White Horse by Alex Adams

This review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher, Emily Bestler Books/Atria.

White Horse
Alex Adams

The Premise: Zoe is a woman traveling across Europe.  War and disease have decimated the world, and Zoe has to contend with the few survivors – the immune and those who mutated into something else.  There are dangerous people on the road, but there are also those who haven’t lost their humanity, including Zoe — which is why she rescues a young blind girl and brings her along. As they travel, Zoe remembers the past eighteen months that brought the world to where it is now. For her, all began when she worked as a janitor at Pope pharmaceuticals and came home one day to find that someone had bypassed her home security and left a mysterious jar in her living room.
Read an excerpt of White Horse here
My Thoughts:  The narrative in White Horse alternates between THEN, when Zoe first finds the malevolent jar in her apartment and the world slowly begins to slide into chaos, and NOW, when Zoe is traversing Europe on foot amongst the rubble and death. Both timelines promise to answer lingering questions as Zoe narrates – what is Zoe’s destination and why, in the NOW, and what was in the jar and what is this new illness in the THEN. These questions do get their answers, but in the meantime, Zoe is the pragmatic hero holding on to her sense of decency during a terrible time.

“When I wake, the world is still gone. Only fragments remain. Pieces of places and people who were once whole. On the other side of the window, the landscape is a violent green, the kind you used to see on a flat-screen television in a watering hole disguised as a restaurant. Too green. Dense gray clouds banished the sun weeks ago, forcing her to watch us die through a warped, wet lens.There are stories told among pockets of survivors that rains have come to the Sahara, that green now sprinkles the endless brown, that the British Isles are drowning. Nature is rebuilding with her own set of plans. Man has no say.

It’s a month until my thirty-first birthday. I am eighteen months older than I was when the disease struck. Twelve months older than when war first pummeled the globe. Somewhere in between then and now, geology went crazy and drove the weather to schizophrenia. No surprise when you look at why we were fighting. Nineteen months have passed since I first saw the jar.”

THEN, Zoe mops floors at her job at the drug company and has normal family – her two parents, and her married sister, Jenny. Zoe’s biggest problem was boredom and dealing with her relatives’ annoying matchmaking. Then the jar shows up, and Zoe begins to see therapist Nick Rose and has her friend James (a assistant museum curator) examine it. Acquaintances start to get sick, and seemingly incongruous events begin to take on alarming significance. NOW, Zoe is in Europe, trekking through gutted villages. She is determined to get to a specific destination, and her day-to-day worry is about survival. In both worlds, there are secondary characters that come and go, some making more of an impact than others, but everyone is dealing with the same things Zoe is. Relationships are sketched out quickly – there is the sense that they may be ephemeral once disease strikes, but it’s always clear how Zoe feels about the other characters, and it’s easy to empathize with her feelings.
THEN is filled with a sense of foreboding, that something terrible is beginning to happen. NOW is dreary and bleak – the horrors so many that Zoe has become somewhat numb. Both sides of the narrative are peppered with unsettling details. Like a lot of Horror stories, White Horse makes it impossible to feel completely comfortable with the story. Fire alarms along a white hallway are linked to menstrual blood on a sanitary pad, and crumbs flying from a mouth are described in icky detail. As for the gory stuff, we get glimpses of the monsters that were once men along Zoe’s journey, but the story doesn’t focus on them. The things people do to each other and to themselves is just as gruesome – there is a rape and assault within the first fifteen pages, plenty of death (some of it very brutal), and a creepy judgmental character stalks our protagonist through Europe.
While there is this pervasive thread of Horror throughout White Horse, Zoe herself manages to keep her moral compass, and she finds other people who do the same. There is a lot of hope in this story, if you can grit your teeth through the rest of it. There is even a love story in there.  Although it’s not delved into as much as I would like, the romance lifts the dark mood of the story somewhat.
Overall: White Horse is a post-apocalyptic survival tale focusing on a woman named Zoe before and after the world-wide cataclysmic event. Zoe’s tell-it-like-it-is voice and my curiosity about what happened and what will happen kept me flipping the pages. Although I wouldn’t normally pick a Horror-infused story for myself, there was just enough hope alleviating the darkness to appeal to me. That said, I give you fair warning — this is a very dark and often gruesome tale. It’s difficult for me to predict how much the unsettling bits will affect you.
Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository
Other reviews:
Let me know if I missed yours
I like the cover of the UK edition of the book:

