Carrie - Book Reviews 2014

by Stephen King

There will be spoilers in this post, but if you haven't read the book, or seen any of the movies, or heard the story at any point in the last 40 years, then heaven help you child. Plus the book is set up in such a way that you know what's going to happen before it happens. There aren't many surprises.

I've seen nearly every single Stephen King film, but Carrie was my first Stephen King book. For some reason, as I write this, I think of My First Sony. Carrie is simple with only a few buttons and knobs, but it gets the job done. It's also a good introduction to the greater brand. Oh, and it also has an awesome jingle* and is great for children.**

Carrie is about 250 pages long and divided into 2 sections plus one teeny followup: the events leading up to the prom, the prom, and the aftermath. The plot is simple, but the POV jumps around from Carrie, to Sue Snell, to Margaret White, and other characters to "post prom" interviews and various pieces written on "the event." It was a very quick read and good first step into the horror genre. Did I mention this was also my first horror novel?

I got my copy of Carrie from the local Library and as I was reading, I noticed that a few sentences in the book had been rubbed out. In the first instance, nothing had been written in, but in the second, the perpetrator decided to write in a censored version of the line. I normally choose to not deface books that aren't mine, but Library Prude took it too far:

Exhibit A: Please note that Library Prude so vigorously erased
"Carrie White eats shit" that they ripped the page. I rectified it. 

Exhibit B: Please note is says "stupid" (which I crossed out
and corrected). I imagined Library Prude had to sit in the devil
closet for a whole day after reading this book. 

When you read Stephen King after seeing the film versions, it's difficult to not make comparisons the whole time. Admittedly, I haven't seen the original 1976 film in many years, but I made lots of mental notes regardless:
  1. The interviews and articles throughout the book give the reader a lot more to chew on than the film gives the viewer. If you are scientifically minded, you will appreciate this aspect.
  2. Carrie is plump and pimply in the book. Sissy Spacek is neither of these things. (Hollywood, ain't she grand?)
  3. In the book, Margaret White looks less like a crazy witch and more like a school marm
  4. The book makes it seem as though "the event" was the result of childish foolishness. The lack of clear finger-pointin' villainy (outside of the abusive mom) made for a more horrifying premise.
  5. I'm concerned by the lack of child protective services in Chamberlain, Maine. Real life horror.
  6. The most horrifying part of the book, however, was at the very end when Carrie crawls inside Sue Snell's mind as Carrie is dying. Hot damn.
  7. Just kidding. The most horrifying part of the book was the forward written by Stephen King in which Stephen King states that Carrie was based on two girls he grew up with who both died at a young age, then haunted him.
  8. (metaphoracally, natch)
  9. Just kidding, you big dumb pudding. The most horrifying part of the book is this photo of Stephen King on the back cover:
Okay I'm going to go watch the movie on Netflix now.
Optimal Reading Situation: In your closet with the blue lights and the creepy Jesus painting.
Optimal Reading Snack: A four pack of Snack Pack Chocolate Pudding.
Optimal Reading Followup: I'm going to go watch the movie on Netflix. I already told you that.

*PER-iod, PER-iod, PER-iod! (tosses a handful of tampons up in the air like confetti)
**Not at all. Not at all good for children.

This review is from my Summer Book Club series. 

Next up: Beloved by Toni Morrison


Golden Girls Nails

This is a super quick post to share with you, my pets, the glory that is GOLDEN GIRLS NAILS.

Golden Girls Nail Art | Crappy Candle
awww yiss

Greg bought me Golden Girls decals off Etsy as part of my Christmas gift and I sat on them for 7 months so I could bust 'em bust 'em bust 'em out for SDCC (San Diego Comic Con, dang son). It took me 2 hours to do these, and they still kinda looked like shit. 

Golden Girls Nails | Crappy Candle
wizza wut wizza woo woot pizza hut

The decals were on what is called "water slide" paper. The way it works is you paint your nails one color (I did white), cut out the decal in the shape of your nail, place them in water for 10 seconds, separate them from the backing, then place them on your nail. You kind-of mash 'em down, then cover 'em with a few layers of top coat. I chose NYC's In a New York Minute Clear polish, which is damn good for $2.50, whats up my drugstore bidgte-hehs!?

