Monthly Archives: October 2013

Happy Halloween, my darlings!

In honor of my favorite holiday, I read a couple of creeptastic books to review for you. Unfortunately, I’ve been more freaked out by looking at my bank statement than I was by these two books.

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The Ghosts of St. Augustine by Dave Lapham was one my parents got for me at least fifteen years ago. We were in–you guessed it!–St. Augustine at the time, exploring that awesome little bit of America. I’m a total wuss when it comes to scary stuff, but this book left me wanting more. It was a great compilation of historical ghostly visitations, but it was pretty poorly written and I never felt weird reading it alone. (I really want something that is going to scare me while I’m in a brightly lit room sitting next to someone, so let me know if you have any suggestions!) One of the stories was actually told from the ghost’s point of view and then never explained afterwards, so it kind of made the whole collection lose credibility.

Definitely pass on this one.

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I had high hopes for The Little Big Book of Chills and Thrills edt by Lena Tabori. It had all the makings of an interesting compilation: recipes, short stories, poems, strange illustrations, and even magic tricks. Unfortunately the magic tricks were lame, the short stories were old hat, and the recipes and poems weren’t creepy at all, obviously. I felt like this book was more like a little big waste of my time.

Skip them both.

2 haunted houses of 5


This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn by Aiden Chambers

Let me start by saying that This is All has been sitting in the purgatory that is my To Read list for at least a handful of years. It’s a fictional diary of sorts, detailing the life and writings of 15-19 year old Brit Cordelia Kenn. She begins the book as a sixteenth birthday present to her unborn child and it chronicles her first love, losing her virginity, her budding friendship with a beloved teacher, and the growing pains-strangled relationship that she and her parents struggled with. n232254

I absolutely loved it–thank sweet baby Jesus–because the massive tome is 800 pages long! (And, I’m sure you’ll understand what I mean when I say that there’s Harry Potter 800 pages and… well… everything else 800 pages.) A few months ago I read The Kissing Game by Mr. Chambers and I just didn’t get it. So color me surprised that a 70 year old man could capture the inner-workings of a teenage girl with such clarity!

“The demons of the Devil don’t use your weak weaknesses against you, they use your strong ones. If you’re rational and logical, they argue their case rationally and logically. If you’re loyal and faithful, they turn those against you. If you’re passionate and emotional, they make you passionate and emotional about your worse fears. Your weak weaknesses are no use to them…. They find the strongest weaknesses you didn’t know were yours and use those against you.”

The hugeness of it all is divided into several parts to digest more easily. I didn’t mind that, but for some reason Chambers felt it necessary to have a 150+ page book that required you to flip back and forth every other page A to B to follow two different strains of Cordelia’s experience at once. I understand that one is what she was writing at the time and the other was what she was living at the time, but spare me. It’s awkward enough to support such a heavy book for hours on end without having to keep track of where the hell you are every two pages.

(As a side note: I don’t remember if it was ever described, but I always pictured Cordelia and Will to be black. It doesn’t matter really, but did anyone else find themselves imagining the same thing? Also, the ending and the tampon scene… SAY WHAAAAT?!)

All in all, probably one of the best coming-of-age stories I have ever read. I just wish I had the clarity, strength of character, and insight that Cordelia had when I was floundering through my teen years.

5 mopes of 5

 


Doing It by Melvin Burgess

I started Doing It the other day, right after I’d snuck into another apartment complex’s pool. As it turns out, that little bit of harmless mischief fit very well alongside the plot line.

Doing It details the sex lives, the would-be sex lives, and the confusion that goes along with being a hormone-riddled British adolescent. It follows Dino, who is desperately trying to lose his virginity to the girl of his dreams, Ben, who is having a kinky (but somewhat reluctant) affair with his teacher, and Jonathan, who realllly “fancies” his chubby BFF but is too ashamed to properly act on his feelings. doing it

*sigh* Boys are dumb. Doesn’t matter which country.

I really enjoy Burgess’ voice, and it was only after I’d finished this book that I realized I’d read another by him called Lady: My Life as a Bitch years earlier and loved it. Something about the plaintive sexuality and frustration contained within his writings is just totally page-turning. Plus, British lingo is really cute.

The characters did all take their turns pissing me off though. Dino was dumb because of what he did to his girlfriend Jackie, and Jackie was dumb because even though she’d had sex a million times before with her previous boyfriend she wouldn’t have sex with Dino. I don’t get it. Ben was dumb for letting himself be carried along in something he didn’t want to do and Jonathan was dumb for letting others’ opinions get in the way of getting the girl and for not just manning-up and going to the doctor, for chrissakes!

So basically, it’s an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a teenager.

4 make out sessions of 5


Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Prachett

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At only 25 years of age, I’ve apparently lived through at least three widely touted “end of the world” dates. Y2K, the 2011 Rapture, and December 2012. Man… think of how much I would’ve saved on car insurance if I’d switched to Oblivion!

Good Omens (the collaboration of two literary masterminds–Gaiman and Prachett) details the events leading up to the infamous Rapture as predicted by the centuries-dead witch Agnes Nutter. It switches back and forth from a multitude of perspectives, including an unlikely demon and angel duo–who have come to enjoy the pleasures of earth quite a bit thankyouverymuch, a descendent of Agnes Nutter, a descendent of a famous witch hunter, the boy who should’ve been the Antichrist, and the four “horsemen” of the apocalypse. (The four horsemen were absolutely badass and totally my favorite characters!)

With G&P at the helm, one could expect nothing less than an old-fashioned story told in a modern British voice–with more than a twist of dry humor. I’ve realized that part of the genius of NG’s story-telling ability is that he makes it seem so effortless and simple that you catch yourself thinking, I could write just like that! And then wahwahwahhhhh, you can’t.

The story was readable but I wouldn’t necessarily call it a page-turner. My only real complaint was that the multitude of characters sometimes made it hard to remember where you were in the story the following morning. Oh yeah, and I thought the ending had a distinct lack of action. Boo.

3 Freddie Mercury tapes of 5


The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick

Ahh… Facebook. That time-sucking DELIGHTFUL waste of my life. How I loathe love you! The_Facbook_Effect_cover

I admit, I check my account at LEAST a dozen times a day. I love it. Add Instagram and you had me at hello. If anyone was destined to read The Facebook Effect, it was definitely me.

Unfortunately, instead of leaving me inspired to start my own mega-successful superbusiness online badassery, I just felt… bored.

The whole thing read like a 400 page news article. Would you like to read a 400 page news article? Didn’t think so. I had hoped that the book would be injected with the kind of witty, silly, intellectual humor that seems to be the heart of the site. Nope. It was dry, bland, and strictly black and white.While it was informative, you can only read SO MANY pages of college grads sitting on the floor typing fervently at their computers before your eyes glaze over.

And even after reading TFE, I don’t feel like I know who Mark Zuckerburg is as a person anymore than I did previous to the book.

But really, I can only thank everyone who was involved with the creation of Facebook, because seriously… do any of you remember what you used to do with all that spare time?? I sure don’t. But my advice is skip the Facebook book and just go straight to the site. That’s all you really need to know.

2 status updates of 5


Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

It’s been a long time coming for the supposedly “last” book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. With a huge fan base and a wildly popular HBO TV series (Alexander Skarsgard, anyone? Nomnomnomnom), Charlaine Harris is living the life that most poor starving authors can only dream of. Unfortunately, she may have been too deeply asleep when she wrote Dead Ever After… Someone needs to pinch the crap out of her! dead-ever-after-by-charlaine-harris-cover-3_4_r560

DEA seems to exist solely to tie up any plot threads that are still left–gasping for air–no matter how weak they may be. Eric, the fairies, Sam, the Weres, Amelia… You name it. Unfortunately, Harris seems to bring up a few new characters and then forget about them–leaving their stories unanswered. But not in a cliff-hanger/spinoff kinda way. More like a “Oh, I totally forgot about that, but oh well my manuscript is due tomorrow! *Send*” kinda way.

Also, as much as I’ve enjoyed the majority of the SS series… Can we please stop detailing Sookie’s mundane day-to-day life?? She literally wasted a whole sentence–awholesecondofmylife!–bemoaning how hard it is to stuff a Digiornio box in the trash. Seriously?? Way to yank me out of the moment. I know plenty about taking the garbage out, not so much about the TrueBlood vamps. That’s what I’m paying you to write about, not pizza boxes.

AND–I DON’T WANT TO SPOIL ANYTHING FOR YOU–BUT… The way she handled Sookie’s love life in this book was very strange. And I would NOT have made the same choice had I been in her shoes. Ew. I mean, woof.

All in all, since I have OCD about this sort of thing–I’m glad I read DEA. However, if this had been my first Charlaine Harris experience… I would’ve run screaming for the hills. I can appreciate a light pool-side read every now and again, but if Sookie’s story gets any lighter it just might float away.

3 bite marks of 5

 


Why We Write edited by Meredith Maran

Everyone who knows me well knows that my one deep dark aspiration in life is to become a published author. Seriously, on my bucket list–seeing my name on a shelf on a table at  (or honestly, even in a corner of) Barnes & Noble–this dream comes before all others. And what, might you ask, am I actively doing to achieve this goal? 9780452298156_medium_Why_We_Write

Jack diddly squat.

I make excuses, I fiddle around. I clean my house. I turn on the tv. I look at those godforsaken demon-spawn time-sucking websites (that I ADORE), Facebook and Pinterest. Basically anything other than sitting still and putting words in a new document.

(Whatever dude, that blinking cursor is scary).

In Why We Write, twenty authors explain how they stay motivated, get past the cursor heebie-jeebies, and produce/publish their work. (And from the sounds of it, it seems many of them find the writing process as torturous as I do… Although there are several jerks who “can’t NOT write.” Well poop on them). I found myself dog-earring a ton of pages and I plan to write them all down in my “writer’s” notebook. (See? I have tons of ideas of things to do other than write!)

This book arrived at my door as an unexpected gift from my cousin, and I intend to put it to good use–just as soon as that laundry gets folded…

4 blank pages of 5