The Listener by Rachel Basch

March 26, 2015 2015, ARC, reviews 12

The Listener by Rachel BaschThe Listener by Rachel Basch
Published by Pegasus Books on March 15th 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 336
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads

 

While struggling to adapt to life as a freshman in college, Noah is also balancing a role in the campus production of Les Miserables and desperately searching for someone who understands the feelings surrounding his gender identity. In hopes of finding someone to talk to, Noah makes an appointment with his school’s behavioral health center, where he meets with Malcolm. As a widower with two college-age daughters, Malcolm’s ability to completely understand Noah is limited, but the pair develop a unique bond that will impact both their families and the people around them.

Some novels are so quiet they can sneak up and surprise you with their ability to weave a tale. The Listener is one of those books. On the surface, it sounds like a story we’ve all read: an odd pair come together and reveal a secret or two that send ripples through their lives. It’s certainly familiar. Yet, Basch pulls in dozens of elements that make her story unique and layers them together in a way that allows it to be incredibly engaging without ever feeling over the top.

A story rooted in the closed-off room of a therapist is the starting point of a novel focused on opening up. Through Noah and Malcolm, we connect to the circle of lives around them and are reminded how delicate we must treat our most important relationships; fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, and the very best of friends.

Can’t Get Enough of That Trope

March 24, 2015 2015, discussion, lists 22

tropeseverywhere

If you’re anything like me, you can spend hours falling down Wikipedia wormholes thanks to the dangers of those links. Did you know there’s a wiki dedicated to tropes? If you have anything planned for the next 24 hours you may not want to look quite yet, otherwise feel free to lose yourself in TV Tropes (which is actually focused on all kinds of media). Here are just a few of the favorites I discovered:

 

Generational Saga

They’re all about 800 pages and no one else wants to read them, but give me a novel that spans a century and I’m as happy as can be.

True CompanionsFive-Man Band

I can’t resist a buddy novel, particularly if they age together. I’ve been duped so many times, but I will read them all.

Boarding School

Oh, and if you throw those buddies in a school setting, I’m pretty much done for.

Death by Newbery Medal

I can’t call this a favorite, because I found it through the sadness of Where the Red Fern Grows, but…okay fine, the fact that this exist makes it a favorite.

Trauma Conga Line

Take a look at my Review Archive, it’s a Trauma Conga Line in and of itself.

Sliding Scale of Endings

Isn’t this amazing? I’m a fan of the Gainax Ending and pretty much every Bad Ending…because they’re more fun and unexpected, I guess?

 

As for one I hate…

“Where Are They Now?” Epilogue

Thanks for ruining everything. Really. Everything.

 

What are some of your favorite tropes?

 

It’s Monday, March 23rd. What Are You Reading?

March 23, 2015 2015, bloggiesta, book blogging, it's monday, what are you reading? 38

monday

Quite the whirlwind of a weekend! For the past few weeks, April from The Steadfast Reader, Catherine from The Gilmore Guide to Books, Jennifer from The Relentless Reader, and Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf and I have been working on a new group blog called The Socratic Salon. We wanted a place that would allow us to talk about books a little differently, while still maintaining the blogs we love, and I think it’s headed in a great direction. We have an introduction post with information up today if you want to find out more! Thankfully, it’s also Bloggiesta, so that gives me an excuse to focus on the behind the scenes blog work this week.

As for the books? They took a bit of a backseat, but I did get a small start on H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, which I’m loving. I also have plans to pick up The First Bad Man by Miranda July, which is my book club is reading this month.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

Improving the Disqus Experience

March 22, 2015 2015, bloggiesta, book blogging, discussion, Tutorials 31

using disqus

 

Wait! Even if you have no plans to put Disqus on your site, this post may have something for you. I’ve been a long time user and fan of the commenting system, but I’ve heard some concerns over the need to register and the difficulty of finding commenter blogs. Thankfully, there are some quick settings on both the user and commenter side that can very easily alleviate these problems and improve the experience for everyone.

