Archive for July, 2012

Something Like a Review – How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith

“Welcome to the Terrorverse!”

Quirk Books and Seth Grahame-Smith have done it again. Another book of theirs has won my heart. In Danse Macabre, Stephen King speaks of the fine line between horror and humor…this book manipulates the line in an undeniably fun way for a fan of the genre. This book takes the reader’s hand and helps them determine a.) if they’re in a horror movie, b.) what kind of horror movie they’re in (and whether its a sequel or not), and c.) the best way to survive it. Grahame-Smith pokes fun at the beloved tropes of the genre in a way that manages to somehow still remain respectful of everything that has come before.  He tackles the how-to’s that anyone trapped in the Terrorverse will need to know, like how to kill a zombie, vampire and includes information like “what to do if there are snakes on your plane.”

This is not a new book, but one I happened to stumble across as I was looking for another of his, and had I read it first, I probably would have been sucked in to his brand of humor and storytelling a lot sooner. As it stands, it has just made me a bigger fan, hungry to see what’s coming next.

I listened to this one as an audiobook on the way to work, and I giggled all the way. I don’t think this book is going to be appreciated by those who aren’t fans of the genre, but for someone who likes to watch slasher flicks like Friday the 13th while wrapping Christmas presents (well, it does have red and green in it – it’s seasonal!) and isn’t terribly serious about the artistic and intellectual merits of the genre, this would certainly tickle them and may even be a resource. Don’t be terribly surprised if they look at you in horror after reading page 15, though.

“Someone gave it to me as a gift.” Yikes. Getting a book called How to Survive a Horror Movie as a gift. That’s like getting a young Liz Taylor How to Survive a Divorce. “Oh, I just thought it’d make a nice gift, Liz. I’m sure you’ll never need it.”

If they read further and start to conduct recon and amass an arsenal, you’d better stick with them. They are the one with the book, after all, and they might be able to help you survive the 21 hours of night in a horror movie. 😉

If you’d like a taste of what’s inside, or if you think that even a mention of this book in your world may indicate that you are, in fact, in a horror movie, there’s a YouTube channel for the webseries spawned by this book. It may keep you alive long enough for the book to show up at your door. Maybe. If you pay attention.

As an added bonus, I found a great review on Goodreads that was written in the spirit of the book and made me laugh as hard as the book. Take a look and I hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Medium: audiobook from

Other: other formats available from

Overall rating: 5 stars

Potential re-read: Yes, but not for everyone. For me, this is going to be one of those things I pick up when I need something of a reminder about why I love the spook factor in scary books and movies. After you read/watch enough, you can become immune to the chills or numb to the tactics. Sometimes, you just sit and critique it. I’m pretty sure this book will appease the inner grump when those moments happen and remind me of why I love it so much.

Dead tree worthy?: Yes, but not for everyone. For this to be worth the space on the shelf, you’ve got to have a love for horror movies, horror stories, and have a sense of humor, especially about the things you love. This is a rare combination, but a magic one. For the average reader, this would probably be a fun novelty, but not one that would inspire the removal of green or plastique from the wallet to procure it. The audiobook version is fun and light-hearted, though you miss out on the format of the text and the illustrations.


Why I Will Not Read Fifty Shades of Grey

July 11, 2012 1 comment

I could say *SPOILER* I’m a book snob, but *SPOILER* that’s not much of a surprise to anyone acquainted with my reading habits. I already approach the popular with a wary air of someone sniffing a package of chicken breasts and trying to figure out if they have a funk, or cautiously sniffing a bottle of milk before taking a long swig right from the carton. Caution is merited because I was an idiot and laid down the cash and invested HOURS of time on the Twilight series. I’m not worried so much about the money (I sent them to a friend and when she asked me how much I wanted for them/shipping, I asked her just to make a donation to an adult literacy program), but the sheer number of hours I spent scowling at the page and trying to figure out why the hell such horrible writing had scored rabid fans en masse puzzled me. I wondered if they’d gone “vegetarian” as their vamp heroes had and maybe gotten into a nest of rabid squirrels or racoons, and I wondered if TV and other popular media had so terribly brain damaged them that they couldn’t tell the difference between good writing and bad.  **DISCLAIMER: I am not saying that my writing is a paragon of any standard of virtue, however, I think I can sniff out the good from the bad when I see it. I don’t think I’m fantastic, and even if I was, I probably wouldn’t, however, I have role models to whom I aspire and I work at reaching those goals.**

