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Review: The Magician King

The Magician King
The Magician King by Lev Grossman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It took me a really long time to read this book, because it killed me to go through it. I fell head over heels for Lev Grossman when I stumbled upon a tattered copy of The Magicians at a flea market. There is something about the way he writes that gets to me. He’s not particularly sophisticated or anything. Just kind of….ugh…real. This book? This book made me feel like I know the man too well. Like he’s a lover that I have become accustomed to. A lover who I see exceptionally well. Am I the only one who reads this way? It can be a little scary, truth be told. Not because I mind understanding others through their writing, so much as I am terrified that someone might come to understand me through my own. It’s so weird. It’s sort of like the person is told through the story, instead of the story through the person. I loved Codex and I loved The Magicians. But this book? I can’t quite put into words how I feel about this book. In fact I can’t even put it in to stars. Because sometimes it was five stars and sometimes it was one star. Why? Sometimes the misogyny showed so hard that I wanted to smack it away. Sometimes it was like Mr Grossman was mocking the story instead of telling it. And sometimes? Well sometimes, especially when he was telling Julia’s side of the story, there was this soft, beautiful understanding laced with so much incredible love that it was impossible not to be infected by all of it. Not only did I come to understand (and relate to!) Julia completely, but I also could not help but come to love her as she was handled and told with such affection that it was contagious. Maybe that is crazy. Maybe I “read” too much into things. But there is a very special presence in this book which I can’t deny. And that special presence made all the other foibles forgivable. Because that’s how we love, isn’t it? Completely. All inclusively. Warts and all.



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Review: Revenge

Revenge
Revenge by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Well… That’s over…. I was kind of hoping for some sort of magical plot twist or something. I was happy to discover that for once I was completely wrong about who the killer was, so yay for that. Either I’m losing my touch or some actual intrigue was employed. Honestly I haven’t read about such two dimensional and not-really-believable characters since Fifty Shades of Grey. Although that said, the whole Fifty Shades phenomenon makes more sense to me now than it did before. I guess this is jut the kind of writing that a lot of folks prefer. I just didn’t feel like there was any depth to it at all. I get to read my new Lev Grossman novel now though. I’m actually salivating at the thought.



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Review: Murder

Murder
Murder by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I made a booboo in my last review. I referred to this series as the “LA Confessions” series. It’s “LA Connections”. My apologies. Otherwise it seems I’m flying through these which is great because I need to move on but I can’t move on until I’m done so at least it’s quick. Still not much happening to thrill me much. I don’t believe anything anyone says. It could be that I’m in a mood and just find anything anyone says to be disingenuous, or maybe that’s just how it is. I don’t know. On to the last instalment though. So maybe I’ll be surprised? I think I don’t know who the killer is so far so yay for that. Unless it turns out to be who I think it is. In which case I’ll be annoyed. I always guess. Every single time. It’s not the writer’s fault. Apparently I have really loud spoilery spirit guides.



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Review: Obsession

Obsession
Obsession by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Meh. This instalment of the LA Confessions series seems even more insignificant than the last one. And I keep thinking….this can’t be how Hollywood people are! And if this really is how they are…. Can we rather just pretend otherwise? There was ONE redeeming (ok that’s not quite the right word) part where the *SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER* high class call girl gets busted in the middle of sex with the guy she has unwisely started dating. That gave me a small giggle. Although I am also one of those people who doesn’t think that prostitution is an unseemly profession so I don’t see why the guy shouldn’t just get over it and accept the fact that sex with random strangers is her job. And then just be grateful that she doesn’t charge him!



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Review: Power

Power
Power by Jackie Collins

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I’m probably going to regret writing this review. Kind of how I regret writing my Fifty Shades reviews or the Fear and Loathing review. Sometimes indignant honesty feels good at the time, but later you re-read yourself and you have to admit that maybe you’re just a cow.

I decided to pick up this little series for one main reason: it consists of four very short books. I’m super behind on my reading goal for the year and when we had our yearly Larter “What Are Your Goals For The Year” meeting, I insisted that my only goal for the year was to read 100 books (I’m tired of writing goals falling way short of my expectations) – I have to admit to myself that children need to come first for a little while because I am incapable of juggling. But I am super failing at this most minuscule of goals! And now I’m even cheating because seriously I don’t think reading these books counts. Anyway – I chose them because they were short (I bought them at a by-weight book sale about 2 months ago) and because I needed something “easier’ to read. The last book I read made me feel super unintelligent – it was out of my league. And then when I actually did start understanding it, it wrecked me a little. So I needed something to unwreck me. I expected this to be a cheap trashy romance novel. With some fun sex scenes and a murder or two thrown in just for fun. Yay!

I also thought to myself that I could probably “learn” something from these books. I read a lot of different types of books and I like to have an idea of what the contemporary masses are consuming. Jackie Collins sounds like that sort of writer. Surely. I can learn something! I can’t “learn” from books like Toni Morrison’s or Margaret Atwood’s or King or Irving or any of those folks because they are too out of my reach. I can only gawk at them in awe. I won’t ever write like that, and that’s fine.

So I picked up this book. And? Well I’m still scratching my head. I am so confused. None of these characters seem to possess any sort of logic. The entire thing is filled with cliches – though I wonder if they were perhaps not so cliche in 1996 when it was set? So fine. It’s not “timeless” – not many folks can pull that off. Totally forgivable. But still… I kind of felt a bit eye roll-y throughout the whole thing. And I can’t figure out why this is divided into four books when the first one doesn’t really stand alone in any way. It’s sort of a nothing story about nothing people. But not in that profound where where nothing happens but you still feel like something has happened. More like stuff happens but you really just don’t care. Then again: that’s exactly what I was looking for in the wake of my Morrison devastation.

