You Suck: A Love Story by Christopher Moore

Title:  You Suck:  A Love Story

Author:  Christopher Moore

Hardback:  328 pages

Date Published:  2007

Publisher:  HarperCollins

ISBN:  9780060590291

MiscellaneousYou Suck is a sequel to Moore’s book Bloodsucking Fiends.

It turned out that superhuman vampire strength came in handy when shaving a thirty-five-pound cat.  After a couple of false starts, which had them chasing Chet the huge shaving-cream-covered cat around the loft, they discovered the value of duct tape as a grooming tool.  Because of the tape, they weren’t able to shave his feet.  When they were finished, Chet looked like a big-eyed, potbellied, protohuman in fur-lined, duct-tape space boots — the feline love child of Gollum and Dobby the house-elf.

I’m not sure we needed to shave all of him,” Tommy said, sitting on the bed next to Jody as they considered the bound and shaven Chet on the floor before them.  “He looks creepy.”

“Pretty creepy,” Jody said.  “You’d better drink.  Your wounds aren’t healing.”  All her scratches, bruises, and love bites were completely healed, and except for a fleck of shaving cream here and there in her hair, she was as good as new.

“How?” Tommy asked.  “How do I know where to bite him?”

“Try the neck,” Jody said.

-You Suck:  A Love Story by Christopher Moore, pages 29-30

You Suck by Christopher Moore is a fun, light read about two young vampires in love who must face the difficult tasks of being UNDEAD in a day-slave world.  They face the HUNGER and must feed, they must deal with vampire killers, they have to find an apartment, and… for the LOVE of ALL things UNholy!  They have GOT to figure out a way to drink a cup of joe without the coffee making a forceful return trip to spooge on their shoes!

While, technically, this book is a sequel to Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiends, it is more than capable of standing alone.  The past events are mentioned in a very natural way, so that you don’t have that sense of being late to the party. 

Some of the best qualities of You Suck is the unusual characters and the way they all mix together.  Take Blue for instance:  An aging Vegas hooker whose career-prolonging gimmick is that she’s painted blue from head to toe, inspiring the reoccurring line, “Didn’t you want to bone a smurf when you were a kid?”  And then there’s Abby Normal (day slave name, Allison Green) who is the  emo/goth/vamp-wannabe minion of Jody and Tommy, our romantic heroes.  And one of my favorite characters of the book is William, the dirty, fat, drinking/stinking bum with the 35-pound cat.  William makes his money sitting in high-pedestrian areas, holding a sign that says “I’m poor and I have a huge cat” and charging passersby to touch his huge cat. 

Another quality of You Suck that I enjoyed is Moore’s sense of humor, his sarcasm and his ease-of-reading writing style.  He doesn’t take himself too serious as a writer, and mixes up the story telling from omniscient 3rd person and “Diary of a Put Upon Goth (closet perkie) Girl,” the subjective point-of-view of Abby Normal, which provides the outsider-wanting-in view.  And Abby’s journal entries are so funny, complete with self-abasement and bunny-trails and updates on her sister’s head lice problem.

You Suck:  A Love Story by Christopher Moore was my first experience with the author, but it won’t be my last :-)  In some ways, he reminds me of Janet Evanovich, who is one of my favorite “fun authors.”  I give You Suck 4 out of 5 stars :-)  It’s a fun book you can sink your teeth into ^,…,^

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The following video just really makes me chuckle.  The guy in the vid could SoOOooOoo play Jared if they ever make a movie version.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Title:  Neverwhere

Author:  Neil Gaiman

Paperback: 400 pages

Date Published:  1996

Publisher:  Harper Torch (div of HarperCollins)

ISBN:  9780380789016

“So what are you after?”  Richard asked Hunter.  The three of them were walking, with extreme care, along the bank of an underground river.  The bank was slippery, a narrow path along dark rock and sharp masonry.  Richard watched with respect as the gray water rushed and tumbled, within arm’s reach.  This was not the kind of river you fell into and got out of again; it was the other kind.

“After?”

“Well,” he said.  “Personally, I’m trying to get back to the real London, and my old life.  Door wants to find out who killed her family.  What are you after?”  They edged along the bank, a step at a time, Hunter in the lead.  She said nothing in reply.  The river slowed and fed into a small underground lake.  They walked beside the water, their lamps reflecting in the black surface, their reflections smudged by the river mist.  “So what is it?”  asked Richard.  He did not expect any kind of answer.

