Bettyville by George Hodgman

Despite the praise, Bettyville by George Hodgman is not particularly illuminating, it does not have a gratifying end and it is mostly a compendium of the same thoughts and scenes, slightly tweaked, repeated ad nauseum.

While Bettyville certainly had the potential to be poignant and illuminating, “gorgeous” as one author describes it on the back blurb, it squanders all of this potential by relentlessly repeating the same pointless scenes. Once is fine, five times is inane.

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Women’s Work by Kari Aguila

Women’s Work is another entry into the post-apocalyptic genre, a surprisingly well written first novel for the author, Kari Aguila. It is an ideal novel, but, nothing much ever happens to make the idea worthy than more than a short story.

The problem with Aguila’s book is not what might be expected from her premise: following a world war and an effort of semi-global oppression of women by men, women take control of the non-functional central government. More importantly, the previously oppressed women take the reins of their local governments and become the oppressors under the guise of security in the face of roaming bands of evil, rapist men.

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Tunnel Vision by Aric Davis

I have many problems with the book, on two separate levels: poorly plotted and ridiculous on the first level, badly designed and poorly printed on the second.

When it comes to the plot and the like, please believe the other reviewers with the one and two star ratings: the plot is so ridiculous as to be throw away. I’m all about the suspension of disbelief, but, this book pushes far beyond any galaxy I know of into the bounds of the stupid. An 18-year-old running a marijuana growing operation, who’s also a private eye, who has his own house and thinks like a 40-year-old man? Give me a break.

Teenagers who solve a murder mystery? Again, break please.

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Man alive! by Mary Kay Zuravleff

Man Alive! by Mary Kay Zuravleff is a decent read. It starts strong, it seems like it has a decent enough middle but ends up just sort of plodding along to its ending. Despite some plot turns, some ratcheted-up drama, it just ends and by the end of the book I was happy just to be done.

In the end, I just don’t care that much about the characters, or maybe, I stopped caring.

I want to write more. I want to make this a long, in-depth review. I want to hit 600 words. But I can’t, because there isn’t enough to write about. It’s well written enough. It starts our interesting. Blah, blah, blah. Not bad, but the lack of a finish makes it just blah.

This book was received, free of charge, from the Goodreads First Reads program.

 

Robot & Frank & Fascism: A look at the near-future we don’t want to live in

This is not a review of Robot & Frank, an enjoyable film. This is about the future Robot & Frank imagines.

One critic does write specifically about the future imagined.

Joshua Topolsky at The Verge summed up his opinion in the last paragraph of his review:

“It’s also one of the few movies I’ve seen where the future is not a dystopic nightmare, 3D-generated phantasmagoria, or otherwise unbelievable peek into a not-too-distant hellworld. It’s future that seems real, palpable, and just around the corner — one where we have to figure out not just what our technology will do to us, but what it will mean to us.”

But Topolsky is wrong. Let’s be clear: I’m bias. My job as a criminal justice reporter for a weekly newspaper in a small community means I’m more aware of what police may be able to do, and what they may not be able to do and when they’re violating somebody’s rights.

Very few, if any, of the critics I read picked up on the fascist state director Jake Schreier and writers Christopher D. and Christopher Paul Ford conjured up. It is, I imagine, the result of a creeping fascist state.

The main character, Frank (played by Frank Langella) is a retired cat burglar with varying degrees of dementia. His son gets him a robot to take care of him and the robot’s main directive appears to be Frank’s health, even if that means helping and allowing him to commit burglary, something that engages him intellectually.
(Far more than the robot’s love, gardening.)

 

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The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

The Paying Guests, despite the critical acclaim, is nothing more than an extremely bloated exercise in supposedly literary fiction.

At 564 pages, big pages, it’s a door stop and a slog and a bore. Really, The Paying Guests could be 150 pages and not lose a single thing. Around page 260, something actually happened. The first thing of any real substance.

Any real plot developments in The Paying Guests are overshadowed by the endless parade of bloated thoughts from the narrator. The bloated thoughts aren’t interesting or engaging. Rather, they’re pointless drivel.

The book is a period piece, it speaks to a certain time and it might actually carry some great weight about the status of women in a patriarchic society. It might, but I don’t know because all of the worthless words bogged it down so far that I ceased to care a long, long time ago.

