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March 2018 Book(s) Review(s)

Recently, I decided that since I read a lot of books, I really should be reviewing them, giving others my opinion (for what that’s worth) so that they might figure out if they want to read them.  Some of my favorite things in life (besides the missus, my family, and friends) involve books.  I love books, ebooks, reading books and ebooks, bookstores, book club, having long conversations with others about books, and hearing what others have to say about books.  I mean, how many times do I have to mention books and Litsy on The Midnight Goose before that’s apparent???

However, I read more than a book a week on average, so having a weekly book review is usually out of the question.  Then again, some months I find myself to be very busy (which I loathe), and I read less than a book a week–and then I’ll read several the next.  It’s a struggle being me–first world problems to the max.  Regardless, there was a need for a regularly scheduled book review on The Midnight Goose, so I decided that on the first Monday of every month, I’d blog about all of the books that I read the previous month.  So…here we go:

41qFdmnyvxL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls was the book that my step-mother, Marliece, chose for us to read so that we could discuss it at our book club in April.  Since most of the people in my book club follow The Midnight Goose, I don’t want to say much.  When I reviewed this book on Litsy, I talked about the fact that although there are some truly horrific moments in this book, you feel each page overflowing with themes of resilience, and a spirit of hope.  Because of this, this is my second favorite book that I’ve read so far in 2018.  It’s not to be missed–and will surely provide a lot of spirited discussion when we meet for book club.

51Fk8SWwlLL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgReady Player One by Ernest Cline is another favorite book of 2018 so far.  Honestly, a lot of you that read all of my blog posts should know that I’ve already kinda reviewed this book.  I mean, I went to opening night of the movie and talked about it at length here.  So, I really, really, really enjoyed the book.  But if you want to know if I enjoyed the movie, you’ll have to read that post.  Anyhoozles, this is a sci-fi book (which is not generally in my wheelhouse), but it converted me for about 400 pages.  This is one that had me wanting to know what was going to happen from page one.  I just couldn’t get enough!

31hrKVm4QoL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgDumplin’ by Julie Murphy was a cute little story about a plus-size teenager looking to find love with her crush, get her mother to recognize her for who and what she is, and possibly win a beauty pageant.  While the main character, Willowdean (a.k.a. Dumplin’) can be an asshole at times, she wins you over by the end.  With a backstory involving Dumplin’s deceased aunt, drag queens that come to the rescue, and a love of all things Dolly Parton, this is a very charming book.  And the overall themes of finding true strength, true courage, and learning to be a good person make this a book worth reading.

41w+Snjfi-L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgThe Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey was another awesome book that I just couldn’t put down.  Languid and beautiful story telling, with a mixture of Little House on the Prairie mixed in with old school fairytales.  This was a story about an older couple living in the harsh, unsettled Alaska territories during the 1920’s, struggling to homestead and farm, all while lamenting the fact that they were unable to have a child.  Utterly charming, dreamy, and proof that this author has a lot to offer–so pick up any of her books!

51qib5Nc1YL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgEleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman was an absolute treasure!  I’d heard about it quite a bit on Litsy and finally decided to give it a whirl by borrowing it on the Libby app through my local library.  And I’m so glad I did.  From the get go, the main character, Eleanor, comes off as unlikable, socially inept, and kind of a turd.  But then you come to realize that she is the way she is due to a traumatic past, and fiercely guarding herself emotionally for so long.  The most important aspect of this book is that it reminds the reader that an act of kindness, no matter how small, can change you for the better and for good.

51gufUMfXZL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance is a very important book, about an overlooked socio-economic group, that attempts to explain why the white working-class American is the way that it is.  I really wanted to hate this book, because it seemed so self-serving at first.  However, as I read through it, and it turned more from throwing facts and figures about the “American Hillbilly” at the reader, and turned into more of a narrative, I couldn’t stop reading.  All-in-all, I think this book explains that the group of people that get the biggest brunt of the stick in the U.S. is the poor–and that spans all races, religions, sexual orientations, genders…and it is the first book that made me truly consider a conservative outlook.  And if you know me–it takes some work to do that.

51UerSXv5jL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli was a book that I wanted to hate, because fuck, I’m too old for teenage angst.  However, it completely won me over by the end.  Okay.  Maybe not completely, but pretty close.  Regardless of how won over I was at the end, it did win me over.  And, honestly, more coming-out stories with positivity and believable characters need to be told.  Not every coming out story has to be a complete tragedy–because not all of them are.  And regardless of rumblings I’ve been hearing from LGBTQIA blogs and forums, not every book and/or movie with LGBTQIA characters is going to be a direct reflection of yourself.  Just ask every person of color if every movie character with the same color of skin as them represents them fully.  People in every community come in all different shapes, sizes, flavors, and personalities–with their own stories to tell.  We should be celebrating that.  This book, however, was simply fun–so it was worth a read.

51EhwVihcCL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgCall Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman was a book I picked up after the last one because I figured, I’m on an angst kick, let’s get it all out.  And I’m so glad that I wasn’t “out-angsted”.  I know that’s not a word.  And I’m sorry.  Anyhoozles, this book was a little too graphic in some parts to the point that I didn’t know if I could actually continue reading it.  But plod on I did–and I am so glad that I did.  Call Me By Your Name ended up being one of the most gorgeously written books I’ve ever read.  I could practically see, smell, hear, and taste the scenes described.  And the book ended up being a beautiful celebration of life and love, and a heart-breaking lamentation on grief and loss.  This is my favorite book so far of 2018–and may be one of my favorite books of all time.  Highly recommend! (The movie is also amazing!)

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Food by Jim Gaffigan was a great way to “cleanse the palate” after reading some angst-y books with heavy subject matter.  I can’t really say that I know Jim Gaffigan’s stand-up all that well–if at all–but I have to say, this was a funny freaking book.  I actually laughed out loud every ten or so pages.  This book is an ode to his love of food and all of the crazy aspects of food culture–especially American food culture.  This might not be a book for everyone, but if you like Jim Gaffigan and/or food and/or humor, this might just be a good change of pace.  It was definitely worth the sale price the missus paid to buy it at Books-A-Million…

510rpbOQrZL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Brave by Rose McGowan is highly entertaining and highly readable.  However, Ms. McGowan comes off more unhinged than I would like.  She also doesn’t take responsibility for certain things in her life–such as her role in having an affair with a married man (Robert Rodriguez).  She likes to blame the “brain-washing” of Hollywood and how men have made her feel throughout her life to explain her behavior.  It comes off as absolving herself of any responsibility.  However, the message about standing up for marginalized peoples and being brave, plus the readability, made it a pick.  A tentative pick, but a pick nonetheless.

Until next month’s book(s) review(s)…

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Allen T. St. Clair is an author, blogger, amateur cook, and all-around smartass, hustling to get his books and other projects noticed.

4 comments

    1. I wasn’t a Jim Gaffigan fan going into it, simply because I knew very little about him. But my wife suggested it, and it made me laugh out loud. A lot. Let me know if you enjoy it!

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