Sunday, 29 September 2013

White Horse - Alex Adams

I hesitate to write about White Horse, because I didn't actually finish it. It came right before my reading and enthusiasm-of-any-sort slump, and I'm not sure whether I hated it so much because I was starting to Whomp, or if I started to Whomp because I hated it so much. Chicken and egg, really.

I do know, at least, that the book played a sizable part in my hatred of it. Because, while the story was cool and I was motivated by the mystery to keep turning the pages, the writing forced me to put it down. Here's the blurb because I can't be bothered:

Thirty-year-old Zoe leads an ordinary life until the end of the world arrives. She is cleaning cages and floors at Pope Pharmaceuticals when the president of the United States announces that human beings are no longer a viable species. When Zoe realizes that everyone she loves is disappearing, she starts running. Scared and alone in a shockingly changed world, she embarks on a remarkable journey of survival and redemption. Along the way, Zoe comes to see that humans are defined not by their genetic code, but rather by their actions and choices. White Horse offers hope for a broken world, where love can lead to the most unexpected places.

We alternate between Then and Now, learning -- through Zoe -- about the events that lead up to this particular apocalypse and how humans are dealing with the aftermath. I wanted to find out what happened to cause the catastrophe, I wanted to see the full scope of what the world had become, and that's where the anger came from: all of the interesting details were buried in weak similes beyond counting. Seriously, every other sentence. And now I'm angry at myself for not writing any of them down. I did note that even the strands of writing without similes weren't exactly breathtaking, including such gems as "How do you file a restraining order against sadness?"

The silver lining on this bummer is that White Horse is a debut novel and the first in a trilogy. I think the simile attacks come from a lack of confidence, like when someone tells a story and ends every sentence with "You know?" or an upward inflection. With time, maybe Adams will be able to get out the way and just show the readers this world she's created, without over explaining ever detail. Not sure I'll be the one to find that out, though.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Sharp Objects - Gillian Flynn

Hold the phone, stop the presses, ready your cliches: I finished a book. 

Sharp Objects is the first novel by Gillian Flynn, of Gone Girl super-success. It turns out Flynn understood how to sustain suspense that's almost physically uncomfortable for an indecent number of pages (I got this out of the library Friday night and finished it Saturday. And I suck at reading lately) from the start.

Camille Preaker is a reporter in Chicago who has an editor named Curry. Curry, of course, is the best part of the book.

Though she can't seem to reach the level of reporting she strives for lately, Frank Curry sees potential in Camille. Because of this, and because the story's happening in her hometown, Curry assigns Camille to cover a ...

Weirdly, she's not as excited as Sherlock would be.

Really, it's one murder and one abduction, both of preteen girls. So, yeah. Fun times for all.

Flynn's writing got better by the time Gone Girl came along (went?). Here, she's still got some first-time-writer jitters. But the are so minor. And the story is so insane that you hardly notice those limp similes I find so upsetting. (Sharp Objects is huh-way better than another debut novel I've recently read [watch out, White Horse. I'm coming for you, internet-style {internet-style means GIFs}]). But her characters are great, entertainment-wise. (The mom, you guys.)

Sharp Objects is upsetting and suspenseful and what more do you want. All told, a fun RIP read.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Movie Enthusiast: Pulse

The premise: "Japanese university students investigate a series of suicides linked to an Internet Web cam that promises visitors the chance to interact with the dead."

The genre boxes: Supernatural horror

The reaction: The eyes. Oh God, the eyes.

The part where I say more things about it: This was so much fun. It checked all the boxes for a great horror movie: it was atmospheric, it had silly bits, it had "Wait! No, stop. I don't actually want to watch this any more" moments. It even had some great, classic horror movie music. And it didn't keep me up or stay with me in a here-I-am-folding-laundry-when-suddenly-TERROR way. 

Which, to clarify, is a good thing. 

Some parts seemed over the top, acting-wise, but hey. It's horror. It's how they do. And the story was a great jumping off point for the scares.

NB: If you or someone in listening range of this movie has tinnitus, be aware that there's a high-pitched hum that plays through probably 80% of the movie. Neil (this house's tinnitus sufferer) says that regular ear plugs cut out most of the badness, but some parts are still pretty intense.

The verdict: A great movie for RIP season. Watch it if you're looking for some scares with a dash of quirk and you don't want to have to sleep with the light on, holding a chef's knife. Because that's just dangerous. Pulse was a thoroughly satisfying horror movie without being oppressively terrifying. Humongous thanks to Kayleigh M at Nylon Admiral for the recommendation. All the candy corn for you.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Whomps

If Winston Churchill had a "black dog," these are a black puppy. They're what Woody Allen would probably call a good day.

They're what will be referred to, herein, as the Whomps. They're not as serious as the feelings felt by Winston and Woody, they're (I'm betting) more often accompanied by internal trombone music, but they're unpleasant. They linger, and they take a thing you enjoy and make you not care about it. (I'm sorry I've been away, internet.)

The Whomps are when something in your life is making you frustrated and sad, and your Whomp-brain won't let you forget about that one thing. You'll be happily chopping things for dinner, say, when suddenly

Whomp, you remember you should be frustrated.

You'll pick up a book, but instead

Whomp, you decide infinity episodes of Community might be more your speed.

But the Whomps, like all things, will pass. One day you'll pick up that book you've been avoiding and it'll turn out to be Oryx and Crake. 

And, while you were Whomping, maybe you discovered a bountiful GIF mine.

When is that not useful?

Whomps will come and whomps will go, as will the people and things causing them, but GIFs? GIFs are forever.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

R.I.P.: A blog rises from the grave


If internet-sanctioned horror reading won't bring this blog back from the dead, nothing will.

It's September first, and that means it's time for the annual R.I.P. reading challenge. Hosted by
Stainless Steel Droppings, the idea is to read and watch a whole mess of horror, mystery,
suspense, dark fantasy, etc over September and October. There are tiers of challenges, and, though it may be silly after such a drought of a summer, I'm going to go for Peril the First (read four books). 

I'll also be doing Peril on the Screen (self explanatory). I love horror movies, even though I generally suck at watching them. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. Some examples of favourites: The Omen, because seriously, so good. In every way. Also, Gregory Peck. The Grudge, because it really, truly succeeded in scaring the popcorn right out of my bowl. (If I had popcorn when I watched it the first time. I don't remember. I may have blocked it out.) I'd love to see some Japanese horror, but I don't know where to start or where to find it. But yes, your suggestions, give them to me.

And, seeing as the 24 Hour Readathon is on October 12, Peril of the Short Story might make it in there, too.

"But tell us about the actual books," you say. Likely, four (fingers crossed) from among these:

We shall see.

ETA: If you are also looking for some horror films to watch this autumn (who isn't?), Kayleigh M over at Nylon Admiral just gave some very exciting recommendations in the comment section of her RIP VIII post