Book #81: Career of Evil

Robert Galbraith, Career of Evil, 2015, 489p

Since kicking off this blogging adventure, I have read all three of Galbraith (aka Rowling)’s books. (see reviews here and here.) One I enjoyed, the other not so much. So I was interested to see if the third time was the charm.  (Yes, Prisoner of Azkaban was actually my favourite of the series, so I had high hopes.)

In this case, book three seems to be my sweet spot.

Our unlikely heroes Strike and Ellacott are at it again. When Robin receives a severed leg in the mail, the daring duo set out to find the sicko killer, all while the police department put it on the back burner. Strike soon realizes this case is personal and narrows it down to three suspects – all from his deep dark past.

I REALLY liked that we got to know Cormoran and Robin better in this book. Robin always seemed flat to me until this book. The will they?/won’t they? game is STRONG with this one – culminating in a cliffhanger ending. (Is it all really over?!? Obvi not, when there is a fourth book in the works). And FINALLY Cormoran has given up on Charlotte – which is refreshing.

All in all, I liked this book best of the series. Character development ALWAYS wins out for me over grossness.

 

 

Book #80: Furiously Happy

Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy, 2015, 329p

I adore Jenny Lawson. Her frank candidness about her mental health struggles is reassuring. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s to struggle and fall back down and cry and fail. The more people I see sharing and telling their stories make me feel less alone. Mental health disorders are isolating and exhausting. I am about two years post-diagnosis and I’m still pretty fucked up about it all.

I struggle with anxiety. My official diagnosis is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which in a nutshell means I worry about everything everyday and always. Normal things –  like driving a car, going to the doctor’s, being late, and saying the wrong thing, – overwhelm and consume me. I lay awake at night and plan how I would get out of my house if there was a fire. I worry that my dog is unhappy. I think everyone hates me.  My relationships and friendships are affected. My overall health and well being are affected. It is not fun living in my head (or living with me).

We caught glimpses of this side of Lawson in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. That book was FAR more hilarious than this one. This one had it’s moment, but for me it was more powerful, because the struggle is real.

Her advice to succeed at anything: Pretend You’re Good At It. I heed this advice. Everyday. I pretend I’m good at life. Not overwhelmed or anxious or drowning.

This book hit really close to home for me. Read it. Love it. Cry about it.

Book #79: When Everything Feels Like the Movies

Raziel Reid, When Everything Feels Like the Movies, 2014, 176p

This is an uncomfortable read. There, I said it.

I typically don’t read gutting books. Like terrible, horrible, soul crushing, losing my faith in humanity types of books. I read SAD books. I read BITTERSWEET books. But not like this.

There is so much hype surrounding this one. It won the Governor General Literary Award – and people have actually demanded it be stripped of it. It was a finalist on Canada Reads in 2015. It is vulgar and sweary and graphic, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid.

Jude, a gender queer teen, pushes the boundaries of their homophobic small town, with makeup, dresses, and a Hollywood attitude.  Their best friend, Angela, is a self proclaimed slut, and Jude pines after the most popular jock at the school. Jude copes with their own life of endless bullying and cruelty by living in denial – envisioning themselves s a beautiful starlet. Those bullies and name callers simply ‘paparazzi’. With graphic sexual content, violence, drug use, and language – it is clear why there was such controversy surround this title.

It’s a tough read. But, it is an extremely honest, brutal portrayal of youth have to face every day.

Not every book has to be beautiful. And sugar coated.

Sometimes it’s good be uncomfortable.

Book #78: The Jewel

Amy Ewing, The Jewel, 2014, 358p

If you have read ANY of my blog posts or if you even remotely have discussed books with me at any time, you will know that I’m beyond addicted to dystopian teen fiction. It is my book crack. I tried to count up the number of dystopian series I have read and the list was crazy long.

I like what I like. And I liked The Jewel. Is it cheesy and predictable? You bet. But it was an entertaining quick read, yo.

