Friday, December 30, 2011

Born Wicked

The Brotherhood, a patriarchal religious group, rule Victorian era America with an iron fist. In the previous rule, witches were in power and women were revered, educated, and powerful. The Brotherhood is the opposite in every way: women are forced to be uneducated and oppressed or they are sent to prison or mental institutions. Cate Cahill and her sisters are considered eccentric because they don't involve themselves in the society and don't bother to try to fit in. Cate's first priority is to hide the fact that she and her sisters are all witches from the Brotherhood and keep them from using their powers frivolously. Her plan has worked so far, but soon she must either declare her intention to marry someone, become part of the Sisterhood (the weaker, feminine counterpart to the Brotherhood), or allow the Brotherhood to choose a husband for her. She despises the Sisterhood and would loathe any old man that would be chosen for her to marry. The boy she has feelings for is below her station and inappropriate to marry. With any of her choices, the separation from her sisters is inevitable, which puts them in danger and goes against her deceased mother's wishes for her to protect them. Can she conform to her society's rules and protect her sisters? Can she find happiness despite the control the Brotherhood has over her life?

Born Wicked is a wonderful blend of science fiction and fantasy that weaves together themes of love, duty, religion, magic, and feminism. It took me a little while to get acclimated to the changes in history. I had a clear idea of the historical events and climate in the real world, so it blew my mind a little that the alternate history was so complete and hugely world changing. The Victorian era is even more oppressive and misogynistic than it was in real life, which is no small feat. Not only can women not pursue any sort of education beyond the home-making arts at any age, but if they do anything subversive or offend the wrong person, they can be imprisoned in a mental institution or sent to a prison labor camp indefinitely. It isn't uncommon to be condemned without so much as the smallest opportunity to prove one's innocence. Women are expected to act vapid and shallow and have no other ambition than to serve their husband, who in turn may treat them as an object. They can't hold jobs or positions of power and alternative lifestyles are also not tolerated. This is a frightening society that is based enough on real events that it's complete believable.

On top of the well written setting and dystopia, I really connected with the characters. Cate and her sisters had their own interests and their own viewpoints about life. Cate is a strong character that puts the safety of her sisters above her own wants and needs. The pressure on her to choose a path that will inevitably end in both her separation from her family and her own unhappiness is astronomical, but she continues to soldier on. It's also nice to see a YA heroine think of someone else for a change instead of putting their own selfish needs in front of everyone and everything else. Her sisters had a few surprises up their sleeves, but I didn't like them as much as Cate because they didn't really appreciate the sacrifices she made for them and mostly treat her badly.

I was very impressed with Jessica Spotswood's debut novel Born Wicked. Despite my own misgivings about its genre, the book greatly surprised me and proved to be attention grabbing and interesting. It bypassed all the typical YA tropes in favor of rich story telling and realistic characters. I am very sad I read this so early because I will have to wait even longer to find out what happens next.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

** Born Wicked is released on February 7, 2012. Check it out here. **

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!!

Wishing you all a merry Christmas!!!!! :D

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Machine Man

Charles Neumann works as a mechanical engineer for Better Future. He has no friends or social skills to speak of, but he loves technology and machines. He feels as if a piece of him is missing when he misplaces his cell phone. In an effort to get his cell phone back while testing a polymer in his industrial lab, he loses his leg. At first, depression clouds his whole life. After meeting his physical therapist and beginning the process of making his own prosthetic legs, he starts to see his situation as one of opportunity. Instead of moping about losing a limb, he works on making a limb that surpasses his frail human ones. Then he takes it a step further and severs his other leg on purpose in order to replace it with the superior mechanical one. Everyone thinks he's trying to kill himself until he explains his reasoning to a Better Future representative. Then, provided with two teams of interns to help, Charles develops medical enhancements for everyday people and works to perfect the rest of his weak human body. Then the teams take his projects further than he thought possible and they spin out of control. Can he stop Better Future and still use his own technological advances to replace the inferior squishy bits of his body?

Machine Man is a great novel that satirizes our need and dependence on technology. It's pervasive in our society and we may not even recognize it because we are so entrenched in it. I see it every day in the people that can't ignore their phones through a two hour film or class or even in myself, when I feel weird if I haven't been online in a day. This dependence seems ridiculous when it is separated from us in the novel. Charles was preoccupied all day, thinking about possible places his phone could be. I think a lot of us have been there because it is such an essential part of lives that we don't even recognize as such until it's missing. Then, he even loses a leg because of his mindless need for his phone. In his case, it's so extreme that it even comes before his own safety and wellbeing. After he develops his legs and his team develops mechanic organs and such, he starts to "upgrade" parts of himself as we would get a new and better phone, laptop, or mp3 player, except for the large amount of pain involved. This transforms the medical industry from one of necessity for sick or disabled people to one of trendsetters and technophiles trying to outdo each other.

Charles is both a compelling and frustrating character. He's obviously very technically smart and a brilliant scientist, but he can be very dense about other things, like relationships and interacting with people in general. Lacking any understanding of emotions, he regards the people around him as alien. His world is seen through a very clinical eye that only takes into account logic and reason. His development through the course of the book is what kept me reading as he tries to reconcile love and emotion with his world view.

Machine Man is a fun satire on our addiction to technology. The characters are all unique and quirky in their own ways, making the plot unpredictable and exciting. I have enjoyed all of Max Barry's books (especially Jennifer Government and Syrup) and I can't wait to read what he writes next.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Monday, December 12, 2011


Carmen Bianchi is a famous virtuosic violin player stressing over the life changing Guarneri competition. This includes obsessively practicing (as usual) and checking out the competition, which looks a lot like stalking. She is caught stalking by her main rival Jeremy King and they begin their love/hate relationship. They start sniping at each other through emails, but when they finally meet in person, they treat each other like people and actually get along. The competition is usually in the forefront of Carmen's mind, but her budding friendship/romance with Jeremy pushes it aside. Everyone in her life except her stepfather just care about her success and would do anything to get her there. They are even accepting and even encouraging about her dangerous addiction to anti-anxiety drugs. As Carmen wrestles with who she should trust, the competition draws closer. Although Jeremy seems to be the only person in her life who cares about her, is it only a facade for trying to get her to throw the competition?

I was first drawn to Virtuosity because the focus is on music performance. There haven't been a lot of recent teen books about the subject. Some authors include it as a minor detail to flesh out characters, but they never return to it again. (I'm looking at you Hush, Hush.) The author is very experienced in the field, being a teen star violinist herself, so her characters and their conflicts feel authentic to me. In the novel, she captures the reasons why I didn't choose to go into music performance when chose my music major focus in college: the cut-throat attitudes, the competition taking over the performer's life, and especially making music a joyless endeavor. I play the flute because I enjoy it and if that enjoyment was taken away, I wouldn't want to do it anymore. Carmen no longer enjoys making music because there is so much riding on each individual performance and there is pressure on her from all sides.

