Words for Dessert: Diary By Chuck Palahniuk

Words for Dessert is my little home for Book Reviews. :)

Diary
Chuck Palahniuk
Anchor, 2004
Trade Paperback
262 Pages
A Genre that can only be described as Palahniuk’s flavor…
Dark Humor/Mystery/Suspense/Contemporary

Misty Wilmot has had it. Once a promising young artist, she’s now stuck on an island ruined by tourism, drinking too much and working as a waitress in a hotel. Her husband, a contractor, is in a coma after a suicide attempt, but that doesn’t stop his clients from threatening Misty with lawsuits over a series of vile messages they’ve found on the walls of houses he remodeled.

Suddenly, though, Misty finds her artistic talent returning as she begins a period of compulsive painting. Inspired but confused by this burst of creativity, she soon finds herself a pawn in a larger conspiracy that threatens to cost hundreds of lives. What unfolds is a dark, hilarious story from America’s most inventive nihilist, and Palahniuk’s most impressive work to date.
GoodReads Summary

I first read this book back in 2005 or 2006 when I was 15 years old, again in 2008, and I recently skimmed through it trying to remember if I enjoyed it or not. While it’s not my favourite, it’ll always hold a special place in my heart.

“Can You Feel This?”

I did.

This book with its angst filled existential nihilistic narrator is the one that introduced me to Chuck Palahniuk’s style of storytelling (not Fight Club?! I know…). This was also the first book I chose for myself (and not forced upon in school) outside of the Teen/YA genre (and I’ve had a hard time looking back since).

Diary can be a hard read for new comers to this genre/Palahniuk’s writing… or at least, I found it a little hard but at the same time, it’s still a quick read with only 262 pages. This book stirred quite a bit of an internal struggle for me. There were some points (graphic in gore-y disturbing details and imagery) that made me want to put the book down and take a breather and at the same time push through because I needed to know more. I think that’s just how Palahniuk works though, it’s a little fascinating how his dark tales can affect you.

I was really interested in the art and history aspect of this novel because it was brought into the story in such a strange and kind of freaky way. Misty Wilmot’s struggles and suffering really put me on edge and as the story unravels… well… without revealing anything I can only say, it’s seriously messed up. And I can understand why Palahniuk uses his character’s talent for art and personal struggles to his advantage. Most artists (successful or not) use their darker thoughts and struggles as inspiration for their art as well as an outlet to let go of these demons. It was clever.

The book also has a few moments that caught me off guard leaning forward on the edge of my seat with my mind screaming “WHAT?!”

I smile just thinking about it. Ahh… Good times.

This was the first book that gave me the whole “What the hell did I just read” reaction and I’m quite happy for it. I’d definitely recommend it for someone who wants to step into a new genre. I can’t guarantee that it’ll be everyone’s cup of tea but all the same, still an enjoyable read.

My 15 year old me would have probably rated this book a 5 out of 5. But nowwww…. I think I’d rate it a 4. Why? Well I’m still a squeamish person and some of those visuals I could have lived without haha. Petty… I know.

Have you read this book or any of Chuck Palahniuk’s books/shorts? What did you think?
Any recommendations (of his writing or writing similar to his style/genre) to give me? (Other Palahniuk flavors I’ve read are Fight Club, Choke, Tell-All, and Guts.)

Until Next Time~!
Sam

Sam’s Words for Dessert: The Child Thief by Brom Review

The Child Thief
Brom
Harper Voyager – August 2009
Paperback
Dark Fantasy/Horror
476 Pages

Peter is quick, daring, and full of mischief–and like all boys, he loves to play, though his games often end in blood. His eyes are sparkling gold, and when he graces you with his smile you are his friend for life, but his promised land is “not” Neverland.

Fourteen-year-old Nick would have been murdered by the drug dealers preying on his family had Peter not saved him. Now the irresistibly charismatic wild boy wants Nick to follow him to a secret place of great adventure, where magic is alive and you never grow old. Even though he is wary of Peter’s crazy talk of faeries and monsters, Nick agrees. After all, New York City is no longer safe for him, and what more could he possibly lose?

There is “always” more to lose.

Accompanying Peter to a gray and ravished island that was once a lush, enchanted paradise, Nick finds himself unwittingly recruited for a war that has raged for centuries–one where he must learn to fight or die among the “Devils,” Peter’s savage tribe of lost and stolen children.

