My Book Life: 2015 Edition

Did Goodreads do this My Year in Books thing last year? I don't remember it. It's a nice little graphic.

I'm feeling kinda meh about my 2015 year in books. I started the year in a 50 book goal that got dropped to 45, at least on Goodreads I dropped it. I tried to hit 50 anyway but because of everything that happened and all the time I spent not reading, I knew I wasn't going to make it.

I hit the 45 book goal with 8,749 pages. It occurs to me that I didn't read a tome this year. I usually try to ready an 800+ page book, at least, once a year. The largest book I read in 2015 was 442 pages (Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes). My shortest book was just 15 pages (A Death by Stephen King), probably a Kindle single. I'm not sure those should count. I dunno. My average book length was a tiny 194 pages.

 *side note: I'm having a little fight with this Logitech keyboard for my iPad Pro. It doesn't seem to be able to keep up with my typing speed. Hmmmmm*

Goodreads tells me that the most popular book on my reading list is Ender's Game with 766,518 other people reading it, too. While the least popular thing I read is 1215 and All That by Ed West. It was another Kindle single and I really enjoyed it. Only 50 people on Goodreads read it.

Wanna talk ratings? No? Too bad. My average rating for 2015 was 3.9, which is about how I feel about he year over all. And as I'm typing this, I'm wondering if that counts the last book I read. I know the answer to this because I haven't actually rated the last book I read. I'm still thinking about it. Anyway, overall it was a pretty much a year full of okay books.

This breakdown isn't as in depth as I'm going to go. It's just going to take me longer to do my analysis. There's spreadsheets involved. I'm not even sure that I'm going to do an in depth analysis this time around. 2015 was depressing all around and I'm thinking that I should just stop analyzing and just move forward.

So, here they are! All the books I read in 2015 in order completed:

  • Ender's Game by Orson Card
  • Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
  • Sex Criminals Vol 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • Mass, I: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman
  • The Dogs of Riga by Henning Mankell
  • 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
  • The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City's Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn
  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • Of Shadow and Stone by Michelle Muto
  • We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • A Death by Stephen King
  • Sex Criminals Vol 2: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction
  • The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
  • The Yard by Alex Grecian
  • Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Beowulf by Unkown
  • Road Rag by Joe Hill
  • Snowpiercer: The Escape by Jacques Lob
  • Storm Front by Jim Butcher
  • Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
  • Sex, Book One: The Summer of Hard by Joe Casey
  • Black Widow,Vol 1: The Finely Woven Thread by Nathan Edmodson
  • The Bat by Jo Nesbo
  • 24 Hour Mindfulness:How to be calmer and kinder in the midst of it all by Rohan Gunatillake
  • How to be a Heroine: Or, What I've Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  • Black Widow, Vol 2: The Tghtly Tangled Web by Nathan Edmondson
  • Red Run by Kami Garcia
  • All You Need is Kill by Nick Mamatas
  • The Death of Trotsky by Cecelia Holland
  • Authority by Jeff VanderMeer
  • Practical Deamonkeeping by Christopher Moore
  • 1215 and All That: A very, very short history of Magna Carta and King John by Ed West
  • The Long Run by Mishka Shubaly
  • Fables, Vol 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
  • Fables, Vol 2: Animal Farm by Bill Willingham
  • Fables, Vol 3: Storybook Love by Bill Willingham
  • Sojourn, Vol 1:From the Ashes by Ron Marz
  • Wytches, Vol 1 by Scott Snyder
  • Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
  • Batman: Arkham Asylum - A Serious House on Serious Earth by Grant Morrison
  • The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Anderso
  • Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman
  • Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simemon

The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m just gonna start off with No, this is not Gone Girl. Not. Even. Close.

The Girl on the Train seems to have been one of the first books I bought this year. I don’t recall having heard much about it before I bought it. Since my mom’s trips to the hospital, I had fallen out of the Book Loop. I bought this cold after reading the inside dust jacket. I didn’t see the comparisons to Gone Girl until later. Stop it. Just. Stop.

The story is told from the perspective of three different women. Rachel is an alcoholic that has lost just about everything and might have witnessed the key moment in murder. She was blackout drunk at the time so she doesn’t remember. Anna is the new wife (and former lover) of Rachel’s ex-husband. She, Tom (the ex-hubby), and a new baby live in the house that Rachel shared with Tom when they were married. Rachel is not over this arrangement and it doesn’t help that she takes a train into London everyday that stops at a signal directly next to the house. Lovely. Lastly, there is Megan. Megan is dead for a good chunk of the book. Her story starts a year before the murder in the book. Also, Megan and her hubby live next door to Anna and Tom.

Confused.

Don’t worry. Paula Hawkins does do a wonderful job of explaining everything. Mostly. It wasn’t until The Big Reveals started that things went off the rails for me. Usually, by the time something was being revealed, it was no longer a surprise. I saw the ending coming with a little over 100 pages left and that just sucked the life out of the book for me.

