Thursday, March 31, 2016

THROWBACK THURSDAYS: LISA FRANK

If you grew up in the 80’s and 90’s you have probably heard of Lisa Frank. Certainly you would recognize her handiwork. I had piles of stickers, pencils, and folders of rainbow unicorns, painting pandas, smiling orcas, and neon tiger cubs. When you see Lisa Frank merchandise you have to admit that the shiny, happy, glitter explosion has its own unique style. Seriously so magical. I look at these images and I am transported to my childhood.

Growing up I was drawn to neon cuteness, presumably the same way I was drawn to Freezy Freakies, Unico, and anything a bright dayglo pink. Everything was so colorful, so adorable, so…me as a kid. She was the epitome of cool for me. And I needed to own all of the things. I know I had at least one Trapper Keeper that was Lisa Frank.


Some cool facts about Lisa Frank. She started her company when she was 24 in 1979 (makes me look incredibly…le sigh). That same year she received a million dollar order from Spencer Gifts (a place I spent a lot of time at). Most of the designs were airbrush painted until the 90’s where things switched to computers. It began with stickers and her own unique characters then expanded.

Lisa Frank is still out there. While now everything is contracted out you may have seen some clothing at Urban Outfitters. There is even a Tarot set. She will always have a place in my heart. I seriously need more adorable jaguars in my life or Princess cats.

Were you or are you still a Lisa Frank fan? What was your favorite design? Did you like the inclusion of people later in Lisa Frank’s career. Do you still own Lisa Frank stuff?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TUESDAY TRAILERS: CAPTAIN AMERICA - CIVIL WAR

I am not a huge fan of the Civil War story in the comics however I do like the overall basis of it. The movie looks like it strays from the comic book adventures and that is a good thing. And yet I look forward to seeing a potentially new group of supes from the Marvel universe make their debut and become more important in the MCU. I also am looking forward to seeing Tony and Steve square off. Steve wants to believe that Bucky can atone and believes the best in people even when he has seen their worst. Tony is arrogant, always has been, but Ultron knocked him down a few pegs. Now he has to try even further to prove that he is right, that he knows what is best…for everyone even if it means fighting against his friends. It will be interesting if he eventually makes it to Director of SHIELD. I am still marking my calendar for this one. I can’t help it. I am super excited and will always be a Marvel girl. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: After another incident involving the Avengers results in collateral damage, political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability, headed by a governing body to oversee and direct the team. The new status quo fractures the Avengers, resulting in two camps, one led by Steve Rogers and his desire for the Avengers to remain free to defend humanity without government interference, and the other following Tony Stark's surprising decision to support government oversight and accountability..…Opens May 6, 2016.

Friday, March 25, 2016

10 CLOVERFIELD LANE: A REVIEW

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)
Directed By: Dan Trachtenberg
Written By: Josh Campbell and Matthew Stuecken
Genre: THRILLER/MYSTERY/SCI-FI
Rated: PG-13
Time: 103 min
Starring: John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr.
Plot: After getting in a car accident, a woman is held in a shelter with two men, who claim the outside world is affected by a widespread chemical attack.

Comments: I knew nothing about the film until the trailer surfaced a few months ago. The trailer didn’t show a lot which is a good thing. It had a great cast which included John Goodman and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Goodman looked wonderfully creepy and crazy. While not a sequel to Cloverfield it looked like a different story but same universe. After much convincing while my father was visiting we went and saw it.

Michelle (Winstead) flees her apartment and fiancĂ©, driving away into the night to parts unknown. Visibly upset she ignores any phone calls from her fiancĂ© as well as the radio reports about a large unexplainable southern blackout. Suddenly her car skids and tumbles off the road before anyone really knows what is going on. When she comes to she finds herself in an underground bunker, her wounds tended to, but she is chained to the wall. Howard (Goodman), her rescuer, is a strange doomsday prepper who explains that he cannot let her leave for the world they knew is gone. Chemical attack, WWIII, or aliens….Howard isnt sure, but he knows that Michelle’s only chance at surviving is to stay there. Along with Emmet, Howards neighbor who helped him build the bunker, they try to figure out what is happening and how to trust one another. But is everyone telling the truth?

