Off the Charts – furiously happy (Jenny Lawson)

Ahoy there me mateys!  For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes.  Occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were.  So today I bring ye:

furiously happy (Jenny Lawson)

Mental illness is not a laughing matter.  Well, unless ye read this book that is.  Ye see mateys, this book has a psychotic raccoon on the cover.  I picked it up because I a) heard it was funny and b) thought it was a young adult book that had something to do with silly raccoons.  No joke.

Well turns out it is a memoir by a woman named Jenny who has a lot of mental illnesses, an actual taxidermied raccoon named Rory who is the featured on the cover of this novel, and many crazy stories to share.

As the author states in her disclaimers at the beginning of the book:

This is a funny book about living with mental illness.  It sounds like a terrible combination, but personally, I’m mentally ill and some of the most hysterical people I know are as well.  So if you don’t like the book then maybe you’re just not crazy enough to enjoy it.  Either way, you win

I must be crazy because I found a lot of the stories to be laugh out loud funny.  I had to read whole sections out loud to the first mate because they were just too good not to share.  And while the situations the author finds herself in are sometimes absurd and seemingly unreal, I still found them extremely human at the same time and relatable.

Feeling unproductive as a grownup?  Check.  Being unable to sleep for long stretches at a time? Check.  Not wanting to be around people – ever?  Check.  Embracing the quirkiness of being who ye are?  Check.

Add in things that wouldn’t occur to me or haven’t happened to me like:

  • dressing up as a koala in Australia while attempting to hold koalas
  • participating in a sleep study that sounds more like a horror movie
  • leaving voicemail messages for yerself at 2:00 in the morning
  • dealing with killer cannibal swans
  • pondering how to survive the zombie apocalypse, the airport, and the zombie apocalypse at the airport (okay I may have done this one)

Seriously I am not funny enough to do the humor in this book justice.  But the humor is not the whole point.  At the root of the book, there is a woman embracing life in spite of all of the difficulties life has thrown at her.  Whether it is her anxiety or depression  or just the day to day struggle to exist, underneath is a love for life and a determination to win through in the end.  To be furiously happy and savor the moments she can.  That is the true joy in the book.  As she says:

Be bizarre. Be weird. Be proud of the uniquely beautiful way that you are broken.

Be furiously happy.

To see another review of this book by a member of me crew, Emma-Louise “Elou” Carroll, visit:

Review: Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In her new book, FURIOUSLY HAPPY, Jenny explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.

According to Jenny: “Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.”

“Most of my favorite people are dangerously fucked-up but you’d never guess because we’ve learned to bare it so honestly that it becomes the new normal. Like John Hughes wrote in The Breakfast Club, ‘We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it.’ Except go back and cross out the word ‘hiding.'”

. . . FURIOUSLY HAPPY is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it’s about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways-and who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

To visit the author’s website go to:

Jenny Lawson – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

furiously happy – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts – the sound of a wild snail eating (Elisabeth Tova Bailey)

Ahoy there me mateys!  For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes.  Occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were.  So today I bring ye:

the sound of a wild snail eating (Elisabeth Tova Bailey)

This was a beautiful and fascinating non-fiction read.  Ms. Bailing was 34 years old and vacationing in Europe when she caught a virus that would change her life’s trajectory.  What seemed like a simple flu led to her being bedridden and unable to move.  The impulse of a visiting friend to bring her some violets and a woodland snail to her bedroom’s windowsill, leads the author on a journey of contemplation and companionship of an unlikely creature.  Part memoir and part natural history lesson, I highly recommend this novel.

Snails are fascinating.  For example did ye know that snails have teeth?  Or that the scientific name for a snail, gastropod, means “stomach-foot?”  Or that snails “tormented & haunted” Charles Darwin? Or that if it is quiet enough ye CAN hear a wild snail eat?

From poems and quotes from scientific literature, to exquisite reflections from the author, this novel was poetic look into the life of snails in general and one snail in particular.  It is a fast and stunning read.  I will never again look at snails in the same way.  Pick this one up.  It’s worth the read.

To listen to a wild snail eating click below (from the author’s website):

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

In a work that beautifully demonstrates the rewards of closely observing nature, Elisabeth Bailey shares an inspiring and intimate story of her uncommon encounter with a Neohelix albolabris —a common woodland snail.

