Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dumpster Diving, Not A Fan

There's no problem with dumpster diving if you find a shiny CD and clean it up. There IS a problem with dumpster diving if you find a moldy couch that lots of people have clearly loved and just leave it in the condition it's in.
Nicole at WORD for Teens
No, I'm not attempting an alternative lifestyle.  I'm not even talking about myself.  I'm talking about publishers and Nicole's quote there sums it up wonderfully.  I may get some shit for this but quite frankly I just don't care.  I'm tired of reading more shit than not and publishers dumpster diving plays into this.  If I see one more headline of this person or another getting culled from free access serial posting sites (or fucking fanfiction, seriously???) I'm going to give up reading (probably not but I will, at minimum, throw my hands up in the air in frustration and utter expletives not under my breath).  I'm not going to name names because this isn't really about the author.  Not really.  It's about dollar signs in publisher eyes and the erosion of quality as a result.

First and foremost I'm not talking about self-published authors; the people that actually publish to the likes of Amazon or Lulu and then go off and sell their product.  While I am not a fan of self-published works my first reaction to seeing one of these guys get culled is 'good for you' instead of 'are you fucking kidding me? not again.'  Why?  What's the difference, you ask?

The difference is actually selling a product and getting eleventy billion people to leave comments like 'omg i luuuuuuuuuuurve this plz post moar soon' on your work.  The difference is a proven sales record versus people that like free shit online who may not translate to actual sales.  That's why.  Being able to sell a half million copies of your book all on your own (through word of mouth, a hired publicist, etc.) is an astronomical feat and not something to be taken lightly.  Quality of the written work aside this person actually has a bonafide, PAYING fanbase behind them.  People have already proven they want to spend money on this person.  Getting a million likes isn't asking very much of anyone except for clicking a button.  While it may have been heinously time consuming for the person shilling you're merely asking for votes for prom king or queen.  Hell, Tila Tequila did it.  Why don't we give her a book deal too?  She's super popular on the internets.  Or was.

When a publisher snatches up some super popular story from Fiction Press or WattPad or LiveJournal or wherever the hell they're getting these novels from it's such a shameless grab for money that it actually puts me off reading the book now.  All they see is a fanbase: 10 million fans already built in, less money spent on marketing, as close to a guarantee as a publisher can get when releasing a book by someone otherwise unknown.  Ejecting one more person from the slush pile because sorry this was already picked up from a free site and the agent won't be able to sell it now although it's really good.  Quality?  Who the FUCK cares about that?  People are already going to buy it by default no matter what it looks like so bind it up and release it.  Let's go.

And fanfiction?  Seriously?  The very function of fanfiction is that it's not publishable because it would be a massive copyright violation because, you know, you're using characters you didn't create writing in a world you didn't build and using a plot that's probably more contrived than a scarf on a hipster in July in Arizona.  Now apparently it's publishable.  As someone that's been reading fanfiction for years now I can tell you that about 95% of the fanfiction out there is total dog shit.  The most popular stuff?  Suethor fic that panders to reader wants.  I've seen the comments.  I've attempted to read some of the stories.  My eyes have bled.  This is what the pubs are pulling from?  The slush pile wasn't enough?

This isn't about the right way and the wrong way to do something.  If a writer gets published, hooray!  I personally prefer the traditional route mainly because I suck at selling myself (a requirement for self-publishing) and I want the satisfaction of an objective third party looking at my work and going 'we can sell this' and pulling me from the mire.  Most writers I know want that feeling.  We don't want to circumvent it and we're okay with that.  Are we bitter because these people are throwing up whatever online and getting attention for it?  I'm sure a lot of people would say yes but I can assure you we're not.  I'm not.  Does it make me die on the inside that publishing is basically turning into an interweb popularity contest?  Yes, but I still have faith in the gatekeepers and the reading public that will eventually tire of the shit being released.

That's not to say all culled material is shit or all shit comes from culled material (I've read quite a bit of shit that never touched online serialization).  I'm just dandy with guilty pleasure reading but does all of it really need to be published?  Can't it just stay in the bog (of eternal stench) it's currently dwelling in and let another author with extraordinary talent get that slot even though they don't have a billion fans from the beginning?

This is about quality over quantity.  People are saying shit like this is the fault of book bloggers; our inability to fully contemplate literary criticism is what's destroying literature.  Frankly those suede-elbow-wearing, puckered asshole types can just shut right the fuck up.  Book bloggers alone, and citizen reviews, are not to blame for the deterioration of literary society, I assure you.  There are more than enough people out there putting more than fan praise into their thoughts on a book.  While publishers have a tendency of listening to what readers want and hopping on waves in the hopes of riding tails we're not dictating terms to them.  We're not saying you need to publish more of this or we'll stop reading.  Nyah.  Publishers are actively seeking out lower quality material for release in the hopes that it's what the readers want.  Sure some will want it but I can guarantee many are getting fed up with the low quality of what they're reading.  I've been seeing far too many reading funks going on for it to just be coincidence.  Trying to figure out whether the chicken or the egg came first isn't going to help anyone.  Editors can easily say you know what, we're good with that.  We need to move on to something else.  And some are but more are still clinging to waves.  That's the fault of book bloggers?  We crave copycats or are they thrust upon us in the hopes that we'll like it just as much as the more popular one that came out?  Let's grow a brain about this.  Not everyone wants to be surrounded by piles of total trash.

This is about me not having to wade through a pile of shit in order to find a diamond to read.  I don't want my local bookstore to turn into the live action version of or FictionPress or WattPad where it's mostly crap and I'll have to be searching for days in order to find something good.  Yes, people like mindless shit and most readers don't really care about quality (which chagrins me to no end) but it manifests differently than just coming right out and saying it if it's getting to be too much: calling out copycat covers, copycat plots, pointing out overused tropes and cliches, characters blending together, noticing crappy editing in final copies (I've been seeing a lot of this lately), people not loving what they're reading more often than not.  They may not come out and say the quality isn't up to par but they're saying it in other, more passive, ways.

