That Girl With A Blog

If there was ever an author to combine physics and country music into one book, it’s Patrick Wensink.

In Black Hole Blues, Wensink ditches the short story in favor of a proper novel. The estranged Caruthurs brothers (hah) have surely made complete messes of their lives. J. Claude is a washed up, broken down country singer on a quest to write a ditty for every woman’s name on earth, including his (also estranged) sister, Zygmut. Have you ever tried to rhyme something with Zygmut? Well, it’s lead to a lot of sleepless nights and turkey clubs for the self-proclaimed “Nashville’s Shakespeare”. Ohhhh, almost forgot about the nasty rivalry with that pansy ass, Kenny Rogers. Jerk. Meanwhile, brother Lloyd is busy trying to stop the black hole that he created from slowly (and I mean slowly) enveloping the earth.

Remember that whole, “…I have a feeling that Wensink’s only going to get better from here” situation? Well, what can I say? I was right. Hilariously written, you get the story through a kaleidoscope of characters. From J. Claude’s trusty guitar, Rusty, to a smoker (like, the meat kind, not the cigarette kind), to a vulgar proton, to a sandwich, to a bus, to the chef, to all of the main characters and more. It adds a depth to the story and a humor otherwise unmatched.

While certainly preposterous, the book itself is easy to follow, considering that county music and physics are certainly not two of my strong points. It’s not that it’s “dumbed-down” either, though. It’s simply an engaging story. Underneath it all, it all comes down to goals, love, identity, and what we would all do if we knew if the end of the world was coming. Universal themes hidden beneath a Wentastic layer of absurdity.

It’s also a serious page turner. Between the Jasper Fforde books I’ve been reading and this one, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to go back and re-read the last few pages because I get way too excited about what’s going to happen and just want to get there already! Trust me, though, whatever you think is going to happen next in a Patrick Wensink book, you’re going to have to guess again.

Check it out for yourself. You can pick up a copy for less than $11 over on Amazon. It gets a resounding A here on That Girl With A Blog (two for two!).

Also, in honor of the 4th of July, watch this classic video of Cox & Combes’ George Washington. Have a great holiday weekend, everyone!

George Washington


{March 26, 2010}   Truth and Beauty Bombs

Dear Joey Comeau,
I think you’re awesome.
That Girl With A Blog

Seriously, if you haven’t checked out A Softer World yet, do it. This is one of my particular favorites:

Ooooh, or this one:

Or this one:

Also, Joey Comeau is my hero. Check these out from the site:

“I think the best life would be one that’s lived off the grid. No bills, your name in no government databases. No real proof you’re even who you say you are, aside from, you know, being who you say you are. I don’t mean living in a mountain hut with solar power and drinking well water. I think nature’s beautiful and all, but I don’t have any desire to live in it. I need to live in a city. I need pay as you go cell phones in fake names, wireless access stolen or borrowed from coffee shops and people using old or no encryption on their home networks. Taking knife fighting classes on the weekend! Learning Cantonese and Hindi and how to pick locks. Getting all sorts of skills so that when your mind starts going, and you’re a crazy raving bum, at least you’re picking their pockets while raving in a foreign language at smug college kids on the street. At least you’re always gonna be able to eat.”

Also, he recently just got rid of all of his books and DVDs. If you know me, you know what a huge deal that is.

As Joey says:

“I am moving out, and I don’t want anything weighing me down! What if I want to get a job on an ocean liner? Or bare knuckle boxing in Hong Kong? Will my apartment really need all three Ocean’s Eleven moves? Will I really need two versions of Sleepaway Camp? I suspect not.”

I sigh and remember living out of a backpack. It was…fantastic. Plus, he’s Canadian. w00t w00t for Canada! Is Enid a Canadian thing (read his Live Journal)? Can you answer me this Joey Comeau? Or you, Barenaked Ladies? I love the name Enid. I want to be Canadian.

Besides the website, you can check him out on Myspace, Live Journal, and Twitter. Make sure to check out Overqualified, over on the Softer World site.

