silverneurotic

An Unpredictable Life by Elaine White

I was diagnosed with Cancer a week before my 16th Birthday. I had Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and had to undergo Chemotherapy and a Stem Cell transplant, back in 2003. My whole life changed. I wrote this book when I was 17, when all my treatment was over, to catalogue everything I had learned and experienced. I had no information about Cancer during my treatment; it was all aimed at adults and I was a teenager who didn't understand most of what happened. So I wrote this book. I was a teenager when I wrote, when I had Cancer and I wanted this to be an information, honest account of what it was really like to have Cancer and go through the treatment....from a teenager's perspective. It's sometimes funny, sometimes sad, always honest. There may be parts that you squint at, because you're embarrassed to read them...well, I was embarrassed writing them. But that's the whole point of honesty. To get it out in the open. To be real. And that's what this is.

 

This was my first pick from Wattpad, and it was what I expected. It was a novice work and it showed. There were many errors, which was very annoying. I was debating whether or not to comment on the story to make some suggestions, but in the end I decided to just let it go. I may message the author later to ask if she would like some editing tips.

 

Despite the errors, I liked the story. I never had cancer and have been fortunate not to have any close family or friends diagnosed but I found it informative yet humorous so that while Elaine White's experience was terrifying she was able to look back in a positive way and for that, I think I would wholeheartedly recommend it to someone who has just been diagnosed. 

Wattpad

Last weekend I discovered Wattpad. So far I've read one story and started reading a second story and while I'm enjoying the site I'm certain that I'm not using it to it's potential. Who else on here uses Wattpad and what do you recommend so I can use Wattpad to it's full potential?

I'm Getting There

I'm finally back. I was in a really odd funk the past month or so...then my laptop cord got chewed...but now I'm back on a tablet and can finally update here.

 

I have way too many books in my backlog to review so I'm not going to bother...instead I'll start with the next book I finish...so be on a lookout for that.

10 Reviews Behind

So I haven't posted here in awhile. I'm 10 books behind in writing reviews. One day I'll get caught up but right now I'm just trying to get caught up with reading. Got three books going at the moment so I better get at it.

In Cold Blood

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote

In Cold Blood is a reread for me. I originally read the book back in college, not far into my short (though inpactful) Truman Capote phase. My friend had given me a Breakfast at Tiffany's teeshirt for Christmas and to my chagrin...I knew next nothing about the movie other than it was based on a story.

 

So I made it my mission to read some Truman Capote. I read the short story collection that contained Breakfast at Tiffany's and then moved on to In Cold Blood.  While I had enjoyed the collection if Capote's short stories...In Cold Blood floor me. Absolutely floored me. It thrilled and chilled me. It was the first narrative non fiction book I had read and until then, I had no idea that the genre had existed. 

 

In Cold Blood changed my life. Not in any dramatic way. I did not go out and kill anyone, nor did I go and become a narrative non fiction writer (yet). But the book did make me view journalism in a different light. For the first time I didn't view journalism as some dry, fact heavy, news storiesw found in newspapers and magazines. It was just a new way of telling a story...a new way of reading. And it made me into a life long fan of Truman Capote. A writer whom was tragically omitted from  my high school and college education.

 

I have sense learned a bit more about Truman Capote and the writing of In Cold Blood. I am no longer confident in the book as I was before...but this second reading was no less enjoyable (if one can say this book is enjoyable). The second time around I knew there was liberties taken. I knew that there was probably quite a bit made up but I still found myself completely taken over by the story and completely in love with Capote's writing and story telling ability. I did not care what was true or tweaked. I was just enthralled. 

 

Now I need to revisit Truman Capote and read all I missed the first time around.

The Weird Sisters

The Weird Sisters - Eleanor Brown

There is no problem that a library card can't solve. 

The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there. 

See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much.

But the sisters soon discover that everything they've been running from -- one another, their small hometown, and themselves -- might offer more than they ever expected

 

I was ambivalent about The Weird Sisters. I liked it, as I like almost all stories about families and siblings. I liked the characters, despite their fatal flaws. I even liked the Shakespearean quotes littered throughout, even despite the fact I don't really care for Shakespeare. 

