Friday, December 28, 2012


Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret. Everyone in school knows it. She's cute and best friends with one of the most popular girls in school, Kristen. Automatically cool and popular by association, Chelsea takes full advantage of her status and tries to keep Kristen happy even if it means belittling herself a bit. During a party, Chelsea sees something shocking and immediately tells the popular crowd. Some guys take it upon themselves to attack the person involved as a result. She tells the police and the guilty party is in the process of being punished, but Chelsea now faces ridicule and hate at every turn. Her classmates either hate her for telling the secret in the first place and generally being a blabbermouth or for getting star athletes arrested. Chelsea takes a vow of silence because she hurt so many people with her words. It's hard to stay silent when constantly attacked, but she makes some surprising new friends and finds out about who she is and who she wants to be.

Speechless is a good contemporary teen book about making mistakes and having the courage to do what you like and be yourself. I really enjoyed seeing Chelsea's journey throughout the novel, but she starts off as pretty terrible. She tells everyone's secrets to her best friend Kristen and then figures out how to make it work the most in their favor, either through blackmail or by spreading the secret to everyone at school. When she takes her vow of silence and all her friends abandon her, it becomes apparent that she really doesn't know who she is. The person she pretended to be took over her whole life, causing her to wear clothes she didn't like, do things she hated, and mold herself to another's liking. With no one to care or impress, she struggles to find out who she really is underneath it all. Her vow of silence allows her to view the world in a vastly different way than she did before. She sees the effect of words and experiences first hand how words can really hurt people. I like that this is bullying from the perspective of the bully because this is rarely seen in teen books.

One aspect I really liked was portraying the toxic relationship between Chelsea and Kristen. The friendship was always completely one sided with Kristen being the most important person while Chelsea accepts that she isn't good enough as herself and changes in accordance to Kristen's whims. I have personally been in two of such relationships that started normally enough, but ended this way. I don't see this type of relationship portrayed in teen books very often and it hit home for me. Chelsea's classmates' behavior just blew my mind. Two star athletes were arrested because of their own actions, but Chelsea's testimony was integral to catching them. They blamed Chelsea for the whole situation instead of those boys for acting heinously. That mentality is crazy to me, but unfortunately not unrealistic.

Speechless is a moving contemporary read that feels honest and realistic. The writing made me breeze through it easily, but the subject matter and emotions proved to make it more profound than a fluffy read. I would definitely read more books by Hannah Harrington.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry slightly late Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you lovely people out there. I hope you all have an awesome holiday with the ones you love. I have been super lazy and not writing anything, so hopefully after the holidays die down a bit, I will be posting more about music, movies, my own crazy thoughts. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012


Camille is part of one of seven the most powerful and wealthy Families that rule over New Haven. It wasn't always that way. She was found when she was 6 years old, cold, mute, abused, scarred, and injured in the snow. The Vultisino, the leader of this particular Family, adopted her as his own daughter. Cami is now sixteen and no longer mute, although she still has a stutter that makes it difficult for her to speak. She goes to school, has two friends: Ruby and Ellie, and grew up a pampered heiress. Her life is enviable, but she knows she doesn't really belong there. She has no idea who she was before age 6, what her real name is, or when her real birthday is. She doesn't really belong with her Family or with her friends. The plot thickens when Tor, a mysterious boy who works in the garden, has the same scars as her. He is the first clue she's had to unlocking the secrets of her past, but maybe some secrets are best left alone.

Nameless is a very unique fairy tale retelling that has its own alternate version of our world. Lili St. Crow just throws us into the deep end of her world, with offhand mentions of bizarre things such as Twists, minotaurs, Family, charmers, and mere-humans. It's quite disorienting and confusing at first, but as the book goes on, things are subtly explained and the picture becomes clear. This world is a magical alternative universe that broke away from our world just after World War I, which is widely known as the Reeve or magic revolution. In 1920, the Deprescence hit. The country and farm land turned into the Waste and money couldn't save people from mutating into jacks or Twists or eaten by some nasty creature. I love the alternative reality and history of the world and how it shares similarities with our own world, but manages to be so different. I also loved the small fairy tale references, like how Ruby lives on Perrault Street, named after Charles Perrault, the French author who wrote his own versions of folk tales. I haven't seen a world that integrated many fairy tales and magic into it work so well since Bill Willingham's Fables.

The characters are just as strong as the world building. Cami, although timid and soft spoken, is a strong, smart character. She has been through a lot in her life and has the scars to prove it. Unlike a lot of other YA protagonists, Cami isn't self pitying or annoying, although the potential to be so was there. She just wants to know where she truly belongs, where she came from, and who her real family is. It's completely understandable to want to know those things and feel like an outsider if these questions aren't answered. She ventures into danger sometimes, but with a real decision to do so instead of stumbling into it obliviously. I think her self awareness and strength to make decisions like that, even if I disagree with it, make Cami one of my favorite YA protagonists. Nico is the other character that really surprised me. For much of the book, he's the stereotypical vampire badboy that are pretty popular in fiction recently. He leaves Cami often to party with his friends and holds a lot of anger at the world. Underneath it all, he truly cares for Cami and uses that anger as a shield. I was relieved to see a real, complex character rather than the abusive, annoying shells that are usually written about.

Nameless is one of the best Snow White retellings I've ever read. It has it all: twists and turns, mystery, alternative reality and history, magic, love, and self discovery. I highly recommend this to fans of fairy tale reimaginings and dark fantasy.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I am officially done with school for this semester so I can actually start posting here again! So much relief and no school until the end of January!! :D

Friday, November 30, 2012

The Cranes Dance

Kate Crane is by herself for the first time ever. Her constant companion and sister Gwen is back home, recovering from a self inflicted injury and an undiagnosed mental illness. Her boyfriend just broke up with her and she now lives in her sister's apartment. She has plenty to occupy her time as a soloist in a New York ballet company. She has rehearsals, performances, and classes to fill her time, but even though her sister isn't there, she constantly lives in her shadow. Gwen surpassed her in the company and Kate now wears the costumes she would wear and essentially lives Gwen's leftover life. Through flashback and inner dialog, we get to know Kate and see her journey during the months of her sister's recovery.

I am a sucker for all things involving ballet. I find it infinitely interesting because of the physical demands, the ability, the dedication, and the grace involved to really be successful. Plus the music is phenomenal. The Cranes Dance is an interesting look into the world of top tier dancers with a decent into madness similar to the film Black Swan. I enjoyed the dancing aspects of the book. The descriptions of dancing gestures, conventions, and the plot of Swan Lake at the beginning of the novel are hilarious. I laughed out loud a lot, much to the interest of the random people around me at school. I loved learning the French technical terms and the descriptions of the dance. I honestly wish there was a little more detail about Kate's performances later in the novel. As the novel goes on, they get a little glossed over, but her mental state is more important then. The schedule these dancers adhere to is insane with practice and classes every day, rehearsals, performances, in addition to trying to have some semblance of a social life. I also never really thought about the physical toll of a high level of dance and the short careers of top ballet dancers.

Kate is an interesting character because she never tries to hide her insecurities or her crazy or petty thoughts. I actually really liked her because of her honesty and sense of humor. She lives within the shadow of her absent sister and, even though she isn't present for most of the book, Gwen has a marked presence. Kate wears Gwen's clothes, sleeps in her bed, plays the roles she would have played, and the list goes on. It's no wonder that she becomes obsessed with comparing herself to her sister and their past. They have a toxic relationship where Gwen falls apart and Kate covers it up and picks up the pieces. Kate is jealous of Gwen's dancing ability despite her mental illness. She has to come to terms with the reasons why she called her parents about Gwen's behavior. They may be more selfish than she is willing to admit. Over the course of the book, Kate injures her neck, becomes addicted to Vicodin, and suffers a mental decline throughout the novel. The mental part kind of sneaks up on her because she doesn't acknowledge her addiction or the things that really bother her. She struggles to appear completely happy and normal to those around her, even when they offer her help.

