Thursday, June 30, 2016

June Currently . . .

I can’t believe that June is already over. This month was one of the hardest I’ve had in a long time. I was sick, busy, traveling, and generally exhausted for most of it. But, I’m hoping that July will be better. Here’s what I did in June.

I’m currently . . .

Reading: Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn.

Planning: To hike often this summer.

Eating: Everything bad. I totally fell off the healthy-eating wagon, and then Snickers ice cream happened. Multiple times.

Watching: Gordon Ramsay shows. For some reason, it’s entertaining to watch him scream at people. Also, if you’ve never looked up Ramsay memes, they’re hilarious.

Stalking: Read Diverse Books. I’m pretty sure that Naz is a superhero. His blog and Twitter are bringing attention to the need for diversity in the bookish/writing/publishing community. Go check out his blog and the #DiverseBookBloggers hashtag.

Wishing For: My mom’s computer to stop having problems . . .

Goal Setting: Find balance. I’m a very driven person. If I want something, nothing will stop me. This isn’t always good for my health or sanity.

Blogging: I finally caught up on book reviews, and now I’m trying to get ahead on other posts. I don’t like writing a post the night before it goes up. I can’t handle that kind of pressure.

Learning: This middlegrade book taught me a whole lot about jellyfish. I’m a little bit scared of them now. They are pretty interesting, though . . . in a painful, deadly way.

What did you do in June?

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Review: The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin

The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin

For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town's idyllic facade lies a terrible secret—a  secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same.

Review: I cheated. I was a horrible bookworm and saw the movie years before reading the book. In my defense, it wasn’t totally my fault. I took this awful film class in college, and the only good memory I have from it is watching the 1975 Stepford Wives movie. I absolutely loved the movie and can’t believe that it has taken me this long to read the novella. Maybe I was so traumatized by the arrogant professor that I developed a subconscious aversion to all things related to 1970s filmmaking. Or maybe I’m just crazy. I don’t know.

1975 movie poster.

Anyway, I think most people are familiar with the basic plot of The Stepford Wives. Joanna, her husband, and their children are the new family in Stepford. Joanna’s husband quickly makes friends with their male neighbors, but Joanna just can’t connect with the women, no matter how hard she tries. All they care about is housework and their husbands. Joanna starts to suspect that something is wrong in Stepford. The women have no personalities, and the men are secretive about what happens at their “men only” meetings. She starts researching the town’s history and discovers something that puts her life in danger.

“That’s what she was, Joanna felt suddenly. That’s what they all were, all the Stepford wives: actresses in commercials, pleased with detergents and floor wax, with cleansers, shampoos, and deodorants. Pretty actresses, big in the bosom but small in the talent, playing housewives unconvincingly, too nicey-nice to be real.” – The Stepford Wives

The Stepford Wives is more than just a horror story. It’s also a creative social satire and a warning to be careful what you wish for. A lot of people have already discussed what this book has to say about women. You can’t have a thorough discussion of feminist literature without bringing up The Stepford Wives, but this story isn’t just about women. It also satirizes Western society’s male stereotypes.

The men in this book are selfish and sex-obsessed. They want beautiful, submissive wives who only care about cooking, cleaning, raising children, and pleasing their husbands. This fits with Western society’s stereotypes of men, but if you think about it, it’s ridiculous. Do men really want their daughters growing up to be mindless sex slaves? Do they really not care at all about their wives personalities? Would they really trade the woman they fell in love with for something sexy but brainless? Maybe some would, but most wouldn’t. A lot of readers focus on the women in this story, but the novella also shows that our society has some pretty messed-up ideas about men.  

I read The Stepford Wives shortly after reading Ira Levin’s other horror book, Rosemary’s Baby, which is interesting because it’s easy to tell that both books are written by the same person. If you like one book, you’ll probably like the other. They both star women who are manipulated by the men around them. Both women get caught up in bizarrely dangerous situations that they don’t fully understand. The reader is led to question both women’s sanity. The books seem to follow the same outline, but I like The Stepford Wives better. Joanna is much less na├»ve than Rosemary. Her personality never got on my nerves like Rosemary’s did. Joanna knows herself and is confident about her place in the world.