When I first heard about the Fifty Shades books, it was vague mumbles on Goodreads, then a few murmurs on Facebook. Luckily (perhaps?) for me, I am in school and my reading time is pretty limited, so I didn’t immediately run out and scavenge up a copy. While I’m in class, I do the majority of my reading through audiobook during my morning and afternoon commute and what scant nibbles at other books I can manage whenever I can squeeze in a few minutes. (There is an alchemy of creating time to do just such a thing, if you’re creative, diligent and carry either a paper book or fully charged Kindle with you at all times. Barring that, a smartphone will work, as long as you’re not gambling your life on its battery…)

The premise of the story intrigued me, as it did many others. I’m pretty open minded which isn’t as bad a trait as some people (and news networks) would make it out to be, and I’m not a prude. I don’t believe sex is dirty or nasty (unless you want it to be, and only then with a consenting partner), and I don’t believe it is or should be a purely procreative act. As far as I’m concerned, let your freak flag fly proudly, but just keep your thrills to consenting adults (no kids, no animals). In return, I expect the same treatment. As my favorite character in HBO’s Queer as Folk said on the matter “Unless fucking YOU, it’s none of your business.”

(Video included for your enjoyment, but bastard YouTube is not linking to The Line correctly. Skip to 12:15 to hear it. I can say that the rest of the episode is categorically NSFW. Watch the whole thing at your own risk.)

So, with all that in mind, I’m probably somewhere in the target audience Venn diagram for the Fifty Shades series, and I’ll admit that I was tempted to read through it. I had a friend who gave it somewhat ambivalent reviews, but she’s as book nerdy as me, so I wasn’t surprised. I even saw scathing rants against it that I weighed given the credibility of the writer involved and where I’ve seen her posts previously and decided if it was something people both loved and hated, it might be worth a read. Controversy, especially when heated, can be a very good thing indeed.

I considered picking up the series to see what all the hubbub was about until I saw this…

She became obsessed with the “Twilight” series after seeing the 2008 film based on the book of the same name.

James began writing her erotica series on Early drafts of 50 Shades were written from the perspective of Bella and Edward from “Twilight.” The two later transformed into Ana and Christian.


The world became a little fuzzy at this point and I really don’t remember if I blacked out or threw up in my mouth, or it was a combination of both. Either way, it put me off the story. I wasted enough time on the original, why in the bloody hell would I invest more time in a series BASED ON a terrible original? You know the whole garbage-in theory? I’m a firm believer. You write what you read. The better you read, the better lessons you’ll absorb without even realizing it.
So yeah. From one hated uber-popular series sprouted a mutant spawn, equally popular. The first one sucked, and I’m thinking that a copy of it could only suck MORE. My time’s too valuable, and I’m not going to waste it on utter garbage like that. I like my brain candy, and I’ve ingested my fair share of mental cotton candy, but it wasn’t categorically bad. Just a little bad. It’s like the poprock vitamins…they’re good enough for you that you justify the fun. Or another way of saying it, “they’re not ALL bad…” This is something that cannot be said about the Fifty Shades, however.
So thank you to all you pioneers who read it, recognized it for what it was and warned the rest of us off of it before we stepped in it. I appreciate the hours banked.
I can say that there is one way I would lay down the money for this book, and only one way. Again, this is a NSFW video, but entirely worth the guffaws it inspired. Seriously, though, I want them to make this. Make it AND TAKE MY MONEY!!!

Independance Day!

