Review- Strange Medicine

Strange Medicine by Mike Russell

strangemedicine-coverforwebsite4.5/5 stars

“Sometimes the suffering of one individual is so great that it renders unjustifiable any purpose that the universe could possibly have.”

A little boy who talks to a rock, a headless fish who grows from living skin, a bridge that randomly generates, and a man who cradles a large box nearly every minute of every day. These are some of the interesting things that happen within the 8 short stories of Strange Medicine. Some of the stories make you laugh, some make you think, some have good morals, and others just don’t make any sense. If you want to teleport into a few weird, fantastical stories, try Strange Medicine and see where it takes you.

Strange Books was extremely generous and sent me a copy of Strange Medicine in return for an honest book review. I’m very honored that they chose to contact me and I’m grateful that I got the opportunity to read this book because I ended up liking so much!

This is a short book—141 pages. But, these are 141 pages of fun, horror, humor, and thoughtfulness. I had no idea where this book would take me (and I’m still not quite sure where it took me) but I’m so happy with the journey I found myself on. Every story was witty, in its own unique way, and kept me racing through the pages to find the catch at the end of each chapter.

Mike Russell has an extensive imagination. I’ve never read a short story collection with such a wide variety of characters who, truly, were each their own concoction of weirdness. Most stories have one or two unique characters who are a little bit out there, but Strange Medicine was full of them. I applaud Mike Russell for having the dedication to fill all 8 stories with unforgettable characters who will remain in my forethoughts for a long time.

I also want to add that Mike Russell’s writing style is something that is not seen very often in short stories. I sometimes have a hard time with short stories because I can’t keep up with the rapid plot and character developments and get a bit confused halfway through a story. Strange Medicine was not like that for me, at all. The writing style was extremely easy to follow and understand, even with the short length of chapters. If you are convinced that short stories are not for you, I urge you to try this book; it’s very different from anything else I’ve read.

If you can’t tell, Strange Medicine blew me away. I wasn’t even really a short story person, that is, until I read this book. I loved so many things about this collection as a whole and as individual stories, but I don’t want to spoil any of the plot. Again, a huge thank you to Strange Books for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I hope to read more of their stuff in the future because I loved Strange Medicine!

Review- How to Talk to Girls at Parties

How to Talk to Girls at Parties by Neil Gaiman

26372 Rating: 5/5 stars

 Let me start off by saying this is the best book I’ve read in September 2016 and the best graphic novel I’ve ever gotten my hands on. I already knew that Gaiman was a genius, but this still blew me away. I am making this my October staff pick at the book store I work at, as I want to share it with everyone who will possibly listen.

Enn is a teenage boy still learning what life is like after puberty. His friend, Vic, is the same age as him, but does not struggle with this awkward stage nearly as badly as Enn. The duo decides to attend a party (that they weren’t really invited to) and Vic is immediately away from Enn’s side and talking to the prettiest girl in the room. Enn envies Vic, but doesn’t have the same courage to really say anything of substance to a girl—he can barely get a few words out. As Enn wanders from room to room in this giant house, he discovers that not everyone at the party is very…normal.

This graphic novel is very short, but in my opinion it was the perfect length to get the story across without over explaining anything. The writing is absolutely beautiful and the illustration is breathtaking. There are a lot of otherworldly girls in this novel, and the illustrators depicted them as true goddesses. I wish these feminine creatures were real solely so I could see actual photographs of them. I think that means this is truly well done artwork.

Neil Gaiman certainly has a creative mind. I have read 5 of his books and each one is brilliant in its own way. I don’t think I’ve heard of anything quite like How to Talk to Girl at Parties and I don’t think I want to read anything like it ever again; it wouldn’t measure up. I wish I could follow Enn on more adventures, but perhaps being left wanting more is better.

I would recommend this book to any adult looking for shorter read. You don’t need to be a graphic novel enthusiast to fall in love with this book. It definitely is a cover grab too, as the illustrations on the hard cover will make anyone want to get their hands on it. I can’t wait to read more Gaiman graphic novels (I’m looking at Sandman Vol. 1 next).

Review- The Glittering World

The Glittering World by Robert Levy

22609606Rating: 3.5/5 stars

A group of 4 friends- Blue (Michael), Gabe, Elisa, and Jason- venture out to Canada to visit the home of Blue’s deceased grandma in hopes of selling it. They arrive at “The Cove”, a place with magical vibes that almost make you feel high 24/7. While checking on his grandmother’s house, Blue finds newspaper clippings about a boy named Michael who disappeared with a friend into the cove when he was 6, and emerged from the woods 2 weeks later with no recollection of what had happened. As the four try to sort out Blue’s past, Blue and Elisa go missing without a trace. History seems to be repeating itself and it looks like no one will be leaving the cove anytime soon.

This book was alright. I understand what Robert Levy was trying to do but the execution was a little off. A found myself confused a couple times and had to go back and re-read a few pages. Even after that, I still have major plot questions. This certainly was a very interesting book; Good paranormal adult novels are hard to come by. I think that Levy aimed to have this novel resemble a Neil Gaiman fantasy, but it fell a little short.

That being said, I did like the layout of the book. It’s divided into four sections- each of the four protagonists gets a turn to narrate what’s going on from their points of view. This gave it an interesting twist and was a lot more fun to read than a 3rd person omniscient book.

The Glittering World was a quick, but interesting read. I think it is a great debut novel with a good writing style and I will definitely read another Robert Levy book in the future.