Stories for Nighttime and Some For the Day by Ben Loory

Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day came to me from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing it. Although I love the cover (the sea, the sky, a tentacle, and a spaceship!) this is a book that I wouldn’t have found on my own. So chalk it up as one of the nice things about book blogging – getting to read good books outside your usual purview.

Read one of the stories, “The Girl In the Storm” here

Now, how do I describe this book? The one sentence summary is that this is a set of weird little stories. Very short, simple stories that feel like someone is relating a dream to you. Nameless and indistinct figures are the central characters. There was “a man”, “a woman”, “a moose”, “a tree”, “a boy”, or “a girl”, and then this very strange thing happens to them. Maybe they encounter an alien, or an ominous hat starts following them. Maybe they find a fish in their teapot. The story continues from there, and you keep reading because you have no idea how the story is going to end, and with 40 stories in 210 pages, each story is only a few pages long. And you have to know. Then you begin the next story. It’s the literary equivalent of eating potato chips. Before long, you’ve eaten the whole bag.

This book grew out of a horror writing class, but I didn’t find any of the stories very frightening, there’s just the dread of the unknown about some of them. They end in a way that suggests something bad has just happened without explicitly telling the reader what that was. To tell you the truth, most of my favorites had this sort of end. My other favorites were the stories that were just about living life – the stories in which someone or something decides to see the world, and what happens when they do, or the stories that had characters finding a friend or a love. I liked the sweet endings and the uncertain endings, although there were of course the endings that were neither.

Most of the stories were good, but every so often I hit one that fell flat. Usually these were the ones where I just didn’t get their point and as a result they became forgettable. I feel like either I’ve failed as a reader for not appreciating the meaning in the story, or the story has failed to actually convey a meaning. I can’t decide which.

Overall: I’d say I liked this one and it is a compelling read, but I also felt a little bit like these stories rely on a sort of Quirky-Kooky formula. It would have been nice to have stories in the mix that did not rely on this. I’d recommend it to people who have an appreciation for the offbeat.

Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers – 8 (Excellent, and a notable read of 2011)

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: Seance for a Vampire by Fred Saberhagen

This book was provided to me by the publisher, Titan Books, for review.

The Premise: In this series by different authors (originally published in the ’90s and being repackaged and republished today), Sherlock Holmes interacts with very unusual characters like the supernatural or alien. Some characters are recognizable from other famous works like aliens from the War of the Worlds, and in this case the vampire Dracula (who is a cousin).

In Seance for a Vampire, Holmes and Watson are asked to sit in on a seance for their client Ambrose Altamont. Altamont believes that a couple of charlatans are using the recent drowning death or their eldest daughter Louisa to swindle money out of his too easily duped wife. This turns out not to be a simple case however, because Louisa Altamont does show up at the seance – but as a vampire, and she begs her family to find some long lost treasure before her soul can rest. In the ensuing chaos, Sherlock Holmes is kidnapped. Watson turns to the only person who could help in these bizarre circumstances – Holmes’ distant cousin, Prince Dracula.

My Thoughts: This is sort of a mash-up, because we have Sherlock Holmes, and we have vampires and Dracula, but it’s not quite what I consider a mash-up, where worlds from an original story is used with additional monsters added to it. This is an original work but using characters from famous works. I’m not really a fan of mash-ups but I do like mysteries and I do like vampires, so I thought it would be interesting to see what this one would be like.

This book read like a pretty straightforward mystery – the prologue gives us most of the background into the crime who is behind it all and why. I won’t go into details here to keep it spoiler free, but this is all in the prologue, which means the reader knows what is going on at all times, and the only mystery is where the treasure really is hidden. Otherwise, we just follow Watson and Dracula, who are the narrators of the story, as they track down Louisa Altamont and the man who turned her into a vampire.

