Thursday, October 31, 2013

Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse?

Are you looking for an amusing activity? Something to do for Halloween? A choose your own adventure Zombie Apocalypse book is great fun! The scenario begins with you sitting in a meeting. Suddenly warnings fill the news of something strange happening at the hospital. Everyone leaves work in a hurry. How do you get home? Do you go home? What do yo do when you encounter the Zombies? Will you survive?

An amusing way to get in the holiday spirit. My husband and I read this together and were competing to see who could stay alive the longest. With much horror and dismay, I died first. I knew it was a bad idea to try to take the subway. His end was ambiguous. It is possible he survived.

The main character, which you adventure as, doesn't seem to have a lot of common sense. It works out for him sometimes, but you are often left crying out in frustration at the idiotic choices he makes that you have to deal with. Then again, how many people are at their best in a Zombie Apocalypse?

You never know where a choice will lead you when you are faced with hordes of Zombies and mobs of people trying to avoid being eaten. Try your hand at surviving, and see where you end up. It is a fun read, but it is written for adults, so you might want to adventure a little to decide if it works for everyone. Good luck!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The October List

The October list is a mystery about Gabriela's desperate efforts to save her kidnapped daughter. She races against the clock to obtain the half million dollars and the October List the kidnapper is demanding. And he wants it all in thirty hours. Starting at the end where the kidnapper has found Gabriela, and working itself backwards, we learn how Gabriela gets to this point.

I received this copy from Bookish* as a promotion for the book. I wasn't sure how well the backwards telling of the story would go, but it worked. It actually created a lot of suspense the way Deaver put it together. I think the change in perspective helped to keep me guessing about the plot, which would have been much more transparent if it had been told in chronological order. The plot itself is not particularly complicated, but it is still an entertaining read.

I actually really enjoyed that this book was told backwards. It made the story much more interesting, and I really liked the beginning, when I got to it. This was my first Jeffery Deaver book. I would like to try one of his books told chronologically to see how he does with suspense in a "normal" setting. I would recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries, and are looking for a different take on the way the story is told.

*Bookish does not require a review or stipulate what kind of review should be given if you are inclined to review the book. It was simply part of a promotional event for their book. Winning this book does not change my review. It merely provides me with a book I would not have read, or gotten to as soon.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Witch Of Blackbird Pond

In 1687 Kit Tyler finds herself on a boat from Barbados to the Connecticut Colony where her Aunt Rachel lives. Her Grandfather died, leaving great debts, so she had to sell everything they had to pay the debts, and travel to her last remaining family living in America. Kit finds her liberal upbringing has not prepared her for life in a Puritan community. She does not understand why her actions would offend so many people, who seem to like living a strict lifestyle. She befriends an old Quaker woman, many view as a witch, and finds herself on trial for witchcraft.

A friend introduced to me to this book when I was about thirteen, and I have loved it from the first time I read it, and I have read this book many times over the years. I enjoyed the chance to reread it again. It is shocking how easy it was to be thought a witch in Puritan times. Simply acting outside the norm, or looking at someone wrong could lead to accusations. I liked that the author addresses the issue of spectral evidence, or statements that could not be proved through physical evidence. It also reveals some harsh treatment towards Quakers during this time period.

I enjoyed this coming of age story, particularly how it gives an outsider's perspective on Puritan ways. It is also interesting to read this fictional account of witchcraft in the American colonies that was not part of the Salem witch trials. I think it is important to understand while Salem was a large affair, such things happened in individual cases throughout the colonies. I recommend reading this if you enjoy historical fiction and learning more about accusations of witchcraft in early American history.

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Sunshine is from a very involved family that work together in a bakery. She needs a moment by herself, and goes to visit the lake. She thinks it will be safe, because nothing has happened there in years. Discovered by Vampires while at the lake, she finds herself chained to a wall in a mansion, and she must use all of her abilities to survive.

I liked that the story was set in a modern era. Most of McKinley's work is set in a fantasy world, so it was surprising to find one of her books take place in a present-day setting. It was also refreshing to have vampires not as the focus of the story. It is more about Sunshine's self discovery in a world filled with more possibilities than she realized were open to her. Told from Sunshine's perspective, we learn that humans and the Others-- Vampires, Weres, Demons, people with magical abilities coexist, as long as the Others keep a low profile.

I liked that Vampires were portrayed as monstrous creatures in this story. They are seen as different from humans, and something to be feared, which is refreshing from many popular versions of this genre. It was also interesting that even though the Others are feared, a lot of people in the story are Others. It was fun to discover who is human and who is not. Fans of Robin Mckinley's books will enjoy this one, even though it is not set in her typical world.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

By: Ransom Riggs

After a death in his family, Jacob travels to a remote island to learn more about his family history. He discovers the ruins of Miss Peregrine's home for children. In the ruins he learns more about the children that lived there, and that they might have been kept on the island because they were dangerous. He also discovers they might still be alive.

