This book deserves more than an “express entry.” But time. You know.
This is a totally awesome independently published book. A punk house is its framework, and the residents are its substance. As a reader you spend some time in the shoes of each resident, each similar enough to live together– but still quite different from one another. You will like this book if you like things like: zines, art, DIY, poetry, dirt, sex, and more… It’s really kind of epic.
You should buy a copy.
Welcome to a new mini series: the Express Book Review!
This mini series may also be known as: I read a bunch of books but also got really busy and didn’t have time to give them proper reviews, but also though people should know about them…
The Potential Hazards of Hester Day was nuts. I chose-a-book-by-its-cover on a mad dash on my way to catch a train, and it turned out totally awesome. Our protagonist is bizarre, quirky, and smart– in a relatable, but not always entirely admirable way. The plot and characters are kind of absurd– yet at the same time, they’re not. There is a marriage, public libraries, marriage, accidental-on-purpose child abduction, a first crush/love. All kinds of good stuff.
Omg, omg, omg Keith Knight is totally awesome.
I got into his comics a few years back (let’s be honest, it was more than a few. It was the Bush (#2) era), bought a couple of his books at the Anarchist Book Fair and a library reading, read them and reveled in their awesomeness, and then, naturally, got distracted.
The Complete K Chronicles is a compilation of a few books and weighs in at 510 pages and contains strips from 1993 – 2004. Knight Takes Queen is a single book and was published in 2014. They’re both so good!
Knight has a really exciting and unusual ability to mix politics, potty humor, and pure heart– for example, he’ll be writing about violent racist cops in one panel, and the joy of yummy food in the next. Oh, and you’re laughing for both (even though sometimes it’s an LOL!, and other times it’s a resigned, head-shaking omg he’s so right, ain’t that tragic kind of laugh.
We should totally support rad cartoonists; of course check your library (and check the items out! Shelf-sitters (i.e. books that don’t get checked out) often get weeded when library shelf space is limited! Do your part to keep good stuff in the libraries)– but also buy his books and art! You can most easily do this on his website (which also has more comics!).
There are reviews all over the place for this book. Some are great, some are terrible, some are floundering in the mish-mash in-between. I think that the bad reviewers are making the mistake of believing that Cheryl, our protagonist, is supposed to be as flawless. Really what we need is a review that says: IF YOU’VE APPRECIATED MIRANDA JULY’S WEIRDER WORK BEFORE– AND/OR IF YOU ARE OK WITH (or intrigued by) BEING MADE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR ART’S SAKE– CHECK THIS ONE OUT.
I’m into it. But I also meet both of the conditions above.
Yay! Another queer indie! Leap is pretty good. The year is 1979 and our protagonist Rowan has just finished high school in her small town and is spending her last summer before college working at the local burger joint. There’s lots of stuff going on (as there always is when you’re 18 and on the cusp of life), but the main thing is that there’s a new girl in town and Rowan’s about to get in her first relationship…
The writing is quite good– the 223 pages give you LOTS of information. There are lots of parallel side plots, the character development is good, and certain things are left unexplained in just the right way. I’ll be looking for more from this writer.
I’d never heard of Anne Beattie when I picked this one up off of the bargain rack for $3. To be honest, I thought the picture on the front cover was kind of hot, and I was attracted to the pretension in the description on the back cover. I still really haven’t googled Beattie– though I did look up the Amazon reviews for this title. I only read the bad and mediocre reviews, but it seems like most of them are from readers who are otherwise big fans of her work. How happy I am to have started fresh!
This was a slick little snapshot (112 pages)– a detached but romantic (to a person who had yet to be born in the era she’s writing about) series of events in one of those relationships that takes over everything. The last third gets a little weird, but it’s ok because you’re not really attached to Jane, the protagonist. I got the feeling that I was reading a disguised memoir piece, but didn’t really get around to looking into it. on another hand, I also got the feeling that I was missing something big– like something symbolic or something that I really had to be there (NY in 1980) for.