I don’t want to leave Emily Horne out either…the other half of A Softer World. She’s awesome, too. And she takes awesome pictures. You can check out her photoblog on the site, I Blame the Sea.

Ooooh, and check this out, too. I followed that story religiously, it kicked so much ass.

I have to come right out and say it: I love Patrick Wensink and I love his new book, Sex Dungeon For Sale. It’s like someone put all of my favorite authors into a meat grinder and fashioned this book out of it’s meaty goodness. That’s kinda fucked up, actually…but after reading this book, you’ll understand.

From six year old Frenchmen to Wensink’s own futuristic version of Typhoid Mary, this book is full of laughs and moments of sheer vulgarity, which elicits more laughs. Vulgar in the sense that Fool was vulgar. (Read: In the most enjoyable manner.)

Wensink’s debut of short stories is really one of the best books that I have read in a long time. Especially coming from a new author. It seems like the first book from a new author is either the absolute best, or the absolute worst, but I have a feeling that Wensink’s only going to get better from here. More of a Christopher Moore than a Chuck Palahniuk. (Sorry guys, I love Chuck as much as anyone, but the last few books…well, some things are better left unsaid.)

While reading this book I had the urge to yell, “Oh, the twist!” about 100 times. I did refrain, however…for the most part. “My Son Thinks He’s French” did actually actually evoke a grunt of…I don’t know what it was…a mixture of shock, enjoyment, and disgust? I read it the very first day I got it, made such a noise, and immediately handed it to my husband and told him that he had to read it. It’s like one of those, “This smells terrible, smell it!” moments. It’s fantastically disturbing.

“The Many Lives of James Brown’s Capes” is a silly good time. I have two words for you to sum up this story: Sex. Machine. If I had been drinking something while reading this book, this would have been the one to make liquid come shooting out of my nose. Then there’s “Johnny Appleseed’s Punchateria”. What I would give to have one of these actually exist… god, just read this damn book. Then convince all of your friends to buy it so you can understand how hilariously funny Johnny Appleseed becomes as an inside joke. You’ll see. Also hilarious is “Me and Gerardo, Down By the Schoolyard”. This one can also be summed up in two words: Biz. Markie.

Also, I do have to add this to the list of Favorite Moments of Blogging, and it explains why I love this guy so much…

So I get this book in the mail, rip open the packaging like a rabid badger and there it is in all of it’s shiny glory. Also included in the package was a coloring book and this:

Yes folks, you read that correctly. I AM a Wentastic Club Ranger AND I am very good looking. Take that. This seriously made my day and I have kept it in my wallet ever since.

Seriously you guys, go buy this book. It’s on Amazon right now for less than $10. Support new authors, the fantastic New Bizarro Author Series, and Eraserhead Press.

I addition to his website, you can catch Wensink on Facebook and Twitter. Go check him out! A!

This just in!

A COLORING CONTEST!? Christopher Moore!?

Straight from the author of the newly released Sex Dungeon for Sale!:

Patrick Wensink recently decided there’s only one way to celebrate the release of his book, “Sex Dungeon for Sale!”. And that is by holding a coloring contest.

He had a series of illustrations created based on some of the book’s stories, including a Kindergartener who thinks he’s French, a puddle of ketchup shaped like Elvis and something called, “Chicken Soup for the Kidnapper’s Soul.”

While the coloring contest sounded like fun, Wensink added a little excitement by offering an autographed stack of his favorite books from 2009 to the winner.

Fool– By Christopher Moore

AM/PM – By Amelia Gray

Tales Designed to Thrizzle – by Michael Kupperman

Help! A Bear is Eating Me! – By Mykle Hansen

The contest ends December 14.

For all the details visit

For serious! Get the hell on that, people! Christopher Moore, autographed free stuff, coloring, supporting a new writer.

You can get all the fantastic details at his website under the “Randomness” category. Also, check out his new book, available on Amazon now!

{September 2, 2009}   In the Tenth House – Laura Dietz

In The Tenth House - Laura DietzI loved and hated this book 100 times over while reading it.