 

I did find some weird components however. Components that I didn't quite hate...but found odd. The most notable was the narration. Through most of the book, there was a standard third person narration going which flipped between each sister's viewpoint. But then the narration would switch to the three sisters, narrating together. It was odd, and while unique...I found it distracting. The first time or so it happened...I became confused and I sort of thought that the narrators were the Three Witches from MacBeth...the namesake of the novel. 

 

Then there was the reading...which, as a bookworm I couldn't help but applaud. I love when fictional characters are bookworms...however, none of the books that the girls read throughout the novel are named. As a book lover, I found this extremely disappointing. It would be like turning on The Food Network to watch them make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

 

I liked this book, but it was not my favorite. I liked that Eleanor Brown attempted to use some unique elements in the book, although I didn't think they worked very well. 

The Biology of Luck

The Biology of Luck - Jacob M. Appel

Odd-job queen Starshine Hart is about to go on somebody else’s perfect date. At 29, the usually carefree Starshine has realized that it is easier to start sleeping with a man than to stop. Her lovers include one of the last underground members of the Weathermen and the dilettante heir to a lawn chair magnate. Both men have staked their romantic future on her. Her only respite is her impending dinner with the nonthreatening but unattractive tour guide Larry Bloom. But Larry, too, has a stake in her future. He has written a book about their impending dinner in which he fantasizes about Starshine’s life on the day he wins her heart. Juxtaposing moments from Larry’s guided tour of New York City on the June day of his “dream date” with excerpts from the novel in which he imagines Starshine’s concurrent escapades, this inventive structure weaves a highly imaginative love story across all five boroughs. Provocative, funny, and keenly observed, an imagined pilgrimage through the underbelly of Gotham becomes a bold new voice in contemporary American fiction.

 

I received a copy of this book through a giveaway on Booklikes.

 

Before you read my review, make sure you read the summary. I'll wait...

 

 

Okay...the summary is probably all you need to read. I was expecting so much more based on this, but I found Biology of Luck to be...well, dreadful. 

 

I can't even figure out what was so particularly bad about this book. Usually when I read a book I truly dislike, I know exactly why I dislike it. With Biology of Luck, I cannot point to a single moment when I realized that this was a mistake. Maybe even at the first page.

 

I thought it was boring. I thought that Appel was trying way too hard to write a New York City novel. Starshine and Larry just felt overindulgent characters in Appel's imagination. They were not real, at all. There was absolutely no way to sympathize, empathize or even relate to them. They were shallow caricatures. 

 

I'm not sure how, or why I finished this to be honest. 

The Interestings

The Interestings: A Novel - Meg Wolitzer

The summer that Nixon resigns, six teenagers at a summer camp for the arts become inseparable. Decades later the bond remains powerful, but so much else has changed. In The Interestings, Wolitzer follows these characters from the height of youth through middle age, as their talents, fortunes, and degrees of satisfaction diverge.

The kind of creativity that is rewarded at age fifteen is not always enough to propel someone through life at age thirty; not everyone can sustain, in adulthood, what seemed so special in adolescence. Jules Jacobson, an aspiring comic actress, eventually resigns herself to a more practical occupation and lifestyle. Her friend Jonah, a gifted musician, stops playing the guitar and becomes an engineer. But Ethan and Ash, Jules’s now-married best friends, become shockingly successful—true to their initial artistic dreams, with the wealth and access that allow those dreams to keep expanding. The friendships endure and even prosper, but also underscore the differences in their fates, in what their talents have become and the shapes their lives have taken.

Wide in scope, ambitious, and populated by complex characters who come together and apart in a changing New York City, The Interestings explores the meaning of talent; the nature of envy; the roles of class, art, money, and power; and how all of it can shift and tilt precipitously over the course of a friendship and a life.

 

It has been a few weeks, and several books since I finished The Interestings. A lot of the more intricate details have been lost, I can't recall character names without looking them up...but the plot and general feelings about the book has been left intact. 

 

This novel is one of those that you cannot read unless you allow yourself to become fully immersed in the story. With six major characters, it's easy to lose track of everything unless you are paying close attention. 

 

Reading this was both heartbreaking and funny. Jules, the protagonist through much of the novel has a quiet wittiness which I fully enjoyed...in a book full of characters that while "interesting" and friendly enough, Jules was the character that was the easiest to relate to. 

