Writer Wednesday – Elizabeth Donald

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…
…and a bit about what you’ve written…
…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m Elizabeth Donald, and I write stuff. By day I write for a daily newspaper on a variety of topics ranging from education to politics to crime. By night I write about monsters and zombies and things that go chomp in the night. I started writing fiction for publication a few years into my journalism career, though my fiction habit really dates all the way back to childhood. My first novel was published in 2004, and I’ve since written maybe 13 novels and novellas, depending on how you count the ebooks.

Right this moment, I’m working on a short story for an anthology about tragic love in speculative fiction. I’ve recently finished a collection of short stories titled Moonlight Sonata that I hope will see print next year, and waiting in the wings is a space adventure titled Banshee’s Run. I also have a few projects waiting in the editing queue and preparing to take my photography work to the next level. Other than that, I’m not too busy.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
My mother replaced the Berenstain Bears with Nancy Drew when I was a young girl, and Nancy led me into what we would have called “young adult” fiction if that term had existed. I started falling into historical drama and mysteries as a ‘tween, but then Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered and I was a science fiction fan for life.

What are your three favorite books?
You’ve just broken me. My favorite novel is probably IT by Stephen King, whose entire bibliography ranks among my top re-reads in my ridiculous library. Peter David’s Imzadi is one of the best tie-in novels I’ve ever read, and for more recent work, I’m desperately in love with the Newsflesh series by Mira Grant, particularly the first novel, Feed.

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I used to devour a book a night – up to three nights if it was a real epic, like The Stand or Gone With the Wind. Then I had a child, and I discovered the desperation of sleep deprivation. I usually read one fiction and one nonfiction book simultaneously, since they use different parts of my brain, but then I also read a copious number of blogs, articles and assorted nonsense for work. Currently I’m reading The Day She Died by Bill Garrison, and just finished Book of Shadows by Alexandra Sokoloff. In nonfiction, I have a stack of books on the influenza epidemic of 1918 – research for future misbehavior.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
…want to fall through the hole in the paper.

To re-read or not to re-read, that is the question.
I love re-reading. It’s territory I’ve scouted before, but if the writing is strong enough, you can fall through again and be transported to a place you really enjoyed visiting. I have this wild idea to reread Stephen King’s entire bibliography in the order he wrote them, and see what I can learn from the evolution Master of Horror. All I need is an extra three hours in the day.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely, if it’s a premise that intrigues me. I have certain authors that are an auto-buy for me, of course: Jonathan Maberry, Mira Grant/Seanan McGuire, Gillian Flynn, Joe Hill, Julia Spencer-Fleming and of course the big names like Stephen King and Harlan Ellison – John Grisham if he’s in familiar territory, the courtroom. All of them have demonstrated the ability to send me through the hole in the paper, and that’s what I’m really after. If someone I trust recommends a book, I’ll give it a try, which is probably why my to-be-read pile is so high.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
I recommend books all the time, and try to keep up with reviews. I used to write a review column for the newspaper, and when it was canceled, I launched it as an independent blog. Unfortunately, time constraints mean I don’t post all that often, but I know the importance of good reviews for a book, and try to do so.

What do you look for in a good book?
Story and dialogue are key; if I’m not interested in the events unfolding or the people are speaking in voices I can’t really hear, I’m bored. Bored means I’m falling asleep, and I don’t get enough sleep anyway. So keep me awake with smart people and crackling dialogue, then give them something interesting to do. I don’t want extensive descriptions of his smoldering eyes and her lovely gown, and for some people that’s the kind of thing they really want. To each his or her own, as in anything this subjective.

Why do you write?
I write because the voices in my head told me to. I write because it’s what I was made to do, how my mind was constructed. I write horror because the things I see in the real world are so much more awful and yet mundane that I’d rather see something fantastic and terrible. It’s cheaper than therapy. But I have been writing ever since I could pick up a pencil, and probably before, making up stories in my head to entertain myself when I’m bored and telling stories to my little sister at night to help her sleep. You might as well ask why I breathe.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
I can’t imagine a circumstance where I wouldn’t write. If I lost my job and my publishing career, I’d write my novels and bury them in a trunk for someone to uncover someday. If I were stranded on a desert island, I’d make up the stories in my head and sing them to the canaries. If I suffered an injury or illness that robbed me of my mind and my ability to create, to form words… well, I think then I’d rather be dead, but that’s rather dramatic, don’t you think?

