Category Archives: Writing

30 Helens agree.

27. The Man in the Woods – Rosemary Wells

It’s easy to get jaded when reading YA as a cynical adult, so whenever I read a YA novel that was published in the YA version of the trade paperback format that has a really good story, I get confused. The Man in the Woods has a good story, solid characters, a thorough characterization of a town, and was written by an author whose children’s books involve guinea pigs! Sometimes!

One thing, this is the first book I will be covering this summer that involves solving a mystery of who is being threatening by finding a typewriter, which seems weird, but, also okay as I do like typewriters and have now learned that I should never type threatening letters on a distinct one. Done.

Anyway, Helen is a fun character to follow while she tries to solve the mystery behind an accident she witnesses, navigate the horrors of joining her new school’s newspaper, and make decent friends while basically ruining the town’s legacy. It’s not very easy.

There were no typewriters under the blankets. Twiglet’s search continues.

Mixtape:

1. Almanac – Widowspeak
2. Until the Night Is Over – Timber Timbre
3. Far from Any Road – The Handsome Family
4. Wither – True Widow
5. Old Shoes (and Picture Postcards) – Tom Waits
6. The Argus – Ween
7. Woke Up This Morning – Abner Jay
8. For the Love of Ivy – The Gun Club
9. Ceremonial Secrets – Glitter Bones
10. Bedlam – Gallon Drunk
11. The Apple & the Tree – Graveyard
12. A Thousand Years – Gallon Drunk
13. Light Into Dark – Windhand
14. Rope on Fire – Morphine

 

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Young’uns. They exist.

21. The Nightmare Man – Tessa Krailing

The protagonist in this extraordinarily short novel is extremely young. SO young. So it doesn’t read like other Point Horror and the title is more like “I need a nightlight because I’m 10 and scared” nightmare than like mind-ripping teenage brutality… because that’s what all the other Point Horror novels are like, mind-ripping teenage brutality. This reads like some kids snuck into a movie they were too young to see, but, not really because it’s just a fine little story about ghosts and taxidermy and a pond set in the UK.

“I believe I was promised mind-ripping brutality.” – Duncan

Mixtape:

1. Bakom Varje Fura – Finntroll
2. A Stroll through Hive Manor Corridors – The Hives
3. They Only Come out at Night – Dance with the Dead
4. The Light at the End (Effect) – Uniform
5. Cold, Cold Rain – Danzig
6. Bottomless Pit – King Dude
7. New Dawn Fades – Joy Division
8. Still Evolving – Josh Freda
9. Sister Doom Face – Harglow
10. Sons of Thunder – High on Fire
11. Midnattens Widunder – Finntroll
12. That House – Dance with the Dead
13. To Here Knows When – My Bloody Valentine

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“It would be easier to stop Karswell’s demon than a woman with her mind made up.”

36. The Crush II – Jo Gibson

Carla, main narrator, would like you to know that she is plain. So plain. She has glasses! How astonishingly plain of her.

Anyway, now that we know that Carla is plain, we should talk about psychopath killer Judy and popular musician Michael. Oh, and this is the second book and I haven’t read the first, but I get the impression they might just follow a bit of a formula. You see, every girl that dates Michael gets killed – by Judy, the Cupid Killer. But! At the beginning of The Crush II, Michael gets out of protective custody at the hospital and doesn’t invite Judy to his welcome home party so she drives off a cliff after leaving a letter explaining that she is the Cupid Killer and Michael isn’t. Very clever, Judy.

This book actually was pretty amusing, you see all the main kids work at a teenager music bar that serves fruit drinks (mmhmm) and it’s a really easy place for Michael to realize he loves plainass Carla, but then go out with Heidi and her showbiz connections instead. And then, when Carla takes off her glasses for a movie part and starts wearing flowy separates because of the same movie part, Michael realizes he loves her again, and then allows himself to be nearly date raped by Vera. When Carla rescues him from that situation, sort of, he realizes he loves her again – only to have his childhood best friend show up and seduce him! Of course, Miss Showbiz and Vera have been killed at this point by Judy’s ghost? A copycat Cupid Killer? Nope. It all becomes clear after childhood best friend turned seductress gets murdered and Michael gives his class ring to Carla! Plain old, unmurderable Carla. Well, she gets stabbed – Judy killed a hitchhiker and stuck her in her car, but she lives so she and Michael can be “engaged to be engaged.” Barf. Put your glasses back on Carla, then Judy won’t recognize you when she inevitably escapes from the mental hospital.