While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater under standing of her own confined place in the world.

Intrigued by the snail’s molluscan anatomy, cryptic defenses, clear decision making, hydraulic locomotion, and mysterious courtship activities, Bailey becomes an astute and amused observer, providing a candid and engaging look into the curious life of this underappreciated small animal.

Told with wit and grace, The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world illuminates our own human existence and provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Elisabeth Tova Bailey – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the sound of a wild snail eating – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts – run (Blake Crouch)

Ahoy there me mateys!  Me introduction to this author was the novel dark matter, which I highly enjoyed.  So when a local library had a copy of this standalone thriller, I snagged it.

While this novel was fast and fun it also felt rather average.  The plot of the novel is that normal American citizens are going crazy and homicidal.  One family, the Colcloughs, are determined to stay together and survive.  So they run.  I mean, I know that is the title, but basically they run the entire book.

The novel started off with an interesting prologue and then a lovely set-up.  Then of course the author messed with me expectations in a good way with some loverly plot twists.  And kept it up for about half the book.  Then the pace slowed down and became less interesting.  How many improbable situations can this family survive?  Apparently all of them.

The main characters Jack and Dee were both kinda stupid in the beginning in terms of their takes on life and each other.  Both did improve in the book which was nice.  The kids, Cole and Naomi, were portrayed rather well except that they were mostly used as narrative device to kept the parents focused.  I mean the kids slept through so much action it seemed absurd.  I wanted the whole family to contribute to the quest for survival.  I know Cole was seven but there have to be useful seven year olds.  I like to think that I was helpful at that end and not only a hindrance.

And the description for why the Americans went crazy was kinda lame.  However there was a twist at the end that I rather liked.  Overall it was a good reading experience and I am willing to read another Crouch book.  I just think this one was okay.

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

Picture this: A landscape of American genocide…

5 days ago
A rash of bizarre murders swept the country…
Senseless. Brutal. Seemingly unconnected.
A cop walked into a nursing home and unloaded his weapons on elderly and staff alike.
A mass of school shootings.
Prison riots of unprecedented brutality.
Mind-boggling acts of violence in every state.

4 days ago
The murders increased ten-fold…

3 days ago
The President addressed the nation and begged for calm and peace…

2 days ago
The killers began to mobilize…

Yesterday
All the power went out…

Tonight
They’re reading the names of those to be killed on the Emergency Broadcast System. You are listening over the battery-powered radio on your kitchen table, and they’ve just read yours.

Your name is Jack Colclough. You have a wife, a daughter, and a young son. You live in Albuquerque, New Mexico. People are coming to your house to kill you and your family. You don’t know why, but you don’t have time to think about that any more.

You only have time to….

R U N

To visit the author’s website go to:

Blake Crouch – Author

To buy the book go to:

run – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts and On the Horizon – a darkness absolute (Kelley Armstrong)

Ahoy there me mateys!  If ye haven’t read the first book in this series, city of the lost, then ye might want to skip this post and go read the first book.  Worth the read.  If ye keep reading this log then ye have been forewarned and continue at yer own peril . . .

a darkness absolute (Kelley Armstrong)

Title: a darkness absolute

Author: Kelley Armstrong

Publisher: Macmillian/Minotaur Books – Established in 1999, Minotaur is a premier publisher in the bestselling category of crime fiction.

Publication Date: TODAY!!! (Hardcover/E-book)

ISBN:     978-1250092175

Source:  I received this thriller/crime ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  So here are me honest musings . . .

I love Kelley Armstrong!  I discovered her through her young adult book, sea of shadows, and she became me most read author of 2016.  I couldn’t help but gobble up her work which led to me seeking out her adult crime thriller, city of the lost.  So when the publisher contacted me directly and asked if I wanted to read the sequel to that thriller I said yes please and did a happy dance of joy.

It certainly was another highly engaging and intense book.  In this novel, Casey has lived in Rockton for over four months after successfully figuring out the who-dunnit in the first book.  This book starts out with a bang as Casey and Will, the deputy, are looking for a runaway resident of Rockton in a howling Yukon snowstorm.  They find something way crazier than who they initially were looking for.

