Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Let me preface this by saying I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority on this book. But I didn’t love it. The premise is great. June is 14 and adores her uncle Finn, who happens to be a world-renowned painter.  He’s also dying of AIDS. As his last painting, Finn wants to make a portrait of June and her sister, Greta. After Finn’s death (not really a spoiler, it’s in the Goodreads summary), Finn’s boyfriend, the love of his life, reaches out to June. They are both mourning and need each other.

June and the boyfriend, Toby, form an unlikely bond. All of this is perfectly fine. The plot really didn’t bother me. My big issue with this book is the overused “people keeping secrets” trope. It. Drives. Me. Insane. I just don’t think quality writing should use this as a major plot device. It’s too easy and not very creative. And this ENTIRE book is just people keeping secrets from each other. June and Greta keep secrets from each other. Their mother (Finn’s sister) keeps secrets from them. Finn keeps secrets from everyone. June keeps her friendship with Toby a secret. It is just exhausting. I would much rather read a book about people dealing with grief and being able to lean on each other rather than alone in their grief, not communicating, suffering more.

I know this trope doesn’t bother everyone, but it is a pet peeve of mine. The one books that used this trope and got it right was Everything I Never Told You. And I can’t give you a good reason why it worked in this book. Possibly the writing was more elevated than in most books. Possibly the character’s nationality lead them to keep quiet. Or maybe I was just in the right mood for this book. In any case, Tell the Wolves I’m Home is still worth reading. The story itself is really beautiful.

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Horns

We all know how much I love Stephen King. My goal is to read everything he has written. Since he’s so prolific, I’m reading his new ones when they come out, and then trying to catch one or two old ones each year. This year I read The Stand, am currently reading The Outsider, have Insomnia to read next month, and then another new one in the fall, Elevation. When I heard his kid was publishing under a pseudonym (kinda… his name is Joseph Hillstrom King) I was skeptical. However, I appreciated that he kept his real last name out of the picture so he could be judged on his own merit. He has four novels and two short story collections out. Horns is the third book of his I have read. I started with NOS4A2 and that book scared the crap out of me. I recently read The Fireman and enjoyed that a lot. So, when I needed to read a book with a cover I hate, I opened up my kindle, changed it to picture view instead of list view and found Horns. For some reason, my Kindle version has the movie cover. Now, I love Daniel Radcliffe and I’m sure he’s great in this movie, but I really dislike movie covers on books.

Ignatius Perrish wakes up one morning with Horns growing out of his head. He quickly realizes people can see the horns, but quickly forget they are there. He also realizes people tell him their deepest darkest secrets. A year ago, Ig lost his girlfriend. She was raped and murdered, Ig was accused of it but evidence was destroyed, so the police had no choice but to let him go. Ig professed his innocence, but people still think he is guilty. Now that everyone confesses their secrets, Ig realizes some truths from his own family, including who killed his girlfriend. Ig makes it his mission to bring the killer to justice.

Joe Hill does some great writing. He has one novel that I haven’t read, and I will definitely make a point to get to that one. I wouldn’t say Horns is graphically scary, but it is psychologically scary. You really get sucked into Ig’s revenge plot.

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

I’ve been meaning to read this book for ages. I’ve been aware of Christopher Moore for ages, own a few of his books, but haven’t gotten around to reading any of them. This was recommended to me by several people in my online book group, and, being non-religious, I knew it wouldn’t be offensive. But fair warning, if you take your religion seriously, I wouldn’t read this one.

Not that the warning is out of the way, let me just say this book is hilarious. Mary Magdalene wants to grow up to be a fisherman, but she instead ends up as a fisher of men. Ha! The story follows Jesus (or Joshua, in this book) and his best friend Levi (called Biff) as children all the way through the end. They travel together to discover other religions, ethnicities, and plenty of women (although Joshua doesn’t partake). All these travels make Joshua learn the true meaning of diversity and inclusion.

Once their travels are finished, they return home and then the general plot of Jesus’s remaining years, according to the Bible, is resumed. We meet Judas and Pontius Pilate. We see the “end” of Joshua’s life, although there are some twists that are, of course, not in the Bible.

I’m sure there were a lot of jokes that I didn’t get simply because my knowledge of the Bible is pretty bare bones, but I really enjoyed this book. Given the above warning, decide if this book is for you or not, but if so, you’ll get a good laugh out of it.

The Woman in Cabin 10

I like a good thriller. And after reading Gone Girl and In the Woods, I got a bit spoiled with well written stories that kept me guessing. But finding a good writer has proven difficult. I think I just have high expectations, but I really want an author to be creative and not use cheap plot devices. And, granted, it has been a couple weeks since I finished this book and I have forgotten a bit, but I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads.

