Monday, September 1, 2014

Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

PUBLISHER: Algonquin Books
PUBLICATION DATE: January 1st, 2006
SOURCE/FORMAT: Library book! 
KEYWORDS: circus, freak show, scary job yo
Jacob Jankowski thought he had a plan. He was about to graduate from an Ivy League school with his veterinary degree, and then he was going to partner up with his dad's practice. But when his parents unexpectedly die, and he learns that his father was working for trade on the pet's of Depression-crippled families instead of for money, he looses everything. So he does what any orphaned son would do in the 30's: he hops a train. But it's not just any ol' freighter, it's the train for the Benzini Brother's Most Spectacular Show on Earth! Jacob soon becomes ensnared in the world of workers vs performers, exotic animals, freaks, bootleg liquor, and the lovely Marlena. It doesn't take long for him to learn that the circus is just a big illusion, and you should never mix work with love. 
I love me a good circus story. I ate up GEEK LOVE by Katherine Dunn, and I am way too excited for the new season of American Horror Story. For some reason, I have just always been drawn into the world of circus' and freak shows, despite never having been to one myself. For some reason I wasn't sure, fully, if I wanted to read this. Mostly because it was sooooo popular a few years ago, and it's been made into a movie and I'll admit that I was definitely pleasantly surprised. I actually ate this book up in two and a half days. This book reads lightning fast, the pacing is really nice and the writing style is simple enough to just flow on and on and on. In each page there is a new revelation or piece of action that kept me glued to the page, and as I was reading it was playing like a movie in my head which I loved. There was super great descriptions, and Gruen does a fab job at pulling the reader into the world of a 1930's circus which I was OBSESSED WITH. 
That moment, the music screeched to a halt. There was an ungodly collision of brass, reed, and percussion--trombones and piccolos skidded into cacophony, a tuba farted, and the hollow clang of a cymbal wavered out of the big top, over our head and into oblivion.
Grady froze, crouched over his burger with his pinkies extended and lips spread wide.
I looked from side to side. No one moved a muscle--all eyes were directed at the big top. A few wisps of hay swirled lazily across the hard dirt.
"What is it? What's going on?" I said.
"Shh," Grady hissed.
The band started up again, playing "Stars and Stripes Forever."
"Oh Christ. Oh shit!" Grady tossed his food onto the table and leaf up, knocking over the bench.
"What? What is it?" I yelled, because he was already running away from me.
"The Disaster March!" he screamed over his shoulder.
I jerked around to the fry cook who was ripping off his apron. "What the hell's he talking about?"
"The Disaster March," he said, wrestling the apron over his head. "Means something's gone bad--real bad." 
That was on the second page. With a hook like that, how could you not get sucked into the action? As perfect as the pacing and world building was in this novel, I did take issue with one of the major plot lines which was the budding relationship between Jacob and the horse girl Marlena. Jacob gets adopted into the show as the circus vet, an easy in once he mentions he was about to have an Ivy League education. He's never worked on a circus, is unfamiliar with the lingo, and feels like giving up. Then he catches a glimpse of the liberty horses act, lead by the beautiful and delicate Marlena. After seeing the magic of her act and the love she has for the horses, he makes a pact to stay. For the animals, and because there's a big case of LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT for Jacob with Marlena. The issue with Marlena is that she is married to Jacob's boss August, the Equestrian Director. While their relationship was sweet sometimes, I didn't fully buy that she was worth the risk, and there are A LOT of risks when it comes to falling in love with your boss' wife. We see August being a terrible human/incapable of being a good husband to Marlena, but we don't really see what makes her so special. She didn't have much of a personality, despite her having such a large presence in the circus. 

Despite the somewhat flat relationship between Jacob and Marlena, there were a lot of other solid relationships between friends and enemies. I felt like a fly on Jacob's shoulder as he navigated the world of caring for exotic animals, and learned the shady, shady ways of Uncle Al, the owner of the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. There are a lot of characters that I really like, but I didn't trust a single person. This kept the tension high throughout the entire novel, and I didn't know what to fully expect. There is also a lot of drama of all kinds. Police raids! Sex with the cooch girl! Loving your boss' wife! Drunken brawls! The constant threat of being red lighted! At every page turn there was always something happening to push the story forward and keep things engaging.
I'm blubbering like the ancient fool I am, that's what.
I guess I was asleep. I could have sworn that just a few seconds ago I was twenty-three, and now here I am in this wretched, desiccated body.
I sniff and wipe my stupid tears, trying to pull myself together because that girl is back, the plump one in pink. She either worked all night or I lost track of a day. I hate not knowing which.
I also wish I could remember her name, but I can't. That's how it is when you're ninety. Or ninety-three. 
WATER FOR ELEPHANTS is told in two time frames. There is the young Jacob working for the circus, and there is the old Jacob, who is living out the rest of his life in a nursing home. Old Jacob's life is not that interesting, and the parts of his story as an old man were not as engaging to me. The big story is that there is a circus being set up in the parking lot across the street, and this is what spurs Jacob into thinking about the golden days. Even though this collision of his past and present was intriguing, there just wasn't enough happening. I would've preferred to read a whole book (and maybe a second) about Jacob's life on the circus and working with the animals. Also, the way the book ends made me give an eye roll of epic proportions. I just wasn't about it :(

Even though I was't a fan of the 'present' Jacob and his relationship with Marlena on the circus, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS was a truly engaging read that was hard for me to put down. I was fully immersed in the world of a Prohibition-era circus, and there was a lot of drama that made this a quick, quick read.
Have you read this book or seen the movie? What did you think? How does the movie add up? (I still need to see it!)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review: 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

