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review 2015-11-09 21:47
Big Books of Factoids
The Big Book of the 70's (Factoid Books) - Jonathan Vankin
The Big Book of the Weird Wild West - John Whalen
The Big Book of Conspiracies - Doug Moench,Ivan Stang
The Big Book of the Unexplained - Doug Moench,Andrew Helfer,J.H. Williams III
The Big Book of Urban Legends - Robert Fleming,Robert F. Boyd Jr.


Paradox Press' "Factoid Books" Big Book of fill in blank is a series I have fond memories of, though I never bought any of them. I recall spending time flipping through them while hanging out at Barnes and Noble and Borders book stores, back when I was not really that into comics but intrigued by weird historical stories, legends, and mysterious events. This series was one of the sources that, I think, started to get me to change my mind on the idea of graphic novels. Full of "100% true" stories of aliens, gruesome murders, and drugs, it was like Ripley's Believe It Or Not for the nineties.   


Over time, I've managed to gather a small collection of my favorites at various library book sales and stops at Half Price Books, and recently I read through a few of them. As products of an earlier period of pop culture, I can't say they really hold up. It was funny to see how rooted to the period they are. The series strikes me as being particularly, inescapably '90s in style, topics, and conception. Anthologies of comic vignettes depicting various topics, stories, and people, the Big Books reflected the pop culture interest in this stuff that was big at the time. Written in a tongue in cheek, overly "irreverent" style, little really sticks. All black and white, the artists included were, in general, pretty standard comic book styles, with some detail lost due to the lack of color in a few of them. 


The Big Book of the 70's (Factoid Books) - Jonathan Vankin                 The Big Book of the Weird Wild West - John Whalen 


The Big Book of the '70s and the Big Book of the Weird Wild West were the most historical, focusing on the current 1990s nostalgia for all things seventies and all the over the top tall tales of the "Wild West" stoked by recent revisionist westerns. Both of them had some interesting, little known stories included, in particular the Big Book of the '70s, which did a pretty good job painting a picture of what American society was like at the time. The Weird Wild West occasionally got a little bit speculative for it's "100% true" billing, drawing strongly from period penny dreadfuls rather than vetted historical accounts. Still, both of them have some pretty good and comprehensive bibliographies to look into.  


The Big Book of Conspiracies - Doug Moench,Ivan Stang                The Big Book of the Unexplained - Doug Moench,Andrew Helfer,J.H. Williams III  


The "100% true" descriptor falls on even shakier ground with these two, which felt particularly dated to that period when everyone was watching the X-Files and 9/11 had not yet struck. There's something that just feels so quaint about the Kennedy Assassination and the Hopskinville Goblins after the events of the last twenty years. I have to admit feeling quite bored getting through these two, though perhaps its because I've seen these same stories repeated again and again in all this paranormal conspiratorial literature. Even the addition of comic Charles Fort narrating did not really save them. There were still a few good strips, though, like the entry on Chupacabras (appropriate, since the beast was only a year or so old at the time).


The Big Book of Urban Legends - Robert Fleming,Robert F. Boyd Jr.


The Big Book of Urban Legends was, of course, my favorite of the lot, simply feature comic adaptations of famed folklorist Jan Harald Brunvand's popular urban legend accounts from his various books. From the funny to the horrifying, they're all here and in probably the best art of the series. On the other hand, this may be the most disturbing of the series as well, with frequent sexualized violence, misogyny, and racism, which of course reflects the fears of such "friend of a friend" tales. Still, the artists did a good job depicting a diverse cast of characters in many of the stories.   


In the end, the Factoid Books are pure nostalgia, from a time in which Men in Black (the mysterious figures who show up after paranormal events, not the movie) and a hook handed killer were seen as scary. 100% true, maybe not, but 100% nineties! 


