So it has been brought to my attention that I have been crapping all over the books recommended to me by my friends. I must admit I have been hanging out with some real losers lately (I mean the books!) and maybe I have been a bit harsh. Or … real friends don’t let friends read 400 pages of garbage. However, I am happy to report to you now that I busted out from under this literary rain cloud as soon as I opened “Before Ever After” by Samantha Sotto, and the sun shone from its enchanted pages. (Insert reverberating opera note here. And maybe some small, low-flying bluebirds like the ones that put on Snow White’s cape.)
Genius mention of Snow White by yours truly because she is the perfect lead in for talking about how this book is the closest you can get to an adult fairy tale. It has a Prince Charming and the girl who falls in love with him that doesn’t think she is worthy of him. There’s even castles, sea monsters, love potions, and mystery. The title even suggests it ends happily like all fairy tales should. But to make a long blog post short, it doesn’t. That wouldn’t be very much fun now would it?
This historically romantic fantasy starts at an end and ends with a start. Our heroine is immediately made a widow in a very drastic turn of events and, while still recovering from her loss, meets her dead husband’s doppelganger who has turned up at her doorstep promising the adventure of a lifetime. Over the course of their trip to find out if her husband is in fact still alive, she recounts the story of how they met on a European tour and the tales he taught her along their travels. Tales? Or clues? Dun dun dun …
You have got to read this book in your breakfast nook with a mimosa and baked eggs and cheese. (If you solve the elusive secret ingredient to this recipe, please share!)
If you’re like me and don’t know anything about the Jewish people; their religion, ancestry, upbringing; this is not the novel to teach you about it. The author recollects her young childhood living on a kibbutz in Israel through her young childhood eyes, and while that is a clever way to re-tell a potentially unsettling story, it also leaves you wondering which parts are fact and which are fiction.
It’s very easy in this story for Dori to slip on the rose colored glasses of youth and paint a picture that is more rainbows than storm clouds in “The Last Rain”, proving that children are either extremely resilient, or extremely stupid. But the adult reader in me was itching to yell “CAN YOU PUT YOUR MOMMY OR DADDY ON THE PHONE PLEASE” to better understand what was really going on, which was that her kibbutz was shibbutz.
At times it was cute to live in the Jewish community with Dori and her playmates misinterpreting Hebrew phrases but take those times and times them by a hundred, and that’s how many times I was confused. I was in a constant state of wondering whether I should go find an adult or program the Kids Help Phone number into their speed dial. The 8000 footnotes didn’t help this patience-lacking reader either. Sure, they quote entire interview conversations for pages on end to illustrate a point, but I have to Google what a “kibbutz” is?! Footnote fail.
My food and drink of choice for anyone curling up in their crib with this book is a Shirley Temple and matzah balls.
I read the book “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman on recommendation from a friend, who I quote now: “It’s like Harry Potter but with sex, booze, and drugs.” You had me at like. So I jumped aboard “The Magicians” train like it was the Hogwarts Express. Like Harry Potter, the book was about young adults realizing they aren’t quite like their peers and are invited to a special school that us normal folk can’t find by stepping off an imaginary train platform or between a NY suburban park’s hedges.
But even when combined with like-magicked kids, they are still their old entitled, skinny-jean wearing, melodramatic selves. It’s like Grossman set out to create a hero for emo kids. And this is where the commonalities end. Where Harry Potter has consistent characters throughout and generally follows a well laid out plot toward a common, well communicated goal, Magicians does not. I think our man Lev was sipping a bit too much of the ol’ pumpkin juice. Characters came and went in this book like Jesus on Easter. It’s like Grossman wanted to write down the craziest thing he could think of that day, and when he ran out of cohesive thoughts, abruptly solved the dilemma and ended the chapter.
By the end of the book, our “hero”, Quentin, has finally realized what his quest is and it’s a lovely segue for book two. I, however, think it unfair that you write such a large book with the sole purpose of setting the scene for your next one. That’s called a Foreword. Great marketing ploy though. Cause now that I’ve come this far through your warped and twisted mind, I am going to crawl through the creepy attic space that it is until the end.
I guess one doesn’t have much time for food and drink when they are busy being blasé, but “The Magicians” made me think of absinthe and the candy from Halloween that your parents wouldn’t let you eat because there’s razor blades in it.
I came up with the idea of this blog during a very slow period at work. Something to keep me and the masses (yes, I am referring to all 4 of my followers) entertained when bored. But then both my professional and personal life had the nerve to explode into a constant state of on-the-go-ness. Sorry if I’ve let the 4 of you down. I also have not been hitting my book a week target and I 100% blame this on the Metro Transit strike. Eff you Metro Transit. Don’t you know that’s where I do my best reading?! The most calming part of my day is when you take the wheel and veer in and out of rush hour traffic ignoring yellow lights, pedestrians, and generally every moving thing smaller than the size of, oh, let’s say … a bus.
In between my work days, workouts, 11 o’clock pm soccer games, practices, volunteer committees, bribing someone to drive me to and from work (say it with me now – Eff you Metro Transit), exercising my dog so he doesn’t surpass a lean, mean 125lbs, cooking, cleaning, SBC meetings (shhh), mandatory “don’t forget my face” hangouts with friends, and keeping the romance alive in my relationship, I have actually managed to polish off a few novels. Superwoman, eat your heart out.
But I have decided to make my blog posts a little easier on myself. I’m just going to say a little bit about the book, and then tell you what food and drink I think best fits with this read or what it reminds me of; pairing my two most favoritest things that I know nothing about. They say “write what you know”. What about “write whatever the heck you want and claim naivete bliss when someone claims you’re wrong”? I will eventually make these concoctions myself and not only post my thoughts on the reads, but my recipe and thoughts on the eats. I will call myself the BookCook. Maybe. OK, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Read on, you 4 fantastic, fearless, followers.