Second Quarter Book Reviews One Month Early

I’m writing the second quarter book reviews a month early because I’m going to be in Vermont for half of June and half of July, and instead of writing book reviews I intend to spend my vacation sprawled on my parents lawn in a gin soaked stupor, so there you have it.

Now, where did we leave off?

(P.S.  Confidential to NGS:  Please assume that any book I loved, I am recommending you do not read, and any book I hated, I assume you will love.)

49.  An Exact Replica of A Figment of My Imagination.  This was wonderful.  Sad and wonderful.  Although to be honest it is rare that I do not love a memoir.

50.  It Sucked and Then I Cried.  I read this a hundred years after everyone else in one night at Maggie’s house.  It was ok.  Not as terrible as I thought it would be, but nothing to like, lose your mind over.  I felt like she did that thing she does on her blog, where she tries to use a WACKY metaphor, and it just didn’t work that well in this book.  It was all “and then I told him sure, JUST BITE MY HAND OFF AND COVER IT WITH PEANUT BUTTER AND FEED IT TO A LIVE BUT ALSO HALF DEAD DEMONIC SEA CUCUMBER ALIEN PORCUPINE ON MARS” or whatever and it was just unfunny.

51.  Recovery Road.  So Blake Nelson wrote Girl, which is one of my favorite books of all time, and because of that I keep checking out his new books and I never really like them that much.  This one was much better than Paranoid Park, but still didn’t compare to Girl, at least not for me.

52.  Just Kids.  I don’t know.  Maybe you had to live it?  I guess it was interesting but it seemed very long and not all that noteworthy.

53.  Exposed.  I found the plot twist in this book to be very very…questionable.  It made me dislike everyone involved.

54.  Nothing.  HOLY CRAP NO. Dear god.  This is one of the most screwed up weird bizarre and obnoxious things I have read in a long long time.  I suppose I am just not ready for Danish existentialist young adult fiction, but JESUS.

55.  Skippy Dies.  Oh, this was SO LONG.  Just so so so long.  And I enjoyed the first nine million pages, I thought it had some funny and interesting things to say about catholic education, but then it started down a road that was just not for me, and (spoiler alert) yes, that road was related to a priest abusing teenage boys and I’m sorry, but I just don’t want to read about that.  No thanks.

56.  Revolver.  This was a Printz honor book?! Eeeeech.

57.  Catcher, Caught.  I really liked this book, but it had a plot point that did not ring true for me and it threw off my enjoyment of the book.

58.  Where She Went.  The funny thing is that I almost didn’t read this book, because I didn’t care for If I Stay at all.  (This book is the sequel.)  And oh, I LOVED this book.  I want to read it again, and again, and again.  I LOVED IT.  Funny and romantic and sad and wonderful and magical and I LOVED IT.  Best YAF romantic type book I have read in a long time.

59.  Let’s Take the Long Way Home.  There was just way way way waaaaaay too much about dogs in this book for me.

60.  Between Shades of Gray.  This was no Endless Steppe, but it was a good read, for historical fiction, and I especially found the historical information at the end of the book interesting.

61.  The Finkler Question.  This won the Man Booker Prize.  It was incredibly incredibly boring.

62.  Stolen.  Oh, this was very odd.  Very very odd.  I couldn’t get into it.

63.  Torment.  This book started off with the following sentence:  “Behind him, the bleat of sea lions flopping in heaps along the south shore of Angel Island sounded the way he felt, jaggedly lonely, with no one around to hear.”  UM NO.   First of all, there IS someone around to hear, obviously, and secondly, the BLEAT OF SEA LIONS SOUNDS THE WAY YOU FEEL?  JAGGEDLY LONELY?  THAT’S WHAT THE BLEAT OF SEA LIONS FEELS LIKE?   JAGGED LONELINESS?  HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.  Seriously?  SOMEONE EDIT THIS SHIT!

