Category: Supernatural

Oct 07

The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor

Dystopian, Frightening, Psychological, Supernatural, Zombies 24

Muahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa Dear Bookworms!

I’m busting out my evil laugh to celebrate the fact that it’s October and I’m reading some scary books. Remember this summer when I went to BlogHer? One of the keynote speakers was Gale Ann Hurd- the executive producer of the greatest show currently on television, The Walking DeadSt. Martin’s Press was another of the BlogHer sponsors and they hooked up the attendees with a copy of The Walking Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. FULL DISCLOSURE: I got this book for free. At BlogHer. Like I already told you. FULLER DISCLOSURE: I saw a Rick Grimes costume at a Halloween store today. I was sorely tempted.  

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If you’re not into zombies, you probably wouldn’t like The Walking Dead in any permutation: the comics, show, or novelization. If you do happen to be into zombies, you probably already watch The Walking Dead and YOU, my friends, are in for a treat. (New season starts October 13. Holla!) I’ve been holding onto this book since July because I wanted to read it in an appropriately spooky season. Now is the time!

Alright Walking Dead-heads. You know how The Governor was a super crazy bad guy? Ever wonder how he got that way? This book! It TELLS YOU! It starts at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse with Phillip Blake, his daughter Penny, his two high school chums, and his younger brother Brian. Their ragtag band is sweeping across Georgia, bashing zombie heads, and searching for a safe haven. Bashing zombie heads is not a clean business, so I’ll warn you that the language gets pretty gruesome. Blood and guts and gore. You know the drill. As we all know, it doesn’t take long after the dead begin to rise for the living to turn on one another. Plus, you know, living under the extreme stress of watching one’s friends and neighbors turn into blood thirsty un-dead monsters takes a toll on one’s psyche.

All in all, I found this book enjoyable. However. It’s clearly meant to be a companion to the show. From a narrative standpoint it could certainly stand alone, but I don’t think I’d have liked it as much if I weren’t already a fan of the show. I recommend this for all Walking Dead-heads for while the show is on hiatus. There’s a trilogy afoot, I might have to grab the next novel when I’m having my mid-winter withdrawals.

So Bookworms, tell me. Do you do anything to get yourself in the Halloween spirit? We haven’t yet watched Hocus Pocus or any of our Roseanne Halloween collection this year, but we DID watch Warm Bodies this weekend (which was oddly charming.) Scary movies, scary shows, zombies, witches, goblins! Let’s talk about them!

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Sep 19

The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Fantasy, Supernatural 47

Hola Bookworms,

It’s occurred to me that while I chatter to y’all incessently, I very rarely discuss what I spend the vast majority of my time doing. That’s right. I’ve got a grown-up job. I don’t talk about my job much for a couple of reasons. First, it has absolutely nothing to do with books. Second, it seems like a bad idea to go yammering about your job on the internet. That said, I do like to mention where I get my books, and this particular book came to me through work. I have a new co-worker. During the course of a “getting to know you” type conversation, he mentioned that he read a lot of fantasy novels. Being the curious cat that I am, I asked him which were his favorites. Of COURSE it was nothing I’d ever read. I mean, how likely would that be anyway? I’ve only ever read a smattering of fantasy, the odds were not in my favor. I’ve been feeling unworthy of the genre since I read and did not enjoy Tolkien.

nameofthewindShortly after this conversation, a copy of The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss appeared on my desk. I took one look at the well worn paperback and thought, “Way to stick your foot in your mouth, Katie. Now you’ve got to read this ginormous fantasy novel because it would be rude not to.” To add to my nervousness? I noticed it was a SIGNED COPY! I’m a terrible liar, so if I didn’t like the book, I’d have to figure out a way to explain that to someone who was clearly a superfan of Rothfuss. Quite the pickle, no?

As it turns out, the book gods smiled on my poor conflicted soul, because I read it and was sucked in. The Name of the Wind was a great book, despite the fact that they never actually told me what the name of the wind is. (I’m hoping the wind’s name is Herman Reginald Van Der Hooden, because I like saying it.)

We are introduced to a mysterious innkeeper who calls himself Kote. It soon becomes apparent that there is more to Kote and his assistant Bast than meets the eye. “Kote” is in hiding. He is actually a figure of some note who is driven into obscurity for unknown reasons. A scribe arrives in town shortly after the novel begins as he is attempting to track the infamous Kvothe. Kote = Kvothe. I might have thought he’d pick a less similar name as his pseudonym, but what do I know? (I’m thinking changing my name from Katie to Karen and trading my MG for a white Chrysler LeBaron… My fingernails DO shine like justice… It could work.)

