meghan rose allen

Review of A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite

Posted by in netgalley copy

I requested this book because I thought it was another book I may have dreamed up because I can't find anything about it on the internet (it was about buying a house in France with a husband soon-to-be divorced from, having already been divorced once or twice before). This is a New York divorce book, so no France, and no buying a house, and really not what I was thinking it was going to be at all. But that's okay -- sometimes we can surprise ourselves with our late night clicking on Netgalley where we must get ALL. THE. FREE. BOOKS!

Or sometimes we get a meh. Guess which one I got here?

I feel to say anything too critical about A Beautiful, Terrible Thing is somehow like me discounting Waite's experience: she got married to who she thought was the perfect guy. In the end, he cheated on her and had some psychopathic tendencies and the marriage fell apart. The psychopathic tendencies weren't of the mutilating-small-animals-and/or-humans kind, just more of the mundane, every-day-life psychopathic ones (lying, blaming, manipulating, etc.). The whole thing is so mundane and Waite so overwrought such that, even though she is the victim here, she isn't that great a protagonist. But I've never been bound by marriage to someone so deceitful, and, perhaps I don't even have the same deep well of feelings at Waite (I've often thought I'm just a shallow puddle of emotion rather than a deep, swimming hole quarry of them), and maybe if I found myself, like Jen, with a newborn and a cheating husband, I'd melt down just as much and then rescind my assessment of overwrought, but until then, nope: too much emotion for me.

And she has a kid. Her ex-husband does not come off looking great in this memoir. What will her kid think of all this when she is older? Obviously, good on Waite for rebuilding her life,
but I guess along with being unfeeling, I'm also pretty private. Hopefully though, writing and sharing this helped Waite recover, and hopefully, her daughter will understand someday.

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite went on sale July 11, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of The Cat in the Box by John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin

Posted by in netgalley copy

Is it strange that a book about experiments is titled after Schrödinger's Cat? I guess that's a thought experiment, but it was a thought experiment meant to illustrate the ridiculousness of a scientific theory, so in a book that's all about scientific thingies (and yes, that is the scientific term), is that an odd choice for a title? The Gribbins (I assume they are related somehow) even mention that Schrödinger's Cat was supposed to be somewhat in jest. So is it a paradox? Am I spending too much time wondering about the title of this book? Hmm...

So it's a list of experiments, with a little write-up about each one. All the big names are there: Newton, Curie, Einstein. As always, reading these books I get sad by how few women and POC were able to contribute to science because of sexism and racism and intersections of all that. As always, there's some Feynman, who creeps me out, and a lot of astrophysics since people like stars. I like math personally, but math books may be a harder sell. Also, experiments in math are a bit more sitting down with a pencil and proving things on paper, so definitely lacks some of the *glam*.

So it's a coffee table book of experiments. Lots of glossy pictures and I kept getting frustrated because I couldn't always understand exactly the science behind some of the thingies (see, I used it twice so it is totally a valid scientific word), but then there was a glossy picture and I moved on. I don't have to understand the nitty gritty of everything, right? Instead I'll stare at the Feynman diagrams and feel sort of slimy inside.

The Cat in the Box by John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin went on sale September 1, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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finished typing

Posted by in longer stories

As per my previous post, I finished the last little bit of typing. I'd feel accomplished if I'd stopped handwriting this story at an ending point, but I just arbitrarily stopped and decided now was time to type up what I had, so I have some fraction of a story typed up in which I have no ending and no clue how much longer it's going to be, and that just seems like a little bit of a waste of time this Friday when I could have been watching Netflix and eating Nutella.

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November 2017

Posted by in this month I ...

I read:

Thoughts:

The Marshall Plan by Benn Steil: Review to come on publication date.

Wordwings by Sydelle Pearl : Reviewed earlier this month.

The Parcel by Anosh Irani: Reviewed earlier this month.

Taproot by Keezy Young: Reviewed earlier this month.

I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb: Reviewed earlier this month.

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais: Reviewed earlier this month.

The Cat In the Box by John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin: Review to come.

A Beautiful, Terrible Thing by Jen Waite: Review to come.

The Gulf by Tucky Fussell: Review to come.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman: Review to come.

Favourite book:

which probably isn't surprising considering my review.



Most promising book on my wishlist:



I wrote:

My big thing this month was getting the 35 000 words I had down in a notebook (not a Nanorwritjvalmf430 or whatever, just words I'd been writing since last June) onto my computer. So I can type approximately 100 wpm, so 350 minutes, so let's round and say six hours, so why did it take me over a week to get it done? And, technically, I still have about 1000 words to type.

In any case, this is what I learned: nothing. Absolutely nothing. Every part of the creative process is like the time I broke my foot in that I mention it constantly and it's always painful.

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onward songs stuck in my head

Posted by in what song is stuck in my head

Earlier this week is was The Rapping Cat, which I cannot give you a youtube link for since it's a song one of Tesfa's friends made up for her, but I'll put the lyrics below so you can bask in its awesomeness:

I'm a cat, not a fox
I poop in a box
When I want fresh fish
I head to the docks

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, dab x2

What's the situation?
The situation is that the rapping cat is in the nation.

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, dab x2

End

Now that I've shared that with you what all the happening nine year olds in my small Maritime song are singing, the song currently in my head is:

You can take the Meghan out of the United Church of Canada, but you can't take the old Protestant hymns out of her earworm repository.