Disqus Users: Allow Guests to Comment

disqus guest comments

In your Admin Panel, go to Settings > General > Community Rules

Make sure “Allow guests to comment” is checked (1). Some visitors have concerns about creating a Disqus account and this makes it possible for them to comment without logging in, though a name and e-mail will still be required (2). Disqus is pretty amazing with spam control, so I wouldn’t worry too much about being flooded with random messages.

 

Commenters: Add a Link to Your Disqus Profile

Disqus Profile

Go to Settings > Edit Profile

Though creating another account can be a pain, once you’ve logged into Disqus you will never have to enter the information in order to comment on a blog that uses the system (hooray for laziness!). The important thing about the account, though, is it acts as a portal to your social media sites…so unless you create a profile with links, people who read your comment won’t know how to stop by and see you. If you’re concerned about people being able to see the comments you’ve left in the past, there’s also an option to “Keep your profile activity private.”

I know many users are having problems with the Blogger commenting system lately and have been considering alternatives. There are definite pros and cons for every system out there, but hopefully these quick fixes will offer a bit of help for anyone who decides to go the Disqus route—I liked it so much that I kept it around even after I switched to WordPress! If you’re looking for help setting up Disqus during Bloggiesta, I’ll be around (@rivercityreadin) and can answer any questions.

If you already use Disqus, Alysia from My Little Pocketbooks has a mini challenge that will help you recover any missing comments.

Making Plans for Bloggiesta

March 20, 2015 2015, bloggiesta, book blogging 25

Bloggiesta-S15

I skipped out on the last Bloggiesta, but I can’t resist the lure of this round’s week long event, which takes place from March 23-29th. This is the perfect time of year to do a bit of Spring cleaning and I’m riding on a bit of a creative spark, which I want to take advantage of. While I don’t have a ton of work to do on the blog itself, there’s always some maintenance that needs to be done and getting ahead is a nice bonus. Here’s what I’m aiming for:

 

  • Backup the blog
  • Clean up media library and delete unused files
  • Double check old posts for Ultimate Book Blogger Plugin formatting
  • Work on load time with suggestions from Google Page Speed Test
  • Write and schedule posts
  • Participate in a Twitter chat or two
  • Check out the mini challenges for some new suggestions
  • Added: Optimized database tables, cleaned up post revisions, etc.

I have a mini challenge focused on tips for using Disqus, as both a blogger and commenter, if you want to pop back in and check that out. Here’s hoping we come back refreshed on the other end!

Delicious Foods by James Hannaham

March 19, 2015 2015, ARC, reviews 21

Delicious Foods by James HannahamDelicious Foods by James Hannaham
Published by Little, Brown on March 17th 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads

 

The first night Eddie’s mother, Darlene, doesn’t return home, he tosses her absence aside as another side-effect to her new drug habit. But after several days, Eddie finds himself wandering his mother’s late night haunts, looking for clues to where she’s gone. He soon discovers she’s been lured to a farm and promised a new start with a budding company, which is far from the truth, as Delicious Foods aims to enslave its workers with low wages, high rent and the haze of drugs.

With bleeding stumps of hands, James Hannaham warns readers on the first page of his new novel that thye’re in for a wild, delirious ride. From there he jumps back and forth in time, from Darlene’s relationship with Eddie’s father to the horrible conditions at Delicious Foods. But we don’t just get the two points of view, as Darlene’s mind is clouded by the presence of crack cocaine. Hannaham gives crack its own voice, by making Scotty a narrator for much of the novel, and gets into the workings of addiction without ever creating a caricature.

“Hello, Darlene, I said, and my smoke entered her lungs for the first time, gentle like a handshake at first, then my lovely fingers of smoke got in her breath and grabbed it right where Nat’s breath had once spent all that time. I’m so glad we met.”

As a reader used to encountering the dark and gritty, I was shocked to find myself cringing through some of the novel’s later scenes. Without a doubt, James Hannaham knows how to elicit a visceral reaction to his words. From start to finish, Delicious Foods is a book that twists preconception and forces readers to pay attention in the best way possible.