Book Review: Night Film by Marisha Pessl

This is a fantastic book, and it’s an absolute perfect read for this time of year. What’s better than cozying up on the couch with a big creepy hardcover book when the weather gets cold? Nothing really, in my opinion, although this thought is much more appealing when there’s a cat hanging around to keep you company.

Why do I say that? Not because I’m a crazy cat lady (which I am), but because this book is eerie so it’s better to not be alone when reading it.  It introduces some unsettling thoughts into your psyche as you flip the pages, not to mention some of the unnerving pictures scattered throughout it. But these pictures are one of the elements that set this novel apart. Similar to a book of non-fiction that has a section of pictures in the middle, this story peppers fictional screen grabs, photos and newspaper articles throughout its narrative to mimic what the main character is reviewing as he tries to solve the case. BUT, unlike many non-fiction books that plop these additions haphazardly throughout, this book strategically places these elements so you can finish the sentence you are reading before turning your focus to the bonus material. You don’t have to stop in the middle of your sentence to look at the picture, or flip back and forth between what you’re reading to what the paragraph is referring to, it’s all there exactly when you need it.  I’m not sure if this is something that bothers others as much it bothers me, but there you go.

indexI’ve heard that the e-book version of Night Film includes many interactive elements on it that are tied to these bonus materials, so you can click through them to other webpages, etc. Quite frankly, I’d be shocked if it didn’t, because this is such an obvious plot that would benefit from something like this. However, I’m not sure I would be brave enough to click through on those things if I had an e-reader myself, because the images didn’t need any help becoming anymore real for me that they already were on the printed page.

It’s occurred to me that I haven’t given you enough information to decide whether or not you should pick this up so I’ll give you a very brief summary of the story-essentially, it’s about the suspicious suicide of a young woman named Ashley Cordova, who is the very attractive and strange daughter of the elusive and ultra-famous director Stanislas Cordova. He has only given a few interviews in his entire life, and no one really knows what he looks like, or really anything about him.  His films are apparently so scary that they are banned from regular distribution, and they’ve permanently altered people’s mental states because they are so frightening. It’s the mystery of this director and his reputation that dominates the novel.

This image won't mean anything until you read the book!

This image won’t mean anything to you until you read the book!

Interestingly, Pessl’s website states that she retained film rights to not only this book, but the films that she describes in the book that Stanislas directed. And, apparently the rights to these films have already been sold. A little piece of publishing knowledge here: even though the rights have been sold, it’s not guaranteed that the book will actually be made into a film, because people buy film rights all the time and never do anything with them (depressing thought). I know what you’re probably thinking-why are we subjected to all this recycled crap from Hollywood studios when there are these awesome story lines just waiting to be made? Good question!

But I digress. Should we consider this a horror novel? Probably not, I’ve read a bit of Stephen King and I wouldn’t say this is similar. However, I would say this is definitely a thriller, and a timely read as we get closer to Halloween. I’ll be looking for more scary books (but not too scary!), so if you have any suggestions, please leave them for me in the comments section.


Book Review: Burning From the Inside by Christine Walde

Ok, before I even begin this post, I wanted to point out the fact that I don’t usually review young adult fiction, and I’ve even said no to some people who have asked me to, because I told them “I don’t review ya fiction” but here I am eating my words. I’ve accepted that by posting this review I’m opening the flood gates to many more potential YA books- so be it! I’m a convert, I really enjoyed this book and it didn’t take me very long to read it, so why the hell not? I have the attention span of a teenager anyway (no offense to teenagers everywhere). images

It’s no secret that I used to work for Cormorant Books, so when they send me a book and tell me I’m going to like it, I read it regardless of whether I actually believe them or not because 99% of the time they’re right. It’s a great press, and they produce beautifully written books, so I’m always willing to pick up something they’ve published (or one of their imprints in this case). Ok enough with the shameless promotion, on to the book!

I enjoy a good mystery, and although this book isn’t part of the mystery genre, it had a really good hook-these teenagers are in search of a special piece of graffiti that’s supposed to describe ‘all-knowing truths’ or some equally important-sounding message. The graffiti artists themselves are essentially left-wing anarchists who  still live at home, so they’re unable to fully release their chaos upon the world but they all have some pretty strong (and crazy) ideas about society so no doubt these messages that they’re in search of may seem a bit odd to people with full-time jobs and mortgages like myself. However, Burning From the Inside was also a pleasant reminder of how much I despised particular things in my youth for no good reason at all, so I could identify with the general distaste and rage that many of these characters exhibited.

Aside from the interesting plot, the characters themselves were believable, and shockingly, likeable as well. TNT, or Thom was probably my favourite character, because although he’s run away from home and has no doubt worried his parents sick, you’re still rooting for him. He’s a nice guy who’s making the best of the hand he’s been dealt, which helped me get over the whole ‘busted for doing illegal things like graffiti’ part of him.

Which brings me to another point-do I like graffiti and agree with the characters’ beliefs that it’s a kind of misunderstood art? No, I don’t, because as I previously mentioned, I own a home, and when people write crap on my fence I get pissed off because I have to pay to replace it, and I consider graffiti a form of vandalism. (I challenge you to show me one person who owns their own place and tags public property as well-you can’t! Save that shit for your sketchbook).

Luckily, you don’t need to agree with graffiti as an art if you want to join this book. In fact, I’m not sure which side of the fence the author stands on, she brings up the point a few times in the book that graffiti isn’t the only way to get your point across. In addition, she introduces characters who also have different view points on the matter (not just adults or authority figures either) so it’s not a black and white book by any means. Perhaps I’m just generalizing about YA (the genre and the kids) when I say this, but I think it’s smart for Walde to not pick sides either way. Simply put, teenagers don’t like being told what to do, so writing a book that supports either side wholeheartedly won’t sit kindly with the younger generation. Really, I don’t think any fictional story should try to further an author’s personal agenda because it allows the reader the space to come up with their own conclusions, which I appreciate in any form of writing, no matter who the audience is.


My Last Two Summer Book Recommendations

Well, we’ve come to the end of summer, and this means my summer book recommendations on the CBC is also coming to an end. To commemorate the occasion, I got a little picture of myself and the trusty Doug Dirks to post up here, so you get a peek at the studio I inhabited for the past two months. Riveting, I know. Is it everything you dreamed of and more? I don’t have a link to share with you to listen to my last segment, but for those of you who are interested, I recommended The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud and Give Me Everything You Have by James Lasdun, as my theme was “The Private Lives of Teachers”, in honour of the first week back to school.

I’m way behind in my book reviewing, so I’m hoping to get some full reviews of these books up on here over the next few weeks, but just in case I don’t, all you need to know is that they’re good books and you should read them! Especially if you need something to get you back in the mood for Fall. These aren’t ‘summer’ reads per say, because they’re not light and fluffy (they can quite dark actually), but they’re not as dense as some of the Fall books we have coming in the next few months either.


My Apologies

I’m so sorry I haven’t written to this blog for a week now, I’m ridden with guilt! But fear not, I haven’t stopped reading, in fact I’m preparing for my last summer books show with the CBC for Tuesday. To make up for my tardiness in posting, I’ve included a photo of my adorable cat, Smokey.

If you’re that curious about what I’m up to, you can check out my goodreads account for an update on my current reads, where you will quickly discover that I don’t write reviews for every single book I read. Why not? Because reading is much more fun, that’s why.