[Audio]Book Review: John Dies at The End

John DiesIf you want an example of an anti-hero David Wong is a pretty good example. He spends most of one chapter, for example, wishing he had followed through with his plans to eat an entire pie in one sitting instead of helping his friend John sort out a crime scene. Class act. To be fair he is repeatedly served a large stack of crap crackers he definitely didn’t ask for and in a clutch he does step up. In the end he does what is needed to be done and starts to put others (well a couple other specific people) ahead of himself. I get ahead of myself though.

John Dies at the End is a book written by David Wong (also the main character) and narrated by Stephen R. Thorn. Thorn does an excellent job of enhancing the literary experience by capturing Wong’s implied attitude so thoroughly in his voice and inflections.

Although I don’t usually seek out curt (and occasionally vulgar) writing I enjoyed the abrupt writing style in this case. Is this the most eloquent book ever? No. Was it entertaining? Oh yeah. Was it an easy read (listen)? Yes. Did it keep me wondering what would happen next? Yes. I could go on with the questions, but what’s the point?

An EXTREMELY watered down synopsis would be that this book is about a guy who ‘survived’ some pretty terrible stuff and is in the process of trying to figure out how to live his life after the fact. It’s told in a series of flash backs as he shares his story with (spoiler) a reporter.

This book will definitely be added to the ‘listen while working’ list. Since it’s a series of anecdotes it’s easy to zone in and out and not miss to much. Although I’m sure the abrupt ending will bug me every time I reach it. ~ Q

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[Audio]Book Review: Bossypants

BossypantsTina Fey, what can I say? I’ve always enjoyed the stuff she was in, but for whatever I didn’t put two and two together to realize she writes a lot of her material. If you are looking for a quick paced anecdotal walk through a comedians life this one is definitely worth the read. If you are looking for a book about a person who has climbed to the top of their field it’s worth the read. Or perhaps you’re looking for a book about how a woman juggles career and kids, this touches that as well.

I would recommend this book to any of my friends. If you happen to get the audiobook you get the added bonus of Tina Fey actually reading it. I usually enjoy when authors read their own work. Sometimes emphasis can get misinterpreted from the author’s intention to the narrators performance. When the author reads it themselves the intent is clear. Also Fey’s timing that makes her such a great performer/writer enhances the book experience.

Perhaps the reason I enjoyed this book so much was that it didn’t feel like a biography (or autobiography in this case). I was just being told a series of stories, an anthology if you will, that all happened to be about the very real Fey (as opposed to fae, the mythical fairy creatures). If all of my nonficition books I read this year are as enjoyable as this was I wont have any issues keeping my resolution to read three. Obviously I’m 1/3 of the way there with this little gold nugget.

Until next time
~ Q

[Audio]Book review: 1408

I’ve finished 1408, it was both written and narrated by Stephen King. It’s one of his short stories and I came away from it quite confused. However to preface: my sister and I watched this movie years back so I thought I might have some vague sense of what would happen. I wont lie, I don’t remember the movie but what I do remember doesn’t quite jive with what I listened to. There is breaking news for you, a movie not precisely following the source material.

Sadly I didn’t listen to this version, are there 13 other dark tales about the room and I just missed them?? I’ll need to look into that.

I started listening to this book (one that I knew would be suspenseful in the least if not flat out scary) on a night I was walking to a campfire. It was part of a local festival to have a campfire (the Storytelling festival talked about in the Once Upon a Time…. post) and it didn’t start until 9 or so. As a result it was fully night and I was walking alone to the park listening to this story. Going to the campfire wasn’t so bad. Coming back it was worse. It was even later, the story was more developed and I have an over active imagination. A great combination for a restful slumber.

Anyway, my poor life choices aside, I enjoyed the story. Like I said it wasn’t how I remembered. The first 40-ish percent of the book was between the main character, Mike Enslin, and the Hotel Dolphin’s  manager, Mr. Olin. The manager was trying to convince Enslin, a writer whose specialty is to write nonfiction stories about his experiences in ‘haunted’ location, not to stay in the room. Well not so much convince, he’d given up that hope. No, he was just pressing on the writer the facts associated with the room (12 suicides and 18 natural deaths). He also made it clear that since the writer didn’t believe in anything (no angles or god, spirits or demons) he was at a higher risk to the room.

Olin successfully freaked out Enslin before then he made his way up to the room. So much so that Enslin almost turns back, but then the elevator door closes and he’s back on track to enter the room. While in the room he starts to lose it and I start to become unable to follow the story completely. Mainly because there would be random sentences thrown in as reflection. By that I mean there was a line about how ‘Mike put the recorder down for a moment. Everything from that moment on would be indistinguishable when he re-listened to the tape.’ So for moments they would jump ahead to when Enslin was out of the room and thinking back on his time in the room.

