Reading for Sanity

I started this blog on another hosting site, but am going to work on (slowly) moving it over here. I feel like a blog about books really belongs on a website about books. Don't you agree? 

 

This blog will just be reviews of the books I read. I'll review any book I finish, but most likely won't go back and review a book that I read years ago - if I want to review it that badly, I'll re-read it first. 

 

I read almost all types of books (I tend to avoid strict romance novels, but novels with romantic elements are fair game). My favorite genres tend to be Fantasy and Historical Fiction, although I will sometimes go months without reading one of those genres... really just depends on my mood and if I'm trying to read certain books for a Reading Challenge. But as for genres, you never know what you'll find on here. 

 

If you do stumble across this blog, I hope that you enjoy it and get something out of it. Please comment on any of the reviews. I'd love to hear from other readers!

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the Rain - Garth Stein

The Art of Racing in the Rain

 

Garth Stein, 2006

 

 

Enzo the dog is nearing the end of his life. He's lived with Denny, a racecar driver, since he was a puppy and he's seen and done quite a lot. He also watches a lot of TV during the day, so he's learned things, like how he will come back as a human in his next life, and he's been preparing for it. This book is about Enzo taking stock of his life to this point and remember everything he's been through with Denny and his family.

 

 

I put off reading this book for a long time. I had heard really great things about it, that it was an amazing book, a bit heart-wrenching, but really well-written. I even bought it for my Nook. But I didn't read it... The concept was just too weird for me. Was I really interested in reading a book told from the point of view of the family dog? But I finally read it... And now I'm kicking myself that I didn't read it sooner.

 

This book was so well done. Enzo has an almost human point of view - he understands nearly everything that a human would (a few things go over his head), and even sometimes understands more than his humans do. He talks like a philosopher a lot of the time, but not a pretentious one. Just one who is sure that he will come back after he dies, and he wants to be sure that he learns as much as he can in the hope that he will remember. 

 

The human characters in this book were a little less developed than Enzo was, but they were still very interesting to read about. Denny, of course, is the one that Enzo is closest to, so we get more insight on him, but I really enjoyed reading about Denny's wife and child as well, and I found Enzo's impressions of the secondary characters mostly pretty entertaining. 

 

The one warning I can give is this: the ending is a bit heart-breaking. We know from the first few pages that Enzo is dying; the book is actually him looking back on his life. So the ending isn't surprising, but it is a little bit of a tear-jerker. A few events that happy throughout the book tear at the heart a bit, too, so just be careful about reading this book in public. 

 

This is not a long book - just over 300 pages - but it packs a punch. This is one that I would heartily recommend to almost anyone. Just be prepared to have your heartstrings tugged a little bit. I'm glad I finally made myself read this one. Totally worth it.

Where did you go?!

Hi all. 

 

I want to apologize for anyone who follows (or followed) by blog. I know I disappeared for a few months there. I've still been reading, but I haven't been updating my reads on the computer. Truth is,  I did most of my blog updating while at work during slow periods, and at the end of August I got laid off from my job. Sucks, but what can you do?

 

I promise to be more diligent in updating here from now on, though. I'm still unemployed - still searching for a job - but I'm going to try and be better about getting on here every few days and checking in and - of course - writing my reviews. First step - get caught up on the reviews of the books I've read since August (I hope I don't confuse readers if I backdate reviews to the date I finished the book) and then I promise I'll keep up with the writing.

 

I hope some of you, at least, will continue to follow my blog. I really love this website, and can't wait to see what everyone else has been up to in the past few months.

Authority

Authority: A Novel - Jeff VanderMeer

Authority (Southern Reach #2)

 

Jeff VanderMeer, 2014

 

Area X - a mysteriously pristine landscape with an invisible border that disappears anyone who touches it - has been the target of a series of expeditions over the past thirty years. Unfortunately, after twelve expeditions, the government agency known as Southern Reach is no closer to understanding this place than they were when it first appeared. Now John Rodrigues - aka "Control" - is appointed head of Southern Reach, and he is determined to not only figure out the secret of Area X, but also the secrets of the former head - a psychologist who inserted herself into the twelfth expedition and never returned. But Control soon realizes that not only are there more secrets being kept than he was initially aware of, but the answers might be better left uncovered.

 

 

This was a very different book than Annihilation was. The setting of the first book was Area X itself, and I found that book - while confusing and a little creepy - to have a much more interesting plot. The book cover of Authority compares the first book to an expedition novel (like Jurassic Park) and the second to a spy novel (like James Bond). I mostly agree with this assessment... except that where James Bond usually has a lot of action and intrigue mixed in with a little bit of boring exposition, Authority contains a lot of exposition and a little bit of action and intrigue. At just under 350 pages, it felt a lot longer than that, and really could have benefited from losing 50-75 pages. 

 

That being said, there were things I really liked about this book. I liked Control - I thought that he was a good character to be following throughout the book... just as clueless as the reader was, since he was new to the job, and just as confused as the secrets began to come out. I enjoyed his interactions with the biologist, and I wish there had been more of those scenes and less of the scenes of him cleaning out the psychologist's office. The few action bits that there were were good and the creepy scenes were incredibly well done - especially the scene in the room above the closet (*shiver*). I just wish it had been more of that. More like Annihilation.

 

I am looking forward to reading the final book in the trilogy - Acceptance. The way book two ended definitely suggests a very interesting conclusion to come. My hope is that it's a little more like the first book was, although, the way things are going, it will probably be something completely different than either one. Either way, though, there are still a lot of questions that haven't been answered, and I'm definitely curious to find out the answers. 

SPOILER ALERT!

The Death Cure

The Death Cure - James Dashner

The Death Cure (The Maze Runner #3)

 

James Dashner, 2011

 

Note: This book will really make no sense without reading the first two books in the series. I don't recommend starting this one until reading The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials. The Summary will include small spoilers for these two previous books.

 

The world is falling apart. Whole sections of the planet are uninhabitable after the sun flares raised the temperature and changed the weather. And a man-made virus, now known as The Flare, was released and quickly infected the planet. The Flare affects the brain, turning those it infects violent and insane. The small number of people not yet infected fled to the livable cities - those far away from the Equator and at high elevation, like Denver, Colorado, and do everything they can to keep the infected out. An even smaller percentage of the population is immune to the virus... and a government group known as WICKED has plans to use those who are immune to find a cure.

