Mar 24 - Apr 29, 2013
The Gyre Mission: Journey to the *sshole of the World
In the frighteningly near future, man's excess and lack of respect for the planet have resulted in a massive garbage heap off the coast of California. Concerned at the gyre's swift growth, the government sends a crack team to investigate. Unfortunately, they lost contact and disappeared without a trace. So a not-so-shit-hot team is assembled (because you can't lose TOO MANY great employees in THIS economy) to unfold not only the mystery of the trash, but to find the missing team members from the previous unsuccessful foray. But what they discover is even more horrifying than an island made of garbage three times the size of Texas, and they have no way of knowing just how bad Garbage Island can get...
Adventure. Gore. Kinky sex. These are the things that give me the warm and tinglies. In the good way, I mean. Not the flies-that-lay-eggs-in-your-head kind of tinglies.
Although, because I'm sick, this also gives me the tinglies.
God, I'm a mess.
Anyways, when I got this book in the mail, I was pumped. Not only because the subject matter tickled me just so (again, not unlike those sweet little bot flies) but because the book was freakin' MASSIVE and I was totally in the mood (heh heh) for a good, long, epic adventure (double heh heh). And the thing is, a book has to be GOOD if it wants to be an epic epic, and not just a snooze-a-thon like the dictionary - though the dirty words were always good for some giggles in my younger years. And lucky for me, The Gyre Mission did not disappoint (yes, I'm giving you the shifty side-eye, dictionary).
Edgar Swamp has a rare talent for combining the best of both literary worlds: on the one hand he's got a crazy cast of over-the-top characters, sex, violence, and gore, and a redonkulous situation. Well, I'm hoping it's redonkulous. You never know, though, with these government types and their secrets and conspiracies and the assassinations GLAVEN. But basically, he's got all the hallmarks of classic pulp horror in place. However, Swamp also takes the time to introduce his characters, giving us a chance to get to know them and even *gasp* care about what might happen to them. At the very least, a chance to recognise them by name. Actually, the majority of the characters were introduced with their own chapters in the beginning, which was a mighty handy cheat sheet for someone like me who has difficulty recalling where I leave my keys every morning. The other thing Swamp does for us is attempt to offer an explanation for his zany situation, instead of "It's beyond our comprehension" or " 'The secret is...' and then he was carried off by mermen TO BE CONTINUED, LOSER" or "Aliens":
Did I mention his vocabulary is pleasantly surprising?
I loved the characters (and loved hating the assholes) couldn't get enough of the monsters, and the pacing was delightful - a slow rumbling that built up and just got more and more awesome until shit went totally cray-cray (in a good way-way). I was actually just telling one of my buddies about a particularly rad moment involving a massive carpenter ant/centipede/nightmare and its delightful accompanying birth scene. My friend was suitably impressed. And grossed out. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book, and the looks on my friends' faces when I read them bits of it.
Basically, Edgar Swamp isn't treating us like some stupid bimbo he doesn't care about satisfying that he plans to punp-and-dump out of a Bang Bros. bus on the side of a highway. No no NO. Instead, he wants to wine us and dine us, slip a little LSD in our drink, take us on a magical fantasy ride and make us quiver with excitement until the very Gods themselves stand up and applaud. Or at least Jenna Jameson. Old Jenna, though. Not new Jenna. She frightens me.
To put it more simply (and PG) The Gyre Mission has the style of pulp and the substance of fiction. I was most definitely pleased.
All those points alone would have made The Gyre Mission a 10/10. The reason I've given it a 9/10 is because there was a major ass-load of editing atrocities. Pretty much all of them involved the abuse of the apostrophe and the dash with the issue being the distinction between "its" and "it's", and not putting a space on either side of the dash when interjecting a thought into an already existing sentence, and instead making really strange compound words. Seriously, editing errors piss me off to no end and are ridiculously distracting to someone as neurotic as I am. I read with a pencil on hand at all times so I could circle them all; losing the pencil regularly and then hunting for it became a companion sport to keep me nimble in the face of all the perusing. So I'm just putting this out there: Edgar Swamp, if you're going to write another book as rad as The Gyre Mission, I will be happy to offer you my proof-reading services, free of charge. Because if I get my hands on another one of your books and I have to find that many errors again, it won't be pretty.
