Friday, June 23, 2017

Review: A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin

A Vision of Fire by Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin | Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5)

Is that the ultimate paradox of life, she wondered, that the universe should become less clear with age?

Everyone who knows me knows that I have a massive crush on Gillian Anderson--she is basically my ride or die when it comes to celebrities. A Vision of Fire is her debut work of fiction with Jeff Rovin and it starts off steady and with a thrilling question. As far as first installments goes in science fiction, this is a positively delicious (and maybe a little frightening) introduction to The Earthend Saga and managed to be riveting, thoughtful and mysterious. It had its rough patches mid-novel that felt to drag on a bit more than the rest, which is what knocked it down a half star in my review, but for the most part it was thoroughly enjoyable.

I liked seeing her return to science fiction in a way that was reminiscent of The X-Files but still fresh and different. Teaming up celebrities and authors to create a new series can be a tricky task that is often lost in translation but Gillian Anderson and Jeff Rovin's vision (har-har-har) is clear from the getgo. A total dream-team. Not only do they pen an engaging novel that will compel its readers to keep flipping through from start to finish, the message and overall plots are coherent and full of something utterly fascinating.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Review: Secret Brother by V.C. Andrews

Secret Brother by V.C. Andrews | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

"The most unexpected Dollanganger story of them all, new from the author of Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind..." I think you meant the most unnecessary Dollanganger story of them all, new from the man who's been using the author of Flowers in the Attic and Petals on the Wind's name for the last few decades. When I picked up the Diaries series, I knew it was going to be disastrous but I hadn't the slightest idea just how bad it would get.

If I were a dramatic person (which frankly I am, but I'd like to pretend I'm not) I would say that after reading these books, I am not the same person. But to be fair, that has no sense behind it beyond a bit of anger and annoyance. Again, I can't help but to wonder why we can't leave V.C. Andrews' legacy alone. Regardless, we're here. We're bored. We're about to cry. Okay--I won't cry but I'm mostly stalling in my review because I can't figure out how to describe how bloody awful this book--and the previous two installments--and I don't want to approach it too rudely.

I should say this: Flowers in the Attic is an iconic property and I do--on some levels--get the reasoning behind continuing to publish these new installments. They are nothing more than glorified fan-fiction (an insult to FF) and won't affect the original series if you don't want to consider it canon.

Review: Christopher's Diary, Echoes of Dollanganger by V.C. Andrews

Christopher's Diary: Echoes of Dollanganger by V.C. Andrews* | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Is it possible to scrub a book from your memory? 

Oh, boy. If I could give less than a star to a book, this series would be one of the half stars. Total. All three of them. Ugh. Where to begin? Well. My first thought is terrible. Just as God-awful as the first in the Diaries series, Echoes of Dollanganger and proves once again, for me, that Andrew Neiderman has no business writing under the V.C. Andrews name anymore. It's time to let her legacy go on as it should have been to begin with. Which each release under the V.C. Andrews name, I can't help but ask myself two things.

Why and how did these books get published to begin with?


Gone are the signature trigger warned novels and in their place is a clusterf*ck of dullness.

Whereas the original/real V.C. Andrews titles were all horrific, cringey, campy fun--the better part of a decade of the books released through Neiderman's era of V.C. Andrews have been some of the worst pieces of literature I have ever picked up. Granted, he gets a half star for trying to return to his former glory (some of his earlier work as V.C. Andrews was at least mildly plausible and a bit entertaining) all the while attempting to capture the spirit of V.C. Andrews' greatest works. I'll say it again, like other reviews of this series: it's a train wreck you can't look away from.

Review: Christopher's Diary, Secrets of Foxworth by V.C. Andrews

Christopher's Diary: Secrets of Foxworth by V.C. Andrews* | Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

"Nostalgia was nothing more than dissatisfaction with the present. Anything looked better than now, even harder times. It was a fantasy that people accept."

I... don't understand how this got published to begin with? Out of sheer curiosity, I've been picking up on reading the Andrew Neiderman era of V.C. Andrews books--I still can't justify calling them V.C. Andrews books when they just keep coming and are attributed to her, despite the fact that she is dead. It is quite awkward and bothersome knowing that her name has become something else entirely. A property. This fact makes my skin crawl bit by bit.