The more dumpster diving that occurs I think the lower the quality will dip.  If publishers think we only want fluff to read and to hell with editing that's what we'll get.  I think self-publishing started this trend but at least there it was merited with accounting reports to support it.  Now we have a slew of catastrophically misspelled fan comments as a means of justifying acquiring an online serial to turn around and sell.  And hell, they loved it unedited and all so why change it?  Just repackage it, run it through spell check really quick and we're good.  

No.  Times infinity plus one.  No.

The publishing world needs gatekeepers to preserve the quality of literature because obviously leaving it up to the public just runs it right into the ground.  Not every book needs to be Moby Dick (or insert dense classic here) but agents and editors edit and like Nicole said to me while sometimes things were missed (was that series called Dusk?  That time right when the sun's setting . . .) more often than not quality was maintained.  Not all books are for all people but there used to be a higher integrity of books out there.  Now not so much, whether that's because publishers are pandering to the public because that's what the collective we actually want, they THINK it's what we want or they just don't care and they'll publish it to ride a wave/because it already has a huge fanbase/because it cashes in on an already popular trope (PNR with vampires, for instance).  Quality is already deteriorating and culling from the online sludge and just throwing it into a bound version with the pub's logo on the spine is not the way to correct that.

Maybe cutting off that festering spot on that otherwise "good" tomato may save you some money in the short term but when you end up in the hospital with food poisoning that investment ultimately wasn't the wisest one to make.  Next time you might want to just go buy some fresh tomatoes at the store.  A littler pricier, yes, but at least you know they're GOOD.

Added to the Pile + 124

Two more books wending their way into my pile this week.

From Tor -

IRONSKIN by Tina Connolly
Jane Eliot wears an iron mask.

It’s the only way to contain the fey curse that scars her cheek. The Great War is five years gone, but its scattered victims remain—the ironskin.

When a carefully worded listing appears for a governess to assist with a "delicate situation"—a child born during the Great War—Jane is certain the child is fey-cursed, and that she can help.

Teaching the unruly Dorie to suppress her curse is hard enough; she certainly didn’t expect to fall for the girl’s father, the enigmatic artist Edward Rochart. But her blossoming crush is stifled by her own scars, and by his parade of women. Ugly women, who enter his closed studio...and come out as beautiful as the fey.

Jane knows Rochart cannot love her, just as she knows that she must wear iron for the rest of her life. But what if neither of these things is true? Step by step Jane unlocks the secrets of her new life—and discovers just how far she will go to become whole again.  (
I've seen this one in my peripheral for a little while now.  Just the title and cover have drawn me in a bit.  I'm glad that Tor sent it on over.  It'll definitely be going into my pile despite the fact that I've never read Jane Eyre (it's a retelling).  The blurb is enough for me.

And from Macmillan -

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.

An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? This is a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.  (
How does that NOT sound interesting?  There's so much going on here but the prospect that they're all interconnected keeps tugging on me.  How, dammit?  HOW?

Things I've Learned from Books + 167

Posted weekly, you get, for absolutely free, a bit of knowledge learned from the books I read. I just couldn't keep this wealth of information to myself. That would be cruel. It will keep your gray matter happy. And happy gray matter keeps it from de-evolving. De-evolving is bad. You don't want to be sludge, do you? Or a fish?


The brains of writers are very scary places indeed.  For all involved.  When one becomes afraid of their own head it has a tendency of causing an issue or two.

80s Awesomeness! ~ 174

80s Awesomeness! is an original concoction of my insanity need to live in the 80s. The flashback started here and posts weekly on Saturdays, highlighting the best of 80s fashion, music, movies and whatever else the coked up, yuppie Rubik's Cube decade can throw at you.

Today is catch-up day!  Hooray!

Look familiar?  The original incarnation of The Simpsons, making their first appearance on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1989.  They've, um, reformed since then, streamlining the look just a smidge.  Quite frankly they look like something out of a nightmare here.  But yes, you can thank the 80s for the cartoon powerhouse that is The Simpsons.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Freaky Friday :|: 174

Freaky Friday is a weekly post highlighting YA horror published between 1980 and 1999, originally inspired by Sharon's (Loves Books and Cats) Flashback Friday.

Title: Zodiac Chillers - In Leo's Lair
Author: Carol Ellis
Published: September 25, 1995
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 164
After breaking up with Eric, Nina is alarmed when Eric and her new boyfriend, both determined Leos, become jealous of each other and dangerously possessive of Nina, and Nina's soulmate, Jess, must come to her rescue.  (
A bit late, I know.  I was busy falling asleep to the movie Clue last night.  Anyway, I'm wondering how all of this zodiac stuff comes into line other than a contrived mention of the characters' astrological signs.  The dreaded 's' word gets me a bit twitchy but the whole zodiac thing has me intrigued.  Plus I want my free astro-pendant.  Think it's still available?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Two More Reading Challenges COMPLETED!

The Off the Shelf and Titanic 100th Anniversary Reading Challenges are both completed!  Woohoo!  How accomplished do I feel right now?  The only challenge I have left is my Goodreads goal that I set for myself: 100 books this year.  I'm eleven away from my mark.  I think I can manage that between now and the end of the year.

This was the year of reading challenges for me.  I actually completed them.  I most likely won't be competing in any next year because I'm simply just going to read the books I already have without having to worry about quotas so I'm happy to be ending this year on a good note.  Go me!

Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn

Published April 15, 2009.

Author website.