Let’s get some little things out of the way. The soundtrack was wonderful. Thank you Bear McCreary (Battlestar Galactica, Outlander, The Walking Dead). It complemented the film well since there is very little dialogue. Its jarring when it needs to be and quietly menacing in other spots. The trio of Goodman, Gallagher, and Winstead was amazing. There was tension, confusion, anticipation, laughter…so many scenes I would love to talk about. But this is one of those films that I think it is better going in not knowing a damn thing.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the keep you guessing aspect. Goodman does this oh so well. You think you have things figured out and then you wonder if it’s all just a red herring. Then you start wondering again. Things make sense. Then they don’t. As I said John Goodman is bloody fantastic. Sometimes he is creepy and controlling, only a few fries short of the Happy meal. And then another moment he is likable, funny, and garners some sympathy.

As a whole I thought it was a good film, though not an amazing film. While some elements were no surprise, I was entertained. I happen to like the film more without the last twenty minutes, but understand its inclusion (admittedly this is why I did not give it 4 popcorns). For a first time big feature film Trachtenberg did a great job. Worth seeing.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema. I thought the tension was delightful and worth seeing on the big screen.

3.5/4 popcorns

MARCH LOOT CRATE: VERSUS

A couple of years ago I was struggling to find a unique anniversary gift for the Rogue and after looking at all of the goodies offered on Lootcrate I decided to give it a go. We have been happy about it ever since. Granted The Rogue gets all the t-shirts for his ever growing collection, but I get a good share of the goodies as well. This month’s theme was Versus. I wasn’t insanely thrilled about this crate as I knew it would probably be a little DC heavy and I am more of a Marvel girl. The Rogue was excited because he got a monthly gift as per usual.

** Exclusive Star Trek Shirt: Yay Spock. This shirt from Quantum Mechanix has Spock and Mirror Spock. Not our favorite tee to come out of Loot crate, but striking and I know that E will get comments on his cool shirt like he usually does. Really happy that a t-shirt is now in every loot crate this year.

** Daredevil/Punisher Reversible Beanie: This was my favorite thing from the crate though it rarely gets cold enough around here for me to actually warrant wearing a hat. Damn you California sunshine.

*** Batman V Superman Mighty Wallet: We have seen Mighty Wallets everywhere, but never bought one. Not sure how durable they are and not sure if E will actually use it as One: he’s not a huge DC fan and even less of a fan of the film coming out. Two: He loves the wallet he has. I do think I have the perfect person to gift it to however.

***Alien V Predator Vinyl Figure: We love vinyl figures. They can be found everywhere in our home. This little Predator is so damn adorable. The Xenomorph is just as cute. I wish the Predator’s mask came off, but that’s because I adore their ugly little mugs. We know exactly where this little guy is going.

***Exclusive Harley Quinn Comic Book: I do love Harley and I really enjoy when Loot Crate puts comics in the crates every now and again. This one has Harley going on her very own adventure for looters when she finds a genie bottle at the bottom of the sea. I wonder if any of the creators of it will be at ECCC?

*** Alien/Predator Pin: I love that the pins are more lapel pins than the button pins. This time the pin unlocks a complimentary rental of either Aliens or Predator from vudu.com. Cool, except we already own both films. I thought this month’s magazine was great. The Rogue really loved the Spot the Spock and wishes that it was available as a poster so that he could hang it in his office.

So for an exchange of $13.37 + $6 shipping, we got chock full of dead themed goodness. I am estimating about $40-50 worth of goodies though again you had exclusives so that is hard to put a price on. So far we have been very happy about our loot crates. What’s you think of this month’s Loot Crate if you are a nerdy looter like we are? If you are interested in signing up or just want to learn more, head on over to “Loot crate” . You can use the code “SAVE3” to save $3 off your first box.

