Monday, August 31, 2015

I get the last word this time. At least in my mind.

Most of my librarian friends are raving about this book.  I did like that when Sam, the protagonist, talked about seeing a psychiatrist and getting treatment, it was very normal for her.  Too often, in any genre of book, the notion of being treated for a mental illness is on a moral par with selling your soul to the devil.  Medication is Evil because it's made by Big Pharma which is Evil and prescribed to you by Rich Doctors, who are also Evil.  I would like to see if those writers could survive an hour in my head if I were off my meds.  Which would you like to sample first, dear author?  Extreme self-loathing leading to purging?  Suicidal ideation?  Ooh, so many fun things, amirite???

Friday, August 28, 2015

Off for the weekend... return on Monday (ugh, Mondays).

I'll have to pick which of the five books I'm reading to review for you!

The Conspiracy of Not Again

"Why do you build me up buttercup, baby,
 just to let me down and mess me around?"

The Foundations' lyrics accurately encapsulate my feelings about many YA thrillers.  The Conspiracy of Us was another in a long line of books that didn't live up to my expectations (even when I lowered said expectations considerably!).

I admit it: the cover dragged me into this one.  I want that dress.  I like the compass.  It's pitched as a teen Da Vinci Code, which could work without all the pompous woo-wah of Dan Brown's "symbologist."  Unfortunately, it falls into many of DVC's traps, as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Grifters

Hey, sweetcheeks.  Gimme a light, will ya?  Put up those pretty little feet and settle in for the most wretched group of scoundrels mid-century America has to offer...

Most of the time, when I get a book off of my to-read list/shelf, I don't really remember why I put it on there in the first place. The Grifters must have gone on when I was on my Raymond Chandler/Dashiell Hammett kick. Thompson's novel makes those other noirs look like fluff. Not that Chandler and Hammett's noirs didn't have their fair share of human nastiness in them--they did. I always found them to be first, and foremost, about atmosphere and style. Thompson's book teems with the nasty, grasping, animalistic part of human nature. 

There's really not much in the plot department, either (although at least it's not entirely forgotten or totally unsolvable, as can happen in Chandler's books). Roy is a con man, a grifter, running small cons to make money. Because of the nature of the con, he never settles down, always trying to stay ahead of the authorities or those who might recognize him from the con. The novel opens with a con gone wrong, with Roy's stomach on the receiving end of a jagged baseball bat. 

Enter the mistress, Moira. When Roy returns to his hotel lodgings, where he's got a veneer of respectability as a matchbox salesmen (seriously, did people really do this? Sell matches door-to-door?), he summons his mistress, the dark-haired, super-sexy Moira. Turns out she used to run with a con man, until she found out, thanks to the ever-helpful revelatory drunken jabbering scenes, that he was pretty much a psychopathic lunatic who believed all children should be killed upon being born. 

After some, ahem, visiting time, Moira leaves and Roy starts to feel really sick. Enter, his mom, Lilly. Boy, what a piece of work. In many respects.

Thompson weaves in the backstory of these characters very well. Lilly had Roy at the age of fourteen, and after unsuccessfully fobbing him off on her relatives for a few years, raised him while only providing him just enough care that the authorities wouldn't get suspicious. She told everyone they were brother and sister. Lilly could have cared less about Roy's problems, telling him when he hurt his arm, "It's only one arm," etc. 

She sells herself, for herself, spending the money only on herself. However, as soon as he begins to mature into a man, she feels a bit differently, as if he was the husband or lover she never had. While Thompson never goes directly into the incest camp, there certainly are some pretty twisted overtones to their relationship. If you were Roy, what would you do?

If you answered "run away," you get a gold star! It doesn't seem possible, though, to live on the up-and-up, and Roy falls into grifting as a means to not only get by, but build up a stash. 

The baseball bat incident is really the catalyst for the whole story, since when Lilly comes in to see Roy, she realizes instantly that something's wrong and has him rushed to the hospital. There they come into contact with a nurse who survived the concentration camps, and whose innocent demeanor hides the horrors that she's endured. Everyone circles each other, warily, scavengers sizing up game for the kill, until two--or maybe three--who knows?--end up dead. 

