Wednesday, December 21, 2011

When BSG Strikes

The folks over at Portlandia know how consuming BSG is. And yes if Ron Moore lived here I would hunt him down and force him to make more. Or he could just come out with a new show already.



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Game of Thrones Season 2 Teaser

Here is your Tuesday Trailer for the week. Not a movie but I am about as excited to see Season 2 as I am other geeky goods.



Is it time yet?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Legend Ends



Reason #53662 why this Summer is going to rock. Oh Bane.

White Cat

White Cat

Written by: Holly Brook
Hardcover: 320 pages

Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books

Language: English

May 2010, $17.99

Genre: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy



Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they're all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn't got the magic touch, so he's an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He's noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he's part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.


+++++++++++++

I love books I can relate to. Sometimes it is a character, a plot point, a way of speaking or acting, or even a setting. I first discovered Holly Black when a friend gave me Tithe for my birthday. I loved it because it was set in New Jersey and South Jersey is where I graduated high school many moons ago. The Pine Barrens was where I spent my teenage years and frequent visits to the Popcorn Zoo down the road made my summers enjoyable. So I will always have a fondness for Holly Black because of where her Modern Faerie Tale series took place. Not only was it a great series but I could imagine her world full of A&Ps and Wawas just with some fey mixed in. It made the stories that more real and of course my imagination was a very happy camper.

I had been eyeing White Cat for a while now after YA Book Club is over and we browse the shelves for our next pick. It was my turn again to pick and I prayed it would be better than Eyes Like Stars which was just bad. The cover was meh, but I liked the back blurb. Like Leverage but with Hands of Power. I think I was drawn to it because there weren’t your average urban fantasy staples. There are no werewolves, vampires, or zombies. There is magic, in a sense, but a whole new alternative history to go with it.

Holly Black colors a world where a small portion of the population is a bit special. They are gifted with certain abilities that are transferred by touch. Some can give you luck or take it away, others involve emotions, physical which involves pain or healing, dreams, memory, death and the most rare of all transmutation. While Curse Work is banned in the USA, curse workers are mostly involved within the Mafia as muscle, as con artists, etc. After all when who you are is essentially illegal it is not hard to imagine that you go underground and begin to hang with everything else that no one talks about but still exists. Outfits like the Mafia have turned curse workers into something to be feared and why wouldn’t you be when a single brush of a finger could turn your heart into stone or make you forget your life. There are protections such as gloves, gloves, gloves or charms and amulets made of stone that become null once you have been worked.


Cassel Sharpe grew up in this world. He’s a con artist like the rest of his family, a bookie by trade at his posh boarding school. But Cass isn’t like the rest of the family. He isn’t a curse worker. But he does have secrets of his own, like the fact that he killed his best friend when he was fourteen and that not only did his family cover up the murder but that she was the daughter of the head of the Zacharov family. When Cassel wakes up from a nearly suicidal bout of sleepwalking he is sent home, but he can’t get a dream out of his head, one where he was chasing a white cat but said cat may want to kill him or tell him something important. 

Life at home is interesting. His mom is still in jail for having worked an influential person, his father is dead, his grandfather seems a bit crazy and his two brothers are acting odd around him. Something isn’t right. As Cassel’s world begins to both crumble and be far more illuminated than he ever thought, Cass discovers that sometimes the worst con of all is the one that is being played on you.



Things I loved: As always, spoilers ahead so be wary if you have not yet read the book. 

One thing I really like about Holly Black is I think that she times and effort into thinking about the world she creates and how things work in that world. For example though magic is called curse work there are rules to it. Not only is magic uncommon, but it has its price when used. Think you can just make someone forget their life without a bit of blowback forcing you into early Alzheimer’s? There are also ways to tell whether you will be a curse worker, something scientific in fact and once you are known to be a worker, the fact that you have to register. The charms, which may give some protection, only work once and specific charms only work against specific curses. Once you’ve been worked, they break and you are off to find another charm. I like all of these because it keeps her world balanced. So even if you do have the power to transform anything and anyone, it is not without some pretty severe consequences.

But I absolutely love the idea that a touch could be so dangerous. And how that simple fact affects your world as well. I am a toucher. When I talk to someone I usually touch them. For me it forms a connection, the I’m talking to you’ not ‘At you’ sort of thing. Plus it calms me. Touch is taboo in this world. It has to be when a simple brush of someone’s fingertips could make you fall in love or kill you. Imagine how deadly an assassin could be by just brushing a stranger in a crowded street. Scary. Awesome. 


Holly Black does well with a male protagonist and his wife. Sometimes it is glaringly obvious when a writer tries to write a character of the opposite sex. They do or say things that aren’t quite right. I never felt that way with Cassel or even his brothers. In fact I loved the relationship dynamics between Cass and both his brothers and the rest of his family. Family can be quite complicated and like all relationships whether family or otherwise there is definitely some manipulations that occur. How twisted those manipulations may be remains to be seen. But back to Cass. I loved that Cass is a flawed character. After all, he is a con man. But at the core he is a good person and one that you root for in the end. As a teen he makes mistakes. He can be selfish, says and does things without thinking and of course he tries to do everything himself without the aid of others even if it is dangerous. That makes him human and all the more real.

Of course anyone who is into fairytales, legends, folklore and such will see the White Cat connections, but I love how Holly Black made it her own. I also really loved some of the small little things in the book that were just memorable: a house that was obviously that of a hoarder, Sam’s biodiesel hearse (may I have this please?), Cassel’s thoughts sometimes, etc. Also I kind of want to hug Barron a lot. Once you’ve read it, you’ll understand. Plus Cass’s grandfather is just cool. Hitman by night, cranky old grandpa who makes you mow the lawn and take out the trash when you spend summers with him by day. 


Things I didn't love so much: I did have a few problems with this book, but they are minor enough that it didn’t make me obsess or dislike the book. I was disappointed in how clueless Cass was because as a reader I think we see the plot twists coming a mile away. In fact the moment you bring up transmutation, I knew. But then I remember that I have not been manipulated like Cass has. We rely so much on our memories to tell us how the world works, on our relationships, on our lives as a whole. However, if someone tampered with those precious things are you really to blame to not see things the way the rest of the world may see it. Especially when it comes from family, the one place where you should feel absolutely safe? I think I let these little things slide because the story and Cassel’s character as a whole is so engaging that you scoff and move on. There were still some turns I didn’t see coming though.



Yet, I really would love for there to be a normal character who excels in a world where everyone is paranormal. I would have loved for Cass to just be the norm he wanted to be. Perhaps that is why the reader sees something from a mile away because we know that there has to be something extraordinary about Cassel. We know that he isn’t just a normal and because that is stuck in our heads we see the twists and turns even if our protagonist doesn’t. It’s a minor gripe though, but in YA urban fantasy I really just want to be surprised by author’s choices, to be different in small subtle ways. Meh.

And of course you cannot help but not like the majority of the characters. They are not nice people. Hard to root for a family who is willing to prey on their own. 


Buy or Borrow: Buy if you like Holly Black and her other titles. I enjoyed it and its staying in the Smirking library.

Part of: A series.
Book One: White Cat

Book Two: Red Glove

Book Three: Black Heart



Also Recommended: If you liked this please read Holly Blacks Modern Faerie Tale series beginning with Tithe. There is also a great anthology of her short stories called The Poison Eaters.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

An Addiction

I love books. As I am sure most of you do as well. So there have been two major events this year which have made my to be read pile grow exponentially. One of them was the closing down of my local Borders. The other one was Sunday in which the local library had a fill your own bag with as many books as you can carry and all for a mere $2. I filled three bags. The books were:



01. The Secrets of the Fire King by Kim Edwards
02. Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff
03. Kindred by Octavia E Butler

04. Are You There Vodka? Its Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler
05. Blue Bloods by Melissa De La Cruz
06. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
07. The Boleyn Inheritance by Philippa Gregory
08. Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
09. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
10. Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

11. The Most Beautiful Book in the World by Eric Emmanuel Schmitt
12. Artemisia by Alexandra LaPierre

13. The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
14. Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay
15. Return of the Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley
16. Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
17. Innocent in Death by JD Robb
18. Barrel Fever by David Sedaris
19. A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
20. One Day by David Nicholls
21. X-Files – Ruins by Kevin J Anderson
22. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd
23. Size 12 is Not Fat by Meg Cabot
24. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
25. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
26. Every Boy’s Got One by Meg Cabot
27. The Alien Invasion Survival Handbook by WH Mumfrey
28. Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore
29. Blameless by Gail Carriger
30. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
31. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
32. Bone by Fae Myenne Ng
33. Monster Island by Christopher Golden and Thomas Sniegoski
34. Revelations by Melissa De La Cruz
35. Devil Bones by Kathy Reichs
36. Bloodline by F Paul Wilson
37. Origin in Death by JD Robb
38. Revolt of the Dwarves by Rose Estes


Total Books: 38

List Price on Books: $550.27

Total Spent: $6
Hells yeah!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Muppets: A Review

The Muppets (2011)
Directed By: James Bobin
Written By: Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Genre: FAMILY
Time: 1 hr 43 min
Starring: Amy Adams, Jason Segel, Chris Cooper, Jack Black, and of course the Muppets
Plot: With the help of three fans, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon.