Four sisters and their mother make their way from a spiritualist town in New York to London, becoming acquainted with journalist W. T. Stead, scientist Nikola Tesla, and industrialist John Jacob Astor. When they all find themselves on the Titanic, one of Tesla's inventions dooms them...and one could save them.  (

For the first half of DISTANT WAVES I was wondering what the hell this book had to do with the Titanic.  It was mentioned once or twice in off-hand remarks, and not by name, and a couple of the people that were on board made appearances within the story but other than that it was a story that centered around Spiritualism, a mother defrauding people with her mystic "skills" and her daughters' lives as a result of this woman's charade.  The story in and of itself wasn't bad.  I actually found it pretty interesting and I liked Jane but don't give me 'A Novel of the Titanic' and not have the ship make an appearance until halfway through the book.  That's going to make me cranky.  I don't like to be cranky when I read.

Once the Titanic did show up it played its role like it does in any other story about it; you're reading the melodrama occurring on it all the while just holding your breath to see how the main event is going to destroy everything nice that's seemingly going on.  I didn't like how the sisters got onto the boat.  It was just far too contrived for my tastes and I really don't think the people letting on passengers would have let stowaways slip by.  Considering the ship and all the hype it should have been something the White Star Line was prepared for.

The ending pretty much murdered what was otherwise and interesting story.  I'm okay with authors taking liberties with history but to take major events and alter their causes for the sake of the story is really bothersome.  To the point where I was audibly going 'what???"

All sense of immediacy was gone as the iceberg was approaching.  No one seemed to be all that worried about it from those watching it head right towards the ship.  Then Tesla tests his magical mystery machine and supposedly breaks the ship.  It didn't REALLY hit the iceberg.  Excuse me?  And as the ship sank?  Poof, gone.  The major cataclysmic event was literally blinked out of the plot.  Gone.  Ground zero happens, people start running around a little confused, poof Jane is being rescued by the Carpathia.  I'm not even talking about a sentence to say it sank.  An element happened that actually eliminated the sinking from the story and skipped right to the rescue.  Infuriated would be a good word to describe me.  How do you have 'a novel of the Titanic' and just skip the sinking?

The individual elements of DISTANT WAVES were good; I liked the Spiritualism aspect, how historical people were factored into the plot, all of the characters were likable on some level and it even got a hint steampunky.  But I think the Titanic itself ruins this story of the Titanic for me simply because it was so bastardized.  The author actually altered history to serve her plot.  No.  Me no likey.  If that kind of thing doesn't bother you then you might just like DISTANT WAVES.  Like I said it's a pretty good story.  But the Titanic is killer.  No pun intended.  Too much was changed in a story that was only supposed to be historical fiction, not alt history or the like.  It's unfortunate but that's the way it is, I guess.  Titanic in one book and the rest of the plot in another, yes.  Both would have been good.  But they just didn't mix well, like a recipe whose ingredients didn't quite mesh.

Ban Factor: Low - An historical fiction centered around the Titanic.  One can hardly pick a more prudish time in our history.  The Spiritualism might offend but that's assuming they know what the word means.  One mustn't overestimate the banners.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not In My School (18)

Not In My School is a weekly feature that throws out one YA lit cliche a week to compare to my own high school days. Because we all know how accurate those fictional nuances are . . .

Weird character names

Judging by this list you'd think people are rather tame with their children-naming.  If you happen to read, well, anything in the YA world it would appear parents are hitting the acid in the maternity ward. With names like Serenity, Destiny, Mystical Moon Beam (I may have made that one up just now) or anything with at least one apostrophe I can't help but wonder what particular pipe Mom and Dad are hitting before putting pen to birth certificate.  I'm not even considering ethnic names (since those are in their own category).  Just the funky ones that lend credit to hints of THC in the blood.  Why must we name our characters as if it's 1967 or we passed out with our faces pressed into the keyboard?  What's so wrong with Tom?  Or Michele?  I'll even throw in Rupert.  Why can't we have characters with parents that actually put some thought into how naming their children might affect their later years?  Please?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Author Bites - Sean Beaudoin on All Things Rotting

Sean sure knows how to rock out with his cocks out.  He's made this chicken funky since I started reading his epic mind-fuckery years ago.  His most recent incarnation of a literary acid trip, THE INFECTS, had no less of an effect than previous works but I noticed some differences.  I had to ask Sean about them and he even answered.  I'm the luckiest little fangirl ever.  Fried chicken, zombies and Sean Beaudoin make for an insane combination.  If you haven't read THE INFECTS yet be sure you do.  It's available today and I'm pretty sure it'll make you boycott all forms of fried chicken, not just the homophobic kind.  Thanks for stopping by, Sean!

What made you decide to mutate your zombies, make them, for a lack of better words, evolve? 

What is it about the human brain that we always have to envision ourselves at the height of culture and physiological development? The Sumerians thought they had the best religion, political system, and literature in the history of the world. And five thousand years ago, they were right. The Romans were right too, until the Goths sacked them into submission. France was right at the time of Louis the XVI, the Germans were right at the time of Weimar, and we’ve been right in 1776, 1876, and 1976. The thing is, we have no clue not only who we’re going to be, but what we’re going to be in 2076. Or if we’re going to be at all. In three hundred years we may all have insect wings, or be disembodied heads floating in vats of saline and electrolytes. Or we may devolve and live underground like voles. I guess my point is that all of us becoming zombies seems as likely an outcome as any other. Why would zombiedom necessarily be a step backward?

THE INFECTS appears to be tamer in terms of your usual mind-fuckery.  Is this just me or have you toned it down a tad when compared against FADE TO BLUE or WESLEY PAYNE?  

Well, if there’s any toning down it wasn’t a conscious choice. I think zombies inherently bring a lot of blown minds to the table without needing to be larded with the metaphysic or overly conceptual. On the other hand, maybe the mean nurse on the ward has started to palm my medication and sell it in the alley out back.

Is there really a not-so-subtle and nominally serious bit of commentary on America's fast food nation and the over-production of meat a la Perdue and Tyson in your book or am I simply having a stroke? 

You are having a stroke. And your response in the first three minutes is vital to your future quality of life. Here is what I suggest: locate a salt shaker and immediately swallow the entire contents. Next, cook and eat several steaks and then down an entire jar of peanut butter with a spoon. Finally, change into some sweats and watch a Million Dollar Listing marathon on Bravo.