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Schenectady. There’s an idea service there that sends you a six-pack of ideas every week. That smartass answer is to be attributed to Harlan Ellison, who uses that answer every time he’s asked where his ideas come from. As he says, “Aristotle can’t answer that question.” They come from the ether, from Neverland, from the place between awake and asleep. I believe that just about everyone gets inspiration – those random creative thought-balloons that float through their minds when they’re stuck in traffic. The trick isn’t getting ideas. The trick is grabbing hold of them when they come, winding the ribbons around your hand and letting them carry you off to Neverland. When you learn how to harness ideas and turn them into stories you can share with others, you’ve become a writer.

What has writing taught you about yourself?
That I will never stop learning, and that I cannot ever do just one thing at a time.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
My husband is also a writer; we met first through a mutual friend twelve years ago, and later re-met when he published his first book and began the tour circuit. It is a wonderful blessing to share my life with someone who understands the insanity. My son is wholly unimpressed, since he’s grown up hanging out at book signings and helping to carry boxes of books. I think the rest of my family is waiting for me to set aside these vampires and zombies and write something in the real world!

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?
No. We’re all poverty-stricken, insecure drunkards. Well, at least it helps… In all seriousness, just about every stereotype has a writer or five who confirm the stereotype. Probably the only real misconception is the one perpetuated by Richard Castle: being a novelist means you’re a gazillionaire. Unless you’re James Patterson or John Grisham, you’ll be lucky to make a living. And when I say “make a living,” well… the last statistic I read said that fewer than 3 percent of authors make $10,000 a year or more on their books. So “poverty-stricken” is pretty much assured, as is the day job and/or the spouse who works for a living and has health insurance. As for insecurity and alcohol… let’s just say I’ve poured drinks for most of the small-press authors in the Midwest and the South.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
Their biggest challenge is internal: impatience. The ability to toss a book out onto the internet the instant you type THE END has given a lot of aspiring writers a fast-forward button, and the temptation to skip all that bothersome editing, submission and working with a publisher is very real. The problem is that most aspiring writers have a lot to learn, and they learn a great deal from that process, including rejection and wrestling with a recalcitrant editor over a comma. Skipping that process is the biggest mistake they can make, and so many of them do. Patience, grasshopper. Good writing eventually finds a home, and at the end of the marathon, it’s going to be a book you’ll be proud to call your own and a launch to a writing career.

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
If I’d known how wildly popular my zombie novella The Cold Ones would be, I wouldn’t have killed off so many characters! I’m famous for offing people in my books – c’mon, I’m a horror writer – but I did get especially bloodthirsty in The Cold Ones, because it was supposed to be a standalone novella. Then it sold out its initial print run in 48 hours, and by the end of the weekend I had a deal for two sequels. But even that I can’t really count as a mistake, because I count Blackfire (the sequel) as one of the finest books I’ve ever written, and I’m really looking forward to completing that trilogy.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?
I’m already up to my eyeballs in work as it is! I’m wrapping a space adventure that’s probably the pulpiest thing I’ve ever done, and just completed another short-story collection that follows up to my first print release, Setting Suns. After that I need to finish the Blackfire series, and then there’s the continuation of the Nocturne series, and there are three other standalone novels standing in line. I don’t need new projects, I need more hours in the day.

How do you deal with your fan base?
Fans are wonderful! I am always grateful and humbled when someone tells me that my work reached them. Stephen King says in On Writing that writing is the closest we’ll ever come to telepathy: I have an image or a character in my head, and I have only this clumsy mechanism of words to share it with you. The better I am at replicating that image in your head, the better writer I have become. So when someone tells me that my work made them cry or throw the book across the room, I’m delighted.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
I’m shy. Yes, really. I was a very shy kid, and I still have that wallflower tendency. I speak in public often and spend a great deal of time in large crowds, cocktail parties, panel discussions, and it takes a tremendous energy to overcome a natural introversion that tells me to go hide in my hotel room. But this is key: it can be overcome. It takes energy and knowing your limits. But if the girl who didn’t speak outside the house for days at a stretch can moderate a panel at Dragoncon… you can do it too. I swear.