Ozma is the Michael of my herd, she’s like, so popular with the boys. So popular.

Mixtape:

1. Temptation – New Order
2. Empathy Boxes – All of Them Witches
3. Heart On – Eagles of Death Metal
4. Garbage City – Hanni El Khatib
5. The Cardinal Sin – Dead Can Dance
6. You’re Toast – Electric Six
7. Don’t Ask Me to Love You – The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster
8. We Hit a Wall – Chelsea Wolfe
9. Funtime – Iggy Pop
10. March to the Altar – Terrortron
11. Monday Hunt – Carpenter Brut
12. Dressed to Kill – Dance with the Dead
13. Future Persuasion – Electric Citizen
14. Down with the King – Midnight Force
15. Rats in Paradise – The Birthday Party
16. Whorehoppin – Eagles of Death Metal

 

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Holding cells are where the Halloween magic really happens.

35. Amy – Samantha Lee

British book about US Halloween, excuse me, the States’ Hallowe’en, bring on the yokel language and stuff that doesn’t happen! Follow that up with words we don’t use and more hick language, add one ghost, and you have Amy. It’s short. And kinda sad. For every biscuit (cookies are a bad idea to give out for trick or treat, they crumble and nobody said they were little packs of Oreos when they were walking around carrying cookies in their sheet-based outfits) and holdall that don’t work, there’s a “Land sakes!” that made me laugh. Also, like every imaginary small town story, there’s just one big area for the holding cells that need to, um, hold, the biker who comes through town to solve mysteries, the town drunk, and not the perpetrators of evil dressed as vampires – twin teen boys… or the person who really is responsible for the drowned ghost running around in a sheet full of cookie crumbs.

Pickles would’ve been all right if they gave out cilantro on Halloween, but no one does that either.

Mixtape:

1. Lone – Chelsea Wolfe
2. All Hallows’ Eve – The Heartwood Institute
3. Pursuit – All of Them Witches
4. Hear the Sirens Scream – Electric Wizard
5. We’ve Seen the Blood – The Mangled Dead
6. Bride of the Devil – Electric Six
7. Revenged – Repeated Viewing
8. A Face in the Fog – Joel Grind
9. Blue Harvest – All of Them Witches
10. Get Out – Wojciech Golczewski
11. Walkin’ on the Sidewalks – Queens of the Stone Age
12. Hexagram – Graham Reznick
13. Diablerie – Windhand
14. All Hallows’ (Epilogue) – Ogre & Dallas Campbell
15. Two Spirit – Chelsea Wolfe

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Miranda and the Owl

50. The Ghost Next Door – Wylly Folk St. John

This book is from 1972 and it is very much for persons on the young end of young’un but printed in the form of a YA book when YA wasn’t entirely a thing and juveniles might be keen to read something melancholy with a smidge of the supernatural.

The children in the book were nice enough to follow around trying to find an owl that Miranda, lord of the neighborhood – well, not really, her aunt just hasn’t been able to get past or through her grief about Miranda’s death, and her aunt made with “love in its eyes.” There’s a seance, which is immediately pegged as being to mislead the poor aunt, there are notes Miranda left behind, there’s Miranda’s half-sister who seems to be communicating with Miranda somehow, and it turns into a nice little semi-cozy mystery instead of Miranda sucking everyone into hell because of her untimely death. That could wait till the 1980s.

Merricat, haver of an untimely death via liver cancer at age 2, says we’ll be dragging everyone to hell at noon.

Mixtape:

1. Anonymous Letter – Ogre and Dallas Campbell
2. The Deadenin’ – Legendary Shack Shakers
3. Lost in Time – Midnight Force
4. Grey Garden – Windhand
5. The Otherworld – All of Them Witches
6. Night Child – Electric Wizard
7. Near Dark – Dance with the Dead
8. Ghosts House – Witchcraft
9. The Guest at the Window – Pentagram Home Video
10. Goodbye Gemini – Blood Ceremony
11. Ghost Boy – Widowspeak
12. Circumradiant Dawn – Dead Can Dance
13. Blood Promise – Swans
14. Things Present, Things Past – Blood Ceremony

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Bavmorda of the sea

43. The Surfer – Linda Cargill

There are very committed swimmers in this book. Even the one who turns out to be an ancient witch – she curses families and she surfs very well. At night. When no one is around except for the main character, Jessie, who hangs out on a creaking pier she’s not supposed to and gets way more than she bargained for as a result.

