Blog Post, Book Review, Books, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Monthly Review

Tiny Thoughts on a Bunch of Books

20170404The last book review I posted was for Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, way back in February. Since then, I’ve read “a few” books, but haven’t had time to get my thoughts down about any of them.

This post is going to serve as a very brief, rather frantic “catch-up.”  I want to at least write down reactions to the other books I’ve read so far.  No, these aren’t formal reviews – but something is better than nothing!

So, in order of completion from most distant to most recent:

Half Bad by Sally Green: This is the first book in a planned YA fantasy trilogy by new author Sally Green. I think the premise is interesting and the execution rather good. There is quite a bit in this book which is derivative, owing a lot to other popular YA fantasy series’ on the market; however, that being said, I really enjoyed the story and a lot of what is unique about it. Green builds quite a bit of believable tension into the story, issues between the main character/protagonist and his best friend, his girlfriend, his father, his family etc. I think this is a series worth reading and fans of YA fantasy are likely to enjoy it.

downloadWarlock by Jim Starlin: Adam Warlock is one of my favorite comic book characters and I’m glad to have finally read the complete story in graphic novel form. Some of the more interesting stories (like the Infinity plots) are not present because they are exterior to the original Warlock storyline, but this graphic collection was still fun, dark, and interesting.

Half Wild by Sally Green: This is the second book in Green’s fantasy trilogy and an interesting and improved follow-up to the first in the series. Main characters from the first book reappear and some new ones are introduced. A lot of the tension between the main character and minor ones continues to deepen, and Green takes some very welcome and exciting risks. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series (which, from what I’ve read, will be the conclusion to the trilogy – but you never know with fantasy series’!)

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith: I’m a huge fan of Andrew Smith, and The Alex Crow did not disappoint. This is Smith’s most complex and adult novel to date. It’s not hard to understand the comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut. There have been some criticisms about unnecessary storylines or sub-plots, but I think those critiques are missing the point. The story’s sub-plots work together toward a final conclusion, without one or the other of these storylines, the overall message would not be as profound as it is. Unfortunately, that message seems to be lost on some readers. Still, this book, after Grasshopper Jungle, is resulting in a great deal of critical attention and acclaim for Smith, praise which I think is completely valid.

download (2)Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore: I read this because of Twitter hoopla surrounding gender representations in comic books and the new covers for some classic comics. I’ve never been a big fan of Batman comics (I’ve enjoyed the movies more – and I’m really a Marvel fan, so I haven’t given as much attention to DC stories) but this was a really interesting take on the Joker’s possible backstory. I know there’s a debate as to whether or not the backstory is necessary or helpful – some fans like that the Joker is just innately evil, while others appreciated the fact that perhaps some event triggered that descent into madness. I can understand both points of view – for what it is, I enjoyed this story.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1 by Willow G. Wilson: I think this is an incredibly powerful and long-overdue take on female power in comics. The new Ms. Marvel is young and fierce, filled with good intentions but also prone to mistakes. Volume 1 introduces us to her character, her friends, and her family, all of which adds great complexity and detail to her personality and the possibilities/pitfalls that might be ahead of her. Super cool.

download (1)A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin: I’m so glad I finally read this book, and I’m eager to get on with the series. While I don’t think that Martin is quite the writer or world-builder as, say, Tolkien, his take on fantasy is still refreshing and unique. As Martin has explained, his goal was to place fantasy elements in a realistic medieval environment, and in that I think he is succeeding. The story is dark, dangerous, and rarely redeeming or uplifting, but the times (from a historical perspective) were equally difficult. As a fan of the television show (until this season, where I’m finding much to complain about) I think it’s incredible how closely the show was adapted from the book – but those who have only watched the show are missing some important things, even simple things like the characters’ ages make a big difference in understanding and appreciating what’s happening.

Saga, Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughan: I finally took the plunge and started this series. Everybody talks about it, and now I know why. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a comic so much since Blankets (which, admittedly, is completely different and not actually a comic – it’s a long graphic novel). Anyway, Saga is narrated from the future by the protagonist who is, in the first comics, just a newborn baby. We learn about her parents and their worlds & the war they’re engaged in. The comic is rated “M” for good reason – I wasn’t expecting some of the graphic sexual situations and violence, but the great thing is that it’s not at all gratuitous, it’s just a part of the world. I’ve got Volume 2 sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, and I haven’t been so anxious to get to a read, especially a comic, in a very long time! Loving it!

