Tag Archives: Where Are You Reading

Challenge Update, March

1 Apr

March is over so let’s check in on my year-long challenges!. You can check out my reading challenges any time on my challenge page.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

6/13
This is my own challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline is looking a little contemporary-heavy. Only one book I read this month filled in another time period, 1700-1799. Most of the ones I read were part of the Divergent trilogy and duplicated the ‘Future’ time period. I’ll admit a few were contemporary as well. Of the three I’m reading now, I think just one will potentially fill in a new time period but I know Life After Life jumps around with time a lot, so I’m not sure how I’ll count it. So far it seems 1910-1929 will be appropriate.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

7/50 (+3)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m making really slow progress as you can see on my map. I’ve only gone up one state and one foreign country since last month’s update. I really need some more variety! Of the ones I’m reading now, I should add Maine with Cabin Pressure and North Korea with The Orphan Master’s Son. No promise I’ll finish the later this month, but one can only hope.

Goodreads Challenge

15/35
Here I can finally shine! I finished six books this month and I’m now 7 ahead of pace. These other updates make me sound like such a slacker. I’m hoping to slog through a couple longer titles, but this goal is seeming a bit low now. Should I increase it to 50? Or to the 70 I did last year?

How are your challenges going? Maybe you’re being better about selecting books than I am and you’re on pace. I hope so! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

Until next time, write on.

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (2/5)- A meandering love story that only leads to a sequel

10 Mar

This immediately goes to the top of the ‘Longest Audiobooks I’ve Listened To’ list. 28 disks, over 30 hours and yes, it took me over a month to finish. To be honest, it got rough toward the end. I’ll explain later.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

World War II is over and Claire Randall and her husband, Frank can finally be reunited. On a trip to the Scottish highlands to reconnect, Claire wonders off to explore some ruins and is transported back in time over 200 years, to 1743. She is taken to the MacKenzie lands and determined not to be a threat, but must find a place for herself in the new time. Claire hopes to return to the ruins where she was transported through time and joins a routine journey with the MacKenzie men during which she’s stopped by John Randall, descendant of her husband, Frank, who thinks she might be a threat and hopes to interrogate her. To become a Scott and remove herself from his English command, she marries Jamie Fraser, nephew of the MacKenzie lord. The adventures don’t end as Jamie has a price on his head for murder and the two must continue to escape Randall’s sphere of influence. Facing prosecution for being a witch, Jamie takes Claire to the ruins where she passed through and gives her the opportunity to go back. Claire decides to stay in the 1740s and stay with her new husband and try to save the Highlanders from the massacre that will come when Bonny Prince Charlie tries to take the English throne.

Outlander is the first of eight books in the series written by Gabaldon. I’ll be honest and say I have no intention to continue the series after reading Outlander. Most of my complaints are from a story-telling perspective, not from an entertainment perspective. On the contrary, there are some wonderful stories within the book. I read that Gabaldon starting writing the book to see if she could do it, not really planning anything or knowing what would come of it. I feel like she never got an editor that explained story arc or character development very well. I think the book could easily have been 500 pages shorter. So many of the mini stories didn’t further the plot (which I’m now confused as to what it is) or develop the characters. There’s only so many times Claire can be almost-raped and saved by Jamie at the last second before I think she’s careless.

I was also not a fan of Claire as a narrator. I know I’ve said it before, but she had that ‘Nick Caraway’ quality as a narrator; she was a window through which I watched the story. She had very little internal dialogue, thoughts, or emotions. Most of what she said was description of action. The reason this really bugs me is it felt like she wasn’t interacting with her own story. She seemed blase, not an endearing character in a narrator.

The thing that bothered me the most was how quickly Claire seemed to forget about her first husband, Frank. They had a weird marriage, from the sounds of it, but I still think she forgot him rather quickly. It was implied that because of the war, they weren’t together for very much of their seven-year marriage and that because of this, they had an understanding that both would be unfaithful and that there would be no questions about it. I’ve never been involved in a wartime relationship and I’m not going to pass any judgement over this, but I will pass judgement on how soon after arriving in the 1700s Claire seems to stop thinking of Frank. He comes up every 50 pages or so, interspersed with how in love she is with Jamie and many near-death experiences. I find it hard to wrap my head around how she seemed to move on and give up on the life she was building for 30 years in about four months.

