I Just Can’t Quit You, Book

Hello Everybody! Long time, no see! Nope, I didn’t forget I have a blog. Believe me, this blog has been on my mind a lot lately.  I never realized how guilty I could feel for not writing enough until I started this blog.  Yeah, I’m too hard on myself.

I hit a serious reading slump about mid-February.  That’s the problem with having a book reviewing blog. It’s like when you want to finish something for work but finishing it is contigent on a co-worker doing their part and passing the next step on to you.  In this case, I’m both the co-worker and the employee waiting impatiently. I just could not find a book that I wanted to finish so that I could review it.  My brain didn’t want to focus on reading at all.  I racked up many hours in various video games during this period. But I kept feeling really anxious that I wasn’t keeping up with this blog.

So I’ve decided to check in and give my thoughts on why I’m struggling with four books in my TBR pile right now. At least maybe I’ll feel less stress about not writing.

Other Worlds Than These-Edited by John Joseph Adams

Started: 1/23/2013

I started this anthology of short stories way back in January of 2013. I remember that I started it because I was between books and didn’t know what to read next.  I like to insert short stories into those breaks between books because you can always read one story and put the anthology down when you pick up a novel. I guess I just don’t pick this collection up enough to finish it. I’m stalled out on page 114 out of 564 pages. I think what frustrates me the most is that I’ve really enjoyed most of the other anthologies edited by Adams.  I’m currently (actively, so I’m not counting it in this list) reading another anthology edited by him and Hugh Howey and I’m getting through it quickly. Most of the stories in Other Worlds Than These are slow paced and push the page limit of a short story too much for my liking.  Overall, I also think the collection is too long. Also, the stories, which are centered around an alternate worlds theme, all seem to have the same quiet tone.  The good thing is, it’s an anthology of short stories so there isn’t that pressure on myself to finish the whole thing before picking up something else. I do want to finish this book in the next year though.

The Hounds Of The Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Started: 2/2/2014

I started this thinking it was a short story, not a short novel and would be easy to read quickly.  It was the first book I picked up from The Coaster Book Challenge and I did make the Adventures of Sherbet Holmes drink. That turned out to be very sweet and the color of Pepto-Bismol.  My biggest issue with finishing this book is that I already have an idea as to how it ends. The Hounds of The Baskervilles is one of the most commonly referenced Holmes stories and I have seen the BBC Sherlock episode.  That’s the problem with mysteries, once you know the twist, you start asking yourself what the point is with finishing.  The likelyhood of me completing this story is pretty contingent on my desire to complete my Coaster Book Challenge Quiz so I probably will. Or I’ll get to that 50 page mark and give up but I don’t want to give up quite yet.

 The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and The Greatest Treasure Hunt In History by Robert M. Edsel, Bret Witter

Started: 2/18/2014

I think this book had the misfortune of coming to my attention at the tail end of a long non-fiction binge.  I picked it up because my boyfriend and I saw the the movie starring George Clooney and Matt Damon and thought the story was interesting while the tone of the movie was all over the place.  I had trouble sticking with this book because it jumps from place to place so much and doesn’t seem to be telling the story in chronological order.  I also found my attempts to match up actors from the movie with the people mentioned in this book distracting.  I’d  probably do better now that I have some distance from the movie but it would probably take me starting this book over from the beginning.  This is not likely to happen soon since I’ve been reading more fiction lately. Maybe I’ll pick it up the next time I want to read non-fiction.

Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? by Henry Farrell

Started: 3/2/2014

This novel caught my eye while I was running around at work one day after deciding I was done with non-fiction for the time being.  I saw this movie when I was in high school and it is creepy and campy.  I can’t believe it was up for Oscar consideration. The novel itself is just as creepy and fun as the movie, but the pacing is slower.  I’m a bit of a stickler for pacing, I like books that read fast especially if they’re rooted firmly in genre fiction.  So I lost my patience with this one.  I may skip ahead and read Whatever Happened To Cousin Charlotte? and the other two short stories included in the edition I’m reading, then come back to Baby Jane.

