Book-of-the-Month.

Big Time.

A short critique of Meg Elison’s Big Girl and other works

Yes Girl, 2021.
Original Photo by SnapDragon X.
All rights reserved, yo.

Hooray! Snap actually finished a book!

(smiles contentedly)

And I am very pleased with this one!

In fact, I think I’ve found a new writer to love!

Which, of course, means more books to add to my ever-growing list.

But so be it.

‘Cuz this girl’s got it, yo.

. . .

Big Girl* by Meg Elison (2020)

*Okay! So, I should begin by saying this is a short anthology of some of Elison’s work, published by PM Press. It’s Number 25 in their Outspoken Authors series. In addition to the titular story, there are six other excellent pieces of hers to enjoy.

Oh. And you should definitely check out PM Press.

Yes? Good? On we go!

. . .

In the spirit of this short collection (It’s 111 pages) I’ll keep this review short and sweet.

Meg Elison is friggin’ awesome.

She’s a good writer. Very good.

Her fiction is bizarre, yet eerily not-so-outlandish.

Her work is carefully constructed, with descriptions that made me wish I had written them.

And as the name Big Girl suggests, the selections in this volume artfully explore the absolutely fucked-up, we’ll-do-anything-not-to-be-fat culture in which we live.

As I read this book, I was reminded to live my friggin’ life.

Favorite passage?

“Katya looked as beautiful as ever. She wore her blonde hair up and out of her face in the frank privilege of her own home. She used the same mandated cosmetics as any woman Omar had seen in recent months, but she seemed more skilled with it. A few times, Omar had glimpsed faces through the windows of women’s motorpools, their mouths like sore pink slashes, their eyes buttered in black. Almost as if they used their requirements with menace rather than compliance” (Elison, 2020).

Dude. Read this book.

And meanwhile, I’ll just be ordering all of her other work!

Happy Reading, friends.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and non-gum chewer.

Follow Snippets of SnapDragon for all kinds of craziness.

Book-of-the-Month.

This is Your Song, Elton.

A short critique of Elton John’s autobiography, Me

Cozy Afternoon, 2020. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved, yo.

Hey hey hey!

Look who’s back with Book-of-the-Month, kids!

Except, this selection is not for kids. (Nor are any of the books I review, really.)

Anyway, this one is definitely worth your time. Pick it up. Jump right in.

Enjoy, my dear.

. . .

Me by Elton John (2019)

My beautiful best friend, who lives nearly two-hours away, sent me this hardback in the mail. With it, a hand-written letter saying, “I tore through this book in just a few days and thought of you so many times as I read it. In a time where we’re all stuck inside, good books are even more important and I love being able to share one with you.”

Heart thoroughly warmed, I used her note as my bookmark, and settled in for the ride.

. . .

I’ve always loved Elton. I was a 90s kid who owned The Lion King soundtrack on cassette tape. I played it over and over and over. And, I might add, the songs I enjoyed most were those performed by Elton himself.

Dude. Circle of Life. Chills.

Anyway, while I’ve always been a fan, there is quite a lot I never knew about him.

The man. The myth. The piano-playing legend.

His autobiography tells the tale of his life with such thoughtfulness, humility, and love.

It reads like the confession of a man who has nothing to prove–or maybe–something indefinable to prove only to himself. It reads with a reflective wisdom I think can only come with time.

It’s honest. It’s juicy. It’s healing.

And, maybe it’s surprising I never knew he was a coke addict. (But to be fair, he’s been sober for most of my life.) But he owns his struggles and shortcomings with a graciousness I find refreshing.

Favorite passage?

(Don’t worry, girl. I didn’t dog-ear your book.) (But I um, did spill a little chocolate ice cream on it. Love you!)

How about this one:

But I’ve never had writer’s block, I’ve never sat down with one of Bernie’s lyrics and nothing has come out. I don’t know why. I can’t explain it and I don’t want to explain it. Actually, I love that I can’t explain it. It’s the spontaneity of it that’s beautiful (John).

And with that, I’ll leave you to go enjoy your favorite Elton track, Dear Reader.

You know you have one.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, artist, and unapologetic purchaser of buttermilk ranch.

Follow her Two-Bit Musings and more on Snippets of SnapDragon.

