Entries in NSFW (7)

Monday
Jan282019

Vultures

It's the final book in the Miriam Black series and it is a fantastic end to this series. Wendig totally nails the landing. If you're already a fan of the series, you won't be disappointed. If you've been waiting for the series to end before you start reading, now is the time and this series is worth it!

You can find my review of the first book, Blackbirds, and the previous one, The Raptor and the Wren. Chuck wraps up all the threads in a satisfying way that's true to the dark grit of this series. I have a 6-book hangover now.

The book is gritty, gory, hard-hitting and snarky. Everything you expect and love about the series.

Miriam doesn't have much time left to stop the Trespasser and save both Gabby and the baby. She meets a delightful ace/aro trans dude named Steve who is an absolute cinnamon bun and totally made the book. He's like that rug in The Big Lebowski. Ties the room together.

Steve and Gabby are Miriam's sidekicks while she tries to save them all, get rid of her powers, and stop a new serial killer.

And that's all I'm going to say spoiler free, because it's hard to talk about a book like this without spoilers. You don't like spoilers, stop reading now.

Anyway, at the end of the last book, Miriam is pregnant and sees that her baby is going to die. This book starts with her waddling miserably through the shitshow nightmare of pregnancy. It is a morbidly un-sentimental take on pregnancy and motherhood and is so much the way I felt through pregnancy that this book could have been written about me.

There are so many things to love in this book, but I love that pregnancy doesn't really slow Miriam down. That motherhood doesn't fundamentally change who she is. That, much like me, she ends up teaching her kid context (don't swear in school) rather than quit swearing. (haha, yes, there's a spoiler, the kid lives)

Wren's 5-second cameo was SO GOOD, though it did leave me a little baffled. I know there's a side novella about her out there somewhere that I'm probably going to need to read to be less baffled about how she ended up where she did and when she did. It felt a touch deus ex machina, but I also don't have all the info.

But anyway, as dark as this series is, the ending is a hopeful one. True to the series, but still full of hope. Get out there and read it!

Tuesday
Oct202015

Furiously Happy

Okay, this is the follow up to Let's Pretend This Never Happened and it's everything you would expect it to be. It's hilarious and tragic and full of hope. I love this book. I laughed so much and I cried a little too. And it made me feel better about my shortcomings.

Here's a sample of some of my favourite lines:

"And I know some of you are saying that cake isn't medicinal. Really? Cake isn't medicinal? Who's crazy now, asshole?"

"That's the thing about my father. You never know when he's hiding a giant surprise giraffe head from you."

"...I'm not overweight. I'm simply overgravitated."

"Recognizing that popularity is sometimes the equivalent of human mange sort of cured me from wanting it."

"Having a purse full of spiders is actually less scary than having to think about finances."

And every argument with Victor that Jenny documents is nothing short of amazing. And hilarious. I love their dynamic. It reminds me a bit of the one I have with my husband. How I say batshit crazy things and he just stoically endures them, occasionally with some meaningful witticism.

So most of the book had me laughing out loud, sometimes loud enough to frighten my family. But it was the final chapter and the epilogue that had me crying. It wasn't a sad kind of crying though. It was hopeful. Not necessarily happy, but definitely relieved.

Because there are two things I took away from this book, two things more important than anything else, including the much-needed laughs:
1. Our continued existence is better for our loved ones, no matter how troublesome we think we are.
2. Accepting our flaws, every last stupid little one of them, doesn't mean accepting defeat or that we can't change or that we shouldn't keep trying to be the best we're capable of. Acceptance is freeing. It gives us the space to grow and truly be our magnificently fucked up little selves.

And in a few short hours I'm heading to Toronto for Jenny's only Canadian stop on her book tour. Updates to come!

UPDATE! This happened. :D

Monday
Oct122015

Let's Pretend This Never Happened

If you are not familiar with the Bloggess, you should go check out her blog or perhaps follow her on the Twitter right now. Jenny Lawson is adorably deranged and hilariously, brutally honest about a myriad of taboo topics, predominately about mental health. She's got a thing for really weird taxidermy, too.

Jenny is a mental health advocate and a beacon for misunderstood weirdoes everywhere.

This first book is a more traditional memoir in that it tells of the big moments of her life in mostly chronological order. It's horrifying and hilarious. You will laugh and then immediately feel guilty for laughing at something so horrible. And then you'll laugh some more.

I recommend Jenny's blog to get an idea of her writing and the kind of content you'll see in her books (hint: it's NSFW). She's a sweet, compassionate woman with absolutely no filters. But she has a gift for storytelling, for recounting the most heartbreaking things in a way that will have you laughing hysterically.