*Theme music for entry: "Flagpole Sitta," Harvey Danger, Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?, 1997

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review 2015-05-23 04:01
Use Somebody - Joanne LaRe Thompson,Riley Jean


   Where do I even start?! I guess the first thing that comes to mind is that one of the things I really enjoyed about this book were the things that it made me think about myself. First of which being that I found myself about 300 or so pages into this story thinking, "Oh come on, when is Scar going to pull her head out of her ass already?!" I was desperately searching for everything to start to fix itself. I kept telling myself isn't this when a book usually does this? Here's the thing, part of the reason I was so expectant for this story to fit in the usual parameters of books I read, is because so many of the books I read lately are part of a series and tend to come to an end around this point, just to be continued when the next part comes out. It's been some time since I read a FULL (like really full) length novel. So as soon as I quit thinking about how this book should compare to others in that sense, I actually just sat back and enjoyed experiencing everything it had to offer. And it truly did have so much to offer. So yet again I learn the life lesson that patience pays off (a constant thing I have to relearn lol)


 <---- totally me, like all the time.


    Scarlett's transformation from the light, bubbly girl full of hope in the beginning, to Scar the broken loner, who doesn't dare to dream anymore was such a stark contrast. It felt like Scar and Scarlett were two completely different people.The not knowing what brought on this radical transformation was killing me! As the story progresses we get little glimpses from Scarlett's past and many of the things that contributed to the huge change. All the small hurts and disappointments and eventually the monumental one.


    "Relationships are like that. Each time you fall in love with someone, you give a part of your heart away. And when they're gone, they take it with them. Some people gave little pieces away too many times, like Lexi. Some people gave their whole heart away once, like Gwen. When it ends, what is left of their heart? A smaller piece? A large hole? Could you fill it up, would it heal over or grow back?"


   There was a lot of stuff in this story that was so easy to relate to. So many hard life lessons that we learn along the way, from realizing who are our real friends, to dealing with and learning from the mistakes we've made in the past, and also learning what real love looks like and how it works, and does not work. The thing that I liked about this factor of the story was that Scarlett started realizing these things slowly, and even in the midst of doing so, she still made plenty of mistakes. It wasn't something she learned all at once and executed with precision, it was like real life, always evolving and getting knocked down and deciding to get back up again.



"When I hid behind my walls, they blocked everything out, the good along with the bad. I was convinced that numbing myself was the only way to survive. I hadn't seen anything beyond my own misery to find something worth holding onto. But now, looking at the sky and trees and earth before us, I could only wonder, what kind of life could I have without this?"



Now that's not to say there weren't times when Scarlett screwing up wasn't extremely frustrating, like wanting to pull your hair out frustrating, because it definitely was, but it also made this story seem more genuine, so I accepted it.....well by the end.  





  "...But as bad as it can be, I think it could be just as amazing. And that makes all the hard parts worth it. So you can't let it keep you down. People come and go. But you can always hold on to the good times in your heart, even if that person's no longer with you. You have to look back at everything that's made life good, instead of why it isn't now. Life isn't something to endure, Rosie. It's something to experience."



    Another thing I really enjoyed was the other characters, Vance especially (of course!). Vance was the best! He was the ray of sunshine that couldn't help but cut into Scarlett's vast darkness. I loved that more than anything, Vance was an incredible friend. Everyone in life should count their lucky stars if they have just one friend like him. He was someone you couldn't help but to like instantly.



  Even some of the other characters that were harder to warm up to or like in general, weren't always total villains. They had many different layers, or reasons for doing the things they do. May not be good ones, but the point of it all was beautifully summed up by the end. I think that notion played into the whole everyone kind of uses someone theme here. Sometimes whether they admit it to themselves or not. And that's definitely something else that's relatable to real life. If it's using someone to make you forget about someone or something else, or using someone so you aren't alone, using someone to make you feel better about yourself, or even using someone to hurt someone else. At one point or another we all use somebody, and get used by somebody, and this story showed this brilliantly.


     I just want to add a few brief things. The first being that this book really kept me guessing the whole time, as to what happened in the past and to what was going to happen next, which was refreshing and quite a ride. Even if you figure out some of it, there's PLENTY that will knock you on your ass, so just you wait!



