Thursday, June 30, 2011

Childhood Thrills (June 2011)

Childhood Thrills is a feature that recalls books I read in my childhood or adolescence that were special to me or "haunt" me in some way. I don't intend to re-read & review them, just simply share my memories and the feelings they evoke.

A Taste of Blackberries by Doris Buchanon Smith.

With the summer months here in our laps, I thought I would recount a book that reminds me of the season.  My teacher, Miss McConnell, read this to our 4th grade class.  I don't remember all of the characters, but I remember the sadness and the lessons and also that Miss McConnell was a little mysterious regarding this story.  My friend Susan and I quizzed her until we came to the conclusion that someone dies.  I remember walking home from school discussing it with Susan and we figured out that it probably wasn't the main character since it was written in first person.  I remember clearly that we joked about it, althought the subject matter was grim.  But we weren't laughing at the characters or the events, just that we couldn't envision the teller of the story saying "I died!"  Perhaps we were also laughing in order to make the tale easier to deal with.  We found a piece of humor so we grabbed onto it.

In researching this book, a lot of people commented that they have read it to their children to help them deal with death and have used it as a way to start conversations about the subject.  

Everytime I pick berries I think of this story.  This book for me, represents the saying about never forgetting how a person made them feel.  I don't recall all the events in A Taste of Blackberries, but I will never forget how it made me feel. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stoker Weekend 2011 - pt. 2 (The Panels).

"Horror is about fear."

Stoker Weekend had so many informative panels and workshops that it was very hard to choose which ones to attend.  Here are a few of the ones I went to and a few things I learned from them.

YA Resurgence Panel.
THE YA RESURGENCE  with Leah Hultenschmidt, Ellen Datlow, Jonathan Maberry, Lynne Hansen, JG Faherty and Lisa Mannetti.

I appreciated that the organizers put together a panel on YA at a Horror Writer's convention.  I thought it very pertinent in light of how popular it is. The panel commented that YA is a genre that hinges on trends. With the advent of Twilight romantic vampires became the rage then there was Hunger Games and dystopian followed.

When the article from the Wall Street Journal was touched upon and how that parent felt that YA is too dark, Jonathan Maberry articulated that kids see how the world is not perfect and they think about how they will get through it. They relate to “dark” YA books. Also, particularly with Dystopian stories that may be dark and brutal, they usually end with a note of hope.

When asked what attracts the authors to YA, Lynne answered that in YA, you can really get a feel for characters and the pain that adult novels may not get into. The panelists agreed that YA can make teens feel they’re not alone.  

Dacre Stoker.
This presentation that author Dacre Stoker gave on his great grand-uncle was thorough and enlightening. He went over the Stoker family tree and Bram’s background. Although I knew a lot of facts about Bram’s life, I felt the way Dacre put them all together in a cohesive way gave a great deal of insight to the legendary author. What I found interesting were the events that led Bram through his life and to the writing of his masterpiece.

Peter Straub & Gary Wolfe. 

I found Mr. Straub to be delightful, funny, good natured and friendly. He is also incredibly well spoken and smart. He discussed his role as Pete Braust on One Life to Live, his reluctance to do graphic novels (he didn’t want to work that hard) and how he was convinced to do one with Michael Easton (who told him “I’ll do all the work.”). Peter talked of limits and said they are imposed only by you and your imagination. I want him to adopt me.

Rocky Wood & Leslie Klinger.
MEN BEHIND THE MONSTERS with Rocky Wood, author of Stephen King a Literary Companion, Leslie Klinger as moderator and Dacre Stoker.

This was an in-depth chat about Stephen King, Bram Stoker and other horror authors and their works.  Peter Straub, who sat in the audience, also commented on Stephen King and how they worked together on The Talisman and Black House.  Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle was also mentioned and the panelist (sorry, I didn't note who said it) told us not to discount him as a scary writer.

