35. The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion – Margaret Killjoy
Vengeance demon! Fun! This was a strangely stiff bit of punk fantasy. There were a lot of conversations that slowed the narrative, even though it’s extremely short. I was originally interested because of a description I found that mentioned the book was quite weird and set in my home state. Being in Iowa doesn’t have anything important to do with the story as far as I can tell now, having read the whole thing. Fine.
I did quite like the onset of the weirdness and the vengeance demon was quite cool. The characters were interesting, some of them fit stereotypes of people who want to tell you about how great communal lifestyles are…like the Manson Family… You know, like, everything should be free – this is both a stereotype and something I’ve mainly heard from rich people who have rejected being rich, except for the, like, money from their parents part. They don’t really want to “live like common people do.” Thankfully, there were also characters with a little more dimension, although a couple of them never appeared in the story while alive. And the story took place right at a point of conflict in the town that revolved around how irritating it is to actually work together and have leaders and how an entire community’s priorities rarely line up smoothly. Overall, I give it the bread with jelly on it scratch n’ sniff sticker- “Grape Stuff.” I might also be tempted to stick the individual roller skate one on the side so that the edge is hanging off – “Keep Rollin’,” as this is a series and I will certainly read book two. Does anyone really know what that skate was supposed to smell like?
Danger Crumples, seen hoarding the resources of Ozymandias. Guinea pigs are technically social animals, but they totally let the hierarchy get in the way. All the time. Herd politics. They get that weird sticker that’s an incredibly realistic pickle and just says “GOOD WORK” in the semi-blandest of fonts, which signals they’re shit at working together beyond begging for treats within ten minutes of having finished their previous treats.
8. Midnight Crossroad – Charlaine Harris
There seemed to be a lot of possibility in Midnight, Texas. There are antiques, a diner, vampires, a psychic…a bunch of townspeople who are probably all hiding supernatural connections and secrets… It’s not entirely True Blood in Texas, but it’s also not totally set apart enough to not feel a like True Blood in Texas – complete with TV deal and vampire. I thought about watching the show, after all, the beginning seasons of True Blood were bloody, ridiculous fun, but I still haven’t. I also thought about reading more of this series, but I still haven’t. Midnight Crossroad just had a little too much scene setting and not enough story for me. I don’t want to know that you’re setting up a series, I want a whole. A solidly conclusive whole story, at least on some level that I felt Midnight Crossroad was lacking.
This is Merricat’s “Interrogating Pawnshop Workers in Texas” face. So intimidating.
4. Them or Us – David Moody
Welcome to the post-post-apocalypse, where if you can’t get your mental shit together, you’re doomed. Then again, you always were doomed, even if you could get your mental shit together because there’s some probably tiny handed dictator waiting to only give you food if you’re fittingly sycophantic and brutal. Sheesh. How do these people gain power? Oh wait, regardless of country, sometimes they get voted in.
Them or Us is a fittingly bleak and mildly brutal end to the Hater trilogy, set in Lowestoft, and yet, The Darkness’ fate was not mentioned. I assume Justin and Dan and co. are fine and were in a bunker when the bombs fell – after all, bombs are really only supposed to fall on Slough, isn’t that how the poem goes?
It was the coming of the …Belvedere. Damnit, too many syllables, and “Bel Bel” just doesn’t have the same ring as “Black Shuck.” He was certainly “a curious beast” though. Oooooooh.
33. Darkest Heart – Nancy A. Collins
It’s recently come to my attention that I still know every single sound in the movie Interview with the Vampire by heart. It was on HBO the other night, presumably in anticipation of that Vampire Chronicles TV series I’ve heard minimal amounts of things about and so I watched it for the first time in ages with Finny, and Peregrine, when Finny got tired of me telling him when a noise I didn’t like was about to come on – like when Louis first dies and when that one prostitute is making that snapping noise at Lestat, and there’s more…there’s always more. I believe the main reason I know it by heart is that I used to listen to it when it was on Pay per View and I couldn’t see it (scrambled), but the sound was perfect. Apparently that’s not what other people were “watching” on scrambled Pay per View but that’s fine.
