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Kwoomac

Kwoomac

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Slam
Nick Hornby
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
Erik Larson
Heavenly Hydrangeas: A Practical Guide for the Home Gardener
Joan Harrison
The Uninvited Guests
Sadie Jones
Colin Fischer - Ashley Edward Miller, Zack Stentz

w/13589178-colin-fischer" style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img alt="Colin Fischer" border="0" src="https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1340060130m/13589178.jpg" /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13589178-colin-fischer">Colin Fischer</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5811033.Ashley_Edward_Miller">Ashley Edward Miller</a><br/>
My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/818385745">4 of 5 stars</a><br /><br />
Colin Fischer, our titular hero, has Asberger's syndrome, which falls on the autism spectrum. He's high functioning, very analytical, with an IQ between 155 and 180. Colin has just started high school, he has been with a lot of the same kids since grade school. On the first day of school, Wayne Connelly, someone who has been bullying Colin since first grade, sticks Colin's head in a toilet.(This shows up a lot in YA books and I really hope it's not something that actually happens. The combination of feeling like you can't catch your breath combined with it being a public toilet freaks me out every time.)So, welcome to high school.<br><br>In this story, which I'm hoping is the first of many, a gun goes off during a scuffle in the school cafeteria. No one is injured. Wayne is automatically accused of the crime and is suspended. Due to his attention to detail, Colin knows Wayne can't be the owner of the gun. So he decides to figure out what really happened. Adventure ensues. <br><br>One part of the story I particularly liked was his interactions with the school principal, Dr. Doran. Even when she knows he's right, she doesn't encourage Colin in his role as detective. In fact, he gets detention for breaking some rules along the way. He also has a conflicted relationship with his younger brother, Danny,who has no patience for Colin. Again, I found this to feel very real. I don't imagine sibs are always thrilled living with someone with Asberger's. While I found Colin to very charming on paper, regular interactions with him would be draining. I'd like to think I wouldn't be as mean as Danny.  <br><br>Colin carries a notebook around with him where he logs everything that happens during the day and reviews is later to make sense of his world. The author includes snippets from the notebook, so the reader has a chance to get inside Colin's head. Nicely done. The reader gets to feel a connection to Colin and his thought processes, without spending too much time there. <br><br>While Colin did solve his mystery, there were lots of storylines left unfinished. I hope this means there'll be more. I was disappointed with the book's title, sadly unimaginative. With two authors, you'd think they could've come up with something.  <br><br>
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Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door - Lynne Truss

Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the DoorTalk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door by Lynne Truss

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


From the author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to PunctuationThis was her follow up. It was okay but there really wasn't enough material for a whole book. Should've just been a clever(if occasionally whiny) article. So rather than a review, I'm just going to share my own thoughts on rudeness, society, and other things.

In my neighborhood, there is a small business whose name is based on that lovely saying, "Talk to the hand." Think a bakery called 'Talk to the Flan' or a deli 'Talk to the Ham' Why? Why would a business owner want to give the impression that she was rude and didn't care about her customers? We'll see how long she lasts, it's been at least two years now.

In my mother's high school yearbook, there was a section under each grad's picture where they got to list their pet peeves. I'm hoping there was more than that but I don't remember anything else. My sibs and I loved reading the ridiculous things that bothered these old fogies. We wee probably 8-9-10ish at the time. Now I'm embarrassed to admit, I often start conversations with, "Know what my pet peeve is?" It's probably a pet peeve of my friends that I do this.

I was at the grocery store and the ringer upper and the bagger were having a conversation as if I weren't standing right there. (pet peeve).They were talking about how hot some famous guy was. They then went on to describe what they would do with said hot guy if they got their hands on him. Nice. Since I was standing right there, I figured I was included in this conversation so I asked the if they knew whether the guy was nice. What? They looked at me with confused faces. Speaking more slowly as this was obviously a difficult concept for either to grasp, I asked again if he was a nice person how did he treat women? After an awkward pause, they went back to their fantasies. Oh well, I tried.

"Click it or ticket." I hate seeing these signs on the highway. Surely they could come up with a nicer way to remind people to wear their seatbelts.

That's it for now.





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Roomies - Sara Zarr, Tara Altebrando

RoomiesRoomies by Sara Zarr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Story of two girls and their experiences the final summer before going off to college. Really brought me back to that summer. Perfect angsty time. Endings and beginnings. I remember signing everyone's yearbook, "Have a nice life" or something equally cool and dismissive. I knew I wouldn't see most of my classmates again (the school was not in my part of town, and I generally didn't see anyone outside of school)School friends and home friends.