This book wasn't without its faults. Try as I could, the reason why Roy becomes so thoroughly repulsed by Carol, the nurse, after he learns of her history wasn't exactly clear to me as laid out in the book. Is it good old-fashioned anti-Semitism? And the threat to Lilly's life from her pimp/handler was also a bit vague to me (although her punishment wasn't!). 

Thompson doesn't hold back or sanitize the dirty things his characters do. The book is raw, cruel, and twisted, just like its characters. Not something I'd choose for everyday reading, or the stereotypical beach read, but very good nonetheless.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday

The further I got into These Shallow Graves, the worse I felt.  I finally checked on my suspicions, and, indeed, a lot of people had the same questions I did.  I left it unfinished, and I may revisit that choice in a blog post.  I am, however, still enjoying The Name of the Wind, although the "O GLORIOUS WOMAN" bit that we've gotten to now is only slightly (ha) over-the-top.

For new books, I only have two.

Room 1219 by Greg Meritt.  Actually, the subtitle is about as long as my arm, but that's beside the point.  It's the story of Roscoe Arbuckle and Virginia Rappe, the death of the latter causing Hollywood to blackball the leading comedic actor of the day.  

Phoenix Island by John Dixon.  There's all this hype blah blah blah about how this book was the inspiration for a TV show called Intelligence, but since I don't have a television, I don't particularly care.  I get my BBC fix from Netflix and call it a month.  I'm too busy reading otherwise!  I have to be upfront here: I'm not sure if I'll finish this one, and if I do, I don't think I will give it a high rating, unlike almost every other person on Goodreads.  We shall see.

A Whole New World ... A Horribly Worthless Point of View...

I requested this book because I was confused: I thought it was E.K. Johnston's A Thousand Nights.  Unfortunately, I can't keep my authors or my fairy tales straight, so I had to suffer through this "dark reimagining" of Aladdin.  And I feel really awful just ripping on this because I'm sure the author is really a lovely person, but being told by Disney: "Righty-o, you're going to retell one of our most popular films!  Toodle-oo!" is probably the kiss of death.  I am really, really sorry.

It's been difficult for me to marshal my thoughts into a coherent review, so I'm just going to throw this all out there like a glorious arcing spout of vomit and come and clean it up later (maybe).

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Limehouse Text (Barker & Llwellyn #3)

I finished this book a week ago and I still cannot think of a good way to review it.  It's a compelling mystery with really fun characters, but it also made me very uncomfortable in its treatment of the Chinese people living in London at the time of the story.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wytches, Vol. 1

My initial review of this was: "Good except for when it's not."

I dislike feeling ambivalent about a comic.  For me, in most areas of my life, things have to be black and white if I'm to be comfortable with them.  Something is right or it's wrong.  You're rude or you're polite.  Celery salt is nasty, not tasty.  I like the comfort of categorizing something and placing it in an imaginary box inside my head.

Obviously, this isn't the most practical approach to life, because life is messy and confusing and full of nuances and undertones and exceptions.  I'm working on doing better with compromise and stuff like that, but it's hard when I read a book or comic and I can't quite figure out how I feel about it.  And no, I'm not talking about that fakey-feelz stuff that crops up in romances like, "Goodness!  I just don't know how to feel about two insanely hot dudes flinging themselves at my poor, unpedicured feet!"  I mean where if you put the good and the bad on a scale, it would be about balanced.

That's how I feel about this first volume of Wytches, by Scott Snyder and Jock. The beginning is really strong and creepy, and then ... roams around a bit ... to settle in a rather confusing ending.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Wicked + the Divine: Fandemonium

I was seriously considering just writing : READ THIS SERIES, but I suppose I have to tell you why I think you should READ THIS SERIES.

Personally, I liked volume one, The Faust Act, a wee bit more than I liked Fandemonium, but that may be due to a few piddly factors.  I read an arc of the trade of volume one, which means that it's been a while for me and these characters.  Luci(fer) was probably my favorite out of all the wild and out-there gods who showed up in volume one, but now she's not here.  Secondly, there's not as much of a plot in Fandemonium: it's basically the aftermath of volume one, so it's more introspective.