Also read but not reviewed:

download (3)The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan (4 out of 5, Read May 2014)

Bertram Cope’s Year by Henry Blake Fuller (5 out of 5, Read June 2014)

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (3 out of 5, Read June 2014)

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (4 out of 5, Read June 2014)

The Dog Star by Donald Windham (3 out of 5, Read June 2014)

Messenger by Lois Lowry (4 out of 5, Read June 2014)

The Madness of Lady Bright by Lanford Wilson (4 out of 5, Read July 2014)

Son by Lois Lowry (3 out of 5, Read July 2014)

download (4)The Boys in the Band by Mart Crowley (3 out of 5, Read July 2014)

Totempole by Sanford Friedman (5 out of 5, Read July 2014)

The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren (4 out of 5, Read July 2014)

The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer (5 out of 5, Read July 2014)

Lemon Sky by Lanford Wilson (4 out of 5, Read July 2014)

Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris (2 out of 5, Read July 2014)

Letters to Montgomery Clift by Noel Alumit (5 out of 5, Read July 2014)

Sons of the Prophet by Stephen Karam (3 out of 5, Read August 2014)

51Be-zEhd7L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (4 out of 5, Read December 2014)

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee (3 out of 5, Read December 2014)

Halfway Home by Paul Monette (4 out of 5, Read December 2014)

Revival by Stephen King (4 out of 5, Read December 2014)

Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers by Steve Berman (3 out of 5, Read January 2015)

2015 TBR Pile Challenge, Classics, Drama, Feminism, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Monthly Review, Play, Susan Glaspell

Thoughts: Trifles (1916) by Susan Glaspell

9780874406382Susan Glaspell’s Trifles (1916) is a one-act play that would ultimately inspire another of her works, a short story called “A Jury of Her Peers.” The story is loosely based on an actual event, the murder of John Hossack, which Glaspell reported on while working as a journalist in Des Moines, Iowa. Hossack’s wife was accused of killing her husband, but the wife denied it. Although she was convicted, that conviction was eventually appealed and overturned.

Glaspell is an essential early feminist writer, one who was directly influenced by the likes of Kate Chopin and Fanny Fern; alas, she is often overlooked in feminist literary studies. For those unfamiliar with Glaspell, this short one-act play (my copy was only 26 pages) is a great place to start. The play is funny but poignant. It is a brief, direct example of Glaspell’s primary concerns – the inequalities between women and men, and the culture’s preoccupation with gender roles (stereotypes). It is ultimately a harsh exposé on the patriarchy’s oppressive control over women’s lives.

As its title suggests, the “trifles” of this play are “women concerns,” which men look at as relatively nothing in comparison to “real” (that is male) problems. Glaspell’s approach, however, which sets-up two distinct narrative points of view, one female and one male, creates an interesting and often comic tension between the main characters – the men and their wives. The house which serves as the play’s setting functions as both a crime scene but also as a home, and the characters, depending on their sex and their “purpose” or “role,” will view the house as one or the other of these things (the men treat it as merely a crime scene, the women cannot detach the house from its function as the home of their friend and neighbor who has been accused of murder).

51aea1cdd79ba.preview-620What is most interesting about this play is how much of a wallop it really packs. It is deceptively simple, not just because it is short, but the language, scenery, dialogue, stage direction – everything about the play is designed to be easy. Everything, that is, except for its subject matter. A reader (or audience member) could easily lose herself in the comedy of the situation, in the banter between husbands and wives, or in the knowing looks passed between the ladies, but the reality of the play, the feminist charges being raised and the dark, despondent yet somehow liberating mood created by the plight of the play’s absent Mrs. Wright (pun intended?) creates a rich paradox impossible to ignore.

The final moral crisis, which the women must face together and alone, reveals much about the meaning of justice and the role of women in seeking or fulfilling that justice. Although it is the men who “own” the law (quite literally, as the two male characters represent the police force and the county law offices), it is the women who will determine Mrs. Wright’s fate.

Notable Quotes:

“I didn’t know as what his wife wanted made much difference to John.”