The end of THE INFECTS leaves a few doors open.  Have you fallen into the pit of YA series or are you just a horrible, horrible tease? 

I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to write an Infects sequel. I guess the sales numbers will let me know if I need to. The end does sort of leave it wide open for another book, but it really wasn’t as intentional as it might seem. Since I’m such a famous and powerful author, I was able to work into my contract that I have the option of whether or not to continue the Nero saga. In the meantime, my next book is a punk rock diary called Wise Young Fool that will be out August 2013, and it has zero zombie content. 

If you could draft your favorite zombie writer into your evolving zombie army, who would it be and why?  Would you want to collaborate with him or her (in zombie form, of course)?

My favorite zombie writer is Jonathan Franzen. I definitely want to go (zombie) bird watching with him, but I don’t know about writing a book together. I guess if Oprah is into it, I’m in.

Discuss, in a short paragraph, your feelings regarding SEAN OF THE DEAD.

You are speaking, I take it, of the one-man rock opera that I wrote and performed for my extended family in my grandmother’s living room when I was twelve?

Or do you mean Shaun of the Dead? I dug that movie. Like all of the best zombie fare, it was amusing without really trying too hard to be.

What's your favorite artery-clogging fast food joint and has your own book made you shy away from it a bit more as of late?

Fast food freaks me out. I literally haven’t eaten McDonalds since 1986. My abstention is not so much political in nature--although I’m sympathetic to that line of thinking--as it is that factory scale meat processing strikes me as hallucinatory and demented. To be able to sit down and eat a Quarter Pounder with bacon and cheese you simply can’t allow yourself to ponder the steps required for it to arrive boxed and steaming in front of you. I wanted readers to think about that just a little bit, without being preachy. Personally, I’d always rather hear a good chicken-anus joke than listen to a lecture. And the bottom line is that people are going to eat what tastes good to them, regardless. But so are zombies. And, as we all know, zombies mostly prefer sweaty, alienated teenagers.

Brains or intestines? 

I’ve had sweetbreads before and I’ve always found them to be slick and unpleasant. They taste like debauchery. Or maybe they just taste like death. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed tripe tacos in Mexico a number of times. It helps to have had some tequila. So, I’m going with intestines. Hands down.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Win SHADOWS by Ilsa J. Bick!

Tomorrow Ilsa J. Bick's end-of-the-world story continues on.  The sequel to ASHES, SHADOWS, drops like it's about to get eaten.  Now if you're a good reader you should be salivating at the face for this title.  I mean the end of ASHES was so incredibly infuriating and cliffhangerish  that I started frothing about a year ago (maybe a bit more).  If you haven't even read ASHES yet then what the hell are you doing?  You have homework to do.

For the rest of you, in case you need a refresher you can head on over to Ilsa's site for a quick recap.  SHADOWS doesn't sucker into the standard billion-page recap that seems to creep all over YA series so if you don't know what's going on, or can't remember, you'll be rather lost.  I know I'll be diving into that ASHES cheat sheet.  I remember quite a bit of what happened (a rarity for me) but I figured anything that's pertinent to SHADOWS Ilsa will mention on her own recap.  Safe bet, right?

Coincidentally SHADOWS is also this month's pick for my fantabulous sooper sekret book club, YAckers.  We plan to YAck it good.  And we may even have a copy or two to give away when we post the YAck on the YAcker's site.

Not sure what's headed your way in SHADOWS?  Check out the blurb from Goodreads -
The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.
Rather elusive but there you go.  It's a tease, I'll admit that.  A big one.  Have you READ the end of ASHES?  This is nothing compared to that so I'll take it.

Now is your chance to win a finished copy courtesy of Egmont.  What do you need to do?
  • Open to US residents 13 years of age and older only.
  • One entry per person per email address.
  • Duplicate entries will be deleted.
  • Entrants must be a follower of Bites via one of the following mediums: GFC, RSS, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Goodreads.
  • Entrants must follow the YAckers site (and be sure to come back to it to check out our YAck of SHADOWS, yes, I'm shamelessly whoring for followers here, sue me).
  • Giveaway ends October 8th at midnight, MST/Arizona time.
Now just fill out the form and have at it.  Happy release day, Ilsa!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Added to the Pile + 123

One lonely book this week, of which I'm okay with.  It came from PaperBackSwap and it's one I've wanted to read for a while now, mainly because it's a matriarchal post-apocalyptic world.  A rather rare point of view for this type of genre so I'm interested in seeing how Patneaude handles it.

EPITAPH ROAD by David Patneaude
2097 is a transformed world. Thirty years earlier, a mysterious plague wiped out 97 percent of the male population, devastating every world system from governments to sports teams, and causing both universal and unimaginable grief. In the face of such massive despair, women were forced to take over control of the planet--and in doing so they eliminated all of Earth's most pressing issues. Poverty, crime, warfare, hunger . . . all gone.

But there's a price to pay for this new "utopia," which fourteen-year-old Kellen is all too familiar with. Every day, he deals with life as part of a tiny minority that is purposefully kept subservient and small in numbers. His career choices and relationship options are severely limited and controlled. He also lives under the threat of scattered recurrences of the plague, which seem to pop up wherever small pockets of men begin to regroup and grow in numbers.

And then one day, his mother's boss, an iconic political figure, shows up at his home. Kellen overhears something he shouldn't--another outbreak seems to be headed for Afterlight, the rural community where his father and a small group of men live separately from the female-dominated society. Along with a few other suspicious events, like the mysterious disappearances of Kellen's progressive teacher and his Aunt Paige, Kellen is starting to wonder whether the plague recurrences are even accidental. No matter what the truth is, Kellen cares only about one thing--he has to save his father.  (

Things I've Learned from Books + 166

Posted weekly, you get, for absolutely free, a bit of knowledge learned from the books I read. I just couldn't keep this wealth of information to myself. That would be cruel. It will keep your gray matter happy. And happy gray matter keeps it from de-evolving. De-evolving is bad. You don't want to be sludge, do you? Or a fish?

