Shane Dawson’s memoir features twenty original essays—uncensored yet surprisingly sweet.
Okay, now let's look at some quotes from this book.
It's the same feeling a wicker chair gets when a circa-2006 Kelly Clarkson takes a seat. TENSE (18).
Fat-shaming. And misogyny.
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME, YOU BARELY GED-ACHIEVING, TACKY-DRESSED SNAGGLE-TOOTHED CUNT?! (22)
I wasn't the prettiest girl at the prom but I was definitely good enough to get date raped (23).
One day she came up to me with an idea I knew was bad from the second it left her dick-suckin' lips (26).
Even more misogyny.
...he had me join a group of surfer kids who had a collective IQ of ten and a collective STD score of everything (43).
Even as a young kid I remember wondering, "Is my mom a whore?" (71)
Slut-shaming his own mother. Why? Because she had a sexy swimsuit. A one-piece.
A wise person once said: "Prom is only for whores and for the guys who want to fuck them." (161)
Slut-shaming and misogyny.
I had never heard of Shane Dawson until I read this blog post by a friend of mine, talking about Shane Dawson's up and coming book deal with Atria and why she wasn't going to read it. I don't spend much time on Youtube to be honest, because I find so many of the users to be perpetuating what I consider a highly toxic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, apologist environment. Just look at the comments section of any video -- pretty much any video at all -- and you'll see what I mean.
The thing about Shane is that he did a couple videos in blackface, and was even called out by a black Youtube star (who was also a woman). He did not appear to understand why his videos were in poor taste, and his responses seem defensive. In I HATE MYSELFIE (which could just as easily be called I HATE WOMEN, going by some of the quotes he has chosen to include in here), there is a chapter that's called "Racist" or "Racism" or something like that, where Shane addresses being called a racist.
In this chapter, he claims that he's actually not being a racist by making fun of other races. In fact, it would practically be racist not to! Besides, Asians are allowed to make fun of Asian people, right?
Margaret Cho isn't considered a racist for making jokes about Asians and their stereotypes because it's what she grew up with (155).
On the very next page, Shane uses the much-exhausted excuse of every tried and true racist out there:
"My black friend thinks I'm funny!"
Right, Shane. Right.
I HATE MYSELFIE is not limited to these problems, however. Shane is watched by a very young audience, and yet he seems to me like a very bad role model. He claims that he ate 250 packets of Splenda a day, and his eating habits actually put him in the hospital. (Where did he get all these packets? A lot of his fans mailed them to him.) He got so dehydrated from drinking Splenda drinks in lieu of water that at one point he started hallucinating in a bathroom before losing consciousness.
I'm not sure what the moral is here. That if you act shocking enough, and make enough waves, you will become famous for being a total asshole and make bank?
He tries to make himself seem approachable by writing about his experiences being bullied and struggling with obesity. While these are issues that many people -- especially teens -- struggle with on a daily basis, his way of dealing with this is wrong. Shane still eats badly. And his reactions of dealing with bullying are reprehensible. At one point, he catfishes one of his bullies, tricking him into showing a picture of his dick by pretending to be a girl. He considers distributing the picture to everyone but then has an attack of a guilty conscience last minute and decides not to.
The only "sweet" thing Shane seems to have done is that he has commissioned an army of 12-15-year-olds to design the drawings for his chapter headings, and then included links to their Facebooks, Instagrams, what have you. As a publicity stunt, that's perfectly clever, and tantamount to John Green's big announcement that he based THE FAULT IN OUR STARS off a real girl, and then wrote his big fat tear-jerky blurb all over her diary when that was published posthumously.
I read this book to satisfy my curiosity, and it's pretty much confirmed everything that I've suspected. Shane is not someone I am interested in getting to know, nor is he someone I am willing to support with time or money. I'm sure I will get people on this review trying to make apologies for him, or claiming that he is shocking with the intent of being satirical or edgy. No. Those are also apologist arguments. There are some things that are just in poor taste to joke about, and if you do joke about them, you have to deal with the consequences of doing so (scorn and condemnation).
For those looking for a decent comedian who has social commentary to an art, I suggest Sarah Haskins. Her Target Women series, with the way it challenges gender norms, has made me a lifelong fan.
Two great NA books in one week! WHAT ARE THE ODDS?
New adult books and I have a hate-hate relationship. I think they're crap, and reviewing them makes me look like an asshole. (I do it anyway, though -- I'd rather be an asshole than a liar.) When I saw SKINNY ME on Netgalley, though, I couldn't resist. As someone who has struggled with her weight for almost six years, I wanted to see what Charlene Carr would do with the topic. And do you know what? I was pleasantly surprised.
Jennifer (Jenn) Carpenter has a pretty sucky life. Her morbidly obese mother just died of a heart-attack, and Jenn was the one who found her. In addition to losing her mother, her mother's death was also a painful reminder of her own mortality.
Jenn is also obese. She's estranged from her younger brother, who bullied her ruthlessly and pretty much treated her and her mother like crap. She's also estranged from her father, who left her mother for a younger, thinner woman. Jenn has trouble holding down jobs because people are repulsed by her appearance and she can't muster up the enthusiasm to be the jolly fat girl. She is hopelessly depressed and lonely, embittered about her lot in life, and poor as hell and frustrated at not being able to get a job.
Eventually, Jenn decides that she is going to lose weight. She starts working out at a gym with a trainer, who also happens to be her cousin's boyfriend. As Jenn loses the weight, she isn't much happier, but she becomes really judgmental about the people around her. Suddenly, certain men aren't good enough to date -- they have to be muscular and gorgeous in order to fit her "ideal self." She judges her former friends, who were also overweight, for not wanting to change themselves. She even judges her cousin, Autumn, because she wants Matt, Autumn's boyfriend. Autumn has enough happiness in life, Jenn thinks, so she doesn't really deserve Matt the same way Jenn does.
Carr has a lot of really insightful things to say about grief, and bullying, and weight, and depression, and learned helplessness. There were so many passages in this book that felt so deep, you know? It's not often that issues like these are dealt with in such an informed way, but I have to assume that Carr has some personal experience with obesity and depression, because the stuff in here really rang true for me (and in fact, it may trigger some stuff with people who are sensitive to that kind of thing).
I suppose my one quibble is that Jenn ends the book skinny. How skinny I do not know, because Carr (cleverly) avoided using any actual numbers. Which makes Jenn even more relatable, because her numbers could be our numbers. But she is thin at the end of the book. Unlike other comparable books, however, Jenn does not end up with a boyfriend, love does not cure her depression, and there is not some jealous evil-bitch type character waiting in the wings to act all shocked. In fact, the female relationships in this book are very well done, and one of the best parts of the story.
