Tuesday, January 24, 2017

      Chaotic Oddities - John Ledger 5/5 stars

      If you're easily offended you should stop reading this review now. Find something else to read because there isn't anything in this book for you to enjoy. If you have an open mind and enjoy a collection of short stories that are both bizarro, and horror, then you're going to be fine. After reading Oddities I can't help but wonder if Ledger has escaped from a mental institution, or should be locked up in one. This is a writer that clearly has a couple of screws loose, and whatever fuels his imagination should be stopped immediately. Actually, on second thought they should be allowed to roam free so we get more collections like this.

     I don't like picking apart short story collections because it takes too much time to review each individual piece. As a writer, Ledger knows how to get under your skin. It's almost as if he has ADD or something because there are horror stories as well as whacked out bizarro pieces that ooze sex, and violence. He has a unique style that pulls you into each story, and you want to look away, but you can't, You have to see what he comes up with next, will he be able to top the last story? I like writers that are able to successfully write in any genre and John can do that. It's a weird talent, but it works here. The stories fit well together which is important in a collection like this. You want each story to fit together, and as a reader you want something that is going to hold your attention throughout the entire collection. There's no filler here and that's important. A lot of collections just slap a bunch of stories together to build up word a word or page count, and they begin to slowly fall apart. Chaotic Oddities starts, and ends strong.

      When people tell you that bizarro is dead, just hand them this book. Forget about being politically correct for just a second and enjoy a book that is well written and just insane. It's a book that doesn't want to be taken seriously. You have clowns, porn, strip clubs, and a variety of other topics that many will no doubt find offensive, but so what? Not everyone is going to like this book, and that's okay because there others that will. If you like weird fiction and horror this is a must read collection. Ledger is a writer that should be noticed, and read often. Chaotic Oddities is a collection that compiles pieces he wrote for various anthologies so it makes sense that there would be so many different genres that he explores. I couldn't stop reading it and can't believe I haven't read his other collection of shorts, but I will. So, now you should just find a copy of Oddities and read it for yourself. You'll thank me once you've finished.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Don't You Cry - Mary Kubica 5/5

     After reading The Good Girl I became a fan of Kubica. She knows how to tell a tale and packs enough detail suspense to keep your eyeballs glued to the page. Take Don't You Cry which is her second novel I believe, and just from the description alone you get a sense of what to expect. It seems simple enough right? One woman disappears in Chicago, and another appears, but there's something else going on, something that seems easy enough to figure out. Looks can be deceiving, not everything is what it appears to be. What makes the book so unique is that the story is told from two viewpoints. You have Quinn who wakes up to find her roommate suddenly missing, and then you have Alex a guy who sees a woman at a dinner and develops a crush on her. From these vantage points, you see the story from both sides. It's a style that James Patterson has perfected and Kubica has borrowed, and developed her own twist to the formula. Instead of keeping the action moving, it broadens the story so that you can draw your own conclusions, as to where everything is going to lead.

      Quinn and Alex are interesting characters in that they have their own issues that draw them to both Pearl and Esther. The mysterious Pearl just shows up one day and it seems as if the mystery is solved, Pearl is in fact Esther and Quinn is somehow this horrible roommate or something. There are even clues that begin to appear that show that Quinn is right. I loved how Kubica slowly unravels the tension, and then just when you think you have everything figured out, she changes everything. This is a writer that you can't trust because you never know where she's heading. I like that she doesn't play it safe, and truly takes her readers on a ride. When you see her name on a book cover you know that the book is going to be good, and you're going to lose some sleep as you try and finish it just so you can see how it ends.

      I like books that demand your attention and keep you guessing. This is one that takes popular fiction and makes it fun, and unpredictable. The story here, is not that simple, it allows you to think you have everything figured out, but then you realize you're wrong and you stare at the pages open mouthed wondering how you missed it. This is one book that I have to add as a favorite. I loved the plot twists, and the way she sets up these characters so that they're interesting and more than just a way to move the plot forward. Quinn and Alex are connected in a way that makes the story engrossing. Are Esther and Pearl the same woman, and what's the deal with that abandoned house? A solid five star read that truly restores my faith in popular fiction. I found a writer that doesn't go for an easy read, or treats her readers like they need a simple straight forward plot to keep them entertained. Don't You Cry is an amazing piece of fiction that everyone needs to check out.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

 Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher  5/5

     Celebrity biographies almost always follow the same pattern, and then you read Wishful Drinking and the rules are thrown out the window. Carrie covers a lot of ground in such a short book, but through it all is a sense of humor,, and honesty over how her life has gone. The book is downright funny and Carrie is able to poke fun at herself which you hardly ever see in a book like this. It's a book you read and can't help but laugh. When you think about a celebrity you have all of these images in your head, but Carrie isn't what you expect when you think about what it's really like. It's not easy being bi-polar, and a drug addict, and Carrie is funny and yes, even a bit manic.

