Mini-Reviews: Wizards,Yunior returns, and a girl from Boston.

It was a mostly bleh week of reading for me. I hit some juicy re-reads for my Stephen King project, and I’m devouring my current read, Come As You Are, but aside from that… But you don’t have to take my word for it.

Book69Wizard and Glass, by Stephen King (Viking Adult, 1997, 672 pages, ebook). Part of my Stephen King Re-Read Project and the fourth Dark Tower book, I couldn’t have been happier with this one. I used to dread the massive backstory of DT4, Tower-junkie that I was (am), but it grows on me with each re-read. (I almost said re-telling; how’s that for placing yourself inside a book?!) My only complaint is that I have such a hard time reconciling teenager Roland with adult Roland. I can see how they’re the same person. I just have a hard time seeing Roland innnn lurrrrrrrve as a grown-up. 5 of 5 stars.

Book70Bag of Bones, by Stephen King (Scribner, 1998, 516 pages, paperback). Another in the Stephen King Re-Read Project, and one I’d firmly place in my Top 10 list, to boot. I love Kyra Devore and still thoroughly enjoy the writerly main character, even if I have trouble picturing Mike Noonan as young as he’s supposed to be, and instead keep picturing a slightly younger Ralph Roberts. The cursed families thing works here, but for my money, King’s storytelling is always weakest when he tries to tackle race relations, and that’s a big part of this plot. Still. 5 of 5 stars.

Book71The Loudness, by Nick Courage (Sky Pony Press, 2015, 336 pages, library ebook). A post-apocalyptic tale of a literally heartless kid who deals with abandonment issues by trying to bust out of the government’s Green Zone towards an artists’ colony. This was way too sci-fi/futuristic for me. You know how picky I am about that stuff. 1 of 5 stars.

 

Book72Drown, by Junot Diaz (Riverhead, 1996, 208 pages, paperback). Technically, Yunior doesn’t return for these linked short stories, since this Yunior was published way before I met Yunior in The Short, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. For me, though, it felt like coming home to an old friend. Junot Diaz is one of my favorite living writers. Drown wasn’t nearly my favorite publication and I’ll still beg and plead with everyone to read it. 4 of 5 stars.

Book73Inside the O’Briens, by Lisa Genova (Gallery Books, 2015, 343 pages, library ebook). I willingly drowned myself in the language of home while reading this, even with the giant trigger warning I knew the book bore. Inside the O’Briens tells the story of a Boston cop, Joe O’Brien, who’s downward spiral through foggy memory, violent mood swings, and uncontrollable movements eventually land him with a diagnosis of Huntington’s Disease. The book struck close to home in a way I could mostly set aside, and as I said – I loved feeling like I was back home. That being said, I’ve always found Genova’s writing to be a bit soft. Like she pulls punches, perhaps. Or maybe just didn’t bring her sharpest, wittiest writing pencil. It was a distraction. 3 of 5 stars.

Book74The Truth Commission, by Susan Juby. (Viking Books, 2015, 309 pages, library ebook). The end-of-the-year paper – or, Truth Commission – submitted by the main character, it tells the story of Normandy and her two besties (a girl and a guy, natch) as the threesome learned that not all truths are created equal. Some Young Adult fiction translates better into the land of Grown-ups Reading, and this wasn’t one. It reminded me of The Perks of Being a Wallflower meets Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. 1 of 5 stars.

Book75Girl in the Dark, by Anna Lyndsey (Doubleday, 2015, 254 pages, library ebook). A memoir of a young woman incredibly allergic to all artificial and natural light, and how she manages to create a semblance of a “normal” life. I just can’t even with the imagining. I loved hearing about what caused setbacks, how Anna created diversions for herself, and especially learning there was a boyfriend (snuck into the narrative a surprising number of chapters in); I didn’t like how detached Anna’s voice sounded. The chapters were incredibly short, so I found it ideal for picking up and putting down, if you’re looking for that sort of book. A really good Little House type book for those who enjoy world-building. And how gorgeous is that cover?! 3 1/2 of 5 stars.

Book76The Boston Girl, by Anna Diament (Scribner, 2014, 320 pages, library ebook). This is an excellent example of how ridiculous I can be. I added Boston Girl to my TBR because I thought the premise sounded good. Obvious statement, right? But then the cover of the book started to bug me. The author’s last name started to bug (for no reason I can understand). The fact that I thought I should like it because it was about Boston even started to bug. I borrowed it from the library…and then avoided reading it. I finally forced myself to read it the second time I borrowed it – and enjoyed a perfectly nice story. Not anything to scream from the rooftops, mind, but a perfectly fine historical fiction that reminded me a lot of the fiction of Sarah Jio, and particularly Ann Hood’s The Obituary Writer. 3 of 5 very mocking (at me) stars.

Book77This Raging Light, by Estelle Laure (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015, 288 pages, library ebook). Young Adult romance or rom-coms are usually a fairly safe bet for me. I enjoy reliving the falling-in-love scenario, even if I have to gloss over middle-of-the-road writing. Sometimes I’m rewarded with fantastic writing that couldn’t score higher marks if Shakespeare had penned it. Other times, well, not even smiling over the bubbly ohmygod there’smycrush! reminiscences can’t quite get me there. And this, the story of two girls abandoned by their flighty mom, as the older falls for her best friend’s twin was just too cliche. 1 of 5 stars.

Book78The Book of Lost Things, by Cynthia Voigt (Alred A. Knopf, 2013, 374 pages, hardcover). This is why I’m participating in Andi’s #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks challenge: I didn’t quite pre-order Voigt’s new book way back in 2013, but I did buy it and tuck it away for the girls for Christmas. Voigt’s Homecoming series is one of my favorites in all the books I’ve ever read, and I wanted to explore what else she’s written and support her new ventures. The girls didn’t vote for the book in any of our read-aloud selections, and it started to gather dust. I haven’t picked it up since. It’s long been forgotten. Until I decided to clear my shelves before I was allowed to buy so much as another page. I wasn’t disappointed by Max and his adventures in Lost Things. It’s not the Tillermans, but if you can let go of that, it’s okay. Max’s parents, theater troupe actors, head off on an adventure, and Max decides to have some of his own. His adventures, in fact, reminded me quite of the Shel Silverstein variety. Voigt was delightfully readable and struck the perfect chord between writing for children and the grown-ups reading to them. All around quite satisfactory. I’m rather embarrassed I waited. 3 of 5 stars.

So there you go! Nothing crazy exciting, but just you wait to see what I have to say next week about Come As You Are! I am busting a gut just thinking about my review!

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One Response to “Mini-Reviews: Wizards,Yunior returns, and a girl from Boston.”

  1. Kim Says:

    Wasn’t Drown a great collection of tidbits to come to after Oscar? I wish more authors would take this approach – get the little bits and moments about characters (you KNOW they have them in their heads) down onto paper. Share with the rest of the world, people!

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