Book 49: L’America – Martha McPhee

McPhee, Martha - L'AmericaHonestly, I’m sad I didn’t like this as much as I thought I would. Seriously, I’ve given it the lowest rating of the year so far. I bought it in one of my bulk buys at the 2011 Boston Book festival and haven’t thought of it since. It came up on my list when I used random.org to select my next book.

Even though I finished it, I just could not invest in this book, and that’s never a good sign. It started off slow, and thankfully did pick up a good bit, but still finished slow. Seriously go read the paragraph long sentence that was the final sentence of the novel. Not fun.

I think where I struggled to enjoy the book and where the author struggled to write the book was in converting an excellent idea into a manageable and digestible amount. Thankfully, the book wasn’t longer, but it really struggled through the first half. Beth felt like a whiny idiot (she was a teenager) and Cesare just felt frigid and unapproachable. This definitely changed toward the end, but it didn’t change fast enough or thoroughly enough to make me want to bump up my rating.

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Book 42: Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) – Megan Shepherd

Shepherd, Megan - Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman's Daughter #2)It is very rare that a second novel, let alone a middle novel in a trilogy, can surpass the first. In this case, not only has Shepherd done it, she’s surpassed an incredibly well written debut novel with an even more creative, intense and harrowing follow-up. It is NOT a place holder as many middle books are in trilogies and I was incredibly impressed.

Whereas H.G. Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau inspired The Madman’s Daughter, took her inspiration for this novel from Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and I CANNOT wait for the third novel, thankfully it give me time to read the book it’s based on, but I won’t tell you in case you want to read it as it’s revealed in the final pages of this novel.

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Book 36: The Grifters – Jim Thompson

Thompson, Jim - The GriftersI hope you never get tired of hearing it, but books like this are why I’m so glad Caroline and I took the chance and joined the random book group at our local library. I know I would never have picked up this book (and most of the books we read). They’re so different and I’ve enjoyed almost all that we’ve read! Sometimes, I’m not so sure about the book or I’m hesitant about the movie, but this book was great and I can’t wait to see how they adapt it to the film!

Like usual going into this month’s book I had no set expectations and knew very little about it. I vaguely knew it was about con artists, but that was about it. When I picked up my copy from the library I was tickled to see the pulp-fiction cover, who wouldn’t be? But that cover definitely made me seriously look forward to reading it, not to mention it was under 200 pages, and I blazed through the book.

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Book 20: Playing by the Book – S. Chris Shirley

Shirley, S. Chris - Playing by the BookI wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel, but with a southern religious protagonist I knew I needed to read it to see how the author handled this and I am glad I did. I was a little hesitant at first as the last two book I read from this publisher, 50 Shades of Gay and The Hunger Gays weren’t amazing, but this one was excellent. I received a copy of this book from Riverdale Avenue Books and this is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Playing by the Book is the story of Jake Powell and his journey from Preacher’s Kid (PK) in small-town Alabama to an elite summer journalism program at Columbia University in New York City. This is the first time he’s away from home and needless to say it is the experience of a lifetime. Not only is this a coming out story, it is a true coming of age story. Many young adult novels over emphasis one or the other, but this novel intricately tied the two together.

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Book 11: Openly Straight – Bill Konigsberg

Konigsberg, Bill - Openly StraightI saw this book first on Sarah’s blog Sarah Reads Too Much and as soon as I saw the author and read her review I knew I wanted to read it. My first introduction to Bill Konigsberg was through his debut novel Out of the Pocket. It’s hard to believe I read it three years ago AND it was my very first book on my old Sony e-reader.The best part is as I did a quick re-read of that post Konigsberg answered quite a few of my critiques and he’s clearly matured as a fiction writer over the past few years!

As I read the book I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between this and Andrew Smith’s Winger which was a great novel I read last year. However, they are distinctly different and as much as I enjoyed Winger I would probably put this one ahead, not for the writing, but for the story and the subject matter.

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Book 8: Hunger Gays – Nathan Alexander

Alexander, Nathan - Hunger GaysI’m not sure what I expected with this book, but it wasn’t what I got. When I requested a copy of this book from the publisher I expected a fun parody of The Hunger Games, but ultimately it wasn’t. This is my honest opinion and I received nothing in return.

Let’s start with the good. There is a lot of potential in this writer, the ideas and the story adaptation are there, it’s the translation to the page that needs work. The story is a basic copy of The Hunger Games but it’s solely men entered into the tournament and rather than just killing for survival there has to be some sort of erotic act as well. I think the best thing about this novel, by far, is the name of the government drag queen: Lady Mary Posa.

Mariposa is the Spanish word for butterfly and is often times used in a derogatorily (similar to fag or queer), but in choosing to re-empower this word and have a, what I’m assuming is supposed to be funny, drag queen embrace the name and make it her shtick is quite creative and charming. And the authors creativity is further seen through his imagination (or my lack of imagination) to include the myriad pleasure devices mentioned within the arena.

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Book 6: The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles

Fowles, John - The French Lieutenant's WomanSo I finally got around to reading The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I won this book as part of Robert’s blogoversary give away almost two years ago back in August of 2012. And all I have to say is shame on me for waiting this long to read it. Not only am I ashamed because it was such a wonderful book, but I am ashamed because it inspired one of my favorite posts of 101 Books of all time: 101 Books Guide to Carrying an Embarrassing Book in Public.

I’d love to say that Fowles’ mentioning of Jane Austen didn’t sway me, but of course it did a little, but overall that was minuscule compared to the mastery Fowles showed in this novel and he mentioned Austen and her works MULTIPLE times! But it wasn’t this that made the book so great, it was the omniscient unidentified narrator and the breaking of the fourth wall (I guess it’s called that in reading as well).

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