Also, it bothered me that Rachel was described as ugly through out the story for, seemingly, no other reason than being fat. I found Anna to be the ugliest person in the book and she’s supposed to be The Pretty One because she’s skinny and blonde. Fuck you, Paula Hawkins, fuck you.

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Oh, Dexter!

Dexter by Design (Dexter, #4)Dexter by Design by Jeff Lindsay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Dexter.

I had no idea there was as little Dexter as there is. I was in the bookstore a week ago and noticed a new Dexter book and was surprised that it is only the 8th Dexter book in the series. Seems like I read the first Dexter (Darkly Dreaming Dexter) years ago and there should be more. I do know that it’s been too long since I read Dexter in the Dark (#3), which was about 2 years ago. I’ve decided that the easiest thing to keep me reading is to stick to these brain candy type series. I’m only really loyal to one big series because I have a lit crush on the main character (Lucas Davenport) but I do have a few in my tbr pile so might as well conquer them now.

Enter Dexter by Design, the 4th book in the series. I like Dexter. I can’t say that the books are really all that great but I like the character and premise of these books. Yes, for the record, I was introduced to Dexter via Showtime and I’m not sure which I like better. Obviously, they are very different because they went 8 seasons before there were 8 books in the series. And, the books tend to treat the Dark Passenger as a separate character from Dexter, which I find interesting.

All right then: if there were any real, physical clues, the tireless and dogged heroes of forensics would find them. So what I needed was some kind of hint from a source that my coworkers could not tap— the Dark Passenger. The Passenger, however, was being uncharacteristically silent, except for its mildly savage chuckling and I wasn’t sure what that meant. Normally, and display of predatory skill would evoke some kind of appreciation that quite often provided a small stab of insight into the killing. But this time, any such comment was absent. Why?


Wouldn’t it be interesting if someone’s Dark Passenger jumped from them to someone else? Hmmmm Has someone done that already? Someone should.

Dexter is also funny. I had a passage all picked out to share that I thought was funny while I was reading but I failed miserably to mark the passage and now I can’t find it so you’ll just have to trust me. Or not. Try him on for yourself and you decide. But I recommend you start from the beginning as this particular story was only meh.

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Lost Items Found

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)Storm Front by Jim Butcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I finished a book.

Goodreads tells me that I have actually finished 5 books since my mother died but two of those were graphic novels, and one I started in February and didn’t finish until May. I was surprised to see that I had started and finished two books since my mother died. I don’t remember reading it. It was a little “Oh yeah,” moment when I looked at the list. I guess I should say that I haven’t been able to concentrate on anything that requires much thought. I’ve been slowly reading I Loved You More by Tom Spanbauer since early June. I’m on page 85. That’s not a knock on Mr. Spanbauer, my head just isn’t there right now. It’s wrapped up in trust documents and finding new home owners insurance and, oh my god, I own a home and, wait, that’s part of my property and hasn’t been cleared in over a year. Shit. I hate yard work.

So, a librarian friend of my suggested something easy. Something a little mindless that doesn’t require a lot of attention. I call these Brain Candy reads. Detective novel series are good for this category. Someone bad does something bad and somebody good, or even quasi good, does something hero like, or even anti hero like, and the day gets saved. Bad guy ends up where ever bad guys end up. Jail or dead.

Enter Harry Dresden.

I’ve had Storm Front sitting on my shelf for sometime. I think I have another one in the series but for some reason I felt like starting this series at the beginning years ago and then I didn’t start it. So, this one got plucked off the shelf a few weeks ago when I was looking for some brain candy. Yes, it still took me a couple of weeks to read it. Whatever. I read it.

Harry Dresden is a wizard that finds lost things, investigates the paranormal, consults for the Chicago PD, and does not do love potions. Except for that one. The White Council is after him and he’s behind on his rent. Someone has killed two people with black magic and Harry is on the case. The book is like a detective novel with magic and demons.

The story is a little clunky as most first in the series books are, but I found no serious flaws that made me put the book down in disgust. Perhaps the author, Jim Butcher, is a wizard himself and put some short of spell on the book. I probably won’t rush out and buy book two in the series as I have a To Be Read Pile that I could use a wizard to help me with, but I will find my way to the next one eventually.

I know that there was a short lived TV show based on the Harry Dresden Files. I saw it. I don’t remember much about it now but a long time reader of the series has told me to ignore it. It does not do the books justice (does anything, ever?). I remember that the guy that played Harry (Paul Blackthorne) now plays Quentin Lance on Arrow.

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I Could Be a Lighthouse Keeper

The Light Between OceansThe Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

*sigh*

This book was kind of on my radar for sometime so when a Facebook page I follow offered free copies as a promotional for a new online bookclub I threw my hand in the air and said, “me me me me.” And, so, I received a free copy and set aside what I was reading and commenced to reading this one.