Kvothe is persuaded to tell his story, and what a tale it is! Our Kvothe was born into a band of traveling performers. He is trained in the arts of drama, music, and showmanship at a young age. Everything begins to change for Kvothe when their band comes across an arcanist who is down on his luck. (This is a fantasy novel, it wouldn’t be appropriate just to call someone a “dude who can do magic.”) The arcanist Abenthy takes Kvothe on as a student, and Kvothe turns out to be the Doogie Howser of magic. The kid is a prodigy. All is going well until one evening when Kvothe’s troupe is mysteriously murdered. We follow Kvothe on his adventures in orphandom, and what crazy adventures they turn out to be!

I really enjoyed this novel. I found the world-building to be superb. One of the biggest problems I have when I try to read fantasy novels (which is pretty much limited to Tolkien and George R.R. Martin) is that I have a hard time slogging through them. Ordinarily I find myself getting bogged down in description and tertiary characters. That wasn’t the case here at all- every character that was introduced I found engaging, and every interaction served to propel the narrative. It’s just my luck that this is the first book in a trilogy that is not yet complete. This book ends with quite a few unanswered questions that will gnaw at my soul until I tackle book 2 (which won’t be for a while because I’ve over-committed myself as usual.) Of course, as heaven knows, reading book 2 will only gnaw away at my soul until book 3 is released. It figures that not even a week after I got closure on the MaddAddam series, I’m waiting again! Le sigh.

So Bookworms. Tell me. Have you ever taken a chance on a book or a genre that wasn’t typically your cup of tea and been pleasantly surprised? Anybody out there read The Name of the Wind? What did you think?

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Sep 17

Falling for Fall: Top Ten Tuesday

Dystopian, E-Readers, Frightening, Mystery, Supernatural, Top Ten Tuesday 62

Good Day, Bookworms!

It’s the middle of September now, so I’m feeling very Autumnal. Luckily, the ladies of The Broke and The Bookish seem to be feeling this way, too! Today’s topic for Top Ten Tuesday listy goodness is the top ten books we plan to read this fall.

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Halloween is just around the corner, and this year to celebrate I thought I’d do some spooky reading. I know what you’re thinking. “Katie, you are afraid of everything and you are setting yourself up for a month of nightmares, you big chickeny chicken face!” You’re right. But I’m gonna do it anyway! Let’s get our creepy on!

1. The Passage by Justin Cronin. It’s October’s Fellowship of the Worms selection! Zombie/vampire hybrids? Yep. Nightmares. But at least we’re doing this TOGETHER!

2. Dracula by Bram Stoker. This is THE classic vampire novel. How have I managed this long without having read this book? It seems so terribly wrong…

3. The Walkng Dead: Rise of the Governor by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga. The new season of The Walking Dead  begins in October and I’m so excited! I got a copy of this book at BlogHer13 after watching Gale Anne Hurd’s kickass keynote. ZOMBIES!

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4. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I’m trying to incorporate some more classics into my literary diet and it’s spooktacular. (I know. I am already kicking myself for using such a dumb phrase. My shins shall be so very bruised…)

5. Feed by Mira Grant. ZOMBIES! I’ve heard great things about this series, so I’m pretty stoked about it. Braaaaaaaains. Om nom nom!

6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. Halloween brings out the kid in me, why not indulge in a creepy kid’s story? Everybody loves the classic “kid raised by wolves ghosts” tale!

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7. The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. Aliens and religion. When you dig deep into religion you get into some secretive, scandalous, and mysterious tidbits. Add aliens?! Well. I mean, ALIENS! (I love ET. That doesn’t have a whole lot to do with anything, but that’s what comes to mind when I think of aliens. I cannot watch that movie without crying. He’s like a weird ugly otherwordly chihuahua.)

8. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier. I’ve been meaning to read this for ages. I’m SUPER annoyed that I can’t get it for my kindle yet. Ugh. Seriously, people. I love me some digital books. I haven’t got the storage space to bring more physical books into my house. It seems exceptions will have to be made, but not without a little grumbling. Grumble grumble grumble…

9. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Duuuuuuuuuuun dun dun dun dun duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuun! Sorry, sorry. It just got a little Andrew Lloyd Weber up in here. I would like to read this ghostly little tidbit though. I hear that no one tells a story like Gaston, so…

10. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. What is scarier than the end of the world, dude?! Let’s do this thing!

What are your plans for the fall, bookworms? A little bit of frightful fare for the spooky season? Tell me about it!

