Category Archives: Urban Fantasy (+ bit’o romance)

Fiction2Film: Zombies … an Oral History & a Love Story

In our Fiction 2 Film (F2F) posts, we will share news and tidbits we learn about author’s stories which have made the jump from paper to film.

~ Zombies … An Oral History ~

If you are a fan of zombie novels, you have already heard about Max BrooksWorld War Z film adaption starting Brad Pitt.  In fact, if you’re a major fan, you’ve already read the book.  But, have you heard the major changes to the story?  writing for Screen Rant.com discusses the fact that, although it is a “tricky narrative format to transfer to film” the main character, who in the book is a U.N. employee that interviews zombie apocalypse survivors on their experiences, will be quite different in the film.

Paramount’s announcement stated, “The story revolves around United Nations employee Gerry Lane (Pitt), who traverses the world in a race against time to stop the Zombie pandemic that is toppling armies and governments and threatening to decimate humanity itself.”  This is indeed a different take on the story.  How does author Max Brooks feel about the change?

He acknowledges how difficult it could be turning the book into a film during his interview with the Daily Record.  He admits, “It doesn’t have a main character, the storyline is told from a hundred different points of view, would be prohibitively expensive filming in all these different countries.”  He also realizes the challenge this brings saying, “You couldn’t pay me to turn it into a film.”  However, he doesn’t seem worried about the changes, but rather excited to see how it all turns out.  “I’m not involved so I just want to be able to enjoy watching the movie when it comes out,” he explained. “At least I know they did at least as much research into things as I did for the book.”  In his 26 Aug 2011 blog post, after visiting the set in Glasgow, Max stated, “While I’m still largely in the dark concerning the overall story, it was reassuring to hear from Brad Pitt and Marc Forster that their goal is to make a smart, deep, geopolitical movie. I trust their talent and their intentions and I look forward to seeing what they come up with.”  He also learned from the January 3rd LA Times article, that states, “Forster [the director] and Paramount Pictures each view “World War Z” as a trilogy that would have the grounded, gun-metal realism of, say, Damon’s Jason Bourne series tethered to the unsettling end-times vibe of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead.'”  That’s a nice thought (for them financially), but will fans love the first film enough to support the making of a trilogy? 

‘World War Z’, the Fiction

“The end was near.” —Voices from the Zombie War

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission.

‘World War Z’, the Film

Will the film be a hit among Brooks’ fans?  Zombie fans?  Pitt fans?  Only time will tell.

But, in E! News’ interview with actress Mireille Enos, who plays Pitt’s wife in the film, she said, “It’s like zombies are the new vampires.” And, it would seem she isn’t far off as we have seen the number of zombie-related books increase over the past year.  “It’s taking over. But somebody said to me this movie might end the zombie genre because, after this, what else is there to do? It’s huge!”  Now, this statement is not one with which I can agree.

I’ll watch the movie, I may even love it, but “end the zombie genre” because of its awesomeness?  Nah, probably not.  Romero has been doing good zombies for many, many years.  Others will surely follow.

‘World War Z’ is scheduled to hit theaters on, you guessed it, 12/21/12.  How apropos.

[Trailer can be viewed here.]

~ Zombies … A Love Story ~

Now, I have to admit that about a year ago, someone told me about a zombie romance and my first reaction was “Thanks, but no thanks.”  Then, I decided to give Isaac Marion‘s Warm Bodies a go.  The story is told from the perspective of R, a zombie who, try as he might, cannot remember much about his life before now.  Then, he meets his (living) sweetheart.  The book was a quick read, but one that proved in the end that Virgil may have had it right when he said, “Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to love.”

I was happily surprised to see on that Isaac’s book is also being adapted to film.  Unlike Brooks’ “fiction2film,” Marion’s appears to be more of a direct adaption than a variation on the story.  Although director Jonathan Levine is writing the script, he consulted with Marion during the process.

In an interview with Jonathan Liu, or “GeekDad” of Wired Magazine, he explained, I’ve not been directly involved as far as collaborating on it, but I’ve been consulted a lot, a lot more than what’s normal, from what I’m told. When they first hired the director he had lunch with me and just chatted about his ideas and vision for the whole thing, and he’s been interacting with me as he wrote the script. He’d call me up and ask me questions: what’s this part about, or how do you see this and that.

I read some draft of the script — I’m not sure how far along it was — and then I got to give notes on that, and later read another draft and gave some notes. It seems like they’re really respectful of my opinion and they seem to really care what I think, which is cool. Very unusual, from what I’m told. Even major best-selling authors who have all the clout in the world, sometimes they just tell them: “Get lost, we don’t care what you think. Just let us make this movie.” Everyone I’ve told about this who knows how that works has been amazed, that they actually have involved me.