The main advice in this panel for writers: "Absorb it all and make it your own.  Be a voracious reader."

Don D'Auria & Rocky Wood.
PERSPECTIVES: THE STATE OF HORROR with Don D'Auria (moderator), Rocky Wood, Norman Prentiss and Ellen Datlow.

Another informative panel where the topic was the Horror genre in today's literary market and how people view it. Ellen feels that Twilight and books like it are not horror, but romantic, paranormal romance and that there is room for both. “As soon as you get comic, it dilutes the fear, but the tropes are never going to go away.”

Norman feels that what makes horror, is the tone of the writing. He looks forward to the “bounceback.” Meaning, with so many books about romantic vampires he is excited when the trend will turn them back into scary creatures.

Norman Prentiss & Ellen Datlow. 
Ellen ended the panel with her thoughts on what will be the next trend.  "What will be popular next depends on the writer. If a writer has an interesting turn. It’s the storytelling that makes the difference."

Horror Blogging panel.
HORROR BLOGGING with John Cozzoli (moderator, Zombo’s Closet), Chad Helder , Scott Kenemore, Sally Bosco, Lisa Morton, Jonathan Maberry. (Please click on the panelist's names to check out their blogs!)

This panel was eye opening because after knowing why book bloggers blog, it was cool to hear why authors blog. Jonathan Maberry blogs because of the community he feels with readers and other authors.

Chad Helder blogs because of the community as well, but also because as an English major he feels a need to write about what he has read and viewed. But the audience, he said, is more satisfying than writing a college paper.

Sally Bosco, Lisa Morton & Jonathan Maberry.
The authors discussed the subjects they blog about, what they started out doing and what they are doing now.

Scott’s advice on blogging: “Don’t do what you hate.” 

The panelists felt that the negatives of blogging was that sometimes they felt like they were writing in a void and it is time consuming.  I think many bloggers, no matter what they blog about, can relate to that.  

Monster Mom Splosion panel. 
MONSTER MOM SPLOSION with Sarah Langan (moderator), Gillian Flynn, Stephen Graham Jones, Lisa Morton and F. Paul Wilson.

This was one of my favorite panels.  It was a lively discussion of mothers, mother issues and gender issues in horror. From The Ring to Carrie, from Splice to Alien.  Theories, thoughts and questions were explored.  It was a great discussion into the fascination of a bad mother in society.

Shades and Variations on Genre Roundtable.
SHADES AND VARIATIONS ON THE GENRE with David Morrell, Peter Straub, Gary Wolf (moderator), Gillian Flynn and Douglas Clegg.

This guest of honor roundtable was another favorite.  The authors discussed what the horror genre is based on and what it meant to them.

Douglas Clegg shared that horror is a part of life that people don't want to look at.  It's a "...journey into darkness that I don't see in other genres."

Horror is "free floating anxiety" Gillian explained and discussed putting a finger on the unknown.  She said that the " horror is when you can channel the fear to one specific thing in your life."  David added that the extra element is tone and that horror writers expose the unconscious.

Peter Straub had a lot to say on the subject, but to sum it up he concluded that "Life is a tragic business..." and he felt that horror is the best possible response.  "It is the deepest and most profound (genre).  Horror writers face the darkness."  

Night Terrors panel.
NIGHT TERRORS with Douglas Clegg (moderator), Sarah Langan, Peter Straub, Norman Prentis, Stephen Graham Jones.

After a great story from Douglas on how he discovered Peter Straub’s books, the authors talked about why they write horror and why they are drawn to it.

When asked why the supernatural/horror is so important, Stephen answered that it makes the stories more interesting and that there is something primal about it.  Norman feels that  "...people who pretend it's not there can get the ground taken out from under them."  Peter Straub summed it up by saying that writing books like that is tremendous fun, and they are fun to read.

