Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “baxlala”

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #24: Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr.

1st Awesome Thing About This Book: There is an exclamation point in the title.

2nd Awesome Thing About This Book: Everything else (!)

I feel like I really did a disservice to this book by not reviewing it immediately after I finished it. But, as it stands, I’m about eight reviews behind right now, so there you have it. This book, like so many I’ve reviewed this year, was a gift from my husband and I guess he knows me well, because I loved it. This was my first foray into Ron Currie Jr.’s world and I’ll definitely be checking out his first novel (God is Dead) as a result. Seriously, read this book.

Everything Matters! is the story of one extraordinarily ordinary human named Junior Thibodeau, who has been given a special gift (?). From birth, Junior is aware that a catastrophic event will take place when he’s 36, effectively ending all human life on Earth.

Bummer for him, right?

The book follows him throughout his entire life as he struggles with this knowledge and tries to come to terms with it, all on his own (for the most part), and how this knowledge affects who he is, who he will become, and his relationship with his family, friends, and other assorted loved ones.

This book is more than an end of the world novel. Currie effectively creates an entire world inside Junior’s family unit, a world that becomes much more important to the reader than the fact that the planet is going to be destroyed at a specific point in Junior’s story. I grew exceedingly attached to everyone the story introduced me to. While Junior is the main focus, Currie gives little glimpses into the other characters that make the entire thing all the more heartbreaking.

I would like to touch a bit on the prose here, something I’ll admit I neglect to mention in most reviews unless it’s abysmal (which is unfair), but Currie’s writing is beautiful. Remember when you’d have to read a book for school and would immediately look to see how smooshed together the print was on the pages and would groan if it was too text heavy or there were hardly any paragraph breaks? This would be like medium threat level (midnight) in that department, but I never noticed because of how caught up I was in the story, which is a huge testament to the writing.

To say anything more about the actual plot would rob you of the experience, so I’m going to stop talking now, as hard as that is for me. But I will say again, please check out this novel. I was instantly hooked, which hardly ever happens, and remained enthralled as I read it, having absolutely no idea where the story was going to go, or even where I WANTED it to go. And as I finished the book, my chest getting heavier as I got closer to the end, I was completely satisfied, though heartbroken. I love it when a book breaks my heart. This will be one I read again, which is really the highest praise I can offer.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #23: Chain Letter by Christopher Pike

A few weeks ago, a friend and I went out nostalgia-hunting at a local used book store. The idea was to find some YA novels we’d read as children, buy them, and then read the shit out of them while basking in the glow of our distant childhoods. I was mainly on the lookout for the horror trifecta I read as a child (Christopher Pike, RL Stine, Lois Duncan) but ended up finding a few other blasts from the past (namely Caroline B. Cooney), as well as some non-YA in the form of Mists of Avalon.

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Yeah, you guys, THERE ARE MISTS OF AVALON GIFS.

When I was a tween/teen, I must have read a new Christopher Pike novel every weekend, often blowing through one in a single day. And even though I have far less time to read now than I did then (I always did my homework in the bathroom, by the glow of the nightlight, after I was supposed to be in bed asleep, which freed up most of my evenings and weekends for reading), it still didn’t take more than a few scattered weekend hours to blow through Chain Letter.

Chain Letter is basically I Know What You Did Last Summer (which, if I’m not mistaken, was a Lois Duncan novel before it was a movie starring Boobies McBooberson) meets Double Dare, only the dares are super messed up. A group of friends receives a chain letter, you see, from someone who knows a terrible secret about all of them. This mysterious Caretaker (as he is known) demands of them one thing: that they each perform the tasks he assigns them, no questions asked. These tasks start out somewhat comical, stuff like running through the school dressed as a clown, repainting the school mascot in the gym, but gradually morph into more dangerous and illegal dares. The price for refusal is injury or possible death, so most of them try to play along. At least at first.