When life is the abortion of a bad acid trip you'll long for the days when the walls were simply bleeding.  Things were so much simpler then.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

80s Awesomeness! ~ 173

80s Awesomeness! is an original concoction of my insanity need to live in the 80s. The flashback started here and posts weekly on Saturdays, highlighting the best of 80s fashion, music, movies and whatever else the coked up, yuppie Rubik's Cube decade can throw at you.

A show before my time, Square Pegs was about two girls (does one of them look familiar?) just trying to fit in at school.  You know, square peg, round hole?  Ha ha?  Right.  I've never seen an episode and the series only lasted a season but I do know they padded Amy Linker's outfits (the one that isn't Sarah Jessica Parker) to make her look heavier.  Apparently that made her even more uncool.  Add in the fraulein hair, weird clothes and braces and I don't think she could have gotten any squarer.

Freaky Friday :|: 173

Freaky Friday is a weekly post highlighting YA horror published between 1980 and 1999, originally inspired by Sharon's (Loves Books and Cats) Flashback Friday.

Title: Zodiac Chillers - The Scorpio Society
Author: Carol Ellis
Published: July 25, 1995
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 168
Belonging to an exclusive and secret club at her gothic-style boarding school has more of a sting to it than Elizabeth imagined, when the Scorpio Society's leader, the mysterious, charismatic Rachel, sets out to enlist Elizabeth--whether she wants to join or not.  (
Few things are worse than a person that just doesn't get the hint.  Seriously, I DON'T WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND.  Some people are exceptionally desperate, I guess.  I'd read it just to see what angle the story takes; creepy stalker?  Overwhelming force?  Passive-aggressive under-handing?  Who knows?  Someone must.  There had to be at least ONE reader of this book at some point in time . . .  It wasn't me.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp

Pub date: September 25, 2012.

Author website.

Something has happened in Spokane. The military has evacuated the city and locked it down. Even so, disturbing rumors and images seep out, finding their way onto the Internet, spreading curiosity, skepticism, and panic. For what they show is-or should be-impossible: strange creatures that cannot exist, sudden disappearances that violate the laws of physics, human bodies fused with inanimate objects, trapped yet still half alive. . . . 

Dean Walker, an aspiring photographer, sneaks into the quarantined city in search of fame. What he finds will change him in unimaginable ways. Hooking up with a group of outcasts led by a beautiful young woman named Taylor, Dean embarks on a journey into the heart of a mystery whose philosophical implications are as terrifying as its physical manifestations. Even as he falls in love with Taylor-a woman as damaged and seductive as the city itself-his already tenuous hold on reality starts to come loose. Or perhaps it is Spokane's grip on the world that is coming undone.  

Now, caught up in a web of interlacing secrets and betrayals, Dean, Taylor, and their friends must make their way through this ever-shifting maze of a city, a city that is actively hunting them down, herding them toward a shocking destiny.  (

BAD GLASS is something different.  In a good way.  It's part horror, part apocalyptic, part science fiction and fantasy, hitting on every thread that each of those genres can unwind.  I had moments reading this book that actually made my stomach churn.  Of course I was eating lunch at the time and vomiting all over the lunch room table at a place I've worked at less than a week would certainly leave an impression.  Not a good one.  I really like where I work so I breathed through it.

In terms of character I felt it was a little thin.  I didn't really have any motivation to care about any of the characters and when things really started to happen I felt more like I was watching the news than I was invested in reading a novel.  The emphasis of the story was on Spokane.  It was the antagonist here, as the blurb says, hunting them.  Literally.  I LOVED Spokane and I talk about it as if it were a fleshy type of character.  It was the most dynamic thing here, morphing itself to engulf the more static characters.

Taylor was your typical hard ass, stand-offish girl that leads by example.  Not unlikable but she wasn't anything I warmed to.  Then her character took a major shift towards the end and I don't think it quite fit.  It was too out of character and felt more like a contrivance to catapult the story forward than anything else.  I didn't mind per se because I was still interested in the story but it was a point of contention.  I'm not a fan of characters deviating for the sake of plot.

Amanda is one character one day and then goes off the deep end the next without much segue, throwing another shock factor into the spokes of the plot.  Charlie was endearing, being the youngest of the group.  He was the techie, helping the rest of the gang keep in contact with the outside world all the while continuously searching for his parents whom he KNOWS are still in town.  Floyd is hung up on the death of his brother, Mac's a clingy dick from the beginning and Dean himself wants to believe he dissolves into the town with the rest of them but I didn't buy it.  He's there for less than a week, put through all kinds of shit for the sake of his art but won't simply walk away when things get really bad (and everything will gladly get out of his way to walk and once he gets out of Spokane all the craziness will stop but nooooooooo).  He sacrifices his life for Taylor, whom he's known A WEEK but will not return the affection nor even much of a hint that it's reciprocal, because he just can't leave her.  No.  I don't buy that either.

I don't buy it as much as I don't buy Taylor's character shift.  Dean's very presence beyond the first few days felt forced, his reasons for staying insubstantial at best.  Eventually it stopped being about his photography and started being about Taylor, again a stand-offish girl that would barely look at him.  I'm going to keep driving right past that tag sale and move on to the next one.

Spokane on the other hand was a living, breathing character consuming all the others, eventually literally.  The things that happen within the city, whether they just happen to the surroundings or to the people themselves, were so incredibly vivid that I could almost feel all of the panic and worry and wonder at what was going on.  From the weird bodily mutations to nature bucking it's own trend, I believed it all.  It was the most vivid part of the story.  If it weren't such an integral part, if the story focused more on the characters than on the surroundings, I would have lost interest pretty quickly.  But I kept reading for Spokane.  I wanted to see what the hell was going on with it.