SKINNY ME is officially one of the best new adult books that I have ever read. Carr has some wonderful things to say, and her voice is both accessible and authentic. It takes serious balls to write an unlikable character and still make her voice seem genuine, but Carr manages it with scary ease. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, from Autumn's perspective. I hope it's just as good!
"The only thing more beautiful than a unicorn is the idea of a unicorn" (104).
Guess what this book is about? No, seriously -- guess.
UNICORN ON A ROLL is the cutest book I've read all year. I've been in a bit of a "blah" mood lately, and even my usual pick-me-up, reading, has failed me, because I'm in a book funk, too. (Which is pretty much the worst feeling ever. Not only do you feel like crap, but all your books suck, too. It's like going on vacation and finding out that you're staying in a shitty motel, and on top of that you get really sick, and also it's raining.)
This adorable little book is one part Calvin and Hobbes, two parts My Little Pony, and one part Jellaby. If you like any of those things, you need to drop whatever it is you're reading right now and pick up a copy of this book for yourself.
"I wonder what you'd get if you could combine presents and sunshine."
Phoebe is in elementary school. I think she's eight, but I'm not quite sure. A year ago, she was mad at her mother and wandered off to her "being mad" place in the woods. While she was there, she met a unicorn, and after making a wish that the two of them would be BFFs, they've been inseparable every since. What is the unicorn's name, you ask? Why, it is Marigold Heavenly Nostrils. AKA, THE BEST. NAME. EVER.
She also has a human friend named Max, and a frenemy named Dakota.
Phoebe's parents are these young hipsters who are totally hilarious, and seem perfectly okay with the fact that their daughter has a pet unicorn that comes and goes, putting holes in the plaster and blowing her nose on the curtains. It took me a while to figure out whether Phoebe's parents and friends could actually see the unicorn. Apparently they can, and unicorns are just something that everyone in this town is totally chill with (must be something in the water -- unicorn pee, or something).
I loved the humor in this book. It was surprisingly intelligent and witty, and seriously if it weren't for a little thing called copyright infringement I could have happily quoted the whole graphic novel verbatim. UNICORN ON A ROLL was also really sweet. Which you would expect from a book about unicorns -- but it was sweet in a meaningful way. The kind of way that has parents nodding in approval because of its relevant life lessons. At one point, I actually got a little teary because yes, friendship is magic, and unicorns make everything all right in the world. Have some cookies.
(In case all this isn't motive enough to get a copy of the book for yourself, there is a recipe for glittery unicorn poop cookies in the back.)
For the last ten years, I have been meticulous about reading food labels -- and not by choice. I am allergic to GMO corn and sensitive to carrageenan: two products that are in pretty much everything. I also try to avoid high fructose corn syrup and caramel coloring as a matter of principle (studies have linked both to health problems, including cancer).
When I tell people about my allergies (disclosure is mandatory at dinners, restaurants, and food-related events), many people are shocked. Not just because they realize how few things I can eat, but because, for some, in screening for my allergies, they are reading their food labels for the first time and realizing just how much artificial crap is in the food that they eat.
A lot of the stuff is addictive. SALT, SUGAR, FAT discusses the addictive qualities in the ingredients of processed foods: people have cravings for these things, and when they are deprived of them, withdrawals. In a way, I'm lucky, because when I eat something that contains carrageenan or GMO corn, I either (a) throw up -- once, or several times over the course of several hours depending on the quantity, or (b) experience severe intestinal distress that can last up to about two days. Because of this, I have developed taste aversions to these junk foods, because my last memory of eating them resulted in me being in the bathroom, feeling like my insides were being tied into knots & set afire.
THIS IS WHAT YOU JUST PUT IN YOUR MOUTH? follows in the tradition of other books that deconstruct process food -- books like TWINKIE, DECONSTRUCTED; PANDORA'S LUNCHBOX; and FOOD, INC. TIWYJPIYM has a much more accessible writing style than many of these books; it reads like a trivia book, or one of those Ripley's Believe It Or Not's. Di Justo's witty and twisted sense of humor makes many of these facts memorable and highly interesting.
The first half of the book is all about food products -- everything from Doritos to A1 Sauce. If you look at the ingredients, you'll notice that most of them contain corn proteins, or corn starch. I was really surprised by the crap that was in Cool Whip (or, Cool hWhip if you're partial to the Stewie Griffin sketch). Di Justo has "What's Inside?" articles published in Wired, and these features were later included in PBS specials with Chris Hardwick, including...Cool Whip. (Although to be perfectly honest, I think my favorite is the one with Rainn Wilson. "I have a citric acid tree." He's so cute.)
The second half of the book deconstructs household products like golfballs, Febreze, KY Jelly -- things that you don't eat, but still interact with and should probably know the ingredients of. I was a little surprised by the contents of Noxzema, and the fact that some mascara is apparently full of enough iron to make it magnetic enough to stick to rare earth magnets. Go figure.
TIWYJPIYM is a very important book, because it teaches you (a) that it is probably a good idea to know what you are putting in your mouth/on your body/in your lungs, and (b) that there is a big difference between something that is considered safe and something that is actually good for you. I have to say, I was amused (in a sad way) by how obdurate some companies were about ignoring Di Justo. I guess it's a catch-22: you can't publicly deny that something exists in your products when it obviously does, but maintaining a position of silence (or shunning) is also an admission of guilt by proxy in a way. So you can either be a liar, publicly guilty, or publicly guilty by omission.
Ever since TWILIGHT, there has been a glut of paranormal romances featuring insipid female characters who feel the need to assert their plainness, and their blandness, and their often incredibly offensive worldviews about other women. LOVE, LATTES AND MUTANTS is one of these books.
Piper Dunn is a teenage girl with dolphin DNA. She has turquoise eyes, the voice of a siren, long hair, and a shapely body...and a blowhole. Also she can swim really well and talk to dolphins. Because she's afraid that the government might still be interested in her, she disguises herself with nerd glasses and baggy clothes.
I don't get a lot of attention. My blonde hair is scraped back into a ponytail and pinned in a wrap-up sponge barrette. My clothes are baggier than a rapper's and as unassuming as I can find. In other words, the total package is boring (7).
If this sounds annoying, don't worry. Piper only does it about fifty more times.
With great reluctance, I put on my glasses. I grimace in disgust at my appearance (21).
