Working Stiff (Revivalist, #1)
Author: Rachel Caine
Publication Date: 8/2/11
Publisher: RocBlurb (GR):
Bryn Davis knows working at Fairview Mortuary isn't the most glamorous career choice, but at least it offers stable employment--until she discovers her bosses using a drug that resurrects the clientele as part of an extortion racket. Now, Bryn faces being terminated--literally, and with extreme prejudice.
Wit the help of corporate double-agent Patrick McCallister, Bryn has a chance to take down the bigger problem--pharmaceutical company Pharmadene, which treats death as the ultimate corporate loyalty program. She'd better do it fast, before she becomes a zombie slave--a real working stiff. She'd be better off dead...Review:
There are some kindred spirits working at TNT/TBS/USA who choose which movies to show regularly on the weekends. It's like they somehow know that I will ALWAYS watch Overboard, What About Bob?, Hook, Father of the Bride, and about a billion other movies--and there must be tons more people just like me that regularly think about dressing up as Bob Wiley for Halloween every year because why else would they be showing the same movies unless people are watching them? Death Becomes Her, which you may or may not remember as MY FAVORITE MERYL STREEP MOVIE EVER EVEN INCLUDING HER MANY AWARD-WINNING PERFORMANCES, is always on basic cable on the weekends...and I pretty much know it by heart. It is just so bizarre, I mean, Bruce Willis, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, and Isabella Rossellini in a movie about two women dueling over a balding mortician and then taking a potion to life forever? That's pure cinematic gold. I saw Rachel Caine at an event last weekend
and you can't really tell by looking at someone but I'm pretty sure she also likes Death Becomes Her. Evidence:
Question 1: Did you die at some point? If yes, move on to question 2. If no, congratulations! You are alive!
Question 2: Are you somehow still walking around and "living" to a varying degree? If yes, congratulations (?), you are a zombie!
Some people might say that you need to be craving brains to be a zombie. Then again, some people think bands like Nickelback and Creed make good music. Bryn, the MC of this book, dies and is subsequently revived by a chemical compound that must be taken daily to maintain her zombie, oops, I mean revived person's body. I know what you're thinking here--that's hot. You totally would be attracted to an animated, walking, talking, thinking corpse, right? Wait...something's not right here. We had a discussion at book club about whether or not the romantic element in this book was off-putting and it totally was to me BUT it is mostly for one reason and surprisingly, it isn't because Bryn is revived. Patrick sees her die. He sees her as a dead body. He sees her beat up, shot, and basically mangled and then sees her tissue regrowing in front of him. Um, that's gross. That is a constant reminder that the person you are looking at is artificially alive. Necrophilia is so in right now. I couldn't truly get on board with it in this particular book but she does basically live a normal life so I'm not ruling out romance with some future guy who doesn't know she's dead (SPOILER ALERT FOR HIM! "Hey, I've been meaning to tell you...I can't have kids." "Oh, is it something genetic?" "Meh, actually I'm a reanimated corpse. No biggie.")
Overall, the mystery and intrigue were entertaining and the series started off with enough world-building and quirky characters that I'll come back for more. (*cough*some of the side characters are more interesting than the main girl*cough*) Since Bryn was in the military, I expected much more badassery to be happening but she gets punched out pretty regularly. Perhaps she'll really come into her zombie self in future Revivalist series books? Until then, you can most likely find me watching What About Bob? on repeat...
I haven't fully signed on for the new zombie love story trend in books and I'm sure many people would try to argue with me about the main character in this book not being a zombie, so here's a quick two-question quiz to find out if you are a zombie:
The Hellbound Heart
Author: Clive Barker
Publication Date: 1986
Publisher: HarperCollinsBlurb (Amazon):
Frank Cotton's insatiable appetite for the dark pleasures of pain led him to the puzzle of Lemarchand's box, and from there, to a death only a sick-minded soul could invent. But his brother's love-crazed wife, Julia, has discovered a way to bring Frank back—though the price will be bloody and terrible . . . and there will certainly be hell to pay. Review:
I'm assuming everyone in the world has seen the last Harry Potter movie? This isn’t a spoiler but there is this part in the movie where Voldemort is in some place that looks like a train station and he looks like a cross between some sort of fetus and a seahorse. When I saw it with my friends, we were all wondering what the frak we were looking at…in fact, it is pretty safe to say that I am still wondering a few months later. So I know Clive Barker wrote this novella decades before HP7p1 would come out but nevertheless, the movie impacted my reading enjoyment. Why? Because a man in The Hellbound Heart
is trying to become more flesh and bone (just like good ol’ Voldy) and needs blood to do so. As he becomes more substantial there is a period of time where all I could picture was some weird-looking seahorse thing flapping around in a corner. This is supposed to scare me? Mission NOT accomplished. Also, Barker went out of his way to mention one of the victims’ saggy, gray underwear before he dies. I was more disgusted by the saggy briefs than the murder.