Douglas Clegg & Sarah Langan.  
I appreciated Peter Straub's opinion when the notion of horror being looked down upon came up.  He told us that he is annoyed when people make a distinction between horror and literary.  I agree and I think that horror can be and has been beautifully written.  And, to be honest, I find it more interesting and fun than many literary works out there. Stephen added that literary should indicate the quality of the writing, not the genre.

Graphic Novel panel.
SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A GRAPHIC NOVEL with Rocky Wood (moderator), Joe Hill, Jonathan Maberry, David Morrell and Jim Chambers.   Okay, I have to admit, I have no desire to write a graphic novel. I just went to see Joe Hill. But to be honest, I learned a lot about the nature of graphic novels and how they differ from a written novel in terms of storytelling and how to convey what you want to say. Hill started out as a graphic novelist and after hearing his thoughts, I need to read Lock and Key as well as explore other Graphic novels.

There were many other panels, workshops, and Graveside chats.  I didn't cover everything I learned from this convention because this post may not have ended if I had done so.  Also, I didn't want to give everything'll just have to come yourself to Stoker Weekend next time.

Stay tuned for my final post on Stoker Weekend 2011.

Monday, June 27, 2011


Title/Author: Endurance by Jack Kilborn.

Performed by: Christopher Lane.

Genre: Horror.

Publisher: Briliance Audio. 

Source: Library. 

Favorite character: Florence.

Favorite quote: "If you take a deep breath maybe you can look around for a minute after I cut your head off."  ~One of the bad guys. 

SynopsisThe bed and breakfast was hidden in the hills of West Virginia. Wary guests wondered how it could stay in business at such a creepy, remote location, especially with its bizarre, presidential decor and eccentric proprietor. With the event hotel for the national Iron Woman triathlon accidentally overbooked, competitor Maria was forced to stay at the Rushmore. But after checking into her room, she quickly realized she wasn't alone. First her suitcase wasn't where she put it. Then her cell phone was moved. Finally, she heard an odd creaking under the bed. Confusion quickly turned to fear, and fear to hysteria when she discovered the front door was barred and the windows were bricked over. There was no way out. One year later, four new female athletes have become guests of the Inn. Will they escape the horrors within its walls? Or will they join the many others who have died there, in ways too terrible to imagine?
Please Note:  Some spoilers!

My Thoughts:  Listening to Endurance was like watching a B-Horror movie at a drive in. Although I had issues with this book,  it was a fun time with plenty of gore, thrills and unsettling characters as well as heroic ones.

The performance was spectacular.  Christopher Lane did an amazing job of differentiating between character voices.  The way he portrayed the bad guys was brilliant and very tongue in cheek.  I was laughing out loud at some of his interpretations.  He doesn't simply read the book, he acts it out and is very committed to the story.

Talk about chasing your characters up a tree and throwing rocks at them.  Jack Kilborne seems to do this with glee, almost never giving his characters a break.  The bad guys are so bad and disturbing they not only terrorize but they mock their victims as well. Kilborne also ratchets up the suspense by switching  character povs, just as something chilling is about to happen.

I felt that Kilbourne had some really strong characters.  I really like all of them (well except the bad guys). They are tough and tenacious without being over the top.  My favorites are Florence, the kick-ass grandma and Mal, the reporter who keeps his sense of humor under the most horrific conditions.

The gore and imagery is very disturbing.  One may argue that it is over the top and borders on torture porn. Kilborne went above and beyond in giving his readers a visceral reaction.  Although I may not have always enjoyed the more detailed scenes, they were certainly effective.  One I can't get out of my head is the tormenters putting old blood in the shampoo bottles for unsuspecting guests.

There were some plot devices that were a little convenient, but not too altogether hard to accept given the path of the story.  It's also kind of hard to believe that the events of this story could actually happen, but hey, the world's a crazy place.  There was also quite a bit of telling which I didn't think was necessary.

I also did feel that I had seen versions of this story before.  In fact it reminded me of the 1996 X-Files episode "Home" which according to was actually banned from Fox Television after its first airing.