I loved the author's depiction of the parents. Definitely less than perfect. They were real. The parents had their own angst about their daughters leaving home. I'm pretty sure my father did not go through any of that. There were definitely no tears. He dropped me off at my apartment and said, "okay, see you at Thanksgiving".Probably where I got my have-a-nice-life attitude from. Maybe parents nowadays are more in touch with their feelings.

So, I really loved both these girls, EB and Lauren. After learning that they will be rooming together at school, they begin emailing each other. The emails were heartbreaking, funny, perfect. They would share too much, take a step back, regret, sulk, get angry, forgive, and then do it all again. Loved it.



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The View from Penthouse B - Elinor Lipman

Not a lot happening here. I kept thinking this should be funnier, maybe if written by Nora Ephron or Helen Fielding.i It was more of a cozy story about sisters recovering from some tough times by moving in together and finding out how to let go of the past (one was angry, one depressed), appreciate the present, and look forward to the future. 

 

I thought the book was unfocused. Lippmann went into a lot of detail about the internet dating services. Then went back to the sisters' daily life. It didn't feel balanced to me. Too much of one thing, not enough of the other.

 

What  was lacking in story, Lipman made up for with interesting characters. I liked them. The women were survivors without being all, "I'm a survivor." Just regular women trying to move on. I really liked Anthony and Chaz. Charles-not so much. I know for a fact I would not forgive that guy! 

More Than This - Patrick Ness I love Patrick Ness. This is typically what it feels like: His mind isn't clear. It races and throbs like the worst kind of fever, and he is unaware of even thinking. It's more some kind of wild, dying instinct, a terror of what's to come, a horror of what's happened." While these are Ness's words describing one of his characters, to me, he was describing how I feel when I read one of his books. Chewed up and spit out. One goodreader calls it "Nessochism." Forgive me for not crediting whomever thought of it, but I couldn't find the review when I looked for it. Nessochism is the perfect word-it hurts but you enjoy it.

I'm not quite sure how to describe the book without spoiling things. It reminded me of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". I love that movie, but sometimes it made my head hurt-wait a minute, where are we? When is this happening? It also reminded me of the movie "Wristcutters: A Love Story" . Terrible title, great movie in a whacked out kind of way. Tom Waits is in it, enough said. So, this story takes place in a kind of limbo where you don't know what 's real and what's imagined.

I have to admit, I didn't love Seth. I found him to be a bit too self-involved and whiny. The other characters, Regine and Tomasz, were far more endearing. Until they entered the picture, not until p. 167, I was getting a little bored. But then we meet Regine and Tomasz. I dare you to read this and not fall a little in love with Tomasz.

I was really happy with the ending. I thought Ness handled it perfectly.
Dear Mr. Henshaw - Paul O. Zelinsky, Beverly Cleary I picked this book up because I recently read some author's bio and he/ she said this book was influential in their lives. Unfortunately, I don't remember who the author was or the particular significance. A sweet story but not life-changing for me.

The premise is a school-aged boy writes to his favorite author. He also keeps a diary, with his thoughts written in the form of more letters to the author, Mr. Henshaw. Henshaw's role in all this is fairly minimal. Most of the meat of the story is when the boy Leigh starts writing about what's going on in his life. What's going on is his parents divorce. Leigh's father is a long-distance trucker who is never around. Leigh's mother divorces him because he's more in love with his life on the road than with his family.

I'd love to hear what a ten-twelve year old thought of the whole divorce situation. To me, it seemed like Dad's life on the road was way more fun and mother was home working a million hours and barely scraping by. Even the pictures in the book were skewed this way. Dad looks young and vibrant while Mom looks tired and dowdy.

Throughout the read, I kept comparing it to [b:Love That Dog|53498|Love That Dog|Sharon Creech|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1349043084s/53498.jpg|984829], which is one of my favorites. I can read it over and over and it makes me cry every time. This book didn't elicit any strong feelings from me, even when the dog was missing! Good but not great.
The End of Everything - Megan Abbott Ca-reep-y! I 'm sure I said after reading Dare Me and I'll say it again. Megan Abbott gets teenage girls. The recklessness, the self-involvement, the teenage-girlishness. The main characters are two thirteen-year-old girls. There's Lizzie, who lives with her older brother and divorced mother. No Dad in the picture. Her mother does have a new beau who visits her late at night, sneaking in and out while the kids (supposedly) sleep. He's not part of Lizzie's life. Evie lives next door. They've been best friends forever. Evie has an older sister Dusty, a father who adores Dusty and pretty much ignores Evie, and a distant, practically invisible Mom. The two girls walking that tightrope, not little girls anymore but not quite women. They've lost one role but haven't gained a new one. This story is about how the girls handle being in this very difficult place.