 

I wish I could go more into depth with this review, but I do try to keep my reviews spoiler free as much as I can so I'll end here.

Harry Potter and the Art of Spying (DNF)

Harry Potter and the Art of Spying - Lynn M. Boughey, Peter Earnest

The Harry Potter series is more than just a story about a young wizard who saves the world from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The seven-book saga is an excellent primer on spying, intelligence, and politics. Join spy novelist Lynn Boughey and thirty-six-year CIA veteran and executive director of the International Spy Museum Peter Earnest as they review the spy craft employed and celebrated in J.K. Rowling's bestselling books. From the invisibility cloak to house passwords to Fred and George Weasley's Extendable Ears, "Harry Potter & the Art of Spying" is full of spy lessons for the secret-agent-in-training in the Muggle realm. Learn how to break secret codes, gather intelligence, read character's motives, and why Severus Snape is the best double agent ever.

 

I generously received a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

I love the Harry Potter series; I began reading the series when I was 19 years old and since then have read each book a minimum of two times...most of the time, more than that. I get excited whenever I'm reading a book or watching a show or movie and there is a reference to HP. 

 

So obviously I was extremely excited to get my hands on this book. I immediately began reading it and within a few pages, my excitement turned to annoyance and then to boredom.

 

The annoyance was caused mostly by the excessive use of the exclamation point. This is a serious pet peeve of mine. There is no reason to use it more than one time per page...and even then it's still too much. Nearly every other sentence ended with an exclamation point. It was exhausting to read. I felt like I was being shouted at.

 

Then the boredom set it when I realized that the first half (plus) was dedicated to a single novel in the series. The authors proceeded to tear apart the novel page by page and analyze it in spy speak. By the time they got around to even mentioning any of the other books in the series, I was finished. I had no desire to read more of the book. I had gotten way too bogged down by the page by page commentary of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. 

 

I tried taking a break and coming back to finish this up but after the second attempt at this, I realized that it was not worth it. Somehow the authors managed to take one of my favorite series of books and completely ruin the magic of them for me.

The Dinner

The Dinner - Herman Koch, Sam Garrett

A summer's evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness - the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened... Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. Together, the boys have committed a horrifying act, caught on camera, and their grainy images have been beamed into living rooms across the nation; despite a police manhunt, the boys remain unidentified - by everyone except their parents. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love.

 

The Dinner was a disappointment. I had been looking forward to reading this novel for several months, it just sounded so creepy that I was sure I was going to get sucked into it like I got sucked into Night Film.

 

I think that The Dinner failed on three levels. It failed to engage, there were no sympathetic characters and it dragged.

 

For me to truly enjoy a book, any book...I need to feel as though I am in the story, either as an observer or an active participant. To do this, I need to be able to "see" what's going on. I need details, even if they are minor. I need to know back stories. Herman Koch is a coy story teller. He purposely leaves out identifying landmarks, details about the character's back stories. The audience is held at an arms length, and so I stayed impartial. At first I tried to fill in those details, in an attempt to get into the story...but after awhile I gave up. By the time I reached the end and the big reveal...I just did not care.

 

Another way for me to enjoy a story, is to give me a character to root for. I don't have to like that character, but despite their flaws and unlikable qualities...there still needs to be a reason to want that character to succeed (even if they succeed in failing). There were no such characters in The Dinner. They were bland or plain did not have any redeeming qualities. I wanted to like them, or love to hate them...but I just couldn't find myself caring a about them one way or another. 

 

Finally, the story itself dragged. For a writer who was so coy about leaving out identifying details, this story took it's sweet time getting to the climax. By the time I got to the climax  I just could not muster up the proper feelings to be shocked or horrified. I could only ask myself whether I was suppose to care.

 

While writing this review, I debated with myself whether to give this book two or three stars. My first reaction was to give this three stars, as on the surface, it seemed like a decent book. I've read some truly dreadful books that I normally reserve one or two stars for...but as I wrote this review and realized just how far connected I felt...I realized that although on a technical level this was a solid three star read...however, on a personal level it failed so just could not justify giving it three stars.