The idea that glasses turn you into an ugly nerd is such an offensive idea that I almost can't even. Look, I wear glasses, and a lot of my friends on Goodreads do, too. If wearing glasses says anything about a woman, it's that she has bad eyesight...most likely because she reads. But you can blame Hollywood for this, because of makeover movies like She's All That and Princess Diaries, where turning someone into a model-gorgeous woman only takes contacts and a hair straightener. FUUU.
Piper is pretty much ignored at school, until a new girl named Holly comes along. Holly is pretty, interesting, and kind, but according to Piper, the only reason Holly is as popular as she is is because girls are just sucking up to her in order to have a chance with her hot twin brother, Tyler.
Ugh, Tyler. Where do I even begin? He's your typical stalkaholic teen douchethrob. Right away, he susses out that there's something different about Piper. To hide her siren voice, she speaks several octaves lower -- which made me think that she's going around talking like Christian Bale vis-à-vis his role as Batman -- but of course she slips up in front of the hot guy. Fuck survival! There's hotness afoot!
He's wearing khaki shorts and a plain white T-shirt. I'd like to scoop him up with a spoon, he looks so yummy (111).
Who wouldn't want a piece of that khaki-wearing action? Especially when he says things like this:
"[Your voice] sounds like it's wrapped on silk" (98).
Piper would like to think that she doesn't. She has secrets to hide, and even though Tyler continues to pry -- going to many stalkery lengths to find out what she's hiding -- Piper passively-aggressively pushes him away, while also lashing out with jealousy at his popularity with the opposite sex.
"I want you, Piper Dunn."
"I suggest you look to your cheerleaders. I don't sleep around" (87).
Apart from this relationship that seems like it's doomed to generic failure before it even gets off the ground, the writing in this book is simply not good.
If I have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other, the devil's winning, while the angel is wringing her hands, shushing me (55).
Does she also have an inner goddess?
I'm a firm believer in gay rights, but it's so not my thing (9).
This is after she jokes that her friend is hitting on her and tells her to stop. Ha ha, I made a gay joke! But I'm not gay. I'm not a homophobe, though! I have "I Kissed A Girl" on my iPod!
Seriously, why is this line even in here? It's offensive, and doesn't serve a purpose at all.
Tyler's legs are spread in that classic way males have of taking up their leg space and that of the person next to them (98).
So he sits like a douche.
I think the most offensive part of this book was this, though. There's this guy in the book named Fahrenbacher (or something like that), and at first he threatens to beat Piper up. He's shoving her into a locker when Tyler intervenes and the two duke it out while she's like, "Nooo, stooooop, guys. Don't fight over meeeee." When Fahrenbacher sees her making out with Tyler, he decides that there must be something to her under the nerd disguise and turns to sexual harassment instead.
There's a scene when she tells her friend Holly about what's going on.
"He's decided on a new method of torture for me. Instead of beating me up, he wants to"--I search for the right word: Seduce? Rape? Who knows. I settle on--"get to know me better."
[Holly] raises her eyebrows. "Won't Tyler love that?" (111)
Okay, first off...rape and seduction are not the same thing, and "getting to know you better" is not a euphemism for rape. Second of off, your friend just confessed that a guy is bothering her and she doesn't like it, and your first comment is a joke about how HER BOYFRIEND WILL BE JEALOUS? Did you learn your social skills from the comments section on Youtube, or what?
Then there's this line:
I can almost smell the testosterone rolling off the both of them (130).
It's not the most terrible line in the book, but I was literally just having a discussion with someone about bad YA and NA and she said that all bad YA and NA have the phrases "overwhelming masculinity" and in male-male showdowns, "testosterone rolled off the two of them."
I just thought that was funny-sad.
Okay, so spoilers follow from here on out because this book gets real fucked up this fast, and in order to illustrate how fucked up, I'm going to have to spoil some stuff.
Piper lives on the beach, and notices that a sketchy boat keeps coming around and kidnapping dolphins. She manages to stop them the first couple times but then she gets kidnapped and taken to a laboratory run by an evil scientist.
The scientist is excited to learn that she is one of his experiments that got away, and introduces her to two other dolphin creatures, a girl and a boy. I can't remember the girl's name, but the boy is named Joel, and he and Piper make out a bunch of times because he's sooooooo hott.
Piper is drugged in this facility, and then she is strapped to a table and has some of her eggs harvested while the scientist laughs evilly. Then he informs her that he's going to impregnate her with another dolphin-human fetus and harvest her mutant babies because...there's money in it! Muahahahaha!
But before this can happen, Tyler crashes the base with his Navy Seal Uncle. (He also has an uncle who is in the mafia.) They rescue Piper (after Joel and Tyler have a testosterone battle), and leave the other two dolphin mutants there. Because...reasons. When they go back, they find out the lab has closed, and the scientist and his two dolphin mutant slaves are gone. Because sequels!
Piper and Tyler become a Thing, and Piper stops wearing her nerd clothes to school. She tells rapist Fahrenbacher that he should ask out another girl, and he says maybe he will. (OKAY? WHAT THE FUCK.) Now Piper is popular and happy, because her boyfriend doesn't care she has a blowhole.
When Charles Schulz died in 2000, a lot of people felt a pang right in the childhood. I know I did. Even though I was only ten at the time, I felt as though I had grown up with "that round-headed kid" and all his friends, because my dad had, and my dad had introduced me to the graphic-novels at a very young age.
Now that I have shared my cred with you, I would like to (briefly) discuss why I love Charlie Brown so much before I discuss WOODSTOCK: MASTER OF DISGUISE. The cool thing about Charlie Brown, and also the reason why it appeals to so many different age groups, is that it covers such a vast array of emotional states. Sometimes the Peanuts strips are demoralizing, almost hopeless. Other times, they're sweet, funny, cruel, mean-spirited, witty, or inspiring. Everything gets lampooned in here at some point, whether it's about love, politics, religion, friendship, or war.
WOODSTOCK: MASTER OF SURPRISE provides a pretty limited sample size, because Woodstock wasn't really one of the original main characters -- he was introduced later. All of these strips feature him and Snoopy and again, some are sweet, some are mean, and some are hilarious. All are cute as hell, though, and I found myself smiling as I paged through my e-reader and watched Snoopy ponder such serious issues as: Why do birds tell such unfunny jokes? Why is the fall from Head Beagle such a painful one, especially when your ex-secretary decides to write a tell-all memoir? Is falling in love with a snowflake actually meaningful? And so on, and so forth.
The best panels were Woodstock's little musical duels with Schroeder. Schulz could obviously read music, and the things he does with musical notation is quite clever. Watch out for those eighth notes, they've got a kick to them. Tee-hee.