Both books also have the same flaws. Like Rosemary’s Baby, the tension in The Stepford Wives builds so slowly that I had a hard time staying interested in it at first. The author includes a lot of mundane details that add realism but aren’t very exciting to read. Luckily, I knew the ending, and it’s a very short book, so that kept me going. Also, I was trapped in an airport when I read it. That helped, too.

The book must have done something right because it’s become an icon in Western culture. I think it speaks to people’s fears of being transformed into something they’re not. What makes it scarier is that there really are/were ‘Stepford Wives’ in the world.

If you’re interested in feminist literature or classic horror, then I’d recommend adding The Stepford Wives to your reading list. You should also watch the 1975 movie. I know that the movie is good because even an evil professor with a serious stick up her bum couldn’t ruin it for me. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Words That Make Me Buy Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is whatever I want.

People sometimes ask me how I choose which books to read. Well, today I’m going to enlighten you. My book-buying decisions are usually based on the synopsis. If I like the sound of the synopsis, I buy the book. What makes me like a synopsis? It has to intrigue me, and I’ve discovered that there are certain words that are almost always intriguing. So, here are ten words (in no particular order) that will catch my attention if I see them in a synopsis.

Synopsis Words That Make Me Buy Books

1. Dystopian: Dystopian books can be pretty formulaic, but the good ones are really good. I’m always on the hunt for dystopias that break the mold and push the boundaries of the genre.

2. Strange: I like stories about unusual people doing unusual things. It’s even better if the book is written in an unusual way. If a story has a unique narrative structure, I need it in my hot little hands.

3. Lyrical/Poetic: I’m a writing snob. I want to reread paragraphs over and over to find out what makes them so perfect. I like fresh language and writing that causes me to see something familiar in a new way.

4. Murder/Death: A little blood splatter never hurt anyone, right? I’m not a fan of detective fiction, but I do like to see everyday people working through a deadly mystery.

5. Apocalypse: The upcoming US presidential election makes me think that we’re closer to the apocalypse than ever. I want to be prepared.

6. Cult: Cults are just flat-out fascinating. Who wouldn’t want to read about them?

7. Modern Classic: This is cheating because it’s two words, but I had to put it on the list. Older classics can be a slog, but I have a deep love for modern classics. I like reading the books that helped shape my culture.

8. Twisted: You’ve probably figured this out by now, but I prefer my books to be a bit dark. I like unpredictable plots and characters who aren’t always upstanding citizens.

9. Remote: A book set in Antarctica? Or on a deserted island? Or on a raft in the middle of the ocean? Yes, please.

10. Award-winning: I try to keep up with the major literature awards and read a few of the finalists from each one.

What are some synopsis words that make you buy books?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: Walk On Earth A Stranger – Rae Carson

Walk On Earth A Stranger – Rae Carson

Lee Westfall has a strong, loving family. She has a home she loves and a loyal steed. She has a best friend—who might want to be something more. 
She also has a secret. 
Lee can sense gold in the world around her. Veins deep in the earth. Small nuggets in a stream. Even gold dust caught underneath a fingernail. She has kept her family safe and able to buy provisions, even through the harshest winters. But what would someone do to control a girl with that kind of power? A person might murder for it. 
When everything Lee holds dear is ripped away, she flees west to California—where gold has just been discovered. Perhaps this will be the one place a magical girl can be herself. If she survives the journey.

Review: I think this is a case of “It’s not you, it’s me.”

When I was a kid/young teen, I went through a multi-year obsession with survival stories. I pretty much only read nonfiction about people (usually historical people) who survived crazy wilderness situations. The California and Yukon gold rushes were probably my second-biggest wilderness passion. Arctic exploration was definitely my deadly-story first love, but I read a lot of gold rush nonfiction. If a book promised that someone was going to die horrifically in the wild, young me was all over it.

