Two things. Normally, I don't read war books all that often, especially ones with a degree of historical perspective. The other thing is that while I...moreTwo things. Normally, I don't read war books all that often, especially ones with a degree of historical perspective. The other thing is that while I do occasionally read zombie comics, watch zombie movies, and play zombie games, I haven't been as keen as reading zombie books (I mean, I have read a few, but most have never really come up as particularly likable).
All that said, I actually quite like this book. By the Blood of Heroes is part one of Nassise's The Great Undead War series. Book one deals with a specialized mission involving the rescue of American pilot Jack Freeman out of the clutches of German enemy lines. Now let's mention the fact that the one leading this mission is a war veteran with a steampunky metallic arm. Oh, and the Germans have invented zombie gas. And the Red Baron, Germany's top ace, is a thinking zombie. Yeah, problems all around.
Maybe it was the steampunk, or maybe it was the historical period (I've always had such a fascination with WWI), or maybe it was the fact that there was so much going on, but I was certainly entertained. It did help that the characters were distinct, and that I felt anxious to see the Americans succeed. All the same, there were occasional glimpses of Baron Richthofen in the story, and I loved that point of view (particularly interesting because be is a zombie).
Mostly my caveat was that I realized (too late, as usual) that the book was a series, and while there is a relative degree of success occurring in the novel, the epilogue was pretty bleak.
I read this book in one sitting. One. I'm not even sure why I did it. People have stopped just to get away from the scariness of it all. But I just ke...moreI read this book in one sitting. One. I'm not even sure why I did it. People have stopped just to get away from the scariness of it all. But I just kept going because I knew the narrator would be alright in the end. Yet even the end wasn't predictable at all.
Neil Gaiman is to the writing world like Morgan Freeman to the acting world. (Okay, my metaphor only makes sense if you knew why I firmly believe Morgan Freeman is the voice of God). He weaves and spins stories that effectively make you think of fairy tales and children's folklore, with all of the scary bits and rich mythology behind them. It's beautiful, what he does in this book. And if this was the only one I've read of his, I'd devour the rest.
Fortunately, I've had more Gaiman exposure than this book, and that in itself is a blessing.(less)
Nothing shameless about writing a review of a book I read which happens to have something I wrote, right? Of course not!
Anyway, Return of the Dead Men...moreNothing shameless about writing a review of a book I read which happens to have something I wrote, right? Of course not!
Anyway, Return of the Dead Men (and Women) Walking is an assortment of tales of the undead, from zombies to vampires to necromancers to the crazy people living at the time of the Apocalypse. Some stories made me laugh, others disturbed me (which I believe is also an important invocation for a book in horror), and on occasion, one or two even made me feel both!
So yeah, a few personal favorites (though, again, all of them are really good):
"Bring Me the Head of Pepe Cortez!" by J. Tanner - Really great starter, set in the Wild West, starring a kid looking for a horse. Let me assure you, things escalate from there, and there were a number of brilliant nuggets in the short story that made me laugh a great deal.
"For All Your Carpeting Needs" by Matthew D. Johnson - The beginning won me over. The setting was mundane suburbia except there was absolutely nothing mundane about a dead body on a carpet. William and Edna made for an adorable duo.
"Fixing Nancy" by Jonathan Templar - Okay. I am a sucker for industrial Victoriana and clockwork. This story had the feel for both. Naturally, I loved it. And I'm still not sure whether I am horrified at the doctor's methods or humored at his insanity. Either way, it was fab stuff.
"The Body in the Water" by Oh Look At That! - What? I can't dote on this one?! Pshaw. What can go wrong with paranoid sailors and semi-sentient zombies? A lot, actually, but who's checking these things?(less)
This book was ODD. But I think it's because I'm so used to a not-so-nitty-gritty-type of steampunk narration. So the proper word to describe what I fe...moreThis book was ODD. But I think it's because I'm so used to a not-so-nitty-gritty-type of steampunk narration. So the proper word to describe what I feel about Whitechapel Gods is odd.
I get why there were so many character viewpoints, though I wish some of them could have just upped and disappeared. And I felt slightly dumb when I had to reread a number of pages over again and then go back to something chapters before because I didn't quite catch a lot of the details. I'm pretty sure I've read and reread the prologue more than five times by now. This was a good thing, because I tend to skim prologues, and if I didn't read it, I probably would have never known how Aaron Bolden even came to play. Go figure.
I certainly liked Whitechapel Gods for its intensity. I love the adamant way that the Uprisers (Can I call them that? Uprisers?) clawed their way from the clockwork (heh) just to gain their freedom from Grandfather Clock and Mama Engine. I loved how some of these people just outright refused to die, even when they sported chest-wounds the size of Africa. And I loved the dark scene of a wretched Whitechapel, but that's probably because I've been doing too much reading about that particular area that should make things unhealthy.