 

Where we pick up in The Death Cure, Thomas and a number of other teenage immunes have survived the first two rounds of trials. They beat the Maze and escaped, and made it through the desert-like land of The Scorch. Now the survivors are told they there is one final test. But first, WICKED is going to give them their memories back. But Thomas doesn't want his memories back, and he certainly doesn't want to go through another test, no matter how close WICKED might be to a cure. His one hope is to escape. But how can he get away and, even if he does, where would he go to be safe?

 

 

I really enjoyed the first two books in the trilogy. They weren't perfect, but I thought that they were good stories with a lot of action and drama that would really appeal to teens. They were pretty well-written, had interesting characters, and were - for the most part - very enjoyable books. This one, however, I did not think as highly about. I know that I'm not the only one - a lot of the reviews on other sites are negative as well. It's unfortunate, due to the relative strength of the first two books. 

 

While the first two books had a clear plot and direction - figure out what's going on and get through the Maze, survive the Scorch and make it to the compound - this book felt really disjointed to me. After Thomas decided to run, he had no set direction. He wanted to save his friends and stop WICKED, but had no real idea how to do that, and it showed in the writing. It almost felt like Dashner wasn't really sure himself how to wrap things up. I know a lot of people had issues with the ending... I didn't hate the ending, simply because I felt it was probably the most realistic way to end. I feel he could have ended it better, but I wasn't completely unhappy with it. My issue was with the way he got to that ending. 

 

I agree with big points that others have made about how he left a lot unexplained and how Teresa was terribly underused. While I didn't really like Teresa, and therefore didn't mind that she was absent through a good chunk of the book, I do agree with the point. When Teresa is introduced in The Maze Runner, it's pretty much a given that she's important, based on the way that she was introduced. But it almost feels like Dashner couldn't quite figure out what her final purpose should be, so he instead chose to give her almost no purpose at all. Had Thomas got his memories back, her purpose might have been made clear - since they had a past that we hadn't really explored yet - but Thomas chose not to get his memories back. Which brings me to my biggest issue...

 

hated Thomas in this book. Absolutely hated him. I'll concede that Dashner might have chosen to keep Thomas memory-less so that he didn't have to think up all the details about his past (a theory that some have shared in other reviews), but the result (in my opinion) wasn't to make Thomas seem brave and defiant - choosing to remain in the dark because he didn't trust WICKED and didn't want them to do one more thing to him. Yes, it made him look defiant, but it did not make him look brave. It made him look selfish and cowardly. He wouldn't even consider helping WICKED - or even just finding out what the last test was - even if that one last test would have resulted in a cure. That hindsight tells us he made the right decision doesn't help him in my opinion. He left for selfish reasons and chose to ignore the plight of the many for his own happiness. And as for refusing to get his memories back... this wasn't done because he didn't trust WICKED. This was done because he was afraid to find out what he would remember. We know this for a fact. Thomas helped to set up WICKED in the first place, and now felt bad about it. And he knew that getting his memories back would make him remember more of the terrible things he had been responsible for, and he didn't want to remember. This is not me interpreting his choices, this is something that he states outright. So why are we supposed to think him brave and defiant after he refuses the memories? Are we supposed to forget what he did and why he doesn't want to remember? Maybe we were supposed to forget, but I didn't. And it made Thomas so unsympathetic to me that I had trouble with him for the rest of the book after that. Having memories would have made everything that he went through easier on him and on others, but he chose to continue the way he was because he was scared. 

 

In the end, there was still a lot of action and drama in this one, but it just seemed too disjointed and left too much unexplained to really be considered a good conclusion to the series. I'll probably read the prequels - The Kill Order and The Fever Code (being published sometime next year) - to see if I can get a few answers, and just for curiosity sake. But I'm not as excited for them as I was before reading this one. 

SPOILER ALERT!

Tricks

Tricks - Ellen Hopkins

Tricks

 

Ellen Hopkins, 2009

 

 

Five teenagers, all from different areas of the country, discover just how far they can fall when desperation leads them to trade or sell their bodies for sex. 

 

The Goodreads discription is a little misleading,saying "What they don't expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words "I love you" are said for all the wrong reasons." This book isn't about the downfall of saying "I love you" when you're not ready. In fact, each and every one of the characters falls in love and says "I love you" at some point. But in only one case - Whitney - did falling in love lead directly to her fate. This book is not about saying "I love you" for the wrong reasons. This book is about desperation and what a person will do when the reach the point where they run out of options. 

 

I really love Ellen Hopkins. I first discovered her writing with Crank, and before that I had mostly steered away from novels in verse. I had read a few, and even liked one or two, but mostly found the gimmick hard to get used to. But I think it really works for her stories. I think that pages and pages of prose would get overwhelming with her characters, and that the smaller pieces that she can get away with writing verse make her stories easier to read. Because, let's be honest, her stories can be tough to read sometimes. This one is no different. Five teenagers, all around fifteen or sixteen years old, selling their bodies for sex, is not a happy topic. And for many of the characters, how they got to that point isn't any easier to read. 

 

I'll admit that, at first, I found this novel a little harder to follow than some of her other books. Out of the four that I had read prior to this one, the most point of view characters in a story was three (in Fallout). This one has five. I know this doesn't sound like a lot, but I'll admit that when the book would switch to a new chapter (and a new character), I sometimes had to go back to a previous chapter to remind myself which situation that character was in. Once the story really picked up, it was easier to tell them apart, because their tales branched off so differently, but at the beginning, when they were all still in high school and falling in love, I had trouble keeping Whitney, Ginger, and Eden apart. (Seth and Cody were a little bit easier, since Seth was gay and Cody was straight). So this did pull me out of the flow of the story a bit, having to remind myself who was who when each new chapter began.

 

I liked some characters more than others. Ginger, Eden, and Seth were much more sympathetic than Whitney and Cody, who really just made bad decisions. I'm not saying that the deserved what they got, but they did get there mostly through their own crappy choices. Seth, Eden and Ginger were more sympathetic, but still made bad decisions. Seth was kicked out of his home after his father found out he was gay, leaving him very few options. Since he became a kept man rather than a prostitute, his life was definitely the easiest of the five, but he also has the bleakest future at the end, which made me sad for him. I have a feeling that in the follow-up, Traffick, being published in November, his story might be one of the worst. 