Do you think that will make a difference to those who have read the book and watch the movie?  I know it will for me.  As much as I enjoy seeing a film director’s interpretation of a novel, sometimes I want to see the author’s original story, as is, on the big screen.  Of course, just because there has been so much director-author collaboration does not mean the film will be identical to the novel.  It is always hard to completely translate one to the other, yes?

Either way, Marion sounds excited about the film.  Although he did not have much say regarding the casting process, per the USA Today article, he didn’t see that as a problem because he wasn’t sure “how it would have been if [he] had hated them. But they worked out.”  He plans to watch the film in the theater instead of with the executives because “If something bad happened, [he] wouldn’t want them to see [him] cowering.”  That said, he wants to visit the production set as much as possible because, “The whole thing is fascinating and exciting.”   He may even try to “… sneak in the background and get eaten by a zombie.” 

‘Warm Bodies’, the Fiction

A zombie who yearns for a better life ends up falling in love—with a human—in this astonishingly original debut novel.

R is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He doesn’t enjoy killing people; he enjoys riding escalators and listening to Frank Sinatra. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Not just another zombie novel, Warm Bodies is funny, scary, and deeply moving.

‘Warm Bodies’, the Film

As I said, it was initially hard for me to envision a zombie novel as a romance.  However, either Marion’s writing changed my perception or love really does affect us all – living or undead.  Marion can relate to our uncertainties about a romantic zombie.  “I didn’t want to sanitize him into something I called a zombie,” Marion says. “You watch him kill people and eat people and do horrific things zombies do. There’s a germ of change in there, so you hear him give his distaste for things but this is what we do.

“A lot of people can relate to that mindless repetition, that people do things they don’t want to do all the time. It’s the starting point for his character, and he develops an awareness for what his options are. It seemed natural to make him sympathetic because everyone’s been there at some point, in a place of misery and wanting to get out.”   The fact that R goes through his routines even while he dreads them was absolutely something to which I could relate.  It made him feel more real, I guess.

Teresa Palmer, who plays R’s love interest, Julie, says Nicholas Hoult is “… so beautiful to work with. He does such an incredible performance. He’s playing a zombie, so he can’t say much, but he’s very expressive with his eyes.”   And, he would have to be to pull this off.  The book is full of R’s internal dialogue, so  I’m very interested to see how that will be represented on screen.  I’ve certainly seen that work well in some and not in others.

I wasn’t going to say this because so many others are asking the same question, but after seeing this picture I feel I have to ask … Will these two be the new Edward & Bella?  It may not be too far fetched a question since Summit Entertainment, the production company behind Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight films, is also behind Marion’s film. The picture is certainly reminiscent of Twilight pics.  I’d say they should try to be more original, but on second thought, it was most likely intentional as they try to lure young adult paranormal romance readers into the theater.

‘Warm Bodies’ is scheduled to hit theaters on 8/10/12.

[To date, no official trailer exists, but you can view the book trailer here.]

Related posts: “Fiction2Film” feature on Stephenie Meyer’s ‘The Host’ and our “Zombie Awareness Month” posts

Review: On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn’t prepared for. And Death would be my willing teacher.

Five years ago, Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her “lucky” break came at the expense of her mother’s life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.

Now she’s the target of Death’s ravens and an innocent boy’s life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey’s secret crush—starts to climb Alaska’s Denali, the Angel of Death stalks him because of her.

And Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.

On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

Release Date: 27 December 2011
Read Date: 3 December 2011
Rating:

I’m torn. There are some brilliant aspects to this book but it was dreadfully slow. I dragged myself through because after figuring out the Meet Joe Black angle I was curious to know if it would end the same way. It didn’t. Actually, it took an unexpected yet not unwelcome turn that may not be liked by the masses.

Abbey is excellently portrayed. Her predicament: the ever-present crushing guilt over her mother’s death, the growing distance between her and her father, and her misplaced obsession with Nate (the jock who has an obsession of his own with mountain climbing) resulting from her inability to deal with her guilt, wallowing in it instead of moving on with her life. So she imagines this fictitious romantic relationship with him to help her deal with reality. It comforts her. Yes, it’s sort of creepy. She was one step away from becoming a full-on stalker but I understood her crush and empathised.

Her only company was her best friend Tanner but she hadn’t revealed much about her mother’s death and how she felt about it to him. He had his own hang-ups. He’d also been in a tragic accident but he hadn’t been so lucky; he was paralysed from the waist down and in a wheelchair. I enjoyed reading Tanner’s POV, witnessing how he was treated by others, how his relationships had suffered and the difference in how Abbey treats him. Without pity. She understands how it is for him without even asking.