There’s some toxic, toxic relationships in this book too. Swimmers in toxic families and friendships. Although, if your toxic friend makes it clear she can control the weather, it does make her much, much harder to ditch. They try though, there is much driving around. So much driving around. They drive almost as much as they swim or talk about swimming or the ocean.

It’s also a book where things seem like they’re going to follow a somewhat solid storyline and then they just fall apart all over the place instead like a badly glued popsicle stick sculpture. Sure it seemed sound, but then it very much wasn’t.

Peregrine’s looking for the sense-making plot line that has been cast into the sea.

Mixtape:

1. Diamond in the Witch House – Mastodon
2. Attack of the Ghost Riders – The Raveonettes
3. Say a Spell – The Birthday Party
4. Witch’s Hammer – King Dude
5. Possession – Samhain
6. Fiskarens Fiende – Finntroll
7. Teenage Thunder – Sigue Sigue Sputnik
8. I Sat by the Ocean – Queens of the Stone Age
9. Forget That You’re Young – The Raveonettes
10. Silver Chain – Rowland S. Howard
11. Stand Inside Your Love – Smashing Pumpkins
12. Back to the Old House – The Smiths
13. Dream in Red – Murder By Death
14. Big Sky – Reverend Horton Heat

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Bart Simpson is correct.

34. When Darkness Calls – Janet E. Gill

As Bart Simpson once said, “All the best bands are affiliated with Satan.” And like most things, the Simpsons writers are correct about this. But, Janet wants her reader to assume that being affiliated with Satan is equivalent to being affiliated with Nazis by casually incorporating the swastika into random situations where they only needed to be present if these teen Satanists were also white supremacists…and considering their group was multiethnic, they were not white supremacists. The not-Nazi religions and groups that used that symbol and slightly different versions of it prior to its co-opting for racist bullshit were not and are not Satanic (it’s just really hard to picture any type of Buddhists caring about Satan, amongst other reasons this made no sense), so it’s being used as a lazy shortcut to these black wearing teens being evil and frankly, saying they’re Satanists who wear Baphomet pendants to school is enough to lazily do that.

This book was essentially Don’t Make Me Go Back, Mommy, teen edition, but even that ridiculous, debunked, horrorshow of a children’s book warning about teachers and daycare and rabbits (it’s the rabbits that should’ve tipped everyone off, clearly, but maybe also the capes) didn’t equivocate Satanists and white supremacists like shorthand for being seriously evil. Like really, really, really evil, you guys. They smoke pot and encourage this poor new girl who wants to get in her new school’s student government to cheat on her boyfriend, but with Peter Drake and his magical disappearing car, not just Satan. They also force her to go to a heavy metal concert! She wears white and pink to a heavy metal concert! What a rebel, she’s just a Satanist of the individualist type and doesn’t even know it. And then gets fake chicken blood all over her outfit – which, yeah, that’s not cool. I hate it when there’s sticky shit at any concert, because the floor is already sticky, we don’t need more mess and definitely don’t need to endure music we don’t like to fit in and “give us [the awfully pushy Satanists who apparently never saw the Indiana Jones films that make it clear the goals of the WWII Nazis were not to eat chips, smoke pot, worship Satan, listen to shit music, and rule a high school] a chance.” The horror of what one does to be allowed to fundraise and go on the class trip to DC.

Finny, the antichrist of my home, says those teens were always going to peak in high school anyway.

Mixtape:

1. A Witch Stole Sam – Mark Korven
2. Sinners – The Cramps
3. N.I.B. – Black Sabbath
4. I Hear Satan – Dax Riggs
5. Am I Demon – Danzig
6. Louis Cyphre – Burning Tapes
7. I’m the Devil – Electric Six
8. Demons from Hell – Ice Dragon
9. Amaranth – Windhand
10. Kill You – Dethklok
11. Hel Vete – Finntroll
12. Fire Fire (Live) – Motorhead
13. Black Mass – Electric Wizard
14. The Hooves of My Lord – Ice Dragon

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An overreaction to tacky necklaces.

48. Twisted Summer – Willo Davis Roberts

Mistake one – going to Crystal Lake, I mean, haven’t these people heard about the camp?