PUBLISHER: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
SOURCE/FORMAT: Library book! 
KEYWORDS: celebrity, heiress, shit jobs, family
Lexington Larrabee is about to be a multi-millionaire, and she hasn't had to do an hour of work for it. Unless partying in major cities around the globe and being hounded by the paparazzi is work. She is the daughter of the Richard Larrabee, after all, and heiress to the Larrabee Media empire. She's been surrounded by money her whole life, but she is just days away from receiving her $25 million dollar trust fund check on her eighteenth birthday. She has big plans for this check. A summer cruise in Europe, and then getting the hell out of her lavish yet empty feeling home, and away from the critical eye of her rarely present father. Then, after a drunken night out, she crashes her $500,000 Mercedes into the front of a convenience store, and her father decides that enough is enough: if she wants her trust fund check, she has to work 52 low wage jobs, one per week, for a year. Before she knows it, her summer plans turn from partying in Europe, to learning how to assemble burritos and use a vacuum. If she didn't hate her father already, this is surely the final nail in the coffin. Or so she thinks.
Guilty pleasure confession time: I love the shit out of stuff like this. I keep up with the Kardashians. I'm sadly addicted to the Kim Kardashian Hollywood app. I read the entire GOSSIP GIRL series in high school. I watch Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. Etc. Etc. For some reason, I've always been drawn to the lifestyles of the rich and the famous, and when I read the premise of this book, I knew it was something I would probably eat up. It reminded me of that ol' classic show, The Simple Life, and after a particularly dark read, I needed some fluff in my life. 
Lexington Larrabee is one sassy bitch, and I loved that. It's apparent that she has been raised in a rich household, in bratty and sad ways. When she first learns of her father's plans to withhold her trust fund check, she tries to skip town to her birthday bash in Vegas. Much to her dismay, her butler won't drive her to the airport. When she drives herself there, the pilot won't fly her, and her quick thinking is really put into overdrive. It was hilarious to read her inner tantrums over being met with resistance, and the way she comes to conclusions on how to do things. It is also painfully obvious that her father is not around much. Her mother died when she was young, and every 'warm' family moment with her father and his string of short-lived marriages is done for the benefit of a magazine photographer. Her strained relationship with him made me think this book should have been called 52 (MORE) REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER, just because he didn't seem to have any redeeming qualities, even before she had to start working. 
Bruce looks like he's stifling a chuckle, which manages to piss me off even more..."These jobs are...well, slightly less glamorous. Minimum-wage-type stuff. Intended to teach you something about life. To show you how the other half lives."
"What other half?" I snarl.
"The half that doesn't receive a five-hundred-thousand-dollar Mercedes convertible and then crash it into a convenience store the very next day."
...Bruce hands me a piece of paper. "Here's a complete listing of the jobs you'll be undertaking over the next year. You're schedule to start tomorrow."
I gruffly snatch the paper from his hand and glance over the list. It seems to go on forever. My eyes graze over words like janitor, waitress, dishwasher, fast-food restaurant employee, and gas station attendant, and I can't bear to read any further. I chuck the paper back in his direction. "No frickin' way I'm doing any of those things!"
Lexington is accompanied to each job by Luke, an intern for her father's company who ensures that she get to each job on time. Their relationship is strained, to say the least. Luke looks up to Lexington's father, and Lexington can't ever figure out why, especially because he's not much of a father. Also, Luke is the one who has to take her to the dreaded jobs which is bad enough as it is. It was funny watching Lexington try to keep up with her new jobs, and the overdramatic way that she handles her "bruised and battered" body from doing manual labor. Some jobs she genuinely loves, some jobs she loathes, and some jobs it's only her co-workers that make it something worthwhile. Each week she is also required to send in a progress report with what she learned from each job. Sometimes she takes this seriously, other time she just learns that cleaning toilets sucks. These progress reports were also a good way for us to read about her 52 jobs, without having to read about her going to all of them. I especially loved the reasoning for each job, which we learn at the end. It was actually a powerful message, and it really got through to Lexington. 
So this is what real families do.
They talk. Make each other laugh. Dole out warm smiles and tender looks as freely as the sun doles out light.
They sit together in one place. At one table. Sharing one meal. Without a photographer there to document it for the next issue of Time magazine.
And then, like an arctic wind, the reality of the situation hits me with an empty sting.
They're not the strange and unfamiliar ones. I am. I'm the one who doesn't fit in. I'm the one who no one can quite figure out. 
Being the reality-TV-pop-culture junkie that I am, I also enjoyed seeing 'behind the scenes' of a family like this. The glamorous parties. All of 'the help.' The strong presence of media manipulation and a hounding publicist who is obsessed with image. I really liked getting that perspective into this world. I also appreciated how much Lexington, and even her father, grows out of this experience. At first it seems like she won't make it the full 52 weeks, but there are small things that she takes away from each job that ultimately molds her. Honestly, out of the end I would have really loved an Undercover Boss type moment where she reaches out to people she worked with and 'blesses' them in some way, but I thought the end was still pretty darn touching. 

52 REASONS TO HATE MY FATHER was the fluff I was wanting out of this read, but it ended up being much more than I expected! There's main character growth, a sassy narrator, and an inside look into the life of an heiress trying to earn a living like everyone else. I did wish that there was something about her father closer to the beginning that could help us like him a little before he dumps this on her, but he ends up growing by the end of this book, too. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
PUBLICATION DATE: April 15, 2014 
SOURCE/FORMAT: Library book! 
KEYWORDS: sister relationships, love letters, first loves
Every girl handles love lost differently. Some choose to cry it out over their favorite sappy movie. Others eat it away with a pint (or two) of Ben and Jerry's. And Lara Jean chooses to write love letters to the former objects of her affection. She doesn't ever send them, God no, she tucks them safely away in a vintage hat box in her closet. But then one day at school, Peter, one of the boys she's written letters to, approaches her with a note that looks mighty familiar. The impossible became possible. Her love letters, five of them exactly, have been shipped out to all of the boys she's loved before. As if she needed something else to deal with. Her hold-it-together big sister Margot has just moved to Europe, and now she has to take care of her dad and little sister, all while doing damage control for her letter. 

