Recent Reads Vol. 4

I have a confession, and it's a shameful one: I have never linked up with Steph and Jana for Show Us Your Books. I know, I know. I'm bad at remembering recurring linkups and I'm not all that speedy a reader so on the rare occasion that I have remembered a linkup day is coming, there hasn't been much new to report since my last book post

But today is a good day! I planned ahead! I had news to report! Here's what I've read, loved, abandoned, and devoured lately:
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
I had actually finished reading Landline before my last book post, but it somehow completely escaped me when I was writing the link-up post for Kels’ summer reading challenge. That’s definitely not a reflection of the book though; just on my own space cadet tendencies lately (#stressed). I went back and added it in, but I’m guessing most of you didn’t see that. Here are my thoughts again on Landline:

This is another one I absolutely flew through. I was a little hesitant when the not-quite-normal part of the storyline picked up, but it didn't bother me. And by the end I reached a place I don't normally reach in works of fiction: I didn't care if it made real-life sense, and just enjoyed it for what it was. I thought the protagonist was very well-rounded, real, and complex, and I genuinely liked her, despite obvious flaws. I was always anxious to get back to reading this one (for the whole two days it took me) and was all woe-is-me when it ended before I was ready to move on to new characters.

Recommend? — Undoubtedly

The First Bad Man by Miranda July
I ended up starting this because it was available right away from my library on audiobook and it would satisfy a requirement for the Literary Ladies summer reading challenge. Goodreads had it listed as humor and I was in the mood for a laugh. That’s pretty much all the criteria I had. This ended up being the first book I've abandoned in a long time. (I have no problem abandoning books I’m not into. Life is too short and literature is too plentiful to waste your time on a book you don’t want to read.)

This book was weird from the outset, and because I wasn’t totally interested in it I definitely missed a few things that may have made it more clear, but it’s hard to precisely rewind audiobooks, especially while driving, so oh well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Miranda July in anything before, but holy crap is her narration voice annoying and even needling at times. That was problem one for me. Problem two was honestly how self-indulgent I found this. I don’t believe that actors/musicians/artists can’t also be good writers, but I do think this book would be way less popular if Miranda July weren’t already famous. (Not that I have any idea who she is, to be honest.) It was weird and it honestly felt like it was weird for the sake of being weird. And if you didn’t “get” the weirdness, well then how sad and unsophisticated are you. It felt like… hm. Like being automatically denied access to the hip new club because you had to ask for directions to the club in the first place. Does that make any sense?

Anyway, this was a no-go for me, but I appear to be in the minority there.

Recommend? — Not for me, but maybe for you.

Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler
I have seldom loved a book with male protagonist(s) by a male author as much as I loved this book. I LOVED this book. I flew through it and kicked myself when it was over for not savoring it more. I got bummed out when I saw it was almost over. It was so beautifully written and the characters were all appropriately complex and developed.

I personally love alternate narratives in a book, but I know not everyone does. I liked that each narrator, though they shared many commonalities, was distinct and clear and honest and consistent to their character. It wasn’t self-indulgent, and Nickolas Butler managed to maneuver into a female narrator’s voice quite well too, which isn’t easy for an opposite-sex author. I loved absolutely everything about this book and ran right out to pick up a copy to give as a gift. Read it.

Recommend? — Please go read this book.

Hollywood by Zachary J. Ferrara
I talked about this book last week, and technically this most recent read (read number four in as many months) wasn’t my first, but I need to mention it again here. My friend wrote this book, and the first time I sat down to edit it more than four months ago, I was completely stricken. I was really cognizant of the fact that my relationship to the author might sway my feelings toward it, but I really stepped outside of that space and took it at face value. (I think he’d be the first to tell you too that in my rounds of editing I made no move whatsoever to spare his feelings or treat him with kid gloves; I gave thoroughly honest feedback from day one.) And my honest feedback now, after seeing this come to life and finally list for sale online, is that if you have a few hours and want to knock out a read, you should start here. It’s breezy in pace, but thoughtful and calculated and emotional and provocative.

I would really appreciate it if you checked it out (I think it’s well worth the three bucks, but I’ll PayPal you the cost of the book if you hate it) and I swear to you, I wouldn’t talk this up like this if I didn’t think there was a good, enjoyable hour or two of reading behind that cover.