“Women are used to worrying over trifles.”

“She used to wear pretty clothes and be lively, when she was Minnie Foster, one of the town girls singing in the choir. But that–oh, that was thirty years ago.”

“I know how things can be–for women. I tell you, it’s queer . . . we live close together and we live far apart. We all go through the same things–it’s all just a different kind of the same thing.”

E.J. Runyon, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Monthly Review

Special Interview with Author E.J. Runyon!

tumblr_nbzwmpaDri1tfrr3qo1_400Hello, Readers!

Today I have a special treat for everyone. In 2013, I received for review a book called Claiming One. It is a short story collection by then newly-published author, E.J. Runyon. I enjoyed that collection so much, in fact it was one of my favorite reads of the year.

Well, I’m thrilled to say that E.J. Runyon is back, this time with her first novel! The early reviews for A House of Light and Stone are outstanding. I was so excited about the prospect of a new book from E.J. Runyon that I reached out to the publisher to see if there was any way that I could be involved. To my delight, they (and E.J. herself) responded in the positive – so I am able to bring you today this special Q & A with Ms. Runyon!

I hope you enjoy the interview, and I hope you’ll enjoy the works of this talented author as much as I have!


Thanks for having me here, Adam. It’s lovely to have the support of someone I like following.

E.J., tell us about your new novel?

This one is a Literary Fiction effort; I hope it continues to go over well. It’s set in 1967, East L. A. and follows Duffy and her family. True lives, the hard truths, shown in a mixture of small, daily cheer and that one step forward, one step back dynamic. It’s about the strangeness of being genuine to ourselves. Both Duffy and her mother fall in love with females. For Duffy it’s a calm, new part of her growing-up. For her mother, Rennie, love takes a different shape. And though all this year, they both progress into a new understanding of self and place in the world they’re confronted with.

How does it feel to have a debut novel under your belt?

Oh, I think I’m dealing well with it. (chuckle) I spent a long time with the idea that the slow and patient application of ‘you’ve got to make this better’ may have given me something I can honesty say shines. A few places touched me deeply, and I wrote it. It’s gotten reviews that echo that, too. And that helps the strangeness of being a published author of something larger than short stories. You know I try for depth and poetry in what I write. So for my ‘first’ I think I earned the way I feel reading reviews. Strange, but still—joy.

Anything you’re very proud about with this work?

One reader’s said that they ‘… feel this book is a great example of literary fiction, using the term in the most flattering possible way’ That makes me proud, very proud. And one reviewer wrote up a very nice online review that just detailed exactly what I had tried for the book to be to readers. So seeing it all laid out in a considered and eloquent review was so proud-making, I was smiling for most of that week, walking around with that, “They like it!”, grin on your face.

Why’d you decide not to go genre, like so many writers these days?

I think there’s the need for this type of Literary Fiction works as well as genre works in today’s markets. I feel it’s a valid goal now, for authors to write as we see the world, and not only for what some powers that be tell us the market will sell. You can see that in the rise of the Indy publishing marvel. More writers are willing to write exactly what they feel is worthy of their talents. And for me that’s Literary Fiction.

What’s up next?

I want to continue being an author who ‘goes there’ in my work. An interview recently in The Rumpus, with Wendy C Ortiz, put it as, “discussing subjects we have long discarded as unspeakable.” That what’s next: more of the unspeakable that lies in the hearts and souls of all my other characters.


More About the Book:

Giving a voice to the silent. A House of Light and Stone is the first full-length novel from writer E. J. Runyon, which follows the daily struggles of an abused young girl as she takes her first tentative steps into growing up. Secrets and lies abound in the backstreets of late-sixties Los Angeles, and coming of age here is no mean feat. For Duffy, whose talent and creativity far exceed her years, growing up is about making immutable choices and learning one simple lesson: that understanding oneself is absolutely everything. In charting Duffy’s quest, Runyon illuminates the dark corners, shedding credible light on a subject that could easily slip into the realms of melodrama. The result is something believable and profound; a true testament to the strength of the human spirit.

