another review in which i toe the line of what is "too much" content to share. but with books like these, i always feel justified because a) there's a damn tumblr* where you can see these things for yourselves without buying the book (and it's a particularly good tumblr in terms of interactivity and eye-candy) and b) most of you people are going to flip through this in a bookstore while you wait for your movie to start or the downpour to let up without shelling out the ca$h for it. since i am the one who shells out the ca$h for these books, i feel perfectly entitled to share my favorites. there are 56 of these, and i have left many horrifying/hilarious examples outta the review, selecting a mere 17. but you do have to see some of these, for sure.
so, this is a super-high-concept humor book. it's playing off of those popsicles with the corny jokes printed on their sticks, where you had to eat the whole popsicle (risking brain freeze in your haste to discover how DO you stop a bull from charging??**) to get to the punch line. but with these, the "punch lines" are more sobering, more honest, more bleak.
definitely a fun book, if you have a dark streak or you want to enjoy jokes without getting diabetes.
* which includes "jokes deemed too offensive to publish" (i'll wait for you to come back)
** take away his credit cards["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
this is my second short story by that martian guy everyone keeps talking about and maybe his novel is incredible, but neither of these stories have imthis is my second short story by that martian guy everyone keeps talking about and maybe his novel is incredible, but neither of these stories have impressed me. i'm still going to read The Martian, but it's just so easy to click a link and read a short story in between emailing and writing reviews - MUCH easier than trying to squeeze a 300 page book into this intimidating stack of things i have foolishly promised to read.
this is one of those gimmicky stories whose entire impact hinges on a twist.
at the end of the story, you find this:
Author’s Note: Now read it again.
to which i have added in my mind
Author’s Note: Now read it again. SO YOU CAN SEE HOW CLEVER I WAS THERE
which, i just read it, dude. it's like a page long. i remember what happened, i see what you did - there's no need for me to read it again with the insight gained by the reveal.
it's just not as clever as it thinks it is. it reads like some sort of writing workshop exercise; "write a story from the POV of a dog," "write a story in which a feeling or mood is personified," "write a story with a twist ending." those exercises are meant to stretch the creative muscles and work through the mechanics of different modes of storytelling and narrative expression. but i don't wanna read someone else's homework. and that's what this feels like.
i don't think i'm gonna click on any more story links from this guy. unless you people tell me there's a really really good one. please do not lead me astray....more
He held a wet palm to her cheek. "I don't want you getting hurt."
"Everybody gets hurt," she said. "You know that."
this isn't the most "me" of all bookHe held a wet palm to her cheek. "I don't want you getting hurt."
"Everybody gets hurt," she said. "You know that."
this isn't the most "me" of all books, but i can definitely see its appeal for people who enjoyed books like Beautiful Creatures or The Night Circus or other stories featuring star-crossed lovers from feuding families with a fantasy/magical slant.
i snagged this one from netgalley because i liked the cover, i'd been hearing good things about it, and i've had good luck with circussy books so far this year (Church of Marvels, The Book of Speculation). plus, a boy with feathers growing under his hair?? that made me recall the heartbreaking feather-based magical realism of The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, so i was sold! but this one definitely falls heavy on the "romance" side of the genre-spectrum, which is not a side i have ever been thrilled to find myself.
but if that's your bag, you may enjoy this one.
it's about two families: the french-romani corbeaus and the spanish palomas (avian imagery abounds), who are competing groups of traveling performers, independent of a circus or carnival. the corbeaus don giant wings constructed of wire and peacock feathers and climb trees and dance through the branches like bird-fairies while the palomas wear iridescent tails and perform in the water as sirenas, or mermaids. the families are extremely insular and superstitious and they each have specific genetic anomalies - the corbeaus grow feathers at the base of their hairline while the palomas have a scattering of scales somewhere on their bodies.
the two families have been at odds ever since an event twenty years in the past resulted in a death from each family; deaths each family blamed on the other. their feud has been sustained for all these years, with each generation being cautioned against physical contact with their enemies - to touch a member of the other family, or in some cases, to be touched by something the family owns, is to become cursed, unclean, and measures have to be taken to cleanse the taint.
-Fighting was the only safe way to touch a Paloma. Half this family believed if they ever let a Paloma brush their arm or bump their shoulder, they'd wither and die like wildflowers in July sun. But fighting was safe. The rage made it true and good. The anger and honor of defending this family shielded them like a saint's prayer. Hitting and kicking were safe. Anything else could bring sickness.
-Lace knew the danger of touching a Corbeau. Her abuela said she'd be better off petting a rattlesnake. But these feathers were not the Corbeaus' skin. They didn't hold the same poison as a Corbeau's body.
sabotage has also occurred over the years - petroleum jelly smeared on tree branches or nets placed in the water, which have resulted in injuries on both sides.
so what happens when a paloma girl and a corbeau boy meet and fall in love? why, this book is what happens.
almendro is the town where their conflict began, and it is the sole point of overlap between the families' tour route each year. it is in this town where fate puts cluck corbeau in the path of lace paloma. neither of them realize at first that they are from enemy camps, but once they do, it is too late - sparks have flown, attraction been cemented. both cluck and lace already had tricky relationships with the rest of their families (cluck much more so) and this relationship, when it is discovered, further complicates their standings within their families. sides are taken, accusations fly, and secrets kept for twenty years are exposed. the prominent themes are loyalty and pride, family and love, and the way grudges can be sustained and the past manipulated and ingrained into family lore to justify animosity.
each chapter opens with an aphorism in either french or spanish, translated into english below. the novel itself is peppered with french and spanish phrases, also largely untranslated. naturally, i loved the frenchy bits - both the language and the little jabs at my peeeeeeeople:
-…Lace's mother told her that tourists probably couldn't even take their children to the Corbeaus' show. "They're French," she said. "I bet they take their clothes off halfway through."
"You're blushing," she said. "I thought you were French."
"Not that kind of French."
the romance elements are more strongly developed than the magical ones - i still don't really understand WHY cluck has feathers or what lace's mermaid-scales do, other than "that's how this particular family is identified." neither the feathers nor the scales have magical powers that enable the families to perform their acts - they still need to construct theatrical elements to wow the crowds and they can't fly or breathe underwater, so their presence is strictly cosmetic and narratively extraneous, especially since they go to such great lengths to conceal these marks.
the palomas …used …plastic coins, sheer as beach glass, to cover their birthmarks. Their escalas were not some spectacle to be displayed in the show. Apanchanej, the river goddess who had blessed them with their love for water, had given them these marks, and they were not to flaunt them.
while …the blond Corbeaus coated their dark feathers in flour, to hide them. The show was all costumes and peacock feathers, lights hung in trees, tightrope walking. La magie of their bodies did not belong to the gadje, the people who were not like them.
there's no reason this story couldn't have been told without those elements, except that it adds a little fantasy zest to the love story.
and the love story itself is sweet, if you are a fan of romance, but there's such an overemphasis upon smells and tastes, especially of salt, it started to annoy me. everything is salt. if you don't believe me, here is a sampling.
He left the taste of black salt on her mouth. The woody flavor of charcoal. The sugar and acid of citrus peel. The soft metal of iron.
she has a preternaturally sophisticated palate, this one.
later, …the taste of violet-black salt still under her tongue. and They carried the violet and ash scent of black salt. and Her tail reminded him of raw pink salt. and The metal-and-earth scent of violet-black salt. and The black salt smell of his hair and sweat. and She wanted to remember how he smelled, the salt and the cottonwood bark.
oh my god, enough with the salt already!!
there's also a repetitive emphasis on white and black, la magia negra/la magie noire, crow and dove. i'm not sure why there was so much bird imagery on the paloma side, since their performance has nothing to do with birds or flight. or why mclemore didn't just use a white aquatic bird like a swan if she wanted to get all birdy. unless "cisne" is not a credible surname.
but that's just me being complainy. i did enjoy a lot of the writing, especially when it was focused on the fact that these two characters were so damaged, physically and emotionally. i thought this was lovely:
It hurt, his hands on her burns. It stung like a hot shower, pins of water and steam stabbing in. She was ready for it. The sting reminded her she was a body knitting itself back together. It was why she liked his hands on her. His wrecked fingers knew how to handle something ruined.
and overall, it's well-written, but i value strong world-building over fantasy romance, so this one wasn't my particular cuppa. romance fans - clamber aboard, fantasy fans - catch the next one....more
this is good, solid, splattery horror that also playfully takes a meta-step back from itself to poke fun at the conventions of the horror genre and atthis is good, solid, splattery horror that also playfully takes a meta-step back from itself to poke fun at the conventions of the horror genre and at its own content. it's a collection of linked stories, but there's an overarching narrative holding them together, so they aren't really standalones.
