Of Things Gone Astray

Mrs Featherby had been having pleasant dreams until she woke to discover the front of her house had vanished overnight.

For a few months, I’ve only read books from my To Read list. It’s satisfying to see the number go down, but now there’s mostly nonfiction and yet unavailable books, I gave myself the freedom of going to the library without a list. Yes, wild, I know (I still managed to find two books of my To Read list, but it’s not about that right now).

Of Things Gone Astray got my attention with its cover, and the description was appealing enough for me to ignore it being a collection of stories (pro: there have to be at least a few that are nice. con: the nice ones will never last long enough).

Even though it’s a collection of different characters, some of them slowly move into each other’s orbit, making it feel more like a world building from different angles than completely stand-alone stories. I feel like this made me like the story more, making it a bit more eerie than playing connect-the-dots.

Still, it’s not a novel that will stay with me forever, it was different and random enough to be something weird and quirky in my reading. A bit like a pause, maybe.

Of Things Gone Astray, Janina Matthewson, HarperCollins Publishers 2014

Fitness Junkie

“I can’t believe you ordered that.”

This gives you much more to think about than you might expect looking at the cover and summary. All that, and some fun and heart!

Main character Janey is told by her friend and business partner Beau that she’s getting fat and that he can’t have that. Because of their toxic relationship, she just doesn’t laugh in his face, but attempts to change her “fat” body. Probably also because he doesn’t want her in the office until things change; it’s that kind of toxic relationship.

What follows is all kinds of exercise someone with less free time on their hands probably couldn’t come up with. This happening in New York City makes the divide between satire and reality quite thin sometimes.

But the best part is probably how much Janey discovers about herself, her body and how society views it. How she starts to have fun with food, dating and exercise (all is that one based on dodgy ground). Maybe you’ll be motivated to start exercising, but have at least your take away from this novel be that it’s your body and your decisions.

Fitness Junkie, Lucy Sykes & Jo Piazza, Doubleday 2017

It’s a readathon!

I had much fun doing this last year, and this time around I don’t have any family visits/events getting in my way!

I’ll be reading:
Salman Rushdie’s The Golden House (probably finish it, as I’m already on page 185/380)
Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys
Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues (a pdf of the ebook can be downloaded for free from her website)

For back up I have the weekend newspaper (I don’t look too strictly at the readathon rules for a reason), plus the seven Express Service books I’ve got on hold (among them Son of a TricksterManhattan BeachYou are a Badass). Pretty sure I have these 24 hours covered. Is it weird that I’m a little bit nervous about this?

10.30:
I’ve got tea, a book and silent surroundings. Here we go!

12.30: 

“It is a large apartment and to be alone in it feels like being a fly buzzing inside a bell. I hear the echo of myself and it is not a sound I love.”

The Golden House isn’t such a story you long to read, but binds you in such a way that it’s hard to put down. Still, a laundry break.

14.30:
Page 249 and 250 are just a summary of Trump’s actions pre-election and they just baffle me again. Bubbles, indeed. Like mentioned on Twitter I got distracted by the fancy kitchen I’m house-sitting in, so still on The Golden House, just started the final part. It’s becoming …dense. I might have to take a break after finishing it. Hey, I still have to tomorrow 10.30 anyway, right?

15.30: 
I finished the book, and was right about needing a bit of a break, although I think that could definitely because I’ve just been reading for a few hours in a row. It’s funny how right now there’s absolutely no appeal to checking Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the Internet. I like to stay in this the read – the reader bubble. I think I’m lucky that both of the planned following books are very different (subject wise) from The Golden House, but I don’t know which I feel like right now.

19.30: 

What mattered was that it was the kind of fight that’s so painful it takes the top layer of skin off your heart.

For such a heavy subject (the abuse of the LGQBT community in the past century), Stone Butch Blues is a very quick read. Or maybe just enticing, or both. I’m 145/347 pages in.

22.30: 
And the first twelve hours are gone. I have six chapters left, the endless abuse, pain and emotional distress of Stone Butch Blues is slowing me down a bit. If I’m honest, I also got distracted by two episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Tomorrow is a new day!