Although a bit hokey, if you are looking for a gory, gruesome tale with strong characters and a touch of the silly and bizarre, this is the book for you.  Try the audio version, it's quite an experience.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stoker Weekend 2011- pt. 1

“The strongest emotion of horror is fear.”

(l-r) Rocky Wood, Vince Liaguno & Nanci Kalanta of HWA.
Stoker Weekend 2011 was fun, informative and just totally cool. I met great people, fangirled over authors and attended excellent panels and workshops regarding horror and writing horror. When I registered Vince Liaguno (editor of Butcher Knives and Body Counts) gave me a warm welcome and thanked me for mentioning Butcher Knives in one of my BEA posts.

The weekend kicked off with the Horror Writers Book Signing Extravaganza. I chatted with many authors, especially my favorites Douglas Clegg and Jonathan Maberry. Jonathan and I actually chatted about a mutual pal I didn't realize he knew, Chad Savage of  Sinister Visions, who did the art for one of his book covers.  Jonathan also asked about my own writing and was very encouraging. Peter Straub was in attendance as well, but I was too nervous to really talk to him except to ask him to sign my book and get a picture.

Here are some pics from the signing.  Stay tuned for more posts about the weekend!

C. Michael Forsyth.

Sarah Langan. 

Dacre Stoker (Special Vanguard Guest of Honor). 

Jeff Strand (Master of Ceremonies).

Angel Leigh McCoy.

Jonathan Maberry.

Me with Douglas Clegg (Guest of Honor).

Gillian Flynn (Guest of Honor).

Peter Straub (Guest of Honor).

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Title/Author: Feast: Harvest of Dreams by Merrie Destefano.

Genre: Urban Fantasy.

Publisher: Harper Voyager.

Source: Netgalley.

Favorite character: Elspeth.

Favorite quote: “…the moon wooed me with a dark song of Harvest.” ~Thane.

All in all: Not all of it worked for me, but it was unique and I couldn’t put it down by the end.

Synopsis: Halloween is a bad time to return to the woods . . .

Madeline MacFaddin ("Mad Mac" to fans of her bestselling magical stories) spent blissful childhood summers in Ticonderoga Falls. And this is where she wants to be now that her adult life is falling apart. The dense surrounding forest holds many memories, some joyous, some tantalizingly only half-remembered. And she's always believed there was something living in these wooded hills.

But Maddie doesn't remember the dark parts—and knows nothing of the mountain legend that holds the area's terrified residents captive. She has no recollection of Ash, the strange and magnificent creature who once saved her life as a child, even though it is the destiny of his kind to prey upon humanity. And soon it will be the harvest . . . the time to feast.

Once again Maddie's dreams—and her soul—are in grave danger. But magic runs deep during harvest. Even a spinner of enchanted tales has wondrous powers of her own . .

My Thoughts: I have to admit that I went into reading Feast with high expectations. I read Afterlife last year and absolutely loved it. I enjoyed Feast for the most part, but not as much as much as I hoped I would.  I had to ask myself if I compared Feast too much to Afterlife.  The answer is; "I'm not sure".  I admit I was looking for that same experience.  But the two books are like siblings, they have the same style and format, but are very different stories and therefore impossible to expect the same things from.

Although in Afterlife the surreal writing style seemed to lend itself well to a strange, uncertain and almost alien future, in Feast, it confused me a bit more. As I’ve said in previous posts, I don’t need everything spelled out to get the basics of a story, but I would have liked to be able to understand more.

What I do love about Destefano is that she doesn’t write like anyone else. It’s as if she’s presenting you with a puzzle and you need to go along with the ride. There were mysteries that were explained using language with more mysteries. I felt as if I were opening up box upon box to get to the truth. In this book, sometimes I liked this aspect of her storytelling because it is so compelling and other times I felt as if I didn’t get the answers I needed to understand what was happening.

