"Corcoran’s fantasy debut is equal parts thrilling and ridiculous. [...] Readers will look forward to the sequel."

May 15, 2021

Rant Rave Review: Agatha Christie

It's, like, yass Queen (of Mystery).

Today, I review many of Agatha Christie's classic mystery books. Featuring clues, red herrings, a weird slurping noise, human interest stories, and me eating my words!

May 2, 2021

Rant Rave Review: The Devil and Sherlock Holmes

It's, like, Get Caught Reading Month! Today, I rave about The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession by David Grann. Featuring: arson, stolen identities, and postmodern murder.

April 25, 2021

Several Short Poems from 2020 and 2021

It is once again National Poetry Month, and I would be remiss if I didn't post at least something vaguely poetry related. Works is still digesting my soul at the moment, but I have managed to jot down a few short poems over the past few months.

An American cinquain:

a name we know
because of who told us.
What would he be without his dear

A limerick:

There once was a fashionable seal
Who wore shades of aqua & teal.
"But I'll never wear red,"
The pinniped said.
"On my skin tone, it's just not ideal."
Agatha Christie
wrote plots that were twisty.
She was a genuine writing savant
when it came to constructing a denouement.

A free verse poem:

Do I love the forest
because it reminds me of you,
or do I love you
because you remind me of the forest?
Clunck and clatter go
the many bamboo wind chimes.
How they remind me
of my hometown where the wind
blows familiar on my skin.

An emo poem:

Feels like I’ve been screaming
into the void,
hoping that soon
it will scream back into me

And finally, a parody of one of my favorite free verse poems, "In the Desert", by Stephen Crane.

In the dessert
I saw a cookie, bak-ed, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the pan,
Held his lard in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, “Is it good, friend?”
“It is butter—butter,” he answered;

“But I like it
“Because it is butter,
“And because it is my lard.”

April 13, 2021

Rant Rave Review: The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency

It's late because I'm, like, dead? Today, my ghost briefly raves about The Number 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Featuring cozy non-mysteries, peculiar secretaries, and non-matching covers.

March 29, 2021

February and March Reading Roundup

Please excuse my lateness in posting. We are severely short-staffed at work, and my soul leaves my body about an hour before close each day, so I'm dead when I get home. To make up for it, expect three posts this week. As for these reviews, some are a little vague because I plan on discussing the mysteries more in future Rant Rave Reviews.

Murder at the Vicarage, The Body in the Library, and A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

  • Genre: Cozy Mystery
  • Why I read it: Mystery research / gathering the flavor for my WIP
  • What I thought of it: I really like Miss Marple books! There are lots of subplots and red herrings, and things that seem like subplots but are actually crucial. Christie does characterization especially well.
  • Would I recommend it: Yes! They're a real treat!

March 15, 2021

Rant Rave Review: Letter to Momo, Your Name, and In this Corner of the World

They're, like, gorgeous in every way? Today, I rave about three non-Ghibli anime movies: A Letter to Momo, Your Name, and In this Corner of the World. Featuring supernatural slice-of-life, body swapping, and uplifting magical-realist war stories!

March 7, 2021

Censorship and Banning Books

As I mentioned in my last Rant Rave Review, as of last Monday, six books by Dr. Seuss are now officially out-of-print, and they are out of print due to supposedly racist, offensive, and/or stereotypical images. The company that owns the rights to these books is no longer publishing them and some websites are no longer selling them. People who do own the books, or who swooped into stores and bought them the day of the announcement, are now selling them for hundreds or thousands of dollars. So, what are we to make of all this?

Is Dr. Seuss Racist?

There are actually three questions here: is the man racist, are his books racist, and are those images racist? The answer to the first is, he kinda was, and then he got over it. During the war, he was openly against the Japanese, and in favor of the internment camps, then went to Japan during the occupation and realized, hey, maybe these are just people. Apparently, he wrote Horton Hears a Who in response to the US occupation and dedicated it to a Japanese friend. People can change, if you let them.

Okay, well, what about his books? This is an obvious "no". Race basically doesn't come up in Dr. Seuss stories, except "The Sneetches", which is actively against racism. Which, in some people's fevered imaginations, makes it racist. Yes, in some Olympic-level mental gymnastics, saying that whatever race you are isn't important, ie being against "racial essentialism", means that you are a racist. Such people think that the story doesn't address "structures of power" and "systemic oppression". This is true. It's instead a story about a sleazy businessman who goes in and preys on existing racial biases in order to make a buck, constantly telling people to think of their identities in terms of their outward appearance. You'd think the racial essentialists would appreciate the representation.

But I digress.

March 3, 2021

Rant Rave Review: Censorship and Fahrenheit 451

It's, like, prophetic. Today, I discuss censorship and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. Featuring bottom-up dystopias, Seussian anathemas, and the canceling of culture! Also, Timothy the black cat!

February 22, 2021

What to Put in Your Story (and What Not To)

I have been contemplating writing or filming a piece on “Why I (Book) Blog”, which may at some point be forthcoming, but the long and the short of it is, I find it useful to analyze stories. Note, stories, not books. As you’ll know from my Rant Rave Reviews to my four-part series on different mediums of fiction, I consider books, movies, video games, and so on to all hold value in terms of narrative structure and choice.

Despite their differences, all stories have one thing in common: someone wrote them. Which means that someone, or someones, chose what to put in them and what not to put in them. This might seem obvious, but the import of this fact seems to allude many an amateur writer and book critic. Particularly when talking shop, writers seem so focused on what taboos to avoid or what structures to follow that they forget the most basic question: what should go in the story? And its mirror image, what can be left out.

If this all seems opaque, let me illustrate with some examples.