Sunday, May 30, 2010

Book Review: Chimeric Machines by Lucy A. Snyder

Title: Chimeric Machines

Author: Lucy A. Snyder

Pages: 85

Received from: publisher


This collection offers three dozen poems to delight readers who enjoy sly wordplay and subtle allusion, high intelligence and fierce heart.

There's something special about a lady who can make the world's biggest oxymoron work.

Chimeric, or chimera: non-human zoology. Or a little green goblin. Or parts of different origin that are seemingly compatable. Any of these, really.

Machines: any device that uses energy to perform some activity. Created.

I'm not entirely sure what to file this under. It's not a book of poetry, at least not by my definetion. Nor is it really fiction, but it is fictional, sometimes. Or maybe it is a poem. Like, an epic poem, a poem creating a story, like Howl.

I don't know. Its all very strange.

In a great way, that is.

Snyder has a way with words. It's kind of scary, but it's kind of beautiful. Disturbing.

Rating: 10 out of 10


I made a new blog documenting my summer-time creative persutes. Right now there are only some pictures I already posted on Tumblr, but soon I'm going to post all these drawings and portraits for my PORTRAITS OF A HOT MESS project Plus, I'm making a dres. So that'll probably be showing up, too. Here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Book Review: Brine by Adrienne Jones

Title: Brine

Author: Adrienne Jones

Pages: 205

Received from: publisher


Meet Elliot, respected Cape Cod painter. Unbeknownst to his admirers, Elliot's got some demons in his past. When he tries to paint them out of his system, his plan backfires. Now Elliot's got some demons in his present and future as well. Spawned by a power of both mind and matter, Elliot's demons are very real, very weird, and very, very pissed off.

Have ya'll ever read a book so fascinating, it doesn't even have to technically be good? That's how I would describe brine (lowercase, apparently). The whole sordid tale(s) is in three parts, each connected by a main character, Elliot, tortured artist inexplicably successful with his countless serene lighthouse paintings, a setting, Cape Cod, and a haunted land, a cottage that also houses Elliot's muse. There lies the products of his tortured past and the past of the land itself, bringing about grotesque creatures that terrorize him throughout the book.

Say what you will about brine, but it is creative, something you don't often see in modern times, where everything has been done. The writing, the dialogue, is all very contrived. And, it should be noted, the last two chapters end with Elliot saying "Rest in peace. For the love of all that is holy. Please. Rest in peace." Make of that what you will.

Nevertheless, it's kinda engrossing. It kind of runs on weird fuel, everything coated in ocean water and seaweed, it would appear. The characters were forgettable at best, just points of view for the story to bounce off of. Even our noble hero, Elliot, just kind of sits around and be moody, before warning people shit is going down. Yet, the story itself, you want to know what happens next. Which, again, is a rarity.

Of course, this depends on your tolerance for, let's admit, somewhat shit writing. On the cover, and two pages inside, there are rave reviews about how the author is the funniest, most visionary writer ever. Hyperbolic, anyway, but the book, aside from a few humorous throwaway lines, it's not very funny. Visionary may be closer, but not to the extent that the hysterical jacket reviews boast.

Course, it certainly is disturbing. The creatures this chick comes up with, the graphic description, you get the feel that if they made this into a movie, it would resonate greater. The Horse-Thing, Man-Thing, the Cod women of the first part, skulk around, never fully developed, but the ties to Elliot's past make them even more horrifying.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Friday, May 28, 2010

creativity: not just for the tobacco-inhaling hipsters, people!

Alright, so ya'll may or may not have noticed my reading pace has slowed...dramatically. I'd like to blame it on homework but, really, like I ever do my homework. No, the real reason is...I don't know. I'm just a bit restless. I've been going out with my friends and fucking around and wishing it was summer, but I just keep feeling like I should be doing something productive. Not school work, mind you, because I feel school is one of the least productive and most distracting things a guy can do without suspending the law of perpetual motion (speaking of which, I won a copy of Dream of Perpetual Motion!!).

I've also been reading a lot of different kinds of blogs. A lot of Tumblrs and this one called A New Dress a Day, and I've been taking a lot of pictures and editing them to look all moody and I've been painting so much my finger tips are purple, and I've been bugging my mom to take me to a flea market and...look, I just really want to make things. Like clothes. Because today I realized how frumpy I've been dressing. Because my guy friend and I were talking about shit and he was OMG so surprised that I liked dresses, because I "dress like a boy".


