Book Review: The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice by Nathan Leslie

The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice by Nathan Leslie

Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Number of pages: 204
First published: 2012 (October 30st)
I got this book: from Atticus Books via Netgalley, ebook
Genre: coming of age, fantasy

This is my third book by Atticus Publishers. Without Netgalley I would not have found them. Their books, at least the ones I’ve read, are short, quirky and fun: about a man who becomes a hermit in a decorative garden (The Bee-Loud Glade), or about a man who discovers he has Eskimo blood and decides to go whale hunting (The Snow Whale) and then this book, The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, about an orphan who is sent from crazy aunt to crazy aunt and finds a home nowhere.

The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice: What it is about

From the publisher’s website: “When Tommy’s parents abandon him as a baby, his grandmother Gaga takes him to her reclusive house at the top of Pike’s Peak. Gaga’s parenting methods are extreme, but Tommy soon learns her eccentricities are nothing compared to the rest of his family. As he’s passed between his outlandish aunts, Tommy’s journey takes him to the country homestead of Aunt Tess (who hides surprising objects in her voluminous hair), the four city houses of Aunt Penny (who prefers to communicate by ESP), and the cave-like desert home of Aunt Chelsea the coyote hunter. As his cross-country romp reveals how bizarrely different families can be, Tommy begins to wonder if the conventional home he’s dreamed of might not be for him after all.

The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice captures the unmoored feelings of young adulthood and the complexities of American identity. It’s a dazzling novel about the ineffability of childhood and the nature of family and relationships in the increasingly rootless American experience.

The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice: What I thought

The cover may make you think this is a children’s book, but it isn’t: it’s an adult book about a child. It certainly was a tall tale! At first, nothing seemed amiss but when Tommy’s aunt grabs large objects from out of her unruly hair, it becomes clear that the story has some rather tall tale elements. It’s all funny as well as heart-breaking: orphan Tommy isn’t accepted with any of his family members and is moved from one to the other.

Tommy takes it all in his stride and tries to adapt to living with each of his aunts as best as possible. This must be one of the most deranged families ever! I loved how Tommy accepted every new situation and made the best of it. And how sad when he was made to move on to the next aunt!

The story is funny and never boring. It’s told in the matter-of-fact way a child looks at the world. While the story is quirky, the ending is very original. Actually, which ending? The author offers five possible (and very different ways) to end the story. All discuss what happened after he left his final aunt and how he is doing now, at forty or fifty years’ of age. The reader chooses!

I loved reading this funny short book. It’s a story that isn’t easily forgotten.

Book Review: Fondly by Colin Winnette

Fondly by Colin Winnette
The publisher of this book is known (by me) for its quirky stories, always weird, and always captivating. So I read The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice, about a boy with a very strange family, The Snow Whale, about a man who goes whale hunting and The Bee-Loud Glade, about a hermit. Fondly is presented as two novellas in one book, but I would say it contains a lot of short stories, followed by a novella.

Fondly: What it is about

The publisher says: “In two artfully crafted novellas, Colin Winnette offers a sly and sinister portrayal of lineage and loss, and the roles we all play in writing our own family history. Written in a seamless, entrancing style, Gainesville follows the twisted branches of a restless family tree in a small Texas town. As tragedy strikes each generation in increasingly skewed fashion, what remains is the relentless passage of time toward an eerily familiar pattern of violence.

In One Story, The Two Sisters is woven from an array of beautifully haunting short stories. It details the lives of two sisters, both cast as wildly imaginative entities, each more bizarre than the next. Winnette joyfully plays with life forms as he presents the sisters as (1) an olive at the bottom of a dirty martini; (2) Shel Silverstein; (3) transoceanic swimmers, and so on. The result is an entertaining, skilful meditation on art, love, family, the creative impulse, and what can and cannot be communicated in a single story, or a single life.”

Fondly: What I thought

As I’m not a short story lover, especially not the very short kind, I found the first part of the book, In One Story, The Two Sisters, a little bit challenging to read. Some of the stories are really very short and stop where maybe I had wanted more. On the other hand, the stories were very well written, they read almost like fairy tales, and the things that happen to the two sisters are so bizarre, it’s really amazing that an author can think them up.

I’m sure a short story lover who can enjoys some weirdness will love these stories, too. The sisters where quite similar over the different stories, but definitely not the same sisters in all the stories, if only because in one story they are two halves of an olive! Generally, they are quite different in what they want to achieve, but also similar because of their family bond and the fact that in many of the stories, it’s the two sisters against (or as opposed to) the rest of the world.

I liked Gainsville even better. This is the story of several generations of a family, who are struggling with low wages and violence. The people that are followed through the (four or five) generations either kill someone or are killed themselves and there is no happy ending for any of them. The ending, in fact, was rather ambiguous to me. I wasn’t sure how it fitted in the story exactly, and felt a bit of a let down.

I should have written a family tree for this family, as I moved from one family member to a next generation, to a step brother’s daughter, etc. I cannot repeat the story at all, there are just a few situations that I do remember, but in all, it was a very entertaining story.

For people who love quirky, well-written stories.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (good)

Number of pages: 246

First published: 2013

I got this: from Atticus Books for review

Genre: contemporary fiction, short stories

November Overview

I read 16 books this last month. Not bad, although I should admit that some were quite short. I had a good month.

For the first time ever (since I have two blogs), I read more books for my Dutch blog than for my English blog. That’s good because I want to make my Dutch blog a bit bigger, it’s always been on second place – it still is – but I’ve had some really good response from readers and publishers. Also, the number of visitors has increased quite a lot the last few months (some days, it’s as many as Leeswammes’ Blog, which is amazing for a blog that can only be understood by a much smaller subset of the world’s population than Leeswammes’ Blog).