Anything else we should know?
I run the author cooperative Literary Underworld, and several of us will be guests at Archon in St. Louis on Oct. 2-4. Guest of honor is Harlan Ellison, whom I have met once before. I hope to repeat my streak of not drooling on his shoes. If you have the means, do stop by the Literary Underworld booth and say hello!

Elizabeth Donald is a dark fiction writer fond of things that go chomp in the night. She is a three-time winner of the Darrell Award for speculative fiction and author of the Nocturne vampire mystery series and Blackfire zombie series, as well as other novels and short stories in the horror, science fiction and fantasy genres. She is the founder of the Literary Underworld author cooperative; an award-winning newspaper reporter and lecturer on journalism ethics; a nature and art photographer; freelance editor and writing coach. She lives with her husband and her son in a haunted house in Illinois. In her spare time, she has no spare time. Her latest release is Nocturne Infernum, a trilogy of vampire mysteries set in a dark alternate Memphis.

Website: http://www.elizabethdonald.com
Blog: literaryunderworld.blogspot.com
Twitter: @edonald

Book Review – Darkness With a Chance of Whimsey

TITLE Darkness With a Chance of Whimsey: Ten Years, Ten Stories
AUTHOR RJ Sullivan
FORMAT Paperback

Darkness with a Chance of Whimsey is a collection of ten pieces of fiction mostly already published in various places. As a collection, there isn’t much that ties this together. I mean, you can argue that he pretty much writes in the same genres, but nothing beyond that. Not saying it’s good or bad, but just saying it’s a thing.
Also, each story has an explanation from the author in front of them. I thought that it would annoy me, but I kinda liked it after all, especially since a lot of the notes talked about when and why he wrote the story. And they didn’t really add anything to the understanding of the story, which was nice; if you have to explain your story, you’re doing it wrong.

So about the stories. I’ll say a little, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you… :

The Assurance Salesman – A group of people on a train meet a mysterious stranger with an even more mysterious blue rose.
According to the note, this was his first published story and I can tell. I think that the premise was interesting, but I think that it had some execution issues. I’d like to see it more refined and as part of a longer piece. Solidly 3/5

Fade – College students Spencer and Anna go to her parents house and get caught up in what her dad does for a living.
First of all, Anna is your typical blonde idiot character, and I hated her from just about the first sentence. The stuff with her dad was cool, though, and I thought that this story really had potential. Still, I feel like the execution didn’t quite make it, so I’ll give this one a 4/5.

Able-Bodied – This one was actually interesting. There was a detective who felt like he was being held back by a whiz-kid detective who showed up, gave an answer, disappeared and that was it. It was a really cool setup, and there was a bit of a turn in the story that wasn’t anywhere my head was going at the time. I thought that it ended a little too abruptly, though, and with an info dump to explain it to another character in the story that made it much too long. 3/5.

I Remember Clearly – This was the author’s first piece of flash, and again, I thought it showed. There’s a really interesting premise here. But the author sort of shoved a couple vignettes together and called them a story. It needed a little something else to make it rounded, and I just didn’t see that something. 2/5.

Do Better – More flash. This one has a couple (young adults, maybe?) locked in an old church after a night of… well, you know.
I think the paragraphs need a little work – almost every one of them flipped points of view – but there was a really cool idea here. I really like this one, and if it weren’t for the paragraph breaks, I’d have given it top marks. 4/5.

Grammetiquette 2030 – The story centers around a piece of tech called the Grammetiquette 2030. As it is flash, I’d pretty much ruin the story if I told you what it did. For the story, the author basically showed us the character’s input and the machine’s output.
Um. Okay? I actually wrote in my notes “What is the point of this?” Again, we have another moment of something that had potential without follow through. I like what was done here, but I wanted this to be the catalyst of something bigger and not the entire thing, you know? Maybe flash just isn’t the author’s thing most of the time? 2/5

Inner Strength & Backstage Pass – Okay, I’m rating these two together because they’re both companion stories to his novel series.
Inner Strength is about a little girl kidnapped by a demon. It’s okay, but I feel like the transitions are a little bumpy and the ending was kind of expected.
Backstage Pass is about a superfan and his favorite singer. … The singer was every stupid cliche you’d expect to hear in a country singer, except I’m pretty sure she wasn’t a country singer. It was just annoying. It was a much better written story, though, so at least there’s that.
Incidentally, and the reason I put these together, I haven’t read the novels that these are supposed to be companions of. And based on these stories, I can tell you that there’s a demon, but I can’t even a little bit tell you how they come together. I would assume that you would get it if you’ve read the novels.
Inner Strength – 3/5. Backstage Pass 4/5.