 

Ginger and Eden, however, were completely sympathetic characters. Ginger, who ran away from home with her girlfriend after getting raped - and finding out that her prostitute mother sold her off - turns to stripping in order to survive. It's her girlfriend, Alex, who takes it a little further. I respected Ginger's resolve, even if her choices weren't always the best, she had her rules and stood her ground. And Eden... poor, poor Eden. I can't say for sure that I would have gone as far as she did, but I think put in her situation, I at least would have seriously considered it. I found her, by far, the most sympathetic character in the book. 

 

I'll definitely be reading Traffic as soon as it comes out - I'm very curious to see what becomes of these five teens. And I'll continue in my goal to read all of Ellen Hopkins books before the end of the year. I find her books fascinating, if a little draining. The only reason why I would still recommend starting with Crank, and not this one, is due only to the slightly higher level of difficulty in having to follow so many characters in this one. But if you enjoy Ellen Hopkins, and/or don't mind reading about tough situations, I do highly recommend any of her books, and Tricks is one of her best that I've read so far. 

SPOILER ALERT!

Another Day

Another Day - David Levithan

Another Day

 

David Levithan, 2015

 

This story is the book Every Day re-told from the point of view of Rhiannon. As Levithan states in the forward, you can read it as a stand-alone, but I think that a reader will get more out of it after reading Every Day first. But that's just personal opinion.

 

I'm having a hard time deciding what to feel about this book. Because for most of the book, I absolutely loved it. This was the book that I wanted Every Day to be. It was Every Day, but with a protagonist that I didn't want to punch in the face. There are a lot of duplicate sections - the parts of the book where they were together had word-for-word dialogue from the first book, but thoughts and impressions from Rhiannon instead of A. The rest of the book was Rhiannon dealing with finding out who A was and what to do about their relationship. And as much as I adored Rhiannon in the first book, that was just multiplied here. I think she's a wonderful character and, more importantly, a very real character. She handled the situation in a way that I believe a real, normal high schooler would have. It bothered A that Rhiannon couldn't get past the bodies to see who he was on the inside, but what sixteen- or seventeen-year-old could? She tries, but the fact is that people are attracted to a person's outside as well as who they are on the inside. And I thought that her coming to terms with this - and trying to get past it and failing - made her very real to me. 

 

My only problem... I hated the ending! I'm not going to give away anything. I still think it's a book worth reading, so I don't want to spoil it for anyone who wants to pick it up, but I found the ending so extremely disappointing. And not even the final chapter... I was with it right up until the final page. And then the way that Levithan chose to end that final page just pissed me off. I feel like he's setting it up for a sequel, but I don't want a sequel. I wanted it to end there. Because, as I mentioned in my review of Every Day, I feel like a sequel to the story of A and Rhiannon can be nothing but depressing. 

 

But what do I know? I'm just the reader.

 

I'd be curious to know what other readers think about this book. Both from the point of view of someone who has read Every Day and from the point of view of someone who hasn't. I do think this book is worth reading. I mostly completely loved it. I just can't get past the way it ended. I wish I could, but I can't. And the thing is, if he writes a sequel, I'm sure I would read it, simply out of curiosity. But I wouldn't have high hopes of a happy ending.

 

Thank you to the author and the publisher for an advanced copy from NetGalley.

SPOILER ALERT!

I am China

I Am China: A Novel - Xiaolu Guo

I am China

Xiaolu Guo, 2014

 

Iona, a Chinese/English translator, is given a package of photocopied letters and diary entries from a local publisher in the hope that she can translate the pieces and that they might lead to something worth publishing. She finds out later, from the publisher, that he was given this package from Mu - a woman living in China - who said that the letters and diary were from a Chinese musician named Kublai Jian, who had been expelled from China for his anti-government stance and was seeking asylum in England. Mu had lost contact with Jian and was hoping for the help of the English publisher in locating him. Through the translations, Iona gets swept up in the stories of these two individuals and the events that transpire to keep them apart. 

 

I found this book to be very difficult to rate and review. I wanted to like it much more than I did, but there was just too much about this book that bothered me or - worse - left me feeling nothing at all.

 

I think if this book had been only about Mu and Jian, I would have liked it a lot more than I did. I wouldn't have loved it, but I would have probably given it 3.5 to 4 stars. I really liked the character of Mu. I enjoyed watching her go from naive country girl to reluctant revolutionary over the course of the book. And I thought that her love for Jian felt real. Jian was a harder character to identify with, mostly because I'm really not the type of person to fight the system, which is really his defining characteristic. But it almost felt to me as though he was revolutionary simply for the sake of being a revolutionary, and that he really didn't care as much as he pretended to. [This is partially because his manifesto - when it is finally translated - didn't read as all that impressive. It's possible that it went over my head. It's possible that someone more familiar with the oppression of Chinese government might have found it profound. I didn't.]

 

But if this book had just been about Jian and Mu, I think I would have liked it. The problem is, a big portion of the book is given to the White European translator. And I really didn't like her. I wish that she had just stayed as an impartial third party - translating the letters and keeping her own personal life out of the story. Instead, the author chose to bring Iona front and center to the story, almost to the point where the book felt more like Iona's story than Mu's and Jian's. Here is the big problem: Iona is supposed to be around her early thirties (it might have mentioned her exact age at some point, but I can't remember, but at the end of the book her mother turns sixty, so that gives us a general idea.) But her world-view seems more like someone in her late teens. She has no friends, basically ignores her family, and the only two things that make her feel alive are her translations and one-night stands. (She more or less says this at the beginning of the book). She doesn't believe in relationships, instead preferring to sleep with strangers and then never speak to them again after, because she enjoys the power in it. Even her idea of who should would fall in love with if it was ever going to happen sounds like something an eighteen-year-old would think - "she thinks of falling for someone younger... more like an earnest but sexy young scholar." It isn't until she starts reading Jian and Mu's love story that she starts to even consider that a life of meaningless sex might not be all there is. And I get it. We're supposed to see her transformation from someone who doesn't believe in love to someone who realizes that there might be something missing from her life. But I just didn't care. Iona just seemed like a horrible, lonely, egotistical person to me, and I didn't care that she started to get better. I didn't care about her at all, and this is where the story lost me. 