If You Were Here

If You Were Here - Jen Lancaster

If You Were Here follows Amish-zombie-teen- romance author Mia and her husband Mac (and their pets) through the alternately frustrating, exciting, terrifying-but always funny-process of buying and renovating their first home in the Chicago suburbs that John hughes's movies made famous. Along their harrowing renovation journey, Mia and Mac get caught up in various wars with the homeowners' association, meet some less-than-friendly neighbors, and are joined by a hilarious cast of supporting characters, including a celebutard ex- landlady. As they struggle to adapt to their new surroundings- with Mac taking on the renovations himself- Mia and Mac will discover if their marriage is strong enough to survive months of DIY renovations. 

 

Earlier this year. I read Jen Lancaster's fiction novel Twisted Sisters and swore I'd never read another fiction novel by Lancaster. Memoirs yes, fiction, no. That lasted until I came across this novel at Goodwill and broke down and bought it.

 

I'm very glad I went back on this particular promise. This book was hilarious and I was reminded (again) just how funny Jen Lancaster can be. I think that it helps that with this novel (compared to Twisted Sisters), Lancaster was able to write it much like she would have written one of her memoirs, complete with footnotes. While some of the book was clearly fiction...there is a lot that I'm sure Lancaster borrowed from her real life experiences in moving to the suburbs. 

 

I'm hard pressed to find anything I didn't particularly like about this novel, though I have to admit that not long after reading this...I had a baffling nightmare about zombies...which I could only trace to this book. 

 

I'm still not convinced to read more of Lancaster's novels, but it did give me a renewed interest in reading her memoirs as I'm two or three books behind.

Ape House

Ape House - Sara Gruen

Sam, Bonzi, Lola, Mbongo, Jelani, and Makena are no ordinary apes. These bonobos, like others of their species, are capable of reason and carrying on deep relationships - but unlike most bonobos, they also know American Sign Language.Isabel Duncan, a scientist at the Great Ape Language Lab, doesn't understand people, but animals she gets - especially the bonobos. Isabel feels more comfortable in their world than she's ever felt among humans… until she meets John Thigpen, a very married reporter who braves the ever-present animal rights protesters outside the lab to see what's really going on inside.When an explosion rocks the lab, severely injuring Isabel and "liberating" the apes, John's human interest piece turns into the story of a lifetime, one he'll risk his career and his marriage to follow. Then a reality TV show featuring the missing apes debuts under mysterious circumstances, and it immediately becomes the biggest - and unlikeliest - phenomenon in the history of modern media. Millions of fans are glued to their screens watching the apes order greasy take-out, have generous amounts of sex, and sign for Isabel to come get them. Now, to save her family of apes from this parody of human life, Isabel must connect with her own kind, including John, a green-haired vegan, and a retired porn star with her own agenda.Ape House delivers great entertainment, but it also opens the animal world to us in ways few novels have done, securing Sara Gruen's place as a master storyteller who allows us to see ourselves as we never have before. 

 

I came into Ape House knowing that it was not going to be another Water for Elephants (which I loved). I had seen enough reviews to know that. Still, I found myself drawn into the book...at least for the first half or so. Then, the whole thing fell apart.

 

I was really enjoying the main plot and the major characters. At first it felt as though that story was tight, and I was very eager to continue to read on to find out how the story was going to progress...but then I found myself lagging as subplots and minor characters littered the scene. It was distracting. I still kind of knew who the main players were, and the main plot but I was continuously torn to focus on subplots and throwaway characters who had no business being part of the story.

 

It was an entertaining read, and I enjoyed the book so it gained three stars from me so it managed to accomplish that...but I definitely was not impressed.

Chocolates for Breakfast

Chocolates for Breakfast - Pamela Moore

Considered America’s answer to the French sensation BONJOUR TRISTESSE (also published by Harper Perennial), CHOCOLATES FOR BREAKFAST follows Courtney Farrell, a classic disaffected, sexually precocious fifteen year old. Courtney splits her time between Manhattan, where her father works in publishing, and Los Angeles, where her mother is an aging actress. This wild coming-of-age story, scandalous in its day, is also the story of Courtney’s close and ultimately tragic friendship with her boarding school roommate Janet Parker.

Pamela Moore, who went on to publish four other novels, committed suicide in 1964 when she was twenty-six. Her son, Kevin Kanarek, is in charge of the estate. Eager to see this book come back into print, he sought advice from his former French and Latin student, the writer Emma Straub, who put him in touch with her agent Jenni Ferrari-Adler, who was immediately captivated by the novel, as was the Harper Perennial team.