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Sep 04

Take Me Down, Six Underground (Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman)

Fantasy, Mythology, Supernatural, Travel 53

Well Hello Bookworms,

I am not much of a world traveler, so it may surprise you to know I have, in fact, left the good old USA on occasion. When I was in college, I took a mini-mester in London. It was a two week trip where our instructors traveled with us. We took three hours of class a day and spent the rest of the time sight seeing and rambling around trying not to be overly obnoxious. Not sure that we succeeded. In any case, we were supplied with two week pass to the London underground. Thus, I became entranced with “The Tube.”

The London subway system is a massive network of underground tunnels, like any subway. However, having never used a subway system in any other major city, I found it weirdly romantic and exciting. This is likely because I was commuting to tourist destinations instead of work… I imagine the mystique would fade quite quickly if it were part of your day-to-day routine…

That’s the case for Richard Mayhew, the protagonist in Neil Gaiman’s NeverwhereRichard moves to London from Scotland. After a few years of commuting on the Tube, it’s lost its intrigue. He is concerned primarily with his job and his (rather pushy and unpleasant) fiance Jessica. All is well until one night as they head off to dinner.

Richard and Jessica unexpectedly encounter a young woman on the sidewalk… Bleeding profusely. Richard feels compelled to help while Jessica threatens to break off their engagement if Richard doesn’t continue on to their dinner. (Yeah, Jessica kind of sucks, though she DOES suggest calling an ambulance as they continue on their way, so I guess she’s only medium evil.) Richard, acting on instinct, takes the mysterious girl in his arms and back to his apartment after she implores him not to contact the authorities. Richard finds this a bit suspicious, but after a disturbing run-in with a pair of rather unsavory characters, Richard surmises the girl has good reason to keep a low profile. Richard then accompanies the girl on a strange adventure into another world known as London Below. neverwhere

This IS Neil Gaiman after all, you’ve got to expect some magic. London Below is situated in the space between subway platforms. It’s in the abandoned stations, the basements, and sewers of the city. It’s where the “people who fall through the cracks” end up. An odd mixture of characters make their homes in London Below. The underworld seems to be disconnected from time as we experience it, so you run into medieval monks as easily as Victorian castaways, the odd witch, and occasional bounty hunter. London Below is also extremely dangerous. Mythical beasts walk around unchecked. Rats converse with humans. Doors appear out of nowhere. Assassins run wild. But for all its strangeness, it’s also fascinating.

Neil Gaiman is a master of the creepy. He blends magic, mythology, and spooky ambiance seamlessly. I love that he chose the London Underground as his setting for this book! I always get excited when books are set in places I’ve been. I mean, it’s certainly cool to visit places you’ve never been in your reading, but there’s something about having a personal connection with a place. Anyway, I believe Neverwhere is my favorite Gaiman to date. Perfect reading for the transition into fall. I recommend it to anyone in the mood for a little bit of an eerie adventure.

Have any of you Bookworms out there enjoyed Neil Gaiman’s work? Have you read Neverwhere? What did you think? Have you ever imagined a mysterious underground civilization hanging out in your city? (It’s okay if your imaginary underground city includes the Ninja Turtles. I know mine does.)

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Jul 22

A Plague of Zombies by Diana Gabaldon

Blogging, Historical Fiction, Mythology, Supernatural, Zombies 19

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

Ordinarily, Mondays bum me out, but not today. Today is a shortened work week for me because I’m going to BlogHer on Thursday (wahoo!) Have I mentioned that I’m excited? To kick the week off on a happy note, today we’re going to talk about Diana Gabaldon’s novella, A Plague of Zombies.

I’m a big giant fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. She’s done a spin off series based on Lord John Grey (of which I have only read one… The one where studly Jamie Fraser featured prominently, natch.) Periodically she’ll also publish novellas to compliment the main Outlander books. It’s a good strategy, because we fans are positively RAVENOUS for new material. It certainly didn’t hurt anything that this particular novella also featured ZOMBIES. (In case y0u need reminding of my adoration of the undead see HERE and HERE.)

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A Plague of Zombies takes place sometime during the Voyager sagaWhile Jamie and Claire are off doing other things, Lord John has been sent to Jamaica. In the 18th century, Jamaica isn’t exactly a fabulous tourist destination. Jamaica at this time is full of wealthy European landowners, slaves, escaped slaves, a crap ton of bugs, and Mrs. Abernathy (formerly known as the wily and trecherous Geillis Duncan.) Lord John never does anything without having weird crap happen to him. He’s a magnet for this sort of thing.

Shortly after he arrives on the island, he is visited by what appears to be a zombie. Oh yeah. We are talking stinky, undead, flesh eating zombie. The island’s African population is freaked the frick out by the prospect of zombies (though really, who isn’t?) Lord John is nothing if not practical, so he decides to investigate the matter further.

