Thursday, December 13, 2012

Creepy Craigslist

Proof that there really are those creepy guys in the restroom who check you out while you're using the urinal. (So glad I'm a girl who is safely encompassed in a stall & away from prying eyes in that private space...)

Thursday, November 29, 2012


Here are some links, some writing related, some not:
  • Last day! Check out these writing e-books that are on sale for drastically reduced prices.
  • Like Francesca Lia Block? Check out this site.
  • Need a laugh? Try this erotica. I haven't actually read it though, since it's released for Kindle & I have a Nook. If you're interested in reading & reviewing this book, let me know! I would love to host a review for it on this blog.
  • Stop naming your kids after Internet phenomena! They will not appreciate it when they are older.
Do you have a link you have felt a burning need to share? Share it with me in the comments; I love comments.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Precious Stones & Romance Sucks

Today, I am going to belatedly review the Young Adult novel Sapphire Blue, by Kerstin Gier. The novel was released last month, and is translated from German by Anthea Bell.

Sapphire Blue is the sequel to Ruby Red, as well as the second book in a trilogy. I received an ARE of the novel, and did not previously read the first novel.

Overall, I found this novel fairly enjoyable. The novel appears to leave off approximately where the first one leaves off. This in medias rei approach is nice, because the pace of the novel is quick and fun...

At least, for the most part. The "romance" story line was:

a. predictable, &

b. annoying.

The protagonist's waffling between "empowered female" and "why doesn't he care about meee" whining may be realistic, but here's a secret:

Teenage girls who are in love and unsure if those feelings are returned are boring.

At first, as a reader, you're listening to the whining and you're sympathetic. Poor, poor Gwyneth - the guy she likes seems kind of like a dick. Luckily, she realizes this, and can move on to find someone else.

Oh, wait. She's doing that thing where she lets him kiss her because she's still not over him? Well, that's realistic...

& now she's crushed b/c Douchey Love Interest isn't being nice to her again... Who didn't see that coming?

Oh - Gwyneth didn't see it coming? It's not like this behavior is out of the ordinary for him - What is she, mentally deficient?

OMG - she's still going on about this guy! And acting like she wants to die because of some guy she's only known for a few weeks? (Stephenie Meyer - I'm blaming you for this.)

Ok. She needs to shut up, or I'm going to burst my eardrums, on purpose, even though I'm reading this ridiculousness & that action would do me no good.

So, yeah, the romance story line really got on my nerves.

Other than that, though, I found the novel fairly enjoyable.

The time travel important to the story lines of this trilogy is very interesting, particularly because the writing of the time shifts is very well done.

I was able to follow along very well, but still recommend that you read Ruby Red before delving into this story. I got a good feeling for all of the characters, but felt that it would have been a little bit more fun to be revisiting them in Sapphire Blue rather than meeting them for the first time. Also, while I caught on to most of the time travel lingo going on, it probably would have been easier had I read the first novel.

I will say, despite the annoying romance stuff, that I will probably read the next novel (Emerald Green) in the trilogy to find out how the series ends!

Have you been reading this trilogy/novel? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Interesting Description

This Nook Book is free of charge & got good reviews, so I will download & read it. I just find the description something I want to share -- "...eyes as clean as Jesus..."

Yes. Yes, I want to read this. Don't you?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Small Ones, The Bad Ones & The Predictable Ones

The adjectival title is referring to secrets, the subject of Kate Morton's latest novel, The Secret Keeper.

THIS novel
This novel was the first that I have read by Kate Morton, but was fairly well done, and makes me interested in reading another by her. As you might have guessed, the novel revolves around personal and family secrets, with a juicy murder at the heart of a daughter's investigation into her ailing elderly mother's past.

Is your interest piqued?

Okay, I admit that most descriptions of this novel are going to sound like a trashy TV show that has jumped the shark, but Morton's writing saves what could be an overwrought, plot-crazy novel into something interesting and sweet.

Morton writes characters who are fleshed out and believable, and whom you want to continue reading about, even though you don't like everything about them. Really, there is only one character who is truly despicable in the novel, though a few of the characters do horrible things - and that is one of the possible flaws. The villain is the only character who is not fully fleshed out. Somehow, this lack of detail for that one character worked for me, as a reader. He became a shadowy kind of bogeyman, creeping me out and causing some part of me to want to pull my covers over my head. I do think, though, that this lack of detail for that one character might bother some readers.

Mm... covers
There was one thing that kind of bothered me about this book. There's a "twist" at the end, but I saw it coming at least 2/3 or my way into the reading (possibly earlier, it's taken me awhile to get around to writing this review, and my memory regarding this is fuzzy - but definitely earlier than I was intended to perceive it). I am also, to put it nicely, no Sherlock Holmes. I'm not even an Hercule Poirot, sitting around being nice to the ladies while twirling & admiring my excessively large mustache. So if I can see a twist coming, it's probably pretty obvious to most people - with the exception, perhaps, of the individuals who do not read very often.

Despite having foreseen what was supposed to be a shocking revelation, I continued to enjoy reading this novel. Not in the compulsive, "OMG, this is so horrible, but I have to keep reading it" way that has occurred in the past, either; I was simply enjoying the writing. And while I knew where the writer was going, I was not entirely sure how she was going to get there.

Thus, The Secret Keeper is a pretty good novel that I highly recommend. While I received a free copy for review, I would not have been disappointed to have paid money for it (and might just do that, with the holiday season right around the corner (I'm ignoring the stores that already have Christmas displays up b/c it is TOO EARLY to begin the madness)).

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Creepy Craigslist: Romance Denied

Let me explain something... even if she remembers you, she associates you with the scent of urine-soaked excrement.

Romance denied.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I'm going to be annoying - but please read, anyway

I recently discovered that Michael Thomas Ford, author of one of the few Austen adaptations I genuinely enjoyed, is attempting to raise funds to help him release a new novel on Indiegogo.

I am writing about this for a few reasons:

1) I think utilizing Indiegogo to sell books is a pretty cool concept. Particularly since Mr. Ford has had success with getting his books published through a publishing house. The fact that he does not need to self-publish, but is experimenting with it anyway is inspiring. We all need to keep experimenting throughout our lives, mais oui?