And then I stopped.

And then I read some more.

And then I stopped.

And then I read some comic books.

And then my mom was in the hospital.

And then I went on a trip.

And then I read some more.

You get the idea.

The Light Between Oceans starts with Tom Sherbourne returning from the Western Front of WWI to his home country of Australia where he takes up lighthouse keeping. Eventually, he gets stationed at Janus Rock, a very remote posting and while traveling to his new station he meets Isabel. The two marry while Tom is on shore leave and then they head back to Janus Rock to set up married life. It goes pretty well except Isabel has three miscarriages, which are devastating for her. After the third, which results in a stillborn birth, a dingy washes up on the shore of the island carrying a deadman and a very much alive baby girl. Isabel manages to persuade Tom to not report the dingy and to pass the baby off as their own. It all goes smashingly until it doesn’t and that’s when things start to get interesting.

The book is told in three parts. The first two parts of the book are extremely slow moving. I don’t know if the pace of this portion of the book is supposed to mirror the isolation of Janus Rock but if I hadn’t been reading it for a bookclub, I probably would have stopped long before I got to part three. The descriptions of Janus Rock are quite beautiful and the agony of Isabel’s miscarriages seem to, also, match the desolation of living on a rock far from shore. I suppose now is a good time to mention that I don’t like Isabel. I suppose she is just a figure of her time. There is no such thing as prenatal care (was there?) so these miscarriages are her personal fault and why in the hell would she consider going back to the mainland during one of these pregnancies when her duty was to stay by her husband. And, why on earth would she need to see a doctor afterwards? Tom has a strong moral compass. He’s a military man that clings to the rules of lighthouse keeping to help him live in a world after surviving 4-years of war. Isabel manages to shame him (I felt) into keeping this baby with the argument that it’s a “gift from god” and just think of the horrible things that could happen to the baby because surely, even though we have no evidence of it, both her parents are dead. *sigh* This is where I wanted to smack the shit out of Isabel.

Part three doesn’t roll around until 200+ pages into the book. Should you make it this far, this is where things get interesting and the pace picks up. The gig is up and now the Sherbourne’s have to face the consequences of their decision to keep the baby. It might be difficult to put the book down if you make it this far. I ended up pulling an all nighter to just finish the book. I can’t say that I think it was worth it.

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Gargoyles!

Of Shadow and StoneOf Shadow and Stone by Michelle Muto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. Oh, wait, disclaimer: I received an advance copy of this book from the author.

Okay, I really enjoyed this book. Of Shadow and Stone is a paranormal thriller that mixes together all kinds of paranormal creatures. The gargoyles require a mortal sentinel to keep them in check and Kate Mercer, popular Hollywood actress, just might be the next sentinel. In the meantime, the gargoyles are going a bit overboard in dishing out justice. Personally, I think the identity thief got what they deserved but this is why I’m not being considered for the sentinel job.

The hub of all this paranormal activity is a castle called Shadow Wood and its keeper (leader/ruler) Declan. I want to know more about Declan. I want to know a lot more about Declan. I think there could be an entire book just about Declan and how he ended up in his current position. Shadow Wood seems to be a safe haven of sorts for paranormal creatures. Kate is drawn to the castle in dreams and evenly travels their (transports) to learn of her pending decision. Of course, back home chaos ensues with the ex-boyfriend that just wants another chance, or is it the ex-boyfriend making all the trouble?

There is a lot of detail packed into this book but none of it seemed out of place to me. It didn’t interfere with any of the action and I think it was actually there to add to the description of one of the other characters (I’m talking about the “magic” wardrobe, I want one btw). There were was at least one moment when Kate bugged me (no, if you don’t wanna go to the wrap party with the ex then you don’t go with him, you don’t just go along with things) but nothing requires me to like everything about every character and some important things did come out of that scene.

So, yeah, I really enjoyed this book. There’s a little romance (not trashy romance novel romance), a little paranormal, and a thrilling ending.

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Thanks, Book Riot

Lucky UsLucky Us by Amy Bloom
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I finished this book late last year. I probably should have sat down and wrote something about it immediately because I was feeling very meh about it. This was Book Riot’s third selection in the Riot Read Book Club and I’d have to say that I wouldn’t have picked it up if they hadn’t sent it to me. I don’t think I would have missed anything. It’s basically about Iris and Eva, two sisters that don’t learn that they share a dad until his wife dies and Eva’s mother leaves her with him. Eventually, they run away to 1940’s Hollywood. I’m not going to go into detail about what happens after that because I don’t really remember much of it. I felt zero connection to any of the characters and just kind of muddled through the book. If it hadn’t been so short, I probably wouldn’t have finished it at all. Yeah, probably should have written some stuff down when I finished it.