I’m not really what most people would call conventional when it comes to a great many things, so when I say that I didn’t celebrate the Fourth like most people in the country, it won’t really surprise anyone. Instead of being outside at a barbeque, I set myself up for some real freedom at the end of the week. While I did sleep in (until a whopping 8:30), I started the day with homework to get the majority of the week’s work done. When my brain simply could not hold any more 19th century ethics discussions, I set it all aside, and pulled out something far more pleasurable…

But before I get there, I’ve been working on improving my discipline. So, I set a word count goal for myself, one just for fiction writing. I’d blow it out of the water if I included the school writing for papers. It’s a modest goal, but one I think I can manage after work, school, and slushing. I set the mark at 5k words a week and then went fishing for my old spreadsheet. As I was configuring it for this go-round with number crunching, I thought about how it didn’t work, and I decided I needed to find a new way of tackling it. I thought about how I wanted to set it up, as a series of deposits against an initial debt, and then the idea hit me. I pulled out an old-fashioned check register and entered my initial debt of 5k words.

I’ve also got a piece I’ve been working on as time allowed, and this WIP is a rule breaker for me. Normally, I don’t write to meet a publication. Normally, I find a publication for my writing. This time, I made an exception because the theme grabbed my attention by the throat – a post apocalyptic fairy tale with a Lovecraftian twist. Oh hells to the yeah.

Now, there’s a big ol’ chunk of it that I’m going to have to take out, and I’m going to have to edit the hell out of it, but I worked on it steadily today…and pulled down 6k. I could have kept going, but I decided sleep was more important, especially I planned to get up early and work as well. (I’m quite proud of myself and a little amazed that I managed to do just that. Before 8am, I’d tacked on another thousand words. Yay me!) My goal is to finish it this week and start editing next week. Fingers crossed, so I can make my deadline.

So working while everyone else is off means play time on Friday, Saturday and even Sunday. I’m very much looking forward to it, and woe be to anything that gets in my way…

Something Like a Review – Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

From moment one, I was enchanted with Jenny Lawson’s unique voice. And not just the sound of her voice, but her manner of writing. Not that she has a bad voice, mind you, because she doesn’t – and you can listen to the audiobook as proof!

I devoured this audiobook on my daily commute, giggling all the way to work most mornings. That in itself is a feat given the crazy people on the road and my general lack of complete caffeination before 9am. When I met her at a reading she did in Concord, NC, I had the opportunity to tell her that she had done the impossible – made me look forward to and ENJOY going to work. She probably thought I was one of those crazy fans, but I wasn’t crazy enough to show up with a big metal chicken, just crazy enough to NEED to have her book on my shelf, preferably with her signature.

What I enjoy most about the way Lawson writes is her sense of humor. If you haven’t checked out her blog, you should. Consider it a free preview of the antics you’ll find in this book, and if you find yourself making your own wine slushees, having amusing and imagining your own hilarious and ridiculous fights with Victor and dreaming up imaginary friends for people who lack imagination, then suck it up and go lay out the cash to buy the book. You won’t regret it.

Well, you might. As Lawson points out in the introductory disclaimer,

Did you notice how, like, half  of this introduction was a rambling parenthetical? That shit is going to happen all the time. I apologize in advance for that, and also for offending you, because you’re going to get halfway through this book and giggle at non sequiturs about Hitler and abortion and poverty, and you’ll feel superior to all the uptight, easily offended people who need to learn how to take a fucking joke, but then somewhere in here you’ll read one random thing that you’re sensitive about, and everyone else will think it’s hysterical, but you’ll think, “Oh that is way over the line.” I apologize for that one thing. Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking.

Introduction, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

What was most endearing about this book is Lawson’s honesty. From discussions about growing up poor, depression and miscarriage, she manages to find humor in the horrible, delight in the macabre (without spoiling, I’ll give a one word explanation: taxidermy) and the positive message through it all that “hey, I came out just fine and smiling. Most days. But this shit is funny, y’all.” And you discover, almost against your will, that yeah, it is. It might not make you an optimist, but it made me look a little harder for the humor in it all. If you’re not laughing, you’re crying, and laughing burns more calories. It can’t hurt to try to shed a few pounds that way, can it?

Medium: Audiobook from

Other: Multiple formats available from

Overall rating: 5 stars – the whole freaking arsenal of them.

Potential re-read?:Absolutely. Without question. Not even “potential,” but more a question of when. Everyone needs to have something they can turn to for a good laugh when things just seem bleak, and this is one of those things for me. Also Katt Williams, but for other reasons.

Dead-tree worthy?: Without question. Bonus points for an author-graph! 😉

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