Thursday, July 31, 2014
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to those who don't mind laughing in the face of the apocalypse
Publisher: Dapper Press
Released: January 2014
A post-apocalyptic novel that makes fun of itself and every book or film that's ever come before it? Uh, yes please!
Clayton Smith knocks it out of the park - The Magic Kingdom's parking lot, to be exact - with this hilarious tale of two BFF's who've managed to survive the apocalypse (which was brought about by Jamaican 'Flying Monkey Missiles' if you can believe it) by apparent sheer dumb luck. After holing up in an apartment building for the past three years, Patrick panics when his food-to-pudding ratio finally reaches a critical low, and convinces his neighbor and ole college buddy Ben to pack up his belongings and hoof it all the way down to Florida with him. His bucket list has only one item on it and he'll be damned if he's gonna die before taking a trip out to Disney World. After much bickering and some super-intense backpack repacking, the two besties head out on a POST APOCALYPTIC ROAD TRIP!
Prepared for the worst, though they're not exactly sure what that might be, they leave their Chicago digs behind and trudge through the yellow dust fog that blankets the entire United States, with Patrick leading the way as his buddy reluctantly follows.
The road they travel is ripe with danger and sticky with the melted bodies of those who were not immune to the Flying Monkey Dust. Armed with a bunch of weapons (chosen for their cool factor), their witty banter, and unique sense of humor, these guys meet up with some of weirdest end-time characters I've ever come across - a milky-eyed soothsayer who foresees a world of trouble for the traveling duo; zombie-like running men who will stop at nothing to eat the flesh of the uninfected; a cuddly buffalo named Ponch; tree-dwelling monks who drink frog blood in the hopes of spontaneously switching genders; a crazy family of four who act as though M-Day (Monkey Day, the day Jamaica bombed with US) never happened, and more.
Time and time again I found myself wishing I could hop inside Clayton's world and tag along with these guys. Their "laugh in the face of danger" attitude and incredibly poorly timed curiosity made APOCALYPTICON an edge-of-your-seat fun house ride. There was no situation Patrick and Ben couldn't get out of. I swear, these two had nine lives. Screw survival of the fittest! In this post-apocalypse, those who take the craziest risks and don't take themselves too seriously will inherit the earth. Well, whatever's left of it, anyway. Of course, it's not all laughter-and-happy-tears for these two. The dark humor pulls back at just the right times and let's the gory-goodness-of bashing-in-heads-with-baseball-bats and extremely poignant, bittersweet moments shine through. You can't survive an apocalypse on sarcasm and inside jokes alone, now that's just plain cuckoo.
Sprinkled throughout with pop culture references and served with a heaping dose of well written dialogue, I'm naming APOCALYPTICON the must-read book of 2014 for fans of post-apoc literature. Give yourself a break from all the end-of-the-world doom and gloom, and get your read on with this insanely incredible post apocalyptical novel with a huge heart. And HELLO?! Have you seen the cover? If my review's not enough to make you pick this thing up.... that cover sure as hell should be!
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Today, author Christy Crutchfield shares some insider info on Farm Shares, veggies, and flower-picking.
You can’t go far in the Pioneer Valley without running into a reading, a mountain, or a farmers market. Five minutes from my apartment is Mountain View Farm, one of my favorite places to go in the summer and fall and my main source of food six months out of the year.
I thought I didn’t like tomatoes for decades. Then I had an heirloom tomato sandwich one hot summer. I learned why produce has a season, that I didn’t like tomatoes because I had eaten them in winter, picked before they were ripe and shipped from Mexico. My farm share teaches me seasons and patience. I have to wait for the best stuff and I have to try vegetables I’ve never bought or seen—kolhrabi and hakurei turnips are new favorites, it turns out I love Swiss chard and really love golden beets, and I cannot wait for garlic scapes to show up in the share every year. True, I’ll never be excited by the abundance of yellow squash, but I’m learning newways to prepare it.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Today, Adam Ingle reads an excerpt from his debut novel Necessary Evil and the Greater Good. Adam's a basement-dwelling, graveyard-shift nerd by night and an aspiring peddler of exorcised creative demons by day. He and his chinchilla live in a tin can on the side of the interstate somewhere in South Carolina.
The word on Necessary Evil and the Greater Good:
For best friends Mestoph and Leviticus the end of the world can’t come fast enough. Mestoph is a demon and troublemaker for Hell Industries, while Leviticus is an angel and cubicle jockey for Heaven, Inc. They might be unlikely friends, but they have something in common – they both hate their jobs.
Unfortunately for them The End is nowhere in sight. The two take matters into their own hands when they come up with a scheme to get themselves kicked out of the Afterlife without spending an eternity in Purgatory. Their misadventure will take them from the tiny town of Truth or Consequences, NM to the highlands of Iceland as they cross paths and pantheons with Neo-Vikings, Greek and Norse Gods, and a Scottish terrier named Sir Reginald Pollywog Newcastle III.
*lifted with love from goodreads
Monday, July 28, 2014
Today, we are honored to kick off another Grab The Lapels blog tour. This time, it's for Caryn Rose's A Whole New Ballgame, and here she is, sharing with us the story of how her love of baseball all started!
Caryn Rose is a Brooklyn-based writer and photographer who documents rock and roll, baseball and urban life. From 2006-2011, she authored the groundbreaking blog metsgrrl.com, covering baseball and the New York Mets. A Whole New Ballgame is her second novel. You can find her at jukeboxgraduate.com and on Twitter at @carynrose and at @metsgrrl during the season. Purchase A Whole New Ballgame HERE!