Intimate-apparel-turned-hat is optional. However, if you do create a gorgeous sexbot, don't be a weenie. Have sex with it. (Also, if you haven't seen "Weird Science," don't bother - I just ruined it for you.)

2) I think that Mr. Ford is an excellent writer. Therefore, I would like more of his delightful books existing in this crazy world. Life is depressing enough; let's not deprive ourselves of a great book.

3) This book that Mr. Ford is self-publishing sounds kick ass.

...not this kind of kick ass
Seriously, he's writing a fairy-tale-esque adaptation involving a psychic 13-year-old girl named Lily, an evil mother, and a traveling church revival... how awesome does that sound?

That's right - very awesome.

4) Mr. Ford is not quite halfway to his goal monetary amount, and there are only 14 days to go!

5) It only takes $15 to help out. For $15, you can get an e-book copy of the novel. For $25, you can get a paperback. For $35, you can get a hardcover (& e-book copy, if desired).

6) Christmas is coming up - this sale allows you to do a good deed and get some Christmas shopping out of the way!

& who doesn't want more presents from Santa?
So please, check it out at this link. & if it sounds like something you or someone you know well might like, consider buying a copy and showing your support for someone who writes well.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

TV Marathons Are Probably Not Good for You

I've been watching a lot of Bones recently - in the past 1.5 weeks, I've watched the entirety of season 1 (oh Netflix, how alluring and tempting art thou!). It's an interesting show, but I really don't like the show as much as could reasonably be expected of a gal who has watched an entire season in 1.5 weeks.

Naturally, this obsession, paired with my inability to explain it, led to my analyzing what, in particular, I didn't like about the show.

Part of it might have been the Deschanel school of acting.

I told you I can't act - you're really not going to get any more out of me.
While Emily is a vastly different type of actress than her sister Zooey, she still manages to be kind of boring. It almost feels like the show's writers wrote a character who doesn't actually have to be acted, since she's supposed to be awkward and stilted, etc. Even so, however, EDeschanel is not entirely convincing.

The biggest factor for me, though, is the genre. According to Wikipedia (which, while not an authoritative source, we all use), Bones is "an American crime comedy-drama." This description is probably fairly accurate. It is not, however, what I expect from the television show. Based on the crimes and jobs involved with the show's story lines and characters, I am always expecting a mystery show. It always kind of feels, to me, like as one of the show's viewers, I am invested in trying to figure out who is perpetrating the often disgusting and gruesome crimes the show revolves around.

Except that solving the crimes is really secondary. Every episode, it seems like the "aloof" Dr. Brennan, who supposedly keeps to herself, is telling someone some intimate detail(s) about her past that make her seem more human (or would, if she were being portrayed by an actress other than Emily Deschanel). So the character development, which I should care about, but don't, is the primary concern of the show. Meanwhile, the interesting cases, which really do interest me, and which occupy much of the screen time of the show, tend to be wrapped up fairly hastily.

Yet the cases continue to attempt to out-do their predecessors, becoming increasingly gruesome and horrifying, which indicates that the cases are considered a definite draw to bring in viewers.

This confuses me. We're supposed to care about the cases, but we're supposed to care more about the (infinitely more boring) characters - to the point that we're not supposed to care that the cases are solved too quickly, without giving viewers that relieved feeling of "Oh good, the mystery has been solved & the world makes sense again." (Like, for example, that feeling derived from most episodes of Veronica Mars.)

Basically, I think I continue to watch Bones b/c I keep expecting it to live up to its' mystery-caliber potential. And I am then continually disappointed b/c the show doesn't live up to that potential. Do you watch any shows like this? & how do you stop the madness of a marathon that you're not particularly enjoying?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Austen & Reality TV

So, I recently read an ARC of Imperfect Bliss by Susan Fales-Hill, which revolves around Jane Austen & the world of reality television.

I have to admit, the cover is pretty awesome.
The book, on the other hand? Not as enjoyable as I wished.

I knew that the book would somehow involve the concepts of Austen & reality TV, but was a little fuzzy on the details of how these ideas would be combined.

Warning: this blog post will probably be spoilery.

So, Imperfect Bliss is an Austen adaptation - a modern re-telling of Pride and Prejudice. The Harcourt family lives in Maryland. Bliss is the Elizabeth equivalent in this novel, a recent divorcee who is still in love with her ex-husband and is raising a special needs toddler named Bella (whose name constantly reminded me of Twilight - probably not the connection Fales-Hill wants to draw) while simultaneously working on attaining her PhD.

Her family, with just enough money to afford a tiny house in their affluent neighborhood, is further ostracized from the community by racial tension (Mr. Harcourt is an Englishman, while his wife is a native of Jamaica).

Bliss and her other 3 sisters are all beautiful (Mary's character has been eliminated); Bliss and her older sister are close and consistently mortified by the behavior of the female constituents of the family. The two younger sisters are fairly silly - one of them is a prissy golddigger intent on marrying her way to a comfortable life, the other is slatternly and her need for attention seems to foretell impending doom (which consists of a sex tape, kind of a let down after all of the build-up, to be honest. & by kind of, I mean completely).

Diana, the prissy younger sister, starts the novel's action by announcing that she is going to be the star of a new reality TV show entitled "The Virgin," which makes her mother inordinately proud, and promises her the fame and fortune that she desires.

The parents in this novel were well done - the mother is completely ridiculous (who, after all, would be proud of their daughter for having a medical exam and subsequent certificate proving and subsequently proclaiming her virginity?), but reasons and rationale are given so that the reader doesn't absolutely hate her (and so she seems more like a human being); the father is often disinterested, a fact that is not glossed over, in the slightest, and points out one of the biggest critiques of the Bennett family in P & P.

Bliss is kind of boring. Her situation is pitiable, but she's just not a likable character. She has the prejudice down, but her judgmental attitude is not tempered by the steady wit and humor that make Elizabeth one of the most beloved characters in literature. Her Mr. Darcy is glaringly obvious, yet does not seem exceedingly prideful, and frankly, seems too good for her.

Overall, this novel was predictable and interesting enough to read, but also slightly boring. I would rate this item as a brontosaurus - it seems like a really awesome find when you first hear about it, but turns out to be fraudulent and really just ruins The Land Before Time.

Is nothing sacred?