09.00: 
I woke at eight, finished Stone Butch Blues just now. How can one person go through so many things and still survive, but also, possibly — still live? It might not have been the most positive start of the day, but I’m glad I read it. Just no clue yet how I’ll review it.

10.30: 
And here we are again. Maybe reading twelve to eighteen hours (I like sleep) in one go is too much, but the thing I like most about these readathons is how you allow yourself to disappear in a book. As mentioned before, that for hours I don’t care about social media and the internet, and try to add my book to whatever thing I have to do (laundry/cooking). I love to read, and with the right book I can easily read several hours in one go. I wish that feeling upon many (casual) readers.

 

 

Young Jane Young

My dear friend Roz Horowitz met her new husband through online dating and Roz is three years older and fifty pounds heavier than I am, and people have said that she is generally not as well preserved, and so I thought I would try it even though I avoid going online too much.

Someone told me that this was “similar to the Monica Lewinsky story, but from Lewinksy’s point of view”. It is, except you don’t just get the victim’s view, but also her mother’s, her daughters, and of the wife of the cheating politician. This little difference took some time adjusting to.

But when you do, you not only get a ‘behind the scenes’ view of the Jewish community (through the mother and grandmother), but also a take-no-prisoners view on how this relationship and its falling outs should have been handled, opposed to how it had been handled.

Also surprising; none of the characters are dealt softening characteristics and/or circumstances to support their motivations. Women make stupid decisions as well, and do or don’t suffer the consequences. Women can hate and despise each other, men (can) stay assholes.

It’s refreshing in a slightly bitter way.

Young Jane Young, Gabrielle Levin, Viking 2017

The Hate U Give

I shouldn’t have come to this party.

This one is probably going to be relevant for a long time coming, and that’s why I’m unsure how to go about this. As one of the blurbs on the back of the book says, everyone should read it, maybe especially if it makes you uncomfortable, but how do I put into words why you should read it?

Maybe because it gives a face to Ferguson, to Black Lives Matter, to Flint and all the other cases in which it’s easy to think of an entity, instead of a collection of individuals. Starr is one of the few black people on a very fancy school, which makes her feel like she’s living two versions of herself. When she witnesses a shooting, it’s harder to keep those two apart.

But it’s not just Starr’s story. It’s her family, her community and the endless attempts of being heard and seen as people, instead of thugs, low-lives, useless. Angie Thomas balances that impressively, and even though there are rough patches to get through, you’ll be so attached to the people you’re reading about, that you just take it.

And again, definitely a book I would have rather seen in my YA Literature class than another white boy story.

The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas, HarperCollins 2017

The Painted Boy

The boy had finally fallen asleep.

I’m pretty sure the last time I read a Charles de Lint novel was before I started this blog, but Widdershins impressed me so much that from time to time I’d still check if I could find more of his in my libraries. The Painted Boy is clearly for younger audiences, providing a more accessible but less eerie, dream like and wonderful story (if those aren’t nostalgia goggles).

The Painted Boy from the title is Jay Li, a teenager that has a large dragon on his back (not tattooed) and is sent off to unfamiliar territory to finish his studies. Jay is part dragon, and will have to do something he won’t know until he’ll experience/see/know it.

Good thing (“”) he ends up in a town held hostage by different kinds of gangs. Of course he has to learn to become one with the dragon and his surroundings, but hey, all this was part of the learning curve, after all.

The magical elements add the necessary spice, else it would have been an oatmeal kind of story: okay for everyone, but nobody’s first pick.

The Painted Boy, Charles De Lint, Viking 2010

The Wedding Date

Alexa Monroe walked into the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco that Thursday night wearing her favorite red heels, feeling jittery from coffee, and carrying a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne in her purse.

Best romance I’ve read this year. And maybe from the previous year as well, but I’d have to look that up.

And why’s that? Because there’s humans involved, from the main characters to the extras. Because reality gets room in what’s becoming a multi-racial relationship with both participants in busy jobs that don’t just disappear when not needed anymore for creating background. But mostly because the chemistry is just enormous and everything in this story is delicious, even the badder/sadder situations.

If you enjoy romances, you’ll like this one. If you want to give the genre a chance; aim high with this one.

The Wedding Date, Jasmine Guillory, Penguin Random House 2018