Review

Review: The Good Luck Of Right Now by Matthew Quick

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2 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Having read several of Matthew Quick’s books, I’ve come to expect something from his writing. His books are always a little quirky and unusual, the protagonists never entirely fit into ‘normal’ society, and there’s usually a darker thread running through the story. And whilst The Good Luck Of Right Now ticks all the boxes, it just wasn’t as enjoyable as his other works in my opinion.

I found it really difficult to connect with Bartholomew, a forty year old man who lives with his mother until she dies. He made me feel uneasy, uncomfortable and not at all sympathetic, not like Pat in The Silver Linings Playbook or Leonard in Forgive Me Leonard Peacock. I suppose it’s part of the point, as Bartholomew does not fit well into society, a man heading towards middle age who still lives with his parents is not the norm. I don’t know whether it was because Bartholomew was older than the normal Matthew Quick protagonist, or whether it was his home situation and general attitude, but I did not feel for him at all.

What I did like about the book, however, was how it was told through letters to Richard Gere, Bartholomew seeing him as some sort of ‘spiritual guide’, as his mother was fixated on the actor. It was a cute way of showing how Bartholomew was growing up, albeit rather late in life, after the death of his mother.

With a sweet, if rather predictable, ending, I definitely feel this is not the strongest of Quick’s books, but would recommend it to his fans nonetheless. It has that writing style I’ve come to know and enjoy, and as always he deals with mental health both delicately and creatively.

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: November 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

November 2014

Last month I read a total of three books: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, The Wise Man’s Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2) by Patrick Rothfuss and The Chronicles of Narmo by Caitlin Moran.

So it’s been a completely insane month and I can’t believe I only read three books… The Wise Man’s Fear was definitely the standout book for November, and I can’t wait to move on to The Slow Regard of Silent Things, which Gollancz kindly sent me. I just barely made any time for reading this month, I’ve been so exhausted!

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read one book towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge. The final villain of the year is Apocalypse. I’d love to finish recruiting the X-Men by the end of the year, but we’ll see…
  • I have currently read one hundred and twenty books towards my Goodreads goal. I’ve hit it again after raising it for the fourth time, and I’ll leave it there for now!

 

Currently reading:

Moriarty The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick

How was November for you?

Review

Review: Boy21 by Matthew Quick

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I’ve noticed a formula with all of the Matthew Quick books I’ve read so far. They all feature:

  • a main character (or characters) with quirky habits or personal issues that go deeper than they initially appear to
  • an emphasis on the importance of family and friendship, no matter how rocky the relationship, or how difficult things might be
  • a particular hobby or interest that the main character has a real passion for – and it’s not always healthy

So far this formula has worked very well for Quick – and Boy21 is no exception. It’s very much his writing – simple yet unique, thoughtful and very centered around character development. When we first meet Finley, he tells us the short, sweet story of how he met his girlfriend, Erin. They have known each other since they were kids, and their relationship to me felt so genuine. They’re so supportive of each other with their basketball careers. The one element I didn’t quite understand of their relationship was that they broke up every basketball season, then got back together after. I understand why, so they wouldn’t distract each other, but I don’t really understand how they could do it if their relationship was so great. Or maybe that’s the point, they’re so trusting and comfortable with each other that they know three months not even talking each year will be fine?

Russ’ introduction, on the other hand, was crazy. And very sad. Convinced that he is in fact an alien called Boy21, who will be ‘collected’ by his parents in a few months, he refers to Finley as ‘Earthling’ and asks him questions such as where his ‘dwelling pod’ is. Neither Finley, nor the reader, know whether Russ is actually convinced that he is an alien or whether he has just put up this very elaborate front to try and keep the pain of his parents’ murder away – and it’s heartbreaking. In his more lucid moments, Russ proves to be a great friend, and in a strange role reversal, manages to coax Finley out of his shell.

