meghan rose allen

Review of Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen

Posted by in netgalley copy

I am rarely this enthused about my ARCs.

But yes. All the yesses.

A collection of comic strips from a book-loving, anxiety-feeling, over-thinking, always-cold introvert whose uterus often just pops up and surprises her? You can bet your bippy that when it shows up on Netgalley with the Read Now button right there I'm going to stop everything I'm doing, click on it, and then devour it immediately, actual work be-damned!

It's basically me, in comic book form, and it's funny, and I laughed laughed laughed laughed laughed, which I rarely do.

Granted, if you're not exactly like me/Sarah Andersen, maybe it won't be as wonderfully awesome, but it'll still be, if not wonderfully, then at least adequately awesome. I might even buy a paper copy of it just to have around for smile-needing, surprise-uturus-depression emergencies.

Big Mushy Happy Lump by Sarah Andersen went on sale March 7, 2016.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Review of Bright Air Black by David Vann

Posted by in netgalley copy

I guess spoiler alerts for a story that originated around 700 BCE. Consider yourself duly warned.

Another of those Netgalley books I must request in a! trance because it's a retelling of the story of Medea and I knew nothing about the initial telling of the story of Medea so how much did I really need to read a retelling of it? (Surprisingly though, from somewhere in the great media stew that is popular culture, I did know that Medea is known, in part, for killing her own sons. Now, where did I learn that? I doubt it was from forgotten nineties CBC melodrama The Odyssey, which had a character named Medea. Does anyone other than my mother and I remember that show? Can't drive past a field of corn without thinking about it.)

So we're thrown right in mid-story. Jason has stolen the golden fleece and is escaping with Medea, who has just killed her brother and is launching him, bit by bit, overboard (they're on a boat!) to slow down her father, who is pursuing them. There's a presumption that the reader knows the story of Medea and doesn't need to look this background information up or if they do, they have internet access and aren't, say, sitting in their car in the parking lot of the public pool waiting to pick their kid up from a birthday party.

But honestly, I got half-way through the book before I decided to look up the story of Medea (thank you wikipedia), which actually means that even thrown into Bright Air Black blind, there was enough there to keep me going. It's dense, sure, but intriguing to read, with an interesting take that many of the stories of Jason's Argonauts were enriched in the telling, i.e. fish story lies with only nuggets of truth as the base.

But for a book about Medea, from Medea's perspective, all that could be said is that she's angry. The prototypical angry female. Obviously, much of the anger is justified (like being made a slave by her uncle-in-law), but other times (like having sex with a corpse), I just don't get it. Take away that anger and it's hard to say something specifically about Medea. She's not a flesh-and-blood character as much as raw rage. Raw rage is forceful enough to move a story forward, but not as compelling as a character in-and-of itself.

Still, those are after-thoughts. While reading it, I kept at it, wanting to see how Vann would portray the next step of the story. So maybe I'm overthinking everything.

The ultimate bitches-be-crazy book, except, just like in real life when someone mansplains away a woman's anger as bitches-be-crazy, Medea justifiably has a lot to be pissed off about, in part because men in the book keep mansplaining to her and saying bitches-be-crazy in her direction.

Bright Air Black by David Vann went on sale March 7, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Review of The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

Posted by in netgalley copy

I hate saying a book about war, about refugees, about trauma, was a quick read. It's like saying: Show me the worst parts of your life and I'll be through it in an hour or less. Sometimes I think I need a life for each sad book I read, to do it justice.

The Best We Could Do is sad. Not overwhelmingly so, but it's definitely not unicorns smiling rainbows. In a sense, it's about disappointments, little, large, and in between. It's the story of Bui's parents, of Bui and her family fleeing Vietnam, of resettling in California, of Bui becoming a mother. But a book of disappointments can end up as nothing other than a disappointment. It's only a teeny one: by the time we're getting into the groove, into the feeling of these people's lives, the book ends. Just stops cold. And some of the themes that I wanted explored more (in particular how Bui becoming a mother affects her view of her parents) aren't. The Best We Could Do skims the surface when I want to go deep.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui went on sale March 7, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Review of All The Places I've Ever Lived by David Gaffney

Posted by in netgalley copy

There are some things I don't understand about this book.

I don't understand the title. Sure, there's an off-handed comment at one point about all the places he lived, but is that really enough to name your book after?