So my friend and I will be going to the mall and I will buy a bunch of dresses and vintage jewelery and some nice shoes and maybe I'll pierce my eyebrow and maybe I'll start a personal challenge for the summer, like I have to sew my own skirt or actually wear a skirt or do that thing this guy does. Who knows.

Whatever happens, I will be wearing dresses next year. I will.

So, anyone wanna join me in my quest to be more creative? Just raise your hand and say yeah.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

so about LOST...




Thursday, May 20, 2010

Book Review: Split by Swati Avasthi

Title: Split

Author: Swati Avasthi

Pages: 282

Received from: Amazon (or something)


Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.
At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. First-time novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split — how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down.

For some godforsaken reason I keep picking up the Big Bad Abuse Stories. There's something wrong with me.

Anyway. We got Jace, driving all night from Chicago to find his brother who may or may not be there. He's greeted with a med student with a new last name and a girlfriend swinging a bat at him. While there is a totally logical excuse for this, the statement just sounds funnier and chances are a shitload more compelling. Yes, I think so.

So yeah, his brother Christian, who he hasn't seen in five years, reluctantly lets him stay in his little shithole apartment. Jace is all shocked at how Christian managed to get away (which, trust me, was a very elaborate scheme) without once thinking of Jace (and his excuse was, oh, he hadn't hit you yet! please.) So there's some familial dramz there, but the main conflict, I think, is Jace v. himself, 'cos he did something bad, ya'll. I'm not sure if telling you would be a spoiler or not, but yeah. It's pretty fucked up. I kind of loved, how Avasthi didn't make him a sniveling little victim. There was kind of an anti-hero vibe going on as his "bastard-no-more" pledge fails miserably when he starts his new school. Because I hate that, the whiney little victims. Even if they end up victimizing someone else, it still feels more real then a kicked puppy.

I think that was the most appealing part of Split, that the characters weren't just victims, even though most of them had every right to be. Christian, whose kind of a jerk sometimes but doesn't spend all day every day feeling sorry for himself. Jace's girlfriend, who kind of won't take no shit (a major turn on for Jace cause his mother's kind of a jellyfish) but ends up taking a lot of shit, which is why Jace can not will not have anything to do with her (because he needs someone who would throw his ass in jail if he so much as talked to loudly). She should be a victim, according to every other book on a similar subject ever, but she's so bitchy that its not hard to imagine someone smacking her. The only real victim's victim is Jace and Christian's mother who, if anything, is way more hurtful then their mega-violent daddy, because she obviously picking her husband over her children and that kills Jace, so much that he starts crying like a baby for, like, hours. I'd say I wanted to slap her, but obviously that's never gotten her to do anything before, so let's move on.

Avasthi's writing style is minimistic and easy to read. I would have finished it in one sitting if I didn't have homework and school and hygenic standards, but that's just me. While Jace trys his darndest to make you want to hate him, you don't. And its abundent with those "strong" characters that have become a myth in the YA scene, which is ironic because this type of shit is usually all about the weak, spineless doormats. An excellent debut (yo.)

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, May 17, 2010

since im a lazy reviewer, here's a meme

Do you snack while you read? If so, favourite reading snack:

Not really...I have this thing where I can't really pay attention to a ton of shit at one time.

What is your favourite drink while reading?

Sprite or something.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

Me and my friend play this game where we write messages in the margins or circle passages that get our points across to each other so that if the teacher catches us we'd just be like, "Mr. B, its a book. We're feeding out brains!"

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

I've been using the same index card bookmark since seventh grade, fools.

Fiction, non-fiction, or both?

I prefer fiction, but whatever works.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

Depends how exhausted I am. Or if the books really bad. Then its lucky I finished the goddamn sentense.

Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?

Oh yes. Yes I am.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

I just use me uh-mazing Sherlock Holmes skills and figure it out.

What are you currently reading?

Chimeric Machines and Split and Rose Sees Red and The Killer Inside Me and She-Thief...

What is the last book you bought?

Me and my sister just bought Katherine Hepburn's autobiography off Amazon.

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

See above.

Do you have a favourite time/place to read?

There's this gross yellow rolling chair in my kitchen that's the biggest eyesore in the world but always sucks me into its banana-colored clutches.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

Whatever, man.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

Kevin Brooks and Robert Cormier are pretty consistant in my reccomendation rants.

How do you organize your books? (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)

HAHA fuck no. That would require patience, which I do not have.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book Review: Scars by Cheryl Rainfield

Title: Scars

Author: Cheryl Rainfield

Pages: 250

Received from: the lovely, awesome author Cheryl (she left a note!)


