Category Archives: books

All the Books Show: Episode 103 – Spotlight on John Green

This week on the show, we talk about the man who makes teenagers cry and experience the “feels”, John Green!

Also, I hate ” the feels” as a phrase. If I was being harsh, and I am, it’s a lazy way to ignore real emotions that can make experiences deeper. Where the Wild Things Are didn’t give me “the feels”. It made me sad and melancholy and reminded me of making mistakes as a kid and thinking they’re the end of the world.

the_fault_in_our_stars8None of that ranting is about John Green, though! We talk all of his books, Looking for Alaska, The Fault in Our Stars, Help! I Have Too Many Katherine’s and I Don’t Know What to Do With Them All!, and the rest. We have our own music master, Ben, on the show to help us through the books Nic and I haven’t read. It’s a good episode. And not just because it’s my birthday episode.

We also talk about how Ruth Ware’s new book can’t be as successful as the terrible Woman in Cabin 10. People had to get wise, right? Nic and Ben also review The Dark Tower, which I haven’t seen, but from all accounts sounds pretty embarrassing. And the trailers made it look like a bad 90s action flick, like The Last Action Hero. It should be easy, a dark western with some magic and maybe some horror. But the first book, The Gunslinger was underwhelming and I couldn’t finish the second one. I guess some ideas are too good for the world.

You can follow us on SoundcloudYoutube or iTunes and even Twitter! I’m sure there’s another, cool platform I’m forgetting but you can follow us on that too!

See you next week, podcats!

All the Books Show: Episode 102 – James Patterson, At Last

The man, the myth, the huckster. James Patterson, this is YOUR life!

(clap clap clap)

When the show first started, we talked so much about Joyce Carol Oates that I worried people would think she was the real focus of the podcast. But, as we’ve gone on, I’ve grown to realize a new fear, an all too real one, and that’s James Patterson.

13145He’s in our book news segment, he’s in our spotlight, we do bits on him, sometimes he’s in our bookmarks or a book club! The guy is impossible to not talk about when doing a book podcast. We’d have to be genre specific to avoid him, but he’s even got science fiction books and his name is all over young adult and children’s books. And bookshots, right?

I don’t know what his goals are as a writer, other than making millions of dollars and never wanting for anything. When I see authors with co-authors, who barely write their own books anymore, or who have been writing the same series exclusively for years, I wonder how they feel about it. Is it the same as doing your fifty year tour as The Who or playing Wolverine for seventeen years? As a writer, do you feel fulfilled or satisfied? It’s interesting, because I doubt Patterson is bummed he’s not writing all his own books. He probably spends more time writing checks for new couches! I can’t even begin to imagine the couch a million dollars could get you. The fabric alone makes my mind boggle.

Also, so sorry for the audio problems. My laptop shut off during the first twenty minutes and than I forgot to turn the external mics back on for the middle section. But that last twenty minutes, man, are they good.

You can follow us on SoundcloudYoutube or iTunes and even Twitter! I’m sure there’s another, cool platform I’m forgetting but you can follow us on that too!

See you next week, podcats!

All the Books Show: Episode 101 – The 2000s 101

In which we actually discuss the early aughts. Not too much to add to this episode. We’ve reached the point where we won’t be looking at past decades anymore.

512btmuq2mdl-_sx329_bo1204203200_2000-2010 is where I stopped reading for a long time and then got back into it as an older teen. It’s when I got into the X-Men, Marvel and comic books. It’s when I bought my PS2, one of my favorite video game consoles ever. It’s when I dropped out of high school and enrolled in college. It’s when I started listening to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and got into classic rock. It’s when the family photo albums stops having pictures of me.

Important years, but we probably don’t won’t to dwell of go back there.

You can follow us on SoundcloudYoutube or iTunes and even Twitter! I’m sure there’s another, cool platform I’m forgetting but you can follow us on that too!

See you next week, podcats!

Book Review – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

me_and_earl_and_the_dying_girlI think I’m learning I don’t care for Young Adult books. Which is too bad, since I’m in Youth Services at the library I work at, but books are like, twenty percent of my job. Math is even less.

The amount of YA books I’ve liked is not large. I Am Not a Serial KillerCinder and Adrift are the only ones that pop into my head. The rest have been fine, but not for me. I don’t think that’s a rag on the world of YA. I mean, I’m in my thirties. Some people love Young Adult books as they get older, some don’t. I’m in the “don’t” category.

I say all that to preference my dislike of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. But, on the other hand, I don’t think I would have liked this as a teen. I would have found it pretentious. I was a wise soul, as a teen. That’s why I didn’t date a lot. That’s the only reason I didn’t date. The. Only. Reason.

