Erika Swyler’s The Book of Speculation

Hello, readers!

Today is the first day of the rest of your lives. BOOM. What a way to greet the day, huh? With clichés and loud noises! A Monday has never been greeted quite so energetically. And that is probably a lie, but who are they to define the limits of our enthusiasm, right?! Right. The truth is this particular Monday will be a bit of a battle for me. So, if for any reason you’re going into battle too, just know I’m with you. We’ll do battle together and watch the world burn.

Speaking of metaphorical battles, The Book of Speculation took a whole bunch of ammo to get me to pick it up. I don’t know what happened between being excited about buying it and now, but I couldn’t even understand why it was there in the first place. And let me tell you, that was a mistake. Once I picked it up and got over the unfamiliar pace of the book (after reading familiar authors for so long), I really enjoyed it.

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The book introduces us to Simon, a librarian with dead parents and a wild child sister. One day he receives a book in the mail from a stranger and nothing is ever quite the same. Particularly after realizing the women in his family, mermaids by trade, drown young on the same day. He’s got 10 days to save his sister before the same fate that befell his mother, and countless other women before them, finds her.

I love books about the circus, about carnivals. I always feel they have a strange sort of magic woven into their pages. Maybe it’s the fact that so many things are spinning, the dim lighting and the smell of cotton candy. The promise of strange and fantastic things. Whatever it is I’m always drawn to them, it’s probably what drew me to this book if I’m honest. All these women working as mermaids, generation after generation of girls who drowned for a living, drowning seemingly without cause. The tarot cards that bind the narrative together, I can almost picture the colors and see the worn edges.

The book lets you see Simon’s present, but it also lets you travel through his family’s past. You get to see where everything began, just as it seems like everything is going to end, and they converge beautifully in a show of understanding. By the time it’s all said and done, you can see the delicately woven threads that make up the narrative shining up at you from the pages. Glistening like the water that ties all these characters together. It was unexpected, but thoroughly welcome.

Maybe this Monday, this battle, will be like almost drowning. Not being able to breathe and then, just when you feel like you might give in, you’ll find new courage and, most importantly, a new breath. We’ll see.

Until next time, readers!

Christopher Moore’s Secondhand Souls

Hello, dear readers!

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be back writing for you! It makes me happy to know you’re all out there, one of those it’s a small world we’re not alone kind of things. It’s a nice feeling, is all I’m saying. =D

23460830This week of return continues with Secondhand Souls, the sequel to A Dirty Job, which I posted about earlier this week. I don’t know what I was expecting when I started to read Secondhand Souls. It’s one of those books I bought without even thinking about it, because as I’ve said I love Christopher Moore and I think he’s brilliant and so on and so forth. So, to finally read it was a bit strange in a way. In true Moore fashion, the shit that was weird got even weirder. But lets face it, who doesn’t like getting weird?

This time around Charlie Asher, Sophie, and the entire cast of the first book are battling something else entirely. He claims to be a new, more elegant kind of Death, come to balance the world from the chaos left over from the first shit storm they all started. Except, he’s not who he claims to be and, actually, he needs to be stopped. Sophie loses her powers, Minty Fresh discovers a few things about himself, Lily finally realizes she’s special. There are ghosts and people jumping off bridges. The harpies are back, fucking shit up as per usual. Oh, and there’s a banshee!

I think my biggest issue with the book was that it was kind of anti-climatic. There’s this whole build up, I’m getting ready, everyone in the book is getting ready, and then womp womp. It was a little bit disappointing. And I don’t know if that’s because the book itself is disappointing or because I’ve come to expect so much from Mr. Moore that I’ve got too many expectation and am putting unnecessary pressures on him to perform. It might be a little bit of both, to be honest.

In any case, the book was entertaining read. Definitely worth it if you’ve read A Dirty Job. It was interesting to see how he solved the whole Charlie being dead and trapped in a small animal with an unnecessarily large dick situation. It was also nice to see how everyone was dealing with the fallout from the first book, especially Inspector Alphonse Rivera who really came into his own in this book. And, you know, they live kind of happily which is always nice.

Hope you’re happy today, readers. Until next time!

Christopher Moore’s A Dirty Job

Middle of the week. Belly button day. Look at it, your belly button. Congratulate it. Today is his day. Her day? Its day at any rate. Belly button day. What a grand celebration we’ll have.

There are few authors I love as enthusiastically as Christopher Moore. Few authors I love with as much brio and gusto. Pizzaz, even. His matter of fact approach to incredibly fantastic things like giant lizards, robot whales, and Jesus never fail to make me happy. He’s also one of the few authors whose work I’ve read almost entirely. I’m missing about one or two, but that’s it. I love this guy, seriously.

33456A Dirty Job was actually my introduction to Christopher Moore. I remember reading it the first time and feeling like I’d discovered pure magic. The book is about Charlie Asher, who loses his wife during the birth of his daughter Sophie and becomes a merchant of death in one fell swoop. A bunch of stuff happens. There’s a tall black guy in a mint colored suit. And a goth girl. And his lesbian sister. And his daughter who could possibly be Death. With a capital D.