Book-of-the-Month.

Girl, I Wanna Be Your Friend.

A short critique of Ash Ambirge’s The Middle Finger Project

All of the Above, 2020. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

Good morning, Dear Reader!

I hope this day finds you well: perhaps with an iced coffee before you, a furry friend at your ankles, and the comforting tick-tock of the cuckoo clock on the wall.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, it’s time for Book-of-the-Month here at Snippets of SnapDragon!

And you’d better hang on to your top knot– ‘cuz this one’s fucking dope.

. . .

The Middle Finger Project by Ash Ambirge (2020)

I find myself not even knowing where to begin, friend.

Because I. love. this. book.

She nails it.

Nails it!

In a masterful blend of humor and humility, wit and wisdom, Ash reminds us that we can do it.

No caveats. No excuses. Just a bucket of ice water to the face, to let us know that life is passing us by. That it’s about damn time we live the life that makes us truly happy.

Her book is brilliantly organized. It’s a pep-talk, sprinkled with anecdotes both hilarious and heart-wrenching.

And oh, Dear Reader! Her analogies are nothing shy of delicious.

You finish this book feeling like she’s your big sister. She’s your oldest friend who shakes you out of your self-pitying wine-buzz cry and makes you believe in yourself.

Because no matter who we are, or where we’ve been, each of us has something beautiful to offer this world.

My favorite passage?

I knew you would ask.

(starts nervously flipping through the dog-eared pages, wondering why she didn’t just have the nerve to use a highlighter on her own goddamn copy of the book)

Okay, here we go:

What if you left the job you hate, despite not knowing what you’ll do next? What if you tried something new, despite not knowing if it’ll work out? What if you explored your interests, despite feeling stupid? What if you sought help from others, despite being embarrassed? And what if you said NOT TODAY, BITCH to anything that doesn’t feel good, despite it feeling like a radical and dangerous decision to make?

Sometimes the most radical and dangerous decisions are the best ones of all (Ambirge).

Well done, Ash. She’s a vibrant, beautiful work of art.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer and artist who never met a piano she didn’t like.

Follow her Two-Bit Musings and more on Snippets of SnapDragon.

. . .

Want more book reviews?

Snap’s got your back, love.

Tuesday Talks.

New Feature on Snippets of SnapDragon, yo!

Hello, Dear Readers!

There’s a New Feature here on Snippets of SnapDragon!

It’s called “Tuesday Talks”. As the name suggests, each Tuesday I’ll offer a post with a specific question to spark discussion among us blogging friends.

Please note that while passionate, lively discussion is welcomed, disrespectful hate speech is NOT. But I’m sure you’re better than that, and this disclaimer is overkill, right? Okay, good. I thought so.

Anyway, stay tuned!

Love,

SnapDragon X.

. . .

SnapDragon is a writer, painter, and lover of wine and exotic cheeses.

Follow her Two-Bit Musings and more on Snippets of SnapDragon.

Book-of-the-Month.

Curl on Up.

A short critique of Kate Jacobs’ The Friday Night Knitting Club

Get Cozy, 2019. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

Greetings, Fellow Bookworms!

Now that I’m back from my little hiatus, it’s time to resume our Book-of-the-Month feature.

It’s true, since my last BOTM post (August) I’ve read about six books and counting (go me!).

So while I usually just focus on my most recent read for these posts, I had to actually choose which book was worthy of my BOTM designation. (Yikes!)

Okay. As usual, I’m making too much of things. On with the review, Snap.

. . .

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (2007)

I suppose I chose to read this book because:

A) It was a part of a bag sale at my local used book store and

B) Its title comforted me. While I don’t knit, I do tend to spend my Friday nights curled up with the fur babies and/or some other Grandma-like activity. That’s me, yo.

Simply put, I enjoyed this one.

It wasn’t mind-blowing or even “impossible to put down” as the back cover proclaimed.

Some of the dialogue was, well, a bit amateur at times.

But it was entertaining.

I felt connected to the characters by the story’s end.

The analogous ties between knitting and relationships was solid, even poetic.

And to be completely fair, when I finished the last page, I found myself Googling the sequel. (There are two, in fact. I added them both to my ever-growing shelf, so that says something all on its own.)

So should you rush out and find this, ASAP?