It's all about flirtations between teens and adults. Figuring out who has the power. Actually, it reminds me of a book I read recently, The Hummingbirds by Joshua Gaylord, who just happens to be Abbott's husband. So, anyway, I remember being thirteen. Once, one of my father's friends drove me home from a party and there was definitely something flirty going on. Another thing. It was always a little uncomfortable when the dad would walk me home after a babysitting gig. He'd often be at least a little tipsy. Never let the dad take the babysitter home!!!!! I definitely had a crush on my friend's father. He was so handsome. I'm sure he knew about the crush but he was never anything other than fatherly so it never got creepy. But it can, it does. And it did in this book.

The whole time I was reading, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. There was just this pervasive feeling of ickyness. Okay, we know something bad is going on, but is something worse going to happen? Abbott kept me glued to the pages late at night 'til I was done. I just* had to finish it. I love that feeling. Well done Megan Abbott! But then I was done...now what?

* this has nothing to do with the story but when I just typed "just" auto-correct changed it to Ustinov! I Ustinov had to finish it! Well done auto-correct! That sounds so much more insistent.
Crampton Hodnet - Barbara Pym The story was promising but not exactly what I was hoping for. The book title comes from a situation where the curate of the village North Oxford must explain to the vicar's wife why he missed evensong. While he had in fact been wandering the countryside with his friend Miss Morrow, he decided to tell Mrs. Wardell that he was visiting a sick friend in Crampton Hodnet (a village Miss Morrow believes he made up on the spot). I thought the village name was perfect. So proper, nothing untoward could happen in Crampton Hodnet. Quite happy with this development, I thought we were going to be exposed to a "Bunbury" situation where Crampton Hodnet is used frequently to get the curate out of a jam. No such luck. This is the only time the village is mentioned. Odd then that it is the title of the book.

The story takes place in and around the village of North Oxford. The Cleveland family make up three of the main characters. Mr. Cleveland is a middle-aged college professor who thinks he's in love with one of his students. Mrs. Cleveland spends all her energy running the household and enjoys her husband's lack of attention. Daughter Anthea is 20 and regularly falls in love with one of this year's crop of new students at the local college. The Clevelands are a silly upper class family who are unsure how to find happiness, or realize they have found it, as they stumble through their lives.

As with any small town, everyone is involved in everyone else's business and the highlight of many a resident's day is to be the one to expose the latest scandal. Pym did a great job creating the many characters who make up the village of North Oxford.

In addition to the whole Cleveland storyline, we also follow the new curate, Mr. Latimer, who takes up residence with the elderly and forceful Miss Dogett (Cleveland's aunt) and her thirty-something-year-old companion Miss Morrow. There are hints of a scandal in Mr. Latimer's past but no details. While most of the women of the village swoon at the sight of the handsome young curate, Miss Morrow is impervious to his charms. They strike up a very nice friendship. Mr. Latimer is the only one who treats her as an equal, while the rest if the village see her as just another of Miss Dogett's appendages. I was really hoping for more from this relationship as I enjoyed the scenes involving these two. After Latimer bumbles his way through a half-hearted marriage proposal, which Miss Morrow declines, the relationship peters out. I wasn't exactly looking for a Mr. Darcy/ Elizabeth Bennett type resolution. Just more of their interesting back and forth conversations, filled with innuendo going over the other villagers' heads. I really wanted Miss Morrow to have something that was just hers. Together they seemed better than the smallness of the village. So when Mr. Latimer comes home from his holiday in love with a 19-year-old girl, I was disappointed. Disappointed in him, yes, but more disappointed in Pym for wrapping things up a little too neatly..