   Finally, a thank you to Riley Jean, first for gifting me this fantastic story for review, and secondly because (very tastefully) there was some brief context in this story concerning religion/church, which for the first time in sooooo long made me feel something positive about it. Thank you for bringing to the forefront all the absolute best, most beautiful things about a subject that typically has me shying away from it. Use Somebody was an emotional journey and I highly recommend it!



    I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review




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review 2015-02-27 20:49
A YA/Contemporary/Fantasy/Paranormal/Romance
Afterworlds - Scott Westerfeld

Afterworlds is actually two books in one told in alternating chapters  -- the story of Darcy, who has just completed her first novel and is moving to NYC, and the story she wrote, called “Afterworlds.” I thought this was an interesting way to lay out the book, but I was also worried that it would be kind of confusing to read this way. But the way this book was set up was perfect. I loved going back and forth between the real world and Afterworlds. I did like the real world sections a little better, but I never found myself dreading the Afterworlds chapters or anything.


Darcy’s story gave an inside peek into the world of authors and publishing, which is really what I was reading this book for. I do hope to get into the publishing industry one day (even though I am really enjoying my current job in the non-profit philanthropy world…who knew?) and I feel like this book gave some good insight and interesting tidbits about the publishing world. I thought that Darcy was slightly annoying and her young age definitely showed itself sometimes, but she also felt very real. She had the insecurities of an 18-year-old, and she was sometimes frustratingly naïve. But that’s why I liked her. She wasn’t the stereotypical little-miss-perfect YA lead. She was even Indian and (gasp) a lesbian! Her culture and her sexuality didn’t play a huge role in the story, but it was nice to read about a different type of character for once.


The Afterworlds chapters were good, but not great. The story was similar to just about every overhyped YA paranormal romance book out there right now. It had moments I really liked, and it had some serious eye-rolling moments. I think the author was kind of making fun of and even satirizing the current YA canon. I think if you aren’t big on reading reviews and you don’t read a crapton of YA, this aspect might go over your head. But Westerfeld is a great writer, so I think his book was actually meant to be a little stereotypical.


This didn’t knock my socks off or anything, but I do think it was a worthwhile read. I think younger readers will enjoy it at face value and those of us who are older and a little more critical will see the satire in the Afterworlds chapters while still enjoying Darcy’s story and getting the inside scoop on the publishing world.

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text 2014-11-26 16:20
Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Books Over 500 Pages


Top 5 Wednesday was created by gingerreadslainey on youtube where she picks a topic for each week and you list the top 5. Check out the goodreads page if you are interested in joining!


This week topic is...  top 5 favorite books over 500 pages!! This was a tad difficult since I've read some really good long books but I was able to narrow it down! I haven't done one of these in awhile (well minus the fact that I've been doing them on instagram...) but I thought I'd make a post! I decided to order them from lowest number of pages to the most! So here goes:


1. Cress by Marissa Meyer (552 pages)




I love this series to pieces!!! And this one happens to be my favorite of the series (CRESS & THORNE!!!) and I cannot wait for the last book, Winter!!


2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (552 pages)




If you read this you know the beauty and heartbreak of this book!! If you haven't read it, you need to read it!!


3. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (554 pages)




One of my favorite fantasy series that more people need to read!! SO GOOD!


4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (734 pages)




My two favorite bigger Harry Potter books are this one and Half Blood Prince and I just went with the longer one! Of course Harry Potter would be on this list!!


5. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1,448 pages)




One of my all time favorite classics!! Rhett and Scarlett are among my favorite couples!! Love this book so much!!




What are some of your favorite books over 500 pages?!

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review 2014-10-22 23:14
The Witch's Big Night
Children's Books: THE WITCH'S BIG NIGHT: (Very Funny, Rhyming Bedtime Story/Picture Book for Beginner Readers About Halloween and Kindness, Ages 2-8) - Sally Huss

This was a cute story and reminded me a lot of that famous Christmas story about being woken up by Santa.


The kids loved seeing the things she was giving to the kids who came to her house and felt bad for her because she was getting so frustrated with no one trying to trick her. In the end, they were very happy she became friends with the skunk and that she was finally happy.

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