The Cranes Dance is a dark, funny, and honest book written by a former dancer Meg Howrey. She integrates her knowledge of dance very well and gives the novel a dose of realism. I found myself staying up late and forgetting to do other things to finish this book. I highly recommend it to fans of Black Swan and ballet dancing in general.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, November 29, 2012


In the English town Sorry-in-the-Vale, Kami Glass has heard a boy's voice in her head her entire life. His name is Jared and they share everything with each other. Having silent conversations all the time does not do wonders for the social life, so Kami is largely considered strange and someone to be avoided except for to her best friend Angela, a beautiful misanthrope. Together (more reluctantly on Angela's part, they create a school paper. While setting everything up, a newcomer named Ash Lynburn offers to join the paper. He and his family are famous historically and have come back after years and years of living in America, much to the chagrin of much of Sorry-in-the-Vale's citizens. Two strange things have happened since the Lynburns have returned: animals have been brutally murdered in the woods near Kami's house and Ash's cousin Jared seems very similar to the Jared who speaks to her in her head. Kami vows to use her intrepid reporter skills to solve these two mysteries, but she has no idea how it will change her life and the very town she lives in.

Sarah Rees Brennan is one of my favorite authors due to her great writing, boisterous personality, and general hilarity. Unspoken is one of the best books I've read in a while. The characters are all fully realized and diverse. Kami is a fun and interesting character. She isn't a shrinking violet or incredibly passive like so many romantic YA novels. Intelligent and insatiably curious, Kami investigates the animal murders and tries to learn as much as she can about her connection with Jared. Jared isn't the typical bad boy. Sure, he gets in trouble and has issues, but he never treats Kami badly or does anything truly horrific. Even the love triangle here isn't terrible. I have grown to truly hate them since it seems to be a lazy authors way to make the girl desirable and interesting AND one of the male characters is completely ruined to make the choice between the two clear. Ash and Jared are very different and have their own appeal, but the book is really about Kami and Jared and how they can cope with having any sort of real relationship. The minor characters are all interesting and add their own varied personalities to the story. My favorites are Kami's best friend Angela and her self defense enthusiast brother.

I love the concept of the story with two people that can communicate and hear what they other is thinking at all times. When these two people meet, things get weird. They know just about everything about each other: their petty, horrible thoughts, secret desires, and a multitude of other things they would never want anyone else to know. They also can't sand to physically be around each other. Any other author would have the two characters instantly fall into a romantic relationship where they are soul mates that are meant to be together and everything is perfect. (I would hate the crap out of that book because it's a carbon copy of all other paranormal romances out there.) Brennan takes a completely different route and shows how many problems would realistically arise in a situation like this. No one wants a significant other that can read their every thought. We all have horrible, hurtful thoughts we don't really mean and thoughts just not meant for public consumption. This situation would be disastrous for any sort of relationship. Kami and Jared have no idea if their feelings are real since they can feel everything the other feels. They also have no capacity at all for what it's like to be truly alone and independent. This relationship is problematic at best and they don't really know what they are to each other when face to face. I love that Brennan doesn't take the easy way out and explores the problems and facets of this unique relationship.

Unspoken is an amazing novel that I had to finish. The twists and turns in the story are considerable and surprised me. Brennan's writing is just delightful and I can't get enough of her quick witted humor. The love triangle and the bond between Jared and Kami could have been really badly handled, but she subverts my expectations and makes them new and interesting.The ending ripped my heart out a little, but it was necessary. I don't know why everyone is calling it a cliff hanger. It's really not, but it does make you want to know what happens in the next book, which I will definitely be reading. Highly recommended for fantasy fans not afraid of some humor.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! Pumpkin pie is my one of favorite things about this holiday, mostly because I hate turkey. My other favorite thing is spending time with my brother and his girlfriend and stuffing myself with delicious food while we watch Home for the Holidays. I hope every one of you has a fantastic day with friends or family and lots of fattening foods. Love you all!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Lex's life has completely changed. Not only is she a Grim that helps bring souls to the Afterlife, but her life has turned upside down with the betrayal of Zara, the Culling of her power to Damn, and the death of her twin sister Cordy. When she returns to Croak, her welcome is less than warm. Most of the Seniors and residents hate the Juniors and especially Lex, blaming her for Zara's crimes and the following mayhem. As Zara's attacks get more frequent and the inhabitants of Croak get more hostile, Lex, Driggs, and her fellow Juniors flee to DeMyse, Las Vegas on crack and another Grim city to regroup and follow the clues to the Wrong Book, which may hold the key in beating Zara. Hopefully she can stop Zara before she Damns her closest friends and family.

Scorch starts up shortly after Croak left off with the wake of rage and guilt that Lex feels over the death of her sister and her unintentional complicity with Zara. This book is much darker than its predecessor and is in short supply of its fun and lightness. However, that happy go lucky element is replaced by character development, plot twists, deepening relationships, and even deaths. There are some truly heartwrenching moments here that just pull at my heartstrings, which I didn't really expect. The snappy, clever dialog is here again, but toned down because of the dark and serious tone of the novel. I still laughed out loud at certain moments and I love how sharp and quick-witted Lex is.

The characters are fully realized and just awesome. Lex is deeply conflicted and guilt ridden while she struggles to solve her problems. Her relationship with Driggs deepens and intensifies as they support each other for all the bad times. I love their relationship and their silly banter even in the most dire of situations. They are the glimmer of hope in all the horrible things that happen. Uncle Mort is much better than in the last book where he was fairly forgettable except for being odd. There is a method to his madness and he shows he knows much more than he lets on. New characters Pip and Bang are dynamic and interesting, proving to be needed and wonderful additions to the novel.

There are a few things that bother me and make the novel a little less than perfect. The actions of characters are weird and the resolutions just don't seem to measure up to the epic lead up. The villains, as much as I love to hate them, are pretty one dimensional and flat. This makes it easy to hate them, but could be written a little better. Other than these few problems, I love Scorch and the unique world Gina Damico has created. I eagerly await the third installment.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Gemma has abandoned her family to run off with sirens Penn, Lexie, and Thea in order to keep her family safe and stay alive. She wants nothing to do with them, but doesn't want to put her family in danger. Avowed to punish herself, Gemma refuses to give in to her siren desires and becomes weak and starved. Her deep and strong urges become harder to ignore as she becomes more and more weak. Over time, she changes from the girl she was at home, hard at work and innocent. Harper is frantic to find Gemma and take care of her father. She picks up the pieces Gemma left behind: Alex, her and Gemma's dad, and dealing with the death of a close family friend. If Harper finds her, will Gemma still be the same girl that left? Or has she changed drastically because of the evil nature of the mythological creature she is now?

Wake, the first book in the series, was ok, but it definitely had its flaws. Lullaby is a slight improvement. Gemma is slightly less annoying. The first book had her acting quite childishly and annoying, making me relate to her more mature sister Harper. This installment has her coming to grips with her new state as a siren and trying to abstain from the pleasurable aspects and the more monstrous aspects of siren nature. She pushes the limits of what her body can take to keep her sense of morality, even if her nature tends towards evil. The other sirens are more fleshed out than the last book. Penn views humans as toys to be used and discarded or as food. She is incredibly manipulative, jealous, and vindictive. Lexie proves to be the nicest, extending advice and help to Gemma. I find her the most interesting because despite her evil nature, she manages to still be good, giving some shades of grey to the previously black and white world. Harper is an awesome character, even if she isn't mystical or mythical. She stays home to pick up the pieces Gemma left behind and works relentlessly to find Gemma. The only annoying thing is that she keeps trying to push Daniel away because of what she perceives to be what is right. I'm fairly certain they will end up together, so this predictable back and forth is unnecessary.

I really enjoyed the horror aspects of this book. For a romantic and mythical story, there is a surprising amount of blood and gore. I would have thought this would put the target audience off, but the reception for the first book was pretty positive The stilted conversations that annoyed me in the first novel are much improved here. They flow more naturally and made the book more engaging and made me want to read it. There was one point in the book where the the characters act without thinking about the ramifications and then just sit around doing nothing. Very frustrating, but it was the only glaring flaw in an otherwise enjoyable narrative.

