Friday, May 31, 2013

Review: This Book is Full of Spiders

This Book is Full of Spiders:Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It by David Wong 
October 2, 2013 by St. Martin's Press


"WARNING: You may have a huge, invisible spider living in your skull. THIS IS NOT A METAPHOR.

You will dismiss this as ridiculous fearmongering. Dismissing things as ridiculous fearmongering is, in fact, the first symptom of parasitic spider infection-the creature secretes a chemical into the brain to stimulate skepticism, in order to prevent you from seeking a cure. That's just as well, since the "cure" involves learning what a chain saw tastes like.

You can't feel the spider, because it controls your nerve endings. You can't see it, because it decides what you see. You won't even feel it when it breeds. And it will breed. So what happens when your family, friends, and neighbors get mind-controlling skull spiders? We're all about to find out.

Just stay calm, and remember that telling you about the spider situation is not the same as having caused it. I'm just the messenger. Even if I did sort of cause it.

Either way, I won't hold it against you if you're upset. I know that's just the spider talking."


Okay, so my last real post was about the movie/book comparison of John Dies at the End, which I genuinely enjoyed -- it was fun! This provoked me to actually buckle down and read This Book is Full of Spiders (finally) and get back to whatever shenanigans John and Dave would be up to.

At the beginning of the book, the narrator, author and protagonist, David Wong introduces himself and tells us straight-up that you didn't need to read the previous book to understand this particular story. It's true, you don't, but I think you should read it anyways. Not because you'll understand the references made but more so because it was a fun read.


What did I think of Spiders? It was the enjoyable clusterfuck of "what the hell did I just read?" that I felt about John Dies. That's right, I said enjoyable and clusterfuck consecutively after the other. That's pretty much the best description I have. On another hand, this book is full of some intelligent ideas, and thought-provoking, heavy subject matter that makes it's way through the chaos and jokes about human excrement (or excrement in general.) Obviously, this is a book for a much more mature audience who's into some…darker humour. Any strong social commentary will give you a moment of thought before being replaced by an image of eyeball-spiders. I'm just saying.

Something I really liked in John Dies was the constant action but I really felt that Spiders moved at a slower pace for several reasons. Firstly, the characters in the story find themselves stuck in places, barricaded and with stuff like that, there seems to just be a lot of…waiting. Secondly, the narration constantly changes from first person to third person and goes back and forth in time. I'll even admit that I didn't find Spiders to be quite as funny as John Dies however, I did feel that it was a lot more refined and polished. I admit that I kind of miss the juvenile toilet humour of John Dies.

So although this book was good, I didn't find it as enjoyable as I found it's previous counterpart. Would I still recommend it? If you're into zombie outbreaks mixed with paranormal, inter-dimensial invasions, and government conspiracy theories, I definitely suggest this for a casual read.

Rating: 3.5/5 Bookworms

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

How to Talk to Girls at Parties.

So a few days ago I was browsing reddit and was pleasantly surprised to find out that one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, released a short story online and in the eBook editions [kobo], an excerpt from his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I'm entirely excited for his new book as I love his writing style; charming, offbeat and witty.

I admit that I don't read a lot of short stories. Not because I have a preference or anything but rather, I just don't come across them as often for whatever reason.

So what did I think of this particular short story?

I liked it! I didn't love it, but I did like it. The writing style is exactly how I describe it above and I honestly wanted to know more about the story and the characters... but I guess that's why it's a short story. Would I recommend it? Well, it's a free bit of work from a very prominent author. I think that kind of speaks for itself. You can also find a version of How to Talk to Girls at Parties on his website, as well as on Amazon for the Kindle.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Movie Mondays: John Dies At The End

Movie Monday is a new segment that I'll be introducing every other Monday henceforth. This is going to be an analytic review and comparison of movies and their book counterparts. I also realize that I describe myself, and this blog as being a little sassy and I've yet to really fully express my sassiness and have thus decided that this is an excellent opportunity to rip something apart. I'll try to keep the language to a minimal (but that's not a promise.)

For my first comparison, I decided to go with John Dies at the End [IMDb] which, if you've been following since the beginning (AKA a month ago) then you'll know I actually quite enjoyed reading the book. I apparently had no idea at the time of reading the book that it was actually made into film last year. Because I didn't have any clue that this was already a movie, I thought about how the book would be awesome to see on screen as it read in a way that would have made the transition quite smoothly on film and after a quick post-read wiki search , I was pleasantly surprised to find that my thoughts had already been made true.

