3 Followers
3 Following
stephanieanngraves

Vellichor Afternoons

I like trip-hop, anachronism, cats, both coffee and tea, the sound of rain on a tin roof, antique keys, pop culture as a substitute for religion, theatre, photography, Oxford commas, and, of course, reading.

Currently reading

John Dies at the End
David Wong
Geek Love
Katherine Dunn
I, Lucifer
Glen Duncan
The Anglo Files: A Field Guide to the British
Sarah Lyall
An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace
Tamar Adler, Alice Waters
Craven Place
Richard Wright
Bloodroot
Amy Greene
Unfamiliar Fishes
Sarah Vowell
Academics Handbook 2nd Ed-P
The Essential Supernatural: On the Road with Sam and Dean Winchester - Nicholas Knight, Eric Kripke This is a stunning paratext, one that both explores and expands the world and mythology of Supernatural while at the same time providing a great deal of behind the scenes perspective. Those two trajectories may seem contradictory, but if you're a person in firm grasp of reality and are aware it's all a fiction, it works, mainly because it's the kind of show that leaves you wanting more--more of anything, any scrap--and this book delivers on two fronts. It's beautifully designed, overlarge and full of glossy photos and interviews with cast and crew, and it goes further by including a good deal of ephemera--some collectible type stuff, glossy cardstock pictures of the cast, a sheet of stickers featuring various symbols used in the show--but some is more strictly paratextual, such as postcards from the crummy motels the boys frequent, a guide to hunting demons, a sealed pouch of documents (that I haven't actually opened yet), even a pine-scented air freshener in its package, inserted into the section about the Impala. It's a feast for any Supernatural fan, worthy of a place of honor on any coffee table, except that if you put it there, other people might try to put their grubby mitts all over it...
Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell My dear friend Desiree made Magic happen and managed to get me an ARC of this because she knew I had loved loved loved Eleanor & Park.

I love this one, too.

It's different. Which is good. Nothing is worse than when an author tries to capture the same thing twice, because it's never as good the second time around. In this novel, she branches into new territory, and it's not about someone tormented by her family, but rather about a girl who pretty much torments herself.

And the main character, Cath... you *root* for her. Deeply.
Even if you think this book might not be your thing, give it a try. I doubt you will regret it.
Unteachable - Leah Raeder This is not a perfect novel, but in spite of that, I still give it a 4, because it was that enjoyable.
It's not going to change your life or anything, but as far as entertaining, engaging, diversionary reads, it delivers.
Especially if you are twisted enough to enjoy taboo breaking, which I do.

Best part of the book? The protagonist, Maise, who is smart, and a smartass. She owns her sexuality, owns who she is and that she is aware she is still becoming that person. She's resourceful and independent and it's great to read a book featuring a character who doesn't get hung up on the Madonna/ whore dichotomy. One wonderful scene involves her sitting at a desk into which someone has scratched "Rhianna=slut"; she wants to add "Chris Brown=domestic abuser" but figures she'd get busted by the teacher before she could finish.

Also, the girl is self-aware enough to buy Lolita-style heart shaped glasses while going on a road trip with her lover (who, of course, also happens to be her teacher). You have to admire the sass.
I Am Not A Serial Killer (John Cleaver Books) - Dan Wells I... liked this?

I did, actually. And the whole conceit of the protagonist being a sociopath is interesting, because you are left to root for and empathize with a character who has no empathy.

But I will say for certain, when it was revealed that the killer was actually a monster, as in supernatural creature of some sort, rather than a garden-variety serial killer, I was pretty shocked. The first third of the book is so rooted in reality, so when that turn happens, I actually went back to reread and make sure I hadn't missed something, like John's imagination supplying all this.

Interesting, for sure, a horror story told in a clinical, emotionless way.


I'll probably read the next in the series, just to see.
Kill City Blues - Richard Kadrey I have a penchant for loving books that are impossible to assign to a genre.
This one, for instance.

Is it horror? Well, sort of. Some horrible things happen. There's plenty of fear and terror and monsters and devils (three of them, actually--or, technically, two ex-Lucifers and the current one). But it's not built on the urge to scare like horror really is. Is it fantasy? Kind of/ not really? There's ghosts and spiritual items and a quest, but it's not in the epic fantasy wheelhouse. A mystery? Yeah, but not just that.

Picking one genre seems so diminishing to lovely, complicated works like this one.

Which is exactly the kind of novel I love.

And all in all, if I had to ascribe it to one genre, I'd totally stick it in comedy--because it's very, very funny, due mostly to Stark's wry sense of gallows humor that has populated the series throughout. Some terrible things happen, and Stark actually grieves them, but he never backs off his hilariously dry wit.

Can't help it. I love this guy.

And I loved the book, a fine showing in a series I already totally love. This time around, Stark is finally out from under the bureaucracy of being Lucifer, and the story is better paced as a result. He's back in LA where he belongs, alongside Candy, Kasabian, Vidocq, Allegra, Brigitte, and Father Traven. He also has time for donuts with Samael and coffee with Mr. Munninn, the part of God that he finagled into taking over the Lucifer gig.

It's a good story, too, without giving too much away--Stark's on the hunt for the Qomrama so he can fight the Angra Om Ya when they break through and try to take back the world. If you've read the series, that makes sense. If not, stop reading this and go pick up Sandman Slim, the first in the series. Now.

Basically, it all boils down to the fact that I adore Richard Kadrey's writing, and more than that, I LOVE the character of James Stark. I like my men with a large dose of attitude, an appreciation for good film, and a supernatural swagger, what can I say? I'd probably read a collection about him doing his laundry.