Lullaby is a decided improvement over Wake. I enjoyed the story and the deeper, more complex characters.  I am interested to see what happens in the next book, Tidal.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Cover Reveal: Heaven Sent by E. Van Lowe

Here is the beautiful and awesome cover for the latest book in E. Van Lowe's Boyfriend from Hell series, Heaven Sent!


What Does It All Mean?

Readers who devoured Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel will be captivated by the third book in the Falling Angels Saga.

As summer break for Glendale Union high begins, heartsick Megan awaits Guy's return while struggling to control her emerging abilities.  Love is in the air, but can the new loves in Megan, Maudrina, Suze and Aunt' Jaz's life be trusted? Nothing is what it seems.  Meanwhile, the Satanists are set to hatch their most diabolical scheme ever, and if it comes to pass, Satan may finally win out.

Megan has precious little time to unravel the cryptic message hidden in the riddle she received at the end of Earth Angel. If she doesn’t, the life of someone most dear to her will be lost forever, and Megan may yet find herself living in HELL.

“The third book in E. Van Lowe’s Falling Angels Saga is his most thrilling yet.”

The color scheme is great and it fits in nicely with the other beautiful covers. Keep an eye out for it in 2013 and in the meantime, get the first two in the series!

Saturday, November 10, 2012


Gemma is a star swimmer at her school on the fast track to the Olympics in a few years. She works hard and  devotes herself to her sport during the day and goes leisure swimming at night in the bay despite her sister Harper's warning that it's dangerous. The boy next door Alex is seen through new eyes and she falls for him as he falls for her. Everything is just about perfect until three very beautiful and creepy girls come into Gemma's life. Penn, Lexie, and Thea are eerily beautiful and rumors surround them everywhere they go. They take an interest in Gemma, but their dark nature and demanding attitudes put Gemma off until they force her to drink from a flask and throw her into the ocean wrapped in a golden shawl. Afterwards, Gemma feels weird and becomes faster, stronger, and more beautiful over night. She needs to find out what those girls did to her and how she has changed.

I was not a fan of Amanda Hocking's Trylle series, so I was a little hesitant to start this series. The writing improved. Even when I saw the flaws in the book, the writing kept me interested and focused on the story. Some of the characters are pretty well developed. Gemma is a great character for the most part. She's driven and smart, but her relationship with Alex seems a little too perfect. I love Harper, Gemma's older sister. She became a mother to Gemma at a young age because their mom suffered brain damage after an accident. I related more to her and liked her more because of her selflessness and ability to put her father and Gemma's needs before her own, even at the expense of her own childhood. The siren aspect is interesting and not entirely expected. They proved to be more violent and gory then expected. There are also many flaws with them.

Penn, Lexie, and Thea are mythological creatures who foolishly pissed off gods and have to suffer the consequences for eternity. Unfortunately, they are flat villain characters with no redeeming qualities. They have no facets and are simply evil, selfish, manipulative beings. I grew bored with them through the course of the book. They also have an extra stage of transformation beyond their finned form and I found it to be quite ridiculous. I get that both forms are present in mythology, but choose one or the other. Gemma is super annoying and selfish at times. She acted as one much younger than 16. Most of the plot points are pretty predicatable. The dialog is often stiff and unnatural. There are some huge passages of introspective inner dialog that could be shortened a lot and it just serves to spoon feed the reader motivations of the characters. Some of the writing is ham handed, but the main characters are much improved.

I had some major problems with this book, but it proved to be more enjoyable than her previous series. I will be continuing the series.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!!!!

It's Halloween!!!!! My very favorite holiday is finally here!! Stay safe and have fun!

I won't be posting anything for a little while. I'm super swamped with work, but more reviews and fun later!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Winners of September Zombies Giveaways!

Sorry it's a little late, here are the results for the September Zombies Giveaway! The following are winners of awesome zombie books!

Wrighty wins This is Not a Test!

MAD wins Dearly, Beloved!

PuttPutt1198Eve wins the big prize pack of zombies!

Congrats to the winners. I will be contacting you today to get addresses and such. Keep an eye out for more giveaways soon!

Friday, October 26, 2012

God Save the Queen

It's 2012 and Queen Victoria still rules England with an iron fist due to the mix of disease and genetics that  creates vampires. Only aristocrats can be vampires, half-vampires, or goblins due to their genetics and experience extremely long lives, a stronger constitution, inhuman strength and sense, an abhorrence to light, the list goes on. Xandra Vardan is a halvie and a member of the prestigious Royal Guard. She has set records in her schooling using her exceptional strength and speed and believes wholeheartedly that the aristocrats need their protection against the treacherous, vermin-like humans. Then her sister dies, but she knows that her sister has really gone missing. Her quest to find her sister plunges her into a plot that will turn her world upside down.

 God Save the Queen is a unique steampunk novel in that it takes place in an alternate present day where Queen Victoria is still alive. This idea results in a world wherea version modern day technology is meshed with Victorian fashion, style, sensibility, and mentality. Both fashion and technology are permanently stunted because the country is led by one really old woman who knows what she likes. There are some changes and advances, but are much more slow moving because the aristocracy is basically immortal. Women are still wearing bustles, corsets, and the like. Hysteria is a common diagnosis for female behavior. Cell phones and computers exist, but not in the same way they do now. It just feels less developed and more clunky, like modern technology through a steampunk lens. Cylinders are used to store audio and video files and cell phones still have rotary dials. Science has also progressed and plays a large role in the novel.  Historical figures from the past 175 years are still walking around and looking pretty good for their age, like Winston Churchill. The only thing I think is out of place is the acceptance of homosexual relationships. It's not even fully accepted currently, so I don't think a stunted, decidedly old world would fare any better.

Another aspect of the society I love is the disease. The plague mixed with the aristocratic genetics creates either vampires, half vampires, or goblins. (The same is true for werewolves.) The plague mixed with run of the mill commoner genes results in death. Upward mobility is now impossible for humans because of their genes. This clear distinction and huge difference between classes makes tensions run extremely high. The Great Insurrection of 1932 made matters worse when humans tried to overthrow and eradicate the aristocracy, but they failed, leaving both factions bitter and angry. Both are typically prejudiced of each other except for an underground faction where a few can work together. I love this system. It makes for great political intrigue and just a fascinating new world.

The characters are pretty awesome. Xandra is a hot head and throws herself wholeheartedly into everything she does. This fiery red head is strong and completely prejudiced against humans. She loves her family and will fight to the end for any them. Her sense of justice and familial fealty are huge parts of her character and change over time. I love seeing this world through her eyes. Throughout the novel, her prejudices and preconceptions change as she sees the truth. I honestly can't get enough of her humor and sarcasm. Vex is her lover and the leader of the werewolves. Werewolves are usually awful and obnoxiously alpha male and abusive. Vex is the opposite. He's quite sweet and the romance between him and Xandra is both steamy and tender. He manages to be protective and strong without being condescending or overbearing. He is the best male interest I have seen in a while.

I can't get enough of this vibrant world that merges the present day with the Victorian era. I like that science and technology can be an integral part of a magical fantasy world, showing that science fiction and fantasy can support each other and produce amazing results. In a growing genre, God Save the Queen manages to stand out in the crowd of steampunk. The only flaw is the beginning takes a little while to gain momentum. There is a little too much time before anything really happens. I eagerly await the next installment of the series.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Velveteen Monroe is dead. At sixteen, she was killed by a serial killer called Bonesaw after being kidnapped and tortured. Now, she resides in the City of the Dead, or as it's usually known, Purgatory. Something holds her back from moving on, so she becomes part of a squadron that saves captured souls used for magic that create devastating shadowquakes in the City of the Dead. They cause cracks throughout Purgatory. In her spare time, Velvet visits her killer and haunts him, destroying his stuff and freeing his other victims. Her ultimate wish is to kill him and make him pay for his disgusting crimes, but unsanctioned hauntings are against the rules and those caught are harshly punished. Aside from all of this, a faction of citizens that are calling for a Departure from the City of the Dead starting with burning effigies and quickly escalating. How they expect to accomplish this is unknown, but Velvet must stop them to save Purgatory.

