Book Reviews

Book Review: Consider This-Moments in My Writing Life after Which Everything Was Different by Chuck Palahniuk

I read books about writing and creativity—all books about writing and creativity; one is never too old nor too good to learn, and I’m neither, fuckyouverymuch. When someone on Writer Unboxed recommended Chuck’s book then it incidentally went on sale, I promptly hit the buy now button. I loved Fight Club in all its dirty grimness and sincere and brutal irreverence. Chuck has a certain cringe factor à la Stephen King. He makes you uncomfortable and there’s one thing in […]

Book Review: A Kingdom of Dreams by Judith McNaught

This book includes knights and castles and jousts—so much fun. I most relate to Jennifer Merrick’s stubbornness. Although, I cannot relate to her continued family loyalty—that aggravates the hell out of me. Another favorite and highly recommended. This book ends my Judith McNaught historical romance rereads. I love Royce Westmoreland—his sensitivity and empathy with Jennifer. There is a scene that pissed me off and you’ll know it when you get to it; I can only surmise that McNaught has a […]

Book Review: Miracles by Judith McNaught

I had no idea this book even existed. I was completely and utterly thrilled to find out one of my favorite characters was getting his own book and with such an interesting romantic equal. I purchased it without bothering to read reviews or noticing the page numbers. I was so disappointed. It is clear that McNaught had an amazing story for Nicki and Julianna but couldn’t quite deliver? Perhaps she didn’t have the time? She does seem to focus solely […]

Book Review: Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught

In honor of the forthcoming Bridgerton series on Netflix, I hereby submit the McNaught historical romance novels for a delicious and provocative Shondaland interpretative creative touch—especially this book; most especially this book. If anyone could do Elizabeth Cameron justice, it would be Queen Shonda—all hail! This book is fun and witty and is begging for a series. The third act alone would be a scream and surprisingly enough, Ian Thornton isn’t an asshole—well, most of the time; he is a […]

Book Review: Something Wonderful by Judith McNaught

Of all the McNaught historical romance novels, this is probably my favorite and Alexandra is my favorite protagonist. I love that she saves his life—as a Knight no less—and that she’s witty and independent and rebellious and compassionate and non-conventional. I adore that she quotes philosophers. I love the back from the dead trope and all that accompanies and Jordan, besides the obvious male issues, is not that bad. As much as I’ve bitched about the men in these novels, […]

Book Review: Once and Always by Judith McNaught

Rereading and reviewing these books critically now that I’m older and at this point in history has left me with some complicated emotions. The romantic in me continues to love them; the pragmatist recognizes and understands the infuriating misogynistic history both then and now; the feminist within me is provoked, irked, peeved, pissed, outraged, etc.—so, exactly how I felt when I first read them, only with more awareness and intensity of emotions and realities, and I daresay wiser to not […]

Book Review: Until You by Judith McNaught

Book number three in the Westmoreland Saga focuses on the younger Westmoreland brother, Stephen—yet another aristocratic asshole, but one a tad less intense on that spectrum—and Sheridan, a feisty American governess stricken with amnesia. Clayton and Whitney Westmoreland, once again, make an appearance as well as the couples of the McNaught Sequels trilogy. Nicki du Ville—one of the few men that isn’t an asshole and actually champions the women—returns and has an interesting arc with Sheridan. This book has a […]

Book Review: Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught

From the onset of this review, I believe we can establish that a lot of men are assholes. We can argue about it, but after the past few years, that is a certainty very few can deny—even men. Some of us have known this a while because for a large portion of our lives we’ve been surrounded by assholes, and sometimes are often assholes ourselves. If you haven’t experienced assholes, you’ve been extraordinarily fortunate—like win the lotto fortunate. This current […]

Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Prepare to feel discomfort and all manner of emotions reading this book, and it is for that reason I urge you to read it unaware of any of its many stunning attributes—stop reading this now and go read it then come back; to do anything but would do the story a disservice. I went in knowing nothing about it and thought it was a romance. It is a stunning piece of feminist literature. Written in 1940, du Maurier pens elegant […]

Book Review: Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh

Categorized in many reviews as ‘unlikable’ and ‘unstable’ and all naysaying things ‘un’, Eileen is a vivid and compelling character study in contradictions, discomfort, and authenticity. I found her deeply raw and real, and endlessly fascinating—I couldn’t look away I was so enthralled. I would count her as one of my favorite characters—ever. Humans are nothing if not a complicated mess of contradictions; some more so than others. Every act, no matter how infinitesimal, reveals who we are—each act as […]

Book Review: Warrior’s Woman by Johanna Lindsey

I wanted to do a quick reread and review of this book since I brought it up here as an inspiration for writing science and speculative fiction. This book was first released in 1990 and I was twenty and naïve. I cannot remember what I felt like at the time of reading it. I’m sure I probably loved it since I still remember it thirty years later. It certainly has its charm, as does every Lindsey book. Upon rereading it […]

Book Review: Salt by Nayyirah Waheed (Poetry)

Last month, I found some of my old poetry from the early 2000’s and started posting it here on this site. This poetry was written at an illusive indecisive moment for me. It was mostly an outlet for larger issues—therapy writing, if you will. All of it bad—really bad; some so bad, I’ll probably never post. I was crawling my way through clinical depression at the time and trying to shape an identity I had long found slippery. I looked […]

Book Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

I’ll be completely upfront: I never read The Iliad or The Odyssey and had no clue about any of the ancient gods or Greek and Roman religions. I was completely and totally ignorant about it all and have only just begun to graze its gilded surface. What about college, you ask—I’m a college dropout; I couldn’t afford to stay in college. What about high school—this is where I laugh out loud and ask what high school did you go to? […]

Book Review: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Jesmyn Ward is an artist of words. She wields her visions into searing stories of the Black contemporary south. Complex, heartbreaking and bleak narrations that seduce and sway you into the Black bodies born of love and pain and hunger and beauty that will make you tremble with rage and cry in horror; that will make you love with a passion and toil alongside to fight and demand justice. Words like the sun that beguiles you into the burn of […]

Book Review: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North

This novel appeared at a much needed time in my life touching parts of me that rarely saw light. Having been a ‘train wreck’ myself, I can relate to the damage—not specifically but in general. The inability to share that damage left me floundering. I believed I was alone in being so broken. I was ashamed and terrified having slipped back into a pattern that had almost consumed me prior. Trauma and depression do that. It’s mundane like that—insidiously stealth […]

Book Review: Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky

The world building in this book features a multi-generational spider and ant society evolutionized with a nanotech virus, created and delivered to them by a marooned and cocooned human scientist in a semi-sentient pod, suspended in animation hovering above the planet’s atmo—who was from an Earth human’s destroyed with war and climate change—claiming to be god for the practical purpose of successfully completing her evolutionary experiment that began with monkeys only to be sabotaged by a crazy religious cultist that […]

Book Review: The Dream Hunter by Laura Kinsale

I love historical romance novels. If you come at me with any type of literary or cultural snobbery whatsoever (music, movie, TV, etc.), I will laugh you off as a pedestrian rube. And if you are a man and not reading historical romance novels, you are missing out on a trove of knowledge, sexual and otherwise. That and you are sexist—hashtag men are trash. I an’t kidding. Historical romance novels gave me a wealth of female cultural knowledge and education […]

Book Review: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

I am the product of an abusive alcoholic father and family. This book and The Shining speak to me on an entirely other level. One with the puking, the violence, the rage, melancholy and moodiness, the fugues, the cruel silence with the banal abusive micro-aggressions, and on and on ad nauseam. I equate the shining with the non-verbal language and cues us codependents decipher and interpret in order to keep the peace. Or not get lit by a switch, a […]