Riggs' story of people with unusual powers is an imaginative one. The use of old photographs gives the feeling that, just maybe, it is possible people with peculiar abilities exist. The combination of present and past in the story was handled well, and made for a gripping tale. I had a hard time putting the book down.

I won this book in a marketing promotion from Quirk Books*. I am so glad I did. I might not have gotten to this book for a while, and I wasn't sure how I would like it. I found Riggs' idea to use vintage photographs as an inspiration for the story to be an unique approach. What an excellent way to use old photographs and help people appreciate this resource.

I enjoyed the story, and I cannot wait for the second book: Hollow City to come out at the beginning of the year. It is definitely on my to read list. I have to know what happens with these characters. I also want to see what pictures the author chooses to use in the next book. I would recommend reading this book to anyone that likes suspenseful tales involving people with peculiar abilities.

*Quirk Books does not require a review or stipulate what kind of review should be given if you are inclined to review the book. It was simply part of a promotional event for their book. Winning this book does not change my review. It merely provides me with a book I would not have read, or gotten to as soon.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Victor Frankenstein's life began as a pleasant one. He was raised by a loving family, had a close friend, and a sweetheart. He leaves for University, and everything changes. He becomes obsessed with his studies, which culminates in an experiment where he creates life in the form of a monster. His creation becomes the bane of his existence, leaving him filled with horror and remorse for his work.

This was my first time reading Frankenstein. I knew the basic plot, a scientist creates a terrible monster, the monster causes problems, and people try to kill the monster. I did not realize previous to reading it, that there was such depth to the story. I was surprised to find it was more about human nature and ethics, than it was about a mad scientist and his monster. Shelly brings up some difficult questions in the book about what is owed by a creator to the things it creates, how we judge people and things by their appearance, the consequences of advancements in science, and much more.

I liked the implications of a monster that is thinking, communicating, and has feelings. It added a lot of emotion to the story, while allowing Shelly to bring up some of the issues of ethics and treatment of others in a more natural way. The awareness the monster has about his actions helps you sympathize with both Frankenstein and his monster at different moments.

I think this is an important book to read. I don't think Frankenstein is given the appreciation it deserves, particularly in media portrayals of the story. It asks questions that are still relevant today, and they are questions we should be asking ourselves. Don't worry, Shelly isn't preaching these ideas to you. They are a natural part of the story. I would recommend reading it if you like thought provoking stories that are told in captivating ways.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


This issue follows Bufkin the flying monkey's battle with Baba Yaga while they are trapped in the collapsed fable headquarters. The 13th floor members(magic users) lead by Frau Totenkinder try to decide the best method to get rid of Mister Dark. Although the magic users have been working together for a common cause, that is about to change. Ozma is ambitious and longs to be in charge. Frau Totenkinder abruptly leaves the group to enact her plan, and Ozma leads a coup in her absence. Who will the denizens of the 13th floor support in the latest upheaval?

The graphic novel is the 14th in the series, and covers issues 86-93. This installment brings the series from the initial storyline to the next foe the community faces. We learn some of Mister Dark's background, and some of the challenges the fables will face as they try to defeat him.

Frau Totenkinder is one of my favorite characters, so I always enjoy it when she has a major presence in the story. I have enjoyed learning more about her character. She is not just a witch that lures children in with her candy hut. This issue sets us up for more brilliant moves from her, while making you slightly worried she has finally met her match.

It is always a pleasure to read the Fables series. It is an excellent retelling of the classic tales assembled in a way that will delight readers who love these stories. I would highly recommend this series to anyone interested in Fairy Tales. It is an amusing take on the classic tales, but filled with dark moments and heart. There is also amazing artwork in every edition.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Book Of Werewolves

The author encounters a village where no one will guide him to the city because they are afraid to venture out while it is night. They think they will be attacked by a werewolf they claim is roaming the area. Curious about their claim, he begins to explore the lore of werewolves. He learns where some of these stories might have originated, and why people still believe they exist. Exploring myths, folktales, trials, and stories of brutality we enter the world of the werewolf. The main theory presented is the need to explain many of the brutal murders, often of serial killers, that people encountered. The brutality of a monster is used to explain the horror of these deaths.

Many of the tales used to illustrate the author's point were from Icelandic Sagas. The Beserker often wore animal skins and had an animal like rage and strength come over him, that he couldn't control. They would usually be exhausted after such a spell. The description of these spells matched the details some of the violent killers(thought to be werewolves) gave during their trials.

In medieval times, people were hung when accused and found guilty of being a werewolf. This was usually accompanied with a charge of witchcraft because the accused would claim to consort with the devil for the power to change form. Cannibals were also charged with being werewolves because of the violent crimes they committed to eat people. Often these people thought they changed form into a wolf.