Look, this is not a great book, but I couldn’t help but enjoy it. Chain Letter, along with the Remember Me and Last Vampire series, was one of my favorite Christopher Pike books as a teen, so I have a certain fondness for it now that I probably wouldn’t have had I not read it so many times years ago. PLUS, it holds up really well if you turn off the logical part of your brain and don’t pay attention to plot holes, which is a bonus.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Reviews #21 and #22: Catching Fire and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Can I just take a moment to echo what, oh, everyone else is saying and tell you that I AM SO BEHIND ON MY REVIEWS?

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BECAUSE I AM SO BEHIND ON MY REVIEWS. And so I’m combining two books into one review because then they’ll be done and I can cross them off of my list, and there’s nothing I love more than crossing something off of a list.

It’s actually been over a month, I think, since I finished The Hunger Games trilogy (for the second time). I reviewed The Hunger Games pretty quickly but now I’m left with reviewing Catching Fire and Mockingjay and I can’t always remember what specific things happen in what book. Like, I know the obvious stuff, but maybe not, like, character stuff. So forgive me, please, if I stick to the surface. (STANDARD.)

Spoilers ahead, BEWARE ALL WHO TRESPASS HERE.

Catching Fire picks up where The Hunger Games left off, basically. Katniss and her family are living in a fancy house now, since she was a tribute victorious (not Crucifictorious, in case you’re confused), next door to Peeta and Haymitch. Well. Peeta lives in one house and Haymitch lives in another. They don’t live together. That might make for good sitcom fodder, but it also might raise some eyebrows.

Buy the album.

ANYWAY. Katniss is supposed to be preparing for her wedding to Peeta, continuing the charade that they are in love and getting ready to live happily ever after. She is torn between Gale and Peeta, still, because feelings are hard to sort out, y’all CUT HER SOME SLACK.

Can you tell that Catching Fire is really just, like, the waiting room for Mockingjay? I don’t even care, though, it’s my favorite. Because you know why? FINNICK ODAIR.

I mean. Finnick, you guys. FINNICK.

Alright, so, back to Catching Fire. Katniss and Peeta go on tour, though all of the districts, and Katniss inadvertently starts a couple of riots, which could happen to anyone, really. President Snow had already given her a warning to stay in line (being as creepy as possible, as is his way), so really he had no choice but to mess with the upcoming Hunger Games and throw her back inside, alongside Peeta and Finnick and a bunch of other past winners.

CUE EXTREME CRAZINESS. I can’t even talk about all the shit that goes down in the arena because it would make my heart explode with feelings, but I will just say that once you finish Catching Fire, it is physically impossible to do anything other than pick up Mockingjay and read it to its finish.

Mockingjay is…well. I’m still working out my feelings.

When Mockingjay begins, we find Katniss is living in District 13. She’s mostly miserable but it’s hard to tell because it’s Katniss. She shares a compartment with her sister and mother, who both work in the hospital. The people in District 13 are really strict on account of they’ve been struggling to survive since being cut off from The Capitol.

SPEAKING of The Capitol, they are holding Peeta as their prisoner, along with Finnick’s girlfriend and Johanna Mason because President Snow is a turdbucket. Katniss finally agrees to be the Mockingjay, a political symbol to be used to propagandize the masses, which she does in exchange for Peeta, basically. Oh, and also she wants to kill President Snow because, again, giant turdbucket.

Oh, this book. I actually had to put it down toward the end (YOU know when) because I wasn’t sure I could finish. I eventually picked it back up, reread the passage in question to make sure I’d actually read correctly, and put it down again. WTF, Collins. So mean.

Anyway, blah blah blah, you should read these, duh.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #20: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

I’ve been putting off writing my review of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened because I had a lot of feelings about this book and not many of them were good. I can’t say that I really enjoyed this memoir, even though I really, really wanted to, having been a long-time (off and on) reader of The Bloggess.

There were stories I enjoyed immensely. By and large, these were not the stories I’d already read on her blog. Maybe this is my own fault, but I completely missed the memo that there were previously published stories in the book. Since I paid for the book, I was a bit disappointed that there was so much material that I could have found in her blog archives. This probably makes me a cheap bastard but I don’t care (mostly because I am a cheap bastard).