Comments: It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights. I am a child of the eighties and so I grew up on the Muppets and all things Jim Henson. I would have been Jareth’s bride in a second especially if Ludo could be my friend within the Labyrinth and I loved the Mythology brought to life in the Storyteller. Of course Fizgig should have been my own little terrifying puppy creature from The Dark Crystal though please let there not be any Skeksis. Sesame Street taught me a variety of things as a child. And finally Kermit and friends made me laugh, made me dream, and let my imagination soar. Jim Henson’s Muppets have always been there even into modern day with my beloved Farscape. But there has always been a very special place for Kermit, Beaker, Animal and even Miss Piggy. They are the Muppets after all. How can you not just love them all to pieces?


I remember watching The Muppet Show with my mom, singing to the opening theme grinning like a small idiot. I may not have recognized all of the superstar hosts, but it didn’t matter. I have the first two seasons of the Muppet Show on DVD, along with the movies save for Treasure Island and Muppets from Space. The Bohemian Rhapsody cover is watched whenever I am in a bad mood and now I cannot sing it without doing Animals part (Maaamaaa! Mama?) and I bought the Green Album last month with all of its covers of classic Muppet songs. And let’s face it Emmett Otter is kind of a Christmas staple in my house. 

There is something about the Muppets. It’s the happy feeling you get after watching. With the Muppets there is hope. And one thing that is great is that the Muppets haven’t changed. Statler and Waldorf are still cantankerous, Fozzie still tells horrible jokes and Miss Piggy still loves Kermie. Even though this film was probably to introduce a whole new generation to the Disney channel generation of the wonder that is the Muppets, I think it was really for kids like me who still refuse to grow up and know all of the lyrics to the Rainbow Connection. The movie is a giant trip through nostalgia and it certainly jerks on the heart strings a bit (especially when Kermit is going through his rolodex and trying to get a guest star only realizing that many of his old human friends have moved on, forgotten about them, or simply passed away). I love Jason Segal for being such a Muppets fan and bringing them back to me and not just because he is Marshall on HIMYM.


While the film is a little slow to get going, it is a fun roller coaster ride of nostalgia after that. I like Walter and even in the opening scenes when he quickly discovers, as he grows up, that he is not quite like his brother I kind of dig him. The songs that are thrown in throughout the film are fun as well and while Muppet or a Man doesn’t really hold a candle to Its Not Easy Being Green, I found myself singing along with the chorus. Then again I am one of those odd sing in the shower, in my car, and whenever else I can types. Just kooky that way.


Like many my age who have seen this film and loved it to pieces it was everything I was hoping it to be and a little more that I didn’t realized I needed or wanted. I left the theatre with a giant smile on my face singing Mahna Mahna. My day was complete. I left a happy lady. I think you will too if you love the Muppets still. It was great to see the gang again. Lets hope it wont be another decade before we see them again. 


Rent/Cinema?: Go see it on the big screen. Worth the money. Definitely worth owning as far as I am concerned. 


4/4 popcorns

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Immortals: a Film Review

Immortals (2011)
Directed By: Tarsem Singh
Written By: Charley Palapanides, Vlas Parlapanides
Genre: ACTION/FANTASY/DRAMA
Time: 1 hr 49 min
Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto and Luke Evans
Plot: Eons after the Gods won their mythic struggle against the Titans, a new evil threatens the land. Mad with power, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) has declared war against humanity. Amassing a bloodthirsty army of soldiers disfigured by his own hand, Hyperion has scorched Greece in search of the legendary Epirus Bow, a weapon of unimaginable power forged in the heavens by Ares. Only he who possesses this bow can unleash the Titans, who have been imprisoned deep within the walls of Mount Tartaros since the dawn of time and thirst for revenge. In the king's hands, the bow would rain destruction upon mankind and annihilate the Gods. But ancient law dictates the Gods must not intervene in man's conflict. They remain powerless to stop Hyperion...until a peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill) comes forth as their only hope. Secretly chosen by Zeus, Theseus must save his people from Hyperion and his hordes. Rallying a band of fellow outsiders-including visionary priestess Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and cunning slave Stavros (Stephen Dorff)-one hero will lead the uprising, or watch his homeland fall into ruin and his Gods vanish into legend.

Comments: There were a few things I had a grasp on before going into this film. One: Tarsem Singh makes pretty movies and his costumes are lovely which is evident if you have seen either The Fall or The Cell. And Two: Knowing your Greek myths are about as relevant as they were with the Clash of the Titans remake. My expectations were fairly low. I expected to ogle Henry Cavill’s abs, wonder why they let Mickey Rourke be in films, and completely understand why Zeus got so much play if he looked like Luke Evans. Basically I expected to be disappointed about the whole 3D thing and spending far too much money on something that really doesn’t occur and to be entertained by pretty people and pretty art direction. But I also expected the plot to be either convoluted or confusing, a lot of the whole slow-mo gore and again asking myself what Hollywood sees in Mickey Rourke.

I was entertained. I liked it. Call me weird. I am probably a small handful of people that would probably see it again. For those who do not know their Greek mythos this is probably a good thing. If it weren’t for a trident, you never would have been able to tell Kellan Lutz was Poseidon. And they definitely play it fast and loose with Theseus’s tale and yet I kinda dug it. It’s amazing how stories in just a few decades can grow and expand and grow into something legendary, let alone Greek mythos. So a Minotaur in the maze was a crazed bad guy with a bull’s head helmet. When Theseus brings out the head most would not see the human face beneath it even if they knew it to be true. Over time, you just leave out the human bits. It was a nice take on mythology, but maybe that is just me. 

I will say I love the costumes, which I know for some is going to be a big giant turnoff. Its Tarsem Singh style and I completely dug the Oracle costumes. I think probably the only distracting thing were the damn helmets for some of the Gods. Other than that they are just part of how visual Tarsem Singhs films are. Speaking of visuals…Henry Cavil is pretty. Had to say it.



The film does have its flaws, but not so many that I hated it. The casting is okay. As much as I love Stephen Dorff, his lines were laughable and I don’t think to the extent expected. Now let’s talk Mr. Rourke. Sure I am a fan of 9 ½ weeks and the Wrestler was okay, but the man phoned this one in. Hyperion lacks any depth to his character. He’s a bad guy. Whoopie. I don’t understand why? Mostly I see a lot of bigger bad asses as his henchmen while Hyperion does vaguely evil things and Mickey Rourke delivers flat dialogue. But Hyperion isn’t the only one who doesn’t make sense. We have oracles, but then we have a King who doesn’t believe in the Gods to such a point that I just rolled my eyes. I am not saying there aren’t some bad characterizations or glaring plot holes, but maybe there was enough to keep my senses happy campers. 



I know this film won’t be for everyone, but for me it was a guilty pleasure. I kinda dug it in the way that I dig Queen of the Damned or the Fright Night remake. Maybe I am just easily entertained. 



Rent/Cinema?: if you are a fan of Tarsem Singh’s films it is worth a matinee. Otherwise wait to see it when it comes to Redbox.


2.5/4 popcorns

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tuesday Trailers: Woman in Black

Woman in Black stars Daneil Radcliffe in a nice little creepy ghost story. I blame it on all the old dolls. It should be making its way into theatres in February 2012. What do you think? Going to put it in your to be Seen List?

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Local Habitation

A Local Habitation

Written by: Seanan McGuire

Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: DAW
Language: English
March 2010, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Series



October "Toby" Daye is a changeling, the daughter of Amandine of the fae and a mortal man. Like her mother, she is gifted in blood magic, able to read what has happened to a person through a mere taste of blood.