Set in late 19th century London, Dietz weaves a story in and out of that fine line between spiritualism and medicine in that era. In a world of gutter, penny-cure doctors and half hack mediums, we meet Dr. Ambrose Gennett and Miss Lily Embly in the strangest of situations.

Dr. Gennett, a pioneer of new wave psychology and psychoanalysis, meets Miss Embly briefly during an encounter at a train station, before she abruptly flees. Having a doctor’s mind, Dr. Gennett finds her to be much troubled woman and well, there’s simply something about her. He pretty much stalks her until he find out where she lives. He shows up on her doorstep one evening during working hours to find that she is actually a medium. No proper lady at all. While Gennett is enraged and disappointed in his first impression, Lily sees this as a sign. Well, she is a medium, folks…

Lily works her way into Dr. Gennett’s private matters using her employment as a medium to fascinate the women of Gennett’s  life. Soon enough, she’s holding seances for his mother, sister, and aunt. Then the scandal begins. Seriously. I don’t even know what happens at this point. Everyone’s pointing fingers and placing the blame until it’s all one jumbled mass of lies and miscommunications. It’s a case of mistaken identity I suppose, but in the eye of the beholder. How can you be pissed off at someone for not being what you expected them to be?

The story quickly dives into childish bickering and behind-the-scenes secrets. By the end, you hate these people. They’re simply ridiculous. I have to admit that during these parts, it was pretty…uninteresting. At the point where Deitz should have been bringing everything together and explaining some of this mayhem, it’s just immature spats and no one bothers to actually listen to anything that someone else has to say.You will find no revelations here.

The last two pages make it all worth it though. It leaves with a serious feeling of, “What the fuck? Did that just happen? What the fuck is wrong with these people?”

If you can make it through the last half of the book, you’ll be amazed at the ending. There’s just a lot of drivel to get there. This is her first book though, and for that, I have to say that it’s damn good. I can’t wait to see her hone that skill into something wonderful.

Laura Dietz’s Site

One Dangerous Lady - Jane Stanton HitchcockI love books written by/for rich people. I know, I know. It’s like my own version of celebrity obsession, but chances are…much more deceased. Like in the 1800’s – early 1900’s when the only people who could afford to write books were rich and entitled. Oftentimes, (did I really just use that word?) it was little more than an account of daily life. What their meals were, what parties they attended, which servant they were banging, and dropping the “N” bomb a lot. Hey, it was the 1900’s.

This book kind of reminds me of that, but a modern tale of sordid romance and murder! Duh duh duhhhhhh!

One Dangerous Lady by Jane Stanton Hitchcock features New York socialite, Jo Slater, and her magnificent band of merry millionaires. Well, some not so merry, I suppose. Yacht-aficionado, art collector, and aristocrat, Russell Cole has mysteriously vanished and one sordid mystery after another unravels.

You know, it’s always so damn hard doing these book reviews. Where can you go without giving it all away?

This book’s really quite indulgent. Like when you’re done, all you want is some chocolate and a cigarette. All wrapped around an extravagant and suspenseful mystery. Mmmm.

Well of Lost Plots - Jasper FfordeThe Well of Lost Plots is the third installment of the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I’ll admit it…when I began this book, I honestly didn’t even think I was going to be able to finish it! I jumped into this series on this book and really should have taken the time to read the first two. It would have made this book make sense from the beginning, but even without all that back story, once you get into the swing of how things are done in the Book World, it’s a really good read.

This book, and the rest in the series, have an incredibly complex story-line, but I’ll do my best to summarize for you:

A little background on Thursday:
Thursday Next was introduced in the first book of this series, The Eyre Affair, as a literary detective who rescues a kidnapped Jane Eyre and returns her to the Emily Bronte novel, with a surprise ending of course! She then teams up with Miss Havisham from Great Expectations to stop an evil villain who has escaped into the Outland in Lost In A Good Book. Somewhere in those two novels, her husband, Landen, is eradicated. Another evil villain, or maybe the same evil villain, travels back in time, killing Landen in his childhood and leaving Thursday Next pregnant with a baby who’s father never technically existed. To make matters worse, Thursday is having her dreams and memories invaded by Aornis, a mnemonoporph and sister of Hades, who is changing and erasing those memories of Landen.