There has been a lot of hype around this book since it came out (on my birthday!) and I dragged my feet on picking it up for some reason. I don't know if it was the fact that this book is so highly praised or if it was because I haven't been in a fluffy reading mood, but now I regret that I waited so freaking long to pick this up! The best part was this book was not at all what I expected it to be. The general synopsis of this book pointed me in the direction of really awkward boy drama. Lara Jean is forced to confront these boys all of a sudden, some of which she has only communicated to through these love letters, so there is a lot of awkward drama, but that isn't what is at the heart of this story. 
I like to save things. Not important things like whales or people or the environment. Silly things. Porcelain bells, the kind you get at souvenir shops. Cookie cutters you'll never use, because who needs a cooke in the shape of a foot? Ribbons for my hair. Love letters. Of all the things I save, I guess you could say my love letters are my most prized possessions. 
I'll get into the boys later, because I kind of have to, duh. But first I want to talk about the amazing SISTERHOOD that is in this story. I loved that Lara Jean's older sister Margot, and younger sister Kitty, were the real stars of this novel, even before the boys. I wasn't expecting this book to have such a strong family presence so it was a pleasant surprise. Lara Jean goes through it all with her sisters. They've made pacts. They look out for each other. They lie for each other. They make compromises for each other. Each sister is also so full of personality, and Han perfectly executed what makes having a sister so special. I especially loved Kitty. She was so full of sass for being nine years old, and her timing of things to say was awesome. She is also notorious for holding a grudge, and Lara Jean has to crack the nearly impossible code of making her sibling happy again. The three girls live alone with their father, and their mother had died when they were younger. I loved that even with their mother not there, they did things to keep her spirit alive. Even their father wasn't there as much as an OB/GYN doctor, but when he was around, he got thumbs up. He is white, and does all he can to keep up with their Korean traditions, and tries really hard to be there for them.
It takes all of history class and most of English for my heart rate to slow down. I kissed Peter Kavinsky. In the hallway, in front of everybody. In front of Josh.
I didn't think this thing through, obviously. That's what Margot would say, including and especially the "obviously." If I had thought it through, I would have made up a boyfriend and not picked an actual person. More specifically, I would not have picked Peter K. He is literally the worst person I could have picked, because everybody knows him. He's Peter Kavinsky, for Pete's sake. Kavinsky of Gen and Kavinsky. It doesn't matter that they're broken up. They're an institution at this institution.  
Now for the boys. I was so torn on them. I think that the focus of this books synopsis being on them lead to me believe that there would be a LOT of boy drama, when really the drama was not that crazy. Of the five letters that get sent out, only two of them really stir the pot, and that is with Josh, and Peter. The problem with Josh is that he has been in a long-term relationship with Margot, even though Lara Jean knows that she is the one who loved him first. Peter is the ultimate boy to have a crush on in high school, who Lara Jean hasn't had feelings for since junior high. The boys were just fine. Each one had their own quirks and didn't fall into a stereotypical role. I also super appreciated the fact that Jenny Han did not make Lara Jean's love life predictable. I thought for sure that I had her fate pinned down, but it changes in a way that is realistic and surprising. 
I cross my arms. "I'd better still have enough flour."
"You look like a grandma," he says, still laughing.
"Well, you look like a grandpa," I counter. I dump the flour in my mixing bowl back into the flour canister.
"Actually, you're really a lot like my granny," Peter says. "You hate cussing. You like to bake. You stay at home on Friday nights. Wow, I'm dating my granny. Gross." 
I really enjoyed Lara Jean's narration. There are a lot of different sides to her that we get to see in action. She's quirky with a lot of cute interests like baking and scrapbooking. She orders clothes off of Japanese Street Fashion websites, and I imagine her having the cutest bedroom on the planet. She's not overly academic like her sister Margot was, but she's smart. She's half Korean, and when I thought about it, I don't think I've ever read a book with a Korean narrator ever? I liked getting little glimpses into the Song girl's culture, whether it's the bo ssam that their father tries and fails to make, or their holiday traditions brought into their world by their mother. Even though Peter (above) describes Lara Jean as a granny, I thought she was a wonderfully well-rounded narrator that was able to make me laugh, make me cry, make me shake my head, and teach me things. She was fabulous.

TO ALL THE BOYS I'VE LOVED BEFORE is a book that definitely lives up to the hype that swirls around it. It is a quirky story filled with family bonds and the awkward world of getting involved with boys. I believe this is the first book of a new series, so color me excited for the next one! I definitely won't wait so long to read it :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Bookish Street Art

One of my favorite things about my Chicago neighborhood is there is so much awesome street art. Today after taking our bikes in for a tune-up and my boyfriend getting a hair trim, we took a ride down a street that is full of art from some of the best around. This was a sweet surprise, so of course I had to take my picture in front of it. I LOVE it. Took me back to that time I saw some Maya Angelou street art last year. Officially adding "bookish street art" to the list of things I love.

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon 11 Goals & Updates!

Bout of Books
I am so excited for the Bout of Books read-a-thon! When I did it in May, I was actually a little surprised by how much I enjoyed pushing myself to read when I typically wouldn't. I also super loved connecting with other bloggers in the Twitter chats, and participating in the different challenges. These read-a-thon's also always seem to come at the perfect time when I'm in a bit of a reading slump, or not reading as much as I would typically like to. Without further ado, here are my goals & updates for the week! Check back to this post to see how I'm doing on my challenges and progress :) 

Time Devoted to Reading

My goals for reading are much like my goals during the last read-a-thon. I want to dedicate my commutes to reading. I commute via bus and train about 40 minutes each way, so that's a perfect opportunity! I would also like to commit at least half of my lunch break to reading. I started a new job last month (which I LOVE) and I get an hour long lunch break. the other half of my lunch break will be like...spent eating. I would also like to try to go to bed earlier so I can read a little before I fall asleep. 

My Goals

  • Read three books. Last year my goal was to read 2 and I read more than that, so I wanted to challenge myself more ;) 
  • Participate in two twitter chats. 
  • Participate in the challenges every day.

Books to Read

  • To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. I've already started this, but I'm only twenty pages in. 
  • One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
  • Scott Pilgrim #4 by Bryan Lee O'Malley
  • The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky


Books read today: 
   Completed: 0
   Pages read: 86
   In progress: 1, To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
Total number of books I've read: 0
Book Scavenger Hunt hosted by The Book Monsters. Follow me on Instagram @kittenroar to see my finds!

Bookish Playlist hosted by Lulo Fangirl! I loved this challenge! It was supposed to be a book we are reading this week, but a playlist is easier to make when you know the vibe of the story, so I chose one of my favorites :)

Books read today: 
   Completed: 1, To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
   Total pages read: 310
   In progress: 1
Total number of books I've read: 1
After much thought, a new OTP came to mind in the OTP challenge hosted by Infinite Ink
And I had a lot of fun creating book spine poetry! Hosted by My Little Pocketbooks:
This is where I leave you: 
in the casual vacancy
across the universe
when you are engulfed in flames

Books read today: 
   Completed: 1, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together by Bryan Lee O'Malley
   Total pages read: 515
   In progress: 1
Total number of books I've read: 2
Challenge: No challenge :( But I had a blast in the twitter chat! 