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Review of I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb

Posted by in netgalley copy

Okay -- it says right there in the description of the book meghan: ghosts. There are talking ghosts in this book. You hate random additions of ghosts, or aliens, or multiple personalities, or bunny coke-orgies, and yet you requested I'll Take You There from Netgalley and this is why you cannot have nice things.

Setting aside the ghosts for a second (ghosts! really?), we have a narrative about a guy being told/shown about women. Apparently this makes it,
according to some other blurbs and reviews, a feminist novel. Can we all just stop and appreciate for a moment that a guy learning about what some women went through (anorexia, unplanned pregnancy, pregnancy complications, same-sex relationships) is somehow considered a feminist novel? Has patriarchy set the bar so low that merely having a man realize that women can have complex lives and stories is somehow groundbreaking? Why even have Felix, our protagonist, anyway? Why not cut out the ghosts and just tell the story of the women? That's the interesting part of the book, not Felix's ramblings about this-and-that, telling (and who's he talking to anyway) us that no one's going to remember Bieber in fifty years. Felix is likeable, in a sort of tolerable, rambling-great-uncle way. He seems like a nice enough guy, but why make the book about him learning about some women in his life. If I was feeling mean-spirited, I would say that the whole narrative structure is set up to reinforce that without being viewed through a masculine lens, women's lives are meaningless. But I'm not that mean-spirited. I honestly think that Lamb's framing device is ingrained, not-mean-spirited, patriarchal structures at work.

Now setting aside both ghosts and gender politics, it's a Wally Lamb book. So it's easy to read and somewhat endearing, but it's also mild pablum, and probably the most forgettable of any of Lamb's books.

I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb went on sale November 24, 2016.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of Taproot by Keezy Young

Posted by in netgalley copy

(in which my hetero-normativeness is reinforced)

Okay -- so I totally thought the ghost was a girl until it was explicitly stated the ghost was a guy. Then I went back and re-read up to that point and realized, nope, nothing said hey, I'm a girl, so good on Taproot for making me stop and realize how ingrained my hetero-normativity is.

So that's the good. The bad: Taproot is a good idea too lightly applied. A gardener and a ghost fall in love, there's a evil spirit/menacing spirit forest, then a brief story about another ghostly presence. Each of these should be a full comic/novel in their own right, not smushed up and run through as quickly as possible. Stories shouldn't be a race to the finish and Taproot goes by so fast that everything ends up a muddle and the ideas and the artwork are not appreciated.

Maybe Taproot is the first of a series and the pace will even out later?

Maybe Taproot is more for shorter-attention span people than for me?

Maybe Taproot just needs a re-release under a tough-love editor who says Slow the heck down!

I'm always angry when good ideas are wasted. So I'm angry at all that Taproot could have been. I wanted a meal and got a pack of airplane peanuts instead.

Taproot by Keezy Young went on sale September 26, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais

Posted by in netgalley copy

Oh my goodness -- this book is so beautiful and dark and scary and wonderful and I just want to print out every page on a high quality coloured printer and hang them around my house. It's a gender-swapped/creature-swapped version of Little Red Riding Hood that I just want to have written myself. I devoured the book like a wolf devouring a little girl, and, normally, I'm a bit meh about picture books. But not about this one. I wanted to wrap myself up in it like a warm blanket.

The Little Red Wolf by Amélie Fléchais went on sale October 1, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of The Parcel by Anosh Irani

Posted by in netgalley copy

There are certain topics that, if one is writing a novel of, you expect to be devastating. I'd say that a novel about breaking-in an underage, trafficked prostitute should probably be devastating. The Parcel isn't particularly devastating, and could use a good edit to remove some of the repeated phrases or explanations. It's a good book, and there's enough that kept me engaged, but, ultimately, it's just a book I read. Good, but not great.

The Parcel by Anosh Irani went on sale September 6, 2016.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of Wordwings by Sydelle Pearl

Posted by in netgalley copy

In which I read another novel about the Holocaust, set in a Polish Ghetto, from the perspective of a child, but without the magical talking dolls. I think I appreciate books about the Holocaust more that don't feature talking dolls, as much as anyone can, or should, appreciate a novel about how truly sh*tty humans can be to each other.

So, Wordwings is about a girl who tells stories in the Warsaw ghetto, writing them between and around the lines of a worn book of fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen. That's why I requested it; there's something poetic about where she had to write. It has a sort of fairy tale logic in its necessity. And then there's some talk of The Six Swans, which I always think of a The Three Ravens from the Jim Henson Storyteller TV show. So, little pieces I liked dappled throughout.

I approached Wordwings as a children's book, maybe because the last novel I read about the Holocaust was geared towards kids. But then Netgalley tells me it's General Adult. But then Rivke, our protagonist, doesn't really write like a child, although does one write like a child in such situations? I am blessed that I never had to find out. But as an adult book, Wordwings only kind of works, mainly since the secondary characters are more sketches than people. If we put it back as a middle-grade novel, the characterization work better. But then we're again with the voice, which I can't reconcile with a child's one. But I think a middle-grade reader would see past that. And I think that even if it says General adult, I might put it under mature middle-grade (and weirdo grown-ups like me who like middle-grade books).

Wordwings by Sydelle Pearl went on sale October 1, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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