You don't need to be a Peanuts fan to be able to enjoy these comics -- they work as standalones, and the best thing about Peanuts is that the characters are so consistent, you get a feel for everyone and who they are almost straight away. If you are a Peanuts fan, you should get this as a matter of principle. My one bone to pick is that seductive sticker on the cover. "Pull out poster," it whispers. Oh, Netgalley, you cruel being, you. Do you delight in torturing me, or what?
AGE OF EGGSTINCTION reads like someone decided to take a piece of crossover fan art and turn it into a full-length book.
The book starts out with a battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons in space. Insults are hurled. Shit goes down. And the Allspark goes flying into another dimension, where it somehow reaches the not so tranquil shores of Piggie Island.
When the pigs touch what is renamed in this universe as the "Eggspark," they are transformed into the Deciptihogs. As they test out their new arms and legs, the birds chasing them down are surprised to see that the pigs...suddenly aren't so piggy. They end up touching the Eggspark and are transformed into the Autobirds.
Maybe I'm just not the right audience for this book, but AGE OF EGGSTINCTION just seemed very lazy to me. All the characters are just Grimlock Bird or Shockwave Hog, and it seemed like something a fifth grader would do, if he was in charge of this crossover. "Look, Mommy! I drew Optimus Prime as a bird!" "Oh, and what did you call him, honey?" "...Optimus Prime Bird."
Look, this is a comic book, and I'm not expecting a Pulitzer here, obviously. But at least show some effort. Why not Optimus Peck? Or Porkwave? I'm just making this up off the top of my head.
This is pure cash cow, and doesn't even attempt to disguise it. If you're a fan of the Transformer/Angry Birds fandom, it might be worth it just to pick this up as a curiosity. But otherwise, I'd give it a miss.
HOLES was my favorite book as a kid. I don't think it would be unfair to say it was like THE HUNGER GAMES of the 90s; everyone had read it, or wanted to, and as far as survival stories go, this one was a doozy. Best of all, it holds up.
I know it's not fair to bring up an author's earlier works in reviews but I need to, because I want you to understand why I was so psyched to see Louis Sachar's newest book on Netgalley. All that childhood nostalgia flooded back, as I recalled staying up hours past my bedtime turning the pages to find out what happened to Stanley Yelnats, at the not-so-Camp Green Lake.
Now that I've read FUZZY MUD, I have come to several conclusions.
1. FUZZY MUD is not a book for hypochondriacs.
2. FUZZY MUD is a strange book, with an unclear target audience.
3. FUZZY MUD is not as good a book as HOLES.
4. FUZZY MUD is not a bad book.
This book is set in a private school. Tamaya is a fifth grader and Marshall is a seventh grader. They're not exactly friends, although they do walk home together. One day, after a run-in with a bully, Marshall declares that he knows a short cut...through the woods that they're supposed to avoid.
Interspersed with the Marshall and Tamaya storyline are "confidential" briefings from the government about a new substance called "biolene": a slime mold that has been genetically engineered to boost the fuel efficiency of gasoline. Moral ethics of creating a living creature only to burn it alive aside, there is a question of whether biolene is safe. The scientists claim it is (what the fuck, scientists, stop lying about whether things are safe or not), but as we all know, scientists are notoriously bad at determining whether something is hazardous or not, especially if a grant's involved. If science-fiction has a takeaway message, clearly, it is this.
Anyway, Tamaya and Marshall head into the woods -- the same woods the biolene factory is located in, as a matter of fact -- and they soon discover something...strange.
God, this was such an odd book. It was very short, which was a bit of a surprise, because the beginning is so slow that it really fits the more gradual exposition of a longer book. It screws up the pacing badly -- and noticeably -- making the middle and ending seem rushed by comparison.
There is also the question of audience. The characters in this book are about ten and twelve, but the writing style seems older...maybe more mid-teen. This isn't really the issue at hand because I'm a firm believer that books shouldn't be dumbed down for kids; this is the electronic age -- if a kid sees a word they don't understand, they can damn well look it up. However, I do wonder whether kids of this age will consider Monsanto-esque moral quandaries interesting from an entertainment standpoint. I'm guessing not, especially since this book gets pretty technical.
Another thing that bothered me was the lack of characterization. Tamaya is a stock good girl, with over-involved immigrant mother. Marshall is your typical coward-with-the-heart-of-gold (and is there a redemption arc maybe that involves him learning to overcome his cowardice through the device of overwhelming guilt? Maybeeeee). And Chad, the bully, is a clear sufferer of "I'm Bad Because Nobody Loves Meeeee."
Why is this an issue? Because I know Sachar can do better. I've read HOLES, where all the characters were memorable, flawed, and imperfect. It's a story that's stayed with me for over a decade, and was brilliantly written. So I was confused to see all of that virtually disappear in FUZZY MUD. You can do better, Mr. Sachar! I believed in you! How could you fail me like this?
FUZZY MUD isn't a bad book, but it is a disappointing one. If you've read HOLES, you probably want to approach this one with a grain of salt because they aren't even in the same arena quality-wise. It explores some interesting ideas and tells an okay story, but it's nothing to write home about, either. Carl Hiaasen writes a much better environmental story, and pretty much has the genre cornered.
A couple years ago, I watched a TV mini series with my family: Stephen King's Langoliers (1995). The premise is pretty good. A plane ends up flying into a hole in space time, landing unfortunate passengers in the desolated wasteland of yesterday. Food tastes like ash, fuel is useless, and something ominous is humming in the distance. It's creepy -- until you get to the end of the movie, and then realize that something ominous is just a bunch of flying purple testicles with teeth who look like they've escaped from an obscure Japanese porno. I believe my reaction was DAFUQ.
Anyway, this movie has led me to coin what I call "the Langolier effect" in horror movies. A big part of what makes horror movies scary is the fear of the unknown; it allows us to use our imaginations and jump to the worst-case scenario for us. When the Langolier effect occurs, there is too much exposition. A flashlight has been shone on the horror in question, revealing it to be, well...not so scary. In fact, often it's silly or lame.
*COUGH* Flying testicle monsters *COUGH*
THE FOLD suffers from the Langolier effect, which is a big part of why this book only gets a three star rating instead of a four or a five.
The premise is good. Mike Erikson is a genius who lives out his days teaching high school. He has a friend who works for the government who believes he is wasting his potential, but Mike has always turned down his offers of employment until now. A bunch of DARPA scientists have built a teleportation machine that really works. However, a thorny fortress of confidentiality clauses enmesh the project, and they are obdurately choosing to reveal nothing to their panel.