This book was received as a reviewer copy, free of charge. It was released in July, and is therefore now available for purchase. The ideas in this review and my opinions of it are wholly my own.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Review: The Absent One

Today, I am reviewing Jussi Adler-Olsen's novel The Absent One.

Let me begin by saying that this novel is part of a series (it's a "Department Q" novel), none of which I have read, and that this novel is a translation (Jussi is Danish).

This novel is a sensationalistic one. Drawing on themes of sado-masochism, abuse, and the privilege of the rich, it is difficult to read it and not feel like the author is trying to shock you. Having said that, there is enough suspense, and the plot is interesting enough to keep the reader wanting to know what happens next and keep turning pages.

The title seems to come from a character in the novel who is a mistress of disappearance - she's been living on the streets for years despite having come from a wealthy family, she changes her physical appearance frequently enough to be thoroughly camouflaged, and a few people want her dead - which is kind of fair, because there are quite a few people she wants to torment, herself.

This novel is not black and white - there are innocent victims, but they tend to be in the past. The police in this novel - the Department Q to which the series title refers - get entangled in the mess of abuse and crime while trying to solve a crime that is 20 years old. Yet the detective Carl Morck definitely has some issues, his jr. detective Assad seems to have something mysterious and probably illegal in his past, and even a few of the criminals in this novel seem to have a history that causes the reader to somewhat condone their behavior.

Occasionally, the translation didn't quite make sense to me - not on the individual sentence level, but rather, on the level of character. In particular, the secretary, Rose, whom Carl thinks is a giant, incompetent bitch, doesn't really seem that incompetent or bitchy to me while reading. Overall, however, the novel was a fairly interesting read, though, as I've stated before, seemed intentionally written for shock value.

This review is rather brief, because so much of the plot involves learning more about the characters and piecing together the plot, that I don't want to give too much away & make it not fun to read. However, if you have any thoughts on this novel, feel free to share them in the comments below.

*This novel was received as an ARC, and is slated to be published August 21, 2012.


So, I read this novel awhile ago, but have been having trouble finding the energy to review it. I wish I could blame this lethargy on the heat wave, but it is, in fact, simply me giving in to laziness. So, here it is - the long-awaited book review (that you didn't know was coming) of A Once Crowded Sky:

As you can see, it has an intriguing cover. And as the flashy red cape & the fact that the gentleman wearing it is walking on clouds suggests, this novel deals with superheroes.

King's novel delves into the superhero psyche.

What creates a superhero? Like many of our favorite comic book protagonists, the heroes in this novel all have a tragic backstory. After all, it would make sense that an enormous amount of pain and suffering would have to take place before a person was willing to risk his or her own life and limb on a daily/weekly basis for people that he or she did not previously know.

Yet while the reader learns most of the heroes' backstories, this novel actually takes place after the superheroes have sacrificed their powers in order to save the world -- effectively turning themselves into normal humans. This turn of events creates some issues - what do you do when you can no longer save the world on a regular basis?

Yes, there is a therapist/psychologist who specializes in seeing superheroes.

And what do you do when some unknown villain begins attacking everyone again? Specifically, targeting superheroes?

Only one man still retains his superhuman strength - Pen Ultimate, the former sidekick of the ultimate superhero, um, Ultimate. Pen had walked away from being a superhero and/or sidekick years before the superheroes were asked to sacrifice their powers, and he was not present when the sacrifice took place. As a result, he is the one person who is still able to move faster than other people, anyway, if not a speeding bullet. He is the person with the strength of numerous others, if not of 10.

He gets dragged into the world of fighting again, because there's no one else who can. Yet he doesn't like being a superhero, and never has. He walked away years ago because he didn't want to risk life and limb - he wanted to live a quiet life with his wife. Now, he struggles with his promise to his wife that he would be safe, and the imperative to help others that has been drilled into him when younger, and now seems more important than others.

Overall, I found this book interesting. The writing is interspersed with comic book pages of the superheroes & supervillains about whom you are reading. The writing itself is written in a serialized fashion, drawing attention to the comic book world about which author Tom King is writing.

I definitely recommend this novel to people who grew up or are still enjoying reading comic books. It will provide a different perspective, though, and the novel is rather dark. Also recommended for readers who enjoy experimental novels. Also, because this review is rather late, the novel is available for sale now!

Have you read this novel? What was your opinion?

Sunday, June 24, 2012


"I catalog lucky events like this on a back page of my journal. Since my default mood remains muddy gloom, I need a permanent inventory of inspiring moments; otherwise the seemingly miraculous can vaporize with a shift in mood."

-Mary Karr

I recently gleaned this quote from a blog post entitled "The Kindness of Strangers."

To be honest, the blog post is a bit too much for my tastes. Being appreciative of the good things that happen to you is a good idea, but it is difficult to write about the subject matter without slipping into cliche and managing to keep the writing interesting. But this quote stuck out to me.

For one thing, because I do frequently suffer bouts of depression, this quote reminds me of the importance of trying to maintain a healthy mindset. Such maintenance can, of course, be related to the writing life, as well. We all have those bouts of insecurity, those periods of writer's block, the rejection that is part of attempting to get published. And during such times, discouragement abounds.

Now, if writing is something that you feel genuinely compelled to do, then rather than give in to feelings of worthlessness, it will be more productive to remind yourself what you love about writing, and push through the issue.

Yet what I really like about this quote, and the reason that I wanted to share it today, is that it reminds me of the importance of perspective.

While working on a piece of writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, it is important to keep the perspective of your piece in mind. Nonfiction pieces are often meant to be unbiased. Fictional pieces can be told in first, second, or third person, but must remain consistent. Another factor to consider with respect to perspective is verb tense.

These issues are not necessarily ones that you need to consider while writing a first draft, but are important factors in the editing process.

Yet another perspective that needs to be considered while editing is the perspective of the reader. Making sure to keep your reading suspenseful, avoiding cliches, and making sure the story only contains elements that are necessary.

What are your thoughts concerning writing and perspective? Share them in the comments below!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Reading has created a summer reading flowchart to help individuals choose which book to read next:

Summer Reading Flowchart

I am currently reading Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge (chosen without help of the flowchart, actually, and simply because I am a Hardy buff). What are you currently reading?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Writing: What Have You Been Up to?

