Books

Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory by Raphael Bob-Waksberg

Several years ago, a friend introduced me to the wonderful world of bizarro literature, and I haven’t been the same person since. These wonderful, grotesque pieces of works were one part science fiction and fantasy, one part horror, and dark comedy added for that special flavor. From Baby Jesus Buttplugs to young men orgasming tilers with their ejaculate, these stories were set in worlds where the fantastical seemed mundane.

Such tales wouldn’t be found mixed in with the “regular” books at Barnes and Noble, so imagine my surprise when I picked read Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory, a short story collection by Raphael Bob-Waksberg creator of BoJack Horseman. It’s hard to not categorize these tales as anything but bizarro-lite. While the crass, almost pornographic references are missing, they are replaced by with lifelong bus rides, nuptial goat sacrifices, presidential clone abominations, and doorways to alternate universes.

Set in their own pocket universes where the fantastical is commonplace, these stories are about love. The love you have for a complete stranger encountered on a train; the love you have for your fiancée as you plan a small wedding while your family forces tradition upon you both; the love you have for a sibling; and the love you have for your wife in an alternate universe. They will carry though with gentle hands as they explore emotions, which may cause some introspection (it did for me, at times).

If you were a fan of BoJack Horseman, I promise you this book is a must read.

Details

  • Title: Someone Who Will Love You in All Your Damaged Glory
  • Author: Raphael Bob-Waksberg
  • Pages: 243
  • Genre: Sci-Fi Short Stories
  • Publisher: Vintage Books, a division of Penguin Random House
  • Available in:
    • Paperback
    • Kindle
    • Audible with full cast narration featuring Nicholas Gonzalez, Colman Domingo, Natalie Morales, Raúl Esparza, Will Brill, Stephanie Beatriz, and Emma Galvin
  • From the back cover: Written with all the scathing dark humor that is a hallmark of BoJack Horseman, Raphael Bob-Waksberg delivers a fabulously offbeat collection of short stories about love—the best and worst thing in the universe.
Books

FEARFUL Scary Stories of the Evil App by Christian Nava

Mr. Nava offered me an opportunity to review his juvenile novel, FEARFUL Scary Stories of the Evil App after noticing my review for Max Braillier’s The Last Kids on Earth. Let me make clear that I received no monetary payment for reviewing this book. Mr. Nava only provided me with a free Kindle-edition copy of his novel. The rating provided is my own, and it is honest.

Book Details:

  • Format: Kindle
  • Author: Christian Nava with illustrations by Jesús Duke
  • Publisher: Independently published
  • Genre: Juvenile Fiction; Juvenile Horror
  • Release Date: September 2, 2021
  • Length: 107 pages
  • Rating: 4-stars

Product Description:

Esau “S” Bryant is a twelve-year-old boy desperate to become an influencer to help his family. And when he finds a strange phone in an abandoned mall, it seems he finally got a lucky break, until he realizes his new mobile device is cursed.

Now he will have to face his worst fears and fight an online evil spirit to save himself, his family, and—the world.

Review:

Christian Nava’s FEAFUL is one part Goosebumps nostalgia, one part Stephen King’s aversion toward technology – in this case phones and live-streaming – and two parts entertainingly fun. Nava breathes life into a diverse cast of characters and molds a spooky-literary universe that will surely spawn a great series that both middle-graders and their parents will enjoy.

Nava introduces twin brother Esau and Jake in the midst of the Squall – an electrical storm that sparks up strange activity in the small town of Quiet Falls. The brothers are vastly different – or so says, Esau, our narrator. Jake is a prodigy, while Esau is an aspiring social media influencer. (As a father of a middle-grader who aspires to be a YouTuber, Esau hits close to home.)

Esau wants to win the Playoffs, an online competition with a money prize. His goal isn’t just to make it big, but to use the money to put his family back together again. These plans are derailed when Jake finds a mysterious phone in an abandoned mall. Using the phone, Jake’s online popularity rises while Esau’s fails.

However, something isn’t right in Quiet Falls. Rumors of strange happenings are spreading. Strange sightings are seen. And Esau is certain that his brother’s phone is at the center of it all.

I love the characters Nava breathes life into. There’s CJ, Esau’s best friend and next-door neighbor, whose geeky sensibility brings extra nerdom to the story – she named her cats after The Fellowship of the Ring! Not to mention CJ’s cousin, Kara, who was sent to live with her uncle for the summer after an incident at her old school. And while they play a small part, parents do have a role in this story. The twins’ parents are human. We see that their mom is having troubles of her own when Esau notes a bottle of sleeping pills by her beside table. And their father is chasing a dream that may have caused the riff in the family.