This is an especially important memoir for people who silently suffer from mental illness, or people who are painfully socially awkward, or who blurt bizarre things at the most inappropriate times. You are not alone. You have a whole tribe. You matter and you can cope with support and the right tools.

And if you're lucky enough to be cognitively and emotionally normal, well this will probably give you some perspective on how the rest of us function (or struggle to function, or don't function at all and have to hide in bathrooms or stay in bed for days).

And you'll get a good laugh out of it in the process.

Jenny's got a second book out, another memoir-ish book called Furiously Happy that goes deeper down the mental illness rabbit hole. I'm a few chapters into that one and it's possibly more hilarious than this first book. But that's a review for later.

If you're familiar with the Bloggess and haven't read this book. What are you waiting for? If you're not familiar with her, really go check out her blog, if nothing else.

Tuesday
Feb172015

The Cormorant

It was a long weekend here, for Family Day, and I managed to destroy my reading dry spell by powering through two very good and very different books. The first one was The Cormorant by Chuck Wendig. This is the third book in the Miriam Black series and it's definitely the best one of the lot.

If you haven't read any of the series, this book isn't really the place to start. Check out Blackbirds first.

The series in general is about the highly unlikeable but intriguing Miriam Black, a young woman who can see your death after the briefest contact. Her curse has messed her up and thrown a lot of roadblocks in her way. I think I find the character so fascinating because of the way she climbs over those blocks. Miriam is a definite underdog who manages to come out ahead. Sort of.

Miriam is constantly broke and relatively nomadic. Her adventures bring her to Florida, where a killer who knows about her abilities is taunting her with death-messages in people he has yet to kill. Miriam blunders into his web and is horrified to learn that everyone she's come in contact with in Florida, including her estranged mother, are targets of this killer.

So Miriam has only a few days to chase this madman all over the Keys in order to save the people she cares about. She also learns more about her own power and purpose, and gains mastery of some of her newer skills.

There's a much deeper emotional component to this book that raises the stakes from the other two books. Miriam sees her mother for the first time in nearly a decade and the reunion is both sad and promising. The perfectly innocent bystanders caught up in the plot also up the ante in this one.

As unlikeable as Miriam is, she relentlessly does the right thing. Usually. At least, she tries to do the right thing, in her own warped and mildly insane way. Wendig has done a masterful job in creating such a damaged heroine that readers end up cheering for despite her busload of baggage. This book also does a much better job of weaving past and present together, cranking up the tension.

If you haven't started reading this series, you really should! If you've started and wonder about The Cormorant? Read it! I'm really looking forward to how the story arc continues in Thunderbird.

Tuesday
Aug262014

The Kick-Ass Writer

Like all things Chuck Wendig does, this book is NSFW, but hilarious if you don't mind a bit of poop humour and a generous helping of vulgarity. He's also got a strange preoccupation with hobos, but who am I to judge. It's still an intelligent and insightful book, chock-full of good, useful advice for writers. While this is mainly geared at newer writers, I still found plenty of great information, and I've been writing for 20 years.

This book is a collection of blog posts, so check out Wendig's blog to get an idea of what his writing is like. Despite the poop jokes and weird hobo references, the book is still intelligent and to the point. Wendig tells it like it is. Some of it is hard for a new writer to hear, but I think a healthy dose of reality is in good order now and then.

One of my favourite things about this book is that it's not full of rules you absolutely must follow or your books will spontaneously combust. I get turned off by a lot of how-to-write books because they often say ridiculous things like: You must write 1000 words between 5-6am every day and without breakfast or you will fail. Sorry, dude, I'm still asleep at 6am and don't function without breakfast. I write around 11pm. Because that's what works for me.

And this is an honest book that encourages writers to find what works for them, and offers some advice on how to figure that out. The only rule of write-club is that you have to write. When and how doesn't matter, and Wendig is one of the few pros I've seen who will admit this.

My only problem with this book is that it is only advice. There are no prompts or exercises, and very few examples, most of which draw from Wendig's personal experience and may not translate well for all writers. Still, I've dog-eared dozens of pages and already taken some extensive notes from The Kick-Ass Writer and applied them to my current rewrites of the Blueshift trilogy.

If I've found so much value out of this book when I've been writing for such a long time -- with one novel already published and another due out soon, plus a short story being released in the not-too-distant future -- then I can only imagine how useful it will be for new writers.

I highly recommend this book to all writers of all levels, and to people who are curious about writing. I think it's a great book to pair with some of my other favourites, like Lukeman's The First Five Pages or Novakovich's Fiction Writer's Workshop, which have great examples and exercises.