All in all, my neurosis aside, I had a blast reading this. Go get The Gyre Mission, guys. And then prepare yourself for some sleepless nights and an even greater desire to recycle.
PS: Did I mention his book is dedicated to a dog named Lily Swamp? So now not only is Edgar Swamp a dude with an extremely dirty mind filled with some disgusting ideas (my favorite - swoon!) but he likes animals, too. Double swoon.
Mar 4 - Mar 23, 2013
In the seemingly benign town of Chapel Harbor, an ancient evil broods - waiting for the right moment to initiate a destruction so complete that the entire town is in danger of obliteration, and the only ones who can stop it have no clue as to the parts they'll play in the final battle...
Infernal Machines was a really REALLY well-written book; there were numerous notable elements, and I couldn't help but greedily devour it every damn time I picked it up.
Unfortunately, my kobo was pulling a Lindsay:
(As in, it quit working and starting acting like an complete asshole) which meant that I was getting a whole half hour of perusing before I had to plug it in for a 12-hour charge. So it took me AGES to finish this book. It got to the point where I wasn't sure if I was more pissed off at my e-reader when it went moron on me, or more excited to read when it worked. I'd like to go with excited, because Infernal Machines was that badass. There were two things about this book that really caught my eye. The first was that the protagonists were youth (yet it most definitely wasn't a YA read) and it was still written in an intelligent, adult manner - no pandering here! And Millar certainly didn't shy away from adult situations, even though his characters were kids. Basically, he treated them like people, instead of like delicate flowers. It actually really reminded me of The Thief of Always by Clive Barker (which I love so much I'd write mash notes to it) because it also had a young person at the forefront, but didn't shy away from all the horrors of the world
by hiding behind childish writing and "safe" or "appropriate" situations. By treating the characters like halfway cognizant creatures, the author does us the same service. I totally dig it. The other thing that really grabbed me was the atmosphere. Christ on a bike, was I EVER creeped out. From the moment I picked it up to the moment I put it down, Infernal Machines gave me a terminal case of the heebie jeebies. Almost as if by magic (possibly Cardiff's brand) Millar would turn an everyday, normal situation:
Into the stuff that nightmares are made of. Magic tricks in a bar? Awful. A grad party? Tragic. How about a train ride? You might as well just kill yourself now, or at least gouge your damn eyes out. So for a horror junkie like me, this was absolutely delightful. You know, when I wasn't shivering in terror under my sheets like a frightened child with a boogeyman under the bed. Ugh. The characters were spot on and terrifically done. Really human (well, most of them were human...) and relatable. Hell, some were even lovable. Dammit, I cared. And to drive my previous point home, Stoner (and can I just mention how much I love the fact that there's a character named Stoner?!) Paulie, and Dee were teenagers, but they were also allowed to act like real goddamn people, not an approximation of what an author THINKS a teenager should be. A book with youth protagonists but written for intelligent adults. Brilliant, and as rare as celebrities covering their vaginas from 2006 - 2010 (God, those were some good times, though). And don't even get me started on the adults. The bad guy was so intriguing that
he was hardly detestable, and the good guys all had some skeleton or other in their closet. No one in real life is at the is at the opposite ends of the spectrum of good and evil; instead they fall somewhere in between. An author who can reflect that will inspire all kinds of complicated and intense feelings in their reader (not unlike puberty). And I can't help but love a book that gives me complicated and intense feelings. Not people, though. I can't just break their spines and hide them
under a bed when they agitate me. One of the many reasons I prefer books. Infernal Machines was so SO well done. And although I found myself confused at times, I'm chalking that up to my sporadic reading *cough shitty kobo cough* rather than attributing it to the writing. Bravo. Definitely worth a read. And a reread, no doubt. And all the subsequent night terrors.
Those too. Best of all, y'all now get a chance to enjoy those night terrors with me! Just click HERE for a chance to win your very own autographed copy of Infernal Machines, written by the ridiculously talented (and hunky!) Will Millar.
Nov 8 - Nov 21, 2012
Benjamin Kane Ethridge
Published Oct 30, 2012
A nameless woman awakes to find herself in an unfamiliar room with a body she doesn't recognize. She's starved and isolated, but for the molestation she suffers from her sadistic nurse, Maggie. Our protagonist must somehow escape her torturous existence and discover who she truly is... but does she really want to...?