As with many books about time travel, Gabaldon touches on what would happen to the 1940s if Clair changes things in the 1740s. She has an in-depth conversation with a French scholar at the end of the book when she is deciding what she should do about the pending destruction of the Highlanders at the Battle of Culloden. Does she have the right to interfere and maybe change history? They decide that her knowledge of the future is a gift from God and to remain inactive is to deny his blessing. I really like this idea. Claire’s biggest concern is the death of Jack Randall, ancestor of her 1940s husband, Frank. He died sooner than family records indicate; does that mean if she goes back, Frank will not exist? These are the kinds of questions I love about time travel.

I realize that this is starting to be me ripping on the book more than a review of it and I apologize for that. I follow Gabaldon on Twitter now and I saw that she is heading to Scotland to film a TV series for the Starz network based on her books. I feel these books will make a better TV show than they do novels, honestly. The up and down of the action will lend itself well to one-hour segments. While I’m not going to get cable to watch it, I’ll try to find it on Netflix when it becomes available. From me, that’s a huge compliment.

Writer’s Takeaway: I was talking to my friend Alex, who is also reading this book and he said that he heard Gabaldon was a ‘pantser,’ meaning she wrote with no plan. I’m in the midst of trying pantsing myself, being quite the planner, and I think this book is the epitome of the bad things that come with pantsing. It seems like Gabaldon had no direction for her book, which becomes increasingly obvious as the book goes on. I felt that she finally figured out she wanted to talk about the effects of one’s actions on changing the future very close to the end. The pregnancy at the end felt a lot like Fifty Shades of Grey which had much of the same feel.

I think Gabaldon did a great job with character development. Claire was not as well-developed, but Jamie and the MacKenzie men were each their own, distinct character and I really enjoyed reading about them. They had very realistic strengths, especially Colum, the handicapped leader who was as sharp as a tack. None of her characters, even Jamie, seemed to have any ‘super natural’ heroic qualities. I thought the villain, Black Jack Randall, was perfectly loathsome. I loved him.

I also must add, Gabaldon writes some really quality sex scenes. This is, after all, a romance novel, and she does it well, without the action seeming overly explicit or underdone. She’s a good example of this.

Overall, I would not recommend this book. Only two out of five stars.

This book fulfills the 1700-1799 time period for When Are You Reading? and Foreign Country: Scotland (UK) for Where Are You Reading?

Until next time, write on.

Related Posts:
Review of “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon | Rhapsody in Books WeblogThe Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon | the redheaded reader
Review: Diana Gabaldon – Outlander (Cross Stitch) | Science Fiction & Fantasy Book Reviews

Challenge Update, February

28 Feb

It’s the last day of the month again, and time to update you all on how my challenges are going so far. You can check out my reading challenges any time on my challenge page.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

5/13
This is my own challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline is starting to fill in nicely. I’ve got a few plans for filling in the remaining periods, but I’m lost on what to read for the 1890-1909 period. I already read The Devil in the White City and don’t know of anything else from that period. Any suggestions on a book from the 1890s? I’ll consider all suggestions. Of the books I’m reading now, I’ll fulfill one more time period, 1700-1799.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

6/50 (+2)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I made a big climb from 2 to 6 over the past month so I’m feeling better about this one. Still, I don’t think I’ll fill in the whole map. Of the books I’m reading now, only one will give me a new state. I guess I need to find a little more variety!

Goodreads Challenge

8/35
I’m 3 ahead of schedule! This is about to take a big jump, too, because I’m close to finishing two of my books. I’m glad I’m ahead of pace and I’m not even trying too hard. I might have to up my goal if this keeps going so well. Even with the longer books, I’m still destroying the goal.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far of pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

Until next time, write on.