Certainly not.

But if you’re looking for a simple, feel-good read, then this one’s for you.

Favorite passage: (scans through dog-eared pages, eyes darting about)

knit and purl

These stitches are the fundamentals of knitting and are the basis of every garment. The knit stitch is a series of flat, vertical loops that produces a knitted fabric face and the purl stitch is its reverse. One side is smooth, the other bumpy. Knit is what you show the world; purl is the soft, nubbly underside you keep close to the skin (Jacobs).

So there we have it!

Happy reading, friends.

And happy knitting, if that’s your thing.

This is Eden.

This is Eden.

A short critique of John Steinbeck’s East of Eden

A Thing of Beauty, 2019. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

Oh my. This is big, Dear Reader.

So big.

I just found my new all-time favorite novel.

(gasp!)

Yep. It’s true.

(What was the former all-time favorite, you ask? Unsurprisingly, it was Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It’s the only book (with the exception of books I’ve taught) that I’ve read twice.)

East of Eden, yo. It slid past Grapes for first place in my heart.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

. . .

East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)

I firmly believe that Steinbeck’s writing is best enjoyed in small, slow sips. Like a fine whisky, his stories are nuanced. There are countless moments of beauty, honesty, and tenderness. So please: do not rush through his works. They are much too lovely to swallow in a single gulp.

As for East of Eden, it’s a novel that’s been on my list since high school. And now that I’ve read it, I can’t imagine my life without it.

In a tiny nutshell (I promised to be succinct!) this novel follows the lives of two American families at turn of the 20th century. The families are loosely based on Steinbeck’s own ancestors, and the story also draws parallels to the biblical tale of Cain and Abel. It’s detailed, personal, and in a word, a masterpiece.

In closing, you need to know there are delicious one-liners are nearly every page. I’d love to produce a collection of tee shirts with all of the quotes from this novel. (Hmm. New project? Stay tuned.)

So my favorite quote? I’m going to have to pick a page, any page:

“[…] And, of course, people are interested only in themselves. If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And I here make a rule–a great and lasting story is about everyone or it will not last. The strange and foreign is not interesting–only the deeply personal and familiar” (Steinbeck).

This is spoken by Lee, who may be my new favorite character in all of literature. (Okay, besides Ebenezer Scrooge. He’ll always be number one.)

So there we have it, friends. Snap’s latest book review, which happens to be her new favorite novel.

I hate when people over-hype things, but I just couldn’t help myself.

This is a piece of art.

I hope you enjoy it as I have, and surely will again.

Two-Bit Musings.

Happy Habit-ing.

A short critique of Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before

New Day, 2019. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before (2015)

Hi friends!

For my nonfictional read this past month I decided to explore the psychology behind habit formation in Gretchen Rubin’s Better Than Before. This book had been perched on my shelf for awhile, and as I found myself on the cusp of starting back to work, it seemed like a perfect time to crack it open.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve read some of Rubin’s other works. The Happiness Project helped me through one of my most difficult years of teaching; Happier at Home was an enjoyable read as well. While her subject matter may appear prosaic, Rubin has a way of organizing and articulating the quirks of human personality that I always appreciate. Her books always leave me with a healthy dose of self-reflection.

This book did not disappoint.

Rubin begins by separating human habit into “The Four Tendencies”, which are assigned to four distinct types of people, in regard to their habit formation:

Upholder: Meets outer expectations; meets inner expectations

Rebel: Resists outer expectations; resists inner expectations

Questioner: Resists outer expectations; meets inner expectations

Obliger: Meets outer expectations; resists inner expectations

(Rubin)

The rest of the book explores these personality types, and the many pitfalls each one encounters.

All too frequently I found myself thinking, “Me too!” when I read about how we justify our bad habits (Don’t I deserve a treat?) and delay the good ones (I already ate a donut today, so I’ll start eating healthy tomorrow).

Anyway, it’s worth a read. It’ll leave you scrutinizing your own habits, and call into question how you spend your time.

How can I improve? How can I achieve my goals?

These are questions worthy of asking.

Once again, Rubin encourages us to keep searching for a healthier, happier life.

And who doesn’t appreciate that?

🙂

Two-Bit Musings.

Nevertheless, I Liked It.