it takes place in the british town of kramusville, on a - yes - on a dark and stormy night. fitz and paul are on their way to an important conference when their car breaks down. they cross a spooky and decrepit old bridge complete with unsettling noises and possible apparitions (doing the classic, "was that? nahh, couldn't be" brush-off that is required of all participants in horror stories) and find themselves in a ghost town that nonetheless is where they are meant to catch their train. cellphone reception being spotty and no train available until morning, they are forced to wait out the storm and pass the time at the finger inn, where they can drink some beers and relax.
but there will be no rest in kramusville, only unspeakable horror and unease. muahahahaaaaaaaaa
at least there's beer.
the pub is deserted except for the creepiest bartender ever, and a man sitting in the shadows known as "the bastard drunk." and for the price of a drink, the bastard drunk will share the stories of kramusville; all the urban legends and haunting deaths that have plagued the town for years.
which deal our two friends accept gladly, as waiting-room entertainment.
and the stories roll offa the bastard drunk, each more horrific than the last. but fitz and paul are a tough crowd, and fitz isn't buying what the bastard's selling:
Fitz took a sip of his drink, held it in his mouth for a moment, then swallowed with a frown. “Are the lights going to fail in every tale you tell us?” The Bastard eyed him curiously. “The fuck is that supposed to mean?” “The lights on the train flickered, the lights in the corridor flickered; we’re not stupid, Bastard. We’re very aware of the suspense you’re trying to create, but there must be a different cliché device up your sleeve.”
which is a nice little giggle. fitz continues to challenge the bastard's storytelling abilities:
“Are you callin’ me a liar?”
“I’m just questioning your abilities as a storyteller, that’s all. You’re trying to sell us these tales as fact, and yet you’re expecting us to believe the impossible. Now, I’m willing to suspend disbelief when it comes to dialogue; there’s no way of you knowing what conversations took place behind closed doors. I’m even ready to accept character backstories; maybe you know for sure about Polly’s childhood trauma, maybe you don’t, but adding depth to your protagonist is never a bad thing…But you’re too explicit, too definite…the not knowing for sure, the supernatural becoming an almost rational explanation for the unknown; that’s where the fear lies, Bastard."
i appreciate this device, the taking the reader out of the story to address the very nature of storytelling and asking the kinds of questions a rational person asks when confronted with horror stories. because for the most part, the bastard's tales are very traditional slumber party stories: the woman traveling alone late at night, the revenge from beyond the grave, the brainwashed children - it's all very conventional. and fitz continues to shoot them down and voice his disbelief and point to the weaknesses in the bastard's storytelling abilities, who in turn continues to defend them and it becomes an almost lighthearted respite alternating with all the gore.
but it's not lighthearted for long. as the stories and the arguments continue, the two worlds collide and the horror elements bleed into the the finger inn narrative as the bastard drunk reveals that he knows o so many details of fitz and paul's lives and that their story will one day be just like any other in his mind; a chilling tale used to terrify and delight some other hapless visitor to kramusville.
it's a fun experiment in horror writing. i enjoyed the referential winks and the overall structure - nothing beats the story-within-a-story setup in my opinion. the individual stories are also good, although as fitz points out, there are a lot of clichés in them. what he can't point out is that the "travelers who meet a spooky character on a spooky night and find themselves imperiled" is itself a cliché, but the reader doesn't need that spelled out for them.
do not mess with the bastard drunk, is my advice....more
As bad as this murder was - and it was bad - I knew it would also be explicable. Because, ultimately, they all are.
famous last words.
this is a betterAs bad as this murder was - and it was bad - I knew it would also be explicable. Because, ultimately, they all are.
famous last words.
this is a better-than-average crime novel. it's a british police procedural with psychological elements featuring detective inspector hicks, your typically confident investigator who is far enough along in his career that he's pretty sure he's seen it all and nothing can surprise him. his longtime partner, detective laura fellowes, thinks he's maybe a little too fond of jumping to conclusions - relying on statistics and probabilities and forming judgements on the basis of them. She considered it one of my greater failings, but we both knew it wasn't much of one, really, considering I generally ended up being right.
but when he suddenly finds himself confronted with a series of brutal and seemingly random murders and he is unable to rely upon the stolid dependability of statistics and probabilities, it's like starting over from scratch; like learning a new and unpredictable language with terrible risks.
after several bodies turn up with their faces completely obliterated by a hammer; victims who seem to have no connection to each other, a letter arrives addressed to hicks from the killer himself, taunting him with his claims that the murders will continue and will never be solved. obsessed with the illusion of randomness, the killer has devised a code even you won't be able to crack. A string for which the underlying pattern cannot possibly be discerned. at the mercy of his own code, the killer himself does not know where or when or who the victims will be.
which totally blows hick's mind.
and of course, he's got his own things going on in his personal life with an eight-months-pregnant wife at home with whom he has been having difficulties because of his reluctance towards fatherhood, and the challenges of this case are NOT helping that situation. plus - complicated secret backstory intensified by people from his past showing up and many ruminations about the existence of evil and fate. so - not a great headspace for hicks to have to relearn how to solve crimes.
despite the over-the-top natures of the murders, what i liked most about this were the realistic procedural elements. i enjoyed the behind-the-scenes and especially the more frustrating necessities of investigation - even though the detectives know that these crimes are being set in motion based on some random-seeming pattern, they still have to investigate each murder individually, just in case; interviewing family members and lovers and wasting a lot of time doing so.
in the killer's second letter, he seems to also be enjoying this aspect:
I was far too careful to allow you to trace my message, as I'm sure you will have discovered. You will find similar efforts have been taken with this one, although no doubt you will be compelled to check. That is one of the reasons I will stay ahead of you. You have too much to do, while I only have one thing.
the actual process used to make headway in solving seemingly unpredictable murders is fascinating - calling in a mathematician but allowed to tell her very few details, analyzing the difference between serial killers and mass murderers, despite knowing that these crimes display evidence of both types, the dance of withholding they have to do with the press while still wanting to keep the public safe - at every turn it seems that the typical investigative routes introduce new impediments to actually solving the crime.
"We only need him to make one mistake; that gets more likely with every murder. But the more he doesn't make one the busier we are and the harder it'll be to spot when he does. Perhaps he already has…And we're too lost in fucking paperwork to see it."
that's what worked best for me - the emphasis that crime-solving is not as glamorous or dramatic as it is typically portrayed.
In the movies, there'll be some sharp flash of insight that leads the detective to the culprit, but real life tends to be more mundane - and reassuringly so. The killer is often the first person you think did it, and he did it for the first reason you thought of. In the vast majority of other cases, you catch people through a shitload of hard work: processing the data and winnowing down the options. Flow-chart stuff, really.
because what's less romantic than a flow-chart?
the resolution/explanation was not completely convincing, but it's a really great read for people tired of reading the same old kinds of crime novels. it's got good turns and good energy, and i'm looking forward to reading more from this guy. you squeamish folks, though, be warned - animal and human carnage up the wazoo. if you do not like carnage in your wazoo, stay away....more
in which we discover the answer to the age-old question: Does Alice Cooper actually give a crap about anything?
okay, so i am going to give this book ain which we discover the answer to the age-old question: Does Alice Cooper actually give a crap about anything?
okay, so i am going to give this book a million stars for existing, but i can't say i enjoyed either the story or the artwork. i love alice cooper. is this known? well, i do. but i have a pretty hard cutoff point, and it is 1978, with the release of probably my favorite of his albums, From the Inside. along with Alice Cooper Goes to Hell*, it's a concept album, where the songs are connected to tell a story, which is just like chapters in a book and seven-year-old karen was BLOWN AWAY by this completely revolutionary way of presenting music. because seven year old karen loved books. nerd. and seven year old karen was approached by her daddy one day and he put these giant seventies headphones on her tiny little head and he played Millie and Billie for her (which may constitute child abuse in some states) but karen did not feel abused, she felt enlightened. this was music-as-performance, not unlike the 45 rpms of her little golden books. only much much bloodier. and from then on, i (because third person is lame) was smitten. i loved everything from the zappa/syd barrett weirdness of Pretties for You to the blood-splattered carnival of Welcome to My Nightmare. what i was responding to so favorably was his storytelling abilities and all the theatrical possibilities of rock and roll that would later lead me straight into the loving arms of queen, oingo boingo and the residents. there are some terrible songs on those early albums, sure, but the ones that are good are GREAT. and then the eighties came and everything started sounding the same and even young karen could identify a decline into self-parody when she heard it.
but so this book. this book is illustrated fanfic not unlike eighties alice cooper. it's just … cheesy. i was really hoping it would be loaded with references - little tips of little hats to the fans, and that expectation was titillated when page one offered the line a realm left unattended…but hardly uninhabited, which sounded like a nod to "I may be lonely, but I'm never alone" from I Never Cry, but may not have been. i was probably just seeing what i wanted to see. there are some references: kachina, jesse jane, jacknife johnny, nurse rozetta, "the quiet room", aemon price, who looks a bit like vincent price, etc, but they were unsubtle when i was hoping for easter eggs.