I wanted a little more farce but was happy enough with this gentle comedy of manners. More Pym for me.
The Haunted Bookshop - Christopher Morley This book is a follow up to Morley's Parnassus on Wheels. Here rather than a traveling bookshop, the setting is a bricks and mortar shop in Brooklyn. I was definitely disappointed with this second book, starring the same characters. Where the first book made no mention of WWI, this book beat me over the head with it. It was written in 1919. Lots of lecturing by Roger Mifflin, the protag of Parnassus. The tone is very anti-German. Where I found Mifflin to be lovable and passionate and maybe a tad eccentric in Parnassus, here I found him to be a long-winded bore. I felt like I was trapped in a room with a boring history professor. There was no way for me to escape. I have found I can't generally skim because I'm sure I'll miss something critical (unless it's gory, then I skip away), so I slogged through many speeches on war. I kept chanting as I read along: two stars, two stars, two stars. The author had a section about the masks we wear around others, always hiding our true selves. I felt like he was trying too hard and should've stuck to the lighter tone of Parnassus.

Then, the focus moved from Mifflin to our hero, Aubrey Gilbert. Aubrey has romantic feelings for Titania, the beautiful young woman working in Mifflin's shop. Aubrey is sure there's something underhanded and possibly dangerous going on in the bookstore , so he decides to investigate before anyone (Titania) gets hurt. Aubrey works at an advertising agency, and he can't seem to turn off that part if his brain. In every situation, he thought of a way to sell a product. I quite enjoyed those bits. That part of the story was fun and earned it another star.

Back to what I didn't like.I hated the treatment of the dog Bock in both books. In Parnassus, Mifflin sells his bookmobile to Helen McGill, including his horse and dog. Okay, I'm not a horse person, so I could kind of see that he considered the horse a working animal needed to pull the caravan but to just give away a dog you've had for ten years! Ten years! And he gives him away to a stranger!

Maybe I'm taking this too personally. A few years ago, I saw a picture of a grizzled old chocolate lab in the local paper. He was ten years old and free for adoption. I took one look at those sad brown eyes and knew I had to have him. My husband was less sure. We had another lab and two cats already. When I called to get the story on Bodhi, I was told the owners were a young couple who were moving to Florida. They took Bodhi's 11-year-old mother with them and brought Bodhi to the pound. Separated him from his mother! Once my husband heard that, it was a done deal. Bodhi was the best dog ever! We only had him for three short years, but it was the best decision ever. My sweet Bodhi boy.

So anyway, back to the book. It bothered me that he just gave Bock away in Parnassus. Regarding the second book, let's just say I was not happy with Bock's role.

On a positive and final note, I learned a new word, always fun. A librocubicularist is someone who reads in bed! That's me!
The Boyfriend - Thomas Perry This is the second book in Perry's serIes with private detective Jack Till. Good story that kept me interested. Till has been hired to find the killer of his client's daughter. As he researches the case, he learns that the guy who killed this woman is in fact a serial killer with a pattern of killing female escorts with the same physical description. No police have noticed the pattern because the women live in big cities all over the country.

I loved Perry's Jane Whitefield series. I was fascinated by the level of detail she went into when planning to relocate one of her clients. I think I might do okay if for some reason I had to disappear. In this Jack Till book, Perry goes into excruciating detail when talking about weaponry. We hear all about the different guns he and the serial killer favor, their range, how to shoot them, and much more. Details about cartridges. If you're into weapons, you may find this interesting but it was information overload for me. I'm sure Perry did his research but I really didn't want to hear about it.

Interesting thriller. Quick read. Summer fun.
Parnassus on Wheels - Christopher Morley This book was written in 1917. WWI was in full swing but this gentle novel makes no mention of it. Perhaps the author wanted to give his audience a way to escape the violence and horror they were dealing with. The biggest worries in this book were hobos and light rain. It worked for me. It was a cozy, feel-good story.

Roger Mifflin is a traveling book salesman. He drives around in a horse-drawn caravan, accompanied by his trusty dog Bock. Anyone who loves books will fall in love with Mifflin. At least with Mifflin's mind, I picture him looking a bit like a leprechaun. He is a true book lover and wants everyone he meets to find just the book that will transform them to a book lover. It was fun to fantasize about a life on the road, going wherever you want, where all you do is talk books, books, books. What's not to love! When Mifflin decides he's had enough if the rambling road, he decides to sell Parnassus. Adventure ensues.
Afterburn - Sylvia Day I'm hoping someone will read this book because I know the reviews will be entertaining! Please, anyone?
Hummingbirds - Joshua Gaylord I just learned that Joshua Gaylord and Alden Bell are one and the same. This is way different from zombies but I have to check it out.

Okay, so now I've read it. It's possible I would have given this book 4 stars if I weren't reading it on the heels of Exit Kingdom by Alden Bell. I could find no commonalities in writing style between the two. Gaylord said as much in a review. He took on the name Alden Bell when he wrote The Reapers... because he knew he was writing for a different audience. Fans of Joshua Gaylord may not be fans of Alden Bell.

