The Vampire's Daughter is gripping story of vampire romance, but is just as heavy on the adventure. I like the medieval setting, it makes for an interThe Vampire's Daughter is gripping story of vampire romance, but is just as heavy on the adventure. I like the medieval setting, it makes for an interesting atmosphere with the conflict between the religious hunters against the 'nosferatu', who are well-written with their own fair motivations. A deep story as these kinds go.
The narrative is about Victoria, who is the daughter of the mysterious Vincent. Although it is not revealed initially that he is a vampire, with the title I don't think it's a spoiler to say so. Author Leigh Anderson is good at world-building, by gradually revealing the backstory of how vampires (and their eternal enemies, the werewolves/lycans) work in this universe.
Victoria is positive female protagonist, even though in this setting she doesn't always get to control her own life she still pushes hard to make the decisions that move the plot forward. Ultimately it's a tragic romance with her love Ethan, and the ending is very satisfying.
Fans of Whitewolf games and gothic literature would enjoy this more than than Twilight-style romance readers, but pretty much anyone would appreciate the fine writing. Don't feel pigeonholed by the genre, and just enjoy this tale of the supernatural!...more
I am so glad this book exists. After the insanity of 2016, and reading current events as they were happening, I was anxiously awaiting an actual bookI am so glad this book exists. After the insanity of 2016, and reading current events as they were happening, I was anxiously awaiting an actual book to read which could put the whole mess into a proper historical frameworks.
Insane Clown President is mostly made up of the brilliant Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone articles at the time (of course, the comparison to Hunter S. Thompson can't be avoided), but the introduction and epilogue alone make this book worth it.
Taibbi definitely has a very important perspective in analyzing what was happening. And it's not just about how bad Trump is, even though he really is that bad. It's about the failure of the Democrats to learn any functional lesson. It's about how the Clintons went from (somewhat) revolutionary to status quo globalism. It's about Bernie Sanders. Obama of course. Even Bush. And at last the alt-right's uniquely American racism. But yes, it's mostly about the horror of the Republican party's clown car primaries which led to the present disaster we are in.
The media analysis in particular is crucial. He knows all the games from the so-called liberal media, and criticizes the establishment with all the zeal they deserve. It's amazing how he took Trump seriously early on, and how obvious in retrospect the political media's playbook is and why it was so easy for Trump to destroy the entire apparatus.
Some things Taibbi did get wrong, which he admits and reflects on. I too thought that 2016 was supposed to be a story about the destruction of the Republican Party, rather than of the whole country. But even when wrong, it's fascinating to see just why the predictions didn't turn out that way.
This book is indispensable for anyone who is still trying to wrap their heads around the whole thing. Written with trademark wit and plenty of thoughtfulness, I hope it will somehow help in the healing process. And I hope someone out there in power is going to read it and try to understand better just what the hell is going on, and then one day use that knowledge to somehow at least get started on the fix. ...more
What an excellent little expat memoir about Lijiang in the 1930s to 40s. It's a shame this book isn't widely available and only locally published in CWhat an excellent little expat memoir about Lijiang in the 1930s to 40s. It's a shame this book isn't widely available and only locally published in China (warning there are some typos), but the author's take on this lesser-known part of China is incredible in its unique knowledge.
Lijiang is one of the most diverse parts of China with lots of different minority groups who lead lifestyles that can be different from the more commonly explored Han majority. Goullart mostly talks about the Naxi -- spelled Nahki in the book -- and Tibetans but also touches upon many varied mountainous peoples such as the Miao and many others. There is much to learn about the culture and religion and history of this region.
Sometimes his point of view is very frank compared to modern standards, with his opinions that can generalize entire races and nationalities. Yet one never senses it is with a mean spirit, and indeed he is always appreciative of his chance to learn more and expand his experiences with other people.
