Book Review: Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller

If Mary Miller’s last novel The Last Days of California was a love letter to adolescence, her latest work is a series of love letters to arrested development–letters never sent, pushed to the back of the desk drawer. In Always Happy Hour, Miller glorifies life’s unevents: the life that happens between life happenings. The stories […]

via It’s Always Happy Hour at the New & Noteworthy Book Club — BookPeople’s Blog

LWR: Flaccid Drug-Crazed Lady Killers

That time again: some short blurbs about what I’ve just finished reading, as well as a week-themed rating: if Monday is the day we most despise, and Saturday is the day we most look forward to, then this scale represents my rating system:

Monday = “I threw the book across the room (from the free throw line, into the trashcan).”
Tuesday = “I threw the book across the room (then picked it up and reluctantly finished it because I need to know what to complain about most).”
Wednesday = “I (sort of) tossed the book (half-way) across the room (into a bucket of lukewarm water).”
Thursday = “I threw the book across the room (so that I could crawl back to it).”
Friday = “I threw the book across the room (because I saw someone who needed it in their face at that very moment)”
Saturday = “The book threw itself across the room (because I don’t deserve its explosive brilliance).”

I have a lot athletic-like emotions about books, okay?

9781328663795_8e391Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich by Norman Ohler

Translated by Shaun Whiteside

This is either a clunkily written book or a clunkily translated book. Or both. The organization of the book is confusing, constantly going back and forth between the frontlines and Hitler’s headquarters with little transitional material. The cast of characters for the German war effort is massive. I saw no effort to translate those characters for the English language American publication, so it was confusing for an American reader. The subject material is fascinating, but outrageous. In places where I expected to see citations (in some of the conclusions that required support), there were none. In other places where citations were not needed, they abounded.

I am also philosophically opposed to stigmatizing addiction by associating it with fascist murderers. And with dismissing the Nazi atrocities by juxtaposing them with habitual drug use.

Publication date: March 2017
Publishing house: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating: Tuesday – keep your salt closeby while reading.

9780425213902Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters by Peter Vronsky

Vronsky’s thesis to counter the public perception that women can’t be aggressive killers. An interesting premise, but his lack of compassion does give me pause. Do I think women can be just as aggressive as men? Absolutely, but Vronsky doesn’t exactly address the “how” and the “why” in his title. He is more interested in categorizing the killers than exploring the individual psychology of his title.

Publication date: 2007
Publishing house: Berkley
Rating: Wednesday – good true crime stories, but not analytical at all.

9781631492181_e6682Always Happy Hour: Stories by Mary Miller

If Mary Miller’s last novel was a love letter to adolescence, her latest work is a series of love letters to arrested development. Miller glorifies life’s unevents: the life that happens between life happenings. The stories are connected through first person female narrators who inhabit roughly the same age and economic bracket. Their voices are distinct, but not distinct from one another’s. Miller develops a new archetype: the single female worrier, the insecure young woman who rejects the wisdom of maturity. The stories in Always Happy Hour compose one large emotional landscape, which might be more relatable than event-based narratives.

Publication Date: January 2017
Publishing house: Liveright
Rating: Friday – join the Sisterhood of the Perpetual Happy Hour


Happy reading!
~jan

April Favorites

T.S. Eliot famously said, “April was a bitch of a month.” (That’s not what he said.) I overextended myself, picking up extra hours and responsibilities on top of my full-time schedule in February and March, and my migraine and nerve pain rejoined and knocked me on my ass in April (which is why this post is coming a few days late). But there were still a few lilacs out there. Continue reading

Top Shelf in May: LAB GIRL by Hope Jahren

 

BookPeople

This review comes from BookPeople Inventory Manager Jan Day

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Shaking off the dregs of winter, we’ve finally shed our coats and exposed our naked limbs to the sun, shining more on our upturned faces. Sunshine is never more welcome than in springtime. (We haven’t been crushed by those three-digit heat waves that will inevitably arrive within a few weeks.) We share this with plants. Plants and humans both open up during the spring.

Lab Girl, a memoir of green life by three-time Fulbright scholar recipient Hope Jahren, begins in the cold winter of Minnesota where Jahren grew up playing in the lab of her earth scientist father. The cold was not limited to the elements, however; Jahren describes the lack of emotion shown within Scandinavian families which eventually led her to building an unusual familial-professional relationship with Bill, a disaffected loner who became her full-time research partner and (sometimes literal)…

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Deep in the Infinite Image: The New & Noteworthy Book Club Discusses Bats of the Republic

My thoughts on the New & Noteworthy November pick BATS OF THE REPUBLIC by Zachary Thomas Dodson.

BookPeople

Deep in the Infinite Image:
The New & Noteworthy Book Club Discusses Zachary Thomas Dodson’s Bats of the Republic

Bats! Texas! Overlapping genres! Parallel timelines! Archival records! Full disclosure: I am an archivist who is a former graphic designer–who also has a weak spot for misunderstood animals. If there is any book that is written with me as a reader in mind, it is Zachary Thomas Dodson’s Bats of the Republic.

It’s hard for me to sell this book here in text without just handing you a copy of this gorgeous tome. The care taken into crafting each page in this book (including the dust jacket and endpages) is stunning. Everything is printed in browns and greens–not one word in black and white! I have read through the entire book, and I still pick it up and flip the pages, knowing that I’m not going to read a single…

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Wicked Wit: The New & Noteworthy Book Club Discusses Margaret Atwood’s The Stone Mattress

October’s book club pick. Demi and I are getting really good at our selections.

BookPeople

Margaret Atwood writes, “Calling a piece of short fiction a ‘tale’ removes it at least slightly from the realm of mundane works and days, as it evokes the world of the folk tale, the wonder tale, and the long-ago teller of tales.” Tales, as we are familiar with them, also evoke the idea of youth, innocence, and darkness–rites of passage into adulthood. Atwood turns this on its head by writing about adults who are facing endings rather than beginnings.

This collection begins with three linked stories about a love triangle among bohemian artists in the 1960s, told from the present day. Each member of the triangle has gone on to pass the decades separately. In “Alphinland,” Constance (C.W.) Starr, a widowed author of an enormously famous fantasy series, navigates the mundane task of preparing her home for a snow storm, all the while listening to the disembodied voice of her…

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