Now because I love Loot Crate so much I also do their Level Up Box as well and get a couple of Accessories every month as well. This month it is hair ties (which I use a ton) and some bestie necklaces.

*** DC Hair Ties: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman hair ties. Love these. I have long hair and am constantly putting my hair up. While this type of band also falls out of my hair a bit quicker, They look great on my wrist when it’s not holding my hair back. I may not be excited about the movie, but I still like Batman, Supes, and Wonder Woman. I have Batman in my hair as I type. Totally worth it.

*** Batman V Superman Bestie Necklace set: This is the second time I have received a bestie necklace set. As a woman past the age of 16 it doesn’t hold as much excitement for me. Wearing them separately not a bad thing, but again I am not a huge DC fan and so I cannot really see myself wearing these a whole lot. However my friend Lisa will adore these both and probably wear one when she drags me to the movie later this weekend.

Level Up will run you $15, but like Loot Crate you get more happy goodies and I have been happy with it for the last couple of months. Like I said, if you are interested in signing up or just want to learn more, head on over to “Loot crate” . You can use the code “SAVE3” to save $3 off your first box.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

DISPLACEMENT: A TRAVELOGUE - A REVIEW

Displacement: A Travelogue
Written by: Lucy Knisley
Paperback: 161 pages
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Language: English
February 2015
Genre: Travelogue/Memoir/Graphic Novel

In her graphic memoirs, New York Times-best selling cartoonist Lucy Knisley paints a warts-and-all portrait of contemporary, twentysomething womanhood, like writer Lena Dunham (Girls). In the next installment of her graphic travelogue series, Displacement, Knisley volunteers to watch over her ailing grandparents on a cruise. (The book s watercolors evoke the ocean that surrounds them.) In a book that is part graphic memoir, part travelogue, and part family history, Knisley not only tries to connect with her grandparents, but to reconcile their younger and older selves. She is aided in her quest by her grandfather s WWII memoir, which is excerpted. Readers will identify with Knisley s frustration, her fears, her compassion, and her attempts to come to terms with mortality, as she copes with the stress of travel complicated by her grandparents frailty.

+++++++++++++

“Whenever I travel through crowded places, I'm struck by how human beings en masse are so incredibly hideous, while individual humans can be so heartbreakingly beautiful. Congregated: ugly, ubiquitous, and repellent. Individually: nuanced, intricate, beautiful, and unknowable. Fragile, separate, singular...fascinating. This just kills me.”

Lucy Knisley is one of my favorite graphic novelists ever since I read French Milk when it first came out. In fact because I loved that book so much I started picking up comics again. I was sad that I did not get the chance to speak to her last year at Emerald City Comic Con due to my travel arrangements, but Kristin did get Displacement signed by her. It just took me a while to read it.

Lately I have felt old. The icons from my childhood are passing on (David Bowie & Alan Rickman most recently). My parents are also getting older, just like me and the Rogue. California has made me feel my age in ways that I never expected. Maybe it is a combination of everything, but I have been more aware of my mortality move than ever before. It weirds me out.

Unfortunately, I lost most of my grandparents when I was in my twenties all in the span of about 9 months and I have never really been close to my surviving Grandpa. And yet this was a story I could relate to in other ways, deeply personal ways. I cannot imagine taking my 90 year old grandparents by myself on a cruise (It would have been a hoot in any case if you knew my Granny). And yet that is exactly what Lucy did. She was reeling from a breakup and set out on adventures. This was one of them. She also brought along her grandfather’s memoir about his time in the war.

