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review 2018-02-23 15:10
It's a book with a blue cover and it starts with 'the'. Do you know which one I mean?
Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores - Jen Campbell

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell is very reminiscent of I Work in a Public Library which I reviewed early last year. Both books include true stories of interactions and incidents that occurred in places which feature books as the main attraction. Jen's book talks about people who are so improbably strange I don't know how they were let out of the house much less let loose in a bookstore. Also, Ripping Yarns is a confusing name for a bookstore so I don't know why it's that unusual that people calling to find out if they sold yarn was so kooky it deserved its own subsection. (A yarn is another name for a story and 'ripping' is a term like 'awesome' hence Ripping Yarns.) Some of the things that stuck out for me were the customers that didn't seem to understand what is actually sold in bookstores. No, you can't buy hardware materials in a bookstore. That would be a hardware store. There were some true LOL moments like the lady who came in and couldn't remember which Danielle Steel books her mom had/hadn't read and asked the bookseller if SHE knew. *face palm* The chapter on parents and kids especially reminded me of what it's like being a Children's Librarian (there are a lot of interesting interactions, ya'll). One thing that really surprised me were the number of people who would approach the desk and ask about possible jobs but would be super weird about it. For example, telling the bookseller that there job looked super easy and then asking if they were hiring. If you're looking for funny anecdotes about what it's like to work in the book trade then you couldn't get more spot on than this book. It's a quick book that you can dip in and out of when you're looking for a laugh or if you just want to check if it's not just you that get involved in super weird conversations with strangers. 8/10

 

A/N: With this review we've finally reached the books I read in December of last year. *crowds do the wave*

 

A taste of what awaits you inside the book. [Source: Buzzfeed]

 

What's Up Next: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-22 09:24
Horror with a touch of class
Night Things - John Michael Talbot

Lauren Montgomery, her son Garrett and her "I love myself so much" rock star husband Stephen Ransom have rented a large palatial mansion in the Adirondacks in North Eastern New York. It soon becomes apparent that something terrible is going to happen in "Lake House" which has a reputation for murder and bloodshed. Garrett becomes attuned to the sounds and ghostly apparitions that frequent the house, Lauren becomes more and more concerned about the welfare of herself and her son, and the lovely Stephen with "his mane of dark ringlets" portrays a misogynistic attitude towards women only ever really concerned for his own selfish wellbeing...."we're playing in the big leagues here. You got to do it to them before they do it to you."......

Some beautifully strong characters make Night Things a joy to read and in particular I was drawn to the evil and aptly named Elton Fugate who has some very strange habits as young Garret learns when he observes him from a secret location....."For it was not a space being, or even something living, that Fugate was choking, but some sort of grotesque doll, or manikin of a woman....it was completely rigid and appeared to be constructed out of vinyl and inflated like a beach ball. It was also naked and possessed a frowsy and garishly made-up face and had scruffy patches of lurid yellow hair on both its head and its pubic area."..... Lake House is a place where evil is enticed in and soon it will become the focus of a battle between what is good and what is bad...."There were things that were evil in the universe, unfathomably evil. And there were things that were good".... The final Epilogue is like a story within a story, where Stephen will come to regret giving a lift to a rather petite blond woman called June with...."her sagging, middle-aged body gleaming in the moonlight"...and her friend Arnie.

Many thanks to the good people at Valancourt Books for sending me a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. The wonderful Valancourt Books are an independent small press who specialize in the rediscovery of rare, neglected and out of print fiction.

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review 2018-02-18 15:19
Thought-provoking, Challenging, Uncomfortably Good
These fragile things - Jane Davis

Having recently enjoyed ‘A Funeral for an Owl’ by indie author Jane Davis (see review dated 2 Jan 2018), I dived further into her back catalogue and found this book (first published in 2012) and I’m delighted to report that the author’s accessible writing style again made for a really enjoyable read.

 

In particular, Davis does have a wonderful knack for developing interesting teenage characters and in this offering the central protagonist (Judy Jones) is recovering from a deliberately mundane, yet life-changing incident, in which a wall collapses on her. In fact her survival is positively miraculous. Still, the wall is a very effective metaphor for other constructs around self-image, relationships, indeed life and the book explores how susceptible to collapse these things can also be when buffeted by external, or self-made pressures. The stress-test that the human experience places on individuals, families and communities can be profound and the mechanisms created to defend one’s well-being can be elaborate, or at times blindingly simple. Though not meant to be a commentary on faith, Davis does at least invite the question whether spiritual faith and/or faith in each other aids the character’s ability to cope and navigate the unexpected, or whether the key is our shared humanity and the capacity for random acts of kindness.

 

For those readers with children, especially teenagers, there are interesting moments for reflection at the shifting nature of the parental relationship, but also a potentially visceral empathy with Judy’s parents and the impact of the kind of news for which we all live in a state of dread. But, if subsequently the child then purports to experience visions, how does one react to that?

 

At its core the book focuses on the experience of loss – of health, identity, belonging, an anticipated future - and the attendant bereavement. The interlacing of aspects of the characters’ individual and collective journeys is cleverly handled by the author, though for me the slightly bizarre departure from the rails of Elaine Jones (Judy’s Mum) was an unnecessary distraction. Yet, all-in-all a fascinating and thoughtful novel, which does emphasize the potential corrosion of loneliness, however it may be imposed.

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review 2018-02-18 03:34
More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops
More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops - Jen Campbell

Reminiscent of I Work in a Public Library (but with fewer masturbators).

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review 2018-02-14 22:05
Blowfish's Oceanopedia
Blowfish's Oceanopedia: 291 Extraordinary Things You Didn't Know About the Sea - Tom Hird

First thing's first:  Take a moment to check out that cover.  That's Huggins!  With star billing right at the top, how could I not buy this book when I saw it at the shops?

 

Hird is a marine biologist trying to spread his love of the ocean without sounding dull or dry.  That's not hard to do when you're talking about the ocean because you don't have to go far to find weird and wonderful and freaky life that defies dullness.  (Grouper are dull.  Delicious, but dull.  Grouper do not make an appearance in this book.)

 

The Chapters are broken down by the distinctions used by marine biologists:  Shore, Coastal Seas, Coral Reef, Open Ocean, Deep Ocean, Frozen Seas, and a final chapter I like to call "How mankind if f*cking it all up" but he more tactfully names Threats to the Ocean.  In each chapter he choses a variety of life found in these areas and talks about their weirdness and wonderfulness and contribution to the chain of life.  

 

Some of the animals in the ocean are far beyond weird and blaze right on into 'omg that's freaky'.  I knew this on a certain level already, but it turns out that was just the top of the iceberg.  So to speak.  Many, many of the entries got read out loud.  MT was particularly amused by the arctic bird that pukes on its predators (northern fulmar).  I spent a lot of time on google images; there's a center section of full color photographs in the hard cover edition, and they're gorgeous, but no where near comprehensive enough.  

 

I liked his writing style, and needless to say, I learned heaps; I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone who's interested in the oceans.  But there was just some small thing missing that kept me from really loving it; something ephemeral that I can't point to. It's a very good read and worth the time; just not awesome.  

 

Although, bonus points for Huggins!!

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