Books read today: 
   Completed: 0
   Total pages read: 568
   In progress: 1, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky
Total number of books I've read: 2
Challenge: Too lazy today :( 

Books read today: 
   Completed: 0
   Total pages read: 675
   In progress: 1, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky
Total number of books I've read: 2
Book Chain Challenge hosted by Christian Bookshelf Reviews in which we link four books by the last/first word of each book! Here is my chain: 
The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
Illuminated Poems by Allen Ginsberg
Poems by Maya Angelou

Books read today: 
   Completed: 1, The Hottest Dishes of the Tartar Cuisine by Alina Bronsky.
   Total pages read: 827
   In progress: 1, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody
Total number of books I've read: 3.5
Challenge: Eeeeeeeep

Books read today: 
   Completed: 0 
   Total pages read: 948
   In progress: 1, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody
Total number of books I've read: 3.5

Wish me luck! xo

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Review: The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison

The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: June 25, 2013
Page Count: 326
Source/Format: Library book! 
Keywords: marital problems, miscommunication, affairs, murder
Jodi has always prided herself on not being the jealous type. She knows her husband, Todd, runs around and takes lovers. As long as he provides for her, though, keeps her comfortable in their Chicago high-rise condo, and allows her to carry on with her very particular routine, she is satisfied. There's no point in causing a fuss, in being the nag. But then, Todd crosses the line, and she learns very quickly that she will do anything it takes for her to keep what is hers. 
This book has been on my radar for a while now. Last year I read and loved Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, and have been looking for a similar book since. In Gone Girl, I really loved the dual perspectives, the twists and turns, and the two characters I loved to hate. The Silent Wife has been touted as being 'better than Gone Girl' or for fans who enjoyed it. Naturally, I had high expectations, and sadly those expectations were not met. Not even close. 
At forty-five, Jodi still sees herself as a young woman. She does not have her eye on the future but lives very much in the moment, keeping her focus on the everyday. She assumes, without having thought about it, that things will go on indefinitely in their imperfect yet entirely acceptable way. In other words, she is deeply unaware that her life is now peaking, that her youthful resilience--which her twenty-year marriage to Todd Gilbert has been slowly eroding--is approaching a final stage of disintegration, that her notions about who she is and how she ought to conduct herself are far less stable than she supposes, given that a few short months are all it will take to make a killer out of her. 
Like Gone Girl, The Silent Wife is told in dual third-person perspectives, alternating between husband and wife. Where as Gone Girl's multiple perspectives pushed the story forward and kept me gripped with characters I hated, I could not find myself caring about Jodi or Todd or anything that happened to them. Jodi is a character built in routine, and we get every minute of this routine down to the very minute A lot of what we learn about Jodi's life just seemed extraneous. I didn't want to read about every time she walked the dog, served a smoked fish on crackers, perfectly fanned her magazines, or pressed her clothing. The author did a lot of work to let us know how BORING and PREDICTABLE Jodi was, so that when things started to come to a head we would be shocked and surprised. What happened, though, was I became numbed to Jodi and it made me expect something 'unpredictable.' As for Todd, he was your every day misogynist, and he didn't have any redeeming qualities that I could grasp onto that would allow me to care about what happens to him. 
He returns to his pint and his musings, trying her at intervals, finally remembering that it's Jodi he meant to call. There's a reason why he needs to speak to Jodi. He's going to tell her the news before Dean can beat him to it. But he needs to preserve his mood of celebration, and in keeping with this, instead of making the call, he buys a round for the house, which is filling up as five o'clock approaches. People around the room life a glass to him, saluting his generosity...When a group at a nearby table raises a cheer on his behalf, he says with earnest candor, "I'm just hoping that my wife doesn't know." Leaving the well-wishers to puzzle this out for themselves. 
The all around lack of communication in this novel is what mostly got to me. Jodi prides herself on her approach to marriage. She's a therapist, so she feels like she has a pretty firm grasp on how she can react. She is fully aware of her husband's affair, and yet she says absolutely nothing about it, which is frustrating because she learns A LOT about her husband in this novel and I can't imagine a woman on the face of this Earth who would have this knowledge and not say SOMETHING. There is a lot of conflict in this novel that is avoided in general with lack of dialogue and a quick summary in prose later on. There are some conversations that we see the start of, but not the finish, and we know that some shit was going to go down but we never get to hear it! Even between Jodi and Todd, the one time that they actually fight about it, we don't get to hear what they actually say to each other. We just read that Jodi is embarrassed by the scene that is created in public and her hair gets mussed up. If we had actually gotten to read what Jodi says to her husband, and other characters that create conflict in this story, this book would have been so much more riveting! We actually get more dialogue between Jodi and a professor/therapist of hers from years ago than we do between her and Todd.
And then he gets it. She's intentionally giving the occasion a commonplace twist. This is not something that can happen only once, not a special event but a staple, something to be repeated. She wants them to go on as usual, behave as if nothing has changed. Making him dinner is part of ordinary life, and routine pleasures have always been her mainstay, the crux of her happiness, the theme of her existence. A bottle of wine, a homemade meal, the delights of the domicile, predictable diversions, dependable comforts. He sees exactly where she's coming from. It's almost like a game.
He's been guilty of underestimating her. 
I will say that I was slightly surprised by the ending, in a good way, there was a twist that I had not fully expected. It avoided conflict, much like the rest of the book, but it was the one thing that I did not see coming, and I appreciated that. It was what kept this book from being a one star rating for me. Perhaps this book would have been better if it hadn't compared to Gone Girl so much, I think that the direct comparisons really had me hoping for something that this book just wasn't. There is some beautiful prose, but the constant miscommunication, lack of conflict, and unlikable characters kept me from fully enjoying this one.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Bout of Books 11!

It's that time again, y'all! Bout of books! I did my first readathon back in May and had the best time connecting with other bloggers and carving out more time in my day for reading. I couldn't wait for the next one and now it's finally (almost) here!