Challenge Update, January

31 Jan

I’ve decided that on the last day of the month I will update you as to how my challenges are going. You can check out my reading challenges any time on my challenge page.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

3/13
This is my own challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. I love looking at my timeline but it does show a big gap of time periods that I have yet to fill in! Of the five books I’m reading now, one will fulfill another time period. I’ve got some work to do.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

2/50 (+2)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m at an abysmal 2. The only silver lining is that I’ve hit two foreign countries. Of the books I’m reading now I can add three states and one more foreign country. I guess that’s better future progress than my other challenge!

Goodreads Challenge

4/35
I’m 2 ahead of schedule! I like this pace and I’ll try to keep ahead for a while. 35 might seem low compared to my 71 last year, but I’m taking on some more hefty books this year, like Outlander and Pillars of the Earth. Lower number, still a high number of pages. I’m in the middle of five books now so that would put me at nine when I finish them!

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far of pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links.

Until next time, write on.

Book Review: The Last Enchantments by Charles Finch (4/5)

23 Jan

I haven’t done a First Reads Book Review for a while so I’m excited to do this again. I won a copy of The Last Enchantments from the Goodreads First Reads program.

This book counts as Foreign Country: England (UK) for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge and as 1990-Present for my When Are You Reading? Challenge. This is book number 4 on my way to my Goodreads Challenge of 35 books. You can view my Challenges page to learn more.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Last Enchantments by Charles Finch.

Will has decided to leave his life and girlfriend in New York to do a year-long study at Oxford. He’s leaving behind not only his girlfriend, Alison, but his budding career in politics after John Kerry lost the 2004 election. He meets his roommates, Tom and Anil, and numerous new friends including Ella, Anneliese, and the ephemeral Sophie. Soon after his arrival, Will is unfaithful to Alison, going home with a girl from the bar. He feels guilty, but doesn’t come clean to Alison. It’s only when he has a romantic moment with Sophie and admits that he likes her that Will finally takes a break with Alison. He tells her that for them to be able to have a clean break, they should remain chaste for a few months, just to make sure there’s no jealousy or rebounds. Alison complies and we wouldn’t have a story if Will didn’t sleep around.

He bounces from girl to girl, thinking of futures with Sophie and Alison both. Having lost the guidance Alison provided, Will is unsure what to do after his year at Oxford. He accepts two jobs, one in Ohio and one in London and is not quite sure where he should end up. All of his friends around him are making plans for the next year and falling in love and Will seems to be floating between worlds.

Rating this book was hard for me. It was a very compelling read and I found it hard to put it down. At the same time, I hated most of the characters. Tom was arrogant, Sophie was a tease, Alison was clingy, and Will couldn’t make a decision to save his life. I felt like throwing the book across the room when I finished it and I would have if my husband hasn’t been asleep. I wanted to give it three right away, but having such a strong emotion about a book means that its worthy of one more than I think.

The book left me very thankful of the life I have. I’m about the same age as the main character, Will, but am much more settled and happy with myself. Will seemed very lost and jumped around looking for meaning and acceptance in everything that passed him by. He seemed much younger than he was because of this.

A lot of Will’s time at Oxford was focused on his romantic endeavors. He was dating Alison and then Jess and then Sophie and then no one etc. Ultimately, he found that his romantic partners didn’t define him. He tried different jobs that didn’t interest him either. Eventually, he was able to return to what he loved, politics, back in the US and there wasn’t a single romantic tie to hold him to what he wanted. I think the author was trying to encourage us to be on our own and be ourselves when we’re young, because there’s really no better time to do what you love.

A reoccurring theme I saw was trying to find where you belong. Will isn’t British but finds a niche for himself at Oxford where he can catch on to the traditions and lingo quickly. Then he realizes that he’s not comfortable outside of Oxford when he visits London and sees people who don’t go to the University with him. When he goes home to see his mother, I think he finally felt at home for the first time and realized that he wasn’t finding a place he belonged but rather was running away from a home that had disappointed him. I’m glad he finally went back home. I’ve heard it said that if you live someone for five years, going back to where you lived before is difficult because it’s no longer your home. I don’t think Will really wanted to be British.