 

One other problem I had with this book was, quite simply, the writing style. This book was written in English by a native Chinese woman. But it felt like a book written in Chinese translated into English. It's not that the writing wasn't nice - there was some really beautiful imagery and a few really nice passages. But this was supposed to be a love story, and it felt completely lacking in passion. I feel like this is just the way things are written by native-Chinese speakers sometimes - more factual, less emotional. [Forgive me if I'm wrong - I'm not trying to generalize, I'm just trying to figure out why this story lacked the punch it should have had.] I wanted to fall in love with these characters, and instead I felt like I was just reading about people and having a hard time caring about them.

 

I felt that this book had a lot of potential, and it - for one reason or another - just missed the mark. It's not a bad book - I've read a lot of stellar five-star reviews on Goodreads - and it might just be that I missed the point. I do feel like native Chinese readers will get more out of this book than I did, simply because they will be able to understand better the political upheaval in the story. But as much as I wanted to like this book, it just didn't work for me. 

Boston Comic Con, part 2

I promised to post a few pictures. Sorry it's taken me so long, but here are a few pictures from our weekend at Comic Con. 

 

This weekend, I also hope to actually take out some of the art we bought, so I can see what size frames I need to buy. When I do that, I'll take some pictures and post a few of them as well. The thing I love so much about the artists that come to the convention, is that they're not all comic book artists. Obviously, I love the comic book-ers, and I posted earlier the Harley Quinn art that I bought, but some of my favorite artists there are the non-comic book ones. I got some beautiful art that I can't wait to frame and hang on my walls, and very little of it is actually comic book art. But that's another post for another day.

 

Today, just a few pictures from the convention.

 

1. Me with Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. They were both so awesome in letting my husband get this picture. Really cool guys - signed all six of my Locke & Key books, then let me get a picture with them. 

 

 

2. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti (of the Harley Quinn comics). Also pretty cool people. Signed all my stuff. I'm sure it gets tiring sitting there signing stuff for people all day, but they were really fun and happy. 

 

 

 

We didn't get a whole lot of pictures of costumes from the convention, but I am going to post two - my and my husband's favorite costumes. Half of the fun of this weekend is just walking around seeing everybody dressed up. We didn't go in costume this year (obviously), but we're considering it for next year. Nothing as elaborate as these next pictures, though.

 

3. This was my husband's favorite costume of the weekend (and I definitely agree that it was the most impressive). There were a few Iron Man or War Machine costumes will full moving parts and working lights and they were all pretty awesome, but this guy's costume was 100% hand-tooled leather, from head to toe. And he did every bit of it himself. I don't know his name, so I can't give credit, but dude, you're costume was insane.

 

4. My favorite costume, simply because it was so much fun and pretty original. Again, I can't give name credit, because I don't know them, but they did a great job and seemed to be having a lot of fun with it. The guy who dressed as the Joker stayed in character the whole time, speaking with a gangster-type deep voice and seemed to be having a blast. I loved seeing this group make their way around the room. 

 

 

That's all I've got for now. It was a great convention, though, even though I don't have a ton of pictures to post from it - I'm not a huge photo-taker.  I'll post some of the art I got over the weekend, hopefully. Can't wait to go back next year. :)

Frog Music

Frog Music - Emma Donoghue

Frog Music

 

Emma Donoghue, 2014

 

During the summer of 1876, San Francisco is experiencing a record-breaking heatwave, as well as an epidemic of smallpox. French burlesque dancer and high-class prostitute, Blanche Beunon is minding her own business when she is run into by a young woman - dressed like a man, in slacks and short hair - on a bicycle. Her chance encounter with Jenny Bonnet sets off a chain of events that ends in Jenny getting shot to death, the bullets just missing Blanche. Blanche thinks she knows who's responsible, but proving it is another matter.

 

Based on the true unsolved murder of Jenny Bonnet and on real people and events of the time.

 

 

I really liked the story that Donoghue chose to tell here. She states in her "Afterword" that this is a complete work of fiction - she's not trying to solve a murder, just tell a story. But I thought that her story of who killed Jenny was both well-told and plausible, based on the story Donoghue chose to tell. I also feel that whether or not this is the way that it actually happened is irrelevant. Donoghue took statements from public record - Jenny's murder, her tendency to wear men's clothing, the fact that Blanche was with Jenny when she died, and Blanche's statement blaming her former lover for the murder are all on public record from the inquest into Jennie's death. The rest, as Donoghue herself notes, is a work of fiction, based on those facts on on other facts about the characters that she was able to dig up (such as Blanche's dancing and her relationship with Arthur.)

 

This was an era that I hadn't heard much about previously, so it was one that I enjoyed reading about. Between the end of the Gold Rush and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake that leveled the city, San Francisco was booming and had a high immigrant population. Most of this story takes place in Chinatown, specifically, so we get a good impression about American's racial attitudes toward both the Chinese and the French (the nationality of the main characters). I also had heard about both the smallpox epidemic and how the heatwave played into how easily it spread, but it was interesting to read from the point of view of characters in a novel, rather than from a history text. In addition, Donoghue didn't shy away from the seedier aspects of the city at the time - not only did she tell the story from the point of view of a burlesque dancer, giving the reader a view of that world, but we were also given a glimpse of two cringe-worthy practices at the time: Institutions for "Troubled Youths" and establishments that were known as "baby farms". 

 

Obviously, this was not an easy book to read at times. In addition to the sometimes troubling subject matter, there were very few likable characters in the story. The main character, Blanche, was actually pretty loathsome a lot of the time. Even Jenny, who was probably - by far - the most likable character and she had a few moments that really made me kind of hate her. [Jenny was a hard character to read, though, intentionally - the character of Jenny that we read in flashbacks keeps a lot of secrets, and when those secrets come out after her death, they do a lot to change the reader's impression of her, for better or worse.] I've read quite a few books lately with unlikable characters - [Why is that? I need to stop this trend.] - and I have to say this was one of the better ones, because while the characters were unlikable, at least they were interesting. 

 

This book wasn't perfect. Some parts were hard to get through - sometimes because of tough content, but sometimes because they were just slow - and the characters were mostly horrible people. But it was a well-written book and told an interesting story during an interesting time period that I don't get a chance to read much about - especially not from this particular ethnic point of view; most West Coast immigrant stories I've read take a Chinese main character. An interesting story, but you have to be willing to read about the seedy underbelly of the time, which isn't for everyone. 

 

 

Boston Comic Con 2015!