Kendra, fifteen, hasn't felt safe since she began to recall devastating memories of childhood sexual abuse, especially because she still can't remember the most important detail-- her abuser's identity. Frightened, Kendra believes someone is always watching and following her, leaving menacing messages only she understands. If she lets her guard down even for a minute, it could cost Kendra her life. To relieve the pressure, Kendra cuts; aside from her brilliantly expressive artwork, it's her only way of coping. Since her own mother is too self-absorbed to hear her cries for help, Kendra finds support in others instead: from her therapist and her art teacher, from Sandy, the close family friend who encourages her artwork, and from Meghan, the classmate who's becoming a friend and maybe more. But the truth about Kendra's abuse is just waiting to explode, with startling unforeseen consequences. Scars is the unforgettable story of one girl's frightening path to the truth.

As you probably know, abuse is a touchy subject, especially in teen fiction. You can't please everyone, and there will always be that group of people up-in-arms about the way you went about it. There is no winning in a situation such as this, because if if you avoid the haters and piss-faces, you still have a book about a horrible, terrible subject on your hands. So it'd be impossible to say Rainfield's YA debut is a success, because it obviously isn't. But I can say, with complete honesty, that she has crafted a touching, affected novel that will leave you thinking of it long after you turned the final page.

After how many years of peaceful ignorance, Kendra has started remembering the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. She knows that if she tells anyone the identity of her abuser, bad shit'll go down, so she cuts up her arm to repress the memories. However, he abuser--we'll call him Anon for conversation's sake--is starting to get a bit nervous, leaving menacing messages for Kendra to happen upon. Herein lies the issue.

On a side note: had I not gotten to the last chapter of this book, I would have written off this plot as completly and totally implausible and just a little ridiculous. But I did happen to get to the last chapter, so it makes a smidge more sense then it would have. So, I won't go into it.

So, I liked Scars. I did. It wasn't a perfect novel, but it had good intentions and got the point across. I kind of found myself comparing it to Speak, in that they both involve a girl who was raped and did the whole "self destructive" thing. I couldn't help but notice the beautiful subtlety in Speak, and the...well, non-subtlety in Scars. From the first page, the reader is literally assaulted with Kendra's frantic and dramatic narrative, her "I was abused, ya'll!!!!" proclaimations never leaving you for a second.

One of the reasons I loved books like Willow and Speak was its ability to creep up on you, playing with your mind to the point where you have no fucking idea whats going on until that one moment where its like, "oh, shit". Not that Scars didn't mess with you, but it was less of a ninja thing and more like a by-the-book-these-are-the-after-effects-of-teh-badness thing. I just kind of thing that less is more, especially with such a delicate subject (I can think of three bloggers off the top of my head who have proclaimed their disdain for the Kiddie Rape genre). I mean, it seemed every time anyone said anything Kendra had to bring up the abuse. Like when her mom asks her if she's going to church, she's all like, "Where was God when I was getting abused?"...outloud. And I'm like, "DUDE, REALLY??!!!". Same situation with her gal-pal Meghan, who's mommy hits her or something. Both of them are way to quick to advertize it to each other--like, three seconds after meeting. I just found it awkward at times, how in your face all these issues were. There's nothing wrong with subtlety.

Aside from that, I found Scars to be a fascinating look into self-harm and the effects of childhood abuse. Despite its flaws, the prose and heroine will keep you interested until the very end.

Rating: 7 out of 10, leaning towards an 8.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Book Review: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

Title: A Little Wanting Song

Author: Cath Crowley

Pages: 228

Received from: author/pub


Charlie Duskin loves music, and she knows she’s good at it. But she only sings when she’s alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus’s Secondhand Record Store. Charlie’s mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she’s visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She’s got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she’s not entirely unspectacular.

Rose Butler lives next door to Charlie’s grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke, but can’t wait to leave their small country town. And she’s figured out a way: She’s won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose’s ticket out.

Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship and romance, Charlie and Rose’s “little wanting song” is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.

Charlie is a motherless outcast with one friend in the world and a talent for music. Every year she and her father head on down to the country. But this years different. This year, she is in the wake of her grandmother's death. This year, everything seems to be worse then it used to be. This year, her only friend is growing away from her and her life is becoming more and more of a solo act. She expects to do what she has always done during these vacations; play music and watch the three best friends that have coinhabited this place with her for as long as she can remember.