Hunter’s voice was quiet and intense.  She did not break her step as she spoke.  “I fought in the sewers beneath New York with the great blind white alligator-king.  He was thirty feet long, fat from sewage and fierce in battle.  And I bested him, and I killed him.  His eyes were like huge pearls in the darkness.”  Her strangely accented voice echoed in the underground, twined in the mist, in the night beneath the Earth.

“…And I shall slay the Beast of London.  They say his hide bristles with swords and spears and knives stuck in him by those who have tried and failed.  His tusks are razors, and his hooves are thunderbolts.  I will kill him, or I will die in the attempt.”

-Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, pages 226-227

Meet Richard, Richard Mayhew… Dick.  Mild-mannered, Scottish born, hard-working London resident and all-around nice guy.  Richard is affianced to the eager, forward-thinking and career-driven (read:  controlling and pushy) Jessica who sees Richard as a project:  lots of potential, but also lot of work.  Richard’s life is dull, he has no family, and Gary, his co-worker, is his only friend… other than Jess… I mean Jessica.

Then, as he and Jessica are on the way to dinner with her boss, they come upon a strange girl, hurt and bleeding, in need of help.  Richard is compelled to help the girl, to which Jessica gives him an ultimatum:  Either he leaves the girl for someone else to help, or he can consider their engagement over.  Richard has no choice BUT to help and leave Jessica to dine with her employer alone.

However, in helping the girl, whose name is Door, he quickly finds his life is turned upside down, literally.  Suddenly, he no longer exists.  People don’t seem to see or hear him.  Cabs won’t stop for him.  Even the people in his office don’t know him and his desk and all his cubicle’s contents are gone.  Bewildered and feeling alone, he returns to his apartment to take a bath, only to be surprised by his landlord showing his place to a couple looking to rent.  He is forced to return to London Below to find Door and to find a way to get his life back.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is like Alice in Wonderland meets Grimms Fairy Tales, with a bit of Wizard of Oz and an ending reminiscent of El Dorado.  London Below is like a walk through history.  Every thing and everyone who has slipped through the cracks and has been lost, overlooked, and forgotten can be found in London Below.  Creatures lurk in the sewers and under subway platforms, and everyone is dangerous. 

Neverwhere is an urban fairy tale, with the teeth to scare you and fill your inner child with wonder.  I really enjoy Gaiman’s writing style, as well as his ability to weave a magical web of a story that draws you in and keeps you entranced.  When it was exciting and intriguing, I couldn’t put it down; I had to know what happened next.  And when it wasn’t being scary, I didn’t wantto put the book down because I was enraptured by the story itself.  The idea that somewhere Roman soldiers who deserted are huddled around a campfire, telling dirty jokes in Latin.

With Neverwhere, Gaiman flexes his imaginative muscles, but it’s more than just a fantasy book.  It has  a mystery to solve, both Richard and Door mature through their adventures, and prejudices have to be overcome if they want to survive.  Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman is a well-crafted story and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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Ever wonder where Gaiman gets his story ideas? In this vid clip, he reveals his source :-)

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Read-a-Thon ~ Takin’ a Break :-)

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As I was reading Marked, I came across the perfect passage to include in the review, so I had to log in and start the review, saving the quote. Sometimes that happens when I’m reading, most of the time, actually. I’ll be reading along and something will just hit me, and I’ll be, like… “Wow, that’s the perfect quote for this book!” When that happens, I always try to get it in here, lest I forget it when I’m actually sitting down and writing the review.

I know what quote I’ll use for How to Be a Villian, but I haven’t got a clue for Empire Falls. That happens sometimes, too, and every once in a while I even think about cheating and putting what’s on the back cover or front flap for the quote.

BTW, the House of Night series has been optioned for a movie. No work has really been done on it, just the plan to make it into film. I can see the spoof-movie now, “Not another Teen Vampire Movie!” Though, this book is NOTHING like Twilight.