‘Being loners might have drawn us together out of necessity, but it was our friendship that had made us strong enough to come out the other side.’

Kind of reminds me of The Dream-Maker’s Magic.

The story is all about Abbey’s transition. Realising that she’s tired of being unhappy, of pretending, lying and hiding. She wants to live. It’s a great message and I liked the method in which it was conveyed, reminiscent of Riders of the Apocalypse. Love, and the selfish versus the altruistic needs, wants and decisions we make based on that love were also expertly demonstrated. FYI, love’s a bitch.

“Dealing with guilt and grief doesn’t leave much room for anything else. I know about that dark stuff, but one day if you’re really lucky, you get tired of feeling bad all the time. It’s like a curtain opens and light comes in. First, it’s only a sliver. Then more.”

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. Besides being slow I really struggled to remain interested whenever we joined Nate’s dangerous climb up the mountain. Since seeing Cliffhanger as a child I never even contemplated doing something so unnecessarily hazardous. Rescue teams must love those guys. Anyway, when the Angel of Death does his Joe Black thing to Nate I cringed at his interactions with Abbey. Perhaps it was realistic given her crush but the way she sort of accepted not-Nate’s behaviour was uncomfortable to read. I wanted her to push harder when she called him on it, which would’ve sped up proceedings.

Death had been dealt a bum hand, poor guy. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. As powerful as he was he couldn’t control everything and he wasn’t perfect. He made mistakes. The mythology surrounding Death was intriguing. He’s sort of a swallower of souls, holding them inside him for safe-keeping until the day he’s the last one to die. But each soul changes him, for better or worse and this is what prompts him to make contact with Abbey. The ravens were a nice touch -suitably eerie.

As for the romance, well this is tricky. How much to say? There are three potential boyfriends, I guess. One from Abbey’s past, her present and future. And the most obvious is not the guy Abbey chooses, and I’m glad of this. Some might not be pleased but just this one aspect makes On a Dark Wing unique, for multiple reasons. The resolution at end was well done. I can definitely see people reacting in that manner to such an extraordinary situation although the lead-up to the climax was a little ludicrous.

Would I recommend this to anyone? Well, I didn’t hate this book and I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from reading it. In fact, I might warn them it’s slow but I’d encourage them to read to the end because I think the effort just might be worth it.

***Thank you to Harlequin Teen and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.***

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Review: Married with Zombies by Jesse Petersen

A heartwarming tale of terror in the middle of the zombie apocalypse.
Meet Sarah and David.

Once upon a time they met and fell in love. But now they’re on the verge of divorce and going to couples’ counseling. On a routine trip to their counselor, they notice a few odd things – the lack of cars on the highway, the missing security guard, and the fact that their counselor, Dr. Kelly, is ripping out her previous client’s throat.

Meet the Zombies.

Now, Sarah and David are fighting for survival in the middle of the zombie apocalypse. But, just because there are zombies, doesn’t mean your other problems go away. If the zombies don’t eat their brains, they might just kill each other.

Married with Zombies (Living with the Dead #1) by Jesse Petersen

Release Date: 1 September 2010
Read Date: 2 December 2011
Rating:

Dear god, what have I read?! Horrific. Superficial Too Stupid To Live characters I don’t care about, stumbling around blindly asking to be eaten.

Comedy

Having loved the show Married with Children I impulsively decided I would love this too. However, I’m wondering now whether “zombies” and “comedy” can ever be a good mix in the post-Carry On world. And perhaps with this book by marketing it as a comedy excuses the wafer-thin characters, the TSTL behaviour (e.g. checking out a potentially zombie-infested casino for the hell of it) and inappropriately timed arguments (while zombies are bearing down on you) about nothing in particular.

Romance

Um, where exactly was the romance? We meet Sarah and David on the brink of divorce as they attend their regularly scheduled marriage counseling appointment. David’s demise from having a promising future to being an unemployed deadbeat husband and all-round slacker and Sarah’s exhausted from having to work 6 days a week leads her to constantly criticise him and picking fights at every given opportunity, leaving them both deeply unhappy and wanting out of their marriage. Counselling wasn’t helping until…they killed their therapist. After that they work together to kill (directly and indirectly) almost every human they come into contact with regardless of whether they happen to be infected. In doing this they come to see each other’s positive attributes i.e. bravely killing everything in sight, appearing as heroes in each other’s eyes. So again, where was the romance? One off-stage sex scene and…I can’t remember if they ever kissed. Not good.