Rose, Dave and Luke have been friends forever, Rose and Luke dating just as long. While Luke spends his days getting himself in trouble, Rose and Luke follow, despite their own weak protests. They're bored with their small town, Rose's urgent narrative displaying clearing the claustrophobia, the pure hatred for anyone who makes her stay and anyone who can leave. She throws rocks at cars heading out.

Her only shot at freedom his science, her best and favorite subject. She's been excepted to a prestigious school in the city where Charlie lives full time, and she thinks that if she has a nice, level-headed friend there, her mother would let her go. So she initiates.

I'll admit it, if a book has the word "song" in it I will usually buy it without restraint. So when I heard of this little gem, I immediately sought out the author and pretty much shamelessly begged for a review copy. I am monumentally glad I have no shame, you guys.

I immediatley fell in love with Charlie, who couldn't verbalize anything unless it was put to music, and couldn't let anyone hear her music unless they, like, changed her diapers, so that basically makes her voiceless to most everyone. She was one of those girls who inexplicably fall off the radar, and she made no attempt to remedy that. She just goes with it, silently observing, tormented by the thought that not even her best friend can be around her for too long. In short, she was Everygirl.

I also loved that she loved Nathalie Merchant. I loved that.

Rose took me a while. She will probably take you a while, too. Instantly her narrative is in stark contrast to Charlie's; bitter, restless, clipped as though through clenched teeth. Her anger assaults the reader like a slap in the face after a chapter or two in Charlie's chill musings. I thought I would hate her, because I hate whiners, I really do. I hate narrators who whine and whine and whine but never in the course of the plot attempt to do something about it. But then I realized that, no, Rose is not a whiner. She is angry, she is trapped, and she just wants to get out--but the most important part is that she's trying, like someone with a brain. She is not those stupid "smart cause i said so" girls. You can feel her intelligence with every odd geophysical fact she offers. I loved her friends, how Dave nonchalantly told her how it was and I loved how Luke was not the typical troublemaker boyfriend who gets his girlfriend in deep shit. He actually contributes, he has character, I liked him.

Crowley has a talent for character development. She created two similar, rounded characters without them at all sounding alike, which is a miracle in and of itself, since that virtually never happens. She has given every character a reason to stay relavent, to grab the readers sympathies. And she has done this all in a very readable way. An excellent offering from a talented bish.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Monday, May 10, 2010

its monday! what are you reading? plus some rambling

I know, I know, I'm an ass. Its been about a week since I've posted a thing and to be quite honest with you I'm reading at such a slow pace it might very well be another week until I churn out a review. I hit these sort of ruts all the time, mostly when there's a song I like and I end up wanting to listen to it all the time instead of actually doing something productive. The worst part is that the song isn't even a good song. Its Take It Off by frikken Ke$ha.

there's a hole in the wall
its a dirty free for all...


Anyway, I thought I'd give ya'll an update.

Right now I'm reading A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley. At school, I'm reading The Killer Inside Me because I don't like bringing ARCs into the general public. Its like seeing your priest outside of church or something. Ain't natural.

Next, I'll be reading Scars by Cheryl Rainfield, and after that I'll be reading Rose Sees Red by Cecil Castellucci (which is part of an awesome mini-book tour she set up so everyone can read it. She's a good one, that Cecil.)

I talked to some old friends on Facebook that I haven't seen in years. One's dating this guy in a band, and she asked me if I wanted to meet up at one of his shows. I said no, because I heard the band and they kind of suck. But then I said yes because I want to see her gorgeous face. She got her lip pierced.

I was begging my mom earlier if we could move. This has been a reaccuring argument since I was eleven. We're not poor, but its a pretty wealthy school district so at school it seems like I am, because my mom isn't buying me two hundrd dollar Uggs and I don't have twenty bucks in my back pocket all the time. I've learned to work with it, use it as a joke and shit, but it still kind of sucks. Our house isn't helping.

The ceiling leaks all the time. Our tank keeps overflowing outside and it smells like rotton eggs. The outside is an ugly blue with chipped paint and deteriating roof. There are five old rusted cars in the parking lot. Its a road of eight houses, with no sidewalk, a short cut that everyone in town uses. I'm always finding burnt out cigarettes and crushed soda cans by the mailbox. The pipes on the roof keep falling down. The houses next to us are occupied by old people, with nice lawns and yellow paint. We look like trash in comparison.