But dang.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Loki, Agent of Asgard: Trust Me

The bewilderment of many male reviewers is so adorable (really!).  For once, I'm not being sarcastic. They are genuinely confused as to why Loki, as played by Tom Hiddleston, is hot.  I can't explain the boom-boom my heart does every time I see that smirky visage, but I can't help it.  He is basically a meaner Norse version of Morpheus from The Sandman, and Dream was my first comics crush.  As I said to Ted Brandt on Twitter the other day, "I like them tall, dark, devious, dangerous, and immortal."  Switch "tall" to "small" and you've got Loki.

As a trickster god, Loki has this odd joie de vivre that Morpheus never did.  He's hilarious and delightful, even when he's scheming to do bad things.  It's the nature of the trickster--show one face to hide the wicked one.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Throwback Thursday: The Postcard Killers

And now, a review of the human book factory (actually, it's more like, "Here's an idea for a book, now you write it, minion, and I'll roll in my piles of money!") James Patterson's "work."

Up until this point, I had read two and a half books by Patterson (in his adult range). The half book so disgusted me that I gave up. All three of them were Alex Cross books, and I think that was a major reason why I didn't really like his books--his writing of an African-American detective was so very bizarre that it made me uncomfortable. Plus, I believe that Patterson clearly wins the "Author of the Creepiest, Most Disturbing, and Downright Disgusting Sexytimes" award. Like, ever. I would not want to psychoanalyze this guy. 

I really couldn't explain (coherently, at least) why I decided to give this one a try. Perhaps it's that I've read quite a lot of late 18th century fiction lately. Perhaps I felt like giving the guy another chance. Perhaps I was intrigued by the partnership with Marklund, who writes Swedish thrillers (according to the back cover). Perhaps I laughed so hard at the silly label on the front "The Scariest Vacation Thriller Ever!" that I had to see what happened, exactly. 

Actually, it isn't half bad (I give most of the credit to Marklund, who seems to have tempered Patterson's peculiar brand of crazy). We were only subjected to two gross-out sexytimes, and those weren't half as bad as the ones in the previous books. The storyline is interesting, too. Two killers (titular) stalk and then brutally murder newlyweds by slashing their throats, leaving a trail of grisly, posed crime scenes across Europe. Jacob Kanon, NYPD, whose daughter was among the victims, also stalks them across Europe, not bathing and generally behaving like a massive jerk and stereotypical American abroad. *Shudder* Inexplicably, he interests the latest recipient of the killers' postcards, a Swedish journalist named Dessie. From this point on it's pretty much a "two very different people must band together to save innocent lives from the depraved villain" story, with a gross sexytime thrown in there. Ew. The dénouement was very ... strange, rather hastily cobbled together. Because things are going on in Sweden, yes, there is an Ikea involved. *thumbs up*

I guess the only reason I gave this two stars instead of one was the Swedish settings ... which is a totally bizarre reason, I know. But the names and places reminded me of my beloved Stieg Larsson. Except here we have no butt-kicking female, nor an interesting male lead. Our male lead, Jacob, is mostly memorable for the fact the he seems to abhor bathing (?!?!?!!). An amusing read, in a way. I'll probably seek out more of Marklund's stuff. 

Author's note: I did not.  I have better things to do with my life.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday!

I have ALL THE COMICS TRADES in my possession (not really, but it feels like it) and I am so happeeeeeee.  I've already gone through three of them, but I'm still working on:

Deadpool Classic, Vol. 2  The Internet said this was a good place to start with Deadpool as I get to skip Rob Liefeld's art.  It's the first time I've ever read anything about that character and I can see why fans love him.

The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall.  I started reading this while weeding books at another branch and the first chapter hooked me.  I am a tad worried it will be too much WUV for me, but I do love a good secret society story.  Also: DAT COVER.

Wytches by Scott Snyder.  It's by Scott Snyder.  Give it to me now, please and thank you.

I've made good progress in These Shallow Graves, which is like an Edith Wharton murder mystery, and it's really working for me!

AND I read more of The Name of the King.  I've been lingering over the school scenes because really, schools in literature are one of my all-time favorite settings.

Elektra: Bloodlines

I know very little about Elektra.  Here is what I know:

She is an assassin.
She wears red.
She uses sai.
She was with Daredevil at one point.