Half-human, half-fae, outsiders from birth, most changelings are second-class children of Faerie spending their lives fighting for the respect of their immortal relations. Toby is the only changeling who has earned knighthood, and she re-earns that position every day, undertaking assignments for her liege, Sylvester, the Duke of Shadowed Hills.


Now Sylvester has asked her to go to the County of Tamed Lightning—otherwise known as Fremont, California—to make sure that all is well with his niece, January O'Leary, whom he has not been able to contact. It seems like a simple enough assignment—but when dealing with the realm of Faerie, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. January runs a company that produces computer fantasy games, and her domain is a buffer between Sylvester's lands and a rival duchy whose ruler is looking for an opportunity to seize control. And that's the least of January's problems. For Tamed Lightning has somehow been cut off from the other fiefdoms, and now someone has begun to murder January's key people. If Toby can't find and stop the killer soon, she may well become the next victim...


+++++++++++++

Most people know that I am a sucker for everything fae. Maybe I just wanted to be a fairy princess when I was younger. Maybe I still do. Like I have said before I think it is largely due to my parents reading me and telling me stories of the Tuatha, of faerie lore and then Tinkerbell. Authors like Melissa Marr, Holly Black, Neil Gaiman, Charles de Lint, and Emma Bull make a girl like me happy. I love the political intrigue between the Courts. I like the myths and legends of the tales I was told when I was a child. Sadly though I have picked up Rosemary and Rue in the bookstore, I never picked it up and bought it. So when the Borders closed and I got my 80 book pile of goodies, I got Book Two and Three of Toby’s stories. I know, I know I suck for starting at the sequel rather than at the beginning. But hey, I really liked A Local Habitation, so am picking up the first one so all of my gaps of knowledge are no longer missing before I read An Artificial Night.

A Local Habitation begins half a year after Rosemary and Rue ends. October “Toby” Daye is relaxing and enjoying herself for once by hanging out with a few of her friends and imbibing far too much alcohol. One drunk Changeling. Check. See the lovely excerpt below to see how great Toby’s entrance is. So while Tybalt carries her home and she falls into a drunken stupor of sleep, she wakes up to find her vacation short lived when Sylvester Torquil, her liege lord, asks her to go and check on his niece January. Oh and Quentin, a foster of the Court gets to tag along. Simple job right? Except that when they get to January’s office, it becomes clear that everything is not all right. People are dying and dying in ways that even Toby cannot see with her blood magic. And the Night Haunts are not taking care of the bodies. A bit disturbing. It’s only a matter of time before someone else dies and it just might be Toby. 



Excerpt: Several pixies had congregated around a corner store’s front-porch bug zapper, using toothpicks as skewers for roasting a variety of insects. I stopped to watch them, taking the pause as an opportunity to get my balance back. One of them saw me looking and flitted over to hover in front of my nose, scowling.

“S’okay,” I informed it, with drunken solemnity. “I can see you.” It continued to hang there, expression turning even angrier. “No, really, it’s okay. I’m Dao…Dao…I’m a changeling.” Whoever was responsible for naming the fae races should really have put more thought into making them pronounceable when drunk.
It jabbed the toothpick in my direction. I blinked, perplexed.

“No, it’s okay. I don’t want any of your moth.”

“He’s offering to stab you, not feed you. I suppose the difference is trivial, but still, one assumes you’d want to avoid finding that out first-hand.” The voice behind me was smooth as cream and aristocratically amused. The pixie backpedaled in mid-air, nearly dropping his toothpick as he went racing back to the flock. They were gone in seconds, leaving nothing but faint trails of shimmering dust in the air.


“Hey!” I turned, crossing my arms and glaring. “I was talking to him!”


Tybalt eyed me with amusement, which just made me glare harder. “No, you were inciting him to stab you with a toothpick. Again, the difference is small, but I think it matters.”


My glare faded into bewilderment. “Why was he gonna stab me? I was just saying hi. And he came over here first. I wasn’t saying anything before he came over.”


“Finally, a sensible question.” Tybalt reached out to brush my hair back behind one ear, tapping it with the side of his thumb. “Round ears, blue eyes, smell of magic buried under the smell of alcohol…it’s the perfect disguise. Well done. Although it doesn’t suit you.”

My confusion didn’t fade.

Tybalt sighed. “You look human, October. He was protecting his flock.”


“I said I was a changeling!”


“And he, quite sensibly, didn’t believe you.”


“Oh!” I blinked, reddening. “Oops.” Then I frowned. “What do you mean, it doesn’t suit me? I like this skirt!”


Tybalt pulled his hand away, stepping back to study me. I returned the favor, looking him up and down.


As the local King of Cats and the most powerful Cait Sidhe in San Francisco, Tybalt rarely bothers to go anywhere that requires him to wear a human disguise. As far as I can tell, it’s not that he feels it’s beneath him; it’s just that he doesn’t care enough about the human side of the city to bother interacting with them. This was one of the few times I’d seen him passing for human, and he wore it well. Tall, lean, and angular, he held himself with a predatory air that would translate into feline grace when he moved. His dark brown hair was short, curly, and banded with streaks of black that mimicked the stripes on a tabby’s coat. The human illusion he wore concealed his sharpened incisors, pointed ears, and cat-slit pupils, but left his simple masculinity a little more noticeable than I liked. I tore my eyes away.


Saying that Tybalt and I have a complex relationship would be understating things just a tad. I endure his taunting because it’s easier than having my intestines removed by an angry Cait Sidhe. On top of all that, I owe him for services rendered following the murder of Evening Winterrose. Sadly, my being in debt to him encourages him to prod at me even more frequently. It’s getting to be a habit.


“The skirt passes muster,” said Tybalt, finishing his survey. “I might have called it a ‘belt’ rather than a ‘skirt,’ but I suppose you have the right to name your own clothing. While we’re on the subject of apparel, tell me, were you intending to walk all the way home in those shoes?”


“Maybe,” I hedged. The straps were starting to chafe my ankles, making walking even less comfortable than it had been to begin with, but he didn’t need to know that.


“You’re drunk, October.”


“And you’re wearing really tight pants.” I paused. That hadn’t come out right. “I mean, those are really nice pants. I mean…”


Crud.


Tybalt snorted. I glanced up to see him looking decidedly amused, shaking his head slowly from side to side. “Indeed. I don’t suppose you’d consider taking a taxi?”


“There aren’t any,” I said, feeling as if I’d won a battle with that stunning point of logic.


“Did you consider phoning for one? I understand they can be summoned.”


“Didn’t have a phone.”


“I see,” said Tybalt. “Well, as there are no taxis, and you have splendid reasons not to summon a taxi, and you are, in fact, drunk enough to be making comments about the tightness of my trousers, I believe it would be a good idea for me to escort you home.”


“I don’t need you to.”


“That’s nice,” said Tybalt, shrugging out of his jacket and draping it around my shoulders. “You look cold.”


“I’m not cold.” That was a lie—it was a nice night, but even the nicest night gets chilly after midnight in San Francisco. I pulled the jacket tight, trying to preserve the illusion of dignity. The leather smelled of Tybalt’s magic, all pennyroyal and musk. “I can get home just fine.”


“Of course you can,” Tybalt agreed, planting a hand on the small of my back and urging me to begin walking. “You are, after all, a perfectly reasonable, competent woman. It’s just that at the moment, you’re so drunk you can’t remember whether or not you’re wearing your own face, and I would really rather not scrape you off the sidewalk.”


His hand was a firm, insistent pressure. I began to walk, steadier now that I had something to lean against. “Nah, no sidewalk-scraping. You’d find me in an alley somewhere.”


“Probably true.”


You can read the full chapter online HERE.


Things I loved: I enjoyed McGuire’s writing style. I liked that she didn’t over describe settings and lets her reader fill in the blanks. I loved that each character was distinct which doesn’t happen a whole lot. April had her own style of dialogue as did Toby or even Quentin. This book was fast paced, fun and interesting and even though I did begin with Book Two I never felt lost. I just had gaps to fill and a bit more questions than those who had started at the beginning. In terms of plot, as someone who reads a lot of mysteries and watches equal amounts of said mysteries and thrillers, it wasn’t hard to figure out some of the plotting such as Alex and Terrie or even who the eventual killer was. And yet even though I figured out some of the plot twists and turns, I had fun doing it. Just because I had solved it, or thought I had solved it, I didn’t stop reading. It’s a great little ‘locked door’ mystery. There was a nice balance of action, mystery, character development, world building, etc. And as I said the pacing was nice.