Golden Girls Nails | Crappy Candle
bling bling dingaling mah Golden Grils

If you have an aversion to lengthy manicurings, or are anal retentive about how neat your nails look, these decals are not for you.

If you enjoy looking like a baller and want to take Dorothy, Blanche, Rose and Sophia, slather them in cream cheese, sugar, and a graham crust, then eat them in the middle of the night, these decals are perfect for you. You can get them from NailSpin on Etsy. I make nothing if you click on this link. I just want you to look swip-a-dip swiddly-tits swagged UP. 


♪ And if you threw a parteheh and invited evreh-wohen yoo-new-hooo. You-would-see  the-bigga-gift-wuh-be-fruh-me  and-the card. attached. would. say. THANK YOU FOR BEING A FRIEND.  


The Girl Who Played With Fire - Book Reviews 2014

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Book Reviews 2014 | Crappy Candle
by Stieg Larsson

First off, let me say how proud I am of myself for finishing The Girl Who Played With Fire in a timely fashion. I started reading this book not long after I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo way back in 2012. After reading about 40 pages over the course of a few months, I shelved the old broad. I picked it up again at the beginning of July and read the whole damn thing in about a week and a half. This has never happened to me before.

I figure one of the following things occurred:
a) The Girl who Played With Fire was faster paced than The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
b) I understand/appreciate the style of Stieg Larsson better this time around.
c) I stopped being such a weenie about reading books.
d) All of the above.
I'm leaning toward d). The story feels tighter, with a more immediate danger pushing it along. Stieg does not abandon his Dickensian descriptions and character backstories to achieve this. While it would seem that a detailed breakdown of the name of each piece of IKEA furniture protagonist Lisbeth Salander purchases would be a tool to characterize her meticulous nature, it's just not so. Every character receives the same treatment. It works because it fills out the world in a plain, "police procedural drama" type way, allowing the reader to fill in the nuance. It also works because these books are mystery novels; details are important if you want to try and figure it all out before the author reveals everything. 

I'm also happy to say that I figured out quickly (*BIG Spoiler*) that Zala was the man that Lisbeth had set on fire as a kid, although it took me longer to piece together that he was also her father. (*End BIG Spoiler*) I enjoy a good mystery story, but I like it more when I can figure it out myself because it makes me feel smart. I'm also just now realizing that Salander quite literally "played with fire" in the opening scene of the book therefore birthing the name of the book, so I'm not feeling so smart anymore. 

Overall, The Girl Who Played With Fire was a satisfying, easy read. Like Dragon Tattoo, it takes a little bit to get over the hump into page-turner territory, but once you're there it's quick work. 

Criticisms? I have a few:
  1. The story starts out with an obvious lie because Lisbeth Salander would never get a boob job.
  2. Salander and Blomkvist have such little interaction that I worry about their burgeoning romance. I also worry that I won't be there to witness it.
  3. I was super disappointed that the blonde hulk was not a cyborg like Drago from Rocky IV.
  4. I've been told that Drago from Rocky IV was not a cyborg either.
  5. I was super disappointed that the "creature in the woods" was not some kind of demon. This book could have been insane.
  6. Not a criticism, but how Swedish is this:
  7. Police Volvos
So now I get to wait for the American sequel to come out. I know, I know. The Swedish Films, but I'm in love with Rooney Mara guys. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to her. I had it in my head that I would read the first book, watch the 2011 Mara/Craig/Fincher film, read the second book, watch the sequel, then read the third book and watch the final film. I'd then watch all three Swedish films in one day and appreciate Noomi Rapace's cheekbones.

Unfortunately, US filmmaking is more cumbersome and godawful than Swedish filmmaking. US's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did not do as well as the studio had hoped, so the budget for the sequel was cut. Because all three players (Mara/Craig/Fincher) have gotten even more popular in recent years, scheduling has been an issue. Also the script is apparently being re-written by the dude that wrote Se7en. All this means that The Girl Who Played with Fire it hasn't even moved into pre-production yet, even though it was initially slated for a 2013 release.

