Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Comedy , YouTuber / October 12, 2016

Grace’s Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-Up marks Grace Helbig’s foray from the electronic world of YouTube to the physically printed page (unless you buy the eBook version).  Whether you are already Grace’s fan or are meeting her for the first time, get ready to learn more about her and life than you expected! Even though Grace generally delivers her comedy to the world via social media, I highly recommend that anyone who is interested in Grace’s Guide pick up a physical copy of the book.  I know that this may seem counter-intuitive, but actually venturing out to an IRL (just one of the many abbreviations I learned from Grace’s book) bookstore and purchasing the book (or ordering one online, if you insist on not leaving the house) is the only way to fully experience the book’s excellent presentation.  Grace is the master at conveying hilarious, and yet painfully relatable, awkwardness through her facial expressions and there are plenty of pictures that show off this impressive skill.  There are also fun worksheets at the end of every chapter such as “How to Ask Someone Out” that invite the reader to write directly in the book, so once again a physical copy is preferable.  Also,…

The Last American Vampire: Book Review
Comedy , Fantasy , Historical Fiction , Horror / October 12, 2016

The Last American Vampire is the second novel in a series by Seth Grahame-Smith that begins with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.  The Last American Vampire features Abraham Lincoln’s mentor and comrade, Henry Sturges, from the previous novel and fills in the details of his life and undeath. Let me begin this review by making it clear that I loved Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (check out my review). Seth Grahame-Smith’s formatting of the novel is one of the major reasons that I could not stop reading The Last American Vampire.  Seth Grahame-Smith casts himself as Henry Sturges’ interviewer and cobbles together an account from direct “quotes” from Henry that tie together sections of Seth Grahame-Smith’s writing.  The doctored photos that “prove” Henry’s existence at various moments in history also add to the overall effect.  The result is an authentic feel that makes The Last American Vampire read like a genuine history rather than a fictional tale. Henry Sturges’ adventures range across time from early colonial America to the 1960’s but all of his struggles center around hunting down a rogue vampire who is bent on America’s destruction.  Henry battles Jack the Ripper, Rasputin (my personal favorite), and other “historical” vampires who I will not name in order to avoid spoilers.  He also…

Selp-Helf: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Comedy , YouTuber / October 11, 2016

Selp-Helf by Miranda Sings is a satirical and hiliarious self help book written by the internet sensation Miranda Sings (Colleen Ballinger’s alter-ego). If you are unfamiliar with Miranda Sings, it is vitally important to watch some of her videos before reading this book. The character’s humor will probably not completely register with any uninitiated viewers/readers. Selp-Helf is written for all of Miranda Sings’ Mirfandas who already understand that she is a character and parody rather than an actual person. Selp-Helf is written for all of Miranda Sings’ Mirfandas who already understand that she is a character and parody rather than an actual person. Throughout the book, Miranda Sings rewards her readers with some of the best advice (in her bizarre mind) to help them with such important aspects of life as love, talent, “fashon,” “innernet,” and “life haks.”  Miranda’s characteristic narcissism and unique spelling choices bring the character to life in this written format.  Originally, I was concerned that the YouTube star would have trouble translating to a non-video format, but Miranda Sings fills the pages of Selp-Helf with the familiar quirks of her unique personality. As one would expect, Miranda’s advice is normally horrible and a little bit on the creepy side,…

I Wear the Black Hat: Book Review
Comedy , Sociology / October 10, 2016

I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) is essentially a series of essays by Chuck Klosterman.  Klosterman’s unifying theme is that he tries to investigate the appeal and motivations of various “villains” in a sociological framework.  While the cover of the book is awesome, I Wear the Black Hat is ultimately a wasted opportunity. When I realized that this book existed, I immediately picked up a copy.  Even from a young age, I always felt that villains were far more compelling than heroes.  As far as I was concerned, the Joker stole every scene in episodes of Batman.  That is not to say that I want the villains to succeed but that they are simply far more interesting.  Although in all honesty, I always wanted (still want) a legion of generically nameless thugs to do my bidding. Klosterman’s essays are rather scatter-brained in the sense that I did not always feel that his essays helped to prove his assertions regarding villains.  He refers to himself far too often and does not rely on factual arguments as much as would be appropriate in a book of this type.  Whether the individuals that he writes about are even perceived as villains or not…