The most interesting aspects beyond music are the way she is treated by the people in her life. Her stepfather is the only person who really cares about her as a person and does things with her that are fun and outside her work. Her mother is incredibly intense and doesn't even acknowledge that she is still a teenage girl. At first, she seems really caring about Carmen and has her best interests at heart, but as the book goes on, it's clear that she just cares about her success and the money she brings. What shocked me the most was her lack of confidence in Carmen and her encouragement of Carmen's dependence on the anti-anxiety medication. Her teacher is horrible and doesn't care about her emotions or her wellbeing. Jeremy is her only real friend, but she is constantly struggling with her opinion of his motivations. I was a little disappointed that their relationship was the focus of the novel instead of Carmen's own personal journey. Most teen books focus on some sort of romance, but it would be nice to see more that don't.

Overall, I enjoyed Virtuosity. It provided a realistic look into the music performance industry. The descriptions of the performances were beautifully written. I would love to read whatever Jessica Martinez comes out with next.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I'm Not Dead

Apologies for not posting since Thanksgiving. Finals week is next week and I'm drowning in last minute projects. I won't be posting anything until after next week, but I'm still alive! Then I can finally get back to reading and reviewing like usual. :)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving for all those who celebrate and Happy Random Thursday to all those who don't. I'll leave you with a couple of awesome Thanksgiving themed videos.

* The Most Awesome Thanksgiving Musical Ever from Addams Family Values

* Hilarious Thanksgiving Stand-up by Eddie Izzard

* Greatest Thanksgiving Description Ever from Anya on Buffy the Vampire Slayer


Friday, November 18, 2011

The Night Eternal

Vampires have taken over the globe. The internet and cell phones are outlawed. Nuclear bombs are disarmed. The air is extremely polluted, shrinking daylight hours to only a couple each day. People with desirable blood types are put into farms to be bred or bled. Humanity keeps going as it always has, getting used to their vampire overlords' demands. Ephraim Goodweather is broken. His wife has been turned into a vampire and she frequently stalks and torments him. His son is missing and he has no idea if he's alive, or dead, or a vampire. In addition to all this, he has turned to drugs and alcohol to dull his feelings and survive day to day. He and his small group of friends are the only hope that human race has left to save themselves. They plan to find the Master's place of origin and nuke it, destroying him and all of his offspring. Can Ephraim hold it together long enough to destroy his mortal enemy or will he simply drown in his own sorrow?

The Night Eternal is the third and final book in the Strain trilogy. I loved both of the previous books and had high expectations for this one. I was a little disappointed, but many great things continued from the previous books. As always, the characters are completely fleshed out and multidimenstional. Ephraim is a good person, but became irresponsible and self indulgent due to his family and his world being completely torn apart. Nora is struggling to hide her less than lucid, aged mother from the new society that views the elderly as a drain of resources. Fez is trying to find a working nuclear bomb on his worldly travels and developing a relationship with Nora while Ephraim continues to drown his sorrows. The most compelling character to me is Mr. Quinlan, the only born vampire in existence. He was born during the reign of Caligula and his only goal is to destroy the Master, which would result in his death. His back story is fascinating and his enigmatic presence in the earlier books becomes more understandable. The other triumph of this book is the action sequences and sustaining a high level of suspense throughout. Their adventures take them from blood farms to the houses of the rich to the bowels of abandoned universities to a dark, ominous island.

The Night Eternal lost me when it broke from the other books and maintained a distinctly fantasy and mythology based origin for the vampires and relied on ridiculous moments of deus ex machina to solve their problems. I loved that the first two books had detailed, scientific explanations for vampire biology and behavior that the main characters figured out in order to defeat them. It was fascinating and something I had never seen before in vampire novels. This new, magic material just shatters the past science fiction basis. There are fallen angels, prophecies galore, and at least a few instances of deus ex machina, which is one of the worst writing tropes. It cheapened the story for me and was just annoying. I was disappointed that a great science fiction series suddenly changed into a mediocre fantasy.

Overall, I enjoyed The Night Eternal if I ignored the ridiculous prophecies and magical nonsense. The writing remained excellent beyond that and the characters stayed true to themselves. I would recommend that fans of this series ascertain if they can tolerate the change in tone before reading.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Shatter Me

Juliette is seventeen years old hasn’t spoken to or touched anyone in 264 days. Whenever she touches someone, they suffer and eventually die if she holds on long enough. She was imprisoned for murder by the Re-establishment, an organization who is dedicated to rebuilding the polluted, barren Earth on the surface. Food and animals are scarce, the sky is incredibly polluted, and diseases run rampant. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is so harmful, but she is small compared to the larger problems of the world. Everything changes when after months and months of isolation, a boy is put into her cell with her. She has no idea what her jailers’ angle is, but she is determined to keep to herself and keep him safe. He isn’t what he appears to be and she has to choose whether she will be a weapon for someone else to wield or a self sufficient warrior.

Shatter Me is a mixed bag for me. On one hand, I was engaged by the interesting writing style and the main character, Juliette. The narrative is written in a kind of stream of consciousness style, giving the work the feeling of reading her journal or her innermost thoughts. It’s punctuated with occasional strike outs that reveal Juliette’s true feelings, usually followed by what she thinks she should feel. At the beginning of the story, she is practically catatonic, having been isolated for the better part of a year in an insane asylum. The strike outs provide glimpses into Juliette’s character that she doesn’t reveal outwardly. They lessen as the story goes along and as Juliette becomes stronger and more expressive. Juliette is the most compelling character by far and undergoes the most development. Underneath all the abuse she has experienced, she’s very strong and her sensitivity is sometimes mistaken for weakness. I thought her power was interesting, even though it was reminiscent of both Jenny Pox and Rogue from X-Men.

On the other hand, Shatter Me had a lot of flaws. The dystopic world isn’t fully developed and felt a little hollow for me. There are no real, detailed reasons for practically anything and no questions are answered. The story is closer to a paranormal romance than a sci-fi dystopia. The romance is pretty melodramatic and over the top. I didn’t like Adam, the soldier boy love interest, because he was too macho and alpha male for me. Not appealing. Plus all of the characters besides Juliette were flat and I also thought it was awfully convenient that two of the characters vying for her love can touch her without dying. The ending was the aspect I hated most because, like most first installments of teen series, it ended in the middle of a scene without really resolving anything. I really don’t know why this keeps happening in teen books, but it’s really annoying and I would like to read a complete story. Of course some things should be left open for a second book, but to abruptly, awkwardly end is just unacceptable.

Although it has flaws, Shatter Me kept my attention and introduced some interesting concepts that I hope are continued in the next book. I would recommend it to paranormal romance lovers who also like X-Men and Jenny Pox.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Amanda Palmer and Jason Webley Concert of Awesome!

