Rating: B+/ I was reluctant to read this book because I was afraid it was going to be overly political. I don’t mind stories about racism and racial bias but it feels like that’s all people talk about these days and frankly, I needed a break from all that (I initially thought the same thing about the film Fruitvale Station, which turned out to be an exceptionally fair-minded and thought-provoking movie.) Monster is a very short novel and creatively utilizes a screenplay format, along with excerpts from the main character’s journal, to tell it’s story. Continue reading Book Review: Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Rating: B-/ I really don’t know what to say about this book. It was an extremely odd novel, and I haven’t quite sorted my feelings about it out yet. I enjoy stories with taboo subject matter, but what I don’t enjoy is having a narrative suddenly just kind of end in an anti-climax. Lamb is a book where I kept expecting something big to happen, but the conclusion left me puzzled and disappointed. I often found the writing style confusing, but I did think the author did a good job developing her main characters. This book is going to be hard for some people to read because the main character, David Lamb, is basically a pedophile. Continue reading Book Review: Lamb by Bonnie Nadzam
Rating: B+/ Call me crazy, but I count Patrick McCabe’s 1992 novel The Butcher Boy among my favorite and most influential books of all time. Sure, it’s Bleak with a capital B, but it turned me on to my current fascination with books featuring unreliable narrators. It was made into a 1997 movie by Neil Jordan, and while it was surprisingly good with a convincing performance by Eamonn Owens as the book’s mentally disturbed narrator, Francie, some of the book’s brilliance was lost in translation. Continue reading Book Review: Breakfast on Pluto by Patrick McCabe
Rating: B+/ Not as crudely irreverent as the title might suggest, The Dirty Parts of the Bible is the surprisingly touching and sweet story of Tobias Henry, the nineteen-year-old sexually frustrated son of a born-again Baptist preacher. Struggling with his sexual urges and skeptical of his father’s teachings, Tobias is sent out on a journey to his uncle’s farm in Glen Rose, Michigan after his dad suffers a bizarre accident and is temporarily blinded. Tobias’ goal is to uncover a large sum of money that his dad hid in a well on his family property years ago.
Continue reading Book Review: The Dirty Parts of the Bible by Sam Torode
Rating: C+/ I’ll start out by saying that I probably wouldn’t have read this novella all the way through if I wasn’t a big believer in finishing something before you review it. Even at just over 200 pages with absurdly large print, this book felt like a chore. There were entire scenes in which I really had to struggle to figure out what was happening, and This Census-Taker’s pretentious and vague narrative ensured that many readers would go through the whole book frustrated and unsure of what the book was actually about. Continue reading Book Review: This Census-Taker by China Mieville
Rating: A-/ Occasionally I have dreams where I wake up in someone else’s life, or a changed version of my own. In these dreams, I decide I need to play along although I have no memories of how I got here and don’t recognize the people around me. Telling them I was someone else just hours ago, I realize, will just make me sound unhinged and crazy. Sometimes I know it’s just a dream but I feel a weird kind of responsibility toward them, these people, whether they are slightly altered versions of my loved ones or complete strangers my subconscious makes up. Continue reading Book Review: Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Rating: B+/ After her father dies and leaves her a small fortune’s worth of cattle, independent, no-nonsense Precious Ramotswe sells the livestock and single-handedly starts up her own detective agency with the money. People underestimate and try to undermine Precious at every turn, but her quick wit and ingenuity eventually make fools of them all. But she finds herself out of her depth while investigating her first major case, the disappearance of a little boy thought to have been snatched by witch doctors. Continue reading Book Review: The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith