There really is nothing like a collection of King novellas. They’re almost always amazing, and we have a winner with this one. Ever since the COVID 19 quarantine started in April of this year, I’ve shied away and/or procrastinated reading current titles or physical copies of books. It’s been the reading version of eating mac & cheese inside a burrito – absolute comfort. Apart from a few exceptions, I’ve either been re-reading Stephen King stories or at least thinking about re-reading them. If It Bleeds was VERY WELCOME. Let’s break it down by story:
1. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone – classic Stephen King. Creepy and nostalgic.
2. The Life of Chuck – a bit strange and kooky. I enjoyed the first segment more than the second but appreciated the actual Chuck and his motivation.
3. If It Bleeds – this was my favorite of the four. I barely remember Holly Gibney from Mr. Mercedes and haven’t read The Outsider yet, but the television version of the character, brilliantly played by Cynthia Erivo, immediately made her one of my favorite characters. A solo story for her was excellent. Bravo, Uncle Stevie!
4. Rat – Well, despite the title, that came out of nowhere and I loved it. You’d think my favorite author would write another tale about a struggling author and it would be lame and predictable. You’d be incorrect.
Oh, Eric. I love you and will forever cherish you until the end of time. You’re one of my comedy Beatles.
This is the first novel of Idle’s I’ve experienced, and it’s fun, silly, madcap, naughty, and a very quick read. Television writer Stanley Hay is the main character, and he’s not too unlike the author. I honestly thought the beginning of the book was an introduction by Eric because it’s filled with his usual name dropping and descriptions of ladies’ body parts (go read his memoirs and tour diaries – he’s a hilarious celebrity-befriended dirty old man). But no, it’s Stanley, a dude who finds himself overpowered by the Tinseltown machine after promising to deliver a tell-all Hollywood expose, and getting so caught up in the hype, he doesn’t seem to find the time to actually write it.
I wanted to try this to see what Eric’s fiction is like, but now that I know, I’ll most likely stick to the autobiographical stuff. The Writer’s Cut is fun, but not something I’d ever go back to.
Ah, the second book in a new series. What will happen? Will it live up to the hype of the first one? Will the characters become more evolved? It’s so exciting, and I feel bad for an author who feels the pressure to continue the magic (pun intended) of a beloved debut. That being said…….
Well, ummmmm, uh….. Children of Virtue And Vengeance is a bit of a letdown. Mostly because of the characters and their lack of progression. They all make dumb decisions at one point or another. Apart from poor Tzain, who just sort of hangs around. Don’t get me started on Amari. Zélie has the biggest challenges, now that she’s responsible for bringing the magic back to the land and gaining new powers in the process, but I only got the feeling she was up for it a few times (mainly when she’s teaching her fellow Reapers).
What I really enjoyed was the advancement of magic. That aspect really complicated the plot and kept me interested.
I will read future books in this series, but hopefully, they’ll have better arcs for the characters, and poor Zélie will be able to do stuff without experiencing pain. Boy, does Tomi know how to describe all kinds of pain.
“Time heals all. But what if time itself is the disease?”
That’s the quandary for Oona Lockhart, the title character of Margarita Montimore’s second novel. She’s not the average time traveler; on her 19th birthday, she begins leaping from year to year, not knowing if she’ll wake up as her 50-year-old self or her 25-year-old self. Oona must learn to enjoy life to its fullest and accept the ups and downs. Easier said than done, of course, and it’s quite a ride going through the leaps with her. I wanted more! Especially after the ending. No spoilers here. I do think this novel would be great as a series, and I would totally watch a television version! Not to take away from the book, however. I love Margarita’s writing style, her love of pop culture, and the way she peppers aspects of herself in her main characters (you need to read Asleep From Day, her debut!). I suppose I should say that I’ve known Margarita as an online friend since 2001. We’ve sadly never met in person (yet!), but let’s just say I’ve been a fan of her as a human (and fellow fangirl), and it’s been such fun reading her books and watching her dreams come true.
The only thing that bothered me about the story itself is WHY AND HOW DID THIS HAPPEN TO HER?! Part of my brain understands that this is supposed to be a fictional event and getting into the technical bits are not the point whatsoever, but being a pop culture nerd, the other part of my brain is dying to figure out if Oona is a Time Lord or if she is some sort of “chosen one” with the power to save the world (like Bill & Ted). Who knows, perhaps these questions will be answered in the future. Or past?
Oh boy, I was starving for a good fantasy escape, with amazing world-building, interesting characters, and most importantly, a solid story. Thankfully this delivered. Zélie is a badass heroine from the get-go. Her journey isn’t unique in this genre (think Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen), but the way the author incorporates themes from the Black Lives Matter movement and African mythology give it an emotional, weighty punch. She aids the fugitive princess who escapes evil King Saran, and thanks to a mysterious scroll, Zélie unlocks her magical powers. This leads to a mission to return magic to the world and restore her oppressed fellow diviners to the Maji they were born to be. Really good stuff. The novel ends on a cliffhanger too, so I shall be diving into the sequel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance, very very soon.
P.S. The inhabitants of Orïsha ride big cats. BIG CATS!!!!
Good afternoon, evening, morning, or witching hour to you. Things have gotten awfully WILD in 2020, huh? My last post was a recap of spending all day at a pop culture convention, with wall to wall strangers, shaking hands, touching, nudging, and who knows what else. Sounds extremely reckless and dangerous considering where we are now, eh? Yeah. To say humanity is a bit ON EDGE is mild at the least. We’re all dealing with this virus as best we can. We’re all suffering. In minor and major ways. If I could give everyone a giant, soft, comforting, socially distant hug I would. In the meantime, let me give you something to please your earholes and your ha-ha reflex. Go, subscribe to Belle and Dubs In the Morning!