our dear alice leads a dual life. or maybe a treble life. he is a rockstar, yes, but he is also contractually obligated by the diabolical lucius black (of "clan black" - most lazily-named villains ever) to steal the souls of boy band members in vegas. he is also the "lord of nightmares," existing in an alternative-plane fantasy landscape, and he's kinda like a genie in a bottle, who can be summoned how, class?
and once he appears he is bound to his summoner for whatever purpose they choose, such as to teach young children lessons about bullying. and such.
and also to have tea parties
alice cooper loves tea parties.
he also loves tantrums
the book seems to know it's a little silly, and it rolls around a little in the cheese.
it can't even curse properly, instead using silly fake expletives like "holy craparoni" and "my darkened stars!" and these:
the worst of it is a villainous character who speaks in rhyme:
Cooper is bound. A new master he's found. We don't expect he would come easy. But from what we hear, that picture is clear and our stewardship would be considerably less cheesy.
there are some genuinely funny things, though: the nightmare lord discovers snapchat.
and this sad/funny part
and this weirdness, which came out of nowhere:
i thought some of the artwork was cool
because "pecked apart by birds" is definitely a nightmare
it's a pretty decent story about hubris and ambition and having the best stage show ever, and the life of a rockstar in this realm or the other - the fame and the waning of that fame. but it's still pretty silly.
and as soon as i reached the end of the story, i thought to myself, "someone should totally make a graphic novel of From the Inside."
well, be careful what you wish for. because i kid you not, also included in this collection is that very thing, which apparently has existed since 1979, unbeknownst to me.
oh, and it's terrible. it's the worst kind of hokey slapstick and greasy sexual innuendo with characters from other comics roaming through the background and puns and other cringey things. and for some reason, in this comic, veronica is a snake. which makes no sense. everyone knows veronica is a dog.
not my favorite book, but i enthusiastically applaud the endeavor.
here is your alice cooper listening station, so you can hear some of my favorites:
this is not on From the Inside, but it totally could have been locked up next door.
* and i wouldn't fight you if you said Welcome to My Nightmare was also a concept album, although that one might technically be a rock opera. all i know is that it made one hell of a stage show. that i saw on teevee, not live like my daddy did, alas....more
until the very end of this book, i was prepared to give it two stars. it's not terrible, it just reads like the YA from my youth and not like the moreuntil the very end of this book, i was prepared to give it two stars. it's not terrible, it just reads like the YA from my youth and not like the more complex and enticing-to-adults YA that we are blessed with nowadays. the characters are wooden, the dialogue is unconvincing, and the sequence of events is more about making sure point a gets to point b than telling a naturalistic story. but i definitely think it's a book that will appeal to teens, particularly that crucial subset of reluctant readers. the things that make it ho-hum to a growed-up reader are the very things that will attract readers who aren't looking to get bogged down in details and just want a plot-driven adventure.
john and matt are two seventeen-year-olds who come from the working class neighborhood of woodhull, queens. from my computer here in woodside queens, i fist-bump. represeeeeent! they are spending the summer working in montauk, where the wealthy come to play. while they are selling ice creams and sodas at exorbitantly jacked-up prices on a private beach, matt meets a lovely girl named driana. she is from the upper east side, and she is lounging with her cousin estefania and stef's boyfriend joão (jojo), who are visiting from rio de janeiro. dri invites matt and john to a party at her house that night, during which stef behaves recklessly; taking a windsurfer out into the water late at night, and causing the four (yes, all four) to come to her "rescue" in a rickety old boat borrowed from an absent neighbor. she probably would have been fine, but once they all meet up on the open water, circumstances occur that put the five teens in a world of trouble, and they end up adrift in that rickety old boat for fifteen days without supplies, shelter or cell phone service and exposed to sharks, hunger and dehydration, heat-blisters, boredom and fear. (view spoiler)[and also dolphins, since that is essentially what kills stef (hide spoiler)]one of them is seriously injured and one is off their meds. they won't all make it through the story alive.
complicating the matter is the tragedy that matt and john recently experienced together, an incident that john never wants to talk about, despite matt's prompts. and a further complication is john himself. not to mince words, john is a dick. his coworkers call him "iceman" not because he is cool like val kilmer, but because he is silent and emotionless, partly from grief but also because he hates rich people. if it's instalove between matt and dri, it's instahate between john and the other three. john has a huge chip on his shoulder when it comes to the wealthy (one wonders what he thinks of successful former woodhull residents like l.l. cool j, young MC, al sharpton, russell simmons/run DMC), and he's curt and bossy and downright rude to everyone on the boat, including matt. even when dri proves herself calm and competent and john learns that there are hidden depths to the others - that their lives haven't always been all rosy and carefree, he still behaves like a snide jerk. and there's really no reason for it, other than just insecurity. had the big tragedy that binds matt and jeff together in any way involved a richie-rich antagonist it would have been one thing - excusable because of grief, but it doesn't. it's just part of his personality and it's ugly and misguided.
"She's too pretty for me, right?"
and as examples of dialogue that doesn't sound like it's coming from the mouths of 17-year-old boys:
Matt, she'll rip the sweetness out of you, right through your rib cage. You'll never be able to squeeze it back in there. Look at him mope now.
"I couldn't help myself."
"She's beautiful. She was holding my hand. How do you let go? You don't. You can't. John, I'm sorry."
"Save your apology for my mother."
"Then why'd you climb aboard?"
"Shut up and hold the light steady."
and that's the kind of delightful attitude john gives off throughout the novel, to dri:
Dri checked under the other bench. She held up a heavy-duty flashlight.
"Spot her with it," John said. "She'll think the cops are after her and stop."
Dri yelled over the engine noise. "Knowing Stef, I'll bet she'll try to get away."
"I have no idea what you're talking about," John said.
"I want to use it as a-"
"I don't care why, just get it done."
so the characters are not the strength of the book, but the survival parts are pretty good, and there's some practical information in here, should you ever find yourself in a similar situation. but don't. find yourself in this situation. it's no fun. the medical stuff is smart - matt has undergone a first responder course, and manages to more or less handle the various physical injuries and discuss the risks knowledgeably.
I felt like a fraud, acting as the ship's doctor, but I was the closest thing we had to medically trained personnel.
I knew enough first aid to know I didn't know enough.
so between the "things i learned" and the good action parts, i enjoyed it more than the rocky beginning and all the lackluster characterization led me to believe i would.
however, i did really like the ending. it's got a very Paper Towns-style ending, where it's unconventional but realistic and bittersweet.
so - many stars to the ending, if you can make it there through all the clunkiness and the irritating character of john. john, you suck, dude.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
okay, so i have finally reviewed this "properly." i hope it clears up any confusion!!
so, this is another one of those bizarro-erotica stories that isokay, so i have finally reviewed this "properly." i hope it clears up any confusion!!
so, this is another one of those bizarro-erotica stories that is heavier on the bizarro than the erotica. in fact, if i heard that anyone actually used this in a one-handed reading capacity, i would be deeply disturbed. with most of the monsterporn, i can understand objectively why some people find it sexxy, even if i myself do not, but this - it takes a special kind of person to get off on tater tots.
and vladislav yevtushenko-zhernakovshmirnovo is that special person (and can i just take a minute to thank the lord for copy and paste? bow your heads!)
round-tummied vladislav yevtushenko-zhernakovshmirnovo has only been in the united states for a few months, hailing from an eastern european land of frozen tundra and packs of wolves and criminals and fascist government that keeps all the food and last remaining sexy ladies for themselves. he is gainfully employed in a slaughterhouse and is learning the english from books. he has come to this country for ladies and riches, but is not finding much of either.
the sexy American ladies, they all laughs at me when I try to talk to them on street and at the disco dances. Sometimes they even say mean words to me. They says things like “Fucks you, dudes!” and “Fucks offs!” and “Go kills yourselves, fatsos!”
unfortunately, along with ladies and wealth, he also loves tater tots. which ordinarily wouldn't be a problem, but now that the tater tots have become sentient and incredibly wealthy, it's illegal to eat them. oh, you don't know about this?? well, it happened, and you should be aware of it, because if you eat a tater tot now, you will totally go to jail. they are powerful. and all male. and gay. but only for human men. how do you not know this?? get a newspaper, jeeeez.
so vladislav yevtushenko-zhernakovshmirnovo is finding it hard to get ANY satisfaction in his new home. if only, if only….
Yes, if I could eat my favorite comfort food—the tots of the potato with the ketchup—then when I comes home every night from my miserable, shit-splattered, blood-soaked, 14-hour workday at the slaughterhouse, then maybes I would not be so sad and lonely and want to kill self.
but he has a master plan. since he can't buy and consume tater tots, he will have to make his own! genius!
but that statement is completely backwards - the tater tots are not so easily fooled, and there will be reprisals. you know, from the tater tot protection agency. which is comprised of tater tots with attitude. and they get all up in vladislav yevtushenko-zhernakovshmirnovo's fat face, causing him much distress.
