REVIEW: And The Hippos Were Boiled…

The lives of the Beat Poets are something I’ve been in love with for ages. I just can’t resist the romanticized tragedies of their lives and the film Kill Your Darlings, certainly made me love them even more and tossed me headfirst into reading everything I could find about Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, and – of course – Lucien Carr. When I learned that Kerouac and Burroughs wrote a fictional retelling of when Carr killed David Kammerer, I was all over that. I was even more excited when the fancy second-hand book store in my neighbourhood had a first edition copy of that same book.

And The Hippos Were Boiled In Their Tanks is the story of Will Dennison and Mike Ryko, the two narrators written by Burroughs and Kerouac respectively, as they go about their bohemian lives in New York and deal with their friends’ troubles. When one of their friends, Phillip Tourian, decides he is desperate to get away from the affections of Ramsay Allen, he and Ryko make a plan to ship out with the war relief and run away to Paris. For those who know what happened in the true story, I don’t need to remind you that this plan doesn’t exactly work out.

What I wanted from this was Kill Your Darlings. I was hoping for more about the murder, more scrambling during the aftermath. I was really hoping for a fun insiders look at what happened even if it was only a functionalization. Sadly what I got was a bunch of drunken youths for 80% of the book and then maybe twenty pages at the end involved the murder.

The writing style was interesting to see because this was written many years before Burroughs and Kerouac truly became famous but published only in more recent years. Knowing how the two authors came to write, it was kind of cool to see how they grew and developed as writers. Honestly though, the best part about this book was the afterword by James W. Grauerholz, who broke down more of the history behind the events of Kammerer’s death. I’m sad to say I was disappointed in it, but I think that might result in being too connected to the original story.

Ginsberg and Carr honestly mean so much to me, so – again – I think that had something to do it with. Either way, I’m happy to have read it and learn even just a little bit more from the afterword.

REVIEW: Bookish Boyfriends

I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


I requested this book when I saw it on NetGalley because I thought it sounded like a fluffy piece of mindless reading in which a high school girl dates her way through the boys of classic literature. Instead, what I got was a brilliant and feminist piece of fiction that, while still fluffy and sweet, kept me seriously entertained.

The Story

For the first time in many years, Merri is attending a co-ed school. Her friends are always teasing her about having her nose constantly stuck in a book and how trashy all of her “book boyfriends” are. As she gets settled in the school, she is met with condescension from upperclassmen students from the get go but slowly makes her way into a social circle she feels welcome in.

And then she means Monroe, a popular boy who actually wants to date her! Merri is over the moon, but Monroe is not at all who she thought I was.

 

The Characters

Merri is basically most of the book lover community in high school. She’s so sweet and is constantly getting herself completely lost in her books, but it also gives her a naivety about the world as she thinks ever romance should be like it is in fiction.

Eliza is Merri’s best friend, a super genius with famous super genius parents, she acts as the rational side of Merri’s life. She is severe and a little cold, but it’s because she is someone who won’t tolerate anyone’s nonsense. Eliza is what makes things feminist as she reminds Merri about what relationships are and reminds her that her body and her life belong to no one else but her.

I would really love to discuss Monroe but I don’t want to spoil anything in this fantastic novel, so I’m not going to. Just know that the way he is written is absolutely perfect.

The Issues [ spoilers ]

Once again this is a book I have no issues with. It surprisingly dealt with a number of issues I wish I had known when I started dating seriously. Monroe is the perfect example of a guy who seems super sweet and romantic but is honestly an egomaniac with control issues. Merri obviously falls head-over-heels for him and ignores the doubts she has – as well as doubts her friends have – about the kind of person Monroe is. With the help of Eliza, she begins to re-realize that her choices matter too and her boundaries should be respected just as she respects Monroe’s boundaries when it comes to not discussing his family. He’s someone who has no regard for the girls he is interested in – note that I’m fairly certain Monroe is in 12th grade while Merri is only in 10th – and his lack of respecting boundaries is incredibly uncomfortable which is why he is such a well written villain.

Conclusion ★★★★★

This is a book that I can see as being “under-rated” while also hoping it does very well. It’s cute, funny, and quick to read, but also has the potential to help young girls (or boys if they read this genre of story) how to spot a potentially dangerous or toxic relationship. It’s a great hidden-retelling and I can’t wait for Tiffany to release the sequel in the next year or so. I highly recommend this book.

P.S.

When I received this ARC in February the title was simply Bookish Boyfriends and had a completely different cover! I just want to add that now that the book is Bookish Boyfriends Book 1: A Date With Darcy. I personally preferred the original title, but either way, this is still a very cute read and I still look forward to the sequel.


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Author: Tiffany Schmidt
Published:  May 1st 2018
Pages: 272
Publisher: Amulet Paperbacks
ISBN: 9781419728600

Synopsis: The first of two books in an intended paperback original series about a girl whose classic literary crushes manifest in real life. Merrilee Campbell, 16, thinks boys are better in books, chivalry is dead, and there’d be nothing more romantic than having just one guy woo her like the heroes in classic stories. She’s about to get the chance to test these daydreams when she, her best friend, Eliza, and her younger sister, Rory, transfer into Reginald R. Hero High, where all their fantasies come true—often with surprising consequences.