Thursday, February 24, 2011

Book Review: Textual Healing

Title: Textual Healing
Author: Eric Smith
Publisher: Self-published via AuthorHouse
Publication Date: November 2010
Pages: 280

Note: Free review copy received from the author.

The first thing I thought when I read the book description was, "This is going to be hilarious!" And, thankfully, it was. I had entered a giveaway for the book on Goodreads, and the author reached out to me and offered me a review copy. He was nice, and he had a rabbit. Of course I said yes. (For the record, I am a sucker for rabbits - my own two have learned this and do their best to be as adorable as possible so they could one day get away with murder - or at least flooding the kitchen after chewing through the fridge water hose... but that is another story.)

Textual Healing has a plot straight out of a screwball romantic comedy, only I don't think even Hollywood could have come up with some of the supporting characters here, which includes a haiku-spouting ninja flower shop owner, a lesbian romance writer who runs a writers support group, and a rich and famous movie-making best friend. Honestly, Eric Smith had me at "haiku-speaking flower-shop-owning ninja."

The book begins with Andrew Connor, a once-famous author who is suffering from one-hit-wonderdom, not having a very good day. His long-time girlfriend just walked out on him because he hasn't written anything for three years. And instead of being allowed to mope, his employee calls to remind him he had to come open up his money pit of a used bookstore. Not to mention his best-selling book is collecting dust in the clearance section (way way WAY discounted). But then, enters a girl (there's always a girl, isn't there?), Hannah, who doesn't run away screaming from the weirdness or dead-endness (yes, I'm being very eloquent tonight) that is his life.

Oh, and there's an apartment-destroying sugar glider, purchased solely as a ploy to impress said girl.

Textual Healing is laugh-out-loud funny, and a fast read to boot. BUT, (disclaimer: I am a pedant) the book really needed a good edit to fix some grammar and word choice issues, tighten up the language, and some tough love cutting of pop-culture and hipster references.

That said, go out and find a copy of the book and read it. It really is worth a read. I hope Eric writes another one.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Quick Update

Expect a slew of book reviews from me in the next few weeks. I've received a number of review copies of books that I will be reading and posting reviews of. If you're here for the crochet, I apologize - but only slightly, as the two main foci of this blog are books and yarn. As I read faster than I crochet, books will win out for sheer number of posts.

However, I have been diligently working on new projects. There is a sock design in the works that I have to jigger with some, and I have some musings about yarn in general that will all find blog space in the future.

Wishing you all good words and yarn.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Book Review: Do Tampons Take Your Virginity?

Title: Do Tampons Take Your Virginity? A Catholic Girl's Memoir
Author: Marie Simas
Publisher: Self-published via CreateSpace
Publication Date: September 2010
Pages: 161

Note: Free review copy received from the author via Goodreads Giveaways program.

The quality of self-published books varies across the board from truly horrendous to truly spectacular. Simas' book falls somewhere in the middle but definitely leans towards the spectacular end of the spectrum.

Ignore the title - I know, you want to react to it. Just ignore it. As horrible as it is, it did its job as it made me give the book a second look. However, it is incredibly misleading. This is the memoir of a girl, who just happens to be Catholic, growing up in a household with a controlling and abusive father. Very little is mentioned about religion; instead, Simas focuses on the abuse she was forced to endure and witness while growing up, and how her experiences shaped and affected her adulthood. Much of the oppressiveness of her household which she probably ascribes to religion is more accurately cultural norms and expectations.

Simas' parents were immigrants from Portugal. Her father was a teacher in the school district. Her mother was a homemaker who suffered from brain cancer. Simas candidly talks about how her father would beat her if she got in trouble at school or got bad marks, would come home to rape her mother, and ruled the household through intimidation and tight control of power. The short, episodic nature of the narrative mirrors Simas' own memories of her childhood and life. While she focuses on negative experiences, she does so unflinchingly and defiantly with a touch of tongue-in-cheek humor. Even her own bad behavior is honestly portrayed, particular the period in her life where she tries and asserts her own power over the guys she dates.

I gathered that writing this book was a cathartic experience for Simas, and that the process helped her move past the abuse. I imagine so, anyway, as the last few pages were much more hopeful and positive than the rest of the book. I truly admire Simas. I don't know if I could have survived in her family situation and emerged even half-way functioning.

I loved my mother, but I couldn't forgive her weakness.