What.

I'm usually sarcastic and sometimes a grumpy grumperson. I also review books from NetGalley from time to time. I try to write at least a tiny blurb about everything I read. 

The Luxe Series

Splendor - Anna Godbersen

***THERE IS A SPOILER FOR THE FIRST (AND MAYBE SECOND) BOOK IN THIS REVIEW, BUT IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE FIRST BOOK YET YOU SHOULDN'T BE READING REVIEWS FOR THE LAST BOOK ANYWAY. DUH.***

 

I reviewed the first book in this series back in February but I’ve decided to lump the rest of the books into one post because the series is one continuous story, and I read them months ago so I can’t remember where the story ends and begins for each book.

 

I feel like anything I say about this series could cause some major spoiler issues because there’s a twist in the first book that changes the story and adds a new character or two to the mix. I don't have any followers so they don't care, but… what if some teenage girl hasn’t read the first book yet and decided to Google the series to see what it’s about and happens upon my blog and accidentally reads that Elizabeth isn’t actually dead?

Oops. Okay, so maybe I can spoil it. Just this once.

 

Alright. Elizabeth faked her death in the first book so she could be with her beloved Will, who is basically a servant to her family. They head out Californy-way together, leaving her family to cluelessly mourn the loss of their beloved daughter/sister/niece. While Elizabeth is off making out with Will in California’s sprawling meadows, her former bestie Penelope blackmails Elizabeth’s former fiancé Henry into marrying her despite his true love for Elizabeth’s younger sister Diana. Just look at the mess Elizabeth has left behind!

 

The story follows that mess until it’s so ridiculous you just want to punch a face. In the fourth book, behind the petty drama I’d grown tired of, a mystery began to unfold. As it turns out, Elizabeth and Diana’s father didn’t simply die back when he died… he was murdered. But by who? And why? When all was revealed, I wasn’t at all surprised. I'd had it figured out for a long time, but it was still interesting. I almost wish I could have read a book based solely on that part of the story.

 

Aside from that mystery, I also really liked was the end of book 4. Not because I was finally done with the series (though that was a nice bonus), but because it wasn’t a “happily ever after” ending. I was convinced that no matter what happened, the good people would end up together and the bad people would end up suffering for being, you know, bad. But I was wrong. Things went quite differently for some characters, and though it seems that everyone was actually at least a little happy in the end, it wasn’t the cookie-cutter ending I expected. It was a nice surprise in an otherwise boring soap opera of a series.

Source: http://bookishbean.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/the-luxe-series-anna-godbersen

Rontel

Rontel - Sam Pink I love everything I've ever read by Sam Pink, and this one was great, definitely a favorite. Pink's honesty is hilarious, and I love that I can find a bit of myself in his writing.

"Always felt like, if I could pause time, I'd just go around and break everything then un-pause time, leaving people unharmed but everything else broken, even clouds, mountains, and the sun, maybe a fish or two as well."

Me too.

The Valentine's Day edition of the ebook included Pink's personal phone number and a promise that if I sent him a text, he'd sext me back. And he totally did. I wish I could provide a screen shot of the little conversation we had, but it's not safe for work or children. Really, it's probably not safe for anyone to look at. I'll probably never look at it again (just kidding I'll probably look at it every day because SAM PINK SENT ME TEXT MESSAGES).

The Luxe

The Luxe - Anna Godbersen

Before I say anything about The Luxe, I have a confession to make. I’m not usually a fan of teen drama, but I totally watched Gossip Girl, a show about a group of ridiculously rich and privileged teenagers living in Manhattan’s Upper East Side (and, as the show progressed, their college years and adult lives). For years, it’s been my dirty little secret, but now I have to admit it that I loved the show and I was really upset when it ended in December. I knew it was time, but I also knew that I would miss the back-stabbing, the jealousy, the twists. Oh, the drama! I already miss the drama. That’s why, when I heard The Luxe was similar to Gossip Girl but set in the late 1800s, I knew I absolutely had to read it.

 

In the prologue, beloved socialite Elizabeth Holland has died and her sister, Diana, is missing from the funeral procession. Diana enters the church late, hiding a smile that only Elizabeth would understand, if only she could see it (but she can’t, because, you know, she’s dead).

 

The actual story takes place in 1899, during the weeks leading up to Elizabeth’s death. Though Elizabeth is generally well-liked, it is revealed throughout the book that several people believe they benefit from her death. There’s the jealous best friend, the fiancé who doesn’t truly want to marry her, the bitter maid who is sick of serving her, and even Elizabeth’s own sister could have what she wants if Elizabeth would just disappear. It definitely doesn’t become a typical who-dunnit, but it was hard to tell just who would benefit enough to actually kill Elizabeth. This isn’t a story I want to spoil for anyone who might read it, and I don’t even know how to say any more about the story without revealing too much so I have to stop here. If you’re interested in the book, don’t bother if you want a deep book with some kind of message. This one is pretty fluffy.

