Book 499: The Laramie Project – Moisés Kaufman

This is not the first time I’ve read this. I have seen the film adaptation and I have read this multiple times. There are no surprises in this for me, and yet there I was sitting on the train with tears rolling down my face trying not to make that horrible noise when you can’t breathe, but you have to breathe or you’re going to choke on your tears. I clearly need to read this every few years to remind me of my humanity.

I have vague recollections of Matthew Shepard’s murder and the media circus that ensued in the late ’90s, but I do remember staying up late secretly watching the HBO adaptation (IMDB link) as a Junior/Senior in high school. It was a defining moment as a young man coming to terms with my sexuality. It didn’t really scar me or anything, but it definitely made me realize the “don’t ask, don’t tell” with which my family and most of my town it seemed operated under was just as easily broken as the “live and let live” as that in Wyoming.

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Book 498: Remember How I Told You I Loved You? – Gillian Linden

I’m not sure why I picked this up back in January 2014, but I did. It was either the sadness in the title or the open envelopes on the front. I had no recollection of it being short stories as I rarely read them. And yet even when I went to read this, because I wanted a quick read before vacation, I was surprised they were short stories and it says STORIES on the front!

Honestly, this book disappointed me. There were two beautiful quotes, but overall I found the stories to be lacking and somewhat stunted. Many of the stories loosely tied together and I felt it distracted from what could’ve been a wonderful collection of (somewhat depressing) coming of age stories.

“Homesick is how Karen feels, though she doesn’t miss home, more like an earlier version of herself, a person who, in her memory is hardworking, starightforward, pure.” (Common Rooms, 12)

“Lewis and I decided this last night and it was a relief. Not everything has to do with me. Even the things that have something to do with me, like this contract, don’t have much to do with me.” (Sam, 87)

I would rather have not wondered if everyone was connected (and I could be wrong).

All of this being said, I think what bothered me the most about the short stories was that really good short stories to me, leave you curious about everything before and after, but simultaneously leave you feeling fulfilled. These did not, partially because there were characters that were either the same character or one with the same name and it was like wait what, is this a continuation? And partially because they just didn’t feel complete with the exception of Common Rooms, it was by far the strongest and it was the lead of the book.

Recommendation: Pass unless you are really interested in college coming of age stories or really interested in short stories.

Book 497: Ordinary Goodness – Edward Viljoen

Now that I’m starting to settle into my new job (and have two weeks of vacation – when this posts I’ll be somewhere between Seattle and Alaska), I’m starting to catch up on galleys/ARCs that I received at the end of 2016.*

This is one of those books that goes in the pile of I would probably never pick up on my own, but since the publisher sent it and it was vaguely interesting to me I read it. I found the concept interesting and the idea of goodness outside of institutionalized religion is something I “believe in,” so I figured why not.

The book itself was easy to read and I enjoyed Viljoen’s writing style and the bits of himself he let seep into the book, but overall this was just a meh book for me. I’ve definitely read books that were much more focused than this one and maybe that’s what it was for me, what felt like a lack of focus.

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Book 496: The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events #13) – Lemony Snicket

The End.

I think that’s about all you can say about this book. It wasn’t as disappointing as I though it would be, but it also wasn’t the ending I wanted/needed for a 13 book series investment. Perhaps, Snicket hit it on the head with the final line of the book, which doesn’t spoil anything because there was a 14th chapter.

“Under the circumstances, it is the best for which you can hope.”

I’m not convinced it was the best for which I could’ve hoped for, but I think it’s the most I was going to get. If these books would’ve been difficult to read or any more of a time commitment, I would probably be angry about the ending or even disappointed, but because they were quick reads and mostly easy to understand it didn’t feel like too much of an investment. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS, skip to the Recommendation if you don’t want spoilers.

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Book 495: The Penultimate Peril (A Series of Unfortunate Events #12) – Lemony Snicket

And now I’m starting to wonder if ANYTHING is going to be wrapped up. I mean I was already wondering this, but I honestly felt like this book didn’t really take us anywhere. It brought together a lot of people from the series, but for what reason!? But can I be mad at Snicket, it’s like he is warning us:

“Each mystery the Baudelaires discovered only revealed another mystery, and another, and another, and several more, and another, as if the three siblings were diving deeper and deeper into a pond, and all the while the city lay calm on the surface, unaware of all the unfortunate events in the orphans’ lives.” (Loc. 213)

But still, I’m not 100% sure I’m okay with a series that doesn’t wrap up everything. I can sort of get on board with a sad mopey series, but an incomplete/unfinished one, no thank you.

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Book 494: Sovereign (Nemesis #2) – April Daniels

When I read April Daniels’ debut novel, Dreadnought I lamented the length of time I had to wait until the second in the series came out. What I didn’t realize then or now was that it was only in January of this year that I read Dreadnaught and less than five months later I was able to request Sovereign, the sequel.*

Sovereign picks up not long after the events of Dreadnought and Danny is coming more to terms with her powers as Dreadnought and coming more to terms with her transition. As much as I enjoyed this book, it’s not as strong as the first. It really felt that Daniels got too heavy-handed with the queer politics, as fascinating as they were, and it distracted too much from the story for my taste. I get that it’s an integral part of the story, but it honestly just felt too much like a crutch.

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Book 493: The Grim Grotto (A Series of Unfortunate Events #11) – Lemony Snicket

Okay, so maybe it’s because I’m binge reading these, but I can’t stop saying OMG OMG OMG. So many cliff hangers and “say what’s,” I should’ve put all of the books on hold at the same time. I’m still waiting for the last two as I write this but I should get them any day and hopefully will have read them by time this post publishes. Fingers crossed at least.

We’re in the thick of the mystery aspect of this series and the plot continues to become more convoluted. It’s hard to say who is or isn’t alive and how long they’ve been so. There was a reveal at the end of this book that I think is leading to something that I’ve been waiting for since my friend let something drop that wasn’t really a spoiler but a is this going to happen or not type question.

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