Friday, August 31, 2018

To All the Books I've Loved Before

Just a quick recap of some recent books I've read:

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North. Harry is a man who dies and is reborn back into his old life. Again and again. Interestingly, it wasn't interesting. DNF, unfortunately.

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis. It was... interesting. It was almost like a YA Jane Doe but more complicated and nowhere near as satisfying. I enjoyed it though. A teenage girl mass murderer who falls in love and the unfortunate boy who loves her. Wished for a better ending.

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi. Wow. This was a great read. Epic adventure, strong heroine, magic. It felt like I was reading a folklore story handed down from the ages. I couldn't put it down. But dare I say I was a tad frustrated by the ending? (The hero really deserved better and never got redemption. His sister rocked though.)

Sin is a Puppy that Follows You Home by Balaraba Ramat Yakubu. Someone was lauding it on Twitter and it sounded interesting and sat in my Amazon cart forever. It was a surprising book, very different describing a life I couldn't relate to at all, a world of women who are possessions and not necessarily even human and well... I loved it.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. Sorry. DNF.

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. I didn't know anything about this book when I started reading it. And it was ... well, I'd call it a quiet, epic fantasy. I kept thinking it wasn't my cup of tea but I couldn't stop reading. And even though the ending was like walking into a brick wall, the more I thought about it the more I appreciated it.

I'm currently reading The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I'd read All the Crooked Saints and it was one of the best books I'd read in years. Raven Boys isn't as magical (then again, I'm still in the beginning) but this woman can write. She's rocking my world and I'm so grateful she's out there. She's also amazing to follow on Twitter and if you aren't, you should. She's magic.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society: the movie


#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • SOON TO BE A NETFLIX FILM • A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.
“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.” January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb. . . .

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Lori:  This is one of those books that everybody read when it came out, 90% of the people who read it probably enjoyed it and then promptly forgot it.Watching the movie it was easy to see why it was so forgettable.

The story is just... obvious. There's nothing about it to really promote. The ideas are multitude but none of them are really explored or drawn out. I felt like I was supposed to relate to a group of readers but the story was less about the reading and writing and more about the deep, dark secret of missing resident Elizabeth who disappeared and might be dead.

When the emotional depth of the film is in a character who isn't there... neither is the heart of the film. It was empty. 

The romance wasn't. 

I was very disappointed.

Carolyn:  Oh, I'm so disappointed to read your opinion. Certainly the movie isn't as indepth as the book; in fact it was rather superficial. I would have expected to see scenes from Elizabeth's capitivity or more involvement with the fellow who gave information to the Nazis. And I'm almost positive Juliet stayed in Elizabeth's cottage while she was on the island and found more insight into Elizabeth by doing so.

Still, I enjoyed this movie. It wasn't hard to follow, it didn't piss me off and I liked most of the characters even if they weren't necessarily fully fleshed out. And I really enjoyed the ambience of the 1940's and especially the fashions.  

Lori:  I think maybe there just wasn't the emotional connection in watching the movie as there was in reading the book. Such as, her American fiancee I liked more than the pig farmer (although he was much cuter). And there was no time spent showing the characters really connecting so it fell flat.

Netflix is trying to bring more romance into what they're offering and I appreciate it but so far it's just falling flat for me. There's a disconnect between seeing the characters actually experience each other and engage and just being expected to believe it without really seeing it.

This just fell flat for me. I'm almost sorry to say it because I love romance but I needed and wanted more.

Carolyn: sounds like you need to reread the book.  ;-)

It was an enjoyable movie and even more so if you haven't read the book.Everybody seems so innocent back then, even though I know they weren't. I'm glad Netflix made it; hope they find more inspiration in the romance world.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

They Call Me Crazy by Kelly Stone Gamble

Cass Adams is crazy, and everyone in Deacon, Kansas, knows it. But when her good-for-nothing husband, Roland, goes missing, no one suspects that Cass buried him in their unfinished koi pond. Too bad he doesn’t stay there for long. Cass gets arrested on the banks of the Spring River for dumping his corpse after heavy rain partially unearths it.