 

For fans of Gossip Girl: The Luxe‘s Elizabeth and Penelope are like a toned down version of Serena and a much more evil version of Blair. I found myself comparing them as well as other characters to the characters I’ve watched on GG for years.The Luxe is definitely not a rehash of GG  though. The biggest thing they have in common is that they are both about a group of rich young New Yorkers.

 

I was tempted to keep my enjoyment of The Luxe as secret as my love for Gossip Girl, but I can’t. I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. It was exactly what I needed after reading The Marbury Lens, ew. I like when I want to finish a book because I'm totally into it instead of wanting to finish it so I can be done with it forever.

Source: http://bookishbean.wordpress.com/2013/02/05/the-luxe-by-anna-godbersen

The Hangman's Daughter

The Hangman's Daughter - Lee Chadeayne, Oliver Pötzsch

My Kindle and I spent some quality time together last night so I could finish The Hangman’s Daughter.

 

Quick summary (I guess it might have tiny spoilers?): It’s 1660, and the people in the town of  Schongau, Bavaria want to know who killed three children, who set fire to the warehouse, and who destroyed the building site for a leper house. Because each of the dead children was found with a strange mark on their shoulder, nearly everyone believes the crimes to be the result of witchcraft. They blame a midwife named Mary Stechlin because the murdered children were known to visit her often. Plus, she she has an herb garden, and only witches have herb gardens! But a few townspeople aren’t quite convinced. The hangman, his daughter, and a physician join forces to investigate the mysterious crimes and prove the midwife’s innocence before it’s too late.

 

The hangman and his family are all based on Oliver Pötzsch’s ancestors. They were real people, and I always find that fascinating (even if the story itself is fictional). I really wanted to know who really murdered the children, and it was great to find out, but it was less great getting to the part where I found out. It was a bit too wordy for me, though I think the fact that it was translated to English is to blame. There were a lot of times when I felt super bored and I really wanted to stop reading, but I pressed because the mystery itself was so intriguing, and I’m glad I did!

 

That said, I probably won't read any of the rest of the series. I may be missing out on some good stories, but there were so many dull moments in this one that I can't bring myself to bother with the others.

Rontel (excerpt) (Electric Literature's Recommended Reading)

Rontel (excerpt) (Electric Literature's Recommended Reading) - Sam Pink I wasn't sure if I should add this to my shelf since it's just an excerpt, but it's listed, so why not?

I like every book I've read by Sam Pink and now that I've read this excerpt, I'm sure Rontel will be no exception. I'm glad it's going to be released soon, I'm excited to read the rest.

YOU HEAR AMBULANCE SOUNDS AND THINK THEY ARE FOR YOU

YOU HEAR AMBULANCE SOUNDS AND THINK THEY ARE FOR YOU - Sam Pink I like this book and I really like Sam Pink. I wish I could write like he does. A lot of it seems random, awkward, strange, but everything sounds so honest. I feel like he just writes without any sort of filter, just writes what’s in his head without caring what people might think when they read it. And even without caring what he might think when he reads it.

I’ve tried to describe this book (and others by Sam Pink) to people and I always end up confusing myself. I’m really bad at it. Amazon says it’s poetry, so I guess it’s poetry.

Some favorite quotes:
“You hate when life reminds you it is really happening.”
“You are an expert at experiencing pain and maintaining the same look, the one that fools people who want to be fooled.”
“You eat things even if they aren’t fully microwaved because you don’t deserve any luxury.”
“You see people outside your window and you lean out the windowframe and go, ‘Hey, catch me okay’ then jump before there is an answer.”

The Marbury Lens

The Marbury Lens - Andrew Smith This book is not for me. I read the whole thing, hoping it would get better, or that there would be a single part of the book I enjoyed, but neither of those things happened.

I didn't like any of the characters. I could understand Jack being messed up after his encounter with Freddie, but honestly, Jack was a whiny bitch from the beginning. His best friend, Connor, is a complete asshole, and it seems like the only thing he does for half the book is call Jack gay because he's a virgin, or because they fell asleep next to each other on a bed. Or because Jack won't join in on the sex Connor is having with his girlfriend (what the? Is it normal for guys who are best friends to participate in a threesome together?). The way it was written, like it was a bad thing, an accusation, an insult, "you're so gay!", made the whole thing seem very homophobic. I know a lot of other readers have mentioned it in their reviews, but it's worth mentioning again because it really distracted me from the story itself.

