Clashing Perspectives – The Beach by Alex Garland

Why paradise is impossible to maintain.

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You ever look back at something you read 15 or 20 years ago and have that “A-Ha” moment.

Not the ridiculously good band from the eighties A-Ha (see above), but the mind-altering epiphanic moment when you realize that a plot point that was salient to the whole freaking novel zoomed right the hell over your head. Yup, I had one of those.

I read this book when I was right out of high school and entirely in love with the idea of a wild wonderland. A paradise filled with gorgeous people and no responsibility. I wanted to see, do, and experience that life. I still do now. However, those ideas are now tempered with age, trust,  and hopefully, some integrity.  I think in the end, the soundtrack sealed it for me. Does anyone still like the group VAST? They are one of my favorites still to this day because of that movie. From that moment on I set out to read the book “It will change my life,” I thought. Maybe I could eternalize a little of this wild abandon that I so desperately yearned for.

The problem was that when I read the novel, I was left unsettled and feeling dirty. It felt like someone had taken my brain and used it to scour pans for an afternoon. The book was like a beautiful Honey Crisp apple sitting on a shelf, but when you cut into it,

“Trust me, it’s paradise. This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is the generation that travels the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite & never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience— And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”
― Alex Garland, The Beach

the apple had a rotten core filled with maggots. It had not lived up to my fantasies. I felt cheated and weak.  What was actually weak, was my perspective and understanding of life beyond my hometown at the time.  “The Beach” has nothing to do with paradise, but the outlook on what actually constitutes a paradise, the darkness in people, and the lengths of which one would go to protect it.  It is a smart book, and subtle in its narration.  Its overall gravitas was not something I could appreciate at the time, but it is something that I can look back on now and understand.

After discovering a seemingly Edenic paradise on an island in a Thai national park, Richard soon finds that since civilized behavior tends to dissolve without external restraints, the utopia is hard to maintain.

Plot summary – goodreads.com

One of the key things that garland does it keep the undercurrents flowing within the language of the everyday life of the travelers. He describes the day to day tasks that they need to accomplish; Fishing, farming, and partying. While subtly hinting at the darker parts of the characters psyches. Reminds me of a much less ham-fisted and more eloquent “lord of the Flies,” but for a much older audience.  In the end, the characters are scarred both mentally and physically.

“The first I heard of the beach was in Bangkok, on the Ko Sanh Road.” ― Alex Garland, The Beach

If you are looking for a book that tears you up inside a bit, look no further. It is worth the second read, especially if you have some life experiences behind you.

Review of Justice Calling (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress #1)

Review of Justice Calling of the Twenty Sided Sorcery series. Written by Anne Billet

 

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Image Courtesy of Goodreads.com

Bellet, Annie. Justice Calling. CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014.

 

Content advisory: scattered F-bombs, some violence, and innuendo. (if you are a long time reader of this blog, you should be used to that.)

“Justice Calling,”  is an absolute treat for lovers of Urban Fantasy with strong female characters. A la Mercy Thompson, Kitty Norville, and my favorite Rachel Morgan. Holla at “The Hallows!”  It is an exciting, albeit too short romp through a new world created by Anne Billet. The protagonist is fun, saucy, and not at all annoying. Something that I have missed in the last few Urban Fantasy novels I have read as of late

 

The summary is as follows:

Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress.

Jade Crow lives a quiet life running her comic book and game store in Wylde, Idaho. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer who wants to eat her heart and take her powers, quiet suits her just fine. Surrounded by friends who are even less human than she is, Jade figures she’s finally safe.

As long as she doesn’t use her magic.

When dark powers threaten her friends’ lives, a sexy shape-shifter enforcer shows up. He’s the shifter world’s judge, jury, and executioner rolled into one, and he thinks Jade is to blame. To clear her name, save her friends, and stop the villain, she’ll have to use her wits… and her sorceress powers.

Except Jade knows that as soon as she does, a far deadlier nemesis awaits.

Justice Calling is the first book in The Twenty-Sided Sorceress urban fantasy series. Readers who enjoyed The Dresden Files or The Iron Druid Chronicles will likely enjoy this series.

Jade Crow, Sorcerous, shop owner, and gamer finds herself in a pickle of a situation. Does she stay or does she run? Does she out herself, and possibly bring ruin upon her future? Can she do all that she needs to do, and not use magic? I think if you are a fan of the Mercy Thompson Series or the world of Kate Daniels this might be a good series for you. Although definitely not as well developed as those worlds, is has the bones of a great series. Good plot points, fun characters, and I have to admit I absolutely love the gamer bent. Me being a gigantic geek myself, I can relate to her quite a bit. I hope that in her later books the author can flesh out the characters a lot more and give us more to read but, great start! Also, Jade has a very cool superpower. She knows every language. That is a superpower for a total geek. I love it!

Things that I don’t dig. Why is it that every Urban Fantasy with a female character needs to have some sort of love angle? No really. C’mon. Not all ladies need to have a love interest. Nor do those ladies need to be saved by the said love interest. Although, props to Anne Billet for letting this lady do the saving. Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoy a good romance now and again, but this particular possible love interest seemed a bit shoehorned. Yes, he is hot, yes he has rippling muscles, yes he turns into a (sexy?) white tiger? Blah blah blah. I think it would have been much more of a compelling character if he was a just a plain normal looking guy. A guy with a particular skill set that led him to the job he is now in (I don’t want to give away to much).  He doesn’t need to speak like a combination of Dolph Lundgren and Daniel Craig to be compelling. At least that’s how I picture him. It makes him much more relatable. How many guys like Daniel Craig have you met in your life? Also, to some extent, there isn’t much of a story. This is more like an introduction to the characters. Which I really like and a very quick problem that they need to overcome. That is fine for me for a start of a series.