Based on the description of the novel, I was expecting a book about a ghost girl getting revenge on a serial killer, which would be pretty cool. What I got with Velveteen was so much more. Daniel Marks' view of Purgatory is the most unique I've ever read. It's dull, dusty, and decaying, made up of a hodgepodge of different architectural movements. Everyone there has a job to do, whether it be fighting to free trapped souls like Velvet or something more mundane. They are productive and make a real life for themselves instead of marking time until they cross over. Even though no one really wants to be there, there is a nice sense of camaraderie between the residents. Every night, they gather for salon to perform and to share their stories with each other. Everyone is forced to be there and has something that they need to do or overcome in order to move on to the unknown. It is also interesting to see old souls in young bodies. Some people died young, but have been there for a very long time, making their level of maturity and mental age not equal to their appearance.

Velvet is a pretty cool character who is strong, no nonsense, and isn't afraid to take leadership.I like how intelligent and sensitive she is despite her hard, sarcastic outer shell. She feels an immediate attraction to Nick, but recognizes it as such and tries to push him away. I like a girl that can recognize the difference between attraction/lust and love. I also like a girl that stands up to her killer and tries to sabotage him at every turn. I do wish there was more about the serial killer because I find them morbidly fascinating. Nick is a far cry from the alpha male jerks that have become so prevalent in the genre. His vulnerability is the first thing we see because he has to come to terms with the fact the he was killed and is stuck in purgatory after he was trapped in a crystal ball. He keeps it together pretty well because he's strong and tempers his anxiety and fear with humor, but he still shows emotion and freaks out a little. This type of male love interest is so enjoyable because not all guys are borderline abusive and emotionless. Men have emotions even though society tends to mock those that don't act or think like a "manly" man should.

I love Velveteen. Although pretty long, I breezed through it in a couple days. I was totally sucked into this cool and twisted version of Purgatory. Each page that went by was more addictive than the last and I felt compelled to finish it as fast as possible. I enjoyed being confused for a couple of parts in the novel. Daniel Marks just throws the reader into the deep end of his world and doesn't spell everything out for them. I respect an author that trusts that I as a reader don't need every little thing fed to me. I am definitely reading the next book and anything else Daniel Marks writes.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Horror Villains Who Adore Classical Music

Continuing in the classical music in horror films vein, I noticed a great many villains of horror love classical music.

1) Lestat de Lioncourt from Interview with the Vampire

Lestat de Lioncourt is a vampire who can read minds. Although not strictly a villain as seen in later books, whiny Louis doesn't like that Lestat kills humans. Lestat is the best character in the film with wit and dark humor, not to mention his love of classical music. He makes Claudia take piano lessons even when she eats her teachers occasionally. When he returns from the near death, he accompanies his dramatic appearance with Joseph Haydn's Piano Sonata in Eb major.

2) Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs

Hannibal Lecter, although a cannibal killer, is nothing if not a man of class, sophistication, and distinction. One of his murders that landed him in jail was his reaction to a bad trombone player in the symphony. His unblinking, intense stare and enigmatic nature are what made The Silence of the Lambs so interesting, even though he didn't have a lot of screen time. His musical scene comes when he asks for an extra dinner, exploiting his privileges for helping Clarice Starling with her investigation. His musical selection is the Aria from the Goldberg Variations by Johann Sebastian Bach.The serene look on his bloodsplattered face while he loses himself in the music is an amazing end to the scene, but also very chilling.

3) Annie Wilkes from Misery

At first, Annie Wilkes seems like a sweet, maternal, lonely nurse who loves romance novels. She was nice enough to nurse Paul Sheldon, her favorite author, back to health in her home because it's too dangerous to take him to the hospital. She shows her true colors after she discovers he killed her favorite romance character, Misery, forcing Paul to write a new novel bringing her back to life. Her favorite artist is Liberace and she plays his versions of classical works throughout the film. The following scene, backed by Liberace playing Ludwig van Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata is one of the most iconic and frightening scenes.

4) Ernessa from The Moth Diaries

Ernessa is a cultured, British girl new the all girl's boarding school that Rebecca attends. Rebecca grows more and more jealous and suspicious of Ernessa due to her friend stealing ways and odd habits, like pacing outside at night. The real question is whether Ernessa is a vampire or not arises after Rebecca's best friend Lucie gets more and more sick after spending time with her. One clue towards this suspicion is her ability to play pieces by Frederic Chopin flawlessly and memorized. The specific piece is Nocturne op. 9 no. 1 in Bb minor. The Chopin-esque score also gives a great mood to this atmospheric, feminine film.

Did I miss your favorite classical music-loving villain? Please share below!

The Suburban Strange

Celia Balustine is shy, unsure of herself, and new to Suburban High School. By chance, she meets a girl named Regine, who changes her life. At her new school, Celia is accepted into a small group called the Rosary who all act aloof, listen to music not on top 40 lists, dress in grey and black, and generally set themselves apart from the rest of the school population. Celia conforms to her group and has a good time at school for the first time in years. Then strange things start happening at her school. Every girl with who has a 16th birthday suffers some sort of misfortune on the day before consistently throughout the year. As her own birthday nears, she tries to investigate what is causing it. Could it be her chemistry lab partner Mariette, who seems to have odd, impossible things happen around her? Or is it someone completely hidden?

The Suburban Strange has a gorgeous cover that mixes mediums in a very cool way. Despite its beautiful trappings, the actual story is a mixed bag of good and bad. Let's start with the good. I like a lot of the characters, especially Celia. At first, I thought she was a mindless sheep that just cared about being cool, but as the novel goes on, she becomes a force to be reckoned with. She really comes into her own and becomes comfortable with herself, acting how she thinks she should act instead of how others want her to. Her strength and resolve near the end of the novel serves to support her friends and helps her in the main conflict with the villain. She also has amazing artistic talent, which I am always fascinated to read about because I just draw stick figures. Mariette is probably the strongest character because she always stands on her own. She doesn't conform to other people's views or style and accepts that not everyone will like her. For most of the book, I also liked the Rosary. They are basically pretentious, hipster teens who like 70's and 80's music and act like they are better than everyone else, which I know doesn't sound flattering at all. However, they lead Celia into an exotic world of indie clubs, new music, new literature, new clothes and style, and a new way of viewing the world. Kotecki recreates for me how enchanting things are when they are just discovered and how magical they feel.

There are also a lot of flaws in this book. Tomasi is a tolerable character, but the instalove after knowing each other for like two seconds is ridiculous. The pacing of the book is odd. Long stretches of the book have basically no action at all and are just ham-handed infodumps. I get that the world needs to be explained, but there's a better way of doing it through showing rather than telling. The buildup to the end where Celia is doubting herself and trying to find answers is way too long, making the actual finale and denouement rather short. Also, the references to music and art are cool, but made the story completely halt at times, stilting the pace further. It should be used as flavor and not as the substance of the story. I really enjoyed the Kind and Unkind supernatural world aspects. The Unkind are said to be mistaken for creatures like vampires and werewolves. This book doesn't delve completely into that world. Both sides are rather untrained and bumbling, not letting us see the depth and breadth of this very promising world. I did hope that the Rosary were enmeshed somehow in this world, but they proved to be normal, pretentious teens.

The Suburban Strange has a lot of good things going for it, but a lot of mediocre things hold it back. The writing is engaging and made me forgive a lot of these flaws. I would definitely read another book and give Kotecki another try because of his ability to capture emotions and build characters.