I really like Toby. She’s a heroine that yes is a PI/Knight and that definitely has her fair share of snarky comments, is fairly normal. There are quite a few scenes in the book where we really get to see her vulnerability. She is not some overpowered changeling. She has the power to see how someone died through their blood. Blood magic isn’t really that high on the Fae power hierarchy. She is aware and understands her limitations, being both a Changeling and not being as powerful as her mother as a Blood Rider. But as I said she’s pretty normal. The fact that she didn’t immediately connect the dots on some things was frustrating, but it happens. It’s like solving the CSI murder before they all do and then wanting to know why they didn’t figure it out as quickly as you did. And I said, she has flaws, one big one…falling for and continuing to have a relationship with a married man. I enjoy these flaws though. I enjoy her relationship with Luidaeg, her guilt over Dare’s death (even though I don’t know who this Dare is quite yet), her relationship with Quentin, and how Toby will do anything to protect those she cares about. She is a great heroine that I look forward to reading more about. 



I loved the pronunciation guide. As a Celt it bugs me when things are mispronounced. So it is great that she is letting people know how to pronounce things. Yeah. Now people can understand why Bainsidhe is pronounced Banshee. Shiny gold star McGuire.



Things I didn't love so much: While I like Tybalt, he reminds me far too much of Curran from the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. There was even a ‘here kitty, kitty’ moment. So I guess instead of werewolves, we have werekitties being the go to shapeshifter species, although yes Tybalt is a Cait Sdhe, but you have to admit Curran and Kate have a lot in common with Tybalt and Toby. And also in my head Tybalt looks like John Leguizamo from Romeo + Juliet. I blame this largely on the name. I do like him though. And I love the interaction between Toby and the King of Cats even if it is a bit familiar. I will say that the way she describes cats is great whether they are faeries cats or not.

Admittedly I am a bit lost. Toby has a daughter? She was a fish for 14 years? How does she know Connor? So what’s the deal with Sylvester’s daughter? Etc, etc. This is largely due to my own fault for not picking up book one. Though I would think that there might be more mention or exploration with Toby and her daughter considering he circumstances with April and January. This would have been a great way to really develop that side. By the way loved April even though she reminded me of the creepy little girl hologram from Resident Evil. 



Buy or Borrow: Buy. But don’t start at the 2nd book like I did. 


Part of: A series. 

Book One: Rosemary and Rue

Book Two: A Local Habitation

Book Three: An Artificial Night

Book Four: Late Eclipses
Book Five: One Salt Sea

Also Recommended: Seanan McGuire also writes under the pen name of Mira Grant whose zombie apocalypse trilogy is one I cannot wait to read. For more Fae fun I would recommend Holly Blacks Modern Faerie Tale series as well as the series by Melissa Marr. War for the Oaks by Emma Bull is a fave and amittedly I do have a soft spot for Laurell K Hamilton's Merry Gentry series.

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Thursday, November 24, 2011

WEDNESDAY WHAT IF PART DEUX

HOLIDAY FAMILY PART TWO: Happy Turkey Day everyone. Day of gorging yourself with delicious food, watching the game, falling into food coma and then stupidly getting up 5 hours later in pitch black to go wait in line for 4 hours to get a cheap deal on electronics. Or in my case having dinner with my roomies family, then watching the game, falling into a food coma, playing some video games and then waking up not as early as those other schmoes but still early enough and buying things. Anyway, yesterday we had the regular version of your new family for Thanksgiving. This week, it is the family of film and fiction. Have fun. Please share and I will post your link to your answer. Thought I would mix it up and add some more crazy choices today. The Holidays aren’t fun until you have

1. Grandmother: Granny Weatherwax from the Discworld Novels She’s a witch, is prone to occasionally put up signs that read ‘not dead, just resting’. On top of that she reminds me of my granny June. She takes no prisoners, would tell me bad and dirty jokes, would let me just be me no matter what and tell some of the best stories ever.

2. Grandfather: Gandalf the Grey I shouldn’t have to explain this too much. He’s Gandalf. He smokes, drinks, tells jokes and has the best fireworks ever. And oh yeah one of the coolest wizards ever. Plus summers with Grandpa would be amazing in Middle Earth.

3. Father: Mr. Pendergrass from Easy A If you have seen this movie (which you should) you can understand why Stanley Tucci’s father figure would be awesome except for the part where we would have to watch the Bucket List. He would embrace if not encourage my quirkiness and is just cool.
4. Mother: Mrs. Pendergrass from Easy A Also kind of a logical choice if you’ve seen the movie. You can’t have Stanley Tucci without Patricia Clarkson. Awesome parents. I imagine that I would also be as adorable as Olive is. And yet geekier. Plus she would share with you, possibly things about her misspent youth, but hey we’d have mother/daughter share time.

5. Big Brother: Macgyver Cause after we cut his mullet off because it was not an awesome hair choice, Mac would be great. If the oven broke down before the turkey was done, all we would need is a paperclip, some shampoo, a match and some dryer flint and voila. Turkey dinner.

6. Big Sister: Lorelai Gilmore I wasn’t a hard core Gilmore Girls fan, but I watched enough that she would make an awesome big sister. A bit crazy, but balanced because of her cool factor. Slumber parties, spa days, gossip sessions and anything involving boys would be awesome.

7. Little Brother: Tom Imura from Rot N Ruin Because when the zombie apocalypse happens, it will be nice to have him as a little brother and who will ultimately save me or cut off my head really quickly if things go bad.  Not sure why zombies might show up at Thanksgiving dinner, but you never know.

8. Little Sister: Lily from How I Met Your Mother I wasn’t a hard core Gilmore Girls fan, but I watched enough that she would make an awesome big sister. A bit crazy, but balanced because of her cool factor. Slumber parties, spa days, gossip sessions and anything involving boys would be awesome.

9. Uncle: Indiana Jones > Cause he would take me on adventures. And also possibly get me killed while on said adventures. Fun times.

10. Aunt: Inara Sera from Firefly Not only would having the birds and bees conversation go over so much better, but Inara would have the best stories. Plus she’d make me feel all girly girl. Awesome Aunt.
10. The Uncle who is not really An Uncle: Hardison from Leverage One: Cause then I would inadvertently meet the rest of the crew. Two: Which means I get to hang with Parker. Yeah. Three: Having the coolest geeky hacker ever would mean great things. Admit it. I would love ‘Uncle’ Hardison to pieces.

11. Date: The 10th Doctor Allons-y. We would saunter in after a delightful trip from whenever and wherever. I would be an awesome companion. Plus he would be all David Tennant shaped and that doesn’t suck Plus there is always the snogging under the mistletoe later.

THURSDAY CRUSH: Chris Hardwick

Chris Hardwick There is something about Chris Hardwick that makes my girly geek all warm and fuzzy. For those of you who are Doctor Who fans or Walking Dead fans, Chris Hardwick is kind of a big geek about both of them. Yes he hosts shows about both of them, but you know at the core he really is a giant fanboy. And a fangirl such as myself cannot help but find that attractive. Also he isn’t bad on the eyes.



I first remember seeing him when he hosted MTV’s Singled Out. He was adorable funny and just a little bit of a nerd. Then of course there was Web Soup on G4, his commentary on the I Love the… on VH1 and of course seeing him in shows like CSI or movies like Halloween 2. As a fan of Wired Magazine I have read a few of his articles as well. Last year he re-entered Smirking’s radar when he was on Craig Ferguson for Craig’s Doctor Who special and I genuinely discovered how much of an adorable little geek he was. Then he started appearing on shows about Doctor Who and zombies. Of course now I love him on the Talking Dead talk show which airs after the Walking Dead every Sunday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

WEDNESDAY WHAT IF: HOLIDAY FAMILY

WEDNESDAY WHAT IFS: 
Tis the season for turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pecan pie and of course spending time with your family. If yours is anything like mine Thanksgiving can sometimes be mundane and then other times a bit crazy. Now I am lucky I have both my blood family and the family I wasn’t born with (also known as the one you make which is just as important, sometimes more so). But what if we could choose our family from our little geeky imaginations? This week we will deal with real people. Tomorrow we will create a family from our own little geeky universes. Please share and I will post your link to your answer.

1. Grandmother: Helen Mirren
I have such respect for this woman. She is an amazing actress, is witty, intelligent, and would be one of those grandmothers that you would completely bond with and be unafraid to be a bit geeky, a bit snarky and yet she would be one of those grandmothers you would just adore to pieces.