I've avoided both movies that featured this character because a) Ew, Ben Affleck! and b) they didn't get good reviews.  Alas, I'm woefully behind on my Netflix shows as well, so if she's popped up in the new Daredevil TV series, I missed it.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Spoil Me Baby One More Time! A review of Alive, now with more sexy uniforms than ever!

Don't Bowdlerize your own writing style in order to appeal to teens.  It's insulting.

I've read two of Sigler's other books--Infected and Contagion, and I was consistently impressed with his control of the pace, the pull-no-punches ickiness, and surprisingly thoughtful characterization of a man who would normally be classified as a Bad Guy.  They was good and scary and quite well-written.  It was no Uncle Stevie, but it was very fun to read.

And then we have Alive.  If I understand the marketing correctly, this is Sigler's attempt at a YA novel, although I have seen some outlets erroneously classifying it as Adult (*cough*Baker and Taylor *cough cough*).  I have this weird feeling that the author thought, "Well, since I'm writing for teens, I should include all the YA stereotypes and also write in short sentences so that their malleable brains can understand what I want to say."

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lost (Shipwreck Island, #2)

This is a really excellent series for kids who want adventure in high doses but with a lower page count, and S.A. Bodeen totally pulls it off.  While I was a bit iffy about some of the family dynamics in the first book, I totally get it now.  I was so hyperfocused on a girl who wouldn't eat enchiladas made by her new stepmom that I didn't look at the big picture.

I'm really lucky.  Both of my parents are alive, and they're together, and I love them very much.  But I've had time to reflect on the family situation in this book, and it's totally what would happen in a newly-blended family.  So, consider that part of my wiffle-waffliness on the first book stricken from the record.  On to Lost!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Mini-Review: A Shilling for Candles

Sometimes, I just have a hankering for a classy British murder novel.  One with natty detectives and mysterious ladies and pub food.

Josephine Tey's Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard isn't the over-the-top fop dandy Hercule Poirot, nor is he the ever-knitting Miss Marple.  He's quite ordinary, actually, and that's what makes him a successful hero.  He makes errors in judgment and that's okay, because he's human.  He is a bit cold emotionally, which is interesting, but I like him all the same.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Throwback Thursday: L'Immoraliste

I wish I had been able to read this in the original French, but alas! I had to settle for the English translation available at my library. I felt it was quite well done, but I could only think of how lovely it probably was in French.  

Really, nothing prompted me to pick this up other than it being on the list of 1001 books you must read before you die (which I take with a grain of salt, mind, but it is helpful for picking out things I normally wouldn't), so I began with no presuppositions, except that it is about ... an immoral person, I suppose. The reviews here [on Goodreads] that state that the narrator, Michel, is not immoral strike me as totally bizarre. "Well, it's not like he killed anyone!" they complain. "More sex! Where are all the homosexual sexytimes I expected? I want my money back!" they yell. So ... immorality is only murder, or only the explicit description of homosexuality or pederasty? 

The Immoralist really isn't about immoral acts. It's about an immoral person. Immorality, here, is not just the usual suspects of murder, rape, adultery, et cetera. It has to do with how you interact with others. Michel, the narrator and protagonist, marries Marceline in order to please his father and basically because he can't think of anything else to do. He's driftless, spineless, colorless, and completely out of touch. After a particularly nasty attack of tuberculosis on his honeymoon in North Africa, his wife (the saintly, wronged woman archetype) nurses him back to health and tries to amuse him by introducing him to the local children. Michel takes an interest (ahem) in one of the boys, whom he finds youthful, beautiful, full of life, and intoxicating. He resolves to really "live" life. He embraces sensuality, but not in the way we'd normally think of it. Once he gets tired of looking at a landscape, he moves on, heedless of what it's doing to his wife. Once a boy becomes too like a man, he is no longer attractive to Michel and becomes repulsive. 

We see how Michel treats Marceline--it's immoral. We see how he casts people aside because they no longer amuse him--that's immoral. He's totally self-centered, which only becomes more clear as he desperately attempts to convince his audience that he truly loved his wife, only lived for her, cared for her ... sure you did, Michel. So you say. 