The author created a new creature, a new legend. Their motives aren’t always easy to figure out, or their world, or even the curse that one of them is under. So don’t frustrate yourself by trying to fit them into a category of familiar monsters in our culture, just accept them and be scared, enthralled and mesmerized.

I understand a lot of people didn’t like the different points of view in Afterlife, and Feast is written in the same style. While it served the story, I wasn’t interested in all of the characters as much as others and I wonder if the novel would have been tighter if some people or creatures were taken out.

I did like Ash and Maddie, the two main protagonists. There is not much romance, but there is attraction and I have a feeling that thread will continue in the novels to come. I would have believed Maddie more if she showed more surprise to the events happening around her.  I'm sure there are people who calmly accept supernatural occurences, but since I didn't know her that well, I questioned that she accepted it. 

My favorite character however, is Elspeth, Ash’s daughter. She is not featured prominently but she had an integral role to the story. I thought she had an intriguing origin and I liked her voice the best actually. In the few chapters she had I felt like I got to know her and her character and became intrigued.

Even with the issues I had, I do want to point out that the last third of the story is when the action really picks up and I couldn’t put the book down. The language is also exquisite. The descriptions of the mountains, the night sky, even the creatures were beautiful and thoughtful. Destefano paints magic with words.

If you do try Feast, bear in mind that it is very different in style and format than most books out there. I believe that Merrie Destefano thinks outside the box and colors outside the lines.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (June 19, 2011).

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.  Please click HERE for complete rules and to check out other IMM posts. 

Technically I'm on book probation and should not have been allowed to buy any more books until I got my BEA pile down.  But I was lucky to be able to attend Stoker Weekend (June 16-19) and could not pass up purchasing a few to get signed by great authors in the Horror genre.  I think I can hardly be blamed.

Here is what I bought and got most of them signed.  Stay tuned for a re-cap of the event.   Of course, my evil cat had to check out the horror books.

1. Mystery by Peter Straub.
2. Fangboy by Jeff Strand.
3. Dracula The Un-dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt.
4. The Gentling Box by Lisa Mannetti.
5. In the Closet, Under the Bed by Lee Thomas.
6. Dweller by Jeff Strand.
7. Midnight Revelations by Karen M. Bence.
8. Hour of the Beast by C. Michael Forsyth.
9. Mordred, Bastard Son by Douglas Clegg.
10. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry.
11. The Keeper by Sarah Langan.
12. Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan.
13. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.
14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.
15. Ursa Major by John R. Little.
16. Vile Things: Extreme Deviations of Horror edited by Cheryl Mullenax.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Cryer's Cross.

Title/Author: Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann.

Genre: Supernatural/YA.

Publisher: Simon Pulse.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Kendall.

Favorite quote: n/a.

Synopsis: The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets

My Thoughts: This is a really fun book. It’s only about 200 pages (although I kind of wish it were longer, just because I enjoyed it so much) and the story really moves. The book is written in 3rd person, which is an interesting change of pace from most YA novels. Although maybe some may feel not as connected to a character using this pov, I felt it lent a certain quality that let you look in on the life of the Kendall as though through a lens. I think it served the story well. 

The mystery part is intriguing and keeps you guessing. It’s also very frightening and makes you look at each character in the book with a suspicious eye.  I also love how the mystery, the questions and the answers are not overly complicated or spun. It’s just a nice, simple supernatural mystery.

The language is young and real without being crass and the feelings of the characters are very relatable and believable. Another part I loved was the presence of parents in this book. Kendall is very close with her mom and dad and they in turn are supportive and present without being too intrusive.

I love the romance in this story too.  Kendall is working through her feelings for Jacian and Nico. Readers may guess where the book is leading and why, but I feel it isn’t clichéd. Kendall grew up in an incredibly small town and attends school in a one room schoolhouse. She never got a chance to meet and get to know many other people, much less other boys. The attraction and guilt felt by her are believable and understandable. A part of me was saying no, don’t do it and another part admittied that you can’t help how you feel. While I didn’t feel the romance is clichéd, I do feel that Jacian is a little predictable.