Allen and Phyllis, Lucy’s Grands, are 93 and 90. They did not travel a lot when they were younger, but have decided to go on a cruise with a group from their assisted living home. Neither of them are really capable of handling daily living by themselves, so Lucy volunteers to be their caregiver on the week long cruise. She was not sure what to expect. She knew it would be a story, but what kind? Comedy gold? A bonding trip with her grands? A frustration fest? A chance to have Caribbean Adventures? A depressing insight into her Grands’ deteriorating health? Maybe all of the above? Yes perhaps it was all of the above. Plus Lucy weaves in excerpts from her grandfather’s memoir along with memories of life with her grands when she was younger. Sure we get the reflections on mortality, but more as well.

Things I liked: Lucy is insanely talented…and honest. I think that is what I love about her. I am a voyeur through her works of art and storytelling. I learned a lot from this glimpse into Lucy’s life. I also learned that cruises may not be for me even though the Rogue really wants to go on one next year. I learned that it is hard being a caregiver, even if we all knew that already. It’s even harder to see the mortality of those you love. We want our family to be immortal. Its sobering when we realize that they are not. Lucy goes through a ton of emotions on that cruise: fear, sadness, frustration, anger, joy, laughter, and nostalgia. Quite the gambit.

I also wasn’t as close to my grandparents as I wish I could have been when I was older. I wish I could have learned more about their lives before they became grandparents. I wish I could have added even more memories to the ones I already have. This book made me miss them. It also made me think I should do more traveling with my own parents. Now if only we could afford to do it. *smile*

I think the thing I loved the most about this book though were the excerpts from her grandfather’s war memoir as an Air Force pilot. As an Air Force brat with my own father in the Air Force and then Guard growing up I felt a kinship to these stories. Even if they did take place in World War II. It is also a glimpse into who her grandfather was when he was younger. When it is mixed with his current state, it just left me thinking.

This book, as I said, invoked a lot in me. Including guilt. While Lucy may not adventure into completely new territory she is honest with this. She feels the repulsion at age and frailty, is frustrated by small things her grands do because of the far that she might be like that someday. But also she is aggravated at her other family members who did not go on the cruise, at the passerbys who shoot dirty looks at her grandfather who has wet himself, or the organizers of the cruise who seem to spend very little time caring for the group (they were at an assisted living home people). Above it all she loves them so deeply and that is achingly apparent in Displacement. I think in writing this book she reconciled quite a few things and I am happy that I went on that journey with her.

Things I didn’t like so much: Something, I still cannot seem to put it into words, made me not fall absolutely in love with this. And yet I have very little faults with it. Perhaps because it stirred so many emotions in me. Perhaps because I wanted more. At times this felt safe. Almost too safe. I guess I just wanted more and I know that she can do more. Such a slight quibble though. I am still placing it on the shelf along with her other books.

Buy or Borrow: Buy.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: Please try Lucy’s other books French Milk, Relish, and An Age of License. Other great graphic novels are American Elf by James Kochalka, Everyday Matters by Danny Gregory, and The Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa

3.75 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

TUESDAY TRAILERS: FINDING DORY

Finding Nemo is one of my favorite films. I quote it…a lot. When I am feeling sad, I watch it. When I am feeling happy I watch it. When I go to aquariums with the Rogue, it is a full blown Nemo show. I am on board for a sequel even though it looks like I may like annual trips to aquariums a bit less. It looks funny. It looks cute and probably full of even more dialogue for me to quote. Now I feel the need to go make a plush Whale Shark. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: "Finding Dory" reunites Dory with friends Nemo and Marlin on a search for answers about her past. What can she remember? Who are her parents? And where did she learn to speak Whale?.…Opens June 17, 2016.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

TRIGGER WARNING: A REVIEW

Trigger Warning
Written by: Neil Gaiman
Paperback: 310 pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Language: English
October 2015
Genre: Collection/Anthology/Fiction

Multiple award winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things—which includes a never-before published American Gods story, “Black Dog,” written exclusively for this volume.

In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction—stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013—as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.

Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story—a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane—Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year—stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.

A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.


+++++++++++++

Neil Gaiman is one of my heroes and one that I hope to meet some day. When I need an escape it is his stories I instinctively go to. When I want something with a little bit of teeth, I go to Gaiman. And when I want to let my imagination run wild I reach for Neil’s works. It is through him that I learned to love comics through the Endless and so many more things.