I can’t recall another book that this reminds me of, but it makes me think of author Ursula Hegi who wrote Stones from the River. She had lived in Germany for so long that she felt German instead of American. I think her books reflect her deep love and understanding of the German people.

Writer’s Takeaway: A minor thing, but I found a few capitalization errors in this book that really distracted me from the text. When sending out ARCs, it’s good to check this first.

This book kept moving forward, which I really liked. It was character driven, which I’m not a huge fan of and the lack of a central plot action disappointed me a bit. While I was frustrated and mad at the characters, I didn’t care about them. Will could have ended up eaten by bears and Sophie sold into sexual slavery and I think I would have been just as frustrated. The character’s decisions were so sporadic and spur of the moment that I was frustrated. Will said twice that he made major decisions without really explaining why or what had triggered his sudden decision to make them. I found that really frustrating.

Overall a compelling and interesting read. I’m not sure I would recommend it but it was interesting nonetheless. Four out of five stars.

Until next time, Reader, write on.

Related Post:
Book Review: “The Last Enchantments” by Charles Finch (ARC)|Scribbles and Wanderlust

Book Review: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant (3/5)

21 Jan

My first audiobook of the year is done! The women of my book club had mentioned reading this book and how much they enjoyed it so i decided to grab it myself. My mom loved it, too. I wasn’t in love with it, but I really enjoyed this book.

This book fulfills “Foreign Countries: Egypt” for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge and “Pre 1400” for When Are You Reading? Challenge. This is book 3 of the year on my way to the goal of 35.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Dinah is only briefly mentioned in the Bible as the son of Jacob and sister of Joseph. Anita Diamant gives us a sweeping life story of this woman and her life growing up in the 1700s BC. Dinah is the only daughter of Jacob and beloved by her mother and three aunties, Jacobs other wives. The women covet their time spent in the Red Tent, where women spend their monthly time. The women pass to Dinah their knowledge of raising children and living with men, glad to have a girl to pass this knowledge to. One of Dinah’s aunts, Rachel, is a midwife and Dinah apprentices herself to Rachel, learning the skills and tricks her aunt uses to deliver a live child to its mother.

Dinah meets and falls in love with the heir to a local principality and for the first time, feels that she is her own woman. Her brothers object to her marriage because they know the bride price will add to the family wealth and that the oldest son will be richer than the other brothers. In their anger, Dinah’s husband is killed, leaving her alone and with child, too angry to rejoin her family. She travels with her mother-in-law to Egypt and raises her son to be a famous scribe.

I loved the description of ancient life in this book; it really stuck with me. Things that today seem so rough and primitive were very normal in Dinah’s everyday life. Diamant did a wonderful job of bringing the life of these people to life in a respectful way. The first person point of view really helped this.

The one thing that I thought seemed off to me was the level of autonomy that Dinah had. Her mother and aunts did not have as great a level of freedom as Dinah seemed to have in her later years and this is because Dinah was an accomplished midwife. Though this seems logical, I felt the story was a little feminist  and showed a more modern idea of feminine freedom because of Dinah’s position.

Dinah’s story is about forgiveness and family. In her childhood, she feels that her family has been betrayed by her grandfather, Laban, who lords over her father Jacob and will not let the younger man have his own life. When Jacob is finally able to leave, he does so without looking back because Laban has not asked for forgiveness. After her husband is murdered, Dinah too runs away from her father without looking back. When Joseph is to return to Jacob for his sons to receive the grandfather’s blessing, she is overlooked. Her brothers and father do not recognize her and she feels shunned. Right before she turns to leave, her brother Judah comes to speak to her, having recognized his sister. He gives her a token of remembrance of their mother and Dinah is finally able to forgive her brothers and father, knowing that they have not forgotten about her and still love her. This is a forgiveness her mothers were not able to give to their own father and I think Dinah is glad to have forgiven Jacob.