I think the writing is supposed to reflect the same tone as the original Sherlock Holmes novels, and there is a formality to the story because of that. It’s a clear, easy read, but also rather dry. The voice of Dracula is a little bit more elegant than that of Watson, but sometimes I did not really notice when the narrators had been switched until either one would drop a clue as to who was talking. Dracula would also sometimes describe his actions in the third person as if his alias, Mr. Prince, was another character, which was very odd. I think that the author must have done a lot of research into the time period that this book was set (the early 1900s), and it is reflected in the language and the terms used. I  liked the mention of the newest technology of the time – the motorcars and how driving in them at 30 miles an hour was a novelty, but at times the details felt like overkill, like when Dracula reads pages of headings of a daily newspaper, and this had nothing to do with the case.

One thing that bothered me in this book was the way a lot of the female characters were portrayed. Firstly, they were all very minor, and victims (of murder, kidnapping, rape, fraud) or opportunists (a vampiress, a fake psychic). Then there is what happens to them. I suppose the thing that really bothered me was when Louisa shows up in her fiance’s bedroom and the next morning after their night together, he is repelled and attracted to her (not knowing at yet beginning to suspect that she’s not Louisa anymore), and thinks of her as “last night’s whore”. He sleeps with her again the next night. It’s a case where one line in a book can really jar you. Later we find that Watson, Holmes, and Dracula are all sure that Louisa was raped by a vampire (I’m not sure what evidence they used, but apparently her night with her fiance was it), which disturbed me further because her actions did not reflect this. I think that a lot of the characters got very distraught and upset over Louisa’s death and return as a “ghost” but the deep trauma that Louisa herself must have gone through in turning into a vampire seemed glossed over and that one line with her fiance thinking of her as a whore felt REALLY inappropriate.

After reading this, I discovered a lot of references to a previous adventure with Sherlock Holmes and Dracula. You don’t have to read that book (The Holmes-Dracula File) to understand what’s going on in this one, but it would probably help.

Overall: It was OK. It was a light, easy read. The pull of the book was having both Dracula and Sherlock Holmes in it, but the story was so straightforward and lacked a really juicy mystery, that I felt like Holmes or Dracula could have been substituted with any detective and vampire team and there wouldn’t have been a difference, and the switch in narrators was sometimes confusing. I also had a problem with the portrayal of the victim Louisa in this story.

Buy: Amazon | Powell’s | The Book Depository

Other reviews:
The Great Geek Manual – C (70 / 100)

Child of Fire by Harry Connolly

This was a book I won over at the lovely Book Love Affair which is one of my favorite blogs for urban fantasy recommendations.

The Premise: Ray Lilly is a newly released convict who drives around a powerful woman named Annalise. Annalise tracks down illegal spell users and other nasties associated with people using magic and fixes the problem (often without mercy and with a high bystander death rate). Ray is not fond of Annalise and her methods, and as for Annalise, she hates Ray. The only reason he’s still alive is that Annalise was instructed not to kill him by someone in the Twenty Palace Society, the community of Sorcerers that she works for, so Ray works with her in mutual dislike. Their current assignment is to track down the odd magic signature in the town of Hammer Bay.

Read an excerpt of Chapter 1

My Thoughts: It’s nice to have a male protagonist in an urban fantasy.  Ray was an interesting character — he’s a very recent ex-con and he mentions things he did in his past which go from car theft to murder, but the particulars are unclear.   I got the impression that his last stint in jail was somehow related to having his new job now.  Clues about his past are slowly fed to the reader, and I hope more will be explained as the series continues about what really happened.  From what we see of Ray, he has a conscience and the thought of killing people horrifies him.  He’s also protective of innocents around him and gets very bitter when he thinks that someone is just standing around doing nothing. Annalise calls him too sentimental for the business, but he ultimately does what he has to for survival and to do his job. I also like that he’s got little magic compared to his boss so he has to rely on his quick thinking more than on his spelled tattoos and ‘ghostknife’ made out of paper wrapped up in tape and laminate. Ray has a lot of depth. Annalise on the other hand is someone who is very hard to read. Probably because we see her through Ray’s eyes. With him, she has two facets – impenetrable, and stoic. Every so often a little bit of emotion seems to seep through her but it’s enough for Ray and the reader to know she’s one of the good guys, but I think it will take more than one book to get a real reading on her.

