Time to Play Catch-Up

My last post was at the end of August. Yipes. I can make a lot of excuses (my daughter turned one, and I threw a huge shindig; holidays and houseguests; lots of baby time, not as much me time), but the truth of the matter is this: I just haven’t felt like wasting my time writing reviews of mediocre books.

So, I’ve made an executive decision. I will not write reviews of mediocre books. I have a massive stack of to-be-reviewed books, and I have pared it down to four: two books that you should read and two books that you might think you should read but you absolutely should not read. The rest? They are going straight to Little Free Libraries around town without being reviewed. Done and done.

To celebrate the new year, I’m giving myself a clean desk. And I’m giving you these four reviews! Continue reading

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A Floating Bookstore, Public Shamings, and A Manhattan Clematis

The good news: I’m back to reading regularly again. The bad news: I can’t seem to find sufficient free time for reading and writing. I have a backlog of books that I need to review . . . but when I have a free hour during nap time, I’d prefer to read (or, let’s be honest, watch Jane the Virgin) than sit down and crank out a blog post. So, I’m cheating by reverting to the mini-review system I used at the end of my pregnancy. No, there is not a common theme that ties these books together. No, I am not going to weave these reviews together, so they flow seamlessly one into the next. These are just three short reviews of three random books. Enjoy!

Continue reading

The Husband’s Secret

17802724.jpgThe Husband’s Secret
Liane Moriarty
Published July 30, 2013
394 pages (Kindle e-book)

This book begins with a single paragraph intended to foreshadow what’s to come. Here it is:

Poor, poor Pandora. Zeus sends her off to marry Epimetheus, a not especially bright man she’s never even met, along with a mysterious covered jar. Nobody tells Pandora a word about the jar. Nobody tells her not to open the jar. Naturally, she opens the jar. What else has she got to do? How was she to know that all those dreadful ills would go whooshing out to plague mankind forevermore, and that the only thing left in the jar would be hope? Why wasn’t there a warning label? And then everyone’s like, Oh, Pandora. Where’s your willpower? You were told not to open that box, you snoopy girl, you typical woman with your insatiable curiosity; now look what you’ve gone and done. When for one thing it was a jar, not a box, and for another—how many times does she have to say it?—nobody said a word about not opening it.

And foreshadow it does. The played-out literary trope, the annoying writing tics (like the excessive use of italics), the attempted (and unsuccessful) cutesy voice, the helpless (and stupid) woman: there’s much, much more of all of that in the remaining four-hundred pages of this over-hyped, uninspired novel. Continue reading

Fangirl

I LOVE the fact that Fifty Shades of Grey actually started as weird Twilight fanfic. All of that light BDSM between Christian Grey and Anastasia began in an episodic masterpiece entitled Master of the Universe, starring Twilight characters Edward and Bella, which E.L. James penned using the fanfic pseudonym “Snowqueen’s Icedragon.” It’s just so perfect! I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

There is a whole world of fan fiction available for free with the click of your mouse (a whole bunch of which can be found here). The idea is this: people “borrow” preexisting characters (like Edward and Bella from Twilight or Scooby Doo or Veronica Mars or whomever) and write new stories about them. Sometimes, these fanfic stories elaborate upon things that happened in the “real” books/TV shows/movies. And, other times, they reinvent the lives and motivations of the characters.

I can honestly say that I have never read a piece of fan fiction in my life (aside from my half-hearted and failed attempt to read Fifty Shades of Grey). Fifty Shades of Grey is, undoubtedly, the best known, most profitable piece of fanfic ever written. And it is horrendous and unreadable.

So why on earth did I think it would be a good idea to read a book about a chick who writes fanfic? I blame Mom Brain (it’s a good crutch these days). Continue reading

This Week in Books: a Grossly Disappointing Follow-Up, a Drunk Lady Hiding in a Closet, and a Born Foodie

Baby girl has decided that she’s in no rush to arrive, so I’ve been tearing through books to try to keep myself distracted from constantly obsessing over when she will decide to make her debut. This week’s books include a debut novel that has gotten a ton of good early hype and two books from authors I’ve enjoyed in the past (one a huge let-down, the other a strong and happy return). Continue reading

Shadow of Night

Shadow_of_Night_2012_NovelShadow of Night
Deborah Harkness
Published July 10, 2012
577 pages (hardcover)

If you happened to be friends with my husband and me for any appreciable length of time, then chances are we would’ve posed a critical question to you at some point during our friendship. It is a question that represents one of the few things about which we fundamentally disagree.

What is it? Life after death? Abortion? Gay rights? Please. We agree on all those things. No, the question to which I am referring represents a far more serious, important matter.

It is simply this: What is your ranking of the Back to the Future movies?

Back_to_the_FutureBack_to_the_Future_Part_IIBack_to_the_Future_Part_III

One of us (the right one) ranks them in order of release: 1, 2, 3 (Hover boards over petticoats. Every single time). The other (the wrong one) ranks them: 1, 3, 2.

We have not kept a scientific record of the results, but, if I were to estimate, I would say that they are evenly split. Interestingly, women often favor 2 over 3 (like me), and men often favor 3 over 2 (like Bryan). Significantly (and not at all surprisingly), every person we have ever polled has ranked the first movie in the top position. Continue reading

One Kick

18774963One Kick
Chelsea Cain
Published August 19, 2014
306 pages (hardcover)

I have a friend who told me a few years ago that I had to watch Revenge. This friend is the only person I know who DVRs soap operas and watches them religiously, so I should have known what I was getting into.

Revenge is, in a word, terrible (I know because I really gave it a shot. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I watched all twenty-six episodes of the first season and one episode of the second season before finally throwing in the towel).

The main character is this chick named Emily who goes to the Hamptons to exact (you guessed it!) revenge on a family of rich assholes who ruined her father’s life and had him sent to prison when Emily was just a little girl. Emily will stop at nothing to get back at these jerks . . . and she has trained her little heart out with martial-arts masters in Japan (obviously), so she can get revenge like a true badass:

Imagine a book that is similar in concept but even worse (and more far-fetched) in execution, and you have One Kick.  Continue reading