The concert was at the El Rey in Los Angeles on the Saturday before Halloween. I really wanted to dress up, but didn't have a lot of time to throw together a costume. So I wore the brain slug I wore for Comic Con. Lazy costume, yes, but a surprising amount of people recognized it.

Anway, opening the gig was the Petrojvic Blasting Company, who are an Eastern European brass band with a jazzy, cabaret feel. I must say that brass instruments really don't need to miked, but their songs were delightful and fun. My favorite song was Princess Andy.

The Jane Austen Argument came up next, who I had heard of from Amanda's latest album Amanda Goes Down Under. They are comprised of Tom Dickins on vocals and ukulele and Jen Kingwell on piano and vocals. They started with the song Under the Rainbow, about the implications of Tom Dickon's parents first meeting acting in The Wizard of Oz as Dorothy and the Scarecrow. I was immediately moved by this song, the ending nearly bringing me to tears. It's so beautiful and angry and sorrowful all at once with allusions to The Wizard of Oz throughout. Tom's voice has an amazing range and depth to it. I've been completely obsessed with this song and have been playing it over and over from their EP like some crazy person. They are incredibly talented and I hope they come to Southern California again soon.

In between sets, they played Halloween themed music at huge decibels for the crowd to enjoy. One of the highlights was the Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Practically everyone (except for a few people around me) were doing a very small version of the time warp (as it was a very crowded and sold out show) and singing along. Those people who stayed silent did so for the entire concert and it's just odd to me. I don't know if they were unaffected by the perfomances or cared about looking stupid, but that's the experience of going to a concert like this. I screamed and sang and danced and clapped until by the end of the night I was completely exhausted and sore, but I felt the magic that live performances bring, where the crowd ceases to be individuals and instead becomes one amorphous, joined by our energy, enjoyment, and love of music.

Anyway, next up was Jason Webley, half of Evelyn Evelyn and master accordianist. His energy was boundless as he sang and danced while playing accordian. His style of music is folk and alternative performed in innovative ways. He came out with his band banging out rhythms with shovels and drum sticks, preluding my favorite song Dance While the Sky Crashes Down (mixed with Halloween). I love how it's played like a tango, but it's actually a song about the apocalypse.

He also played a medley of Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Thriller, continuing in the Halloween spirit, along with some of his other songs such as Map and There's Not a Step We Can Take. My favorite part of the set was how he included the audience in his songs. In one song, we were the orchestra, singing background parts. In another, he threw out water bottles with rocks in them for people to shake to the beat. In others, we simply clapped. It just made me feel more a part of the music.

After a small interlude of Halloween music (I believe it was Bauhaus' Bela Lugosi's Dead and This is Halloween), Amanda Palmer took the stage. Her electric presence and her raw, emotional singing and piano playing commanded the attention of the crowd. She played some songs from her albums, such as Ampersand, Astronaut, Map of Tasmania, Girl Anachronism, and In My Mind. Although I love these songs, I enjoy the more unexpected songs like covers and newly composed songs. My favorite of her covers was Rebecca Black's Friday, except she changed it to reflect the view of a truck stop hooker. She took a completely vapid, frankly horrible song and gave it depth and horrifying implications.

The newly composed song she debuted was called Judy Blume. This song should seriously be the YA Saves theme song. Palmer is asked all the time what her influences are and she never thought of Judy Blume as an influence, but she was affected by her books as a teen and never made the connection until now. I completely relate the song. I may not remember every single drama I went through or every single friend I had as a kid, but I remember reading The Wizard of Oz, The Vampire Diaries, and the Goosebumps and Fear Street books that helped me through my problems and sometimes acted as an escape for me.

For the encore, Jason and Amanda sang songs together. I was hoping for Evelyn and Evelyn songs, but they sang other songs. The first was Icarus, one of my favorite songs by Webley. Then all the musicians came onstage and we all sang a drinking song together. At first it was a failure because we weren't all drunk, so they had us spin around 11 times looking at our finger in the air to get good and dizzy to sing the song. I love that in the video the person actually spun around and swayed with their neighbors so the viewer can get the full effect.

All in all, it was an awesome show that I enjoyed immensely. I can't wait for these groups to return to Southern California!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Lochan and Maya are siblings that have become the head of their household because of their parents’ divorce and their mother’s neverending quest to reclaim her youth through irresponsible and immature behavior. They act as parents for their younger siblings, feeding them, caring for them, and even forcing their mother to give them money for their necessities. Life is hard for them because they have to balance their time consuming home life and their school work, exams, and their lives as teenagers. Their biggest nightmare is child protective services coming in and splitting up their family, so they work hard to make everything appear normal, despite their lives spinning out of control. After they have been relying on each other for so long and acting as parents for their younger siblings, Lochan and Maya have become extremely close. The close friendship they had as children slowly evolved into forbidden romantic love. Lochan and Maya grapple with their feelings that are so contrary to the society in which they live and decide if their relationship is worth risking everything they’ve worked for.

Forbidden is about incest. I was initially pretty shocked that a teen author would be brave enough to write a book like this. I assumed that people would hate it and be shocked and disgusted, but the general consensus seems to be quite the opposite. I would characterize Forbidden as a more coherent, better written version of Flowers in the Attic. That was my first encounter with incestuous relationships in literature and I was surprised that throughout that series, I really wanted Cathy and Christopher to be together. There are many similarities between the two works (abusive mother, parenting siblings, worrying over separating their family), but Tabitha Suzuma infuses her story with much more realistic situations and emotions. My heart broke for Lochan, Maya, and their siblings. Nobody should have to suffer as they did, struggling to get the basics of life while their mother squanders their money on clothes, drinks, and presents for herself. The bright light for Maya and Lochan, as well as the readers, is their budding romance.

After Lochan and Maya had my sympathy, their odd and weirdly right feeling romance flowered into a deep and profound love. Incest is taboo in most societies and most of us wouldn’t hesitate to call it disgusting, but Suzuma made their relationship organic and like any other romance. Of course, they are fraught with guilt and worried about other people finding out, causing them to have many fights and trying to push each other away in an effort to uphold the values of their society. The chapters are alternately narrated by Maya and Lochan, which gave insight to their inner thoughts and conflicts. This aspect was essential in making the subject matter believable and palatable.

Forbidden is a very fast read that grabbed my heartstrings and took me on an emotional and complex journey. I would recommend it to those not afraid to put aside their own feelings on the subject matter.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Monday, November 14, 2011

Super Late September Zombies Winner Annoucements

I have been drowning in school work, so I kind of forgot to post the winners for the September Zombies giveaways. So here they are!

* Zombie Apocalypse giveaway
1) MAD

I will be emailing you one by one to claim your prize.