 

I'm not sure what to think of this book. I didn't particularly like it, nor did I dislike it. Thinking back, it almost reminds me of a female version of The Catcher in the Rye, but it might just be due to the setting and protagonists that are of similar age and backgrounds.

 

It's a good coming of age novel, or would be appealing to one who is interested in the 1950's.

One Summer

One Summer - David Baldacci

It's almost Christmas, but there is no joy in the house of terminally ill Jack and his family. With only a short time left to live, he spends his last days preparing to say goodbye to his devoted wife, Lizzie, and their three children. Then, unthinkably, tragedy strikes again: Lizzie is killed in a car accident. With no one able to care for them, the children are separated from each other and sent to live with family members around the country. Just when all seems lost, Jack begins to recover in a miraculous turn of events. He rises from what should have been his deathbed, determined to bring his fractured family back together. Struggling to rebuild their lives after Lizzie's death, he reunites everyone at Lizzie's childhood home on the oceanfront in South Carolina. And there, over one unforgettable summer, Jack will begin to learn to love again, and he and his children will learn how to become a family once more.

 

This book has been on my radar for awhile now, so it was disappointing to finally read it and realize it was not good. I hadn't read anything else by the author, so I didn't realize that this author doesn't normally write the types of stories that One Summer tried to be.

 

For the most part, I found this book to be boring. Even though the book tried to be heartbreaking and stirring, I realized that this novel contained none of the elements to make this novel what it promised to be. Flat characters, cliched plots. Absolutely nothing redeemed this book.

 

My only consolation was that it was a library book so once I finished it I was able to drop it off and forget about it.

Night Film

Night Film - Marisha Pessl

Everybody has a Cordova story. Cult horror director Stanislas Cordova hasn't been seen in public since 1977. To his fans he is an engima. To journalist Scott McGrath he is the enemy. To Ashley he was a father.

On a damp October night the body of young, beautiful Ashley Cordova is found in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Her suicide appears to be the latest tragedy to hit a severely cursed dynasty.

For McGrath, another death connected to the legendary director seems more than a coincidence. Driven by revenge, curiosity and a need for the truth, he finds himself pulled into a hypnotic, disorientating world, where almost everyone seems afraid.
The last time McGrath got close to exposing Cordova, he lost his marriage and his career. This time he could lost his grip on reality.

ONCE WE FACE OUR DEEPEST FEARS, WHAT LIES ON THE OTHER SIDE?

 

I read Marisha Pessl's Special Topics in Calamity Physics years ago, and although I admired the uniqueness of that particular novel...it was not one that I truly enjoyed. Night Film however...just very well may be the best psychological horror novel I've read to date.

 

Have you ever read a book that completely took over your life? As in, all your free waking thoughts, and all your sleeping thoughts are dedicated to trying to unravel the intricate mystery that you are reading. Night Film was that book for me...and even weeks later, I am still trying to make sense of what I read, I am still trying to come up with answers.

 

This book scared me, because of how much it drew me into it's "pages" and took over so much of my thoughts. As I read, I was constantly losing my grip on reality and had to keep reminding myself that what I was reading was fiction, that the characters were not real. That Cordova was just a figment of someone else's imagination. The book felt so real to me and I just could not convince myself that this was not real.

 

Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year possibly of all time. 

Cinder

Cinder - Marissa Meyer

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

 

I picked this title mostly because I had heard so many people rave about the series and it was cheap.

 

I enjoyed this. I don't think I'll continue on with the series as it wasn't exactly the type of book I normally read, and there are entirely too many books I'd rather invest my time in but it was definitely a nice change of pace.

 

It's been awhile since I read this, so the details are fussy in my mind, therefore I am having trouble remembering exactly what I liked and did not like. I do kind of remember that I felt as though there were too many details left out of this book..so it was a bit confusing at times. I'm sure by the end of the trilogy everything is cleared up. I did like the futuristic twist of Cinderella. Not my favorite fairy tale, but it was kind of fun to see how the fairy tale was twisted around. 

 

Cinder was a solid book and a good start to a trilogy but probably not one I would attempt to follow unless I pick them up at a library.