Although Finley was at times a rather spineless character – his main ambition seemed to be to follow Erin around wherever her basketball career might take her, and stay with her for the rest of his life – he was a genuinely selfless guy, prepared to help out Russ, even if his very presence threatened one of the things that meant most to Finley – his place on the basketball team.

Overall, a wonderful story about how different people deal with loss, and a great coming of age tale. My main complaint was that I was bit lost amongst the basketball terminology at times, but that’s about it! A definite recommendation for anyone who has previously enjoyed Quick’s works, as well as those of YA contemporary authors such as John Green.

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: June 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of thirteen books: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, X-Force Vol 2: Old Ghosts by Craig Kyle, Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection Vol 1 by Mark Millar, The Quick by Lauren Owen, Marvel 70th Anniversary by Stan Lee, Prince of Fools (The Red Queen’s War #1) by Mark Lawrence, Uncanny X-Men: Divided We Stand by Ed Brubaker, Dangerous Days in the Roman Empire by Terry Deary, Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson, The Three by Sarah Lotz, Boy21 by Matthew Quick and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley.

I’m still reading Marvel comics! There are suddenly a lot more available on the county library system, so I’m making use of it while I still can. My standout book of the month was definitely Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant, about the Borgia family. I find them fascinating, and this account of their lives (albeit partly fictionalised) was just brilliant. Brave New World was my book group’s Sci-Fi Book of the Month – unfortunately I didn’t get round to our fantasy choice, but I’m hoping to read it this month.

 

Challenge progress:

  • I read four books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge and fully recruited Storm, contributing three bonus points to my team. I also managed to defeat Loki for an extra three bonus points! July’s villain is no other than the notorious Dr. Doom, and I already have my books planned to defeat him. They’re all ARCs waiting for review – even better!
  • I raised my Goodreads goal to one hundred books, and have currently read eighty-four towards that goal.

 

Currently reading:

Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen

Off the blog:

June has been STRESSFUL – hence a lack of posts towards the end, as well as lack of commenting on other blogs. If you saw my post on accommodation last week – well I think it’s sorted. I’ve finally been able to reserve a room. But the email says they’ll let you know at the latest five days before the move in date whether it’s approved. FIVE DAYS?? What if you get rejected? I expect they rarely reject anyone unless they’re not a student and have somehow got through the system – but WHAT? What if you’re rejected, how do they think you’ll find somewhere else in five days, because all other student accommodation will have gone by then. Ugh. Well… if all goes to plan, I have myself my own little apartment in Leiden. A little further than I thought from the faculty, about a 10-15 min bike ride/25 minute walk to the centre, but it’s somewhere to live! And an actual apartment to myself. And of course I’ve nosed around the area on Google Maps, and it looks lovely 🙂 Now that it’s sorted, I feel like I can get on with making other arrangements for Leiden.

Oh, and I also discovered a new love for Jane Eyre, which I re-read for the first time in seven years after reading it at school. I watched the newer film version with Michael Fassbender and Mia Wakowski, and the soundtrack is just GORGEOUS.

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How was June for you? Hopefully less stressful than mine!

Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: March 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of thirteen books – an improvement on February! Bitterblue (Graceling #3) by Kristin Cashore, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, In Real Life by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang, The Cruel Path by David Normoyle, Doctor’s Notes by Dr. Rosemary Leonard, The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt, The Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien, Fantastic Four Vol. 1 by J. Michael Straczynski, Wards of Faerie (Dark Legacy of Shanarra #1) by Terry Brooks and X-Men Legacy: Aftermath by Mike Carey.

Standout books include Bitterblue, The Book Thief and Fangirl. I was happy to finally read the conclusion to Kristin Cashore’s Graceling series, and Bitterblue tied the threads of the first two books together nicely. I read The Book Thief as I’d like to go and see it in the cinema, but haven’t quite gotten round to that yet! And finally, I won Fangirl in Lianne’s giveaway, and it was an absolute delight. You can read more about how it surprised me in my review. I’ve now read thirty-six books towards my goal of fifty this year. I may think about raising it in June or July.