64.  To Then End of the Land.  I just don’t read books without any quotation marks to indicate dialogue.  Might be the best book in the world (although I doubt it), but not for me.  Get over yourself, because seriously?  YOU’RE NOT TOO GOOD FOR PUNCTUATION.  USE SOME.

65.  I’d Know You Anywhere.  I am probably a bad sheltered person, but I just don’t want to read books about creepy abusers creepily abusing people.  No thanks.

66.  Tell Us We’re Home. Meh. I thought this was formulaic.  Although it was fine.  Nowhere near as bad as some of the stuff I read.  No one’s feelings were described in terms of bleating sea creatures, for example.

67.  Stay.  Meh.

68.  Home to Woefield.  A few paragraphs into this book, the main character referred to HIS MOTHER’S LADY AREA AS HER “NO NO HOLE”.  And no thank you to that.

69.  Annexed.  I just really think it’s uncool to try to rewrite The Diary of Anne Frank.  Some things should just be alone.

70.  Crossing the Tracks.  I really liked this.  You should read it.

71.  Dirt Road Home.  I have literally no memory of this book.

72.  Welcome to Utopia.  About life in a very small town.  The first chapter was super boring, and after that it got better, but it wasn’t especially interesting or mind blowing.

73.  Somebody Everybody Listens To.  At first I thought this was sort of boring and formulaic but then it became one of those books I couldn’t get out of my head.  Interesting and different.

74.  Three Black Swans.  I love Caroline Cooney but this book was nothing special.

75.  It’s Not You, It’s Me.  Oh no.  No.

76.  Homecoming.  Quite frequently I complain that no “my mother left me” YAF compares to Homecoming, but I haven’t read it in years, so I thought maybe I should re read the series to make sure I wasn’t wrong.  I wasn’t wrong.  This book sets the bar, and it’s wonderful, and there is something so spare and detailed and perfect in the telling of this tale.  Dicey is one of my favorite fictional people of all time.

77.  The Piper’s Son.  I really loved Jellicoe Road so much, and I also loved Finnikin of the Rock, and this is the latest from Melina Marchetta, so I read it.  It was ok.  I liked the story and the characters, but it lacked something for me, and it seemed quite long, for no apparent reason.  It improved with time, but it was not as good as some of her other books.

78.  Bumped.  Oh god.  I loved Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings more than is really healthy, probably, but this book was such a stinker.  Weird post apocalyptic plot line designed to cash in on the Hunger Games popularity?  Check.  Dippy futuristic made up slang?  Check.  Annoying main character who completely buys into the party line for the first 1/3 of the book?  Check.  Blargh.

79.  Across the Universe.  Oh haaaaaaaaaaaa.  No.

80.  Amy Butler’s Stitches for Little Ones.  I had this book on hold FOREVER so I did have high expectations but there was literally nothing I wanted to make in this book.

81.  Greyhound.  This was unreadable.  One of the most badly written things I have read in a long time.  I hate to be a book snob, but because I have worked in the book industry I have a certain perspective and a very short time into this book I thought “Someone PUBLISHED this?” and turned to the fly leaf to discover that it was some random publisher I had never heard of and let me just say that I was not surprised by this fact.

82.  Room.  Hmmmm.  I wanted to like this, because I feel like maybe it’s really snobby of me not to like it?  In the end, I didn’t hate it, but it just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t really get the hype.  I think most of the reason I didn’t love it it because I would MUCH rather have read the book from the point of view of the mother, rather than the five year old.  I know that’s the “thing” or whatever about this book, but I found the voice of the child a bit much, especially toward the end.

