Bookish Blerd

I'm a book buying junkie who buys books faster than I can read them. But what better way is there to live than surrounded by books?! I read as much as I can and I do my best to give coherent reviews...which doesn't always happen.  I enjoy many genres, which is likely the reason I struggle with deciding my next read.

DNF: The Last Exit To Normal

The Last Exit to Normal - Michael Harmon

It's been a really long time since I've either given up on a book or disliked it so much that I couldn't even hate-read it through to the end.

 

Ben is the protagonist who's father came home one day and announced he was gay.  Mom walked out--which just effed up.  Ben, having had his world fall apart, goes full-on delinquent, alcohol, drugs, general terrible behavior.  After a while dad forced them into therapy, they have some breakthroughs.  Things get a lot better, not perfect, but better.  Ben cleans up his act and has even gotten used to his stepdad, whom he calls momdad, even if he doesn't love the situation.  He has one slip-up and they decided it's a good idea to move a teenaged city boy to the middle of nowhere Montana.

 

So we're talking two gay men moving back to one's hometown--the town he moved away from for very good reason, and they bring their son/stepson with them.  They move into his childhood home with his mother, who doesn't like that her son his gay, but he's still her son, so there's that.

 

Bonnie Mae, or Miss Mae, is old school country, respect is demanded, manners are insisted upon, no cussing or sarcasm, beatings and/or starvation as punishment.  Yeah great idea for a smart-assed teenager with two dads.

 

This books is just a mess.  Verbal threats, physical abuse, starvation, and forcing Ben to sleep in the woodshed.  And this is all from Miss Mae.  And dad just sits back and lets this woman do this to his child.  Like, what?!  I don't care what lame excuse you want to use, "they do things different," "she's from a different time," "we're guests in her home."  I'll be damned if I let someone lay a hand on my child.  You'd best not even discipline my child, especially if I'm close enough to be called to handle a situation.

 

Miss Mae is an asshole.  Dad is an asshole.  Ben is an asshole.  The only one who's decent is Edward, who willingly came back to the town that tortured him throughout his childhood, just to help his partner's child stay on the straight and narrow.  The neighbor is also an abusive, homophobic asshole, who beats the living daylights out of his son because Ben was talking to him, even after the boy told Ben to leave him alone, even after Ben told the man that he had approached the boy who didn't want to talk to him.  

 

I didn't think I would finish it because I didn't even care if there was character growth or a redemption arc.  But I toyed with the idea of slogging through it anyway.  And then the little neighbor boy shot a stray cat just because.  That's it.  Just. Because.

 

I "noped" out of that book and cannot recommend anyone to read it.

Reading progress update: I've read 86 out of 288 pages.

The Last Exit to Normal - Michael Harmon

I hate this book.  Pretty sure this is going to be a DNF.

Reading progress update: I've read 39 out of 288 pages.

The Last Exit to Normal - Michael Harmon

This might be a DNF. They've moved the kid to the middle of nowhere Montana against his will--which sure he's a 17-year-old and when parents decided to move that's just that.  But we're dealing homophobes and abusive behaviours.  Ben, the teenage protagonist is being hit and now starved and thrown out but the mother of his "stepdad" and his father is just, "Cool."

 

I get that things are done 'differently' there, and she's from a different time or whatever lame excuse you want to put on it--even the, "We're a guest in her home," excuse, but I'll be damned if I allow ANYONE to lay a hand on my kid I don't care if it's your house or how "disrespectful" you believe them to be. Just no!  I may try to finish the chapter, but the kid has been hit, denied dinner and kicked out of the house to stay in the woodshed until she decides he can come back inside and dad is just going with it.  This is a mess.  Normally I'd keep reading with a sick fascination wonder just how hot-messy it can get, but this is just...nah.

Reading progress update: I've read 1 out of 288 pages.

The Last Exit to Normal - Michael Harmon

OMG YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! Again with the first person point of view.  This makes six of the last eight books I've read now. Insanity or a sign?  Who knows.

Review: Aliens: Bug Hunt

Aliens: Bug Hunt - Jonathan Maberry

This is an excellent collection of stories based on the Colonial Marines as seen in the movie, Aliens.  In each tale we were are introduced to new characters and different units of the marines.  We're taken to different planets and moons and met with xenomorphs other than the ones we're familiar with.  It's funny and terrifyingly realistic that no matter how dangerous humans know something to be, there is always some corporate "genius" willing to take the risk of killing everyone if it'll make them a profit.  And no matter how many scientist and marines die, or how many ships and facilities are destroyed, the corporations will keep trying to find a way to profit off the xenomorphs.