(On the other hand, she’s been providing me with free entertainment for years so maybe it’s a draw?)

Before I go any further, I feel like I should be completely honest, especially before someone claims that the reason I didn’t triple heart love this book is that I’m jealous of Jenny Lawson. Well, I can tell you right now that DUH OF COURSE I’M JEALOUS OF HER. She’s not a traditional mommyblogger (ugh, I hate that term) and yet has grown a significant, mommyblogger-esque following. And then she got to write a book, based solely on the power of the irreverent and hilarious stories on her blog! Who wouldn’t be jealous? (Not to mention, we both have the same first name, the tendency toward hyperbole, an obsession with the zombie apocalypse, backgrounds in HR, the annoying overuse of the word “totally,” and long-suffering husbands. Where’s my book deal?!)

There are things I love about this book, her blog, and The Bloggess in general. I love her openness regarding her struggle with anxiety and depression, her unique childhood, and her ability to pull people together to help those less fortunate. I love her traveling red dress project, the way she’s learned to accept herself, and the way she talks about her family. I wish this book had included more about that and less about giant metal chickens. I already knew she was good at torturing her husband, I wanted something more (I’m greedy).

Judging by the reviews I’ve read, I seem to be in the minority here, so maybe it’s my fault that I didn’t enjoy it more? I went into it thinking it was going to have a cohesive narrative and not just be a bunch of random stories. I may read it again in a few months, with that in mind, and see if my opinion remains the same. You guys, I really wish I had liked this book more! Jenny Lawson seems like such a funny, genuine, NICE woman, someone I’d like if I knew her in person, and I don’t like saying negative things about people I like, so I’m going to stop. There were bits of the book that I really enjoyed, like the idea of her having a taxidermy alligator on an airplane. The stories about her childhood were the most interesting, I thought, but then again, I just like to hear stories about how others grew up, especially if they involve the person shoving her arm inside of a cow. Mostly, I just want to have a drink with Lawson, share HR horror stories, and discuss the upcoming zombie apocalypse. But I’m not sure I’d want to read about it in Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: Beyonce Strikes Back.

PS: I just watched a few videos of Jenny Lawson reading from this book and thought it was much funnier than it was in my head when I read it. So maybe I need the audiobook experience?

PPS: My Goodreads review says I gave this two stars, but I would have given it 2.5 if I could have. I really wish there was an option between It Was OK and I Liked It. Actually, I wish there was an option for “My feelings are too confusing for me to rate this book. Ask again later.”

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #19: The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker

I don’t know a lot about Mormons that I didn’t learn from Dooce archives, South Park, and The Book of Mormon (the musical), which, you know, might not give me a completely accurate depiction of Mormon life. I learned a bit more about Mormons and Mormonism after reading The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance (LONGEST TITLE EVER), but not a lot more. It did, however, give me a new respect for those Mormons who live in a world of temptation (in this case, NYC) and stick to their religious beliefs (for the chief purposes of this book, not drinking and not having the sex before marriage). In the end, it’s completely fine that, despite having Mormon in the title, this book didn’t teach me a whole lot about Mormonism.

Elna Baker, our host for the evening, is a Mormon. It’s a huge part of her but it’s not all of her. She’s also a former “big girl,” a writer, an actress, a comedian, a sister, a daughter, and, I’m pretty sure, a love scientist. She approaches love with a curious enthusiasm, often experimenting with different kinds of men (even one famous older gentleman, “Warren Beatty” (NOT the actual Warren Beatty, also: double parenthesis WHAT WHAT) whose identity she hides so she doesn’t get sued) and at one point, changing herself and how she reacts to situations to see if it yields positive results from a handsome, single Mormon guy from church. She says yes often, but not the biggest yes, the one that will allow her to lose her virginity, though she does come close at several points.