I don't know what peri-urban noir means, which is how the book describes itself. Near urban noir? So suburban noir? I don't understand.

I don't understand the point of anything that happened. Yes, life doesn't have to have a point, ergo neither does fiction, but he flies around on a magical, knock-off Vespa with the ghost of a girl whom his father may have attacked, or his best friend, to the future, where a mass shooting happens which relates somehow to the metal lesions that have appeared all over his body, and there's scuba diving to put garden gnomes in the bottom of lakes, and he might be a Communist spy (we are in the 1970s) or maybe he just has psoriasis, he also might have killed someone, unless he didn't, and someone there's a cousin of his friend named Siobhan who he might have framed for murder in order to save his parents in the future, and the shop girl is stalking his father because his mother gave her shoes from a charity bin twenty years ago, and the ghost girl isn't actually dead, and there's a nuclear plant, and a thermometer factory, and the girl he likes is a lesbian, and all he wants to do is play his folk guitar and not punk, but he plays in a punk show, and this is all too much.

There's this one track where it's quite a compelling story. But then there's this other track where it's just like standing in the ocean and getting hit by a wave, overwhelming, crazy, madness. I stayed up late to read it, and got up early to finish it, but it's still bat-shit crazy no matter how compelling it may be.

All the Places I've Ever Lived by David Gaffney went on sale February 23, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


February 2017

Posted by in this month I ...

I read:


Regeneration by Pat Barker: I read this book in high school I think. Not for high school. Maybe the first year of university, but I think high school. I read it then and realized that people still wrote literature. Like it hadn't occurred to me at eighteen that there were books other than mystery novels and Stephen King coming out now that could be affecting.

So I read it again. I don't think I could have told you one thing that happened from memory. My whole memory of that book was a feeling.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui: Review to come closer to the publication date.

Manga Classics: Jane Eyre: Reviewed earlier this month.

Wonder Woman Volume 1: The Lies (Rebirth) by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp: PAMSCAF reviewed earlier this month.

Bullies by Alex Abramovich: Not the story I thought it would be; not that this is bad, but it wasn't what I thought I'd be reading.

The Red Ripper by Peter Conradi: Reviewed earlier this month.

Favourite book:

Most promising book on my wishlist:

I watched:

I wrote: The only thing left for me to polish up in my faerie story is the Epilogue! Yay me!


Review of Wonder Woman Volume 1: The Lies (Rebirth) by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp

Posted by in netgalley copy

First, let's get this out of the way: Wonder Woman's boobs are distracting.

Seriously? I admit, I do have some nice bras that might give me the Wonder Woman look (huge boobs, teeny waist), but she's out there, fighting crime (or evil demon-gods in this one), without adequate mammary support. Seriously, she needs a sports bra. I read through this book and saw her bouncing all over, doing her thing, my chest and upper back just ached. I can't even do a jumping jack sans sports bra without pulling about ten muscles in my chest and having a boob smack me in the face; how can Wonder Woman be all hi-ya kick punch take that! without some serious soreness? After much pondering on the matter, I've decided that her sports bra must be invisible like her airplane because otherwise I think my mind is going to explode.

Am I missing the point of Wonder Woman? I don't remember the chestiness being such a focus in Wonder Woman Cheetah on the Prowl, my only other exposure to the Wonder Woman universe (I bought my copy, used, at a church rummage sale in December 1989. I paid twenty five cents. The cassette was missing, but my nine year old self was in it for the reading, not the being read to by a cassette tape. The Berlin Wall had just fallen. It was an exciting time for all of us.) I think I might have also seen some episodes of Super Friends when I was five; the wikipedia picture has Wonder Woman in it, so I'll take that to mean she was a character in it. Still, compare these boobs:



As to the story, Wonder Woman feels like her memory is unraveling and can't get back to Themacypefinae4r3958 (I can't remember how to spell it). There's actually some cleverness with the unraveling memory: this is a reboot, there have been other reboots with differing origin stories, imagine if suddenly the memory of all these stories were thrust into your mind. Confusing, no? So I liked that. But then:

in my face.

I'll stick to looking at my We are all Wonderwomen poster on my wall.

