Remainder Bin

Well this is embarrassing. I began this post in mid-June. Let’s just wrap it up and move on, shall we? These were the books that I read at the end of last year. Woots.


I decided to track down Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas after having my love of Ralph Steadman stoked by the documentary For No Good Reason.

Quick rundown there is that Ralph Steadman is a brilliant satirical cartoonist from the British realm who teamed with Thompson to illustrate many of the gonzo journalist’s pieces during his most (in)famous writing period. Steadman’s art is deliciously idiosyncratic and instantaneously recognizable. For full disclosure, I first fell in love with his artwork not through Thompson but by the fact that Steadman designs all the label art for one of my favorite breweries, Flying Dog.

Somehow, I believe that both Thompson and Steadman would find this alcoholically appropriate.

Anyway, Johnny Depp, who played Thompson in the movie version of this book, did the documentary on Steadman. I watched it, loved it, couldn’t remember why I hated the movie, rented it, remembered why I hated the movie, and then decided to read the book.

I actually found it very difficult to put down the book. I also found it very difficult not to purchase my own copy before I had even finished the copy I borrowed from the library.

Whereas the movie is simply too much of a sensory overload, IMHO, the book was a compelling guidebook to Thompson’s “gonzo” journalistic experiments. His narcissistic desire to not just write about the events transpiring (as a good journalist should do) but to become the main story (as a good narcissist should do) shines in full intoxicated glory with this book. I was equal parts intrigued and horrified as to how his injection into said events would play out…not to mention appalled and slightly in awe of how the man continued to function in any sort of fashion without completely, pardon the slang, losing his shit from all the alcohol and drugs he consumed.

And while I don’t necessarily think that his alteration of reporting to include the reporter ultimately had a positive impact on the field, I must admit that I found his regaling to be almost hypnotic. Needless to say, during my last visit to San Francisco, I picked up a copy of this for my collection from City Lights (best bookstore EVAR). I’ve also added several more of Thompson’s books to my list to find at the library. We’ll see if I ever follow up there.

Final Verdict: I bought the book. Enough said.


I don’t really have all that much to say about Lori Rader-Day’s The Black Hour. I didn’t really find it all that compelling a read. Neither did I find the characters all that compelling. There were intriguing ideas

BookBin2014: The Silkworm


It looks like this is the year when I rediscover J.K. Rowling, eh? I’ve already reviewed The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo’s Calling this year, and obviously enjoyed them enough that I wanted to continue reading Rowling’s more adult fare. I have to admit that I wasn’t quite prepared to jump into her latest offering, The Silkworm, just yet. However, when the library emails to inform you that you’re next in line for a popular book you’ve placed on hold? You make yourself ready.

As with The Cuckoo’s Calling, this is another book Rowling wrote under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, and another book featuring the private detective Cormoran Strike. Again, I have to say that I love Rowling’s ability to create holistically stimulating worlds for her characters and, subsequently, her readers. I love falling into the pages of these books, walking alongside these characters. I think Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacott are delightful and I enjoy every moment I’ve gotten to spend with them thus far. I admittedly find some of the secondary characters irritating, but that’s life, innit? The core is compelling, and that’s what matters most.

I also enjoyed the plot of this novel a bit more than the first Cormoran Strike story. Much darker than the first story. Much more gruesome and sinister. This story focuses on the fate of an out-of-favor author who goes missing, only to turn up murdered in a manner similar to the fate of the protagonist in his latest book. With only a select group of people having seen said manuscript, it’s up to Strike and Ellacott to shake away the chaff and find the culprit.

Let’s drag out the dead horse that I usually beat at this point regarding mystery novels. All together now: “Not my cuppa.” Fine. I think they might at least be growing on me…or at least, Rowling’s take on the genre is wearing me down. This story was a lot less anticlimactic in its reveal than I found the reveal to be for The Cuckoo’s Calling. I still felt slightly “meh” regarding this reveal (perhaps because I had started to pick up on where the story was heading and why), but more for my own personal mystery aversion. Objectively, Rowling pulled together a fantastic story. Also, she’s quite the twisted sister. Me gusta. There were a couple of particularly vicious reveals that either made me newly appreciative of her obvious internal darkness or laugh as a result of my own gallows humor. Rowling continues to impress me with her authorial acumen to a point where, even when I don’t necessarily enjoy the genre, I’m still going to willingly go along for the ride because I know the driver is so impressively skilled.