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2014 My Year in Books

So, I promised a list of the books I read in 2014. I'm not going to name a top one (or 5), it's just a list in order that I finished them. You can see the Goodreads list here. Linked books are to reviews found on this site.

January
Superman/Batman, Vol 3 by Jeph Loeb
A Murder of Quality by John le Carré
Wolverine/Punisher, Vol 1 by Peter Milligan
Finding Camlann by Sean Pidgeon
Coman and the Demons of Khitai by Akira Yoshida
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

February
Spirit Walker, Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #2,  by Michelle Paver
Wolverine: Origin by Paul Jenkings
Orders is Orders by L. Ron Hubbard
All-Star Superman, Vol 1 by Grant Morrison
Faceless Killers, Wallander #1, Henning Mankell

March
Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball
Batman: Absolution by J.M. DeMatteis
Meatless by Martha Stewart
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

April
Microsoft Office Word 2013 Advanced by Jennifer Duffy
Microsoft Office Word 2013 by Scot Ober
Essentials of Business Law and the Legal Environment by Richard A. Mann

May
Gregg College Keyboarding & Document Processing by Scot Ober
After the Funeral by Agatha Christie
Anwar, Shadow Force: The Garden Planet #1 by J.R. O'Neill
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

June
The Murder Farm by Andrea Maria Schenkel
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

July
Batman: Secrets by Sam Kieth
Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti
Sinister Wisdom, 93 by Julie R. Enszer
Batman: Hush Vol 1 by Jeph Loeb
Batman: Hush Vol 2 by Jeph Loeb

August
Batman and the Mad Monk by Matt Wagner
Red Rising, Red Rising Trilogy #1 by Pierce Brown
Americana by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Through the Woods by Emily Carrol
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

September
The South Beach Diet by Authur Agaston
The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

October
What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund

November
Digital Art by Christine Paul
Sleep Donation by Karen Russell
No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
How to Tell If Your Cat Is Trying to Kill You by Matthew Inman
Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
QuickBooks Fundamentals 2014 by Doug Sleeter
Microsoft Access 2013 by Mary Ann Poatsy
Modern Scholar: The Giants of Irish Literature by George O'Brien

December
Management: A Practical Introduction by Angelo Kinicki
Microsoft Excel 2013 by Mary Anne Poatsy
Junky by William S. Burrouhs
Thor #1 & #2 by Jason Aaron
Batman: Blind Justice by Sam Hamm
Lucky Us by Amy Bloom (review coming)
The Lost Spy: An American in Stalin's Secret Service by Andrew Meier
Season for Scandal, Holiday Pleasures #3 by Thersea Romain (review coming)

Yes, I counted textbooks for school because I read that stuff. I won't have as many textbooks in 2015 as I'm not taking as many classes and the classes in the first term of the year don't even have any books (YAY!). Also, I'm reinstituting comic book Sunday.

It Only Took Me 20 Months to Read 324 Pages

Ender's Game (The Ender Quintet, #1)Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Navy has a recommended reading list. Well, the military in general has recommended reading lists and I imagine they are all, pretty much, the same thing. I just never paid attention to what the Army was recommending to its peeps. A few times during my Navy career I thought about tackling the entire list but I just can’t get my head around reading a book just because it is on someone’s list. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is part of the Navy’s Junior Enlisted Collection.

The last couple of years of my career, as my duties were dwindling and I often found myself bored at work, I would wonder to the reading list bookshelf and poke at the books. Almost every time I would pick up Ender’s Game, think that the covers cool, read the back, and immediately put it back on the shelf. I just wasn’t interested. Until complete boredom got me one day and I flipped to the first page and started reading. That was almost two years ago. That’s how riveting I found this book. I would read it for a while, put it down for 50 books or so, read some more, read other books for a year. Whatever. This year I decided that I have far too many unfinished books sitting around and I really need to clear out the “currently reading” shelf.

I understand why the military wants there peeps to read this book. It is knee deep in strategy. Actually, I think I found myself drowning in it. Also, it showcases why it is sometimes best to lie to your people about what the hell is going on. Oh, and kids will do anything if you tell them it’s a game.

Something happened while I was reading this book that really bugs me. I use Goodreads and my book updates post to my personal Facebook account. As I got within 100 pages of finishing, someone commented that Ender’s Game is a really great book and that I would love it. They didn’t notice that it was taking me almost two years to read the damn thing. I had to contain myself from calling my friend names and simply respond with a “not so much.” I’m cool with people telling me that they loved a book but don’t try to tell me how I’m going to feel about a book. Obviously, I don’t love a book that is taking 2 years to read.