I feel a bit foolish that I didn’t know the movie Hellraiser
was based on this novella until my book club buddy told me at our meeting. Because I read an e-version rather than the DTB, I didn’t have the benefit of all the creepy drawings. (Tip #1: Read the DTB. Actually there is only one tip.) I said to my friends, “Hey! That picture looks like that guy Pinhead from that horror movie!” Cue the cricket noises. Considering how short this work is (around 125 pages), Barker really packs a punch of a story. The brevity of the work really limits characterization and plot development. It felt like I was walking down a cafeteria line and just looking at all the things I could have but then never taking a bite of any of it. What kind of woman would just start killing people to feed blood to the demonish presence that may or may not be her brother-in-law with whom she had a rape-and-if-not-rape-certainly-rapey experience with before her wedding? Who the hell moves into a house where one room is totally dank and seemingly haunted? Who disposes of bodies and/or bags of bones by just tossing them in the spare room? Who finds a crazy-ass box in a haunted house and just starts playing around with it? (because that can only have GOOD results, right?) I just had to stop typing for a second to laugh at the memory of us rehashing the plot of this novella at book club. Here’s the lowdown:
Was it scary? No.
Am I an idiot for not realizing Hellraiser was based on this book? Yes.
Do I recommend it to horror lovers? Meh, not really.
Was it worth the read? Yes, for the weirdness.
Do I want to watch the movie now? Yes, if only to see if there is a seahorse fetus scene.
Postmortem (Kay Scarpetta, #1)
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Publication Date: 1/1/90
Blurb (GR): Under cover of night in Richmond, Virginia, a human monster strikes, leaving a gruesome trail of stranglings that has paralyzed the city. Medical examiner Kay Scarpetta suspects the worst: a deliberate campaign by a brilliant serial killer whose signature offers precious few clues. With an unerring eye, she calls on the latest advances in forensic research to unmask the madman. But this investigation will test Kay like no other, because it's being sabotaged from within and someone wants her dead.
In terms of the plot, I was entertained throughout. I wasn't sure whodunit until the big reveal and I suspected, as I'm supposed to, several side characters along the way. Cornwell definitely knows the building blocks to a successful medical crime thriller. It is easy to tell that she comes from the medical side of things and those were definitely my favorite parts of the book--the autopsies, discussions of injuries, etc. The least successful (read: most annoying) sections of the book for me were Kay Scarpetta's interactions with her precocious niece. Evidently her niece is the Doogie Howser of the computer hacking world but without his boyish charm. (and lab coat)
The book is entertaining but it didn't do much for me overall. I will keep going in this series though because my dear friend Maja is in love with it and I think it will get better as I get out of the dated technology era. I bet I would really enjoy this if I read it in twenty years!
At this point, I'm just going to rehash a few plot points for people who may have forgotten. As I keep following series for years (I'm on number thirtysomething with Eve Dallas!), I realize how much I forget about early books. This will serve as a reminder to me (and you?) about the events of book one in this series. Don't read on if you don't want to absolutely spoil the book!
Several women are murdered by someone with a glittery substance on their hands. The perpetrator comes in through open windows. Simultaneously, Kay is near-raped by her psuedo-boyfriend, who'd done something similar to the local newswoman. (whose sister ends up being the last victim) Though she and Marino suspect a few other people first, Kay figures out that the link between all the women is that they'd all called 911 weeks/months before their murder for minor things. The 911 operator is the killer. The glittery substance was borax-based cleanser at his work that he used all the time because he had some random syndrome that made him smell like maple syrup all the time. (seriously) At the end, Kay's niece leaves her window open and the rapist gets in and is going to kill Kay but Marino arrives and shoots him before he can.
I loved the 1990s. There was great television, Pogs, scrunchies, and the Pittsburgh Penguins were amazing at hockey. (obviously Jaromir Jagr's mullet contributed a significant amount to this last part) And although I totally loved playing Seventh Guest, Oregon Trail, Carmen Sandiego, and the like on our old Macs, I'm happy with the advancements in technology. Okay, moving on, I also love crime novels. When they are set in ye oldey times, I get caught up in the story, seeing how Sherlock could deduce his way to victory. Or when they are set in the future, I like seeing Eve Dallas use new-fangled technology to find her man. (Or woman. Or robot!) Even when books are set in current times, or in the past few years, it's great! BUT Postmortem lies in the bottom of awkward valley for me at the moment. I read over and over and over about how "maybe" someone should change their words-only password on a networked computer and how "secure" the network was. Every time I read about dialing in from home to a network that was left in answer mode, I could hear the dial up noise in my head...and how grating is that? (Side note: do kids today even know what a dial-up noise is? I feel old.) I'm sure, nay, positive that I will enjoy the Scarpetta books further down the line as technology catches up but I was frustrated throughout this novel. There was many a dramatic eye roll and "Oh, brother" muttered. The printer paper still had those holey side parts and DNA evidence was new. They spend at least half of the book talking about some glittery substance and I couldn't figure out why they didn't just test it to figure out what it was. (Did I miss something here? Why couldn't they do chemical testing?)