 

I loved that we basically witness the "birth" of Bishop, as he was discernibly different from his "brothers", though they were built to be identical.  In one story we learned how he came to be with Apone and his mischievous band of jarheads.  The main reason I bought this audibook was because of the promise of adventures with Hicks, Hudson and crew.  I wish there had been more, but I did enjoy what there was.  

 

The theory of the mutations of the offspring of the face-huggers varying based on the host was fascinating.  Getting different and sometimes more terrifying versions of xenomorphs was jarring.  But the most interesting was seeing the story from the xenomorphs' point of view.  It just reminded you that they were only doing what they were built to do, they were just trying to survive just like any species.  I ended up feeling bad for them, which I guess was the point.

 

The stories were all well written and interesting.  "Interesting" is such an inadequate word.  *sigh*  They were...engrossing.  My only wish was that there had been more adventures with Hick and co.  The voice actors did an excellent job bringing the characters and the worlds to life.

Reading progress update: I've listened 445 out of 678 minutes.

Aliens: Bug Hunt - Jonathan Maberry

I LOVE the Colonial Marines!   That is all.

Review: The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

I couldn't get into this.  I had to switch between paperback and audiobook to get through it.  

 

I love the subject matter and the fact that the story focused on Achilles and Patroclus growing up together and falling for one another.  It was interesting how they lived with the spectre of both their deaths as they grew older, both knowing that they wouldn't live into old age.  I loved everything about the story except for the fact that I was bored reading/listening to it.  I'm not sure why, but my attention didn't fully perk up until the last few chapters.

 

I'm going to chalk this up to the reader and not the author.  I will attempt a reread this some other time to see if I perhaps just read it at the wrong time or in the wrong frame of mind.  It's happened to me before and I've ended up loving a book or movie the second time around.

 

All-in-all I think it was well researched and put together, just couldn't get excited for it.

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: Keeping You A Secret

Keeping You a Secret - Julie Anne Peters

Author: Julie Anne Peters

Published: 2003

Format: paperback

Pages: 250

 

I finished this early this morning and have been trying all day to figure out what to say about it.  It was... all right.  I didn't hate it, but definitely didn't love it.  

 

The protagonist Holland Jaeger...she got kind of a raw deal.  She was the product of a teen pregnancy.  Her mother was kicked out of her home, forced to quit school and raise a child on her own.  I think Holland was made to suffer some of her mother's bitterness.  She practically ran Holland's life, planning her future, going through her personal belongings, the whole nine yards.  Later in life when Holland's mother meets a nice man, marries and has a baby, she let's slip that she wished  she had waited to have Holland.  She thought she would have been a better mother.  She thought she would have wanted her.  For realsies?!  How do you tell your child you didn't want her and think it's just causal conversation?

 

Holland is in her senior year of high school and is completely over extending between classes, extracurriculars, work, and trying to live her life for her mother instead of herself.  She's struggling to even spend time with her friends and boyfriend of a year, Seth.

 

It's obvious from almost the beginning of the book that the shiney-newness of Seth had worn off, but Holland was too clueless to see things for what the were.  And she was busy applying to colleges she knew she couldn't get into (and got rejected from) to please her mother's need to live vicariously through her.

 

Enter CeCe, a transfer student who is gay, out, and immediately caught Holland's attention.  Holland was drawn to her.  After several encounters she finally realized that she's attracted to CeCe and that it wasn't the first girl she'd crushed on.  She never thought about it meaning she was gay until she was faced with out and proud CeCe.  After breaking up with Seth and crushing his fragile boy heart, she and CeCe started seeing one another, but CeCe insisted that they keep it secret, claiming to want to protect Holland from the hate and bigotry she faced daily.

 

But of course, as it always does, it came out that Holland was gay and dating CeCe.  Seth was angry, one of her best friends, Kristen, turned out to be a total bigot, and her other best friend was just hurt that Holland had ditched her with no explanation.   And of course her mother lost the plot and did exactly what her parents had done to her, she kicked her daughter out.  Holland's life fell into a shambles, all because she fell for CeCe.  But not really.

 

CeCe confessed to betraying Holland by suppressing her right to out herself--which was seven kinds of effed up--all because she was being selfish.  CeCe had previously helped her first love come out and once she did the girl became a whole new person.  She became confident and vibrant and bold and eventually fell for someone else and effectively cheated on CeCe.  This was what CeCe didn't want to happen with Holland, so she suppressed her.  Holland agreed that it was a betrayal, but at the same time, Holland agreed to the secret.  So it's just as much her fault, and honestly, nothing would have changed her mother's reaction.