Challenge progress:

  • I read eight books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, which I’m very pleased with! I also managed to defeat this month’s villain, Juggernaut. April’s villain is Kingpin, who looks to be quite a challenge.
  • One book ticked off of the Dragons & Jetpacks Ultimate Booklist, which also happened to be our science fiction Book of the Month.

Currently reading:

Red Country by Joe Abercrombie

Reviews on the blog this month:

Other posts:

Upcoming:

  • Quite a few reviews including Leviathan Wakes, Doctor’s Notes, In Real Life and The Cruel Path.
  • Something to do with Marvel…
  • And more Museum of Literary Wonders posts as I’ve been meaning to do for a while!

Off the blog:

Not much has happened! I’m kind of scared and excited at how quickly this year has gone so far. Only four and a half months before I move to the Netherlands for university. I can’t wait! I’ve also started playing Smite with a friend, it’s an MOBA where you play as gods – perfect for a mythology geek like me, though I keep pointing out the flaws within the system… it’s really fun though! As for the coming month: my mum is running the London Marathon and I’m SO proud of her. She’s running for a charity called WellChild and has raised a fair amount of money so far. And at the end of the month, it’s back to London again for a cocktails & conversation event with Laini Taylor and Lauren Owen – are any of my fellow book bloggers going as well?

How was March for you?

Review

Review: Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

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4 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock was initially a difficult book to read. Not because it’s badly written in any way – I requested it as I really enjoyed Matthew Quick’s previous novel, The Silver Linings Playbook. It’s just so full of raw emotion, with a protagonist that you simultaneously feel sorry for and dislike – at least for half of the book.

From the very beginning it is a tragic and detailed story. We’re introduced to Leonard (or rather, he introduces himself) on the morning of his eighteenth birthday. This is when he reveals his plan: to kill a fellow classmate, and then himself, using a World War II handgun. It is unusual in that it has footnotes, and lots of them, in which Leonard explains background information and rambles on about previous events and his innermost thoughts. I really liked the footnotes, as they were a very intimate look into Leonard’s life and mind. Another incredibly clever and particularly sad part of the book are Leonard’s letters from his future self. His favourite teacher, Herr Silverman, encourages Leonard to write them – and he does, even though he has no intention of reaching this future. It’s just so sad, how he has created this perfect life for himself in the future with a beautiful wife and loving daughter, in a post-apocalyptic yet peaceful world, but he’s just so sure he will never even reach that age, let alone have anything like that in his life.

Leonard decides that before he kills himself, he will leave gifts for important people in his life. Four different people, and how very different they are. His elderly neighbour, with whom Leonard shares a love for Humphrey Bogart movies, helps the reader to see a softer, more caring side. A fellow student and violin virtuoso, who really demonstrates that Leonard (ironically) appreciates the little things in life. A pastor’s daughter, who reduces Leonard to just a regular teenage boy. And finally Herr Silverman, his favourite teacher, for whom Leonard shows great respect.

I mentioned that it was difficult reading for the first half. Before you find out exactly just why Leonard is on this path, he seems incredibly judgemental and condescending, constantly looking down on his peers, and just not a likeable character in the slightest. Then the pieces come together and you find out why he is struggling so much – abandoned by his drunkard of a father and unsure if he’s even still alive, neglected by his fashion designer mother who spends most of her time in another state, and one massive reason that suddenly hits you like a ton of bricks when you read it, leaves you reeling and completely changes your perception of Leonard.

The irony is that, for someone who is so intent on killing themselves, Leonard sure thinks about life a lot. He has quite a philosophical view, more so than his classmates, and he is incredibly intelligent. His narrative voice definitely reminded me of Pat in The Silver Linings Playbook – it’s funny how these characters who are seen as ‘unstable’ often have a better grip on life than those who are ‘normal’. In conclusion, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is a haunting and tragic story, that completely flips your view of the protagonist halfway through – leaving the reader feeling incredibly judgemental themselves.