The police chief wants a quick verdict—he’s running for sheriff and has no time for crazy talk. But like Roland’s corpse, secrets start to surface, and they bring more to light than anybody expected. Everyone in Cass’s life thinks they know her—her psychic grandmother, her promiscuous ex-best friend, her worm-farming brother-in-law, and maybe even her local ghost. But after years of separate silences, no one knows the whole truth. Except Roland. And he’s not talking.

 Lori:  Carolyn?? What were you thinking when you told me to read this?

I loved it.

I thought it was a romance because I read it without knowing anything about it and then pow! Cass is nuts, she's killed her husband and is this supposed to be a romance?

I do have a complaint with the book and that was that it was multiple character POVs and all in first person which I didn't find well delineated at the beginning. But once everyone was clear in my mind, we were off to the races.

Cass is a great heroine. She isn't written to be easily liked but the more time you spend in her head, the more likable she becomes. Her ex isn't a horrible man who beat her or was even evil. Not really. But he wasn't a good guy either. Did he deserve to die? Read the book and decide.

And yes, there is a romance. And secrets. And psychics. And best friends with babies of dubious daddydom.

What did you think, Red?

Carolyn: I think the ending was the best part, heh. And that's saying a lot because this book gets two thumbs up from me. My memory ain't worth shit anymore, but parts of this book pop into my head and I have to laugh and the ending was a shocker.

I too liked Cass. Well, you know I like eccentrics and I would call her an eccentric rather than crazy. I did like there was a good reason for her craziness. It was not something that ever went completely away as the book went on. I know we've all read books where one of the main character's bad traits - grumpy men, bitchy women - suddenly disappear, never to return again and the first chapter person is not recognizable as the last chapter person. Not so here. I liked Cass, Roland had his moments. Clay ... Clay took some getting used to, lol.

Lori:  Clay was an interesting character because he slowly developed whereas everyone else was bam! in your face. But I liked him because he was the calm in the middle of Cass' storm.

I'm very much not into reading romance right now although a story with romantic elements is all up my alley. And a strong woman is what I want and need more than anything else.

Cass, despite her crazy, is a strong character. She affects everyone around her. She brings out people's feelings. And even at the end when she's facing everything that happened, understanding how her family works and why she needs them, she's the center of their storms. They need her too. 

There's a second book with Cass and I downloaded it but I'm not sure about reading it. I really liked this book. I'd really hate to see the author misstep in a continued story, you know? But if it reads like this one did then I really want to go there. Cass might be too much to have in your life on a constant basis but she's sure someone I'd like to visit with occasionally.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Jane Doe: A Novel by Victoria Helen Stone

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.
Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.
But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.
Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.
Just as he did to her.

Carolyn: Well, here we are again, talking about a book that's new and different. Very, very different, lol.  Just in case you didn't know, Stone writes romance as Victoria Dahl but this is not a romance although I was completely satisfied with the ending. Also I've never read Dahl but that will probably be changing soon.  :-)

I must say, this is a completely appropriate story for "The Year of the Woman" or whatever they (the ubiquitous 'they') are calling it.

So Lori - nature or nurture?

Lori:  Oh so nurture. The few glimpses we get into Jane's family (especially her Mother) actually makes one delighted that Jane didn't become a serial killer (a real fear she had herself at one time).

Jane is a self-professed sociopath. What I love about this is that her awareness that she has a disease primarily, she understands it and she accepts this about herself. She knows that her childhood short-circuited something inside her and she's learned to use it to her advantage. Jane has no soft fuzzies inside her but what she cares about, she cares about deeply.

She's also the first heroine I ever read in my long, long life who wants what she wants and doesn't stop herself from getting it. I want to be Jane in that sense, want cake? Have cake. Want a cat? Get a cat. Want revenge? Destroy a few lives.

There were a few things about this book that made my heart happy. I loved Jane. We all have a little possible sociopathy inside us and we all try our best to ignore our darkness. To finally read a heroine and not a man who has this darkness and lives well with it... it's a revelation. It feels so good.