Even without the Mormon part of this book which, don’t get me wrong, is an extremely important aspect, this is just a funny memoir. Baker tells her love stories with great humor and complete, brave honesty. There were several cringeworthy moments, one of which caused me to put the book down for a moment and say, “Oh, Elna, noooooooo.” I give her a lot of credit for not hiding the gritty details. It’s one thing to tell these stories to your closest friends, but to put it in print for all to see…that takes balls. Big, giant, hairy balls.

Aside from the love angle, but also deeply tied into how Baker approaches men and relationships, is her struggle with weight. She drops 80 pounds at one point and becomes, in her words, beautiful. She struggles with her identity once she loses the weight, wondering if she’ll still be the “funny” sister that she’s always been in her family (short answer: yes). I found her description of how she lost the weight intriguing, though worrisome, and wish there’d been a bit more about it.

My husband bought me this book for my birthday because he’d heard about it on NPR. I was intrigued mainly because of the title but also because there was an endorsement from Ira Glass on the cover. I ended up thoroughly enjoying it and was even a bit sad when it ended. Does Elna Baker have a blog? I want to read more. Some quick Googling reveals that Baker is no longer a virgin and, if Wikipedia can be believed, has also since left the Mormon church, but I want MORE because I’m greedy.

I also really want to know who “Warren Beatty” was. Those of you who’ve read this, please feel free to join me in my speculation. If you’ll excuse me, I think I have some internet research to do. Someone on this series of tubes has to have figured out who the mystery actor is by now.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #17: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams

You guys, I don’t even know what to say about this book. You either love The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy as much as Zaphod Beelbebrox loves himself or you hate it as much as everyone hates Vogon poetry. And if you don’t know what I’m talking about, then you need to read this book, obviously.

I don’t know, maybe you’ve read it and you don’t exactly hate it but you don’t get what the fuss is about. And if that’s the case, then you probably didn’t read this book at the right time in your life. I’m a firm believer that whether or not you like certain things depends on when you read/watch/hear it (see: Star Wars).

For instance! I saw Garden State right after college, as I was drifting through life, struggling to find a job and support myself, so OF FUCKING COURSE I loved a movie about a shiftless depressive falling in love with the definition of manic pixie dream girl, only this was before manic pixie dream girl was really a thing. Remember that? We were so innocent then.

I watched Garden State again recently for the first time in years and, as someone pushing 30, I couldn’t imagine what my 23-year-old self had been thinking. I hated pretty much everyone and wanted to slap them in their dumb, complainy faces. WHAT HAPPENED. This was a movie I once watched THREE TIMES IN A ROW. I played the soundtrack on repeat for weeks. Months, even!

Since then, I’ve been terrified to revisit my mid-twenties mainstays, the ones I’d watch when I was feeling particularly emo (Little Miss Sunshine, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Closer, The Royal Tenenbaums), because what if I hate them now? I couldn’t bear it.

ANYWAY. My point is (I have one?), I was really scared to read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy again. Because I first read it when I was in high school and god knows my taste in high school wasn’t always the best (see: my affinity for LJ Smith novels*). I was pleasantly surprised that it held up, though. Sure, it’s a bit of quirk that you can blast through in an afternoon, but it’s a supremely entertaining bit of quirk.

Arthur Dent is our protagonist, who begins a random Thursday lying in the mud, trying to block a construction crew from knocking down his house. Enter Ford Prefect, Arthur’s cool-as-fuck best friend, who, unbeknownst to Arthur, is actually a hitchhiking alien from a planet called Betelgeuse.

Ford knows that the world is about to end, so he convinces Arthur to give up his house plan and follow him to the pub because I mean HONESTLY where else would you rather be if the world was about to end? What follows is AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT of a story. I mean that. Reading this book felt a bit like hanging out with my 15-year-old self and finding that we still had something in common, even after all these years. Five stars!

*whatever, I recently reread a bunch of those and they are still AMAZING

I also blog here: Long Story Short

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #16: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

I am still trying to figure out how I feel about The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. It turned into a much different story than I was expecting, which is weird because I DIDN’T EVEN HAVE ANY EXPECTATIONS going into it. All I knew was that there was a little girl named Rose who, one day, started tasting feelings in food.

