Posted in Book Reviews (updating), psychology, writing

Never Fear Chalk, Only Playground Bullies and Staircases.

I’ve talked on here before about my own manuscript: there’s stalking, there’s jealousy, there’s pain, pleasure, basically every ingredient you need to create a believable but obviously fictional life. There’s also crime, a smidgeon of it (not including the stalking), and so I’ve taken to reading a lot of crime novels lately. I’m halfway through two books in particular and much like Hollow Kingdom, I plan on reviewing them as I read them. So let’s get started with that today.

The Chalk Man by C.J Tudor

Not going to lie, I found this book in Goodwill for $2.99. It was published in 2018, so it’s considered contemporary fiction and the inside jacket revealed there’s a dismembered body of a teenage girl, so there was definitely crime; the book met my two requirements of myself at the moment.

We jump between 2016 and 1986, so far, from a time where our protagonist, Eddie, is a middle-aged adult and back to the time when he was a budding teenager. All of his friends have nicknames and thank God they’re nothing like the ones in Hollow Kingdom. Although they are a bit gimmicky, they’re believable for children: Metal Mickey, Fat Gav, Hoppo and Eddie is called Eddie Munster because his surname is Adams, such as in The Addams Family. Apparently “Eddie Munster was out of The Munsters, but it made sense at the time . . .”

Nicky is another one of their friends, a girl who loves hanging with the boys, and her father is the local Vicar. This only becomes a problem at Fat Gav’s birthday party because Eddie’s mother works at an abortion clinic; at some point an argument erupts and Eddie’s father punches Nicky’s father. A few days later, Eddie’s family receives a pig fetus in the mail; I’m hoping this is set up for some further plot development.

Right off the bat, we get a terrifying incident: a girl is severely injured by a rogue piece of fair equipment and Eddie is right in the thick of it, inches from being impaled. He sees the jacked up face of the girl victim but is urged to help her by a strange man, Mr. Halloran. The two, so far, have a decent relationship, although things did get a little weird when Mr. Halloran saved Eddie from some serious sexual assault from some bullies who seem more like budding rapists. He brought Eddie back to his house and Mr. Halloran has a bunch of paintings of some girls from the town, including the jacked up face girl. I think he’s being set up to be the crazed murderer of the town: he’s a teacher, he’s quiet, he’s got a bunch of paintings of girls, and he’s forming a close connection with a student. Yep. Checks all the boxes for fictional murderers.

In 2016, as a middle-aged adult, Eddie lives with a much younger roommate, a young woman he fancies but will never tell her really because he’s “too old.” Fat Gav owns a pub, and he and Hoppo are angry that Eddie didn’t tell them Metal Mickey was back in town. Metal Mickey, we learn, has returned because he wants to write a book on “the incident” and I’m assuming that means the dismembered girl, although I haven’t gotten that far yet. He says he knows who the real murderer is. Spooky.

What I find annoying so far with Tudor’s writing is the constant cliff hangers at the end of each chapter. I get that it’s meant to keep you reading and is a staple of crime fiction, it just turns me off. I want the story to flow some places and hang other places, kind of like how life does. There’s also nothing special about the writing style; Tudor’s voice is average: not quite bland but not quite unique. I’m interested in the plot line, but that’s the only reason I’m continuing to read it.

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

Having a degree in psychology and living with schizophrenia and going back to school for cognitive science means I know a thing or two about disorders, including the personalities along the Dark Triad, and despite what people think, psychopathy itself is not a mental disorder. It’s a personality TRAIT, alongside Narcissism (which is different from narcissistic personality disorder) and Machiavellianism. So, when I started reading this book and realized it was about serial killers, I was waiting for the diagnosis Antisocial Personality Disorder, and sure enough, as cliche as aways, it came.

D.D. Warren is a detective called to a crime scene of a woman having been skinned (in some places) and killed, a bottle of champagne and a rose left on her nightstand. The detective went back to the crime scene, encountered what I’ve learned so far was the murderer, and got shoved down the stairs, enduring an injury that’s left her shoulder and arm completely useless during its healing process.

Doctor Adeline Day (although she goes by a different last name) is the daughter of infamous serial killer Harry Day and sister of infamous serial killer (and youngest to be tried for murderer in their area) Shana Day. Adeline is a psychiatrist and cannot feel pain due to a rare genetic disorder, but she does understand her sister’s troupe of “blood means love”, something their father taught her. Shana cut people to show them how much she loves them and is diagnosed, by her sister, with antisocial personality disorder.

I would like to point out that while the book mentions it’s quite unconventional for a family member to diagnose another family member, it’s something that wouldn’t happen. I’d also like to point out the majority of people diagnosed with and living with antisocial personality disorder are not serial killers. In fact, they live relatively normal lives. They simply don’t care for your feelings and will manipulate the hell out of you to get what they want. They are driven by their own desire and could care less what you think about that. That being said, aggression and violence come easy for them. It just doesn’t mean they’ll use it to harm people; it’s more like they could and would feel nothing if they did.