Which, by the way, I didn't care for either. Life for Jack and Connor in London consisted of beer and two girls (who were, of course, the hottest chicks in the world, duh) that they met and fell in love with three days later. It was boring, but I was okay with that because life in Marbury was supposed to be where all the excitement as action was. Much to my disappointment, Jack's adventures in Marbury were just as boring as his adventures in London. Sure, Marbury had an alternate version of everyone in the real world and giant ghost-eating bugs, but even that wasn't enough to make it a mildly interesting place.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Not for me.


Yellow Submarine

Yellow Submarine - The Beatles The story itself is really strange and I'm not sure I liked it all that much, but I read it on my iPad and being able to interact with everything was really cool. I wish this had been around when I was a kid. I would have loved reading even more!

The Lifeboat

The Lifeboat - Charlotte Rogan I was convinced I'd be giving this book at least 4 stars until I got to the part where Grace talks about the trial. I'm always hesitant to say anything bad about a book because I truly appreciate the blood, sweat, and tears most authors put into their work, but... reading about the trial was so boring. It totally killed my enthusiasm/love for the story and I even fell asleep (twice) while trying to get through it.

It's funny, because you'd think reading about people stuck in the middle of a big boring ocean would be less interesting, but it was definitely the best part. I wish I could rate each section of the book separately, because the trial was the only part I didn't like.

I'm No Monster: The Horrifying True Story of Josef Fritzl

I'm No Monster: The Horrifying True Story of Josef Fritzl - Stefanie Marsh, Bojan Pancevski

Just as I didn't assign a star rating to A Stolen Life, by Jaycee Dugard, I can't assign a star rating to this book.

However, I felt that while it was informative, it was not well-written. Certain events in the book seemed out of order, like they should have been discussed either earlier or later on. Additionally, some things were mentioned several times, which I found repetitive and unnecessary.

I also found an error towards the end of the book (unfortunately, I no longer have it and forgot to write down the page number). I did type up the sentence in which I found the error: "On Monday, November 12, 2007, the prosecution team completed it's charges; Josef Fritzl was to be tried for the crimes of murder, slavery, rape, deprivation of liberty, coercion, and incest." The date shouldn't be 2007. Elisabeth and her children didn't get out of the cellar until 2008, so there couldn't have been a prosecution team against Fritzl in 2007. I'm guessing it was supposed to be 2008. It's not a huge error, I guess, but it does make me wonder if the author made any mistakes that really matter somewhere else.

Guilty Wives

Guilty Wives - James Patterson, David Ellis

I tend to be very strict in my ratings (most of the time, I give a book 3 stars, for "I liked it" because it's not often I feel much more than that), but this one was difficult. I was torn between giving the book 3 stars and giving it 4. Going by my usual rating system, I'd give it 3 stars (I finish the book and if I think "hm, that was okay," it gets 2. If I finish it and I'm in love with it and ridiculously excited about it and I immediately go looking up everything I can find about it, it gets 5), because after I finished it, I thought "I liked that." But I couldn't click that third star because something about this book kept me up reading way past my usual bed time, which I love, and that hasn't happened for quite a while. So it gets 4 stars, because even though it was ridiculous, I enjoyed it much more than I enjoyed any of my 3-star books.

Forgotten

Forgotten - Cat Patrick I was super bored for the first half of Forgotten and I ended up putting it down for a couple months. I came back to it today, determined to finish it, and found that it got better. Just as I really got into it though, it ended.

I gave it 2 stars (it was okay) because even though I liked some bits of the story, they weren't good enough to make up for my boredom in the first half.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer I wish I could give this book a googolplex stars.

Wetlands

Wetlands - Charlotte Roche Everyone says that this book is super gross. Honestly, I wasn't grossed out or amused by any of it. When I wasn't bored, I was annoyed. The "gross-out" parts made me feel like the book was written by a teenage boy with ridiculous fantasies of what women do behind closed doors. The stories Helen shared about things like spreading bacteria or what she did with avocado pits made me feel less like she was a strong woman with a "who-gives-a-crap" attitude, and more like she was just a perverted pre-teen. Everything Helen did sounded so over the top, as if she was in some sort of competition for the most sexually unconventional woman of all time.

I have read many reviews in which people sing this book's praises, calling it a triumph for the feminist movement. I don't understand that at all. Any woman can use explicit language to write a bunch of "gross" stuff about her body... this is nothing special.