Find copy at the library
This is the book that everyone was talking about at the beginning of the Summer. It was love-love-loved by lots of mainstream book reviewers, and everyone at the library was rushing to put it on hold because they’d heard it was the ultimate beach read.
It’s perfectly good, but I think I loved it less because it wasn’t as life-changing as all the hype made me think it would be. Plot-wise, it’s a classic slightly humorous, kinda gossipy NYT best seller about a wealthy white family from the east coast that goes on vacation and discovers things about each other and comes of age both as a unit and as individuals. I mean, it’s a solid book, an easy thing to recommend to someone who just wants to chill out and not think too much for a stretch of a few hours. You know how when you read a tabloid the nuances aren’t new but some of the people/places are? Kind of like that.
It’s not gonna change your life, but it will fill a few hours with well-written and nicely paced pleasantness.
I’ve been working with teen boys, and to my immense librarian pleasure, they actually read!
They’re super into urban fiction/ street lit, and general stories about people in intense situations with tough lives who either figure it out or succumb. One of the most commercially successful authors in the street lit genre is Zane, so I decided to check out one of her most popular titles, Addicted.
It’s easy to see why this book is popular. The African American female protagonist is attractive and financially successful from her own company, the writing is often compelling, the subject matter is a little edgy, and there’s lots of hot sex (and aside from 50 Shades, there’s more detail than your average mainstream novel). I read the book voraciously and have no regrets about the time spent. I guess I could have been watching My Drunk Kitchen (which I am presently a little bit obsessed with), but what I’m saying is that this was a fine way to pass the time.
I do, however, take issue with a major part of the book: the causes of the character’s addiction (we’re talking about a sex addiction, btw). I’ll skip over the problematic fact that the protagonist’s set of sexual feelings and actions was labeled an addiction by her therapist, and talk about how this so-called addiction (which seemed more like a sex-negative excuse for some bad behaviors) was allegedly caused by some bad events from her childhood, and how her husband’s sex problem was also caused by his birth mother’s instability and profession. Oh, and then how the end of the book basically degrades into a crude bloodbath in attempt to simultaneously tie up loose ends, solidify the protagonist’s love for her husband, and bring justice to some bad guys.
But I can see why the teens like it. I just wish that each copy of the book could be distributed with a fact sheet. Or that the protagonist’s sexy romp didn’t have to be blunted by the author’s morals.
Fangirl was so worth the 3 month wait at the library. This book is a lovely package: there’s romance and family and relationships and new things and life changes and personal development. You’ll love this book in the park or on the train, on the couch, or in a waiting room (or at least I did)…
Plus, it’s about a twin. The wonderful World of Sweet Valley predisposes me to love anything about twins. Especially twins with different personalities.
Cath’s a twin who writes online fan fiction about a popular Harry Potter-ish book character. She followed her sister to a college a few hours from home, and instead of continuing to be twinny BFF’s, her sister becomes a popular partygirl, and Cath becomes a lonely dorm room fan fic writer who has thousands of fans online but no friends in real life. On top of her sister’s new habit of binge drinking, her dad’s fluctuating mental health, and her MIA mom’s reappearance in the periphery, Cath might sorta be finding her voice, finding herself, and falling in love.
Fangirl is super well-written, and you’ll be sad its world is over when you get to the last page.
Small press gem! It’s the 1980’s. 18 y/o gay goth Matt lives in the ‘burbs near LA with his mom and step dad. Works at May Company. Spends his free time with his gothy girl bff’s getting fucked up, listening to music, buying stuff, going to clubs.
Interesting, upbeat writing, and if you were around in the 80’s– or know a lot about 80’s music (specifically the band Love and Rockets), you’re gonna be pretty jazzed. The writing in general is pretty good– you can tell that it might secretly be a just little bit autobiographical, and that the author might’ve been smirking a little (at himself) as he wrote it. Some of the plot devices kind of bugged me– but now that it’s been a couple weeks I’ve forgiven them. I saw Demcak read at a Radar reading and he’s a delight irl.
Check it out!