The Good Luck of Right Now | Review

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The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

I picked up this book because the cover had a picture of a cat and the description mentioned something about talking to cats. That, and because I really enjoyed Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock (book) and Silver Linings Playlist (movie), also by Matthew Quick. I like how Quick tends to portray characters with mental health issues, and Good Luck was no different. Unfortunately, I had a much harder time getting into this story than the previous two, and I was misled on the cat front.

Bartholomew Neil is a 39-year-old man whose mother has just died from brain cancer, and, as taking care of his mom is all he’s ever known, now he’s a bit lost. After finding a form letter sent by his mother’s favorite actor, Richard Gere, Bartholomew decides to confide in the actor, seeing it as a sign, and writes him a series of letters, which was an interesting format with which to tell the story, and one I enjoyed.

The philosophical messages and theories presented in this novel are thought-provoking and inspiring, and I enjoyed Bartholomew’s attempt to connect with Richard Gere by quoting the Dalai Lama to him. I also liked how he called his crush the “Girlbrarian” and, of course, his friend Max, who can “speak to cats’.

The idea of The Good Luck of Right Now, his mother’s philosophy on life, is that for every bad thing that happens, something good happens to someone else, so to relish the bad things. As someone who tries to see the bright side in everything, I really love that.

untitled-11The characters are eccentric and interesting, and most suffer from some form of mental health issue. Bartholomew, though it never states it outright, seems to reside somewhere on the Autism spectrum, the Girlbrarian went through a traumatic ordeal she’s still processing, Father McNabee is bipolar, and Max is in grief counseling over his dead cat; they’re a band of misfits who find one another when they most need it. I think it is important to raise awareness of mental health issues and I love when authors use it in stories not to make a character quirky or problematic but to highlight it, and Quick does it well.

That being said, they’re almost too much. It’s too much quirk, not enough real.

The problems was that I just didn’t enjoy it all that much. I had a hard time relating to Bartholomew (which was probably intentional, as he is most likely on the Spectrum), and it just wasn’t that captivating. It didn’t help that I started this book on audiobook, and the person reading it was very slow and made Bartholomew sound very slow (mentally) as well, and I had a hard time listening to him without getting distracted. I even tried speeding it up, but that just sounded weird. I switched over to ebook about halfway through, and found the pace much faster, but still didn’t love reading it.

Coraline | Review

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Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Another great fantasy by Neil Gaiman!

Coraline is about a young girl who finds a pathway to another version of her house, where her Other-Mother is mean and manipulative, and wants nothing more than to keep Coraline with her forever, going so far as kidnapping her real parents. Coraline must save her parents and escape back to her world or be stuck with her Other Parents in this distorted world forever.

coraline-movie-image-01What I loved most about this book was Coraline herself, and the message at the heart of the story: bravery is not the lack of fear, it’s being afraid of something, but still doing it anyway. I think that’s a really beautiful outlook and interpretation of bravery, and as a Gryffindor, I took it straight to heart.

Coraline is an adventurer, she’s imaginative, and very much how I pictured myself when I was younger.

It’s a quick read, but magical and scary and beautiful all at once. There are talking cats and mice that do circus tricks, passageways through worlds and evil people with buttons instead of eyes. It’s creepy and dark and delightful for all ages.

Lola and the Boy Next Door | Review

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Lola and the Boy Next Door (Anna and the French Kiss #2) by Stephanie Perkins

When I’m in a reading slump, contemporaries are my go-to because they are light, fast, and easy reads. Lola fits that bill perfectly.

Lola is a high school junior who dreams of becoming a fashion designer, and for her New Year’s Resolution, resolved to not repeat an outfit throughout the course of the year. She wears wigs, thrift shop finds she transforms into something new, and isn’t afraid to be herself. Her boyfriend, Max, is the lead singer of a decently successful local band, and his mysteriousness and bad-boy vibes intoxicate her. But then there’s her old next-door neighbor, who just moved back to town.

Cricket is tall, skinny, and dresses well, and he and Lola had an almost fling a few years ago that didn’t end well. Who will Lola choose? Her current boyfriend or her first major crush?

B-T-Dubs, Cricket Bell totally reminded me of a guy I almost dated the summer after freshman year of college, who I’d completely forgotten about until I read the description of Cricket… kind of a throwback moment, and odd since Lola’s situation with Cricket was very similar to my own with my Cricket-lookalike. Weird. If nothing else, this Stephanie Perkins trio does a great job at relating hardcore to my life. Like, eerily so. DID YOU READ MY DIARIES/MIND, STEPHANIE PERKINS?

Lola is a typical YA love triangle where the quirky female protagonist is stuck between the bad boy and the boy next door, and she can’t figure out her true feelings.

Yawn.

lola_nolan_by_candy8496-d7kxzo5It’s easily predictable, it relies heavily on tropes, but it was an enjoyable read. I like Lola and her unique fashion sense, though the “everyone is super special and gifted” thing was kind of annoying. Not everyone is a prodigy. Especially at 17. And from the same street. It’s not realistic.

I thought Lola’s “who am I really” could have been explored more, but the fact that Lola has two gay dads is amazing, even if I got tired of her “my mom is homeless and I’m ashamed!” schtick.

My favorite thing was the crossover with Anna and the French Kiss, as Anna and St. Claire were some of my favorites, and it was nice to see them again, if only in the background. I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up without that, if I’m honest, though I’m glad I did.

Lies of Locke Lamora | Review

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The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard #1) by Scott Lynch

Locke Lamora, the head of a gang of thieves calling themselves the Gentleman Bastards, is one of the most gifted con artists the city of Camorr has ever seen – if not the very best. Channeling his inner Robin Hood, Lamora only steals from the rich, and his band of Oliver Twist orphans become his family at an early age. When a dark force starts following him and threatening everything and everyone he knows, however, his life of elaborate schemes becomes a quest to stay alive.

