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V171 Locked account

Joined 4 months, 3 weeks ago

I'm gay and I read books. New Jersey.

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V171's books

2023 Reading Goal

65% complete! V171 has read 26 of 40 books.

reviewed The Man Who by Thom Cree

The Man Who (EBook, Matador) 4 stars

The Man Who is an epic collection of tales of morality, love, violence and depravity …

Review of The Man Who by Thom Cree

4 stars

The Man Who by Thom Cree is a diverse short story collection covering stories from traditional westerns to Russian espionage. As with most short story collections, this is hard to give a rating, with some stories being hits and others misses. This collection in particular is difficult to rate because of the vast diversity in the kinds of stories included, but I'm happy to say that I enjoyed the collection for the most part. Based on the table of contents, the book is broken into three different themes of stories: Historical Western, Contemporary, and Cold War Espionage. I found that the author's talented writing style was on full display in the four historical western stories. They were all uniquely rich, complex, and deeply engaging if not terribly brutal at times. I appreciated how the prose complemented what we would call "flowery" language of the time (think Ulysses Everett from O …

Eileen 4 stars

Eileen is a 2015 novel by Ottessa Moshfegh, published by Penguin Press. It is Moshfegh's …

Goodreads Review of Eileen, by Otessa Moshfegh

4 stars

Classic Moshfegh, Eileen is an atmospheric tale of addiction, obsession, and depressing delusion. We follow Eileen, a young 24 year old living in New England, living and caring for her retired, alcoholic ex-cop father who has nothing but disdain for her. The story is recounted by an older Eileen, telling the reader what led her to "escape from X-ville," her home town she disliked so much, she wouldn't deign to share its actual name. Eileen works in a juvenile detention center, managing the visits between the boys and their mothers. Her life is wholly unremarkable and her time is spent in toxic introspection, hyper focusing on her lack of self worth and desirability, obsessive vanity but without self awareness, enabling her father's alcoholism, and accepting all of his verbal abuse day after day. We get hints of her pathological obsessiveness when we learn that she regularly stalks one of the …

Whale (Europa Editions) No rating

An adventure-satire of epic proportions, which sheds new light on the changes Korea experienced in …

Goodreads Review of Whale, by Cheon Myeong-kwan and Chi-Young Kim

No rating

Whale is a historically and atmospherically rich story centering around a shrewd woman named Geumbok in the 1950s. It is a full account of her birth, full life, death, and the full life of her daughter as well. With elements of mysticism, this was a surreal read as we followed Geumbok and all of the women that preceded and followed her in life, manifesting as a tragic, but oftentimes funny, family epic.

In many ways, this felt like a Korean "One Hundred Years of Solitude" with the satire dialed up quite a bit. I really enjoyed that aspect, as Solitude is one of my favorite classics. All of the characters were uniquely charming in their own way, even if they were unlikable. Even the characters that were likable had moments of unlikability, painting a realistic picture of who they were as people. Many had redemption, others fell into corruption. The …

reviewed The Old Haunts by Allan Radcliffe

The Old Haunts (EBook, Fairlight Books) 2 stars

Recently bereaved Jamie is staying at a rural steading in the heart of Scotland with …

Goodreads Review of The Old Haunts by Allan Radcliffe

2 stars

Many thanks to the publisher for sending me an advanced reader copy of this book for review.

This book is really a series of short stories following Jamie, a young man on vacation with his newish boyfriend Alex. Jamie recently lost both of his parents in rather quick succession, and is struggling with the immense grief weighing him down. We spend time both with Jamie, Alex, and Kit (their AirBnB host), and in the past in the various memories Jamie has with his parents. In these memories, we get to learn about the complex, sometimes troubled yet kind people Jamie's parents were, and we grow to understand the deep feeling of loss Jamie has.

This story was sweet, it really was. But I feel like it was more of an attempt at endearment that didn't quite land. We got to spend a lot of intimate time with our small cast …

Clear (EBook, Scribner) No rating

John, an impoverished Scottish minister, has accepted a job evicting the lone remaining occupant of …

Goodreads Review of Clear by Carys Davies

No rating

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me an advanced reader copy of Clear.

John is a Scottish Presbyterian minister who has fallen on financial instability as a result of the schism in the church resulting in his need to start a new congregation. While in this transitive state, he reaches out to his brother-in-law to see if there is any work that could be done, and is offered the opportunity to enforce an eviction on behalf of a wealthy land owner who needs to clear his land, a tiny island between Scotland and Norway. Its sole tenant is a man named Iver, the last of his family who has maintained the land his entire life. Upon reaching the island, circumstance drives the men together to form a deep bond, but the language barrier prevents John from being forthright about why he is there. As John learns more about the …

reviewed Slewfoot by Brom

Slewfoot (Hardcover, 2021, Tor Nightfire) 4 stars

A spirited young Englishwoman, Abitha, arrives at a Puritan colony betrothed to a stranger – …

Goodreads Review of Slewfoot by Brom

4 stars

"Abitha could see that these people believed, truly believed, that they were doing God’s work here this day. And there was something about these people that horrified Abitha even worse than those whose faces were lined with cruelty. As at least cruelty was a thing that could be pointed out, confronted. But this belief, this absolute conviction that this evil they were doing was good, was God’s work—how, she wondered, how could such a dark conviction ever be overcome?"