I think the main thing is that I want to go somewhere. Ever since I can remember I have to rely on my mom to go anywhere. She's the only one in my family who can drive and she takes twenty minutes to get out of the house. For anything. I can't walk anywhere, because even if I don't get hit by a truck it'd take an hour and a half just to get past the train tracks. If I miss the bus at school, I have to wait two hours after the bell rings for her to pick me up, because that's when she gets off work. And she usually has my dad in the car and that just sucks. I have zero freedom, and I think she did it on purpose, because she knew that I would have to rely on her for everything and she knew I couldn't sneak out to go to a party or something. I'm disconnected from everything in this stupid town and is it such a crime to want to take a stroll to the local CVS and get a candy bar? Is that such a rebellious and mischevious thing? Seriously?

So, yeah. I want to move. To another town, another school cause I'm tired of looking at these people since pre-K. Actually, just kidding. I want to move out of state so I don't have to deal with this Kayleigh's Law shit. And the Jersey Shore.

I want out.

Rose in A Little Wanting Song wants the same thing, so that's kind of awesome.

I'll see you on your blogs. kbai.

(sheila of book journey)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book Review: The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell

Title: The Rise of Reneage X

Author: Chelsea Campbell

Pages: 352

Received from: Travelling Arc Tours


Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she's been hiding all these years, that the one night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father's too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he only has six weeks to prove he's not a hero in any way, or else he's stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.

To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad's “flying lessons” that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city—despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights—thwart the eccentric teen scientist who insists she's his sidekick, and keep his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.

Damien had spent his whole life believing himself to be pure supervillain--despite the mystery that is his father. But on the day of his sixteenth birthday, instead of a v appearing on his thumb, he gets himself the mythical Third Letter--x. The apparent offspring of a villain and a hero, Damien knows he'd be the laughing stock of the villainous world if this gets out, not to mention completly ineligable for the top Supervillain school in the country. To better understand the severity of this issue, he goes on a hunt to find his superhero daddy, and finds out he's the host of a kid's safety program him and his BFFL Kat have mocked since they were youngins. Though more attractive a sperm donor then his less extravigant options, Damien is dismayed. Especially when BabyDaddy insists on having Damien spend the next six weeks with him.

Okay, is it possible to adore a book as much as I adored Renegade X? I think not.

I loved the entire concept from the start--world full of superheroes, story set in a New York City like metropolis with the highest villain/hero concentration in the world. And, like any city with a high concentration of anything, there are many a-colorful person. Has-been heroes taking jobs as dog trainers, bullies and mean girls wearing gloves on their right hands as a fashion statement to pretend they're villains. Folks born with a fucked up gene that decides for them what they will be: villain, hero or civilian. Criminal, savior or victim. And those really are the only options.

Damien was, hands down, the least-whiniest sixteen year old I've ever had the privelage to read about. Sure, he was sarcastic and snarky (my people!) but in a way that didn't make me want to rip out his intestines and choke him with it. That, my friends, is a rare treat indeed. I could totes picture this kid running around bitchslapping babydaddies and causing some X-rated chaos (ah-oooooooh!), and ya'll know if there's one thing I love, its a realistic protagonist. (Ignoring that fact that it took a novel about superheroes to get there).

I loved the whole black sheep angle Campbell took when sending Damien to live with his superhero family. For a few pages there, it felt like I was reading one of those middle grade shenanigan-laced adventures that ya'll know you love. You know, if everyone stopped making those hit-or-miss sex jokes.

The only problems I really had with Renegade X was the romance and the end. The romance, because (like everything else these days) it felt forced and a little out of place. Don't get me wrong, Damien and Kat were cute together and all that, but I didn't really see how they were in a relationship. Because they already tried that, see, but she used her Evil ShapShifting Power to make out with his best friend at a party a year ago, so I'm like, um, doesn't that warrant permanent seperation? I think so.

The end was what really drove me batshit. SPOILERS When Damien chooses to leave his eeeevil mother, who raised him, in favor of the superhero family he just met because its the right thing to do! I was about ready to tear this shit a new one. Whats this saying to you? That there can only be black and white, and you better pick white or yer going downstairs? Did it never occur to him that abondoning the women who made your meals and kissed your boo-boos would be just as negative a reflection on your character? And you can do this to your mother (who's a perfectly nice lady, aside from the whole mad scientist shtick) because she's a villain, but you can't dump your girlfriend, who's also a villain, only she made out with your best friend on your birthday while you were dating? Are you fucking serious?

So, aside from some obvious Good v. Evil cliches, Renegade X had the best protagonist I've read in a long time, and I sincerly hope there's more of him in Ms. Campbell's writing future.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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