I’m very confused. But I AM learning. I am learning that I think maybe I write this way. And I am worried I won’t be able to change that. Because even if this is something that folks really like to read (Collins has many fans – though she may not be to my taste) I don’t want to write this way. I worry that I will write in this way that does so very little for me. And I know just how pompous that sounds but I do. I want to write the kind of books that make me happy. These sort of books don’t make me happy. They’re way too much like fat-free yogurt.




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Review: Love

Love
Love by Toni Morrison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holy hell. I did not enjoy this book. This book is not entertainment. At all. It is a gut wrenching piece of pure raw honesty about how life is. My insides are sour. I can feel the blood in my veins. My heart is pounding. Be warned that it is full of triggers. It might be best to keep that in mind for those who are sensitive to them. Shit. I can’t even get my words out. Nothing made sense. And then it all made sense. And now I feel sick. I didn’t enjoy reading this book. It wasn’t like my favourites, the sweet magical stories about abnormally bad circumstances being overcome by average, but secretly special, people. There’s no feel-good. But it is also not Virginia Andrews-y or Picoult-y where all these crazy unbelievable bad things happen and you are able to remain sane because “that’s crazy”. This was not crazy. This was real. And I cannot escape the truth that Toni Morrison’s work is incredibly important.



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Review: The Imaginary

The Imaginary
The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My mind is being torn in two about this book. You see, I think children will like it. But I kind of like it when I like the children’s books as well. I like it when it is written in a language that is kind of ageless, perhaps. I think that might be what it is. This is a truly wonderful story with some excellent imagination happening all over the place. I just didn’t like the way it sounded in my head, which was a bit of a pity. Of course that’s just me though. the illustrations are lovely, the idea is lovely, and honestly if a movie is ever made of this story I will gleefully take my children to go and watch it, and I will be more excited than they will be.



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Review: Horseradish

Horseradish
Horseradish by Lemony Snicket

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I completely forgot to mention that I re-read this little gem of wisdom over the weekend. Funny enough it actually did quite a bit to uplift an otherwise dreary mood. I think it might be one of those books I should read yearly, like Love That Dog (Actually maybe I should go and re-read that one now!) as it is one of those that gives far more than it takes. Thanks Mr. Snicket, sir. You have served me well once more.



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Review: The Tin Can Tree

The Tin Can Tree
The Tin Can Tree by Anne Tyler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have a weird relationship with Anne Tyler. I met her when I was nineteen. I was camping in Tennessee and she kept me company, and as she did so I began to discover that I really wanted to write. I have loved her since then, always, and am quick to mention that The Accidental Tourist is one of my favourite books. She is strange though. Possibly in a way that I can’t quite express. While reading her other books (I have not gotten through all of them yet – not even all of hers that I own) I find myself wondering “why did you write this?” I cannot help but be curious about her motivations. What happened? What tiny little occurrence set you running off to tell this story? With the Tin Can Tree, you slip into the aftermath of the death of a child. It is a story filled with awkward conversations. It is strange, and yet readable. Relatable even if you cannot possibly relate. Anne Tyler baffles me. I can only imagine that she might have the true powers of an empath. She seems to understand things that she could not possibly have experienced – at least not all of them, though I imagine perhaps some. Her books seem to be just this though: a series of conversations that are so real you cannot stop yourself from hearing every word that she says. You get to the end and you think, “well not much happened in that story, everyone just sat around talking….” and then you go on to wonder how on earth her method works. Because it does work. And yet you can’t imagine ever pulling it off yourself.



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An Open Letter to Lena Dunham

Dearest Ms Dunham,

I won’t lie and pretend to be your biggest fan, or gush and tell you how wonderful I think you are (though I do think you are pretty damn awesome). I will however, admit that I love how Girls is something that not everyone “gets” and it makes me feel a tiny bit superior when my husband watches an episode and gets all annoyed and confused, while I watch it with the same kind of understanding and kindredspiritness that I find within the pages of the books that I hold so dear to me. There is no question of your talent, and I feel confident in claiming that your integrity cannot be called into question either.

What I wanted to say to was simply this: This shit sucks.

I can only imagine how annoyed you are at these ridiculous accusations of abuse against your sister, which you were “stupid” enough to “confess” to. It’s all quite yawnable.

What makes me angriest though is that these kinds of false accusations (and I know without a doubt that in your particular case they are bullshit) are just so fucking damaging to the public in general. Yes, they are damaging to you. You have been hurt and I am sure you are under quite a bit of stress right now. You are undoubtedly experiencing hurt and stress and anger which you do not deserve to be experiencing, never mind all the abuse that you must be shielding on all social media fronts (because let’s face it: reasonable is not something we can always expect from our friends on the internet) – I do not in any way discount that. But this will blow over (not because you are a “white girl” as has been suggested but because you did nothing wrong) and all that will be left of this mess will be your bruised ego…and the ever-more-damaging subconscious public idea that people get falsely accused of abuse all the time.

It sucks. Here you are, a true-life honest-to-God innocent person with bile and rubbish being spewed at you. And what does the world see? The world decides that this always happens. Some attention-starved two-bit nobody decided to use you as a pawn to achieve their own fame…and in doing so they made it just a little harder for real victims to come forward with the stories of their abuse.

Because why should we believe them? People lie about abuse. All. The. Time.

I’m sorry that this happened to you, but I hope you know that there are people out there who get where you are coming from. Fans. Regular human beings. People less invested in media drama. And most importantly: your sister.

I hope your book sales are incredible!

Sending you love & luck from a part-time fan!

Nadine Rose Larter