Other commenters note that Gide is influenced by Nietzsche and other philosophers of that ilk--I've not read any of that nor do I have the desire to, so I may be missing that aspect of this little story. I can't say I loved it or that I'd read it over and over again, but some of the prose is downright brilliant--the kind you want to copy out and read when you feel particularly meditative. Recommended.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I'm Reading Wednesday

Right.  We shall skip past the two books that have been on my back burners (not for lack of interest, I SWEAR!), and just see what else I've added to the pile of books going into my brain!

The Limehouse Text by Will Thomas.  I'll be honest: this one is making me feel very uncomfortable in the way that the author approaches Chinese characters.  More thoughts on this when I finish.

Deadpool Classic by A Lot of Different People.  I've been wanting to start a Deadpool comic for a while now, so a few days ago I just googled "where to start reading Deadpool" and this looked pretty good.  I think I've avoided the Liefeld issues, but if I see a guy with pockets all over, I'll know who did it.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell.  Much like that Descendants tie-in book, Disney is looking to make a quick buck with this Aladdin "dark reimagining."  I am unsure whether I should laugh or cry, but if you've seen the movie, you can skip the first 25% of the book.  Also more on this to come.

Mini-Review: Tombquest #2: Amulet Keepers

"A-oooooooo / mummies of London!"  Wait, that's not how the song goes?  Well, that's how it goes now that the undead are breaking out all over the city on the Thames!

But let's back up a moment.

Alex Sennefer's mom read from the forbidden Egyptian Lost Scrolls of the Book of the Dead to save his life.  Although it saves Alex's life and gives him back his health, it also opens a portal to the land of the dead, and these Very Bad Creatures called Death Walkers start waking up wherever there are mummies.  Since the British very thoroughly looted Egypt, there are mummies strewn all over the globe.  Oh goody.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Teen Titans Vol. 1: Blinded by the Light

Okay, first of all, whoever decided to name that story arc should be forced to listen to a 100-hour loop of Manford Mann and His Rare Earth Band's hit, "Blinded by the Light," because this has been my brain since I started reading this comic:

[in wailing falsetto]

"Blinded by the li-hight
Racked up like a deuce,
Another roller in the ni-hight!"

Repeat ad infinitum.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Deep-fried everything on a stick (including beer and butter)

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It's the Wisconsin State Fair!  It's cream puff time (not for me, alas)!  It's time to watch people from out of state attempt to eat a cream puff (tip: it's not like a sandwich)!  It's time to just watch people (leather chaps, OH YEAHHHHH)!

This means I'll get very little reading done this weekend and probably even less reviewing.

Remember: #drinkwisconsinably!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Saturn Run: the Review (Costarring Jesus and Derek Zoolander)

Spoilers: I contain multitudes of them

Sometimes, while browsing Netgalley, I'll take a peek at what's going on in Sci-Fi.  Usually, I beat a hasty retreat because there's some series with covers featuring a mostly-naked elven-werewolf hybrid wearing a g-string.  Not my kind of speculative fiction.  I like space opera and alternate worlds and time travel and all that good stuff.  A nice military sci-fi, like something by John Campbell, is also quite fun.  So, while whizzing through the vast galaxy of books on Netgalley one day, I noticed a title by an author that I had actually heard of: John Sandford*.  I said, "Hey, that ... author!  He writes many books!  I have never read one, because I like my thrillers by Lincoln and Child (Pendergast FTW!), but he's a well-established author.  I have shelved his books many times at the library!  What's he doing over here in sci-fi?  This might be good!"

Fatal mistake.  Oh, past self.  How naïve and trusting you were!

Initially, the blurb ticked all my sci-fi boxes: first space trip of its kind?  Check.  Mysterious alien vessel?  Check.  Intra-planetary conflict for control of the solar system?  Check.  While not at all a unique premise, it at least sounded like a fun read.

Saturn Run succeeded in that I did not toss the book away in frustration or anger.  I finished it.  But as a book that aspires to be Real Science Fiction (like Real Men or something) while also telling a story, it completely and utterly tanks.  Especially because the book is about 80% incomprehensible techie info dump, 10% flying around in space, and 10% the President yelling at people.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Night Probe!

Yay!  More Dirk Pitt™ throwback fun!  In this book two people got jiggy with it in a plane that was on autopilot.  As you do.  Here we go!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What I'm Reading Wedneday

I've almost got a fresh slate of books to show you.  Kvothe's still lurking about, to my shame, and I simply haven't gotten back to Jennifer Donnelly's These Shallow Graves, but they're at the top of my must-finish list.

The next two books, oddly enough, are also seconds in their series.

Lost by S.A. Bodeen is in the Shipwreck Island series.  It's pretty good, and would be an excellent choice for kids who don't like to read book-books.

Amulet Keepers is book two in Michael Northrup's Tombquest series.  I found the first one to be utterly charming, and I hope book two lives up to it, especially since WE'RE GOING TO LONDON!


I have a pathological terror of anything on or in my skin.  I'm allergic to numerous antibiotics, and spent much of my childhood covered in hives.  When I was seven, I got a plantar wart from swimming class and it was a horrible source of shame to me.  It was even worse when the doctors removed it.  I still have a scar.  I also have dermatitis herpetiformis, which is the skin version of celiac disease--Google at your peril.

So the idea of triangular eyeball aliens that grow and reproduce under the skin and then burst forth in a glorious haze of blood and gore freaked me out.  A lot.  So, the author did his job.  I was also really impressed in that he managed to make me feel empathy for the main character, even though he goes on a violent rampage.

The second book in this series was also very good, but I had a bit of an odd experience when I reviewed it.  This was early on in the era of Me: Blogging, so I didn't have a lot of experience and I thought far more of authors than I should.  Don't get me wrong--I enjoy the works of many authors and find them to be very funny and smart on social media.  But, hero worship for authors is never a good idea.  They're human beings who make stupid mistakes just like you and me.  So when the author commented on my post, he asked me to remove a phrase that he considered a spoiler for book one.  I did not think it was a spoiler, but I obliged.  I now regret it.

Here's the deal: I am 99% sure that I did not @ him on Twitter when I posted my review, because I use the auto-post thingy and that doesn't @ anyone.  So, he had to go looking for my review.  If I've learned anything from interacting with other librarians and authors on Twitter, it is this: do not search for reviews of your books.  No.  And even if you break that rule, don't comment.  Especially if it's a neutral-to-negative review.  Then we get to the Kathleen Hale-is-stalking-you #HaleNo point, which is just a bad place to be.

Not only did he go looking for (and find) a review of his book, the author asked me to remove something that he considered a spoiler.  It was the outcome of one scene in the first book (the MC castrates himself to save himself from one of the alien triangles), and really didn't impact the outcome of the story, other than the MC didn't die.  Now, if I were reviewing the first book, I wouldn't have mentioned it.  Let's look at it another way:

If I were reviewing The Empire Strikes Back as a new moviegoer back in the 80's, I would never, ever, ever think of telling everyone the paternal twist at the end.  And honestly, let's face it: cutting off one's own dingle-dongle to save one's life really doesn't pack the same emotional punch as finding out that the dread Lord of the Sith--who keeps trying to kill you and your friends and Force chokes all the poor sots who get in his way--is your dad.  I mean, that's messed up.  It's like thinking about your parents doing it.  Eugh.  Poor Luke and Leia had to think about Darth Vader having the sexytimes with their mother.  Plus they had a thing for each other, which is why you don't split up siblings.

Ahem ... if I were reviewing The Return of the Jedi, I might toss in a reference to "Luke's internal conflict about his father" because this is a series of films that you should watch in order.  If you haven't bothered to watch them in order, then that's on you.

So, bottom line: I was completely within my rights to say whatever I wanted to say about the first book in a review of the second, because it's not my job to make sure you read things in order so I don't accidentally *spoil* it for you.  And I was a complete pushover for jumping to do what the author wanted me to do.  He thought it would "give readers a chance to bail" before everything got spoiled.

I do not like to be ordered around.  My mother will confirm this fact.  I do not like it when people tell me, "You cannot do that," when the "that" in question is something that is Not A Big Deal.  Like, "Don't murder people" is a command I can definitely get behind.  "Don't be a jerk to people" is another good don't.  But then you get the ego-don'ts and the petty-don'ts like: "Don't look at me like that."  "Don't sit down when I'm talking to you."  "Don't write about this."*

I will indeed write about it, especially since this author, who is, I grant you, immensely talented in his adult work (just not Alive; I'll get to that in part two of this review) felt it "necessary" to include an "OH-SO-POLITE REQUEST FROM THE AUTHOR" which reads, in part:

"Not to be presumptuous, but I have a favor to ask--consider the people after you who want to experience the story's twists and turns for themselves.  In other words, my request is this: no spoilers. Pretty please ... If your broadcast to the world includes key plot points or reveals, other people lose their chance at the moments of discovery that can make fiction so special."

What the actual frankincense? I am actually so ticked off about the--yes--presumptuousness of this little request that I can't use my words.  Dude, you are a good writer.  You don't have to do this.  This is like the kiss of death when you have advance reader copies going out to bloggers who *gasp* have opinions about books and like to write engaging reviews of said books.  Going back to my interaction, what exactly is considered a "key plot point and reveal"?  I think that's a little bit different for everyone.  I actually like spoilers because then I know what I'm getting into.  I can get really emotionally invested to the point of being depressed, so if I know what's going to happen, this lessens my anxiety a lot.  I'm not kidding.

And what would this ideal review look like?  "Awesome book!  Everything was great!  I loved the setting and the characters and the plot!  Can't wait for the next one!"  That's not a review.  That's a reaction.

Here we are, then.  Let me, once again, be clear: I really enjoyed this author's past work.  I will probably read the last book in the series to see how everything turns out, because the writing was good and creepy.  I did not enjoy his latest book.  I do not enjoy being patronized and ordered about as to how I can talk about a book.  I'd like to think that I do a relatively decent job of not spoiling all the twists and turns of the books that I read, and if I do go into something, then it's because it was problematic.  In short, I am not an idiot.

I understand that by publishing this, he'll probably find it (even though I purposefully left out his name).  That's okay.  That's the internet.  Spoiler!

*This is where everyone on Facebook would be like, "Heck, yeah!  First Amendment!"  However, let us realize that the First Amendment is talking about the government's reaction to what you say.  It doesn't penalize other citizens from criticizing you.  So if you say, "Vaccines give you autism!" the government can't restrict what you say, but people on the internet can totally mock you because you're an idiot.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


After my latest mild relapse into panic about my body, I wanted to read some more modern books about coping with EDs, recovery, and all of the societal mechanisms that promote an unattainable body and vilify fatness.  Even just a little pudge.

I am unsure of why I reserved Body of Truth: How Science, History, and Culture Drive Our Obsession with Weight--And What We Can Do about It by Harriet Brown, but I did, and I read it in a day.  I wasn't aware that she had written anything else about EDs, but she evidently chronicled her daughter's battle with anorexia in a book called Brave Girl Eating.  This gave me vaguely squicky Ellen Hopkins vibes (Crank and the ensuing books are basically the story of Hopkins' daughter, vaguely fictionalized).  You, the mother, are profiting from your daughter's pain?  But I didn't realize that until after I finished Body of Truth and started poking around on the internet a bit more.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Due to excessive commentary,

the trials of finding a good picture of a sad Jesus, and lots of issues with the book I'm reviewing, no new blog snark today.  Carry on.  I apologize I couldn't make your Monday more sarcastic, but I'm just having so much fun writing this review!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Thunderstruck and Other Stories

To make a sweeping generalization, I enjoy collections of short stories.  This is especially true for YA authors whose full-length novels I might not read because of instalove or love triangles or just general disinterest in the subject matter, but I find that you can really see a writer's craft shine when they're restricted to a shorter format.  There's no time to develop an elaborate love triangle or parallelogram or whatever, Plus, I find that short stories tend to end with a punch.

Other readers and reviewers of Thunderstruck and Other Stories praise McCracken's prose for being funny and wise and "exquisite."  When I finished, I sat there, wondering if I had read the same book as all of those other people.  Because this collection of stories was at best, mildly offensive (which at least adds a little zing to the reading experience), but on the whole, as bland and unsatisfying as Dickensian oatmeal.