Interestingly, because it is a book published within the PRC, the book ends on a sad note of communist uprisings in 1949 that turned out to be very horrifying for the locals. It is a shame that so many different cultural aspects have been lost to history, but at least this wonderful memoir exists to preserve some of the memory......more
Douglas Rushkoff is more well-known for writing explorations on cutting edge media, and critiques on the digital economy in particular of late, but heDouglas Rushkoff is more well-known for writing explorations on cutting edge media, and critiques on the digital economy in particular of late, but he also has an impressively growing body of work in the medium of fictional comics. Aleister & Adolf is the new graphic novel--more like graphic novella sized--that takes up powerful ideas about symbols and utilizes such to delve deeply into the occult in the World War II setting. The Beast himself Aleister Crowley (in his later years) vs the Nazis, a great premise indeed.
It should be said that the black and white art by Michael Avon Oeming is excellent, with solid storytelling in expressive cartoony stylings with an ability to get psychedelic when the need arises. No critiques there, though color would be nice but can't complain about the power of the imagery. However, this review will be more about the writing content.
Aleister & Adolf would have fit well as a classic Vertigo book, but let's be honest Vertigo isn't what it once was and it's good to see Rushkoff at publisher Dark Horse Comics. His last graphic novella formatted book Adolescent Demo Division was published by DC/Vertigo yet the science fiction plot wasn't a perfect fit. Now with the post-Karen Berger comics world Dark Horse is taking up the job.
While I do like these short books like A.D.D. that can be read in one sitting, it would be preferable to have more to read. That's the main problem of Aleister & Adolf. It's too short. Which is a good problem to have; it's a great book and it leaves wanting a lot more. The nature of the comics medium does tell the story very succinctly and everything that needs to be said is said. But one still wishes that there could have been a miniseries several chapters longer to stay in this narrative longer...
Most of all, as for the comics medium, it's perfect for getting into the power of sigil magic upon our world. That's the overall point, isn't it?
So, the plot. Told in flashbacks, an aging war photographer agent goes on a mission to recruit Aleister Crowley as part of a propaganda operation against Hitler during World War II. The ambiguity over whether the intelligence agencies believe in magick is wonderful. Is Crowley a magician pretending to be an agent or an agent pretending to be a magician? Does it matter of magick is literally "real" so long as the Nazis believe so and can be manipulated? Questions like that remain unanswered and we the readers can only speculate.
The conspiracy theory angle is also worth contemplating. Did Crowley really create the V for Victory signal in the fight against the Swastika? Were the Nazis really practicing genocidal death magic all that time (and if so, can sex magick win against that)? Was Rudolph Hess a part of this operation? Then there is the name-dropping: Ian Fleming, of course. Even Jack Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard is briefly mentioned, which is a delight to any fan of this kind of trivia.
Aleister & Adolf touches on so much, and it's a shame it ends after as a quick a read as that. The journey shouldn't be over though: After reading no doubt one will be online all night further researching the power of sigils and all the above subjects.
There's more going on in the world than we might now, and the psychic plane of ideas may yet be more worth paying attention to than we have all been told... This short comic certainly doesn't have all the answers, but it's a great starting primer for learning more.
I know I'll be lending my copy around. In this uncertain age were it seems like the good ideas are losing, I hope more people start thinking this through. I hope more people will be reading.
I'm not quite sure how to review this book. I general like drug literature, and I find ayahuasca a fascinating brew in particular. But this novel entiI'm not quite sure how to review this book. I general like drug literature, and I find ayahuasca a fascinating brew in particular. But this novel entitled "Ayahuasca" doesn't really seem to fit the nature of the psychedelic at all.
Basically, there's a lot of gore and violence and it's hard to know what the point of reading this is. The author does display talent in trying to disturb the reader, in some parts, but overall I do not get the point. Basically it's about two very privileged and unlikable white guys going on a rampage in South America. The titled drug they take in one chapter isn't really the core of it all. The two guys are antiheroes one supposes, but they aren't the kind of characters one loves to hate. One just doesn't like them. At first it seems like satire how ridiculously awful and vulgar the characters in the novel are, but then the tone tries to be serious and it just doesn't work. Is it just shock value? Am I supposed to root for them in a weird way or not? Just why am I reading about these two guys?