Anyway, vampires have been of interest to me for a long time, and my mom found Darkest Heart at a library sale and got it for me. It turns out it’s the last in the Sonja Blue series, and I read it first. It did make a little bit of a difference. I wasn’t entirely invested in the character as a vampire who also happened to be a “badass vampire hunter,” perhaps I’ve been tainted by Blade. But I did see a certain familiar conflict between vampiricism and humanity (“Oh, Louis, Louis, still WHINING, Louis!” – best part of the whole movie, unexpectedly) and the plot and action were fast paced (Sonja is not as mopey as Louis, even though I’ve always loved Louis, [named one of my own characters after him – a broody, angry poet werewolf] Sonja is like the Slayer to Louis’ Neutral Milk Hotel) and made it clear that there’s a toothsome quality to the series. I’ve since read more Sonja Blue books and enjoyed them, but I haven’t stumbled across the first one just yet.
“Yes, please, tell me more about all those noises I don’t even understand in this movie.” – Peregrine
12. Soulmate – L.J. Smith
I did not know of the Night World series, or any other L.J. Smith series, actually, until I found a bunch of Night World books in the detritus of a closing book store’s YA section in 2014. I was looking for 1970s, 80s, and 90s YA as I usually am and the 1990s editions of the series have the most amazing covers. They’re paintings (of course, like I’d really be attracted to photography-based covers in YA…so 2000s…) of the main female characters (sometimes with special guests) surrounded by flowers and weird monster and demon faces and one face that really looks like wolf form attacking Lucy in the rain-Gary Oldman-Dracula from Bram Stoker’s Dracula and ravens and black cats and this one has a candlestick and they are bizarre and awesome pieces of book coverage. I know that this one was published in 1997, when I was a freshmen in high school and had moved on to reading Interview with the Vampire and Silence of the Lambs, but if I had known about this series when I was a teen I would have totally loved it. The female characters are well drawn and considering these are always romances, they’re feisty enough to not drive me nuts with their romantic angst (they’re certainly not swooners or “rape me and I’m yours” types) and I know I would have totally related to them –minus opportunity- when I was younger.
Soulmate concerns a romance throughout the ages, kind of like what Gary Oldman-Dracula is trying to imprint upon Winona Ryder-Mina in Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and by the way, I dug that movie quite a bit when I saw it as a teenager (surprise surprise); you know, “I have crossed oceans of time to find you” and all that other shit vampires say to not look like pedophiles to high school girls who don’t recognize them for the creepers that they are. Anyway, Hannah aka vampire dude’s soulmate, current body edition, is seeing a psychiatrist and it brings up repressed memories of her other lives with said vampire, and how said vampire murdered everyone she knew when they first met (and her) and it’s an interesting path to reconciliation. I know that the soulmate concept has a bigger part to play in the Night World, but I don’t have the whole series and I haven’t read all the ones I do have yet, so I have no idea where it’s going. Hopefully not a sad, couple filled kegger. Maybe Thunderdome for couples. I do know that I shelved the re-published, multiple books to one volume, covers featuring bland black and white photographs of random, staring girls versions of these books when I worked at the public library and I was not even remotely intrigued to read them. That was a shitty re-design, people. A shitty re-design. Those lonely, staring girls do not say “I have charisma and well constructed female characters inside.” They say “You will be alone forever inside the black void.” I, like, already know that.
Thaddeus knows Pickles is not his soulmate, that would be Pammy, but they still enjoyed each other’s company without dramatic protestations and no prehistoric villages had to be slaughtered.