83.  The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.  Favorite book of the season, so far.  I LOVED THIS BOOK.  Although I do think that the title and the cover and all that business might be a bit unfortunate because it presents itself as foodie chick lit, sort of, and this book ain’t that.  It’s so sad and weird and fantastical and beautiful and so real it felt autobiographical at the same as it was one of the strangest and unreal things I’ve read in a long time and I LOVED it.  This is the first book I’ve copied sentences out of in a long long time. Here’s one for you:  It can feel so lonely, to see strangers out in the day, shopping, on a day that is not a good one.  On this one:  the day I returned from the emergency room after having a fit about wanting to remove my mouth.  Not an easy day to look at people in their vivid clothes, in their shining hair, pointing and smiling at colorful woven sweaters.

I mean, I don’t know about you, but I have had that day. I have had that moment, and I have never heard it described so truly, so cleanly, and so perfectly, something I’ve felt just like that, as I do in that paragraph.

Also, please note that this book did not have quotation marks, and I didn’t even notice until 3/4’s of the way through.  Seriously.  This book is why I read books.  To find something of yourself, plus more, in the pages and words of someone else is something so profound and it makes you feel like there’s hope for the future and you and your life and it’s all going to be ok and even it isn’t at least there are these beautiful words out there, telling the world how it feels to be you.

84.  Kapitoil.  Urgh.  No.

85.  The Fitzosbornes in Exile.  Ok, so the first book was sort of dull.  Why I decided to check out the sequel I will never know.  Shockingly, it was quite dull.

86.  Take Me There.  This seemed very young and was pretty unremarkable.

87.  More Than Just Race.  I felt like I was reading this for a class.

88.  Death Match.  Ok, so when you read a sort of thriller mystery, and there’s a giant set up for the first 100 or so pages where a scenario is set up in which there are NO ANSWERS and no! can! figure! out! what’s! going! on!, there are two giant plot cop outs which I simply do not accept.  The first one is cloning. OH MY GOD, WE ARE CLONES!  Um, no. Unacceptable.  This book doesn’t, thank god, go with the cloning cop out, but it goes with the other unacceptable cop out and I am not having it, no I am not.

89.  Pull.  So, I was going along giving this book the benefit of the doubt when about a third of the way in, the main character agreed to let his sister tell everyone at their school that he was her boyfriend, and I am sorry, but no.  Just no.   Also, ick.

90.  The Pull of Gravity.  Meh.

91.  The Adults.  So there are these books?  They are very well written and they are interesting on paper and they are even funny sometimes but there’s just nothing there.  They seem like a collection of random words because something essential, some connection, some magic, is missing.  That  happened with this book.

92.  Dicey’s Song.  Not as strong for me as Homecoming, but still wonderful.

93.  Ok For Now.  The sort of sequel to The Wednesday Wars, and also tremendously fabulous.  This book makes me believe in children’s literature.  Truly.

94.  Savages.  Totally totally super dirrrrrrrrrrrrrrty.  Also, wicked violent.  Also, I loved it. Top five book of the quarter, most definitely.

95.  Caleb & Kate.  Oh, Caleb and Kate are trying to work it out with Jesus.  Uh, no.

So let’s see, I have seven months left to read 85 books.  As long as one of them isn’t the sequel to The Passage, it should be totally doable.




18 Responses

  1. You doing Dooce is very funny. I love your book reviews and that some of the books are summed up by “Meh.”

  2. I love your reviews, even though YOU NEVER INCLUDE AUTHOR NAMES so I can look them up faster. It’s amazing to me how I can hate a book that someone else loves, and vice versa.

    How in the name of God can you read so many books? Are they short? Are you skimming? Good gravy, I thought I read fast.

  3. I love your book reviews. Also, it gives me hope for my writing. I always use quotation marks. I will never describe a person’s feelings as the sounds of sea creatures. Also, I’m glad I’m not the only one not totally enamored of Dooce. I respect what she’s done, but I find her blog writing style tiring.

  4. I love these posts—and I’m always amazed by how much you’re able to read. I envy you!

    THANK YOU for reminding me about Homecoming…one of my favorite books back in the day and now I can’t wait to reread!