I read it years ago and never looked back, as my relationship with this wildly clever man developed. I’ve always meant to read it again, but I hadn’t until now. Mostly because I wanted to read the sequel, Secondhand Souls (which I’ll be talking about tomorrow), and figured a refresher might not be a bad idea. And, let me tell you, it was every bit as amusing and well written as I remembered. I’d forgotten a lot of it, but that only makes it better believe it or not. It’s a weird hybrid experience, where you get the excitement of a new book and the pleasure of reuniting with characters you’re already acquainted with. I love being surprised and finding unexpected things when I read, but that feeling of returning is sweet in its own way.

One of my favorite things about this book is the concept it has of souls. Essentially, not everyone has a soul. When people with souls die, their soul moves into an object they hold dear, which in turn is picked up by a Death Merchant like Charlie. Once the object falls into the right hands, the soul is absorbed into that person. Can you imagine not having a soul? We’re so used to the concept of having one, that the thought of not having one seems completely alien.

It’s an elegant concept I think. Just imagine it though, kind of having to earn your soul, having to become worthy of it. Like they’re waiting for us somewhere, hoping for the day we’re less shitty and they can finally come home. Nice, right?

Until next time, readers!

The Hollows series Part III

Hello, readers!

I’m excited to be back so I’ve decided to post every day this week. Why not? Let’s get crazy up in here! And crazy is an apt word because I’ll be starting grad school in a little over two weeks. Let me tell you, crazy. CRAZY.

Over the past two months I’ve been rereading and posting about Kim Harrison’s the Hollows series, you can read parts one and two of that. I’m pleased to tell you guys I’ve finally finished the series! I’m actually really excited about it, in the last four books a whole bunch of unexpected stuff happened. Seriously, a whole bunch of what the hell is happening stuff went down. It was cool though, weird, but cool.

When I finally got to the end it felt infinitely satisfying. Sometimes you reach the end of something you’ve been keeping up with for a while, whether it’s a book series, tv show, graphic novel series, and you feel empty. Like there were things missing and more could’ve done and this can’t possibly be the end, can it?  And then, the worst bit off all is the fact that you have to leave with that longing for things to be fixed or added or sometimes simply explained.

This experience wasn’t like that, I can honestly say I’m fully satisfied with how things went down. There’s nothing I’d change or add to it. And that’s all you want from a series, really. I feel like it ended when it needed to and it took care of everything. For me this end has been so long in the making, just because it’s taken me an insanely to read them. So, it’s gratifying to reach the end with no regrets, no laments, just pure satisfaction.

Rachel was such a cool character to get to know, mostly because I understood her mess and her general fuck it attitude. It was never a burden to stay with her, to read about all the shit that went down in her life. I cried for her losses and felt happy when things worked out for her. I worried about her partners and felt angry when people were shitty. And let me tell you, people were super shitty. So, I’m ecstatic to find that in the end things worked out for her.

I closed the book. The thirteenth book in what had been a long, but exciting journey. I closed it, took a breath, and was happy that somewhere in a fictional world, Rachel was happy too.

Until next time, readers!

In the Break Room: The Hollows Series

Happy Monday, readers!

If you’re anything like me you’re sitting somewhere wondering why you willingly wake up before the sun is out. I don’t have a convincing argument for it yet, but I hope you do. For both our sakes!

These past few weeks I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading. Between classes, tests, and my own books it’s felt nice to be kind of in that deep reading groove. Especially since I’d been in a bit of a reading funk, which I almost subconsciously tackled by rereading an old series I love.

I picked up The Hollows series by Kim Harrison years ago, I’d go as far as saying almost a decade ago. (Way to make yourself feel old!) I immediately fell in love with Rachel, a redheaded witch with a penchant for getting herself into real trouble and a sarcastic streak a mile wide. So much paperbackey goodness!

I was browsing stuff on Amazon during my book slump, trying to find something to pull me out of it, and I came across a new addition to the series. Looking through my book logs (Yes, I’m that person who logs every book she reads and owns) I realized that I was actually a few books behind. It’s been so long since I’ve read the series that I decided to reread the whole thing before tackling the new books. It’s inadvertently gotten me excited about reading again. So much so that I’m reading a few books simultaneously, but more on those later!

Anyway, it makes sense. You’re in a reading slump and reach for a book you love, the excitement and happiness that book brings you carries you on to the next. It starts a whole new chain of reading events. Is this a thing and I just didn’t know about it? Better late than never, I suppose!

Have a good one, readers! Until next time.

February Book Haul

Hello, readers!

I’m writing this at an ungodly hour because I couldn’t sleep. Such is life I suppose! About a month ago, almost to the day, I posted a Book Haul of sorts. I figured, why not make it a real thing. Like Pinnochio. Except, you know, not actually real because what would that even look like? Anyway, here are the books for February!