When I think about it, this book is really Biblical Fanfiction. Dinah is mentioned briefly in the Bible as the daughter of Jacob but not much else is known about her. I always raise an eyebrow when something that is published could really be counted as fanfiction. Reader, what’s your opinion on published fanfiction? It’s a topic of interest to me.

As far as other discussion points on this book, I’m sure there are many worth of mention, but I really didn’t like this book very much and I’m not the best person to discuss it further. I’ll put some related posts below that you can explore for some other reader’s opinions.

Writer’s Takeaway: I loved this book from a historical fiction point of view. You man know, Reader, that I’m a big historical fiction junky and this time period is not one that’s available very often. It was obvious that Diamant did her research and brought to life an era long since gone. This book is a wonderful example of well executed historic writing.

As I said, the book was good and I enjoyed it, but it’s not memorable for me. There were too many characters for my taste and a lot of them ran together. Three out of five stars.

Related Posts:
The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant|Novel Insights
Pitching The Red Tent: Anita Diamant on Marketing Her First Novel|Historian’s Notebook
Book Club Review: The Red Tent, Anita Diamant|OpallaOnTrains
Book Review: “The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant|The Faery Inn

Book Review: Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg (4/5)

16 Jan

This will be the first of many posts I add about Annie’s Ghosts. This book was chosen for the Michigan Reads program this year so two of my book clubs are reading it and then I’m going to hear the author speak in May. Maybe I can convince you to read it!

This is my Michigan book for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg

During his mother’s final years, Steve heard from a doctor’s assistant that his mother had said she had a sister. Steve and his siblings were confused because their mother had always made a point to say she was an only child. The family pushed the comment to the back of their minds until after their mother’s death. Then, a letter asking for the maintenance payment on his grandparents graves came and to his surprise there were three graves; his grandparents and his aunt, Annie.

No one in the family knew about Annie, his mother’s sister and Steve’s journalistic tendencies kicked in and he began investigating. Annie had been institutionalized in the 1940s at Eloise, a mental hospital in the Detroit, MI area. She had lived well into Steve’s childhood and he’d never heard mention of her. Through long-lost cousins and old neighbors, Steve starts to piece together his mother’s secret. It’s a trail of old documents, travels to California and back, and even darker secrets into his family that Steve weaves into a wonderful book filled with the real life mysteries of family secrets.

When I read the summary of this book, I thought it was going to bore me to death. About fifty pages in, I started to be intrigued. By halfway, I was completely captured. Luxenberg has a very conversational and natural style of writing which made me forget all the facts and history he was throwing at my face. Luxenberg wrote the book to follow the order in which he discovered the information so the mystery unravels naturally and the reader feels like he is taking the journey with Luxenberg.

There are a few times where Luxenberg runs into legal snags which stop him from getting the data he wants to see. He has to find legal documentation that he is the heir to his mother’s estate, who is the heir to her sister’s estate. Luxenberg is put out that it is so difficult for relatives to find information on their ancestors when they want to. There is a secretary who, early on in the book, comments that she gets several calls a month from people looking for information on long-dead relatives and that she’s seldom able to help them. I was just at a book club meeting where one of the participants said her grandmother died at Eloise but she had no information on her because it was impossible to get access to it. This makes me sad because if the documents exist and the person is a relative, who is being protected by barring the documents? The book implies that it’s to protect doctors but the doctors are probably gone as well. I agree with Luxenberg that it shouldn’t be so difficult for loved ones to get information on their relatives after they pass away.

Luxenberg kept trying to figure out why his mother had lied so frequently about having a sister. By the end of the book, he had concluded that his father had no idea he even had a sister-in-law. Friends of Luxenberg’s mother, Beth, were under the impression that she didn’t want anyone new in her life told about her sister. She thought that she was too old to marry after being a bridesmaid in all of her friends weddings at the beginning of World War II. Beth suspected that having a handicapped sister would further hurt her chances because the men would fear the problem was genetic. After marrying Duke (Luxenberg’s father), Beth might have been ready to reveal her secret, but when Duke himself was institutionalized, Luxenberg things his mother sealed her lips forever, not wanting her husband to doubt their genes. Talk about unfortunate circumstances!