 

I didn't like CeCe.  I didn't like Seth, or Kristen even before we found out she was a bigot.  I hated Holland's mother and CeCe's mother. And I hated the choices Holland made, and the choices she allowed to be made on her behalf.  If she was old enough to purchase her own vehicle and have  car payment and work, she was old enough to make her own decisions about college, especially since was was either relying on scholarships or paying for it herself.  Her mother had no right, and while I know it's hard to go against your parents when you're dependent on them for everything (leaglly and financially) at some point you have to say this is my life not yours.  The best thing Holland did was walk out on her mother when she attempted a half-assed, bull-crap reconciliation. Her mother hadn't planned to change, understand or accept Holland for anything other than what she wanted her to be.  And just as her mother never forgave or reconciled with her parents, I believe the same was true for Holland. 

 

This book just wasn't it for me.

Reading progress update: I've read 7 out of 250 pages.

Keeping You a Secret - Julie Anne Peters

FOURTH FIRST PERSON...in a row!  WTF?! Someone somewhere wants me to change my opinion about first person books! UGH!  Not deep enough into the book to know if I like it yet. Stay tuned.

Reading progress update: I've read 150 out of 378 pages.

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

Meh.  Interesting, but slow.  It's more like a slice-of-life, which I adore, but this is actually kind of boring.

SPOILER ALERT!

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

First person perspective quickly became a non-issue once I got a few chapters into this book.  This is probably the best first person story I've read.

 

All the feels.  So, so many feels.  This story was so profound.  I felt like I was Aristotle, or Ari to his friends.  He was a lonely, lonely boy, and though I had good friends--great friends growing up, I remember feeling such an aching loneliness at times.  I also remember being caught in my own private wars and living inside my head, keeping so many of my thoughts to myself.

 

Ari was a beautiful boy who was confused not only about himself, but about the entirety of his family.  His father returned from the Vietnam war a shell of his former self--not that Ari would know that because he was born after his father returned from the war.  It was as if whatever haunted his father was inherited by Ari.  He grew up being so bothered by the fact that he didn't know his father because he wouldn't let anyone in.  He grew up as practically an only child because his siblings were so much older than him.  He grew up hating that his brother, who was in prison, was treated as though he didn't exist.  He hated that there were so many secrets in his family, yet he didn't want to share any of his secrets either.  There was so much anger and confusion roiling around inside of Ari.  And it really came through in the writing.  I just wanted to hug him, and I remember being him.

 

And then Dante came into his life.  Dante was such a polar opposite of Ari, but like a light in the otherwise darkness of Ari's mind.  They were a strange pair, Aristotle and Dante, but they fit so perfectly together.  Dante taught Ari to swim, and became Ari's first ever real friend, let alone best friend.  He immersed Ari int art, and books, and a different family life than he was familiar with.  Dante made Ari feel things that he didn't want to.  He made Dante want to share his mind, which was something Ari just didn't do.

 

Watching them fall in love... It was amazing and beautifully written.  This was like a slice-of-life, but with a plot.  I wasn't always certain they were falling in love.  The author, in my opinion, keep me wondering.  I figured Dante out pretty easily, but Ari, as Dante called him, was "inscrutable".  Just when I thought maybe he returned Dante's feelings I was like, oh maybe not.  Even when Dante was beaten badly enough to be hospitalized, and Ari found out one of the boys who had done it, he went ballistic and returned the favor to the little punk.  Maybe I'm just clueless, but I certainly would destroy anyone who hurt my bestie, and I would definitely have pushed her out of the way of a moving vehicle.  That's what besties do, or at least I thought so.  Which is why it made sense to me when Ari continually said he hadn't done it on purpose, it had just been a reflex.  Protecting people you love-no matter the manner of love--is a reflex.  You don't think about it, you just do it.  I honestly believed for the longest time, that Ari loved Dante as a friend.  Their experimental kiss threw me off because the author tried very hard to make the romantic feelings seem one-sided...or as I said, I'm just clueless.

 

I'm not doing very well on this review.  This book has got me shooketh.  It was just a beautiful story, and I loved every page of it!  It was sad and funny and exciting and heartbreaking.  Dude, this book made me cry.  Not full-on ugly cry, but I got misty and that's a good as tears when it comes to me.  This book also triggered me a bit.  But it was a me-thing.  I was reminded, every time Ari thought about his father, of how much I miss mine.  And like with many other books on my shelves, I can't believe it took me so long to read this.  

