64. Heartsick – Chelsea Cain
It’s the talking to a serial killer who is in prison to stop a new serial killer trope, with the usual genders reversed, and more zazz. Instead of the detective or vulnerable FBI trainee having to establish a new relationship with the serial killer, they already know each other…from the inside out, as Ms. Gretchen the killer held Det. Archie Sheridan for ten days and tortured him into the broken man we follow for many parts of the story.
The other main character is Susan, an also somewhat broken newspaper reporter who is following Archie to get the scoop and is more connected to the story of the new serial killer to track down than she realizes. Ah, thriller novels, sometimes it’s like everyone lives within a three block radius of each other.
Sometimes it’s nice to get a thriller with virtually no virtue signaling and this one is also quite gruesome at times. It’s definitely an interesting start to this six book series that’s supposedly focused on Archie and Gretchen when you consider that Gretchen is more of a haunting presence pervading the whole story with her pageant queen sadist essence than a participant.
Danger Crumples didn’t have to visit Merricat in prison to learn her secrets, but she was only available to play mind games with him for a very limited time.
31. Coldbrook – Tim Lebbon
To use blurbesque language- this was a very compelling zombie tale that kept me up at night. In other words, it’s a mass market paperback, so I ended up reading about 200 pages in one night and about 130 the next so I could finish it on my days off. The characters were interesting enough that I wanted to follow them through their various actions to the end soon and not over a period of many, many days.
I am always keen on secret labs and somehow this one managed to have the secret experiments not be on humans…on this earth. There are multiple earths, alternate universes, etc. in this book and for once it didn’t bother me that much. I know it’s a normal sci fi trope, but sometimes, like on TV in the past few years, it gets overused and seems lazy, to the point where I wait each new time I hear it for someone to mention the world without shrimp. In this story it’s the catalyst and things go to shit pretty quickly (and no shrimp are involved).
Another thing I liked was that everyone who had access to guns wasn’t suddenly good with them. Many things that occurred were not too ridiculous to ring true and the ending was only mildly hopeful. Mildly!
Horace and Danger Crumples assumed based on the title they’d just need to amass fleece blankets.
70. All Creatures Great and Small, 21. All Things Bright and Beautiful, 37. All Things Wise and Wonderful – James Herriot
James Herriot’s series of memoirs about being a new veterinarian in Yorkshire are some of the most pleasant volumes I’ve ever read. It took me a while to realize there were only ever mild through lines and that it didn’t matter to me. Some stories stick out more than others, for instance one about a hematoma in a pig’s ear that could be in this one but also could be in another of the series, but there’s always a strong sense of Herriot’s commitment to animals and his prickly journey getting to know the people, livestock, and pets of the Yorkshire Dales.
Having grown up around farm animals in spurts, I was saved from having much direct contact with the complications of calving or much beyond seeing cattle and pigs up close, so I don’t have any direct stories of large animal veterinary activities I saw up close, but, if I wasn’t allergic to everything outside and inside and also scared by certain animals with hairless tails, I would probably have gone that route in my career. Investigating problems, figuring solutions to weird things out, and being useful are all aspects of both veterinary medicine and librarianship and these stories are chock full of all of those things with a large dose of gruff English farmers. And drinking. And also a lot of off road-style driving. Some World War II and getting married and Helen sounds cool. But I will never forget that pig ear hematoma.
The reactions to there being no guinea pigs in this series run from escape (Merricat, Horace) to begrudging solemnity (Peregrine, Danger Crumples).
37. The Year of the Intern – Robin Cook
This was published in 1973, and yet, so little has changed when it comes to the exhaustive aspects of medicine. We may have better drugs now, but, if you get the wrong doctor, or, really, the wrong nurse, you have little chance of getting what you need in the United States. If you aren’t rich, you have even less chance of getting what you need. And I blame greed for that, not the actual hospital staff, just the greedy assholes who decided that medical care could be forced to turn a profit. Greed and the concept of turning a profit are the two worst things about living in the United States, hands down. Corporatization ruins everything that would otherwise be for the public good, like how every other very developed nation doesn’t shit on the sick because some of them are poor…
Money isn’t discussed really in The Year of the Intern as I recall, but parts of the healthcare experience that were and still are effected by money are. For instance, staffing and what happens in the ER. Like many public service areas that need to be available 24 hours a day, staffing and the decisions made by staff who either are or aren’t good at their jobs without being able to sleep properly, ever, alter people’s lives and provide a lot of opportunities for people to be loudly frustrated. This intern spent a lot of time being mad at on-call doctors who didn’t want to come in, patients who showed up with fake illnesses just to hang out in the ER (and you have to treat everyone the same way, welcome to working with the public where you can explain theory all you want and they may never listen) creating massive wait times and shenanigans for actually dire patients, and yet, also spent a lot of time talking about how he was banging various nurses- even one who had a boyfriend, which just read to me as, yep, this is still pretty current but with 1970s sexy flair and lots of blood. He’s so altruistic, but also has that Burt Reynolds charm. He will also end up getting paid a lot more than the first on-scene persons. So next year, let’s elect someone who will fight to fix this shit.
Danger Crumples and Horace, ever vigilant because of their proper nap schedule.