Zombies

Were pretty cool actually. From bite to brain-eating, the incubation period is 10-25 minutes. Red eyes, strangely happy facial expressions, faster than the average human and the ability to continue simple repetitive actions, describe these zombies. Although there is the requisite gory imagery e.g. a legless undead dragging itself along the ground carrying a baby in it’s mouth, it never truly hits home, the gut-wrenching horror of it all.

I hold Rhiannon Frater‘s As the World Dies trilogy up as the epitome of all things zombie and while reading it I laughed, I cried and I added guns to my wishlist. That was terrifying but there was humour, too. A good balance. MWZ focuses too much on the humour and whilst funny, sometimes it was grossly overused and forced, at the detriment of the characters’ intelligence and the graveness of the situation. It’s the same with the swearing, I’m not opposed to the well-timed f-word when the world is going to hell and you could die at any moment but it shouldn’t be repetitive.

After ogling this book for a while I’m disappointed it didn’t live up to my expectations. I could’ve DNF’d at any point, my lack of affection for the couple left me uninterested in whether they lived or died but obviously they were never in any danger considering it’s part of a series.

If you have some time to waste…

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Review: Tempest Rising by Nicole Peeler

Living in small town Rockabill, Maine, Jane True always knew she didn’t quite fit in with so-called normal society. During her nightly, clandestine swim in the freezing winter ocean, a grisly find leads Jane to startling revelations about her heritage: she is only half-human.

Now, Jane must enter a world filled with supernatural creatures alternatively terrifying, beautiful, and deadly- all of which perfectly describe her new “friend,” Ryu, a gorgeous and powerful vampire.

It is a world where nothing can be taken for granted: a dog can heal with a lick; spirits bag your groceries; and whatever you do, never-ever rub the genie’s lamp.

If you love Sookie Stackhouse, then you’ll want to dive into Nicole Peeler’s enchanting debut novel.

Tempest Rising (Jane True #1) by Nicole Peeler

Release Date: 27 October 2009
Read Date: 18 August 2011
Rating: [Did Not Finish]

Pages read: 110/359.
Conclusion: Life is too damn short.

I knew early on that I was never going to finish this book. The death knell went off every few pages.

It failed to suck me in. It was not funny even though it tried to be. There was a stereotypical lesbian couple (the butch one and the pretty one). Odd behaviour concerning a corpse -not necrophilia, though that would’ve been 1000x more interesting. The strange supernatural reveal and Jane’s reaction to her mother’s secret. I didn’t feel anything for Jane. And the list goes on and on.

Ryu, the vampire love interest. I’m not sure what it was about him but he was a complete turn-off, which is probably to be expected since this has been compared to Sookie Stackhouse, meaning Ryu = Bill. This comparison is also an insult to the Sookie series which was actually entertaining.

Anyon – He caught my eye. I know he’s a shifter even though we haven’t been told but I expected him to be Jane’s love interest. And for some reason, I sense a love triangle forming at some point. I detest love triangles.

Although my overall perception of this book was negative there were a few things I liked: the beautiful cover art to lure unsuspecting readers, the name of the bookstore “Read It and Weep”, and Jane as her father’s carer feeling trapped in a town that hates her.

Reading Tempest Rising was a struggle which I’m not prepared to continue. I know they say “no pain, no gain” but I think I’ll gain little from finishing this so I’m not prepared to even try.

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Review: Touched By An Alien by Gini Koch

How can a sexy marketing manager join forces with an Alpha Centauri male in Armani to save the planet-using hairspray, a Mont Blanc pen, and rock n’ roll? Easy… She’s Touched by an Alien Marketing manager Katherine “Kitty” Katt steps into the middle of what appears to be a domestic dispute turned ugly. And it only gets uglier when the man turns into a winged monster, straight out of a grade-Z horror movie, and goes on a killing spree. Though Kitty should probably run away, she springs into action to take the monster down. In the middle of the chaos a handsome hunk named Jeff Martini appears, sent by the “agency” to perform crowd control. He’s Kitty’s kind of guy, no matter what planet he’s from. And from now on, for Kitty, things are going to be sexy, dangerous, wild, and out of this world.

Touched by an Alien (Katherine “Kitty” Katt #1) by Gini Koch

Release Date: 6 April 2010
Read Date: 23 October 2011
Rating:

A mash-up of “Men In Black” and “Ghostbusters” with a central “McGyver” character. Intriguing premise. The sex scenes were steamy and the humour sometimes funny but the writing, in general, needed serious tweaking.

Fugly. That word has been (possibly temporarily) removed from my personal dictionary. “Baby” and “girlfriend” as terms of endearments should be banned. My lovely Kindle can illustrate why:

fugly = 39 mentions (mostly in the second half of the book) -used by Kitty.

baby = 22 mentions (as a term of endearment) – used by Martini (love interest) when referring to Kitty.

girlfriend = 21 mentions (as a term of endearment) – used by the only gay character when referring to Kitty.