If you’d like to check out the series, click House of Night Series. There you can click on the yearbook and learn about the characters, watch vid clips for each of the books, and even get your own vampyre Mark tattoo :-D

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ starting Chapter Six, page 43

Read-a-Thon ~ I’ve been Chosen by the House of Night

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First off, I want to say Thank You! and throw smooches and hugs at all the RaT cheerleaders :-) You are much appreciated ;-) And I’m glad everyone’s enjoying my button… you know me, I like to mock ‘em and shock ‘em :-D

Also, I “finished” Empire Falls and How to Be a Villian today, but they were unfinished reads already began before today. I read about 20 pages and 80 pages in them, respectively, and about 15 in The Magician’s Nephew So I’ve only read about 140 pages altogether, including what I’ve read in Marked. S.Krishna and a few others blow me away with their tweets ever 20 minutes, “Finished another book!” Gack!

But It’s not a contest… *deep, cleansing breath* :-D

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Okay, so on to Marked… I don’t know where I’d heard of the House of Night series, maybe from one of the publisher’s newsletters, but when I did, something about the books screamed for me to read them.

I’ve been thinking that I might want to include some of the more popular books in my reading and reviewing for two reasons: 1) It’s part of the Zeitgeist of our culture, so I need to read them so I can keep up with the conversations, and 2) Reading and posting reviews of the more popular books might increase my blog traffic. The House of Night series popped out as possibly being a more popular set of books. AND, they’re about vamps, and I like vamp books. :-D

So far, I’ve read the first 3 chapters of the first book in the series, Marked, and I get it. It’s more of a social commentary… an allegory of our culture… and “vampyre” is the concept being used, but I think “homosexuality” is really what the authors are saying.

Zooey is an average, just-wanna-fit-in, middle child, sixteen year old in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Her mom, who used to wear make-up and have fun, is now married to a church Elder who’s more concerned about what people will think of him than if Zooey should go where she can get what she needs.

When her step-loser (as she calls him) sees the sapphire-blue crescent moon given to her by the Vampyre Tracker that marks her as a Vampyre, he tells her he’s not surprised her bad behavior has brought this crisis on her. He tells her, “Get behind me, Satan,” and tells his wife and her mother to call the clueless family psychiatrist and the church Elders to come over and “cure” Zooey.

To all of this Zooey replies that scientists have proven than it’s a genetic change that happens to some teens, and is not brought on by a vamp’s bite or by a person’s “bad behavior.”

Of course, his reply is, “God’s knowledge surpasses science, and it’s blasphemous for you to say otherwise…”

Yeah, okay…. I get it. On the one side, yes, people can get very cruel about things, Christians or otherwise. Parents, too, can be absolutely clueless about what’s going on with their kids.

I am torn on the issue, too. On the one hand, I do believe that God can do anything. He can heal people of incurable diseases, one of my good friends was healed (against all the doctors prognoses) of ovarian cancer. He can change the nature of a person, the habitual thief can be touched and steal no more. He can change a person’s desires, too, and an alcoholic or smoker can lay down their vice and never look back or suffer a twinge of withdrawal. I know people who have experienced these things.

On the other hand, it is the job of those around these people to judge them as a freak, criminal, or worthless, only to love, befriend and support as a fellow human being. Providing a person is not harming another, it is not our business what they do in their own private moments.

*drags the soapbox away and stores it back in the closet*

Any way… lol… back to reading. I am enjoying the book Marked.

What are your thoughts or book selection being partially influenced by popularity and the hope of increasing blog traffic? Selling out?

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ page 27, the start of Chapter Four

Read-a-Thon ~ I Can Now Be a Villian :-D

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YaY! I just finished How to Be a Villian by Neil Zawacki. At the back of the book there’s a template called an Evil Plan Generator, and I thought it’d be fun to post mine here.

Now, my Sinister Name worked out as: Countess Carnal Fury

My Evil Plan is:

Stage One:

To begin, I must first _seduce_ _the Chosen One_. This will cause the world to _whisper among themselves_, _amazed_ by my arrival. Who is this _Destroyer of All That is Good and Nice_? Where did she come from? And why does she look so frightening in that _dominatrix outfit_?

Stage Two:

Next, I must _steal_ _that Opera House in Sydney_. This will all be done from my _Underground Secret Headquarters of Doom_ , a mysterious place of unrivaled dark glory. Upon seeing this, the world will _weep uncontrollably_ , as countless hordes of _Demented Clowns_ hasten to do my every bidding.

