1. Spell Bound – Kelley Armstrong
The series is almost over, so it’s time for the character cameo rodeo. And making Savannah, the young witch, the main character again sort of takes the edge off the stakes of the supposed build up to the grand finale. When the world you’ve created has a shitload of characters, many with very similar traits of running at trouble after finding it, it can be just a little fillery. I have seen some reviews that pegged this entry in the Otherworld series as YA, which I think is an apt comparison. Savannah’s wanted to be the poster child of the Supernatural Liberation Movement, she wants Adam to see her as more of a potential love interest than just a whiny kid and his best friend, she lost her powers and needs to get them back, she’s being chased by a witch hunter – all of these are normal YA/coming of age sorts of topics. So it was a little weird to have this as the penultimate entry. Oh well.
As ladypigs, Peregrine and Ozma know some penultimate book of the series level-intrigue and you can see it on their sweet little faces.
63. The Grip of It – Jac Jemc
If I’ve learned anything from all the haunted house books I’ve read and all the haunted house shows I’ve watched is that if a really cool house is cheap – something is desperately wrong with it. New, old, it doesn’t matter what decade you’re buying it in either, it’s probably haunted. By something. Perhaps the ghosts of architects past, perhaps the ground is sour and there’s no specific ghost, perhaps somebody’s really favoritist mother- who knows?
In this story there are no clear explanations. There are hidden rooms, weird stains, drawings that show up on the wall, an encroaching forest, a creepy neighbor who lives with cats and an ammonia smell that was palpable through the pages, some creepy kids in a tree, burgeoning medical problems, algae, a cave scene that I thought was actually going to go somewhere but didn’t… It was interesting but I’m about as clear on how I feel about it as the book was clear about exactly what was happening and there’s an extent to which I wanted more.
I mean, they looked at newspaper on fiche (insane, it should have been microfilm, looking at newspaper on fiche is a nightmare if you don’t have an exact date for what you’re looking for and sometimes even if you do – librarian tip) and they still didn’t have a specific and clear explanation. Well, dude was a beginning fiche user.
Ozma hides her head at the thought of looking for newspaper articles on fiche. The endless grocery cart motions to get through the pages, never knowing which side of the fiche goes down and then having to pull out the tray to flip it like every time you need a new one, getting to the end of the row and forgetting which direction you’re actually supposed to push and then pull to get to the beginning of the next row, your eyes going bleary from trying to catch the one detail you need to confirm the article … I mean, it’s okay if it’s the index to the paper, but not the actual newspaper. That’s just brutal. Brutal.
92. The Day Is Dark – Yrsa Sigurdardottir
I have read a couple of books lately that involve Greenland and as I am a fan of stories like The Thing and scared of latent bacterial diseases that are definitely going to come out of the permafrost and kill me off if I finally get to move somewhere I can breathe without my allergies being a major daily concern…well, this book worked for me. It’s bleak and there are several unlikable characters, even if none of them is an alien-infected dog.
It’s another story of Thora, the lawyer who gets to do more than most lawyers I’ve heard of, traveling to Greenland because of a possible failed operation and some missing workers. Is this still monetarily viable for the company? That is, um, not intriguing to me at all, but the rest of it was. There was a lot of cold, messing around with bones (not the best idea here), a dead guy in a freezer, some elements that were supernatural via religious ideas, and a lot of unpleasant conversation. It also touched on how awful it is to be the odd one out in a group of workers, so, much is covered. Oh, and Thora packed like a total moron for the trip while trashed. Nice. Very human.
In this herd of golden pigs – Horace, Ozma, Finny, and ultimate ruler Peregrine, everyone was an odd one and that’s why they were all so wholly lovable as a group.
16. The Walls Around Us – Nova Ren Suma
The Year of the Pig is not over yet, but for my pigs it has been the year of Pig Death. Granted, one was terminal illness and two were really old age-related if you want to get down to it, but still. Three. I really should be reading and writing about A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck, as an aspirational thing or an impossible new year’s resolution, but, that would just be a title thing and a thing I want in year form. Instead, I have chosen a magical realism tale about a wrongfully imprisoned teen, her rightfully imprisoned cellmate, and the conscience-less ballerina who made their meeting happen…right before everyone in the child prison died and got all ghosty. Spoiler. Everyone dies. That’s a life spoiler.