Starter Kit – Poor little Belljy (no, really) had something go wrong with his creatures in a tank. I… I’m torn on this story. I mean, it sort of reads like a story about those sea monkey things that you sent in the order form from the back of a comic book and $1.50 postage and handling, except the names were changed to protect the innocent. I felt like I wanted to like this story, but I just felt like I was missing something. I’ll give it a 4/5

Robot Vampire – Note: I read this before in Michael West’s Vampires Don’t Sparkle anthology, which I gave a 5/5 review to. But I only know this because the author note says so. I really don’t remember the story.
The title probably doesn’t leave much to the imagination here, but I will say that the demon that they talk about is freaking awesome and leave it at that so I don’t spoil everything. The story deals with a Japanese family and has the feel of Japanese fiction. It’s the newest story of the anthology, and by far the best written. You’re supposed to lay out an anthology/collection with your strongest stories at the beginning and end (which doesn’t affect me because I don’t read these books in order ever), and he definitely ended with his best piece. 5/5.

In all, the collection is pretty short – it’s roughly 170 pages and read very quickly. (I read seven of the ten pieces in about 90 minutes the day I opened the book….) I know I have some pretty mixed feelings about some of the stories, but I guess this falls less into the category of a book you’d have to take seriously and more into the category of stuff you’d read as filler or between heavier novels.
He does have several other titles in print and e-Book, including two that tie into this, and I’ll say that while I wouldn’t seek them out, I also wouldn’t be opposed to giving this author another shot, which is a good thing.

I’m torn between the end rating. I think this book knows its place, and that’s a good thing, but it’s not the best out there by an means. Still, the average rating of the individual stories puts this just about at a 4/5, so I’ll agree with that.

Book Review – Alice in the Country of Clover The March Hare Revolution by Quin Rose

Title: Alice in the Country of Clover: The March Hare Revolution

Author: Quin Rose

Illustrator:  Ryo Kazuki

Published: 2012

Translated: 2015


It has been a while but I bring you yet another Alice story.  Since my last binge I think I have covered all Alice books but the latest releases which I am at the mercy of my library to eventually get in at this point.  Of course, knowing that I am a massive March Hare/Eliot fan, I have been chomping at the bit and salivating for this manga.  Then when you toss in the title and the content of past Eliot centric books I was certain that this book was going to be about Eliot’s past and how he broke the rules and shouldn’t be around but Blood rescued him.  (A lot of this is covered in country of Joker and in other Eliot centric stories.) Yet, this story was not what I expected it to be, not to say that it is bad thing.


The first thing that jumped out at me in this story was the fact that there is a lizard and a spider on Eliot’s scarf when it comes to the art work something that has been very subtle in the past if it has always been there.  It threw me off a bit but at the same time not enough to break the story for me to say the least.  What did throw me though was the art work, it was different than what I am used do.  Of course the characters are recognizable as always and of course I expect the art work to be different considering that it wasn’t Mamenosuke Fujimaru’s work as most of the books are.  However, there are artists who manage to come close to drawing similar to Mamenosuke while other’s fall short, such as Job who draws thinks long and lean.  Ryo Kazuki is another artists who does things differently but instead of long and lean Ryo goes more for a soft bubble look.  The hair instead of sharp angles as most manga I’m used to is, has a softer more curved look to it.  It threw me off for the first few pages.  Eventually however I got lost in the story and the art became second nature.  I do know that I did appreciate how clear emotions were on the faces of the characters giving the story added life instead of constantly having sound effects notate emotion, or ambiguous drawings that left me guessing at times (the latter of which Job is occasionally guilty of).