Sometimes, you pick up a book and have no idea what you're about to get dummied with. You flip a page and start reading, and the next thing you know it's 1AM you're going on another night of no sleep because you HAVE to find out what's going to happen next. Dungeon Brain is one of those books.
It has such a weird premise, and the weirdness runs the entire story. It doesn't just peter out into an orgy of senseless sex and gore (not that I don't appreciate that, sometimes) or spiral into the abyss know as "Unrealistic Character Action Development". It starts off with a woman trapped in an institution with a head full of deviates and sickos. Her caregiver is a psychopath obsessed with haircuts and touching people in places their bathing suit covers.
Oh, and did I forget to mention a little something called ALIENS?!
Yeah. shit just got REAL.
And that's just the beginning. Literally, all that happens only about a third of the way through the book. After that, all kinds of crazy shit goes down, and at no time could I expect what might come out of the blue next. Not that the situations were so outlandish that nothing made sense (duh, aliens obviously have to exist) but it was more so that I'd never read anything similar, so I couldn't know where things were headed.
Another standout point of the book was our protagonist (whose identity I'll leave you to discover, rabid readers). She goes through a remarkable change of countenance; from drug-addled victimized wreck to... well, if I tried to describe what she becomes, it would seem crazy unless you actually read the book yourself. And that's where her beauty lies: her transformation is so organic and realistic that she comes across as a rare genuine heroine. She's not perfect; in fact she's decidedly flawed. She allows thing to happen that no other protagonist would (well, no other writer would, anyways) and yet maintains the reader's affection. Hell, is easier to love her, because she does things we would do, as opposed to your average hero. But with all that, she not written in such a way that she appears weak, and I really appreciate the author didn't turn her into some blubbering wiener or glorified sex toy (not that I don't like that either) because there are so few strong female characters that I like one every so often to make me feel more badass.
Seriously though, she's one of my favorite characters in forrrreeeeeever.
And can I mention that the writing was superb? Not one thing out of place, no editing issues (at least none glaring enough that I consciously thought about them) and some pretty beautiful sentences peppered here and there. It was terrifically readable, and just picked up more and more steam with every page I turned. Now THAT'S writing. I also appreciate the fact that the sci-fi stuff was very slowly introduced and I could enjoy it all without either being overwhelmed by techno gibberish or feeling completely incredulous of the situation. Ease me in, go gentle, and let me get used to it, said Kat only once in her life during one book review ever.
I wish I could get more into it and tell you all my favorite parts; however, I'd be giving too much away and would spoil some of the fun of the read. Lord know I want to punch a motherfucker in the teeth when they give away key plot point too early on. It just gives me something to be antsy about getting to. So I won't do that here. Instead, you can go out, get the book, read the shit out of it, and then we can chat about it. So, yeah... don'r you have a novel you should be purchasing?
Oct 9 - Oct 29, 2012
Fear: A Modern Anthology Of Horror And Terror - Volume One
A horror anthology comprised of indie authors (yay!) with all proceeds benefiting Barnardo's and Medecines sans Frontieres (or Doctors Without Boarders, for us English speaking types). Hoe do you not love this book already?
Of Events At Lowkirk Cemetery by Michael Cail - A deceased gentleman's personal effects are not the only thing troubling his friend...
A nice classy (and classic!) Gothic horror story to start things off right. Beautifully written, and a bit racier (and by that I mean bloodier) than your average Gothic tale, it was a good traditional beginning to this anthology.
Dead Ding Donger by Wayne Via - Woodrow Harper has got something sinister in mind for the young folk who prank him on Halloween...
Very simple and somewhat outlandish. Besides the adult language, it totally reminded me of something I would have read as a preteen. Like R.L. Stine for... ahem... "mature" (read: fucked up) kids.
Old Mabel's Stray Cat by Cameron Trost - Old Mabel's cat is far more dangerous than she could ever imagine...