2. Grandfather: Wilford Brimley
The man has a history on top of the whole diabetes thing we are really going to remember him for. He was a bodyguard for Howard Hughes, was an actor, a famer, a blacksmith and even used to ride in the rodeo. Think about the stories you would hear. Plus he played an awesome father figure on television.

3. Big Brother: Joss Whedon Granted growing up with him would mean a good healthy dose of sibling rivalry, but he would be the geeky totally cool brother who would introduce me to comics, make me feel empowered as much as I might get noogies and keep the laughter coming when it came to the holidays. But I would totally smoke him during a snowball fight.

4. Big Sister: Janeane Garafalo Growing up she would make you laugh as much as she would make you think. Its why I heart her. Dinner table conversations would never be boring. Plus she is adorable. I imagine many interesting people would hang with her and therefore I would spy and lamely try to be part of the group as all little sisters would do.

5. Little Brother: Neil Patrick Harris I really don’t have to explain this choice at all do I? He’s the man. Coolest little brother ever.

6. Little Sister: Emma Stone She has such an amazing personality on screen, from Easy A to Crazy Stupid Love. Slumber parties, shopping outings, and geek out girly days would be amazing with her as a little sister.

7. Uncle: Neil Gaiman How cool would the holidays be? He would tell great stories, be able to scare and make you laugh as much as he would make you smile and make you completely excitable. He has a great taste in music and also I need at least one awesome bibliophile as my family member.

8. Aunt: Cate Blanchett She is just awesome in all ways. I have a girly crush on her and she would be the favorite aunt I would hang out with all the time. She also has a great fashion sense. Maybe I would get all of the stuff she didn’t want anymore.

9. The Uncle who is not really the Uncle: Nathan Fillion There is always the family member who really isn’t blood tied to you, but you still call him Uncle. Nathan would be perfect. He’s hilarious, would obviously get along quite well with my older brother and someone I could relate to. He might also make the turkey do a little dance.

10. Date: Ryan Reynolds One: He’s adorable. Two: He is sweet, self-deprecating and extremely funny and talented. Three: He’s tall which means I could wear those kitten heels and not feel like Nicole Kidman did with Tom Cruise. Four: There’s that whole snogging under the mistletoe thing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Waking Nightmares

Waking Nightmares

Written by: Christopher Golden

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Ace
Language: English
March 2011, $7.99
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Shadow Saga



When chaos erupts in the small coastal town of Hawthorne, Massachusetts, former vampire-turned-mage Peter Octavian and earthwitch Keomany Shaw arrive to investigate. Years ago, Octavian helped expose the secret existence of vampires to the world, dismantling the Vatican's sorcery corps in order to save his fellow shadows from destruction. But without the Vatican sorcerers, the magical barriers they spent centuries constructing to keep the forces of darkness out of our world are beginning to fail, and things are slipping through. Now an ancient god of chaos is awakening in Hawthorne, its influence spreading...and it's Octavian's fault. If he can't stop it, the blood of all human kind will be on his hands.

+++++++++++++

I have been reading Christopher Golden since I was in college mostly due to his Buffy books. I enjoyed his stuff so much that I began to read more: The Shadow Saga, The Menagerie, The Lost Cities novels and more. I was excited to see another Shadow book although they are now making them Peter Octavian books rather than continuing the Shadow saga as Peter is no longer a vampire as he once was which is fine as it is still set in the same world. What I liked about the Shadow saga was the take on vampires, the role the Catholic church played in not only keeping the shadows in check but keeping them relegated to legends and myth. Such was the Church’s power that it made the shadows be afraid of sunlight, limited the forms that they could take, flight, etc. Great mythos. Now that the Church has been weakened due to their part in the events that took place in the previous books, our world is not as safe as it once was. While the Church did a lot of unthinkable things to the Shadows, they also helped keep the other realms out of ours.

This is the fifth book in The Shadow Saga though it is now the Peter Octavian novels. Peter Octavian, Byzantium Prince and former vampire, has been contacted by an old friend whose girlfriend’s brother is lost in a coma and has plants growing throughout his body, very specific plants. Though he is no longer a shadow Octavian also spent 1000 years in Hell and picked up a few tricks as a sorcerer. Add on the experience (give another thousand years) as a shadow and Peter might be able to help. But long forgotten wood gods are the least of his worries. Keomany Shaw, earth witch and friend has sensed a terrible disturbance from Hawthorne, Massachusetts. Something is wrong. Terribly wrong.

It began with the discovery of an old box from the depths of the ocean and a young college girl named Amber’s prophetic dreams and seizures. Something has been awakened and chaos will come with it. Birds attack, mysterious wraiths prowl around the town, and Hawthorne’s residents have begun to give into their most primal desires and feelings. Peter is going to need help if he wants to save Amber and her town, so along with Keomany and a shadow named Charlotte they do what they do best and that’s fight until you can’t.

Things I loved: The last book of the Shadow Saga was a tough act to follow. It was the end of the Church. It was also The Final Death for a lot of characters you had grown attached to over the series and in a way could have been the end for the series as a whole. But then it wasn’t. It was really great to see earth witch Keomany returning to the fold as well as Octavian himself. Octavian is such a fun character and we have seen him go through a lot. First as a shadow and now as a human sorcerer, a really powerful sorcerer. But even with his Thor like awesomeness, there are things that are bigger and badder than he is. One great thing about these books as I felt like we have come to a new chapter. The first four books were all about the Shadows, The Church and Peter’s journey to who he is now and trying to help his kind. But now we are seeing the fallout from all of those events and decisions and the realization that there are worse things out there than Shadows like Hannibal. Luckily we have Peter Octavian on humanity’s side. Not a bad guy to have. It’s a nice way to continue the series and bring new life into it.

Loved the opening. The opening act involves a flora/wood goddess who has taken over a house as well as its occupants. Awesome. I loved the whole marijuana plants growing where they should not be. Descriptions that were quite lovely and yet horrific = check. Reintroducing us to the badass that Octavian is = also check. Okay I was hooked. From here we head to Hawthrone where the shit-eth hath hit-eth the fan-eth. Seizures, blue lightning, carapace wraiths, strange boxes, chaos filling the streets and one hell of a pissed off goddess. It’s all good times.

Octavian lost a lot of allies in the last book. I can see Golden trying to give Octavian some new ones. I totally dig Charlotte even though all I can see is the red headed chick from the Twilight movies in my head. And this book also had some unexpected twists and turns. Golden, like Joss Whedon or even Robert Kirkman makes you remember that absolutely no one is safe. Hell of an ending and I cannot wait to see more of Cortez and the plans he has in store.

Things I didn't love so much: I cannot quite put my finger on what was missing, but I felt like there was something that didn’t quite work. Maybe it was partly due to the fact that I haven’t read anything with Peter Octavian since …. Came out. Not sure. But there was something that didn’t make me run out to my friends and tell them, you have to read this. I will say that this is not for new readers. I will agree that he doesn’t give you a lot of back story. He doesn’t explain a hell of a lot because well this is the fifth book so for new readers you will not get a whole lot of character development. And yet at the same time as I said before, this really feels like a new chapter in the scheme of things. You just might be confused a lot. Okay yeah a whole lot. Definitely not recommended for anyone new to the Shadow world and Peter Octavian as a whole.

A fellow reviewer had made a comment that Peter was just another PI in a world of John Taylors, Harry Dresdens and more. Understandable that most urban fantasy heroes and heroines are investigators of some sort which sadly makes sense. How are else are we supposed to have the monster of the week. Sadly the paranormal would be less likely to happen if you had a cubicle job or was a retail flunkie. You kind of need a job where there is mystery and exposure to a lot of different things. So while yes, in a way it can be a bit annoying for everyone to be in the same profession you kind of need them to be. Though admittedly it would be funny to have a desk jockey be the one who all the crazy stuff happens to.

Buy or Borrow: Buy if you are a completist like me. Borrow if you have not read the rest of the Shadow saga. 


Part of: A series. 

Book One: Of Saints and Shadows

Book Two: Angel Souls and Devil Hearts

Book Three: Of Masques and Martyrs

Book Four: The Gathering Dark

Book Five: Waking Nightmares


Also Recommended: I really enjoy Golden’s Menagerie series which seemed to end just as it started getting good. For more vampire mayhem there are the lovely Books of Blood by Tanya Huff, for more magical fun I would recommend the Matthew Swift series by Kate Griffin and if you are looking for more Golden action there are always his past Buffy books.

