No gay content in this novel – but it features teenage (and almost teenage) boys, plus it’s good. Fair warning: keep the tissues handy. This book is incredibly sad. Narrated by 12 year old Jack, it tells the story of 14 year old Joseph, who comes to stay on Jack’s dairy farm as a foster child. Emotionally and physically damaged by a stay in a juvenile prison, Joseph wants nothing more than to see the daughter he’s never met. It’s clear from the very first chapter that Joseph has suffered, but just how much isn’t revealed until halfway through the book, when the full story of how Joseph ended up in Stone Mountain is revealed. It’s not all unrelenting gloom; Jack’s parents are amazingly sympathetic and empathetic, and as the book progresses, you can see Joseph begin to imagine a future he never considered possible. The story is set in winter in Maine, and frankly you can feel cold just reading it at times… It’s a fast read, and toldContinue reading »

There are few authors for whom my eyes light up whenever I see a new book from them, because I know it’s going to be interesting. Patrick Ness is one of those authors. His first books were the utterly amazing “Chaos Walking Trilogy” (to feature in an upcoming book club) and then he followed it up with “A Monster Calls”. All of his books have intriguing premises and “The Rest of Us Just Live Here” is no exception. The book is a mash-up of two very typical young adult genres: the classic teenage “problem novel” and the “kids chosen by destiny save the world from destruction”. And these stories run alongside each other. Imagine Harry Potter written from the perspective of the muggles. Or “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” as seen from the perspective of the other kids at school. Mikey and his friends know weird stuff is going on, because something crops up every few years… the undead invasion, the soul-eating ghosts, the vampire romances and deaths. But its alwaysContinue reading »

1- “Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest” for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System is the very first video game to have multiple endings depending on how many times you died during the game, and how long it took you to finish it. 2- ‘Slimer’ from the original “Ghostbusters” movie was actually created to be the ghost of John Belushi. Belushi was meant to play a major role in the film, but passed away shortly before filming began. Slimer was a memorial done by filmmakers to parody Belushi’s character from the movie “Animal House”, and to make sure that his spirit was kept alive. 3- The Ouija Board actually named itself! When it was developed, the makers asked the board what it should be called. And the marker spelled out ‘O-U-I-J-A’ as a response. 4- In “New Kid In School”, the character of ‘Ryan’ was based on a boy I went to Junior High with named Stephen. That’s why Randy’s full name is ‘Randy Stephens’. 5- The most popular Nine Inch Nails album,Continue reading »

Before starting this…if any of you haven’t read the story “Shelter” in Imagine Magazine, or the acommpanying side stories, “Walker Road” and “Rotting Apples”…this article may contain some light *spoilers*! So…be warned! Some years back, when I was asked by readers if I would ever write a zombie apocalypse story for the Shack, I said that I would only do it if I thought I could bring something ‘new’ to the table. I didn’t just want to write the typical zombie story and add a gay teen romance to it. I wanted to think up something that might be considered fun and creepy, interesting and unique. Considering that zombie stories have been done a billion different ways in movies and television (You might even say….they’ve been done to DEATH! ::Snickers:: Ehh? Right. Sorry.), I couldn’t think of anything original to add to the whole concept. I didn’t think it was possible. But, eventually, I gave the idea a try. Just a one time story that was more about the actualContinue reading »

“Savior” is a vampire story set in Chicago. The plot, setting and style are all very reminiscent of “Gone From Daylight” which may have been a major inspiration for the story. There are no obvious cross-overs with GFD – Comsie’s characters don’t appear, there aren’t visits to the junkyard, the intricate GFD lore is absent… and yet there is nothing which rules out the possibility that the stories might exist in the same universe. As a reader you could imagine it either way. Thirteen year old Tyler witnesses a vampire attack in an alley. At first he’s terrified… then one of the young vampires he witnessed follow him home, he becomes obsessed with tracking the vampire down. David has a nice clean straightforward writing style, and the chapters are short, so the story is a fast enjoyable read. I found myself increasingly caught up in the action as the story went on, and the bittersweet ending left me wanting more. I highly enjoyed “Savior” and would recommend it to fansContinue reading »

1- In the 80’s classic video game, Pac Man, there are 4 ghosts that chase you around the screen. However, each ghost is programmed to move differently from the others during gameplay. Blinky (Red) chases Pac Man directly. Inky (Blue) stays ahead of Pac Man at all times. Pinky (Pink) stays behind Pac Man at all times. And Clyde (Orange) moves randomly about the board. 2- Directed by Robert Zemeckis, if you look closely in one of the scenes of the animated movie, “Polar Express”, you can see that the giant train is being powered by none other than “Back To The Future’s” flux capacitor! 3- Eating bananas can actually increase the volume of semen expelled during your ejaculations! Or maybe you just get really turned on by eating bananas! 😛 4- On July 4th, 1776, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were instrumental in creating and signing the original US Constitution. But what people don’t know is that they both later died on the exact same date! July 4th,Continue reading »

Today at Cirrus’ Book Club we’re featuring our first story by a Shack author. I’m always looking for more stories to review, so if you’ve written something you want me to look at, post a link. “Mad World” by Bobby (aka Brokendreamboi) As I started reading this story, it revived vague recollections that I might have read it before when the story first came out. It was fun story to revisit. This is a love story, but between two people who desperately need each other. Twenty-two-ish real estate agent Michael’s life has been torn apart by a sudden and unexpected tragedy. Sixteen year old Collin is homeless and living on the streets. What starts as Michael simply offering Collin a meal and a shower blossoms into a romance… but the road to happiness for both of them is far from smooth. There’s also a mystery element to the story as Michael tries to uncover the full story behind the tragedy. No sooner did I find myself finishing one chapterContinue reading »