No light read. Powerful, dark and uplifting… Three words that capture the essence of Runyon’s deeply moving

More About the Author:

downloadE.J. Runyon lives in the US Southwest. Since 2002 she’s found herself moving on to smaller and smaller desert towns, while working to become the author and writing coach she planned to be. First, she quit working in software and sold her home to finance her degree in Creative Writing and her Grad-work in Online Teaching and Learning. She’s never looked back since. Now, her life revolves around her own writing and Bridge to Story – an online creativity coaching business that she runs– and you know, being a better person day to day. E.J.’s passion is focused on writing fine prose and on getting folks writing, her aim is coaching them in writing well. She participates yearly in National Novel Writing Month – an event she’s been involved in since 2001. Her first collection of short stories, Claiming One was published by Inspired Quill in 2012, which was followed in 2013 by Tell Me How to Write a Story, a guide for writers new and old alike.



Twitter: @EJRunyon


Blog Post, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, Monthly Review, Year In Review

2014 End of the Year Book Survey

inde3xWelcome to my Big Book Survey for 2014!

Number Of Books You Read: 82 (goal of 60)
Number of Re-Reads: 2 (The Giver & The Canterbury Tales)
Genre You Read Most: LGBT/Criticism/History

Best Book You Read In 2014?

Better Angel by Forman Brown; Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf; Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram; The Book Thief by Markus Zusak….. so many.

Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee

Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

Life Studies by Robert Lowell – Incredible collection of poetry. I’m not a poetry person, but this was stunning.

Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Ulysses by James Joyce (because I hosted a read-along for it).

Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry, The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan, and The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Andre Aciman, David Leavitt, and A.S. King

Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (original Middle English)

Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

 The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

 Better Angel by Forman Brown

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?









Most memorable character of 2014?

Beloved from Beloved by Toni Morrison or Leopold Bloom from Ulysses by James Joyce.

Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

 The Hours by Michael Cunningham

Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

This is Water by David Foster Wallace

Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

The Stand by Stephen King

Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.” –David Foster Wallace (This is Water)

Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest: He Cried: Poems and Stories by Dennis Cooper (32 pages)

Longest: The Stand by Stephen King (1,153 pages)

Book That Shocked You The Most

Totempole by Sanford Friedman. It’s a gay coming-of-age story published (barely) in 1965. Incredible depth, roundedness, and honesty for such a “subversive” work in such an uptight time.

OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Kurt and David from Better Angel. Beautiful.

Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Finn and Cade in 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Eminent Outlaws by Christopher Bram or Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Or The Stand by Stephen King (lots of repeat authors, clearly!)

Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (and it was good!)

Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Maybe Billy Sive from The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren?

Best 2014 debut you read?

I don’t think I read any 2014 debuts…

Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Stand by Stephen King or Beloved by Toni Morrison. Also, Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote and The Dog Star by Donald Windham

Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

If This Isn’t Nice, What Is? By Kurt Vonnegut

Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Life Studies by Robert Lowell and Better Angel by Forman Brown

Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and The Normal Heart by Larry Kramer.

Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee or Ulysses by James Joyce

Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

An Intelligent Person’s Guide to Philosophy by Roger Scruton – This book was no guide. It was biased, bigoted, ideological, and patronizing. Such a waste of time.

New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

Oops – none…. Haven’t had much time to explore! Any recommendations?

Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

On Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

J.K. Rowling Can Say What She Wants

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

 Austen in August!

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

5 Year Blog Anniversary & Ulysses Read-along

Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Announcing the 2015 TBR Pile Challenge!

Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

 Review: 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

The Easton Press Leather Bound Editions – can’t afford ‘em, but definitely want!

Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I blew my Goodreads goal of 60 books out of the water, but I failed miserably at my 2014 TBR Pile Challenge.

One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

Studies in Classic American Literature by D.H. Lawrence

2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (March – I think!)

Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

Well, this series isn’t ending (that I know of) but I’m looking forward to reading the second book in Cleo Coyle’s Coffee House Mystery series, Through the Grinder. I’m WAY behind in this series.

One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

I hope to be able to find time to actually blog/review again.

A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Hmmm…. Don’t think I’ve gotten any 2015 releases!

Fantasy, Giveaway, Giveaway Hop, Giveaways, interview, Monthly Review, T.A. Barron, Young Adult

Interview with Merlin Author T.A. Barron!

downloadAs a big fan of T.A. Barron’s Merlin Saga series, I’m excited to announce the paperback release of Atlantis Rising, the first book in an exciting fantasy new series!  I’m even more exciting to bring you all this interview with the author.  Enjoy!