I also love how she explains her OCD and normalizes it. Well maybe doesn’t totally normalize it, but even with this quirk I really like her and how she explains this condition and what helps it. I love how it ultimately serves to give her clues to work with.

***SPOILER ALERT:  I really liked the fact that the supernatural aspect isn’t apparent all the way through. The reader finds out with the character. It’s a normal little place, with no world building or prelude to anything out of the ordinary. In other words, instead of the main character being psychic or having any kind of supernatural abilities, she is a normal girl thrown into strange circumstances. Even the circumstances themselves aren’t in your face. They are quiet and subtle, making them very eerie.  :END SPOILER ALERT***

This is a standalone. So, no cliffhangers and no questions. Everything is answered and tied up.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Winners of Get Your Steampunk On contest.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  Here are the winners:

1. The Bookish Brunette - Vampire Empire (signed copy).
2. Logan E. Turner - Vampire Empire (signed copy).
3. Fade into Fantasy - Vampire Empire.
4. Jaime - Phoenix Rising (signed).
5. In The Next Room - Phoenix rising (signed).

All winners were able to get their first choice and all books have been mailed out.  Enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Ghost Radio.

Title/Author: Ghost Radio by Leopoldo Gout.

Genre: Horror/Supernatural.

Publisher: Harper.

Source: Purchased.

Favorite character: Alondra.

Favorite quote: n/a

All in all: A little confusing, but creepy and had a good premise.

Synopsis: Emanating from the cramped bowels of a dimly lit station—the demented dreamchild of hip, melancholy host Joaquin—Ghost Radio is a sanctuary for sleepless denizens of the night lost halfway between this world and the next. A call-in talk show that invites listeners to share scary stories about vampires and poltergeists, it is a bona fide cult phenomenon. Joined in the booth by his darkly beautiful girlfriend, Alondra, and his devoted engineer, Watt, Joaquin masks his skepticism, encouraging callers to withhold nothing as they spin nightmares and grotesqueries they swear are true.

But the wall separating reality from delusion—the living from the dead—is crumbling because Ghost Radio is going national, picked up for syndication by a huge conglomerate. And no one—not Joaquin, Alondra, or Watt—is even remotely prepared for what's coming next . . .

My Thoughts: I loved the premise of this book. Listeners call in to a late night radio show and tell their ghost stories.  But something else exists within the radio signals and it has a price to exact from main character and radio host, Joaquin.

The events in Joaquin’s life seem to have led him to Ghost Radio. He lost many people throughout his life and I wondered if he is trying to make contact with them or just make sense of what happened. I think many people question the afterlife after losing a loved one. But is he battling with his own guilt or is something more insidious traveling on the radio waves?

Can the Spirit world can hear radio signals? Can they see the living through a window that is “Traversed through portals, through disruptions of things.” Is the “fabric of reality held in place by the tension that exists between the domains of the living and the dead?” These are all ideas that Joaquin comes in contact with along with other concepts of ancient civilizations. Yes, ancient civilizations. I know. Confusing. At least to me. I wasn’t sure and neither was the main character, if there actually is something supernatural occurring or if he’s going insane.

I sympathized with Joaquin to a point. He revealed a lot. I knew about his painful childhood and the people he lost, but there was something about his personality that didn’t make me adore him. His reluctant girlfriend, Alondra is a more interesting character, and although she features prominently, the reader does not hear from her POV much. I loved the chapter that told about her and Joaquin’s relationship from her perspective. It also showed Joaquin in a different light and let me get to know him better through her eyes.

My favorite parts of the book are the ghost stories that the listeners called in to tell. They were creepy, very clever and broke up the book nicely. Also interesting are the drawings included in the novel that correlate to a Polaroid diary recorded in his youth. 