The author is a teacher at a private girls high school on the Upper East Side. The story takes place in a fictional private girls high school. I really don't know how male teachers manage the girls, who are practicing their flirting and trying to exert power over the males in their life. When I was in high school, an all girls high school, I had a math teacher who was fresh out of college. He asked us to call him Mr. Saff because he had a long unpronounceable name. He was young and cool and probably a little flirty. At least half the girls I knew had a crush on him ( including me) and looked for reasons to talk to him after class. Anyway, he was not invited back at the end of the school year. I don't know if anything happened or if the administration was afraid something might happen.

This story involves teachers and students trying to maneuver their way through a difficult place. Two teachers. Leo binhammer has always been the only young hip teacher and the girls are all half in love with him. Along comes new teacher Ted Hughes. Leo can feel the girls transferring their crushed to Hughes do he ups his own flirtatious behavior. No good can come of this. To complicate things further, Leo's wife had a short-lived fling with Hughes while away at a conference two years ago. Leo wants to hate acted, but he also finds himself failing under Ted's spell.

Obviously, Gaylord knows teenage girls and has created some very real characters here.
Drinking Closer to Home (P.S.) - Jessica Anya Blau Story of three adult siblings who come together to visit their mother in the hospital after she has a serious heart attack. It's a wacky family and I was thankful over and over for my (somewhat) less crazy childhood. At times the reminiscing might seem over the top but, in fact, I went to high school with a girl whose family was pretty similar. *Also, see below. Here, the mother gets tired of being a parent, so she "quits" being a mother and spends all her time secluded in her studio, getting high and creating art. The father works long hours, leaving the three kids to raise themselves. My friend's parents were consciously choosing to raise their kids differently from their overly strict upbringing. As a result, the kids had their own apartment in the same building as parents did ( and they never invaded the kids' privacy!). Needless to say, there were some crazy times at the kids' apartment. There was an intercom system connecting the two should the kids need to talk to their parents. They needed to be at dinner every night at the parents', unless they had informed them earlier in the day ( I forget the cutoff time) so they could adjust the amt of food being prepared. That's the only rule I remember!

*While I was reading this, I sometimes felt like there were inconsistencies between the characters as children compared to as adults. After I finished, I read that this was a fairly autobiographical story of the author and her sibs' own childhood.

The title comes from an incident in the narrator's mother's own life. I'm hoping this isn't based on author's mother's own upbringing. Her parents were out drinking in a bar all night and realized they were too drunk to drive home. The next morning they remembered the baby was in the car and had to bring her to the hospital to deal with exposure, as it was winter.The lesson they took away from this disastrous event: drink closer to home! A cast of crazy characters I enjoyed spending some time with.
Big Plans - Bob Shea, Lane Smith I am sad. Very sad. This book has almost all 4 and 5 star reviews. People want to marry this book. Not so me. It starts off great. The kid is sitting in the corner doing time. The chalk board clues us in to why he's in trouble. "I will not roll my eyes. I will not scheme in class. What I say does not go. I am not the boss of the class. I will not laugh when others speak. It's nice to be important but more important to be nice. I will not prove the teacher wrong. At first, I'm like "I love this kid!" Yay, question authority! Free to be...you and me! But then I was like "why is he laughing at the other kids? Why does he need a reminder to be nice? " Not cool, kid!

As the kid sits in his chair, supposedly rethinking his bad choices, he's actually making big plans. He accomplishes his big plans by bullying others. He's loud, he's angry and he's bossy. It is true I'm not the intended audience and teachers seem to love this book.

So what do I know!?
Do Not Disturb (A Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery) - Kate Kingsbury There's a website called bookbub.com where you can get kindle books for free. Free books! When I first signed up, I went a little crazy and downloaded every book they sent me. So, this is one of them You get what you pay for. Mediocre mystery where very little happens. No suspense. The characters were so similar that I kept mixing them up. And the red herring! : the widow who keeps her face hidden behind a veil. She has huge hands, huge feet, and is super strong. The author makes references to this mysterious "woman" on almost every page. But guess what? She's just an ugly woman with a scarred face who is freakishly large. Sigh. A waste of my time.

Since I was reading this on my kindle, I kept checking what page I was on and how much longer the book was because nothing was happening. Even in the climactic scene between the killer and our heroine, I felt nothing. Go ahead, kill her, she's boring.