Anyway, Leeswammes’ Blog is not going to be forgotten. At all. I’m not trying to post every day now, which I used to do, but I still post 4-5 times a week on this blog. Which is more than some people manage who have only one blog. So, nothing to worry about! 🙂

Books that stood out:

I really enjoyed Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. She’s one of my favorite authors and didn’t disappoint. Also not disappointing was Heft by Liz Moore, a book I was expecting to love, and I did!


This is what I read

Flight Behavior by Barbara KingsolverHeft by Liz MooreWithout Mercy by Renate DorresteinSwimming Home by Deborah LevyAnnabel by Kathleen WinterWhat We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan EnglanderThe Red House by Mark Haddon

Click on the blue links to go to the review

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver. Contemporary fiction. 5 stars

Heft by Liz Moore. Contemporary fiction. 5 stars

Without Mercy by Renate Dorrestein. Contemporary fiction. 4.5 stars

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy. Contemporary fiction. 4 stars

Annabel by Kathleen Winter. Fiction. 4 stars

What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander. Short stories. 3.5 stars

The Red House by Mark Haddon. Contemporary fiction. 3 stars


Dutch blog:

Before I go to Sleep by S. J. WatsonThe Boy who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-CookeEerst een huis (First a House) by Cathelijn SchilderNacht over Westwoud by Wanda ReiselThe Rainbow Troops by Andrea Hirata
The Sealed Letter by Emma DonoghueLies of the Heart by Michelle BoyalianHouvast [Holding on] by Linda JansmaNacht in Parijs (Night in Paris) by Michael Berg

Before I Go to Sleep by S. L. Watson. Thriller. 5 stars

De jongen die demonen zag [The Boy Who Could See Demons] by Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Contemporary fiction. 5 stars

Eerst een huis [First a House]by Cathelijn Schilder. Contemporary fiction. 4.5 stars

Nacht over Westwoud [Night over Westwoud] by Wanda Reisel. Contemporary fiction. 4.5 stars

De regenboogbende [The Rainbow Troops] by Andrea Hirata. Fiction. 4 stars

De verzegelde brief [The Sealed Letter] by Emma Donoghue. Historical fiction. 4 stars

Raak mij aan [Lies of the Heart] by Michelle Boyajian. Contemporary fiction. 4 stars

Houvast [Grip] by Linda Jansma. Thriller. 4 stars

Nacht in Parijs by Michael Berg. Thriller. 4 stars


Reviews of books I read before November

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace. Contemporary fiction. 4.5 stars

The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice by Nathan Leslie. Contemporary fiction. 4.5 stars

Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer. Contemporary fiction. 4 stars

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos. Contemporary fiction. 3.5 stars

Other events

I took part in the Thankfully Reading Event and will take part in the Dickens in December event. I successfully finished the R.I.P. VII event.

I also discussed Why I Give High Ratings to Books, a post that proved very popular. Everyone has an opinion on the matter. 🙂

Almost 80 people joined the Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange that I’m organising with Courtney of Stiletto Storytime (entries now closed).


What was YOUR favorite book in November?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

itsmonday“It’s Monday! What are you reading?” is a weekly event hosted by Sheila at Bookjourney to share with others what we’ve read the past week and planning to read next.


The week

Last week I started NaNoWriMo! I’m writing a novel in one month (or so I think). The idea is to write 50,000 words in November. I managed that last year but it wasn’t a very good story.  This year I prepared the plot(s) in advance so I know more or less what I’m writing. I’m a little behind with the word count but hopefully it will pick up again this week. Wish me luck!

Sunday, I had a fun evening tweeting away about Before I Go To Sleep (by S. J. Watson) with the Dutch Twitter book club. With about 40 other participants we discussed the book for two hours. The author himself had provided some discussion questions. A fun (if hectic) way to discuss a book.


Books I finished in the last week: 5

Charlotte Street by Danny WallaceThe Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian KeyesSwimming Home by Deborah LevyBefore I go to Sleep by S. J. WatsonThe Red House by Mark Haddon

Click on the blue links to go to the reviews

Charlotte Street by Danny Wallace. A man meets a woman in the street and is left holding her disposable camera. He develops the film in order to try and find her back. Contemporary fiction. 4.5 stars

The Mystery of Mercy Close [Review on my Dutch blog] by Marian Keyes. A female private detective, suffering from depression, is looking for a missing rock singer. Chick-lit, mystery. 4 stars

Swimming Home by Deborah Levy. A family’s quiet holiday is interrupted when a strange young woman comes to stay with them. Contemporary literary fiction. 4 stars.

Before I Go to Sleep by S. L. Watson. A woman wakes up every morning not remembering who she is and who the man next to her in bed is. Thriller. 5 stars

The Red House by Mark Haddon. Almost didn’t finish this one. A family on holiday, all with their own issues. Contemporary fiction. 3 stars


Books I’m reading and planning to read

The Rainbow Troops by Andrea HirataThe Boy who Could See Demons by Carolyn Jess-CookeHouvast [Holding on] by Linda Jansma



The Treatment by Mo HayderThe Tall Tale of Tommy Twice by Nathan Leslie

Click on the blue links to see the review 

The Treatment by Mo Hayder. A good thriller about a man kidnapping a whole family. A police investigator gets confronted with issues from his past relating to the disappearance of his own brother. A very good read. 5 stars

The Tall Tale of Tommy Twice by Nathan Leslie.After the death of his parents, a boy is sent to several different family members who all are strange in their own way. 4.5 stars


Also check out

October Overview: What I read and did in October.

Winners of the Literary Giveaway Blog Hop.

The R. I. P. VII Event – Finished!


That’s it!

What are you reading this week?

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