Monday, November 16, 2015

A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius ~ Stacey Matson (earc) Review + Excerpt + Giveaway [@JabberwockyKids @staxie]

A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
November 3, 2015
272 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

Arthur Bean writes through life's ups and downs in this humorous and heartfelt tale

Arthur believes that he is destined to become a famously rich novelist. The first step in his journey to literary greatness will be winning the school writing contest, which will also (hopefully) distract him from the untimely death of his mother. Unfortunately, Arthur can't come up with a good story, unlike his beautiful writing partner Kennedy, who he's sure will ditch her popular boyfriend and fall in love with him sometime soon. Even Robbie Zack, Arthur's nemesis, has an idea! As the competition draws closer, and as his father drifts further and further away, how far with Arthur go to win?

Have you read a book where you loved reading about the main character, but knew if they were someone in real life you would like them significantly less? That's who Arthur Bean was for me.

If he was someone I went to school with (and he did, actually, remind me of a few boys I did go to school with) or otherwise interacted with, I don't think I would have put up with him. He is incredibly self assured - to the point of arrogance and even cockiness. While it is annoying, at times, I did not want to fault him for it. Maybe he could have been humbled, but for where (and when) he was in life, it worked for him.

The sudden death of Arthur's mother and its aftermath was brought into the story in unexpected and very well done ways. Just as you would start to think of Arthur as a know-it-all, he would say something that made you realise just how much he was still grieving. We get glimpses into how his life with his father has been altered, how they're both different from before. Arthur's pain, grief and questions on how live this new life without his mother are worked in really well. It is there but thanks to Arthur's humor and exploits, the book doesn't feel heavy.

You get a thoughtful story without, at first, realising it.

I did, when I first finished the book, wish we had seen a bit more growth, or growing up, from Arthur. After a bit of reflection, however, I am glad that we did not see any more than we did. He is still in middle school, still has a lot to figure out and time to do it; who he was at the end of the book fit well with his age.

digital review copy received, thanks to publisher, via NetGalley

Praise for A Year in the Life of a Complete and Total Genius:

“[A] humorous coming-of-age novel.” –Publishers Weekly

“Arthur, like Sedaris, is at essence, a self-dramatizing memoirist with a subversive sensibility, viperous yet vulnerable, sharp-witted with a magnet eye for the ridiculous. His writings and personality also bring to mind Jeff Kinney’s hilarious mini-Machiavellian schemer and pretension-piercing fellow diarist, Greg Heffley.” –The Vancouver Sun

“Arthur is a sweet funny character and it is a lot of fun to join him on his journey through the ups and downs of junior high.” –Shelf-Talkers


The Next Great Bestselling Novel (Title to be announced)
By Arthur Bean

Once upon a time there was
There was once a
A long time ago
America is awesome! This is because
A boy and his unicorn sat on the grass and the unicorn could talk and said
Murder! There’s been a very violent murder!

Dear Ms. Whitehead,
As you know, I haven’t been in class yet, but my next-door neighbor Nicole suggested that I write you a letter since I will be starting soon. I don’t really know what to write to you. Maybe I will tell you a little about myself so that you feel like I started school at the same time as everyone else.
My name is Arthur Aaron Bean, but I normally just go by Arthur. I spent the summer at my grandparents’ house in Balzac. It was a long summer. I actually live in one of the apartment buildings pretty close to the school. I like to knit and watch movies, sometimes at the same time. I’m a very good multi-tasker. I like creative writing, so I hope that we will do that and that I didn’t miss it. I was probably the best writer in my elementary school, and I plan on getting rich as a novelist when I’m a grown-up. I don’t have any siblings, but my cousin Luke is kind of like my twin brother.
My most profound work so far is the heartwarming story called “Sockland.” In this short story, a little boy climbs into the dryer during a game of hide-and-seek with his older brothers. He is accidentally shrunk and crawls through the dryer vent into Sockland. Sockland is a land where missing socks go to live. He enjoys it for a while, but then finds that single socks are very boring, and needs to find a way to get home. He then gets the socks to help him by promising to send their partners through the tunnel, and he crawls back up into the dryer to rejoin humanland.
Mrs. Lewis said it was highly original and that I showed real promise in becoming the next J.K. Rowling. The secretary told me that I’m in a class with some of the people from my elementary school so that I would feel more comfortable. Actually, she didn’t say people, she said some of my friends. This may seem weird, because I wasn’t really friends with a lot of the people in my elementary school. Actually, most of my friends went to the Catholic school next door to our school, and so I saw them all the time. I did have a couple of friends like Oliver, but mostly I wasn’t friends with people in my elementary school class. Besides, who would want to be friends with guys like Robbie Zack? I’m not friends with people who spell thoughts as thots. Good luck with that one. He’s what my mother called “a handful of trouble with a capital T.”
Yours truly,
Arthur Bean

About the Author:

Stacey Matson has worked in a theatre program on Parliament Hill and written theatre pieces for the Glenbow Museum and for the All-Nations Theatre in Calgary. She earned her Master of Arts in Children’s Literature at the University of British Columbia. A debut novelist, Stacey lives in Vancouver, BC. Visit Stacey at

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