I read another book last year about delving into a family secret, A Secret Gift by Ted Gup, which I did not enjoy as much. I think what intrigued me more about Luxenberg’s book is that he treated his fact-finding like a mystery that the reader was investigating with him instead of retelling a story. I do like that both of these books are based on family histories and the fact-finding of the current generations. It’s cool to hear ‘real’ history about ‘real’ people in the early 1900s (or at least I think it is).

I had to do a family history project when I was in high school about where my grandparents were during World War II. If you’ve never done anything like this, I encourage you to at least ask your older relatives what they were doing in a given decade. I was really fascinated to hear my maternal grandmother was a Candy Striper and my paternal grandparents lived in the Detroit area during the war. I’ll have those memories all my life, even after they’re gone and I won’t have to go memory hunting like Luxenberg did.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think Luxenberg is very engaging as a writer and the way he took the reader through his personal mystery was wonderful because it allowed me to be ready for every twist and turn.

The other thing about Luxenberg’s story that I loved was how non-linear it was, but I was still able to follow it well. His research took him to California, Chicago, and the Ukraine and he ran the gamut of relatives from all sides of his family to conduct interviews and track down old friends. He might jump from Annie to his father as he researched the relationships that these people had, but I could still follow and what Luxenberg wrote always came back to his family. This book was a great example of getting everything summed up and finished at the end of a book that had more arms than an octopus.

Overall, a solid read and I look forward to all the follow-up I’ll have with this book. Four out of five stars.

Related Blog Posts

Diary of an Eccentric (multiple posts)
“Annie’s Ghosts” and Remembering Cora Davis| Jodee Inscho Research

Book Review: I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max (2/5)

14 Jan

I surprised myself that I read this book so please don’t be too floored yourself. My husbands old roommate was reading this when I was over one day and he was laughing so uncontrollably I thought he’d need me to change his emergency diaper. Of course, I added it to my To-Read list out of curiosity. The library didn’t have a copy, so I asked for it for Christmas. Mom felt it would be inappropriate for anyone except my brother to buy it for me, so that’s what I got from him. I’m usually pretty disciplined about reading books in the order they appear on my To-Read list but I was too curious and jumped in. I finished most of it in a weekend.

This book is my North Carolina book for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge. You can argue with me on setting if you’d like, but Duke seemed to be a common location in his stories.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell by Tucker Max

Tucker is a self-proclaimed ass hole and a me-proclaimed alcoholic and womanizer. This book is a collection of his blog posts and the book was turned into a film. (I don’t intend to see it.) Max’s stories cover his drunken escapades including run-ins with police, being kicked out of bars, and lots of women. Many of his stories take place during his time at Duke Law School and the years after he graduated when he decided to pursue writing. Most of the stories involve copious amounts of alcohol, crowded bars, and morally loose women.

I tried to keep most of that summary judgement free, but this book really upset me. I knew what it was about going into it, but I found myself frustrated with my own gender more often than not reading this book. I’m amazed how he can find women who throw themselves at a guy who they know will treat them terribly. I know a few women like this, but that so many exist in this country and that Max can find them so easily really angered me. He was never doing something a woman asked him not to do so its hard to fault Max. I can only fault the women of this book. Well, I can fault him a little for deciding to act like he does, but more the women.

As much as I left this book thinking “Tucker Max is a worthless human being,” he had a few good nuggets of advice. The best was that men will treat women the way they allow themselves to be treated. If a woman demands respect, the man will either respect her or not deal with her. It’s pretty straight forward. I think this is very true. If you’ll let a guy walk all over you and still text him? It’s giving him the green light to do that again. Tucker admitted that before law school, he would lead women on, saying he wanted a relationship when he was only interested in a quick hook-up. At least he realized that was wrong. As long as the girls know what they’re getting into and know he’s not going to change his ways, there’s no harm (in my opinion).