From the publisher: “With his trademark magic and adventure, T.A. Barron, international best-selling author of The Merlin Saga, has returned with a whole new mythology – the origin of the legendary isle of Atlantis.  Atlantis Rising is the first book in an exciting new trilogy that explores not how Atlantis was destroyed, but how it was born.”

Q&A with T. A. Barron on Atlantis Rising

What fascinates you most about the legend of Atlantis?

No word evokes more of a feeling of tragedy than the word Atlantis. It stands for almost, what might have been. The tale of Atlantis is such a beautiful story, and for the 2000 years since Plato first wrote about it, people have wondered and dreamed about it. But one thing that has never changed is that the island of Atlantis was utterly destroyed.  I started to wonder, though, about something else—how Atlantis began.  How did a place that rose to such a level of near perfection get destroyed by the flaws and weaknesses of its people? Ultimately, how did that happen? This big unknown question is what got me to write Atlantis Rising. I wanted to add a new thread to the tapestry of myth about Atlantis—how it all began, the secrets of its origins.

Why do you choose to write about origins of stories?

When you write about the origins of a great legend, you experience the best of two worlds. You get to tap into a wondrous emotional and mythical journey that people have celebrated and enjoyed for a long time—which is why stories persist, why people keep telling the tales about Merlin or Atlantis. At the same time though, you get the opportunity to be fresh and original. You can explore and go behind the myth to discover how and where it all began. It just might start with the most inconsequential event—a boy stealing a pie, a girl discovering something strange in the woods, or a young man washing ashore. In those small moments you may discover the beginning of an amazing adventure!

What research was involved in preparing for Atlantis Rising

Before starting this project, I read everything I possibly could about Atlantis. As I got deeper into the research, I realized not only is there an immense story of high ideals and tragic consequences, human aspirations and failures, but a wonderful mystery of how it all began. That powered me even more to want to set forth the beginning, the origins of that magical place.  In addition, I have often thought about Atlantis since visiting Greece 20 years ago—the place where the legend began.  Often, I’ve recalled the sight of that landscape, the sound of waves on those islands, and the smell of the Mediterranean air. All that will, I hope, come through for anyone who reads the Atlantis trilogy.

In the last few scenes of Atlantis Rising, we see Atlantis become an island at last, while Promi returns to the spirit world. Where does the second book start?

The second book picks up immediately after Atlantis Rising finishes.  But time works differently between Earth and the spirit realm. Quite a bit more could have happened up in the spirit realm than has happened on Atlantis.  You see, during that brief interval—which feels just like a few days on Earth—many perils have risen. Some of them are dangers that come from old enemies—enemies who want to control all the magic and power of the Earth. And some of the perils come from romance…and we all know how tricky that can be.

In Atlantis Rising, Promi, the protagonist, risks his life for Smackberry pie. What dessert would you risk everything for?

Fresh Colorado snow-covered in maple syrup.

Thanks, T.A. Barron, for stopping by to share your thoughts – and thanks to the publisher for orchestrating this opportunity.  Whether you’re a fan of Barron or new to him, I hope you’ve enjoyed his thoughts and I invite (encourage!) you to check out his books – they’re great fun!

Blog Post, Monthly Review

Some Updates And Stuff

Books Read Since May 25:

Imre: A Memorandum by Edward Prime-Stevenson (4 of 5)

If you’re interested in the history of LGBT literature, this is a must. It was published in 1906 and it’s perhaps the first example of gay literature with a happy ending. Pretty fantastic book, and completely under-appreciated. I’m currently reading LGBT history of the 20th century in chronological order (not all of it OBVIOUSLY, but a fair amount. I’ll try to post something about this project sometime in the near future – so if you’re interested, stay tuned).

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (3 of 5)

I thought this final installment in the trilogy was alright. It was a bit derivative (meaning, clearly and directly informed by other sci-fi/fantasy stories) and also a little over-the-top with the romantic scenes. But, entertaining, easy to read, well-paced and fun nonetheless.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth (4 of 5)

My personal favorite of the Divergent series. Fun, interesting, compelling, with plenty of room for growth. A definite page-turner.