Nava engages the audience by using the current slang. He incorporates folklore into his story, digging deep into the Native American mythologies. My hopes is that this stirs some interest in his young readers to research the matter; although, I hope they have a better experience than Esau when he visited the public library (see Afterthought).

Afterthought:

While the story does keep the reader’s attention, there are some things that I frowned upon as an adult – surely the targeted audience will ignore these “faults.”

The first is, of course, the use of current lingo. The problem with trying to relate to much with youths today is their ever growing and altering vocabulary. What is popular today may not be popular tomorrow.

Nava also leaves so many branches in his novel – untied strings that aren’t resolved by the story’s end. However, it is clear what he is doing – this is just the beginning of Nava’s literary universe which will surely span throughout several novels (something I look forward to reading).

The one thing that really got me is the library scene. Mr. Nava did you really ask me to read your novel without knowing that I’ve worked within the library world for the last decade of my life? Can we stop with the age-old, redundant library tropes?

Nava writes: “Instead of googling what I needed, I ventured into the local book cemetery (AKA the public library) to remain off the grid” (emphasis mine). Nava continues by writing: “…the librarian, a little bald man with glasses, kicked me out for being too loud” (emphasis mine).

Libraries aren’t the quiet, dusty-book filled chambers conjured up on popular culture. Instead, libraries are filled to the brim with public activities – not all of them quiet. Painting them as unwelcoming toward children only damages the work we’ve done thus far in trying to prove otherwise. So please – Mr. Nava – and all writers of juvenile literature – it’s time to end this library trope.

Also See:

Books

Quiet Kid poems by Grace Carras

Book Details:

  • Format: Softcover
  • Title: Quiet Kid
  • Author: Grace Carras
  • Publisher: Finishing Line Press
  • Genre: Poetry
  • Release Date: 11 August 2020
  • Length: 36 pages
  • Rating: 5-stars

Review:

Never have I experienced such raw power and emotion from 36 pages as I did while reading the work of Grace Carras. Her perfectly crafted scenes and imagery, the way she displays her emotions – all of it! – is nothing less than beautiful. If there’s one book of poetry you read this year, make sure it’s this book. You won’t be disappointed.

Continue reading “Quiet Kid poems by Grace Carras”
Books

The Guardian

Book Details:

  • Format: Audible Audio
  • Title: The Guardian
  • Author: Alice Raine
  • Narrator: Stephanie Cannon, Mark Meadows, and John Guerrasio
  • Publisher: Audible Originals
  • Genre: Erotica
  • Release Date: 4 August 2017
  • Length: 1hr and 17mins
  • Rating: 2-stars

Product Description:

Eighteen year-old Jessica’s life is turned upside down the day the police knock on her door to deliver the news that her parents have been in a fatal accident. Her late father’s gambling and reckless lifestyle leave her finances in turmoil and threaten to leave her homeless…until a chance meeting with a 30-year-old stranger means that her life changes forever.

Finding herself an unofficial ward of a mysterious, serious man, our American heroine and her enigmatic British ‘Guardian’ get used to living with each other…with all of the tensions, pitfalls and excitement that entails….

Continue reading “The Guardian”
Books

How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World

Book Details:

  • Format: Audible Audio
  • Title: How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World
  • Author: Kate Jordan
  • Narrator: Tiffany Morgan
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Genre: Biography & Memoirs (/How-To)
  • Release Date: 31 July 2015
  • Length: 2hrs and 13mins
  • Rating: 3-stars

Product Description:

How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World is not just a catchy title. It’s a promise. Herein contains all the information you need to tuck in your desk chair for the last time. If you dream about exploration and adventure, if your heart croons wanderlust, this guide is for you.

With tips and tricks, Kate will not only help you find your way, but know what to expect. Learn how to find work while you travel; how to be a ski instructor, au pair, tour guide, teacher or travel blogger. Learn about finding places to stay, couches to crash and how to make homes along the way. Learn how to make friends and most importantly, how to be safe and save money for future travel plans.

Gift your skin a life of vast sunsets, it deserves more than your fluorescent office lights. Let Kate help you follow your heart, literally. (via: Amazon, Kindle Edition)

Review:

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this book from the Audible store. I thought it was a rompy romantic comedy novelette, just something to listen to while I shelve books at work. Didn’t even think it would be a memoir-slash-how-to guide on actually quitting your job and traveling the world.

Despite my last post, I have no intention of quitting my job and traveling the world. Not the traveling world aspect at least. However, this book does offer some good tips for those young enough and still devoid of any responsibility outside of taking care of themselves (no school, family, etc.). It’s short and to the point, offering up resources while also telling you what to look out for when it comes to scams. It also introduces you to the types of employment you can seek while you’re traveling and making sure you get the right visa for your travels and possible employment.