Recommend? — Even if I didn’t know the author (and even if I weren’t the editor), yes.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
I finished this, mostly out of wanting a cure for boredom, but I never particularly liked it. I found it predictable, uncompelling, and detached. None of the characters ever gave me a real reason to care about them, the ending was drab—and I saw it coming a mile away. I also don't particularly like the sub-narrative story it tells (vague, to be spoiler-free): that someone else might/could/does know better for a person's relationship, or that there's a good reason for a person to so wholly and selfishly butt into other people's business to arrange their preferred outcome, and then call it "meant to be." Family or not. I just could never reach a place of really caring all that much about what happened next.

Recommend? — You won't miss anything by skipping it, in my opinion.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I feel like this book took me through a lifetime of emotions. At first I was hesitant—I'm not terribly into thriller/mystery books. Then, pressured—everyone says it's great, it fits the bill for a book challenge prompt, fine. I opened it, bored. I paged through the first 15%, dutiful. Then I had one of those "read a big chunk in one day, stay up way too late to read more, pick it back up first thing in the morning and finish it before you leave the house" experiences. And I loved it, until I got angry, and then I loved it again, until I hated it.

Again, vague to be spoiler-free: Perhaps I'm being over-sensitive and especially so in light of certain "media darling" stories (particularly about women and assault accusations), but I really could have done without the reinforcement of a female trope/stereotype. Yes, I know it's a work of fiction, but so are a lot of the stories told in the media without cognizance of that fact. So that really was rubbing me the wrong way from the beginning of Part II on, and it only intensified in Part III.

Beyond that, it was an excellently-crafted story, amazingly written (if not redundant with some metaphors, and it relied a little too much sometimes on cliches and turns of phrase), meticulously thought-out. Until the end, when all of a sudden it was something way different than what it had been, and the characters were way different. The pacing here drove me crazy. The first 80% was like peeling back an onion, the anticipation and plot building slowly, carefully, intentionally. And then it was like MORE PLOT POINTS MORE CHARACTER TRAITS MORE STUFF HERE ARE ALL THE THINGS. So even though the ending didn't match (in my opinion) the rest of the book, it was way more good than bad, for whatever that's worth.

Recommend? — If you like thriller/mystery and messed up stories about screwed up people, give it a go. If you're on the fence, you won't miss it. If you're curious about the ending, read it. (Pretty much what kept me going after I got mad.)

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman
This book has literally followed me to each and every listing method since...about 2009 since it was published. I've always wanted to read it, but never wanted to read it right now. But it was available on audio (narrated by the author) from my library and I knocked it out in two days and as many long runs. I have never not enjoyed a comedian's book (both of Ellen DeGeneres's, George Carlin's, etc.) and this was no exception. I run hot and cold with Sarah Silverman—some of her favorite humor just doesn't appeal to me or make me laugh, but this book was not just a comedian's shot at being funny on paper. It was interesting and thoughtful and smart and exciting, and she really spoke almost profoundly on things I wasn't expecting to read about here. A good, quick read.

Recommend? — Yes, if you don't mind your humor a little blue.


If you've read any of these, what do you think of them? (I especially want to talk about Gone Girl with anyone and everyone.) What are you reading right now?

Comments

  1. How fun that you were able to edit your friends book and even better that it was a great read!! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just bought Hollywood, I'll hopefully get to it in the next month!

    I loved, loved, loved, loved, LOVED Shotgun Lovesongs. It was my favorite book last year and I actually purchased a copy to own.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like I need to read Shotgun Lovesongs!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I need to add Shotgun Lovesongs to my read list because you are about the 10th person to confess their love for it. So clearly there is something there!

    ReplyDelete
  5. i was really surprised at how much i liked Shotgun Lovesongs as well as it's not the typical book i read but i loved it!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am, I think, the only person in the world who hasn't read Gone Girl. Part of me wants to, but it's just been SO hyped in the media and has grown way past the story itself, if that makes sense, that I just don't know if I could even approach it with a clear mindset.

    ReplyDelete
  7. ugh that sucks about eight hundred grapes! it's on my list and i've heard such good things. plus, pretty cover. shotgun lovesongs is on my list, movin it on up now. i hope i love it as much as everyone else.
    just bought Hollywood - I am on a strict no buying books ban, so I hope you know how much I love you to break it for you ;) haha jk, it was $3. I hope I get to it soon! i'm glad you enjoyed Landline, I did as well. The whole obviously not real life thing bugged me for a hot minute, but overall I really enjoyed it. Attachments remains my fave though.
    yay for linking up! I am horrible at remembering link ups, thank goodness for my planner!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I LOVED Gone Girl! It's creepy and messed up and caught me completely off guard. I gave it 5 stars which I hardly ever do.