After my friend read this book, he said it made him want to join a fraternity. I was confused when I reflected on this after finishing it because Max was never in a fraternity. There are scenes from the end of the book where he uses fraternity houses as book signing locations, but he was never a member of the fraternities in question. It upset me that this is considered the ‘frat guy life style.’ I have a lot of friends who were in fraternities who never acted like this. I also know guys who weren’t in fraternities who did act like this. I guess what upset me is that this is a desirable lifestyle for people. It was a very judgemental book where Tucker and his friends would make a decision about a girl within seconds of seeing her. That lifestyle can be very destructive if someone doesn’t have the self-control to stop when he needs to for a job, money, family, etc. Also, I’m surprised that Tucker doesn’t have every STD under the sun. One of the girls he’s with says the same thing. I also don’t understand how someone who admits he’s focused on his health as far as food and fitness are concerned would fill his body with so much alcohol and leave himself susceptible to diseases. For God’s sake, just put a condom on! I read on another book blog that he’s gone to counseling and started to turn his life around. I’m wondering if he ran out of beer, women, or money first. I’m guessing money.

I read another blog-turned-book early last year, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson which I loved. I was hoping this book would be a little more like that one. Lawson’s book took you through her life and the funny/strange things that happened to her growing up in rural Texas. I liked the chronology of the book and they way it shows her change and overcome some of her social phobias. Max’s book was much more disorganized. the stories were out of chronological order, were not organized by themes, and had characters that would disappear and reappear without notice. I know blogs are a different animal than a novel, but Max seemed to ignore the liberty to rearrange things for the print version.

Writer’s Takeaway: No matter how much I disliked Max, he entertained me. I read most of the book in three days and laughed the whole time. I was disgusted by the end, but my abs hurt out of enjoyment. I’ve read that Max was the first self-published author to make the New York Times Bestsellers list and I’m not surprised. I think a lot of the sales were shock sales, much like Fifty Shades of Grey. I have to say, good for him.

So what does this teach us as writers? Being different, as in shockingly different and on some levels offensive, can work to your advantage. It’s the same as being memorable and apparently it sells well.

I didn’t like that the timeline was so out of whack and there wasn’t any sort of growth or even consistent reoccurring characters. It felt unorganized to me.

I wouldn’t recommend this book, but I’d gladly engage in discussion with someone who’d read it. Two out of five stars.

Until next time, write on.

Related Articles:
Book Review: Tucker Max Book Series| The Nerd Nexus
I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell, or how Tucker Max saved me rather too late|Be my muse
I’m a feminist and I like Tucker Max|Escapist

Where Are You Reading? and Goodreads Challenges

7 Jan

Hello, team!

It’s time to start the New Year off right, am I right? I’ve decided to do two challenges, one of which I hope you join me in. The simpleist one is on Goodreads.com where I’ve challenged myself to read 35 books this year. I know, you’re asking yourself how I could challenge myself to just 35 when I read 71 books last year. Well, this year I don’t want to stress about it so much. In addition to hitting the 70 mark just days before Christmas and only getting 71 because of an audiobook and driving to my parents house, I had to read short books toward the end. This year, I don’t want to come up short and I want to tackle some longer books (like Pillars of the Earth). So, the shorter challenge.

The second challenge I’m even more excited about. I’m joining Sheila at her blog, Book Journey, for the Where are You Reading? Challenge. Take a click over there and read about her challenge and how it’s set up. I’ve set up my own page which you can see from the menu on my blog or by clicking here. The challenge is to read a book set in every state. I know I’m going to fall short, but I want to see where the books I tend to read are set. I have a feeling many are going to be in foreign countries, but I still want to see!

Please join me in either one of these challenges! Leave a comment and let me know. Are you doing a reading challenge? What one are you doing? Are you going to join me in either of mine?

Until next time, Reader, write on.