This story actually make me mutter, "Ugh, creepy!" out loud; I literally could not contain myself. To be fair, I talk to myself more often than most people, but still. I thought I knew where it was going, but was completely shocked by where it ended up. I was genuinely disturbed by this read and I'm sure I'll have nightmares because of it. I'll say it again: Ugh, creepy. And I'll throw in a shudder for good measure. Definitely a favorite.
Last Call by E. L. Norry - A bitter man makes the worst of a bad situation...
So well written (except for "whilst" being used twice so close together) that I was totally cheesed when it ended so abruptly! Definitely read like a first chapter as opposed to a short story.
Don't Break The Glass by Jennifer Martin - A zombie outbreak is no place for a family...
Wasn't so sure about this one to begin with. The protagonist was a little juvenile starting out, but once I got past that the story ended up being great! I would love to see this as a full-length novel. Just lose the phrase "WTF", please. Only Valley girls talk like that, and while Clueless was UH-MAZ-ING, it shouldn't be done anymore.
What Goes Around by Carmen Jenner - Keeping the woman you love captive in a basement can have far greater ramifications than one could ever imagine...
GREAT story. Went in a totally unexpected direction and turned out so SO well. I had a hard time figuring out who I liked and who I felt sorry for - the protagonist or the antagonist. Which means we had some complicated, realistic, and well done characters. Did I mention there was also gore? I'd love to see this turned into a novel. Well done.
Breaker One Nine by Connor Rice - Being an ice trucker can be mighty dangerous, and not just for the most obvious reasons...
Another favorite. So creepy and surreal as well as unique - I'm a big fan of new monsters. As opposed to being a huge metal fan:
Which I actually am, by the way. My only complaint? Editing mistakes a-plenty. Enough so that the ending (while being totally epic and awesome) was fucked up because of a misplaced word that distracted me from the final shebang. Turn it into a full length read and hire an editor. I'd buy it. Little Darlings by Ginger Nielsen - Maybe the creepy old woman across the street really IS all the fearful things you think about her... Definitely had a promising start; creepy and intriguing. But I felt like it transitioned really abruptly and unrealistically. It almost felt like reading two different stories. Two stories is fine. Two SEPARATE stories. Not two stories mashed together like awkward teens in an arranged marriage.
And what about Wickers?! What's his deal?! Salvation Sign by Brad Cobb - Opal Hodges is a good God-fearing woman, but the feelings she's been having lately are less than charitable... I had trouble with this one. Basically, the old woman feels weird. Page after page of how weird she feels. It definitely gets repetitive after a while (especially for someone who feels weird all the time anyways). Then the ending just kind of blasted me in the face, coming way out of left field (I bet there's a sex euphemism for something like that... A Houdini, I think?) and while it was interesting for sure, it was also pretty vague. Either it was too subtle for me, or someone spiked the old bat's communal wine with LSD:
Church Farm House by Patrick O'Neill - Living in the home of a notorious killer can have grave consequences... I liked this one. Well written and creepy (especially one certain scene... nasty in every sense of the word). And hell, there was even a surprise! You have to be pretty good to surprise the likes of me when I'm reading horror, so good show. Harvest Home by Linton Robinson - There's no safety at the homestead in THIS community... A delightful little short. Loved how descriptive the author was; well detailed and realistic. And as a bonus, it was just gross enough to make me smile. A really weird and wonderful take on the traditional zombie tale. I'd love to see this as a longer book. The Book by Lyn McConchie - Fable and legend have to start somewhere... At first glance, this appeared to be a fairy tale. But quickly it revealed itself to be the old dark kind, not the fluffy Disney kind. Enough blood and murder in this one to stand with the best of them. So far the most different of the lot in this anthology in style and subject - a beautiful prodigious interlude. Well done. Synesthesia by E. E. King - If we knew all the wonders the world had to offer, it could drive a person mad... Bizarre. Totally