“Oh, no’s!” I says, crawling up to my knees. I cries like little baby. I was—how you say in America . . . crying like the little basic bitches?
but they are willing to offer him a deal and leniency if he is willing to become the tots' lover. fat balki misunderstands
“Lover? How you mean? I do love tots. Tots have always been my favorite foods!”
yeah, because that's what they want.
and after much hemming and hawing and many homophobic comments, eventually vladislav yevtushenko-zhernakovshmirnovo caves in the face of a handsome bribe. by a handsome tot.
LET THE TATERFUCKING BEGIN!!!
sex with tater tots is… weird. i know that's unexpected and possibly racist, but it IS! i don't want to spoil what tot-erections are like, or which household condiment makes for good lube, or what happens when a tater tot "ejacuvates," but i will say that tater tots are not into cuddling, and they are no one's bottom.
and, as promised, one is indeed juggalo. and his name is faygo freddy. whoop, whoop!
and that's when shit really starts to get weird.
what's great is that i am finally getting around to watching oz, and the big climactic (heh) scene in this is completely relevant to something that happens in episode one of season two. you know, the one called "the tip."
(view spoiler)[ do NOT go sticking things into people's mouths that you don't want to have bitten off. both beecher and vladislav yevtushenko-zhernakovshmirnovo get a little chompy (hide spoiler)]
and in other tales of synchronicity, i recently learned that this restaurant exists:
potatopia and the island-city where the tater tots have gathered and prospered in this story real life is tateropolis. so it's more or less the same.
so, please, read this story to learn about all the stuff i left out. and when you do read the last line, you will discover the extent of my persuasive powers used for eeeeeeevil.
Though the thought of making sexy time with the boy tots is very gross to me, I know I cannot turn down such incredible offer. “Okays,” I says. I looks down at the kitchenette floor in deep, deep shame as I make announcement. “I . . . I . . . I fucks the tots.”
The tots, they all cheers, “Hurrah!”
watch your back, tingle!! there's a new kid in town.
review to come. tater tots already did.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A hero would have charged through the front door, but she did not know any heroes. She knew dead men, and the men who'd killed them, and the boy.
thisA hero would have charged through the front door, but she did not know any heroes. She knew dead men, and the men who'd killed them, and the boy.
this is one of those books that separates the hip from the unhip. i liked it, but i didn't LOVE it. and i feel the judgments!
early on, i felt this book would be friends with Dark Property or A Choir of Ill Children. both of those books take a traditional subgenre - post-apoc and southern gothic, respectively, and then throw a bunch of weird all over it. this one uses the western as its base coat and there's all sorts of surreal splattering it, but i never had the feeling it was used as thoughtfully as the evenson or piccarilli. i'm generally fine with weird for weird's sake, but i had the feeling there was meant to be more than that here - some commentary or some larger theme i was missing. i kept feeling that i was so close to having that "AHA!" moment, but either i missed the point or the author was circling something without ever connecting the dots.
i'm just confused, i guess. this book is being held up as "the" indie book of the summer - as this bold revisionist western. but this isn't particularly "new" or "edgy," this subverting the expectations of the western genre by making it either really ultraviolent or really weird. it's not the first to borrow elements from noir and it's by no means the first nihilistic western. "weird west" already exists as a pulpy subgenre, and people like robert coover, ishmael reed, rudolph wurlitzer and even richard brautigan have written more literary versions of the weird west, so it's not like this is the first of its kind. and the heightened violence is definitely not new to the genre. there has always been an emphasis on violence in the western - it's one of its defining characteristics, but the classic stuff; the louie l'amour stuff, was always a little more tasteful in deploying it. and then along came cormac mccarthy, paving the way for the modern reader with a taste for more graphic violence, which led to things like The Winter Family, joe r. lansdale, and my favorite bloody/weird mashup, Smonk. SMONK! and i myself am one of those modern readers with a taste for more graphic violence - i read a lot of grit lit and there's frequently crossover into the western with grit lit, so i am fairly desensitized to violence, even when it is beautifully-written violence, so there's nothing here that is shockingly new to me.
the writing here is fantastic in places. he's great at the terse aphorism; a staple of the western:
*"It's a graveyard," said Bird.
"You'll find that's always the case," said Sugar, "if you pay attention."
*"Lots of things are going to come at you," said Mary. "It is only the world saying hello."
*"Left to their own devices, people will live out every possible variation of a human life."
and, like most westerns, life is cheap. but here, even the characters meant to be redemptive are at risk (view spoiler)[what even happened to that baby? worst rescue mission ever. (hide spoiler)] so you never really feel "safe" for anyone.
but i feel like winnette has less control over the surreal elements of the novel. the confusion starts early, and it never really lets up.
brooke and sugar are brothers and killers for hire. they arrive at a town where they are owed money for bloody services rendered to find it unrecognizable - burned to the ground, its citizens murdered, and under the new leadership of a tiny man with plenty of hired muscle. there is a tongueless old man, verbal sparring, unprovoked violence and then the page-nine reveal that sugar has a vagina.
so then you gotta go back and say "wait, what?"
i don't consider that part a spoiler because - page NINE, but this is a bit more potentially spoilery. (view spoiler)[i'm not sure what's going on with sugar, frankly. he isn't consciously trans so much as confused, despite being the more articulate and insightful of the brothers. he doesn't know how old they are, he can't remember their past, and having been raised as a boy by a cruel and rapey father, he just doesn't know anything else. which would be fine if the characters were children. but once adolescence and adulthood is reached, there's no reason for this confusion. they know whores, they have had "their genitals rubbed," so they know what women are, anatomically. and if sugar really has been pregnant many times, "the woods… crying out with all you've left them," he knows about childbirth and babies so he (and brooke) must know sugar is a woman. historically, the western has pretty much on the lowest rung of gender/sexual progressivism ('cept for that brokeback mountain and all the non-trans cross-dressing by women in westerns as protection from the raping), but this doesn't read like a character who is living as a man because he feels like a man in his heart as much as someone who is simply unaware that men don't typically have vaginas. or that they shouldn't use them to have sex with their family members. (hide spoiler)]
so we are forced to second-guess a lot of what's happening. and that makes the occasional sloppy writing even more frustrating, because we don't know if it is intentional or oversight. what are we to make of a character whose arm had been lopped off, just above where would have been an elbow who on the next page pushed from his wrists to set his weight upon his legs? or this sentence - He looked ill and miserable, like an old dog she and John had once put down together. It was only a puppy. is that careless or is it meant to give us pause, in a book where gender is uncertain and families and relationships are slippery - adopted children, pretend marriages, and where the supernatural will sit on a rock and have a conversation with a fella?
it's a muddy kind of storytelling - it's unclear what is real, what is imagined, what is supernatural. it occurs in a dreamspace but there's a difference between deliberate vagueness for the sake of a surreal tone, and leaving loose ends because you don't know how to wrap up the story or finish what you've started. too many times i had the feeling that i was reading the latter. too many times i thought something was being implied that wasn't. for a long time, i thought brooke had some kind of magical healing powers - there are two scenes in which he boldly and unnecessarily displays a willingness to be stabbed as though he knows it won't matter and: He looked as if he should be covered in scars, but all of the wounds he bore were fresh. so i thought there was something going on there, some ability he had, but nothing ever came of that. and i think that's down to the tone setting up expectations; the reader is forced to fill in the gaps with their own explanations because there are too many details included that don't solidify into anything meaningful.
