Archive for August 9, 2007

Review: Happy Hour at Casa Dracula

happy-hour.jpgOkay, how’s this for a cover blurb? “Vampires. Margaritas. Mayhem. What’s a girl to do when she’s hidden away at the home of sophisticated vampires and her ex-boyfriend wants to drive a stake through her heart?”

Yeah. Pretty bad, huh. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t trust a book by its cover blurb. (Dear gourd, but cover blurbs are awful. Do these people even pretend the read the books?) So when I came across Marta Acosta’s Happy Hour at Casa Dracula, with its stylishly designed cover art and attractive $3.99 bargain bin pricetag, I gave it the benefit of a one-chapter doubt. By page 23 I’d come to the conclusion that it was at least good enough to fill some of the time before All Together Dead comes out in paperback.

And, as it turns out, Happy Hour wasn’t half bad. The heroine, Milagro de Los Santos (literally “Miracle of the Saints”) is a sassy, smart Hispanic woman trying to make it as a writer, caught between the conflicting personalities of a fake leopard-clad sexpot and a young woman grieving over her one and only sexual encounter, back in college. The fact that she, and the book’s villain, attended “F.U.” contributes to the charm and silliness of this little beach read.

Milagro’s adventures begin with a lusty encounter with a mysterious stranger who turns out to suffer from a genetic disorder – leaving her infected with the selfsame disorder. The disorder causes photosensitivity, altered vision, fertility problems, great (if pale) skin, long life, and pica. Some members of his family embrace the fact that this makes them sound suspiciously like vampires; others – including Milagro’s new friend – reject it and try to live like more-or-less normal people. Unfortunately for them, there are bad guys afoot who want to do something vague and evil to them, and due to an inconvenient love triangle, Milagro is their lever.

Cue mistaken identity, secrets revealed, Mexican meals so scrumptious you can practically smell them off the page, sex, confused small-town goths, obvious but not awkward allusions to racism as experienced by Latinos and vampires, suspicious outsiders, blood-sipping, ridiculous circumstances that lead the heroine into unnecessary danger, even more ridiculous coincidences, love triangles that conjoin into love octagons, quasi-redemptions, and lots of references to Milagro’s exceptional tatas.

In the end, the book is (to repeat a word overused in this review) a tad ridiculous. But it’s a good sort of ridiculous, and the unusual combination of romance, vampirism, and Latina culture is a lot of fun. My only real criticism – and I’m not feeling too passionate about this – is Milagro’s character development. I kept wondering if she was bipolar, or maybe two different people, or maybe just slightly sloppily written. She is a respectable young woman trying to make it out on her own, an aspiring political-horror writer working as a literary consultant and gardener, trying to resolve her cold relationship with her mother, looking for that certain something that will pull her life together. And then, you suddenly realize that she is now something entirely different, in impractical loud shoes and clothes, highly-sexed, impetuous, and shallow. I think the aim was to illustrate the dichotomous nature of a young woman while highlighting the changes the infection wrought on her personality, but the end result is a trifle inconsistent.

Still – a fun book, and if Amazon is to believed, the first of more to come.

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August 9, 2007 at 10:16 pm Leave a comment

Had to Share…

Fifi says she can smell the fear – in your pants!

(I’ve heard the film hasn’t been staying online for very long in any one place, so if that link is broken, some Googling ought to find a new version.)

August 9, 2007 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

Goodies

I wanted to share some of my fun recent acquisitions.

I’m leaving my current job, and had a floating holiday that had to get used up, so I took it this past Monday. Most of the day was spent on laundry, but I also made my way to the local slightly-less-ghetto thrift store for Monday $1 Tag Days. Basically, anything with a certain color pricetag was marked down to $1. I go every so often for a treasure hunt beyond compare, usually leaving with large bags full of like-new designer-label clothes that just need a wash. What does this have to do with books, you ask? The answer is this:

backpack.jpg

It’s so tiny – a little larger than those backpack purses you see now and againย – and worth about two cents with the two rubbed out, except that it is blue and orange and extremely happy to see me. The straps are so short that I can just barely sling it over my shoulder when they’re completely let out. It’s the perfect size for a couple books and a notepad, and just right for a good chuckle.

That evening I got home and found an oddly-sized parcel from my Random Amusing Gifts penpal. (She doesn’t know I’ve given it a title, but I think it’s high time. Although maybe I need to go back to the drawing board; “RAGpal” might have some unwanted connotations, no?) I opened it up and found three things of incredible beauty. The first (which I actually wouldn’t discover until the following day) was an unripe huckleberry. Don’t ask.

The second was this, hand-selected by my RAGpal and her very astute fella:

journal.jpg

This is funny, because I’d been craving a new little palm-sized journal for jotting down thoughts re: Weekly Thingies and book reviews, but hadn’t found one that felt right. And then, voila! The perfect book arrived in the mail! It has orange endpapers and an expanding pocket in the back, too, and is absolutely the exact one I would have picked.

The third item was a package of tiny souvenir photographs from Hearst Castle, which was an unexpected treat as my husband has told me about its wonders many times, but I have never seen it. I just can’t get over the sheer excess of this place! Really beautiful. One day I’ll write the Great American Bestseller (which is, naturally, somewhat different than the Great American Novel) and build my own castle, don’t you think?

photos.jpg

I’d like to point out that each of these photos is taken using my depressingly blank cubicle wall as a background. I have little plastic hooks; the backpack hung from one, and I slid the book and the photos over it so that they were suspended. Not bad, huh?

And finally, we’re about to have a health fair, so we’ve got pharmaceutical promotional items all over the place. I am now the proud owner of a really beautiful and terribly ridiculous blue pen. Are you ready for this? ๐Ÿ™‚

pen.jpg

August 9, 2007 at 4:08 pm Leave a comment

Paging Mr. Fleming

amphibious-car.jpgIf you’ve ever read Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by gadgety car-loving Ian Fleming (oh dear, it turns out it’s a movie, too – Dick Van Dyke? That’s terrible miscasting – and I love the man, but seriously!) then you’ll likely recognize and appreciate the picture to the left – click to enlarge. This little vessel is infrequently spotted putting around an area lake, always with the straw hat lady in the passenger seat, always keeping close to the edge at a leisurely speed. It’s an amphibious car and yes, it just drives right up to the boat ramp and scoots on down the highway.

(Incidentally, I was deathly embarrassed that I got caught taking the photo, but I did get a nice wave out of it, so maybe it’s worth it. Besides, if you drive an amphibious car, you’ve got to be used to the paparazzi, right?)

August 9, 2007 at 1:12 pm Leave a comment

Look, it’s Meez!

The fun thing about Meez is that you can illustrate all of the people you are. This one looks like me, only, y’know, back when I was skinny, dressing up a little punk while looking for my next great read.

Thie Meez looks even more like me, and is doing exactly what I’d like to be doing right now:

Here I am at work – two days left! ๐Ÿ™‚ Man, I wish I had those shoes.

It’s that time of year, so I bring you myself at a football game. There seems to be something wrong with the field, though… must be an away game.

Just for fun, here I am with my hair grown out and my glasses – and my goth – on. I don’t know how I ended up in a black tutu; I had a cute pair of black cropped pants, but then this skirt sort of spoke nonsense in my ear and the next thing I knew, the little animated version of myself was showing more thigh than I’ve seen myself in months.

My true alter-ego:

Let me know if you do a Meez – I’d love to see. ๐Ÿ™‚

August 9, 2007 at 7:40 am 2 comments


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