This leads him to an encounter with Mrs. Abernathy AKA Geillis Duncan (from the original Oulander!) He notices that she’s a wee bit over familiar with the ideas of curses, zombies, and general scary doings… Also that she appears to be carrying an advanced case of syphilis. (Too bad Claire isn’t around with her homemade penicillin, amiright?! Actually, Geillis was crazy before the syphilis and given her penchant for trouble making, the penicillin would be better used on someone who didn’t systematically eliminate her husbands… )

Imagine this fella with red hair, because he'll be playing Jamie in the Starz production of Outlander. (Source)

Imagine this fella with red hair, because he’ll be playing Jamie in the Starz production of Outlander. (Source)

So. Lord John has a mystery to solve, and solves it rather tidily, as he is wont to do. All in all it was a nice little story, a pleasant revisiting of familiar characters to tide us over until March 2014, when Written in My Own Heart’s Blood comes out. The very best part of this novella, though? Bonus sneak preview of the new book. EEEP! Even if the novella had been a complete dud, it would have been worth it to get a glimpse of the shenanigans about to ensue. (Of course, Jem is still stuck in that blasted tunnel… The suspense, Diana! Have mercy on my neurotic soul!)

Anybody else out there picked up A Plague of Zombies? Any other rabid fans want to comment on the newly cast Jamie? Personally, I think a good hair colorist and consume designer can pull it off, but what say you, Bookworms?

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Jul 16

Coming Out From Under the Dome

Contemporary Fiction, Dystopian, Psychological, Supernatural 36

Howdy, Bookworms!

Exciting news today: I survived the DomeAlong! I have some thoughts to share on the second half of the book soooo… SPOILER ALERT!!! (I’m not kidding, it’s like ALL the SPOILERS.) You’ve been warned. Ready?

Under the Dome lengthwise

When we last spoke, I was getting frustrated with the one dimensional bad guys (who were just the evilest of evil) and the fact that the good guys couldn’t catch a break. They had also alluded to the fact that the Dome was probably caused by aliens, so I wasn’t too surprised to learn that was indeed the case. This book had an astonishingly high body count, so I’m just going to write out some tidbits and illustrate my reactions with gifs.

Let’s talk bad guys. I think the most satisfying revenge-y deaths were Georgia and Frank. The fact that Sammy got even a teeny bit of revenge for the hideous gang rape she suffered (even though she then killed herself…) pleased me. Not sure what that says about me as a human. Then Junior. Evil, brain tumored Junior. He came by his wickedness honestly, being the offspring of Big Jim Rennie, but Junior was killed in the heat of battle as he tried to mow Barbie down in a jail cell. Luckily for Barbie, Junior’s tumor was getting really bad and his aim was crap. That and the little band coming to break Barbie out of jail arrived just in time. I might have preferred to see Junior drawn and quartered, but I suppose being shot by a good guy helped curve a little bit of my revenge lust…

The good guys who rescued Barbie (and Rusty, because he managed to get himself arrested, too) decide to hide out near where they discovered the device producing the dome. Turns out the Dome was indeed the plaything of aliens. Plaything being the operative word. King was a bit heavy handed in drawing the comparison to ants being burnt under a magnifying glass, but the effect was pretty creepy. The people were trapped in a town that was self destructing by adolescent ne’er-do-well aliens. It reminded me of this old Twilight Zone episode where a ballerina, bagpiper, clown, and a couple other people are mysteriously trapped in a room. At the end it turns out that they’re TOYS in a donation bin.

Preach it, Cam. (Source)

Preach it, Cam. (Source)

Meanwhile, remember that meth lab on the outskirts of town? The drug addled Chef (who was, coincidentally, married to Sammy Bushey, gang rape victim, Bratz doll torturer, occasional lover of Junior’s second murder victim, and mother of Little Walter) has gone COMPLETELY off his rocker and starts threatening anybody who comes near his lil slice o’ heaven with machine guns. Andy Sanders (the first town selectman) decides to try and off himself but chickens out. He’s heard about Chef and his machine guns and goes out to visit (hoping he’ll be killed so he doesn’t have to do it himself. You know. Sin and all.) Instead of meeting his maker, Andy is introduced to the joys of meth and becomes Chef’s disciple. Greeeeat right? Well, the two of those yahoos smoke themselves into oblivion, which would be innocuous enough, if they weren’t also hell-bent on bringing about the End of Days. Do you know much about meth labs? They’re full of outrageously explosive chemicals and sometimes blow up unprovoked. If you’re The Chef and you’ve already lost your marbles, you think it’s a good idea to wire the whole place with dynamite, just to help things along.