Mike becomes the liaison between both stubborn parties. His goals are to figure out if the teleportation machine is safe, and whether the scientists are doing anything suspicious. The scientists' canned responses certainly raise hairs, and so does the fact that the teleportation machine has a not-so-pure history. One of the animal test subjects seemed to have exploded during one run, and another human test subject went crazy shortly afterwards. The scientists continue to insist that it is safe, but when another human test goes horribly wrong, Mike realizes they've been hiding something dark and unpleasant from him all along...something that might end in death.
So obviously, the premise is cool. Tone-wise, it reminds me of THE MARTIAN, especially with the hard science and the dry-witted protagonist. I really wanted to like Mike; he's a cool guy, and the eidetic memory thing was pretty amazing. And while I did like Mike, he felt a bit bland as a character to me, kind of Marty Stu-ish. He didn't really have a lot of flaws, and everyone was always talking about what a genius he was, how underemployed, and all this stuff, and I was like, "wut."
THE FOLD is not a bad book -- in fact, it has some very interesting ideas and chilling moments -- but it wasn't the mind-blowing experience I desperately wanted it to be. Oh, God, there was this one twist that made me think the book was going to be a five-star read at one point...and then that ending happened and I wanted to shake the author and be like, "HOW COULD YOU FUCK THIS UP?"
If this were a debut, I think I might have been more lenient, because it makes a lot of the same errors that debut novels make -- uneven pacing, lackluster ending, watery love story, some characters being more fleshed out than others, etc. -- but it isn't, so I will be holding the book accountable for its flaws a little more harshly than I might have otherwise done.
I stand by what I said, though. I think people who liked THE MARTIAN will probably enjoy THE FOLD.
In the age of Netflix, Hulu, and instant streaming, people don't have to wait very long at all to see the movies they want to watch. Kids born post 2000 will never know the joy of going to the video rental store to check out a VHS cassette, judging the video based on the cheesy cover art, and then waiting for the video to rewind for several minutes because the last asshole wasn't kind.
Well, I did.
VHS: VIDEO COVER ART was just the pick-up I needed. I have the flu right now, so I have the aching muscles, runny nose, sore throat, the whole shebang. And, on top of that, I had to work the graveyard shift (although my boss was sooooo nice -- she made me soup, soup that I could eat despite my allergies!!!! she remembered!!! oh my God, I almost cried, it was such a nice thing she did).
I think I only saw one or two of the movies listed in here, because my parents were pretty strict about what I was allowed to watch growing up, but their cheese-tastic covers made me want to fix that now, as an adult. Cheesecake shots about, with lots of wet t-shirts and nipple action, and men with enough chest hair to make a shag rug. I felt embarrassed for some of them, because they were trying so hard. It's like when you see a teenager wearing skimpy or ridiculous clothes, and you want to give them a sweater or pull up their drooping pants, take away their AXE/Victoria's Secret spray, and give them a pat on the head and tell them that they don't need to do that to get attention.
The most prominent genres in here are bad cop movies, bad hard-boiled detective movies, bad horror movies, bad teen movies, bad exploitation movies, and a handful of bad karate movies and bad science-fiction movies.
FAIR GAME won me over because of the MOST DANGEROUS GAME/HOME ALONE aspects (including the same play on words), as well as the fact that it takes place in Australian wildlife preserve. FORTRESSfollows a similar theme, and also takes place in Australia, but it sounds more like LORD OF THE FLIES. FIRE AND ICE was made by the same guy who did the cartoon version of LOTR and looks like it follows the same high fantasy formula as one of my favorite 80s movies of all times, FLIGHT OF DRAGONS. And SAVAGE ISLAND, one of the aforementioned exploitation movies, with the woman in the torn swimsuit on the cover, just looks so bad, I have to watch it.
I think most of the movies in here probably fall under the "cult classic" umbrella, because they're so obscure and strange that they merit watching on that principle alone, or because they're so terrible that they're actually good -- or funny. Some of them seem halfway decent, and others look like things you would see on MS3K. All of them are a definite throwback to a bygone era that I am very sad to see go. Video rental stores were fun, and there was something to be said about delayed gratification.
Definitely recommend this book to 80s and 90s children, or people who are interested in that time period, or people looking to meander down a trashy neon-lit nostalgia lane.
Urban fantasy is a genre I used to love but now tend to steer clear from, because it is so overrun with tropes and cliches. There are only so many times you can read about vampires, werewolves, and witches in all the usual ways before you start to get bored.
OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS is a breath of fresh air in a stagnant genre; in addition to vampires, it also features more unusual supernatural creatures like skin-walkers (they're terrifying, holy shit), incubi and succubi, dragons, elves, ghosts, and Japanese spirits. This sounds like it could be overwhelming but it isn't -- the world building is slow and gradual.
Owl is a pretty cool female MC, too. She's an ex-archaeology student turned antiquities thief, after she was betrayed by her professor a few months before graduation. She's also a female gamer. Her abilities have made her pretty (in)famous, and one day she's kidnapped and brought to a Japanese dragon who wants her to retrieve and ancient and priceless object that's also -- guess what? -- super dangerous and might just harbor enough power to take over the world. And if she doesn't retrieve it, he will eat her. Nom.
The setting gets an additional bonus point because who doesn't love a book set partially in Japan? Also, Vegas in a Japanese-themed casino (the titular "Japanese Circus"), Berkeley, and Bali. The locations are colorful and fun and add a lot of spice to the storyline.
The love interests are also yummy. I don't normally find blonde men attractive, but Rynn won me over. Oricho, with his dragon tattoo, tortured past, and strong, stoic act is also pretty sexy. Even Alexander, with his I-tolerate-you-but-I-want-to-eat-you school of flirting was fun. Unfortunately, all the sex scenes in this book are fade-to-black, but I guess if you don't feel comfortable writing them it's better to omit than to write them and fail miserably at it. Still disappointing, though. ;(
Tone-wise, OWL is a bit odd because it has a snarky (often to the point of being childish) MC who doesn't know when to keep her mouth shut. There's a lot of humor and sometimes it was a hit and had me snickering, and sometimes it just made me roll my eyes. On the other hand, there is some seriously dark shit in this book, and while Charish might shy away from the sex scenes, she doesn't shy away from gore -- and it can get pretty gnarly for UF, which I guess makes sense. It's hard not to be gnarly when you are writing about creatures who think of humans as being synonymous with dinner.