My rating: 4/5 fishmuffins

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Lo and Celia are both not normal girls. Lo is a soulless ocean girl with no memory of her previous human life as Naida. She and her ocean sisters wait for the time when the angels will come and take them away. In the meantime, they can try to make human boys love them and drown them to return to get their souls back and return human form, but it has never worked, as far as any of them can remember. Celia and her two sisters are triplets, which is uncommon, but they also have special powers that allow them to see into various aspects of people's lives through touch. Celia considers her power to see into the past is basically useless, but finds purpose when she and Lo meet. They work together to save a boy from drowning. Celia, curious about Lo, looks for her later and works to help her remember her human self and how she came to be an ocean girl. They find themselves building relationships with the boy, Jude, and working against each other. Celia wants love, but Lo wants her soul back.

I love fairy tale retellings and Jackson Pearce's have been the best in the genre so far. Fathomless lives up to the rest of her novels and puts a new, dark spin on my favorite fairy tale, The Little Mermaid. The original tale by Hans Christian Andersen has some very dark elements, including the stabbing pain every time the mermaid steps in human form, her option to kill the prince to become a mermaid once again, and the unhappy, weirdly religious ending. Fathomless makes great use of these elements by slightly altering them instead of entirely omitting them like many other retellings. My favorite example of this is the ocean girls waiting to become angels. After they forget who they were and transform into cold ocean beings, an angel comes to free them and makes them into angels. Instead of being something beautiful and redemptive like in the original story, where the mermaid becomes an air spirit to earn her soul after she dies, this transformation is revealed to be something much more nefarious.

The characters and the plot are much more fleshed out than in the original tale. Lo is kind of like two people in one. The Lo personality is a soulless ocean girl, inhuman, cold, and dangerous. The Naida personality tries to hold on to every single human memory discovered with Celia's help. She is desperate to get her life back and return to human form. Celia is my favorite character. She has never really had an identity of her own and lives beneath her sisters' shadows. Lo presents her with a unique opportunity to use her special power to see into people's pasts, which she has always found to be patently useless. Jude became her first friend separate from her sisters and her first date. The romance is organic and sweet and also didn't overpower the story as is typical in YA books. These multidimensional characters really elevate the story and bring it into the modern age.

Fathomless is the best retelling of The Little Mermaid I have ever read. I love that Jackson Pearce chose to embrace the darkness of the original story while adding her own spin to it. I also like how it relates to both Sweetly and Sisters Red. I can't wait to read the next book in the series, Cold Spell, a retelling of the Snow Queen.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Monday, October 15, 2012

Sweet Shadows

Gretchen, Grace, and Greer could not be more different. Gretchen has known for years that she is a descendant of the gorgon Medusa and that she must fight the monster and return them to their own realm. Grace is a environmental activist and a computer geek who doesn't know if she is strong enough to fight against monsters. Greer is a rich, spoiled girl who takes charge in every situation, but isn't sure if she's willing to give it all up to save humanity. While they are still getting to know each other (and bickering), warring factions on Olympus are trying to either kill the sisters or wait until they break the seal between worlds (as it is said they will in prophecy) and then kill them. Only one faction seems to care about their survival. As more and more creatures make their way into the human realm, these sisters must find out which faction to trust and where their fate will ultimately take them.

Sweet Shadows starts with a bang right where Sweet Venom leaves off. Again, it's narrated by the three sisters who have clear and distinct voices. It's easy to figure out who is narrating any given chapter. In the last book, the sisters were basically strangers. Now, their relationship is growing and they are becoming close both because of their efforts to save the world and just getting to know each other. I really like these characters and their different backgrounds. Even though much of the novel involves the supernatural, they bring real life issues and problems to the story. Greer deals with her distant parents and the constant pressure to be perfect in every aspect of her life. Gretchen still feels the effects of having abusive parents as a child and not having many people close to her all her life. All of them have different reactions to being put up for adoption. These experiences make the girls easy for readers to relate to and make the story grounded in realism.

Everything is a little more intense than in the first book. The action is exciting and more consistent. The problems facing the sisters are practically impossible to overcome. The world beyond ours is explored and reveals some shocking revelations. There are mythological creatures that are on their side and will greatly suffer if the door between worlds is closed. They challenge the girls' views and complicate matters, plus they are pretty awesome. What was previously a fairly clear decision is now murkier than ever. I'm very glad this series didn't fall into the second book pitfall that simply sets up for the final book in the trilogy.

Sweet Shadows is an impressive teen read that melds mythology and modernity beautifully. The fast pace and realistic characters make this a quick, fun read. I can't wait to see what the future holds for these heroines. I would recommend this to fans of mythology and YA fantasy.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Anna Girl of Nightmares

Anna Korlov, better known as Anna Dressed in Blood, has been gone for months. She opened a door to hell in the basement of the Victorian house she haunted in order to defeat Cass's archenemy, the Obeahman. Unfortunately, she was sucked into that door as well. Cass, a formidable ghost hunter, is in love with her and has unresolved feelings. He knows having her at rest is better than having her hang around the living world, cursed to kill anyone who disturbs her house. Then, horrific visions of Anna pop up everywhere: at the mall, at his house, at school, while he sleeps. Desperate to find out how to get her and save her, Cass starts to research ways of opening up his own door to hell. Unfortunately, other occultists (like Thomas's grandpa and his own mentor) discourage him from even looking into it and want him to leave Anna alone. Anna saved his life and he loves her, so he continues his search. Their warnings did have some merit, made apparent when he invites the attention of an old cultish order that knows much more about Cass and his power than he does.

I read Anna Dressed in Blood, where the amazing and frightening Anna Korlov is introduced, last year and it shot up to the top of my favorite horror reads. Of course I had to read the follow-up novel that once again brings together Cass, Thomas, and Carmel, our intrepid ghost hunting trio. I can't get enough of these characters. All of them are amazing in their own way, but also not perfect. Cass is singleminded and unrelenting in his quest to free Anna. He would do the same for any of his friends, but she's also the girl he loves (even though he realizes how weird and fucked up it is). His sense of loyalty and morality makes him one of the best characters. Rather than follow someone else's belief system blindly like that creepy cultish order, he figures out his own moral code to follow. He also has a dark humor and wit that colors the narrative beautifully. Thomas once again proves his badass witch skills and sticks with Cass like a real friend even though everyone else thinks he should give up. Carmel is a little infuriating through most of the novel, but still has her good qualities even though she makes mistakes. Her fear doesn't deter her from fighting fiercely against things that outmatch her. These characters are so realistic and fun to read, making it even sadder that this series is over.

The scares are spaced out, but phenomenal. I was expecting more because of the previous book, so I was a teensy bit disappointed. The suicide forest scene and a couple of others (I don't want to spoil too much) were pulse pounding. This book is more about an emotional and psychological journey for Cass and completely different than the first book. I was also slightly disappointed that Anna didn't have a huge role in the book. She's talked about a lot and she definitely has a presence in the novel, but not as pronounced as the first book. I also didn't like seeing her as an damsel in distress, but when faced with a power so much stronger than her, I guess it was unavoidable. I have mixed feelings about the ending (among them being sadness, happiness, and anger), but I felt it was a truly satisfying end.

Anna Girl of Nightmares isn't as good as Anna Dressed in Blood, but it's still one of my favorites reads of this year and a very good novel with amazing writing and memorable characters. The more introspective and personal journey aspects are different from the first novel, but interesting and important to the story nonetheless. I will read anything Kendare Blake writes from now on and I highly recommend this to horror and YA fans.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Classical Music in Horror Movies

A lot of films use classical music in their soundtracks, but horror films tend to use it in a unique way. Most of the time, the beautiful music is creating contrast to the horrible images on the screen. Other times, the classical music serves to unnerve the audience and enhance the disturbing scenes. Here are some films that use classical music in awesome ways.

1) Battle Royale

This film uses Verdi's dramatic Dies Irae for the intro of the film where the Battle Royale program (where one class out of all of Japan is chosen to fight to the death on an island) is being introduced and the winner from the previous year is seen, covered in blood and smiling eerily.

It also uses a Schubert Lied (or art song) call Auf dem Wasser Zu Singen. This beautiful song backs the tragic story of Chigusa Takako, a runner who finds out the boy she likes also likes her back just as she is dying.