Anyway the story is of the developing romance between Alice and Eliot. There isn’t a lot of action, such as an epic plot to pull Alice away from her love or massively put her life in danger.  The focus of the story as on Alice and Eliot, as they spend time together and Alice realizes that there is more to her and Eliot than just friendship.  The twist and pull of the story that helps give things momentum is the fact that Alice is having dreams of her sister and is wavering on whether to stay or to go back home.  She is also frightened by the kind of dangerous life she would have if she stays with Eliot as he is the second in command of a mafia and they were attacked during one of their outings.  (Honestly I loved that bit as Eliot was so amazingly protective that it made me a little bit giddy.)


In the end the story was sufficiently cute though not overly heavy or dramatic in regards to romance, very light and airy.  Yet it was still rather good and sweet and I found myself giving out a sigh as I closed the book and content that only a very small portion was devoted to a preview of another story rather than a 1/3 of the story being devoted to a preview.  Over all I think I would give this book a 3 out of 5 pages.  While there are several Eliot centric books that are on my ‘wish to  own’ list (read as most – if not all)  this one will not be making the list.

Writer Wednesday – Peter Welmerink


Let’s start with the basics.  Who are you?

Welmerink, Peter.

Tell us (briefly) about you…

Quality Engineer by day. Family man by night. Writer whenever I can squeeze it in.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…

Most Epic Fantasy yarns until recent. BEDLAM UNLEASHED was the last Dark Fantasy piece I had written with Steven Shrewsbury. TRANSPORT is my foray into the Military Thriller/Action-Adventure genre. I have another Action-Thriller, RETURN TO STRANGE HOME also out now.

…and what you’re working on right now.

Writing this post for this blog and keeping my eyeballs moistened because I played MINECRAFT way too late last night.

What are your earliest book-related memories?

Harold and the Purple Crayon. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. So good I bought fresh copies when I had kids.

What are your three favorite books?

Of all-time? Conan the Barbarian (Howard). The Princess of Mars (Burroughs). Elric of Melnibone (Moorcock).

How many books to do you read at any given time?  What are you reading now?

I read sporadically, usually have a few going at one time. Reading now: GANYMEDE by Cherie Priest, and MARKETING WITH TEETH by Michael Knost.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___

I am usually interrupted by my wife, my kids, the cats, or the siren call of MINECRAFT.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.

A favorite book, yes, re-read. A freshly written manuscript of your own, yes, re-read.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?

Very, is the reason why I am reading Cherie Priest’s Steampunk novel series.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?

Very likely. I recommended to a fellow writer that he read Chuck Wendig’s THE KICKASS WRITER. I so much so recommended it that I gave him my copy to borrow.

What do you look for in a good book?

Something that garbs me, throws me into the adventure, gets me emotional tied, drags me along behind it and leaves me tired and breathless when finished.

Why do you write?

It’s a disease. It’s therapeutic. It’s my passion. I have stories to tell. Like music, literature is immortal. I hope my work can be found in a dusty, musty old bookstore when I am long gone from this mortal plane.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?

Perhaps a rock-n-roll singer and really learn to play the acoustic guitar that is collecting dust in my bedroom.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Things all around me. Other books. Other writers. Movies. Video games.

What has writing taught you about yourself?

That I can actually do something pretty damn fun and cool (writing) if I set my mind to it.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?

My oldest boy thinks its very cool. My younger kids, just go along with it. (They probably think me insane.) My wife: definitely thinks I am insane. My mother: wonders where all my weird writing ideas come from. (I blame my parochial school upbringing. LOL)

Are there any stereotypes about writers that you don’t think are true?

No, most people got us pegged appropriately…afflicted and possessed by the Muse.

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?

Anyone can publish their stuff, but not everyone realizes that you still need to publish something polished and coherent for anyone else to be even vaguely interested. That means usually an outside editor (non-family or friend-related), re-writing, more editing, pulling your hair out, and polishing the turd until it gleams. (And according to Mythbusters, you can polish a turd.)

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?

I tend to write very flowery, purple-prosey and in passive voice. I have learned to change this all by dealing with good editors who, after they red line the piss out of my manuscript, I read their comments and learn.

Is there a particular project you would love to be involved with?

I would like to get back involved writing Erik Bedlam material with author Steven Shrewsbury.

How do you deal with your fan base?

I conversate with them. Care about them outside the book stuff. I want them to be my friends, not just readers of my insane scribblings.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.

I like Strawberry Twizzlers, Ancient Age bourbon whiskey and Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Not consumed together, mind you.

