Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Latest Stack of Books

This started out as like three books, but then I realized I've read allthethingseverwritten in the last what, two months? So WHY am I all stalled out on Eleanor and Park? It's good! It's funny and I'm completely engaged, so why am I not reading?

Well. To be honest, I know why. It's because I'm too busy playing spider solitaire on Ava's kindle and plowing through all seven seasons of Big Bang Theory.

Anyway. This post ended up being reviews of The Long Earth, Hyperbole and a Half, In the Woods, The Likeness, Shovel Ready and (not) Life After Life. (These links aren't 'affiliate, if you're interested, they're just the links to Amazon so you can see the books if you want. I got each and every single one of these at the library though. Hillingdon Libraries FOR THE WIN.)

First, The Long Earth. Not my cup of tea.

From the inside jacket:

The possibilites are endless. Just be careful what you wish for....)

1916: The Western Front.
 Private Percy Blakeney wakes up. He is lying on fresh spring grass. He can hear birdsong, and the wind in the leaves. Where has the mud, blood and blasted landscape of no-man's-land gone? For that matter, where has Percy gone?

2015: Madison, Wisconsin. Police officer Monica Jansson is exploring the burned-out home of a reclusive--some said mad, others allege dangerous--scientist who seems to have vanished. Sifting through the wreckage, Jansson finds a curious gadget: a box containing some rudimentary wiring, a three-way switch, and...a potato. It is the prototype of an invention that will change the way humankind views the world forever.

The first novel in an exciting new collaboration between Discworld creator Terry Pratchett and the acclaimed SF writer Stephen Baxter, The Long Earth transports readers to the ends of the earth and far beyond. All it takes is a single step...

Sounds interesting, right?

It wasn't.  I don't even know how this ended up on my list. I'll probably never know. My dad? EW? SK? Who knows. But they had it at the library and seriously, doesn't it seem interesting?!?!

It's boring. To copy the review I left on Good Reads: I thought it was meh. The way they wrote the conversations was annoying, so often the people spoke like robots. The first three hundred pages were boring, and I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the last hundred and twenty. Could be that I'm just not smart enough for this sort of story though, I can definitely see how some people might really like this. I highly doubt I'll be reading the next one...but you never know.

It just didn't do anything for me. AT ALL.

Now Hyperbole and a Half, on the other hand, TOTALLY did all the things to me. All the feelings that have ever existed or will exist in the history of ever- I felt them while reading this. At the same time. It was WONDERFUL. Exquisite even.

From the back of the book:
This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative--like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it--but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
                                            Stories about dogs
                                            The secret to eternal happiness*
                                           *These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

I've heard she has a website, but honestly, I haven't gone to it. This is going to sound insane, but hear me out. It's the same way I feel about the experience I had at the Harry Potter Studios: it was SO COMPLETELY PERFECT AND AWE INSPIRING the first time, I can't bear the idea of taking the risk of returning, and having it be not as magical.

I know. I'm cray. Trust me, I KNOW.

But I can't risk going to the blog and finding out something I don't like about her, which will then color the way I look back on the book.

I loved this book SO MUCH. I can't even describe it to you, it's just a bunch of ramblings (likey likey) with horrible drawings. Like reading a horribly illustrated comic book? I wouldn't know, because as nerdy as I am, I've never read comic books.  Weird, right?

They're not really about anything in particular. There's a few about her depression, which are heart wrenching, and as someone who battles depression, the most accurate and spot on descriptions I've EVER read, seriously EVER, but mostly they're just sweet, hilarious ramblings about her life.

Just trust me. GO READ THIS BOOK.  I never read nonfiction, but I'd heard about this and I've read the depression one a few times, so when I saw it at the library I snatched it up. I'm so glad I did!! Honestly, this book CHANGED MY LIFE.

The one where she eats the cake?!?! HOLY SHIT. I peed myself. SO EPIC.  I'm gonna risk finding her blog to see if she's got that one up.  Hold on.

Here it is. It's different from the book, slightly, the pics are different (maybe the UK book is different?) and it's not AS funny, but it's pretty close. JUST GO GET THE BOOK!!! GET THE BOOK!!! (Double points if you name that movie.)

In the Woods and The Likeness

So these are the first two in a series recommended by my beloved SK. In the Woods sounded really good, so I grabbed it up: When he was twelve years old, Adam Ryan went playing in the woods with his two best friends. He never saw them again. Their bodies were never found, and Adam himself was discovered with his back pressed against an oak tree and his shoes filled with blood. He had no memory of what had happened.
Twenty years on, Rob Ryan - the child who came back - is a detective in the Dublin police force. He's changed his name. No one knows about his past. Then a little girl's body is found at the site of the old tragedy and Rob is drawn back into the mystery. Knowing that he would be thrown off the case if his past were revealed, Rob takes a fateful decision to keep quiet but hope that he might also solve the twenty-year-old mystery of the woods.

Sounds good, no? And it was. Expect it turns out that Rob is sort of a dick. And I found the idea that no one realizes he's Adam a little far fetched. I mean, this is Dublin in the twenty first century, not Dublin in the fourteen hundreds. Surely they have Google? Surely they do background checks on detectives? I dunno. But the case itself was very interesting, and kept me guessing for a good while. I especially liked the way you sort of got a better than average behind the scenes look at police work. I really got into the details she provided, the whiteboard and the busy work- just all the nitty gritty stuff they don't usually show on TV. She's a REALLY good writer. And throughout the entire book, there's the sort of intense but also subtle (can it be both? Because it is) foreshadowing, which I REALLY REALLY enjoyed.