* Feed and Deadline giveaway

Congratulations to all winners!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here are some super belated Halloweeny videos for your enjoyment. :)

* The Yeah Yeah Yeah's Heads Will Roll

This is a great video and an awesome song. It's obviously an homage to Michael Jackson and Thriller while having a slightly different tone and making their own unique song and video. The tone is darkly comic and the video has an gruesome, sparkly ending. I love the confetti slaughter scene. The song is catchy to the point of being infectious. Karen O has a gorgeous voice and really holds her own beside the acrobatic, Michael Jackson-esque werewolf.

* Science Fiction/ Double Feature from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, sung by Amanda Palmer

Amanda Palmer singing Science Fiction/ Double Feature with Moby, Stephin Merritt, and Neil Gaiman. This was right before I saw her in concert with Neil Gaiman on Halloween, which I will post about when I am not swimming through school papers. Anyway, Gaiman is very stoic on the toy piano and Palmer is just as charismatic and effervescent as ever. Plus they are a super cute couple. ;)

* Schubert's Der Erlkönig (The Erlking)

Franz Schubert set Johann Wolfgang von Göethe's poem to music in this Lied, or artsong, for solo voice and piano. The story is based on a Danish legend of a deadly and seductive fairy that preys on children. The poem starts with a father clutching his son and frantically riding by horse back to his farm. The boy is sick and in his feverish delusion, he sees the Erlking trying to entice him with riches and his daughters. These entreaties start nicely until he is frustrated and willing to take him by force. The father only sees wisps of fog or shuddering leaves and tries to calm the boy. The boy's terror reaches its peak and the boy shreiks. When they get home, the boy has tragically died in his father's arms. Here are the original German and the English translation of the text.

The music follows and enhances the story in interesting ways. The horse can be heard in the constant, frantic piano bass part. The characters all have their own ranges and tones although the Lied is to be sung by only one person. The boy's entreaties to his father are always high and frightened and get progressively higher as the song progresses. His father's part is low and reasoning. The Erlking's part starts high and soft when he tries to ply the boy with things, but turns lower and more hostile. I love this song and had the wonderful opportunity to analyse it in a music theory class. Even the keys and modulations have significance to the plot.

This animated short by Ben Zelkowicz is a wonderful adaptation of the tale in which sand and glass are used in a very innovative way to illustrate the song.

Any Halloween songs you guys like? Please share!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Spooky Movies for Halloween

Horror is one of my favorite genres and Halloween (even one week after) is the best occasion to enjoy it. Here are my top picks for the best holiday.

1) Halloween

Of course! This is the quintessential Halloween movie and the very first slasher film that provided the formula for all others to follow. Michael Myers is absolutely frightening. He doesn't speak a word throughout the film and you have no idea what his face looks like as an adult. It preys on our fears of strangers and the unknown. With a single minded, slow and steady nature (and a spray painted William Shatner mask), he pursues the chaste Laurie Strode and her more promiscuous, substance abusing friends on Halloween night. The soundtrack by the director John Carpenter is genius in its simplicity and its ability to create suspense and inspire fear. Even though it was made in the 70's and has spawned a great many sequels and remakes, Halloween is still a very scary movie and one of my favorites.

2) Trick 'r Treat

Trick 'r Treat is my second favorite Halloween themed film. It features five interweaving storylines that take strange and surprising turns, making this a unique horror film that breaks a lot of the typical conventions. It was never released in mainstream theaters and was only shown at conventions and film festivals before going straight to DVD, which is so disappointing. I think a lot of people would like it. It stars some familiar faces like Anna Paquin and Brian Cox. This is the only other horror film that is quintessentially Halloween. I can see myself watching it religiously every year along with Halloween and The Nightmare Before Christmas. One storyline deals with a virginal college student being preyed upon with unexpected results. Another features a high school principal who poisons candy to punish those not in the holiday spirit. Two of the storylines deal with Sam, the eternal trick or treater that appears to be a child in a costume, but is actually the spirit of Halloween. He may look cuddly and cute, but he is swift and brutal with his punishment of those that don't celebrate enthusiastically. The film is laced with creepiness, blood, and black humor. Right now, it's super cheap on Amazon, I recommend buying if you're interested!

3) The Descent

The Descent is the story of a group of women who go caving in a tourist for their reunion after a tragedy occurred. They realize that it's not the cave they thought and they have been led there as a horrible surprise by one of the group. As they get more hostile with each other and struggle to find a way out, these frightening, blind underground dwellers appear, ready to kill and eat them. This film is absolutely frightening. I watched it at home with my sister with all the lights out and very jumpy through the whole thing. The first half doesn't have anything super natural at all, but it feels claustrophobic. The women are trapped in the underground caves and that alone is scary without adding in creepy creatures. When they do come on the scene, the situation escalates. Although an aspect of the film is the gore and interesting kills, the driving force throughout is the characters, their past, and their relationships. I recommend watching the UK ending and pretending the US ending doesn't exist. And don't watch the sequel even if it's streaming on Netflix; it's horrible.

4) Night of the Living Dead

In Night of the Living Dead, the dead rise. No one truly knows why, but people are just focused on trying to survive. A group of random people barricade themselves in a house to escape the zombie horde. The living dead isn't their only problem, but also the people in the house with them. This is the very first zombie film as we know them today.In Night of the Living Dead, the dead rise. No one truly knows why, but people are just focused on trying to survive. A group of random people barricade themselves in a house to escape the zombie horde. The living dead isn't their only problem, but also the people in the house with them. This is the very first zombie film as we know them today. Lots of rules and conventions are created and it inspired so many people to make zombies their own and use them as symbols for the things we fear: science, consumerism, disease, social constructs, etc. This film is in the public domain, so you should be able to find it pretty much anywhere and purchase it very cheaply.

Honorable mention: Poltergeist - A very scary ghost movie that gave me nightmares throughout my childhood. If you were disappointed by the Paranormal Activity films, I highly recommend that you see what a real poltergeist can do.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Mailbox Goodies

My Mailbox Goodies for the last 2 weeks! Just a note: I was super busy during Halloween, so I will still be putting up Halloween posts within the next few days. Evil school work. Anyway, the goodies!