I didn’t hate it. Really. I just couldn’t get my head around a 10-year-old being The One to save The World but then they tricked him to do it. I’d like to say that I’m tired of the storyline of The Only One that can do whatever but this book might have been the start of all that. At least, it’s been around much longer than the current trend in YA fiction. Is this YA fiction? I’ve seen it lately on some YA fiction lists and I find that amusing since it’s also on military recommended reading list. That makes me wonder which rank collection The Hunger Games is on.

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Lists and Goals

Ugh. It's end of year list time. Everyone is making lists of the best of the best for 2014 and already putting out list of what I should be looking forward to next year. Blah. I'm not sure that I really care who thinks such and such is the best book of the year. 

I'm not going to give you a list of I what I thought were the best books of the year. On January 1, I'll give you a list of everything that I read in 2014. I won't even put it in rating order. Just a list. Maybe in order of date finished. Sounds good?

It's 2015 goal setting time, too. Book Riot has already published their arguments for and against the Goodreads challenge. I use the Goodreads challenge app every year. Mostly because it's an easy way to track what I've read, with some stats, without going crazy over a spreadsheet. Do I make goals for the year? Sure. 

In 2015 I'd like to have fewer books on the Currently Reading shelf. So, first I'll clear that thing out by either finishing the books on it or remove books that I'm really just never going to finish. This doesn't mean that I won't start new books. I've gotten pretty good at this audiobook thing and I want to get caught up on and stay current on the Riot Reads. I really like this program.

Then there is the annual promise to read down my TBR pile(s). I'm not a big book keeper so almost everything in my house needs to be read. Every year I promise to try harder to read some of the books that have been around the longest. I almost always fail but maybe if I read down the Currently Reading pile maybe that will help. Also, I'm only taking two classes next semester. Art classes. No book required. So, maybe I'll have more time. Maybe. 

Time. Who has it? My mom is home now but that hasn't freed up as much time. For now, at least I take her to PT/OT three times a week, which gives me two hours to sit and read or whatever. I also shuttle her to all her doctors appointments for now. This won't always be the case. As she gets better with her prosthetic leg, she won't need me to play nurse/chauffeur. We still have a lot to do around the house but house stuff is always getting in the way of reading time, right?

A Little Romance Over the Holidays

Season for Scandal (Holiday Pleasures, #3)Season for Scandal by Theresa Romain
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Every year I try to tackle a romance novel. Mostly just to say that, yes, I’ve read a few and, yes, I don’t like them. I’ve never come across one that I liked. Notice I said I try to read one. Since I don’t like them, I hate trying to pick one out. Sometimes, I forget and just get busy reading other things. I didn’t have that problem this year as I accidentally won six of them early in 2014, so I’m set for a few years.

This year I had no problem picking. I just closed my eyes and grabbed one off the shelf. When I opened my eyes, I found myself holding Season for Scandal by Theresa Romain, which, according to Goodreads, is part of a series. Great.

Anyway, Jane Tindall is a woman that wants her freedom. The story is set sometime in the 1800s so it’s not likely she’ll get much freedom. Currently, she is under the protection of her cousin and she’s pretty good at counting cards. Counting cards doesn’t taken into account others at the table that cheat and because of manners she can’t call him out for it. Enter Edmund Ware, who saves the day and proposes marriage so that Jane can use her dowry to pay back the debt Edmund just agreed to pay. Jane agrees.

Turns out, Jane is secretly in love with Edmund and when she blurts it out during the consummation of the marriage it is not well received. Of course not. And I don’t get the details of why not for another 300 pages. Edmund is entangled in some sort of scandal that, also, takes 300 pages to even explain There is a rouge trying to ruin, well, everyone really, including his own illegitimate family. I’m sure you can guess at how it all ends.

If you like your romance novels on the smutty side, there isn’t much of it here. It does start within 40 pages, then there is another scene over half way through the book. It consists of the standard romance novel dreck. Is romance novel sex even real? Does anyone really have sex like that? Whatever.

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The Dangers of a Red Dress

Land of Love and DrowningLand of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique through the Riot Read Book Club. If you’re not familiar with the Riot Read program, Book Riot has partnered with Quarterly to send out books. Members pay $25 (it started at $30) a month and you don’t get to know what the book is ahead of time. I like it because it feeds my Get Out of Your Comfort Zone need. It’s a chance to read a new author or something that I might not have picked up on my own. The first book was Landline by Rainbow Rowell, which I enjoyed and I can say that I would not have read it had Riot Read not sent it to me.

Although, I don’t consider much of what I’m going to write about spoilers, some might. So, continue at your own risk.

The story takes us through the lives of two sisters in the Virgin Islands beginning around the time of the Danish to American transfer. The oldest sister, Eeona, must raise the younger sister, Anette, after the death of their parents. Eeona was raised in a more fashionable manner and struggles to come to terms with their situation after left near penniless. She is saddled with the responsibilities of raising a young child, she no longer has the status she once had to marry well, and she desperately misses the father that abused her. Yes, dearest dad has an incestuous relationship with his oldest daughter. Eeona never once refers to it as abuse. Instead, she idolizes her father and would have argued that he loved her more than he loved her mother or his mistress. Dad’s a great guy, no?

