Mini-Review: Fante Bukowski by Noah Van Sciver

Fante Bukowski by Noah Van Sciver
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: July 22, 2015
Source: Borrowed

Noah Van Sciver’s latest graphic novella drops in on the life of the self-styled, aspiring young writer, Fante Bukowski, as he delusively makes his way to literary fame and fortune, one drink at a time. Living in a cheap hotel, consorting with the debased and downtrodden, searching for that golden idea that will rocket him to the success he yearns for as the great American novelist, and to get respect from his father once and for all. But, there’s just one problem: Fante Bukowski has no talent for writing.

If I had to describe the plot of this book in one sentence, it would be “an entitled man thinks the world should fawn over his terrible writing.” This is going to be a pretty short review because this is a pretty short book and I don’t have a ton of feelings about it. I think it’s one of those things you’re either going to like or you’re not.

I enjoyed this one at the beginning when it was really satirizing its subject matter, but as the book went on, I was just annoyed. I was annoyed by Fante’s attitude and his entitlement and all of the cliches.

At least I laughed exactly three times while I was reading it.

Have you read Fante Bukowski? Have you read any very strange books recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I feel differently about now that time has passed

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is a total freebie, so I scrolled back through the depths of the TTT archives to find a topic that sounded fun that I hadn’t done yet. I decided to go with books I feel differently about now that time has passed.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

original (2012) rating: ★★★★☆

I very vividly remember reading this book during my last shift of my last college job. I was completely engrossed. I had to know what happened next. Looking back, there are a lot of problems with this book. The whole attitude toward suicide in this book is problematic at best, and Hannah blaming her suicide on several classmates and forcing them to not only listen to her tapes but also pass them along so everyone else can find out their “crimes” is just… not great. I couldn’t even make it halfway through the first season of the show.

Twilight (series) by Stephenie Meyer

original (2006) rating: ★★★★★

I didn’t have a Goodreads account when I first read Twilight, but please believe me when I say that I was obsessed. I thought that this book was the greatest thing. Edward and Bella were meant to be. I don’t think that this book is the worst thing ever written, but I can definitely recognize the problems it has now that I’m older.

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

original (2006-ish) rating: ★★★☆☆

I was about sixteen years old the first time that I read The Catcher in the Rye, and while I didn’t hate it, I also didn’t really appreciate it. I thought Holden was a bit annoying. I didn’t really like the writing style. I just didn’t click with it. I re-read it last year and absolutely adored it.

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

original (2017) rating: ★★★★☆

This was the first collection of Instagram-type poetry that I ever read, and I more or less enjoyed it, so I gave it four stars. As time has gone on, I’ve learned that basically all of these collections are the same, and about half of the poems in each collection are just sentences with line breaks.

(anybody can write
sentences with line breaks
that doesn’t make it

The Naughty Corner by Jasmine Haynes

original (2014) rating: ★★★★☆

The Naughty Corner was one of the first erotic novels I ever read, and because of that, I think I liked it a lot more then than I would now. Looking back, there isn’t anything particularly exciting about this book. It’s kind of a gross concept, to be honest, and I feel like it would probably get one star if I read it today.

The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

original (2013) rating: ★★★★☆

When I first read the first three books of the Mortal Instruments series back in 2013, I was swept away by the world of the Shadowhunters. As I continued on with the series, I was really disappointed by the lack of plot and character development. Looking back, this series is basically just a bunch of popular books thrown together with some fake incest added in for good measure. Add to that all of the Cassandra Clare drama I’ve learned about, and I’ll just stay away from this series (and her others).

Under My Skin by Shawntelle Madison

original (2014) rating: ★★★★☆

Having re-read my review for this book, here’s what I can tell you I liked about this book at the time: the intriguing plot and the well-developed characters. Thinking back, all I can remember is being really confused about what was happening and wondering when I was going to get any resolution at all. Apparently it all came together in the end, but I think this would probably get two stars if I read it today.

Off the Record by K.A. Linde

original (2014) rating: ★★★☆☆

To be honest, I’m not sure quite why I gave this book three stars when I originally read it since I actually hated it. I hated the characters, I hated the relationship, I hated everyone’s attitude, and I didn’t even think the writing was very good.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

original (2016) rating: ★★★☆☆

Sometime between 2016 and now, I’ve become much harsher in my ratings. I didn’t really enjoy this book very much and thought it didn’t really live up to the hype, and yet I still gave it three stars for some reason. I don’t think it’s terrible or anything, but I did think that the ending was completely over-the-top and far too many convenient things happened for the book to seem even remotely realistic.

Permanent Record by Leslie Stella

original (2013) rating: ★★★☆☆

This is another book that I didn’t actually like that I mysteriously gave three stars. It’s been years since I read this, but I remember feeling so relieved once I finished, and getting rid of this in one of my unhauls was probably one of the easiest decisions I’ve made.

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! What are some books you’ve changed your mind about? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.

Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever. Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.

Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.

I’m not sure what it was that drew me to Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me. It might have been the cover. It might have been the catchy title. It might have been the references to a toxic relationship and strong friendship from the synopsis. Whatever it was, this book ended up being one of my most anticipated of 2019.