Onto the book!
In The Well of Lost Plots, a home for un-published and half-finished stories, a pregnant Thursday is trying to have a little down time. She’s set up shop in a houseboat in Caversham Heights, a detective novel so bad, it’s on the verge of being dissassembled and thrown into the Text Sea.

Working part time as “Mary”, the lead in Caversham Heights, and part time as a Jurisfiction agent, along with Miss Havisham and Beatrice from Dante’s Inferno, ensuring that things in the Book World are regulated so that reading is not disrputed in the Outland.

During all of this, the Book World is almost ready to launch Ultra Word, “the greatest advancement since the invention of movable type”, revolutionizing the way we read.

Something goes terribly wrong however, and Tursday and Miss Havisham find themselves chasing an escaped minotaur, loose gramasites, and the mispeling vyrus through various books and trying to find out who set them free in the first place, and why.

I don’t want to give too much away, but there are some seriously evil people in that Book World.

It’s really a unique book and I’m sure series of books. Never before have I read anything like this and once you’re able to actually get into it and understand how the Book World works, it’s downright charming. Definitely check it out!

Jasper Fforde’s Site

A Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal - Asne SeierstadFrom the publisher: “From January until April 2003 — for one hundred and one days — Åsne Seierstad worked as a reporter in Baghdad for Scandinavian, German, and Dutch media. Through her articles and live television coverage she reported on the events in Iraq before, during, and after the attacks by the American and British forces. But Seierstad was after a story far less obvious than the military invasion. From the moment she arrived in Baghdad Seierstad was determined to understand the modern secrets of an ancient place and to find out how the Iraqi people really live.

In A Hundred and One Days, she introduces us to daily life under the constant threat of attack — first from the Iraqi government and later from American bombs. Moving from the deafening silence of life under Hussein to the explosions that destroyed the power supply, the water supply, and security, Seierstad sets out to discover: What happens to people when the dam bursts? What do they choose to say when they can suddenly say what they like? What do they miss most when their world changes overnight?

Displaying the novelist’s eye and lyrical storytelling that have won her awards around the world, Seierstad here brings to life an unforgettable cast of characters to tell the stories we never see on the evening news. The only woman in the world to cover both the fall of Kabul in 2001 and the bombings of Baghdad in 2003, Åsne Seierstad has redefined war reporting with her mesmerizing book.”

Usually, I’m not all that into politics. I try to keep connected to what’s going on there, but this is not the sort of book I would normally read.

A Hundred and One Days: A Baghdad Journal, by the New York Times best-seller of The Bookseller of Kabul, Asne Seierstad, is so much more than politics. In fact, that’s very little of it. As the publisher’s statement says, this book is about a woman reporting for various news sources, including the Dutch, German, and Scandinavian media, and her quest to find the voice of the people. Chronicling from before to during to after the bombings by the American and British forces, from the deafening silence of oppression under Saddam Hussein to the destruction of his infamous statue. From the government monitoring everything to no running water or electricity. From people who had lived like this for years to children and their views on war and their wild fantasies. For a while, Seierstad works with a team of child psychologists and interviews families. That’s probably one of the more disturbing parts of this book. This is less about bombing a country than bombing families.

This book brings into blatant light the oppression of a people and just how common it is. About how human rights are denied day in and day out by these dictators. It’s a shocking reminder of how costly freedom really is.

Especially with news from today, only six years later, and people still fighting for the same freedoms, it makes one wonder if there will ever be universal freedom. If people will ever be filled with empathy and compassion.

All in all, it’s kind of a depressing tale. There is no happy ending, only truth. It truly makes you appreciate what we DO have, as Americans. There is an element of fear in this book that I simply can’t comprehend. If Americans were jailed, tortured, or simply vanished because of slander against the president or the goverment, christ, there wouldn’t be any of us left!