There, Peter’s dark past is revealed: left to wolves as an infant, despised and hunted, Peter moves restlessly between the worlds of faerie and man. The Child Thief is a leader of bloodthirsty children, a brave friend, and a creature driven to do whatever he must to stop the “Flesh-eaters” and save the last, wild magic in this dying land.

First things first. Peter Pan was never one of my favourite stories (both disney adaptation and Barrie’s original). This though… I almost have no words. This book was exactly the kind of book I’ve been looking for for a while now. But before I get into the nitty gritty stuff, let’s talk first impressions:

The cover is intriguing, illustrated by the Author himself. The summary isn’t the greatest but I’m a sucker for hooks and personally, I thought the ‘There is “always” more to lose’ was a pretty good one. In the middle of the book there are some colored illustrations of a few characters (none of Nick unfortunately) and every chapter had a drawing accompanying it which was a really nice touch. As someone who’s interested in drawing and character design, I really appreciated the pieces of work.

Now the actual story… I got pulled in right from the get-go and I definitely had a hard time putting it down. My mind was all like “Sleep be damned! Go Sam! Go to Avalon (this novel’s Neverland)! Join the Devils and become clan!”. Well… I couldn’t refuse and when the book came to an end, unfortunately, my adventure there did as well. Sigh.

This re-working of the Peter Pan story is obviously a little darker. There are different point of views throughout the book, mostly Peter and Nick, but it’s nice to see where each characters’ motivation for their actions are coming from and it isn’t confusing or hard to keep track of who’s who and what happening. Their emotions and thoughts were so very real and human it got me thinking about how I would react, what would motivate me?

Because of the different point of views, I kept changing my mind about how I felt for each character, some times I was angry at Peter because Nick was angry at him other times I felt sympathy. There were characters that I hated (coughleroycough) and characters that I really liked but couldn’t get to know because they weren’t the focus.

The story line really flowed and weaved together nicely, there wasn’t a part I didn’t like, and I definitely didn’t feel as though some scenes dragged on like some other books leave me feeling. I actually have lot of lines that I enjoyed too. What?! Quotes?! I know. I know. I’ve never quoted here before but there’s a start for everything. I don’t know what it was about some of the lines but they seemed to just pull at my heart and make me feel something. I’ll took that as a sign of liking it.

Two quotes that I really liked were:

“The darkness is calling. A little danger, a little risk. Feel your heart race. Listen to it. That’s the sound of being alive.”

&

“Men who fear demons see demons everywhere.”

Final verdict? I love this novel. It’s definitely one of my favorites and definitely the best one I’ve read this year. I can’t wait to go for a second and third read! Actually, I’m nervous that I loved this book so much that I won’t be able to get pulled into whatever I read next.

I gave this a 4.5 cupcakes with extra extra sprinkles and icing. I definitely recommend this book but I’ll admit it might not be for everyone. It’s an entertaining read, the writing isn’t over the top but simple and matches the feel of the story.

If you’ve read this what did you think? I’m really curious to know! Especially if you’ve read Barrie’s Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter Pan and Wendy. ALSO. If you have read this and enjoyed it, what’s something you’d recommend to people who liked this? I need more books like this but I don’t know where to start hunting.

Till next time~!
Happy Reading~!

Sam

Sam’s Words for Dessert: Arranged by Catherine McKenzie Review

Arranged Catherine McKenzie
Arranged
Catherine McKenzie
HarperCollins Canada – January 2011
Paperback
Chick Lit.
390 Pages

Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company’s success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?

A few months later, Anne is travelling to a Mexican resort, where in one short weekend she will meet and marry Jack. And against all odds, it seems to be working out-until Anne learns that Jack, and the company that arranged their marriage, are not what they seem at all.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but I’m not a huge fan of romance novels/chick lits. That doesn’t mean one doesn’t manage to get my attention but it’s very rare. Especially finding one that I actually enjoy… Now, the reason why I picked Arranged up was because I really enjoyed Catherine McKenzie’s first novel Spin. I thought, Hey, why not? I didn’t hate Spin so what are the chances of me disliking this one?

Getting right into it. My first impression of the book was: nice cover, not one of my favourites but good enough. The tag line: “What’s love got to do with it?” didn’t do anything for me. The summary did seem to work well enough though; it was the “not what they seem at all” that really got me.