* Harbor ARC by John Ajvide Lindqvist from Librarything

* Shatter Me ARC by Tahereh Mafi from Amazon Vine

* The Night Eternal by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan from Amazon Vine

* The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor from Book Soup at her signing last week

* Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist from Amazon UK

* 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami from Amazon

* The Mephisto Covenant by Trinity Faegan from Amazon Vine

* I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley from Amazon Vine

Any awesome reads in your mailbox?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood

Theseus Cassio Lowood AKA Cas kills the dead. This may seem redundant, but it's true. He destroys harmful ghosts and has done so ever since his father died a gruesome death doing the same task. Now, Cas travels the world, following rumors and killing ghosts, with his mother, online occult supplier and herbal witch, and her temperamental cat cat, only useful for recognizing spirits. After moving to Thunder Bay, Canada, Cas meets an altogether different kind of ghost: Anna Korlov, more commonly known as Anna Dressed in Blood. Her murder from 1958 was never solved and anyone foolish enough to venture into her house dies a horrible, painful death. Her once pristine white dress she wore to a school dance is now dripping and stained with blood. Her power is unparalleled by any other ghost he's encountered, save for one: his father's murderer. If Cas can defeat her, he will be ready to take down his father's murderer, but she easily defeats. However, she spares his life, something he has never seen a ghost do. Can he eventually defeat her and somehow destroy her source of power?

Anna Dressed in Blood is a wonderfully spooky read that really grabbed me from the first pages. This is partly because of the striking, blood tinged cover and deep red ink the story is printed in. The concept is original and takes the ghost story some place new. I'm not normally too big of a fan of ghost stories because after a while they start to all sound the same. Kendare Blake puts a new spin on things with ghost slayers, magic, voodoo, witches, and seriously malicious ghosts. There is a small community of ghost slayers, unknown to most people. Cass inherited an athame or ceremonial knife from his father and makes killing ghosts and avenging his father's death his personal quest. He moves across the world chasing leads on killer ghosts and dispatches them one by one, never staying in one place for very long. At first, his reluctance to get close to people and his willingness to use the people around him makes him seems callous and shallow. As the book goes on, his behavior is shown to actually protect himself and keep emotional attachments from distracting him. I loved his narrative because of his wit and the growth he shows throughout the novel. Although he is a compelling character, the one that really kept be reading was Anna.

Anna Korlov is a strong, fearsome, badass ghost. She is only the second that Cass hasn't been able to defeat, the first being his father's murderer. She's not a little poltergeist that simply moves things around like most pitiful ghosts; she can literally tear people apart with very little effort. She has killed anyone who has entered her house for over 50 years and she can suddenly choose not to kill one person. Rage seems to fill her every time she encounters someone. Her eyes turn black, black veins snake across her skin, and blood soaks and drips of her dress. I loved that a young girl in a white dress is usually the picture of innocence and goodness, but here, the image is horribly corrupted and frankly terrifying. Her house seems to be an extension of her that she could manipulate at will, revealing the scores of those that have died there in their putrescence. She's obviously no ordinary ghost. I needed to know what had happened to her, how she died, and how she got to be so powerful. Her very essence is a mystery. Is she completely evil? Is there a vulnerable young dead girl in there somewhere?

Anna Dressed in Blood features compelling characters, unique story lines, and new conventions for the ghost story. The plot always moved and maintained a level of suspense that kept me reading and then wanting even more after I finished the novel. Kendare Blake doesn't shy away from blood or gore at all, which puts closer to older teen or adult horror. This is highly recommended and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, Girl of Nightmares.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Raylene Pendle, accomplished thief and vampire, has a pretty complicated life. Her collection of strays has grown to include orphan siblings Domino and Pepper and blind vampire Ian Stott living in her apartment plus drag queen and ex-Navy SEAL Adrian deJesus, even though he lives elsewhere. Supporting so many people plus the huge move when she was forced from her previous building proves to be expensive. When Horace Bishop contacts her with a very lucrative job, she accepts despite the weirdness factor. The items of great value are actually penis bones, or bacula, of fantastical creatures, such as werewolves and unicorns and they are worth millions. She knows the job is more complicated than it seems, but is still surprised when someone steals them first and then destroys the house with lightning. To further complicate matters, the leader of Ian's House is killed, leaving him in charge. He can't risk returning because of his disability, but can't ignore his responsibilities to his family. Raylene resolves to solve his problem by finding out what really happened to his father and takes Adrian with her to pose as her ghoul. Can she wrestle the bacula from a powerful, crazy woman AND save Ian from certain death also known as vampire politics?

Hellbent is the second installment of Cherie Priest's Cheshire Red series and proves to be just as good as the first one. Raylene is a unique protagonist. Her narrative is colored by her humor and her interesting view of the world. Underneath her veneer of being a perfect, hard as nails thief, she's actually quite human. Her collection of strays betrays her loneliness and need for other people. She really cares about her makeshift family and, although they sometimes drive her crazy, she will do anything in her power to keep them safe. One of the cutest scenes in the book was when Raylene found a kitten at a murder scene and couldn't just leave it there where it would probably die. I found the scene endearing and cute. She is painfully OCD at times, obsessively overpreparing for every conceivable situation and loading up on extra equipment just in case. Although she goes overboard, her OCD is one of the reasons why she's still alive. Her vampiric powers aren't unrealistic or godlike. They just make her tougher and faster than a human with weak psychic powers. More of her regenerative powers and psychic connection to those who drink her blood are explored.

The other characters are just as engaging. What's not to like about a drag queen who was also a Navy SEAL? Hellbent gives Raylene and her friends added depth and more background. Raylene's past involvement with a House is discovered as well as Ian's vampire family and more details about Adrian. Their three story lines come together in unexpected ways that kept me guessing. The plot is very twisty and it would go in completely different directions than I predicted, which is refreshing. The story is funny, fast paced, suspenseful, and fun. Romance is only hinted and doesn't overpower or interrupt the action as it does in fantasy so often. I hope Raylene eventually has a relationship with someone, but the issues at hand are a little bit more important.

Hellbent is a really fun paranormal read that combines mystery, humor, action, and fantasy. I can't wait for the next book in the Chesire Red series!

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Book Chat: Creepy Covers

Misty at The Book Rat shared some of her creepy covers, so I decided to share some of mine. If you'd like to share yours, please link it to Misty's page.

1) Alchemy of Stone by Ekaterina Sedia

I love this creepy cover from the sepia tone to the girl's hidden eyes and exposed heart. The story is science fiction, but the surrealist cover makes it seem much darker. The book was reprinted recently and I think the new cover is equally creepy and a little more beautiful. She looks like a dejected, broken doll and provides a stark contrast to the nature around her. The eye in the crows mouth is especially disturbing.

2) Dust and Decay by Jonathan Maberry

This cover is really what drew me into the series. The scream depicted seems so powerful, yet so futile. I can practically hear it. The pop of lipstick color in an otherwise monochromatic cover is genius. I hope the interior lives up to the awesome cover.

3) the ARC cover of Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

This cover is so much better than the finished copy's and even has a little more to do with the actual story than the other one. When my sister practically shoved the book into my hand, the cover really intrigued me. The half zombified face actually looks weirdly beautiful and hints more about the horrors inside.

4) The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

The cover depicts a gut human reaction: to cover our eyes when we see something that scares us, but also the sick fascination we have to keep watching through our fingers. It's a powerful cover and portrays what anyone would feel during a zombie apocalypse.