freakin' bizarre. but delightful in a gruesome sort of way. Well written and thought provoking. And another character who may very well have been high on LSD. Hell, at least he tried to go with it... Would love to read this as a novella or even a novel. Another favorite. Octavia by Chantal Boudreau - A phobia can be a powerful mental disorder, but the cure can be much MUCH worse... This had a great opener. Straight up grabbed me from the word go. Very traditional in writing style, and was straightforward and easy to understand - just the way I like my reading. It definitely reminded me of Dread by Clive Barker, but in a good way. The Wild Huntsman by Skander Lafif - Venturing into the woods at night can have disturbing consequences... Now THIS reads like a traditional ghost story. I could expect to find this in one of those spooky as books I loved so much as a kid. But with more sophisticated writing. Tho Storm by Sara Fowles - This apocalypse begins with tiny animals and lots of itching... Skillfully done. A fantastic tense buildup and purple prose that wasn't too damn purple (almost always an issue for me). Kind of finished by winding into Christ-knows-what, but still definitely good. A Cloud Over The Sun by A. A. Garrison - Wishes don't always turn out like one would hope... Wonderful, original, creepy and upsetting. All the good things a horror story should be. A great read. Dave And The Raven by Duncan Jones - There's something more sinister than shoddy service at your local retailer... Hilarious and bizarre; loved the combo horror and humor. So rarely done this well because it takes such immense skill. Though it was missing a really goddamn important writing element (no paragraph breaks whatsoever) I still really enjoyed this. If All Else Perished by Kiona Smith-Strickland - Running a zombie recovery service can be a mighty tough gig... Very professionally done. Realistic characters and reactions not usually seen in the protagonists of zombie stories. Unique and thoroughly enjoyable. A Quiet Corner Of Town by Angel Propps - It takes more work than you think to keep up a trailer park... Interesting. Neat concept. Occasionally over complex sentences, and mildly confusing, but I liked it because of the characters and the alternate realities presented. Which are always damn confusing, now that I think about it. Seamless by Shirley Golden - The perfect woman is, by no means, quite perfect... Whoa. Neat. One of those rare stories that start out confusing as hell and resolve themselves so effortlessly. The writing was ace, the story was weird, and reading it was fun. I really liked this. Possibly because I imagine having one of these little creations for myself.... for research purposes, you understand. Luther by Jay Wilburn - Rehabilitation with the monks isn't quite what we'd think it is... While the writing was good and the characters and concept were interesting, I definitely didn't get what was going on. Not enough explanation for me. But I've never been good with subtle. Granma's House by Tara Fox Hall - Who'd have thought staying in the house your granma died in would be spooky... I thought the monsters/ghosts were particularly disturbing in this one. Nightmare worthy to be sure. And while I would have liked more of an explanation, it was a good ghostly read. The Glass Eye by J. L. Petty - This ventriloquist and dummy have a mighty strange relationship... Because I've been reading horror forever, I pretty much had the idea where this was heading as soon as I got into it. And while the antagonists were better done than most ventriloquist/dummy horror stories, the protagonist had a pretty weird adjective ("almond hair" just makes me think of weird hippie cookies). Plus, the author was using semi-colons incorrectly: "I checked my watch again; which read 4:15 am. I put my hand in my pocket and clutched a silver revolver; with a tight grip. Afraid of whom I'd meet; I quietly concealed the gun in my pocket... I turned towards my car; with hopes of going home."Which was the most disturbing part of the story, really. This is why editors are so damn important. Stuff like that is REALLY distracting. Disturbance Of The Natural Pecking Order by Brandon Swarrow - When children go missing, parents will go along with just about anything to get them back... Extremely sinister and definitely creeped me out; possibly because it pretty realistically depicted how people can get into really fucked up situations (though I'm hoping this particular situation is none too common).