I almost expected the ending to crap out.  I don't know why but I was anticipating the whole thing ending up being a dream.  It was alluded to.  I'll spoil it for you: it's not.  Thank god.  I would have been so incredibly pissed off I don't know what I would have done.  You get an answer but it leaves a lot of whys hanging out there and you still don't REALLY know what's going on by the time the story ends.  You have an idea and I think it's enough to satisfy the curiosity that the plot brews but there's definitely room for more.

BAD GLASS is, atmospherically, a great blend of horror and apocalyptic, the latter really just on the edge of the world about to go to hell in a Pinto.  There are some truly terrifying moments and the way Gropp wrote all of the changes it really plays with your mind and you won't know what to think about everything that's happening.  You'll start to second-guess things and you'll be trying to figure it out right from the moment Dean gets into the city and starts seeing these things first hand.  It's light on character development but the city itself is such a huge personality in the book that it'll just overwhelm everything else.  Really I don't think there's room for much else in terms of the other characters.  And I'm okay with that.

Ban Factor: High - Swearing, m/m sex, drug use and the world going to hell.  Not a good combination for the banners.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Not In My School (17)

Not In My School is a weekly feature that throws out one YA lit cliche a week to compare to my own high school days. Because we all know how accurate those fictional nuances are . . .

Magical objects

When I was a teenager I was shopping at places like Pacific Sunwear (before it was relabeled PacSun), Hot Topic and Claire's.  None of these places would have any kind of magical object (usually a piece of jewelry) that would endow me with any kind of power to do anything except magically turn my fingers green.  At the rate kids are lighting up the world in YA fiction you'd think their parents would let them get all blinged out in their heirloom finest.  Or they're shopping at Tiffany's.  Nearly everyone I knew didn't have that kind of expendable cash to stick a valuable piece of jewelry on an aimless teenager, whether it was freshly bought or generations old.  And if it were the latter parents would usually cut off their right hand before allowing their fifteen-year-old to don it for their friends.  Just the thought makes me vomit in my mouth a little.  So where are all these attainable magical objects coming from?  Are we spawning a generation of kleptomaniacs?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Yet More Proof that The Lost Boys is Awesomer than Twilight

Aside from the fact that Joel Schumacher's THE LOST BOYS is still being talked about twenty-five years after it's initial theatrical release, despite the fact that the mayor of Santa Cruz, California has deemed July 25 as Lost Boys Day, despite the underground fandom, from the diehard to the weekend warrior, that keeps the movie afloat, despite the mullets abound and the 80s clothes galore, THE LOST BOYS still lives on and still gets credit for being the fanged catalyst of current teen vampire movies.

THE LOST BOYS made vampires sexy, riding around on motorcycles, clad in leather.  It stopped being about ugly Nosferatu sleeping in dank cellars and corrupting the virginities of maidens everywhere and started being about the sex appeal.  Most girls and women have a bit of a bad boy complex.  'Sleep all day, party all night, never grow old, never die' became an anthem for all who are young, wanting to live an epic life with no consequences, so fears and no death.  Mix the two together and you're not only pulling in a swarm of ladies salivating for a ride but even the guys that want to be total bas asses.

Dwayne, the only non-blonde, was the only one that could ever be considered brooding but that's just not the right word for it.  'Stoic' is a term that comes up often in the fandom.  He doesn't sit around and piss and moan about his life all day (night?).  He just doesn't talk much.  And he'll eat your face all the same.
Like the article said, THE LOST BOYS made vampires fun.  It clawed them out of the dirt graves and made them appealing to both sexes.  It was the unsuspecting Michael they ended up roping in, not some clumsy little halfwit that would have barely been a consideration for a snack let alone an eternal love object.

So I'll say this again, just in case some Twihards didn't hear me: THE LOST BOYS WIN.  Period.  Let's see if people are talking about TWILIGHT with the same adoration in another twenty years and we'll re-evaluate this position if the need arises.  Until then, you can take your glitter pixies and smoke 'em.  NEAR DARK did the fangless vampires twenty years before TWILIGHT, Louis was getting his period about his eternal damnation about thirty years before Edward blew out his hair and only the ever-spilling guts of THE LOST BOYS glitter after they've been stabbed in the heart.  Or drowned in a bathtub filled with holy water.

So blow me.  I'll keep my Twisted Sister-looking, motorcycle-riding, Boardwalk-playing, coastal California-living vampire savages over your staring-mournfully-out-a-rainy-window, "vegetarian," college-love-song-writing, wingless glitter pixies any day.


The only thing they have in common is a popped collar.  Kiefer's smirk versus Robert's lack-of-bowel-movements face?  Gee . . .

Ban This! - Arizona, You Hurt My Brain

There is absolutely no denying that the political climates of Connecticut and Arizona are about as opposite as Mitt and Obama in nearly every aspect of what could be construed as politics.  I have my political opinions and while I sit firmly on my fence of independence I can't help but laugh at some of the immense crazy coming out of my new home state.  There was a lot of crazy in my old home state but the Brewertopia I'm living in now is a whole different level of crazy.

See, Arizona has a hyperactive legislature and while that can pump out some shit that does make sense, like the Stupid Motorist Law, that a place like Connecticut is too much of a goddamn hippie to hold people responsible for their own idiocy to enact, we also get mind-numbing laws that make women perpetually pregnant and white-washes school curriculums.

Arizona is a border state.  There is nothing short of a cataclysmic tectonic event that'll change that.  That means there is a lot of ethnic diversity in this state, much to the chagrin of many people, especially the people in power.  Wherever you stand on the immigrant debate, this is a nation built by a melting pot of nationalities and while there is an illegal immigrant issue, especially here, that doesn't mean that ALL minorities are illegal and it doesn't mean that we should put the kibosh on ethnic diversity.  If you take a look at this list you'll be able to pick up a theme rather quickly.