Living was all winding around and doubling back.
that is a pretty good encapsulation of the shape of the novel - there are recurrences and mirroring, which give the reader pause, but again - to no thematic purpose.
my problems with the book were mostly in the details. the tone of the book was great, and the message that stood out most clearly to me in all the chaos was the way that the violence of this world leeches in and taints even the most innocent, and that this is what we call survival.
that most innocent character is bird - he's a tabula rasa that arrives into the narrative naked and amnesiac without even fingerprints and he becomes shaped by his experiences and his victimization - hardened by the violent necessities of this world from a sweet kid who can't even manage to kill a bird (in a really reader-squirmy scene) into a force for vengeance that will continue and contribute to this cycle of inevitable violence.
one of the novel's central images stands in well for my overall feelings towards the book - a charred spiral staircase, all that remains in the middle of a burned-down town - it's a beautiful and twisted thing in the center of chaos and destruction, but it ultimately goes nowhere.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
i'm glad i read The Fox - the second volume of this standalone graphic novel "series" first. i definitely liked this one, but that fox one made me imm
i'm glad i read The Fox - the second volume of this standalone graphic novel "series" first. i definitely liked this one, but that fox one made me immediately order this one in with "must have" fervor, and i didn't feel the same sense of urgency after reading this one.
it's the same format as The Fox - wordless sequential art that represents a "day in the life" of a tiger as it hunts, fights, and eventually gets a good meal. the art is great, but it's somewhat less-great than fox. i do not have the vocabulary necessary to discuss art, but there's something about this one that just seems a little more basic; there's less background detail filling up the panels, and there's a tendency to show a little too much "emotion" in the animal expressions, which cheapens it and makes it less "this is nature" and more "this could be a disney movie."
if this were disney, this tapir would be "dopey."
compared to this panel from fox:
it's still great, don't get me wrong, and there's even a fox for greg, although not the same one-eyed fox from the second volume
the best parts are, naturally, the animal smackdowns
but also worth noting is panther vs. piranha
and, of course, the ending. no spoilers here!
i am definitely going to grab the next volume as soon as i can, and i hope at some point there will be a red panda protagonist. fingers crossed!...more
this is a stunning book of sequential art in which the only words are the epigraph and a quote from emerson at the end.
i was a little concerned with
this is a stunning book of sequential art in which the only words are the epigraph and a quote from emerson at the end.
i was a little concerned with the epigraph, initially, because it's one of those goopy new age-y sounding statements full of abstractions but signifying nothing:
IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM, ANIMALS NEITHER LOVE NOR HATE EACH OTHER.
LOVE AND HATE ARE PARTS OF A NATURAL WHOLE. A SUPREME BALANCE MANY CONSIDER TO BE UNIVERSAL, OR EVEN DIVINE. AN ELEMENTAL LOVE.
A LOVE THAT MANKIND COULD NEVER EXPERIENCE.
i'm not really sure how that's supposed to apply to this story, unless that's simply the mission statement for the series as a whole. in any event, it made me very glad that there are no words to the actual story, because the artwork speaks for itself. loudly. clearly.
"mankind" doesn't come into play at all - this isn't one of those "man is bad and nature suffers" messages. here, everything that happens is completely within the natural world. there are orcas, elephant seals, musk oxen, rabbits, polar bears, etc, and animals fight each other, hunt their prey, save their young, live and die while a volcano erupts sending burning lava and avalanches throughout their habitats.
the animals neither speak nor grieve - there are some close calls, but also many animals who get crushed, burned, eaten. there are no songs, none of the animals make dresses or play the banjo.
it's ragged, brutal survival. and the artwork is phenomenal
you can almost hear the bears roar
it's absolutely magnificent - beautiful and badass and realistic. i have already ordered the first book in this series; The Tiger and i await the third Le lion; being made available in my country.
and obviously, i will be buying this one in hard copy ASAP.
abbott's story is only tangentially about books, and here, it ain't the books that are gonna get you. this is abbott returning to her historical-noir comfort zone, and it's a tingly little tale taking the conventional noir trappings, giving them her usual gender-spin, and incorporating unexpected elements of horror, psychological suspense and paranoia, against the backdrop of 1950's hollywood.
the basics - failed actress turned makeup artist penny moves into a too-good-to-be-true bungalow with a haunted past and an enigmatic landlady named mrs. stahl (who is NOT greg's mom). recently dropped by her studio exec lover "mr. d" in the most grotesque way: You were a luscious piece of candy, he said, but now I gotta spit you out, penny understands the cruelty of hollywood in its sexual steamrolling of young ingenues - the revolving door of power and desperation.
It was a rough town for pretty girls. The only place it was. Penny knew she had lost her shine long ago. Many men had rubbed it off, shimmy by shimmy.
and as she well knows - "This town can make a whore out of anyone."
penny has survived the indignities and iniquities thus far, but in her new home at night, alone and vulnerable, she begins to hear strange tapping sounds and see things she can't explain. with the help of two neighbors, confirmed bachelors who know all the gossip, she begins to investigate the source of the noises, the mysterious death of the former tenant and mrs. stahl's possible involvement.
the mystery itself is good, with a kickass last-line reveal, but where abbot always shines is in her descriptions. she does such a fantastic job setting her scenes, with the authenticity of her décor
Number Four, like all the bungalows, was already furnished: sun-bleached zebra print sofa and key lime walls, the brightwhite kitchen with its cherry-sprigged wallpaper. The first place she'd ever lived that didn't have rust stains in the tub or the smell of moth balls everywhere.
and her libations
…pink gin conjured from grapefruit peel and an old bottle of Gilbey's she found in the cupboard.
and most importantly - in her descriptions of other women
In the past, she'd had those greasy-skinned roommates to drown out thinking. They all had rashes from cheap studio makeup and the clap from cheaper studio men and beautiful figures like Penny's own. And they never stopped talking, twirling their hair in curlers and licking their fingers to turn the magazine pages. But their chatter-chatter-chatter muffled all Penny's thoughts. And the whole atmosphere - the thick muzz of Woolworth's face powder and nylon nighties when they even shared a bed - made everything seem cheap and lively and dumb and easy and light.
it was a great little taste of megan abbott, to tide me over until her next book, and to remind me that i still have a couple of her girl-noir novels here to read. hooray!...more
i discovered this book soon after my own post-bedbug book diaspora, where my books were scattered into storage, into my dad's garage,too soon, man...
i discovered this book soon after my own post-bedbug book diaspora, where my books were scattered into storage, into my dad's garage, or most distressingly - into the garbage.
the books in this story go on a far more whimsical and adorable journey and i hope and pray that all the books of mine in the bag that was "accidentally" thrown away are off having an adventure of their own. i miss them.
this book is kind of like if the lifetime channel exploded, causing lifetime confetti to go everywhere.
but iYou only scream when you're finally safe.
this book is kind of like if the lifetime channel exploded, causing lifetime confetti to go everywhere.
but i don't think that's a bad thing.
a lot of people have had really strong negative reactions to this book, but since this seems to be the year that i like the books everyone hates and hate the books everyone likes, here i am with at least one thumb up.
this book is far from perfect, and it's got a lot of things in it that people who read less clinically than i do are going to have emotional responses to. it covers all the modern-day danger-ground topics like bullying, (view spoiler)[school shootings (hide spoiler)], (view spoiler)[rape (hide spoiler)], eating disorders, homophobia, and there are various gender and class issues scattered throughout.
is it the new Gone Girl? not really, although it does share some qualities with that book in centering around a calculating and manipulative female lead, with several twists and reveals along the way, as well as an explication of knoll's version of "the cool girl." however, unlike Gone Girl, where the more we know about amy dunne the less likable she is, here it's the complete opposite and the character becomes more sympathetic as the story unfolds.
and i like antiheroes more than empathy.
i suppose here is where i am supposed to use the character's name, but it is so spectacularly bad. and it's meant to be, but still. okay - bracing myself: TifAni FaNelli. fortunately, she goes by "ani" for most of the book, so i will use that name for the rest of the review, because good lord.
so ani is one stone cold bitch. shedding her past and her bougie mother's grasping ways (Italians who don't even know how to pronounce "bruschetta." We are the worst kind.), she has reinvented herself not only by changing her name, but by changing her everything. she has landed herself a prestigious job at a well-known women's magazine and refashioned herself into a combination of trendy stylishness and timeless class, landing herself a fiance who can offer her the stability of his family's aristocratic, blueblooded bliss. and a honking big ring. ani has relentlessly driven herself up several social classes through observation and rigorous study, learning the difference between nouveau riche and really rich, learning the difference between true class and glitzy veneer, learning old-world etiquette and adopting the pose for herself. she is bateman-esque in her label name-dropping and her carefully-composed public face.
about that honking big ring, which she casually flaunts at every opportunity
…my pride and joy: a fat, brilliant emerald planet, flanked by two winking diamonds, the band simple platinum. It had been Luke's grandmother's - pardon me, his Mammy's - and when he gave it to me he'd offered me the option to reset the stones on a diamond band. "Mom's jewelry guy said that's the look a lot of girls go for now. It's more modern I guess."
And that's exactly why I didn't want to have it reset. No, I would wear it just the way dear sweet Mammy had worn it: at once restrained and ornate. A very clear message: This is an heirloom. We don't just have money, we come from money.
she is the very paradigm of calculating self-control - starving and exercising herself to exhaustion to attain her ideal body, and using her status and beauty to power play other women. it's cutthroat competition, and she's great at it. it's snarky popcorn entertainment.