3.25 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

Sunday, October 30, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Rocky Horror

REASON NUMBER SIXTEEN: ROCKY HORROR 
Oh how I love Rocky Horror Picture Show. For years it has been a Halloween staple for me. Rocky Horror Picture show is one of my favorite things to do on Halloween. When I was in high school I took part in the show every Saturday at the local theatre. It was a chance to have fun and get bawdy. And Bawdy I was. Plus how could you resist Frank. While the movie is campy fun, the real reason you attend is the Audience Participation which is more fun than I can tell you.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film (shame on you) the story is this: A criminologist reads from a leather bound report titled “The Denton Affair’ about newly engaged couple Brad Majors (asshole…sorry, habit) and Janet Weiss, who find themselves lost and with a flat tire on a cold and rainy, late November evening. Seeking a phone with which to call for help at a nearby castle, Brad and Janet discover a group of strange and outlandish people who are holding an Annual Transylvanian Convention. They watch, still wet from the rain, as the Transylvanians, servants, and a tap dancing groupie dance the "Time Warp", the film's signature song which you are probably singing to yourself right now. 

They are soon swept into the world of Dr. Frank N. Furter, a bizarre and self-proclaimed "sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania". The ensemble of convention attendees also include servants Riff Raff, his sister Magenta, and a groupie named Columbia. Frank claims to have discovered the "secret to life itself". In a scene inspired by the classic Frankenstein films, his creation, Rocky Horror, is brought to life. The ensuing celebration is soon interrupted by Eddie, an ex-delivery boy and partial brain donor to Rocky, who rides out of a deep freeze on a motorcycle. In a jealous rage, Frank corners him and slaughters him with an pickaxe.

Brad and Janet are shown to separate bedrooms, where each is visited and seduced in turn by Frank, posing as the opposite. Janet, upset and emotional, wanders off to look for Brad, who she discovers is with Frank via a television monitor. She discovers Rocky, cowering in his birth tank, hiding from Riff Raff, who has been tormenting him. While aiding Rocky Horror, Janet seduces him, while Magenta and Columbia view the seduction from their bedroom monitor. After discovering that his creature is missing, Frank, Brad, and Riff Raff return to the lab, where Frank learns that an intruder has entered the building. Dr. Everett Scott, Brad and Janet's old high school science teacher, has come looking for his nephew, Eddie, but Frank suspects Dr. Scott of working for the government investigating UFOs.

Rocky and the guests are served dinner, which they soon realize has been prepared from Eddie's remains. Janet runs screaming into Rocky's arms, and is chased through the halls of the castle by a jealous Frank. Janet, Brad, Dr. Scott, Rocky, and Columbia all meet in Frank's lab, where Frank captures them with the Medusa Transducer, a machine which transforms them into living statues, and then forces them to perform in a cabaret-style floor show.

The performance is interrupted by the appearance of Riff Raff and Magenta, who stage a coup and announce their plan to return to the planet Transsexual. After explaining to Frank that he is not going back with them, they kill him, and in the process also kill Columbia and Rocky. They release the remaining earthlings — Brad, Janet and Dr. Scott — warning them to leave; after they do so, the entire castle takes off into space to return to the planet of Transsexual, in the galaxy of Transylvania.

The narrator then finishes the film by concluding that man is alone—insects crawling on the planet's surface.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Vampires

31 Days of Halloween: Vampires, Monsters and Ghosts…Oh My (Vampires)
REASON NUMBER FIFTEEN: VAMPIRES So what is it about vampires that just trips my trigger? Vampires back in my childhood were either of the tall dark and alluring (Bela Lugosi) or the oh crap please don’t eat me (Nosferatu). Then I started reading about them whether it was legends from around the world, thank you Time Life: The Enchanted World and thank you Mom, or Anne Rice. As I grew older of course the sensuality began to creep in, the ideas of living forever, of becoming a predator instead of prey or maybe just being the prey for one night. Then we had the biting and the fangs, something I still love to this day, what can I say. As much as I like the uber sexy aspects of vampires, I also dig the scary ones too. But in all, I just dig them. 



Kindred: The Embraced
" No, because every time I mention this vampire stuff you act like I am crazy. Now there is two possibilities for that... number one...you don't believe that they're real...and number two...you know they are."-Frank Kohanek
Kindred: The Embraced aired for a short time centering on the lives and loves of the vampire society of San Francisco. With a fantastic ensemble cast Kindred really deserved to last longer than its 8 episode run or at least that is my opinion. Loosely based off of White Wolf’s vampire: The masquerade RPG the show was a little gothy and little soapy, but what would you expect Aaron Spelling. The story itself centered around five clans of vampires that were fighting to control modern day San Francisco: The Ventrue (the aristocrats and businessmen), The Brujah (thuggish mobsters), The Gangrel (nomadic loners), The Nosferatu (shadowy, disfigured and well just like you are imagining) and The Torreador (the artists and musicians). They live among humans and interact as if they were human. In fact as Julian Luna once said, "We are all around you."

The Ventrue clan, ruled by Julian Luna (the late Mark Frankel), held the most power among the five clans mostly due to the fact that Julian was the Prince of the city and reigned over all of the clans in the city. The other clans leaders formed the Conclave, a ruling council and there were constantly usurpers to Julian’s reign like Eddie Fiori (Brian Thompson) from the Brujah Clan. The Conclave's main rule was to govern the rest of the clans and to maintain the Masquerade. The Masquerade itself was a set of rules, the most important being that their true nature was to be kept hidden from humans. To break such a code was to mean a Blood Hunt and your Final Death. Problem is human police officer Frank Kohanek (C. Thomas Howell) figures out the Masquerade and tries as hard as he can to both understand and bring down Julian whom he believed was to blame for his girlfriend Alexandra’s death who was also Kindred. Insert plot lines that involved a Juliet and Romeo sort of theme, a romance between Julian and a human reporter, and exploring what it really means to be immortal, I thought it was a great show. Though it differed quite a bit from the roleplaying game, as I said I was a happy camper and would let Julian Luna or Cash bite me whenever they damn well pleased. It looked like it was doing okay, but sadly Mark Frankel, was killed in a motorcycle accident and ultimately halted any chances to continue.

Anyone else remember the show?

++++++++++

Countess Bathory : I own a lot of action figures…remember I be a girly geek. But one of my favorites is this Countess Bathory figure. Some say she was a vampire. I saw she was one twisted bitch who was afraid of getting old. Her story is this: Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614) lived near where modern day Brtslava is. As a child she was known to fits of rage which apparently continued as she grew older. Married young she was often left for long periods of time as mistress of Castle Sarvar and it was during this time she began to let the evil flag fly. It began by disciplining the young female staff. For example she would stick pins underneath fingernails or execute those who disobeyed or angered her by stripping them and throwing them outside in the middle of winter where they were then doused with water until they froze. Of course when it was summertime she would choose honey and then have them bitten by insects. As stories say she is also famously known for bathing in the blood of her victims which was said to keep her young and beautiful. Sadly the Countess decided to start preying on some of the local nobility which eventually led to her arrest. At her second trial a ledger was introduced, written by her own hand, that noted over 600 victims. Of course on film Countess Bathhory may be best well known when she was played by Ingrid Pitt in the Hammer Film Countess Dracula (1970). You gotta love her.

+++++++++++++++


The Tales of Alisa Perne : So yeah I am still a fan of Christopher Pike even after all of these years and would gladly be part of the Christopher Pike Book Club. He had a series of books in the 90’s called the Last Vampire which had a young woman named Alisa Perne who believed that she was the last living vampire. Appearing to be 18 and living a life of young wealthy teenager, Alisa was not affected by the sun, holy objects or garlic. She was strong, fast, with acute senses, regenerates quickly from wounds and needs to feed weekly. Over the course of six books, Alisa not only explored her own history as young woman named Sita in ancient India, but encountered old enemies, made new vampires, became human, had a daughter and more. I totally dug those books.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Day of the Dead


REASON NUMBER FOURTEEN: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS 
As a kid growing up and now as an adult Halloween was as much about the new traditions as it was the old. When I was a kid Samhain was about our family remembering loved ones who have died. In Mexico it’s a national holiday. Taking place on November 1 and 2nd in connection with All Saints Day and All Souls Day it is a celebration of the dead. It also happens to coincide with the Aztec belief that the souls of the dead returned to Mexico with the migration of the monarch butterflies each Autumn. I think what is great about the Day of the Dead s how truly joyous it is. There are parades and costumes, sugar skulls and flowers, skeletons and puppets, family altars and visiting the graveside to not only do necessary weeding and such, but to sit up with picnic baskets and music. For me Dia de Los Muertos reminds me of the dummy suppers and the fond memories we had about those before us instead of making the dead scary.