I thought this was an interesting examination of the werewolf myth, and why it was believed people could change form. One of the biggest issues I had with the book, was that there are many passages to make the author's point, usually in Greek or Latin, that aren't translated. This is an unfortunate result of those two languages being considered essential for an educated person in the 19th century, and that no longer being true. It was an excellent source for a collection of early tales and theories on the werewolf, and how they were connected to the very violent people in society. I would recommend this book if you are interested in a serious perspective on the werewolf myth.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Pride And Prejudice And Zombies

Most people are very familiar with the plot of Pride And Prejudice. It is a social commentary told through the lives of five sisters of good social standing, in the early 19th century. This is one of my favorite stories. I love the wit Austen uses to tell a story that is much more than a romantic classic. The only problem with it is, it has been retold many times in a variety of ways that usually leaves me dissatisfied. Enter the zombies.

England is plagued with the undead. Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters must protect themselves and their neighbors from the unmentionables. Trying to be ladylike to attract husbands, and maintain their position in society while fighting zombies(considered unladylike) is difficult. Will your favorite characters survive the incursion of undead into their story?

I admit, when I first heard about this book I was suspicious. We are plagued with a plethora of retellings of Pride And Prejudice, and rarely do any of them do the book justice. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this version has a lot of original content, which helped maintain the ideas and themes of the story. The zombies fit into the plot surprisingly well. This book exceeded my expectations. I liked it so much, it has a place on My Favorite Books list.

I found it to be an amusing look at what is often considered to be the paragon of novels. It is an excellent way to remind readers that the original was a satire. It's also a great way to introduce young people to a classic, as the zombie theme is popular currently. This book is funnier if you are familiar with Pride And Prejudice, but you don't have to have read it to enjoy this version. I highly recommend reading this book.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute

Johannes Cabal is an anti-social Necromancer. He is invited by three members of The Fear Institute to help them on their expedition to the Dreamlands to find the Phobic Animus--the embodiment of fear. Having long desired access to the Dreamlands, Cabal agrees to act as a guide for the party. Not particularly caring for the company of those that hired him, he begins scheming as soon as he is paid, for a way to get rid of them. Practicality stays his hand for the moment, after all, unknown monsters await, but there is a tempting cliff in the distance...

I was pleased that the main character was a Necromancer. Often in fantasy the role of a necromancer is only briefly brought up, and usually as a foe to defeat. It was refreshing to see one portrayed in the main role of a story. Cabal does not struggle with morality, and is very much an anti-hero, which suits his character well.

I won this book in the Goodreads First Reads Program.* This is the third book in the series. I have not read the first two, but it was fine as a stand alone book. There were some clear references to past adventures, but it created no difficulty in the flow or understanding of the story. I really enjoyed this book, and can not wait to read the first two books in the series: Johannes Cabal: The Necromancer, and Johannes Cabal: The Detective.

I found this book to be a unique humorous tale told in an entertaining manner. I did not want to put it down. I don't think I can say enough good things about it. It is a new favorite, and I am happy to give it a spot on My Favorite Books List. I would highly recommend entering the world of the necromancer Johannes Cabal.

*The Goodreads First Reads program does not require winners to give a review. They are encouraged to review the book, as the authors and publishers offering the books for free are trying to get the public interested in their book. If a review is given, it is not stipulated that it should be positive or negative, only an honest review.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow

This is a collection of Washington Irving's writings which includes: a combination of stories, letters, history, and essays about different topics. Some of the stories with a Halloween theme were: Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Haunted House, and Adventure of the Mysterious Picture. These stories had ghosts, strange unexplained events, and creepy elements to them.

One of the first American authors to become popular in Europe, Irving helped promote American culture abroad. He was also influential to later authors such as Hawthorne, Poe, and Longfellow. He popularized calling New York city Gotham in his writing of Salmagundi. His success as an author enabled him to make a living only by writing, which was extremely uncommon in America in the early 19th century.

More horrific than his scary stories, were his views on women. They were not very different from the typical viewpoint of his time, but Irving's "longing for the days of the subjection of women" was repellent. I was disappointed to discover it was a chore to read this book. I had looked forward to being engrossed by tales of early American horror and history. I did find a few of the stories interesting, or occasionally part of a story, but I did not care for the style they were written in. Distracted with the condescending language and strange whimsy that Irving often presented, I found that these tales could not hold my attention.

Interesting Vocabulary:

Bastinado: Punishment where the soles of feet are beaten, or foot whipping
Emolument: Salary or pay for a job, compensation
Galligaskins: Loose fitting breeches
Garrulity: Excessive talkativeness, especially with nothing to say on trivial matters
Grampus: Sea creature: whale or dolphin
Rantipole: Boisterous merrymaking, wild
Roysters: Revelers without restraint
Slang-whangers: One who uses abusive slang, or a ranting partisan
Termagant: Argumentative or nagging. A harsh tempered or overbearing woman.
Virago: Quarrelsome shrewish woman, A strong courageous woman

I would recommend finding out which of his stories you like, and only buying those.

November 6, 2014 Update:
You can read my review of a movie version of this book here.