Now if you are new to Gaiman and have no idea what I am talking about when I speak of the Endless or Coraline or Good Omens, or even Shadow Moon, this may be a good place for you to start. As you know I love anthologies. Short fiction is not something that every writer is good at, but I think Neil excels at it. I love short stories, the brief glimpses into a world. I love how there is perfect beginning and end and I don’t have to read thirteen books into a series. They are easy for me to pick up, though not always to put down. And they are usually varied, almost like listening to a soundtrack or seeing Paris Je T’aime.

It took me a while to pick up Trigger Warning and then David Bowie died and I read The Thin White Duke that Gaiman had posted. I also started being in short fiction mode. I needed snippets and episodes. I needed Gaiman.

Trigger Warning begins with an intro by Neil where he tells you about the origins of each of the tales. I prefer to read them after I read each of the entries as I didn’t want his explanations to color my enjoyment of any of them. But it is lovely to read about the ideas behind each of them. I will try to remain as spoiler free as I can on each of the stories. I will say I loved them and this will join the many other beloved books and collections I have on my shelves. It is not perfect, but some of the stories made a definite impact and whisked me away. It was exactly what I needed.

The Stories:
Making a Chair: A simple poem about the writing process. If you are a writer you may relate to it quite a bit. A thought it was a lovely way to begin the collection.

A lunar Labyrinth: A tribute to Gene Wolfe, it features a traveler who loves roadside attractions and oddities. He loves the idea of a maze that forms only when the moon is full, but one must be wary of what else lurks within the labyrinth. I loved this story.

The Thing about Cassandra: The imaginary becomes real. I want to say so much about the tale, but I don’t want to give it away. This was one of my favorites. I love the idea behind it, the twists and the turns, and the fantastical nature of it all. I would love to see this in visual form as an episode of Outer Limits or something.

Down to A Sunless Sea: The sea promises so much. It promises adventure and new worlds, but also so many tears. A woman tells the tale of her son as the rain pours around. So sad and dark. Short as well, but worth the read.

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains: One of the longest stories in the collection, this is the story of a strange little man who seeks a guide to a mysterious cave. It is a story about the truth, of revenge and regret, and a cave that is said to hold many riches. It is a dark and sad story with amazing imagery. It is also crushingly beautiful in the way that it is told. Maybe I have been watching too many episodes of Lost Girl, but I could see the Blood King making the trek up the mountain. I also envy those who saw Neil read it live with a string quartet and Eddie Campbell’s art. Lucky bastards.

My Last Landlady: The rent may be a bit too high for one tenant. Great. Again I love the imagery. I can see them all, eyes to the shore, watching the landlady.

Adventure Story: Adventure can mean many things. Maybe even Pterodactyls. Fun and light story.

Orange: The answers on a questionnaire for one teenage girl. Quirky and fun, but I didn’t really enjoy the format. Just took me out of it.

A Calendar of Tales: These snippets, the collection within a collection, were based on tweets. What a great idea. One tweet per month, one tale per month. Its a bit of a mixed bag, but there are some standouts (May, July, August, September, and October) I really love the way the way were written.

The Case of Death and Honey: A Sherlock Holmes story involving a trip to China and a certain honey and the bee that made it. It’s a bit odd and yet perfectly Holmes like. I enjoyed it.

The man who Forgot Ray Bradbury: This is a tribute to Gaiman’s mentor and someone who captured my imagination growing up as well. But it also holds some resonance as I remember the friendship between Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I cannot imagine losing pieces of my life, names, faces while strange little tidbits remain. A good story, a nice tribute, but also a sad one.

Jerusalem: A tale about Jerusalem Syndrome. Not one of my favorites. For me it was one of the weakest. Just a little meh for me really.

Click Clack The Rattlebag: Another one of my favorite stories. Perfectly creepy and a tale I wish I could see visually as well. Loved it. I adore it when Gaiman does horror.