2) Ravenous

This film is about cannibals in California during the Mexican-American war. The song Hail Columbia, which was considered the US unofficial national anthem before 1931, accompanies a scene that should be fairly normal: a group of soldiers eating a celebratory steak dinner. However, the eating and the meat look so grotesque and disgusting, it's stomach churning. Hail Columbia in the background is at first played normally, but as the scene gets more disturbing, the balance falls apart and it's played just as grotesque as the scene. (I unfortunately couldn't find the clip and the music sounds fairly normal on the actual soundtrack, but watch the film to hear it!)

3) Oldboy

Oldboy is a complex revenge film. The Allegro non molto movement of Winter from Vivaldi's Four Seasons is used to accompany a fight scene and the following torture scene (not for the faint of heart). The intensity and speed of the music enhances the feeling of the scene, but I wouldn't think such a beautiful piece would go with such a gruesome scene.

4) The Exorcist

The Exorcist is an interesting and disturbing film of a young woman possessed by demons (or just becoming a woman if you read it the way I do). An equally disturbing piece of music is used to enhance the feel of the movie: George Crumb's Night of the Electric Insects from the Black Angel's string quartet. It sends chills down my spine with no visuals at all.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Bridget Liu isn't just a moody, combative teenager that just wants everyone (including her parents, her mom, and the cute son of the police sergeant) to leave her alone. She can communicate with demons and send them back to where they came from. Fearing her loved ones reaction to her power (or her belief in her power), she confides in Monsignor Renault, who then guides her and asks for help on increasingly more dangerous exorcisms. On one of these, Bridget hears a demon say something frightening that turns her whole world upside down. She has to figure out a demon's plan before it's executed and find out who around her is working for it.

I usually don't really like exorcist stories, but the awesome metallic blue cover and the good things I've heard about Gretchen McNeil's writing made me ignore my misgivings towards the genre. I was pleasantly surprised by most of the story. Bridget is a smart, capable heroine that has special powers over demons. Even though she can be too whiny and annoying, her good qualities outweigh those annoyances. I liked seeing the story through her eyes because she adds her own sarcasm and unique point of view. Her character develops throughout the novel and she gets much less annoying and much more mature by the end of it. My favorite scene is the one where a doll shop is infested with demons. There are some pretty creepy moments, but nothing mindblowingly scary. Possessed dolls are just disturbing by themselves. Gretchen McNeil's writing is what made the book enjoyable. Despite my problems with it, I read it pretty fast because she built up momentum really well and grabbed my interest. The plot moves swiftly after the exposition with the demonic activity increasing as it goes along.

I did have some problems with this book. The minor characters are paper thin with little to no character development. A boy is in love with Bridget and literally stalks her around school and sends her frightening and obsessive text messages. This situation gets way out of control and totally could have been prevented if she had just told an authority figure about it and gotten him help. It just makes her look horrible and like she doesn't really care about her friend and the other people he could hurt because of his obviously unstable mental state. I really had to suspend disbelief with the religious aspects because I grew up Catholic and went to Catholic schools. It did pull me out of the story a couple times at the beginning, but I was so interested in the story by the end that it no longer mattered. There were some twists and turns in the plot, but I could see most of them coming a mile away.

Possess was kind of uneven for me. The character development was great for Bridget, but most of the other characters were basically cardboard. I do wish it were a little more scary. Most teen horror is kind of underwhelming. Despite the problems I had, Gretchen McNeil's writing kept me interested throughout the book and I will definitely be reading her new release, Ten.

My rating: 3.5/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lies Beneath

Calder White was perfectly happy in a nice warm climate when his sisters called him back to the icy waters of Lake Superior. Being a merman, ignoring this call is impossible. He is bound to his sisters and reluctantly returns to them as slow as possible. When he gets there, he is offered the opportunity to be released from his bond if he helps them murder the son of the man responsible for their mother's death named Jason Hancock. Calder agrees and plans to use his good looks and hypnotic merman suggestion power to manipulate one of his daughter, but things don't go as planned. He didn't think he would fall in love. Torn between being free from his family and wanting to be with his new human love, Calder doesn't know what to do.

I had high hopes for Lies Beneath even though I wasn't crazy about the cover. Mermaids are one of my favorite mythical creatures, but these aren't really mermaids. They are basically aquatic vampires, which takes away everything that makes these creatures interesting. Vampires have overflooded the YA book market and I was looking for something different. These mermaids prey on people and feed on their positive energy and emotion because they can't produce them themselves. They can also communicate with each other telepathically, manipulate humans with their beauty and hypnotic powers, and produce electricity similar to eels. This would have been interesting if it didn't make the relationship between Calder and Lily into a carbon copy of Twilight. He wants to eat her but he's in love with her and it's going against his nature...blah blah blah. I have seen this so many times before that it's ridiculous. Plus his stalker status rivals Edward's in Twilight and he kills people regularly to survive. It got really creepy. The murder aspect seemed to be justified by the fact the he doesn't kill anyone during the course of the book, but that doesn't make his past murders disappear. The romance did not wow me because it was the typical instalove with no development at all.

The characters are fairly flat and uninteresting. Lily is a rebellious girl who wears weird clothes and doesn't mind that her boyfriend has killed people in the past. His sisters are the most interesting characters in the novel, but we don't get to see much of them. All the characters could have done with richer backgrounds and dimensions. The two things that did work for me are the writing and the poetry in the novel. Despite not being very invested in the characters or the plot, I kept reading because the writing really moved and kept me interested. I am a huge sucker for classic literature cited in books. I get to discover new things I didn't know about or nerd out over things I like. I had no idea about some of these poems and it was nice to discover them.

Lies Beneath is a mediocre teen novel that had a lot of promise with the dark mermaids, but it turned into a Twilight rip off. The ending is definitely open for a sequel and I'm frankly not interested in reading it. Hopefully some of the other mermaid books will be less disappointing.

My rating: 2/5 fishmuffins

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's October!!!

It's October!!! My very favorite month of all. I basically celebrate Halloween for 31 days, so stay tuned for horror book and movie reviews plus horror themed Internet Awesomenesses and music posts. There are cool Halloween themed bloggy stuff happening around the blogosphere (which totally reminds of the Nightosphere from Adventure Time) like vvb32's Keep Calm and Carry On: Zombie Edition event. She will post intermittently throughout October more awesome zombie stuff (in case you are going through withdrawals like me). Plus I will be doing a guest post there on October 11. Yay! Please share any other October events either you or someone you know/follow are having so I can join too. October is the BEST!!!!

Monday, October 1, 2012

September Zombies: The End

It's the end of the month. I hope you all had as much fun as I did with a zombie filled, brain-nomming month of awesome. I will leave you with one last giveaway!!

One winner will win this lovely zombie prize pack:

* Feed by Mira Grant
* The Zen of Zombie by Scott Kenemore
* Soulless by Christopher Golden
* Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
* Dust by Joan Frances Turner

Just leave your email below. Only open to US. Sorry international readers. :( Giveaway ends 10/31.

There may be a zombie week sometime between now and next September, so keep an eye out!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zombies in Art 2

More depictions of zombies by awesome artists!

* Raffle Zombie Bunny by *IckyDog

Do you like some creepy with your cute? Well, this adorable zombie bunny plushie should do the trick. It's hungry red eyes, bloodstained mouth, and exposed ribs are very well made and make for an adorable zombunny. I'm just sad it doesn't seem to be for sale anywhere.

* Zombunny Brooches by ~misscoffee

I would totally wear these adorable zombunny brooches to show my love for creepicute and zombies. Be careful. They may be cute, but they can swarm.

* ZOMBIE ME by *LordNetsua

This is one of the best zombie photos I have ever seen. The expression and the makeup are so awesome and  it looks like a screenshot out of a movie.

* Zombie... by *rylphotography

This is another phenomenal zombie portrait. The makeup work that went into that is so realistic and amazing and scary looking.

