Thursday, September 22, 2011

Book Review: Chimichanga by Eric Powell

In Eric Powell's Chimichanga, we're introduced to Lula, the bearded girl of Wrinkle's Traveling Circus where the freaks aren't so freakish. We're given Heratio - The Boy Faced Fish! An amazing two eyed goat who tells the future! Randy the colossus of average size - he's a man with the strength of a slightly larger man, watch him fight his way out of a wet paper bag and be amazed at the large sacks of groceries he carries up stairs and you can't forget his kitten wrestling abilities! Needless to say, the circus is struggling.

The story begins with Lula going off to buy lunch. She heads for a taco stand and orders; you guessed it, a chimichanga. On her way back, she's met by a witch with a horrible gas problem. In exchange for a few hairs from her beard, Lula receives a wagon and a rock which, unbeknownst to either of them, was recently puked up by a rather sickly looking stork/vulture hybrid. Lula takes her wagon and heads back to the circus only to be slowed by an increased weight in the wagon. She finds the rock, which apparently was an egg, has hatched and now a large, hairy monster is sitting in her wagon. Lula names the monster Chimichanga and takes it back to the circus.

Meanwhile, the witch has prepared her brew and it's cured her gassiness. She immediately takes it to Dinderly Pharmaceuticals where she tries to sell the concoction as a cure for chronic gas. In a rather fun dialogue the owner of the pharmaceutical company explains that cures aren't good for business. They prefer medicine which will keep consumers coming back for more. While the witch is arguing with him, her gas problem erupts twice as bad. The pharmaceutical guy is immediately interested and shoves aside a researcher who has almost found the cure for cancer so he can make room for his new darling: pills that relieve gas and then makes it come back twice as bad. However, there's the problem of where to get more beard hair from a young girl.

What follows is an adventure as Chimichanga gets taken away and Lula is kidnapped. The lawyers of Dinderly claim ownership over her and the circus performers must come up with a way to save her.

I'm relatively new to the graphic novel genre and I have to say, I really enjoyed reading this. The pictures were fun and while colorful, they were a bit muted to show the grittiness of the carnival. Any colors to do with the pharmaceutical company were stark and dismal which gave the intended feeling that we’re dealing with something bad.

Some might find the subject of the pharmaceutical company dealt with a in a heavy handed manner, but I laughed the whole way through. The story between Lula and Chimi was vaguely reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster. I loved the not quite freaks in the circus. It was a little predictable at times, but well worth the read if you’re looking for something light and fun.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Guest Review: The Girl in the Box

Amidst the war and genocide in the jungles of Guatemala, a visiting Psychoanalyst discovers a young teen chained inside a wooden box. The girl is mute and appears to be mentally damaged. After the pleas of her parents to take her with him, Dr. Jerry Simpson takes the girl back to his home in Canada. Enlisting the help of his close friends and colleagues, he attempts to unlock the mystery of her past.

When the doctor is later found murdered by the girl, Jerry's long- time friend and lover, Caitlin, sets out to find out why it happened and what went wrong.

I found this book to be very well researched, as evidenced by the author's thorough knowledge of the mental health community and the vivid descriptions of the settings used in the book. The question of "why" will keep you turning the pages in this well-written psychological mystery.

*Note: The Girl in the Box by Sheila Dalton will be available in Novmber 2011. Guest review done by Nancy Fields.

Friday, September 9, 2011

When I first read "The Prisoner of Azkaban,"by J.K. Rowling, the dementors didn't seem so scary. Sure, they were highly unpleasant, but not terrifying. The thought of just being near one and having it suck out the happiness and hope until nothing was left but an empty shell was too remote of an idea and I didn't fully get the impact.

Now, I do. I understand on a level which I'd never wish on anyone. I recently read where Rowling based the idea of dementors on her experience with depression. Not sadness or the occasional unhappiness, but the deep hopelessness of seeing nothing of beauty or worth in life. Here's a quote from her.