So, what does this have to do with Walk on Earth a Stranger? Well, this novel is set in gold-rush-era America and focuses on a teen girl named Leah. She has a secret: She can sense gold. She uses her power to make her family rich. This attracts the attention of some unsavory people. After Leah is forced to flee from her home, she decides to head west with her kind-of-sort-of boyfriend. Gold has recently been discovered in California, and she knows that she’ll be able to find enough of it to make a new life for herself. Her biggest challenge will be surviving the trip from Georgia to California.

“‘Only way to reach the green grass of Oregon or the sweet gold of California is through hell itself.’” –Walk on Earth a Stranger

I didn’t like this book as much as I expected I would. I know that I burned myself out on gold rush stories when I was younger, but I thought that Leah’s gold-sensing magic would add a new twist to a familiar tale. Unfortunately, the magic is barely present in this book. Hundreds of pages go by without it even being mentioned. The book is marketed as fantasy, but it feels a lot more like historical fiction, which would usually be fine with me because I love historical books. My issue is that this book doesn’t bring anything new to the historical fiction genre. I found Leah’s journey to California to be painfully slow and highly predictable. I felt like I spent the entire book waiting for something big to happen, and nothing ever did.

I also wasn’t feeling Leah’s love interest. Jefferson seems to spend most of his time sulking. I understand why he’s unhappy—he’s often near-death and has to deal with racist idiots on top of it—but I started to wonder what Leah sees in him. He doesn’t have a lot going on in the personality department.

There are some elements of the book that I love. Leah is a badass woman. I really like her. She’s loyal and quick-thinking, and nothing is going to stop her from getting to California. She’s confident in her body but not unrealistically beautiful, which is rare for a YA heroine.

“I have a strange life; I know it well. We have a big homestead and not enough working hands, so I’m the girl who hunts and farms and pans for gold because her daddy never had sons. I’m forever weary, my hands roughed and cracked, my skirts worn too thin too soon. The town girls poke fun at me, calling me ‘Plain Lee’ on account of my strong hands and my strong jaw.” – Walk on Earth a Stranger

The book discusses a lot of interesting gender issues. For part of the story, Leah is forced to dress as a boy, “Lee,” because she needs money. The author does an impressive job of showing the differences in the ways that Lee and Leah are treated. Even though they are the same person, Lee gets all of the advantages that society has to offer. Leah is treated like property.

“‘Men can be relentless,’ she agrees, ‘when they think a woman belongs to them.’” - Walk on Earth a Stranger

This book does have some positive aspects, and I was entertained by parts of it, but I probably won’t continue with the series. It just didn’t offer much that I haven’t seen before. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Sunday Post #53

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, and share news.

On The Blog Last Week

On The Blog This Week

  • On Monday I review Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson.
  • On Tuesday I list some words that make me buy books.
  • On Wednesday I review The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin.
  • On Thursday I tell you what I’ve been up to in June.

In My Blogging Life

Things have been a bit quiet on the blogging front lately. Real life has been getting in the way of blogging and reading. (Darn you, real life.) I need to get back in the habit of working on the blog at night instead of eating ice cream and watching the Food Network until I fall asleep.

In My Reading Life

Reading has not really been happening. In the last two weeks, I read three books: Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, and Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn. Right now, I’m reading Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk.

In The Rest Of My Life

Five things that made me happy recently:

  1. I actually wrote some blog posts last week. I’ve been relying on scheduled posts, so it’s been over a month since I’ve written anything other than Sunday Posts.
  2. The dogs got groomed. Now they smell like flowers instead of like hot garbage.
  3. I started using lists on Twitter. I follow back any bookish person who follows me, so my Twitter was insane. It took several hours to set up the lists, but Twitter is so much more pleasant to use now.
  4. I finally admitted to myself that I don’t like watching BookTube videos. I unsubscribed from almost all of the BookTube channels I followed. My YouTube subscription feed is so much more pleasant to use now.
  5. There was a robin nest in the tree outside my bedroom window, and I got to watch the baby birds leave the nest and flap around awkwardly. They were so fluffy!

