September 3, 2015 · 9:13 am
Eric by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Goodreads doesn’t aptly display the cover of this book, so let me describe it. It has “Faust” written in normal typography, crossed out with fat red marker and “Eric” written in its place. And that perfectly well sets you up for this misguided teenager’s wish-fulfillment disaster.
As always, Pratchett is insightful and hilarious. This time he takes on Homer, which not enough authors are brave enough to do. This is the line that made me love the book: “He tried to remember what little he knew of classical history, but it was just a confusion of battles, one-eyed giants and women launching thousands of ships with their faces.”
Anyway, this short little jaunt is about a jerky prepubescent teenager, Eric, who manages to call up the hapless/cowardly/useless wizard Rincewind, convinced Rincewind is a demon who can grant wishes. Eric makes wishes–bad ones, of course, or rather traditional ones that come to bad ends–and much to his surprise, Rincewind hurtles him toward it. Or at least, seems to.
Goethe, Homer, and Dante all get a thorough Pratchett treatment, and it’s a delight. Plus it’s only about 200 pages, so it’s a quick read. You’ll be giggling right through bedtime.
That old blind classical guy doesn’t get teased enough, I say. Pratchett to the rescue!
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July 9, 2015 · 9:19 am
Bossypants by Tina Fey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m late to the Bossypants party, but luckily Tina Fey knows how to keep the party thumpin’. Bossypants is hilarious, smart, and deeply insightful. But mostly it’s hilarious.
Bossypants is less a biography and more a brilliant stream-of-consciousness into the life of Hollywood-stomping Fey. It’s loosely organized by periods in her life, with a brief bit on her childhood, including irreverent stories about who she met on the first day of school, all the way up into her ongoing surprise that “30 Rock” turned out to be a sleeper hit. She’s humble about her achievements, making Fey seem even more like the person you’d most like to have a beer with. This sounds stupid, but she really is “just like everyone else,” and it seems that maybe a little of that midwestern awareness of the ridiculousness of NYC culture/TV writing insanity is what makes her brand of humor so fresh and entertaining. She’s the girl next door who makes you laugh so hard you nearly pee.
But just because it’s funny—and it IS funny, the kind of funny that’ll have you tapping your husband on the shoulder at midnight to read “just one more line” aloud—doesn’t mean this is an idle book. Fey wraps her humor around sometimes biting criticism, particularly about gender roles. She’s a feminist icon for a reason, and she’s very aware of the limitations (and benefits) of being a woman who is also funny.
The only criticism I have is that I wish there were more, particularly about the writing process for “Mean Girls,” the smash-success movie about teenage girls’ social structure that has, for me at least, left lasting ripples. There’s a scant reference to it, with a lot more time devoted to “30 Rock,” which I have been negligent about seeing (I’ll be fixing that soon).
More, Ms. Fey, always more. I love you and can’t wait for more.
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April 30, 2015 · 9:16 am
Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It’s only the end of April and I think I can safely say I have found my favorite book of the year. Cat Out of Hell is dryly hilarious, surprising, riveting, and–most of all–utterly charming.
It’s a quick read featuring an unlikely protagonist and a believable-if-unexpected villain. Alec is a librarian who has just lost his wife and retired (rather early, by American standards) from his job. While trying to distract himself from his grief, he is sent a curious set of documents…about a talking cat. Alec is thrown, quite unwillingly and yet headlong, into a great grisly mystery dating back at least a hundred years.
The story format itself is unique: it is a combination of diary-ish entries, descriptions of photos and audio files, email exchanges, attempted screenplays, and at least one incidence of “emiaow”–cat telepathic communications, of course. Utterly charming, as I said.
One challenge for some readers may be that it is Very British, with absolutely no Harry Potter-like accommodations for American readers. That means you’ll just have to accept (or Google) the many Britishisms and pop culture references, or miss out on a lot of the fun. The sense of humor is also resolutely British in flavor, with our artless protagonist feeling a little bad about winning even when he is completely justified. It’s so incredibly, delightfully, downplayed.
Cat lovers will adore this book for its adroit insight into the feline mind, and cat haters will walk away certain they are correct to dislike our independent little companions. (Oh, dog lovers, don’t worry, there are some nice bits for you, too.) I can’t recommend it enough!
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April 14, 2015 · 9:22 am
Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny is now available for purchase on Amazon for Kindle and in print! This zombie adventure is not for the faint of heart–or the humorless.
Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny is available RIGHT NOW on Amazon for Kindle and in print!
Don’t you want to know—would you survive the zombie apocalypse? Undead Rising: Decide Your Destiny slams you into New York City just as it is struck by a zombie outbreak, leaving you to decide how to survive when your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and strangers join the undead. With more than 45 different scenarios, it’s tough to survive, but even when you die, sometimes you become a zombie—opening up new, monstrous options, including eating celebrities, being used as a genetic experiment, and exploring the Mariana trench. Every time you read “Undead Rising” you have the chance to change your destiny—but every scenario will leave you flipping pages to try again.
Note: This isn’t a kids’ adventure. I recommend it for older teens and adults who need a dose of nostalgia, a little bit of creepiness, and some laughs.
Aw yeah, look at that awesome book cover! Zombies are coming for YOU!