What about you guys? Any favorite creepy covers?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Winner of Ashes!

The winner of the ARC of Ashes is........


Keep an eye out for the results of the 2 other giveaways. :)

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Mara Dyer woke up in the hospital with no memory of why she would be there. She was in a terrible accident with her boyfriend and her two best friends and she was the only survivor. What's also strange is that despite the severity of the accident, she only had a few scrapes and bruises. After she had physically recovered, she still suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and experienced hallucinations of her dead friends. To escape her memories, she and her family moved from her home in Rhode Island to start fresh in Miami, Florida. At her new private school, she met Jamie, the quirky rebellious guy, and Noah, the gorgeous guy with a bad reputation who is drawn to her. She still had problems deciphering what is real and what isn't and when people start to die around her, she doesn't know why. Is it coincidence or something more nefarious at work?

My summary doesn't really do the story justice, but I don't want to give too much away. I was really surprised by The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The cover, although very beautiful, looks like a scene right out of a flowery romantic drama, so that's about what I expected: romance with very little substance or conflict. but the story is much darker and much more interesting. I liked that it dealt with the effects of trauma: memory loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, hallucinations, and regaining memory in bits and pieces. It doesn't seem to be explored a lot in young adult fiction and it's nice to see it as the reality that counteracts the fantastic aspects of the novel. Mara's hallucinations would occur in random places and create this crazy, surreal tableau that she just had to ride out until it was over. For instance, on the first day of school, she walks into the class and sees the building tumbling down around her while her fellow classmates continue with class obliviously. Elements such as this made the story unique.

Most of the characters are engaging and dynamic. Mara is a bit mentally unstable, but her wit, intelligence, and artistic talent are all intact. I felt her artistic ability was underutilized and much more could have been done with it besides sketching her boyfriend. Her point of view proves to be engaging because of her doubt about if what she sees is real or hallucination and her strength to overcome her traumatic past. I also loved her sense of humor which tended to be more vulgar and dark than usual. I really related to it and found her to be refreshingly realistic. Her conversations with Jamie and Noah are particularly funny and are usually laced with fun references. Noah is tolerable as teen love interests go. His character seemed kind of confused between being the promiscuous playboy, the protective/possessive boyfriend, and the earnest, likable guy. I only liked him some of the time and the romance between him and Mara overpowered the dark, supernatural plot during the middle and it didn't return until the end.

Despite the romance interrupting the story, I really liked The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. The mystery, subjectivity of reality, and the supernatural elements kept me reading and it only took me a couple of days to finish this rather lengthy book. The ending completely surprised me and left me craving the sequel.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Chat: Scary Reads

This is in response to Misty's post on The Book Rat. Please join in the conversation! This weeks subject is Scary Reads. I'm a huge fan of horror, ever since I was little. I still read and watch a lot of horror, but much of it doesn't scare me in the least. Here are some that still managed to chill me:

1) The Devouring by Simon Holt

Based on the cover, I expected this to be a typical teen paranormal kind of romancey type of book. I knew it was something different when a horror movie magazine I like reviewed it and gave it a very high rating. I was extremely pleased to read the most nightmarish and terrifying situations that were tailored to the characters' personal fears. The Vours are the creatures that created them possess people and take control of the person's body, leaving them trapped in their worst nightmare. Reggie called the Vours, thinking they were fiction, but rapidly found out they were real. Her younger brother was possessed by the Vours and turned from his sweet self into a murderous, abusive thing that no longer even resembles her brother. I was thoroughly creeped out and it felt like a weird reaction to a teen book, but I hope more teen books push the envelope in this way. The second book in the series wasn't as good as The Devouring, but I have high hopes for the third book, Fearscape.

2) House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

It's hard to describe what House of Leaves is about: The Navidson Record is a book that irrevocably changes people after they read it and Johnny Truant experiences this as a reads the book with the reader. The Navidson Record and Johnny Truant's story are told at the same time, which is odd. It's a great piece of metafiction that also manages to be very creepy. The house from the Navidson Record is just a little bit bigger on the inside than the outside. First it's by a very small amount, but then they find an impossible closet that leads to a hallways that leads into the depths of the house where it seems endless with spiral staircases and interminable corridors. This is where the Navidson family explores, gets lost, and starts to break down mentally. The thing that is does best is play with time with stretching or contracting the space that the words take up and using bizarre typography, colors, and languages at times.. I've only read this book once, but it's always stayed with me because of it's complexity and unique mode of story telling. House of Leaves just got under my skin in weird ways and it's hard to explain. I'll eventually write a full review whenever I reread it.

3) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

American Psycho is the story of Patrick Bateman, who works on Wall Street and lives in luxury. The most trivial things like business cards are the most important thing in his life. He starts to nonchalantly kill prostitutes, friends, homeless people, even a random child. What's horrific about this novel isn't the detailed accounts of torture and murder (although there are no shortage of those and it's no picnic to read through them), but in the society portrayed. Whether his acts of violence are real or imagined (and this is a definite question by the end of the book), he needs them because of the vast void in his vapid, shallow life that is considered to be the best the 80's society has to offer. This is a polarizing text and many people won't like it because they can't get past the violence, but I think it's a very effective, controversial social commentary.

* posted without pictures for now because Blogger is acting stupid. will try to add them tomorrow.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sweet Venom

Grace moves to San Francisco and is eager to start over at her new school. Her life is full of new possibilities, but it’s also a bit scary. It gets a whole lot scarier when she sees mythical creatures that shouldn’t exist and other people don’t even notice. She thinks she might be going crazy until she meets Gretchen, her twin. Gretchen has been fighting mythical creatures and returning them to their realm for four years, ever since she ran away from her abusive parents and learned about her destiny as a descendant of Medusa from her new guardian, . Balancing her monster-slaying and school is hard, but she’s managed to do a pretty good so far. That is until there are more monsters than there are supposed to be and it ceases to be something she can handle. When Grace shows up, she’s torn, but eventually decides to train her to fight. The monsters seem to want to capture or kill them (which is new) and they discover that whoever brings them in dead or alive gets a free pass to live on Earth forever. They also discover there is a third descendent who is completely unaware. Can they make it to her before the monsters do? Together can they somehow banish the creatures permanently?

Sweet Venom is an interesting new take on Greek mythology. The Medusa we know of is a hideous, evil Gorgon that turns people into stone with her gaze. In actuality, Medusa is a guardian of our world against mythical creatures and she was murdered by Perseus because of Athena’s hatred and possible jealousy. Her name even means guardian or protectress, so this alternative mythology has some basis in reality. Medusa has immortal sisters, named Euryale and Stheno, who I haven't heard much about in my mythological education. Through my research, I found out that Medusa and her sisters were turned into monstrous beings by Athena because Medusa was raped by Poseidon in Athena's temple. Athena, outraged by the desecration, bizarrely decided to blame Medusa. In reality, it was probably more because Athena was jealous of Medusa's beauty. This villainous side of Athena is really interesting, but unfortunately isn't explored in this part of the series (which feeds into some of my annoyance with this book). I hope to see more in the next books in the series.