Thesaurus. It’s there for a reason. Be imaginative when referring to a loved one or you know, call them by their actual name.

The first 25% was a nightmare to get through as Kitty asked a torrent of questions to establish the world-building and get to know the aliens. It was difficult to keep up, especially since Kitty would make huge “intuitive leaps” when I couldn’t figure out where she got the information to make such assumptions. She was also unbelievably arrogant in the way she told the professionals they were doing everything wrong:

“Feel free to tell us what you, having less than two days of this kind of experience, would like the rest of us do. You know, those of us who have spent years, or merely our entire lives in this line of work.”

Kitty doesn’t know the meaning of “tact” and “diplomatic”. She had a different perspective on things but she wasn’t willing to be even a little polite about it. When she wasn’t putting them down she was ogling and drooling over how naturally attractive all of the A-Cs are. I didn’t see why she was the only one to come up with all of the brilliant ideas since most of the A-Cs had either lived on this planet for over 40 years or were born on it. You’d think a few of them would’ve learned what kills slugs or would’ve heard of Earth’s history with religion.

Religion. The A-C’s religion changed to reflect Judaism right after Kitty compared it to that when explaining to her parents. And perhaps I’m being oversensitive to these next two issues but Martini says they’re all circumcised to appear more human -like being uncircumcised is somehow unnatural. Men are born that way, that’s human/natural enough for me.

Martini, the love interest, was hugely annoying to begin with. From the get-go he’s overly flirty verging on overbearing with the sexual harassment and proposes to Kitty within minutes, possibly an hour of meeting her. Some of his attraction to Kitty is later explained but Christopher’s interest was hard to fathom unless it was due to brotherly rivalry, only it didn’t come across that way.

I’m also unhappy with the dog-on-human violence. Duchess, the pitbull, followed Kitty’s actions by attacking an unarmed and physically non-threatening male. The dog teared into the guy’s groin. He made rape threats but was unable to carry them out as the women surrounding him had confiscated his guns. This upset me. If the dog saw her owner being attacked and it responded on it’s own or Kitty called for help then I would’ve felt differently. Instead Kitty instructed the dog to attack someone who wasn’t in a position to hurt anyone. This is a hot topic in the UK and pitbulls are subject to the Dangerous Dogs Act because they’re so aggressive, tend to be mishandled and have been responsible for a number of, sometimes fatal, maulings.

Okay, negativity over. The sex scenes were superb. Kitty’s upside-down Mission-Impossible pole-dancing move on the rope suspended in mid-air while shooting at the ground was very cool. I liked the A-C male/female dynamic when it came to mating choices. The females were super intelligent scientists interested in high IQs who thought human men like Stephen Hawking and Bill Gates were and I quote “dreamy”. They considered their male A-C stock to be morons in comparison. Physical appearance didn’t matter to any of the A-Cs, perhaps because they were all 100% gorgeous.

I think this book would make an exciting movie but I’m not sure I would read the sequel unless my local library acquires it.

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Review: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It’s gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie’s estranged father-an elusive European warlock-only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it’s her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus.

Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect. As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Hex Hall (Hex Hall #1) by Rachel Hawkins

Release Date: 2 March 2010
Read Date: 3 November 2011
Rating:

**Warning: This review contains SPOILERS!**

The Craft” meets Evernight. Despite the fast pace and entertaining story that Evernight comparison is worrying me. I don’t want future books to revolve around star-crossed lovers I don’t give a hoot about.

Sophie is sent to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for faeries, shapeshifters and witches, after Sophie uses her magic to perform a love spell gone awry for a friend, risking exposure which could attract various dangerous hunters of the supernatural. Raised by a human mother, her only supernatural contact is her warlock father whom she’s never met bar a few phone calls. She’s completely in the dark about who she is, her abilities, her father and his family history. Bombshells are dropped on her at the worst possible moments, leaving her vulnerable to manipulation and bullying. She copes admirably with the help of her headteacher, roommate Jenna (the only student vampire) and Archer, the resident mean girl’s boyfriend.

Said mean girl, Elodie, is the leader of her coven of three and they need a fourth, a position Sophie can’t turn down fast enough after their dark display of power and general racist, elitist and bitchy behaviour. It screams The Craft with Elodie as Nancy.

From the very beginning I knew Archer would play a big role in this book but as a love interest he wasn’t someone I saw Sophie with but I was glad her crush on him wasn’t merely based on looks and insta-love and instead deepened, as they became friends after being forced to spend a lot of time together chatting and trading snarky jibes as part of their playful flirting.