So... haven't been writing as much as I should. Now comes the time when I tell you, my invisible readers, what I am working on so that I feel more accountable with regards to getting my writing done. I will do this utilizing glittery letters, to make my blog post more interesting. And also because it's pretty.

What have I been writing?

free glitter text and family website at
(review posts for this blog, as well as a fitness blog I'm making weekly contributions to for at least the next few weeks)

  free glitter text and family website at

free glitter text and family website at
free glitter text and family website at

Because I was a Classical Civilizations major eons ago, am currently pregnant, and want a classically inspired book to read to my baby.

What projects have you been/are you currently working on? Please let me know in the comments below!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Not Merely Porn

Despite the very titillating title, The Pleasures of Men is not focused on sex. The novel does contain much discussion of sex and the feelings associated therewith. It also has much violence, discussion of evil, complaints about the decorum expected of a proper lady in Victorian England, discussion of family, a serial killer, lesbianism, an odd protagonist who is possibly insane, and imaginative ramblings.

I don't want to mislead you, though - for that listing of topics might make the novel seem more interesting and coherent than it actually is.

Before we delve deeper, let's have a peek at the titillating American cover:

Just kidding; this totally isn't sexy at all.

 I have to say, there is something about this book that is magical. For while I didn't particularly like the writing, thought the Victorian era, rather than coming to life, comes out rather stilted instead, and found the fantastical passages and shifts in point of view to be disconcerting and rather annoying, I did, for the first half of this novel find myself coming back to it far too quickly. I was like the clingy girlfriend who pushes the guy away because she's already creating wedding invitations after their third date - except that I didn't even really like this guy I was trying to force myself on in a Jennifer Love-Hewitt-esque move.

I feel your pain, cheezburger pie chart

I kept reading it, so obviously the book wasn't horrible. It just wasn't very good, either. The protagonist is not very likable, which is obvious from the fact that as a reader, you aren't particularly saddened by the ending. [Warning: I'm about to get spoiler-y.] The ending is very Victorian - the protagonist Catherine Sorgeiul is going to be alone for the rest of her life in order to avoid the evil men with whom she came into contact for the majority of the novel, devoting her life to becoming an invisible, unmemorable person who would not be mentioned in the history books. However, I have a feeling that the reader is supposed to feel slightly saddened at this fitting ending; I was not.

With regards to the writing, I felt like the novel is written in a confusing manner that does not make it entertaining. Chuck Palahnuik's writing jumps all over the place and confuses the hell out of you, but at the end he draws some things together, and while confusing, it is a fun, clever, interesting ride. This novel jumps between characters, jumps between fantasy and reality while tending to be most confusing during random sentences that are supposed to be "real" passages, and seems rather unfocused, in general.

Are you trying to write about how the Victorian era was stifling to the lesbian urges that many girls naturally felt? Are you trying to delve into the mind of a psychopathic killer? Or show the reader that it's not possible to delve into the mind of a psychopathic killer? Or talk about how fucked-up family can be?

No, no - more fucked up than this.

Really, whatever the purpose of this novel was, I could not discern it. Or perhaps there were multiple purposes the novel strove to achieve, and as a result, the author was unable to accomplish any of them.

Wrap-up: This book is slated to be released August 7 of this year, but if the world is really going to end in December, I say you probably want to pass on reading it.

Am I being catty? Why yes.

Last but not least, here's the Guardian review of this same novel, which is well written and worth looking into if you're unsure, after reading my review, if this book is for you.

*An advanced copy of this book was provided free of charge; this review and all opinions contained therein are my own.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Review: Lost in Hollywood

I recently finished Hollywood Boulevard by Janyce Stefan-Cole. This novel was released in April, though my copy was an uncorrected proof provided for review. The cover is a befittingly poolside picture, replete with palm trees:

Hollywood Boulevard is broken down into two parts, and is a very meandering, introspective look at retired actress Ardennes Thrush - who retired before achieving her full potential.

Ardennes Thrush is a literate, intelligent individual who hasn't really been doing much of anything since she retired from acting. As far as exactly why she retired is something that remains unclear - by the end of the novel, it seems like she lost herself during a nervous breakdown because of the dissipation of her first marriage. (That is my interpretation, however, and there are certainly others that can be made.) Ardennes loves acting, the craft of it, the ability to lose herself in a character - and from the remarks of other characters, it is clear that she is good at it.

To be honest, the novel is a little boring - but it's possible this is on purpose. Here is this glamorous former movie star, hanging out in her hotel room and spying on her neighbors. People who are trying to be invisible, even when they're quietly suffering a nervous breakdown, are often kind of boring.

Then, she gets a stalker, which makes things slightly more interesting. And she commits adultery, which is kind of surprising. And her husband betrays her, which has been glaringly obvious for awhile, and is therefore no surprise at all.

Then, she gets kidnapped, which makes things slightly more interesting. And due to her slight craziness, it is interesting to see what other character is actually even more crazy. (I won't say who, because that takes half of the fun out of the novel.)

The end of the novel is perhaps the best part, with its' did-she-or-didn't-she-find-herself ending.

Despite the slight tedium of the novel, I did enjoy many aspects of it. In particular, it is obvious that the writer is herself a huge fan of reading. Reading the words of someone else who is a fan of literature can often be a beautiful experience, and reading this novel does sometimes inspire the reader to devour great works of literature.

It is difficult for me to make a recommendation for this novel, because with its' slightly boring tone, it is definitely not everyone's cup of tea. I was told I should rate my reviews, though, so reading this novel falls somewhere between enforced reading for school and laughing dinosaurs (which sounds kind of creepy, but think of friendly, animated dinosaurs, like in Land of the Lost).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Telepathy & Feminism

Gothic novel. Creepy, small England town. Humor. Hot, new guys who live in a mansion. Magic. Fast pace. All of these elements are part of Sarah Rees Brennan's upcoming novel Unspoken.

Unspoken is the first book in a series, though I'm unsure how many books this series is meant to contain. So many amazing elements, and it continues --

First of all, yes, this means that when the novel ends, the story feels uncompleted. And yes, it ends right on a spot where your mouth hangs open in protest, and you feebly attempt to prevent expletives from spewing forth from your lips, because you unwisely decided to read the end of the novel in public (or under your desk at school, or under your desk at work, or on the bus).