Stage Three:

Finally, I must _tauntingly wave_ my _Needlessly Big Weather Machine_ , bringing about _something really, really bad_ . My name shall become synonymous with _fuzzy bunnies_ , and no man will ever again dare _interrupt my sentences_ . Everyone will bow before my _mystical abilities_ , and the world will have no choice but to _restore my credit rating_.

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It was a fun book, and I’ll post a review tomorrow or Monday. For today, more reading! :-D Next, I’m going to read Marked by P. C. Cast. It’s the first book in the House of Night series. It’s a book about a boarding school for the training of teenage vampyres. Coincidently, I talked to a good friend of mine last night, and she started telling me about a book series she was into at the moment, and when I asked her what it was called, she said “House of Night.” I thought that was really cool, since I was planning to read Marked today ;-) Then again, she’s really into vamps (she’s my SL vamp clan’s Queen, in fact), so I shouldn’t be too surprised.

*sigh*… peace and quiet’s over, Gwen’s home and wants to tell me everything that was wrong with my demented idea of sending her to the Y.

P.S. Thanks to everyone who said they love my RaT button :-D It was fun making it, too ;-)

Reading Update:

Empire Falls by Richard Russo ~ finished.
The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis, Chapter Four “The Bell and the Hammer” ~ finished
How to Be a Villian: Evil Laughs, Secret Lairs, Master Plans and More!!! by Neil Zawacki ~ finished :-D
Marked: A House of Night Novel by P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast ~ just starting

Wait, How Did You Find Me?!

Okay, I had so much fun doing the last search results post, That Brought You Here?!? That I wanted to do another.

When I was scrolling down my stats page, one of the search terms caught my eye, and I wondered if enough time had passed to post another.  It’s been over a week so… YuP! :-D  Here goes.  The search terms are in bold, btw.

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bad effects of eating your boogers ~ Nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diarrhea… yeah!

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spray cheese ~ on cracker… eat immediately.

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sex with sleeping doll ~ I believe this is illegal, and you knowChatty Cathy’s watching and’ll tell everyone…

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william shakespeare (dr. faustus) ~ Dr. Faustus, meet William Shakespeare :-)

compare anne frank to the book thief! ~ NO! I don’t wanna!

I won't do it!  NOOOOO!      NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!      You can't make me!

invention of “invisible shirt”~ Yeah, I’m selling them out of my invisible store, and they come with an invisible receipt. I guarantee all eyes will be on you when you wear the matching invisible pants. I’ll sell both to you and throw in a pair of invisible Nikes all for a visible $20 bill. :-D

gary larsen plant comics~ Personally, I plant vegetables and herbs, maybe a few annuals, but hey… to each his own. I wonder if any of his comics have been famous? Tom Arnold must of been a bad year for the old winyard, eh?

isabel ice custard ~ It’s the movie version of Custard the Dragon. When Isabel, Ink, Wink, Mustard and Custard are flying over the Andes on their way to a rugby match, the plane crashes and they are forced to do the unthinkable to survive. Custard kept crying for his nice safe cage, until Isabel couldn’t take it anymore and turned him into Dragon tartar.

half-blood prince’s comments on love pot ~ He said, “Dude… DUDE… duuuuuude…. ya gotta try this pot…. one long drag and you like… totally love everyone. *puff.. puff… blow* DuuUuuuUuDe! I love you, man!”

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Then there are a few Vampire ones:

where can i read vampire kisses blood~ Anywhere you want, dawg, as long as you buy something every couple hours so the don’t think you’re loitering, home slice.

cheap: vampire kisses: blood relatives ~ This would be the Redneck family reunion slash speed dating slash wedding version.

read vampire kisses vol 2 free ~ Dude… it’s called the LIBRARY.  If that’s not free enough for you, I don’t know what to tell ya.  Get the audio book?  Except it’s a manga book.  Have someone read it for you, then transfer the memory into your brain…  It’d probably have horrible side-effects, and you’d probably grow a tail and develop a tic, but it’d be free.

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And… of course… there are all of the BOOGER searches, some of which made me swallow my tongue…

is it dangerous to eat your boogers?  Yes, that’s why you look left, then right, then left again before taking a nibble… oh, wait, that’s crossing the street.

how to eat boogers ~ Now… mind you, I’m no expert on this, but it seems fairly straight forward…  freshly picked, breaded and deep-fried and served with marinara sauce, right?

cure smelly boogers ~ Dude!  Stop sniffing your gym shoes!  Get some Odor-Eaters or something!

im 18 and still eat boogers, and 20 years old and eats boogers why~ Seriously, an even better question is WHY did GOOGLE think I knew the answers?!

throw poo ~ okay… here you go…

I'm throwing POO at you!