However, when Archer mentions that every witch’s parents arranges a betrothal to a good match for their child at age 12 and we meet Cal, his Freudian slip about becoming a groundskeeper at the school to protect “you” and then quickly rushes to clarify that “you” meant all students, had me assuming him as her prospective fiance. After that I was looking for Cal-time. The small amount we get wasn’t nearly enough for my liking though I did perceive him to be more mature, stable and kind of adorable. His hunky lumberjack look doesn’t hurt either. I’m hoping he gets the page time he deserves in future. Archer is good friend material whereas Cal, I see him as someone more important. I hope Sophie sees that one day soon.

We left Archer with tears in his eyes as he escaped without attacking Sophie. I’m assuming he’s being manipulated somehow. His family is either being held hostage or he’s being forced to play on the wrong side -something like that. And this is why I’m worried about the comparison to Evernight. I don’t want Sophie endeavoring, risking her life, to save him. Neither do I want her pining and waiting for them to be together again. Sophie has thus far impressed me with her intelligence and snark, she’s a practical girl trying to do the sensible thing, I don’t want her to lose that because of some rebellious boy in a tricky situation.

I enjoyed the humour and fast pace. The plot was a good one. It was an easy read. My only other concern was the rushed ending. At least, it felt rushed to me. I needed more, to see it, the aftermath of the climax and the reactions of everyone around Sophie. I didn’t like the showstopping last line either -a decision made in the heat of the moment without any detail about what that would entail. It’s a hook to get you to read the next book, one that probably would’ve worked on me if not for my Evernight worries.

Favourite Quotes

Sophie to her mother:

“Good luck explaining to God that you used to spank one of his heavenly beings.

‘It’s one thing to be different around people who you’re really, well, different from. It’s a whole other problem to be an outcast in a group of outcasts.’

Archer to Sophie:

“I’ll get Elodie and her friends to lay off you, okay? And seriously, try to give her another chance. I swear she has hidden depths.”

Without thinking, I shot back, “I said spare me the gory details.”

For a second I’m not sure I even realized what I’d just said. And then it sank in and I damned my sarcastic mouth strain to hell. Face on fire, I glanced over at Archer.

He was staring at me in shock.

And then he burst out laughing.

‘There was a sensible part of me somewhere that clutched its pearls and hissed that I better not give up my V-card in a cellar, but when Archer’s hands slid under my shirt and onto the skin of my back, I started thinking a cellar was as good a place as any.’

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Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor

Featuring necklaces made of wishes; an underground shop dealing in teeth; magical tattoos; a wishbone on a cord, DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE is a thrilling story about Karou and her secret life as an apprentice to a wishmonger. Karou manages to keep her two lives in balance. On the one hand, she is a seventeen-year-old art student in Prague; on the other, errand-girl to an inhuman creature who deals in wishes and is the closest thing she has to family. Her life is surrounded by mysteries she is desperate to unveil.

Release Date: 27 September 2011
Read Date: 4 November 2011
Rating:

Not at all what I was expecting after the numerous 5 star reviews from the most discerning critics.

LEFT: My UK cover | RIGHT: The US cover


Pretty unremarkable, right? | Striking, wouldn't you say?


The US cover plus the 5 star ratings and general popularity spurred me on to grab this from the library. I’m very pleased I didn’t pay for it. The UK cover advertised it perfectly i.e. not worth your time and cold hard cash, especially at hardcover prices.

Those loving reviews whispered in my ear to keep going, to not put it down because there’s precious awesomeness to be had, until they were over-ridden by the knowledge that if my hands lowered at any moment I’d never raise them with this book open again.

The slow dry start, the excessively wordy prose, the change from kickass, bohemian, independent heroine raised by “monsters” to typical teenage starcrossed insta-love, and characters I couldn’t connect with -made this difficult to read, let alone love.

I was confused by the change in Karou. I liked her better when she was artsy but jaded by her failed naive romance, running errands collecting the mysterious teeth for her Chimera family who raised her from a baby. How could she fall in love with someone who tried to kill her and not be wary of his beauty when the last beautiful man to enter her life broke her heart?

And then the twist. The memories were a flood of information filling in all of the gaps and answering questions one after another but by this point I was skimming to freedom, occasionally slowing to look for the golden nuggets others had obviously found in spades. This part was interesting, I’ll admit, but it was like the book contained different stories that didn’t quite come together as one tale.

We have:

— Karou’s double life as the art student and the teeth trader who knows how to wield a knife.

— The inexplicable insta-love for the angel who tried to kill Karou.

— The recovery of memory.

— The repercussions of today’s events in light of that memory.

It’s a mixed jumble that left me frustrated and confused. There are some good ideas but they didn’t really get to shine. Much of the story is in the last hundred pages and then the book ends abruptly.