Mara has stated that she absolutely still wants to make these films. She also said that Daniel Craig absolutely will be in them (there was a rumor that he might be cut because of the budget, but it's apparently a load of hooey). Fincher is the biggest variable, but it seems the whole darned project is up in the air at this point. Who wants to start a petition?*

Okay, okay. This is a book review, right? I'll wrap this up.
Optimal Reading Situation: Via candlelight, in a cabin, in the woods, off the grid, no you can't tell anyone you're going there you idiot.
Optimal Reading Snack: Billy's Pan Pizza
Optimal Reading Followup: Hack the planet.

*Oh, what? You already started one?**
**Oh, what? You only have, like, 1000 signatures? My student loan petition has more signatures than that.***
***No, it's not my student loan petition. I'm pretty sure that if I tried to start my own petition, Change.org would legally own me.

This review is from my Summer Book Club series. 

Next up: Carrie by Stephen King


The Purge - Movie Reviews 2014

The Purge - Movie Reviews 2014 | Crappy Candle

I was mildly intrigued by the premise of The Purge when it came out in 2013. It was on TV recently, and I'm still in love with mid 90s Ethan Hawke, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Plus its only 85 minutes long. How could this go wrong?

The premise of The Purge is that for one night a year, Americans can commit any crime without consequence. In the movie, people have become excessively violent, so the yearly event known as "The Purge" becomes an opportunity to legally kill. The poor become the most vulnerable because they can't afford to protect themselves, and the rich become delusional and entitled monsters. It's an attempt at social commentary, specifically the class system and violence in America, but it fails miserably.

Let's real talk, The Purge. Are you supposed to be a horror movie? Is there a genre of movie that is supposed the viewer angry? Because that's what this movie was. Not one person in this film is likeable. I am not rooting for anyone because the story is about a population that acts like a bunch of assholes for 12 hours. Am I supposed to sympathize with selfish idiots and sociopaths?


Oh! Our friendly neighbor has brought cookies! Please. Those cookies are so obviously poisoned, Cersei. Don't eat them. Your neighbors are too smiley and happy to be normal. They want to kill you, and maybe they should since you keep flashing your money around. Maybe you should be less concerned about the boat you want to buy and more concerned about the dumb children you raised.

Your daughter has not only picked a boyfriend who's a disrespectful shit, she's also picked a boyfriend who's delusional enough to think that killing the father of his girlfriend would somehow lead to a lasting relationship. She's a double idiot because that boy isn't even cute. Kick her out of the house for having such bad taste in men. Let the neighbors have her.

And sorry, your son is creepy and weird. Why can no one see that this boy is Sid from Toy Story? He's going to dismember you people in your sleep. On top of that, that kid has doesn't have much of a grasp on reality since he's hell bent on opening the door and endanger the whole family. You can just hang outside the house with your dumb sister.

Why did you allow your dumb kid to have the security code Ethan Hawke? What kind of security expert are you? Also, if you're such a big cheese, why didn't you install a crazy souped up system on your house with robotic machine guns or perhaps a giant scythe that drops down from roof, chopping everyone in half. Is wanting a Resident Evil style laser dicer for your family really so much to ask?*

Lastly: Richie Rich, we need to have a chat. You're supposed to be a creepy villain, right? Well, you weren't. You were simply irritating. Your Hamptons mullet with lack of sideburns and prep-school schmarm made me furious. I wanted to take the corners of your mouth and pull them across your face and make that blub blub noise with my finger. Oh, and your Squeaky Fromme consort didn't scare me one bit. I wanted to punch all of you in your respective boobs.

I think that my biggest beef with The Purge was its failure to understand human nature. I'd like to think that if this was real life, we'd have a good amount of Robin Hood purging going on. With all the injustices in this fictitious world, hordes of Americans would either either flee to Canada or unite and organize during other 364 days of the year and rise up against their oppressors. Maybe rob a few banks, burn Sallie Mae to the ground, then kill a few Kardashians and Justin Biebers for good measure. Now that would be a satisfying movie.


PS: I hope the sequel is all about chopping up Kardashians and Justin Biebers into little pieces with laser dicers.