I do recommend this book for those who are willing – and brave enough – to take this step in their lives. However, if you’re listening to the audiobook, I suggest you have something to jot down notes with; I’m sure this is not an issue with the Kindle edition.

Afterthought:

Audible launched its unlimited subscription tier Audible Plus last month, which goes for $7.95. Unlike its $14.95 premium plan, this tier doesn’t come with a monthly credit. Instead, subscribers have access to Audible Originals and podcasts. Those with the premium plan also have free access to these carefully curated titles.

How to Quit Your Job and Travel the World is one of the Audible Originals you can listen to with a subscription, no credit needed. However, you can purchase the audiobook or ebook for a low price if you’re not inclined to purchase a subscription to Audible Plus. There’s a MP3 CD edition also available, as well.

I’ll keep my Audible subscription for a while longer; I need something to listen to while I ride this pandemic out at work after all. Until next time, keep on huntin’.

Also see:

Books · Television

The Girl, the Cult, & the Boy Who Wanted His Girlfriend Back

Like most people I let my imagination run wild when I first heard about the Dark Web – the seedier side of the Internet only accessible with a special browser like TOR.

Photo by Junior Teixeira from Pexel

A simple search on YouTube will uncover creepypastas, “true” stories of people venturing into the unknown, and mystery boxes purchased on the Dark Web. You’ll hear stories of people buying narcotics, hiring hit-men, and things only meant for the most depraved – Red Rooms and more. We built a monster out it. But are surprised by this outcome? After all, it was Lovecraft who said, The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.” And what is more unknown than that which lurks behind the screen?

Curiosity – as it usually does – got the better of me. Before long I was searching through online forums in order to gain access to the Hidden Wiki – an online index of some of the more popular onion sites. As the page loaded, I didn’t know what I expected. My paranoia got the better of me. I taped the lens of my laptop’s webcam before entering.

When its secrets were presented before me, it was anticlimactic to say the least. Sure the links to hit-men existed. And yes, there were sites in which you could purchase drugs – at this time, the Silk Road was still operational. Links that sent you to cannibal cookbooks and one detailing human experimenting. Marketplaces for stolen credit cards and identities. And several links leading you straight to scams. Because on the Dark Web, it’s hard to trace a conman looking for his mark – the unsuspecting noob looking for a cheap (rather expensive, actually) thrill.

Netted: A Dark Web Horror Series Box Set by K. T. Rose

I didn’t, however, find links to any red rooms, a virtual urban legend where you can watch – even participate in – a person’s torture and eventual death at the hands of a sadistic executioner. Using bitcoin, you can have a man’s eyelids sliced off and salt poured on his face as he screams in agony.

While red rooms are stuff of urban legend, in Jessica Frey’s world they have become her escape. One in particular, however: The Silent Red Room Show. From a distance, Jessica began to admire Father Paul. He filled her fantasies, the man – the butcher – behind the mask. What she wouldn’t give to be part of that world. A world where you can put those who have tormented you on the hot seat. Strap them in and watch the master fillet them to an inch of their lives for the entertainment of strangers online. But this isn’t the only dark secret Jessica Frey carries with her. There are much darkness inside her and all she needs is a mentor like Father Paul to help her set it free.

Dale Tilson, on the other hand, is looking for a new beginning. Taking the advice of his younger sister, Diane, he’s making an attempt on a second chance. Using a dating app, he meets Marla at her place. But after a drink of wine, things begin to feel wrong for Dale. And only gets worse when Marla attacks him.

And so the story begins, a three-part saga written by K. T. Rose. A story where Dale Tilson and Jessica Frey are fated to encounter Father Paul and his Silent Red Room cult. The trilogy keeps the reader on the edge of their seat, while sprinkling a few silly name brand products and restaurant names.

Currently, the trilogy – The Beginning, Inside Out, and The Crash – are currently free to read with a Kindle Unlimited subscription. Or you can purchase all three as a set for $2.99.

On the other spectrum of the Dark Web, sits Moritz Zimmermann whose girlfriend, Lisa Novak, has returned from her trip abroad a completely different person. She’s hanging out with Daniel Riffert, the high school ecstasy dealer. In a brash attempt to win Lisa back, Mortiz buys – and blackmails – Daniel’s ecstasy supplier. When things go sideways, he’s only left with one thing to do – sell the drugs online. Fast.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. With a new found purpose in life, Moritz and company are thrown

One part Skins and one part Breaking Bad, How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) was a whirlwind of a series – both seasons are currently available on Netflix.

The only thing that got me on my nerves is the dubbing. Because the original series was German, the English voices and sync can be off putting. This is, of course, a superficial issue which I can ignore easily – sometimes.

While the Dark Web is shrouded in a created mystery, we can all agree that the best fruit it bears are the stories that come out of it. Until next time, keep on huntin’.