I always eye the wife first; I like to know what I'm up against. She was wearing the typical Kate uniform: white jeans, nude wedges, and a silky, sleeveless top. Hot pink, I'm sure she spent a few minutes debating it - was she tan enough, maybe the navy silky sleeveless top instead, can't go wrong with navy - and over her shoulder, a cognac Prada the exact same shade as her shoes, the perfect match more age revealing than the skin starting to pucker in her neck. She had at least ten years on me, I determined, relieved. I don't know how I'm going to live with myself when I turn thirty.
my problem is - i liked her cold. i liked her savage. i enjoyed her chilling calculations - My favorite strategy is to feign inferiority and encourage my enemy's arrogance. but as the story progresses, and we learn about her past and what she has lived through (a checklist of lifetime movie themes), so much of what she is now turns out to be just superficial reflexive armor and when the cracks reveal her past vulnerability, i thought the story weakened.
not that her backstory is weak on its own, but this reads like two separate stories fused together, and it's the joining that is unconvincing.
there's a reason both megan abbott and alissa nutting have blurbed this. knoll writes the teenage girl stuff so so well, and it's heartbreaking, but she's also able to slide a thin blade under your comfort level with shocking scenes just this side of gratuitous.
i'm more interested in/impressed by the heartbreak than the shock, so i'm going to focus on that, even though it's the shocking things that most readers will remember. this really does a great job covering all the warts of female adolescence; it's the froth of mean girls mixed with blood and venom: the social performances required to achieve and maintain status, the superficiality, the shame of having breasts enormous and unpredictable without a bra, the boredom of following the crowd, how private letting-off-of-steam appears more sinister under the public eye, the way motives are misjudged, the way there's nothing sadder than the adolescent rite of passage to have sex before understanding what sexy is, the temporary rise in popularity and the rapid decline after obscure transgressions, and the cutthroat ways that girls enact revenge on other girls. jesus, the scene with the running shorts will NEVER LEAVE ME.
this sums up adolescence perfectly:
I was so tired of everything that was embarrassing about me being on display.
and you don't come out of that without a little damage; without learning how to hustle and con and pose and manipulate and become an adaptive adult.
and ani's damage is worse than most because - again - she has lived through every after-school special ever.
and she leaves behind her painful adolescence by distancing herself from everything she was, learning the ropes and ascending beyond her expectations, The place I had worked so hard to fit into that was now beneath me.
but the past never leaves us.
i really liked this book. i wish it had been two different books, because i think it takes on too many issues and it doesn't present a consistent character, even allowing for change and growth and damage, but it was damn entertaining and i don't got no triggers, so i liked it just fine.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
i have finally come around to enjoying short stories (hi, alan!) but i still do hate reviewing them. and unfortunately, i used up all my creativity oni have finally come around to enjoying short stories (hi, alan!) but i still do hate reviewing them. and unfortunately, i used up all my creativity on the last book of short stories i reviewed, so i'm at a loss.
i liked this collection slightly, only slightly less than Einstein's Beach House: Stories, but it's still an excellent read. like e.b.h., this one is also only eight stories long but the stories are of the "stick with you" variety, so it doesn't feel flimsy.
the cover is composed of visual touchstones for the stories within, even though there are only seven images, and i'm not sure which story the beakers or the thermometer are meant to connect to. but since a picture speaks a thousand words, and several pictures speak exponentially more words, i am going to go with a picture-based review because otherwise i'll get all bogged down trying to review each story separately which is not going to help me get through this giant stack of "to be reviewed" books i have cluttering up my windowsill. but i will select one or two representative lines for each story, for those of you who like words.
Miracles and Conundrums of the Secondary Planets
Vegetarianism was not an issue on Red Ziggy's home planet, where organic molecules were absorbed from the atmosphere through the skin.
Phoebe with Impending Frost
"Trust me," I assure her. "I'm a climatologist."
"It's good practice for you too, Mama," says Celeste. "This way you won't be so lonely when I leave. You can just pretend I'm in the clock."
The Resurrection Bakeoff*
She thought I was crying because our time together loomed so short, not because I had used it so poorly.
That's why I prefer to focus on the present. If you have one good day, nobody can take that away from you."
The Grand Concourse
She'll be one tough baby. If I decide to keep her, that is.
Measures of Sorrow
"You can't use the word transgression on a date. You sound like Reinhold Niebuhr."
Shell Game with Organs
At seventeen I would have traded a lung for a blow job, but at forty-one a kidney for love seems like a risky venture.
it's another great collection from an author who is really making me crave short stories. how far i have come...
i was prepared for it, since so many of the reviews on here have been thumbs-down; people expeunlike The Secret History, this book has some problems.
i was prepared for it, since so many of the reviews on here have been thumbs-down; people expecting a donna tartt or a gillian flynn and getting something altogether different. and i can't say i hated it - it's a very fast read, and it was a fine summer diversion, but it takes some frustrating shortcuts down build-the-suspense road.
nica baker is sixteen when she is murdered on the grounds of chandler academy, a prep school in hartford, connecticut. shortly thereafter, another student kills himself, leaving an incriminating suicide note and the case is officially closed. nica's older sister grace; the shy and cautious opposite to her wild and popular whirlwind, was about to go off to college, but nica's death has rocked her out of orbit and into grief allayed by the narcotizing arms of prescription medication. while her parents fight, drink, and separate, grace makes a lousy decision to attend nica's ex's fourth of july party dressed as nica, and wakes up the next day hungover, newly deflowered, and pregnant with no memory of the sexual act, but with a memory of seeing nica's ghost.
she makes herself a deal - she will either find nica's real killer before her first trimester elapses, and abort the baby, or if she fails, she will raise the baby as a sort of apology/tribute to nica's memory.
so, off she goes, in all her 17-year-old investigative fervor, and she discovers all of nica's secrets along with some of her own.
the other blurb on this is Megan Abbott meets Twin Peaks.
i'm not sure where the twin peaks comes into play here. except in the "pretty popular high school girl with sexual secrets gets murdered." which is not a concept owned by david lynch. although i did like where grace points out the cliche of it all, especially her deflating of the "homecoming queen" mythos.
for the most part, it's a fun and twisty thriller. some of it is predictable, some less so. it's one of those "everyone's got secrets, so everyone's a suspect" stories, and i think anolik did a good job strewing suspicion all over the place. the problem is an overreliance upon surfacing memories. grace spent the period following nica's death abusing prescription medication, so she has very few clear memories of that hazy time and she has filled in the blanks with assumptions that are mostly inaccurate. and every time she uncovers a clue or a secret, she suddenly remembers an incident that supports or enhances this "new" knowledge. you can get away with that technique once in a book. use it more than that and it starts feeling contrived. (see blair's review for a better version of what i have just said - of how Grace seems to experience memories like other people experience seizures.)
so it's things like that, and the fact that this doesn't read at all like the voice of a seventeen-year-old (i had to keep reminding myself of the ages of most of the characters - it definitely read more college than high school), and the implausibilities in clue-gathering (how would grace have ascertained the romantic significance of nica's tattoo on first sight?), and some stereotypes in the ethnic blue-collar characters, that made me less of a fan of the book.
however, there are some things that i thought were great, particularly the relationship between nica and her mother, a sally mann-ish photographer who has obsessively chronicled nica's adolescence in all its tender fumblings and provocative adult posturings. and even though i'd guessed this particular reveal, the scene in the studio was fabulous. huge. generally, all the scenes centered around the family were great - the pressures, the grief, the awkwardness between grace and her father as even basic communication became impossible - it was all incredibly realistic and sad.
and then there's the scene in which grace becomes pregnant, which seems to be the one that kills the book for many readers. and i completely understand - (view spoiler)[it's a really ballsy choice to make your heroine fall for her maybe-rapist. but this is one of those situations which is at once emotionally-charged and hot buttony, but also very very gray. and i think anolik handled it really well, honestly. grace has been an unreliable narrator throughout the entire book, and on the night in question, she was incredibly wasted, but still ambulatory and maybe didn't seem as messed up as she was. and damon's account of the evening does indicate that grace was responding willingly. considering the two of them were both completely in the throes of grief and the shock of "seeing" nica (who was usually intoxicated herself) was probably confusing to damon, i think we can safely say that his intent was never rape, however confused and amnesia-ridden grace was. i think it was written honestly rather than gratuitously, and i think she did a good job of addressing the manylayered complications. (hide spoiler)]
but overall, it's a fine debut. it has some bumps, but it has strengths to balance them. i always enjoy boarding school murder mysteries, and this one was far from the worst i have read. i liked it, bumps and all.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
looks like i am the only one who didn't fall head-over-heels in love with this book. i did fall pretty hard for the cover, but it takes more than a prlooks like i am the only one who didn't fall head-over-heels in love with this book. i did fall pretty hard for the cover, but it takes more than a pretty face to win me over…
it has many good qualities: story set in a wholly original fantasy world, families who are supportive and loving that seem realistic rather than idealized, strong imagery and situations that aren't just warmed-over versions of other YA books, romance where the two participants are apart for most of the book, so we don't have to read about all the gazing and fumbling and stammering, debilitating illness written sympathetically and vividly...
i just didn't think the actual story was developed as well as the characters. i never felt the tension i was meant to feel during the actiony events, and beyond the two main characters: aza and jason, none of the other characters were more than foils or obstacles, and overall the fantasy elements were not as well-realized as the realistic ones.