The paying guests is not worth reading, or buying. Maybe an abridged version would carry less real weight and more of the metaphorical kind. I can only hope.

This book was received, free of charge, from the Goodreads First Reads program. All quotes come from an uncorrected proof for limited distribution and may, or may not, reflect the final copy. Just don’t know!

On Goodreads

And give up showbiz? by Josh Young

The author is a five-time New York Times bestselling author, and I want to write, based on the quality of his writing, I am entirely baffled as to how. That is not accurate: many New York Times bestselling authors are terrible writers and based on And give up showbiz?

Josh Young falls into that category.

There are a bunch of things that strike the wrong tune with And give up showbiz?, but the most glaring I the book should not be for sale, but should be given away by the book’s subject, lawyer Fred Levin.

Let me clarify: This is a badly written, book-length public relations pamphlet for Fred Levin.

The subtitle of the book is: “How Fred Levin beat big tobacco, avoided two murder prosecutions, became a chief of Ghana, earned boxing manager of the year & transformed American law.”

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Stiff: The curious lives of human cadavers by Mary Roach

Sept. 9, 2014

I wanted to like Stiff. I wanted Mary Roach to be an entertaining writer. Alas, she is not.

She’s judgmental and annoying. She writes too much about too little. She goes on long, pointless tangents.

Most damning of all (for me, as a journalist), are incongruities between what she’s written as either the truth or a semblance of the truth and the truth I’ve read from more credible authors. Meaning, she’s lying or being lazy or a combination of the two.

Once the first hole is poked in Roach’s credibility, I have no faith that her work is not riddled with holes.

At this point, I should put some caveats in my review: I am not easily grossed out. I’m a little bit morbid. While I do not deal with dead bodies extensively, I deal with death and the grieving on a regular basis as a cops and courts reporter for a newspaper.

This appears to be an issue for some reviewers. I did not find the book to be particularly gross.

Show me the money
First, my biggest problem with the book. Roach writes a little bit about the history of the body market, but not that much. When it comes to the modern body market, she writes, a costs $500. Who knows how much it sells for.

That’s it.

One single reference.

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Reno’s got film: This is Martin Bonner

I may begrudge Santa Fe a lot of things: the lack of a Costco (marinated artichoke hearts by the three quarts), the over-all expensiveness, the lack of decent things offered on Craigslist and the subsequent over-pricing of thrift stores and ridiculous costs of things offered. Everyone seems to think torn-up couches are worth hundreds of dollars. Thrift stores, especially Good Will, think that coffee makers that cost $8 new at Walmart are worth $12-15 used.

That and the old white people. Going through Trader Joe’s is always some kind of terrible gauntlet, yet, I love Trader Joe’s, the wine, the tahini sauce, the pita bread. The gin.

All those gripes aside, Santa Fe has a pretty incredible movie scene, especially for a town so small. Hell, even for a large town. One movie theater is situated inside the university, another is a “United Artists” inside of a mall, yet a third was revamped and now owned by George R. R. Martin, although the screen is smaller than many in-home projections. And there’s another, one I have yet to go to, is the Center for Contemporary Arts.

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Skinny Bitch gets Hitched by Kim Barnouin

Sloppily and condescendingly written, “Skinny Bitch Gets Hitched” asks the reader to suspend the disbelief, not in aliens or artifacts or magic but rather, in how people act and how the world works.

Personally, I don’t understand the appeal of the “skinny bitch” moniker.

The “skinny bitch,” Clementine Cooper (Clem for short) is a vegan. And don’t forget it, because if you’re not a vegan, well, prepare to be preached at with flimsy arguments and pointless rhetoric.

So Clem, at an improbably young age, runs her own restaurant and is dating the millionaire-owner-chef of a steak house.

So, Barnouin (author) set up the tension for us in the structure. Lest ye be interested in people who make only moderate amounts of money, the aforementioned millionaire boyfriend is, well, a millionaire. Tapping into the shades of money without the sex, submission or anything even remotely fun.

The millionaire (who will propose to Clem, hence the title of the book) has a horrible, horrible mother whom he wants to reconcile with. He is, of course (please, start parading out the tropes so they may strut their stuff on the catwalk) blind to his own mother’s idiocy.

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