Again, I didn’t like it. Andrews writes in a knowingly subversive style that is never as clever as he thinks it is. The main character, Greg, is constantly giving asides about the story, the structure, the roles of cliques in high school and it never worked for me. When Greg is recruited to hang out with Rachel, a former friend who is diagnosed with leukemia, the story wants to prove it’s not a meaningful one. Greg tells us he didn’t learn anything from Rachel’s leukemia. “This is not your typical teen drama!” the pages scream. Unfortunately, Andrews goes out of his way to remind us of this throughout the book that it becomes true.

As the story takes more series turns, I found it hard to care because I was told so many times to not care. Greg is an unlikable character, one that characters find funny but never translated to a laugh from me. Greg will make a joke or say a line and the characters in the book will lose their minds with laughter. Without having any of it be actually funny, it just comes across as fake and that I can’t trust the judgement of any characters.

meearl-finalGreg and his friend (but not really), Earl, make movies. That’s a thing in the book too. At least, the book says it is. Really, their bad movies are regulated to a chapter of terrible movie title puns that make me feel like Andrews doesn’t have much of an imagination. The description of the movies aren’t funny, they’re boring and don’t create a sense of style, good or ill. Maybe Andrews is trying to show how bad these movies are by how not funny they are, but it comes across as page filler without purpose.

The book ends in cliches, reminding us how effortless The Perks of Being a Wallflower made it look. It also goes for a realistic ending that throws away any growth the characters should have gained. That’s Andrews’ point as well, showing us how it would really happen. But truth doesn’t always make for satisfying fiction. If the book had been more clever throughout, if it’s insights had been thoughtful, if the rest of it had worked in any capacity, it might have earned it’s subversive ending. Instead, it just makes for a dull read. The honesty and pain of The Fault in Our Stars seemed to rub Andrews the wrong way, making him jump and down yelling, “No, this way is better!” The movie might be better, if it takes out the inner monologue and brings any sense of humor to Greg’s bad films. I doubt I’ll be testing that theory any time soon.

Maybe I don’t like Young Adult books. Maybe that is the problem. But when I can read The Outsiders and Salt to the Sea and find them entertaining, I have to believe I can still tell a bad book from a good one, no matter the age range. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl did nothing for me and I don’t think there was a time when it would have ever worked for me. Non-dating teen or adult.

All the Books Show: Episode 100 – One Hundred

One hundred episodes down and we don’t look an episode over thirty.

That seems a bit crazy. A hundred is a lot, right? I listen to podcasts that haven’t reached that number. We must be doing something right.

18619684We talk about a few different things this episode. James Patterson, for one. The amount of free press we’ve given that guy is silly. Not that he needs it. I guess I’m going to have to read his stuff soon. I don’t want to, though. And, surprising myself, I’m not loving Me, Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Also, we learn Nic has an issue with Megs. No idea where that came from.

I wish I had more to say about us turning one hundred weeks old but I got to prepare for our two year anniversary next month. That’s a lot of book-related content. If you have thoughts about that, let me know. If you don’t, let me know too. Because I’d love to know why you hate our show. It’s Nic, right? I’ve known for at least forty of these shows.

You can follow us on SoundcloudYoutube or iTunes and even Twitter! I’m sure there’s another, cool platform I’m forgetting but you can follow us on that too!

See you next week, podcats!

All the Books Show: Episode 99- Unfinished Business

This week’s episode we discuss the great, unfinished works of literature. Not posthumous releases mind you, but books that were simply not finished before the author died. So, yes, still posthumous releases, but not…LOOK. You always do this!

edwindroodcoverusAs I say on the show, I don’t think it’s a big issue to release unfinished work after the artist himself has passed on. Academically, I think it’s interesting to see what could have been. And no one ever questions if we should collect unfinished CDs or music from bands or singers after they leave. I mean, they keep trying to put out new Beatles records.

But you might disagree, so let me know know and I’ll tell Nic and then we’ll tell you on the podcast. It’s a cycle and you’re the most important raindrop in it. Let us evaporate your thoughts. Also, I hope you understand the water cycle or that was all nonsense.

You can follow us on SoundcloudYoutube or iTunes and even Twitter! I’m sure there’s another, cool platform I’m forgetting but you can follow us on that too!

See you next week, podcats!

All the Books Show: Episode 98 – Harry Potter and the Podcaster’s Spotlight

Harry Potter turned twenty or hadn’t you heard? He’s so old now and so are you. Once, you were young, reading Harry Potter as a ten year old. Now, you’re thirty and you have to wonder if this what life is about, if Logan wasn’t one of the most poignant films you’ll ever see, if…okay, time to get of this magical train and get to the real topic at hand. Aging wizards.