So yes. The book was odd, and it was strange coming off a fantasy high to walk into talks of aether and time and man-made machines and Boiler Men who just can't seem to die at all. But it was still good.(less)
Okay, I liked the idea of Dracula. I liked the idea that the story was written through accounts of those who were clearly afraid of him. And while Dra...moreOkay, I liked the idea of Dracula. I liked the idea that the story was written through accounts of those who were clearly afraid of him. And while Dracula hardly showed up, his presence was scary enough to have made all of those encountering him tremble and "shat their pants."
I'm not sure, however, whether I liked reading the story through annotations. Sometimes the annotations helped (especially when it came to trying to decipher the accented persons), other times they didn't and mostly just interrupted my train of thought and suspension of disbelief. The comparison between the abridged and unabridged texts also made me think that I should have just read the abridged text out of the fact that at least I wouldn't have to bear with the inconsistencies and the overly-drawn out journey to capture and cleanse the world of the vampire. I think past late September in the journal accounts, I was nodding off and flipping pages, just to figure out whether they would finally kill Dracula or whether Mina Harker would finally turn into a vampire and bite people (boy did I wish that to happen!). Also, I found Van Helsing boring, annoying, contradictory and borderline incompetent. Is it sad that the one guy I found endearing was the one committed to the insane asylum (good old Renfield!)?
That said, I did like the essays at the end. Bram Stoker is to be appreciated for spanning such a popular following. He put the myth of the vampire on the map, and he certainly was one of the vanguards of the vampire movement. I can't say I liked Stoker's Dracula more than, say, Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, but I do know that he opened the doors for all the possible interpretations of what authors find to be their kind of vampires (even if they are vegetarian, sparkly ones...). Also, I do agree. Bela Lugosi is the only "real" vampire. Yes.(less)
I'm slightly surprised it's taken me this long to pick up a Sir Walter Conan Doyle piece, and when I did, I quite enjoyed it! I am, however, quite gla...moreI'm slightly surprised it's taken me this long to pick up a Sir Walter Conan Doyle piece, and when I did, I quite enjoyed it! I am, however, quite glad that the narrative was in Watson's perspective; it would have been dreadfully boring if Holmes logically went about and solving cases even before we'd gotten to the suspense!
The story actually is even more amusing when I've just recently watched the 2009 movie, and now picture Dr. Watson as a deliciously scrumptious Jude Law...but hey! What can you do?(less)
It's interesting when you read a book again with fresh eyes. It must have been years and years that I'd read The Picture of Dorian Gray (probably when...moreIt's interesting when you read a book again with fresh eyes. It must have been years and years that I'd read The Picture of Dorian Gray (probably when I was a first or second year in high school), and when I opened the book again, half of a set of notes fell out. So I took those random page numbers and comments in mind, and I read the story again.
Of course I already knew the story and the plot (from the recent movie with a fantabulous Colin Firth as Lord Henry Wotton and from mild recollections of passages). But when I read it the first time, my notes implied the anger and overall incredulity of the text. The younger me was absolutely indignant over the drawn-out sayings that Lord Henry Wotton would spout to his friends. The older me is amused; in fact, so amused that I actually am enamored with his character. It's amazing how Dorian was easily twisted by a string of cynical words, even more so when the cynic himself is merely that: a cynic, and nothing more.
The writing style made me blush from time to time, not gonna lie. While the movie expressed all the debauchery that Oscar Wilde merely implied in the book, his description of beauty has that "oh la la", fan-yourself effect. It almost made me feel like I was reading a dime-romance on the train. Not good!
Dark and dangerous as they were, Anne Rice's coven of vampires makes me think of a family of cute, cuddly kittens. No lie. Of course, they're anything...moreDark and dangerous as they were, Anne Rice's coven of vampires makes me think of a family of cute, cuddly kittens. No lie. Of course, they're anything but cute and cuddly--especially not cuddly, maybe cute, in Armand's case. However, they were a family, and families somehow seem to act in the same manner, immortal or not.
I actually liked this book! I had been hoping to procure a copy of The Vampire Lestat before getting my hands on The Queen of the Damned, but I realize how much I actually like the tale of all the other vampires that was not Lestat. The brat prince will always be one of my personal favorites (I mean, how can I hate him after his wickedness in Interview?), but after the book, Armand and Marius were the vampires I most wanted to read about. It was a little frustrating, only getting those small glimpses of what took place in Armand's mind. That's okay, because Marius was such an enjoyable vampire to read!
The history of the vampires was fantastically vivid, and truly did span ages. What other way to display the history of their creation than to a gaggle of vampires across eras and civilizations, from Uruk to Egypt to Rome to the present age (and thensome). I was only sorry nothing about Troy was mentioned, though I suppose if anything was ever written about Khayman, there would be a story about Troy.
The Queen of the Damned was slow to start, with around 200 pages of introductions to characters; characters that the reader has met, and others that the reader should meet. Still, the snippets about Marius and Armand were decent. Khayman was also interesting, in any case. I can honestly say I was glad to have continued. It gained its momentum by the second part, when the pot was finally stirred, and the chaos brought all the vampires together.
But now I'm wondering how Marius will fare later on...(less)