Anything else we should know?

My website is www.peterwelmerink.com. My TRANSPORT and other action-adventure book forays can be found at: www.grandrapidsaltered.blogspot.com. You can find me on Facebook and Twitter. I just got killed by a Creeper in MINECRAFT.


Book Review – Found

TITLE: Found
AUTHOR: Selina Yoon
FORMAT: Board Book

FOUND is the adorably touching story of a bear that finds a lost toy in the woods and searches diligently to find the bunny’s owner.  First, he makes and puts up FOUND flyers all over the woods.  Then he spends a day having adventure after adventure with the bunny while making sure to take good care of it until the owner can be located.

Can I just say that this is the sweetest book I have ever read?

The story is straightforward, the illustrations are bright and interesting, and I loved the stuff put in just for adults.  (Check out the other found/lost posters, for instance…)  This exactly captured the essence of a little kid trying to do the right thing.

Do I even need to tell you?  5/5.  Buy it for every little kid in your life.

Book Review- The Sleep Detectives by Matthew Bieniek

Title: The Sleep Detectives

Author: Matthew Bieniek

Format: Paperback edition by Matthew Bieniek

Published: 2013


This review, in all honesty, is actually an older review of mine.  It is not one that has ever appeared here, but was posted once long ago on my now deceased personal review blog.  The reason it is being posted here, slightly updated to allow for the passage of time and new thoughts, is that due to a series of circumstances worthy of a fictionalization at some point when I’m really hard up for material, my previous blog is completely missing from the ether of the internet now, a vacant lot on the information superhighway.  The author has asked more than once to see this review, so after scrounging up the document I originally posted, I have decided to make sure he- and the rest of the world- sees it here.

Set in 1983, The Sleep Detectives focuses on Tony, who is a regular run of the mill type guy who works in a grocery store. That is, a regular guy who has the ability to use his dreams to essentially go back in time to watch past events as they actually occurred.  Using this strange ‘power’ to catch legendary concerts and such that he’s missed, Tony, with the encouragement of his two friends, Danny and Mike, decides to try to put this mental time travel to better use, to help others find things they’ve lost.  What follows is the development of not only Tony’s ability, but also his growing pseudo career of uncovering secrets and finding the truth while he sleeps.  Although this is not a high action adventure novel, Tony and his friends end up in a situation that places them and those they hold close in danger and have to decide if it is best to continue to use Tony’s gift for others or if he should go back to watching Jimi Hendrix in action.

The Sleep Detectives is an odd little book, and that is very good in this case.  It is quite honestly as if the author has put a camera into Tony’s world and just so happened to catch an interesting situation, one that he continues to follow, much to the joy of the reader.  Bieniek builds characters slowly, deliberately, revealing things about Tony and his buddies as necessary, not wastefully.  The author carries this skill even further by giving a vibrant life to even the most rudimentary of supporting characters, such as the bad guys involved and Tony’s boss.  This book is equal parts mystery peppered with the supernatural in a sense and slice of life/growing up in the 1980s.  All in all, a pleasant experience with just enough unique to stand out.

As far as the writing goes, the author’s voice is strong overall.  There are moments in the book that could be more intense, have more impact. Most of those relate to the actual danger that Tony and others find themselves in.  It feels as if the author is trying to make those events seem as commonplace as the rest of the ‘slice of life’ aspect of the book.  I understand that desire, but I think those scenes would have benefitted from a tighter narrative and more descriptive phrasing.

The Sleep Detectives definitely demands a 4 out of 5 pages from me.  It is most definitely a book anyone interested in quirky action and characters to match would enjoy.  Using my own scale, this book definitely gets 5 out of 6 bullets, only losing ground slightly during the scenes fraught with danger.

Book Review – Fables: Legends in Exile, Vol 1 by Bill Willingham

Title:  Fables: Legends in Exile, Vol 1

Author:  Bill Willingham

Illustrator: James Jean and Alex Maleey

Published: 2003


To start this review I have to make it known that I am a huge fan of werewolves.  You tell me a book has werewolves in it and you have my attention at the very least.  So when I heard about fables it was Bigsby who drew me in.  Bigsby is the Big Bad wolf from the fairy tales turned human and working as sheriff of the fair tale community known as Fabletown, which is located in New York.  When I first heart about Bigsby and Fables was actually via the video game series the released.  I have only played a demo of it but I fell in love with the concept, the story and the character Bigsby as he is a no nonsense kind of guy.