Ranma 1/2 (2 in 1 Edition): Manga Review
Comedy , Manga , Romance / October 10, 2016

Ranma 1/2 (2 in 1 Edition) is the latest English release of the classic Japanese manga.  The artwork in this particular release is cleaner than previous English versions of Ranma 1/2.  As the name suggests each book contains two collections of the Ranma 1/2 manga.  Ranma 1/2, in both manga and anime form, is one of the most hilarious and action-packed stories that I know of. For whatever reason, many Americans continue to discount anything that is illustrated or animated as something that is meant for children.  This is an unfortunate mistake in perception, because some of the best stories that I know of come from Japanese manga or anime.  If you are unfamiliar with these Japanese forms of entertainment, keep an open mind and remember that just because something is drawn out or animated that it does not automatically mean that it is targeted at children.  Many manga and anime are created specifically with a teenage or adult audience in mind. The main concept behind Ranma 1/2 is that Ranma and his father, Genma, fell into cursed springs while continuing their martial arts training.  When Ranma or Genma touch cold water, they are turned into a girl and a panda, respectively.  Since the only way that…

To Be or Not To Be: Book Review
Choose Your Own Adventure , Comedy / October 10, 2016

One of my greatest disappointments as an adult reader has always been the complete lack of “choose your own adventure” novels for a mature audience. I am relatively sure that almost everyone remembers the Goosebumps “choose your own adventure” style books that R. L. Stine created (way back in the now highly nostalgic 1990’s).  There were many other “choose your own adventure” book series that catered to the late elementary/middle school reading level as well, but for some reason these books as not generally made the jump to the adult market. Therefore, it should be no great surprise that I felt like a little nerdy kid in a bookstore when I got my virtual hands on Ryan North’s book.  For those of you who do not know about Ryan North, he is the author of the ingenious Dinosaur Comics.  Ryan North often brings nerd culture into his humor, which ranges from references to superheroes to gaming culture and everything in between.  I am pleased to report that To Be or Not To Be is everything that I hoped for and more. One of the most unique concepts behind the book is that you actually get to choose which character to play as from the beginning (Hamlet, Ophelia, or Hamlet’s dad).  Ryan North cleverly…

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made: Book Review
Autobiography/Biography , Comedy / October 10, 2016

Before I begin this review, it is important to point out that I am an aficionado of terrible movies.  I do not mean movies that are so mediocre that they are boring.  What I mean is that I love watching movies that are so poorly conceived and executed that they prove to be memorable and hilarious.  It is not nearly as good when a movie tries to be terrible on purpose, however.  The greatest sort of bad movie is one where the director honestly believes that he is crafting a cinematic masterpiece.  Some notable examples of this type of film are Troll 2 (Nilbog milk, anyone?) and Manos: The Hands of Fate.  However,The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside the Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made is Greg Sestero’s reflection regarding the ultimate cult classic: The Room. Greg Sestero played the enigmatically named “Mark” in The Room, but the one man who everyone will always connect to the film is Tommy Wiseau.  Since Wiseau funded, directed, wrote, and starred in The Room, the bulk of the book revolves around Sestero’s friendship with Wiseau.  Greg Sestero first meets Tommy Wiseau in an acting class and from that point on is caught up in the doomed production that consumes the next several years of his life….

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Comedy , Horror / October 9, 2016

Every once in a while a book comes along that truly surprises you.  I picked this book up not too long after it was released, more or less on a whim.  I have a tendency to enjoy random, over-the-top humor, historical fiction, and horror, so I decided to give it a try. Although I braced myself against bitter disappointment, my caution proved to be gleefully unnecessary because Seth Grahame-Smith did not let me down. The narrative style is very attractive and interesting, because the entire story is told by a somewhat fictionalized version of Seth-Grahame Smith himself.  The chapters are made up out of summaries and direct quotations from Lincoln’s secret diary.  Seth Grahame-Smith weaved together real facts and quotes from Lincoln’s life into the fictionalized vampire hunter narrative so well that I am extremely jealous to have not thought of it first. In all seriousness, if we are honest with ourselves, I think that we can all agree that adding vampire hunting into history can only serve as a vast improvement.  Seriously, just look at the book cover.  If that does not get the point across, then I have no idea what will! Honest Abe’s personal vendetta against the vampires (who…