The townspeople in Hammer Bay on the other hand did not much as big as impression on me. They were sketched with a quick hand – prominent features like a mustache or hair color and height would give you a general impression, but it would be enough to recognize them later on in the book. There are a lot of townspeople that Annalise and Ray meet, and I don’t think the reader is supposed to really get too attached to any one of them because they’re soon fodder for the evil and corruption going on in Hammer Bay. I mostly did not like the town, because sometimes the reactions of people were so extreme, such as going from having a pleasant conversation with Ray suddenly disliking a comment he makes so much that they’d let him walk into a beating by a band of Hee-haws.  It was almost a cliche about small town suspicions and prejudice against strangers, and I’m not sure how much was supposed to be natural and how much was the influence of the evil presence in the town.

There’s a lot of violence in this story. Most of the time it didn’t get past vaguely uncomfortable, I think I was able to keep myself mentally separated enough not to get squicked, but there are some sad parts, especially when you discover what has been happening to the children. I would say this book has some elements of horror in it, which becomes apparent early on. I wasn’t expecting it so I was surprised by how the book started out.

Overall: The writing is good and there is plenty of action which meant I kept picking it up and reading it when I had the chance, but it has a lot of violent bits which left me with an unsettled feeling throughout.  If you like gritty tales, you will be fine I think.

Buy: Amazon | Powells

Other reviews:
Book Love Affair – 7 out of 10
Lurv à la Mode – 2 out of 5
Fantasy Dreamers Ramblings – 2.5 out of 5 stars
Karrissa’s Reading Review – 4 out of 5

The Eternal Kiss by various authors, edited by Trisha Telep

I actually tend to like anthologies because it gives me a chance to “try out” or find new authors I may not have tried out on my own. Usually there are always hits and misses, but what I liked about The Eternal Kiss was that although it is a young adult anthology and it’s about vampires it doesn’t make the mistake of only being about teenage romance, and it doesn’t shy away from the darker side of vampires. I picked this ARC up at BEA.

I did something a little different here – I wrote up my review as I read the book, just jotting a couple of sentences on each short story. Very brief reviews follow (my two favorite stories were the ones by Karen Mahoney and by Sarah Brennan):

1) Falling to Ash by Karen Mahoney – Vampire girl (Moth) comes home to find her sire wants her to get the ashes of a recently staked vampire. Really like this one, this author has been on my radar on LJ, but I hadn’t connected the the LJ user with “Karen Mahoney” (sometimes things get past me), until I had already read and liked this.  This is the introduction to a series about Moth, so now looking forward to it.

2) Shelter Island by Melissa de la Cruz – 15 year old Hannah has a mysterious visitor at night. I couldn’t connect with this one. I think the characters, particularly the female protagonist were a not substantial enough in the amount of pages this story was for me to grasp them.

3) Sword Point by Maria V. Snyder – Girl fencer discovers that the prestigious fencing school she goes to is more than it seems – interesting at first but then I started to lose interest halfway when the relationship part occurs. The action at the end felt very perfunctory.

4) The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black – A bitten girl tries to stay human, but then learns her ex-boyfriend and a neighbor girl have run away to Coldtown, the vampire section of town. A dark story about the glamorizing of vampirism. Liked it, nice and chilling.

5) Undead is Very Hot Right Now by Sarah Brennan – A nineteen year old who has been a vampire for a year joins a boy band. Hilarious. I laughed aloud so much reading this one. Another author I plan to look for in the bookstore.