So it kind of took me a month to actually get down to finding and watching it and I was… pretty happy with the movie adaptation. Sure, many adaptations will cut parts of the book out for length and pacing, but I thought that in this case, it was done tastefully so. Considering the book itself is a clusterfuck of a weird, chaotic mess, there was actually bits in the book that didn't contribute to the main story at all and pulling them out from the movie adaptation made a lot of sense, especially to keep things moving forward. The main premise of the story was told in less than 2 hours and honestly, if all the parts of the book were involved it probably would have taken ages. That being said, there were some parts that I missed dearly from the novel that were left out of the book, the main one being the Vegas conference. Oh well. I also wanted the characters to share the scene where they talk about their last requests and Fred Chu's character talks about how he wants rumours to be spread about him haunting the city as a ghost.

Speaking of Fred Chu, something I really liked about this movie? Well, firstly, I love the fact that Fred isn't portrayed as a stereotypical Asian who knows kung-fu or whatever. I'm greatly annoyed at the fact that there isn't a better number of Asian characters in traditional media who aren't karate-chopping people (or presented as super-nerds) considering that a large chunk of the human population is Asian. I would hardly think that calling us a 'minority' isn't quite right, either. The media and entertainment industry is just silly, sometimes. Second thing I liked about Fred Chu is that he's portrayed by Jimmy Wong. If you watch as much YouTube as much as I do, you'd be pretty happy about that too. That dude is rad.

Since we're talking about casting too, I quite liked the portrayal of the characters even if they didn't really match up with who I had thought of in my head… well, except for Arnie. I did picture him that way. The environments were also-spot on with how I envisioned them and my only other complaint is the fact that Molly, the dog, was never really referred to by her actual name and her prominence in the book held a much larger significance than in the movie. 

Overall, the movie was…not bad. I admit it was a lot easier to follow than some things in the book and there were some things left to be desired but for the bulk of the movie, and for the things that weren't cut from the book, it stayed spot-on and dedicated. I also want to mention that seeing as how the book is a bit campy, the cheesy special effects were totally appropriate and I totally approve. Michael Bay, you got cool explosions and stuff but there is a fondness in my heart for awkward green screening.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Review: Ready Player One

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
August 16, 2011 by Random House


"It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.

For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?"


I. Couldn't. Put. This. Book. Down. 

I honestly spent the bulk of a day reading this and had to force myself to sleep and when I woke up, I immediately rolled over and picked up from where I left off. This book was so good that I was sure I was addicted to it. I mean, of course I'd be addicted… Ernest Cline wrote it. I loved Fanboys so it was only obvious that of course, I'd love this piece of work that would ignite the fire that is my absolute geek.

I wasn't sure what I was feeling towards this read, however. Not in the terms of feeling turn between liking it or not; I loved this book more than I can possibly express but I wasn't sure whether I was having a lot of fun or whether or not I was terrified. The world that Ernest Cline wrote, the real world, is entirely plausible and that just blows my mind about how bad things could possibly get. Even more so, the game-world of OASIS blows my mind -- an entire existence within another reality and where education, politics and economy are of higher value than in the real world. Then you wonder whether you spend too much time in the digital world; socializing on Facebook, watching things on Netflix and YouTube, playing games, connecting with people on the other side of your planet. You order pizza online, and there are even alcohol and grocery services that deliver to your door. You honestly don't need to step outside. Except for maybe some Vitamin D stimulation. Thinking about this makes me suddenly need to go outside and breathe (so now I'm actually typing this outside on my balcony instead of inside my house…it's a start?)

This book was unbelievably exciting and I recommend it to anyone with an interest in video games, internet culture, sci-fi, fantasy and even if you aren't, I would still recommend it. It's action-packed, had really good pacing, a bit of romance and would be excellent for anyone who reads dystopian fiction as well as YA. Even if you don't catch the game or pop culture references, there's always a little something exciting if you're a younger reader and suddenly you read the words "quidditch" and of course, Doctor Who is pretty much a household name now. I'm not sure what it is about reading books and seeing things that you're familiar with in your everyday life, but it gets my heart racing and a smile draws across my face. 

If you pick this one up, I recommend that maybe you read it on a day off, or over a course of a weekend because you won't be able to pull yourself away from this read. Going to the washroom, eating food and sleeping? Not as important as this book.