Reality Boy by A.S. King (4 of 5)

This book was really cool. I agree with King on so many levels. What we’ve done to people who participate in reality television, but especially children, is tragic. We really need to evaluate ourselves and our society to determine what’s actually important and to ask why we’re wasting our time on such trashy things.

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Blog Post, Monthly Review

Recent Readings & Writings


Since my last update, I’ve done some reading.  Written some articles. And all that.  I find I don’t have the time or energy to write full reviews anymore.  I’m not sure if or when this trend might change, but I do still want to post some thoughts on most (if not all) of the reading I do, for my own sake and for the interest of those who still pay attention to what I have to say.  And I have, indeed, read some great books lately! Here’s what’s up since we last met:

Books Read Since April 22nd:

  • Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement by Marc Stein (4 out of 5)
    • This was a solid and interesting examination of the origins of the gay and lesbian movement as well as a look at its current conditions and its future prospects.
  • Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf (4 out of 5)
    • This has probably been my second least favorite Woolf, after To the Lighthouse, JacobsRoombut that’s not really a problem, because it was still an awesome book.  This is one of Virginia Woolf’s earliest, and the rough edges show. It’s also her first real attempt at experimentation.  An interesting story, truly fascinating to explore elements like narration and characters in this one.
  • This is Water by David Foster Wallace (5 out of 5)
    • My first DFW book (actually, this is a speech) and, boy, I fell madly in love.  I read Vonnegut’s collection of speeches not too long ago (see the last monthly check-in post) and this one amplified those ideas and sentiments quite nicely.  I will definitely be reading more David Foster Wallace.
  • Deliverance by James Dickey (4 out of 5)
    • I thought this one was going to be more of a mind-f*@# than it was, but I can see why people are so disturbed by it (and why it would have been particularly shocking and troubling at the time of its publication).  The darker elements of human nature are explored, and Dickey is a fantastic writer – his prose is wonderful to experience.
  • For the Pleasure of His Company by Charles Warren Stoddard (3 out of 5)
    • Charles Warren Stoddard was primarily a travel writer, but he published this novel in 1903 and it is now considered one of the first gay American novels.  Unfortunately, it’s not a great novel – not much happens, the plot seems convoluted, and you can sense the author’s trepidation.  Still, it is a brave novel and had its champions, such as Rudyard Kipling. It’s also important as an historical artifact.
  • The Book Thief by MarkusZusak (5 out of 5)
    • I have too much to say about this one.  Two things, primarily. First, I’m sorry that it took me so long to read it. Second, this book inspired me to write again. It was just that good.  I know not everyone has loved it, but I found the writing, the subject, the approach to the subject, the moral and spiritual messages, everything about it so positive, so cleansing, so simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming. It’s hard to imagine a holocaust novel that manages to treat equally the human goodness in both the Jewish and German people. The narration was innovative, the characters were lovable, and the story was just damn good – a modern take on a deeply explored topic.
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (4 out of 5)rebecca-daphne-du-maurier
    • Here’s another one that I can’t believe I hadn’t read sooner!  It’s been on nearly every challenge list I’ve created for myself in the last four or five years, yet I always avoided it.  I’m not sure why – probably because I thought it would be too much like a romance (I avoided Pride and Prejudice for a long time for that very reason, and I now believe that to be one of the finest novels ever written, so you’d think I would’ve learned my lesson, eh?).  Anyhow, I loved this book – this was my first time with du Maurier, and boy does she know how to do creepy! I was reading this one and Salem’s Lot (below) simultaneously, and it was hard to say, at times, who was creeping me out more, du Maurier or Stephen King.
  • Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (4 out of 5)
    • I’m not really a fan of vampire stories, other than the original Dracula, which is just a brilliant book.  I’ve read some Anne Rice and other things, but I’ve avoided Twilight and other “paranormal” types of books pretty much across the board.  I just find them cheesy, I guess, and I think vampires, in particular, have over-saturated the market. That being said, Stephen King knows what he’s doing, you know?  This was one of his first books, and it’s one of the best I’ve read from him (and I’ve read a lot!).  Nobody knows how to kill off an entire town nor how to build completely flawed but inspired and lovable heroes like Mr. King.

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