The three descendants of Medusa, Grace, Gretchen, and Greer, are all engaging characters that are completely different from one another. Grace is my favorite because she is a technology enthusiast. She works to make the vital information easier to access and practically impossible to lose by digitizing the dossiers on the different monsters. Grace brings a more analytical and intellectual side to their job. Through her research and general nosiness, she discovers the prophecy about her and her sisters and more details about their immortal ancestors. Gretchen , on the other hand, is more enthusiastic about fighting with her preternatural strength. She's a little more mature and jaded than the other girls because of her past: escaping from abusive parents, living on the streets, and then living without much supervision with her mentor and guardian while nightly fighting mythological baddies. Her sense of realism grounds her sisters and shows them the reality of being a descendant of Medusa that often isn't as easy as they might think. Greer comes in really late in the book. Her life is completely different from her sisters', full of parties, designer clothes, and expensive shoes. The revelation is a rude awakening for her not only because of the undignified fighting ahead, but also because she didn't know she was adopted. She is my least favorite, but she showed potential to become less annoying and vapid by the end.

My biggest problem with Sweet Venom is that there is no real ending. The story line isn't resolved in any way. Most books in series have a few loose ends to make a sequel plausible, but this one just feels incomplete. Other than that, Sweet Venom is a really enjoyable read and one of the most unique mythology based teen books I've read. I'm definitely looking forward to the next installment.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Liesl and Po

Liesl has been kept in the attic of her house ever since her father grew progressively sick and then died. Her stepmother Augusta hates her and keeps her there, feeding her meager meals and rarely allowing her to leave. Liesl draws to pass the time and does little else. Three days after her father's death, she receives two unexpected visitors: a ghost named Po, who is neither a boy nor a girl, and his ghostly pet Bundle, who is neither a dog nor a cat. Po agrees to try to find her father on the other side in exchange for a drawing and discovers that her father wants to go home and only Liesl is left to undertake the journey. Liesl and Po's journey will inevitably intertwine with Will's. He's an apprentice to a cruel alchemist and accidentally mixes up Liesl's father's ashes with the greatest magic ever created. Po and Liesl take this magic and embark on a wonderful and strange journey, with both friends and enemies following them, to take Liesl's father to his proper resting place.

Lauren Oliver opens the book with an explanation of the circumstances that led her to write the book: her best friend died and she wrote the book as way of coping with it. I can definitely see that reflected in the story and I feel that anyone who has lost a loved one can relate to it, not just children. Liesl's situation locked in the attic of her own house is simply miserable and she goes through every robotically without any real excitement. Sunlight has also disappeared, leaving the world cold and gray. The lovely charcoal drawings illustrate this feeling wonderfully. This is a physical representation of Lauren Oliver's own feelings in the months after her friend's death. Liesl and Po's journey to lay her father to rest is symbolic of anyone's personal journey in accepting a death in their lives and saying goodbye to that person. I love that the setting and time period of the book is unspecified, so the reader can imagine it as wherever and whenever they like. Liesl and Po deals with death in a way that doesn't talk down to children and acknowledges that children can (and have to) deal with death in their own lives.

Although the tale is fairly dark, Lauren Oliver tempers it with humor, levity, magic, and unique characters. Liesl, Will, and Po's unlikely friendship is delightful and they have their own very different personalities and states of being. They were all alone in the world and found solace in each other in the grayscale world they live in. Liesl is surprisingly creative and brave for a girl who unquestioningly stayed in the attic for so long. Po is an enigmatic being that seems to become more and more human as he stays in the living world. Will is an abused child and has insecurities as a result, but remains a good, loyal friend to Liesl. The other characters, namely the adults in the story besides Liesl's father, are flat characters that are simply villainous. This aspect gives the story a fairy or folk tale feel that doesn't take away from the story.

I enjoyed Liesl and Po very much and found Lauren Oliver's prose engaging and lyrical. Those who enjoyed Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book or Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events books would enjoy it as well.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Dearly, Departed

In the year 2195, catastrophic events and society rebuilding itself has resulted in New Victoria being height of civilization and technology. Nora Dearly is just out of mourning. Her father died a year ago and she lives with her cold, uncaring aunt, who views the mourning as a social inconvenience and ruined Nora by putting them in great debt over the year her father has been dead. When Nora returns home from school for winter break, her ordered life is disrupted by crazed, flesh-eating zombies trying to kidnap her from her home. She ends up being kidnapped by an opposing faction of more sane, rational zombies who worked with her father. Captain Abraham Griswold AKA Bram, zombie soldier, takes an interest in Nora. At first, she is repulsed and rejects the zombies, no matter how civilized and nice they are. As they get to know each other, Nora and Bram feel an undeniable attraction resulting in an odd, yet sweet romance between the living and the dead. This pales in comparison to the zombie plague running through New Victoria. Can Nora, Bram, and the zombie troops save the city or will it be overrun with zombies?

Dearly, Departed is an unexpected, genre bending adventure. The world is an impressive mixture of dystopia, steampunk, and advanced technology. The world has basically fallen apart and reduced to individual tribes without any sort of centralized government. A certain conservative tribe decided that the Victorian era was far enough in the past that no one had any emotional ties to it and liked the idea of the virtuous, moral society that they decided to adopt it as their own. The resulting situation is Victorian era fashion, sensibilities, and social constructs coupled with futuristic technology. New Victoria isn't the only tribe out there. The Punks are an opposing faction that abhors New Victoria and things they are making the same mistakes that led to the original destruction of society: a hierarchical model and a reliance on technology. The Punks promote basic technology that man is in control of: nothing digital and nothing that creates a false reality. I really like that the main society does have a backlash movement against it, but these two deign to cooperate when their very lives are at stake.

In accordance with the New Victorian society, women are oppressed and can only succeed in limited fields if they navigate through the shark-infested waters of society by upholding ridiculous social constructs and customs. The two main female characters, Nora and Pamela, both have interests and attitudes outside of the realm of what is acceptable for their gender. I enjoyed seeing them just as frustrated as me when they were shunned or disapproved of for frivolous reasons and I relished with them when they overthrew the niceties of society when the situation became so dire that what people would think was the last thing on their minds.

The zombies are a little different than the zombies you may be used to seeing, but no less awesome. A prion is the culprit and it's transmitted through bodily fluids, which of course includes biting. There are two types of zombies that result from infection: the mindless, ravenous zombies and coherent, sentient zombies. The sentient ones are just regular people who have the minor misfortune of being dead and the inconvenience of decomposing. The zombie soldiers are easily patched up when injured and take injections to further preserve them, but they will all eventually succumb to being a ravenous zombie when the prion destroys their brains. I like the new mode of infection and the logical reasons for two types of zombies.