Bout of Books
The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, August 18th and runs through Sunday, August 24th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 11 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
Is anyone else doing Bout of Books 11?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Read now: You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik

You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Maksik
Publisher: Europa Editions
Publication Date: August 30th, 2011
Page Count: 320 
Source/Format: Library book! 
Keywords: student-teacher affairs, ex-pats, heroes

The list of books I need to read in this life time could probably circle the earth at least six times. I'm constantly adding things to my TBR list and it's hard to keep up. But when a friend texts me and says, "you need to read this book. I couldn't put it down," then that book gets a priority position on my list, and so is the story of how this book came into my life. 
William Silver is the teacher every student could want to have. He's young, charismatic, and handsome. He treats his students like adults and exposes them to real world concepts and ideas. He's invited to their parties and called by first name. But being that kind of teacher opens the door to magnetic wanted and unwanted attention. Among those students is Gilad, a disillusioned student who has become numbed to the thrill of moving from country to country with his family. The person to reawaken him is William Silver. Gilad is thrilled by having a teacher like William who trusts him and other students with complex ideas. He's inspired by his control over a room. All he wants is to gain recognition from William. And then there's Marie, a friend of a student of William's who meets him on an alcohol-fueled evening at a party. Marie finds herself swept up his charisma, and tangled up in his life. These three characters narrate as their infatuations turn into obsessions, and realize it's only so long before the perfect pedestals they stand on begin to crack.
All that attention, it's hard to resist. And if you're honest, you acknowledge that before you ever became a teacher you imagined your students' reverence, your ability to seduce, the stories you'd tell, the wisdom you'd impart. You know that teaching is the combination of theater and love, ego and belief. You know that the subject you teach isn't nearly as important as how you use it. 
What you need to know...
I mentioned in my reading habits tag that I have a horrible habit of reading Goodreads review for a book, sometimes before I even start reading. Such was the case with You Deserve Nothing, when a top reviewer posted a link to this article on Jezebel. This novel's most intriguing storyline is the relationship between William Silver and a student at his school, Marie. Much of this novel's praise came from the bold perspective on this taboo relationship. However, the author himself has allegedly found himself in hot water at a previous teaching position for his relationship with a student, and the real 'Marie' says that a lot of Marie's dialogue or anecdotes comes from real things she has told Maksik, and he exploited these things. Basically: the author could potentially be a creep. That being said, You Deserve Nothing still had me riveted and offered me a slew of things to think and reflect on.

What this book forced me to think about...
1) Hero worship: I've read a quote in various forms from many people that essentially says: the best thing you can do to preserve your heroes is to never meet them. Mr. Silver becomes a hero to Gilad. Gilad loves every word out of William's mouth, even the ones he doesn't agree with. William in general is a hero to a lot of his students, and his held on the top tier of teachers. But having such high expectations of someone you get to see every day is a dangerous practice, because eventually they are going to fall down and your view of them cracks. I think every character in this novel experiences this in one way or another.

2) Expectation vs Obligation: When You Deserve Nothing starts to reach that magical moment when everything is humming and threatening to break at any second, Will's students begin to question whether or not he can practice what he preaches. Will argues that he has never been obligated to be anyone's idol or model of perfection, but his students argue otherwise. As a teacher, there shouldn't be any obligation. It comes with the territory of putting yourself in charge. This made me think more about what I am obligated to do or be for other people versus what other people think are expected of me.
She stiffened. "Will," she said. "I will not permit you to use our classrooms to question God's existence, logic, or nature. It is one thing to discuss a character in a work of literature, it is quite another to treat the God of the Old Testament as a fictional character. This is dangerous territory. You have moral responsibility to protect your students, to steer them through works of literature, to help them see clearly. That's it, Will. That's your job. No more."
"Laetitia, I disagree." 
3) Existence. Many of William's teachings are based in philosophy, and his required reading includes a lot of existential theories and essays. William and Gilad also witness something that forces them to evaluate the fragility of human existence in general. It's some deep shit that had me pondering the ins and outs of my existence while also being thoroughly hooked in the story.

I could go on and on about this book, but then I would start to get spoilery and I don't want to ruin this book for anyone. This book was one of the best I've read in recent memory. This book made me think. It challenged my beliefs and ideas, and I was inspired by how well each narrator told their stories. The strikingly beautiful ideas that are discussed, and the borderline poetic way each character looks inside themselves to try and figure things out, kept me hooked on every single page. Plus, it's based in Paris! I especially loved that this book took us into the life of an American living in Paris without relying on big time landmarks to get the vibe in there. There was Parisian youth, riots, morning stops at the cafe, etc. I inhaled this book from cover to cover. Seriously beautiful, guys.

Question of the day: What is the most thought-provoking book you have recently read? 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review: Stay by Deb Caletti