I ended up ordering a bunch of books on Amazon that I’d been meaning to read, but hadn’t quite gotten around to. You know how that is, you put it on your wish list and it stays there forever. Glaring at you because you keep passing it up for a million reasons, even though you still want to read it.

Jagganath: Stories by Karin Tidbeck was like that, it’s a short story anthology that’s been on my wish list for ages, even though I was dying to read it and everyone raved about it when it came out. Same with Horrorstor: A Novel, which I’m indescribably excited to read. Also, it’s unexpectedly pretty – bonus. Ditto with Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore: A Novel by Robin Sloan and The Book of Speculation: A Novel by Erika Swyler.

Evolution Man: Or How I Ate My Father, was actually a book recommended by a book. I found out about it while reading Terry Pratchett’s A Slip of the Keyboard, which I was reading when he died. Weird experience, that was. Anywho, he made it sound so hilarious that I instantly added it to my wish list. In there I also had a few books for the challenge (which is taking forever and a day), among them The Familiar, volume 2: Into the Forest by Mark Z. Danielewski and The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden: a Novel by Jonas Jonasson.

Lastly, I have entire lists with books about gender and sex education because that’s something I enjoy reading about. They’re subjects I’ve kind of neglected for a while, so I figured I’d round things out with a few books on them. The first is Sex: Our Bodies, Our Junk by Scott Jacobson, which kept popping up in different places until it wore me down. The other is Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski. I’m always wary of books that make such big claims, especially in the sex ed department because they’re usually more self-help than they are actual science. So, I’m looking forward to finding out whether it’s as good as people say it is. Finally, a bit of a format change, I got Sex Criminals, Vol. 2: Two Worlds, One Cop by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky because who doesn’t want to read a graphic novel about people who stop time when they orgasm?!

That’s it for now, readers! Let me know which books you’ve been reading or have been meaning to read!

Until next time!

 

#24in48: Final Thoughts

Greetings, readers!

It’s the Monday after the #24in48 Readathon! My plan was to post something yesterday marking the end of the marathon and the 24 hours of reading. Unfortunately, my best friend and I burned out at around hour 19-20. The break between the first day and the second sucked out all our energy. Having said this, I don’t regret participating, even for a second! It was a fun way to get some solid reading done.

I read Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel José Older, which is the sequel to his Half-Resurrection Blues. It was light, fun reading that took me longer to read than I expected it too. Because I read so much, I tend to think I read faster than I do. I’m always kind of surprised when I remember that I actually read pretty slowly!

I also read Palacio by Sergio Gutiérrez Negrón, a Puerto Rican author who happens to be my best friend’s brother. We’ve been friends for about four years and the book had already been published by the time we met. Every time it came up that I still hadn’t read it there’d be a whole “shame on you” moment. Because he’s her brother sure, but also because he’s an excellent writer. And, really, shame on me for having waited so long! It was a good book with interesting imagery and unexpected metaphors.

My third book for the marathon was actually a play, August: Osage County by Tracy Letts. I didn’t know it was a play when I picked it up, so that was a bit of a surprise. I hadn’t read a play in so long that for a few minutes I wasn’t even sure how to go about it. Things clicked as I kept reading and it turned out to be a really gratifying experience! This is actually my pick for Omaha, so I’ll be writing a more in depth post about it later.

Part of the reason I burned out was that after the play, I wasn’t quite sure what to read. I tried a few books, but I couldn’t get into any of them and it drained my reading energy even more. After an extended break though, I picked up Sergio’s second novel Dicen que los dormidos about a guy who gets shot multiple times “by accident” which lands him in a coma and the fallout of it all. It’s an exploration of violence in Puerto Rico. I’m about halfway through and enjoying myself. I’ll probably finish it today, actually!

There are things I’d do differently if I were to participate again. I chose to read many small books, rather than sticking with one large book for the duration. The truth is, having to settle into a new story every few hours was distracting and contributed to my burning out. Had I stuck to one large book, I think the consistent plot line would’ve had a better chance of keeping me on until then end. If, for some reason, short books is all I have to read then meticulously curating the list will be a must.

Also, I think I’d rather try my hand at reading continuously for a full 24 hours, rather than breaking it up into two days. I thought I’d appreciate the chance to sleep and feel relaxed, but that actually worked against me. I think the energy needed to keep reading from midnight to midnight would keep me more excited and centered on the challenge.

It was still a good experience, though. My best friend and I loaded up on snacks, shared things that were happening in our books that surprised, scared, or grossed us out. Plus, I’m honestly really happy with the reading I got done. I think had I not burned out I would’ve finished Sergio’s novel and probably had time for a fifth book! It almost makes me want to set aside a day every month to read for 24 hours straight! I just might do that…*Cue suspense music*

Stay tuned because on Wednesday we return to Texas for a look at my newest pick! Until next time, readers.