I don’t understand the hype surrounding this one. Unremarkable.

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Review: Last Breath by Rachel Caine

There is a question Claire has long been asking: why do vampires live so far out in a sunny desert when they’re sensitive to sunlight? The reason doesn’t have to do with sunlight but water – and an ancient enemy who has finally found a way to invade the vampires’ landlocked community. Vampires aren’t the top predator on earth. There’s something worse that preys on them …something much worse. Which means if Claire, and Morganville, want to live, they will have to fight on to the last breath.

Last Breath (The Morganville Vampires #11) by Rachel Caine

Release Date: 29 October 2011
Read Date: 31 October 2011
Rating:

**Warning: This review contains SPOILERS!**

Gelatinous vampire goo. Gelatinous vampire goo. I can’t get over it. This is so…wrong. I’m hoping this new enemy is part of Caine’s endgame. We’ve had 11 books and perhaps she’s running out of ideas even though the final book, #15 is due out in November 2013. It certainly feels like the end run.

The Villains
A type of ultimate vampire, the Draug have a seductive call like sirens, need water to survive and breed, can reduce themselves to vampire goo which if you get any on you, will suck the blood/life out of you. They can remain invisible to the naked eye and easily traps their prey, human or vampire, storing them in water until they’re dead. On top of this, these guys are hard to kill.

Due to past encounters, Morganville’s vampires are so scared they plan to abandon the town and run. Of all things, I did not expect them to run from something they’d spent decades building. I understand a new foe was needed after the long awaited and much required death of Bishop but I did believe they’d learned to stand and fight rather than to submit to fear and flee. I was severely disappointed by Amelie’s response.

Amelie + Oliver
A kiss between them was to be expected though I didn’t expect Amelie to lose IQ points in the process. Killing Claire and Shane -not a good idea. I can’t believe Oliver had to step in and change her mind. Her manipulation of Myrnin when it came to this was appalling. Her actions destroyed previously strong relationships. Shane and Claire have been huge assets and her fear of this new enemy has turned her into a coward. That’s not what we’ve come to expect of her.

Oliver has always been in favour of fighting and in that respect he’s very like Shane (they wouldn’t react kindly to that comparison) but he balances out Amelie’s need to protect and retreat. They make a good ruling pair. I hope Amelie gets a magical cure for her fatal Draug bite because Oliver as sole ruler of Morganville would be terrifying.

The Wedding
Oh, the melodrama. Why do they have to get married right this minute? I understand the tenuous nature of their relationship due to Micheal’s undead status: unable to give Eve children and will most likely outlive her, remaining 18 forever but no one is stopping them from “living in sin”. I really didn’t care about the drama and political fallout from this mixed marriage between a human and a vamp. It ate up too many pages, boring me so much I kept putting the book down and avoiding picking it back up. If anything I’d have preferred someone kidnap Eve to try and turn her to end the prejudice, arguments and tears.

Main Character Death
I instantly knew this was a temporary predicament. A cheap move. A quick and quiet death with no one around to witness it. A few character’s reactions were notable though. Shane’s reaction was the most extreme but also quite understandable. He’d lost everyone he’d ever loved and he was tired of fighting when there nothing left to fight for. Claire was a reassuring presence in the Glass House, she ensured everyone kept their heads and made sound decisions, her diplomatic clout with the powers-that-be also ensured the Glass House members’ survival so her death would leave a huge hole in their lives.

It also became obvious why we get multiple POVs in this book which I think was done to better effect when it was just Claire and Shane in Bite Club. Here it added little in terms of character development but is required in order to get every side of the story.

Claire + Michael
Michael admits he once thought about Claire in a…romantic sense.

Claire + Myrnin
Claire discovers Myrnin does feel more than just friendship. It may or may not be love but he wants her as a permanent companion.

Claire + Shane
We leave them in a strong position. I can see these two marrying and spending the rest of their lives together. They have staying power. They work at their relationship, really work at it, and I think this makes them good role models for the teenage audience this is aimed at. Too many couples these days are only too willing to walk away when things get tough. However, I’m not a fan of the cringe-worthy mushiness Caine keeps shoving in our faces. They love each other, it shows. Please, don’t go overboard.

The Usual Humour, Excellent As Always
Myrnin pumping a sawed-off shotgun ‘with unsettling enthusiasm’ and calling “Let’s go hunting, shall we?”

Michael to Shane: “And you know if you screw it up with Claire, I’ll rip your throat out and drink you like a juice box.”

I admired Eve’s willingness to cut a bitch (i.e. Monica): “Micheal is missing. He may be dying. I am not in the mood for your shallow bullshit right now. If you get in my way, I will cut you, because you are nothing but a speed bump on my way to saving him. Are we clear?”