So that happens. And since the Dome is really bad about air exchange, anybody who isn’t vaporized immediately succumbs to the oppressive fumes shortly thereafter, with a couple exceptions. The good guys who were hiding out on the ridge manage to get to the dome and have the military set up super industrial fans to push a little bit of fresh air through. The kid who shot his eye out at the very beginning of the book (because Ralphie’s mom was RIGHT, dangit!) had a brother who managed to hide in the cellar under a pile of potatoes and breathe some oxygen his dead grandfather had left in the house. And yes, Big Jim Rennie, cockroach that he is, manages to get himself and his newly minted “son,” Carter (who happened to also be a rapist, though Big Jim isn’t one to fixate on such trivialities) into the town’s old fallout shelter. After he kills Carter (who, in fairness, was trying to kill Big Jim,) I was beginning to get super pissed that Big Jim would survive. Then, I kind of hoped that he WOULD survive, because he’d be forced to face the music for all his evil deeds. Needless to say I was a little annoyed when he was taken out by a heart attack. No answering for his crimes except (hopefully) eternal damnation?

So the good guys eventually manage to get out of the Dome… By appealing to the punk-ass alien kids who are holding them hostage. This part sort of reminded me of the end of Ender’s Game (so I guess, SPOILER ALERT again.) The alien kids thought that it was all a game, they didn’t think people had feelings or whatever. It was a sadistic little game, just like kids burning ants with a magnifying glass, or giant bug-like aliens attempting to exterminate the indigenous species of planet Earth because they didn’t understand that humans were in fact intelligent beings. (I can’t really blame the poor buggers for that one, sometimes we ARE pretty dense.) Anyhow. Julia manages to convince one little alien kid to lift the Dome, and like 10 people get out. Out of 2,000. Not great odds, but it’s Stephen King, you know?

What I don’t understand is why they didn’t try the psychic begging angle before. Like… Julia’s final encounter with the aliens wasn’t the FIRST they’d had- why didn’t it occur to anyone to try to throw their brain waves and beg for mercy? They could have gotten out, Big Jim could have had a big public airing of his misdeeds and been punished appropriately, and the Chef wouldn’t have had the opportunity to kill basically everyone because his meth brain thought he was doing God’s work. I mean… Really?

Amy and I are not pleased. (Source)

Amy and I are not pleased. (Source)

So, um yeah. I don’t think Under the Dome was King’s best effort. I mean, it’s fine, I guess, but it’s not The Stand. It’s more like… The Stand… Light. Just 10 calories. Not Stand-ish enough. I have heard that a lot of people looooove this book, so I’m feeling a little Debbie Downer-ish here. Has anybody else read Under the Dome? What’s your take on it?

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Jun 24

Dome Along: We're Half Way There!

Book Club, Contemporary Fiction, Frightening, Psychological, Supernatural 44

Hidey Ho, Bookworms!

Remember how I said I’d joined a read along for Stephen King’s Under the Dome through Coffee and a Book Chick? I’m about half way through the book right now and I thought I’d give you a little synopsis of my feelings…

Under the Dome lengthwise

So. There’s this town called Chester’s Mill. It’s in Maine because that is Stephen King’s thing. One day these invisible walls go up all over town. People crash their cars into it. Planes crash. Limbs are severed. Woodchucks are bisected… And Katie reveals spoilers, probably. (Skip this bad boy if you want to know nothing.)

I was pretty upset about the woodchuck, I've got to admit. (Image Source)

I was pretty upset about the woodchuck, I’ve got to admit. (Image Source)

So this dome thing goes down. Nobody can get in, nobody can get out. Chester’s Mill is completely cut off from the world, save cell phones and sporadic internet coverage. Maybe this isolation wouldn’t be so bad if anybody had any idea who or what caused it. It’s a big fat mystery and people inside that bubble? They’re kind of freaking out. Not that I blame them.

Also, the town is full of big evil meanies. Big Jim Rennie is the bad dude in chief, and he’s so freaking evil he’s practically a cartoon character. I don’t know how he’s not constantly twirling a mustache and/or petting a cat. His son, creatively named Junior isn’t any prize either. He has violent tendencies and an undiagnosed brain tumor. Given his parentage, I doubt the brain tumor is responsible for the homicidal tendencies so much as his father’s super wicked DNA.

Sort of like these two... only less amusing. Source

Sort of like these two… only less amusing. Source

So Big Jim is rotten to the core and he’s in power. He assembles a gang of Junior’s douchey friends to be police officers. Big Jim is ALSO a “devout” Christian (you know, if you ignore the whole Ten Commandments bit…) There are a lot of dirty dealings going on in Chester’s Mill, and now that the Dome has fallen, the threat that they’ll come to light has increased… Not in the least because he has STOLEN all the propane tanks in town to power the METH LAB he’s been running because he’s so damn evil. His pastor was totally in on it too. Not making Christianity look good, these two.