I like revenge. And Steven. Steven is a little twisted himself and preys on women's vulnerabilities. He has his darkness too. But his is hidden under being a good guy, a great catch, a true Christian. He's a guy we've all dealt with who makes you feel a little less. Makes you choose not to eat that slice of cake, not to complain that you're still hungry, horny or not listened to.

I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it. I've read it twice already and will probably open it up again.

Carolyn:  So I looked it up and what it boils down to is that sociopathy is acquired early in childhood and a psychopath is born that way. Based on this, I suppose there can be different degrees of sociopathy and many of us may have a touch or more of it. Certainly I've wondered about myself, especially when it seems like everyone is so glad a heroine forgives someone who hurt her badly, like a mother or father who was abusive and all of a sudden the antagonist has enother side that's supposed to mitigate the circumstances and I'm all  FUCK NO! GET THAT TOXIC PERSON OUT OF YOUR LIFE! I DON'T CARE IF SHE'S YOUR MOTHER/SISTER/WHATEVER!

They never listen to me. *sigh*

All this to say, I liked Jane too, lol. And I totally agreed with her decision for Steven's punishment. Another reason I don't go for the death penalty. Let 'em suffer instead. Bassards!

But anyway, back to the book. Objective points: very good writing, pacing, characterization. I don't remember any formating mistakes, at least nothing that took me out of the story. Subjectively, I can't remember reading anything like this heroine; she makes 'tough' heroines seem like blowhards or children playing a role. Jane is the real deal.

Lori:  Years ago, I worked in a medical office and one of the MAs there decided to make my job hellish. We had our own little parking garage and I remember finding out which car was hers and always having in the back of my mind that I could key her car. I never did. Jane would have.

Jane would have.

This book is a delight for anyone who has ever felt unheard, unexpressed. Every time someone helpfully suggested you not have that slice of birthday cake, you not turn your back on the obnoxious guy. This book is for women who have had to deal with men.

Following Victoria Dahl on Twitter, I know this book emotionally takes aim at the trolls, the mansplainers, the misogynists who swear they love women but just not any that apparently exist in the real world...

I want more books  like this one. More Jane-type heroines who see the bullshit and manipulation. This isn't just Jane's revenge fantasy. This is all of ours.

Carolyn:  You got that right. Perhaps that's why I like Kate Daniels so much. She can see the bullshit, doesn't accept it and has no problem lopping a few heads off. Of course, her  bad guys are much more overt than Steven.

I wonder if this could be a series?  There are so many people who need Jane's attention.  :-D Anyway, both of us highly recommend this book and have no problem giving it an A. It's a book for the season.

Oh, and have a link!  Definitions

Friday, August 3, 2018


How are you all doing?

Personally, I'm exhausted. Deep down, beyond the bones, tired to my soul.

America is eroding before our eyes. Every day becomes harder to slog through when it feels like we're pushing against an ocean.

I don't know how to do this. We're not prepared for such venal behavior in our world. And we're like rocks with the beating waves, constantly diminished by the pounding... becoming grains of sand.

My sister and her wife came to visit and the wife got pneumonia. We suddenly had a sick, very sick, person in the house and all plans were changed.

My daughter is a senior and suddenly sees the world looming ahead and she's panicking. She doesn't know how to do this. How to adult. I want to tell her that neither do I. Neither do any of us. But we manage. We keep going even when we're running on empty and nothing feeds us anymore.

I'm grabby hands with anything that brings me pleasure nowadays because nothing lasts. Books give less escape, movies disappoint. Crafts give moments of pleasure but sometimes they're so damned hard to do (last night I tried to start knitting with the worst yarn and worst needles I've ever used. I threw it across the room in anger and despair.)

I don't know how to recharge anymore.

Nobody prepares us for this. For the soul crushing fear, the paranoia, the terror of wondering what comes next when the world you know ids changing for the worse.

When Nazis can be very fine people, how do you sleep well? When babies are taken from their parents and molested and die, how do you be a part of humanity?

How do we do this? We're not just yelling into a void, we're dying in that void.

America is dead.