Let’s get the obvious thing out of the way first. It’s impossible to read this story without noticing parallels with a certain phenomenally successful series of childrens’ fantasy books (rhymes with “Larry Otter”). Simon is The Chosen One, destined to save the World of Mages. He’s attending a British boarding school for mages. His best friend is a girl who is better at magic then he is. He’s an orphan, and the headmaster of the boarding school has taken on a surrogate father role. Then there’s the Draco Malfoy character, who comes from one of the Old Families, and is scheming against the headmaster. Baz is possibly evil. Probably trying to kill Simon. Almost certainly a vampire. And also Simon’s roommate. But if you think you’ve got the story all figured out from the description, it skews the familiar plot lines in new and interesting ways. At time it feels like you’re reading the last book in the series, because the story keeps alluding to events that happened in theContinue reading »

For those of you who know me well, you’ll know that I have a bit of a soft spot for Neverland and the whole Peter Pan mythology.  The story was told to me by my mother when I was a young child. I was enthralled by the tales of ‘the boy who never grew up’, and I have remained so to this day. But what you might not know is that there’s a true story to be told behind the story of Peter Pan, it’s author, J.M Barrie, and the five boys who helped inspire the character’s development. Particularly one boy, Michael Llewelyn-Davies, who was said to have been ‘uncle Jimmy’s (J.M. Barrie’s) favourite boy’, and the boy who inspired most of Peter’s later character development. The true story behind Peter Pan is a tragic one, and not just for Michael, but for all five boys, their parents, and even Barrie himself. Much like the character they helped inspire, two of the Davies boys would never get the chance toContinue reading »

“The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that they don’t got nothing much to say. About anything”. That first line kicks off one of the best young adult / sci-fi stories I’ve ever read. It seems almost criminally unfair that a debut novel should be so good. The set-up for the story needs a bit of explaining. Thirteen year old Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown, a month away from some mysterious activity which will make him a man. Prentisstown town is a human colony on an alien world. A world where men broadcast every thought in their head for the entire world to hear. If you think the “Noise” would drive everyone a little mad… well, you’d be right. And I did a mention there are no women left in Prentisstown? Then an advanced scout ship from the next wave of colonists due to arrive on the plan crash lands near Prentisstown. The only survivor from the crash is a girlContinue reading »

1- George Lucas created “Star Wars” simply because he couldn’t get the official licensing rights to the “Flash Gordon” franchise! >:O 2- Michael J. Fox was not the first choice to play ‘Marty McFly’ in the “Back To The Future” saga. Actor, Eric Stoltz, was. In fact, there is a great deal of actual film footage out there that exists with Stoltz in the title role, until it was eventually re-shot with Fox taking his place! 3- The ‘Harlem Shake’ videos were SO well beloved on YouTube, that (on MOST browsers) if you type ‘Do The Harlem Shake’ into the search window…not only will the song begin to play, but the entire page and the graphics on it will begin to ‘dance’ for you as well! 4- The planet Pluto is actually smaller than Russia. 5- Paul McCartney is the only singer/songwriter in music history to have ever topped the charts as a solo artist, as part of a duo, as part of a trio, as part of a quartet,Continue reading »

1- To create the rather unique and terrifying roar for the T-Rex in “Jurassic Park”, sound editors and foley artists combined the roar of a tiger, the bark of a dog, and the combined sounds of a penguin and an alligator. 2- While the episode has now been banned from being shown on television ever again, there is an extremely morbid ‘Tom And Jerry’ cartoon where the mouse is continuously trying to get Tom to believe that he’s attempting to commit suicide. (The weird thing is, I REMEMBER that cartoon!) Every time he goes to sleep, Jerry plays mean pranks, such as slipping a noose around his throat, gluing a bottle of sleeping pills to the palm of his hand, having him hold a knife while pouring ketchup on his chest, and even putting a pistol in his mouth. Remember, this was meant to be a ‘ha ha’ funny cartoon for children. That wacky duo and their traumatizing jokes… 3- Halloween is the only American holiday with a clinical phobiaContinue reading »

As they say “And now for something COMPLETELY different”. This book is Literature with a capital L. It’s so prestigious it won the Man Booker Prize, one of the most significant awards for novels in the world – only the second book by a New Zealand author ever to do so. And it’s a complicated beast. The story is set in the gold rush town of Hokatika on New Zealand’s west coast in the 1860s. Walter Moody has just got off the ship convinced he’s seen a ghost. And he stumbles into a meeting of 12 different men from around town, who have gathered to compare notes on various strange goings on. The books copies the concept and style of a popular Victorian novel format, to the point where the style can seem positively archaic. For example, there’s a common axiom is screenwriting “show, don’t tell” when it comes to action. This is a novel that does a lot of telling. By the sixth or seventh I had met aContinue reading »

When I was in high school, you couldn’t find many Young Adult books with gay themes. When I was at university, some hard-working librarian in New Zealand put together a bibliography of basically all of them at the time. It ran to about three pages. And most of them revolved around the “Am I gay?” question, with lots of appropriate teenage angst. Times have changed. Thanks to authors like David Levithan and others, there are not just more books out, but a wider variety of books. Books that are actually… fun. Seventeen year-old Jonathan Parish is out and proud, and obsessed with Kylie Minogue. But his senior year takes a left-turn when in a drunken haze, he sleeps with a girl at a party (he hums “Mmmbop” during the act), and suddenly all the girls in school are flirting with them. And then the richest girl in school makes him an offer he can’t refuse – pretend to be her boyfriend and she’ll fly him to London to see KylieContinue reading »