What are some of the weird search terms that have led people to your blog? Or what’s the oddest search you’ve ever done?

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling

Title:  Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Author:  J. K. Rowling

Hardback:  352 pages

Publisher:  Scholastic Inc.

Publish Date:  2005

ISBN:  9780439784542

“Fine,” said Harry, who was concentrating on handing Ron a glass of pumpkin juice.  “There you go, Ron.  Drink up.”

Ron had just raised the glass to his lips when Hermione spoke sharply.

“Don’t drink that, Ron!”

Both Harry and Ron looked up at her.

“Why not?” said Ron.

Hermione was now staring at Harry as though she could not believe her eyes.

“You just put something in that drink.”

“Excuse me?” said Harry.

“You heard me.  I saw you.  You just tipped something into Ron’s drink.  You’ve got the bottle in your hand right now!”

“I don’t know what you’r talking about,” said Harry, stowing the little bottle hastily in his pocket.

“Ron, I warn you, don’t drink it!”  Hermione said again, alarmed, but Ron picked up the glass, drained it in one gulp, and said, “Stop bossing me around, Hermione.”

She looked scandalized.  Bending low so that only Harry could hear her, she hissed, “You should be expelled for that.  I’d never have believed it of you, Harry!”

-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, page 293

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling  is the sixth of the seven book series chronicling the lives and exploits of the orphaned title character and his friends and classmates as they discover they are witches and wizards, go to Hogwarts school to learn to hone their skills, and learn to bond with friends and co-exist with enemies under the genially paternal headmaster, Professor Dumbledore.  In this particularly darkest book yet (I’m told book seven is even worse), Harry struggles with coming to terms (still and again) with the deaths of those close to him, while desiring to get revenge on Lord Voldermort, aka Tom Marvolo Riddle, for the deaths.

Yeah….  I remember when the first book was taking the American bookworld by storm, causing some Christian groups to suffer apoplectic fits at the thought of their sweet angelic prodgeny being infected by evil should so much as the book’s binding touch their innocent hands, and children clamoring to snatch the books off their shelves.  However, six books in and it just seems to be a repeat of each of the last five books’ plotline.  The children return to school, Harry suspects evil is afoot right away, no one believes him, everyone turns against him and treats him like a nutter, then evil pops out from behind the painting of the tutu-wearing trolls and says “Bwa-ha-ha!”  Harry saves the day, Hogwarts and the entire wizarding world, everyone apologizes for doubting him, then they all say good-bye for the summer and look forward to returning in the fall where they can go through the whole cycle all over again.  HP and the HBP has all that plus pimples, crushes and love potions.

It’s an okay book, but nothing I’ll remember next year… I doubt I’ll remember it next month, even.  I found myself trying to remember when whatever event being referenced occured, and I realized that I’ve forgotten a lot of the content of the previous books already.  What’s more, I think up to a third of this book could have been dropped.  Some of it was a repeat of what had happened in a previous book, but some of it  just seemed superfluous.

I’m glad I read it since I’ve read the other books of the series, and I definitely wanted to get it done before the movie comes out this coming July.  Some people have said the last book, Deathly Hollows, is the best book of the series. 

From the way this book has ended, Deathly Hollowsat least seems like it will break the endless cycle.  Harry tells Ron and Hermione that he doesn’t plan to return to Hogwarts for his final year because he plans to hunt down and kill Voldemort, and his friends inform him they’ll be right beside him wherever he goes.  But… it’ll be a while before that movie comes out so I needn’t get into too much of a hurry reading the book.

While Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling  was an easy and comfortable read, it often fell flat and fizzled in places.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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The movie looks like it’ll be really good, I thought the others were good, too.

TSS -Mad Dash for the Finish Line!

The Sunday Salon.com

Happy Sunday! and Merry (almost) Christmas :-)

I have been a readin’ fool this week; I’m trying to reach my goal of 75 books by December 31st. I’ve really made progress this past week, but I’ve also been busy on Second Life, as well. I could probablyget more read if I stayed off SL, but I need balance between the two loves. At any rate, the following books were read and reviewed on Mt. TBR this week:

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil GaimanI am blown away by Gaiman’s ability to weave magic throughout his writing. A master at creating art, the pages of a book are his canvas and words his medium. I will definitely be reading more Gaiman in the new year!