Lynch has painted an incredible world with a rich backstory and culture, shown to the reader through side chapters and Lamora’s playing characters from a variety of places. Camorr itself is a city built on water, with dangerous canals and sharks making rickety dwellings all the worse. I loved the way magic and alchemy were used for the fantastical aspect, but they weren’t accessible by anyone, and those who possessed magic weren’t your nice Hogwarts students.

The structure is a split narrative, with chapters alternating from the present to the story of Locke as a young boy and how he got involved with the Gentleman Bastards. As the novel reaches its apex, the flashbacks turn into brief history lessons served to help the reader better understand the actions and consequences of the coming events. These flashbacks helped further flesh out the character of Locke, but also of his fellow Bastards and those relationships. While not everything is answered, (how did Locke come to meet Bug? What happened to Sabetha?), I can only guess some of these answers might come to light in future books in the series.

1186011The plot is mysterious, interweaving, and, especially at the end, fast-paced, especially for a 700+ page book. There are so many layers that Lynch does a wonderful job interweaving, and I do love a good twisting plot that keeps me guessing. While the climax was slightly predictable, I still felt the rush of angst over whether or not Locke would save the day, and I appreciated that it wasn’t all too easy for him in his attempt. Lynch isn’t afraid to kill some of your favorite characters, and won’t make it easy for them to escape peril.

And oh, the characters. How I love them. Some of my favorite characters are the ones who are clever and sassy, and Locke fits the bill. I couldn’t wait to read about/figure out how he’d escape each situation, but I also loved his love and compassion for his friends and his pride in his work. I love Jean like a big giant teddy bear, even though he’s nothing of the sort. And I want to take Bug into a big hug.

I wish there were more women; towards the end those included start to play a bigger part, but, again, where was Sabetha? I could do with a strong woman, though did appreciate those that were there, and that they all weren’t just used as flower pieces.

It’s long, but it’s captivating, and the only reason I didn’t finish it sooner was because I didn’t have the chunk of time available to do so (and had to start back at work, which drained me mentally for a good two weeks).

Brilliant, complex, and I can’t wait to pick up the next one.

Also, this was a FIRST NOVEL? I’m floored.

Wolf in White Van | Review

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Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

At the age of 17, Sean Phillips has a horrific, disfiguring accident. In an attempt to escape the pain of recovery, he creates Trace Italian, a mail-in role play game where survival means victory but doing so is incredibly challenging.

The story of Sean and his accident, of his creation of this epic dystopian fantasy game, and the lives of those involved, is wonderful.

Sean is difficult to look at and listen to, so he spends his time behind his desk, answering player’s turns and connecting with some of them as the game spans through time. Lance and Carrie are two such players, but their decision to take the game of a savage future America into the the real world, disaster strikes and Sean must question his decisions.

Alec Longstreth.The story unfolds in reverse and in flashbacks, so the novel twists through present day back through various players and ends at Sean’s accident, answering just as many questions as it poses.

The prose is beautiful, the story fresh and interesting, and the characters complex. The story is captivating and mysterious, the emotion is fresh and raw, and I couldn’t stop myself from continuing.

Geek Girl | Review

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Geek Girl by Holly Smale

Harriet Manners is a geek; it says so in bright red letters on her backpack. Her only friends are her best friend, Nat, a wannabe fashion model, and her stalker Toby; the rest of the class, under the threat of Harriet’s nemesis, hates her. When she gets “discovered” at a model scout, despite knowing nothing about fashion and potentially ruining her friendship with Nat, Harriet takes the gig, hoping it will change her life.

Geek Girl is funny, charming, and a cute Cinderella coming-of-age, of learning to embrace yourself, stay true to yourself, and trust in your loved ones. What I appreciated was that Harriet’s makeover steered clear of the typical Cinderella moment, wherein the physical transformation helps everyone, including Cinderella herself, realize what was there all the time; Harriet struggles because she doesn’t feel any different, and those around her don’t look at her any differently just because she got a haircut and a cool job. I also appreciated that Harriet didn’t change who she was, that she put her relationships over her new gig.

The audiobook’s narration was funny, quippy, and really helped to bring all the characters to life. The interpretation of Wilbur was perhaps my favorite.

imagesThe characters, though somewhat stereotypical, were each fun and had their own voice and purpose in the story. Wilbur is hilarious, Harriet’s dad is adorably clueless, her stepmom is driven and the voice of reason, and Toby is just cray, but in a good way. Harriet herself has a lot of internal dilemmas, but she’s a geek in essence, and is always there to point out an obscure fact or feel completely out of her element (much like I would feel in the fashion world).

Is it perfect? Not even close. Is it full of cliches? Buckets. But is it fun and light and ready to put a smile on your face? Absolutely.

I haven’t read The Princess Diaries, but I imagine Geek Girl is a British similarity.

All My Friends are Superheroes | Review

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All My Friends are Superheroes by Andrew Kaufman

What a wonderful, beautiful, heartbreakingly romantic little book.

I don’t want to say too much about this book, because knowing too much about it ahead of time would ruin a first time reading. What I will say is this book is simple and quick (120 pages) and something everyone should read.

In it’s essence, it’s a love story; a perfect, wonderful little love story told in a unique way, which also praises individuality and personality quirks and fighting to hold on to those things which are real.amfas_banner2Don’t be put off by the “S” word in the title if that’s not your thing; it’s moderate and creatively done, and these aren’t your cape-wearing crime fighters.

Like ginger after sushi, this is a really great palate-cleanser, and is silly and quirky and fun, and will fit in between two larger reads with ease.
It’s harder to find in the States, but well worth the scavenge.