Stay by Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: April 5th, 2011
Page Count: 313
Source/Format: Library book!
Keywords: abusive relationship, escape, ghosts
Clara has learned that it's fairly easy to get away. She assesses a problem with her famous crime novelist father. He rents a house on the coast of a sleepy seaside town. They go. She integrates. Makes friends even. But what Clara isn't so sure of, is how easy it is to keep someone away. Her ex-boyfriend, Christian, is back in her hometown, and like all of her friends, he has no idea where she ran off to. Clara has a tingling, nagging suspicion that he will find out, and soon ruin this seaside haven that she has found. She can't help but feel she's being watched everywhere she goes. And as Clara struggles with the living ghost that haunts her every move, she realized that she's not the only one in her family that had reason to escape. 
Holy moly, I was not expecting this book to do what it did. Clara tells us her story with alternating chapters, switching back and forth between her life with her father in this new home they have carved out for themselves, and her relationship with Christian. She tells us straight up that shit has gotten real, and it was too dangerous for her to stay at their house. The shifts of story with each chapter kept me hooked. It is a slow build, I will say that. Just because once I knew things were dangerous for Clara, I wanted to know right then and there what the hell was going on. I was shaking my fists at Deb Caletti like "yoooo why are you going to tell me this and then make me wait?!" The slow build paid off in the end, because each storyline starts escalating at about the same time. As Clara is telling us about the sweet start to her relationship with Christian, things in the seaside town seem refreshing and like a new start. As shit starts to get real in her relationship, she starts uncovering some family secrets, and it all starts to come to a head at the same damn time making it unputdownable at the end. I was up so late reading just to finish this book. 
First off, I've never told this story to anyone. Not the entire thing anyway, and not entirely truthfully. I'm only telling it now for one reason, and that's because an untold story has a weight that can submerge you, sure as a sunken ship at the bottom of the ocean. I learned that. This kind of story, those kind of things kept secret--they have the power to keep you hidden forever, and most of all from yourself. The ghosts from that drowned ship, they keep haunting. 
Reading Christian's character transformation was eerie. He and Clara meet at a basketball game, share an intense few seconds of locked eyes, connect outside, and the rest is history. At first he seems perfect. He's handsome, in that pale European kind of way. His mother is from Europe and his step-father is from the South so he has a unique accent. He's smart. It doesn't take long, though, for Clara to see that he's incredibly jealous, and she starts having to watch what she says or who she hangs out with. She finds herself lying to keep him from saying harsh things or reacting too strongly. I appreciated that Deb Caletti treated the relationship as an abusive one, and we don't lose sight of that. (Is it anyone else's pet peeve when a relationship is abuse and no one calls it out?!) Clara has her father's eyes on Christian, her friend's eyes on him, and she herself knows that this isn't typical boyfriend behavior. But we also get to see why she struggles with just ditching him and leaving. The Christian we get to know at the beginning of the book is not the same Christian we get to know at the end of the book and it was downright scary, and the suspense of his character and what would happen next pushed me to read into the wee hours of the morning. 
"Possession Point, Dad? Jesus."
"I didn't know," he said. "How was I supposed to know?"
"Obsession? Possession? Deception Point? You're telling me it's all an accident? How many places could we have gone?"
"Swear to God, Pea," he held up his hand. "I'd have to be a sick bastard to knowingly put us in a house on Possession Point." 
 I also really appreciated the other stories that were packed into Stay. Each one was rich with characterization and there for a purpose. There are a lot of ghosts in this town. From alleged shipwrecks and the suicidal wives of captains, to the backstories of each of these characters and why they chose to run away to this town as well. One thing that did bother me just a tad was Clara's fast attachment to a boy in this town. Here she is, running away from this psycho, everything reminds her of him, and then she dives in headfirst with the first handsome boy he sees and she makes a very quick and strong attachment to him. I did like that he was a prime example of how a boyfriend should be, especially since she has had not one but two abusive relationships. I just didn't like that they meet and right away she's trying to see him when she goes out and build a romantic relationship with him. 
But what I knew even more than that was that he was the jealous type. That's how I thought of it. As if the words were small print, equal to other qualities a person might have--the athletic type. The creative type. The type to get easily lost or be late, or didn't like food that was too different. It meant that you made accommodations, you got directions beforehand or told him the concert was earlier or picked a place to eat that had hamburgers or didn't say things that would hurt him. You didn't even tell him the truth about who you were or what you had done. You protected him, kept things from  him he couldn't handle. Or else protected yourself from what he couldn't handle. You managed it all, like someone who works in an office and who types and answers the phone at the same time.
Stay by Deb Caletti is a gripping read that perfectly illustrates the dangerous line between an attentive and protective boyfriend, and a hawk-eyed possessive boyfriend. She also shows us why it might not be so easy to leave someone that is clearly not good for you. Not only does the book give an accurate portrayal of this kind of relationship, but there is the drama of broken family histories, what happens when secrets stay secrets for too long, and whether or not it's possible to get rid of the ghosts that haunt us every day. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
Publisher: The Dial Press
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Page Count: 433
Source/Format: Library book!
Keywords: rom-com worthy, bad luck, digital communication, weddings
Poppy Wyatt has found herself suffering from a heavy handed stroke of bad luck. At an early afternoon hotel party, her engagement ring goes missing. Not just any engagement ring that can be replaced at the nearest jeweler, but an engagement ring that has been in her fiancé Magnus' family for three-generations. Oh, and his parents are coming into town that day, and most surely they will want to see the ring. But then, the fire alarm goes off and the ring search must be put on hold. And then, when the chaos of the alarm has settled down and she has given her cell number to everyone in the hotel in case they find it, her phone gets plucked out of her hands on the sidewalk. It almost seems like the universe is paying her back when she finds an abandoned cell phone in a trash bin. But the phone belongs to Sam Roxton, a well-known businessman, and he wants his phone back. Not willing to give the phone up that easy (she has already given the number out to everyone all over again), she cuts a deal with him: she will be the best temporary PA he has had if she can hold on to the phone. Poppy finds herself tangled up in Sam's communication wires, and her own life is getting just as tangled without her hardly even realizing. 
I hate to enjoy books like this. I don't know why, I just do. Books like this are usually very fluffy, very cliche, and very predictable. Sometimes on a hot summer day, a girl just needs that kind of read, and this delivered while also proving me wrong! I've Got Your Number is predictable but not. There are some obvious things that you can guess is going to happen straight away. Instead of just making it happen, Kinsella takes an alternate route, making the path a lot more complicated and unexpected, which creates a bigger pay off for the characters. A lot of things happen in this novel that I couldn't see coming from a mile away. I don't know if that surprise was a good thing, or if it was abrupt planning on the author's end, but I appreciated the small twists and turns that kept me from trusting any of the characters too much. I was also not expecting the sort of political-esque drama that bubbles up in the middle. I'm not a businesswoman, so I can't say whether or not everything was handled appropriately, but it seemed naturally pulled off and was just as engaging as the rest of the story. 
Perspective. I need to get perspective. It's not an earthquake or a crazed gunman or a nuclear meltdown, is it? On the scale of disasters, this is not huge. Not huge. One day I expect I'll look back at this moment and laugh and think, Ha-ha, how silly I was to worry--Stop, Poppy. Don't even try. I'm not laughing--in fact, I feel sick. I'm walking blindly around the hotel ballroom, my heart thudding, looking fruitlessly on the patterned blue carpet, behind gilt chairs, under discarded paper napkins, in places where it couldn't possibly be.
I've lost it. The only thing in the world I wasn't supposed to lose. My engagement ring.
Even though I enjoyed how the story played out, I didn't much like the character's that made the story happen. I think the only way that I could describe Poppy as was flimsy. She doesn't think things through properly before she acts. She's in her mid-twenties, works as a physiotherapist, and does not have a professional bone in her body. Part of Sam's problem with her is when she starts sending e-mails on his behalf. Sam is usually a very abrupt communicator, which drives Poppy nuts so she must change it. In one instance, an email comes in that a bouquet of flowers for a female coworker has been left in Sam's office for her. Poppy writes to this female coworker (as Sam of course) something along the lines of "there's a surprise in my office for you tomorrow. I think you'll like it. xxxxxxxx Sam.' Poppy is then GOBSMACKED at the idea that this could have been taken suggestively by his coworker. Uh? She is also very easily manipulated, and it isn't until just about the very end that we see her start to develop a spine. There is one moment in particular, with her fiancé, where she was so easily swayed I was actually disappointed. 
I also did not like Poppy's fiancé Magnus whatsoever. Right away I got this kind of slimy impression of him and I knew I didn't like him. He's just as abrupt as Sam is in the way he talks to her, and he's always slinking off to research or help a student. However, for Poppy to be as easily manipulated by him as she was, I would've liked to see at least something that would have made him appealing to her. Y'know, raise the stakes a little to show what she has to lose. 
And now that I've started, I can't stop. As the bus chugs along, I email the guy wanting to assess Sam's workstation for health and safety, set up a time, then email Jane to tell her to put it in the schedule. I email Sarah, who has been off with shingles, and ask her if she's better.
All those unanswered emails that have been nagging away at me. All those poor ignored people trying to get in touch with Sam. Why shouldn't I answer them? I'm doing him such a service! I feel like I'm repaying him for his favor with the ring. At least, when I hand this phone back, his in-box will have been dealt with.
In fact, what about a round-robin email telling everyone they're fab? Why not? Who can it hurt?
This book was very funny, but a lot of it sadly at Poppy's expense and how quickly she makes her decisions which often play out in the worst way possible. Actually part of the reason I rated this book so high was because I could not put it down. I had to keep reading to see what kinds of things Poppy was going to stir up next, and sometimes it got downright uncomfortable. At the end, when Poppy finally starts to develop a spine and stand up for herself, I felt rewarded and proud of her. I also enjoyed the way Sam's character grew. At first he seems cold and distant, strictly business. Eventually he starts to warm up, and some of Poppy's stupid decisions actually have a positive effect on him. In spite of her breezy thought processes, she was actually a fun narrator to read. Her quick banter with herself and the way her mind spirals out of control when things start to go awry made this book go by very quickly.