Dearly, Departed is a wonderful read that would appeal to a wide variety of readers. It has romance, adventure, zombies, action, science, and war. The only thing I didn't like about the novel was that the world building took a while and a lot was told to us rather than shown. Since the world has already been established, I predict that the second book will be even better as I eagerly await it.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Dearly, Departed will be released on 10/18. Check it out here.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Frightful Fall Read-a-thon: Wrap-up

I had so much fun with the Frightful Fall Read-a-thon. The mini-challenges were super fun and I got a lot of much needed reading done. Here are my final stats:

* Marquis of O: 30 pages

* Dearly, Departed: 471 pages

* The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: 452 pages

* Cold Kiss: 292 pages

* Hellbent: 122 pages

* total books finished: 3

* total pages read: 1,367

Reviews of these books should be going up within the next week or so. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Frightful Fall Read-a-thon Mini-Challenge: Urban Girl Reader

More mini-challenges! This one comes from Urban Girl Reader and she asks for a fake summary of the next book in the series of a horror novel. Since I haven't started it yet (and I would be way to tempted to post spoilers about the books I've read), I will choose the sequel to Hellbent by Cherie Priest:

Raylene, cat burglar vampire, is hired by an unknown source to steal the Necronomicon that inspired H.P. Lovecraft to write all of his horror stories. It started off as a normal smash and grab situation, but quickly descended into running for her life territory after the owner of said book sicced an unspeakable and tentaclely horror after her. Barely escaping with her life and the book (yay!), Raylene keeps the book at her house overnight to recuperate from her adventure, only to have a crazy group of cultist steal the book and firebomb her house. Will she be able to get the Necronomicon back unscathed? What will the cultists invoke with this powerful book? Can Raylene just get this job done and so she can relax?

* The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer: 374 pages Finished!
* Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey: 130 pages

Total pages for today: 504
Total books finished: 2
Total pages read: 1,083

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Frightful Fall Read-a-thon Mini-Challenge: My Book Retreat

Another mini-challenge! This one is from My Book Retreat and the task is to identify a character and what book their in, choose a costume for them with a rationale for why, and provide a picture of the costume.

The character I chose is the dashing Captain Abraham Griswold AKA Bram from Lia Habel's Dearly, Departed. The best costume for him would be a zombie. He is a zombie, so he would just splash some fake blood on his mouth, wear some ragged clothes, and shuffle around a little more than normal. It provides Bram a way to blend in with living people without attracting unwanted attention, namely screams, stares, and people running away. Plus it would give Nora Dearly and his zombie friends some amusement. Here is what he would look like in his zombie costume:

* photo from ~uncherished at deviantArt


My progress for the last 2 days:

* Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel: 276 pages Finished!
* The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin: 78 pages

Total for whole read-a-thon: 579 pages

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Frightful Fall Read-a-thon Mini-Challenge: Knitting and Sundries

Yay mini-challenges! This one challenges me to create a creepy sentence out of book titles, so here's mine:

We feed the living dead forever in the house of leaves. (of course it had to have zombies in it!)


Now for my progress so far!

* Dearly Departed by Lia Habel: 195 pages
* The Marquise von O (novella) by Henrich Kleist: 30 pages

total pages: 225

Monday, October 3, 2011

Frightful Fall Read-a-thon 2011

I love read-a-thons, especially when I've let books pile up more than usual with due dates loomy creepily close. This one is hosted by Castle Macabre. The only requirement for this event is that at least 1 book read is horror related, which is no problem for me. Here is what I intend to read over the next week:

* Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

* The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

* Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

* Hellbent by Cherie Priest

We'll see if I get through those and worry about the rest later. The event runs from October 2 to October 6, which gives me lots of time to participate and I don't feel pressured. It's going to be fun, so sign up here if you're interested.

Friday, September 30, 2011

September Zombies: The End...For Now

Well, September Zombies is sadly over...for now. I will work to try to make next year's September Zombies bigger and better and a little bit more organized. I hope you all had lots of zombilicious fun because I did! There will still be periodic zombie sightings here, so you don't have to go through zombie withdrawals or anything like that.

I would like to thank Velvet at vvb32 Reads for creating the September Zombies and inviting me to be a part of it. I would also like to thank all the wonderful bloggers and readers that participated and made the event really fun.

For the next month or so, I will be participating in whatever is going on at The Book Rat for Helluva Halloween III, All Hallow's Eve at Book Chick City, and, more immediately, a read-a-thon from October 3 to October 9 at Castle Macabre.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Zombie Songs 3

More zombie songs to shuffle around and nom brains to!

1) Wake the Dead by The Used

This rock song is deliciously creepy and high energy with heavy guitars and drums. I like that there is just a dash of scream-o added for flavor. It really gives the song a little more anguish and anger.

2) Blood Red Summer by Coheed and Cambria

Although the title of the song is awesome, it's actually the video that is zombie themed. At the beginning of the video, they set traps, fortify their cabin, and keep watch. The rest of the band gets turned into zombies while the lead singer is left all alone, waiting for his zombified band mates to come and eat him. It's actually pretty light hearted for a zombie video.

3) Thriller/Heads Will Roll Mash-up by the Glee cast

I know it's a little cheesy and they tend to autotune the crap out of everyone's voice, but I really like this mash-up of Michael Jackson's Thriller and The Yeah Yeah Yeah's Heads Will Roll. The 2 songs really work well together and I love seeing the Glee cast in zombie makeup. The choreography (that's actually different from the very famous Thriller dance) and spooky football field are awesome. I hope it made a lot of people look up the 2 original songs and enjoy them in their own right. PS they need to give Santana more solos because her voice fucking rocks.

4) The Zombie Love Song by Jonathan Chan

This is seriously the most adorable zombie song ever. It captures images of beautiful zombie love. The ending is kinda gross, but still manages to be cute. :)

Any zombie tunes you guys enjoy? Share them please!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Zombies in Art 3

Last edition of zombies in art!

1) Zombies by KAL1MAR1

A classic face nomming picture with very realistic special effects.

The Battle of Yonkers is one of the most memorable scenes of Max Brooks

' World War Z. It was a disastrous and horrible battle between the US military and the undead which is beautifully rendered in this work of art.

3) Zombie by ~uncherished

I have seen this photo all over the internet and I'm glad I finally found the original source. It's such a simple imagine, but very powerful and well put together.

This photo is a very cute, 50's style photo. It's a homage to the film Fido (which you should totally see if you haven't) about a 50's zombie apocalypse situation where zombies have been enslaved to do menial tasks. A romance develops between a neglected housewife and her zombie butler, Fido.