At the very end, there are some changes when it comes to a protagonist and even the theme as per the title. It does make for an intense ending to be sure. But for the whole of the read, which at least is generally decently-written if not inconsistent in tone and cliches, I just cannot find it in me to recommend this book....more
Bipolar 1 Disorder - How to Survive and Thrive by Molly McHugh is both a brave memoir and a guide to how to deal with mental illness issues.
McHugh isBipolar 1 Disorder - How to Survive and Thrive by Molly McHugh is both a brave memoir and a guide to how to deal with mental illness issues.
McHugh is very open to her personal struggles, and this makes for an honest read. I appreciate all that she shared, and it's a very compelling memoir. At the same time, it's not exactly a biography that includes every facet of her life (for example, family details are often only skimmed over). Rather, those personal elements are only shared if they are part of the narrative concerning Bipolar I Disorder. It was interesting to read about San Francisco and her college years, tragic as they were, in this kind of memoir.
The information about the disorder is extensive. Both through personal experience, but also through research cited throughout the book. This would come recommended if anyone needs to offer good advice to anyone suffering from it. In some cases, McHugh is a thoughtful critic of what doesn't work in medication and goes through the best methods she has learned through the years.
It is a positive book in the end, with enormous challenges overcome. McHugh shows that she can indeed not only survive but also thrive. After reading, one cannot help but feel for her. ...more
Ready Player One was, I must say at the risk of being corny, just as fun as the video games it so idolizes. A great ride of a novel, indulging in geekReady Player One was, I must say at the risk of being corny, just as fun as the video games it so idolizes. A great ride of a novel, indulging in geekiness to unprecedented levels.
Yes, I know the novel is problematic. It is unironically way too nostalgic, embracing a vision of obsessiveness over 80s pop culture and gaming without criticizing what could go wrong when society stops looking forward. It outright says that when the world sucks at such a dystopian level (a future looking as likely as ever) then it's perfectly appropriate to plug oneself into virtual reality as often as possible, even if there are vague promises that the heroes will save the world if only they could win enough money. Yes, for some reason one giant company gets to be the good guy and one giant company gets to be the bad guy and apparently the lesson is that the capitalism that got humanity into that mess can only be solved by the virtue of running a benevolent company. And yes, the whole reveal with shoehorning a certain character's identity as an African-American lesbian really didn't seem to work.
All that said, what a ride! Stretched to the point of incredulity, the epic game of egg hunters goes from one twist to another in an epic VR landscape. Once actual real-world murder occurs though, one wonders if it makes sense for our hero to keep going on. Validated or not by the end, it's hard to say.
Not a literary masterpiece by any means, all first-person teenage narrated, Ready Player One references very well but mainly doesn't break new ground. Compared to Gibson 80s cyberpunk and Stephenson early 90s postcyberpunk, it doesn't really come close plot-wise or as hard science fiction. Still, the fact that the Metaverse is explicitly stated as part of the Oasis is kinda cool to this humble reader. The scope of this world's version of cyberspace is incredible, with different planets and most seem to be tie-ins for 20th Century properties.
It is curious how copyright law works in the future when everything is a reference...
As a relatively contemporary novel, it is refreshing to read it with regards to current Internet terms. Characters talking about email and blogs gives a different feel at least as opposed to the aforementioned classics of cyberpunk.
There is one part that involves hacking and maneuvering through the dystopian real-world in some daring escapades, as our hero fights the evil fascist corporations head on in a truly thrilling manner, and that is among the strongest parts of the novel. Not everything must be a video game with a hundred Star Wars/Hitchhikers Guide/Atari/Monty Python/Ultraman references a minute.
