Amazon 100 – A Long Way Gone

Slowly working my way through Amazon’s 100 books everyone should read. Most recently was Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone. It takes us into the life of Ishmael as a boy soldier during the Sierra Leonean Civil War.

If you’ve read it, tell me what you thought of it. If you haven’t, maybe watch? 😏

Bestsellers and Me: Brave New World

In returning to the blog (posted all five days I planned to last week!) it also means a return to my channel. With my first video back I’m starting a new series. Clearly, it’s called Bestsellers and Me. The idea is to follow up with a video whenever I read a bestseller. I can see the gears of your brain turning, “But what qualifies as a bestseller?”. Glad you asked. For my purposes I’m going to consider a book a bestseller if it has more than 100k ratings on Goodreads. Easy enough.

First in the series is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. It would be cool if you watch, but no hard feelings if you don’t. You can also just tell me what you thought of the book.

2020 in Books: The Girls

This is the fourth and final entry (for now) in my series discussing the books I’ve been reading lately. Today we’re taking about Emma Cline’s The Girls.

The book takes us into the lives of the Manson family, one member in particular. It leads up to their most notorious crime. It’s a fictionalized version, of course. On the surface you might be intrigued when hearing that, but don’t be.

When I go to the bookstore (only Half Price Books) I always check online first to see if my store has what I’m looking for. Buying this book was one of those rare occurrences I happened to see it on the shelf and though I knew nothing about the story itself, I remembered when it was first published it had been quite the bestseller. So I bought it.

The book alternates between the 60s and the present when our protagonist (if you can even call her that) is middle aged. I hate repeating myself from an earlier post in this series, but nothing happened. The book doesn’t go into the actual crimes committed. It gives a perspective from within the family before they’re committed and talks about the aftermath. But again, nothing happens and chapters stretch on and on of nothing. It couldn’t be more exhausting.

Upon completion my first thought was that I’d have been better off reading a true crime account of the family and their crimes. Maybe I will at some point. I’m sure you can see where this is going. I’ve rated three books this year as one star. This is one of them.

2020 in Books: The Road

This is the second in my series to discuss some of the books I’ve been reading lately. Some good and some not. Today’s book is The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

We follow a father and son along a road in post apocalyptic North America. As I sit here trying to give just a little bit more of a plot description I realize there’s nothing else to say about it. We follow them as they try to stay alive along this road, but that’s it.

I have serious problems with just about every aspect of this book. There are no names for the characters. The father is the father and the son is the son. I might be mistaken (I read this a few months ago), but I don’t think the book has chapters and the punctuation is not proper. I never could figure the point for writing this way. My only guess is because it’s in this post apocalyptic world that the author felt it best to show that grammatical norms don’t matter when everyone and everything has been destroyed.

I’d love to write about the action or the climax of the story to give more insight, but there’s neither. Nothing happens in the story. This book won the Pulitzer and was adapted into a movie. I haven’t seen the movie and likely won’t, but there should be a White House Commission to investigate who was bribed to award this book the Pulitzer. If you couldn’t tell, I rated this 1 star. It’s also worth noting that this book is partially responsible for a nearly two month gap in my reading this year after I started and stopped because there was not a thing to keep me interested. Thoughts?

This is one of Amazon’s 100 books everyone should read.

2020 in Books: Slaughterhouse Five

I said in yesterday’s post I wanted to write about some of the books I’ve read so far in 2020, and look at me actually doing it. I’m starting with one I know some of you have read. Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut.

Billy Pilgrim takes us through his life as he time travels through different periods, most notably to when he’s captured by Germans just before the Allied bombing of Dresden at the end of WWII.

What bothered me most about the book is the time travel. It happens from one sentence to the next with no warning and keeps you as the reader jumping around in your head trying to figure out where he’s gone back (or forward) to now. But that may not be the worst part. During the course of his life Billy is taken to an alien planet and put on display in what amounts to a zoo. Just writing it takes me back to the absurdity of it.

It would have been perfectly okay to write the same story minus the alien planet and time travel. The Allies bombed an unguarded city at the end of the war, killing tens of thousands. The story could begin just prior to the bombing and tell of the destruction and death that follows. But it doesn’t.

I rated it between 1-2 stars, erring on the slightly higher end. Thoughts?

This is one of Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read.

A Kinda Sorta (Most Definitely) Review of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep

Spoilers ahead (but who cares, it was published 80 years ago.)

It happened again. I may need to lay off books published before 1970 because clearly I have issues with just about every one I read.

I decided to read this after playing around online and looking up detectives I’d never read before. It didn’t hurt that Raymond Chandler is something of an icon in mystery circles. But, oh boy.

Philip Marlowe is a PI in LA. The book was published in the 1930s, so I guess the assumption is that it takes place during the same period. There are a number of mentions of prohibition. He’s hired by a rich guy who’s getting blackmailed.