I spent most of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Comic Con in Boston, MA. This was my second year going, opting for a three-day pass each time. Definitely worth it. We didn't spend the entire day from open to close there any of the three days, but it was nice to be able to come and go as we pleased and not to have to worry about missing someone or something we wanted to see because we only had one day passes. 

 

Friday is the best day for just looking around at all the art and shops that are set up. Not a whole lot of guest panels on Friday - at least not until late in the day - and it's a lot less crowded than it is on Saturday, so we felt we could browse at a more leisurely pace. We found some awesome artwork to take home - not sure where we're going to hang it all yet, but at least some of it will get framed and go in my library. :) 

 

[I don't have pictures of all of the purchases I made, but I'll post a few of them tomorrow or later in the week.]

 

There wasn't really any media guest who I was dying to see this year, since Gillian Anderson had to back out due to scheduling conflicts (boo!), but we did go to Q&A panels for Thomas Jane (Punisher, Deep Blue Sea) and Cassandra Peterson (aka Elvira - the one and only), which were pretty interesting. We also went to the Q&A for the comic company IDW, creators of comics such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, and - most importantly - Locke & Key. (More on this in a moment.) Really enjoyed that panel. There were a few others I would have liked to have gone to - Marvel had a panel, Billie Piper of Doctor Who fame was there doing a panel, but those filled up quickly and I wasn't able to get passes to those.

 

The big thing for me this convention was the writers/artists. I got to meet Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti - creators of the Harley Quinn comics - and got them to sign some stuff for me:

 

1) Three pieces of wall art that I bought there and the book I brought, all signed by both of them.

 

 

2) The outside of the book, and a closer view of their signatures on the Coney Island picture.

 

I also got to meet the writer and artist responsible for my second favorite comic series ever, after Neil Gaiman's SandmanLocke & Key's Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. Yes, that Joe Hill - writer of Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, and NOS4A2. Stephen King's son. (And yes, he looks like he is Stephen King's son, hehe.) I was a bit overwhelmed and tongue-tied when I met him, but he was actually a super-nice guy. (Both he and Rodriguez are awesomely nice people and signed each of the six volumes of Locke & Key I brought with me.) While Joe Hill was signing my books, he asked me if I was reading anything good right now, and I - of course - completely blanked out on what I was currently reading. Haha. My husband, who was standing next to me, quietly told me to take a deep breath, and I remembered that I was reading The Library at Mount Char, which is what I told Joe Hill, and he said that he had heard of it and it was on his radar to read, but he didn't know much about it, so he asked me how I was liking it and we chatted about that for a minute. (It's really good so far, btw, in case anyone is looking for a good weird fantasy book). Then my husband asked if he could get a picture of me with Joe Hill and he said "Sure! Come around the table!" so that I could get in between him and Gabriel Rodriguez for the picture. [The picture is on my husband's camera, but I will post it later.] Anyway, I'm star-struck. I love it when people I admire turn out to be really awesome people. I was almost worried to meet him, because I was afraid he wouldn't be nice, but it was seriously the best moment of the weekend for me. 

 

1) All 6 volumes of Locke & Key were signed by both Gabriel Rodriguez and Joe Hill

 

 

2) A close-up of the inside cover and signatures in Volume 6: Alpha & Omega, complete with a sketch by Joe Hill of the Alpha Key - also two key replicas that I bought from an artist that makes them and was there at the convention - I'm blanking on his name, but I have his card at home, so I will post it as soon as I get a chance! (Don't tell my husband, but I think collecting the keys might be my new - slightly expensive - hobby). The two here are the Shadow Key (my favorite of all the keys!) and the Echo Key.

Edit: Keys are made by Skelton Crew Studio. http://skeltoncrewstudio.com/wordpress/

They're awesome. 

 

3) The comic that my husband bought and got signed by Joe Hill - although who are we kidding, it's actually for me. :) [It's a comic based on Joe Hill's short story of the same name from 20th Century Ghosts.]

 

 

So that was my weekend! I'll post a few more pictures later. I didn't actually get many pictures of people there in costume, although it was so much fun seeing all the people who dressed up. [We didn't go in costume this year, although we might next year.] This is definitely going to be an annual event for us. The ultimate goal is - of course - San Diego, but from what I hear it's really hard to get in to the events, Q&A's and whatnot even if you do get a ticket to the Con, so I kind of like the more intimate nature of the Boston Con. It was a ton of fun, and I can't wait to go back next year. :)

Rumble

Rumble - Ellen Hopkins

Rumble

 

Ellen Hopkins, 2014

 

Matthew Turner wasn't sure he believed in God even before his younger brother was bullied into suicide by the supposedly-Christian kids at school. But Matt can't put all the blame on the other kids at school, or his bigoted sports-obsessed father, or even God - he knows that a good portion of the blame falls on himself. The only thing keeping him sane is his girlfriend, Hayden. But when a secret comes out that throws everything Matt thought he knew into question, his life comes crashing apart, and he realizes that he needs to find a way to not only to ask forgiveness, but also a way to move on. 

 

 

Okay, not my best summary, but I tried to do it without giving away the major plot point that the book jacket does. 

 

I adore Ellen Hopkins. Despite the fact that her books are always completely depressing and don't usually end well for the main characters, I find her stories completely intriguing. I was also pretty wary of novels in verse before I started reading hers, but I love the way that she writes so much that the books being in verse is a complete non-issue. [Also, I like to point out that the books are written in verse so that the often 500-plus pages that her books clock in at don't seem as daunting.]

 

I was a little wary with this book being about religion, because a lot of authors could have taken this issue and gone either very preachy or very anti-religion. Hopkins managed to have an atheist protagonist and a Christian antagonist, while still not coming down completely on one side or the other. She made it easy to hate a lot of the Christian characters without hating the idea of God. This is an important issue for me, personally, because it bothers me when people - Christians and non-believers alike - put out the idea that all Christians are intolerant. As someone who believes in God and identifies generally with the Christian faith, but who also believes that being gay is not a sin, it's refreshing to read a book that can address this issue with a little bit of grace.

