Tag Archives: Merricat

Mater Tenebrarum

65. Sweetheart – Chelsea Cain

She’s out! She’s got a copycat! She’s hip, she’s cool, she’s 45…maybe not the last bit. She is running around in Portland. In Sweetheart, the pace picks up even more than in Heartsick in no small part because Gretchen the Beauty Killer escapes and has more than enough ability to recapture the allure she had that led to the torturous trauma she laid on Det. Archie Sheridan back in the day. Even while he and Susan Ward, punky but flawed reporter, are investigating a new killer – who left bodies in Gretchen’s old body dumping site (geez). It’s a little less gruesome than Heartsick, but it read faster for me, and just made me keen to continue reading this series. I do like a fast, rainy read.

Merricat was always a snappy little sweetheart. She didn’t murder anyone that I know of though.

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They definitely ate well in this one.

54. Hotel Paradise – Martha Grimes

In Hotel Paradise, the narrator has family around, but is basically seen as underfoot if she isn’t doing her job at the resort, serving her mother’s food to the guests. She becomes obsessed with the death of another 12 year old in the area 40 years earlier and spends the story unraveling what really happened, while also providing a carefully drawn picture of the area she’s in and the people who inhabit it with their weird proclivities and willingness to live in a dying resort town. There were several mentions of tomato aspic. Aspic to me is one of the more confusing things anyone has ever tried to eat, perhaps that’s not a true mystery, but I digress.

The ending isn’t very neat and tidy, and that may have a lot to do with this being the first book in a series. I didn’t know if was part of a series when I read it, so, it just seemed familiar to me as someone else who had to create and solve their own mysteries because no one else was around.

After Merricat passed, Peregrine got choosier about her friend-pigs, and maybe indulged her investigative streak a little more dangerously than one would expect.

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Mater Suspiriorum

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.

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They probably needed a montage here.

54. Frostbite – Richelle Mead

Ski trip! When I was in middle school it was not at a vampire academy, of course, however, our ski trip was only for the day and it was supposed to be a reward- as opposed to a way to keep students safe from an amassing bad vampire attack. For me, it was not a reward because I did not understand skiing in several ways. I definitely french fried when I should have pizzad and could not for the life of me get the hang of that rope thing that pulls you up the hill. Thankfully I had other friends who got bored easily and we pretended we had the money to play video games for a good part of the day. The Moroi and dhampirs of the Vampire Academy series don’t even find the video game room. They’re too busy acting older than they are (like lots of high school kids) and scheming of how to fight back against the bad vampires, the Strigoi, who act like Danny Huston in 30 Days of Night, and getting their romantic feelings all torn asunder.

Rose did not irritate me even half as much in this sequel as she did in Vampire Academy. I guess she’s sort of growing up, sort of, or I’m less concerned with teenage ridiculousness. Either way, I did enjoy reading this one and when the foundations have already been set there’s room to move around. Even her being jealous of her tutor Dmitri’s having a lady friend who he could maybe end up guarding or end up with romantically didn’t seem overwrought. And the vampire court stuff that I mostly find pretty dull was not as intrusive, most likely thanks to the actions of some very impulsive novice guardians who almost get themselves killed. They also french fried when they should have pizzad.

Peregrine and Merricat would find the blankets in the ski lodge and never come out. Skiing antics are not for these ladypigs.

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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).

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This was published before Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” came out. Missed title opportunity.

1. The Seeing – William P. McGivern & Maureen McGivern

Orphan poet psychic Jessica Mallory has quite the story. After her parents die in a plane crash that she “sees” via colors, her social worker (a wearer of “durable double-knit” pantsuits “in subdued colors”) attempts to find her next of kin. They turn out to be a racist anxiety-riddled Aunt Maud and biological Uncle Eric the alcoholic gambling addict…but they want nothing to do with her – Phew. Jessica gets adopted and ends up living at a huge estate in Ireland. Unfortunately, Uncle Eric sees her in a magazine about horse racing because the Irish estate she lives at has horses- which is what many preteen girls want. She also has access to a priesthole and a cove and a dog AND a parapsychologist who she has a weird relationship with. He’s testing her for years and listening to her poems and then he goes to California to do some academic thing. Note: she’s underage.

