Monday, May 10, 2010

My Hair Hurts, Can Hair Hurt?

Exercise and me are not friends. Way back in the day when I was a karate student and beat the living hell out of most people, I was a munchkin of peak physical condition. Then college happened and the only thing that got a workout regularly were my fingers typing up papers. So obviously I'm kinda out of shape and my family has decided to whip me into shape this summer, through violence if necessary. My brother keeps monitoring everything I eat and my mom has me working out with her at the gym. I realize that they are doing this because they love me (except my brother, he's doing it because he finds it entertaining) but oh why does getting back in shape have to hurt so much?! Three miles on the bike, five or six laps around the track and two hundred crunches. Owwww. My aches have aches, I am a woeful Cynic:

Cue up the sad violins!

Anyway, aside from that today was a dull one. Got a job application from Barnes and Noble so I can get some money whilst I internship, since judging by the complete lack of response there's not much point in opening a Sugary Cynicism store. Also I showed my brother Dark City for the first time and he loved it. It's seriously a great movie, but hard to explain without spoiling it. Basically there's this guy John Murdoch who wakes up in a bathtub with no idea who he is or what the balls is going on. The audience is in the dark as much as he is and the fun of the movie is watching the plot unravel as Murdoch may or may not be a murderer, insane, or some kind of god. Even after you watch it and unravel the mystery, it's a great movie to watch with people who've never seen it. I love showing my brother movies like that, like The Usual Suspects and such. He puzzles it out, makes suppositions and it's like watching the movie for the first time and getting all wrapped up in it again. Anyway, definitely for sure check it out if you've never seen it, but be sure to get the Director's Cut, which adds in a ton of great footage and does away with an opening monologue that literally spoils the whole damn movie.

So generally today would be Music Monday but I've been getting my bookworm on so I'm shaking things up (shock) and reviewing some books I've been reading. First off, even though I usually just blab on about movies, I am a huge bookworm. How huge? (that's what she said) I had about a month off for winter break this year, I read eleven and a half books. That huge. My books of choice are extremely nerdy and usually Young Adult Fantasy, because I am a dork and because in this one semester alone (not year, but SEMESTER) I've read more than half of everything Shakespeare ever wrote with professional New Historicist criticisms, an Austen, a Hardy, an Eliot, some Woolf and Joyce, a Bronte (the crazy Bronte), and a Dickens in a pear tree. So over break I turn my brain off and read some good old fashioned young adult garbage. Here's three I'm working on:

1. The Morpheus Road, by DJ McHale. Basically a psychological thriller for munchkins. I used to love McHale's Pendragon series when it was still going but it got so redundant and boring that I lost interest later on. I figured since he was doing something fresh I should check it out. It tells the story of 16 year old Marshall Seaver and the sudden, disturbing haunting he has to deal with in the form of Gravedigger, a comic book character he invented that seems to have come to life and wants to kill him, meanwhile, his best friend is missing and these events are somehow tied together. The bad: The story takes awhile to get started and things move pretty slow at first, also he sets this story in the same town as the Pendragon series and we get a lot of cute nods to Pendragon that become not-so-cute really fast, finally Marshall does not sound 16. In Pendragon, the main character started out as a 14 year old who sounded way too old for his age, but this resolved itself quickly because he dealt with situations that would make him wise beyond his years. Now we've got a 16 year old that sounds like he's 12. I get that he's supposed to be a geek but there's a line between childish and developmentally challenged. The good: once it starts moving, it MOVES, the tension is ratcheted up to 11 and refuses to come down, solid writing, also the horror bits, while not gory, are pretty damn spooky. Maybe I'm just a wimp but this book pretty much played on every "home alone with the lights off" fear I've ever harbored in my life. Overall it's a strong beginning to what will apparently be a trilogy. It stands well on its own while leaving threads dangling for the next installment.

2. Whitechapel Gods, by S.M. Peters (apparently initial names are a thing now). I'm still working on this one. It's an enjoyable piece of Steampunk pulp centering on an alternate Victorian Age in which this dude called the baron created two machine gods called Grandfather Clock and Mama Engine who take over Whitechapel and fence it off from the rest of England. Whitechapel is a sucky place to be, machine-dudes are everywhere, everything is coated in ash and people are starting to grow machine parts out of their body. But there is a resistance growing and at the heart of it is Oliver Sumner, a young man who was born in Whitechapel and knows nothing about the outside world. There are ton of characters and plot threads going on as everyone betrays everyone else and works a secret agenda. The bad: characters are pretty much walking cliches, there's not a whole lot of development. Also the orphan boy character is named Oliver >.< c'mon. The good: the story is interesting and Peters has done an excellent job of building a unique and immersive world. Can't wait to see how this sucker ends.

3. Stoneheart, by Charlie Fletcher. I've already read this one but am re-reading because the whole trilogy is just awesome. It's about a boy named George who accidentally sets off a war between all the statues in London (which is apparently a crap-ton of statues). He's revealed to have a key role in stopping this war that's unseen by the rest of the world, and along for the ride is a girl named Edie who is a "glint" which means she too can see the statues running around, and a cool as hell World War I statue simply called The Gunner. They run around London collecting clues and whatnot and fighting evil statues known as taints. The writing is solid all the way through, the characters are fleshed out and likable and the book never loses pace, even while explaining things. You can also tell Fletcher ran around London, looking at every damn statue because it shows through in the writing. It's a strong story on it's own but right after you want to read the rest (and they are just as good). My one quibble is that Fletcher knows The Gunner is his coolest character and tries to ratchet up the tension by fake-out killing him off, which is a punch to the gut...the first time. But he does it again, and again and again and even more in the other novels. EITHER KILL THE BASTARD OR QUIT SCREWING WITH THE READER! Still, that's like literally my only problem with this book.

And that's just about all the literary geekiness I can handle in one night. See you tomorrow for more job searching, more ranting and more shameless innuendo as we count down to 100 posts!

John Murdoch: "When was the last time you remember doing something during the day?"

Inspector Frank Bumstead: "What do you mean?"

John Murdoch: "I just mean during the day. Daylight. When was the last time you remember seeing it? And I'm not talking about some distant, half-forgotten childhood memory, I mean like yesterday. Last week. Can you come up with a single memory? You can't, can you? You know something, I don't think the sun even... exists... in this place. 'Cause I've been up for hours, and hours, and hours, and the night never ends here." - Rufus Sewell and Wiliam Hurt, Dark City


  1. I would enjoy more book reviews, as I am a YA Fantasy/Sci Fi nerd myself.

    Any other books you'd recommend?

    (This is Rachael. The non-Shakespearean one.)

  2. Ok, can I just add that your awesomeness is growing? I mean, seriously? Book reviews from my favorite genres?! All I can say is, Glen Cook's The Black Company. Must. Read.

    And btw, I've seen your pictures and videos of yourself. What the hell do you mean you need to get back in shape? I like your shape! (And I'm trying not to be creepy when I say that. Uh, fail?)

  3. hey rachael! There's like a bazillion other books I could recommend, for starters: Sabriel by Garth Nix, Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen and Skullduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. How's that for a start?

    Jacob: I will be sure to check out Black Company, you creepy bastard you. Also, in terms of the shape thing, it's less about losing weight and more about the fact that I have less endurance than a sixty-year old smoker and college life has made me a lifetime member of taco bell :p

  4. Seriously, go John Murdoch.


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