Abitha is not having a good time. She was sent to the colony of Massachusetts to marry a man she never met by her father in London after her mother's death. Her mother was a "cunning" woman, or a woman known to make herbal remedies and charms, a gift that Abitha tries to keep alive amongst the pious Puritans. Thankfully, she comes to care for her husband, but the same cannot …

Goodreads Review of The Metamorphisis by Franz Kafka

4 stars

I'm not even going to attempt to say anything that hasn't already been said about this book. I enjoyed it. I liked the themes of the book, though I did find the contradictions a bit confusing, like the maid being dismissed except then she wasn't and it was the cook who was instead. I also found it strange that some characters acted in ways that were completely believable, like all of the members of Gregor's family, but the tenants seemed to act in a more surreal fashion. Anyway, was a quick read and a good book as far as classics go.

The Optician of Lampedusa (Hardcover, 2016, ALLEN LANE, imusti) 3 stars

The only optician on the island of Lampedusa in the Mediterranean is an ordinary man …

A shockingly ignorant story

1 star

A short book calls for a short summary. The Optician of Lampedusa follows the first hand account of that very man, The Optician of Lampedusa, as he and seven other Italians happen upon a capsized migrant ship with hundreds of migrants drowning in the water. They rescue all they could on their very small boat, but only a fraction of the migrants could be saved, with the vast majority of them drowning. The rest of the book focuses on The Optician, his wife, and his six friends as they have a Very Hard Time with reconciling the massive tragedy of over 200 migrants that they were unable to save. It touches on tensions with European and Italian policies and the callous attitudes towards migrants from those who do not have to face them directly.

This book was written by Emma-Jane Kirby, a BBC reporter, and is a novelized version of …

Partition (EBook) 4 stars

Welcome to the new YOUtopia.

The planet is dying, a mega-corporation controls everything, but at …

Goodreads Review of Partition: Critical Era by Kevin Kane

4 stars

Partition by Kevin Kane is an ambitious exploration of the questions of what it means to be human and the struggle between what is good and what is right.

Our two primary characters are Eric, a washed up, has-been influencer turned party and club drug partaker, and... Eric... Well, Eric's "Night," a part of Eric's partitioned brain that takes control of his body from 8pm to 8am and works as a police investigator. Nights are designed to do whatever their "Days" want, which includes working, working out, or even crime. Nights MUST comply with whatever their Days request of them, after all. They're just Nights. The aren't real people. This is the way this cyberpunk society functions ever since the massive mega corporation Callosum invented partitioning as a way to free people from the tedium of working.

But this excessive freedom leads to some destructive vices. Eric partakes in a …

reviewed Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People (Paperback, 2020, Vintage Canada) 3 stars

Two friends struggle against themselves and each other to move past friendship.

Goodreads Review of Normal People by Sally Rooney

4 stars

"He can’t help Marianne, no matter what he does. There’s something frightening about her, some huge emptiness in the pit of her being. It’s like waiting for a lift to arrive and when the doors open nothing is there, just the terrible dark emptiness of the elevator shaft, on and on forever. She’s missing some primal instinct, self-defense or self-preservation, which makes other human beings comprehensible. You lean in expecting resistance, and everything just falls away in front of you."

I'd obviously heard a lot of buzz about this book over the years, and among my friends, mostly mixed things. Which made me more intrigued to pick it up, as I'd heard it was a pretty intense character study of two people and how their relationship manifests from childhood into young adulthood, constantly orbit each other in irregular (and sometimes toxic) ways. I ended up really loving this. The depth …

Orbital (EBook, Grove Atlantic) 4 stars

A singular new novel from Betty Trask Prize–winner Samantha Harvey, Orbital is an eloquent meditation …

Goodreads Review of Orbital by Samantha Harvey

4 stars

Thanks so much to the publisher for providing an advanced reader copy for me to review.

Firstly, this book contains the exact recipe for a book that I would love. To Be Taught If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers, Providence by Max Barry, The Freeze Frame Revolution and Blindsight by Peter Watts... if it involves a few people on a spaceship together with no space and no choice but to become deeply invested in each other's lives, I'm very likely going to love it.

Orbital by Samantha Harvey was no exception. We follow one "day" cycle of 6 astronauts from different backgrounds orbiting the earth in the present day, 16 orbits total. However briefly in this quick ~200 page book, we get to spend an intimate amount of time with these astronauts: their thoughts, their duties, and their relationships, almost as if we are the seventh astronaut sharing the claustrophobic space …