How do I describe this immensely fun, silly, smart, pop culture appreciative scripted dose of episodic goodness? Well, let me ask you some questions:
Do you enjoy laughing at things like butts and weiners?
Are you a fan of Grand Theft Auto? Red Dead Redemption? College radio?
Do you like music? Enough that you’d get references to songs and bands and lyrics and the like?
If you answered yes to any of those, this will be a hell of a ride for ya. My friends Justin and Jennie worked their asses off to create this amazing project. They recruited a bunch of hilarious people to take part too – including me! I suppose I can be hilarious. Right? RIGHT. I had a complete blast being a small part of it. Look how much fun we had!!
I admire people who can stay motivated to do creative things because I am lazy and have trouble doing more than consuming art (unless something gives me a super inspirational kick in the butt). Do yourself a favor and get in on the Belle & Dubs action. The second season has just started – Why are two college radio personalities from San Andreas, CA all of a sudden in a sleepy western spot called Strawberry? Tune in to find out.
Here’s the plot of After Life, courtesy of IMDB: “After Tony’s (Ricky Gervais’) wife dies unexpectedly, his nice-guy persona is altered into an impulsive, devil-may-care attitude taking his old world by storm.”
This particular synopsis is hilarious to me because “devil-may-care” is a pretty understated description of Tony’s mindset when the series starts. Plus, his wife had cancer. Not an unexpected thing. ANYWAY. Your favorite atheist, animal-loving, Twitter trolling actor/comedian/film-maker, Ricky Gervais, gives us another series, and it is a gorgeous roller coaster of emotions.
“Hell is other people” is the tagline for the show, and I get it. Tony has lost his wife. He works at a newspaper that’s distributed for free in his locale (not Pulitzer material). He’s grumpy by nature, but his horrific loss only magnifies the grump factor. Tony feels like it’s only a matter of time before he cashes it in, so why not just throw away all the fucks and say everything you feel deep down to the humans you’re forced to live on Earth with? It’s a premise that really appeals to me. We’ve all desired that instinct at some point, right? Tony does some reckless stuff in these six episodes because of the utter despair he feels, but there’s someone who seems to pull him from the brink every time: Brandy, the dog. Eventually, the coworkers at the paper, the sex worker he hires, his cemetery pal, the weirdo who keeps trying to get local fame in print, and his dementia suffering dad join Brandy in keeping Tony around and on the path to a new outlook.
I loved this show because laughing at the awful state of 90% of our humanity is one of the few things that keep me interested. I love stories that punch you in the gut while making you laugh at phrases like “I fingered Jackie Collins”. I love that there are so many Game of Thrones actors in it. The dog is adorable. Penelope Wilton makes anything she’s in a million times better. More importantly, Ricky Gervais shows he’s one of the best television creators ever. He keeps getting better and emotionally layered. I can’t wait for the second season.
Happy Saturday, little darlin’s. Hope the long, cold, and lonely winter is winding down for you. I wanted to post an update here to let you know something: I grabbed a notebook this week, stuck a pen in the spiral, and jotted down thoughts and ideas every day. That hasn’t happened in a long while. It’s a good sign, though. It means I’ll be posting more content here. Working my writing juices into a tasty smoothie of fun. Ewwww, that sounds gross, doesn’t it? Maybe not the best metaphor, but I’ll go with it. I have to thank my buddy Kris for the motivation. He recently asked me to cohost the second season of his podcast, The Peaceful Pirate, and we started recording last weekend. Do yourself a favor and catch up on the first season now. You’ll learn that if you have a passion, you can do something with it. You’ll learn tips on how to do it too. I’m attempting to take his advice. Hence me and the notebook. This update is based on the first thing I scribbled in there….
Stories. Everyone has them. Lately, they’ve surrounded me, coming from friends and strangers. When chatting about podcasting and podcasts in general, several folks suggested The Moth, so I subscribed. It’s been a perfect accompaniment to my work commute. A collection of stories told by people from all walks of life. Some funny, some scary, they’re all over the place. But the coolest part is they’re all true. I’ve been in my car laughing, crying, and enraptured. I imagine I’m sitting in front of whoever is spinning their tale, in a cozy room with a fireplace. My favorite Moth story so far was from the late Taylor Negron. It’s a doozy. Check it out for yourself:
Not long after I became a fan of The Moth, my friend and fellow Mouthy Broad, Deb, founded a monthly storytelling showcase here in the Hampton Roads area. It’s called Tell Me More. It takes place at the wonderful Push Comedy Theater, and it’s super exciting to see how it’s taking off. The first event sold out! My friends and aquaintances have fantastic stories to tell. Check out Laura’s story about shitting herself.. Trust me, it’s awesome. Look around at the rest of the Tell Me More website to learn more about the events.
Finally, I had one more encounter with the telling of stories recently. I met Vee through another great friend. We hit it off immediately. She’s unique, lovely, talented, and strong. She recently competed in a story slam for the organization For Kids, and WON! It’s inspiring as hell – watch:
Pretty amazing, huh? Listening to all of these experiences has restored my faith in humanity. It helps to remind me that we’re all going through something, 24/7, 365 days a year.