Rose Edelstein is granted this power when she turns 9. It first presents itself when she tastes the lemon cake her mother baked her for her birthday. The cake tastes like sadness and desperation and makes Rose really, really uncomfortable because she realizes her mother isn’t happy at all.

I love the way the power was presented. I’m sure most of us would agree that any superpower (because that’s what it is) would be a welcome addition to our mundane lives, but Rose cannot eat a meal without being bombarded with FEELINGS. And as we all know, feelings are the worst. She can’t ignore them and she can’t just NOT eat (not without something inconvenient like death happening), so they just build and build until she can’t take it anymore and she has a total freakout. It’s kind of like that episode of Buffy where she can read minds, and at first it’s all great because she thinks she can snoop and find out what her BF really thinks of her (BUMMER, though, that you can’t read a vampire’s mind) but eventually more and more voices get crammed into her head and she’s totally overwhelmed by it. So, like, if voices were food-feelings, then this is totally the same thing.

Anyway. It took me a bit to get used to Bender’s writing style, namely the not using quotation marks. It made it a bit confusing at times to figure out which specific character was talking but it didn’t make the book unreadable or anything. I mean, I do wonder why that particular stylistic choice was made. I’m sure there was some logic to it but for the life of me I couldn’t understand what it was. And, you know, this is exactly the kind of thing Google but I am lazy so someone just tell me, OK?

At a certain point, this book got weird. Weirder than the whole tasting-feelings-through-food thing even. But at the same time, it wasn’t weird enough? If that makes sense? Like, if you’re going to go there, then GO THERE. Be all the way weird. I admit, though, that doing so would have made it a different novel. I think the point was to keep it real(ish), to ground the weird in the real, but to me, none of the characters reacted to the weird stuff in a realistic way, which would have been “WHAT IN THE FUCKING FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?” But again. That’s just me.

My review has been sitting as a draft for a week or so. I thought I’d posted it and forgotten about it, because the book kind of fell out of my head after I finished it. It’s not that I hated it, it just didn’t stick with me, not the way I wanted it to. Still, I plan on checking out some of Aimee Bender’s other novels, so I suppose that says something.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #15: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

So. The Hunger Games. You guys know what this is about, right? I mean, it’s been reviewed at least ten times on this site and I guess there was a movie or something that came out recently. I saw it, of course, since I was pretty much required to, having LITERALLY (not literally) devoured the book. Funny story (this is not really that funny)…I actually read the book while I was on my honeymoon, sitting on our balcony on a stormy day, while my new husband took, like, a four hour nap (getting married is hard, you guys) and I was SO SUPER GLAD he slept so long because if he’d tried to interrupt me in the middle of this book, I probably would have thrown him off the balcony, straight into the ocean, strong-like-Peeta style.

I’m not sure why I’m telling you any of this, other than that I’m trying to avoid summarizing this book because you already know what it’s about, right? And if you don’t, you’re probably not even reading this review, in which case I’m addressing this to no one, so I can safely say OH MY GOD IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THIS BOOK YOU ARE A BIG STUPID DUMMY DUMB FACE.

That said, here is what the book is about, in great detail, because if you’re still reading, you already know what happens. If, you know, any non-readers made it past the first paragraph, I’m pretty sure they stopped reading after I started calling them names. And if they are still reading, DUH HERE BE SPOILERS.

Once upon a time, there was a young woman named Katniss Everdeen. WE LOVE HER SO MUCH.

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Wait, that’s creepy. Let’s start over. AHEM.

Katniss Everdeen is a young woman who lives in a magical terrifying place called Panem. Panem is divided into twelve districts and Katniss is from District 12, the poorest of all districts (which is saying something). Most districts are in terrible shape because of THE CAPITOL AND EVIL PRESIDENT SNOW.