 

I know that some reviewers have hard a hard time with Matthew as the sole narrator. Hopkins often uses two or more narrators in her books, so having one narrator only is a bit of a departure and - as one reviewer I often read noted - the kind of narrators that Hopkins usually writes can be a little hard to take for the whole 500-plus pages without some kind of a break. Matthew is no exception. He's a very angry individual, and while I didn't hate him, I did often find some of his choices and the way he lashed out at certain people to be very off-putting. But while I didn't always love him or agree with where he was coming from, I found his voice to be pretty realistic for a character his age going through what he was going through. I completely believed that someone dealing with his same issues would come out of the situation that angry with the world. So while I understand where the other reviewers were coming from, I actually liked hearing Matthew's voice throughout the story. 

 

Overall, I thought that this was a very well-written book that deals with the issues of religion and teen suicide in a realistic and competent way. I find that Hopkins writes teens very well and is good at writing about teen issues in a way that I think would make this audience think but also well enough that it would make them want to pick up the book in the first place. This book is no exception. I'll definitely be reading more of her books in the near future - in fact, I've decided to go on a bit of a Hopkins binge over the next month or so - so more reviews to come. If you've never read Hopkins, I'm not sure I would start with this one - I'd probably recommend Crank for your first - but this book is definitely worth a read. 

SPOILER ALERT!

Every Day

Every Day - David Levithan

Every Day (Every Day #1)

 

David Levithan, 2012

 

 

Every day, A wakes up in the body of someone else. He doesn't know how it happens, or why, only that it always has. He has no body of his own. He has his own personality, and his own mind, but every day he has to become someone else, relying on the body's memories to make it through the day with as little disruption to that person's life as possible. But one day, he wakes up in the body of Justin... and falls in love with Justin's girlfriend, Rhiannon. Now, for the first time, he faces a dilemma - does he tell Rhiannon what he is? And while he can disrupt the lives of the bodies he inhabits in order to see her again, the real question is: should he? 

 

Note One: This review will contain spoilers. I find that I have a hard time articulating exactly what I like and don't like about this book without giving away some of the plot points.

 

Note Two: A (what our main character calls himself) claims to identify as neither a male nor a female, but throughout the book I got a distinctly male vibe from A, even when he was in a female body, so A will be identified by male pronouns in this review.

 

 

I find myself having a very hard time figuring out how to rate and review this book. There was a lot I loved about the book, so I'll start with that.

 

I loved the concept. I think that Levithan did an amazing job with showing what it would be like to wake up as a different person every day. Initially confusing, but at the same time enlightening. So much of who we are as people is due to our surroundings - who our family is, what city we live in, whether we're poor or well-off - but A gets to see the world from so many points of view that it's a fascinating concept to consider how that would create who he is as a person.

 

I loved the character of Rhiannon. She was, by far, the most believable and realistic character in the book. Flawed with low self-esteem, but kind and romantic. I like that she believed A when he told her his story, but I also like that she had trouble with it. Because as much as we like to believe that it's only what's on the inside that matters, Rhiannon's response to who A was on the outside was incredibly realistic. No matter how much you love who the person is on the inside, a person will be looked at differently if they look like the boy next door, or a slob, or Beyonce. I thought that Rhiannon's realistic outlook on the situation really grounded a story with an unnatural premise. 

 

I had two big problems with this book, though. One was A. In general, I liked A. I thought that he had a really positive outlook on life, despite how horrible it must be to live like that. I felt really bad for him a lot of the time, and I liked how he was able to find someone in Rhiannon - someone he could tell his secret to and who could give him a tiny bit of permanence. But what really bothered me was that A had rules for himself, the big one being that while he was in a body he couldn't disrupt that person's life. Because he was only there for a day, and that person had to come back to it and deal with the consequences of whatever happened the day A was there. These were good rules... that A completely threw out the window once he met Rhiannon. I get it - he wanted to see her, to be near her. But to basically kidnap the body he was in to drive hours away to see her seemed completely out of character to who he was before he met Rhiannon. Keeping in mind that every body he in was around the age of sixteen - he only transferred into bodies the same age as he would have been normally - sneaking off to see her meant skipping school, lying to parents and friends, and on more than one occasion doing something that would result in the person getting grounded the next day. In one body, he skipped two exams in order to meet up with her, deciding to make it back for the body's big date with her girlfriend only after Rhiannon told him that he had to. No remorse for disturbing the person's life. The only time he did feel a little bit of remorse was with Nathan - who he had lie to his parents and sneak out of the house, only to not get back home in time (A always switched bodies at midnight) so he had to leave poor Nathan in his car on the side of the highway, to get picked up by police. And I got the feeling that A's response was less true remorse and more not liking to be thought of as the devil, once Nathan claimed demonic possession in the news the next day. 

 

My second problem with this book, is that despite the love story and the interesting characters, this had no chance of being a happy book. When it ended, part of me thought that it was left open for a sequel, but then I wondered if I would want to read a sequel if it ever did come out. Because there is no way that this life is going to go well for A. He has two options. One: move on and never form any attachments with another person for the rest of his life. Two: Figure out a way to keep a body for more than a day and live a normal life... essentially killing off the actual person who's body it is. No happy ending there either, really. So it was kind of tough reading this book, knowing that it really had very little chance of ending well.

 

Despite my complaints, though, I really did find more to like about this book than I found to dislike about it. I really enjoy Levithan as an author - while I sometimes find his books to be a bit preachy on the subject of gender, he really is one of the better GLBT authors out there for teens. And he tends to add something very creative into his books to make them more than just a standard teen love story. I'm definitely glad I read this book, and it's one that will stick with me... I just wish that A had been a little less frustrating a character. 

 

Note Three: I do realize that there is a sequel - Another Day - being released in August of this year. But it's more of a companion novel than a sequel - telling Every Day from the point of view of Rhiannon. I'm a little wary - I tend to associate this type of companion novel with Twilight  and Fifty Shades of Grey (neither of which I've read - I read the original Twilight, but not the retelling from Edward's point of view, and I haven't read any of the Fifty Shades books and don't plan to - but from what I understand they seem disturbing to me, basically reading a book from the point of view of a creepy stalker). However, since I loved the character of Rhiannon so much, and since she's not at all a creepy stalker, and since I got my hands on an ARC of Another Day, I will be reading it. Review to follow within the next few weeks.

The Girl on the Train

Dziewczyna z pociągu - Paula Hawkins

Rachel rides the train into London every day. Every day the train stops at a signal near the house of a young married couple. Rachel often sees the couple outside on their back porch, and has named them Jason and Jess. But one day, Rachel sees Jess on her porch with someone else, a man who she seems to be intimate with, and it throws off her entire fantasy. And when Jess - whose real name turns out to be Megan Hipwell - turns up missing on the news the next day, Rachel believes that it's not the husband but the lover who is responsible. But does anyone, other than her, even know about him? 