I’m going to start with some of the positives:

NONE.

I’m not exaggerating or trying to be silly. There is nothing I can point to in this book that I really enjoyed. But don’t get me started on the negatives.

The writing style made me want to claw my eyes out. How many times can one person say “you’re cute” in a single work? My goodness. No creativity whatsoever.

There are two women who have prominent roles in the story and both of them (they’re sisters) separately are throwing themselves at Marlowe. Ugh. But he’s got the moral compass of Jesus and takes neither of them up on their offer.

Multiple times during the story he slaps women across the face.

There is absolutely no action throughout the story. I kept thinking at some point something would have to happen. Nope.

Twice he went into bad situations without a weapon of any kind against fully armed guys. And twice he got out just fine. Okay, fucking Zeus.

His wit and humor are awful. He’s not funny. Clearly he influenced later detectives, but they’re much better written.

Everyone was smoking the whole book. I have cancer now.

I rated it a 2 star read, and it was just above 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Honestly, it was shaping up to be a 1 star rating from me until the last 5 pages or so.

Definitely do not recommend to any reader, ever. I can come up with several modern detectives much more intriguing than this bozo.

New Video! Book vs Movie: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Look who’s back with another video for a second week in a row EXACTLY like I said I’d be! This guy!

And I already have next week’s video edited and ready for release. Look at me go!

Now watch and tell me if we have any of the same thoughts!

Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read: Breath, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat

Oh, look at me finishing two books in quick succession.

I’m just going to dive right into the post. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The story follows Sophie. A Haitian girl being raised by her aunt at the age of 12 when her mother sends for her from New York. You follow her to New York to marrying to returning home to the tragedy of her mother’s suicide.

I’ve owned this book a couple of years now and knew absolutely nothing about it. I didn’t know the author. I didn’t know the premise. I didn’t know the themes. The story blew me away from page one. Haiti is arguably the poorest country in the western hemisphere, and you know it immediately. But as soon as you wrap your head around Sophie’s surroundings they completely change as she heads to New York to be reunited with her mother she doesn’t know. She soon realizes how difficult her mother’s life really is. This is important because of the conversations people are having TODAY. So many people in America want to paint immigrants as criminals, worthless, and illegal. But so much more often than not, they’re just like Sophie’s mother. Working multiple jobs and supporting family back home.

But the book isn’t only about being an immigrant and trying to find where we belong. Sophie suffers from bulimia and sex phobia, as it’s described in the book, and her mother suffers from severe mental illness, ultimately leading to her suicide. Sophie seeks help in multiple ways. I’m not going to say I suffer from anything, but I know how it feels to be entirely unhappy with every aspect of life, and to feel like no one is coming through that door to help.

Those are the two things I’ve taken from this book. That we should look at immigrants just as we would anyone else, and that we all have the ability to free ourselves from things we can and cannot control. Sophie begins the story as a struggling girl and ends it as a struggling woman. It’s okay to struggle. And it’s okay to seek help when you need it.

An absolute gem of a book.

A Look Into an American Nightmare: Dave Cullen’s “Columbine”

I’ve been absent from here, but I’m finally ready to get back to what makes this blog what it is: BOOKS.

I’ve owned this book for a couple of years. I first started it a few months back, and finally got around to finishing it last night. What follows is my review.

So often after mass shootings we hear about “politicizing” the issue. There’s nothing political anout this book, just as there’s really nothing political about combatting gun violence. It would have been easy for this book to delve into the common topics that persist after every shooting, but it did no such thing.

Dave Cullen takes you into the minds and private lives of these two muderers. He chronicles in minute detail the days, weeks, and months leading up to April 20, 1999. He details how these two kids went from fantasizing about murder to committing a massacre. He takes you into the lives of several parties after the killing had finally stopped. Parents, students, educators, law enforcement. No life is the same after such an event, and he makes it crystal clear.

There’s a part near the end of the book in which he describes how “Columbine” had become the name of a mass shooting rather than a high school, but over the years seems to have reverted back to just the name of a high school in Colorado. I’m not sure if a community can ever really love on from something like this, but based on the book this one seems to constantly try.

An phenomenal story about an unspeakable act.

2017 Reading Challenge: The Lightning Thief

I’m probably the last person in America to have started this series. I mean, at this point Rick Riordan is writing a dozen other series he started after concluding this one. Oh well. Better late than never, right? Anyway, I have only good things to say about this one! Watch and see!

This book was the 7th book from my 2017 Reading Challenge and satisfied the requirement to read a book everyone else seems to have read already. This is also 1 of Amazon’s 100 Books Everyone Should Read. Two birds with one…book? Ha!

What did you think of this book?

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