Star Island — Carl Hiaasen

The first of my books off the Actual Shelf–since discovering The Vampire Diaries and the entire works of Sherrilyn Kenyon, the library has seen me go a little nuts. But I realized I was neglecting this blog, and I needed to get on with The Shelf.

Buy Star Island on Amazon

I’d started Star Island a few years ago, but it too was a casualty of The Great Grad School Falling-Out. Not due to anything other than being burnt out on reading–I adore Carl Hiaasen as a writer, even if he does only have two general plotlines he adheres to.

Even with that, the devil is in the details–and the devil’s also a gone-to-nature angel named Skink. Skink is everyone’s favourite, and thusly one of the few recurring characters in Hiaasen’s seedy, humid, hot-as-hell South Florida. Hiaasen’s love for our shared home state is clearly obvious, even if he gets a few details cockamamie (it does not take six hours to get from Tallahassee to Orlando unless you spent over an hour in the I-75 rest stops). And of course, everyone in his universe is violent, swears a blue streak, is usually on several kinds of drugs, and tends to have massive wads of cash to blow here and there. This tends to flabbergast and confuse the protagonist, who is usually the wholesome type who totally does not belong in the glittery, alligator-infested universe into which they’ve been thrust, typically against their will. I told you Hiaasen had a formula and two plotlines, didn’t I?

Star Island’s wholesome protag is Ann DeLusia, the stunt/body double of a troubled pop starlet, Cherry Pye, who’s been a pro since she was fourteen (no, Hiaasen doesn’t cleverly disguise headlines from when he’s writing!) and is addicted to all kinds of everything while her obsessive mother keeps the whole franchise rolling with savvy PR and the help of Ann. Ann is the one publicly sent in the ambulance while her famous doppelganger is smuggled out privately. Ann shows up to celebrity parties when Cherry is puking half a neighbourhood pharmacy into a posh hotel toilet and can’t make it herself. Thanks to an obsessed paparazzo, Ann finds herself in quite a bit of danger–and, of course, it’s everyone’s favourite half-sane former governor, Skink, who comes up with a clever plan to save her. Ann has the most clever plan of all in the end, however. But you’ll have to read to find out.

Hiaasen is formulaic, but that’s only discernible once you’ve become an avid reader of his for-adults fiction (the children’s fiction is very different and equally wonderful). As I said earlier, though, the devil is in the details, and even if you might know generally what will happen in the end, how it happens is what keeps you flipping the pages, as is true of all Hiaasen’s books.

Simply, Star Island is a solid addition to your Hiaasen collection, or a nice starter if you’re just diving in. I really can’t say anything bad about it–he didn’t phone it in, this has all the hallmarks of his efforts. Same story, different players–but I’ll keep buying them as long as he sells them!

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On Why This Is Hard

Let me be clear about some things.

1. I work evenings. I am often asleep until 2 or 3pm because of my schedule, which sadly is only part-time, but welcome to this economy.

2. I have bad brain chemistry. I do medicate, but depression is not fun, even when you’re in a great home with supportive folks backing you up. It’s much easier to read swill on the Internet and never turn your lights on (saving electricity!)

3. The books taunt me. They sit there, they prop my (currently not working) DVR up, and they laugh at me. The cookbooks, knowing they will not be read for the project, simply smirk, but the rest of them openly laugh at me.

4. I am currently only reading one thing, and that is Office Crush, because it’s online and broken down into cute little chunks that I can either take one at a time, or go shlork up many posts at once like it’s a Bushwhacker (look it up).

5. I believe that I am still not recovered, three years on, from the fact that graduate school made me hate reading books with a fiery passion. I am a bookworm of years (I could read before I could put cohesive sentences together and writing is still, I believe, my “first language”) but two years of epic bullcrap took it all away. In undergrad I would buy the cheap books from the bookstore that used to be required reading for courses but no longer, and read them just for kicks. No more, no more.

6. Because of this, I need anyone who reads this to cheer me on, kick my ass, anything that will help me actually pick up the books and stick with them. I want to love books again, I really do. I miss them so.

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First Post

The bookshelf has other things on it, yes. Many things, in fact. But it’s the books that concern me most.

After my first attempt at grad school, I realised I was completely burnt out on reading. I don’t honestly think I’ve really read much of anything in three years. I buy books, but I just stare at their spines on the shelf. This blog is to hold myself accountable for reading everything on my bookshelf, regardless of whether I’ve read it before or not, and to review them, to make sure I made good choices. There’s no genre domination here (at least I don’t think so) and I’m not trying to do much of anything but blather on to a select few people who bother reading this.


Let the reading begin.

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