I’m still not clear on what was wrong with the room. I think that’s rather the point and on par for Stephen King. To be fair though, I haven’t read him before, just things I’ve heard along the way. With such a build up of the creepiness surrounding the room the rest of the story was rather tame. If you can call self-immolation tame. However after reading this book, and the unsettled-ness it left me with I would like to read more Stephen King. That is in conjunction of my love for the show Haven, which was based off of a short story, The Colorado Kid. Also a fun fact, the show incorporates lots of Stephen King references from his other books too. So once reading him more I might get the extra joke, fun times. In the Colorado Kid too, you never really find out what happened and are left wondering always. Just like in 1408.

[Audio]Book Review: The Ghosts of Ragged-Ass Gulch

I’m an audible subscriber and I realized I have a LOT of books in my library that I haven’t listened to. So this week I decided to compile them all onto my iPod and make a reading list. I’ve just finished the first book on the list: The Ghosts of Ragged-Ass Gulch by Bill Pronzini, narrated by Nick Sullivan. As I listened to it I was trying to figure out why I had bought it. Then I remembered it was a member bonus and was a bit relieved. It’s not that the story was bad, it just wasn’t very good. Or more accurately it didn’t really leave me with anything. It was kind of like lukewarm water. Not warm enough to make something you want and not cold enough to be refreshing. I wasn’t overly fond of the narrator though. If there is such a thing as ‘go to voices’ for characters he hit them all. I don’t feel like he had the widest range for voices, so he had to do that. Like the deep gruff voice for an older man even though that might not fit the character.

The story was about a detective who is hired to find out who killed a man. The victim was burnt in his house a short time after a series of buildings were burned down in Ragged-Ass Gulch. The victim was part of a development company that wanted to convert Gulch into a tourist trap of a ghost town. The citizens of Gulch didn’t take kindly to the idea. The detective’s approach was to re-access the burned down buildings. The sheriff had said it was incidental but the detective discovered it was arson. He deduced (as had the Monroe company and Monroe’s insurance company) that perhaps the Gulchers were trying to scare of the company from buying the land by first burning the buildings and then one of their own homes. Incidentally the man wasn’t suppose to be home at the time, so they weren’t outright murderers, I suppose.

The nice thing about this story is that it was only about an hour and a half long. Wasn’t a real commitment to listen to it. (Contrarily perhaps that’s why it wasn’t that good too. There wasn’t time to really develop much of story.) Just passed the time while I designed some projects. However it did make me a bit more paranoid. As I was listening I was at work with my ear phones in and I kept hearing voices (outside the phones) despite being the only one at work. Not good for someone who has an overactive imagination. I convinced myself it was just a sub track or something (kind of like the sound you could get if you recorded over a cassette tape too many times) and ignored it. When in doubt, ignore it.

This book had a dysfunctional romance, wordplay, suspense and mystery. If you have time to kill you could do worse than reading Ragged-Ass Gulch.

Ciao ~ Q

[Audio]Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey

It was my mistake to listen to Fifty Shades of Grey on a whim. I had been hearing the title mentioned a lot and seeing it in stores on stands. I decided to see what the hubbub was about myself with out actually seeing what the book was about. A few chapters in I was having the strangest sense of deja vu, like I’d heard themes of this story before. That’s when I looked the book up and discovered it was a twilight based story turned erotic. Not really my cup of tea.

I didn’t know it was possible for something to be worse than Twilight, but this just might be it. [Before you judge this post as just a person hating on the Twilight series I’ve read them and have seen the movies. Once the movies came out it really put it in its parody place in my brain. So now if I watch or read them (they’re an easy listen while working on projects) it’s always half a joke now.]

Perhaps the story gets better but I wont be finding out. If I must suffer through Anastasia’s inner dialogue I wont do it with Battoe’s voice in my head. Her inflections were too pointed and obvious to make them feel genuine and it made me dislike the main character. Not the sort of thing you need in addition to the repetitive sentiment (how many times in the first chapter alone did she say how gorgeous Grey was – and in the same exact way. If you are going to repeat an idea over an over again at least mix it up a little for the reader. Don’t just flat out say Oh he’s so gorgeous or he’s so beautiful. It makes the character seem unimaginative.) This mixed with overtly obvious attempts to make the character seem witty “I must be the color of the communist manifesto” or her use of Medulla oblongata just doesn’t work (I know I flippantly use the phrase in my head all the time). There may be some characters that could get away with thinking/saying this, but I don’t think any of them exist in this story.

As a side note, I’m sick of the magical ‘electrical current’ of connection between two people. Either find another way to express the idea or move on. Although it’s not entirely EL James fault that I’ve read several books that use that term recently, but she used it too so it is fair game.–I must give James her props though. She’s making a crap ton of money…so I guess she wins in the end.–

This may be harsh but considering how many times I rolled my eyes/cringed during the first few chapters I can’t bring myself to care. With that being said, on to another book which I might accidentally enjoy. Until next time~Q