Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Spoiled Brats by Simon Rich

Ohhh, Simon Rich, how I love thee. Rich first hooked me with 2013's The Last Girlfriend On Earth, a short story collection full of brief, whip-smart stories on relationships and gender. Every satirical eye-ful was something special, and Spoiled Brats lives up to the hype of that initial collection. *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration through some service or other that I can't remember right now. 

At the beginning of Spoiled Brats, I feared the magic might be gone. I mean, really, could anything live up to the surprise of The Last Girlfriend on Earth? But then the magic slapped me in the face. This collection is similar to his previous work for its brief stories that pack a punch, but this time Rich is examining and critiquing Millenials...from helicopter parents to hipsters right on down to jazz blogs and artisanal pickles. 

My very favorite story was, "Sell Out," about a Jewish immigrant named Hershel Rich works in a pickle factory. One day he falls into the vat of brine, the lid is closed, and is opened years down the line when everyone he's has known is gone. BUT, he has a 27-year-old great-great-grandson named Simon Rich! The two men are the same age since Hershel was preserved in the brine, and suddenly outdated ideologies clash with Millenial entitlement. It's hilarious, thought-provoking, and remarkably brainy. 

Want a taste of a few more stories? Here ya go...

In "Family Business," a young chimpanzee offends his working class father by choosing to become a research animal instead of joining the family grub-hunting business. In "Proud Mom," a young mother is so besotted she doesn't realize her child is actually, truly a monster. And in "Animals," the fate of a terrified classroom hamster hangs in the balance when a notorious kid is picked for hamster care duty. (From Goodreads.)

There are quite a few touches of Rip Van Winkle in this little collection...some overt and some less so. There's also a lot of taking aim at family dynamics and old-school vs. new-school morality. There are some happy endings, some wonky endings, and some cringe-worthy moments, but I just can't get over how clever it all is and that in the midst of its cleverness it's still charming, good storytelling. 

I gotta hand it to you, Simon Rich, you might be my new author crush. 

Pub. Date: October 2014
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Format: E-Galley
ISBN: 0316368628

Monday, October 20, 2014

Brutal Youth by Anthony Breznican

High school, for me, was not the candy-colored "best time of your life" everyone makes it out to be. Everyone except, Anthony Breznican, that is. I'm pretty sure the view of high school from Brutal Youth, in all its everyone's nightmare of high school turned up to 11. Note: I received this book in consideration of an honest review. 

Three freshmen must join forces to survive at a troubled, working-class Catholic high school with a student body full of bullies and zealots, and a faculty that's even worse. With a plunging reputation and enrollment rate, Saint Michael’s has become a crumbling dumping ground for expelled delinquents and a haven for the stridently religious when incoming freshman Peter Davidek signs up. Peter befriends fellow freshmen Noah Stein, a volatile classmate whose face bears the scars of a hard-fighting past, and the beautiful but lonely Lorelei Paskal - so eager to become popular, she makes only enemies. Brutal Youth follows these students as they discover that instead of growing older and wiser, going bad may be the only way to survive.

While the opening pages were heartbreaking and troubling they really set the tone for the novel. A "loser" student finally snaps, injures some teachers, and takes to the roof to do as much damage as possible to those who have hurt him over time. It was in these opening pages that I was able to begin to gauge Breznican's writing ability, and it's pretty fantastic. The story, throughout, is well crafted, provocative, and fresh. 

My problems with Brutal Youth, were 100% personal. I had a hard time caring about the characters in such an amped-up, cold, harsh, calculating environment. In short, I was impressed with what the book was doing and the ways Breznican chose to critique the school structure, lazy and crazy teachers, and the way students had to adapt to survive. But, alas, there was very little connection to my heart...something I look for in a book that sends me over the moon. Certainly, this novel puts a microscope on the high school experience in the most dramatic and at times disturbing ways, and for that I could appreciate its brilliance even if the personal connection was lacking. 

Need a new book for discussion? This could be the one. If you'd like to win my hardcover copy, enter to win below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pub. Date: June 2014
Publisher: St. Martin's
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781250019356
Source: Be Books Consulting

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Dewey's Oct. '14 Master Post!

Hour 24 and End of Event Survey!

That's right. I made it the WHOLE readathon. For the first time ever since I've been doing this (2007). 

  1. Which hour was most daunting for you? THIS ONE!
  2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Comics in general, and I loved the short story collection Incendiary Girls
  3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Probably go to bed at a decent hour. But that's really just a tip for me. 
  4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? The cheerleaders were at a huge disadvantage with 900+ readers, but they rallied and did GREAT. 
  5. How many books did you read? If single issue comics count, six.
  6. What were the names of the books you read? Lumberjanes #1, Sabrina #1, Wild's End #1, Indendiary Girls (short stories), Teen Dog #1, Wytches #1
  7. Which book did you enjoy most? Incendiary Girls
  8. Which did you enjoy least? Sabrina #1
  9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Rock it like you did this year. I'll try to get you some more help! 
  10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Duh. We'll be back. :D 

Hour 19 Update!

WHOA! Where does the time go? I took a long break there. I also read nearly a whole book of short stories! I have 50 pages left, and I'm going to try my best to polish it off after my hosting shift which ends at the tail end of Hour 20. This is the closest I've gotten to finishing the whole shebang in a while! 

Oh, you want to know what the book is? 

Incendiary Girls, by Kodi Scheer. Amazing amazing! More to come! 

Hour 12 Mid-Event Survey!

1. What are you reading right now? Incendiary Girls by Kodi Scheer...amazing short stories!
2. How many books have you read so far? Not much more than earlier: three single issue comics, part of two books. 
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Finishing Spoiled Brats, by Simon Rich! 
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Hosting duty distractions. But nothing serious. 
5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? People who complain on Twitter always surprise me, but it shouldn't after this long. 

Hour 8! Hour 8! Holy Crap, It's Getting Late!

Not really, but time does fly when you're having fun. Since I last checked in, I managed to polish off a couple more single issue comics and a bit of Brutal Youth, by Anthony Breznican.

Of the three, I definitely liked Wild's End #1 the best. Given, I'm not done with Brutal Youth yet, but we'll see how that shakes out. Up next....more comics! 

Almost Hour 5!
Wow, where does the time go? That's cliche but damn true! Breakfast was made, a shower was had, I even updated my online class because (oops) I forgot about them! I've wrangled some prizes, put out some fires, and Tweeted, cheered, and chatted with Heather. And Instagram! Don't forget that. Have I read? NOT SO MUCH!

But I'm going to do that now. Starting with...

Opening MEME
Good morning, friends. A cold came on me yesterday, so this might be one of the most interesting readathons yet. Interesting as in drowsy, cranky, snotty, and slow. There will be naps. In the meantime, here's my opening meme. 

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Just northeast of Dallas, TX! Which takes on a whole new connotation for people this year! #halfhearted Yay! 

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? Lumberjanes #7!

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? The broccoli beef we're making later. Not a snack, but still my fave. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I've never tried a quince, but I'd like to. They sound cute. 

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? Less stress! I hope!