Audio Book Review: Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Narrated by Joe Morton aka Papa Pope, this audio book is probably one of my favorites. Joe Morton’s intensity and glorious acting skills succeed in making this a fantastic, riveting listen. Morton’s read is made all that more excellent by Ellison’s words and story. Hypnotic doesn’t do it justice. Stark and poetic, revealing and utterly transformational are mild understatements. If you come away from this disappointed, I question your wisdom and challenge your imagination. As with any audio book I […]

Book Review: Facing Unpleasant Facts: Narrative Essays by George Orwell

Most of the books I’ve reviewed so far I read months if not years ago. This one I recently finished. I did not realize that Orwell was such a superb essayist and journalist; perhaps even more so than his fiction. I would say a master; one of the best in his field. He writes with a clarity that’s rarely published nowadays. Authentic, forceful, and not the least bit misleading regarding his own preferences, he viscerally flays with crisp, sharp, detailed […]

Book Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

David Mitchell is a god of words. A brilliant, utterly divine artist that pushes creative boundaries beyond akin to Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, Mary Shelley and their more modern equivalents (to which I’ll go more into on future posts). When I first read Cloud Atlas, I waited for someone to jerk me from the blinding Utopian tunnel I suddenly found myself floundering, gasping in the radiance of such wit. It was all consuming. It pivoted my life into a […]

Book Review: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

This book was unputdownable. Intensely addictive. Thrilling. Philosophically and aesthetically deliberate—as is every Tartt novel. Privilege illustrated to an engrossing degree—glaringly elevating rich white entitlement and classism within the hallowed halls of even the most revered American educational institutions. How the perception and power of youth and events surrounding that experience evolve with time and hopefully, wisdom. How one story can indelicately frame your entire life—some of us more so than others; please keep this in mind while reading. I […]

Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

I inhaled this book—it consumed me. This book left me raw. exposed, alive, shattered, and…human—so extraordinarily human. It lived and grew within me for weeks afterward and transformed me into something other, hypersensitive teeming with an abundance of grit and heart and life; something graceful that made my toes curl and my humanity multiply and fragment—my compassion and empathy soar. Yeah, it did. It really did. Forewarning: this book is agonizing and bleak. The trauma eviscerates. Hints of contentment and […]

Book Review: What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte

I made no secret that I didn’t care for J.D. Vance’s very narrow perspective and interpretation of Appalachian folks in Hillbilly Elegy. Not only was his judgment and words lacking in basic facts and empathy, Vance veils his problematic views as some kind of virtuous self-help bible for the pernicious bootstrap ethos and hard work ethic that he believes most of us other hillbillies lack. He uses that old tired recycled conservative trope of stereotyping poverty as a moral failure. […]

Book Review: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Once again, we have an author lifting up the language and unspoken stories of the oppressed; examining the perspectives and circumstances of the alternate embellished—often compelling—history to the voices and narratives silenced; scrutinizing the actual ghost tale told by the oppressors or the oppressed, the victims or the perpetrators; anecdotes transformed over time—made mythical by their troublesome and often exploitative and dehumanized actions—for entertainment purposes and to make the injustices feel more palatable about horrific actions and the absolution that […]

Book Review: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard is such an immense read that I’m still reading it. I didn’t wanna wait to write about it though while experiencing just how important a read her words are given how germane history relates to our present and the total lack of historical awareness people have today. I wonder if there’s a current correlation in world events? /sarcasm Mary Beard is brilliant in her knowledge and writing of the material in […]

Book Review: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal is an alluring and infuriating must read. From the socio-political themes to the catastrophic extinction level event that requires immediate action—all currently, highly relevant and related—the plot focuses on the main character’s quest to become an astronaut after a meteorite strikes off the coast of D.C. causing a rise in temperatures that will ultimately lead to an unoccupiable Earth. Sound familiar? The first couple of chapters are riveting. Character driven, the book converges […]