Final Verdict: Even though I wasn’t quite prepared to fall down the mystery novel rabbit hole once again, Rowling made it easy for me to follow her by providing me with another riveting visit to yet another one of her skillfully built worlds. Actually, I think I enjoyed this one enough that I could see it finding its way into my library. Definitely looking forward to the next Cormoran Strike tale!

BookBin2014: Batwoman Volume 4: This Blood Is Thick


I’m quite sad that I am here to give a rather lackluster review to my latest adventure with Kate Kane. Perhaps it’s because the last collection was, by far, the best of the best since Batwoman’s “New 52” relaunch. After all, it’s kind of hard to top Batwoman partnering with Wonder Woman. Also, Williams was back as the artist, which you all know delights me to no end. And both Williams and Blackman were fiercely on-point when it came to that collection’s story arc. Simply put, the third collection was perfection, IMHO.

The fourth volume, This Blood Is Thick, isn’t awful (that’s such backhanded praise, no?). Something about it, however, didn’t set well with me. Perhaps it had more to do with my knowledge of the behind-the-scenes issues. As fans know, this was Williams and Blackman’s last run as Batwoman’s authors. She’s now in another’s hands, with Williams and Blackman not even concluding the cliffhanger on which this collection ends. It’s a good cliffhanger, to be sure…but that just makes it all the worse. Dance with the one who brought you, DC. They brought the Lady Kane to this precipice. They should have been the ones allowed to lead her over the edge.

But I digress.

Perhaps it also was because Batwoman actually doesn’t get all that much air time in this collection. Surprisingly, for being the titular character, she’s almost relegated to supporting cast a lot of the time. That’s not necessarily terrible, since many of the supporting characters in Batwoman’s world are pretty ace…but I still would like my fair share of time with the star of the show. Also, I didn’t really like the injection of Batman villains into Batwoman’s storyline. I get why they’re there, but I have always enjoyed that Batwoman kind of exists in her own…what? Parallel universe to Batman and the rest of the Bat family? They don’t really intersect all that often (although Batgirl got a full-on taste of Batwoman’s mad skills a while back). I like that. But this time, seeing Batwoman going up against Batman foes like Mr. Freeze and Bane? I don’t know anything about these characters…and I don’t care to. They aren’t Batwoman characters. So GTFO.

Says the one who went crazy over Wonder Woman’s appearance in the last collection.

Finally, though, it really is the ending that really pissed me off with this collection. Again, Williams and Blackman were cut off at the knees here. They’d already written Issue 25 (the continuation of where this collection ended) and were beginning to plan out Issue 26, which would have ended the arc of this particular Batwoman run. They knew where all the characters were going to end up, they knew how they were going to conclude the story…and now? Now we’re never going to get their ending. And that sucks. Seriously, I reached the last page and felt oh so frustrated and not the least bit furious. Really? That’s it? That’s how you wanna roll with this, DC Comics? Lame.

Final Verdict: All that being said, I’m keeping this in my collection. I don’t think that it was so terrible that I don’t want to own it anymore. I am, however, very disheartened by the truncated whimper on which Williams and Blackman have gone out with Batwoman. This is the last batch of their comics, and the next collection will mark the arrival of the new Weaver of Tales for the Lady Kane, Marc Andreyko. I’m not sure what to expect with the next collection, but I love the character enough that I’m willing to give it a proper chance to impress me. All I have to say is don’t blow this, Andreyko. I don’t take kindly to people fumbling my fandoms.

BookBin2014: Scream Deconstructed: An Unauthorized Analysis


This is going to be a really short review because: A) this book isn’t going to be for everyone; and B) my feelings for the book are probably already very obvious to those who know me. Lucky you, denizens.

