Friday, April 8, 2016

Jane Steele - Lyndsay Faye

A loose retelling of Jane Eyre except she kills a lot of people (she's not, like, a swift-handed crimestress, which is what I had sort of been led to believe. She's just a woman who finds herself in some unfortunate circumstances, and once you've accidentally murdered your cousin in self-defence, you find yourself accidentally murdering all sorts of unsavory assholes).

But also for real, in life.
It's charmingly and readably pseudo-Victorian, and it retains much of what I love about Jane Eyre (small, fierce protagonist; adorable fraught relationship between said protagonist and her craggy employer) and omits some of the stuff that I also love but admittedly find kind of problematic (mad wife in the attic) and adds some Sikh elements which make me a little like, Is this appropriation? Is this orientalism? Am I indulging in too much hand-wringing about this, or not hand-wringing enough?

Honestly. I don't.
Jane Eyre + murder tho. Also secrets of questionable parentage. Also mighty and capable lady-characters.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Carry On, Warrior - Glennon Doyle Melton

This is the kind of living your best, most honest, most vulnerable, most connected life-type memoir I can get behind. PEOPLE SAYING TRUE SHIT ABOUT STUFF and also about being generous and gentle with each other and ourselves. It's very Anne Lamott, very Cheryl Strayed.

Glennon is a mother of three and former drug addict and felon. SO FUN. This kind of thing is completely my jam these days, about how like AUGH CHILDREN! SO FRUSTRATING! But also (because duh I know they are frustrating I have TWO I do not need to read a book to tell me that) about how being out of your mind at your kids is a really good place to learn about patience, and grace. I want someone to empathize with me where I am and then tell me how to do better, so good job doing exactly that.

This gif looks sarcastic but it's not.
I am sort of over the kooky woman and her steadfast, long-suffering man but that is a very personal preference brought on MYSELF by an overindulgence of same (ugh I blame Jenny Lawson).

Gonna read a bunch of memoirs in 2016, probably! Wheeeee!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Imaginary Girls - Nova Ren Suma

HAHHAHAHHAHA remember when all book covers looked like this?

2011 was a weird year for girls on book covers.
ANYWAY. I dunno. I think I read this and The Walls Around Us too close together, because they both have similar elements of like magic and unreality and shit, but Walls was obviously BETTER and I should have given Girls more time before putting them so back-to-back in my brainspace.

Ruby is a magical beautiful womanchild whom everyone loves, and Chloe is her adoring younger sister who can swim across the reservoir, she's such a good swimmer, only she DOESN'T MAKE IT because halfway in, she comes upon a boat with the overdosed body of a classmate just afloating there, like you do

Nobody out-crazies Ophelia
and it's so horrifying that she has to leave town and go live with her dad.

TWO YEARS LATER her sister comes to fetch her and bring her back to town, and the girl! Who was dead? Isn't dead anymore! But Ruby is acting rill weird and overprotective and also does she have some sort of cosmic power that makes everybody do whatever she wants?


IT WAS GOOD AND FINE AND if I had given it more time I probably would have LOVED it, or at least liked it a lot. I liked it a reasonable amount! It is a book! Such faint praise. I'm so sorry, book.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

House of Havoc: How to Make - and Keep - a Beautiful Home Despite Cheap Spouses, Messy Kids, and Other Difficult Roomates - Marni Jameson

Dis. Bish.

I was librarygooglesearching for a book someone else recommended to me and this came up in the listing, and I was like Hullo I have a spouse and some kids and my house is havoc, this is relevant to my interests but FIRST OF THINGS it's not very helpful, her tips aren't super revolutionary and she has a very glue-gun-your-curtains-together kind of aesthetic. Not my bag.

But SECOND THING IN SEVERAL PARTS:

In the 'Gender Wars' chapter, she's like 'A man's role is to provide for his family, protect them, and help children become independent. If men do all that, it's really okay if they don't do the dishes.'

John would do my dishes.
In the chapter on keeping control of your mail, she makes a crack about a service to stop junk mail being on par with a cure for cracked heels, and then whispers sort of winkily-judgily, '(Ladies, not really, they look terrible. Get a foot file. And if you can't repair the cracks, please, put your shoes back on.)'

I will prop my cracked heels up on your coffee table, I don't care.
In the chapter on balancing the visual weight in a room, she talks about being caught trying to use her arms as a sort of scale to measure how balanced a wall is, and it's NOT (there's like a fireplace or something on one side but nothing on the other) and she's standing there 'like a human seesaw, Calista Flockhart on one side, Kirstie Alley on the other.' This book was released in 2010, are there no more contemporary women she can body-shame? It's like it's 2002 up in here.