Misc.

A Year in Books 2012

This is my own wrap-up post of the past year, pointing out particular favourites, new authors and series, etc. To see all the books I have read this year, click here, or look at the graphic below (good ol’ Goodreads!)

 

I started off the year with reading all but the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, as I had read A Game of Thrones at the end of 2011. Definitely one of my new favourite series and authors! I don’t think I really need to explain what they’re about as I’m pretty sure everyone has heard of the series by now.
 
 
I started the Millennium series, by Stieg Larsson. My parents are fans, and were going to see the English language version of the film in the cinema, and I decided to go with them. I hadn’t read the books, so on the day we were going to watch it I started reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and got about halfway through the book before seeing the film. But Blomkvist and Salander hadn’t even met by that point! I still haven’t read the third book of the series – I started it, but honestly found it rather dull, and from watching the film I know not much happens.
 
 
I won my first Goodreads giveaway – Antauge by Sarah Parker Morris, which I ended up giving a three star rating. You can read my review here. I won many other books after, some of which I still need to review!

 
Mass Effect 3 was released, and I played and finished it – and started reading the books because I just can’t get enough of it. Unfortunately, the books are pretty bad… but that doesn’t stop me from reading them. I have reviewed Mass Effect: Ascension by Drew Karpyshyn and Mass Effect: Homeworlds by Mac Walters; and read but not reviewed Mass Effect: Deception by William C. Dietz and Mass Effect: Evolution by Mac Walters.
 
I also decided to read some more classic sci-fi, so read books such as I Am Legend by Robert Matheson and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. I made sure to read it before I watched Blade Runner – which is one of my dad’s favourite films, and he’d been telling me to watch it for ages. I have to say, I definitely preferred the book! I also read some newer sci-fi, such as House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds (amazing) and Gradisil by Adam Roberts (had so much potential).

  

I read The Hunger Games series, all three books before seeing the film. I absolutely loved them, and this led to me reading more YA books that weren’t quite so good… 

But I also discovered some new favourite series – the Hyperion Cantos by Dan Simmons, The Demon Cycle by Peter V. Brett, the Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. I discovered some really enjoyable, underrated books such as The Silver Linings Playbook (which I’m sure is now more popular due to the film). I re-read some older favourites – Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses trilogy, The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien, some Bill Bryson.


I finally got round to reading (and really enjoying!) some of the more popular books that I’d been meaning to read – The Passage by Justin Cronin, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.


But I also read a couple of books that I really didn’t enjoy. Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. Admitting to not enjoying either of those almost makes me feel blasphemous… but I just didn’t get along with them at all. I think The Scarlet Letter is the only book I’ve ever wanted to throw across the room. I really looked forward to reading Let The Right One In but spent the majority of it feeling rather queasy… I also read the infamously Goodreads-wide hated Save the Pearls: Revealing Eden, which made me feel rather sick for a completely different reason.


I founded this blog at the end of August, which is when I started reading ebooks – I’m still not sure what I think of them. I can see their uses, definitely, but I much, much prefer the feel of a real book in my hands. Since I started this blog, I have made 95 posts (not including this one), 29 of which are book reviews. I’ve gained 220 followers on Google Friend Connect, and over 500 on Twitter, as well as discovered some fantastic fellow book bloggers!


I’m actually finding it really hard to write this post, because there are so many books and aspects of blogging that  I want to write about, but I don’t want to turn this into an essay, and it would also take forever! Overall, I would say that I think it’s been a great year, reading wise. I read a wide range of genres, found some amazing new books/series/authors, and also found ones I know to steer clear of.


I think I’ll also just take the time to send a small shout out to some of my favourite book bloggers – Kelly, Kat, Ara, Aloi and Deneé – I visit your blogs regularly, and try to comment frequently. But there are so many others I love to visit, I would list my whole blogroll on here if I could…