Secondly, the atmosphere and environment of the novel, while very evocative of the English countryside, is not really very eerie and menacing. It has many allusions to gothic literature, though, and handles some of the issues that gothic literature present in an intelligent, well-informed matter.

At the crux of this novel is the relationship between Kami Glass and Jared Lynburn, who have had a psychic connection since birth. Other people have imaginary friends; Kami and Jared have an invisible imaginary friend who doesn't go away. And then they meet, and discover that this psychic connection has been with a real person all along - a boon and a nightmare.

It sounds like soulmates, right? But it really wouldn't be a fun thing to live with. And Kami Glass staunchly opposes the idea that she and Jared are "meant" to be together merely because there is a link between them that isn't easily explained.

This novel builds on gothic influences in a fast-paced manner, while at the same time, making sure not to fall into the traps that are in gothic literature. Violence, while in the novel, is not touted as something inescapable and attractive, and the girls in the novel are just as smart and strong as the boys.

So many things in this novel were done right - but this novel still isn't the powerful tour-de-force I was hoping to read.

The flaws? Might simply come down to expectations. This novel was very humorous, with all of the characters exhibiting the same sense of humor that can be seen in the author's livejournal and twitter posts. Brennan's ability to meld two unlike things together in a jarring yet hilarious simile is spectacular, and at least caused me to smile, if not literally laugh out loud.

Yet when I hear the words "gothic novel," I don't expect to giggle my way through the work. I expect to become enmeshed in another world - a frightening world filled with delicious imagery and beautiful writing. Unspoken is a fun, fast-paced read, with thriller elements - but I don't think it quite reaches the slight insanity of a gothic novel.

My verdict: not a bad read. A good beach read. Did leave me wanting to read the next novel.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Girl Fight!

On the most superficial of surfaces, Francesca Segal's novel The Innocents appears to be about a young man named Adam Newman being torn between his long-time girlfriend-turned-fiancee Rachel and her beautiful, fragile cousin Ellie.

While this novel certainly explores these issues, alluding to Edith Wharton's famed Age of Innocence, what the novel is really exploring is Adam and his issues. Being a Jewish London resident, Adam has grown up with a set of societal expectations and enforced etiquette that are at once comforting and familiar, as well as suffocating. Having proposed to his long-time girlfriend Rachel shortly before the novel begins, he begins to feel his life becoming set even more rigidly into what is expected of him. Then he meets Ellie, who has recently moved back to London, and who is gorgeous and wonderful and almost never does what is expected of her.

Fighting over his feelings for Ellie and Rachel is really a reflection of fighting within himself over what is important - the fact that sex is involved is merely an added bonus.

(There are other issues which come up, and which Adam is dealing with, but which I am choosing not to mention in this review to make it less spoiler-y.)

I really, really, enjoyed this novel. I was also immediately struck by the fact that this novel is making parallels and allusions to Wharton's novel - though I have never read Wharton's novel, and so cannot make clever and witty observations with respect to how deep the reference runs. I will say I found it intriguing that Segal was able to draw so many parallels between the Victorian age of Wharton's novel, and the Jewish sect of modern-day London. To be honest, I do not know much about Jewish culture, but found the environment both edifying as well as easy to follow.

Reading The Innocents also makes me eager to seek out a copy of Wharton's Age of Innocence, partly because it's a piece of classical fiction that I haven't read yet. Partly because I would like to see how far the parallels run between this modern novel and the older one.

I highly recommend reading this novel, whether you have read Wharton's novel before or not. The writing is beautiful and sophisticated, the subject matter is dense but enjoyable, and the ending is a very interesting one that will leave the reader thinking about the novel long after reading the last page.

The Innocents is currently slated to be released in June 2012.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yesterday, I finished Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms, by Lissa Evans. A children's book meant to evoke a feeling of adventure, magic and wonderment, I am left with mixed feelings.

Although the cover, I like

 You might have noticed the key word in my previous sentence - "meant." While reading, I felt like I understood exactly what the author was trying to do. It was an admirable goal - to create another magical tome for the impressionable, gooey minds of our children. Unfortunately, it did not quite succeed.

It is definitely not a bad novel, and there were aspects I liked - the colorful characters, the use of setting, the historical information spread throughout. I can just tell that the author did not quite create the magic that she is striving for (not uncommon, of course).

I felt like the novel was enjoyable, and the author gets a lot of child traits correct - you do feel as though the author understands the world of children. It just doesn't quite get above and beyond the obvious and into the magical realm that will make it a "must-read" for children for years to come.

I think the worst thing about this novel, actually, is that it almost gets to that magical peak. A world of promise, a tantalizing glimpse of what it wants to be... Yet these glimpses only lead to slight disappointment because the novel never quite gets there.

An okay, but not a MUST, read.

*This novel was provided by the publisher as a review copy, but all opinions, etc., are my own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Expecting Moore Comedy

I'm a big Christopher Moore fan. Ever since I first stumbled across Bloodsucking Fiends: A Love Story as a senior in high school and devoured it while riding airplanes and suffering motion sickness, I've been hooked. So I was really excited at the prospect of reading his latest novel, S'Acre Bleu, a book which involves the Impressionist artists and is described as a "Comedie d'Art."

Sacre Bleu has Moore's trademark crazy plots, and definitely had some laugh-out-loud moments, but I wouldn't call it a comedic novel. Overall, the story is interesting, but it didn't leave me with that bubbly feeling of mirth and fun that I generally get from reading a genuine comedic novel. The feelings that are usually brought forth from reading a Christopher Moore novel.

Maybe Christopher Moore is simply becoming a more serious writer, or a more mature person.

Like I said, the book was interesting. Moore obviously did a bit of research, and is also genuinely interested in art, which shows in his writing. And the plot is zany, which keeps the reader interested and wondering where the crazy ride is going to end up.

Did you read this novel? What were your thoughts?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Book Review: Embrace

I received a review copy of Jessica Shirvington's Embrace, one of those YA angel books.

This book was my first encounter with the angel genre romance (except for Elizabeth Chandler's dated Kissed by an Angel trilogy, which I read over a year ago), and it was not completely unsatisfying.