You know when you’re reading Stephen King there are going to be bad guys. I’m a little frustrated with this because the bad guys have NO DIMENSION. Like… In The Stand. Yes, Randall Flagg was basically the devil incarnate… At least he was actually supernatural. But his minions? It’s hard to blame the Trashcan Man for being all crazy… I mean, his brain is broken. And the guy Flagg rescued from the prison? Sure he’s no saint, but his badness had layers. None of these people have layers. They’re all just rotten to the core and horrible and GAH!

Oh and the good guys? They are dropping like flies. False arrests and murders and douchebaggery of all sorts. The good guys better catch a break soon, or I don’t know if I’m going to be able to hang in there for the last 500-600 pages. Oh yeah. So the government thinks that there’s probably aliens involved. Maybe that’s why Big Jim is so evil? And his gang of jerks? Pod people? Can I hope for that? Because I’m LOSING FAITH IN HUMANITY here, people!

Who am I kidding? We ALL know it's gonna be Aliens.

Who am I kidding? We ALL know it’s gonna be Aliens.

I need a pep talk, here, fellow Dome Along-ers! Will the good guys ever get anywhere? Will an alien show up and LASER Big Jim Rennie? Will people stop being stupid? Will they break the damn dome? I am to the point where I can only read this on the treadmill because I get so grouchy at it. Someone tell me there’s something good on the horizon. Pretty please?

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May 13

Awww, Sookie Sookie Now: Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris

Crime, Fantasy, Mystery, Mythology, Romance, Supernatural, Vampires 27

Hello to my Bloodsucking Bookworms!

Oh, that’s right. The REAL vampires are still “in the coffin.” I get it, I get it. I don’t blame you for keeping it to yourselves. Actually, I may have mentioned it before, but my very existence is proof to me that vampires are not real. I am DELECTABLE to all blood sucking insects. Every mosquito within miles comes to feast on my sweet sweet blood. (I’m beginning to think I may be part fairy.) Anyway. Considering I’m so delicious to fleas and flies and mosquitoes, it would only make sense that vampires would find me irresistible, drink all my blood, and render me a whole lot of dead in very little time. Let us suspend our disbelief, shall we?

In Charlaine Harris’s version of vampire-lore, vampires “came out of the coffin” to the general public after a medical company was able to manufacture synthetic blood. The theory was that they would no longer be a threat to humans if they just drank bottled fake blood instead of guzzling humanity. After the vampires came to light, so too did werewolves and other shape shifters (I’ve yet to hear of a were-penguin, but I like to hold out hope that it is completely possible. Sam Merlotte, the resident Bon Temps shape shifter/bar owner can turn into just about anything. Just because he never pulled out the penguin tux doesn’t mean he COULDN’T if he wanted to, right?) In a world where vampires, shape shifters, and werewolves, are real, the floodgates are open to all sorts of mythical creatures. Fairies, demons, elves, and hybrid supernaturals of all kinds have encountered the lovely Sookie Stackhouse over the last 12 books. Sookie, our heroine, is a waitress in a bar in small town Louisiana.

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Sookie has been a telepath all her life, which is typically the bane of her existence. I don’t want to hear what goes on inside anyone else’s head any more than I want someone listening in on my thoughts. You can’t control thoughts, you know? All the impolite things you think but never say are what Sookie deals with on a daily basis. The fact that she was drawn into the world of supernaturals was largely based on this gift- she isn’t able to hear vampire thoughts at all, and other supernaturals are difficult for her to read clearly. Finally, some peace and quiet! Only… Not at all. Because hanging out with witches and vampires and werewolves and fairies and shape shifters makes life AWFULLY interesting… And leads to an impressive pile of dead bodies, human and otherwise.

This has all been leading up to the finale of Dead Ever After, book 13 in the series. Sookie’s had a series of love interests, among them two scandalously sensual vampires (the quintessential southern gentleman and the outrageously hot Viking), a were-tiger, a were-wolf, and exactly zero humans. Her fairy blood has proved a mixed blessing as it makes her vampire catnip (though it’s diluted enough that they don’t just eat her outright), but lands her in a world of conflict with another dimension of existence. Sookie’s dearly departed Gran left her a token of love called a cluviel dor, which is super powerful fairy magic that allows the owner one insanely powerful wish. At the end of her last adventure, Sookie used her cluviel dor to save the life of her close friend and business partner Sam Merlotte (after he was injured in a werewolf battle. Dangerous business hanging around supernaturals, even if you are one.) Unfortunately, Sam starts acting all weird about the whole thing (much to my dismay because I’ve been ‘shipping hard for Sookie and Sam to have a happily ever after since book 1, y’all.)