SHE SAYS A THING I LIKE ABOUT HONORING THE ACTS OF DAILY LIVING and making your habitual stuff beautiful like getting yourself a coffee mug that you LOVE because you're going to love it every damn day, but I DON'T EVEN THINK THIS IDEA ORIGINATES WITH HER SO I'M NOT EVEN GONNA GIVE HER CREDIT.


Did not finish, obviously, but made it SURPRISINGLY FAR because this is my first dnf of 2016 and I was on a streak (of I dunno like four books so not a super good streak but wuddever).

Saturday, January 9, 2016

An Ember in the Ashes - Sabaa Tahir

Ughhhhhhhh this book. I don't hate romance in books, but I EXTRA HATE when a pretty good premise - young girl's brother is captured by guards, and in order to secure the aid of The Resistance in rescuing him she has to aid them by spying on/becoming the slave of the ruthless commandant of the ruthless training school, MEANWHILE the commandant's unacknowledged son is a promising but reluctant student about to graduate from said school only to find himself tossed into a contest to become THE NEXT EMPEROR - I hate when major players break off from their spying or contesting or whatever every ten seconds to be like, But that slave girl! Her eyes.

Wake me up when you're back to being used as a letter-runner because people assume you can't read.
ALSO I HATE when people's defiance and desire for freedom flash across their faces, and in that moment you have a kinship and feel less alone, because this is just a lazy way of building rapport instead of having to write actual conversations. NOBODY'S FACIAL EXPRESSIONS ARE THAT SPECIFIC.

Also! You have two female characters doing all kiiiiiinds of badass shit, one of the female students kicking EVERY ass because people are constantly underestimating her, and then you keep letting one of them have some feelings and making your male MC all disgusted because 'She's acting like an actual girl.' THIS IS THE WORST YOU ARE A HUMAN WOMAN WRITING THIS NOVEL DON'T PULL SHIT LIKE THIS.

But also more importantly you are letting ME down.
Also, as @meryl_kate pointed out on twitter,  '"effortlessly graceful" is a helpful clarification because just regular graceful looks like such a sweaty workout.' (What I'm saying is, the writing isn't always great.)

I got pretty caught up in the non-romancey plot, I super like trials and contests and things, but it kept being INTERRUPTED, so even though there's obviously gonna be a sequel, I MAY NOT READ IT even though I super want to know why the commandant's tattoo is only half-finished.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Astonish Me - Maggie Shipshead

Been reading a lot of ballet novels lately, I dunno what's up. This was a surprisingly prosaic little novel about ballet and betrayal and cutthroatedness and it did not, as they say, astonish me (omg title puns to what new lows have we stooped).

Get out, sir.
Anyway. She's a halfway decent but never gonna be more than corps ballet dancer who gives up her career to have a kid, he's the boy who's been mooning after her for years who thinks he accidentally got her pregnant and so marries her, but SPOILER the kid's not actually his, it's actually the offspring of the superstar Russian defector who is engaged to someone else at the time of the offspringing.

Sounds exciting! Was perfectly fine. Very, like, unflinching examination of relationships at their most raw, or whatever.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Gone, Baby, Gone - Denis Lehane

THIS WAS A HUGE DOWNER OMG.

UGH I FEEL YOU GEORGE MICHAEL
If you're not in the mood to read a story about child-kidnapping that ends depressingly for FUCKING EVERYONE, maybe steer clear. I'm so bummed right now.

The prose is pretty good but I'm not gonna lie, I skimmed a LOT whenever he got into like heavy descriptions of cities or growing up near quarries or like shoot-outs and stuff. NO ONE CURR (no, people do. Just I don't). Largely because I started this in a nothing-to-read gap and then a bunch of library holds came in at once and crime novels aren't my true calling so I was kind of itching to get along. SKIM A SKIM SKIM.

Patrick and Angie, PI partners and lovers, are hired to find a missing four-year-old named Amber and then there's just a ton of like her no-good, shiftless mother and the corruption runs deep and your methods are unorthodox, sir and it was fine! Like I say, not my brand. But then in the end

I'm about to, yes.

everyone either dies or is angrily abandoned by their PI partner/lover or forcibly removed from the new loving family they have found and returned to their vapid neglectful mother. EN FIN.

I mean. Even Connie Willis is like, And then I returned from my travels in the middle ages where EVERYONE DIED OF PLAGUE AND IT WAS SUPER TRAGIC but I am here to bear witness to how frightened and brave and irreplaceable they were. I love weeper novels but I hate feeling just like completely sunk at the end.

So there's that.