I was hesitant to pick up a supernatural book that focused on angels. Zombies? Okay. Shape shifters? Interesting. Vampires? Fuck yes, sign me up for some seductive, bloodsucking fun!

But angels?

This struck me as wrong.

I think primarily because I had always associated the supernatural with horror. Not that all zombies, shape shifters, and vampires in novels are evil beings. But there's always this tinge of danger and even inherent unholiness in the supernatural books that I've read (except, of course, for The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove, which felt more Jurassic).

I think we can all safely say that angels are rarely thought of as "unholy," even though a lot of us think of demons as former angels.

& initially, the lack of "holy" regarding angels in Embrace did strike me as trying too hard, to make angels seem edgy or something. It does seem impossible to entirely leave religion out of a book about angels, however, and I would not be surprised if faith in God becomes more prevalent as the series waxes on...

I read this book because I was curious, and thinking that maybe the angel fad craze isn't as crazy & stupid as it initially sounded. And it wasn't particularly crazy or stupid.

I quite enjoyed the first third of the book or so.

In the middle, the book begins to feel predictable, and Violet (the protagonist) does suffer from "newbie-who's-amazingly-powerful-and-great-at-everything-and-who-all-the-guys-want-to-fuck"ness, but eh, it's a YA book, right?

Overall, I was left with the impression that this was an okay book. I went through phases where I really liked Violet, and phases where she was a bit too goody-goody for me, but since she's supposed to be some human-angel hybrid, I guess we can let that last bit go. And like I said, the first third of the book, I was very invested. I was just a bit disappointed that my initial emotional investment ended up waning.

Somewhat simplistic writing. Good for a beach read, quick read. Not a bad introduction to the "angel" genre.*

*This last criterion is based solely on my lack of regurgitation whilst reading, and might not be entirely unbiased.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Fairy Tale Re-Tellings

I don't know about you, but I love reading a well-told, re-told fairy tale. Here is one in the succinct form of a tweet. B/c Jenny Johnson is kind of awesome.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Book Review: Chomp

I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of Carl Hiassen's recently released young adult book, Chomp.

Available for sale on March 27, 2012, this book was a lot of fun, while also touching on some dark subject matter.

Essentially, the novel follows the young Wahoo as he helps/watches over his father, a professional animal wrangler. Wahoo's father, the far more sensibly named Mickey, was recently injured (by an iguana that fell out of a tree), and so income has been tight. Wahoo's mother conveniently goes on a trip to the other side of the world (China) for work to earn some extra income, which leaves the boys by themselves.

In the midst of their male bonding time, the opportunity to help out on a popular "reality" television show comes up. And with their increasingly dire financial straits, really, how could they say "no?"

Well, regardless of whether they're capable of uttering negative syllables or not, they agree to help. Wahoo is knowledgeable, and kind of boring, but his father is awesome. Mickey is hilarious and fearless. In the middle of the book, the reader is also introduced to Wahoo's classmate Tuna, a girl suffering from living with an abusive, alcoholic father. Tuna is also fairly awesome, despite introducing an element of danger near the end of the novel.

This book is filled with memorable characters, zany situations, but at the same time, isn't merely frivolous fun. The characters definitely aren't perfect, but they are a pleasure to get to know.

I definitely recommend reading this book. Due to the abusive relationship between Tuna and her father, however, this might not be a book that you want younger (12 and under) reading by themselves. It deals with the relationship in a very open way (although the abuse is only physical), and if your children are reading it, you might want to have an open and frank discussion concerning physical abuse first.

Take a Chomp out of Hiassen; read this book.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Creepy Craigslist: Trying to be Nice

Oh, Craigslist...

To fully enjoy the ad, click on the image to enlarge.

"Please send a no less than 2 photos..."

Send a? Is this some new slang verb form of which I am unaware? Probably. I am getting on in years. I guess that I will just never be that hip.

Yes, I do like Teen Witch. Shut up.

"This is so we know what you look like in advance and don't turn you away at the door."

Oh, thank you for explaining why you need at least two photos of your models, with at least one being a close-up of their face. It's a bit nicer for you to simply write that if you don't reply to an applicant, it's b/c you think they're unattractive, rather than forcing them to endure "You so ugly" jokes when they appear on your doorstep.

"Pay negotiable."

That sounds like a winning employment prospect. Sign me up!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


I am a member of Librarything (here's a link if you want to check out my current, paltry library), and whilst reviewing Pet Sematary (a Stephen King novel which I thoroughly enjoyed), I came across this gem:

"...possible to combine with sunbathing." High praise, indeed. I can only wish to one day inspire such delightful words, myself.

Review: Improbability

I recently received an ARC of Sam Leith's The Coincidence Engine, which became available for sale on February 7, 2012.

I don't know if you realize what an avid fan I am of Christopher Moore (who's coming out with a new book soon; yay!) and other humorous, crazed-plot writers - but I am. I was eager to read this book, based on its' description, because I was hoping to have found a new, hilarious, wacky voice.

The book begins by discussing a plane that apparently assembled itself during a hurricane, seemingly from random nearby items, and then crash-landed and disappeared. A secret government agency is looking into the appear- & disappearance of this aircraft that should never have existed. Add in a clueless British dude named Alex, some goons of low intelligence capable of murder, and some members of a top-secret government organization so obscure its' own members aren't even sure of what they're investigating, all on a road trip across the landscape of America -- it sounds fun & zany, right?

Well... not exactly.

This book was not as humorous as I was hoping. Yet I would not say that it was not a good novel. I went in with certain expectations that were not met, yet I still, overall, enjoyed many aspects of it.

I would have preferred the humorous book I was expecting, but that is because I was in the mood for an exceptionally silly, fun romp of a book.

This book was more philosophical. It had a lot of mathematical discussion, and also brought in some physics, some ethical conundrums, etc. It was far, far more serious than I was expecting, yet well written so that I, as someone who mainly avoided math & physics classes when at all humanly possible, could still comprehend it. My brain was not straining to comprehend the subject matter to a degree that took my focus away from the story, either.

Overall, I would say that this story is worth reading, provided that you know what you're getting before delving into its' pages.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Creepy Craigslist: Awesome Jobs

I'll admit it: I love Craigslist. Between the missed "connections" (after all, what's more meaningful than two seconds of eye contact at the red light at 12 mile and Harper?), the items available "for sale," and the actual, occasional, legitimate offering, what's not to love?