Needless to say, Eeona makes some mistakes with raising Anette. Anette is much bolder than Eeona and enjoys more freedoms than her older sister. She does not suffer from worrying about What People Will Think. She falls in love with Jacob, who Eeona can’t abide and prohibits Anette from seeing. Because that has ever worked. Eeona makes the mistake of not telling Anette WHY Jacob is such a bad match for her. And so, it is many years later that Anette learns that the love of her life and father of her second child is her brother (from the mistress). This is not a secret that is kept from the reader. Why no one ever told Anette, or Jacob, that they are related still baffles me.

I struggled to settle into this book, but it wasn’t the subject matter that blocked me. It was the speech pattern for Anette. I’ve had this problem before with reading dialects. I will readily admit that I didn’t read Huck Finn in high school because of Jim’s dialect (I did, successfully, read it later in college). The story does switch perspectives through out so, at first, I found Anette’s sections a bit jarring but I got used to it. I was on the fence about continuing when I got to 100-page mark (this is where I usually decide). I just feeling meh about the whole story and wasn’t sure I want to spend any more time on it. I set it aside for a while and read a couple something else’s until I picked this one up again. I’m still on the fence about it but it was interesting enough to keep reading. Tiffany Yanique did do a wonderful job of immersing the reader into the lives of these people and life in the Virgin Islands.

History buffs beware! The book is not historically accurate and the author admits this in the note at the end. I didn’t know it while reading the book. I don’t think it would have made a difference to me but if you are extremely knowledgeable about the history of the Virgin Islands you might be grumbling throughout the book.

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The Not Funny Book About Cats Not Trying to Kill You

How to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill YouHow to Tell If Your Cat Is Plotting to Kill You by Matthew Inman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

It wasn’t funny.

The part about the cat trying to kill me is actually only one small chapter.

There is a chapter on how to tell if your cat is a raging homosexual, which refers to gay demons. Really?

I read this using my kobo app on my iPhone. No matter what I did, I couldn’t get the image the right size to be read easily without being blurry. If I hadn’t been struggling with that maybe I would have found The Funny. Maybe.

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No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale

No One Else Can Have YouNo One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Okay, so I read it. It took me way too long to read it but, you know, college and I’m taking five classes this term. Right now, I’m reading more college textbooks than anything else. It sucks.

Anyway, thanks internet. *shakes fist at computer*

As I read this book I kept being reminded of this time when I was a kid and the Catholic church felt that hell was going to rain down on Earth all because of a movie called The Last Temptation of Christ. My parents loaded us up in the car and we drove 40 miles to the nearest college town, where the movie was playing, just to watch it. I thought the movie sucked. If The Church had kept their damn mouth shut, no one would have gone to see this movie. But my interest in all things with controversy surrounding them was firmly planted and so I have watched a lot of mediocre movies and read a few mediocre books. I’ve also stumbled across a lot of really great books and movies, too.

So, what’s that got to do with anything, right?

I had never heard of Kathleen Hale until I happened across her article detailing her obsessive reaction to a bad and inaccurate review of her book on Goodreads. I found her article interesting enough that I clicked over to Goodreads to: a) check out her book, and b) see if I could read the offending review. I read the publishers write up and thought, “hmmmm.” I breezed through some of the reviews and thought, “meh.” I looked for the offending review and couldn’t find it. Whatever. I’m out.

A day or two later, I noticed that the internet seemed to be coming apart at the seams. A response to Ms. Hale’s article had been posted. People were outraged (okay, they still are). I clicked back over to Goodreads to look at the book. The page had exploded with 1-star reviews from people that were flat-out stating they weren’t going to read the book, they had burned their copy, the author kills puppies (wait, what?), etc., etc. (For the record, the author did not kill puppies. The author wrote a satirical piece written from the point of view of her childhood pets, all of which are now dead. That’s stretching it guys.)

That goofy looking sweater cover was starting to look a bit shiny. Hmmmm

Twitter was melting. Everyone had something to say (mostly negative, some of them passive aggressive) about Kathleen Hale. A person would have needed whatever god it is that they believe in to save them if they tried to defend her. (A list of supporters to blackball does not do ANYTHING to help reviewers argument that authors are the ones that are doing bad things for readers.)

I’m not really sure how I should feel about the whole brouhaha. I did finally see the review that sparked Ms. Hale’s obsession. But it wasn’t a review. I was a series of Goodreads status updates. It does contain inaccurate information, possibly do to a misreading of a few pages of the book. I’m sure someone is going to tell me I should be outraged that Ms. Hale stalked this person. I’m not. I think she should have skipped the showing up at the reviewers house part but I see no problem with outting a person that was using someone else’s online persona as her own. Using a pseudonym is one thing. Using someone else’s identity across several social media platforms is something else. Although, I’m not sure I would call it identity theft.