An Invocation of Incuriosity: A time travel piece that was bit too odd for me.

And Weep, Like Alexander: Ever wonder why we don’t have flying cars or jetpacks? Cute story. Now if he could just invent the Kardashians that would be great.

Nothing o’Clock: Yay Doctor Who. Seriously Gaiman should write more Doctor stories. I think this would make a great episode. The paper masks of the enemies remind me of the film ‘The Strangers’ except the masks are even creepier because of their simplicity. You know that someone is wearing a mask. You are worried to know what lies beneath the mask or why they are choosing to wear one. It is that creeping horror, the one that is just on the fringe of your sight. So creepy and wonderful and completely Doctor Who.

Diamonds and Pearls: A fairy tale, but one with prostitutes, drugs, stepmothers, and just a little bit of magic. I like the contemporary or modern fairytale nature of it.

The Return of the Thin White Duke: I picked up Trigger Warning after Bowie died and Gaiman posted this story who inspired the story. It is beautiful and I hope Bowie had a chance to read it. ‘You are here to rescue yourself’. What a gorgeous little tale.

Feminine Endings: Be wary of living statues. I can imagine that living statues learn many a thing. I love the love letter as creepy as it might be..

Observing the Formalities: A poem with Maleficent as the narrator. It is a shame that people no longer observe proper etiquette. If they had just followed proper formalities…

The Sleeper and the Spindle: Speaking of Sleeping Beauty. Yay! A lovely mashup of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty/ I always wanted Snow to be a bad ass. I love that Snow has found her own strength and courage. She is her own hero now and I could want for nothing more. My favorite story of the bunch.

Witch Work: A little poem about a witch and her magic.

In Relig Odhrain: Another poem about a Saint or perhaps a druid.

Black Dog: Shadow Moon stops by an old village pub. Everyone seems perfectly nice and harmless, but Shadow knows better. Everyone has ghosts. It is a great story about jealousy and rage, but also about the past. The prose in this story deserves a shiny gold star. Seriously, you have passages like…The mummified kitty that looks as if it ‘had been constructed out of tendons and agony’, or ‘Shadow imagined the black dog squatting on the roof, cutting out all sunlight, all emotion, all feeling and truth’. Amazing story. Makes me want to go revisit Shadow again.

In all I loved this collection. It was exactly what I needed. I absolutely loved the introduction where Gaiman is talking to all of his readers. I like the title, the warning label on the very cover of the book. "Many of these stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned."

Buy or Borrow: Buy.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: For more Neil Gaiman short stories please try Fragile Things or Smoke and Mirrors. For more great Anthologies try Strange Brew edited by PN Elrod, Mean Streets edited by Jim Butcher, and Powers of Detection edited by Dana Stabenow

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

TUESDAY TRAILERS: GHOSTBUSTERS

I grew up with Venkman, Ray, Egon, and Winston. While I don’t think a sequel is needed, I am all for the ladies busting some ghosts. And yet I am not sure how I feel about the ghosts themselves. I know this will essentially be family friendly and inspire a whole new generation of ghostbusters, but the ghosts look like something out of Disney’s Haunted Mansion. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be the slimer types, or that things have to be something out of Poltergeist. I am just not sure how I feel about the blue lighting effects. However, despite this, I still want to see it this summer. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: With paranormal activity on the rise, a Columbia University academic, her ghost-chasing friend, the friend's business partner, and an MTA employee join forces to bust ghosts and save New York.…Opens July 15, 2016.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL: A REVIEW

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Written by: Jesse Andrews
Paperback: 295 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books
Language: English
March 2012
Genre: Young Adult/Fiction

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.


+++++++++++++

Yes the book is usually better, but not always. However, I love seeing books come to life on the big screen. Of course they aren’t always how you imagined or sometimes they leave your favorite bits out, but overall I like them. It might even get somebody to pick up the book after watching the film.