The suspense set up in that storm continued throughout most of the book.  Unlike the first novel, I did figure out the bad guy at about the middle of the book, which was a bummer because Casey was always a couple of steps behind at that point.  But overall it did not decrease me enjoyment.

I continued to find Casey to be a highly likeable and awesome protagonist.  Her spunk and grit makes me happy.  This book also had some surprising revelations about other Rockton residents.  That I was not expecting and it was cool to have some of me own conclusions flipped upside down.

Whether it was me noodles being hard to eat because I was trying to read and kept missing me mouth or not wanting to bunk down for some shut-eye because I had to know how the story resolved, this book was hard to put down.  I did have some minor quibbles with the ending that I would love to discuss with me crew at some point and the mysteries of this novel seemed less organic in this book versus the first, but overall a very enjoyable reading process.

I need to know where there be another Casey story?  Only time will tell . . . but I will definitely be wanting more from Kelley Armstrong.

So lastly . . .

Thank you Macmillian/Minotaur Books!

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

When experienced homicide detective Casey Duncan first moved to the secret town of Rockton, she expected a safe haven for people like her, people running from their past misdeeds and past lives. She knew living in Rockton meant living off-the-grid completely: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. What she didn’t expect is that Rockton comes with its own set of secrets and dangers.

Now, in A Darkness Absolute, Casey and her fellow Rockton sheriff’s deputy Will chase a cabin-fevered resident into the woods, where they are stranded in a blizzard. Taking shelter in a cave, they discover a former resident who’s been held captive for over a year. When the bodies of two other women turn up, Casey and her colleagues must find out if it’s an outsider behind the killings or if the answer is more complicated than that…before another victim goes missing.

To visit the author’s website and blog go to:

Kelley Armstrong – Author

To buy the novel visit:

a darkness absolute – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Previous Log Entries for this Author

sea of shadows- book one (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

empires of the night -book two (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

forest of ruin – book three (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Fantasy)

the masked truth (Captain’s Log – Young Adult Thriller)

city of the lost (Off the Charts – Thriller/Crime Novel)

Off the Charts – keeping the castle (Patrice Kindl)

Ahoy there me mateys!  For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes.  Occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were.  So today I bring ye:

keeping the castle: a tale of romance, riches, and real estate (Patrice Kindl)

As usual the beautiful cover drew me in:

The blurb on the cover is “Will she marry for love, money – or both?”  Well that piqued me interest. When I read the blurb, I realized it sounded like a take on Jane Austen’s novels with some silly twists.  Turns out it is a pride and prejudice retelling!  I was in the mood for something light and as Jane Austen just turned 241 years old, it seemed appropriate.

I had such a good time with this one.  It takes place in a small English town called Lesser Hoo.  The main character is a 17 year old named Althea.  She lives in a castle-by-the-sea that is literally falling apart.  With no dowry and only her wits (and thankfully looks) to go on, she must marry rich for the sake of her brother and mother’s future prospects.

This is not a deep book but a fun somewhat ironic one at parts.  If ye are looking for a novel that mimics Austen’s style of writing and societal commentary then this might not float yer boat.  But if ye want a quick tale with an Austen flavor then give it a try.

Apparently there is a second book in the series called a school for brides: a story of maidens, mystery, and matrimony.  Sign me up!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

Seventeen-year-old Althea is the sole support of her entire family, and she must marry well. But there are few wealthy suitors–or suitors of any kind–in their small Yorkshire town of Lesser Hoo. Then, the young and attractive (and very rich) Lord Boring arrives, and Althea sets her plans in motion. There’s only one problem; his friend and business manager Mr. Fredericks keeps getting in the way. And, as it turns out, Fredericks has his own set of plans . . .

To visit the author’s website go to:

Patrice Kindl – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

keeping the castle – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

Off the Charts – the vegetarian (Han Kang)

Ahoy there me mateys!  For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes.  Occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were.  So today I bring ye:

the vegetarian (Han Kang)

Title: the vegetarian

Author: Han Kang

Translator: Deborah Smith

Publisher: Hogarth – The Crown Publishing Group

Publication Date: February 2, 2016 (paperback)

ISBN: 978-1-101-90611-8

Source: Blogging for Books

I be a curious sort and so when I heard of Blogging for Books, I had to check it out.  When looking at the books available for review, I was intrigued by the novel that won the Man Booker International Prize.  Then I read the first line:

Before my wife turned vegetarian, I’d always thought of her as completely unremarkable in every way.