Wonder Woman Volume 1: The Lies (Rebirth) by Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp went on sale February 28, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


fake news -- ASoUE edition

Posted by in books

Went to Buzzfeed books because I guess I'd forgotten that Harry Potter existed (seriously -- why they don't just call that section Harry Potter is beyond me.) But yay -- A Series of Unfortunate Events quiz, billed as The Hardest ... You'll Ever Take.

Excellent. Pencils (in the form of my mouse to click on the multiple choice answers) poised. Go!

A few seconds later I achieved thirteen out of thirteen.

Ignoring the fact that my knowledge of a series of a children's books is surprisingly detailed, what the hell? That wasn't hard at all.

So Tesfa and I spent dinner time (to Geoff's dismay) making up an actual hard quiz about ASoUE. Questions like:

  • How wide was the book with the yellow cover?
  • How many times did Lemony Snicket use the phrase "in the belly of the beast" in the Carnivorous Carnival, when it counted. Bonus: How many times in total, times that counted and times that didn't?
  • How many bedrooms in the Squalor Penthouse?
  • What was the first meal Sunny served in the Mortmain Mountains?

We had many more. Geoff could answer only a few. Tesfa and I had fun. Geoff, not so much.

In any case, fake Buzzfeed news! Found! Ah ha! Microphone drop on the internet, which I guess means I press Publish and wander off to drink some coffee.


Review of the Red Ripper by Peter Conradi

Posted by in netgalley copy

In which meghan realizes that just because she read a lot of true crime/serial killer stories when as a maladjusted eleven year old does not mean that she should be reading a lot of true crime/serial killer stories as a (still maladjusted) adult.

Can that just be my review? At least the murders weren't described so as to give titillating cheap thrills. At least each victim was named, and, if possible, a teeny bit written about them. So why do I feel so squicky inside for having read this book? I read that whole section of 2666 that was just a list of murdered women without comment. But this -- this I just feel dirty inside after reading it.

The Red Ripper by Peter Conradi went on sale September 27, 2016.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Review of The Inkblots by Damion Searls

Posted by in netgalley copy

Sometimes, part way through reading a book, I find myself thinking Who would read this book? as if the obvious answer isn't staring me smack in the face. Who would read this book? Me. I would. For instance, I requested The Inkblots from Netgalley and then laid in bed reading it and I don't know why I never took that teeny logical jump to realize that. Maybe I needed to read a book about Rorschach and Rorschach tests and start thinking all psychologically to make that leap, because that's what The Inkblots is all about.

The Inkblots can be divided into three (unofficial -- it isn't like there's a Section I and Section II and Section III delineated within the text) sections: All about Rorschach, All About People Mucking About With Rorschach Tests after Rorschach Died, Random Segue Into Randomness For The Last Thirty Or Forty Pages Or So. Attacking Section Three first: why? For instance, the vague prison story where no details can be revealed so what's the point? Or Searls' Hey I got a Rorschach test done on myself but since it wasn't for any real purpose except for saying I did it, the process didn't have meaning the way a Rorschach test would if I did it for actual psychoanalytical purposes? So, Section Three needs serious editing. Kill your darlings Searls. The shift in tone as we go into Section Three (basically in the middle of a sentence) is a bad jolt to the reader and most of Section Three's content is a shrugs shoulders emoji.

Now let's go back to Sections One and Two. They were, well, I mean, I don't really have to attack them the way I did Section Three. They were there, in the book, at the beginning and middle, like a high school report. You know, not everyone needs a biography, even people who come up with important psychological tests (to apply something from the book, total cult of personality thing for Searls to assume that we needed a hundred and fifty-odd pages about Rorschach The Man, that his personality/life merit investigation alongside his test.) Section Two could be thought of as the Rorschach Test's biography. Again, it isn't as if the test has that great a personality that it merits another one hundred and fifty-odd pages. I didn't mind reading about the little changes here and there and the professional squabbling between different psychologists and psychiatrists about what/how/when/why the test should be administered, but I also didn't mind watching Blended on an airplane when there was absolutely nothing else to do for a few hours. Section Two ends up being superficial because its the biography of a test and tests don't have fascinating inner lives.

I mean, I want to take a Rorschach Test now and I'm totally the sort of person who would read this book and I did, so I guess the book is a success? Is it? Did I see a butterfly in all those inkblots? I don't know.

The Inkblots by Damion Searls went on sale February 21, 2017.

I received a copy free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.