The Walls Around Us is also a reminder of how talent makes people jealous. Even other talented people who are just insecure and need to realize that another talented person existing, especially one who does not have the advantages of money and support, is not going to hurt them. Advantages hurt people all the time, the ones who don’t have them, anyway.
Being born into or forced into a bad situation hurts too, which is why Amber the murderer in the story gained my sympathy to a large extent. Plus I totally get why she wants to dominate the book cart in juvie. Ori, who gets thrown into juvie for a crime she did not commit, well, she wasn’t born into good circumstances either and she is a massively talented ballerina. So she apparently has to pay, so that Violet the haver of all advantages and also technically a talented ballerina doesn’t have anyone to outshine her or make it clear she’s a criminal around.
The language in this book is beautiful and poetic in a way that did not bother me for once. I believe it’s because of how grounded it seemed. It didn’t seem like Nova Ren Suma was trying to avoid character development or the realities of these characters so she could wax lyrical about guilt or make life in prison an escapist fantasy (suck it, Suckerpunch), but it’s still a very unsettling story, both in plot and reading experience.
Also unsettling – how perfectly Ozma posed with paintings of herself, even at five years old. She was too cute. Too cute.
96. New Year’s Evil – Michael August
It seems this is an overly easy play on words to make. Everybody’s done it from Eazy-E to the 1980 slasher film with the best opening song not to have a wide release full soundtrack to back it up to this 1994 entry in the Z*Fave Scream series which doesn’t even really have much anticipation in relation to the holiday. It easily could have happened on any other holiday when teenagers usually have parties. Or, like an equinox, or any exciting day for astrology. I mean, there’s no anticipation about who is going to secure the beer, if there will be murders in different time zones, or whether or not there will be a kiss from a super-crush at midnight. They also did not paint the town.
It starts with goody two-shoes Tess Ryan trying to buy candles for a ritual the new girl says will keep the local ne’er do well off of her and her friends’ backs. The new girl is from New Orleans and is apparently very, very old for someone attending high school.
Tess wants mostly normal 90s teen things – to date the boy her father looks at like he’s the one beating kids up (He wears ripped jeans. And black! Oh horror of suburban horrors.), to hang out with her friends the bubbly one and that other nerd boy, and to research witchcraft at the local library when it seems like something’s up. It’s tubular.
I’ll be honest, their solution to witchcraft-based attacks is a little weak, but, the witch did manage to take most of the good books out of the library before they got anything useful. Sinister shit.
When it came to Horace and Ozma, she really didn’t have to worry about whether she’d get her NYE kiss either.
71. Cold Earth – Sarah Moss
What if the archaeological dig is haunted? By personal failure? Could you dig it? Or, as is more accurate in terms of this book, can you make it? As in survive on classic novels, crackers, and sad noodles? While still pretending that your excavation matters? Can you listen to the jackass who didn’t check to see if the satellite phone they brought even works tell you not to “disturb the site” while you are developing scary symptoms of being deathly cold and it has a shelter?
I’m asking many questions, but many questions are raised by this book – especially at the end. It is a bit of a confusing ending and I can’t tell if I felt like it was rushed or if it was just too optimistic when throughout the book they keep mentioning a virus that’s spreading in not-remote Greenland areas. It seemed like when the internet went down whole hog that virus might be way more than just something to stoke their isolated paranoia.
Also, to establish my baseline for how reading this felt, Nina was soooo annoying, and she’s both the voice allowed the most space and the main one hearing and seeing ghosts. AND she’s not even an archaeologist or an anthro student, so, somehow, she wins the annoying olympics without bringing much expertise. I mean, she has expertise, but a lot of it is about food – which is not helpful on a remote dig when the “food” is dwindling. But I’m definitely not on Ruth’s super-bitch side either, or Iowan Jim’s (nope, he’s not a similar Iowan to me, he had like no fight in him), or optimistically painting terrified Catriona’s, or agreeable Ben’s, definitely not Mr. Lack of Preparation/Don’t Touch That Turf Mr. Yianni’s. I am on the side of the sheep who kept randomly bothering them. Those sheep were on to something about the intersection of curiosity and knowing your limits. I need to know if that virus was zoonotic in case the sheep didn’t make it.
Ozma and Peregrine demonstrate their work methods in this dramatic recreation of an archaeological dig on the couch. When you find “bones,” put your little teefs on them.