I bought the Kindle version of Scott Kessinger’s Scream Deconstructed: An Unauthorized Analysis completely on a whim (darn easy 1-click Amazon shopping option). Why? Because I love Scream.

You know, in case you haven’t noticed that before in all the myriad posts I’ve dedicated to banging on about this particular movie/franchise.

/ end sarcasm

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that, if I had to choose one horror movie I’ve seen…just one…that would be my default horror movie from now until forever? Scream would be in the elite list of five from which I would struggle to make my final selection. I’ll let you try to figure out what the other four are.

Do I love the rest of the franchise as much? Not by a long shot. That first film comprised some bit of magic that was so precious and rare that it simply could not be recaptured for the sequels. But I find things to appreciate about the other movies. Well, maybe not the fourth one. I do believe I have already made my feelings about Scream 4 very clear.

Although, to be honest, after reading Kessinger’s analyses of the fourth movie, I was intrigued and impressed enough by his thoughts that I rented the movie to give it a fair shake at perhaps showing me what it showed him. I admittedly still didn’t see what he saw (and still saw a depressingly disappointing addition to the trials and tribulations of Woodsboro’s sauciest survivors), but I still appreciate what he sees in this film and value his opinion.

All that being said, I can’t recommend this book to everyone…or to most people, for that matter. If you don’t like the movies, then this is not a book for you. It’s definitely only for the truly obsessed. Like yours truly. However, if you do love, or even just really really like, Scream and its sequels? Then I can’t recommend this book enough.

Final Verdict: Staying on my Kindle. It’s short, it’s sweet, it’s got some great analyses, even if I don’t always agree 100 percent, and I imagine I will be going back to peruse this one every now and again. Whether or not that means I’ll ever give Scream 4 another go is a completely different story…

BookBin2014: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend


Before you even ask, no. I have never seen a Rin Tin Tin movie. I have never seen a Rin Tin Tin show. I didn’t even know what the original Rin Tin Tin looked like until I read this book (or how different German Shepherds used to look in comparison to how they look now). However, these facts speak to the illustrious ubiquity of this dog in such a way that I felt compelled to borrow Susan Orlean’s Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend from the library when I saw it. I don’t know about in other countries, but here in the United States, the name Rin Tin Tin is so entrenched in the American pop culture lexicon that I’m absolutely certain that there are myriad others, just like me, who have never once seen any Rin Tin Tin movie or show, and yet know precisely who Rinty is.

For those who might not know, Rin Tin Tin is a German Shepherd (or Alsatian, as I believe the breed is called in some other countries) of epic entertainment proportions. I use “is” rather than the past tense, even though the original Rinty has been dead for many years, because just like other famous dogs

BookBin2014: Weekends with Daisy


Speaking of books that suckered me into reading them because of their cover art, that’s precisely what happened when I saw this painfully adorable puppy dog punim staring out at me from the cover of Sharron Kahn Luttrell’s book Weekends with Daisy.

Seriously, if you ever want to sell me anything, tell me anything, convince me of anything, or just get my general attention, put a dog on it (to paraphrase Portlandia).

And so it went with Daisy. I couldn’t resist her cute doggy smile or wanting to know the story behind it. What makes her more special than any other adorable pooch? She’s a service dog. Luttrell’s book is all about Daisy’s training through a program in which inmates do the bulk of the command training, and “outside” volunteers take the dogs for the weekend, to work on acclimating them to the sensory overload of life outside prison walls.

As cute as Daisy is and as laudable as this program is, I have to admit that I considered quitting this book after only a few chapters, simply because I found Luttrell too…judgy. Even before she learned why Keith, the inmate responsible for Daisy’s weekday training and care, was incarcerated, she makes several disparaging comments about him and inmates in general, which all came across as obnoxious and elitist. No, not all who are incarcerated are redeemable. However, not all who are incarcerated are the unintelligent, vulgar cretins Luttrell apparently assumed them to be. We are all fallible, all capable of making mistakes, all capable of stepping too far over that line of scrimmage and into the penal fray.