I have had Me and Earl and the Dying girl for a while, but I knew that E and I were going to see the film so I didn’t want to read it too soon before seeing it. Then I wanted to put some distance after seeing the film because I wanted to enjoy the book not nitpick the whole thing. Hence I’m late to the party (as per usual).

Of course I had heard good things about the book. A funny Fault in Our Stars with a very flawed protagonist. Hmm, as if a dying teen can be humorous. Can death be funny especially when you are a kid?

Greg Gaines is forced to spend time with Rachel who has cancer. They used to be friends, but then they weren’t. Greg spends most of his time with Earl Jackson, whom he considers a coworker more than a best friend. Together they spend their time making parodies of films they’ve watched. And then Rachel comes into the picture. What are you supposed to do when an old friend gets leukemia and your mom guilts you into hanging with her? What do you say? What do you do? What if it’s just weird and awkward? This is Greg’s story on the whole thing.

Things I liked: Its non-traditional in both its writing format and in its character’s voice. Greg is a flawed character. He tries to survive high school cruising through every social group, never really part of any. He tries to form no attachments and, above all, does his best not to stand out and become the focus of attention. He is honest and tells you right off the bat that Rachel didn’t suddenly make him understand that life is precious. He knows he is not perfect and is completely comfortable letting us know that. He even calls himself a terrible friend. He isn’t incredibly empathetic. Hell he didn’t even want to spend time with the ‘dying girl’. And yet despite all of this, he’s a normal teenage boy. It is by far one of the most realistic teenage voices I have read in a really long time. Sure he is flawed, but so damn realistic that I can’t help but like him.

As teenagers we were awkward and blunt. We certainly were not enlightened beings. We were selfish. We were dumb. We could be insensitive as hell. We had no idea what the frak we were doing. And then you dump in death. How do you handle that? How do you wrap your head around it? What do you do? Leukemia sucks. Death sucks even harder. It is not glamorized. There are no heroes. It just blows and there’s nothing you can really do about it. . Especially when you are young and just figuring out all of the life crap.

The great thing about Greg is yeah he may have been a bit of a jerk to Rachel. He also may be completely oblivious to how much Rachel has changed him as a human being. But he tries. He really does and I love him to pieces for that. Even if he thinks he didn’t learn anything. Even if he thinks that he’s still the same person.

Earl is just as strong of a character. He is a great balance to Greg. He is just as flawed. Crass, loud, swears too much and can be a bit sexist at times. He’s angry and why not. His family life sucks hardcore and he knows it. But he also knows that has to figure out his own shit before he can help them. Like I said he is flawed, but that is fine. He is a teenage boy. Earl really cares about Rachel enough that he shows her their films that no one was ever supposed to see. He knows that she’ll appreciate them and she deserves to see them.

The pacing is quick and I love that the story is told via scripts, bullet points, and lists that help with the rest of the narration. Greg also breaks the fourth wall a lot. All of this helps the reader get a better insight of who Greg is and who he wants to be. Loved it.

Things I didn’t like so much: Sometimes the pacing was bit off and you really do want to punch Greg in the face sometimes. Really hard punch to the face. But overall I didn’t have too many things I did not enjoy. This one is staying on the bookshelf and in our library.

Buy or Borrow: Buy.

Part of: Standalone

Also Recommended: If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Fault in our Stars by John Green and Just Listen by Sarah Dessen..

4 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

DISCOUNT ARMAGEDDON: A REVIEW

Discount Armageddon (InCryptid #1)
Written by: Seanan McGuire
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: DAW
Language: English
March 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Series

Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night....

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity - and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George.

When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city....


+++++++++++++

I used to be obsessive about my book calendar, always making sure that I knew about my favorite authors latest releases. And then my To Be Read pile became out of control. I couldn’t keep up. I didn’t have the space. Or the time really. So sometimes when I head to the bookstore its like Christmas when I discover another book by my fave authors. I felt this way about this book.