Here’s to being able to be smarmy bastards. Check out this book.

She doesn’t seem to have a website, but you can check out her Wikipedia page here.

{July 10, 2009}   Christopher Moore – Fool

Christopher Moore - FoolThe best selling author of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, has done it again with Fool. The tawdry tale of King Lear and his empire…a comedy? At the very beginning of the book, Moore warns us:

“This is a bawdy tale. Herein you will find gratuitous shagging, murder, spanking, maiming, treason, and heretofore unexplored heights of vulgarity and profanity, as well as nontraditional grammar, split infinitives, and the odd wank . . . If that’s the sort of thing you think you might enjoy, then you have happened upon the perfect story!”

I don’t even think I can paint a better picture of this book than Harper Collins already has:

“A man of infinite jest, Pocket has been Lear’s cherished fool for years, from the time the king’s grown daughters—selfish, scheming Goneril, sadistic (but erotic-fantasy-grade-hot) Regan, and sweet, loyal Cordelia—were mere girls. So naturally Pocket is at his brainless, elderly liege’s side when Lear—at the insidious urging of Edmund, the bastard (in every way imaginable) son of the Earl of Gloucester—demands that his kids swear their undying love and devotion before a collection of assembled guests. Of course Goneril and Regan are only too happy to brownnose Dad. But Cordelia believes that her father’s request is kind of . . . well . . . stupid, and her blunt honesty ends up costing her her rightful share of the kingdom and earns her a banishment to boot.

Well, now the bangers and mash have really hit the fan. The whole damn country’s about to go to hell in a handbasket because of a stubborn old fart’s wounded pride. And the only person who can possibly make things right . . . is Pocket, a small and slight clown with a biting sense of humor. He’s already managed to sidestep catastrophe (and the vengeful blades of many an offended nobleman) on numerous occasions, using his razor-sharp mind, rapier wit . . . and the equally well-honed daggers he keeps conveniently hidden behind his back. Now he’s going to have to do some very fancy maneuvering—cast some spells, incite a few assassinations, start a war or two (the usual stuff)—to get Cordelia back into Daddy Lear’s good graces, to derail the fiendish power plays of Cordelia’s twisted sisters, to rescue his gigantic, gigantically dim, and always randy friend and apprentice fool, Drool, from repeated beatings . . . and to shag every lusciously shaggable wench who’s amenable to shagging along the way.

Pocket may be a fool . . . but he’s definitely not an idiot.

This book isn’t all King Lear, however. Moore himself explains that this book is a bubbling brew of Shakespearean tales including a rhyme spinning ghost a la Hamlet (because there’s always a bloody ghost!), and the three haggard witches, Parsley, Sage, and Rosemary from Macbeth.

This book is a deliciously wicked take on the Shakespearean tragedy, filled with blasphemy, war, betrayal, revenge, bonking, drool, boobs, codpieces, puppets, and more hilarious vulgarity than I have ever seen out of Moore. I’ve been a long time fan of Moore’s and this one is every bit as good as Lamb. While taking a multitude of liberties with the general story of Lear, Moore does keep parts intact, almost quoting from the original. Within all the mayhem, silliness, and wild bonking, there’s a fondness for the original that Moore exudes. He laughs with Shakespeare, not at him.

In the afterward, Moore concedes that people who have now read Fool, will be tempted to read (or reread) the original. Herein lies the path to madness, states Moore. I can see why. They’re two genuinely distinctive stories, they just happen to have the same characters. As in the Harper Collins description, the lead of Moore’s story is not Lear, but his loyal jester and black fool, the randy little Pocket who’ll stick it to anything lukewarm (princesses, kitchen staff, anchoresses…). But there wouldn’t be a tale here if all of Pocket’s deviously designed plans didn’t go recklessly awry.

I don’t want to give away too many of the good parts, but this book is truly laugh-out-loud funny and I highly recommend it!

Christopher Moore’s Site

et cetera
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