FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads 2018

It is almost October!!!

I love the fall. I especially love October. The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling, the bugs are dying and reading season is upon us. Truthfully,  it is always reading season for me. But for many people summer is apparently a time to go outside and do…outside activities? But now that it is Fall it is socially acceptable to curl up with a good book and read again. Hallelujah!

The best part of October for me is Halloween. It is my favorite time of year and my favorite holiday all wrapped into thirty one delightful days. So, like last year, I want to celebrate with Frighteningly Good Reads!

This month I will be highlighting books that are scary, spooky, silly and sometimes only tangentially related to Halloween. I try to post a book a day but since I only review the books that I enjoy sometimes it doesn’t work out.

If you have any Frighteningly Good Read recommendations – please leave them here!

FGR #1: Ten Dead Comedians by Fred Van Lenthe

FGR #2: City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

FGR #3: The House with the Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs

FGR #4: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

FGR #5: Black Cats & Evil Eyes


 

nonfiction

Homey Don’t Play That

homeydon'tplaythatHomey Don’t Play That!: The Story of In Living Color and the Black Comedy Revolution by David Peisner tells the tale of the formation, rise and dissolution of In Living Color. Peisner masterfully lays the groundwork for the success of In Living Color with the history of Black Comedy. This was a time when a lack of representation combined with the newness of stand up comedy to create a kinship among rising Black comedians. As they set their sights on fame like that experienced by Richard Prior, they honed their skills on stages in New York and Los Angeles. Some, Damon Wayans, were able to take his stand up one step farther.

Peisner also highlights the childhood and tight familial connectivity of the Wayans’ family. Keenan, Damon, Kim, Marlon, Shawn and their other five siblings all grew up in a small apartment in the boroughs of New York. Understanding how close they were as children and how they utilized that familial bond to deal with their economic and social struggles brings to light some of the many reasons that Wayans siblings work so well together.

The book further does justice to the lasting importance of In Living Color. The list of stars that started on In Living Color continues to weave through television, movies and music today. Not only did stars like the Wayans siblings come into the light on In Living Color but also Jim Carey and Jamie Foxx. Rosie Perez and Jennifer Lopez were Fly Girls. And, In Living Color highlighted hip-hop artists like Heavy D who wrote the theme song, Queen Latifah and Flavor Flav, Public Enemy and Ice Cube, and L.L. Cool J.

I remember when In Living Color debuted on television in 1990. This was when the Fox network was new and I was growing up in Springfield, Illinois. So, of course, I watched The Simpsons because every kid in every Springfield everywhere was out to prove that the Simpson family lived in their Springfield. In Living Color came on and I was hooked. My friends and I still say catch phrases we learned from David Allen Grier’s Men on Film, Jim Carey’s fire Marshall Bill and, of course, Jamie Foxx’s Wanda. In fact, every time I see a lone pickle in a jar I think of Damon Wayan’s Anton Jackson.

If you have never seen In Living Color, the comedy holds up better than the Fly Girl’s outfits. Of course there are a great many things that would never be acceptable to say on television today but the timing and deliver is still hilarious to witness. This book covers many of the controversies that were experienced through the years as well as the in-fighting and eventual departure and dissolution of the show.  I appreciated the depth of coverage the author offers as well as his neutral point of view. In fact, he often gives one dramatic or pivotal argument four or five different people’s recollections.

I highly recommend this book if you are interested in the history of comedy, the importance of representation in entertainment or if you were a fan of the show. I listened to it as an audiobook and found that it was difficult to keep all of the players straight. Also, the narrator had some unnatural pausing in his delivery that upset the flow of information. Still, these small issue should not stop anyone from enjoying this fantastic book.


Tell me, please!

Have you seen In Living Color? Any favorite memories?


Uncategorized

Reading Habits Tag

I saw this cute tag as done by Stephanie from Between Folded Pages and I could not resist doing it myself. I have been struggling mightily with my reading lately and this tag was perfect for evaluating my habits. Make sure and pop over to Stephine’s blog and check out her answers and please, feel free to do this tag yourself!


1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

Nope. I will literally read anywhere. I always have a book in my purse and if I find myself unoccupied for more than 3 minutes I will start reading.

2. Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Niether. While I really love cute bookmarks I try to remember the number of the page I am on when I close it. I know it sounds silly but I always feel like Sherlock Holmes when I remember it.

3. Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/ a certain amount of pages?

I can stop mid-sentence if I have to. I rarely care if I am at the end of a chapter. Instead, I will read until I have to stop or fall asleep.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading?

I often do both but I don’t required it. I love to sip a hot beverage and read but I will admit to loving reading while eating popcorn. When I am alone for a meal I always read.

5. Multitasking: Music or TV while reading?

Neither. I like to immerse myself in the book.

6. One book at a time or several at once?

If I love a book I will read it to the exclusion of everything else. When I come out of a book I love though I will sometimes go through a bit of withdrawal and then I might multi-task. Recently, I have been reading far too many at the same time because I cannot find anything I love as much as my most recent book crush.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?

Home is best because people don’t interrupt me. But, I never let people come between me and a good book so I have to answer honestly: everywhere.

8. Reading out lout or silently in your head?

Silently unless it is poetry which I always appreciate more aloud.

9. Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

If I really really hate a book I will skip ahead in an attempt to find something that will improve my opinion of the book. If I find something worthwhile, I will backtrack. If not, it goes into the do-not-finish pile. But, I do not like spoilers so I only do it to reassure myself that I am just in a bit of a slump in the story.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it like new?

I never do it on purpose but I always accidentally break them. The only exception is when the book is borrowed from a person or the library. I am far more careful with other people’s books!

11. Do you write in your books?

Not my books for enjoyment. However, I always write in my textbooks. I have also been known to write in non-fiction books but recently I invested in some cute paper tags just for this reason.

Like I said, this one is up for anyone but I’d love to see some more answers! If you don’t feel like doing the whole tag….


Tell me, please!

Which of my answers surprises you or disagrees with you the most?

Classic · Fantasy

The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

lastunicornThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle is classic fantasy reading on par with The Once and Future King. Here, Beagle tells the tale of a unicorn who lives in the safety of her lilac forest. Death and age cannot touch her and so she has lived a peaceful life since before memory began. But now, she hears whispers that she is the last of her kind. And so she ventures of the safety of her home to find others. Along the way she meets those who would do her harm and two who vow to aid her: the ridiculously inept magician Schmendrick and the unyielding and stalwart Molly Grue. Will the trio be enough to confront the creature that seeks to drive her kind to extinction?

I struggled for the first few chapters of The Last Unicorn. This is most likely because I have become accustomed to the fast pace and immediate action of current YA writing. However, even a measly three chapters into the story and you will know the most important aspects of the tale. More importantly, you will have met the delightful Schmendrick. Soon, Molly Grue joins the journey and, truthfully, I loved the book because I adored these two supporting characters. The unicorn struck me as insipid, but necessary, while Molly and Schmendrick were akin to Inigo and Fezek.

There is an often quoted saying regarding friendship, “Sometimes people come into your life for a moment, a day, or a lifetime. It matters not the time they spent with you but how they impacted your life in that time.” Peter S. Beagle captured the essence of this saying in this wonderful classic story.


Tell me, please!

Have you read this story?

Am I the only person that erroneously thought this was the basis for the Tom Cruise movie Legend?


YA

The Absolutely True Diary of Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

absolutely trueThis book was absolutely nothing like what I expected. Perhaps because the cover reminded me of The Indian in the Cupboard I erroneously assumed the story was a middle grade title. Or the inclusion of cartoons lead me to believe this would be a more mature Captain Underpants. Either way, I started the book ready to enjoy a fish out of water tale sprinkled with hilarity. Instead, I found myself reading a raw and undeniably wrenching story of the experiences of a boy growing up on a Reservation.

Junior is a budding cartoonist who is living (or is waiting to die, depending on your point of view) on the Spokane reservation. Sensing that his life would be better if he got off the reservation, he starts attending a neighboring all white school. This experience gives Junior a new perspective that allows him to reflect on his life in a way that would have been impossible if he had stayed on the reservation. Slowly he sees how staying on the reservation will alter his life. But, if he leaves the reservation, who is he out in the world at large?

The author, Sherman Alexie, himself grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation in Wellpinit, Washington. This essential fact dramatically altered the lens through which I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Without knowing that the author was Native American and had based his writings on his own first hand experience I fear I would have chalked this story up to researched cliches. Instead, it felt like a powerful indictment of the reservation system and highlights the devastating effect alcohol has had on the Native American population.

This book is described as “heartbreaking, funny and beautifully written.” All of those things are true. But this book does more that entertain. It shows, elegantly, that Native Americans on reservations are not unlike other marginalized populations around the world. The more we see a similarity in someone different than ourselves, the more we can work together for change. This book felt vital and important. I only regret that I had it sitting there, waiting, for so long.


Tell me, please!

Have you ever misjudged a book by its cover only to be pleasantly surprised?


Fantasy · series · YA

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller

thepiratekingEveryone knows that women aboard pirate ships are unlucky. When I first saw Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller I assumed, erroneously, that the daughter from the title would be another left-behind maiden yearning to travel the sea with her father. I could not have been more wrong.

Seventeen year old Alosa has been raised by her father aboard his ship. She is deadly, demanding, strong, and smart. She has her own ship, a crew of mostly women to which she is deeply dedicated. But, when ordered by the Pirate King to locate a piece of a legendary map she doesn’t balk in getting herself captured aboard a rival’s ship. The only thing between Alosa and successfully completing her mission is Riden, the clever and attractive first mate aboard the infiltrated vessel.

It took me a few chapters to be truly drawn into this story. The capture is exhilarating but then there is a fairly boring cycle of being fake captured, escaping, and being re-captured that quickly grew stale. Still, like most series books, the action increased dramatically in the second half of the story and the culminating chapters left me excited for the next book.

Most of all, Alosa is a wonderful character. Strong, both physically and mentally, she has been raised by her father to be a weapon. As a Princess and a Pirate she must follow his command but she longs for equal independence. Further complicating her life is the legacy gifted to her by her mother. The real question is whether Riden will be her equal in this journey or just another complication? My hopes are pinned on him letting her continue to kick ass. All I know is that I cannot wait to see more of Alosa’s story.


Tell me, please!

What makes a strong female character real to you?