Every year, the Capitol requires each district to choose two tributes, a boy and a girl, to send to The Hunger Games, a delightful sport in which the children fight to the death. It’s fun for the whole family! The Capitol does this to punish the districts for trying to revolt 74 years ago. Basically the Capitol is all like, “Oh, you think you’re so great and you want to be free and junk? Well, we can kill your kids whenever we want, so how bout THEM apples?” I don’t know why The Capitol talks like Will Hunting, but just go with it.

Katniss has a sister named Prim who, having just turned 12, has to participate in The Reaping for the first time. The Reaping is the ceremony in which the tributes are chosen, so Prim is pretty nervous. And even though Katniss promises Prim that there’s NO WAY she’ll be chosen, she is. Oops. It’s OK, though. Katniss takes Prim’s place because Katniss is a badass. See?

Katniss and the boy tribute, Peeta Mellark, travel to The Capitol straight from The Reaping, but not before Katniss has some teary goodbyes with her sister and Gale, the beautiful man-child she hunts with. Gale is her best friend, who she MIGHT want to invite to her pants party at some point, but who knows? Not Katniss, that’s for sure, because feelings are confusing.

Katniss and Peeta travel to The Capitol with Effie Trinket, their Capitol liaison or something, and Haymitch, who previously won The Hunger Games and now drunkenly coaches District 12 tributes in between blackouts. The Capitol is filled with really obnoxious people (think of a city filled with Paris Hiltons), except for Cinna, Katniss’s stylist, who is SO AWESOME I LOVE YOU CINNA.

Cinna makes Katniss look unforgettable by setting her on fire. (Just go with it.) Everyone starts calling her The Girl on Fire but no one calls Peeta The Boy on Fire even though he was on fire just as much as Katniss. But it’s OK because soon Peeta tells everyone that he’s been in love with Katniss since he was but a wee child, so everyone is all, “Peeta! Star-crossed lovers! OW MY HEART.” Well. Everyone but Katniss. Katniss is more like: ew, feelings.

They finally enter the arena to compete and there’s an awful lot of bloody killing for a children’s novel. For a while, Katniss thinks that Peeta is working with the Careers (a group of tributes from Districts 1 and 2, who train their entire lives for The Hunger Games) to kill her, but really he’s protecting her because of all the LOOOOOOOOVE.

Katniss has a brief interlude with a young tribute named Rue but I’m not going to talk about it because it makes me feel like this:

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Eventually, the gamemakers announce that they’ve changed the rules: now two tributes can win, so long as they’re from the same district. Katniss, at this point, scampers off to find Peeta, who has buried himself in mud because of his extremely disgusting leg wound. Katniss nurses him back to health and pretends to be in love with him so Haymitch will send her food and medicine, which, you know, maybe (?) makes her a whore* BUT JUST A TEENY TINY BIT because she also kind of likes Peeta. She doesn’t really know because she’s too busy trying to stay alive BUT ALSO because as we discussed, feelings = confusing.

More people die until Peeta and Katniss are the last two tributes left, at which point the gamemakers change the rules again and say that only one of them can win. Peeta is totally ready to sacrifice himself for Katniss because Peeta is better than all of us, but Katniss devises a way they can both win. Hooray! Except not, because President Snow is pissed that she tricked them, so Haymitch tells her to make sure she really, super looks like she’s in love with Peeta. He doesn’t need to tell Peeta anything because Peeta’s already in love. Peeta finds out later that Katniss was (mostly?) pretending and gets really sad face which makes me really sad face because POOR PEETA WE LOVE HIM.

This review is now over 1000 words long so I’m going to stop now. You should probably just read this (again). It’s totally worth it.

*Only NOT REALLY because this is LIFE OR DEATH, PEOPLE. Whore it up, Katniss.