Why?  Why is the state of Arizona going so far as to completely snuff out ethnic reading?  Arizona is squatting on a rather large plot of Indian and Mexican land.  I could get into how they were here first and the American settlers pushed them out and whatnot but that's not the argument (because, let's face it, imposing empires don't have a history of asking for things nicely).  White people are not native out here regardless of who took what from whom.  While I don't agree with encouraging illegal immigration I don't believe in discouraging ethnic education.

Arizona has this odd fear of a minority uprising and a usurpation of power found, obviously, in them reading books with words about non-whites in them.  HB 2281 expressly forbids "courses or classes that . . . are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group." THIS IS FOR REAL.  Read the bill and marvel at how far your eyes will cross.  The way this bill is being enforced is shutting down culturally diverse programs in schools and removing ethnic reading material from school classrooms and libraries for the sake of . . . what?  To promote equality in our schools?  By removing all culturally diverse texts from the rooms?  We learn about pilgrims in history until our damn eyes bleed.  As someone coming from New England that's a pretty poignant part of my area history (and of course the country's).  The settling of the American southwest would be a bit different.  Imagine living in New York City and not reading about the Harlem Renaissance because it was too far leaning towards one ethnicity.  No Langston Hughes for you.

No, I don't believe the overthrow of the US government should be taught in classrooms.  That's only slightly treasonous.  If this is to be believed that was one of the catalysts to the bill itself, the WAY some of these books were being taught.  Okay, so REFORM THE TEACHING.  Don't crush the entire program and remove the books because the teachers are supposedly sending bad messages.  And guys, if a book is removed from a classroom and thus removing students' access to it, it's banned.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it's probably not a hippopotamus.

Sherman Alexie is no stranger to being banned in the fine state of Arizona and a channel has popped up on YouTube reading out books on Arizona's banned list.  No, I don't believe tax payer money should go to fund the upbringing of a generation of anarchists but at the same time if people are driving like shitbags you're not about to ban cars, are you?  No.  Have people learned nothing from banning books?  Have they not learned that banning them will only make them more desirable?  By removing them from schools those with enough want will just seek them out on their own?  History should not be removed from the classrooms and alternate views of history should be taught to get a more well-rounded view of the event in question.

This is rightly the second wave of the Civil Rights Movement (that Hannity article made that abundantly clear to me).  Voices are trying to be silenced.  Why?  How will that benefit anyone?  They'll find a way to speak one way or another.  Let history be taught.  Allow students access to all types of books suitable to their ages.  If the way these books are being taught is such a problem, how about keeping a closer eye on the teachers themselves instead of punishing the students?  All this looks like now is a sanitizing of the history of Arizona and of cultural diversity in general.  You're not oppressed or at a disadvantage.  Who's teaching you these things?  Seriously . . .  We're not all white WASPs bred from Europe.  To try and crush anything else is a bit of a disservice to, you know, a good chunk of the population.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Added to the Pile + 122

One book was a purchase that I couldn't pass up and the other is a NetGalley copy that I forgot to mention last week.  Oops!  I'm still a bit scattered.  My bad.

For $10 used I grabbed a pristine hardbound copy from my local indie -


Nope, I haven't read any of them yet.  I've been told I'm slightly blasphemous.

And from NetGalley -


Yeah, pretty much anything to do with Egypt will suck me into reading a book.

Things I've Learned from Books + 165

Posted weekly, you get, for absolutely free, a bit of knowledge learned from the books I read. I just couldn't keep this wealth of information to myself. That would be cruel. It will keep your gray matter happy. And happy gray matter keeps it from de-evolving. De-evolving is bad. You don't want to be sludge, do you? Or a fish?

There's a reason why all those chicken sandwiches are so cheap.  And oh so tasty.  Perhaps contemplating vegetarianism isn't the worst thing in the world.  Or at the very least hunting, dressing and slaughtering your own food from now on.  At least you KNOW your meat won't bite back then.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

80s Awesomeness! ~ 172

80s Awesomeness! is an original concoction of my insanity need to live in the 80s. The flashback started here and posts weekly on Saturdays, highlighting the best of 80s fashion, music, movies and whatever else the coked up, yuppie Rubik's Cube decade can throw at you.


I watched the shit out of this show when I was little, what with their  bear-caring stares and super-powered tummies fighting the forces of evil.  I don't really remember much else about the show except that I had one of the plush bears; mine was the sleepy bear that had a glow-in-the-dark moon and stars on its tummy, tired eyes and a night cap (the non-alcoholic kind).

Holy dear god did I remember every word to that theme song when it came up. Couldn't they get someone that wasn't tone deaf to sing it?

Freaky Friday :|: 172

Freaky Friday is a weekly post highlighting YA horror published between 1980 and 1999, originally inspired by Sharon's (Loves Books and Cats) Flashback Friday.

Title: Zodiac Chillers - Rage of Aquarius
Author: Carol Ellis
Published: July 25, 1995
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Pages: 169
One by one, grieving and guilty teenagers find themselves slowly dying to be with their dead friend Becky, who reluctantly took up one of their dares, and lost her life as a consequence.  (
First off, holy crap I didn't realize until now that it's been more than a month since my last Freaky Friday post although that would make sense.  The last post I made was just before I went on vacation at  the beginning of August and then my life exploded a bit when I got back so . . .

Second, this is actually kind of appealing.  Something a bit different from what's out there even now although I'm not sure I get the point of the whole zodiac thing.  I'm sure there's something stringing it together.  Maybe each person who dies is a different sign?  I have no idea but it has my attention.

Friday, September 14, 2012

You Can Keep Your Hearing Books

The 42 hour drive I took across the country seemed like a great time to try my hand at audiobooks.  What else what I going to listen to streaking across Oklahoma?  Bible thumping on AM isn't quite my thing, I can only listen to my iPod music so much and constantly scanning for FM stations as I drove through zones would have eventually driven me insane.  So about $60 later I downloaded THE MAP OF TIME by Felix J. Palma, DARK COMPANION by Marta Acosta and WICKED LOVELY by Melissa Marr to take me on my trip.  I was especially excited for  THE MAP OF TIME.  It just seemed like the type of book that would translate really well into audio form.