To Conclude…
Although I am a long term fan of this series this is the lowest rating I’ve given and the closest I’ve come to DNF-ing one of these books. I find this troubling considering we have four more books before the end.

I believe Caine’s heavy reliance on Bishop as a villian to bring ultimate fear to the residents of Morganville has left me distinctly unimpressed by this new foe despite their obviously lethal attributes.

For me, I think perhaps a threat from within would’ve provided more intrigue because we’ve done the “invasion by outsiders” thing with Bishop and to be honest it was done to death. Magnus appears to be Bishop with a new name.

In my opinion, Caine has taken the easy road by using predictable devices such as killing off a main character and magically reviving them, taking past situations and reusing them. If an author can’t come up with fresh stories then it’s time to stop producing them.

I still love the series. I’m determined to see it to the end but I hope Caine can inject fresh ideas into Black Dawn.

Included Short Story
In my UK edition there was a short story, “Anger Management” set between Bite Club and Last Breath from Shane’s POV, detailing Shane’s mandatory counselling with Dr. Theo Goldman, where he’s challenged to refrain from becoming angry and use non-violent methods whenever possible for 24 hours. It’s not a necessary read but it was enjoyable, especially his encounter with Monica.

____________________________________________

SNEAK PEEK


Sample chapters available HERE.

“Marriage is a big word for all guys,” Shane said. “You know that. It’s kind of an allergy. We get itchy and sweaty just trying to spell it, much less do it.”

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Review: Frostbound by Sharon Ashwood

Every dog might have his day, but the hellhound guards the night . . .

As a snowstorm locks down the city, more than the roads are getting iced. Someone’s beheaded the wrong girl, and vampire-on-the-lam Talia Rostova thinks it was meant to be her. Now she’s the prime suspect in her own botched murder—and the prisoner of her smoking-hot neighbor.

Lore is a hellhound, bred to serve and protect, so he’s not freeing Talia until he’s sure that she’s the prey and not the hunter. You’d think a beautiful woman in his bedroom would be a good thing, but trouble-prone Talia has run afoul of someone more sinister than your average lunatic killer. An ancient Undead is wreaking vengeance on the city—and on her—and Lore will have to go far beyond a stake to put him back in his grave . . .

 

 

Frostbound (The Dark Forgotten #4) by Sharon Ashwood

Release Date: 7 Jun 2011

Read Date: 20 Jun 2011

Rating:

I have always enjoyed Sharon Ashwood’s Dark Forgotten series. Frostbound was no exception. I think she does a great job of blending UF and PNR. Like a PNURF, paranormal urban romantic fantasy.

This book focuses on one of my favorite characters so far in the series, Lore, a hellhound who managed to escape from the the Castle. He’s acting sheriff during a time when supes are on edge. Why? Because the first supe election is only a month or so away. Supernaturals have only been out of the closet for a short time and the humans are still adjusting.

Talia, a newly turned vampire/former hunter, has been running from her abusive sire and is staying with her look-a-like cousin. When her cousin is murdered Lore investigates, Talia freaks and the who-done-it begins.

While I thought I’d be more drawn to Talia, seeing as she was turned against her will, grew up killing “monsters” and now is having to adjust to being that which she’s always hated … I was only partially interested. I was more interested in Lore, Hellhound Alpha. I did feel like they were a good fit though.

Definitely continuing on with the series.

Series Order:

Ravenous (The Dark Forgotten, #1) Scorched (The Dark Forgotten, #2) Unchained (The Dark Forgotten, #3) Frostbound (The Dark Forgotten, #4)
EXTRAS offered on the author’s website include a book video & excerpt for Frostbound, including excerpts for the previous books as well.  Frostbound was Nominated for Romance Reviews Today Best Book of the Year 2011.

Freaky Friday ~ True Blood(y) Fondue?

Anyone up for some bloody fondue?

Check out the True Blood(y) fountain!

The beautiful Janina Gavankar, who plays Luna on HBO’s True Blood series, posted some wicked TB fountain pics on her website.  She references two sites, which I checked, but one is in Italian.  I ran the text through Google’s translator and it came up with this:

It was October of 2007, the Trevi Fountain was red around the web, some “time” talking about the fountains wrote bloody guerrilla marketing to promote the television series Dexter.

At a distance of 4 years back to talk of fountains that gush blood and specifically in the land of Dracula and Transylvania to promote True Blood ‘series focuses on the adventures of vampires in the fictional town of Bon Temps.

Gotta love it!  That’s some serious series love right there!

 

Ref: Janinagavankar.com & Bloguerrilla