Robot Dreamsby Sara Varon A very cute and touching graphic novel that tells a story of Dog and Robot without words. Great for a family of all ages to share, Robot Dreams shows the fragile and organic nature of friendships and relationships.

The Yiddish Policemen’s Unionby Michael Chabon  In this murder mystery, Chabon uses an alternate timeline to mix Jewish culture with the Arctic setting of Sitka, Alaska. Landsman is a maverick detective with personality failings and quirks, i.e. an alcoholic afraid of the dark. Yiddish Policemen’s is a story of the love children have for their fathers, and how age never dims their desire for their fathers’ acceptance and love.

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis  Last of the Narnias to be written, Lewis intended The Magician’s Nephew to be read first. It gives the background of the events to take place in the most widely known Narnia book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, I think I enjoyed reading it better having read the latter first.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis  The most widely known and read of all the Narnia tales, this book is one of my all-time favorites. This is the fourth time I’ve read it, not to mention having watched both the BBC TV production and the Disney movie version several times. Written as a Christian allegory of the work of Salvation, this story is still enjoyable without that as a reader’s focus.

Besides reading these books, I’ve also launched a second BookBucks Giveaway. After receiving a disconcerting email from Joshua Henkin about the potential narrowing of new book selection due to the decline in publishing profits, I wondered what I could do to bring this concern to more people. And what brings more people in than free money? Don’t forget to sign up for your chance to win a $25, $15, $10, and $5 gift card to your choice of Borders, Amazon or Barnes & Nobles!

In the coming week my plans for reading are: The remaining five Narnia books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling, Brisingr(the third book in The Inheritance cycle) by Christopher Paolini, The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak, and Visions of Sugar Plums(Stephanie Plum Christmas novel) by Janet Evanovich. I also plan on finishing the books I’ve started but not completed this year: A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeline l’Engle, Bed, Bath and Beyond by J. D. Warren, and How to Be a Villianby Neil Zawacki. Okay, even without the kids here, this may be an ambitious list… lol.

As to Second Life, my vampire clan has split again and this time I’ve gone with the new family. Chosen Immortal is everything Treasured Vamps was suppose to be but has lost their way and become more about numbers, titles and politics. I’ve also moved from my old apartment to a floor in a friend’s castle. I’ve gained more space at about a tenth of the cost. I’m also going to be selling pictures and other things at a friend’s store, C&C’s Designs.

AND… due to an accidental purchase of a pregnancy pack, my avatar is now expecting. A $1500L mistake, I figured I’d just go ahead and use it… hate to spend the money and then throw it away. Currently, the little one’s name is “Mommy’s li’l Oops!”. It’s a boy (I have three girls in real life, by golly I’m having a boy this time ;-) ), and I’m not sure what to name him. Since BF is a werewolf, I had a half a thought to name him “Wolf”… lol… last name “Blitzstein”… That’s funny, because, unthinking, I made a comment the name “Wolf” worked well for the newsman Wolf Blitzer. Hahaha!

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman

Title:  Fragile Things:  Short Fictions and Wonders

Author:  Neil Gaiman

Paperback:  376 pages

Publisher:  Harper Perennial

Publish Date:  2006

ISBN:  9780060515225

Miscellaneous:  This is a P.S. edition

Colors seemed brighter because Becky was there. I began to notice parts of life I had never seen before: I saw the elegant intricacy of flowers, because Becky loved flowers; I became a fan of silent movies, because Becky loved silent movies, and I watched The Thief of Baghdad and Sherlock Junior over and over; I began to accumulate CDs and tapes, because Becky loved music, and I loved her, and I loved to love what she loved. I had never heard music before; never understood the black-and-white grace of a silent clown before; never touched or smelled or properly looked at a flower, before I met her.

-Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wondersby Neil Gaiman. “How Do You Think It Feels?”, pages 196-197.

 

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders is my first experience with Gaiman, but it will most certainly NOT be my last. I am absolutely impressed with Gaiman’s writing, imagination, skill as a storyteller (a weaver of magic, really), and this book will be one of the few books I read that will NOT be posted in my BookMooch or PBS inventory. Truly, Fragile Things is now one of my favorite books, and I want to read it again and again until the pages fall out, then tape them all back in and read it again and again until the ink has worn away.

