The House of Broken Angels

House of Broken Angels

It is a shame that this book did not hook me like I wanted it to. I love books with good, healthy family drama, and the fact that this was based on a Mexican family with mixed immigration statuses also fed my hunger for stories that speak to deeper societal issues too. Unfortunately I got about 90 pages in and became weary with reading about how Big Angel (the patriarch) is dying and all the things he thinks about and the family dynamics around him…I don’t know, I just didn’t care enough to keep reading.

This is a book that would be a perfect seminar book. I need to make a tag for those – you know, the kind of book that you could read across a semester in an English class (high school or college) and there are enough references in the fiction to connect to actual, real world issues happening currently in real time? Immigration, how the armed forces treats its members that are not civilians, Mexican time/family dynamics, drug issues, gang issues – they are all here. It’s a book I want someone to read with me and discuss, not necessarily one I would read for enjoyment or in my free time.

So I set it aside, not because it was poorly written or a bad story, but because I’m not really in the mood for an academic read disguised as a fiction novel at the moment. If you enjoy books that expose you to culture and teach you about it through story, grab this book right away. It’s current and fresh, and the writing is good. I know I’ll come back to it at some point, it’s just not the right time right now.

 

The Female Persuasion

The Female Persuasion

I got to 80 pages and put this one away. I couldn’t even tell you exactly why, other than to say that I wasn’t interested in another story about how an older lady helps a younger lady learn how to be a feminist. The amount that Greer (the main character) whines about having to go to her lowly college instead of Yale because her parents messed up her financial aid (?) happens at least 15 times in the first 80 pages, and I am 100% not here for that bullshit either. I just don’t have time for this level-of-privilege/figuring-out-how-to-be-human pity party story. NOPE.

You should read some other reviews though, because this book is getting some seriously mixed ones from what I’m seeing. But I’ll tell you this, fam, I’m out. I’ve got other things to read.

The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2)

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The Colour of Magic (Discworld #1)

One-hundred and eighty nine pages are all that make up this second installment of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, and so as a palate cleanser after reading the giant tome The Name of the Wind, I picked it up ahead of starting the next whopper of a book, Children of Blood and Bone. Spoiler alert, I ended up reading Children of Blood and Bone first, but here we are.

I have never done any kind of drugs. Not even cigarettes. Considering that I grew up in extremely rural Maine where I have memories of at least two marijuana busts in mine and the neighboring towns and at least 4 of my family members smoked around me, this is a minor Christmas miracle.

Keep that in mind when I say that The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic are each what I imagine it would be like to be so high on cocaine that you create your own reality. These books move so fast and are so random-yet-well-planned that I can only conclude that Terry Pratchett was either VERY HIGH ON SOMETHING when he wrote them (i.e. Aaron Sorkin and the first 2 seasons of The West Wing) or he is a fucking genius.

Reading this book was like being spun around on a tire swing, then brought to an abrupt stop, forcing me to attempt to stay still until the world around me stops spinning.

Reading this book was like having one too many cups of coffee and then getting REALLY PRODUCTIVE.

It’s a bunch of non-sequiturs that magically come together to form a cohesive story that is only 180 pages long. You are taking a hilarious, weird, fantasy drag off of Pratchett’s mind joint and you will enjoy every moment.

 

 

The Parking Lot Attendant

Parking

Debut novel – April 2018

I have really been striking out with books lately. Yet another is The Parking Lot Attendant by Nafkote Tamirat, which is an ARC provided to me by Macmillan Publishing Group in return for an honest review.

I read more than I expected to of this strange “girl hangs out in parking lot with older man” book. All parties involved have ties to Ethiopia, and you sense an undercurrent of the mob or a gang, at least some unsavory goings-on. A sentence on the back of the book claims that this would be “an unforgettable, haunting story of family and fatherhood, national identity, and what it means to be an immigrant in America today.” Really? I read 60% of this book and it’s mostly this girl hanging out in a parking lot where the attendant, Ayale, lets her do her homework in the attendant booth and eventually involves her in “package delivery” when she seems to be hanging around enough to pick up what’s happening.

Her father is largely absent, and when he is present he’s upset about how much time she spends with Ayale but doesn’t take steps to prevent her from going there. I guess she kind of goes to school too? And the book begins with her and her father escaping to an unnamed island to start over, which I suspect is a kind of witness protection, but I am okay never finding out.

If this is what it means to be an immigrant in America today then I apparently don’t get it. This book is written well enough to keep me hooked longer than others have lately, but it is not compelling enough to make me feel guilty about not finishing it. I became tired of the short chapters revealing nothing, and stringing me along without revealing anything. Perhaps this story is too personal to what it’s like to be an immigrant in Boston, and so alienates readers outside the limited sphere of influence. We’re not in on the joke. We’re not in the know enough to connect.

I guess I just didn’t get it. There is an immigrant story to be explored, but this book seems to be reaching out to a very small audience. The writing was good enough to keep me going, but eventually I got tired of Lucy pulling the football out from under me and set the book down. If you are looking for a book about the immigrant experience in America I would seek out Americanah, Homegoing, or Behold the Dreamers, among others.

 

 

The Friend

the friend

New Release 2-6-2018

This is one of those books that sucked me in with the jacket description, but once I was inside the book reading the contents, I felt hecka bamboozled. The only explanation I can offer is that I must not be smart enough for what this book was trying to tell me. I thought it was going to be about how we deal with grief, but then it was about sexual things like rape, assault, affairs, and lust. Also this book is about being a writer and how being a writer is multifaceted and difficult and yet unchanging over time.