A Short Critique of Alec Baldwin’s memoir, Nevertheless

Little Gems, 2019. Original Photo by SnapDragon X. All rights reserved.

Alec Baldwin’s Nevertheless (2017)

Here we are again! It’s Book-of-the-Month Day here at Snippets of SnapDragon.

Are you excited? Did you wake up early, frantically checking your feed to see if Snap’s review was up and ready for your viewing pleasure?

No?

Well, nevertheless, here it is.

(Sorry. Couldn’t resist.)

. . .

This is another book that found itself in my hands without pomp and circumstance. In fact, it was in the bargain bin for a meager six dollars and change. (It’s a hard-back!) Anyway, I’ve always had a bit of a crush on Baldwin, what with his whiskey voice and weathered face. Plus, whenever I see him I instantly think of Beetlejuice, which transports me back in time to VHS tapes and the magical time of my childhood.

So I bought it.

In a word, it’s good. Not great, but good. Baldwin begins his memoir by warning the reader of pretty much just that. He wrote the book because he was paid to, and he approaches the task with humility and honesty.

While I grew a bit weary of his frequent name-dropping of film execs I’ve never heard of, he does sprinkle in beautiful moments of his love for acting, particularly in the theatre. He recounts each of his major movie roles, and I appreciated the thoughtfulness behind each one. I never doubted his candor for an instant.

Additionally, he spoke of his family with tremendous love. I enjoyed the description of his youth, and his complicated relationship with his parents.

But I think what struck me most was his more than thirty-year commitment to sobriety.

After a terrifying episode of substance abuse, he called it quits and never looked back. February 23, 1985 was his last bout with drugs and alcohol.

Needless to say, I really respect that.

Favorite passage? Hmm… There truly are many little gems throughout.

(Side note: I enjoyed hearing his voice as I read. It reminded me of The Royal Tenenbaums.)

How about this one:

“Campaign finance reform is the linchpin of nearly every problem we face as a nation, just as our oil-based economy is the linchpin of our issues abroad. If the first issue is not addressed, we will continue to see the US electoral system gamed by insiders who put forth enormous amounts of money on behalf of any candidate who will read from their script in order to get the role of a lifetime. Even if that candidate is a foppish casino operator who had heretofore shown no interest in national politics” (Baldwin).

Well done, Alec.

I like you.

The 100 Classics Reading Challenge: The Books.

The 100 Classics Reading Challenge: The Books.

Here they are! The 100 volumes that made the cut.

(If you haven’t already, check out my selection process on my previous post. Check it out here, yo.)

A few notes:

-Almost all of these are novels, but I included some poetry, essays, plays, and short story collections, as well.

-I consider this list to be High School English-Teacher approved. There are a few Young Adult reads included.

-I listed the original publication date, just for fun. (PS: My new pet-peeve is when newer publications leave off the original copyright date. Why? It’s lazy, and in my opinion, irresponsible.)

They are listed in no particular order, love.

Let me know if you’ve read any of these!

SnapDragon’s 100 Classics Reading Challenge List:

1.The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)

2. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (1922)

3. On the Road by Jack Kerouac (1955)

4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)

5. The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper (1826)

6. Tess of the D’urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (1891)

7. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (1947)

8. The Oedipus Cycle by Sophocles (429 BC)

9. The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien (1990)

10. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (1950)

11. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka (1915)

12. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952)

13. The Piano Lesson by August Wilson (1990)

14. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (1894)

15. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (2005)

16. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (1813)

17. A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (1993)

18. Heart of Darkness and The Secret Sharer by Joseph Conrad (1899 & 1910)

19. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (1930)

20. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)

21. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962)

22. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

23. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (1943)

24. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)

25. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)

26. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck (1931)

27. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (1957)

28. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (1831)

29. Beloved by Toni Morrison (1987)

30. The Stranger by Albert Camus (1942)

31. The Color Purple by Alice Walker (1982)

32. Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1865 & 1871)

33. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (1868)

34. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999)

35. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery (1908)

36. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville (1851)

37. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (1911)

38. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

39. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1967)

40. Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children’s Crusade: A Duty Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1969)

41. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky (1866)

42. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2005)

43. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)

44. for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange (1975)

45. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1862)

46. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain (1876)

47. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (1884)

48. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1387)

49. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932)

50. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)

51. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (1847)

52. Beowulf by an unknown author (1000 AD)

53. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (1869)

54. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift (1726)

55. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (1925)

56. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)

57. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Frederick Douglass (1845)

58. Night by Elie Wiesel (1958)

59. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (1997)

60. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1955)

61. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)

62. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (2007)

63. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury (1946)

64. Aesop’s Fables by Aesop (1912)

65. The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon (1965)

66. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (1937)

67. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (1954)

68. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne (1850)

69. The Chosen by Chaim Potok (1967)

70. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque (1928)

71. Don Quixote by Cervantes (1605)

72. The Road by Cormac McCarthy (2006)

73. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George (2015)

74. The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois (1903)

75. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (2013)

76. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2003)

77. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells (1897)

78. Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin (1952)

79. Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom (1997)

80. White Noise by Don DeLillo (1984)

81. Ruby by Cynthia Bond (2014)

82. Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe (1719)

83. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (1998)

84. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1967)

85. The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie (1988)

86. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (1989)

87. The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer (762 & 750 BC)

88. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (1320)

89. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844)

90. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (1962)

91. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (1976)

92. Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’ Dell (1960)

93. The Collected Jack London by Jack London (various)

94. The Complete Stories by Flannery O’ Connor (various)

95. The Signet Classic Book of Mark Twain’s Short Stories by Mark Twain (various)

96. The Penguin Arthur Miller: Collected Plays (various)

97. Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry (various)

98. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (2002)

99. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce (1916)

100. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955)

Tip of the Cap, Amy.

Tip of the Cap, Amy.

A Short Critique of Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

Review 1. Written by SnapDragon X.

A Note to The Reader:

Let me start by saying I plan to keep these book reviews brief and direct. As an avid reader (and one with a master’s in English) you’d think I’d love articles about the latest and greatest reads. But I don’t. I find most of them much too detailed; I’d rather just get the basics, and read the book to decide for myself whether or not it’s a complete waste of time.

It should also be noted that I’m a bit of a critical asshole when it comes to books. And music. And art. (But I swear I’m a nice person!) It’s just that I take the written word very seriously. There is so much out there (so much!) and I’m a firm believer that we need to separate the wheat from the chaff. (I hold myself to this same standard, which is why I’m giving myself a decade to complete my novel. I’d rather write a single masterpiece than a dozen half-baked pieces of shit.)

And so, let us begin!

Amy Schumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (2016)

This is not a book I would typically read. I’m not into stand-up comedy and the only movie of Amy Schumer’s I’ve seen was Trainwreck, of which I wasn’t overly impressed. I also don’t have some obsession with exclusively reading works written by female authors, which I find can be counterproductive to the gender equality initiative I stand for.

But a few Christmases ago I decided it would be fun to ask my friends and family what they were reading, and to download said books to my iPad. As a writer, I aim to stay relevant. And sometimes this means reading works outside my usual, which typically includes: literature, contemporary short stories, and anything by Stephen King.

And so, my best friend had said The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo was currently on her shelf. 

Last month I was struggling with depression, and needed a light-hearted read. Finding Schumer’s memoir on my then-dusty iBooks app, I thought Eh, what the hell. I’ll give it a go.

I could not have been more pleasantly surprised at the depth of Schumer’s tales.

Neatly organized by chapter, Schumer literally had me laughing out loud at her crass yet on-point recounting of life’s intimate moments. I also choked up as she described her relationship with both of her parents. Her tone was earnest, and utterly hilarious at times.

Reading this book was like chatting with an old friend: I found myself comforted, and reminded that we all have stories. We all have memories–many from long ago– that somehow stay with us as we love, grieve, and evolve.

There were many delightful turns-of-phrase, but if I had to pick my favorite, it’s this one:

“Some of us want to look like ourselves. How we were born, a little goofy with some rough angles and some beautiful ones” (Schumer).

I mean… right? Throughout the book Schumer nails just how fucked up our society is, and does it in a refreshing and thoughtful way.

So in closing, I’d highly recommend this book to just about anyone. Curl up on the couch, pour yourself a glass (or three) of wine, and embrace how perfectly imperfect we all are.

Well done, Amy. I think we should be friends.