6) Kat by Kelley Armstrong – A teen is awoken by her vampire guardian and try to escape would-be captors in the middle of the night – Interesting. Ending makes me want to read more, maybe the start of a series?

7) The Thirteenth Step by Libba Bray – Teen gets a job at a halfway house which may not be all that it seems. I think my own experiences cloud the way I read this story. It bothered me that the protagonist become like the addict sister she considered selfish.

8 ) All Hallows by Rachel Caine – Vampire boyfriend of the narrator gets into trouble and she goes in to save him. Readers may need to have read other Morganville books. This is a short story in that world that seems to fit in the timeline after the first 4 or 5 books.

9) Wet Teeth by Cecil Castellucci A vampire begins to feel alive for the first time in a long time after meeting a strange girl in the park. This one seems to focus on the ending, and left me a bit wanting for the rest of the story, but seems to be in the right vein for horror.

10) Other Boys by Cassandra Clare- A girl begins to get interested in the new boy in school, who says he’s a vampire. This one had elements of nice old school horror.

11) Passing by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguié – A girl has to pass the final class in her vampire hunter academy – only one student will get a special elixar. A bit too complex of a back story to cram into a short story space.

12) Ambition by Lili St. Crow –  Smart but poor schoolgirl meets boy at club. Girl falls out with rich best friend. Boy may be supernatural. Dreamy, sort of hazy relationship that may be dangerous à la Heavenly Creatures. I keep re-reading the last three lines, wanting questions answered.

13) All Wounds by Dina James – Girl discovers her grandmother and the bad boy in detention aren’t exactly who she thought they were, and neither is she. Looks like the start of a new series so there’s a lot of plot set-up, but not much time for more than brief character sketches.

The Eternal Kiss will be released July 27th.

The Domino Men by Jonathan Barnes

The Domino Men
Jonathan Barnes

I got a review copy of The Domino Men recently from Eos Books. I'd never read anything by Jonathan Barnes before, and I went into this story without knowing what it was about. I think that's the best way to start this book, because my first impression was the same as the main character's; I had no idea what was going on. Even fifty pages in, I was still puzzled.  There was only hints here and there from the strange events in protagonist and main narrator, Henry Lamb's life, of evil looming over London, and nothing being exactly what it seems. Although Henry's life seems a bit boring at first, working as a filing clerk at the Civil Service Archive Unit, it's clear from the get go that something is going to happen. His narrative begins with:

"I simply have to hope that there'll be time enough for me to set down my own story, or at least as much of it as I can remember before the thing which sleeps inside me wakes, stirs, flexes its muscles and, with a lazy flick of its gargantuan tail, gives me no alternative but to forget." 

Pretty ominous, eh? To make things more interesting, his narrative begins to get interrupted by another, conflicting voice, something that takes over Henry's consciousness and describes what's happening elsewhere. What ends up happening is that the reader gets completely caught up in the story. One crisis quickly follows another and clues to the big picture only comes in bite size pieces. There's the Directorate, a covert government group that is fighting something terrible that threatens London and all her citizens. They are very interested in Henry, for reasons that aren't immediately clear. Then there is Henry's grandfather, a man hated by this family except for Henry, and who is in a coma. He holds a lot of clues to Henry's current predicament. Surrounding all of this is a cast of oddball, sometimes supernatural characters, playing a long term game with London at stake.

The words that I kept using to describe this book to people was "creepy" and "disturbing", but it affected me like the way cartoon violence does; you're insulated by the vagueness and by the fact that you're reading a book. There is also some humor in the writing and tone, which keeps it from being truly scary, at least to me. I also had a good time recognizing paths that were likely going to cross and paying attention to all the foreshadowing. Certain minor details never really get explained, which I chalked up to atmosphere. It's not for everyone, but if you have a decent tolerance to sometimes gross events, and you like dark humor, you'll probably find this an enjoyable read. 

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Insatiable Desire by Rita Herron

This is the first book of the Demonborn series by Rita Herron. I have to say this isn't something I would pick up for myself – I'd never read anything by this author although she has apparently written over 50 books, but I was offered a copy by the author so I gave it a try.