Thus, I think it entirely appropriate that I turn my Craigslist trolling to good advantage by beginning "Creepy Craigslist" - no idea how often I will update, but it's bound to be more often than lately, right?


Anyway, this one seems like a great idea. Models always make $100/hour when they're not taking their clothes off, right?

Click here to view full size

Book Review: On Humming & Rooms

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of The Humming Room, by Ellen Potter.

This book was an interesting and quick read. Quick both because it was entertaining, as well as because it is a short book (only 192 pages).

The length is nice for those intermediate readers who are just beginning to enjoy chapter books. The writing is also very clear. The descriptions are excellent, without getting too lengthy and without using exceedingly sophisticated vocabulary.

I found this book refreshing. It pays homage to The Secret Garden, (which is noted on the front cover), making it a great jumping point for children to become interested in the classics, particularly the writing of Frances Hodgson Burnett.

More than that, however, it was simply a book that I enjoyed reading. The characters are great - they seem real. Protagonist Roo Fanshaw is not a pretty princess; she is a kid with problems who is okay with being different, and partially lovable because of her faults.

Yet in the 192 page span of The Humming Room, Potter creates characters that are rounded. Roo grows, becoming well-adjusted, becoming more content with herself, without this process feeling too unrealistic (or just hokey). As a reader, I found myself liking Roo throughout the entire book, whether she was behaving herself or not.

This book is now available for sale. I strongly recommend picking it up, whether you have an intermediate reader in the family, or you are simply looking for a children's book to read, yourself.

Friday, March 9, 2012

"Being a writer is not about owning the right gadget or program. It’s about sitting down and doing the work. Just like the invention of the vacuum did not mean 20th century housewives no longer had to clean, the invention of the iPad does not mean 21st century writers no longer have to write."

This quote is from an Indie Jane blog post written by Nancy Kelley. The original blog post has to do with writerly gadgets, which I, personally, don't relate to much (mainly because I am too poor to buy all of the latest gadgets). Yet this quote jumped out at me.

Regardless of your budget, if you consider yourself a writer, you probably at least have access to a computer, a printer, and the internet. And all of these technological advances are a great help - as well as a great distraction.

Check out this blog, which also features this comic strip & which covers the similar tangent of procrastination. Procrastinating while pondering the evils of procrastination? How awesome is that?!

Well, maybe the printer's not a distraction, unless there's a copier/scanner attached...

Just remember, if you're doing this at work -- you do not look as adorable...

& it's not as though Internet & computer games are the only distraction, either...
  • Most writers have either school or a job (and many have both),
  • many writers have children to take care of & raise (a blessing, but undoubtedly time-consuming),
  • and then there are the small necessary chores (cleaning the house, laundry, etc.);
  • not to mention, who doesn't get sick once in a while?
I know that I, personally, need an adequate amount of sleep to function like a halfway decent human being.

& even then, to be honest, it's not very pretty

With a myriad of other things to do with one's free time, and all of the obstacles whittling away at this so-called "free time;" why write?

I mean, really, doesn't it often feel that writing is a waste of time? Who doesn't feel like their writing is complete shite as they are writing their first draft? (Leaving F. Scott Fitzgerald and his ego out of this conversation, thank you very much.) Who doesn't feel drained? Uncreative?

Although he does look lovely in drag...

I suppose part of it is that a writer gets depressed, does research into his or her favorite writers, and generally realizes that he or she is not alone - almost no one feels like they know what they're doing when they're writing. Yet they keep writing, and some people get rather good.

For some reason, writers feel compelled to continue practicing & refining their craft - despite occupations, children, and illness.

And all writers know that there is no better feeling in the world than having placed the last mark of punctuation on a first draft.

That's why I keep trying, anyway. Thoughts? Please share them in the comments below!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

You should read this

"Hell, every Christmas we celebrate the tale of the wealthy Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. We hate him in the first part of the story, and then we love him by the end. Not because he gave away all of his wealth and became poor (he didn't), but because he stopped acting like a shithead. Do you get the incredibly subtle and nuanced message of that story?"

Here's the link to the full article: 6 Things Rich People Need to Stop Saying

Monday, March 5, 2012

Book Review: Fairy Re-tellings in a Predictable Future

I finally got around to reading my ARC of Marissa Meyer's Cinder. A lot of you have probably heard of or already read this novel. It is a re-telling of Cinderella, in a future setting, and has a distinctive cover that highlights the android element that makes up a large part of the story:

Overall, I enjoyed this novel. I had some problems with it, but I wanted to continue reading it, and felt that overall, the writing was fairly accomplished.

So, let me begin by talking about my biggest problem with the book: predictability. I realize that, as a fairy tale re-telling, obviously, some of the plot should be obvious. But the twist at the end, when the main character essentially becomes a princess character, was something that was obvious at the beginning of the novel. What feels like it should be a "clue" is actually a very obvious foretelling.

Yet, despite the predictability, as I mentioned previously, I did want to continue reading.

Also, I liked the setting of the novel. One, it doesn't have that "fake historical" feeling that a lot of novels get by trying to re-tell the fairy tale in a middle ages setting into which the current setting is all too present. I also liked that the novel takes place in China - or rather, New China, in this futuristic setting.

I like that this novel was fairly interesting to read, despite the fact that much of the novel lays out a lot of groundwork for the series of which it is the first book (the Lunar Chronicles series), and is therefore fairly full of exposition.

Upon finishing this book, I am actually interested to continue the series -- which lately, has felt pretty rare to me when I pick up a series.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Book Review: Bedlam...Or Not

I received The Bedlam Detective as an uncorrected proof awhile ago. It became available for sale February 7, 2012.

The cover:

Written by Stephen Gallagher, this book has a great title and an interesting premise. Essentially, the title refers to Sebastian Becker, a former Pinkerton detective who is now barely making ends meet in a destitute section of London. His current job is to meet with rich people whose sanity has been questioned, reporting information to a superior who ultimately decides whether these rich people will be allowed to continue living on their own and making their own decisions, or placed in a cushy asylum.

While investigating a gentleman named Sir Owain in a small England town, Sebastian stumbles across the disappearance (which is ultimately discovered to be the murder) of two little girls. The little girls were violated on the moor in a manner that resembles the previous treatment of two little girls years before.