I tend to be harsh on the whole Harry Potter world. I loved the first and third book when I was a kid but the long wait between installments caused me to drift away. The fandom also annoyed me and I didn’t want to be classified as whatever the millions of them were.

hpsorcstoneAs I’ve gotten older, I’ve also grown annoyed that it seems like the Harry Potter series didn’t really create readers, so much as Harry Potter fans. While in college, and specifically writing classes, it seemed to me that most people loved the books/movies but never ventured far from home. I’d be much happier if it seemed like those that liked Harry Potter let it lead them to different books and life-long reading. Other urban fantasy or what-not. Or just the habit of reading the popular titles would be enough, as long as their holding a book. I’m not a fan of “I only read these books, nothing else.” Maybe it works for some, but I don’t like it.

I think we talked about other stuff this episode, but the majority of it is Harry Potter. We’re joined by super fan Sarah Badger, who is as super fan as they come. Seriously, it’s in her blood. And I’m not being funny. Medical science somehow found a way to transfer Harry Potter lore into her blood stream and now her heart pumps the stuff.

You can follow us on SoundcloudYoutube or iTunes and even Twitter! I’m sure there’s another, cool platform I’m forgetting but you can follow us on that too!

See you next week, podcats!

Book Review – The Woman in Cabin 10

28187230This is going to be short because I didn’t like this book from the very beginning. I could tell from the way paragraphs would read like so,

What?
Oh God.
How?

See. That’s annoying. It tells you nothing while acting like it’s intense. It’s not intense. It’s stupid. So is this,

What? What?

How was that? She said something and then repeated that something with emphasis. How would it be if you were reading a book that started every other paragraph like that? Cause I can attest that it’s the worst.

Let’s just get to what the book is about. A woman, we’ll call her Lo because obviously that’s short for Laura, is on a cruise ship and she hears a body fall into the water. Now, I know what you’re thinking, how did she hear a body fall in the water if she was in her cabin on a moving cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. Simply, she just heard it. She knew, instantly, it was not the sound of waves, or dolphins or a bag of oranges. It was a body.

19623651_321663711625305_7641638682427916288_nI don’t know how forgiving you can be but for me, I couldn’t get past the inciting incident. It reads incredibly childish and ruins the whole book for me. Because no one else believes Lo that she heard a body and all I could think was, “Well, yeah, no duh.” Why should they? Who would? And when Lo is mad at everyone for not believing her, she comes across annoying and fairly stupid. Oblivious, even. And she references Wikipedia ALL THE TIME. It’s her only investigation ability. Lo is not a likable character and since the whole book is told in her point of view, the relationship between story and reader is strained from the very beginning.

It’s a long book for how little actual mystery is present. It drags too long for a thriller. It takes a quarter of the book before Lo is even on the the boat, let alone for the obvious body-hitting-ocean sound to take place. The reveal isn’t interesting, the climax is underwhelming and I just wanted to close the book for good. There’s chapters that take place back on dry land that might hint at the outcome, but they’re underwhelming and fail to add any momentum.

I’ve said before I don’t love mysteries, but this is just bad literature. I know this was selling like crazy, it was on the New York Times Best Sellers list forever but it doesn’t matter. All those people got duped. This was not a dark and mature story akin to Gone Girl nor is it as intense of a mystery as Girl on a Train. I will not be trying another book that claims to be “in the style of” those titles again. I’m done. I’m out.

All the Books Show: Episode 97 – ReRead

This week’s episode on the podcast, we talk about rereading old favorites. Because we tackle the hard hitting subjects other podcasts are too afraid to cover.

“But, Eric, ” you might ask, “did you just talk about this very subject on your blog?”

I sure did! I wrote about a few posts a while ago and that blog was the inspiration for the episode. Maybe it was an inspiration to us all. But let us know how you go about rereading old books, if you do at all.

You can follow us on Soundcloud, Youtube or iTunes and even Twitter! I’m sure there’s another, cool platform I’m forgetting but you can follow us on that too!

See you next week, podcats!

All the Books Show: Episode 96 – More Sexy New Books

And with this post, I am now caught up with my podcast. So, be sure to check back every Friday for the newest episode! Or, you know, subscribe and track it yourself. Don’t become one of those “vanishing adults” politicians are going on about.

We talk Sexy New Books, because what’s sexier than a new book? Nothing. Unless that book comes with more books. Like an ebook bundle. I got the entire Wheel of Time series in one digital packet. That’s sexy.

33226621I always feel bad when we’re not won over by these new books we talk about, but I think there’s an audience for surfers turned skateboarders. If you like these titles that we don’t care for, let us know. My Future Ex-Girlfriend sounded fun, but who cares about romance between 8th graders? I do think I should have given The Wanderers a fair shake, as it strikes me as a book that gets better as it moves along. That’s the curse of a sixty minute podcast, though!

And Nic is reading Flamingo Island, so some parties won out.

You can follow us on Soundcloud, Youtube or iTunes and even Twitter! I’m sure there’s another, cool platform I’m forgetting but you can follow us on that too!

See you next week, podcats!