Have any favorite art that features zombies? Please share!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Waiting for Daybreak

Frieda suffers from a slew of mental illnesses including anxiety, borderline personality disorder, and depression. She finds it hard to interact with people without being consumed by her inner dialog telling her she is being too extreme or not doing enough. When she becomes overwhelmed and extremely angry or sad, she turns it on herself and self mutilates, either by cutting or by burning herself with hot pans. The zombie apocalypse suddenly happens and she finds herself without any other sentient human for a year. Her problems with her mental illnesses also cease. Suddenly, on a quest to get medicine for her sick cat, she runs into another normal person, a man named Mike, who has similar problems pre-apocalypse as her. Frieda immediately feels an attraction to him, but she doesn't know much about him. Only time will tell if he is one in the parade of losers she knew before or if he is actually worthy of her affections.

Waiting for Daybreak is an unexpected read and puts a new spin on old tropes in the zombie genre. I was expecting just things I've seen before because I have read a lot of zombie books, but Amanda McNeil surprised me. Frieda quickly became one of my favorite zombie survivor heroines. She is smart, resourceful, and fiercely loyal to the people and things she cares about. I loved that she risked life and limb to get medicine for her cat. Many would say she should just let it die or eat it, but, at least for me, cats are family. So she gets major brownie points in my book for that. Her mental illnesses constantly make her doubt her feelings and actions, but after the zombies appear and eat everybody, they cease to bother her. The question of what is normal is a central one in this novel. Is she normal now that she is more like people were before the zombies? Or is she still abnormal because the majority of people are clamoring to eat each other's brains? Frieda is never portrayed as crazy despite her mental state sometimes and has a quirky personality that I immediately related to. It shows that people with mental illnesses are not defined by them and there are more to them than just that illness.

The first half of the book is showing Frieda's day to day life with her cat during the zombie apocalypse. She looks after her roof garden, kills the occasional zombie (who she calls the Afflicted) that comes her way, cooks food, fortifies her apartment, stuff like that. This part of the novel also offers glimpses of her life before  and during the zombie apocalypse. It describes her last date that ended horrifically and the fact that she is only alive because she called in sick to work. It serves to let the reader know how she changed over time and fill in her background. Then she meets Mike. Attraction is instantaneous between them and they have a cute, slightly awkward romance because they both have their own emotional baggage. I want desperately for them to work out because I really like her and her last date ended in disaster. This relationship is the first she has even seen anyone and she's beginning to hope for the future.

I love the zombies (or the Afflicted). It's unclear what caused it. The news claimed it came from some sort of military facility, but it doesn't really matter because the effect remains. They start with a flu-like sickness and then crave brains, attacking whoever is closest. Pain and injuries don't phase them one bit and they are very resilient. What I find most creepy is that they still seem to keep some level of sentience. They can speak and even plead for help because of their hunger right before they attack and try to smash your brains. It makes me wonder how much they realize what they are doing and what their actual mental capacity is. Do they do that because they know they want to prey on sympathy or are they just doing it out of instinct because their hunger causes them pain? I would like to know more about these type of zombies.

Waiting for Daybreak is an amazing zombie read. The only thing I didn't like is the cover. It's a little generic and I think it might put people off.  I read it in about a day because I couldn't put it down. I really want to know more about this world and about what happens next. I really really hope there is going to be a second book because if any story deserves a series, it is this one.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Friday, September 28, 2012

Internet Awesomeness: Zombie Edition 4

More zombies from the internets! They are infecting everything!!!!!

1) Play Dead

This Kickstarter funded short film is about dogs that are immune to zombie virus versus zombies as they roam in Miami. I like the little profiles at the beginning of the short film that tells each dogs name, their likes, their interest, and their temperament. After their owner's die, there are blissful moments of fun for them while humans are dying everywhere. I find it hilarious that one of the dogs is always pulling along their zombie owner. This film is extremely well done from the gore to the acting to the awesome dogs. It goes to a dark place fast, but still manages to keep the humor. The human's actions are understandable, but it's still sad. The post-zombie apocalyptic world is hard for a dog.

2) Zombie Call Center

This film is super short, but packs in good humor, satire, and zombie fun. I really really wanted her annoying co-worker to be eaten by a zombie. I just hate people that sit back and let everyone else do the work. In less than a minute, this guy annoyed the crap out of me and I really wanted Amy to succeed. The nonchalance that these people treat zombies with in this world makes me want to know more about how zombies effect their society and how many zombies there are. If satellite is a huge concern, then maybe it's not so bad.

3) Zombie Burger

There is a super awesome restaurant in Des Moines, Iowa that is zombie themed. This may seem kind of gross, what with zombies being rotting and all, but I find it cute and charming. Plus it features food with awesome names like the 28 Days Later Burger, The Boomstick burger, and salads called Soylent Greens. It is a little more expensive than just a burger place, but it's highly rated on Yelp by customers and it seems to be worth it. If only there were something like that here in California. I found out about it reading this months issues of Fangoria magazine where this restaurant was featured. 

More zombies soon!

Zombie Music: Aaron Stoquert

I posted about Aaron Stoquert last year about his zombie EP, Run for Your Life. This year (well it was really late last year), he has come out with a full length album called Remaining Days and it's about zombies and the apocalypse!! I am so excited about this album. The style is similar to his EP, kind of an indie folk feel. However, he has some great additions to the instrumentation and vocals. In addition to guitar and drums, there is also a cello. I personally love cello in anything and it really adds something extra even though it usually isn't seen in the folk genre. The addition of Krista Masino as background vocals and harmony is awesome. Her voice fleshes out the melodies nicely and complements Aarons voice. It gives this album a fuller sound than the bare bones EP. 

Now, on to some of the individual tracks. The first track has no lyrics, but has empty radio white noise and a piano playing steady chords in progression. It just really effectively sets up the tension and feeling of the album and the zombie apocalypse. It seamlessly segues into the first song, Flesh and Bone, one of my favorites. It captures the futility of living in this world. You will either become food a part of the zombie horde. Fields at Daybreak has this monotonous guitar  underpinning that reflects the monotony the people in the apocalypse experience, killing zombie after zombie. But to what avail? The Front Lines is a dark song that reveals the darkness and despair of fighting a war against the undead. The militaristic drum beats bring to mind war in a subtle way that also makes a slightly different style than the rest of the songs. A Lock for You is from the perspective of a zombie (or someone who is turning into a zombie) that features some of my favorite lyrics, like "A taste of you in me/ Ties us eternally." All of the songs have their own unique elements, but mesh well together to create a very successfully, enjoyable album. 

So many of these songs capture the emotion and feeling of a situation like this shockingly well. I like that Aaron writes from the perspective of both humans and zombies to get a full view of the world he's describing. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for anything else Aaron is involved in because these songs are not only part of a genre I love, but they are superb. I highly recommend both this album, Remaining Days, and the Run for Your Life EP. You can listen to them all in the widget above or on his bandcamp. You can also purchase the CD or digital album at his site

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Wishlist: Zombie Edition 4

Kind of a hodge podge today, including video games and books.

1) I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus: A Breathers Christmas Carol by S.G. Browne

Synopsis from Amazon: He sees you when you’re sleeping . . . he knows when you’re undead.
How does the leader of a failed zombie civil rights movement from California rescue a group of his undead brethren and help a lonely Breather girl as he hides from a band of medical researchers while disguised as Santa Claus?
If you’ve never believed in Christmas miracles, then you wouldn’t understand.
Andy Warner has just escaped from a zombie research facility in Portland, Oregon, where he’s been subjected to experimental testing for the past year. With Christmas just days away, Andy figures that donning a jolly old St. Nick costume to throw off his would-be captors is just the ticket. But he never expects to encounter a sweet, lonesome nine-year-old girl who not only reminds Andy of the family he’s lost but who thinks he’s the real Santa. He also doesn’t count on being recognized as last year’s national quasi-celebrity by a clandestine group of decaying supporters who look to him for leadership. For the living and the undead, this unforgettable holiday tale will truly put on display just who is gnawing and who is nice. . . .

I had no idea Breathers was getting a sequel! Plus it's Christmas-y. The only other Christmas zombie book I know of is The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore. I will definitely be devouring this one. It comes out October 31.