I have never been to a celebration for Dia de Los Muertos but I would like to some day before I too pass from the mortal realm. One thing I am going to do this year though is make some day of the dead calavera or skulls for the house. Michaels also has these great little sugar chocolate skulls molds that I might be so inclined to make and then decorate for the peeps at work. We shall see. I still haven’t finished making my costume yet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Corn Mazes

REASON NUMBER THIRTEEN: CORN MAZES

I love corn mazes. Actually I love mazes in general. It’s the trying to find your way out, the confusion and the fun, and then hopefully beating your little brother out so you can hang it over his head. And possibly get a prize while I am at it. Now corn mazes are a product of Halloween and Harvest festivals and kind of ingenuity by farmers let’s face it ($8 per kid or adult to run around like idiots for an hour or two. They have to be making bank).

My sister and I would have so much fun going out to the local maze, it wasn’t scary though corn mazes do bring up films like Children of the Corn, Signs and more. There is something fun to go dressed in black and slink around a corn maze with your friends with only the moon above and your flashlight to light your way. Get all the clues, stickers, etc and a cup of cocoa or candy will be waiting for you at the end. And if you are like my friends and I who are also armed with a camera you re-enact the Blair Witch Project or this year make some Velociraptor heads, put them on sticks and go all Jurassic on the corn maze. Hilarity has to ensue.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Graveyards

REASON NUMBER TWELVE: GRAVEYARDS

Cemeteries are a beautiful thing. Maybe it is a bit morbid, but I find them exquisite. And yet when I die, I don’t want to be part of one. Weird I know. But I am one of those people that will walk through a cemetery to see the names, say them aloud in my own way remember them. I think they are peaceful and full of such rich history and beautiful monuments. I have been to quite a few cemeteries in my lifetime from Salem to New York, to England and to the top of an old hill in Virginia City, Montana.


For some reason during Halloween it is more okay to go over to cemeteries. Day of the Dead certainly helps, but there are also graveyard tours as well. I’ll get to Dia de los Muertos later, but for now here is a beautiful picture of Highgate Cemetery.

31 Days of Halloween: Apples

REASON NUMBER ELEVEN: APPLES


Halloween holds a special place for me not just because of the macabre, but of the things I used to do as a child, customs and games, outings to the orchard and the yumminess of a caramel apple. Apples tend to be in there prominently. When I think of Autumn, apples are just there. You pick them over at the orchard which in itself is a day full of hay rides, hay bale mazes, turkey legs, kettle corn, fresh apple cider and loving all things Harvesty. For Halloween there is apple bobbing and caramel apples, but there were also the apple divinations my mom and I used to do. Plus apples are just yummy.

Apple Cider Recipe:
I love Apple cider. Add a bit of spiced rum and you are set.

Ingredients:
• 6 cups apple cider
• 1/4 cup real maple syrup
• 2 cinnamon sticks
• 6 whole cloves
• 6 whole allspice berries
• 1 orange peel, cut into strips
• 1 lemon peel, cut into strips

Directions:
1.Pour the apple cider and maple syrup into a large stainless steel saucepan.

2.Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves, allspice berries, orange peel and lemon peel in the center of a washed square of cheesecloth; fold up the sides of the cheesecloth to enclose the bundle, then tie it up with a length of kitchen string. Drop the spice bundle into the cider mixture.

3.Place the saucepan over moderate heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the cider is very hot but not boiling.

4.Remove the cider from the heat. Discard the spice bundle. Ladle the cider into big cups or mugs, adding a fresh cinnamon stick to each serving if desired.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Ghosts

31 Days of Halloween: Vampires, Monsters and Ghosts…Oh My (Ghosts)
REASON NUMBER NINE: GHOSTS

“Nor crown nor coin can halt time’s flight
Or stay the armies of the night
King and villain, lad and lass, 
All answer to the hourglass”

Ghost: A Spirit of the dead. Archaically it meant the animus or disembodied soul.

There are lots of things that are amazing about Halloween, but the different creatures…oh yes they truly make the season. Ghosts are some of my favorites. Now every culture has ghost stories whether it is the ghost stories from two thousand years ago or from last fall when the friend of a friend was sure they saw a ghostly apparition on the way back from that Halloween party you went to. But ghost stories are definitely part of our culture. When I was a kid my mother would have dumb suppers for our past ancestors (a place setting at the table for those who have died) on Halloween. It was just something we did and in that way ghosts weren’t scary. They were just grandma and grandpa. As I got older I always wanted my very own Casper. An invisible playmate that just happened to be dead (okay I wasn’t thinking about the dead bits). Then I continued to grow up and suddenly ghosts were scary. I loved telling ghost stories. I loved hearing them. There is something about sitting in a darkened room or around a fire trying to scare the shit out of one another with the scariest tale you can come up with. Even better when you try to be your very own Ghost Hunter production armed with your wits and a flashlight.

Now I don’t know if you believe in ghosts, but I do. Maybe it is due to an overactive imagination or my spiritual beliefs, but I believe in them. But I won’t go into all of that, because during Halloween ghosts take on a different joy than the rest of the year. As much as I celebrate the spirits of the dead, I also love to be scared.

The above photo is the Brown Lady and is probably the most famous ghost picture ever taken. The image reportedly shows a ghost descending a staircase at Raynham Hall. It was captured by photographers Captain Provand and his assistant Indre Shira while photographing the historic Raynham Hall for Country Life Magazine in the late afternoon of 19th September, 1936. The story goes is that the woman in the ghost picture is the ghost of Lady Dorothy Townsend. Lady Townsend lived in Raynham Hall Mansion in Norfolk, England in the 1700's. It is said that Lady Townsend's husband, Charles Townsend, suspected his wife of being unfaithful and even though she is listed as having been buried in 1725 many people think that her death and funeral were faked. Instead, Lady Townsend was locked away in a remote part of the house until she passed away some years later. Ever since then she is thought to be haunting Raynham Hall.

Do you have any ghostly stories to tell? Do you believe in ghosts? Have some great ghost movies or ghost books to share? Please do.

31 Days of Halloween: The Worst Witch

REASON NUMBER TEN: THE WORST WITCH


Like I said earlier in the month I dig Halloween specials, but there was one particular one that I looked forward to every year. The Worst Witch. Airing on HBO when I was a kid it starred Fairuza Balk who I knew from the Return to Oz and Tim Curry whom I had yet to put him and Pennywise together as the same person. 

Mildred Hubble is the worst witch at Mrs. Cackle’s Academy for Witches. Her cat is different than other cats (he’s afraid of riding on her broomstick). She can’t correctly mix her potions or remember all the ingredients to spells everyone else can get. And no matter what she does or where she goes she inevitably brings mayhem with her the way a 12 year old witch can do. As Halloween approaches all the students and teachers are excited that the Grand Wizard himself will be there to watch their broomstick displays. Sadly Mildred has her own nemesis not in the form of Draco Malfoy, but Ethel who could be Malfoy’s cousin or sister who bewitches her broomstick and ruins the entire display. Of course Mildred runs away, but in doing so comes across a horrible plot of evil witches who plan to take over the school. Will Mildred save the day and prove that she is not the worst witch?

Now understandably I understand how bad this is, but how I don’t give a frak due to nostalgic reasons and just how much I still love it. The acting is basic, the plot just amusing and the special effects worse than Tom Baker’s Doctor Who. But I think that is why I still love it. Plus you have the Halloween song in which you discover that there are more things to rhyme with Halloween than you remember. Come on now, sing with me:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hero

Hero

Written by: Perry Moore

Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Hyperion
Language: English
August 2007, $7.99
Genre: Young Adult/Superhero



The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his father's pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he's been asked to join the League - the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. But the most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he's gay.

But becoming a member of the League opens up a new world to Thom. There, he connects with a misfit group of aspiring heroes, including Scarlett, who can control fire but not her anger; Typhoid Larry, who can make anyone sick with his touch; and Ruth, a wise old broad who can see the future. Like Thom, these heroes have things to hide; but they will have to learn to trust one another when they uncover a deadly conspiracy within the League. To survive, Thom will face challenges he never imagined. To find happiness, he'll have to come to terms with his father's past and discover the kind of hero he really wants to be.