I originally stayed away from audiobooks mainly because I felt that I wouldn't pay attention to them if I listened.  When I read books I READ them, absorbing the words through my eyeballs.  It sinks in really well that way and I THOUGHT it wouldn't work for me the other way because while I CAN listen really well, when it comes to the radio I tend to get Shiny Object Syndrome and only half-listen to anything I hear.  But on a cross-country drive what could possibly draw my attention away from an audiobook?  Corn?  Cattle?  It just made sense to try.

And fail.  What could draw my attention away from the book?  How about the wind noise in the soft top Jeep Wrangler I was driving?  Or my dog constantly trying to get into the back seat (of which I finally gave in and just let him crawl around, as long as it wasn't on my lap I was okay with it).  Or how about my ability to completely zone out while driving, drifting into auto-pilot mode and not hearing most of what I was listening to.  And this was five minutes into the drive.  I wasn't even out of the state yet.  I just couldn't involve myself in the story the same way I could reading a book, probably because when I'm reading that's all I'm doing.  I'm focused on the story and the words are etching themselves onto my gray matter.  With the audiobooks the words just grazed my mind and then slipped away.  I couldn't hold onto anything and as a result I really couldn't enjoy the book.

Granted the talking calmed my dog a lot.  Every time I switched it over to some music it got my dog riled and anxious.  Flip it back to the audiobook and he settled right down.  So it became background noise for the duration of my drive.  Read: the majority of it.  And I became a little cranky that I sank money into COPIES of books already in my possession that I'm now not going to use.  They're all DRM-filled too so I can't transfer them, I don't think.  Otherwise I'd give them to someone that'll actually use them.

I tried.  I had a strong feeling in my gut area before that I wouldn't like audiobooks.  Now I have a bonafide feeling in my brain area that audiobooks just aren't for me.  How do you feel about audiobooks?  Do you partake or avoid them?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Not In My School (16)

Not In My School is a weekly feature that throws out one YA lit cliche a week to compare to my own high school days. Because we all know how accurate those fictional nuances are . . .

Evil step-parents

Usually female and usually with some level of ulterior life-destroying motives, whether it's keeping the step-child from the person of their choice, failing to recognize one's need to save the world or repeated murder attempts, a lot of step-parents are portrayed as ultimately wanting to eradicate the fruit not borne from their own loins for whatever evil reason that fuels them.  I can't help but wonder why step-parents aren't ever portrayed as nominally normal.  Do people think that all step-parents, after convening from their evil step-parent meeting, go forth and destroy, as is their sole purpose?  As someone that has a step-parent I can assure you no poison apples were ever involved in any of our exchanges.  I never lived with my step-parent but I was around enough and I never got an evil vibe.  That's not to say people can't be dicks.  Of course they can.  But they can be biological and be dicks too.  Just because a parent is step doesn't automatically file them into the evil category.

Shitty YA Boy Toy: Linden - WITHER

Name: Linden

Dwells Within: Lauren DeStefano's CHEMICAL GARDEN Trilogy

At a glance: Passive-aggressively douchey but it's passed off as some demented form of kindness, seemingly ignorant of the goings-on under his very feet, had a love of his life but, well, she's dead so now it's time to round up them bitches and fuck 'em all, likes oranges

And I rant: No one deserves to be brought around back and shot like a baby fucker.  Linden?  He's one of them baby fuckers.  I mean one of his wives is only thirteen.  Perhaps in a better written and developed world that actually made sense Linden's actions could be nominally justified and the entire population could suffice under a cloak of indoctrination.  As it stands we're only a couple generations into the future, the world's given itself an enema and parents are watching their kids rape little girls for the sake of procreation.  And Linden, well, his actions are made to be not so bad.  I mean he has an orange grove for his first wife because he was in love with her.  Too bad he was willing to let his father round up girls for his dick-ly amusement to fuck at his beck and call.  Girls that he knew full well were rounded up at gunpoint and are being held against their will.  You don't keep them confined to a single floor without even the ability to open a window because they're WILLINGLY there.

And then there's his perceived ignorance of it all; the needless slaughter of all those girls he ultimately rejected (seriously, the world-building in WITHER, as I never made it beyond that, hurts my brain) that he didn't know about, the post-mortem autopsies being performed on the dead wives he's leaving in his wake that he doesn't know about, his evil daddy that he doesn't know about . . . Either he had the mental capacity of a six-year-old that pets bunnies too hard or HE'S WELL-GODDAMN-AWARE OF WHAT'S GOING ON AROUND HIM.  Which is it?  We don't know.  I'm going with the latter because, well, at the rate he disregards Jenna on her deathbed and wonders how Rhine could be so upset over her passing, that says something more akin to sociopath than cuddlebug.  No one can be standing knee deep in a pile of triceratops shit and not smell the stank.

The reality:

He's only good for:

Final thoughts:  Have I mentioned that he aides his father in locking up kidnapped girls in his super awesome mansion of rape where he forces himself on them for the sake of "saving humanity" while he donates their soon-to-be corpses to his daddy's science?  Linden needs a good round of Butt Fuck Bitch in the Maricopa prison system to see how he likes being held against his will and boned.  What's even worse is his actions are passed off as something appealing, his ignorance an excuse, his acquiescence to not force himself on Rhine like he does with the other two something other than a contrivance.  As if him letting them out into the yard like they're some free-range concubines is OMG appealing!  Yay!  Swimmies!  Go fuck yourself.  He's a rapist and a baby rapist, the two being mutually exclusive and thus compounding each other.  Why does this boy exist as a viable love interest in YA?  Why is all of this okay as long as the women come from less and are given pretty dresses and candies and a big gnarly house?  LET'S PARTY LIKE IT'S 1859!  Bitches should be thankful.  They're getting all the pretties.  They are OBLIGATED to receive Linden's hot meat injection when and where he so desires.

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