J-Dub’s Book Review of Swan Song by Robert McCammon

The comparisons with Robert McCammon’s Swan Song and Stephen King’s The Stand stop with both being apocalyptic fiction.  Well maybe a good versus evil theme too.  And size.  Both are long reads filled with lots of characters.

I won’t go into further comparison between the two.  I will stick with Swan Song and I will keep this short.  I started out loving this book.  Why? Because I could escape into fantasy for a bit.  Written in 1987 present day we had WWIII – The Russians nuked us and from there on survival of the fittest.  Some parts were cringed worthy like the K-Mart games (you’ll have to read it to find out) and some characters were the epitome of evil – Colonel Macklin (King) and Roland the King’s Knight. But there was Swan and her gentle giant protector Josh, later on adding Rusty to the crew.  Eventually meeting up with Sister Creep and Paul … all representing the good.

I was all set to give 5 stars but then I read a few reviews.  Some astute readers called out the fact that team good were pretty people dare I say beautiful and team evil were ugly.  You might think well duh? J-Dub that’s usually true BUT and it’s a BIG BUT we are talking about purely physical beauty.

After the bombs were dropped some of the main characters developed these awful growths on their faces called Job’s mask.  Eventually they went into a feverish sleep and the “mask” broke off revealing their true selves.  They were healed and ready for battle.  If you were beautiful on the inside you became beautiful on the outside too and vice versa for the evil folks.

Ugh, so much for keeping in short.  I thought about that.  Comment after comment from Good Reads and Amazon.  Still overall rated high but those giving 1 or 2 stars had a point. The collective “we” judge based on exterior appearance.  All the damn time.  And this hurts my heart because I know people struggling with issues of self esteem and worse.  So I asked myself why couldn’t the heroine Swan have been just your average American girl? Isn’t it how you treat people that matters most?  Why do we put so much emphasis on looks? Spoken like a true ugly person.  And I know that’s what some people out there think.

But you can’t win for losing.  So I will end rant, stepping off my soap box.  If you like apocalyptic fiction, check out Swan Song.  Overall I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

As always, more to come.


I Am Super Excited


Because the Great American Read Contest is happening as we speak:  May 22, 2018 to October 18, 2018.  There is a checklist of 100 novels.  You can vote daily for your favorite, but only once.  On day two, day three, etc… you can vote for different books.  Eventually the days will run out and a winner will be crowned.  That way if you are like me and have a hard time choosing among all of your children, you do not have to pick just one.

Don’t judge me.

Books are people too!

Uh no they aren’t.  I hear you.  But I ignore you. Some of my best friends are books so why can’t they be like my kiddos.

I am being silly and I digress. Back to it shall we?

I have read 43 of the 100.  My TBR queue just blew up with the remainder.  I want to try to read them all.  Not by the 10/18/18 contest end date mind you but one day.  Of course there are a few that in my humble opinion should not even make the cut.  Check out the list and see for yourself.  http://pbs.bento.storage.s3.amazonaws.com/hostedbento-prod/filer_public/KLRN/downloads/events/TGAR_Book_Checklist.pdf

If the above link doesn’t work, try klrn.org/greatread. Then maneuver around.  The website is set up for ease of use.

In other interesting news, I have selected Swan Song by Robert Mc Cammon as my June book of the month.  You see next month the Skimmers and Sippers are going rogue.  We are all reading something different and will give our critique of the book to the group when we meet.  Then if anyone is interested, they can pick up the novel for themselves.

Yep, that’s me living on the edge.

As always, more to come.


J-Dub’s Review of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

I did not pick this book.  Instead it was the May selection for the Schaefer’s Skimmers and Sippers Book Club.  I resisted a bit because of the subject matter.  I saw something similar on 60 Minutes and was horrified.  Oh and mini-side bar, 60 Minutes is my new FAVORITE show. I had quit watching because of the time it aired but now with the magic of the Hopper by Dish, I watch the recorded shows.  Usually at 2 am on Saturday mornings when I have the worst insomnia ever. But that is another story.