PPS: And another thing, The Purge: People are not that naturally violent. I don't know where filmmakers get these crazy ideas from.

*I would normally add a video to the Resident Evil Laser Dicer here, but it's super disgusting and I don't want to freak you out without warning. Click this link at your own risk.


Guardians of the Galaxy = Pure Delight - Movie Reviews 2014

I watched Guardians of the Galaxy last night with no prior knowledge of or appreciation for its canon. All I knew is that it was about an intergalactic band of misfits, which may or may not include Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, and a rocky raccoon. Oh, and they're "guarding the galaxy" somehow. What's my takeaway post viewing? Guardians of the Galaxy was the perfect science fiction movie for 80s babies. It was a delight.

Watching Guardians of Galaxy is akin to watching a live action cartoon, and (I daresay) a funner version of Star Wars. There's a lot of action going on, a ton of colorful characters, and a good amount of cheesiness. At certain points throughout the story, I found myself thinking, "This is ridiculous. Look at that dumb guy in that dumb hat. Foolishness," but without fail, the characters would wrangle me back. Chris Pratt, a charming asshole, was the chief wrangler, but that raccoon... That raccoon is going to be a star. 

Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper (It didn't sound like him at all you guys), is a fuzzier, cockier version of Rooster Cogburn from True Grit. "Irritating animal sidekick" could have been Rocket's fate, but screenwriters James Gunn and Nicole Perlman successfully gave him a soul. It reminds me of the advice comic book writer Kelly Sue Deconnick gives to confused men who don't know how to write women: Just pretend they're people. It's not that difficult. More than anything, I was troubled by the fact that Rocket does not materially exist in the same way ET and Yoda do. Rocket only exists as a computer graphic and a rumble in Bradley Cooper's throat. I misted a little on the ride home from the theater pondering this.

I also wonder how much Marvel allows its stars to improvise. Chris Pratt, an actor who has proven his improv chops on Parks and Rec, had a few fantastic lines that felt lighter than the script. The genuine humor and joviality of these moments prevented the film from taking itself too seriously. The rest of the cast did not detract from the mix either: The wrestler was actually quite good! Zoe Saldana did not bug the shit out of me! Holy crap the treeman is MAGICAL and adorable! Kirk from Gilmore Girls is in it (in more ways than one apparently)!!!

Outside of the characters, the overarching 80s theme just about made my heart explode. There are a ton of 80s references that I will not spoil for you here; I want you to be 80s surprised as much as possible when you watch the film. The soundtrack was killer and expertly applied. Take note, Watchmen: This is how you do a pop 70s/80s soundtrack without making your audience vomit.

Criticisms? There isn't much that bugged me about the film. The villains didn't raise the stakes much: I found myself more distracted by Ronan's Braveheart face and pretty purple eyes than I was intimidated by him. As it is with any movie, I can always handle more female characters (love me some Glenn Close though) and I was mildly disturbed that all the no-name females were pink (thas how you know they're women!!). I'm really reaching here though, especially considering that one of the screenwriters, Nicole Perlman, was the first woman to pen a Marvel film. Suffice to say, I had a hard time finding much fault in the film.

Yes, there will be obvious comparisons to its earthbound cousin The Avengers, but it's not a fair comparison. The Avengers had the benefit of introducing 4 characters in their own respective films prior to its release, several of which were already household names. Guardians of the Galaxy had a giant task: They had to introduce 5 unknown heroes, 3 brand new villains, and an entire universe, then they have to get us invested in the characters and tell us a coherent story, all within about two hours. The film clocks in at 122 minutes, but given everything that had to be accomplished, I would have been happy to watch another 30 minutes.

At the same time, it's good that Guardians left some loose ends for the sequel. I look forward to seeing the characters developed further and learning why that big lavender prune-lipped man is such a scary SOB. Most of all, I look forward to the Rocket Raccoon stuffed animal I will receive for Christmas.


Rocket Raccoon up top was illustrated by Greg Hinkle (and used in this article with his permission). Multiversity comics is doing an auction to benefit writer Bill Mantlo, of whom we have to thank for creating the surly rodent. Greg's original pen & ink illustration along with other original Guardians pieces will be available for purchase at the end of the summer.