I’m usually a little bit scared to read my most anticipated books, but I got an email from my library that this was due back in three days, and when I went to renew it, I saw that there were already four more holds on it. I ended up reading it all in one sitting and loving it so, so, so much. I’m not sure that there was anything about this graphic novel that I did not love.

Let’s start with the characters.

Freddy could be any teenage girl. She’s in a relationship with a really popular, really cool girl. She can’t believe that she’s captured Laura Dean’s attention, so she just kind of goes along with the poor treatment she receives in the relationship. Regardless of what else is going on in her life, she’s expected to be there when Laura Dean wants her, but she’s also expected to be okay with it when Laura Dean decides, yet again, that the relationship isn’t quite doing it for her and she wants to break up. Freddy doesn’t necessarily like it that Laura Dean treats her like this, but she also isn’t necessarily looking for more from life.

Laura Dean is, as you might think, kind of self-centered and seemingly oblivious to the fact that she’s treating Freddy really unfairly. She’s very popular with a lot of friends, yet she’ll call Freddy in a panic asking her to come over because she’s found herself alone for ten minutes. I almost felt bad for her at some points in the book, but then I remembered that I’ve been the Freddy in that situation and lost all sympathy for her.

There are some great side characters as well, particularly Freddy’s best friend, Doodle. Doodle and Freddy struggle a bit with their friendship throughout the course of the book as Freddy abandons Doodle over and over again so that she can spend more time with Laura Dean. Their friendship, though, was one of my favorite things about this book. I loved how it showed that despite arguments and people behaving badly and whatever other drama is going on in their life, your true friends will be there for you when you need them.

On to the actual story.

The truth is, there isn’t a ton of plot in this graphic novel. It’s mostly about Freddy’s relationships, both with Laura Dean and with Doodle. Freddy is addressing an advice columnist for a lot of the book, which I thought was a really fun and interesting way to frame the story. I often find myself bored when I read a character-driven story like this, but in this case, it really worked.

The last thing to mention, since this is a graphic novel, is the art.

I loved the art. I think I need to find everything Rosemary Valero-O’Connell has ever illustrated and read it because everything, from the art style to the way the panels were framed to the color palette, was amazing. This was probably one of the best-illustrated graphic novels I’ve ever read, and I just want to read more books like this.

In the end, would I recommend this? 100% yes.

Have you read Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me? What’s the last book that lived up to your (high) expectations? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schotz

The Secret Language of Cats by Susanne Schotz
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Have you ever wondered what your cat is saying?

Cats do not meow randomly, nor do they growl or hiss because they have nothing better to do. Cat sounds have a purpose, and they can carry important messages, whether for us or other cats.

Susanne Schotz is hard at work on breaking the cat code. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden, where a long-standing research program is proving that cats do actually use vocal communication–with each other and with their human caretakers. Understanding the vocal strategies used in human-cat communication will have profound implications for how we communicate with our pets, and has the potential to improve the relationship between animals and humans within several fields, including animal therapy, veterinary medicine and animal sheltering.

In The Secret Language of Cats, Schotz offers a crash course in the phonetic study of cat sounds. She introduces us to the full range of feline vocalizations and explains what they can mean in different situations, and she gives practical tips to help us understand our cats better.

I’ll be honest here and say that the only reason I checked this out from the library was that cute kitten on the cover. I mean, I do have an interest in linguistics (I did major in it in college, after all) and I do love cats, but nonfiction about felines isn’t really my thing. Quite honestly, after I picked this up and remarked on the cuteness of the cover, I should have just put it back down, because this book was some nonsense.

The thing is, if you’ve owned cats for any portion of your life, or been close with anyone who has owned cats, or even just spent like two minutes with a cat one time, nothing in this book will come as a surprise to you. I mean, was it fun to see the various noises a cat can make transcribed using IPA? Sure, I guess. Was I happy that cats weren’t hooked up to any crazy machinery to make this book happen? Yes. But was there a point to this book? Not really.

Because aside from the transcription of cat noises into IPA, the majority of this book is just the author saying, “My cat makes this noise in this context and if you want to go to my blog, you can listen to a recording.” The book is also incredibly repetitive, stating over and over and over and over that cats make hissing and growling noises when they’re mad and chirps and purrs when they’re happy.

Overall, the book feels more like observances that will be common sense to any cat owner mixed with a lot of phonetic observations. I’d hardly call any of this a revelation, and I’d hardly call anything that the author discusses in this book a “language” since it has no known rules. For a nonfiction book, this was at least a rather quick read, but more than anything else, I’m just disappointed.

#ps19: a book by an author whose first and last names start with the same letter

Have you read The Secret Language of Cats? What’s the last book that seriously disappointed you? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

  • Review: We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar
  • Review: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I’d like to see more of (or at all)
  • Review: Been Here All Along by Sandy Hall
  • Tag: Sunshine Blogger Award (Take 12)
  • Review: The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

  • Nothing this week!

1 thing this week:

  • I’m really excited to be part of The Babysitters Coven blog tour in September! I’ve been looking forward to this book for a really long time.

Blog hopping:

Song of the week:

I’m still trying to decide how I feel about this song, but I’ve sure heard it a lot this week.

How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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