Back to the book.  True story bio on one J.D. Vance.  He writes about his “hillbilly” family origins in Jackson, Kentucky migrating to Middletown, Ohio where he was born. Those Appalachian roots were a major influence on who he became.  He didn’t meet his birth father until later in life and never really had a good relationship with him.  J.D. was raised in an almost communal family between his mom who struggled with addiction (and her many partners – I think she got up to husband #5), his grandparents (main caretakers, especially his Mamaw) and extended maternal relatives.  First of his clan to … you name it.  He was a poor kid who made it through.  He served in the Marines, went to Ohio State University and then ended up earning a JD from Yale law school.  A real rags to riches story.

Unfortunately I am going through some stuff and I found the memoir depressing.  Lots of transference and well now I am just sort of pissed off.  I have come to the conclusion that people are just different.  Some fare better than others.  There is a genetic and socio-economic aspect to all things yet I am so sick and tired of people “blaming” those aspects for the final outcome.

Statistics show … Fuck statistics, one can make anything look a certain way with spin. I am so fucking dizzy.  People are defying statistics and beating the odds daily. And then sadly some are not.  Why? What makes the difference?  If someone can find that answer, bottle it and sell it, we’d all be in fucking nirvana.

Not much of a recommendation I guess.  Though I am 99.9 percent sure others will not come away with the same sentiments I did.  You see I’ve got issues.  Did I mention I am going through some stuff?

3.5 out of 5 stars.

As always, more to come.


J-Dub’s Review of Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen

No spoilers. Fiction masquerading as real life. Decisions we make for the benefit of others. We’ve lost control and at best we’re planning for things that eventually change. Buy the white couch if you want it no matter what anyone else says. In this case, I’m more like Charlie than Nora. Wonder when my midlife crisis will hit?

I’ve read One True Thing made into movie and Black and Blue by the same author. Vastly different stories yet the human element was exactly the same. Creating characters that I could imagine being next door to me. Escapism at its’ finest. A recommended read. 4.2 of 5 stars ✨

As always more to come.

A Two-fer

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware was our April book club book. A fast paced whodunit with a twist. Set primarily on a luxury yacht. In the end, guy gets the girl and two females pull one over on a power abusive male. They hit the monetary jackpot in the process. No spoilers just a recommended read. 4 of 5 stars ✨

Then we have Nine Inches by Tom Perotta. I had bought this and downloaded it to my Kindle many years ago. I forgot about my Kindle edition so I reread it and while some of the stories were vaguely familiar, it was like reading something new rather than reading something old all over again. Tom also wrote Election and Little Children both were turned into movies. Vastly different storylines but same sharp writing. This is the eclectic writer I wanna be when I grow up. He does a little bit of everything. I might have to check out the HBO series the Leftovers created from his novel of the same name. Nine Inches is another recommended read.

As always more to come.

Ah That’s The Stuff

I’ve got all these angel 😇 songs floating around in my head. Thank you Helen and all the wonderfuls at #SLS. Sweet to be serenaded.

I’ve had quite a day thus far.  And it ain’t over til the fat lady pees. Lol! 😂. Not a typo either. I’ve got just shy of 14 hours left. I plan to sleep away 6 or 7 of those hours so you’re on the home stretch.  My jug is almost over flowing but I’ve got my new faux Tupperware ready to go as Plan B backup.

So sue me!  Wait don’t sue me cuz I’m way the hell overextended.  We’re both (B is in this too) way the hell overextended. But yolo!  Am I right?

And we’ll just deal with whatever sH!t hits the fan if and when it does. It may not.  I’m not a soothsayer.  My crystal ball 🔮 is cracked like me. We’ve been through worse and survived.  This is no different.

Who knew taking a shower and shaving ones legs could bring such clarity?  I did.  That’s who. I need to remember that before becoming woolly cave bear again.

Anyhow, it’s getting late. Pfft! No it’s not silly.   It’s not even late-ish but you’ve worn yourself out with all your nonsense. Take a break.  Spend time with the hubster.  Then gear up for the Schaefer Skimmers Book Club’s first anniversary tomorrow!  You may have joined late but this is still your Cheers!

See you later 👋  gator.  Afterwhile crocodile.