Sookie + Sam = Supernatural love that can reproduce and lives only the length of a normal human life!

This is a screen cap from True Blood. It’s a great show, as long as you don’t expect it to follow the books very closely… As in, the books are less of a code and more of a loose set of guidelines…

To add to the crazy, Sookie’s ex friend Arlene managed to get herself sprung from jail (because of that one time she joined a cult and tried to crucify Sookie…) and shortly thereafter get herself murdered. I know, right? Thanks to the work of some devious douchebags, Sookie is framed for the crime. While Sookie’s had to mow down a few supes in her life, it’s largely been in self defense. She’s a sweet gal, Sookie. Murder really isn’t her jam. So now she’s got to rally her troop of supes to solve the crime and prove her innocence.

I didn’t have exceptionally high expectations for this finale book because the series is fun, but campy. It would have been hard for me to be upset if she’d ended up with the hottie hot hot Eric, or her first love Bill, or Quinn the were-tiger, or even Alcide the werewolf. Sure, I was Team Sam all the way, but you know. They’re fun silly books about imaginary people and imaginary things that didn’t get all up in my SOUL the way that Harry Potter did. Fun distraction, but I’m surely not feeling bereft knowing the series is finished. I won’t tell you how it turns out, but I found the final book satisfying. A follow up book which is NOT a novel is due out in the fall. It will detail what becomes of all the characters in their happily ever afters. I’m sure that will provide any closure to any lingering questions fans have, and I applaud Harris for taking the step.

Have any of you bookworms been following the Sookie saga? Have you read the finale? How did YOU want things to turn out? Are you pleased with the results? Talk to me, my dears. I love to hear from you!

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Apr 18

All You Need Is Love… And Warm Bodies (by Isaac Marion)

Coming of Age, Frightening, Humor, Romance, Supernatural, Zombies 26

Braaaaaaaaains… I mean, Bookworms.

Sorry about that, guys. I just finished reading Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion and I’m still recovering. It’s an uplifting zombie novel with heart (beating and otherwise…) It’s not often I get to use the word “uplifting” in conjunction with “zombie,” but Warm Bodies is a rare novel.

warm bodies

We start off in an airport that is no longer functioning. It’s home to “R” and countless other zombies. R is a bit of an enigma. He cannot remember his former life, and all he can recall about his name is that it began with an R.  Oh yes, he also lusts after human brains. BUT. He can hold conversations. As long as they’re in sentences of 4 syllables or less. His best friend “M” retains an echo of his former life, and something approaching a sense of humor. R amuses himself by riding the escalators up and down when the generators periodically kick on. One day he grunts to a lady zombie. They make a pilgrimage to another portion of the airport and are married, zombie style.

WHAT?! I know, right? Not only is this book written from the perspective of a zombie, the zombies in question are ORGANIZED. They have something approaching a religion, which is manned by skeleton priests. They bring food back from hunting trips for the child zombies. They hold “school” during which they teach the zombie children how to go for the jugular. Big departure from traditional zombie lore! However, they fact that THEY WANT TO EAT YOU ALIVE remains. They TOTALLY want to eat you alive. Your brain especially, because they can relive bits an pieces of your life by digesting your brain… Like a little movie montage…

brain

I love how the clip art brain has “thinking” lines. Zombies are particularly fond of the little zaps.

One day, R and his compadres go on a hunting trip. They set upon a group of unsuspecting teenagers on a salvage expedition. While R is devouring a particularly tasty brain, he starts to FEEL his victims feelings more intensely than he ever has before. R notices a girl he recognizes as “Julie” (thanks to his delicious snack) and has an uncontrollable urge to protect her. He smears her with stinky dead blood and hauls her back to his home sweet home- his own personal 747. How’s THAT for creepy? Kidnapped by a zombie?!

Julie has a peculiar effect on R. He is suddenly capable of speaking in longer sentences. He resists the urge to gnaw human flesh. He begins to feel and care and be more aware than he can ever recall being. Julie does a remarkable job of not freaking the frick out. I guess that comes from living in a cramped stadium with what’s left of humanity while fighting off things that want to eat you. Julie and R bond over music, of all things. Julie loves the Beatles (and while “All You Need Is Love” isn’t specifically referenced in the book, it’s clear to ME that’s our theme song here) while R prefers the soothing sounds of vintage Frank Sinatra on vinyl.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo may just have saved the world.

John, Paul, George, and Ringo may just have saved the world.