Friday, July 25, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
(Oliver Serang is an American lecturer at Universität Bremen and a research scientist at Thermo Fisher in Germany, where he swims in the river during snowstorms. He has published papers on computational biology algorithms and is the author of the novel Stay Close, Little Ghost. He can be found at colorfulengineering.org.
Regular content will return next week!)
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Regular content will return next week!)
Monday, July 21, 2014
And second, I’m happy to announce a contest giving away 5 copies of my novel, Stay Close, Little Ghost, and a homemade screen print t-shirt (design and shirt shown below). The design was made in collaboration with German designer Saskia Burghardt, and features an eye-catching mathematical description of eternal love.
To enter, please mark the novel as to-read on GoodReads , and if you win I will be in touch to get your shirt size (shirts are from H&M). It will be screen printed just for you!
Friday, July 18, 2014
3 Stars - Recommended to fans of "memory loss and love" stories, because lord knows this stuff's been done before
Publisher: Gallery Books
Released: (in paperback) January 2014
I'm going to come clean and state that Love Water Memory is not my usual fare. But you know this already. You're scratching your head as you look at this and you're probably wondering what prompted me to pick this up. I know. I know. And you're right. You are absolutely right. It's much too mainstream and the plot is just way too common to have caught my attention on its own.
So a disclaimer: the publicist for this book had reached out to me back in February and after discussing the premise, I felt it had a lot of promise as a group read for TNBBC. For that monthly Author/Reader Discussion series I host. I know juicy, conversation-sparking content when I hear it. So I planned to have the book and its author featured in the group in September. Can you believe September is only two months away? Where the hell has this year gone?! And so, based on my freak-out about the year passing by in a blink of an eye, and because I like to read what TNBBC will be discussing during these author events, I felt that now would probably be a good time to get my read on. And what a read it was.
So many things went through my head as I read it.
First. That title. Love Water Memory. It's got to go. I don't know why, but it really irks me. Maybe it's too much like Eat Pray Love? It just doesn't seem to fit the book well. And it feels waaaay too oversimplified. As if everyone who worked on the book decided "Fuck it. What three words will communicate to the audience exactly what this book is about?" Over on Twitter, I mentioned two alternative titles - "What Water Makes Us Forget" and "The Weight of Water" (that second one is pulled directly from text found within the book, and is actual my favorite of the two). Either of those are preferable to me over its current title.
Second. That cover. What is it with floating, wispy, watery lady images lately? Is this a new thing? Is it something that's got staying power? It's been done. A lot. And ok, so I think I get what they're trying to do - see, the book opens with Lucie, our leading lady, suddenly becoming aware that she is standing knee-deep in the ocean, with no memory of who she is, how she got there, or why she is there. So if you want the cover to play off of that moment, play off of it. But don't have this wispy white dress floating off of a girl half submerged, who appears to be walking deeper into the water. It's just too, I don't know, YA-looking? Maybe that's what's bothering me?
So I call the cover "been-there-done-that". And now I have to call out the plot for the same exact thing. Please keep in mind, I don't read these kind of books on the norm so if I'm saying I know it's been done, isn't that kind of telling?
Not that I'm knocking the story. Listen, I admit to sitting down and reading the entire book in two days. It's engaging and kept me turning the pages. Not because I HAD to turn them, but because I wanted to. I enjoyed being taking on Lucie's journey of self-re-discovery, uncovering who she was and how she had changed after coming out of the disassociative fugue state that day she "awoke" alone and confused standing in the San Francisco Bay. It was interesting, the way we were led along by Lucie as she began to piece together what triggered her mental collapse, learning the secrets her aunt, fiancee, and even she herself had been harboring.
I thought the strangeness, the tension-filled awkwardness between Lucie and her fiancee Grady, who came to collect her from the hospital once she was "found" and of whom she had no recollection, was well written and also quite frustrating. All of the internal talk - the concern and worry they both had but failed to put into words, the tip-toeing around each other for fear of pushing too hard or being rejected - seemed so unnecessary and yet, it was that very tension that Jennie Shortridge built her entire novel around. There were moments where you thought... ok, here we go, finally, some conflict, some "get it all out of your system and feel better for it later" head-on conversation, but every single time, Lucie and Grady, or Lucy and Helen backed off... waaaay off, and defaulted back to their internalization, rationalizing that the timing was not good, or just flat out chickening out. Now, the sadist in me was upset to see all of those opportunities go passing by, but the emotional me could see why Shortridge took that approach. It forced her to flesh the characters out more. It helped you connect with them as their individual stories slowly came to light.
Looking back on it all, Love Water Memory was a pleasant, kick-back-and-just-get-lost-in-the-story read. It required little more than just simply letting go and going with the flow.
Does the story eventually come to a nice, happy, satisfying close? Does Lucie get her memories back? Does she find out what triggered her disassociative fugue and get the closure she so desperately needs and longs for? Do things work out between the new her and her fiancee? Well, you're just going to have to pick up a copy and find out!
And oh the fun we are going to have discussing the ins and outs of it all when we host the book and its author in September! You'll come join us, won't you? Watch out for the giveaway, which will run during the first week of August. Land yourself a free copy so you can read it for yourself and then hit us up come discussion time! I wanna know what you think!