Thursday, December 31, 2015

Did You Ever Have a Family

by Bill Clegg
Dec. 19-22, 2015

I am stunned. That doesn't happen often. My favorite thing is when I can't stop thinking about a book, long after I've turned the last page. This is most certainly one of those. Even more rare, I am contemplating rereading this book SOON. It's short, but I still tore through it in three days. Reading on a beach in Mexico probably played a big part, but it doesn't diminish the beauty that is Did You Ever Have a Family.

Character study achieved to perfection. The first time I cried was on page 61, the next was page 109, then I lost count. By the end I wanted to sob. It's definitely heavy, heavy reading, but worth every word. I simply could not put this book down.
“The world’s magic sneaks up on you in secret, settles next to you when you have your head turned.”
I know it's crazy, but I am speechless. Isn't it funny that I have little say about such an amazing novel? It's kind of pointless to relay the plot, since it's both simple and complicated, and easy to find on the dustcover. But I recommend going in blindly. It makes for a better experience. I can't possibly recommend this book more. Go. Now.

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Monday, December 28, 2015

The Book of Speculation

by Erika Swyler
Nov 6-Dec 15, 2015

Well that was a whole lot of nothin'. Or, more specifically, a whole lot of nothin' disguised as somethin'. Maybe it was the major plot line about some old, sinister tarot cards that turned me off. I'm not a fan of mystics, tarot card readings, horoscopes, etc. But I typically love books about books, about magic, about the beach. Or possibly it was the whiny-as-hell narrator.

I feel like we caught him – Simon – in the midst of his crises. Yes, I know a book has to start somewhere, but I couldn't help but wonder why and how he let his house get in such disrepair that he literally fell through the floor. The house was meant to be a sinister character too, I guess, but it was just silly. And all of a sudden Simon was in an awkward relationship with the girl he grew up with (did I miss the chapter when they slept together?!) Overall, rather clumsy storytelling in my opinion.

Finally, the "slow burn" to the climax was a bit excruciating. It was also pretty predictable and definitely eye-roll-worthy. I was even chanting in my head "seriously, don't do it, don't do it" while reading of Simon's fate. Then lo and behold, a nice big bow wrapped around the whole story. No thanks.

I read that some people were making the suggestion, "If you liked Night Circus, this is better." That sealed it. I wasn't a fan.

There was one small shimmer, way toward the end, that immediately got me out of my comfy reading spot to grab a pen. This quote is gorgeous:

"Once you've held a book and really loved it, you forever remember the feel of it, its specific weight, the way it sits in your hand."

Too bad I didn't feel that way about this book...

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