I’m tired of mental disorders being the reason for crime. Why can’t Shana just be a serial killer? Why does she need a label? Why does blood need to equal love? That’s more delusional than antisocial.

Adeline has a secret of her own, though. She goes on dates, sleeps with her dates, and cuts little strips of their skin and puts them in jars as keepsakes. I’m on page 209 right now so I don’t yet know the significance, but it better be something good. I swear to God.

So far the book has been mostly dialogue and I mean this. We get a paragraph or two of set up and story and then we get pages of dialogue, which is fine because most of the time it’s written well, but there are instances where I think the character of Adeline is much too “Hollywood psychiatrist” and a lot less “average psychiatrist,” meaning she talks like she was written for low budget movie. She has great explanations for everything and constantly knows what people are thinking without them saying more than a few words. She also talks kind of like a type-writer: old-fashioned and stiff.

That being said, I want to know who the murderer is and if he is conspiring with Shana Day, as some detectives are starting to think. I want to know if Adeline will get caught with her creepy skin obsession and lose her license (hopefully) and I want to know whether detective D.D. Warren’s shoulder will ever get better. I mean, that’s the real plot line here.

Would you guys read either of these books? What’s your chosen genre these days?

Until Next Time

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Posted in Community, Questions for you, writing

To All The Crass bunches of “Douche McGoos” out there

A lot of book reviews are reviewed when the reader has finished the book and established a (mostly) secure opinion of the content. I’m not one to do things in an orderly fashion. I’ll be reviewing this book as I read it because there are some truly awful mannerisms of the characters that I’m too lazy to annotate or remember, and there are some truly wonderful descriptions and plot ideas. I figured this would also ensure I keep up with reading.

This site won’t always be book reviews, but when it is, I’m sippin’ Captain Morgan.

Fun fact: I HATE rum. And we’re talking about the book Hollow Kingdom again. Their crow is much better than that shitty one I drew yesterday.

I read some more last night and identified the mannerisms of the characters I can’t stand Let’s start with that.

*SPOILERSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS*

Do you all remember the novel Watership Down? They made a godawful (in my opinion) Netflix adaptation. The book itself is about societal politics, but from the point of view of a commune of rabbits. Hollow Kingdom is quite the opposite, being set in a newly apocalyptic world, with the story told from the point of view of multiple animals, the main character being a crow named “shit turd,” obviously called so by the human he used to hang around.

I should have known. That name was a bright red flag.

Shit Turd calls humans “Mofos,” which I honestly found cute in the beginning in the sense that he picked it up from Jim, his human, and I thought that was the last cheesy fucking name I’d hear. It seems it’s only the beginning.

A cat calls his humans Mediocre Servants (which again, kind of cute, not terrible) but also proceeds to identify them as “dildo nosed potatoes.”

Geese are referred to as a “crass bunch of douche McGoos.”

I . . .

Look ya’ll. If it was ONE character in the book with these mannerisms, if this was a character trait–or, rather, FLAW–then maybe I could tolerate it. But it seems every character so far (Shit Turd, otherwise known as S.T; Genghis cat, and Winnie The Poodle) has the same narrative voice. The only name I’m mildly entertained by is Spark Pug. That’s . . . that’s beautiful.

And while these pervasive, amateur, cheesy phrases are spread through this book with reckless abandon, there are some savior scenes which I’ve enjoyed so far. When S.T. realizes Walgreens carries over the counter medication that could save Jim, he figures he should fly up in there and get some. He encounters four zombies punching buttons on a blood pressure machine and after yelling at them unsuccessfully, S.T. gathers Monistat, Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs, Lasix, Prilosec OTC, E-Mycin, Keflex, and Summer’s Eve, all of which “sounded effective” and would cure Big Jim. Low and behold, Summer’s Eve, that traitor bitch, fell out of the bag and knocked against the check-out stand, startling the four blood pressure zombies and some pharmacy zombies who were hiding. They all rushed for S.T. and he dropped more items while being swiped at. Eventually he gathered all the items to drop off to Jim.

So far if I were to give this book a rating, I’m sitting at about a solid 3/5. That’s being generous, only for the sake of the savior scenes like the one I described above. If she wouldn’t have written those well, I would have gave this book away to someone who enjoys reading without getting immersed in diction, syntax, plot, story, narrative voice and figurative language.

What do you guys think? Should I keep putting out an opinion on this book or have you had enough? Do you really not care at all? Let me know what you think. Give me a thumbs up emoji, even, or a thumbs down emoji or even that emoji that’s supposed to be ice cream but looks like a pile of shit. I’m happy with all of it.

Until next time.

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