This is billed as a "paranormal romance" but I thought it was a lot darker than I would have expected from a paranormal. There is a lot of violence and torture described in the story besides the other paranormal elements – I'd say it definitely has horror elements.

Clarissa King is a psychic who lives by the Black Forest in Eerie, Tennessee, and she believes that the recent deaths of young women are related, and that they were murdered by the same person. Brought in to investigate is Vincent Valtrez of the FBI, who used to know Clarissa when they were younger. He used to live in Eerie before his abusive father killed his mother in a demonic rite, and Vincent, then 10 years old, was found outside the Black Forest with no memory of what happened. Let's just say that his guy is messed up in the head because of it. Sparks fly when the two meet again, but Vincent is not interested in having a relationship.

Vincent has a lot of darkness inside him which he attributes to his father's "bad blood" and because of this, he's very abrasive to women. He fears hurting someone the way his father hurt his mother. Clarissa on the other hand has her own issues – her mother and grandmother had her same pyschic ability, an ability to see restless spirits, but her mom went mad because of it and killed herself. Clarissa's greatest fear is following in her mother's footsteps.

The paranormal aspect of this book is demons. The burn in hell, minions of Satan, evil, scary, trying to steal your soul kind. The kind of demons they talk about in church. In the Black Forest they say that there is a black cave that is the palace of Satan on Earth, and every eclipse something bad happens because of it. In Insatiable Desire, the eclipse is coming and with it a new demon lord. One demon is trying to impress the new leader with souls, using his talent of touching a person and knowing their greatest fear.

An excerpt of the book is here.

My thoughts:  First the characters – Vincent was really a big jerk, I mean huge, to Clarissa for about most of the book. Even after they have sex, he pushes her away again and again, but Clarissa actually keeps trying, and says that she knows he's like this because he was abused by his father as a kid. I had a hard time really agreeing with that, so I found Clarissa too forgiving. Every time it's Clarissa who reaches out and is the vunerable one first: saying she wants him, saying she loves him, and every time, he turns her down in a not nice way. Yet she tries again. Vincent also had a rule to only have sex with a woman once, and they had to face away from him. This wasn't really knight in shining armor material there. I think a lot of this is explained away by the face that Vincent is "demonborn" – half demon, which means he has tendencies towards evil as well as towards good, but it made me not like him much. It's hard to like someone who has fantasies of strangling women to death, and has blackouts where he wakes up with blood on his hands. Disturbing. Then the violence and the evil in the Black Forest – I just am not that into horror, and after a while it was too much. Not that I was seriously creeped out – more like it's just a lot. And it started to make me wonder – why is it that people called Clarissa "Crazy Clarissa" when they lived right next to the Forest where all this bad stuff often happened? Why didn't people believe in the supernatural there, but believed the Forest was full of evil? It was confusing.

The premise is interesting – half demon, half angel men who are really seriously fighting for their souls. I think there are people who will like this series, but I'm not quite the target audience for it.

The demonborn website with more information about this series, the world, it's characters, and a book trailer, is here.

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Happy Hour of the Damned by Mark Henry

My stupid laptop died with a fan error. I believe this makes it.. mmm 8 times I've had a laptop die. And each time, my reaction gets smaller. I barely even blinked this time (I have backups burned. Highly recommend backing up your things. Let this be a lesson). I find using this backup desktop annoying though. I can't pick this up and carry it around.

I wanted to post this review with a picture of my ARC and cover flat but yeah, the laptop death means I'll have to do that later. They look so pretty together. The cover is in a matte finish, I love that. This book comes out in trade paperback format on March 2008.

I won this book and the author is on my livejournal friendslist, so I was a bit nervous when I first saw it. I would feel weird if I didn't like this book. I wouldn't be able to lie about things I didn't like. So when I started reading, I was smiling – this book is awesome! I don't think I've read anything like it, mostly because of the main character.