Though the story in the game is different than the story in the books it was still interesting as we follow Bibsby as he tries to solve the mystery of the murder of Rose Red the sister of Snow White. The story serves as a great introduction to the situation that is found in Fabletown, how the residents of Fabletown known as Fables. The mystery and intrigue keeps pace as the reader learns of the world and how Fables hide their true nature and how they came to be in our world, as they were forced out by one known as the Adversary.


The end revelation is rather good and the character are vibrant and real and the relationships between them are most intriguing.  This is a world I can happily get lost in.   Though, I think my favorite part of the book was a small section in the back that was in all prose.  It told of the life of Bigsby before he came to our world and gives some interesting insight into what happened to certain characters before the created Fabletown and why Bisby does some of the things he does in the main story.  The story crafted in prose is compelling and heart warming in some ways.  I would love to read more and will look forward to when my pocket books can afford me the next installment, or I can bum it off a friend who bought it recently.  Till then I shall wait and leave this review stating that this comic is a solid 4 out of 5 pages, with nothing but promise for future installments.

Book Review – The Sigh

TITLE: The Sigh
AUTHOR: Marjane Satrapi
FORMAT: Hardback
Translation: Edward Gauvin

As you might remember, I reviewed Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel, Persepolis, and its sequel, a while ago. So when I saw this book at my favorite used bookstore, I snagged it. I mean, first of all, I liked Persepolis (the sequel, notsomuch), but the book is hardback and full color and looked brand new. I splurged and spent $5 on it [note: I almost never spend more than $2 on something at my favorite used bookstore, so this was definintely a splurge. Books start at a nickel, so I could get this or I could get 100…]

Anywhoo… The Sigh is an old folk tale of sorts. It starts with a merchant who goes off and comes back with gifts for two of his three daughters. Although unable to otherwise find a blue bean for youngest, Rose, as luck would have it, she sighs and The Sigh, believing to be summoned, shows up at the door, the blue bean in hand. Dad, ecstatic to make his favorite daughter happy, promises anything in the world. A year passes. At the end of the year, the blue bean has grown 365 inches, leaves, and beans, and The Sigh appears on the doorstep, demanding the daughter. The merchant, of course, fights him, but in the end, is forced to stand by his word, and off his daughter goes.

I won’t explain the rest of the story, because, well, there should be some enjoyment for any of you that want to pick up this book. It reads like an old folk story, but I have no idea if it’s something that Satrapi wrote herself or just rebranded. In either event, she’s a graphic novelist, so I assume that this is done for the artwork’s sake at least as much as the story. The story was cute enough, and pretty typical folk story fare. You know, magic things are magic, creatures appear at random and nobody questions it, a guy watches a girl sleep and nobody thinks its creepy, etc. The art is Satrapi’s typical unrefined fare as well.
But together, they work nicely. The story is simple and predictable (which aren’t most folk tales?) but it’s a genre where we seem to know that going in. While the book’s cover price of $10.95 makes it a great little gift book, I don’t think it’s for everyone, so I’ll just give it a solid 4/5.

Book Review- Necroscope by Brian Lumley

Title: Necroscope

Author: Brian Lumley

Format: Paperback edition by Orb Books

Published: originally 1986, Orb Edition 2008


I must confess.  The Harry Keogh/Necroscope books are somewhat legendary amongst readers of horror/occult type works. That’s not the confession.  What I must reveal is that, while an avid reader at the time the series debuted and was initially popular, I did not read it until recently.  Not really sure before why I didn’t, it always appealed to me when I’d see it in stores, something else would just win out over it.  Now that I’ve finally read it, I can say that I can now offer several reasons I didn’t finish it and likely won’t read the remainder of the series.

For those unfamiliar, Necroscope is the first in a series from Brian Lumley. The book is billed as focusing on one Harry Keogh, a rather adventurous individual who has the ability to essentially mine the memories and minds of the deceased and utilize information gathered in said way.  The crux of the story is there is an evil being that is wheedling its way back into existence by using Dragosani, a Soviet agent who also has the same abilities Harry does, called necromancy.  The book is essentially the origin story of both Harry and Dragosani and the conflict that will arise between Harry and those known as Vamphyri that I am assuming is at the core of the entire series.