Rating: 5/5 Bookworms

Friday, May 17, 2013

Review: Water for Elephants

Note: I apologize for the long wait between posts -- It's been a difficult time for me in the real world, and I needed the time to sort a lot of things out. Don't worry; I'm okay! Sometimes life gets the best of us, but there's always a good book around to set things right!

Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill May 26, 2006 


"Though he may not speak of them, the memories still dwell inside Jacob Jankowski's ninety-something-year-old mind. Memories of himself as a young man, tossed by fate onto a rickety train that was home to the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth. Memories of a world filled with freaks and clowns, with wonder and pain and anger and passion; a world with its own narrow, irrational rules, its own way of life, and its own way of death. The world of the circus: to Jacob it was both salvation and a living hell.

Jacob was there because his luck had run out—orphaned and penniless, he had no direction until he landed on this locomotive "ship of fools." It was the early part of the Great Depression, and everyone in this third-rate circus was lucky to have any job at all. Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, was there because she fell in love with the wrong man, a handsome circus boss with a wide mean streak. And Rosie the elephant was there because she was the great gray hope, the new act that was going to be the salvation of the circus; the only problem was, Rosie didn't have an act—in fact, she couldn't even follow instructions. The bond that grew among this unlikely trio was one of love and trust, and ultimately, it was their only hope for survival.

Surprising, poignant, and funny, Water for Elephants is that rare novel with a story so engrossing, one is reluctant to put it down; with characters so engaging, they continue to live long after the last page has been turned; with a world built of wonder, a world so real, one starts to breathe its air."


Childhood imagination is what comes to mind when you think about running away to join a circus. This book is exactly the reason why a childhood dream can only be a dream as it portrays the story of adults with their struggles and their relationships. This book had a lot of elements to it that made it a rather enjoyable read - it had a sense of playfulness, romance, drama, heartache and soul. I absolutely loved the portrayal of both past and present Jacob; the main character who's story alternates between his life in the circus during the Great Depression and present day, when he's a crotchety old man who hates life in a nursing home. 

The different characters, with all their faults, strangeness and personalities were all very-well portrayed, each one having their own story or difficulty. The only problem, however, was that there were quite an array of characters and although it wasn't a problem to keep track of who was who, it was unsettling only knowing them so briefly. Even the animals portrayed in the book had character and I wanted to know absolutely more about them, especially Rosie the elephant who had a rather prominent role.

The themes in this book suggest present themselves as personal struggles; mental illness, abuse, money, social, racial and religious tensions, and one that I feel like it would be overlooked is the care for our elderly despite the theme being rather prominent; it's one of those things that carry the story but you may or may not think about. This one theme suggests that with age, the world supposedly forgets about you despite the fact that you lived the history. I honestly think that's beautiful.

So what did I think of this book, really? I liked it, but I didn't fall in love with it. Was it enjoyable? Yes, absolutely! But I really wanted to know more about the history of some of the other characters, I wanted to know what happened to some of the circus animals that we were introduced to, I wanted to know more about the lives of Jacob's children travelling with the circus. I felt like there were some holes that I wish could have been filled.I thought this book was a bit uneven too as I sometimes wanted to know more about the elderly Jacob as opposed to the young one. I think I quite like cranky old Jacob better… much more endearing. Readability was decent, but I felt like there was a desire that was met unsatisfied.

Rating: 3/5 Bookworms

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Anne Frank Controversy. Or Why I'd Like to Smack People.

If you haven't already heard of the scuffle going down in Michigan, you can read about it here.

As some of you already know due to my previous posts, I'm a huge advocate for literacy and the idea of book banning is absolutely ludicrous to me. This idea that Anne Frank is being labeled as inappropriate to a group of seventh graders evokes something that really lights up some rage.

This is a censorship battle, of course, and then some.

This argument stems from a certain passage in Anne Frank's diary where she's explaining the discovery of her own anatomy. Honestly, it's normal to be curious, especially if you have no friends, books or mentors who are around to really explain the changes that are occurring during puberty. You could argue that for a group of seventh graders, that this material could be inappropriate; but is it really? Especially when that group entering their early teens is going through the same thing? By censoring this or by even arguing this, we're teaching that girls should be ashamed of their own anatomy as well as insulting the immortalization of a girl who died in a concentration camp.

This book has been read by so many people… so many young people. The material described does not make anyone a bad person, that's like the whole video games-makes-you-violent argument. Why would you insult your child by not letting them read a book like this if the idea behind it is that it would badly influence them? If you're concerned that a girl discovering her body, and explaining it, is too graphic, I'm sorry but you can't hide your children from themselves, and their own personal discoveries.