When her benefactor dies her villainous aunt and uncle show up with New Jersey gangster dudes in tow and appraise the crap out of the art objects in the house, drink the good wine and whiskey, murder one of the servants, then slap Jessica around and plot her murder, to be delayed only until she predicts which ponies will win. It’s nice when relatives reconnect.

Little Orphan Poet Psychic Jessica has some friends to help her out though. One is an elderly Irishman who has magical praying powers in addition to being as psychic as her. Another is that Dr. Julian who went to California, he’s recalled by a poem in which Jessica essentially predicts their being together just like Dr. Whatshisface and Michelle of Michelle Remembers, which is pretty creepy to read. Note: she’s underage. Like so underage she can’t even drive. She barely knows anybody who doesn’t work for the estate, she never quite got to boarding school- this isn’t cool, not even for the late 1970s. The weirdest part of that is he never arrives. The book ends and Dr. Julian Future Statutory Rapist hasn’t even shown up. He somehow managed to charter a military plane and he still never gets there. The elderly Irishman does get there and manages to inadvertently kill the New Jersey gangsters. He also invokes the old gods and a variety of Druidy things to make Jessica super psychically powerful for a hot minute. Helpful.

Peregrine and Merricat survey their domain from atop the pumpkins. They see all.

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Miranda and the Owl

50. The Ghost Next Door – Wylly Folk St. John

This book is from 1972 and it is very much for persons on the young end of young’un but printed in the form of a YA book when YA wasn’t entirely a thing and juveniles might be keen to read something melancholy with a smidge of the supernatural.

The children in the book were nice enough to follow around trying to find an owl that Miranda, lord of the neighborhood – well, not really, her aunt just hasn’t been able to get past or through her grief about Miranda’s death, and her aunt made with “love in its eyes.” There’s a seance, which is immediately pegged as being to mislead the poor aunt, there are notes Miranda left behind, there’s Miranda’s half-sister who seems to be communicating with Miranda somehow, and it turns into a nice little semi-cozy mystery instead of Miranda sucking everyone into hell because of her untimely death. That could wait till the 1980s.

Merricat, haver of an untimely death via liver cancer at age 2, says we’ll be dragging everyone to hell at noon.


1. Anonymous Letter – Ogre and Dallas Campbell
2. The Deadenin’ – Legendary Shack Shakers
3. Lost in Time – Midnight Force
4. Grey Garden – Windhand
5. The Otherworld – All of Them Witches
6. Night Child – Electric Wizard
7. Near Dark – Dance with the Dead
8. Ghosts House – Witchcraft
9. The Guest at the Window – Pentagram Home Video
10. Goodbye Gemini – Blood Ceremony
11. Ghost Boy – Widowspeak
12. Circumradiant Dawn – Dead Can Dance
13. Blood Promise – Swans
14. Things Present, Things Past – Blood Ceremony

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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.

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Dead things, Mikey.

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!




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All the Coopers can’t be Special Agent Dale Cooper.

68. Final Girls – Riley Sager

Xanax and grape soda. And Wine. And a boyfriend that South Park would’ve described as a ’90s guy – Chris, but in this case it’s Jeff. A baking blog. An expensive apartment in New York bought with the settlement funds from her friends’ deaths. That’s how Quincy makes it through being the final girl of a slasher-style cabin massacre. That and texts to and meetings with Coop, the cop who showed up. Until one of the other two final girls she’s aware of gets murdered…and the other one shows up at her building.

This was a fun thriller. It was also not fun, but them’s the brakes of massacre, anxiety, and PTSD depictions. It had a stellar ending, I was incredibly pleased as someone who has also had to deal with being a survivor of several abusive situations and doesn’t have a paid for expensive apartment and the ability to solely work on their blog instead of having a real job.

Merricat never had to pay for anything either, but, she had serious grit and still works posthumously as a model.

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