As always more to come

J-Dub’s Review Of the Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Beginning with the tragedy of 9/11 and ending with a tragic death, this story is told in short chapters from the viewpoint of the protagonist Lucy Maxwell.  As is my usual modus operandi, I will not give any spoilers.  Simply put, this fictional account reads like real life.  I felt as if I was reading a private journal.  The perpetual questions are asked but remain unanswered which makes moving through the story easy and seamless.  One cannot wait to see what’s next and by asking questions, Lucy seems more human.  Perfectly flawed.  This is a love story full of lessons and choices.  Unlimited possibilities juxtaposed against safety and settling.

For the first time in forever, I have nothing to add to my commonplace book.  I am not sure why.  There is a line or two worth keeping yet maybe I have seen them somewhere else before.  Predictable almost grasps the feeling that this story is more tried and true than original.

Ambiguous enough?  Have I intrigued you?  Recommended read if only for the list of others books at the end. A solid 4 out of 5 stars.

As always, more to come.

More On A Man Called Ove

My heart is full.  I laughed, I cried and I laughed again.  This is a story about life and connections with the people we love.  Family is not always defined by blood. Ove (pronounced oo-va) was a good guy beneath a gruff exterior.  Sonja knew that.  Parvaneh and her family knew that.  Jimmy knew that too.

I hadn’t finished the book when I first wrote this review.  Now I have and I give this story 5 out of 5 stars.  No spoilers but still a MUST READ if there ever was one.  Thanks to our leader at Skimmers and Sippers, you really out did yourself with this month’s selection.  I will be ordering the movie through Amazon Prime shortly.

As always, more to come.

J-Dub’s Take On A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I am reading A Man Called Ove (pronounced oo-va) for book club.  I’ve only one week to finish so I am basically skimming to get through.  But that’s ok because the name of our book club is Schaefer’s Skimmers and Sippers.  It is the public library so we do not sip wine but tea or coffee or even water fill the bill.  Rule breakers that we are to have drinks and snacks in the stacks.

The book is really good.  Despite the dark themes of placing an anchor for the rope in the living room ceiling or the piping that lay on the floor of the garage.  Then there is the loss of his beloved wife.  The only person on the planet who understood him.  Ove is such a sympathetic character.  I may try a more leisurely pace on a second read as the book is loaned to me until April 8th.

Some of my favorite quotes follow:

“He’d never understood the need to go around stewing on why things turned out the way they did.  You are what you are and you do what you do.”

“They never had much, but they always had enough.”

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white.  But she was color.  All the color he had.”

“He never understood why she chose him.  She loved only abstract things like music and books and strange words.  Ove was a man entirely filled with tangible things.”

A solid 4 out of 5 stars.  Recommended reading or watching since the book became a movie.

As always, more to come.



J-Dub’s Review of The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

This is historical fiction to present day contemporary with a gothic fairytale in between alternating chapters.  Often I could not wait to get to the next part.  In places though I cringed.  More than cringed, I was saddened to my core, dumbstruck that while a fictional account, such atrocities did occur.  I rail against the people that did nothing.  Again and again history repeats itself.  Will we ever learn?

No spoilers/specifics here just a recommended must read.  I will share a few of my favorite lines that made their way into my commonplace book:

  1. How you can ricochet from a moment where you are on top of the world to one where you are crawling at rock bottom
  2. But thinking doesn’t change anything does it?
  3. This is just a place to keep all my thoughts.  They get away from me otherwise.
  4. The person may have a scar but it also means they have a story.
  5. A story will tell itself when it is ready.
  6. “I never said I do not remember,” my grandmother corrects. “I said I prefer to forget”
  7. Inside each of us is a monster; inside each of us is a saint.
  8. But at any given moment, we are capable of doing what we least expect.
  9. The only monsters I’ve ever known are men.
  10. After the first two times, I stopped noticing.  It was as if death had become part of the landscape.
  11. The story flowed like blood from my hand; sometimes it seemed that I was simply channeling a film that was already playing, that I was only the projector instead of the creator.  When I wrote I felt untethered, impossibly free.

All 11 above were taken from the Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

I am still on page 311 of 460 and plan to finish reading tonight.  I should have finished last week but I had a pity party for one instead.  Glad that’s in my rear view mirror though I better keep going lest those ugly feelings catch up with me again.

I will likely have more for my commonplace book before I am done.  And the final reward is lunch and book club with a dear sweet co-worker.  I am not sure if I will circle back and add to this post or keep the remainder as treasures for myself.

As always, more to come.