New Robocop vs. Old Robocop - Movie Reviews 2014

New Robocop vs. Old Robocop - Movie Reviews 2014

I watched the original Robocop for the first time about a year ago. I watched the new Robocop for the first time about a week ago. These are my observations:

  1. New Robocop's suit looks like it's made of rubber. Rubbercop.
  2. New Robocop moves like a Spiderman. Robey Maguire.
  3. Original Robocop's partner was a woman. Need more woman.
  4. Instead we get Robocop's wife. This is why I've become seriously concerned about Robocop's absent wee wee. I don't like thinking about Robocop's absent wee wee.
  5. Instead of pop up ads, we get Samuel L Jackson. (thumbs up) His rambling monologue at the end confused me. (thumbs sideways)
  6. New Robocop was not shot a comical amount of times. What a letdown.
  7. A boardroom full of people in suits were not shot a comical amount of times. What a letdown.
  8. I miss that guy that gets hit by toxic waste and turns into a sludgemen. Unforgivable sin.
  9. That yodeling prog rock song in the training sequence should have been much louder and much longer.
  10. New Robocop's bike sucks; it is too small for his giant body. It would have been better if Robocop was riding a hog. Or maybe if Robocop turned into a bike. Or maybe if Robocop rode a bike that looked like a slightly larger Robocop.

The makers of New Robocop took a beloved robot and tried to turn him into Ironman, but without all the stuff that makes Ironman cool. Instead we get a man without a wee wee. The original was a camp fest that fit perfectly with the camp fest that was the 80s; it's maddening that they thought flashy CGI, a more logical storyline, and a family that we're supposed to be invested in would be an improvement. These things belong in a Robocop movie about as much as Gary Oldman* belongs in a Robocop movie. Hell, I'm not even a Robocop fan. Real Robocop fans must have been furious.

Robocop doesn't need a fleshed out back story, one people hand, or lots of feelings. Robocop is not a superhero man. He's a robot. man. Let the robot define the man and the man be a friggin' robot.


*Maybe if it was a Luc Besson joint, I would be yodeling a different tune.

Robocop Illustration by Greg Hinkle


12 Things I Deduced from Conan The Destroyer After Watching the Last 20 Minutes When I Woke Up and Couldn't Go to Sleep at 3:00am

Conan the Arnold Schwarzenegger | Conan Candle

On July 5th, 2014, I awoke at 3:00 AM after a full day of binge wine cooler drinking. I couldn't fall asleep, so I turned on the TV and watched the last 20 minutes of Conan The Destroyer. This is my story:

  1. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the leader because he's big and beefy and even though I've never seen any of these movies, I'd have to be a real idiot not to know Conan the Schwarzenegger when I see him.
  2. They aren't on earth because the sky is like a water color painting and it looks magical.
  3. Arnold is forcing his maybe-outlawed group to rescue some chick named Jenna who is a princess and lives in this cave castle here.
  4. I bet Arnold met Jenna earlier in the movie and they were smitten with each other, but things were left unsaid and unfinished. I bet they're gonna do it later.
  5. That woman is not a queen, but she wants to be a queen, so she's gonna kill the soon to be queen who's younger and fairer than she. This movie is a rip off of Snow White.
  6. In this land, some horns are magical and bedazzled, and damn Jenna. Girl, you on drugs.
  7. Damn Jenna, you the sister from The Wonder Years.
  8. Grace Jones is fierce as all hell.
  9. Ew, what is that monster thing? He looks like he's made of poop. Why would you conjure a poop monster? This movie is a rip off of Joe Versus The Volcano.
  10. Ew, you pulled the horn off and the poop monster and it's even grosser than it was before. That horn is full of noodles.
  11. Princess Peach Jenna has gained control over her cave castle once more. Arnold and Sister from The Wonder Years are totally going to do it now even though she's only like 16 or something.
  12. What the hell kind of ending was that? Not nearly enough rrrromance in this movie. I bet everyone that watched the full hour and a half was really pissed off about the lack of sensuous closure.