There is much in Fragile Things that should count as literature and should, in time, be counted as classic literature. Reading a bit like Bradbury (one of the stories is dedicated to him, who, as Gaiman puts it, could have written it much better than Gaiman himself.), mixed with C.S. Lewis and Lewis Carroll… even a bit of a feel of Roald Dahl and The Brothers Grimm, Gaiman weaves stories and poems that capture the sensations of dreaming, while being mesmerizing and excited the reader’s anticipation at the same time.

I could write a book on this book, and if I were a literature teacher, I would definately use Fragile Things as one of the books to pull from (or at least parts of the book… while my library has classified this book as a Young Adult, I believe it should be in the adult section, as more than a couple stories deal with, hint at, or just out and out have sexually explicit content, as well as the liberal use of the word “fuck” in a couple stories.).

As this book contains fourteen different works, I’m not going to review each one. Instead, I want to bring out a few of my favorites. First off, I want to share what is now one of my favorite poems. As a poet, Gaiman has a Shel Silverstein feel, as well, who is one of my favorite poets.

GOING WODWO
(A wodwo, or wodwose, was a wild man if the woods.)

Shedding my shirt, my book, my coat, my life
Leaving them, empty husks and fallen leaves
Going in search of food and for a spring
Of sweet water.

I’ll find a tree as wide as ten fat men
Clear water rilling over its gray roots
Berries I’ll find, and crabapples and nuts.
And call it home.

I’ll tell the wind my name, and no one else.
True madness takes or leaves us in the wood
halfway through all our lives. My skin will be
my face now.

I must be nuts. Sense left with shoes and house,
my guts are cramped. I’ll stumble through the green
back to my roots, and leaves and thorns and buds,
and shiver.

I’ll leave the way of words to walk the wood
I’ll be the forest’s man, and greet the sun,
And feel the silence blossom on my tongue
like language.

-Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wondersby Neil Gaiman. “Going Wodwo” page 83

The first short story is called “A Study in Emerald”in which Gaiman marries the world of Sherlock Holmes to a world H. P. Lovecraft might create. The resulting work retains the essence of Holmes, while the subtleties of the London of New Albion, the England of an alternate timeline, slowly bloom with the discovery of the name of the murder being a surprise to any Holmes fan.

The short story, “Other People”, is one of my favorites and I’ve already read it three times, and plan to copy it to MSWorks and save it to my computer. It’s shocking, a bit terrifying, and, in the end, a sense of resignation and acceptance of “the way things are” are felt by the reader. “Other People” paints a suppositional picture of Hell, one in which I could totally believe, where after agonizing physical torture is followed by the reliving, re-experiencing, recounting, every bad thing the man has done or lies told, and stretches his realization of how these things effected the people not only in his life, but also strangers he’d never even known. And once all that is done and all that he is left with is truth and self-loathing, he fully understands how things work there. The first and last line of this story is “Time is fluid here,” and it is.

The short story “Goliath”was a story commissioned for The Matrix website to accompany the release of the movie. After reading the script for the movie, Gaiman wrote “Goliath”. It is NOT a short story version of the movie, but rather, takes the concept of humans living in the pods, their brains being used as RAM for a supercomputer. The hero of the story suffers from gigantism and has always felt out of place and clumsy. But it’s all revealed to him why he was created that way, which gives him a sense of purpose and joy… but that joy is short lived when he realizes he is just an expendable part of the machinery to those running the machine. The last 28 minutes of his life makes you ask yourself the question: Would you choose the red pill or blue pill?

