A Review of Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

The narrator of this story is a man utterly bored with his life. Because he feels it has no meaning and we’re all living to pretty much die he can’t sleep. His extreme somnia leads him to visit a doctor so he can get sleeping pills. His doctor doesn’t want to prescribe him anything. He tells him instead to visit a support group for people with serious illnesses. That will put some perspective into his life. Out of desperation, he takes the doctor’s advice. What he finds at these support groups helps. When he sees death right in front of him he suddenly feels reborn and crying in the arms of these people on the brink of death gives him the ability to once again sleep like a baby. Until Marla Singer shows up. He recognizes right away that she is also a “faker” there to feel alive and he knows that she knows that he is also a faker. Suddenly his safe haven is no longer safe and insomnia returns. Until he meets Tyler on a beach. After a night drinking he asks the narrator to hit him. Reluctantly the narrator does and the fight club is born. But after awhile this isn’t even good enough and things start to escalate… chaos ensues.

This is the second book by Chuck Palahniuk that I have read. While this one wasn’t as disturbing as Haunted, this is an exceptional book. I had previously seen the movie many times, so the twist ending isn’t much of a twist for me. It probably isn’t for anyone at this point with Tyler Durden being so deeply enmeshed in pop culture at this point in time. This book was the author’s debut in 1997 and was born from a short story he wrote when he was bored at work one day. Not only is the writing good, but there’s actually some really good social commentary about how we deal with others and our own self involved society.

The only thing I really didn’t like about this book is the abrupt ending. While there was resolution to the major plot, I feel like it didn’t give a real resolution to the character relationships. The end left me wanting a whole lot more and I got excited when I saw there was an afterward but it really didn’t address anything from the story.

I really enjoyed this book. I give it a solid 5 out of 5. I think the social commentary is even more relevant today than it was when it came out 20 years ago. He calls it a single serving lifestyle and in today’s world everything is meant to be thrown away. We are even more self absorbed than we were when it was first written. I highly recommend this book. I think it would make a good book club read as well. There are a lot of social and personal issues worth discussing. It is very graphic in its descriptions of violence and some sexual activity.

A Review of Edgar Allen Poe: The Strange Man Standing Deep in the Shadows by Charlotte Montague

First of all, I just want to say, I’ve read everything by Poe as he was at one time my favorite author. He still is one of my favorites. I thought I knew a lot about his life through the articles I’ve read here and there over the years. I realized that I really knew not much of anything about him. His story is sad and very tragic.

Without getting into too much detail, because this is a book every Poe fan should read, one of the things that really stood out to me was how socially awkward Poe was. He fought with a good majority of his literary colleagues and was somewhat of a ladies man. Though he was fiercely loyal to Virginia, he received quite a few letters of admiration from friends, writers, and poets. He would read these letters to Virginia and they would laugh together. After her death, he couldn’t bear to be alone so began passionately pursuing several women he was acquainted with. The only thing that really stopped Poe from remarrying was his refusal and/or inability to give up drinking.

I was saddened by the circumstances of his death. He died a not very well liked man, clouded by scandals, alone, and in poverty. Though he had gained quite a bit of popularity due to his stories and poetry, he never made any money from any of it. It took him many years after his death to gain the fame and understanding of his genius that he truly deserved.

I ┬ádefinitely recommend this book. It is fully illustrated. It gives a synopsis of each of his more famous stories. There are explanations for things and events happening at the time that help to shed some light on the corresponding events in Mr. Poe’s life. Charlotte Montague wrote a series of these books on different historical figures and I intend to delve into her biography of HP Lovecraft next. I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did!

A Review of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, the revised edition

I read this book with my Facebook book club, The Writer’s Block: A Book Club. When this book was chosen I was really excited because it’s been a classic on my TBR pile for a long time. This was finally the push I needed to actually get into it. After we voted on the book the next order of business was the edition: The Original or The Revised. I didn’t even know there was more than one edition, so this took some research on my part. I discovered that the revised edition is the version that Mary Shelley herself has proclaimed the true edition, so that is the one I decided we would read.

The basic premise for this story is well known to most people. Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge and the understanding of science. His goal becomes to bring to life one who has surpassed death. He creates a homunculus and then through science brings it to life and the monster is then so horrifying to him that it becomes beyond his control and havoc ensues.

I quite enjoyed this book but more when the tale is told through the monster’s perspective than Victor’s. I feel that Victor is a slightly insane, narcissistic, selfish individual and the monster a victim of circumstance and what the depths of loneliness can drive a man to do. There is nothing worse than rejection and the monster knows nothing but this in its pitiful life even among the destruction it causes.

I don’t feel this book to be much like any of the Frankenstein movie/tv/comic adaptations at all. I came into this book thinking I knew exactly what was going to happen but I was wrong. I think this story is much more of a sad tragedy than a real monster/ghost story. I do recommend this book to lovers of classics but it’s not a book for everyone. It is definitely written in a gothic antiquated style of writing. And Victor is extremely self absorbed so he tends to rattle for chapters on inner monologue.