Lastly, the love story of online dating is nice but a bit hokey. Yeah by the end the lesson is learned that real-life should be better (come on that can't be a spoiler), even though for the bulk of the story that definitely isn't the theme.
And yet despite all the flaws, I very thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to almost anyone. As long as that anyone speaks geek, that is. I'm tempted to give five stars. Ah what the hell, I'm giving the book five stars because I just damn had fun and enjoyed the hell out of it all despite my inner literary snob.
Well, looking forward to seeing how the inevitable movie turns out~...more
Wakeful Children by S P Oldham is a horror anthology that reads fast and is recommended for fans of the genre.
The first story Joe Gallows starts out sWakeful Children by S P Oldham is a horror anthology that reads fast and is recommended for fans of the genre.
The first story Joe Gallows starts out strong, a tale of a poor man in a cycle of violent abuse and revenge. Absorption, the second story, is more experimental written in second-person and it’s an interesting style. Even the tree is a character.
Once I got to the story entitled Sandman, which is about depression and the strange land of sleep, I noticed a recurring theme about dreams. The Century Man explored this, and stories like Crawl being about the deep human fear of the darkness of the night.
Some of the stories such as Allissa, Falling are more like fantasy with its mysterious setting.
Overall, as horror and the supernatural goes, the whole of the book be it hallucinations or dreams concerns how scary it is when reality comes unglued and no one knows what’s really real…
The brevity of the short stories works well, with expressive language. It doesn’t take long to read, so no reason not to give this anthology a try......more
What a well-written short fantasy novella. As a fan of Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire, I enjoyed the realistic fantasy setting. No mages and elvWhat a well-written short fantasy novella. As a fan of Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire, I enjoyed the realistic fantasy setting. No mages and elves, but a medieval worldview from the point of view of a knight. What is really interesting about the plot is the dichotomy between modern warfare and the more chivalrous era: specifically the use of guns versus swords. I shan't say else, read on for more......more
What an interesting new book from master cartoonist Daniel Clowes. Unlike his recent Wilson, or the work he's probably most famous for Ghost World, PaWhat an interesting new book from master cartoonist Daniel Clowes. Unlike his recent Wilson, or the work he's probably most famous for Ghost World, Patience is not exactly grounded in the real world. It's a time travel story, a murder mystery (that genre probably works strongest of all in the mix), and a tragic love story. But don't be fooled into thinking the gritty narrator makes this some Terminator-eque action movie plot. Yet it's not quite like Clowes' earlier surreal Eightball stories either, the narrative structure is quite straightforward as a solid novel. I enjoyed this literary graphic novel and look forward to bugging all my friends to read it next. ...more
Party Members by Arthur Meursault is an intense, ugly, gruesome work of fiction that will leave most feeling nauseous. It’s also a page-turner that isParty Members by Arthur Meursault is an intense, ugly, gruesome work of fiction that will leave most feeling nauseous. It’s also a page-turner that is kind of essential reading for China observers. Reader discretion is advised, be aware that this one may offend many if not all…
Basically, the novel is a satire which viciously critiques the excesses of contemporary post-economic reform China. As titled Party Members, it stars a low-level Communist party member who lives in a third-rate polluted city and decides to indulge in the very worst of corruption. It is incredible how far it goes, which is a testament to author Meursault’s mind in both imagination and depravity.
The protagonist, who is certainly no hero of the story, is Yang Wei. He starts out as a very unremarkable Chinese man. “Not one in a billion, but one of a billion,” exceptional in his mediocrity. The story starts out critiquing how dull and quaint the average Chinese citizen can be in their complacency, but soon Yang Wei stands out indeed as being a particularly shameless party member.