The first book in the “Lone City” series, the Jewel follows Violet, a powerful surrogate purchased by royalty to essentially propagate human kind. The royal bloodlines are tainted. In order to have healthy children, the rich purchase surrogates from the poorest communities – but these are no ordinary girls. Each have special powers over the “auguries”– being able to change somethings colour, change its shape, and encourage it to grow. Violet, now know simply as #197, is purchased by the Duchess of the Lake and is isolated and beaten. She is simply trying to survive, until she meets Ash – a paid companion to the Duchess’ niece. While the forbidden romance grows between Violet and Ash, the other surrogates begin dying after childbirth. Violet attempts to escape her fate, but things become much more complicated when she realizes she is pregnant…

If you’re reading this blog and are like “wait haven’t I read something like this before?”, the answer is clearly yes. Is this a new age, low grade version of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale? Obviously. Are there any new stories out there? Likely not. Is this going to be a classic? No. But I read it and will devour the rest of the series like a bag of chips.

Book #77: Everyday Sexism

Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism, 2014, 384p

This book has been on my radar since I started following Bates’ Twitter account of the same name. This was around the time I became an angry lady (see How To Be a Woman for more deets about my anger).

I’m a young (ish) gal who takes transit, works with the public, and is an avid pedestrian. I am sick and tired of hearing comments about my body, sexuality or my marital status. I am done with people questioning my knowledge because of my so-called lady brain. Obviously I can’t troubleshoot your device because I have a vagina. (PS. This is my job and I don’t use my labia to type. Pffft).

It continues to blow my mind how rampant sexism STILL IS. It’s 2016! The stats and testimonials in Bates’ book will leave you feeling sad, angry, and disgusted with society.

This book is great. The Twitter account is also fantastic (Check it here: Everyday Sexism).

 

Book #76: All the Rage

Courtney Summers, All the Rage, (2015), 321p

Gasp. There are some times where the library hold gods do not shine upon me. I am finished a book and stuck waiting for another. Yeah, I could pull one of the hundred TBR books from my bookshelves… OR I could creep through the eBooks that are available online until I find on that I can read right then and now that sounds remotely interesting.

Which is exactly how I fell upon All the Rage.

We meet Romy – a girl from the wrong side of the tracks. We don’t meet Kellen Turner – but we learn a lot him. The town’s golden boy isn’t so golden after forcing himself upon Romy. But no one believes her, so Romy is left to build up walls around her and continue on with high school. Romy creates a secret life for herself working at a diner in another small town, where no one knows her story. But when a popular girl, who is linked to both Romy and Kellen, turns up missing after the annual high school bush party – the town takes notice.

So. This book tackles a pretty tough subject. Does it do it well? Maybe…

This entire book is filled with bullying – bullying of Romy for having a drunk dad, being a slut, being a liar. Bullying of Romy’s mom’s new boyfriend because he has a disability. These people are dicks. The whole idea of people not believing a rape victim isn’t new. The whole idea of the separation of classes isn’t new.

I don’t know how I feel about it. The ending of the book is touted as shocking – but I almost want to call it lazy. Summers leaves a trail of breadcrumbs throughout the story which doesn’t pan out. Maybe it was trying to be twisty. I feel like it was blah. The characters weren’t super developed. You never really get a good sense of Romy – she is too busy applying her armor of red lipstick and nail lacquer.

I give some shits about this book but not a ton. It’s okay. At best.

Book #75: If I Fall If I Die

Michael Christie, If I Fall, If I Die, (2015), 288p

I always peruse through the Giller Prize lists, because I’m SO Canadian. Do I typically read a lot of Canadian authors? Sadly not really, with the exception of Miriam Toews. Being a teen fiction addict, it’s sadly tough for me to get hooked on a contemporary adult book. Which is nuts – because I used to ONLY READ contemporary adult fiction for like ever.

For some reason, Christie’s book jumped off the long list for me. I somehow missed the rush of holds and got my copy pretty quickly. It fell to the bottom of my TBR pile AND I did manage to get to it. Yay!

Will has grown up in Toronto, Cairo, New York, Paris… but has never left his house. Will’s mom, Diane, is fiercely agoraphobic – leaving Will’s world limited to their Thunder Bay home, with rooms named after world famous capital cities. One day, Will hears a noise Outside and heads out in a helmet to investigate. He meets Marcus, a neighbourhood boy, who is never seen again. Will gets a taste of freedom and enrolls himself in school. There he befriends Jonah, an aboriginal skateboarder, and sets for on his mission to find Marcus.

Christie’s writing is beautiful and lyrical. I can rarely say that about a book. It was an interesting take on mental health issues and fears. The ending was slightly twisty and I didn’t predict it. Ended up somewhat cutesy, which I didn’t see coming.

I dug this book. Sad it didn’t win the Giller.