Even though I didn't like our narrator Poppy very much, I could not put I've Got Your Number down because I had to see what happened next. She was also a very witty narrator and very lively, which made this read go by very quickly. I was also pleasantly surprised by the little unexpected twists and turns that this story made to keep it from being too predictable. 
Have you read this? What did you think?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Reading Habits Tag!

If there's one thing that keeps me from reading and writing the most, it is watching Booktube videos. I could watch videos of people showing off their shelves, TBR piles, and hauls for hours. Our book blogging bubble has it's fair share of meme's, but I love watching book-related tags on Youtube. Why let them have all of the fun? I love this tag about reading habits, so I'm bringing it to my blog. This tag was created by TheBookJazz.

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?  
My bed! Check out my lil Ikea clip on reading light! And I have a super comfy pillow chair that I got from my grandma. The only downside is that usually it's too comfortable, and if the mood is right, I will fall right asleep. 

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?
For a while I was using a playing card with a nude dude on it. Then for Christmas this past year I asked for cute bookmarks with tassels. I use those a lot. My sister also got me a pretty woven bookmark from when she traveled to Belize so I've started using that. And I've been going to the library a lot lately, so sometimes I just use my library receipt!

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?
Since I do a lot of reading while commuting on trains/buses, I'm not too picky about stopping in the middle of a page or between chapters. If I'm at home with nothing going on, though, I prefer to wait until a page break or end of a chapter before putting my book down!

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?
Yep! It's weird but I can't read while eating a meal. I used to take my books to the cafe by my apartment and loved eating a slice of carrot cake with some coffee while I read. Usually if I'm at home though, I'm eating chocolate or gummy candy. I'm either drinking Arnold Palmer's, coffee, or beer :) 

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?
TV. Usually any music that is played in my apartment is music I am familiar with so the lyrics can get distracting. I live with my boyfriend and he's a big TV watcher, so it has become easier for me to tune it out... as long as it's not a show that I love ;) 

6. One book at a time or several at once?
One book at a time! When I was in college, I had to read several books at once and it got hard for me to keep each one straight, and it took longer for me to finish one. Now I'm a one book kinda gal. Even though right now I do have a non-fiction book about the first class passengers of the Titanic that I'm reading on the side between books! 

7. Reading at home or everywhere?
Both? I'm more comfortable reading at home, but I enjoy reading on my lunch break at work, or on the bus coming home. Reading makes my commute go by waaaaay faster. 

8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?
Silently in my head. I cannot read out loud. 

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?
Sometimes, yes! I'm trying to stop. If a book is really mysterious, I am always tempted to read to the last page to see if that person is present (for instance: if someone goes missing, I need to know if they stay missing or are found!) I'm worse about reading reviews and spoiling myself.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?
Breaking the spines! I think I've written about it before, but hot dog I love a well-loved looking book. When I get paperbacks, I love making their spines look all crinkly and worn. It's also why I used to love buying my books used. 

11. Do you write in your books?
Yes! Sometimes I can't fully commit to writing in the margins, even though I used to a lot in college and I was oddly inspired by these two guys writing in the margins of Inferno by Dan Brown. Usually my 'writing in the margins' is simply underlining passages. 