“Yes. That is exactly what they are. It was entirely conscious. And entirely from my own experience. Depression is the most unpleasant thing I have ever experienced. It is that absence of being able to envisage that you will ever be cheerful again. The absence of hope. That very deadened feeling, which is so very different from feeling sad. Sad hurts but it’s a healthy feeling. It’s a necessary thing to feel. Depression is very different.”
“I think [dementors] are the scariest things I’ve written.”
–J.K. Rowling (quote from

Life is full of ups and downs for everyone - that's part of life. However, there are times in life when one does lose all hope and if you were drowning - you don't know if you'd bother kicking your legs to reach the top again. Over the past few years, life has been, how shall I say this? Not quite the happy world it once was. Depression in a serious issue and I think a lot of creative people suffer from it. Sometimes it gets so hard to fight that you don't know which way will bring you back to the light at the surface.

As I mentioned earlier, the past few years have been exceedingly rough. My own personal battle with dementors started in 2001, but has been near constant since 2008. There has been job, possession, home and friend loss. The loss of physical things I think I could have handled better had it not been for something else - the loss of self respect and basic human dignity. You see, when we lost our home to foreclosure (brought about by the job loss), we had to stay with relatives. I'd read, before all this happened, that sometimes, being taken in by family in such a situation, had worse repercussions than those who stayed with friends or even in homeless shelters. At that time, it never occured to me how such a thing could be possible.

I hope you never know the feeling of being a bother, of being humiliated by your mere existence. I hope you never know how it feels to know you're not wanted and in the way. I hope you never want to disappear, just so you won't have to wake up to see the condescending looks and hear the whispers of your failure repeated daily. I hope you are never pushed into a corner and kept there by fear. Fear of losing the little you have left.

Things in life have improved. We're in another state where we're renting a home. However, the depression is still there and I have the feeling it always will be. It's something I fight on a daily basis. I can feel when a bad funk is coming on. It's physically hard to smile. Things that once made you laugh you find irritating. There's nothing between you and the dark, stormy abyss.

This has been my own experience and I hope that if you suffer from depression you get the help that's best for you. I'm not sure why I felt the need to talk about this today. I usually try to keep the posts fun and a bit quirky or offbeat, but here it is. Love you all and wish you the best!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Book Review: Every Other Day

The opening scene in Every Other Day starts with Kali D'Angelo preparing, not for school or a date, but for a hunt. She’s a sixteen year old predator, with skills far beyond what humans are capable of… at least today. Tomorrow she goes back to being a teenage girl at her new high school where she tries to stay under the radar of pretty much everyone.

Kali doesn’t know what she is, only what she must do.  The hunter in her takes over and she follows her instinct. However, on her human day she sees a specific marking on one of the popular girls, she knows she has to do something to save the girl. What follows is a fast paced adventure and along the way Kali must learn to trust and open herself to those around her - something she’s never done before.

I adore the pace kept by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. It moved, even when it was giving information, it kept going. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a matter of hours. There are hellhounds, zombies, basilisks, vampires and chupacabras to name a few of the preternaturals Kali must face if she and her friends will survive. Seriously, what more could you want?

New Addition!

Starting later today, I'll be posting my first book review on this blog! Check it out, this was an awesome book and I can't wait to tell you about it. I read it in a matter hours, so you know it's good. Check back later!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Was anyone else severely disappointed to find out that the curses of mummy's tombs in Egypt weren't true? NOT that I want anyone to die, but I found the whole curse idea quite fascinating. I remember in second grade writing a report on the burial process used by the Egyptians. My writing was about an inch tall, but I made sure I got the part in there about the brains being pulled out through the nose. That was quite fascinating too at that age (okay, still is). Anyway, back to curses. The legend surrounding the mummy's curse started with Tutankhamen. Within four years of opening the tomb, eleven of the people associated with the discovery had died.

In movies and books today, curses are a dime a dozen. If I pick up a book and read about an old family curse... well, back on the shelf it goes. I think curses are interesting, but very few people know how to come up with a good, solid, old fashioned curse. Something that scares with it's possibility. Something that's believable. Something that is just plain creepy.

There's one other curse I find quite interesting. This is the curse of the Hope Diamond. This curse dates back to 1642 when, legend has it, a Frenchman stole it from a statue of a Hindu goddess (note: never steal a priceless relic from a goddess - you've been warned!). A trail of death and bad luck followed the diamond until it was deeded to the Smithsonian in 1949.

I know that myths, legends and curses seem to grow over time and the events surrounding them are exaggerated, however, stop and think about the possibilities. What kind of story could you craft about a curse that grows stronger with time?

Here's a picture of the beautiful diamond. Why no mummies? Because it's almost four in the morning and I don't want to dream about them.