So there you have it,  the 3 books in limbo on my TBR pile. The books I had to rescue this weekend when my boyfriend put them away because I’d finished another book and laid it on top of the pile.  The good news is I am out of my reading slump. I have 6 books I need to get off my lazy butt and renew.  So I’m calling that the light at the end of my reading slump tunnel.  Now to stop dwelling on what is unfinished and focus on what is.  Those reviews will be forthcoming. That’s a promise I’m making more to myself than to anyone else.

 

Review: Women Behaving Badly by John Stark Bellamy II

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Title: Women Behaving Badly: True Tales of Cleveland’s Most Ferocious Female Killers

Author: John Stark Bellamy II

Publisher: Gray & Company

Genre: True Crime

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was born and bred in Cleveland and my mother was always a big fan of Cleveland history, both the mainstream and the weird. I think I received whatever gene makes you have similar reading tastes to your parent. Or I was just dragged to enough culturally relevant sights in Cleveland to have caught an interest as well.  Bellamy is one of the most prolific local writers of Cleveland history.  I discovered his books in college.  Focusing on true crime and disasters, his books and their great titles like The Maniac In The Bushes were great bus entertainment my freshman and sophomore years, when I didn’t have a car and would go home ever so often. I discovered they were also handy for either attracting other Cleveland history buffs or making me look like the weirdo on the bus, so other weirdos didn’t want to talk to me.

Women Behaving Badly is Bellamy’s latest anthology of Cleveland crime.  As the title suggests it focuses on women who committed murder. About halfway through, this book gave me a serious case of deja vu. At first I thought I had just heard some of these stories growing up but I soon discovered that many of the stories in this anthology had been culled from other Bellamy anthologies.  I found this disappointing.  Has Bellamy told all the stories of murder and mayhem that Cleveland has to offer? Maybe, maybe not.  I still enjoyed Bellamy’s storytelling. These stories still made me want to explore the city I live in to find the areas mentioned.  I discovered I used to live very close to the house where Eva Kaber had her husband killed. I don’t know why this stuff interests me except I think the good, bad and the weird make up the complete story of an city.  Overall, I think it might be time I move on to another storyteller, see if they have any fresh stories to tell. about the city I call home.

Review: The Circle by Dave Eggers

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Title: The Circle

Author: Dave Eggers

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf

Genre: General Fiction

Rating: 4 out 5 stars

 

At the beginning of The Circle, Mae Holland has just started working for the titular company, an internet conglomerate that seems like a cross between Google and Facebook.  We follow her progression as a newbie in CE, or “Customer Experience”, as she climbs her way up the corporate ladder.  As Mae becomes more intrenched with The Circle she seems to lose who she is as a person and becomes addicted to the very technology the company she works for produces.  The Circle is shadier than it looks from the outside, but will Mae learn that before she falls victim to it’s siren song of connecting the world through the sharing of information?

This book is one focused more on themes than on plot and that is what makes it interesting.  Mae’s climb to her very public role in the Circle doesn’t seem all that interesting at first glance.  But the more I read, the more I started to see similariies between The Circle and the world built in George Orwell’s 1984. At one point I described this book as 1984 if Orwell had a better understanding of how future technology would actually work. Eggers has the advantage of living with this technology.  

Eggers uses The Circle to discuss the ramifications of social media and other current technologies taken to an extreme.  Issues of privacy and social media addiction are examined all while still making the working world of The Circle look rather appealing. Who, at first glance, wouldn’t want to work at a company that really cares about its employees overall well-being? But what if that same company started advertising all of its employees private information to the world? These are just a couple of issues that The Circle touches upon.  The suspense in this novel feeds off how the reader feels about social media and technology and how much privacy we should give up to be able to interact with one another. There were times when I thought Eggers might just be a little too paranoid about the dangers of technology but then I’d think about how I am not currently forced to put all of my information up on Facebook and Twitter. What if I was? Would I feel different about social media if it became mandatory, either as part of my citizenry or part of my job? The questions that The Circle made me ask myself made me enjoy this novel. It’s a book where not much happens but what does happen gets the reader’s mind churning.