A Review of The Bird Box by Josh Malerman

Malorie and her children are leaving their house and sanctuary for the first time since she was pregnant. Almost 5 years after an event that changed the course of humanity as she knew it, she had to raise her children in this new post cataclysmic world where your eyes could be your undoing. There is something out there that is causing people to go crazy and commit suicide the second they lay their eyes on it. This narrative goes between present time and the time before, while she was pregnant, and just learning about the events as they slowly take over the whole world.

I read this book in a day. That’s how good it was. I normally don’t have time to read but I put everything aside to finish this one. The story was gripping. I was compelled to read it after I was told by quite a few people how weird and interesting it was. I couldn’t put it down. There were no lulls in the book and the author gave hints at the characters back stories, developing them in a way that made me care about their safety and what happens to them.

The only thing I didn’t like is that I felt there were a few discrepancies within the story and I don’t feel like there was a complete explanation or resolution to what was going on. Many theories were given but none were fully satisfactory to me and they never once said that any of the theories were what was happening.

I loved this book. I will give it a solid 5 out of 5. It’s rare for a book to capture me so much where I can’t stop reading it. There is some parts of fairly graphic gore so it may not be for you if you are squeamish. But for someone who is into post apocalyptic survival type books, it is fully engrossing, and will knock your socks off!

A Review of Disgusting History: The Smelliest, Dirtiest Eras of the Past 10,000 Years by Kathy Allen

The title pretty much says it all about this book. I picked this one up off the bargain shelf at Barnes and Noble because the cover is vibrant and I’m into gross and strange history. This book covers ancient Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages, the age of the Vikings, Colonial America, the American Frontier, and the Civil War. You’ll find everything from toilet humor facts, to hygiene, disease, and death. There’s something for everyone.

I loved this book. It is a fairly quick read. Each page has minimal text. It has lots of pictures and little blurbs and facts on almost every page. It’s broken up into sections based on era and the beginning of every chapter gives you a mini timeline of what is being covered. I happen to enjoy the potty humor/trivia quite a bit.

My only criticism is that it is too short. I think the target audience may be younger people. Possibly late middle school or early high school. There’s no foul language or sexual content.

I gave this book a 5 out of 5. I thoroughly enjoy fascinating facts about the things most historians don’t cover because of the gross or graphic nature of them. The fact is, this is all part of history. I would recommend this book to any fan of the history and bizarre facts.

A Review of Hoffman’s Creeper and other Disturbing Tales by Cameron Trost

Cameron Trost is an upcoming Australian author cutting his teeth in the horror genre. I picked this one up on recommendation from my fellow reviewer, Sharon Clarke. This anthology of horror is not your typical horror. These are accounts of the scariest monster of all, man and what he’s fully capable of. You will find everything from revenge to pure murder and tragedy.

What I liked about this book is how much the stories within reminded me of some of my favorite episodes of Twilight Zone and Tales From the Crypt. He has some tales with a kind of moral of the story ending, while some are just ironic. One of my favorite stories in the book “The Stench”. This one is about a man with a really jerky neighbor and how he is finally dealt with. I don’t want to give anything away but it has a great ending. The very first story in the anthology is called “Not to be Read” and reminds me a lot of the writing of Edgar Allen Poe. Another great thing about Trost’s work is that in every single story I was sure I had predicted the outcome and every single time I was surprised and wrong. I love that.

The only thing I really didn’t like about his stories are the fact that they are almost all cut off abruptly without any kind of resolution. In a way this is good because it leaves what happens next up to your imagination. So, it’s not really a bad thing as much as it is a preference in writing style. I like to find out what happens next.

I give this one a 5 out of 5. Cameron Trost is a great writer that I would put up there with Edgar Allen Poe and HP Lovecraft. I think that the scariest parts of his books are the things you don’t see or know as your imagination can send you to some dark and scary places. His stories are definitely the old fashioned kind to leave you peeking over your shoulder and retelling to your friends in the dark. I highly recommend this book to fans of the horror genre.

A Review of Sin by Patrick Reuman

In this novella we meet Ryan and Zoey, a couple of high school kids whose friend’s mom has gone missing. The school has an assembly to honor Alyssa’s missing mother. After the assembly the school is dismissed and Ryan and Zoey go back to Ryan’s house to decide what they are going to do over the weekend. Even with a potential killer on the loose, they decide to go camping in the woods behind Ryan’s house.

This is the first book I’ve read┬áby this author and I must say that I was pleasantly surprised. At only 80 pages long there was a lot packed in. It was well written and had enough action to keep me reading. I couldn’t put it down. If it weren’t for having to cook dinner I would’ve read it all in one sitting. It may be a quick read but it will not leave you unsatisfied. It even had a twist that I never saw coming. I actually had to read that part twice to make sure I had read it correctly.

The only thing that I would say may turn some off would be the way religion and religious views are handled. Also, it has some pretty grisly scenes and some foul language. I give this a solid 5 out of 5. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more from this author. I highly recommend this for anyone who enjoys horror and suspense and wants a story to get them through an afternoon.