Reading progress update: I've read 18 out of 359 pages.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Ugh! It's in first person.  This is like the third or fourth book this year. Second in a row.  That aside, it seems good so far.

June TBR

June is Pride Month so I'm setting aside my Series & Tolkien projects to focus on LGBTQ reads.

 

june tbr

  1. As Meat Loves Salt
  2. Annie On My Mind
  3. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
  4. Freak Show
  5. Keeping You A Secret
  6. The Last Exit To Normal
  7. Leah on the Off Beat
  8. The Song of Achilles *
  9. Symptoms of Being Human
  10. We Contain Multitudes

 

ARCS:
Manfried Saves The Day

*I also have the audiobook.

May Wrap-Up

May was a pretty good reading month for me.  I managed to complete 7 books this month which is almost as much as I've read all year.  Perhaps I'm finally out of this reading slump.

 

Audiobooks = 2
eBooks = 3
Paperbacks = 3

 

ARCs = 3
Giveaways = 1

 

 = 1
 = 1
 = 3
 = 1
 = 1


 


demon lord of califnornia
The Demon Lord of California [eBook/ARC]

 


lost coast
The Lost Coast [eBook/ACR/Audiobook]

 


dream daddyless than zerorape jokes
Dream Daddies [eBook/ARC]
Less Than Zero [paperback]
Rape Jokes [paperback/giveaways]

 


lorien legacies the legacies
Lorien Legacies: The Lost Files, The Legacies [paperback]

 


ayiti (audio)
Ayiti [audiobook]


 

I'm proud of my progress for May.  How did everyone else do?  See you in June!

Review: Rape Jokes

Rape Jokes - Louise McGregor

Author: Louise McGregor

Published: 2019

Format: paperback (giveaway)

Pages: 205

 

This was a LibraryThing giveaway.

 

Thumbs up because the publisher is based in my hometown.

 

Cons:

1) The title, which I get, but I got a lot of looks while reading this in public.

2) The entirety of the book is in first person which does make sense for the story being told, but I loathe first person perspective. 

3) Some of the situations were so convoluted they were comical.

 

Pros:

1) The story was told from the victim's point of view. 

2) She had a good support system. 

3) She didn't instantly know what to do and how to feel.

4) She didn't have instant closure.

 

We watched as our protagonist, Edie, figured out what actually happed to her and saw how she navigated everday life as a survivor of rape.

 

Her life fell apart a little too spectacularly for my tastes, but we did watch her work to put it all back together again, which didn't happen instantly.  She had to learn how to fuction as a friend, a worker, a love interest and just Edie again. 

 

It wasn't a great read, but it was very good. I would definitely check out more from the author a d publisher in future.

Louise McGregor

Published: 2019

Format: paperback (giveaway)

Pages: 205

 

This was a LibraryThing giveaway.

 

Thumbs up because the publisher is based in my hometown.

 

Cons:

1) The title, which I get, but I got a lot of looks while reading this in public.

2) The entirety of the book is in first person which does make sense for the story being told, but I loathe first person perspective. 

3) Some of the situations were so convoluted they were comical.

 

Pros:

1) The story was told from the victim's point of view. 

2) She had a good support system. 

3) She didn't instantly know what to do and how to feel.

4) She didn't have instant closure.

 

We watched as our protagonist, Edie, figured out what actually happed to her and saw how she navigated everday life as a survivor of rape.

 

Her life fell apart a little too spectacularly for my tastes, but we did watch her work to put it all back together again, which didn't happen instantly.  She had to learn how to fuction as a friend, a worker, a love interest and just Edie again. 

 

It wasn't a great read, but it was very good. I would definitely check out more from the author a d publisher in future.

Reading progress update: I've read 62 out of 205 pages.

Rape Jokes - Louise McGregor

It's in first person, which I loathe.  However, considering the story being told, it makes sense for it to be in first person.  I haven't decided how I feel about it.  I don't hate it though, so that's good.

Currently reading

Werewolves and Shape Shifters: Encounters with the Beasts Within
George R.R. Martin, H.P. Lovecraft, Neil Gaiman, Tessa Gratton, Bentley Little, Zak Jarvis, Violet Glaze, Peter Giglio, Mercedes M. Yardley, Dieter Meyer, Scott Bradley, Brad C. Hodson, Nicole Cushing, Alice Henderson, Alethea Kontis, Steve Duffy, Maxwell Hart, Richard Ch
Progress: 31/640pages
A Christmas Cornucopia: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Yuletide Traditions
Mark Forsyth
Annie on My Mind
Nancy Garden
Twice Bitten
Crystal Green, Erica Orloff