1. “Seventh Wave” – Devin Townsend
2. “Satellite” – TV on the Radio
3. “Freya” – The Sword
4. “Sweet Leaf” – Black Sabbath
5. “Schyssta Logner” – Witchcraft
6. “Night City” – The Sword
7. “All Black” – Hanni El Khatib
8. “Long Time Coming” – Droids Attack
9. “Mouths of Madness” – Orchid
10. “Moonchild” – Fields of the Nephilim
11. “Satan/Dance You Fukr” – Zydepunks
12. “Bruane Brenn”- Kvelertak
13. “High Road” – Mastodon
19. Prisoner of Time – Caroline B. Cooney
When I started this book nearly a year ago, I was sitting in the depressingly low lit semi-basement of O’Hare, waiting to get on the tiny plane that would take me back to Moline, Illinois. There was a woman behind me who was speaking very loudly on her phone about how she wasn’t sure if she should be flying into Moline or Cedar Rapids, Iowa in order to allow her son to conveniently pick her up. Her son lives in Davenport. Davenport happens to be across the Mississippi River and a little to the left from Moline, but she clearly did not know the area well (Cedar Rapids is about an hour and a half from Moline) and made sure that everyone around her knew she didn’t know how close she was to the border between Iowa and Illinois. What I don’t get is why her son didn’t make her aware of how close Moline is to Davenport before she even left to visit…perhaps she wasn’t listening or didn’t care at the time. I felt very much like the title of this book was appropriate to how I was feeling listening and waiting to get on the plane. This whole conundrum, and the other helpful people who tried to point out to her that she was very, very close to Davenport in Moline, distracted me from realizing that I was reading a book that’s the fourth in a series. To be fair, it’s perfectly acceptable to stop explaining who everyone is and what’s going on when you get to the fourth book. If you tend to acquire books in a random fashion like I do, well after their publication dates, this can escape you and hinder your ability to get into the story. For the trip I was taking, I chose books based on their size (and all of them were by Caroline B. Cooney, 90s YA is an excellent size for travel).
Prisoner of Time is pretty melodramatic and there are a few logic jumps that just don’t ring true – I’d like to think there’s a process for hosting foreign exchange students that doesn’t involve bringing them home like stray cats and saying, “Hey, Mom, this girl from England’s going to live with us!” as that doesn’t seem organized- but time travel is time travel and sometimes it’s the only thing that will guarantee a progressive girl from the 1890s her independence. Or not, I think she went back, I can’t quite remember – I hope that lady’s son managed to get her across the river into Iowa without incident.
Murderface managed to get from Mississippi to Iowa on several occasions, which also involves crossing the Mississippi River a few times. Thankfully, we didn’t have to caulk the wagon and float across.
Filed under Books, Review
35. Dead Ever After – Charlaine Harris
The end of Sookie, except, I guess until October when there’s something else about this universe coming out. I do think that knowing that there is one more book, whether it’s just supposed to be a coda or not, cheapens things a bit. Especially since I felt like everyone and their dog – hey, Terry’s Catahoula Annie (I believe that’s her name) – showed up in the last one plus a new character or two.
I think that with all those cameos and all those “they seem like they’ll be okay or they’re far away” sort of endings, a coda isn’t really necessary. Every series has its end. Sookie has to be persecuted and kidnapped, Quinn has to show up in an outfit that will haunt me, Eric has to be a dick, the vampires in general mess with everyone’s schedule because they’re so bureaucratically ridiculous about their state-based marriages, and basically all is as it should be in the ending. It’s fine. Not unlike The Office finale, it’s mostly about checking in and tightening up loose ends. But I have to admit, I cried a lot during The Office finale (the Phyllis flamingo killed me, as did Mose gazing over at the scarecrow, and Dwight describing his relationships with his employees and calling Pam his best friend, sniff) and I barely registered the end of the Southern Vampire Mysteries – no tears. Normally, I cry very easily, it’s almost impressive how I can think “this should be an emotional moment” and my eyes are immediately twitching, even if I’m not really personally interested in participating in the emotions that are happening. I guess I thought the Sookie Stackhouse books meant more to me than they do. Just like watching every single season of The Office, I committed to reading all of those books, even when they seemed like placeholders and I was irritated.
That said, it’s impressive to write such a long series with such vibrant characters and so much going on. It spawned a ridiculous and enjoyable television show, the covers are neat-o, and there’s a coda coming out this year so no one ever has to feel any longing to know what happened for the rest of time! It’s a whole. I’ll never know if Mose managed to get that scarecrow to gaze back.
Even Twiglet and Pammy have ends. Fuzzy ones.