Would make an excellent full length novel. Hurbane Wulf by Raymond John Clarke - Lost love is a terrifying prospect... So there was definitely some lacking punctuation and punctuation where it wasn't supposed to be in this one (I had to lean that 'it's' and 'its' are two different things with two different meanings, and so should other people). But aside from that nasty bit, this was a lovely traditional horror story that, surprisingly, didn't have any werewolves. Alarming by Gregory A. Carter - This car is far more alarming than most (see what I did there?)... There were some missing words in this one, which always confuses and irritates the shit out of me. Luckily, the story was damn good and original, so I was appeased. I thought the idea was very Stephen King-esque (mega compliment in my books) and I liked how the author played the protagonist's relationship; that is, nonchalantly. Awesomely horrific and just the right amount of bizarre. Red by Rick Allden - There are worse things than your child disappearing... like your child coming back... Gripping as hell. Really enjoyed this story and the way it was written. I was totally creeped out by the description of the characters (definitely a good thing). Another Ghostly Figure by Chris Morton - A stroll though a haunted village might not be the best way to spend Halloween... A nice classical English horror story... with a subtly disturbing twist. Well written and nicely done with lots of creeping horror and a shy hint of weird. House For Rent by Phil Richardson - A cheap price on a place to live is never a good sign... Eerie. Reminded me of something I'd read as a kid (if authors and publishing houses didn't think kids were total wieners that can't handle a little murder). The protagonist is definitely worth getting to know better and I think the author could make a novel out of this one that would be worth buying. Last Dance by Peter Lingard - Being lost in the woods can be a frightening experience... A well done little horror story that didn't end up being a horror story at all... at least in the traditional sense. The protagonist was realistic and and situation was well done; it was definitely a nice way to end the book. Altogether, Fear: Volume One was a better than usual anthology. While occasionally the need for an editor cropped up and I usually prefer my reads longer, these facts were more than made for for by the variety and profusion of stories. No matter what you like, you'll find something here to suit your fancy, and it's definitely worth picking up.
Sep 2 - Sep 18, 2012
Eddie Griffin has got a tough lot in life. After winning the Superbowl and becoming one of the most recognizable men on the planet, the unthinkable happens: the dead rise and the Zombie Apocalypse swings into full force. But Eddie is definitely a survivor, and after teaming up with Lt. Jim Shrike, the two set off on a mission of unimaginable proportions...
I can honestly say, without a doubt, that I have NEVER read anything like this in my life. And I think the experience was good.
See, I thought Undead Reckoning was a horror novel. I mean, the cover, the title, the fact that it's about zombies... You can't fault me for pigeonholing the book right off the bat. But while it started out as a fairly straightforward horror/military zombie story, things quickly escalated. Suddenly there were gods and demons and warriors and robots and monsters and lots of chicks with big titties and thousands of other bits and bobs all occurring one after another (or on top of each other... if you know what I mean).
Reading this honestly kind of felt like getting sucked up into a tornado whirling over your local trailer park - there's so much stuff in it that all you can do is hold on to your garden gnomes and hope you don't get whacked by something. Or something else. Or 12 somethings. At once.
There were probably close to 100 characters (one of which was named Eddie Griffin; seeing as how he's a main protagonist, the name is thrown around a lot and it can get kind of distracting... or awesome, depending on how I feel that day) and so many situations; when looked at separately, they seemed to have no relation, and I was having trouble following what was going on.
I also noticed a marked evolution in the writing; it started off fairly simple and green, progressed into your average style, and finished off as full blown good-ass storytelling. And all the while there was a ton of shit going on.
So basically, I read the first part - "I totally get the zombie stuff, and I know what most of this terminology means, so don't treat me like a moron with all these annotations and maybe work on some more complete and complex sentence structures." which led to "I have no idea what the fuck is going on." to "OK, I think I get it." to "This is actually really fucking epic." to "I fucking lost it AGAIN." and finally to "Fuck it. I may not have any idea what the fuck is going on but I'm going to damn well enjoy it."
Undead Reckoning was definitely more Sci-Fi/Fantasy than horror, and while I liked it, I bet I would have liked it more if I was more experienced in sweeping epics and funny names.
July 9, July 19, 2012
The Domino Effect
In New York, Danny is growing up and learning the difference between what's right and what's wrong. But learning something and actually applying that knowledge are two entirely different matters, and when Danny is sent away to a new school, he's forced to decide whether he's ready to step up to the task...
Right off the bat I have to warn you that this isn't my usual subject matter. I don't often read general fiction (I already have my own boring regular life to deal with on a constant basis) and the same goes for YA (my young adult life is not something I revisit with rose-tinted glasses and therefore can't identify with a lot of YA protagonists) so The Domino Effect was a double-whammy of "Outside my Comfort Zone" reading material. Don't worry; I packed a sweater.
The writing itself was decent and totally readable - no profusion of editing errors, with a straight-forward and to-the-point style. Definitely doable. And the beginning of the book caught on like a runaway train; super quick without any unnecessary wordage. I was totally psyched to rock and roll.