86. Last Rituals – Yrsa Sigurdardottir
Grad school is harder on some than others. Some study witchcraft, some turn to witchcraft…not all get through. And in this story a rich German student with a bisected tongue carrying on his grandfather’s legacy of studying witch hunts in Europe who can afford just about anything he wants ends up dead in a copy room in Iceland. Murdered, then ritualized. His eyes are missing. It’s up to one Icelandic lawyer and a German security dude to sort it all out for the family. This is the book that taught me about corpse-pants. It’s also the last book that I got to read alongside my longest-lived, most beautifully grumpy guinea, Peregrine. So before she passed, she also learned about corpse-pants.
Peregrine the Great, successor to Danger Crumples as herd ruler who reigned for the longest time period of any in charge pig, my muse and extremely grumpy little best friend. It’s all for her.
Filed under Books, Review
77. The Fifth House of the Heart – Ben Tripp
Vampires and antiques make soooooooo much more sense as a combination than vampires and teenage girls. So much more sense. Vampires being nostalgic little dragons of treasure hoarding, extremely hard to kill, and easy to have a conversation with in basically one instance if you’re an antiques dealer who gives a shit about the quality craftswork of the past – it’s like someone finally paid attention to what happens when people get old. Most of them aren’t really focused on listening to teens be dramatic.
Granted, in this volume, vampires are what they eat so to speak, so the toad one couldn’t talk about his hoard and sometimes older humans are fond of young humans because they have like promise or whatever; but for the most part, The Fifth House of the Heart just rings much more true than vampire stories typically do. “I’m 5000 years old, please tell me about how hard your math test is and that you were embarrassed through fleeting and ever-changing technologies,” just doesn’t work for me. “Let’s talk about that Caravaggio I have that no one’s seen for hundreds of years so you can be jealous of my immortal collecting powers and how I don’t have to work to acquire such things,” sounds like real evil being talk to me.
And I haven’t even said anything about the main character, Asmodeus Saxon-Tang. Well, let’s just say I named my recently acquired red fox skull after him. He’s fun.
Danger Crumples was grumpy during his last pumpkin photoshoot, he would’ve rather been photographed surrounded by his massive collection of toys.
Tomorrow, I will be at Walker Stalker in Chicago! Tomorrow.
And this time, I am also planning on showing how my book cover parodies have become far more plentiful than they used to be. In the beginning, it was just Danger Crumples transforming Christopher Pike’s 1990s YA output, as seen here –
I do think with Danger Crumples I may actually have parodied these covers into being more coherent stories. Oops.
However, now that most of these are only available as postcards and I had more plays on piggie names in mind – more pigs have gotten their own book series and three of the paintings will be on display for the first time and also possibly the last time, I tend to make new things for every show that I do because I have a lot of ideas and very inspiring piglets.
Peregrine, crime boss and queen of my herd, finally got her own book series – Prey Street. And once again she meets with her most frightening enemy – the phone. This time she let Merricat pick it up, as if that would help.
Finny got a series too! Finnybumps, it’s very specific and allows him to intimidate Salem, just as he tries to from across the room every day.
This is my favorite new book cover parody. Ozma’s 80s horror paperback. There’s always been something ominous and yet flashy about how cute she is, which could only be expressed by painting her while drinking a lot of Tab.
Walker Stalker! Tomorrow! I know I’m no Jerry, who I won’t be able to see because I’ll be at my table, and I’m clearly not King Ezekiel, who I won’t be able to mention Hellraiser: Hellworld to (um, that movie has Khary Payton, future apparent (I haven’t seen it) downer Superman Henry Cavill, and the best but somewhat -to put it lightly – misused person on Vikings, Katheryn Winnick all in it, what a strange world we live in), but I hope someone comes and sees me anyway because I have a very wide range of stickers this time.
16. Burnt Offerings – Robert Marasco
Marion and Ben and Aunt Elizabeth and David live in the city. It sucks during the summer. It’s like really hot and there are too many people and Marion doesn’t feel like her antiques get their due unless she’s obsessively polishing them and so she’d really like to escape. Just this once.
Well, a house that’s only $900 and way out in the middle of nowhere comes up for the summer. It’s full of antiques, it’s by the beach and has a pool, the only catch is Marion has to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for an old lady she’ll never see. Perfect!
Everything goes fine and they all end the summer with a nice family chuckle as they drive back to the city. The end.
Okay, not so much. But it’s not ever really clear what is happening exactly or why that title was used if the very life is being sucked out of the adults. But I guess “Burnout Offerings” just sounds like a post-graduate school group therapy session title. Too contemporary.
Danger and Horace are waiting for me to get the movie so we can all figure out if we like that better. These boys really loved their 1970s horror cinema.
Filed under Books, Review
I am once again venturing out into the public to show my artwork and potentially sell a thing or two. This time I’ll be at Walker Stalker/Heroes & Villains Fan Fest in Chicago April 19, 20, &21 – I’m on the Walker Stalker side where my insistence on printing skulls and irreparably altering the world of horror to make it more guinea piggy makes more sense.
And now, a preview of some of the new stuff I’m bringing:
I’m not bringing Finny. He’ll be too busy riding his actual Big Wheel down haunted hallways.
Oh look, it’s the whole parody series of The Finning featuring Finny, Horace, and Mortemer- ready for you to stare at forever and ever. And ever.
I did finish this painting and I’m totally bringing it as long as nothing catastrophic happens at the scanning place I just took it to… As I’m on the zombie side of the convention, I continued my Romero parodying works with Peegshow. It really is finished though.
Night of the Living Ozma. She’s got her trowel, she’s black and whiteish and ready to eat someone controversially.
Stay tuned to this same guinea pig channel for a preview of the new book parodies. Yes, this time I will have much more evidence that my booth name Guinea Pigs and Books makes logical sense!