But yeah, the main character was a dick and I thought it was far fetched that he was even on the case. But it was good enough, so I picked up the next one, which was so fricking far fetched that I could barely read it without rolling my eyes: Still traumatised by her brush with a psychopath, Detective Cassie Maddox transfers out of the Murder squad and starts a relationship with fellow detective Sam O'Neill. When he calls her to the scene of his new case, she is shocked to find that the murdered girl is her double. What's more, her ID shows she is Lexie Madison - the identity Cassie used, years ago, as an undercover detective. With no leads, no suspects and no clues to Lexie's real identity, Cassie's old boss spots the opportunity of a lifetime: send Cassie undercover in her place, to tempt the killer out of hiding to finish the job.

So yes, she looks identical to the dead girl, so she moves in to her house. And none of her friends- her close, spend all day at work together then all night at home together- none of her friends notice.

Give me a fucking break!!!

So yeah, it freaked me out because I'm crazy and I became obsessed with demanding that Angela assure me that she would not be fooled by my double.

But if you're a normal person who is not terrified of your friends believing you've been replaced by a double, you might enjoy this.

I didn't like it better than the first one, but wanna know something weird? I didn't realize this until I wrote up this review!! Weird, right? Either way, I've already got the next two from the library, so I'm obviously hooked. Far fetchedness aside (that's a word) she's just a fantastic writer and I'll probably read everything just puts out.

And now, on to the good stuff!!! These next two were EASILY the best of this bunch. Well, except for Hyperbole, which is on its own special planet of awesomeness, but I figured that was implied.

Shovel Ready will easily be one of my Top Five Things of 2014. That being said, this book is NOT for everyone. DO YOUR RESEARCH. This book is seriously rated R, it's pretty dark, all things considered.

From the back: 'I don't want to know your reasons. I don't care. Think of me as a bullet. Just point.'

Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, before New York became a burnt-out shell. Now the wealthy spend their days tapped into virtual reality; the rest have to fend for themselves in the streets. Now there's nothing but garbage.
So he became a hit man. He doesn't ask questions, he works quickly, and he's handy with a box-cutter.

When he's hired to kill the daughter of a high-profile evangelist, Spademan's life is upended. He will have to navigate two worlds - both the slick fantasy and the wasteland reality - to finish the job, clear his conscience, and make sure he's not the one who winds up in the ground.

He's like Dexter, but with a MUCH more lax code.  As in, he'll kill anyone except children. And he'll kill random old dudes just because he feels like it, even if no one has hired him.

It bothered me that the conversations aren't in quotes, but I got over it pretty quickly. It's short choppy sentences, but not in the same way that Jack Reacher books are, it's WAY better writing. At first I was bothered that there wasn't enough back story about the rest of the county, but now I realize that that just doesn't even matter. It was so good!! I'm telling ya, five stars. I gave it four on Good Reads, but I'm gonna change it to five. It just gets better and better the more I think back on it.

But again: THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. He's a hit man, basically without any morals whatsoever. I've read a lot of dark stuff in my day, but this one is different. So I don't want anyone to read it and then come crying to me that it was awful and you hate me. DO YOUR RESEARCH.

Life After Life is one of the best books I've ever read.

Do I say that too often? I'm serious this time though. In fact, as I'm writing this, I've decided that I just can't, and I'm going to have to do a hole post on this book and the movie About Time. So look forward to that, ladies.

Tonight I WILL PLOW THROUGH Eleanor and Park, and then after I read the two Dublin Murder books I've got (Faithful Place and Broken Harbour), I'm going to hunt down Ocean at the End of the Lane as per the always spot on Meredith, and the next Jack Reacher. Aren't libraries the BEST?!?! Can you imagine how much it would cost me to do this on amazon!?! Hint: a shit ton.

Anyway. Got any good ones for me? Because if you haven't heard, I got my library card and can read basically everything ever written for FREE.


  1. Too much pressure!!! The Ocean at the End of the Lane was just a delicious escape for me. I'm not usually into the whole magical realism thing, but I really enjoyed this, even if I couldn't put my finger on a specific reason why.

    Actually, I think that's a lie. I think I don't like magical realism, but I really do. I liked Miss Peregrine and The Night Circus, and I liked Mr. Penumbra's 24 hour Bookstore too, which I'd say is kinda magical realism, and couldn't put my finger on what I liked about that one either (other than the glow in the dark cover). So really, I think I like magical realism, but I just can't verbalize what I like about it. Probably the fact that I let go of whether or not the plot makes sense and just have a little fun.

    Longest comment ever. And it's about to get longer :)

    Have you read We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver? I seriously never, EVER recommend this book to anyone because it is kind of awful and uncomfortable to read. People were complaining about Gone Girl being unpleasant to read? This is one million times worse. But at the same time, it was pretty damn haunting. I read it probably in 2007 and I still think about it. I don't think I ever need to read it again in my whole life, but I was glad I read it the once. That said, I think you could read it without thinking I'm 100% crazy for suggesting it, so there you go.

    Looking forward to hearing about Life after Life!

  2. Hyperbole and a Half!!!! I haven't read the book but I've been a fan of the blog for years. Her blog isn't like a normal lifestyle blog or anything - my guess is it's exactly the same as the book. Her blog is just ramblings with funny drawings too. I used to read some of the posts aloud to Rob and we'd laugh so hard.

  3. Your reviews are duly noted. I now have a reading list the length of my arm! I'm constantly perplexed about why I have no time to read! I keep thinking...when am I going to find an hour or two to read? I spend an hour reading blogs. I dunno.