    Have you read anything else by Rainbow Rowell? I loved Attachments, but this one just seems too far off the walls, even for fiction. Adding Hollywood and Bedwetter (more out of curiosity than anything else on the latter).

    ReplyDelete
  9. I loved Landline and loved/hated Gone Girl. I hated every single character, but thought it was really well written. It was definitely a book I couldn't put down. I wish I could say the same about Flynn's other books, but that hasn't really been the case for me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I also loved Shotgun Lovesongs and since Butler only has that one book, please read Dean Bakopoulos. He was Butler's writing teacher at one point and they have similar styles and his book , Please Don't Come Back From the Moon is simply outstanding.

    I loved Gone Girl but not so much Landline. It bugged me and I found myself irritated with the characters quite often. I think had I read it before Attachments and E&P, I might have felt differently. Maybe.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I just added Shotgun Lovesongs to my to read list! Eight Hundred Grapes is on my monthly book summary and I felt the same way - just okay. Really enjoyed Gone Girl but thought Landline was just okay as well. I love Eleanor & Park so much more!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I loved Shotgun Lovesongs! I didn't love The First Bad Man. Your review was spot on and I felt like I was in the minority too. I'm adding Hollywood to my list!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I still have yet to read a Rainbow Rowell book. Shotgun Lovesongs must be moved up on my list. You are like the 800th person to review and say it's a must read. Gone Girl is my favorite Flynn novel.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I finished Shotgun Lovesongs on the train home from New Jersey (<3! I MISS YOU!) and legitimately sobbed right there on the train because I just didn't want it to be over. Books like that are why I don't read very much: I want to feel the way I felt that way about ALL the books, and I am simultaneously not emotionally equipped to feel that way about all books so I get deeply invested in one and then need time to recuperate before I can find the next one that I can feel deeply about. My retention of plot lines is complete crap so I couldn't even tell you exactly what happened, I just know that it gave me all the feels.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Shotgun Lovesongs is on my list of book as is 800 grapes stinks you didn't like it. Hollywood sounds intriguing I'll check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I enjoy various narratives as well, and I loved that Shotguns Lovesongs featured the town as a character too. Beth was my favorite of the lot.

    I enjoy books that are "thriller/mystery and messed up stories about screwed up people", but Gone Girl didn't excite me the way it did others. I actually thought the movie was better than the book, and that rarely happens.

    I adored all of Rainbow Rowell's books, but sadly Landline was my least favorite.

    Welcome to the link-up!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I love Gillian Flynn, but I only liked Gone Girl. It was good, and I'm not sorry I read it … I just think her first two books were slightly better, so I had ridiculously high expectations when I read this.

    Shotgun Lovesongs is on my "To Read" list, and I'm excited to see another glowing review. I can't wait to read it!

    I want to read Rainbow Rowell, but I'm not sure where to start. Everyone seems to love her and everything she writes, though, so maybe I can't go wrong?

    Miranda July is weird. I've never read any of her books, but I did see the movie Me and You and Everyone We Know (which she wrote, directed, and starred in) and it was definitely odd. I actually enjoyed it, but I'm not sure how her style would translate to a novel.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Shotgun has been on my TBR list for a few months now. I'll get to it!
    I love Rainbow Rowell. The books aren't overly sappy, but still give me the feelz and they don't always end perfectly. Me gusta.
    Added Hollywood to my TBR list.

    But Gone Girl. OMFG. Gone Girl put me through the ringer. I liked it, I hated it, I felt violated by it. At the end, I hated it. I think it was more that I hated the characters and how the book ended, but as an author she moved me to complete hatred so she is very successful if that is her goal. I really want to see the movie since I've read the book, but I'm in no hurry because I know the movie is bound to be just as eff-ed up as the book.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've wanted to read Shotgun Lovesongs forever- I think I saw it when it was on a best of Amazon list and every few months I check to see if it's an ebook option at the library (no luck yet), but now I want to read it even more after this review. I liked Eight Hundred Grapes, but yesss the ending was so predictable right from the beginning!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love the way you review books! Also, I've added Shotgun Lovesongs to my TBR, because I plan on writing a multiple POV novel with a male protagonist for NaNoWriMo this year and I'm quite nervous about it. All in the name of research (and a great story, no doubt. Hopefully.)!
    I've also added Hollywood to my TBR because, quite frankly, the description had me at 'law school', as I am a law school survivor myself :)

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

I'd love to hear from you. Please make sure your settings let me reply to your comment by email.