Okay, so, location names that now mean something much different than they used to aside – Wait! This was originally published in 1998. She should have known better. Credit rescinded. – this story has more parallels with the concepts raised by Friday the 13th. The girl that got killed last summer had a bad reputation… but apparently everyone thinks she was murdered by some townie’s older brother, who is cool, but a poor townie, so of course he’s a great scapegoat. His name is Jason. I’m kidding. It’s Brody and he went immediately to jail even though he totally didn’t do it. I mean, his name is Brody, he very well could’ve done it, but if he did, main character Cici’s summer won’t be ruined and she won’t get Brody’s younger brother as a boyfriend either. Bummer.

Just so everything’s clear, this book is actually pretty well structured, unlike my review. It’s also got characters that are better developed than the ones in the first novel I read by Willo Davis Roberts, The Tarot Spell, which demonstrated just a giant dearth of female empowerment and so I was very glad this was better. The children deserved better.

“Nobody thought about that association? Really? The ‘Final Friday’ had already come out,” Belvedere knows Jason is a household name for murder-reasons.

 

Mixtape:

1. The Guest at the Window – Pentagram Home Video
2. Chattox – All of Them Witches
3. Little Thing Gone Wild – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
4. Bad People in a Bad Place Doing Bad Things – Repeated Viewing
5. Haydee – Burning Tapes
6. Rain Grey, Dark Sky – Brass Hearse
7. The Weeping Willows – Espectrostatic
8. Flower Phantoms – Blood Ceremony
9. The Dove & the Serpent – Devil Electric
10. Crux – Electric Citizen
11. Architecture for the Night – Harglow
12. Eye of the Storm – Dance with the Dead
13. Rabbit Run – Ogre and Dallas Campbell
14. A Dream about the Lake – Espectrostatic
15. Last Rays of Daylight – Ogre and Dallas Campbell
16. Damned if She Do – The Kills

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You’ll change your mind.

27. I Can Barely Take Care of Myself – Jen Kirkman

For women of a certain age range, especially if they’re dating and hetero, there are some questions that maybe, just maybe, people should stop asking. When are you going to settle down? and When are you going to have kids? being the main two that should never be asked. They are tiresome, they are based in outdated social constructs, and they’re nobody’s business. That’s a major premise of this book, but Jen Kirkman wants to put things a little nicer way. I don’t, so I didn’t there. I’ve read some things about how independent people who don’t want to have families are scaring society and I laugh at those fears while eating more avocado toast. [Side reality note: I’ve never actually had avocado toast and I don’t care if I ever do. Take that, societal expectations.] Mostly, I think it’s a personal choice that isn’t very kind to ask about if one is going to invalidate the woman who was asked if one doesn’t like her answer. If a thirty-year-old woman says, “Kids aren’t for me,” the correct response to that is, “Okay,” NOT “You’ll change your mind.”

Anyhoo, there’s not much to this book. That premise is societally scary and that’s fine but there’s just not a large amount of new ground on this topic here or that’s particularly funny. She got a bit ranty, but was also toned down about it, that’s okay. Woo.

Twiglet says, “No. I won’t.”

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“Using the bodies up as we go”

4. Give Me Your Hand – Megan Abbott

They didn’t have guinea pigs in their lab and for that I am grateful. For once, I didn’t have to read inaccurate depictions of guinea pig behavior so they could be utilized for research by a seemingly accurate group of postdocs. Instead, a clump of dead mice fell from the ceiling with a huge bloody thwack. So gross. Such a way to begin.

To an extent, this story was a little all over the place and at several points didn’t ring true to me- at one point I found myself caring not a bit about what the central secret really was, but I still found it overall to be a solid read. It was the first book I’ve read by Abbott and I can say that I liked it a hell of a lot more than the second one I read- Dare Me. That book felt like it was trying too hard to be edgy. But this one, as someone who has several degrees that aren’t in the hard sciences but has helped a lot of those graduate students in the library and with finding articles, this one was enjoyable because that part rang true.

I do think one of the major bullshits of academia is the cutthroat nature of competing for research placement and funding. Just think what this country would be like if we looked at education funding as truly part of the greater good? Or at education as something that benefits society as a whole and not just something to mock the students for later when they’re trying to pay back their student loans? My generation is lost in my opinion in no small part due to student loan re-payment, but since I’m not fresh out of college, we are forgotten for the fresh new debtors when we could have been contributing much more forcefully to the economy for years. YEARS. More than a decade, even. But, it’s more fun to be completely out of touch and act like only new college students have this problem and isn’t everybody who bought that lie about how going to college would help them get better pay stupid? Happy graduation, everyone!

Who has fourteen toes and will never be used in research? This Horace.

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