Sealed the deal an’ I requested it.  Request granted!  That first line proved to be the start of a beautifully engaging novel.

This is the story of Yeong-hye and her descent into madness.  Part 1, “The Vegetarian,” is from the perspective of her husband.  Part 2, “The Mongolian Mark,” is from her brother-in-law.  Her sister narrates Part 3, “Flaming Trees.”

This book has been described as both “Kafkaesque” and “terrifying.”  It was not terrifying to me; just sad and completely engrossing.  I could see the comparison to Kafka, in the descent into madness, of course.  However the blurb would have ye think that the book is filled with gory images, torture, and perversion.  I found the family trying to convince Yeong-hye to eat meat to be ineffectual, if persistent.

In fact, in Yeong-hye, madness seems almost to be calm and even controlled in how it progressed.  The real madness was in how the family imploded because of the circumstances.  Yeong-hye lives in her own world and her struggle is internal.  Real yes.  But from this reader’s perspective, there is almost admiration for Yeong-hye’s choice.  And perhaps that is what could be terrifying to some – that madness can almost make sense if ye overlook the initial spark of insanity.

I recommend this novel for its beautiful writing and storytelling and only hope that you are as immersed into the tale as I was.

Side note: a special thanks to Teresa Quevedo who packaged the book that was sent to me 🙂

vegetarian

So lastly . . .

Thank you Hogarth – The Crown Publishing Group!

The publisher’s website has this to say about the novel:

Winner of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize . . .

A beautiful, unsettling novel about rebellion and taboo, violence and eroticism, and the twisting metamorphosis of a soul
 
Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams—invasive images of blood and brutality—torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.

Celebrated by critics around the world, The Vegetarian is a darkly allegorical, Kafka-esque tale of power, obsession, and one woman’s struggle to break free from the violence both without and within her.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Han Kang – Author

To buy the novel please visit:

the vegetarian – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Off the Charts – city of the lost (Kelley Armstrong)

Ahoy there me mateys!  For those of ye who are new to me log, a word: though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes.  Occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were.  So today I bring ye:

city of the lost (Kelley Armstrong)

Though this novel is off the charts, the author has been spotted herein before.  This is an adult thriller/mystery/crime novel that struck me fancy because it sounded cool and because I highly enjoyed both her fantasy and her young adult novels.

While this was not me favorite of her books thus far, I certainly liked it.  I always appreciate this author’s writing style.  Her books are fast paced and quick to read.  This one took me two days.  As usual, I loved her characters, setting, and getting absorbed in me reading.

The setting – an off-the-grid town in the Yukon where people come to escape their old lives.  The problem- murder, of course!  The main character- Casey a detective with an usual past who is tenacious, kick-ass, and fun and has something to hide.  She ends up in the town of Rockton to help find out who-dunnit and maybe find love in the process.

This book was full of plot twists – only some of which I guessed.  I didn’t really care about the murders.  The how and whys of the investigation seemed kind of lax.  However the author certainly tries her best to make every single person a suspect which was amusing.  The romance was good in some ways because Casey is a strong willed woman but a little too much junk thrown in to add romance suspense.  But overall I just went with the flow and tried not to think too hard about the whys and hows.  It worked because I loved Casey, kept reading, and have no regrets about how I spent my reading time.

Apparently book two  is currently scheduled for February 7, 2017.  Looking forward to it.

The author’s website has this to say about the novel:

Don’t look for Rockton on any map of the Yukon. This tiny, off-the-grid town doesn’t exist. Neither do the people in it. They’re all on the run from their pasts, needing a place where they can disappear for a few years.

Casey Butler has come to Rockton mostly to help her friend escape a brutal ex-husband…but Casey may also be fleeing a murder she didn’t quite get away with. And as she discovers, the town is in rather desperate need of a police detective, particularly one with homicide experience.

If you would like to read more about the author visit her site and blog at:

Kelley Armstrong – Author

If you would like to buy this novel to go:

city of the lost – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List