 

 

I can see why this book has become so popular. It was a very enjoyable murder mystery, enhanced (in my opinion) by the unreliable narrator. I'll admit that I sometimes get tired of the concept - which seems more prevalent lately - of using an unreliable narrator to add plot twists, but I thought that this book used it very well. The narrator wasn't intentionally lying to the reader at any point - she couldn't remember certain things due to being black-out drunk - and when she began to "remember" things that happened, she questioned the validity of the memories right along with us. 

 

I do understand the complaint that some people have with the book that it's hard to get into because none of the characters were likable. I get this, I do. But I've read a lot of books lately - not intentionally - with unlikable main characters, so this didn't bother me as much as it might some people. Also, I actually liked Rachel. I thought she was screwed up and kind of horrible at times, but for (sort of) legitimate reasons. She's a depressed, lonely alcoholic who's still in love with her ex-husband - not the recipe for a completely rational individual. But I like that she tried to do the right thing. And she knew that she was an alcoholic - she made attempts to not drink in order to be a better person, even if her attempts didn't always work out. 

 

The book was actually narrated, in alternating chapters, by Rachel and Megan, and later Anna - Rachel's ex-husband's new wife. I liked getting an inside look at who Megan really was, even if I didn't really like who she was after finding out more about her; although by the end I didn't really hate her, either. (Anna, on the other hand, was pretty horrible). 

 

I think the biggest complaints I hear about this book come from the characters - how unlikable the narrators are, how horrible all of the male characters are - and I guess you're enjoyment is going to hinge a lot on whether you can muster up any sympathy for Rachel. I could. But the mystery, I think, stands up either way. I thought that the plot was solid, a good mystery that wasn't full of plot holes once the secrets started coming out. I'll admit that my first idea of whodunnit was wrong, and while I did guess the big reveal a few chapters before it was made clear, it wasn't early enough in the book that I can really be proud of it. This story kept me guessing and, more importantly, kept me interesting. I couldn't wait to come back to the book to find out what was going to happen next.

 

I'm not saying the book is perfect, but I didn't really find any major flaws with it either. Everything that happened made sense within context, no major reveals coming out of left field without anything previous in the story to back it up, no glaring plot holes. It's a solid murder mystery that will probably keep you guessing and should at least keep you interesting... If you can deal with the characters. But I hope you can. Because I think it's worth it in the end. And because I think Rachel is kind of endearing. But maybe that's just me... 

About "Boston Kate"

I've been seeing a few "About Me" posts pop up on my Dashboard today, and I realized that since I'm new, I should probably say a little something about myself. 

 

I'm 32, almost 33. Kate is my middle name, but it's what I go by in my online life. Hehe. I live in the Boston, Massachusetts area (USA). I live with my husband - we just got married two months ago! - and our neurotic cat, Roxie. She is not the huggable cat in my avatar picture. My cat is an 18-pound grey tiger who will scratch your eyes out if you piss her off, but we love her anyway. 

 

I studied medical lab technology and genetics in school. I currently work doing the former, but am trying to get a job doing the latter. Or at least something in biotech. That would be fun. Either way, though, I'm a science nerd. I love pretty much all things science... except for Physics. Physics makes my brain hurt, although I'll still read about it sometimes. And even though it's not my field, I think that if I had to pick a Science Idol, it would be Neil deGrasse Tyson. Because he's brilliant and funny and gives awesome public speeches about how kids should make messes in order to learn. 

 

[Edit: I don't know if it's possible to post an actual video, but here is the link to that speech.]

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgMBGD6MZKc

 

I love books, obviously. I have an account on Goodreads, so I haven't bothered to post all the books on my TBR - mostly because I want to keep this account relatively clean and blog-friendly, but I have almost 3,000 books on my to-read list over there. At 50-70 books read a year, and about that same amount added to my to-read list every year... Hmm... Okay, so I'd say it's hopeless, but can something really be hopeless if you enjoy it anyway? I just wish I read faster, but at a faster pace I don't really take in what I've read, so I'd rather read a little slower and take it all in.

 

My favorite books of all time are Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and The Shining by Stephen King. By that you should be able to figure out that I like all sorts of books. If I had to pick only one genre to read for the rest of my life, I'd probably pick fantasy, but reading the same kind of story gets boring after a while, so I like to mix it up. The only genre I really don't read is straight-up romance. I like a little romance in my stories, though.

 

I tend to rate my books on the higher side. Very few of my reads are rated less than 3 stars. If I don't vehemently hate the book, then chances are I can find something redeeming enough about it to give it 2.5 to 3 stars. I've never given a book 1 star. Not even Great Expectations

 

There. Another thing you should know about me. I hate Charles Dickens. I do. I even tried reading him as an adult, out of the structure of high school English class. Still can't stand his writing. It is what it is.

 

Currently I'm reading The Girl on the Train on my nook, and Poisoned: The True Story of the Deadly E.Coli Outbreak that Changed the Way Americans Eat in hardcover (see, I told you I was a science nerd). I tend to read my nook when I'm out and about - easier to carry around - and a hardcover or paperback when I'm at home. I'm also audiobooking (I'm making that a word) Over Sea, Under Stone. I like to listen to audiobooks when I'm taking walks or at the gym, or when I'm cleaning the house. Passes the time more pleasantly. I'm enjoying all three so far (although I'm not sure "enjoying" is the right word to use for Poisoned) and I plan on continuing the The Dark is Rising series on audiobook once I finish the first one.

 

Aside from reading, I enjoy watching TV, watching movies, and spending time outside. Not being sporty, really - despite growing up in New England I can't downhill ski to save my life - but just sitting outside is nice. With a book - even better. Mostly I just enjoy curling up on the couch with my husband and our cat, watching sports or something on Discovery or Travel Channel. My husband likes to watch car shows, and sometimes I'll watch with him, or else I'll just curl up next to him with my book. Except for British Top Gear. I absolutely LOVE Top Gear. I'll watch that even when he's not home. [Edited to clarify: BRITISH Top Gear!]