This book proved not to be a good read for me on more than one level. While Mr. Lumley seems to be an accomplished, even poetic writer, even conjuring connection to some of my favorite Pulp writers as I read, Necroscope on the whole is entirely too long.  Also, although the build up is that readers will get to see Harry Keogh develop and grow into this powerful necromancer, and you get that, that’s really a misdirection.  The majority of the first volume focuses on Dragosani and his origins and his connection to the beastie in the ground. And when I say focuses, I mean to the point that the majority of the first half to three quarters of the book is aimed solely at clearly defining Dragosani.  The snippets we get of Harry are short and instead of painting someone who has potential to be an occult warrior, the Harry we get to meet is rather a distracted dullard that seems to be sort of caught up in the everyone else’s world, his life being shaped by those around him due to his abilities more than himself at all.  I had very little investment at all in Harry and had wanted to read the book, the entire series, to get engaged in this great hero, not an issue ridden Soviet agent with mother country issues.

Combined with the skewed focus, the sections concerning Dragosani, and even the shorter sections focused on Harry, also tended to drift into boredom inducing, providing far more facts and minutia than was necessary to make these characters full and robust.   Also the framing structure used for the book, that of an individual in a clandestine agency being visited by a flickering ghost from the future and sharing the events of the book, may not have been cliche when the book was originally published, but it seemed heavy and pointless and forced upon my reading it today.

As mentioned previously, I did not even finish the book.  Having said that, I can see how this novel would appeal to some people.  I went into it expecting one thing and seeking that one thing as that is the sort of book I like to read, one with a hero who, though flawed, is clearly defined and engaging, and this book did not present that within the first 260 pages.   So, although I won’t be reading more Harry Keogh, I can honestly say that Lumley’s ability to write and the fact that this series has been so popular proves that this is someone’s cup of blood.  With that in mind, I give it a 3 out 5 pages.  Definitely not for everyone and I’m not the person to ask what I think about it.  Using my own personal gun associated measuring stick, This gets a 2 out 6 Bullets from me.  Worth the reading if it catches you in the first fifty pages, a waste of time if it doesn’t.

Book Review – Living Dead in Dallas by Charlaine Harris

Title: Living Dead in Dallas

Author: Charlaine Harris

Format: Hardback

Published: 2002


After reading the first Sookie Stackhouse book (as most people call it) I knew I wanted to read the second and shortly after reading and reviewing the first book I found myself rushing to the library to get the next book.  Unfortunately like took some unexpected turns and I was forced to stop reading it for a time and the conditions that caused me to stop reading caused me to not want to read the book.  Yet the completest in me very much wanted to finish the book so after a few failed attempts to borrow the book I picked it back up thinking I was hardly half way through the story to discover I was more than half way and finished in in a couple of hours.


The general story starts with Sookie discovering the death of a friend that was being pinned on Bill Compton who wasn’t to blame even if he isn’t her favorite person.  Of course while this is the setting for a good mystery there is more to the story than just that, in addition to this, Sookie and her abilities are are being sold and rendered to a Coven in Dallas where things take a turn for the ugly as she is forced to meet and face the anti-vampire community as they are involved with the disappearance of a Dallas Vampire.  Of course that disappearance is another mystery to be figured out by Sookie as she is a human and can investigate in day light hours.  Toss into this the fact that Sookie is having trouble with certain vampire characteristics of Bill’s creating some tension and there is also a maenad names Callisto causing some trouble as well.


In short, there is a lot going on in this book, though majority of it is set in Dallas where Sookie faces the Dallas coven followed by dealing with the anti-vampire community known as the Fellowship of Light.  In the end everything kind of ties itself up once Sookie is returned home and honestly I felt the conclusion of the death we see at the start of the book and some of the other issues was a bit rushed and trite – not to say that the general story wasn’t good.  I stayed at work extra just to finish the last chapter so it couldn’t be all that bad.  Also, if I hadn’t stopped and picked the book back up I may not have noticed this issue as much, so I will kindly give this book a 4 out of 5 pages and state that I do look forward to finding the time to read the next book in the series despite the fact that I have other books currently in my bag that need to be read first.

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