aza has been severely sick her whole life with a respiratory condition so rare that it has actually been named after her, and whose cause and treatment has baffled every last specialist. she is nearly sixteen, much older than she was ever expected to live, when she begins seeing visions of ships in the clouds and hearing something whistling and calling her name. assuming these are hallucinations brought on by one of her medications, she freaks out less than she might ordinarily, until the evening she is visited by an assortment of BIRDS (if you know how i feel about birds, you know how alarming this is), after which she collapses and dies in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.
when she wakes up, she is aboard the very ship she has been "hallucinating," high in the air, where she is re-introduced to her people, because - turns out, she's not from "our" world, she is from magonia, and it's the air on the earth that has been killing her. and there's no specialist for that.
so aza learns about her culture and their rituals, and the BIRD that belongs in HER CHEST and that she is a very special girl with a very special destiny. because YA. however, she has left behind her parents and sister, as well as her best friend-with-possibilities, jason, and even though they all think she's dead, and she has finally found a place where she can breathe, she's torn between two worlds.
and jason, for one, doesn't believe she's really dead.
this one got off to a rocky start for me, because from the outset, i was not a fan of aza's voice. i think she was meant to come off as tough in the face of death or something, but her brittle snark was irritating. her illness was horrible, and i'm not downplaying her struggle, but i also don't automatically canonize the afflicted and i think that when people are bitchy and then say things like "Calling the sick girl names? Please. We all know it's not okay" - it's not fair. if you're going to antagonize people and be provocative, you're gonna get some back, sick or not - no special treatment in high school politics.
but after a while, i got into it, and once jason was introduced, it got a bit better. although it's still "what if john green kids were even more precocious," and they don't read like sixteen-year-olds, it's still a really lovely relationship, and i thought headley did a nice job turning that friendship into maybe-more without it getting all goopy. despite sounding older and being more capable than their years (booking flights, tossing off profitable inventions and having factories in their arsenal, having access to seeecret footage of squids, etc..) i thought the bones of their friendship rang true - nerdy social outcasts finding each other and bonding over pi and the OED. it's very sweet and charming.
i also loved the descriptions of some of the creatures in magonia. not the heartbirds (shudder) or bird-people (bigger shudder), but batsails, squallwhales, stormsharks?? yes pretty please! Can anything I will ever hear from now until the end of time sound cooler than stormsharks? probably not. but that's the thing - a lot of the magonia stuff was just window dressing without a lot of depth. we don't even get to spend any time with stormsharks, they are just a passing detail.
the strengths of this book are completely terrestrial - aza's family, jason's family, and their unshakeable friendship. the fantasy is blurry, the avatar-level eco-preach unnuanced, and the story a little flimsy. i'll read the second one, in the hopes that book two will have way more stormsharks, but i didn't swoon over this one the way it seems the rest of the world did.
a short and lazy review, but it's got adorable animals at the end! i pander with pandas!
this e-only addition to the razorland series didn't seem partia short and lazy review, but it's got adorable animals at the end! i pander with pandas!
this e-only addition to the razorland series didn't seem particularly revelatory to me. or necessary. it's basically a deleted scene from Outpost, which i read years and years ago, so the story isn't as fresh in my mind as it could be, but i feel like we already knew all this. or maybe we learned or could glean it from fade's behavior in Horde, which i read much more recently. it's just more "stuff that's going on in fade's head" in a scene we've already read from deuce's POV. it doesn't put any mysteries to rest or offer up new information or action sequences; nothing that couldn't be extrapolated from already-existing scenes. it was probably better as a little nibble to tide readers over before Horde was released than the way i read it - learning of its existence only after i'd finished reading the entire series. oh, well; it's short and it's here and it's free and it'll get you a little closer to your reading challenge!
this review is too boring, so here are some animal gifs
Sometimes I wondered what the point of survival was, if this was what we had to do; it seemed there was nothing in the world worth saving.
unlike restoSometimes I wondered what the point of survival was, if this was what we had to do; it seemed there was nothing in the world worth saving.
unlike restoration, which was an unnecessary (sez me) story retold from a different POV, this is an all-new piece that actually contributes to the series instead of just reheating old material.
this story takes place before the events of Enclave and details the chaos that drove humans underground in the first place, from the POV of an individual who will help shape the subterranean society in which deuce will live.
quick note- the character's name is "robin schiller" with no indication of gender. i read it as a male character, but if you are one of those "adam and eve, not adam and steve" people, you may prefer to read it as a girl.
oh, and also
for such a short little story, aguirre really packs in a lot of detail. in a good way. she gives as much factual information as these characters could reasonably be expected to know about the virus and the riots, while leaving some things a mystery. she does a good job detailing the progression of events, the deterioration of conditions, and all the incipient fear, lack of information, and determination to survive that would be a part of this type of event, while still managing to create characters the reader cares about.
there's a little violin-playing
Before, he had some idea I might be a doctor like him, but with the way things had changed, I didn’t think much about the future.
but it's certainly a reasonable reaction from the perspective of a member of one of the few fortunate families sequestered underground while everything they know burns above them who are then faced with their own problems. i think they've earned the right to mope a little.
the story is pretty much in keeping with the larger body of razorland series - gritty survival and love in the ashes and all that. it fills in some gaps you didn't even realize were gapping, and it marks the designation of the very first wordkeeper.
if you like the series, it's a good add-on, but you can probably enjoy it even if you haven't read any of the books - the hope and grief and despair are applicable to any end-of-world scenario.
but if you don't read this one, you should at least read a different tor short and then tell us all about it.
the follow-up to the very successful The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil, this book is a compilation of strips collins wrote for the guardian weekend and several other uk-based publications. i don't know if it will ever be published here in the u.s., but i thank my lucky stars for the incredibly sweet and generous canadian laima who is willing to grab me all the stuff i can't get in my country. thanks, laima! some of the strips are centered around british political and pop cultural figures less familiar to an american audience, which may impede a u.s. publication, and some things flat-out will not translate here:
(also, i apologize for whatever is going on with my pictures and their sizing. i need to adjust whatever went haywire on photobucket, because that badger down there is alarmingly big)
so many of these strips are brilliant and made me giggle out loud (GOL), and i absolutely love his artwork; he reminds me a bit of tom gauld in both style and humor. and britishness.
collins' visual preoccupations seem to be crocodiles, things on vacation (sisyphus, mr. terror), historical figures experiencing modern technology (mona lisa, noah, louis daguerre), aliens, leonardo dicaprio, and kim jong-un.
also tian tian the panda
i love the way he draws animals, whether they be badgers
(see?? i am alarmed!)
or supernatural beasties like ghosts
and you know i always love me a good "oi!"
here are some of my favorites for either art or humor or concept. i won't spoil too much - for some i will just give the first-panel title-tease or a single enigmatic panel-excerpt and make you track down the book itself, but you'll get the gist.
this one is great because of how shouty the aliens are. they remind me of me. except for the liking of cocktail part.
look how much darwin loves his job!
look at this boastful bag!!
and i totally saw this guy the other day:
here, i am giving away the punchline; you'll have to find the joke yourself. but ahhhhh so funny!!
this one wins "most disturbing."
you don't even want to know what's going on there.
these are the title-panels of three of my favorite strips (one of which, yes, includes a crocodile!):
also a story with the perfectly precise title emergency pocket guide for an unsporty man who's got a ball coming at him, which is better seen by you than photographed by me.
there's also an excellent lars von trier strip, FYI. and one of malcolm gladwell. and a crocodile.
and since you have been such good sports, here's a full strip for ya
naturally, when you WANT the picture to be big...
hopefully you can read that. because i can. and it made me laugh. OH! but if you CLICK it, you can see it bigger. thanks, internet age!
i liked this book even more than The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil and i hope he gives us many more books. in all the countries.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
cave-peril, synesthesia, and a protagonist named karyn?? sign me up, please! i'll even overlook that repNothing’s too beautiful. That isn’t possible.”
cave-peril, synesthesia, and a protagonist named karyn?? sign me up, please! i'll even overlook that repeated misspelling of my name.
if i've said it once on here, i've said it a thousand times, but this time it's actually relevant to the review: the descent is one of the best horror movies ever.
it has that perfect double layer of terror both natural and supernatural, which is exactly what this story does. and, like the descent, the natural terrors are way more convincing than the monsters. because caves are just plain terrifying, when you get in over your head. big sprawling caves with stalagmites for tourists to photograph and pretend they are penises are fine,
but there are caves into which no human should venture, with their tight spaces and pitch-blackness and dripping echoes, because usually this is where monsters live.
i don't even know what this thing is, but it lives in a cave. 'nuff said.
bottom line - things in caves are mean. don't go in caves.
this author has clearly been in a cave or two and she knows how to write about them in the most chillingly evocative way. there's so much great detail about both the beauty and the danger of this environment; it's a powerful juxtaposition that really heightens the chills.