As an adult, I look back and I found solace in relating to the characters in my books. Although reading a passage like that in the Diary of Anne Frank may have made me blush, I would be grateful to know that these changes were normal. Reading this thing, while that was happening would have definitely made me feel less alone, too.

Of course this whole coming-into-womanhood isn't the main premise of what she wrote about.  It's about the struggle of growing up under such difficulties. It's the truth of how real the Holocaust was and how so many children were murdered. It's a unique and intimate portrayal of the realities of war based on racial, social and religious bigotry which is extremely relevant to this day where we don't even hear about half the wars that go on in the world. We learn about the good guys, and the bad guys, but rarely about those in-between, those innocents who suffer the most out of these ordeals.

Life isn't rainbows and sunshine and the removal of this book from any school is not going to shelter your children from a harsh reality. Learning about a bleak past in present day will only influence us to strive for a better and brighter future.

So to the mom who wants this book removed; shut up. You're not being the good mother or person that you think you're being.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
May 22, 2007 by Riverhead Books


"Born a generation apart and with very different ideas about love and family, Mariam and Laila are two women brought jarringly together by war, by loss and by fate. As they endure the ever escalating dangers around them-in their home as well as in the streets of Kabul-they come to form a bond that makes them both sisters and mother-daughter to each other, and that will ultimately alter the course not just of their own lives but of the next generation. With heart-wrenching power and suspense, Hosseini shows how a woman's love for her family can move her to shocking and heroic acts of self-sacrifice, and that in the end it is love, or even the memory of love, that is often the key to survival.

A stunning accomplishment, A Thousand Splendid Suns is a haunting, heartbreaking, compelling story of an unforgiving time, an unlikely friendship, and an indestructible love."


I don't know why it took me so long to pick up anything written by Khaled Hosseini. Reading A Thousand Splendid Suns was an incredibly humbling experience; both heartbreaking and heartwarming but absolutely moving. It's not often my eyes want to water, something which I had to prevent as I didn't want to embarrassingly start bawling in the middle of a busy cafe.

It's now that I understand why this book is often praised and loved and it only makes me so excited to read Hosseini's new book; And The Mountains Echoed. A Thousand Splendid Suns is not just a heavy read, but an experience -- this is something you read to learn about being really, truly human. This is something you read and suddenly you've been given an intense life lesson about what love is. I'm not just talking about romantic love, but love for your mothers, your children, and of course, love for yourself. This book is heavy. This book is hopeful. This book is beautiful. You finish this story, close the book and you spend time in the silence of thought. By finishing this book, you're rewarded with a greater appreciation for your own life. The roof over your head, your full belly, the running water and just how precious your friends and family are.

I learned absolutely so much in this book; especially about the historical events in Afghanistan in the last few decades and about the experience of war. I learned about how much the human spirit could take, and I learned enormously about motherhood and companionship. I learned about the power of faith, too. 

I highly recommend this book to…anyone, maybe everyone. There are some definite mature subjects such as domestic violence and yes, war, but you'll take away so much from this book and won't regret ever picking it up.

Rating: 5/5 Bookworms

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books That Are Light and Fun!

This is definitely an easy Top Ten for me… especially now that the sun is bright and warm, these are fun little reads hat I stand by for lovely summer park reading. As usual, Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by the lovelies over at The Broke and The Bookish.

In no particular order:

1. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
I raved about this book a few weeks ago -- I absolutely LOVED this book.It was so much fun and such a joy to read that I literally almost cried because it was like playtime was over. 

2. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Always fun, funny and about trying to find your place in the universe. Really strange circumstances, interesting characters. This has always been a fallback for me when I read a heavy book and need a good pick me up.

3. Fool by Christopher Moore
Christopher Moore has a way of making Shakespeare tragedy awfully fun to laugh at. Honestly, any of Moore's books are great when you need something to laugh at - he's made it an art form!

4. Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Not a novel, but comics! You'll probably see me reviewing comics in the future, too, by the way. Calvin and Hobbes has always been a childhood favourite and I've related them heavily to my sister. I'm not at all close with my sister but this is one thing we definitely share in common and the laughs together has given me warm touchy-feelies.

5. Any of Roald Dahl's children's stories. (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Matilda, James and the Giant Peach)
Nostalgic children's books. So good!

6. The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks
Because it's amusing…and well, everyone needs to read this just in case.

7. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman always writes some amusingly fun books. I chose Neverwhere due to the strange characters and sarcastic wit he writes with. 

8. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K. Rowling
The books get darker and darker the further you read into the series, but this first book is quite delightful and joyful for the most part. It certainly sends you on a great adventure, if anything.

9. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
Another childhood favourite full of heart warming loveliness and happiness.

10. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Although there is some heavy subject matter such as war, this book has bits that make you giggle, and it's a very quick read, but an excellent one.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

On Morality and Controversy

So not too long ago DC comics put "on hold" a project that caused a lot of controversy. Why? Well, it involved a very prestigious sci-fi writer whom we know as Orson Scott Card who's stirred a lot of feelings from expressing his personal criticisms about homosexuality. LGBT community loves Superman and they really don't like homophobia. Neither do I! This writer's vocal opinions really make me want to hit my head against a wall and scream words that would set my eloquence back to elementary school.

I read Ender's Game a long time ago and really enjoyed this book so it frustrates me knowing Orson Scott Card (OSC) is a crazy meanie-head. I really enjoyed reading Ender's Game, and I'm a fan of the book. That's the thing, however; I'm a fan of the writing, but not the writer. My relationship with his work is suddenly complicated and I think it's a damn shame. His older work reflects definite themes and messages that are relevant and positive to our times that we should pay attention to. I can't deny that he's a pretty good writer but a good person? That's questionable.

OSC has related homosexuality to pedophilia and is adamant that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. This makes me want to kick over a sandcastle so much! OSC, you're a science fiction writer! You write stories that takes place in the future and here you are, setting us back a few centuries! If you want to see a positive future, you have to open up your mind a little and embrace changes, forgive, and try and create a positive experience for yourself and everyone around you. Sigh.

I think I've come to an aversion to recommending his work to others at this point and I'm not sure if I'm even going to be watching the new Ender's Game movie. OSC, why do you have to be such a poop? I want to say "You should try reading this book, Ender's Game!" but I can't without feeling a pang of uneasiness building in my gut. 

I think there's a moral to this whole ordeal; if you write to spread good messages and ideas, it's only fair to keep an open mind if other people are welcoming your words into their heads.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles by Madeleine Miller
Published September 20th 2011 by Bloomsbury Publishing 


"Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, 'best of all the Greeks', is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles's mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart."


I'm going to say now that if you don't know anything about Greek mythology, especially about Achilles and Patroclus, well… let's just say you're missing out on a lot of cool things and there might be some very slight spoilers here.

The Song of Achilles is pretty much what you think it is; a story about Achilles. As in the Achilles... you know the one in The Iliad? The guy with the heel. The spin is, however, that this story is from the perspective of Patroclus, a character in Greek mythology known to be Achilles' most trusted friend, or as many people have argued, lovers. In this story, they are indeed lovers which I'm actually so thrilled about. Why? Well I feel like I just don't read enough books, especially prize-winners, that involve a homosexual relationship. Not that they don't exist but I feel like it's only been recently that I've begun seeing more of them. I love seeing more books talking about sexuality and different kinds of relationships -- am I the only one who's seeing them more only recently?

Despite winning a prize, I honestly thought this book was still only alright. Something I have to praise Miller on is how she wrote the development of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. I felt like their connection was so honest and natural as it developed and grew. As much as I loved how well their relationship played out I felt like it focused far too much into it. This was so frustrating for me because parts of it plateaued and dragged on and on. I wanted something to bloody happen and for Patroclus to stop admiring Achille's hot bod. It's really not often I think "somebody die already!" I needed some development, dammit!

Although Miller's language was very thoughtfully used, classical-feeling but read in a very modern state, her take on the characters weren't my favourite. Patroclus was made out to be weak and incompetent as a warrior which is absurd. Patroclus was a pretty able warrior and quite frankly, if you're comrade to Achilles, of course you're going to be weaker in comparison, but on the field? He was as competent as any other non-God warrior. Oh, and let's not mention that Achilles' character in this book is vastly different than how I would imagine him from The Iliad. I always thought he was arrogant and far too self-confident, which, okay, fine, from the perspective of a lover, I understand why that's not as apparent. I feel like the characters weren't really as well-done as their relationship was, and that was disappointing. It's hard following characters that you're not liking quite as much through a story that drags on for ages.

This book is a…decent enough retelling of The Iliad. I felt the characters were rather annoying, and that there was a lot of focus on the romance despite the fact that there was a pretty bloody war going on around the main characters. The in-book-timeframe honestly took forever despite the book only being less than 400 pages long. My only other complaint is that the edition I bought had a foil cover and it flaked on EVERYTHING. My hands were absolutely disgusting every time I picked this book up and there was gold foil bits scattered around the couch I would read on. Annoying.