The book reads like a memoir told from the first person viewpoint of a snarky-as-hell, newly-undead, fashionista socialite named Amanda Feral. An advertising executive with a tendancy to mock every single person she meets (if not out loud, in her head), she and her friends spend their time in one nightclub or another drinking and gossiping in Seattle. It's a pretty superficial existence, but fascinating to read about and picture – the nightlife of the undead in Seattle from the viewpoint of a newcomer like Amanda is chock-full of revelations. One in ten Seattle resident could be a werewolf, zombie, vampire, shapeshifter, god, demon or other, but humans take no notice as the supernaturals (including Amanda), prey on their numbers.

Amanda feasts on runaways and homeless people in a gorey way – unhinging her jaw and eating them in a few bites.  There's talk of blood spatter and intestines. The woman is brazenly un-P.C. She barely feels guilt for her kills or methods of luring people in, it's like a fun game most of the time, and I'm pretty sure she has something offensive to say about every subset of the population she encounters. And yet, she's so up-front and over the top about everything she ends up being quite funny and likeable. I thought that if the two ladies of Absolutely Fabulous became zombies, this is the type of book you'd get out of it. This book just did dark humor really well. My two favorite things:

1. Amanda has OCD and has a thing for lists, and she peppers her story with footnotes, which are just asides for things she's saying in the narration. My favorite one is number 50 on page 101. Not sure the numbering is going to be the same in the final so let's say second one on chapter 9:

"In high school – nasty old barnaby Ridge – I had been a lonely girl." The footnote for this sentence begins - "If this comes as a surprise, then you have overlooked the fact that I am a total bitch."

I laughed.

2. The crux of the plot – Amanda receives a text from a friend saying "help!". But Amanda despairs about her group's usefulness. "How are we going to help? Not a caring nurturer in the bunch". A gay vampire and two socialite zombies, they freak out despite their supernatural powers. When they discover that their friend is missing, they immediately seek the comfort of food and its a couple of days before Amanda starts looking into things. I'm not sure they're meant to be the bravest bunch, but they're the most.. something.

The story meandered around a bit, I think a testimony to Amanda's nature. I liked the unpredictability. There were little side stories told by Amanda's friends about their beginings, which Amanda titles the Inconderate Interludes of the Bitter and Pathetic, and helpful random insets from Amanda regarding DJ playlists and alcoholic drink recipes. And there's doubling back to add a confession or get back to the point.

You never know what is going to happen. I think the writer had fun and threw a couple of things in there to waylay the reader. Some big things and some subtle things. I'm wondering what was going on with the weather in Seattle (Raining for two months. Is that Seattle in-joke? I feel like I missed something vital).  Anyway. I had an amusing and unique ride. And. There is a second book. Road Trip of the Living Dead! My italics for emphasis.

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Working for the Devil and Dead Man Rising by Lilith Saintcrow (mini review)












There's a review of Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow (I love that name), over at Smart Bitches, Trashy books. The books deal with a futuristic world where the protagonist is a necromancer who calls the dead to ask them questions, or brings people back if they aren't over the gate yet. A review I mostly agree with (Dante is angry and explodes over things I don't really think are that big a deal), except I thought that the relationship between Dante and Japhramel was believable (it grew subtley, I noticed it, but I think many people didn't find it obvious enough? I don't like the over-obvious "I LOVE YOUUUU, you are my SOULMATE even though I just met you and know nothing about you" storyline, and didn't think this was that).

The angry Dante thing was better in the second book – Dead Man Rising. There is more backstory of her past which explains some of it she's had a tough life. Actually I was beginning to feel wrung out over reading about her past and how many loved ones she's had die. In Dead Man Rising Danny seems to have grown a little bit, although her very headstrong attitude remains. Anyway, I liked the world quite a bit in these books (necromancers, schools for people with gifts, going over to hell and talking to the devil? how could you not), although there is quite a bit of angst going on. I reviewed them on PBS here (book 1) and here (book 2, don't read if you dont want to be spoiled over the end of book 1)… too lazy to review it again on vox.

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