Well, by this time I just had to read the book to see what all the hate was about. (I’ve realized that I only do this when the hype goes south around a book or movie. If all the hype is positive around something, I loose interest.)

So, the book:

No One Else Can Have You is supposed to be a dark comedy about 16-year-old Kippy’s search for the murderer of her best friend. I think the publisher equates it to the movie Fargo. A movie. *sigh* Although quirky in spots, I don’t think it worked overall. I found myself thinking, more than once, this would make a better movie.

I’m not normally a big review reader for a couple reasons. First of all, I have found reviews on sites like Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever else skewed from the get go. Secondly, I’ll make up my own mind, thank you very much. Unfortunately, I read many reviews about No One Else Can Have You and some things stuck with me as I read.

I was not pissed off by Kippy’s trivializing comment about PTSD (something about a “post war flip out”). Why? Well, she’s 16-years-old. What does she know about anything? I’m a veteran. I live with PTSD. I’ve heard adults say worse.

Jokes involving domestic violence? Yes, there is one. Kippy and Davey use the ruse that he is her abusive boyfriend to attend a support group. Someone tosses out something like: maybe next time you’ll hug your girlfriend rather than beating her (NOT A DIRECT QUOTE sorry, I didn’t go back to look for it). It’s a bad joke. I’m not even sure that it’s a joke. See, there are real life assholes in the world that say jackass things like this. Some people even think they are funny. Hmmmm the author put something in her story that might make it seem believable. The. Horror.

Cloudy Meadows. I think I am the only one amused with the name of the mental institution. I also think this is were a lot of people wanted Ms. Hale to write a very different book. This is not a book with social commentary on the mentally ill. It’s a book with a mildly amusing plot point that involves an involuntary commitment and escape. I read nothing truly offensive here and I wonder how many people would have found these scenes funny had this been a movie vice a book.

Here’s something that I haven’t seen anyone else comment on: interest in Norse mythology equals racist Aryan Nazi. Now that makes me respond with a Fuck You.

Overall, I thought the book was just interesting enough to keep going. I would call it an airplane book as it can be read quickly. Had I found it on my own, without the help of controversy, I would say that by next year I won’t remember much of it. Thanks to all the hate, I don’t know that how long it will hang around in my head but probably longer than it should. I thought it was a decent first book from a new author and her craft will improve as she writes more books.

For those of you that wish Kathleen Hale nothing but ill will, I suggest that you just stop talking about her. I am proof that your outrage will gain her book sales.

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LANDLINE

LandlineLandline by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More like 3.5 of 4 stars.

This is the first book by Rainbow Rowell that I’ve ever read. It was the first selection in Book Riot’s Riot Read and I nice light read to kick off a book club.

Georgie McCool is a thirty-something sitcom writer that has been married to her college sweetie since, well, college. She mostly has everything people are supposed to have: a couple of kids, a successful career that is about to break big, a nice house, and a loving husband. Well, maybe. Georgie and Neal have fallen into the same rut that most couples do and their relationship is in trouble.

In order to get her big break in showbiz, Georgie has to duck out of Christmas with Neal’s family in Omaha. To her surprise, Neal decides to take the kids and go without her instead of staying home with her. One night, while at her parents house, Georgie calls Neal from a landline in her old room because she has the worst cell phone battery in the history of cell phones. She manages to talk to Neal but quickly realizes this isn’t Neal her Husband but Neal her College Boyfriend.

Can she use this connection to save her marriage? Or should she change history use this connection to “break up” with Neal before they have a chance to be unhappy?

This is a cute story, rather predictable, but enjoyable nonetheless. I found it to be a nice palate cleansing book to read after that big “heavy” read that weighs on the mind for days after finishing.

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Sinister Wisdom

Sinister Wisdom, 93, Southern Lesbian-Feminist Herstory 1968-94Sinister Wisdom, 93, Southern Lesbian-Feminist Herstory 1968-94 by Julie R. Enszer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was cruising the Internet, earlier this summer, looking for any kind of local bookstores. That I know of, my county only has one small used bookstore and a Barnes and Noble. I try to keep an eye out for independent bookstores that sell new books but none have cropped up. Then, I found a feminist bookstore that is an hour away and in another county.

Hmmmm Road trip?

Maybe?

Not likely.

At least, I kept thinking that I’d go but then find a ton of reasons to not go. I decided the best thing to do would be to order some books and go pick them up, which happens to be an option. This is when I happened across Sinister Wisdom: A Multicultural Lesbian Literary & Art Journal. The subtitle is what really grabbed my attention: Southern Lesbian-Feminist Herstory 1968-94.

What?