      There are a lot of surreal moments here, and they're all true. The drug addiction, the dead gay guy in her bed, and yes, even an ex-husband that she turned gay. If you're going to idolize a celebrity this is one you would want to idolize, or at least use as a cautionary tale. The fact that she tells her story in such a way is what makes Wishful Drinking so damn good. You almost feel as if the book was therapy in a way because it's so insane. It couldn't really happen could it? This isn't your typical bio, and I wish that more people approached these in such an honest, funny, and engaging way. You're taken for a ride that will no doubt make you laugh out loud, and that rarely happens in the world of celebrity bios. Most are bleak and depressing, but this one is a light that we didn't even know we needed or wanted to see.


Monday, January 9, 2017

 Postcards From The Edge - Carrie Fisher 2/5

      You ever see reviews for a book and then decide to read it just to see what all the fuss is about? That was my experience with Postcards From The Edge. I vaguely remember hearing about it, but I was fourteen and wasn't really into books about drug addicts and recovery, or the experiences after said person tries to live a normal life. I've never even seen the movie. I finally tracked the book down after Carrie passed and was ready to be blown away by her literary debut, but was left feeling guilty that I didn't enjoy the book, or even find it as good as all the critics said it was. Then as I prepared to write this review I shoved aside the guilt because not everyone is going to feel the same way about everything. It's just a sad part of life.

     I'm glad I borrowed this one from the library and not bought it like I planned. I found Post Cards rather boring, and oddly disjointed. There's parts of the book that seem to make zero sense and you're left trying to figure out why this is even part of the story. The main problem was that Suzanne really isn't  all that likeable. When I read a book I want to connect with a character, or at the very least have a reason for reading, but here, there's nothing. At times it's quite amusing and then my mind began to wander and I forgot half of what I read. The best parts for me were in the drug clinic. There was a linear pattern to the story and it made sense. After that it just fell apart and I couldn't even finish it. I understand what Fisher was trying to say, or at least convey, but I just lost interest and threw in the towel.

     While most of the reviews reflect the passing of Fisher, this one is about my experience with the book, and how I had hoped that it would live up to the hype. It didn't and I don't feel bad about not liking it. I wanted too, but after almost nearing the end I had to quit. I couldn't take anymore. While most books like this try and keep a serious tone throughout, Fisher takes a different route and we see just how difficult life can be when your life spirals out of control and you're trying to find some sort of balance. For Carrie's debut there's not much balance here, just a story that some people adore, but me? I just didn't like it all that much.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

The Dude has issues

   The Day I Stop Dreaming About Some Porn Star from the 90s named Sunny Jeff O'Brien 5/5 Stars

     I can't really talk a lot of shit about this book, I mean I could, but it would be pretty mean because this is a free ezine. For fans it's like a stop gap between releases so you kind of get something to tide you over, or if you keep asking him for a new book this should keep you quiet so he can play with his dogs, and smoke cigars. In all seriousness I have nothing to complain about here. As a fan, I got some really cool stories that once again prove why Jeff has such a strong under ground following. Each of these stories are hilarious and remind us why we like him so much. The fact that they were inspired by porn makes them that much cooler because no one admits that they like porn. The only thing that I didn't care for was the Morrissey essay because no one actually gives a shit about the guy, or The Smiths. I'm lying about not liking it, I did, but I had to give Jeff some shit about his love for such a shitty band.

     If you have never heard of O'Brien and want to see what all the fuss is about this is a nice intro into his fiction. You get to read a book for free and if you like it, you can buy more. If you buy more books, he gains new fans which is really all of us writers want to do. We would like to make money, but it's not a realistic dream or goal. The bad news is that for those who don't like Jeff, nothing's changed. He's still writing the same stuff that could be classified as bizarro, or as I like to call it B-rate fiction. It's the kind of stuff that makes you chuckle for reasons you can only describe. Everyone reacts and laughs in different spots. Just ask the man for a copy and you too will find out just how funny the guy is. If you don't like him, well I guess it sucks to be you.