By the time I got through the book (6 hours) I can tell you that I was feeling extremely disappointed. I’ve been meaning to write this review for the longest time but that feeling seemed to get in the way and every time I tried to write this I’d just sigh. Defeated.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a terrible book and there are some moments that I enjoyed but (there’s always a but isn’t there?) it could have been better. See, as I mentioned a bit earlier, the “not what they seem” is what caught my attention, so with this information you, as the reader, already know something is going to go wrong. You flick page after page and you’re waiting and waiting. I won’t tell you what happens (as sorely tempted as I am), but I will tell you that the big conflict only arrived near the very end of the novel and in my opinion a little predictable.

Maybe if the summary hadn’t mentioned there would be a twist, I wouldn’t have been waiting for this (maybe) big thing to happen. Alas… since I did know something was supposed to happen, I kept trying to figure it out and I got impatient waiting for the event to arrive. In the end, this event didn’t live up to any of my expectation and utterly disappointed me.

Now that I know what happens, I might go back for a second read with a fresh mind. See if I can enjoy the middle more since I have nothing to feel impatient about. We’ll see.

I’m giving Arranged 2.5 cupcakes. No sprinkles on the icing unfortunately (maybe after a second read). It wouldn’t be the first book I’d put on a recommendation list but I wouldn’t black-list it either.

Till next timeee
Happy Reading~!

Sam
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Sam’s Words for Dessert: Outlaw by Angus Donald Review

Outlaw
Angus Donald
St. Martin’s Griffin – April 2011
Paperback
Gen. Fiction/Historical Fiction
384 Pages

In the tradition of Bernard Cornwell and Ben Kane, Outlaw is a rousing historical novel that mixes legend with fact to bring to life the time, the lives and the struggles of late 12th century England.  As the Henry II struggles with his rebellious children and the conflict between the Saxon nobility and the Norman conquerors continues on as bloody as ever, there is a figure that has remained firmly fixed in the imagination of generations – Robin Hood, an outlaw and a renegade nobility determined to bring down the men who took his land, his family, and his position.

When he’s caught stealing, young Alan Dale is forced to leave his family and go to live with a notorious band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest. Their leader is the infamous Robin Hood. A tough, bloodthirsty warrior, Robin is more feared than any man in the county. And he becomes a mentor for Alan; with his fellow outlaws, Robin teaches Alan how to fight – and how to win. But Robin is a ruthless man – and although he is Alan’s protector, if Alan displeases him, he could also just as easily become his murderer… From bloody battles to riotous feast days to marauding packs of wolves, Outlaw is a gripping, action-packed historical thriller that delves deep into the fascinating legend of Robin Hood.

_

So, like a lot of the stuff I read, I came across this book while I was at work. The cover didn’t really catch my attention, but the “A Novel of Robin Hood” written under the title did. The moment I read that line, there was the sound of a click and a bulb lit up in my brain. “Have I ever read the story, or any story, about Robin Hood?” The answer was no, no I don’t think so. It took a bit of contemplating because I already had a huge pile of books that were waiting to be read, but alas. I bought it anyway. I’m so happy I did too! Lately, I’d been reading slow-paced novels and this was definitely a nice change.

Since I haven’t actually read Robin Hood stories before, I’m much more familiar with the family/disney movie version of events. This telling of Robin Hood displays both, the good and bad, although definitely heavier on the criminal side than the kid’s movie fun. I mean, I don’t want to spoil this for you, but (I can’t help it) in the first chapter, they chop a guy’s tongue off. If that’s not stronger on the outlaw side of things then I don’t know what is haha.

I don’t want to go into too much detail on everything because it’s still fresh on my mind and if I’m let loose on the writing, I may as well spoil the whole book. What I will say though, is I had a hard time putting the book down. The former insomniac in me tried to tempt me into staying up all night to finish it. Unfortunately, I knew that getting an hour of sleep (having to be up at 4am the following morning) probably wouldn’t be a good idea if I needed to function properly the next day.

I’m only pointing out this fact because it’s been a while since a book has caught my attention this way. The last few books I read didn’t have me feeling conflicted by the lack of time I had to read. What else do I like about this book? Well, the awesome-ness of it isn’t over, because guess what, IT’S A SERIES. Yes that’s right. The 4th book is coming out this year so I got to hustle and read the other books.

Outlaw got 4 out of 5 cupcakes (maybe some extra icing and sprinkles on top too) and I recommend it for people who like Robin Hood, or just an action, fast-paced story. It has a nice flow, good writing and it’s not the kind of read that needs patience to get through (you only really need patience if you like it so much and you don’t have enough time to actually read it). :)

I may or may not come back and expand this review once I’ve gone through the book a second time.
(yes. I enjoyed it that much, I’m going for seconds)

Till next timeee~!

Sam