Now I love Seanan McGuire. She is nerdy and hilarious and I heart her to pieces as a human being. She’s also a damn good writer and I love her Toby series. A lot. I also love some of her other books. But for some reason I did not know about this series until last year and it finally came into rotation. I also wanted something fluffy as it has been busy and stressful the last couple of weeks around here for E and I.

Now this book and the series as a whole has the potential of being utterly ridiculous. The cover doesn’t help. You have Verity price, a parkour practicing ballroom dancer who works at a strip club full of cryptids. She is snarky. She has lots of one liners. There are talking mice. Yeah, I rolled my eyes too. But I have faith in Seanan and I gave it a try. It actually sounds kind of perfect for my mood of late. It was. Fortunately it doesn’t get ridiculous. It’s just fluffy Aeslin mice sort of fun.

Verity price grew up as a cryptozoologist, but she also wanted to have a somewhat normal life. This meant heading to the opposite side of the country and continuing to follow her other passion: ballroom dancing. Except that life doesn’t want her to have ‘normal’. Enter Dominic DeLuca, member of the Covenant of St George. While Verity tries to help and police, when necessary, the cryptids of New York City, the Covenant wants to wipe them all out. And someone is doing just that. Is it Dominic or someone else? Either way, verity is about to make his life very, very difficult.

Things I liked: This is Seanan lite. I am okay with that though. I am okay with fun. I am okay with funny and fluffy just like the Aeslin mice. And oh my gosh I love the Aeslin mice to little bitty pieces. The Aeslin mice are the best. I love their celebrations and their names for every little small occurrence. I cannot help but smile whenever they were around. Who knew sentient mice liked to party so much or could be so damn adorable. I kind of want my own little colony of adorable mice to sing me praises, make small things momentous, and look adorable in a Barbie Dream House.

I loved the cryptids and I look forward to meeting more of them as the series continues. I want to visit the Madhura bakery. I want to go Lolita wardrobe shopping with Istas, the Waheela. I smile at the gold filled sorority like nest of Candy and the other dragon princesses. It’s a nice change from your usual werewolves, vampires, and fae characters you usually get in today’s urban fantasy.

I like Verity. Snarkfest yay. I like her struggles. It would help if she didn’t like cryptozoology, but she does. She cares about the cryptids. Some of them are family after all. But dancing is her passion as well (Yay for being on a SYTYCD/Dancing with the Stars sort of show). And she is great at both of them. I also like Verity because she isn’t a monster hunter especially when sometimes she needs to save cryptids from horrible human beings. This is why the Price family left the Covenant of St George. Speaking of Verity’s family, I love them. They are supportive and accepting. How refreshing.

Things I didn’t like so much: Verity’s parkour is hard to believe. I don’t know why. And it bugs me that I cannot suspend my disbelief for that. Because it should work. Training in dance, gymnastics, and acting like you are trying to escape District B13 your entire life should be legit. But it doesn’t work. At least not all the time. Maybe it is the way it is written. Maybe it doesn’t feel right with the rest of Verity. It’s a small nitpick really, but it’s still there.

Dominic isn’t necessarily great on the personality front, but he does eventually grow on you. I just wish it was before the end of the book. The info dumping asides can be a little tedious at times, but she is world building. And sure the romance is predictable, but who cares. The overall basic plot is one you have probably read before. But in the end it has its own uniqueness so all of these end up being fairly minor.

Buy or Borrow: Buy. Or at least pick it up from the library and give it a go. Cute. Fluffy. Fun. Just what I needed right about now. And you might too. Kind of a perfect Spring break beach read.

Part of: A series
Discount Armageddon
Midnight Blue Special
half-Off Ragnarok
Pocket Apocalypse
Chaos Choreography

Also Recommended: For more Seanan please read the Toby Day series beginning with Rosemary and Rue. For more urban fantasy goodness please try The Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, The Matthew Swift series by Kate Griffin, and for more fey loveliness Holly Black’s modern faerie tale series.

3 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks