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Thursday, March 27, 2014

When someone you know writes a book

Are you friends with anyone who has written a book? Because I am! She's published and everything. And a long time ago (like a year ago probably, maybe more, I am a bad friend) she asked if I might consider reading her book and drawing some pictures to accompany it in my blog. And I was like "sure! I would love to do that!" And then I spent the next year being distracted by shiny objects. But today I am going to follow through on that promise.

It's always a dangerous thing when someone you know asks you to read a book that they've written. Because there are many ways the whole thing could go wrong. For starters, it is impossible to not picture your friend in the role of the main character. I could write a book starring a 4'11 extremely religious Korean girl, and you'd still picture me when you read it. And this leads into the second major problem with reading a book written by someone you know: sex scenes.

Reading graphic sex scenes -- while picturing your middle-aged overweight coworker who really ought to shave his mustache -- is going to traumatize you for life. Because reading the scene is sort of like watching that person have sex in a porno -- so if the person is really good-looking and you don't know them that well, then you'd probably be okay with it. Or if you've actually had sex with them before, then it'd be all good. But what if the person is hideous, or if they're your boss, or if they babysit your kids on the weekends? You don't ever want to watch your boss in a porno. And you especially don't want to watch them in a porno that they wrote and directed and that features nothing but fantasies from their own twisted mind. Imagine if your money manager was the chick who wrote Fifty Shades of Grey. That sick bitch likes getting caned by dudes who pull her tampons out for her. Try looking at her the same way again with that knowledge in your head. You can't. Even if she doubled your portfolio in the last year, you'd still have to pull your money out (like that tampon in the book) and oh god.

Here is a picture of a sunset to take your mind off the whole tampon thing.

But, luckily for me, my friend Erika, the author of Blood Money, is both attractive enough to watch in a porno AND she didn't write any graphic sex scenes into the book. So there's that.

The other thing to worry about when your friend writes a book is that it might be god-awful. Like, you get through ten pages and you're like "holy f*** how am I going to read this whole thing? And what am I going to say to my friend afterwards? Do I just pretend it's good? Can I pretend that I lost it or that I don't have time to finish reading it? Should I fake my death to get out of offering 'feedback' on this festering lump of microwaved fecal matter that my friend thinks is going to get her a movie deal?" 

Though she might get a movie deal anyway, because the world is an unfair place.

And this can be a very real concern. One time I ordered a free eBook onto my Kindle and it was just sooooooo, sooooooooo awful. I even read the whole thing, too. Because if I start something, I goddamn-well finish it. So many hours of my life that I'm not going to get back. If I were real-life friends with the person who wrote that stink bomb, I don't even know what I would say to them. I would probably open with a good hard slap.

But Erika delivered once again. Her book was entertaining from start to finish. It was short enough to read quickly, and quite enjoyable -- enjoyable enough that I didn't even for one second consider faking my death to avoid offering feedback. How's that for a positive review, eh?!

So anyway, now let's talk about the actual book! As I said, it's called "Blood Money" and it's a thriller about terrorists and the CIA and also accountants but don't worry the accountant is pretty cool too.

Not this guy. This guy sucks. No one wants to read a book about him.

The main character is an Arab British dude named Azzam Abdullah, who works as an accountant for a guy who finances terrorism. But he is also a CIA informer. So he finds out about terrorist attacks that his boss is financing, and he tells his CIA handler, and then the attacks get busted before they can be carried out. Naturally, I pictured my white-female-American-mother-of-two friend as this character.

Dear Erika -- I did this, and it was wrong, and I'm sorry.

Okay that's a lie -- her character comes in later. But anyway, Azzam finds out about one particularly bad attack and wants to tell his CIA handler about it, but his boss has figured out that there's a mole in his organization. So in order to find the mole, he has some lunks following anyone even remotely suspicious. That includes our erstwhile accountant hero.

I googled "crazy accountant" thinking "there's probably going to be something stupid as hell for this." Google did not disappoint.

He meets his CIA handler, a small Asian ninja-like guy named Bai, but everything goes all to hell because the bad guys find them and they have to make a crazy intense getaway, eventually managing to get back to the United States and to the safety of CIA headquarters. The bad guys are pretty pissed about this, so they do everything they can to flush Azzam out, including kidnapping and threatening to kill an innocent woman from his past.

I won't give anything more away, but suffice it to say that some people turn out to be unexpectedly badass.

This may or may  not be a real scene from the book.

The characters are also much cleverer than the usual movie characters. Like, whenever I thought of something smart that they should do, they ended up doing that. And then they did some other smart things that I didn't think of. Nobody decided to run away by going upstairs and cornering themselves, or going to check out scary noises by shouting "hello?" and bringing a butter knife as a weapon. It didn't take them fifteen pages to piece together the clues and figure out what was going on. I appreciated the fact that the characters had a few lights on upstairs.

But if you're into books starring characters who painstakingly walk you through every step of their logic because apparently you're both idiots, then might I recommend some Dan Brown?

Anyway, it's a good book, and you should read it (Amazon has it). Also, I have drawn you this picture of a cat eating sushi with chopsticks.

How does he even operate chopsticks? I don't know.

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