Looking around, I find myself in a wide, high-domed chamber forested floor to ceiling with dripstone. Farther back, overlapping ledges of white limestone crease and crinkle like bolts of brocade. The scene is enchanting and eerie, a grand Gothic hall carved out of calcite and ornamented with aragonite blooms.
lovely, right? makes you want to experience all that natural splendor firsthand but hold up, because that's how they get you.
this particular cave is in the brotterling cave complex in kentucky, and it has a bad reputation. because sometimes, people who go in come back… changed; driven mad and prone to spree killings and suicide.
As any caver around here will tell you, even minus the uncanny noises, the Brotterling can kill you in any number of ways. One is by tricking you into thinking it’s not a damn dangerous cave. The first two hundred feet or so are deceptively easy: after you’ve slithered and squeaked past a row of huge boulders crowded together like a mouthful of grey, diseased teeth, the cave opens up like a belly. A bit farther on, you stroll down a broad, pebbly incline while the natural light gradually dims. The vertical slit of the opening shrinks to the size of a peach pit. Suddenly, you find yourself in a constricted, mausoleum-black oubliette. You switch on your headlamp and commence the descent, scuttling through barely shoulder-width tunnels, snaking up vertical cracks, traversing a series of amber-blue lakes, some of which you can ford without getting your knees wet, others deepening into treacherous sumps where you’ll drown if you don’t have a rebreather or a damn good set of lungs.
you lost me at "slithered and squeaked." i'll be waiting in the car, reading and eating gummy worms.
despite how delicious and willy wonka-like this sounds:
a sprawling catacomb dripping with soda-straw stalactites and mounded with nodular masses of calcite popcorn. Crystals of moonmilk, a carbonate material the texture of cream cheese, festoon the floor.
nope! nice try, gingerbread house! car doors are LOCKED!
back to the brotterling: every few decades, a caver fails to resurface or, worse, crawls back out physically whole but with a maimed mind and homicidal intent.
and it has happened again.
two cavers entered, one caver left. the one who made it out wounded is deaf, and he claims that his brother was signing to him about hearing music from distant and delicate singers right before he clonked him over the head with a rock and left him unconscious and bloody.
a team of professional cavers go in to rescue/apprehend the man, but they, too, fail to return.
karyn is a less-experienced caver than the rest, but since her former lover pree (and pree's fiance issa mamoudi) are among the missing team, she is determined to bring them back. karyn's also got a very rare and specific form of synesthesia where she experiences sounds through touch. assuming that this will prevent her from falling prey to the cave sirens or whatever they are, she plugs her ears and begins her … descent.
and what she finds... oh man.
horrors upon horrors.
if you are claustrophobic, be warned - taylor writes very detailed scenes of trapped-in-small-places that made even not-claustrophobic me a little jumpy. and all the echoing mystery-noises and unexplored pools with pale sticky eyeless creatures in 'em and flooded tunnels where you have to swim and swim with no sense of when the water will end and you can have some nice refreshing air again - brrr shivery. no caves for me, thanks! but i'll take that synesthesia, if you're offering.
i gave it five stars because it was the perfect thing for me to read at the moment i read it, but it's not a perfect story. the synesthesia element is woefully underplayed and there are some bits at the end where my inability to picture weird monstery shit impeded me big time (although my ears perked up at "caviar").
but the parts i like, i really really liked. caves - who needs 'em?
When I were first learning to shoot a rifle, Pa told me that nearly every battle people face is in their heads. If you think you can't do something, yWhen I were first learning to shoot a rifle, Pa told me that nearly every battle people face is in their heads. If you think you can't do something, you won't. If you believe you can, it's only a matter of time before you will.
this is like True Grit, without all the moralizing
for some reason, i thought this was a middle grade book when i saw it at BEA; a fun, spunky pigtailed girl-western. and now i know what it feels like to be wrong. it lists as YA, but it has definite crossover potential and you could pass it off as adult fiction, were you so inclined.
it's a true western, in all its sweaty, smelly glory.
kate thompson is eighteen years old when she finds her father murdered - hanging from a tree while their house burns to the ground.
yeah, definitely not middle grade.
kate has been raised by her father henry ever since her mother died of tuberculosis. he taught her many important skills like how to shoot a rifle and play a mean hand of poker, and also encouraged in her the more ladylike pastimes like an appreciation for Little Women. and all of her life, he drilled into her that if anything ever happened to him, she was to go to wickenburg and find abe colton, who would take care of her.
and now something has happened.
because it turns out, her father has been keeping secrets from her; secrets that have led to his murder by the notorious rose gang. kate buries her father, packs up the few things remaining from their life together, grabs her stetson, her guns and her horses and sets off to kill every last member of the rose gang.
definitely not middle grade
disguised as a boy, she sets out for wickenburg, calling herself nate. when she arrives, she finds that abe died a few years back, leaving behind his three children - will, jesse and sarah. jesse gives her a letter henry had left for her which spills his secrets and his intention for her to live with abe should his past catch up to him, no matter how old you are when you read this. but abe's not there anymore, and kate/nate's got other plans.
and they all involve bullets.
still disguised as nate, she's frustrated when will and jesse tag along on her journey, claiming they have business in the same direction. she's impatient with their chatter, distracting her from her contemplation of the journey ahead and its grim possibilities
And this is where we differ, me and the Coltons, 'cus for them, walking out of those mountains matters. But I only want to avenge my father's blood. It ain't like I gotta live through it to be successful. Besides, what do I got to go home to anyway - a burned house and no family? I just gotta keep my heart beating long enough to fire my pistol six times. Once for Waylan Rose, and once for each of his remaining crew.
So long as they go down, I don't much care if I go with 'em.
definitely not middle grade
along the way she will both end and save lives, manipulate situations to her benefit, devise a kickass con that ends in the best poker scene i've ever read, and develop an uneasy friendship with an apache girl called liluye. there will be treasure maps, haunted mines, native american folklore, shootouts and more fire, and kate will discover more secrets than she expects. it's a fantastic coming-of-age character study, with growth, acceptance, maturity, and self-reliance. and yessssss, there may be some romantic elements. but it's not at all cheesy, i promise.
kate is a wonderfully determined character. she's fearless and unsentimental about the task at hand, feeling a little remorse when she has to kill someone who is on the lower end of the "deserving it" spectrum, but otherwise totally on board with the whole vengeance thing. she's mildly curious about the ease with which she is able to slip into the role of avenger: I ain't killed before, and it shouldn't've been so easy, but true to the genre, she doesn't spend a lot of time dwelling on it. when terrible things happen, she allows herself ten minutes of crying, then dusts herself off and gets back on that horse. literally.
it's written in a sort of cowboy dialect, and after a while, the use of "i'se" made me cringe, but other than that, this was a completely engaging, well-written western. it's not for the squeamish or the faint of heart, and it is definitely not middle grade, as i believe i have mentioned, but if you are a grown-up who likes grit lit or a teen who likes strong female protagonists, or any combination of the above, this is a must-read. ...more
the opening chapter of this book could have come from any post-apocalyptic novel as an eleven-year-old girl wanders alone with her gas mask through athe opening chapter of this book could have come from any post-apocalyptic novel as an eleven-year-old girl wanders alone with her gas mask through a deserted town with boarded-up windows, wondering where everyone has gone.
but this is 1940 suffolk, and lydia has just run away from her temporary shelter in wales, where she had been evacuated with several other children until her family could come for her. bullied and homesick, she decides to return to greyfriars, her family home, only to find the village empty, the house abandoned. with nowhere else to go, lydia settles into the comfort of familiar surroundings, convinced her mother will return for her. instead, in the middle of the night, a wounded german soldier named heiden arrives, telling her he is part of the first wave of an imminent german occupation. he promises not to hurt her, but he will not allow her to leave the house, claiming it is for her own safety. over the course of six claustrophobic days, the two of them will form an uneasy alliance despite lydia's initial fear and the cracks that keep appearing in heiden's story as it becomes clear he knows more about her family than he should.
it's a quietly-told and subtle story that moves slowly but is nonetheless engrossing, as we are taken from the present to the past and given backstory both for heiden and for lydia's family, and the pivotal place where those stories overlap, in the dynamite room.
the shelves are full of war stories that recount the effects of war on civilians, on children, on soldiers; books about how innocence is tarnished and idealism crushed, about the things people do in war that they could never see themselves doing in ordinary times, how turning away is as big a sin as participation, etc - all the usual themes of wartime novels, particularly WWII novels. but it's the writing in this book that sets it apart - it's deliberate and lyrical and the unusual situation gives the story a fairytale cast as these two characters come to know each other in an ever-changing dynamic/struggle/power play. it's one of those haunting novels that makes for a beautiful reading experience, even though the themes may be familiar.
and it's another exceptional debut for 2015....more