Nonetheless, there's something undeniably drug-like and naughty about V.C. Andrews books and the creations of Andrew Neiderman. Some are quite good in the way that only trashy literature can be. I mean, they are basically all a walking trigger warning but it's something you can't look away from.

Which is precisely how I took to binge reading the books from this Diaries spin-off of The Dollanganger Saga. No matter how much time has passed since the original release of V.C. Andrews' crowning glory, Flowers in the Attic, the story and its sequels still stir up conversation both in hype and disgust. For some reason, the idea of hearing Christopher's thoughts seemed appealing to me and this is basically the equivalent of fanfiction anyways, so it's rather nice to pretend.

Review: The Fever by Megan Abbott

The Fever by Megan Abbott | Rating: ★★★★★

“I have another friend who gets what I’m really like, and I get her. She scares me. Did you ever see yourself times ten in another person and want to cover your eyes?” 

I'm not going to even hesitate when I tell you this: Megan Abbott is one of my favourite writers. You know when you read a novel and it just hits you suddenly that hours have passed but you've been utterly consumed by a story? That was me with The Fever. Immediately, it hit me that the story was heavy in that special way that haunts you for hours after you've concluded your binge. I felt it in the previous novel of hers I had read--Dare Me.

That was different, though. This felt all new to me and it simultaneously intrigued and gutted me. All in one sitting I just kept thinking: "Holy shit. This book." The Fever kept my mind spinning and reeling and captivated in a way that comes with mysterious and thrillers. I had the same feeling during Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. It's like you've become so invested in the characters that you feel this lump forming in your throat as the story progresses. Ultimately, that's the most  striking thing about Abbott's prose and stories; your mind doesn't remove itself from the pages. The Fever is not unlike a fever itself, heavy and intimidating. You feel yourself but not like yourself.

Review: The Walking Dead Volume 2, Miles Behind Us

The Walking Dead Vol. 02: Miles Behind Us by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn | Rating:  ★★★★★

There's something about The Walking Dead that feels like a classic horror film--it's easy to see why its following has stuck to it so long and why T.V. fans everywhere salivate for its phenomenal television adaptation. In Miles Behind Us, the second volume of the graphic novel series that started it all, we see a glimmer of life as the survivors struggle to--well--survive.

After the groundwork is set for the series as a whole, both in volumes one and two, we settle in with the loss of Shane (and the potential gravity of Carl having done the deed); the unexpected pregnancy of another character, the arrival of several new faces, the loss of others, a main character is nearly lost and more. In other words: plot twist after plot twist after plot twist.

Miles Behind Us feels like an expansion on what was already set up as an introduction to a brave (and horrible) new world. Now that we're familiar with the general story board, we're able to flesh out the characters and their connections to one another as well as, hopefully, dive into backstories and the like. What I liked most about Miles Behind Us is that it felt undeniably like it was more fleshed out than the first volume. This is a factor that comes into play in any story--the more development there is, the more compelling the stories become. And in a series like The Walking Dead, the story only grows from here on out.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Review: Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff

Everything Reminds You of Something Else by Elana Wolff | Rating: ★★★☆☆

A copy of this novel was provided through NetGalley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

The first thing that strikes me about this collection of poetry is that there's a great glimpse of soul in the works. I had a bit of a problem tying the collection together (it flowed, at times, incoherently and I wasn't connecting with specific parts of it) but Everything Reminds You of Something Else is still a damn good release.  As far as introductions to a poet go, I really enjoyed getting to know her--there were, as I said, some rough patches for me personally, but when it was good it was bloody brilliant. I only wish that the collection had been longer; it would have, in my opinion, smoothed out some of the less than stellar parts had it been expanded. 

You may be thinking: "It's only 90 pages and the average rating is sitting at a solid three stars--is it worth it?" For me, it was worth it. When the poems were on fire, they made the kinks less irritating. I liked the nature aspects of it--we relate our words back to something else that feels familiar.Wolff weaves through the heart of things on several occasions and we really get to know people through their poems; this is no different.