Just one mistake away, Luttrell. Ask Piper Kerman.

I will allow that Luttrell does seem to change her tone as the book proceeds and she begins to see Keith as more than his incarceration or more than his crime (without forgetting why he is in prison or the harm he caused). Really, this book is more a testament to Keith’s ongoing redemption. I would have been far more interested in reading more about his story rather than the banal Lifetime Move Network life of Luttrell and her family.

Still, it’s an interesting “beach read” kind of story that, indeed, has a happy, feel-good ending.

Final Verdict: Daisy is very cute and I’m thrilled that she is now helping someone as she was trained to do, but I think I’ll pass on adding this to my library.

BookBin2014: Reviver


I’m going to admit right at the start that I initially picked up Seth Patrick’s novel Reviver because of the cover, with its one-two punch combo of a photo with a gaze that unnervingly followed me as I perused nearby shelves and a tasty letter reversal treatment for the palindromic title. What can I say? I’m sometimes that much of a sucker for some tasty font pr0n.

Of course, then the story description had to reel me in even further by describing Patrick’s novel as “CSI meets The Sixth Sense.” Pretty lofty claim there, but one that I was more than eager to judge for myself. You know what I discovered? It’s a pretty on-point claim for a surprisingly satisfying story.

The premise is that main character Jonah Miller is a “reviver.” He and those like him have the ability to revive someone who has recently died to learn the truth behind their death, be it through natural causes, their own hand, or by someone else. I love this idea and feel as though it would have been a Philip K. Dick book at some point, had he lived longer. In Dick’s absence, however, Patrick provided an incredible (and gory) ride-along with Jonah as he begins to see and suspect that what he and his fellow revivers are doing could have drastic consequences. You see, it’s not just the dead they are awakening.

But I can’t say anything more than that. Because spoilers.

I can say that I found this book engaging from start to finish, with fully realized characters and a delicious sense of pacing that kept tempting me forward, night after night to see what awaited my discovery within the next chapter. I adore when I find a book like this.

I admittedly balked a bit at the ending, which in its own right was not bad at all. It’s a rather open-ended finale, leaving some things not quite so tidily tied up with our characters or their actions. This doesn’t bother me on its own. I’m not one who necessarily needs a perfect ending. However, I have learned that this sort of ending nowadays means one thing: sequel. True enough, the next “Reviver Novel,” Acolyte, seems slated for an April 2015 release. As I mentioned in my review of the first in Ransom Riggs’s peculiar series, I don’t really like being set up for sequels. I kind of like knowing from the start that I might have to wait for a satisfactory conclusion to what I’m currently reading…or even worse, I hate realizing too late that I’ve just invested in a lackluster story that couldn’t even have the decency to end well and now expects me to want to carry forth into more meh storytelling.

I’m a persnickety one sometimes.

That being said, even with Patrick’s somewhat unresolved ending, I still felt he concluded this novel in a satisfying way. If I choose to continue, I have a solid foundation on which to build future stories. If I don’t choose to continue, I have a great story that I can play around with in my own imagination if I ever wish to. Win-win, I say.

Final Verdict: Even if I am a bit wary of the fact that Patrick is working on a sequel to this novel, I still loved this book and definitely would love to have it as part of my library. I’m probably going to give the sequel a go, but even if it’s not as good as this first novel, Reviver will still be able to stand on its own…even with its sequel-ready open ending.

BookBin2014: I Remember You: A Ghost Story


Some of you might remember that back in May I did a month-long celebration of some of my favorite Ladies of Horror May-hem. One of my selections was Eli from the Swedish vampire tale Let the Right One In. In that post, I mentioned that the movie was based on a book by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

During my last trip to the library, I tried to find this (or any) book by Lindqvist. Unfortunately, he apparently isn’t a big enough deal to make it onto our library system’s radar. However, instead of finding a Swedish vampire story, I ended up finding an Icelandic ghost story. Sure, why not?

And so I ended up reading Yrsa Sigur