But I found it lost momentum as we got into Danny's senior year. I suppose after blasting through all of his schooling leading up to that set me up to think the action would continue to be non-stop, but when it turned out the majority of the story focused on his final year, it threw me for a bit of a loop. I have trouble shifting gears, especially from a preferred method of storytelling (fast and dirty) to something I have a little more trouble with (slow and gentle). Not only that, but there were multiple plot lines (trouble in the neighborhood at home; budding relationships at school; inner struggles) that didn't seem to come to any real conclusion (ran away; superficial at best; no real logical resolution).
Plus, from a purely personal perspective, Danny's relationship with Brenda really irked me. The conclusion just seemed totally unrealistic. Danny was pretty girl crazy but professed to love Brenda. So why'd he make the final decision that he did? And he didn't really understand her (at best) and otherwise treated her pretty fuckin' shabbily. So why did she make the decision that she did? Sigh. Maybe I've been out of high school for too long and this is just how dumbass teenagers act nowadays.
You know what I liked best about this book? Danny's dad. Give HIM a book!
July 6, 2012
Jesus the Mexican Vampire Hunter
Normally I'd give you a little blurb on the gist of this story (or Vampire Short, if you want to be precise... which I always do) but honestly, the title really says it all. There's honestly no way I could try to describe it any better than that without being redundant. Have I ever mentioned how much I like books like that? Straight forward, to the point... and boy, did I EVER have some creepers over my shoulder at the bus station when THIS title page came up on my KOBO!
Martin Lastrapes has got serious chops. From the title selection to the cover design (we can thank his bro for that, actually) to his mad writing skills and great characters - the man can really put a piece together like nobody's business. The main draw for this story, for me anyways, was Jesus; he seems noble (Vampire hunting is pretty risky, so I gather) yet flawed ('roids definitely aren't on the upstanding citizen's breakfast menu) but he's 100% badass. I liked the fact that the glimpse into his early life made him a little more human; for all his hardcore attributes, he still maintained a lovable quality. I mean, lovable for me. But my version of lovable and your version may differ a little. You probably love Cute Overload - I love Vampire Hunters with drug habits. I definitely want to read more about him; I find Jesus the most fascinating out of all the different
characters I've discovered in Lastrapes' Vampire Shorts. Wait, I just read that last part and lost my shit a little bit. Can I just say that one more time, please? Ahem. "I find Jesus the most fascinating out of all the different characters I've discovered in Lastrapes' Vampire Shorts." Christ. If you can find Jesus in a man's shorts, you're doing well. Anyways, back to the subject at hand. The writing, as always, was superb. So much so that I seem to find myself drifting off into this epic world of luchadores and Vampires
and when it all ends so suddenly, well... I feel a little downright pissy. This teasing has got to end soon, Martin; I'm getting a case of literary blue-balls.
June 30 - July 4, 2012
A Darkness Shattered
Without warning, the zombie epidemic explodes on the North American populace and it's every man for himself - or in Michael Nelson's case, every teenager for himself. Deciding to head for the shelter of his grandparents' farm, he comes across friends, foes, and one very special girl...
This author has potential in a big way. His head must be filled with boatloads of epicness and I'm pretty stoked to read the next book in this series.
See, the thing is, the writing on this one was a little rough around the edges, and hopefully he'll have a chance to hone his skill a bit... or hore (typo STAYS) a decent editor. There were close to 40-some-odd missed words, apostrophes, and commas. The author used a lot of the same words to closely together for my taste:
" 'Well, don't be afraid to have more if you want. Free refills at this restaurant!' His good humor was contagious and they couldn't help but smile with him. With a bright smile, Molly came out of a large nearby tent and brought them scrambled eggs with pieces of venison stirred into the eggs. 'Good morning, you two.' She greeted them. 'Hope you slept well.' 'We did, and thanks so much for letting us use the sleeping bags.' Abby replied. 'Don't mention it. They're extras and we didn't think the blankets would be warm enough. With a smile, she turned and went back into the tent[...]"
All those repeated words could definitely make the writing feel clunky at times.
A few key plot points happened way too quickly for my liking - not even teenagers fall in love THAT fast:
" 'I know it's only been a couple of days since we met,' he struggled quietly. 'But I've never felt this way about anybody before I met you. I think I love you...' "
And there was at least one full blown emo explosion:
"Civilization was lost, and his sorrow at the magnitude of that loss was an anchor dragging his emotions into a yawning black abyss within the depths of his soul."