The story line is pretty interesting, but the writing is not. The author tried too hard to make the characters likable and full fleshed, and ultimately ended up adding many scenes and much information that was not necessary. I also felt as though the author tried to make the novel historically accurate, yet failed; the novel feels inauthentic.

I also did not like that Sebastian does a lot of investigating in the novel, but ultimately, I did not feel that the solution to the mystery was something the reader could figure out. There simply were not enough clues that were relevant to the murder itself.

Overall, I'm not sure what the author's intent in writing this novel was. It's not a horrible novel; it's just not very good.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Born Wicked

I believe this book is now available to purchase, but I received Born Wicked, the first book in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, as an advanced reader copy. The book is by Jessica Spotswood, and along with a great title, has a girl who is potentially in her underclothing on the cover --

Born Wicked is a fiction that takes place in an alternate history. In this novel's world, the time is the late nineteenth century, the place is New England, and the problem is a world full of witches and rules. This review will have spoilers, so if you are interested in actually reading the novel, you can skip down to the last paragraph to read my summary.

The Cahill Witches are three sisters. This book primarily focused on the eldest sister, Kate -- I have a feeling the next couple of books will focus on the other sisters. They live in a world dominated by a religious order called the Brothers, men who make and enforce rules that essentially prevent women from having power, under the guise of seeking to protect everyone from witchcraft. According to the Brothers, women have two choices once they reach the age of 17 - they can get married, or they can join the Sisterhood.

The Sisterhood is supposed to be like a less educated, less powerful, overly pious female sect, but is apparently actually a good cover for witches.

Cate is almost 17, and so has to figure out if she wants to get hitched or join the Sisterhood. While pondering this life-long decision (which will ultimately get taken out of her hands, anyway), she is also investigating a prophecy that she finds out about near the beginning of the book. The prophecy indicates that she and her two sisters were foretold, and can either bring women & witches back into a powerful position, or can bring about death and horror which essentially sounds like the Burning Times in Europe.

Overall, I wasn't a huge fan of this novel. Like a lot of young adult fiction, I felt like there were some interesting ideas, but wasn't particularly fond of the manner in which those ideas were executed. The writing was not bad, it just wasn't of high caliber. And the ideas were okay, but I found some of them rather far-fetched (I'm not even talking about the witch stuff).

This novel had a lot of potential, which it did not live up to. I do not recommend reading it.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Flash Fiction #1

Amber knew that her toaster had a secret life.

Ever since she had seen the Disney movie featuring the same appliance, Amber had realized that her toaster was a spy - leading a double life, wanting to communicate with the 7-year-old girl with the little blonde pigtails who encouraged her mother to make toast every morning, but unable.

The toaster had secrets. What kind of secrets, Amber could not be entirely sure, but that there were secrets the appliance was unable to divulge, Amber was positive.

The secret that Amber was most desperate to learn, however, was the toaster's name. Referring to the double agent residing in your house as "the toaster" felt too vague, too obscure. Surely, discovering the toaster's actual name was the first step towards an understanding, towards a friendship.

Every morning, as her toast was cooking, Amber would whisper: "Who are you?" to the toaster in the lowest voice possible, lest her mother hear her and begin her "imaginary friends are not real" speech.

One day, Amber discovered the patterns. Her toast would come out with blackened areas. Her mother thought the toaster was broken. Amber knew the truth. One day, the blackened areas formed a butterfly; the next, a pony.

Amber was so excited - the toaster had figured out how to communicate! Its' name would surely be apparent the next day (fish), or the day after that (circle), or the day after that (stapler)...

Then, one day, Amber's mother plopped two slices of bread in the toaster. "I don't know why you like burnt toast so much..." the woman muttered, walking out of the room to get dressed.

After a minute, the coils of the toaster lost their cherry red coloring. The toast remained in position.

Amber understood - the toaster was shy. It wanted to become friends, and reveal its' name to Amber, but it was scared at the same time.

But Amber knew how to retrieve toast. She had seen her mother handle this situation, and so she went to the drawer to the right of the sink. Opening the drawer, she retrieved a butter knife from its' innards, and headed over to the toaster. She stabbed the knife into the toaster, aiming for her bread, anxious to see name thereon inscribed.

Unfortunately for Amber, she lived in an old house. The wiring was not set up ideally, and those dark coils in the toaster were still quite active. Amber never discovered the name of the toaster that was thrown in the dumpster after the "accident." She woke up in a hospital room, and was shortly thereafter subjected to questioning to ascertain whether her mother was guilty of neglect.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Totally, Randomly Researching Dr. Seuss

The man was fascinating. Creative, funny - I love his almost incoherent writing, with its' own language, and its' own rules of reality. Seuss & Dahl are definitely two of my favorite writers.

So in case you want to join me, or you're doing a school project, or whatever, here are some links & some fun:

*an interview with "Mrs. Seuss"

*article about Dr. Seuss' habits & method of production

*a lengthy biography about Seuss (Dr.)

*a 2003 documentary entitled "Dr. Seuss: Rhymes & Reasons"

*some Seussian quotes

*& his official site, Seussville

Monday, January 9, 2012

Procrastinating & Legitimate Excuses

I don't know about everyone else, but between working, studying, watching episodes of Psych & becoming ill (I'm sick again, and am currently looking into the process of seceding from one's own body), I have not been doing a stellar job of honing my writing craft.

But I'm sick of making excuses! Surely my ever-widening ass (which I swear I can actually feel growing larger as I sit before the computer in the office where I work) can be kicked into gear! Or at least tricked.

A pretty awesome guy on Twitter, Berick Cook, has begun posting flash fiction. & it really made me think - flash fiction is hard, but I should be able to do that.

& so B. Cook has inspired me to start a challenge. Initiated as a self-challenge, anyone can feel free to join me. For the rest of January, I am going to aim to post 2 pieces of flash fiction each week on this blog. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Word length can be as short as possible. The only stipulation is that each story must have a beginning, middle & end.

If anyone would like to join me, on their own blog or in the comments of mine, feel free to drop a comment on this post & let me know! Others who stumble across this blog can be prepared to see my writing regretsy posts (which will never be as awesome as this).