The South has a lesbian-feminist history? Wait…what’s a herstory?

I ordered the journal along with a book by Virginia Wolfe and a few days later I was bound for what turned out to be a very tiny bookstore that seems to be a major asset to the local community. I’m not sure that I will go back but I’ll probably try to support it in some way.

On to the journal.

Sinister Wisdom was founded in 1976 and is currently published out of Berkeley, California four times a year (I’m not sure if it was founded in California). It is “a multicultural, multi-class, lesbian space. We seek to open, consider and advance the exploration of community issues. We recognize the power of language to reflect our diverse experiences and to enhance our ability to develop critical judgement, as lesbians evaluating our comity and our world” (from inside front cover).

This particular issue, 93, concentrates on The South from 1968-94 in the form of collected interviews, poems, song lyrics, memoirs, and supplement information that can be accessed via a QR code or special web address listed at the end of certain sections. I will admit that I didn’t check out all of the supplement information but I was surprised by what I read.

Pleasantly.

I lived in Florida from about 1975-93, when I joined the Navy and left for 20 years and then returned after I retired. I had no idea of the things that were going on just 40 miles from my home. From health centers to the North Forty to peace marches and women’s shelters, it’s all here straight from some of the people that participate or founded it. It is fascinating. The articles are easy to read and filled with personal stories and emotions from the writers.

The only thing that tripped me up was the use of herstory or womyn in some places. I had never seen this practice before and I can only guess as to why it was done. It is possible that it’s a generational thing as I’ve read other feminist material that promised not to use the word “herstory.” I am actually having problems typing this review as my iMac keeps changing it to her story (grrrrr). This wasn’t a distraction from the work, just something that made me go hmmmmm.

You can find more about Sinister Wisdom (and order copies) at www.sinsterwisdom.org.

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Feminism Does What?

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism MattersFull Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters by Jessica Valenti
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I recently found a quasi-local feminist book store that was starting a book club and Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti was their first selection. Since the book store is in a college town, this book must have been a good choice because it seems to be aimed at college age women. I am not part of the target crowd and wasn’t terribly impressed.

Valenti breaks feminism down to its core elements and explains it well enough. She even uses a dialog that is conversational and makes no apologies for her use of profanity. I actually found the tone enjoyable and very easy to read. Most of the major misunderstandings about feminism are addressed and she admits where more work is needed. So, what didn’t I like: if you are a conservative Christian you can just fuck off. Yes, we need to come together and fight the good fight but don’t you dare be, date, or fuck a Republican. Way to bring all sides together. Good job. I also found it irritating that she would argue against calling women names on one page and then turn around on the very next page and call a senator a jackass. Good job proving that feminist aren’t man haters. Let’s all respect each other and have a dialog except for that jackass. Hypocritical much?

I found the entire notion of feminism making me better at sex just silly. Self-confidence and knowing what I want from my partners makes me better at sex. The idea that feminism is responsible for that seems like a notion that only an academic would dream up. Like I said, I’m not the target audience for this book. Maybe college students need to hear that feminism makes them better at sex, I just don’t buy it.

So, who is this book for? I would say that anybody knows absolutely nothing to very little about feminism could start here. It does address a great many topics and stereotypes about feminism and it is a very quick and easy read.

I should add that I read an older edition of the book. While looking for a copy of the book for the book club meeting I noticed that an updated edition was about to be released. My book club was meeting before that edition was released (why would you pick a book that was about to be updated) so I read the earlier edition. I ended up missing the book club meeting due to a family medical emergency and it seems going to that meeting was the only way to find out the next book or anything else about the club. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

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Gone Girl

Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was stumbling along with Red Rising by Pierce Brown so I decided to take a break and try something else. So, I picked up Gone Girl and 30 pages in I accidentally skimmed this article on Book Riot (major spoiler). Multitasking at its finest lead me to only pick up on one of the spoilers in the article and it didn’t do any major ruining of the book. At least, I don’t think it did.

I love this book. It is a well crafted Did He Kill His Wife story. Almost all of the characters are worthy of the readers dislike. Except for Go. She is the only character in the book that I liked at the beginning and still liked at the end.

The story, on the surface, is simple enough: Nick and Amy meet, fall in love, get married, and live mostly happily for a few years. When the economy tanks and both loose their jobs, Nick moves his wife from the big city to a small town in a middle state. She’s not happy about it. Their marriage begins to stumble and one day Amy disappears and all eyes turn to Nick.

The narrative switches from present day search for Amy to Amy’s diary entries that seem to tell a side of the marriage that no one outside the marital home could know.

But maybe they don’t. I can’t really tell you because spoilers.

I hate this book. If you clicked on the link above to the Book Riot article (seriously, DON’T, unless you’ve already read Gone Girl) just know that I agree 100% with the article. I hate what it represents. And, I think the ending was a little extreme and not plausible.

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