Rating: 3/5 Bookworms … not horrible, but it wasn't great either.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Published March 7th 2000 by Random House (first published January 1st 2000)


"Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth -- musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies -- the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story -- of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams."


I had House of Leaves on my to-read list for a long, long time but never got around to picking it up. I either never had the funding or it wasn't available in the library but it just so happened my roommate actually had a copy and was kind enough to loan it to me. I wasn't disappointed -- I was enthralled by this book; the pages were beautiful, the format was unique, the story was absolutely bizarre. This was my kind of book!

This book is probably one of very, very few that actually made me have some really weird dreams and often enough as this book was a long read. Reading it becomes intense and disorienting and requires a lot of time but the effort is well-worth what waits within the pages. There's lots of puzzles and things to sort out in the book. For example, the cover itself a blueprint of the House. It's an extremely challenging read -- but not in terms of the language it uses. Sometimes you need to flip the book upside down, on it's side, turn back pages and so on and so forth. The journey this book takes you on is quite fun, but trust me when I say that you can only go through it for x amount of time before you need to put it down. The formatting of the book sets the emotional roller coaster for you and captures what the House is doing to the characters. Or is the House just reflecting on the characters?

I should make mention that House of Leaves isn't just telling one story, but two main stories with one story affecting the other. Both stories seem to play a lot on obsession and the entire book plays a lot with symbolism, metaphor and references to history and literature.

What I really love about this book, most of all, is witnessing how human the characters were in such a fantastical story, especially in how their relationships were with each other.

This book is a lot of terror, mystery, adventure with a splash of romance. This should be read when you have a lot of time on your hands and is definitely for a more mature audience. If you're a night reader, I don't suggest reading this after sunset. No, seriously, don't do it. If you're feeling for something vastly different from your average book and love a good puzzle, this book is absolutely right in your ballpark.

Rating: 5/5 Bookworms

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What I'm Reading This Month: May 2013

I love the new start in a fresh month, especially when it starts with beautiful, sunny weather! You can expect me to be reading and writing on a park bench outside, my pages lit up by the warm sunlight! You may even see me reading my May reads on a patio with a lovely iced coffee or maybe a pint of beer! What? Don't judge me!

I'm starting off the month by reading a great book by a great Canadian author, Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I'm incredibly excited about the release of MaddAddam and I've made a mission to read the first two of the trilogy (the second being Year of the Flood) before I go out and get the new book! If you see me at the book store on the release date, there's a good change you might hear me squeal a tiny, tiny bit. You can, of course, expect me to have a review posted of the series as soon as I'm finished with it! 

The next three books come from my library haul the other day! I love libraries, but I wish the one closest to me had a bigger selection. Not that it's impossible to find some great things out there, but there's definitely books that are on my To-Be-Read that I'm surprised aren't in that local library. Then again, it also serves as a school library for the local high-school kids, so I guess it's to be expected. 

First up in Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore. I've read several of Moore's books before and although not my favourite author, he has definite consistency and I can fall back on him to lighten up my mood. I'm definitely excited about reading this for several reasons: 
  1. I studied art and this book revolves around Vincent van Gogh. 
  2. Set in Paris, France in the late nineteenth-century. 
  3. My life has been sucking hard lately and I'm looking forward to having a good laugh.
White Teeth is a book I picked up on whim. I've never read any of Zadie Smith's work, but the cover really captured my eye. Do I judge a book by it's cover? Well, I'm an art fiend, so a cover that stands out makes me want to pick it up more. The cover design is by tattoo artist Lynn Akura and it's definitely reflective of that style of work. Reading the summary, a description about different cultures, war, family and love are involved. This novel is apparently a debut novel for Zadie Smith and is described to be big-hearted. So really, what can go wrong?

Last book I have on my list is Water for Elephants. I've never read this book, but I know plenty of people who have. In fact, they had three copies in the library, is a #1 New York Times Bestseller and it's about running away into a circus. This book has potential written all over it. Oh, did I mention that once again, Sara Gruen, the author is Canadian? This book is already getting pretty massive points from me!

As it stands, these are my current TBR but the list never truly ends. With that being said, more books to come, and I'm open to suggestions for a great book to read on my travels to Vegas in a few weeks! Assuming I don't just spend my time boozing and being mesmerized by the bright lights!