    • Holy crap, I’ve never known anyone else who has ever read Homecoming, and now there are two!
      That was one of my favorite books when I was younger, too! Ditto on going to have to go find it and read it again…

  5. ok, I love to read, and read a ton, but how in the hell do you read SO MUCH???

    Maybe if I spent less time surfing the internet.

    I haven’t read Dicey’s Song in a million years. That was a good book.

  6. I love your book reviews. And wasn’t The Finkler Question a huge disappointment? Well, I can’t REALLY say I know that because I gave up a few pages in. But BLEH.

    Also! So excited to hear how good Particular Sadness is! Have you read her other stuff? The Girl in the Flammable Skirt is amazing. And if you like Aimee Bender, do you read any George Saunders? I fell in love with both of them at the same time, so they are forever linked in my brain.

  7. I’m with Lisa – my resolution was 125 books this year and I just don’t think I’m going to make it, but I read a ton and I don’t think there’s any way that I could keep up with you! I know that a lot of the stuff you read is YA, right? But still. I’ve read exactly half the amount of books that you have (49).

    Plus my book club book this next month is The Passage, and I’m finally reading Harry Potter Deathly Hallows, so I don’t expect to get any other reading done. 🙂

  8. Thanks for posting all these reviews. I am always looking for new books to read and it is so hard to know what is worth reading and what is a waste of time. I loved the Endless Steppe and I have read it until the pages have started falling out. Good luck on the Passage. I liked it all the way until the last page. Then I wished I hadn’t read it. However, The Deathly Hallows is a great read.

  9. “no-no hole?” OH MAH GAWD.

    I’ve had Home to Woefield on my bookshelf for a while and WOW. Don’t think I’ll be able to handle it. Thanks for the heads up.

    That said, I’m in the middle of reading I’d Know You Anywhere because I enjoy creepy books about creepy people doing creepy things. And I have no idea why. Garrett asks me why a lot. Also, why I read books about dead babies, but HELLO, An Exact Replica…was MOVING.

  10. Is it time travel? Because time travel is totally unacceptable to me. Once you introduce time travel into a book, I am done with you. (Okay, J.K. got a pass, but she never used it again, so I forgave her…) I reluctantly put the Lemon Cake book on my list, but you liked Where She Went, so you aren’t ALWAYS wrong…

  11. Thank you for loving Okay for Now. My faith in humanity would have been shaken if you didn’t.

    Also, your imitation of Dooce makes me love you forever. That book was, I felt, a complete knock-off of her blog and I was not very impressed.

    And, Bumped? So stupid.

    Also, I didn’t read Homecoming/Dicey’s Song until a couple of years ago and I couldn’t believe what I’d been missing!

  12. I felt the same way about It sucked then I cried, Just kids and I couldn’t even finish I’d know you anywhere.

  13. It Sucked and Then I Cried was more a…blook.
    And I feel the same way about Dicey. My seventh grade teacher had us read Homecoming, and I haven’t forgotten it since. Not unrelated: that seventh grade teacher deserved a Nobel Prize for her teaching skill. (I couldn’t get through Bumped. I got five chapters in and just…eh. You have more resolve than me.)

  14. Oh my, your book reviews are my favorite. I look forward to this list and have added many new books to my list.

    Although – Author name for Homecoming, please? I am intrigued.

  15. The sea lion description was hilarious! Love your book reviews, even though I’ve never heard of any of the books you’ve read. I probably shouldn’t say that out loud, should I?

  16. Thanks for the reviews. You’ve motivated me to read some of them. So funny–I thought it was just something about me that found “It sucked..” just vapid. But if Dooce ever needs a ghost writer, I think you have her style down pat. I sputtered my coffee when I read that part.
    So does this vacation thing mean no blog for a whole month?

  17. omg, your book reviews totally crack me up. Plus I agree with a bunch of them. And, um, you know, not some others, but still. 😉

    I love your site. 🙂

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