I’ve read about 5 pages max about the dog. If I am being honest with myself, I was expecting this book to be about how pets help us process grief and move forward.

That is not what this book is about. I mean, I guess it kind of is but it’s sneaked in between all this other…junk.

Hecka bamboozled. I put it down at page 77, just over 33% or so Goodreads tells me. There are so many good books to read; I’m not going to spend my time reading one that feels like it would be assigned for a deep post-feminism writing seminar for which I have not completed the prerequisites. Hard pass.

Happiness

Happiness

New Release 3-6-18

Happiness by Aminatta Forna as provided to me by Grove Atlantic/Atlantic Monthly Press via NetGalley and Edelweiss in return for an honest review.

It has been a long time since I have read a book that I suspected I would like, and then come to find out that it just wasn’t what I expected. I requested Happiness as an ARC because its descriptions on all the “most anticipated books of 2018” lists made it sound like a deep, enthralling novel.

I loved the descriptions in Forna’s writing. Her setting and characters are so vividly described that I have no trouble picturing them. I can taste the food, see the parakeets fluttering, hear the foxes and rabbits crying and screaming. Her writing is gorgeous and should be converted to an oil painting to be displayed for all to see.

Unfortunately this is one of those books where I gave myself until 30% on the Kindle, and then gave myself permission to give up. The writing and language could not save the fact that I did not care about what was happening. I am certain that if I had continued to read everything and everyone that was involved with whatever it was that was happening in the city of London in this book would have been brought together in a grand finish that displays the puzzle in a bright light, allowing you to finally see how all the pieces connect, how all the players mattered to the central idea.

The problem is that I read to escape. I read to be strung along, to be fed at least a few breadcrumbs along the way to make me curious to read more. You can bore me in the first 30% but if you give me just enough to make me wonder, then you’ll hook me for at least another 20%, and by then I’ll know for sure if I’ll finish or set your story aside.

I am not interested in Attila, the Ghanaian native whose ex(?) is in a home in London due to early onset Alzheimer’s. I’m not interested in Jean, the scientist studying the behaviors of urban foxes and creating wild rooftop spaces for landlords in London. I don’t understand why it’s important that these two people have found each other and by the time you throw in that Attila’s niece and her son have been apprehended by immigration authorities and her son becomes lost and they go to find him…I don’t know, man, I just don’t care. There isn’t enough connective tissue here, it just feels like someone is throwing story ideas at a wall to see what sticks.

By 30-50% I should have an idea of the characters, what their individual purposes are, how they relate to one another, and what the overarching goal of the plot line seems to be. By 30% I should be at cruising altitude and about to be offered a drink from the cart. I shouldn’t be wondering if I’m on the wrong plane, or where my seat is, or why I’m on this trip at all.

So while the writing was spectacularly descriptive and enjoyable in its own right, the journey was not clear enough to hook me into the rest of the book. You might try it to see if it’s more your cup of tea, but for me it’s a not so much. Sorry.

 

Down the River Unto the Sea

Down the River Unto the Sea

New Release: 2-20-2018

This is the stupidest fucking book I have ever read, and I’ve read The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak.

Oh, btw this book was provided to be by Mulholland Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review and HOLY SHIT ARE THEY GONNA GET WHAT THEY ASKED FOR.

The main character is a cop, we’re gonna call him Dick Cop. Now Dick apparently has been forced out of his position because he was set up for… rape I guess? In his explanation of his past, we are told that he is sent by his dispatcher to a townhouse to arrest a woman for grand theft auto. When he gets there, the car in question is parked out front, and when he knocks on the door a beautiful woman opens the door and gives a 3 sentence explanation about why she has the car, AND THEN THEY IMMEDIATELY FUCK. He admits in his own description of his past that he can’t keep his dick out of the ladies. “It’s gotten me into trouble” he says. NO SHIT.

He’s arrested for rape (she falsely accuses him as part of the set up AND THERE WERE CAMERAS ALL THROUGH THE APARTMENT so his family gets to see them after he’s thrown in the slammer…omg) and like, somehow also getting head in exchange for not arresting her? and is sent to jail. While in jail he is treated as you would expect a cop to be treated despite being in a single bed cell, and then to protect him after a few attacks the cops decide he’d be better off in solitary confinement? where he stays for almost three months? and makes a “blackjack” which he plans to murder people with. Oh and he has a wife and a daughter at home that find out about all this through the news.

So in just the first 10% of the book I’m told that this cop is (1) dirty, (2) gross, (3) murderous, (4) framed? and now as we work into the story in the “present day” (8 years later) I’m supposed to feel sympathy and be interested in how he moves forward to solve his own case and also maybe move to Hawaii to start over? And also his daughter is somehow on his side and works for his private detective agency that he started when he got released from prison because the charges were dropped?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

NO FUCKING WAY, WALTER MOSLEY. GO SELL THIS SHIT TO DUDES THAT GET OFF ON THIS KIND OF GARBAGE AND GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY KINDLE. WHAT A PILE OF HOT, SMOKING TRASH. THIS BOOK IS AN INSULT TO THRILLER MYSTERY NOVELS. THESE BOOKS SHOULD BE RECALLED TO AVOID PEOPLE BEING SCAMMED OUT OF THEIR MONEY. I WANT COMPENSATION AND ALL I GOT WAS AN ARC, IMAGINE IF SOMEONE PAID $29.99 FOR A HARDCOVER?????

*ahem*

Don’t read this book. Period.