Things seemed to speed up at the end, but I also got a little more confused, like tumbling down a hill and gaining momentum. The culmination, though, was very creepy, bittersweet and a pretty cool ending to a ghost story.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Wild Ride.

Title/Author: Wild Ride by Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer.

Performed by: Angela Dawe.

Genre: Thriller, comedy/horror.

Publisher: Brilliance Audio.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: Mab, Weaver , Fuhflunz, Cindy…too many to name!

Favorite quote: “You’re not brave. I liked that in a man.” ~Mab.
“The universe bends towards justice.” ~Oliver.
“You should see someone about that rolling eye problem. It makes you look rude and patronizing.”~Mab.
“Feeding on desperation gives me gas.” ~(one of the demons).

All in all:  Very funny and entertaining.

Synopsis: Mary Alice Brannigan doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Nor does she expect to find that Dreamland, the decaying amusement park she’s been hired to restore, is a prison for the five Untouchables, the most powerful demons in the history of the world. Plus, there’s a guy she’s falling hard for, and there’s something about him that’s not quite right.

But rocky romances and demented demons aren’t the only problems in Dreamland: Mab’s also coping with a crooked politician, a supernatural raven, a secret government agency, an inexperienced sorceress, an unsettling inheritance, and some mind-boggling revelations from her past. As her personal demons wreck her newfound relationship and real demons wreck the park, Mab faces down immortal evil and discovers what everybody who’s ever been to an amusement park knows: The end of the ride is always the wildest.

My Thoughts: I picked up this audio book to listen to because what’s better than scary Carnivals and Amusement Parks? This one has demons! Cooool! I was expecting horror and perhaps homages to B-movies of the 80s, but I got something totally different. Wild Ride has demons, sure, but it’s wacky, just wacky I tell ya’! I’m not sure if it would have read as funny as a print book, but the narrator does an AMAZING job. Her inferences of the characters and delivery is excellent and I have never laughed out loud so much during an audio book, or any book really. I did have trouble with her doing male voices at first, but then got used to it as the book played on. I do have to give kudos of course to the authors. The characters and how they act when put in these odd and dangerous circumstances, their banter, is just hysterical.

The main character is Mary Alice Brannigan, or Mab for short. At first, I didn’t really like her. I didn’t find her believable. She was too work oriented, too much of a loner and pushed people away and was always saying or thinking things like, “I don’t need people, I have my work.” And “I don’t do music. There’s no room for it in my work.” However, after finding out the reason behind this, it made a bit more sense to me.

Mab grew up kind of isolated and this led to her self-sufficient, sarcastic, snarky, personality and dry observations on what is happening around her, which are hysterical. When she finally accepts what is going on and that her life will be changed forever, she doesn’t lose any of her feisty behavior, but applies it to her new situation. Also, because of the new events in her life, she realizes that she has grown close to the people she’s working for and with. Some of it has been shoved upon her, but some of it has happened naturally. She becomes connected with the people at the park through their trials and tribulations and realizes that she loves them and they are her family.

There were a lot of characters, but the story was only told in about 3 or 4 points of view, with emphasis on the two main protagonists. There was one character that didn’t ring true for me (Ursula). She seemed very much a caricature, but perhaps the authors were staying true to the silly factor that seemed to be a thread throughout the book. Also, she is a minor character so this is a minor complaint.

The last third of the story seemed a bit bogged down to me, or maybe I was just zoning out while driving. I’m not sure if editing out parts would solve this, or explaining things more clearly, but towards the end I feel like the story began to be more cohesive again.

The mythology on the demons is also interesting. Nothing outlandish and off the charts, but simple and to the point. I also liked that a lot of questions the reader may ask, such as “Why don’t you just do a, b or c?” are answered. Clever and funny.

One thing I learned from this novel is that, whether human or demon, Hell really, really, REALLY hath no fury like a woman scorned.

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