Not that he would. Because in this installment, we learn that laundry is one of the few things that actually strikes fear into the heart of Sandman Slim.
The Madness Underneath  - Maureen Johnson I liked this sequel, mostly because I like Rory, the plucky protagonist, despite the fact that I wanted to shake her for doing a Very Dumb Thing (but sometimes when we are young, or, to be honest, even when we are old, we do Very Dumb Things, so I'm trying to not let my judginess about her Act Of Dumbness color my opinion of the entirety of the book).

All in all, if you liked the first one, you should like this one, though it focuses less on Wexford and more on Rory's turmoil and Very Bad Choice.

However, that ending, while appropriate and all, JESUS. Talk about a painful, abrupt cliffhanger.
Why couldn't I have started reading these AFTER book #3 came out?
Affliction - Laurell K. Hamilton A solid three stars, because I did *like* it. It's a step back toward actually telling stories (a hopeful trend in the last couple) rather than the preternatural orgies the series had devolved into.

Also, Edward. Edward makes everything better. He's my favorite sociopath.

But really. Anita kicks some ass the old fashioned way, is generally being less whiny about everything, and it was enjoyable.

My only beef? As is also the trend in this series, but more egregious in this one, is that it's a near 600 page book, and the whole things resolves like two chapters from the end in a way that realistically could have happened 200 pages earlier if Anita had noticed that OH, RIGHT, SHE IS A NECROMANCER. MAYBE SHE SHOULD USE THAT TO FIGHT THE ZOMBIES.

Ça va.
Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins I've now reread this three times, and bought a physical copy because I only had a kindle copy, so there ya go. That's pretty high praise.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel - Neil Gaiman Well, there I go, crying over my breakfast as I finished this beautiful, haunting novel about the inconsistency and fallibility of memory.

Butcher Bird: A Novel of The Dominion - Richard Kadrey I love, love, love this book.

It's rough, in some ways, but really, a missing quotation mark here or there didn't phase me with a story this wonderful.

I already adore Kadrey's Sandman Slim series, so I thought I'd dip into the back catalogue as well. This is a precursor, both temporally and thematically, to that series, and it's independently published, which can be significantly hit or miss.

This is a hit.

I'm not sure I can articulate why, exactly, but this hits all my cylinders. The magical underpinnings that exist alongside the mundane world, the Miltonesque Judeo-Christian shenanigans, the smart-ass protagonist covered in tattoos, and capped off with a rather delightful Lucifer... perfect.

Also, Lulu is awesomesauce.
Before Now (Sometimes Never, #2) - Cheryl McIntyre Hmm. If there is a pretty emphatic mention of a condom the first time a couple gets horizontal, and then no mention in a quickly subsequent scene, what are the odds the girl is getting pregnant before the end of the book?

I mean, this wasn't terrible. But it was all kinds of BAM!INSTALOVE and came with a big side of, "Jesus, Park, grow up already".

The first volume, Sometimes Never, was better. More complex, more believable, less...utterly predictable.

2 stars, for sure. It really was just... ok.
The Peach Keeper - Sarah Addison Allen I want to crawl inside all of this woman's books and exist.

That is the highest praise I can give.

ETA: Reread, again. I seem to reread all of Sarah Addison Allen's books at the beginning of summer.
Garden Spells - Sarah Addison Allen I liked this book. A lot. As in, when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about reading it, which to me is the sign of a good book.

The southern setting--North Carolina, to be exact--is rendered lushly if a bit idyllically, and the story was well crafted. The magical realism--not usually my thing--was done masterfully.

I'll be revisiting this one at some point.

ETA: Yep, reread it. Possibly loved it more the second time.
The Girl Who Chased the Moon - Sarah Addison Allen I've now reread this three times, because I would love to crawl inside it and live.
The Collector - Victoria Scott I liked this novel, probably more than I should. Yet again, this is an unlikeable protagonist, but at least this one is unabashed about it, and it a damn lot of fun. Which I enjoyed. Dante is fun. And even though you see his redemption coming from the moment that he meets Charlie, he maintains the attitude that is so great about him in the first place.

As far as being a story about a Collector of souls, it's a nice, unique supernatural spin that isn't done to death, which is also nice.

So, to sum up--by no means life changing, but good diversionary fun.
Things I Can't Forget - Miranda Kenneally I have really been on a tear lately with reading books in which I really dislike the protagonist.

Which isn't to say I don't think unlikeable protagonists are an inherently bad thing. They have a place.

But this protagonist, Kate, is such a small-minded, self-righteous goody goody I kind of wanted to claw her eyes out. You're supposed to like her, to identify with her, to appreciate her struggle. All I appreciated was that she got somewhat less self-righteous as the book went on. OH GOD SHE EVEN GREW ENOUGH TO HELP A GAY KID SHOP FOR CLOTHES. The tolerance she "learns" is staggering! < /sarcasm >

I read this for two reasons: mainly, because it's the third in a trilogy, and I hate loose ends, but moreso because it's set in Tennessee, which I am a sucker for, being my home state and all. This one even had a character (Matt) who is from my tiny hometown of Bell Buckle! (No, that is NOT fictional.) That makes me squee. However, isn't the "boys want sex all the time and it's up to the girl to say NO NO NO" trope kind of played out by now? I'm so over it. That "boys will be boys" attitude bullshit that this novel seems to implicitly accept is just that--bullshit.

But overall, this was the weakest of the three novels by Kenneally. I'm sure it will resonate with some people, the whole crisis-of-faith bit, but having it at eighteen... really? Isn't that a little late? This one just didn't feel honest to me, lacked some accurate reflection of young adulthood that I felt Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker had.

Though maybe I'm just a heathen.