2) ZomiU

A super gory zombie game for the new Wii? Shocking! Whenever I get the new system, I am so all over this game. I like that the new system will have more games appealing to adults than in years past.

3) Plants vs. Zombies 2

A new Plants vs. Zombies game is on the horizon! I love the original, which you can play on any platform imaginable, but I've already done it and the zen garden is just ok. It's set to come out next Spring and here is the accompanying message with the press release:

"Spring is crullest curlie ungood time, and plantz grow dull roots. So, we are meating you for brainz at yore house. No worry to skedule schedlue plan... we're freee anytime. We'll find you." 

If, like me, you can't wait for this new game, you can go their new store and buy the most adorable toys from PvZ or catch up by playing the game on Facebook, or the iPod and any other device.

4) Walking Dead Season 3

Season 3 is almost here!! This is one of my favorite of the comic book series and it's going to be fun seeing it unfold onscreen and seeing what changes are made. I am so excited for Michonne, the Governor, and the return of Merle Dixon. Check it out starting October 14 on AMC.

Share zombie stuff you want to see or read!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Infects

** This review contains spoilers. **

Seventeen year old Nick Sole works in a chicken slaughter house for a famous fast food restaurant to support his deadbeat, lazy dad (who he calls the Dude) and his little sister. After a horrible (and embarrassing) accident, Nick is charged with felony destruction of property and sentenced to Inward Trek boot camp with a bunch of other juvenile delinquents, including the girl he really loves, Petal. Everything is going horribly, as expected, until things get a whole lot worse. The counselors turn into flesh-eating zombies and continually attack the group of mischief makers the first night of the trek. Now, Nick is stuck in the middle of a forest with other teen criminals, separated from civilization and technology, trying to survive the zombie outbreak.

The Infects is a very different type of zombie novel than I usually read. Most of them are fairly bleak and focus on harsh realities of zombie apocalypse life. This one focuses on dark humor and sarcasm over that depressing realism. The novel is peppered with fun horror movie and punk rock references. The delinquents realize fast that the zombie apocalypse is upon them and draw upon their zombie film expertise to formulate the "zombrules" to stay alive. The characters are delightful and varied. I like seeing this world through Nick's eyes. Teen books are very frequently told through the female perspective and it was nice to see the masculine side for once. Plus Dwayne "The Rock: Johnson gives him advice in his head. The other delinquents are interesting and some of them are very annoying. They do develop through the novel and are very memorable, so they don't get lost when the pace speeds up. I really like the end where we get to see what all of their crimes were, which fills out these characters. I'm tempted to reread the book so that I can keep their crime and past in mind when reading about them.

The social commentary underneath the satire and humor is fairly serious. The real life evils of big corporations and the fast food industry are portrayed with the over the top evil chicken company Rebozzo AviaCulture. They will do anything in their power regardless of its legality to make money and keep their misdeeds hidden. Nick's dad, The Dude, worked for them as a scientist and they took his invention for their own after kicking him to the curb. Their chicken also turns people into flesh-eating zombies. This concept isn't new and has been seen as far back as George Romero's classic zombie films, but that isn't the extent of the zombies here.

The zombies in this book are really different. They are the flesh-eating, violent variety, but keep some sort of sentience and intelligence through the seemingly mindless and very gory attacks. There are some glimpses of intelligence and even strategy on the part of the zombies throughout the book, but especially at the end. Spoilers ahead!!!! Rebozzo cures and rehabilitates all of the zombies they can find in the end that don't die from their wounds. Their solution is to keep them in a sealed facility for the rest of their lives. Nick understandably angry at Rebozzo (for this and numerous other things) and has his girlfriend infect him again. They reinfect everyone who wants to be and seek to join a the rest of the zombies that escaped Rebozzo's grasp to change the world. I really like this ending. Nick and his girlfriend Petal choose to be zombies and in essence join the winning team. Who's to say that it's any worse than being human? Maybe it's the next step in evolution. Whatever it is, I am convinced and I hope this book gets a sequel so we can enjoy Nick and Petal's adventures in the next book.

The Infects is a really fast read that makes homages to horror films, skewers big business and the fast food industry, makes me laugh, has some serious zombie carnage, and produces some quality characters. It manages to acknowledge the old, classic zombies and the tradition for social satire while reinvigorating the zombie genre with something new. I love the writing that is very easy to read and has its own stream of conscious like rhythm and style. I will definitely read all of Sean Beaudoin's other works and anything else he writes in the future.

My rating: 4.5/5 fishmuffins

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dawn of the Dead (1978)

The dead are walking the earth and eating the living. Stephen and his girlfriend Francine work at a TV station, where they decided to steal the station's helicopter to find someplace safe form the zombie menace. Roger and Peter are SWAT team operatives that are forced to kill the dead that a group of people decided to store in their apartment's basement instead of taking them to the authorities to be disposed of. Together, these two groups of people escape Philadelphia and stop at a shopping mall because it seems like a fortified, safe place to hide out for a while. Who knows how long the mall will remain a relatively safe place or how long it will take other people to discover it.

Dawn of the Dead is an interesting and important film in modern zombie history. There are things I love about and things I don't love about it. Let's start with what I like. It was made on a really small budget, but the effects and sets look pretty amazing. The zombie makeup ended up looking more blue than gray, but the blood and gore effects plus a lot of the stunts look really good. It's a pretty gory film compared to Night of the Living Dead and, thanks to the genius and ingenuity of Tom Savini, most of the effects look top notch. Many of them were improvised and some even use animal organs to create an authentic look. They also filmed on location in a mall in Monroeville that you can still visit today. The mall looks really creepy with no one in it but zombies. The mannequins look ominous and it just seems oppressive and overpowering.

I also really like the conflicting tones and the strong message within the film. One on hand, there are some really funny and lighthearted scenes with Roger and Peter messing with the zombies or all of them taking advantage of the luxuries in the mall. There are also scary and depressing scenes like the SWAT team raid in the beginning. Those people in the apartment building just wanted their dead to have some dignity and it backfired on them, getting them killed by their departed loved ones and the SWAT team. The difference in tone puts me a little off balance and feels different than zombie films today. Zombie films categorized as comedy tend to have some serious moments, but stay away from the truly depressing stuff. The commentary is biting and direct in its criticism of our society. The scene where zombies aimlessly mill around while the PA system tells them of deals is an obvious stab at the consumerism of our society and how it makes us no better than those brainless zombies. The four main characters aren't heroes, but are simply survivors. They don't really make an effort to save others and they use the mall as a way of escaping horrific reality in their moments of hedonism. They also tend to make their decisions based on emotion rather than logic, which proves never to be a good idea in a zombie apocalypse.

I did not like some aspects of this film. The pacing feels odd and there are definite plot holes. The acting leaves something to be desired, but it's kind of part of its cheesy charm. I really didn't like the woman or the way she was treated in the film. She, like Barbara from Night of the Living Dead, is completely useless and incapacitated by emotion to the point of literally doing nothing as a zombie comes near her. It's just frustrating to watch her not even move out of the way. She was left out of a lot of the action scenes because she stays behind, by herself usually with no weapons. I guess it's better than Barbara's constant hysterics, but it still irked me. The only intelligent thing she did was have her boyfriend teach her how to operate the helicopter in case something happened it him. There is a tiny scene that annoyed me because it didn't need to be there and the implications are troubling. Peter asks Stephen if he wants to abort Francine's baby. I thought it was weird and basically saying that these men are in control of her body. It's nice that the topic of abortion was brought up because Roe vs. Wade had happened not too long before that. However, the subject really wasn't explored or developed at all and this teeny tiny mention was just more problematic than it was worth.

This film and the original Night of the Living Dead set up many of the conventions and tropes we see even today in the zombie genre, both the good and the bad. So many of the zombie movies today have homages or responses to this film. I'm glad I watched it and it's important in the scope of the history of the modern zombie, but it wasn't my favorite film of the genre.

My rating: 8/10 fishmuffins