The original photo up top is a Public Domain Arnold photo. 
The original drawing down below is a work of art. Show some respect.


Where Everyone Went on The Leftovers

Where Everyone Went on The Leftovers | Crappy Candle

I have no idea if people are enjoying this show or what the consensus on it is thus far, 4 episodes in. I'm purposely abstaining from reading anything about it because I don't want it to taint the theory I developed after the first episode. I know where everyone went on The Leftovers and I don't want anyone else's fan theories to ruin my false sense of confidence.

So, yes there are *spoilers* in this post, but I suspect you already knew that. I'm hoping my theory will end up being a big mega spoiler for the entire show. I hope I ruin it for everyone that reads this. Also, obviously, I have not read the book, nor do I have any speculation as to whether the book ending and the show ending will be the same. That could be a real spoiler, now wouldn't it?

Before I get to the heart of it, I'd like to lay out the guts:

  1. Everyone that is gone disappeared instantaneously, clothes and all. No one has any idea why or how this happened.
  2. The people that disappeared seemed to disappear at random across all nationalities, genders, ages, creeds, and perceived moralities. We're talking Gary Busey and babies, rapists and The Pope, poof, gone.
  3. The people that are left, ahem, The Leftovers, are doing about as well as you'd expect given the situation. The world keeps functioning, but there is some emotional fallout.
  4. A lot of these leftover people have been slowly losing a grip on themselves since the disappearances, even those who have not lost a loved one.
  5. There is a cult like group of people called "Guilty Remnant" that live together, don't talk, wear only white, and chain smoke cigarettes. They peacefully assemble at town gatherings and "recruit" by stalking their marks from a distance. No one on the show has any idea what their deal is yet.
  6. There is another cult like group with a leader who acts like some kind of creepy, huggy, antichrist. He has a thing for young Asian girls and has impregnated one of them.
  7. Domesticated dogs have gone feral.
  8. Our main dude Kevin Garvey, a cop played by Justin Theroux, is starting to maybe see things that other people aren't seeing. It looks like he might be going crazy just like his crazy ole dad.  

Outside of this, I know that the guy that created this show is the same fella that created Lost. All I know about Lost is it was about a group of people stranded on a deserted island after a plain crash, and mystery and mystery were revealed then wrapped up with a maybe-not-so-great explanation that it was some kind of *spoiler* Dallas-esque afterlife dream? Regardless, there was a reality bending undertone.

Enough back story, here's my theory:

The people on The Leftovers disappeared because they are in a computer. The disappeared suddenly and without explanation the same way I could delete this sentence with a few keystrokes. I'm not talking a Matrix computer situation, I'm talking no bodies in goo-pods, no scorched sky former earth. On The Leftovers, their entire existence and their entire universe is in a unfathomably large and complex computer system that some other being created millions of years ago. This is why "Guilty Remnant" has abstained from speaking or breathing normal air and opt to wear white, the absence of color. They know that there is no earth, there are no people, and there are no families. They are telling other people to "save their breath" because nothing is real and nothing matters. Their behavior is the bare minimum of effort they can give and the bare minimum of participation with the world they live in without killing themselves.

Other people, like Liv Tyler's character, are slowly becoming aware of this. They are innately able to sense that something is off, even if they cannot pinpoint exactly what it is. The dogs act as a kind of canary in the coal mine (which was mentioned in one of the episodes); the idea is that eventually, everything will fall into chaos.

I believe a few of the characters that have been revealed so far are more keyed in to what's happening. One of those people is Kevin Garvey. Like his father, Kevin Garvey Sr, Kevin Garvey (Jr) is starting to see the things that are "off" or peculiar in his world. His father does not believe that he or his son is crazy, and advises his son to keep his observations under wraps for the time being lest he end up in a mental health facility like he is. I don't think it's an accident that both characters have the same occupation and the same name.

And the weird Antichrist guy? Initially I thought he might actually be crazy, but I'm starting to think that he might be more similar to Kevin Garvey. He is aware of something and connects to reality in a way that other people cannot. I haven't decided if he's a Neo, an Oracle, or an Agent yet, but he's different from everyone else somehow.

So that's it. I wouldn't be surprised if other people have the same theory because nothing is truly new or unique in this world, right? It's not a matter of what you think of, it's a matter of how fast you think of it and publish it on the Internet. Nothing matters. There is no deep meaning behind life. Holy hell this show is a downer. Was Lost like this? Why do I feel so empty, so... leftover.


The Leftovers is on Sunday nights on HBO. It airs at the same time as The Strain, so if you like worms coming out of eyeballs more than you like slow-paced bent-reality type shows, I recommend you watch The Strain. Unless, of course, you have a DVR, in which case you can record both. I assume you do have a DVR if you have HBO. Oh wait, you can watch it on HBO Go. Yeah, do that.


Anyas Ghost - Book Reviews 2014

Anyas Ghost - Book Reviews 2014 | Crappy Candle
by Vera Brosgol

This summer, I visited my local library for the first time since I was 15. Greg and I both got library cards and I found a book to "kick off" my freshly hatched summer reading scheme. Considering that I had just finished Neil Gaiman's Sandman series (which I thoroughly enjoyed and will have to review at a later date), Anya's Ghost, by Vera Brosgol, seemed like a good follow-up. Brosgol did story boarding for Gaiman's Coraline and he gives her a hearty recommendation on the cover.

Anya's Ghost is a graphic novel that is about 225 pages. It's something that can be read easily in an evening before going to bed. For comparison's sake, it took me about a year to read all 10 trade paperbacks of The Sandman. (I'll pause for some silent judgement.) Anya's Ghost is targeted at younger teens, but I think it's a fun short read for adults too. I remember thinking I liked The Hobbit more than The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, but then felt a little miffed when I was told it was a children's book. Whatever. The heart wants what the heart wants, and sometimes the heart wants something that's easy to understand.

Anya's Ghost is beautifully illustrated with a muted greyscale palette. The story is simple and explores the life of a disgruntled teen girl trying to find her place in the world as well as her newly formed relationship with a ghost that only she can see and hear. It includes common themes for young girls including negative body image and generalized insecurity, the dirty awful clique dynamic in high school, cute boys and the palpitations they give our hearts, and the clash of American and immigrant culture for a child of an immigrant parent.

Granted this was my first foray into YA comics, but I was surprised by how candid and realistic Brosgol was with her characters. I clutched my pearls a little when I saw the main character partook in (gasp) tobacco cigarette smoking(!), but I realized quickly that it was just a knee-jerk reaction given my old-fart distrust of teenagers. The story has a certain John Hughes quality to it while maintaining a balance with a Coraline-esque whimsical spookiness.

I'd recommend Anya's Ghost to just about anyone, but I think it's a good introduction into the world of comics, especially for younger girls. Don't think it's only for girls though; Greg read it too and he's a real live man.

Optimal Reading Situation: Laying under the covers with a headlamp on.
Optimal Reading Snack: A box of Nerds and some candy cigarettes.
Optimal Reading Followup: A binge of Seventeen Magazine quiz taking.

This review is from my Summer Book Club series. 

Next up: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson.


Summer Book Club

"Reading takes time, and the glass teat takes too much of it." -- Stephen King

I've always wanted to be a bookish girl. When asked what I wanted to do on Friday night in magazine quizzes, I always wanted to choose the "curl up with a good book" option. I've always wanted to say that a book was so good that I devoured it in one sitting.

Instead, I curled up on the couch with my good TV. Disgusting, isn't it? In school, reading was a chore; I only started dabbling in recreational reading in college in a meager attempt to become a mysterious, clever, and cultured person. Somehow, I never became Rory Gilmore. While I've gotten better with reading in recent years, I'm still gently nibbling on books rather than devouring them.

Well, That just won't do. If I want to be a proper writer, I'm going to need to read more.

This summer, my husband encouraged me to take on a summer reading challenge. We went down to our public library and got library cards, and I compiled a list of authors that I want to explore. I will review each book I read and put a link to it right here.

This is my summer book club.

Summer Book Club | Crappy Candle

Anya's Ghost
The Girl Who Played With Fire
Coming Soon:  Beloved

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