Do yourself a favor, read the novella. It is good light fun. Not a barn burner or anything. I don’t think anyone will be getting a Jade Crow tattoos like Twilight and Dresden. But its fun and saucy and thankfully not sugar-coated crap. Read up.

 

 

 

Review of Zombies Hate Stuff by Greg Stones

 

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Image courtesy of goodreads.com

Who doesn’t like a good zombie yarn?

 

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Zombies hate Hippies. http://www.gregstones.com

 

Although I don’t fall in with the shambling masses, I have read World War Z ten times. Zombies can be scary or an interesting sociological construct like how they were written about in World War Z. But this fell seriously flat. I am not sure why this is a book? It has eighty or so words, and although the pictures are funny or ironic, once you “read” through the book the first time the reader is not coming back for seconds. There is no need to buy it. I can see this being an ongoing webcomic, single serving chuckles. But that’s it. Hate to say it, but don’t waste your time.

 

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Yup. A whole lot of this. http://www.goodreads.com

 

 

Review of Gravel, Volume 1: Bloody Liars (Gravel, #7)

I have read a lot of Ellis over the years. A whole lot. The guy is prolific as hell and he has his fingers in a whole lot of pies. For me next to Neil Gaiman, 6498172he is my favorite graphic novelist and Transmetropolitan is absolute genius. Transmetropolitan is a Hunter S. Thompson fever dream.
This makes me very sad to say but this was just eh for me.  Ellis’s writing is always good, and graphically this is well done. Which is loads ahead of most writers, but the story was flat. I felt absolutely nothing for the protagonist. It was as if GI Joe became a magician and killed lots of people in creative ways. Even if Gravel is a badass, as a person or human or whatever he is, he will have downtime moments. He will have moments of humanity. If he sees a kitten the appropriate response to the said kitten is not to shoot it. This is kinda the vibe I got from the story. I wanted to like gravel but he lacked the hook that made me empathize or understand him at all. Plus, combat magician is kind of a thing in urban fantasy right now and sorry to say they did it better. Gravel reminds me of Dresden and John Constantine but without Dresden’s heart or Constantine’s swagger.
It’s still a decent read. I don’t think Ellis can put out anything terrible. He is like pizza, even when it’s sorta bad it’s still damn good. I just don’t think it’s one of his best. I’ll continue with the series if I come across them in the library but I think that is as far as it goes for me. Excuse me while I go hug my Dresden novels.

ARC – A Literary Tea Party by Alison Walsh

36227307I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I absolutely love the ideas in this book. I am a book lover, but also a lover of the ideas and scenes in books. Cooking can be a great storytelling tactic. Everyone has to eat, and many memories can be shared over tea or scones, or scotch eggs for example. Recipes whose sole purpose is to transport you back to a specific scene in a novel that you found evocative is such a fantastic idea. Many of the recipes are from well-loved children’s’ books. This opens up such a wonderful opportunity to share something special with your child and make a memory. The recipes are easy to follow, and the pictures are lovely and well framed. The writing is concise and easy to understand. I thoroughly enjoyed the ideas and writing in this book and look forward to testing out some of these recipes with my own daughter when she is older. For now, I will have to make some Winnie the Pooh Hundred Acre Tea with her and watch the movies.

ARC – Burn Bright (Alpha & Omega #5) by Patricia Briggs

I received this as an advanced copy from Netgalley.com for an honest review.

 

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Image courtesy of goodreads

When I first started reading this novel I felt pretty strongly that the story could have stood a trim and be better served as a novella. The plot felt too small and specific to carry an entire novel. This may be because I haven’t read books 2, 3, and 4 of the series and I am not as familiar with the characters as some. However, Patricia Briggs is, in general, a fantastic writer. I am a rabid fan of the Mercy books and pretty much anything she writes in that world. I didn’t think it would be a problem coming into the novel a little out of sequence, and it wasn’t. This is how I felt for the first 100 pages or so. It slogged a bit and the characters and setup just didn’t gel. Why is this plot important? Why do I care? What is the mystery that is trying to be solved? None of these questions came to much of a head till about 250 pages into the story. It is worth the wait. The climax of the story is absolutely worth the wait. But, I just don’t think this is one of her best books. It is heads above most writers out there, but all in all, it felt to slow for her normal pacing.

 

Review of Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh

Allie Brosh, I love you so much.

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Image courtesy of goodreads

If I could have a spirit animal I think I would want it to be Simple Dog. He would just lay there and look confused by things but he would be so very happy.

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My spirit animal is on the right.

This book which made me laugh so many times I lost count. I either full on guffawed or chuckled; each “chapter” is a perfect bon mot on something that will make you feel all the feelings. Most of the scenarios I have felt or gone through myself. I too have a psychotic dog that wants to end the existence of all other dogs by doing a scream yodle thing.  So, this book is a weirdly relatable collection of great stories and I am not sure how comfortable I am with that. It all made me realize that I am in fact this weird.

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The dinosaur incident. Her poor mother.

As for the actual writing, her wit is honest and open even when dealing with tough subjects such as depression. It doesn’t come off as simplistic, but relatable and real. It really was such a pleasure to read. I would recommend this book to anyone. You can check out her website here at Hyperbole and a Half.