I had to titter inwardly at that, because if this:
...had a baby, that paragraph would be it.
So because, I laughed, that wasn't so much a bad thing.
But for all my griping over technical details (and you know I love to gripe about that shit) I was totally enthralled by this book. Like, couldn't stop reading at 3AM enthralled. I really felt that the protagonist was making normal, realistic decisions, as opposed to majorly stupid ones ("Don't go into the basement alone, sexy teen! Christ!") or unbelievably heroic ones ("Don't try to save that couple, military guy! They're zombie chow! Christ!").
And somehow, the author created a totally unique zombie story. Literally, I've never read any zombie literature like this. And while I think the author rushed the romance a bit, he introduced the supernatual bit PERFECTLY. I'm itching (even though there's a cream for that) to read the next book because I want to see where that goes, and really, I'd just kind of like to see where the characters go from where they left off.
I liked them, and I liked this book.
June 28, 2012
Adam & Olivia
Olivia is a regular Joe (regular Jane?) who wants to be a writer. Adam is a Vampire that wants Olivia's blood. And an encounter in the park leads them to a less than average boy-meets-girl scenario...
Martin Lastrapes creates openers like a seasoned pro - his first line in this short was no exception:
"Adam first sucked Olivia's blood in the sandbox of Heritage Park..."
How do you not keep reading?! These few words are more visceral and disturbing than some entire novels. Lastrapes is a skilled writer, no doubt about it. Or, as we Canadians like to say, no doot aboot it:
Adam & Olivia was definitely a good read, but I take issue with one thing. While Adam is well drawn and intriguing, Olivia is laid out with so many intimate details in a short period of time that I feel like I'm on a awkward first date with a former fat girl who blossomed recently but has no social skills and she's spilled her life story to me before I've even gotten her to the restaurant.
Not that I wouldn't still do her, but c'mon Olivia, slow down! Can't we have some meaningless chitchat before you tell me about your dysfunctional upbringing and your hopes and dreams?
Hey, it's a personal preference that I like to get to know my protagonists over the course of a few chapters, or even a whole book, but it's still a preference nonetheless.
Adam, on the other hand, is pretty fuckin' dialed, and I want to find more out about him. See, Olivia? THIS is how you do a first date! Give me the main points, surprise me (but not with VD) and leave me wanting more.
But maybe don't assault me.
Hell, I'm sure there's a happy medium between the two.
June 28, 2012
Rusty doesn't want to be like his father; he works too much, treats his wife like garbage, and treats Rusty even worse. But now there's an even better reason for Rusty to try not to end up like his father, and he's about to find out why...
I'd life to start off by thanking the Flying Spaghetti Monster for nudging Martin Lastrapes into writing in my favorite genre.
I feel the same way about Lastrapes as I do Stephen King (who happens to be my #1 favorite author and recipient of my reading-related Lady Boner) which is basically this: any writer who is mega talented and creative AND writes the nasty stuff will have my full undivided support. And the comparisons don't end there. I honestly believe that Lastrapes could be the next Stephen King. No lie.
His way with words is so damn engrossing you forget where you are and just plunge into the story... which makes for a raucous upset when it's actually over.
Lastrapes also has a knack (like King) for finding horror in everyday situations - turning over commonplace occurrences and finding the nastiness underneath. So I suppose you can see why new reading material is kind of an event here.
I liked Footsteps - first, because it surprised me (he didn't go for the obvious twist, instead throwing us something completely out of left field). Second, because I LOVED the protagonist. Not in the weird "I'm going to marry the Eiffel Tower" kind of way:
But more like "Damn, that's a well done character" kind of way. Rusty was seemingly normal, but just a little (or maybe a lot, depending on your judgement) fuckin' odd. Which is not only endearing (I like 'em a little fucked up) but also realistic; we're all a little mad here.
I think the real draw of Footsteps though (and Lastrapes' work in general) is the skill in which small details are rendered, making a finely drawn snippet of life... albeit the darker side of life.
Read Footsteps. Read Inside the Outside. Hell, track down Lastrapes' grocery lists if you can find them - he's THAT good.