 

So that's me in a nutshell. Sorry if I rambled. Any questions, ask away. And if I sometimes go a week or more without posting a review, don't worry - I'm still here and I'm still reading. Sometimes life just gets in the way and it takes me longer to finish a book than I'd like. But I'm not going anywhere. :)

Book Date's Full House Challenge

One more thing I need to move from my old blog...

 

Over on her own blog - http://bookdate.blogspot.co.nz/ - Kathryn of "The Book Date" has a challenge called the "Full House Challenge". I've been participating the past two years. Since my old blog had my progress on this challenge, I'm re-posting it here. 

 

 

 

*The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer (finished 1/4/15) - a top book of 2015 for you. (I know it's the first book I read in 2015, but I also know that this will end up being one of my top reads.)

 

*Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King (finished 1/9/15) - published in 2014. (First published June 2014.)

 

*Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills (finished 1/12/15) - outstanding hero or heroine. (Not your typical "hero", but the main character of this story is a teenager who was born a girl but knows he's a boy and is transitioning. Tough situation to go through, and he handles it like a hero in my eyes.)

 

*We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (finished 1/16/15) - author new to me. (I have never read anything by E. Lockhart before this.)

 

*Rosewater by Maziar Bahari (finished 1/28/15) - type of book you rarely or never read. (While I read a fair amount of nonfiction, political books don't really interest me, and there was a lot of talk about politics in this one.)

 

*The Virgin's Lover by Philippa Gregory (finished 2/2/15) - published 2000-2013. (Published in 2004.)

 

*The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (finished 2/8/15) - library book. (Borrowed from my local library.)

 

*All the Bright Place by Jennifer Niven (finished 2/12/15) - you heard about the book online. (I saw this on a list of books to watch for in 2015.)

 

*The Magician King by Lev Grossman (finished 2/14/15) - 2nd book or more in a series. (Book #2 in "The Magicians" series.)

 

*My Drunk Kitchen by Hannah Hart (finished 2/15/15) - free choice. (This is just a fun book, so I'll count it for my freebie.)

 

*Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (finished 2/19/15) - novella. (Okay, not really a novella, but it's a short book, at just about 200 pages, so I'm counting it, since I don't really read novellas.)

 

*The Jaguar's Children by John Vaillant (finished 2/24/15) - published in 2015. (First published January 27, 2015.)

 

*The Lost World by Michael Crichton (finished 3/5/15) - published pre-2000. (Published in 1995.)

 

*The Good Girl by Mary Kubica (finished 3/14/15) - debut novel by author. (This is Mary Kubica's debut novel.)

 

*The Damned by Andrew Pyper (finished 3/22/15) - book set in northern hemisphere. (Set in the U.S., mostly Cambridge, MA and Detroit, MI.)

 

*Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (finished 3/27/15) - a keeper. (One of the best books I've read this year. I would read this one again.)

 

*The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3) by Jasper Fforde (finished 3/31/15) - setting that you now want to visit. (Can I choose to visit the Book World? I would love to vacation in Sense and Sensibility or any of the other books traveled to here.)

 

*Annihilation (Southern Reach #1) by Jeff VanderMeer (finished 4/8/15) - first in a series. (The first book in the Southern Reach trilogy.)

 

*Broken Harbor (Dublin Murder Squad #4) by Tana French (finished 4/23/15) - author outside your own country. (Tana French is from Ireland, I am from the US.)

 

*Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers (finished 5/26/15) - you love the cover. (I'm a science nerd. I think the cover is kind of awesome.)

 

*My Real Children by Jo Walton (finished 6/11/15) - won or borrowed. (Borrowed this book from the library.)

 

*The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (finished 7/1/15) - book by author you really liked. (Neil Gaiman is my favorite author.)

 

*Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (finished 7/3/15) - been on your TBR forever. (I've had this book on my TBR for at least five years, probably more.)

 

 

Only 2 more books to go to finish the square! Southern hemisphere might be a tough one for me, though... Need to research... 

Ella Minnow Pea

Ella Minnow Pea - Mark Dunn

Ella Minnow Pea

 

Mark Dunn, 2001

 

On the small, independent island nation of Nollop, located off the South Carolina coast, language is valued above all else. Nollop was the birthplace of the inventor of the pangram The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, and a monument with that sentence now stands in his honor. But when the tile containing the letter "z" falls off the monument one day, the island's panel of leaders declare it a message from beyond the grave, and decide to remove from the alphabet. All written texts that contain the letter (pretty much all of them) are removed and destroyed, and punishments are put in place for anyone caught using the letter in speech or in written form. First offense: a public, verbal warning. Second offense: a choice of public flogging or head stocks. Third offense: banishment from the island. But when more letters begin falling, it becomes harder for the islanders to put up with the madness of removing the letters. Their only hope: to come up with a new pamgram - a sentence, shorter than the one Nollop created - that uses all the letters of the alphabet. If they can do this, they can restore the full alphabet to the island. But as more letters fall, and more people are banished, it all comes down to one eighteen-year-old girl named Ella to solve the puzzle, if she can. 

 

 

I thought that this was a very clever book. Written in epistolary format, it is amusing to see the writing change as letters begin to be removed from the allowable alphabet. It's a complete gimmick book - like someone trying to write a book using only one line of the keyboard - but it results in a really fun story. As extreme lovers of language, the characters writing the letters often sound like they swallowed a thesaurus, but it only makes it more amusing as certain words are dropped from use and more obscure ones are needed. 

 

I've read some reviews that - in my opinion - take this book too seriously. Yes, it portrays a totalitarian government. But I don't think that the author is making a statement on government or free speech - I think that the government in the book needs to make these rules in order for the plot to progress. Simple as that. Could I be wrong about this, and could this book really be one 200-page rant about government influence? Sure. But I honestly believe that this is much more innocent than that. I think it's a playwright giving himself a challenge to see how many letters he can remove and still write a coherent story. In this aspect, I think it works brilliantly. 

 

This isn't a perfect book by any means. As I said, it's a gimmick. Most of the characters are really simple and not very fleshed out at all. But we're not being given backstory on these characters for one simple reason - the novel is written in letters. Two cousins writing to each other are not going to write about their backstory - they presumably already know these things about each other. So there are some things that the reader is not going to get out of this story. But as a fun, relatively light read about a decision that spins out of control, I think it has a lot to offer. Definitely worth a read. 

Currently reading

The Magician's Land
Lev Grossman
The Fireman: A Novel
Joe Hill
Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City (The New 52)
Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti