Let the Right One In
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Publication Date: 10/28/08
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Blurb (GR): It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last---revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.
But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door---a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night. . . .
I can't even find the words to describe how much I LOVED this novel. But let me start by warning Twilight lovers that this book is not about sexy sparkly vampires and teenage love. If you are not ready to read about ugly realities of human life, do not open this book.
It is not an easy book to read. The story is complex and involves many characters, whose presence sometimes is just momentary. The action moves from one character to another very quickly. But once you understand the pace and get used to foreign names, the story consumes you.
I will not relay the plot here, if you want to know what exactly the book is about, there are many reviews here that describe the story well. What I am going to say is that this is simply the best vampire novel I've ever read. Yes, I am putting it higher even than legendary Bram Stoker's "Dracula." This story is so much more complex and interesting in a way that not only does it show vampires from the point of view of their victims, but it also shows the world through the eyes of the vampires. We find out how very often innocent people become those feared monsters, we go through the transformation with them, we feel their guilt and shame, we learn about their relationships with their "Guardians" (who sometimes are worse monsters than vampires themselves).
But this book is not only about vampires, it explores the world of adolescent boys (the world I know nothing about). Surprisingly, I found out how important presence of a father in a boy's life. Without the guidance a love of a father, boys are lost to violence and abuse.
With all the horridness described in this book, it is strangely full of love and tenderness, understanding and forgiveness.
I highly recommend this book. You simply will not be able to walk away untouched by it.
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.
Darkfever (Fever, #1)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Publication Date: 10/31/06
MacKayla Lane’s life is good. She has great friends, a decent job, and a car that breaks down only every other week or so. In other words, she’s your perfectly ordinary twenty-first-century woman.
Or so she thinks…until something extraordinary happens.
When her sister is murdered, leaving a single clue to her death–a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone–Mac journeys to Ireland in search of answers. The quest to find her sister’s killer draws her into a shadowy realm where nothing is as it seems, where good and evil wear the same treacherously seductive mask. She is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to learn how to handle a power she had no idea she possessed–a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae….
As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho, a man with no past and only mockery for a future. As she begins to close in on the truth, the ruthless Vlane–an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women–closes in on her. And as the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book–because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control of the very fabric of both worlds in their hands…Review:
I started this book to see what all the hoopla was about on Goodreads. People are crazy for it! After reading the first installment, I can totally see why that is. I fell into the storyline extremely quickly and devoured the book in two days. (I would've read it in one sitting if I'd had the time!)
While I thoroughly enjoy most urban fantasy-type books (I don't want to pigeonhole this book into any one category--it truly has a lot of...well, a lot of genres:)), I found it refreshing that Karen Marie Moning
left out most of the fluff. I'm sick of reading about "nice vampires" and romantic interludes with all sorts of supernatural beings. This book has a little romance but, for the most part, those storylines are left open for the later books in the series. At least, I hope they are played out later. *crosses fingers*
And don't get me wrong, Moning definitely leaves in some fluffier elements. MacKayla Lane is a girly-girl to the max but I also found that refreshing considering the number of kickass-perfect-at-everything-and-not-concerned-with-looks heroines in urban fantasy books. I found her less annoying than Sookie Stackhouse and, while they both make tons of ridiculous decisions, I didn't mind Mac's because they led to such well-written fight scenes and descriptions of crazy-ass monsters. Speaking of the monsters and the entire cast of characters, I wish this book series was a TV show or movie--I'd love to see an imagining of this world!
Anyway, I don't want to beat a dead horse--there are tons of good reviews already for this book and now you know I feel pretty much the same way as the majority. And you spent 30 seconds figuring that out:)
On to the next! (which I have on hold at the library:) Yay!)
P.S. Once upon a time, an idiotic American girl went to Ireland. (Don't get your panties in a bunch, the girl is me, not Mac) Upon arrival with her friends, she left her purse in a taxi cab with lots of money and her passport. (Yes, I am that stupid). At the hostel, the front desk people were adamant that the driver would bring it back. Wha-wha-wha-whaaaat? And you know what? HE DID at the end of his shift. (I know, right?) Anyway, the point of this is that I did not believe all these meanies were running around Ireland. From my trips there, I can tell you that everyone is beyond nice!
Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampires, #4)
Author: Chloe Neill
Publisher: NAL Trade
Times are hard for newly minted vampire Merit. Ever since shapeshifters announced their presence to the world, humans have been rallying against supernaturals--and they're camping outside of Cadogan House with protest signs that could turn to pitchforks at any moment. Inside its doors, things between Merit and her Master, green-eyed heartbreaker Ethan Sullivan are ... tense. But then the mayor of Chicago calls Merit and Ethan to a clandestine meeting and tells them about a violent vamp attack that has left three women missing. His message is simple: get your House in order. Or else.
Merit needs to get to the bottom of this crime, but it doesn't help that she can't tell who's on her side. So she secretly calls in a favor from someone who's tall, dark, and part of underground vamp group that may have some deep intel on the attack. Merit soon finds herself in the heady, dark heart of Chicago's supernatural society--a world full of vampires who seem too ready to fulfill the protesting human's worst fears, and a place where she'll learn that you can't be a vampire without getting a little blood on your hands...Review:
Holy curveball, Batman! As I was nearing the end of this book, I kept thinking, “Oh, I totally know what the crazy jawdropper at the end of this book is going to be. Come on people, duhhh” as I paged through the windup. NOPE, it turns out this book just wiped that smug look off my face. I will put spoilers in this review where spoilers are due but LISTEN UP, COMPULSIVE SPOILER CLICKERS/READERS!! If you click on the spoilers and intend to read this book, you might as well get a Flannery-shaped voodoo doll so you can stick it with pins because I will have totally ruined your reading experience. You heard it here first.
So anyway, if you have been following this series, you might want to reread Twice Bitten
before reading this one. There is a rather large cast of characters in this series and while I remembered the names for the most part, I couldn’t completely remember everyone’s history and their personalities…of course, that could have something to do with me frantically reading all three published books in two days around Christmastime. Either way, I bet your enjoyment would be greatly increased if you didn’t have the memory jogging to do. As it is, this book picks up almost directly after the ending of its predecessor. (obviously I can’t recount that ending as it is a huge spoiler)
The writing is consistent with other installments of the series, which is pretty refreshing considering how other series I read have been increasingly disappointing or just feel like filler. While they all have airs of political feuds in them, the theme is much more present in this one and I wasn’t the hugest fan. I mean, let’s be honest here. Are we in the cone of silence? Okay, we all know one of the biggest, if not THE biggest reason we read series like this is for all the hot guys and *fingers crossed* sexy times. I’ll read about power struggles or solving mysteries but for a series like this one, I’m always hoping for some hotness. Aaaaand , this one is sadly light on it. As it is on Mallory and Catcher, whom I’ve come to really enjoy. I felt like their storyline was rather unnecessary to the overall book and it felt like they were there only to provide readers the reminder that they are, in fact, huge characters in the series. Did anyone else feel this way? Maybe it was just me. It was just too much power struggle and not enough fun, friendships, romance, etc. There was ass-kicking, though, which is always great.
I am rather embarrassingly in love with the idea of vampire Houses and the whole fraternity/sorority feel of all the different Chicagoland (and otherwise) groups of vampires. While reading, I daydream about what kind of house would be the coolest to be a part of—then I push up my metaphorical nerd glasses and wonder how it is I even have any friends:) Anyway, other books in the series gave us an understanding of the Cadogan (obviously) and Navarre houses, but this one lets us in on Grey House and I have to say, it sounds pretty choice. I’d definitely want to be hanging out with them in their sweet pad.
And then come my annoyances: ***SPOILER ALERT***
You know that love interest? That guy you’ve been rooting for for several books? The one who has super sexy awesomeness with Merit in the last book? Well, Chloe Neill brings him out of nowhere into a fight in the last 10 pages and then stakes him a few sentences later. WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT? I’m not going to say I’m annoyed that he was killed—it’s okay with me. I’m excited to see where the series will go from here--I’m just a bit disappointed at the execution and how much was done in the last 15 or so pages. And speaking of that, her dad is such an asshole! As is Darius. I wish characters had less of that stuff, what do you call them? Oh, morals. I wish someone would’ve just staked that bastard and Celina from the get-go. Jeez, where are the vigilantes when you need them? ;-) Also, Morgan is hot but a douche, and Jonah’s room sounds awesome. I’d hit that.***END SPOILERS***
All in all, I still really enjoyed this one. Fun times in Chicagoland!