Owl can definitely be annoying at times, and I think she's probably the biggest peeve of the people who didn't like this book. I can understand that. However, the other characters do call her on her shit, whether it's her hypocrisy, her childish stubbornness, or her often sociopathic dissociation, and Owl does undergo some character development throughout the course of the book, so that is good as well.
The best character by far is Captain, Owl's Egyptian Mau. BECAUSE KITTY. Also, he hunts vampires. Normally, animal sidekicks annoy me in books, but I'm willing to make an exception just this once. #TeamCaptain
OWL AND THE JAPANESE CIRCUS has its share of flaws, but I feel in this case that the good clearly outnumbers the bad. Decent plotting, interesting characters and world building, a shocking twist, and a semi-cliffhanger all make this book into a surprisingly memorable debut.
When a woman is discovered in a junk yard as a bruised and broken mess, the town of Neptune is scandalized -- especially when her testimony suggests that she was raped in the ritzy Neptune Grand by one of the hotel staff. The NG hires Veronica Mars to investigate the woman's claims, to save the hotel.
Veronica Mars always does a thorough and ethical job, but she is sympathetic towards the victim, Grace Manning. Especially since local law enforcement seems to have written her off. Lamb especially is a disgusting piece of work who thinks nothing of planting evidence on people he wants to convict, and at one point even claims that prostitutes can't be raped -- that raping a woman who sells sex for money is tantamount only to shoplifting. Ass.
As Veronica investigates the case, things quickly become more complicated than she thought. Grace Manning has a secret life, and all the male suspects have plenty to hide. And her personal life takes a turn for the thorny as well, with the advent of an unexpected funeral.
I really enjoyed this book. I thought MR. KISS AND TELL was very decently plotted and breezily written. Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham did an excellent job. I learned so many new words because of their amazing vocabulary, and I was really impressed by all the wit and pop culture references. I haven't read any of the other books in this series unfortunately, but now I really, really want to. It took me back to my Nancy Drew reading adventures as a kid in the best possible way.
Rape is a focal issue in this book, but I felt like the book dealt with it sensitively.
MENSWEAR DOG PRESENTS is a pretty fun book. Just in case seeing a Shiba Inu in menswear wasn't motivation enough for you, this book also contains some really useful tips about the do's and don't's of fashion, from how to wear basic pieces to how to care for clothes to how to remove stains.
Reading MENSWEAR DOG reminded me of William Wegman's work with his own Weimaraners, and that brought a rosy sense of nostalgia as I turned through the pages. I think Shiba Inus are a lot cuter than Weimaraners, and the dog's expressions really add to the compositions.
There isn't a lot to say about MENSWEAR DOG because the premise is pretty self-explanatory. As far as novelty books go, this one is more useful than most. I think this would make a great gift for a guy going off to college or a young professional who is first starting out -- especially if he likes dogs.
Overall, I quite enjoyed MENSWEAR DOGS. I hope Fung decides to make one for women!
I wrote a negative review of this book, and then was asked to remove it by the publisher. So I wrote a placeholder review explaining why I wOH MY GOD.
I wrote a negative review of this book, and then was asked to remove it by the publisher. So I wrote a placeholder review explaining why I was taking the review down and a copy of the (rude) email I received asking me to remove it because the publisher seemed to be asking only negative reviewers to remove their reviews.
And my review was DELETED?
Thanks. Thanks a lot for that. :|
So I'm editing this review YET AGAIN. This time it will be about the book, in order to satisfy Goodreads' rules. But it will not be a full, comprehensive review in order to satisfy the publisher's. Hopefully it won't be removed this time...
Anyway, I thought this book was terrible. I'm not allowed to tell you why until March 31st, but it was not a good book. The characters and their actions were deplorable, to the point where I was unable to get through the whole thing.
I liked this author's earlier works, but now I get the impression that there's just no effort being put into these books. With WHERE SEA MEETS SKY, both characters were caricatures who had the emotional depth of mirrors, and I got the feeling that KH was appropriating nerd and geek culture to capitalize on what's popular, instead of doing that complicated and interesting subculture justice.
I suppose my biggest issue with books like these is how we're supposed to believe a guy is decent just because he has a big d*** and puts the heroine on a pedestal while simultaneously debasing all other women who preceded his current lay. I don't know about you, but I don't think that's sexy at all.
I'm a sucker for revenge-based romance novels. The love-hate dynamic just appeals so strongly to me. That's why I was so psyched to get my hands on THE DUKE'S CAPTIVE initially.
Ian Wentworth was kidnapped and held hostage in a dungeon for five weeks as a young man. Two of the three women involved in his kidnapping have met their comeuppance, with one in an insane asylum and the other dead. However the third has escaped his clutches until now. When Wentworth finds out that she is recently widowed, he decides that he will be the cause of her ruin. What he doesn't expect is how beautiful she is, and how much he wants to get his bone on. But surely that can be worked into his revenge.
Viola Bennington-Jones is an artist with secrets of her own. One of these secrets is that she is a famous erotic artist who publishes her work under a male pseudonym. She is justifiably frightened when Wentworth comes back into her life, because, as an artist and a mother, she has so much to lose. And Wentworth won't stop until he makes her feel all the fear and pain that he underwent in captivity. But how much does he really remember? And is it true?
DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN. DUN.
Okay, so this is one of those books that is heavy on the miscommunication. If Ian and Viola had stopped to hash things out for a second, this story would be redundant. But instead, THE DUKE'S CAPTIVE relies on the premise of big secrets to keep things moving. Why was Ian captured? Was he raped? Will Viola be revealed as an erotic artist? Will Ian rape her? WILL SHE BE RUINED?
THE DUKE'S CAPTIVE had so much promise...and yet, I feel as if the author was unwilling to go as dark as she should have. Every time the story started to go down the dark and bitter path of revenge, she pulled a U-ie, determined that everything stay romantic and fluffy and redemptive.
I'm sorry, but when the hero kidnaps the heroine, ties her up, and threatens to rape her a couple dozen times before giving her dub-con oral and fellatio I don't think you can go the fluffy route. Half-assing it just makes you look like a weenie with questionable taste in men. You can either go fluffy or you can go dark, but attempting to combine the two almost always yields disastrous results.
I made it to the end, but I was skimming a little for the last thirty pages. So disappointing. :(
This is one instance where the title definitely suits the book. TWISTED is very twisted, and graphic, and violent, and shocking, and, at times, a bit Sade-ian, verging on torture porn. TWISTED is about the sex industry and Smirnova doesn't shy away from that -- in addition to gratuitous amounts of sex, there's also sex toys, anal play, scat (1 & 2), blood play, several instances of rape, drug use, and descriptive passages of what it's like being a prostitute.
By now, I think you all know how I feel about most new adult and erotic books on the market (i.e. I hate them). They're all carbon copies of one another and don't try anything new or daring, too afraid to deviate from the standard formula.
What made me read TWISTED? This little doozy on the author's profile:
"Lola’s work is inspired by real-life events..."
Holy shit, really? REALLY?
Well, all I can say is that I can't even imagine what kind of real-life events inspired this book. I really hope they weren't as dark and awful as the ones that the main character, Julia, experienced, but man. Overcoming something like that & writing a book about it? Now that is the very definition of strength.
TWISTED is set in the Ukraine. In addition to being a novel setting, the author talks about the lingering effects of communism and what they have done to her country. There isn't a lot of opportunity for upward mobility. In fact, there isn't a lot of opportunity - period.
Julia is really tempted when her two sisters come back and spin tales of easy money. All you have to do is - wait for it - have sex for money. But Julia's greed is her weakness (and she succumbs to it multiple times). She and her sisters go to Luxembourg and start prostituting themselves.
Julia is blonde and slim, and finds herself making money easily and quickly. But beneath the surface, she's quite naive, and ends up getting drugged by a pervert and raped several times. She's traumatized by the incidents and does learn from them (sort of), but I think Smirnova does a pretty good job of showing how these incidents really aren't the woman's fault - it's the man's for going against the agreed terms, and taking advantage. Moreover, Smirnova also shows (in the book) that prostitutes really get the short end of the stick when such things happen because nobody believes that they can be raped. An asshole character in MR. KISS AND TELL sums it up best when he says, "But isn't that shoplifting, not rape?"
At one point, Julia goes to Turkey and here the book takes another interesting turn as Smirnova talks about the paradox of Muslim men's beliefs when they use prostitutes (scorn for indecent behavior, and a belief that women must guard their virtue, versus actually seeing how hot the prostitutes are and wanting them - according to Inna). Turkey is one of the most liberal Muslim countries, but Julia encounters all sorts of problems here that illustrate the inherent sexism. Including...more rape.
As I said before, TWISTED is very graphic and there were several moments where I had to put this book down because it was all too much. TWISTED makes FIFTY SHADES OF GREY look like two little kids having a tea party while pretending to be married. It is probably the most graphic thing that I have ever read, and I'm not quite sure how I feel about that.
The writing in TWISTED does have an odd quality to it. There are moments where the writing breaks pace and seems a bit out of character, and some of the narrative doesn't quite fit. There is a definite "indie" feel to the writing but rather than detracting from the prose, the flaws are endearing and give the book a more honest feel - if that makes sense. One of the other reviewers of this book said it had the vibe of a "tell all memoir," and I can definitely see that. It feels...authentic. And since at least parts of TWISTED may be a bit "thinly-veiled memoir" themselves, this makes sense.
Julia is an interesting, very flawed character. There were moments when I was shaking my head at her stupidity, but I could understand being poor and desperate and wanting a chance at easy money. I was a little surprised that she didn't contract an STD though, from all that unprotected sex. I'm reading a memoir of Las Vegas prostitutes right now, and even they had issues despite wearing condoms regularly, so this was a bit jarring. It seemed unrealistic. (But what do I know?)
Overall, I liked TWISTED a lot more than I thought I would - and considering that this is a genre I usually don't like, with a subject that breached all my comfort zones, that is saying something.
If you like really dark erotica without any sort of romance, this is the book for you.
I will definitely be keeping my eye out for the sequel!
I loved TOMBOY, because it was poignant and real, and because it questioned gender roles, and what it really means to be a girl and happy. I was a bit of a tomboy growing up, and I'm still not exactly super girly, so there a lot of things in Liz Prince's graphic memoir that I could really relate to.
ALONE FOREVER made me do a jig, because I anticipated a rehashing of that reader-writer simpatico. Not only do I know what it's like to be a tomboy, I also know what it's like to be alone forever. I'll be single this Valentine's Day, and I'll be perfectly honest -- I'm shit at dating. I'm socially awkward and shy, and I'd rather hide in my bedroom than pick up men at bars or (gasp) go to parties and be forced to be social.
So yeah, I was excited about ALONE FOREVER.
Now that I've read it, however, I'm a little confused about what it was trying to say. I mean, TOMBOY had a message, and that message was that being yourself can be hard sometimes, but it's infinitely more satisfying in the long run. I'm not quite sure what ALONE FOREVER is trying to say. Have cats? (I own two.) Be attracted to men with big bushy beards? (I can't...I'm sorry, but I can't. No.) Be rude and sarcastic to strangers? (Tempting, but no.)
ALONE FOREVER is a collection of strips about being single, being attracted to men who aren't attracted to you, being too intimate with your cats, lamenting past relationships and dating experiences and wishing you weren't single. It's relatable, but not in a fun way, and some of the panels are so weird that they aren't even funny.
Also, something weird was going on with my copy. The only viewing format that worked was "fit page." If I tried to zoom, the pictures would shrink instead, and since Liz Prince's handwriting isn't very neat, I spent most of the time I was reading this squinting like a demented old cat lady.
I'm not really sure what to make of this book, although releasing it around Valentine's Day was probably good marketing. A lot of single people will be able to relate to this, although I'm not sure they'd want to...
Most of the infographics and comics in this book are taken from Ryoko Iwata's website, "I Love Coffee" (en.ilovecoffee.jp).
While I was reading, it took me a moment to place why these illustrations looked so familiar -- then I realized that I'd seen them on the Oatmeal's (Matthew Inman's) website. (I think he's actually Iwata's boyfriend?) Unfortunately, he only seems to be credited for the comic strip in the back, "If Coffee Was My Boyfriend."
The summary of the book on Goodreads pretty much admits that COFFEE GIVES ME SUPERPOWERS "includes the most popular pieces on the site," which is book lingo for commercially licensed rehashing, and is only "25 percent new, original material that is available only in this book." Which would be, I guess, 20 pages, since this book is only about 80 pages long.
COFFEE GIVES ME SUPERPOWERS is a cute idea, but it isn't particularly funny or noteworthy. The illustrations are charming (I love the Oatmeal a lot), and I learned some interesting facts about my favorite beverage, but I'm really not sure why it warranted an entire book.
I was reading HACK/SLASH last night (never a wise decision when it comes to horror) and ended up having some interesting dreams (read: nightmares) about monsters.