Filed under Books, Review
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.
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
68. You – Caroline Kepnes
Stalk-stalkity-stalk-stalk-stalk. Okay. You reads quite quickly and is basically a great exploration of how not to end up in a relationship, how not to keep a relationship, how not to pursue anyone ever…it’s basically one giant flashing sign that says “DON’T” or like a relationship version of “Good Idea, Bad Idea” from Animaniacs.
Granted, the main character is a total stalker, but sometimes he makes decisions that seem kind of normal – manipulative and sad- but almost normal in this tech-driven age, and so it’s important to note that everything this narrator does is in the world of NO, just in case anyone thinks this book reads like stereo instructions. Sure it seems like a good idea to read things you know someone already likes before they know how hard you poured through their social media stuff to create a false sense of friendliness, but, how about waiting until they introduce it to you? Or just asking them about it instead of making it seem all spur of the moment connection when it’s really just your inner sociopath showing through before your shared laughter leads you to guide them into that cage in the basement? That’s at least a third, mutually agreed upon date thing. At least third. That way you know they suck before you have to worry about whether or not you want to release them from your basement cage. Think of the clean up.
Oh, side note, I watched the series well after originally writing this review and I stand by my Animaniacs comparison and, also, Joe really didn’t think about the clean up. It was all right, it did put a nice amount of emphasis on Ozma of Oz, and that’s my girl, so, I appreciated seeing her book since I don’t recall that aspect of the actual book.
Thaddeus never had to steal Pammy’s phone to learn her whereabouts since they lived in the same room and he whistled at her all the time anyway.
Filed under art, Books, Review
Tomorrow, I will be at Walker Stalker in Chicago! Tomorrow.
And this time, I am also planning on showing how my book cover parodies have become far more plentiful than they used to be. In the beginning, it was just Danger Crumples transforming Christopher Pike’s 1990s YA output, as seen here –
I do think with Danger Crumples I may actually have parodied these covers into being more coherent stories. Oops.
However, now that most of these are only available as postcards and I had more plays on piggie names in mind – more pigs have gotten their own book series and three of the paintings will be on display for the first time and also possibly the last time, I tend to make new things for every show that I do because I have a lot of ideas and very inspiring piglets.
Peregrine, crime boss and queen of my herd, finally got her own book series – Prey Street. And once again she meets with her most frightening enemy – the phone. This time she let Merricat pick it up, as if that would help.
Finny got a series too! Finnybumps, it’s very specific and allows him to intimidate Salem, just as he tries to from across the room every day.
This is my favorite new book cover parody. Ozma’s 80s horror paperback. There’s always been something ominous and yet flashy about how cute she is, which could only be expressed by painting her while drinking a lot of Tab.
Walker Stalker! Tomorrow! I know I’m no Jerry, who I won’t be able to see because I’ll be at my table, and I’m clearly not King Ezekiel, who I won’t be able to mention Hellraiser: Hellworld to (um, that movie has Khary Payton, future apparent (I haven’t seen it) downer Superman Henry Cavill, and the best but somewhat -to put it lightly – misused person on Vikings, Katheryn Winnick all in it, what a strange world we live in), but I hope someone comes and sees me anyway because I have a very wide range of stickers this time.
I am once again venturing out into the public to show my artwork and potentially sell a thing or two. This time I’ll be at Walker Stalker/Heroes & Villains Fan Fest in Chicago April 19, 20, &21 – I’m on the Walker Stalker side where my insistence on printing skulls and irreparably altering the world of horror to make it more guinea piggy makes more sense.
And now, a preview of some of the new stuff I’m bringing:
I’m not bringing Finny. He’ll be too busy riding his actual Big Wheel down haunted hallways.
Oh look, it’s the whole parody series of The Finning featuring Finny, Horace, and Mortemer- ready for you to stare at forever and ever. And ever.
I did finish this painting and I’m totally bringing it as long as nothing catastrophic happens at the scanning place I just took it to… As I’m on the zombie side of the convention, I continued my Romero parodying works with Peegshow. It really is finished though.
Night of the Living Ozma. She’s got her trowel, she’s black and whiteish and ready to eat someone controversially.
Stay tuned to this same guinea pig channel for a preview of the new book parodies. Yes, this time I will have much more evidence that my booth name Guinea Pigs and Books makes logical sense!