R’s zombiness thaws the more time he spends with Julie. Needless to say, much like the Capulets and Montagues, neither the zombies or the humans are too keen on this little romance. I won’t be the queen of spoilers… Who are we kidding? Yes I will. Let’s just say this has a much happier ending than Romeo & Juliet. HA!!!!! I just got that! “R” as in Romeo and Julie, like Juliet! You are one clever fellow, Isaac Marion. Ahhh good times. It’s a refreshing departure from the doom and gloom of the zombie genre. The message of hope is one we could use more of these days.

I have NOT seen the movie version of this, but I’ve heard great things. I don’t think I’d be too disappointed by major plot changes- the girl-meets-zombie-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks premise is enough to keep me entertained! What do you think, Bookworms? Anybody read this? Seen the movie? What do you think?

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Apr 15

Get Swept Up In The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Supernatural, Time Travel 41

Salutations, Bookworms!

I’ve been a book blogger for a while now, 8 months or so. I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing, but I’m pretty sure I’m doing something RIGHT, because I recently got an email from a publisher offering me a free book! Now, this is not the first time I’ve been offered a book, but it IS the first time I’ve accepted one, since time constraints and/or lack of interest have prevented me from taking them in the past. You’re supposed to be VERY CLEAR AND UP FRONT when you review a book you’ve gotten for free. HEY INTERNET! I GOT THIS BOOK FOR FREE!

Now that we have the formalities out of the way… I got an email offering me a copy of The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway. I was intrigued because the email claimed that fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander would like this book. I was intrigued, but also a little wary. I mean, was I in for a poorly executed copy of Gabaldon’s awesomeness? I’m not very nice when that happens…

rivernoreturn

I needn’t have worried. This book had elements I’ve seen in other places, but they were woven together into something completely original and enthralling. If you took the time travel romance element of Outlander and combined it with the conspiracy theory aspect of, say, Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, added a some of the magical bits from The Night Circus, and put it in a blender with a chocolate milkshake, you’d get close to The River of No Return. It’s delicious.

Without getting super spoiler-happy, I’ll give you the lowdown. Nick Falcott is a Georgian-era English aristocrat who decides to fight in the Napoleonic wars. Just as he’s about to be done in by a Frenchman, he vanishes into thin air and re-materializes in 2003. Oops. He’s rescued by a mysterious group known as “The Guild” who locate accidental time travelers and help them re-acclimate to the time they’ve jumped into. The Guild provides the unwitting time travelers with money and sets up new lives for them in new countries. They also force them to learn medieval Finnish. (A secret society has got to have SOME quirks, right? They can’t ALL speak Latin, for heaven’s sake.) Anywho, Nick gets all situated with his indoor plumbing and his blue jeans and indulges his affinity for homemade stinky cheeses and beautiful women for a good 10 years. All is well until he receives a summons from The Guild…

Meanwhile, in 1815, Julia Percy is super sad because her grandpa kicks the bucket and she’s stuck with her douchey cousin as heir to the manor (or castle. They call it a castle, but as there are no crowns involved, I don’t think it counts.) Julia doesn’t realize her grandfather’s gift of freezing time is anything more than a strange game the two played. Of course she realizes it’s not NORMAL to go around stopping time, but she has no idea just how important she will be to The Guild, their enemies, and Nick (bow chicka bow wow).

I imagined nick looked rather like Hugh Dancy in period costumes. You know, plus the appropriate scars and whatnot.

I imagined nick looked rather like Hugh Dancy in period costumes. You know, plus the appropriate scars and whatnot.

Okay. I need to stop talking before the spoilers happen. Here’s some stuff I loved. First, there were some seriously funny one-liners in this book. I laughed out loud several times (particularly when Nick pondered his existence as “just a dude.”) Second, despite having a very science-y twist with the time travel, it was very accessible to me. The idea that time travel was facilitated by feelings and the flow of human history rather than, like, equations and black holes made me really happy. Third, time travel brings all sorts of fun colorful characters together who wouldn’t normally get to hang out. Gender bending teen from the 80s is like BFF with a medieval Swedish turnip farmer? It’s awesome.

My only complaint, if I can even call it that, is that the book left a lot of unfinished business. I assume (and hope… nay DEMAND!) that this is the first in a series of novels, because if it isn’t, I might cry. The concepts aren’t new, but the take is fresh and FUN. If you liked Outlander or Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore or The Night Circus or just generally enjoy books that don’t suck? Check out The River of No Return. Bee Ridgway, you’ve got yourself an admirer right here.

Alright, Bookworms. Since we’re talking time travel here, if you could go back to any point in history, where would you go? Why? Would you try to smuggle in deodorant, toilet paper, and contact lenses? (Because I totally would…)

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