Review- Trigger Warning

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

225228084/5 stars

This is a collection of Gaiman’s recent short stories, which he calls “short fictions and disturbances”. This epithet matches well with the content of some of these stories. Trigger Warning contains over 20 short pieces of writing, ranging from poems to short fairy tales.

There are simply too many pieces to write a synopsis of each one. In addition, the stories are not related in any way (character wise or even genre wise). Each of these stories is it’s own world, a unique way of putting together a collection of fictions. Before this, I had never read a book of short stories that didn’t have anything in common. That being said, most of the stories were a bit disturbing. I would even categorize a few of them as “horror”; but most of them fall into the category of “fantasy” or “science fiction”.  For Doctor Who fans– Gaiman even includes a short story about the Doctor with a bow tie and Amy Pond.

Neil Gaiman certainly has a way of imagining other worlds and dimensions filled with made-up creatures and complex characters. Admittedly, I did get bored with a few of his stories, but most of them kept my attention and were easy to follow. I’m very proud to be the owner of a signed first edition of this book. I went to my local bookstore on it’s release date last month and was one of the first to get a copy!

Review- The Book of Strange New Things

The Book of Strange New Things by Michael Faber

Rating: 4.5/5

20697435“Never forget the Book. Never, never. The Book our rock, our hope, our redeemer.”

Peter, after intense examination and a series of personality tests, is selected to go on a mission in space. He is chosen to serve as a catholic priest for a colony of humans living on an extraterrestrial planet. He has no idea what, or who, to expect on this mission, but he knows that spreading the word of God is one of the most important jobs of every Christian. With that in mind, he is not afraid to preach the verses of the Bible to whoever is willing to listen on this new planet.

Yeah, that was a pretty broad synopsis…but I have to be really careful with my words or I might spoil something big. So, please, allow that fragment of a plot summary to suffice for this review.

This book started out extremely slowly. I almost put it down about 50 pages in. I’m glad I kept going because it starts to get interesting and creepy around page 100. The books starts flying after that and it’s really hard to put down. Peter is really annoying at first, which is why it’s hard to get past the first hundred pages, but I came to like him.

I was initially interested in this book because people seemed to have such a hard time placing it into one specific genre. I’d say that this is definitely science fiction, with a touch of horror and thriller. Those three make for a great and captivating read!

I was really, really disappointed with the ending. It felt extremely unsatisfying and a bit confusing, even after re-reading the last chapter a few times. There are so many things/lessons that Faber could have finished with, but he just hastily wrapped it up without giving the reader a good sense of conclusion.

Still, this was a great read and I’m happy it was at the top of my 2015 TBR. A good way to start off the year!

Review- Neverwhere

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Pages: 370     Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Neverwhere(1)“What’s it like being dead? It’s very cold, my friend. Very dark, and very cold.”

Richard Mayhew lives a boring life in London, working at a job that doesn’t seem to interest him and engaged to a woman who isn’t right for him. He comes across a girl named Door, bleeding and helpless on the side of the road, and decides to bring her back to his apartment. Through meeting Door, Richard is thrown into London Below, another version of London full of people who “fell through the cracks”. He turns invisible to everyone from his old life, but he meets incredible people living below– Rat-speakers, beast hunters, and bird sellers. Richard and Door embark on a journey to avenge Door’s family and help Richard get back to London Above; a life far less interesting than the one he has below.

This is such a classic Gaiman novel. I’ve come to love Urban Fantasy through reading his novels. If someone were to ask me what urban fantasy is, I’d just hand them this novel in silence. There’s no way to put it in words. People who have read any of Gaiman’s novels will know what I’m talking about.

This book is great. Richard is the perfect protagonist who you kinda hate for being so annoying but end up rooting for him by the end of the novel. Door, too, is a protagonist and a strong female character. I often find books that are centered around a male character and consequently fail to represent any female power. Door is, in fact, very powerful and an important character not just for Richard, but for the novel in general. Yay for prominent female characters!

It was interesting reading the discussion questions at the end of the book/interview with Neil Gaiman. He says that that the novel can be read as a satire and commentary on the lower class and homeless populations living in London today. I definitely didn’t read the book that way, but it’s an interesting point of view. I might go back and skim this novel with this new lens on it!

Review- A Time to Reap

A Time to Reap by Jonas Lee

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

22819890“There is going to come a day when the things you say are going to return to you faster than you send them. A wise person would make certain their words aren’t so sharp.”

At the age of 12, Carter found himself developing a strange power called “leaping”. He can essentially jump to different places along earth’s space-time continuum, mostly leaving him confused and lacking clothes. He attends a school for “special” kids like him, sharing a variety of powers, called Pemberton Academy. There, he befriends (and crushes on) a girl named Mo. Mo doesn’t share the exact same powers as Carter, but they are certainly strong. Together, this duo is called to action by some of the most powerful people to ever exist and change the world.

Wow, I’m really glad I read this book! I usually find myself bored halfway through most YA books, but this was an exception. I was drawn in by the 2nd chapter and found myself laughing out loud at the narration–the voice of Carter, a sarcastic, teenage boy. The POV was a very good choice on Jonas Lee’s part.

Carter’s character was extremely well-developed. I feel like I’ve known him for years! I wish that we got to see more of Mo’s personality shine through Carter’s narration. I still feel like I don’t fully understand her and what she was thinking throughout the novel. She was my favorite character and I’m dying to know more about her!

To me, the ending was a bit unsatisfying. But, then again, I think Mr. Lee is setting this up for a sequel? If that’s the case, then it’s the perfect ending and I really really look forward to reading the next book. I can’t wait to get my hands on a paperback copy of this book ASAP!