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Even after I read my first comic book I was always wondering what would be my superpower if I could have one. I always drawn to Storm and her ability to control the weather or in recent years I think being a memory mimic would be cool. You could fly, you can have the ability of the elements like fire or water. You could be invisible. But what would you do with those super powers. If you had a choice between flying or invisibility which would you choose and why? Would you choose to be invisible so you could spy on neighbors or get into places you shouldn’t. Would you choose flying so you didn’t have to sit in mid-town traffic? Would we choose one or the other because we knew we could use it for good or for selfish reasons? Would you be one of the good guys or one of the villains? I think what is great about superheroes is the lack of normality, that there is something unique and special about you. That you are different and that people can look up to you. Who wouldn’t want to be a Wonder Woman or a Batman? Would you have a secret identity? Would you go solo or have a League?

Finn chose Hero by Perry Moore this month for book club and I couldn’t help but think about all that encompasses being a superhero when I began reading it. Thom is a basketball star and volunteer with kids, but he has some secrets. One: his dad is disgraced superhero Major Might who is responsible for one of the worst tragedies, Two: He may have some superpowers of his own, and Three: he’s gay. It all begins during a basketball game when a rival player gets injured. Drawn, he tries to help and discovers that he can heal injuries. At the same time a player winks at him and stirs up emotions. When Thom unwittingly begins both a victim of a crime and a hero, he gets asked to be part of the League, the same League his father once was part of. Hero thus unfolds as both a coming of age story for a gay teen entwined with a comic book superhero story.

Things I loved: I loved how multi-dimensional this book was. It was more than a superhero story, or a love story, a coming out story or a story about a son and his father. Now it is not without its faults, but I enjoyed it overall. I like Thom. He’s a good kid who is not struggling with being gay, it is just something he knows and feels, but struggling with how the rest of the world is going to perceive him because of this one thing. Now for me and those who have read it as well, what race did you see him as. There are a few clues, but I think Thom is black, but other than a few comments there is never a description. Because it doesn’t really matter. But being gay seems to matter. Even when he is among his rag tag group of probationary superheroes all with some pretty hefty secrets of their own, Thom still feels like an outsider, like it is not okay to be and let everyone know who he really is. But for the most part Thom is normal. He looks at porn, spends hours outside the local gay bar before having enough courage to go inside, he has a first kiss, he makes mistakes. Thoms voice in the first person narration is strong and well developed.


I love all of the intended homages to the superheroes of my youth. And they have to be homages. For Warrior Woman from her island far away and her lariat is so obvious that it cannot be anything but intended tribute. Just as I love to figure out the voices of actors when they do animated films, I loved trying to figure out all of the different superheroes that Moore was referencing. It made my girly geek happy. Though Moore was obviously a DC Comics fan.

I loved his superpower. The ability to heal others. It may start off small, healing an injury, a grievous wound, but then realizing that healing others pain makes you stronger and that you can harness that ability is awesome. But I think that realization that pain doesn’t always mean a bloody wound means a lot.

I liked a lot of the secondary characters. Ruth especially. While I don’t want to give things away, she made me laugh and cry. Being able to foretell the future is a bitch.


I liked the relationship between Thom and his father. Sometimes they both make some bad choices. They make mistakes, they try to atone for them. And their relationship is a complex one. It doesn’t help that Thom’s mother disappeared from their life leaving them both to mourn and try and figure out what the hell they were doing. Thom has his own misconceptions about his dad, just as Thom’s father has some about him. They are both trying to live the only way they know how. Those bits of the story were great.

Things I didn't love so much: Maybe it is naïve of me, but I think that being gay would not result in such a ridiculous and stereotypical level of homophobia. Graffiti, Being kicked off of the Basketball team when you are a star player, and burning things into lawns is a bit overdoing it don’t you think? Now I know we have a long way to go when it comes to gay rights and not making it an issue, but I think we are getting there as slow as it is which can be intensely frustrating. One of my best friends is gay and I have another who is transgendered. We live in Montana where most people still think we have bears as pets and don’t understand what technology is but for the most part we have not had any trouble. That has to say something right? And as much as I feel like they didn’t make an issue about his race perhaps, they did make it about his being homosexual. It’s as if in some ways it is his only character trait. But then again this is from Thom’s perspective. Perhaps he feels it is only defining quality and people will judge him by that alone just as he judges himself. Maybe that is what this story is really all about learning to accept who you are on all levels not just one, when you fight to be accepted for all that you are and for the things that are important to you and that there is more out there than just your tiny little slice of life.

I will say that the prose is nothing special and action scenes are definitely not his forte. The action writing was sloppy, confusing and filled with far too many mistakes and plot holes simply because he skimps on writing these scenes with as little detail as possible.


Buy or Borrow: Buy. Or at least borrow.

Part of: Stand Alone

Also Recommended: I would recommend Ash by Malinda Lo, Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan, Devils Cape by Rob Rogers, Superpowers: A Novel by David Schwartz and Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines.

3.50 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks

31 Days of Halloween Extra: She Wolf

SHE WOLF


I am a TV junkie. Been that way for a while. Now there have been lots of supernatural shows that have come and gone over the years, but She-Wolf was one of my favorites for some odd reason. Right up there with Friday the 13th the series which I will get to later in the month.

Aired in the early 1990’s She Wolf centered on Randi Wallace (Kate Hodge) an American student who is studying abroad in London with famous mythology scholar Ian Matheson (Neil Dickson). Of course it wouldn’t be called She Wolf of London unless poor Randi has her own American Werewolf in London experience with a werewolf on…you guessed it the moors. The series followed the two not only trying to find a cure for Randi’s lycanthropy but seemed to encounter every supernatural mystery and creature that they could possibly find along the way. Which I was okay with.

It was funny as much as it focused on the baddies and had the romance of Randi and Ian which a young teenager like me totally dug. It was just fun. Admittedly it was a bit on the camp side and the effects were what you would expect from a syndicated show in the 90’s. But I wasn’t expecting anything amazing. Remember I also loved shows like Friday the 13th the series, Highlander, Poltergeist: The Legacy, Baywatch Nights with Angie Harmon and Crow: Stairway to Heaven as well as USA’s Silk Stockings. And let’s face it sometimes I still don’t need all the bells and whistles, I just want to be entertained. Eventually the show moved from London to Los Angeles where it became Love and Curses. Ian became a talk show host that explored all things occult and Randi and Ian still searched for a cure.

Did you ever watch it? Or was I one of the few? Have any other genre shows you really miss watching from when you were younger?

Monday, October 17, 2011

31 Days of Halloween: Candy

REASON NUMBER EIGHT: THE CANDY
Another reason Halloween is such a wonderful holiday is the candy. Once you get past the fact that our parents always told us not to take candy from strangers than implicitly told us to go beg for it one day a year, you realize how great the candy bounty was. And you’re expected to eat all of the candy, fill pillowcases full of it and then lapse into sugar comas and no one really judges you for it. Occasionally you will get someone to add in the non-candy treats like a toothbrush and those tablets you chew so you can see where you brushed and did not brush, coinage, apples, stickers and more. Let’s face it we enjoy being candy gluttons. Actually we like being gluttons all through the Autumn season…Thanksgiving anyone? This is the kid precursor.

As a kid you scoped out your favorite houses and neighborhoods, always making sure to go to the ones that carried full size candy bars (Butterfingers were always my favorite) instead of the bite size ones or had little treats like soda (because we didn’t always have a lot of it in our home so it was a treat). You bargained with your friends or in my case my little brother for the candy you wanted, hoping they would trade with you. It was and still is an awesome holiday.

My Favorite Candies 
Mary Janes: These little delights are a mixture of a peanut butter and molasses flavored taffy with peanut butter in the center

Bit o Honey: The candy consists of almond bits embedded in a honey-flavored taffy

Chick o Stick: Chick-O-Stick is an orange stick of varying length and thickness, dusted with ground coconut. The interior of the stick is honeycombed with peanut butter and the orange hardened syrup/sugar mixture that also forms the shell.

Butterfinger: Nobody better lay a finger on my Butterfinger

Snickers: It satisfies

Reeses: Best invention ever = chocolate and peanut butter


Skittles: Taste the rainbow my friends. 


Blow Pops: Sucker and gum


Flavored Tootsie Rolls: I like the orange ones


Laffy Taffy: cause of the bad jokes


Baby Ruth: I blame it on the Goonies

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Baby Ruth Knock-Off 
I am not a big fan of candy corn in general, but what I do love is Candy corn and peanuts together. Put them together and you have a Baby Ruth. It’s awesome.