Here’s what I remember not liking about it. There was a lot of telling rather than showing. You spend so much time in this character’s head that nothing really happens. She is trying to figure out who the woman in cabin 10 is, why this person has vanished, and who might be behind it all. But there’s a really ridiculous plot device of the main character, Lo, being drunk and tired so she second guesses herself a lot. This is just not creative storytelling at all. And I was really disappointed that this book got such great reviews.

If anyone has great mysteries that are creative and unique, send them my way. Because I keep getting let down.

Career of Evil

Whew. Wow. This one was intense. My third round with Cormoran Strike was the best one yet. I previously read The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm and found them both great, if not a bit predictable in parts. The Silkworm is the weakest out of the three, but still worth reading. I ended up listening to 95% of this one and then couldn’t wait to see how it ended, so I grabbed my copy off the shelf and finished it up.

The plot of this one finds Robin, Cormoran’s partner, receiving a leg in the mail. It’s clearly a woman’s, but who it belongs to is quite baffling. Cormoran quickly realizes that Robin has been targeted because of him so he narrows down a list of suspects that want to hurt him. He pulls out three names from his past and begins to track them down, mostly with no luck. There’s a bit of a side plot with Robin’s personal life, but the main focus of the story is on the leg, its owner, and the killer. Most chapters are about Robin and/or Cormoran but interspersed are some about the killer, namely what he is thinking.

The police, of course, think Cormoran is targeting the men on his list out of personal vendetta, but don’t we all know by now that Cormoran is never wrong? This one kept me guessing until the end. I had no idea who the killer was, even though we hear from his perspective throughout the book. Galbraith (aka JK Rowling) has said the fourth (and final, I believe) book is finished, but there is no publication date yet. I definitely will be checking it out, though. I can’t wait to see how everything ends up.

A Higher Loyalty

For the Read Harder challenge, I had to read a celebrity memoir. This isn’t a category I was looking forward to. I like a good memoir, but I never really feel like a celebrity has anything important to say just because he or she is a celebrity. I read Troublemaker by Leah Remini, which was really interesting. But I couldn’t think of any others that I wanted to read. But when I heard Comey’s book was coming out this year, I figured he’s celebrity enough and requested it from my library.

I’m going to say this now, I didn’t vote for Trump. I don’t support most of what he says or does, though I still respect the office of the President. But I generally feel he’s an awful person and lies without conscience. I watched Comey testify last year and found him eloquent and credible, so when I heard his book was coming out, I wanted to read it to see what he really had to say about the entire mess. Most of his book, however, isn’t about Trump. Only the last 60 pages or so take place with the current administration. Most of the book is about formative events in Comey’s life, getting robbed as a teenager by a home intruder, first jobs that taught him lessons, and finding his career path as an attorney. These parts were really interesting and gave a lot of background to Comey’s personality.

If you have seen Comey’s interviews, you know a good chunk of the Trump debacle. But the book is a lot more than that. This isn’t a good I would necessarily buy or read again, but I was glad my library had several copies because I did enjoy reading it and learning more about a man I have come to respect.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here

I’m working my way through Patrick Ness’s books. So far, I’ve read Chaos Walking, Release, More Than This review, and A Monster Calls (why I didn’t review this, I have no idea… it was AMAZING). I only have two books of his left. And Ness is easily one of my favorite authors. His works are so varied, which I really appreciate. The Chaos Walking trilogy is inventive and dystopian. Release is realistic. A Monster Calls is more of a fairy tale, but hauntingly gorgeous. More Than This is, hmmmm, not at all what I saw coming, not sure how to put that into words, but it kept me guessing. And finally, we have The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which is a cross between realistic and fantasy.

Mike and his circle of friends are about to graduate high school. He and his sister, Mel, have some emotional stuff going on, on top of the prospect of graduation and moving away to college. Mike is in love with his friend, Henna, is dealing with absent parents, has a little sister who adores him and he wants to protect, and is balancing his emotional stuff. He handles a lot of this poorly. One of the best things I love about Ness’s writing is how accurate he gets teenagers. He is clearly not a teenager (judging by his twitter photo), but he hasn’t forgotten what teenage life is like. It is hard and stressful and damn near impossible at times, and Ness captures that perfectly.

The fantasy aspect of the story is in the beginnings of the chapters. There’s a strange story within a story about “indie kids” trying to keep the town from burning down. There are blue lights, zombie animals, and a character who can heal others. So, set inside this very real high school setting is a fantasy world living parallel.

Like all his others, I loved this book. He has yet to write something that I didn’t enjoy. And don’t ask me which one is his best. I can’t tell you that because my favorite might not speak to someone else like it did to me. However, each one has something to offer, so I beg you to read everything of his. He’s just amazing.