THE DAY THE SAUCERS CAME

That day, the saucers landed. Hundreds of them, golden,
Silent, coming down from the sky like great snowflakes,
And the people of Earth stood and
stared as they descended,
Waiting, dry-mouthed, to find what waited inside for us
And none of us knowing if we would be here tomorrow
But you didn’t notice it because

That day, the day the saucers came, by some coincidence,
Was the day that the graves gave up their dead
And the zombies pushed up through soft earth
or erupted, shambling and dull-eyed, unstoppable,
Came towards us, the living, and we screamed and ran,
But you did not notice this because

On the saucer day, which was the zombie day, it was
Rangnarok also, and the television screens showed us
A ship built of dead-men’s nails, a serpent, a wolf,
All bigger than the mind could hold,
and the cameraman could
Not get far enough away, and then the Gods came out
But you did not see them coming because

On the saucer-zombie-battling-gods
day the floodgates broke
And each of us was engulfed by genies and sprites
Offering us wishes and wonders and eternities
And charm and cleverness and true
brave hearts and pots of gold
While giants feefofummed across
the land, and killer bees,
But you had no idea of any of this because

That day, the saucer day the zombie day
The Ragnarok and fairies day, the
day the great winds came
And snows, and the cities turned to crystal, the day
Computers turned, the screens telling
us we would obey, the day
Angels, drunk and muddled, stumbled from the bars,
And all the bells of London were sounded, the day
Animals spoke to us in Assyrian, the Yeti day,
The fluttering capes and arrival of
the Time Machine day,
You didn’t notice any of this because
you were sitting in your room, not doing anything
not even reading, not really, just
looking at your telephone,
wondering if I was going to call.

-Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wondersby Neil Gaiman. “The Day The Saucers Came” pages 271-272

Adding to the amazing creativity contained within these pages, the order of the stories and poems have been painstakingly and very effectively arranged so that each progressive story builds on the previous, giving a reader something not felt in most short story collections:  continuity.

I give Fragile Things:  Short Fictions and Wondersby Neil Gaiman five out of five stars, and place it on my shelf next to my Lord of the Rings collection, complete works of Lewis Carroll, my Chronicles of Narnia collection, my Grimms and Andersens.  A true classic of storytelling.

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Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives vol. 2 by Ellen Schreiber

Title: Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives volume 2
Author: Ellen Schreiber
Illustrator: REM
Paperback:
Publisher: TOKYOPOP
Publish Date: 2008
ISBN: 9780061340826

Almost two months ago, I visited the book fair at my middle daughter’s school. With me were Gwen, it was her parent-teacher conference we had just finished, and Maggie. Knowing Maggie’s love for the anime cartoons, and pretty much anything Asian really, I pointed out a few of the Manga books. Of the books available, she picked Vampire Kissesbecause, unlike regular Manga, it opens and reads left to right like any other western-civilized reading material… regular Manga opens and reads right to left, making the average American feel as if the book is backwards or defective; some kind of misprint. So today I am writing my first review for a Manga book :-)

According to the Anime Critic website’s glossary, Manga is:

The Japanese term for comic book. In Japan, manga are targeted at all age groups and cover a wide range of genres. This is in contrast to Western comics which are typically based around superhero themes.

Vampire Kisses Blood Relatives volume 2 is a continuation of the first book (unfortunately, we’ve not found volume one anywhere) in which Raven, the goth heroine, and Alexander, teenage Vampire hero, meet and fall in love. In volume two, they are already in love and kiss a lot in the book (which always brought a loud “EwWwwWWw!!” from Maggie, followed by giggles, then her looking back at the panel again, and giggling some more).

In this book, we meet Claude, Alexander’s half-vampire sexy cousin, and his gang. He has come from Romania to Dullsville, that’s the name of the town Raven and Alexander live in, to steal their grandmother’s vial of whole vampire blood. The construct of Vampire Kisses is that vampire blood will turn a half-vamp into a full vamp and a human, like Raven, into a half-vamp (and make her immortal).

Claude pushes this angle to try to get Raven to betray Alexander’s trust and give him the vial, telling her how, when she’s a half-vampire, she will be able to really share a common bond and a deeper relationship with Alexander. In the meantime, Alexander struggles to work out a plan that will get rid of Claude without giving him the blood.

It was a lot more interesting an pleasurable to read than I had thought it would be. The illustrations are edgy and modern, Raven in her goth gear and Claude with his lip ring, and it has a fun comedic quality to it. We laughed at several silly events… like a lot of Japanese-style animation, Vampire Kisses‘ characters become Chibi-looking caricatures of themselves until they regain their composure. The fact it was about vampires appealed to me, and I think one of my next mangas will be Vampire Knight… and Fruit Basket for Maggie.

Still uncertain of my feelings about manga, and having nothing to compare it to, I’m going to give Vampire Kisses Blood Relatives volume 2 by Ellen Schreiber 3 out of 5 stars.

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