I hope you had a great week. See you around the blogosphere!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: Reality Boy – A.S. King

Reality Boy – A.S. King

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school. 
Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap . . . and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

Review: Teenager Gerald Faust has always been angry. The biggest source of his rage is his older sister, who gets all of the attention from his parents and whose psychopathic ways are overlooked by them. As a young child, Gerald took out his frustration by “crapping.” Basically, he defecated everywhere: on the kitchen table, in his mother’s shoes, on beds, anyplace that would get him attention. Gerald and his siblings’ behavior was so bad that his parents called in a reality TV show nanny. Gerald “The Crapper” became an overnight celebrity, and twelve years later, he’s still dealing with the fallout.

“Dating isn't good for Gerald Faust because everyone knows his secrets. 
And everyone has psychoanalyzed him. 
And everyone knows what his problem is. 
And everyone knows he has baggage. 
And everyone thinks they know how to help him. 
Because everyone believes what they see on TV. 
Because no one has realized yet that it's all full of shit.” - Reality Boy

Reality Boy is a uniquely modern book. In the history of the media, reality TV is a recent development. Many families have put themselves on television without knowing the long-term effects that it would have on their children. Even after the show is over, those children’s mistakes will live on forever through the magic of the Internet. Reality Boy is a fascinating book because it examines problems that we are just beginning to understand.

For all of those people who’ve been telling me to read an A.S. King novel, you were right, I liked her writing style. The writing in this book is an entertaining blend of humor, weirdness, and realism. The teenagers actually speak like teenagers. The story is full of swear words and insecure people who rarely say everything they want to say.

My favorite parts of this book are the flashbacks to the time that Gerald’s family spent making the TV program. Those scenes are hilarious and devastating. I love that the author shows the “reality” of reality TV. Gerald’s family calls the nanny program because they desperately need help, but the TV crew manipulates and uses them. They only care about creating entertaining television.

“Maybe most other people are messed up, too. It just wasn't aired on TV.” – Reality Boy

I actually think I would have liked this book more if I had read it when I was a teenager. As an adult, I had a hard time connecting to Gerald and his “My life is the worst thing ever” attitude. He does have a sucky home life, but he brings a lot of misery on himself by obsessing over it. I think I would have liked this book more if I was a teenager because I thought I had a horrible life when I was Gerald’s age. His angst probably wouldn’t have bothered teenage-me at all.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the romance. After I finished the book, the only thing I remembered about Hannah (I had to look up her name just now) is that she likes fish. The romance doesn’t offer anything that I haven’t seen in a hundred other YA books.

Reality Boy is an examination of modern culture. It’s about dysfunctional families, narcissism, untreated mental illness, and the media’s manipulation of information. It’s also about forgiveness and learning to take control of your life. It definitely won’t be my last A.S. King book.  

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Discussion: I’m A Series Hater

Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight host the 2016 Discussion Challenge.

Whenever I’m looking at the New Releases lists on Goodreads, I find myself scrolling past any book that’s part of a series. I never stop to read the synopsis, no matter how intriguing the title and cover are. If I come across an interesting book on a blog, it’ll automatically go in the “No” pile if it’s part of a series.

That's right. I’m a series hater.

I don’t like book series. Even as a kid, I didn’t like them. (Well, except Harry Potter, but those books seem to be the exception to every rule.) Before you come after me with torches and pitchforks, let me explain my reasons for avoiding series:

I don’t have a series-length attention span. I usually get bored with reading about the same characters, problems, and worlds. 
The books take too long to come out. If I’m going to read a series, I usually wait years for all of the books to be released, then I buy a boxset and marathon it. If I read the books as they come out, I usually forget important details while I’m waiting for the next book. I always feel like I have to reread the old books before reading the new one. I don’t have a lot of time for rereading.

“Bridge books” and “middle book syndrome.” Series often start and end strongly, but the middle books are kind of “Meh.” They’re just a bridge between the beginning and the end. I’d rather spend my time reading a strong standalone than a so-so middle book. 
Disappointing finales. If I spend a ton of time reading a series, I will have huge expectations for the finale. I’m often disappointed. Series have so many plot threads that it can be difficult for an author to wrap them all up. Also, some authors are so desperate to give all of their characters a happily ever after that the finale falls flat. 
My TBR is already too big. I have so many books that I need to read. My TBR will be out of control if I start adding whole series to it. 
Some authors don’t know when to quit. Some series don’t have a finale. The author just keeps going until the series is huge. If the books decline in quality, it can impact my feelings about the beginning of the series. 
It’s hard to review a series without spoilers. This is a petty reason for not reading something, but I like writing book reviews. It’s very difficult to review books #2+ in a series without spoiling earlier books in the series.

Even though I have a lot of reasons for disliking series, I’ve recently been reconsidering my series-hating ways. This year, I marathoned Neal Shusterman’s Unwind books and had a lot of fun reading them. I liked the sense of anticipation that the series created. I looked forward to reading those books more than I looked forward to reading all of the standalones on my TBR shelf. I also read the series a lot faster than I’d read a standalone because I was invested in the characters and the world.

Over the past few years, I’ve enjoyed two other books that were book #1 in a series. I didn’t know that they were part of a series when I started them, but now that I know, I’m interested to see what happens to the characters next. There’s something comforting about being back in a bookish universe that I know I like.

All of this reconsidering has made me wonder if there are awesome series that I’m missing out on. I’ve looked on Goodreads, but there are so many series that I don’t know where to start.

So, I’m asking for your help. What are your favorite series?

Let’s discuss: Are you a series lover or a series hater? What do you love or hate about reading a series?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review: The Lover – Marguerite Duras

The Lover – Marguerite Duras

Set in the prewar Indochina of Marguerite Duras’s childhood, this is the haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover. In spare yet luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France’s colonial empire, and its representation in the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts.

Review: This is a review of the English translation of a French novel.

Sometimes, it can be good when school forces me to read a book. College and grad school have helped me discover many amazing stories that I never would have picked up on my own. Other times, (okay, most times) forced school reads are awful slogs that I wish I’d never laid eyes on. For me, The Lover is closer to the second category than the first. I didn’t hate it, but it’s not my kind of book.

The Lover is a semi-autobiographical novel set in French Indochina. The narrator, a young French girl who is based on the author, has a terrible home life. Her father is dead, her mother struggles with a serious mental illness, and her older brother is a tyrant with a gambling addiction. One day, the teenage narrator meets a wealthy Chinese businessman. They are both intrigued by each other and quickly begin a sexual relationship. Their sexual encounters are illegal (because of her age) and socially unacceptable (because they are different races and classes). The affair grows into something that will haunt both of them for the rest of their lives.

“Suddenly, all at once, she knows, knows that he doesn't understand her, that he never will, that he lacks the power to understand such perverseness. And that he can never move fast enough to catch her.” - The Lover

I’m a book structure junkie. I love books with intricate structures that make me work to figure them out. This novel definitely has a challenging structure. I had to read the whole book twice before I felt like I fully understood it. The narrator is an old woman who is looking back at her childhood, so the timeline jumps unexpectedly between the past and present. There are a lot of plot tangents and random details. Most of the characters are unnamed, events are alluded to but not explained, and the narrator often talks about herself in third person. I read the book once to sort out the structure and once to understand the story. If you want to read this one, be prepared to work a little.

I actually really like the structure. It makes the novel feel like a diary, or like the reader is delving in and out of an old woman’s fragmented memories. The writing style is too ornate and repetitive for my tastes, but there is some beautiful description. I especially like how the narrator talks about herself:

“It has been my face. It's got older still, of course, but less, comparatively, than it would otherwise have done. It's scored with deep, dry wrinkles, the skin is cracked. But my face hasn't collapsed, as some with fine features have done. It's kept the same contours, but its substance has been laid waste. I have a face laid waste.” - The Lover
“I know it's not clothes that make women beautiful or otherwise, nor beauty care, nor expensive creams, nor the distinction of costliness of their finery. I know the problem lies elsewhere. I don't know where. I only know it isn't where women think.” - The Lover

My biggest issue with this book is that the story didn’t hold my attention. This novel is tiny (about 130 pages), and there is a lot going on. There’s political unrest in Indochina, the narrator has severe family issues, she’s  involved in a forbidden affair, she’s discovering her sexuality, and she may (possibly?) have a crush on a female classmate. That’s a lot to cram into 130 pages. The author didn’t get deep enough into any of these issues to hook me. I never grew to care about the narrator or her problems. Everything seems very detached and surface-level, which is probably what the author intended, but it led to me getting bored. Quickly.

I can appreciate this book, and I think I know what other people love about it, but it didn’t quite work for me. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Review: Stuck In Neutral – Terry Trueman

Stuck In Neutral – Terry Trueman

Shawn McDaniel is an enigma and a miracle—except no one knows it, least of all his father. His life is not what it may seem to anyone looking at him. Not even those who love him best have any idea what he is truly like. In this extraordinary and powerful first novel, the reader learns to look beyond the obvious and finds a character whose spirit is rich beyond imagining and whose story is unforgettable.

Review: I didn’t know that this book was so controversial until I Googled it. People actually believe that this novel is proof that the author wants to murder his disabled son. I’m sorry, but that seems idiotic. If authors were as twisted as their characters, Stephen King would have been in prison 30 years ago. Books can’t be written in a vacuum. All authors are inspired by real life. Just because there are similarities between this book and the author’s life doesn’t mean that somebody’s going to get murdered. Be reasonable, people.

Okay. Stuck in Neutral is the story of fourteen-year-old Shawn, a boy with cerebral palsy. Shawn has no control over his body. He can’t move or speak. Since he has no way to communicate, he’s trapped inside his own head. Shawn’s father worries that Shawn’s condition is causing him pain that he’s unable to express. As Shawn’s father becomes more obsessed with his son’s possible pain, Shawn starts to wonder if his father is planning on killing him.

The summary makes this book sound intense—and it is—but it’s also surprisingly hilarious. The novel is written in first-person, so the reader gets to hear all of the thoughts that Shawn is unable to say. He’s very blunt about his situation:

“There is one final bad-news punch line to my life. This bad news is complicated, difficult to explain. In a nutshell, it’s that I am pretty sure that my dad is planning to kill me. The good news is that he’d be doing this out of his love for me. The bad news is that whatever the wonderfulness of his motives, I’ll be dead.” – Stuck in Neutral

Shawn’s life is not completely miserable. He acknowledges that his medical problem has some benefits. For example, he gets to see his sister’s friends change clothes at a sleepover because they don’t think he can understand what’s going on. Additionally, his seizures cause a dreamlike, floating feeling that makes him calm and happy. He’s taught himself to enjoy the little things in life.

“Think about it: Why should we care whether what makes us happy is just an electrical impulse in our brain or something funny that we see some fool do on TV? Does it matter what makes you smile? Wouldn't you rather be happy for no reason than unhappy for good reasons?” - Stuck in Neutral

Shawn’s sense of humor and positive attitude help tone down the intensity of the book. I actually had a lot of fun reading it.

My only big criticism is that this novel is very short. My copy is only about 115 pages. I think it could have benefited from being longer. Shawn doesn’t have an action-packed existence, but I wondered about the other people in his life. Shawn’s mother is his full-time caregiver, but we barely see her. He has a brother and sister who we don’t learn much about.

I also had mixed feelings about Shawn’s acceptance of his father’s (possible) murder plan. Realistically, Shawn has no choice but to accept it. He can’t communicate, and he can’t fight. If his father decides to murder him, he’s going to die, but I think that Shawn’s suspicion of the murder plot should have caused more angst.

Stuck in Neutral was first published in 2001 and was a major influence in the teen “problem novel” genre. It won awards and got a lot of people talking. It’s a brave and thought-provoking book. It confronts taboo subjects that make some readers uncomfortable, such as euthanasia and the rights of severely disabled children and their parents. Even though these topics are unpleasant to discuss, they’re important.

This book made me think about how able-bodied people project their feelings onto the severely disabled. I don’t know any severely disabled people in real life, so I’ve never thought about this before. Shawn’s father sees Shawn’s seizures and assumes that they’re painful. He assumes that Shawn’s cerebral palsy prevents him from enjoying life. In reality, Shawn isn’t bothered by his seizures, and he has developed a unique way of connecting to the world. This book shows that you can’t make assumptions about a person. Just because someone is disabled doesn’t mean that he/she is suffering.

This is a quick and powerful read with an exceptional protagonist. I need to find more books like this one.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Sunday Post #52 – I’m Back!

The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, and share news.

If you haven’t heard already, I’m home from my hiatus and slowly getting back to my regular blogging schedule. If you’d like to know a little bit about what I did on my hiatus (plus see a picture of 16lbs of paper), check out my May Wrap-Up.

On The Blog This Week

  • On Monday I review Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman.
  • On Wednesday I’ll try to get another review up. I’m hugely behind on writing them.
  • On Thursday I discuss my series-hating ways.

In My Blogging Life

I haven’t been replying to comments lately. Sorry about that. I’ve been stupidly busy with real life. In other news, my computer updated itself to Windows 10, and now the sidebars of some blogs are all jiggly. Does anyone know why this is happening? It’s hard to click things when they don’t stay still.

In My Reading Life

Basically, I haven’t been reading. (Lol, I’m starting to sound like the lamest book blogger ever.) The last book I finished was The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin. Right now, I’m slowly reading Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson.

In The Rest Of My Life

Five things that made me happy recently:

  1. I’m home.
  2. Even though I’m swamped with school stuff, it’s going well (I think . . . I hope).
  3. Ice cream.
  4. I’m graduating at my next school residency (in November).
  5. I really like the mentor I’m working with this semester.

I hope you had a great week! See you around the blogosphere!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

May Wrap-Up

May Overview

I’m home! If you’ve been wondering why you haven’t seen me around lately, it’s because I’ve been in Kentucky at my grad school residency for the past two weeks. This was my second-to-last residency, and it was definitely the toughest one I’ve done so far. I led a discussion about post-postmodernist short fiction, which was nerve-wracking, but I think it went well. Then I participated in a full book workshop. This workshop was intense. I had to read, edit, and remember everything in this giant stack of paper. The paper stack weighed 16 pounds. I put it on the scale before I stuffed it in my carry-on suitcase.

Basically, May was crazy. I’m so exhausted that I’m going cross-eyed as I type this wrap-up. I also have a weird post-residency depression thing going on because residencies always make me realize how much work I have to do and how little time I have to do it. So, I’m slowly easing my way back in to blogging.

Books I Read

In addition to the paper mountain above, I read 9 books.

The Boy Who Dared – Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Stuck in Neutral – Terry Trueman
The Lover – Marguerite Duras
This Side of Providence – Rachel M. Harper
Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir – Michael White
Reality Boy – A.S. King

I also made some progress on my reading challenges. Click here to see how I’m doing.

Best Books Of May

I definitely had some strong opinions about May’s reading. I’m still working on getting reviews posted, but these were my favorites:

1. This Side of Providence – Rachel M. Harper
3. Stuck in Neutral – Terry Trueman

Most-Viewed Reviews

I guess you guys really like reading about this series.

Most-Viewed Non-Reviews

Tentative June TBR

Here are a few of the books I plan on reading in June. Let me know if you’ve read any of them.

Charm & Strange – Stephanie Kuehn
The Thing About Jellyfish – Ali Benjamin
The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin

All The Things

All The Things (AKA my TBR pile) = 31 books.

I’m currently reading The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin.

I hope you had a great May!