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #14: Zone One by Colson Whitehead

If I had to sum up Zone One in one word (which I definitely DON’T but I’m going to do it anyway), it would be: MEH. I finished it last week and have been putting off writing this review because I just don’t have that much to say about it. To be completely honest, this probably isn’t going to be a very fair review because for the first half of Zone One, I thought I was reading Warm Bodies, which is the book I MEANT to check out of the library, but I was checking it out on my Kindle and I wasn’t paying very close attention SUE ME. Warm Bodies is (to my admittedly limited knowledge) about a zombie who falls in love with a human and protects her or something. While that’s even more unbelievable than the idea of a zombie apocalypse (which, I will argue, you should still totally prepare for no matter how unbelievable you think it may be), it still sounds better than the book I actually read.

Zone One is about zombies (so at least I got that part right), a subject about which I keep reading (and watching) even though the very idea of zombies scares the ever-living shit out of me. The story follows a man named Mark Spitz (but not THE Mark Spitz, the main character gets this nickname in a way I’m certain the author thinks is much cleverer than it actually is) as he patrols an evacuated NYC, ridding the city of any leftover “skels” who were missed during the initial zombie-cide. They encounter very few actual walkers zombies skels; the ones they do find are called “stragglers.” These are individuals who didn’t quite get through the zombie transition properly (slackers) and who are now stuck, all catatonic-like, in one position, performing some mundane task for the rest of eternity (or until someone puts them out of their misery).

My main problem with this book was that I didn’t care about any of the characters. I didn’t care if they lived or died and, in fact, often wished that one of them would be eaten by a zombie just so something would happen. Funnily enough, I’ve often wished the same thing while watching The Walking Dead. Zing! Anyway. Another problem I had was that the entirety of the novel took place over the course of (I think?) three days, with a few flashbacks. I realize this is just my personal preference, but BOOOOOOOORING.

Stuff started happening eventually, but it was too little, too late, and with way too much description. We get it, Colson Whitehead, you can write (because damn, he can write). I hesitate to say this was a terrible book, it wasn’t, it just wasn’t what I wanted to read. I wanted more story, especially about a brief interlude Mark Spitz had with a woman in a toy store. Someone write that story! I’ll totally read it.

PS: Also! I didn’t have ONE ZOMBIE NIGHTMARE as a result of reading this book. What the shit is that?

Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #13: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Reading The Fault in Our Stars was like entering some kind of fugue state. I became so engrossed in the characters, it was kind of like watching a movie, but a really good movie, starring people I actually knew and loved. When I finished the book, I looked down and was surprised to find the sofa was covered in tissues because DEAR GOD, THE CRYING.

I mean, it wasn’t like I was unprepared. I read the book because Ashley (narfna) told me to, and when Ashley tells you to read a book, you do it. You just do. And she said I’d cry. I was warned. I picked up both Ready Player One and The Fault in Our Stars on her recommendation and they both blew my mind into itty bitty pieces. The only complaint I have is that I wish I’d read The Fault in Our Stars before Ready Player One because I needed something light and fun to read afterward. Because DEAR GOD, THE CRYING. This was me, during 50% of this book:

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That last one, especially.

The Fault in Our Stars is about two teenagers, Hazel and Augustus, who meet in a support group for kids with cancer. OH WON’T THIS BE A LIGHTHEARTED ROMP? Well, it sort of is, for a while. Hazel and Gus are delightful, really, witty and charming and I wish I’d been friends with them when I was a teenager. Hell, even now. It’s interesting, I just finished reading The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which was great, but this felt so much more real to me. Maybe, I don’t know, because there were no magical pants? IT’S A MYSTERY.

This is no joke, I went into work the day after I finished reading The Fault in Our Stars and as soon as my boss saw me, she said, “Oh my god, sit down! What happened, have you been crying?” And I had to explain that, yes, I had been crying but nothing was wrong, not really, just that MY HEART WAS STOMPED ON BY A MEAN BOOK. I don’t think she really understood how a book made me cry so hard because, you guys, there are two kinds of people in this world: those that cry so hard reading sad books that their eyes fall out and…people I don’t understand.

Anyway, I guess I could have felt ashamed or something because I came into work looking like someone died, but I’m not. I defy you to read this book without weeping. Do you hear that? I DEFY YOU.

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