To be specific, one day Yang Wei’s penis starts talking to him and pushes him to literally act like a dick in order to get what he wants. So begins an series of progressively worse moral failings, from familiar disrespect to copious descriptions of prostitution and shallow consumerism. The literary critic in me ponders whether hearing of voices represents schizophrenia, or if an unreliable narrator device is at play. Although later scenes seem to indicate that it is ‘true’ in the world of the story, for reasons unknown his penis seems to gain the ability to speak and thereafter instructs him to be a terrible person.
Comparisons of Irvine Welsh’s Filth come to mind, which was about a corrupt police officer who had a tapeworm that could talk. Somehow, Meursault is even able to outdo the famed Welsh in writing vulgarities.
Despite whether or not the particulars of the story will appeal to all readers, Party Members is mostly well-written by technical standards and stays interesting one way or another. However, the descriptions can get too dense, and there are far too many adjectives. Even several long-winded speeches, satirical as they are, can come across as whiney nihilistic teenage rants. “The only way to be successful is to be a complete and utter dick… Just shit all over it!” More often than not the novel descends into telling not showing, with plenty of words such as “scumbag” thrown around in the narrative, unnecessarily reminding the reader how to judge the various scenarios.
Subtle, Party Members is not. Crass and disgusting, it still can’t be denied that it reads fast. It’s also hilarious at times, with ridiculous situations one can’t help but laugh at. In a sick sort of way. From toilet humor (there is actual drinking of piss as part of a scam marketing campaign), to the recurring theme of copiously describing greasy KFC food.
Yet, as the plot goes on it gets uncomfortably worse. Once the chapter about the child named Shanshan comes—which is about a terrible urban legend in China concerning car accidents and homicides—it becomes very hard to read.
The ending is legitimately horrifying. The question remains though, is this strange China tale supposed to be classified as horror?
Most unlikable protagonist ever. Which is of course the point.
It must be said that China is an enormous and complex country, with major problems but it may not be fair to look at it through the lens that Party Members embraces. The most cynical possible interpretation of Chinese society is a point-of-view worth exploring through this book, but there is a bigger picture and hopefully this isn’t the last word when it comes to China fiction. Meursault is certainly very knowledgeable about China issues and a talented wordsmith, but it just doesn’t seem healthy to focus that intently on the worst of the worst with no solutions whatsoever. Perhaps the genre is dystopia, in that case? Dystopia which takes place in the present.
All in all, reading this will leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. And being able to do that is something of a literary feat, in a way....more
Another epic conclusion to a Shonen jump mega fight! At the ultimate last minute, Luffy has barely defeated the powerful Doflamingo at last. What's reAnother epic conclusion to a Shonen jump mega fight! At the ultimate last minute, Luffy has barely defeated the powerful Doflamingo at last. What's really intriguing about this volume is the setup to what's next for the Straw Hat pirate crew, with the rest of the Oda's incredibly imaginative world is explored at the end. Can't wait to see what happens next with the Four Emperors... ...more
Wow did I of all people not know that Jay McInerney wrote a novel about expats in Japan?
When I came across a used copy of Ransom recently, I had to reWow did I of all people not know that Jay McInerney wrote a novel about expats in Japan?
When I came across a used copy of Ransom recently, I had to read it. I think it's very much worth reading, but for the literary brat pack author's second novel it doesn't hold up well compared to his unique debut with Bright Lights, Big City.
The eponymous character Ransom is interesting, a rich kid running away by studying martial arts in 1970s Japan, is somewhat intriguing although indulgent. Lots of observations on the Japan scene from expats to locals (and lots of bad Engrish), with Vietnamese refugees looming as well.
Much of it did ring true, and McInerney seems to know his stuff when it comes to Japan. But the martial arts aspect didn't interest me, too much of how cool is for a white guy to work hard to train under a sensei. The plot with Ransom's family didn't engage me either. Overall, lots of snippets were good but as a novel I am left uncaring. Perhaps an anthology about the weird 70s Kyoto scene would have been better.
Still, as expat literature goes it is definitely required reading for historical reasons if nothing else....more