I tag: everyone who wants to do this! If you do this tag, leave me a link in the comments :) I am so nosy when it comes to other people's reading habits. How do you read?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Publisher: Ecco
Publication Date: August 2011
Page Count: 309
Source/Format: Library Book! 
Keywords: dysfunctional family, performance art, mystery
Annie and Buster Fang have always been known as Child A and Child B. Their parents, Camille and Caleb Fang, are known in the art world for their wacky public performance art stunts in which they cause chaos in the hopes of extreme reaction which they then catch on tape. Annie and Buster have always been slightly unwilling accomplices in these performances, the presence of children always making the reaction from Caleb and Camille's audience much more intense. But then, they grow up. They don't want to be puppets for their parents anymore, so they branch into their own thing. Annie gains fame as an actress, seasoned by years of "performing" with her parents, and Buster retreats into the solitary life of a struggling writer. But when a media scandal shakes Annie's reputation, and Buster gets injured on a writing assignment, they both find themselves back at their childhood home for a hopefully normal break of family time. But Child A and Child B should know that there's no such thing as normal in the Fang household, and they should've known that Caleb and Camille would have a performance of epic proportions up their sleeves.

It's hard to not get Wes Anderson vibes from this book right. away. The disinterested and detached children. The questionable parenting skills of adults. The quirky dysfunction that binds them all together, whether they want to be bound together or not. That's just the one way to describe this book. Quirky as fuck. I LOVED that, though. When Caleb is a budding artist, the motto bestowed to him by his one true mentor is "kids kill art." And when Camille (formerly Caleb's student), becomes pregnant by accident, they are thrust into the life of parenthood with their art hanging in the balance. What Caleb's mentor obviously never realized though, was that kids make great accomplices, and it suddenly becomes Caleb's life mission to prove that statement wrong. 
Mr. and Mrs. Fang called it art. Their children called it mischief. "You make a mess and then you walk away from it," their daughter, Annie, told them. "It's a lot more complicated than that, honey," Mrs. Fang said as she handed detailed breakdowns of the event to each member of the family. "But there's a simplicity in what we do as well," Mr. Fang said. "Yes, there's that, too," his wife replied. Annie and her younger brother, Buster, said nothing. They were driving to Huntsville, two hours away, because they did not want to be recognized. Anonymity was a key element of the performance; it allowed them to set up the scenes without interruption from people who would be expecting mayhem.
Honestly, one of the hardest forms of art for me to wrap my head around is performance art. Art in general can go a million different ways for a million different people. I'm sure the girl who pulled spaghettios out of her vag (NSFW) had an ultimate purpose and artistic goal, but I didn't get that shit. So I was not surprised that there was an extreme air of pretension that hung around Caleb and Camille Fang, but I also didn't hate on them for it. The Family Fang alternates between chapters of what happens in the present, and events that they have done together throughout their years of being together. Each event offers mixed responses. We see Caleb and Camille high off the elation of a positive response (sheer horror of their audience = positive response), and we see Caleb in a funk for days over negative reviews. I got a full picture of how much their art has become their life. I saw how important it was to them, and how much having Annie and Buster threatened to throw that off for them. Each event was wild and fun to read about, and there was definitely an evolution throughout the years as they integrated their children into their art, and their children became more of props than their actual kids. 
"They did all this to us," Annie said, "for art."
"For art," Mr. Delano shouted, raising his empty glass over his head.
"They used us," Buster said.
"No, Buster, that's unfair. Your parents withheld certain information in order to get the best performance possible from you. Think of your parents as directors; they control the circumstances and make all the independent pieces come together to create something beautiful that would otherwise not exist. They directed you so skillfully that you didn't even know they were doing it."
"Fuck you, Mr. Delano," Annie said.
With each event that Annie and Buster were present for, we get to see how they reacted to them. Sometimes they were caught up in the high of doing a good job at what they were supposed to, and sometimes they were left feeling ashamed and embarrassed. We also see the effect that years of these stunts has had on them as grown ups. Buster is self conscious and frequently embarrassed of his few accomplishments, while Annie has achieved blockbuster success that is skittering away from her. Each one struggles with relationships, and struggles with how they feel about their parents. Annie is also unsure of how to process the scandal that is taking her reputation, because while her publicist sees it as an epic disaster that is threatening to ruin her, her parents are giddy over the idea of morphing it into a twisted art exhibit. As lost as Annie and Buster become within themselves, their sibling relationship is top notch. They both rely on each other to pull them out of whatever funk they have found themselves in, and their bond is super strong. When they joke around together, I was laughing out loud. They could be one of my most favorite sibling relationships that I've ever read.
"I used to tell all my students, not just Caleb and Camille, but any artist that showed some sliver of promise, that they had to devote themselves to their work. They had to remove all obstructions to making the fantastic thing that needed to exist. I would tell them that kids kill art."
Annie and Buster both winced at the phrase, one they had heard their father recite any time the two of them had complicated one of the Fang projects.
"...Your parents realized that they would have to find some way to overcome this theory of mine, some construction that would disprove it. So they intertwined their family and their art so tightly that it was impossible to untangle it. They made you two into their art. It was amazing, really. And then time passed...perhaps I was just jealous of them, but I found it was impossible for me to see any Fang art without feeling this horrible sense of dread, that something irreparable was being done to the two of you."
The final event. I was not expecting the mysterious edge that this book took hold of and I was super obsessed. It was one of those things where I wanted to flip to the back of the book and spoil myself. Somehow I resisted. I am not going to go into what it is or what it entails, but I will say that this event of Caleb and Camille's further shows the conflicted feelings that Annie and Buster have about their parents. They are forced to evaluate everything. Their positions as pawns in their parents exhibits, the unique way they were raised. When they were praised for pulling off their roles perfectly, or when they were harshly criticized for doing a terrible job. We get an even deeper sense of their family dynamic as Annie and Buster delve into this mystery. And the twist! What is a mystery without a good twist? I swear my jaw became unhinged as the story got more and more absurd. Oh my God. It was so wild and almost on the edge of unbelievable, but it completely fit the characterization of Caleb and Camille Fang. Let me say that there are some hella strong feelings to be felt by the end of this book, and the mystery aspect was pretty perfectly built.

The Family Fang is a quirky and absurd story that I became obsessed with. The kids are fucked up, the parenting techniques are not to be tried at home, but we get to know each character so well and we have a level of understanding and sympathy for each one. It's actually being turned into a film right now (sadly not directed by Wes Anderson) and is starring Jason Bateman as Buster and Nicole Kidman as Annie. Um. Not sure how I feel about that (as much as I adore Jason Bateman) so we shall see.