

I was pretty darn excited about this as I’d read her debut,  Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda on a whim last year and loved it. Albertalli’s prose is nothing particularly special – it’s somewhere above workman but below beauty. It’s strong and sufficient enough for the tales she spins. For me, what made ‘Simon’ such an unrestrained joy to experience was the protagonist, Simon. I found him delightful and just the sort of person my younger self would have wanted to be friends with in high school. Sadly, I didn’t feel this way about Molly in The Upside of Unrequited. I’m not sure if I can explain it well enough – but I never really felt drawn into Molly – or for that matter, her friends or her family. They were well drawn, funny but still, I didn’t feel a spark there. I didn’t feel as riveted by Molly’s drama. It’s not to say that the book isn’t a worthwhile read, because it is! Albertalli is just as amusing and wry as she is in her debut and her commitment to diversity is just as wonderful – it never feels false or unearned, or as though she’s doing it simply to make a point. The characters who populate this book feel like the world in which we live. It’s simply that I cared for them and their situations less than I cared for those of Simon’s world. It’s a 3 star book for me. Continue reading

Book Review: Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars

Sometimes, a novel will surprise you. That in and of itself isn’t really a surprise. What is a surprise is how the novel surprises you. Do you hate it when you thought you’d love it? Was it not as wonderful as you heard? Or was it better than your friends told you it was?

And, sometimes, the surprise is that it’s so much more than you ever anticipated.

When I requested an ARC of Miranda Emerson’s Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars, about 85% of the thought process that went into that decision was based on the over. I mean, look at it – it’s lovely!

The other 15% percent was the synopsis – it seemed like it’d be a fun romp. I only expected what I was promised – a group of people, lead by the titular Anna Treadway traipsing around London, investigating the disappearance of an actress, Iolanthe Green, who may or may not wish to be found. What I found within the pages was much more than this.

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Book Review: A Kiss From Mr. Fitzgerald

28965429I recently read Natasha Lester’s A Kiss for Mr. Fitzgerald and I thought it was a pretty is fun, frothy ride. Yes, it so very, very soap opera-ish, but damn if it wasn’t a great soap opera.

I feel glad, I guess to have read A Kiss for Mr. Fitzgerald as it brought me some fun when I needed it. This was a easy, breezy read that I still found pretty engaging despite the genre not really being my speed.

This book is, I think, marketed as Historical Fiction, but in my opinion, it doesn’t really fit that into that genre nicely. When I think of historical fiction, I think of works where the setting completely informs everything about the world and story – the language, the plot, the characterization, the very fiber of the threats of the story. The book is seeped in its time and can’t truly be separated from it. It’s not possible to have that book without that time. Continue reading

Book Review: Red Queen

AKA: I’ve Made a Huge Mistake

There is often much handwringing regarding adults reading YA novels. As someone who reads YA for kicks but who mostly reads classics and literary fiction, I can understand both sides.

There is interesting, clever and fairly well done YA. There’s also a lot of terrible YA. I do think, in general that people ought to read what they like as there’s far too little reading going on in general. YA is fun and can serve as a pretty nice getaway from some heavier adult literature. But I also don’t think that it’s best to just limit yourself to YA as an adult. There’s a lot of nuance in adult literature (in general) that is absent in YA (in general). But mostly, I fall back to “Read what you want, guys!”

Admittedly, YA isn’t a large part of my reading life. It’s there, I don’t knock it as a whole and if something looks interesting, I’m gonna read it. I’ve finished reading 56 books this year and 7 (or 8, depending on if you classify The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night as YA (some do, some don’t) are YA. That’s not exactly a large percentage. It’s simply easier for me to find more adult literature that makes me excited to read. But obviously, I’m not against reading YA. If it looks good and intrigues me, I’m gonna read it.

Based on the hype machine that is the internet, I decided to follow up Michael Chabon’s The Mysteries of Pittsburgh with a current YA favorite, Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen.

This was a gigantic mistake on my part.

Red Queen is a thoroughly unremarkable novel where the only thing of note about it is how it came to be and the fact that it’s a fantastic illustration of why people think YA novels are beneath adult reading. Continue reading