Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls

I read Tampa, by Alissa Nutting, some time ago. And as hard as the story was to read, I was absolutely blown away by it. In Tampa, the main character is a middle school teacher who is obsessed with one of her students. She begins a sexual relationship with him. She is clearly a pedophile, preying on young men, but Nutting writes her so vividly and thoroughly, that even though you know what she is doing is beyond reprehensible, you feel badly for her because she lives such a miserable life. Tampa is a book that has stayed with me ever since I first read it.

Because I enjoyed Tampa so much, I wanted to read more of Nutting’s work, so I grabbed this short story collection, which (according to Goodreads) appears to be her only other published work. One is forthcoming in 2017, though. I admit that I’m not a huge short story fan. I can handle one here or there, but overall, I enjoy novels much more. That said, I really liked this collection a lot. The stories are all very adult oriented, namely sex in space, injecting ants into your body in the future, watching garden gnomes have sex (I loved this one, actually), going to Hell, and confronting the ghost of your mother.

I look forward to reading more from Nutting. I’ve been very impressed with how she handles taboo and unpleasant topics with care and, oftentimes, humor. To write such a varied collection of short stories shows her creativity and imagination knows no bounds. I highly recommend both of her books.

Murder in Missoula

Here’s another book I got from Netgalley. I tend to select thrillers because I really do enjoy a good mystery, but this one left me wanting a bit more.

This story isn’t exactly a mystery, because you know who the killer is almost from the beginning. Instead, you are trying to see if the killer will be caught, who will figure out the killer’s identity, are there others involved, will an innocent person be arrested, and so on. I won’t tell you if any of the above questions are answered, though, but I will say the book does have a resolution. Whether it was an appealing one is left up to the reader.

My biggest issue with this book was the lack of emotion from any characters. A woman is murdered and her best friend just drinks a lot of wine as a result. I understand trying to drown your sorrows, but no tears? No sadness? It just seemed really strange to me. The main character, who is involved with the murdered woman, just needs to find the killer. He doesn’t show much sadness for the death, either. This was just really bizarre to me. Maybe I’m being too particular, but the characters just seemed really flat.

Overall, this was a pretty easy read, but not one that left me with tingles or anything. It was just a mediocre story.

Boy’s Life

Last year, I read Swan Song and absolutely loved it. I then recommended it to a friend, who also loved it. Swan Song is a wonderful book of horror, suspense, dystopia mixed with heart, character, and love. And even though it’s long and daunting, I read it quickly and vowed to read more by the author.

Which brings me to Boy’s Life by Robert McCammon. Just hearing a synopsis, I wasn’t moved to read this one. The premise, a year in one boy’s life, just didn’t appeal to me. However, I was completely wrong. I loved this book so much. Yes, it is one year in the life of Cory, a 12 year old living in Zephyr, Alabama in the 1960s, but it is much more than this.

The book starts with Cory and his father witnessing a murder, and the “whodunit” lasts through the entire novel, but it’s not a heavy storyline. Most of the book is told in vignettes about Cory, his friends, his family, and the people of the town. I laughed out loud a few times, namely at a monkey who terrorizes a Wed evening church service. I almost teared up at the end when Cory goes back to his town after having left for a number of years. Cory spends his year mourning losses, reveling in simple joys, discovering who he is, and becoming a man, whether he realizes it or not.

I grew up in a small town in the south, so Cory’s story resonated with me. Even though it wasn’t the 1960, the small town feel was still pervasive. Cory is a good kid from page one, and it was refreshing to read a book that was not only beautifully written, but one that captured life as a kid so perfectly.

The Brothers Karamazov

My gosh. I can’t believe I finished this book. It took me months! I’ve been reading off and on since the spring, and today, I sat down, knocked out the last 25 pages, and completed this beast!

Crime and Punishment is one of my favorite books. I’ve read it several times. I’ve taught it several times. I truly think it is a masterpiece. That said, it doesn’t even begin to hold a candle to this one. These brothers are something on an entirely different level.

The book is over twice as long as Crime and Punishment, with good reason. There is a lot of religious commentary in it, but none of that drags. It’s fascinating, honestly, and I would love to do some research into Dostoevsky to see what his religious beliefs were. This book is also a reflection of Russian politics and criminal world. About halfway through the book, a murder is committed. The second half is dedicated solely to finding the killer, the confession, the trial, and the sentencing and aftermath on all the parties involved. Learning about the Russian jury system, prosecution, and trial procedure of the time was really interesting.

If you are new to Russian literature, get your feet wet with C&P. It’s a lot more reader friendly. And once you are hooked, grab this monster and enjoy.

No One Knows

I managed to get a lot of thrillers from Netgalley, including this one. I like a good mystery, especially one that is unique, has a great plot twist, or leaves me thinking. And up until the last few pages, I was ready to give this book four stars. However, the forced plot twist at the end dropped it to two stars. I was really disappointed by the time the book was over.

Without giving too much away, the main character, Aubrey, is mourning the death of her husband. He went missing five years ago and, since so much time has passed, he has been declared dead. Aubrey has spent much of this time either incarcerated, drunk, or barely hanging on. She was suspected of her husband’s murder, given the amount of blood found in their home, but was found not guilty due to the lack of evidence. She drank a lot just to numb the pain. But after hitting rock bottom, she cleaned herself up, got a teaching job, and is putting her life back together. Until a man, looking much like her husband, enters her life.

I really was okay with the majority of this book. Is he dead? Did she do it? Did his mother, due to inherit a lot of money? Did his jailbird father? What about his mystery man who seems to know a lot about Aubrey? All of this, thankfully, is resolved by the end of the book, and there are a few plot twists along the way, but the final one just did me in. It was so unbelievable completely out of the realm of possibility given the rest of the book, that it just infuriated me. I have pretty high standards when it comes to plot twists. Even if I see them coming, that’s fine, but it has to be plausible. That’s my one requirement, and this book failed it, miserably.

 

The Moon Dwellers

I might have hit the wall with YA dystopian. Not necessarily because of this book in particular, but I just don’t really enjoy it anymore. Stuff is too watered down and predictable. The two of the three series (Harry Potter, Twilight, The Hunger Games) that revolutionized YA and opened new doors for writers are worth reading. I hated Twilight, but I admit that it did shake things up in the paranormal romance dept. And each series just has so many spin offs (some worth reading, most worth skipping) and I feel like I’m done with this particular one. Maybe because I’m not a young adult.

The Moon Dwellers isn’t anything new. Set in the future, a young girl doesn’t know what has come of her family, but she has an electric connection with a young man who is the president’s son, but the son doesn’t want to be like his dad, so he runs away to find this mystery girl, so on and so forth.

A few YA dystopian books come to mind that *are* worth reading: The Legend series, The Chaos Walking series, and the Red Rising series. Other than that, the rest are just mediocre spin offs that are good for quick mindless reads. There is a place for these kinds of books. Sometimes I just want something simple to escape into. And, again, I’m not a young adult, so maybe the appeal of this kind of book is different for the target audience.

I have the rest of this series on my Kindle, as well a few other YA books, but for the most part, I think I’m on a YA break for awhile.