If you play video games, you probably know that hack n' slash is a video game where you basically go around killing (or hacking and slashing) people/monsters/things. So in that sense, it's a clever and appropriate title, because that's what the characters in HACK/SLASH are doing. 'Hack' also the last name of the female main character, Cassie Hack.
The premise of HACK/SLASH is pretty tired as far as graphic novels go. Monsters used to rule the world, worshiping their monster god. But then humans -- cavemen back then -- managed to outsmart them, kill the god, and lock them away in the bowels of the earth.
But now there's a revival movement going on, and there's a monster bad guy whose name I forgot who thinks he's found the secret to awakening the monster god and taking over the earth.
Cassie Hack was a monster slayer but then she quit the business because something bad happened and also because it was just too much. Now she's a bounty hunter, hunting down and hauling in different kinds of monsters. She's doing this when she meets Delroy, one of the main characters, who's also a monster hunter. He wants her to return to the trade because he knows the monsters are planning on awakening their god soon and it freaks him the fuck out.
There's also a boy prodigy named Ocky who has a similar history to Cassie and reminds her of someone she used to know a long time ago who died (obviously).
HACK/SLASH is cliche, but the action is decent, the drawings are decent, and the characters are decent. Not great, but decent. I did like the fact that Cassie is a lesbian, and that it isn't done in a stupid over-the-top way. No, it's very low-key and comes across as a natural part of who she is, rather than a contrived one, and I can appreciate that. It's nice to see diversity in fiction.
She's also a pretty kick-ass character, not gonna lie. Most of the hacking and slashing is done by Cassie, and when the men in this story get in trouble, she's the one who saves them.
I would definitely recommend HACK/SLASH to people who like pulpy, violent graphic novels with fantasy/sci-fi elements like WALKING DEAD, and don't care if the book they're reading doesn't have a lot of emotional content (because this doesn't). If you're a girl and want to see more bad-ass females representing, then you might want to give HACK/SLASH a try for that reason alone.
Man, I am so behind on my ARCs. In between my two jobs, and working on my latest novel, all I want to do is sleep. But my New Year's Resolution was to read more, and I'm behind enough on my Goodreads challenge as is, so here we go.
HALFWAY PERFECT was a pleasant surprise and is probably one of the better new adult books I've ever read. Usually, books about celebrities or models make me want to run the other way, but the summary for this one caught my eye.
Eve Castle used to be a rising star. But she crashed back to earth, along with her dreams, when her relationship with her agent (never a good idea) ended badly, forcing her to abandon a shoot with a big-name designer that rhymes with Poochie. Now she's going to Columbia University under a different name, where she plans on majoring in photography.
Her internship actually leads her to a modeling photo shoot, which is how she meets Alex.
Alex -- how do I even begin to describe Alex? He's a character you would actually love to have as your boyfriend. He's swoon-worthy, caring, just confident enough to seem a little cocky although not enough to come across as an asshole. Eve ends up liking him after they talk for a while and she realizes that he's not a big-headed jerk.
Unfortunately, Alex can't really date anyone at the moment because his latest campaign involves a painfully underage fourteen-year-old French girl named Elana, and they're supposed to be pretending to go out in order to boost their popularity, as well as the credibility of their couples' campaign.
You would think that this would open the door to many opportunities of slut-shaming, but this is not the case. Alex and Eve both treat Elana very well. There is pretty much no slut-shaming in this book at all. Even when Alex ends up meeting with his ex-girlfriend at one point, he treats her with respect and doesn't make comparisons between her and Eve, which is pretty much amazing and made me fall for him all the harder as a love-interest because oh my god, a nice love interest, what.
I found that the love story was done very well; it didn't happen all at once, and unfolded the way you would expect a romance to unfold. The dialogue was funny and poignant by turns. I liked the way the abusive relationship in this book was portrayed, and also how it was resolved. I liked how the parent figures in this book were flawed, but genuinely seemed to care about the people they were supposed to care about (with one glaring, ugh-worthy exception).
And what surprised me the most -- I really liked the way photography and modeling were introduced in this book. Photography is a trope that is overused in new adult and young adult fiction, because it's a cheap way to make your female character seem artsy and quirky and different without doing lots of legwork. But I liked the way it was done here, as well as Eve's interactions with her professor, who was also a professional photographer. And I liked the way the lighter -- and darker -- sides of the modeling industry were done, too. I guess the co-author, Mark Perini, used to be a model, and his contributions really shaped the story in a positive way, and gave an overused trope a unique, fresh feel.
Basically, I really liked HALFWAY PERFECT. It was a nice, fluffy read about two flawed individuals who learn to love themselves and, after doing so, each other. I think the loubunny will like this one.
I've always found British mysteries to be the literary equivalent of a kid stamping on an anthill: something terrible happens in a quiet, organized community, and the enjoyment comes from watching this terrible thing dissolve the community into turmoil and fear. Run little ants, run!
A SMALL DECEIT takes place in a small town, where the main characters are a judge's wife, her friend/housekeeper, a rapist and murderer, and the woman the rapist/murderer dupes into letting him board with her. There are some side characters, as well, and minor characters who also get to narrate, but they aren't as important and I've forgotten their names.
The small deceit that gets the story rolling is that one day, at a bed and breakfast, the rapist/murder, who is staying there under a pseudonym, realizes that the judge who put him away is also staying there...under a pseudonym. The rapist/murderer figures that this judge must have something to hide and takes the opportunity to attempt to blackmail him and scare his wife, while also planning out his next potential rapes and murders. He's pretty sickening.
I think my favorite character was the judge's wife. She was a bit bland, but I figured that was probably from the coldness of her proper British marriage. Yorke wrote a really compelling portrait of love gone cold, and Felicity's despair and ennui made her a character who was easy to relate to. It is hinted, at one point, that the judge, her husband, may have raped her in the context of their marriage (i.e. a wife can't say "no"), but Yorke never really elaborates on this and the plot disappears, as so many other potential plots and characters in this novel.
I think this review actually sums up the characters and the plots better than I did. A SMALL DECEIT doesn't really have much in the way of plot, besides these two men's meeting becoming a cataylst that initiates the terrible things that happen in this story. It's a largely character-driven novel, and since so many of the characters are watery and tend to disappear once they've said their piece, this doesn't really work. Multiple POV stories have never been a favorite of mine, especially when the characters blur together like this.
Also: for whatever reason, there were a lot of typos in my edition. Ann Green became "Anne Green" and I'm pretty sure "Waite House" became "White House" at least twice. *shrug*
A SMALL DECEIT is a quick read, but not a memorable one. As far as mysteries go, this one is pretty weak. Those 200 pages dragged a lot more than they should have.